Friday Fiction Feature

FictionReboot2Hello readers, Tabatha here with a big welcome back to the Friday Fiction Feature. It’s no secret that I am finishing up my last year of graduate school, and in fact, I expect to be graduating this May!  (PS: I have found that people don’t mind if you read a book all through the ceremony so long as you aren’t sitting front and center in a doofy hat). Anyways, as I sit back and count down the days to NO HOMEWORK EVER AGAIN, I realize that the 49 days between then and now are filled with a great deal of homework indeed! (Just two graduate papers,  a presentation on Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and the dreaded Graduate Portfolio. Just.) And so, like any reasonable student with this much work and these few days, I have been entertaining the thought of running away. Far away. Where the homework can’t catch me.

Glazed Murder (Donut Shop Mystery #1) by Jessica Beck

Glazed Murder (Donut Shop Mystery, #1)I have posted before on some possible career options for academics, but sadly most of those adventuring academics have degrees, so if I am going to flee, I’ll need a new set of options. After a recent visit to a local bakery, I have decided that I could run away to a bakery! Just think of it, you could spend your days surrounded by the smell of fresh baked bread. You could eat gooey cookies right out of the oven. And (perhaps best of all) you can trade in grumpy coworkers and disinterested students for happy customers! Since I’m pretty sure it’s physically impossible to be grumpy in the presence of pastry, almost everyone you see will have a guaranteed good mood! It’s a job to die for…or maybe kill for? Suitably enough our first book of the day, Glazed Murder, is the story of a woman who dropped what she was doing to run away and open up a baked-goods shop! (See, I told you it was a good plan!)

Meet Suzanne Hart, owner and operator of Donut Hearts coffee shop in April Springs, North Carolina. After her divorce from Max, an out-of-work actor she’s dubbed “The Great Impersonator,” Suzanne decided to pursue her one true passion in life: donuts. So she cashed in her settlement and opened up shop in the heart of her beloved hometown.
But when a dead body is dumped on her doorstep like a sack of flour, Suzanne’s cozy little shop becomes an all-out crime scene. Now, everyone in town is dropping by for glazed donuts and gruesome details. The retired sheriff warns her to be careful—and they’re all suspects. Soon Suzanne—who finds snooping as irresistible as donuts—is poking holes in everyone’s alibis…

A Peach of a Murder (Fresh-Baked Mystery #1) by Livia J. Washburn

A Peach of a Murder (A Fresh-Baked Mystery, #1)At first I was tempted to say that A Peach of a Murder seemed a rather violent way to go about making pies, but  it seems that if there’s any thing all this…we’ll call it research…has taught me, it’s that baking can be a dangerous business. And not just from the usual danger of trying to eat a hockey-puck of a cookie or the less usual danger of mistaking gnat poison for vanilla. Who knew trying to bake drew so many enemies? Oh well, at least if I do run away from school I’ll know there won’t be much competition.

All year round, retired schoolteacher Phyllis Newsom is as sweet as peach pie-except during the Peach Festival, whose blue ribbon has slipped through Phyllis’s fingers more than once…Everyone’s a little shook up when the corpse of a no-good local turns up underneath a car in a local garage. But even as Phyllis engages in some amateur sleuthing, she won’t let it distract her from out-baking her rivals and winning the upcoming Peach Festival contest. She and all the other contestants guard their secret, original recipes with their lives-and talk a whole lot of trash. With her unusual Spicy Peach Cobbler, Phyllis hopes to knock ’em dead. But that’s just an expression-never in her wildest dreams did she think her cobbler would actually kill a judge. Now, she’s suspected of murder-and she’s got to bake this case wide open.

Brownies and Broomsticks (A Magical Bakery Mystery #1) by Bailey Cates

Brownies and Broomsticks (A Magical Bakery Mystery, #1)Adding a little more…spice… to the list is Brownies and Broomsticks, the thrilling tale of bakers who mean it when they say their cupcakes are baked with love. Or jealousy. Or the cure for your rash. (Also this one gets a few more points for it’s title–on that note, A Sheetcake Named DesireThe Long Quiche Goodbye are available as well).

Katie Lightfoot’s tired of loafing around as the assistant manager of an Ohio bakery. So when her aunt Lucy and uncle Ben open a bakery in Savannah’s quaint downtown district and ask Katie to join them, she enthusiastically agrees. While working at the Honeybee Bakery—named after Lucy’s cat—Katie notices that her aunt is adding mysterious herbs to her recipes. Turns out these herbal enhancements aren’t just tasty—Aunt Lucy is a witch and her recipes are actually spells! When a curmudgeonly customer is murdered outside the Honeybee Bakery, Uncle Ben becomes the prime suspect. With the help of handsome journalist Steve Dawes, charming firefighter Declan McCarthy, and a few spells, Katie and Aunt Lucy stir up some toil and trouble to clear Ben’s name and find the real killer..


Bliss (The Bliss Bakery #1) by Kathryn Littlewood 

Bliss (The Bliss Bakery, #1)Bliss brings us another magical bakery, this time with magical recipies that have been passed down from generation to generation of…apparently of stodgy parents who refuse to let anyone play around with the magic! (What party poopers). That is, until the arrival of the troublemaking witch who’s going to fix all of this ‘responsibility’ nonsense. Also, this book paints a picture of the woman I want to be in 50 years “a mysterious stranger…[who] rides a motorcycle, wears purple sequins, and [can’t cook at all]” (I mean going to graduate school in itself has declared me a bit of a crazy lady, why not go all the way?)

Rosemary Bliss’s family has a secret. It’s the Bliss Cookery Booke—an ancient, leather-bound volume of enchanted recipes like Stone Sleep Snickerdoodles and Singing Gingersnaps. Rose and her siblings are supposed to keep the Cookery Booke under lock and whisk-shaped key while their parents are out of town, but then a mysterious stranger shows up. “Aunt” Lily rides a motorcycle, wears purple sequins, and whips up exotic (but delicious) dishes for dinner. Soon boring, non-magical recipes feel like life before Aunt Lily—a lot less fun.
So Rose and her siblings experiment with just a couple of recipes from the forbidden Cookery Booke. A few Love Muffins and a few dozen Cookies of Truth couldn’t cause too much trouble . . . could they? Kathryn Littlewood’s culinary caper blends rich emotional flavor with truly magical wit, yielding one heaping portion of hilarious family adventure.

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters & Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility and Sea MonstersI felt the need to tack this one on at the end because as wonderful as it sounds to surround myself with the smell of fresh bread, etc., I am still an English major at heart. And so I must admit that if Quirk Classics would have me, I’d be off like a shot to make something like Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters or Horrorstor in between loaves. I could spend my days composing the craziest, silliest mash-ups possible, and maybe even get paid (instead of my usual “Tab you’re weird” eye rolls). I’m thinking Tolstoy + 1960’s B-movie grade horror? Now that sounds like a fun way to use my English degree(s).

A new tale of romance, heartbreak, and tentacled mayhem.
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters expands the original text of the beloved Jane Austen novel with all-new scenes of giant lobsters, rampaging octopi, two-headed sea serpents, and other biological monstrosities. As our story opens, the Dashwood sisters are evicted from their childhood home and sent to live on a mysterious island full of savage creatures and dark secrets. While sensible Elinor falls in love with Edward Ferrars, her romantic sister Marianne is courted by both the handsome Willoughby and the hideous man-monster Colonel Brandon. Can the Dashwood sisters triumph over meddlesome matriarchs and unscrupulous rogues to find true love? Or will they fall prey to the tentacles that are forever snapping at their heels? This masterful portrait of Regency England blends Jane Austen’s biting social commentary with ultraviolent depictions of sea monsters biting. It’s survival of the fittest—and only the swiftest swimmers will find true love!

Friday Fiction Feature

FictionReboot2Hello and welcome back to the Friday Fiction Feature! Series Editor Tabatha H. here once again with, surprise-surprise, more monsters! Dear readers, I want you to know that I really was going to lay off of the monsters and mayhem for a while (or at least the monsters). Really! But then I saw these books… For today we’ve got something very special: romance, adventure, mystery, folklore, history, and fairy tales…with a twist. Courtesy of these intrepid authors, you can now reread your favorite literary classics and still not know how it ends or which character you want to punch in the face most as each well-known tale is infested with cyborgs, ghosts, zombies, vampires, and kittens!


Treasure Island (the sequel) Treasure Islandby Phillip Tomasso III

In keeping with the blog’s joint interests in the medical and fictive worlds, our first contribution is a sequel to the classic Treasure Island featuring the return voyage of the sailor with a heart-of-gold and the pirates who wanted a chest-of-gold as they head back into the grippe of a deadly virus. As English sailors, these men are accustomed to the idea of  deadly viruses . But there’s one problem: they have never faced an un-deadly virus before. What’s a villain to do when shooting the enemy through the heart just wastes ammunition?

A virus similar to the Black Death outbreak has struck England. Mrs. Hawkins soon learns there are things worse than death. The dead have come back to life, and they are hungry.
Jim Hawkins is on his way home with treasure in the belly of the Hispaniola. Captain Smollett is back in charge of the ship, and Long John Silver has agreed to stand trial at home, if only for the chance to make it home.
Wanting only to save his mother and seek sanctuary, Jim realizes survival comes down to instinct and sacrifice in this continuation of Stevenson’s timeless classic, Treasure Island.

Robin Hood & Friar Tuck: Zombie Killers by Paul A. Freeman

Robin Hood & Friar Tuck: Zombie Killers is another sequel in our lineup of ‘extended histories’ showing us yet again that “happily ever after” is a very broad phrase, especially if your heros think an action-packed-thrillride is the only way to really enjoy a slow Monday.

After Robin and Tuck defeated the evil Prince John and condemned him to life as the namesake of all toilets and carried the Sherrif of Rottingham to marry the unsightly village witch (this was an unabridged recreation right?) they went on to fight an even graver foe.

Medieval civilization was under threat from the undead.
Robin Hood & Friar Tuck: Zombie KillersWhen lion-hearted Richard ruled the roost
Of England, he decided that to boost
His regal reputation he should mount
A war to wrest from Turkish men the fount
Of Christendom; yet in that desert land
A zombie plague emerged from midst the sand.
A necromancers alchemistic spell
Reanimated corpses bound for Hell
(And even bound for Heavens pearly gate).
Soon after twas apparent that the fate
Of all on Earth–the evil and the good—
Was in the hands of Robin of the Hood
Whose outlaw men, along with Friar Tuck,
Against rampaging hordes of zombies struck.
They fought to save the likes of you and I,
Not caring that one slip might make them die.
Their tale lies here, within this humble book—
I pray you’ll spare the time to take a look.

(P.S. If this is all written in verse I strongly encourage everyone to buy a copy just on principle.)

Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer (Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer #1) by Van Jensen & Dusty Higgins

Pinocchio, Vampire SlayerYou all know Pinocchio the lovable puppet who only wants to be a real boy! Those viewers who watched a little more closely also know Pinocchio the delinquent: the ‘real boy’ who drank liquor, committed theft, and carried out a number of other small crimes. But there is yet another side of this little wooden boy for his audience to meet: Pinocchio Vampire Slayer.

After seeing Geppetto die at the hands of vampires, Pinocchio swears revenge in this darkly funny graphic novel. As the vampires plot the enslavement of mankind, only a one-puppet army stands in their way. But will a wooden boy and his endless supply of stakes – courtesy of plenty of lies and his elongating nose – be enough to save the day?

Android Karenina by Ben H. Winters, Leo Tolstoy, & Eugene Smith

Android KareninaMany know of Leo Tolstoy’s classic Anna Karenina (and some dedicated readers even know the contents of the book too). It is a story of love, hard work, adultery, farms, and the tragic loss of…well, adultery. With Android Karenina you can see the tragedy and romance set against a backdrop of a dystopian world with alien-worship, androids, and space travel. How can true love conquer when the threat of husbands and rust stand in the way!

As in the original novel, our story follows two relationships: the tragic adulterous romance of Anna Karenina and Count Alexei Vronsky, and the much more hopeful marriage of Konstantin Levin and Kitty Shcherbatskaya.These four, yearning for true love, live in a steampunk-inspired 19th century of mechanical butlers, extraterrestrial-worshiping cults, and airborne debutante balls. Their passions alone would be enough to consume them-but when a secret cabal of radical scientific revolutionaries launches an attack on Russian high society’s high-tech lifestyle, our heroes must fight back with all their courage, all their gadgets, and all the power of a sleek new cyborg model like nothing the world has ever seen.”

Mansfield Park and Mummies: Monster Mayhem, Matrimony, Ancient Curses, True Love, and Other Dire Delights (Supernatural Jane Austen Series #1) by Vera Nazarian & Jane Austen

Mansfield Park and Mummies: Monster Mayhem, Matrimony, Ancient Curses, True Love, and Other Dire Delights Our next novel asks us ‘why stop at just one monster when you can have them all!?’ Mansfield Park and Mummies: Monster Mayhem, Matrimony, Ancient Curses, True Love, and Other Dire Delights brings in all of the monsters and dire threats of our preceding selections and mashes them all into a single blood-curdling horror (and not just because of the marriage plot). The first in a series of novels…spicing up some well-worn classics, the Supernatural Jane Austen Series provides readers with another full set of Austen novels to enjoy.

Ancient Egypt infiltrates Regency England in this elegant, hilarious, witty, insane, and unexpectedly romantic monster parody of Jane Austen’s classic novel.
Our gentle yet indomitable heroine Fanny Price must hold steadfast not only against the seductive charms of Henry Crawford but also an Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh!
Meanwhile, the indubitably handsome and kind hero Edmund attempts Exorcisms… Miss Crawford vamps out… Aunt Norris channels her inner werewolf… The Mummy-mesmerized Lady Bertram collects Egyptian artifacts…
There can be no doubt that Mansfield Park has become a battleground for the forces of Ancient Evil and Regency True Love!
“Gentle Reader — this Delightful Edition includes Scholarly Footnotes and Appendices.”

The Meowmorphosis by Coleridge Cook & Franz Kafka

Of course, these preceding selections might tend to give our audiences the idea that monsters are invariably bad. We at the Fiction Feature do not condone such one-sided representations of the over-clawed and underprivileged (see our feature on Death–with personality). Carrying on Kafka’s what-the-why-would-what-how-on-huh? spirit of writing, Cook has taken it upon himself to remind us all that kittens are more than YouTube fodder, and in The Meowmorphosis shows us how a kitten can wreak more havok than an unidentifiable bug-monster. (Because when you start with Kafka, the only place to go is what!?).

The Meowmorphosis “One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that he had been changed into an adorable kitten.”
Thus begins The Meowmorphosis—a bold, startling, and fuzzy-wuzzy new edition of Franz Kafka’s classic nightmare tale, from the publishers of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies! Meet Gregor Samsa, a humble young man who works as a fabric salesman to support his parents and sister. His life goes strangely awry when he wakes up late for work and finds that, inexplicably, he is now a man-sized baby kitten. His family freaks out: Yes, their son is OMG so cute, but what good is cute when there are bills piling up? And how can he expect them to serve him meals every day? If Gregor is to survive this bizarre, bewhiskered ordeal, he’ll have to achieve what he never could before—escape from his parents’ house. Complete with haunting illustrations and a provocative biographical exposé of Kafka’s own secret feline life, The Meowmorphosis will take you on a journey deep into the tortured soul of the domestic tabby.

I Am Scrooge: A Zombie Story for Christmas by Adam Roberts

Finally, I want to send you off today with another inversion. Surely you remember cheering along when Scrooge saw the light (of the Christmas dawn) and brought a big roast goose to Kermit’s family and thereby cured Tiny Tim (another unabridged version right?). Scrooge learned his lesson from his ghostly business associate and would never harm another living being! But what if I, or rather Adam Roberts, told you that this was the worst possible series of events? What if Scrooge living as a cantankerous old…well, scrooge, was the only way to save Christmas, and life, as we know it?

I Am Scrooge: A Zombie Story for ChristmasIn I am Scrooge the legendary Ebenezeer Scrooge sits in his house counting money. The boards that he has nailed up over the doors and the windows shudder and shake under the blows from the endless zombie hordes that crowd the streets hungering for his flesh and his miserly braaaaiiiiiinns! Just how did the happiest day of the year slip into a welter of blood, innards, and shambling, ravenous undead on the snowy streets of old London town? Will the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future be able to stop the world from drowning under a top-hatted and crinolined zombie horde? Was Tiny Tim’s illness something infinitely more sinister than mere rickets and consumption? Can Scrooge be persuaded to go back to his evil ways, travel back to Christmas past, and destroy the brain stem of the tiny, irritatingly cheery Patient Zero?