Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Part 2

Happy Halloween Everyone!!! So, I think I should add, for the sake of honesty, that I actually own a lot more costumes then the ones shown. I just thought, to not disrespect that most frightful of holidays I would only include ACTUAL Halloween costumes...not say, my Lord of the Rings costumes with full elf ears, or my Firefly get up, I have the complete Kaylee only Halloween, because otherwise this would be a long post indeed!

80s punk, and the return of part of my Pippy gear! Also I cut my hair, MYSELF, about 10 minutes prior to that would be how I ended up with such funky hair for my passport 6 months later...

BEST HALLOWEEN EVER, it was Absolutely Fabulous (haha)! You can't believe how nice people are to you when you're Edie and Patsy! The free booze and cigarettes. I could not even guess how many people we posed for pictures with. That's Hunter S. Thompson, apparently he had a thing for Patsy...

Patsy and Edie in typical heckle mode. We had anyone dressed up as clergy running for fear due to use shouting "La Croix" at them...

My last year of college totally sucked and I needed a quick yet evil costume, my friends were throwing a theme party, the orcs had taken over Rivendell (literally, their co op was called Rivendell and we had orcs) and I wanted to vent my rage. I went as a Vengeance Demon. Lots of fun and scary too. Note the all out vein action.

So obviously everyone should have a Harry Potter costume. Really they should, you don't realize how useful they are! Plus, aside from the cloak, the individual parts can be worn at any other time without looking like a schoolgirl. This is me with my cat, who would so go to Hogwarts with me...TAKE THAT all my friends who say they're take owls cause it's like email.

Better shot of the costume taken this summer...yes I do occasionally wear

The year of, wear whatever you find at the thrift store in Ohio. Totally fun, and I took to wearing the wig wherever. Also a kid at the door when I was handing out candy said I looked like his teacher...hmm...what school does he go to?

Back in Ohio a year later I was able to convince my friends (Sarah and Matt) for a group costume...aka Team Zissou. Easy, fun, cool pics, and best of all, we went to an aquarium for cool photoage. As to me pointing to England...I think we were playing the where would you rather be, and I was watching Brideshead Revisited and I am pretty sure I'm pointing at the precise location of Castle Howard, I did study the map for awhile to be sure...

Team Zissou takes the riverboat down the that is not a person you see to the right...and it doesn't look like we are below water level....

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hush Hush Contest

The author of Hush, Hush, Becca Fitzpatrick is doing a contest: The Really Big HUSH, HUSH Launch Contest

From her website:
Take a picture of you with HUSH, HUSH (hardcover, not ARC) and post it to your blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc. between now and October 31st, and enter for a chance to win the really big prize pack, including:

1 signed copy of HUSH, HUSH (hardback)
1 audiobook
1 bag of HUSH, HUSH personalized M&Ms
1 HUSH, HUSH tee
1 HUSH, HUSH locker poster
1 $10 iTunes card
A five-page critique from my agent, Catherine Drayton, plus she'll help you whip your query letter into shape!

Email me the link(s) to your pictures (becca at beccafitzpatrick dot com), and I'll give you one entry point for every location you post. Also, I'm more than happy to ship internationally, so if you're from, say, The Netherlands, and happen to be in Los Angles or London or Des Moines during October and take a picture of yourself with HUSH, HUSH, as long as you post the picture and email me the link(s), you're entered.

Make sure the picture includes both you and HUSH, HUSH. Oh, yeah. And maybe, just maybe, there will be bonus points for creativity!

A Spooky Week Draws to a Close

I'd like to thank Michael Norman for stopping by my blog this week to lend a ghostly air to this most wonderful of holidays. Make sure you enter to win a signed and inscribed copy of his book! While that doesn't end for a week, I'll remind you that my other two giveaways end at the witching hour tomorrow! So get those entries in!

And to further get you in the mood for ghosts, there an interview with Mike over at the MinnPost...but the real gem is below...Mike's appearance on Space Ghost. As he said "I guess those "ancient" appearances will never die now with the Internet!" So for your enjoyment...Space Ghost's Halloween episode "Boo!"

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Michael Norman Q&A

The king of ghost stories, Michael Norman, is back in his weekly profile leading up to that most spooky of holidays. It's only fitting that for Halloween Mike joins us to discuss his works and answer a few tough questions about that most important of holidays. Well, enough from me, let's get right down to the hard hitting questions! Also don't forget to enter for a chance to win a signed copy of his new book, The Nearly Departed: Minnesota Ghost Stories & Legends.

Question: For someone new to your work how would you summarize what you do?

Answer: I write "true" ghost stories from around the Midwest and across the United States and Canada. I try to tell the stories of the hauntings in a way that lets readers come to their own conclusions. Some of my titles are: Haunted America, Historic Haunted America, Haunted Heartland and, my newest books, The Nearly Departed: Minnesota Ghost Stories and Legends.

Question: How did you get interested in researching ghost stories in the first place?

Answer: My late co-author Beth Scott and I decided to write a non-fiction book back in the late 1970s. I discovered a quote from the late folklorist Robert Gard that Wisconsin had more ghosts than any other state! I thought that was extraordinary, so Beth and I set off to see if that was true. I still don't know, but Haunted Wisconsin has been in print now for 30 years.

Question: Any ghost story that really got to you?

Answer: I think "Something Evil on Larrabee Street" was pretty scary because the family vacated the house because of their fear. The house was pretty ordinary, but according to the Tallmanns it just about destroyed their family.

Question: Being an expert in ghosts you were asked to be on Space Ghost, what was it like filming your episode? Did you actually get to meet Space Ghost in the “flesh”?

Answer: This was 15 years ago. I was seated on a stool in front of a single camera and asked to ad lib answers to some questions a producer asked off camera. Pretty boring explanation I know, but the "magic" came in adding the animation later on. And, uh, he's a drawing...

Question: What do you think it is about the North woods in Wisconsin that inspires macabre writers (Neil Gaiman living in the area as well)?

Answer: I don't know why Gaiman lives in the region...I've often wondered that. For me, it was where my teaching career took me. But for others, maybe it's the dark woods and deep water that inspires them.

Question: 100 years from now if you could haunt any location of your choosing where would it be?

Answer: The first balcony at Lincoln Center. How cool would it be to get to hear all those great concerts!

Question: How is it being an author associated with a particular time of year?

Answer: I'm "king of all media" for a week or two then go back to delightful oblivion.

Question: Your favorite ever Halloween costume?

Answer: I rarely dress up for Halloween. Maybe it's also being an actor, but for me putting on a costume has always been about doing a role and when I'm offstage I prefer being myself -- which in and of itself can be pretty spooky first thing in the morning!

Question: Do you feel the popularity of your books has increased with the resurgence of Halloween brought about by the likes of Tim Burton? Or do you think Halloween has always been big no matter how commercial it is?

Answer: Halloween has become a huge commercial industry because corporate America has pushed it. There is little realization now of its ancient origins and there really should be.

Question: Favorite Halloween candy?

Answer: Has to be peanut M&Ms.

Question: If you could teach at Hogwarts what subject would you teach?

Answer: Freshman Decomposition.

Question: You are also very active in theatre. How does writing for the stage differ from writing a book?

Answer: The stage limits you in terms of what you can "show" obviously so you have to depend more on dialogue and the audience's imagination.

Question: What is your opinion of the advances in technology that make authors more accessible to their fans, with blogs, goodreads and facebook?

Answer: It's good, though time-consuming. Anything that promotes book sales...!!!

Question: Being an author of “the printed word,” how do you feel about electronic readers such as the Sony Reader and the Kindle? Haunted Homeland, Haunted Heritage and Haunted Wisconsin all being available on the Kindle.

Answer: Oh, I think it's fine as long as authors are paid adequately. I'm a "book" person myself so I can't imagine using one.

Question: What was it like going from being half of a writing team to going solo?

Answer: Beth died 15 years ago, so I've been solo for quite awhile. I think we established a style and I've tried to stick with it.

Question: Do you have a favorite cover among your books?

Answer: I do like the new one, though the original concept for the cover and interior photos for "Haunted Wisconsin" are hard to beat. Great designer and photographer helps!!

(Miss Eliza side note: My grandfather was the photographer who took the picture for the cover above, and my mother was the designer!)

Question: Your books have over the years gone from regional to more national ghost stories, starting in Wisconsin and then encompassing all of America, but your newest book focuses on Minnesota. Why Minnesota, and why now?

Answer: Why, because the Minnesota Historical Society Press came to me with the idea and I agreed. Simple as that. I didn't have plans for another book, but I couldn't think of a good reason to say no.

Question: In the future do you ever plan on going more global? Perhaps expanding to other countries?

Answer: No.

Question: What’s in the future for you? Any exciting projects you’re able to talk about?

Answer: Nothing in particular, though I may explore adapting some form of my ghost stories to the stage. We'll see.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Guild Season 3, Bonus Epispde: Halloween!

<br/><a href="" target="_new" title="Season 3 - Bonus Episode: Halloween!">Video: Season 3 - Bonus Episode: Halloween!</a>

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Spooky Week Ahead!

Well, I've been holding out the best October has to offer till the very end. For the lead up to Halloween I have some wonderful treats in store! Tricks...not so much, but I might think of something.

With us this week I am honored to present the author Michael Norman. Perhaps you've caught him on the Discovery Channel, he's been on a few haunted castle documentaries hosted by Robert Hardy (Cornelius Fudge to you). Or Perhaps you've seen him on late night cable being interviewed by Space Ghost? Or maybe you've passed his books in Barnes & Noble? But after today I'm going to make sure you know who Michael Norman is! (That's if you don't already.) He's the king of ghost stories, having written the popular Haunted America series of true ghost stories. Haunted Wisconsin was published in 1979 and since then he has written six more books centering on the supernatural, all still in print! He's my "blogman" of the month, and I couldn't think of a better canidite for such a spooky phantasmagorical time of year than this veteran ghost hunter. He is currently "running hither and yon promoting The Nearly Departed," his newest book for the Minnesota Historical Society, but he'll be stopping by later this week for an in-depth Q&A with such important questions as his favorite all time Halloween costume. But in the meantime...a new competition!

Mike has generously offered up a signed and inscribed copy of his latest book to the winner. Let us take a quick look at this wonderful prize:

The Nearly Departed: Minnesota Ghost Stories and Legends by Michael Norman
Published by: Minnesota Historical Society Press
Publication Date: September 1, 2009
Format: Paperback, 304 Pages
To Order

The official patter:
"Everyone loves a good ghost story.

Phantoms of the Paramount, Shadows on Third Avenue, The Legend of Ann Lake, The Boy in the Red Cap. Veteran ghost hunter Michael Norman has uncovered almost three dozen stories of legitimate Minnesota eeriness to thrill readers. Norman, author of five nationally popular collections of ghost tales, interviewed local storytellers and combed newspapers to document legends involving supernatural and strange occurrences. Following old and fresh leads, he gathered stories from all over the state.

Ghost stories have existed as long as humans have been telling tales. Perhaps they rise from our curiosity about what happens to us and our loved ones after death, perhaps they explain phenomena that we do not understand, or maybe, just maybe, the dead do walk the earth. Norman does not attempt to prove or disprove the existence of ghosts but instead allow readers to make up their own minds. his tales feature people's strange and paranormal experiences in quite ordinary places, including homes, theaters, B&Bs, and restaurants. Many of the engaging and hair-raising accounts involve strange and frightening incidents of the last fifty years; some tales document very recent unexplainable or spectral events. The book includes a list of sites open to the public and documents the hauntings' locations–from Taylors Falls and Pipestone to Northfield and Nobles County–for Minnesotan who may want to "pass through" the sites.

Beware: these stories do not have conclusive endings, since they remain mysteries to this day. but perhaps that's best. An ending would just take the fun out of it."


The Nearly Departed: Minnesota Ghost Stories signed and inscribed by the author, Michael Norman

What was you favorite Halloween costume? (Come back later in the week to find out Mike's answer!)

The Rules:
1. Open to EVERYONE (worldwide), and just because you haven't been following me all along doesn't mean you don't matter.
2. Please make sure I have a way to contact you if your name is drawn, either your blogger profile or a link to your website/blog or you could even include your email address with your comment(s).
3. Contest ends Saturday, November 7th at 11:59AM CST
4. How to enter: Just post below
5. And for those addicted to getting extra entries:

+1 for answering the question above
+2 for becoming a follower
+5 if you are already a follower
+10 for each time you advertise this contest - blog post, sidebar, twitter (please @MzLizard), etc. (but you only get credit for the first post at each site, so tweet all you like, and I thank you for it, but you'll only get the +10 once). Also please leave a link!

Tuesday Tomorrow

Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris
Published by: Berkley Hardcover
Publication Date: October 27th, 2009
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
Lightning-struck sleuth Harper Connelly and her stepbrother Tolliver take a break from looking for the dead to visit the two little girls they both think of as sisters. But, as always happens when they travel to Texas, memories of their horrible childhood resurface.

To make matters worse, Tolliver learns from his older brother that their father is out of jail and trying to reestablish contact with other family members. Tolliver wants no part of the man- but he may not have a choice in the matter.

Soon, family secrets ensnare them both, as Harper finally discovers what happened to her missing sister, Cameron, so many years before.

And what she finds out will change her world forever. "

While Charlaine Harris my be best known for her Sookie Stackhouse books of Southern Vampires, I have always found the most enjoyment in her Harper Connelly books. While this one is unfortunately titled Grave Secret, I say unfortunate because it is also the title of one of Kathy Reichs Temperance Brennan "Bones" novels, I hope that we do get to the bottom of one secret that's been looming in Harper's life...what happened to her sister? I've been so impatient I actually read the first chapter on Charlaine Harris' website, something I rarely do because it makes me more impatient. I literally can't wait for this book, I've preordered it for my Kindle (and checked occasionally to see if it was accidently sent early) in the hopes that at midnight I can sink my teeth into it....hmm, that metaphor seems too vampy for her non-Sookie books...dig into it perhaps? Ah, the metaphor doesn't matter, just the fact of a great read with a truly complex mystery, the likes of which might baffle a bar maid at Merlotte's.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Contemporary Masterpiece

So today begins the boring part of Masterpiece (no longer theater). Or so that's how I always view the Contemporary section in my head. It doesn't have the lure of the costume drama that the Classic has, or the intrigue of what was once Mystery, or the length, usually being the shortest of the seasons. But I think I might reconsider all this seeing as David Tennant is the new host. Yes, I hate how they've done away with the old intros and I hate this rotating celebrity shtick they've got going, but with David Tennant they may be onto something. Aside from Alan Cumming that is, he's too perfect and the natural inheritor of the show from the likes of Vincent Price and Diana Rigg, bring back the Edward Gorey sets and I'm hooked for life. Back to David. He's got the classic training down, he's got that wonderful Scottish brogue and he's The Doctor for freakin' sake! The fact that I have David Tennant to look forward to on Sunday nights means I'm a little less pissed he quit Doctor Who...just a little...I mean he's so perfect and I know why he quit...but back to Masterpiece.

This season of only three shows (see I said short) looks to be stellar. We have Endgame, and no not the Samuel Beckett play, and while we're on it, why name a political thriller about apartheid after the most famous play by Beckett, after Waiting for Godot that is. This one is the show that fills the "political quota" that the Contemporary section seems to want to burden us with. After that we get Place of Execution. This aired in Britain last year, and I have to say, it's amazing! Starring Juliet Stevenson and Greg Wise this takes place around a girls disappearance 40 years earlier and the investigative journalist who has to uncover the truth, at all costs. This is based on the book of the same name by Val McDermid and made by Robson Green's production company that made McDermid's Wire in the Blood (it so needs to be uncancelled right now). So right there you are forewarned. It's dark, it's creepy, it's fabulous...and it's also totally a mystery, so it's in the wrong section, but I won't quibble, this means an intro by David Tennant. The final show, Collision, I know nothing about, apart from it's written by Anthony Horowitz of Foyle's War inception so it has to be good, he's never failed yet. It also stars that actor from Primeval who I hate cause he played Ned Lawrence mac two on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles...but that's a personal hate...he has such creepy eyes!

So at least you'll be in good hands (they are the hands of a Doctor after all) until the best season ever returns. Gotta love the Classics! I'm sure we'll be seeing the new Emma, perhaps the recent miniseries on the Romantics? Desperate Romantics anyone? And of course Cranford! We can also hope that Lark Rise to Candleford gets bumped from random airings to full fledged Classic, as it should be! Have you watched season 1 yet? It's out on DVD now! A final thought...I do wonder who our host will be? Shall Laura Linney return or will she go the way of Gillian Anderson and Matthew Goode?

Halloween Part 1

I thought that to get everyone in the spirit for Halloween I would show everyone what I've be wont to wear for this glorious of holidays. While other holidays might have come and gone, Halloween was always a big one in my family, my mom often made my costumes and it was a fun filled old fright night. Now to the are my pictures from earliest Halloween through high school, college and beyond will be my second post! I might also add, some of this costumes had a tendency to be worn whenever I felt like it (which was often)...but these are all actually from Halloweens past.

This is a little Pierrot clown costume my mom made me and I just loved it, it's so cute...also fit me for years to come.

Most likely my fright at learning Halloween meant I got candy. I had an irrational fear of candy at this age, favoring carrots and vegetables. Apparently I was known to break down sobbing if I was going to a birthday party for fear I would be forced to eat cake.

Princess is not pleased to meet alien, that's for sure. Apparently aliens are "beneath me." That's John Clifton for any of my old high school friends who might be reading this. His costume being far more "snazzy"...but does he have a foam core and glitter wand? I don't think so!

Ok, this is one of the cutest costumes ever (notice the wand from the previous year is back), BUT it itched like a mother! Just the memory of it is making me break out in a rash, it was awful, there was no way this outfit could be made comfortable. Horrid stiff tulle. You will also notice my friend, Erin is wearing one of my old costumes...I don't think they asked me about this...must be karma that destroyed the other half of the picture.

School parade of costumes. Best picture I could find of me as Cinderella. You will notice that it's a re-purposed princesses dress...Also can you tell it was the 80s? Cabbage Patch Doll anyone?

My favorite costume EVER! So cut and comfortable, also reminiscent of Max from Where the Wild Things Are. My brother was a mouse, and this being a typical Wisconsin fall, it was sleeting, and five minutes into trick-or-treating he fell in a puddle. Not fun.

Me as a very pissed off Pippy Longstocking. I think it might have to do with the fact I thought my braids were crap cause one of the older kids actually wired their hair and I wasn't allowed to have long hair because I chewed it. Also take note, the 80s pink shirt, it will be used again for Halloween about 15 years later!

More know I don't think I've ever even read the book...I just really liked that crappy movie that came out around then and I had to be a literary character that year per "teachers decree."

The cat has been updated to a leopard! Plus I was like 5 inches taller so the other one didn't quite work anymore.

7th grade and everyone had to be a flapper...I'm not sure why flapper became the big thing in 1990? I have a vague feeling it had to do with the film Dick Tracy...

Also just a hint, sack dresses means it's very hard to lift your arm to answer questions in science class without the person next to you looking down your dress...thanks Greg.

Freshman year hippies...and yes, those are A Different World Dwayne Wayne glasses, don't judge! I'm sure you had them too!

Alice in Wonderland...and I really wanted to dye my hair dark to be true to the description of Alice in the books versus the Disneyfication...ah well, at least I had a flamingo.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Book Review - Lauren Willig's The Betrayal of the Blood Lily

The Betrayal of the Blood Lily by Lauren Willig
Published by: Dutton
ARC Provided by Dutton
Publication Date: January 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 401Pages
Rating: ★★★★ 1/2 ★
To Preorder

The official patter:
"Everyone warned Miss Penelope Deveraux that her unruly behavior would land her in disgrace someday. She never imagined she'd be whisked off to India to give the scandal of her hasty marriage time to die down. As Lady Frederick Staines, Penelope plunges into the treacherous waters of the court of the Nizam of Hyderabad, where no one is quite what they seem—even her own husband. In a strange country where elaborate court dress masks even more elaborate intrigues and a spy called the Marigold leaves cobras as his calling card, there is only one person Penelope can trust....

Captain Alex Reid has better things to do than play nursemaid to a pair of aristocrats. He knows what their kind is like. Or so he thinks-- until Lady Frederick Staines out-shoots, out-rides, and out-swims every man in the camp. She also has an uncanny ability to draw out the deadly plans of the Marigold and put herself in harm's way. With danger looming from local warlords, treacherous court officials, and French spies, Alex realizes that an alliance with Lady Frederick just might be the only thing standing in the way of a plot designed to rock the very foundations of the British Empire."

The Lady Frederick Staines, the person Penelope has become. But she is not that person, but she's no longer Penelope either. She has become a stranger, not just to India, but to her newly inadvertently acquired husband and the name that came with it. Penelope's crisis took a back seat in the previous Pink Carnation book, The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, where she was stained, in more ways than one. Following a hasty marriage we finally get to hear her story upon her arrival in India. I really enjoy Penelope as a heroine and with her starting out the book already married to a man she doesn't love we are in a far different position than Lauren's previous novels. Instead of an innocent happy virginal character, we have someone a little flirty, a little more worldly, a little bitter and very much taken.

What follows is typical Willig fare, there are spies and intrigues and misunderstandings, and romance all in the tradition of, and with a nod and a wink to, M.M. Kaye's The Far Pavilions, but at a far more manageable size. At first I didn't know how I would take the new "hero" Alex Reid. I was very disappointed that Tommy Fluellen would not be returning somehow to save Penelope, but then I met Alex and all is forgiven. Tommy can find his own girl, preferably in a future book. Alex is a good, upstanding man with many a family woe, but with good morals and a fierce loyalty to India and eventually to Penelope. Their dialogue crackles and sparkles and just keeps the pages turning late into the night.

Lauren Willig has got to be one of the best writers of historical fiction today. She makes you truly love the characters despite all their flaws. The writing flows and is witty, fresh and not stayed and dull like history books sometimes make history to be. History could never be as dull as some of those academic books make it out and with Lauren's series you can see a glimpse of what it might really have been like back in the court of the Nizam. I also have a feeling that the sixth installment of her series could lure new readers. It's not just the exotic location and the romance of precolonial India instead of soggy wet old England that will do it. I feel that while Penelope does have a past that weaves through the previous books, India is such a break from who she was and Lauren has set out to create such a new environment that does not heavily relay on the previous installments that anyone could pick up this book and not be lost. Of course if they read this book they will have a desperate urge to read the other volumes.

Also I just realized, I haven't even mentioned Colin and Eloise! All I'm going to say is Valentine's Day. Not enough for you? Colin's family problems are nothing to Alex's, but Lauren has a clever little insertion of a quote from Mansfield Park that neatly ties their story and a little bit of a mystery together.

I really want to thank Jamie McDonald for the Advance Reader Copy, this book made me glad to get the flu. Truthfully! I would have had to fake an illness because I could not put it down until I was done. Also the lack of that final 1/2 star...due to the fact that Lauren is such a gifted writer I can't help but compare to her previous novels and The Seduction of the Crimson Rose has set a standard that will be hard to beat...this is easily a 5 star book where it not for my little quirks. It is my firm wish that I get to spend many more years with these characters, and with Lauren's prodigious output, we've been getting a book a year from her, perhaps she will one day outstrip Georgette Heyer's output. Until then, I can't but help spread the love. I will be giving away my ARC in the coming weeks, as well as making January Lauren Willig month, with many a flowery spy themed giveaway! So be sure to stop back often, you never know when a spy may come calling.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

And Another Thing...

This post is going to be a little rant-centric. So I was supposed to go to the Eoin Colfer talk in Downer's Grove yesterday...was being the key word there. The event was apparently plagued and beleaguered by indecision and lack of interest, none of which I might add had to do with the bookshop. Originally it was to be an epic event at the Tivoli Theater, with a talk and a signing and then a showing of the movie. Well, first the signing was out, only "presigned" books would be available. Then due to lack of interest the movie was out. Then as of Monday it looked like Eoin Colfer wouldn't come at all because the event was now "too small." Finally as of late yesterday the plan was to have a small talk and then people could purchase presigned books. There would be no inscriptions, no interaction with the author, he would be there only 20 to 40 minutes tops. WTF people! I wasn't going to drive 3 hours for that, it was the whole event I was looking forward too, even cracking open Artemis Fowl to get in the mood.

The crux of the problem is this: fans don't like that Eoin Colfer has written another Hitchhiker's book and he apparently doesn't want to convert the masses. This dislike is why the event wasn't selling...but a showing of the movie would never appeal to die-hard fans anyway, seeing as they did not like it, which personally, I don't get. But what I feel more strongly is that with Colfer's waffling, coupled with his not doing a real signing, even before the event was downsized, he doomed it. This shows that he's not taking the time to convince people that he was the man to take over the series. From a few reviews I have read, the consensus is the book is actually half way decent (I don't have a copy yet because I was going to get one yesterday) but he has a lot of prejudice and hesitancy on the part of the fans he has to face. Since he was willing to write the book he has to be willing to fight the fight. Tell me why I should read this. Convince me! Sell it to me! At least be willing to come to a book store for more than I wave at the crowd like a freakin' whistle stop train tour by some President at the turn of the century. Hell why even bother getting off the train then? The bookshop is right next to the tracks to downtown Chicago, just wave from the window and we'll call it a day?

Even if, in the long run, it was all agents and publicists and middlemen that messed this up, one thing will stick with me, it's the author who dictates if there is a signing line or not, and he dictated no. This attitude in an author who is writing his first adult book and has to sell to a whole new audience makes him seem haughty. Maybe this was the only event he dictated this to, but then why is Downer's Grove different than anywhere else? If one person showed up he should be there to sign. In the end I didn't go to the event because I had the feeling that he viewed me as a reader as beneath him. And NO author can afford to cause that kind of sentiment.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Book Review - Suzanne Collins' Catching Fire

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Published by: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: September 1st, 2009
Format: Hardcover, 391 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

It has been six months since Peeta and Katniss defied the government and were both crowned "victor" of The Hunger Games. Six months where things have achieved some sense of normalcy. Katniss' family and Peeta now live in the victor's village with Haymitch and they are now, more then ever before, an extended family. Katniss still hunts and is uncertain how things are with Gale, there was a tentative kiss, but that could mean anything...But now the tour of the Districts is upon them and Katniss has a rather terrifying visit from President Snow. There is disquiet and rumors of rebellion and Katniss must quell these uprisings with her overwhelming public displays of affection to Peeta to prove once again to the world that she and Peeta are not revolutionaries but two kids so in love they didn't understand the meaning of their actions. But it is obvious that the actions of two kids can not make up for the horrors that people have suffered at the hands of the capital, not even the prospect of Katniss and Peeta getting married can put out the fire that has been lite under these people. The only questions remains...with this year being the 75th anniversary of The Hunger Games, the thrid ever quarter can the Capital make Katniss pay for what she has done?

While I enjoyed the first book in Suzanne Collins' series it really did not grip me like Catching Fire did. I think this is down to two distinct factors, more of a glimpse into the post apocalyptic society that is Panem and character growth. In the first book, while I loved what we saw of District 12, it just wasn't enough, we were too quickly taken away to the candy coated world of the Capital, which I don't really like, except as a contrast to the lives in the Districts. While I can see the reasoning for Collins' doing this in the first book, seeing as each District is kept compartmentalized from each other, I really wanted to know more. But in a book written in first person narration, we can only expect to know what Katniss knows, which at the beginning is not so much, seeing as she lives within this compartmentalized society. Once she wins though she becomes something more to society, and I'm not talking about as a rallying point for a revolution, I'm talking about being above those she grew up with in her District, but also being not on the same footing as those in the Capital. Even more so because in District 12 there are only three others like her, but three others who when combined with the other past victors are an oddity to this society, but eventually they become something so much more. So with her new found "other" status she starts to learn more and therefore we learn more. We get to see the other Districts, though not in as much detail as I was initially expecting within the context of the "Victory Tour," it was enough to show Panem more completely. Also later on through Katniss' interactions with the other previous victors we learn more about each district, where the seafood comes from, where electronics come from, and by the availability of these goods the uprisings can be charted. It's a whole fascinating structure of Districts as basically serfdoms, and I just can't get enough of it! This is what I was looking for in the first book and I finally got it delivered!

But what I find most important is the character development. In the first book Katniss herself as such an autonomous little person, she has her few people who matter to her, but she has basically shut out the world around her. Again, this was on purpose, but she really kept infuriating me with her obliviousness to the world around her, her inability to see that she was loved and respected by those near her, Peeta in particular. When she won, when she finally grasped that the game she was playing meant something entirely different to Peeta, a wall finally cracked, something actually broke through to her. Therefore the Katniss we see in Catching Fire is a little more mature, a little more willing to let people in, a little more willing to expand her family circle and help others. Also a little more willing to fight for those she loves, and not just Prim this time, but for Peeta and Gale and for the past victors. She has forged alliances and not ones that will be easily broken when the time comes, but ones that mean something, ones that she will be willing to risk the wrath of the government for. She had to come to this realization of the world around her in order for her to become the person she needed to be in order to embrace revolution. You can not fight for something you can't grasp. When all you see or feel is that which affects you, then you are never going to hoist the banners, sound the trumpet and fight for the greater good. Katniss has become an empathic being, as have others, even some of the Capitals residents, and as an empathetic person I can relate far better to someone who feels the same and is not so self reliant and walled in. This is a Katniss I can like as well as admire. And who knows...empathy could easily be the emotion that could end these games forever...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

October Contests Still Going Strong! THESE COMPETITIONS NOW CLOSED

Remember you have 12 days left to enter my lovely October contests. No hassle, just write below and you could win either the complete Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a lovely trilogy in 5 volumes in sweet boxed set form. Or you could win the Charles Addams biography. Perhaps the Gods shine on you and you could win both...stranger things HAVE happened, I assure you. If I hit 150, something special will be added to this Ad(d)ams Contest Extravaganza!


The Complete Hitchhiker's Trilogy Box Set (All 5 paperback books in a swanky slipcase)

Who is your favorite character in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? (note: doesn't have to be human)

The Rules:
1. Open to EVERYONE (worldwide), and just because you haven't been following me all along doesn't mean you don't matter.
2. Please make sure I have a way to contact you if your name is drawn, either your blogger profile or a link to your website/blog or you could even include your email address with your comment(s).
3. Contest ends Saturday, October 31st at 11:59AM CST
4. How to enter: Just post below
5. And for those addicted to getting extra entries:

+1 for answering the question above
+2 for becoming a follower
+5 if you are already a follower
+10 for each time you advertise this contest - blog post, sidebar, twitter (please @MzLizard), etc. (but you only get credit for the first post at each site, so tweet all you like, and I thank you for it, but you'll only get the +10 once). Also please leave a link!


Charles Addams, A Cartoonist's Life by Linda H. Davis

Who is the better Gomez Addams? Raul Julia or John Astin?

The Rules:
1. Open to EVERYONE (worldwide), and just because you haven't been following me all along doesn't mean you don't matter.
2. Please make sure I have a way to contact you if your name is drawn, either your blogger profile or a link to your website/blog or you could even include your email address with your comment(s).
3. Contest ends Saturday, October 31st at 11:59AM CST
4. How to enter: Just post below
5. And for those addicted to getting extra entries:

+1 for answering the question above
+2 for becoming a follower
+5 if you are already a follower
+10 for each time you advertise this contest - blog post, sidebar, twitter (please @MzLizard), etc. (but you only get credit for the first post at each site, so tweet all you like, and I thank you for it, but you'll only get the +10 once). Also please leave a link!

The Guild Season 3, Episode 8: +10 to Bravery

<br/><a href="" target="_new" title="Season 3 - Episode 8: +10 to Bravery">Video: Season 3 - Episode 8: +10 to Bravery</a>

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tuesday Tomorrow

So, um...this is embarrassing....but I don't have any books for this weeks post....It's not that I don't want to recommend new books to you, it's just that I couldn't find any books I really wanted to condone. I'm sure there is something new out there you'll like, I just couldn't be bothered to look anymore when I do have something else to recommend! That's right, something old is new again and I'm expanding the parameters of this post to include DVDs!

Black Adder Remastered: The Ultimate Edition
Actors: Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, Miranda Richardson, Hugh Laurie, Tim McInnery, Stephen Fry
Published by: BBC Warner
Publication Date: October 20th, 2009
Format: DVD
Number of Discs: 6
To Buy

The official patter:
"Rowan Atkinson is deliciously twisted as the comic villain, Edmund Blackadder, in the enormously popular comedy series. Follow Blackadder in hysterical send-ups of the Middle Ages, the Elizabethan age, the Regency period, and World War I. This special edition contains new exclusive interviews and audio commentaries , making it a must have for all BlackAdder fans.

- Remastered series: The Black Adder, Blackadder II, Blackadder the Third, Blackadder Goes Forth
- New commentary by Rowan Atkinson and John Lloyd, Stephen Fry, Ben Elton and Richard Curtis, Tony Robinson and Tim McInnery
- Blackadder Rides Again: special 60-minute documentary to mark the 25th anniversary
- Exclusive extended interviews with Hugh Laurie, Rowan Atkinson, Richard Curtis and Ben Elton, Tony Robinson, Stephen Fry
- Costumes Revisited with Miranda Richardson, Patsy Byrne, Tony Robinson, Tim McInnery
- Plus Blackadder's Christmas Carol, Blackadder the Cavalier Years, Blackadder Back and Forth, Baldrick's Video Diary and more "

That hilarious of depraved individuals, Edmund Black Adder has had a bit of a spruce up. Black Adder has been remastered and made as good as low grade quality BBC 1980s video tape can be. Even though I have the series I am sure looking forward to the upgrade because besides all new commentaries we get some new documentaries, specials and interviews. For people who just can't get enough of Edmund, Baldrick, Melchet and the rest this is the best thing since the last best thing. Plus one can never have enough of Hugh Laurie as the Prince Regent! The episode with Robbie Coltrane as Samuel Johnson is perhaps the funniest half hour of television you will ever see...aardvark's agree.

Fawlty Towers: The Complete Collection Remastered
Actors: John Cleese, Andrew Sachs, Connie Booth, Prunella Scales
Published by: BBC Warner
Publication Date: October 20th, 2009
Format: DVD
Number of Discs: 3
To Buy

The official patter:
Coming to Special Edition DVD for the first time, it’s the complete Fawlty Towers collection with all-new commentary from John Cleese! Hot off the runaway success of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, John Cleese embarked on his now-legendary sitcom, Fawlty Towers, creating one of the most memorable and best loved characters in all of British comedy, Basil Fawlty. Basil Fawlty is a much put-upon, hard-working hotel manager whose life is plagued by dead guests, hotel inspectors, and riff-raff. Of course his biggest headache is his “little nest of vipers,” his nagging wife Sibyl. Together they run their hotel, Fawlty Towers, with a little help from the unflappable Polly and the trainee waiter from Barcelona with marginally more intelligence than a monkey, Manuel.

-Exclusive commentary by John Cleese
-2009 extended interviews, including exclusive interview with Connie Booth
-Accompanying booklet
-Interviews with John Cleese, Prunella Scales, and Andrew Sachs
-Series 1 director's commentary by John Howard Davies
-Series 2 director's commentary by Bob Spiers
-Artist profiles
-Torquay Tourist Guide (short documentary film)
-Cheap Tatty Review"

Fawlty Towers is also being released in a remastered edition. Most likely to fund John Cleese's newest alimony payments, having just let wife number three, his costar Connie Booth also being an ex, he makes no bones about the fact he could always use the money. Fawlty Tower is the quintessential BBC Comedy and I luckily enough, unlike Blackadder, never upgraded from my VHS set and am happy I didn't, what with all the new extras.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Return to Eaton Place

Well, you'll probably think you've misread this, I sure thought I did, but it's true...Upstairs Downstairs is returning! (I think I just heard Joss Whedon crying for joy.) The BBC have announced that the writer behind Cranford and Ballet Shoes has starting writing two feature length scripts for BBC One for broadcast next year. What's even better, Piers Wegner has stated that they have the blessing of the original creators and that they are also on board! Yes, Jean Marsh will be back as Rose, and Eileen Atkins will finally get a part on screen! Quite literally the most famous BBC Miniseries of all time and the standard by which all Miniseries are gauged is set for a return!

Set in 1936, 6 years after the original series ended, the house will have a new family occupying it and will be an entirely new show that is an extension of the original and not a remake, which would surely piss off die hard fans the world over! As Eaton Place inches towards World War II the house will once again be embroiled in the politics and world events of it's time. Seeing as the BBC have long desired for this franchise to continue it's not a surprise, a second spin off, the first being Thomas and Sarah, was set to begin filming immediately after the wrapping of the original show. Set at the seaside hotel that Hudson, Mrs. Bridges and Rose were going to buy, the show never made it into production due to Angela Baddeley's (Mrs. Bridges') death. Many other spin offs have been discussed over the years and many variations on the same themes, but they have never come to fruition. Finally it looks like we are indeed heading back to Eaton Place, and in a way that will embrace both old and new fans. Personally I hope that some of the old cast shows up as new's fun seeing James, Hazel, Sarah and Thomas whenever the pop up on tv, and how fitting would it be for them to drop by Eaton Place?

As Jean Marsh said: "I am hugely looking forward to spending time with Rose. I have missed her enormously." As have we all!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Book Review - Gail Carriger's Soulless

Soulless: The Parasol Protectorate Book 1 by Gail Carriger
Published by: Orbit
Publication Date: September 29th, 2009
Format: Paperback, 382 Pages
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy

It is the reign of Queen Victoria and the British Empire is vast and ever expanding, thanks in part to the Werewolves and Vampires. The supernatural are acknowledged the world over, but only England has truly accepted them into their daylight world and even into Victoria's government. They even have their own watchdog agency, BUR, the Bureau of Unnatural Registry. This revelation has resulted in technology exploding in the industrial era to harness the power of steam and create a veritable Wellsian world. Now Alexia Tarabotti enters into our story. Alexia deftly straddles these two worlds, not supernatural and not fully human, she is preternatural, soulless, and can cancel out supernatural powers. Preternatural's being used for centuries, particularly by the Templars, to hunt and kill supernaturals. But these are not Alexia's concerns...she's more worried about finding a nice cup of tea and a little something to eat...if a party says that there is to be food, food there should be! What else is a spinster who tragically takes after her dead Italian father in looks and is extremely outspoken to do at parties specifically designed to marry off her two step sisters? But her peace, and the treacle tart, are destroyed by a surprisingly ignorant vampire. She prevailes with her trusty parasol and BUR, in particular, Alpha Lord Maccon and Beta Professor Lyall, arrive on the scene to tidy up the loose ends.

The next day dawns surprisingly normal, till out on a walk with her best friend, and fashion victim, Ivy Hisselpenny, Alexia is invited to the hive of the Vampire Queen, Countess Nadasdy. From there everything goes pear shaped and it's up to Alexia to sort it out, despite Lord Maccon's interference, in more ways then one, some of them surprisingly intimate. There are disappearing rogue vampires and werewolves, and not even her trusty go to gossip, the vampire dandy Lord Akeldama knows what to make of it. With the full moon fast approaching will Alexia be able to keep her overly large nose out of this supernatural business? Or will she storm into the fray, trusting parasol (made to her specifications) in hand And will she get the man even though she has been a resigned spinster since the age of 15?

Soulless is the author Gail Carriger's first published work. I have to say I'm surprised and impressed. Surprised in that it is such a well written polished piece with great Victorian vernacular and lots of wit. Plus as an aside, I only found maybe two typos, it's unheard of for a book to be that well copy edited! But what impressed me was the author's world creation. The England of dirigibles and dandys is wonderful. I found the science and the history she created to be easy to understand, despite it's complexities, and I can't wait till the next book to re-immerse myself in this world...too bad I have to wait till March! The interaction of science with the supernatural was also so well done and logical, you never once felt that she was trying to force one or the other on a preexisting history of the British Empire, but was explaining the oddities of the British Empire itself with the world she created. If only Prince Albert were still alive...I can picture him with Professor Lyall, both equipped with Glassicals and studying the latest scientific aspects of chloroform while waiting to give a presentation to The Royal Society.

Overall the book was able to work on many levels, one of which was to overcome typical romance genre stereotypes. I don't think I'll ever really like Ivy Hisselpenny, she is too, wide-eyed innocent best friend who Alexia will endeavor to find a good match for in subsequent books. Also the throwing together of the heroine with the gruff hero so early in the novel was surprising to me, usually they wait till the very last moment. But Carriger made this work in the end with not the least bit of diluted suspense and the conclusion made me wish I hand Changeless right away to dive into to read of Maccon and Alxia's further adventures. Alexia herself is so wonderfully abrasive and forthright and knowledgeable with such a love of food you can't help embracing her instantly. Who cares that she's the typical spinster stereotype, because when you get down to it, there is nothing stereotypical about her. She is a woman who takes after Victoria herself, not those insipid heroines always needing a man to save them.

But now I must get to my favorite character, Lord Akeldama. He's a dandy to be sure, and a rogue vampire due to a mysterious disagreement over waistcoats, but he's so much more. He's a complex little spy who loves Alexia because she makes him feel human. But his spy network is really where it's at. His trusty Drones, led by Biffy. These dandy's are everywhere and hear everything, but at the same time are so stereotypical and a product of their time that they are a part of the scenery. They are perfectly calculated by Akeldama to be his eyes and ears lending him the appearance of omniscience. Also lets not forget they are great little helpers, in every sense of the word. Do to their cackling dandy herd mentality and the name of Drones and knowing that the author is a fan of P.G. Wodehouse, I can't help myself envisioning a whole different take on the Drones Club. This one would be more stylish, with lots more purple silk and more overt Wildean overtones. I would pay to read about that...really I would. Perhaps in an upcoming sequel by Gail Carriger...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Random Magic Tour

Tomorrow starts the blogispherical tour of the book Random Magic by Sasha Soren. While other blog book tours come and go this one is extra important. Why you ask? Well, if you look down to the bottom of the calender...who is that you see on November 24th? I believe that's me! Yes, I am participating in this tour of reviews and interviews and frivolity. So make sure to go check it out, the full tour is posted here, before coming back to me for the penultimate date! My profile is now also up on their site, so check it out for a bite of a laugh...

October 17th
Michelle at Michelle’s Book Blog interviewed Sasha Soren and also gave the book 4 out of 5 stars!

October 18th
Aimee at My Fluttering Heart gave the book 3.5 candy-colored stars!

October 20th
Allison at Well-Read Reviews has an interview and giveaway plus gave the book 5 stars! Of course you should remember to enter my giveaway as well!

October 22nd
Casey at A Passion For Books just appears to have this list and the trailer up... couldn't find a review.

October 24th
Kim at And Anything Bookish has the reader themes from the book as well as a 3.5/5 rating for the book!

October 25th
Kate at The Neverending Shelf has a quickie review and then stops by the Garden of the Muses.

October 26th
Trisha Lynn at Trisha’s Book Blog appears to not have anything up, it's not even the book of the day!

October 27th
Becky at The Bookette has an author interview and some exciting extras about color and what character are you?

And sharing her tour date:

Meri Greenleaf at The Elbit Blog was promoted from honorary witch to a full fledged member of the coven, she gave the book a 4 1/2 out of 5 stars, has trivia, trailers, polls a celestial roll call, links to Becky's site, and no end to the Random Magic Fun!

October 28th
Brande at Book Junkie has an author interview and giveaway plus a 5 star review!

October 29th
Jenny at Take Me Away has a book review as well as an in depth look at the colors of magic: black, and a what character are you quiz.

October 30th
Elnice at Ellz Readz has a review up.

October 31st
Mariah at A Reader’s Adventure has a whole lot going on from trailers to the color blue to quiz's and trivia.

November 2nd
Cat at Beyond Books has her review up.

November 3rd
Jill at The O.W.L. Blog her a review up.

November 4th
Juju at Tales of Whimsy illuminates Random Magic with quizzes and recipes.

November 9th
Charity Lynn at Keep On Booking has an author interview and a video review, though she didn't finish the book.

November 10th
Alaine at Queen of Happy Endings doesn't appear to have anything up.

November 11th
Tina at Tina’s Book Reviews has Sasha a guest blogger.

November 12th
McKenzie at The Book Owl has butterflies galore!

November 13th
Willow Raven at Red House Books has a little post, though they didn't finish either.

November 15th
Emily at What Book Is That? has an author interview up!

And sharing her tour date:

Alistair at Cerebrate's Contemplations posted his review for Emily, who sadly didn't receive her book in time, but also had a lovely which character are you quiz.

November 17th
Jenn at Falling Off The Shelf has her review up.

November 18th
Nicole at Books! Has both an author interview and a review giving the book 3 out of 5!

November 20th
Bianca at Wicked Good Reads has an interview with Sasha up.

November 21st
Michelle at The True Book Addict has the book trailer, some trivia and a review coming at sometime in the future.

November 23rd
Andrea at The Little Bookworm has the book trailer and what character are you.

*November 24th
Elizabeth (Miss Eliza) at Strange & Random Happenstance oh, I have lots of fun stuff up, but then again, you probably know that from being here!

November 25th
Eleni at La Femme Readers has anything you could ever desire about the muses as well as a kaleidoscope slide-show.

You Like Me, You Really Like Me!

So, yet another award... I really feel spoiled rotten, but in an oh so good way. But luckily, this award is specifically designed to send a little love back the way it came, so everyone gets to feel like a princess. I'm a princess dammit! And so are you! Thanks to Jessica over at Cover to Cover, you are too too sweet, now everyone must rush over there and give her blog a little love! Well, onto the award which was named after not really...yes not really (just imagine Eddie Izzard doing it and it's funny, and no, not just in my head.) So the award which has nothing to do with Telly Savalas, unless you happen to live in my head...and I really hope you don't (nothing against you, but that would be weird)...

The Award:

Who Love's Ya Baby

What's it all about (Alfie)?:
This award is designed with one purpose in mind: Pass this on to other bloggers who have awarded you in the past.

Return the love!

The Nominees:

Kristen over at Bookworming in the 21st Century

Misty over at Book Rat

Zia over at My Life in Not So Many Words

Pixie, Stacey, Sophie and Jess over at Page Turners...Better Underneath the Covers

Lori (sugarandgrits) over at Some of My Favorite Things

Thank you all for the love you've shown me and my little blog, you all deserve all the praise, accolades and free books you can get!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

In My Mailbox

Yesterday was a wonderful day for my mailbox. Happy unbridled joy at finding not one but two books waiting for me! One was completely unexpected and the other was a wonderful treat. The first reason for exclamations of joy is I received an ARC of Elizabeth Kostova's The Swan Thieves from Little Brown! (Yes, I know, the exclamation marks are going to get old, but as Terry Pratchett would say: "Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind," and I have never said that I'm of sound mind). I've been impatiently waiting for her to write another book since The Historian came out four years ago and January looked too far away. Yeah for ARCs is all I have to say, can't wait to sink my teeth into this book. Art, tormented geniuses, sign me up!

The other arrival was Marissa Doyle's Betraying Season, direct from the author! I was beyond lucky to win this from her blog last week, in an unprecedented event (ie, I never win any books from all the competitions I enter). But what is beyond cool, the cool part being it was signed to me, Miss Eliza, the beyond cool part was the awesome door hanger, that says "Her Ladyship is Engaged." I so want to just hang this around my neck and everytime someone tries to interupt my reading just point to the sign. Might get old to some people, but it would always be priceless to me! You should be sure to check out this, as well as her previous Leland Sisters novel, Bewitching Season. Reviews shall be forthcoming soon...I hope to go on a reading binge here...determinded in fact! There's just too many good books out there and I'm determined to make the time.

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