Awesome book cover Friday: Idoru

Wow, May’s over already? Crazy!

Today’s book cover selection is Idoru by William Gibson. I picked this up recently at Half-Price Books. Love, love Neuromancer, so I thought I’d give his other works a chance.


Here’s a description:

21st century Tokyo, after the millennial quake. Neon rain. Light everywhere blowing under any door you might try to close. Where the New Buildings, the largest in the world, erect themselves unaided, their slow rippling movements like the contractions of a sea-creature. Colin Laney is here looking for work. He is not, he is careful to point out, a voyeur. He is an intuitive fisher of patterns of information, the “signature” a particular individual creates simply by going about the business of living. But Laney knows how to sift for the interesting (read: dangerous) bits. Which makes him very useful–to certain people.Chia McKenzie is here on a rescue mission. She’s fourteen. Her idol is the singer Rez, of the band Lo/Rez. When the Seattle chapter of the Lo/Rez fan club decided that he might be in trouble, in Tokyo, they sent Chia to check it out. Rei Toei is the beautiful, entirely virtual media star adored by all Japan. The idoru. And Rez has declared that he will marry her. This is the rumor that brought Chia to Tokyo. But the things that bother Rez are not the things that bother most people. Is something different here, in the very nature of reality? Or is it that something violently New is about to happen? It’s possible the idoru is as real as she wants or needs to be–or as real as Rez desires. When Colin Laney looks into her dark eyes, trying hard to think of her as no more than a hologram, he sees things he’s never seen before. He sees how she might break a man’s heart. And, whatever else may be true, the idoru and the powerful interests surrounding her are enough to put all their lives in danger.

Do you guys like it? Hate it?

Postscript: The legend of the wendigo

Postscript is a new ongoing feature here on the blog that explores themes raised in the books I’ve read and reviewed. My first is a follow-up to Rick Yancey’s The Curse of the Wendigo, which presents one version of the wendigo monster myth.

I encourage you to suggest other books or topics you’d like me to discuss in the comments.

The Wendigo - CharmedI’m a junkie for television shows on Netflix. My most recent addiction is Charmed, which I used to watch as a teenager. (Don’t judge me.) I must have started viewing the show later in its run because boy, are some of the characters (cough cough Andy) and events of the first season confusing considering what I know. [Update: Scratch that. I thought Ted King and Julian McMahon were the same person. They look EXACTLY ALIKE.]

The other day, I came upon the episode “The Wendigo” — which is, surprise, about a wendigo. This monster (pictured left) was more like a werewolf, but whatever. Anyway, it was an interesting episode for me to watch so soon after reading The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey. The only trait that Charmed‘s version of the monster shares with the one in Yancey’s book is a heart of ice.

In The Curse of the Wendigo, the wendigo is a creature so thin that it’s almost invisible. It ravenously consumes but, unable to sate its hunger, only grows more emaciated. It calls out the names of its victims on the high wind before it attacks, ripping out their hearts and tearing the skin from their bodies.

The Charmed episode provided a good explanation for the organ removal that fit well with Yancey’s story: the wendigo commits this act because it suffers from a broken heart. So it’s all about love, as usual.

I started to wonder: what’s the real folklore of the wendigo? The legend originates from the Algonquian Native American peoples. The heart of ice is a common characteristic, and the creature either feeds on human flesh or possesses someone, turning them into another wendigo.

But there’s also a medical term called “Windigo psychosis,” which describes cannibalism as a result of delusion. It typically affected families in winter — a period of little sunlight — who spent too much time in isolation due to snowfall.

Swift RunnerThe story has roots in Canada and particularly Ontario and Alberta, such as with the Swift Runner case. The wendigo is considered an embodiment of evil, and Swift Runner — who butchered and ate his wife, six children, mother, and brother though he was not malnourished — afterward expressed considerable remorse at his actions, believing them to be the work of a demon.

As for the monster itself, some believe the wendigo to be a relative of the bigfoot. When it claims someone, that person undergoes physical changes, such as lip swelling and a persistently low body temperature.

John Chanler, the character in The Curse of the Wendigo, went through a transformation as well before he became a deranged killer. His behavior appalled him though he was unable to stop. And Piper Halliwell in Charmed became one when a wendigo scratched her (more like a werewolf, see?). She broke out in cold sweats and experienced uncontrollable anger — with lots and lots of swearing.

Besides The Curse of the Wendigo, you can find the monster in Algernon Blackwood’s short story of the same name (available on Project Gutenberg for free), which introduced the wendigo into horror fiction, as well as in Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, Jean Zimmerman’s The Orphanmaster, and much more. It’s also appeared in television shows like The X-Files and Supernatural.

Awesome book cover Friday: The Lowest Heaven

Happy Friday! Today’s book cover pick is The Lowest Heaven by editors Anne C. Perry and Jared Shurin, available June 13.

The Lowest Heaven
Below is a description. You can learn more about the book here.

The Lowest Heaven is a new anthology of contemporary science fiction published in partnership to coincide with Visions of the Universe, a major exhibition of space imagery at the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

Each story in The Lowest Heaven is themed around a body in the Solar System, from the Sun to Halley’s Comet. The stories are illustrated with photographs and artwork selected from the archives of the Royal Observatory, while the book’s cover and overall design are the work of award-winning South African illustrator Joey Hi-Fi.

So what do you think of the cover? Is this something you’d be interested in reading, too?

On the high wind: a review of The Curse of the Wendigo

“In the name of all that’s holy, tell me why God felt the need to make a hell. It seems so redundant.”

The Curse of the WendigoMonstrumology is the science of dissecting truth from superstition — or debunking myths altogether. In The Curse of the Wendigo, it specifically involves understanding and maintaining humanity in a world of monsters.

I really liked The Monstrumologist, Rick Yancey’s first book in the series, when I read it last year, and I’m ashamed it took me this long to pick up the sequel. It was, most assuredly, well worth the wait. I’m only saddened to learn that after the next book, The Isle of Blood, there’s just one more (The Final Descent releases in September). Of course, a fourth book almost didn’t happen at all.

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Awesome book cover Friday: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Bit of a late post today, but I really like this cover. It’s for Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami.

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
Anyone know where you can find this exact version?

Here’s a description of the book:

Japan’s most widely-read and controversial writer, author of A Wild Sheep Chase, hurtles into the consciousness of the West with this narrative about a split-brained data processor, a deranged scientist, his shockingly undemure granddaughter, and various thugs, librarians, and subterranean monsters–not to mention Bob Dylan and Lauren Bacall.

What do you think?

Awesome book cover Friday: Irregular Creatures

Happy Friday! Today’s book cover pick is Irregular Creatures by author Chuck Wendig.

I love cats, so … yeah.

The book is 99 cents on Amazon and actually sounds pretty cool:

Contained within are nine stories featuring bizarre beasties, mythological mutants, and overall “irregular creatures” – including flying cats, mermaids, Bigfoot, giant chickens, and mystic hobo hermaphrodites.

It also includes stories about a radioactive monkey (cocktail … which I’m guessing doesn’t end so well for the imbiber) and a zombie that won’t die.

If anyone reads this, let me know how it is! I’m actually quite tempted to buy it, but I have a couple other books that are taking priority at the moment. This is only 45,000 words, though, so I may get it anyway.

Enjoy the weekend!

Our tragic flaws: a review of The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our StarsCancer is a disease that most of us bumble through the world caring little about until we encounter it for the first time. I don’t mean in textbooks or television commercials but in a fellow human being. Once it affects someone you love, you see it everywhere, an unseen force that Won’t Stop Taking Lives.

I was lucky. My family’s experience with cancer, which has been quite personal, was tame compared to what it could have been, to what I know it can do and how quickly and unfairly it can kill. I’ve seen it reduce people to shells in a matter of months, robbing wives of husbands and sons of mothers. Not that something else, like a car accident, makes any sort of sense either, but cancer is a cruel sickness: what’s ruining a person’s life is life itself — cells that grow in a way they shouldn’t.

So first, The Fault in Our Stars is a coming-of-age novel. Secondly, it’s about cancer. And also love. Someone’s going to die, and you’re probably going to cry.

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When e-readers trump books (and vice versa)

E-readers are better when:

1. You want to hold a cup of tea and read at the same time without cramping your hand.

2. You’re reading in bed and want to keep your arms warm under the covers.

3. You’re on the go and can’t pack a dozen books to take with you.

Actual books are better when:

1. You find them used somewhere — because discovery is half the fun.

2. You want everyone to see what you’re reading, especially if it’s massively long because ooohh, or you want to turn pages and smell them because aaahh.

3. They’re signed.

Or, if I need to throw something at someone, I’m definitely not going to hurl a $300 device.

Why do you prefer one or the other?

Awesome book cover Friday: The Girl Who Fell to Earth

This week’s book cover selection is the memoir The Girl Who Fell to Earth by Sophia Al-Maria.

The Girl Who Fell to Earth

Here’s a description:

When Sophia Al-Maria’s mother sends her away from rainy Washington State to stay with her husband’s desert-dwelling Bedouin family in Qatar, she intends it to be a sort of teenage cultural boot camp. What her mother doesn’t know is that there are some things about growing up that are universal. In Qatar, Sophia is faced with a new world she’d only imagined as a child. She sets out to find her freedom, even in the most unlikely of places.

Both family saga and coming-of-age story, The Girl Who Fell to Earth takes readers from the green valleys of the Pacific Northwest to the dunes of the Arabian Gulf and on to the sprawling chaos of Cairo. Struggling to adapt to her nomadic lifestyle, Sophia is haunted by the feeling that she is perpetually in exile: hovering somewhere between two families, two cultures, and two worlds. She must make a place for herself — a complex journey that includes finding young love in the Arabian Gulf, rebellion in Cairo, and, finally, self-discovery in the mountains of Sinai.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Any special reading plans? I finished The Fault in Our Stars last night, so expect a review from me soon.

Kiss and kill: a review of Plague Nation

Plague NationLet me introduce you to Dana Fredsti, the creator of a smart zombie meta-fiction meets steamy gore-stained-clothes-be-damned romance called Plague Nation. It’s the sequel to Plague Town (here’s my review), which was my favorite book from last year. I thought a zombie novelization would be stupid. I was dead wrong.

Now, I love zombie movies. It’s easy to react to the horror of blood and guts when it’s splattering all over the screen. Reading about it is less visceral, in theory anyway. But Fredsti knows how to squeeze words for all their disgusting worth, and she even establishes a community with fellow film aficionados by playing off famous movies through her characters — mostly an elite class of virus-resistant fighters called the DZN, who have received a top-notch zombie education in order to do their job: picking the streets clean of flesh-hungry walkers. So they cite zombie flicks a lot. Gotta have some fun amidst all the depressing carnage, right?

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