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Friday, October 29, 2010

Review: Prisoners in the Palace

Synopsis: Prisoners in the Palace -- London, 1838. Sixteen-year-old Liza's dreams of her society debut are dashed when her parents are killed in an accident. Penniless, she accepts the position of lady's maid to young Princess Victoria and steps unwittingly into the gossipy intrigue of the servant's world below-stairs as well as the trickery above. Is it possible that her changing circumstances may offer Liza the chance to determine her own fate, find true love, and secure the throne for her future queen? Meticulously based on newly discovered information, this riveting novel is as rich in historical detail as Catherine, Called Birdy, and as sizzling with intrigue as The Luxe. 

My Review: I adore historical fiction, mostly because I adore history.  Prisoners in the Palace was no exception.  When I had the opportunity to read this I almost didn’t sign up for the tour.  Just that God awful cover!  Ah!  It literally hurts my eyes to look at.  It’s like someone took a Renaissance styled painting of a woman and put it with pop art colors and Roy Lichtenstein’s bendai dots.  Just gah!  Assault on the eyes!  The artist in me just can’t forgive that horrendous cover art.  Thank goodness the story made up for the awful cover. 

I’ve never really read anything about Queen Victoria and I really don’t know much about her, so I was intrigued with the story.  I learned so much from this book that when my mom was watching Young Queen Victoria, I’d walk in randomly going “Is that Albert?  Is that the former Queen?  That her old tutor?” Took me about five seconds to identify people and what was happening.  I have to say I felt pretty darn cool.  In a nerdy kind of way.  ^.^ I loved the fact that the story revolved around Victoria as a young girl, yet it doesn’t take the obvious route by telling it through Victoria’s POV.  The story is in fact told through the POV of her personal maid, Liza.  Liza, a young girl without parents or any inheritance, is in a rough Europe where girls like her only have one way to go.  Desperate to pay off her debts she takes the position at Kensington Palace as Victoria’s personal maid.  Or rather, she is to spy on the Duchess and the scheming Lord Conroy… Connely?( … it’s been a few weeks here, forgive me)  Liza is thrown from the life of high society she is used to, to the world under the stairs of the servants.  She learns quickly that the nobility isn’t as fine and grand as they are made out to be, and that their trickery knows no bounds.  She is desperate to learn to keep ahead of her employers and be the master of her own fate.  She acts the part and does what she is told, but she is really looking out for herself and Victoria. 
I really enjoyed Liza’s character.  While she starts out a bit of a prude, you can’t really blame her.  She is used to the life of a lady, not that of a maid.  She quickly adjusts to her new lifestyle and is trying to make the best of it.  Though she secretly hopes to earn Victoria’s favor so that one day Victoria might renew her to being a proper lady.  She’s clever and headstrong and has a clear head on her shoulders.  Though some of her actions were selfish in nature, it only added to her character.  She felt remorse on many fronts and it just made her all the more human.  She genuinely cared for people and tried her best to do right by them.  To help ensure information for Victoria (I swear she’s like a quadruple spy) she enlists the help of Inside Boy and a young newspaper printer Will.  If I’m not misinformed I believe that Inside Boy is actually based on an actual person, and I found his character very refreshing and funny.  And Will, oh my oh me.  I just love the name Will.  Probably one of my all time favorite guy names (unless of course you are Will Herondale… why did his name have to be Will?!) He’s a working class man making a living with what he loves, complete with ink stained fingers, messy blonde hair and a rugged and easy going personality.  Ahhh, just utter heart!  I loved the contrast with Will’s common man mentality and Liza’s more refined manner.  Though they are very different from each other, they both share the same values and really connect.  The romance that stems from their business meetings was wonderfully done as well.  I loved the letters between them.  It just increased the growing bond between them.  It was all just very sweet and utterly adorable.  Plus there is the fact that there was almost a whole year between their first meeting and when their romance actually came to a head.  For once a believable time line for two people falling in love!  Hallelujah!  They met, they got to know each other, they sorted out their true feelings, didn’t rush into anything, and when it was clear they both felt the same for each other then it all came nicely together.  Just win!  Made me so happy! 
The one complaint I have with the book is the time gap when Victoria goes on tour to all those places.  It’s the time when she comes down with Typhoid and she almost dies, yet we don’t get any of it.  That whole couple month long period is spanned by a couple of letters back and forth between Will and Liza.  While I adored those letters, they also kind of drove me nuts.  I hated not knowing what the heck was happening!  It would have also been nice to have Will and Liza’s relationship fleshed out more, but hey I’ll take what I can get.  The ending was full of promises and possibilities so I was happy.  ^.^ 
I really adored this book and look forward to more by the author.  Hopefully any future books will have better cover art (psst I’ll sooooo do it lolz) If you are a history lover, or even if you aren’t, you should definitely read this book.  I know the cover burns your eyes, but trust me the story is so engrossing that you will barely have to shut it and have to look at it.  Absolutely wonderful!

Review: Halo

Synopsis: Nothing much happens in the sleepy town of Venus Cove. But everything changes when three angels are sent from heaven to protect the town against the gathering forces of darkness: Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, a teenage girl who is the least experienced of the trio. They work hard to conceal their true identity and, most of all, their wings. But the mission is threatened when the youngest angel, Bethany, is sent to high school and falls in love with the handsome school captain, Xavier Woods. Will she defy the laws of Heaven by loving him? Things come to a head when the angels realize they are not the only supernatural power in Venus Cove. There′s a new kid in town and he′s charming, seductive and deadly. Worst of all, he′s after Beth.

My Review: I was really excited to read Halo.  The amazing cover art, all the angel hype lately, I admit it I let the fangirl trends rule my judgment.  I don’t know why I thought it was going to be so amazing.  Well actually I do.  It was the cover art.  It was drool worthy. So to say the least I had high expectations for it.  Honestly I wasn’t all that impressed.  I will say right away though that this book will be VERY differently viewed by many people.  Plain and simple, it has a lot of religious content.  Some people will really like it because of it, and others will be put off by it.  And yes I am atheist, but all the religion didn’t bother me in the slightest.  I just read it as a complete work of fiction.  The author took a lot of risk by intertwining so much religious doctrine in a YA novel.  Teens are impressionable or they are totally set in stone because of their parent’s religious affiliations.  Halo could wind up offending many people.  I don’t know, we’ll just see what happens.  Maybe I’m worrying over nothing.  Books that deal with religion in a positive manner hardly ever get burned, so it’s probably nothing.  Anyway moving on. 

First and foremost, Halo is a love story.  That was the prime focus, and it was the best aspect of the novel.  Bethany is so innocent to the ways of teenagers.  She’s just trying to blend in and learn as much about teenagers as possible.   The last thing she expects to happen is to succumb to human love.  Angels love humankind in a detached almost pitying way.  Bethany is different from her brother and sister in this regard.  She empathizes with humans very easily.  She has the human capacity for love.  Xavier is the dream guy.  Good looking, smart, great at sports, and school captain.  All without a hint of an ego.  A little too perfect in my mind, but he is a great match for Bethany.  Both Bethany and Xavier are instantly drawn to each other, and as they let their feelings guide them it becomes clear that they are cut from the same cloth.  I thought that their relationship developed very nicely.  It wasn’t instant love (gracias Dio! I would have puked) It has the very real feel of first crush turned into first love.  It was wonderfully done.  I really applaud the author.  It felt real.  I think this is due to the fact that the author is so young, so she connects better with her audience.  So bravo! I don’t often applaud teenage romance in novels. 
When I said that it was the best aspect of the novel, I wasn’t exaggerating.  While Halo was beautifully written and had an amazing love story, I felt that the Angel’s mission was sooooo lame.  I mean Agents of Darkness?  Lame-o.  It felt like they were on Teen Titans or something. Yet at the same time the villains on Teen Titans were more threatening than these “Agents of Darkness”.  I didn’t get evil vibes at all.  I didn’t feel threatened or even a bit worried about them. There was no tension or terror associated with them.  The whole conflict with the new kid (who is really an AoD) just struck me as poorly planned and it really just fell flat.  And his motivation for going after Bethany?  Puh-lease.  Evildoers don’t try to kill someone because they got rejected.  I mean COME ON! I think a Demon has better things to do with his time.  A jab to his pride is not going to set him off.  He probably likes people getting pissed at him.  Made no sense, and it just felt like lame television drama.  I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels this way, but I just had to put it out there.  Kind of ruined the book for me in the scheme of things. 
Beautifully written and an amazing love story, but the tension just totally flopped.  Hopefully events will get a little more grave and there will be more dire situations in the next one. Legit dire situations.  If you are a sucker for romance then you’ll love it.  I really enjoyed it, yet at the same time I kind of expected better.  I have hope for the next one though.  Overall a pretty decent book.  : )

 

Review: The Duff

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face. But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley. Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

My Review: Going into The Duff I was expecting a hate turning into unexpected love story.   While that is the essence of the story, there is so much more to it.  The story held a lot more meaning than I was expecting.  It was very surprising.  By the end of the book I really loved it.

The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend.  Not such a nice nick name.  Bianca knows she is not as gorgeous as her friends, but she has never been bothered by the fact.  That is until the night Wesley, the most gorgeous guy in school, calls her the Duff.  While Bianca shrugs it off and throws her coke in his face, it really cuts her deeper than she’ll ever admit.  Bianca’s escalating problems at home only make things worse.  Bianca isn’t the type of person to openly share her feelings, even with her best friends.  She can vent about anything , how much she despises Wesley Rush, and her absentee mother, yet she can’t bear to confess what she is really feeling.  I feel Bianca is really relatable in this regard, because well frankly I’m the same way.  I have bad issues with sharing intimate feelings or thoughts and it is just really uncomfortable to say things like that out in the open.  It’s an issue I feel a lot of people have, and no matter how much we say we want people to be open and share everything, it’s not true.  Most people aren’t willing to be that open, so why should we ask it of others?  However, there are moments, like with Bianca, where opening up isn’t such a bad idea. 
Unable to deal with her inner turmoil, Bianca does the only thing available to distract her.  She kisses Wesley.  While she can’t believe she has sunk that low, it offers the escape she needs.  That one kiss quickly escalates into an enemies- with- benefits relationship.  Bianca willingly delves in deeper with Wesley and loves the mind numbing sex that he offers.  She doesn’t have to deal with her mother’s absence, or the fact that her dad, sober for 18 years, is suddenly having relapses.   Bianca is upfront about the fact that she is using Wesley for sex, what she doesn’t see coming is that Wesley is a bit more intuitive than she gave him credit for.  When Wesley is the only one willing to listen and not judge, Bianca finds herself opening up to him.  She tells him secrets from her past that only her best friend knows.  She tells him secrets that no one but herself knows.  Their agreement for no-strings-attached sex quickly turns into something more. 
Wesley isn’t as shallow as he seems either.  In the end, everyone is running from something and everyone has different ways of dealing with their problems.  The reasons behind our actions may not always be clear, but there is always a reason.  I loved the way the author truly turned people’s typical perceptions of others and turned them on their head.  I’ll freely admit that I classify other people by stereotypes or names.  Emo, scurvs, whores, preps, etc.  Do I particularly regret that I think of people that way? Not really, because hey that’s society for ya, but one thing I NEVER do is judge someone.  Bianca judges Wesley for his actions and not for who he is, and when she discovers that she truly is falling in love with who he is as a person, that terrifies her.  She does the only thing she knows how to.  She runs from the problem.  And Wesley is running right after her. 
The characters were amazing.  Bianca was cynical and just utterly hysterical to read about.  She was a very refreshing MC and I enjoyed her narration very much.  I adored Wesley as well.  He may be a man-whore, but he’s still a wonderful guy. (I particularly loved his Womanizer ring tone)  I found him unexpectedly sweet and understanding.  If only more guys were that willing to listen.  This was so much more than a love story.  I can’t even begin to explain it.  The best I can come up with was that it was a truly raw and truthful account of people.  Not teenagers or girls with parental problems or even a love story.  It truly reflected PEOPLE.  We may not always be pretty or all that worthy of praise, but there is always something admirable to be found in everyone.  That’s the most important thing I got out of this book.  Whether you are a Duff or a Wesley in life, you matter.   While I could sit here and rave about how much I loved this book, I’m gonna wrap it up.  Plain and simple?  I LOVED it.   You NEED to read it.  Like NOW.  XD

 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Review: Blood Law

Synopsis: To stop a vampire killer, she’ll have to slay her own demons first. A provocative and savvy vampire, Alexandra Sabian moves to the sleepy hamlet of Jefferson, Mississippi—population 6,000, half vampires—to escape the demons lurking in her past. As an enforcer for the Federal Bureau of Preternatural Investigations (FBPI), Alex must maintain the uneasy peace between her kind and humans, including Jefferson’s bigoted sheriff, who’d be happy to see all vampires banished from town. Then really dead vamps start turning up—beheaded, crucified, and defanged, the same gruesome manner in which Alex’s father was murdered decades ago. For Alex, the professional has become way too personal. Things get even more complicated when the FBPI sends in some unnervingly sexy backup: Alex’s onetime mentor, lover, and fiancé, Varik Baudelaire. Still stinging from the betrayal that ended their short-lived engagement, Alex is determined not to give in to the temptation that soon threatens to short-circuit her investigation. But as the vamp body count grows and the public panic level rises, Varik may be Alex’s only hope to stop a relentless killer who’s got his own score to settle and his own bloody past to put right.

My Review: Hmm, what to say, what to say.  I think I always enjoy these type of stories on a basic level.  They're nice books to read when you have all day to waste and you want some decent supernatural/crime/sex entertainment.  Are any of them truly that awe inspiring or highly original?  Not so much.  There are just so many books out there in the Adult Supernatural world and yet they all seem the same.  Smart, savvy, sexy female heroine-check! Government agent of some sort-check! Psycho serial killer-check! Psycho killers motive somehow relating back to the smart, savvy, sexy female heroine-check!  Smart, savvy, sexy female heroine being torn between her heart and her head-check! And last but not least...the incredibly hot, absolutely perfect, with a bad boy streak with a dark past, sexy beyond belief love interest-check!  Oh and did I mention the incredibly long hair?  Do you see what I mean?  I haven't read all that much Adult Paranormal novels, but the few that I have tend to stick to that basic storyline.  Plus can someone PLEASE tell me why older women find guys with outrageously long hair (usually longer than the female characters) so overwhelmingly attractive?!  I. DO. NOT. UNDERSTAND! Please, just please, someone!  Explain this to me! I just can't comprehend!  

Okay... rant and heavy sarcasm is over now.  Besides the cookie cutter plotline, I still found this story enjoyable.  I liked the fact that the author really stressed the fact that vampires and humans were two different species living side by side.  Ya, ya, somewhat evident right?  But for some reason I always think of vampires as humans with a nasty parasitic disease that like to munch on normal people for a good midnight snack.  She really stressed the fact that they were two separate species and were not in the slightest bit human, no matter what the physical similarities.  As far as I inferred, humans can't be "turned" either.  Vampires are born, not made.  (I think! Don't quote me! That's the gist of what I gathered while reading) I really kind of liked this more separatist take on vampires.  Fangs grow in at puberty and if pulled, they don't grow back.  De-fanging is akin to losing a limb.  I just really kind of enjoyed the slight spin the author put on it.  Not quite the same old vampire novel.  It had just enough originality to keep me interested.  

As far as Alex went, I have rather mixed feelings on her.  While I found her character, for the most part, enjoyable, there were still a few things that kind of bugged me.  I liked her personality and her casual attitude.  She seemed like a pretty laid back and likeable person.  Did she seem like a Bureau worker?  Eh... so so.  I don't know, she just didn't really strike me as the cop type.  I think it was because of her volitile emotions that kind of put me off.  It's just hard for me to think of her having any type of authority.  I don't know, I'm probably the only one that thinks this, but meh.  Her reaction and emotions toward Varik?  They were completely uncalled for.  Ya the horrible incident in their past that caused them to break up was pretty out of line.  Did he do it on purpose?  No. Was it bad judgement on his part?  Yes.  Yet once again, he didn't do it on purpose.  I would have forgiven the  poor guy.  He obviously felt horrible about it, and yet Alex still took off like a bat out of hell (there was no pun intended there).  I just felt that for what happened, he didn't deserve the violent reaction from Alex that he got.  

I actually ended up really liking Varik.  Aside from that cursed long hair (shakes head) he was a very nice guy.  I have no trouble what so ever thinking of him as a high up Bureau agent.  He just radiates bad ass government guy.  He just has this aura of authority about him, and a don't mess with me attitude.  Plus he is an incredibly decent guy.  He never once pushed Alex, and let her leave.  He never contacted her, never forced himself onto her, and was the perfect gentleman.  He wouldn't even have come to help with Alex's investigation if he wasn't on orders.  He respects Alex's wishes and does everything he can in order to help her solve her case.  And despite everything that has happened, and the fact that Alex left him, he still loves her.  I just really liked his character.  

Okay,  so a slight mini rant again.  Don't you just hate it when the author switches into the killers POV?  I HATE that!  What is the point of having a crime mystery when you know what the killer is thinking and his motive?!  Where is the drama in that?! Gah!  Drives me nuts!  It's no fun reading about the heroine trying to figure out what the heck is going on when you already know.  Do you see what I mean?  I wish authors wouldn't do that.  Totally ruins it for me.  :/  I mean I guess I can see where authors are trying to come from.  That whole "insight into a twisted mind" type deal.  Well it's not insightful! It just proves that there are some sick people in this world who have the most twisted reasoning ever.  We don't need to know what the killer is thinking to understand that he's nuts.  Plus villains are always way scarrier when they have that element of mystery about them.  Let's see what's scarrier.  The killer who tells you exactly why he's going to submit you to a twisted horrible death, or the killer who just lets you wonder and then has fun with you just to see you squirm?  Exactly.  

Okay for real now, ranting done.  While the plot did give me some pleasant surprises, it wasn't really all that wonderful.  Will I continue reading this series?  Maybe?  Sometime... in the future.  Uhm... ya.  If you love this genre, then I guarantee you'll love this book.  But if you're like me and generally dislike cookie cutter plots I would stay away.  Not bad by any means, just not anything truly gripping or new.  

BTW, this was The Traveling Book Gnomes latest pick.  Sorry I have no pics to accompany my review.  I was very happy to recieve Cedric as well!  I just wish I got to keep him longer!  :( Until next time my dear gnome!  
 

Review: Virals

Synopsis: Tory Brennan, niece of acclaimed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (of the Bones novels and hit TV show), is the leader of a ragtag band of teenage "sci-philes" who live on a secluded island off the coast of South Carolina. When the group rescues a dog caged for medical testing on a nearby island, they are exposed to an experimental strain of canine parvovirus that changes their lives forever. As the friends discover their heightened senses and animal-quick reflexes, they must combine their scientific curiosity with their newfound physical gifts to solve a cold-case murder that has suddenly become very hot if they can stay alive long enough to catch the killer's scent. Fortunately, they are now more than friends they're a pack. They are Virals.

My Review: Going into Virals I was really excited.  Scientifically based were-wolf story?   Hell to the ya!  I was a little worried at first because there is a connection to the Bones books, but not to worry.  Virals is a total stand alone and very easy to jump right in.   I was a little shocked to find out that Tory was so young.  Okay, well not young per say, but younger than I thought she was going to be.  Tory is fourteen, and has been recently transported to living on a secluded island with her dad who up until a few months ago she didn’t know existed.  The recent death of her mother doesn’t really affect Tory all that much.  I chalk it up to the fact that when the story begins Tory has been living with her dad for a few months, and is over the initial shock of it.  She’s already well ingrained into her new way of life, including friends.  Tory is definitely a tom boy, especially since the other kids on the island close to her in age are all guys.  I really loved Tory’s character.  She was tough, no-nonsense, and had a firm belief in her own morals.  I really admire people who stand up for what they believe in, and Tory was no exception.  Not to mention that girl is a mini-genius.  She is one smart cookie to be sure.  She was just a very enjoyable character and a wonderful MC. 
From the books description it makes it sound like her and her friends are a group of crazy radical kids who think it’s cool to live on an island.  Okay… well that’s what I gathered from it the first time I read the synopsis.  In reality, they just like to hang out at their parent’s work, which just so happens to be a secluded island used for ecological studies.  I really liked all Tory’s friends.  They were all very entertaining, and added to the witty sarcasm.  I think I would have preferred if there was just one more girl though.  Soooo much testosterone going on.  Tory balances them all out well, but still, a little more girl would have been nice. 
I truly loved the whole concept of the story.  It was like Peeps but with werewolves.  (At least that is the best description I’ve come up with)  I’m naturally a very scientific person, so providing a logical explanation for a traditionally supernatural storyline really appealed to me.  Plus they’re really not “werewolves”.  Wolf enhanced senses?  Definitely, but there is no shape changing or full moons involved.  Plus I loved the spin off from the parvovirus.  Truly ingenious!  Such a unique idea, I can’t help but rave about it.  They are truly a “pack” and their group dynamics were very interesting.  Plus they always manage to land themselves in a crap ton of trouble.  Maybe I’m mistaken here, but do 14-16 years olds typically like to break that many laws in the pursuit of the truth?  My curiosity doesn’t extend past doing internet or library research.  When Tory and her friends discover an old dog tag, not only do they discover the owner who died many years ago, but they also become obsessed with the disappearance of his 16 year old daughter.  Now I can understand trying to solve a potential murder case concerning people in the present.  A possible murder case 45 years ago?  Not so much.  Like I said, my curiosity isn’t that great.  However Tory and the gang just can’t let it go.  When they discover a skeleton with a bullet hole in the head buried on their parents island, things go from an innocent history pursuit to real danger.  They get in over their heads and become involved in a conspiracy over 45 years in the making. 
While I loved the original plotline and the amazing mystery, some parts just seemed so far fetched.  If I was going to off someone and then dispose of the body, I wouldn’t bury them!  Hello?!  Ocean is right there!  Second of all, I wouldn’t be trying to kill a group of teenagers who accidentally stumbled upon the body.  Who would believe them?!   The level of trouble the gang gets themselves into, combined with the kill attempts, just seemed blown out of proportion.  It made it very gripping and exciting, but it was still rather unbelievable.  Plus the bad guy’s motive!  Gah! It was soooo bad.  I don’t know many people who would be willing to kill someone over that!  Maybe I just don’t know any horribly desperate people, who knows, but I still thought it was overly dramatic. 
Other than the tad bit of over-drama, I really, really loved this book.  It was so different from a lot of YA stuff out there right now, and I really appreciate that.  I know I’m not the only one getting tired of the same old same old, and VIrals is sure a refreshing read.  I cannot wait for further books!  I’m already pumped to find out what kind of trouble Tory and the gang will get into!  And I’m just waiting for future romance to bloom.  I called it at the beginning of the book!  It WILL happen!  It will just take some time.  XD  Loved it! 

 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Review: Hunger

Synopsis: “Thou art the Black Rider. Go thee out unto the world.” Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? Traveling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home: her constant battle with hunger, and her struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effects of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power — and the courage to battle her own inner demons? 

My Review:
When I first came across this book online I about drooled with desire.  Four Horseman of the Apocalypse?  Woot!  I blame Good Omens for my obsession.  Haha.  The Four Horseman hold some sort of weird fascination for me.  Are they truly just tools for the end of the world, or is there more to them than that?  Hunger certainly set out to explore this idea, as well as incorporates a more serious theme as well. 
Lisabeth is more concerned with her own eating habits, or rather lack thereof, than the worlds bought with hunger.    Constantly plagued by her “Thin” voice, Lisabeth only sees herself as fat and ugly.  Convinced that she will only be truly happy if she is thin, Lisabeth’s life begins to deteriorate.   She cannot look in the mirror and see one thing that she likes.  Her problems only continue when Death shows up on her front step and announces that she is the new Famine.  Outfitted with a set of shiny scales and a loyal horse, Lisabeth sets out upon the world.  
I have to say, the beginning kind of took me by surprise.  I was expecting a little back story at least, but the author certainly just throws you in.  I didn’t mind it all that much, just took a bit to find my bearings.  While I couldn’t relate to Lisabeth at all, I still enjoyed her character.  Lisa is hugely insecure, something all young girls can relate to.  As Lisabeth explores her new role as Famine and begins to discover her own power, she truly changes.  She begins to care about others outside of her own small world.  Initially she thinks that being a Horseman is all about the doom and gloom.  After an encounter with Pestilence, Lisa discovers that her true power lies in creating a balance.  Her newfound desire to help others by filtering people’s needs through herself gives Lisabeth something to live for.    She is able to shut out the Thin voice, and is solely focused on helping others.  Lisa truly becomes strong and a great person to admire.  By the end of the book, Lisa is finally able to admit to herself that she needs help. More importantly, she asks for it.  Asking for help seems simple, but it is not always as easy as it might seem. 
I greatly enjoyed the story, and the important lessons it held.   I have to just say really fast…. I loved Death!  I really liked how Jackie made the Horseman personified just regular people.  People who are at a critical time in their life, and can realize their inner strength through being a Horseman.  I look forward to further books about the Horseman of the Apocalypse.  I’m assuming War is next!  That shall definitely be interesting.  XD  Isn’t it interesting that War is always a woman?  That just speaks volumes for the female populous.  That’s right boys, you better watch out.  Hell hath no fury as a woman- well… you fill in the blank.  Overall, a great book with a highly original story and an expertly woven tale of a young girl’s struggle with anorexia. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Review: Zombies vs Unicorns

Synopsis: It's a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (unicorn and zombie, respectively), strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths--for good and evil--of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan. This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

My Review:Zombies vs. Unicorns was the first anthology I’ve ever read.   I discovered I have a love hate relationship with them.  Love the fact that I get a lot of wonderful stories!  Hate the fact that they are all so flippin short!!! It is such a win and lose deal.  ZVU (not quite the same ring as AVP) is an epic battle between what creatures are better.  Zombies?  Or Unicorns?  Who came out of the battle on top? Well you’ll just have to continue reading to find out.  Since this is an anthology there is only one way to even begin to review this.  I’m gonna do short little reviews on each individual story.  The ones I loved, liked, and ones that just plain creeped me out. 

Team Unicorn(1)-The Highest Justice by Garth Nix: Oh Garth Nix how I love thee.  I love how he made a unicorn story epic by making it a unicorn/necromancer.  The irony alone was epic.  I love how subtle Nix’s writing is, and he did well with the short plotline.  I have to agree that Nix is secretly on team Zombie on this one.  Sorry Holly.  I would have liked to see this story extend a bit further.  Alas this is the problem with anthologies!  Curse thee!  I have a feeling I would have loved it as opposed to just enjoyed it if it was longer. 
Team Zombie(2)-Love Will Tear Us Apart by Alaya Dawn Johnson: I absolutely love, love, LOVED this story.  I wanted more!  I would happily read a five hundred page novel about this story.  What makes it so amazing is the fact that it is through the POV of a “zombie”.  A zombie who has been partially cured and retains his higher brain functions, but is still plagued by the desire to feast on human flesh.   The psychological aspects alone are drool worthy, plus I though the romance was just amazingly sweet.  Plus there was some awesome music mentioned.  ^.^ If you have an aversion to strong language and some M/M(very PG) then I would stay away, but I absolutely adored this one. 
Team Unicorn(3)- Purity Test by Naomi Novik:  Okay I just have to get this off my chest.  What is with Unicorns and virgins?  Like huh?  Why are they always connected?  I just don’t understand.  If you read this book then you’ll totally get what I’m raving about, but it is just weird.  Why would a magical horse with a horn be at all interested in virgins?  *shakes head*  I still don’t understand.  While I found this story rather entertaining and light-hearted it wasn’t anything special.  Just a solid okay.  A unicorn needs a virgin to lead him to missing baby unicorns whom have been stolen by a wizard.  Definitely a few hysterical moments, but overall just kind of eh. 
Team Zombie(4)- Bougainvillea by Carrie Ryan:  The Queen of Zombies of course delivered an amazing story.  Set in the same world as Ryan’s Forest of Hands and Teeth the entire world has been overcome with mudo.  A young girl who lives on one of the few mudo free places on earth has to make tough decisions to overcome her circumstances and do what is right for her people.  I really enjoyed this one.  While the girl kind of annoyed me because she was such a spoiled little brat, I loved her at the end.  Talk about bad ass.  I was totally cheering her on.  Amazing as always Miss Ryan!
Team Unicorn(5)- A Thousand Flowers by Margo Lanagan:  Okay so this story creeped me out.  I mean I went bug eyed and literally wanted to stop reading it.  The story was just so… (for lack of a better word) F***ed up!   I will never, ever, EVER think of a unicorn the same way now.   Just gah.  If it turns out Unicorns are real and they are anything like they are in this story, I will be running to get the F out of there.  If you read this book.  Please just do yourself a favor and skip over this story.  Trust me.  Nightmare worthy. 
Team Zombie(6)-The Children of the Revolution by Maureen Johnson:  I really rather liked this one.  A poor American college chick, drug to England by her ever high boyfriend, gets stuck on an organic farm that makes Alcatraz look nice.  Eventually abandoned by her BF she jumps at the opportunity to earn a baby sitting gig to get the heck out of there.  Too bad those children are the undead.  An interesting combination of modern alternative religion and zombies.  Though can anyone tell me who the heck the “famous actress” was that the chick babysat for? I’m thinking Angelina Jolie (well because frankly I could so see her raising undead children) but someone should really fill me in here. 
Team Unicorn(7)- The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn by Diana Peterfreund: Another story I absolutely ADORED!  It was probably by far my favorite of the whole entire book.  (Alaya’s is a very close 2nd) Killer unicorns?  Epic!  I mean do I need to say more?  Exactly!  The MC is born with the ability to tame /kill these killer unicorns and is basically the unicorn version of catnip, attracting the killer beasties like crazy.  When the opportunity arises to save a baby unicorn that is about to be drowned, she spirits him away and raises him herself.  She struggles with what she knows of unicorns and her growing feelings of love for the so called monster.  Is this seriously what Rampant is about?  I didn’t even make the connection until I saw someone else’s review on Amazon.  I am going to HAVE to read Rampant now because I am totally in love.  Utterly amazing!
Team Zombie(8)- Innoculata by Scott Westerfeld: Oh Westerfeld!  Another of my favorite authors!  Westerfeld did an amazing job (as always) and I loved this fresh idea as to how to deal with the zomie-pocolypse.  Innoculata (obviously from inoculate) is how a small group of teenagers in an all human settlement adrift in zombieland accidentally discovers a semi-cure to the zombie epidemic.  Basically making them carriers for the disease without getting any of the nasty brain eating side effects.  Very cool idea!  Absolutely loved it!
Team Unicorn(9)-Princess Prettypants by Meg Cabot:  Haha!  Okay so I’ve only read one of Meg Cabot’s books but I adored it.  Princess Prettypants was pretty awesome, I have to say.  I loved Cabot’s utter pink, fluffy, farting rainbow take on unicorns.  So stereotypical, but that’s what made it funny.   The story was real life teenager drama with some magical rainbow and lavender farts thrown in for effect.  Very cute and refreshing in a surprising way.  After all these different takes on unicorns it was nice to have the truly modern day magical pixie horse version of one.  ^.^
Team Zombie(10)-Cold Hands by Cassandra Clare: Ya know what?  I honestly went into reading this without any pre-prejudice.  Surprising no?  I was being a good reviewer and all that jazz.  Too bad it kind of flopped for me.  I liked the setting of the story a lot.  Very cool idea.  The whole Zombietown idea where the citizens dead will always rise from the grave, and where zombies live side by side with regular people.  They’ve been integrated into society, and a major plus as well.  No brain eating.  Wonderful idea!  I really liked it.  Too bad I found the plot unremarkable.  Zombie love story?  So saw it coming.  And it was kind of boring too.  Girl and guy have been together since they were 9 years old.  Soulmates, going to get married, opes boy is murdered and is now a zombie.  Okay?  I mean it wasn’t bad by any means, you just read that I really liked the idea.  Extraordinary?  Not so much.  Just a solid okay. 
Team Unicorn (11)- The Third Virgin by Kathleen Duey: See?  Here’s the virgin theme again.  *shakes head*  Does this mean I’m going to be bothered by unicorns?  So not cool.  Virgins aside, I found this story rather interesting.  Told through the perspective of a unicorn, it details its life over hundreds of years.  Always alone, always struggling to find some meaning in life, and most importantly always hungry.  Unicorns being purely magical creatures, don’t feed like normal animals.  A unicorn has a healing touch, but all healings come at a price.  Sucking the life out of people is the only way a unicorns appetite can be sated.  Struggling with its desire to feed and the over-whelming guilt from stealing others life force, the unicorn wants nothing more than to confide in someone and meet its ultimate death.  Kind of a very sad interpretation of a unicorn.  I really sympathized with the poor creature, and ultimately I really enjoyed the different take. 
Team Zombie(12)-Prom Night  by Libba Bray: A solely teenage society working against zombie-kind?  Can you say screwed?  Well… I would be in that situation at least.  When teens are the only ones left who haven’t been infected in a reinforced town, life is no longer normal.  Prom Night is the one time where they can relax and act like everything is the way it was before the shit hit the fan.  A little normal amidst a world of crazy, makes for one fun story.  Told through the perspective of one female “cop” and her spunky partner it was a pretty good story.  Just wish it was longer… *le sigh* 
So after this incredibly long drawn out review… what creature won?  Hands down the zombies.  Not just because most of my favorite stories in this book were from the Zombie Team, but because let’s face it, zombies are just epic.  Resident Evil, Sean of the Dead, Zombieland, the list goes on.  I can only think of one movie about a unicorn and well it’s animated and I think I was like 6 when I saw it.  Zombies are awesome.  Except for 28 Days Later zombies (okay well they are technically not zombies), but still!  Scary as hell!  O.O


 

Review: Tyger, Tyger

Synopsis: Teagan Wylltson's best friend, Abby, dreams that horrifying creatures--goblins, shape-shifters, and beings of unearthly beauty but terrible cruelty--are hunting Teagan. Abby is always coming up with crazy stuff, though, so Teagan isn't worried. Her life isn't in danger. In fact, it's perfect. She's on track for a college scholarship. She has a great job. She's focused on school, work, and her future. No boys, no heartaches, no problems. Until Finn Mac Cumhaill arrives. Finn's a bit on the unearthly beautiful side himself. He has a killer accent and a knee-weakening smile. And either he's crazy or he's been haunting Abby's dreams, because he's talking about goblins, too . . . and about being The Mac Cumhaill, born to fight all goblin-kind. Finn knows a thing or two about fighting. Which is a very good thing, because this time, Abby's right. The goblins are coming.

My Review: You all know that I am a faerie fanatic.  I’m totally gaga about anything fae.  It is one of my crazy obsessions.  I freely admit it.  A bit childish?  Absolutely not!  I love the darkness in most fae related novels, and Tyger, Tyger was no exception.  Tyger, Tyger was a very fresh take on the fae world, which if you think about it is sooooo difficult to do.  There are just so many outrageously popular fae books out there, especially in the YA world, that it is truly an amazing feat to have an original story.  

First and foremost on the originality scale was the fact that the fae were called goblins.  There was still the Sidhe, but goblins was definitely a derogatory term used to describe most of the fae.  And if you know anything about goblins, then you know there are very few good connotations associated with them.   These beasties are nasty in the worst way.  Yet with all “dark” casts there is always a bit of light that peaks through the stereotype.  There is light and dark to everyone and goblins are no exception, despite what a few of the characters may think. 
I really enjoyed Teagan’s character.  And well her name is Teagan, which is probably one of my all time favorite names.  So that might have influenced my love for her just a smidgen.   She works at a veterinary clinic at the zoo and works with apes (chimps?  I don’t remember which) and she speaks fluent sign language.  How epic is that?  Exactly!  Her family I also adored.  Her mother and father just have to be the coolest parents in the history of YA fiction and her little brother is adorable.  I mean who knew Elvis impersonators could be that terrifying to a child?  I sure didn’t, but it was hysterical.  Teagan, while just being a typical success driven girl, has to deal with some horrible times.  She is strong and determined and completely stubborn which I love in all female MC’s.  Yet she is smart enough to know when to call it quits.  She truly has to make some gut wrenching decisions that she regrets.  Do I think any less of her for them?  Absolutely not.  If I was thrown into the same life or death situation I would have done whatever I needed to do to survive and keep my loved ones safe.  She throws someone else under the wagon, but it just shows what a wonderful and truly good individual she is by the fact that she despises herself for what she did.  Which reminds me of another aspect of the story I loved. 
Finn; blonde, kind of rough around the edges, funny, and oh ya an Irish accent.  Can you say HOTTIE?! Maybe I am just weak and fall for any guy who has an Irish accent, but you have to admit Irish accent vs no accent?  Irish accent totally wins.  Any sane woman will say the same.  In addition to the hot accent, Finn is a pretty awesome guy.  While he has been living on the streets for the past five years, he truly is an honorable guy.  He stands up for the little guy and always puts others before himself.  I really enjoyed his character.  Plus he’s the perfect combination of gentleman and rogue.  He gives me hope that I will one day find my own Irish hottie. 
Another aspect of the novel I totally loved, was the rich back story.  I have no idea how much is true Irish legend, but it was masterfully done.  Since the author is a history nut like myself, I’m assuming 98% of it was accurate.  It really impressed me.  I’ve read other traditional fae lore and I’ve never come across this particular version.  Very interesting to say the least.  I loved every minute of it.  Obviously I loved this story.  What really tipped the balance into the adored category for me was the romance aspect.  You know how much I abhor romance that takes ten pages to develop.  What I hate even more is love at first sight.  While there was a bit of instant infatuation, it wasn’t cliché! They meet and then it is months before they see each other again.  Plus throughout the entire book they did not kiss once.  Which drove me nuts, but at the same time I really appreciated it.  Their attraction is much more than physical.  It was wonderfully done and I really appreciated the effort to actually have a realistic romance. 
All in all, I think it’s clear I adored this book.  If anyone loves fae stories like myself you will adore it!

 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Review: Crescendo

Synopsis: Nora should have known her life was far from perfect. Despite starting a relationship with her guardian angel, Patch (who, title aside, can be described as anything but angelic), and surviving an attempt on her life, things are not looking up. Patch is starting to pull away, and Nora can't figure out if it's for her best interest or if his interest has shifted to her arch-enemy Marcie Millar. Not to mention that Nora is haunted by images of her father and she becomes obsessed with finding out what really happened to him that night he left for Portland and never came home.  The farther Nora delves into the mystery of her father's death, the more she comes to question if her Nephilim blood line has something to do with it as well as why she seems to be in danger more than the average girl. Since Patch isn't answering her questions and seems to be standing in her way, she has to start finding the answers on her own. Relying too heavily on the fact that she has a guardian angel puts Nora at risk again and again. But can she really count on Patch, or is he hiding secrets darker than she can even imagine? 

My Review: I can safely say that I was just as thrilled/excited/fangirlishly/happy about Crescendo as most of the teenage girl populous was.  I absolutely adored Hush, Hush and I was ecstatic to get the chance to read Crescendo.  I think I set myself up for disappointment.  I let my love of Hush, Hush build so much that my expectations for Crescendo were super high.  And well… it didn’t meet my expectations.  I was rather disappointed to say the least. 

While the book wasn’t horrible or anything, I couldn’t help but feel vastly disappointed with certain aspects of it.  I can’t even explain in full detail as to why it bothered me because I’d be ruining it for those of you who haven’t read it yet.  So I am going to be as vague as possible and I apologize ahead of time if there are minor spoilers.  It just cannot be avoided in this case.   What drove me nuts was the plotline.  Well not even the plotline itself because there were some MAJOR plot twists I didn’t even see coming.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that the introduction to the main plot of the story drove me nuts.  Okay here comes the minor spoiler.  If you interpreted anything from the synopsis then this might not come as a shock to you.  Nora breaks it off with Patch.  I won’t go into the reasons and yadda yadda because that would ruin it.  I mean I was just so disappointed with it.  It was the classic run of the mill “conflict” that it seems that every major love story has.  Lack of trust, not disclosing all information, and all that jazz that leads to a breakup, but is not actually a breakup because Nora is just being stupid and stubborn.  I mean just come on!  I could name about five other series that do the SAME THING.  For such a highly original story I was highly disappointed in the lack of creativity to have some tension in the story.  Plus painting Patch to be untrusting and acting like he had something to hide?  So predictable as well, especially since we all know that Patch will never be the “bad guy” again.  So all of Nora’s little self doubts about Patch’s intentions?  Ignore them because they’re all BS. 
Another thing that bothered me was Nora herself; mostly because she was a spoiled self righteous little brat who jumps to conclusions without letting Patch explain anything.  I mean she went totally ape shit without once letting Patch get a word in or, hmm I don’t know, allowing him the benefit of the doubt?  I mean no matter how pissed I get at someone I at least hear them out.  It was just beyond ridiculous because her “reasons” for breaking up with Patch were so conflicted with each other that it made absolute no sense.  It’s driving me nuts that I cannot explain it fully but just know that Nora doesn’t know what the hell she’s thinking or really feeling.  Just gah.  Bugged the crap out of me. 
Don’t get me wrong, there were some very nice plot twists to the story.  Yet at the same time, I feel like they popped out of nowhere.  Definitely a few “uuuuhhhmmm eh?” moments.  It all felt rather forced to me, like Becca was trying super hard to make it some intense, shocking story and all the drama wasn’t needed.  Trust me.  All of us crazed teenage readers out there will continue reading these books no matter what because we all drool over Patch.  No need to pull out all the cliché drama and random plot twists.
Surprisingly enough what I did really enjoy about the novel had nothing to do with Nora and Patch.  Rixon and Val were awesome, and I especially liked the two of them together.  I really, really, really liked Rixon.  I totally felt betrayed by the end of the book though.  :/ Plus Val is just the most hysterical best friend ever.  Who cannot adore her?  The fact that I enjoyed the side characters more than the main plotline speaks volumes for Crescendo.  So to sum up Crescendo in one word…. Filler.  It was a complete total filler novel, hands down.  Plus it was an obvious filler novel which just makes it all the more disappointing.  Will I read the next installment?  Duh, of course I will.  And you know what?  The next one will be amazing!  And it’s not just because I’m a marvelous psychic.  YA series trend with filler novels for the second book and the story always picks back up and gains momentum in the third.  Tis a fact.  I’m sure there are statistics somewhere in the depths of the internet.  Somewhere… or you can just take my word for it.  Lol. 

 

Trance: Review

Synopsis: It begins with a subtle vibration, a tingling. There is time to take only one breath. The trance begins. When it is through, she is certain of two things: Someone she knows is about to die. And she is powerless to stop it. Ashlyn Greenfield has always known when bad things are going to happen. Each time that familiar tingling at the back of her neck begins, she knows what's to come a trance. She's pulled in, blindsided, an unwilling witness to a horrible upcoming event. But she's never been able to stop it not even when the vision was of her mother's fatal car accident. When soulful Jake enters Ashlyn's life, she begins having trances about another car accident. And as her trances escalate, one thing becomes clear: it's up to her to save Jake from near-certain death.

My Review: Trance was another novel I went into not knowing all that much about.  Synopsis didn’t give me a great feel for the plot and well it was just intriguing enough to draw my attention.   There were some pretty cool things about Trance that I really enjoyed.  A lot of fresh, new ideas into the realm of YA fiction that has me pretty excited. 

I really enjoyed Ashlyn’s POV.  She was such a refreshing character as well.  For once it was nice to have an MC that was just able to break down and cry.  Someone who didn’t bottle up their emotions, but still had trouble opening up to people.   Ever since she was a child, Ashlyn and her sister have had “trances”.  Each of them completing the other’s vision.  During these trances they write down long numeric equations.  The significance of these numeric equations is unknown, but Ashlyn knows that they spell certain trouble for someone she knows.  Ashlyn is wracked with guilt for ignoring the Trance that killed her mother.  Her sister has disappeared from Ashlyn’s life, her father is so wrapped up in his work that she never sees him much less talks to him.   She feels utterly alone, despite her best friend.  Unable to confide in anyone, and when the trances suddenly come back in full force Ashlyn doesn’t know who to turn to.   These trances of a car crash at first seem like the trance she should have had about her mother.  However, she quickly discovers that these visions are a warning that yet another person she loves is in terrible danger, and it’s up to Ashlyn to discover how to save them. 
Ashlyn is a very compatible MC and I really did like her.  At times I wish she had a little more backbone, but at the same time it was nice to have an MC who was a nice medium.  Not a killer ass amazon, yet not a damsel in distress.  She just seemed like someone I would really get along well with.  When it came down to the critical moments in the novel, she really pulled through for me.  I really liked Jake as well.  And ya he may be a musical genius, and rides a motorcycle that he restored himself, and is just the most perfect guy ever (drools here)  and I may be a bit biased here.  Okay… a lot.  He was awesome okay?  Believe me.  Perfect guy.  You’ll understand when you read it.  He was just genuinely a nice guy with his own flaws but that just made him more real in my mind.  Everyone has little personality flaws, and I found his very endearing and minor at that. 
The whole “trance” idea I thought was very cool.  I mean at first I was wondering how the heck the whole trances plus numerical equations related and how the author was possibly going to explain it, but it worked out well.   I don’t want to spoil it, so I will pretty much stop right there.  It was highly original and the author did an amazing job of taking some of the wild speculation of the universe and twisting it into an amazing story. 
Trance was unique, the characters loveable, and just all around a great story.  Plus a major twisted ending.  Definitely had me on edge!  Can’t wait for more!

 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Resurrected

Resurrected you may ask?  Did I die?!  No fear my friends, I am not a zombie come back to eat your delicious brains via the world wide web.  (Ah didn't you miss me? Lol)  I sure missed you guys.  My witty banter and craziness aside, I truly have missed my blog.  What could have possibly kept me from doing my usual reviews and such you may ask?  Two words for you.  MARCHING BAND!  Thank the lord the season officially ends this Saturday.  October was just a month of utter complete craziness.  Between getting up at 5:30 every day, going to school, all my art projects, and then working till 9:00 each  night, doing my homework, and then reading all those friggin book tour books just gah.  You get the picture.  I am EXHAUSTED!  Crawling under a rock and hiding from the world seems like heaven to me right now.  Anyway, enough of my blabbering and complaining.  Some quick updates and news before I start flooding you all with book reviews. 

My dear affiliate (and pretty much soul sister) Andrea @ Loud Words and Sounds has an amazing contest coming up to celebrate her blogs one year anniversary!  Contests aren't official yet, but I can tell you right now that it is going to be EPIC!  I anticipate cover re-design contests, iMixs for books, and just a whole bunch of amazing prizes.  And of course I couldn't let Andrea shoulder all the cost for hosting this amazing contest.  I will be donating all three, yes that's right, I said ALL THREE of the Immortals books by Alison Noel.  Sadly I do not own Radiance or the lastest one, but that's okay.  Haha.  I just know there are so many people out there who would enjoy them way more than I did.  Plus it will leave some room on my overflowing bookshelf.  So stay tuned and be on the look out my dears.  BTW my own blog birthday is coming up too!  Maybe I'll do something?  Or have a combined contest with my blog b-day and my b-day.  They are just oh so close together that it would work out nicely.  ^.^

And just as a forewarning here are all the books reviews that are coming up.  Virals, Hope in Patience, Hunger, Fallout, Tyger, Tyger, Crescendo, Blood Law, The Duff, Trance, Freefall, Prisoners in the Palace, and Halo.  I think that's all of them..... I think.  You thought I was kidding about those book tours weren't you?  Trust me, I would not kid about the fact that I had 7, yes I said SEVEN, books at ONE TIME from different book tours.  Did I go insane?  Slightly?  Did I want to cry? Definitely.  Do I regret it?  Eh... the timing yes, the books no.  So yay!  My life has finally slowed down a smidgen and I hope to get back to doing regular posts!  I can't believe I actually gained a few followers during my month induced silence.  So THANK YOU!  I really appreciate everyone's comments!  And well if you don't hear from me in another month... I would just assume the worst.  I have in fact become a zombie. 

Adios!!! Wait, wait!  I mean... BRrrAAaaiiIIIInnNNnSSss!!!!