Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Book Coveting

I wasn't going to do a post this week. As you can tell, I barely made the actual "Sunday" portion of the title!! But I have a few additions to the ol' TBR and figured I might as well post one more time in the month of May.

I can't believe May is over!! Maybe it's the fact that May is over already and time is speeding along, but for some reason this weekend I have been deeply depressed. And I just can't seem to shake it. I think a lot of it has to do with being perpetually tired. 3rd shift is a bitch on a person's life. I hate mornings. I really do. BUT given the chance to go back to 1st shift, I'd do it in a New York minute. There is a huge distinction, I've found, between being a night person and being an OVER night person. I don't sleep well....ever. And when I do have time off, I try to flip back to everyone else's schedule. It's tough. I know it's more than the sleep thing....but it certainly doesn't help. So...hopefully, posting will be cathartic and maybe put me in a better frame of mind!

So...on to my coveting.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore - Since Kailana from The Written World couldn't gush enough about this book.....and I trust her taste, I'm pretty sure I will love this book! There are a few bloggers out there that will recommend something and I will trust them implicitly. Kailana is one of them!

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams - I read a review that Natasha from Maw Books. It's a YA book about polygamy and FLDS. This is a topic that never ends to fascinate me. Can't wait to read this one!

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters - I have never read a book by Waters. Sure, I've read all the glowing reviews. And I have a couple on the TBR list. But when I read Nicola's review at Back to Books, I was pretty sure this would be my first Water's book, although she deviates from her norm. This is a gothic/Historical Fiction book.

Wings by Aprilynne Pike - I first read about this book from Shelf Awareness. Then I read a review from Melissa at Melissa's Bookshelf. YA, Fantasy, Faeries. Seems to be calling my name!

Last, but not least, Mating Rituals of the North American WASP by Lauren Lipton - There was a blog tour this week about this book. I think I might have first read about it at Joanne's blog, The Book Zombie. Something a little different for me. I haven't read a lot of "Chick" lit lately, although this is supposed to be more than that. Sounds like fun.

That's it for this Sunday. It was beautiful out today, but I fear the rain is heading my way...again. *Sigh* I'm so tired of the rain! Have a great week!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Continuing Zoey Redbird Saga.....

As faithful followers of this blog, you all know my love of both YA and Vampires. So it will come as no surprise that the next book I review is Hunted: A House of Night Novel (Book 5) by PC Cast and Kristin Cast (336 pgs, St. Martin's Press, 2009). Not only is it a selection for the YA Challenge 2009, but also for the Once Upon a Time III Challenge.

WARNING: There may be spoilers if you haven't read Book 4!

The dream began with the sound of wings. In retrospect, I realize I should have known that was a bad sign, what with the Raven Mockers begin set loose and all, but in my dream it was just background noise, kinda like a fan or the TV turned on to the QVC.

Immediately taking off where Untamed left us hanging, Zoey and her circle have fled to the tunnels to escape the demon Kalona, that Neferet has released to be her consort. Putting her faith in Stevie Rae and the new red fledglings, Zoey and the gang needed to regroup and decide what they were going to do. The Raven Mockers have started on a quest to massacre the humans; Neferet has turned away from Nyx and joined the Dark Side, increasing her powers along the way; Kalona has a strange hold on all the other residents of the House of Night. Trying to come up with a plan, they realize that one of the red fledglings' poetry seems to hold clues as to how they can stop Kalona.

But when Zoey's human ex-boyfriend, Heath shows up to try to help, he brings trouble to the tunnels. And Zoey is almost killed in the process. Weak and seriously injured, the only chance for her survival is to return to the House of Night to heal, among the adult vampyres. Leaving Heath and Erik to stay with Stevie Rae and the red fledglings, the rest of the gang heads right back into the fire of the House of Night.

Hunted, in it's entirety takes place in only 2 days. The action is fast-paced and immediate. But if I'm going to be honest, I was disappointed with this book. As readable as it is, it is not nearly as good (or well-written) as the previous book, Untamed. Why was I disappointed? Zoey never seems to learn her lesson. As a High Priestess in training, she should be more focused on the tasks at hand. But she keeps falling back into the same trap with the men in her life. She can't break with ANY of them, and now she has even added a new one to her entourage!!

More unanswered questions leave us hanging at the end: Most importantly....what is really up with the red fledglings?? Can they truly be trusted?? Which, of course, is a nice way of getting us prepared for the NEXT book. I really need to quit reading series books that have no endings because now I have no closure!

But my main disappointment with this book is the editing!! I've read a lot of ARC's that are considered uncorrected proofs. And that's fine. But for me to go out and BUY a new NOVEL to find blatant errors really bothers me. There are at least three major typos (including a name switch : Damian's name in place of Darius) that really irked me. It made the whole book seem like it was rushed to the shelf. There seems to be an inconsistency between the books in the series - an up and down in quality to them. Note to anyone at St. Martin's Press: If you need a new copy editor, I AM available!

All of that said, I still enjoyed the book. I still need to finish the series because I MUST know how it all ends! If you have read the rest of the series, you should definitely read this one. Just don't expect a lot of answers and don't expect to be 'wowed' like before! 3.75/5

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Strangers in Paradise

Since taking up the Graphic Novel calling, I decided to spend some time browsing the pretty slim selection that my library has in stock. And I came across this little gem: Strangers in Paradise Pocket Book 1, Vol. 1 by Terry Moore (Abstract Studio, 360 pgs, 2004).

This is the story about friendship, first and foremost. Katina "Katchoo" Choovanski and Francine Peters have been friends since high school. Ten years later, they are now roommates. While Katchoo is strong, independent and self-reliant, Francine is just the opposite. She is insecure, timid and spends her time letting men walk all over the utter dismay of Katchoo. Even though they are best friends, Katchoo is hopelessly in love with Francine.

But one day, while browsing an art gallery, Katchoo meets David, who is unlike any man she has ever met. He is gentle and kind....and falls hard for Katchoo. Even though she flat out tells him she is not interested in men, David installs himself into the girls' lives and quickly becomes a friend. When Francine is dumped by her boyfriend of a year, Freddie Femur, Katchoo goes on a rampage and gets arrested for assault. The arrest starts a chain of events that brings out a lot of ghosts from Katchoo's past. And while she is terrified that Francine will think less of her, Katchoo opens up to David about how bad things had been for her. And the things she had to do to survive.

When Katchoo disappears for just over a month, Francine and David start to become friends. But Francine, who is still reeling over losing Freddie, finds out about Katchoo's secrets, she is not so much disappointed in knowing that Katchoo was hiding portions of her life....but that she choose to share that past with David, and not her.

While half the beauty of reading a graphic novel like The Sandman was in seeing the beautiful illustrations, it's different with Strangers in Paradise. The illustrations are definitely second to the story and the characterization. Set in black and white, the pictures are simplistic and subtle. But the characters are so deep. Moore alternates from dark and violent to light and ditsy with ease. There is much more to the story than just a simple love triangle. There is murder, mayhem and the mafia well as $850,000 in stolen mob money.

And while Katchoo could easily be just a stereotypical independent man-hater, Moore develops her into so much more. By reading her back story, you come to find out the reasons she has become the hard-shelled woman that would rather shoot you than speak to you. But under the incredibly tough exterior is really a shattered little girl that has a tender heart and wants to be loved too. Francine is insecure and ditsy, but she also has more hidden underneath....although we don't learn as much about her in this volume.

I couldn't read this book fast enough. I just had to know what was going to happen next. And through the book, poetry is used to lace the different sections together. That is probably the most surprising and delightful part of the whole book.

There's a shadow on my back
From a light that never cracks,
I come to you in my sorrow,
A broken man who has to borrow,
In my eyes it's plain to me,
You're my star and destiny.
An empty house I call mine,
Deep in debt and buying time.
Turn what's left of energy
Into you, my only dream.
In my eyes it's clear to me
That you're my star and destiny.
Shine for me,
Blind my sight,
Don't let me see,
What I can't fight.
In my heart
You are there
Precious pain
But I don't care
Cause in my eyes
It's clear to me,
You're my star
And Destiny.

I can't recommend this book enough. But a mild comic it's not. Harsh, violent and abrasive at times, there are no superheroes. There are no fairy tales. Just people, dealing with some extraordinary problems. And that's what makes this comic so unique. 4.5/5

Monday, May 25, 2009

Music Mundays - Loreena McKennitt

After reading Chris' Inaugural post last week for "Music Mundays" , I knew this was something I needed to participate in!! Music is as much a part of me as reading. A few months back I did a Sunday Salon post about the Playlist of my Life. Different songs that have meant something to me. Music, like nothing else, defines me. And since I hardly box myself in to anything, my taste in music is seriously diverse. Although I tend to come off as the "rocker" chick, I do listen to a wide range of music. My taste vary depending on the day and how I feel. One day, I can wake up and feel rebellious....and I'll listen to the Sex Pistols or The Ramones. The next day, I'll feel nostalgic and want to hear some old school Prince.

Today, I was feeling a little down. It's a beautiful weekend, a holiday to boot...and I have to work. I debated between Loreena McKennitt and Enya, both of whom are very similar. But the mood for McKennitt struck me and here is my post!!

Loreena McKinnett is a Canadian born singer, harpist and pianist. Her music is Celtic or World in nature, but most of it could probably just be considered folk music. And it is beautiful! Whenever I feel down and out, I will put on The Book of Secrets. The first time I heard the song "The Mummer's Dance", I was hooked.

8 albums in total, McKennitt's music has been featured in many movies and soundtracks, including Highlander III, The Mists of Avalon, The Santa Clause, Northern Exposure, and most recently, Disney's Tinker Bell.

I know this is probably not what you expected from the girl that goes to Ministry, Rage Against the Machine, Disturbed and Slipknot concerts. But see? I told you I was diverse! Sit back, and listen to some really beautiful music and just see if you it doesn't make you feel better!

Lyrics to The Mummer's Dance:

When in the springtime of the year
When the trees are crowned with leaves
When the ash and oak, and the birch and yew
Are dressed in ribbons fair

When owls call the breathless moon
In the blue veil of the night
The shadows of the trees appear
Amidst the lantern light

We've been rambling all the night
And some time of this day
Now returning back again
we bring a garland gay

Who will go down to those shady groves
And summon the shadows there
And tie a ribbon on those sheltering arms
In the springtime of the year

The songs of birds seem to fill the wood
That when the fiddler plays
All their voices can be heard
Long past their woodland days

And so they linked their hands and danced
Round in circles and in rows
And so the journey of the night descends
When all the shades are gone

"A garland gay we bring you here
And at your door we stand
It is a sprout well budded out
The work of Our Lord's hand"

Happy Monday!!! (And Happy Memorial Day!!)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Odd, but Wonderful, Choice for a Newberry

I'm not really sure why the choice of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book (320 pgs, Harper Collins, 2008) as a Newberry Winner surprised me so much. As a true fan-girl, I know the supreme awesomeness that IS Neil Gaiman. I just didn't realize that others, most notably the CRITICS and NEWBERRY judges, knew it too. Read for both the Once Upon a Time III Challenge and the YA reading challenge, this charming and enchanting book was both dark and beautiful.

The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade finer and sharper than any razor. If it sliced you, you might not even know you had been cut, not immediately. The knife had done almost everything it was brought to that house to do, and both the blade and the handle were wet.

And so begins the tale of a boy named Nobody. Nobody Owens. Or Bod for short. When he was only 18 months old the man Jack slipped into his home late at night and murdered Bod's family. Only sheer luck and happenstance (and the curious wanderings of a toddler) saved Bod's life. He stumbled into a Graveyard, and when the ghosts that inhabited the yard saw him, they knew the little boy was in trouble. The man Jack was trying to find the boy, and his mother, recently deceased pleaded with the inhabitants of the graveyard to protect her son. Mr. and Mrs. Owens, a couple that could never have children in life, took it upon themselves to "adopt" the boy. Since they could not leave the Graveyard, the mysterious Silas (a member of the "Honour Guard") and another resident took it upon himself to be the boy's guardian. He was able to leave, and provide food and clothing for Bod.

As the years went by, Bod learned a lot from the residents of the graveyard. Because his situation was unique, he was given the Freedom of the Graveyard. What this means is that he is allowed to enter places the average human being isn't able to. He is also learning skills such as fading, dreamwalking, and sliding. The ghosts of the graveyard were his friends, his family, his teachers. Each of the 8 chapters is like it's own little story, with Bod progressing from being a toddler to becoming a teenager.

Honestly, I don't think it's humanly possible for me to gush MORE about Neil Gaiman. Every person that reads this blog knows I'm a huge fan. But who knew this book would be something even more special than some of his other books? (oh, yeah...that's right. The people that gave him the Newberry Award!) In typical Neil Gaiman fashion, this book is really dark for a children's book. Death is the absolute core of this book. His family is killed at the beginning, and he spends his life in a graveyard. He is surrounded each day by the dead. If he leaves the graveyard, there are people waiting out there to kill him too, although he doesn't know why. But through it all, Bod turns out to be a real person, knowing his time at the graveyard is limited.

My favorite "stories", out of all the chapters, are probably the ones with Liza, the witch. When Bod was eight, Silas explained to him about Potter's Field, and the people that were buried in the unconsecrated ground. A "witch" lived over the fence in Potter's Field, and her name was Liza Hempstock and when Bod falls out of a tree there, she helps him. Trying to think of something nice to do for her in return, Bod decides he needs to buy her a headstone, for she is buried in an unmarked grave. What starts out as a tiny little trip outside the gates, ends up being a dangerous journey. But Liza had followed Bod. When she found out the reason he was in the outside world, she helped him escape back to the graveyard, and forever had a soft spot for Young Bod. And if I was hard pressed to actually pick one chapter as my FAVORITE, it would probably be the Danse Macabre.....the one day that all the ghosts were allowed outside of the walls of the graveyard, to do the Danse of the Macabray.

A little something for everyone, this book should appeal to kids and adults alike. With an unbelievable cast of characters ranging from a curious little boy to ghosts parents to a guardian that is quite an enigma. Although it never really says, I have a feeling that Silas might possible be a vampire, since his interactions with humans are different than the others in the graveyard. There are also a whole host of ghouls, bad guys, and even a werewolf. And when Bod is allowed to go out of the graveyard to school, he learns the best from both worlds.

Quite frankly, this is one of the best books I've read all year. So far, I haven't met a Newberry that I didn't like. The Graveyard Book is no exception to the rule! Go Read This Book! Right now. Run, don't walk to the nearest library!! 5/5

Monday, May 18, 2009

Book Coveting....and a Little Randomness

To coincide with Dewey's Books Reading Challenge, each month one of the participants comes up with a mini-challenge. For the month of May, Debi (Nothing of Importance) is hosting the mini-challenge:

"I don’t know about you, but I was literally addicted to Dewey’s blog. (Yeah, I’m pretty darn sure I wasn’t alone in this addiction either!) And some of my favorite posts were her Book Coveting posts. And there were her Reading Journal posts, I really loved those. Oh, and her monthly wrap-ups. And yes, of course, her book reviews. Okay, so I guess pretty much everything she had to say…

But for this mini-challenge, I thought maybe we could focus on Book Coveting. And seriously, this challenge really shouldn’t be much of a challenge at all! Because all you have to do is write a Book Coveting post of your own…and I know you all have books you’re coveting! So just write your post anytime during the month of May, and then come back here and add your post to the comments.

And the randomly drawn winner will receive a subscription to Bookmarks. Seems fitting, huh?"

I have to agree. I think Dewey's Book Coveting posts were among my favorites. I eagerly awaited Sundays to read her posts. Needless to say, I received a lot of great recommendations from Dewey. She had a huge affect on my TBR pile!!

So, today I'm completing this challenge and doing a "book coveting" post of my own. I know Dewey did a Sunday post about books she learned about during the past week. Since I have never done a book coveting, these are just a list of books that I decided I need to read....since spying them on other people's blogs:

Savvy by Ingrid Law. I've seen a couple reviews for this book, both on Becky's Book Reviews and Maw Books. This book earned an Honorable Mention for the 2009 Newberry Award. Since I haven't met a Newberry yet I didn't liked, this one was immediately thrown on the TBR pile!

Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman. Although I know a couple of bloggers that reviewed this children's book, it's mostly Neil himself that gets credit for this covet. I read about the book on his blog when he was promoting it for Mother's Day. It looks like one I would love to have!

The Forest of Hands and Feet by Carrie Ryan. This is another book I've seen all over the blog world lately. But this review Kailana wrote is the one that pushed me over the edge. Besides....who doesn't love zombies? (in theory anyway!)

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Chris from Stuff As Dreams are Made On reviewed this one a few weeks back. If there is something that I love more than zombies, it's Vampires!! So, yes...there is some serious coveting going on!

One for Sorrow by Christopher Barzak. Nymeth from Things Mean Alot reviewed this book about a year ago. I have been wanting to read it ever since!

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Speaking of Nymeth, she-who-fills-my-TBR-pile, this is another review that spoke to me. A definite must-read sometime this year.

Life Sucks by Jessica Abel. Since I've fallen helplessly the victim of blogger peer pressure and started reading graphic novels, I'm now always on the lookout for more. Joanne, The Book Zombie, reviewed this one. Vampires? Yep, I have to read it!!

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Being released in September, this is the follow-up to The Hunger Games, which was an amazing book. I can not wait to read it!!

Finally, I want to read any book by Michelle Moran. I know a lot of bloggers that speak so highly of her books. But I haven't yet had the pleasure of reading one. So...I'm adding her to my list!!

Those are just a few of the books that I am coveting at the moment. This was such a special part of Dewey's blog, that I'd like to maybe add it to mine, if only once a month. That way, all of you bad bloggers out there can see just what you do to my TBR pile!!

If this post is in any way incoherent, I apologize. It was a long weekend of work, and I'm on just about my last legs right now. Soon, it's off to bed for me and some serious recuperation time. I've spent the better part of the week in agony with my shoulder again. It's time for a cortisone shot. I have to go on Friday. If you knew my abject terror of needles, then you would know just how bad I've been feeling!!

It's been a rather productive month for reading. I've taken a ton of books out of the library, and I have a pile of ARC's that I need to plow through too. At the moment, I'm reading The American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. It's really slow going for me. This isn't a fast-paced action book, but a slow character study. It's not that I dislike, because that's not the case. I'm actually enjoying it. But it seems to be taken me forever to read it!! Other than that, I'm getting ready to start my first read for the Non-fiction 5, with Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall. And I really need to start reading Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson.

Also this week, I have at least 2 books to review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and Hunted: A House of Night Novel (Book 5) by PC Cast and Kristin Cast.

Happy Reading everyone!

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Disreputable History Indeed...

I first saw a review of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (Hyperion Books, 352 pgs. 2008) over a year ago and thought that it looked great. I'm a big fan of YA books, as you well know. Not sure what took me so long to read it, but once I decided to join the Printz Project, I knew this would be one of the first books I read.

I, Frankie Landau-Banks, hereby confess that I was the sole mastermind behind the mal-doings of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. I take full responsibility for the disruptions caused by the Order -- including the Library Lady, the Doggies in the Window, the Night of a Thousand Dogs, the Canned Beet Rebellion, and the abduction of the Guppy. That is, I wrote the directives telling everyone what to do.

Frances (Frankie) Landau-Banks is a student at the prestigious Alabaster boarding school. As a freshman, she was pretty much unnoticed. When she was, it was only because her sister, Zada (a senior) was really popular. But the summer after her freshman year was good to her, and she came back to school in the fall with a knockout figure. When Senior Matthew Livingston, the boy she coveted her entire freshman year, showed interest in her, she was ecstatic. Until she realized she was playing second fiddle to his best friend, Alpha.

Then she found out that Matthew was a member of Alabaster's secret ALL-MALE society known as the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. Because her father was also a member when he attended Alabaster, Frankie knew a bit about the group. And she wanted in. Of course, as a girl, there was no way the boys were going to let her in.

But after she figured out the clues given to her by her father (and spying on a meeting of the Bassets), Frankie found the lost and secret Disreputable History written by years of members. Arming herself with a new email address, Frankie set in motion a series of events that was sure to leave the campus talking.

What I loved about this book was Frankie. She is strong-willed and smart. Not a person to take stereotypes lightly, Frankie tried to break ranks and do what she felt was right....and damn the consequences. She decided she wasn't going to sit by and do nothing when she knew she was smart enough and strong enough to be a member of this group. She was going to break down the barriers that said she couldn't do something because she was a girl. My favorite paragraph in the entire book is this:

Matthew had called her harmless. Harmless. And being with him made Frankie feel squashed into a box -- a box where she was expected to be sweet and sensitive (but not over sensitive); a box for young and pretty girls who were not as bright or powerful as their boyfriends. A box for people who were not forces to be reckoned with. Frankie wanted to be a force.

I love a strong female protagonist. I've said that many times. And that is exactly what Frankie is. She doesn't want follow the expectations of others....she has her own expectations. And she is taking no prisoners.

But as in real life, every action has a consequence. And Frankie has to face up to those consequences. She is young and naive enough to think that Matthew and the other Bassets are going to be impressed with her intelligence instead of upset that she thought outside the box. I have to say, I wasn't thrilled with the ending, but in all actuality, it was probably the best way it could have been written. Very real life, and not some fairy-tale, happily-ever-after conclusion. In Frankie, Lockhart has created a strong, unforgettable character, that defies cliques and stereotypes and just is. She is the person SHE wants to be, not the person that others thinks she should be. And that is commendable. Every girl should read this book to show them they don't have to follow the "rules" society has set for them. And every boy should read it as well...just to prove to them that there are girls that won't handle being "put in a box"l!! Highly Recommended!! 4.5/5

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Of Mother's Day, Star Trek, Spring Programs and Library Loot

What a weekend!! I worked a bunch of it, but did take a little time for Mother's Day. The kiddie's were excited about it. They love to make presents. We grilled burgers and had a little picnic. Bella made me a beaded bracelet (in her favorite colors, so I would always remember who gave it to me!! Yellow and orange!). Ana made me a colorful windsock to hang out on the porch. And Chad went to the store and bought me chocolates and cookies. Just what I needed!! But, hey, it's the thought that counts!! And they all made me some beautiful cards/pictures. Can't beat that for a nice day.

Mike gave me a wonderful card and took us all out to the movies. I've been begging to see Star Trek!! Now, I'm not a huge Trekkie to be honest. I mean, I loved the original. I used to watch the reruns with my dad....and all the time in college. But that's about it. I tried 2 of the movies, and to be perfectly honest, they bored me stiff. And I don't think I ever watched one episode of any of the Next Generation Star Treks either. In hindsight, I probably would have enjoyed them. At the time, I wasn't interested.

Then Mike told me I had to watch the trailer for the new Star Trek movie. He said it look awesome. I said I wasn't interested. Till I found out Zachary Quinto was playing Spock. If I haven't said it before, I HEART Heroes!! Since day 1, I have been in love with that show. And Sylar....well, he's dark and dangerous. The BAD boy....and I have always had a thing for bad boys!!! So, I watched the trailer and knew I had to see this movie. I wanted to go even more than Mike by this weekend.

Was I pleased? Hell, ya! The movie was Freakin' FANTASTIC!! Simon Pegg played Montgomery "Scottie" Scott! Another one of my favorite actors. Damn, I just look at him and start laughing. No review today, but even if you aren't a Trekkie, I think you will like this movie. It was great!!

Then yesterday, I went to Bella's Spring Program. It was a western/gold rush theme. It was cute. It's about time though. If I had to listen to Wagons Ho just one more time, I probably would have gone postal!! I mean, now *I* even know all the words!! The kids looked great and sang loud (if not on-key!) I mean, the ARE 3rd graders. I even stuck around and had lunch with the girlie. It made her day....and made me happy too!! Then it was off to the library to pick up my books that had come in on ILL. I really need to stay away from that place. It's not like I don't have enough of my own books to read. But all you Bad Bloggers out there keep tempting me!! So here is a quick edition of my Library Loot!!

Well....there's not really much to say about this one. Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice. NO, I have never read it. So I thought it would be an excellent choice for the Classics Reading Challenge!!

Next up is John Connolly's Nocturnes. It is a book of Short Stories. I'm reading it for the Once Upon a Time Challenge. I've been trying to get this book since the challenge started. The last 2 years I have used Neil Gaiman as my Short Story guy, and sadly, I've run out of Gaiman stories!! So, I thought I would try something new. I loved the Book of Lost Things. Thought this would go well with the theme.

The Dreaming Place by Charles de Lint is a little novel, dealing with Native American and Celtic mythology. Just sounded like a perfect fit for the Once Upon a Time Challenge. Besides...what's the OUaT without de Lint??

I haven't been able to get Vol. 2 of The Sandman yet, but Vol. 2 of Fables: Animal Farm arrived yesterday!! I'm pretty stoked about reading it too!! Lordy, you guys created a monster!

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan is a book I've seen pop up on tons of different blogs. With all the same it!!
Also thought it would be another great selection for the Once Upon a Time!

Runaway by Alice Munro is another collection of short stories. I'm super-far behind in my reading for the Canadian Challenge. And I've wanted to read Munro for a really long time. This looked like a good place to start!

Monster by Walter Dean Myers was actually the first book to win the Printz Award in 2000. This one is part of my quest to read all the Printz award winners and honors books!

Finally, my first selection for the Non-Fiction Five Challenge is Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs by Elissa Wall (and you thought this post had a long title!) Ever since I started watching Big Love on HBO, I've been super-interested in the FLDS groups. Thought this would be a good place to start reading!!

Well....that's it for me today. I worked last night and I am fading fast. Just wanted to pop in and post. Say Hi to everyone. Give you a little update...and all that jazz. Next up: a couple of reviews: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. Till then.....LIVE LONG AND PROSPER!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Speaking of Graphic Novels.....

This seems to be Graphic Novel Week here on the blog. I just wanted to point out a new website:

I got an email from Nichole Bruce (of The Book Reporter, a sister website) .
Says Nichole:

"Edited by John Hogan, former editor of Pages magazine and a lifetime fan of comics and graphic novels, features insightful reviews that will guide readers to books they will enjoy, as well as interviews and roundtables with the top creators, publishing professionals and academic librarians in the field today. Opinion pieces, a blog, news on upcoming releases and movie and DVD releases based on graphic novels will round out the editorial coverage and offers readers a fresh, in-depth look at graphic novels and their creators. is updated every other Wednesday and it includes content for adults, kids and teens. Readers can subscribe to a newsletter at or subscribe to an RSS feed that will alert them to updates about the site at

Recent creator interviews on include Alan Davis (Captain Britain, Marvelman), Gerard Way (The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite), Nate Powell (Swallow Me Whole), Dan Goldman (08, Shooting War), David B. (Nocturnal Conspiracies) and Dean Motter (Mister X). There are more than 130 reviews already on the site. In the weeks and months to come, even more compelling content is coming:

  • A roundtable with academic librarians about the challenges and issues they face today
  • A sneak preview of the three stories in Gene Luen Yang's new book, Eternal Smile (First Second)
  • Interview with James Sturm, author of Adventures in Cartooning (First Second)
  • Interview with artist Zid about the process he used to create the artwork for City of Dust (Radical)
  • An op-ed piece on animation in the autobiography genre by Ellen Besen, award-winning animator and author of the new book Animation Unleashed: 100 Principles Every Animator, Comic Book Writer, Filmmaker, Video Artist and Game Developer Should Know.

Just wanted to throw this out there for all you Graphic Novel Fans!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Booking Through Thursday - Graphic

Booking Through Thursday

Last Saturday (May 2nd) is Free Comic Book Day! In celebration of comics and graphic novels, some suggestions:

- Do you read graphic novels/comics? Why do/don’t you enjoy them?
- How would you describe the difference between “graphic novel” and “comic”? Is there a difference at all?
- Say you have a friend who’s never encountered graphic novels. Recommend some titles you consider landmark/”canonical”.

I haven't participated in the Booking Through Thursday meme for quite awhile. I usually log in and check out the topic, but I'm either late to the game or just not interested in the topic. Then today, I happened to look at the question....and thought "How Ironic is this?? Incredible Timing!"

In this post (that I made 2 days ago!), I talked about how I had just read my first 2 graphic novels....ever!! So, I guess that's a "Yes" to the first question! And I enjoyed them highly. Some of the best reading I've done all year. I do have to preface this by saying that I took a lot of time trying to decide WHAT graphic novels to read for the first time. I took into account not only topics that I enjoy (ie. fantasy/horror) and a known favorite author, but also a LOT of blogger recommendations. So I was pretty confident if I liked the medium, I would LOVE these 2. And I did!

Is there really a difference between a comic and a graphic novel?? Well, I would definitely say the price!! Graphic novels are expensive. When I think of comics, I think of the cheap little paper-covered "books" that used to be held in racks by the door of our local grocery store. Graphic novels are usually a lot longer and are bound differently. Some graphic novels are collections of a group of comics. But is there any real distinction other than this?? I would have to say, "not really". (how is that for vague?) Although it makes me feel more grown up to say Graphic Novel, in all actuality, it really IS a comic!!

Recommended titles? Definitely see my previous post. The Fables series by Bill Willingham is wonderful. Modern day setting with fairy tale characters!! LOVED it. And The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman that I started is equally fantastic, although very dark. There are tons of Super Hero graphic novels. The Watchmen by Alan Moore is definitely an icon. A cult classic, to be sure. And Maus by Art Spiegelman actually won a Pulitzer Prize!! But I am not a good person to ask this question to because I'm just a newbie. Trust me...there are lots of bloggers out there that can answer this question way better than me!

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Graphic Novels Edition

It must be a record!! 3 days in a row!! I decided to combine my graphic novel reviews. Figured it might be easier that way. Of course, I could probably talk all day about these two!!

I decided for my first graphic novel I should probably start with a known love....Neil Gaiman. Makes sense, right? The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman (240 pgs, Vertigo, 1993) is just an amazing piece of art. The language, the story, the pictures, the characters. This one has it all!

Wake up, Sir. We're here.

As this story opens, a mystic by the name of Roderick Burgess acquires a grimoire with the sole purpose of 'capturing' Death. But his failure to bind Death results in another being captured: Dream. Imprisoned for almost 70 years before he can escape, Dream returns to the world to find his realm in shambles. His powers are diminished, and he goes on a quest to get back his "tools" so he can rebuild and set the World of Dreams right again.

In his quest, we meet some of the incredible cast of characters this book (and hopefully the series) has to offer: Cain and Abel, Lucifer Morningstar, The Hecateae, John Constantine, and Dream's sister, Death (who happens to be a really cool goth-chick!)

I know this story is only the first, but it held me utterly captive! From page 1, I could tell it is something special. Brilliant in it's complexity, it is dark and bold. The section entitled "24 Hours" is so completely chilling, it actually made my skin crawl!! Dr. Destiny, the man who has Dream's Ruby, goes into a diner and spends 24 hours there showing us the affect that Dream's possessions has on people. In the wrong hands, the power of the dream can be a really horrific thing.

As you can probably tell by my gushing...I will definitely be reading the rest of this series!! For ANYONE that loves things dark and creepy, this is a MUST read!!! 5/5

Next on the list of new favorites is Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham (128 pgs, Vertigo, 2002).

Once upon a a fictional land called New York City....

In today's modern society, Fables live among the humans, or mundanes, as they like to call us. They have been exiled from their home. They have set up an underground Fable government to police and rule their own. King Cole is the man in charge, although the brunt of the dirty work falls to his next in command, Snow White. We open the series with the disappearance/murder of her sister, Rose Red. Bigby Wolf (Big Bad Wolf) is the Sheriff of the Fables and is called in to investigate.

Although completely different in tone than The Sandman, I think I might just love this book equally! It is a world where Snow White and Cinderella are both divorced from the womanizing cad, Prince Charming. Rose Red is a party girl that dates Jack (and the Beanstalk) but has promised her hand in marriage to Bluebeard. The Big Bad Wolf has the hots for Snow White. And Pinocchio, a boy for centuries, just wants to get laid!! Inventive, fresh, and witty, this book is fantastic! Taking old fairy tales and relating them to modern day is not a new concept, but this book takes the whole realm of Fables and puts them in one box. And it works so well!!

One of the best things about the book is the addendum entitled A Wolf in the Fold. This is purely prose, and it tells the tale of Bigby and how he rescued so many of the Fables from the invaders to their land. Fascinating and brief, we get just a peek at the man behind the wolf's clothing.

I don't think I will be able to read this series fast enough. Now I just have to FIND all the editions in the library system!! Although this may be a fairy tale, it is most definitely too adult for the younger set. Simply fantastic, I give it my highest recommendation!! 5/5

Monday, May 4, 2009

Return to Fablehaven.....

It's time for a book review!! I'm not feeling all that well today. I'm nursing a killer headache and what could be allergies. I'm achy, stuffy, sneezy and my eyes are all watery. Let's just hope it's allergies and not the swine flu!!

Book 2 in the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull is Rise of the Evening Star (456 pgs, Shadow Mountain Press, 2007). I am using this book to "check off " a couple of challenges: The Young Adult Challenge 2009 and the Once Upon a Time Challenge 2009.

Crowding into homeroom with the other eighth graders, Kendra found her way to her desk. In a moment, the bell would ring, signaling the start of the last week of school. One final week and she would leave middle school behind forever and start anew as a high school freshman, mingling with kids from two different junior highs.

After last summer's eventful trip to visit their grandparents, Kendra and Seth's lives have returned to normal. Finding out that your grandparents are the caretakers of a magical refuge for mystical creatures can make everyday life seem rather boring. That is, until the end of the school year when a new student enters Kendra's class. A new student that isn't human. But only she can see what a vile creature he really is. Last summer, when the kids were at Fablehaven, Kendra was kissed by the fairies. Now she has the ability to see past the glamour that everyone else sees.

When a man arrives and says he was sent by Grandpa Sorenson to help, the kids believe him. But when he tricks Seth into freeing a demon called Ooloch the Glutton, the kids are forced to retreat back to Fablehaven. Of course, Fablehaven is having troubles of it's own. It is just one of many magical refuges around the world. There are 5 special artifacts hidden in five different refuges, and Fablehaven is one. An evil group known as the Evening Star is trying to infiltrate the refuges and steal the artifacts. If all 5 are recovered and the mystical properties restored, it means bad news for the entire world. Now it seems like someone at Fablehaven is a traitor working for the Evening Star. And it's up to the kids to try and save the day....again!!

While Brandon Mull has created a wonderful world at Fablehaven, I seem to have some trouble with this series. I LOVE the storyline, but the writing just seems so elementary to me. BUT, in defense of the author, this story is written for a target audience of 9 - 12 year olds. This is actually younger than most of the YA books I normally read, so the problem is probably just mine.

As I've stated, the storyline is fun, unique and really fast-paced. You get to interact with all sorts of fantastical creatures, including faeries, brownies, satyrs, imps and naiads....along with some truly evil creatures. Now that Kendra has been made "fairykind", she has developed some powers all her own. And in the end, even the elementary writing didn't stop me from truly enjoying this book. A complete cliffhanger at the end also ensured me reading the remainder of the series, and I think now that I know how the writing is, I will be far quicker to enjoy the next book.

If you have a young fantasy lover in your house, I think this series will definitely be a must read. Even as an adult, I actually ended up really enjoying the book. I'm definitely recommending this series for anyone that wants to have a little adventure!! 4/5

And stay tuned tomorrow for a review of my 1st Graphic Novel!!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Sunday Salon.....April in Review

The Sunday
What a month! Ok, it was a truly sucky reading month. I admit it. And I was WAY lax in my posting. So, dear readers, I do apologize for the very infrequent posts that I made. But so many things were going on, there just wasn't time. I know. Same excuse as always. I just can't help it if it happens to be TRUE!!

So....what went on in the month of April in our household?

  • There was work (but isn't there always??) Lots and lots of hours of work!!
  • My youngest BABY....turned 7. And she got her very first bike. At least, her very first NEW bike.
  • Soccer started for Ana. And softball practice started for both Bella and Ana.
  • Easter.
  • My grandmother's illness and passing.
  • Aaron's movie started filming in town....and finished in the same month. Although we weren't as heavily involved as some, we spent quite a few hours on set. And at the killer wrap-party!! And made a whole bunch of new friends in the bargain.
  • Twitter. I can't begin to tell you how many hours have been sucked into the black hole of Twitter!

OK....there was more going on than that....but that gives you an idea. I was unable to participate in the read-a-thon. I had to work that weekend. I would love to in October, but I'm not holding my breath. Chad plays JFL football, and almost every game is on Saturday. If it's a travel game, I could be on the road for 3 - 4 hours (some games are really far away!)

WAY more books came into my house this month than left. If I keep up this pace, the foundation may start to crack! Pathetic reading month for me. Only 4 books and 2 Graphic Novels. Of course, those were my very first graphic novels! It didn't take long for me to be hooked either. Say, 1/2 a page?? The only problem I see is that the graphic novel is rather expensive. And my library has a VERY poor selection. In fact, the two that I read were borrowed through inter-library loan. I don't know how many of either series is actually in the system, but I can tell you there is no way I'm stopping now!! Hopefully, if the libraries don't have them, I can get them to pick up at least a couple. After that, I may be busting open the piggy bank. Or at least breaking out the birthday money that I've stashed away for a rainy day.

I also joined 3 reading challenges this month: The Non-Fiction Five Challenge, The Classics Reading Challenge, and the Printz Project. least I read more books than the number of challenges I joined. That could have been bad!

Books this month:

  • Cry of Justice by Jason Pratt
  • Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Fablehaven Book 2: Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull (review to follow)
  • The Sandman Vol 1: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman (review to follow)
  • Fables Vol 1 by Bill Willingham (review to follow)

I'm shooting for a much better month in May. More books, more reviews, more posts. Only time will tell!!

Happy Sunday and Happy Reading!!