Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A New Kind of Vampire ...

... And we all know the Vampires are super hot right now. Blame "Twilight", "Buffy", "The Vampire Diaries" or whatever - the young adult Vampire movement is hot. Very hot.

Now, I am biased. I have been reading YA Vampire fiction since I was like ... 8 or so. I think I started with L.J. Smith's Nightworld series (where I promptly fell in love with Quinn and Ash from "The Chosen" and "Daughters of Darkness" respectively). Then I had to read Christopher Pike's The Last Vampire series, and Smith's Vampire Diaries Quartet (fell in love with Damon, not Stephan - I am a sucker for the jack ass vampire as opposed to the remorseful, mopey one - see my Angel vs. Spike monologue) and I was firmly rooted to the YA Vampire insanity. More followed, of course - and I was not limited to just Vampires of course - I love the paranormal. I love the way it opens up writing and incites the imagination. I love how it can be symbolic of growing up or love or hate or traditional values vs. modern values. And I love that people are exploring it to its fullest now.

I recommend all of those mentioned, btw - and here's a short list (ha ha ha) of my favourite Vampire YAs:

L.J. Smith
  • The Vampire Diaries, 1 -4 (The Awakening; The Struggle; The Fury;Dark Reunion; Also there are four more out now - but I have not read them, as they apparently follow Damon though, I might yet)
  • Nightworld, 9 books - 10th not out yet, but about 6 are really about Vamps. (Secret Vampire; Daughters of Darkness; The Chosen; Soulmate; Huntress; Black Dawn

Christopher Pike
  • The Last Vampire Series, 6 books (The Last Vampire; Black Blood; Red Dice; Phantom; Evil Thirst; Creatures of Forever)

Scott Westerfield
  • Peeps
  • The Last Days

Annette Curtis Clause
  • The Silver Kiss

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
  • In the Forests of the Night
  • Demon in my View
  • Shattered Mirror
  • Midnight Predator
Throughout all of these (and some Adult ones, too - I couldn't help it, the Vampires drew me in and I was suddenly in love with Lestat) the author's interpretation of "Vampire" varies but generally, they are like humans in the sense that there are good ones, there are bad ones, but most are in some vague neutral territory stuck with humanity and other paranormal creatures on a train going at ramming speeds towards some inevitable conclusion.

This goal drives them - whether it is to be "normal" or to find true love or to have a happy coexistence of human-vampire-and-the-everything-else-catchall.

Not so anymore.

I introduce you to: The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead.

These are the first two installments, Vampire Academy and Frostbite.
The stories follow a dhampir girl, Rose Hathaway, and his best friend, Lissa, who she has sworn to protect for life. Here is a synopsis of #1:
Ever since the car accident, Lissa and Rose have been bound together through a unique bond. But weird things have been happening recently and Lissa finds herself in grave danger. Fear made Lissa and Rose run away from the VA but after two years of freedom, they are dragged back to the VA, the very place they are in the most danger. History begins to repeat itself and Lissa is in more danger than ever, now that someone knows their secret. But how can anyone help, when Rose and Lissa barely understand the truth? Determined to protect Lissa, not just from Strigoi but from whatever is out there waiting, Rose trains with Dimitri. As their connection grows, their distraction increases and Lissa's in even more danger now that the time is perfect for their enemy to strike. Will Lissa be saved from her enemy? Can she be saved from herself?

As stated, there is a school and it trains and protects dhampirs and Morois. Morois are good vampires, essentially - vampire with heartbeats. They need blood, but they don't kill to get it (that is the area of the Strigoi, who are generally just bad news). I won't go deeply into the plot details so that I don't ruin it for you, but let's just say that this is teenaged vampires to a tee. I mean, the characters are teenagers. They aren't hundred year old teenagers, since they are mortal, but they are vampires. And herein lies the genius of it all, since they have teenaged things on their minds - dances, boys, popularity, etc.

And this is where the YA Vampire mythos has changed over the years.
But first, here's the second book plot:
Rose loves Dimitri, Dimitri might love Tasha, and Mason would die to be with Rosea] Itas winter break at St. Vladimiras, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academyas crawling with Guardiansaincluding Roseas hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if handto- hand combat with her mom wasnat bad enough, Roseas tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Masonas got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissaas head while sheas making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academyas not taking any risksa].This year, St. Vladas annual holiday ski trip is mandatory. But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price
From Borders

I personally loved the first one, but loved the second one more.
Now, plots and intrigues asides, and those are amazing, I just want to discuss the Vampire character itself. Namely - how has the character of the Vampire evolved to what it is now for popular YA readers?

There is Twilight, of course - sparkly vampires that clan into families, go veggie, etc. That is not, of course a unique feature - lots of vampires have some of those qualities - living in families like in Daughters of Darkness, or in a gang like family like in Huntress. And of course the sparkly thing seems unique, but Vampire literature has always included unique physical features of the vampire - asides from the obvious elongated teeth, of course. Ethereally beautiful, white like lace, etc. They have always stood out from regular humans - it's part of what makes them sexy.

In The Vampire Academy we have two factions of Vampire - three if you count the dhampirs - the Moroi and the Strigoi (apparently Russian in origin?). Through their genetics, they are Moroi - they are born into Moroi families and have powers that correspond to their genetic heritage, and they need blood to survive, but don't need to kill to get it. Becoming a Strigoi is a choice - unless you're forced - but ultimately, it is presented as a choice - choose Strigoi and you get immortality but you must be a thing that runs from light, drains the life out of people and strikes fear into the hearts of all. The difference here of course, is that there seems to be a lack - just a bit, though - of victimization. From Dracula to Buffy - Vampires take what they want. They turn and lack a moral compass, or memories that bring the warm fuzzies. With age, boredom, gypsy curses or a computer glitching thing that is infused into your brain by the military (heh heh, Spike) those scary vampires can find a moral compass again. But ultimately they are seen as scary - and almost pathetic. The poor things have lost everything bu becoming what they are, so with the sexiness - there is also a touch of sadness. As if we ought to pity these poor creatures.

Silly Humans ...

Ms. Mead tears this down slightly. The Strigoi retain their scariness - they're fast and strong and they kill without thinking. But they are a choice. I think this is most evident in the character of Christian, who becomes Lissa's boyfriend in Book 2. His parents choose to turn Strigoi when he is young and Christian is then subjected to glares, suspicion and osterization from the adults and his peers. He is the tragic character, not his parents who ultimately cut down by the Guardians. They chose that life, they were seduced by the promises of eternal life and power, and they chose to become what they became. They are not tragic, they are just spineless people.

This is also shown in Victor - without giving too much away (though I think any discussion of Victor's charcter necessitates giving away too much), his will to live allows him to choose a grisly end to those around him, including his daughter.

I think what Ms. Mead is doing is illustrating a powerful point -people choose to be bad. They can be born into something predisposed, but ultimately it is they who choose what they become. Of course, this doesn't always turn out - there are road bumps and manipulators and freak accidents - but ultimately, you choose who you are. So choose wisely.

And that is the difference, I think. Past YA Vampires were turned of necessity or turned because they were unlucky. They struggle with their fate after the fact. These vampire struggle before they turn - because they are masters of their own turning.

I think it's a good dynamic and cannot wait to read more!
Especially since my friend slipped me a spoiler that I cannot get over!

Anyways, computer glitches aside (sorry!) I will be back tomorrow!
Cheerio! :)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I am so techno illiterate ...

... So, the post that was supposed to be for yesterday was not because I am still hopelessly stupid with technology which led to me staring at the screen's error message for hours....

Anyway - onto Tuesday! (favourite day of the week!)

And we start off this fog fueled day (seriously - I couldn't see the top of the GM Renn Centre from the border...) with a plug! My good friend,Smithy, just made the next round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest! *applause* Everyone who knows her (and has read anything she's written) are both proud and not surprised - we all knew this girl will go far! :D Her novel is called "The Amulet of Osiris" and it is a twisty ghost story that brings in elements of Ancient Egypt, teen angst, unrequited (and near impossible) love, ghosts (of course!) and excellent prose. When it gets published (and it will) I highly recommend everyone go and buy a copy - I definitely will! Now for the links:
Here is a link to the Contest Homepage:
Here is a link to her story And here is a link to an excerpt for her story:

Congratulations, Smithy!
Can't wait to see it adorning bookshelves everywhere!

The book of the day is:

A few notes on Christina Dodd: I adore her writing. I really do. I am introduced to her last Autumn in the form of her Darkness Chosen series - which I highly recommend and might do a post on soon, just because I adore that series to death. Dodd herself is funny and fresh, her facebook page is full of her personality and she exudes a confidence and a friendliness that attracts people. Her writing is the same - and it is also gritty and rough, which I adore in female and male protagonists. Her female heroes are flawed - deeply flawed, the way it should be. And her male characters are also deeply flawed - and that makes their stories that much better.

This book is part of the "Texas Hearts" series - A series I only knew about after finishing this book (I know, I am so slow, sometimes). The basic premise is that a corrupt town (we are not sure how corrupt or exactly what happened yet) in Texas managed to separate 4 siblings, 7 years ago. The eldest was Hope - at 16, she was moved to an orphanage in Boston and has spent the last 7 years hardening her heart to the world, trying to find her siblings and working on a college degree. This is where we enter.

In Boston, 7 years later, there is welathy and cold businessman, Zach Givens. He hates technology and so he prescribes to an answering service that Hope works for. Falling in love with her voice and then herself when he meets her, he continues a lie that he is not himself, and is rather his own butler, because of Hope's prejudice towards rich people (on account of those corrupt officials in Texas).

You may be tempted to call it a typical romance, but it is so much more (in general, Dodd's books are so much more). the subplots are as follows: A corrupt jerk of a man whose company Zach just took over; Madame Nancini's desire to see Hope settled; Zach trying to figure out if his Aunt Cecily is having an affair; Hope's search for her siblings; Griswald (actual butler)'s search for Hope's siblings (on Zach's orders); A mysterious "Ma" who has Hope under her protection; A crooked accountant who screwed over a mobster; and, the lives and tribulations of other clients of the answering service.

Must say: The sex is awesome. Awesome. I love Dodd's sex scenes - they seem more real, more tempting. None of that "Women don't get aroused" or whatever - women like sex. I think that's an important thought to have and express.

The plot is actually quite complicated and the emotions run high. I particularly like the dialogue between Zach and his best friend, the lawyer (yes I am biased, lawyers) Jason, and especially the quotes from the hockey game (I will post these when I go home - I forgot my books there, on top of the stereo).

I also like the sense of family that Dodd puts into her books. There always seems to be this consideration of family or familial consequences. Her characters are defined in some parts, through their relationships to their families - whether they be blood ties, or a circle of friends that have become a family. She does a very good job of this. And with that comes a sense of the "bigger picture", which I think is why her series do so well - they have a semblance of the "big picture" throughout.

I also like that she includes epilogues and short stories that sum things up (she has these on her website by the way, find them at: ). I think that an author who invests so much time and energy into developing real characters ought to be rewarded. And she does it so well, you'd have to agree with me.

I highly recommend this book - and all her others. She is a delight to read and I think everyone will take something from her books.

Thanks - see you tomorrow for the next installment!
Cheerio! :D

Monday, March 29, 2010

It's Maple Sugar Time Again! ...

... Yes, it is. I spent the weekend eagerly tasting and buying up maple syrup. Yummers. I love this half state where Spring and Winter fight for recognition. Sigh.

Anyways, so on this wild weekend, we have a few reviews:
(For once, I was not driving, so I read the whole way)
and and and begun:

So, for this week: I will start with Clive Barker.
Tomorrow I will tackle The Christina Dodd.
Wednesday I will do two of the projected 6 of the Richelle Meads.
And then Thursday, before I leave for Easter Weekend - I will finish off with the Sheri Holman.

Thanks and Enjoy!

Clive Barker has been one of my favourite authors since "Weaveworld". And "Hellraiser". Love his twisted views of the world - mostly because, though he can cause revulsion to roll through my stomach, after I read it and digest it all, it actually makes sense in a profound way. And that, if nothing else, is why I can go through all the gross things to get to the meat of it.

And what meat it is.

Here is the synopsis from Amazon:
This offbeat novel in the form of a minor demon's diary may satisfy devoted Barker fans eager for his return to adult fiction after several years writing the Abarat series, but others, especially first-time readers, are likely to find this fable about good and evil less than rewarding. Jakabok Botch, the child of two demons who has inherited his father's two tails, is rendered even more grotesque after he tumbles into a fire and most of his face is badly burned. A violent dispute with his abusive father, Pappy Gatmuss, leads to the pair being trapped by a net from our world. Jakabok manages to elude capture and eventually finds his way to the home of Johannes Gutenberg, whose wife turns out to be an angel in disguise. The book's format—simultaneously Botch's first-person narrative and his break-the-fourth-wall address to the reader pleading for him or her to burn the book—may puzzle readers unused to Barker's quirks.
And for those who like them, here is the trailer on Youtube:

This book begins by breaking down the fourth wall with a sledgehammer (more on this when I review "The Dress Lodger" on Thursday, a good comparison can be made between Barker's smashing of the fourth wall and Holman's flirting with it). It begins with a request that soon becomes a command:
Burn this Book!

And it continues from there as the Reader delves into the stream of consciousness, sometimes erratic and broken "story" of Jakabok Botch - Mr. B. As mentioned in the synopsis, Mr. B is a minor demon of the Ninth Circle, cruelly treated from birth by his horrible demon father and much abused demon mother. Though each of these characters evokes a strange kind of sympathy from the Reader, it is wasted on such remorseless creatures. They have been taught their whole lives that Hell is all there is, and it is only through Pappy's fear of the Above (when he and Mr. B get snatched in a human demon-trap) where you realize that there is much more to these terrible creatures then just the viles espoused in Judeo-Christian Literature.

To escape his mad existence in Hell, Mr. B writes the nasty most vilest things he can think of on papers and hides them from his parents. Of course this cannot remain the same and so his Father one day finds them and then they are burned - and unfortunately, Mr. B gets stuck in the middle of this, his face burning in the process when he passes out into the bonfire. This serves as the catalyst for him to escape his house, and actually, the entire ninth circle, being trapped in a net (with raw steak as bait) after his father chases him. His father and him are reeled out of Hell, but just as they are about to crest the earth, Mr. B cuts his father lose, watching as he falls from the boundary of the world through the circles of Hell all the way down. We presume he is dead, and so does Mr. B. And with him also goes the end of the systematic abuse and visciousness of the domestic abuse and his old life.

Mr. B himself recognizes this even as he encounters those who reeled him up. Of course they're crazy. Religious crazy. Within the span of a day, Mr. B "falls in love", kills his love, kills a lot more people, sends a mob after himself into the forest and ends up meeting Quintoon - a demon masking as a human, with the power of Hell that he unleashes to kill his enemies whenever he sees fit (usually be setting them on fire).

Quintoon and Mr. B (The nickname Mr. B was Quintoon's invention) begin a century of living together, wandering around Judeo-Christian Europe to wreak havoc on people and generally, look for "inventions" that will change the world. Their relationship is a very interesting one:
Mr. B seems repelled and attracted to Quintoon in a sexual way, though throughout their association, he juggles with this, first beating a path towards Quintoon and then retreating quickly from formal ties.

Their relationship finally comes to a head when Quintoon entreats Mr. B to travel with him to Mainz to check out a new invention, sure to revolutionize the world. On their way, under a sweltering sun, the two get into a fight and Quintoon attempts to kill Mr. B (instead he ends up killing off a few crops and humans). Afraid and fed up, Mr. B begins walking away - from Mainz and Quintoon, and the deeper relationship the two share. And then he turns back, unable to separate himself from this surrogate family member he made in Quintoon.

Through luck and interrogating citizens of Mainz, he finds where Quintoon has gone (to Gutenburg) and there he finds agents of both heaven and hell fighting to the death. Enter a long dialogue of good vs. evil - and how the two are so related so as not to be distinguishable - especially not when they each want their own way.

This book is raw. That would probably be the best way to describe it - it is a thought provoking piece, but it is raw. It cuts deep into what people think of the dichotomies we take for granted - that heaven is good, hell is bad, that demons are senseless mechanisms of destruction and angels are heavenly sent saviours. This exploration leads the Reader to reflect on the deeper meanings behind this, and the source of such beliefs. It also scares the crap out of you when you read it at night ...

I would recommend this book for seasoned Horror readers. Trust me - if all you've read is Jodi Picoult and Dan Brown, do not read this one yet. Spice it up with a few Stephen Kings, some Bentley Littles and Scott Wellington, and then read a bit of Revelations. Then come back and open this.

I liked it and recommend it, but with caution.
Favourite quotes will follow!

Cherrio! :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Those things I desire ...

Yes, more books. How can it not be?
Anyways, I am in love with this one:

Check out Book trailer here:

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sick ,,, so sick.

I know I said "Monday". But I have a great excuse! Or, rather, excuses:
1) I am so sick right now I think I singlehandedly funded the Kleenex industry this past week;
2) I had a bloody ConLaw midterm; and
3) I was helping 1Ls with their first year moots.

But now, now I am here and ready for the next review:
Steig Larsson's "Girl With a Dragon Tattoo"

First off - I must say: Loved. It was everything I thought it was going to be and then it slipped off the road well travelled and flew into infamy. But let's start with some basics.
Here's the synopsis:

Disgraced journalist Mikael Blomqvist is hired by Henrik Vanger to investigate the disappearance of Vanger’s great-niece Harriet. Henrik suspects that someone in his family, the powerful Vanger clan, murdered Harriet over forty years ago.

Starting his investigation, Mikael realizes that Harriet’s disappearance is not a single event, but rather linked to series of gruesome murders in the past. He now crosses paths with Lisbeth Salander, a young computer hacker, an asocial punk and most importantly, a young woman driven by her vindictiveness.

Together they form an unlikely couple as they dive deeper into the violent past of the secretive Vanger family.

Synopsis from

And here are a few reviews I thought were well done, even if I didn't totally agree with them:

Also, a little bit of trivia about the book:
  • Author, Steig Larsson is, unfortunately, dead - actually, there is debate right now as to whether or not he or his long time partner actually wrote the Millennium trilogy ( for more, and also about the movie adaptations and such)
  • The Swedish title is the aptly named, Men Who Hate Women
  • It has two follow ups (as is the case with trilogies, I suppose) The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest and The Girl Who Played with Fire.
Now to my thoughts on this book:
As mentioned before, I loved it. I found it hard to get through at times - for two reasons: first, the beginning of the book is heavy on the particulars of business transactions between a Swedish company and a post-communist Polish/Eastern Block deal, which can be confusing (I broke out a pen and a paper and started flowcharting it myself); secondly, it's graphic with the torture - of both men and women. This is not for the faint hearted. This is a story predominantly about power struggles.

Unfortunately, the majority of the power struggles are between women with little power and men with lots. And it is that imbalance that creates the tension by which the book speeds along. Particularly after
Blomqvist signs a contract and begins delving into the history of the Vanger family, the tensions play out to illustrate a dark world that is rife with unmediated terror for women in general.

And then in walks Lisbeth Salander.

She is present from the beginning, but it is through her own struggles with a more physically powerful man - her "guardian" - and her solution to him as a problem (that's where the graphic-ness really begins), that we begin to see that certain things can be done, or rather - more specifically, that rape is just a control and power thing, not a sexual thing. And it also makes me swell with justice, I think, to see such a man reduced to the sniveling bug he is. So through the graphic violence, there is much to celebrate in a way, as one of those women-hating men is brought down to his real size.

Though Salander is not perfect - int he feminist sense, I mean, referring to the article above - she is perfectly imperfect. She has suffered from birth it seems - psychologically, though it is never said how or why she became the way she is, she remains slightly unhinged in an alluring way.

Blomqvist also carries that unique allure - more to his thought processes I think, then his psychological trauma. He is a throwback to the seventies in a way - a free love in the technological age type, with his grey view of the world and his sharp mind.

Of note, for me anyway, is the strong female presence in the book: Asides from Salander, there is Berger -
Blomqvist's partner at the magazine Millenium and sometimes lover; The Vanger Family women - Harriet, Anita and Cecelia - and hell, even the absolutely evil Isabella. All are women with strong minds and wills that refuse to be broken completely. They take their troubles and move on, they never forget, but they use them to establish the ability to move ever forward. They are not perfect - sometimes you will hate them (esp. Issie, the bloody awful Mother/Neighbour/Person) but if you finish the book you will understand that they are strong and that makes them more real.

The plot itself was tight. There was no room for error - it clipped along at a good pace, the facts falling into place, the new technology of the 2000s coupled with the sharpness of two investigative minds able to solve a 33-year old mystery - yes, Readers, the mystery is solved (be prepared for even more graphic-ness).

All in all, amazing book with a compelling plot and real characters. I highly recommend this book and cannot wait to read the next two in the series! :D

That's all for now, Unfortunately I am still with the sickness :(
Pity me, oh Readers, Pity me. And my plugged nose.

Anyways, Until later:
Cherrio! :D

Saturday, March 13, 2010

It really is a sickness ...

So, today, after battling our way through an hour and a bit of a review with our (for once) kindly demon professor, me and some of the girls (Red, Russian and Smithy) decided to head to Mexicotown for some nummies and then to John King Bookstore to feed the addiction.

Heh heh. Ha.

Here's John King:

Yep - four floors of floor to ceiling books! Amazing, right? And very very very reasonably priced, too! Great staff, a little drafty and some of the most fun you can have in D-Town.

Here's there website if you're ever in Detroit:

Anyways, among the stacks of amazing finds, Smithy and I played a game - it was basically, read the titles of old forgotten books and then say them out loud in a string of events that would create some sort of hilarity.

Trust me - it was great! Things like "Annie's Captain ... Shipwrecked ...on... A Lonley Island ... A great Adventure she's ... THe Nun's Story" tee heee. They were sometimes dirtier, sometimes funnier.

So I bought books, let's not go into how much I spent, but let's list them all for you:

And a really old copy of Victor Hugo's Les Mis

In sum:
Tracy Chevalier's The Lady and the Unicorn, The Girl with the Pearl Earring and Falling Angels
Melissa De La Cruz's Blue Bloods and Masquerade
Jennifer Cruise's Welcome to Temptation
Alan Isler's The Bacon Fancier
Carl Hiaasen's Skinny Dip
Umberto Eco's The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
Sheri Holman's The Dress Lodger
Brent Monahan's The Blood of the Covenant
The Autobiography of Santa Claus as told to Jeff Guinn

So excited to get started!
I know, I have a sickness ...
But at about $5/book ... how can anyone say no, right?

Anyways, onwards and upwards...
The boy is in Colorado for a week. Good for him, sucks for me with this stupid midterm.
Life, right?

Now I sit here listening to Lauryn Hill (seriously, love her want her - where is she?) and eating my decadence of the day: mini eggs. Oh why did the Russian let me keep these?

Rain, rain, raining all day.
Life, again.
Only wet this time.

Should be studying @$$ off for this midterm, but feel okay after that review session this morning. Pitiful turnout, but then that's law school for you! Shout out to the Puppy Mummies for coming out, too.

Need to get on painting too. Sigh. Painting. I want my camera fixed. Then I can add pictures! :D

Start on review again on Monday!
Cheerio! :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Professor's tie was Winnie the Pooh on it....

... And that's when you know it will be a good class! :D

Tally-ho, Readers! (All 2 of you!)
So my Mom finished the book I wrote. Her initial comment was "It's good." and me, not being satisfied with good comments and requiring some sort of criticism (either because I have a negative personality or because I hate myself, I don't know) from my Mother, urged her to come forward and spill her guts all over my work. So she said: "I am not sure why you need your characters having sex - it doesn't do anything to the plot, you know?".
Hrm ...
Things to ponder (though I respectively disagree with my Mother).

My Sister's comment after reading it was "I don't agree with Mom, but why did you leave it a cliff hanger? Did you just not finish it?"

Thanks, Blondie, Thanks.

Then other sister read it and her comment was: "I finished one whole book! You should be rpoud of me and impressed - why do I have to give you feedback!?"

Me: "You're my target audience."

Her : "You wrote this for me!?"

Me. *bangs head on desk* "No .... you're between the ages of 16 and 24."

Her: "Yes. I am 17."

Me: *Looks around at the ceiling waiting for the cameras to roll out* "Yes, I am targeting this to your age group."

Her. *Pause* "Oh. Okay. Well - finish the next one, I want to know what happens."

Boyfriend is currently "reading it".
That means, for those who do not know him (i.e. everyone) that he leaves it next to his bed with a boommark in it so I see it when I come over, but doesn't actually have "anything to say because I want to read it all first" ... yeah ... "read", sure ....


Today seems like a posting day .... stay tuned! :D

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How do you know when your mandarin has fermented?

This is a serious question - my mandarins taste like wine ... is that normal?

Mmmm... wine.....

And back to business!
Today - a review! But of what you say? I say:

Yes - it is not fiction. But it almost reads as if it were some sort of apocalyptic text: the end of the world through 20th century gastronomy!
An in-depth exposé of how the modern food system is putting our food supply in serious danger—with startling new evidence and guidance on what we can do to reclaim control of what we eat.

IN THE END OF FOOD, award-winning Canadian journalist and part-time farmer Thomas F. Pawlick documents the impending food crisis and traces its direct cause to the harmful methods of food production and processing currently used by the so-called agri-food industries—a corporate-run “factory farm” system that increasingly values profits over nourishment—to the detriment of everyone’s health and well-being. It’s a bleak picture, backed by hard-hitting evidence and true stories, but Pawlick makes it abundantly clear that it is not too late and devotes the latter part of the book to the many ways that ordinary citizens can take back control of the food supply by becoming active on a local level. This is an essential handbook for informing ourselves about the frightening but real decline of the quality of the food we eat and a self-defense guide to what everyone can do to put a stop to it.

It starts with a sorry story of a tomato and goes on to both terrify and mobilize people.

I must say - when my Boyfriend's little sister gave this to me and told me to read it, I was initially annoyed with it - I mean, isn't it bad enough I feel bad eating everything anyway? Now this Pawlick fellow has to make it worse? Dammnit.

Oh but, ladies and gentlemen, it was good. Very good.

I could not put it down the whole day, I just kept being horrified by facts and figures - only putting a bookmark in to run to wikipedia to verify things. And verification is what I got. Scary right?

I can't really go into the content, unfortunately - that is part of the magic of the book, but his writing style is clean and even slightly story-like, which I think is probably through the fact that he does tell a story here - a story about the destruction of our own natural resources.

I highly recommend this - especially for those who still believe tomatoes taste the same as they did when you were a kid!


Also, my Mom read my book.

I asked her what she thought.

Her response: "I don't understand why you have to put sex in it."

Thank, Mom :)

Cheerio all!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I have an Addiction...'s literature.
I need books, I crave books - I relax in the presence of books, with that musty old book smell hanging in the air...

So, Russian Princess and I went out to a bookstore we found in Windsor (I know, right? Who knew?)! It is called Juniper Books - and it is a HOUSE. An entire three floor bungalow filled to the nooks and crannies with books!
Here is the website:
If you are in the Windsor - Essex Area, I demand you stop by! You won't be disappointed.
So I set a $50 limit going in - went over by 33 cents! Go me!
This is what I bought:

8 books!
Not bad, right?
Anyways, a little about why I bought the:
In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant
I read The Birth of Venus and was instantly enamoured with her writing style, her story telling - everything. And so I must read this one too. And everything else this woman has touched!
Just the Way You Are by Christina Dodd
As with Ms. Dunant - Love the Dodd books! Just, love! So I must pick them up when I see them.
The Alienist by Caleb Carr
I read this years ago - and loved it! And never bought it (though I did buy the second one, Angel of Darkness) - I highly recommend this!
Nocturnals by John Connolly
I read The Gates and so this has been on my list since October! So excited!
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
I read this one years ago, as well - and watched the movie. Own it, actually. Amazing! :)
The Warrior Queens by Antonia Fraser
Love this woman! I really do. My love affair with her started in the summer of 20o2 when I needed a book to read on the ten hour trip the beach mentioned in the previous post - I picked up The Wives of Henry VIII and fell in instant love.
A Certain Chemistry by Mill Millington
I have never read any of his books, but - his website is bloody brilliant (link: )

Anyways - just had to share! :D
Now I am off to making fun of best friend McP while she sings at me "Oooh Watcha Say blahblahblah" and we look for online resources for her grade 8s!

Cheerio! :)

Ketchup is evil.

It is.
When the aliens come to take over our brains - they will do it through poisoning the ketchup - I mean, tomatoes shouldn't be sweet. Yeck.
Anyways ... moving on (though now I am thinking about how it's interesting that all those great horror movie antagonists - zombies, aliens, etc - want us for our brains ... except Vampires. Maybe that's why they're sexy?) Civil Procedure! I love my professor. I think he is amazing.
I have come to a loggerheads with my bookshelf - what to review?
I wanted to review "Mister B. Gone" by Clive Barker - but I still have to wrap my head around that one, you know?
Then there are the Christina Dodd's I was reading in January: "Tongue in Chic" and "Here Comes Trouble" - but I wanted to review those with the other two in the series ... which I have not read yet.
So then I decided to cheat a little (so these won't count in my 2010 Read-a-thon) and review my go-to books when I am depressed:
Three Fates by Nora Roberts.

(PS. I totally want this cover, on the left - I have the other one. I want both - my consumer whore-ism rears its head)
So here is the synopsis:
Irish siblings Malachi, Gideon, and Rebecca Sullivan cherish the family legend of their great-great-grandfather's acquisition of one of the Fates, a trio of priceless, long-separated silver statues. When the Sullivans' Fate is stolen by an unscrupulous New York antiquities dealer, they vow to retrieve the little silver lady, and thus begins a quest that will send them racing across Europe, traveling through Ireland, and dodging killers in New York City. Most importantly, their search for their Fate and her two sister statues brings them into the world of a brilliant female mythology professor, a free-spirited exotic dancer, and a security expert adept at breaking and entering. This diverse sextet must meld their talents in order to thwart their enemy, retrieve the stolen statue, and stay alive while administering their particular brand of justice.

Not a bad synopsis - I like the use of adjectives. Now the "brilliant female mythology expert" is Tia, the "Free-spirited exotic dancer" is Cleo, and the "security expert adept at breaking and entering" is Jack. In the spirit of Nora Roberts, all 3 siblings/main characters find love. Malachi with Tia, Gideon with Cleo and Becca with Jack. Enter a few murders, a trip to Ireland, a bitch (Anita), and an Irish Mother who runs things quietly in the background - and you've got a Nora Roberts-esque crime/mystery with a romantic twist.
As I said - I love this book (which can effectively be broken into three books, of course)! I love the fact that all the characters are in such contrast with one another on the face of it, and yet when they are boiled down to their most desperate, they are alike in many ways. I like the romantic interplay between the three siblings and their romantic interests, and the strong female characters in the book.
As is typical in romance books, the men are described perfectly, the women imperfectly, which is the point. They are also super overprotective of their conquests, to the point of hilarity in some scenes where the women fight back. I like that the male characters aren't perfect. There is a scene where Jack is watching Becca roam around in his house through his cameras, and she begins to undress. And he watches until the last moment before turning away. It's that struggle that makes him believable. Same with Gideon and his unease, both with Cleo's past career as an exotic dancer, and her distrust of him. And Malachi is riddled with flaws, the prime being of course, pride. However, the language is edgy, and realistic, the people understandable and empathetic and this makes me crave it on those lonely nights when Boyfriend is in TdotOh and I am in South Detroit, pining.
The plot itself is tight - the siblings and their lovebugs flow off the page at a run, beginning in the past - off the coast of Ireland, through Sweden, Ireland, Eastern Europe, New York etc. Everything moves fast, but the steam scenes are slow and toe curling good. They are punctured with humour and vivid language so that you feel what is going on. It's excellent.
Obviously, I recommend this book.
I am not a huge Roberts fan - I do like some of her books, but I don;t avidly wait for the next release. However, having said that, when she gets it right, she shines. This may be one of my favourite books. Followed closely by her Dance of the Gods trilogy.
So it's a bit of a cheat, but it counts for me. I read Three Fates on the plane to Portugal in 2003. It is 2010 and I still reread it. IT actually still smells like sand from the time I took it to the beach. Mmm, beach smells.
I miss the beach. The good weather here has made me nostalgic for the sun tanning, swimming and lemonade that I associate with the beach. Sigh.
Because of this, I am including a picture of the beachmy family goes to on occassion, in Ocean City Maryland:

Le sigh.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

This is What Frustrated Looks Like ...

Eh.... I decided not to put up my mug shot. I look very bad - trust me. It does not help that my Father is blasting the Benfica game loudly in my ear. Sigh.

Does not help that Boyfriend eagerly jumped at the chance to watch said game instead of listening to me recite from my book. The blaggard.

Onwards ...

Today - another two part review:

Strange, I came upon this series when perusing the shelves at the Indigo at the Eaton Centre (back when I was gainfully employed) with Cookie - now, I suppose I should tell you about Cookie. A few years ago ... I think it was Christmas 2007 or 2006 ... Let me think ... yes, Xmas '07, and I was working downtown (where I hope to work this summer) and McP and I went into the bookstore to find good Xmas presents - for her then-bf-now-fiancee (Pk) and my sister, Blondie. Anyways, we found a super cute youngish boy to be at our beck and call ... except that he was not knowledgeable about ... well, anything. I was looking at the paranormal romance for Blondie (she is such the fan) and McP was looking for a good mystery. And I was also in the Horror section because I had just gotten into a few series there and wanted to see what else they had. Anyways, cute guy runs away and brings back a God - named Cookie. Cookie is in his late 40s with a sort of beard and a long chestnut braid. He has glasses, tonnes of earrings, tattoos, a tongue ring, and is built like a biker. He was a biker. Then he decided that his biker tendencies were more akin to style instead of substance. So now he worked there - and he was a God! Hearing our bequests, he runs us around the store and introduced me to a bunch of things I promptly bought and devoured (they included, Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, "Sunshine" by Robin McKinley, and "13 Bullets" by internet sensation David Wellington). Anyways, that is Cookie. Yes, that's his name.

So, I was at Chapters, maybe a year later, talking about my obsession with Jasper Fforde and such when we came across the second book (Belong to Me). I am a sucker for good cover art. So I grabbed it. I read the back and bid Cookie adieu as he had other customers waiting, and then I took it to the cash and bought it. About Chapter Two I realized it was the second of a series and went out in search of #1. I found a copy of it in mid 2009, and finally got around to reading both after a wicked awesome New Years Party.

Loved Them.

So, let's start with the first: "Loved Walked In" - I admit, I was not entirely convinced at first. Cornelia seemed a tad dreamlike, her objectives so single minded - must have a man. This is not me. Not me to the point of spending half the time I was reading the first few chapters, wondering what the heck was going on in her brain ... then enter Clair - the other main character. Amazing girl - again, a tad dream like at first, though there is always this ominous black cloud hanging over her - like the fates have taken a special interest in destroying her world. Of course, that is what happens and it is at the moment that Clair's life is destroyed and she gets together with Cornelia that the book takes an upward swing and becomes an instant classic for me.

The relationship between Cornelia and Clare is the focus of the book - how their own faults are related to their outside relationships is filtered through the lens of their interactions with each other - and the tragedies that they both suffer together are mitigated through their relationship. This little girl and little woman are opposites that somehow, lend each other strength in order to become true heroines. There is a lot of pain and disappointment, but all in all, this is a coming of age story set in two distinct periods of time in each life that creates a nuanced kind of story.

The end of the novel left me in tears, slightly disappointed, but also slightly relieved. I was glad that Cornelia's story would continue solo for the next, and glad that Clare's wish was finally realized in terms of her mother.

The second book opens up a little while after the first.

It starts out with a move for Cornelia, and the hubby - the face you will remember from the first book since he melted our hearts and heated our loins - Teo. They are moving from their city hipsterness to a suburb of Philly, hoping to start a family. Enter crazy neighbours that have a Stepford quality. And, Piper. She seems like the neighbour from Hell - but when it's her turn to narrate - let's just say that I could not put the book down when it was inside the head of Piper. Amazing. There is another storyline that ties into Clare again - a character more mature and more flippant, I think - but for me, it was all about the contrast between Piper and Cornelia and the way that one echoes the other eerily, though subtly - so I was not initially aware of it. But it does creep up on you and eventually you realize that all of them - all these faulty characters, are essentially the same types of hopes and dreams and let downs, and the percentage of let down determines which character you're reading.

I really liked the second book - probably a tad more then the first. I think it is a fresh perspective on an otherwise scarily retold story (seriously? What is the current obsession with revisiting the housewife thing?) . I like the characters and how they clash against each other, sometimes painfully, to produce such a sad but comforting novella.

I highly recommend both books - especially for those who poo poo women writing about women in general and the romance genre in specific. There is great substance in this - read it, and I'll prove it to you.

So boyfriend left.
Not before making fun of my own writing attempt - but then, that's his way of saying "I am so proud of you!" I'm sure.
Mother has decided to read my book. Goddess save me.
And I am still getting through a few books:
- Steig Larsson's "Girl with a Dragon Tattoo" (really good, but heavy)
- "The Seamstress" by Brazillian born Frances de Pontes Peebles
- "Twenties Girl" by Sophie Kinsella (swloly but surely! This one keeps making me cry)
- "Weaveworld" by Clive Barker (I have been reading this since August 2008 - sad, right?)
+ others.

I think I will review ... hrm ... Not sure what I will review yet.
Surprise for tomorrow?
Anyways, the count is at: 7 for 2010! Go me!
I should be at: ... 9.
But then, I don't type all that fast.


Friday, March 5, 2010

No book, just thoughts...

...And shameless self promotion (Thanks to for that beauty)!

So, like, I went home last night, to Toronto (Ontario, Canada - TdotOh!) where I found my cat had knocked over all my meticulously piled books (broken shelf) in a amusing if baffling effort to reach the paintbrushes I keep on the top shelf. Anyways, in a fit of insanity that masked itself as OCD cleanliness, I started cleaning it all up and ended up making a fort with the books, dvds, art supplies and a shoe box. Anyways, I reached for the shoe box and my cat's head popped out of it with an angry "Meow!" (but he's deaf, so it sounded more like "Mrowr") and proceded to glare at me with those soul ending green eyes until I let up on my attempt to kidnap the box and found another box to take its place in the giant nerd fort.

It reminds me of McP and mine's "Wall of Awesome" (aka. Project Book LB into her room for the rest of the year)...
Here's a picture:

Yeah ... that's me and the Wall.
And yeah, that's me in front of the wall - ensuring me a spot in the 9th circle (which is possibly, my grade 11 Classical Civ classroom - Thanks, Ms. Riggin/Ms. Athens 30BCE).
The story behind this is one part sad, one part frustrated, and one part sleep deprived students having fun - in case you don't know math - that means, 3 parts of crazy!
Anyways, Our roommate LB (aka crazy psycho cat lady with a wish to sink metallic claws into any boy who makes $150k/annum and looks like Ken) hates books. Yes I know - crazy! Well, re. nickname, right? Anyways, so she was gone for the week and she had left us some list or another of things to do in her absence (because as 23 year old post grads, we were clueless on how to operate - what did I do before her? Such dark, bleak times ...). So we were not feeling the love towards good old LB. Somehow, through our joking around, we came up with a brilliant - BRILLIANT! - April Fool's Joke! Let's brick her into her room early on April 1st morning - with books! We will pile them up until they reach all the way to the top (between Me and McP - we can totally do that) and you see that book at the top in the picture? The Vampire book? With good old David (aka Keifer Sutherland as a vampire from "The Lost Boys" - PS. Luuuuuurve that movie!) on the cover? That would be at her eye level! Can you imagine? *Snickers uncontrollably*

Anyways, the Wall of Awesomeness has been abandoned ... for now. It helps that McP and I are trying to move all our stuff out of the flat so that we can shenanigan out of there on April 30th after last exam (well, McP is a teacher - so last class, but you know what I mean, yeah?).

One day, the WoA will be resurrected!
*battle cry*
Anyways - to my fort. It is awesome - why have I never built a book fort before?
Now, unfortunately, I have discovered a catch.
Benjamin Bradley - the white deaf cat with a heart murmur who now reaches my chest when he stretched up to get my attention - does not like book forts. In fact, he is morally, ethically and possibly anatomically offended by them. Therefore, it had to die. It had to die a quick death where the crashing of books into other books and the floor would resound through my house and make my half naked 17 year old sister run out of her room screaming "What the hell was that!?". Anyways, he jumped on it. Then he found (don't ask me how) my 1906 printed Jane Eyre and sat on it. That is how I found him.
Note to self - Deaf cats do not hear screams of "Why!? Oh Goddess!? - why!? What have I done ... Dammnit! That's Jane Eyre! Do not sit on Jane! Bloody Benjamin! Off!".
No, the deaf cat will stare at you, then lick himself.
Onto the Shameless Self Promotion! :D
So I write. Or at the very least, I try to write.
In highschool, I was a very active writer - stories and novels and news articles. Somehow, in my all girl Catholic high school - I was seen as a radical (no? really?) and was banned from the newspaper starting in Grade 12. Bloody rulemakers! *shakes fist*
Anyways, I just got my own proof for a book I finished in the tenth grade, tweaked a little for NANOWRIMO and submitted.

[ Me and "By the Night", told you - shameless]
Now I am all sorts of inspired and want to write more and ... PUBLISH! Can you imagine? I can! And I want it!
Would you read something (asides from a blog) by me?
More thoughts!
Why is it that the female body (or naked bodies, in general) are still offensive to people? I mean, seriously? After thousands of years of development and technology and such - hasn't there been some sort of progress? No ... sadly, no. See:
Why is it that I want money, need money - and yet it makes me feel a tad icky?
And when did "feminism" become a bad word, dammnit!? I am bloody proud to be a feminist - and you should, too!
Also - how do you get back a book from a crazy psycho roommate without talking to her (as she will cry and tell you all her emotional and developmental problems are because you yelled at her for deliberately locking you out of your own room - loooooong story) or outright stealing it from the shelf in her room where I can see it wedged between Black's law dictionary (which is an absurdly expensive book - and it's brown, not black) and a Bible?

'Til next time!
Cheerio! :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Typing like a madwoman...

That is what I do.
All the time.
So today I will do a review of a chicklit book (yay!)
And possibly rant about life.
Thou art warned.

Stephanie Bond's "Body Movers"
So Carlotta Wren''s life hasn''t turned out as she''d planned. She didn''t plan for her parents to skip bail for a white-collar crime, leaving her to raise her brother. She didn''t plan on having the silver spoon ripped from her mouth and forgoing college to work retail. She didn''t plan on her blue-blood fiancé dumping her. And she didn''t plan on still being single ten years later, working at Neiman Marcus, with no idea where her fugitive parents are. But she''s coping. Until-

-her lovable brother is arrested, and the hunky cop decides to reopen her parents'' case.

-her brother becomes a body mover for the morgue, and his sexy boss gets Carlotta involved.

-her former fiancé''s wife (a good customer) is murdered, fingering Carlotta.

With three men in her life, Carlotta has added motivation to help bag a murderer to keep her own well-dressed body from being next on the list!

So I began this book in 2010, forgetting completely that I had read several Stephanie Bond novels before and enjoyed their quirkiness. She tends to write heroines that are imperfect completely which makes the delicious reads (yes, I just wrote "delicious", go figure). Anyways - this one is no different. It is a quick read about the crazy life of one of the girls from her earlier "Party Crashers". Poor Carlotta has to raise her idiot 19-year-old brother, juggle men who are all desirable but not all trustworthy, and zany friends and fed up neighbours and mortgage payments.

The story starts in this haphazard state where you completely sympathize with the fact that the woman is at her rope's end. And then it moved beyond that so that you cringe when she cringes, and cry when she cries. But it's not all doom and gloom. In fact, it's really funny. REALLY funny.

Bond's characters are fresh and original - they strike a good balance between "out there" wacky and bending stereotypes. I highly recommend it - and the rest of the series ( I should try a series review, ne c'est pas?) is excellent!

So, as I sit here looking idly at the monitors of my classmates for lack of anything better to do except laugh with Prof O (he really is the best professor ever - not everyone can make civil procedure even mildly interesting. Love his piranha stories!) and I am wondering - what is with this idea that boredom is bad?
In undergrad, I took a first year Introduction to Western Philosophy class (*drool* professor Kingwell, *drool* I love that man with all my gonads!) and we got to German philosophers. They rank up there beyond the English (and by English, I mean Scottish, and by Scottish I mean David Hume whose red hair makes me think of cinnamon hearts because I love his now deceased brain), but before those nut jobs that were the French. Anyways, there was one (whose name, of course, escapes me now) who spun an entire theory on the idea that boredom is required and should be encouraged by Philosophers. The beautiful manbrain that is Kingwell, described it as such:
"Imagine you are on the subway, it's one in the morning, the older gentleman who thinks he's Santa Clause is sleeping next to the doors, a working woman is lounging across from him, newspapers are strewn throughout the floor, and you are in the middle, half dead from studying so hard, and just staring ahead, avoiding all eyes and with nothing to occupy your mind - what happens?"
Nevermind what my classmates said ... (nothing good?) ... but what he was getting at was that this situation of boredom forces your brain to begin thinking about things. Not necessarily philosophical things, he admitted, but you got to start somewhere, right?
Anyways, the theory is that through enforced listlessness, you create thought processes that question everything which acquires you wisdom, and therefore, it is a philosophy. Or something. I got a B+ in the class. My second Under A in my illustrious career - bloody hell, the start of my decline ...
Anyways, this idea has always stuck with me. That boredom creates philosophy. And here's where the monitors come in. With all this over stimulation of technological networking and such, that beg us to keep our brains engaged in real time - what happens to philosophy?
Unfortunately, The Jersey Shore comes to mind, and I just cringe at the possibility that the youth of the nation will end up being so totally stupid that life itself will be endangered (see "Idiocracy").
Rants. I love rants.

Cheerio! :)