Thursday, March 31, 2011

Trailer Thursday (2)

Before I post a trailer, I'd like to begin with a little quote about the Death of the Bookstore, which I've written about in this blog before. This quote comes directly from Shelf Awareness. I didn't write this quote, but I sure am pondering it.

"Jeff Pearlman offered a writer's perspective at CNN on the closing of the Borders store in Scarsdale, N.Y., where his third book, Boys Will Be Boys, was written.

In the not-so-distant old days, [Pearlman says] "Borders was cozy; safe; easy....Now, the shop is next up on death row.... At the risk of sounding like my great aunt, I love books. I love holding books. I love thumbing through books. I love marking up pages, I love perusing bookshelves, I love feeling the paper between my fingers.... Come day's end, I'm tired of staring at a screen. I do it all day, I do it through much of the night. I want a book. But do books want me?"

There's a quote out there, I believe attributed to Neil Gaiman that goes "Any town that calls itself a town that doesn't boast a bookstore is just kidding itself." I've said before that I live in a very very small town, the kind where everybody knows everybody, and, woefully, lacks a bookstore or indeed any kind of entertainment besides one lonely movie theater (with one screen) and a scattering of casinos. Point is, no bookstore. And even if there was one, (I believe there was somewhere back in the long ago and far away) I suspect it wouldn't have a terribly long life expectancy. Bookstores are slowly dying across the country, and I never thought I'd live to see the day this would happen. But it isn't just the digital revolution. Maybe it is just the town I live in but there is an outright hostility towards books, reading, and literacy. At the risk, also of sounding like someone's old Aunt Biddy, what's happening to books? Digital revolution plus hostility to literacy equals the death of imagination. It's the hostility part that bothers me the most. I just wish I knew how to combat it. 

That being said, here's this week's trailer, an interview with Jeaniene Frost about her Night Huntress series, which I'm beginning to delve into.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (3)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme sponsored by Breaking the Spine in which bloggers, authors and other bookish folk talk about books they are highly anticipating. Mine for this week is:

This is a collection of four stories by four authors Ilona Andrews, Yasmine Galenorn, Allyson James, and Jeanne C. Stein. 
Title: Hexed
Release Date: June 7th, 2011
Published By: Berkley
These four authors have collaborated to bring to the readers an anthology of murder, mystery and magic urban fantasy style, so it seems like a must have for any collection of urban fantasy and horror. 

Ilona Andrews writes "Magic Dreams", where old legends and nightmares come to life. A shapeshifting tigress, Dali Harimau, finds herself in the middle of a battle with a dark being in a battle of wits, with the man she loves at stake.

Yasmine Galenorn writes "Ice Shards", in which Isis Kuusi, a house sprite who lives with sisters, journeys to the frozen northlands to confront the crazed shadow of her former lover she's accused of killing, so she can break the curse keeping her from marrying the man she loves. 

Allyson James writes "Double Hexed", in which the heroine, Janet, calls a plumber, Fremont, to fix a leaky faucet in the guest room when all hell breaks loose. Blood sprays from the faucet, and a disturbing message appears on the mirror written in blood. Janet and her friends find themselves locked in her hotel, victims of a hex cast by an evil and powerful sorcerer. As Janet and her friends work to break the hex, they may realize the enemy may be coming from within themselves. 

"Blood Debt" is written by Jeanne C. Stein where bounty hunter turned vampire Anna is visited by three witches who as her to right an old magical wrong. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (1)

Here's my teaser for today, and here's the link for this weekly host at Should Be Reading which posts the rules. 

This week's teaser: "But the other half of my motivations came from farther back in my brain, in the curious part that I inherited. It came from the spot in my skull that feels the burning need to unravel puzzles, finish crosswords, indulge in Internet games, and read all the mystery books I can get my grubby little paws on." -pg. 27, Bloodshot by Cherie Priest.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Morning Pages (2)

For a blog that mostly deals with reading and reviewing, I wanted to dedicate one day (at least)to some of the process that goes into the art and craft of writing. Here are some tidbits for getting started in writing. These are some of the basics.

1) Like with daily body exercise, the more you exercise, the better and stronger you'll be in your writing. A writer writes. 
2)Carry a notebook wherever you go. If you ever get stuck for ideas, and need some inspiration, carrying a notebook with you at all times will give you a place to keep all your thoughts, interesting ideas or articles, and your observations.
3) Set aside a time every day for your writing. As in #1), a writer writes. Try working in small time increments. Try 10-15 minutes a day, and add time as you get into the habit of writing everyday. 
4) Don't self edit, or self criticize as you write. That is the one of the main problems that keeps younger writers from writing. Eventually you'll probably be writing towards a market, but write for you and not anyone else. 

Here's a list of some of my favorite sites that can help you get started:
Language is a Virus: Cures for Writer's Block
Holly Lisle has a website, blog and downloadable (free) e-book about the business and craft of writing that is worth checking out.
Visit your favorite author(s) website. Some of them will post stories about how they get their inspiration, and the creative process of writing.
Read everything you can get your hands on. One of the best ways to be a good writer is to be a great reader. Read everything you can, especially if you are writing towards a particular genre. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Reads (2)

I love the thrill of beginning a new book! Friday Reads is a weekly meme supported by readers and other bookish folk from all over the world where everyone posts what they are reading this week. Today I'm tackling the second book on my 2011 Urban Fantasy list, Bloodshot by Cherie Priest.

Fantasy Friday (1)

This book is labeled under "urban fantasy" but I think it should be more of a paranormal romance than anything else. I began reading this book as a part of 2011 Urban Fantasy challenge, but to me this book really made promises it didn't quite deliver, both structurally and creatively.
Structurally, this honestly seems like the first draft of a novel, and as I was reading I couldn't believe that whoever approved this for publication overlooked the structural problems of the plot. On one hand, I do think its brave for an author to just plunge the reader into a new fantasy world with no explanation of how the rules of the fantasy world work, but on the other hand a little more explanation and a little more world building would have helped. I'm a seasoned veteran at urban fantasy worlds, but what if this had been my first UF novel? I would have been even more lost. Also, the writing left me confused with its abruptness. Several times during the novel, I found myself having to re-read passages because a character slipped into the room so fast, or spoke a line of dialogue that seemed so far out of what was happening, or just completely random, that it just threw me off. Just a small example: when Abby is held captive by he evil Maurice. I wanted to know more about that special paint/paintbrush, and how exactly did he "drown" her in the bathtub. The passage is described that he just flips her into the tub to drown. But he's an old dude, did he carry here there? Details like that irk me. The whole Brystion betrayal of Abby and oops-guess-what-I-was-in-it-all-along-'cause-I'm-an-incubus flew by so fast because the whole first part of the novel deals with the author building a relationship between the two characters and establishing trust and "no regrets". Flew right by and Abby had almost no time, which means the reader had barely any time, to process that whole mess.
Creatively, these characters have SO much potential that wasn't used. Melanie, who can make Doors, has her soul trapped in a violin. Of course she plays the violin through the whole story, and you don't find out her soul is trapped in there till towards the end, so you haven't been built up to care about it. A girl named Charlie who can talk to ghosts. You don't find that out till the last 1/4 of the book either. Same thing: it just get thrown at you like an added detail, so you don't really care. Moira doesn't make an appearance til the last few pages, and she's what the whole book is about: finding her. So when she is foudn a recovered I find that I could care less baout her pregnancy. Brandon the werewolf and his teen-dream squeeeze could have been interesting if we got to see them more. And what about this world of Portsmyth? I wanted to know more about it too.Is just this one little corner of the world enchanted, and if so, how? Why? And how did her ipod get enchanted, exactly? (There's a kinda-sorta explanation, but I wanted to know more.) I knew about Robert the Rhymer and True Thomas beforehand, and its excellent that the writer tries to use that as some of the basis of the world, but all you really get are a few scattered quotes. At first the author wants you to figure out what the riddle of the poetry means, then just blurts it in the middle of the Judgement Hall. To me, it felt like the author didn't trust the reader to figure it out. And stopping a fight between an angel and an incubus was supposed to be this huge demonstration of humanity. Left me cold.  
And I couldn't fall in love with Abby either. I always want to cheer my heroine on, and I couldn't. Even her name was ordinary to me. Someone on another review site described her as snarky, but to me, snarky means sarcasm with a touch of humor. Abby is just plain sarcastic, sometimes just downright mean. Sarcasm is often used by writers to show the character's sense of intelligence and their powers of observation. Abby just ends up seeming like kind of a bitch. Yeah, sometimes you need to be a bitch to fight demons and other nasty stuff, but the heroine should have some redeeming qualities. She should make you want her to defeat the bad guys and save the day. A little sarcasm is great, but not for a whole entire novel. 
I was actually glad that Brystion and Abby didn't end up together, I like that the fact that not all romances have happy endings. But this time, I wasn't liking the fact this romance didn't work out because that's the way the world is sometimes, and I appreciate the realism. I liked the fact it didn't work out because I didn't really care if Abby was happy or not. 
The only character I could really love was the horny miniature unicorn, Phineas, who brought me laughter and made me wish I had my own miniature unicorn living in my underwear drawer. But all in all, this novel disappointed and even irritated me at times, and I doubt I'll be reading any of the rest of the series.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Shine by Lauren Myracle

Shine is the latest book by Lauren Myracle. It’s the story about 16 year old Cat living in the small poverty stricken town of Black Creek, and before the first chapter even begins, you are plunged into a murder mystery involving a young man named Patrick, a 3rd shift gas store clerk who ends up tied to a gas pump with a gas nozzle down his throat, with the words “Suck this, faggot” scrawled on his chest. Whoa, brutal, I thought. And I read on. With an opening like that, how could I not?
Cat and Patrick used to be best friends until Cat started closing herself off from all her old friends and kept only to herself and her books.
Sounds like someone I know, I thought.
This books tackles so many issues: poverty, class, gender and sexual stereotypes. Cat is surrounded by sadness: her father has given up on life, her mother is gone, her Aunt Tildy, who takes care of her, is a little checked out, and her brother Christian has let her down.
Cat, like her idol Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird, is determined to find out what happened to Patrick, even though the two haven’t been close for almost two years. (And with all the negative role models girls have pushed into their faces every second of the day, what better role model could a 16 year old have? Yes! Thank you, Lauren Myracle!) Cat often puts herself in danger to find out what happened to Patrick, including a visit to the local meth dealer—she has more guts than I do, I would have sooner pulled out my left molar than step a toe into that skeevy trailer and its pervert occupant.
Cat also seems to have the ability to rise above both her upbringing and environment. She’s seen first hand the effects of alcohol and meth, and she is determined not to let it ensnare her the way it seems to have ensnared many of her friends. She also takes action to do what the adults in town aren’t doing, hunting down its sad and down trodden residents to gather information about Patrick’s attack. Cat, as one of the characters notes, is true to her name. She doesn’t sit still, she’s completely driven, which makes for a compelling read.
It did remind me a little of The Laramie Project, the true story play then documentary film about the homophobia fueled murder of Matthew Shepherd. As I was reading, I could see this book playing out as a movie.
I love the thread of To Kill a Mockingbird running through the story, it echoes back through time when Scout ( and Cat certainly spends most of the book scouting herself) learns a terrible lesson about  justice and the prejudices of a small town, and Shine is no different. 

Trailer Thursday (1)

Today I'm posting trailers to books (or books) that I am either looking forward to reading, have already read and want to share or that might be coming out soon. Also books that are either in production or MIGHT BE made into movies. See the "Events" Page for more details. 

Today's trailer: "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters". By Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters

What can I say, I'm a mash-up fan! 
(I'm working on the comments section. I'm not sure why it won't let people post comments, I'm working on it!)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (2)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme sponsored by Breaking the Spine in which bloggers, authors and other bookish folk talk about books they are highly anticipating. Mine for this week is:

Title: The Gathering (Darkness Rising, Book #1)

Author: Kelley Armstrong


Release Date: April 12, 2011 

It's a young adult shifter (romance?)novel regarding a young woman named Maya, set in a mountain town in Canada and a mystery surrounding the drowning death of her best friend. The most intriguing part of the story is when the mountain lions around town start acting strange, especially around Maya. Thrown into the mix is Maya's prospective love interest, Rafe, who only seems interested in Maya where her enigmatic paw-print birth-mark is concerned. You had me at mountain lion and paw print birthmark. It will be interesting to see where authors go with shifting outside of wolves. I actually live in an area where there are bobcats and mountain lions, I've seen their tracks in the mountains and canyons. It does open up a scope of imaginative possibilities. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

National Book Week

How did it get to be National Book Week and I didn't hear about it until now? Anyway, here's the game that's going around. A number of blogs are doing it, so I'll do it too! It's pretty much the same thing as Teaser Tuesdays so I'll save that for next week. 

It's National Book Week. The rules are: Grab the closest book to you. Turn to page 56. Copy the 5th sentence as your status. Don't mention the book...Post these rules as well. 

Here's mine: "I fear my poor heart will be enslaved."

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Morning Pages

I worked on few reviews this weekend, and wanted to post a link to go with some of the books a I reviewed. There's an interesting phenomenon going on in the far right conservative movement called Stay At Home Daughters, and I came across an article in Bitch Magazine that talks about this trend in YA fiction novels that have to deal with young women's experiences inside ultra-conservative families and religious practices. It led me to pick up a few books:Quivering Daughters ,Keep Sweet and 
Hidden Wives

. They were compelling and offer a unique insight into this little known, and sometimes over-sensationalized phenomenon that gets a lot of hype in the media when something major happens. But the media doesn't go into depth about the lives of these young girls, but fortunately we have these amazing authors who can go there for us. Read the article from Bitch Magazine here

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Reads (1)

Friday Reads is a weekly meme supported by readers and other bookish folk from all over the world where everyone posts what they are reading this week. I've been participating in this for a while now and it's time to give it a mention on my blog. It has a pretty active twitter community as well (#fridayreads). This weekend I'm tackling some items on my ARC list as well as my 2011 Urban Fantasy Challenge: "A Brush of Darkness" written by Allison Pang.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Lit and Celtic Myths

As a nod to the only American holiday where we celebrate drinking as a competitive sport....uh, I mean Irish Pride, I thought it would be appropriate to write a little something about one of my favorite Irish authors and playwrights, Lady Gregory (March 15, 1852-May 22 1932). 
She wrote extensively about Irish folklore with a heavy emphasis on the fair folk and Celtic myths and legends. She was a contemporary and literary companion of Yeats, and the two collaborated often. 
With Yeats she founded the Irish Literary Theatre and the Abby Theatre, now the national theater of Ireland, which is still in existence today. 
If you are a writer looking for ideas, or a fan of all things fairy, Lady Gregory is an excellent place to start, and, in my humble opinion, an essential part of any myth, folklore and fairy lover's collection. Below I've posted a link to one of her books of Celtic fairy and myth, as well as to her best known play, Kincora, about Ireland's version of Braveheart: Brian Boru

KINCORA: available for Free Download at Google Books.

The Unicorn from the Stars

Gods and Fighting Men 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

I'm participating my first ever Waiting on Wednesday, which is a weekly meme hosted by
Breaking the Spine, where talk about new released we're highly anticipating.

My pick this week: 
Title: "Hit List" 
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Release Date: June 7th, 2011
Published by: Berkley Hardcover

It's the latest in the Anita Blake vampire hunter series and I have not only read every single Anita Blake novel, I've also read everything Laurell K. Hamilton has ever wrote. According to buzz about this book, Anita will face new challenges as the triumvirate of Jean-Claude, Anita and Richard is threatened by a hit man sent to take out the three. For me, Anita Blake doesn't get old, as some criticism has been lobbed at her for that very reason. It has been interesting to see Anita Blake grow as a character from book one, and there is a new set of challenges for Anita per book. It takes a talented author to create a character so real she jumps off the page, as well as an alternative reality that is easy to believe in. Laurell K. Hamilton has a lot to teach me as a writer on character development and study, which is why I look forward to every book.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The End Of Bookstores | The New Republic

An interesting article written by author Nicole Krauss. Does shopping online compare to walking through a bookstore, holding an elegant volume of vanilla-smelling paper in your hand? Caressing their spines, touching their glossy covers? Not to mention you get to see what the book looks and feels like before you buy it. You have the benefit of being around other lovers of books. Like, actual human interaction.
I used to get so excited walking into a bookstore I would have to detour my passage through the aisles and head right for the bathroom. Yes, that excited.
Now, I don't have a choice where and how to buy books and it makes me sad. Living in one of America's most remote communities by almost-chance, almost-fate circumstance, the nearest bookstore is about 2 and 1/2 to 3 hours away. I have to order books online because our 2 mile long town doesn't brag a bookstore. So I rely heavily on technology for books, but if I had a choice, I'd walk down the aisles.

The End Of Bookstores | The New Republic

Monday, March 14, 2011

Why Books Turn Me On

Circulating around the world o'books the last couple of months is the excerpt from "Perfumes, the Guide" by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez. (Published by Viking Press). Here's the quote that people have been posting: "Lignin, the stuff that prevents all tress from adopting the weeping habit, is a polymer made up of units that are closely related to vanillin. When made into paper and stored for years, it breaks down and smells good. Which is how divine providence has arranged for secondhand bookstores to smell like good quality vanilla absolute, subliminally stoking a hunger for knowledge in all of us."

So there might be a reason why I get that tingly feeling whenever I walk into a bookstore (used or new, actually). It seems there's always a connection somewhere between hunger for knowledge and hunger for food, or why books are referred to as nourishment for the brain. And of course there is always a connection between food and sex and smell. My point is, all of these are connected. The mind, the heart, the body. Dozens of research and academic papers have explored this concept at length, and this is for the most part the basis of my blog. I feel...satisfied after reading a good book, especially one that invokes emotions, something Aristotle referred to as catharsis. One hunger feeds another, and I'm much more likely to read a book with a drink and/or snack nearby. I think the only difference is that eventually my body will get full, but my mind has a much larger capacity.

On Loneliness, Pt. 2

He stops short of the entryway, and his shadow falls long over the carpet. "Come out and say how-do," I say jokingly. It was a f...