Saturday, July 31, 2010

Happy Birthday Harry!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Book Review - J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Published by: Arthur A. Levine Books
Publication Date: July 21st, 2007
Format: Hardcover, 784 Pages
Challenge: Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy
Dumbledore is dead. Harry will not return to Hogwarts. With Ron and Hermione by his side he must destroy the final Horcruxes so that when Voldemort dies he truly dies. Problem is... what are the other Horcruxes? Dumbledore is dead and left them very strange parting gifts, from a Golden Snitch, to a Deluminator, to The Tales of Beedle the Bard in the original runes. With the trio unable to tell or rely on outside help they are cut off and at a loss as to what needs to be done. The casualties are heavy, during their first escape, Mad Eye and Hedwig are dead. Soon after the ministry falls and Harry becomes the number one target. So of course, when they realize that one of the Horcruxes is in the ministry, they blatantly, but with much planning, break into the ministry. With two previous Horcruxes destroyed during Harry's time at Hogwarts, they now have a third... but how to destroy it and how to find the rest? Stealthily moving about the country they have close calls and infighting. But as time presses on, there is hope. In a race to the finish, anyone could win, but hopefully it will be Harry.

Everyone I know has read Harry Potter, so recapping a plot that is so much a part of literary history seems trite. So instead, I'll do more of the talking and less of the summarizing. Firstly, I find it interesting, that Rowling so broke from the mold of her previous books. Each book was set up around the school year with the holiday breaks and such. But here, there is no school, there is no routine that we have grown to know and love. There is one encounter, one Horcrux after the other. Each section almost radically different that the previous. We have the happy homemakers and Grimmauld Place planning what amounts to Potter's Three (you know, like Ocean's Eleven). Then we have them hiding in the woods. Then there's the Dickensian "Ghosts of Christmas Past." Each section different but so fabulous in it's own way that you don't want it to end. But what I find fascinating is the whole dissection of the life of Albus Dumbledore. His continual barrage by the media makes Harry question everything he knew about the man, even the mission he set him on. I wonder, if J.K. Rowling hadn't become famous if she would have been able to successfully show the effect the media has on someone. Since day one Harry was set up as a celebrity and a hero, someone who the newspapers craved to hear and read about. But it was these books that made Rowling famous in a way similar to what Harry experienced in his world. If this had not happened would it have been as convincing? I'm not saying that these experiences necessarily changed her plotting of the book or what she intended to do. But perhaps it was the viciousness of attacks and this omnipresence in her life that lead her to see how easily your opinion of someone can change just by what's being said true or false. Harry's doubt of Dumbledore is a big theme, in fact perhaps the biggest, in Deathly Hallows. One I think born of a truth that J.K. Rowling learned the hard way. It doesn't matter what you were, it's what people say about you once you're gone. While this isn't how it really is, it's the love that came before, it's hard to remember that love sometimes. And that's what it comes down to in the end. Love. Voldemort, like the deceitful press, just tears down everything and everyone, but if you can remember that love, you have the most powerful magic of all.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Book Review - J.K. Rowling's Tales of Beedle the Bard

Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
Published by: Children's High Level Group
Publication Date: December 4th, 2008
Format: Hardcover, 180 Pages
Challenge: Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy (different edition than one reviewed)

It's hard to review a book of short stories, in that their brevity makes summary almost a spoiler. This compilation by J.K. Rowling helps us delve further into the world of Harry Potter by providing us the book that was not only Hermione's legacy from Albus Dumbledore, but also the key to unlocking Voldemort's downfall. While some people are apt to shove it into the category of her two throw away charity books, Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, this would be shortchanging the wonder of this book. Everytime you think, wouldn't it be wonderful to be a student at Hogwarts or live in the Waizarding world, you hit the roadblock or "but it's fiction." But with this book within a book, which is written just as well as the series, you feel like you're holding proof of Harry Potter's existence. These are the stories the wizarding children were raised on, these are like the Brothers Grimm are to Muggles. Especially with the limited edition, which is now sadly out of print, you get the thrill of an olde tyme book with metal and leather, where each corner depicts on of the four new stores in metal. In fact, the only fault I have with this book is that it only has four stories we haven't heard, because "The Tale of the Three Brothers" was in Deathly Hallows. All the stories Ron references in that book are in this book... though Dumbledore mentions a goat story that is suspiciously absent... But it's Dumbledore who raises the bar. His notes not only add further back story and nuance to Deathly Hallows, but it also adds a level of humor that embodied Dumbledore. His story of the one failed pantomime and Hogwarts for "The Fountain of Fair Fortune" is hilarious, and that alone makes this book a must read!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

To A Certain Birthday Boy...

A certain brave and valient hero is having his birthday this week. I'm sure he holds a special place in all your hearts as he does in mine for his defeating The Dark Lord. So what if he's "technically" fictional. As Terry Pratchett (who incidentally is not the biggest fan) said "somewhere, all stories are real and all dreams come true." So three cheers for Harry Potter! The one, the only, boy who lived!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

In My Mailbox!

Today I received the coolest most lusted after (by me) book in my mailbox. The new Terry Pratchett book! Not only is he my favorite author, but it's the fourth and final installment in the Tiffany Aching series, which is my favorite of his Discworld arcs. Well, I could stay and chat, but I really need to get over to Discworld for some quality time. Keep an eye out for what's coming up in September... it could be a Terry Pratchett theme month... just saying...

The Guild: Game On

On the heels of their success with "Do You Want to Date My Avatar," we get another new music video from The Guild! I only wish we had gotten a new epiosde as well... but we did get this cool poster, and I think it aptly conveys Felicia's love of Scottish Romances.
<a href="" target="_new" title="Season 4 - Music Video - "Game On"">Video: Season 4 - Music Video - "Game On"</a>

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tuesday Tomorrow

Star Island by Carl Hiaasen
Published by: Knopf
Publication Date: July 27th, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Meet twenty-two-year-old Cherry Pye (née Cheryl Bunterman), a pop star since she was fourteen—and about to attempt a comeback from her latest drug-and-alcohol disaster.

Now meet Cherry again: in the person of her “undercover stunt double,” Ann DeLusia. Ann portrays Cherry whenever the singer is too “indisposed”—meaning wasted—to go out in public. And it is Ann-mistaken-for-Cherry who is kidnapped from a South Beach hotel by obsessed paparazzo Bang Abbott.

Now the challenge for Cherry’s handlers (über–stage mother; horndog record producer; nipped, tucked, and Botoxed twin publicists; weed whacker–wielding bodyguard) is to rescue Ann while keeping her existence a secret from Cherry’s public—and from Cherry herself.

The situation is more complicated than they know. Ann has had a bewitching encounter with Skink—the unhinged former governor of Florida living wild in a mangrove swamp—and now he’s heading for Miami to find her . . .

Will Bang Abbott achieve his fantasy of a lucrative private photo session with Cherry Pye? Will Cherry sober up in time to lip-synch her way through her concert tour? Will Skink track down Ann DeLusia before Cherry’s motley posse does?

All will be revealed in this hilarious spin on life in the celebrity fast lane. "

I'm loath to admit it, but I've never read and Hiaasen... however, this book looks like a fun, summery beach read and it might just break my no read streak.

Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong
Published by: Dutton
Publication Date: July 27th, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Armstrong's 11th Otherworld urban fantasy, her first book for Penguin since 2003's Stolen, sends two paranormal investigators to the small town of Columbus, Wash. Savannah Levine, a 21-year-old witch from Portland, Ore., who's itching to pursue her first solo case, teams up with half-demon PI Jesse Aanes to look into three slayings with supernatural overtones. Savannah, who displays an appealing mix of toughness and vulnerability, figures she can blast her way to the truth, but matters get complicated fast when her powers keep deserting her at key moments and more bodies pile up. Armstrong skillfully juggles her twisty plot, weaving in characters from previous novels as she builds to a fast-paced conclusion. This supernatural mystery is unabashedly aimed at fans of Charlaine Harris and Stephenie Meyer, and may well hit the mark."

How does Kelley Armstrong do it!?! How many books has she put out this year? It's just insane.

Cast in Chaos by Michelle Saga
Published by: Luna
Publication Date: July 27th, 2010
Format: Paperback, 384 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Kaylin Neya is a Hawk, part of the elite force tasked with keeping the City of Elantra safe. Her past is dark, her magic uncontrolled and her allies unpredictable. And nothing has prepared her for what is coming, when the charlatans on Elani Street suddenly grow powerful, the Oracles are thrown into an uproar and the skies rain blood….
The powerful of Elantra believe that the mysterious markings on Kaylin's skin hold the answer, and they are not averse to using her—how ever they have to—in order to discover what it is.

Something is coming, breaking through the barriers between the worlds. But is it a threat that Kaylin needs to defend her city against—or has she been chosen for another reason entirely? "

I just recently picked up the first in the series and I love to see that it's still going strong, because once I immerse myself in a book series I just want it to keep going!

Heat Wave by Richard Castle
Published by: Hyperion
Publication Date: July 27th, 2010
Format: Paperback, 224 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"A New York real estate tycoon plunges to his death on a Manhattan sidewalk. A trophy wife with a past survives a narrow escape from a brazen attack. Mobsters and moguls with no shortage of reasons to kill trot out their alibis. And then, in the suffocating grip of a record heat wave, comes another shocking murder and a sharp turn in a tense journey into the dirty little secrets of the wealthy. Secrets that prove to be fatal. Secrets that lay hidden in the dark until one NYPD detective shines a light.

Mystery sensation Richard Castle, blockbuster author of the wildly best-selling Derrick Storm novels, introduces his newest character, NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat. Tough, sexy, professional, Nikki Heat carries a passion for justice as she leads one of New York City's top homicide squads. She's hit with an unexpected challenge when the commissioner assigns superstar magazine journalist Jameson Rook to ride along with her to research an article on New York's Finest. PulitzerPrize-winning Rook is as much a handful as he is handsome. His wise-cracking and meddling aren't her only problems. As she works to unravel the secrets of the murdered real estate tycoon, she must also confront the spark between them. The one called heat."

I love Castle. I love that his creation, Nikki Heat has found it's way from the small screen into book form. If you haven't picked it up yet (you crazy "mass market people you") go get it now before Naked Heat this fall!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Big Bang

I love Steven Moffat. He takes part one in this huge, epic, Russell T. Davies holiday spectacular direction where every villain ever is on hand and then he brings it in and makes the final part just about the core characters. No Daleks, no Cybermen, just River, Rory, Amy and The Doctor. We get some nice wibbly wobbly timey whimy with a Fez no less and the most epic display of love ever. Rory watched over Amy for thousands of years!!! He's just perfect. Plus, we get both Amys together and penguins of the Sahara (really, just watch Confidential to see how funny those museum displays are, because otherwise it will pass you by.) But underneath all that, The Doctor weaves in his story like a fairy tale into the dreams of young Amy to secure his return and to fill her house full of empty rooms. Plus, next season we have a Mr. and Mrs. travelling aboard the TARDIS! I hope Arthur Darvill gets a bump up to regular, as in his name in a nice swirly time vortex, it's the least he should get after waiting all those years... but does Rory know about that if he was actually a robot at the time? Ah, questions, questions, and we still have the silence to contend with. Also we must not forget, The Doctor has some shopping to do, he after all wants another Fez.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

How Much Did You Read?

So, not as productive reading-wise as the last readathon, but the few books I read were awesome. How have you done? This past week I've been participating in Kristen's Huge TBR Readathon (Mac 2, as I refer to it) over at Bookworming in the 21st Century, and while not the quantity of the last readathon, I really had lots of fun. Plus, being in a book minded mood, thanks to said readathon, two of the days, when I had a headache and didn't feel up to reading, I cleaned my books and organized shelves, which has been a long time in the coming!

So what have I read you ask?
Hare-Raising Tale: A Fletcher Mystery and The Principal's on the Roof: A Fletcher Mystery by Elizabeth Levy (a sort of revisioning of my favorite series as a kid, the Something Queer Mysteries, for a younger audience, also a slightly more "pc" series title.)

Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett (The 23 Discworld novel and the 6th Witches novel, I just love Terry Pratchett and there's nothing I love better than the Witches, so a perfect read!)

Vertigo by Boileau-Narcejac (Otherwise known as Enter the Dead, this was the inspiration for Hitchcock's classic Vertigo and I have been curious to read it for many years. It was interesting, but I will always love the film more... and for more Hitchcock, wait till next month is all I'm going to say...)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Book Review - Carola Dunn's Death at Wentwater Court

Death at Wentwater Court (Daisy Dalrymple Book 1) by Carola Dunn
Published by: Kensington
Publication Date: 1994
Format: Paperback, 252 Pages
Challenge: Typically British, Thriller and Suspense, 1st in Series
Rating: ★★★
To Buy
Daisy Dalrymple, despite being an "honourable" has decided to ditch the title and make a name for herself as a writer (and photographer, cause she really needs the money). She's on her way to Wentwater Court, where her title did happen to wrangle her an invite, to feature the house for Town and Country. On a crisp January day she arrives to see Lord James Beddowe, the Earl of Wentwater's eldest son ice skating with his sister Majorie, his fiance Fenella and Fenella's brother Phillip. Poor Phillip, still perpetually in love with Daisy. Once Daisy arrives in the house she is introduced to an even greater assortment of characters. There's the Earl himself, his gorgeous but extremely young new bride, Annabel, and his other children, the gambling Wilfred and the sporty Geoffry. Not to mention his sister and her husband, Lady Josephone and Sir Hugh. But the odd one out is really Lord Stephen Astwick, who is neither a relative or apparently a friend of anyone there. In fact he seems to be a bit predatory towards Annabel, which is not going down well with the others. After a tour and some ancestral gossip from Lady Josephine, the family convene for a family portrait then dinner. It is a rather awkward and dour affair and eventually, after a rubber or two, they all troop off to bed, Lord Stephen proudly proclaiming that he will be up at dawn to ice skate as part of his exercise regime. But come morning, when the others go to skate, it's Lord Stephen's body that is discovered half submerged in the icy lake. Daisy, head firmly planted on shoulders, decides she should take pictures of the accident scene, for the police, should they need them. After many protests as to whether the police should be called or not, a detective Alec Fletcher arrives direct from the jewel heist he is investigating at nearby Flatford. It transpires that Daisy was very forward thinking in taking those pictures, because they show not a man who accidentally fell through the ice, but a man who fell through a whole that had been cropped in the ice with an axe. Daisy then helps the dishy Alec get to the bottom of who killed Lord Stephen, when apparently everyone had a motive! Annabel was being blackmailed, Wilfred owed him money, Majorie was jealous of his attentions to Annabel, and the Earl watched it all.

In the classic style of Agatha Christie we have a country house murder where everyone's a suspect and one of them has to be the murderer. Set at a languid pace, once you get a hold of the unwieldy number of characters and their basic relationship to each other and the victim the story really gripes you. At times I think even the author realizes her unwieldy cast, due to the repetition of their motives and where they were when the crime happened. Set between the wars we have a heroine who lost her love on the front lines, a trope used in many of these types of story, look at Maisie Dobbs. We also have the dashing detective who, for some reason, trusts and is drawn to the heroine and views her as a confidant and confederate. Besides this love interest the story moves apace with enough red herrings and new evidence to keep you guessing. But it's the ending that takes the cake. I did not see it coming, and not that it's shocking, but the way it is handled and what happens to the guilty party I think are what make this book stand out from the pack and made it a truly memorable read for me. Even if I have now developed a bizarre desire to speak only in colloquialisms from the 20s and 30s I heartily recommend it. So, read this jolly good book if you're a fan of English cozies because you shan't be disappointed. It's a spiffing good time. Toodle Pip!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Book Review - G.P. Taylor's The First Escape

The First Escape, Dopple Ganger Chronicles Book 1 by G.P. Taylor
Published by: Tyndale
Publication Date: 2008
Format: Paperback, 282 Pages
Challenge: Typically British, 1st in Series
Rating: ★★★
To Buy
Sadie and Saskia Dopple are the queens of the Isambard Dunstan School for Wayward Children. They rule all the girls in the orphanage with cunning and ruthlessness. Until one day the headmistress is a little more crafty then they. Saskia gets adopted by one Muzz Elliott, who will have one or none. Being a prestigious donor to the home, she gets her wish and the twins are separated, much to the headmistresses delight. So Sadie stays behind while Saskia goes to live in the mysterious home of Muzz Elliott out on Hampstead Heath, were she is given her own room in the tower where she mustn't ever answer the phone. Meanwhile, back at the orphanage, one of Sadie's pranks badly backfires and she's locked up for the night without food or water. But the school's only boy, and odd job man, overhears the mistress saying that Sadie will be off to prison for her stunt, so Erik Ganger risks his neck and releases Sadie so that they can flee across the Heath to Saskia. Of course a rescue can never be as easy as that when you flee across Hampstead Heath at night with bloodhounds baying at your heels and a psychotic magician named The Great Potemkin offering concealment, if you'll only help with one little experimental magic trick, that may or may not kill you. But things aren't going well for Saskia either. There's a mysterious painting she may not look at, a seance to recover a lost fortune and a Muzz Elliott Doppelganger out to kill them all. How will these three kids reunite and save the day?

I was hesitant to pick up this book due to my hatred of G.P. Taylor's Shadowmancer. But I was finally worn down by the pretty cover and the graphic, comic book style combined with chapter writing, in the vein of Hugo Cabret. I am very glad that I did. It was a fun, visual feast with a witty, almost Dickensian story of lost inheritances, mistaken identities, evil twins and ever so polite ghosts. It was an amazingly fast read and I find it amazing that with three separate artists, there is a very nice cohesiveness to the whole book, as if only one person had drawn it. Like Hugo Cabret, I was a bit thrown my the "real" image thrown in in the middle of the book. Why throw in this reality in a world of ink and linework? I don't know, it was off in that book and this one, so please, if someone who is planning on doing this in a book, just don't. I also applaud this new medium that is coming to the forefront. As a bridge between comics and chapter books I think it will encourage hesitant readers to risk moving on from just comics. But more importantly, it's just so beautiful and gorgeous, it's wonderful to see what can be done in this medium if you're willing to push the boundaries. More please! I guess that means I should go out and grab the sequel right?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Guild Season 4 Episode 2: Strange Allies

<a href="" target="_new" title="Episode 2: Strange Allies">Video: Episode 2: Strange Allies</a>

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Huge TBR Readathon Mac 2

My friend Kristen over at Bookworming in the 21st Century is having yetanother huge readathon starting today and going through till Friday. Seeing as I had so much fun the first time around, I can't say no now can I? So here's to reading and here's to beating my last goal!

When: Monday July 19th until Friday, July 25th!
Where: Here! Or on your own blog.
What do I have to do? Read, read read. Kristen's designating Friday as her Review-a-thon. Join her on Friday in reviewing all the great books you've read or ones that are in your backlog.

Tuesday Tomorrow

The Fool's Girl by Celia Rees
Published by: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: July 20th, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 416 Pages
The official patter:
"A lush, epic historical novel by bestseller Celia Rees, with an added Shakespearean twist. Young and beautiful Violetta may be of royal blood, but her kingdom is in shambles when she arrives in London on a mysterious mission. Her journey has been long and her adventures many, but it is not until she meets the playwright William Shakespeare that she gets to tell the entire story from beginning to end. Violetta and her comic companion, Feste, have come in search of an ancient holy relic that the evil Malvolio has stolen from their kingdom. But where will their remarkable quest—and their most unusual story—lead? In classic Celia Rees style, it is an engrossing journey, full of political intrigue, danger, and romance.

This wholly original story is spun from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and includes both folly and suspense that would make the Bard proud."

A Shakespearean favorite with a new spin! Count me sold!

Dracula, My Love by Syrie James
Published by: Harper Collins
Publication Date: July 20th, 2010
Format: Paperback, 480 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Who is this magnetic, fascinating man? And how could one woman fall so completely under his spell?

Mina Harker is torn between two men. Struggling to hang on to the deep, pure love she's found within her marriage to her husband, Jonathan, she is inexorably drawn into a secret, passionate affair with a charismatic but dangerous lover. This haunted and haunting creature has awakened feelings and desires within her that she has never before known, which remake her as a woman.

Although everyone she knows fears him and is pledged to destroy him, Mina sees a side to him that the others cannot: a tender, romantic side; a man who's taken full advantage of his gift of immortality to expand his mind and talents; a man who is deeply in love, and who may not be evil after all. Yet to surrender is surely madness, for to be with him could end her life. It may cost Mina all she holds dear, but to make her choice she must learn everything she can about the remarkable origins and sensuous powers of this man, this exquisite monster, this . . . Dracula!"

Yet another account of Dracula from Mina's point of view... oh well, at least with Syrie James it should be better written than most.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Pandorica Opens

Ok, so apparently every baddie in time and space is decending on the Pandorica which is under Stonehenge, aka "Underhenge", because it's been built to trap The Doctor, which I kind of saw coming. But you've got to give it to Steven Moffat, he's told to bring in the baddies, he does it in style. Every baddy EVER, from Torchwood to Sarah Jane, they are all there. There are Weevils in their jumpers in Underhenge! It kind of warms the cockles of my heart. But really, with all these Romans and Rory's reappearance, because of course he had to reappear, because otherwise, I would be hunting down Steven Moffat across all of time and space myself, nothing, and I repeat, nothing, compares to River Song convincing some faux Romans that she's Cleopatra, despite Cleopatra being dead in Rome. Well... maybe her defacing the oldest cliff face in existence to get The Doctors attention. But with all two parters, we'll have to see... you can't get much bigger of an ending than this, I mean every baddy ever? Plus, Amy's kind of dead, Rory's kind of made of Plastic and The Doctor is in a giant puzzle box... well it can only go up right?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Book Review - Jackson Pearce's Sisters Red

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
ARC Provided by Little Brown
Published by: Little Brown
Publication Date: June 7th, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
Challenge: 1st in Series
Rating: ★★
To Buy
The March sisters, so alike as if to be one heart in two bodies, lost everything the day the Fenris came. Their grandmother, their futures, and Scarlett's eye. Years later Scarlett and Rosie carry on fighting, luring the wolves and killing them till they become the dust of dark shadows. Building on the knowledge that Pa Reynolds taught them they are determined to fight, to save the ignorant flighty girls, nicknamed dragonflies by Scarlett. Pa's son Silas used to help, but he has since taken a sabbatical in San Francisco. But one day after his 21st birthday Silas returns. He's there to help, but not everything turns out as it should. Due to the rising murders in Atlanta they decide to take the fight to the Fenris, versus waiting for them on a dusty road in the hopes that they can kill enough. But in taking them to Atlanta Silas is showing that there is a greater world out there, a world where Rosie might be able to have a future away from the fight, away from her sister's scars and perhaps with Silas. With a wedge forming between them, they continue the fight. But with their red capes and mangled faces, they don't stand a chance to the lure of the dragonfly girls queuing up in front of the nightclubs. But it appears that while the March's have a plan, so do the Fenris. It's their time to claim another. A Potential Fenris would be a mighty lure for the rest. Perhaps this is the bait that Scarlett needs to win the ongoing war. But when things become personal, will any of them survive?

Sisters Red is a predictable and drawn out book which is worthy of two stars just for the basic fact it was refreshing to see evil werewolves again. I have many issues with this book, starting with who the hell wears a red cape!?! I know that this is to be a feminist, kick ass retelling of "Red Riding Hood," but please, update for the modernity that this book so obviously wanted to cram onto a traditional tale. A top, a skirt, anything! Also these wolves have to be really dumb to not spot the red cloak and wonder, that's an interesting fashion statement, but apparently they just get turned on by the red. But the thing that really got me was the use of stereotypes of femininity to lure the Fenris. They make such a big deal of basically slutting themselves up with tight clothes and perfume and swishing the cape and their hips just so I wanted to harm Jackson Pearce. There's Buffy on one end of the spectrum, kicking ass and being herself. Then on the other end, we have the March sisters, playing a disgustingly stereotypical part to kill. I really can't say why this bothered me so much, but I think that it being a Young Adult book and showing all the girls as either flighty sluts or killing machines with no in between seemed wrong. The females were one or the other, no in between, well, maybe Rosie is the in between. But it's not like she's really both. She could be, Silas is trying to show her this through outside experiences, but in the end, she's just like the rest of the non-hunters. Also, has no one learned anything with "potentials," ie, future slayers, future Fenris, equals boring. End verdict, I should have stopped reading because I saw then end long before it happened and I need to remember not to be drawn in by the pretty pretty covers. Needless to say, I won't be picking up the sequel.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Book Review - Jerome Peterson's The Haunting of Andrew Sharpai

The Haunting of Andrew Sharpai by Jerome Peterson
Published by: Eloquent
Book Provided by the Author
Publication Date: February 21st, 2010
Format: Paperback, 310 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy
Andrew Sharpai is haunted by the life he lost. Tormented by the lose of his love LaRae and his glamorous lifestyle in Vegas he flees to Idaho. There he spends his time either lost in a bottle or cooking at Denny's in a monotonous routine. Eventually Andrew realizes something has to give and he decides that perhaps a hobby to take him out of himself would be a good idea. Remembering a story LaRae had told him about Jesus being a gardener, he decides to sink his hands into mother earth and perhaps grow something. The winter is long and cold, but come spring he sees evidence of the new life he helped to bring forth and he is now bitten by the proverbial bug all thanks to Harry and his nursery. Racing back to tell Harry the good news he is drawn to a young woman working at the nursery, Iris Winkle. With her pentagram necklace and her freckled though shockingly scarred face, Andrew sees someone worth living for. His courtship of Iris soon starts, undeterred by her visible scars and her young daughter, Lily. But soon Andrew hears the rumors about Iris and her witchy ways. While most say that Iris is evil and her ex Devon even more so, Andrew just can't see Iris as anything but a good witch. Soon things start to get weird though and Andrew can't help but listen to the townsfolk and think maybe they were right. Could a woman with a pet crow named Elijah Corbu and an ex capable of bringing horrifying sounds on the wind really be the answer Andrew has been looking for since LaRae's death? Embracing Iris and her life they decide to flee Devon and his influences and desires, one of which is Iris's daughter Lily. Moving to Colorado they think that they have moved beyond Devon's grasp. But Devon's might is stronger than they ever thought and this time he isn't playing games. Death follows and Andrew has to make many choices, hoping that he chooses the right ones.

Jerome Peterson's characters are on a journey of discovery. They are constantly trying to evolve into better people. But he has a knack of showing how hard these choices are. You can't choose who you fall in love with, but you can question it. To have lost a love it is even harder to embrace new love when it comes. Andrew never stops loving LaRae because of Iris and Lily, he is constantly struggling with it. He is haunted by all that LaRae was. But with the added element of witchcraft, we not only have a haunting of the heart, we have a physical and psychological haunting as well. The way that Jerome writes his environments and characters they have a way of leaping off the page, wherein  you end up fully inhabiting their world. You believe in the magic and mystery of this world, whether or not you believe in magic in your day to day life. The struggle of the trio daily fighting with the unknown forces propels you through the book, making you detest the idea of placing it aside till you know the outcome. With the nebulous forces against them and Devon's designs on Lily, as well as the aspects of The Black Mass, I was strongly reminded of Rosemary's Baby and other fare of the sixties and seventies. This book has that iconic feel of good versus evil played out on a small scale with the same suspense that keeps you rushing to the end. Fans of the ongoing search and struggle of man as well as those who need a little mystery should pick this book up today, though it will be harder to put it down.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Season 4

After some technical difficulties on my part I can proudly proclaim: The Guild is Back!!!!! (And yes, five exclamation points, a sign of a truly unbalanced mind!)

<a href="" target="_new" title="Season 4 - Episode 1 - Epic Guilt">Video: Season 4 - Episode 1 - Epic Guilt</a>

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tuesday Tomorrow

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
Published by: Scholastic
Publication Date: July 13th, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole. At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love -- the light and the dark, the warm and the cold -- in a way you will never forget."

Guess what books release has been moved up a week? Guess who's freaking out? Everyone in the blogisphere that is! Yeah for publishers!

Johannes Cabal the Detective by Jonathan L. Howard
Published by: Doubleday
Publication Date: July 13th, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"In this genre-twisting novel, infamous necromancer Johannes Cabal, after beating the Devil and being reunited with his soul, leads us on another raucous journey in a little-known corner of the world. This time he's on the run from the local government.

Stealing the identity of a minor bureaucrat, Cabal takes passage on the Princess Hortense, a passenger aeroship that is leaving the country. The deception seems perfect, and Cabal looks forward to a quiet trip and a clean escape, until he comes face-to-face with Leonie Barrow, an enemy from the old days who could blow his cover. But when a fellow passenger throws himself to his death, or at least that is how it appears, Cabal begins to investigate out of curiosity. His minor efforts result in a vicious attempt on his own life--and then the gloves..."

I know I shouldn't be swayed by covers, but... pretty, me want!

Cleopatara's Daughter by Michelle Moran
Published by: Three Rivers Press
Publication Date: July 13th, 2010
Format: Paperback, 464 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"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; 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.

The fateful tale of Selene and Alexander is brought brilliantly to life in Cleopatra's Daughter. Recounted in Selene's youthful..."

Again, I don't know how you freaks who are able to survive waiting for paperback releases... but if you are, new Michelle Moran in paperback, which you should be dying for ever since my Michelle Moran Week last year!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Lodger

In the "diversion" episode before the final, like such memorable episodes as Blink and Turn Left, we get an episode that is not your usual fare. Amy is trapped in a half materialized TARDIS while The Doctor poses as a lodger to get close to the weird things that are going in the area, ie, the weird things that are messing with the TARDIS.  Plus we get the fabulous guest star, James Corden of Gavin and Stacey fame. We have your basic lovebirds who can't commit side story all the while The Doctor is showing his oddities more then ever. Because, have we ever really scene The Doctor in a more "normal" setting? He has his own room! He showers! Plus there's the cooking, the cleaning, the football and the reference of the Archbishop of Canterbury! While yes, the love story is beyond sweet and it's their love that saves the Earth, it's The Doctor that makes this episode shine, especially when he thinks that learning to cook in the 17th century was probably recent enough!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Book Review - Nick Hornby's Not A Star

Not a Star by Nick Hornby
Published by: GemmaMedia Open Door
Publication Date: October 1, 2009
Format: Paperback, 69 Pages
Challenge: Typically British
Rating: ★★★

What if one day you found out your average, mundane, humdrum son, who you've never had high expectations for, who you never expected anything out of, turns out to excel in porn, not for acting ability, but due to a certain anatomical part? And what if you learned this from the nosiest neighbor you know? That's exactly what happens to Lynn one day when she learns her son Mark is the star of a film entitled Meet the Fuckers. At first thinking there has to be a mistake, she soon learns that it is in fact true, and yes, she watched it. But what to do with this new found unwelcome information? Should she tell her husband Dave? And how to talk to her son about this? Also where did he get this special "ability." Going from Lynn's reactions to her eventual acceptance, she realizes that this secret might have just made their family a little closer.

A very short little story from Nick Hornby, which I view are usually his best. He seems to have issues with endings never fully meeting the expectations of the preceding story. But this doesn't seem to happen in his shorter fiction, and this is short at only 69 pages. It was an interesting look into an apparently normal and boring family who, it turns out, isn't really that boring at all. Nick Hornby has such a knack for writing about the average person that you get a real connection with the characters, even in this slim volume, you like Lynn and her family. There are bigger issues touched on, one that I don't feel was satisfactorily resolved was Mark's girlfriend's ignorance of his job. But overall a quick read by a great writer, but only to be read if you like your humor a little dark and aren't afraid of a few dirty words. If you want to see Nick Hornby at his peak of short story writing, check out Speaking with the Angel and his story "Nipple Jesus."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Book Review - Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Published by: Wally Lamb Books
Publication Date: July 14th 2009
Format: Hardcover, 197 Pages
Rating: ★★★
To Buy
Miranda's life seems pretty normal, until her best friend Sal gets punched by Marcus, even if she didn't know the kids name was Marcus till later. After that everything changes. Sal will no longer speak to her, so she now has to walk home alone, everyday, past the crazy guy on the corner. She would be very isolated if it wasn't for her new friend Annemarie and her battered copy of A Wrinkle in Time. But slowly something bizarre and almost sinister happens. Anonymous and cryptic notes start arriving foretelling death and doom. Notes that with each appearance make Miranda realize this stranger knows way too much about her life. But can Miranda figure out who will die and why before it's too late?

I am truly at a lose as to why this book won the Newbury. Last year The Graveyard Book was right on, complex and interesting. This book was simplistic and it felt dated, like it was not just set in the seventies, but written in the seventies, and not in a good way. Plus can we say dense heroine! I can only assume that the librarians felt an overwhelming sense of nostalgia for all the Wrinkle in Time correlations and references that they thought it should win. Personally, I never liked A Wrinkle in Time, despite having read it many times I just don't get what there is about it that keeps people coming back. Then again, maybe everyone's just going back and re-reading it to see why everyone's talking about it making it some bizarre loop appropriate for this book. The fact that Miranda could not grasp the basics of time travel, even though she's read A Wrinkle in Time millions of times makes her irredeemable as a heroine. They had Doctor Who in the seventies, she can't be this thick. I can't believe children, who in this day and age have grown up with Harry Potter and the time-turner, could stand her not grasping the simplest ideas of time travel and having to sit through explanations that a kindergartner could grasp. I really just wanted to smack her upside the head and go wibbly wobbly timey wimey bitch. Sorry for the profanity, but I think she needs a right old smack down.

But I haven't gotten to what really bugged me, and this would be aside from the dentist's office being in the school, wtf really. Let's go back to a book I hate. I know other's love it, I just don't. This book being The Time Traveller's Wife. This was truly The Time Traveller's Wife written for children. All great deeds and true love and yadda, yadda, didn't like it then, and I sure as hell didn't like a dumbed down version of it. Right about now you're probably thinking, and why did she give it three stars? Because it was fast, and even if it was predictable, linearly convoluted with an annoying character who loves a book I don't, I still had some kernel of fun reading it. Award winning? Not in my book. But it's a quick read if you want something to divert you for an hour or two. Plus love and self sacrifice, not bad themes to promote.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tuesday Tomorrow

Undead and Unfinished by Mary Janice Davidson
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: July 6th, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Vampire Queen Betsy Taylor is fed up of trying to decipher the strange things prophesied in The Book of the Dead. At the end of her tether, she strikes a deal with Satan who promises to help - if she and her half-sister Laura pay a visit to Hell. Hell, it would seem, is more terrifying than Betsy could have ever imagined - a waiting room with bad carpeting, re-runs of 70s TV shows and ancient Good Housekeeping magazines. But when Betsy and Laura find themselves catapulted back and forth through time, they realize they could seriously screw everything up for good..."

This books are so popular, you think we could get some better cover art seriously!?!

Twice Bitten: A Chicagoland Vampire Novel by Chloe Neill
Published by: NAL Trade
Publication Date: July 6th, 2010
Format: Paperback, 368 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Shapeshifters from across the country are convening in the Windy City, and as a gesture of peace, Master Vampire Ethan Sullivan has offered their leader a very special bodyguard: Merit, Chicago's newest vampire. Merit is supposed to protect the Alpha, Gabriel Keene-and to spy for the vamps while she's at it. Oh, and luckily Ethan's offering some steamy, one-on-one combat training sessions to help her prepare for the mission.

Unfortunately, someone is gunning for Gabriel, and Merit soon finds herself in the line of fire. She'll need all the help she can get to track down the would-be assassin, but everywhere she turns, there are rising tensions between supernaturals-not least between her and a certain green-eyed, centuries-old master vampire."

Been wanting to read this series for awhile. Vampires, in Chicago, what more could I want?

Suck it Wonder Woman!: The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek by Olivia Munn
Published by: St, Martin's Press
Publication Date: July 6th, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 288 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"In this hilarious collection you'll find essays like “thought’s About My First Agent’s Girlfriend’s Vagina,” wherein Olivia skewers what it’s like to live in Hollywood. In “Sex: What You Can Do to Help Yourself Have More of It,” she frankly gets down to the business of getting it on, including advice on how to appropriately wrap it and bag it. In “What to Do When the Robots Invade (Yes, When!),” Olivia offers valuable information on . . . what to do when the robots invade! And just when you thought she couldn’t get any more geeky, she can. This book also includes such handy treasures as a timeline of great moments in Geek history, a flip book, an unofficial FAQ section, and a nifty (read: smokin') foldout poster.

Suck It, Wonder Woman! brings Olivia Munn’s unique humor, incredible wit, and lightning-fast costume changes to a world that needs more scrapbooking, sea monkeys, and for the love of God, a freakin' hoverboard!"

If this book is even half as funny as Munn is on AOTS then you're in for a treat. Also, I gotta say, love the title! I hope that G4 is smart enough not to drop her because of her rising fame and go with Allison, who is good and all, but she doesn't have the same on air patter as Olivia does with Kevin.

My Way to Hell by Dakota Cassidy
Published by: Berkley Trade
Publication Date: July 6th, 2010
Format: Paperback, 366 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"After defying Lucifer to save her best friend Delaney, ex-demon Marcella Acosta has been banished to exist in the plane between heaven and hell-and there isn't a shopping mall in sight. After numerous failed attempts to contact Delaney through a bunch of hack mediums, Marcella's at her wit's end. But there's one medium she's hasn't tried yet, and he just happens to be Delaney's scorching hot brother Kellen- the one guy who never gave Marcella the time of day. "

Love the books, love the covers! Fun times.

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