M is for Mira Grant

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Mira Grant’


‘Mira Grant’ is Seanan Maguire’s pen name, under which she writes scientific horror thrillers (yes, that’s totally a genre). I’d never read any of Maguire’s books when I was lured in by the delicious humour of the front cover of Feed.  I’m a zombie enthusiast anyway, so I felt I was on to a winner before I’d even opened the first page, but soon got sucked in to the complex and compelling world in which Feed was set.

feed_miragrant

The idea of Zombies being very much part of the furniture is an appealing one to me. There were definitely risks to them being around, but there was a degree of adaption by the population that allowed them to live their lives in an altered way, though a way that still had potential to be meaningful and fulfilling. The real enemies were the people behind the scenes causing problems, not the brain eaters themselves.

It’s the best way to use zombies in my view, because to be honest, zombies aren’t really that scary most of the time. The idea of the volume of them is quite terrifying, and their relentlessness. But they aren’t smart and the (usually) aren’t fast, which always made me feel that humanity had a good chance of surviving them. The fact that Grant uses the idea of a zombifying virus lying dormant in everyone, which could activate at any time, adds a little tension and terror to the mix, but even that is well controlled in the world Grant builds.

Deadline

So the story then becomes about the sort of world and the sort of people that would exist in the time of a zombie apocalypse, and I find that fascinating. I loved how Grant took the idea of online blogs and elevated it to a central facet of society. Because, let’s face it, if there were brain eating monsters outside, you’d spend a lot of time online. And I won’t go into the central conspiracy that drives the story, but it’s a good one, and kept me turning pages until the very last line of the trilogy.

I haven’t yet picked up Parasite, though it’s definitely on my wish list. Perhaps when I’ve finally finished reading all my NetGalley backlog, I’ll treat myself!

parasite

Review: The Eternity Fund by Liz Monument

the eternity fundTitle: The Eternity Fund

Author: Liz Monument

Series: N/A

Genre: Future Noir Thriller

Received for review from Audible

Summary (from Goodreads)

The Eternity Fund is set in a dark future, where terrorists flash-freeze entire office blocks to harvest human organs, and where people of no use to society are compressed for bio-fuel. Jess Green, the narrator, is an empath. Her unusual skills are commandeered by the Unit, for Department Thirteen (Crime Solutions). Jess isn’t going to find it easy negotiating a path through a world in which nobody seems to trust her, especially now she has a price on her head…

Review

The Eternity Fund is set in an interesting world. This is the future beyond the future. A new ‘New World’ after some unknown disaster wiped out the world as we know it. There are no animals, food is cloned, people are enhanced with cybernetics, sometimes sucking down nutrients through a metallic proboscis. It’s familiar in some ways, but in most it’s utterly alien. And that’s the absolute best thing about this book.

The conspiracy is fairly standard – someone is killing people, lots of people, and there are powerful people looking the other way, and sometimes actively helping. Our heroine is more interconnected with it than she could ever know, and through solving the mystery she grows in strength and learns about her history and gets answers to the questions that have plagued her all her life. It’s entertaining, but what lifts this above the usual Dan Brown style affair is the world Monument has created.

Like all the best world building, you get the sense that Monument knows a lot more about the world than she reveals in the passage of the story. There is mention of desert beetles and spider people and many other things that we either don’t see, or see only briefly. It gives the impression that there’s plenty of rich material left to explore, that the world could sustain many more stories. And I hope there are more.

I also really liked the central relationship between Jess and her handler, Mo. It took a little while to warm up – there’s a lot of Jess doing things that Mo doesn’t approve of, Mo being over protective (it’s his job, not a messed up romantic thing) before they start to settle into each other and start to work together. But towards the end, I really liked them as protagonists, and again would like to spend a little more time in their company.

The book does slightly suffer for being the first. I get the feeling that another episode would be even more exciting and interesting now the relationship is established and the world is introduced. There was also a moment where I felt the narrative jumped a little unnaturally. It was almost like I’d fallen asleep and missed a chapter – only I really hope I didn’t because I was driving!! It wasn’t detrimental to the understanding of what was happening, as such, but it was quite jarring.

Overall, a good read, with an excellent narrator. I hope I get the chance to see where Monument takes these characters next.

Rating: 3.5/5

Weekly Round Up #34

Weekly Round Up #34 (16/03-22/03)

After only a day and a half back at work, I was off again this week to go to the Boyfriend’s passing out ceremony. Not as horrible as it sounds, I promise! He was presented with a certificate for completing his training (a little previous, he doesn’t actually finish until next week) and had some nice photos taken in his new uniform.

After, I went back with him to the Holiday Inn where he’s been staying. I can’t imagine how depressing it’s been to stay in one of those rooms for the past three months – it’s alright for one night, but I was craving my own bed after that! I wasn’t going back to my bed though – next stop was Taylor’s house, where I would be staying for the next few days.

On the first day we walked about six miles around Coventry, shopping, getting out hair cut, and carrying ridiculously heavy bags up a big hill. It was certainly a lot of exercise (and a very successful shopping trip!) and the pain I’ve been having in my hip finally started to work down to my knee. Which might not sound like a good thing, but it is, because I know how to deal with knee pain.

Cue lots of Yoga. Which did go a long way to making me feel less pain in my legs.

We spent Friday, after a morning of walking to computer shops and having a Morrison’s full English breakfast, chilling out and working on some stuff. I took a moment to catch up on a bit of blogging while Taylor worked on revision time tables and CVs. Then we played (lots) of Lego Pirates and did some dress making.

On the Thursday night we went for all you can eat Pan-Asian food, which was delicious, though probably not good for my expanding waist line. The fact that my leg is getting better is really good news, because I need to get some exercise soon, or none of my clothes will fit.

On Saturday, we headed off to ComicCon. It was good, but I don’t think it was that much better than the small local one we went to in the autumn. I was expecting there to be panels and discussions, but it was basically just more stalls. Which is nice, but there are only so many variations on nerdy jewellery, film memorabilia and pokemon plushies, which meant the extra stalls were someone superfluous. I did get to chat to a comic writer, Neil Gibson, and have a copy of one of his books to review – so that was a definite win :)

Tired, but satisfied, we headed home. The rest of Saturday was mostly spent resting, after a quick clear out session, packing up DVDs to be sold to Music Magpie. To give you an idea of how many DVDs we had to clear out, we made £44.40. Which, for those of you who use Music Magpie will know, is quite an impressive sum. And that was only what we could fit in the box we had. Mum is trying to have a big clear out and general downsize, as it’s likely they’ll have to move in the next twelve months, as my Step-dad is looking for a new job. Much as I don’t want them to go, it would be an exciting new adventure for them. I’m slowly getting used to the idea by helping them chuck out their stuff!

Sunday was the day of our first Come Dine With Me dinner. It was Irish themed, so I made… Feta Cheese Puffs. I suck at cooking, I was going with something I felt fairly confident I could make. It was a really nice meal, though, and we finished it off with a round of Taboo. Which was made all the more hilarious by the fact that it’s a really old version. I pulled out ‘Luncheon Voucher’. Only Mum knew what one of them was.

The evening was finished with packing the Boyfriend’s bag for the last time. It was a good moment. Not because he has to be away again, obviously, but because at long last he’s only a week from being home for good. I’ve missed him, and I hate how the weekends fly past. I’m looking forwards to being irritated by him getting under my feet again :)

Simplify Your Life

Hoarding is a problem that the best of us battle from time to time – we attribute so much value to stuff. But in an everchanging and increasingly digital world, there’s no need to accumulate so many things. Getting rid of that stuff once we own it, though, is difficult. Once it’s been bought there are two separate attachments to contend with: one, the emotional attachment and two, the money you know you spent on it.

I’ve perfected a three stage method for clearing out things

Stage 1 – Get Rid of the Rubbish

This is the easy stage, and should filter out a decent amount of stuff. Get rid of all the stuff that’s just rubbish – the DVDs you bought because you thought they’d be good, but you realised after watching that they were terrible, the CD you were given by a relative, who had no idea what your music taste was, the stuff that you can’t really understand why you’ve kept. There should be no emotional attachment to this stuff, no going back and forth – it’s just rubbish, and you don’t need it. Put it in the charity shop bag, or the bin.

Stage 2 – Sort Into Two Piles

This is where you start getting into the things you like, or feel some attachment to. It’s harder than the first stage, which is why you break down your things into two piles. The first pile is stuff you definitely need to keep – the things you can’t do without. The next pile is the stuff that you aren’t sure about – it’s not as important to you as the stuff on the first pile, but you still feel the pinch of need to hold on to it when you try to throw it out. For example, I had a huge DVD collection for a while – so big that it didn’t fit on my DVD shelf comfortably any more. There were plenty of DVDs that I didn’t want to just chuck out. They were good films, or films I’d really enjoyed but hadn’t seen for ages. I put these on the ‘not sure’ pile, and then started working my way through them. Once I’d watched them, I made a decision about keeping them or not. Often, watching them one more time was enough.

Stage 3 – Repeat

This is the key thing. You need to repeat the stages regularly. Over time, it’s impressive what becomes less important to you. Suddenly those ‘must keep’ DVDs start to look more like they belong on the ‘maybe’ pile. And if the DVDs have been on the ‘maybe’ pile for two or three rounds of pruning, and I still don’t feel like watching them, then they can just go.

Clearing out the clutter little and often is the most pain free way of doing at it, and I find it’s addictive. Once I’ve started, I want to do every single room. The more you do, the easier it is to make a judgement about what you need, and what you really value. Before long, you’ll have your house reduced down to minimal simplicity.

Cover Lust #54 – The Sin Eater’s Daughter

Cover Lust #54 – The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

the sin eater's daughter

Another magical beauty this week. I love the ornate design of the metal work around the bottle on this, but the really striking thing is the girl in the bottle, and how her clothes and hair bleed into ink. It’s another book I know nothing about, but I’d definitely pick it up on the strength of the cover.

What covers are you lusting after this week?

Review: Oz Naturals Super Youth Eye Gel

super youth eye gelOz Naturals Super Youth Eye Gel

I struggle with my eyes – they’re very dry, so putting anything anywhere near them usually results in much eye-watering, stinging and blinking. I generally try to avoid getting creams close to them.

But, knowing how gentle and natural Oz Naturals products are, I was hopeful that this would not fall foul of the same issues other creams have. I wasn’t disappointed.

The cream is slightly thicker than the other Oz Naturals serums, intended for ‘gentle dabbing’ in the eye area. The pump allows you to administer a small amount – you don’t need much of the stuff to get sufficient coverage – and when applied to the eye area it was soothing, cooling and didn’t immediately make my eyes brim with sting-induced tears.

The gel has a lovely light cucumber smell. It soaks in to the skin quickly and leaves your eyes feeling lifted. I find it very refreshing, and like to use it in the morning to help wake my skin up and reduce the appearance of tiredness.

Another lovely product from Oz Naturals.

(I was sent this product for free in exchange for an honest review.)

Five More Songs I Used to Love

There were too many songs that could have made the last list, so here’s five more songs I used to love.

1. Shooting Star by Air Traffic

I don’t even know where I heard this. It’s the only song I have of theirs, so assume it must have been one a friend sent at some point. I know exactly why I would have loved it though – I’ve always been a sucker for pretty piano. And for angsty indie bands.

2. You and Me by Lifehouse

Another friend sent song, I think. This one definitely appealed to my romantic side, and teenage desire to be loved. I still smile when I listen to this occasionally these days, though I definitely don’t listen to it as often as I used to back then!

3. If We’re Alone, Aren’t We In This Together by October Fall

More pretty piano and angsty indie bands. This song is epic, as in it’s nearly seven minutes long. The rest of the album is pretty terrible, but this track caught my imagination – I remember listening to it a lot. I listen to it now, and apart from a slight nostalgic fondness, I have to wonder what I was thinking.

4. Chop Suey by System of a Down

Now this really wasn’t my style. I bought the whole album off the weight of this song and hated the rest of it. I remember the friend that sent me this, back in the heady days of sharing tunes one painful KB per second over MSN. Because we’d evolved beyond lending each other albums, but the technology hadn’t quite caught up. Ah, dial up. I don’t know why this song worked so well for me – I guess it’s because it’s more singy than screamy compared to their others, and I liked the singy bits a lot. Plus, angst. I was full of it aged 15.

5. What You’re Made Of by Lucie Silvas

This fell into the category of ‘female singers who play the piano.’ I was predisposed to like it, even if the song had been a lot worse than it was. As it was, this came from a pretty good album as female singer song writers went. I had the piano music book and used to play it all the time. There were actually better songs on the album, but this was the ‘famous’ one, the one that turned me on to her in the first place.