Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Immortals ~ JT Ellison

The Immortals (Taylor Jackson #5)
Mira Booka
October 1, 2010
389 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

** Reviews of previous books in series **
It is Samhain--the Blood Harvest. Nonbelievers call it Hallowe'en. The night when eight Nashville teenagers are found dead, with occult symbols carved into their naked bodies. It's a ritual the killers believe was blessed by Death himself. (from Goodreads)
Recently reinstated - and with almost her entire team back together, plus one new member, McKenzie - Nashville homicide lieutenant Taylor Jackson is ready to get back to work. What she's not ready for is  the mass murder. What the team expect to be one murder soon turns into much, much more.

And something so different than what they're used to dealing with. There's always more at stake when children are the victims - more pressure from the public and from investigators themselves - and this time it's more than one young victim.

A case seemingly involving Satanism, witchcraft, drugs and young people at every turn has people both horrified and angry. It's up to Taylor and her team - along with some unlikely contributors - to bring the perpetrators to justice and keep the public safe.

The Immortals is pretty much a perfect book to review on Halloween. The crimes happen on Halloween - or Samhain or Hallowe'en, whichever. Not only that, the crimes involve the occult and there are witches, spells and magic in The Immortals.

The Immortals' magic using characters are not happy, light characters at all. Yes, they killed people, but there's some squicky stuff going on with them, too. While it was not always fun stuff to read about, I like that in this Taylor Jackson series, we get both sides of the story. We see Taylor looking for the killers while also seeing who the killers are. No, they're not just these horrible, evil, no-good-very-bad people she's out to find and capture but it makes the story much better.

Even if they're not people you'd want to hang around (at all), Ellison makes them human to readers, they're not just the bad guy.

This fifth book did feel quite a bit different from the others. I'm not sure if the type of crime gave the novel a different tone or if it was the flashbacks. Along with the story of Taylor in Nashville working to solve the Halloween murders, there was a sort of separate story involving Baldwin.

Baldwin and Taylor were separate through most of the book and his story involved Charlotte - who will be more familiar to readers of 14, but you don't have to have read that one - and some flashbacks. It was really it's own story and the chapters almost alternated. I'm almost nervous to see where this story line takes things in the next book (or two) but it likely did need to happen.

It was nice to see most of the old team back together and I'm glad McKenzie got to stay, he seems to really add something to the mix.

I like that this series, while still being able to be read as standalone books, moves the characters and their relationships along each book. Ellison also seems to be developing a 'Big Bad' who is present - and getting bigger and badder - across a few books as well as adding some new characters.

Rating: 8/10

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

The Originals by Cat Patrick
A riveting new story from Cat Patrick, author of Forgotten and Revived.

17-year-olds Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey Best grew up as identical triplets... until they discovered a shocking family secret. They're actually closer than sisters, they're clones. Hiding from a government agency that would expose them, the Best family appears to consist of a single mother with one daughter named Elizabeth. Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey take turns going to school, attending social engagements, and a group mindset has always been a de facto part of life...

Then Lizzie meets Sean Kelly, a guy who seems to see into her very soul. As their relationship develops, Lizzie realizes that she's not a carbon copy of her sisters; she's an individual with unique dreams and desires, and digging deeper into her background, Lizzie begins to dismantle the delicate balance of an unusual family that only science could have created.
Okay, so this is the arc cover - it may change before the final one, though I do love this one - but it's a cover which means I can use this as my WoW pick!!!

And I just about have to because I am really kind of crazily in love with Cat Patrick's writing (Forgotten review, Spring Break Blog Spectacular author interview, Revived review, and both Forgotten and Revived were WoW picks, too).

Patrick's debut book Forgotten was splendiferous and left me with incredibly high expectations for Revived  . . . and then what happened? Oh, that's right, I absolutely adored it/ Cat Patrick's two books are two that I recommend whole-heartedly (and give as gifts, too) and I cannot wait for The Originals. I think I might have to work on getting an arc of this one!

The Originals is out May 7, 2013 from Little Brown Young Readers --- Goodreads/Amazon

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Burn for Burn ~ Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian review


Burn for Burn (Burn for Burn #1)
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
September 18, 2012
368 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon


Lillia has never had any problems dealing with boys who like her. Not until this summer, when one went too far. No way will she let the same thing happen to her little sister.

Kat is tired of the rumours, the insults, the cruel jokes. It all goes back to one person– her ex-best friend– and she's ready to make her pay.

Four years ago, Mary left Jar Island because of a boy. But she's not the same girl anymore. And she's ready to prove it to him.

Three very different girls who want the same thing: sweet, sweet revenge. And they won't stop until they each had a taste.

Burn for Burn from Jenny Han, bestselling author of the Summer series, and Siobhan Vivian, whose most recent solo book is The List, is told in chapters that alternate from each of the girls' - Lillia, Kat, and Mary - perspectives.

While Kat and Lillia are Jar Island locals and know each other, even if Kat has been cast out and is now the one everyone seems to love to ridicule, Mary's the new girl. Mary left years ago because of a boy, one that everyone on Jar Island knows, just not the ways she did. But now she's back and ready to prove to him, to herself and to everyone that things are going to be different.

Mary's not the only one ready for things to be different. After the summer, Lillia's seeing things - and people differently and Kat's tired of just taking it. All three are ready for some revenge.

While any book with proposed bullying, whether it lacks any 'justification' or is vindictive, designed for retribution, still gives me pause. Moral high ground or no, characters are still setting out to be mean to other characters - and more than likely, something will turn out to be have been misunderstood.

Burn for Burn was the first book in a series and introduced the characters, the plot and got everything started. It didn't wrap everything up (thankfully) so I'm going to read the rest of the series and then decide how I feel about the revenge vs bullying. There was some effect on the characters in this book and I'm curious to see how that develops in the next book.

While the characters alternated narration, I think that Lillia was the strongest of the three in terms of development and being the character that seemed most real and easiest to identify with - followed probably by Kat. Mary might have seemed less . . . there than the other characters because the other two had more story together and, in this book at least, she was still a bit of the outsider which left her and the chapters she narrated to develop her character, on her own.

This book was a fantastic start to the series and definitely leaves you wanting to read the next installment (and soon) - I hope I'll be able to hear the authors at Miami Book Fair International and maybe find something out about Fire with Fire (Burn for Burn #2).

Rating: 8/10

Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian will be at MBFI Saturday, November 17th at 1pm


Monday, October 29, 2012

Miami Book Fair International

Looking for a reason (an excuse, an anything) to a week or weekend even in Miami? Well, here it is!

An eight day literary event in Miami - with publishers and booksellers selling their books and authors talking about their new, upcoming and old books alike, Miami Book Fair International is something not too miss!

The first five days, Sunday through Thursday, see author events while the last weekend, Friday through Sunday is the street fair and, most pertinent to this blog perhaps, the days where (almost all) the YA authors will appear.

While the full schedule won't be up until November 1st, the 2012 list of Confirmed Authors is up!

And I'm planning a MBFI Review Feature of sorts leading up to the fair (which, barring some catastrophe, I should be attending).

Authors like Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Saturday afternoon), Libba Bray (Saturday morning), Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian (Saturday afternoon), Laini Taylor (Sunday afternoon), Christopher Pike (Saturday morning), James Patterson (Sunday noon), Lemony Snicket (Monday, 12th) and more will be there!

Look for reviews of some of their books coming between this week and the weekend of the Street Fair and hopefully some tweets, pics from MBFI, itself!

Anyone else planning on attending Miami Book Fair International or have you in the past? I only have been able to once.

(Book Fair photo & images from MBFI site, used with permission)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Cinema Saturday

Ruby Sparks
20th Century Fox
October 30, 2012*
105 minutes; rated R for some language and some drug use
with Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Annette Benning
info on IMDb/buy Blu-ray or DVD/Amazon Instant Video

A novelist struggling with writer's block finds romance in a most unusual way: by creating a female character he thinks will love him, then willing her into existence.
While Ruby Sparks isn't a movie based on a book, per se, (which I do try to review/post about a lot on this blog) it almost is. Main character Calvin (Paul Dano) is a novelist who, at not even thirty is worrying about being washed-up. His first novel, published when he was just a teen, was a huge success and is seen as a future classic. Problem is now, years later, he's yet to produce his next great novel - or even not-so-great novel.

Then he starts writing about Ruby (Zoe Kazan - also the writer and a producer) and can't seem to stop.  He thinks he may finally be curing his writer's block - only to come up with a new, bigger problem when Ruby appears in his apartment.

Is Ruby somehow real? Or is Calvin going insane?

Ruby Sparks is kind of fantastic. Calvin creates this character who becomes more and more real to him, the more of her personality, history, etc he creates. He's creating someone that would be the perfect, ideal woman for him, lamenting the fact that she'll only ever be on paper. And then she's not.

Ruby's appearance, Calvin and other character's immediate reaction to her appearance definitely leads to some humor. It's also great that we, as viewers, already know Ruby through Calvin's imagination and writing of her. While she's a new character in the flesh, she's not really a new character.

I also loved that this was not completely a light-hearted movie. There was some seriousness and even a bit of darkness around Calvin and Ruby and their relationship when it possibly began to lose that everything-is-perfect, honeymoon stage. It was always known to Calvin - and viewers - that Calvin, ultimately, had control over Ruby and that kept things from really being light and easy. I appreciated that was not forgotten.

Ruby Sparks was a movie I have been anticipating for quite a while and I am thrilled that it lived up to the expectations I had for it. It's a brilliant concept (kudos to Zoe Kazan for her screenplay and great acting job) that was executed very well, too. I hope you'll see it.

Side note: The previews on this one were really great, too: 'The Sessions' is one I've seen short, short things for and not really paid attention to but now it's on my list. 'Lola Verus' was one that I didn't, actually, think I was interested in based on reading the IMDb and wherever else summary but I think I'll check it out now.

*Amazon Instant Video rental available now, purchases in all formats available Tuesday

  thanks to Think Jam & Fox for my screener of this

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Blind Spot ~ Laura Ellen (earc) review

Blind Spot
Harcourt Children's Books
October 23, 2012
336 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

There’s none so blind as they that won’t see.

Seventeen-year-old Tricia Farni’s body floated to the surface of Alaska’s Birch River six months after the night she disappeared. The night Roz Hart had a fight with her. The night Roz can’t remember. Roz, who struggles with macular degeneration, is used to assembling fragments to make sense of the world around her. But this time it’s her memory that needs piecing together—to clear her name . . . to find a murderer.

This unflinchingly emotional novel is written in the powerful first-person voice of a legally blind teen who just wants to be like everyone else.

Blind Spot was so, so different from what I was expecting based on the synopsis - and the cover, too, actually. We find out int he beginning that the body of Tricia Farni has been found, after her long disappearance, but then the story goes back in time to introduce the characters. We meet Roz who's just starting her sophomore year, her first year without her best friend after their friendship recently fell apart.

Roz also hates any time her macular degeneration, and eyesight problem that's led to her being declared legally blind, makes her stand out - and she's about to find that she'll be less able to blend in this year thanks to one person.

Readers also meet Tricia, a troubled girl in one of Roz's classes and other possible friends for Roz - as well as possible suspects in what the first part of the book is counting down to: Tricia's death.

The characters - and their circumstances and situations - in Blind Spot were both unique and a great way to move the story forward. I appreciated that Roz's 'disability' wasn't the only out of the norm thing a character was dealing with in this story. Some of the characters' personalities, on the other hand, seemed to rub me the wrong way. While Roz had a lot of book smarts, she had very little, let's say, walking around sense. There were so many times that I just wanted her to exhibit some common sense.

We did see that she was given several major stressors - both before the story began and especially during it - didn't have a decent parental figure, but a bit more introspection or logical actions would have made her a better character for me. Perhaps it was that the story was first person that created some of my difficulties here, but she aggravated me sometimes. (Sony!)

The adult figure creating a lot of conflict in the story also brought up a lot of questions. The actions did move the story along, create emotional turmoil for Roz and trouble between different characters, but at times I had trouble finding it all entirely plausible. If everything was happening as Roz told it, it seemed unlikely that no one else would take issue and/or believe her reporting of things.

The first part of the novel did read a like a great contemporary. There was a nice mix of characters, including characters with attributes that you don't normally see in most YA (or adult, for that matter) fiction. I don't see this quite as the 'mystery' the synopsis seemed to promise and do think the other aspects of the story were stronger. Though there were parts of (or character in) the book that I did not like, there were aspects that I did and I'm curious to see what Ms Ellen follows this with.

Rating: 6/10

thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my e-galley

Stacking the Shelves (Birthday-ish Edition)

(image should link to Tynga's Reviews & StS)

I've been meaning to start a new 'mailbox'/book received meme for a while . . . and now I finally am! I don't know if Thursdays will be my definite post day for Stacking the Shelves, that's still being decided, but for this week it is.

This post actually covers about two, two and a half weeks but things were so crazy here (I knew I'd have zero time for new book reading) and my birthday was last weekend so I just kept everything for my birthday (hey, it was fun!!):

from publishers:
Level 2  ARC by Lenore Appelhans (Simon & Schuster)
Through to You by Emily Hainsworth (HarperTeen) [review]
Bitter Blood (Morganville Vampires #13) by Rachel Caine (Penguin)

fantastic Halloween Box from Harper:*
Dark Eden by Patrick Carman
Dark Eden: Eve of Destruction by Patrick Carman
Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon
Fang Girl by Helen Keeble
Feedback (Variant #2) by Robinson Wells
The Turning by Francine Prose
Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
Ten by Gretchen McNeil

LT Early Reviewers:
Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel
(speaking of LT ER's, did anyone that was supposed to get Lucid?)

for review:
Ask the Passengers by A.S. King (from LBYR) [review]
What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton (from LBYR) [review]
Winter White (Belles #2) by Jen Calonita (from LBYR)
Zom-B by Darren Shan (not pictured) (from LBYR) [review]
Temptation by Karen Ann Hopkins (from author - and received earlier)

Beautiful Redemption (Beautiful Creatures #4) by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (not pictured)

DVD/Blu-ray of 'The Raven' (from Think Jam & Fox) - great to add to my standard Halloween viewing of 'Casper'!)
Ruby Sparks (also Think Jam & Fox) - post coming this weekend

the book-ish goodies that I won (along with the previously received gift card) from author Felicity Heaton

Happy Birthday to me, right?

*This was great as I'd already planned to review some Halloween books around Halloween. 
I'll also have something about the Miami Book Fair and the YA authors appearing coming up!

Link me to your post - whichever meme you're using!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Waiting Oon Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma
Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common—they are 17 and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these waking nightmares, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? And… is she next? As Lauren searches for clues, everything begins to unravel, and when a brush with death lands her in the hospital, a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.

With complexity and richness, Nova Ren Suma serves up a beautiful, visual, fresh interpretation of what it means to be lost.

I love Nova Ren Suma's Imaginary Girls and Dani Noir was prety fantastic, too so I can't wait to see what this one brings . . .

Her writing is great - and special - this cover is beautiful and I love the synopsis . . .Out March 21, 2013 from Dutton Juvenile.

Add it to your Goodreads/pre-order on Amazon/or the Book Depo

What's your pick this week? Link me?

The Lost Prince ~ Julie Kagawa (earc) review

The Lost Prince (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #1)
Harlequin Teen
October 23, 2012
370 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Not since 'Buffy' has burning down your high school (all or part of it) led to such a great story. One where the protagonist - and accused arsonist - is struggling to live a relatively normal life, all while dealing with the existence of otherworldly creatures - of the not so friendly variety - that no one else is even aware of.

Buffy almost had it easier in the 'pretending to be normal' department too: vampires couldn't come out in the sunlight and everyone else could see them. The fae, however, are entirely different. Not restricted to nighttime hours, they're around always . . . but only other fae see them, unless they want to be seen.

Which has led to Ethan Chase, Meghan Chase from Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey quartet's younger half brother, being labelled as a trouble maker - as a suspected high school arsonist.

Ready to start over now at another school, Ethan plans to keep to his rule not to look at Them, not to let Them know he can see. If they don't know he can see, the fae can torment him, can bring trouble his way - like they did before. They'll think he's like everyone else.

Ethan thinks he's done a fine job of keeping away the world that took his sister Meghan away from him and their family.Iron, salt, wards, he does everything he can to keep Them out, to stay unnoticed.

But it seems not to be working when he's pulled back into a world he thought he'd never be a part of again - and with someone he'd already vowed to stay away from.

The Lost Prince is the first book in The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten, both a continuation of The Iron Fey series - with Meghan, Ash and Puck that contains four novels and three short stories - and the start to a new series starring Ethan.

While it's clear that The Lost Prince is a new series - with new characters, settings, events, etc - Kagawa found a pretty perfect blend of continuing The Iron Fey series and starting Call of the Forgotten. Ethan Chase, at the start of the book, is a teenager, twelve years removed from the events of The Iron King.

It's a great way to start the series because those familiar with the previous books get to see what's happened to Meghan's adorable baby brother in the interim years and it also makes it possible for new readers to pick-up the series. There's enough information (recap for old readers, introduction for new ones) to get everyone up-to-date with the fae lore, what happened to Ethan already, but not so much that you get bogged down in previous events. (Old readers will be happy that it's not all catch-up and new readers won't be left thinking, "Hunh?!")

<spoiler-y . . . maybe?>

In earlier books, we got a glimpse of the Iron Realm, a new fae court - along with Summer and Winter - that the author created for this series. In The Lost Prince we get to see it fully imagined. I loved the parts we saw from Meghan's trips to it before, but always seemed to still have a better picture of Summer and Winter. Not anymore. Imagination is so apparent in the creation of the Iron court, you can picture it all. The Iron court has become as real, as easy to picture as the Seelie or Unseelie courts of Summer and Winter.


The characters are new this time around - tiny pre-schooler Ethan? Have you seen Ethan on the cover? Yeah, new guy - but we do get some visits from some old favorites (or not so favorites depending on how you interpret that/view them). It was nice to have some of them back.

Ethan's probably what made this book so fantastic. (Seriously, this book is pretty much made of awesome and I blame Ethan - and Julie Kagawa's writing/creation of him.) He's grown up, lived almost his whole life up to this point, knowing about - and seeing - the fae. Knowing that's where his sister is. It's wreaked havoc on his life in more ways than one. It seems to have not only changed but really shaped who he's become.

Ethan's a kind of brilliant character. And the other new characters? Not so bad themselves.

I really can't wait to see where this new series/part of the series goes. I'll be eagerly awaiting Book #2 The Traitor Son.

Rating: 10/10

The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten on Goodreads
The  whole Iron Fey series on Goodreads

Another Book You Might Also Enjoy: Stolen Away by Alyxandra Harvey

thank you to HarlequinTEEN and NetGalley for my e-galleya

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ask the Passengers ~ A.S. King (earc) review

Ask the Passengers
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
October 23, 2012
296 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Astrid Jones doesn't have a perfect life. Her mother - who has 'Mommy and Me' nights with Astrid's 16-year-old sister - all but ignores when she isn't trying to construct a new social life for her. Her father's present, but really only in the physical sense. Her sister, Ellis, quit being a friend a long time ago, now more their mom's confidant than Astrid's.

Her friends are her refuge from this crazy family life, but she's keeping a secret - a big secret - from even them.

Passengers it planes flying by overhead are the only ones who don't prod and ask Astrid questions, questions she doesn't want to answer. She sends each of them her love, even if the tiny action may never make a difference to anyone but her.

Ask the Passengers is a really good contemporary read. Astrid is not a teenager who has everything figured out - neither, actually, is any of the other characters in the novel. They have complications in their lives, things they are struggling to figure out, interpersonal issues with both family and friends, and/or internal struggles. The characters don't come across as burdened by these problems, rather it makes them feel real.

Astrid's mother is a great - and memorable - character. She's quite different from other mothers in other YA, or adult, books I've previously read. Her way of both butting into Astrid's life while still ignoring Astrid, personally was odd as a character trait, but written in a way where it made sense. It also made you feel for Astrid - and for Ellis, actually - for having Claire as a mother. Astrid was dealing with so much, questioning so much and then didn't have her mother to turn to.

It made the Passengers part of Ask the Passengers both very fitting and more fun to read. After Astrid would ask the passengers her questions, there were small chapters/interludes from passengers on the planes. Little glimpses into their lives.

While I really enjoyed the different characters in this book, the difficulties they had, the way they were working to overcome them - or at times putting that off - something didn't quite work for me. I don't know if Ask the Passengers just didn't click with me or if it wasn't quite what I was looking for, but something kept it from being a really great read from me, keeping it just really good. I liked it, but it didn't amaze me. I'm sorry that I can't pinpoint why.

edit: Now that it's the release date and I have access to the audio book, I've given that a try - and it worked much better for me. I think, for whatever reason the actual reading reading of this novel was slower for me but listening to it helped the pacing of the story. It also helped my enjoyment of the story. I'll keep my rating at a 7 as that's for the original review, but the audio version did bump up my enjoyment of the story.

Rating: 7/10

thank you to LBFYR for the egalley through NetGalley

Monday, October 22, 2012

Zom-B ~ Darren Shan review

Zom-B (Zom-B #1)
Cliff Nielsen, Illustrator
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
October 16, 2012
174 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

London's news coverage is filled with reports of zombie attacks in Ireland. People there are being murdered and eaten by zombies that fill the streets at night. B's mother is, of course, terrified by the apparent zombie outbreak and what it could soon mean for London - and her family.

B, though has other worries. Growing up with a father who hates, whose fists drive his point home, B's learned it's easier to go along with his hatred of blacks, Muslims, anyone different than to speak up - than to think anything different. It even gets B in fights at school for having some of the same beliefs, of seeming to.

Things all change when zombies do show up in London, at the school even and B's forced to work with anyone - regardless of skin color or ancestry - able to keep it together enough to stay alive.

Zom-B may not have been what I was expecting. The first half to maybe even two thirds of this, yes, short, novel are a zombie novel in the same way that This Is Not a Test was a zombie book: You know they're coming, you know they're out there, you know something bad will eventually happen but it's all but a contemporary. But, rest assured, there are zombies - and as this is a series, I'm guessing there will be only more to come.

The beginning, almost contemporary part of this book deals a lot with B's father's racism and B's struggle with that. Does going along with your father to avoid his wrath, even agreeing with and/or rationalizing his beliefs mean you really agree with him?

This is a great debate for a character to have (internal or otherwise) and I actually quite liked how condensed, how sparse it was. It felt like we got to see just enough of the relationship between B and B's father to understand B's turmoil. It didn't make B an entirely sympathetic character, nor did it make B an entirely unsympathetic character.

There's a great twist close to the end that I loved and cast most of the rest of the story (earlier parts included) in a different light. I love how it was done - and that it was.

This is the first book in the Zom-B series and it seems to get things set up well for the subsequent books in the series. The ending isn't as frustrating as those of the Larten Crepsley series, by the same author, but it definitely leaves you hanging and curious for Book 2 - Zom-B: Underground out in January.

Rating: 8/10


thank you to LBYR for my copy of the book to review

Saturday, October 20, 2012

BOOK & MOVIE REVIEW: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter ~ Seth Grahame-Smith

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Grand Central Publishing
March 2, 2010
336 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

We know Abraham Lincoln as the 16th president of the United States. For his Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves in the Confederate states. We don't know him as a vampire hunter.

Until now.

Seth Grahame-Smith's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter tells us the full story of Abraham Lincoln's life.
Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother's bedside. She's been stricken with something the old-timers call "Milk Sickness."

"My baby boy..." she whispers before dying.

Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother's fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.

When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, "henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose..." Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.
(from Goodreads)

With the journal Abe kept his whole life as the source, the guide Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter gives us an 'enhanced' biography of Lincoln. As someone who loves (well done) vampire tales as well as historical fiction and biographies, Grahame-Smith's novel is really the perfect marriage of the two (vampire and history) genres.

Though ALVH is clearly a novel, a work of fiction, it uses careful historical research, too. From Lincoln's childhood to his early years as a shopkeeper, his early political endeavors all the way to President, it's a biography of Lincoln in many ways.

With some vampires.

The vampires aren't stuck in, either. While the biography side of the novel feels very real (I haven't read enough - or read it recently enough - about Lincoln to be sure just how much of it all is true) and factual, the insertion of vampires into the story, actually give the actions great motivation. Abe's fight against the vampires, his anger at them makes a lot of things, actions and their consequences, make perfect sense.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter isn't a story where it's a stretch to believe that the paranormal element added to the known story could be true. Rather, it makes the known story almost better in some ways. Seth Grahame-Smith has fully integrated his 'other' into a very well known person's life story.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter will give you a better idea of Lincoln's life and all that he overcame and accomplished while you have some fun with a vampire story.

Rating: 9/10

Film Version

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
20th Century Fox
October 23, 2012
105 minutes: R for violence, brief sexuality
(with Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead & Anthony Mackie)
info at IMDb/buy BluRay & DVD/Amazon Instant Video

The film version of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter features a screenplay written by the novels author Seth Grahame-Smith. The novel and the screenplay being penned by the same person are probably why, despite the novel and film having such different stories, they have a quite similar feel.

While the book was a biography (with vampires), the movie is more of a journey/quest story.

Though, with the different way the story was told and the shorter time period it (logically) focused on, it still felt like we were learning much of the same key things about Lincoln's personality. The exact actions or events may have been different on screen, but it was possible to tell which events they were mirroring from the page, in order to give viewers the same message about Abe or another character.

The movie seems to stray more from history, from fact than the book did - and the change in characters introduce that. The main, main characters are the same - at least in presence, if not always in personality - while at least one new character is inserted. Mary Todd Lincoln's portrayal is quite different here than the book and what I think is true, but within the confines of this (fictional) tale it was nicely done.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter doesn't venture into horror movie territory - though there are some startling moments and there is tension. Nor is is a historical, period piece.  The filming and staging felt reminiscent of a graphic novel. Not in the sense of, say, the 'Spider Man' movies, but more if you took Buffy Season 8 - or something similar - took it from the page and put it into motion, and not quite animated. Then mixed it with a bit of maybe 'Sin City.'

While it did keep certain scenes from feeling entirely real, it gave the film a fun feeling; the panoramics of the battle scenes and the fight scenes especially.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, the novel and the film are almost two entities that can stand completely alone. Watching or reading one won't ruin the other for you and if you're familiar with one, you can still enjoy the other.

thank you to Think Jam and Fox for my screener of the film 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dr. Horrible & The Guild Halloween 2012 Screening Info

Regular(ly) scheduled posting will resume very soon; thank you to everyone who has continued to read - and comment on - the few posts I've managed to get up in spite of the craziness going on.

Here's something worth knowing about:

If you're in the Los Angeles area, there's a great event for you to think about attending:
© mutant enemy productions
Whedonopolis presents the “Weekend Before Halloween” charity screening of Dr. Horrible and The Guild season 5 and Husbands season 2. [from]
Benefits: Best Friends Animal Society
When: October 27, 7pm; doors open at 6pm
Where: Barnsdall Gallery Theatre in The Barnsdall Art Park
Cost: tickets $20 & include collectible Goodie & Swag bag

More info here

Friday, October 12, 2012

Talyor Jackson series (#1-4) ~ J.T. Ellison audio reviews

I listened to the audio versions of these and as my links go to info on the print versions, here's the Audible page. The audio version is narrated by Joyce Bean who does a great job!

All the Pretty Girls
Mira Books
November 1, 2007
411 pages
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When a local girl falls prey to a sadistic serial killer, Nashville Homicide Lieutenant Taylor Jackson and her lover, FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin, find themselves in a joint investigation pursuing a vicious murderer. The Southern Strangler is slaughtering his way through the Southeast, leaving a gruesome memento at each crime scene -- the prior victim's severed hand.

Ambitious TV reporter Whitney Connolly is certain the Southern Strangler is her ticket out of Nashville; she's got a scoop that could break the case. She has no idea how close this story really is -- or what it will cost her.

As the killer spirals out of control, everyone involved must face a horrible truth -- that the purest evil is born of private lies.

Mira Books
September 1, 2008
410 pages
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Ten victims, each with pale skin and long dark hair. All have been slashed across the throat, the same red lipstick smeared across their lips.In the mid-1980s the Snow White Killer terrorized the streets of Nashville, Tennessee. Then suddenly the murders stopped. A letter from the killer to the police stated that his work was done.

Now four more bodies are found, marked with his fatal signature. The residents of Nashville fear a madman has returned, decades later, to finish his sick fairy tale. Homicide Lieutenant Taylor Jackson believes the killings are the work of a copycat killer who's even more terrifying. For this monster is meticulously honing his craft as he mimics famous serial murders...proving that the past is not to be forgotten.

Judas Kiss
Mira Books
Janurary 1, 2009
395 pages
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It was a murder made for TV: a trail of tiny bloody footprints. An innocent toddler playing beside her mother's bludgeoned body. Pretty young Corinne Wolff, seven months pregnant, brutally murdered in her own home.Cameras and questions don't usually faze Nashville homicide lieutenant Taylor Jackson, but the media frenzy surrounding the Wolff case is particularly nasty...and thorough. When the seemingly model mommy is linked to an amateur porn Web site with underage actresses and unwitting players, the sharks begin to circle.

The shock is magnified when an old adversary uses the sexy secret footage to implicate Taylor in a murder--an accusation that threatens her career, her reputation and her relationship.

Both cases hinge on the evidence--real or manufactured--of crimes that go beyond passion, into the realm of obsessive vengeance and shocking betrayal. Just what the networks love.

The Cold Room
Mira Books
March 1, 2010
401 pages
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Homicide detective Taylor Jackson thinks she's seen it all in Nashville--but she's never seen anything as perverse as The Conductor. Once his victim is captured, he contains her in a glass coffin, slowly starving her to death. Only then does he give in to his attraction.Later, he creatively disposes of the body by reenacting scenes from famous paintings. Strangely, similar macabre works are being displayed in Europe. Taylor teams up with her fiance, FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin, and New Scotland Yard detective James "Memphis" Highsmythe--a haunted man who has eyes only for Taylor--to put an end to The Conductor's art collection.

Has the killer gone international? Or are there dueling artists, competing to create the ultimate masterpiece?

reviews below....

Thursday, October 11, 2012

What Happens Next ~ Colleen Clayton (earc) review

What Happens Next
Poppy (LBYR)
October 9, 2012
320 pages
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The school ski trip was supposed to be Cassidy ('Sid") and her two best friends Kirsten and Paige having the time of their lives, hitting the slopes.  It turned out so very differently, though.

Sid, the girl who, yes is a cheerleader - but the one at the bottom of the pyramid and the disliked by the others - who boys seem to notice only for her big chest and have always made fun of her curly red hair, gets hit on by a college guy. Dax, the older guy who notices Sid on the slopes invites her to a party. Finally the girl getting noticed, Sid has to go.

It doesn't matter if going means sneaking out.

But that night, Dax turns out not to be who she thought. Sid goes expecting a party but ends up having everything taken from her.

Unable to remember how everything happened, Sid can't bring herself to tell anyone. And it only drives her farther from her friends and the life she had before the ski trip.

With the need to start something new, Sid drops one of her classes and takes the only available option: A/V. The new schedule introduces Corey, "The Living Stoner" Livingston to Sid's life, as well and Sid finds that he may not be what everyone says he is - just as she isn't, either.

Can Corey help Sid find who she was - or who she needs to be now? Or does she even, really, know who that is?

Sid is a girl who is frustrating but in one of the best ways for a book character to be. You want her to just do something already, but it's absolutely understandable why she is not doing that something. At the same time that shes so frustrating, I also wanted to give her a hug and help make something better for her. In a novel where the character really needs to be sympathetic, Sid definitely is.

The style of What Happens Next is interesting. It doesn't feel as heavy as some of the other titles I've read on similar subjects, but then certain passages, certain sentences just grab your heart or hit you in the gut. They stand out more because the whole narrative isn't (and isn't trying to be) so hard hitting.

It's not a light-hearted story by any means but Sid's state of mind keeps really sets the tone for how the story is told. Things aren't as heavy or dark all the time, at least on the surface because she's trying to keep a normal face for everyone. It is, ultimately, only a facade, though and the novel reflects that. The glimpses we get verbally as well as with Sid's thoughts and actions really reflect the trouble she's experiencing.

I love that what happened to Sid - and what happens next to her while being the story, aren't the whole tale. There are secondary characters, one in particular, who really help What Happens Next shine. The transition we see in Sid is great. We're able to see the negative effects on her, those that she doesn't even see entirely aware of and then, maybe, see her emerge on the other side of it.

Clayton's done an excellent job with this complex character in a great book about moving on, moving forward.

Rating: 8/10


thanks to LBYR for the e-galley through NetGalley

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mystic City ~ Theo Lawrence (earc) review

Mystic City (Mystic City #1)
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
October 9, 2012
416 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Aria Rose lives in the Aeries of Mystic City, one of the Roses she's never wanted for anything her entire life. Until now.

For decades the Roses and the Fosters have been rival families, one ruling the East of Mystic City, the other the West, only now Aria finds herself engaged to Thomas Foster. With no memory of how this betrothal came to be, Aria can't fathom the proposed joining of the two feuding families came to be, but everyone else seems thrilled about it.

Their marriage will solidify a great political union and bring together Aeries -the privileged ones living about the city - against the mystics banished to the the Depths below.

If only Aria could remember this supposed great love . . .

It's not until she encounters Hunter, one of the mystics living below the city, that Aria thinks she might be even starting to start to remember something. It doesn't seem as if everything is as she's been told - about her memory loss or anything else.

The premise of Mystic City with its rival families, society castes, and a girl who may be about to uncover the truth behind what's she's always been told her entire life, sounded really fantastic. For some crazy reason, I had a little bit of a hard time getting into the story at first. At first it seemed like certain things were just too easy to predict or that it was too obvious what was too come.

As I kept reading, though, Mystic City really grabbed me, it became really engrossing. The things that I thought were too obvious or made an outcome too clear turned out to either be purposely that obvious, so that they would be guessed and figured out - or they only seemed so clear-cut so that when it turned out not to be what you thought, it would be surprising (but never not believable).

Aria's memory loss plays well. The reader is allowed to get a few steps ahead of her, seeing things she can't - or won't - see about both the story and the characters. At times it does get frustrating, as you do want her to wise up and see something or someone for what it is, but that's not who she is or where she is. It does get to a point that her naivete, however, is kind of pushing it - I felt a sort of 70/30 pull between thinking it fit her character and being frustrated with her, thinking she was being a bit dense.

The design of Mystic City reminded me a bit of what Julie Kagawa had designed in The Immortal Rules. Here we get a really good description of the different areas/levels, especially the Depths but I do wish there had been a bit more on how the city as a whole connected. Maybe I just had trouble picturing all of it. I did love that the environment, transportation, and things from the modern day were all taken into account when building this new, future city.

The characters and the emotion, not to mention the plot are fantastic in Theo Lawrence's Mystic City, Mystic City #1 and will leave you eagerly awaiting the second book in this trilogy.

Rating: 9/10

digitial galley received from publisher through NetGalley - thank you!
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