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D is for Dangerous

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“And then,” Shannon leaned in close, her voice hardly more than a whisper, “they kissed.”

“Oho, Ms. Hale!” I exclaimed, clapping my hands together. “I see what you did there. That was rather clever, really.”

The woman leaned back in her seat, taking a sip from her steaming mug of cocoa to hide her smile. “Well, I do pride myself on my rapier wit.”

I reached for the crusty bear-shaped bottle of honey set on the kitchen table, scraping some of the crystallized sugary goodness out and stirring it into my tea. The secret to the perfect brew is to use old, nearly solid honey. That way, it melts slowly and you get to suck the little leftover bits off of the spoon. “I am simply adoring all of these science jokes,” I continued. “Warms me right down to my nerdy bones.”

“Oh, it’s just too much fun,” Shannon said. “But what do you think of Dragon?”

“Well, the name did catch my attention,” I said, nodding thoughtfully. “Though I did think for a moment he was a transgender. Weird misunderstanding there.”

Shannon laughed, nearly snorting hot chocolate all over the table. “Really?” she said. “Oh, goodness!”

I giggled. “I know! Not to mention–” I cut off, a strange, high-pitched whistling noise ringing in my ears.

Then the kitchen exploded.

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The above excerpt accurately represents my reaction to Shannon Hale’sd most recent novel, Dangerous. (Which, for my fellow A to Z challengers, is my D for today.)

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of this review, however, I would like to offer the following disclaimer: I am a huge fan of Shannon Hale. I adore her books. I read her blog. I wish she was my next door neighbor so we could talk books and writing and political issues and how gosh darn cute her kids are. As such, I might be slightly biased in my review. But that’s okay, because I’ll try to be entertaining while I’m about it.

Dangerous is a book about super heroes. It’s also a book about first love, about trusting your family, about doing what’s right even when you’re scared out of your mind, and also just how awesome(ly fun) it is to be a science nerd. If you like science fiction, or super heroes, or Shannon Hale, I highly recommend this book.

To be completely honest, though, the first section of the book might feel a little bit…meh. Mediocre? No, not exactly — more distant, really. The entire first part of the book I got this surreal sensation that I was simply skimming the book, pausing to snicker at a few well-placed jokes. I understand now that this first section is not the story Hale was setting out to tell, but it was necessary background for the rest of the book to make sense. I kind of wish she’d told it in flashbacks rather than skimping on the details, but I had fun with it either way — even if only because it felt like a fantastic little tea party with one of my favorite authors.

And then the first character died, which basically dropped a nuclear bomb on my tea party.

But in a good way.

dangerous

For a science fiction novel splattered with super heroes, aliens, alien technology, space elevators, and mutant diseases, Dangerous felt like a strangely realistic book to me. The danger feels real, the emotions feel real, but more than anything, the world feels real. I can’t really figure out how to explain this. For example, when Maisie, our main character, gets herself into trouble, she actually involves her parents. Which I can never, in the history of ever, recall reading in a YA novel before.

I don’t know what else to say but read this book. I loved the characters. I loved the story. Sure, there were places where the distant, skimming-writing pulled me out, but the humor more than made up for it. It’s a fun read, and I can (almost) guarantee you’ll love it as much as I did.

And now, in closing (and since I promised Sabrina A. Fish more corny puns), what do you call a dangerous precipitation? A rain of terror.

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B is for Brains

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Have you ever realized how many body parts start with B? I mean,B there’s body, obviously, along with butt, belly, belly button, breast, and beard (if you include facial hair as a body part). And then there’s the B parts we generally don’t like to see outside of bodies, like blood, bones, and brains. SO MANY OPTIONS. But, since it’s late at night and I have yet to post anything for Day Two of the A to Z challenge, I went for the one my slap-happy mind found most humorous. (Which means zombies. And gore. I do apologize, really.)

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Deadly Humor

“You know,” I croaked, “I’m getting really tired of all these BRAAAAIIINS jokes. They get” — I paused to slurp my lower jaw back into place — “old real fast, you know?”

Barton hopped in a vaguely nod-like manner. “HAA-RAT TAT TAT TAT TUT!” he exclaimed. The skull wasn’t technically a zombie, but he was a nice guy and fun to have around. Plus, considering the Intact Act, we made it a point not to discriminate based on level of decay.

“Barton’s right,” slurred a young zombie — young in undead terms, as none of us were quite certain how old we used to be — who insisted her name was Bloody Bones. “Like, really? There’s more to being dead than eating brains.”

“Quite so,” said Quentin. “Not only are such jokes offensive, they ridicule zombie intelligence and imply a certain lack of perception regarding the nature of the undead. I’d say they’re told in rather poor taste, truthfully.”

There were agreeing moans all around, though chances were half of the group didn’t understand a word out of Quentin’s mouth. Words longer than two syllables were difficult to decipher when your ear drums were rotting. Though, Quentin’s curious way of speaking prompted frequent debates over whether he had once been a teacher, a politician or some sort of scientist, or possibly merely British.

“What, you mean you dead-heads don’t like brains?”

Frieda jumped out of her skin in surprise — literally. We all turned, joints cracking, to look at the small band of humans, shotguns in hand, peering over the whitewashed fence locking them in their backyard.

“Ugh,” I said, partly because humans are annoying and I was expressing my disgust, but mostly because they were too far away for me to tear them to shreds before they blew my head off with their shotguns.

“DA-TAT TAT,” Barton agreed.

“Actually,” Quentin said, “I would imagine that a fondness for brains would be more a matter of personal taste. This obsessive brain craving humans casually attribute to the undead is an unfounded stereotype, as zombies’ dining preferences vary quite as much as humans’. There are other variables too, of course, such as availability, quality, convenience–”

“Oh,” one of the humans interrupted, a tall one that smelled of cheese and sweat. “I got one. Knock knock!”

There was an awkward silence. “Uh,” said Bloody Bones. “Who’s there?”

“Zombie!”

“Zombie who?”

“BRAAAAIIINS!”

The humans all burst out in snorts and guffaws while we shuffled uncomfortably.

“Was that even meant to be funny?” Quentin asked incredulously. “Generally speaking, a knock-knock joke involves some sort of word play, or puns, or some situational humor at least.”

“Hey,” said a squat male that smelled vaguely of broccoli, and possibly cow dung, “Here’s a good one. What do zombies wear when it’s raining?”

“Well, assuming we–” Quentin was cut off again.

“A BRAAAAIIIN-coat!” The humans descended into laughter again.

Frieda sniffed, though I wasn’t sure whether it was in disdain or an effort to hide the bluish fluid leaking from her nostrils. “Really,” she said dryly. “You can’t be more creative than that?”

Cheese and Sweat clapped his hands together gleefully. “What did the zombie say to his girlfriend?”

A thin-faced human that might have been female gasped. “Oh, I know this one! ‘I just love a woman with BRAAAAIIINS!'”

I raised an eyebrow. Or, I think I did. Did I still have my eyebrows? Frieda and Quentin were grumbling quietly, while Barton adopted a look of pained tolerance. Bloody Bones looked positively livid.

The female-ish human cackled, hooking its shotgun over one shoulder. “What do vegan zombies like to eat? GRAAAAIIINS!”

“Ha!” laughed Cow Dung. “How about: how do zombies like to travel?” He paused, sniggering. “TRAAAAIIINS!”

“Or, what do zombies like to eat for breakfast? Raisin BRAAAAIIINS!”

The humans were gulping for breath, choking on their own laughter. I peered sideways at Quentin, tempted to roll my eyes but worried I might lose one if I tried. We shuffled closer, eyeing the wheezing humans.

“Why did the zombie cross the road?”

“To get to the BRAAAAIIINS!”

I reached over the fence, grabbing Cheese and Sweat by the throat. The laughter cut off suddenly, evolving into panicked screams and shouts. A couple of gunshots rang out, and the air was tangy with the scent of blood.

As the last scream faded off into gurgles, I faintly heard Bloody Bones say, “Hey. What do you call a dead human?”

Licking my fingers, I glanced at Quentin. With glazed eyes and blood dripping from his chin, he groaned, “BRAAAAIIINS.”

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You know, I used to think that brains were the most important organ in the entire body. Then I thought, look what’s telling me that.

Okay, okay, enough jokes. But really, you guys, I found so many zombie-brain jokes. I didn’t even get to use all of them. (How do zombies study for tests? by eating lots of BRAAAAIIIN food.)

Really quick, I’d like to thank my fellow A to Z challengers for stopping by, and offer a brief summary of what I do on my blog. (Which takes some considerable skill, as half the time I don’t even know what I do on my blog.) I love to write, so you’ll find a lot of poetry (usually serious) and short stories (usually humorous, and strangely rather morbid). But, as I am a creature of many faces, I’ll also post artwork, reviews, guides, humor, rants, or whatever silly thing enters my mind.

Also, I love comments. Tell me — what did you think of the story? Was the ending even remotely funny? Was any of it funny, or am I just ridiculously tired? Would you like to read more things like this? Do you have any good zombie jokes? Any good non-zombie jokes? Am I the only person who thought World War Z was comedic? I probably should have waited to post this one until Z, speaking of the letter, shouldn’t I?

The Unclean

“No!” I cry as I fall into the darkness below. “NO! I’m clean!”

I land gently on the cushioned bottom of this despicable pit. Something wet and sticky touches me and I can’t repress a shudder.

“I’m clean,” I whimper, as my last ray of hope is sealed off with the top of the stinking prison. The darkness is putrid, so thick it is almost tangible. It penetrates every corner of this cesspit.

How I loathe this place.

“Well, well.” The voice slices its way through the darkness. “What do we have here?” Read the rest of this entry

I Hate Ninjas

My eyes flew open.

The room was dark, empty, the windows closed and the curtains tightly drawn. I strained my ears, listening for even the barest whisper of a sound, but the night was still as death. My bedroom was silent, noiseless, nothing out of place. There was nothing that should have disturbed my slumber.

I hate ninjas, I thought, annoyed Read the rest of this entry

We is Me

There comes a time in one’s life when one simply becomes too much for one’s own self, so one’s self must divide into multiple Ones in order to cope with one’s inner lack of oneness.

And if you’re still reading, then you’re either a) really bored, b) pretending you’re so intelligent and philosophical that the above sentence actually made sense, or c) other: [please specify].

Either which way.

This is not Ham.

This is not Ham.

Hello! We are Ham and Potatoes, in case you missed those big letters at the top of this page. You know, the ones that say “Ham and Potatoes.” Yeah. Those ones. Right there. Uh-huh. Yeah, you got ’em. And as we are of the opinion that there is no such thing as a good first post on a blog (you know, one that will inspire the masses and cause hundreds and thousands of subscribers to flock to our blog), we have decided to go for what is likely the most cliched and boring first just to get it over with: The Introduction Post. Read the rest of this entry

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