Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review: Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig (Miriam Black #2)

Thought I wouldn't get time to get in a review before the year ends but then I realized I'd written this two months back and forgot to post it!

TITLE: MOCKINGBIRD (Miriam Black #2)
Miriam is trying. Really, she is.
But this whole "settling down thing" that Louis has going for her just isn't working out. She lives on Long Beach Island all year around. Her home is a run-down double-wide trailer. She works at a grocery store as a check-out girl. And her relationship with Louis--who's on the road half the time in his truck--is subject to the piss and vinegar Miriam brings to everything she does.
It just isn't going well. Still, she's keeping her psychic ability--to see when and how someone is going to die just by touching them--in check. But even that feels wrong somehow. Like she's keeping a tornado stoppered up in a tiny bottle.
Then comes one bad day that turns it all on her ear.

Chuck Wendig’s ‘Blackbirds’ disturbed me to no small extent. The purist in me rebelled against the language and profanity, the girlie-girl in me cowered from the extreme violence, and the responsible book-blogger in me put out a warning that this book was addictive, but not for those faint of heart. The reader in me also made it abundantly clear that I was going to pick up the next installment- I was hooked by Miriam Black in ‘Blackbirds’, and in ‘Mockingbird’ she appears with talons to reel me right back into her story.

And, what a story.

When you look at it from outside, ‘Mockingbird’ is a deceptively simple onion. A pretty one, yes, but kind of procedural. Psychic-girl, visions of a murder, character drama, resolution. But when you peel back the layers, it becomes much more. Miriam’s going to snark at me for going philosophical on her, but take a breather, Miss Black. Let me talk about you.

This time around, Miriam is trying to settle down. Be a happy checkout girl at a department store. Live with Louis in a trailer park. Keep her psychic ability under check. At least until bullets get involved, and a bit of scalp is lost, and the psychic drifter witch is out on the roads again.

It isn’t long before Miriam is neck-deep in it - this time the trouble starts at a school/prison for delinquent girls. The Caldecott School for Girls. There’s a murderer loose and he’s killing the schoolgirls. Of course, Miriam knows this by touching the victims and has to stop it from happening. 

But in Chuck Wendig’s world, killing them is equal to cutting off tongues, lopping off heads, singing a creepy song and lots and lots of barbed wire, so Miriam really is up against some major psychopath.

You’d see why Miriam would get involved. This time around she might have bitten off more than she can chew, because she’s up against a pretty formidable enemy. Maybe even more than one.

Louis Darling remains my favorite one-eyed trucker ever, although there’s a scene with bloody feathers and eye sockets and car wrecks and river water that will probably not let me sleep easily for a while at least.

I said in my review of ‘Blackbirds’ that what makes the book is the main protagonist. She’s back and she ain’t lost her charm. (Or extreme lack of it.) She’s still trash-talking her way through her dark little life, seeing hallucinations that creep me the hell out, and getting into so much trouble that you want to lock her up somewhere. Not that Miriam wouldn’t bust out. Just saying.

The real good thing about Mockingbird, however, is that it doesn’t simply draw Miriam as a dark, brooding, pot-mouthed, psychic young woman with a one-eyed trucker boyfriend. Her home-life appears in tiny Interludes between chapters, and we learn how Miriam became well…Miriam. Uncle Jack teaching her to hold a gun and shoot a bird, her over-religious mother (Carrie parallel?) destroying her stuff, the strange house that she grew up in- we get to visit each scene through the writer’s extremely cinematic prose.

The story moves fast and is paced so violently, with so much blood and fighting and crazy dialogue involved, and I loved that. It’s slightly less…well, French, than the book before but there’s still plenty of bombs for those who try to avoid stuff like that (or, alternately, enjoy stuff like that, whatever floats your boat).

I reiterate- THIS IS NOT YOUNG ADULT. But if you’re like me and enjoy bloody paper-and-ink conquests, kickass UF heroines, trucker lingo, awesome dialogues, razor-sharp prose, subtle shout-outs to Stephen King, and a good old-fashioned serial killer tale, you’ll dig Mockingbird.

And hee. I love the damn cover. Joey Hi-fi is rockin’ it. Do you see the detailing in it, with the stuff in her hair? There's an axe, a hand, a detailed bird beak. There's the school on her shirt. You could play "spot that" with the cover the whole day.

4 on 5 stars, and bring on more Miriam! 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Guest Post: Prophecy Girl

I'm taking a minute to breathe here, and announce before we go into the guest post that I'm so very very sorry for all the erratic posting that's been happening on the blog. There's just too much going on in my life! Add to that finals-related stress, and I'm like a zombie with a polka-dotted headband, shuffling around the house in pajamas the whole day.
(Plus Jeremy Carver is killing me with Supernatural Season 8, dammit)
This is the last post for the year, guys and girls. I'll be back new year with a new design and other stuff.
But wait!
Today we have Faith McKay, author of Prophecy Girl, doing a guest post for us!
Welcome, Faith!
On to the guest post!

Ten Facts You Didn't Know About Prophecy Girl

+ Every character in this novel has at least one nickname, though only some of them are mentioned in Prophecy Girl.

+ The working title for many years was NEXT SERVICES, because of a sign in the valley that reads Next Services: 74 Miles. The scene including the sign happened to be one of the first things I wrote, so it just stuck.

+ My husband actually came up with the title Prophecy Girl, and he only did so once I was already completely done with the novel.

+ The next time Sam goes on a date, she's supposed to be dumping a body. Uhh, book two, anyone?

+ The main character, Sam, is a vegetarian.
+ I compiled playlists to the next books in Lacuna Valley to organize my plots.

+ Lacuna Valley is a fictional place, but it was based on a real place where I actually once lived. It was an isolated valley, it was an hour long drive to the nearest stoplight, and it was a western themed town. There just wasn't anything supernatural living there, that I know about at least.
+ There is a bullying sub-plot. It was based on my own horrifying high school experiences.

+ I wrote four completely different versions of both the beginning and ending.

+ Nick's sunglasses are one of my favorite things in Prophecy Girl and helped make Nick real to me. I have a thing for sunglasses myself, and have a few pairs mentioned in the book.

Here's a synopsis of Prophecy Girl. It looks terrific!

Ever since Samantha Winthrop's mother moved them to Lacuna Valley, supposedly in search of better weather, the list of strange questions she has no answers for has been growing out of control.

Does her little sister, Violet, have the ability to make things happen just by "praying" for them? Are Sam's dreams really predicting the future? Is she destined to marry the boy she just met, and what is the mysterious orb that he's guarding? Why does she get the impression that there are dangerous creatures watching from the woods?
While Sam should be focusing on answering those questions, there is one other that makes them seem almost irrelevant: Is her mother planning on killing her and Violet?


Faith McKay writes stories about characters with real world struggles in otherworldly settings. She is the author of PROPHECY GIRL, a story where characters struggle with the idea of having a destiny. In comparison, she feels really lucky that her destiny was to struggle with comma placement and be that awkward lady who points out puns at parties.

Other things to know about Faith… She wears two different colored shoes. She is a survivor of child abuse. She has lived with chronic illness for over a decade. A lot of people don't like her because she laughs too much. It's also the reason a lot of other people do like her, so go figure. She listens to more music than people are probably supposed to. She's a nomad. The word sounds really cool, so a lot of people say it, but she actually lives in an RV with her husband and their pet bunny rabbit, Dorian Gray.


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