#93 A Review of The Walking Dead (Hardcover Book Five) by Robert Kirkman

Todd and I want to apologize for the major gap that has occurred between our Walking Dead reviews!  If you need a refresher, here are our reviews of books one, two, three, and four.  To continue with the tradition, we’re doing a joint review of book five!

Book five of the series begins after the horrible battle at the prison and subsequent loss of many characters from the previous books in the series.  We’re reunited with Rick and Carl, who are on their own and separated from any other possible survivors of the massacre.  There is a particularly poignant scene where Rick comes down with a sudden infection and is rendered unconscious.  Carl asserts his independence and tells his dad (who is passed out) that he doesn’t need his help and that he’d be fine alone.  Soon thereafter, Carl realizes that he isn’t nearly as brave as he thought, and in a moment of panic almost shoots Rick as Rick slowly (and in a zombie-like manner) comes to.  After he recovers, Rick and Carl reunite with Michonne, and the three of them travel together until they stumble upon the remaining survivors of the prison attack.  After a brief moment of actual happiness in the post-apocalyptic doom, they then meet a group of three survivors who are traveling to Washington, DC: Abraham, Eugene, and Rosita.  Abraham, an army Sargent, challenges Rick as the head of the group, and is the focal point for the remainder of the novel.  What happens next though, catches everyone off guard, and puts all of their lives in immediate danger…

Kim: So I truly love the underlying social commentary themes that are woven into these books.  I like how in book five we focus a lot on the children who have survived to this point.  When we finished reading the book, Todd and I started discussing our thoughts and I said the following: I think that as adults we have the ability to adapt for survival faster than children do.  As adults we understand what we need to survive.  It’s an inherent trait in ourselves to adapt for our survival.  In the case of children, they are taken care of by adults.  A child does not inherently understand survival at the level an adult would.  In book five we begin to see the effects that this “zombie apocalypse” has had on them.  Sophia is looking at any of the females caring for her as her actual mother.  When Carl asks her about her birth mother Sophia acts like she has no idea who he’s talking about.  The trauma of her mother’s suicide, coupled with the rest of the events of the books have taken such a toll on her, that her mind has blacked out the traumatic events.  Consequently, Carl has a scare when Rick become so sick that he passes out for several days.  Carl acts like everything is fine and that he can take care of himself, but the reality soon sets in that he is a child and shouldn’t have to fend for himself.  It’s these transformations (and others) that makes these books the “must reads” I think they are.  They are so much more than just zombie novels.  They are true experimental evaluations of the human condition!

Todd: I definitely agree.  I think it’s interesting that Carl has to mature (physically and emotionally) in this world while all of the adults are obviously much older and have a greater frame of reference for a time that wasn’t infested with walking corpses.  Of course it accelerates Carl’s maturity, but in other aspects it makes him even more messed up, with little to no stability in his life to rely on.  Fortunately, Rick tries his best to be a good father figure, and for the most part it works, but the ever-mounting flood of death and destruction takes its toll, especially when Carl tells his father that he wanted to help him kill the man who almost molested him.  When he tells Rick that he is scared of the violence of his thoughts sometimes, it offers us a window into how his mind is adjusting to the new surroundings.  Rick perhaps puts it best: “We’re doing whatever it takes to survive… The people without the switch– those who weren’t able to go from law-abiding citizens to stone-cold killers… those are the ones shambling around out there– trying to eat us.”

Kim: Speaking of Rick’s mental state, it’s fascinating to see how the events at the end of book four have completely transformed him into a “mental patient”.  The conversations with his dead wife and his serious lack of confidence in himself and his decision-making skills showcase a Rick that we have never glimpsed before.  Kirkman’s ability to highlight a transforming psychological climate for all of these characters is truly what makes this series stand out, and why he’s still publishing new issues of this series monthly.

Todd: I think it’s interesting you bring up Rick’s mental state, because although this book wasn’t nearly as big on action as the previous one, I think it’s actually scarier.  To see what the continued toll of dealing with what has happened to them has on all the characters is really frightening.  We’ve always had Rick as the pillar of the group, right or wrong, and to see him in such a diminished state makes me nervous for what will happen in the future.  I hope the remaining survivors can pull it together!

Make sure you keep a lookout for the next review of book six in this series.  Although we haven’t read it yet, if the speed in which we read this book is any indication, you won’t need to wait long!

Todd’s Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Kim’s Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Image Comics (2010)
Hardcover 304 pages
ISBN: 9781607061717

#7 A Review of The Walking Dead (Hardcovers Book 4) by Robert Kirkman

Todd and Kim here! Back to review the next book in The Walking Dead series. (If you’ve missed our prior reviews you can find them here: Book One, Book Two, Book Three) This series has quickly become one of our favorites to read and watch on TV.  (The show is quite different then the books, so we enjoy the fact that we still get to be surprised week after week!)

We’ve now followed Rick and the other survivors through hell and back, as they’ve inhabited an abandoned prison and taken up residence.  Unfortunately for them, they’re not alone (and their company is more than zombies).  The Governor and his cronies, irritated by Rick, Michonne, and Glenn’s escape from their compound only weeks before, suddenly discover their location after the survivors blow up a National Guard fuel depot near the prison.  Now that they are discovered, Rick and his fellow survivors must fend off a massive attack by The Governor (who has somehow survived the attack by Michonne) and all of his followers.  Will they be able to make it past this seemingly insurmountable roadblock?  What will happen to Rick and his family?

Todd:  I definitely think this is the most depressing book so far.  Although it is bleak, it is a necessary step in the evolution of the series.  Every story has its low points, and this book contains some of the lowest.  This is not to say that it isn’t a great work (as Kirkman usually turns out amazing stuff), but I’ve never seen this type of dark and moody writing from him before.  Although some might say that this turns the entire focus of the series to a dark and depressing tone, I think it is necessary to do so in order to advance the plot and further the storyline.  As much as we don’t like to see Rick and his fellow survivors in trouble, it is a realistic outcome, and we have to deal with it accordingly.

Kim: I’m still in complete shock from finishing this graphic novel.  NO ONE is safe here, proving the point that in this new society you shouldn’t be too comfortable.  Many of the characters talk about how they’ve forgotten how dangerous it is outside the prison walls.  This was an interesting development in my opinion because I really can’t imagine ever forgetting the horrors that they witnessed in the first 3 books.  Their struggle for survival, their family and friends dying or becoming zombies…I don’t know how they could essentially play house.  Granted the feeling of safety probably does wonders to calm a person’s psyche, but not remaining vigilant in that world has its consequences, which Kirkman clearly expresses in book four.

Todd: I agree that it’s definitely difficult to imagine that these people could be lulled into a false sense of security considering what has happened in the past, but I think Kirkman has done a great job sticking to his original intent when he first began writing these novels.  The true horror here is not what the undead do to the living, but what the living do to those who are still living.  The unspeakable horrors of the Governor and those who harbor his terrible values are not finished.  Although I, like Kim, imagined that certain characters could not be harmed, I was sadly mistaken.  I believe that Kirkman wrote the novel in this way to show the reader the true horrors inherent to the situation.  No one is safe, and it is the actions of other humans that bring this about, as sad as that seems.  I applaud Kirkman for this unflinching portrait of the human experience, and I can’t wait to see what else he has in store.

Kim: Todd, I 100% agree that true intent of the novels is to show what horrors the living inflict on their fellow living.  It makes you take a step back and question what goes on in our own society, and gives suggestions as to and how we can try to help curb the hatred that flows.  It’s been fascinating to see the changing themes over the course of the story thus far.  Kirkman has touched upon just about everything in a society, with the largest themes including social customs, laws/ruling bodies, and now war.  There are glimpses of our society in each of these books, which makes me wonder: is the zombie apocalypse storyline really just a front to delve into discussion and observation about our own society?

Overall, Kirkman has yet again worked his magic to make a hell of a novel.  Even though the material of this book is much darker and sinister, it had to be done in order to move the plot along.  Many accolades to Kirkman for a job well done, and both of us are eager to find out what is in store for the fifth book and beyond!

Todd’s Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Kim’s Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Image Comics (2008)
Hardcover 304 pages
ISBN: 9781607060000

#58 A Review of The Walking Dead (Hardcovers Book 3) by Robert Kirkman

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Todd and Kim here, back for the next installment of our joint Walking Dead reviews! (If you missed our past reviews here are the links: Book One & Book Two)  This time we follow Rick and his fellow survivors as they continue to hunker down in a prison and avoid the zombie horde.  We begin following the characters as they are enjoying a relative lull in the problems that they encountered en masse in the second book.  It has been several weeks without a major incident, and the survivors begin to relax somewhat.  They begin to clear out A Block, one of the last unexplored and most secure areas of the prison.  They find a large generator and plenty of riot gear, both of which they think will prove useful.  One day they see a helicopter as it crashes in the woods nearby.  Rick, Michonne, and Glenn travel to check it out, and encounter another group of survivors that have created a safe zone nearby.  However, not is all as it seems.  Their de facto leader, a man known as “The Governor”, takes them to the safe zone and takes them hostage.  This is only the beginning of the horrors they will face, as he shows his truly sick nature over the course of their imprisonment.  Will Rick and his friends survive?  What will happen to the rest of the survivors?

Todd:  My first impression of this book was that it was even darker than the previous book.  That is saying quite a lot, because the second book definitely delved into much of the darker themes of human nature.  Parts of this book were definitely hard to get through, although I’m quite sure that if pushed to the limits that humanity has been during this series, people like “The Governor” would definitely exist, and it would be the responsibility of all of us to make sure that these people never get the power given to this man in this particular situation.

Kim:  I definitely agree that this is the darkest one yet, showcasing themes of betrayal and revenge.  Michonne’s storyline is a great example of what happens when you push someone too far in a lawless society.  I really enjoyed the deeper questions that began to be asked here.  Number one, how do we begin reestablishing society, both in social aspects (marriages, births, deaths) as well as setting up the foundations of society (law, punishment, and bare necessities)?  Secondly, are we bad people if we have different beliefs in this new world than we had in the old world?  Rick is  a perfect example of this paradoxical question.  In the old world, Rick was a police officer who lived his life by the law and would never dream of breaking it.  Now in this new world, we’ve seen him steal, physically assault others, and even commit murder.  In book three you begin to get a sense of this inner conflict that Rick undergoes, and how it’s affected him morally and emotionally.  It’s things like this that make this series interesting to me.  It goes above and beyond zombie fights, it deals with the inner conflicts that people have in the face of tragedy, and it makes you as a reader question what kind of person you would turn into if placed in this situation, pushed to your limits.

Todd:  That’s a great point.  Kirkman makes it clear that he’s writing more about the relationships between people during this crisis than the crisis itself.  I found it interesting that this book mainly focuses on Rick, Michonne, and Glenn.  I know the focus on Rick is obvious, but I think Kirkman’s inclusion of Michonne and Glenn is interesting and I was surprised to see some of the character traits that came out of them.  Michonne was somewhat of an enigma throughout her time with the survivors, but we’re beginning to see what kind of a person she truly is.  Glenn is slowly finding himself as a man and realizing his position in this new world thrust upon him.  I found Rick’s transformation to be the most interesting.  Throughout this series I’ve been rooting for him as the main character and rock upon which a lot of the other characters build their trust on.  Others may see his transformation in this book as too harsh, but I think he’s doing exactly what he needs to do to survive and protect those whom he loves.  I think he’s emerged more as a leader now than ever before.  All in all, Kirkman is writing a hell of a series.

Kim:  I definitely agree that Kirkman’s writing is outstanding.  He truly is a leader in this genre, and I’m all set to go out and buy book four tomorrow.

Todd:  You think this is hyperbole, but she’s actually going to do this tomorrow.

Kim:  And who are you kidding?  You know you’ll read it too!  But I digress, back to the review.  The last question that stood out to me for book three was how far is too far when dealing with revenge?  There’s a very deep storyline here, one that is graphic and intense.  Without the bounds of normal society, the characters’ boundaries become blurred and their actions can become extreme without them even noticing it.  They must rely on the feedback of others to tell them how they are behaving.  However, in this particular case, all these checks went out the window, and there was pure hatred and rage in the driver’s seat.  How the reader interprets these actions is up to him/her, and Kirkman raises a very interesting point by leaving this interpretation open-ended.

 So that’s it for our review!  We hope you enjoyed reading about this series, and let us know in the comments section if you’ve read any of these graphic novels yet.  You won’t be disappointed!

Todd’s Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Kim’s Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

This is my sixteenth completed review for the Page to Screen Challenge

Image Comics (2007)
Hardcover 304 pages

Winner Announced in the Walking Dead Volume 1 Giveaway

One lucky winner has been chosen in the Walking Dead Volume 1 Giveaway

Congratulations to: Sky R

for being the lucky winner of The Walking Dead (Volume 1) by Robert Kirkman! 
Please contact me with your name and address by June 7, 2011 to claim your prize.  Shipment is to the US and Canada only. 
Special thank you to all who participated and left comments! Keep your eye out for another Walking Dead giveaway coming soon!!

#33 A Review of The Walking Dead (Hardcovers Book 2) by Robert Kirkman + GIVEAWAY

Cover ImageKim and Todd here for another joint review, this time for The Walking Dead (Hardcover Book 2) by Robert Kirkman.  (If you missed our review of Book 1, click here)

Todd: The more I read of this series, the more I like it.  As a disclaimer, this book is definitely darker than the first, and Kirkman explores depths of the human experience that are usually only reserved for despair and the bleakest of times.  We join Rick and company soon after the end of the first book, as they find a prison that they attempt to make into their new home.  However, just as in the first book, zombies are not their primary problem.  Inner conflicts within the group boil to the surface, and the group must make peace with a few surviving inmates that inhabit the prison.  Everyone barely maintains composure day-to-day, as the constant stress of their situation takes a toll on their psyche and breaking points.  Everyone is tested constantly, although none more than Rick.  Can he continue to lead the group?  Can they continue to survive this horror?

Kim: As Todd stated the book is definitely darker.  Now that the group has found a suitable and seemingly safe location to rest their weary feet, we begin delving into the deeper and darker problems of re-establishing society.  We begin to see a theme of crime and punishment establish itself.  What I mean by that, is that crime begins to happen amongst the survivors and they must decide how those guilty will be punished.  Since there is nothing left of the old society they were part of, they can create their own rules and regulations and begin from scratch.  It’s a test for all of them to search deep within themselves and do/say what they think is right.  I think the fact that the writers of the book explore these complex societal issues make it so much more interesting to read.  How many of you out there can honestly say they’ve read a zombie book that delves into themes such as these?

Todd: That’s definitely a good point.  Up until now the characters have been basically reactionary, where they respond to the events around them and barely survive.  Now, as they begin to settle somewhat, they must decide how to enforce a moral code.  I find the struggle that Rick undergoes internally pretty astounding.  He already has a lot on his shoulders trying to act as the moral compass of the group, and for the most part he succeeds.  However, it is when he begins to crack and his emotions begin to cloud his judgement that we begin to see Rick as more of an individual with faults just like the rest of us.  I like how Kirkman doesn’t place him on a pedestal and make him into a superhuman heroic figure.  He has a breaking point just like the rest of us.  How he changes and reevaluates himself as the situation around him deteriorates is so interesting and I think beyond the realm of what most of us would have to experience.

Kim: Agreed! Due to all of these scenes I found that the book became a lot darker and also more gruesome.  There were murders in cold blood, attempted rape, sexual conflicts, and much more.  For those with more sensitive tastes I would not recommend reading this.  For those with braver sense I would definitely recommend it, not only for its amazing illustrations, but for the thematic concepts the book touches upon.  It’s interesting to read about a society trying to re-establish itself.  It makes you question what you yourself would do if placed in that situation.

Todd:  Very true!  I think I would last all of 5 minutes out there!  All in all, I think my favorite part about this book is that it has stayed so true to its original intentions.  Kirkman writes these characters and their interactions just as I would imagine them happening.  It’s almost as if the zombies are unnecessary at this point.  The stress and conflict have gotten to a point where it is self-driving.  I think it is an awesome introspection into our lives and how stress affects us, and I can’t wait to see what Kirkman has in store for book 3!

Todd’s Rating: 5 out of 5 Star

Kim’s Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

This is my ninth completed review for the Page to Screen Challenge

Image Comics (2007)
Hardcover 304 pages
One lucky winner will have the opportunity to win a copy of The Walking Dead (Paperback Volume 1) by Robert Kirkman! For your chance to win simply leave a comment in the thread below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight of Tuesday May 24, 2011.  Winner will be picked at random and announced on Wednesday May 25, 2011.  Giveaway open to US & Canadian residents only. Good luck!!

#30 A Review of The Walking Dead (Hardcovers Book 1) by Robert Kirkman

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This review is going to be a bit different from my other reviews, as Todd and I both finished this book this week.  Back in November I reviewed The Walking Dead Volume 1, which turns out to be the first chapter of hardcover book 1.  Currently there are 14 paperback volumes and 7 hardcover books.  Each hardcover book consists of 2 paperback volumes, while the paperback volumes consist of 6 comics.  Slightly confusing? Yes. Awesome? You bet. Since Todd and I didn’t want to bombard you with the same review of the book back-to-back, we figured we’d join forces and write a dual review showcasing our different/similar points of view.

Todd:  What can I say about zombies?  Ever since I was introduced to this lovely group of the quasi-dead via Night of the Walking Dead in middle school I’ve been entranced by the idea that a zombie apocalypse might befall me during my lifetime.  Most would be disgusted and scared by this possibility, but I’ll admit I would be kind of excited if it happened.  Mind you I’m talking about an apocalypse in which I survive along with all my friends and family, but get to exact some sweet zombie-killing revenge in the process.  I know it’s far-fetched, but then again aren’t zombies in general?  Regardless, I digress.  Kirkman weaves an enthralling and amazing tale of survival in The Walking Dead, as he tells the tale of a small town cop named Rick who wakes up from a coma amidst a full-blown zombie infection.  What follows is the tale of survival and adventure between Rick and additional survivors as they battle the horde of zombies.  Told with chilling realism and a healthy dose of emotional struggle, Kirkman follows Rick and company as they struggle to fight off zombie attacks and create some sense of normalcy amongst their freakish new reality.  Will they be able to survive?  To thrive?

Kim: Back in November I started my review with the following quote by Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman:

To me, the best zombie movies aren’t the splatter fests of gore and violence with goofy characters and tongue in cheek antics.  Good zombie movies show us how messed up we are, they make us question our station in society…and our society’s station in the world.  They show us gore and violence and all that cool stuff too…but there’s always an undercurrent of social commentary and thoughtfulness.” 

In reading hardcover book 1, I was able to see exactly what Kirkman was going for.  While upon first glance the book’s illustrations can be quite graphic and intense, I was not deterred and really got into the dialogue between the characters.  This is a book that is primarily about what happens to people emotionally and socially, rather than physically as they try to deal with the radical changes around them.  I was really intrigued in how Kirkman tackled the theme of love in chapter 2.  The theme of love is prevalent in multiple ways.  You have the love a parent feels for a child, the love a boyfriend feels for a girlfriend, a husband feels for a wife, love in times of grief, love in times of intimacy, etc etc.  This is definitely not what I expected for a zombie story.  The fact that Kirkman created something with so much emotion and a bunch of characters that were so relatable that you could see yourself in them was phenomenal.

Todd:  I definitely agree with your analysis of chapter 2.  However, the high point for me was the ending of chapter 1.

Kim: Yeah, the ending of chapter 1 was CRAZY.

Todd: I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t read it, but all the action and stress has finally began to take a toll on the survivors.  To this point, they have kept it together mentally  because of necessity.  In order to survive they needed to focus and push all other feelings to the back burner.  The last few panels of chapter 1 release this pent-up emotion that everyone is feeling in a very interesting way, which was an amazingly clever way of Kirkman to introduce a cliffhanger and segue into chapter 2.

Kim: I definitely agree with you on the cliffhanger front.  The end of chapter 2 sets us up with an awesome cliffhanger as well.  The way each chapter is playing out is truly perfect.  The story is neither rushed nor dragging.  Kirkman does a fantastic job at making sure the reader gets emotionally involved with the story, the characters, and the themes.

Todd:  I think it’s definitely a measure of success when you can get your readers so emotionally involved in your work.  I think a lot of it stems from the fact that this is fiction, yet it has the potential (even if it is a remote one) to become nonfiction.  That fact lingers in the back of our minds as we reevaluate our own lives and relationships in the context that we could lose those closest to us at any time.

Kim:  It’s a testament to Kirkman’s ability as a writer to state that he totally gets the human mind and the human heart.  These ever-present themes of love, loss, grief, family, survival, etc. are written realistically.  Speaking of things being realistic, I have to give major props to the illustrators, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard.  Their illustrations are absolutely fantastic.  They are able to render the proper emotions in each of the characters’ faces, which only add to the enjoyment a reader has with the work.

Todd:  I definitely agree.  Those zombie illustrations creeped me out!  Overall, I am incredibly impressed by this book.  My love of zombies notwithstanding, I think that the character driven soul of this book makes it outshine all the blood and gore that fills the zombie genre.  I heartily recommend it to anyone, as we all have common traits that are highlighted very eloquently (albeit with some zombies mixed in for good measure) in this work.

Kim:  Ditto to everything Todd said.  I hope that our joint commentary has piqued your interest in the Walking Dead series!  We’re both reading hardcover book 2, so keep an eye out for another joint commentary next week!

Todd’s Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Kim’s Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is my eighth completed review for the Page to Screen Challenge

Image Comics (2006)
Hardcover 304 pages
ISBN: 9781582406190 

My Favorite Ten Books of the Year! (Part I)

With the year coming to a close I figured I’d post my favorite ten books that I read for the year. The books below haven’t necessarily been published in 2010, they’re just my favorite reads for 2010. 

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 1.) Persuasion by Jane Austen – This is one of my all time favorite novels! I re-read it again this year for a group discussion that was going on in the Jane Austen group on goodreads. A quick synopsis is that Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth fall in love once upon a time and become engaged.  Anne breaks their engagement after being persuaded by her family that it is not a suitable match, due to Frederick’s lack of wealth and lower social status.  Broken hearted Frederick throws himself into his duties as an officer in the navy, quickly gaining wealth and title.  Several years later the Elliot’s, now having financial difficulties, rent out their family estate to Wentworth’s sister and brother-in-law; the Crofts.  When Wentworth goes to visit the Crofts he’s thrust into Anne’s company again.  The two must figure out if the love they once shared still exists within each other, or if it is lost forever.  I am so glad that I re-read Persuasion again this year.  I had read it a long time ago and completely forgot how much I truly loved it.  If you have never read it, then I highly suggest you do.  It’s a love story that you will truly never forget.

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2.) A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick – WOW.  My mind is STILL blown from this book.  Just wow wow wow wow wow.  Goolrick’s way of writing is incredibly captivating.  His characters are vivid, his settings are descriptive, and his story is unique and imaginative.  Ralph Truitt, missing female companionship, puts an ad into the newspaper for a wife.  Catherine Land, a woman with a sordid past, answers the ad and begins the long trek to Wisconsin to be Ralph’s wife.  The reader soon learns that there is more to Catherine then originally thought.  I highly suggest reading this book.  You can read my full review here

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3.) Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman – My book club selected it as the group read for September and boy am I glad.  Klosterman is definitely the foremost expert on current pop culture.  His books are filled with references to music, movies, celebrities, major events, ect.  I wanted to have an intellectual conversation with everyone as soon as I finished the book. In Killing Yourself to Live, Klosterman takes the reader on his journey cross-country to figure out why it is that a musician needs to die in order to become a legend.  He visits the sites where musicians have died, hoping it will shed light on their immortality.  While he doesn’t necessarily come up with an answer to that question, he does come up with answers to some of the questions he has about his own life.  If you’re a fan of music this is a great book to read.

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4.) Fitzwilliam Darcy: Last Man in the World – Abigail Reynolds – I’m a huge fan of Pride and Prejudice sequels, which is unsurprising considering that P&P is my favorite book ever.  I read a lot of Jane Austen fan fiction over the course of this year, with this being my favorite of all of them.  Abigail Reynolds specializes in writing Pride and Prejudice variations.  She essentially writes Pride and Prejudice while changing a major detail.  In this particular instance Reynolds makes Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth the one that sticks.  Darcy, thinking that Elizabeth has said yes to marrying him, kisses her, and is then caught.  Since propriety was such a major think back in the day, Elizabeth says that yes they are engaged and begins her facade into being a dutiful but unhappy bride for Darcy.  Darcy is none the wiser, he sincerely thinks that Elizabeth is happy to be married to him.  When he does find out the unhappy truth he is devastated and crushed.  They must figure out a way to make their marriage work or be unhappy for all their lives to a partner they despise.  The reason I think this was my favorite of all of the P&P sequels/variations/retellings I read was the characterizations.  Reynolds writes the characters just as rich and full of life as Austen did, which in-turn makes her books an absolute joy to read.

Cover Image5.) Walking Dead Volume I by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore – Todd and I started watching AMC’s The Walking Dead when it premiered a few months ago and were in love with the idea of it.  We went out to Barnes and Noble soon after and decided to pick up the first volume of the graphic novels.  The story, art-work, writing, just everything about it blew me away.  It’s a spectacular view of life and how the most dire of situations not only changes us as people, but society as a whole.  There is a lot more to this series than meets the eye.  If you’re unafraid to delve into the deeper meaning of the words and actions of the characters you can find it a very fulfilling read.  You can read my full review here.

So that concludes my top 5 favorite books I’ve read for the year.  Please check in within the next day or so for numbers 6-10!

Happy Reading!

The Weekly Roundup – Week 5

So I’d like to start my weekly roundup this week with the hope that everyone had a great holiday!

Belle and Sebastian (Our cats)

Last Wednesday I did a mini-happy hour with some friends from work.  Our offices were closed on Thursday and Friday so it was just a little way to start the holiday for us.  After we hung out for a bit Todd and I headed off to Home Depot to go pick out our Christmas tree.  Todd and I do fake trees because of the cats.  We had a small little apartment tree the past two years, but have out grown it now.  With our new tree in hand we headed home to get it set up and into its base.  With that all settled I began packing for our overnight trip to Jersey. 

Thursday morning we got up and watched a majority of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade while getting ready.  We hopped in the car and started the trek down to Jersey.  We hit major traffic on the Garden State Parkway but we got to Todd’s parents house with time to spare!  After a short respite from all the traveling we hopped in the car again, this time to Todd’s Aunt and Uncle’s house.  We had a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner with them and got back to Todd’s parents around 11pm.  Todd’s little cousin Sarah (who is the most adorable thing ever) kept us busy the whole trip, so as soon as we got back it was straight to bed.

Our Christmas Tree

Friday morning we headed up to my parents house (half hour away from Todd’s parents) to help them decorate a bit for Christmas.  We had lunch with my best friend Stephen and then continued with the decorating.  We had a Thanksgiving buffet for dinner with my parents, Grandma, and Aunt Barbara, and then it was back up to Connecticut.  Todd and I made it back to our apartment around 6pm and started getting all of our own Christmas stuff out.  I started blasting the holiday CD’s and decorating our tree.  Adam came over and we had some eggnog and got in the spirit. 

Christine and Me

Saturday was a great day as my sister Christine and her fiancée Jason stopped by on their way down from Cape Cod.  (They live in Manhattan but went up to the Cape to spend the holiday with Jason’s family)  So over they came for lunch with their two dogs Ethan and Chelsea. It’s always hysterical to see the dogs and cats react with each other.  Sebastian tries to act all brave, but as soon as a dog gets near him he freaks out!  We all just hung out, had lunch, and randomly watched the end of Flashdance.  (It was on TV, don’t ask)  Todd and I also watched Brothers later on in the day. WHOA good movie.  I highly recommend it!

On Sunday Todd and I drove to Providence to see Jen, another of our really good friends.  We hung out and got lunch together had bubble teas, and walked around for a bit before heading to the largest liquor store I’ve ever seen.  As most of you know from Todd’s posts he is a HUGE beer fan. This liquor store had almost half  the store dedicated to just beer.  You could mix and match tons of beers from small breweries across the country.  We picked a bunch of beers and loaded the car up.  We headed back and made it home by 6.  It’s only been two days and I think I drank all the beers I picked out.  Todd can tell you more about them in his post, but I’m already counting the days to see when we can head back to that liquor store!

Somehow in the midst of everything that has gone on in the past few days I’ve managed to read three graphic novels.  I was definitely on a graphic novel kick this week.  Sense and Sensibility, The Walking Dead Volume 1, and Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography. I owe you all a review on the last one. 

With December here it’s time to kick into an even higher gear. (I didn’t know I had any more to kick into)  I’ve read 80 books, leaving 20 for December.  I looked back at my totals and realized I had read 12 for the month of November.  I will absolutely die if I make it to 92 books and fail my challenge by 8 books.  If anyone has recommendations for short fast reads let me know.  I’m in the middle of two books right now (Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs and Fifth Avenue 5AM) and am really hoping to complete them in the next day or two. 

Totals: 80 books read, 20 to go.  Here I go.

Happy Reading!

#79 A Review of The Walking Dead: Volume 1 by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore

Cover ImageTo me, the best zombie movies aren’t the splatter fests of gore and violence with goofy characters and tongue in cheek antics.  Good zombie movies show us how messed up we are, they make us question our station in society…and our society’s station in the world.  They show us gore and violence and all that cool stuff too…but there’s always an undercurrent of social commentary and thoughtfulness.”  These are just some of the words that Robert Kirkman writes in his introduction to volume 1 of The Walking Dead

Kirkman sets out to tell the story of Rick Grimes, a police officer who has awoken from a coma to find himself alone and in a very different world than the one he once knew.  Waking up in an abandoned hospital he begins exploring his once familiar surroundings only to find walking corpses. Shocked and dismayed, he begins the journey from the hospital to his home, hoping to find his family. He finds his home abandoned, ransacked, and in total disarray.  Meeting a young boy and his father he is told that a disease has ravaged mankind and that those untouched have gone to Atlanta where the government was working on a cure.  Rick believes that his family has gone there and begins the trek to find his family.

The Walking Dead is my second venture into the world of zombies, the first being Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  After reading Kirkman’s introduction I can completely agree with him about what makes a good zombie story.  In this first volume alone you see what people are willing to do/not do in the toughest of times, marriages and friendships are stretched to their limits, and you see what happens to people when almost all hope is stripped out of their lives. 

Kirkman states in his introduction that he wants to take it slow with The Walking Dead.  I whole-heartily agree with his assessment as it gives you the opportunity to really invest in the characters and storyline.  So far 79 comics have been published since its original release in 2003.  They have been compiled into 13 volumes (my copy was volume 1, which consisted of comics 1-6) with more on the way. 

For those interested, AMC has also turned the graphic novels into a weekly television show on Sunday nights.  The visuals of the show are absolutely stunning and the writing is wonderful.  The events lay out slightly different from those in volume 1, but the important societal questions remain.

4 of 5 Stars

The Weekly Roundup – Week 4

So it’s been busy lately, hence the delay in posting my weekly roundup!!

Last week started the planning meetings for Relay for Life.  We had our committee meeting on Monday with our new ACS representative.  It was the first meeting getting the entire committee old and new members together.  We discussed lots of publicity and networking ideas and I feel confident in the direction we’re moving!

Tuesday and Wednesday I accomplished lots of reading.  Todd was at a conference until late night Wednesday night so I had the apartment to myself.  I read three books last week (1 short of my goal) and have already posted up the reviews.  (I finished Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister, A Wolf At the Table, and Pemberley Ranch)

Thursday I started writing a rough draft of the review that was published on Sunday for Austenprose. (Follow here for review)

Friday my co-worker Erin and I dropped off all the food our office collected at a local event called Stuff-A-Bus.  A local radio station collects for local shelters for the holidays and tries to fill buses.  The event has grown to be so large that they now fill tractor trailers and refrigerated trucks! Afterwards I went out for drinks and appetizers with Adam and Todd.  It had been a long week at work and we needed to start the weekend right!  After drinks we headed to where else but Barnes and Noble.  I picked up Sense and Sensibility the graphic novel, Walking Dead volume 1, and Shanghai Girls. (A co-worker of mine also gave me three books to borrow, so once I read those I’ll throw reviews up as well)

Janette came over the following morning after her hair appointment and we proceeded to run errands all day.  We dropped Todd’s car off for new tires and then ran to Target to pick up some odds and ends that we needed.  I got some Christmas shopping done which made me very happy.  Todd and I spent most of the afternoon at Sprint getting new phones and setting up our family plan.  It was exciting. Not.

Sunday was a lazy day.  Woke up late, cleaned up the house a bit, caught up on stuff on the DVR, all that kind of junk.  We went to our friend Jess’s for dinner and had a freaking blast just hanging out and laughing about old stories from our childhoods.  (Jess thanks for dinner again – it was delicious!)

Monday and today I just went to work came home blogged and read.  I’m completing the graphic novel version of Sense and Sensibility tonight and hopefully will finish Walking Dead tomorrow.  Thanksgiving is on Thursday so I’m nervous that this week is the week that will do in my 100 book challenge.  I’m behind 1 book from last week already and am hoping to make up for it this week.

With that I’ll sign off and go back to reading!! 77 down, 23 to go.

Happy Reading, and may I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.