Thursday, June 30, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (15)

Book Blogger Hop

From Sue at Cookie’s Book Club:
What keeps you reading beyond the first few pages of a book, and what makes you want to stop reading a book and put it back on the shelf?

Hmmm... Well, first of all, I have to enjoy the narrative voice. If I'm not connecting to the character(s) or the story at all, I'd definitely be tempted to put it back. So, while I don't need the narrator or character to necessarily be exactly like myself, they at least have to have some similarities, or something inherently interesting that makes me want to read more about them.

Secondly, pacing is a big motivator. If it's been 50-or-so pages and nothing's happening, I'd probably be closer to falling asleep than excited to continue through that book. Of course, that partly depends on the type of book, but on the whole, I need something to have grabbed me by at least page 50 that makes me want to continue.

Thirdly, I have to be able to understand what's happening. Mostly, this means the language has to be at my level (which, I don't think is that hard to accomplish), and I shouldn't be confused by whatever's going on. If I get to chapter 3 and realize everything I thought I knew is wrong, I'm probably going to be frustrated enough to throw the book across the room.

Feel free to post a link to your own blog in the comments,
and be sure to check out other blog-hoppers at Crazy-for-Books!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

This Is How It Shall Be Ever After

This review is for those who have read or are familiar with the previous books in the trilogy, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Dawn of the Dreadfuls, or don't mind knowing some of what happens in them. Dreadfully Ever After, however, will remain spoiler-free.

Disclaimer: This book was provided to me by Eric Smith at Quirk Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Dreadfully Ever After
~Dreadfully Ever After~
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Book 3
By Steve Hockensmith
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

Elizabeth Darcy has everything a woman could ask for: a large estate, a steady income, a husband she loves and who loves her... Then why is it that lately she can't even bring herself to smile?

Not that there's much to smile about with the zombie menace still vexing England. But the lingering threat is made deadly personal when Darcy is bitten by one of the stricken! Despite knowing it is her duty to behead and burn any soul befallen the plague, Lizzy cannot bring herself to kill her beloved. Not if there could be the slightest chance of a cure.

However, to obtain this supposed cure Elizabeth must place everything on the line. Her honor, her pride, and her family hang in the balance... Love is a strong motivator, but will it be enough to save all she holds dear?

The real question is: If Mr. Darcy became infected, would Elizabeth have the fortitude to behead him in time?— (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies)

Apparently, Steve Hockensmith decided that question was well worth answering. In this sequel to the zombie-infested hit, we find Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy four years into their marriage. But while the unmentionables are still roaming the countryside, there's little room for wedded bliss. Especially since, as a married woman, honor and decorum has forced Lizzy to give up the blade.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Zombie In Possession of Brains

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
~Pride and Prejudice and Zombies~
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Book 2
By Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.

So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem.

As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she's soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield. Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry?

Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses,
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you'd actually want to read.*

I'll go ahead and say it now: I am an Austen fan. I wasn't always one, though. I first read Pride and Prejudice in preparation for Senior Year IB English. I HATED it! I was bored to tears—I couldn't get over how many words were used to describe NOTHING. However, by re-reading at a slower pace during the class, I was able to have my brain phase over the unnecessary/frivolous/verbose text and actually process the characters and plot. And I LOVED it. I'm really not one to read fluffy romances, but this wasn't fluffy, it was...interesting! Quite the flip-flop, eh?

Then came the sudden surge of Austen-centered movies. I saw Becoming Jane and Jane Austen Book Club (haven't read the book yet) and fell in love with both. I even resolved to do as they did in the latter and read all of Jane's books. Well, that still hasn't happened, but the resolve is still there and I'll do it one of these days. I did, however, read Northanger Abbey and once again fell in love with Austen's humor and wit.

Shortly after returning home from college, I happened upon an author visit at (where else?) my local Powell's bookstore. I'd never heard of the author, but I was there, it was free, so why not? When Seth Grahame-Smith came to the podium it was to a hearty round of applause—some out of politeness, but most out of excited glee. He told his humorous story of how everything had gotten started, how his editor had called him up with only a title and he'd set off from there, how he went about editing the manuscript with red-colored text, and how no one could have foreseen the book's success. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies had been unleashed upon the world, and the world shouted back, "MORE!"

Having been familiar with the original work, I'll admit I was slightly reluctant to try this new adaptation. I'm not the biggest fan of zombies (or gore in general), and I wasn't exactly sure how zombie hordes roaming the countryside would affect the storyline. Was there really a place for zombies in Austen's world? Then a fellow audience member stood up and walked to the front of the crowd. She announced herself as president of the local branch of The Jane Austen Society and said she was there to present Seth with an official invitation to their next national meeting. Um...color me convinced.

It took a week or two, but I managed to finally grab a copy of the book. I read through it, smirking and laughing all the way through. Now, following my second read of the book, I'm ready to offer up my review.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

In My Mailbox (12) Returns!

In My Mailbox
In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren
(Book covers are linked to their Goodreads pages)

In the Past Two Months I've...

Checked Out
River MarkedHex HallDemonglassTortall and Other LandsThe Girl Who Was On Fire
River Marked ~ Patricia Briggs
Hex Hall & Demonglass ~ Rachel Hawkins
Tortall and Other Lands ~ Tamora Pierce
The Girl Who Was On Fire ~ Various Authors
From My Library

A Wizard of Mars
A Wizard of Mars ~ Diane Duane
From Borders

Ushers, INC.SolidMoon SpellMiss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Ushers, Inc. ~ Rusty Fischer
Solid ~ Shelley Workinger
Moon Spell ~ Samantha Young
From Their Respective Authors
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children ~ Ransom Riggs
From Eric Smith at Quirk Books

And Won
Weathercock ~ Melissa Crandall
From Goodreads First Reads

So, tell me, what's in your mailbox?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Why I Love Book Blogging

Top Ten Tuesday
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

Book Blogging...
I've been a part of this community for approximately 14 months now, and I just can't help but love every minute of it. Okay, there have been some ups and downs associated with it, but overall I wouldn't trade anything for it.

Here are my Top Ten reasons I wouldn't give this up:

10. Sanity
Blogging helps keep me sane. Well, saner, at least. When I took breaks from the blog, I think I actually suffered more than revived. Yes, the blog can get overwhelming (mostly due to my own procrastination) at times, but ultimately it provides an anchor that I can keep coming back to even when everything else is tossed into chaos.

9. Flexibility
As much as I like schedules and having things done "on time", it sure is nice to be able to push things back when life has other plans. There are no rules or regulations when it comes to book blogging, no time limit, no word limit, no speed limit. It's completely flexible with whatever I want and need to happen.

8. No Boss
Somewhat analogous with #9, having no boss means that what I'm doing isn't being judged by anyone. Well, I suppose my follower-count might be somewhat of a judge, but anyone in this business will tell you that subscribers aren't a measurement for anything. With blogging, you're held to a standard that is only your own, which after years of school, competitions, and then low-tier jobs, it's quite liberating.

7. Winning
I'd be lying if I didn't say I loved winning giveaways/contests. I normally don't consider myself very lucky, so on the off-chance that I actually do get my name drawn in a giveaway, it's just exhilarating and brightens my entire day/week. Then there's the second thrill when the package arrives! So much fun!

6. Motivation
Graduating with a degree in "Creative Writing", then moving to the job market where every writing job demands "7 years professional experience" (don't ask me why it's always 7) can certainly get a girl down. But lo and behold: a place where I can practice and improve my trade!
Who could ask for more?

5. Creative Outlet
Not only in writing posts, but also designing layouts, graphics, color schemes, and even post templates, I've got the perfect canvas for all my creative aspects to shine.

4. Recommendations
There are so many books out there, it's nice to get a nudge in the right direction every once in a while. Or even the wrong direction, just to know not to go back.

3. Discussions
I've seen some sites where 'comments' dive straight into the territory of spam and trolls. It's nice to have a place where it's expected to be sincere and cordial but still honest and open with opinions. And where the prompts and responses both are extremely well thought-out, clear, clever,
and 99% typo-free. Please, sir, can I have some more?

2. Doing What I Love
Really, I couldn't ask for anything better than reading a book and writing about it. Even back in 8th grade, I fell in love with writing book reports; I wrote one that was over 10 pages (granted, most of it was the summary of the book, but still). Over the years the 'study' of books became more intense - trying to find themes, comparisons, reasons for, etc, etc. And yet, I still managed to hang on to my initial love of reading, and grew to accept my own opinions on the matter as worthy of statement. I believe that whatever life throws at me, I'll still make time for book blogging.

1. Community
There's so much I could say about the book blogging community, and I still wouldn't even begin to cover it. Reading and writing are both solitary experiences, but having all of us endeavoring to share our experiences with one another... It's more than a book club, or a fan forum... Oh, I don't know how to explain it without sounding completely corny, so I'll just keep it simple. Book blogging has connected me with like-minded people all over the world: whether it be authors I can aspire to, reviewers I can reflect on, or readers I can relate with, I know am not alone. And that's a great feeling.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Dreadfuls Have Returned!

Dawn of the Dreadfuls
~Dawn of the Dreadfuls~
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Book 1
By Steve Hockensmith
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks
Book Trailer

In 19th century England, society dictates that a young lady must be prim and proper. She must know proper etiquette, only speak on appropriate topics, maintain perfect posture at all times, and never ever appear at all like the opposite sex in any way shape or form.

By following these steps, your young lady will not only be the perfect target for a young, rich suitor, but for the approaching zombie horde as well.

Fortunately, Oscar Bennet has other plans for his daughters. Despite Lydia and Kitty's incessant gibbering and complaints, Mary's disinterest, and Jane's timidity, he is going to mold his daughters into warriors capable of defending themselves and all of Hertfordshire if necessary.

For Elizabeth Bennet, the second oldest of the sisters, the way of the warrior is coming surprisingly easily. As her deadly skill and the number of re-animated corpses increase, so too does her certainty that she'll never be fit as a bride. Not that she's seen any viable suitors thus far, but still, the dream of love is never too far from a proper lady's heart.

But can she still be considered a proper lady when her dress is stained with blood and her fingers grip a katana? Does she want to be? Will it even matter after the undead menace re-writes what is proper?

Yes, my friends, this is the beginning to the beginning of it all. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was the original "Monster Mash-up", "Reinvented Classic", or simply "Quirk Classic", that sparked the phenomenon. A year later, Stephen Hockensmith decided to tackle the origins of the Bennet family and their experience with the unmentionables in this prequel, Dawn of the Dreadfuls.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Something To Say

This is a personal post, not a book review. Just going over some things, explaining my current situation, and hopefully setting a tone for the future. If you'd rather stay out of the drama, I understand and assure you that my next review should be coming up later this week. Thank you.

If you're still reading this, I guess I'll just get down to it. I'm sorry for April and May's unannounced/unexplained hiatus. I had a bit of a physical, mental, emotional breakdown in March, and that was taken out on this blog. I'd rather not get into the gory details (and I'm sure no one wants to hear them), but I'll just say that I've started some new treatments that seem to be helping things along.

I'm still depressed. Not really earth-shattering news in this economy, but being jobless really wears you down. Firstly you're depressed because you can't support yourself (or pay back your debt). Then, trying to rectify the situation, you send out job applications only to get absolutely no response or an avalanche of NO's, which only serves to lower your self-esteem. It's gotten to the point that I'm terrified of getting an interview because I feel like the first thing they'll see is a depressed person. And being overly self-conscious and overweight to begin with hasn't helped either. There was a long period of time where I didn't even want to go outside because I was paranoid some future employer would see me and I'd be sabotaging myself.

I still have some of that anxiety, but there have been improvements.

For one thing, my mom (who had also been unemployed for a couple years) finally found a job last week. And while it's not the most ideal pay, the environment is great and she's really enjoyed the work.

Also keeping me busy has been our family's attempts to start up a crafting business. Mom sews, (sister) Kristi knits, and I run all the electronic aspects—taking pictures, photo-editing, website management, research, spreadsheets... I don't plan on inundating this blog with non-bookish stuff, but I might make a post about it once we've got things up and running. In the meantime, you can check out our products on Facebook or DeviantArt.

As far as reading and blogging goes, I'm trying to get back into the swing of things. So far I've only been focusing on reviews—partly clearing out the shelves, partly taking care of promises owed—and I don't know if or when I'll have the time or energy to go back to reading all the blogs I've subscribed to. I'd love to get back in the habit of reading everything you guys are posting, and passing along the great contests and giveaways, but right now I have other things on my plate.

So, for the moment I hope you'll be patient with me. I hope my reviews continue to engage or entertain you. And I hope you all know that I appreciate your continued patience and support. Thank you.