Home  |  Reviews  |  Vlogs  |  Interviews  |  Guest Posts  |  Fairy Tales  |  Jane Austen  |  Memes  |  Policies

Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Face Off (15)

I mentioned this one when I got the book Alis in March (I got this cover Alis though).  So  I have two questions for you.  1) which bonneted cover below does it better for you?  2) Of the covers for Alis, which would you go for?

The Crucible published in 2003 (this cover; orig published well before then)
Alis published in 2007

Last Week on FFO: We did it up werewolf style in honor of vvb's Werewolf Weekend.  In 4 rounds of fur-ripping face-offs:
  1. Jacob slayed Sam, hands down
  2. Derek slaughtered Kieran
  3. Adam struggled back against Richard, but ultimately killed him
  4. Lord Maccon eeked out a barrel-chested win over the very ferocious Clay. <-- I don't know that I could decide between the two of them.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Guest Post from author D.C. Corso!

Hey folks.  Yesterday you read my review of the book Skin and Bones by D.C. Corso.  Well, today, we've got a special little guest post in which Ms. Corso reflects on Skin and Bones and its fictional setting, the isolated Carver Isle, WA.  Take it away, D.C.!

Islands in a Common Sea
-D.C. Corso

I could lie and say that I had the underlying theme of isolation in mind when I chose to set Skin and Bones, my first mystery, on the fictional Carver Isle. I could bend the truth and say that it was all part of my grand scheme of placing guarded and distant characters in a community which is itself remote and distant.  But at the time I didn’t really consciously think about it – who really develops a theme in advance of a story?  The superficial truth is almost disappointing in its simplicity: I chose the Pacific Northwest island community because it was something I knew, and something that felt right.

Back in the late eighties and early 90s, I lived in Seattle.  Being in my mid-twenties at the time, I missed California and the comfort of friends and family, and moved back to the Bay Area.  I returned often to visit my sister Ginny and her husband Stu on Bainbridge Island, discovering that while on the surface island living appears very quaint, there are in reality vast socioeconomic gaps.  As the price of Seattle homes jumped in the ’90s, longtime islanders found themselves with skyrocketing property values – and taxes – as more and more city folk sought to relocate to Bainbridge.  Naturally, resentment grew between those who held ranches and farmland on the island and those who eagerly sought to develop and sell said land. While I didn’t want economic disparity and class resentment to be at the forefront of Skin and Bones, I can’t deny that it’s a hugely important part of the scenery.

But why not just set the tale in a suburb?  Honestly, because island communities are much more closely knit than you might find in a suburb.  Suburbs allow for a comfortable distance from your neighbors, and this simply does not exist within island communities.  While everyone does not necessarily know everyone else on an island, they do know everyone on their block, sometimes far more than they want to know them.  In most suburbs, people tend to know just what they need to get by. They know roughly who their neighbors are, but not much beyond their names and house numbers.

Had I set the tale someplace like West Seattle or even the remote and woodsy Snoqualmie, the story might have worked, but those locations still felt far too accessible. Water lends distance to that which may otherwise be near, so the island community completed the setting puzzle nicely.

Looking back, I think the writer in me subconsciously understood that a dark and isolated township surrounded by water would perfectly reflect the story's underlying darkness and the characters' own issues and problems.  Then again, hindsight is 20/20.

Thanks, D.C.!!!

Not that I'm trying to make you jealous, but...

I thought I'd show you what I'm sending to Amanda and Titania, who won the Alias Alice giveaway.  I was fairly cryptic in the giveaway, but now that they are on the way to their new mommies, I feel I can reveal what the prizes really are: a "Get Out of the Guillotine Free" card set and a "Charm Against Potion Drinkers" necklace!  They took me far longer than I intended (sorry about that), so I hope you like them!

Each girl gets 5 Alias Alice greeting cards which are based on the classic illustrations, and a pendant necklace that is made from an actual page from the book (yes, I pulled apart my copy of the book, hand-chalked it and stuck it on a pendant...), and I'm not going to lie, I really wanted to keep the necklaces for myself, especially since I no longer have those pages to make new ones...

Oh, and Jill of the O.W.L. got an owl pendant (go figure), but I forgot to take a picture before I sent it, so...hope you like it, Jill!

Alrighty, that's all I wanted to share with you today.  Hope you enjoyed it, and if you did...keep your eyes wide open for Jane in June.   I'm just saying...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

pages 134-137

Skin and Bones by D.C. Corso

Skin and Bones
by D.C. Corso

from Goodreads:
There are plenty of ways to die in a place like Carver Isle, Washington. There is blood, there is sweat and there is soil, and there are the leaves that wither and fall from the trees, crunching underfoot as they're raked into orderly piles. Fall is never anything more than a season in the small Washington town of Carver Isle - until the first child vanishes. None of them could have known what lay in wait for them, crouched at the end of that darkened hallway of a year. It began just two days after the Twin Towers fell, first with one missing child, and then another. When Parker Kelly returns to Carver Isle, she wonders if her disturbed cousin is involved. After confiding in FBI Special Agent Ash, she realizes that the truth lies buried deep in her past. Together, Parker and Ash must solve a puzzle of deceit and manipulation, exhuming secrets both would rather leave undisturbed.

I am of two minds about this book. On the one hand, I liked it more than most murder mysteries/thrillers/crime books I've read in the past.  Corso, unlike many writers in this genre, didn't get bogged down in trying to be so dark that her characters become unrelatable and hopeless.  F.B.I. agent Severin Ash (can we take a moment to talk about how cool a name that is?) isn't a hard-boiled, portly cigar-smoker; nor is he a wise-cracking hardass with a heart of gold.  Corso skillfully avoided these cliches, and I thank her profusely for that.  Ash understands how serious his work is trying to save endangered children, but he's not completely devoid of a sense of humor, and where it cropped up, it was a nice counterpoint to the darkness of the subject matter.  Kelly Parker is for the most part nicely fleshed out as well, and her anxiety and the slow reveal of her backstory draw the reader in and allow the reader to share in it.  She and Ash come together well and play off of each other nicely. The characters (the adult characters, at least) felt real and believable.  At one point I was struck by something Ash said when he was telling Parker about his search as a teen for his murdered sister's body:
Parker's eyes widened. "You found her?"
Ash nodded.  "She was in the woods not far from a footpath.  The dog finally just started going buts, digging like crazy, running back and forth around one soft spot in the ground, near a sapling.  And I knew.  Stupid dog was wagging his tail, like he thought Maddie was hiding.  Like she had a treat for him down there... I started to dig, with my hands.  I didn't want to use a shovel.  I was afraid of hurting her, of breaking her.
Little things like this say a lot about a character, and I think this really spoke for who Ash is and made him believable.

The story was very readable and their was great tension.  It was of the type that, though you know who the bad guy is and how it's likely to go down, you're still a little anxious.   The villains are appropriately villainous but not over the top, and Ash's and Parker's backstories add a nice layer of believability and worry.  Without giving anything away, it's a great cat and mouse.  Most of the time I find myself rolling my eyes when I read thrillers, and I didn't do that often in this one.  It was engaging and brief in a good way; the short length made for a fast-paced and succinct novel, and I enjoyed that.

I guess most of my problems lied in the fact that I wish Ms. Corso had had a thorough editor who was willing to talk through some decisions with her and help with continuity overall.  Setting aside the irritating and obvious grammar, structure and/or spelling issues, there occasionally cropped up some issues in the continuity that bugged me. For example, when Ash uses a busboy to help him surreptitiously collect evidence:
Ash took a twenty-dollar bill out of his wallet. "And he didn't see you, right?"
"No, I waited until he left."
Ash handed over the ten. "Thanks."
Things like this irritate me.  Or another example, Kendall is referred to as being 12, then 11, but acts like she's about 6:
 "It's something special.  I made it for you...A secret, like you asked."  Kendall handed him the fold-out paper pumpkin.  Colored with orange crayon, thick and clumsy black outlines traced the eyes and mouth.  She had forgotten to draw the inside parts yellow until afterwards so she'd colored over the orange, creating a red hue that Quint found desperate and sad.

A 12 year old may not be a Picasso, but I think most can handle coloring a Jack-o-lantern.   I had a little problem with the kids in general, actually, as they seemed to alternate between acting/speaking too young for their given ages, and acting/speaking too old.  However, I did like their place in the story, and with a little more attention to realism, I wouldn't have had a qualm where they were concerned.

Another issue I had was that there were moments of general confusion.  I don't typically have a hard time following even the most circuitous or convoluted piece of writing, but there were a number of times when I felt like I was missing something.  I would read back over what I had just read, and I would still be a bit confused.  It was like their were weird jumps or abrupt changes, and it made it seem as if something was missing, almost as if something had been cut in revision but not smoothed over, or as if something needed to be clarified in revision and wasn't.  These are things that happen in writing, but they should be noted and fixed, which is why I felt like with the help of a good editor I would have loved this story rather than just liking it.  And it extends to more than just little flubs and confusing bits.  I think an editor would have talked through some of the peripheral choices Corso made, and why they were important.  For example, the book is set in September of 2001, days after the WTC attacks.  This is referenced a few times, but it really has no bearing on the story, and acts basically as a distracting element, so I don't know why the decision was made to set it then.  It could easily have been changed.  Year didn't even need to be mentioned, frankly, and it probably would have been wiser not to, as that can date a book pretty quickly.  An editor would have (or should have) pointed these types of things out, and asked Corso questions to get the best, most stream-lined and put-together story possible.

So, though at times it felt like a draft rather than a finished piece, it was still a good and compelling story, and trim enough to mean that you can fly through it fairly quickly.  If you like crime/mystery/thrillers, I don't think you'll necessarily be disappointed in this one, though since I don't generally like them, maybe the opposite is true...

  •  One quick, short and sweet Bonus Material: visit the Skin and Bones website for a sample chapter, reviews, author info, etc.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

YA Debut Book Battle '10

Hey, all! I've been wanting to let you in on something for awhile now, but I made myself hold off until it was official, and now it is.

Alyssa of The Shady Glade is hosting a YA Debut Book Battle, and I am one of the judges! 24 books are going head to head in a bracketed battle, with only one winner in the end.
I am a judge on leg 1 of the battle; my fabulous buddy Natalie of Mindful Musings and I will be reading The Iron King and Before I Fall and deciding which deserves to move on in the quest to be named the best debut YA book. I've heard a lot of good things from many of you about how great these books are, so I think it's going to be a tough decision. There are a lot of other great books in the mix, too, so who knows who's going to come out on top.

Now, I would love to give you hints along the way on how the judging's going, but I can't (and really, I secretly like to watch you squirm. Just a bit.) BUT, I do think you should pay close attention in the next two weeks to the reviews, and for mine and Natalie's winner announcement.

I also think you should go check out the rest of the battles, and give us your say, too!  There are a lot of great bloggers and a lot of great books about to do the knock-down, drag-out.  Things are bound to get interesting...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Eric Van Lustbader 2 book Giveaway!

Okie dokie folks, I've got some goodies for ya.  Thanks to Anne from The Book Report Network and Forge Books, I have a two books by NYTimes bestselling author Eric Van Lustbader to give away to you.  You may have heard of Van Lustbader from his takeover of Robert Ludlum's Bourne series.
These two books are the first two in Van Lustbader's new series about Jack McClure, an ATF agent with issues and high-powered connections that seem to lead to a lot of trouble...
Here are the summaries from Goodreads:

Sometimes the weakness we fear most can become our greatest strength . . . Jack McClure has had a troubled life. His dyslexia always made him feel like an outsider. He escaped from an abusive home as a teenager and lived by his wits on the streets of Washington D.C. It wasn’t until he realized that dyslexia gave him the ability to see the world in unique ways that he found success, using this newfound strength to become a top ATF agent. When a terrible accident takes the life of his only daughter, Emma, and his marriage falls apart, Jack blames himself, numbing the pain by submerging himself in work. Then he receives a call from his old friend Edward Carson. Carson is just weeks from taking the reins as President of the United States when his daughter, Alli, is kidnapped. Because Emma McClure was once Alli’s best friend, Carson turns to Jack, the one man he can trust to go to any lengths to find his daughter and bring her home safely. The search for Alli leads Jack on a road toward reconciliation . . . and into the path of a dangerous and calculating man. Someone whose actions are as cold as they are brilliant. Whose power and reach are seemingly infinite. Faith, redemption, and political intrigue play off one another as McClure uses his unique abilities to journey into the twisted mind of a stone cold genius who is constantly one step ahead of him. Jack will soon discover that this man has affected his life and his country in more ways than he could ever imagine.

 Last Snow

Jack McClure, Special Advisor and closest friend to the new President of the United States, interprets the world very differently from the rest of us. It’s his greatest liability, and his greatest asset.
An American senator, supposedly on a political trip to the Ukraine, turns up dead on the island of Capri. When the President asks him to find out how and why, Jack sets out from Moscow across Eastern Europe, following a perilous trail of diplomats, criminals, and corrupt politicians. Thrust into the midst of a global jigsaw puzzle, Jack’s unique dyslexic mind allows him to put together the pieces that others can’t even see.
Still unreconciled to the recent death of his daughter and the dissolution of his marriage, Jack takes on a personal mission along with his official one: keeping safe from harm his two unlikely, unexpected, and incompatible companions—Annika Dementieva, a rogue Russian FSB agent, and Alli Carson, the President’s daughter. As he struggles to keep both young women safe and unearth the answers he seeks, hunted by everyone from the Russian mafia to the Ukrainian police to his own NSA, Jack learns just how far up the American and Russian political ladders corruption and treachery has reached.
In the vein of Eric Van Lustbader’s latest bestselling Jason Bourne novels, Lustbader takes us on an international adventure in this powerful page-turner that will keep you reading through the night.

Want 'em?  All you've got to do is fill out this little form and say so!
And make sure to keep an eye out for my reviews in the coming week!
Ends 4/30 midnight EST

(oh, and hey, if you don't win, keep your other eye out for my copies of each, which will end up in the prize pool somewhere down the line...)

Friday Face Off (14): Werewolf Style

Continuing the werewolf theme in honor of Velvet's Werewolf Weekend, today we're going to have a Werewolf Face-Off.  (I feel like that's almost a pun, what with the shapeshifting and all...).  It's gonna be another multiple battle FFO, like last week.  Howl out your favorites as appropriate:

Teen Wolf, Round 1: Sam from Shiver v. Jacob from the Twilight books:

Teen Wolf, Round 2: Derek from The Darkest Powers books v. Kieran from Tantalize:

Sexypants Wolf, Round 1: Adam from the Mercedes Thompson books or Richard from the Anita Blake books

Sexypants Wolf, Round 2: Clay from Women of the Otherworld v. Lord Maccon from The Parasol Protectorate

Last Week on FFO: we had a creep-off.  I think we may have been tied across the board, folks.  Creepy. ;p
<---  click and go play

Character Connection: Wolfies


For this week's character connection, I thought I'd do something a bit different.  You see, this weekend, Velvet's hosting a Werewolf Weekend, and I thought, wouldn't it be fun to spotlight some of my favorite werewolves?  My answer to myself?  Yes, it would.
So without further dudes*, I give you my favorite furry pals (aka wolfies!):
 (click on the pretty celebrities to see why I picture them as each character)

Elena from Kelly Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series (see Bitten and Stolen).   Elena is the only female werewolf in existence, and she is as bad-ass as they come.  The great thing about her, though, is that she's not off-putting for all her badassery; she's tough, but always likeable.  One of the great things about Elena's role in the WotO books, especially Bitten, is watching her come to terms with who -- and what -- she is.  The book really comes alive in wolf form, and the pack dynamics and wolf scenes Armstrong writes are some of the best out there.

Sam from Shiver.  Though I didn't absolutely love this book, I did love Sam.  Generally with shapeshifter stories, you get a lot of sense of power and enjoyment in the wolfiness, but with Sam, you get to see the flip side.  This wasn't something he wanted, it's taking away a big chunk of his life, and to top it off, he's still got to go through all the normal teen stuff.  More than that, though, Sam reads like a sweetheart, and I like that.  He's not the angsty/aggressive/controlling/pricky teen "heartthrob" you generally see.  He's one of the good guys, and that's refreshing and charming.

Clayton Danvers (Clay) from Women of the Otherworld.  Clay is not  Sam.  Clay is angsty/aggressive/controlling and generally a prick.  And I love him.  (Conflicted, who me?)  Clay's a bit of an unknown; wildcard is an understatement.  He was found by the pack leader when he was basically a feral little wolfboy living in Louisiana swamplands.  He doesn't understand or trust humans, and he is Wolf to his very core.  But he loves Elena, and he has a soft spot he tries hard to hide, and he is fiercely loyal and protective, and endearing for all that.  Oh, and did I mention he's a genius.  Like, actually a genius.  I love me some smart boys, and I have to admit a weakness for the cocky ones, too.  How often they go hand in hand...
(oh, and he's an utter sexy beast)

Lord Conall Maccon from Soulless by Gail Carriger.  Conall is loud and strong and exceedingly Scottish, and I love every bit of his interactions with Alexia Tarabotti (whom you should know by now is one of my favorite characters).  You just have to read him to appreciate it, I think.  'Nuff said.

Ben from the Mercedes Thompson books.  I know I've mentioned these books in, oh, just about every Character Connection thus far, so might as well keep that tradition alive.  Ben is an...interesting one for me.  It's not really a crush thing -- yet -- but he intrigues me.  I want to know more about Ben.  He's had a hard life, and as the series goes on, we get glimpses of that, but generally he's snarky and sullen and misogynistic and you kind of want to shake him until he rattles.  But you know that's a mask and that there's actually a decent guy under there, and when his facade begins to unravel, it's kind of beautiful.  I like problem characters, and I like when they are redeemed.  Plus, he's British, and man do I love me an accent.

So there you have it.  My top 5.  For now.
What are yours?

Want in on Velvet's
Werewolfy goodness?  Click me --->

* Bonus (useless) points for the first person to tell me what "without further dudes" comes from...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Be My Guest, Jill of The O.W.L.!!!

[Quick note: My apologies to Jill; I had this post scheduled to go at midnight like all BMGs -- or I thought I did, but apparently it was saved as a draft, so it is being published a bit late.  Sorry that you didn't get a full day to yourself, Jill.  On the bright side, you are the first BMG winner!
Also, I took the liberty of linking the books you mention. :D]

So, obviously, Jill of The O.W.L. is today's guest. Jill is a middles school teacher, and runs a great blog that focuses on Middle Grade books. Today she wants to talk to us about great MG reads for boys, who can be reluctant readers, to say the least.

Take it away, Jill!

Shiver, The Dark Divine, Fallen, Graceling – all great books! But, as a 7th grade English teacher would I hand them to the boys I teach? Nope. I could of course, but trust me most 13 year old boys wouldn’t read them. Every day I read multiple blog posts about some really really awesome books. The problem for me when it comes to using those books to get my kids reading – there aren’t many boys books highlighted. So today I thought I’d share with you some great “boy” books/authors I’ve found. I’d love if you’d read some of their stuff and recommend it on your blog, because trust me – I have to fight harder to get to get, and keep, my boys reading than I do my girls.

These books are great because they are action packed – something many boys need in order to stay focused on the book. I also like Percy because he’s not perfect. He messes up a lot – something anyone can relate to!

author Kurtis Scaletta

His book Mudville is a great book for middle grade boys. Not only is it about baseball, but about the one moment that defines who you are and what you’ll become. He has another book coming out this summer called Mamba Point and it looks like another winner for boys!

author Cuthbert Soup

He is the author of a new book out called A Whole Nother Story. I just shared the book trailer with my students and they loved it! Goofy and light hearted – perfect!

Tunnels series by Roderick Gordon

Great books with a strong independent main character that works hard to make the right choices. These books sometimes intimidate my readers because they are thick – but with the action they move along quite well.

Yes I’ve seen a ton of girls read these, but I’ve also hooked many boys into reading with this series. It helps that the main character is a boy so they can relate. What’s cool is that this series switches main characters at one point, so they have to stretch their reading some to work with a new voice thrown after them – after they were use to the old one!

I cannot think of a single book that I’ve used to get more boys reading than The Outsiders. Over and over I’ve heard from even my most reluctant boy readers how much they loved this book. Once you have them hooked with The Outsiders it’s just a quick jump to Tex, That Was Then This is Now and Taming the Star Runner. Many times I have thanked Ms. Hinton for writing what she does. 

Thanks Jill!  I think you are absolutely right on these.  The Shadow Children is the only series of books that my sister (who is a reluctant reader) has ever come home talking about, or asked me to read; S.E. Hinton was a big hit when I was in MS, and I still have a fondness for her.  And I've never heard of Cuthbert Soup, but I am so completely intrigued by that name that I think I'm going to have to look him up!
My neighbor has a son who has always been a bit hard to find  books for, and though he's a bit young yet, I am going to have to file these away for her. :)

What about the rest of you?  Any good recommendations for Middle Grade boys and reluctant readers?

Also, I mentioned Jill is the first BMG winner (yay, Jill!); if you want your own chance to win something neato and be showcased here on BR, just fill out this form; it's quick, it's easy, and it has a sheep!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Nat'l Library Week Lovin'

Kate at the Neverending Shelf is waxing poetic this week about her library and the great goodness that is libraries in general, and she's also doing something that I find commendable and want to be a part of. For every 4 comments she gets on this post she is going to donate a book to her local library for their book sale.
She's encouraging others to spread the love and share their libraries, which I am going to do in 5...4...3...2...NOW!

My library system consists of 16 branches through out the county, but the one I frequent is the Dorsch Memorial Library.  It's a tiny(ish) building in downtown Monroe, Mi. Most of the librarians there are friends of mine, and nearly all of them know me by name; they're always friendly and full of suggestions.
[For instance: once upon a time, your truly did not read paranormal romance OR supernatural series OR YA.  Seriously.  My love of these things have come from the suggestions of Jadin, who may well top the list for favorite librarian (sorry, rest of my NL girls!), and whose suggestions never steer me wrong.]
I am a "Friend" of this branch, meaning I pay dues ($5!) and help out when I can.   My book club is at this branch, though we hold it after hours, as it tends to get a bit raucous.  (We've recently discovered that the discussions always seem to got back to sex and cheesecake; if we ever form a band, that will be our name...)
My library displays the art of local artists on the walls and in displays.  They host a massive book sale in the summer to go along with the art and jazz fest that takes place downtown; prices are donation based now, but they used to be 2/25¢ for paperbacks.  Yes, you read that right.
There's a lovely little area outside with benches and trees, and downtown is a pretty nice place to sit.  There's a fountain across the (cobble stone) street.
They've recently begun the process of setting up a Teen center in the library, a little hang out of sorts, and they are really good about having popular programs for teens (like a Twilight Convention and Twilight Prom, gaming tournaments, manga thingies -- lots of variety to give kids a place to go and hang out).

Really, there's not anything not to love about my library.

So.  Following Kate's brilliant lead, I am going to donate a book to my library for every 1/4 of a comment on this post.  Every 4 comments = 1 donated book.   (Please, 1 comment per person, and "real" comments only, not blahblahblahbook.)
If there is anything you do to help out your library, or something you really love about them, why not let them know?  I'd love to hear about it too... :D

I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder

I Heart You, You Haunt Me
by Lisa Schroeder

When Ava loses her boyfriend Jackson in a horrible accident, she feels like her world is going to end.  She blames herself for his death, she shuts herself off from her friends and her life, and spends her time wishing she had Jackson back.  And then, suddenly she does.  Whenever she's alone, Jackson comes to her.  He haunts her, speaking to her in her mind, touching her with cold ghostly caresses.  Ava is so happy to have him back, but she knows it can't last; she has to make a decision: remain alone, with Jackson, or face the world again.

Lisa Schroeder writes in verse, so when I got my hands on this, I was kind of excited for that aspect.  When done well (see Sharon Creech's Love That Dog or Karen Hesse's Out of the Dust) it can be very effective.  The verse aspect builds an interesting story, layers some magic into the words.  Unfortunately for this story, that wasn't the case.  Rather than being an asset to the story, Schroeder's verse was distracting and forced.  Though there were a few instances of the verse being what it should have been (a unique way of showcasing what Ava was feeling), most of the time it read like diary entries that were arranged funny.  This is laziness and/or overconfidence, in my opinion.  You can't just chop up lines or arrange them funny and call it verse.  There has to be a real attention to language and words, to the way things sound and flow together.  They should be read aloud and tweaked minutely again and again until they are precisely what they should be.  Poetry should add something overall, its own unnameable something.  It isn't just there because the form is non-traditional, you have to create it.  I didn't feel Schroeder did an adequate job of creating it.  Also, the titles for each "poem" just added to the feeling of it feeling really forced, and broke up the flow a bit for me.

Also, I found Ava to be a little crazy.  I mean, I know she is really young, and as such won't always handle things the way she should, but when she starts to feel held back by Jackson's presence, when she is ready to move on with her life, she comes off really whiny and immature.  I did like Jackson's role in this, and that she mistook his reason for haunting her, and I liked the healing process aspect, and even the mystery that Ava dances around in her poetic diary entries.  But in the end, those things weren't enough for me, and I picked this book up twice and put it back down again before I got through it -- and it's something easily read in an hour or so.  With a little more attention to the "poetic" aspect, or if that was discarded and it was treated as a diary instead, it could have worked a bit, and I would have liked it more, but as it was, I don't think I'll be reading more from Schroeder for awhile.  But if you're interested in it still, grab it from the library -- it's not like it will take up a ton of your time, after all.


On the book's site you can browse inside and get a feel for the style yourself.

There's a pretty cool interview with fellow author Cynthia Leitich Smith on Smith's site.  Lisa talks about the inspiration behind I ♥ You (it was a dream.  Oops, spoiler)

Hear Lisa reading from the book, or watch the trailer:
(fair warning, in the beginning of the clip where Lisa reads, she squeals "Hey, Peeps!" in the beginning.  It hurts)

Friday Face Off (13)

Alright, it may not be Friday the 13th, but this is the 13th post of Friday Face Off, so I thought we should have something a little creepyish and special to commemorate: a creepy contest in 3 rounds.  A creep-off, if you will.

ROUND 1: Creepy character book
We Have Always Lived in the Castle is one of my favorite books of recent, and I absolutely loved the disturbing main character, Merricat.  I loved the cover, too, but there were actually a couple of characters I liked for this one.  So which was works for you?  Which gives you the eerie feeling and suits the story best?

ROUND 2: Creepy cats
We all know the whole back cats crossing your path jazz, but what about black cats on covers?  Amazingly, I found two totally different black cat books with very similar covers -- just like a normal FFO!  So which black cat is bringing more bad luck in this round?

ROUND 3: Creepy mash-ups.
My sister is more than a little disturbed by the covers of these two books, so I thought it only fair to include them.  Now it's up to you: which do you like better, which turns your stomach more -- whatever criteria you use to judge such a thing

Last Week on FFO: A whole lot of books went head (Peeps v. The Laughing Corpse v. Dark to Mortal Eyes v. The New Testament (Illuminated).  You all seemed to prefer Peeps better, with a couple of nods to Dark to Mortal Eyes, but the reasoning seemed to have more to do with Westerfeld loyalty than the actual covers.  I personally preferred The Laughing Corpse, which made great use of color and font, IMO.  And yes, it really was the Bible.  The creepy, creepy version, apparently.  Whatever sells, I guess.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

In which winners are announced...

It's April 15th.  That means 1 of two things: -- you've just realized that your taxes have to be done by midnight (shit!) OR -- you're anxiously awaiting news of winners for a buttload of contests here on Book Rat.
(And you may have always wondered just how much constitutes a "buttload" -- turns out, it's 4)

(this whole videos not syncing up thing is really starting to irritate me. If anyone has any help for this...)

Character Connection: Gilbert Blythe

Okay, for the first couple of CCs, I just gave you the friendly types.  Cinna's cool and admirable, Stefan has a bit of the dreamy, but really I just want him as a friend.  Well, no more.  Today I give you who I believe to be my first (among many) literary crush: Gilbert Blythe.

If you just said 'Who?' then hold out your hand so that I may first slap it, and then turn it over and place a copy of Anne of Green Gables into it.  Gilbert Blythe is Anne Shirley's brainy, somewhat arrogant arch-nemesis turned love of her life.

Now, whether you watched Jonathan Crombie as Gilbert tug on Anne's (Megan Follows) hair and call her "Carrots!" in the brilliant mini-series, or you read along as "Gilbert Blythe was trying to make Anne Shirley look at him and failing utterly....she should look at him, that redhaired Shirley girl with the pointed chin and the big eyes that weren't like the eyes of any other girl in Avonlea school..." I think you'll agree with me that, from that moment on, Gil had our hearts.  It was maybe not the most auspicious of beginnings, but to be fair, he did later pass her some heart candies to make up for it.

There's just something about Gilbert.  He's smart and challenges Anne, but he doesn't overdo it.  He's patient, but he's not a martyr and won't be walked all over.  He has great, stomach-fluttering lines that you have to reread a few times to get the full swoon.

I have read Anne more times than nearly any other book (1 exception), and though I love Anne and Marilla and Diana Barry, I looove Gilbert.  Sometimes on my rereads, I do a Gilbert Only version where I skip around to my favorite Gil scenes (#1 = Gil and Anne in the rowboat, just after the Lady of Shallot incident.  Also my favorite scene in the movie).  I wait on tenterhooks for him to pull through his sickness every. time.  I know he's going to live, and still I worry for him.
There were many reasons I wanted to be Anne, but I think Gil tops the list.
(I mean, I was able to love him in spite of the fact that his name is Gilbert.  That says it all. ;p)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Happy Birthday to Cleverly Inked (and us...)

My buddy Cleverly Inked is having a birthday.  And this year, she is apparently turning crazy, because she is having the most inSANE contest I've seen in awhile.  And because I love you, I am sharing it with you.

Cleverly Inked Button

The breakdown:

Grand Prize winner get to
choose 10 books Plus a Mega Swag pack

Second place winner will
get to choose 8 books Plus a Mega Swag

Third place Winner
will get to choose 6 books Plus a Mega Swag Pack

Fourth Place Winner will
get to choose 6 books Plus a Swag Pack

Fifth Place Winner will
Get to choose 5 books Plus a Swag Pack

Sixth Place Winner will
get to choose 5 Books Plus a Swag Pack

Seventh Place Winner will
get to choose 4 Books Plus a Swag Pack

Eight Place
Winner will get to choose 4 Books Plus a Swag Pack

Ninth Place Winner will get the
remaining 2 books Plus a Swag Pack.

Then it will
continue on until they are all gone :)

You want to know what the books are?  They will blow your mind...
Go wish Cleverly Inked a Happy Birthday!!! and enter to win LOADS of great stuff!


Monday, April 12, 2010

The Red Shelf

Let's take a peek at my red shelf, shall we?

It's been awhile, folks.  Should have shown you a new shelf weeks ago.  But to compensate, I gave you some especially ridiculous "peek at" makeup to match... ;-p

Now, there have been some changes made to the red shelf since this picture was taken (thanks to this past week's Read-a-Thon, which encouraged me to pull some books -- which were immediately replaced, but still).  Freefall got sent off to a friend, and The Sweet Hereafter was given the axe (I put it up for swap on Goodreads, and it was snatched up).  I also pulled The Solomon Sisters Wise Up and The Abracadabra Kid and tossed them into the (prize) pool.

Not pictured:
The Knife of Never Letting Go, which is on the shelf now,
Falling Angels
O, Juliet
The Sea of Monsters
The Book of Lost Things
Famous Family Nights
Fire Study
Rowan of the Wood, all of which reside elsewhere.

Red seems to be a popular cover color choice.  Do you own a lot of read red books?  (<-- oops.  But appropriate)
Mine fave red covers are The Knife of Never Letting Go (for sheer cover awesomeness), Submission (which I only keep because of its cool cover), and Water for Elephants, and my fave red bindings are The Book of Lost Things (has neato vines), The Archivist (which looks like an old tome) and Catching Fire (ooh, shiny!)

What's your favorite?

You may also be interested in my green shelf or my purple shelf or my yellow shelf

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Read-a-Thon wrap-up

Alrighty. The R-A-T (<--- !!!) is ovah, and though I didn't get quite as much done as I would have liked, I certainly made a dent.

So here's what I did accomplish:
  • Completed: Sorcery and Cecilia, Bailey's Day, Share the Love, The Composer is Dead
  • Other reading: most of First Daughter, a bit of Zan Gah, and a bit of Mr Darcy, Vampyre
  • Wrote and posted reviews for Magic Under Glass and  Inside Out
  • Wrote and scheduled reviews for Changeless & I Heart You, You Haunt Me both of which are coming this week ; and Eyes Like Stars, which you'll see at the end of the month (it was a book club read, and I want to include their 2 bits) 
  • Jotted down stuff for reviews of Bailey's Day, The Composer is Dead, and First Daughter
  • Did a little button designing and preliminary sketches for a few more Rat Badges
  • Cleared some books off my shelves.  A full box worth.
  • Did some rearranging of the shelves, including color-coordinating the insane amount of books residing on my cedar chest, and clearing one small shelf to be current to read/review books only.  It makes finding them so much easier.  And it is in my line of sight pretty much all the time I am in my room, so I can see just what I need to get through and get a move on.
  • Worked a bit on going through posts and labeling, bringing them up to date, etc (still have more that needs to be done, for sure)
  • Deleted some useless or unused sidebar stuff)
  • Added Google Analytics so I can keep track of things a bit.
  • Made some to-do lists.  Now I need to use them.

So as you can see, I got a fair amount done, but it was pretty piecemeal, and not nearly as much reading as I would have liked (3 of the 4 finished books are kids books)  I would like to say this was because I was so busy with really important things but the truth is, I was in a BBC mood, and had an impromptu Secret Diary of a Call Girl/Being Human marathon.  So.  Yeah...

But still, I am very glad I participated, especially for the little extras like sharing with you my favorite 3 bloggers or my top 6 of the year, etc.

Now back to the marathon!  Er, reading.  I mean reading...

Time for some Zany...Interview with Steve Hockensmith, author of Dawn of the Dreadfuls

Alrighty, as promised in the Be My Guest with Jane Austen and Steve Hockensmith, I've got some fun, xany, interviewy goodness for ya from Mr. Steve Hockensmith, author of a number of books, including Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, which you may be familiar with, as I gave it a brilliant BR review. :}
Speaking of, there was a little contest attached to that, as you may remember, to win a prize pack from Quirk Books, and hey!  two of you lovelies won!  Congrats, dears!

Now let's get to it: 


(<--- yes, there are many pictures I could have chosen of Steve, but his Twitter 'follow me' pic wins, hands down...)

Book Rat: You wrote a zombie novel, which is different from your norm; discuss.

Steve Hockensmith: Since I’ve done mysteries up to now, I’m more used to writing about dead people. The kind that just lie there while other (living) people talk about them, I mean. But it didn’t feel like a big switch to try my hand at horror. All my books have suspense and action in them. This time, the suspense and action just happened to involve reanimated corpses. I had a lot of fun with it, actually. I especially enjoyed the opportunities to think up unique zombies: There’s a drowned one tied to a rock, a slithery one that’s only a torso, etc. Murder mysteries can be dark, but this was something else entirely. Fortunately, it turned out my imagination’s even sicker than I’d previously thought!

BR: In writing a prequel to P&P&Z (and P&P, for that matter) you had an interesting position: your story hadn't been written yet, so you had more control in some ways, but you were writing toward two stories.  What was that like?  What was the most frustrating aspect of keeping the continuity, and what was the easiest?  

SH: I found the prequel aspect of it -- writing toward a foregone conclusion -- to be really helpful, actually. Sometimes, it can be hard to pin down exactly what a story’s about, but that wasn’t the case here. The whole time, I knew exactly where we were headed and why. And it was fun to find ways to work in continuity here and there -- to throw in little bits of backstory the fans would hopefully appreciate. Truthfully, I can’t think of any downsides. I loved writing a prequel!

BR: In reading DOD, I got the impression that you actually liked Jane Austen; it was playful, more like you were joking with her, not making her the joke.  Is this correct?  Were there lines you weren't willing to cross, or was Jane fair game?

SH: Thank you! That’s exactly the impression I’d want a reader to come away with. The dedication of the book says it all: “For Jane -- we kid because we love.” That’s not a joke. I poke some fun in Dawn of the Dreadfuls, sure, but on the whole I think it’s very respectful, because I do truly respect Jane. Despite all the humor, it’s not a zany spoof or what the English would call a “pisstake.” I’m taking the established characters and situations fairly seriously. I think I did cross the line a few times in the first draft -- some of the humor was over the top. But in the end, we pulled back on the wackiness a tad because we wanted readers to stay invested in the story. 

BR: If you could impose a zombie infestation on any other book, what would it be?  And if you could redo any other Jane work, with any other odd slant, what would it be?

SH: I keep thinking a zombie murder mystery would be great, because the victims would all be running around with knives sticking out of their backs or whatever. Before the detective could even examine a body for clues, he’d have to catch it. We’ll see if I ever get around to writing something like that, though. As for Jane, it’s hard to think of another mash-up or reimagining that someone else hasn’t done already. I might have another PPZ book in me, we’ll see, but beyond that Austen purists have nothing to fear from me!

BR: What's the future look like for you?  Plans for upcoming works?  Plans for bomb shelters to weather the zombie apocalypse (zombocalypse)?

SH: I’m finishing up my fifth “Holmes on the Range” mystery at the moment. (They’re books about 19th century cowboy brothers who set out to become detectives just like their hero, Sherlock Holmes.) After that, stay tuned....

BR: Worse place to face a dreadful?

SH: Zombieland pegged that. The bathroom, for sure.

BR: Oh, god yes!  One of the many bits of wisdom to be found in zombieland...
Would you rather:
 -- be overwhelmed by zombies who crack into you like crab claws, or be munched very slowly by 1 determined zombie?
 -- eat dinner with the odious, long-winded Mr Collins, or be said Collins' dinner?
 -- same question, Mrs. Bennet...
 -- same question, Lord Lumpley (man, I wanted to hit him in the throat; well done on that)

SH: The quicker the better, when it comes to dying, so I guess the zombie buffet would be my choice. And I’d pick dinner with Mr. Collins, Mrs. Bennet or Lord Lumpley over being dinner. If it were all three of them at once, though, I might have to reconsider.

BR: Top 5 tips for surviving in a world of dreadfuls?
1. Stay in shape (so you don’t run out of pep in the middle of a sprint).
2. Stock up on books (so you don’t have to leave your bunker just because you’re bored).
3. Join the NRA and start stockpiling weapons now. If you wait until the zombie hordes descend, it’ll be too late.
4. Learn to love Spam (because that’s what you’ll be eating for the next 10 years...unless you don’t run across any abandoned grocery stores, in which case you’d better learn to love rat).
5. Abandon hope and prepare to meet your doom. Why be all disappointed when you finally end up an hors d’oeuvres?

BR: Top 5 tips for surviving in Regency England, sans zombies?
1. Get rich.
2. Don’t get sick.
3. Don’t get hurt.
4. Don’t go outside (lest you should become sick or hurt).
5. Don’t become a hermit (lest you grow sickly and hurt yourself).

Gee...kinda sounds like good advice for 21st century America, don’t you think?

Well put.  Great stuff, Steve!  Thanks!

There you have it, folks.  Some good stuff there, no?  I thought so, too.  Hope you enjoyed it, and just for a teaser, this is not the last you'll be seeing of Mr. Hockensmith and DOD...

I leave you with one of my favorite book trailers in recent times; the scene with Dr. Keckilpenny and his zombie butterfly net made my day.  Enjoy:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...