zombie bites

Monday, August 31, 2009 | | 8 comments
Velvet over at vvb32reads is holding an event (okay, so it’s a giveaway) in conjunction with Zombie Appreciation week.

The challenge is to go and take the Zombie Bite Quiz, which will tell you how long it’ll take you to succumb and become a zombie. It’s fun, and there’s a prize! You’ll be entered to win Max Brooks’ World War Z.

The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.

Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.

Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, “By excluding the human factor, aren’t we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn’t the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as ‘the living dead’?”

Note: Some of the numerical and factual material contained in this edition was previously published under the auspices of the United Nations Postwar Commission.

Now, doesn’t that sound fun? So take the quiz, and then go tell Velvet how long you’ll have to live…

The Zombie Bite Calculator

in which the author tells all about her fantasies

Fantasy BOOKS, of course. Geez. Ha! But seriously, I was informed that there was a 101 Fantasy Book Meme to go along with the voting for the 101 Best Fantasy Books project. In case you don’t know what this is, please check out this link. Really. Nominations for the best fantasy book ever (and then the next 100) close August 31. After that, vote and participate in the meme with me, because you know you love fantasy. Yes, paranormal counts (at least, I think it does…). It’s only five questions, and it’s for a good cause…

What is your favorite fantasy series?

It’s really hard to answer this. Can I choose three? What? I couldn’t hear that…and thus I will do what I want. *grin* So…the Harry Potter books, by J.K. Rowling (you kind of had to expect that), Garth Nix’s Keys to the Kingdom series, and Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters. I can’t entirely believe that I’m leaving out Tolkien, but since I was only supposed to pick one…

What is your favorite fantasy character?

Harry from Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword, Sabriel from the Abhorsen trilogy, or Sophie from Diana Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle. And probably many, many more.

What is your favorite fantasy creature?

Water sprites, fauns (benevolent), centaurs. Oh! And the goblins in Tad Williams' The War of the Flowers.

What is your favorite fantasy world?

London Below, from Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. Or Narnia. It's probably terribly cliche to say Narnia...

What is your favorite fantasy “magic” (i.e. The Will and the Word in David Eddings’ Belgariad series)?

I recently fell in love with the new magic in Patricia C. Wrede’s Thirteenth Child. There are three distinct types in that book, all swirling together at times to form a new kind - Columbian. By the way, if you haven’t read it yet, it’s made of awesome.

Shoot. I know I've left lots of favorites off the list, but they're not coming to mind... So it should be obvious from this little exercise that I am categorically incapable of narrowing choices down to ONE final answer. This does not bode well for my future Jeopardy career…

zombie-licious survey

Saturday, August 29, 2009 | | 5 comments
Today marks the beginning of September Zombies week! I had my zombie-terrific dad take a survey. My questions are in bold with his answers below. As you can see, he’s past all hope. And apparently, I am too?

Zombie: define.

A person arriving two minutes late for work, school, or any other early morning event and hasn't had their coffee. (Just kidding.) Actually, a Zombie is what's left over in the chair after a 4-hour root canal. (Just kidding.) I think this question is too difficult for me. Can I have a different one? No? Then I'm going to guess. A Zombie is...uh...well...it's...hmmmm...maybe...no...perhaps...nuts! I'm going to check a dictionary. Be back shortly. Okay, definition 1: a Zombie is a constellation in the northern hemisphere near Aquarius and Andromeda. Definition 2: a Zombie is a substance consisting of ground, pulverized, or otherwise finely dispersed solid particles. Definition 3: Any of various echinoderms of the class Echinoidea, having a soft body enclosed in a round, symmetrical, limy shell covered with long spines. Definition 4: A subdivision of any metrical composition to minus one the sine of a variation of the prototype and disorientation of the mind. Personally, I prefer definition 4. Very succinct.

Can zombies swim? Explain.

No. Zombies cannot swim because their dorsal fins and gills were removed when they joined the Zombie club. They can, however, play golf because it takes no brains to play golf. If you doubt that, stop by a golf course and check it out. No lie.

Would you rather shave your beard or lose a finger to a zombie?

I would rather shave my beard than lose a finger to a Zombie. Actually, though, I'd never lose a finger, a foot race, a bike race or any other body part to a Zombie, because I'm infinitely more athletic than them all.

Do you think zombies talk to rats?

Yes. Zombies talk to rats (and squirrels and bunnies and maggots and roaches). However, the rats, squirrels, bunnies, maggots, and roaches don't pay them any mind. (I think it is a question of pride for the rats, squirrels, etc., and beneath their dignity to respond to Zombies. IMHO)

Would you rather brave Ginny's driving or the zombie apocalypse?

I would rather brave the Zombie apocalypse than Ginny's driving. Ginny will continue driving until she's 97 years old and I don't want to be dependent upon her. I'd rather drive myself, anyway. As for the Zombie apocalypse, I don't expect it to last more than a few seconds and it'll all be over. After all, what can a Zombie do? Not much.

What is a zombie's preferred body part (for eating)?

As for body parts, a Zombie will always start eating on its toes. After eating its toes, it will gradually move up to dessert. A Zombie's dessert is about the size of a chocolate M&M. (For those who haven't figured it out, Zombie dessert is its brain).

If the zombie apocalypse occurs, what will you do?

At the Zombie apocalypse, I will watch with disinterest (it'll only last for a few seconds) and then go back to reading the encyclopedia.

How do you rate your chances of surviving a zombie apocalypse?

I will survive the Zombie apocalypse, as will most of my friends and relations. Unfortunately, the survey giver will succumb because she's already a Zombie.

What are three things a zombie would buy at a mall? At a hardware store?

A Zombie will stop at Victoria's Secret at the mall. I have no idea what might be bought there because I don't frequent that shop. As for the hardware store, wooden paint stirrers are the most likely items a Zombie would be interested in. Three is not enough, but this survey didn't allow for more than three.

How will you know a zombie when you see it?

A Zombie is known by the friends he/she keeps. Not hard to recognize, at all. Bleary-eyed, disheveled, gaping yawn, frumpy, you know the drill...check yourself out in a mirror and you'll know what I mean.

Who is the first person you will attack when you become a zombie?

I won't become a Zombie, therefore this question cannot be answered. My best guess, though, would be the Polar bear. These bears don't like competition and quash Zombies with alacrity and regularity.

Rate this survey on a scale of zombie awesomeness. 1 being rotten through, and 10 being fresh for the kill.

Unfortunately, this survey was sent to the WRONG person. I only know one Zombie and she made up this survey. However, if I were to rate it, I'd have to give it a minus 3. That means, it isn't worth using to line a rat's cage. (Besides the rat would be offended.)

serious chocolate goodness

Friday, August 28, 2009 | | 9 comments

My sister and brother are heading to a meeting this evening and need to bring A DESSERT. I volunteered my services. These are seriously awesome cookies. They are rich and decadent, and perfect for Christmas parties, chocolate junkies and when you need to impress that special someone (or bribe them, whichever). I mean, like, YUM.

Fudge Crackle Cookies

INGREDIENTS

1 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

¼ c. butter or margarine

1 c. plus 3 Tbsp. sugar

3 squares (1 oz. each) unsweetened chocolate – OR heaping ¼ cup unsweetened powdered chocolate + 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

¾ c. chopped nuts (I used walnuts…’cause that’s what I put in real fudge)

DIRECTIONS

Mix flour, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Set aside. In saucepan, stir butter and chocolate (or butter, oil and chocolate) over low heat until melted and smooth. When cool, stir in 1 cup sugar, eggs, vanilla and nuts; mix until blended. Add chocolate mixture to flour mixture, stir until blended. Cover and chill 1 ½ to 2 hours until firm (or flash cool in freezer for 30 minutes). Preheat oven to 300˚F. Roll into 1-inch balls; then roll in extra sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet, and bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until tops are crackled and slightly firm to touch.

magic for marigold

Alyce at At Home with Books has started a weekly tradition of revisiting past reading favorites and bringing them into the spotlight.


My pick this week is L.M. Montgomery’s Magic for Marigold. I didn’t read Anne of Green Gables somewhere between nine and eleven and love the film version like all the other girls my age. In fact, it took me years after reading Magic for Marigold to finally go through the Anne series. But I wasn’t missing any of the beautiful descriptions and joyful depictions of childhood, PEI or small-town life and family, because Magic for Marigold had plenty of all of those.


The story begins at the very start of Marigold’s life, when she is known only as the still-unnamed Lesley baby. It carries on through her childhood, with anecdotes and experiences over the years, and finally ending somewhere around age twelve, or the end of childhood. Changing perceptions and friends and family happenings making up the storyline, and the adventures of an imaginative, humorous and self-contained little girl make for charming reading. There’s mischief, there’s the magic found in innocence, and there are the joys as well as the small tumbles and embarrassments that make up a truly happy childhood. This book is delightful, and is suitable for girls of all ages (perhaps even a few discriminating boys, too!).


In my quick re-read last night, I was struck by how much I enjoyed the family dynamics described in this little novel. I don’t remember paying much attention to the adults in the story as a kid, but now that I’m an adult myself, I see that they are not just window-dressing. Ms. Montgomery wrote humorously, and sometimes the intrigue, politics and foibles of the adult characters are laugh-aloud worthy. You can just see the society of the turn of the century, and hear the sharp, silly and wise voices all coming in and giving their very decided opinions…it’s quite fun!


This book is available, free of charge, via Project Gutenberg. Good thing, because it doesn’t appear to be in print any longer.


Four whole months have gone by since she was born, and no one in the eccentric Lesley clan can agree on what to call Lorraine’s new baby girl. Lorraine secretly likes the name Marigold…but who among the assorted aunts, uncles, grandmothers, and cousins would ever agree to such a fanciful and outlandish name as that?

When the baby falls ill and kindly Dr. M. Woodruff Richards saves her life, the family wants to name the little girl after the good doctor. But a girl named Woodruff? How fortuitous that Dr. Richards’s seldom-used first name turns out to be…Marigold!

Of course, a girl with such an unusual name as Marigold is destined for many exotic adventures. It all begins the fateful day she meets a little girl who claims to be a real-life princess…

zombie haiku (yes, they really are everywhere!)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 | | 14 comments

Velvet at vvb32reads is hosting a September Zombies week (running August 29 - September 5), and it starts in just 3 days!

As a teaser and an incentive to get your brains zombified, she’s holding a contest to win a copy of Zombie Haiku: Good Poetry for Your...Brains by Ryan Mecum. It sounds deliciously horrible, if that makes any sense. Or maybe just like a lot of silly fun...

You can get a contest entry just by commenting on her post, but you’ll have much better odds if you compose a zombie haiku. Go forth and…(de)compose!

As far as I know, this is my first attempt (ever!) at haiku. I had to ask my sister what haiku structure entailed (5-7-5? That's it?!). Created on the spot. I apologize. But I laughed and enjoyed writing it, so maybe this is new and amazing entertainment?

Zombies

I run away from

undead monsters intent on

eating brain. No thanks.

teaser tuesday (8)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 | | 30 comments
It's Teaser Tuesday, a bookish blog meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Here's how it works:

Grab your current read and let it fall open to a random page. Post two (or more) sentences from that page, along with the title and author. Don’t give anything vital away!

Even though I’d reluctantly washed my hands to finish up dinner, his musky scent lingered on my clothing, keeping the encounter fresh in my mind. It had taken six years for him to let me touch him. Hold him.

-p. 22 of Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver

geographic happiness

Monday, August 24, 2009 | | 5 comments

While I tend to read mostly fantasy and YA fiction for pleasure, I also occasionally indulge in the travel, food and history non-fiction genres. You wouldn’t know it from looking at the list of books I’ve mentioned on this blog, though. So to even the scales, I picked up a book that’s been sitting in my to-read pile for almost 6 months – The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. And what better time than when actually traveling? This is the one book I read all the way through on my mother-daughter cross-country journey – the rest of the time I was occupied with driving or observing the gorgeous scenery passing by my window at 75 miles per hour (or not-finishing other books).


Part foreign affairs discourse, part humor, and part twisted self-help guide, The Geography of Bliss takes the reader from America to Iceland to India in search of happiness, or, in the crabby author's case, moments of "un-unhappiness." The book uses a beguiling mixture of travel, psychology, science and humor to investigate not what happiness is, but where it is. Are people in Switzerland happier because it is the most democratic country in the world? Do citizens of Qatar, awash in petrodollars, find joy in all that cash? Is the King of Bhutan a visionary for his initiative to calculate Gross National Happiness? Why is Asheville, North Carolina so damn happy? With engaging wit and surprising insights, Eric Weiner answers those questions and many others, offering travelers of all moods some interesting new ideas for sunnier destinations and dispositions.



What I liked: Weiner connects his experiences of travel in each country with real, solid people. They are natives, they are fellow travelers, they have ‘gone native,’ etc. Without exception, the reader gets a chance to experience a country through 1) Weiner’s writing, but also 2) his companions’ eyes. It makes for a grounded and varied experience. Each chapter is tinged by the flavor of accents, humor, and the personalities of the subjects in every distinct culture and country.



What I didn’t like: This is just me being picky and persnickety (probably), but as I read, I couldn’t help but think that this book’s target audience are middle-aged, divorced and un-happy Americans. Why? Weiner’s travel itinerary is prohibitively expensive for anyone without some degree of wealth (though he never explicitly encourages travel to any of the countries he visits). When he writes about unhappiness, divorce is repeatedly mentioned as a cause or a motivation for those feelings. That Americans aren’t as happy as they should be, given all of the variables, seems to be an underlying theme of the book. And there you have it.


Academic moment: ‘pop’ sociology (the ‘science’ in the above book description) + journalism = makes me squirm.



Saving grace: Humor. While not wildly hilarious, Weiner made me smile or laugh aloud at many points. I read the funny bits to my mom.


Overall, I recommend this text to travel book aficionados and self-help book addicts. Or if you’re in a good mood and want it knocked out of you (okay, so the last one is a lie. Or mostly one.). Read. Enjoy!


***The photos accompanying this post were taken on my recent roadtrip. More may be found here and here.

easy now, ginger cookie

Sunday, August 23, 2009 | | 10 comments
I’m sure you’d all agree that moving is a stressful business. And the stressful part doesn’t end after you’ve packed everything up and gotten to your new place. It continues for a while after until you’ve found places for all your things and start feeling a little less displaced yourself. This is my way of saying that despite my (and Melli’s) survival of the cross-country roadtrip (2,965 miles! In 5 and a half days! This including a day spent all at Glacier Park!), I’m still feeling the effects. So what do I do? I bake. Enter an old church cookbook of my mother’s, and you have EASY Ginger Cookies.

Ginger Cookies, ala Irma Bergstrom (neither my mom or I are acquainted with the lady, but she makes a mean cookie!)

INGREDIENTS

¾ c. butter (soft, not melted)
1 c. sugar
¼ c. molasses
1 egg
2 c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. each ground cinnamon, cloves and ginger

DIRECTIONS



Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Combine ingredients in medium-large bowl. Shape into walnut-sized balls; roll in sugar. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Makes 3-4 dozen.



As you can see, the result is delicious. Peter grabbed 5 cookies at once, and most were devoured before I got the camera ready…



Cookies + milk = awesome.

great contest!

| 1 comments
Coming December 22, 2009 from Bloomsbury...

Nimira is a music-hall girl used to dancing for pennies. So when wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to sing accompaniment to a mysterious piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it will be the start of a better life. In Parry's world, long-buried secrets are about to stir. Unsettling rumors begin to swirl about ghosts, a madwoman roaming the halls, and Parry’s involvement in a group of corrupt sorcerers for whom the rules of the living and dead are meant to be broken for greater power. When Nimira discovers the spirit of a dashing fairy gentleman is trapped within the automaton, she is determined to break the curse. But even as the two fall into a love that seems hopeless, breaking the curse becomes a perilous race against time. Because it's not just the future of these star-crossed lovers that's at stake, but the fate of the entire magical world.

Want to win an ARC (advance reader copy) with original sketches from the author inside? See Jackie's website, Fabulous Frock, for details!

the results are in

Saturday, August 22, 2009 | | 1 comments

And the randomly-generated winner of Robin McKinley’s Sunshine or Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, depending on the winner’s preference, is:

Sheere

of Donde la lectura te lleve

Who answered the question, “What is your favorite genre?” with:

“My favourite genre is fantasy and supernatural. I think that I'd never get bored with it... I could be ninety and still love reading stories of vampires and fairies.”

The other responses for favorite genre:

Classics – 1

Fantasy (or Paranormal) – 12

Historical Fiction – 4

Mystery – 2

Science Fiction – 6

Women’s Fiction – 1

Young Adult – 9

It was fun to read about your favorite genres, and hear your thoughts about what makes reading enjoyable. Look for another giveaway soon!

are you feeling awarded?

I’ve been feeling a lot of love lately from my fellow bloggers, and haven’t properly acknowledged it or passed it on to other worthy recipients. So, it’s award time! Actually, I was shocked (and made happy) by how many there were in the last month – you are all TOTALLY AWESOME!

Kreativ Blogger award – thanks to Laura at Laura’s Reviews and Steph from Hey! Teenager of the Year.

I accepted this award and nominated other deserving blogs in this post.

Let’s Be Friends award - Ryan G. from Wordsmithonia, Kals from At Pemberly and Velvet from vvb32reads all nominated me. I agree – let’s be friends!

Blogs that receive the Let’s Be Friends award are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers.

I’d like to nominate:

Laura at Laura’s Reviews

Steph at Hey! Teenager of the Year

and Mandy at Edge of Seventeen

Your Blog Rocks award – from Velvet at vvb32reads. So glad you think so! The award is sort of self-explanatory, and of course I’m going to share it around.

I want to pass this award on to:

Kals at At Pemberly

Andrea at The Little Bookworm

and Rabid Fox at Wagging the Fox

Super Comments award – many thanks to Kristen at Bookworming in the 21st Century. These bloggers leave awesome comments – they make you laugh, think, and offer encouragement and support. In other words, they’re freaking awesome.

I’d like to nominate:

Ryan G. at Wordsmithonia

Velvet at vvb32reads

and Nicole at Books and Bards

(really, all of you who comment deserve this award – I get a little thrill every time someone’s read my posts!)

Zombie Chicken award – Andrea at The Little Bookworm, Ryan G. at Wordsmithonia and Kim at Chapter Chit Chat all nominated me for this honor.

The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all.

I’m passing on the love to:

Lizzy at Cornucopia of Reviews

Beth and Nathan at in BetweeN the pages

Leila at Bookshelves of Doom

INTERN at Intern Spills

and Rhiannon of Rhiannon Hart

Humane award – Velvet at vvb32reads passed on this super-sweet prize.

This award is to honor certain bloggers that are kindhearted individuals. They regularly take part in my blog and always leave the sweetest comments. If it wasn't for them, my site would just be an ordinary book review blog. Their blogs are also amazing and are tastefully done on a daily basis. I thank them and look forward to our growing friendship through the blog world.

Daphne at xAZDdesign

Kim at Chapter Chit Chat

and Jenny at Jenny Loves to Read

And sneaking in at the last minute, Melissa at Mel's World gave me the Lemonade award! The Lemonade award is a feel good award which shows great attitude or gratitude. Thank you, Melissa! I want to give this one to every one of my followers. You know who you are!

Again…thank you to everyone, and I apologize for the month-long delay in accepting these wonderful accolades! Also, if I missed any, please forgive me...I let them stack up for too long and may have lost track of a couple. It will not happen again!

briar rose

Alyce at At Home with Books has started a weekly tradition of revisiting past reading favorites and bringing them into the spotlight.


My pick this week: Briar Rose by Jane Yolen. This book was originally published as part of Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s Fairy Tales series – a project meant to unite some of the biggest names in fantasy and have them re-write the classic fairy tales for adults. The thought being that adults were the original audience for fairy tales, anyway, and a dark or different take on the traditional stories would provide something new for the genre. That was YEARS ago, and now (or maybe yesterday) it’s the next big thing to re-write classic fairy tales. The books in the series included Patricia C. Wrede’s Snow White and Rose Red (just re-released as a YA book, ironically enough) and Charles de Lint’s Jack of Kinrowan, among others. I started with those two and then decided to read Yolen’s take on the fable of the Sleeping Beauty.


I’ve been a fan of Yolen for a long time – she’s an immensely talented and prolific writer in the YA genre, and her writing (and that of a couple of other authors) helped introduce me to the world of fantasy. Plus I trust the editing of Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. Then throw in a fairy tale re-telling that mixes Sleeping Beauty (favorite!) and the Holocaust. WHAT?!, you say? Yes, I know…it sounds completely improbable and maybe un-doable. Only an author of Yolen’s caliber could pull it off. Evidence: it’s on the ALA’s 100 Best Books for Young Adults list, and I’ve seen it paired in lesson plans with Elie Wiesel’s Night.


When I first read Briar Rose I felt unsettled, anxious and out of my comfort zone. The book is powerful, hard-to-read (in the way that reading about true evil is difficult, not that it’s tough to understand), and disturbing. The story touched me and made me think about prejudice, intolerance, the nature of conviction, and the violence hidden in the human soul. It’s a good book; Yolen deftly handles a terrifying topic and gives the reader a chance to experience a time and a story that are often beyond comprehension.


Ever since she was a child, Rebecca has been enchanted by her grandmother Gemma’s stories about Briar Rose. But a promise Rebecca makes to her dying grandmother will lead her on a remarkable journey to uncover the truth of Gemma’s astonishing claim: I am Briar Rose. A journey that will lead her to unspeakable brutality and horror. But also to redemption and hope.

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