Lenni Reviews: "Lost Boys" vol 1 by Tim Seeley

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is best for mature audiences

In the follow up to the 1987 movie, we meet the Emmerson Brothers Sam and Michael. After defeating the vampire monster, Max and his buddied, the brothers thought their lives would go back to normal. But a coven of female vampires calling themselves the Blood Belles targets them for revenge and their lives are once again overturned with blood and violence.

Before we get into it, I have to admit I was not the biggest fan of the original movie. I didn't dislike it but I didn't feel the need to watch it more than once; which always shocks people who learn I write vampire fiction. After refreshing my memory, I found this book enjoyable. It picks up right where the movie left off, ups the stakes (no pun intended) and tells an entertaining story. The color palette and art are perfect for this genre to keep the mood haunting and dark. The character Believer had me rolling my eyes with his over the top speeches but otherwise, this book is cool. If you like vampires and love the movie, I think this is worth the read. I give it a solid 3.8 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "The Devouring God" by James Kendley

**This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.**

Ghost hunters Takuda, Mori, and Suzuki are sent to investigate some mysterious and disturbing calls made to a local mental health facility. As the case goes on, they notice the clues come to them way too easy. Bodies start piling up all leading to a mysterious and evil artifact.

This book does a great job setting an atmosphere of tension and mystery. The writing is competent enough to give you a real sense of Japan (in 1993). It was intriguing to see the characters change the longer they do this treacherous job; as if corrupted by the very evil they are hunting. Our three main characters work off of each other well in a delicate balance of annoyance and loyalty. Endo - the villain - talks like The Architect from The Matrix; pontificating in a way that even makes other characters snap at him to get to the point. I gotta say, Endo is MUCH less annoying and makes WAY more sense than The Architect so it wasn't completely painful to read his little speeches.

On the whole, this book is written well enough that I didn't feel I was missing information from the first book in this series. The ending is left quite obviously open for a new story so while the immediate problem was solved; you're left curiously unsatisfied. The over-arching evil is still out there. If I come across the next one, I'm intrigued enough to want to pick it up as this one was an enjoyable, supernatural horror. 4.5 out of 5.

For more reviews, check out Haunting Hypatia.

Scooby-Doo Meets Famous Horror Icons

If you don't know by now I' am huge horror nut! I love all forms of horror from videogames, music etc. One of my favorite horror sites ShockTillYouDrop.com had a very interesting post. Artist Travis Falligant has created some very cool illustrations featuring Scooby-Doo and horror icons. Check out some of his work below and support his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/IBTravIllo.

Lenni Reviews: The Walking Dead Fall of the Governor Part Two

In the continuing saga of some heretofore unknown desire to torture myself, it was with a heaving sigh that I picked up the fourth and final book in this "trilogy."

If you are just joining us, here is one, two, and three.

This last installment is the assault on the prison from the Woodbury resident's perspective. If you've read the previous books and/or the comics, it's pretty clear how The Governor has a stranglehold on the town and can get them to do whatever he wants so reading about how he got people from the prison, tortures Michonne, and Michonne getting her revenge but how The Governor manages to survive Michonne's attack is interesting. You get some more insights into Bob Stookey and Lilly Caul but even then, the whole thing falls flat. I still can't reconcile Lilly's transformation into The Governor's perfect soldier but this book does provide some back info as to why Lilly freaked out after (this should NOT be spoilers by now!) killing Lori and Judith. Personally, shooting unarmed women with babies is just wrong in and of itself but yeah, the back story is nice to know.

I don't want to give too much away but I will say the book does not end with the assault on the prison. You do get to find out what happens to Lilly and Woodbury in the aftermath of The Governor's death. It should not have taken four books to say what could have been said in a wicked cool side comic ("Re-Rise of Woodbury" perhaps?) and that is in the last 50 pages or so of just... Meh. All of it just feels like a deflated balloon. Things are wrapped up and explained but there's little punch to it. I will say, the writing stays on the level of Part One; to the point with plenty of gory zombie killin and 'splodin brains. If you don't like gore (then you're reading the wrong franchise) you may be turned off by all the muck here.

If I were to sum up all four, I would say the average fan could totally skip these and be just fine. If you're dying to know what happens to Lilly after the prison? Borrow book four and start at chapter seventeen. The books are jerky and boring. I didn't hate this one, I didn't roll my eyes, I'm even short on my usual biting sarcasm here; I just yawned a lot. Save your money for the comics.

Can't get enough of Lenni's writing? See more here.

Lenni Reviews: Another by Yukito Ayatsuki

I picked up this manga from the bookstore randomly and in yet another sweet twist of fate, it was a freaking awesome idea. Another is a creepy, beautiful read.

The story is set in 1998, when Koichi Sakakibara transfers to a new school and as all we manga fans know, is cause for shenanigans. The legend of this class is there was once a student named Misaki who died in an accident. The class was so devastated, they pretended she was still there. A nice coping mechanism if you can keep it up but at the end of the year, the dead student appeared in the class photo. From then on, there always seemed to be an "extra" in the class a student who didn't exist before and cease to exist after. Horrible tragedies would befall the class til this "extra was found." If they don't know who the extra is, the students and the teacher create one, selecting one student in the class to completely ignore as if he or she was not there. This year's selection is Mei Misaki.

Not properly warned, Koichi is determined to make friends with Mei despite the vague mentions from his classmates. When accidents start happening, Koichi is determined to find whoever may be the "extra" causing the deaths around him before he falls victim himself.

At first I was a little annoyed the kids around Koichi didn't just flat out tell him what the deal was but when you think about it, you really just can out and out tell the new kid "Hey there! Nice to meet you! By the way, our class is cursed." so we can let that slide. The manga has a slow, creepy build I can appreciate rather than the in-your-face sort of scares from more gory horror. It is genuinely sad and scary to watch the kids and adults crack and break under the stress of finding the "extra" person and ending the disasters. 

The art may seem initially like standard manga fair but Kiyohara does a masterful job of integrating both cuteness, drama, and fear into what you're seeing on the page. The story is just complex enough to keep you interested with very few side tracks to distract you. By the end, you are left with a very satisfying ending and a wonderful example of how complete Japanese horror manga can be. Now, I picked up the omnibus edition from Yen Press for $29.99, which was a bit of an ouchie for my wallet but I can see myself reading this more than once. I enjoyed this manga and I recommend it to any fan of a good slice of creepy/cute goodness from Japan. If you give this one a chance, friends, you won't be disappointed.

Lenni Reviews: Will O’ the Wisp by Tom Hammock and Megan Hutchison

I have been devouring horror manga and comics like a nut so I was glad to have Will O' The Wisp by Tom Hammock and Megan Hutchison come across my... Ok, not my desk but my tablet. Same thing, right?

Will O' the Wisp tells the story of 12 year old Aurora who's parents have recently died and she is put into the care of her grandfather. The moment she is even invited to the bayou that is his home, the magic begins, as she is told to only arrive at a certain moon phase and hour. Then as bodies start to turn up, the local hoodoo woman Mama Noonie's magic and traditions surround her as Aurora tries to unravel why people are turning up dead, why the isle is cursed, and the secret behind the strange blue lights appearing in front of her.

I was intrigued by this book. The art is very fitting for a true bayou magical mystery; haunting and sharp. There were some very abrupt skips in the story in some places but the low hum - not unlike a bass playing -  of the story pulls you right back in. I found the entire experience to be a lot like a dark coming of age story as the past meets the present and magic runs amok.

If some of the transitions were smoother, the book would be a perfect creepy read. Once you get passed that, there is a wonderfully drawn gothic story of a smart girl and her plucky raccoon sidekick moving in a darkly magical world.

Lenni Reviews: Dr. Sleep by Stephen King

As a fan of Stephen King's work, I am certain my fangirl-ish squeel of glee could be heard far and wide when I heard Dr. Sleep came out. As a sequel to The Shining, I was super excited to find out the fate of Daniel Torrence, the child with the Shining gift now all grown up.

A recovering alcoholic; Danny works as an orderly in a hospice, using his gifts to help comfort the dying and earning the nickname Dr. Sleep. As he gets his life together, he starts to receive messages from another with a talent like his own; a young girl named Abra Stone. Abra's abilities are so strong, she attracts the attention of a group called the True Knot; who feeds off children with the Shining. The two of them must battle to stop them from devouring Abra and continuing to hunt these special children.

This book is best read if you have read The Shining first; although it stands alone as a perfectly thrilling book. Unless you read the first one, you won't get the REDRUM and Daniel's alcoholism provides much more of an emotional punch when you read in the first book about his father.

Simply put, I could not put this book down. I am such a fan of King and his writing that I have actually avoided reading his books for awhile because then I'd have to go and read 10 more; some of which would be the second or third time I've read the book. Abra is an amazing little girl; a character I wouldn't mind reading more about in the future. The True Knot are pretty damn terrifying and I had a white-knuckle grip on my tablet, anxious to read what comes next. (see here why I read this book on a tablet because the physical book was too big to carry around)

Dr. Sleep really gets to the point even though it comes in at a whopping (well, not whopping for King, anyway) 544 pages. I am thankful for this because King can really delve into detail which is great sometimes but... Let's just say I never made it through the extended cut of The Stand. There was so much back story, I hadda give it up. And while I won't spoil the ending, this King fan can safely say it is a very satisfying conclusion. This book is a very worthy successor and I do truly wonder if we will hear more of Abra in the future.

Lenni Reviews: The Walking Dead: Fall of the Governor Part One

Like many, I tuned in for the premier of this season of The Walking Dead and as is very unlike me, I was physically in the room for the commercials. If you noticed in the title of this review, the trilogy has suddenly been transformed into NOT a trilogy. I noticed this in the commercial for the book and promptly lost my shit. Like many who pre-ordered this book (I had it on reserve since my last review) my first thought upon seeing "part one" was "Gee, thanks for the shameless money-grab." It's the most blatant act of bait and switch I've ever seen and as a fan, I am straight up insulted. This is precisely why I take full advantage of my dayjob as a librarian: I can screen a series to see if it's worth my money to own them. Sometimes it is, sometimes it's not.

This is a case of not.

That being said, once I got over the "sticker shock" and got the book in my hot little hands; I remembered what a very wise teacher of mine said in high school about going into something with your mind made up beforehand. I opened to page one with an open mind.

No, seriously. I left my extreme anger and sarcasm for the first two books behind. And that was really hard, believe you me. This book comes in at a mere 245 pages; which leaves little room for a realistic transformation of Lilly Caul.

Fall of the Governor picks up not long after Road to Woodbury. Lilly still hates the Governor, he still doesn't trust her, and Woodbury is still lead by a creepy bastard who keeps zombie heads in fish tanks and a zombie girl on a leash in his house. Lilly goes on a couple raids and she seems to have he right attitude of it not being play time and you need to watch your ass. But her switch from "this guy is out of hand" to "gee, I think he has the right idea because the world is harsh and cruel" is so sudden, it is beyond belief. If the character straight out says "I think it's Stockholm Syndrome" (I'm paraphrasing here but Lilly used the term), the transition was too abrupt. It was forced to comply with the assault on the prison we all know is gonna happen.

Other than that, I have to admit, this book is MUCH improved over the previous installments. If you've read my reviews of those, that's not saying much but the fact remains. The writing in the beginning is "take this guy's thesaurus away" drab again but when the novel meets the comic, it picked up in quality. The cynic in me believes it's because the world was already built; you just hadda transcribe the events in the comic. But you can still screw up that part and Bonansinga didn't. Kudos to you, sir.

Even the new angle of the story coming from the other side of the coin, as it were, isn't enough to separate the novel from the comic. You've read the comic, you know what happens. The side story with Lilly and her new boyfriend(?) Austin is forgettable. Glen and Maggie are a better couple to watch, in my opinion. Besides, who wants to hear them muse about their relationship when you get to read the prose version of the Governor and Michonne meeting face to face. That was the best writing I have seen in this series so far. Keep it at that caliber, and I may not hate the next one from first glance.

As I finished the book, I did check out some other reviews and to sum up, I agree with them; it's a cheat. It's not fair to split up the conclusion this way and these books do NOT live up to the promise of the comic books or the show. They are forgettable at best and cringe-worthingly bad at worst. I am only looking forward to the last book to say I finished the series. Because, let's face it: We all read this story already. And it was better the first time they told it.

Can't get enough of Lenni's writing? See more here.

Lenni Reviews: The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury

I love you guys. No, really, I do. And you better love me, too, for reading this book when I had a feeling it would be just like the first one.

Road to Woodbury suffers from the same problems as Rise of the Governor; uneven writing, cliche zombie tropes, thin characters; the works. Now, if you want to read this book or haven’t read the comics (which really, if you haven’t dafuq you doing here?), there will be spoilers for both in the review because I just can't properly express what bothered me about the book without giving away some details.

I’m serious.

Spoilers here.

Last chance...

Alright, here we go.

This novel follows Lilly Caul as she tries to survive the aftermath of the plague and ends up in Woodbury. At least the title here is accurate; there is a road and Lilly uses it to get to Woodbury and does so WAAAYYY earlier in this book than the Governor became the Governor in the first book. When Lilly gets there, she is instantly aware there is something rotten in Woodbury (bonus points if you get my Shakespeare reference). The Governor is in full on evil fuckwit mode and creepy from word one. How the wimpy asthmatic from the end of Rise of the Governor vanished is never told. But there he is in all his murdery, rape-y, heads-in-fish tank-y glory as if he was plucked from the comic, NOT from the first book.

So, there’s a time lapse. Lenni can be down with that. But not a single character drops a clue the man was anything other than complete evil from the moment he was put in charge. I get the feeling I arrive in Woodbury like this:

And also, he spends exactly two random pages having a sob session over the monster he has become. It was out of place. All of a sudden, he spends two pages out of 288 to lament how he has become a monster like his brother, Philip, in order to survive, despite the fact he hadda kill his brother and thereby Philip didn’t survive. He literally pauses to cry about being a murdering fuckwit then immediately goes back to being a murdering fuckwit. It was completely out of place and I didn’t feel any sympathy for him. I was annoyed and just wanted him to go back to killing things to make it stop.

Lilly despises him from the start (like Michonne does in the show) and wants out. She hatches a plot to kill him, it fails because: zombies. Then inexplicably, the Governor does NOT kill her like he did pretty much anyone else who looked at him funny and she vows she’s gonna kill him one day. You heard me right: The villain who tortured Michonne for biting his ear off, keeps his zombie niece (or "daughter" in the show) as a pet, does a crappy job of chopping Tyreese's head off, and kills people on a whim for the lulz lets Lilly live after she conspired to kill him and failed. Does not compute!

My other problem with this? At no point in the comic does Lilly seem to outright object to anything that happens till she finds out she’s shot a fleeing woman with her infant (Lori and Judith). And I went back to the comics and checked. Twice.

To sum up my issue: the entire book, Lilly despises the Governor and can’t want to kill him yet in the comics, she had no problem rolling up to the prison at his side. And if she was just going along for the ride for the chance to kill him, it STILL doesn’t jive because she spends the entire novel whining about the deaths of innocent people. She’s got a lot of collateral damage on her hands if the whole plot was to somehow kill the Governor in the prison. It doesn't make sense to me how "Lilly" who failed to kill the Governor in the novel and "Lilly" who killed Lori and her baby are the same woman.

I am no perfect writer. I am sure there are cliches, typos, grammar mistakes and dangling plot points in my books but something like this was like a flood light to the eyes. If you're going to transmit your property to another medium and say it's a prequel, not an alternate universe, at least have it make sense.

I didn’t want to throw the book this time but it did give me a headache. On the plus side, it read faster than the first book and the descriptions of zombie mauling and oozing, decayed flesh are enough to make you grimace. But at $24.99, I expect better. No, I DEMAND better. Because the collected comics come in at $14.99 for the volumes, $34.99 for the big books, and $59.99 for the compendiums, there needs to be more bang for my buck. More happens in any of those comics to warrant the prices than in the hardcover novels.

Well, at least it’s over and there won’t be another one.

Aww, shit...

Book Review by Lenni - “Now A Terrifying Motion Picture: Twenty-Five Classic Works of Horror Adapted From Book to Film” by James F. Broderick

Ever have this argument while walking out of a movie theatre?
“The book is better!”
“No, it’s not! The movie was way better!”
Then the conversation degrades into a series of grunts and clicks unrecognizable to any but the purest book or movie geek.
With so many books being adapted to film; “Harry Potter,” “Hunger Games,” and (may the literary gods help us) “Twilight” – not to mention the recent hemorrhage of comic movies – I’d wager you all have had or overheard this argument at least a dozen times in the last few months alone. This book takes you through 25 classic horror movies and their book counterparts in order to reconcile the two.
From Amityville Horror to Village of the Damned, Broderick takes you through the history of the book and its impact on the horror genre to the movie and the differences in the imagery in the movie as compared to the film.
For all of these titles, if you haven’t read or seen the source material, you’re getting full summary of each one. This can be tedious if you’ve already seen the movie or read the book but there are always cool little factoids about the authors, actors, or directors you may not have known before.
From a scholarly perspective, this is an interesting read. The discussion of the transformation of a printed story to film is fascinating; especially when you get into the mind of a man like Alfred Hitchcock or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Learning about the author’s style versus the director’s style and how the tension in the book is placed on the screen is fascinating, though it may drag in some parts of the book.
I would best recommend this book for very rabid fans of horror in any form. If you see a movie and not care about anything but what’s on the screen in front of you for 120 minutes, this book will bore you. However, if you want a detailed discussion of your favorite horror films and books, Broderick’s book is not a bad place to start.