Saturday, January 29, 2011

Frosty the Snowman: A Tale of Terror and Holiday Cheer

Woops! I haven't done one of these in a long time. I meant to post this little ditty sometime during Christmas, but at first it seemed rather irreverent, then I just plum forgot about it.
So anyway...
A long while back, after posting the rewritten "Every Body (Backstreet's Back)" lyrics, I received the following challenge via comment from none other than M.A.D. (aka Mary Ann DeBorde; reader, writer, and fellow zombie lit enthusiast):
Mary Ann: Okay. I am now OFFICIALLY tossing down the gauntlet to ya (hehe)
ZG: Bring it!
Mary Ann: Let's see what morbid, post-mortem deliciousness you can do with... FROSTY THE SNOWMAN!
ZG: *gasp!* Oh, it's on like Donkey Kong!

And now, without further ado, or faux-macho posturing, I give you the dark and twisted tale of...

Frosty the Snowman
Frosty the snowman was a dark and twisted soul,
With a brimstone pipe and a broken nose
And two eyes that burned like coals.
Frosty the snowman is a fairy tale, they say,
He died in the snow but the children
Know he came back to life one day.
There must have been a curse trapped in that
Old candle they found.
For when they burned it on his grave
On his coffin he did pound.
O, Frosty the snowman
Was alive as he could be,
And the children say he would slice
And flay and come after you and me.
Thumpetty thump thump,
Thumpety thump thump,
Look out, here he comes!
Thumpetty thump thump,
Thumpety thump thump,
The devil's on the run.

Frosty the snowman knew
He'd soon meet his demise,
So he said, "Let's run,
We'll kill everyone
Now before I'm exorcised."
Down to the village,
With a big blade in his hand,
Running here and there all
Around the square hissing,
"Catch me if you can."
He led them down the streets of town
Right to the traffic cop.
His blade never paused a moment
Even when he hollered "Stop!"
But Frosty the snow man
Was banished by a priest,
But he waved goodbye saying,
"I can't die,
I'll be back again to feast."
Thumpetty thump thump,
Thumpety thump thump,
Look out, here he comes!
Thumpetty thump thump,
Thumpety thump thump,
The devil's on the run.

Share that one with the kiddies. On second thought, don't. It even creeps me out, and it came my brian!

Friday, January 28, 2011

My Take On: The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

Seventeen-year-old Jenna Fox has just awoken from a year-long coma—so she’s been told—and she is still recovering from the terrible accident that caused it. But what happened before that? She’s been given home movies chronicling her entire life, which spark memories to surface. But are the memories really hers? And why won’t anyone in her family talk about the accident? Jenna is becoming more curious. But she is also afraid of what she might find out if she ever gets up the courage to ask her questions. What happened to Jenna Fox? And who is she really?
This futuristic book looks at the consequences of medical advancements and asks what it means to be human.

I don't want to write a rave, but I'm afraid that is what this will turn into anyway. The truth is that this book was just plain amazing. The characters and back story, the questions asked and answered, the relevance of the story--it all lined up for me to make for very good reading.

  Jenna is a pitiable and relatable girl who has one problem: She can't remember anything about her life. Not her favorite color, or if she had friends, or what foods she likes. She can recite literature as if were before her eyes, yet she struggles with basic colloquial English and with reading peoples' faces. These and other things about her life lead her to make a disturbing and life and altering discovery--the likes of which I'm sure you'll be able to guess before the book reveals it, but which I will not be mentioning lest I ruin the story for you.
  This book had, not only some serious moral questions about how far is too far with the advancements of medicine and prosthetics, but also religious undertones that kept me satisfied. Jenna's grandmother, who seems to hate her for unknown reasons, is a devout woman, and through her Jenna comes to question the existence of her very soul. It was interesting, to say the least, reading about Jenna's identity struggle and having it put on such a profound level. It was also deeply satisfying to see how that particular struggle resolved itself.
  The whole book, while focusing mainly on Jenna and her search for the truth, also shows the true life struggle of a family going through the nightmare of nearly losing a child and coming to grips with that beloved child growing into their own person. What they ultimately need to learn is that it's not about letting go so much as holding on less tightly.
  Jenna struggles, not just with her humanity and the world around her, but with her role as the object of adoration of her devoted parents and the pressure she feels to be perfect and please them.
  Awesome story telling, great character development, loads of depth, and an ending that you'll read two or three times before setting the book down make this lightly-scifi tale of the meaning of humanity worthy of...
...five zombies.
An excellent book with a lot of depth and morality, and just the right amount of scifi-ness, makes this one of the best I read in 2010.

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Take On: Nomansland by Lesley Hauge

Sometime in the future, after devastating wars and fires, a lonely, windswept island in the north is populated solely by women. Among these women is a group of teenaged Trackers—expert equestrians and archers—whose job is to protect their shores from the enemy. The enemy, they’ve been told, is men.
When these girls come upon a partially buried home from the distant past, they are fascinated by the strange objects—high-heeled shoes, teen magazines, make-up—found there. What are they to make of these mysterious things, which introduce a world they have never known? And what does it mean for their strict society where friendship is forbidden and rules must be obeyed—at all costs?
Reminiscent of The Giver but with a feminist twist, Nomansland is a powerful, shocking story that will challenge young readers’ perspectives and provoke much discussion over the timely and controversial issues presented.

Nomansland is a love it or hate kind of book. You're either going to love the symbolism and thought provoking nature of it, or you're going to hate the lack of action and dialogue-driven writing.
Personally, I loved it. Based on the synopsis, I was expecting more action. I mean, it's about teenaged equestrian archers fighting off men, right? Yes and no.

The story is a first person account of Keller, a young Novice Tracker, who discovers that the world she knew isn't what it seems. The writing was without flourish, but then, so was Keller and the world she lived in. The landscape was as harsh and grey as the society she was raised in; iron skies to match the iron fists.
What really makes this book stand out to me is the thought provoking views of femininity and the question: What does it mean to be a woman? To some members of the austere Foundland society, it means sneaking into the nursery where the girl children live to sing them to sleep; to others it means pinching your cheeks till their quite red in a forbidden attempt to look beautiful; but to most of the women, it is a mystery.
Keller was raised thinking that anything "feminine" was evil; they call these evils Pitfalls. There are seven Pitfalls: reflection, decoration, coquetry, triviality, vivacity, compliance, and sensuality. It is these seven rules that give the women their identity and keep them from dwelling on such trivial things as vanity and friendship, yet at the same time they cause their lives to be trivial and empty in a different way. The Pitfalls are seen as the very root of the weakness from the Time Before that Keller's society tries so hard to forget. Their women are one, they are unified, they are strong. Yet they are lonely. And they have no idea of the true power of women because they are raised in fear of their true selves, of every womanly inclination.

In this society, girls are raised from birth to fear men, who were portrayed as slavering barbarian animals bent on savaging and conquering them and their island. They live a delicate balance between fear and loyalty. I'd say that there was a certain level of Stockholm-Syndrome going on in this tale because Keller both loved her society and was willing to toil and even die for it, yet she lived in constant fear that the leaders would come bearing the Seed or that they would be locked away in the Darkness, possibly never to return, or else receive cruel beatings. Their society practiced a variety of evils that I found appalling, the most offensive of which pertained to the murder of all male infants and the forced impregnation of chosen women, though these points were veiled or not really spoken of. They were incredibly, and realistically, taboo.
There were many views of femininity portrayed in this novel--from out and out fear and misunderstanding of it, to the vain embrace of beauty as the pinnacle of it, to a disordered view that one sex can exist completely without the other, and even a healthy view of masculinity and femininity's compatibility. I feel that all sides were told here; from rational to irrational; from true womanliness to extreme, radical feminism. For me, reading from a Christian perspective, I found the most normal, healthy, and true understanding of what it means to be a woman in those characters who, despite the threat of punishment and the fear that they were raised with, discovered that man and woman were not meant to be enemies. They complement each other because they were made for each other, and one cannot live solely without the other, not in the way that the Foundlanders did.
I give Nomansland...
...five zombies!
I was afraid Nomansland would be a thinly veiled feminist rant about how women don't really need men or how they can deny their nature, but I need not have been worried. The moral of this story is that womanhood is a uniquely powerful blessing. Some people make it seem like a burden or a disease, and that makes me sick, but Hauge portrayed womanhood as being a strength and, ultimately, that woman cannot exist without man, and vice versa. That's what makes this one of the best books I read in 2010.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Walk For Life

Today's the big day. Bigger for some than others, such as those lucky enough to go to DC, but big nonetheless. I'll be participating in a local Walk for the Respect of Life later today to show my support for life and to execrate1 the legalized murder that is abortion.
It would be easy for me to just say that I'm "ProLife" and be done with it, but I think it would really be far more productive to explain why I am. It would also make for more interesting reading for y'all.

The reasons I utterly detest abortion are simple. A life is a life, and every life is a gift from God. To destroy something, and by "something" I really mean someone, that He created is evil. It's evil to kill a baby in their mother's womb, just as it is evil to kill a baby in their mother's arms. Your pulling a trigger. Your ending a life.
But that brings up that whole, "When is a life a life?" debate, which you'd think would be a whole nest of thorns that could never be untangled, but really it's quite easy to debunk. Life begins at conception. Simple as that. An embryo in the womb is a human being from the moment the cells come together; what else could it be other than human life? An unborn baby, no matter how early on in the stages of development it is, is a living human being from the moment it was conceived because it was created by the union of two humans. It cannot be anything but a human being. Furthermore, and brace yourselves, because I'm pulling out the big guns, the Bible says, after the angel of Lord visited Mary and she conceived by the Holy Spirit, that she visited her cousin Elizabeth because she was also with child, and, "When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out, 'Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb [Jesus].'"2 Jesus was Jesus from the moment he was conceived, and the same is true for us as well because He was True God and True Man. And notice the wording; Elizabeth didn't say, "Blessed will be the fruit of your womb." She said, "Blessed is." That one verb explains simply and completely the value of a human life from conception to natural death.
Another reason I loathe abortion is because of the havoc it wreaks on our world and on individual souls. In our world, the further propagation of abortion increases sexism. Now, hear me out. We've been led to believe that birth control has set us free, that being able to "do it" the same as guys and not have to worry about getting pregnant has given women a leg up in the world. But the truth is that birth control and abortion turn sex and the natural consequences there of--that being the creation of another human life-- into something less than it was ever meant to be, and thus it turns partners into something less than they are meant to be. By saying that sex is for anything other than giving love, you are saying that people are meant for something less love. It turns people into objects of pleasure, into material things with less value. But every human being who has ever or will ever live, even if they are denied the fundamental right of being born, is of far more value than you could ever hope to comprehend. God loves each and every one of us as if we were the only person He had ever created. You are unrepeatable and irreplaceable, as is every other human being. That is why it's so wrong to kill someone, even an unborn or unwanted baby, because God so loves that person that He gave up His only Son.
As for the aforementioned havoc wreaked on individual souls: Killing is a sin. A big, big, big sin. It stems from pride, which is putting yourself or your will above the divine will of God, and such an act destroys the sanctifying grace in your soul. Basically, it runs Jesus' presence out of your soul and utterly destroys the relationship you have with God. I cannot possibly stress how bad this is. It's the difference between heaven, eternal happiness in the Presence of God, and hell, eternal separation from the divine and glorious Presence of God. We're talking life and death here, the life of your soul. So, one of the biggest reasons I hate abortion is because it will cause people to lose eternity with God. God wants to be with all of you in heaven. It's what you were made for. But if you choose to kill a person, to destroy someone that God loves in defiance of His will--and his will for pregnant ladies is that they bear children--then you are in extreme danger of losing that eternal happiness.
Now I want to make a couple things crystal clear; I am not condemning anyone. It's not my place to do so, and even if were, I wouldn't want anyone to. Furthermore, I hold only grief and remorse in my heart toward those women who choose to subject themselves to such a horrendous and scarring procedure. I can't imagine what that must make you feel, and I wish that i could turn everyone of you away from it for your and your baby's sake.

And lastly, I have a little story to share: Dorothy Day, a woman who is destined to be a saint, had an abortion. But she repented. She realized that what she had done was fundamentally wrong and offensive to God, and she asked for His forgiveness. She joined His Church, and turned her life completely around.
I once heard someone very wise say that the True Cross is located before the gates of hell, and that Jesus will do anything to keep even one soul from going through them.
I hope that by walking today and by posting this, that I'm helping Jesus turn people away from this most grievous sin and toward His eternal love and forgiveness.

Please join us in prayer to end abortion and save lives3--and souls.

1.  Definition of EXECRATE
     transitive verb
    1: to declare to be evil or detestable : denounce
    2: to detest utterly
2.  NAB, Saint Joseph Edition. Luke 1:41-42.
3.  3,600 lives a day.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Contest Alert!

Here's DL1, the skinny, the deets, the 411 and what all the hullabaloo is about: Ren2 of All by MySHELF3 is hosting a contest in celebration of her new layout!
One winner will have their choice of the following titles:

Dead is Not an Option by Marlene Perez
Outside In by Maria V. Snyder
Serpent's Coil by Christy Raedeke.

Ends Jan. 20th at 11:59 pm.
For more details and to enter click HERE.

Good luck!

1.  "LD" stands for the "low down", a slang phrase meaning "information". Not to be confused with "DL" which is an abbreviation of "down low", meaning to keep something secret.
2.  The blogger formerly known as Dahlia
3.  The blog formerly known as Dahlia's Eclectic Mind. Personally, I'm glad she's changed the title to something with less Cs. It was sort of like a tongue twister, trying to type that!

My Take On: Flight #116 Is Down by Caroline B. Cooney

Teenager Heidi Landseth helps rescue people from a plane crash on her family's property, and the experience changes her life forever.

Just as the synopsis is brief, so too will my review be.

"There is no such thing as time... man invented it, but pain and fear are not acquainted with it,"1 though, Caroline B. Cooney proves that she is the master of it. This book is an old fall back for me because no matter how many times I read it, it still excites me, still gets the old juices flowing.
The story follows several characters' perspectives in a minute-by-minute, blow-by-blow writing style that lets you see the full scope of the event and feel a range of emotions. The change from calm to chaos to yet more chaos might seem a bit jarring to some, but that was the point. I enjoyed the stark difference between the nothingness of the families' breathless wait in the airport to the hellish havoc of the Dove House Crash2.
The story focuses on Heidi, an undervalued rich kid who happens to have a plane crash in her on her estate; Patrick, a junior EMT who longs for something, anything, to happen in his small town so he can really test his merit; Carly, a teenaged passenger on board the flight who wants nothing more than to go home and be reunited her with her twin after having run away; and Daniel, another teen passenger who, along with his younger brother, is going to his father's second wedding against his will. The story follows several other characters, but these are the main narrators.
In the space of one night, all of their lives are changed, some ended, by this one event. And we have a front row seat to the excitement! And I'm not being morbid; what really makes me love this book is the heroic, Good Samaritan nature of it. Everyone who showed up on the scene, and everyone showed up, had so much love to give. That was the point that Cooney returned to again and again: Love. Not everyone was a saint, and not everyone had a lot to contribute, but everyone did give, even if all they could do was brew coffee or hold a hand. And so many of the amazingly real, down to earth characters had a lot more than they could have conceived to give. take Heidi for instance; her parents have no pride in her and she feels that she is pretty near useless, but she rises to the occasion so well and keeps her head on her shoulders. She saves lives and makes friends and grows a sense of value in herself that she hadn't had before.
Okay, before I go on too much longer--I give this book...
...five zombies!
So my review wasn't as brief as I first intended, but it's not War and Peace long, so I'm pleased.

Happy reading, cheerio, and God bless you all,

1.  Quote taken from page 124.
2.  Heidi's century-old, palatial home was called Dove House because it looked a like a ginormous English dovecote. So, plane crash + Dove House = Dove House Crash. Heidi was not happy about this development.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The REAL #1 Killer in America

More lives are lost to this than to
                                   heart disease,
                                   lung disease,   
                       you name it.

In fact, in 2005, 49% of all deaths in the United States were caused by this.

And it was 100% preventable.

But don't take my word for it.

When I found this site earlier through Twitter1, I was blown away by the numbers. I felt like something drained out of me. 3,600 people are killed every day. By their mothers. It made me feel cold. Innocent human life taken by the ones that should cherish it the most.

So please. Watch the video. Visit the site. Face the facts. Make a change.
1. I found the link in a tweet by @Sr-Lisa, a sister in Rome, Italy, who enjoys graphic design and techy stuff. Her tweets are excellent; none of this trivial stuff that you see clogging up the Trends.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Take On: Winter Survival Gear

Yesterday there was so much snow that I couldn't leave my house. It started out with light flurries, which then turned to a heavy, fluffy snow, which then turned to sleat and freezing rain. This bout of bad weather got me thinking about all the things I was most thankful for, things that I couldn't survive winter without, and they are:
My teal Ugg boots. I got these five or six ago and they're still good as new. I've worn them snow tubing, through slushy parking lots, in the rain, everywhere.The insides are still as baby-soft and the color as bright as the first day I got them. I love these boots, not for the brand name, which I could honestly care less about, or because they garner so many complements, which frankly is a bit awkward, but because they're so high quality and as comfy as walking on fat, happy kittens. Comfier, even, because these don't scratch my ankles.
My skel-y gloves. I got these for Zombie Week from Velvet, and I love them. They're really cute, sort of quirky, and, most imporantly, warm. I love gloves with grips on them, and the skeleton grips on these are great. It's a touch of the macabre that makes winter chapped hands a little easier to deal with. You can find them at Zombies and Toys, an online zombie themed store, for a real steal; only 4 bucks. My only complaint is they're pilly as all get out, but the anatomically correct grips make up for it.
My Snuggie. I got it for Christmas, and it is the coziest, most unflattering thing ever. And when it comes to keeping warm, the less flattering something is, the warmer it is. I use it when I read, during family prayers, while playing video games, using the computer (yes, I'm wearing it right now), basically whenever I sit, which is a lot of the time. Two complaints for this one, even though I love it. 1: Not of the best quality. The seams are a sight and there are stray threads which should have been cut everywhere, but I guess that's what you should expect from something that's sold in drugstores. The arm seams are pretty sturdy, though, so no hard feelings. 2: It's hard to find the "upside." Seriously, the Snuggie folks should consider a new design; a solid color with a large arrow pointing toward the top end. It would make such a bold statement. "This side up."
And lastly, Mexican hot chocolate. It's not a product, so much as a beverage epiphany. While Googling for a picture of the stuff, I came across several very difficult steps for making this involving blenders and whisks, but I assure you, it is much easier than all that. You just make a regular cup of hot chocolate using whatever brand of instant stuff you like best, then add a tiny drop of vanilla extract, a generous sprinkle of cinnamon, and a dollop of whipped cream. Viola! Liquid delight. I'm insisting that you try it today, but be warned, once you try it, you won't go back to the regular stuff.
And that's how I survive my winters; with sheep-skin boots, funny gloves, a fleece slanket, and gallons of Mexican hot chocolate.
Oh, and I give all of these things...
...five zombies.

But all this leads me to wonder, what is it that gets you through the winter months?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

6 Degrees Reading Challenge 2011

Ren1 of the blog All By MySHELF2 is hosting what I hold to be the most fun and original reading challenge ever: 6 Degrees3!

As you see from the nifty badge, I have opted for the INFERNO level. I will be attempting to connect 24 books, starting with Fever Crumb. I've already worked out my 24 links and will be revealing them to you as I read them. I must say, some of the links are pretty clever4.
Da Rulez:
  • Be Creative - Books cannot be connected by author, genre, series, or publisher. Anything else goes. Using legitimate connections, you cannot connect more than 3 consecutive books from the same genre.
  • Deadline - All challenge books must be started and finished between January 1, 2011-December 31, 2011. Books started/read before signing up count as long as they're connected.
  • Data! Data! Data! - All connections must be listed on your challenge post.
  • Sharing is Caring - Books from other challenges count as long as they can be connected.
  • Make It Count - YA, mid-grade, children's, adult, graphic novels, mangas, and comic books count (all together now, "As long as they're connected."), but individual short stories DO NOT count. Books from the same series count as long as they're not read back to back (and try to limit the number of books you use from one series).
  • One Time Use - Connections and books can only be used once!
  • *singing* Put One Book In Front of the Other- You don't have to read all the challenge books back to back, but you do have to read them in the order that they're connected.

So anyhoo! I challenge you to accept this challenge!

1  The blogger formerly known as Dahlia.
2  The blog formerly known as Dahlia's Eclectic Mind.
3  Perhaps an homage to Kevin Bacon?
4  I am nothing if not humble. Oh, and awesome. So awesomely humble. Although, in all honesty and with not a trace of hubris, I can assure that it is pretty funny. At least it is to me, but then I am a bit biased. Also, I have my list and links completely memorized. I couldn't tell you ten books that I read in the order I read them, but I can list 24 with all the random factors that link them together off the top of my head.

Friday, January 7, 2011

My Take On: My Top 15 Reads of 2010

Another year, another crop of excellent books. Here are the top 15 books I read last year along with my brief thoughts on them. They're not listed in any particular order, mostly chronological as read. I tried to narrow it down to a nice round ten, but it just wasn't happening. Also, please note that all titles are linked to Good Reads.
And without further ado, I give you the best that 2010 had to offer...
1. Nightlife by Rob Thurman
    If you're looking for an action packed supernatural series that doesn't revolve around a "forbidden love," than this is for you! This book took the overused supernatural mold and smashed it to bits! It raised the bar on what has become an overly romanticized genre by getting back to the roots. The monsters are original and the story is so, so fresh. The Cal Leandros series is a new take on the old hat that supernatural has become and I would recommend it for men and women alike.
2. Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Manchev
    This world is so full and textural! The Theatre Luminata is officially my favorite fictional world. Manchev has woven, not only a great story, but an amazing world that was just as much a character as the protagonist! But the world, great as it is, is only half of the book. The characters are all borrowed from plays, but they've had new life breathed into them. And come on, who else has ever written a bad boy with a trailing cloud of butterflies? No one, that's who! Another completely original book, and an absolute must read.
3. The Inheritance by Louisa May Alcott
    This is not only a good story with immaculate and heartwarming characters, it's also got an interesting story of its own! This is the manuscript that "Jo" was working on for years and years in the novel Little Women! How's that for art imitating life? It definitely has the air of a first novel, too awesome characters and overuse of a favorite word or two, but I love it. Edith is one my favorite characters ever, and if I had to switch places with a character, it would be her because she is such a rare mix of purity, charity, and guts.
4. Hold Still by Nina LaCour
    This is a story that has stayed with me. It was heart breaking, and sometimes gut-wrenching, but the ending was nonetheless hopeful, and I loved the artistic aspect--I especially loved the sketches in Ingrid's journal. I read this one very early on in the year, but it has remained fresh in my mind and it still speaks to me, not only about the horrors of suicide, both to the soul and to the ones left to deal the loss, but of the importance of loving others and being there fully for them because you can never know what it's like to be in their skin.
5. Going Bovine by Libba Bray
    Besides being hilarious and tragic, this story asked a lot of pretty deep questions. Questions about life, how you live it, and what reality really is. The main thing I came away from this book with was a sense that life is fleeting and that our time on earth could come to an end at any time, so you better get your living done while you can! And to me, that doesn't mean go and party like Miley Cyrus or BASE jump off a sky scraper or anything crazy, it means make what you can with what you've got. Love your family no matter how flawed, know your friends and allow yourself to be known, and seek God always and with every ounce of your being; because you never know when your family will be gone, when you'll need true friends, or how soon you'll be meeting your Maker.
6. How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
    Finally, a boy/girl duo that is completely platonic! I'm so used to reading books where the boy and girl are forced into some convoluted, lust-driven "love" by the climax, or worse, the second page, and it drives me nuts. Why can't a book ever portray them as simply being friends? But no more, world! This books has taken that standard and dumped it on it's butt. In this book, Beatrice and Jonah are more than friends, yet not in a romantic way. One is the peanut butter to the others jelly. Their relationship is sometimes strenuous, always complex, and often times misunderstood, but I loved it nonetheless.
It was quirky, it was funny, and ultimately, it was heartbreaking.
7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    I'm a big fan of the "new classic" genre,  and this is one of the best I've read yet. Within these pages are some of the most endearing characters ever written. Well, that weren't fuzzy animals, anyway. I loved the dynamic between Atticus, Scout and Jem; they were such a great family! And the voices were so innocent and frank. I felt as though I were there with Scout and Jem as they discovered the hard truth of innocence: that it is often lost, and that once gone, it is nearly impossible to regain and will be sorely missed--and not just by those who lost it, but by those who were blessed enough to be touched by the ones who possessed it. The picture painted in this book of a small, Southern town and its dramas is worthy of the title Classic. It really is a must read.
8. Living the Catholic Faith: Rediscovering the Basics by Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
    I've yet to read a book about faith or my religion that was boring, and this one was no exception. It set my faith-life afire! LTCF is about learning to take a your spiritual pulse; reawaken your deepest, truest self, and rekindle your relationship with Christ and his Church. It reaffirms the obligations--or as a very wise friend of mine likes to say invitations--of being a Christian in our society by showing, among other things, all the ways in which the life of a Christian is destined to lead them down roads that many people won't agree with. It gave a me the jolt I needed to re-realize that the life of a true Christian is often one lived in moral opposition; that we are called to live counter-culturally. In the world, but not of the world. I highly, highly recommend this book, not just to Catholics wishing to reawaken their faith or get reaquainted with the Church, but for all Christians of all denominations wishing to fulfill their lives as the members of Christ's Body.
9. The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong
      This is the last book in one of my favorite series (thank you, Sarah!). Usually a series has at least one dud, but Darkest Powers was one of the exceptions. It was never dull. The pace that Armstrong set in the beginning was kept up throughout the entire series and wrapped up nicely with a very satisfying conclusion. It was just what I was hoping for and I couldn't be happier! Plus, we have more adventures to look forward to in this world with her new book The Gathering which comes out later this year. I can't wait!
10. FEED by Mira Grant
     This is the zombie book I have waiting for. It had, not only a great setting, one that had found a logical balance between fear and the futuristic, but the pathology was so real. Grant really did her research when forming the zombie-virus. She took two real life viruses and added a realistic amount of optimism and naivete, stirred them together with a touch of anarchy, and came up with a fearsomely realistic outcome. Well, as realistic as any zombie-virus can be. Something else I really enjoyed was the characters. George and Shawn are two of my favorites ever; I loved their quirky relationship, how closely knit and co-dependent they were, and the way they played off each other. And, oh, the ending! I actually mourned. It was excellent.
11. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
      This is one my old favorites. I first fell in love with the movie when I was little; I loved the oppulance of Sara's life early on in the story, but my favorite part was when she and her fellow captive of fate pretended their way into bliss. The book is a bit different from the movie though, and when I first read it, I almost didn't like it for it's differences. It wasn't the story I remembered, and the ending much sadder, but I grew to love it more than the film version. The reason: Sara. She is one my favorite, most admired characters, and the book allows you to get to know her much more than any movie ever could. Despite the many hardships she faced, and her own character flaws--pride comes to mind--she always tried her best to treat everyone with the same amount of courtesy and respect that she would expect of a princess. She always strove to be a princess, and not the kind that gets every little thing she wants and rules with a heavy hand and an empty heart, but the good kind; the kind of princess that hears the complaints and troubles of all who come before her and spreads largesse to everyone in need.
12. My Swordhand is Singing by Marcus Sedgwick
     Sedgwick makes good use of the rich history of European vampire lore in this well researched, beautiful, and creepy story of a father, a son, and a village plagued by the undead. These creatures pay tribute to the true roots of the myth, not as seductive, misunderstood antiheroes, but as the embodiment of every primal fear of man; death, darkness and damnation. And the creatures, which not once in the entire narrative were called "vampires", were actually scary! This is an amazing homage to the truly horrific nature of the myth with an ending you won't see coming. I recommend this for anyone who is tired of  witnessing the systematic immasculation of one of the world's most dreaded myths. 
13. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
      This book had, not only some serious moral questions about how far is too far with the advancements of medicine, but also religious undertones that kept me satisfied. Jenna's grandmother, who seems to hate her for unknown reasons, is a devout woman, and through her Jenna comes to question the existence of her very soul. It was interesting, to say the least, reading about Jenna's identity struggle and having it put on such a profound level. It was also deeply satisfying to see how that particular struggle resolved itself.
14. Nomansland by Lesley Hauge
      I was afraid Nomansland would be a thinly veiled feminist rant about how women don't really need men or how they can deny their feminity, but I need not have been worried. The moral of this story is that womanhood is a uniquely powerful blessing. Some people make it seem like a burden or a disease, and that makes me sick, but Hauge portrayed womanhood as being a strength and, ultimately, that woman cannot live without man, and vice versa.
15. The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
      I love E's style; she takes the unrealistic chick-lit genre and adds an almost painful amount of realism to the overly bubbley norm. This book had me laughing out loud one minute and mad as a nest of hornets the next. The characters were great, especially the ones that E. led you to dislike rather strongly, and I loved seeing into the mind of Ruby as she struggled with the mess that her life had become. I found her immensely easy to relate to, especially as she struggled with the anxiety that her crumbling social-life gave her, and I can't wait to continue this series.
And that concludes my list of the 15 best books  read in 2010! Hopefully 2011 is just as good or better in regards to reading.
May this year hold many good reads and happy memories in the making!

Potter-Thon + My take On: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

I signed up for the January Harry Potter-Thon at Pure Imagination because Harry Potter is the most brilliant thing I've ever read. My favorite thing about this series, the thing that calls me to read the whole series on an almost annual basis, is the thought that JK put into it. You will never read another series with so much... focus! Every detail, even the seemingly unimportant, is tied into the plot later on. This style, which Rowling has down to a fine art, is called foreshadowing, and it makes for excellent, high quality reading. It's the amount of foreshadowing and forethought that really brings me back to this series again and again; every time I read it, I find some little detail that I missed the time before! And I've yet to find a flaw or plot hole.

For my first act of Potterism during this Potter-Thon, I went to the theater with my sisters and saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. For the second time! Yes, folks, it seems my Chronic Harry Potter Mania (CHPM) has flared up again. I've never seen any other movie in theaters twice. Ever.
My Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1:
This was by far the best HP movie to date. 1-4 were excellent, though, keeping in line with the books, a little juvenile, in the case of the first and second. And it is my firm belief that 5 and 6 were a complete waste. The visual appeal was there, but the story was so watered down that if I hadn't already been a fan of the books, I might not have shelled out for the 7th.
But, man, I'm glad I did! The affects were first rate and the story was actually told. I was getteing rather tired of bridge-style movies, and thankfully this movie broke away from that.
The performances were amazing. Grint, Radcliffe, and Watson's portrayals were spot on. They've really grown into great actors; very likely the best that this generation of actors has to offer. Though, it must be noted that a good deal of the movie is spent under the influence of pollyjuice potion, and thus, it wasn't Grint, Radcliffe, and Watson that we were watching, but some people whose names I don't know. They must have had a hard job because they had to not only portray Harry, Ron, and Hermione, but do it in the style of the original actors. I thought they were awesome. The lady who played Hermione/Emma Watson was definitely my favorite; she had it down pat. It was really quite funny seeing it for the second time and being able to really appreciate their task and how well they did at triple acting: a new guy playing Danial Radcliffe's Harry Potter as he, Harry, tries to be someone else. Did that make sense?
There were a few rumors revolving around this movie, namely the fate of Hedwig. As I said before, this movie is very true the book, but certain liberties have been taken while still remaining true to the original story that I feel made the movie better. Although, some liberties that were taken do not make me happy. One such change to the story was the departure of the Dursleys for safety. In the book, the Dursleys were evacuated from their home and Dudley, the dim object of his parents adoration who made Harry's life so hard for so many years, showed that he actually had some level of fondness for the object of his brutality. In the movie, this was completely cut out. The Dursley's left with no fanfare whatsoever and the audience was jipped out of a chance to experience some real character development and insight. This isn't to say that all character development was neglected, not by a long shot. All the pressure in this department has been rested on the shoulders of Draco Malfoy. You really get to see that he and his family are no longer acting out of loyalty to Voldemort, but fear. They're genuinely afraid for thier lives, even Bellatrix, and it added a lot to the movie to have that showcased.
In conclusion! I give HP&tDH...

...five zombies!
If you haven't seen it yet, I suggest you go now. Or this weekend. Or at least get it on DVD. Whatever you do, just be sure that you don't let the poorly handled fifth and sixth movies scare ou off from this one.

Happy Potter-Thon!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy 2011!

Hey y'all! Just wanted to drop a quick post to let all of you know that a) I am not dead, nor have a I b) joined a cult which forbids the use of internet, or c) gone on the lam and changed my identity so as to avoid detection. I just don't really use the internet on vacation; a fact that tends to slip my mind between holidays.
So happy new and merry Christmas! yes, I'm still wishing people merry Christ even though it's the new year because Christmas is actually a 12 ay long celebration starting on Christmas morning. The more you know...

Merry Christ-Mass and happy holy-days!
Zombie Girrrl

P.S. A vair special Christ-Mass and New Years wish to M.A.D.: May ye have a blessed an' prosperous new year filled w' abundant happiness an' may the LORD bless and keep you always! *hugs!*
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