Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holidaaay. Celebraaate.

Are you hearing Adam Sandler from The Wedding Singer right now? No? Well you should be!
The point of this post is: I am going on a short hiatus! I'm gonna hang up the internet for the week of Christmas to hang with my family and finish a last minute project for my parents. I'm embroidering them a mini tapestry of naval flags that spells out our last name1. My fingers feel like raw meat. Emboidery is very addictive, though. I went for six hours yesterday without stopping! It's my new record, and I hope I never break it because my back was killing me afterward. I don't how grannies do it!

I leave you with Linus as he explains what Christmas means to me.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannakuh, and/or Happy Kwanzaa! I will see y'all next week!
Zombie Girrrl

1 I hope they don't read this. That'd suck mightily.

MTO The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner

An exciting, romantic novel set against the feverish backdrop of the French Revolution.

Clever and head-turningly attractive, fourteen-yearold Yann is an orphan who has been raised in Paris by TĂȘtu, a dwarf with secrets he has yet to reveal to the gypsy boy. It's the winter of 1789, and the duo have been working for a vain magician named Topolain. On the night when Topolain's vanity brings his own death, Yann's life truly begins. That's the night he meets shy Sido, an heiress with an ice-cold father, a young girl who has only known loneliness until now. Though they have the shortest of conversations, an attachment is born that will influence both their paths.
And what paths those will be! Revolution is afoot in France, and Sido is being used as a pawn. Only Yann will dare to rescue her, and he'll be up against a fearful villain who goes by the name Count Kalliovski, but who has often been called the devil. It'll take all of Yann's newly discovered talent to unravel the mysteries of his past and Sido's and to fight the devilish count.

 In a word blurb: Sumptuous and wonderfully told with just the right amount of historical detail and fantastic magic.
 The backound for this story was so much fun to read about! I've always had a morbid fascination with the French Revolution; in part due to the frenzied atmosphere, but also because of the glamour of the period. Gardner misses out on none of the pomp in this fantastic work of historical fiction. And there's a bonus! Not only do we get to read about the extravagant parties, ornate parlors, and tres fabuleux attire, but the story is laced with magic! Yann, the main character and resident heart throb, is a magician in training, able to throw his voice and read minds; his mentor, a dwarf with a mysterious backround, can manipulate "strings of light" and cause objects to move; and a certain vile contendor who has an obsession with automatons.
 The story starts off three years prior to the Revolution with a fateful performance at Sido's father's chateau. Here, Yann and Sido meet during a daring escape, and though they were only with each other for a very short time, they never forget each other. The story takes off from that point in leaps and bounds to eat up the three years heading into the revolution. As the revolution unfolds, 17 year-old Yann must head back to his beloved France to rescue Sido before the blood bath begins. That's pretty much the cadence of the story through out: save Sido.
 The characters were awesome, Yann was the embodiment of "tall, dark, and handsome", but my favorite thing was by far the back drop. The detail of everything really pulled me in. I loved reading about the parties and such because it was so visual.
 I'd ratew this PG13 simply because that's who it's written for. There was good deal of blood and dismemberment, but that's something the whole family can enjoy! ;)
 I give The Red Necklace...

... four zombies!
I quite enjoyed this romp into an alternate account of the French Revolution and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel The Silver Blade1.

Happy Holidays,
Zombie Girrrl

1  Que guillotine. Oh, I can't wait till they get that thing going! It didn't really come into play in the first book, though there was a great deal of violence near the end. The stage was totally set for it, though! In the very beginning, there was a bit about a guy sitting in his workshop working toward a "humane" killing machine, and at the end, the butchers were complaining that there were too many prisoners to kill and that they weren't machines. Is it wrong how excited I am about the guillotine? *shrug* Just chalk it up to a healthy interest in history.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

WIN The Ruby Oliver Series from park Avenue Princess!

Park Avenue Princess is giving away the first three books of The Ruby Oliver Series by E. Lockhart!
I really want to read this series! It sounds hilarious and it's got footnotes1!

Good luck,
Zombie Girrrl

1 I'm a big fan of footnotes.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Weekly Book Roundup (Dec #2)

It's time to see what I got this week1!

I won Best of... Ect.2 in the ginormo Halloween contest hosted by Donna at Bites for my zombified hands! It didn't really fit into any other category, sorta like myself. I couldn't choose between two of the books on the prize list, so I asked Donna to surprise me, and she gave me The Devouring by Simon Holt. I've already read the first five chapters of this, and so far I'm liking what I'm seeing! This is only my second horror book3, unless you count R. L. Stine, which I don't, and I think I'm hamdling it rather well. I haven't had any nightmares yet and I haven't developed a fear of the dark!

In Other News:
*Velvet of vvb32 reads is having a fantabulous contest that ends December 31. The prize? Your choice of book 1, 2, or 3 of The Hunger Games trilogy! Yes, you read that right! You could win the third book in the series, The Victors by Suzanne Collins! And that's not all, well, it is for that contest, but there's another contest going on at her blog that's worth taking a gander at as well. Velvet is also giving away a copy of Rot by Michelle Lee. Be sure to check out both of her awesome giveaways!
*Again, I feel like I'm forgetting something... Oh, well! It will come to me in a day or two, and then I can post again4!
*Oh-ho! I just remembered what it was! If you will please direct your attention to the left-hand sidebar, directly under the review system, you'll see that I now have a button! Hurray! Thanks go out to Kate of The Neverending Shelf for posting a tutorial on how to make your own button, and also to Dahlia of Dahlia's Eclectic Mind for helping me work out the kinks. Kate has posted six tutorials on how to customize your blog, and I highly recommend you check them out!

Happy holidays,
Zombie Girrrl

1 Kudos to The Story Siren fo starting and promoting the IMM meme!
2 Yes, I won by default, but a win is a win in my book, so let's not rub it in, please. =P
3 Gasp! Only my second horror book?! Wait, that can't be right... Okay, so it's possibly my second horror book, I'm not sure what some of those zombie books were. Okay, maybe it's my third because Strange Angels was horror... Then what was WWZ? Oh, who cares! The point is, I don't read a lot of books that were written for the express purpose of scaring you. Reason: I don't typically like being scared. Weird, right? But this one sounded really cool! I couldn't resist! Okay, this is turning into a post within a post, so I'm gonna cut myself off now.
4 It's so sad, but I only ever manage to post twice a week! -_-'

Friday, December 11, 2009

My Take On Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

Stephanie Edgley has always yearned for something more than the ordinary life she leads. The death of her strange and fantastical uncle Gordon Edgley opens the door to the world of magic, but if you are thinking of fairies, think again! The first surprise comes when she learns that she inherits most of her uncle's not inconsiderable estate. The bigger surprise comes when she meets one of his closest friends, "Skullduggery Pleasant." He is a dead magician who has come back to life, possessed by thoughts of revenge and victory against his old nemesis, Nefarian Serpine, who only wants to end the world as we know it by bringing back the original evil gods with the use of a Scepter that no one believes is real. Did I mention Skullduggery is a skeleton with a borrowed skull plus great fashion sense? Together Stephanie and Skullduggery embark on a journey of discovery and adventure, meeting interesting characters along the way, like the scarred boxer-tailor Ghastly Bespoke; Tanith Low, the troll-slaying lady in black; and China Sorrow, the seductress who appears to have a romantic hold on Skullduggery's reluctant affections.

I loved this book! It was fast, action packed, hilarious, stylish, and so smart! And as with many a great story, this one begins with an inheritance. 12 year-old Stephanie Edgley's inheritance to be exact. After her eccentric uncle, whom she was very close to, dies under mysterious circumstances Stephanie is introduced to a world of magic and danger that she's only ever read about in Gordon Edgely's books.
Well, I might be jumping the gun by saying that the story begins with the inheritance; for certain, that's where the book begins, but I suppose it's far more accurate to say that the story begins when she meets Skulduggery Pleasant. No matter where it began the story was fantastic and well worth reading.
Skulduggery Pleasant was full of magic and humor. The dialogue was fast and witty and never slowed down. Example of wit: when asked what he missed most about being alive, Skulduggery answered, "Hair. I miss how it just was." Cracked. Me. Up.
Another thing I loved was the use of names. See, names have power. And I'm not talking, "Guess my name and you get one wish!" Rumple Stiltskin kind of stuff. No, no, no, it's infinitely cooler than that. In this book, people have three names: your given name, which is what your parents choose to call you1, and magicians can use it to make you do things against your will; your true name which you're born with and can be used to gain complete control of you; and your taken name, which is exactly what it sounds like, a name that you choose for yourself2. It seals your given name from being used against you. My taken name is Rivers Jubilee3. The power of names was one of my favorite things about this world because it gave Landy the opportunity to give his characters the absolute coolest names in the history of history, China Sorrows being my favorite of them all, though I wasn't too fond of her as a person. i also really like Mr. Bliss, though I was disappointed that his firt name was never given. Archibald Bliss? Randy? Seward?
Our protagonist Stephanie Edgely was a great lead. She was gutsy, smart, brave, and she could stand on her own. Skuluggery was her mentor, not her hand-holder. She was a very capable girl. She also had great taste and a razor sharp wit.
I rate this mid-grade book either a strong PG or a light PG13 for violence and "scary moments"2.
I give Skulduggery Pleasant...

...five zombies!!!
If you're searching to fill the void left behind by Harry Potter, this series fits the bill perfectly. Magic, danger, an ancient evil, and a dastardly arch nemesis make this series one of my new favorites. A must read. Period.

Happy reading,
Zombie Girrrl

1  And no matter how dreaful that it be, you're stuck with it.
2  This really makes up for whatever unfortunate moniker you may have been sadled with when you a poor, defenseless baby.
3  I feel that it fits me rather well, though it took me a few days to come up with that name which is the the express reason why this review wasn't published sooner.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Win Beautiful by Amy Reed from Roboloblyn

Roboloblyn is having a contest where you, yes YOU, could win one of five copies of Amy Reed's Beautiful; a story about a kid who moves to an new town, decides to stop playing nice, and finds herself up her eyeballs in trouble.

"When thirteen-year-old Cassie moves to a suburb of Seattle, she is determined to leave her boring, good-girl existence behind. She chooses some dangerous new friends and is quickly caught up in their fast-paced world of drugs, sex, secrets, and cruelty. Cassie's new existence both thrills and terrifies her. She embraces the numbness she feels from the drugs, starts sleeping with an older boy, and gets pulled into a twisted friendship triangle that is tinged with violence and abuse. Cassie is trapped in a swift downward spiral, and there's no turning back."

The contest is open to US residents only and ends December 18th.

Good luck!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Weekly Book Roundup (Dec #1), Awards, & a Review Amendment

Finally! A week that didn't whiz by! This one sorta crawled for me...
Anywhoo, time to see what I got this week1!

Orchid is truly made of awesome. She won two copies of Medina Hill and gave me the second copy! I'm really looking forward to reading and reviewing this book because the story sounds interesting and the cover is so cool!

In the grimy London of 1935, eleven-year-old Dominic Walker has lost his voice. His mother is sick and his father’s unemployed. Rescue comes in the form of his Uncle Roo, who arrives to take him and his young sister, Marlo, to Cornwall. There, in a boarding house populated by eccentric residents, Marlo, who keeps a death grip on her copy of The New Art of Cooking, and Dominic, armed with Incredible Adventures for Boys: Colonel Lawrence and the Revolt in the Desert, find a way of life unlike any they have known. Dominic’s passion for Lawrence of Arabia is tested when he finds himself embroiled in a village uprising against a band of travelers who face expulsion. In defending the vulnerable, Dominic learns what it truly means to have a voice.

I haven't been to the library in awhile because I've been trying to read down my TBR pile, but I was having withdrawals, so this week I went. I feel like I was gone too long because they moved things around while I was away! I made for the YA section, but it wasn't where I left it! They moved it from the back corner to a bank of shelves right across from the desk; I think they had to put it in a more prominant place so they could keep an eye on them. They've had trouble with vandalism in the past and it's my thoery that someone was stealing books from the back corner.
Anyway! What I got! I got The Red Necklace by Sally Gardiner and The Devouring by Simon Holt.

An exciting, romantic novel set against the feverish backdrop of the French Revolution.

Clever and head-turningly attractive, fourteen-yearold Yann is an orphan who has been raised in Paris by TĂȘtu, a dwarf with secrets he has yet to reveal to the gypsy boy. It's the winter of 1789, and the duo have been working for a vain magician named Topolain. On the night when Topolain's vanity brings his own death, Yann's life truly begins. That's the night he meets shy Sido, an heiress with an ice-cold father, a young girl who has only known loneliness until now. Though they have the shortest of conversations, an attachment is born that will influence both their paths.
And what paths those will be! Revolution is afoot in France, and Sido is being used as a pawn. Only Yann will dare to rescue her, and he'll be up against a fearful villain who goes by the name Count Kalliovski, but who has often been called the devil. It'll take all of Yann's newly discovered talent to unravel the mysteries of his past and Sido's and to fight the devilish count.

"When dark creeps in and eats the light,
Bury your fears on Sorry Night.
For in the winter's blackest hours,
Comes the feasting of the Vours,
No one can see it, the life they stole,
Your body's here but not your soul..."

THE VOURS: Evil, demonic beings that inhabit human bodies on Sorry Night, the darkest hours of the winter solstice.
When Reggie reads about the Vours in a mysterious old journal, she assumes they are just the musings of an anonymous lunatic. But when her little brother, Henry, begins to act strangely, it's clear that these creatures exist beyond a madwoman's imagination, and Reggie finds out what happens when fears come to life.
To save the people she loves, Reggie must learn to survive in a world of nightmares. Can she devour her own fears before they devour her?
The Devouring is an engrossing tale of terror that will have you wondering: what if your worst fears became your living nightmare?

It's been a week of tough guy awards! Stormi over at Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My! has given me the Honest Scrap Award, which I've already passed out before, and Taschima of Bloody Bookaholic has deemed my blog to be kick "butt". Thanks, guys! These are two very cool awards!

The rules: Pass this award on to five blogs that you think kick it and say why. Sounds easy enough!
1. YA Vampire Books! Sara was kind and considerate enough to answer a question I had about the content of a book. Thanks, Sara! This is why you kick butt!
2. The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia! You always send your extra books my way, and thus you are kick butt!
3. La Femme Readers! Eleni promotes new authors, which is fairly kickin' by itself, but she's also one of the nicest bloggers there are!
4. Dahlia's Eclectic Mind! Dahlia is a snappy dresser. Just kidding! I mean, she is, but that's not why- Okay, let me start over! Dahlia is one of funniest people I know and the person that introduced me to blogging! You are kick butt, D! 
5. Bites! Donna had the most fun contest for Halloween in which the entrants were encouraged to be creative! We wrote stories, made art, and shared our scariest moments; it was a lot of fun and the stories were really good! For inspiring bloggers to embrace their creative side, Donna is kick butt!

There's a lot of other kick butt blogs and bloggers out there, but I'm a stickler for rules2, so five it is!

In Other News:
*The Save Amanda Feral Campaign is an effort to save an adult urban fantasy series featuring snarky zombies and such from getting the ax. The problem: this reportedly witty and snarktacular read was published as a trade paper back3, which has been the death of many a paranormal/fantasy series4. To combat this problem, author Mark Henry is having a contest to get the ARCs of his third Amanda Feral book into the trusty hands of reviewers like YOU5! It ends at midnight on December 14th, so go, go go!
 *YA Vampire Books is having a contest right now. You could win $16 to spend at The Book Depository! It's open to all countries that TBD ships to, which is a lot, and it raps up on December 31st.
*I've been thinking about my review of Snap a lot these last few days, and I think I sold it short. It still gets two zombies, but I missed its possitive qualities! This happens sometimes; I'll read a book and it will take me a few days for me to fully appreciate it. Usually this isn't a problem because typically I wait three days between reading and writing the review, this time, however, I was crunched for time and I thought the right of the book. Rating them is easy for me, I usually know by midway what I'm gonna give a book, it's the act of actually reviewing the book that gives me trouble sometimes. What I'm realizing of late is that it was actually a very nice book. It told the story of a girl who had her fair share of faults, but by the end of the story had grown through hardship into a mature(er) individual. Madison's struggle was something that we all, at some point or another, can relate to. The crux of the issue was that the paranormal aspect was wrapped up so neatly at the end that I was feeling short changed. Snow had it set up for some major drama at the end, but balked at the last moment and opted for a sugary, happy ending. And that's my review of the ARC of Snap  by Carol Snow!
* I just know I'm missing something, but I can't for the life of me think what, so I guess that's it!

Happy reading,
Zombie Girrrl

1  Kudos, as always, go to The Story Siren for starting and promoting the IMM meme!
2  Not really, but I am sorta lazy. ;)
3  As opposed to mass market paperbacks which retail for about 6 bucks, trade paperbacks go for about $13. You can see why this might be a problem, right?
4  Or so I hear.
5  You know, if you review adult lit. I'm not entered because it sounds too... mature for my taste.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Take On Snap by Carol Snow (ARC)

Madison Sabatini thought she knew who she was: an almost-sophomore with a bright future. The newest photographer on her school paper. A shopaholic with great hair and a fabulous wardrobe. Then, in a flash, everything changed.
Now she's stuck in Sandyland, a gloomy beach town in the middle of nowhere, living with her parents in a crappy hotel "suite." Instead of spending the summer with her friends at home, she's hanging out with pink-haired Delilah, an artist who works in a shop called Psychic Photo, and a skater boy named Duncan who's totally not her type. Except, maybe he is . . .

Determined to make the best of things, Madison throws herself into her one passion: photography. But when strange figures start appearing in her pictures—people who weren't there when she snapped the shots, people who are later reported dead—she begins to question everything about who she is . . . and who she wishes she could be.

  Madison and her family were supposed to be in Hawaii for the summer, sipping fruity beverages and snapping pics of warm, clear water, but instead she's been dragged to the "charming" beach community of Sandyland. Her father (a construction worker who's fallen on hard times) has found a job there and has pitched the trip as a "working vacation". But it doesn't take long to figure out that something bigger is going on here, especially once Madison sees the rumors that are flying around on her MySpace page. Is there something that her parents aren't telling her?
  This was a very quick read (it only took me one afternoon). The story wasn't as ghosty as the synopsis led me to believe, it was primarily about Madison learning to deal (and, boy, did she have a lot to learn!). She was a very image obsessed character and I often had the urge to slap her. She was so hung up on her "real friends" and her status symbols (nice jeans, in-ground pool, great hair, and primo neighborhood and school) that she caused herself a lot of grief and nearly missed out on real friendships.
  The photography bit felt forced to me, especially in the first half of the book. The descriptions improved in the second half, but I think that the title was more about Madison's snap judgements than her snap shots.
  The characters were good. They were colorful and easily relatable. Despite the fact that I wanted to knock some sense into the girl, it was easy to put yourself in Madison's shoes. The writing style was very fast paced and simple so that it really felt like Madison was telling it.
  The ending was in the style of an afterword. I don't really like this style because it feels to me too much like a rap-up. They read like a laundry list of things that happened after; like the author ran out of juice and is just trying to finish the thing. I wasn't thrilled with how it ended in the story department either; it just sorta went !!!... -_- Zzzz. You know?
Ratings: The suggested age range was young adult (12 and up), but the content was really more in line with a mid-grade book. There was no smut (small victory), and the relationships were very immature. I give this a PG rating with a warning that there is some use of the occult (some people are really bothered by that, so it must be said).
I give Snap...
...Two zombies.
It might improve from the uncorrectd version, who knows (not me), but it just fell flat. If you like chick-lit and coming of age stories with a little touch of darkness, than this is for you. It just wasn't for me.

Happy reading,
Zombie Girrrl

***I won this ARC from a fellow blogger. See disclaimer at end of page.***

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mega Holiday Giveaway @ Dark Faerie Tales

Dark Faerie Tales is having the mother of all holiday giveaways, and the list of prizes is to maim for1!
Deets: Four winners will have their choice from a list of nearly 40 books! Contest ends January 5, 2010.
Notes: Me reading the list of prizes-- Ooh, that's cool. That's cool, too! Oh, oh, oh! I can't believe that's on the list!!! Must. Enter. Now!
You're gonna want to check this one out. Trust me.


1  I wouldn't say it's to kill for, exactly, because killing is wrong, but it's a very good list of books nonetheless.
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