Give Me More Monsters

I don’t usually talk about movies on this site. I mostly focus on writing, books, and comic books, but sometimes I see films that I just have to talk about. In this case, I watched the trailer for A Quiet Place 2.

I loved the first film. It was so exciting to see an original, threatening monster introduced in a big budget film. I feel like we haven’t had those in a long time, though they were a staple in many horror movies in the 1990s. Mimic and The Relic are two that immediately come to mind.

Often created with practical effects instead of flimsy CGI, the unique monsters that used to creep people out in theaters dwindled away in the box office. Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of incredible horror films. Get Out, Us, Midsommar, all of these have been incredible films in their own right. The horror genre in film has led to a horror renaissance.

So what happened to all the monsters?

Then A Quiet Place came out in 2018 and when I saw the first trailer, I was SO excited. This was a unique monster that didn’t hide details in the shadows like Lights Out, or be a human monster like in Don’t Breathe. These monsters were a constant threat, a true danger, and their strengths and weaknesses were well explained within the world. The characters had to modify everything they did to avoid them, and that’s honestly the kind of horror film I love.

Similar to Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend and Josh Malerman’s Bird Box, the world had to change to fit the monsters in it, and I feel like that’s a piece that is daunting to many writers. It’s difficult understanding how people would live differently, what choices they would make, what unique challenges they would have. I love that about those books, and it’s one of the reasons I enjoyed the first film despite its flaws.

The only question I had was how did the world get that way. That’s always the fantasy lover in me, that I seek answers to unanswered questions. I always want to know more about the world, though I admit that sometimes it’s fun to not know the answer too. I didn’t expect that explanation to be explored in A Quiet Place 2, and I certainly didn’t expect one of my favorite actors, Cillian Murphy, to pick up a major role in the film.

I’m looking forward to this resurgence of monster movies, of seeing unique monsters showing up in big hit movies, and I can’t wait to see where it goes. Just based on the trailer it looks like practical effects are still favored just like it was in the first movie, and that’s the kind of film I love.

If you haven’t seen A Quiet Place yet, I highly recommend it. And I personally plan to go opening weekend to see the sequel!

Review: Morsus

You all probably know how much I love Peter Salomon’s books by now. I mean I’m happily moving through every book that he’s published, and I don’t have a single problem with this. If you want to check out other books of his that I’ve reviewed, take a look at:

Finished: 11/24/2019

Let me start off by saying it is a crime that there are not more reviews of this book on Goodreads. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who has posted a review thus far and it deserves so many more!

The Morsus hide from the notice of humans. Some like the LaMontaine family hide in plain sight as part of the Louisiana police. Others like the Cromwells live in an expensive exclusive military compound completely insulated from human society. Morsus themselves feed off human adrenaline with their long, black claws. Their feeding can be addictive to adrenaline junkies, and deadly if they take too much. Morsus are also going extinct.

Lily Cromwell, the daughter of the ruthless Baron, lives with the expectation that as the youngest female Morsus, she must one day bear an heir. Her father forces her to train regularly and works with researchers to farm her eggs for experimental study.

Bayard (Bay) LaMontaine is a teenager having a hard time dealing with his new curse. His transformation is different from his parents’ and he soon runs into trouble at school.

Once the Baron discovers that Bay exists, he’s determined to have him wed to his daughter to continue the Morsus lineage. Only Lily will do anything to gain freedom from the demands of her father, and Bay quickly learns he’s not like other Morsus at all.

The world of the Baron and Lily’s rebelliousness gave me big Underworld vibes. Something about the Baron having a whole dedicated militia under his control just felt so similar to that world. This book started slow for me, but once Lily and Bay met, the action picked up quickly! About halfway through I had a hard time putting the book down cause I wanted to know what happened next! (Not at all unusual for one of Salomon’s books, I might add!)

I was so relieved to see this is book one of a series cause I still have so much I want to know! This was a very good book, and I think fans of the Underworld series would really love the style. As I said the first part is a bit slow to me, but I’ve read Salomon’s work before, so I knew my patience would be worthwhile.

Definitely a must read for a new breed of disturbing monsters. I can’t wait to read book two!

My Overall Rating: 5/5

The Bride of Glass by Candace Robinson

Finished: Friday, December 14, 2018

Candace is one of my fellow authors over at Parliament Houes Press. Knowing how much I loved book 1, she was kind enough to offer me a review copy of book 2 as well in exchange for an honest review.

My review:

So if you saw my review for Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault, then you’ll understand how quickly I sped through the first book in this series. (And if you’ve been taking notes on how often I review books, you’ll know that’s a rarity!) I don’t want to spoil anything, but book 1 had an amazing, unexpected ending, and book 2 picks up right where things left off.

I honestly wasn’t sure where Robinson could take it after book 1 based on where it ended. The whole situation was completely unexpected so when book 2 came along, I realized that I was along for one heck of a ride on this roller coaster and threw my expectations out the window. It did not disappoint!

One of the things that I loved with the first book was the wonderful mix of dark horror and old-school monsters. The array of creatures was just fantastic. Book 2 digs even more into these crazy monsters and I legit had to message Candace directly at one point because of one of the monsters that showed up. (Bonus points if you can figure out which one that was!) If you have so many wicked monsters, you have to choose how to handle the gore, and she did not skimp there! This isn’t a bland monster story, Robinson digs in with some visceral descriptions where you won’t be able to pull away.

I also love Perrie’s storyline. She’s the protagonist from book 1, and she carries the main storyline in book 2 as well. However she’s a very different person than she used to be. The events that occur change her in realistic ways and it was wonderful to see that portrayed. Maisie is still one of my favorite characters too, but I also grew an unexpected soft spot for Vale. I can’t say too much without dropping some major spoilers, but let me just say that by the end of it, I felt for all of them. It was quite an amazing read and a perfect end to this series.

What I consider a 5-star book:

  1. Is it a fun read? Definitely! I was grinning during some of the scenes because I just loved Robinson’s unique take on the characters or the unique monster that appeared.
  2. Would you recommend it to others? Yes, but especially to anyone who loves old-school monster movies. Or even fans of current monster films. You’ll get a kick out of this more than the average reader because you’ll get the references.
  3. Does it stick with you? Yes! Vale’s character in particular and his interaction with Perrie is going to be a pairing I’m going to reflect on for a long time. I felt like one of the biggest strengths in this book is the characterization of these two and you feel like you’re right there with them through it all.

My overall rating? 5/5

Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Yesterday R. Michael made a post, Blogging Lessons and Woes, about how it’s important as an author to write outside of your comfort zone. In his case, he was very referring to blogging. After a year of having his blog, he was shocked at how much he appreciated it. I’ve run this blog for almost six years now, and I can easily admit that it gets difficult figuring out what to blog about. (Doing the Blogging University challenge this month has helped, but more on that in another post.) I’ve come to accept that blogging is always going to be a challenge, but I’ve also learned there are far much more uncomfortable subjects to write about.

I’m a nature lover. As a kid I dreamed of growing up to be a veterinarian. I follow The Cornell Lab’s awesome newsletter, getting info on fun topics like how to build proper bird houses and where to place them in your yard. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw, nested in the comments, someone detail how they get rid of House Sparrows which are apparently considered pests in certain areas. Not only did they detail the method, but they also gave an estimate of how many birds they had disposed of over the past two years.

crowTrapsI was horrified but, being a writer, I wanted to know more. I live in the U.S. South, so I understand how overpopulation can become an issue. That’s why we have deer hunting season after all, and even though deer are my favorite animals, I understand how they can take over a place if left unchecked. I soon stumbled upon control methods for crows, using a disturbing but ingenious cage. I found out that they’re difficult to deal with because they’re just so darn intelligent.

One amusing comment from this video stuck with me, and I just had to share it:

I don’t have time to scroll through all 2768 comments at the moment but I have lived, treeplanting, in the woods with ravens on Queen Charlotte Islands, Canada and this simple test is nothing compared to the ravens stealing my lunch. Pardon me, my third lunch in three days.   Opening my click locks, then opening the zipper then pulling out the tupperware and getting the duct tape off of it to open it and then eating my sandwich. THEN flying by me on the side of a mountain to caw at me!!! Did I mention the cedar sticks and large boulders I put on the knapsack within which this prize was hidden? This was the third lunch they stole from me and after that I LEARNED to just leave them a freebie on the ground and they’d leave me my lunch.  I still shake my fist every time I see a crow. They are brilliant.

It’s amazing to me that we spend so much energy trying to capture and dispose of nuisance animals when sometimes we might be better off learning to live with them.

So yes, the story was very difficult to write and I’m pretty sure I was frowning the entire time I wrote it. However I think my disgust only made the story better. It took longer to write since I was putting so much energy into it. I challenged myself in a way I hadn’t done before, and I think the writing benefits from it. Of course, you’ll have to read it for yourself and let me know!

“Tiny Necks” is set to be released in Not Your Average Monster Volume 2  by Bloodshot Books on February 29th, but should be up for pre-order earlier than that.

People Want a Mystery

So when I logged on to Facebook this morning, guess what I saw trending on the sidebar? Something along the lines of…

Man takes picture of the Jersey Devil!

You can probably already guess the ridiculous photo that is associated with it, but I’ll send you over to the original article. Go take a peek, I’ll wait.

Pretty silly, huh? Other than the fact that it looks like a thrown stuffed toy, there’s another way you can tell this was faked. Instead of sending the picture to a scientist, he sent it to a news agency. Now if you took a photo of some crazy thing in the woods at night, or even in the day like this photo, would your first instinct be to send it to the news? Of course not, unless you thought you might get some notoriety/money/attention from it. Most logical folks would send any picture they legitimately believed was a new species off to a university, perhaps even submit it to cryptozoologists who are used to vetting this kind of evidence. If it was a picture of a new potential insect or bird, it wouldn’t have first been sent to a news agency.

Yet it was trending on Facebook, so that means plenty of people found it interesting enough to share it. Why do we find these stories of monsters hiding in the woods so fascinating? Why do we eagerly go to look at what the supposed Jersey Devil looks like? Why do we hunt for Bigfoot footprints, long lost sea monsters, and vampiric squirrels even when we know it will more than likely be a waste of time and energy, or at least not live up to our grandiose expectations?

tufted-squirrel-featSeriously, the vampiric squirrel did not live up to expectations!

Perhaps in this increasingly understood world, where we can glimpse beautiful photos of Saturn’s rings (that you at first think must be Photoshopped because surely nature couldn’t produce something so perfect), where we can use pencil lead to wire circuitry, where we can carry a device to communicate around the world in our back pockets, people want a mystery. People want to look at their surroundings and see more than just trees or buildings around them, they want to see the potential for something different, something beyond the familiar. That isn’t to say that the world isn’t full of mysteries waiting to be solved, or locations that have never been explored, but it’s much easier to toss a homemade toy into the air and have a friend snap a picture than it is to become a deep sea explorer.

So like the famous hoaxes of the past, I’m sure this one will soon be debunked too. I just wish they had gone somewhere other than the news media first though, because this kind of press always makes cryptozoology look bad in the public eye.