Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bats at the Beach

I’ve seen this book on display through spring and summer months and have always been curious of it. And yet, I’ve always drifted past the book thinking I should pick it up and read it but always having an excuse. Either I was too busy or I was reading something else.

Finally I grabbed the book, enjoying one of our first warm spring days I rejoiced to have something that reminded me of summer. And my goodness what an adorable children’s picture book!!

With a cute rhyming storyline the tale is told of bats going to out for a ‘night’ at the beach. They had moon tan lotion! How adorable is that? But really the story line was second hand to the illustrations which I truly enjoyed. All of the little details of the different bats from babies to older bats.

There was a baby bat with swimmies on for the water- I’m sorry, but that is quite possibly the cutest thing ever.

The story is very reflective of what people usually do when they go to a beach with many of the same activities but, of course, this is a group of bats. So it’s twisted a little bit and made into a more bat-like time filled with lots of bugs to eat. I think it’s a perfect children’s book for little kids who like bats and bugs or maybe just the beach. There are other bat books… that I haven’t read yet. But after enjoying this one I feel that I won’t take so long going off to read the others that I always see on display!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - April 26th

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title; author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Blackwood Farm (The Vampire Chronicles)She had been the grandmother of Aunt Queen, and I always saw a certain likeness in these portraits, in the eyes and the shape of the faces, though others claimed they could not. But then...

Blackwood Farm by Anne Rice

Note: Is it really the end of April already? When I typed in the header, I put "March" in at first.
And hey, check out the Raymond Rose Primer. You can look at it there. Free stuff is always a good thing, isn't it?

Monday, April 25, 2011


The first book in the Angelfire trilogy, this debut novel is pretty lengthy and not something I would have generally gone after in the bookstore. In fact, I had seen the cover of the book and continued moving on with little interest in it. Yes, I judge books by their covers and typically I’m a good judge. However, I must admit that this time I was wrong.

I’m sure the concept of ‘reapers’ is more popular than I think. The theme of angels is certainly something that has caught the interest of young adult readers in the past year, bumping vampires only slightly out of the limelight. The love that is forbidden is a HUGE theme and a great way to grab a teenager’s attention.

Ellie, the main character and voice of this book, isn’t necessarily your loner that you see in most YA books as of late. She isn’t exactly ‘popular’ either, but she’s rich and has a group of friends, not the best student in school, but she is generally a nice girl who tries her best with life. She’s a likeable character who doesn’t hold much back and isn’t very whiney despite the situations she finds herself in.

Enter Will. Will is incredibly gorgeous, mysterious, and kind of following Ellie around. Typical of a YA book, right? Well, aside from a few moments where the interaction between Will and Ellie made me think of other YA books, I really enjoyed this pair because they find a way to separate themselves from the other YA couples that are out there. Will has been following Ellie around for a long time… like, hundreds of years. He is Ellie’s guardian and she is the reincarnation of ‘something’. Her job? To fight and kill evil reapers. Think of the Grim Reaper… ‘cept there are different breeds of ‘reapers’ and they’re all equally frightening and mean. Well, aside from the nice ones, but that’s a whole other story. For thousands of years Ellie has been reincarnated and grown as a mortal with extraordinary powers that allow her to go up against these creatures and for about 500 years Will has been by her side. Unlike Ellie, Will is more or less immortal.

Not to my surprise the characters are in love with one another. Well, ok so I lie. I was totally hoping they’d fall in love with one another. While having a slow moment at work I sat down the book and proclaimed to my coworker, “When are these two going to kiss?? They need to kiss already!” But their love, and this is what reminds me of other YA books, is forbidden. Unlike the other books on the market the characters in Angelfire seem to stick to their morals and promises a little more. I love the character Will because he doesn’t turn into a big bag of squish due to his feelings. He keeps his head in the game, is tough as hell, and is hard to be swayed. Despite his tough exterior he has some faults but he remains forever truthful and committed to his mission.

I enjoy that Ellie was both a typical teenage girl and also this mysterious being. Her memory of her past lives came back slowly although her fighting abilities almost came naturally. Her confusion, denial, and eventual acceptance of all of this is, in my opinion, accurate of how a teenage girl (or anyone for that matter) would generally take such ‘news’.

Of course, this is the first book in the trilogy so there are a lot of questions left unanswered. It’s unnerving for me, I hate cliffhangers, but I suppose it’s somewhat needed in a book that has two follow-ups. If you’re interested in discovering more about the world of the Grim, where the reapers come from and a place that all the former Ellie’s knew so well, go to your local bookstore. The book is out in full force and you’ll be able to find it easily. If I understand it correctly, the following two books will be published once a year. The second book, Wings of the Wicked, will be out next year followed by Hymn of the Fallen to be published during 2013

Angelfire (Angelfire - Trilogy)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Shakespeare!

Today is the 447th birthday of Shakespeare! He also died on this date... but we'll focus on his birthday. It's also Talk Like Shakespeare day but I'm going to save you all from the embarrassment of my talking like Shakespeare. It's bad. You're better off not hearing it.

Shakespeare and I at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire

I love Shakespeare and I fully intend on celebrating the day by squeezing in a little bit of reading time of one of his plays. I've read a ton of his work and all of his prose but... as I was looking over a list of his work and checking off what I've read, I realize I can't remember half of the titles. How sad is that? Doesn't really count as 'works I've read' in my opinion. So with that I've decided to reread all of his plays.

One of my bucket list goals is to have read every work of Edgar Allan Poe and Shakespeare, might as well get going. So I am going to curl up with my Shakespeare coffee cup and start reading! Oh, you haven't seen my Shakespeare cup spam yet? Allow me:

It was a gift from a friend and I still squeal over it.

If you're interested in talking like Shakespeare, please visit this site for general amusement and information. 
If you're interested in getting your own Shakespeare cup check out the insult cup (the one I own), the romance cup, and the smutty one.

None the less, Happy Birthday Shakespeare!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Blog Hop- April 22nd

Blog Hop:
Book Blogger Hop

This Weeks Question:
"If you find a book you love, do you hunt down other books by the same author?"

Most definitely. It's always a hit or miss, of course. One book I might love by an author might mean nothing in the grande scheme of things. I might just have loved the subject manner or the characters in that particular book and come to find that the other books, by the same author, have very little hold on me. But I always will scope out more books by an author whom I enjoy and give it a try. I just finished reading Mario Puzo's The Family and loved it. I've never read any of his other books but now, I think I might. I might check out The Godfather and his other novels because I enjoyed the flowing writing style that Puzo wrote in. Will I enjoy the subject manner? I don't know. I'm not big on crime books. However, The Family certainly had enough anger and crime and yet I loved every page. So we'll see!

General Update:
I've been busy working and reading. I have a backlog of books to read and I'm trying to keep up with the stack so that I may get at least two book reviews up a week. Wish me luck, because I'm falling a little behind.

If you're celebrating the holiday(s) that are going on this week(end), I hope you have a nice time. If you aren't celebrating anything- just enjoy the time off!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

All Just Glass

Shattered Mirror, published a number of years ago, followed twin vampires (Nikolas and Kristopher), their sister, and their ties to a witch and trained vampire killer Sarah. One of the many books I enjoyed reading during High School long before vampire fiction for teens was a mainstream event I really enjoyed that book. Although, now when I read it I see the simplicity of it due to it’s writing style but what is most fascinating is that the author was only a teenager herself. Amelia Atwater-Rhodes is, to my knowledge, a few years older than myself. She’s been a published author since she was fourteen and I’ve loved every one of her vampire books. This author has ultimately grown up as she’s written her books and I feel that this novel, All Just Glass (a follow up to Shattered Mirror) truly displays her maturing writing style. There is something interesting in reading Amelia Atwater-Rhodes books compared to some other authors. Many authors start being published as adults, their writing styles might not change very much or ‘mature’, however with this particular author you are seeing the writings of a fourteen year old girl and how they change as she gets older.

When I originally read Shattered Mirror I appreciated how strong of a character Sarah was and I’m always a sap for any type of a vampire who is even remotely mysterious (the twins, in these two books). Spoilers, if you haven’t read Shattered Mirror, go do it right now before you continue reading!

Sarah Vida is no longer the witch she was, she’s been made into a vampire with the intention that if she can make the choice between living as the leech that she once hunted or take her own life. She may not have to make the decision herself because her mother proclaims that the witch families must get together and fight to kill Sarah and ‘free’ her of the life she was forced into. Once again, we’re faced with the decision- do you stay faithful to the wishes of your family or not?

Sarah is still as brave as ever and even more so because she fights the urges of a newborn vampire. Nikolas, who was kind of a jerk in the last novel, has a softer side in this one and I’ve grown to like him even more while Kristopher seems a little more weak- but not obnoxiously so. I appreciate that in this book Sarah isn’t in love with anyone. She doesn’t fall head over heels in love with the twin brothers and her ultimate decision of whether or not she wants to continue on living has nothing to do with her feelings towards these boys. It’s refreshing to read a vampire fiction book where the characters aren’t throwing their lives away in the name of being with a brooding vampire.

I really enjoy this authors books. Every time I see she has one of her vampire books coming out I eagerly await then read the book as quickly as I can and I’m never left feeling disappointed. They’re enjoyable quick reads that always leave me wanting more when I’ve closed the book (or turned off the Kindle, in this case). I think that means something- if I finish a book and can’t immediately hop into another one. When I finish it and I linger over what I had just read. That quiet moment where I sit there gripping the book and thinking of the characters, consider what happened to them, wonder if I want to find out or if I’m content for the mystery the end of books give.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Love Your World

Another environment-friendly children's book to help instruct your little one the benefit of recycling and taking care of the earth. This is a great guide for children who would like to live green (well, more like their parents might want them to live green).

The book goes through much more than Choose to Recycle with project ideas and a check off list for parents to use as your child achieves each 'green living' point and a nice little 'super green start' award for the child at the end of the book.

I don't know about you, but as a kid if I could receive any type of a pat on the back for a job well done then I wanted to do the work even more.

Some of the project ideas and general life lessons include how to make a little garden, what to recycle, not to litter, how to conserve energy, reusing objects for something else (old socks => sock puppets), even suggesting taking vacations close to home so that you don't have to depend on cars, trains, and planes as much.

Sort of heavy stuff for little kids but I'm a firm believer that children will grasp the concepts, even if they might not fully understand the benefits to 'living green', it's great that so many books are becoming available to teach children at an early age that protecting the environment is good. Maybe, if more children begin doing this at a young age and continue with this through their lives there will be a more positive effect on the environment than the past generations have had. One can hope.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Easter Egg

I am such a fan of Jan Brett. No matter her book, no matter if I'm interested in the story (which has yet to happen, but I'm just saying...), I adore the artwork. I can't say enough positive things about the beautiful illustrations of Jan Brett books. Every one of them is detailed with such skill and beauty in a world where most children's books are filled with simplistic designs.

The tale is about Hoppi the bunny who is, at first, determined to make the most creative and beautiful Easter Egg out of all the bunnies. He goes from bunny to bunny and looks at their designs, marveling in all, and his helpful friends offer him tools so that he may try his hand at creating a wonderful Easter Egg as well. The bunny who creates the most perfect Easter Egg will be able to go with the Easter Bunny to hide eggs for Easter morning.

Along his travels he meets with a Robin who is panicking because one of her eggs fell from her nest. Hoppi decides, rather than make an Easter Egg, he will try and protect the robin's egg. His selflessness involves sitting through rain and sun and protecting the egg through the dark and frightening night.

Ultimately, Hoppi is praised for his good heart and bravery in the end but you'll have to read the book to see what I mean.

A cute spring time book filled with, as mentioned, beautiful illustrations that detail much of what is seen during the early spring months. From the browned grass to the pussy willow blooms, Jan Brett details all the beauty of spring right down to the smallest detail. I mean, Hoppi has little acorn bed knobs in his room! How adorable is that?

This is a cute addition to any spring time book collections and a nice gift for Easter morning. There isn't any reference to Christian beliefs in it, for those wondering. Go to your local bookstore and check out this adorable children's book.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Midnight

Let me tell you right now: I was infuriated for two days after finishing Midnight. When I had initially finished it I sat in my reading chair, staring at my Kindle, then quickly flipped to the very end of the book before continuing to stare in simple disbelief. I then proceeded to complain to a friend through text messages and stomp around my house. The next day I continued to complain to my coworkers and I’m complaining now. This review is filled with spoilers. Ridiculous spoilers that will make you upset or relieved, depending on what characters you like, and if you enjoy the show or the books I might stop reading this right now.

If you are curious and just can’t bear to ignore what I have to say, then please, read on.

Now I’ve fallen completely in love with The Vampire Diaries tv show and while the books are great entertainment, something I would label as a ‘beach read’ (as in you don’t have to pay full attention to get the plot and can put it down then pick it up again without forgetting where you were), they are just that- entertainment. Considering the series was first published in the early 1990’s LJ Smith’s writing style hasn’t really improved or matured over the past twenty years. Maybe that was intentional, seeing that the books are meant to be from the prospective of teenagers, however there is one very large issue I had with this book.

I told you there would be ridiculous spoilers in this post so let’s get straight to the point: Damon dies. Damon, my favorite character in the books aside from Meredith, dies. I had accidentally found spoilers before the book was released proclaiming this and I was hoping they were just lies… don’t kill my favorite character. I never react well to the death of characters I love. Well, sure enough, he dies. And I didn’t enjoy how he died. It was a quick and rushed action for him to be essentially killed but his actual death was long winded and, excuse the pun, but complete overkill. All of this beside the fact that I was going “NO. NO. NO.” in my room while I read of his death. So, ok, I learned to deal with his death and moved on reading the book and how our Team Vampire Diaries saved their town and everyone lived (except Damon) but I was in a bad mood after that.

Bonnie, hush, you’re too skittish and drive me up a wall. I think I would have a love/hate relationship with a person who acted remotely like her. Elena bothers me in the books, she’s too needy yet is ‘known’ for being headstrong. One minute she is making clear demands and the next she’s being handled like a child. Stefan is weak, so much weaker than the character in the show. He’s completely whipped by Elena, whatever she says goes and he doesn’t seem to question it… ever. I think that’s what I enjoyed about Damon, he would sometimes buckle under Elena’s commands but generally did his own thing.

But what made me so incensed was that after this huge plot, all of these dramatics that have sprawled out over the past few books, the essential ‘bad guys’ just kind of disappeared with little fight. As if Smith would rather concentrate on the slow moving relationships of the good guys and didn’t want to deal with the ‘bad’ guys anymore she just brushed them aside and made them go away as quickly as possible. And then… on then… the end. The last chapter which is basically just one page and alludes to Damon not being dead but suddenly being brought back to life… yet not knowing who he is.

I flipped. I was shaking my Kindle back and forth in my hand going, “YOU CAN’T JUST BRING HIM BACK TO LIFE THEN END THE SERIES. YOU CAN’T DO THAT. WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM? HE’S NOT EVEN ON EARTH. HE DOESN’T KNOW WHO HE IS. HOW IS HE SUPPOSED TO GET BACK? IF HE DOES WHAT HAPPENS TO ELENA AND STEFANS RELATIONSHIP? WHAT IS GOING ON? I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS.” Capslocks and all, I was very upset. Like I said, I don’t react very well to characters I like being killed off. You’d think I would be pleased he was brought back to life, which I am, I love my Damon, but you can’t bring him back to life in a page and a half then just have it end. No. It can’t work like that!

So. If you have been reading The Vampire Diaries please go read this book because it does wrap up the series and it is the last written by LJ Smith. Where the series is going to go after this, I don’t know. The information about it all is awfully confusing because it appears that Alloy Entertainment owns the rights for Vampire Diaries and not the author herself? I’m not sure. I can understand LJ Smith wanting to wrap things up if she will no longer be ‘allowed’ to write these books but I just wish she did it a little different and the ending wasn’t so blunt and left me with so many questions. Is her writing fantastic? No, I’ve read better fiction than this. However, I appreciate the concept, I enjoy some of the characters, and I can’t say anything too negative about Smith because these books have served as a form of entertainment for a few years now. If I hated them, I could have stopped reading the series, but I didn’t because I had an emotional tie to these characters. I wanted to know what happened to them and see where their lives went. To me, that makes the writing good enough. Pertaining to style and the rights and wrongs of writing a novel, well, that’s a whole other argument that I don’t feel like getting into right now.

If you’re interested in more news about LJ Smith being ‘fired’ from The Vampire Diaries please refer to this link. Don’t boycott the books or tv show though. I love the show, it’s always keeping me on the edge of my seat.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Madeline at the White House

I grew up reading Madeline and I adored watching the animations of the story book character. Even now when I see Madeline books displayed in stores I feel a warm fuzzy feeling that's reminiscent of reading books as a child. Madeline at the White House was published at the end of January and filled with the highlights of America's capitol.

The book features an assortment of different important locations in DC. Arlington National Cemetery, the White House (obviously), the Washington Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and so many more. Madeline and the little girls come from France as a special gift of sorts for the President's daughter, Miss Penelope (Candle) Randall. Her father is far too busy and her mother is away but to keep her from being lonely she has the little girls from the house covered in vines to keep her company.

They have a ton of fun, but, Candle is upset that she can't go out and actually see DC. She's kept in the White House and still has yet to see the city itself. But Madeline's rabbit magician friend (who decided to slip into the girls suitcases) uses his magical powers to bring forth a cherry blossom tide that carries the girls through a tour of Washington DC on the last night that Madeline is there.

Cherry Blossoms and Washington DC kind of go hand in hand so I enjoyed that particular touch to the story. It's a cute little book for any Madeline enthusiast but also displays many of the tourist attractions that Washington DC (one of my favorite cities) has to hold.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Teaser Tuesday- March 5th

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title; author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Angelfire (Angelfire - Trilogy)
He gave me a quick nod and turned away, disappearing. I shook my head in disbelief.
Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Monday, April 4, 2011

Blood and Gold

Ah, Marius de Romanus. During the course of The Vampire Chronicles we have heard of Marius over and over again. He’s an important figure and near and dear to many characters. He tells his story to Lestat and much of Armand’s own story is about Marius. He cares for Those Who Must Be Kept, we know this from the previous Vampire Chronicles, and he’s a prominent role in Queen of the Damned. Pandora’s book follows much of her relationship with Marius as well. All of this news and stories of this character and yet it took so long for Marius’ own book to be developed.

So. Marius. You’re not necessarily my most favorite character. I don’t really know why I disliked him so much when I first read the Vampire Chronicles and even now as I’ve been reading through the Chronicles again I was like “Sigh, here we go, Marius’ book is next.” And yet… AND YET… reading Blood and Gold this time around (the second time I ever read it since it was first published when I was in High School) I really grew to like Marius.

He is an intelligent, headstrong type of character. He’s totally someone you already know, that stubborn person who wants everything to go his way and tries very hard to make things good and yet somehow or other, manages to mess everything up in the process. He’s a scholar and forever looking for something. Whether it’s happiness, looking to keep his loved ones safe, looking to keep Those Who Must Be Kept safe.

I’m sure I’ve blabbered about this before but the thing that fascinates me about vampires - no, not vampires - the idea of being immortal sounds so fantastic to me because I am a complete nerd. Live forever and see history be made? Ok! Meet worlds of people and watch as they pass into legend? Yes, please. Travel the world? Learn every language? Read every book? Oh my goodness, it sounds like the best thing ever. All of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicle books hint at such an existence but, aside from Pandora, Marius’ book really displays the changing of time as this character, (who is over 2,000 years old) exists through the growing and downfall of many a nation. I love it; it’s fascinating to read.

One thing that bothers me about Anne Rice’s books is that she brings so many characters into her stories that you never hear from again. This is a personal issue that a few of my friends will understand but darn it, I want to know what happens to these characters who appear to be so interesting and yet as soon as they leave the characters life there is little mention of them.

The vampires of the original Theatre des Vampires? What happened to them? Laurent, one of it’s members, is brought up in the book Queen of the Damned but only to display his death, the same goes for another of the male members. But what about the women? Eleni? She was featured so much more than Laurent and yet there was never a mention of her after the 2nd novel in the Chronicles. Now in Blood and Gold, there are so many characters that are mentioned and then forgotten. Avicus, Zenobia, Arjun, and Bianca where did these vampires go? Anne Rice, I want to know what happened to these awesome characters!

But, I can’t hate that she brought these characters in. Marius is so head strong and kind of a jerk at times, he wants things to go his way, he wants a sense of control, he wants to be the teacher in the situation and that doesn’t always pan out for him. And yet, you see his more gentle side with weaker more innocent characters. He has an outpouring of love for Avicus and Zenobia, two characters he comes in contact with.

All of this, his history filled with travel, love and loss, and the protection of Those Who Must Be Kept, and Marius tells it freely to a vampire named Thorne who has just woken from a long sleep with the intention of finding his maker and causing her great harm.

The relationship between Marius and the modern day is interesting as well. He sounds so regal, so mature in many ways, and yet when he sets loose to mingle with mortals and feed beside Thorne he sounds like he could appear to be any man at a club or bar. I appreciate that change in character because through all of the other books I saw Marius as this figure that was untouchable and complete separated from humans. It’s nice to see him associate with them.

The book has a lot of historical references, whether or not they’re accurate I don’t know, but I enjoyed traveling through time with this man. This character that you have forever heard of and associated with in one way or another but never had too much alone time with. The book goes from thousands of years before and brings you up to date to a more present time where Those Who Must Be Kept are no longer alive and there is a new reigning sovereign.

I have to say I enjoyed this book so much more than I did as a young High School student. I don’t know, maybe I appreciate the sense of time a little more than I did at the earlier age. Isn’t that what I’ve been discovering though? It’s all tied in with time. I read these books at such a young age, whether it’s The Vampire Chronicles or some other book, and I reread them at my age now- ten years or so having passed by- and I’m forever surprised at how much my opinion has changed. It’s the magic of literature and sort of proof of how powerful aging can be. It can alter your opinion, through life lessons or simply education, things change. I’ve been repeating this over and over again with each Vampire Chronicle that I read but I can’t say it enough because it amazes me each and every time.

Now I only have two books left to read of The Vampire Chronicles before I’ve fully read the series over again (it’s been nearly two years that I’ve been going through these books). We’ll see what my impression is of those upcoming books.

But here is the point of Blood and Gold. Marius is fascinating and this book travels through 2,000 years. The bonds he creates and breaks are worth the read and seeing that he is so often mentioned in the previous Vampire Chronicles the book is a must read just for those who are traveling through the series.

Oh, and PS: believe nothing that the horrible movie Queen of the Damned tells you about Marius. Just. Don't do it.