Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On Vacation!!!

While the dead girls broke flat out even last week, I'll be on vacation for the next two. Thank god! I need a break from it all! Do you realize I haven't stopped blogging for any longer than a day since I started this thing? I think it's time for a breather!

So during my away time this blog will be silent. No posts, no memes, no reviews. I will not be reading review copies of anything while I'm on vacation. Why? Because it's vacation. I'm going to take a crack at the rest of my pile while I can. I can't wait.

And when I come back I get to deal with the joys of moving. Yay! It's going to be a hectic next couple of months, that's for sure. I will have one blog post scheduled for the first of October but other than that, I'm not going to post anything until I get back the first weekend of October. Yes. It's a long vacation. I didn't take one last year. I need it.

So adios for now! I shall return.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Author Bites - Kim Culbertson on the Soundtrack of Life

Because Songs for a Teenage Nomad was such a kick ass book, I wanted Kim to come on and do a guest post in conjunction with my review. Which she did! Please read as Kim expounds on our never-ending background music. And be sure to fill in the blank at the end. Thanks so much for stopping by, Kim!

A Soundtrack Generation

At a book event last summer, I was surprised to see an older man show up to my panel on teen fiction. I mean, I write YA books about teen girls, so I thought, “Hmm, sixty-something guy with a sweet round face at a teen book event? Maybe he writes YA.” Turns out, this lovely gentleman, I’ll call him Ben (he just screamed to be a Ben) has a teenage granddaughter with whom he’s very close and he wanted to come check out the teen panel at this particular lit festival. We got to chatting after the event and he asked about my novel Songs for a Teenage Nomad and as I talked to him about it, he started chuckling, saying “Well, you’re spot on about the concept – you’re all such a Soundtrack Generation.”

I wasn’t offended; he was too sweet and grandfatherly. But I asked him whether music held that special something for him too? Couldn’t he hear a song and be reminded of a certain place, a certain time. Ben agreed that, sure, he could think of a certain song from time to time and it reminded him, but “for Godsakes, kid” (he called me kid a lot which I actually sort of loved), “I don’t think of it as a soundtrack that follows me around. You’re all so damn plugged in.” But he told me he’d buy my book when it came out because his granddaughter would “totally relate” and he wandered off in search of the next panel.

But Ben got me thinking. He got me thinking about whether or not this inclination toward having a soundtrack has been nurtured by so many (too many?) years of movie watching, of hearing a song swell as the credits role or the scary music just before the blonde girl is about to meet her untimely end. Perhaps this cinematic breeding of ours has made us crave our own soundtrack, almost need it to make sense of the dramatic rise and fall of our own lives. Maybe not. For Calle, the main character in my novel, it is certainly the way she fastens herself to her own history, tries to make sense of all the important bits, those lasting memories. And it’s that way for me too. I can’t hear OMD’s “If You Leave” without thinking of a special middle school dance or anything from Nirvana’s Nevermind without remembering the moody guy in the dorm room next to mine freshman year who played that CD over and over and over…1992 college freshman year on repeat.

So I think I’m okay with that Soundtrack Generation label. In fact, a really good song to play right now would be….

Go Ask Alice by "Anonymous"

First published 1971.

You can't ask Alice anything anymore.

But you can do something - read her diary. Strong, painfully honest, nakedly candid. The actual story of a desperate girl on drugs and on the run who almost made it. (book back blurb)

What we have here is a sorry excuse for a teen voice. Even if I didn't know who the real author was behind this book, I think it's pretty obvious that the hand is forced and exceptionally preachy.

I understand that there's a forty year gap in the lingo but even with that, the voice is contrived and inauthentic. It reads like an adult trying to sound like a teen but still sounding like an adult with a message. It was annoying and made it very difficult to read. The insistence of the girl getting off drugs alone was just absurd to read. It made the girl's words and actions mismatch and the she was overall hard to follow because of that.

Not to mention she was one whiny little bitch. God, she wasn't even likable as a character. I didn't feel a damn thing for her when she spiraled or got locked up. She was a hard character to care for. She didn't solve any problems on her own; she created major problems and when things got too rough, she constantly ran home for help. I guess that could be played into the adult author trying to write a teen without any real understanding of them. She was too much a child that wanted to be bailed out and she was way too dumb when it was convenient to the plot.

The epilogue was awesome. She's dead. We don't know how she died. You just need to know she's dead from drugs. Drugs. Bad drugs. Never mind just before the epilogue she was entirely turned around and totally clean except for one of her enemies slipping her something. But she just dropped dead anyway. Because drugs are bad. Don't do them.

Give me a break. What a preachy, unrealistic book. Yeah, I can see why parents might get up in arms about the drug and sex references but my biggest concern is how anyone could have thought this was real. I guess if you're a parent and have an idea of how a teenager sounds (as opposed to how they really sound), you'd buy into it but otherwise? I'd sooner believe the earth rotated backwards.

It was good to read since it's such a commented-on book but at the end of the day, it's really ridiculous. I couldn't take the message seriously because the execution was just laughable. Go read some Ellen Hopkins if you're looking for a gritty teen drug tale. Hers will rip your heart out twelve times over. This one's just good for a laugh.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Scared Sh*tless Reading Challenge

Do you get a sick pleasure out of things that go bump in the night? When you read a scary story, do you turn the lights down as far as you can and read by candlelight with a blanket over your head? Do you wait until nighttime to break out those macabre tales? Does the month of October make you giddy?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you're ready for Bites' Scared Sh*tless Reading Challenge! What is the Scared Sh*itless Reading Challenge you ask? Well that's simple! When you sign up for the Scared Sh*tless Reading Challenge, you're vowing to read something, or many somethings, horrifying during the month of October (and this does not include Sarah Palin's autobiography).

First, let us define horror -
an overwhelming and painful feeling caused by something frightfully shocking, terrifying, or revolting; a shuddering fear: to shrink back from a mutilated corpse in horror.
A rather simple definition, don't you think? Well, let me expound on that just a little further. Just because there are vampires in a novel doesn't make it horror. Just because there are zombies in a novel doesn't make it horror. Generation Dead: not horror. Vampire Academy: not horror. Fear Street: horror. The Devouring: horror. Anything by Christopher Pike: horror. I'm talking about the real fear-inducing stuff. Not the kind that makes you go, "OMG he's so hooooooooot!" Those books are misclassified for no other reason than because someone hasn't created a new genre yet and feels the need to ruin real horror for the rest of us.

For this reading challenge, the horror isn't watered down. Vampires are something to fear. Zombies are something to run from. Ghosts scare the shit out of you. Get my drift? I mean, what's Halloween if all that's involved is a simpering emo pussy of a vampire? Puhlease.

So if this sounds like your bag, then sign up in the comments below. Apparently a free Mr. Linky account doesn't allow you to have two active widgets and since my Ban This! linky is still running, this one's going to have to be relegated to the comments section. So have at it. And don't forget to grab the button on the left and let everyone know just how scared shitless you'll be in October.

Why Zombies Make Craptastic Boy/Girlfriends

Not too long ago Sya of The Mountains of Instead approached me to write something for her Week of the Living Dead event. Apparently I have demonstrated some kind of fear/standoffishness in regards to zombies. I'm sure that's the case as these brains are incapable of remembering anything prior to breakfast.

So I thought on it for a nanosecond and decided to wanted to wax on all that is zombie love and why it's a horrible, horrible idea. I've only read one zombie YA book that I can remember, Generation Dead, and I thought the idea of a zombie love was just absolutely ridiculous. I mean, vampires are bad enough. You can half get over the fact that they've risen from the dead. At least they're not rotting. But zombies? Ew.

So if you'd like to take a gander into my reasons why zombie love should be avoided at all costs, head on over to Sya's blog and take a look at Why Necrophilia Never Pays. But be warned. This is me we're talking about. It's not an article filled with kittens and rainbows. Unless they're mutant kittens and acid rainbows you speak of. And then check out the rest of her guest posts for Week of the Living Dead!

ttyl by Lauren Myracle

First published 2004.

On the first day of tenth grade, best friends Maddie (mad maddie), Angela (SnowAngel), and Zoe (zoegirl) vow not to let school stupidness get them down . . . or split them apart. But as the weeks pass and the instant messages accumulate, it's clear that tenth grade will be a roller coaster ride of boy temptation, math torture, donut emergencies, and Queen Bee encounters. Then a jerky boy sends peppy Angela into the dumps, tough Maddie makes a mistake that has the whole school talking, and good girl Zoe gets in over her head with a flirty teacher. Will the winsome threesome make it through the year? (book back blurb)

I bought ttyl from a library book sale simply because it was on a banned books list and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

While I liked the execution of the story (complete IM chats), I found the overall plot kind of bland. It succeeded in that I felt like I was reading the chat transcripts of a bunch of real life teens but I think it's because of that that I was just bored with it. It came complete with its own high school drama and even though I only had the points of view of these three girls, I still felt the anger, the love, the awkwardness and everything else they were feeling. I felt like I was eavesdropping in on their conversations. I just didn't find it particularly interesting. Compelling enough but I'm not rarin' to read ttfn or anything.

In terms of banned bookage, of course it's rather insipid. There was a mention of female ejaculation. For shame! A natural bodily function! What's next, farts? And then there was a brother's girlfriend's unshaven muffin popping out of a bikini. That one had me gagging. Respect your fellow man, lady! And you had your token sex talks and swear but no teenage conversation would be complete without those things. An awkward and inappropriate student/teacher relationship was even thrown in too. Apparently the text speak is an issue but I'm not sure how that's even ban-worthy. OMG they're spelling laugh like laff! The horror! When the challengers can speak, write and spell in proper English, then I'll give them some leeway. Until then, they can shut their holes.

I don't see anything ban-worthy in this book. If parents are up in arms about female ejaculation, what's next? Denying their daughters information on their periods? Let's not stifle a teen's need to ask questions. Parents are supposed to be there to answer them, not keep them in the dark. They're failing as parents if they keep their kids ignorant.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Is Challenging Books a Good Thing?

If you take a look at this article, you'll see that it's not pushing the removal of books from shelves but the act of challenging the books kids are reading. The argument is that more parents should be challenging books because of content. Once the challenging stops, it shows a lack of caring and concern on the parents' part that their children are reading such questionable material like The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird.

I could half understand the reasoning if parents were actually reading the books they were challenging but they're not. It's evident by the reasons they're citing to have these books removed. Twilight as sexually explicit? Can I put the moron stamp on your forehead?

When I was in sixth grade my mom petitioned to have a book removed from a reading list. Not the school itself. Not even a single library. Just the reading list. I was in sixth grade and it was a John Saul book. Her reasoning? She'd read the book and it gave her nightmares. She didn't feel it was appropriate to recommend eleven-year-olds read this book. I get that. It wasn't ripped from the library. It was just deleted off of a reading list. But the biggest part is that she's actually read the book and could voice genuine concern. These other parents? The ones that get Ellen Hopkins disinvited from a teen lit fest, don't. They hear things from other people about things that may or may not be in the book that they don't like. They don't actually take the time to read it themselves and form their own opinions on it.

That article also points out ttyl by Lauren Myracle being challenged because parents don't like the text speak in it. The text speak isn't the concern parents would have with that book. It's female ejaculation, teen sex, private parts. Please, read the books if you're going to point out "why" they're being challenged.

So do parents challenging books show that they care what their children are reading? I don't think so. It's not like they're reading it to find out for themselves. If they cared about what their children read, then they'd keep it to just their children. They wouldn't try to have books ripped entirely out of school curriculums, torn from library shelves and authors banned from speaking. That's not concern. That's psychosis.

You know what I think of when I thing of a book challenge-free world? Utopia. It means the banners have finally gotten it and kept it in the damn family like it should be. So Holden orders a prostitute. Like a thirteen-year-old today hasn't seen his fair share of beaver shots online. With webcams, it's not hard to see it live either. No books required. What's okay for one kid might not be okay for another but what one parent feels shouldn't dictate the access other parents might otherwise grant to their children.

Lock your kid up in a bubble for all I care. But my kid will read whatever the hell he wants. Why? Because he's fucking reading. In a world where we're constantly fighting for their attention between TV, iPods, cell phones and computers, the fact that they're picking up a book at all is a glorious thing. I don't think they're going to become sex addicted crack heads from reading a book. I'd like to think parents would keep channels of communication open should their kids have any questions about what they're reading. Instead of shutting them out and blocking their access, use it as a means to engage and educate. God forbid parents do that with their children nowadays, right? Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil is the way to go.

Until that Utopia can be reached, we're still going to have to deal with things like The Diary of Anne Frank being banned from a certain school district and an author getting banned for a book he didn't even write. This isn't caring. This is idiocy. And it needs to stop.

And the winner is . . .

The winner of an ARC of Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl is . . .


Congratulations! I've already sent you an email. And a big thanks to everyone who entered and an even bigger thanks to all of you that made my Summer Blast Giveaway so successful! I hope you all enjoyed it!

ETA - Typed the wrong name! Bad blogger!

Added to the Pile + 52

Technically just one book this week but I forgot to add in my PaperbackSwap book from last week to last week's post so that one is carrying over. From that I received Sleepaway Girls by Jen Calonita. And from Janice Bashman, I received Wanted Undead or Alive: Vampire Hunters and Other Kick-Ass Enemies of Evil by Jonatham Maberry and Janice Gable Bashman. Thanks a bunch!

When Sam Montgomery's best friend gets her first boyfriend, she's not ready to spend the summer listening to the two of them call each other "pookie." Sick of being a third wheel, Sam applies to be a counselor-in-training at Whispering Pines camp in the New York Catskills. But what she doesn't realize is that it's not going to be all "Kumbaya" sing-alongs and gooey s'mores.

If Ashley, the alpha queen of Whispering Pines, doesn't ruin Sam's summer, then her raging crush on the surfer-blond and flirtatious Hunter just might. At least she has playful Cole, who's always teasing her but is oh-so-comfortable to hang out with, and the singular gang of girls who become fast friends with Sam - they call themselves the Sleepaway girls. (book back blurb)

These days you can't swing an undead lycanthrope without hitting a Minion of Evil. They're everywhere - TV, film, the basement . . . right behind you! It's never been more important to know what you can do to keep them at bay.

From today's foremost experts on nightmares come to life, this indispensable guide identifies and describes mankind's enemies - supernatural beasts, ghosts, vampires, serial kills, etc. - and unearths effective, time-proven responses to each horrific threat.

Separate fact from fiction, the deadly from the merely creepy.

Learn when to stand your ground and when to run screaming for your life.

Determine which monster-specific heroes to call and their likelihood of success.

Whether we're talking ancient vampire hunters or modern-day FBI profilers, it's good to know someone's got your back in the eternal struggle between Good and Evil. And this book, with over fifty illustrations as well as commentary from luminaries like filmmaker John Carpenter, author Peter Straub, and the legendary Stan Lee, provides all the information and reassurance you need to sleep soundly at night. Just not too soundly. (book back blurb)

Things I've Learned from Books + 71

Walkmans live! These clunky, heavy pieces of electronic equipment do still survive in the hands of nomadic teenagers. The art of the cassette is not lost. 'Dub a song from the radio' isn't a foreign language. Praise technology!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Songs for a Teenage Nomad by Kim Culbertson + Contest!

Pub date - September 2010.

After living in twelve places in eight years, Calle Smith finds herself in Andreas Bay, California, at the start of ninth grade. Another new home, another new school . . . Calle knows better than to put down roots. Her song journal keeps her moving to her own soundtrack, bouncing through a world best kept at a distance.

Yet before she knows it, friends creep in - as does an unlikely boy with a secret. Calle is torn over what may be her first chance at love. With all that she's hiding, and all that she wants, can she find something lasting beyond music? And will she ever discover why she and her mother have been running in the first place? (book back blurb)

Immediately I was sucked into Calle's head, her music, her story and her voice. You have this girl forced into a nomadic existence seemingly because her mother's a flake and moves around to start new lives after the old boyfriends ditch her. Even after the whys come to the surface, I can only feel for Calle. Yeah, I get it. Her mother did what she did for her daughter's good. But why keep her in the dark about it? Why force her to follow blindly, without question, just because she's the mother and she knows what's best? You know, I get the whole underage thing but teens aren't stupid and I just loved how Calle planted her feet and bit back against her mother. While her mother was curled up on the floor crying, I was with Calle, rooting her on. She had a right to get angry and I got angry with her.

I just loved the whole realness of this entire novel. There was nothing fantastical about it. No love-at-first-sight. Just reality. Calle liked someone but she tried to keep her distance because, she knew, before long her feet would be walking again. But she couldn't help it. Too many people had taken her in and accepted her this time around. It was going to be harder to let go when she had to. But this boy turned out to come from as screwed up of a family as Calle's and instead of hiding it and pretending to be someone dumber as a means of not having to live it outside of his home, Calle brings about the strength in those around her, including her crush, because of the strength she held in herself. She really is an amazing character.

I was literally in tears at the end. While I felt the scissors swooped in and cut the bad out of the picture a little too smoothly, I didn't care. Finally Calle was going to have some semblance of normalcy and closure. I was so happy for her, but it was a jaded kind of happy. Considering the situation she received it, it just can't be a full-fledged happy.

And I just couldn't help but adore her love for older music (although some of that "older" music was stuff from the 90s, god, carbon date me, why don't you), her fight against the iPod (considering one kid made the news for taking 3 days to figure out how a cassette worked, how many teenagers actually know/how to use a Walkman?) and how stuck in the past she was. It's so psychological. The past is firm, solid. That's where memories are. By holding onto these older songs, Calle was able to grow some semblance of roots, even though it was just in her own mind. They were her sole Gibraltar comfort among the constant chaos of her life. I love seeing these old soul type of teens that really don't care much for the modern.

Read this book if you want something real; if you want it to touch the center of your heart and blossom. If you want to connect to a troubled girl that isn't involved in drugs or anything illicit; if you want to reach out and help someone like this but don't know how. If you just want to read a damn good book.

Want to win a copy? Just fill out the form below for your chance to win. Open to US residents 13 years of age and older only. One entry per person per email address. Contest ends October 2nd at midnight, EST.

80s Awesomeness! ~ 80

Filled with yet even more dot matrix fun, Space Invaders was quintessential for any 80s gamer. Who could resist killing alien enemies lining up in formation a la 1776? I know I couldn't.

Freaky Friday :|: 80

Yeah, I'm a little late. Oh well.

Title: The Chosen, Night World #5
Author: LJ Smith
Published: January 1997
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Pages: 211
Armed with a wooden stake, martial arts, and the will to resist a vampire’s mind control, Rachel struggles to avenge her mother’s death in The Chosen. Then she meets Quinn, her soulmate, who is part of the world she has vowed to destroy. (from
Yeah, a little over the soul mate thing. I could probably live without this one based on that alone.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sticking It To Banned Books

Right now we live in a world where a dictionary can get banned because of the definition it gives. No, I'm not kidding. Yes, I did die on the inside when I read about that.

We also live in a world where somehow, some way, the few voices of the minority outweigh those of the majority and can get the likes of Ellen Hopkins disinvited from a teen lit fest in Texas. Seriously, are we at all surprised that this happened in Texas? And thanks to that bonehead move, a bunch of other authors pulled themselves out of the event in protest. Way to go, you anal-retentive librarian. You just fucked over a bunch of kids.

But despite all of this, there are people out there that really want to grind the salt into the wound these book banners try to make. And damn, do they do a good job doing it.

Americus, a graphic novel about a teen boy fighting to keep one of his favorite books on the shelves against the ills of the protesters, is going to get a heap of promotion during Banned Books Week at the end of the month. I mean, why not? It pokes the banners in the eyes directly. And watch, I'm sure they'll try to get this one banned too on some ridiculous claim that it's insensitive or makes someone look fat or whatever. Go MK Reed and First Second. I salute you.

And to the jackasses that actually tried to get a dictionary banned, what the fuck are you
thinking? Really? It's a dictionary. For the love of god, your kid's going to go have sex for the first time and is going to end up trying to fuck someone's foot. Would you just talk to your children at the very least to prevent athlete's foot of the crotch?

I mean, this was from a fifth grade class. I remember when I was in fifth grade we had this huge sex education unit that PARENTS ACTUALLY CAME ALONG TO. Oh my god, what a concept. Parents educating their children side-by-side. Novel! What is so wrong with having a conversation with your kid? Honestly. Chances are, if you explain what oral sex is to a twelve-year-old, they're going to think it's gross. But isn't it better to explain to them what it is than have them find out first hand? Let's think about that one for a second.

If you want your kid to be horribly sheltered and lose their virginity via their ear or nostril, then by all means, you go ahead and do that. You'll end up with a forty-year-old sweater-wearer that works at Target and lives in your basement. Who may or may not have a chronic masturbation problem. But don't subject everyone else's kids to that kind of torture. There are some parents still out there that find nothing wrong with finding definitions in dictionaries. I'm really not sure where else they'd find them, but dictionaries are usually good places to start for something like that.

And like the article said, if they're looking up the definition of oral sex, that's not the first time they've heard it. Really, it's okay. Your kid isn't going to become a fluffer slut by knowing what something is. It'll give make him or her aware of it. More educated, if you will. God forbid our children catch that, that horrid, horrible act of thinking. That's not what schools are for. They should just go back to being oversized daycares, right?


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Book Wars + 37

Looks like Vampire Academy totally pwned House of Night last week. This week we're sticking with the banned bookie fun. FIGHT!

Leah Greene is dead. For Laine, knowing what really happened and the awful feeling that she is, in some way, responsible set her on a journey of painful self-discovery. Yes, she wished for this. She hated Leah that much. Hated her for all the times in the closet, when Leah made her do those things. They were just practicing, Leah said. But why did Leah choose her? Was she special, or just easy to control? And why didn’t Laine make it stop sooner? In the aftermath of the tragedy, Laine is left to explore the devastating lessons Leah taught her, find some meaning in them, and decide whether she can forgive Leah and, ultimately, herself. (from


Once upon a time, I was a little girl who disappeared.

Once upon a time, my name was not Alice.

Once upon a time, I didn’t know how lucky I was.

When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over
Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her.

This is Alice’s story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Spoilers)

Published August, 2010.

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has
had a hand in the carefully laid plans - except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay - no matter what the personal cost. (book flap blurb)


You know, I don't go into books with high expectations of anything. When I read the last Harry Potter book, the bar wasn't high. I just expected the same type of quality that the author provided in her previous six books. I think that's a perfectly reasonable expectation. Unfortunately I don't think it was met. I felt the same way for Mockingjay, albeit it less disappointed.

The overall writing, I felt, lived up to the prior books. I didn't feel any kind of dramatic, unexplained shift in the characters or the writing itself. I think everything fit nicely. What I didn't like was how Katniss didn't really play an active roll in her own life. She hid when things got too hard and just went with the flow for everything else. In retrospect, she's always been kind of like that but I felt it was most prevalent in this book.

People are tools for her and I like Gale's turn of action and pretty much saying fuck it. He knew he wasn't as useful to her once she had nothing left, therefore he was out of the picture and Peeta was it. Although I felt that was a little ridiculous considering his condition. He's essentially a whacked out mutt but Katniss was holding on to the shreds of what she remembered him as. Personally, I wouldn't have procreated with him. I know auto-erotic asphyxiation can be a turn-on for some people, but he'd be the one to take it too far, if you get what I'm saying.

It's just . . . the second half of the book was a little much for me. I accepted the redundancy in the second book but to have it a third time? There couldn't have been another way? And the fade to black moment right at the explosion at the mansion, I was so horribly pissed at that. Boom, Katniss blacks out and when she wakes up, the war's over, the Capitol is taken and the rebels won. What? Are you freaking kidding me? That's what the entire book was leading up to and Katniss gets knocked un-fucking-conscious? Seriously?

And the thing is, the people that were killed, I didn't feel enough of a connection to them to care. Yeah, they played decent enough parts throughout the series but nothing major. Certainly no Sirius Blacks or whichever of the Weasley twins dies, can't remember which it was. It was all about Katniss and Gale and Peeta and the asshattery of the Capitol. There wasn't much room for anything else. So when people started dropping, I really didn't feel much of anything. I know it was done for impact, the cost of war and all, but the people that were lost, I think, didn't make much of an impact when they were alive to make one when they died.

I didn't find the twist at the ended much of a twist. In fact, everything leading up to it really spelled it out pretty clearly. Snow, part deux. I think a different route could have been taken and I was surprised at Katniss's response to the second coming of the Hunger Games. After everything she'd been through, two games, the pain of the Capitol, she was willing to support it getting done again, to a generation of completely innocent children that were going to pay for their parents mistakes, because she'd lost her sister? I don't find that believable. She was too against it to begin with. Even with her sister's death, I don't think she would have made that decision. Shock value, I guess, but I didn't find it realistic to her character.

I liked crazy Peeta, and Haymitch was, as always, a great character. They were my favorites this time around.

Was the story entertaining? Yes. I really did enjoy it. I rocketed through the pages because I had to see what was going to happen next. That definitely hadn't changed. Was I thrilled where it went? No. Did I find a big chunk of it to be a huge cop-out? Yes. Fade-to-blacks are bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. That was such a huge buzzkill I'm still not over it. I think because of that fade-to-black it made me even less sympathetic to Prim's death. Actually, I didn't know it was her that died until a few pages later because I didn't remember her description. I didn't get to see Katniss's reaction. She just said how much it hurt. Blah.

It was decent enough. I've certainly read better series enders. I've also read worse. It's entertaining, the characters are, for the most part, still themselves, but Katniss is a puppet shoved along in the story which I found hard to enjoy. I guess that's the point, but even within that role she wasn't much else. She just kind of went with it. It was disappointing. As I said, most of the second half of the book was a little much for me, whether it was implausible, too out there or I was just disconnected from it all, I think it could have been done differently, and better. But what are you going to do?

Monday, September 6, 2010

My Banned Books Reading List

This will be my official post for Steph Su's Banned Books Reading Challenge, part of my month-long Ban This! event, wherein I read banned and/or challenged books for the next, well, just under two weeks. This is the only time I have to dedicate to being able to do this so I figured this little I could do was better than nothing.

I should be able to read and review two books by next Friday, and those books will be -

They've been in my pile for a few months now so what better reason to unbury them and read them up? So look for these two reviews within the next fortnight. If you haven't signed up for either Ban This! or the Banned Books Reading Challenge yet, be sure you do ASAP!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Added to the Pile + 51

Just one book this week. Thank god. Hopefully I can make a dent again in that pile of mine.

In this little book you'll find a surprisingly large variety of random thoughts, facts, statistics and secrets about Harry's magic universe, about the woman who created him, the books, the movies, the actors in the films . . .

In fact about everything Harry Potter. So if you think you know all there is to know about the boy wizard, think again and delve into . . . Exploring the Magic World of Harry Potter: An Unauthorized Fact Book. (book back blurb)

Things I've Learned from Books + 70

Even though the bitch is part of the freedom fighter movement, she's just another crazy ass dictator in disguise. Best to put her out of her misery now than let her follow the same path of her predecessor. It'll save much frustration.

A Winner + The Final Summer Blast Giveaway!

Sorry for the delay with this, everyone. I just couldn't keep my eyes open yesterday. So the winner of the signed copy of Of All the Stupid Things by Alexandra Diaz is . . .


Congratulations! I've already sent you an email. And a big thanks to everyone who entered!

Now, onto the very last giveaway of my Summer Blast. What is it this week?

Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

You want it? Just fill out the form below for your chance to win. Open to US residents 13 years of age and older only. One entry per person per email address. Duplicate entries will be deleted. Contest ends September 10th at midnight, EST.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

80s Awesomeness! ~ 79

Frankie Goes to Hollywood!!!

Quite rightly a one hit wonder, Frankie Goes to Hollywood had a kick ass song that threw sex right in your face and rubbed it around a little. Plus they spawned a rather interesting fashion trend. Frankie said a lot of things in the 80s, apparently.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Freaky Friday :|: 79

Title: Dark Angel, Night World #4
Author: LJ Smith
Published: November 1996
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Pages: 209
Dark Angel, Gilian is saved from drowning by her guardian angel. Only visible to Gilian, Angel will fulfill her heart’s every desire. But when Angel starts making strange and sinister requests, Gilian must question who he truly is and where he came from.
Dun, dun, dun. It could be good. It's a relatively intriguing story line.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bites and Steph Su Reads Ban Together for Ban This! and the Banned Books Reading Challenge

As if I haven't been pimping it out, Ban This! started yesterday; my month-long celebration of all that is banned books and the wankery that comes from them (or spurns them, as it were). This year, in conjunction with my banned books event, Steph Su over at Steph Su Reads is hosting The Banned Books Reading Challenge.

If you sign yourself up, you are promising to read something of the banned and/or challenged variety between September 1st and October 15th. Why is something like this so important? Simple. It shows the jerks that try to keep these kinds of books out of kids' hands that they're failing. By their incessant asshattery at attempts to purge their local libraries of such "filth," they are doing nothing more than providing free publicity and driving even more kids to read such books. Because you know kids listen when their parents say not to do something, right?

A good place to start looking for reading material if you're not sure where to find it is the ALA's Yearly Lists of Banned or Challenged Books (at the bottom of the page). You will certainly not be short of excellent books to pick up.

Personally, I'm hoping to get in one banned book read in this month. Hey, don't look at me like that. As of September 17th I am on vacation from everything, including this blog, for two weeks. That means no blog reading, reviewing or anything to do with it (I haven't stopped since I started back in January of 2009, I think I've earned my break). I have a blog tour book to read and I think I can fit in one more book after that, plus a review, before I go. That book will probably be ttyl by Lauren Myracle simply because it's in my pile and I bought it from my local library's book sale because it made the banned books list.

You know if a book lands there, it's damn good and worth reading. So pick 'em up, sign up for Steph Su's reading challenge and be sure to add your name to the Ban This! list to let everyone know that you're in it to win it this month against those neo-Nazis that want to take our words away from us.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Book Wars + 36

How I Live Now eeked out The City of Ember last week. This week, in honor of the start of Ban This!, I'm taking inspiration from ALA's Books Challenged or Banned in 09/10 list. Oh what fun! Expect the next war to be banned-inspired too. FIGHT!

St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger. . . . Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever. (from


Enter the dark, magical world of The House of Night, a world very much like our own, except here vampyres have always existed. Sixteen-year-old Zoey Redbird has just been Marked as a fledgling vampyre and joins the House of Night, a school where she will train to become an adult vampire. That is, if she makes it through the Change--and not all of those who are Marked do. It sucks to begin a new life, especially away from her friends, and on top of that, Zoey is no average fledgling. She has been chosen as special by the vampyre Goddess Nyx. Zoey discovers she has amazing powers, but along with her powers come bloodlust and an unfortunate ability to Imprint her human ex-boyfriend. To add to her stress, she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers: When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school's most elite group, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny--with a little help from her new vampyre friends. (from
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