Supernatural Recap: Swap Meat

What happens when a teenager gets a hunky new body, and Sam is forced to be a normal boy? A clearer perspective. Sam orders a banana daiquiri, and a woman flirts with him. He’s taken aback by the whole thing, as he leaves with her, we see via a mirror, he’s not himself.

We go back to when the boys first arrive in Housatonic and visit Donna, hotel maid and their former babysitter. She's in the know to their lifestyle and she needs their help. There’s a poltergeist in her house carving up her daughter, the boys suggest they move out until they can get to the bottom of it.

The boys go into research mode at a local diner, where Sam orders a health shake, and I share Dean’s disgust as he drinks it. As they uncover whose likely haunting Donna’s house, they’re unaware of Gary the counter boy stalker watching them. They split up to search for more information on the house. Sam returns to the motel, someone tranqs him. He awakes in the counter boy’s uniform, and gets picked up by a police man calling him Gary. The officer takes him home.

Back at the motel, Dean finds Gary, in Sam’s body, checking himself out. Gary tells him that the maid saw their guns, and both agree they have to leave. Gary ditches all the cell phones, and as they leave Gary asks to drive, Dean reluctantly agrees to let him behind the wheel of his baby. Dean should follow his gut instinct, because shortly after Gary hits a sign, and dean gets back into the driver’s seat where he belongs.

Back at Gary’s, Sam gets called down for breakfast. Gary’s stepfather, Leonard, starts laying into him about his future and plans for MIT. Sam is angered by his pushing, but plays along. Sam asks if he’s been doing anything odd lately, which leads to Leonard wondering if he’s on drugs. Sam eats a piece of wheat bread, only to discover that Gary is allergic to gluten, after throwing up, Gary’s sister Sydney tells him to stop being stupid, and asking about the book he snuck into the house.

Gary meanwhile tries to find out what they’re investigating, once he learns its about stopping Maggie Briggs’ ghost he tells Dean Maggie’s horrific history. As they drive to the house, Gary tells Dean to turn the music up, raising all kinds of red flags.

Sam goes to high school, and tries to blend in. Gary’s friends, Trevor and Nora, ask what happened, and Sam tries to cover. He searches Gary’s locker and finds a dark tome.

At Donna’s house Gary and Dean search the basement, finding Maggie’s bones. Gary picks up a shotgun, intent on shooting Dean when the ghost strikes, slamming into him. Dean tries to help, drawing the ghost’s attention and Gary salts and burns her bones.

Sam plays hooky, only to be caught by Gary’s friends, and winds up getting tranqed for the second time.

Meanwhile Gary and Dean are celebrating, Dean orders a bacon cheeseburger, and Gary orders the same. Dean jokes that its like he’s a different person, that he’s not usually so cheerful. Gary brushes it off saying its nice to escape from a life where his future is set. After a couple of drinks Dean relaxes, until Gary leaves with Crystal.

Sam awakes tied up at Trevor’s house. Trevor calls Gary. Gary tells them he hasn’t killed Dean yet, as Trevor warns that Sam is in his body. Gary shrugs it off, no one will believe him. Trevor urges him to hurry up and kill Dean, ending their conversation. He tells Nora, Gary isn’t going to go through with the plan. They tell Sam that there’s a demon bounty on Dean’s head, as Trevor summons a demon to kill Dean.

Gary tries to kill Dean, but he’s ready for him, and disarms him.

Nora has second thoughts about the grand scheme, and both she and Sam tries to stop Trevor, but its too late the demon enters Nora. The demon sees that Sam is in the wrong body, that his body is empty and available for Lucifer. Trevor demands his reward, the demon kills him and goes after Dean.

Dean heads out to save Sam when the demon finds him first, knocking him out. She asks what Gary wants as his reward, tempting him with his heart’s desire, but Gary finally sees the light. He begins the exorcism ritual. Dean joins in, trapping demon Nora between them, and expels it from Nora’s body.

Back in their rightful bodies, Sam and Gary have a little chat. Sam tells him that Gary has a great life, and he wishes he could have a life like that. Gary leaves happy, but Sam lied. Normalcy is overrated, and Gary’s life sucked. As they drive away Sam channeling a grumpy old man tells Dean to turn the radio down.


In review: Angelic by Kelley Armstrong

Released: 1/8/10 104 pages
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1596062467

When the fates need someone to find out why the Djinn begin reneging on their deals, they send in part demon, part angel, all ghost witch Eve Levine. Eve has always been a bit of a rule breaker, and decides to do things her own way, but as she finds the possibility of getting fired all too real she sees that some rules are meant to be left unbroken.

This is a very quick read, giving little insight to already established characters of the Otherworld series. I'll admit, the werewolf plot lines always seem tighter than the witch ones, and this one is no exception.

Most of the dialogue that takes place is inner dialogue, the plot feels rushed, and there is no emotional connection to Eve or her plight. The illustrations are beautiful, but not needed, nor are there any in the other books. However the high price of this limited edition may discourage many readers since this book does not further the series.


Supernatural Recap: Sam Interrupted

I always knew the boys would end up in a mental hospital someday, after everything they’ve seen, done. And tonight they check themselves in, in the name of hunting a monster, but in the process discover that maybe they have some mental issues of their own.

Dean actually does the checking in of Sam, whose feeling a little depressed about the Apocalypse and having started it, but who can blame the guy he did put in motion the end of the freaking world! Doc Fuller examines the boys and both are admitted under Nurse Karla’s watchful eye. They’re actually there not because a bout of depression or guilt over the Apocalypse or even the death of Ellen and Jo, but to save fellow hunter Martin Creaser.

The man is in horrible shape, more than just sleep deprived. The hospital has been plagued with deaths, that on paper are called suicides but he knows they aren’t, because this is Supernatural and nothing is ever that simple. They’re the work of a monster, he just isn’t sure which kind. Sam and Martin are taken to morning session, while Dean is told he’ll attend a different session because he’s too co-dependent on Sam. Poor Dean.

During morning session, one patient, Ted wants to talk about monsters, but Dr. Fuller quickly shuts him down, because monsters don’t exist. Meanwhile Dean is playing chess with himself, when his new doctor Dr. Cartwright comes to check on him, played by Lucy Lawless. She’s evil, I’m sure of it. Dean and Doc Xena exchange questions, which brings up Dean’s Daddy issues.

A depressed Dean meets back up with Sam, and a female patient, Wendy, awaits a kiss from him, gotta love this girl. She slaps him on the butt and walks away, Dean decides maybe things aren’t so bad.

The boys go to see Ted, but he’s dead before they can get there of course. So it’s off to the morgue they go to examine the body. Sam gets down to probing while Dean is the look out, and finds that the brain has been sucked dry.

When the boys tell Martin what they’ve found, he knows what they’re hunting finally, a Wraith. Silver burns, like a werewolf, but a mirror will reveal their true form, easy peasy.

While Dean is checking out the patients in a corridor mirror, Dr. Xena is back with more questions. Asking what the rest of us have been asking. How do you do it, why can’t anyone else someone else hunt the monsters and save anyone. And Dean delivers the answer we’ve known all along, because if he doesn’t do it, no one else will. At which point I just go awww, and then Dean sees that Dr. Fuller is the wraith ruining the moment.

Sam acquires some silver-plated scalpels when Wendy strikes again, kissing Sam this time. She’s decided she wants him because he’s bigger. Who is this girl, because she may just be my hero. The boys go to Martin with their plan, they plan to go after Dr. Fuller, but Martin bows out. He no longer feels invincible.

The boys proceed, and find Fuller’s office empty, they split up, and Sam ambushes him, cutting his arm in the process. Sam gives chase, Martin arrives stopping him, pointing out that Fuller’s cut isn’t burning, he’s not the wraith.

What would a mental hospital visit be without a little inadvertent truth, which comes by way of a drugged up Sam. He tells Dean that the doctor is real, that he wonders if Dean is going insane, but it’s okay because he’s still his brother and he loves him. Now everyone say it with me, awww. Dean vows to find the real wraith.

Dr. Cartwright is back, with a few more hard truths. She tells him it’s his fault Ellen and Jo died, and that he couldn’t kill Lucifer. He’s a failure. When Dean snaps back at her demanding answers, see evil, an orderly comes over, and has no idea what he’s talking about. Confused Dean see that all the reflections of everyone in the hospital are wraiths. He panics, tries to get out, but ultimately passes out.

When Fuller comes to see Sam, Sam tells him that he’s realized there are no monsters. But Fuller says that he has a bigger problem, hes filled with anger. Sam agrees and asks for a second chance, which Fuller grants it, but warns if there are any further outburst he’ll be transferred.

Sam finds Dean. Dean tells Sam that he’s the problem because of his Lies and Arrogance. Then all the patients tell Sam it’s his fault they’re dying. Sam lashes out wildly at nothing. Dean watches in shock as he’s restrained, wondering what’s happening.

Dean goes to Martin to regroup and figure out what’s happening. He figures that he was infected and the culprit may have been Wendy, and her slobber. They leave Martin’s room, with Dean descending into crazy and intent on not stepping on the cracks. Dean spies Nurse Karla her wraith reflection and her bone spur withdrawing from a patient’s brain into her wrist.

The wraith attacks Dean and Martin, but Martin manages to slash her with a scalpel, driving her away. The patient is still alive, but before they can celebrate, Karla tells the orderlies she was attacked.

Martin takes on the orderlies, so Dean can escape. But Dean is hallucinating hardcore as he follows the wraith’s blood trail. Karla goes after Sam, who’s restrained. He sees her in a mirror and realizes what she is. She taunts him, they were such easy prey, and how the hospital is her own little buffet. As Sam rages at her, she admits that she just enhances the crazy that’s already there, she doesn’t create it, and once the victim has peaked, she feeds. Her bone spur extends, and Dean comes to the rescue. He manages to break off her spur, and as she screams he kills her with a scalpel. The visions and hallucinations fade with her death, and Dean and Sam make their escape.

Back at the Impala, they have one last heart to heart. Sam says that the wraith was right, he is angry at everything. He doesn’t know why he’s mad, but he refuses to blame everyone anymore. Dean tells him that even if he is right he can’t say yes to Lucifer, that he has to bury it all down and keep on trucking. That’s the grand plan to keep from turning out like Martin. Dean asks Sam if he’s with him. Sam assures him that he is, but something about his assurance makes me doubt him.


In Review: the Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton

Released: 1995                
Publisher: Ace Books
Format: Paperback

The Circus of the Damned is the third book of the Anita Blake series, opens with Anita turning down job from the vampire hating group who wants her to reveal to her the resting place of the Master of the City, whom Anita does not even confirm knowing, and then she’s off to investigate a crime for the police. The victim has multiple bite marks, of different sizes, pointing to multiple vampires, which is highly unusual. It also means that Anita has to seek out Jean-Claude’s help, and she head to the Circus of the Damned, a supernatural circus.

There she meets Yasmeen, a master vampire ally of Jean Claude’s, and super hot human Richard Zeeman, but before she can get the information she came for the main ring’s attraction a giant Cobra, reeks havoc eating the snake charmer. Anita, as his vampire servant, is forced to allow Jean-Claude to combine their strengths to defeat the snake.

Richard emerges as a romantic interest, though she doesn’t know much about him, she is instantly attracted to him, which I have to admit I’m loving him much more than Jean-Claude. Edward is back, and issuing threats, or rather promises. He’s after the Master of the City and he’s willing to do anything, even torture Anita to get it. And Anita has to tread a fine line to keep this dangerous man as an ally. And Larry Kirkland, an inexperienced fellow animator is introduced.

As the bodies stack up, some coming back as dangerous animalistic vampires, and more people endangering her life to get to get to Jean-Claude, she discovers that some aren’t who she thought they were, and further becomes what she was avoiding.

The story has some wonderful plot twists, even if some of the villains are a little cartoonish at times. But the action is pretty nonstop, making this a hard one to put down. The further development of headstrong Anita is excellent, and the level of danger she’s in is greatly ramped up as the book progresses making this story one not be missed.


In Review: The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K. Hamilton

Released: 1994                
Publisher: Ace Books
Format: Paperback
ASIN: B000NR69Z0

The Laughing Corpse is the second in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton. This time there is a greater focus on her job as an Animator when a wealthy man wants her to raise a very old corpse. She refuses because the only death big enough to raise a corpse of that age is a human death, and there are some things that even Anita won’t do. Again the name of the book refers to an establishment in the book, this time a comedy club.

In the midst of more serious problems, Anita is being fitted for a bridesmaid dress, where her scar are an issue. Which is the least of her worries, she also comes face to face with a voodun priestess whose learned how to put a person’s soul back into their decaying body. When Anita raises the dead they have a shelf life, and they aren’t really back, but Dominga’s are a whole new breed and she’s selling them. And Jean-Claude, the new Master of the City, whose given her the first two vampire marks wants her to start acting like the human servant he wishes she’d be.  

This book builds upon the world of the first and is as interesting as it is inventive. It is much darker than the first, and the body count just may be higher, definitely the zombie body count is. It is a bit gruesome and not for the faint of heart, but is beyond excellent. Anita is more likeable even as her morals are stretched to the extreme, and even at his pushy insistent moments Jean-Claude is charming.
The action is nonstop, and the ending is surprising and satisfying. A very enjoyable read.


In Review: Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton

Released: 1993                 272 pages
Publisher: New English Library
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0450595608

The first in Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series is Guilty Pleasures, which is also the name of Jean Claude’s club.

This first story works well building Anita’s world where vampires live side by side with the living. Anita Blake is a strong and sassy character, a small woman in a large man’s world. She’s a professional animator, a necromancer, and a licensed vampire executioner. They call her the Executioner.

The vampires are beautiful and enthralling, but they’re also very deadly, living by their own code, and barely in line with the law. Anita views them as monsters, even if the law protects them to an extent. And these beautiful monsters seek out her help when there own are murdered, and when the Master of the city, Nikolaos, demands your help, you help her even if she looks like a prepubescent child because she’s scary powerful.

Jean-Claude is taunts and teases Anita, even as she spurns his attentions, even though she is attracted to him. As Anita tries to solve the case she gets sucked further and further into league with the monsters, and finds herself at odds with human hitman Edward. Along the way there are not only vampires, but also wererats, ghouls, other animators, and fellow humans.

The plot holds up well under the constant action, never really losing momentum until the story is complete. The entire story is fast paced and intriguing a really good first for the series.


In Review: Laughing Corpse- The Necromancer by Laurell K. Hamilton

Released: 01/6/10 120 pages
Publisher: Marvel
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 978-0785136330
The second book in Laurell k. Hamilton's Anita Blake series to be adapted into a comic book form, this is book two of three.
It picks up where the last one left off with a zombie attack. But the action pretty much stops there, hopefully to pick up in the final edition. The pacing just didn't work this time. Lots of dialogue, hardly any detective work, did Anita really do so little and have everything just fall into her lap in the books.
I wasn't all to impressed with the artwork. Anita is a hard character at times, she's small, and she's overly tough, but her expression range from surprised to angry with nothing in between, and at times when that face couldn't be the correct one, making it hard to gage her response to the situation. The panels of course were dialogue heavy, but with everything hastily drawn a lot of the feeling you get from the book is lacking in this translation.
The frustration felt over Anita being hard headed in regards to being Jean-Claude's human servant and eventually lover felt more empty and less consequential. I loved the book, but this one just didn't measure up.


In Review: Death's Mistress by Karen Chance

Released: 1/5/10 432 pages
Publisher:n Onyx
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0451412768

This is the second book in the Dorina Basarab series, and this one is just as fast paced as the first. Dorina is a dhampir- half human, half vampire, whose lucky to be alive. Most are insane because of their genetic make up, experiencing bouts of rage, violence and blackouts, and Dory is no exception. She just uses the rage to her advantage. And most are murdered just as soon as they are born, but Dory was spared because her father is Mircea Basarab, brother to Dracula, and Radu, and high ranking vampire Senator.

All Dory wants at the moment is some peace and quiet after the mess her life has been, but she gets anything but. Her father hires her to bring in a vampire, one that everyone is after. Her roomate, Claire is back from Fairy with trouble of her own, and Senator/Champion Louis Cesare is stirring up trouble as well. And there's also Dory's drinking of fey wine to control her blackouts. It's magical properties are addictive and said to slowly drive the consumer insane, but that's not all its doing. Besides controlling her blackouts and seizures, its also giving her visions with a touch of the hand.

Karen Chance's books are always so fast paced they give me whiplash. The plots are intricate, and extremely detailed. And even though I try to read them slowly they always end before I'm ready for them to. It's highly explosive, and addictive, very hard to put down. This series interweaves characters from Chance's Cassandra Palmer series as well, so although you don't have to read both series to appreciate the story, it will enhance the experience.

The action is fast, but doesn't feel shallow, the characters are feel real and fleshed out, and the sparks between Dory and Louis Cesare are hot. And I love the inventfulness of her characters, the understated brilliance and the humor. The scenes are so rich that I find myself discovering new things with each read.


In Review: Midnight’s Daughter by Karen Chance

Released 10/7/08            384 pages
Publisher: Onyx
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0451412621

The first book in the Dorina Basarab series, takes place in the same world as Karen Chances’s other series that follows Cassandra Palmer. Because of that series many of the secondary characters are already known to readers. Dorina’s father is the famous Mircea Basarab, brother of Dracula, and she’s asked to track down her uncle, who’s escaped his prison. She agrees to help when her father offers to use his influence to help locate Dory's missing, Claire, who has gone missing, even through Dracula is the only thing that truly scares her.
Dorina is dhampir- half human, half vampire hybrid whose been on her own kicking butt for about 500 years. Unlike Cassie, she knows full well what she’s capable of. The heroine is strong, almost too strong making everyone else seem weak, na├»ve or incapable at best.
Along for the ride is Louis-Cesare, the dueling champion for the vampire senate. Together there’s tons of heat and chemisty, but more than most others, he comes off as inexperienced. The Frenchmen showed vulnerability in the Cassandra series, but here it was like he was stuck in a miasma of emotions.
Just as with all her other books, this one is extremely fast paced. And while the story works well in this format, the inconsistencies between the two series are a little distracting, but the dialogue is sharp and entertaining.
To new readers, it may be hard keeping track of all the characters and politics without having first read the Cassandra books, but there is enough explanation that they’ll be able to follow the story, though they may feel as if they are missing something. The Dracula storyline works well, those the secondary one concerning Claire is a little inconsistent, mostly being wrapped up with Claire explaining where she was during a battle scene which was probably not the best time. Not my favorite book by Ms. Chance, but a nice first outing for Dory.


In Review: Darkest Angel by Gena Showalter

Released: 1/1/10
Publisher: HQN Books
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0373774319

When tough as nails demon assassin/Angel Lysander meets the sexy sultry harpy Bianka, sparks fly. Lysander has never known love, lust, or any of those other messy emotions. Bianka who is naughty by nature, and never one to turn down wicked good time instantly tempts his soul.

His solution to kill her, just kidding, he decides to kidnap her (which isn't that a little naughty of an angel) and turn her into a good girl. But Bianka is a harpy, and even if she wanted to, she can't be completely good, its just not in her.

Gena Showalter is a master of taking two unlikely characters, and making sparks fly. Although the novella is short, the story isn't lacking. It has all the heat, wit, action, and romance that is expected with the Lord of the Underworld series. Lysander struggles with his desires, trying to understand what makes this harpy so special, when none other, good or bad has been able to illicit this reaction from him. And as much as he wants to go with his instincts he's afraid of falling, literally.

And a little cameo from fan favorite lord of Promiscuity, Paris, serves to kick up the heat, making it hard to pass up, because lets face it what is a love story without competition? Gena does a good job of weaving in the angel world with the Lords of the Underworld mythology, while introducing and setting up future characters.

The plotting is excellently paced, and makes the short 140 pages feel like a complete story.


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