Posts Tagged 'the last werewolf'

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books for People who Like George R.R. Martin

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a topic and encourage fellow bloggers to list their own top ten answers. This week’s prompt was to list the top ten books for people who like a certain author. Our challenge was to pick an author and give book recommendations based on that author! As you can see, I have chosen George R.R. Martin, AKA the bearded troll god, writer of A Song of Ice and Fire (ASoIaF).

So! If you like George R.R. Martin, you might also like:

1. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
Though there are some sci-fi elements (time travel!), much of this book focuses on the harsh realities of medieval life, including dirt, disease, and lack of scientific knowledge. Willis also has Martin’s same penchant for killing off your favorite characters, sympathetic and otherwise.

2. Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
To really appreciate Martin, you also need to appreciate the fantasy tropes he’s dismantling. For better or worse, many of these tropes originated with Tolkien’s massive fantasy epic. (Which isn’t to say they aren’t a good story, too!) Both also have massive casts of characters and impressively interwoven relationships.

3. The Last Werewolf, by Glen Duncan
Martin’s tales are filled with sex and violence, and thoroughly break down the idea of the good and noble knight. Duncan’s novel (first in a trilogy) reworks the werewolf–lately somewhat neutered by its depictions in Twilight and its ilk–into a savage beast that revels in killing. Both are pretty dark at times, but also give reasons for hope.

4. Kushiel’s Dart, by Jacqueline Carey
Carey’s world-building, like Martin’s, is fantastic. This series takes place in Terre D’Ange, a fictionalized version of France in a very different version of Europe. Her imaginative religions rival Martin’s for sure. (And her sex scenes are much better written.)

5. The Wolf Hall trilogy, by Hilary Mantel
Shifting alliances, gray morality, court politicking–the only difference is the lack of magic in Mantel’s world. Otherwise, you’re basically reading about Littlefinger.

6. Wild Seed, by Octavia Butler
Perhaps a bit of a leap, but I think Butler challenges sci-fi and fantasy conventions just as well as Martin does. A challenging and thought-provoking read.

7. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
This just has a lot of the same bleakness and same glimmers of hope that I think ASoIaF offers.

8. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
One of Martin’s great strengths is showing the cruelty, violence, and consequences of war. Haldeman does the same thing, albeit in a sci-fi setting.

9. The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss
I haven’t actually read this one yet, despite it being on my TBR list for ages, but a quick glance at its back cover and reviews makes me think that it would be a perfect follow-up to your time in Westeros.

10. Beyond the Wall, edited by James Lowder
In my review, I suggested this book for readers who are already fans of Martin’s series who want to delve a little deeper into its themes, motivations, and characters.

ASoIaF fans, got any other suggestions? Feel free to leave your thoughts–and your own TTT lists–in the comments!

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Top Ten Tuesday Rewind (Pick any past topic you want!): Character Names

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a topic and encourage fellow bloggers to list their own top ten answers. This week’s prompt was to pick any past TTT topic you wanted! I chose to do the TTT from February 8, 2011, which was the Top Ten Characters (and Literary Figures) That I’d Name My Children After!

My list is below.

1. A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin 
Okay, I cheated. I couldn’t pick just one name from Martin’s renowned fantasy series! Some of my favorites include Arya, Nymeria, Brienne, Jaime, and Asha. And I’m not the only one: Martin has an entire section of his website dedicated to fans who’ve named their children/pets after his characters!

2. Scout, from To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Predictable, I know. But Scout is such a great, classic character from such a great book, she deserves her place on the list.

3. Valentine, from Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
Though I find his politics repugnant, I can’t deny that Card’s original Ender series is excellent sci-fi writing. It was where I first heard the name Valentine used as a first name for a girl, and I’ve loved it ever since. (Unfortunately, it rhymes with my boyfriend’s last name, and I’m not evil enough to give any future kids rhyming names…)

4. Caleb, from East of Eden, by John Steinbeck
While I like atypical names for girls, my favorite names for boys tend to be a little more traditional. East of Eden introduced me to the name Caleb, which I’ve had on my shortlist for my future/hypothetical son for ages.

5. Eowyn, from The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien 
What can I say…I have a weakness for tough, independent, ass-kicking ladies. My hypothetical daughter could do much worse than to be named after Tolkien’s shield-maiden.

6. Lyra, from His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman
I tend to likes names with the letter ‘y’ in them (perhaps because my own first name has a ‘y’). Past the coolness of her name, though, Lyra distinguishes herself as a brave, clever, and loyal heroine.

7. Cormac, from No Country for Old Men, Blood Meridian, etc., by Cormac McCarthy
I just really like the name Cormac!

8. Lily, from The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton 
Whenever I wrote stories as a kid, I used flower names–Rose, Daisy, etc. Lily was (and still is) my favorite, though it now makes me think of Wharton’s doomed socialite.

9. Marlow, from The Last Werewolf, by Glen Duncan
I like this one for a girl or a boy. Hopefully the kid doesn’t grow up to be a werewolf, though.

10. Dean, from Supernatural
Okay, I’m cheating again (with a name from a television show rather than a book)! But I’ve always liked this name, and once I started watching Supernatural, I loved this name. Maybe it can be traced back to reading On the Road in high school?

Review: Talulla Rising, by Glen Duncan

Talulla Rising, Glen Duncan’s sequel to 2011’s The Last Werewolf, is a great example of a slow-burning novel. It starts quietly, in an isolated cabin in Alaska, and quickly becomes a mysterious chase spanning the globe as our heroine attempts to avert the murder of her child in a cult ceremony.

Oh yeah, and our heroine is a werewolf who eviscerates and devours at least one human being each month.

First things first: I suggest playing this video as you read my review. (And yes, it’s taken from the werewolf playlist I’ve mentioned previously.)

I won’t keep you in suspense; I really, really enjoyed this book. It had much of the same black humor as the first book, and the same frenetic energy. Instead of following Jake, we follow Talulla–the new last werewolf–as she waits to give birth to her dead partner’s child/pup. Everything quickly goes to hell. In the interests of avoiding spoilers, I won’t detail exactly how or why.

I was wary of Talulla at first. She introduces herself as a bad girl, a nasty girl, a girl who has always done what she wanted, even before she became a monster every full moon. Not…the most endearing qualities, but I don’t need to actively like every character I read about, even if it’s the main character. Honestly, I think I just felt somewhat more detached from Talulla than I did from Jake. Duncan is a masterful writer, but it took me a while to really believe in Talulla and her voice; for stories written in a first-person narrative, a reader not believing in your POV character can be the kiss of death. I had the thought, more often than once, that Duncan was perhaps not as comfortable–or at least, as believable–writing from a woman’s perspective. I do, however, applaud his effort, and once the pace picked up, I found myself understanding Talulla a bit better, and even admiring her particular thoughts and skills as distinct from Marlowe’s.

She discovered that not only could she kill and eat people once a month, but she could kill and eat people once a month and love it.

There are many familiar faces, including Cloquet (love him!), Madeleine, and Mia. Their inclusion and contributions to the plot were frequently wonderful and unexpected. The evolution of Cloquet from a drug-addicted, foolish, love-struck man into Talulla’s companion was perhaps, to me, one of the most unambiguously positive outcomes of the last book. And though the specter of Jake hangs over Talulla (and Madeleine), having him there was nice for the reader–both for continuity and for the sheer enjoyment of his familiar voice.

Continue reading ‘Review: Talulla Rising, by Glen Duncan’

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors on Television/Freebie Week

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a topic and encourage fellow bloggers to list their own top ten answers. This week’s prompt was to either

a) name the authors that should be on reality shows/have their own television shows

or b) write about whatever you want!

I chose option b. Therefore, I decided to make my Top Ten Tuesday list my top ten Likable Books, Unlikable Characters. I defined this as when I found overall books to be enjoyable, despite of (or in some cases, because of!) mean, evil, or generally unpleasant characters.

1. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
I just finished this tale of murder and betrayal on a quiet Vermont college campus. Pretty much every character in it is awful in their own special way. There’s not one but two murders, abuse, incest, drug abuse, lying, backstabbing…really, anything you can think of.

2. A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R. R. Martin
It’s cheating a little bit to list all five of these books under one heading, but morality is such a central part of the entire’s series theme that I felt justified in lumping them all together. There are only a few unambiguously evil characters in Martin’s books (Gregor Clegane and Ramsay Bolton immediately jump to mind) but the characters with shifting moralities tend to the most interesting. Watching Jaime Lannister evolve from the selfish, misguided Kingslayer into a much more humble man, for example, is highly engaging.

3 & 4. The Last Werewolf and Talulla Rising, by Glen Duncan
Our heroes are werewolves who kill and eat people. And enjoy it. Enough said?

5. East of Eden, by John Steinbeck
Cathy, Cathy, Cathy.  It’s rare to find a true female sociopath represented well, even in fiction, but Steinbeck’s prostitute/murderer/child abandoner is the pinnacle of the form.

6. No Country for Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy
No TTT of mine would be complete without a McCarthy novel. I chose NCfOM because Anton Chigurh is one of the most terrifying antagonists I’ve ever met: pitiless, emotionless, and completely incomprehensible, more like a natural disaster than an actual human being. His bizarre brand of morality served, to me, to heighten the book’s premise that life is random and often cruel.

7. Let the Right One In, by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Much like Duncan’s books above, we are asked to sympathize with a creature that is no longer human, and depends on killing humans to survive. The creepy thing is, we do.

8 & 9. The Magicians and The Magician King, by Lev Grossman
The Beast is terrifying. Reading about it swallowing a girl whole and biting off Penny’s hands sent pure, primordial fear through me, in a way that really doesn’t happen very often. Though Reynard is in the sequel far less than the Beast is in the first book, he is still a complete nightmare.

10. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
Based on a chilling true story, In Cold Blood is a fascinating character study of two murderers.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books You’d Like to See Made Into Movies

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a topic and encourage fellow bloggers to list their own top ten answers. For today, we were asked to list the top ten books  we  would like to see made into movies. I prefer watching action and adventure movies, so my list will reflect that!

1. The Zona, by Nathan Yocum
In my review of this action-adventure novel, I actually wrote that I could see this making an amazing movie! Think about it: a post-apocalyptic United States, where a brutal theocracy rules the West, and Preachers are sanctioned assassins. Not only would I see this movie, I’d be there in the front row on opening night.

2. The Last Werewolf, by Glen Duncan
I recently watched An American Werewolf in London and really enjoyed it (surprisingly, since I am a scaredy-cat and can’t watch most horror movies). I would love to see Duncan’s The Last Werewolf adapted for the screen with that same level of horror and black humor! This is the kind of supernatural thriller that would actually provide thrills.

3. Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
There is a glut of television shows/books/media in general about the Tudors, but I’ve never experienced such a thoughtful and moving portrait as I found in Mantel’s Wolf Hall. Keeping the focus on Cromwell would be  a welcome change from all the Henry/Anne Boleyn stuff out there. (And hey, looks like I’m in luck! BBC and HBO are making a Wold Hall miniseries! Woohoo!)

4. Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy
Okay, this would be tough, due to the unrelenting violence and general bleakness of the text. No Country for Old Men did a great job of representing McCarthy, though, and I think it can be done, if the novel’s themes are made clear. The struggle between the Kid and the Judge is so powerful and thought-provoking! (A film was planned, actually, but seems to have stalled.)

5. His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman
I know there were plans to film this entire series, which were scrapped due to the poor box office performance of The Golden Compass movie. However, I think The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglasswould be wonderful to see on screen, if the filmmakers truly committed to the transgressive and mature themes of the books.
6. Kushiel’s Dart, by Jacqueline Carey
You’d probably have to tone down some of the sex, but it would still be an incredibly charged movie! The world-building is so strong in the book, and it would be so cool to see Terre d’Ange on screen. Now, who should play Phaedre?
7. Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
It’s such a snarky, funny book; filmed with that tongue-in-cheek manner in mind, it could be really hilarious! I’d like to see Crowley and Aziraphale’s friendship visually. I kind of imagine this movie looking like a mash-up of the television show Supernatural (which I am currently totally obsessed with) and Dogma.
8. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien Soon, this will be a reality!

9.  Passage, by Connie Willis I know I mention this book on nearly every TTT, but it’s just because I love it so gosh-darn much! It could be tricky to film, but the “death experience” scenes would be gorgeous. I picture them having this surreal, floating quality, in contrast to the highly-focused, everyday business of the hospital. Oh man. Now I really want this to be a movie!

10. Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides
I actually didn’t enjoy reading Middlesex. However, I could see it being a fantastic movie, if its quirkiness was truly embraced. Like a Forrest Gump coming of age movie for the millennial set. I’m imagining Wes Anderson directing…

Review: The Last Werewolf, by Glen Duncan

I straight-up LOVE werewolves. This isn’t the result of any “Team Jacob” leanings; I’ve always held werewolves up as my favorite of the mythical creatures. I’ve even got a Spotify playlist solely devoted to werewolf songs! Something about the idea of our savage, inner selves bursting uncontrollably to the fore, obliterating–even just for one night–all of the social niceties and societal mores that simultaneously constrain us and make us human, is incredibly interesting. When written well–and I mean in their slavering, bestial glory–werewolf stories serve as a dark mirror reflecting our baser natures. (That’s part and parcel of what bothers me about some current werewolf stories: too much focus on romance, not enough on tearing prey apart, angsting about becoming a murderous animal, and generally being awesome.)

Bearing that in mind, it was with glee that I devoured Glen Duncan’s The Last Werewolf. THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ABOUT. This was one of the last books I read in 2011, and it is definitely on my list of faves from that year. Our narrator, Marlowe, is a centuries-old werewolf who also happens to be the last of his kind. Lonely, weary, and bored, Jake is contemplating ending his life–and thus the legend of the werewolf–when he’s suddenly thrust into the plottings and conspiracies of not only the supernatural hunters, but other supernatural entities themselves. Along the way, he discovers a reason to keep on living. (I’m trying my best to avoid spoilers here!)

I very much enjoyed The Last Werewolf. I would almost call it a supernatural thriller; it’s fast-paced and exciting, once the plot picks up and we start following Marlow’s adventures. It’s dark. It’s challenging (since you are sort of rooting for a serial killer). And best of all, Marlowe is a smart, philosophical guy, and so we get his meditations on life and death alongside all of the carnage. For a book about werewolves, parts were awfully realistic. His debauchery actually struck me as quite realistic for someone who has lived for 200 years; I imagine you get bored after seeing history repeat itself one too many times. While some of the twists and turns may have strayed into unbelievable territory, I was happy to be along on the ride.

The Last Werewolf is certainly not for the faint of heart; there’s swearing, gore, and sex, in addition to the general dark tones and themes. But hey, it’s a book about werewolves–I would have been disappointed with anything else.

Bookwanderer Rating: Four stars

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’d Give A Theme Song To

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a topic and encourage fellow bloggers to list their own top ten answers. This week’s prompt is the Top Ten Books I’ve Give A Theme Song To! I found this one was definitely tougher than last week’s, but here goes nothing!

1. American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis + “Hip to Be Square” by Huey Lewis and the News
I almost feel like this is cheating, since Patrick Bateman himself obsesses over so many ’80s bands and singers. But the juxtaposition of this song and Bateman’s casual killing will never stop being creepy. It ruined the song for me!

2. Dogfight, a Love Story, by Matt Burgess + “Se Acabo (It’s Over)” by the Beatnuts
A slightly obscure book paired with an obscure song (if you aren’t familiar with Chicano and Latino rap). I lived in the Queens neighborhood described in this book, as did one of the members of the Beatnuts, and their old school song reminds me of those times.

3. The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien + “Ramble On” by Led Zeppelin
Again, this is cheating: Led Zeppelin actually wrote this song about The Lord of the Rings trilogy, directly referencing Gollum and Mordor. I remember thinking that was the coolest thing ever when I heard the song for the first time in high school! My cheating doesn’t detract from the awesomeness of the song, nor the beauty of Tolkien’s tale. I regret nothing!

4. Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen + “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
I just thought the titles (and focus on birds!) was too funny not to pass up. Additionally, the constant refrain of “this bird you cannot change” dovetailed nicely with Walter’s obsessions (with Patty, with overpopulation, with birds), and Patty’s inability to stop loving Richard. Ah, what a great book.

5. Tree of Smoke, by Denis Johnson + “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix
A dense and complex novel about the Vietnam War, alongside a ’60s anthem. Johnson delves into the utter confusion and chaos of the war, and Hendrix’s lyrics mirror that disorientation. I also couldn’t resist the smoky, hazy allusions.

6. The Last Werewolf, by Glen Duncan + “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Self-explanatory! 😉 I love werewolves so much I have a playlist dedicated to them, and this is one of my favorite songs. Similarly, Duncan’s novel is an innovative take on traditional werewolf tales, and one of my favorite reads from last year.

7. The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton + “Rebellion (Lies)” by Arcade Fire
Oh man. This book made me have an emotional breakdown–even worse than unrequited love is a love that cannot exist because of societal mores. I paired this with one of the sadder Arcade Fire songs, specifically for the refrain of “every time you close your eyes (lies, lies)”–I imagine Archer had many painful dreams about the Countess.

8. The Millennium Trilogy, by Steig Larsson + “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyonce
Lisbeth is so badass, I had to match her up with another badass lady of the music world: Beyonce! Everyone knows Lisbeth was the real hero of these books, and like Beyonce says, “rules this motherf—–.”

9. A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin + “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga
I’m being a bit tongue-in-cheek here, but anyone who’s read the first book knows how underhanded nearly every character is. Motivations are hidden, secret plots and alliances abound, and unraveling one thread makes the entire tapestry fall apart. And it only gets worse from there! Though I had Littlefinger (HATE HIM) in mind for this song, it also works for Cersei, Tyrion, Jaime, and even Arya, Dany, and Catelyn. If your opponents in the game of thrones can read your poker face, you’re as good as dead.

10. The Twilight Series, by Stephanie Meyer + “Stupid Ho” by Nicki Minaj
This is totally meant to be a joke! My humor can be a little…salty…at times, so please don’t get too angry at me if you enjoyed the books, and the character of Bella Swan in particular. (It’s also the only entry where I paired a book series I didn’t enjoy with an artist I do enjoy.) Anyway, I found Bella to be the worst kind of literary “heroine”–overly dependent on men, emotional to the point of stupidity, and willing to give up her friends/family/career/life for a hunky dude. Very regressive and not a great role model for youth. In my humble opinion, Nicki tells it like it is.

That’s  my list! Feel free to share your own in the comments here, or over at The Broke and the Bookish!


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