The Angel’s Game – Just, Wow.

This morning, as I sipped my tea and curled up under a soft blanket on what has to be one of the comfiest couches known to man, I finished another masterpiece by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

The first book that I’d ever read of his was The Shadow of the Wind. I fell madly in love with Zafon’s prose even as a teenager and I urged  anyone who would listen to read it. Zafon has such a poetic way with language that I can only dream about possessing.

This time, I read The Shadow of the Wind‘s predecessor, The Angel’s Game. Another book about an author writing a book, gee I wonder why I relate so much…

Anyways, The Angel’s Game took so many twists and turns that I honestly had no idea where I was headed, which in my opinion is the best kind of writing because it mimics how life unfolds.

This novel is dark, unfathomably dark both in visualization and emotion. Zafon tears at your heart strings while strumming a low frightful tune on them simultaneously. The characters whom my heart went out to were destroyed, those I disdained blackened me, those that I was unclear on never stopped surprising me… I had trouble putting it down.

There was a moment where I was ready to slap Zafon, however. It appeared that he was going to go with the “it’s all in your own head/schizophrenic” route and I was ready to scream… such an amazing novel, so beautifully articulated and put together and he was going to pull a Chuck Palahniuk?! But, then Zafon came through and made it all this own and I sighed one of the biggest sighs of relief. 

This novel is amazing, as is all the work I’ve read by Zafon. If you haven’t already picked his work up, do it.

There was one quote that literally brought me to tears. The main character, David is describing books to his assistant, Isabella as a farewell.

Every book has a soul, the soul of the person who wrote it and the soul of those who read it and dream about it.”

That hit home for me, because it’s something that I’ve always believed but never been able to articulate. I suppose I am just like Senor Sempere in the novel, I live for the souls of books.

Do read Carlos Ruiz Zafon. There will be no regrets. So, keep reading dearest reader.


I think you’d better.

So, I have this habit, this terrible habit really, of reading the back cover or jacket of a book and then purchasing it. Usually, I end up with a great book and I’m completely happy with my purchase. But, once in a while I experience extreme buyer’s remorse. This is one of those times.

I picked up Grow Up by Ben Brooks quite some time again but never really got around to reading it. I should have left it on my shelf. grow-up

Normally I admire most people who finish writing a book and apparently Brooks has published five books including this particular travesty. This book is so poorly written. I felt like I was reading the journal of an eleven year old boy who was trying to sound sixteen. It was painful.

Now, the cover says “Makes you snort with laughter” -Noel Fielding. Personally, I love a good laugh, heck if a snort is involved all the better! I found no such part of this book funny.

Usually in a book with little plot the author focuses entirely on character development. I’m sorry Brooks, you have no such thing in your book. The ONLY development I noticed is that the socio-path of a main character figured out when it’s not a good time to have an erection. I feel like I need to hit Brooks over the nose with a newspaper.

This “novel” (for I cringe to give it that title), is about a self-centered, asshole of a teenager who’s always smoking, getting high on whatever drug he manages to get his hands on,  trying to fuck every girl in sight, and to top it all off thinks his step-dad is a murderer. Some how he does manage to sleep with girls, but being a female myself I can’t help but think, “who in their right mind would EVER sleep with this kid?” Jasper, the main character, is not charismatic, not witty, or affectionate, or loveable in ANY way. Even if you’re a girl who opens herself to any passer by you’d still be iffy about this one. Brooks, I did not buy into your story one bit.

This book is just Brooks peddling his teenage fantasies and calling it fiction. Don’t misunderstand me, I know very well that teenagers get up into all kinds of dirty, nasty, drugy things. But this is just too much.

On the book jacket it even says that Brooks was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. My reaction: “WHAT?!”

I always worry that when I get around to writing something it wont be good enough to be published. But it publishers are stooping to publishing this kind of terrible writing then I have no worries for my future.

Please, spare yourself the pain and avoid Grow Up. I know my copy will be in the nearest Book Donation bin within the hour.

Part III

I scramble to my feet as the sea of dead walk, twitching, towards me. I push Gia behind me with my free hand as I return my blade to my belt and grab for my shotgun. I aim, but don’t fire yet. The noise attracts them.

The dead advance slowly, this means they haven’t eaten in a while. This also means that their determination will be relentless. Lovely.

Gia is sandwiched between Sal and me as I back up towards the fence. Keeping my eyes on the hoard in front of us I softly say to Sal, “perimeter?” Sal takes a look on all sides.

“Surrounded,” replies Sal with clear fear in his voice. Great. Before the garage front is out of view I notice that the door is askew but not large enough to fit a person, the possibility that it’s empty is unlikely but promising. We need to get in the garage.

“Gia, watch the front.” I feel her pull her gun and aim at the advancing mass. I scan all four sides looking for a thinning in their ranks. I feel panic crawling up my neck, trying to ease into my thoughts, but I push it down. I don’t have time to for that, not now. It’s not just my life I have to worry about, not anymore.

There’s a gap next to the garage side, and a window! Maybe someone up there is on my side for once. It looks to be solid, closed tight. But, a solid smash of my rifle butt should clear it. The window is high, just out of my reach. At 5’6 I’m not exactly short but in this case it makes me just shy of what I need; Sal is a solid 6 feet, he can reach it!

The dead are closing in, we’ve got a few feet between us now, it’s time. “Sal, the window that’s our route. I’ll clear the path you and Gia get in there. I’m right behind you.”

Sal doesn’t wait, he doesn’t hesitate to run after my first shot, I reduce the head of one of the dead to mulch. The others pause for a second, giving Sal a moment to rush in, I shoot three more and a path is clear to the window. I run in behind them and face the crowding mass. I take out one more then I hear the breaking of the window behind me.

Gia is still only 5’2 so Sal pushes her up and through. For an old man he’s retained some muscle, this makes him useful, I knew keeping him around wasn’t the stupidest of ideas. Hope begins to gestate in my mind, we’re almost out. I hear Sal behind me as he scrambles to get himself through the window. I back up against the wall and reload, fast. As I cock my shot gun one tries to lunge at me, his head is gone mid stride. They’re getting closer, I take two more shots. “Sal,” I take another shot, “Sal,” there’s only a foot between me and the semi-circle formed around me, “SAL!”

I feel a hand grab my shoulder, it’s warm, a good sign. I smash the face of one more coming at my with the butt of my shotgun, then turn and hop grabbing the window’s ledge. I jump, but my feet make it half way up to the window. I feel a hand grab my boot, I shake it off then use its head as a step up and dive into the window as Sal pulls at my shoulders to get me in.

I’m flung onto a tower of crates, as I take a deep breath I hear two pops from Gia’s gun. Shit. My adrenaline kicks into gear once more and I swing my head to see what she’s dealing with. The hands of the dead reach at my from the window, but they’re not all tall so only a few try to grab at me, I take a step down from the crate tower and I’m out of reach. Pulling my shotgun to its ready position I scan the garage for the dead, paying attention to little else.

Gia seems to have taken out the only two that found their way in. I didn’t want to stay and find out how they did.

I look around the abandoned garage and a slight flicker of relief, no more than that, a smile forms at the corners of my lips; a hummer that looks to be in good condition sits in the middle of the garage.

Dead hands pound on all four sides of the structure we’re incased in. I don’t hesitate to jump off the crate tower, “Sal find fuel and pack it into the trunk. Gia find anything useful and do the same, fast!”

As the two begin to scurry around the garage I head for the locked cabinet at the far corner of the garage, a gun safe, my favorite. The lock seems to be untouched. I reach into my jacket and pull out my lock picks. Placing my body between the lock and Gia or Sal’s view I have the lock open within seconds. You’d think the military would lock up their equipment better. I pull the door open and find four rifles and ammunition. I toss the ammo into my pack and haul the guns over to the open trunk.

The dead are getting louder, more desperate. I hear the crack of Sal’s rifle and spin to attention. There’s a break in the side wall, they’re getting in. Gia throws a few choice items into the trunk and hops in the back seat. Sal loads up two more canisters of gas and slams the trunk shut. He takes another shot at the dead coming through the gap attempting to fill the hole with bodies. I do the same, one final shot and the hole is half full, how oddly optimistic of me.

I jump into the drivers seat tossing my pack in the back and realize I have no key. I check the sun visor of the car, but no key. I sigh, knowing my next move will be cause for explanation later. I quickly shove my head under the dash and pull out the wires. I begin to fiddle with them until I hear the engine gasping for life. After multiple tries the hummer won’t start. Shit.

Part II

I take a deep breath as I prepare to throw open the steal doors above me. I hear the groans get louder behind us and Sal’s panicked breathing. Gia steps closer to me and I know that she can see the dead coming towards us. I tense my muscles and push as hard as my strength will allow. The door creaks and light bursts in through the crack, I push once more and throw my arms upward. The doors swing open crashing to the ground on impact. The sound resonates through the bunker and I feel Gia push up against me from behind.

“GO!” yells Sal from behind.

I look back, Sal has his back to us and his hunting rifle at the ready. I grab my shotgun from its holder on my leg and ready it as I burst into the sunlight above me.

I scan the perimeter with Gia on my heals and Sal backing out of the bunker behind her. A rare moment of luck hits, there are no dead in the back yard of the bunker. I break into a sprint with Gia and Sal behind me. The stairs have bought us time; the dead have trouble with them. As we approach the chain-link fence that encircles the yard I search for a door, but our lucky moment is over.

I look back at my companions, “Up!” I shout. Steps away from the fence I holster my shotgun and jump at the fence. It reminds me of cop shows I used to watch as a kid, an odd thought to be having while trying to outrun the living dead.

Gia has no problem jumping onto the fence and scrambling to the top. Both of us wait for Sal, one leg thrown across the top. He’s not as spry as he once was. As he nears the top the dead are closing in on the fence, my pulse rises as I watch them reaching for Sal’s hiking boots. I grab his arm and pull him with whatever strength I can muster. Sal’s feet escape the groping hands of the dead by mere centimetres.

Sal clings to the bar at the top of the fence, leg’s dangling just out of reach. I swing my right leg over to join the left and jump from the fence. It’s not exactly a short fence, but the impact wont be too hard on my joints. As soon as I hit the ground I realize Sal wont be able to make the jump, he’ll have to climb. More time out in the open, more time exposed, more time to be found.

Gia follows suit and lands next to me. “Keep watch, I’ll help Sal,” I say to her. She nods and scans our surroundings. Sal awkwardly slides his body along the bar to position his legs on the other side. The dead try to shove their hands through the chain-link, but they’re too clumsy to get more than a finger through. Any cut can spread the infection so I avoid their nails.

Once Sal’s hiking boots reach my hands I help him lower himself. Finally he gets to a height where it wont hurt him to jump down. “Jump,” I tell him. He hesitates, taking in a deep breath. He lets go. The hesitation bothers me; it’s a lack of trust. Frustration wells up inside me, I’ve saved his life countless times now and he still isn’t sure about me. Old men are stubborn, and I always question whether saving him was to any benefit of mine.

I spin and turn my thoughts back to the situation. Food is running low and we need a new place to stay. Woods to our left, highway to our right, and a garage in front of- garage! Military cars and fuel! Have we finally caught a break? How did I not notice the garage when we entered the bunker? It doesn’t matter now, “head for the garage.” I tell the others and take off in a sprint.

I head for the corner of the building to find the doors, my heart in my throat with excitement. I round the corner and almost collide with one of the dead. He swipes at me, I duck and pull out my knife from my belt, severing his Achilles. As he falls backwards I ram the blade into his ear, redundantly killing the dead.

Gia squeaks behind me, before I look up I pray that I have killed the only dead in our way. I turn my head up and see that our luck was dead and walking the moment we stepped out of the bunker.

Part I

I hear them. They’re coming again. Their empty steps, they’re tepid groans that replace the comforting inhale of the living. They’re always coming. I thought this time we had covered more ground, I thought we had more time.

I tighten the laces on my knee high army boots, as I fling my feet over the side of the cot. I slip my small, double barrel shot gun into the make-shift holster on the outside of my right leg. I swing my four inch knife into my belt and load my hand guns into their holsters which hang next to my ribs. Nothing fits right these days, we don’t have much of a choice.

I hear the soft groan and realize they haven’t smelt us yet, at least that’s how we think they find us. Personal hygiene is somewhat of a luxury now. Even I have trouble coping with the smell. But the senses weaken when you die, they need to be close to smell us. This time we’re in a bunker, the smell must not be getting through. It would seem that they just wandered in, perfect.

Once I’ve equipped my arsenal I wake the others. No need to rush if they haven’t found us yet. First I wake Sal, he always takes longer than anyone to rouse. I shake the aging man’s shoulder, “Sal,” I say in a whisper. The man groans and brushes a hand along his uneven, knife-cut beard but doesn’t wake. I shake him harder and speak directly into his ear. “Sal, get up. Sal, it’s migration.”

Sal’s eyes open in a panic, he scrambles to get to his feet causing the cot to squeak. The absent minded groaning which alerted me to their presence turns and is directed our way. I grab Sal by the mouth and arm squeezing until I’m about to draw blood. Sal froze.

“We haven’t been found yet,” I say. “But they’re here. So keep your panicking to yourself and get your shit together. I’ll wake Gia.”

As Sal makes attempts at quietly packing his things I walk over to Gia’s cot. I stroke her shoulder. She opens her eyes with a soft moan of annoyance.

“Gia, it’s migration.”

The fourteen year old girl looks down at the floor and sighs as her dark hair falls over her face. I back away as she flings he sneakered feet over the side of her cot and beings to pack her backpack.

I swing my green army duffle over my head, hanging it from my back. Sal fills his old hiker’s pack and clicks the straps into place across his chest, rifle at the ready. Gia tightens the straps of her backpack, pocketing her switchblade and loading her hand gun. Sal was skeptical about giving a fourteen year old girl a gun, but after a few lessons with makeshift ammunition her shot has become quite accurate.

The slow shuffle and groan of the dead came from the front entrance of the bunker. We dawn our usual formation, me in the lead, Gia behind me, and Sal bringing up the rear. I lead the other two to the back door of the bunker, which is proceeded by a narrow stair case. At the top of the stairs the doors out are directly above us. The doors are thick steel and it takes me nearly all my strength to dislodge them. I’m going to have to use all my strength to throw them open, causing a substantial amount of noise. Not knowing exactly what awaits us on the other side of the door makes this a terrible escape route, but the alternative is waisting ammunition we don’t have and most certainly risking our lives. There isn’t much time to think about it, I hear the shuffling feet behind us find purpose and quicken, they’ve caught our scent.


I’ve done it again.

I’ve started ANOTHER novel idea. I haven’t even hit half-way in my first novel which I’ve been working on sporadically for over 5 years!

Muses, why must you overcome me with a million different ideas? Is it too much to ask you ladies to just give me enough motivation and inspiration in regards to the first, unfinished project? It would appear that the Muses are just as unpredictable as most women. Although, I’m sure to them their actions make perfect sense.

Today, I started something. Something much darker than I thought was in me. I didn’t realize how this would come out, I thought I would turn it around at the last moment, end up making a joke of it. It came out too dark to be any joke. This heroine’s strength is unique, nothing that I’ve encountered in any of my others.  She’s not someone I could ever relate to on any deep level, and yet I want to see her survive, I want to see her fight, I want to see her win. She has more strength than I ever would in her situation. Where did she come from?

I surprised myself today, I don’t ever remember such a shadow in my writing, such a linger gloom. I don’t know where it was going or where it will end in the future, all I know is I want to see this nameless girl survive, I want to see her live. I want to give her the chance anyways.

Dark, as you would expect it to be.

I had intended to finish reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson a few days ago, but life got in the way. Anyhow, I finished reading it last night. I’ve read Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” many times, and it’s some what of a high school classic.

ImageJackson has a very dark way of writing, however the darkness is all in her style rather than her diction. When taken apart, her work doesn’t sound all that dark at all, but some how she pieces it together to create a chilled feeling throughout your body. As I read, I had predicted the answer to the burning question, “who put the arsenic in the sugar bowl?” I had my suspicions, and they were confirmed but Jackson was able to play off the shadow of a doubt that I had about my theory.

Jackson is a terrific writer, her eerie tone makes this novella a great quick read if you feel like being creeped out and looking into the mind of quite a different kind of girl. Her style reminds me a little of Poe, but not as depressing.

I absolutely loved the way Jackson had her main character Mary Katharine, or Merricat personify the things around her. It was beautifully done.

I would recommend this novella to anyone looking for a good quick read. It’s only 146 pages, or at least the version I have is.