…yesterday my life’s like, “Uh oh, pop quiz.” Today it’s “rain of toads.”

Thus spoke Xander Harris in part two of Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s pilot episode, “The Harvest.”  Even in its later seasons, Buffy didn’t have the special effects budget to create an on-screen rain of toads.  The advantage to books is you aren’t limited by those sorts of budget constraints.  In Out of the Madhouse, Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder bring the rain of toads, along with all the trolls, sea monsters, skyquakes, and nasty Cordelia-chasing demons you could ever hope for.  What’s that, you say?  Trouble in Sunnydale?  Must be Tuesday.  The difference is, this time, it’s all happening at once.  Also?  Giles is out of town.  It turns out there’s an interdimensional mansion in Boston that’s been keeping these monsters at bay, but now its caretaker, the “Gatekeeper,” is ailing and his magic is weakening.  Buffy, Xander, Cordelia and Giles head to Boston to put a stop to the monster leak, while Willow, Oz, and Angel hold down the fort against an invasion of evil monks who are out to get Buffy.  (Note: I said evil monks not evil monkeys.)

Like any tie-in, Out of the Madhouse suffers from the fact that you can’t kill off major characters.  What you can do, however, is injure them severely, and in every fight scene in Out of the Madhouse I expected someone – usually Cordelia – to end up in the hospital.  Out of the Madhouse has a structure somewhat like a multi-episode arc; you’ve got the main problem of new scary monsters, plus signs that the Watcher’s Council might be sketchy, subplots involving outside forces looking to hurt Buffy, and some new recurring characters who are quite likeable.  The dialogue is strong, though not Whedon-quality, and except for the wild special effects that would be necessary to pull it off and the unlikely requirement of on location filming in Boston, I completely believed that this was a story I might see on the show itself.  Add in a surprise ending and you’ve got a recipe for fun and nostalgia.  (Plus, Golden and Holder manage to avoid the Ethan Rayne trap!)

I’d recommend Out of the Madhouse to any Buffy fan looking for stories to tide them over between issues of the comic book or to take them back to the good old days.

Book: Buffy the Vampire Slayer – The Gatekeeper Trilogy, Book One: Out of the Madhouse (Affiliate Link)
Author: Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder
Publisher: Simon Spotlight Entertainment
Original Publication Date: 1999
Pages: 384
Age Range: Young Adult
Source of Book: Library

This may be the longest I’ve gone between posts since back when I started this blog. I’m going to address a few topics all at once.

Thing One: I’ve a lot of things I want to say, but not a lot of time. I’ve been doing a lot of catching up at work, and it’s used most of my energy. I’m still reading, so here’s my currentlies:

1. Virtual Mode by Piers Anthony; this is a re-read. Due to recent events in life I’ve set it aside for a bit, as it brings up some emotional issues I’m not quite ready to handle.
2. I, Claudius by Robert Graves; this is my read-at-work book but it has been displaced by others for now. About one week a month I have to perform lunch duty, which usually consists of sitting in a chair, watching students go by, and checking hall passes. That’s a good twenty minutes a day I can devote to reading when I’m not checking the passes. It looks good to be a Latin teacher reading I, Claudius, and I, Claudius is a book I’ve always wanted to read. Most recently, though, I have been reading my other books during this time.
3. The Last Dragon by Silva de Mari; reading this because it was a Cybils nominee, and enjoying it thoroughly. It doesn’t go as quickly as many YA or children’s books do, though.
4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Gatekeeper Trilogy: Out of the Madhouse by Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder. I also walk for twenty minutes a day and I like to read while I do this. I saw one of my favorite professors doing it on campus once. I thought it looked charmingly academic, so I took it up myself. Don’t worry; I’m very careful not to run into or in front of things. Reading this has been a fun flashback and, combined with a recent re-watching of Buffy Season 4, provoked new thoughts about the show’s themes, what I did and did not like about it, and why. As a rule, I love Buffy, in case you were wondering.

Thing Two: A colleague and I were talking about YA fiction a couple of weeks ago and agreed that especially for us as teachers, it’s exactly the right thing. You can read a book with substance to it, but usually YA books don’t bog you down so much as books for an adult audience would. You get through the books quickly but still feel like you’ve really read something. So we’ve decided to start recommending and swapping YA books. I only own two, so I’ll be loaning those to her: Gingerbread by Rachel Cohn and Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen by Dyan Sheldon. These are my two recent favorites, which is why I own them. Because of the aforementioned rapidity of reading, I generally get my YA books from the library. I’m looking forward to seeing what she has for me. I told her that even though I don’t have a lot of books, I can provide her with plenty of lists. Maybe I’ll even tell her that I get most of my YA recommendations from Little Willow at Bildungsroman.

Thing Three: I love the feel of books. At Costco they set the books out in stacks on tables. I touched all of them, and felt that even though I hadn’t read them, the books were part of me. It was a good feeling.

Thing Four: Content I hope to provide soon:
Elizabeth I review
Millicent Min review
The Last Dragon review
Love in Shadow review

Thing Five: Spring break starts Friday! I will be traveling to Florida for most of it, but hope to find time in the car and at my lodgings for reading.

That is all.

I’ve started writing the response to Writer as Blogger, Blogger as Writer.

I’ve decided to make it a point to go to the library weekly. And each week, I’ll tell you what I got.

Today’s library haul:
1. Millicent Min, Girl Genius, Lisa Lee – recommended by readergirlz
2. The Last Dragon, Silvana de Mari – Cybils Finalist
3. Pucker, Melanie Gideon – Cybils Finalist
4. A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life, Dana Reinhardt – Cybils Finalist
5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Visitors, Laura Anne Gilman and Josepha Sherman – in honor of the 10th Anniversary of the premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Out of the Madhouse, Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder – in honor of the 10th Anniversary of the premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
7. Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie – While I was mid-Capt. Hook it occurred to me I ought to finish reading the source material, which I started long ago but never finished.

Today I dropped by the library and picked up the readergirlz pick for this month, Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies).  I’m only a few pages in but I like it so far.  I’ve gotten away from YA lit and that’s a shame as it brings me fond memories and a lot of times it’s better than the other stuff.  In the past couple of years I’ve really enjoyed Rachel Cohn’s Gingerbread and Dyan Sheldon’s Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen.  Lola Cepp is my alter ego, you see.  (Even though her parents gave her my sister’s name, if a bit misspelled.)

I’ll be writing more about the book as I read and finish it.  My reading goals for 2006 were to read 26 books, which I surpassed, and to keep a list of them, which I did.  To keep up with that rate, I’m a bit behind.  I need to read 5 books in the next week to catch up.  That’s not going to happen.  Two might be achievable, though.

When I was at the library looking for Justina Chen Headley, I looked at the YA paperbacks.  G is right next to H, and so I stumbled on many, many books by Chris Golden, who is both an excellent author and a nice guy (and, for the record, should really not make phone calls while he’s driving – nor should anyone else).  I was tempted to snatch up as many of Chris’s books as I could carry but then I realized the library loan period is 3 weeks, and I’m just not going to finish all the books of his they had in that time.

So I said, “Self, it’s the library.  They’ll still be here.  You can read his books later.”  And believe me, I will.

And now it’s time for me to go to bed.  More soon!