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Werewolf Wednesday…Southern Werewolf Chronicles by J. Morgan, Review of Wolf Blood (1925), and Werewolf Book Recs

These may be too along the lines of that Betsy the Vampire Queen series for me, which I just found annoying and twee, but I tend to give werewolf stories a try anyway.

Book One: Were Love Blooms

Blurb: Madison Lee thought she’d put her European vacation behind her, until the full moon turned her into a hairy beast. A year later she has come to grip with her new life, now her whole world is blown apart. The man who gave her a night of incredible passion and an uncontrollable urge to howl at the moon shows up in town with his sights on taking over her family’s business.

Hot on his heels a stranger comes to town with more than the rustic scenery on his mind. He’s a monster hunter out for Nicholi’s blood and just maybe hers if he finds out her not so little secret. How is a Southern Deb supposed to deal with lovers, killers and the biggest Cotillion of the year all at the same time? Madison soon learns Where there’s a Were, there’s a way and it leads straight to love.

Book Two: Were the Moon Don’t Shine

Blurb: Madison Lee thought her life had become the fairy tale dream she’d always imagined it would be, when the werewolf of her dreams had shown up and popped the question. All it had taken was a group of monster hunters trying to kill her to convince him to bend a knee. Now, thanks to Nicholi’s sister, Jessica, she’s found out he’s been kidnapped and it’s up to her to find him. She refuses to be left at the altar! With her brother Jonas and Jessica tagging along, Maddy uncovers a plot to not only ruin her perfect wedding, but to kill not only Nicholi but her too! Even though she doesn’t know which makes her madder, she knows one thing. Come hell or high water, she’s finding her future husband and teaching these lowlifes that you don’t mess with a Deb’s man. Ever!

I have to admit, the titles made me snort with amusement. If you’ve read these, drop a comment and let me know what you thought, please.

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AND YOU CALL YOURSELF A SCIENTIST! has a fantastic review of WOLF BLOOD (1925). Definitely makes me want to watch it, and read more of that site to see if I like the other reviews just as much.

Excerpt: While it may be a disappointment to some viewers, it is a fact that all the werewolfery in Wolf Blood occurs entirely in Dick Bannister’s mind. There are no transformation scenes here, no full moon, no family curse; just a case of profound psychological disturbance. However, given that lycanthropy may actually be an extreme form of mental illness, I don’t see that this choice disqualifies Wolf Blood from being classified as a werewolf film proper. It certainly does nothing to lessen the horror of Bannister’s immediate situation. Wolf Blood also sits comfortably within the werewolf mythos inasmuch as what happens to Bannister is not his fault.

“Not his fault” up to a point, anyway: Bannister certainly buys into the thought of his inevitable transformation with surprising alacrity. The screenplay, which blames the loggers’ belief upon their being superstitious and credulous by nature, blames Bannister’s upon his weakened condition and the debilitating nature of his injuries.

Still, the willingness of this “civilised” man to believe the worst does tend to suggest some deep-rooted personal issues. He might not be the man-beast of his fears, but Edith may still be getting a bit more than she bargained for.

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Ruby’s Reads: Anything with a Smidge of Romance has a list of werewolf books she recommends and a list she doesn’t recommend. I haven’t read many of them, so I’m adding to my To Read list.

Werewolf Wednesday…Naked Werewolf series by Molly Harper, The Werewolf of NYC by Edwin Vazquez, and Patrick Ryan Frank’s werewolf poetry

Oh, how I’ve missed Werewolf Wednesdays.

How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper.

Blurb: Northern Exposure

Even in Grundy, Alaska, it’s unusual to find a naked guy with a bear trap clamped to his ankle on your porch. But when said guy turns into a wolf, recent southern transplant Mo Wenstein has no difficulty identifying the problem. Her surly neighbor Cooper Graham—who has been openly critical of Mo’s ability to adapt to life in Alaska—has trouble of his own. Werewolf trouble.

For Cooper, an Alpha in self-imposed exile from his dysfunctional pack, it’s love at first sniff when it comes to Mo. But Cooper has an even more pressing concern on his mind. Several people around Grundy have been the victims of wolf attacks, and since Cooper has no memory of what he gets up to while in werewolf form, he’s worried that he might be the violent canine in question.

If a wolf cries wolf, it makes sense to listen, yet Mo is convinced that Cooper is not the culprit. Except if he’s not responsible, then who is? And when a werewolf falls head over haunches in love with you, what are you supposed to do anyway? The rules of dating just got a whole lot more complicated. . . .

While the blurb is interesting enough, I guess, I’m not sure it would have fully caught my attention. However, the review over at Ivy Book Bindings makes it sound hilarious, charming, and exactly the sort of fun book I want to read RIGHT NOW.

And then, when checking out the author’s website, I see there is a second book, The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf, and according to its blurb on the author’s website, the alpha wolf is Maggie Graham. Female alpha? SOLD. I will report back as soon as I can get my hands on these and read them.

The Werewolf of NYC by Edwin Vazquez

First, Teresa Jusino wrote an excellent preview piece over at GirlGamer.com, and now a giveaway of some related goodies. Of the first issue, Teresa says: First, the comic. This shit is bananas, but in the best way. Set in the early 1980′s, The Werewolf of NYC tells the story of Albert Shaw, a severely lonely man who has to deal with the fact that if he doesn’t have complete control over himself, he turns into a werewolf and goes on killing sprees. Not being able to lose control makes having relationships, sexual or otherwise, very difficult. In fact, the first issue shows us what happens when a man has to repress his sexual desires for the benefit of living beings around him. You probably guessed it – it doesn’t turn out too well. Vazquez does a great job of capturing the seedy feel of early 1980′s Hell’s Kitchen, and his art looks like what seeing the world as a bloodthirsty werewolf must feel like. That’s the best thing about Vazquez’s art – it’s visceral.

That sounds badass, and even though I rarely buy comics by the issue right now, I am going to pick this one up.

Over at Austinist.com: Werewolves, Losing, and Being Understood: An Interview with Poet Patrick Ryan Frank.

Excerpt:

Also in the book you deal with not just people who are sympathetic, but also those who are a little less sympathetic, like the werewolf, for example. Do you feel that even the unsympathetic loser is in some way redeemable? Is there an innocent inside of every guilty person?

That’s interesting. I hadn’t really thought about it like that, but I guess I do. I do think that everyone has something sympathetic. Even the most seemingly unsympathetic person can be entered into, and the idea of sympathy as a form of empathy, as understanding, and I think it’s actually important for us to have empathy toward the most awful people because by understanding them we can understand the differences between them and everyone else. So, if I were to write a poem about a serial killer, it wouldn’t necessarily be to give sympathy toward the serial killer but to understand the route that a human being takes to get to that point. I guess that’s what I’m really interested in. Understanding on a both intellectual and emotional level and that’s what comes across as sympathy.

And the werewolf poem? It’s inspired by married men who have sex with other men, and I think that, yes, it’s a despicable thing to be cheating on your spouse, but it’s also a craving that these men might not have much control over. Or they have control over their actions, but not the force behind it. There’s this Stanley Kunitz poem with two lines that have always stuck with me: “What makes the engine go? Desire, desire, desire.” And I think that desire is the great equalizing force between all people. It’s what makes the winners succeed and what makes the losers keep going even after they’ve lost.

That’s profoundly fascinating—I definitely didn’t see that inspiration for the werewolf poem. Do you expect people to get that from the poem just at face value, or is that the type of thing where they need to seek out the author’s opinion to be able to come up with that interpretation?

I think I secretly have a bit of a New Formalist in me in that I don’t want any poem to require a secondary source. I don’t want anyone to feel like they need to know what I think about or care about to like my poems. In fact I try very hard to pull myself out of poems whenever possible. My goal is always to write a poem—that even if it has a deeper valence or a sort of hidden agenda—I want the poem to work even if that’s never discovered. Personally I would think that the werewolf poem is more interesting if you think about it in the context of sexuality but I also hope that it’s an interesting poem even if you don’t. I don’t know if it succeeds or not because no poet is ever really sure of what his poems do. But I like to think that the poem opens itself up to whatever reading a person wants to bring to it. But that sounds so…

Post modern?

Yeah. I generally hate it when people say that because it sounds like you’re abnegating authority. It’s like “Oh, you can get whatever you want out of my poem, I don’t care,” when obviously I do. Like, ideally everyone would read that poem and think “oh, men who have sex with other men, interesting.” But if no one gets that they’re still like, “Oh werewolves, I’ve never read a werewolf poem before, neat” and also be pretty happy.

But I don’t want to be one of those poets that people feel like they need to decipher. That’s so tedious. I love Wallace Stevens but half the time I’m reading Wallace Stevens thinking “I am missing something here.” And then a hundred percent of the time I’m reading Pound I know I’m missing something. But I don’t always find those poets to be that enjoyable.

Accessibility is a really important thing for me. I want to write poems that anybody could like to read. My fantasy audience is always my mother, who, if she’s ever read any of my poems, has never really talked about them, but I like to think that she reads all of them and is thinking, “Oh, I see what he’s doing here, yeah, juxtaposition.” And even if she’s not thinking about what’s happening, she’s still thinking, “Oh, that’s sad, I feel sad now that I’ve read this poem, thank you.”

While I have read werewolf poems before, I’d like to read this one (and the rest of the collection). I’m pretty intrigued by both some of the things he’s saying here about abnegating authority AND about accessibility of writing, particularly poetry. I may have to come back to this with more thoughts. But for the moment, WEREWOLF POETRY!

Werewolf Wednesday…All Hallows Evil (Lord of the Harvest) trailer, Skittles + werewolves, Carrie Vaughn interview, werewolves and mental illness

From DreadCentral.com, a new trailer for All Hallows Evil (Lord of the Harvest).

Synopsis: The sleepy town of Hallowed Hill is known by many as the Halloween capitol of the world because of its history and its pagan origins. People from all around come to visit the town on the night of All Hallows Eve. Two hundred years ago, on Halloween, a great evil was unleashed on the town by a witch who dabbled in the black arts. After a long night of mayhem brought on by this terrible evil, a select group of townsfolk were able to stop the witch and dispatch the evil back into the darkness from whence it came. Now, 200 years later, a young girl finds an ancient pagan book archived deep in the old cellar of the local library, and with the help of her wicked foster mother, the two again release the evil Sam Hain from his hell-bound prison to once again wreak havoc on Halloween night. The question is, can the town join together to stop the evil, or will Hallowed Hill be completely devoured by the Lord of the Harvest.

That trailer looks incredibly, horribly cheesy. Terribly cheesy. Unbelievably cheesy. I really want to like this movie (a town banding together to save itself, a werewolf, full moon, monsters everywhere), but oh my god, the acting and the effects in that trailer, no. Maybe itw ill end up being so cheesy it is awesome. I hope.

Speaking of werewolves and cheesy things that are also delightful, this Skittles commercial is something else.

Weird! Hilarious! There are a ton of commercials in this set, and I’m having way too much fun watching them. Oh, Skittles.

91.5 KUNC has an interesting interview with Carrie Vaugh, author of the Kitty Norville series. In particular, I was interested in what she had to say about the appeal of werewolf stories.

Excerpt:

Ensuing Chapters: What is the fascination with the werewolf? Maybe a theory on what, culturally, the fascination is, and personally, why you chose a werewolf?

Carrie Vaughn: I can tell you what traditionally the werewolf is, and the werewolf is interesting because for about the last 130 years it’s been pretty much the same thing. It hasn’t changed. The vampire has changed a lot. It’s become this other creature representing sin and decay coming from outside the community, and now it’s a symbol of power and immortality and forbidden pleasures and all of these highly sexualized, highly powerful metaphors. So the vampire has changed a lot.

Werewolf stories just have never gotten their time in the light. There have always been werewolves, but culturally, they’ve kind of been stuck in this ‘beast within’ type story. I’ve been calling it the Jekyll and Hyde story. With a few exceptions, every werewolf story—that has focused on werewolves specifically—has been the Jekyll and Hyde: Somebody who’s been overwhelmed by their base instincts and the beast within bursts out and destroys everything and then it dies. The end.

There’s just not a whole lot you can do with that. If that’s the story you’re focusing on, it always has the same trajectory and the same end. You can tell really good stories with that. I think An American Werewolf in London is brilliant, but it’s the same. You get infected, you struggle with the beast within, which bursts free and does horrible things, and then you die. Ginger Snaps, which is another great, recent werewolf movie, the same kind of thing. Even though it kind of turns it on its head. I feel like culturally, people haven’t gotten past the idea that werewolves represent the struggle with base nature, and it’s always the struggle with the beast within. And the beast within always has to lose.

One of the reasons I decided to make the main character a werewolf was to try to get past that metaphor. We can have good stories about werewolves if we’d just get past the idea that werewolves are always doomed to fall victim to this beast within dichotomy. Let’s pretend that you can actually be a well-balanced, functional werewolf who is in control of the beast within and you can actually function in society. What happens then? That just opens it up. Werewolves can then become characters rather than these metaphors, which is what they end up seeming to be in most of the stories that you see them in.

While I think she’s said some interesting things here, I do think there are stories to be told using the monster within metaphor. In particular, I often tell stories where werewolves and mental illness are entwined, and I think those are important stories to tell. In my experience, dealing with a mental illness often feels like dealing with the monster within, and I want to see stories that explore having functional lives while at the same time having that monster within that never goes away. Because you can have a beast within and have a life where you function in society.

Werewolf Wednesday… Darker Than You Think by Jack Williamson

I’m not sure how I’ve missed this book for so long, but I only recently found a copy of Darker Than You Think by Jack Williamson.

Blurb: Who is the child of the night? That’s what small-town reported Will Barbee must find out. Inexorably drawn into investigating a rash of grisly deaths, he soon finds himself embroiled in something far beyond mortal understanding. Doggedly pursuing his investigations, he meets the mysterious and seductive April Bell and starts having disturbing, tantalizing dreams in which he does terrible things–things that are stranger and wilder than his worst nightmares. then his friends being dying one by one and he slowly realizes that an unspeakable evil has been unleashed. As Barbee’s world crumbles around him in a dizzying blizzard of madness, the intoxicating, dangerous April pushes Barbee ever closer to the answer to the question “Who is the Child of Night?” When Barbee finds out, he’ll wish he’d never been born.

That blurb sounds kind of awesome. There’s an author blurb from Douglas E. Winter that calls this “arguably the best, and certainly the best remembered, American novel about lycanthropy.” Clearly that means I need to read it.

The version I picked up is a part of the Fantasy Masterworks series, which “is a library of some of the greatest, most original, and most influential fantasy ever written.” Which sounds like a great idea in theory, but I wonder how much of the collection is works by straight, white men, as these collections tend to go.

Werewolf Wednesday…Wolf-Girls: Dark Tales of Teeth, Claws and Lycogyny and Fiona Apple “Werewolf”

I am pretty eager to get a copy of this new book, Wolf-Girls: Dark Tales of Teeth, Claws and Lycogyny, edited by Hannah Kate, from Hic Dragones. And how sad am I that I didn’t learn about the Manchester launch party until after it occurred? I could have asked my bff to hit it up for me.

Here’s the book trailer:

And the blurb: Feral, vicious, fierce and lost… the she-wolf is a strange creature of the night. Attractive to some; repulsive to others, she stalks the fringes of our world as though it were her prey. She is the baddest of girls, the fatalest of femmes – but she is also the excluded, the abject, the monster. The Wolf-Girls within these pages are mad, bad and dangerous to know. But they are also rejected and tortured, loving and loyal, avenging and triumphant. Some of them are even human…

Seventeen new tales of dark, snarling lycogyny by Nu Yang, Mary Borsellino, Lyn Lockwood, Mihaela Nicolescu, L. Lark, Jeanette Greaves, Kim Bannerman, Lynsey May, Hannah Kate, J. K. Coi, Rosie Garland, R. A. Martens, Beth Daley, Marie Cruz, Helen Cross, Andrew Quinton and Sarah Peacock.

I hope the stories are dark and snarling. I’ve been eager for the nastier, more dangerous side of werewolves for awhile. Plus, I’m always interested to see how female werewolves are portrayed in fiction. (Generally, more sexually dangerous, I think, while male werewolves are often the tortured sympathetic monster, even if still dangerous against their will, and generally not sexually dangerous. The sexuality of the male werewolf tends to come into play when the werewolf is the romantic hero.)

(DUDE! This publisher is going to put out murder mystery and horror games. I WANT TO PLAY A MURDER MYSTERY HORROR GAME. Like The Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow, only more complicated. I probably need to find a new tabletop gaming group and do some werewolf gaming, as much as the thought of that filled me with excitement.)

A werewolf reference more than anything about werewolves, Fiona Apple’s new album as a song called “Werewolf” and I really like this little bit of the lyrics:

I could liken you to a werewolf the way you left me for dead
But I admit that I provided a full moon
And I could liken you to a shark the way you bit off my head
But then again I was waving around a bleeding an open wound
And you are such a super guy ’til the second you get a whiff of me
We’re like a wishing well and a bolt of electricity

Not a lot of werewolf news lately, but hopefully I will have reviews and such soon. Happy fourth, otherwise. Try not to set any werewolves on fire with your fireworks.

Werewolf Wednesday…Alabaster: Wolves, Hemlock trilogy, Blooded and Full Blooded, Secret McQueen series, and Feeding Ground movie and graphic novel

This edition of Werewolf Wednesday is mostly things I haven’t read yet but would like to read soon.

Alabaster: Wolves by Caitlin R. Kiernan and Steve Lieber

Anyone reading this comic? I am intrigued, though from the preview, I’m not sure how I feel about the art. (Not even entirely sure it fully qualifies to be included in Werewolf Wednesday, but some of the reviews I’ve read have hinted that way, and now I’m curious.)

Hemlock Trilogy by Kathleen Peacock

I am really intrigued by the premise here.

Description from Peacock’s website: Mackenzie and Amy were best friends. Until Amy was brutally murdered. Since then, Mac’s life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac’s hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy’s killer: A white werewolf. Lupine syndrome—also known as the werewolf virus—is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control. Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy’s murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy’s boyfriend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk.

A werewolf virus sweeping across the country? Infected hiding among us? Uncontrollable bloodlust? Main character sleuthing out the truth of her best friend’s death? Toss in some delightfully snarky dialog and I am there. I hope this ends up being as awesome as it sounds.

(Oh, damn, I think I like the UK cover better, though. Deadly Hemlock, beware the wolf within. Gorgeous red riding hood imagery.)

Blooded and Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson

(No relation.)

I hadn’t heard anything about this novella (Blooded) and follow-up novel (Full-Blooded) until today, but I am at least tentatively interested.

Description from Amazon: Jessica McClain was born the only female in an all male race. The only problem is-she’s no wolf. Called a curse, a witch and the Daughter of Evil by the superstitious wolves, Jessica decides to fight for her freedom, at age nineteen, the only way she can-in the ring. When she’s brutally attacked right after her fight, is it enough to finally earn her freedom off Compound, or will she be forced to endure the hatred even longer . . .

The review that brought this to my attention made me think that Jessica was a werewolf, but the Amazon description has me sort of doubting it. Either way, I’m interested, though I am leery of only-female-[whatever] in an all male race. Often that means one female character who never interacts with any other female character, and that sucks.

The bit about fighting in the ring does have me excited, though. I’ll have to look into whether the novella will be incorporated into the novel and I should wait until it is out, or if I should grab the novella first.

Secret McQueen Series by Sierra Dean

I am particularly intrigued by the description of the first book in the series, Something Secret This Way Comes.

Description from Dean’s website: Some secrets are dangerous. This Secret is deadly. For Secret McQueen, her life feels like the punch line for a terrible joke. Abandoned at birth by her werewolf mother, hired as a teen by the vampire council of New York City to kill rogues, Secret is a part of both worlds, but belongs to neither. At twenty-two, she has carved out as close to a normal life as a bounty hunter can. When an enemy from her past returns with her death on his mind, she is forced to call on every ounce of her mixed heritage to save herself—and everyone else in the city she calls home. As if the fate of the world wasn’t enough to deal with, there’s Lucas Rain, King of the East coast werewolves, who seems to believe he and Secret are fated to be together. Too bad Secret also feels a connection with Desmond, Lucas’s second-in-command…

I am a fan of stories about bounty hunters, werewolves, and vampires, at least until they go so very very wrong. This sounds like it might be fun, and if it is, there are a number of stories already available. (As much as I love discovering a great series from book one, I also love having plenty to read when I discover something awesome and new to me.)

From Fangoria.com: Ed Pressman is Feeding on Werewolf Project

Description from Fangoria: The FEEDING GROUND graphic novel, created by Swifty Lang, Michael Lapinski and Chris Mangun, is about a “coyote,” or trafficker of illegal immigrants across the Mexico-U.S. border, who has to smuggle his own family into the States when his younger brother crosses a gangster. Their trek takes them into an area known as the Devil’s Highway, where they’re stalked by supernatural creatures. The book was published simultaneously in English and Spanish last year, and the movie will feature a mix of dialogue in both languages.

Something about this sounds really, really familiar. I think I’ve read a short story like it recently, but I cannot put my finger on where. (Hee, were. No pun intended though.) I think the one I read had either a woman shapeshifter or a woman hunting the shapeshifters. I will have to check my files, I know it can’t have been that long ago.

Anyway, I think Feeding Ground has the potential to be an excellent movie, and I want to get my hands on the graphic novel.

Have you been reading anything great lately? I really need to take inspiration from Eliza Reeve and start working my way through books I already own before I buy anything else, but (a) I desperately need to organize my book collection, both hard copies and ebooks (I am seeing the appeal of a dedicated ebook reader) and (b) so little time, so many stories (to read, to write).

Werewolf Wednesday…Taken By Storm by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

OMG YOU GUYS. Jennifer Lynn Barnes just announced that in the lead up to Taken By Storm’s release on May 22, she’ll be doing some giveaways this week. The giveaways are awesome, but what I am really excited about is a new book in this werewolf series, which is, without a doubt, my current favorite YA werewolf series and quite possibly my current favorite werewolf series period. It’s awesome, and I can’t wait to read more. If you haven’t read Raised by Wolves and Trial by Fire, I highly recommend them because they are AWESOME. Werewolves for the win!

Werewolf Wednesday (I Recommend)… Review of Silver Moon by Catherine Lundoff (Lesbian werewolves for the win!)

(Edited to Add: Totally forgot to drop this link: “Supermoon” Coming this Saturday.)

Another Lesbian Werewolves for the Win! Werewolf Wednesday, and I cannot get enough of them.

The ebook version of Silver Moon by Catherine Lundoff is now available, print editions to come, and to celebrate this release, I have a review! (Keep an eye out in June for another celebration, where Catherine will visit the blog, and we’ll give away some prizes!) First, though, links to Silver Moon: Amazon | All Romance E-Books | Lethe Press.

Blurb: Becca Thornton, divorced, middle-aged, and barely out of the closet discovers that life can still hold some strange surprises, when she discovers that her body is changing; menopause turns her into a werewolf. Apparently she is not the only one, as a number of women in her town of Wolf’s Point seem to have had the same experience. As the newest member of the pack, Becca learns her nights are not spent only protecting the town and running through the woods howling at the moon. There are werewolf hunters in town and they’ve got Becca in their sights.

(NB: Above links are not affiliate links. Author provided an e-arc of the book for review. Also, I don’t believe there are spoilers, other than what you can get from various descriptions of the book.)

I was sold on the premise of Silver Moon from the start: women werewolves protecting their town? Characters of “a certain age” being awesome? Women kicking ass? Lesbians being heroes? Yes please, all of that and more. And I’m pleased to say that overall, I loved the story and hope to spend more time with these characters in the future. There aren’t enough supernatural stories about lesbians, or women who are werewolves, or older characters, and especially not about older lesbian werewolves who are completely awesome. I was giddy at discovering Silver Moon, and I’m still giddy after having such a good time while reading. The details of the werewolves are delightful (keeping a throat covered when laughing, because baring it says [potentially unintended] things, the smell of happiness, the sounds they can hear), and I love that this is a story about women and so many things they are and can be.

I do have my issues. There are uses of “crazy” and “insane” that I found pretty ableist, and a reference to a mental hospital that made me cringe. (Yes, I know this is language that is used in everyday life. Believe me, I know. I deal with it all the time.) Though there are quite a bit of racial diversity in the characters, particularly the werewolves, the story is so tightly focused on Becca and the things she’s discovering about herself that often the other characters get short shrift and the racial diversity falls to the background. (I’m hoping there will be additional books and the other characters will have more page time. I am particularly intrigued by Deputy Lizzie Blackhawk, who is smart and snarky and badass, and also, I think I’m in love.) The last twenty pages or so seemed rushed, especially compared to the slower build of the first half of the book. (Though now that I look at the actual page numbers, werewolf things start happening early in the book, and I can’t quite put my finger on why it felt like a slower build. I like slower builds, particularly in books about monsters.)

All of that being said, I really loved the book. I loved Becca and her changes, physical, emotional, sexual. I loved the werewolf pack, all the women and the work they do to keep their town safe. I loved the worldbuilding, the rules for werewolves, and the juxtaposition of interesting things: supernatural and scientific, monster and human, hunter and hunted, predator and prey. About halfway through, the story grabbed me and I devoured the rest, deadlines be damned, in a glorious rush of action and intrigue and lies and truth. It is truly a supernatural adventure, decorated with bits of humor and romance and angst.

One of the things I like most about werewolves and werewolf stories is the metaphor of lycanthropy as mental illness, particularly my experience with bipolar disorder: the (sometimes) uncontrollable physical changes lining up with the (sometimes) uncontrollable mental changes, cycle for cycle. There are moments where the language, the description, so exactly captures what I think of when I think of werewolves, of that metaphor for mental illness, that it made me want to stand up and cheer, except that meant I’d have to stop reading, and so I didn’t. (“… she could feel that same wildness building in her … clawing its way to the surface inside her, racing beneath her skin and preparing to break through.”)

Silver Moon does not address this metaphor. What it does address is similar, though, and really made the story appealing to me: (sometimes) uncontrollable physical changes for (sometimes) uncontrollable physical changes. Lundoff’s werewolves aren’t a metaphor for mental illness, but for the way our bodies become different with age. (Literally and literally, for her werewolves; menopause brings the changes we recognize, but also changes Becca could never anticipate.)

Silver Moon isn’t just a story about lesbians, or women getting older, or werewolves being secret superheroes, or women being victimized. It isn’t a story where the women are monsters because, wink wink nudge nudge, all women are monstrous, am I right? (Can you tell I am exhausted by all of the stories where women are victims or villains and nothing in between?) At its heart, it is a story that either we can relate to now, or we will relate to later. It is the story of change, in good ways and bad. Sometimes – eventually, inevitably — our bodies change, our minds change, our lives change, without warning, and without our desire for it to occur. We get older. We deal with mental illness, or physical. We lose those we loved, we leave them, we say good-bye. We fight to keep our homes; we fight to create a place for ourselves in a new world after we’ve been rocked by things that happen to us, around us, we fight to keep those we love safe.

As readers, many of us search for ourselves in the stories we read, often to no avail if we aren’t straight, white, able bodied and minded, cisgendered, and/or male. In Lundoff’s werewolves, I found pieces of myself, my questions about what I am and what I have and what I will become; the push and pull of pack ties (family ties) with solitary natures and the need to seek adventures alone; and those shining moments of human and monster, separate and one, all wrapped up in a rollicking adventure that was simply fun. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, because it fits this story so well.

Lesbian werewolves for the win!

Werewolf Wednesday…

FDR: American Badass trailer

Potential for racism and sexism and ableism: high. HOWEVER, werewolves at war + silver bullet shooting wheelchair = AMAZING. Also, the cheese level here is amazing. Cheesy werewolf movies for the win.

Werewolves takes the form of an illustrated journal that plunges readers into the life of a high school girl-turned-werewolf as she makes her transformation. After Alice and her brother are bitten by what they assume are large dogs, her journal/sketchbook becomes a place for her to record the changes they start to experience her socially awkward brother falls in with some creepy new friends, and she surprises herself with new strengths and instincts and a suddenly nonvegetarian interest in raw steak. Joining the werewolf pack that bit them, they discover the pleasures and dangers that come with the cycles of the moon, including threats from “hunters” who stalk them, a researcher seeking a cure, and escalating violence within the pack itself. With a fresh take on the lore and legend, Werewolves gives fans a ripping tale to sink their teeth into.

Good grief, I am tempted to overnight this because I want to read it RIGHT NOW. I wonder what the odds are that one of the bookstores here, independent or chain, would have this in stock. Probably low, unfortunately. But this has the potential to have so many things I love: siblings! werewolves! sketchbook as journal! navigating the new strengths and instincts as a werewolf! pleasures and dangers that come with the cycles of the moon! researchers working for cures! pack politics and violence! At least on the surface, this looks nearly custom-made to be something I will love.

From Bloody-Disgusting.com, werewolf found footage film from the team behind Devil Inside.

The plot is being kept under tight wraps, but the film is expected to follow in the found-footage style of Devil Inside. Bloody Disgusting did the actual leg work and exclusively learned the project is a werewolf film. We’ve been told that the pic takes place in police station with the suspect turning into a werewolf.

I didn’t actually know Devil Inside was found footage. I am cautiously excited about the werewolf movie, though I fear there will be a lot of first person (as it is, you know, found footage), which can be a problem for me, but maybe it will worth it. I hope it is worth it. I love the idea of a found footage werewolf movie, though we’ll see how the execution is. (I’d love to read the book equivalent of a found footage movie. A diary? Or even just a collection of short stories that are like the scenes of the movie? I will give this more thought. If you have any recommendations, that would be wonderful.)

From Werewolf-News.com, MacGuffin’s Curse werewolf puzzle game.

WEREWOLF PUZZLE GAME, YES PLEASE! This is almost as awesome (or, probably, way more awesome) than the werewolf slot machine I found one glorious night in a casino. (And then, much like an elusive werewolf, I couldn’t find the damn thing the next time. They got rid of it, and my heart broke a little. If I can track one down, I am going to buy it. It was a slot machine with a story built into it, and it was amazing.) But this! MacGuffin’s Curse looks like it will combine the awesomeness of werewolves with the fun of puzzle games (and this is probably a personal preference, but I think puzzle games are full of fun) in fabulous ways. I am really looking forward to giving this a try. WEREWOLF PUZZLE GAME!

In My Mailbox (4)…Series and Sexytimes

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

Decent haul this time, because I did a lot of shopping in the Barnes & Noble after holiday sales.

Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich: Turn on all the lights and check under your bed. Things are about to get spooky in Trenton, New Jersey. According to legend, the Jersey Devil prowls the Pine Barrens and soars above the treetops in the dark of night. As eerie as this might seem, there are things in the Barrens that are even more frightening and dangerous. And there are monkeys. Lots of monkeys. Wulf Grimoire is a world wanderer and an opportunist who can kill without remorse and disappear like smoke. He’s chosen Martin Munch, boy genius, as his new business partner, and he’s chosen the Barrens as his new playground. Munch received his doctorate degree in quantum physics when he was twenty-two. He’s now twenty-four, and while his brain is large, his body hasn’t made it out of the boys’ department at Macy’s. Anyone who says good things come in small packages hasn’t met Munch. Wulf Grimoire is looking for world domination. Martin Munch would be happy if he could just get a woman naked and tied to a tree. Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum has Munch on her most-wanted list for failure to appear in court. Plum is the all-American girl stuck in an uncomfortable job, succeeding on luck and tenacity. Usually she gets her man. This time she gets a monkey. She also gets a big guy named Diesel. Diesel pops in and out of Plum’s life like birthday cake – delicious to look at and taste, not especially healthy as a steady diet, gone by the end of the week if not sooner. He’s an über bounty hunter with special skills when it comes to tracking men and pleasing women. He’s after Grimoire, and now he’s also after Munch. And if truth were told, he wouldn’t mind setting Stephanie Plum in his crosshairs. Diesel and Plum hunt down Munch and Grimoire, following them into the Barrens, surviving cranberry bogs, the Jersey Devil, a hair-raising experience, sand in their underwear, and, of course . . . monkeys.

Finger Lickin’ Fifteen by Janet Evanovich: New Jersey bail-bonds office worker Lula is a witness to celebrity chef, Stanley Chipotle, losing his head, literally. Now Lula and Stephanie Plum, a bond enforcement officer, are on the hunt to identify the killers before Lula is next on the chopping block. Meantime, security expert Carlos Manoso, aka Ranger, has recruited Stephanie for a top secret mission. Someone on the inside at Rangeman is leaking client information, determined to bring the company down. Can Stephanie hunt down a killer, a traitor, and keep her Grandma out of the sauce?

Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo (which apparently came from a local store to the author, because it is tagged as such and autographed, which was a nice surprise): The Plank family moved from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to join the small Amish community of Painters Mill less than a year ago and seemed the model of the Plain Life—until on a cold October night, the entire family of seven was found slaughtered on their farm. Police Chief Kate Burkholder and her small force have few clues, no motive, and no suspect. Formerly Amish herself, Kate is no stranger to the secrets the Amish keep from the English—and each other—but this crime is horribly out of the ordinary. State agent John Tomasetti arrives on the scene to assist. He and Kate worked together on a previous case during which they began a volatile relationship. They soon realize the disturbing details of this case will test their emotional limits and force them to face demons from their own troubled pasts—and for Kate, a personal connection that is particularly hard to bear. When she discovers a diary that belonged to one of the teenaged daughters, Kate is shocked to learn the girl kept some very dark secrets and may have been living a lurid double life. Who is the charismatic stranger who stole the young Amish girl’s heart? Could the brother—a man with a violent past, rejected and shunned by his family and the Amish community, have come to seek out revenge? As Kate’s outrage grows so does her resolve to find the killer and bring him to justice—even if it means putting herself in the line of fire.

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters: August 1910. Banned from the Valley of the Kings by the Antiquities Service, Amelia Peabody and her husband, Emerson, are relaxing at home in Kent, enjoying the tranquil beauty of summer. But adventure soon beckons when they are persuaded to follow would-be archaeologist Major George Morley on an expedition to Palestine, a province of the crumbling, corrupt Ottoman Empire and the Holy Land of three religions. Searching for the vanished treasures of the Temple in Jerusalem, Morley is determined to unearth the legendary Ark of the Covenant. The skeptical Emerson wants no part of the scheme until a request from the War Office and Buckingham Palace persuades him to reconsider. The Germans are increasing their influence in Palestine and British intelligence insists that Morley is an agent of the Kaiser, sent to stir up trouble in this politically volatile land. Emerson can’t believe that the seemingly inept Morley is a German spy, but could he be mistaken? Determined to prevent a catastrophically unprofessional excavation that could destroy priceless historical finds as well as cause an armed protest by infuriated Christians, Jews, and Muslims who view the Temple Mount, also known as the Dome of the Rock, as sacred, Amelia, Emerson, and company head to Palestine. Though it is not to her beloved Egypt, the trip to Jerusalem will also reunite her with her handsome and headstrong son, Ramses, working on a dig at Samaria, north of the holy city. Before Ramses can meet his parents, however, he is distracted by an unusual party of travelers who have arrived in Samaria, including a German woman archaeologist and a mysterious man of unknown nationality and past. Unfortunately, Ramses’s insatiable curiosity and his knack for trouble lead him to a startling discovery: information he must pass on to his parents in Jerusalem—if he can get there alive. Once again the Peabody-Emerson clan must use all their skills and wiles to find the truth, prevent a bloody holy war, and save their son from the clutches of a nefarious enemy in this wonderfully engaging tale chock-full of thrills, mystery, and daring from the inimitable Elizabeth Peters.

Laughed ‘Til He Died by Carolyn Hart: Intrigue and foul play are no strangers to the idyllic South Carolina sea island of Broward’s Rock. Mystery bookstore owner Annie Darling and her husband, Max, who specialize in solving problems, plunge into a startling web of danger and deceit when a trio of deaths is linked to the island’s youth recreation center. With the evidence mounting against her, the center’s director seeks out Max to clear her name. When it comes to intrigue, where Max goes, Annie isn’t far behind. To save an innocent woman, the pair scrambles to unravel three complex interlinked puzzles: the mystery of three guns, the pulled-out pant pockets of one victim, and the disappearance of a teenager whose stepfather always had the last laugh—until he died.

Bite Me: A Love Story by Christopher Moore: The city of San Francisco is being stalked by a huge shaved vampyre cat named Chet, and only I, Abby Normal, emergency backup mistress of the Greater Bay Area night, and my manga-haired love monkey, Foo Dog, stand between the ravenous monster and a bloody massacre of the general public. Whoa. And this is a love story? Yup. ‘Cept there’s no whining. See, while some lovers were born to run, Jody and Tommy were born to bite. Well, reborn, that is, now that they’re vampires. Good thing theirs is an undying love, since their Goth Girl Friday, Abby Normal, imprisoned them in a bronze statue. Abby wants to be a bloodsucking fiend, too, but right now she’s really busy with other stuff, like breaking in a pair of red vinyl thigh-high Skankenstein® platform boots and wrangling her Ph.D.-candidate boyfriend, Steve (the love monkey). And then there’s that vampire cat Chet, who’s getting bigger and smarter—and thirstier—by the minute. Abby thought she and Steve could handle the kitty cat on their own, mais non . . .
Before you can say “OMG! WTF?” Tommy and Jody are sprung from captivity, and join forces with Abby, Steve, the frozen-turkey-bowling Safeway crew, the Emperor of San Francisco and his trusty dogs Lazarus and Bummer, Abby’s gay Goth friend Jared, and SF’s finest Cavuto and Rivera to hunt big cat and save the city. And that’s when the fun really begins.

Paradise Rules by Beth Kery (sexy stories about characters of color in Hawaii, yes please!): To most people, Hawaii’s crystal blue shores are an inviting opportunity to escape reality. But for Lana Rodriguez, who grew up there, the picture-perfect vacation getaway disguises the bitter truths she escaped years ago, and not without some emotional scars. Now a successful blues singer, Lana’s returning to Waikiki to control her own destiny, with a bold defiance when it comes to men, romance, and sex. A local celebrity, businessman, and island god, Jason Koa is every woman’s dream-but for Lana, it’s not love at first sight. Though their start is rocky, they can’t deny the passions they arouse in each other. Jason decides it’s time to show Lana who makes the rules on this island-and in the bedroom. But will Jason’s attempt at breaking Lana’s shell reveal secrets that neither are prepared to face, or will they allow themselves to get swept away by a tidal wave of desire?

Pleasures of the Forbidden Valley by Diana Mercury: Legend tells of a lost valley high in the Himalayas—a place where fantasy, sensuality, and pleasure reign supreme. Diandra is determined to find this magical place . . . at any cost. A beautiful and sexually adventurous cultural anthropologist, Diandra is exhilarated when an intriguing exotic stranger offers to take her to his legendary hidden village a world away. Marriage is the price, he tells her, and Diandra hesitantly agrees. But after an arduous journey to the breathtaking Lost Valley, she is stunned to discover that local custom demands she be the wife to all of her new husband’s virile brothers as well—and that each union must be consummated . . . before the entire village! At first shocked, Diandra soon finds her new role deliciously appealing, as the passionate attentions of three enthusiastic lovers carry her to new pinnacles of erotic satisfaction. But there is a mysterious fourth brother—proud, handsome, hot, charismatic, and resentful of an arrangement that forces him to share. When Yeshi returns to the valley, suddenly Diandra’s simple life of nonstop pleasure is not so simple anymore . . . as taboos are broken and passions spin wildly, unexpectedly out of control.

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