Welcome to Woofer's Lair. Curious as to what you will see here? Well, for the most part, you will find book reviews, maybe the occasional movie review, and if you are lucky, you might stumble across one of my own works in progress. If you like what you see or what read, and even if you don't, please feel free to leave your comments. As I am somewhat new to blogging, all of your constructive feedback is appreciated. Have fun and thanks for stopping by.

Wicked Seasons

Wicked Seasons
My short story, HUNGRY FOR MORE, is included


Joe Hill's NOS4A2

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Burning My Passport, Never to Return

The Traveling Vampire Show marked my third trip into Laymon Country, a trip I swore I would never make after my second venture, The Cellar, but I was urged to pick this up by a friend because it was unlike any of his others. Reluctantly, I agreed to give it a try. Having finished it, I have decided to burn my passport and not return.

When the novel opens, we are introduced to Dwight, the sixteen-year-old narrator of the story (or maybe he's seventeen -- the fact that I can't remember is a clear indicator of how much of an impression this book made on me), and his pals, the slightly overweight Rusty and tom-boy Slim. It becomes evident early on that Dwight has the hots for Slim, but he isn't confident enough to do anything about it. Based on his thoughts early on in the story, you can imagine he spends quite a bit of his time masturbating or taking cold showers, but I'll come back to this.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, Dwight is mowing the lawn and his pals persuade him to take a break. Rusty has something he wants him to see. He produces a flier for The Traveling Vampire Show, which boasts to have a real-live vampire in captivity. The show is open for one night only, with an age restriction of 18+. Knowing they will never be allowed in, they decided to sneak over to Janks Field with the hopes of catching the showing setting up for that night's performance. None of them truly believe the vampire is real, but she is described as gorgeous and beguiling, so Rusty is hoping to get to see her. It takes some doing to persuade Dwight, but he finally gives in and they head off on their adventure.

The trio arrive at Janks Field before the Traveling Vampire Show arrives, so they plan on hiding in the surrounding woods until they show up. Their plans are foiled when they are attacked by a stray dog. They tack shelter a-top an abandoned snack stand, where they discuss how they are going to get away from the dog. Dwight comes up with a plan, and hopes nobody holds it against him if he kills the dog. He plans on jumping from the roof onto the animal, thereby crushing it and making the grounds safe for his friends. He missed, and while his friends create a diversion, drawing the animal's attention away from Dwight, the teen hightails it out of there with the promise of coming back with help.

By the time he returns in the company of his sister-in-law, they find the show has arrived and the troupe is on the process of setting up. There is, however, no sign of his friends. He fears the worst, thinking they fell victim to foul play at the hands of the workmen setting up the show. His sister-in-law manages to snag four tickets for the show after some innocent flirtation with the boss man. With nothing left to go on, they return home to find Rusty waiting for them. He confesses that he and Slim left just as they show was arriving, and Slim went on home to change her clothes. When they head on over to Slim's house, they find she is not at home, and they automatically jump to the conclusion that members of The Traveling Vampire Show have kidnapped her. When she finally turns up, she tells them of the atrocity she witnessed -- the Vampire troupe killed the stray, stabbed it to death with long spears before placing it in the back of a hearse. This kind of puts a damper on their desire to see the show -- well, Rusty still wants to see the beautiful, beguiling vampire. Dwight and Slim? They really don't want to go, but they decided to let Lee, Dwight's sister-in-law, have the deciding vote after they tell her everything.

When they get to Lee's house, they find she is missing. Her car is still in the driveway, her purse still on the counter. The jump to the conclusion that the Traveling Vampire troupe kidnapped her. After all, she paid for the tickets with a check, and the check had her address on it.

The rest of the book is more of the same, with the kids letting their overactive imaginations run away, leading them to jump to the wrong conclusions. By they time they get to the show, the book is more than three-quarters done. The action that takes place at the show is decent, but not realistic. Granted, men wish to show off for their friends and girlfriends, but when the first person is carried out in a bloody mess, that should be enough to make them think twice before getting into the cage with the vampire. It's not even enough to stop Rusty, who is thinking with his little head. The minute he saw the vampire strip down to nothing in the cage, he just knew he was going to volunteer. He's hoping for a cheap thrill, a few quick gropes, maybe more.

Which leads me to one of the problems I had with this book, and the problem I have with Richard Laymon in general. His books seem to be targeted for a horny teen male audience. A chapter doesn't go by that Dwight isn't thinking about sex; every time he sees Slim, he needs to describe the clothes she is wearing, with emphasis on the black bathing suit top under her white t-shirt, or the absence of a top beneath the t-shirt, which gets him hard. In one scene, he has actually suffered a premature ejaculation because he and Slim kissed. By the time the book is over, you kind of feel sorry for the kid because you know he's just got to have a major case of blue balls. Even when driving with is sister-in-law, he knows he shouldn't, but he keeps trying to catch peeks of her breasts through the gap in her blouse. These are actions I expect from curious 10 and 11 year old kids, not 16 year olds. A preoccupation with sex seems to take priority over realistic responses to certain situations. Add to this they way they are always jumping to the wrong conclusions, I get the feeling I'm dealing with young kids, not teenagers.

The second problem I had with the book is the absence of The Traveling Vampire Show. We don't get to the show until the final quarter of the book, and by that point I don't care any more. The actions leading up to the show are drawn out and unrealistic. I know horror fiction in itself is unrealistic, and the ability to suspend your disbelief is crucial. This is the third Laymon book I have read, and in each instance, I didn't just suspend my disbelief, I crumpled it up like a used tissue and flushed it down the toilet. Half way through the book, I stopped caring what happened to the characters. Their stupidity had me hoping they would all meet some gruesome ending.

The sad thing is, reading the jacket copy, the books actually sound like they might be good. When I picked up The Cellar, I thought it was an awesome idea. And it was. It was just poorly executed to the point where I was tempted to put it down. When the woman is captured by the creatures, I actually smiled, much the way I smiled when Rusty met his fate.

I know Laymon has a following and there are readers out there who praise him to high heaven. I'm not one of them. People who criticize Laymon are often said to be missing the point by those who hold him up on a pedestal. Maybe I am missing the point, but that isn't enough to tempt me to venture into another Laymon novel in search of that revelation. As I close the book on The Traveling Vampire Show, I am burning my passport, never to return to Laymon Country

Sunday, June 20, 2010

To Sleep Per Chance to Dream. . .

Georgina Kincaid is in Hell.

You would think this wouldn't be such a bad place to be for the eternally damned, but not even the Arch Demons would be so cruel as to torment one of their own with the situation Georgina has found herself in with Richelle Mead's fifth outing into Supernatural Seattle, Succubus Shadows.

For those not familiar with Georgina Kincaid, she is a succubus, a female demon who sucks the life essence from the men she sleeps with. The purer the soul, the stronger the essence. She can shape-shift into any form she so desires, including her wardrobe, so you would think life wouldn't be bad, but after centuries of such existence, Georgina has become unhappy. She longs for love, she wants to settle down with one guy, get married, raise a family, what every red-blooded American girl should want. But by her very nature, this is impossible. Her immortality and fear for the safety of Seth Mortensen, the object of her affections, is one of contributing factors that lead to their breakup. For the full back story, you will need to check out Mead's previous novels.

When Succubus Shadows opens, Georgina is throwing a combination house-warming/Halloween party for her new apartment. After winning a drinking match with a coworker and still reeling from the effects of the alcohol, Georgina reluctantly agrees to help Maddie Sato, her best mortal friend and coworker, plan her wedding to Seth. Helping your best friend plan a wedding to the ex you still love would be enough to drive a mortal woman to slit her wrists, but being immortal, suicide is not an option for Georgina. Instead, she spirals into a depression, an almost constant state for her since breaking up with Seth.

As if that wasn't enough, a mysterious force is preying on Georgina, using her darkened mood to try to seduce her. It calls to her with a siren-like song, promising her freedom from the pain she is feeling, and while Roman, senses the presence of this otherworldly power, he is unable to recognize the signature, which troubles him. He warns Georgina not to listen to the tempting voice, but eventually, worn down by her own dark thoughts, she succumbs to the seduction and disappears off the supernatural radar. Jerome, the Arch Demon of Seattle and Georgina's boss, can no longer sense her. It's like she no longer exists, which means her supernatural signature is being masked, or she is no longer in this realm of existence. They know she is still alive because if somebody has succeeded in killing her, she would have shown up in Hell. The search is own. Jerome MUST find Georgina before word of her disappearance reaches the inner circles of Hell. Jerome is in enough trouble with the demonic Powers That Be because he had allowed himself summoned and held captive be a dark sorcerer. If word gets out that he has lost one of his charges, well. . . there would be hell to pay.

Meanwhile, Georgina finds herself being held captive by the Oneroi, twin creatures of the Dream Realm who are seeking revenge for Georgina's part in the re-capture and imprisonment of their mother by the Angels. As their captive, Georgina is forced to dream. Some of the dreams are true, some are false, and some are a combination of both, but the endless stream of images leaves her questioning what is and isn't true. With each dream, the Oneroi feed, weakening Georgina to the point where she fears for her sanity.

Can she manage to reserve enough energy to escape the Dream Realm, or must she pin her flagging hopes on her friends and their ability to find her? Does this spell the end for our favorite shape-shifting demon from Hell?

First off, let me say that I love this series. Yeah, it's Chick Lit, but I look forward to each installment with all the anxiety of an expectant father. Each book in the series gets progressively better, and Succubus Shadows is, in my opinion, the best so far. Granted, not much happens in the way of action, but we are given further insight into Georgina's character through the dreams the Oneroi force her to experience and we learn more about her past.

In my previous review of Succubus Heat, I discussed my feelings about Seth and Georgina's relationship, as well as her relationship with Roman. Both men are present in Succubus Shadows, and despite having tried to kill Georgina in the past, we see Roman's feelings for Georgina growing, and while Georgina reflects on their past relationship and wonders if there could be a future for her and Roman, she is still unable to let go of Seth. The more Seth and Georgina try to keep away from each other, the more they find themselves in situations that only strengthen their ties to each other. The idea behind the series is formulaic in that I have a feeling we are seeing a Boy meets Girl, Boy Loses Girl, Boy gets Girl situation, but it is a story that has lasted centuries. Through Georgina's dreams we have learned that in her lifetime, she has developed emotional bonds to a few men who were of strong moral fiber, only to lose them. I find myself wondering if these men are all the same man. I'm not implying that Seth is by any mean a supernatural creature, but certain revelations within Succubus Shadows have me wondering if Seth, as well as the other men that Georgina has fallen for during her long life, are the reincarnation of Kyriakos, the husband she had betrayed while in her mortal existence, who is trying to reconnect with his soul mate. The fact that Carter, an Angel who likes to pal around with the Demons, seems particularly interested in Georgina's relationship with Seth, adds to the intrigue. Is it possible that if Georgina is able to reconnect with her long-lost soul mate she might be able to be redeemed and regain her soul, thereby regaining her mortal existence? This may seem a predictable story line if this is the direction Richelle Mead is choosing to take, but the ride we are on getting there is one never to be forgotten.

If you have not yet made Georgina's acquaintance, I strongly urge you to pick up Succubus Blues, the first in the series, and introduce yourself. Guaranteed, won't be disappointed.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

CUT! That's a Wrap!

CUT! That's a Wrap!

What Alyssa wouldn't give to hear those words again. However, when her agent "unknowingly" sends her on an audition for a porno film, she realizes that while she may be desperate to get back into the film business, there are some things she just won't do. Sex is one of them. Murder, on the other hand. . .

Alyssa Peyton was once a reigning Scream Queen. With her Director husband, they were destined for great things. His horror films were highly successful, and she, being the star, was once a household name. But the husband and, by extension, the roles are gone. He has a new wife, and with her a new star. The roles that once fell into Alyssa's lap because her husband wouldn't do a film without her are now going to Jessica Palmer. As a result, Alyssa relies on horror conventions to relive her glory days.

This is where she meets Taryn, a 19-year old lesbian who is probably Alyssa's No.1 fan. The actress is also the subject of many a fantasy. When problems at home become unbearable and the teen walks out, she turns to the object of her affections, Alyssa, who willingly allows the troubled teen to stay with her. It is a codependent relationship -- Alyssa needs to be loved by her fans and Taryn needs to love Alyssa -- but it takes awhile for Alyssa to realize the extent of Taryn's love for her. Sound familiar? Famous celebrity and idolizing number one fan? It's not what you might think.

Another failed audition crushes Alyssa. To lose the role, a role she feels she was born to play, is bad enough, but to lose it to Jessica Palmer is more than Alyssa can take. The woman has stolen everything from her -- her husband, her place in his films, and now this. What's the point in going on? She turns to the only thing that she feels will free her from the pain -- pills and alcohol.

It seems she can't succeed in anything anymore, not even suicide. Taryn rescues her from the brink of death, but it is too late. During her hospitalization, Alyssa's descent into madness starts. She realizes that she was trying to cut out the pain, but she wasn't getting the pain at the root. The root of all her pain is Jessica Palmer and the man who betrayed her. With Taryn as an unwitting accomplice, Alyssa sets out to eradicate the source of her pain and those who have betrayed her.

Brandon Ford's Splattered Beauty is a thrill ride into the depths of madness. His depiction of the aging film star is one part Norma Desmond, one part Annie Wilkes, as she is her own number one fan. With the revelations of her abused childhood and abandonment issues that stem from her mother walking out when she was young, the slide down the slippery slope of sanity and over the edge is believable and heartbreaking. While you read open-mouthed at the atrocities she commits, you can't help but feel sorry for her as her life spins out of control. Taryn, as the devoted companion/love interest, is another story. While the old adage that love is blind might hold true for some things, to allow yourself to become an accessory to multiple murders is something I had a hard time believing. Having witnessed numerous instances of the older woman's instability, there were plenty of chances for her to beat a hasty retreat, but she chooses to stay. Her weak nature and her ability to be so easily manipulated often had me hoping that Alyssa would grow tired of the troubled teen and deliver to her a particularly gory death. You want the girl to run like hell and get away, and when she doesn't, you kind of hope she gets what stupidity gets you in most horror films and novels.

I mentioned in a review of Ford's Crystal Bay that the author was a new voice in horror who holds promise in the genre. I stand by this assessment. Splattered Beauty is a well-written, fast-paced joy ride that will have you glued to the edge of your seat. Don't miss it!