"I may not know how to fly but I know how to read and that's almost the same thing."-- Gregory Maguire, Out of Oz

"...while finding true love was one of the most splendid things that could happen to you in life, finding a friend was equally splendid." -- Felix J Palma, The Map of the Sky

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

"He couldn't have pulled back the lock, they couldn't simply have climbed over the sides of the stall in all of three seconds, because those weren't the rules of the game.
Theirs was the intoxication of the hunter, his the terror of the prey. Once they had actually captured him the fun was over and the punishment more of a duty that had to be carried out. If he gave up too early there was a chance they would put more of their energy into the punishment instead of the hunt." --Let the Right One In
At school, twelve year old Oskar is a target for bullies and is ostracized. At home, his greatest pleasures involve scrapbooking about serial killers and imagining what it is like to be one. When he isn't being hunted, he's pretending to be the hunter. When a boy Oskar's age is found murdered in the woods, it's all he can think about until he meets his new neighbor... Eli -- a strange, sickly girl, who lives with what Oskar assumes is an abusive alcoholic father -- moves into his apartment complex. And in Eli, Oskar finds a clean slate. She doesn't know him, so he can be whoever he wants to be when he's with her. He doesn't want to be the monster, he wants to be her hero.

This story is slow, dark, and suspenseful. Oscar is bullied. Ellie is sick. How can you not feel bad for two children fighting to survive? And I think that's what makes this book so unnerving. That the main characters are children and childhood should be a time for innocence, not a time to learn survival of the fittest.

Their story, overlaps with the stories of several other characters, all caught up in the devastation left by a serial killer. The town drunk's best friend is murdered, and the love of his life goes missing. He tries to find out what really happened to the people he cared about as he loses his grip on reality. Then there is Tommy, the teenage thug, who's pretty much got thing figured out, even as the police refuse to believe the evidence. As if anyone is ever going to believe a deadbeat with a drinking problem or ask a street kid for information.

There were plenty of plot twists to keep the reader entertained and horrified with themes that were well thought out. The negative, and in this case extreme, effects of bullying combined with two haunting questions: How far would you go to protect someone you loved? How far would you go to simply survive? -illuminates one of the things I love most about Mr. Lindqvist's writings. He depicts protagonists who are as unnerving as the monsters. By the time you know who the "bad-guy" is, you're a little slower to point finger.

This is one of those books, that I've read over and over just to better admire and understand the nuances.

Rating 5/5

Original review posted:

Apr 11, 12

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Top Ten Things On My Bookish Bucket List

My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish. Today's theme, the Top Ten Things On My Bookish Bucket List (could be blogging related, book related etc. -- meeting authors, reading x many books per year, finishing a daunting book, etc.) made me have to think.

  1. I suppose finishing my To-be-read-list, an improbable task, because the list keeps growing.
  2. I would love to meet JK Rowling...but I think I'd panic, forget what to ask/say her, and just stare at her and make her uncomfortable.
  3. I'd also like to meet John Ajvide Lindqvist because he made me love horror.
  4. I want to read Watership Down
  5. and Jurassic Park...but for some odd reason I keep putting them off.
  6. I would like to have my copy of Miss Peregrine's School for Peculiars, signed.
  7. I'd like to have at least one of my own stories published...
  8. ...and see it on a Best-seller list ;-)
  9. I want to know how the Kingkiller Chronicles ends, which mean Patrick Rothfuss would have to finish the third installment for me.
  10. I want to finish reading that Spanish mystery novel my friend gave me back when I was learning Spanish. She thought I'd like to read in two languages more than I wanted to speak two languages. She wasn't wrong.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Biomass Revolution by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

The year is 2071 and everyone is being watched. A revolution is taking place and Spurious a state worker for Tisia, is on a mission to find out the truth after the love of his life, Lana, gets into trouble. Obi is the leader of TDU, a rebel army trying to bring down Tisia at any cost. Then there is Alexander Augustus and Tinus, leaders of Tisia and Tisia's Knights (a squad of elite military enforcers).

I think this story had a decent concept idea--a futuristic society under heavy government surveillance, after a nuclear war over a newly discovered fuel. The choices the characters had to make were moral quagmire in a good way; naive State-workers must choose between staying loyal to a dictatorship, or supporting the TDU who aren't any better than terrorists. The TDU had to struggle with cost of collateral damage that came with trying to achieve their end game, while the villainous Knights had to commit horrible acts on orders from above or have their loyalty questioned. Meanwhile Immigrants from before the war are being held in concentration camps being forced to fight for their right to keep breathing one more day...

However. I don't think there was enough follow through. My first complaint, is that this story never once explained what the new Biomass actually is and that's sort of an important thing to leave out, considering the world destroyed itself, fighting over it. Then on top of that confusion, there is too much going on, with too many characters, and that makes the story harder to follow. At the 70% mark, you expect a story to start tying loose ends, but it was still introducing new characters and subplots. Much of the narration is well done, imaginative and descriptive, except for when the author switched from small words to bigger ones--I love big words so you wouldn't think I'd find a problem there...And I wouldn't have, had the author known the correct definition and used those words correctly.

The characters were fairly enjoyable despite being hard to connect to, if only because they were creatures of action. They kept the story moving. But then they open their mouths and the dialogue falls flat, revealing plot holes. Like Lana and Spurious, feeling insecure in their own thoughts, wondering if the one ever notices the other. Then all of a sudden they're confessing their love for each other without really knowing each other. It's too easy, too cliche. This isn't a Disney story. Or how about Spurious and Leo? You meet a stranger in an alleyway in a ghetto and he knows more about you than you do, and your first instinct is stop and have polite chit chat? Then with the TDU; some of the scenes with Obi are really engaging. But then fight scenes occur where the "Good Guys" surmount insurmountable odds as if by magic. All the while character dialogue continues to drop snippets of information that the speaking character couldn't possibly know.

I see a lot of 5 and 4 star reviews for this book both on Amazon and on GoodReads, so it seems I'm in the minority with this review. It certainly didn't help my attitude that by the end of the book, the nature of Biomass still hadn't been revealed. Leaving me wondering, whether or not the author even knew the answer. And if the author doesn't know which characters are good or bad, what the main characters hope to achieve, what started the war, or why he's even telling the story....What hope does the reader have, of knowing these things?

Rating: 2/5

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist

“Viktor had been very sad about their grandfather's death, but Flora had intuited that it was less the person he grieved for than the fact of death itself. Death meant that people actually disappeared. That everyone was going to disappear.”― John Ajvide Lindqvist, Handling the Undead
Residents of Stockholm are experiencing an abundance of strange phenomenon. First the oppressive weather begins triggering headaches, followed by unusual power surges that trigger electronics to malfunction. Shortly after, the newly deceased wake up in morgues, dig themselves out of their graves, and try to return home...

Gustav Mahler's life ended the day his grandson died. Now he sees the possibility to take back what he's lost and make everything right. Flora's grandmother sacrificed years of her life to a catatonic husband. His death was a relief and she wants nothing to do with his afterlife. David wants everything back to the way it was before. He doesn't want to explain to his son why Mommy can't come home and he doesn't know what the right thing is. She horrifies him even as he loves her. Authors who tackle the subject of zombies, typically focus more on the mindless monster theme. The focus here is the living and how they handle and impossible situation.

I loved this story. It wasn't just another zombie-apocalypse, running and screaming and hiding from mindless murder machines. It wasn't scary in the sense that after the book was done, you had to look over your shoulder to make sure an Undead Menace wasn't crouching behind your reading chair. It was scary because it was an emotional look at what would happen if someone you loved/hated/grieved came back from the dead and which scenario would be worse? If they could come home or if they couldn't? And how far would you go to protect someone who technically, wasn't alive?

Rating: 5/5
Original Review Date:
Apr 11, 12

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Top Ten Books On My Spring 2014 TBR List

My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish.Today's theme is Top Ten Books On My Spring 2014 TBR List (to be read list) and these books are listed in no particular order because let's face it, my reading habits bounce about dependent on mood.

  1. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
  2. Awake by Elizabeth Graver
  3. Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
  4. Frankenstein by Mary Shelly
  5. The Necromancer by Jonathan L Howard
  6. The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett
  7. Dune by Frank Herbert
  8. The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier
  9. City at the End of Time by Greg Bear
  10. Lucy by Laurence Gonzales

Monday, March 17, 2014

Saint Patrick's Day

Have a happy one! 
Drink responsibly, designate a driver, wear green, and enjoy your meal!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Quotable Thursday on Friday.

Sorry, lol, I did a silly thing. I forgot to send the bill in, that reminds the internet provider to keep broadcasting the internet. They're real sticklers about paying on time.

So far, I'm loving Palimpsest. CMV loves her imagery; no sentence left un-beautified. I'm not as far in as I'd like to be, but if you gave The Night Circus a good rating you'll probably like this. It's a little more erotic than The Night Circus though, its about a fantasy world that can only be accessed by having sex with someone  whose already been there...

"Their happiness was the kind which is fashioned of the comfortable disorder of sauvignon bottles and coffee cups in the sink, paperback thrillers with split spines on the nightstand, bathrobes hung haphazard on high-backed, brocade-seated chairs, shutters left open all night, and the hallway ever in need of new paint."

Quotable Thursday originally brought to you by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

“Most men have no purpose but to exist, Abraham; to pass quietly through history as minor characters upon a stage they cannot even see. To be the playthings of tyrants. But you...you were born to fight tyranny.”
I was really surprised by this book; fact and fiction blend seamlessly together as Seth Grahame Smith tells the story of Abraham Lincoln from childhood to his assassination: a lawyer, politician, family man and vampire hunter.

Things I liked:

The Intro -- To my surprise, the story does not start with our 16th president's birth... Instead, it starts with modern day times and a failed novelist.

The Horror -- These vampires aren't nice, they don't want to be your friend, and they certainly don't want to carry on an epic romance with teenage girls. But the horror is introduced artfully, first as an unseen foe Abraham struggles to name, and then growing more violent and more cunning over the years.

The Dreams -- In novels, you don't need to document every time the characters takes a nap or goes to the bathroom. The reader just assumes it happens.SGS takes advantage of this edit, by introducing dream sequences. Passages so exciting and so frightening you can't bear to look away - And then Lincoln wakes up.

The Emotion -- Abraham Lincoln's childhood was not easy so it's no wonder you can't help but respect him more for who he will eventually become... But more than that, the losses he experiences, as he experiences them, brought tears to my eyes. And almost as important, the losses made me hate the tyrannical, murderous vampires, more than I thought possible.

The End -- A twist I didn't see coming. That is all I will say on that matter.

Rated: 5/5
Originally posted:
July 1, 12

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Top Ten All Time Favorite Fantasy Books

My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish. Today's theme was a Top Ten You Pick The Genre, and given that choice I will always choose Fantasy.

Harry Potter series by JK Rowling.

Children of Hurin by JRR Tolkien edited by Christopher Tolkien. (Really, I love all the Tolkien stories, but this was my favorite.)

The Wicked Years series by Gregory Maguire

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Little Country by Charles de Lint

The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini


Enchantment by Orson Scott Card

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

The Flying Dutchman series by Brian Jacques

The Telling Pool by David Clement-Davies

Friday, March 7, 2014

Marble Hornets

This entry isn't about books, but it is about a bit of great writing, so I'm thinking it counts. Every great movie starts as a screenplay, every screenplay had to be written by a human-being-- Some of whom are more clever than others. Now I hardly take my nose out of books long enough to notice what's happening in the world around me, so maybe you've already heard of the Marble Hornets; that's highly probable as the movie's got over 1 million followers. Which makes me feel so silly for not hearing about it sooner.

But for anyone who doesn't know what Marble Hornets is, let me tell you. It's a movie/webisode series on YouTube, based on the horror monster known as  "The Slenderman".

And for those who've never heard of The Slenderman, he is the product of a horror-buff-forum-thread where users were invited to create their own monsters. Someone submitted two black and white photos of children, altered to have a tall, ominous, faceless, suit wearing figure with tentacle arms hovering in the background. The story-line behind the monster, explains that he stalks his victims, who are often children,  and may or may not have killed the photographers unlucky enough to capture him on film.

Now if you're not a horror fan, the Marble Hornets might not be for you. But if you're an American Horror Story fan, and your jonesing for something creepy to fill the void until Season 4, you'll probably love this. The story follows a character named Jay as he searches for answers about his friend Alex. Alex was a film student, working on a project called Marble Hornets, but over the course of filming he began to have a mental breakdown and ordered Jay to destroy the film. Jay didn't. Alex disappeared, Jay put the footage out of mind. After rediscovering the footage, Jay decides to watch the videos and find out why Alex went crazy in the first place. And I'm sure if you're a fan of horror, you can easily guess no good is going to come from asking questions.

This story is addicting. My threshold for horror is low; I like the idea of supernatural phenomena but every time I press play my mind becomes a mantra of, "I don't want to know, I need to know, I don't want to know, I need to know..." My nose is six inches from the screen and my fingers a gripping the arms of my chair. I'm the person that DVRs shows like American Horror and The Walking Dead, so I can watch them in the morning light, when the monsters can't get to me....

But I have to acknowledge genius when I see it. First my hats off to the person who created the monster in the first place. Then a round of applause for the mad man who wrote the chilling webisode series. I use mad man as a compliment here, because all the horror movie trailers I've seen have been about ghosts, demonic possession, or serial killers on spree. Nobody's really working to make new monsters anymore, and don't you sort of wish they would? And as if the brain behind the web-series wasn't impressive enough, he went and created a second channel, called "totheark", where an unknown character posts coded messages in response to Jay's discoveries. If the creator of Marble Hornets and the creator of The Slenderman got together, I have a feeling they'd own the horror market in no time at all. As it is, I've seen rumors that someone has bought the rights to Marble Hornets and a movie is on its way. And if that's true, I'll probably rent it at home, so I can watch it with the lights on...But I will watch it, and that's the important bit.

If you haven't seen it and you want to here's the Marble Hornets YouTube Channel. This is the companion channel totheark YouTube Channel. If you have seen it, please no spoilers I'm only at Entry 25 and I've got along way to go...

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Quotable Thursday

This week for Quotable Thursday I'm reading Palimpsest by Catherynne M Valente...I actually just started this book this morning, so today, you're getting the opening lines of Palimpsest.
"On the corner of 16th street and Hieratica a factory sings and sighs. Look: its thin spires flash green, and spit long loops of white flame into the night. Casmira owns this place, as did her father and her grandmother and probably her most distant progenitor. It is pleasant to imagine them, curling and uncurling their proboscis fingers against machines of stick and bone..."
Quotable Thursday originally brought to you by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire

Bianca's life in Montefiore is interrupted, when her father is sent on a quest for an ancient relic, abandoning her to the care of Lucrezia Borgia.

Gregory Maguire, as always, has intriguing ideas on how fairy-tales could have gone. But I admit to being disappointed with this story,because the villain does not narrate this tale as with the bulk of his fairy-tale rewrites, instead this story has many narrators. And that is one area where it could have been improved on. While the transitions between 3rd person and first person were seamless enough to not detract from the story too much, the story would have benefited more if 3rd person had been maintained throughout. The switching viewpoints made the story chaotic and it made connecting to the characters harder than it had to be. I found the dwarves to be a bit confusing, although the lack of detail surrounding those characters may have been a convoluted attempt to maintain the mystery around them. I admit to being disappointed that Michelotto was not allowed to kiss Bianca, I didn't really understand the point. For much of this retelling of Snow White, the plot and the characters were mostly unfocused.

That being said, I enjoyed the portrayal of the infamous Borgia family as Bianca’s wicked caregivers… It was probably the only redeeming quality about the book. The slight touches of magic that surround the dwarves lives and Bianca’s ability to sleep away the years were entertaining although it also gets added on to the growing list of things left unexplained. I think Vincente’s storyline also could have been better developed: he was on a quest for an ancient relic, it was the perfect excuse for an adventure, and yet it went nowhere.

Then the ending was too vague considering the whole story was vague. I suppose GM thought it was very clever to leave it up to the readers' imaginations, but I’m greedy enough to wish I could know concretely whether or not Bianca had been reunited with her family at last.

I’m marking this story with three stars because I because it kept me entertained, while acknowledging it was not nearly as fun or thought out as Maguire's other works.

Rating 3/5
Originally posted:
Aug 2, 12

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Top Ten Popular Authors I've Never Read

My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish. Today's theme, Top Ten Popular Authors I've Never Read, was surprisingly easy; I'm the kind of person who 9 times out of 10, will read the opposite of what everybody else is reading. Here are ten popular authors whose books I've never read.

  1. EL James
  2. Suzanne Collins
  3. Jane Austen
  4. Cassandra Clare
  5. Jodi Picoult
  6. George RR Martin
  7. Nicholas Sparks
  8. John Grisham
  9. PC Cast
  10. JR Ward