Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Review: Carpe Corpus by Rachel Caine

Carpe Corpus (Morganville Vampires, Book 6)Book Details:
Carpe Corpus (Morganville Vampires, Book 6)
By Rachel Caine
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published June 2009, Penguin Group
Paperback, 241 pages
ISBN: 9780451227195


In the small college town of Morganville, vampires and humans lived in (relative) peace-until all the rules got rewritten when the evil vampire Bishop arrived, looking for the lost book of vampire secrets. He's kept a death grip on the town ever since. Now an underground resistance is brewing, and in order to contain it, Bishop must go to even greater lengths. He vows to obliterate the town and all its inhabitants-the living and the undead. Claire Danvers and her friends are the only ones who stand in his way. But even if they defeat Bishop, will the vampires ever be content to go back to the old rules, after having such a taste of power?
These book just keep getting better and better. With book six, the series ventures into the world of steampunk with a special Morganville twist. With the very little I have actually read in the genre of Steampunk, I had a hard time visualizing what Ada looks like, but I am hoping these eventually become movies and someone creates this fascinating machine for the movies! Ada's quirkiness and creepiness fit right in with the rest of the Morganville residents, though, so I know that she/it will grow on me, too.
With this book, it is also a relief that Claire has finally turned seventeen. The build-up between her and Shane was driving me crazy. I also like how the author was much more realistic about her first time with Shane than many romance novelists, with much awkwardness and naivety. Her parents' response to the knowledge of this was quite humorous and charming and lent some much-needed humor to the extent of fear with which Morganville is saturated.
Even though these books have much fantasy, they still move along with a certain believability. The one major exception that I found in this book - that I simply had a hard time believing possible - was when Claire almost dies at the end. With the amount of blood loss she suffered from, there is simply no way she could stay conscious for the amount of that she did or stay alive as she did. When books are as entertaining as these are though, I don't mind a little "writer's license" to keep the main character alive and resolve the loose thread of who is responsible for the random murders of girls in the previous books. I am surprised, though, that Claire never made the connection to who Dean is, since I saw it coming quite easily.
Mynin gets more and more entertaining and fascinating from book to book - he is probably one of my favorite characters for his unpredictability. I am thrilled that the disease can no longer get the best of him - it means he could play a more central role in future books. Many of the characters are easy to like, even if their morals often verge into gray area, such as Amelie.
Even though the "book" has suffered its final demise, the bookworm in me still wonders what else was in that book, so I hope future books can tell me more about it.

The Cover: My guess is that the bracelet-covered arm is supposed to represent the magical hold that Bishop has on Claire, but it's a really poor excuse for what is supposed to look like a moving tattoo. I haven't got a clue what the statue in the background has to do with anything.

First Line: "Happy Birthday, honey!"
This one line says it all. Finally, six books into the series Claire gets to turn 17 and be recognized as an adult according to state law. It's about time!
Favorite Quote: "I have way too many bosses."

Read For: Pages Read Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge, Speculative Fiction Challenge

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Review: The ElvenBane by Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey

The Elvenbane (Halfblood Chronicles, Bk. 1)Book Details:
The Elvenbane (Halfblood Chronicles, Bk. 1)
By Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey
Genre: Fantasy
Published 1991, Tor
Paperback, 566 pages
ISBN: 0812511751


Two masters of epic fantasy have combined in this brilliant collaboration to create a rousing tale of the sort that becomes an instant favorite. This is the story of Shana, a halfbreed born of the forbidden union of an Elvenlord father and a human mother. Her exiled mother dead, she was rescued and raised by dragons, a proud, ancient race who existed unbeknownst to elven or humankind. From birth, Shana was the embodiment of the Prophecy that the all-powerful Elvenlords feared. Her destiny is the enthralling adventure of a lifetime.
The world that the writing team of Norton and Lackey crafts is quite fascinating in its detail and description. The timeline and history of this world seems to place it sort of after the end of our present world, as a kind of post-apocalypse in which first the dragons found and then the elves, with the latter taking over and enslaving the remaining humans. I found the passage of time to be bothersome at times, since the authors seem to almost skip over the climaxes in favor of just relaying the information through the memories of the characters after the fact. More than once, I wished the writers could have written out this passage of time so that I can actually experience it as it happens.
The characters were all well-developed and unique, as the size of the book allowed the writers to spend lots of time focusing on a single character, even if his or her purpose seemed to end rather abruptly with death, such as Shana's mother, Serina Daeth. Normally, I have no trouble picking characters that I favored over the others, but with this book, no character seemed to jump out at me as so much better than the others, even the main character Shana, who seemed to lack in maturity as much as a pre-teen, with how she behaves around some of the other characters.
There were several over-arching themes in the book, such as the need for change, the call for justice, and how every rule has exceptions.  Shana especially seemed to find the latter annoying as she continually found that what she was taught about elves, humans, or dragons was not always true. Even though the legend of the Elvenbane is merely a tall tale crafted by the dragons to stir up trouble with the elves and humans, Shana falls into the role by accident simply because of a dragon's kindness. Ironically, her up-bringing gives her the perfect personality for playing that role, as the main goal of this book was to put her in the perfect position to fill this role for the next book in the series, Elvenblood (Halfblood Chronicles).

The Cover: The cover shows Shana, wearing her dragon-skin clothing, with the dragon Keman and a desert background. Since Shana assumes the role of the Elvenbane that the Dragons liked to spread among the elves and humans, it certainly fits to have her on the cover.

First Line: "Serina Daeth. I am -- Serina Daeth. Serina clung to her name as the only thing she was still certain of, the only thing the sun could not burn away from her."

Favorite Quote: "Not an outcast; a forerunner. That's not so bad a thing to be."

Read For: Pages Read Challenge, Twenty-Ten Challenge, Speculative Fiction Challenge

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: The Fledgling Handbook 101

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:
The Fledgling Handbook 101 (House of Night)
by P. C. Cast and Kim Doner
Publication Date: October 26, 2010
"Merry meet, fledgling. Welcome to a new life, a new world, and a new you. Welcome to the House of Night!
This might seem like a scary time, Fledgling, but never fear! As you start your journey through the ancient halls of the House of Night, this indispensable handbook will aid you in your transition from human to fledgling. Within these pages you will find invaluable information about the history of vampyres. You will also come to a better understanding of your body’s transformation, as well as read words of hope from great vampyres of the past and learn essential foundations of rituals and lore. Now, Fledgling, read on. A new life awaits you; your path to that magickal future begins here!"

 What book release are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Winner, an Update, and a Video

For the latest CSN Stores Gift Certificate Giveaway, I had a total of 16 entries. With the help of random.org, I selected a winner, which is:

#1: Autumn!

A representative of CSN Stores will be contacting you by email with the code for your gift certificate to CSNStores.com, so keep an eye on your inbox for the email!

There has also been a follow-up article in the News-Leader out of Springfield, MO regarding the actions of a certain Dr. Scroggins. Here is my original post on the topic. In my opinion, they really should have made mention of the probably hundreds of bloggers protesting the book bannings.

I also came across a cool video that sums this mess up quite nicely.

Teaser Tuesday: Carpe Corpus by Rachel Caine

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read.
2. Open to a random page.
3. Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
4. 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!).
5. Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:
Carpe Corpus (Morganville Vampires, Book 6)
Everywhere, there was a feeling that the town was holding its breath, closing its eyes, trying to wish away its problems. The few people Claire saw trying to go about their normal lives seemed either jumpy and distracted, or as if they were putting on some false smile and happy face. It was creepy, and she felt a little bit relieved when she passed the gates of the university -- open, like it was a regular sort of day -- and fell in with the crowds of young people moving around the campus. - pg. 77, Carpe Corpus (Morganville Vampires, Book 6) by Rachel Caine

What are you reading this week?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Not Another Book Banning

So there is a piece of news that has been lighting up the book blogging community about a Dr. Wesley Scroggins, a professor of business at Missouri State University, in Rupublic, Missouri, who is pushing to ban several YA books, amongst other actions. I was hesitant to jump on the bandwagon until I had read the articles first-hand, which not every book blogger is so eager to provide. Here is what I did find: the article written by Dr. Scroggins and the public complaint he submitted to the Republic School Board. While the typical reaction to this news story is one born of emotionalism, I would like to understand his motivation for wanting these things. As I read all 29 pages of the public complaint, I quickly noticed that Dr. Scroggins is obviously a very conservative Christian who's complaints about "democracy vs. republic" and the truth about "separation of church and state" are valid arguments that are gaining ground with many others in the United States. Unfortunately, he is not wrong regarding the state of textbooks in the United States, as the entire selection process for textbooks across all states results in students using textbooks rife with inaccuracies and problems. The process is ruled by politics and money, but I'm getting off topic here. But then he changes abruptly to attacking specific books and movies from a position of moral high ground. I quote:
"The High School English I (and possibly English II) curriculum contains materials that are immoral, offensive, and vulgar. “Slaughterhouse Five” is required reading in either the English I or English II course. It contains very vulgar language throughout the book and covers topics such as sex outside of marriage and homosexuality. See pages 12‐15 in the appendix for excerpts from the book.
In the English I course, students are required to read the book “Speak” and also watch the movie. “Speak” also contains much offensive material, including two rape scenes,drunken teenage parties, and teenage pre‐marital sex. See pages 16‐21 in the appendix for excerpts from the book.
Books such as “Twenty Boy Summer” are also listed as recommended reading on the Republic School library website. This book glorifies drunken teenage parties and teen pre‐marital sex. See pages 22‐27 for excerpts from the book.
Children in these classes and others are also exposed to R‐rated movies. In English class, children watch “The Breakfast Club.” In other classes such as history, they watch “Saving Private Ryan.” Both these movies and others like them have offensive (and violent) content that justifies the R rating. It is interesting to note that while these children are not old enough to go to the movie theatre and see these movies, they are exposed to them at school by the teachers in the district.
Requiring children to be exposed to this content at school is immoral. It is an abomination to God to expose children to this material and this content will never be part of a moral education. It is difficult to understand how a school board and school administration that claims to be Christian and profess Jesus Christ can expose children to such immoral and vulgar material."And then he follows with attacking the Sex Education program, as well as the Science program regarding the teaching of evolution. While I have opinions on these topics, I won't address them now. The rest of the formal complaint is merely the work of a good copy machine, as he included excerpts from the books and textbooks he addressed in the previous pages.
As for the books and movies he discusses, my question is do these same classes also read older classics that used to be quite commonplace in the classroom, such as The Scarlet Letter and William Golding's Lord of the Flies, both of which address the scandalous topics of premarital sex and cannibalism? Or how about a book I will never forget for it's explicitly graphic murder scene, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison? The use of profanity is also not a new fad in literature, as classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary Edition, Of Mice and Men (Steinbeck Centennial Edition), and Native Son contain it. (The list goes on and on, just check out this ALA site.)
As for the movies the teachers are showing students, I understand why - that's simply to interest the students in the material they are studying out of the textbooks. Hollywood wouldn't be making millions if it wasn't effective, afterall. That was common when I was in high school, too. I specifically remember a dubbed foreign film my 12th grade World History teacher made us watch that contained a scene in which a naked German homosexual Nazi is chasing another heterosexual Nazi, also naked, around a barn for the obvious goal of "you-know-what," which by the way, was also explicitly shown. The teacher claimed he didn't know that scene was in there, and tried to fast-forward it, but too little, too late. Did that scene suddenly turn me homosexual, or some porn addict, or whatever? No, of course not. I was a conservative Christian then, and I still am today.
Slaughterhouse-Five: A NovelNow on to the books. As conservative as I believe that I am, I draw the line at banning books. The first book addressed is Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel by Kurt Vonnegut.
From Amazon: "Slaughterhouse-Five is one of the world's great anti-war books. Centering on the infamous fire-bombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim's odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we are afraid to know." 
Vulgar language and explicit sexuality? So did Shakespeare.
Speak: 10th Anniversary EditionThe second book is Speak: 10th Anniversary Edition by Laurie Halse Anderson, which by the way bears the sticker of National Book Award Finalist.
From Amazon: "Laurie Halse Anderson’s award-winning, highly acclaimed, and controversial novel about a teenager who chooses not to speak rather than to give voice to what really happened to her marks ten years in print with this special anniversary edition." Dr. Scroggins writes in his news article "This is a book about a very dysfunctional family. Schoolteachers are losers, adults are losers and the cheerleading squad scores more than the football team. They have sex on Saturday night and then are goddesses at church on Sunday morning. The cheer squad also gets their group-rate abortions at prom time. As the main character in the book is alone with a boy who is touching her female parts, she makes the statement that this is what high school is supposed to feel like. The boy then rapes her on the next page." 
Even though several book bloggers claimed that he described the rape specifically as "soft pornography," I do not see evidence of that in either the article or the complaint. In fact, he seems to almost gloss over the fact that the book is centered around the rape, as the title should make that obvious. Know what other book contains rape? The Bible, of course.
Twenty Boy SummerThe third book is Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler.
From Amazon: "Don't worry, Anna. I'll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it."

"Promise me? Promise you won't say anything?"
"Don't worry." I laughed. "It's our secret, right?"
According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in ZanzibarBay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there's a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there's something she hasn't told Frankie---she's already had that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie's older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.
Beautifully written and emotionally honest, this is a debut novel that explores what it truly means to love someone and what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer.
It is also clear with Dr. Scroggin's description of this book that he did not "get" the message of the book, which leads me to believe that he did not read these books cover to cover, but merely skimmed them to find something to hate. I have to wonder if he has children in the school system that brought these books to his attention. In my opinion, a person has no business judging a book if he refuses to read it. And secondly,  if he has children in the school system, he should be doing his job as a parent and teaching his children the right morals, as well as allowing every other parent to do their job as well. If he doesn't like the public school system they are in, he is welcome to take them out of it and home-school or send them to a private school that possesses a curriculum that he approves of. By the time children are teenagers, they should have a strong enough moral background from their primary educaters - the Parents - to be able to distinguish for themselves what is right and wrong in a book or movie and respond to it appropriately. The primary educater should always be the children's legal guardians, the public school systems should follow the guidance of the parents - and if the parent of every other child in the school system has no issue with their children reading these books, then obviously he needs to take responsibility for what his own parental skills are lacking and stop blaming someone else. It is not the job of the public school system to teach morals, but that of the parents.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

28 Can Be Great

It's my birthday today! So that exclamation point was a tiny bit forced, as it freaks me out just a *pinch* that I am 28 today. Afterall, I can count and I know what comes next... 29.... 30.... aaaand I think that is about the time many start fibbing about their age. While I have no intention of ever lying about my age (um, maybe), I don't want to be freaked out about it, either, so I'm going to find as many things as possible that are good about the number 28. So here is 28 cool things about the number 28!

1.The lunar month is about 28 days.
2. The average human menstrual cycle is 28 days although no link has been established with the nightlighting and the Moon.
3. The Gregorian calendar follows a 28-year cycle for the most part.
4. In Gematriya, the system of Hebrew Numerology, the number 28 corresponds to the word koakh, meaning "power", "energy".
5. February has 28 days, except in leap years.
6. 28 B.C. was the year of the earliest recorded sunspot by Chinese astronomers.
7. 28 is the number of dominoes in standard domino sets.
8. The number of letters in the Danish and Swedish alphabets (not counting W), and also in the Arabic and Esperanto alphabets.
9. 28 is the fourth magic number in physics.
10. National Science Day is celebrated in India on February 28 every year to mark the discovery of Raman effect by C.V. Raman.
11. In 1928, the last section (wise – wyze) of the original Oxford English Dictionary is completed and ready for publication (OED (1933, 1978 vol. 1, pp. xxv, xxvl).
12. On September 28, 1928, Alexander Fleming discovers Penicillin.
13. In 1928, Mickey Mouse appears in Steamboat Willie, the third Mickey Mouse cartoon released, but the first sound film.
14. In 1928, an iron lung respirator is used for the first time at Children's Hospital, Boston.
15. In 1928, poet and novelist Maya Angelou is born.
16. In 1928, Elie Wiesel, Romanian Holocaust survivor, writer, and lecturer, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize is born.
17. In 1928, American Author Philip K. Dick is born.
18. The 28th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is a often-debated urban legend, as the Constitution has only 27 Amendments.
19. Texas is the 28th state ratified into the Union. (My Birth State!)
20. Hosea is the 28th book in the Bible, a book that bears a promise of restoration amidst the message of destruction.
21. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) by J.K. Rowling is the 28th best-selling book of all time.
22. The classic Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence was first written and published in 1928.

23. The 28th meridian east passes through the Aegean Sea, where I would like to visit one day when I travel to Italy and Greece!
24. In 1828, French author Jules Verne is born.
25. In 1828, Russian writer Leo Tolstoy is born.
26. The 28th chapter of the Bible, Genesis 28, is when God blesses Jacob and he dreams of a ladder stretching up to heaven, and the angels of God traversing it.
27. The first television was sold in 1928.
28. In 1928 the Academy Awards are handed out for the first time.

So it turns out 28 can be pretty interesting! And if any generous readers feel the absolute need to get me a birthday present, feel free to peruse my Wish List for ideas and I will be happy to accomodate you with a shipping address, but hey, no pressure!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Book It to the Hop

It's Friday, which means the Book Blogger Hop at Crazy For Books. So welcome to all of my new visitors and followers, take a look around and enjoy your stay. Don't forget to enter my $35 CSN Stores Gift Certificate Giveaway ending September 20th!

In honor of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, let's take time this week to honor our favorite book bloggers and why we love them!

I love many different blogs, but I only have room for a few, so I'll first mention the book blogging friend I made through YA Bloggers Debut Book Battle, The Book Vixen. She is a huge fan of Young Adult literature and has been book blogging for not much longer than I have.

One of the first book blogs I discovered and liked so much I modeled some of my own book site after is Reading With Tequila. Even though I am not a tequila drinker, her website is just so organized and thorough, I love it!

I will also mention the blog that I stumbled on one day that inspired me to start my own blog, Mountains of Books. It's owner, sadly, has not posted in 8 months, but her reference to my favorite movie Beauty and the Beast is what gave me the epiphany to combine two loves into one - reading and writing!

And finally, I must mention my childhood best friend Felicia at Reading the Bella Vista Library. Her book blog is fairly new as she started off as a Mommy Blogger, so pay her a visit and encourage her as she tackles the very intimidating project of reading through her entire public library!

These are the blogs I have discovered through the Hop:
1. All-Consuming Books
2. For What It's Worth
3. Book Whispers

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Troubled Waters
by Sharon Shinn
Publication Date: October 5, 2010

The author of the Twelve Hours series welcomes readers to a new fantasy world, where the elements rule.
Zoe Ardelay receives astonishing and unwelcome news: she has been chosen to become the king's fifth wife. Forced to go to the royal city, she manages to slip away and hide on the shores of the mighty river.
It's there that Zoe realizes she is a coru prime ruled by the elemental sign of water. She must return to the palace, not as an unwilling bride for the king, but a woman with power in her own right. But as Zoe unlocks more of the mysteries of her blood-and the secrets of the royal family-she must decide how to use her great power to rise above the deceptions and intrigue of the royal court.

What book release are you looking forward to?

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