Monday, October 31, 2011

Random Fun Halloween Music Post

Just wanted to post my favorite Halloween song of late. It's by a group called Dead Man's Bones, which is comprised of Ryan Gosling (swoon!) and Zach Shields. It even has a children's chorus. What more can you ask for?

Here it is - My Body's A Zombie For You



As a bonus, my little boy's adorable costume. Unfortunately, he didn't appreciate the value of cuteness over comfort. :-)


Happy Halloween!

Manga Mondays (74) Kekkaishi vol. 6 by Yellow Tanabe

Kekkaishi vol. 6 - Yellow Tanabe


Summary

A modern-day Romeo and Juliet, skilled in the art of the "kekkaishi," fight against their families' bitter rivalry and a gaggle of monsters and ghosts on the loose!

By day, 14-year-old Yoshimori Sumimura is just a regular kid going to junior high school, but by night he is a "kekkaishi," or demon-fighter who specializes in generating magical barriers around his prey before making them disappear. His neighbor is 16-year-old Tokine Yukimura, who is also a kekkaishi! Together they share the knowledge of their ancient art and their nights battling beings from the netherworld. Sounds fun, but their families don't get along, because each believes themselves to be the "true practitioners" of the art of the kekkaishi.

Will Yoshimori and Tokine friendship overcome their families' ancient rivalry? And will they be able to stop the frog-demon that's threatening their school?! Their exciting adventures and magical battles begin in this volume!(courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

*Warning: Potential spoilers. My manga reviews tend to be more of a summary than a review. I find it hard to review manga in the same way I do regular books.

The Karasumori, the magical site that Yoshimori and Tokine protect, continues to be under serious threat. A new kind of ayakashi has arrived. It's more dangerous, because it hides in a human skin and is thus more difficult to detect and can be out during the day. The particular ayakashi that Yoshimori and Tokine encounter is very powerful. They just barely escape. If there are more like him out there, that doesn't bode well.

The key part of this volume is the entrance of a new ayakashi figher, Gen. He was sent here by Yoshimori's brother Masamori. He's arrogant, thinks Yoshimori is incompetent, is irritated by Tokine, and is extremely dangerous. He is part ayakashi. And so powerful that he can easily claw through Yoshimori's kekkai (protective magical box/cage). This is another reason that I am suspicious of Masamori. Why is Gen here? Is he a good guy? Is he here to spy on Yoshimori? To overpower him? I don't understand Masamori's intentions.

Gen seems like a real jerk for the reasons stated above. He's not happy to be here, but he appears to worship Masamori and will do whatever he says. Regardless of whether Gen will ultimately prove to be a help or hindrance to Yoshimori, he helps get him out of a tough spot with a spinny demon. If Gen's not evil, he, Yoshimor, and Tokine may make a good team.

One of the ever-present themes of this series is Yoshimori's inferiority complex. He's been told his whole life that he's never good enough. When secretly, those that criticize him are incredibly impressed by his innate power. On one hand, it's good that they don't tell him how talented he is. It keeps him hungry and on his toes. But on the other hand, if he believes he's incompetent, will it be harder for him to reach his full potential? Or will it only make him work harder to prove that he's good enough. I think it's the latter, but it's hard to see Yoshimori with so little self-confidence.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

In My Mailbox (54)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

I'm Alison (on the off chance you couldn't guess that from the name of my blog). I review Young Adult novels with a few Middle Grade books and a weekly manga feature.

Tune in Tuesday for the start of Totally Twilight! A month of Twilight related posts in honor of the release of Breaking Dawn Part 1 on November 18.


Grab the Totally Twilight Button!





For Review





The Sharp Time by Mary O'Connell
*Thanks to Teen Book Scene


There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones
*Thanks to NetGalley
*I'm about 50 pages in. It's cute so far.

Bought



F In Exams: The Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers by Richard Benson

*I picked this up randomly at a gift shop. Ten minutes later I had tears streaming down my cheeks and was reading every entry to my husband - barely able to get through them because I was laughing so much.

Here are my favorites so far:

Q: What is Sir Francis Drake known for?

A: Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100 foot clipper.

Q. What was the main industry in Persia?

A. Cats

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Feature & Follow Friday #69


Welcome to Feature & Follow Friday (err Thursday) on Parajunkee.com


If you are new to the #FF fun, Feature & Follow Friday is a blog hop that expands your blog following by a joint effort between bloggers. Feature & Follow Friday is now hosted by TWO hosts, Rachel of Parajunkee and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

*Thanks so much to Rachel for allowing me to be part of the Follow Friday fun. Parajunkee is one of the best blogs out there and FF is a highlight of the blogging community. The FF has been one of my favorite parts of my week for over a year and I'm so excited to help my fellow book bloggers get to know each other better.

How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you! Now to make this #FF interesting we do a FEATURE blogger.

If you are interested in becoming a Feature click on the link here for Follow Friday Feature or go to Parajunkee and click the drop down link above FEATURES > Feature & Follow Friday and get on the waiting list!

It is also required, that if you participate you must follow the hosts (Parajunkee & Alison Can Read) and the two Feature blogs.


Our Feature - Reading in the Corner






HTML code:

"Hi, y'all! My name is Jessi and I blog over at ""Reading in the Corner."" Why did I start blogging? Well, because I failed at gardening, sewing, scrapbooking, cooking/baking, cleaning, and all things domestic. Okay, but seriously, I started blogging in February 2011 because I was reading so many books and I HAD to share them with someone (even if my only followers were my sister and my husband)! Since then, FF and many other memes have helped me discover the book blogging community and make so many blogger friends in the last 6 months! It's been really exciting for me to get to know you through your blogs.

Currently, I am a very BUSY person. I work a full-time job in academic library administration, a part time job in public library public services, and I take on graduate school in my spare time. (Can you guess my major?) In all my other spare time, you can generally find me curled up in some part of my little house in the country with my husband, two cats, and a good book. I currently have a minor obsession with YA dystopian and YA PNR novels, but at the moment I'm reading ""outside the box"" for my book club with ""Akata Witch"" by Nnedi Okorafor and ""Stuck in Neutral"" by Terry Trueman."

Q. If you could have dinner with your favorite book character, who would you eat with and what would you serve?



I'll start with Twilight: I'd like to have dinner with Jasper, because next to Edward he's my favorite Cullen (he may even surpass Edward). Check that...I'd rather the word or idea "dinner" not come up when I'm around Jasper. Instead, we'd meet at a library or bookstore or some non-food-related location. No sense inviting temptation.

Another character I'd love to have over for a meal is Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice. I could do dinner, but tea would be much more enjoyable. I have a pretty good scone recipe, so I'd make my favorite orange chocolate chip scones.

I think it would be a lark to go out to dinner with Magnus Bane of The Mortal Instruments. Alec could join us. I'd go somewhere really fancy, experimental, and expensive - one of those places where the portions are tiny and there's a high proportion of foam or things like garlic ice cream. I think Magnus would like that. Hopefully he'd pick up the bill too.

Now for the Follow Fun!









RULES To join the fun and make new book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:





  1. (Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
  2. (Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers - In Which Em Reviews Books & Reading in the Corner
  3. Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say "hi" in your comments and that they are now following you.
  5. Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "HI"
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love...and the followers
  7. If you're new to the follow friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!








Happy Follow Friday! Follow it up with your twitter address if you want to get that one out!




*********










Home for the Holidays (The Mother-Daughter Book Club #5) by Heather Vogel Frederick

Home for the Holidays (The Mother-Daughter Book Club #5) by Heather Vogel Frederick
October 4, 2011; Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing


Summary

This Christmas season, join the girls of the mother-daughter book club for a variety of holiday-themed adventures! But unfortunately, nothing goes quite as planned for any of the girls. On a Christmas cruise with their families, Megan and Becca fight over the dashing son of the ship's captain. Cassidy and her family fly back to California to visit Cassidy's sister Courtney... but when the West Coast causes homesickness for their former life in Laguna Beach, the family begins to question what state they should call home. And a disastrous sledding accident causes both Emma and Jess to completely change their holiday plans.

Between squabbles, injuries, and blizzards, everything seems to be going wrong. Will the girls be able to find their holiday spirit in time for Christmas? (courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

Home for the Holidays is the penultimate book in one of my favorite middle grade series, the Mother Daughter Book Club. We've been with these girls since they were eleven years old. Now they're fifteen turning sixteen. The book club goes on. The club even grew from four daughters to five. Now the girls consist of Emma, Cassie, Jess, Megan, and Becca.

Each book in the series is set during a different year in the girls' lives. In a slight twist, Home for the Holidays took place during the first half of the girls' sophomore year in high school. The next book, I assume, will constitute the second half. The book club is reading the Betsy Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. So wonderful! These are some of my favorite books. I am thrilled that Ms. Frederick is exposing a new generation of readers to these classic tween/teen novels.

The best part about Home for the Holidays is the addition of Becca's point of view. The story alternates from each girl's point of view. Until now, Becca was the only member of the club excluded. I assume this is because she was a later addition to the club and also tends to be a popular mean girl - a "frenemy." Now we have the opportunity to understand her better. Becca is sassy and somewhat mean, even in her internal chatter, but her good heart and general good intentions are more clear when seeing the world through her eyes. Becca is arguably the main character of this novel, since the main (although not the only) crisis plot point - that her father lost his job - involves her.

As usual, the book's plot very loosely follows the trajectory of the book club's chosen novel, or novels in this case. Much like Betsy and her Crowd, there is great emphasis on friendship, having fun, and boys. Influenced by Betsy In Spite Of Herself, the characters all travel over Christmas. This is where the problems start. Fighting, fighting, fighting. Ms. Frederick always does a good job of assigning flaws to otherwise likeable characters. The alternating points of view make the arguments even more interesting (and frustrating) since the reader knows what each character is thinking but the characters suffer from mistaken impressions or say things that we know they internally regret.

Home for the Holidays is another fun installment of the Mother Daughter Book Club series. While I wanted to knock the girls' heads together occasionally and get them to stop fighting, mostly the book is pure reading pleasure. I loved the incorporation of the Betsy Tacy series. I continue to admire Ms. Frederick for using 16 year old girls as the main characters in a middle grade series, making their lives realistic of the many teens who lead fairly tame, clean lives without alienating either older or younger readers.

Rating: 4 / 5

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

GIVEAWAY! Water For Elephants Book and DVD

Win a novel/DVD bundle of WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, out on Blu-ray and DVD November 1!


*Thanks to Fox Publicity for this fabulous giveaway.

Based on Sara Gruen’s epic novel about forbidden love, and directed by critically acclaimed filmmaker Francis Lawrence (Constantine), Water For Elephants stars Robert Pattinson as Jacob, a man devastated by the sudden death of his parents at the height of The Depression. When Jacob abandons his veterinary studies and stows away on a train carrying circus performers, his life is changed forever. Hired as a veterinarian to care for the circus’ animals, Jacob is temporarily filled with the promise of an exciting life that comes with a traveling circus troupe.

However, as he falls in love with the star of the show, Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), they become prey to the circus’s owner, Marlena’s abusive husband August (Christoph Waltz). With their love on the line, the circus begins to crumble from within, and Jacob and Marlena come to a crossroads that will forever change their destiny.

For your chance to win a prize bundle including Sara Gruen’s novel and a copy of the Water For Elephants DVD, simply leave a comment with your e-mail address and the answer to the following question:

Who directed Water For Elephants?
• Christoph Waltz
• Richard LaGravenese
• Francis Lawrence


Fine Print

-Contest ends November 9 at 10 PM PST
-Winners will be chosen at random through Random.org
-U.S./Canada only
-You must be 13 years or older
-Alison Can Read is not responsible for items lost or damaged in shipping.

Water For Elephants DVD Review/Book Comparison


Summary

Take a journey back in time with the romantic tale based on Sara Gruen’s New York Times #1 Best-Seller novel of the same name, Water For Elephants, coming to Blu-ray and DVD on November 1st from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Starring Academy Award®-winner Reese Witherspoon (Walk The Line), Robert Pattinson (Twilight series) and Oscar®-winner Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds), the film presents an epic tale of forbidden love in a magical place filled with adventure, wonder and great danger. Showcasing the decadence of a bohemian circus and the majesty of its animals against the backdrop and beauty of a bygone era, Water For Elephants makes the ideal holiday gift idea for your favorite film buff, fashionista or book-lover!

Devastated by the sudden death of his parents at the height of The Depression, a young dreamer from the wrong side of the tracks, Jacob Jankowski (Pattinson), abandons his veterinary studies at Cornell University. With no other family, no house, and no money, Jacob stows away on a train carrying the circus performers of The Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Hired as a veterinarian to care for the troupe’s animals, Jacob is temporarily filled with the promise of an exciting life that comes with a traveling circus troupe. However, as he builds a rapport and falls in love with the star of the show, Marlena (Witherspoon), they become prey to the circus’s owner, Marlena’s violent and abusive husband August (Waltz). As the circus begins to crumble from within and against all odds, Jacob and Marlena come together and fall in love through their compassion for a special elephant. With their love on the line, Jacob and Marlena come to a crossroads that will forever change their destiny.

Directed by critically-acclaimed filmmaker Francis Lawrence (Constantine), Water For Elephants features fantastic supporting performances from Paul Schneider (Lars and the Real Girl), Jim Norton (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), Mark Povinelli (The Polar Express), Richard Brake (Batman Begins), and Academy Award®-nominee Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild).

Review

I picked up Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen eighteen months ago when I heard that Robert Pattinson had been cast as the leading man. I was blown away by the story - the romance, the exotic setting of a circus, the cruelty, the friendships, and more. It was one of my favorite reads of 2010. I was unable to make it to the theater to see Water For Elephants last spring, so I was beyond thrilled that Fox offered me the opportunity to review and discuss an early copy of the DVD. Like most movies adapted from a novel, the film version of Water For Elephants is not as good as the book, but I still really enjoyed it.

What the film does best is showcase the simultaneous glitz and dirtiness of the circus. Not only that, it does a wonderful job of portraying the 1930s. The desperate poverty, train-hopping, Prohibition, jazz, and the somewhat seedy entertainment options. It was a slight variation on the usual portrayal of 1930s America. The film employs a style of cinematography that you don't see much anymore - everything seems larger than life - more beautiful and more terrible. Even though I was lying in bed watching the DVD on my laptop, I could smell the dust kicked up by the animals, the cotton candy and peanuts, and the sweat and tears of the performers. I was transported into another world. Arresting visuals is one thing that a movie can provide that books largely cannot. Water For Elephants did a fantastic job with the visuals.

I loved the fashion. Clothes are one of the best ways to showcase a particular moment in time and the costumes in Water For Elephants were fabulous. I particularly liked the clothes that the circus audience wore. Every day people wear. One little girl stood out (probably because of the close-up shot); she was wearing a sailor outfit and had Shirley Temple curls. Adorable. Marlena's dresses and costumes were another highlight. Her performance costume was exotic and glamorous. I wondered whether it was a little too risque for the time period, but I would assume the costume designer kept it in line with 1930s performer outfits. The gowns she wore at the dinner scenes were gorgeous - simple yet elegant.

The three main characters in Water For Elephants are Jacob, Marlena, and August. I'm a big fan of both Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon, so I was inclined to like both of their performances. And I did. Rob portrayed Jacob just as I imagined him to be in the books. He didn't act out the role with a great deal of emotion, but book Jacob is a relatively flat character who didn't wear his emotions on his sleeve. Rob did a great job of creating a kind, somewhat awkward, and rolls with the punches character. Reese was also wonderful. You could tell how much Marlena loved animals. I also understood, perhaps even better than from the book, why she stayed with a man like August. Reese's Marlena believed that the circus was the only place for her...or the only place she deserved.

What I didn't like as much was Jacob and Marlena together. Call me a Cougar-hater, but I could not get past the fact that she is ten years older than him. As a result, instead of going "Awww..." when they kissed, I went "Ewww..." Yes, I know. Very mature. I don't remember if it said how old Marlena was in the book, but I never thought was she more than a year or two older than he was. While I think Reese acted the part of Marlena wonderfully, I would have liked the romance better if they had chosen a younger actress. (Or an older actor, but Rob is the right age for Jacob)

The stand-out performance was Christoph Waltz as August. I loved the layered approach Christoph took to the role. He portrayed August as completely psychotic. But not necessarily evil. He was sick - very sick. That doesn't excuse the things he did - mindlessly maiming and killing animals and humans. But Christoph created two characters. The charming, friendly August who was horrified about the terrible things he did and the violent psycopath. He did a wonderful, subtle job of mixing the two personalities. I hated him and I pitied him. Best of all, I believed him. My only problem with him was his accent. Christoph is Austrian. When he speaks, he doesn't sound like he has a German accent. Rather, he sounds like he's speaking American English with an odd, but hard to place difference. Since I always imagined August as an American in the book, his voice was distracting. I actually liked the way he talked, but it wasn't what I expected.

Since the film cannot and should not be 10 hours long, many parts of the book were condensed or left out. This made some of the connections a bit choppy. For example, we got to know Walter and Camel, but not nearly as well as in the book. The focus on the triangle between August, Marlena, and Rob - as well as Rosie the elephant - was the main feature of the movie. There wasn't time to get the same feel for day to day life for the circus lackies as in the book. Like the book, the movie features Jacob as an old man looking back on his life. Part of me thinks it would have been smoother to skip old Jacob and just focus on the 1930s. But old Jacob's reminisces were some of my favorite scenes in the book. I rather like the references to them in the movie.

If I had my choice between reading the book Water For Elephants and watching the film Water For Elephants, I'd choose the book any day, but that's the case with almost any book versus movie (and the reason I have a book blog, not a film blog). If I had the choice between the film Water For Elephants and many other films, I would probably choose Water For Elephants. The gorgeous cinematography transported me back in time and the actors did a great job of bringing to life and even enhancing characters I loved from the novel.

I highly recommend Water For Elephants the film! And if you haven't read Water For Elephants the book yet, pick it up and then watch the film. Both are wonderful.

*I was provided a free copy of Water For Elephants in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fins Are Forever by Tera Lynn Childs

Fins Are Forever by Tera Lynn Childs
June 28, 2011; HarperCollins Childrens Books


Summary

On Lily Sanderson’s eighteenth birthday she’ll become just a girl—still a mergirl, true, but signing the renunciation will ink Princess Waterlily of Thalassinia out of existence. That leaves plain old Lily living on land, dating the boy she loves, and trying to master this being-human thing once and for all.

Now that Lily and Quince are together, mer bond or not, she’s almost content to give up her place in the royal succession of Thalassinia. But just when she thinks she has everything figured out, the waves start to get rough. Lily’s father sends a certain whirlpool-stirring cousin to stay with her on land. What did Doe do to get herself exiled from Thalassinia and stuck in terraped form when everyone knows how much she hates humans? And why why why is she batting her eyelashes at Lily’s former crush, Brody?

The seafoam on the raging surf comes when a merboy from Lily’s past shows up—Tellin asks Lily for something that clouds her view of the horizon. There’s a future with Quince on land, her loyalty to the kingdom in the sea, and Lily tossing on the waves in the middle. Will she find a way to reconcile her love, her duty, and her own dreams?

Tera Lynn Childs’s sequel to Forgive My Fins offers another tail-flicking romance with plenty of fun, sun, and underwater adventure. (courtesy of Goodreads)

Reviews

Forgive My Fins was an adorable tail (spelling on purpose) of a mermaid discovering who she should love and whether love is worth giving up your home at sea for a landlocked life. It was light, fluffy, and loads of fun. Fins Are Forever, the sequel, is similarly adorable. It is not as good as the first book, but I still enjoyed it.

Things are going great at the start of Fins Are Forever. Quince and Lily are in love and swimingly happy. Pretty typical start to a second book. Then Lily's cousin Doe shows up and threatens to ruin everything.

Lily is floundering throughout much of this book. She always thought she'd go back to her sea home after school. Now that that isn't going to happen, she has to plan for a human future. That means college. But is that what she wants? She doesn't want to go back to the sea again or does she?

We meet new characters in this book and get to know old ones better. Doe's actions are pretty shocking. She thoughtlessly uses people. However, she isn't a flatly awful character. I was pleased that the author gives an explanation for her hatred toward humans and allowed her personality to grow. I also liked how Lily grew in this novel. She starts out much more confident than she was in Forgive My Fins, but she still has a long ways to go toward maturity. By the end of the book, she is beginning to have a grown-up, long-term view and makes decisions by thinking about someone else than herself. I was not a fan of Quince here. I loved him in the first book, but he's an after-thought in much of Fins Are Forever. Par for the second book course, I suppose, but since he was one of the main things that made Forgive My Fins loveable, it's extra disappointing to miss out on extra Quince moments. The main new character is Tellin, a guppyhood friend of Lily. I loved his character. Is he a good or bad guy? Honest or manipulative? It's hard to say for much of the book. Nice to have a complex character.

The plot is good and bad. On the good side, we learn more about the mermaid world. There are other kingdoms, for example. And the human world has affected mermaids more than we realized in the first book. Things aren't all sunny. The author did a great job of exploring how Lily has the potential to affect her subjects' lives for good and the consequences of doing so. It takes the book slightly beyond it's main fluffy nature. On the bad side of the plot, there were a lot of events that were too outrageous to be believed - even for a mermaid book. Doe and Brody's relationship ended up being a stretch. And certain conflicts were cleaned up too neatly at the end.

Regardless of its flaws, Fins Are Forever was a cute continuation to the series. I don't take these books too seriously, so I'm willing to accept some silliness. I'm curious to see where the series goes from here.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Monday, October 24, 2011

Manga Mondays (73) Kekkaishi vol. 5 by Yellow Tanabe

Kekkaishi vol. 5 - Yellow Tanabe


Summary

A modern-day Romeo and Juliet, skilled in the art of the "kekkaishi," fight against their families' bitter rivalry and a gaggle of monsters and ghosts on the loose!

By day, 14-year-old Yoshimori Sumimura is just a regular kid going to junior high school, but by night he is a "kekkaishi," or demon-fighter who specializes in generating magical barriers around his prey before making them disappear. His neighbor is 16-year-old Tokine Yukimura, who is also a kekkaishi! Together they share the knowledge of their ancient art and their nights battling beings from the netherworld. Sounds fun, but their families don't get along, because each believes themselves to be the "true practitioners" of the art of the kekkaishi.

Will Yoshimori and Tokine friendship overcome their families' ancient rivalry? And will they be able to stop the frog-demon that's threatening their school?! Their exciting adventures and magical battles begin in this volume!(courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

*Warning: Potential spoilers. My manga reviews tend to be more of a summary than a review. I find it hard to review manga in the same way I do regular books.

Volume 4 ends with Yoshimori deciding that he will find out how to seal off the power of the Karasumori, the valuable magical area that his and Tokine's families guard, forever. That way no one will get hurt. He spends much of volume 5 searching for information on how to do this.

His first opportunity comes with the arrival of a goofy looking deity. Lord Udo is a giant sea-walrus like creature who is the deity of the Karasumori area. His bed has been destroyed and Yoshimori is sent to fix it. Lord Udo is a weird character. I guess his purpose is comic relief as much as anything. He's obsessed with food and has a naggy Jiminy Cricket-like figure who lives on top of his hat. The only benefit to the plot is Lord Udo's wealth of knowledge. Yoshimori wants to know more about the origins of the Karasumori. Yoshimori risks his life to obtain more knowledge. I like this kid more and more every day. He's incredibly selfless. Rather than thirsting for glory, he wants most to keep Tokine and others from getting hurt.

Meanwhile, Tokine is going crazy. She knows that Yoshimori is up to something but he won't tell her anything. She has no idea that he's trying to seal the Karasumori, for her benefit. She thinks he's purposely trying to annoy her. The tension between them is so cute. It's obvious that they're soul mates but they're too stubborn to admit it even to themselves.

The volume ends with a powerful group of demons sent to test the Karasumori. It's a battle much like all the others in this series, but it sets up an ongoing plot point of a showdown once and for all for the Karasumori site.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

In My Mailbox (53)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

I'm Alison (on the off chance you couldn't guess that from the name of my blog). I review Young Adult novels with a few Middle Grade books and a weekly manga feature.

For Review


The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
*Thanks to Teen Book Scene!

Bought


The Twilight Graphic Novel vol. 2 by Stephenie Meyer


*I read this as an ARC but I wanted to buy a finished copy.

Library Stash

*It's been quite a week! The library had Beautiful Chaos and Scorpio Races waiting for me on the day they were released!


Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl


Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater


Bunheads by Sophie Flack


Supernaturally by Kiersten White


The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Feature & Follow Friday #68


Welcome to Feature & Follow Friday (err Thursday) on Parajunkee.com


If you are new to the #FF fun, Feature & Follow Friday is a blog hop that expands your blog following by a joint effort between bloggers. Feature & Follow Friday is now hosted by TWO hosts, Rachel of Parajunkee and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

*Thanks so much to Rachel for allowing me to be part of the Follow Friday fun. Parajunkee is one of the best blogs out there and FF is a highlight of the blogging community. The FF has been one of my favorite parts of my week for over a year and I'm so excited to help my fellow book bloggers get to know each other better.

How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you! Now to make this #FF interesting we do a FEATURE blogger.

If you are interested in becoming a Feature click on the link here for Follow Friday Feature or go to Parajunkee and click the drop down link above FEATURES > Feature & Follow Friday and get on the waiting list!

It is also required, that if you participate you must follow the hosts (Parajunkee & Alison Can Read) and the two Feature blogs.


Our Feature - The Bursting Bookshelf





I am a bookaholic whose friends got tired of hearing about my latest read. I decided to make a book blog to get my bookish opinions out there for other book lovers to read and the ball just got rolling from there. I mainly read YA fiction, and my favorite books are by far the Harry Potter series and The Hunger Games series. Currently I am hooked to dystopian books and I try and read as many of them as possible.

Q.What superhero is your alter-ego?

I've never been that into superheroes, so I don't have a good answer for this one. My favorite "superhero" is actually...

Nancy Pearl, the librarian. I have her action figure doll sitting on my bookshelf.

If you want to read a fun superhero book, I highly recommend The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell.





Now for the Follow Fun!











RULES To join the fun and make new book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:





  1. (Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
  2. (Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers - We Fancy Books & The Little Book Blog
  3. Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say "hi" in your comments and that they are now following you.
  5. Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "HI"
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love...and the followers
  7. If you're new to the follow friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!








Happy Follow Friday! Follow it up with your twitter address if you want to get that one out!




*********










Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
April 6, 2006; Viking Juvenile


Summary

Last year, Annabel was "the girl who has everything" — at least that's the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf's Department Store. This year, she's the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong. Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen's help,maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.

Review

Just Listen was my first Sarah Dessen novel. I've been meaning to read her books for years and never got around to it until now. I can't believe I missed all this wonderfulness! How I adored Just Listen. Sarah Dessen is a genius of contemporary YA romance.

Truth. You can whittle the theme of Just Listen down to that one word. The importance of being truthful to your friends and family. But most of all, the importance of being true to yourself.

Annabel Greene lives a perfect lie. As a model and television commercial actress, she's beautiful, carefree, and full of smiles. In reality, Annabel is haunted - by a recent event, by her family's issues, and by her inability to stand up for herself.

Enter cute boy stage right. Owen seems like a bad boy. Sullen, perpetually angry, and never without his headphones - Owen is not the boy you'd want to bring home to your parents. Except that he is...He is incredibly sweet, insightful, and honest. Most of all, honest. I loved how passionate Owen was about music and how eager he was to share his passion with Annabel. I loved how he accepted Annabel without hesitation, despite her status as a social leper and her lack of musical appreciation. I loved how he challenged Annabel to be the person she was meant to be. Owen is shining star in a crowded field of YA love interests.

Another highlight of Just Listen is the family element. Books with strong family plot arcs are rare in YA. Annabel's parents and sisters were crucial characters in this story. Annabel's entire family lives a lie. They're falling apart but refusing to admit it. Only when Whitney's (Annabel's sister) eating disorder advances close to a point of no return are they even willing to acknowledge that there's a problem. From that point, we have a slow healing process throughout the book. I loved seeing how Whitney progressed in her recovery from her eating disorder. It felt real - neither too fast nor too slow. Dessen also did a great job of highlighting each family member's flaws and moved the plot in a way that allowed each person to improve.

Just Listen is a delightful book. It has everything that I want in a contemporary YA novel. Romance of course. But also strong plot arcs that take the story beyond a simple romance. Family, friends, self-discovery. Everything in the story is cleaned up by the end in a way that could potentially happen. The book never felt fake. I will definitely be reading more by Sarah Dessen.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
October 25, 2011; Harlequin

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Summary

My name—my True Name—is Ashallayn'darkmyr Tallyn.

I am the last remaining son of Mab, Queen of the Unseelie Court. And I am dead to her.

My fall began, as many stories do, with a girl… (courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

Phenomenal! If you loved the first three books in the Iron Fey series, you must read Iron Knight. In fact, if you only tolerated the first three books, still make sure you pick up Iron Knight. The fourth and final book in the Iron Fey series is the best of them all.

The book starts not long after the bittersweet ending of Iron Queen, in which Meghan banished her true love Ash for his own good. Now Ash is determined to trade his fairy soul for that of a mortal, so he can reside with Meghan in the Iron Kingdom. Reminiscent of Homer's The Odyssey, Ash sets off on a long journey of dangerous adventures to reach the place where he might become mortal.

Ironic considering that Ash's quest is all about his future, much of his journey centers on his past. We learn more about his old love Ariella, his friendship/feud with Puck, and many misdeeds. Puck and Ash's banter is a highlight of this novel. I always liked how they hated each other yet also didn't. Their rivalry is a game they unwittingly came to enjoy. It's nice to see how their friendship comes full circle in this book.

Kagawa has two skills that sets her apart from most YA writers: action and characters. I've encountered few authors who are as good at keeping their books full of action. The plot is perfectly paced. You have a big action scene and then a few scenes of heavy dialogue (aka sarcastic banter) and/or important character development and then another action scene. The action ensures that the reader is never bored while the character development and dialog elevate the book to a level beyond that of a swash-buckling adventure tale.

Fear not the absence of your favorite Iron Fey characters. Puck and Grimalkin are crucial characters. I also loved the new creatures/people we meet, especially the Wolf. I enjoyed seeing how the Wolf was both different and similar to Grim. Meghan is not as present in this novel, but she's still there. I didn't miss her all that much. Even if she's not physically present, Meghan is the light at the end of the tunnel and is always very much "there."

Iron Knight is the perfect end to a fabulous series. You'll smile, laugh, gasp, cry, fear, rejoice, and more.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Witchlanders by Lena Coakley

Witchlanders by Lena Coakley
August 30, 2011; Atheneum


Summary

High in their mountain covens, red witches pray to the Goddess, protecting the Witchlands by throwing the bones and foretelling the future.

It’s all a fake.

At least, that’s what Ryder thinks. He doubts the witches really deserve their tithes—one quarter of all the crops his village can produce. And even if they can predict the future, what danger is there to foretell, now that his people’s old enemy, the Baen, has been defeated?

But when a terrifying new magic threatens both his village and the coven, Ryder must confront the beautiful and silent witch who holds all the secrets. Everything he’s ever believed about witches, the Baen, magic and about himself will change, when he discovers that the prophecies he’s always scorned—

Are about him.(courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

Witchlanders is a quietly enticing novel. A high fantasy that feels foreign yet familiar. Don't let the beautiful girl on the cover fool you. This is a tale about two boys from different worlds whose lives intertwine unexpectedly.

The Baens and the Witchlanders have been enemies forever. Each culture has its own myth stories decrying the evils of the other. Ryder is a young Witchlander boy who scoffs at the Witchlander religion of prophecy and witchcraft that professes to foretell the future and protect the society from the Baens and other evils. The death of his father forced Ryder to grow up fast, taking on the roll of quasi-father, breadwinner, and caretaker to his addict mother. Ryder loves and protects his family yet he is also angry and resentful, particularly of his mother's addiction to a hallucinogenic leaf.

Falpian is a Baen boy sent on a journey to prove himself. Unlike Ryder, Falpian grew up in a wealthy home with an easy life of magical training. He and his brother were destined to be great bearers of magic. With his brother's death and Falpian's evident lack of magic, he is a great disappointment to his father. Falpian is not angry as much as he is broken. He believes he is as worthless as his father believes. He misses his brother horribly and feels like he's let down his people.

The two boys almost literally run into each other. They begin as bitter enemies but soon find themselves connecting. Animosity turns into acceptance which turns into a gradually building friendship. Together, the boys have incredible power which could save or destroy both their societies.

At times Witchlanders was confusing. I wasn't sure whether any of the magical elements were real, but it soon became clear that some were valid and some were fake. The origins of the Baen and Witchlanders society are never clearly spelled out, although enough becomes clear to have a basic understanding. Also, the plot began very slow and didn't begin picking up until Falpian and Ryder met.

That being said, Witchlanders was a highly enjoyable read. Coakley's prose was smooth and welcoming. Even when I didn't understand what was happening, I felt like I was reading the letter of an old friend. The words flowed and urged me to press on. I quickly grew to empathize with and like both of the main characters. I was especially fond of Falpian. I really liked the underlying themes of family, friendship, and the dangers of unfounded prejudice on those who are different, whether in religion, looks, or places of origin. I also liked reading a novel where romance was completely absent. The heart of the book is the changing relationship of the boys. The progression of their friendship felt real and consistently interesting.

Rating: 4 / 5

Monday, October 17, 2011

Manga Mondays (72) Kekkaishi vol. 4 by Yellow Tanabe

Kekkaishi vol. 4 - Yellow Tanabe


Summary

A modern-day Romeo and Juliet, skilled in the art of the "kekkaishi," fight against their families' bitter rivalry and a gaggle of monsters and ghosts on the loose!

By day, 14-year-old Yoshimori Sumimura is just a regular kid going to junior high school, but by night he is a "kekkaishi," or demon-fighter who specializes in generating magical barriers around his prey before making them disappear. His neighbor is 16-year-old Tokine Yukimura, who is also a kekkaishi! Together they share the knowledge of their ancient art and their nights battling beings from the netherworld. Sounds fun, but their families don't get along, because each believes themselves to be the "true practitioners" of the art of the kekkaishi.

Will Yoshimori and Tokine friendship overcome their families' ancient rivalry? And will they be able to stop the frog-demon that's threatening their school?! Their exciting adventures and magical battles begin in this volume!(courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

*Warning: Potential spoilers. My manga reviews tend to be more of a summary than a review. I find it hard to review manga in the same way I do regular books.

There's an obvious sibling theme to Volume 4. We start out with Masahiko, the pastry chef ghost that we met in Volume 3. As much as Yoshimori likes him, he wants Masahiko to get past his figurative demons and move in on the spirit world. Turns out that Masahiko feels horribly guilty about his death. Masahiko was poised to take over his uncle's business. Now that burden has fallen to his little brother, on whom Masahiko doted ever since their parents died at a young age. He's sure that his brother resents him for dying. Yoshimori goes to Masahiko's brother to talk to him about Masahiko's death. Understandably skeptical, he ignores Yoshimori until he bakes a cake that brings back childhood memories. This happy memory allows both Masahiko and his brother to heal and Masahiko can move on.

The more important plot point of this volume is the introduction of Masamori, Yoshimori's older brother. Masamori is in his early twenties and seemingly perfect. He's an incredible demon fighter, handsome, confident, and well reputed. Yoshimori feels two inches tall around him. Masamori doesn't help Yoshimori's confidence. All he does is criticize him. Why aren't you faster? Why are you so reckless? Why don't you know more theory? Why are you so lazy? It goes on and on. It seems like Masamori is horribly jealous that Yoshimori is the legitimate heir instead of him.

Masamori is a mystery to me in this volume. I can't tell if he's trying to help Yoshimori or hinder him. At one point, it looks like he set up a very difficult test of demons for Yoshimori, although upon a closer reading, he may have just been observing. Still, the idea that he's hoping Yoshimori will fail is possible. I hope to get a better read on him in future volumes.

All in all, an interesting volume that starts out relatively light. Then it introduces more tension and a new plot arc that will be very important in future volumes.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

In My Mailbox (52)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

I'm Alison (on the off chance you couldn't guess that from the name of my blog). I review Young Adult novels with a few Middle Grade books and a weekly manga feature.

For Review


Cracked by K.M. Walton


Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsay

*Thanks to Teen Book Scene for both books!


Water For Elephants DVD
*Thanks to Fox for giving me a review copy for an upcoming book/movie comparison! So excited!

Library Stash


Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward (BDB #2)


Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward (BDB #3)


Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward (BDB #4)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Feature & Follow Friday #67


Welcome to Feature & Follow Friday (err Thursday) on Parajunkee.com


If you are new to the #FF fun, Feature & Follow Friday is a blog hop that expands your blog following by a joint effort between bloggers. Feature & Follow Friday is now hosted by TWO hosts, Rachel of Parajunkee and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

*Thanks so much to Rachel for allowing me to be part of the Follow Friday fun. Parajunkee is one of the best blogs out there and FF is a highlight of the blogging community. The FF has been one of my favorite parts of my week for over a year and I'm so excited to help my fellow book bloggers get to know each other better.

How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you! Now to make this #FF interesting we do a FEATURE blogger.

If you are interested in becoming a Feature click on the link here for Follow Friday Feature or go to Parajunkee and click the drop down link above FEATURES > Feature & Follow Friday and get on the waiting list!

It is also required, that if you participate you must follow the hosts (Parajunkee & Alison Can Read) and the two Feature blogs.


Our Feature - Life Between Pages





Hello everyone! My name is Sophie, and I am pretty new to the world of book blogging. I originally started my blog as a way for me to get motivated and start reading the piles of books I have accumulated in my house and never read. I have so many that it started to get confusing!

I must admit that I've been a pretty lazy reader the past few years, and so many of the titles you see me writing about are those that you might be quite familiar with. Don't get me wrong, reading is a great passion of mine, but life has just got in the way. Now though I figure it's time to MAKE more time because, frankly, the books and my blog are so worth it. :-))

Q.If you could have characters from a particular book meet and form an epic storyline with characters from a particular TV series, which would you choose and why?



This is a bad question for me, since I don't watch much TV at all. I'll base my answers on TV shows I watched when I was younger:

1. Boy Meets World and Don Calame's Swim the Fly and Beat the Band
-A bunch of goofy, dorky boys who think they're cooler than they are.

2. Full House and Cheaper By The Dozen (the book not the movie)
-I don't know why. It just came to mind.

3. Sabrina the Teenage Witch and the Hex Hall series
-Well, they're both witches. I think Sophie and Sabrina would get along.

4. Hannah Montana and Secrets of my Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita
-Hannah Montana is a guilty pleasure of mine. Kaitlyn is much less hyper than Miley/Hannah, but their personalities are somewhat similar.



Now for the Follow Fun!









RULES To join the fun and make new book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:





  1. (Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
  2. (Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers - We Fancy Books & The Little Book Blog
  3. Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say "hi" in your comments and that they are now following you.
  5. Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "HI"
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love...and the followers
  7. If you're new to the follow friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!








Happy Follow Friday! Follow it up with your twitter address if you want to get that one out!




*********










What Blog Post Are You Most Proud Of?

How many blog posts have you written? This is my 477th post. I have enjoyed every single one. Some of course are better than others. Perhaps I was in a good writing mode (My writing ability is like my hair - usually out of control and ugly, but occasionally and quite randomly smooth and straight). Or perhaps it was a book or issue about which I was really passionate. I definitely have a few posts that stand out in my mind as the ones about which I am most proud.

Here are a few of my favorites:

I LOVE Twilight And I Am NOT ASHAMED!
-I wrote this post in response to the repeated embarrassed confessions by bloggers of enjoying Twilight. I was upset not only that anyone felt ashamed of being a Twilight fan, but why anyone should be ashamed of liking any book.

The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide by Stephenie Meyer
-Yes, another Twilight post on the list of favorites. Shocking, I'm sure. I took time off work to read the Illustrated Guide on the day it came out. I devoured it in a few hours and then came home and spent more than 2 hours writing this review. I was so happy with the Illustrated Guide and also so disappointed. Both emotions clearly come through my review. I'm particularly pleased that this review is the first review listed on Amazon for this book.

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
-I love this review partly because I loved the book so much. Since it's a literary novel, I tried to be more analytical and lyrical in my writing. I am not by nature a literary type of writer, but I think I did a better job in this than in many other posts.

What posts are you most proud of? Post links to them in the comments if you like

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Illusions (Wings #3) by Aprilynne Pike

Illusions (Wings #3) by Aprilynne Pike
May 3, 2011; HarperCollins Publishers


Summary

Laurel hasn't seen Tamani since she begged him to let her go last year. Though her heart still aches, Laurel is confident that David was the right choice.

But just as life is returning to normal, Laurel discovers that a hidden enemy lies in wait. Once again, Laurel must turn to Tamani to protect and guide her, for the danger that now threatens Avalon is one that no faerie thought would ever be possible. And for the first time, Laurel cannot be sure that her side will prevail. (courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

I read Wings, the first book in the Wings series, a few years ago and was blown away by the fresh take on fairies, likable characters, and intriguing plot. The second book, Spells, was good but too scattered for my taste. Illusions, the third book in the series, is better than Spells but fails to reach the level of excellence Wings achieved.

I continue to love Pike's version of fairies. Pike takes the basic framework of traditional fairy lore and adds to it. The fey are even more closely tied to nature than is traditional and the class system, politics, and magic is unique yet still in keeping with what you'd expect of the fey.

The best part of Illusions is that the book alternates between Tamani and Laurel's points of view. Laurel's knowledge of fairy-land is still very limited. I understand the world much better by seeing through Tamani's eyes. There is much that Laurel doesn't see about his daily life and now the reader learns what Laurel misses. Also, Tamani's point of view is useful to Illusions since significant portions of plot take place away from Laurel.

A new character is introduced in Illusions: Yuki, another fairy living among mortals. Laurel's acquaintance Klea (friend or foe?) looks after Yuki and puts her into Laurel's school. Tamani befriends her to keep an eye on her. Nothing more. Or is it? The reader knows how Tamani feels, but Laurel doesn't. Let the drama ensue...

Here we get to my issue with Illusions. It's too love triangley. Or love rectangley. Laurel is still torn between David and Tamani. The boys, David especially, can barely tolerate each other. Laurel gets her own taste of jealousy with Yuki. She can't stand Yuki being around Tamani, even though Laurel's still dating David. Drama! The romantic tension fits with the plot and does reach some sort of conclusion by the end of the book. But it's such an overdone plot device that it was hard not to roll my eyes at various points in the story. (On the up side though, there are a few fabulous romantic scenes in Illusions that made me squeal.)

I was happy that the story was more focused in this book, rather than trying to accomplish too much as did the second book. But now, instead of writing too much in too few pages, it felt like there was too little in too many pages. It dragged at points. Nevertheless, the ending was very intriguing. I can't say I loved Illusions, but it left me excited to see where this series ends up in the fourth book.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Coming Soon: Totally Twilight! - Guest Posts Needed


November will be Totally Twilight month on Alison Can Read

In celebration of the release of Breaking Dawn Part 1 movie on November 18, I am going to feature a whole month of Twilight related posts!

*For those of you who don't feel the need for Twilight every day and all day like I do, there will be some non-Twilight review and meme posts as well.

I'm still trying to put together a list of events for Totally Twilight month, but here are a few ideas:

Twilight related reviews
Twilight music
Fan-Fiction (Maybe even some of my own! I love showing off - or embarrassing myself)
Twilight shopping
Twilight related discussion posts
Movie reviews
Guest Posts

Let me know if you have any ideas for Twilight posts.

I'm looking for Twilight Guest Posts!

On any topic you can think of - Why you love Twilight, your favorite character, your excitement for the movie, the impact Twilight had on your life, etc. I'm probably looking for 3 or 4 guest posts.

E-mail me at AlisonCanRead at gmail dot com if you're interested in doing a Guest Post!


Grab the Totally Twilight Button!



Zombies Don't Cry by Rusty Fischer

Zombies Don't Cry by Rusty Fischer
May 1, 2011; Medallion PR Inc.


Summary

In the sleepy small town of Barracuda Bay, Maddy Swift leads the life of a fairly typical teenager, but while attending a party one night, Maddy is struck by lightning and awakens to realize she has been reanimated and turned into a zombie. While becoming acquainted with her new "lifestyle," Maddy stumbles upon two unexpected undead chaperones, fellow students Dane and Chloe, who begin to teach her the ways of zombie life, including defending the populace from Zerkers—the bad zombies. Together, on prom night, the three teens must ultimately defend Barracuda Bay High from an all-out zombie Armageddon. (courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

I'll start by saying that zombies will never be my paranormal creature of choice. Not that there's anything inherently wrong with zombies, but while I can imagine kissing a vampire (a tame one), fairy, or wizard, I have no desire to touch lips with a zombie. My distaste for zombie-kind colors my review somewhat, but I really enjoyed Zombies Don't Cry.

I'll break the book down into its essential elements:

1. Maddie: I loved the main character. She's a very normal girl. It's refreshing to see someone who isn't overly angsty. She's the type of girl who dies, comes back to life as a brain-eating zombie, and still tries to keep her life somewhat normal. No endless sobbing streaks or vengeful rampages. Instead she goes home, goes to school, makes new friends, keeps the old, and tries to avoid her enemies.

2. Side Characters: I loved Dane and Chloe, two zombies who attend Maddie's school and take her under their wing. They're hilariously deadpan about almost everything. I also love that they're so nonchalant about most of their lives. It made the transition easier for Maddie and the reader. Stamp, Maddie's crush, is a sweet guy too. Very normal. Kind of boring but in a likeable way. Dahlia and Bones, the bad guys, are somewhat cardboard but functional as villains.

3. Zombies: Fischer stayed close to traditional zombie lore. They do indeed have to subsist upon brains. Fortunately, animal brains work as well as human brains. The zombies look dead. Extraordinarily pale, yellow teeth, wounds that don't heal, yet they have supernatural strength. Unlike standard zombies, Fischers zombies have a government of sorts. There are rules that you must follow to stay in the zombies' good graces. I loved the idea behind this. Unfortunately, I thought the book explained just enough to whet my appetite, but not enough to fill me up. Perhaps more would be explained if there are follow-ups.

4. Romance: This book is billed as a love story. There is definitely romance in this book, but it wasn't the main element. The story is framed around romance. Maddie dies on her way to a party to meet her crush Stamp. She and Stamp flirt and banter throughout the book working their way to something more. Enter boy two! Dane, one of Maddie's zombie mentors, is super nice and funny. Maddie likes Stamp, but does she like Dane too? This of course can be a whole plot unto itself, but I found the friendship and zombie lore far more interesting than the romance. Still, the romance was cute. I prefer books with a more developed romance story, but I think adding more to this book wouldn't have fit well with the plot.

5. Horror/Humor: Let me explain why I'm combining these inherently different categories. There is definitely horror in this novel. There is violence and, obviously, death. Maddie is in great danger from the Zerkers as are her friends. But I thought the horror was campy. I'm assuming this was intentional. It reminded me of a 1950s zombie movie. You're shocked at the bad things that are happening, but they're so silly that it's funny too. It's hard not to laugh at a potentially deadly zombie who scream "Eat Brains! Brains, eat!"

Zombies Don't Cry is, on the whole, a fun book. It was a bit silly, but written well enough that I felt connected to the characters and the story. A bookish alternative to the classic zombie movies.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Monday, October 10, 2011

Manga Mondays (71): Sand Chronicles vol. 10 - Hinaki Asihara

Current Giveaway on Alison Can Read 


*Sorry I didn't comment as much as usual on Follow Friday or IMM this weekend. I may not be around too much the next few days. My purse was stolen Saturday night - the thief snatched it when it was sitting two inches away from me and ran off with it. Gone are my driver's license, Social Security Card, all my credit cards and debit card, my iPod, my cell phone, some jewelry, about $1000 of gift cards that I had been saving for something special, and a really nice Michael Kors purse that I saved up for. Now, not only do I have to deal with the horrible feeling of being violated, but I also have to deal with all the crap that comes with losing important documents - new drivers license, new social security card, new bank accounts, new credit cards, making sure that my identity gets stolen, etc. On the bright side, I think I'm going to reward myself with a new iPhone, since my iPod and cell phone are both gone.

Forgive my non-book related rant, but it's nice to just get all this off my chest.


Sand Chronicles vol. 10 - Hinaki Asihara


Summary

Twelve-year-old Ann and her divorced mother move from big city Tokyo to her mother's rural hometown. How will Ann survive her exile from civilization? Then, when her mother commits suicide, Ann has to grow up fast. As the years pass, Ann learns to trust and depend on her new friends--Daigo and aristocratic siblings Fuji and Shika. But when Ann moves back to Tokyo to be with her father, will she be able to maintain a long-distance relationship with Daigo? And do Fuji and Shika harbor romantic feelings of their own that might rip their childhood friendships apart...?

Daigo digs up the time capsule he buried twenty years ago when he was only ten. What message did Daigo leave for his future self? And what does it take to live life fully and without regret?(courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

*Warning: Potential spoilers. My manga reviews tend to be more of a summary than a review. I find it hard to review manga in the same way I do regular books.

The final bonus volume of Sand Chronicles is more like an epilogue than a bonus. It continues the main story. Daigo and Ann are now 30 years old. They're happily married, although I don't think they have kids yet.

As the summary states, Daigo digs up a time capsule. This opens up many memories from the past and also many things to teach his students now. Daigo's teacher at age ten was Mrs. Koda. He admired her greatly - worshiped might be a better word. She believed in him and made him believe in himself. It was fun seeing snippets of Daigo as a ten year old. He was a big cry-baby. Always fighting with Fuji. Mrs. Koda told Daigo and his classmates that the most important thing they could do was to become somebody that they liked - to like themselves.

Daigo is thrilled to meet up with Mrs. Koda again twenty years later to open the time capsule. He still thinks of her as one of the most important people in his life. But Mrs. Koda has a secret. Can Daigo still accept her even if she isn't the perfect person he always envisioned? (Who are we kidding...of course he can).

Daigo imbues Mrs. Koda's strength. He imparts her words and wisdom onto his students. He believes in them and provides them with opportunities to learn and succeed. He is a great teacher.

We also get a few moments with Ann. She's more of an afterthought in this story - thrown in because she's a main character in the rest of the series - but I still liked having her there. We see how she's become an equal to Daigo. Able to stand on her own feet and support him as much as he supports her.

I'm very sad to see Sand Chronicles end. Every volume pulls at your heartstrings. Ashihara knows how to create characters you love and put them into situations that challenge them...and pains the reader to endure. I highly recommend Sand Chronicles.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Feature & Follow Friday #66



Current Giveaway on Alison Can Read






Welcome to Feature & Follow Friday (err Thursday) on Parajunkee.com


If you are new to the #FF fun, Feature & Follow Friday is a blog hop that expands your blog following by a joint effort between bloggers. Feature & Follow Friday is now hosted by TWO hosts, Rachel of Parajunkee and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

*Thanks so much to Rachel for allowing me to be part of the Follow Friday fun. Parajunkee is one of the best blogs out there and FF is a highlight of the blogging community. The FF has been one of my favorite parts of my week for over a year and I'm so excited to help my fellow book bloggers get to know each other better.

How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you! Now to make this #FF interesting we do a FEATURE blogger.

If you are interested in becoming a Feature click on the link here for Follow Friday Feature or go to Parajunkee and click the drop down link above FEATURES > Feature & Follow Friday and get on the waiting list!

It is also required, that if you participate you must follow the hosts (Parajunkee & Alison Can Read) and the two Feature blogs.




Our Feature - A Neverending Fantasy





Hi, I'm Gee. I started blogging in early July 2011 because most of my friends don't read (their version of reading is required school reading and Seventeen magazines) and I wanted to share my opinions as well as make new friends in the blogosphere.

I like to read (obviously), shop till I drop (book-wise and clothes-wise), and just be lazy and eat Hello Panda cookies while reading on my Kindle.

My all time favorite book is THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE by Kate DiCamillo (I hope that's how you spell her name) and recent favorites of mine is THE MEPHISTO COVENANT by Trinity Faegen and The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa. Right now, I'm still deciding whether to read A BEAUTIFUL DARK right now or THE HUNGER GAMES... Hmm. We'll see. ^_^

Q.If you could pick one character in a book, movie or television show to swap places with, who would it be?



Well, we'll start with my obligatory answers:

Harry Potter - I'd love to be Hermione. She's in the center of the action and super smart. I'd skip Ron. I'd rather go for Harry.

Twilight - I'd love to be Bella if it meant being with Edward. I wouldn't want to give birth to a mutant vampire/human baby though. If anything, I'd rather be Alice. I'm in love with handsome, haunted Jasper and I love the idea of being psychic. I wouldn't want to live Alice's pre-Cullen life though - being alone for 30 years is not my cup of tea.

Other characters I'd like to swap places with:

Elizabeth from Pride & Prejudice
Meghan from Iron Fey - I'll take Ash any day!
Clary from The Mortal Instruments - I'll take Jace over Ash!
Anne from Anne of Green Gables
Anna - Etienne will be mine!

As a kid, I would have loved to switch places with Claudia of the Babysitters Club so I could be best friends with Stacy.

Movies:
I'd love to switch places with the girls in my two favorite romance movies - You've Got Mail and The American President.

TV:
Part of me would love to be one of those girls on My Super Sweet 16. Uber rich and spoiled.


Now for the Follow Fun!







RULES To join the fun and make new book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:





  1. (Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
  2. (Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers - We Fancy Books & The Little Book Blog
  3. Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say "hi" in your comments and that they are now following you.
  5. Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "HI"
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love...and the followers
  7. If you're new to the follow friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!








Happy Follow Friday! Follow it up with your twitter address if you want to get that one out!




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