Monday, January 31, 2011

One, Two ... Seven?

Or more.

See, I have this habit of getting semi-bored, or just tired or annoyed at a book and switching to another. And at some points, I juggle 8 or so books, keeping all the plots and characters straight in my head.For example, currently I am co-reading:

  • Tithe by Holly Black 
  • Storm of Visions by Christina Dodd
  • Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
  • Fallen by Lauren Kate 
  • Lunarmorte by Sam Young
  • The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  • The Woods by Harlan Coben 
  • The Dead Girl's Dance by Rachel Caine

Now, this is normal for me. I know exactly where I left off for each book - The morning after the graveyard party in Tithe; When Caleb divulges to the reader that Jacqueline is wearing his mother's wedding night gown in Storm of Visions; when Urdda integrates herself with Muddy Annie in Tender Morsels; The first day of classes in Fallen; The first chapter of Lunamorte (in my defense, I just got it this weekend); the gate in the forest in The Dead-Tossed waves; The Return to the Dome in Catching Fire; The shovel scene in The Woods; and Shane's realization that Michael is "alive" in The Dead Girl's Dance.

I know all the characters and all the plots, I have my theories and my hopes and everything else mixed up in what I am reading.

And it's not that I am bored, so much as I need a change.
Here's an example: In the tenth grade I heard of The Lovely Bones - well actually, funnily enough, I mixed it up at first with Bag of Bones by Stephen King - funny story for another post, maybe. The point is this: When I finally got The Lovely Bones, I picked it up eagerly, excited to get into the book and tear through it.

After the first chapter I had to put it down. I was so full of emotion and felt so gross, I had to put it down for a while. When I entered grade eleven, I was like - Okay, time to finish this book! And I picked it up again. I made it about halfway through in about a month, and then had to put it down again. It took me a little longer, but I finally finished it by the beginning og grade twelve. In between all those months and readings, I didn't abstain from books - I kept reading. I read a lot. And I always kept The Lovely Bones in the back of my head, on a shelf, waiting for when I was ready for the next part. It is just how I operate, I guess.

And then there are times where I pick up a book and race through it, unable to put it down because then I won't know what happens. This past year (2010) I have had a few of those: All the Vampire Academy books; The Secret History of the Pink Carnation; The Forest of Hands and Teeth; etc. And this year I have already started with Storm of Visions - the last book I picked up, and now I must finish it (projected finish date: tonight). It's interesting to think of I think.

And then there are books that are slow to pick up and then I am immersed in it and need to finish it. And there are ones that I start off strong, and then peter off by the end. And it really has no efefct on how much I like it - it is just where I am at when I pick it up.

Interesting to think of, I think.

How do you guys read? Slow and steady? One at a time? A massive amount at a time?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wicked Contest Alert!

Hey guys, I just noticed that Bloody Bookaholic is having a wicked contest over at her blog, and you should definitely go check it out!

Link here and on the "Contest Alert" sidebar -->

Thanks! :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sharp and Pointy...

Teeth, that is.

I just finished the Advanced Reading Copy I won a while back from April Nichole's Blog and I must say: Awesome!

Here is the synopsis, such that there can be:

Sink your teeth into these bite-sized tales exploring the intersections among the living, dead, and undead. The vampires in these stories range from romantic to chilling to gleeful—and touch on nearly every emotion in between. The one thing they have in common? Their desire for blood.

I have said before: Vampires are my third love - tying for third anyway, with the Faes. And as such, next to Zombies and Weres - I jump at a chance to read a story about the living undead (or however you choose to define them).

The one thing about this anthology - before I even get into the stories themselves - the introduction by editors Datlow and Windling - it blew me away! They were such learned people who really considered the subject matter and the reach of the subject matter before delving in and writing this. They are superb and the introduction is top notch. I really appreciated having such an internationally minded and detailed introduction to these stories.

And the care! The care they took in choosing these stories is mind numbingly amazing! I cannot believe the range of these stories - they were all so well done! Granted, some top notch authors are on this list. Authors I adore like Neil Gaiman. But also authors I have never heard of - but am now itching to read more of. Authors like Genevieve Valentine whose story blew me away.

So, I thought I would do a little blurb on each of the stories:(19 in total - so pull up a mug of hot cocoa and enjoy)

“Things to Know About Being Dead” by Genevieve Valentine

This story just blew me away. It's about a girl who gets into a car accident, and because of how she dies (i.e. violently) she comes back as, what her grandmother terms, a jiang-shi - like a vampire, but even stranger. The way it is written and the ending touched me, and I really liked the depth of the characters - especially the burgeoning personality of her "imaginary" friend.

"All Smiles" by Steve Berman

I didn't know what to expect with this story at first: it's about a boy,a serial killer - but you instantly feel so protective and so in tune with him - the poor guy is sent to some camp where he is relatively sure the other kids mean to beat the crap out of him. So he escapes, and all the hurt and anger that well in him, comes off the page. He is met by a pair of strangers who pick him up (he's hitchhiking) and cue the ensuing madness. I liked this tale - even though the vampires were at a minimum, because of the raw potential you see in Saul (the main character) - he's so vibrantly written that you feel you know him - or know someone like him. The Vampires are just a calling to Saul's inner self coming out finally, after being repressed for so long.

"Gap Year" by Christopher Barzak

When a story opens with Vampires coming to town and hosting a free for all in the high school gym ... I am not sure where to go with it. However, for this story - it works. Retta is so angry, and so passive, and somehow the Vampires bring out her wild side, her potential and her understanding of the world - the title itself, "Gap Year", refers to that year between high school and college that some people take - and it makes sense with the end of this story, in an almost sad way.

"Bloody Sunrise" by Neil Gaiman

I have been a fan of Neil Gaiman since the twelfth grade when a friend of mine, JH, loaned me his copy of Neverwhere and told me it would be right up my alley. Of course, he was right (and dudes - go read it, and watch the tv movie too - believe it or not, the movie preceded the book in this case). There is a reason to my life of Neil Gaiman - his prose is excellent. He could write about a blade of grass, and somehow make it interesting - make it dynamic, even. He has that kind of pull. So imagine what he can do with Vampires!? I know, right?

"Flying" by Delia Sherman

A circus! And a girl, Lenka, with blood cancer in a Vampire novella - serious! Nice thinking! And pulled off so well. Lenka runs off with a strange little Eastern European circus, and she's so in tune and intelligent - she figures out what's going on - but she's too clever to just dwell on it - so she does something about it. And it such a bittersweet ending - really well done!

"Vampire Weather" by Garth Nix

Garth Nix is one of those authors who has existed in the periphery of my reading-world for a long time, but until I got Zombies vs. Unicorns, and now Teeth, I have not read. His Unicorn/Zombie story in the former and this one in Teeth were both excellent! Like, this one covers a village after the Vampires have been outed, but are starving due to the whole world getting vaccinated (the vaccination, it is implied, makes the blood poisonous to vampires), and there exists these little villages and outposts (like the Amish or the Hutterites, they refuse to get vaccinations) that still abide by the old ways of protecting against vampires - staying indoors at night, carrying crosses and garlic, etc. The story's main character suddenly has his world turned upside down when he meets his new neighbour down the road, Tangerine. Enter madness. Well executed madness. I really liked the dynamic - and I will admit, it had a little taste of dystopia which instantly peaked my interest.

"Late Bloomer" by Suzy McKee Charnas

Ivan works at an antiques market, where he sullenly watches the days go by. Then he meets an old woman interested in very unique antiques he doesn't understand. And then he realizes what he's stumbled on ... The play between the always-child and the mentor is very interesting in this story, but what is more interesting, at least for me, is the fact that the two vampires are both women who are a tad manic - but they are in a constant power struggle with one another, not for any man but for each other - it's a subtle distinction, but it's really refreshing to see.

"The List of Definite Endings" By Kaaron Warren

Claudia the Vampire is bored with life, but not bored enough to kill herself. This is told from her perspective and it goes through all her former lovers and friends and how she slowly isolated herself from her own kind. Through her long life, she has,however, found a friend in Ken - who was a long time ago, supposed to be her dinner, but now is the only man she truly cares about. In many ways, she is going through the motions - but the beauty of her story is the fact that she still recognizes life when she sees it - which leads us to this amazing conclusion!

"Best Friends Forever" by Cecil Castellucci

Gina and Amy are BFFs like anyone else ... except one is a dead girl and the other is the walking undead. I think this story is endearing - it's one of those stories of enduring, unlikely friendship - one that is initially based on lies, but as it grows, becomes so life altering and honest that it almost hurts to read the ending. And it is worth reading the ending. The ending was packed in so well - I highly recommend a kleenex.

"Sit the Dead" by Jeffrey Ford.

Wicked. So wicked. This story is about a boy with low self confidence and a hot girlfriend from somewhere in Eastern Europe. In an attempt to impress her and her family, he agrees to sit with her crazy uncle over the coffin of her dead aunt for the night, for some vague family tradition. He thinks it's creepy, but it will be fine. Of course, her aunt has something in her and it's going crazy ... I liked this story. I mean - Vampire hunting family types? Predestined Vampirism? Eastern Europe in a nutshell? It reminded me, actually, of a movie from Romania called Strigoi. It is something like traditional meets the craziness that is Vampires of the modern age - very well done!

"Sunbleached" by Nathan Ballingrud

This is a sad one. You see the end coming, and your heart breaks for the in character - the danger, of course, is in taunting the near dead vampire who is living under your house. The dynamic and power struggle between the dangerous undead and the little boy who holds the key to his safety is an exciting read - and the ending will blow you away (I kept hoping it would change). But the portrayal of the vampire especially was so well done - particularly when contrasted to the hopelessness of the hurricane-torn neighbourhood and the little boys.

"Baby" by Kathe Koj

This is a weird one - about a bat boy. It is also a coming of age story, and I like that about it. It's written in the first person, which makes it quite in your face. This story in particular reads like a love story - or more importantly, a love letter. From the girl, to this strange little bat creature. And somehow, somehow it works. Really well and really creepy like. I have to say that this is in my Top 5. Though it didn't hit me right away - this was a slow growing appreciation. But the growing up and growing out of old family traditions and such - it's really interesting.

"In the Future When All's Well" by Catherynne M. Valente

This is another Dystopian short story - sort of. This is a world where all the legends are to be taken literally: and since there are so many differing (and sometimes contradicting) legends, almost all teenagers become vampires. It's a story about paranoia and isolationism, and doing what's best for our kids through fear instead of knowledge. It was really well written - less thriller then thoughtful, and I feel that if it were a full length knowledge it would be on m y shelf in a second. As a short story, I was kind of upset when it ended, but after lettign it roll around in my head for a few days - I liked the ending.

"Transition" by Melissa Marr

Eliana is kind of a "bad girl" who fantasizes about Vampire bites, and then realizes, it is not so much a fantasy at all. This is very much a territorial story - it sets boundaries that work within the story that carry certain connotations - for example, like heterosexual monogamous relationships. However, as a story and to prove what it is - basically, fear and the overtaking of older generations, it is well done!

"History" by Ellen Kushner

This one was a very calm, almost break within the rest - mostly, I think because it dealt with the question any Vampire lover reader thinks of at a certain point: what's the age difference really mean? And there is this thread of academic curiosity at war with emotions that fills this story and makes it real - it makes me think I could be that girl, walking down that river with that man and thinking those exact same things. And that, for me, is remarkable.

"The Perfect Dinner Party" by Cassandra Clare & Holly Black

This is one of the creepiest stories I have read - not because of suspense, not because of tension or thrill - but rather, because it includes a little girl who likes to hurt others. And you only realize that later, but throughout the whole story she is so ... cold and calculating. It really is a scary thing. I like both these authors immensely and I think their mix of the satirical mannerisms and survival of self, impostering a child, while being inside an adult - it reminds me of Anne Rice's work - so well done!

"Slice of Life" by Lucius Shepard

Louie/Elle has been in the same Florida town her whole life and it has stained her. I think that alone is worth rereading - the stain of a small town, and all that comes with it. It is a very interesting concept. And one that I think bears thought. From this, Louie/Elle meets Sandrine - a vampire stuck in a roofless house surrounded by mirrors, waiting for her death at the mouth of a Djadadj. Unlike the "Best Friends Forever" short story - this is a very different girl friends relationship - it is almost destructive, but just as strong, it's a very interesting contrast and I like the way that Shepard explores this, even while back lighting against their own respective histories and stories. Very well done.

"My Generation" by Emma Bull

This poem flows - and it echoes. It is very much one of those poems that explains a generation. And it really does. it's at turns cheeky, deep and thoughtful and I like the combination of sour and sweet to equal parts dry. I think it is just short enough to copy onto a notebook cover too, lucky me! :)

"Why Light?" by Tanitha Lee

Daisha's story when she leaves home to be married off to a Vampire, unlike her, who cannot walk in the day, but is heir to an empire, named Zeev. This story is a Pride and Prejudice story - because of their preconceived notions of one another and where they come from, they don't give one another a real chance to get to know the other. And when they finally crack through their own prejudice (well, Daisha's prejudice, Zeev is pretty cool all around), you feel like, "For serious!?" - Great story! And a great way to end the collection, since it is one that definitely ends more contemplatively and happier then some of the others.

Again, the choice here is amazing - the reading is sometimes difficult, too. There are adult themes and such. However I think that is what makes this worth the purchase - it is a very in depth book. It's about Vampires, guys - it has to get into the nitty gritty sexy scary underworld of what that entails - even when it's dirty and gross. And this collection does so, so well!

Vampires have been symbols for sex, for a Dorian Gray like narcissism; the beauty and darkness of youth; for the benefit of wisdom; for near everything. And I think that this collection adapts those symbols and then furthers them so that there can be more understandings of these mythical creatures.

I highly recommend this collection - it is perfect for one of those long, stormy nights when you wrap yourself in a blanket, and just want to read ...

1/20 books

Monday, January 17, 2011

So Goth your bats have black lipstick ...

Right, so I have never been very good at those "X is so Y, that ..." but what can I say? This book inspired me ...


I do not even know where to begin with this one. I think I started going, alright - three main characters, all same high school - something weird about the whole lab thing and ... oh wait, this is completely different - wait? Who the heck is this? What is going on now? Wait - who? What the heck? Vacuums!?!?

It is a mind trip.

Here is the synopsis:
Sophie Blue started wearing a black skirt and Midnight Noir lipstick on her last birthday. It was also the day her father disappeared. Or spontaneously combusted. Which is sort of bad timing, since a Popsicle truck with tinted windows has started circling the house.

Kenny Fade is a basketball god. His sneakers cost more than his Jeep. He's the guy all the ladies (and their mommas) want. Bad.

Sophie Blue and Kenny Fade don't have a thing in common. Aside from being reasonably sure they're losing their minds.

Aha ... and here is something off Beaudoin's website for anyone who wants to pick this book up:

Five Things The Publisher Said About Fade to Blue:

  1. "It’s so fast paced I had no clue at all what was going on except there’s a vacuum store in space and this girl’s brother should probably hit the Jenny Craig hard."
  2. "It has feel-bad moments"
  3. "It’s scream-out-loud scary."
  4. "You’ll sort of hate The Nurse more than you hate your own family."
  5. "Some people prefer The Matrix, but those people are stuck in the past with their creeper Keanu-and-leather fetishes."

Some Advice I, Sophie Blue, Can Give You, The Potential Reader:

  1. Sell a couple of your old Family Guy dvds and then use the cash to pay for this book. Use what’s left to buy black lapstick. If you’re a guy, buy the lipstick and a Bauhaus t-shirt.
  2. My father disappeared. Keep an eye on yours. You may need him sometime.
  3. Someone keeps breaking into our house, but they never steal anything. If someone keeps breaking into your house and never steals anything, there’s probably something good hidden there that your mom never mentioned and is what those people are looking for. Find it first.
  4. After you buy this book and bring it into the school cafeteria and stand on a table and read parts of it out loud in a sort of Hungarian/Dracula accent, your popularity will increase exponentially.
  5. Start reading more comic books. Comic books have all the answers. Especially vampire ones called "Bite Me Once, Suck Me Twice." A smart reader knows that vampires are this generation’s oracles.
And this is about as coherent as it gets.

So instead of dealing with plot points and such, I will delve into what I liked about this book: it had heart. It was a metaphysical thing: we're so in the mind of Sophie, while she spins the wheel and becomes someone new, over and again - it's a fascinating read.

Particularly, the twindom that is Sophie and O.S. - it's fascinating to read and so compelling - you want to know more about them, you want to read more about their relationship. O.S. sees things so differently, so vastly different then Sophie, that you're left wondering which perspective you ought to be trusting. And then you add Sophie's friend Lake, and all the other randoms - and you're suddenly sure the twins have something about them.

The idea of a "Virtuality" itself is kind of an interesting one: I mean, how does that work exactly? And how can you settle it with the dying and rebirthing and perspectives? And is the evidence you gathered through reading really evidence at all?

Again, if you like to be philosophically challenged, this is your book - it's fresh and funny and complicated and I so respect Beaudoin for being able to write it!

It is the kind of book that you alternate between loving it and throwing it at the wall; screaming with incredulity and squealing in delight! And it keeps you wondering way after you close it and it down. I finished it in just about 4 hours, and I could not put it down!

Highly recommended! :)

Now, the only question is: Why are there not more zombies?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Can You Keep a Secret?

So, I have a story for all of you:

Back when I was in high school, I was shopping with Costco with my Mom, and I had this tendency (and by "Had" I mean, still do) to make a beeline for the book section and spend what some would call a disproportionate amount of time browsing there as opposed to the other massively sized sections of the general massiveness that is Costco.

Once, I happened upon a bright pink book that looked kind of interesting. I picked it up and turned it over, read the back and instantly, my eyebrow shot up.
It was British - already, a point in favour of it. It sounded funny - second point. I bought it. It was called Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophia Kinsella and I eagerly devoured it in a day or so, while on summer vackay. Lucky for me - Shopaholic Takes Manhattan was already out and Shopaholic Ties the Knot was just around the corner. I bought both and read them back-to-back, and absolutely loved Becky's world. Until Shopaholic & Sister (which I liked, as opposed to loved - mostly because the sister and Becky were different to the point of ridiculousness) and Shopaholic & Baby - a book that I still have yet to finish, sadly enough.

Anyways, the point is - I liked the Shopaholic series. Mostly.
By the end, the main character was flighty to the point where I was wondering if she'd evolved at all? And, the other characters were beginning to become insufferable. So when a girl who lived a street up from me (and went to my school) told me about Kinsella's other novels - I passed. Enter my bestie, LG, and her obsession with Sophia Kinsella - a recent thing, but there you go. She handed me three Kinsella novels last year when she moved in with me: Twenties Girl, Can You Keep a Secret?, and The Undomestic Goddess.

Through her constant encouragement, I picked up the first one after I finished a rather sexy series, called Darkness Chosen by Christina Dodd. I think my aim with it was to temper the sauciness of the series with some fun chick lit. Of course, this book was more then that - way more. Twenties Girl was sad and funny and just poignant all around.

I thought. If Kinsella can do this again and again, I just might finish all the other of her books I have neglected.

So it took me half a year, but this new year, picked up Can You Keep a Secret?. I loved it. Yeah - though it was spotty at first, I did love it. Here's the thing: At first, I didn't think I would. Honestly. I thought the character of Emma - our protagonist - was Becky (aka Shopaholic) only with crap parents and a pretty clingy bf. It took a few chapters of me waffling (Think "Becky - er, right, not Becky - this is Emma.") but by the time we get to the unravelling of her secrets - I am hooked. Here's the synopsis for you:
Things are suddenly starting to look up for the hapless but optimistic Emma Corrigan. She has kept her job at Panther Cola for nearly a year, has the perfect boyfriend and hopes for a promotion to marketing executive should her first opportunity to strut her stuff and land a business deal be successful. Unfortunately, things don't go quite as planned, and on her unusually turbulent return flight from a disappointing client meeting, in a terrified state, she confesses her innermost secrets to the good-looking stranger sitting beside her.

When she shows up at work the next morning, she is horrified to discover that her mystery man is none other than the revered and brilliant Jack Harper, American CEO of Panther Cola, on a weeklong visit to the company's U.K. branch. Thus begins a series of chaotic, emotionally exhausting and funny episodes that thrust Emma, with her workaholic best friend, Lissy, and their awful flatmate Jemima, into a world of fairy tales, secrets and deceit.

I must say - Jack Harper is one of those heroes you just love from the bat. Especially because he just seems like a genuine down-to-earth, nice guy. He is definitely a teasing type - and poor Emma doesn't seem to understand that, but his little jokes and implications - pure gold!

The thing I do love about Kinsella's novels (asides from the fact that they're funny) is that the resolutions are a long way coming - they are not neat packages that end with some sort of merriment - there are crap characters, and there are people who fade in and out again - it's nice to have that kind of depth to minor characters IMO, and I really like the way they have their own voices, even as Emma is speaking for them (first person POVs are hard to write, I imagine).

So at the end you are left in a jolly mood - you have to be, the book is fun. But you are not left with the traditional everything tied up ending of chick lit fame - instead you are left with a more realistic, and funny ending that means more to the story as a whole.

Anyways, I highly recommend Sophie Kinsella again! And it was all to do with LG - or Ginger Spudman as she is known in the blogging universe!


Saturday, January 8, 2011

And then I saw another cool reading challenge ...

Over at Steampunkery & Book Reviews, a new challenge has caught my eye - it's a good one.

The Morbid-Romantica Challenge.

The categories are:

January: Nephilim -->

February: Vampire Hunters -->

March: Tormented Hero -->

April: Faery & Elves -->

May: Zombies -->

June: Shifters -->

July: Strong Females

August: Mermaids & Selkies

September: Dark Gothic Fantasy

October: Ghosts & Spirits

November: Steampunkery Romantica

December: Forbidden Romantica

Hm ... I am going to have to think about this! I wonder which books I will choose ....

Any recommendations?

PS. Who else is in love with these buttons??

Friday, January 7, 2011

Shift this!

Oh yes, the post titles keep getting worse and worse ...

But this will be my 20 book Shifter tentative list:
(note: in the scale of love - shifters come second only to Zombies)

  1. Barant, D.D. - Dying Bites
  2. Cremer, Andrea - Nightshade
  3. Cremer, Andrea - Wolfsbane
  4. Stiefvater, Maggie - Forever
  5. Millar, Martin - Curse of the Werewolf Girl
  6. Kiernan, Caitlin - Low Red Moon
  7. Young, Sam - Lunamorte
  8. Despain, Bree - The Dark Divine
  9. Despain, Bree - The Lost Saint
  10. Pearce, Jackson - Sisters Red
  11. Carriger, Gail - Souless
  12. Carriger, Gail -Blameless
  13. Carriger, Gail -Changeless
  14. Barnes, Jennifer Lynn - Raised by Wolves
  15. Jonson, Christine - Claire de Lune
  16. Hawthorne, Rachel - Moonlight
  17. Hawthorne, Rachel - Full Moon
  18. Hawthorne, Rachel - Dark Side of the Moon
  19. Hawthorne, Rachel - Shadow of the Moon
  20. Blackley-Cartright, Sarah & Hardwicke, Catherine "Red Riding Hood"

Cannot wait to start! :D

Any more recommendations for me?


Yeah, I know. Lame.

Bear with.

So, dystopian literature is one of those things that I absolutely adore and am so happy that has become popular! When written right - it has the power to really make you think (again, I refer you to George Romero movies)

So, for this, my list has to be 15 books long (I am a Contagion):
(Also, I apologize for repeats - it happens?)

  1. Cronin, Justin - The Passage
  2. Meyer, Stephanie - The Host
  3. Ryan, Carrie - The Dead Tossed Waves
  4. Ryan, Carrie - The Dark and Hollow Places
  5. Pfeffer, Susan Beth - Life as We Know It
  6. Pfeffer, Susan Beth -The World We Live In
  7. Pfeffer, Susan Beth -The Dead & The Gone
  8. Atwood, Margaret - After the Flood
  9. Atwood, Margaret - Oryx & Crate
  10. Collins, Suzanne - Mockingjay
  11. Condie, Ally - Matched
  12. DeStefano, Lauren - Wither
  13. McCafferety, Megan - Bumped
  14. Dick, Phillip K - Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep?
  15. Westefield, Scott - Specials
No limit, right? Sigh ... so many books, so little time ...

Any more recommendations?

Another kind of Undead ...

The Vampire Reading Challenge...

I love Vampires almost as much as I love Zombies (What? Don't judge - I refer you to "Doghouse", "Shaun of the Dead", "Fido" and George Romero)

For this challenge, Parajunkee is asking for 20 books, so ...

  1. "Teeth"
  2. Harris, Charlaine "Club Dead"
  3. Grange, Amanda "Mr. Darcy, Vampyre"
  4. Cary, Kate "Bloodline"
  5. de la Cruz, Melissa "Blue Bloods"
  6. de la Cruz, Melissa "Masquerade"
  7. Barant, D.D. "Dying Bites"
  8. Cronin, Justin "The Passage"
  9. Grahame-Smith, Seth "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"
  10. Steakly, John - "Vampire$"
  11. James, Syrie "Dracula, my Love"
  12. Caine, Rachel "The Dead Girl Dance"
  13. Caine, Rachel "Midnight Alley"
  14. Caine Rachel "Feast of Fools"
  15. Caine, Rachel "Lord of Misrule"
  16. Cast, P.C. & Kristen "Betrayed"
  17. Cast, P.C. & Kristen "Chosen"
  18. Cast, P.C. & Kristen "Untamed"
  19. Cast, P.C. & Kristen "Hunted"
  20. Cast, P.C. & Kristen "Tempted"
Again, tentative - there are a few vamp books, I need to buy and read - like the two sequels to David Wellington's 13 Bullets. And Fangland.

Any more recommendations?

Moooooan .... Braaaains ...

So for the Zombie Challenge, I have also made a tentative list!

(distracted - Mmmm Love Zombies ...)

On a sidenote, the BF implicitly agreed to have a marathon of Zombie movies with me ... he didn't say no, so I assume when I said "We;ll start with Dance of the Dead, move to Resident Evil, round it off with Doghouse and then finish it off with either Fido or Boy Eats Girl..." he was agreeing.

So here's the list:

  1. Ryan, Carrie "The Dead Tossed Waves"
  2. Ryan, Carrie "The Dark and Hollow Places"
  3. "Zombies vs. Unicorns"
  4. Preist, Cherie "Clementine" (Zombies = "Rotters")
  5. Preist, Cherie "Dreadnought" (Zombies = "Rotters")
  6. Moorat, A.E. "Queen Victoria, Demon Hunter" (Where Zombies are Demons)
  7. Ford, Michael Thomas "Z"
  8. Waters, Daniel "Generation Dead"
  9. Moody, David "Dog Blood"
  10. Marburry, Jonathan "Rot and Ruin"

Sigh ... I have many alternates to ...
And these all (with the exception of "The Dark and Hollow Places") will also be a part of my "Off The Shelf" Challenge - yay! Birds and stones!

Any Zombie recommendations?

History in Fiction.

Like I mentioned, I am doing part of the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge - which means, well - reading Historical Fiction. I decided I should probably get a list going, at least tentatively, disclosing what I want to read for this challenge, so here we go:

(1) Willig, Lauren - "Mask of the Black Tulip"
- HUGE Willig fan, also love fun historicals! It's a win-win
- Also, just got it ... yay!
(2) Willig, Lauren - "The Deception of the Emerald Ring"
- See above AND got it for Xmas from Smithy! :D
(3) Zusak, Markus, - "The Book Thief"
- Heard so many good things about it - and saw it at Winners for $3 - figured,
the universe was telling me to read it already!
(4) Lee, Y.S. - "The Agency"
- Won this in a contest and Y.S. Lee is just such a nice person, I can't wait to
read this!
(5) Moorat, A.E. - "Queen Victoria, Demon Hunter"
- Have had this one for a while - cannot wait to properly sink my teeth into it!
(6) Caldwell, Jack - "Pemberly Ranch"
- Just won this before the holidays - and tbh, I am looking forward to a Western
Romance written by a man ...
(7) Collins, Rebecca Ann - "The Legacy of Pemberly"
- won this one a while ago, too and have yet to start it! ( I left it at school for the
holidays ...)
(8) Westin, Jean - "His Last Letter"
- Won this back in November, but only got it now. It looks really good!
(9) Carr, Caleb - "The Alienist"
- Been wanting to read this for a while, but I read "The Angel of Darkness" first,
and was not emotionally ready to read all my favourite before the tragedies of
(10) Unsworth, Barry "Morality Play"
- got this as part of the "Fill a box with books for $5" sale at Inkling, which is sadly
closed now :(

Anyways, I will likely read more then this, but this is my tentative list - and as a bonus, all fit into my "Off the Shelf" challenge too!

Any recommendations for historical fiction?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Reading Challenges!

So I have left this post to the 6th of January - forgive?

This year, I have decided to do a few Reading Challenges! I am super excited! And here they are:
(1) Historical Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by Historical Tapestry.

I have chosen conservatively in all my reading challanges, so I will be "Struggling the Addiction: 10 books" - so I have 12 months to read and review 10 books! Not bad, right? :)

(2) The Dystopia Challenge hosted by Bookish Ardour

Again, I wanna play this conservatively, so I will go with: "Contagion – Choose 15 books to read"

(3) Off The Shelf Reading Challange hosted by Bookish Ardour

This is one I will not be conservative in ... mostly because, again. the Book Fort is named the Book Fort because my pile of books has gotten to the point where I am making cities with them around my room (actually, I just got shelves! No more books on the floor! It's strangely empty :( )
So ... I will be "Flying Off – Choose 75 books to read"

Now the above three were it - that was going to be the end of challanges for me! Then .., my friend, SK, told me about a Zombie challange ...

(4) The Vampire Reading Challange hosted by Parajunkee

(5) Shifter Reading Challenge hosted by Parajunkee

(6) Zombies! Reading Challenge hosted by the Book Soulmates

6 is a nice round number right? :)

Contest Alert over at Bookaliscious!

Just follow the link:

Up for grabs: A nook, a bunch of really good books - basically heaven. Go check it out!

Thought I would share this ...

More hardy har hars, my booklings:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Lonely in Texas ...

Yep, this is my (long awaited) review on the Lonely Texas Heart series by Christina Dodd!

Now, I am a HUGE fan of Christina Dodd and her work! Honestly, the woman is hilarious (I get her newsletters and am on FB with her) and she is just an amazing person - very down to earth and insightful.

Now, her writing ... her writing is hot. Like, can no longer read it on the bus in public hot - and funny too. I once started laughing at Davisville station when I was reading the final Darkness Chosen book - everyone stared, it would have been embarrassing if I hadn't wanted to get to the end of the book - so good!

Anyways, her Lonely Texas Hearts are the love stories of three sisters (with guest appearances by their adopted brother, the hottie-mc-hottness, Gabriel) who are separated by a bunch of shady characters in their Texas home, after the death of their parents. The three books tie together their collective stories, and in that way I love, tie into the greater Dodd universe I am slowly uncovering (hint: Gabriel is part of the Fortune Hunter series - and that series is connected to the Darkness Chosen series, which is connected to the Chosen Ones - so good!)

Here are the books:

Synopsis: (B&N)
When Hope Prescott’s parents disappeared, her carefree teenage life vanished forever. She and her three siblings were separated and sent to different foster homes around the country. Now, seven years later, Hope is still searching for them. To support herself, she works for an answering service, and cares for her clients as if they were family. When wealthy businessman Zachariah Givens hires Hope’s service, Hope initially mistakes Zack for his butler. Tired of being coddled and flattered because of his money, Zack is charmed by Hope’s candor, not to mention her sexy voice, and keeps up the charade. As their friendship turns into passion, Zack is determined to have her, even if that means the unthinkable – marriage. But when Hope discovers his deception, Zack knows he must solve the mystery that haunts Hope’s past in order to convince her that their futures lie together….

So, as mentioned, the first book is about the oldest sister: Hope. Hope is one of those all around good girls - life has dealt her a terrible hand of cards, but she somehow sees through it all to be a good person. She claims several times over, that this is the way her parents raised her, and she wants to make sure she is justified in their memory. When not, generally being good, she is looking for her siblings, working at a call office with an assortment of quirky characters and going to school.

Enter Zach Givens. Honestly, at the beginning - you might hate him. He's a jerk. He's a playboy. He is used to getting everything he wants without consequence - he's basically spoiled.

But he's also broken. Like, major.

And this is what I love about Dodd's characters - they can be over the top, but they are real in a way that I see aspects of Zach in people I know. It's an amazing thing, actually - she gets into your head with the mental descriptions of the characters.

Tossing his briefcase onto the brown leather sofa, Zack reflected that he was always in control. He hadn't not been in control since he was fourteen. He scarcely remembered how it felt to lose his temper, to yell with joy or anger, to be someone other then Zachariah Givens. And he was glad of that. He'd had his chance to indulge in the madness of youth, and since that one summer, he'd matured nicely. If life seemed a constant round of tax-paying, tooth-flossing, visits to the gym, business memos to be answered and coffee to be drunk - well, everyone got a little stale sometimes. It was better then the alternative - a life filled with random disasters uncushioned by wealth and rife with flagrant emotion.(29)

You get a feel for the character - for his vulnerabilities and strengths, his biases and weaknesses in those few short sentences.

Dodd is a master!

And did I mention the heat factor? Oh, it's there - but I will ramp that up in the review of the last book. For now, let's move towards the second book: Almost Like Being in Love.

Synopsis: (B&N)
As the middle child, Pepper Prescott's rebellious nature helped her survive when her parents disappeared and she and her siblings were sent to different foster homes around the country. Now an independent young woman, Pepper finds herself on the run after witnessing a shooting. Fearing for her life, Pepper flees to the only place she ever considered home and is shocked to find her old lover, Dan Graham, living on the remote mountain ranch. A battle-hardened ex-Special Forces soldier, Dan no longer strikes Pepper as a man she can trust with her secrets, her life, and her love. But as long-simmering desires flare into a deep, sensual passion, Pepper realizes the only way she can reclaim her life is to ally herself with the enigmatic warrior who's willing to help fight for her future by solving the mysteries of her past -- and making her his wife today.

This is the middle sister, Pepper's story. She's the main focus of mine here - she's just irresistible - she's so strong and tough, and so broken inside - but that passion she has for Dan ... yikes.

Again, we see Dodd as a master of getting into the character's heads and really bringing out their true selves. And part of that, I think, is just how equal the two of them are. I think there is something to be said that Pepper - even though she did it because she was scared - left him. Granted, she left him to take all the heat, but there's a power struggle there, that only blossoms when they reunite.
But the mountains had formed Dan's character, made him tough, made him solitary, made him a leader of men. ... and brought him home. All that agonizing time in the hospital, two things had kept him going: knowing that when he came home,t he craggy peaks would be there, as they had been for all eternity ... and knowing that it was time to find Pepper.
But he hadn't found her. She had found him. That meant something. He just had to find out what.

Pepper and Dan are just way too hot - they seem to explode every second they're together, dragging up the past and putting it on display between the two of them, as if they couldn't somehow just get over it. It's that final resolution - amidst all the chaos of terrorism and hurt, that really hooks you in - and the final reunion scene with Hope and Gabriel and Pepper - priceless in a way that still tears me up.

And then I waited around, and finally got a copy of the last book of the series: Close to You.

Synopsis: (B&N)

Caitlin Prescott was only a baby when her parents disappeared. Adopted by a wealthy Texas oil family, she became Kate Montgomery, and grew up with no memory of her parents or her two older sisters and brother, who have been searching for her, hoping to right a terrible wrong that was committed twenty-two years ago in a small Texas town.

Now an ambitious young news reporter, Kate realizes she is being stalked soon after landing her dream job at an Austin TV station. Why did a car try to run her down? Who would want to kill her? Turning her precarious situation into a story, she takes on a bodyguard and follows him on the job. But she didn’t plan on the cool, blade-sharp strength of Teague Ramos or the attraction that sizzles between them. When Teague connects the death of an Austin socialite to unanswered questions about Kate’s childhood, she finds herself unlocking dangerous doors to her past. Now, with only her mysterious bodyguard to protect her, Kate is on a high-stakes chase that may lead her to the family she has never known — or into the trap of a ruthless killer.

So this is the baby Prescott's story.

Kate has grown up to be a feisty reporter marred by tragedies, even without knowing that her life began with a tragedy. She copes well - she puts on the brave face for her mother and the outside world, and still flinches and mourns for her adopted father in private. Similarly, Teague would seem to be the accomplished, icy cool owner of a security team - but his demons haunt him and even possess him, when he doesn't take care.

This is probably my favorite of the series, not only because I adore the two of them - but because I also get a look at the real bad guy - the Boss of this series, the one that killed their parents and separated them so long ago. He is one bad apple. And this story and the mystery surrounding it was the perfect ending to this series!

And the heat of it - Dodd has a gift of making you wait for it - not for the actual it, but all of the trepidation, the moments just before when you know something is about to go down - those scenes! She does them so well, I am instantly screaming at the pages.

"Wait. I want this first." He slipped his hands under her T-shirt, rested his palms flat against her belly and smiled into her eyes. It wasn't a happy smile. In that curve of his lips she saw tormet unleashed and need denied. "I've dreamed of this," he told her. "I have obsessed about this."

"You're not happy with your dreams?"


"Or your admission?"


"Then you should take your revenge," she whispered, staring boldly into his beautiful dark eyes.

Without anything going further - that is hot. Wouldn't you want that chemistry ...yeesh.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

So, basically here it is: Christina Dodd's Lonely Texas Heart series: A+

Go pick up a copy, I'll wait. :)



Sunday, January 2, 2011

When Zombies Meet Fanboys ...

Oh yes, the time has come: It's my review of Night of the Living Trekkies byKevin Andersen and Sam Stall, published by my favourites, Quirk Books.

Here's the synopsis and the awesome book trailer:
Journey to the Final Frontier of Sci-Fi Zombie Horror!

Jim Pike was the world's biggest Star Trek fan—until two tours of duty in Afghanistan destroyed his faith in the human race. Now he sleepwalks through life as the assistant manager of a small hotel in downtown Houston.

But when hundreds of Trekkies arrive in his lobby for a science-fiction convention, Jim finds himself surrounded by costumed Klingons, Vulcans, and Ferengi—plus a strange virus that transforms its carriers into savage, flesh-eating zombies!

As bloody corpses stumble to life and the planet teeters on the brink of total apocalypse, Jim must deliver a ragtag crew of fanboys and fangirls to safety. Dressed in homemade uniforms and armed with prop phasers, their prime directive is to survive. But how long can they last in the ultimate no-win scenario?

And because I cannot seem to embed this youtube vid, go here.

Now that you have feasted your eyes on the greatness that is the book trailer - no, wait I'm sorry: I have to talk about the awsomeness that is the book trailer. Now, I am not usually a huge proponent of book trailers - I feel usually that they are evil teases that influence my imagination way too much. However, Quirk Books has a gift: They make great books, AND great trailers for their books. I mean - after seeing that - don't you feel like you must read the book? At whatever cost? Even if the hordes of Zombies are at your door, pounding with their fists to get in? Yes, I think so. Totally awesome. Okay, onto the review: I loved it. Oh *fans self* yes. Loved, so much. And on a few levels. But first - a warning: I am a huge fan girl ... for Zombies. I was forced to watch Star Trek as a kid, and then I found Star Wars, and well ... Han Solo > Kirk any day (though I do love me some Billy Shatner). As I am a huge Zombie fan girl, and know a bit about Trek, this book was made for me. That, and I am picky. Very picky. Especially with Zombies. I can recite to you guys the decent Zombie adaptions in existence, and why they are awesome - but I will leave that for another post and just get on with it!

First of all, the characters were awesome! We are introduced to Jim first, but we also get a bunch of other characters right off the bat, and in a very short time, we're acquainted with our core group of people. And right away we are pulled into the debate: Is this a Sci-Fi/Star Trek book where all ends well? Or is this a Zombie movie where all ends terribly? The characters are key in bringing this about - they're in your face and completely natural, they spill out of the page like they were meant to, and it shows. I particularly love Leia - she rocks the big one - something about a kick ass female heroine with witty one liners that gets me :P And the writing: I didn't know what to expect, to be honest. I figured it would be funny, but it was hilarious. And I figured there would be many pot-shots, and oh boy were there! But it wasn't just that - it was the inner monologues and the quick pace of it - it kept you interested, it kept you laughing and it kept the story moving. Again, there are many fandom aimed quirks to it - for example:
"It's these uniforms," he finally choked out between sobs. "They killed us. They're cursed. And I'll be the next victim."
"You need to back uyp a minute," Jim said. "You think you've angered some kind of Star Trek deity by wearing a red uniform?"
Willy took a moment to compose himself.
"In the original Star Trek series," he explained. "The characters dressed int he red tunics were always doomed. If one beamed down to a planet with Kirk and Spock, the guy in red would always, always die. So my friends and I decided to, you know, celebrate that by forming a club. It seemed like a good idea at the time. We'd all come to GulfCon dressed in matching red shirts. We'd say we were the crew of the USS Expendable. It would be hilarious, because in the real world, no one dies just because they wear the wrong costume to the sci-fi convention, right?" (pp. 118)
This book is loaded with those kinds of witty comments and side tidbits. It's a short read - but honestly, that doesn't even matter since every word was deliberately chosen to make the most impact - and so what you have at the end, is a slim volume along the lines of Fan Boys and other such self depreciating works. I cannot wait for the next release of Quirk - they always one-up themselves, and I will readily and eagerly snap it up first chance I get! :)

* * *

If you think you'll like this, you should check out:

The other Zombies in the Quirk Bag - incl. Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, Dawn of the Dreadfuls and the upcoming, Dreadfully After Ever!!

Fan Boys
- a movie dear to my heart.

Daily comic:
Until next time... Cheers! :D

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Year End Check Up:

This is what I recorded as having read in 2010:

  1. Alcott, Louisa May "A Long Fatal Love Chase"
  2. Andersen, Kevin David & Stall, Sam "Night of the Living Trekkies"
  3. Austen, Jane & Hockensmith, Steve "Dawn of the Dreadfuls"
  4. Barker, Clive "Mister B. Gone"
  5. Beddor, Frank "Archenemy"
  6. Berg, Patti "Something Wild"
  7. Berg, Patti "Born to be Wild"
  8. Berg, Patti "Wife for a Day"
  9. Bond, Stephanie "Body Movers"
  10. Bryant, D.D. "Dying Bites"
  11. Caine, Rachel "The Glass House"
  12. Cast, P.C. & Kristen "Marked"
  13. Christie, Agatha "The Mirror Crack'd From Side to Side"
  14. Coben, Harlan "The Innocent"
  15. Coelho, Paulo "Brida"
  16. Coelho, Paulo "The Devil and Miss Prym"
  17. Cohen, Brian "The Life O'Reilley"
  18. Collins, Suzanne "The Hunger Games"
  19. Davidson, Mary Janice "Undead and Unwed"
  20. de los Santos, Marisa "Belong to Me"
  21. de los Santos, Marisa "Love Walked In"
  22. DeMaurier, Daphne "Rebecca"
  23. Dodd, Christina "Close to You"
  24. Dodd, Christina "Just the Way You Are"
  25. DuPrau, Jeanna "The City of Ember"
  26. Fitzpatrick, Becca "Crescendo"
  27. Fitzpatrick, Becca "Hush, Hush"
  28. Foster, Lori "Back in Black"
  29. Foster, Lori "Say Yes"
  30. Frank, Jacqueline "Pleasure"
  31. Grossman, Austin "Soon I will Be Invincible"
  32. Harris, Charlaine "Grave Secret"
  33. Harris, Charlaine "Real Murders"
  34. Hiaasen "Skinny Dip"
  35. Holt, Victoria "The Time of the Hunter's Moon"
  36. Hughes, Charlotte "And After that, The Dark"
  37. Joyce, Brenda "Dark Embrace"
  38. Joyce, Brenda "Dark Rival"
  39. Joyce, Brenda "Dark Seduction"
  40. Joyce, Brenda "Dark Victory"
  41. Kinsella, Sophie "Twenties Girl"
  42. Koontz, Dean "Breathless"
  43. Koontz, Dean "Odd Thomas"
  44. Krauss, Nicole "A History of Love"
  45. Larsson, Steig "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
  46. Matheson, Richard "A Stir of Echoes"
  47. Mead, Richelle "Blood Promise"
  48. Mead, Richelle "Frostbitten"
  49. Mead, Richelle "Last Sacrifice"
  50. Mead, Richelle "Shadow Kissed"
  51. Mead, Richelle "Spirit Bound"
  52. Mead, Richelle "Vampire Academy"
  53. Moore, Christopher "Bite Me: A Love Story"
  54. Novik, Naomi "His Majesty's Dragon"
  55. Palaniuk, Chuck "Haunted"
  56. Peterson, Shelly "Sundancer"
  57. Phillips, Carly "Hot Item"
  58. Phillips, Carly "Hot Stuff"
  59. Priest, Cherie "Boneshaker"
  60. Roberts, Nora "Carolina Moon"
  61. Ryan, Carrie "The Forest of Hands and Teeth"
  62. Showalter, Gena "The Darkest Night"
  63. Stevens, Amanda "Secret Sanctuary"
  64. Stiefvater, Maggie "Linger"
  65. Stiefvater, Maggie "Shiver"
  66. Stoker, Dacre "Dracula: The Undead"
  67. Sunny "Mona Lisa Awakening"
  68. Sunny "Mona Lisa Blossoming"
  69. Sunny "Mona Lisa Craving"
  70. Toews, Miriam "The Flying Troutmans"
  71. Trussoni, Danielle "Angelology"
  72. Willig, Lauren "The Secret History of the Pink Carnation"
  73. Wong, David "John Dies @ The End"
  74. Wyndam, John "The Midwich Cukoos"
  75. Zafon, Carlos Ruis "The Angel's Game"
Not too shabby.
Want to do more next year though ... er, this year.

Anyways, what do you guys think?

Some late thoughts on 2010 ... and books.

Hey guys,
So I meant to write a bunch of reviews and such between Christmas and New Years and of course, got bogged down by family and Holidays and such. So, I will do them after new years, but would just like to say a few things before I start in:

(1) I completed my goal a long time ago: what this means? I need a harder one this year. I am thinking, 75 to 100 books for the coming year? Given the amount of really good looking books that are coming out soon ... there ought to be lots of inspiration! :D

(2) I read best when relaxed. This does not bode well as the school year closes ...

(3) I need to make a concerted effort to write the blog every night or every other night, or I won't do it.

I also joined a Challenge for this year! Historical Fiction (Sidebar on Left) I plan on joining more, but this one caught my eye - not only because it was the nicest button ever, but probably also because I was finishing up Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series while perusing the internet.

Anyways, that will do for now.
I have to type up more of my story to send to Smithy, as promised.