It's all about procrastination over here!

So, I was going to do book reviews, but I really don't want to think that much today.

See, if I write book reviews when I don't want to think, they will be short and perfunctory and some of you will be disappointed, especially Marty, who's waiting with bated breath for me to review the Stieg Larsson books and then you will all be sad and I will be sad and that's no good.

So instead, my last post of the year will be some happy music!

*dances*




Happy early New Year, everyone!

Monday Snippits: What can I do for you?

Whew!  Christmas/holiday craziness is over and I'm looking at a rapidly approaching New Year. I've got some plans, some resolutions and some fears, which I'll share with you all on Saturday. But right now, I'd like to ask a question.

What can I do for you?

I've picked up quite a few followers and readers and made some changes since I last asked this question in July.  So I'd like to know.

Is there something you'd like to see me post on more often?

Do you want me to do a book count in 2010? Book reviews?

Do you all have any suggestions for next year? What can I do for you?

An abrupt blog post:

Sorry, I would have posted more today (and earlier) but I'm busy reading The Emerald Tablet by PJ Hoover.

And playing Munchkin.

I love the day after Christmas!

What are you doing?

In which I share my secret stress reliever.

 It's a crazy time of year for a lot of people.  Some of us are working long hours, some of us are planning huge family gatherings, most of us are worried about money, and all of us are tired.

So I'm sending you, my wonderful readers, a blog present.  This is THE most relaxing song I know.  Listen to it once, then listen to it again with your eyes closed.  I promise, your stress will fade.

 The Lady of Shalott
by Alfred Lord Tennyson,
adapted by Loreena McKennitt



On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight forever kneel'd
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd;
On burnish'd hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow'd
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flashed into the crystal mirror,
"Tirra lirra," by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces through the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look'd down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott.

In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining.
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower'd Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And around about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott.

And down the river's dim expanse
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance --
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.

Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darkened wholly,
Turn'd to tower'd Camelot.
For ere she reach'd upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.

Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between the houses high,
Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and Burgher, Lord and Dame,
And round the prow they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.

Who is this? And what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they crossed themselves for fear,
All the Knights at Camelot;
Lancelot mused a little space
He said, "She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott."

(This is actually the short version of the song.  The whole song is about ten minutes long and contains even more beautiful language.  I strongly suggest that if you like this, you look it up.)

I wish you all a happy and relaxing holiday.  See you Saturday!

Some last minute gifts for the young or young-at-heart.

It's crunch time, only five days left to find that perfect gift!  So just in case you need ideas, I've got some...

The Princess and the Bear (Hardcover) by Mette Ivie Harrison
The Princess and the Bear
Harrison, Mette Ivie

As I blogged in February, I read The Princess and the Hound on a recommendation from several friends, and loved it.  But that love is a pale thing in comparison to how much I enjoyed this companion book about a dog who used to be a princess and a bear who used to be a king.  And that was primarily because of the main female character, Chala.  She's a hound-turned-human, practical, strong, vibrant and refreshing.  As with the first book, the language was beautiful.  5 stars

Life in the Pit (Paperback) by Kristen Landon
Life in the Pit
Landon, Kristen

Normal cello player Brittney is used to being in the shadow of her pretty, popular friend Amanda.  But when the handsome star of the school play starts paying attention to Brittney, and she and Amanda start getting threatening letters, Brittney feels like the world has turned upside-down.

A light, fun mystery. Good for anyone who's musical and maybe a bit shy. :) 3 stars

When Mike Kissed Emma (Paperback) by Christine Marciniak
When Mike Kissed Emma
Marciniak, Christine

This book actually reminded me of Happy Endings, a book I reviewed in February.  This too was a short, sweet story that I enjoyed a lot, with one exception.  Emma's main failing - judging others based on appearance - is one that particularly irks me, and so I spent a great deal of the book wanting to shake her.  But that could be because I was more in Mike's shoes in high school, so I took it personally.  A good gift for someone who loves theater, the Sound of Music, and happily-ever-after stories. 3 stars

13 Little Blue Envelopes (Paperback) by Maureen Johnson
13 Little Blue Envelopes
Johnson, Maureen

Okay, this might be blasphemy, but I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as I did Devilish.  On the other hand, I'm much more into wisecracking demons than I am into traveling around Europe.  Maureen Johnson's style is still as fun as ever, and if you have a teen who dreams of getting away and having adventures on their own, they will probably love this book. 3 stars

Tantalize (Paperback) by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Tantalize
Smith, Cynthia Leitich

This is one of those books that you start and think: "Okay, this is interesting. Let's see where it goes."  But by the time you've finished, all you can say is "Whoa."

See, I thought I could see the danger the main character was in. I thought I knew what was going to happen and it happened.  But when it happened, it was so much more than I expected that I found myself thinking something that I rarely, if ever, do about a main character.

I don't know how she could have possibly avoided it.  In fact, I probably would have done exactly the same things she did, which made the ending that much more powerful.  If you know anyone who likes vampires, Gothic fantasy or plain old suspense, you should get them this book.  5 stars

Anyone else got any good last-minute gift ideas?

What do you think?

 You'll notice a new look about...

For this I blame Amy and her wonderful Inde-Debut idea.  I really wanted to put up the icon, and perhaps a list of the other members of the group but I just didn't have the space.

So I redecorated.  In a demolish-everything-extreme-home-makeover sort of way. And I think I've got something that will work well.

There are still a few bugs to fix.  I still need to figure out why my comments are smashing together.  But all told, I'm happy with the new look.

What do you think?

Why you should buy your niece or daughter a Taylor Swift CD

*ducks to avoid rocks thrown by TS-haters*

Okay, so some of her stuff is irritatingly catchy, and I wish she would make more songs like White Horse and fewer songs like You Belong With Me (which is actually a very honest song and pretty much describes me and some other friends of mine and how we related to guys in high school and college but every time I hear it I want to yell "You cannot get a guy to like you by hanging around and being his best friend and waiting for him to come to his senses, guys don't HAVE SENSES and you should just get on with your life!")

But that's another blog post.

At the moment, I am now solidly pro-Taylor Swift for one simple reason.  This song.  (I've highlighted to extra-awesome parts.)

FIFTEEN
from the CD Fearless


You take a deep breath and you walk through the doors
It's the morning of your very first day
You say hi to your friends you ain't seen in a while
Try and stay out of everybody's way

It's your freshman year and you're gonna be here
For the next four years in this town
Hoping one of those senior boys will wink at you and say
"You know, I haven't seen you around before"

'Cause when you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You're gonna believe them
And when you're fifteen, feeling like there's nothing to figure out
Count to ten, take it in
This is life before you know who you're gonna be
Fifteen

You sit in class next to a redhead named Abigail
And soon enough you're best friends
Laughing at the other girls who think they're so cool
We'll be outta here as soon as we can

And then you're on your very first date and he's got a car
And you're feeling like flying
And you're momma's waiting up and you're thinking he's the one
And you're dancing 'round your room when the night ends
When the night ends

'Cause when you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You're gonna believe them
When you're fifteen and your first kiss
Makes your head spin 'round
In your life you'll do things greater than
Dating the boy on the football team
I didn't know it at fifteen

When all you wanted was to be wanted
Wish you could go back and tell yourself what you know now

Back then I swore I was gonna marry him someday
But I realized some bigger dreams of mine
And Abigail gave everything she had to a boy
Who changed his mind
And we both cried

'Cause when you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You're gonna believe them
And when you're fifteen, don't forget to look before you fall
I've found time can heal most anything
And you just might find who you're supposed to be
I didn't know who I was supposed to be
At fifteen


I don't know about you, but these lyrics really resonated with me.  Sure, I didn't have any kind of boyfriend in high school and my first kiss was a decade past fifteen, but I remember the intensity. Wanting to be noticed, being obsessed with boys, feeling like I knew everything I needed to know about life.

I think Fifteen acknowledges this and counsels patience and caution without being condescending.  Which is a welcome message, especially in the face of the growing "give everything up for a boy, especially if he's Edward" mentality.  I would give a song like this to my niece in a heartbeat. (At least I would if she wasn't two.) 

What do you think?

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters!

Required FTC Disclaimer: 

I did, in fact, receive this book as a gift from Quirk Publishing.  They saw my review of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and asked if I wanted to review this one.

I believe my exact words were "Heck yes!"

So now you know I'm potentially biased.  But the bias extends only to giving the review its own post.  I believe I would have loved this book anyway.

End of Disclaimer. :)





Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters (Paperback) by Ben H. Winters
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
Winters, Ben H.

Okay, I'll admit it, I was skeptical.  I mean I loved PP&Z, but part of that was the novelty, and part of it was that zombies are so entertaining in and of themselves.  I had doubts that Quirk could pull the idea off twice.

I was wrong.  Ho boy, was I wrong.

This time, Quirk didn't just throw in monsters, they constructed an entire sub-plot around them. And these aren't just random dead people showing up to eat humans, these sea monsters are smart, angry, and organized. 

My favorite part is when the girls are in Sub Station Beta (an underwater London) and the sea creatures organize an attack to break the dome.  So. Cool.

5 1/2 stars

Dresden Files: For the smart aleck fantasy fan in your life.

As you know, I've been in love with Jim Butcher books ever since I picked up the first one several months ago.  And like a good obsessive reader, I've been hunting them down ever since.  Here's what I've got so far.


Fool Moon (The Dresden Files, #2) by Jim Butcher
Fool Moon (The Dresden Files, #2)
Butcher, Jim

Did you know there are four kinds of werewolf?  I didn't.  Fortunately for professional wizard Harry Dresden, he does.  And when grisly evidence suggests that one or more kinds are loose in Chicago, Harry tries to track them down with the help of Bob, his wise-cracking, sex-obsessed information skull.  5 stars


NOTE:  If you're thinking #3 is missing, you're right. I was forced to read them out of order and when I finally got to number 3, circumstances made it impossible to finish before I had to take it back to the library. Turns out #3, Grave Peril, is the pivot point in Harry Dresden's life and everything that comes after relates to it.

Arg.

Fortunately for me, Jim Butcher is so good at backstory that I wasn't ever confused by the skip, just mad I missed so much.  I plan to try again later.


Summer Knight (The Dresden Files, #4) by Jim Butcher
Summer Knight (The Dresden Files, #4)
Butcher, Jim

A war between the Winter Court and the Summer Court of Faerie is bad news.  Being pressed into investigating by the powerful and very scary Queen Mab of the Winter Court is worse news.  Now Harry has to pull himself out of his depressed, downward slide (I told you I missed something important) defend himself to the White Council and avoid being assassinated so that he can save the world. 

But when Harry's first love--a girl who tried to kill him when they were kids--turns out to be involved, things get REALLY complicated. 5 stars


Death Masks (The Dresden Files, #5) by Jim Butcher
Death Masks (The Dresden Files, #5)
Butcher, Jim

A duel with a Red Court vampire that smells like a double-cross.  The missing Shroud of Turin. And a gang of super-powerful, fallen angels who are after both the Shroud and Harry Dresden's immortal soul.

Harry has the Knights of the Cross and his half-vampire ex-girlfriend on his side.  But it may not be enough.  5 stars

Blood Rites (The Dresden Files, #6) by Jim Butcher
Blood Rites (The Dresden Files, #6)
Butcher, Jim

This one starts out with Harry rescuing a box of puppies from a group of purple pyromaniac gorilla-demons and it just gets better from there.  He's asked to do an investigation by Thomas Raith, a White Court vampire into the mysterious deaths of several women.  But Thomas isn't telling him everything, and with the added complication of yet another group of vampires, Harry needs all the help he can get.

Especially since there's family involved.  5 stars

Dead Beat (The Dresden Files, #7) by Jim Butcher
Dead Beat (The Dresden Files, #7)
Butcher, Jim

Harry, his information skull Bob, and his new dog Mouse are blackmailed into tracking down an ancient text written by the most powerful and evil necromancer that ever was.  But when a group of the necromancer's disciples show up in town with mayhem on their minds, Harry has to take some unusual steps.

Like enlisting the help of a polka playing coroner. And resurrecting the skeleton of a dinosaur. Meanwhile one of the fallen angels from the fifth book continues to tempt him with promises of power.  5 stars


Proven Guilty (The Dresden Files, #8) by Jim Butcher
Proven Guilty (The Dresden Files, #8)
Butcher, Jim

Harry's been dragged into being a Warden for the White Council.  He doesn't like it, and when the Council sends him to investigate a surge of black magic, Harry finds himself int he middle of a horror movie.  Literally.  Entities that feed on fear are loose at a horror movie convention, taking on the aspects of the movies themselves.

Now Harry is in a race against, well, everything, to save the daughter of a good friend from police, the fear entities, the White Council... and herself.  5 stars

White Night (The Dresden Files, #9) by Jim Butcher
White Night (The Dresden Files, #9)
Butcher, Jim

Someone is killing low level magic practitioners in Chicago and the evidence implicates Harry's half-brother. Now Harry has to go back into the lair of the White Court vampires, into a power struggle where humans are collateral damage.  To pull this one off, he has to call on all his friends; Mafia, police, Wardens and vampires.  But Harry's fallen angel is more persuasive than ever.  Harry might win this battle, and lose his eternal soul.  5 stars

Again, sorry for the late post.  I'll see you Monday!

Another late post...

Whew, this week just flew by.  Busy work, lots of rewriting and I'm starting my agent search again! *gulps*

Now I have to open at work. But I'll be back this afternoon, with some great book reviews.

See you then!

Christmas time is near!

(At least for those of us who celebrate it)

In honor of this overcommercialized-but-still-vastly-awesome holiday, I'd like to share my favorite Christmas song.


 I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day 
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!



 I love this song for many reasons, not the least is that it is actually based off of a poem by Longfellow.  I just adore the language.  "Wild and sweet, the words repeat." is my favorite line.

What about you?  What's your favorite Christmas/holiday song and why?

Monday Snippits: Christmas List

Hey, I almost forgot to post my Christmas wish list!

This year I wish for:

~The Emerald Tablet by PJ Hoover

~The Navel of the World by PJ Hoover

~A subscription to SmartFTP (so I can finish my website)

~The movie Van Helsing, with director's commentary

~An agent :)

ADDS:  I'd also like circular knitting needles and The War of Art by by Steven Pressfield


There are a couple of other things that are supposed to go one here, but I forgot them.   (Which is why I need to put up a list in the first place.) 

What's on your wish list this year?

Song and Story Month

Whoa, how the heck did it get to be Saturday already?

I've decided to do a new thing this December.  Song and Story Month! We're going to celebrate the coolness of words in all forms and maybe get some good gift ideas too.

I'll be  posting reviews of some more new books, and highlighting songs that I think have vivid and interesting lyrics.  Please feel free to chime in with other recommendations or suggestions.

First up is a band called Antigone Rising.  I confess, I bought their CD From the Ground Up mostly because they all have awesome hair.  (Not the worst criteria, I suppose.)  But it rapidly became one of my favorites.

This is a song called What? and it was the theme song for one of the troubled main characters in my project last month.


Lost inside the pattern
of those who'll never matter
speak to you of freedom, rage is getting fatter
Empty as your beer can
crush me you're a mad man
Hanging on to history of hate in your hand


(chorus) What can I say
to pull you from behind?
What can I say
to make you change your mind?


I know what you're thinking
you believe in nothing
Hollow eyes say you're not whole
and you're not bluffing


Now we can't ignore you
now we can't afford to
standing on your chest are those that go before you


(chorus) What can I say
to turn water into wine?
What can I say
to make you change your mind?


(bridge)
Your anger looks so ugly like a handprint in the icing
of one more forgotten birthday 
of the child no one noticed
Lay the belt upon the table
hope for punishment that's better 
than the silence that surrounds you
and the love that never found you


(chorus) What can I say
to leave your hands untied?
What can I say
to turn water into wine?
What can I say
to make you change your mind?



That bridge still gives me shivers!

Do any of you find theme songs for your characters? What are they?

Okay, maybe a little bit more about me...

Two things:

Thing 1:  I am sad to announce that, barring a miracle from the heavens (which are mostly passing out snow these days), my book will NOT be out by the end of 2009.

*moment of sniffle-y silence*

However, like many things in life, this continued delay comes with an unexpected benefit.  Here it is:




This is a group started by my good friend Amy to help promote authors who are being published in 2010 and 2011 by smaller presses.  One of my regrets with Flute was that I wouldn't be able to be a part of a promotional group like this, and now I can!

To find out more, you can visit their site.



Thing 2:  I don't often comment on some of the popular blogs I follow, mostly because by the time I get there, there are so many comments that I'm intimidated.  But when Rachelle Gardener posted a rant the other day, a commenter said something that I felt needed to be addressed, and I thought I'd share my reply with you.
__________
Anon 3:02-

I believe there is a misconception in this statement.

"He writes great stuff... but never gets any feedback from the people who matter (agents, editors)."

The people who matter are not agents, editors or publishers. The people who matter are the people who buy books. The people who matter are the readers.

The readers are the ones who determine the New York Times Bestseller List.

The readers are the ones who fail to buy the struggling midlist author's books, thus making it hard for them to sell another.

The readers are the reason that the books on the shelves are there in the first place, crap or not.

The whole publishing industry, good and bad, is based on selling. Agents try to find authors they think they can sell, publishers want books they think will sell well. But the people who are BUYING BOOKS are the ones with the power.

Now, it's true that readers can't always tell you why they put down a book, or what didn't work for them. That's why writers need other writers. That's why they need to study craft, read writing books written by people who have sold books, and why they need to keep practicing.

But I don't think your friend, or any of us, would be well-served by looking to agents and editors as the ones who matter. Because you can get a great agent, sell to a huge publisher, get all the marketing support you could ever want, and still not hook the reader.

The readers are the ones who matter.
_____________


So that was my thought.  There's been lots of talk lately about the future of publishing, and I see a lot of writers getting angry, frustrated or despairing.  But for me it helps to remember that ultimately it comes down to one group of people, one final test.

Can you hook the reader?

Enough about me!

And my awesome 46,000 word Nano project.  Which combined with the beginning 14,000 words gives me a glorious, completed 60,000 word manuscript to play with in six weeks.

Whee!!!

Instead, we're going to talk about someone else, specifically Stacy Whitman, who is starting a small press this year.  Since Beth said it so much better than I could, I just stole her whole post.   *laughs evilly*

______________________

So.

Tu Publishing.

Publishing multi-cultural fantasy and science fiction.

It's important. Here's why:



I've been a fan of Stacy Whitman (founder of Tu Publishing) for awhile now, but although I knew she was working on establishing the publishing line, I didn't realize she needed help with fundraising. WriterGirl brought that to my attention. Really, you should go read her post here--she says it all much better than I would.

My favorite lines from her post:
I believe this idea is as important if not more so than the LIAR cover controversy. Bloggers moved mountains with that campaign and this publishing house aims to bring more books like that to us. They need our help. And I want to do everything I can to help make this a reality.

There are 14 days left on the fund-raising project and there is a lot of ground to cover. And the cool thing is, if you donate, you get stuff back. Please, spread the word. Donate. Contact others who might be interested. There is a fabulous auction going on. There is so much we can do, and not a lot of time left to do it. Please, I want to move another mountain.

WriterGirl is right: let's move this mountain.

Posted On Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at at 8:44 AM by beth  


__________________________

For more information, here is Tu Publishing's website and Stacy Whitman's blog.

See you Saturday!

Monday Snippits: Last day of Nano!

I'm at 45,000 words.

I have one day left.

I work all day today, and have a meeting tonight.

This should be interesting....

Sorry, guys...

I missed Saturday's blog post due to an extended turkey-mashed potatoes-and-various-pies-coma.

Sadly, it wasn't even that I just forgot, so much as I kept putting it off and THEN forgetting. This is the sort of thing that happens when you spend the whole day on the couch watching a Criminal Minds marathon.

How was everyone else's weekend?

No big post today...

I'm busy getting ready for Thanksgiving and trying to catch up on my Nano.  (Big climactic scene coming up. should be fun.)

But if you haven't already done so, you can leave some thanks on my Monday post.

Or, if you're as thankful as you can stand to be, you can enjoy this picture of a very grumpy laughingthrush.



"Eating turkeys?  I disapprove."


Happy Thanksgiving everybody!!!

Monday Snippits: Giving thanks

Today I'd like to thank...

~ My husband for helping me carve out about three hours of writing time yesterday,

~ The editor who critiqued my submission packet and said it's ready to send out as soon as X is fixed.  *squees a little*

~ And God, who sent us snow yesterday but was kind enough to make sure it was slushy and not freezing.

Your turn!  Please finish the sentence.

Today I'd like to thank...

Bleck is really all I have to say...

It's turned into one of THOSE weeks:

I'm falling behind on my writing.

I'm working extra hours, which is good for the paycheck, but very tiring.

There has been an atmosphere of general grumpiness in our house.

And I could really use a long shower.  (I'm not smelly, but I do need one.)

HOWEVER...

I am still breathing, all of my fingers and toes are intact and functional and I have most of my mental facilites. I've also got enough food to eat, more than one pair of shoes, and a job that gives me health insurance.

So I take a deep breath, make sure my shoes are tied, and go...

ONWARD!

More on Internet politeness...

I can see by the comments to my Monday post on Internet etiquette that you all are wonderful, considerate people who would never dream of being obnoxious on someone else's blog.

Of course I knew that anyway.  *grin*

However, several of you were confused by my question about trolling.  Let me clarify.  The all-mighty Wikipedia defines a troll thusly...

"In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion."


In other words, trolls are like those people at parties that everyone avoids. They are hugely negative, they try to sell you things or tell you how corrupt the establishment is.  They talk endlessly about themselves and what they think.  And no matter what you say, they never listen.  You cannot have a discussion with them.


Here are the examples the made me start thinking about this.  (And these are just this month.)

Agent Kristin Nelson decides to put comment moderation on her blog after previous comment threads are taken over by people who like to rant.   (example here)

Jim C. Hines, fantasy author and long-time rape information advocate, posted recently about rape on his blog.  He had to stop several livejournal threads that got out of hand, and ended up having to ban someone all together. 

And just this week, the lovely Moonrat disabled anonymous comments because of the comments on this post.

If you look at the comments that offended in each of these cases, you'll have good idea of the kind of trolling and Internet rudeness I was talking about.


I see this all the time:

~Some people claim that comment moderation or deleting offensive remarks amounts to censorship.

~Some people appear to believe that as long as they're speaking "the truth", they can say whatever the heck they want. And do it on any forum they can gain access to.

~Some people think it's okay to be personally insulting and to call other people names, because it's a free Internet.

I know what I think about this.  What do YOU think?

Monday Snippits

1.  Well, I managed to get back on schedule with the writing, and I'm over half-way done.  *does dance of joy*  The story is turning out to be very interesting too.

2.  I've been thinking a lot about Internet etiquette lately, and I'd like some opinions.

What rules, if any do you follow when commenting on blogs?

When does discussion become trolling?

Do you use comment moderation?  Why or why not?



See you Wednesday!

National Novel Writing Month Update

Dang.

I've written almost nothing in the last two days.  As you can see from my sidebar count, I'm not quite behind, but I'm having a hard time getting started again.  I'm running out of energy...  *frown*

This is what Maureen Johnson calls The Middle.

How's everyone else doing?

Some days...

... when you feel like this:


"O.  M.  G.  I am SO going back to bed..."




And this...


"That Accounts for a Good Deal," said Eeyore gloomily. "It Explains Everything. No Wonder."
"You must have left it somewhere," said Winnie the Pooh.
"Somebody must have taken it," said Eeyore. "How Like Them," he added, after a long silence.


When you feel like that, you need an infusion of cute animals.




 


 

 Aww, I feel better already!

(adorable animals courtesy of zooborns.com)

Monday Snippits: Things I say

All right, here are the origins of the "weird things I say at work" list from Saturday. Click on the link to see the actual line in context.

1. Hello, dripping yellow madness.    
(From Homestarrunner.com)

2. Silence!!  I kill you!!    
(Comedian Jeff Dunham)

3. So, it is down to you, and it is down to me.    
(From the movie The Princess Bride)

4. Must affix everything to everything!!     
(From xkcd online comic)

5. Can I get you anything? A hot pocket perhaps? Eggo?    
(From the movie Austin Powers)

6.  I can do it!  I will do it NINE TIMES!!! 
(Another one from Homestarrunner.com)

7. If it lays an egg, it'll fall down the back of the television set.
(From Monty Python's Flying Circus: note, this line is about three minutes into the video.)

8. Oh no...  what do I do with my arms? Oh no...    
(From the Mystery Science Theater episode: The Sinister Urge, this line is about four-and-a-half minutes in.)

9. Who cares?  Water!!    
(Comedian Jerry Seinfeld)

10. Because Starbucks doesn't take American Express.   
(From an old Visa commercial that I couldn't find a link for)

See you Wednesday!

Things I say at work that no one understands.

Being both a highly verbal person and a confirmed nerd sort, I frequently want to quote things- movies, Internet stuff, comedians.  There are certain things that I want to say ALL THE TIME.

The problem is, no one understands me when I say them, so I come off as having a bizarre form of Tourette's.

Since I had the good sense to marry someone very like me in this respect, it isn't a problem at home. But it can get quite amusing at work.  Here are some examples of the things I want to say on a regular basis: 

1. Hello, dripping yellow madness.

2. Silence!!  I kill you!!

3. So, it is down to you, and it is down to me.

4. Must affix everything to everything!!

5. Can I get you anything? A hot pocket perhaps? Eggo?  (Sometimes I cannot stop myself from saying this to customers. Mostly I get blank looks, but one guy did burst out laughing.)

6.  I can do it!  I will do it NINE TIMES!!! 

7. If it lays an egg, it'll fall down the back of the television set. (This is always said in a very bad British accent.)

8. Oh no...  what do I do with my arms? Oh no...

9. Who cares?  Water!!

10. Because Starbucks doesn't take American Express. (I can't say this, because it's not true. But when someone comes up and asks, "do you take American Express?"  it's very tempting to sound like the old commercials...)

Am I alone in this?  Does anyone else say things no one understands?

(Do feel free to guess where these bizzare statements originated.  Answers will be provided on Monday.)

Ooof...

Sorry guys, blog's going to be late today.  I went to a family reunion yesterday and stayed a bit later than planned.

*yawns*

So I'm off to work now, and maybe to a write-in, but when I come back I will blog.

See you then!

Some things that make me happy.

1.) Well, it's only November 4th, but my new writing ideas seem to be working.

- I don't write in the afternoon, instead I do early morning or evenings

- I made a playlist of songs that go with my story and characters, and I only listen to it when I write

- I bought myself a bag of discount Halloween candy.  The bag has thirty packages of peanut M&Ms in it, and I get one package every day if I make my writing goal.

- Yesterday I got stuck, and wrote a stream-of-consciousness complaint about being stuck and not knowing what to write.  By the time I was done whinging, I was ready to jump back into my story.

The upshot of all of this is that as of last night, I'm at 8615 words. I'm aiming for 2000 words a day, so I can be done by Thanksgiving.


2.)  The other thing that made me happy was seeing this post on my brother-in-law's blog.  (Bear in mind that my nephew's only five.)

What makes you happy this week?

Monday Snippits: When do you write?

This year for National Novel Writing Month, I'm trying to pay closer attention to my good writing times.

For example: I can't write in the afternoon. My brain goes to sleep, it's hard to concentrate, and usually I end up taking a nap. 

I write pretty easily in the morning.  But I do need more time to get really started, and I have to be sure and eat breakfast first.

My best writing times are at night.  I get into the flow more easily, and write faster.

This month, I'm trying to actively use this information. For example, I'm getting up a little earlier today to do some writing, becaue we have a dinner to go to tonight. I know I won't be productive if I try to write after work, so I'm splitting it up, some before work and some after dinner.

How about you?  When do you write best?

An (early) quick six!

1. The blog appears to be back to normal, thank goodness, although I now have the urge to redecorate the whole thing.

2.  I will not be home all day on Saturday, which is why the blog is posting early.  And when I say not home, I mean I will leave the house at five in the morning and will not be back until two o'clock the next morning.

3.  What am I doing?  Work. Hanging out with a friend and helping her with her costume. Going to a local play about Dracula.  Attending the midnight write-in for National Novel Writing Month.  In short, many things, none of which take place at my house.

4. Also, hopefully, there will be a nap.

5. I'm going to try to got to bed early tonight (Fri) so that I will not be short of sleep tomorrow. I've been rather unsuccessful lately at early bedtimes, but I'm going to try VERY hard tonight.  With everything going on, I could be up almost twenty-four hours straight.

6.  Did I mention I'm really hoping for a nap tomorrow?

Have a great weekend!

Please bear with the mess.

It appears that the template I'm using for my blog is no longer acessing its background photos. 

*taps fingers on desk*

It could just be a temporary server issue, but if not, I'm going to have to do a little reconstrutive surgery over the next few days.

Yeesh.

So please forgive the blinding white background and read the post below anyway.

I'll try to have this fixed by Saturday.  Thank you for your patience.

Please read this.

I did not write the following post, though I wish I had.  But since I read the original-- almost a year ago--I have never forgotten it.

Now, as some of us are counting down the days until November and some of us are in the middle of rewrites and deadlines, I'd like to take a moment.  A short space in time.  A deep breath.

And remind us all why we write.




Somewhere, there is a woman, sitting in a room, three days past a rape. Her bruises are turning purple and in a few more days, they're going to be that greenish hue of ghouls. She hasn't looked in a mirror, yet, but the swelling is starting to abate, and she can open her jaw without the execrable pain. The screaming is almost entirely in her head, now. The stitches hurting her remind her she's alive and she's not really sure why people keep telling her that, as if that's a good thing. She's not sure she wants to be. There's been just enough time to get past the initial shock, the stunned chaotic business of having lost any sense of strength in the face of the world. She has had just enough time to be processed, and there should be a stamp for her forehead: file # 56449A221.

Oh, people have been caring. They have been very professionally caring. All of the people, scads of them. They have been very careful not to touch her or move too fast. Everyone is diligent about addressing her respectfully, using her name, always making sure she feels like an individual. She can see it, see in their eyes how she is now different. The opposite of the person on the other side of the desk, where there are things like strength and weapons and confidence.

And right now, she is finally alone, though the moat around her has turned into an ocean, and the screaming, it just keeps on coming. For a few minutes, not having to deal with anyone else is good. A relief. But then there is the silence, and in the silence, it all happens again. She cannot close her eyes, because it's all happening. Again. She cannot talk to someone, because the screaming will break free. Or the tears. Either may kill her.

She needs. Needs. To be somewhere else, other than here. Other than this thing she's become. Needs to be able to step outside of her skin for a little while. Maybe a long long time.

She's going to go to her bookcase and pick up something. Maybe it's something where the woman kicks someone's ass. Maybe it's one where the good guy wins. Or the DA is brilliant. Or the girl comes of age and has confidence. Whatever it is, she gets to step outside of the bruises and the cuts and the broken bones for a little while. She gets to live a different ending. A different beginning. Have a safe place to be. And somehow, maybe, have a little hope that this thing, too, will pass.

Write a story for her.

~*~

Somewhere, there is a man, sitting in a hospital room. His wife has cancer, and he's been there, every day, before and after work. Except now, he can be there full-time, since he's lost his job. He's spent days seeking help, trying to find a way to keep her there, to make sure she has the care she needs, when all of his benefits are gone. He's filled out more paperwork in this one week than he's done in a lifetime, and only barely understands half of what they've told him, if that.

He'll try to get a second mortgage for the house. Sell off the second car, trade his in for something cheaper. The savings--such as it is, there's not much with two kids--is gone. The retirement will go next, and that might last a month, at this rate. They don't qualify yet for any sort of Medicare or help. His sister is at his house, boxing up stuff to sell. Doing it while the kids are at school, so they don't see.

The screaming is almost entirely in his head, now. The anger, the rage, the helplessness. His wife's asleep, and sleep is so rare with the pain she's in, he can't risk turning on the TV. She's been in too much pain for him to leave the room, though.

He's lost. He sees it in the eyes of the nurses, sees it in the eyes of the administrator. The woman running the accounts payable office.  He's become this other thing, this person he doesn't know, and right now, for a little while, he needs. Needs. To be somewhere else but here. Someone else but him.

He'll slump down in the God-awful chair they have in the room, punching a pillow that one of the orderlies found for him, and he'll crack open that favorite paperback he grabbed on his way out the house this morning. For a little while, he gets to be a hero. He gets to fight crime or solve problems, save the world or save the girl. For a little while, he gets to have hope.

Write a story for him.

~*~
A lot of people in the industry are scared right now--things look bleak. If you're pushing through NaNoWriMo or that draft on deadline or beginning a new project, you may be at that part of the process where you're feeling exhausted--or scared to begin. Writer fatigue and fear are hard to combat in the face of a lot of bad news, and especially hard to slug it out when it looks like the possibility of selling is dwindling to nothing.

And this, ironically, is when we need story the most.

Story-telling has been around for millennia for a reason--we need to connect. We need to both transport somewhere other than our own daily circumstances and to connect to others, to know that someone out there understands us. Understands our fears, our desires. We need to escape, without physically abandoning our family and friends. Stories do that. We need the hope, the connection, the dream.

Write a story for us.

Originally posted at the Murderati blog on Nov 23, 2008.

Monday Snippits: National Novel Writing Month.

All right my lovely commentators-and-lurkers, I have a question!

What is your opinion on National Novel Writing Month? (Otherwise known as Nanowrimo, or Nano)

Do you think it's a great idea?

Are you skeptical?  ( EDIT: Chuck has a good point in the comments: while Nanowrimo didn't work for him, he does think it can be good for some people. It's just valuable to understand the commitment.)

Or somewhere in between?

Also, if you're doing Nano, why?  What do you hope to get out of it?

(I'm doing it for the kickstart. After five months of revisions, I need a serious boot in my arse to get writing new stuff again.  Also, I'm excited to connect with other writers in the area.)

What about you?

Awards, recommendations and things you didn't know about me.

Three quick things...

1.  If you have written or are writing a novel, you need to go visit Alexandra Sokoloff at The Dark Salon.  She is a screenwriter-turned-novelist with some great insights on how to build a compelling story.

This was the post that hooked me.


2. This is my song for the week, in fact it might be my song for the last few months.  Sometimes we just need to slow down and say. "I'm alive, I've got shoes on my feet and and a roof over my head.  Life is okay."

I'm Alive: Kenny Chesney with Dave Matthews:  (The actual music video is okay, but I prefer this one by spadecaller.)


3.  I got a blog award!


I got this from Amy, over at The Invisible Sister, a wonderful fellow writer who is also waiting for her first book to come out. The directions to this award are as follows...

Recipients-You are charged with completing certain guidelines once receiving this award.

1) Copy the pretty picture and post it on your blog.
2) Thank the person that gave it to you and link to their blog. (Thank you Amy!!!)
3) Write 7 things about yourself we don't know.
4) Choose 7 other bloggers you would like to pass the award to.
5) Link to those 7 other bloggers.
6) Notify your 7 bloggers.


Now for the hard part.  Seven things you don't know about me...

1.  I like fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

2.  My nightmares are usually about very deep water and very big fish

3.  I have a secret love of old Tom Swift Jr. books by Victor Appleton II and wish I had MORE of them.

4.  I went through a potboiler romance period in middle school/junior high.

5.  The year before I got my driver's license, I ran my parent's van into the back of the garage.

6.  My first real job was as an light industrial temp, where I soldered circuit boards on the swing shift from 4pm to 2am.

7.  I like to imagine that I'm stronger, faster and more dangerous than I am.



The easy part is finding seven super-creative blogs.  And my 7 nominees are...  (in no particular order)

1.  Joanne at Whole Latte Life, for her wonderful pictures and insightful questions.

2. Renee, at Midnight Meditations for her awesome Photoshop Fridays.

3. Jodie, whose Madame Bluestocking blog is currently running a very funny series of ABC cartoons (which Jodie created) about a misfit Viking named Klaufi.

4. April at Cafe of Dreams, because she makes ME look like a slow reader and because she not only reviews books but also has author interviews.

5.  PJ Hoover at Roots in Myth who just launched her second book and shares her good news and fun generously with the rest of us.

6. Winnie at Opera Buffo, partly because she's funny and partly because she has a Jim Butcher quote on her blog.

7.Beth at Writing it Out, because I want to be her blog when I grow up. :


See you on Monday!

A very MST3K blog

Hey all!  Just wanted to let you know that the blog will be rather light this week. I'm unplugging a bit to do more relax-type stuff.  Like walk, read, watch Mystery Science Theater, etc.

However, I leave you with some profound thoughts on family dinners.




See you Saturday!

No one ever told me that this is how I read.

Last month, I shared that, despite my love of the fantastic in all forms, I'd read far more mysteries than fantasies.  Imagine my surprise then, when I checked my Goodreads this week and found that fantasy is catching up!

As I was trying to figure out the reason for the upswing, I realized something.

I am an author-driven reader.

If I find an author I love, I want to read everything they've ever written. And when those books are in a great series, I'm in heaven.

The reason my mystery count has been so high is because mystery writers tend to write in longer series.  No trilogies or four book arcs here.  Mystery writers write into the double digits.

So when I get into a particular author, like Elizabeth Peters or Donna Andrews, before you know it I've read twelve mysteries in two weeks.

But my fantasy count is catching up, because my newest book-crush is the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher.  And there are a lot of them.  I'm also starting to re-read some Mercedes Lackey, who's written more books than I can even think of right now.

I always defined myself as a genre person: mystery, fantasy, etc.  And I do love them on principle.  But the truth is, part of the reason I love them is the sheer number of books that these great authors produce.

If I find a prolific author that I love, I will willingly read outside my genres for as long as it takes to read everything they have to offer.

This made me realize something else too.  The best way to hook a readers--to really create a lifelong fan--is to write MORE BOOKS.

Sure you can have one book that's a random success, driving you to the top of the bestseller list.  But if you don't write more books after that, reader excitement will wane.

It doesn't have to be a series, as my periodic Dean Koontz marathons show.  But it is a cold, hard fact that one of the best ways to hook an addicted, passionate reader like me isn't promotion or reviews or book tours or even being a bestseller.

The way to hook a reader like me is to write another book.  And another one. And then another one.

So how about you?  Are you an author driven reader too?

What my readers are reading.

Thank you everyone for your awesome participation in my September-as-Book-Month project!  And as promised, here's a rundown of what YOU read this month.  (including books you were just starting, or were next on your list to read)

 Books:

- 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs
- A Bone from a Dry Sea by Peter Dickinson.
- A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
- Biggie by Voletta Wallace
- Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
- Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
- Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones,
- Don't Sabotage Your Submission by Chris Roerden.
- Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith
- Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs
- Paper Towns by John Green
- Peeps by Scott Westerfeld
- Lonestar Secrets by Colleen Coble
- Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
- Red by Jack Ketchum-
- The Adventures of Slim & Howdy by Kix Brooks & Ronnie Dunn
- The Anatomy of Story by John Truby.
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan,
- The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
- The Divine Commodity by Skye Jethani
- The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.
- The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers, 
- The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
- The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith.
- The Righteous Men by Sam Bourne
- The Third Option by Vince Flynn.
- The Way He Lived by Emily Wing-Smith
- Solstice Wood by Patricia McKillip
- Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell
- What is the What by Dave Eggars
- White Night by Jim Butcher
- Why Not Women by Cunningham and Hamilton


Miscellaneous/other:

- a plethora of psychology textbooks
- Windows Small Business Server 2008 Administrator's Companion by Russel & Crawford
- Facebook,
- Google Analytics reports
- "my dismal bank balance count"
- "your blog"
- Log in/log out reports.
- And a script for a play called Daddy's Dyin' Whose got the Will?



Well, that's it for September! We now return you to your regularly scheduled mismash of writing, random funny-ness and all the things no one ever told me.

The first thing I ever got paid to write

Okay, so this has very little to do with books, or Banned Book Week, but I thought you might enjoy it.

About six weeks ago, I got a call from a friend of mine who lives in Boise. He owns a small business that does videography for  weddings, commercials, etc, and  he wanted to know if I would take a look at a script for him.

I pointed out that I hadn't written a script since high school.

He said that was fine, he just wanted to me to make it flow well and get the point across.

I made a non-committal noise and suppressed the urge to point out AGAIN that I hadn't written a script for YEARS and it might not be very good.

He said he'd pay me.

Confidence is not my strong suit, but I'm not stupid.  Of course, I said yes.

The really funny part of all this?

It's a informational video for a hospital gown.

I'll allow you your moment of laughter (although the gown is pretty cool.)  Also, the part at the end with the half-naked guy in the hallway was totally my idea.

I take my brags where I can get them.

The script rewrite worked out, and now I'm writing another one for the company from scratch.  It's fun, and fabulous practice in thinking visually.

And that's how I got my first writer-ly paycheck.


Now go read a banned book. :)

Monday Snippits: Banned Book Week.

It's Banned Book Week!!!

Here are some links to get you started.


The Banned Book Week website

 A list of authors who have been censored, banned or challenged, including Anne Frank, J.D. Salinger, Maya Angelou and William Shakespeare. 


Another list of censored books put together by YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association)

This one includes A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle, and The Giver by Lois Lowry, both personal favorites of mine AND Newbery Medal winners.


Recent stories of attempts to remove books:

Ellen Hopkins,  part 1 and part 2

Laurie Halse Anderson  (if you read none of these other links, please read this one!)


As you can tell, I don't believe in the banning of books in public libraries and public schools.  As a writer, and as a person who is facinated by different kinds of people, this is perhaps not surprising. 

What do YOU think?

The Obligitory "Twilight" Post: Part 2

As promised, here is the rest of my opinion of the wildly popular (and somewhat notorious) Twilight series.  You can read Part 1 here.

I'm doing this review a little different than the first two.  I'll still point out good and bad, but I'm leaving out the ugly.  Partly because there's less of it as you go along, and partly because I read them during the move and wasn't paying attention to that stuff.

(Whatever else you may say about this series, it is decent escapist fiction.)

Lets get started!


Eclipse (Twilight, #3) by Stephenie Meyer
Eclipse (Twilight, #3)
Meyer, Stephenie

THE GOOD:  Finally, Finally, FINALLY, Bella starts standing up to Edward and not letting him dictate her every little move.  This was my main beef with this series: Bella's lack of self-esteem/spine. 

Also, conflict.  Lots of it.  Life or death situations, conflict between Edward and Bella, Edward and Jacob, Bella and Jacob, evil vampires, etc. The story moves very well, and all the characters develop and change over the course of the book.

THE BAD:  Bella may get a spine (sort of) but she goes about it all weird.  Edward forbids her to do something, even to the extent of telling his family to keep her from going anywhere and Bella's reaction is to SNEAK OFF, without telling anyone, to do what she wants to do in the first place.  She does this repeatedly until Edward gives up.

I'm not a relationship expert, but passive-aggressive behavior doesn't usually work out that well.  And to be honest with you, I still find Edward a bit creepy.

All in all though, Eclipse was my favorite of the series. 3 stars


Breaking Dawn (Twilight, #4) by Stephenie Meyer


Breaking Dawn (Twilight, #4)
Meyer, Stephenie




THE GOOD:  Worldbuilding!  Vampire backgrounds, more info on the werewolves, some history thrown in.  It was actually quite awesome.  I kept coming across this really neat stuff and thinking: "Why didn't she put some of this in the earlier books?"

This was the first one of the series that actually FELT like a fantasy to me, with depth and mythos.  Not just two people sighing at each other because their love is deathless and forbidden.

THE BAD:  The plot was clunky.  I felt like I was reading three separate books.

Book 1: Bella and Edward get married and figure out that stuff.  Everybody's happy.

Book 2: Bella gets pregnant, which makes her sick and touches off a potential war with the werewolves.  Conflict resolves itself very conveniently with the baby's birth and Bella's (messy) transformation into a vampire.  Everybody's happy.

Book 3: The vampire high muckety-mucks learn about the baby and decide to use it as an excuse to wipe out the Cullen family.  Lots of gathering of allies, lots of battle plans, a tense confrontation, surprise resolution, and everybody's happy.

It was frustrating because I wanted so badly to get into the book, but the tension kept fading away on me.  Oh well...  3 stars



CONCLUSION:  After reading all four books and evaluating the good and bad, I've decided I'm not excited about the series as a whole.  And believe it or not, it wasn't the writing or the Bella-Edward relationship that tipped the scales.  Meyer tells a good story and tells it (for the most part) very well.

I walked away from the last book, and here's the thing that really bugged me:

 Bella pays absolutely no serious price for her decisions.

This was the totally unbelievable thing to me.  Ordinary girl falls in love with dark brooding hero, gets transformed into a beautiful being with godlike powers, and doesn't have to give up anything to do it.

Everybody in Edward's family loves her.  Jacob isn't mad at her anymore, her father gets to come over and her bloodlust turns out to be controllable so she gets to stay in Forks.

I call "No way".

Ask anyone who's made a cross-cultural or interracial marriage, and they will tell you:  It's not easy.  Ask anyone who's converted to a different religion, and they will tell you the same thing.

It is almost impossible to make those kinds of major decisions without offending (or at least causing conflict with) someone.  And it doesn't all go away after the decision is made either.  There are adjustments, compromises, work.

 But Bella can marry the living dead, become a vampire with a lust for human blood,and not only fit in seamlessly, but end up making everyone she loves happy?  Really?

I  couldn't swallow it.

That's just my opinion though.  What's yours?

Anyone looking for some awesome YA fantasy?

Despite my love of all things mysterious, many of my favorite books are young adult fantasy and I'm always on the lookout for good ones.

Here are some I've found:


Fairest (Hardcover) by Gail Carson Levine
Fairest
Levine, Gail Carson

This may be blasphemy, but I wasn't super taken with Ella Enchanted.  It wasn't a bad book, it just didn't make me go "Wow".  Fairest was much more my speed.  I love retold fairy tales and Gail Carson Levine manages to be both true to the original and totally unique in this spin on "Snow White". The pacing is good throughout, and it takes place in a kingdom where everyone sings all the time.  What's not to love?  4 stars


Dead Is the New Black (Paperback) by Marlene Perez
Dead Is the New Black
Perez, Marlene

This book restored my faith well-done, shorter YA. I read it in one sitting, but the characters and the world were fleshed out enough to make me want to read more.  This isn't your typical vampire-high school book. 
The pyschic Giordano sisters, especially Daisy (whose powers have yet to show) have sass and humor to spare.  4 stars


Darkwood (Hardcover) by M.E. Breen
Darkwood
Breen, M.E.

This would probably come more under the heading of middle grade fiction, but I'm throwing it in anyway.  I can't tell you much about it without ruining the very well-done world building, but here is the first sentence:  "Darkness falls so quickly in Howland that the people there have no word for evening."

This is not just any darkness:  this is can't-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face darkness.  The only creatures out at night are the mysterious and deadly kinderstalk.  Oh, and a clever run-away named Annie.   3 stars


Eternal (Tantalize, #2) by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Eternal (Tantalize, #2)
Smith, Cynthia Leitich

PJ Hoover was nice enough to throw this into a package of books I won on one of her blog contests, and I was delighted.  Cynthia's blog, Cynsations, has been a fixture on my Google Reader for a long time and I've been wanting to read her books.  Especially Eternal.

Did it live up to my expectations?  Heck YES!

Forget forbidden romance between a plain-but-not-really human and a good-but-tormented vampire who wants to eat her.  Try a romance between a vampire princess (who regularly drinks the blood of kidnapped humans) and her disgraced guardian angel.

THAT'S a relationship with issues.  And both characters are completely believable: sympathetic enough so that we root for them, but flawed enough that you wonder how they're ever going to figure it out.

5 stars


And speaking of vampires, tune in on Saturday for...

 The Obligatory "Twilight" Post:  Part 2!!!!!!!

(If you want to read Part 1, click here.  But be warned, I liked some stuff about the books, but not everything.  So there is some ranting.)

Monday Snippits

Thanks again to everyone who took the time last week to let us know what they were reading!  I'm going to put the list together and use it in a post soon, just for fun.

Now I have another question:  What is your favorite KIND of book?

Romance? Suspense? Action? Fantasy? Literary? Chick Lit?

What do you love to read?

(Normally when asked, I say I love fantasy.  But according to Goodreads, I've read 51 mysteries this year alone, more than any other catagory.  So I guess you could say I'm a fantasy/mystery buff.)

Awards and Agatha Christie....

Hey, I got a blogger award!





This is the Literary Blogger Award For Energizing And Inspiring Reading-- (very appropriate for this month, I thought.)  It was given to me by Helen, who does all kinds of writing and book news on her blog Straight from Hel.

Here are the rules to the Literary Blogger Award:
1. Accept the award and post a link to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Pass the award on to three people and link to their blog.
3. Notify those you nominated for the award.

And here are my choices:

-John over at Running After My Hat:  John has an abundance of awesome quotes, poetry and literary references.  There's always something over there that I've never seen before.(and I mean that in a good way)

-Editorial Ass:  Moonrat over at Ed. Ass not only has all kinds of book industry coolness, but she's part of the Fill in the Gaps Project, where people are challenged to read the classics they've been putting off.  If that wasn't enough, she's one of the organizers of the Gravity's Rainbow Readalong

-Actually, The Fill in the Gaps Project rates their own nomination.  This is an open blog where anyone who is signed up for the project can post reviews.  I don't know if you can blog-award a blog with so many "authors" but they are certainly  "Energizing And Inspiring Reading"!


We now return you to your regularly scheduled reviews...


The Clocks: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Mystery Masters Series) by Agatha Christie
The Clocks: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Mystery Masters Series)
Christie, Agatha

Meh.  Not enough Poirot, too many disparate plot points and I didn't care much for the narrator. The mystery was decent though. 2 stars



Ordeal by Innocence (Mass Market Paperback) by Agatha Christie
Ordeal by Innocence
Christie, Agatha

A doctor returns from an expedition to discover that he was the only alibi of a man convicted of murder.  The man has died in prison, but the doctor wants to make amends by discovering the real killer.  An interesting and unusual Christie book, but not a particularly memorable one. 3 stars



Three Act Tragedy (Hercule Poirot Mysteries (Paperback)) by Agatha Christie
Three Act Tragedy
Christie, Agatha

Another Poirot, and a pretty good one.  The crime is creative and red herrings abound.  Plus the solution plays out over a much longer period of time than most Christie books do, which makes the ultimate twist all the more interesting.  Told from the point of view of Mr. Satterthwaite of Mysterious Mr. Quinn fame.  3 stars



A Murder is Announced (Miss Marple Mysteries) by Agatha Christie
A Murder is Announced
Christie, Agatha

Just when I thought I'd read all the really good Christie books, I found this one.  It was one of those mysteries where you start yelling half-way through.  "They did it!  They totally did it!" But you keep reading because you're not really sure.  And then you turn out to be right.   I love that.  And I love the idea of announcing a murder in the paper before you do it.  Delightfully devious.  5 stars



Hallowe'en Party (Poirot) by Agatha Christie
Hallowe'en Party
Christie, Agatha

I figured out who did it in this one too, and it was a fun read.  But the narrative wasn't as smooth.  Still, it had plenty of Adriane Oliver, the scattered writer who is far and above my favorite Christie character.  So, 4 stars



A Daughter's Daughter (Hardcover) by Mary Westmacott
A Daughter's Daughter
Westmacott, Mary

Believe it or not, this is an Agatha Christie book.  Turns out Ms. Christie also wrote under the name of Mary Westmacott.  This book--the story of a mother and her grown daughter--is kind of a relational suspense novel.  No dead bodies or whodunits.  But it was surprisingly moving, and managed to be sad without overly depressing me.  4 stars.


See you Monday!
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