An anthology of stories featuring a whole host of weird and wonderful creatures that have been birthed from a union of myth and imagination. ‘Unnatural Creatures’ introduces us to a wide array of mythical beast and monster, from the fearsome werewolf to the mysterious (and somewhat scrumptious!) sunbird.
Look at those gorgeous golden eyes. Set against a backdrop of pure, impenetrable black, the contrast of colors is striking. This is what initially reeled me towards Unnatural Creatures when I saw it perched atop a display in a local bookstore. While I’ve yet to actually read anything penned by Neil Gaiman, I’ve heard nothing but positive things about his writing and this is why I decided to trust his judgment and read this book.
This book isn’t the longest of books, but neither is it the shortest. This compilation of stories takes up 455 pages and not a single page is put to waste. Gaiman has evidently put a lot of time and thought into this selection, choosing stories from a wide range of writers, from newer, lesser known writers to the more well-established. I like this, the fact that he has provided a platform for up and coming writers to showcase their work and talent. Writers supporting one another like this is awesome!
In regards to the actual content, I enjoyed some stories more than others, but that’s the case with any anthology, right? My favorites were The Sage of Theare and Sunbird (the latter of which was written by Gaiman himself, so I told a teeny tiny lie before! *bows down* Forgive me, o wonderful one).
What I enjoyed most about Unnatural Creatures was the complete and utter unleashing of these writers’ imaginations. Many of these mythical creatures had previously been confined to the half-remembered tales murmured over campfires at Halloween, or trapped between the dusty pages of voluminous tomes in museum storerooms. These writers have breathed life into them once more, resurrecting them to the delight of generations of readers to come.
Maaaaan, I feel like I’ve been away from I swoon over fictional, non-human men for a century. I’d gotten so used to writing at least one review per week that it feels weird to not have posted anything substantial in the past week or more! *tentatively steps into the light* Well, hello again, my dear fellow bookworms! How are you all? Everyone had a good Christmas?
I thought I’d ease back into things by compiling a simple list of my top 5 fictional boyfriends. Well *laughs sheepishly* I say simple. I’ve gotta whittle down my entire harem of fictional men to a mere five.
Let’s leave the best until last and start with number five.
5. Loke (Taken by a Dragon by Felicity Heaton)
Sure, this gorgeous dragon shifter finds himself somewhat perplexed by mortal women but he is an absolute sweetheart. He’s caring, tender and protective…and not at all overbearing (and for once I’m not being sarcastic when I say that). Oh and he also lives in a cave with an awesome view. Truth be told, though, a would-be lover might not actually get to experience the joy of sitting at the cave mouth and watching the sun set beyond the mountains. Anais tries to do this at one point in the book and gets kidnapped. So, yeah…perhaps not. Still, Loke definitely deserves a place in my top five.
4. Lucian (Lucian Divine by Renee Carlino)
Despite being a guardian angel, Lucian is actually very down-to-earth. There’d be no feelings of inferiority while in the company of this celestial being. He’s mortal in so many ways and I feel that out of every guy on this list, Lucian is the most relatable. It wouldn’t all be flying through the skies and battling arch enemies. It would be mostly snuggling up on the sofa and watching movies. Sometimes that’s all I need.
3. Gideon (Lords of the Underworld series by Gena Showalter)
A strange choice perhaps since I haven’t actually read his book yet, but I feel life with Gideon would be a bundle of laughs. He’s keeper of Lies and as a result, everything he says is the exact opposite of what he means. I can just imagine him approaching a woman in a nightclub, completely and utterly captivated by her beauty, leaning in close, and whispering in a husky voice “You’re so ugly.” Perhaps I’m weird but I think the challenge of learning his reverse language would keep me sufficiently amused. But there’s so much more to this blue-haired bad-boy-but-not-really. In Sabin’s book, there are a few chapters describing events from Gideon’s perspective and so much is revealed. For one, he cares deeply for his friends and fellow Lords and this unwavering loyalty is something I can’t help but admire. Furthermore, despite not having Maddox’s death curse or Lucien’s unavoidable soul duties, Gideon has endured so much shit since Lies’ possession of him. It just makes me want to bundle him into my bed *cough* I mean, arms, and give him a good ol’ hug. Congratulations for making into my top five, Gideon. Bet you feel honored.
2. Ares (Ares by Felicity Heaton)
Ah Ares. The latest addition to my harem.He has a motorbike and he sits around eating pizza. Oh and he can teleport. Combined, these three things nearly make my perfect man.
1. Illium (Guildhunter series by Nalini Singh)
But the word ‘nearly’ is crucial because no man, fictional or not, compares to Illium, aka Bluebell. *cackles* Who did you think would be my number one? Illium is both a character in Nalini Singh’s Guildhunter series and a regular in my date night features (I sincerely hope that the latter isn’t copyright infringement). Illium is perfection. Never mind the fact that he’s breathtakingly beautiful, he’s also a powerful, well-respected warrior and a valued member of Raphael’s Seven. Additionally, he has a cracking personality. He’s playful, flirtatious and possesses a heartwarming sense of humor. However, it’s not all fun and games for Bluebell. He can turn on the scary without a moment’s thought or hesitation and it’s these traits that make him my number one. He’s the kindest, most selfless angel while among his loved ones, but he’s the fiercest of warriors when said loved ones are endangered. His loyalty is unquestioned and his abilities are endless. I need to stop here before I write a freaking sonnet about him *swoons*
Yesterday was supposed to be a day of meeting friends and exchanging gifts and cards. However, a phone call from my great grandmother’s carer soon had these plans cast out onto the wind and blown away to be seen nevermore.
She informed me that my grandma had had a nasty fall and had gotten one hell of a cut on her head. Usually, my grandparents deal with all things relating to her and her care, but seen as it was their anniversary, they were away on a mini vacation.
And my mother, the only other family member nearby with a car, was working.
So I quickly called my friend and he kindly ran me to the other side of town. To cut a long story short, I accompanied my grandma to the hospital in the ambulance and it was here that she received a number of stitches to her scalp and had numerous tests, such as ECGs and what not.
However, she has quite severe dementia and was getting extremely anxious and distressed because she couldn’t understand why we were there. When the hospital decided to discharge her, I explained I didn’t have a car and that she would require hospital transport. She has mobility issues and really, really struggles getting into cars anyway, so I was sincerely hoping the hospital staff would help me.
They informed me that she’d probably be waiting until 10pm, if not longer, for hospital transportation…and it was only 5pm by this time.
They then proceeded to dump both me and my frail 95 year old great grandmother in the A&E waiting room, which is a cold, drafty place for even the hardiest of souls, let alone a little old lady in a bloodied dress and bed socks and slippers. She was confused and frightened and was refusing to drink and was gradually becoming more and more anxious. My phone battery was low, no taxis were available to come fetch us and my mother hadn’t finished work so was unaware of our predicament. Panic set in and as my grandma is profoundly deaf, the whole waiting room could hear our repetitive conversation (“Why can’t you bring your car?” “I don’t have a car, Grandma.” “Why am I here?” “You bumped your head and needed to see the doctor. I promise I’m trying to get us home as quickly as possible.” x10). I felt so powerless and was trying to keep the tears from affecting my voice. But then something amazing happened…
Patients banded together to assist us. A kind lady told me she’d bring her car around and take us as her husband would be okay for a little while on his own and a man wheeled the wheelchair back inside once I’d gotten my grandma in the car (with a lot of difficulty).
I was almost crying with the overwhelming gratitude I felt. In a dire situation in which not even the hospital would help us, people with their own individual ailments chose to help us, expecting nothing in return. Thanks for the extreme kindness of a few complete strangers, I got my grandma home safely and was able to get her comfortable and relaxed again.
If I were to participate in WWW Wednesday this week, my list would be exactly the same as last week’s…I’ve been a very bad book blogger. Is everyone else this overwhelmed in the run up to Christmas? I’ve been dashing around wrapping presents, delivering said presents, working weird shifts and writing assignments for my TEFL course. Eugh. I just want a day to myself! I shouldn’t complain, though. I know many of you have families so I can only imagine how hectic it must be for you!
*literally jumping up and down in excitement* Okay, okay, I know I’ve been a shit matchmaker these past couple of weeks but…hey, don’t look at me like that! I’m not justI swoon over fictional, non-human men’s resident matchmaker. I also work in a hotel that’s currently embroiled in its most chaotic season of the year! So, yeah *sighs dramatically and flops down on your sofa* Cut me some slack! Anyway, before you rudely interrupted me, I was about to talk about tonight’s date…which *pauses for dramatic effect* is with an actual god. I’m trying to think here *frowns and taps chin thoughtfully, again for nothing more than dramatic effect* Have you ever dated a god? Guardians of the gods? Yup, can check that one off. A wannabe god? *shudders* Yeeeeeah, can definitely check that one off.
Nope! Ares is gonna be your first god date! *squeals and throws glitter in your face* Hey, heeeeeeey! Don’t shout at me! I was just trying to help! I wanted to make you look all ethereal and goddess-like and shit! Forget himations (ancient Greek equivalent of a toga) and laurel wreaths balanced on your head. Only glitter can bestow you with true goddess status *throws more glitter at you* Trust me, babe. I’m an expert.
So, before Ares arrives – oh lord, how is he gonna arrive? Is he gonna teleport? Is he going to rock up on his motorbike!? – let me tell you what to expect. Date nights with Ares (a freaking god) will probably/definitely include:
Being babysat by one of his brothers while he goes to open the gate to the Underworld. Not a great start to the date admittedly, but hey, most of his brothers are tame. Maybe you’ll get Calistos *swoons*
Ordering pizza upon his return and watching movies while you eat.
A spontaneous trip to Tuscany. The teleporting (or stepping as Ares and his brothers call it) will make you feel a bit queasy, though, so take it easy with the pizza! Nothing quite tarnishes your image like vomiting on a god. I mean, I assume anyway. Never actually dated one *shouts* Sorry, Illium!
Spontaneous trip to Tokyo for a meeting regarding the world’s impending destruction. It’ll be awkward being surrounded by so many hulking, brooding gods but hey, at least they make good eye candy.
Stepping back to Tuscany (actually, don’t eat any pizza)
Ares giving you motorbike lessons along Tuscany’s cute, winding country roads, past countless vineyards and beneath the warming glow of the setting sun.
A Hades-induced earthquake at some point *chuckles* Man, that god is so easily offended *screams as the ground shakes and begins to open up* I take it back, I take it back!
Yet another meeting with his brothers, this time in Ares’ apartment. I swear half of Ares’ actual book is just him and his brothers having meetings.
Possibly being attacked by a daemon.
Ending the night by finally eating your now-cold pizza and snuggling in bed with Ares.
Daemons and earthquakes aside, you’re gonna have a fabulous time! *blows you a kiss as we hear a motorbike purr to a stop outside* I won’t wait up for you *winks in the most unsubtle of ways*