Posts Tagged ‘Christopher Moore’

Vampires and Werewolves and Sidhe, Oh My!

This summer has been a busy one, with lots of travelling – which means a lot of time to read but not much time to talk about it.  I think I’ve let about four books go by without posting a thing about them.  So I thought I’d just mention them briefly because they were all great, though wildly different, and merit a mention.

The first was an Emma Campion galley I won called The King’s Mistress, about Alice Perrers, who became entangled in a web of court intrigue after becoming the mistress of Edward III.  I love this type of historical fiction and I’m not all that familiar with this time period so it was interesting to get a chance to learn more about the Plantagenets and Lancasters while seeing through the eyes of a woman who was vilified for her affair with the king.  The story was engaging and I really enjoyed it, but when the tension began to mount I didn’t experience the delicious fear and constant anxiety that books like The Other Boleyn Girl evoked.  Alice made it plain the many dangers she faced throughout her life but I was more curious about what was going to happen than anxious.  The writing itself was beautiful and Alice was a strong and admirable protagonist.

For a change of pace I turned to an urban fantasy that was featured on the Nook’s weekly Free Fridays promotion – the first in Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series, Darkfever.  It’s about MacKayla Lane, a woman in her early 20s who travels to Dublin, Ireland after the brutal and unsolved murder of her sister.   In the hopes that the local law enforcement will renew their efforts to find the killer if a family member is there in the flesh, Mac settles into the city where her sister’s life was cut short and unwittingly stumbles into a dark and magical world where faeries roam the streets disguised as humans and entire blocks are swallowed from memory.  She finds an unlikely partner in Jericho Barrons, a rich and eccentric book store owner with a few mysteries of his own, who tells her that she is a Sidhe seer – someone who can see the fae.  Not only that, but she can sense magical artifacts and freeze all manner of fae creatures with one touch.  Mac discovers that her sister was also involved with the Sidhe somehow and as she learns more about her abilities and continues the search for her sister’s murderer she becomes all the more bound to Jericho and his quest for an all-important Sidhe artifact that, according to Mac’s sister, is the key to everything.  Darkfever was a fast-paced urban adventure with a fantastic array of exotic and dark faeries – and these are no Tinkerbells, mind you.  I loved the tension and banter between Mac and Jericho.  It was just a lot of fun and great storytelling.  I’ll definitely be continuing the series.

Also a Nook Free Friday title, Cry Sanctuary came next.  Also an urban fantasy – werewolves this time – and the first in the Red Rock Pass series by Moira Rogers, this book was another speedy, brain candy type of adventure.  Werewolf packs live in secret all over the country and most are run by greedy alphas who abuse their position and power and terrorize their subordinates to get what they want.  Red Rock is place that provides sanctuary to any wolf who seeks a different way of life.  Abigail Adler escapes an abusive alpha with the help of her close friend, who risks everything to get her out of harm’s way, and the two of them find shelter in Red Rock.  The story follows Abigail and Keith Winston, a Red Rock wolf newly returned from Europe, fighting in the war between werewolves and wizards, who rescues her and her friend while they’re on the run.  As a newly turned werewolf Abby has a lot to learn about her new life and Keith, who is instantly and almost irrationally attracted to her, hopes he will be the one to act as her guide – but it has to be her choice.  Keith was my favorite character in the story, I absolutely loved him.  Part knight, part cowboy, all badass.  And I didn’t hate the hot scenes where Abby gave in to his charms.  Can’t say I blame her really.  Another really fun urban fantasy and I look forward to the next Red Rock book.

After reading Lamb a few months ago I’ve been dying to read another Christopher Moore book.  And of course with my incurable vampire obsession I decided to go with You Suck: A Love Story, which chronicles the new un-life of Tommy Flood after being turned into a vampire by his undead girlfriend Jody.  Tommy’s not exactly thrilled with his new situation and as he struggles to come to terms with being a bloodsucking fiend the pair get themselves in all kinds of shenanigans.  The ancient vampire who sired Jody is after them (you would be too if you were covered in bronze by Tommy’s biker neighbors and turned into a statue) and Tommy’s former Safeway stockboy co-workers have been compelled by a blue hooker (long story) from Vegas to hunt them down.  They decide to accept the dark and brooding (but hopelessly perky) goth Abby Normal to be their minion and run errands for them during the day.  There are whole chapters of Abby’s diary that are absolutely hilarious, and luckily since I’m fluent in angsty-teenage-girl-diary-speak I could understand it all with ease and appreciate it from a former angsty teenage diary author myself.  The book is a laugh-out-loud witty, outrageous, and ridiculously funny window into the mind of a genius wordsmith.  It’s definitely not as emotionally driven as Lamb, although it’s hysterically funny as well, it’s more like a romping adventure.  Unfortunately after I finished it I found out that it’s actually a sequel (Love Bites is the first book).  I had a sneaking suspicion that it might be, based on all the references to events that felt more like I should already be familiar with rather than backstory.  But I’ll just go back and read that one before continuing on with the next book, Bloodsucking Fiends

What are you reading?

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Book Review: Lamb

 

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

Christopher Moore
Paperback, 464 pages
HarperCollins Publishers
February 01, 2003

I’ve been meaning to read Christopher Moore for a while now and after finishing Lamb I’m just sorry I didn’t start sooner.  I shudder to think of all those wasted hours spent watching mindless reality shows, paying bills, going to work..when I could have been in tears laughing at the deliciously witty and beautifully sarcastic prose of Mr. Moore. 

Fan-tast-ic.

Lamb tells the story of the Messiah through the words of his best friend Levi who is called Biff, and it essentially fills in the gaps between Christ’s (Joshua here) famous birth and his crucifixion and resurrection just over thirty years later.  Just to be clear, this book isn’t meant to be read as historical fiction (although Moore did his homework researching the period) or to challenge beliefs, it’s purely a what-if tale that’s meant to entertain.*  It will make you grin, gasp, and definitely laugh out loud.  Frequently.  I mean, the extended title alone is enough to set the comedic tone of the novel: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

The book begins when the angel Raziel receives an assignment to go to Earth (“dirt-side”) and resurrect Biff and give him the task of writing a new Gospel, in honor of the two-millennia anniversary of Christ’s birth.  We’re introduced to Biff (whose nick-name is supposedly derived from the Hebrew slang for “smack upside the head”) and I quickly latched onto his wit, nonchalance, and sarcasm, which he invented.  He begins his tale when he first met Joshua at age six, where the Messiah was engaged in the fascinating activity of mashing lizards to death and then resurrecting them, and precedes to inform us of their childhood in Galilee, where Josh learned he was the son of God, and moves on to their epic journey when they set out in order for Josh to learn more about his nature and what it will take to bring the Kingdom to his people. 

The journey takes them far and wide, through vastly different cultures and religions.  They study everything from Buddhism and Kung Fu to the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads (Biff even learns quite a bit from the Kama Sutra) before finally returning home to spread the word that the Messiah has come.  Through all their adventures we learn the origins of many of his teachings, which were quite controversial and radical at the time. 

As someone who grew up without religion I’m always surprised at how fascinated I am by theology and the history of religion.  I guess it’s the anthropologist in me.  It was fascinating to read about the various philosophies and religious beliefs that influenced Josh during his quest and proved to shape the core values of his budding ministry. 

The story was more than funny (and it was funny) though.  It was clever, intriguing, thought-provoking, and moving.  Biff’s fierce loyalty and the love he feels for his friend came across on every page, despite the constant wise-cracking and sarcastic remarks.  The same can be said for Maggie (Mary Magdalene), who was a wonderful character.  It was easy to see why both Biff and Josh fell in love with her from day one (a chaste love in Josh’s case, of course). 

There were so many quotes that I wanted to include here but in the end I just couldn’t bring myself to choose.  There were just too many gems.  But I will include what Biff refers to as “the gist of almost every sermon I ever heard Joshua give”:

You should be nice to people, even creeps.

And if you:

a) believed that Joshua was the Son of God (and)

b) he had come to save you from sin (and)

c) acknowledged the Holy Spirit within you (became as a little child, he would say) (and)

d) didn’t blaspheme the Holy Ghost (see c),

then you would:

e) live forever

f) someplace nice

g) probably heaven.

However, if you:

h) sinned (and/or)

i) were a hypocrite (and/or)

j) valued things over people (and)

k) didn’t do a, b, c, and d,

then you were:

l) f*cked

I’m tempted to include the rough draft of the Sermon on the Mount but I’ll let you get to that in the context of the story so you can fully appreciate it.

Toward the end of the book I was so engrossed I had to physically stop reading and remind myself to slow down because I was missing all the little details whilst getting caught up in the action.  I loved the ending, although it was a bit abrupt.  I would have happily read through two hundred more pages just to hang out with Biff a while longer.  Maybe there will be (or is there?) a sequel.  Wishful thinking probably.

Well, if you can’t tell yet I was absolutely enchanted by this book and apologies to all the books in my TBR pile who’ve been waiting patiently for their turn, but I just can’t wait to get my hands on another Christopher Moore book.  My only problem is choosing which one to read next.  I’ve heard great things about Fluke so maybe I’ll go with that one.

Have you read this or any other Christopher Moore books?

* Moore includes this statement in his Afterword: “This story is not and never was meant to challenge anyone’s faith; however, if one’s faith can be shaken by stories in a humorous novel, one may have a bit more praying to do.”

Series Amnesia and Other Thoughts

I don’t have any reviews to post so far this week so I thought I’d share some thoughts on the three books I’m currently reading.

An Echo in the Bone, by Diana Gabaldon

This is the 7th book in the Outlander saga and I’ve finally gotten around to reading it after it waited patiently in my TBR pile since Christmas.  I’m almost halfway through it and so far so good.  The beginning was a bit frustrating because I couldn’t remember what happened at the end of the last book and I was struggling to recall who a few characters were (yes, even major characters like Fergus!).  It was quite distracting, to say the least.  In my defense it’s been a couple years since I read A Breath of Snow and Ashes so I was wracking my brain trying to remember why Roger and Brianna weren’t with Claire and Jamie anymore and why they’d left the plantation (or that Roger and Bree now had a daughter).  It kind of makes me wish I’d re-read the last one to refresh my memory, but again I would have encountered the same problem.  Eventually I want to read the whole series because the first two books are by far my favorite so maybe I’ll do that before the next one comes out (because undoubtedly it will take another couple of years to be released and I will have forgotten everything that happens in this book by then).

Once I got over my initial irritation at my lack of memory, I was able to ease into the story and get back in the swing of things on Fraser Ridge.  I found it to be a bit on the slow side in the beginning, although there was some action (involving a certain character that of course had temporarily slipped my mind) that happened right off the bat.  Jamie still somehow manages to be the most charming, witty, badass, sweet, and stubborn man all at the same time.  Claire is..still Claire, quoting 20th century song lyrics and crying out “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!”  But you have to love the pair of them.  The story is told from various points of view and the only character I just can’t seem to connect with is William, Jamie’s bastard son (no really, he’s illegitimate) who’s serving in the British army.  I really want to like him, and it’s not that I don’t, I just find myself skimming rather quickly through his chapters waiting for something to happen.  I’m surprised by how much I’m getting into the parts with Roger and Bree and the bairns, adjusting to life in the 1980’s in Scotland and finding out letter by letter the fate of Claire and Jamie and the rest of the loved ones they left behind when they went through the stones.

I read a review on Amazon today about this book and learned that there isn’t really an ending so I’m sure I’ll be thoroughly annoyed when I finish the last page, but it’s still Outlander and I adore this series.

Lamb, by Christopher Moore

I’m only about 100 pages in so far but from the very first page (truthfully, from the author’s bio prior to the first page) I became a fan.  This is my first Moore experience and I know it’s early but I have a feeling I’m going to become a devout follower of the man’s work after this.  Just the extended title alone was enough to leave me guffawing like an idiot (The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal.  Seriously?  How can you not crack up at that?).  Not only is the narrative and dialogue witty and hilarious, but the subject matter really intrigues me.  I’m sure a lot of people would be offended by it, but it really is fascinating.  Think about childhood for a second, and how hard it can be.  Now imagine you’re the son of God.  Yikes, right?  Luckily Josh (from Joshua from Yeshua) has his good pal Levi (aka Biff) to watch his back (not to mention do all his sinning for him) while he tries to figure out his destiny and how to fulfill it.  And then there’s Raziel, the dim-witted angel who resurrected Biff 2,000 years after his death to force him to write his own Gospel by orders of the big man himself, who spends all hours of the day watching day-time dramas and believing they’re real (despite Biff’s best efforts to assure him that they’re the equivalent of a Greek drama) and that Soap Opera Digest must have been written by a prophet. 

I’m going to have some serious fun with this one.

Brighid’s Quest, by P.C. Cast 

I requested this one from NetGalley after the gorgeous cover caught my eye and I recognized the author’s name, having just read Marked (the first House of Night novel).  I hadn’t gotten very far when I noticed that there was an awful lot of back-story summing up and I thought to myself she probably should have written a book about these events if she was planning on mentioning them so often.  Then I found out that, in fact, she did.  It’s called Elphame’s Choice and it came out in September of last year.  Oops. 

The good news is, because of all the reminders of what happened in that book (and I’m not usually a fan of re-capping previous books in a series but it was just fine in this case, and I wish Diana Gabaldon would make use of it a little more) I’m up to speed with who all the characters are and the basic premise of the world and story.  I haven’t gotten very far yet but so far I’m getting reeled in and can’t wait to find out what happens next.  This is my first experience with a centaur as the main character, and I love the winged race of New Fomorians – a hybrid of humans and demons.  Hopefully I’ll make some good progress on this on over the weekend and have a review for you sometime next week.

Have you read any of these?  What’s your strategy on reading a new book in a series?  Re-read the previous book or just go for it and hope you don’t develop series amnesia?

Teaser Tuesdays: March 23rd

teasertuesdays31 Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser this week comes from page 38 of Lamb by Christopher Moore:

To Joshua he said, “Kid, were you born in a stable?  Wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger?”

Joshua said nothing.

“That’s the way his mom tells it,” I said.

“Is he retarded?”

“I think you’re his first angel.  He’s impressed, I think.”

Sorry for the extra long teaser again, but I figured it’s fair since it’s all dialogue.  😉  I just started this book tonight and am loving it!