A Time Travel Tagging

I was recently tagged by Lynn over at Books & Travelling with Lynn. The subject is all about books and time traveling, in one way or another. I really enjoy these tag posts as they often give me something to talk about without having to use a lot of brainpower. Here are the Q&A.

SummersOwlDanceWhat is your favorite historical setting for a book?

It’s hard to pick just one. I’ve read plenty of stories set in ancient Greece (Mary Renault), Roman murder mysteries & ‘celebrities’ (John Maddox Roberts, Conn Iggulden), and the 1800s of the American West (David Lee Summers, Cherie Priest). Also, the Tudor era attracts me. In fact, I’m currently wrapped up in Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory.

AsimovStarsLikeDustWhat writer/s would you like to travel back in time to meet?

Isaac Asimov is near the top of my list. His books feature prominently in my childhood/teen years. I read his Lucky Starr series but also many of his adult novels. For kicks, I’d love to meet Homer and put to rest the age-old argument on whether Homer was male or female or collection of authors. I wouldn’t mind meeting Pearl S. Buck. Her novel, The Good Earth, was required reading in both the 5th and 9th grades (I moved and changed school districts, so that’s why I got hit twice with this classic) and I loved it both times. She had a very interesting life and it wouldn’t just be her books I’d pester her with questions about, but also her travel and years living in China.

LynchTheLiesOfLockeLamoraWhat book/s would you travel back in time and give to your younger self?

There’s so much good stuff out today! Apart from a few classics, most of the ‘safe’ or required reading I had access to as a kid was boring and often felt fake or like it was missing a big element of life – you know, all the gooey, messy bits that make all the good parts that much better. Luckily, I had full access to any SFF novel in the house and there were plenty of those. So to supplement my childhood bookshelf, I would give myself Andy Weir’s The Martian, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series, and The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.


What book/s would you travel forward in time and give to your older self?

I would speed ahead to my future self and hand her a copy of Robert E. Howard’s stories. His writing is some of the best I have enjoyed and yet several of his stories, Conan or otherwise, have certain sexist and racist elements that really repel me. This book would remind me that humans, including myself, are flawed and that things change over the years, such as views on a woman’s proper role in high fantasy adventure. Yet despite these shortcomings, a person can still love a story, or a person, or a country, etc.

ChaneyTheAmberProjectWhat is your favorite futuristic setting from a book?

I always enjoy closed systems and several feature in SF stories. These are domed cities (Logan’s Run by Nolan & Johnson), underground villages (The Amber Project series by JN Chaney), underwater towns (Lucky Starr & the Oceans of Venus by Isaac Asimov), very large space stations (The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey), etc.. There’s the wonder of discovering these places, seeing how they are supposedly working and will go on working forever, and then watching it all come apart in some horrible way that means death for most of the people in the story. Yeah, welcome to my little demented side.


Grahame-SmithAustenPrideAndPrejudiceAndZombiesWhat is your favorite book that is set in a different time period (can be historical or futuristic)?

For fun, I wouldn’t mind visiting Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I really like the idea of making polite ball jokes, decapitating zombies, working out in the dojo, and politely trading British insults over tea. Honestly, I think that is the only way I would survive the Victorian era.

RobertsTheKingsGambitSpoiler Time: Do you ever skip ahead to the end of a book just to see what happens?

Back when I was eyeball reading printed books (I do mostly audiobooks now) I had a ritual. I would start a book and at that moment that I knew I was hooked, that I had fallen in love with the story, I would turn to the last page and read the last sentence. Most of the time this didn’t spoil anything, but every once in a while there would be a final line that gave away an important death or such.

PriestMaplecroftIf you had a Time Turner, where would you go and what would you do?

Actually, I do have a Time Turner. My husband bought it for me at the start of September while he was at an SCA event. It was right after we learned that I was quite sick but a few weeks before we learned just how sick. So, lots of bitter sweet emotions tied up with that piece of jewelry.

Anyhoo, if I had a working one, I would go everywhere and do everything. I would start with planning things that Bill and I have wanted to do together (like celebrating Beltane in a pre-Christian era) and then add in things that I have always wanted to do but which my be a big snooze fest for Bill (such as Charles Darwin’s Beagle voyage).

JonasAnubisNightsFavorite book (if you have one) that includes time travel or takes place in multiple time periods?

Currently, I’m enjoying the Jonathan Shade series by Gary Jonas. Time travel really becomes an element in this urban fantasy series in the second trilogy with Ancient Egypt featuring prominently. I also adore Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I finally read a Stephen King novel, 11-22-63. The characters were great even as the underlying premise was only so-so for me. The Dinosaur Four by Geoff Jones was a fun, crazy creature feature.

ButcherColdDaysWhat book/series do you wish you could go back and read again for the first time?

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, for sure. I’ve read the early books several times each and I get a laugh out of them each time. Also I would like to experience Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey all over again for the first time. That book showed me how prudish some of my ideas were when I first read it. I wonder what it would show me now? Perhaps the same thing, if indeed this book has had as big an impact on who I am as I think.

Tagging Other People

So in general with these fun tagging posts, I never want anyone to feel obligated to play along. As usual, if any of you want to play along, I definitely encourage you. You can answer any of the questions in the comments or you can throw up your own blog post and then let em know about it so I can come read it. Here are some people who I think would like this particular time travel subject:

David Lee Summers

Under My Apple Tree

Beauty Is A Sleeping Cat

On Starships & Dragonwings

Best of 2014

ElwesLaydenAsYouWishA big thank you to all the publishers, authors, and narrators who generously provided review copies, especially the audiobooks. Thanks to all my book blogger friends, real life friends, and family who recommended books, or simply let me babble on about books even when you really didn’t care. According to Goodreads (which I don’t use religiously but perhaps I should just for the stats) says I read 116 books this year, the majority of which were audiobooks. Here is my list of favorites from 2014. Enjoy!

SummersLightningWolvesAs You Wish by Cary Elwes – Nonfiction: True adventures of the filming of the movie The Princess Bride. Lots of good stuff to make you laugh.

AlvaVosper'sRevengeLightning Wolves by David Lee Summers – Steampunk: Wild west gets even wilder in this multi-cultural steampunk adventure.

BernheimerPenniesForferrymanVosper’s Revenge by Kristian Alva – Epic Fantasy: Book 3 of the series and a most excellent wrap up to the first trilogy in this world. Intense and insightful!

Pennies for the Ferryman by Jim BernheimerUrban fantasy: Mike Ross is a reluctant detective with a bad eye that lets him communicate with the ghost world. A great nitty-gritty ride. 

Ancient Stout being used as a bookstand.

CampbellDragonsOfDorcastleThe Art of Eating through the Zombie Apocalypse by Lauren Wilson & Kristian Bauthus – Nonfiction: Cookbook, survival book, and snarky humor on the end of civilization as we know it.

ShrumDyingForALivingDragons of Dorcastle by Jack Campbell – Epic Fantasy: Book 1 in a new series with some steampunk thrown in with unreal magic. Excellent world building in this book!

Tofu actually believes he is hiding behind this book.

Dying for a Living by Kory M. Shrum – Urban Fantasy: Jesse is a Necronites who can take the place of another in death….and come back to life. I almost passed this book up and it turned out to be one of my faves of the year. I thank the book gnomes for preventing me from being a total dunce!

PriestMaplecroftWords of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson – Epic Fantasy: Book 2 in the Stormlight Archives and some of the best fiction I have ever read, hands-down.

7912701Maplecroft by Cherie Priest – Gothic Horror: Take Lizzie Borden and Cthulu monsters and you have something cunningly magnificent. Dare I say this is what Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, and HP Lovecraft have been waiting for?

WillisAllClearBoneshaker by Cherie Priest – Steampunk: The Civil War hasn’t ended and the Pacific Northwest remains in shambles due to an industrial accident. Complex world surrounds a complex relationship between a mother and son.

SeboldShanghaiSparrowAll Clear by Connie Willis – Time Travel: Book 2 in the All Clear series is an excellent wrap up to Blackout (WWII historical fiction).

MartinDeadlyCuriositiesShanghai Sparrow by Gaie Sebold – Steampunk: Awesome multi-cultural fiction with a stubborn lass at the center of it.

BowmanArrowThroughAxesDeadly Curiosities by Gail Z. Martin – Urban Fantasy: Certain objects attract ghosts or hold onto malevolent memories. Time to call in the right detectives to neutralize the object!

AlexanderAmbassadorArrow through the Axes by Patrick Bowman – Classic Retelling: Book 3 concludes Bowman’s excellent retelling of the ancient The Odyssey.

JangDearLeaderAmbassador by William Alexander – Science Fiction: Awesome adventure that asks so much from one young lad.

Cats: Picky readers.

Dear Leader by Jang Jin-sung – Nonfiction: A look inside North Korea from a native poet and spy. Absolutely fascinating.

FremantleSistersOfTreasonThe Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman – Historical Fiction: Beautiful story of two young people in NY during one of the worst fires in history.

LornDastardlyBastardSisters of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle – Historical Fiction: The sisters of Lady Jane Grey must navigate murky political waters for decades, and they do not always succeed.

KozeniewskiBraineaterJonesDastardly Bastard by Edward Lorn – Horror: A fast-paced, intense ride right up to the end.

Braineater Jones by Stephen Kozeniewski – Urban Fantasy: Think noir detective meets zombies. Yeah. Pretty fucking awesome indeed.

One of the few times Smudge has willingly held still for her photo.

JordanNewSpringThe Kingdom of the Gods by N. K. Jemisin – Epic Fantasy: Book 3 of The Inheritance Trilogy offers a beautiful ending to this complex and rich series.

AtwoodMaddAddamNew Spring by Robert Jordan – Epic Fantasy: I believe this to be Jordan’s finest work in The Wheel of Time series.

Grahame-SmithAustenPrideAndPrejudiceAndZombiesThe MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood – Dystopian: I read all three of these books this year and each blew me away in different ways. Atwood had me laughing one minute and wanting to punch something the next.

Streak sleeping in his basket.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith & Jane Austen – Classic Retelling: Yep, hoity-toity aristocracy of England has been infested with zombies. And now it is fashionable to send your kids off to Asia to become martial arts experts. A most excellent and entertaining book!

The Mystery of Grace by Charles de Lint – Paranormal Fantasy: A captivating tale of a mechanic who has to figure out a way to free herself and others from a mundane afterlife.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith (& Jane Austen)

Grahame-SmithAustenPrideAndPrejudiceAndZombiesWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: Katherine Kellgren

Publisher: Brilliance Audio (2009)

Length: 11 hours 5 minutes

Series: Book 1 Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

Author’s Page

Let me start with being upfront about some things: 1) I’ve never been a Jane Austen fan. I find her works to be silly and inconsequential, full of upper society gossip where the women have very narrow and superficial concerns. 2) I have never been big on zombies. As a biologist, it is hard for me to suspend my disbelief when it comes to reanimating dead flesh (though if an author does it with magic, it is easier for me to ignore my skepticism). But over the past year, I have read and watched some zombie fiction so I have warmed up to the ‘ambivalent’ level (which is quite a bit higher than the cold-shouldered Hell no! level at which zombies previously resided in my world).

OK, now that I have that off my chest, let me say that Jane Austen’s work, zombies, and the warrior Bennet sisters all work beautifully together to create one very entertaining listen! The entire framework from the original Pride and Prejudice is there. There just happens to be zombies, Asian martial arts, and ball jokes thrown in. A few generations before the book opens, the zombies started appearing in England. More tend to pop up during the wet season, as the muddy earth makes it easier for them to come to light. Anyway, it is now very much in vogue for rich families to have their children (male or female) trained in Japan or China in a variety of martial arts. Every family who is worth the notice has at least three dojos in which to practice daily. So, all 5 Bennet sisters were trained in Japan and the family has since returned to England. All 5 are highly encouraged to find suitable marriages sooner rather than later. But with the Unmentionables (zombies) wandering the countryside, attacking carriages and livestock willy nilly, the Bennets are often distracted from their marital goals.

I really enjoyed that the author didn’t try to explain the source of the zombies, or even the mechanism that kept them going. For all practical purpose, with none of the Bennets being doctors or even scientists, it was not really relevant to their day to day lives. I quite enjoyed the numerous interactions with the zombies and the variety of ways they were dispatched. Some of the sisters prefer katanas to long bows to throwing daggers, etc. It was so very amusing to see these ladies dispatching the Undead and yet striving to remain ladylike.

The story line still has Mr. Darcy, who I take is suppose to be the irritable hearth throb of the original book. He too is a warrior and often appreciates the abilities of the Bennets, especially of Elizabeth. He has the opportunity to show off his zombie beheading prowess more than once. Also, he is usually present for the ball jokes. Yep, jokes concerning the ‘most English parts’ of the male physique. And these jokes are carried out in such a fashion to compliment Jane Austen’s work, often bringing me to a fit of giggles. I can only imagine that such jokes truly did take place during that time period.

This particular edition had a forward by the author in which he explains how the idea for the story came to him (via a friend). The author goes on to chat about the first reactions to the first edition of the book (people wanted more zombies!) so this is the new, improved edition with those extra zombies. It was a most excellent read and is probably the only way that anyone will ever get me to read Jane Austen as an adult. Hats off to the author!

Narration:  Katherine Kellgren was an excellent pick for the narration on this book. She was a great voice for the Bennet sisters (each one distinct) and carried out the dry humor perfectly. She played the straight man to all of the jokes, letting them sneak up and sit there in front of the listener. It was great. She also had several male voices (again, all distinct) and some zombie voices. For one character, she had to alter the character’s voice as the story moved forward because the character was slowly being zombiefied. Not an easy task and she did it beautifully (or putrifyingly).

What I Liked:  The cover; the whole idea is awesome; finally got me to read Austen as an adult (not required by school, etc.); the Bennet sisters are warriors!; Mr. Darcy and his jokes; the narration.

What I Disliked:  No complaints here – excellent book!

What Others Think:

Open Letters Monthly


Lit Lovers

Transformative Works & Cultures

Austen Blog

Interview: Stephen Kozeniewski, Author of Braineater Jones

KozeniewskiBraineaterJonesDabbers, please welcome Stephen Kozeniewski, author of Braineater Jones, a zombie mystery noir with more than one twist. You can catch my review of Braineater Jones over HERE. Today, we talk about the original Warcraft, Shawshank Redemption, and MASH. I expect you will find Stephen’s answers as entertaining as I did.

1) Given the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs?

I strongly wish to have a Babel fish stuck in my ear and I would avoid that preachy-ass Lorax.

2) As a veteran of the United States Field Artillery Corps, are there skills you learned from that experience that you used in your writing? In the publishing world?

I have very rarely felt the need to shell my enemies since becoming a writer (although you’re on notice, Gillian Flynn) but I think military experience is good to have because so many writers get it so, so wrong.  Don’t get me wrong, I love watching MASH and, yes, even Enlisted as much as the next guy, but I think people, especially veterans, appreciate verisimilitude in their fictional depictions of war.  Of course, I also learned discipline, organization, and etiquette from the army, and, yes, even how to rain napalm on any chick lit authors who happen to arouse my ire should the need ever arise.

3) With the modern popularity to ebooks, a book is no longer limited to a specific genre shelf. It is now quite easy to place an ebook in multiple genres (i.e. YA, Fantasy, Horror). How do you see this affecting readers? Have you been inadvertently lured outside your reading comfort zone?

I definitely think mashups are going to be the “it” thing for a while.  People are always looking for something original and the easiest way for some hack writer to capitalize on that is to come up with some hacky idea like “zombie noir” or “cartoon steampunk.”  (Also, I just came up with an idea for a book called STEAMPUNK WILLIE…)  So, yes, I think we’ll see more blended genres in the future, and I’m hoping that translates to double the audience.  I could also see someone who loves regency romance reading PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES and then on the strength of that going to read DAY BY DAY ARMAGEDDON.  So maybe readers will get to explore outside their comfort zone.  I, of course, have never read any book other than FINNEGANS WAKE, so it won’t affect me.  I’ve re-read it 600 times now, and I keep hoping that the last line won’t loop back around to the first and I won’t have to start over, but so far no such luck.

KozeniewskiGhoulArchipelago4) In my experience, some of the best fiction is based on facts and history. How do you build your research into your fictional works, such as the Prohibition era in Braineater Jones?

If you’re looking for well-researched history in BRAINEATER JONES, prepare to be disappointed.  However, I did work in a substance abuse clinic for several years and I think the social workers would not be disappointed in how I portrayed addiction in the book.  The flesh cravings of the zombies is, of course, a metaphor for alcoholism, and the alcoholism is a metaphor for overindulging in the 12 Steps…it’s a whole thing.

5) In writing your bad guys, do you want the reader to enjoy hating on him/her, or do you want the reader to be waiting for that magical moment when they redeem themselves?

Oh, no.  There’s no Darth Vader moment for The Old Man.  I like my villains to be the chiefest and greatest calamities of their respective ages.

6) Is there a book to movie/TV adaptation that you found excellent? Is there a PC game to book adaptation that worked for you?

Well, I stand by my longstanding conceit that the film version of The Shawshank Redemption was far superior to the original novella.  I honestly cannot think of a single PC game that was adapted into a book so I feel ill-equipped to answer that question.  Also, I think the last PC game I played was Warcraft.  (Not World of Warcraft.  Not Warcraft III.  Warcraft.)

BuftonAnother100Horrors7) In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?

I really enjoy getting to meet the titans of the industry and interacting with them as peers.  (And praying that they don’t find out I’m a complete and utter sham.)  What I find most challenging is translating marketing into sales.  Sometimes I can tweet, FB, send e-mails, and write blog posts all day and my sales rank never changes.  It can be discouraging but when I do get a sale or a review or sometimes just a kind word from a reader it can inflate my whole mood and make me feel like maybe I’m not such a sham after all.  (But I still am.)

8) What is your favorite fictional holiday (from books, movies, or tv)?

Vindaloo Day from that great unappreciated masterwork of our time, Outsourced.  Jolly Vindaloo Day, everybody!

9) How did you celebrate that first time experience of having a piece accepted for publication?

For the release of BRAINEATER JONES my wife threw me a big party (or, as they would say in Harlan County, a whoop-dee-doo.)  Most of my favorite people in the world were there and I shamelessly sold them all copies of both of my novels and signed, signed, signed the night away.  My friend Tony also made a brain-shaped cake.  (http://pic.twitter.com/xNmc3Nr2WH)

Places to Stalk Stephen Kozeniewski

Manuscripts Burn (blog)