Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Review: Neil Flambe and the Marco Polo Murders by Kevin Sylvester

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Key Porter Books; 1st edition edition (Feb 18 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1554702666
ISBN-13: 978-1554702664

Product Description:

Neil FlambĂ© is a fourteen-year-old wunderchef. He can cook anything, and he brags that he can cook it better than anyone else. He`s cocky, but he may also be right. Patrons pay top dollar and wait months for reservations at his tiny, boutique restaurant. What many of Neil’s patrons don’t know is that he’s also a budding detective. It all started when he used his knowledge of cooking and his incredible sense of smell to acquit his mother’s client of murder. Ever since, Police Inspector Sean Nakamura has relied on Neil to help him crack case after case. Now, the city’s crime scene has taken a turn for the personal. Some of the best chefs in town are turning up dead. The cops are stumped; the only real clues are a mysterious smell and some equally mysterious notes that seem to have something to do with Marco Polo. As more chefs fall prey to the killer, Neil finds himself working not only to solve the murders, but to eliminate himself as the prime suspect!

This story starts off with the impending death of Marco Polo and a secret he shared with only one other person. This secret becomes the underlying story to the deaths that surround our young protagonist, Neil Flambe.

What I enjoyed in this book was the historical references to Marco Polo's journeys and his dealings with Kublai Khan. While I have heard of these two figures ("In Xanadu did Kublai Khan a stately pleasure dome decree..."), I had no deeper knowledge than basically their names and the begininning of the famous poem. Kevin Sylvester takes a cute book, intended for young readers, and spins in some history and learning (just don't tell the kids!)

The chapters were about 4 pages long; the story was fast paced and fun (except for the poor murder victims, but it is fiction, right?) This is a book I will give to my daughter to read in a year or two (when she's 9 or 10.)

There are parts of this book that are a little far-fetched. Neil, the 14 year-old wunder-chef and his abilities as a "nez", sniffing out the clues, may be unrealistic, but it was still enjoyable. I must say though, if Neil was my son, he'd have been grounded through much of the book for his bad (superior to everyone) attitude!

It is evident Kevin Sylvester knows his way around a spice rack, or at least, has done some yummy research. Neil Flambe and the Marco Polo Murders is chock full of edible alliteration (and other culinary references) with a dash of history and mystery; this makes a recipe for one fun, entertaining read! I look forward to seeing what adventures Neil Flambe has in store for us next!

Author Interview and Book Trailer - Rhythym and Blues by Jill Murray

I am very excited today to present my first ever author interview! From a tweet I found last week, I discovered Jill Murray, author of Break on Through, her first novel, and now, her latest release, Rhythym and Blues.

Jill is a cool, approachable author (that answered my questions in record time); she's also Canadian, so I'm happy to share with the blogging world this new discovery for me. So, sit back and enjoy as we discuss Rhythym and Blues, writing, publishing, and what moves make a b-girl! Also, check out the book trailer at the bottom of this post that the all-talented Jill Murray created about versatile :-)

EEL - Tell us a bit about the book and your inspiration for writing it:

Jill - Rhythm and Blues is a spin-off of my first novel, Break On Through. In that book, Alya is probably the character about whom we learn the least, and so it seemed like an exciting prospect to have her grow into a story all her own. She gets recruited into a an all-girl pop-R&B group, and the story takes off from there.

EEL - Rhythym & Blues is your sophomore novel. Did you find it easier to write the second time around?

Jill - Every novel I complete and then see through the editorial process teaches me something-- a lot of things. This makes it possible to grow as a writer and make entirely new mistakes on each new project. Rather than getting easier, it remains infinitely difficult. This challenge is what's appealing, and hopefully it means my writing is getting better all the time.

EEL - I've read that your first novel, Break on Through, was not initially intended as a YA novel. Did that hold true with R&B too? Or does the age range just feel like a better fit with your writing and/or choice of topic?

Jill - Break on Through was always a YA novel. It was a never-published manuscript I wrote prior to starting Break on Through that began its life as a regular old adult novel and then had "YA" prepended to it in later drafts. I like writing for young adult voices, but I don't know if it's a question of fit or preference. It's what I'm doing right now.

EEL - Breakdancing is a recurring theme in your novels and obviously a love of yours - do you think that recent main stream exposure on TV (ie. So You Think You Can Dance, America's Best Dance Crew, etc.) has given the dance form more mass appeal or have they taken the "street" out of it & watered it down?

Jill - B-girling is a very young dance form. To expect it to stay the same forever is asking too much. If it's anything like ballet, it will barely be recognizable as itself 300 years from now. If we want it to last that long, we have to let it grow and change. Its roots will always be what they are, and the street will always be a part of that. I don't think it's something that any one interpretation or representation of it can detract from.

EEL - Rhythym & Blues has been dubbed "LGBT-friendly" - how has the response been so far, regarding a teen novel with this label? Are you seeing much more openmindedness in this regard (ie. a widening of the market)?

Jill - Things are off to a good start with a great review on the Queer YA blog ( YA). I think teens, especially teens who read, are already very open-minded. They're probably confused that the rest of us are so slow to get with the program sometimes.

EEL - What is Alya's favourite dance move?

Jill - Alya loves the big new thing she's learning RIGHT NOW. Something hard. Something that looks impossible, but feels amazing. Sometimes, a huge leap, that lets her fly through the room and take up space. Sometimes, something so subtle and smooth, you'd swear she was made of liquid-- once she's practiced it a thousand times.

EEL - Montreal vs Toronto - which has the better b-boy/girl scene?

Jill - The scenes are SO different. When I first arrived back in Montreal, I was astounded by the sheer number of really strong b-girls in the scene, in particular. Also, of the willingness of guys and girls alike to take classes. When you think of how much smaller Montreal is in population, it's amazing how much depth and variety there is to the dancing here-- not just in breaking, but in many genres across the board-- not to take anything away from Toronto. The two break scenes are very friendly with one another. For instance, the owners of Street Dance Academy in Toronto, and Studio Sweat Shop in Montreal are good friends.

EEL - When did you start break-dancing? How often do you practice now?

Jill - I started in my mid 20s, in Toronto, just recreationally. I've been doing it on and off for years, between injuries, and crazy work schedules, and writing projects, and all the adult stuff that life is crammed with. These days I'm doing more House dancing, and I've been getting back to yoga, which feels really good. In February, at Studio Sweatshop, I did SweatFest, which was 28 classes of all kinds, in 28 days. That was unusual but fun. I don't normally get to dance that much.

EEL - You are your own webmaster, how do you think the internet affects book promotion/exposure? Is it more effective with a hands-on approach from the author, herself?

Jill - I think it's most effective when you can work in tandem with your publisher. When I think of an idea, I let my publisher know about it, and I ask for input or help when it's appropriate. The stuff I make (like my book trailer: gives them more to work with, and I try to find out what kinds of things would be most helpful to them. I want to multiply my options by being creative and available for promo opportunities. At the end of the day, your publisher has one or several of your books to promote, but only you can look out for your whole career; not being hands on isn't a serious option.

EEL - Did you find it hard as a Canadian author to find a publisher or agent? Has your work crossed our borders yet?

Jill - We're still working on getting my work out of the country. We're pretty lucky in Canada, to have good Canadian publishers who can make editorial decisions on their own terms. Sometimes it seems like they have more flexibility than say, American publishers, who strike me as more aggressively market-driven-- which of course has other benefits. I don't think that being in Canada is holding me back. It's just a matter of writing the right story for the right place at the right time. It'll all come together when it's good and ready.

EEL - You write, sing (according to your publisher), dance, web design and do event speaking - is there anything that you are afraid to do or something that you're dying to try but haven't yet?

Jill - I was afraid of breaking before I tried it, but it looked way too fun not to. My reaction to fear is usually to force myself through it (after a period of building myself up.) Just the simple act of trying something usually shows me an aspect of life I hadn't noticed before. And everything is less scary if you tell yourself you're allowed to totally suck at it. I don't try these things because I think I'll be a hotshot at them. I just want to know what they feel like.

EEL - What is your favourite dance move? And, for the non-breakdancer, is there a simple move that we could try at home?

Jill - I'm rather a fan of anything that involves backbends, or turning, because I have a leftover addiction to spinning, from my figure skating days.
I think the simplest, best "move" anyone can try is go to a place where people are dancing, and join them. Just that is so intimidating for so many people-- guys especially, in my experience. So I say, get on that dance floor, enjoy the music, and see for yourself how much no one else cares what you look like, and how great it feels to burn off energy in time with the beat.

I want to thank Jill for taking the time to be here with us today. And while this may not have been the most hard-hitting, edgy interview, I hope you all enjoyed it and leave here curious to check out Jill's work. I will be reviewing Rhythym and Blues soon, so keep an eye out for it!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - Mar. 30, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly event hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Here is how it works:
Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2 or 3) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Remember to show the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser this week comes from Shadow of the King: Book three of The Pendragon's Banner Trilogy by Helen Hollick:

"He heard a woman screaming, a man laughing; ducked and twisted as both men lunged forward. Head-butting one, his fist pounded into the chin of the other. The first doubled over, winded, his arms going around his stomach, sword falling to the earthen floor." (pg. 347-348)

Author signing and contest winner!

On March 3, 2010, I had the pleasure of seeing Lisa McMann, author of Wake, Fade, and Gone as well as Becca Fitzpatrick, author of Hush, Hush for a reading and signing. These were 2 very cool authors. We got to hear a bit from Lisa's new book, that's yet to be released and Becca read from Hush, Hush (nope, nothing from Crescendo though, sigh.)

Here is a pic of me and Mel from He Followed Me Home with the authors...still makes me giddy, lol.

This brings me to my contest winner:

I was offering up an ARC of Hush, Hush for my 100+ follower contest but was lacking in follow through when it came to drawing the winner. I apologize profusely for this!

I have remedied this today and announce the winner as.... Erin from Bookish in a Box ! Congrats to Erin! And to make up for my inexcusable delay, I had Becca sign the ARC while I was at the above signing. Does this make up for things? I sure hope so :-)

Review: Love Struck: A Novel by Chantel Simmons

Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: Key Porter Books (Feb 15 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1554702585
ISBN-13: 978-1554702589

Product Description:

In the vein of her popular debut novel, Stuck in Downward Dog, author Chantel Simmons brings us a funny, heartfelt story about losing the perfect life—and finding a real one. When twenty-seven-year-old image consultant Poppy Ross discovers that her handsome and seemingly devoted husband Parker is having an affair, she is dumbfounded. Before she has chance to confront him, however, he is struck by lightning. When he regains consciousness, he has lost his short-term memory—including that of the affair. Given a chance to erase history and possible save her marriage, Poppy decides to remake herself in the mistress’s image, so that Parker might never be tempted to stray again. Her quest to become his perfect woman has disastrous and hilarious results—and might turn out to be the worst thing possible for her marriage.

From very early on, I wanted to give Poppy Ross a big smack upside the head! She is the embodiment of all paranoias that we woman experience at times: about our looks, our relationships, the value of our lives, etc. But she takes these to new, undiscovered (sometimes scary) levels. From Poppy's perspective, who wouldn't go a little crazy knowing that their "competition" is a voluptuous, sexy, British-accented husband stealer?

But "perspective" is the key word here. Poppy runs around trying to correct her deficiencies based on assumptions, however right or wrong they may be. The hilarity ensues from Poppy's attempts to become new and improved (funny for us, not so much for Poppy.) Let's just say I've learned a few valuable lessons about so-called self-improvement that will prevent me from trying certain things popular in today's society. (Give me Crest White Strips over dental "whitening" any day, lol.)

I also didn't really like Parker's character much. But, again, we're seeing things through Poppy's eyes, so his qualities may seem lacking in this skewed vision. Too often she says that she changed because of or for him; never a good reason to change, right? But, as things unfolded, Parker becomes a much better character; that is, as we get out of Poppy's head and into their lives. Poppy seriously needed to remove her head from...well, you know.

This was a fun book but also highlighted the fact the communication is very important in any relationship (and, no, I don't mean spending Friday nights home talking about your feelings, lol.) It also emphasizes the importance of the life-work balance that can be very off balance into todays world.

For me, Chantel Simmons offers up a funny look at life, relationships, and the disasters that can potentially happen when a couple get into a funk. She does this from a local-to-me setting which is always an added bonus. Very cute.

Monday, March 29, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading? Mar. 29, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. Here we get to discuss the books we've finished over the last week and what we'll be working on this week.

Last week I devoured The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting. I posted my review for Jonas: Beautiful Dead, book 1 by Eden Maguire as well as an excerpt & book trailer for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith. (If you haven't watched it yet, go check it out. It's one of the better trailers I've seen, production wise.)

I have prepped 3 of my reviews to post this week: The Wrecker by Clive Cussler and Merlin's Harp by Anne Eliot Crompton are posting today and Love Struck by Chantel Simmons will post on Tuesday. I have 3 more reviews to do this week to get caught up again.

This week I will finish Beauvallet by Georgette Heyer. I'm actually really enjoying the story now, having become accustomed to the lingo the more I read it.

I'm also continuing with Shadow of the King by Helen Hollick and have started on Ash by Malinda Lo and Timothy and the Dragon's Gate by Adrienne Kress. My plan was to have a good portion of Shadow of the King finished by now, but just looking at the book, the word tome comes to mind; it will take longer than I thought. Meanwhile, I patiently impatiently await completing it so I can delve into Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay, who is always nothing short of epic!

What have you accomplished over the last week?

Review: Merlin's Harp by Anne Eliot Crompton

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire (Mar 1 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1402237839
ISBN-13: 978-1402237836

From the Publisher:

Among the towering trees of magical Avalon, where humans dare not tread, lives Niviene, daughter of the Lady of the Lake and apprentice to Merlin the mage. Her people, the Fey, are folk of the wood and avoid the violence and avarice of man. But the strife of King Arthur's realm threatens even Avalon's peace, and Merlin needs his apprentice to thwart the chaos devouring Camelot. And so Niviene must use her special talents to help save a kingdom and discover the treachery of men and the beauty of love. A mystical love story, now back in print, sure to become a modern teen classic.

To start, I want to say that I absolutely love this cover! The colours match my blog beautifully, lol. But more than that, there's an exotic look to the girl and it has a very mysterious feel. The trouble with loving covers is sometimes the content does not live up to their visual appeal. Lucky for me, that was not the case here whatsoever!

Merlin's Harp has an ethereal, dream-like quality in the story telling. There are references within of the Fey causing anyone who wanders into their forest to lose a hundred years. The story itself feels like this; that time is fluid. The past, present, and future are at times indistinguishable, yet not confusing at all.

Now to contradict my last statements, the story has an earthier feel as far as the Arthur legend is concerned. At a time when girls were often married earlier and their lifestyles were very different from now, Niviene is not held to today's boundaries, In fact, being Fey, there are very little in the way of restrictions for her; marriage is not a Fey tradition or ritual. Niviene has been a free creature for all of her life. The Fey are also very much tied to the earth, trees, water, etc. as a source for their magic.

This changes to a degree with Niviene's interaction with the humans and the complications of her forest's proximity to the human society. Her brother has gone out into the human world and now whe must too, to prevent the discovery or destruction of her own sacred forest. She accompanies Merlin to aid in the peace of King Arthur's court.

Anne Crompton takes elements we are familiar with in the Arthur legend and gives them a little twist. It is interesting to see how Lancelot and the Grail, among other things are explained. Merlin's Harp was a fairly short, quick read, but I very much enjoyed it.

Review: The Wrecker by Clive Cussler with Justin Scott

Book: Hardback 235 x 159mm
480 pages
ISBN 9780399155994
17 Nov 2009
Putnam Adult 18 - AND UP

From the Publisher:

In The Chase, Clive Cussler introduced an electrifying new hero, the tall, lean, no-nonsense detective Isaac Bell, who, driven by his sense of justice, travels early-twentieth-century America pursuing thieves and killers . . . and sometimes criminals much worse.

It is 1907, a year of financial panic and labor unrest. Train wrecks, fires, and explosions sabotage the Southern Pacific Railroad’s Cascades express line and, desperate, the railroad hires the fabled Van Dorn Detective Agency. Van Dorn sends in his best man, and Bell quickly discovers that a mysterious saboteur haunts the hobo jungles of the West, a man known as the Wrecker...
(to continue reading the synopsis, click here)

I walked into a used book store one day with the purpose of buying Clive Cussler books for a friend's husband, who very much enjoys them. When I went to pay for them, the conversation got around to the man behind the counter saying to me, "Yeah, you don't look like a Clive Cussler reader." Well! That irked me. What should a reader of any book look like? So, when I had the opportunity to review The Wrecker, I jumped at it.

The story starts off in 1934, with snow falling in the mountains somewhere near Germany and a man trekking across this (on skis) to reach a castle. The imagery was reminiscent of Indian Jones (and who doesn't love Indy?) Then we move back to 1907 to discover why this foray into a snow storm was necessary.

There seems to be alot of troubles attacking the Southern Pacific railroad and only the president of the company, Osgoode Hennessy seems to think it's sabotage. When he brings on the Van Dorn Detective Agency to investigate, the lead detective, Isaac Bell, is quick to discover that Hennessy just might be right.

The book trails around America, with action at every turn; Isaac Bell is kept on his toes trying to discover who is behind it all. What was great for me was the look back through history to this time. Parts of the country are using the telephone, while others remain on the telegraph system. There was mention of D-cell batteries, which I didn't realize existed at that time. The Wrecker highlights a time in America when technology was rapidly changing and it was interesting to get a look at things from this perspective (how did crimes ever get solved pre-CSI?)

While I've probably learned more than I'll ever need to know about how to build a railroad (creosoting the ties, 2700 ties per mile, etc., etc.) and it was fairly obvious from early on who the criminal really was, the final chapters were chock-full of excitement. This book is something that would make for fantastic visual effects on the big screen.

Cussler's hero, Isaac Bell, is a blend of class and rough, hands on worker; tough when necessary, yet also very tender with his fiance, Marion Morgan. The only thing I didn't like about the character was the description of is curly moustache but this was a popular affection at the time, to I'll have to defer Mr. Cussler on this one.

Throughout the book, I could see why some people consider his writing "guy-lit" but truly, I enjoyed this book. I will at some point go back and read The Chase, where Bell was introduced and look forward to the next in the series, The Spy, which releases on June 1, 2010. And to the gentleman at the used bookstore, I offer a great big raspberry! See, I am a Clive Cussler reader :-D

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Blog Tour and Review: Jonas, Beautiful Dead, Book 1 by Eden Maguire

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire (Mar 1 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1402239440
ISBN-13: 978-1402239441

Beautiful Dead is the story of Darina, a teenage girl dealing with the trauma of the death of her boyfriend, Phoenix (click here to read more of the synopsis.) On a drive in a neighbouring town, she stops and hears a banging noise. As she follows the noise to a seemingly abandoned farm, she discovers far more than she'd bargained for. She finds Phoenix.

In an unusual story about zombies that veers slightly from the grunting, flesh-eating stereotype (though the foundation of these common thoughts is addressed), Phoenix has returned, along with several other of Darina's recently deceased friends, to uncover the cause of their deaths.

For me, it felt a little redious at first and I wasn't sure I would make it through. As the story progressed though, this did change. I think my issue with the beginning was the numb, disjointed feelings that Darina was giving off, but anyone that has lost someone close will probably understand this. There is definitely an unrealistic sense when you can't pick up the phone or see that person; like you're living in a constant cloud. So, I'm gonna go with this as the reason for my impression of the first few chapters.

What Eden Maguire also hits head-on is her portrayal of a petulant teenager. The conflicts between Darina and her mother or, worse, of those with her step-father, are dead on for that age, when kids think their problems are the worst ever. As we grow up, we get to see a different side of things, but as memory serves, the teenage years are lived very much inside your own little world.

While I can't say I absolutely loved this book, I did warm up to it by then end. I am looking forward to seeing where these characters are headed in future books.

Book Excerpt and Trailer: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls

With many thanks to Anna at FSB Media, I'm happy to share with everyone an excerpt from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreaduls by Steve Hockensmith. (Click here to see my review.) Make sure you get all the way to the bottom for the trailer. This one looks like a mini-movie worthy of A&E or BBC. Very well done!

Remember to let me know what you think. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did :-)

Chapter 1
by Steve Hockensmith,
Author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls

Walking out in the middle of a funeral would be, of course, bad form. So attempting to walk out on one's own was beyond the pale.

When the service began, Mr. Ford was as well behaved as any corpse could be expected to be. In fact, he lay stretched out on the bier looking almost as stiff and expressionless in death as he had in life, and Oscar Bennet, gazing upon his not-so-dearly departed neighbor, could but think to himself, You lucky sod.

It was Mr. Bennet who longed to escape the church then, and the black oblivion of death seemed infinitely preferable to the torments he was suffering. At the pulpit, the Reverend Mr. Cummings was reading (and reading and reading and reading) from the Book of Common Prayer with all the verve and passion of a man mumbling in his sleep, while the pews were filled with statues -- the good people of Meryton, Hertfordshire, competing to see who could remain motionless the longest while wearing the most somber look of solemnity.

This contest had long since been forfeited by one party in particular: Mr. Bennet's. Mrs. Bennet couldn't resist sharing her (insufficiently) whispered appraisal of the casket's handles and plaque. ("Brass? For shame! Why, Mrs. Morrison had gold last week, and her people don't have two guineas to rub together.") Lydia and Kitty, the youngest of the Bennets' five daughters, were ever erupting into titters for reasons known only to themselves. Meanwhile, the middle daughter, fourteen-year-old Mary, insisted on loudly shushing her giggling sisters no matter how many times her reproaches were ignored, for she considered herself second only to the Reverend Mr. Cummings -- and perhaps Christ Himself -- as Meryton's foremost arbiter of virtue.

At least the Bennets' eldest, Jane, was as serene and sweet countenanced as ever, even if her dress was a trifle heavy on décolletage for a funeral. ("Display, my dear, display!" Mrs. Bennet had harped at her that morning. "Lord Lumpley might be there!") And, of course, Mr. Bennet knew he need fear no embarrassment from Elizabeth, second to Jane in age and beauty but first in spirit and wit. He leaned forward to look down the pew at her, his favorite -- and found her gaping at the front of the church, a look of horror on her face.

Mr. Bennet followed her line of sight. What he saw was a luxury, hard won and now so easily taken for granted: a man about to be buried with his head still on his shoulders.

That head, though -- wasn't there more of a loll to the left to it now? Weren't the lips drawn more taut, and the eyelids less so? In fact, weren't those eyes even now beginning to --

Yes. Yes, they were.

Mr. Bennet felt an icy cold inside him where there should have been fire, and his tingling fingers fumbled for the hilt of a sword that wasn't there.

Mr. Ford sat up and opened his eyes.

The first person to leap into action was Mrs. Bennet. Unfortunately, the action she leapt to was shrieking loud enough to wake the dead (presuming any in the vicinity were still sleeping) and wrapping herself around her husband with force sufficient to snap a man with less back-bone in two.

"Get a hold of yourself, woman!" Mr. Bennet said.

She merely maintained her hold on him, though, her redoubled howls sparking Kitty and Lydia to similar hysterics.

At the front of the church, Mrs. Ford staggered to her feet and started toward the bier.

"Martin!" she cried. "Martin, my beloved, you're alive!"

"I think not, Madam!" Mr. Bennet called out (while placing a firm hand over his wife's mouth)."If someone would restrain the lady, please!" Most of the congregation was busy screeching or fleeing or both at once, yet a few hardy souls managed to grab Mrs. Ford before she could shower her newly returned husband with kisses.

"Thank you!" Mr. Bennet said. He spent the next moments trying to disentangle himself from his wife's clutches. When he found he couldn't, he simply stepped sideways into the aisle, dragging her with him.

"I will be walking that way, Mrs. Bennet." He jerked his head at Mr. Ford, who was struggling to haul himself out of his casket. "If you choose to join me, so be it."

Mrs. Bennet let go and, after carefully checking to make sure Jane was still behind her, swooned backward into her eldest daughter's arms.

"Get her out of here," Mr. Bennet told Jane. "Lydia and Kitty, as well."

He turned his attention then to the next two girls down the pew: Elizabeth and Mary. The latter was deep in conversation with her younger sisters.
"The dreadfuls have returned!" Kitty screamed.

"Calm yourself, sister," Mary said, her voice dead. She was either keeping a cool head or had retreated into catatonia, it was hard to tell which. "We should not be hasty in our judgments."

"Hasty? Hasty?" Lydia pointed at the very undead Mr. Ford. "He's sitting up in his coffin!"

Mary stared back at her blankly. "We don't know he's a dreadful, though.
But Elizabeth did know. Mr. Bennet could see it in her eyes -- because now she was staring at him.

She didn't grasp the whole truth of it. How could she, when he'd been forced to keep it from her for so long? Yet this much would be obvious to a clear-thinking, level-headed girl like her: The dreadfuls had returned, and there was more to be done about it than scream. More her father intended to do.

What she couldn't have guessed -- couldn't have possibly dreamed -- was that she herself would be part of the doing.

"Elizabeth," Mr. Bennet said. "Mary. If you would come with me, please."
And he turned away and started toward the altar. Toward the zombie.

The above is an excerpt from the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Copyright © 2010 Steve Hockensmith, author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls

Author Bio
Steve Hockensmith
is an award-winning novelist and reporter. His debut mystery, Holmes on the Range, was a finalist for the Edgar, Shamus, and Anthony awards. Critics have hailed the novel and its sequels as "hilarious" (Entertainment Weekly), "dazzling" (The Boston Globe), "clever" (The New York Times), "uproarious" (Publisher's Weekly), "wonderfully entertaining" (Booklist), and "quirky and original" (The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). He lives in Alameda, California, with his wife and two children.

For more information, please visit

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday - Mar. 24, 2010

This weekly event is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we get to share which upcoming reads/new releases that we just can't wait to get our hands on.

My WoW pick for this week is: The Girl Who kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson which releases on May 25, 2010:

As The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest opens, Lisbeth Salander—the heart and soul of Larsson's two previous novels—is under close supervision in the intensive care unit of a provincial Swedish city hospital. And she's fighting for her life in more ways than one: when she's well enough, she'll be taken back to Stockholm to stand trial for a triple murder. With the help of her friend, journalist Mikael Blomkvist, she will have to prove her innocence, and identify and denounce the corrupt politicians who have allowed the vulnerable, like herself, to become victims of abuse and violence. And, on her own, she will plot her revenge—against the man who tried to kill her, and the government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life.

I'm also picking The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire, both of which have been patiently waiting on my bookshelf for a few months now :-( I've heard such great things about this series, that I'm anxious to read them all!!

So, what book are you waiting for?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - Mar. 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly event hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Here is how it works:
Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2 or 3) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Remember to show the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser this week comes from The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting:

"And despite the fact that another body had just been found, Violet was suddenly at peace with the world again. She seemed to abruptly wake from the haze that had claimed her." (pg. 77)

There's lots of talk about this book throughout the book blogging community. I haven't reached this far yet, so I'm not sure of the complete context myself, but what do you think? Have you been sufficiently teased? Let me know :-)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mailbox Monday - Mar. 22, 2010

Mailbox Monday hosted by Marcia of The Printed Page, is a weekly meme where we get to share what awesome books we've received in the mail over the last week. Here are the great books that arrived in my mailbox last week:

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting (click here for more information)


Bite Me by Christopher Moore (click here for more information)

Both of these have been featured as my Waiting on Wednesday picks, so I'm pretty excited!

What goodies arrived in your mailbox?

It's Monday! What are you reading? Mar. 22, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. Here we get to discuss the books we've finished over the last week and what we'll be working on this week.

Last week I completed Angel Time by Anne Rice, Neil Flambe and the Marco Polo Murders by Kevin Sylvester, and Beautiful Dead by Eden Maguire. I'm also continuing (still, I know!) to work on Beauvallet by Georgette Heyer. The delay is not from disliking the book but more so the frequency I have to double back on what I've read to try and figure out what it's talking about. I'm seriously out of practice with my Shakespearean-speak for sure!

I'm still behind on my reviews, though I did manage to post my review for Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. May try to lock myself away to get caught up on these...

I've started reading Shadow of the King by Helen Hollick and The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting. I hope to have these two books completed this week and get started on Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay.

What do you have planned this week?

Friday, March 19, 2010

1st Rate Fridays - Mar. 19, 2010

This is a new weekly meme, hosted by Mel at He Followed Me Home . To quote Mel, it's "a weekly meme to share favorite posts you've come across recently. Although it's impossible to follow every book blogger, this is a great opportunity to highlight exceptional posts you find. Hopefully along the way you'll find some great new-to-you blogs as well. Let's spread the love and support those awesome posts out there! "

Terry at Alexia's Books and Such, has an excellent post about the pros and cons of the nook phenomenon here: To Nook or Not To Nook . She had a borrowed nook, so her article is based on a practical trial.

From an author's stand point, a visit to Guy Gavriel Kay's Bright Weavings offers up his journal as he comes closer to the release of Under Heaven, his latest novel. This is a site I often refer to, because not only does it have information on his books but also his insights into the publishing process today as well as (and more relevant in this format) the role & importance of book bloggers.

Lastly, for a great review of a much talked about sequel, head over to Book Whisperer and see what she has to say about Linger by Maggie Stiefvater. (Plus, background music including Bad Romance by Lady Gaga, which I'm not afraid to say I blast on the radio every chance I get!)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday - Mar. 17, 2010

This weekly event is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we get to share which upcoming reads/new releases that we just can't wait to get our hands on.

My WoW for this week is Shadow of the King by Helen Hollick:

At long last, the peace King Arthur was born to usher in has settled over the realm. But Arthur was also born to be a warrior… and all true warriors are restless without a fight.

Ever since Mel @ He Followed Me Home told me about Helen Hollick and had reviewed the second book in the series, Pendragon's Banner (click here to see her review), I've been looking forward to reading this version of the Arthur tale (The first in the series is The Kingmaking.) And while, truly, I don't have to wait that much longer (Shadow of the King is next on my reading list) I've heard great things about Helen's work, so I just can't wait!

For more information on Helen Hollick, check out her website here:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: Middle Grade (Mar 2 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 006172680X
ISBN-13: 978-0061726804

What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.

Instead, it turns out to be her last.

Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

When I first started reading Before I Fall it brought back memories of school, though I don't remember high school being that bad (yes, it's been awhile, so my vision may be slightly skewed.) Sam and her bestfriends, Lindsay, Elody and Ally rule the school. And they do it by fear - of their displeasure, of becoming social outcasts for any that "cross" them, of being uncool in their eyes. Actually, it seems that everyone else IS uncool compared to them - according to them. I wanted to wring their necks! These were the most rude, judgmental, opinionated, cruel girls.

As the story progresses, a little more of each girl is revealed, showing a bit about why they act the way they do. Personally, I don't find these reasons should condone the actions at all, but it's just all part of the story. What we see most is Sam's struggles with her own life, personality, attitudes, etc. Through each repeat of the day, Sam discovers things about people and makes attempts to change certain parts, trying to make things better, with only slightly different versions of the same ending.

For me, these trials and errors are hard to watch. But, then again, how would I have known to do any different? Being the reader gives you more power of observation and the opportunity to say, "Why did you do *that* instead of *this*?" Argh! I felt angry, sad, frustrated, even a little relieved that something good came out of all of Sam's hard work, yet maybe left with more questions than answers.

There are some lovely moments in the book as Sam recounts her childhood, with stunning imagery and feeling. It's a nice reminder of things we may have forgotten from our own childhood. A sunny day, a particular hiding spot we used to have; perhaps places and moments we should try harder to remember and embrace more readily, not take them for granted.

Before I Fall was a total page turner, I couldn't wait to see how everything resolved. And, boy, was I shocked. I envisioned so many different endings that when I finally finished, I wanted more...surely Sam's day could continue until the absolute optimal conclusion was reached, right? Nope. It ended where it ended. I give huge kudos to Lauren Oliver for drawing out conflicting emotions (from me, at least) with her writing and for staying true to her own vision.

So, as I pick up my rose-coloured glasses and put them on, I will make up my own (preferable) ending (where the entire world lives happily ever after - you can't blame a girl for trying) and patiently await Lauren Oliver's next book. She is definitely a writer to keep our eyes on!

Monday, March 15, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading? - March 15, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. Here we get to discuss the books we've finished over the last week and what we'll be working on this week.

Last week I (finally) completed Clive Cussler's The Wrecker. I'm still working on Beauvallet by Georgette Heyer and Anne Rice's Angel Time. I was away for a couple of days and got absolutely no reading done! Now, I'm behind my self-imposed schedule. Plus, still no reviews up :-p At least that part will be rectified this week.

For this week, my plan is to finish Angel Time. I may have to set aside Beauvallet, though I really hate doing that; I just can't seem to get into it. I'll also continue on with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls to offer up a little humour in this mixed bag.

I've started Neil Flambe and The Marco Polo Murders by Kevin Sylvester and Jonas: Beautiful Dead, Book 1 by Eden Maguire. I hope to finish one, if not both, of these books this week. My daughter is away visiting friends for March break, so in theory that should increase my reading time, but that doesn't always work, does it?

If, by some freak of nature, I get all of this accomplished on time, I'll be starting on Shadow of the King by Helen Hollick. I'm really looking forward to this one (being a huge fan of all things Arthurian.)

I figure I'm either ambitious or a little crazy, but what the heck...

How does your week look, so far?

Mailbox Monday - March 15, 2010

Mailbox Monday hosted by Marcia of The Printed Page, is a weekly meme where we get to share what awesome books we've received in the mail over the last week. Here are the great books that arrived in my mailbox last week:

When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family.

Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin.

Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk.

The Kitchen House is a tragic story of page-turning suspense, exploring the meaning of family, where love and loyalty prevail.

A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book—a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-first birthday, they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and very little to go on, "Nell" sets out to trace her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell’s death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. A spellbinding tale of mystery and self-discovery, The Forgotten Garden will take hold of your imagination and never let go.

In the beginning, there was Tilly: fabulous and free, outrageous and untamable, vulnerable and terrified. Was it the Sixties that did her wrong, or the drugs, or the men, or was it the middle-class upbringing she couldn't abide? As a young woman, she flees home for the hollow neon underworld of Nevada, looking for pure souls and finding nothing but bad habits. She stays away for decades, working the streets and worse, eventually drinking herself to the brink of death in the middle of the desert. One day, after Tilly has spent nearly thirty years without a family, her niece shows up on the doorstep of her dusty trailer.

Stella has been leading her own life of empty promise in New York City. She makes her living booking Botox appointments and national-media appearances for a famous (and famously neurotic) "inspirational" writer by day; she complains about her job at warehouse parties in remote boroughs by night; she waits for her married lover to make time in his schedule to screw her over, softly; and she takes care of her ailing grandmother in Connecticut. Before Stella's grandmother dies, she tells Stella the truth about Tilly, her runaway daughter, and Stella decides to give up the vast and penetrating loneliness of the city to find this lost woman the family had never mentioned.

To continue reading, click here:


First among her priorities as head of Spellman Investigations is to dig up some dirt on the competition, slippery ex-cop Rick Harkey -- a task she may enjoy a little too much. Next, faced with a baffling missing-persons case at the home of an aging millionaire, Izzy hires an actor friend, Len, to infiltrate the mansion as an undercover butler -- a role he may enjoy a little much.

Meanwhile, Izzy is being blackmailed by her mother (photographic evidence of Prom Night 1994) to commit to regular blind dates with promising professionals -- an arrangement that doesn't thrill Connor, an Irish bartender on the brink of becoming Ex-boyfriend #12

To read on, click

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Click here for more.

So, what do you think? Great list of books, right? What was in your mailbox?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls
By Steve Hockensmith
Published by Quirk Books
Available for purchase on March 23, 2010
Paperback, $12.95, 288 pages
ISBN: 978-1-59474-454-9

Description from Amazon:

With more than one million copies in print, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was the surprise publishing phenomenon of 2009. A best seller on three continents, PPZ has been translated into 21 languages and optioned to become a major motion picture. In this terrifying and hilarious prequel, we witness the genesis of the zombie plague in early-nineteenth-century England. We watch Elizabeth Bennet evolve from a naive young teenager into a savage slayer of the undead. We laugh as she begins her first clumsy training with nunchuks and katana swords and cry when her first blush with romance goes tragically awry. Written by acclaimed novelist (and Edgar Award nominee) Steve Hockensmith, Dawn of the Dreadfuls invites Austen fans to step back into Regency England, Land of the Undead!

I received Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls on Friday and haven't had the time yet to finish it but wanted to share some of it with my readers along with the contest being offered up by the publisher, Quirk Books. So, let me give my first impressions here:

From page one, the action starts immediately and Elizabeth Bennet learns of her father's prior experience with zombies and his intention that she, in turn, learn to deal with them. And only in a book such as this, with a setting in Regency England, will you find flesh devouring fiends being referred to as "dreadfuls", which I'd be more inclined to use to describe a bad cold. Definitely a fun playing down of the horror that's to follow, don't you think?

With this being the prequel to the massively popular Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (co-written by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith), the author of Dawn of the Dreadfuls, Steve Hockensmith, has some big shoes to fill. What he gains in this version is a freer range with the characters and storyline, having no Jane Austen mash up to contend with. The girls are younger here, so we actually get to see more of Mr and Mrs Bennet and to this end, I think Hockensmith does a fantastic job in staying true to the characters as Jane Austen originally imagined and created them. To me, the voices of these two characters will always be of those portrayed in the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. I can clearly envision Mrs Bennet's every complaint of being set upon by the monsters or Mr Bennet's shooing of Mrs Bennet's distress, with the added zombie vernacular emphasizing the levity of the situation. (Levity for the readers, not so much for the Bennet clan.)

We also see that Jane is the only girl "out" in society, so far, but Mrs Bennet will have Lizzy out, too, in no time in order to secure their family's fate before being completely erased or eaten. It's too early for any appearance by Mr Darcy, so we see other suitors for the girls. But, as I race to the finish to see who survives, I can only hope that all of the gentlemen attempting to woo the girls are woefully eaten, dismembered or beheaded in hopes that Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley will have their opportunities in the future. (While I do own the first PPZ, I haven't read it yet, so I can't really predict either way but I'm sure Darcy and Bingley remain constant in it!)

With writing such as: "The unmentionable's unmentionables might have just been squashed flat, but the creature showed no signs of noticing. Instead, it merely took hold of the foot that had been planted in its mushy-rotten groin, pulled it up toward its mouth, and leaned in for a bite." - you know that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls will be a properly grotesque story that will capture the hearts of maniacal, zombie-loving, English Lit. fans everywhere, lol.

For more information, please visit the publishers website at:
Dawn of the Dreadfuls at

Click here to enter for a chance to win one of 50 Quirk Classics Prize Packs. Each Prize Pack, with a retail value of more than $100, will include:

  • An advance copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls

  • Audio Books of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

  • A password redeemable online for sample audio chapters of Dawn of the Dreadfuls

  • An awesome Dawn of the Dreadfuls Poster

  • A Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Journal

  • A box set of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Postcards

  • You'll need to mention that you saw the review here at my blog :-)
    (I gain nothing from this mention but the joy of sharing fun books)

    Teaser Tuesday - Mar. 9, 2010

    Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly event hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

    Here is how it works:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2 or 3) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Remember to show the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

  • My teaser this week comes from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith:

    "Walking out in the middle of a funeral would be, of course, bad form. So attempting to walk out on one's own was beyond the pale." (pg.9)

    Monday, March 8, 2010

    It's Monday! What are you reading? Mar. 8, 2010

    It's Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. Here we get to discuss the books we've finished over the last week and what we'll be working on this week.

    Over the last week I've continued with Clive Cussler's The Wrecker (I have about 100 pages left), Beauvallet by Georgette Heyer (this is a tricky one linguistically, lots of naval terms in Shakespearean English :-o ) and Anne Rice's Angel Time (I really started getting into this one over the weekend). Oh well, so much for my attempt to have these 3 reviews up last week, lol.

    I'm still working on my review of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver; I'll make a serious effort on that this week to share with my readers :-)

    I started and finished Merlin's Harp by Anne Eliot Crompton. I should be able to review this one quickly 'cause I liked it alot!

    This week, I will finish The Wrecker and hopefully Angel Time. I'll continue to plod away through Beauvallet. I'll also be starting Neil Flambe and The Marco Polo Murders by Kevin Sylvester and Jonas: Beautiful Dead, Book 1 by Eden Maguire.

    What does your week hold for you?

    Mailbox Monday - Mar. 8, 2010

    Mailbox Monday hosted by Marcia of The Printed Page, is a weekly meme where we get to share what awesome books we've received in the mail over the last week. Here are the 3 books I received in my mailbox last week:

    Secret, betrayal, and a mysterious family history plague the heroine in the latest novel from New York Times-bestselling author Karen Robards.

    The past is never over. It just gets dusty.

    Lisa Shewmaker was a rising star in a prestigious law firm in Lexington, Kentucky; that is, until the firm went bankrupt and she lost her job. With an ailing mother to care for, Lisa takes the first position she can find: research assistant to District Attorney Scott Buchanan. Scott is as disagreeable as he is sexy, and Lisa suspects the only reason she got the job is because of her privileged upbringing as the daughter of a wealthy federal judge.

    While reviewing cold cases in the Fayette County courthouse, a particularly thick manila envelope draws Lisa's attention. The details of the case are engrossing: An entire family-father, mother, and two children-disappeared more than twenty-eight years ago. Except that's not all: The mother in the photo could have been Lisa's twin, and the toddler in the picture bears an uncanny resemblance to Lisa herself. Before Lisa can learn more about her past, a series of catastrophes strike close to home. Lisa confides in Scott, and their relationship develops into something completely different. Together Lisa and Scott unravel a terrifying web of criminal connections that could destroy the very fabric of Lisa's life-if she lives long enough, that is.

    Head of the Sex Crimes Unit of the district attorney's office in Manhattan for decades, Linda Fairstein is America's most visible legal expert on sexual assault and domestic violence-which is why she writes some of the most compelling crime thrillers of our time and why her Alexandra Cooper series has been topping bestseller list for more than a decade. Fans turn to Fairstein for ripped-from-the-headline crimes, cutting-edge investigations, and vindication for victims. Linda Fairstein brings readers inside a world of which they can't get enough, but one they hope to never see in real life.
    And for her twelfth novel, Fairstein takes Alexandra Cooper inside a world "she'd" rather not see.

    New York City politics have always been filled with intrigue and behind-the-scenes deals. In "Hell Gate," Alex finds her attention torn between investigating a shipwreck that has contraband cargo-human cargo-and the political sex scandal of a promising New York congressman now fallen from grace. When Alex discovers that a woman from the wreck and the congressman's lover have the same rose tattoo-the brand of a "snakehead," a master of a human trafficking operation-it dawns on her that these cases aren't as unrelated as they seem and that the entire political landscape of New York City could hang in the balance of her investigation. As Alex looks on at the nameless victims in the morgue, she realizes she's looking at the present-day face of New York's long, dark tradition of human trafficking-a tradition that began hundreds of years ago with slave trade from Africa, now a multimillion-dollar industry that will stop at no cost, even if that cost is Alex's life.

    Journey Back to Regency England -- Land of the Undead!

    Readers will witness the birth of a heroine in Dawn of the Dreadfuls -- a thrilling prequel set four years before the horrific events of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. As our story opens, the Bennet sisters are enjoying a peaceful life in the English countryside. They idle away the days reading, gardening, and daydreaming about future husbands -- until a funeral at the local parish goes strangely and horribly awry.

    Suddenly corpses are springing from the soft earth -- and only one family can stop them. As the bodies pile up, we watch Elizabeth Bennet evolve from a naive young teenager into a savage slayer of the undead. Along the way, two men vie for her affections: Master Hawksworth is the powerful warrior who trains her to kill, while thoughtful Dr. Keckilpenny seeks to conquer the walking dead using science instead of strength. Will either man win the prize of Elizabeth's heart? Complete with romance, action, comedy, and an army of shambling corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls will have Jane Austen rolling in her grave -- and just might inspire her to crawl out of it!

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010

    Review: The Lion and The Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

    Hardcover: 40 pages
    Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Sep 1 2009)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 0316013560
    ISBN-13: 978-0316013567
    Product Description:

    In award-winning artist Jerry Pinkney's wordless adaptation of one of Aesop's most beloved fables, an unlikely pair learn that no act of kindness is ever wasted. After a ferocious lion spares a cowering mouse that he'd planned to eat, the mouse later comes to his rescue, freeing him from a poacher's trap. With vivid depictions of the landscape of the African Serengeti and expressively-drawn characters, Pinkney makes this a truly special retelling, and his stunning pictures speak volumes.

    I had seen mention of this book around the web, particularly that it had won The Caldecott Medal: this intrigued me. With many thanks to Melanie at Hachette, I received a copy of this stunning book to review.

    From the picture above (which is the dust cover) to the book cover itself, the inner linings, as well as the actual content of the book, Jerry Pinkney's drawings are beautiful, and barely any space is left blank. The size contrast between the lion and the mouse, the visual effect of the lion's roar, and the mouse diligently working to free the trapped lion, are lively rendered through the pages. The stunning drawings of the Serengeti are a reminder, also, of the delicate nature of our world in Earth's current tumultuous time.

    Aesop's story was one that I vaguely remembered, but on reading the author's note at the end, I had to re-read it for myself (which I found online). With Mr. Pinkney's version, it is truly a tale we can teach our children from a very early age, with the purely visual aspect, but also remind ourselves how relevant the moral of the story is and how it transforms through circumstances and remains true in this modern age.

    Definitely a fantastic addition to any book collector's library!
    (This review has been cross posted at Rated By Kids)

    Waiting on Wednesday - March 3, 2010

    This weekly event is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we get to share which upcoming reads/new releases that we just can't wait to get our hands on.

    My WoW pick for this week is Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris, the next installment in the Sookie Stackhouse series. I couldn't find the description for this one (though I didn't look very hard for it - I didn't want to find spoilers!) I've read the first book in the series and am anxious to continue reading about Sookie and the gang but have other commitments first. What I did find is the first chapter of Dead in the Family on Charlaine's website and if you would like to check it out, click here (I closed my eyes while linking, lol. )

    And, I also can't wait for the next season of True Blood to start. I'm definitely Team Eric :-)

    Is there a book your waiting for? Let me know!

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010

    Teaser Tuesday - March 2, 2010

    Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly event hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

    Here is how it works:

    Grab your current read
    Open to a random page
    Share two (2 or 3) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that pageBE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
    Remember to show the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

    My teaser this week comes from Angel Time by Anne Rice:
    "Even when Toby was small, he knew his father bullied the loose women in the French Quarter, forcing favors out of them before he would 'let them off.' He'd heard his father brag about that kind of thing with the few other cops who had come over for beer and poker."
    (pg. 86)

    Monday, March 1, 2010

    It's Monday! What are you reading? Mar.1, 2010

    It's Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. Here we get to discuss the books we've finished over the last week and what we'll be working on this week.

    Last week, I finished readng Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. My review should be up early this week though I am still sorting through my feelings on this one.

    I also finished Love Struck by Chantel Simmons and hope to have that review up by Wednesday this week.

    I'm about 1/3 of the way through The Wrecker by Clive Cussler. It is very different than I was a good way! I started on Beauvallet by Georgette Heyer and Angel Time by Anne Rice. I'm hoping to have these 3 reviews up by the end of this week/beginning of next. (I'm crossing my fingers.)

    This week I'll be continuing on with the last 3 books mentioned and starting on Merlin's Harp by Anne Eliot Compton.

    How have you been progressing?

    In My Mailbox Monday - March 1, 2010

    In My Mailbox, hosted by The Story Siren and Mailbox Monday hosted by Marcia of The Printed Page, are weekly memes where we get to share what awesome books we've received in the mail over the last week. I've participated in both before but thought that, being so similar, I'd combine them here. Here's what my magical mailbox brought me last week:

    When Will meets Alice, he can't believe his luck. She's smart, sexy and, much to Will's surprise, in love with him. Alice brings meaning to his urban existence and his boring job. But the course of modern love never did run smooth, and soon devotion leads Will to something darker. Elsewhere in the city lives Helen, an actress. Or she will be, one day. For now she finds work as a model.

    A love story with a twist, this explosive debut novel brings Will and Helen's lives together in a tale as tight as rope and as black as tar. It heralds the arrival of a major new talent on the literary scene.

    Sid is going crazy . . .

    A telemarketer at a travel agency, Sid is becoming unhinged and superneurotic. Lately he's been obsessed with car washes and mud baths. His hypochondria is driving his doctor sister mad. And it's all because of his ex-girlfriend, Zoe, who's sending him postcards from her European adventure, one that they were supposed to take together. It's all quite upsetting.

    A fact-finding tour of local post offices—and a new friendship with postman Gerald—followed by a solo European jaunt will do little to ease his anxiety. A long talk with his mother's spirit in a wine bottle doesn't help either. But what he really needs are a few more tentative dates with the chatty Candyce. Sid needs to get over Zoe and find love again—even though Zoe, apparently, has no inclination to be gotten over.

    Wonderfully poignant, funny, odd, and more than a bit macabre, Postcards from a Dead Girl marks the emergence of a truly gifted and original literary voice.

    All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds of victory are grim. Kronos's army is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, the evil Titan's power only grows. While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it's up to Percy Jackson and an army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time. In this momentous final book in the New York Times best-selling Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the long-awaited prophecy surrounding Percy's sixteenth birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate.

    The most personal

    A young mother and her infant child are ruthlessly gunned down while returning to their car in the garage of a shopping mall. There are no witnesses, and Detective Lindsay Boxer is left with only one shred of evidence: a cryptic message scrawled across the windshield in bloodred lipstick.

    The most dangerous

    The same night, the wife of A-list actor Marcus Dowling is woken by a cat burglar who is about to steal millions of dollars' worth of precious jewels. In just seconds there is a nearly empty safe, a lifeless body, and another mystery that throws San Francisco into hysteria.

    The most exciting Women's Murder Club novel ever

    Lindsay spends every waking hour working with her partner, Rich--and her desire for him threatens to tear apart both her engagement and the Women's Murder Club. Before Lindsay and her friends can piece together either case, one of the killers forces Lindsay to put her own life on the line--but is it enough to save the city? With unparalleled danger and explosive action, The 9th Judgment is James Patterson at his compelling, unstoppable best!

    One Man, one day, and a novel bursting with drama, comedy, and humanity.

    Kevin Quinn is a standard-variety American male: middle-aged, liberal-leaning, self-centered, emotionally damaged, generally determined to avoid both pain and responsibility. As his relationship with his girlfriend approaches a turning point, and his career seems increasingly pointless, he decides to secretly fly to a job interview in Austin, Texas. Aboard the plane, Kevin is simultaneously attracted to the young woman in the seat next to him and panicked by a new wave of terrorism in Europe and the UK. He lands safely with neuroses intact and full of hope that the job, the expansive city, and the girl from the plane might yet be his chance for reinvention. His next eight hours make up this novel, a tour-de-force of mordant humor, brilliant observation, and page-turning storytelling

    Kelley Winslow is living her dream. Seventeen years old, she has moved to New York City and started work with a theatre company. Sure, she's an understudy for the Avalon Players, a third-tier repertory company so far off-Broadway it might as well be in Hoboken, but things are looking up—the lead has broken her ankle and Kelley's about to step into the role of Titania the Fairy Queen in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Faeries are far more real than Kelley thinks, though, and a chance encounter in Central Park with a handsome young man will plunge her into an adventure she could never have imagined. (To continue reading this description, click here)

    Demonic activity has escalated in both the Undercity and the mortal surface level city as the worshipers and servants of the Lord of the Hells strive to complete the rituals that will return their god to the mortal realm. As Rath joins with mages and the Twin Kings' agents to wage a secret battle against this nearly unstoppable foe, he gives Jewel Markess and her den of orphans the opportunity to escape the chaos by providing them with a note of introduction to the head of House Terafin, where Jewel will discover her destiny.
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