Saturday, February 27, 2010

No IMM (again)...

...But here's a cool contest instead!
Kelsey of Just Blinded Book Review is giving away a signed copy of Wake by Lisa McMann along with tons of swag, and it all goes to one lucky winner!
Here's what you might win:
•Signed Copy of Wake by Lisa McMann ("Don't dream & drive! ~Lisa McMann," isn't that the best inscription you've ever seen?!)

•Forget-Her-Nots bookmark (signed)
•Prophecy of the Sisters bookmark
•The Cinderella Society bookmark (signed)
•Shadowed Summer bookmark (signed)
•The Forest of Hands and Teeth bookmark
•The Iron King bookmark
•Rampant bookmark
•Fairytale bookmark
•The Body Finder bookmark
•In a Heartbeat bookmark (signed)
•Princess for Hire bookmark (signed)
•After discussion guide
•If I Stay discussion guide
•Wintergirls discussion guide
•The Hollow postcard
•Oblivion Road postcard
•Forget-Her-Nots postcard
•Two (2) "Fang" tattoos
•The Hollow tattoo
•Monster Reader tattoo
•The Hollow card
•Beautiful Creatures bookplate (signed)
•Cool Halloween Pencils
•Fairytale magnet
•Breaking Dawn stickers
•Fang preview
•Beautiful Creatures necklace
•Beautiful Creatures bracelet
•Summer Court bracelet (Wicked Lovely series)
•Theatre Illuminata bracelet (Eyes Like Stars series)

Contest ends March 18 and is opened to US residents only. Enter here.

Good luck,

Friday, February 19, 2010

My Take On Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains."

So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton — and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers — and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield. Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to listen to.

To be quite frank, this book was a lot slower going than I had first hoped. But I suppose that was in line with the original book. I read another review that said P&P&Z was not sped up to make it more interesting; Grahame-Smith left the pacing alone, and I actually think it was for the best. Sure, it wasn't a fast-paced thrill ride, but it was funny!
The first line is my favorite ever and roped me in instantly, but after that it took about 30 pages for my full attention to be captured. It just so happens that the first zombie encounter occurs on about the thirtieth page. Coincidence? Maybe. But if you can hang in there for that long, it's a worthwhile read. The pace was sorta like a freight train; it took a bit to get going, but once it did it kept increasing by steady increments right until the end.
The plot, as I'm sure you're all aware, centers on the story of Elizabeth Bennet and her family; her four sisters, only one of whom has a lick of sense; her mother, a one-sided, insipid gossip; and her father, the cock in the hen-house; and their encounters with a plethora of suitors as well as zombies.
Their mother's main goal in life is to see her girls happily married. Their father's is to see them survive.
The result is that the Bennet girls, particularly Elizabeth and Jane, are highly accomplished and capable warriors trained in the deadly arts. Elizabeth and Jane were also quite level headed and independent for their time and were quite easy to relate to, despite the considerable socioeconomic and time differences.
Besides zombies, there was another shocking addition to this imaginative revamping of a beloved, if not overrated, novel; that being ninjas. Yes, ninjas. Scads of them. And where there's ninjas, there's ninja combat sequences, complete with throwing stars, katanas, and dismemberment. As fun as this tidbit may sound, I actually had a hard time swallowing it. It felt spoofy. The feats performed by the daring Elizabeth were overdone and clashed with the rest of the novel. However, it provided a much needed boost in humor to the original plot and kicked up the action just when I was about to get bored with the tedium of social niceties.
The characters were interesting, and though the peripheral characters were rather one dimensional, they left me with, get this, the desire to read more Jane Austen! By the end of the book, my favorite part was actually seeing the transformation of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy1; through personal growth as well as through the shedding of light on the true character of both. The zombies were still great, but the character interaction was, surprisingly, better.
It is this conclusion that leads me to jump to another; I do believe I have been tricked into, if not loving, at least liking classic literature! Let it be known that Seth-Grahame is a fiend of the highest order; luring in an innocent and unsuspecting zombie aficionado with the promise of zombie gore, only to open my eyes to the startling revelation that Austen's works might not just be girly novels full of ancient etiquette. They might just be, dare I say it, interesting2! I haven't picked up a "classic" in quite some time, and all my memories of them, save a few, are tainted by the stain of shear boredom. Maybe I've matured. Maybe it was just the zombies. Who knows!
But I digress.
I give Pride and Prejudice and Zombies...
...Three and one-half Zombies!
Proof that a crypt full of zombies helps the literature go down. The literature go do-own, the literature go down.

footnotes____________________________________________________________
1  In the theatre of my mind, Mr Darcy was played, at first, by Collin Firth, but by the end he'd transformed into Mat Bomer, aka Neil Caffrey of White Collar. He still had the accent, though.
2  Another factor that leads me with the desire to read more Austen is that, the night before I started this book, I watched The Jane Austen Book Club on Lifetime. It was the last thing I saw before going to sleep, so maybe it was a subliminal sorta thing. Maybe the movie has secret messages embedded in the score that compel you to read Austen's books.

Friday, February 12, 2010

My take On Betrayals by Lili St. Crow

Poor Dru Anderson. Her parents are long gone, her best friend is a werewolf, and she's just learned that the blood flowing through her veins isn't entirely human. (So what else is new?)

Now Dru is stuck at a secret New England Schola for other teens like her, and there's a big problem— she's the only girl in the place. A school full of cute boys wouldn't be so bad, but Dru's killer instinct says that one of them wants her dead. And with all eyes on her, discovering a traitor within the Order could mean a lot more than social suicide. . .
Can Dru survive long enough to find out who has betrayed her trust—and maybe even her heart?

"Poor Dru" is right! After being saved from the grips of the vampir that killed her mother and father by the devilishly handsome1, and half vampir, Christoph, Dru and Graves are whisked off to an eroding reform school for Djamphir and Wulfen boys. Yes, for boys. Dru's the only girl there and her tough girl image is taking a beating. At the schola she's treated like she's made of glass. Worse than that, she's treated like a civie! Like she hasn't spent her whole life immersed in the Real World, chasing monsters across the country with her dad, sniffing out the local weirdness so he can exterminate it.
But does she really know all that much about the Real World, after all? It's starting to look like she doesn't know as much about it as she thought.
Now it's just her and Graves, the last constant in her life, and even he's starting to pull away from her preferring the company of his fellow wulfen to her brooding silences.
To top it off, Dru is Svetocha2. The powers that she's always thought of as just something special she learned from her Gran in the Appalachians are getting stronger. She's getting vampier. And there's a bit of a mystery surrounding the her mothers locket. It behaves almost as though it were alive. Oh, yeah, and there's the whole the mystery of who at the schola is trying to kill her. That too3.
St. Crow did two wonderful things in this novel; 1) she wasted no time with formalities and got straight to the good stuff- action. The action started on page one and never ceased. And 2) she didn't underestimate the smartiness of her readers by over explaining things. The book started with a prologue of the last scene from SA and then skipped forward one week so we wouldn't have to sit through the boring explanations of terminology and such with Dru. Things such as "the aspect"4 were simply implied, and you just understood without her having to go into too much detail. It was nice. The pace at which the story unfolded confused me at first, I will admit. It jumped in so quickly that I felt lost for a few chapters and then had to reread the first novel and then the second again. Although, my being lost wasn't the sole reason that I reread them both, they were just really, really good!
Strange Angels is one of my favorite books, so I was little worried that the second book wouldn't live up to the first, and my fears were almost confirmed in the first couple chapters since it felt like St. Crow was having a little trouble finding Dru's very unique voice again. She pulled it off, though. Dru was just as kick butt as the first book, though she was made even more real and relatable by all the doubts she was having about herself, about who she could trust, everything. She was even made doubtful by the fact that she was unsure of things.
I rate this fast paced sequel PG13 for strong language. Dru's got quite the potty mouth, and she is surrounded by teenage boys, so cussing and such is only to be expected.
I give Betrayals...
...Four Zombies!
An excellent continuation of the Strange Angels series and a must read if ever there were one. My only recommendation is that you not wait too long between reading the two.






footnotes________________________________________________________
1  Handsome and yummy! Like, really. He smells like apple pie. I find that a bit weird, but coming from St. Crow, I'll accept it.
Svetocha- a fancy word here meaning "female half-vampir", or in Dru-speak a "sucker". Svetocha are exceedingly rare. Only one in every one-thousand or so births is a girl, so they're highly prized individual; royalty almost. But not in a cheesy way. Oh, if you're thinking that they're prized for their sparkling personalities you's be wrong. Their blood is extra tasty while they're young, a draw for bad guys, and once they "bloom" they're toxic to suckers, a draw to the good guys. Not exacty a win, win situation.
3  I know that's supposed to be, like, the main plot point, but it just doesn't stand out in my mind as the most important or interesting aspect of this book. I'm more interested in the action than the who-done-it. Although it was a very good plot line. I even have an idea as to who did do it. Or is planning to do it. Or whatever. I just confused myself.
4  The physical change that comes over the djamphir when they're blood is up. (Pun intended.) Prepare yourself for a first-hand account of the aspect. Ooh, teaser.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Weekly Book Roundup (Feb #1)

Hurray for the postal service1!

IMM:
I won the following books from Sara of YA Vampire Books. She gave away $16 to spend at The Book Depository, and after much deliberation I chose...

For Zack Thomson, living in the Nicholls Ward isn't so bad. After his parents died, he developed strange and severe allergies, and the mental institution was the only place where he could be properly looked after. As strange as it was, it was home. He could watch as much television as he wanted; his best friend Charlie visited him often enough; and Nurse Ophelia--the prettiest no-nonsense nurse ever--sometimes took him bowling. Of course, that didn't mean he had it easy. His allergies restricted his diet to strawberry smoothies, and being the only kid at the hospital could get lonely. But it never once crossed Zack's mind to leave...until the night someone crashed through the front doors and told him to run. Now he's on a race for answers--about his past, his parents, and his strange sickness--even as every step takes him closer to the darkest of truths.

Meet Skulduggery Pleasant Ace Detective - Snappy Dresser, Razor–tongued Wit, Crackerjack Sorcerer and Walking, Talking, Fire-throwing Skeleton —as well as ally, protector, and mentor of Valkyrie Cain, a very unusual and darkly talented thirteen-year-old. These two alone must defeat an all-consuming ancient evil. The end of the world? Over his dead body.

I'm really excited to read both of these books! Skulduggery Pleasant is one of my favorite series; Landy is a riot! And Night Runner has been on my wish list for quite some time now. Thanks, Sara!

Library:

Three tales of supernatural love, each pivoting on a kiss that is no mere kiss, but an action with profound consequences for the kissers' souls:

Goblin Fruit: In Victorian times, goblin men had only to offer young girls sumptuous fruits to tempt them to sell their souls. But what does it take to tempt today's savvy girls?

Spicy Little Curses: A demon and the ambassador to Hell tussle over the soul of a beautiful English girl in India. Matters become complicated when she falls in love and decides to test her curse.

Hatchling: Six days before Esme's fourteenth birthday, her left eye turns from brown to blue. She little suspects what the change heralds, but her small safe life begins to unravel at once. What does the beautiful, fanged man want with her, and how is her fate connected to a mysterious race of demons?

When a meteor hits the moon, Miranda must learn to survive the unimaginable . . .

Bindy Mackenzie is the smartest girl at Ashbury High. She memorizes class outlines to help her teachers. She records transcripts of everything said around her. She offers helpful critiques for her fellow students. And she wears crazy nail polish to show she's a free spirit.
But then Bindy's life begins to fall apart. She can't stop feeling sleepy and she fails an exam for the first time ever. And--worst of all--she just doesn't care. What could be the cause of all these strange events? Is it conspiracy? Is it madness? Is it . . . murder?
Lots of people hate Bindy Mackenzie--but who would actually want to kill her? The answer is in Bindy's transcripts. The detectives are her fellow students. But Bindy has made every one of them into an enemy . . . and time is running out.

In Other News:
>It's February 6 and I've only finished one book! Curse you, Say Yes to the Dress and Golden Girls! You are seriously cutting into my reading time! Oh, well. I read 13 books last month, so that gives me a little wiggle room this month. I just can't believe it's Feb already. Le sigh, time doth fly when you're reading good books. Here's how my many reading challenges break down so far:
-Support Your Local Library Challenge: 3
-Bottoms Up Challenge: 2
-Debut Author Challenge: 01
-100+ Reading Challenge: 14
You can see the official list, find links for reviews, and see how far behind I'm falling on my challenges here. For a good laugh, click here. For a chance to cast your vote in an age old debate, click here.
>J. D. Salinger, author of Catcher in the Rye, one of my favorite books, passed on a week ago. I don't know what else to say on this matter except that we, as book lovers, have suffered the loss of a man who loved books as books. He spent 60 years fighting off Hollywood, protecting Catcher from having the life and soul sucked out of it in a movie. To honor the memory of this great writer, I'm going to reread Catcher and boycott the movie, if it comes to that. I really hope it doesn't get made into a movie, it just wouldn't be right. Firstly, Catcher isn't movie material. It's best read, not seen. Secondly, it was practically the man's dying wish that it not be put on film, so it would be just plain wrong to indorse that action with our patronage. Thirdly, I don't want to see Zac Efron or Taylor Lautner as Holden Caulfield. That just ain't right!
Question: What are your thoughts on Catcher (possibly) being made into a movie?3





footnotes___________________________________________________
1  Kudos to The Story Siren for starting and promoting th IMM meme!
2  Shame on me! I really should be farther along on this cheallenge.
3  I'm gonna ask a question at the end of my IMMs from now on to get things going in the comments. I got the idea from Good Golly Miss Holly, and decided to adopt the practice.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My Take On A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

In the class of the high school English teacher she has been haunting, Helen feels them: for the first time in 130 years, human eyes are looking at her. They belong to a boy, a boy who has not seemed remarkable until now. And Helen—terrified, but intrigued—is drawn to him. The fact that he is in a body and she is not presents this unlikely couple with their first challenge. But as the lovers struggle to find a way to be together, they begin to discover the secrets of their former lives and of the young people they come to possess.

In this well paced romance, Helen, a Light, has haunted various literary enthusiasts for 130 years. She has whispered in their ears as they created beautiful prose, written plays, and crafted novels, but never has she been seen. Until, that is, an ordinary boy in the English class of her latest host makes direct eye contact with her. It could have been a fluke, but after testing this theory, he makes contact. And so begins a friendship that turns rapidly into a passionate romance.
This book had so many things that were just right. Just the right amount of back story, darkness, romance1, and suspense.
Helen is a very interesting character. She's convinced that she sinned horribly when she was alive because whenever she's away from her host, the person she's haunting, she slips into a frozen, dark, watery hell. The reality of what she might have done grows heavier as the story progresses and you get an idea to what it might been. The subtle implications that Whitcomb weaves into the everyday events were bone chilling. It made for very good reading.
Helen's love affair with the boy in the English class picks up a little too quickly to be real, but then they've both been alone for about a century, so maybe it was to be expected. The crux of the problem lies in the fact that only James has a body, but those two crazy kids will do anything to be together, so he helps Helen locate an empty body that she can possess2. That's when the real fun starts. Helen and James are in two bodies that could not be more different. One comes from the wrong side of the tracks with a sordid history that threatens to catch up with them; the other comes from a strict religious family where nothing is as wholesome as it seems.
The ending was fantastic. I don't wanna give too much away here, but I actually yelled at the book. It was one of those books that made you sit up straight and say, "You have got to be kidding me!"
While this book was found in the YA section of my library and it centers around the bodies of two high schoolers, the characters and story were more mature than I was expecting. Helen and James were actually in their mid to late twenties, and there was very explicit sexual content3. I'd say this is closer to an adult novel than a true YA. Furthermore, I felt that the love between Helen and James was smothered by the physicality that developed once they were both corporeal. They seemed to lose a little of their love, or at least it seemed a lot less pure. They were really soul mates, and it was beautiful, but then it felt like it transformed into a series of... booty calls. Sure, it "fit," but I think the story would have been better without it. It was rather unimaginative to resort to such themes. I'd rate it R.
I give A Certain Slant of Light...
...Four Zombies!
A very good, yet very mature, story of love, life, and redemption. 

Happy reading,
Zombie Girrrl

footnotes__________________________________________________
1  My definition of romance is not getting it on in the theatre loft. It's more like when he carries her bag for her or forgives her for the sin of her previous life without hesitation.
2  The idea of souls vacating their bodies was scary and fascinating. And there were amny things that could lead to the soul's departure; it could be through some traumatic circumstance or the person could just... give up the ghost. The body remains alive, but it's just a drone compared to the time when the soul still dwelled inside. But here's the really cool part about Whitcomb's story; there are other things, dark things, that can move into the empty bodies. And I'm not talking about Helen and James. Part to me wanted her to delve deeper into the darkess, but then the story would have been bogged down and it wouldn't have been about the love anymore.
3  Sometimes I wonder if my mentioning the explicivity of certain books makes the book more appealing to some readers...

Blank Spaces Have Great Potential...