Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore

Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Hardcover, 352 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore is a long-awaited follow-up to A Dirty Job, which I loved.  Readers should start with the first book before reading this one.

Charlie Asher, a death merchant, has taken on a new form, and his daughter is living with his sister even as his situation becomes more hopeless.  Minty Fresh reprises his role as comic relief, but there really is much more of that going around in this novel.  San Francisco is one again under threat from dark forces.  The Big Book of the Dead has sensed the change, and as things happen magically, the instructions in the book morph into dire warnings — most of which are ignored, at least until the banshee shows up.  Through a mix of characters from the previous book, Moore is at his best with these sarcastic, wise-cracking misfits who riff off one another like guitarists in a large band.  Their tune is haphazard but effective in this hunt for balance in the world of the dead.

“‘Sure, you could say talked. Ghosts mostly communicate by odor. Gotta tell you, you got a house that smells like farts, you got a haunted house.'” (pg. 75)

“With that, great clouds of fire burst out the twin tailpipes of the Buick and it lowered its stance like a crouching leopard before bolting out of the turnout.” (pg. 122)

Moore is a talented writer, who can write a funny quip and hilarious dialogue in one stroke and a gorgeous set of literary images in another. This duo of books combines the best of those talents, along with some great supernatural elements that are based not only on Egyptian mythology but also Buddhist teachings. This mash-up is unique and engaging, and his characters bring it to life easily. From Minty Fresh who wears all lime green clothes and owns a secondhand music store to Lemon who wears all yellow and has a calm demeanor that covers his dark motives, Moore’s characters will have readers laughing and questioning every turn of plot.

Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore is a wonderful follow-up that will have readers wondering about where their soul is headed, who will guide it where it needs to go, and whether they will one day find themselves with a super-ability they never wanted.  It’s another winner from this author.

About the Author:

Christopher Moore is an American writer of comic fantasy. He was born in Toledo, Ohio. He grew up in Mansfield, Ohio, and attended Ohio State University and Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California.








Mailbox Monday #338

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

1. Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore for review from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.  So EXCITED!

In San Francisco, the souls of the dead are mysteriously disappearing—and you know that can’t be good—in New York Times bestselling author Christopher Moore’s delightfully funny sequel to A Dirty Job.

Something really strange is happening in the City by the Bay. People are dying, but their souls are not being collected. Someone—or something—is stealing them and no one knows where they are going, or why, but it has something to do with that big orange bridge. Death Merchant Charlie Asher is just as flummoxed as everyone else. He’s trapped in the body of a fourteen-inch-tall “meat” waiting for his Buddhist nun girlfriend, Audrey, to find him a suitable new body to play host.

To get to the bottom of this abomination, a motley crew of heroes will band together: the seven-foot-tall death merchant Minty Fresh; retired policeman turned bookseller Alphonse Rivera; the Emperor of San Francisco and his dogs, Bummer and Lazarus; and Lily, the former Goth girl. Now if only they can get little Sophie to stop babbling about the coming battle for the very soul of humankind.

2. The Lost Journals of Sylvia Plath by Kimberly Knutsen for review from MBM Book Publicity.

Set in the frozen wasteland of Midwestern academia, The Lost Journals of Sylvia Plath introduces Wilson A. Lavender, father of three, instructor of women’s studies, and self-proclaimed genius who is beginning to think he knows nothing about women. He spends much of his time in his office not working on his dissertation, a creative piece titled “The Lost Journals of Sylvia Plath.” A sober alcoholic, he also spends much of his time not drinking, until he hooks up with his office mate, Alice Cherry, an undercover stripper who introduces him to “the buffer”—the chemical solution to his woes.

Wilson’s wife, Katie, is an anxious hippie, genuine earth mother, and recent PhD with no plans other than to read People magazine, eat chocolate, and seduce her young neighbor—a community college student who has built a bar in his garage. Intelligent and funny, Katie is haunted by a violent childhood. Her husband’s “tortured genius” both exhausts and amuses her.

The Lavenders’ stagnant world is roiled when Katie’s pregnant sister, January, moves in. Obsessed with her lost love, ’80s rocker Stevie Flame, January is on a quest to reconnect with her glittery, big-haired past. A free spirit to the point of using other people’s toothbrushes without asking, she drives Wilson crazy.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #171

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is Cindy’s Love of Books.

Kristi of The Story Siren continues to sponsor her In My Mailbox meme.

Both of these memes allow bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received this week:

1.  Archie’s War by Marcia Williams, which I bought.

2. The Aleppo Codex by Matti Friedman, which I received from Algonquin and will be finding a new home for.

3. A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash, which I received unexpectedly from William Morrow.

4. Sacre Blue by Christopher Moore from William Morrow. I cannot tell you how excited I am to read this one!

5. Listening to Africa by Diana M. Raab from the poet.

6. Oklahoma City by Andrew Gumbel & Roger G. Charles from William Morrow unexpectedly.

7. Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick from Novel Places for Book Club.

8. Ashes by Ilsa Bick from Novel Places for Book Club.

9. The Day the World Ends by Ethan Coen from the publisher for review in April.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #161

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is the At Home With Books.

Kristi of The Story Siren continues to sponsor her In My Mailbox meme.

Both of these memes allow bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received this week:

1.  The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy, which I received for my TLC Tour stop in March.

2.  Vampire Knits by Genevieve Miller, which came unsolicited from Random House.

These I won from BookHounds and some of these will find homes with my mother (who just loves mystery novels) and some other friends:

3. Fadeaway Girl by Martha Grimes

4. Day by Day Armageddon Beyond Exile by J.L. Bourne

5. The Rock Hole by Reavis Wortham

6. Bet Your Bones by Jeanne Matthews

7. Swift Justice by Laura DiSilverio

8. Electric Barracuda by Tim Dorsey

9. Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward

10. Dracula in Love by Karen Essex

11. Knit Two by Kate Jacobs

BACK to the review copies and the book buys from the weekend:

12. The Unauthorized Biography of Michele Bachman by Ken Brosky

13. The Three Colonels by Jack Caldwell for review from Sourcebooks

14. Mr. Darcy Forever by Victoria Connelly for review from Sourcebooks

15. Catalina by Laurie Soriano for consideration in the Indie Lit Awards Poetry category

16. If I Die in a Combat Zone by Tim O’Brien, which I bought at the book club meeting at Novel Places for $1.50 to complete by collection of O’Brien books.

17. The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore, which I also bought at the book club meeting at Novel Places for $1.99 because I loved this book when I first read it and want my own copy.

18. Definitely Not Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos, which I also bought at the book club meeting, since Anna told me it was hilarious.

What did you receive this week?

Fool by Christopher Moore (audio)

Christopher Moore‘s Fool is loosely based upon William Shakespeare’s King Lear.  If you haven’t read King Lear, what are you waiting for?  Talk about a tragedy of one’s own making.  The source material centers on a king who splits up his kingdom between his daughters based upon their professions of love for him, but of course, one daughter deigns to tell the truth rather than gush and engage in hyperbole.

“‘I’ve never even seen them,’ Taster said.

‘Oh, quite right.  What about you, Drool? Drool? Stop that!’

Drool pulled the damp kitten out of his mouth.  ‘But it were licking me first.  You said it was only proper manners–‘” (page 40)

In Moore’s version, King Lear’s fool of many years — an appropriately named Black Fool — Pocket plays a significant role in the downfall of a king and a kingdom.  Pocket has a hidden past of his own that involves an abbey, an ankress, witches, and more.  He’s sarcastic, runs rampant with his verbal barbs at the royal family, but he’s got a darker streak that trends toward manipulation behind the jokes.  Pocket is great at planting the seeds in the players’ minds from the Bastard Edmund to Lear’s daughters Regan and Goneril.  In a way, Pocket is a comic relief fool, but he does have a sidekick who is — Drool.

“‘I shagged a ghost,’ said Drool to the young squires.  They pretended they couldn’t hear him.

Kent shuffled forward, held back some by the alabaster grandeur of my nakedness.  ‘Edmund was found with a dagger through his ear, pinned to a high-backed chair.’

‘Bloody careless eater he is, then.'”  (page 168)

Some of the best parts of the book are the jibes at the main royals, but also the references to other works by Shakespeare.  Moore definitely knows his literature, and is a master at rearranging syntax to create new images and environments within the Shakespearean middle ages  He stretches the edges of that world and tosses it out into the moat.  Readers who need a laugh out loud book to chase away the blues, are looking for clever prose and outlandish characters, and seeking a literary jaunt should pick up Fool.

“‘So, it sounds as if you’re thinking of conquering more than just the petting zoo?’

‘Europe,’ said the princess, as if stating the unadorned truth.

‘Europe?’ said I.

‘To start,’ said Cordelia.

‘Well, then you had better get moving, hadn’t you?’

‘Yes, I suppose,’ said Cordelia, with a great silly grin.  ‘Dear Pocket, would you help me pick an outfit?'” (page 255)

However, the ending of the novel could leave readers feeling flat or unsatisfied.  Overall, Fool by Christopher Moore is a “bawdy tale.” Moore has a number of fun books, and readers who enjoy humor, particularly dark or raunchy humor with a bit of whimsy, will love his books.  Moore is always a riot.

My husband enjoyed the audio version on our daily commute, laughing and giggling into work, but was seriously disappointed with the ending.  In his words, “The sexual jokes were funny and the ending sucked.”

Check out this great video:

FTC Disclosure:  I listened to the Fool by Christopher Moore on audio CD, which I borrowed from the library, and read portions of the book from another library copy.

Bite Me: A Love Story by Christopher Moore

Christopher Moore‘s Bite Me: A Love Story continues to the trials of the Countess Jody, Lord Flood, and their minion Abby Normal.  It is the third book in the series set in San Francisco and focuses mainly on Goth teenager Abby Normal, her boy-toy and ultra-nerd Foo Dog (aka Steve), and her gay BFF Jared as they battle a city of vampyre cats . . . and rats.  The Emperor of San Francisco and Detectives Cavuto and Rivera return along with the Animals, Flood’s former colleagues of the Safeway stocking crew.

“I am Nosferatu, bee-yotch.”  (page 176)

“It just goes to show you, like Lord Byron says in the poem:  ‘Given enough weed and explosives, even a creature of most sophisticated and ancient dark power can be undone by a few stoners.’

I’m paraphrasing.  It may have been Shelley.”  (page 6-7)

Moore’s writing is crass and humorous and will have readers laughing out loud about how thick Abby is and yet so smart about the magical.  He has a way with language and creating and adopting slang for his characters, like booticuity, ownage, Mombot, va-jay-jay, and Skankenstein boots.   The vampyres are equally good and bad in this novel, but Abby and her friends are all that stand between San Francisco and total annihilation.  From katanas to LED sunlight jackets and UV lamps to flame throwers and Grandma’s special tea, these kids have tricked out rides and kung-fu skills like no one else.

“The outside city people live on, like, a different plane of existence, like they don’t even see the inside people either.  But when you’re a vampyre, the two cities are all lit up.  You can hear the people talking and eating and watching TV in their houses, and you can see and feel the people in the streets, behind the garbage cans, under the stairs.  All these auras show, sometimes right through walls.  Like life, glowing.” (page 226)

Even more enjoyable is how Moore intertwines other story lines from his previous books, particularly Dirty Job.  It is fun for readers to see how characters from other novels pop in and add spice to the vampyre mayhem.  Moore is a very talented writer with a gift for making readers laugh.  Those who love vampire novels should read the entire series — Bloodsucking Fiends and You SuckBite Me is another laugh-out-loud novel from Moore for those of us who need to step into another world, destress, and laugh intelligently.

This is my 1st book for the 2010 Vampire Series Challenge.


Don’t forget to vote for your favorite National Poetry Month Blog Tour post.

FTC Disclosure:  I got my copy of the book from the local library!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies! by Michael P. Spradlin, Illus. Jeff Weigel

The holidays are a time for merriment and getting together with family and friends to celebrate and share.  Part of the holidays has always included caroling, at least for some people.  My husband and I love to sing, though we don’t sing well, but we like to make up lyrics from time to time.   It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies! by Michael P. Spradlin and illustrated by Jeff Weigel is the perfect collection of remastered Christmas Carols to liven up the holidays.  There’s even an introduction by the witty and dark humored Christopher Moore.

First, can you tell what classic novel this line’s beginning resembles?

“It is universally acknowledged that there are very few literarypursuits which cannot be improved with the addition of zombies, which are to the written word as cheesy goldfish crackers are to life in general; those little cheesy goldfish crackers also improve nearly everything.”  (Page VII)

Christopher Moore certainly has a unique perspective on literature and how it can be improved, but in the case of the zombie Christmas carol book, he may be correct.  Spradlin’s lines are well placed and maintain the rhythm of the original carols.  Family members young and old will love to sing to these revised songs —  from It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, I mean, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies to Deck the Halls With Boughs of Holly, oops I mean, Deck the Halls With Parts of Wally.

Zombie, the Snowman (Page 39)

Zombie the Snowman was a jolly, happy ghoul,
With a corncob pipe and some boy’s nose
And two eyes he got at school.

Zombie the Snowman is a fairy tale, they say;
He was undead, it’s so,
But the children know how he came back to life one day.

There must have been a virus in
That old silk hat they found,
For when they placed it on his head,
He began to dance around.

Oh, Zombie the Snowman was alive as he could be,
And the children say he ate brains all day,
And they ran from that Zombie.

Thumpety, thump thump,
Thumpety, thump thump,
Look at Zombie go.
Thumpety, thump thump,
Thumpety, thump thump, 
Over the hills of snow.

Zombie the Snowman knew the brains were fresh that day,
So he said, “Please run, because it’s lots more fun when I eat your brain that way.”
Down through the village with a femur in his hand,
Running here and there all around the square,
Sayin’, “Decapitate me if you can!” 

He chased them through the streets of town 
And at a traffic cop,
And he barely paused a moment when he heard the cop’s brain pop!

Zombie the Snowman
Had to hurry on his way,
But he waved good-bye, sayin’, “Please do cry,
I’ll eat your brains someday!” 

At a short 81 pages, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies! is a fun read and will have you giggling and guffawing and singing.  Chock full of gruesome and surreal drawings of zombies in Santa Claus suits and other holiday outfits are eye-catching, and add additional verve to the carols.  This humorous Christmas carol book would make a great stocking stuffer and an after-holiday gift.  Heck, it would just be a fun gift for birthdays, anniversaries, and any other occasion.

FTC Disclosure:  My husband purchased this copy for me.  Clicking on title or image links will bring you to my Amazon Affiliate page; No purchase necessary.

Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore

Christopher Moore’s The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror is another audiobook to entertain, even at 5 A.M. on the commute into the city. My husband and I have gotten into a habit of listening to audiobooks in the car when we travel to and from work, and when we take little road trips.

Christopher Moore’s books seem to be the most addictive for us even with the sometimes dark humor and harsh content. The Stupidest Angel is no exception.

The book is set in Pine Cove, Calif., where the Archangel Raziel is set upon Earth to grant a Christmas wish to one child. That child is Josh Barker. Unfortunately, Josh has no idea what is in store when he asks the angel to bring Santa Claus back to life.

With characters like a Warrior babe named Molly, a pot-smoking constable–her husband, a DEA helicopter pilot, and a evil developer, among others, there was nothing to do but sit back and laugh at the follies, misunderstandings, and interactions between these characters. Of course, there had to be a speaking, sunglasses wearing, fruit bat named Roberto! These characters stumble around in their relationships with one another, insulting their spouses and their friends, only to make up in the end, but the ride is raucous.

It gets even crazier in Pine Cover when Molly goes off her medications and starts hearing the narrator in her head, giving her direction. She wonders off into the woods naked and carrying a Japanese sword where she meets Raziel who only wants to eat the marshmallows out of the cocoa packets. Meanwhile, zombies are raging war against the townspeople at the Lonesome Christmas celebration in the local church. The resolution to this story is truly in the Christmas spirit, but the ride to its conclusion is hilarious and action-packed.

Also Reviewed By:
Firefly’s Book Blog
Books I Done Read

It is a Dirty Job!

Christopher Moore’s Dirty Job is set in San Francisco, Calif., much like the vampire novels I have reviewed here and here. This book starts off with Charlie Asher and his wife Rachel, and they are about to have a baby. In one fateful moment, Charlie’s world is turned upside down and inside out. His wife dies and he is left to be a single parent to his daughter, Sophie. This doesn’t tell you anything the reader won’t find out in the first few pages of the book.

***Spoiler Alert***

Charlie looks up to find a 7-foot tall black man standing over his dying wife and he’s wearing a sea green leisure suit. Minty Fresh is a death merchant, and that is exactly what Charlie has become by seeing him. His wife dies, leaving him to parent his daughter alone. Charlie wakes up and finds notes on his bedside with people’s names on them. These are the souls he must collect within the allotted time frame. Their souls get caught in material objects that only he and the other death merchants can see glowing red. Missing those soul vessels can spell dire trouble for the residents of San Francisco. The trouble that emerges shortly after a series of missteps by Charlie and others in the book. And only the luminatus can save them and the city.

***End Spoiler Alert***

My husband and I listened to this audiobook on our commutes to and from work. It was a riot to listen to, and I had a great time roaring with laughter at 5 A.M. People driving alongside us on the highway must have thought we were crazy.

I just love Moore’s dark humor and his witty descriptions of his characters, their actions, the city, and the dark beings that live beneath the city. The Morrigan, the dark beings, play off of one another’s weaknesses and bumble around the city trying to steal souls and bring darkness to the city.

Moore’s imaginative language, plush with imagery, takes a witty look at death, life, from his 14-inch high squirrel people to the goth-girl turned chef to the Asian bride perusing ex-cop who works in Charlie’s Second Hand store.

One scene in particular will make you stand up and say I better get the most out of this life. I must enjoy that wedge of cheese, every little lick, nibble, and swallow. The plot and language had us running through the audiobook and refusing to get out of the car when it came time to get into the office. While the plot was a little predictable, I enjoyed every minute of this book.

Also Reviewed by:
Books & Other Thoughts
No More Grumpy Bookseller

Bloodsucking Fiends

Christopher Moore’s Bloodsucking Fiends is the first book in the vampire series with C. Thomas Flood and Jody. It’s too bad that I read You Suck first. However, even though I knew what happened at the end of this book, it was still a great read.

***Spoiler Alert***

C. Thomas Flood arrives in San Francisco from Indiana with stars in his eyes about his future as a writer in the city after living in small town, unionized Indiana. He arrives and stumbles upon an apartment for $50 weekly and he shares his room with 5 Wongs. The funniest part of this living situation is that the Wongs are illegals seeking a way to become legal citizens of the United States. They leave bouquets on his bed unbeknowst to Tommy.

After running into the Emperor of San Francisco and his men (a golden retriever and a terrier), he gets a job at the Marina Safeway, which will help him keep a roof over his head while he writes. He makes fast friends with the night crew, one of which translates what the Wongs, his roommates, are after. Tommy discovers they have asked for his hand in marriage and have attempted to court him with flowers.

Moving along in the story line, Jody is accosted outside of her work one evening and she black out, only to awaken as a vampire. She makes her way home to Kurt, her live-in boyfriend, who has little sympathy for her plight. She eventually bashes him on the head, drinks his blood, and books it to a motel.

***End Spoiler Alert***

These are just some of the uncanny events that occur in this book from ghastly murders to robbery to explosions and cops chasing the Marina Safeway gang. This book is chock full of fun and adventure as well as humor. Between this book, You Suck, and Dirty Job (which the husband and I are listening to on CD) Christopher Moore’s books are wrought with unique humor that will have every reader doubled over in the stomach pain of laughter.

Bronzed Vampires, You Suck

Christopher Moore’s You Suck audio book is another find at the library that I should have taken out in book form. This book had us roaring with laughter in the car on the way to work over the weeks we listened to it.

***Spoiler Alert***

This is a vampiric tale of one young fledgling, Jody, turning her Midwest boyfriend, Tommy Flood, into a vampire so they can be together forever. Jody, who was turned by an older vampire, Elijah, teams up with Tommy and his co-workers at the San Francisco Marina Safeway to bronze the older vampire who has gone on a killing spree among the sick and infirm. Jody hopes to get away from the elder vampire and take Tommy into her dark world.

Along the way, Tommy starts getting used to his vampiric ways, but eventually “enjoys” some aspects of his nature too much for his Midwestern sensibilities. Tommy adopts the name Lord Flood with his minion, Abby Normal–o yes, you guessed it an old fashioned play on words. She is nothing short of normal by today’s standards with her Gothic clothes, her sarcasm, attempts to fit in with the rebels, and her love of the undead…but she also has a perky side and you eventually discover her favorite literary character is not from Lovecraft, but it is Pipi Longstocking, a perkier side of Abby.

Even Abby falls in love, and its not with a vampire or her gay friend, Jared.

***End Spoiler Alert***

Not only is their vampire hunting, love, sex, drugs, and stealing, but there is sarcastic humor, self-deprecating humor, and twists of fate in this book that are great. The narrator chosen to read this novel was well selected. Her character voices were believable.

What made the vampire book for me, beyond the vampires of course, was the narration, hilarious lines, and the character of Abby Normal. I would love to see an entire novel of her adventures from Moore; that would make great reading. I recommend this book, You Suck, in any form you choose. I’m going to have to go out and get the hard copy to add to my collection since I foresee myself reading it for the first time, only to re-read it again and again.