Friday, December 9, 2011

My Take On: Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck

In the third installment of the Tiger series, Kelsey Hayes pushes through the pain of lost love and strengthens her friendship with Kishan1. Despite his strong feelings for her, Kishan has agreed to be her ally in helping her reunite with the man she still loves2. Together, they seek to help Ren regain his memory and begin the search for the third magical gift—an object of power that will help break the curse that causes them to live part of their lives as tigers.
They board a luxury yacht3 and seek Durga's aid once again, who supplies them with her golden weapons. With Nilima, Mr. Kadam, Ren, and Kishan at her side4, she soon learns that the task ahead will be even more difficult than the others. Confronting a dark magician, multiple dragons, and terrifying denizens of the deep seems easy when compared to facing the daunting task of stitching up her heart...
...and the synopsis goes on and on and on, but that's the gist of it.
 Tiger's Voyage was... well, the first thing that comes to mind is how much I laughed while reading it. I mean, it was a riot. Was it a comedy? Um... well? No, not really. This is straight up paranormal romance. There is a girl (we'll call her Slug-Baby). There is a guy (two of them, actually) that are cursed to spend a portion of their day as tigers. There's love. Lots of it. And kissing. Lots of it. Actually, too much of it4, but at least they never do anything more than kiss. Aside from sleeping in each others beds like a bad episode of Dawson's Creek. Oh, yeah, and there's a quest, or in this case, a voyage5.
 I've heard this series described as Twilight meets Indiana Jones, and that is actually a very accurate blurb. The love story aspect is somewhat convoluted and one sided, I'm not actually certain that Slug-Baby loves either guy or just doesn't want to hurt either one's feelings. And the adventure is so much fun, full of traps and quests within quests, and puzzles and pitfalls. Houck really has a knack for classic story telling as she reveals in some of the truly bizarre settings and challenges that the trio face on the voyage. It's the story telling, more than anything, that keeps me coming back to this series.

 But I know what you're wondering most of all: "Why do you call Kelsey 'Slug-Baby'?" Gather round, my friends, and I'll tell you the tale of how Slug-Baby got her name...
 Kelsey was once a real girl. She was alone, in a sad sense, since she had lost both her parents in a car accident, but she had a polite, vegan foster family to care for her. Then, one day, a marvelous thing happened: the circus came to town! Kelsey decided to work at the circus, and her vegan foster parents encouraged her, though they would miss having her around to babysit while they jogged.
 So Kelsey, who was still Kelsey at this point, packed up her hair ribbons and her grandmother's quilt and moved to the circus. Such nerve! There she met a white tiger who seemed sad and alone. She felt for the tiger, all stifled in his cage, and began to spend time with him. Kelsey discovered that he enjoyed Shakespeare, because who doesn't, really? So she read to him, and the tiger was happier for it.
 Kelsey and tiger became friends.
 One day, a rich, Indian man came to the circus asking Kelsey if she would accompany the tiger to India where the rich man wished to rehabilitate him. Kelsey asked her vegan foster parents what they thought about her, a naive high school grad, traveling to a foreign land with a complete and suspiciously rich stranger. They thought it swell.
 So Kelsey, who was still Kelsey, traveled to India.
 Fast forward. Surprise, the tiger is a man! And he loves Kelsey, who is becoming less of a Kelsey everyday. And the rich man is not evil or creepy, he's polite and encyclopedic! And also immortal!  
 Fast forward yet again, and there's another tiger-man! And he loves Kelsey, who is even less of a Kelsey than before. He doesn't care that the girl who was Kelsey is in love with his own brother. He wants her. So he steals her kisses, even as they work to save the brother she loved first. And the girl who was Kelsey finds that she likes him too. Her tigers are perfect and bronze and handsome and brave and they take care of her in marvelous ways! They defend the girl who is no longer Kelsey from enemies and tuck her into bed. They make sure that she's eating and shield her from sadness, as best as they can. They love her even when their love brings her to harm and do everything for her as if she had no arms.
 Slug-Baby is born.

 So, obviously, this is not a dashing tale of equality, although Kelsey does perform some brave and clever feats now and again, mostly when her tigers aren't quick enough to stop her.
  And this isn't a wonderful and swoon-worthy love story, either. Love is...not this. Love is willing the good of another, and I just don't see that in the way Kelsey leads both of the brothers on or the way that they fight for her affection and cause her great turmoil and confusion.
 But it is entertaining, especially when read critically.

I give Tiger's Voyage 5 zombies for the story telling parts where marvelous things happened, and 3 zombies for the rest of it, which equals...
...4 zombies.

i am
zombie girrrl
& this was

1. I believe it's pronounced kih-shin, both with the short I sound.
2. If you write it, it must be true. Kishan was a cad in book the second, Tiger's Quest, but he made a miraculous recovery and is now the better man, in my opinion. Hurray for the power of love and edits.
3. "Luxury" is an understatement. One of the things that keeps me reading this series is the extreme opulence. The yacht was more like a private cruise ship and Kelsey always gets the best of everything. I wonder if that bothers Nilima? Anyway. Everything is described in excruciating detail, but I find it entertaining how very rich and detailed the environment is. It's like taking a tour. In fact, the detail almost moves this one out of Paranormal Romance and into Fantasy, except for the amount of kissing [see footnote #4].
4. I wound up skimming a good portion for the book. Kissing just doesn't make for good reading, especially when it's paid the same amount of detail as the setting. I literally skipped two pages that were dedicated entirely to one kiss. Plus, there was one really creepy kissing scene. Like, really, really creepy. Like, "please don't let this be what girls find dreamy" type creepy.
5. A voyage being a quest which takes place on the water.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Read Dangerously Read-A-Thon

This will be where I update my reading progress as well as participate in the mini challenges. Stay tuned!

Day 1: I didn't get off to a spectacular start. I only read one chapter: Chapter four of Theology of the Body for Teens, to be exact. It was really interesting, and I enjoyed the discussion that ensued immensely, but I really meant to have had more reading under my belt by this point. Now, if this were a crochet-a-thon, then I'd be golden! I'll just have to hang up my hook for the next two days and play catch up.

Day 2: I read most of The Dead-Tossed Waves, staying up till nearly 1am. I wasn't able to finish it, though, as my eyes were crossing with fatigue.

Day 3: Finished The Dead-Tossed Waves! It was awesome. Not as scary as FoHaT, but there was more... feeling, I think. Definitely more of a love story.
I'm now reading FEED by Mira Grant, another of my favorite zombie books.
Mini Challenges:
Challenge #1: fail
Challenge #2: fail
Challenge #3: Describe the book you're reading in 7 words.
Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan: Gabry must face her fears and live.

i am
zombie girrrl
& i have
some reading
to do

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Take On: Paper Town's by John Green

When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night, dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge, he follows her. Margo's always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she's always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they're for Q. Printz Medalist John Green returns with the trademark brilliant wit and heart-stopping emotional honesty that have inspired a new generation of readers.
So, I'd read one of John Green's books, An Abundance of Katherines, and I loved it. I loved it so much, in fact, that I was a bit leery about reading another of his books, lest it be inferior in awesomeness and somehow taint the happy memory of the first. I don't know why I develop these weird reading phobias, but I do, and they keep me from reading really good books for too long.
And, yes, Paper Towns was a really good book.
But before I get to that, because it's important to me (and a lot of readers I know and respect), I'll break it down by content:

Language: There were a LOT of GD's. Just about every character said it, and it was said a good number of times1 throughout the book. Other than that, there were also a lot of S's and D's and the like. I cannot now recall if there were any F-bombs dropped on this beauty because I generally skip over them without even absorbing their presence.
There was also rather a lot of sexually crude language of the ignorant-teenage-boy variety.

Sexual Content: There was implicit language and one scene where it nearly happened, though not to a main character, but (thankfully) this was a pretty clean book in that respect. In fact, Q was a relatively chaste guy, and I really loved that about him. Virginity was, however, viewed as a thing to be lost or given away outside of marriage. It must be said, though, that John Green never uses sex lightly nor for no greater reason than to thrill the masses or sell more books. He is as thoughtful in his use of more-mature content as he is with his trademark wit, and there is always a lesson to be learned--that usually being that physical intimacy does not equate to emotional intimacy. I have a great deal of respect for John Green because he accepts, and even embraces that he, as a writer, has a responsibilty to his readers.

Violence: More of the ignorant-teenage-boy variety with a dose of psychotic bullies.

Okay, on with the show!
I've been watching a lot of Vlogbrothers lately, and it got me thinking about some things that John used in this book, such as how Quentin said, in my all-time favorite quote,
"You can't divorce Margo the person from the Margo the body. You can't see one without seeing the other. You looked in Margo's eyes and saw both their blueness and their Margo-ness."
Notice the use of "you"? You didn't look in Margo's eyes, Quentin did; and if you did look in her eyes, I somehow doubt that you would see all that. John pointed out this phenomenon in Catcher in the Rye saying that Holden referred to you because it was too painful to say I when recollecting his youth and the girl he innocently held hands with.
Quentin seemed to be deeply infatuated with Margo, or at least the idea of Margo, yet he couldn't bring himself to say, "When I looked in Margo's eyes." It cost too much for him to admit that he, himself saw these things when he looked in her eyes, because he thought he could never be with her.
But that's not what makes this my favorite quote, that's just what makes this quote interesting in the framework of the story. What makes it my favorite is that everyone hopes to be seen this way. Despite all the work we put into our appearance--makeup, hair, skin care, clothing, likes and dislikes, all the time and energy, conscious or unconscious, that we spend on cultivating an image--what we really want is for someone to look past the strategically engineered facade and see our souls shining through our countenances2.
This quote and this line of thought, our ideas of people and how far short they fall of the real person, is really what the entire book is about.
As Quentin sets out to find Margo physically, he is also trying to find the real Margo--a window amid all the mirrors--and along the way he finds a bit of himself: What really scares him and how brave he can be, what kind of friend he is, what kind of friends he has3, and how to look through the cracks in the facade to see the light within. Also, how much minivans rock.
I give Paper Towns...
...4 1/2 zombies!
This is really a beautiful book. John Green is one of my favorite writers because of his truly unique style and wit and his uflinching honesty. I got this from my library, but I'll be looking to add Paper Towns to my personal collection.

i am
zombie girrrl
& i'm
really not
you only think
i am

1. It occurs to me that "a good number of times" is a really poor phrase in this instance. O Language, thou hast failed me!
2. And there's that "you" again. I suppose it's a sort of survival mechanism.
3. I'll tell you now: Q has the awesome kind of friends. Another of John Greens' talents lies in creating amazing friends for his protagonists.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Read Dangerously Read-a-Thon

This post is very important. This post means I am an official participant in...

This read-a-thon is only a small part of an even bigger event at All By MySHELF, celebrating Ren's 20th birthday. And everyone knows: big event + blogging = PRIZES!

Here are the important details about the read-a-thon:

The Read Dangerously Read-A-Thon will start at 10 a.m. on Thursday, August 11, and end at 10 p.m. on Saturday, August 13. There will be mini-challenges on each day, so you'll have something to amuse yourself during your reading breaks. You can participate on all days or just a few, whatever you feel like or your schedule allows.
But that's not all! Everyone that participates in the read-a-thon will be entered to win $15 to The Book Depository! One winner will get their choice of any already released as of August 20) YA book, and because it's BD, the contest is open to anyone that lives in one of these countries. And if you say Zombie Girrrl sent you, we'll both get an extra entry! All you have to do to be eligible for the giveaway is sign up for the read-a-thon and post an end of day update on one of the read-a-thon days. Yep, that simple.
Now, what are you waiting for? Go sign up!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

He's #1!

Give your dad a hug.

i am
zombie girrrl
& my Dad
is #1
Happy Father's Day!

Friday, May 27, 2011

So You Want to Be More Like Rory Gilmore...

Well, according to Wikihow, the first place to start is by wearing blue contacts and dying your hair brown, but this is not the most important thing. By far the most important aspect of Rory is her wit and intelligence, the latter being best exemplified by her lengthy reading list1. So, if you really want to be more like her2, then get reading!
9.A Separate Peace by John Knowles
10.Atonement: A Novel by Ian McEwan
11.A Mencken Chrestomathy by H.L. Mencken
12.An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
13.A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
14.A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
15.Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (Why haven't I read this? I've read so many other books on this topic, yet I haven't read this?! I need to correct that post haste.)
16.A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
17.Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
18.A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
19.Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
20.A Quiet Storm by Rachel Howzell Hall
21.A Month of Sundays by Julie Mars
22.A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
23.Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
24.Beloved by Toni Morrison
25.Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
26.Brick Lane by Monica Ali
27.Bee Season by Myla Goldberg
28.Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
29.Balzac and the little Chinese seamstress by Dai Sijie
30.Cousin Bette by Honore De Balzac
31.Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
32.Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
33.Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe (still working on this one)
34.Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty
35.David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
36.Demons by Fyodor Dostoevsky
37.Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
38.Daisy Miller by Henry James
39.Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
40.Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
41.Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook
42.Emma by Jane Austen
43.Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
44.Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
45.Extravagance by Gary Krist
46.Empire Falls by Richard Russo
47.Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
48.Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
49.Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
50.Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
51.Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest people in the World by Greg Critser
52.Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
53.Howl by Allen Ginsberg
54.Hamlet by William Shakespeare
55.Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
56.How the Light gets In by M.J. Hyland
57.How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
58.Holidays on Ice by Davis Sedaris
59.Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
60.Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (I plan on giving this another go now that I'm older)
61.Just a Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito
62.Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
63.Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
64.Life of Pi by Yann Martel
65.Lord of the Flies by William Golding
66.Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
67.Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
68.Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
69.Monsieur Proust by Celeste Albaret
70.Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
71.Moby Dick by Herman Melville (Haven't read this, but I loved In The Heart of the Sea: The Sinking of Whale Ship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick, which is the true account of the killer, white whale)
72.Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
73.My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and Its Aftermath by Seymour M. Hersh
74.Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
75.Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
76.My Life in Orange by Tim Guest
77.My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
78.Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
79.New Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
80.Novels 1930-1942: Dance Night/Come Back to Sorento, Turn, Magic Wheel/Angels on Toast/a Time to be Born by Dawn Powell
81.Night by Elie Wiesel
82.Nervous System by Jan Lars Jensen
83.Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
84.On the Road by Jack Kerouac
85.One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s nest by Ken Kesey
86.Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen
87.Othello by William Shakespeare
88.Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
89.Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
90.Oracle Night by Paul Auster
91.Old School by Tobias Wolff
92.Pushkin: A Biography by T.J. Binyon
93.Please Kill Me: Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
94.Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
95.Property by Valerie Martin
96.Quattrocento by James McKean
97.Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
98.Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
99.Rescuing Patty Hearst by Virginia Holman
100.Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
101.Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
102.Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia De Burgos by Julia De Burgos
103.Swimming with Giants: My Encounters With Whales, Dolphins, and Seals by Anne Collet
104.Savage Beauty: the Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
105.Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
106.Sanctuary by William Faulkner
107.Snows of Kilimanjaro by Hemmingway
108.Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
109.Selected Letters of Dawn Powell 1913-1965 by Dawn Powell
110.Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
111.Sybil by Flora Schreiber
112.Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
113.Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
114.Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
115.Songbook by Nick Hornby
116.Small Island by Andrea Levy
117.The Handmaiden’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
118.The Scarecrow of Oz by L. Frank Baum
119.The Second Sex by Simone De Beauvoir
120.The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
121.The Awakening by Kate Chopin
122.The Manticore by Robertson Davies
123.Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
124.The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
125.The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
126.The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
127.To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
128.The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton
129.The Naked and The Dead by Norman Mailer
130.The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
131.The Group by Mary McCarthy
132.The Portable Nietzsche by Nietzsche
133.The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
134.The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath by Sylvia Plath
135.The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
136.The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
137.The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner
138.Time and Again by Jack Finney
139.Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fritzgerald
140.The Little Locksmith by Katherine Butler Hathaway
141.The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
142.The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemmingway
143.The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
144.The Lottery: And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
145.The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
146.The Adventures of Huckelberry Finn by Mark Twain
147.The Art of War by Sun Tzu
148.The Last Empire Essays 1992-2000 by Gore Vidal
149.The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
150.The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
151.The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
152.The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
153.The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
154.The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
155.The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (My mom wouldn't let me read this. It was the first time I can ever remember being told No about a book.)
156.The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
157.The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
158.The Kitchen Boy by Robert Alexander
159.The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
160.The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
161.The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
162.The Bielski Brothers by Peter Duff
163.The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
164.The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
165.The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
166.The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
167.The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
168.The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
169.The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
170.The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
171.The Time Travaler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
172.Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett
173.The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
174.The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
175.The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
176.The Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan
177.The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker
178.The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
179.The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
180.Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher
181.Unless by Carol Shields
182.Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
183.Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
184.War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
185.Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
186.When The Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
187.1984 by George Orwell
188.In cold blood
189.Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
190.How I live now

i am
zombie girrrl
& i have
a lot
of reading to do

1. I don't know why the list begins at 9, but I assure you this is the complete list.
2. And there surely must be people who do, since there was a whole article written about it on Wikihow. There was even one on how to speak like a Gilmore Girl, which is actually a fairly useful skill to have.
3. Key: Read, Incomplete for Whatever Reason, Family Library, Public Library

Friday, May 20, 2011

My (revised) Take On: The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

Sixteen-year-old Maya is just an ordinary teen in an ordinary town. Sure, she doesn't know much about her background - the only thing she really has to cling to is an odd paw-print birthmark on her hip - but she never really put much thought into who her parents were or how she ended up with her adopted parents in this tiny medical-research community on Vancouver Island.
Until now.
Strange things have been happening in this claustrophobic town - from the mountain lions that have been approaching Maya to her best friend's hidden talent for "feeling" out people and situations, to the sexy new bad boy who makes Maya feel . . . . different. Combine that with a few unexplained deaths and a mystery involving Maya's biological parents and it's easy to suspect that this town might have more than its share of skeletons in its closet.
So, yeah...
I already said what I thought while I was reading this book, and incase you missed that you can read it here. But in case you don't like chasing links or whatever, I'll just summarize my pre-review by saying this: I was less than pleased and slightly more than bored.
Have you ever read a book that was better in retrospect? It just didn't seem that great while you were actively reading it, but once it was over and you had all the pieces in a row, it was better? Maybe not fully redeemed, but better. Well, this turned out to be one of those books.
I was underwhelmed while reading The Gathering, but as soon as I set it down and mulled it over for a bit1, I came to see that, not only was it not that bad, it was actually pretty good. Just, not while you're reading it.
It's hard to explain.
Like, while I was reading, the lack of action2--and not just fight scenes, but the lack of action taken by the characters--bugged me and made it seem too easy and like there just wasn't a story; but after finishing it, I realized that, hey, this was actually a good story that must have been somewhat hard to tell because the kids didn't know that the company which provided such a high standard of living for their families is evil to its blackened core.They have to figure out what we already know.
And, yes, the ease with which the characters seemed to gain and then dismiss important information was frustrating. They'd just realize something and then say, "Well, now doesn't seem like the right time to deal with this--I'm too hungry, and my friend stubbed his toe, and I need to feed the pine marten--so I'll just sit on this importante tidbit for a few days."
But by the end3, it had much improved. Something was happening!
So. I give The Gathering...
...3 zombies.
It took forever and a day to get going, and it ended right when it was getting good, but I like where the series seems to be headed so I'm looking forward to seeing what develops--especially in regards to certain characters' abilities...

i am
zombie girrrl
& this got
but then
it ended

1. "A bit" being about 30 minutes.
2. For the first 230 of 359 pages, hardback.
3. Which, let me warn you now, is one of the biggest cliff hangers I've ever read. Seriously, the scene just ended in the middle of the action and I was like, "Wait. That's the end? It had just gotten good!"

Currently Reading The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong...

...and it is dull, dull, dull. I feel bad saying that because I liked the Darkest Powers series so much and was so looking forward to reading this book, but it's true. I feel like nothing much happened until page 237, and that every time Maya gets close to finding something interesting, or at least reacting in some interesting way to something potentially interesting, she backs off. I'm into the late 200's now and it's finally staring to pick up, but I feel almost like Kelley picked the wrong character to follow. You see, there's this other girl, a peripheral character really, who is actually doing stuff and digging around and asking questions, and I'm left wondering, "Why aren't I reading about her?"
So, you can count this as my review because I don't feel like sitting down and racking my brain over what this was really saying1 and how I felt about the flow2 and the characters3 and the story4, yet I still wanted to say something about this book because I'd been looking forward to reading it so much.
I'll admit that the problem might not lie solely with the book, though; it might also be that I'm a bit emotionally shell shocked after losing my cat5 and I can't seem to get into it as fully as I'd like. With that in mind, I will be reading the second book when it comes out and judging from there whether I'll read the rest of this series. My hope is that this series will pick up in book two, because I do like this world and her writing style, but I'm chalking The Gathering up as a fail, for whatever reason.

i am
zombie girrl
& this was
a snooze fest
that i'm going
to write off as
a bad start

1. Nothing much, as far as I can tell.
2. It's slooooooow.
3. I actually really like the characters, especially Maya and Daniel and the dynamic between them. It's one of those friendships that you are either blessed to have, or wish you had.
4. So much untapped potential! So many mishandled clues! So much that the characters seem to know without knowing what they know... if that makes any sense. Like, weird things happen to the characters and they brush it off as being a normal "personal quirk" or talent that some people have.
5. She's not dead, so please don't send condolences, but she isn't coming back. Short story: she wasn't as much of a stray as I thought and her family finally showed up to take her "home". Honestly, after a year and half, I think they just should've let sleeping dogs, or contented cats, lie. I miss her6.
6. *Understatement of the year*

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Take On: Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve

Fever Crumb is a1 girl who has been adopted and raised by Dr. Crumb, a member of the order of Engineers, where she serves as apprentice. In a time and place where women are not seen as reasonable creatures, Fever is an anomaly, the only female to serve in the order. Soon though, she must say goodbye to Dr. Crumb-nearly the only person she's ever known-to assist archeologist Kit Solent on a top-secret project. As her work begins, Fever is plagued by memories that are not her own and Kit seems to have a particular interest in finding out what they are. Fever has also been singled out by city-dwellers who declare her part Scriven. The Scriveners, not human, ruled the city some years ago but were hunted down and killed in a victorious uprising by the people. If there are any remaining Scriven, they are to be eliminated. All Fever knows is what she's been told: that she is an orphan. Is Fever a Scriven? Whose memories does she hold? Is the mystery of Fever, adopted daughter of Dr. Crumb, the key to the secret that lies at the heart of London?
If Hayao Miyazaki were to write a book, this would be it.
Fever Crumb was utterly original, palpable, and strongly visuallized novel based in a distant future that bears the blurry shadows of our own culture.
Archeologists, a very important faction in the city of London, dig up remnants of the past, such as misunderstood tech. The very earth is permeated with our refuse from when the high-tech Now crumbled into the nearly alchemical and superstitious Future.
Even the language and culture was pregnant with slang and beliefs derived from our current pop culture: blog(ger) was a well-used substitute for certain explitives and Harry Potter was briefly mentioned as being some sort of prophet with a zealous following. The nods to the misunderstood past were hurmorous, well-placed, and gave this otherwise fanciful story a root in reality. It also helped show how much knowledge Fever's world had lost, how much continuity they lacked between our present and this future. Not that it was a very realistic story, though--this isn't some sort of cautionary tale. Which brings me, I think, back to Myazaki.
The plot was somehow reminescent of an anime movie: Our hero, surounded by mystery in regards to their origin, must discover who they are; there's a lot of heavy drama playing out around them, including politics and a past and impending war; the boundary between good and evil is found to be not nearly as black and white as it was originally assumed to be; and the ending, well, it wasn't very... end-y. I know that there's another book after this2, but as I read the last few lines and came to realize that, indeed, this was where the book would end, I couldn't help but think of the ending of Howl's Moving Castle3 when the exilude began playing while the characters were still trying to work things out and tie off those loose ends. Not that I'm complaining.
But it was more than just the vague similarity between the plot style and anime movies, it was also the vibe. From the very first scene in which Dr. Crumb and Fever are making Paper Boys on the roof of Godshawk's Head in the middle of a smokey London, I visualized this as an anime movie. And a bloggin' good one, too. It just didn't work out my mind unless I was visualizing it thusly. Again, not that I'm complaining.
It was a bit slow going, I'll admit, but this book made up for it in sheer coolness.
I give Fever Crumb...
...four zombies!
There wasn't a lot to read into with this one, no hidden truths that I could discern beside the important role of the Church in tending the flocks and keeping the paths clear, but Fever Crumb was genuinely fun to read.

i am
zombie girrrl
& this book
is different

1. 14 year-old (I felt this needed to be mentioned somewhere sort of official because I kept forgetting hor young she was, probably because she was very clinical and logical; somethign that also made it hard to get attached to her.)
2. As well as a whole other series, this being the first book in the prequel series to The Hungry City series which is about "Municipal Darwinism", something that sounds both extremely awesome as well as a bit mysterious but is actually exactly what it sounds like: survival of the fittest city.
3. The movie, not the book. I actually can't remember the ending of the book all that well.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

My Take On: The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

basis, n.
There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you’re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.
If the moment doesn’t pass, that’s it—you’re done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it’s even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover’s face.
How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.
To be quite blunt, this was an utterly original book about the stinginess of modern love. Yet The Lover's Dictionary was nevertheless an addictive read with style, wit, and, if not moral integrity and sincerity, at least honesty.
It was not, however, YA. This book is about two adults, in a very adult relationship, dealing with the very adult consequences of their not so very adult decisions. Also, there is a good deal of swearing, including several F's, a couple GD's and one use of a worse word. Yeah, apparently there is one.
So, while I would not recommend this to teens--because it really isn't written for teens, no matter what Levithan's past publications or its being shelved in my libraries YA section may lead one to believe--and while I do not agree with the relationship it flaunts as being the modern norm, it was, nonetheless, a good read. It read something like an Anne Hathaway movie, actually. At least, that's what I was thinking of while I was reading it. Just not the fluffy princess kind. More the hook-up kind that I only ever see the previews of and then snub as being too smutty for my taste. But, thankfully, there wasn't anything strictly explicit in this book, though I did skip a few definitions. But I digress.
As for the stinginess I mentioned above: if this book truly is a portrait of modern love, then we are a very poor generation of lovers. The image it painted was one of love being a mere feeling, something that is fleeting and that can be gone in an instant like sunshine behind a cloud, and while that description may be true of such things as trust or amusement, it is not an accurate depiction of love.
Love is one person willing the good of another. It's a decision to do right by them and to take care of them and never willingly hurt them. Love is a choice that must be made several times a day: I will forgive/apologize because I love you; I will be chaste because I love you; I will commit to this relationship 100% by marrying you because I love you; I will make this work because I choose to love you. It was this self sacrifice, which is the true nature of love itself, that the relationship in the Dictionary was missing. Like a cake with no leaven or a smile that never reaches the eyes, without self-sacrifice, there was just something essential missing. This was the type of relationship in which no one is fully commited and everyone is on tenterhooks about it falling apart suddenly like a paper balloon in the rain. And while I appreciate that this cavalier mindset is some peoples' reality, I don't appreciate this view of love being perpetuated as the new norm.
The truth is, there is no new norm of love. Love is and always will be what God made it to be, and anything less is exactly that: less.
I give The Lover's Dictionary...
...three zombies.
It was a stylishly written, interesting look at the flippant outlook people have come to possess of love, as well as a thought provoking look at selfishness in the place of selflessness and how that can altar a relationship from being something beautiful and wholesome to something that causes nearly constant grief and anxiety punctuated by rays of pleasure or affection.

i am
zombie girrrl
& love's got
a lot to do
with everything

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Take On: I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder

Girl meets boy.

Girl loses boy.

Girl gets boy back...

...sort of.

Ava can't see him or touch him, unless she's dreaming. She can't hear his voice, except for the faint whispers in her mind. Most would think she's crazy, but she knows he's here.
Jackson. The boy Ava thought she'd spend the rest of her life with. He's back from the dead, as proof that love truly knows no bounds.
This is the first novel I've read that was written in verse. In fact, it had never really occured to me, until quite recently, that someone would write a novel in this format. I was a bit unsure as to whether I would like it--would there be enough character development, what about backdrop and details and sub-plots?1--but I need not have worried.
It's true that there wasn't a whole lot of detail in regards to backdrop and apsolutely no sub-plots, there wasn't space for it in this spartan style, but it never detracted from the story. And you really can't complain about it not having enough character developement, even though the book is very short and only took a couple hours to read, because the whole book was based on the developement of Ava, who narates the story, as she grieves the boyfriend she lost and learns to live again.
Another thing about this book that is worth mentioning is the false impression I had of it as being yet another paranormal book. Yes, there is a ghost. Yes, he communicates with his girlfriend in ghostly ways--in her dreams2, by turning on the radio3, or by poltergeisting her room and breathing cold ghosty breath down her neck. But, and this is a big "but", this is not so much about Ava being haunted by her dead ex as it is about her dealing with the grief and guilt of his sudden death. And it's the second emotion, guilt, that really kept me reading. In fact, I was about to get bored with the story of Ava being sad and Jackson being dead when I was thrown a line of intrigue. How did he die? Why does Ava feel responsible? Why did Jackson come back at all4? Schroeder struck a very good balance by adding that aspect of mystery and shame, and the answers were revealed at the perfect pace.
I give I Heart You, You Haunt Me...
...4 1/2 zombies!
This is a quick, satisfying read that explores the themes of life, death, guilt, grief, and how true love never dies yet yearns always for the best of the beloved.

i am
zombie girrrl
& this was
than it was

1. Furthermore, would it rhyme? Because that's a deal breaker. I am happy to report that this book is not written in rhyme.
2. Which is insanely awkward though, thankfully, not dwelled on too long nor described in great detail.
3. Music plays a large-ish part in setting the emotional tone between Ava and the late, great, bald-pate Jackson.
4. Ghost Rule #1: a ghosts can't move on if they have baggage or unfinished business.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Harry Potter and the Most Terrible News Ever T_T

With my Lenten reading fast1 over, I was eagerly looking forward to reading some secular books. My sisters and I had a Potter movie-thon a while ago, and that got me craving some Harry Potter, so the first thing I decided to read this Easter season was The Sorcerer's Stone. I started it today, and already I'm halfway done.
That's not the bad news.
This is: It's falling apart! My first edition hardback, which has been read well over thirty times2 is coming apart at the seams. The spine and the pages no longer imparentato3.

Saddest sight
I just realized that the title of this post might have freaked some of you out. You might have clicked it with the expectations of an obituary or the announcement of a new ending to the Harry Potter movie saga. But the only news, aside from the release date of book 8, Harry Potter and the Aurors of Darkness4, is that my favorite series is falling apart.

i am
zombie girrrl
& i need glue

1  I gave up reading secular, or non-Christian, books for Lent. It was a pretty rewarding expeirnce and I'll be reading more Christian books regularly.
2  I have three sisters. We share this series. We all reread it in its entirety before the release of a new volume. 4 x 7 + bonus reads = a whole lot. We are Potter heads.
3  Itialano for "connected", something which no longer describes the spine and pages of this book.
4 Just kidding. There's not going to be an 8th book. But wasn't that a cool title?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Prayer Request

I'm breaking my Holy Week hiatus for one reason only, and that is to ask you all to join me and countless other Catholics in praying the most powerful prayer in existence, the Rosary, on one of the holiest days of the Church year, Good Friday.
Imagine what might happen if every Catholic in the world would pray a Rosary on the same day! We have an example in October of 1573, when Europe was saved from the invasion of the mighty Turkish fleet, by the praying of the Rosary by all Christians!
So, on Good Friday, let us all pray a Rosary for peace in the world and the return of moral values into our communities. If possible, please pray your Rosary between Noon and 3:00 p.m.
Please pass this message to every Catholic on you know, and ask them to pass it along to every Catholic they know. Let's unite in praying one of the most powerful prayers in existence, for these intentions, on one of the holiest days in our Church year.
Thank you! I hope you will join me in seeking the intercession of our Blessed Mother for these intentions.

Have a blessed Triduum and a glorious Easter.

i am
zombie girrrl
& i pray
for you

Monday, April 18, 2011

Holy Week Hiatus

I haven't had time recently to post anything, and I'm going to have less time until after Easter, so I'll make it official. I'm going on a blog hiatus for Holy Week, the most blessed week of the whole liturgucal year.
So, have a blessed Holy Week, and may this season draw you closer to Jesus and eternity in His Kingdom!

i am
zombie girrl
and this is
my time of year

Monday, April 4, 2011

Daily Dose the Third

Shadows of Shadows of Shadows

Gale and Peeta Have Been Given a Dye Job

I'm not really the type to follow movie news, but this needed to be posted because the casting folks got their hair backwards. Josh is going to play the blondey Peeta, and Liam is going to play the raven-haired Gale. But don't worry about them having the opposite hair color from the characters they're going to portray, because I fixed it.
Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth
Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson
I gotta say, Liam makes a better brunette than Josh does a blonde. Also, why is Josh's forehead so big?! Whoops. Hopefully the hair and makeup people will do a better job than I did.

I am
Zombie Girrrl
& I am bad at scalping

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Five

You know you've fallen behind on posting when your F5s are practically cheek-to-cheek, but...
  1. Going to Stations of the Cross with my family tonight, just like every Friday of Lent. My patron saint is Saint Veronica, the woman who "flouted the Romans" by stepping out of the crowd and wiping Jesus' face as He struggled to carry His Cross to Calvary, which is depicted in the sixth Station. I love the Stations, which is part of the reason I chose St. Veronica; the other reason is that she helped Jesus, she showed Him love when he needed it the most, and for that I love her enough that I wish to be like her. If you haven't experienced this traditional devotion for yourself, I suggest you do. It gives you a whole new appreciation of the Passion. And it doesn't matter what denomination you are; if you love Christ, then take the time to walk the Way of Sorrow with Him.
  2. My current obsession is origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. So far I've made a tulip, an ugly lily (didn't turn out as it should have), a dove, and a flock of orizuru (cranes). I can now make a crane without consulting a diagram! I find all of the patterns, along with some handy photos and links to instructions, at Origami, a blog devoted entirely to origami. What else.
  3. Lenten Reading Fast update: I have begun reading Life of Christ by Fulton Sheen and it is a-mazing! I want to quote it at least every other page. I'm only to the second chapter, but he's already blown my mind a bit with his explanation of eternity. Not an easy concept to grasp as we are finite creatures who cannot wrap our minds fully around what eternity is, but it was fun to read about. The reason he was trying to explain eternity: the prologue to the Gospel of John, "In the beginning was the Word, etc." It's not like he's shown me anything new, but he's helped me to see it more clearly, which is perhaps even better.
  4. I volunteered at the food bank on Monday with my dad and two of my three sisters. It was a lot of fun. Everyone there was so nice. We helped 245 people, a new record for that food bank. I'm really looking forward to going again next month (the FB only operates once a  month). I wish I could write more about that experience, but anything else I could say would come off as either boastful or sickeningly sentimental. Sometimes you have such a good time doing something good that words just can't do it justice.
  5. Tomorrow is a very busy day at church and beyond. First is Mass, then a brunch followed by a Lenten reflection, Reconciliation (part of the First Saturday Devotion), then the newly Confirmed are doing a service project. Oh, yeah! My Confirmation kids were Cofirmed last Saturday! Hurray!!! (I think I saw my librarian there, too...) The Cofirmation Mass was one of the proudest, most humbling, happiest yet at the same time sad events of my life. Proud because God had called me to work with these amazing kids; humbling because I didn't really have anything to do with their being up there, they were called by God to join His Church; happy because they're now as fully incorporated into the Body of Christ as they will be on this earth; and sad because my time as their catechist is over. I'm going to miss having them as a class.

I am
Zombie Girrrl
& I gotta
go or I'll
be late for
Sations of the Cross

Monday, March 28, 2011

Daily Dose the Second

Theme: Cloud 9

A hint for next week...
I am
Zombie GiRRRl
and they all look
like cherubim to me.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Five

In which I regale you with the happenings of my life.
  1. My Lenten reading fast is going... well. I'm craving a little Harry Potter and there are a bunch of books I won these past couple months that I would very much like to read, but it's nice to purge the ol' system of God-less books and read something where He is as much the focus as He should be. Not that I've had much time to read lately, though...
  2. Because my Confirmation kids are being Confirmed by the bishop TOMORROW. I can't believe it's here already. FYI: I'm a Roman Catholic and a catechist, basically a Sunday school teacher, at my church and help teach the Confirmation class, which are the 9th and 10th grade kids who are (were) preparing to receive the last Sacrament of Innitiation (there are 3: Baptism, which all Christians have in common; Confirmation, in which we are strengthened and sealed by the Holy Spirit; and Eucharist, which, as the Body of Christ, is the regular nourishment that a soul requires, etc.). Anywhoodle. Please pray for them and all the confirmandi that they will receive with open hearts and willing spirits the strength and Gifts that they need to live bravely their Christian vocations. Thanks!
  3. I volunteered at my local Humane Society animal shelter last Friday, and I highly reccomend that y'all do the same. I went with my Confirmation kids as part of a service project they decided to do while on retreat, and, seriously, it is so rewarding. All we did was walk and wash dogs and love on some kitties, but that's all you have to do! The animals just want to be out of their cages and with people, and giving them the exercise and attention they need is a lot of fun. The staff were saints, I mean, to be able to love and care for that many animals, and they were all so well cared for even though the shelter was run down and underfunded. And I just want to say: whatever stigma you may have about shelter dogs, about them maybe being mean biters or that they're there for a reason, is wrong. Those were the sweetest dogs and cats, and they just wanted love. So, next time you're looking for a family pet, go to the shelter! Oh, yeah, and the dog I walked was a basset hound/ labrador mix named Snicker. He was the sweetest thing with the stubbiest legs! I called him Embassidor Snicker. Get it? Bassit labridor? I crack myself up.
  4. Spring has sprung! Not really news (especially if you live up North and have seen neither hide nor hair of the elusive spring), but I'm just so happy! I wore shorts this week. Shorts! Jubilation!
  5. And lastly, an example of what happens when I try to write an essay about zombies. But first, a brief explanation: On Random Buzzers, the site where you earn "buzz bucks" to buy Random House books by doing challenges, there was one such challege where you had to write a 200 word essay about what you would look like as a zombie. Everytime I began writing, I became carried away and wound up writing something along the lines of this:
The wounds on my arms burns, but it’s nothing compared with the heaviness in my limbs or the helium in my head. I feel as though my body were sinking into a thick, dark ocean of fire while my head—or maybe my soul—was floating away on a zephyrous breeze. Floating, yet still anchored to my failing body, fully aware of what is happening.
I am on fire.
I am drowning in fire.
I stagger on, breathing heavily and colliding with trees, their bark rough beneath my leaden fingers. The earth pitches beneath my feet and I sink to the leafy floor like St. Peter in his moment of doubt. I land hard on my seat and the impact causes me to bite my tongue. My mouth is flooded with the metallic sweetness of blood, but the pain is no worse than anything else I am feeling. Or maybe there is no more pain. Maybe I’m beyond pain. I know now that I am beyond help.
I think of my family piling into the car as the cacophonous, collective moan of the hoard drew nearer, of my mother screaming as a lone figure rounded the corner of our house and lurched toward us with the inevitability of time.
I froze.
When I finally did move, it went all wrong. I was not used to wielding blunt weapons and I did not know how to take a person down quickly—or that it was better in some instances to run. He got inside my swing and—and…
My family left me.
I am glad they did.
Looking down at my hands, because I cannot lift my head anymore, I see that my fingers have turned ashen, the nails are bruised and blue-tinged. The toothy wounds no longer bleed; I can see the whiteness of my bones beneath. I try to wiggle my fingers, but they do not want to respond. My mind is playing a riff from a song I can no longer name, but the deadened flesh will not move.
I want to cry.
I want to scream.
I try to do both but the only thing that escapes my lips is that dreadful moan. It scares me so badly that I quickly stop. I listen hard for a second—or a minute, who knows—sure that the noise came from something else, but it was me. I know it. I know what I am becoming. What I nearly am.
I want my mom.
I want her to hold me and say that everything is going to be okay.
I want her to lie to me, and I want to believe it.
I want…
My head lolls onto my shoulder and I see the gleam of still, cool water. I want it. I am on fire.
Somehow I manage to drag my dying body to the edge of the pool and prop myself up on my numb elbows. Looking into the sudden depth of the water, the leaves shimmering around my head, I see myself for what I have become. I am grey with dark bruises beneath my eyes. There is blood dripping down my chin; my own blood, I know, but it seems more like a vision of what will be. My hair is matted with sweat and leaves and there is even a blue feather stuck in there. I marvel at the beauty of it, contrasting so perfectly with the red of the blood and the green of the leaves. Then I meet my own gaze.
The primal, animalistic, throat-rending cry tears its way out of my mouth and it will not stop. I cannot stop screaming after seeing the dull, hateful hunger in my own eyes.
I am horror.
Finally, my arms give out and I am silenced by the coolness of the water.
The string that attached my soul to my body, fine as spider silk, snaps with a soft sort of feeling. It is almost a relief to be free of the fire-ridden, heavy body.
For a moment, I see myself from above, lying face-down in the water. I feel a tug from behind me, but I want to see what happens next. The tug is insistent, though not threatening in the least, but it yields to my curiosity. I float for a moment longer watching my body. It does not move, and relief floods my soul—for that is all that I am now. A soul.
The body in the water is not me anymore. So I know that it is not my will that causes it to stir. Not by my will does it raise its dreadful head and rise to its uncertain feet. Not by my will does it turn back toward the town I fled from hours ago, back toward the neighbors and families I loved too much to endanger by dying on familiar ground.
The teeth that were mine gnash the air. The fingers with which I played music grasp at the victim which is not yet before it.
I turn toward the warm, tugging Presence behind me, tired of this world and its endless suffering, and am taken Home.

This happened several times. The essay-turned-story, I mean, not turning into a zombie. Obviously. Zombies can't type. Anyway. I finally just took the shortest of the "essays" and butchered it down to the mandatory 200 words. It is nowhere near as good as it was, but it fit their requirement. Will I win the signed Carrie Ryan books that were the grand prize of this challenge? Probably not. Could I have if they had let me use all 500 or so words that I wanted? You tell me.

i am
zombie girrrl
and i rather detest
word restrictions

Monday, March 21, 2011

Daily Dose the First

Props to Good Golly Miss Holly for this, the most beautiful of memes!

Theme: Not Just for Scribbles

I am
Zombie GiRRRl
and I like
crayon smell

PS Here's a segue into next week's theme...
OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

Blank Spaces Have Great Potential...