Book, Music, and Movie Reviews originally published on Gothic Blend, reprinted here with permission

Book Review

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, book review

by Dee Marie

Warm Bodies Sticks To You Like Zombie Goo!


When it comes to devouring novels, I have a very eclectic palette. Even so, I was never a huge fan of the supernatural (aside from hobbits, fairies, and wizards). That is until I stumbled into the fairytale-world of novelist Martin Millar. His fetish for Buffy the Vampire Slayer spread through me like a virus. Once infected with stories of vampires and werewolves, I was hopelessly cursed with no cure in sight.


Yet, there was still a part of me that resisted the urge to delve into the dark waters of any media (books, television, movies) dealing with zombies. My prejudice dissolved after watching the movie, Warm Bodies. Instead of being repulsed, I found myself laughing one moment, moved to tears the next (not tears brought on by terror … but instead heart-tugging teardrops, the kind that seep out unexpectedly).


Movies that are based on novels, especially good movies, always pique my curiosity. Yet, exiting the theater left me with a yearning that I had not expected. On my drive home, I found myself missing the characters. Maybe it was just the journalist (or perhaps the romantic) in me; but I had to fill the plot holes; mend the unhealed zombie lesions the movie adaptation left gaping within my imagination.


Although I downloaded the book version of Warm Bodies that evening, life (as it often does) got in the way of my reading schedule. Soon the answers that I so urgently craved became a distant memory …only to be reignited last night, as I thumbed through my Kindle library. Turning the first page of Warm Bodies, I became hopelessly transported into author Isaac Marion's post-apocalyptic world. It wasn't until the first rays of daylight seeped through my bedroom curtains, that I realized I had spent a sleepless night nested in a hive of zombies.


If pressed to describe Warm Bodies, in a single word, it would have to be … thought-provoking! Yes, I know technically that's two words hyphenated … perhaps: brilliant or innovative would do? Thankfully this is not a Twitter book-review, because when an author tugs at my emotions, my reviews tend to be loquacious. Isaac Marion shredded my essence. His words shattered my heart with despair; gently gluing the pieces back together with a glimmer of hope.


At first glance, Warm Bodies is an expected tale of horror. Mindless zombies, driven by an insatiable hunger, seek the only food source that can sustain them: living humans. The author juxtaposes graphic details with the reader's imagination, as he describes the carnage of flesh being torn from screaming victims, brains suckled, and limbs ripped from the not yet dead. At the same time he skillfully implies, that it's not malice within a zombie's heart that drives them to feed … after all, zombies don't have hearts … at least not beating ones. They are simply doing what comes naturally, they eat to survive.


In the middle of the feasting frenzy, one zombie, whose name is simply R, suddenly resists the overpowering urge to devour the source that spawned his kind. Like a knee bone is connected to a thigh bone; R has a vision that is connected to a name. In turn, the name is connected to a female survivor. A spark of humanity is ignited within the zombie by a single word … Julie.


From that moment, Warm Bodies transformed from a typical horror story into an uncategorized genre. The novel teeters on the cusp of romance, interwoven with political intrigue, splattered with unanswerable spiritual queries. It is a study of utopia versus dystopia. It is a story that not only entertains, but dares readers to explore what motivates their political, environmental, and religious beliefs … to reflect upon both immortality, as well as modern morality.


Told from R's point-of-view, the anti-hero explores the three distinct levels of his universe: The Living (humans), The Fleshies (zombies), and the Boneys (beyond-zombies). In disturbingly parallel scenes, R explores the differences, as well as the similarities, between humans and zombies. In a non-preachy manner, Warm Bodies, cautions readers to question the direction our society is headed: warning of the ramifications of our current path, at the same time giving an optimistic outcome for a better tomorrow.


The author scatters the storyline about like a newly opened box of puzzle pieces; allowing readers to decide which society is truly uncivilized. At the same time, he prods readers to ponder what makes a civilized society civil; does a perfect formula exist that combines right-versus-might? Within the serious undertones of the subplots, dashes of humor are spattered about, with the cunning perfection of a novelist who knows his craft and understands his readers.


Like Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, Isaac Marion's provocative novel is destined to become a classic, not because of the monsters, but despite them … love, after all is the epicenter to both stories. Warm Bodies is not just a tale of young forbidden lovers; but a love-story of humanity; a love-story of life with hope for the future. Like the movie, the novel moved me to tears and laughter; it tugged at my heart and soul. Unlike the movie, the novel made me ponder and question the world I live in.


Long after you have read the last page; Warm Bodies, by Isaac Marion, is a novel that will stick to you like zombie goo … … which is surprisingly … A Good Thing!


[Be sure to check out Isaac Marion's Warm Bodies prequel: The New Hunger]


The novel: Warm Bodies is available in in tradition book, e-book, audiobook  formats.

Title: Warm Bodies

Author: Isaac Marion

Paperback: 256 pages

Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books; Reprint edition (November 1, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1439192324

ISBN-13: 978-1439192320



Dee Marie is a former magazine Editor-in-Chief and is currently a freelance journalist and novelist: She is the author of the Sons of Avalon saga.

Dee Marie can be contacted on Twitter @Dee_Marie_SOA  or Facebook

Music Review

A Midwinter Night's Dream music review

by Dee Marie

Music to Dream By


No one can weave magic into a song like Loreena McKennitt. Her newest gift to her fans, A Midwinter Night's Dream, was recorded in England, near Bath, and the Old English countryside can be heard through her lyrical musings.


A Midwinter Night's Dream is a blend of eight new songs (The Holly & The Ivy - Un Flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle [an instrumental] - The Seven Rejoices of Mary - Noel Nouvelet! [sung in Old French] - Breton Carol [an instrumental] - Gloucestershire Wassail, - Emmanuel [sung in Latin] - In the Bleak Midwinter), and a re-master of five beloved songs (Coventry Carol - God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen - Good King Wenceslas – Snow - Seeds of Love) from Loreena's 1995, Winter Garden album.


The opening song, The Holy and the Ivy, (the song dates back nearly a thousand years), sets the stage of the album's ability to blend Christian and pagan celebrations together in perfect unity. The song provides imagery of symbolic evergreens growing in the dead of winter, giving hope to a new year. As does Loreena's music.


The winter holiday season is often a time of dreariness and depression, as we angst over what gifts to give, often becoming over-occupied by the negative. It is also, for many, a time of isolation, as the snow and ice accumulates. A Midwinter Night's Dream, washes away the winter doldrums. Loreena's thoughtful music selections and her voice's mystical qualities reminds the listener to stop and reflect on the peace and joy within their own world.


I was especially joyful that one of my all time favorite's, Snow (which is also featured on To Drive The Cold Winter Away), was featured on the song list. I never tire of that song, from the opening cords, I am swept away to another realm.


Throughout the album, the intermixing of Old-world Celtic vocals blended with both Celtic and Middle Eastern arrangements made me suspect that time-travelers were involved in the  ancient classical songs' creations, as each song was composed as if were written specially for Loreena.


Among my favorite tracks: the afore mentioned Snow and Seeds of Love. Another of my favorites is Gloucestershire Wassail; the first notes always make me smile. It is wonderfully fun, and evokes visions of good friends, good ale, and good times!


Although A Midwinter Night's Dream, is a collection of Christmas songs, it is truly a celebration of the Winter Solstice. With a timeless quality that will make you want to listen to the CD all year round. A must have for anyone who loves music that enchants the imagination, and warms the heart and soul.


A Midwinter Night's Dream: song list


  1. The Holly & The Ivy
  2. Un Flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle
  3. The Seven Rejoices of Mary
  4. Noel Nouvelet!
  5. Good King Wenceslas - Loreena McKennitt, Neale, John Mason
  6. Coventry Carol
  7. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
  8. Snow - Loreena McKennitt, McKennitt, Loreena
  9. Breton Carol
  10. Seeds of Love
  11. Gloucestershire Wassail
  12. Emmanuel
  13. In the Bleak Midwinter - Loreena McKennitt, Holst, Gustav




Dee Marie is a former magazine Editor-in-Chief and is currently a freelance journalist and novelist:

She is the author of the Sons of Avalon saga.

Dee Marie can be contacted on Twitter @Dee_Marie_SOA  or Facebook

Movie Reviews

Twilight movie review

by Dee Marie

All That Matters Is Love


Each generation has fallen in love with vampire lore. Over the years, vampires have grown from frightening monsters, to erotic sex symbols. The most infamous: Bram Stoker's formidable Dracula…Anne Rice's sensual Lestat…and Joss Whedon’s brooding Angel. The twenty-first century has given birth to Stephenie Meyer’s heartthrob vampire, Edward Cullen.


Twilight the movie (based on the first book of the Twilight Saga novels), revolves around the tug-and-pull relationship between two star-crossed lovers . . . the super-cool vampire, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson); who has been seventeen for “a while” . . . and his lust-interest, the young, vulnerable human, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart); the girl with average good looks and a mouth-watering scent.


If you come to the theatre expecting to see blood, guts, gore, sex, and fangs, you will be highly disappointed. Although action-packed moments are scattered about, Twilight is not your average vampire blood-letting tale. It is instead, a love story between two tormented, lonely souls...a meeting of soul mates...and to the movie's credit it never lets you forget that love drives the plot line.


Considering that the 544 page novel was condensed to a mere two hours, the movie stayed relatively true to the book; even using many lines from Meyer's original dialog. In the novel, Bella often refers to Edward as an angel. In one of my favorite scenes, Edward and Bella encounter each other for the first time in the Chemistry Lab. Edward’s chair is situated in front of a Snow Owl, and throughout the scene, it appears as if Edward is sporting angel wings.


Though the script is steeped in teen-angst, I was pleasantly surprised at the abundance of humorous moments. The dry-wit of Bella’s father (Billy Burke) was dead-on funny…from the gun cleaning scene to the running joke about the pepper spray.


Alas, many of the “little moments,” that made the book so endearing to its fans, were excluded. Like the critical triangle between Edward, Bella and Jacob (which was played-down), as was the interaction between Bella and her human classmates. Overall, the book’s main plot points were there: the chemistry lab encounter, the truck accident, the baseball game, the sparkle, and the final vampire showdown.


I was also grateful that there was indeed a mutual sense of attraction between Pattinson and Stewart. Their portrayal of Edward and Bella stayed true to their characters’ passionate natures. Edward Cullen (one of the few vampires with a last name) remained a fangless, walk around on a cloudy day, never slumbering, impervious to death by sun, vampire...with control over his blood-lust for human plasma. And, the human lead, Bella Swan, remained the angst-ridden, awkward teenage girl that he craved.


The real movie blunder was the Cullen's house. With the studio already gearing up for the second movie in the saga, the director should have known that the house plays a major role in the future books. It propels the action. It was a beautiful house, but it was not the right house, nor, more importantly, it was not the correct setting.


In the end, Twilight the movie, is a love story, plain and simple. Does it have bloodsucking vampires? Is there murder and mayhem? Does it tell the tale of an immortal wishing to overpower the life of a sweet young mortal? Yes, yes, yes! Still, Twilight transcends the stereotype boy-bites-girl bloody vampire feast. After all, in the end, all that matters is love.


Oh, and if you overhear someone asking if they brought a might want to move to the next row


5 out of 5 stars


Rated PG-13 for some violence and a scene of sensuality

Running Time: 122 minutes

Distributor: Summit Entertainment

Directed By: Catherine Hardwicke

Screenplay By: Melissa Rosenberg (adapted from the novel by Stephenie Meyer)


Supporting Image © 2010 Summit Entertainment L.L.C.

All rights reserved


Dee Marie is a former magazine Editor-in-Chief and is currently a freelance journalist and novelist:

She is the author of the Sons of Avalon saga. Dee Marie can be contacted on Twitter @Dee_Marie_SOA  or Facebook

Water for Elephants movie review

by Dee Marie

Beast, Boy, Beauty and Pachyderm


Water for Elephants is not a Horror movie. It is, however a movie steeped in symbolism. Embroiled within the sadistic, surrealistic world of the Benzini Brothers Circus, the emotional and physical abuses that both humans and animals are forced to endure are horrific.


Without question, Hollywood tends to destroy the integrity of award-winning novels when converting them to film. So, when the news broke that one of my favorite books, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, was being adapted into a movie, I was both elated and apprehensive. Understandably, condensing the 350 page novel into a 122 minute film was a necessary evil. Due to time-constraints, pivotal storylines were excluded (the elderly Jacob’s backstory), and minor plot changes were made (morphing the characters of horse director and animal superintendent August, and circus owner/ringmaster Uncle Al, being the most significant).


Although this historical romance is set during the Great Depression; the movie begins with a shot of the main character, Jacob Jankowski (Hal Holbrook), in his twilight years; standing dazed and confused in the parking lot of a 21st century traveling circus. Charlie (Paul Schneider), the circus manager, takes pity on the old man. Offering him refuge in his office; Charlie soon discovers that, Jacob, in his youth, bore witness to one of the major catastrophes of circus history.


As the old man begins to weave his tale, the audience is transported to 1931. A cocksure, youthful Jacob (Robert Pattinson) is taking his final examine at the prestigious Cornwall University, in Ithaca, New York; within hours of earning his degree in veterinary medicine. Upon opening his examine book, the door opens to his classroom: immediately tragedy strikes.


Following a string of devastating circumstances, Jacob is left monetarily and emotionally a broken-man. With his hopes and dreams shattered, he abandons his once perfect life. In the dead of night, Jacob hops a moving train to an unknown destination. Within moments of setting off on his new adventure, he becomes embroiled within the sadistic, surrealistic world of the Benzini Brothers Circus. To pay off his debt for “riding the rails” of the circus boxcar, uninvited, Jacob is eventually hired as the Benzini Brothers Circus’ resident veterinarian … succumbing to the realization that his past will always be a part of his future.


During his short stint employed as the keeper of the menagerie’s health, Jacob’s world is turned upside-down. As he plunges deeper into the immorality of his new environment, Jacob does his best to cling to the values that his Polish immigrant parents instilled in him. Throughout the movie, Jacob’s inner-struggle between just-and-unjust causes his moral compass to constantly wobble from its true north.


Along his forced journey into manhood, Jacob becomes immersed in the pleasures and repulsions of circus life. His initial meeting with August (Christoph Waltz), the paranoid schizophrenic owner and ringmaster of the Benzini Brothers Circus, ends in Jacob’s first near death encounter. Yet, it is Jacob’s attraction to August’s beautiful wife, Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), and the scene stealing Rosie (Tai) the elephant, that seals the young man’s fate … trapping Jacob in a world that he detests for its cruelty, yet is bound to by unconditional love.


The lead actors in “Water for Elephants” do a remarkable job of breathing life into their characters. Rob Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, and Christoph Waltz’s love triangle was wrought with tension. Plus, the chemistry between Pattinson and Witherspoon brought an undeniable reality to the lovers’ forbidden desire for one another. However, it was the bond between man and pachyderm that stole the movie. Both Rob Pattinson, and his elephant co-star Tai, displayed a gentle, child-like wonder to each other. The scenes they shared overflowed with on-screen magic.


Water for Elephants is a novel written for adults; sexuality among consenting adults is a common theme throughout the book; as well as physical and mental abuse to both humans and animals. The movie plays down the sexual aspects of the book, and all explicit raunchy scenes were removed, replaced by sensuality and implied speculation.


Although the cruelty to humans and animals remain, most of it has been either watered-down, or hidden behind closed doors. In the novel, cruelty fueled and intensified the plot; in the movie it propels the love story. Several plot twists, and minor characters were also condensed, causing the movie version of Water for Elephants to, at times, feel rushed. However, it is evident that the changes to the novel’s plot, by screenwriter, Richard LaGravenese and director Francis Lawrence, were made with diligence and respect to the original material.


Besides the perfect casting, the movie was beautifully costumed and filmed. Similar to the research that author Sara Gruen incorporated into her novel; strict detail was given to recreating the gritty underworld of circus life during the depression era.


Water for Elephants, does not duplicate the novel. Yet, it stays true to the fundamental elements of the storyline. The costumes and cinematography are a feast to the eyes, and Oscar-worthy performances were given by Rob Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz, and yes, even Tai the elephant.


If you have read the novel Water for Elephants, you will love the movie. If you haven’t read the novel, I highly suggest that you view the movie and then read the book: both are indulgent worthy.


5 out of 5 stars


Rated PG-13 for moments of actual and implied violence, and mild sexual content

Running Time: 122 minutes

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Directed By: Francis Lawrence

Screenplay By: Richard LaGravenes (adapted from the novel by Sara Gruen)


Supporting Image © 2010 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

All rights reserved


Dee Marie is a former magazine Editor-in-Chief and is currently a freelance journalist and novelist:

She is the author of the Sons of Avalon saga. Dee Marie can be contacted on Twitter @Dee_Marie_SOA  or Facebook