2017 Reading List: First Contact

firstcontact_w10063_med
8. First Contact, by Kat Green (2016, The Wild Rose Press)

I’ve wanted to read this for a long time! I think this is the first book I’ve read this year that wasn’t A.) research for my own upcoming book or B.) a pick of the Apocalypse Blog Book Club, which does tie-in to point A.  I first became aware of First Contact because Kat Green (an alias of authors Kat De Falla and Rachel Green) were guests at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference. I found the hook interesting– a paranormal real estate agent. Love it! I finally got a copy at the Madison Author Daze event last weekend, which was expertly organized by the previously mentioned Mrs. De Falla and her husband Lee. Fun event, met some interesting people and sat at my table eating delicious sandwiches, drinking coffee. Really nice day.

Anyway, the book. I loved it, a quick read at 170 pages, full of supernatural spookiness, suspense, creepy characters, and a scene with some steamy hot ethereal sex. That’s what I like to read about! There is a strong paranormal tie-in as main character Sloane Osborne uses paranormal investigation equipment to try to capture evidence, but don’t worry, if you don’t know what a K2 meter is, they explain it pretty well.

The book takes place in good old Waukesha, which is a good setting for a horror story these days. The book made me very thirsty (you’ll understand if you read it) and Sloane kicks ass!

The book has a website here: www.hauntsforsale.com

Recommended? Yes, and I can’t wait to read the next adventure starring Sloane Osborne.

2017 Reading List:The Handmaid’s Tale

handmaidstale

7. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood (c.1986, Anchor Books edition, 1998)

This was the March selection for the Apocalypse Blog Book Club. It was my first time reading something by Margaret Atwood and I found her prose to be quite gripping.

As the book unfolded for us over March, The Handmaid’s Tale made the news several times during the lead-in to a development of the book into a Hulu series, which premieres on the 26th of this month. Our book club notifications lit up as members posted some of these related stories. I’m pleased to say we are now doing monthly book reports for a site called Pop Mythology and club member and author Ryder Collins wrote our first one on The Handmaid’s Tale, and linked to several related stories. You can read it here: www.popmythology.com/apocalypse-blog-book-club-march-handmaids-tale

Recommended? YES. MANDATORY.

Apocalypse Blog Book Club, Book 3: The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick

The Apocalypse Blog Book Club voted to read The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick as our April selection. The book, written in 1962, has had a renewed interest from an Amazon show series based on the book.

More on the book from Wikipedia:

The Man in the High Castle (1962) is an alternative history novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. Set in 1962, fifteen years after an alternative ending to World War II, the novel concerns intrigues between the victorious Axis Powers—primarily, Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany—as they rule over the former United States, as well as daily life under the resulting totalitarian rule. The Man in the High Castle won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1963. The book would later receive a 2015 TV adaptation also under the name, The Man in the High Castle.

Reported inspirations include Ward Moore’s alternative Civil War history, Bring the Jubilee (1953), various classic World War II histories, and the I Ching (referred to in the novel). The novel features a “novel within the novel” comprising an alternate history within this alternate history wherein the Allies defeat the Axis (though in a manner distinct from the actual historical outcome).

The Man in the High Castle is widely available online, at bookstores, and in library systems. We will have an in-person meeting to discuss the book the last day of the month, Sunday, April 30, 4pm at the Riverwest Public House. Takeaways from the meetings and online discussion will follow on our Facebook group page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1482975718409410/

We also have a Goodreads page here: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/213307-apocalypse-blog-book-club

There is no fee to be part of the Apocalypse Blog Book Club, just a desire to read a dystopian themed book every month and discuss the story and parallels we see to our current world.

2017 Reading List: Live and Let Live

live

6. Live and Let Live: Diversity, Conflict, and Community in an Integrated Neighborhood, by Evelyn M. Perry (2017, The University of North Carolina Press)

I took a break to read my first title this year that wasn’t related to The End of the World as We Know It in fiction or non-fiction form, and what a treat it was. Live and Let Live is a sociological examination of the neighborhood I’ve lived in, Riverwest…oh, for about 17 years now. Author Evelyn M. Perry moved to Riverwest for three years to work on her study, in a style known as ethnography, or as I describe it, “hey, can I hang out with you guys for a couple years?” As she rolls through the chapters, she investigates the neighborhood– warts and all– and if you live in the neighborhood (or one similar) you’ll see a lot of issues examined that are common discussion here: gentrification, diversity, violent crime, public intoxication, “live and let live.” Perry has pulled a lot of great quotes on the neighborhood from a variety of local characters (disclosure: part of a jokey thing I wrote about Riverwest drinking culture is the epigraph for Chapter 6).

I have a Q & A set with Perry for the April issue of the Riverwest Currents and she makes an in-store appearance Friday, March 31, 7pm at Woodland Pattern Book Center here in Riverwest.

Recommended? Definitely. If you live in the neighborhood, you’ll learn a new perspective. And if you want to read a well written sociological examine of a diverse neighborhood, this is it.

 

Apocalypse Blog Book Club, Book 2: The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

The Apocalypse Blog Book Club voted to read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood as our March selection. The book, written in 1985, is timely for a number of reasons and there is some excitement of the book being adapted into a show for Hulu, which premieres in April.

handmaidstale

More on the book from Wikipedia:

The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) is a work of speculative fiction by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. Set in a near-future New England, in a totalitarian theocracy which has overthrown the United States government, the dystopian novel explores themes of women in subjugation and the various means by which they gain agency. The novel’s title echoes the component parts of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, which comprises a series of connected stories (“The Merchant’s Tale”, “The Parson’s Tale”, etc.).

The Handmaid’s Tale won the 1985 Governor General’s Award and the first Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1987; it was also nominated for the 1986 Nebula Award, the 1986 Booker Prize, and the 1987 Prometheus Award. It has been adapted for the cinema, radio, opera, and stage. The Handmaid’s Tale has never gone out of print since its first publication in 1985.

In addition to next month’s Hulu show, the book was previously adapted into a 1990 movie.

The Handmaid’s Tale is widely available online, at bookstores, and in library systems. We will have an in-person meeting to discuss the book the last day of the month, Friday, March 31, 7pm at the Riverwest Public House. There have been requests to switch up meeting location, and we can entertain those requests in the future. Takeaways from the meetings and online discussion will follow April 1 on our Facebook group page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1482975718409410/

We also have a Goodreads page here: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/213307-apocalypse-blog-book-club

There is no fee to be part of the Apocalypse Blog Book Club, just a desire to read a dystopian themed book every month and discuss the story and parallels we see to our current world.

 

2017 Reading List: Climate Wars

climatewars

5. Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats, by Gwynne Dyer (Oneworld Publications, 2010)

This is the second book I’ve read over the last month (the other one was Six Degrees, by Mark Lynas) about climate change, and let me tell you, the current environment has accentuated the terrifying visions depicted in these books. I would say it’s been similar to reading a horror novel in an abandoned slaughterhouse.

While I’m reading these apocalyptic visions of how badly planet Earth will be screwed, even if the average global temperature increases just a couple degrees, I’m seeing photos in my Facebook feed of friends sunbathing on the beach in Wisconsin…in February. Climate change is an issue that needs to be addressed by our government like yesterday, but the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, is a climate change denier and a straight up fossil fuel flunky. His goal is to “dismantle” the EPA. From the New York Times:

“Both opponents and supporters of Mr. Pruitt’s say he is well positioned to carry out Mr. Trump’s campaign trail promises to dismantle the agency and slash its ranks of employees. Mr. Trump vowed to ‘get rid’ of the agency ‘in almost every form.’”

Climate Wars was a good companion to Six Degrees. The book has two components: a variety of fiction future scenarios author Gwynne Dyer has created, and chapters analyzing research that might back those scenarios up. It is a story of nations going to war over water and habitable land. There will be drought, famine, and flooding, which will lead to a large amount of “climate refugees.” If you think people are in a frenzy over building walls now, just wait until hundreds of millions of desperate people are heading north to escape unbearable climate change. And in the end, climate change could cause the oceans to die completely and the atmosphere will be filled with hydrogen sulfide. Hey, TGIF, everyone! Be sure to wear a Hawaiian print shirt today!

I really liked the book’s future scenarios, but the info chapters really didn’t grab my attention span. I found myself skimming and skipping over large parts of these chapters because the technical language was over my head. But if you want a look at what the upcoming Water Wars are going to look like, this is an interesting read.

Recommended? Like I said, I enjoyed the scenario chapters, but not the dry research ones.


The Apocalypse Blog explores the topics of Tea Krulos’s third non-fiction book, which is about doomsday predictions, prepping, and pop culture. It’ll be published in 2018 (if the world survives that long). His first two books, Heroes in the Night (2013) and Monster Hunters (2015) are available from Chicago Review Press here: http://www.chicagoreviewpress.com/krulos–tea-contributor-296670.php

2017 Reading List: Parable of the Sower

cover-of-parable-of-the-sower
4. Parable of the Sower, by Octavia E. Butler (Warner Books, 1993)

I finished the first selection of the Apocalypse Blog Book Club (more info how to join HERE) and I have to say, wow, what a fantastic book, so glad I read it and have been able to have this shared experience with other people in the club.

I’m going to write more on my thoughts after we have in-person/ online discussion of the book at the end of the month. For now I just want to share some parallels to my non-fiction book I’m working on.

-Climate change! This book was written in 1993 and mentions the detrimental effects of climate change. I know climate change research has existed for decades, but was a little surprised to see references from 1993.

-Prepper culture! Preppers refer to a backpack ready to roll in case of emergency as a “bug-out bag” and a safe haven as a “bug-out location.” They study a wide range of survival disciplines including survival while on the move, the benefits of having a small community of people surviving together in a secure, isolated location. All of this was depicted in the novel.

-Civil unrest! A common theme in prepper theory and dystopian literature. Here we have marauding gangs of people who shave their heads, paint their faces, do a drug called pyro that gives them a sense of ecstasy from committing arson. Preppers want to be the group living safely in a fortified community to escape the burning world of savages surrounding them.

I definitely am interested in reading the novel’s sequel in the future, but first I have to catch up on some other reading and get a copy of the club’s March selection, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Recommended? HELL YES.


The Apocalypse Blog explores the topics of Tea Krulos’s third non-fiction book, which is about doomsday predictions, prepping, and pop culture. It’ll be published in 2018 (if the world survives that long). His first two books, Heroes in the Night (2013) and Monster Hunters (2015) are available from Chicago Review Press here: http://www.chicagoreviewpress.com/krulos–tea-contributor-296670.php

Zombie Squad: Milwaukee

zsid
While working on my book, one group I encountered and became intrigued by is Zombie Squad. It’s a national organization that meets up to discuss surviving a zombie apocalypse, with zombies being a useful metaphor for disaster preparation in general. The local chapter had a table at my Milwaukee Paranormal Conference (in 2015) and I went to a meeting they had last month. I’m going to try to make all their meetings and check out the annual ZombieCon in June, which takes place in Missouri.

To tie in with their meeting this Friday, I wrote a short bit on the group for Milwaukee Record, which you can read here: http://milwaukeerecord.com/city-life/we-make-dead-things-deader-gearing-up-with-zombie-squad-milwaukee/


The Apocalypse Blog explores the topics of Tea Krulos’s third non-fiction book, which is about doomsday predictions, prepping, and pop culture. It’ll be published in 2018 (if the world survives that long). His first two books, Heroes in the Night (2013) and Monster Hunters (2015) are available from Chicago Review Press here: http://www.chicagoreviewpress.com/krulos–tea-contributor-296670.php

Apocalypse Blog Book Club, Book 1: Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler

I’m happy to announce the first selection of the Apocalypse Blog Dystopian Book Club: Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

cover-of-parable-of-the-sower

Here is a plot description of Butler’s 1993 novel from Wikipedia:

“Set in a future where government has all but collapsed, Parable of the Sower centers on a young woman named Lauren Olamina who possesses what Butler dubbed hyperempathy – the ability to feel the perceived pain and other sensations of others – who develops a benign philosophical and religious system during her childhood in the remnants of a gated community in Los Angeles. Civil society has reverted to relative anarchy due to resource scarcity and poverty. When the community’s security is compromised, her home is destroyed and her family murdered. She travels north with some survivors to try to start a community where her religion, called Earthseed, can grow.”

The book was nominated by club member (and author) Ryder Collins and is widely available online, at bookstores, and in library systems. We will have an in-person meeting to discuss the book the last day of the month, Tuesday, Feb.28, 7pm at the Riverwest Public House (Facebook event page HERE). Takeaways from the meetings and online discussion will follow March 1 on our Facebook group page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1482975718409410/

There is no fee to be part of the club, just a desire to read a dystopian themed book every month and discuss the story and parallels we see to our current world. February is a short month, so put “get copy of Parable of the Sower” on your to-do list!

The Apocalypse Blog Dystopian Book Club

ravaged_city_by_sundragon83-d41lk2q
I’m so excited about this. I’ve wanted to start some kind of book club for a long time, but didn’t have a particular inspiration until today.

I’m working on a non-fiction book that has to do with end of the world predictions, pop culture, prepping, etc. I’ve been reading a range of non-fiction titles related to these topics, but I want to read dystopian themed novels. When I was researching my book Heroes in the Night, about the  Real Life Superheroes subculture, I read tons of comic books. I found it helpful to read a range of superhero comics just to help me wrap my head around the lingo, style, tropes, etc of the genre so I could be generally well informed. Same thing with dystopian novels, I’m curious to see what parallels between fact and fiction I might discover. As I thought about, I decided it would be a rewarding experience to discuss the books with others.

Fortunately, I have awesome friends who have already suggested a lot of appropriate titles. I set up a FB group where I will be listing suggested titles people can vote on to read first.

Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1482975718409410/

List will be posted this evening, voting will be open a couple days and then I’ll announce title and meet up day. We’ll do one title per month. If you are in the Milwaukee area, we will have a monthly meet up to talk on the title. If you’re elsewhere in the world, you can join our online discussion of the book at the above-mentioned FB group.