Thursday, July 30, 2009

Zombie Challenge

The gauntlet has been thrown down... and there's still a twitching hand inside!
 vvb32 Reads is holding a Zombie Challenge to help us all get in the spirit for September Zombie Week! Visit her blog for all the deets on how you can enter to win the Zombie Bog 'o Goodies which includes Never Slow Dance with a Zombie by E. Van Lowe.
Expect more zombie fun in the future...
Zombie Girrrl

My Take on City of Ashes

City of Ashes, the second book in the Mortal Instruments series, was the first book I read upon getting home from the library earlier this week, and it kept me up way past my intended bedtime for two very thrilling days. Good reads are gonna give me insomnia1, I swear.
 The characters were as great as ever, even better than the first book, I think. They were flawed and wonderful and very relatable. I love them.
 In this installment of one of my new favorite series, Clary has been pulled deeper into the dangerous, magical world that lies just beneath the thin veneer of glamour in Cassandra Clare's gritty version of New York. Her relationship with Jace has become strained and awkward2 and things between her and Simon are more confusing than ever. She just wants her life to return to "normal," but things keep happening to pull her further into the realm of the strange than she's ever been. It seems like every other call she receives has her riding off to save someone she loves from some new danger, or at least tagging along to help. On top of all that, she and Jace are finding that they're not quite the average shadow hunters they thought they were3.
 The book switches perspectives often, depending on where the story goes, which gives you a chance to get to know all the characters on a deeper level, especially Jace. We get a chance to delve deeper into the psyche of our favorite golden boy as he is persecuted for his less than desirable lineage by a vindictive Clave inquisitor and struggles with betrayal from his closest allies4.
 The only way to describe the pacing of this book is that it grabs you by the short hairs and drags you along through awesome scenery, bizarre encounters, and exhilarating fight scenes, pausing occasionally to give you the bigger picture in the form of somewhat lengthy explanations.
 I give this book and its predecessor City of Bones...
...Four zombies.
 I apologize for never formally reviewing City of Bones, but the time got away from me and before I knew it I was reading the sequel! Plus it was an audio book5, and I wasn't quite sure what to say about it. I really loved the format; it allowed me to do my laundry and run while absorbing a great story, and the narrator did an awesome job with some of the voices, but I'm going to have to actually read the book to be sure that it stuck.
 As for the *shocking* ending, it was almost too shocking! It was like living your whole life thinking that apples are apples only to be told that are, in fact, oranges. Very good. First-class plot twistage. I actually yelled at the book.
Happy reading, 

1  But according to Kate from {Catalyst, insomnia can very productive, and I must agree; I get a lot more reading done when I don't sleep!
2  And also a little Stars Warsy. Luke and Leia ringin' any bells?
3  Ooh, juicy.
4  Do you ever feel like a fortune teller with all the vague little blurbs? I sure do. "I see good reads in your future..."
5  Isn't that an oxy moron, "audio book?" *shrug*

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My First ARC!

 I squealed. A lot. It would have been embarrassing were it for any other reason, but this is an ARC, people! An Arc of a book I've been dying to read! "Hurray" doesn't begin to cover it. Not even close. Kudos to Simon and Shuster for holding a sweepstakes!
 As of this afternoon all other books are on hold, back burner, second fiddle until I finish Hush, Hush and let y'all know what I think.

I got me some readin' to do!
Z. G.

My Take On Me the Missing and the Dead

Me the Missing and the Dead  by Jenny Valentine was something I got from the library on a whim. I'd never heard of it, wasn't even entirely sure what it was about, but I'd heard good things from a friend and this quick read didn't disappoint.
Me: Lucas Swain—I'm nearly sixteen years old and live in London. I was fairly normal until the night I found Violet. Then everything changed.
The Missing: Dad. He disappeared five years ago. Nobody knows what happened to him, and nobody cares except me. It's enough to drive you crazy.
The Dead: That's Violet . . . in the urn. Speaking of crazy—I know she's trying to tell me something, and I think it's about my father. . . .
A dead lady may not be much to go on, but my dad's out there somewhere, and it's up to me to find out where.

 This was a quirky, contemporary YA story centering on Lucas, our angsty, somewhat lost1, British protagonist and the events that follow his finding an abandoned urn in a smoke-filled taxi depot. He doesn't know why, but he's drawn to the urn, or rather the urn's inhabitant, Violet. He feels as though she's calling to him from the beyond2.
 Lucas's dad disappeared five years ago leaving his family in shambles. His sister went wild, his mother struggles with the load of being a single parent to apathetic children, and Lucas turned himself into the closest image of his father he could based on the little bit he knew of him.
 When everyone had given up on the man who left such a big, messy hole, writing him off as dead or a toal wankster3, Lucas remained loyal to his memory and is certain, most of the time anyway, that he is out there. What that means for him, he's unsure. If he's really alive, and he is out there somewhere, why isn't he here where he's needed?
 There was a lot less of a supernatural vibe in this book than the synopsis initially led me to believe, but I wouldn't change a thing about this deliciously quirky read. It was filled with memorable characters that you could have met in your everyday life. There are realistic events tied into the knot of slightly unrealistic events that make up the main plot points of this book, and they help to ground the story in a tangible reality.
 I really enjoyed this book, and the overall impression it left on me was that of a documentary on a boy trying find his father, but ultimately finding himself, shot in 8mm with the light all orangey and bleaching out the edges of the image and creating little circles of sunlight that dazzle your eyes4. I especially liked the ending; it was open and let your wander further down the path to what Lucas's future might hold.
 I give Me the Missing and the Dead...
... Four zombies.
Highly recommended. If you see it about, by all means, read it! You won't be disappointed.
Happy reading!
1  I mean figuratively, he seemed to find his way around London quite well. I should be so lucky, to put it lightly, I'm directionally challenged.
2  *Spooky ghost-story voice.*
3  His mother's final, bitter word on her husband.
4  Too specific? I think not!

Teaser Tuesday!

I do so love games.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
•Grab your current read
•Open to a random page
•Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
•BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
•Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My first teaser comes from Wicked Lovely b Melissa Marr.
Page 89:

She fought to keep her voice even, but it never seemed to work with Keenan, today even less than usual. "What do you want?"
"Happiness. Beira to grow a conscience. Forgiveness." He leaned in to kiss her cheek.
 She moved out of reach, stepping in a puddle. "Can't help you."
 "Not even on the forgiveness?" Absently he blew a gentle breeze toward a couple of shivering crackheads, not changing his stride as he did so.
 That little ditty was between the Summer King and the Winter Girl, BTW.
 My second teaser comes from {Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson.
 I am not the daughter Rev. Jack Malone wants. He is not the father I need. It's as simple as that. Rev. Dad (Version 4.7) is a faulty operating system, incompatible with my software.
 Dad and I might be able to tolerate each other if he had a normal job. Everybody argues with their father. But nobody else has to listen to what Jesus would think about MTV, or what He would think about class rankings. Nobody else has to play the role of sweet little preacher's girl in addition to getting into college and ironing clothes and feeding the pets and making sure my brother takes his medicine.
 Both of these books are immensely enjoyable. {Catalyst, so far, is another grand slam with incredibly relatable characters, and Wicked Lovely has such a lovely, leisurely pace despite the life or death circumstances.
 Back to reading!
    Z. G.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

An Interview with Becca Fitzpatrick

 I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Becca Fitzpatrick, the debut author of Hush, Hush, which hits the shelves on October 13. She was kind enough to take time out from her busy schedule to answer my questions, and I will always be grateful to her for doing this and making my first interview so much fun. Thank you, Mrs. Fitzpatrick!
 Now on to the good stuff!

1. Could you give us a brief summary of Hush, Hush?
Hush, Hush is a romantic thriller about a girl who falls for a fallen angel with a dark agenda to become human.
2. What are a few of your favorite books?
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, anything by Sandra Brown, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and Harry Potter.
3. Do these books represent you, or do they clash with your personality like a hippie reading The Art of War?
They definitely ring true! I'm a romantic. I love adventure. I love suspense. I love books that seduce and inspire me.
4. What are a few books that you can’t wait to read?
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting, Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves, The Witch's Alphabet by Caitlin Kittredge, and all of the awesome books coming out in 2010 from The Tenners.
5. The soundtrack for this book is amazing, what about Hush, Hush made you pick so many 80’s new wave songs?
You know, I'm not really sure. Music has always been a mystery to me – I don't know why I like certain songs over others, or even why I fall hard for a really great song, but every song on the Hush, Hush play list helped transport me into the magical world of Hush, Hush. They just felt right. Chalk it up to instinct or fate, I suppose!
6. I think it’s safe to say that your book is “highly anticipated,”what do you have to say about having a growing fan base before your book has even been released?
Okay, you're making me blush! I'm not sure I have a fan base, but it is awesome, and indescribably rewarding, to see so many people out there excited to read Hush, Hush! Something as simple as seeing Hush, Hush picked for Waiting for Wednesday can make my week. I mean, there are people out there anticipating my book. How wild is that?
7. What do you think about books being made into movies and could you see Hush, Hush being made into a movie?
I just watched Confessions of a Shopoholic last night, and I'm going to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince tonight, so I'm definitely a huge books-turned-movies fan. I've never found a movie I've preferred over the novel, but it's fun to experience stories in different mediums and see how actors bring characters to life. Now if only Hollywood would make a movie out of Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER...
As for a Hush, Hush movie, yeah, I think that could be a lot of fun.
Which actors would they pick? What kind of tone would the director set? Would fans of the book be pleased with the movie?
8. I’m a creative person, and I suffer a fair amount of stress when it comes to sharing my creations; did you ever feel anxious about sharing your book with the world?

I will not lie: YES! I can always tell when the anxiety is getting to me by how much time I spend google-stalking reviews. But at the end of the day, I have to take reviews with a grain of salt. What a hundred people love about the book, another hundred will throw rotten tomatoes at.
Subjectivity is part of the business. Learn to love it, and move on!
9. Your bio says that you have a degree in health, but gave that up in favor of story telling; what was it that led you down such a different path?
The catalyst was a writing class I took when I was 24. My husband signed me up for the class as a birthday gift, and it was in that class that I started to write what would become Hush, Hush.

10. When was the first time you “heard” the voices of your characters?
Pretty much when I started writing the book. Most people know whether or not they're going to enjoy a book after reading only a few pages; for me, it only took writing a few pages of Hush, Hush to know I liked my characters enough to stick with them for a long time. They became real very fast.
11. What is your strongest personality trait and do you any of your characters share this trait?
I'm very conscientious. I'm meticulous about my life and everything in it that falls under my control. I think most people who know me would say I possess a decent amount of self-discipline. (Er, cxcept when it comes to ice cream.) Out of all my characters, Nora is probably the most conscientious, but about different things. She has her own ambitions and desires. And she doesn't wear sweats half as much as I do.
12. A very serious question now: If you had a super power, what would it be?
I'm a behind-the-scenes kind of girl, so I think invisibility would be a great match for my personality.
13. Are there any lessons you’ve learned from the lengthy process of publishing that you’d care to pass on?
Chin up. Believe in yourself and make others believe in you. There are lots of ups and downs, but that's what makes the ride memorable.
14. What question do you wish I’d asked?
What I'm having for dinner tonight. Because I'd really like to know. I'm hungry and the fridge isn't providing any inspiration. The fridge isn't providing anything, period!
15. Any last words of wisdom?
Just thank you for the awesome interview, Zombie Girrrl!!

You're most welcome! And again, thank you so much!
Don't forget to mark your calendars for October 13, y'all!

Happy reading!
Zombie Girrrl

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Library/(Used) Bookstore Score

Firstly, props must be given where they are due, so I must thank Kristy aka The Story Siren for starting the weekly meme, In My Mailbox! I must also thank her letting me call it whatever I want, because I don't get books in my mail. :(
Okay, on with the show!

I love my little library! Or rather, I love the mysterious lady who donated half of my little libraries YA books! Seriously, she has a book plate in like three quarters of every book I've checked out1. And they're good books. New books. Books that are at the top of people's wish lists. I love her!
This week was very good for seven reasons.

Checked out:
Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go -- especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil -- and also her father.
To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings -- and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

I got the first one as an audio book2 and loved it, so imagine how happy I was to see that our mysterious benefactor3 had donated the whole series in ACTUAL BOOK FORM! I'll probably be checking out City of Bones on my next visit just so I can say that I read it, also because I'm bit concerned about the absorbtion factor of an audio book versus an actual book that you read.
“The end was near.” —Voices from the Zombie War
The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.

I've read this before, and I gave it five out of five which means that I'd reread it in a heart beat. I was serious when I said that.
Berlin 1942
When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.
But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

I know this one will make me cry and probably put in a funk for a couple day afterward, but I couldn't resist. It's one of those books where you don't even need to read the synopsis in order to decide that it must be read.
Alice just can't stop crying. To her, it seems as if it should be simple. If your parents split up, you live with the one who understands you best. Alice's father had always been the one to "get" her. But somehow she had ended up living with her mom, who drank too much, and her stepfather, who didn't like her and didn't care who knew it. So when a bout with bronchitis lands her in the hospital, she decided she just can't face going home again—ever.
What if she simply stops eating—goes on a hunger strike? They would have to keep her there, wouldn't they? It seems like the simplest solution, even when the hallucinations start, even when they kind of take over. But suppose she goes into a coma—or dies? If that happens, she'll have her new friend Rex, the mysterious boy who says he's dying, but whose jaunty ways have brought Alice to life.
Once again, Bruce Brooks tells an intriguing story that puts new twists on the oldest, biggest issues—love, death, and taking charge of your own life as you move toward adulthood.

I read this book when I was thirteen or so, and I still think about it occasionally4. I was reminded of it recently when someone reviewed Winter Girls by Kaurie Halse Anderson5.

Meet Kate Malone-straight A science and math geek, minister's daughter, ace long-distance runner, girlfriend, unwilling family caretaker, emotional avoidance champion. Kate manages her life by organizing it, as logically as the periodic table. She can handle it all-or so she thinks. Then, like a string of chemical reactions, everything happens: the Malones' neighbors get burned out of their home and move in. Because her father is a Good Man of God (and a Not Very Thoughtful Parent), Kate has to share her room with her nemesis, Teri Litch, and Teri's adorable, troublemaking little brother. And through it all, she's still waiting to hear from the only college she has applied to: MIT. Kate's life is less and less under control-and then, something happens that blows it all apart, and forces her to examine her life, self, and heart for the first time. Set in the same community as the remarkable Speak, Catalyst is a novel that will make you think, laugh, cry, and rejoice-sometimes at the same time.
A book set in the same place that the wonderful, intrepid Melinda came from? I'm in! I've seen this book around libraries before, but we never really seemed to click. I was feeling generous though this trip, so I said, "What the heck!" and checked it out. If it's anything like Speak, I'm sure I won't regret it.

Rule #3: Don't stare at invisible faeries.
Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty—especially if they learn of her Sight—and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.
Rule #2: Don't speak to invisible faeries.
Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.
Rule #1: Don't ever attract their attention.
But it's too late. Keenan is the Summer King who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost—regardless of her plans or desires.
Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything.
Faerie intrigue, mortal love, and the clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in Melissa Marr's stunning 21st century faery tale.

I didn't actually check this one out myself. They only had one copy, and me a friend were practically playing tug-of-war for it in the isle. She won. I'm borrowing it from her.
Found at used bookstore:
The searing, postapocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy's masterpiece.

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food-—and each other. 

I read the first part of this book a couple years ago, and the line, "Each the other's world entire," has been lodged in my brain ever since. I never got around to buying it, though, until I saw it in a used bookstore a few days ago. I was already checking out when I  happened to glance over my shoulder, and there it was. It was fate. Book fate. The best sort.

Happy reading to all!
Zombie Girrrl

1 It occurs to me that this seemingly generous individual could have just put stickers in the fronts of new books without having donated them, but I doubt that's the case.
2 Isn't audio book kind of an oxy moron?
3 All the best stories have mysterious benefactors! I've now joined the ranks of Harry Potter, Keladry of Mindelan, and Pip!
4 This must be a very important age for reading, because I still remember most (if not all) of the stories I read back then. Unfortunately, I don't remember the titles of most of those books, so my running across a book I've previously enjoyed is the best case of serendipity!
5 Cue segue.

A Treat for My Followers

Boy, do I have some news for you!
 Firstly, I've been interviewed by Dahlia at Dahlia's Eclectic Mind. It was approximately a ton and half of fun. Go check it out and enter your answers in Q&A Friday to be interviewed!
 Second on the agenda, I've won a contest! Reading Rocks had a contest for a paper back of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and a collector's edition gold pin, and I won! Me so happy! ^_^
 And thirdly... shoot, what was the third thing? Oh, yeah! I won the Heartfelt Award from Taschima of Bloody Bookaholic and the Kreativ Blogger Award (again) from Steph Bowe of Hey, Teenager of the Year! Thanks, y'all! To see these and other awards, click the Accolades button up there ^. To see who won the Heartfelt Award from me, keep reading.

Do you reach for a cup of cocoa or tea when your relaxing, seeking comfort, or sharing a plate of cookies with family and friends? You know the feeling you get when you drink a yummy cup of cocoa, tea, or a hot toddy? That is what the Heartfelt Award is all about, feeling warm inside.

Put the logo on your blog/post.
Nominate up to 9 blogs all the people who make you feel comfy or warm inside.
Be sure to link your nominees within your post.
Let them know that they have been nominated by commenting on their blog.
Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award.

 I love getting awards, but I truly, truly hate picking nominies. Truly. So! For this award, I'm gonna cheat. I'm giving this award to all my followers! Also, I'm making it a meme! Yay, cheating!
New Rules:
Put the logo on your blog/post.
Nominate up to 9 blogs all the people who make you feel comfy or warm inside.
Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award.
New! Answer this question: What makes you feel all warm and cozy inside?

 My answer: Happy endings. Nothing makes me happier than closing a book when everything ended well for the characters. The story could have had the most atrocious villains, the most horrible circumstances and cataclysmic events1, but so long as the protagonist comes out happy and safe2 in The End, I'll be left smiling like a fool.

Zombie Girrrl

1 Infact, it's highly recommend that a story have all these things.
2 ...and possibly wiser...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Take on People of Sparks

I read The City of Ember1 a while ago, some time last year I think, and at first I was really excited to read the second book, but after further thought I somehow came to the conclusion that it was too juvenile for me. I'm glad now that I didn't let this precept keep me from picking this book up when I saw it at my library. It was very good. And yeah, it was a little young, but that's because it's written for the 9-12 set. I liked it anyway. 
The People of Sparks picks up where The City of Ember leaves off. Lina and Doon have emerged from the underground city to the exciting new world above, and it isn’t long before they are followed by the other inhabitants of Ember. The Emberites soon come across a town where they are welcomed, fed, and given places to sleep. But the town’s resources are limited and it isn’t long before resentment begins to grow between the two groups. When anonymous acts of vandalism push them toward violence, it’s up to Lina and Doon to discover who’s behind the vandalism and why, before it’s too late.
The mysterious event that led to the creation of Ember is revealed in this book. Also revealed is how easy it is for peaceful people to resort to all out war at the suggestion of one charismatic individual. Misunderstandings and resentment fuel the fire of animosity and the actions of just a few people fan it into a near-disastrous conflagration where the mettle of every individual, Emberite and Sparks alike, is tested.
Lina and Doon, who teamed up in book one to solve the riddle of Ember and rescue its citizens from the dying, underground city, find themselves heading down different paths. Doon is swept away by the charismatic Tick, and finds himself struggling with injustices and what it means to fight for your rights. Lina strikes out on her own to find the mythical city of her dreams in hopes of finding a place for the Emberites to live. Together they struggle to find a way to unite the Emberites and Sparks with a single, nonviolent act.  
 People of Sparks addresses how fragile peace is and how prone to fighting and discord people are by nature. We like to fight. We look for reasons to. Picking sides and joining together against others comes naturally to us. Duprau sheds light on our own inner demons and provides a voice for the ones who get caught in the middle of conflict, the innocent and the young. Even children want to fight though, but they often don't appreciate what it means. War is an abstract idea to them; it happens somewhere else with people who don't celebrate the same holidays or speak the same language or eat the same food. This book can help bring it into perspective for them.
 The only thing I could have asked for from this book was a little more oomph behind the description of the events that led to the founding of Ember. I like details2. The book would have become bogged down by all the details though, I'll concede to that. Duprau kept it clean so as not to lose the attention of her reader, and she never did.
 Ratings3! I give The People of Sparks...
...three and a half zombies.
 I look forward to reading the third book in this series, The Prophet of Yonwood, a prequel taking place fifty years before the founding of Ember.
Happy reading!
Zombie Girrrl
1 "The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the great lamps that light the city are beginning to flicker. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she’s sure it holds a secret that will save the city. She and her friend Doon must decipher the message before the lights go out on Ember forever! This stunning debut novel offers refreshingly clear writing and fascinating, original characters."
2 I especially like details on plagues and diseases. Some of my favorite books are The Cobra Event by Richard Preston and Flu by Gina Kolata, both have excellent detailed descriptions of diseases both real and imagined. Another really good book for its details is The Pacific by Mark helprin, his short stories are deliciously vivid.
3 I completely forgot the rating!  I had to come back and do it! How could I forget the zombies?!?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Teeny, Tiny, Micro Post

I've changed my name from 21 to Zombie Girrrl, it suits me better, and most people call me that anyway. Plus the only reason I chose 21 in the first place was for 13 & Co., which I only post on occasionally. It was like a call sign. I'll still use it for that blog, but for everything else (which is basically everything), I'm adopting the name Taschima gave me. Thanks, Taschima!
21 Zombie Girrrl

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I'm Ba-ack!

Okay, so I've been back for a while now, but I've been recovering; camping was intense! Get it, in tents? And it's a lot of work! Especially if there's strong wind, which there was. The first night, anyway. And we must have gotten every kind of rain there was. Big, goopy rain, spitty, misty rain, it even rained men1. I swear. But it was great. I got to kayak and jump around in the surf, a very good workout! I also got a little bit of a tan! Just a shade, though. I'm fairly, well, fair. Also, in homage of An Abundance of Katherines, I anagrammed the word "Coleman", the name of my tent, and came up three really good ones; emo clan, no camel, and coal men. Not bad, eh? But the really great thing about camping is that you don’t gotta go all the way to the rim to see the elephants2. There's also a lot of time to just sit around and read. I finished Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett, Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce, and Peter and the Starcatchers by David Barry and Ridley Pearson.
So any-hoo! About the books I read!

I figured Witches Abroad would be a good vacation book because it's about travel in the Disc World. As always, Terry's book was filled with wit, wisdom, and hilarity. And also as usual, I occasionally felt lost. I don't know what happens, but from time to time I feel like maybe I've wandered off the beaten path when I read his stuff. It only happens for a page or two a couple times per book, and he always manages to get me back on track with a funny or thought provoking line such as, "Good people are innocent, which is why they create justice. Bad people are guilty, which is why they invent mercy." I don't know if maybe it's because he's British and they're sense of humor is so different, I felt the same way when I saw Hitchhiker's Guide, or maybe he's writing for people more clever than I. I still really liked this book though and will be recommending it to several friends of mine and anyone who enjoys the works of Dianna Wynne Jones. I'd give it...
...three and half zombies.
Wild Magic was really good. I don't why I hadn't read it sooner, I mean, I love evrything else by Pierce! I guess it's because I started Tamora's books by reading The Protector of the Small Series, and that's the third series set in Tortall. I wish I'd read it sooner though, because Daine is awesome. I really like Tamora's brand of magic. It's tied to the mage's life force so they can't keep going indefinitely. Animals play a very important role in all of Tamora's books, and obviously they are even more important in this series as Daine is a wild mage and can communicate with the animals around her, her presence even makes them more human, but it's never delivered in a dippy "horsey story" kinda way. The use of animals makes her work more interesting, it adds dimension and texture to the books. The characters are very interesting, especially Daine and Numair, they have a very interesting relationship right from the get go and you can see where it's headed pretty clearly, you can also see the troubles that will arise in the future. I give Wild Magic...
...four and half zombies.
I could see myself reading this again in the upcoming year, and I can't wait to get the next book! Plus, aren't the new covers gorgeous? I didn't have the luck of finding the new cover, however. My copy came from a used book store and looks like this...
I got a little razzing for taking this one out in public, but what'cha gonna do? It was an awesome book and I will defend it no matter what it's wrapped in.
Peter and the Starchatchers was a prequel of sorts to the classic Peter Pan. Pearson and Barry told the story behind the story; how Peter got to the island, why he doesn't age, how Hook got his hook-hand, they even explained the magic! It's the starstuff from the title, and it is literally the stuff of legend, the medium of myth. It was pretty awesome. The only thing I could have asked for from this fast paced tale was a little more insight into the characters. It was told from the third person POV and bounced around the island to keep up with what everyone was doing; there was actually a lot to keep up with. At one point there were five or more different story lines going on at once. I just wish there had been a bit more insight into the characters motives and thoughts; they seemed a bit one dimensional at times. I don't mind being a fly on the wall, but I at least want to be a psychic fly. I give Peter and the Starcatchers...
...three zombies.
I liked this book, it was a quick, fun read. A good workout for the ol' imagination muscle. I'll read the next book in the series if I see at my library, but I'm willing to let sleeping dogs lie when it comes to adding it to my library.
Well, that was fun but I gotta go, Golden Girls is on!
Happy reading, y'all!

1 There were some Marines off in the distance doing parachute drills.
2 Something the people on the Sto plains of the Disc World say when they're fed up with staying in the same place.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th!

Happy Fourth of July! I hope y'all have a safe and fun weekend! I'm gonna be outta town for the week, camping with mi familia, so don't expect any updates or comments from me, but I promise a review of City of Bones by Cassandra Clare when I get back!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

My Take On Hunger Games

Twenty- four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives.

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.

Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

I love books like this! So real, so textured, so rich! So freakin' scary! I'd call this a dystopian/cautionary tale and then I'd ask myself if that's really the same thing and then I'd say, nah, its totally different, just in a very similar way.
I could see some of the things in the story actually happening, like the complete loss of respect for humanity through the shallowness and self-centeredness of all the people in the Capitol. They're so focussed on "improving" their looks and living luxurious lives that they don't even have the ability to feel empathy anymore. Scary. And yet familiar...
From the very first page, which was very well written1, I was hooked! The twist and turns started almost immediately leaving me with a look of shock that had people staring openly at me and muttering behind their hands. The plot unfurled in perfect order; I never felt a step behind or too far ahead, it kept my attention on a leash of the perfect length. And the format, first person present tense2, was brilliant! I felt like I was Katniss, which was thoroughly terrifying at times. Nothing stood between me and the story. It was as real as standing on a precipice and feeling the the height of the fall in the pit of your stomach.
And the characters, oh, the characters! They were all so real! They were flawed and believable and wonderful. Nothing was overstated or over done in this book, everything just was. The world that Collins created was totally, frighteningly believable.
I can't even think of anything else to say about this book. I loved it. It is now in my top 3. A piece of advice: whatever you're doing right now, reading a book, having a snack, cradling a baby, drop it! And pick up this book!
On to the ratings! Hunger Games gets...
...Five Zombies.
I'd reread this book in a heart beat! The action was great and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. It grabbed my attention from Jump Street and never let go until the very end. It didn't even let go then! It was such a great cliff hanger! I can't wait to read Catching Fire in September. So far away! In the mean time, I'll just have to occupy my thoughts by having the greatest summer ever and reading some awesomely distracting books.

1 Thanks go out to Steph Bowe who made me stop and think about how well written the first actually was. I read it twice with her critique in mine, and came up with nothing that could be improved upon.
2 I have many crazy theories, one of which is my belief that there is no such thing as present tense. Every thought or action is in responce to something that happened a split second before, and thus, is past tense. I still hold that present tense has no place in reality, but in the fabulous world of books, it is an excellent tool for drawing the reader into the story.
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