Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What Makes My Wallet Hurt



Gah. Me want.

Why I Hate Science



Mr. B: Alright, class. I have some good news!

Chris: No homework?

Carol Ann: Pizza party?

Asshole-but-I-love-'em Nick: Panda bears?!?!?!

Mr. B: Nope! We have our UNIT TEST! TOMORROW!

Me: *shrinks*

Indeed.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Meme me, baby

Saw this at Jaime's blog, Revenge of the Book Nerds.

1. Do you like blue cheese? I don't eat anything with "blue" in the name. It's jsut a thing.

2. Have you ever been drunk? Kind of. With Mike's Hard Lemonade that one time...

3. Do you own a gun? Nerf.

4. What flavor of Kool Aid was your favorite? The one from Family Guy. "All-riiiiight"

5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? Yes. My mom likes to play this game called "let's not tell Danielle she needs a tetnus shot..."

6. What do you think of hot dogs? You don't wanna know.

7. Favorite Christmas movie? Nightmare Before Christmas. Guilty pleasure would be that Disney one with Brenda Song.

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? I would say orange juice, but I haven't drinken anything in the morning since third grade.

9. Can you do push ups? Hahahaha

10. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry? Earrings.

11. Favorite hobby? Read the blog, sweetie.

12. Do you have A.D.D.? In science. And math. And history...

13. What’s your favorite shoe? Comfortable ones.

14. Middle name? Eve

15. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment? Think of a thought, think of a thought, think of a thought...

16. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink? Rockstar, Red Bull, coffee, Sprite, Coke, whatever's in the house...

17. Current worry? I have homework. And I have to finish this book before the end of the week or I'll be a complete failure.

18. Current hate right now? A girl named Brooke. Let's squish her.

19. Dum da dum dummmm what is that? Your face.

20. How did you bring in the new year? Punching someone in the face. Every. Single. Year.

21. Where would you like to go? London

22. Name three people who will complete this? Your mom, your mom and...hm...*your* mom.

23. Do you own slippers? not that I know of

24. What color shirt are you wearing right now? black

25. Do you like sleeping on Satin sheets? Do I own Satin sheets?

26. Can you whistle? Sort of...it kind of sounds like someone punctered a lung, but there it is.

27. Favorite color? I don't know

28. Would you be a pirate? For sure.

29. What songs do you sing in the shower? "fuck you" by Lily Allen or "at last" by Etta James...yes, those are my shower songs.

30. Favorite Girl’s Name? Mmm...Catherine. Has a certain ring to it. Or Diablo.

31. Favorite boy’s name? For sentimental reasons, Kurt.

32. What’s in your pocket right now? a piece of paper I suspect is important

33. Last thing that made you laugh? My friend Paul in math class who was arguing with the teacher: "I don't understand what this is--no, it's not a denomenator...no! I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT YOUR SAYING!"

34. Best bed sheets as a child? I had the same Powerpuff Girls sheets for a good six years (yes, it was gross)

35. Worst injury you’ve ever had as a child? Stubbed toe. I'm not a fragile child.

36. Do you love where you live? No. Jersey is literally the armpit of America. Except no one's shaving it.

37. Revenge of the Nerds or Fast Times at Ridgemont High? Fast Times

38. Who is your loudest friend? Olivia

39. How many dogs do you have? Don't rub it in

40. Does someone have a crush on you? Maybe

42. What is your favorite candy? that Dove chocolate shit.

43. Favorite Sports Team? GIANTS!

44. What song do you want played at your funeral? I should say something really deep and profound, but that "Your not sorry" song by Tayler Swift always makes me really sad, so I guess that'd be appropriate

I pass along to everyone.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Double Post: Trust Me and Bending Towards the Sun

Today, I thought I'd do a double review, seeing as I won't be online for a few days and these books have been waiting patiently to be reviewed.



Title: Bending Towards the Sun

Author: Leslie Gilbert-Lurie with Rita Lurie

Pages: 357

Summary:

A beautifully written family memoir, Bending Toward the Sun explores an emotional legacy—forged in the terror of the Holocaust—that has shaped three generations of lives. Leslie Gilbert-Lurie tells the story of her mother, Rita, who like Anne Frank spent years hiding from the Nazis, and whose long-hidden pain shaped both her daughter and granddaughter’s lives. Bringing together the stories of three generations of women, Bending Toward the Sun reveals how deeply the Holocaust lives in the hearts and minds of survivors and their descendants.


A decade long collaboration between Leslie Gilbert-Lurie and her mother, Holocaust survivor Rita Lurie, is a heartbreaking tale of survival and rememberance. Beginning with the immediate dislocation of Rita from her childhood home in Poland, at the age of four, it follows her two-year lockdown in an attic with fourteen members of her family, soon decreased to twelve after the tragic back-to-back deaths of her younger brother and mother. Throughout, she is constantly told to remain quiet, not even given the time to cry.

This book is touching, heartbreaking, and inspiring. A definete must for lovers of literature, holocaust memoirs and a family dynamic

Rating: 8 out of 10



Title: Trust Me

Author: Peter Leonard

Pages: 290

Summary (from Amazon):

Karen Delaney has found the perfect way to retrieve $300, 000 dollars from her ex-boyfriend, Samir Fakir. When Karen and Samir were dating back than, she lent him the $300, 000 to invest but than they broke up a few months later and he never returned the money to her. Karen and her current boyfriend's house is broken into by two men by the names of Robert "Bobby" Gal and Lloyd Diehl. They demand the usual...money and jewels. Karen has a plan in mind. She proposes to Bobby and Lloyd that if they will break into her ex's place and fletches the money than she will split the money with them.

Things don't go as smoothly but this bumbling gang gets the job done. Karen pulls a sneak attack and makes off with the money. The question is can she hold on to it or will she and her Benjamin's be parted?


If I had to describe Trust Me in as little words as possible, it would have to be engrossing.

A page-turner from start to finish, Leonard takes us through his second book with a surprising grace that doesn't come along too often in thrillers. While flawed, it's a fun, interesting trip into the world of medium-time crime and the minds of those commiting it. One of those "airport books"--you know, the ones you see in the airport bookstore when you realize you have a five-hour flight and nothing to read. In the vein of James Patterson, Trust Me will keep you reading from beginning to the brilliant end.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Also--Peter Leonard's father is Elmore Leonard. The Elmore Leonard. AKA the reason I wake up every morning. While definetly not one of the greats, his Tarentino-style finishes and Western skin jumpers have gotten me through more then a couple of lazy afternoons. I, of course, did not know this until about half-way through Trust Me, and I am a bit afraid this fuzzed out my critical senses, but...Peter has the blood of Elmore. *dies*

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Book Review: Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines

Title: Girl in the Arena

Author: Lise Haines

Pages: 324

Summary:

It's a fight to the death - on live TV - when a gladiator's daughter steps into the arena

Lyn is a neo-gladiator's daughter, through and through. Her mother has made a career out of marrying into the high-profile world of televised blood sport, and the rules of the Gladiator Sports Association are second nature to their family. Always lend ineffable confidence to the gladiator. Remind him constantly of his victories. And most importantly: Never leave the stadium when your father is dying. The rules help the family survive, but rules - and the GSA - can also turn against you. When a gifted young fighter kills Lyn's seventh father, he also captures Lyn's dowry bracelet, which means she must marry him... For fans of The Hunger Games and Fight Club, Lise Haines' debut novel is a mesmerizing look at a world addicted to violence - a modern world that's disturbingly easy to imagine.


I could write this review. I could tell you what I did, and didn't like about it. I could give you a full list of it's strong points and it's short comings. I could tell you it's the worst book in the world. But you know what? None of you would listen. This is a book that, simply by the title, every teenage girl (and some adult women) will pick up, no matter how great it is. Just look at the cover. Seemingly beautiful girl slumped over with long, dark hair veiling her face, a weapon in hand and a FIGHT TO THE DEATH poster beside her--it's empowering. We gals love reading about other gals. Especially ones who kick ass. So, it is with the assumption that most of you have already added this novel to your Amazon wishlist that I write this review.

Lynn is the epitome of a Glad's daughter. Her six prior have all died honorably in the arena, and her seventh and last is considered the perfect fighter. But she, her mother Alison, her brother Thad, and her father Tommy all know that it couldn't possibly last. She knows she shouldn't be worried--even if Tommy dies in the ring, Lynn and her family are set for life, her mother switching from a Glad Wife to a Glad Widow. But during his finale battle with newbie Uber, not only is he killed--but, due to a new bylaw set in place by the Federation, it is with dishonor, therefore eliminating all his retirement and life insurance funds, leaving Lyn, her mother and her brother with only a few months to vacate their home and find somewhere else to live. To make things worth, Uber has taken her dowry bracelet from Tommy's dismembered hand. Which means that, now that the media (and the federation) has seen it, Lyn has to marry Uber. She decides to fight for her and her family's freedom, and she's determined to win, no matter what the cost...

Alright, so, just want to get this out there: the title is ridiculously misleading. Lyn (the "girl" in this scenario) is only in the arena for...like, five minutes. The entire book, while interesting, consist of her mourning Tommy and a player to be named latter, taking care of Thad, training, and reminiscing about such and such. If you picked up this book because you want to seem a girl kick some neo-Gladiator ass for three hundred pages, I'd suggest you take your business elsewhere.

Another thing you MUST know before picking up Girl in the Arena is that dialogue is

---like this, I say.


No quotes, no nothing. I eventually got used to it, but it might distract some readers.

Moving on, I thoroughly enjoyed Girl in the Arena. The character's came across as very real to me, and I would have liked to see more of them. From a critical point of view, the pacing was off with the whole thing; unnecessary tidbits drawn out with seemingly important events taking place in three paragraphs. The romance between Lyn and Uber also seemed weird to me, seeing as they've only really spoken a few times (that I saw) and most of the time was spent discussing Lyn's hatred for the guy. Then--THEY KISS. Which left me both awwwwwing and WTF???ing. But overall, Lyn and Uber were pretty cute together (despite the fact that he killed.Lyn's.father.) At the risk of rambling, I'll move on.

Girl in the Arena, while interesting, seems to fall on it's own originality like a safety net. Whenever at a loss for plot progression, Lyn starts on an inner history lesson about Glad bylaws and such, only to twirl back into the "now" like nothing had happened. There's also the occasional flashback, one in particular to her family's trip to Rome the year before. I could see how it's relevant (you know, neo-Gladiator's, Rome, geddit??) but I can't really understand what it does for the plot...except demonstrate Lyn's mentally-challenged younger brother Thad's psychic abilities.

It's also filled with some trite conversation that, again, does nothing for anybody or anything. Here's an example with Lyn's friend Mark (more on him later) and his father while training Lyn:

---You sparring without your helmet? Lloyd calls over to him.

---It's too hot, he says.

I've seen people spar both ways---with and without---so Lloyd doesn't press him.


Riddle me this, dear reader: if Lloyd doesn't press him, then what was the point of this little tidbit?

Like I said, the critic in me is pretty confused at the pacing and characterizations. But I'm also a reader, and as a reader, I did not care about the awkward plotting and strange dialogue. The atmosphere seemed to be hyper-modern, possibly to make it clear that this wasn't a dystopian future, nor an alternate past: this is right here, right now. I was rather disturbed at the intensity Haines put into the violence-obsessed world. This psuedo-Gladiator fighting was bigger then our football, baseball, soccer, movies, music, everything combined. It was a way of life. Whether you loved it or hated it, it was all around you, and no one seemed to think twice about it. Which was, frankly, fucking scary.

The characters themselves seemed to play second-banana to Lyn: she describes all those around her like everyone is just a little pathetic: her mother, desperate to maintain her Glad wife lifestyle, Thad, with the noise in his head, Mark, desperate to get inside Lyn's pants (or something), and Uber, a big bumbling sonuvabitch without a mean bone in his body. Mark, however, was adorable and I'd like to see more of him. But I couldn't help but feel like everyone had achingly few important dialogue or scenes. I digress.

Despite it's misgivings, Girl in the Arena is sharply original, painting out a world that is, like the summary implies, disturbingly close to our own. A definite must-read for fans of dystopian/fighting novels.

Rating: 6 out of 10 (leaning towards a 7)

Also: Another case of Misleading Publishers--the cover. Shows a girl with loooong hair. I'm assuming this is meant to be Lyn. Due to an incident involving Uber and Tommy's match, Lyn had to get stitches--therefore, shaving her head. In the beginning of the book. ...So no long hair. Hm.

In My Mailbox (7)

Okay, so before I get down to my mailbox goodies, I'd like to point out (as if it needs pointing out) my brand new template! (Thanks to meh girl at the Neverending Shelf for the assistance!)

Anywho, isn't it sad that the most exciting thing that happened this week is one of the Kardasions getting hitched?

*sigh*

Contest:

Friends Like These by Danny Wallace:



Thanks to Jennifer from Crazy for Books!

Amazon:

Wake by Lisa McMann



For Review:

Pastworld by Ian Beck



Proof that I'm a nerd: when I opened the packaging for this baby, I was overwhelmed with a sense of completeness that only seems to take hold whenever I come across a truly awesome book that NO ONE I KNOW HAS. Can't wait to bring it to school and show it off...not like anyone will care...but still. Hell yeah.

Bought:

Okay, so I went a little batshit at this sale my library had, and ended up buying about fourty dollars worth of one-dollar-per books and movies. I won't bother you with all the names (because, really, who has that kind of time?) but I assure you--there will be some Flash-to-the-Pasts coming. Soon.

In other, bookish news...

WICKED LOVELY by the wonderful Melissa Marr has been adapted into a movie.

Miley Cyrus has yet to be fired from playing Laurel in WINGS.

An official sequel for DRACULA has been announced.

EDWARD has yet to eat BELLA.

That's it for today, my pretties. I know my posting has been sporatic (to say the least) but I assure you brighter times are coming. Probably.

Anyway, has anyone heard this new Paramore song?



Glad they ditched the power-pop crap.

Quickie Giveaway: Devoured by Amanda Marrone

I feel a wee bit guilty. I've promised myself this would not be a "once a week" blog, but that's exactly what it's turning into. As of late, my homework load as been piling higher and higher, and it's been taking me a staggering FIVE DAYS to read a three hundred page book. Which is, I'm sure you would agree, just ridiculous.

So, in order to make up for the lack of postage, I've decided to host my first giveaway.

My library recently hosted a sale, selling paperbacks for one dollar each.

Needless to say, I went a bit crazy.

So, I ended up buying a lot of books I've never heard of before based on how pretty their covers were. One of them was this:



Now, having flipped through it, reading a few choice chapters, and checking out early reviews, I've decided Devoured really isn't for me. But it might just be for *you*

Here's how to enter:

Leave a comment telling me about a time you bought a book you had no interest in. Make sure you add your email address, cause I'm not typing in any verification code to get it on your profile. (those things drive me apeshit insane)

Extra entries:

+1 become a follower/already a follower
+1 follow me on twitter @opinionatedme12
+1 tweet about it
+2 sidebar mention on your blog
+5 write a post about it on your blog

Contest open til Saturday, October 3rd--that's one week. Good luck, m'dears.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Book Review: The Monster Variations by Daniel Kraus

Title: The Monster Variations

Author: Daniel Kraus

Pages: 245

Summary:

Someone is killing boys in a small town. The murder weapon is a truck, and the only protection is a curfew enacted to keep kids off the streets. But it's summer—and that alone is worth the risk of staying out late for James, Willie, and Reggie.

Willie, who lost his arm in the first hit-and-run attack, finds it hard to keep up with his two best friends as they leave childhood behind. All of them are changing, hounded by their parents, hunted by the killer, and haunted by the "monster," a dead thing that guards the dangerous gateway between youth and manhood. But that's not all: shadowing the boys everywhere is Mel Herman, the mysterious and brilliant bully whose dark secrets may hold the key to their survival. As the summer burns away, these forces collide, and it will take compassion, brains, and guts for the boys to overcome their demons—and not become monsters themselves.

In this chilling and poignant debut novel, Daniel Kraus deftly explores the choices boys grapple with and the revelations that occur as they become men.


The Monster Variations opens with a college-bound boy named James, finally escaping the grip of his over-bearing parents and stifling small town. He's packed and ready to go, leaving a day early to avoid a trek towards his college town with either his mother or father, when he stops at a gas station. There, he happens upon an old childhood friend, Reggie.

After some uncomfortable small talk, Reggie says to James a seemingly unspoken question that sets the story in motion:

"You remember the truck?"

The reader is then taken back six years, the fateful summer of twelve year old Willie Van Allen and his missing arm.

While walking home one day, Willie suddenly finds himself crunched beneath a speading truck, his shoulder here and his arm there. The act of a madman, no doubt, a deadly act that repeats itself weeks later to another boy Willie's, leading the grown-ups of the small town to assume the work of a serial killer. A curfew is put forth--all kids must be indoors by eight o'clock.

Willie, undaunted by his missing arm, can only mourn, along with his friends Reggie and James, the death of summer. With the looming threat of the old silver truck running down kids and the dark cloud of crumbling families, the boys must scramble towards adulthood--a journey that Daniel Kraus turns into something to be feared.

Kraus' debut novel is, in my opinion, very loosly labeled under "young adult". However, only a strange variation of teenagers with a love of Stephan King could conceivably enjoy The Monster Variations--not to say this is a bad thing.

Like a King novel with the supernatural terror taken away, The Monster Variations is a heartwrentching, often frightening, coming-of-age tale that too well depicts the seperation of grade school "blood brothers" over a single summer, something I'm sure most people can relate to. The plot has a surreal edge that leaves you questioning the narrator's reliability. Often the events in the book are shrouded by a twelve-year-olds naivity, turning things that most adults would find unthreatening into something terrifying. The prose is flawless in it's purpose, to display growing up in desperate circumstances by multiple third person narrators. Kraus has the rare talent of making something that could be viewed as a corny version of King's The Body (otherwise known for it's film adaption, Stand By Me) into a heartbreakingly honest protrayel of the accidental maturation of four boys who just don't want to grow up.

The "monster" in the Monster Variations is purely figurative--for what, you'd have to ask the author. It could be seen as how real everything seems when your younger, and when everything you believed for so long is proven false, it's like your childhood has melted away. Maybe it's some kind of metaphor for the dark side of small town life. Maybe it's just a plot device set in place to bring on the realization that childhood friends can't stay childhood friends forever. I don't know, and I won't attempt to understand Kraus' reasoning. All I have are my theories, and it takes a pretty good author to leave you satisfied with your confusion.

The characters themselves can at first be described with one to two word adjectives--over-achiever James, meek-but-eager Willie, and Tough Guy Reggie. All with their own demons that they believe none of the others will understand. Not much in Variations is completley surprising, but the way Kraus excecutes the actions of his characters leaves you breathless, heartbroken and strangely understanding. What really stands out is Willie, who is unable to accept his friends' rapidley approaching maturity. In fact, he can't seem to grasp the fact that everyone has to grow up, including him. It's like his missing arm has taken a key part of himself with it. A particularly painful scene involves Willie out on a simple task, one that he pitifully botches.

Overall, The Monster Variations is a heartwrenching novel in the vein of Stephan King small town-terror, one that will keep you riveted till the very last page.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Also: You might want to check out Stand By Me, a film based off of the Stephen King novella The Body, one that I thought of all throughout the Variations.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

In My Mailbox (6)

Evenin', gov'na's! Hope you all had a great week. Once again, this meme is hosted by Kristi, aka The Story Siren. It's been a pretty good week for me, so I'm super excited about this post!

First of all, thanks to the lovely Michelle Moran for sending me some bookmarks and a signed Cleopatra's Daughter card.




ARCs:

I got two upcoming releases from Angry Robot Books as an official ensign of the Robot Army:



Sir Rupert Triumff. Adventurer. Fighter. Drinker.

Saviour?

Pratchett goes swashbuckling in the hotly anticipated original fiction debut of the multi-million selling Warhammer star.

Triumff is a ribald historical fantasy set in a warped clockwork-powered version of our present day … a new Elizabethan age, not of Elizabeth II but in the style of the original Virgin Queen. Throughout its rollicking pages, Sir Rupert Triumff drinks, dines and duels his way into a new Brass Age of Exploration and Adventure.




The angel of death in Chicago oversees all people in the megalopolis, making sure their deaths fit their lives. Though most deaths naturally do, those that result from serial murder do not, so the angel spends much time trailing a serial killer in his patch.

On the trail of one such man, he encounters a cop and falls in love with her. When he is assigned to kill her, though, he has to make a choice between divinity and humanity.




The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s vengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome, but only two—the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander—survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts.




Born in 1805 on the Lewis and Clark expedition, Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau was the son of the expedition's translators, Sacagawea and Toussaint Charbonneau. Across the Endless River compellingly portrays this mixed-blood child's mysterious boyhood along the Missouri among the Mandan tribe and his youth as William Clark's ward in St. Louis. The novel becomes a haunting exploration of identity and passion as eighteen-year-old Baptiste is invited to cross the Atlantic in 1823 with young Duke Paul of W├╝rttemberg.

During their travels throughout Europe, Paul introduces Baptiste to a world he never imagined. Gradually, Baptiste senses the limitations of life as an outsider. His passionate affair with Paul's older cousin helps him understand the richness of his heritage and the need to fashion his own future. But it is Maura, the beautiful and independent daughter of a French-Irish wine merchant Baptiste meets in Paris, who most influences his ultimate decision to return to the frontier.

Rich in the details of life in both frontier America and the European court, Across the Endless River is a captivating novel about a man at the intersection of cultures, languages, and customs.


Amazon:



TWO GIRLS, THOUSANDS OF MILES APART...

Chelsea lives in Los Angeles; Miya lives in Tokyo. Other than the fact they're both half Japanese and obsessed with dressing like Gothic Lolitas, they would seem to have nothing in common. Or do they?

THE BLOG THAT WENT AWAY.

They got to know each other through their blogs. But three years ago something happened to Chelsea, an event so terrible that she stopped writing altogether. Miya's been checking Chelsea's blog ever since, to see if she's come back, but she never has. Until today.

A LIFE AND DEATH CONNECTION.

Today is the day Chelsea finally goes back online and tells Miya everything. And today is the day that Miya's life could change forever because of it.

Like a Japanese manga come to life, Gothic Lolita is a mythic fairy tale about love, death, and rebirth...and the courage it takes to reach out to another soul.


And that's it for this week, folks. Make sure you check out the Story Siren's post and leave your link on Mister Linky.

Have an awesome Sunday,

Danielle

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Book Review: Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci

Title: Boy Proof

Author: Cecil Castellucci

Pages: 203

Summary:

What happens when an antisocial cinephile meets up with the worldly new guy at school — a quick-witted artist who's savvy enough to see through her sci-fi disguise?

Meet Egg. Her real name is Victoria Jurgen, but she's renamed herself after the kick-ass heroine of her favorite sci-fi movie, Terminal Earth. Like her namesake, Egg dresses all in white, colors her eyebrows, and shaves her head. She always knows the right answers, she's always in control, and she's far too busy — taking photos for the school paper, meeting with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Club, and hanging out at the creature shop with her dad, the special-effects makeup wizard — to be bothered with friends, much less members of the opposite sex. As far as Egg is concerned, she's boy proof, and she likes it that way. But then Egg meets a boy named Max, a boy who's smart and funny and creative and cool...and happens to like Egg. Could this be the end of the world — at least as Egg knows it?


Victoria Jergens, AKA Egg, is not an individual. In fact, she's the exact opposite; her entire look, her entire lifestyle, is centered around a character from her favorite film, Terminal Earth. She is intellegent, but anti-social. The closest she gets to an actual social life is as the photographer for her school paper, the Melrose Lion, and actively participating in online movie forums. She has no real friends, and she's proud of it. She doesn't want friends. Her only goal is to graduate as valedictorian and get away from her washed-out eighties icon mother. But then Max, son of a genius documenterist, invades her bubble with his deep, provoking thoughts and outgoing personality, her world is suddenly out of her control, and she realizes what having a real identity actually is.

This is one of those books that leaves you with a nice, fuzzy feeling in your chest. Egg is a character all her own, different in a way that is different from the usual different (if that makes sense). Most of all, she is "boy proof". At first, she's not entirely likeable; cocky, bitter, bleak and a strong superiority over those around her, yet an underlying self-consiouness that adds just enough empathy to kept me from putting the book down. But Castellucci does a fantastic job at slowly progressing Eggs character in a very subtle way. She didn't just wake up and decide to change. There was, like any plot, a slow yet torturous decline in her life, much of which was spent with Egg regretting everything she ever did or said. Then, just when you think it can't get any worse, her life is back on track and she herself has a brand new aspect on life. This could be considered a rather corny deux ex machina, but I just thought it was how a novel such as this should end: clean, fluffy and so, so sweet.

I love how different all the characters are. While it is rather cliche at times (boy moves in, astounds all with his provoking comments and changes socially constipated girl's life), you generally cheer for everyone. Plus, Max is kind of setting the standard for every boy I date for the rest of my life :)

It's also a bit heartbreaking when Egg realizes how not alone she was only when she really, truly is alone. Don't really want to give much away, but I think if there's anything to take away from this book, it's that if you take things for granted, they will bite back at you. Hard.

Boy Proof is a very quick read. I finished it in something like three hours. This isn't to say it was rushed, but I did feel as though there was a lot of character development and such that the author missed out on. Like Egg/Victoria's relationship with Max. One second, she hates him. Then she likes him. Then she lurves him. Then she hates him. Then she misses him. Then she lurves him again. I was kind of blanking at times, skimming through passages trying to figure out when all this happened.

Flaws aside, I have no doubt that fans of all genres--sci-fi, chicklit, YA, romance--will enjoy Boy Proof. It's fun, quick, and gives you a nice little feeling towards the end. And, really, isn't that what we all look for in our books?

Rating: 8 out of 10

Also: Check out Cecil Castellucci's other novels, such as The Queen of Cool and Beige (not nearly as good as Boy Proof, but still pretty good.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

What Makes MY Wallet Hurt--the Victor Gischler Edition

Every generation, an artist of underrated familiarity comes to my attention in a way that causes myself to stop what I'm doing and drool. A lot. Today, this artist is:

Victor Gischler

The only word I could use to describe his books are...well, they're just awesome. Here are a few select titles:







Can I get a hell yeah?

Thought so.

Peace out, my little monkeys.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Book Review: Sleepless by Thomas Fahy

Title: Sleepless

Author: Thomas Fahy

Pages: 209

Summary:

Emma Montgomery has been having trouble sleeping. Whenever she closes her eyes, all she can see are horrible nightmares ... nightmares of gruesome murder. And she's not alone. All of the students in Dr. Beecher's secret society have been having terrible dreams and sleepwalking. Now, as their classmates start turning up dead, Emma and her friends race against the clock to keep themselves awake and find out what is causing them to kill in their sleep--before the next victim dies.

Emma is having nightmares.

Horribley realistic ones, graphically depicting herself killing her classmates in the dead of the night. Since a class trip to New Orleans to help clean up after Katrina, and the mysterious events that occured there, Emma has been plagued by these dreams, along with several other students. But soon, these students start turning up dead all over town, and Emma and her friends must figure out what's causing these nightmares before it's too late.

At first glance, Sleepless seems like a short read. Thin, with probably the coolest cover in publishing history? I'd say a good couple of hours at most, right? Wrong.

Sleepless started out decent enough, with a dream of Emma digging a hole in the backyard, searching for something. Then it fades back into reality, with her father and a phsychiatrist discussing Emma's mental health. But Emma can't focus on them. All she can think about is how someone else will die soon, someone else will die and it will be her fault. And, in her words:

"A few days after the first time you walk in your sleep, you kill someone.

And that's when the end begins."

Pretty cool, right? Should be a quick creepfest, in theory. But theory and reality often prove quite seperate with these sort of things.

The next section begins on Wednesday, six days earlier, with the third person narrative of Jake Hardale, amateur drug dealer and part-time mechanic who goes to Emma's school. He, too, is haunted with these terrifying nightmares. But it's nothing a little pot can't fix. Along with pot-dealing. And hanging with his teacher's after school group. And fixing shit. And that's about it.

The summary proves to be pretty deceptive, as most of the narrative is usually in Jake's point of view. And Jake is pretty much a stereotypical high school stoner-with-a-heart-of-gold, as far as I can tell. Oh, and he has a crush on Emma. Which eventually turns into "love"--how, I have no idea, seeing as the character's develop about as much as that old pet rock sitting in your attic. I seriously do not understand Emma and Jake's little romance at all. Niether of them have very much personality, though this could just be reflecting my hatred of Third Person point of view. They just seem to spend a lot of time thinking about their nightmares and, in the case of Jake, is one night stand in New Orleans with the popular Caitlyn. He actually spends more time thinking about Caitlyn then Emma.

As for the plot, it's pretty thinly laid out. I had a hard time getting through it because it takes more then half of the short novel to actually get to some kind of point. It just seemed very wishy-washy as it progressed. One second, it's this, the next it's that, the next they're there, the next they're there. I really had no idea what was happening until the very end. This may or may not be a good thing, but to me, it was just confusing.

As for the "horror" label--I don't really get it. Maybe more of a bland thriller, but it kind of fails at scary. Not to say that it wasn't entertaining--because it was, in it's own way--but I wasn't exactly rocking in a corner clutching my comfort blanket. The characters, I think, kind of get in the way of the horror aspect. I don't get them. I don't feel for them, don't care about them. I don't sit there and cry everytime they wake up from a horrendous nightmare. They're as thin as the paper they're printed on. This tends to be a pretty easy fate for a book written in the third person perspective, but it's still a big turn-off for me.

I'm not going to say it's terrible, because it's not; the description is lovely, and the ending is definetly unexpected. But it is a pretty big labor to get through, even at only 200 pages. I wouldn't suggest you spend all your money on it, but I wouldn't tell you to blacklist it forever, either. Genre readers will probably get it no matter what I say, but anyone who's not easily excited should probably stay away.

Rating: 5 out of 10--nothing special

Also: The New Moon movie is promising to look signifigantly better then Twilight. I'd say K-Stew has been getting a few acting lessons. And Dakota Fanning as Jane? Badass:

Saturday, September 12, 2009

In My Mailbox (5)

First and foremost, I'd like to give a shoutout to JORDAN from the INSIDE THE MIND blog for sending me some awesome GIVE UP THE GHOST book marks :) She has a killer blog, so make sure you guys check it out. I also got LEGACY by Capla Kluver. Thanks to Eleni of LA FEMME READER for the ARC!



ARCs:



Amazon:



Bought:



I'd also like to announce that DEXTER WEEK will be moved back about a week. As I've explained in my last post, school right now is pretty much dominating my life. I haven't even started the second Dexter book, and there's no way I'll be able to write it all up in time. So, really sorry. I'll keep you guys posted :)

Have an awesome Sunday

d(^^)d

Friday, September 11, 2009

Author Interview with Kaaron Warren

I had read and loved Slights, Kaaron Warren's debut novel. I was lucky enough to snag an interview with this talented author. So without further ado, KAARON WARREN!


First of all, thank you for taking the time to talk to me about your debut novel, Slights.

Thanks for inviting me!

Could you give us a short summary of Slights?

Slights is about a woman who, at 18, accidentally kills her mother in a car accident. Stephanie (Steve) experiences near death as a result of her injuries, but she sees no shining light, hears no loving voices. Instead, she finds herself in a cold dark room, surrounded by people she barely knows. The only thing she recognises in them is anger; she sees that they are anxious for her to die so they can devour her.

She visits this room a number of times throughout the novel as she attempts suicide periodically. She is unpopular, disliked, unable to fit in to society. She gradually recognises the people in the room; each and every one is a person she slighted in some way.

Steve becomes obsessed with death. Her brother, a successful politician, has no time for her, and her police officer father died years earlier, a hero. She is obsessed with her own death because in the afterlife, at least, she is the centre of attention. And she becomes obsessed with the deaths of others.

She digs up her backyard with the intention of planting night-blooming jasmine, a comfort flower. Instead, she finds odd things; a cracked glass cufflink, an old belt, a dented lunchbox, a shoe heel, many more odd, small items. These lead her to understand more about her past, and about why she is driven to do the things she does.

You use, as one reviewer stated, a very minimilistic writing style. Is this something you intended?

This is my normal style. I like to pare down the words, make the story speak for itself. One of my favourite writing exercises is the micro story, where you have to tell a story in 50 words or less. I love finding one word to replace ten, and figuring out what needs to be told. This is one:

The night before my twenty-first birthday

At five, I mastered the language of the Heavens.
At fourteen, I was taken as a barren bride; only the chosen have children.
My husband had blood of ice.
Today I learnt that all lives must end at twenty-one.
Hold me my young lover.
I hear alien soldiers at the door.

Slights deals a lot with Steve's relationship with her family. Was this intentional, or did it just come out that way?

It’s a mixture of both things. I knew her parents would be important. The killing of her mother drives her guilt and the story throughout, and her father’s actions are passed on to her, so that drives the story as well.
Her brother became very important as I started to tell the story, and his wife and her family. I guess as Stevie became more of an isolated human, I wanted to build a strong family around her. One of the things which interests me is how families appear on the outside compared to how they really are. You know sometimes you hear of a marriage breaking up and you can’t imagine such a happy couple divorcing. But things happen within a family that people on the outside can’t see.

Slights is, at times, a very frightening book. Do you have any primary influences when it comes to the horror aspect of your writing? What are your major influences in general?

One of my early influences/inspirations was Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I read them at five! I was terrified by Bluebeard in particular, but all of the stories have an element of horror to them. Even the dogs sitting on the tinder box give me chills.
I also read The Arabian Nights, which inspired me with the sorts of stories told and they way they were told. I still love that story-within-a-story-within-a-story style.
S.E. Hinton inspired me because she was a teenaged girl who published a novel. Harlan Ellison because he wrote such bizarre, evocative stuff. Ray Bradbury, because of his wonderful way with dialogue and the social commentary he made in some of his work. Lisa Tuttle, because her stories are so well-layered and intriguing. Stephen King, because he normalizes horrific situations.
I recently re-read a book called “The Down-Bound Train” by Bill Garnett. I read this when I was pretty young, and it really is a character study of five people on a train. I think this influenced me to make my characters many layered and to always have a good back story.

Stevie, if you don't mind me saying, is not a very likable character. Were there any difficulties in writing a protagonist like that?

Once I knew she wasn’t likeable, and allowed myself to write a character who did and said anything she wanted, I found it enjoyable. It’s always tough to remove yourself completely from the character you’re writing, but very important, I think. You can write journal entries if you want to write about yourself; if you’re creating a new character, make it about them, not you.
I’ve had people say that they find Stevie fascinating but they wouldn’t want to have dinner with her!

Do you think you’re similar to Stevie?

No. I’ve been lucky, always loved and been loved in return by the important people in my life. I feel very grateful for that. Though like all people I’ve felt rejection, grief, loneliness and self-doubt. In those ways I am like her.
I tried to show in the novel that there were times when Stevie could have loved and been loved, but she didn’t take those chances. And she isn’t grateful for the things she does have. I think accepting the good things in your life is one of the secrets to happiness.
There are small events in the book which I saw in my life. One example is the lolly shop incident, where Steve annoys the shopkeeper by ordering her lollies one by one. I was always a great observer of people, even as a young child, and I can still remember one of my school mates and neighbours, in our local lolly shop, ordering traffic light lollies like this; I’ll have one red traffic light. And one green traffic light. And one yellow traffic light. And another yellow traffic light. He did this solely to annoy the shopkeeper and it worked beautifully. I remember watching him do this and thinking, “But what’s the point?” It was very funny, though.

When you sat down to write Slights, did you intend for it to be a horror novel?
Yes. I started with the idea of the Hell that Steve suffers, so I knew it would not be a happy story. I also knew that if I was going to tell her story properly, I couldn’t balk. I had to just go for it. The imagery in the dark room had to be hellish and horrifying for it to work.

Where did you get the idea for the "dark room"?
At lot of my horrific imagery comes not from dreams but from the hypnagogic stage. Those moments before sleep when the images of the day download and your conscious thought drifts away. The dark room was imagined in that state.

When you decided to become a writer, did you set out to write horror?
Not deliberately, but I’ve always been attracted to the underbelly of life in my stories. They always had a criminal element to them, or a supernatural one, or both.

When reading horror, do you look for the same technique in other's work as you do in your own?
Yes, I do. In whatever I read, I like characters with depth and believability. I like a surprising plot. I like originality. I do like crime novels but I hate reading the ones which go over the same old ground. I hate knowing what’s going to happen and going through the motions of reading just to get to the end.
I just read a bizarre book “The Captives” by Michael Fisher. I found it at our local second-hand clothes shop. This book is about a doctor who imprisons a man and a woman for his experiments, but it’s so much more than that. I had no idea where it would go throughout the novel, and I love that. In no way did the book merely play itself out. It’s dated in many ways (written in 1970) but an excellent read!

Where do you do your writing?
I don’t have a real designated place. I write my first drafts by hand, with my favourite pen (just found two packs in America, so I’m very pleased. Pilot Precise V7).

Did you have any problems finding a publisher? How did you end up with Angry Robot?
I tried a couple of publishers for the first two novels, but Angry Robot was the first I tried for Walking the Tree.

It seemed like a long road to get to Angry Robot Books.

A few years ago, Lothian Books announced they would bring out a horror line. You can imagine the excitement that caused amongst Australian horror writers. I was asked by the publisher if I had anything ready, but I’d just decided my horror novel needed more work. It wasn’t quite ready; I knew I needed 6 months to perfect it, so planned to submit for second year. One of the things you’re always told is that you only have once chance with each book, with each editor. If you send a book that isn’t ready, you’ve missed your chance with that editor. So I waited.

They announce their first list then they were taken over and the Horror imprint was shut down.

Then Overland, a literary publisher of short stories, announced they would publish one novel a year. They have liked my short stories in the past but are very literary. Still, I thought, it’s worth a shot.
Overland asked for full novel, then decided it was too long and too intense for them. I offered to edit the novel, cut it down, but they said, “No, it’s perfect. Someone will take it.”

A month or so later, a writer friend emailed me to tell me he had recommended me to Angry Robot, a new branch of Harper Collins and I got very excited. They were looking for genre-busting science fiction, horror and fantasy and that’s exactly what I’ve got!

I sent a sample of Slights. They said, “Send more.”
I sent a sample of Walking the Tree. They said, “Send more.”
I sent a sample of Mistification. They said, “Don’t bother sending more. We’ll take all three.”
At which point I had to go and get my husband to read the email to assure me I wasn’t dreaming!


When you write, do you plot things out, or do you just "go with the flow"?
It really depends on what I’m writing. Quite often I will do a lot of research and thinking about a short story, then go with the flow. With my novels, I tend to write in a rather splattergun way, so that the first draft is intelligible only to me.
With Slights, the framework was built around visits to the room.
With Walking the Tree, the framework is built around the journey.


Are you working on any new novels?
Finishing Walking the Tree, finalishing Mistification, starting two new novels. Which one will be written first depends on which one inspires me more!

If writing didn't work out, what are some other professions you had in mind?
I wanted to be a pilot but my eyesight isn’t very good. I wanted to be a murder detective and still love the idea. Journalism attracted me for a while but I don’t like to stick to the facts.

If Slights were to become a movie, who would you cast as Stevie?
Claudia Karvan, a brilliant Australian actress.

Your trying to sell your book to someone over twitter. What would you say? (140 characters or less!)
What sort of hell awaits you? If you’re like Stevie, there’ll be a room full of people ready to take a slice of you. If you’re like her, you killed your mother. Others, too.

What's the last book you've read? Last movie you've seen?

Book: Martin Livings’ ‘Carnies’.
Movie: Sunshine Cleaning


On an unrelated note...you’re trapped on a desert island. You can have ONE book, ONE television show, and ONE movie. What are they?

Movie: A Zed and Two Noughts
Book: Life, A User’s Manual
TV Show: Man Vs Wild

And, finally, what do you think are some of the best and worst parts about being an author?

Best: Using my brain all the time. Being allowed to do what I love. Getting good reviews. Selling stories to editors I have great respect for. Hanging out with other writers.

Worst. Self-doubt. Getting bad reviews. Having to self-motivate. Knowing that it is on me, and only on me, to get the job done


Thanks so much for the insightful questions.

--

Thanks to Ms. Warren for the interview!

Have a great Friday, everybody.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Book Review: Slights

Welp, I'm back! Sorry for the itty bitty hiatus, guys. School just started and things have been kind of crazy. I'm not sure if I can post as often as I did during the summer, but I will try to post something at least twice a week until the weekends or breaks.

So, here's my review for SLIGHTS by Kaaron Warren:


Title: Slights

Author: Kaaron Warren

Pages: 502

Summary (from AngryRobotBooks.com):

Stephanie is a killer. After an accident in which her mother dies, she has a near-death experience and finds herself in a room full of people – everyone she’s ever pissed off. They clutch at her, scratch and tear at her. But she finds herself drawn back to this place, again and again, determined to unlock its secrets. Which means she has to die, again and again.

And she starts to wonder whether other people see the same room… when they die.

After a lunch with her mother, celebrating her small lottery win (enough to pay for, well, the lunch), Stephanie, or Stevie, drives home. After imagining a child on the road, she swerves into a wall, killing her mother. Despite being told her mother died painlessly, Stevie still remembers her screams.

She wakes up in a cold, dark room, surrounded by twisted, unblinking eyes and the smell of death. Everyone she's ever slighted stares at her.

But she lives. And she remembers the room.

As she attempts to continue the normalcy of her life, the room becomes her fascination, her obsession. The smell of mothballs and shit, the scars littering her body, the wavering edge of death. And she tries to go back.

This is a creepy book.

That's it, plain and simple; it's creepy. Frightening. Disturbing. It is indescribably horrific, something you can't tear your eyes from no matter how much your brain tells you too. It is what every horror movie should be.

The fashion in which it's written is minimilistic; no excessive word play or over-description (I'm lookin' at you, Stephan King). Flawless in it's simplicity, Slights fills the reader with a sense of dread that builds up and swallows you whole before you even realize it's there. I'm not even sure how to write this review, because it left me absolutely speechless.

It's slow goings at first, an introduction of sorts of the coldness to come, I suppose. It's one of those books you cannot bring yourself to rush through, one where every word carries signifigance. Bouncing from past to present, fiction to reality, the lines so blurred your left confused and a tad heartbroken.

There is no such thing as secondary characters in Slights; everyone is simply a tool, a vehicle for Stevie's own self-destruction. Everyone is discribed in their worst light, through Stevie's scattered first person narrative. The only person Steve really shows affection for, throughout the entire novel, is her father. but, as you get farther in, you discover how unreliable a narrataor she really is.

Stevie is not a character that begs for sympathy or even empathy: her voice is a constant spew of venom, full of loathing and indifference for her fellow human beings. I could say there's a plot, but it would barely be the truth. I think it's more of an examination of a really messed up character and how they advance over time.

In a strange, twisted sort of way, I loved Slights. I've read a lot of horror novels in my day, and it is the only one to really scare me since Stephan King's Pet Semmetary. Stevie is not a likeable character by any means, yet I found myself genuinelly concerned with her future. It's kind of like the Saw movies--you know it's wrong, but you can.not look away. Kaaron Warren is able to turn a terrible unlikeable character and make her break your heart without even trying.

Ms. Warren doesn't rely on gore, on the shock factor, to make her book scary. She takes something we're all afraid of and makes us watch the reprocussions, and that is the real horror that lurks beneath the average.

So, at the risk of sounding more corny then I alreay have, I'll leave you to your thoughts. But, hopefully, these thoughts include Slights, because it is definetly something to check out.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Also: Check out Angry Robots other releases at their website, AngryRobotBooks.com



...and look out tomorrow for an interview with the author herself, Kaaron Warren!

Peace OUT,

Danielle

Monday, September 7, 2009

Reason Number 503 Why I Want to Marry Neil Gaimen



*drools*

And this is exactly why Gaimen is The Man.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

In My Mailbox (4)

Nothing terribley eventful this week mail-wise, but I did get some cool shit from the store.

ARCs:

Hannibal's Elephant Girl by Ariion Kathleen Brindley



Dancing With Ana by Nicole Barker



Amazon:

Love Story by Erich Segal



Store:

Blood Promise by Richelle Mead



Intertwined by Gena Showalter



I also recieved RICK AND BUBBA'S GUIDE TO THE ALMOST NEARLY PERFECT MARRIAGE by Rick Burgess and Bill "Bubba" Bussey from a contest:



I would have gotten Catching Fire, but I'm submitted in so many contest for it I want to hold off until I know I lost.

ALSO, I got another earring, cementing my status as a professional Pin Cushion.



Have a great Sunday :)

---Danielle

Saturday, September 5, 2009

WHAT MAKES MY WALLET HURTS

What Makes My Wallet Hurt is a meme started by myself detailing all the books on my wishlist that my wallet is greatly opposed to.

Since I have a week to read two (very boring) books for school, I really haven't read anything as of late worth reviewing. So, I'll just leave you with a list to crave:















Welp, that's what makes MY wallet scream in agony. How 'bout yours?

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