teaser tuesday (29)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 | | 24 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!


“Finn realized that the Key must be linking into some circuitry in the tree itself, and for a moment a blur of vision caught him off guard, a sense that the whole of Incarceron was a great creature in whose entrails of wire and bone they crept.


He blinked.”


-p. 177 of Catherine Fisher’s Incarceron

boneshaker winners, please shamble forward

Monday, February 22, 2010 | | 9 comments

It’s time to announce the winner of my giveaway for a SIGNED copy of Boneshaker, the Nebula-nominated zombie/alternate history novel by Cherie Priest. And, because I just feel like it, a second winner, who’ll get their (not signed) copy via The Book Depository. I love giving away books!

The winner of the SIGNED copy is:

Ryan G. of Wordsmithonia!

Who answered the question “What event will trigger the apocalypse?” with, “The Sun will start to die (like every star eventually does) causing gravitational shifts throughout the galaxy, sending planets off their axis, and causing the moon to crash into the Earth.

The second winner (of the not signed copy) is:

Dani. of YA All The Way: An Epic Journey Through the World of YA!

Who answered the same question with, “Is there really any need to debate? The only trigger for the apocalypse is going to be ZOMBIES!!!! *I am already preparing as we speak; stored up supplies, and practicing my decapitation skills* :D

Congrats, winners! Thank you to all who entered – your apocalypse theories were amazing. And hilarious. And maybe a couple of them were frightening. All as it should be, in other words. Look out for a new giveaway soon!

cupcake delight

Friday, February 19, 2010 | | 16 comments
I know it’s only been five days, but I feel like I’ve been missing from the blogosphere for MONTHS instead. In the meantime I’ve been going about my business – settling into rhythms, getting my residency requirements in order, and making new friends to go along with my new town. One of those new friends is my roommate’s boyfriend. This boy is quality. I’ve known him for about a month, but he’s definitely on my favorite list. Why? Just check out the photos below!

For Valentine’s Day he ordered a dozen cupcakes for his girlfriend and his girlfriend’s roommates.

Gorgeous cupcakes by an artiste, I might add.

With our names personalized, and little bumblebees.

And they were mint chocolate with a whole Peppermint Patty INSIDE. Each. Cupcake. Delicious.

Needless to say, he wins. She wins. We all win!

happy (zombie) valentine's day

Sunday, February 14, 2010 | | 6 comments

I stumbled across this gem over at
Jesse Petersen's blog - it's a zombie valentine! Which is perfect, really. And HI-larious. Can't wait to see what Married with Zombies has in store...

In the meantime, enjoy these Marriage Survival Tips During a Zombie Apocalypse:


Balance the workload in your relationship. No one person should be responsible for killing all the zombies.


Put the small stuff into perspective. It's better to be wrong and alive than right but eating brains.


Talk out your big decisions. Hear both opinions before you decide if you're going to flee the city or hole up with Campbell's Soup and CNN.


Share in your activities and interests. If you're going to kill zombies anyway, why not do it together?


Plan romantic getaways. Or just getaways.


Show physical affection. Nothing says 'I love you' like bearing the entirety of your spouse's body weight.


Or read the first chapter of Married with Zombies here.

lemon curd makes an appearance

Friday, February 12, 2010 | | 10 comments
I had lots of apples and carrots in the fridge during the snowstorm. Fresh, raw fruits and veggies keep the body healthy! I also bought lemon curd recently on a whim. But I had no idea what to do with it. I’d never heard of it, to tell the truth. I mean, LEMON CURD? Sounds like someone milked a lemon-flavored cow. How’d the cow get lemon-flavored? It ate exclusively Lemonheads, of course.

Enter the power of the internet: it means that you can throw all of these things together in a Google search box, and come out with something delicious. So I found a recipe for Apple Carrot Salad with Huckleberry Lemon Curd, and I modified it slightly (because really, who has huckleberry lemon curd?!) to suit my own purposes. Voilà! A delicious, dessert-like salad that stunned and impressed my roommates. Also suggested for decadent brunches and as a healthy, tasty party side dish.

Apple Carrot Salad with Lemon Curd

INGREDIENTS

4 apples (I used all Fuji, but you can mix two sweet and two sour)

8-10 baby carrot sticks

1/2 cup dried, sweetened cranberries
(Craisins)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup lemon curd


1/2 cup Cool Whip

DIRECTIONS

Wash, core and quarter apples – but do NOT peel. Slice apple into 1/4 inch pieces. Shred or thinly chop carrots. In large bowl, toss together sliced apples, carrots, walnuts and Craisins. In separate bowl, blend Cool Whip and lemon curd. Gently mix lemon curd blend with other ingredients until everything is evenly coated. Garnish with carrot curls if desired. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Serves 4-6.

the intensity of angels

There are going to be a couple of major themes in my reading this year: a) angels, b) demons, c) fairy tales and d) all the rest. Why? I’m taking part in reading challenges. One of which is the Horns and Halos Reading Challenge hosted by Aimee of my fluttering heart. I got the challenge started off with Archangel by Sharon Shinn. It was a great start and a great read – and it got me excited for what else is in store. Now I’m on to my next H&H challenge read (before even cracking a fairy tale…sad!).


Nalini Singh began her new Guild Hunter series with an e-release novella, Angels’ Pawn. She followed that up with the novel Angels’ Blood. That book rocked hardcore. Just…amazing. It was back before my blogging days, or I would have reviewed it for sure. Still might, one of these ‘My Favorite Reads’ Thursdays. Great world-building, amazing and scary creatures, and a terrific lead character in Elena. The Guild Hunter stories brought me ‘round to the idea of angels. I’ll admit I was a skeptic. Now I’ll gobble up a story with an angel in it…like peach pancakes.


And now the second in the series, Archangel’s Kiss, has arrived. So let’s set this up: the world is ruled by angels, and then on the next level by their servants, vampires. On the lowest rung of the power hierarchy are ordinary humans. So you can bet that leads to some interesting situations. The Guild Hunters are humans who have special abilities – they can track vampires, and they help keep the status quo by working for angels. The whole system is supposed to weed out abuse. But at the very top of the top? Archangels – uber-powerful, scary and old angels who’ve played the political game and really rule the planet. So what happens when Guild Hunter Elena gets together with Archangel Raphael?


Crazy adventures, that’s what. I don’t want to spoil what happens in Angels’ Blood, because I love it so much. But let’s suffice it to say that Archangel’s Kiss takes Elena and Raphael’s story farther and through more peril than ever. It doesn’t have quite the same intensity and violence as Angels’ Blood, but this second installment isn’t lacking in plot or action. Far from it. There’s horror and bone-cracking to spare. It’s simply a more character-driven story. You really get to know who these ‘people’ are. And you see facets of each that repel and charm and draw you in.


Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that this is a paranormal ROMANCE. Yes, in all capital letters. It’s very steamy, as was its predecessor. But in this series, it totally works. There’s violence to offset the sex...or perhaps complement it. However, if you can’t read a love scene to save your life, then this is not the book for you. The scenes are skip-able if you’re just not that into romance, but if you have an avid aversion, I’d say don’t bother.


Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux is back after a year – to find that her lover, the stunningly dangerous archangel Raphael, likes having her under his control. But almost immediately, Raphael must ready Elena for a flight to Beijing, to attend a ball thrown by the archangel Lijuan. Ancient and without conscience, Lijuan's power lies with the dead. And she has organized the most perfect and most vicious of welcomes for Elena...


Ms. Singh writes first-class action and relationship stories, which just happen to have a fantastical edge to them. The Guild Hunter stories pull an insanely good plot, a hot romance, fantastic world-building, great writing and unexpected twists and turns into one compact, superb package. These books are not to be missed!


Recommended for: romance fans, paranormal and mild horror junkies, those curious about the angel trend in popular literature, and anyone with a taste for fantasy with a great character-driven storyline.

into the wild nerd yonder

Saturday, February 6, 2010 | | 11 comments

I must admit that Into the Wild Nerd Yonder is NOT the first Julie Halpern book I have owned. It IS the first I’ve read. I won the audiobook version of Get Well Soon in a blog contest sometime last year, but as flaky as I am about listening to things (VERY), I decided to give it to my sister for Christmas. This is she of the 45-minute per way commute. And she was very happy to receive it, so I felt good about that decision. But now that I’ve finally read Ms. Halpern, I am very envious of my sister. I want the book back! But I shall cope, and get a hard copy from the library.


All that to say: this book was so cute and satisfying and likeable that I want to read more by the same author. But before we get really deep into gushing, let’s see a synopsis.


It’s Jessie’s sophomore year of high school. A self-professed “mathlete,” she isn’t sure where she belongs. Her two best friends have transformed themselves into punks and one of them is going after her longtime crush. Her beloved older brother will soon leave for college (and in the meantime has shaved his mohawk and started dating . . . the prom princess!) . . .

Things are changing fast. Jessie needs new friends. And her quest is a hilarious tour through high-school clique-dom, with a surprising stop along the way—the Dungeons and Dragons crowd, who out-nerd everyone. Will hanging out with them make her a nerd, too? And could she really be crushing on a guy with too-short pants and too-white gym shoes? If you go into the wild nerd yonder, can you ever come back?


First, before I get into the book itself, I just want to say that it came along at a timely moment. I’ve been wondering for a while now how far gone I am into nerd-dom. I mean, I read a lot. I have a book blog. I play Civilization 4 (a computer game). I’ve started reading a graphic novel series. I am a film geek. I go to Neil Gaiman signings. Oh? And I spent a LOT of time in school. Maybe not too much on the official scale of nerdiness, but it’s more than my friends. I’ve felt comforted and supported by the online community (you guys are GREAT!, I’m not even kidding), but a full trip into nerd status has only seemed one CON trip away.


And then I read a book like this one, and I’m reminded that your ‘classification’ doesn’t matter as long as you gather quality people around yourself and grow as a person. Sometimes those of us who stick out just a bit are the leading lights and spur those around us on to more and better things.


BUT…the book! I will admit that I liked the ‘blurb,’ but what really drew me to Into the Wild Nerd Yonder were the title and the exquisite cover art. It struck just the right notes for me – funny, unique, and vibrant (and the actual boards of the book are PINK and PURPLE – they do my girly soul proud!). Of course what really matters is what’s inside those covers. And thankfully the story matched the beauty outside.


Jessie is figuring out who she is, and why her friends are her friends. Her journey is very real – down to the bad boy that she knows she shouldn’t like, but does anyway. Feelings of dissociation, wanting to please people, confusion about the ‘why’s’ of life – they all strike true notes for a girl in her sophomore year of high school. The secondary characters are well-drawn and I found myself wishing for more of their stories – maybe a sequel, Ms. Halpern? Though this one is pretty perfect on its own.


Recommended for: fans of realistic YA fiction, coming-of-age, D&D, former, current and future nerds, and healthy family relationships (yes, there are some in YA lit).

in honor of the snowpocalypse – a giveaway

Friday, February 5, 2010 | | 60 comments

It’s snowing right now as I type. Snowing as in, ‘we predict 18-24 inches in a 36-hour period.’ Some people are calling it the snowpocalypse, which I kind of like, because it sounds vaguely end-of-the-worldy, but mostly just silly and funny. And I’ve been kicking around the idea of a new giveaway.


BEHOLD, the giveaway has arrived. Last November I went to a Cherie Priest book-signing in Seattle (I took my Dad with me. He’s a trooper). I got two copies of Boneshaker signed – one for myself, and one for my blog. That book has been faithfully sitting on the shelf ever since, and it needs a new owner.


In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine was born.

But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead.

Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. That is, until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.

His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.


------


If you’d like to win your own copy of Boneshaker, this is your chance! I’ll give away one (1) SIGNED book to a lucky entrant.


To enter:


Leave a comment on this post answering the question, “What event will trigger the apocalypse?” (i.e. flood, zombies, snow, asteroid, etc.)


Please include your email address or another method of contact. Giveaway is open internationally. Comments will close on February 19 at 11:59pm EST, and I will notify the randomly selected winner via email.


Good luck!

to fiction or not to fiction

Tuesday, February 2, 2010 | | 12 comments

This blog is 97% dedicated to fiction. That’s because my reading list = 97% fiction at the moment. Nothing strange about that, right? But in the context of my real life, it makes me wonder…

To give you an idea of my recent reading past: I spent three years in grad school (ending May 2009) reading about 80% non-fiction. The only reason the 80% wasn’t 100% was because I dosed myself with fiction in between projects…as a sanity-saving measure. Mostly that non-fiction I mentioned was social history of colonial South America. I still have all of the books from all of those classes in boxes, back at my parents’ house. I am even still vaguely interested, and I imagine I’ll eventually read them through. But for now? I think…that I’m still in backlash mode. I’ve swung very hard in the direction of me that likes comfort fiction – YA lit, science fiction, a little romance, humor and other ‘happy’ reads. Well, plus the occasional dystopian novel to keep things interesting.

I can’t help but wonder if this is a healthy side of me, or not. At other points in my life when I’ve come this way before, I’ve had formal study to eventually pull me back into more of a balance. And now (thanks to leaving grad school!) I don’t have that eventual, inevitable pendulum swing in my planned future. Definitely there should be a BIT more of a balance. 97% of anything isn’t exactly natural.

The thing that got me thinking about this is not that I’m dissatisfied with my current reading regimen. Far from it! I’m happy as a clam with my cozy weekends of teenage angst and magical happily ever after and ‘the world is ending!’ What made me take stock were the new friends I’ve gathered around me. They’re intense. They’re bold. They’re not really readers. But when they do read, they read with such purpose and drive…and they read almost exclusively non-fiction.

I mean, I’m not saying I’ve ever had someone outside of the family to really talk to about my fiction reading anyway. But this is taking it to another level. When they read, these new friends improve their minds. I’ve always been allergic to self-help books, but this is about using reading as a tool to become a better person – in a moral sense. In a change-so-the-inside-matches-the-outside kind of way. When you get past the sappiness, it sounds really admirable. I want to be that kind of person.

Maybe other people read schoolbooks to become a better person. I didn’t. I read them out of competitiveness or native interest. I am really curious about the stories in books, regardless of the educational ‘intent.’ But what I’m saying is that it never occurred to me that books for school were there to teach me to become a good person. I mean, some of that stuff rubbed off, sure. Some of that is definitely how I was raised, and the books were just reinforcement.

On the other hand, I have known my whole life that the Bible is a moral compass. It’s good for trying to understand abstract and concrete examples of ‘the good life.’ It’s got the best person EVER to emulate in there. I know it’s true. That’s why I still read it.

But I want to find some non-Bible reading material that urges me to consider new concepts, stretch my brain, and improve my character. Where to start? I need suggestions. What’s a non-fiction book that made you re-consider life? That inspired you, made you want to ‘do’ instead of sitting? I don’t need theological texts, necessarily. I just need a place to start – maybe a book or two to slip into the mountain of fiction. Help me out?

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