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...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Further Thoughts On Top Ten Tuesday's Fictional Family

I've been thinking about what it would be like to actually be related to the fictional family I built yesterday, to have Molly Weasley as my mother and Atticus as my father and so on and so forth. Mainly, what it would mean to have all those stories attached to reality--to my reality. Here's what I came up with:
  • I might be a witch. "Might" being the key word here as none of my other siblings exhibit any aptitude for magic; I might be a squib or a muggle like them. I'd like to think I would have inherited my mother's magic, though, and since this is my story, I'll say that I did.
  • I might run on the short side and have enormous, hairy feet. Thanks, Grandpa Bilbo. No, really. Although, again, this is my story, so I'll say I did not inherit this trait.
  • We have a comfy hobbit hole in the country where we spend our summers. Unfortunately, Grandpa Bilbo is something of a local celebrity so we can't really get any peace from the neighbors.
  • After doing a little figuring, I've realized that I live in the early-mid 1900's and that WWII has effected my family a great deal. On the bright side of this is that my sibs and I often take a little holiday in Narnia and that our sister, Sara, takes us shopping with her huge diamond-mine-fortune.
  • We're all red heads.
    Except Ed, he takes after Datticus and Uncle Clive (C.S. Lewis, to you). Molly seems so pleased.
  • I'm never bored because half of my family are gifted story tellers and the other half are always game for whatever you throw at them. This comes in handy when we can't go outdoors for extended periods of time due to A) the English rain, B) the zombies, or C) the Blitz.
  • Unfortunately the world is not a safe place. We have to deal with a world war, Death Eaters, Orcs, The White Witch (when in Narnia), and the aforementioned zombies. Oh, yeah, and my big brother, Shaun, is infected with a dormant zombie virus that will turn him as soon as he dies, which might happen sooner rather than later because he likes to live dangerously. And I don't mean ride-your-bike-with-no-hands kinda dangerous, we're talking poke-a-zombie-with-a-stick dangerous.
  • There's a lot of good advice floating around the house. With Datticus, Grandmarmee, and Uncle Clive, there's no shortage of wisdom. I imagine dinners with this family would be anything but dull, especially when Grandpa Bilbo has his buddies over. *please-invite-Legolas-please-invite-Legolas-pleasepleaseplease*
  • I might be the most boring child of the lot. This is just an occupational hazard when your siblings are Jo March, Shaun Mason, Edmund Pevensie, Sara Crewe, and Jem and Scout. And my lack of adventures probably bores my grandfather to tears. However, perhaps being in such close contact with the lot of them will have some effect, maybe some of their interestingness will rub off on me. One can only hope.
  • The following people are close family friends: Harry Potter, Gandalf, Laurie (oh no! conflicted!), JRR Tolkien (can you say "tear in the fabric of space and time"?), the Large Family, Boo Radley, and Aslan.

I wonder what the extended relations are like. Would I be cousins with Eustace Scrubb and the Proudfoots...?

i am
zombie girrrl
and that was
the story of a
fictional family

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Top 10 Tuesday: Fictional Family

This week's TTT, which is hoted by Broke and Bookish, is: Characters You Would Want As Family Members. So, time to build me a fictional family! I'm not so sure I'd want these people as my family but I think they would make a good family even if I wasn't in it. Oh, and I know it's only supossed to be ten, but I like big families.

Hello, Mother:
Molly Weasley from Harry Potter and the Epic Quest to Defeat Voldemort. I loved how protective she was of her children, like a mama bear. That's a very good quality, one that my real mom has.

Hello Father:
Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. Really, you don't even need to say anything about this choice. He was a courageous defender of truth and justice and I love that he read to his children.

Here's the Sisters:
Jo from Little Women. She was a lot of fun and I liked that she was alwasy willing to join in or start something, like their plays. I always loved that. Plus she was brave ans self-sacrificing. Excellent qualities in a sister.
Sara Crewe from A Little Princess. I would love to gather after dark and huddle around the flickering light of a candle to listen to this girl's stories. She had the most fabulously vivid imagination ever and she was so caring. A charming little sister.
Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird. I loved her tomboy ways and how she was always the at center of things without being in the spotlight. She'd be an awesome little sister.

& the Brothers:
Shaun Mason from Feed by Mira Grant. He was totally insane and so much fun, but underneath all that he was such a caring and sweet brother. I think he'd be ideal as an older brother.
Edmund Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia. I mean the Ed at the end of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, not the coniving little blighter that he was at the beginning. He was brave and just and I admire that. Plus, he might take you to Narnia! That'd be beyond awesome.

Jem Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. In regards to age, he may be the (fictional) little brother, but he had several excellent big brother qualities. I don't have any brothers in real life, but I'd love have him as one.

Bilbo Baggins from LOTR. He has the best stories to tell! Plus, who wouldn't want to visit their grandfather in a hobbit hole, "Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."

Marmie from Little Women. She'd be a great grandma. Caring, entertaining, and wise.

C.S. Lewis. Now, I know what you're thinking: "You can't have an actual person as your fictional uncle!" Oh, but I can! The Great Divorce was written as a first hand account and was narrated by the writer. So, HA! He can be the fictioanl uncle because he fictionalized himself. And he'd be awesome; I'd love to discuss religion and faith and spirituality with him and maybe he could tell some stories. he's very good at that, you know.

And that's my fictional family.
Tune in next week when I list my top ten book related pet peeves.

as always,
i am
zombie girrrl
and while these people may be interesting
I would never trade my real family for them

Saturday, March 12, 2011

My Take On: Second Kiss by Natalie Palmer

"Even my most humiliating moments seemed funny somehow when I told them to Jess." Gemma Mitchell is a normal girl who somehow gets herself into abnormally embarrassing circumstances. And while she thinks she's the biggest loser in school because of them, there are a few people in her life who would disagree. One of those people is her best friend, Jess Tyler, who is opposite to her in every way. He's popular, good looking, athletic, and intelligent, and he can't get enough of Gemma. But while Gemma is dealing with problems like wrong locker combinations and Valentine's Day dances, Jess is living in a world of serious issues that are foreign to Gemma, until she realizes that he's holding on to her for dear life. Humorous and true to life, Second Kiss is an entertaining saga about a boy and girl who find that their lives have a lot more meaning once they have shared them with each other.
I needed to read something light and charming and hopeful and delightful, yet not empty because I can't abide empty books, and Second Kiss delivered in spades1.
Gemma and Jess are one of those duos that dumbfounds me; they've known each other since they were knee high to a grasshopper, have lived across the street from each other since they were born, even, and have walked to school every day since Jess's mom offered him as an escort for Gemma on her first day kindergarten2. I'm a military brat since birth, so every time I come across someone like this, my eyes kind of bug out. It seems unnatural to me to be in one place that long, let alone to know someone you're not directly related to for so long, but I so enjoy reading about it. Y'all might find this sort of thing to be mundane, but it's incredibly exotic to my mind.
I loved the relationship between Gemma and Jess. It's the sort of relationship that you either have and are eternally grateful for, or, if you don't, wish you had or spend your whole life looking for.
The story was very character driven. There were some big issues that Gemma and Jess had to deal with as they grew up but it always came back to how they relied on each other to get through those rough patches. Up to a point, that is. Eventually they must learn to stand on their own, and it's a hard lesson to learn for two people who have spent their whole lives sharing each other's burdens.
Second Kiss wasn't just an endearing say-awww-at-the-end-of-every-chapter3 story, though. It also had a lot of humor. Gemma's life is ripe with embarrassing stories that she shares with Jess. He gives her a sense of balance, and, while he may not always make her feel better about her lot, he at least gives her perspective. He also gives her the Jess Smile4. Who wouldn't feel better about having sat by the dumpster all day after being on the receiving end of that? And, no, the story wasn't all smiles and adorableness; Jess, as the synopsis let on about, is dealing with very serious issues that lead him to rely more heavily on Gemma for consolation and strength. Gemma, who is incredibly naive and in some ways childish, has to grow up as she learns to help her friend deal and as she, too, learns to deal with her own drama. She was a bit dramatic at times, but I never found it to be annoying because that's just who she was. My only issue was that Jess sometimes seemed like he had always been 16-17 and Gemma had to grow into him. I suppose it was because he had to grow up a lot faster than Gem5, due in no small part to his home life, but it was due to his God-given nature6.
Another thing I loved about this book was Gemma's family. Her parents were very realistic and loving and, most importantly of all, present. Her family was there through all the drama and she talked with her mom and dad about her life. They weren't just cardboard standee type characters,either, they were just as real as Gemma in their troubles and reactions and failures and triumphs. I loved them.
I give Second Kiss...


...four and half zombies.
I can't even explain what it is that I love so much about this book. It was endearing, and sweet, and hopeful, and real, and so full of adorable and love that you simply must read it. Seriously. Second Kiss is my new favorite love story, and Gem and Jess are one of my favorite duos.

i am
zombie giRRRl
& i recommend
this book

1  Fear not, Reader, I read this the week after St. Valtentine's Day. The Lenten Reading Challenge lives on!
2  Jess is one year older than Gemma, though lightyears more mature. I loved the contrast of Gemma's dramatic innocent naivete with Jess' wise and stalwart sweetness.
3  Which, BTW, I did. At the end of almost every chapter, I just closed the book for a moment and basked in the charm of this story. 
4  The Jess Smile has great power. It could bring about world peace. On the flip side, it could also start wars, if mis-fired...
5  Jess was the only person allowed to call her Gem.
6  He was just an old soul with a very mature outlook on love and life. Oh! I just realized what I like about him so much: Jess was a gentleman, pure and simple. But I digress.

Friday, March 11, 2011

CSN Winner

Congratulations, ♥ttyloverit17♥! 46 was your lucky number!
Have fun cooking with your mom! Thanks to everyone who entered. :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lent + A Bit of a Reading Challenge

Lent, one of my favorite liturgical seasons, begins today with Ash Wednesday.
What it is: Lent is the season that leads up to Easter, it is characterized by penance, fasting and abstaining from meat on Fridays, acts of charity, solemn prayer, and many Christians give something up for the 40-day observance. Lent is a time of spiritual renewal, of a deepening of faith and prayer. Basically, it's a 40 day retreat that culminates with the glorious Resurrection of the Lord on Easter.
This year, to cut out the things that distract me from my relationship with God, I'm giving up books1. Not all books, though, just the secular2 ones, which is, basically, everything I read. My TBR for next 40 days or so will contain only works of Christian fiction and nonfiction.
Now for the challenge part: I'm opening up my personal challenge to all my readers! It's pretty simple, too.
Guidelines for the Lenten Reading Challenge:
You can either give up all secular books, or add a predetermined number of Christian books to your TBR for Lent, which begins March 9 and goes through April 20. To participate, simply write a brief acceptance post and leave a link in the comments. You can join the challenge any time from now until the 20th, and you don't need to follow my blog to join in.
To give you an idea of what books I'm talking about, here's a list authors4:
  • C.S. Lewis3
  • Scott Hahn
  • Madeleine L'Engle
  • Gertrud Von Le Fort
  • Robin Caroll
  • Christian M Frank
  • Tosca Lee (Havah)*5
  • Colleen Coble (Lightkeeper's Ball)*
  • Ronie Kendig (Digitalis)*
  • Camy Tang (Only Uni)*
  • Cheryl Wyatt (Steadfast Soldier)*
  • James Rubart (Rooms)*
  • Brandilyn Collins (Deceit)*
  • Rachel Hauck (Dining With Joy)*
  • Kristen Billerbeck (A Billion Reasons Why)*
 I'll add to this list as I go. I'll also be adding links on this post to anyone who chooses to participate. I hope you'll join me, and that you have a blessed Lent.

Orchid of The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia

i am
always searching
for Truth
zombie girrrl

1  *Gasp*
2  Secular = non-Christian.
3  I'm really excited to  finish reading CS Lewis' Signature Classics (Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Problem of Pain, Miracles, and A Grief Observed), which I got for Christmas, and the Chronicles of Narnia which I won from Ky of Can't Find a Bookmark.
4  Feel free to suggest any other Christian authors or titles, fiction or nonfiction, in a comment. Much obliged.
5  Thanks to Robin Caroll for suggesting all the authors and titles marked with *'s

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Top 10 Dynamic Duos

I'm really excited about this week's Top Ten Tuesday, brought to us by the letter M and the blog Broke and Bookish. As always, these are some of my favorites, but they are in no particular order.
  1. Jess and Gemma from Second Kiss by Natalie Palmer. I loved the dynamic between these two, it was so sweet and innocent and completely enviable. If you happen to have a Jess (or a Gemma) in your life, then consider yourself blessed.
  2. George and Shaun from Feed by Mira Grant. I really enjoyed the way these two played off each other, and not just in the witty banter, but emotionally. I love sibling duos, and George and Shaun are two of my faves because they were more than willing to take a bullet for the other.
  3. Sara Crewe and Becky from A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. In a seemingly hopeless situation, Sara found strength in the friendship of Becky, and Becky was brought to life by the care and imagination of Sara. Had it not been for the other, I think they both would have succumbed to an incurable despair.
  4. Cal and Niko Leandros from the Cal Leandros series by Rob Thurman1. Another sibling duo that I love. Cal, who views himself as an abomination because, well, on some levels he is, and Niko, the only person who's ever said otherwise, are the butt kickingest brothers there ever were with a soft spot held only for each other. Not only do they have each other's backs in battle, but they take care of each other too. Niko sacrifices everything, even the chance to have a normal life, for Cal, and Cal would do anything for Niko.
  5. Rose and the White Bear from East by Edith Pattou. What's not to love? Basically it's Beauty and the Beast, but Belle goes on an epic quest to restore the Beast's humanity. Thrilling and so sweet.
  6. Scout and Jem from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Growing up is hard to do, but having a sibling to do it with, particularly when all your growing up is crammed into a very short period of time, makes it a whole lot easier.
  7. Aly and Nawat from Trickster's Choice by Tamora Pierce. Aly, the fiesty and resourceful daughter of Alanna, a living legend of Tortall, and Nawat, a crow who shed his feathers for his love of Aly, are one of my favorite couples. Their courtship was hilarious because, while Nawat may have had the body of a man, his customs were still that of a crow, complete with preening and bugs. They were really sweet together and I liked that their relationship, which was as inevitable as the sunrise, grew over time. I do wish, though, that pierce would write a character who lived chastely. That's my only complaint about her books.
  8. Jonah and Bea from How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford. This was a pretty complex relationship. They were closer than friends yet completely platonic. Like siblings but not related. They just completed each other at the point that they were feeling the most incomplete. It was a very bizarre relationship, to be sure, sometimes they didn't even acknowledge the other in public, but they were like peanut butter and jelly. Mac and cheese. Golden oreos and chai spice tea2.
  9. Rapunzel and Flynn from Tangled. Yes, the Disney princess movie. It's one of my favorite movies ever, and this couple is one of the main deciding factors of that. I could watch Tangled on loop for a week and not get tired of it.
  10. Merry and Pippin from LOTR. Sometimes when I watch the movies, I skip the Sam and Frodo bits so I can watch these two. They always make me laugh, and I love the way they represent the loss of innocence in war.
zombie giRRRl
& that was
my top 10 tuesday

1  BTW, did you know that Rob Thurman is a woman? When I saw that, I was like, "Whaaaa?" Don't know how I went so long without knowing that, but it was pretty shocking.
2  Trust me on this one. It's a good match.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Signed Breathless Reads Poster Winner

Congratulations, Vivien! And thanks to all who entered.
The winner has been notified via email and we will send her prize ASAP.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday Five

Ack! It's Friday again!
Okay, here we go.
  1. I finally got a You Tube account1, so now I can vlog. Hurray. I don't know why I'm so excited to do this, seeing as how I'm not a particularly big fan of vlogs, it's probably because it's easier to tell you some things than it is to write them and I'm lazy like that. The fact that they're fun to make might have something to do with it as well.
  2. Lent starts this up coming week with Ash Wednesday, and I have a bit of a reading challenge in store. It's more of a personal thing, but I'm going to be posting about it anyway because I thought it would be cool if someone would like to join me. More details to come, probably later today or tomorrow.
  3. Contest announcements: Today is the LAST DAY TO ENTER for a signed poster and bookmarks from the Breathless Reads Tour. It's a pretty cool poster featuring the covers for The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller, Matched by Ally Condie, The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff, Across the Universe by Beth Revis, and Nightshade by Andrea Cremer, and, of course, it's signed by all five authors. Also, my CSN Stores Giveaway has about a week left until it closes, so if you haven't entered yet, be sure to.
  4. Speaking of the Breathless Reads Tour, now seems as good a time as any to relate the story. I had a really good time, which is good because it makes the reeeaaallly long drive worth it. I met some bloggers, well, more like one blogger, namely Laura from Tattoed Books. There were others there, I just didn't have the gaul to walk up to perfect strangers and say HI more than once. Such is life. Anywhoodle. It was a lot of fun listening to the authors questions during the Q&A portion, mainly because the all had such different writing styles. My question was: Who would you cast as your main character. I can't remember all the answers, but Kirsten Miller said she wanted the girl from Easy A and that she always pictures, get this, Paul Newman as her leading guy. Hilarious story behind that, BTW2. Beth Revis said she'd want a new-comer as Elder. Brenna Yovanoff said she'd have a hard time picking because there was always one little thing wrong with her favorites, i.e. they're too old or something, and that she wasn't up on the whole Hollywood scene. Niether am I. We got a group picture; from left to right: Kirsten Miller (a very witty lady with much in common with 12YO's), Laura (she's super nice), Ally Condie (who writes because she hates sorting socks), Brenna Yovanoff  (who was homeschooled and wrote many, many, many stories before The Replacement, which I am currently reading), Me (who stands awkwardly in group photos), Andrea Cremer (she enjoys writing kissing scenes), Ren (darn birds!), and Beth Revis (a professed fangirl who likes to blow things up. In her stories! Yeesh).
  5. So anyway, I went to the signing with Ren. We'd been planning on going with Orchid as well, but she got sick, literally, at the last second, so she had to stay home. It was such a bummer, but Ren, who is full of great ideas, decided that we'd just get her a card and ask all the authors to sign it. And, guess what. They did! She was so excited when we gave it to her. So, I'll wrap this segment up by saying thanks to everyone who signed the card! Orchid loved it.
  6. And lastly, I leave you with a bit of a geek-out in the from of a (very) short story about my favorite fantasy realm, Tortall: The first time Gem had strung a bow she had been so nervous that her sweat-slick fingers failed to secure the string which then slid off the bow causing it to spring back and snap her her sqaure in the forehead. She remembered well the pain, but more sharp in her mind was the humiliation of hearing her brothers laughter and taunts. Her father, ever patient, had consoled her and, more importantly, humbled her brothers for being so cold. He had knelt down at her level and told her that they, too, had once been new to the art of archery and had not always been so poised and deadly.
    "Garret," he had said in his gruff yet gentle voice, with more than a twinkle in his eye, "shot himself in the foot the first time he ever drew a bow."
    It had been just the elixir for her smarting pride to know that her oldest and most talented brother had once been as unskilled as she, and it gave her heart to try again.

    Now, years later, the warning-song of her horn dying in her ears, Gem smoothly drew the bow taught, feeling the power it held in the muscles of her back, and she felt no fear. No fear that her brothers would ever discount her for being the only girl on the hunt. No fear that she would miss her target. No fear that the hissing spidren her bow was trained on would come any closer to her village.
    Breath smooth, hands steady, she released the arrow, watched as it planted itself in the grim eye of the beast, and calmly fit another to the string as she trained her bow with deadly accuracy on another of the nest of spidrens she had stumbled upon so near her village.
I race the second-hand of time. Sometimes it nearly catches me.
I am
Zombie GiRRRl

1  A lot easier than I thought it would be since it's tied into my pre-existing Google account. Handy-dandy.
2  And now for the funny story which is not mine: Not long after Kirsten Miller first arrived in NYC, she went to visit a friend at her apartment. When the elevator opened, out stepped none othet than Paul Newman. He said, and I quote, "Hiya!" Kirsten was stunned. She excitedly related the story to her friend who looked at her and, after a dramgtic pause said, "Kirsten, you're in NY now, stop being so dazzled."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My Take On: XVI by Julia Karr

Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council–ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world–even the most predatory of men–that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina’s worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina’s mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past–one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer.
At first I was shocked (and disgusted) by the premise. I work with teens, and the thought of the underlying message was frightening, but I applaud Karr for choosing this as her subject and for handling it with such class. It's something that we definitely need to discuss more, something that we need to change.

Now, this review ran a little long, and I know that's a big turn-off for some readers, so I'll first do a quick sum-up with...
A Few Choice Words:
  • Tense
  • Frightening
  • Plausible
  • Timely
  • Well written
  • Some swearing, including 1 or 2 F-bombs
  • Implied sexual content throughout, though nothing explicit or graphic, including violent acts
Now on to my my take.
In Nina's world, which is frighteningly similar in some ways to our own, kids--not just girls, this is a two-way street, folks--are raised viewing sex as, well, the closest word to it that I think of, and I know it falls short of what Karr was trying to say, is a goal or rite of passage or recreation. This was best displayed in the attitude of Nina's best friend, Sandy, who blindly followed all of the Media's hype about turning sixteen by her dress, which was skimpy at best, her behavior, which degraded her value as a human being immeasurably, and her language, which was so sex-driven1 I felt bad for Nina having to feign interest. But despite all this, Sandy was a nice girl. Under all the layers of makeup and the too-few layers of sexteen2 clothing, she was a sweet girl who loved visiting the cows at the zoo, hanging out with her friends, and dreaming about the future. You never would've known any of this, however, by mere observation. The face that she put forth to the world was one of over-sexualized abandon ready and willing for anything with anyone. And that's exactly how the Governing Council wanted her, and all teenage girls, to be. By insidiously enforcing this mold on the youth of their society through clever propaganda and extreme marketing, they ensured that women were seen as second class at best, though more often than not they were completely objectionalized, abused, and disregarded. In this way, the Governing Council ensured that no one had the sense to look beyond what was right in front of their face, that being the latest trend or the hottest whoever, to see that there was indeed something wrong with the way their society functioned and that they desperately needed to change it.
Now about that two-way street I mentioned earlier: Women were completely objectionalized by the society at large and this was brought to the story in the person of the scariest, most despicable, revolting, and realistic villain ever, along with a cast of brutal yet equally realistic secondary characters who were present mainly to drive the plot or illustrate some aspect of the belief system that Nina's harsh world (mal)functioned under. There were some truly frightening men in this story, but Karr didn't completely write off the whole gender, which would have been a shame. She included a cast of admirable and even chivalrous male characters, such as Nina grandfather and best friends. And this story, when looked at from another perspective, is not just about the negative effect that sexual degradation has on the over all treatment of women, it's also about the backlash that men experience in the same situation. They weren't as obviously opressed as women, but the men of this society--which, allow me to reiterate, was a lot like our own in many ways--were encouraged to act on their most base instincts. They were encouraged to act like animals and were raised viewing women as something to be conquered3 and owned. It was one of the saddest things, I think, that the men had lost their spine, their desire to treat women with respect, and thus to treat themselves with respect.
Okay. I'm going to cut myself off before I continue to ramble, and say that XVI gets...
...five zombies.
And how could I give it less when it held such an important underlying message, that being the importance of chastity in the battle to protect and uphold human dignity. When we sell ourselves short by allowing ourselves to become sexual object's, or by treating others in that manner, we damage our dignity. And I'm not talking about pride, as in "I have my dignity!", I'm talking about our God-given dignity. The thing that sets us apart from animals.

I am
Zombie Girrrl
and I endorse this book.
1.  Not that her language was particularly derogatory. Mostly she would say stupid things like how she wished she could have sex with whatever sex-symbol the government-run Media pushing, and, oh, how cool would it be, and sex must be the best thing ever, yada yada yada. Nina mostly tuned her insipid ramblings out, until she realized her friend was endangered by her eagerness. Ooh, teaser.
2.  Not a typo.
3  Sound familiar?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

I don't normally do this, but I just read the funniest line and I had to share. But first, the madatory song and dance:
Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. To participate, simply do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Etc. etc.
This teaser comes from page 93 of Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck.
"His smile filled me with golden bright happy rays."

Top 10 Tuesday: Books I HAD To Buy...

But are still sitting on my shelf. I can only assume that this week's TTT, a meme hosted by Broke and Bookish, is referring to books that I bought yet have not read and not books I bought and kept.
Anywhoodle. I only have five this week. These are not in any particular order.
  1. The Road by Cormick McCormick. Wait... that's not his name.
  2. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. The reason I haven't gotten past the third page is sort of stupid, but the font was too big! Large fonts make me feel like the author/publisher/type-setter is talking down to me. Plus I'm going through a bit of a rough patch with supernatural.
  3. The Coming Plague by Laurie Garret. I went through a very big pathology-of-bloody-diseases phase. This one came in on the tail-end of that phase. I'm sure the plague has come by now, that's how long it's been sitting on my shelf.
  4. Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan. I lurrrrrved Forest of Hands and Teeth so much. The only thing that's kept me from starting this one is, well, I'm bein' a big ol' chicken. You gotta be in a certain mood to have livin' daylights scared out of you, and I just haven't been in that mood yet.
  5. Linger by Maggie Stiefvater. Again, I really liked the first book, but in this case it's not fear that's held me back, it's plot. I was reading this at the same time as my sister, no big deal, we just used two bookmarks. Well, I was loving the story, it was good, I got to about page 40 or something like that before I opened it to the wrong mookmark. I started reading it from the mid-way point. And. I. Didn't. Even. Notice. It took me several pages to realize that I had skipped forward by a good chunk because the story seemed as though it hadn't really moved on. Not good.
Not that I'm writing off any of these books, I just haven't gotten to them for one reason or another.

I am
hungry for justice
tired of violence
full of hope
Zombie GiRRRl
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