Monday's Muse, 68th edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Lacrimosa Dominae by The Immediate.




The idea of Monday's Muse is to introduce you to unknown, forgotten, or overlooked fiction that has been lost from regular radar. I am WriterGirl. I am in the business of saving lives, one book at a time.

What I do is go to one of several places, narrow it down to a YA field and type in a random word, any word that comes to mind. I then take a sampling of some I have never heard of before, or only vaguely heard of (and hopefully you as well). No infringement is intended for any description I take for the books. It's purely for promotional reasons. I will try and cover as many genres as possible that are fitting for the random word. Simple but it really uncovers some incredible gems. I will be doing this every other Monday. If there are any words you want to prompt me with, go ahead and fire away.


Today's random word:
Maids








Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale.

Hale's novelization of the relatively obscure Grimm Brothers' fairy tale "Maid Maleen" is quite an improvement over the original. Rather than merely adding flesh to the Grimms' skeleton, the author has taken a few of the prominent bones (a love match thwarted by an autocratic king, the princess and her maid condemned to a tower for seven years, the country a wasteland when they finally escape) and constructed a new and far more appealing body. Lady Saren loves Khan Tegus, who rules a lesser realm, and she refuses to marry the evil man whom her father has chosen for her for political gains. The narrator, Dashti, is the princess's maid, immured in the tower almost as soon as she's found employment in the royal household. Bound to obey her mistress, Dashti is ordered to speak in her place when Tegus comes calling on their prison. Many readers will guess how that will eventually turn out, but they won't predict how Dashti and Tegus will overcome physical, political, and social obstacles to recognize their mutual love and defy convention in order to marry. Hale has created a richly imagined, mythical land something like medieval Mongolia, replete with magical song and touch therapy for spiritual or corporeal ailments, intuitive animals, and a sort of Faustian werewolf. It's a highly successful romance.—Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY--Miriam Lang Budin, School Library Journal (October 1, 2007. vol 53, issue 10, pg. 152).




The Darkangel by Merideth Anne Pierce.

The servant girl Aeriel must choose between destroying her vampire master for his evil deeds or saving him for the sake of his beauty and the spark of goodness she has seen in him.









The Silver Bowl by Diane Stanley.

Veteran Stanley concocts a delicious blend of familiar fairy-tale motifs and intriguing, well-rounded characters to create an engaging fantasy.Young Molly's mother is ill and her father uncaring, so she learns early how to take care of herself. Her resourcefulness pays off when she goes into service at the palace. Resilience and intelligence allow her to thrive, and they stand her in good stead when she gets swept up into a series of dangerous adventures. Molly encounters an enchanted artifact that reveals (only to her) the threat that hangs over the royal family. Aided by Tobias, a fellow servant who befriended her from the first, Molly rescues young Prince Alaric from certain death. The three then flee the castle and face a series of challenges both mundane and magical before Alaric can claim the throne. Stanley's writing is smooth and compelling, making her characters come to life and ensuring that readers can easily follow the twists and turns of the inventive plot. While there is indeed a villain as well as some not-so-nice characters, Stanley's nuanced portraits encourage readers to consider motivation as well as actions. Touches of humor lighten the tone at times, while suspenseful sequences heighten the tension.A most worthy and enjoyable entry in the "feisty female" fantasy genre.--Kirkus Reviews (May 15, 2011).





Wisdom's Kiss by Catherine Gilbert Murdock.

At the start of this delightful fairy tale, Princess Wisdom is betrothed to Duke Roger of Farina. After she and her grandmother set off for her royal marriage ceremony, though, she finds herself falling madly in love with a circus acrobat. Complicating matters, the circus performer has already professed his love to another: Wisdom’s lady-in-waiting. Oh, the scandal of it all! This tongue-in-cheek tour de force follows multiple characters; as the book’s epigraph states, “Truth requires many voices.” Included among the captivating cast are Rudy, the forsaken lady-in-waiting; Princess Wisdom, better and appropriately known as Dizzy; Sir Felis el Gato, a master swordsman; Tips, the Circus Primus acrobat; the evil Wilhelmina, Duchess of Farina and mother of the bridegroom; and the Queen Mother Ben and her cat, Escoffier. Readers will find themselves rooting for a happy, if fantastical, ending for all of Murdock’s deftly drawn characters, with the exception, of course, of Duchess Wilhelmina, who refreshingly meets her just desserts. Interwoven with the straightforward narration are passages in inventive forms, such as letters and diary entries, a play within a play, and excerpts from The Imperial Encyclopedia of Lax, 8th Edition. Packed with double entendres, humorous dialogue and situations, and a black cat that will capture the reader’s imagination, this is a joyful, timeless fantasy that teens will savor. --Bradburn, Frances, Booklist (August 1, 2011. vol 107, number 22, p45).






The Agency: A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee.

Mary Quinn, a young woman alone in Victorian London, is about to hang for thievery when she is whisked away and offered a new life in a women's academy. Eventually she learns the academy is a front for an all-female detective agency. Mary's first assignment takes her to the home of a wealthy merchant, where she is to gather evidence of wrongdoing while posing as a companion for his daughter. It is soon apparent that his household has more than its share of secrets. Mary finds herself forced to partner with James, the brother of her young charge's suitor, who has suspicions about the family. The first in a series, this volume sets up its premise in an unobtrusive manner. There is interesting chemistry between Mary and James as well as hints that they may reunite in a future volume. The descriptions of a crowded, smelly and unsanitary city are both well-drawn and important plot elements, as are the mores of Victorian life. Most intriguing is the unusual ethnic heritage Mary strives to conceal, which adds a fresh dimension.--Kirkus Reviews (February 15, 2010).






Beneath My Mother's Feet by Amjed Qamar.

Fourteen-year-old Nazia is a good Muslim girl. She lives in Karachi and keeps busy attending school, helping with her younger siblings and preparing for an arranged marriage, when her father is injured. Nazia doesn't know it at first, but everything in her life has changed. First, she leaves school to work as a maid with her mother, which is kept secret, since this would make her unsuitable for marriage. Then the unthinkable happens: Nazia's dowry is stolen. Her father remains unemployed while his wife and daughter work, and as his behavior becomes more unpredictable, Nazia and her mother realize they must assume responsibility for the family. Nazia's hopes for the future are dashed. But when she is offered the opportunity to marry a man who will rule over her, she must decide exactly what she is willing to sacrifice. Reminiscent of Suzanne Fisher Staples's Shabanu (1989), this beautifully written depiction of life in modern Pakistan offers readers a painful and stirring view of a girl with limited choices but great inner strength.--Kirkus Reviews (May 15, 2008).






Newes from the Dead by Mary Hooper.

"Newes from the Dead" was the name of a pamphlet that circulated in England in 1650 after a teenage housemaid, hanged for the crime of infanticide, awoke on the dissecting table. Hooper uses this case as the basis for a historical mystery that is creepy in the best Edgar Allen Poe tradition, as well as thought-provoking about sexual harassment and abuse. The story opens in a coffin, as the reader listens in on poor Anne's frantic coming-to-terms with where she is and how she got there: her days as a servant, her seduction by a young lord, the accusation of murder. Anne's thoughts, from coffin to dissecting table, are juxtaposed with a third-person narrative, centering on a nervous young surgeon who is on hand to witness and assist in the young woman's dissection. Hooper explains that surgeons were allowed to conduct autopsies on criminals, and it's just such intriguing tidbits of Cromwellian history that add heft to this suspenseful novel. Give this to readers who prefer their historical mysteries straight up—without an overlay of fantasy.--Fletcher, Connie, Booklist (May 1, 2008. vol 104, number 17, pg. 48).

Book Comics for the End of the World #6

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): It's the End of the World by R.E.M (honest to goodness, this is what I'm listening to right now. Not even planned, either).





And I feel fine. :)




Book Comics for the End of the World #5

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): O Little Town of Bethlehem/Star of Bethlehem by Nadia Birkenstock.





YA Dystopian. You knew it was coming. :) Clicky to embiggen.




Book Comics for the End of the World #4

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Funeral/Rebuilding Serenity by David Newman [Serenity soundtrack].






Of all the comics, this would probably be me. In fact this is me.




Book Comics for the End of the World #3

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): End Credits by David Newman [Serenity soundtrack].





This is the first of this series I drew. Don't ask me how I thought drawing someone sitting down would be easier.




Book Comics for The End of the World #2

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Rocking Carol by Aled Jones.





Clicky to embiggen. :)




End of the World Comic Week #1 - Book Style

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): I Will Wait by Mumford and Sons.







Because the end of the world is just too much fun to poke fun at. :)




Feature Fun Friday - Ultimate Non-Christmas Christmas Trailer Tie-In

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Galaxy Map by Jack Wall [Mass Effect soundtrack].





Because I am on a non-traditional Christmas movie kick (movies that are not about Christmas but have a Christmas scene/connection in them), here are two clips/trailers that are only found on the Ultimate Non-Christmas Christmas Movie List of yours truly. :) And the first is even literature related, which makes this totally legit for Feature Fun Friday. It is the trailer for Miss Potter, a movie about the life (and love) of Beatrix Potter. The fact that said love interest is Ewan McGregor does not bother me at all. And he sings, people.

The second is for a clip from an under-the-radar movie called The Big Year. Now, the trailer for this is rather stupid and misleading so I'm not showing it. It is about, of all things, birding (not bird watching. They point out that error). Three guys (Owen Wilson, Steve Martin, and Jack Black) are all trying for a Big Year - to spot as many birds in North America as they can in one calendar year. It is a really fun, and surprisingly tender show. Highly recommended. Here is a clip from that movie.










Have a great weekend, everyone!

Does Nightmare Before Christmas Count as a Christmas Movie?

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Always Something There To Remind Me by Naked Eyes.





photo by carlibux


So I've been giving a lot of thought to this Ultimate Non-Christmas Christmas Movie List, and thanks to the magic of the internet**, I've come up with several more titles to please just about *ahem* die hard fan. Pun intended as you will. :)


But here is one that gave me a lot of pause. Is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Christmas movie? I mean, it has "Christmas" in the title for heaven's sake, but it deals strongly in Halloweentown and has the walking undead as a protagonist. I played ping-pong with this idea for a solid hour (this is serious stuff, you guys). And as sad as it is, and as much as it breaks my heart, The Nightmare Before Christmas IS a Christmas movie. He dresses up as Santa, delivers presents, and a good portion of the film is leading up to Christmas Eve.

So it is a Halloween and Christmas movie in equal shares and by all logical reasoning should be watched in November so as to not interfere with this love child's custody or visitation rights.

But seriously, I still love you, Jack. You're the happiest, most innocent hardcore skeleton in existence.


And without further adieu, I give you the extended list which is also being added to the original post. There is going to be one on here you are going to be very surprised I am not calling a "Christmas" movie. For the impatient ones, scroll down to the bottom. :) If you think of any more, add a comment. I would love to add them.



Steel Magnolias
Cast Away
Better off Dead
Sleepless in Seattle
Gone with the Wind
1941
Staglag 17
The Thin Man (1934)
The Rocking Horse Winner (1949)
Serendipity
You've Got Mail (and the 1940 The Shop Around the Corner)
Emma (Gwyneth Paltrow version)
Lethal Weapon
L.A Confidential
Baby Face (1933)
An Affair to Remember
Le Grande Illusion
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
All That Heaven Allows
Citizen Kane
The Family Man
American Psycho
Psycho
Meet John Doe (1940)
The City of Lost Children
The Dead (1987)
Eyes Wide Shut
The Shining
Rocky IV
Trading Places
The Long Kiss Goodnight
Die Hard 2
Rent
Red
It's a Wonderful Life



Oh yes, you read that right. It's a Wonderful Life. The classic hallmark of countless hours of reruns and 24-hour marathons. But it is not a "Christmas" movie any more than Cast Away is just because it happens to start at a Christmas party. It is about George's Bailey's life and how important he is to a community that happens to take place during Christmas one year. Think of how long it takes to get that fateful Christmas Eve. We see all of George Bailey's childhood, watch him fall in love, and get at least halfway through the movie before that night. Even the director, Frank Cappa, didn't consider it a Christmas movie when he made it. So there you go. You have a crazy amount of pickins if you've seen Frosty the Snowman one too many times. :)






**But I am so stinking proud to say that I have yet to find Jumanji, Miss Potter, or The Big Year on any other Christmas Movie list than here. Or Lady and the Tramp for that matter. Stinking proud, people.

The ULTIMATE Christmas Non-Chrismas Movie List!

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Every Teardrop is a Waterfall by Coldplay.











I have this fun but rather random goal. For Christmas this year, I want to watch as many holiday movies as I can, but not the usual Miracle on 34th Street/Rudolph fare. I want to come up with a list of movies that are not Christmas movies but have a Christmas scene in them. They're like secret Christmas movies. ^_^ And I need your help because I've wracked my brain and I want this to be the most complete list possible. For posterity. There were tons of these I was shocked to realize had a Christmas scene in them. Wanna test your hand, help a girl out? :) I'll add them all to the list! And then we can rock it out like it was 1999.






Harry Potter films (all eight, I think)
Jumanji
Die Hard
Little Women
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Miss Potter
Edward Scissorhands
Ghostbusters 2

The Big Year
While You Were Sleeping
Gremlins
Batman Returns
The Blind Side
Lady and the Tramp


 
Possibles I'm not sure of:
Balto
Iron Will (I may be just thinking of these becuase they have way too much snow).




 ETA [you're AWESOME!]:
 
Good Old Summertime
Meet me in St. Louis
Doctor Who Christmas Specials (Dickens and C.S Lewis)
Steel Magnolias
Cast Away
Better off Dead
Sleepless in Seattle
Gone with the Wind
1941
Staglag 17
The Thin Man (1934)
The Rocking Horse Winner (1949)
Serendipity
You've Got Mail (and the 1940 The Shop Around the Corner)
Emma (Gwyneth Paltrow version)
Lethal Weapon
L.A Confidential
Baby Face (1933)
An Affair to Remember
Le Grande Illusion
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
All That Heaven Allows
Citizen Kane
The Family Man
American Psycho
Psycho
Meet John Doe (1940)
The City of Lost Children
The Dead (1987)
Eyes Wide Shut
The Shining
Rocky IV
Trading Places
The Long Kiss Goodnight
Die Hard 2
Rent
Red
It's a Wonderful Life


Feature Fun Friday - Daughter of Smoke and Bone Vignettes

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): All for You by Sister Hazel.





Now these are just cool. They are "mini trailers" if you will, for the much acclaimed and heralded Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. I love this different approach to what a "book trailer" could be and I think it is quite effective. And it sure pays off when they have a good voice actor. Here are just a couple of my favorites. You'll have to find the rest on your own (there are 5 in all). ;)









An Award Whisper on the Wind...

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Aria by Mediaeval Baebes.







As you know, I am a champion for the underdog. Add to it the secret and wonderful things of the world and I just become a giddy mess. It is now the end of the year, that brisk time where I not only down gallons of hot chocolate, but also when award nominees and "Best of" list abound around every street corner (obviously I have Christmas songs stuck in my head too apparently). Kirkus has just announced their Best of 2012 list (but the teens and indie aren't announced until next week >_<), and the William Morris finalists were also just announced! But there is a whisper on the air of another award. And it is one you can help with.





I see your ears perking up. :)



 












There is an award, called the Andre Norton award. Scoot closer and gather 'round. It's story time. ^_^ (from a blog post where I am about to direct you). :D


Andre Norton first began talking to me about this project in 2004. Her initial idea was to establish an award (with cash) for unpublished manuscripts. She wanted to give a boost to the kind of story for young people that she’d loved as a girl, and that she’d written for so many decades. Underlying that was a fretting sense that those who wrote for kids didn’t get much respect, certainly not in the awards arena, and not for spec fic, even within SFWA.

Being a teacher at that time, and having worked with classrooms full of creative writers, I cautioned her that reading piles and piles of manuscripts takes a lot of time, and from everything I’d heard about other contests, she would be buried under boxes of subs. She was also talking to her close friends, who I guess said much the same.

Eventually Andre came around to the idea of distinguishing an already published work, and wanted it to come out under the auspices of SFWA.

My secret thought was Oh lord, not another award.

But I’d promised Andre to do what I could to help her dream become real, so I did some research on whether or not the award would be welcome in the YA world. That year I went to every librarian, teacher, and literacy convention or conference I could get to.

In every single panel that touched on speculative elements, without exception, when I stood up and asked the teachers, librarians, and literacy experts if an award for outstanding SFF for young readers —maybe named after Andre Norton—would have value, I got an overwhelmingly positive response. Yes! An award given under the auspices of such a body as SFWA would mean that book, and possibly the nominees, would get an edge on the yearly library budget fights, where spec fic almost always lost to Problem Novels and other mainstream books. An award conferred an aura of gravitas that gave sympathetic teachers fodder for using such books in the classroom!

My misgivings poofed like smoke. In the meantime, I found that Catherine Asaro, then President of SFWA, was totally on board.

Unfortunately Andre’s health had taken a serious turn. I acted as point person for petitioning SFWA, after which President Asaro went into hyperdrive. I think it was her charisma and enthusiasm, as well as the behind-the-scenes enthusiasm and support of Ann Crispin, a long-time loyal friend and supporter of Andre, that got the Board to ram the award through. There was also the enthusiastic support of past President and much-lauded children’s writer Jane Yolen, science champion Marianne Dyson, and others uniting to lend energy and voice.

The award was established just a few weeks before Andre died; in fact, if I recall correctly, she was being wheeled into surgery when the word was given to her that SFWA had voted its creation, which had pleased her mightily. She had never thought her name would be on it. I forget the possible names she’d had in mind, but to the rest of us, there was only one possibility: naming the award for Andre herself.




I love hearing the genesis for this award, and love it even more because it comes from an author I greatly respect. I don't know if you know Sherwood Smith (she is the author of the Crown Duel/Court Duel duet, the Wren series, the Inda series and many others). Some of her stories were instrumental in being with me throughout my adolescence and teen years.

And now here is the link. Because she wants your help in finding some unknown gems for this award. So if you have a spec fiction book you just love that hasn't got a lot of publicity, or are a treasure hunter like me, do go over there and make your ideas known! Be a hero to your own favorite story. :)


WriterGirl, ordinary girl extraordinaire, over and out.

Monday's Muse, 67th edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Still Alive by Lisa Miskovsky [Mirror's Edge soundtrack].




The idea of Monday's Muse is to introduce you to unknown, forgotten, or overlooked fiction that has been lost from regular radar. I am WriterGirl. I am in the business of saving lives, one book at a time.

What I do is go to one of several places, narrow it down to a YA field and type in a random word, any word that comes to mind. I then take a sampling of some I have never heard of before, or only vaguely heard of (and hopefully you as well). No infringement is intended for any description I take for the books. It's purely for promotional reasons. I will try and cover as many genres as possible that are fitting for the random word. Simple but it really uncovers some incredible gems. I will be doing this every other Monday. If there are any words you want to prompt me with, go ahead and fire away.


Today's random word:
Space Travel




Across the Universe/A Million Suns/Shades of Earth by Beth Revis.

An unforgettable opening scene, in which Amy watches her parents climb into glass boxes to be agonizingly frozen alive and then submits to being frozen herself, launches this riveting thriller about space travel, secrets, murder and Realpolitik. Amy's family chooses cryogenics so they can be defrosted when the spaceship Godspeed completes its 300-year journey to a new planet. But en route, in space, Amy's cryo-wires are unplugged early—almost lethally. She wakes to meet Elder, another teen, named for his leader-in-training position. Ironhanded commander Eldest refuses to teach Elder the critical details for running Godspeed, and in scrutinizing the deadly mystery of who's unplugging the frozens, Elder and Amy uncover generations of devastating lies underpinning Godspeed's on-board society. From the ship's windowless metal walls and recycled-air full-farming ecosystem to the people's carnal and oddly synchronized breeding Season, Revis' extraordinary setting is credible and palpably claustrophobic. The two teens' alternating viewpoints, both in first person, divulge information to readers bit by tension-filled bit. Wherever the series goes from here, this opener leaves an indelible imprint.--Kirkus (December 1, 2010).


This is an amazing read guys. Phenomenal. Do not pass it up.









Serenity vol. 1 Those Left Behind by Joss Whedon.

With the war between the Alliance and the independent Browncoats over, Mal Reynolds, captain of the Serenity, and his crew of misfits, fugitives, and would-be outlaws work the frontier. Defeated and directionless, their goal has become simply to keep flying, and Mal is willing to take any job, in- or outside the law, to achieve it. Although their willingness to flout rules has occasionally played to their favor, they may be in over their heads in taking aboard Simon and his damaged sister, River, secretive fugitives from the Alliance. Mal and his crew may not know it, but the hunt is on, and the Alliance is right behind them. Whedon elaborates on his Firefly universe in this small prequel to the movie Serenity. If this story doesn't have much in the way of plot or background, an aura of character study suffuses it, enlightening Serenity newcomers while warming the hearts of fans. Will Conrad's slick and fluid artwork captures the essence of how the film actors realized the characters without losing comic-book feel. --Tina Coleman, Booklist (Feb 1, 2006 vol 102, number 11, pg. 41).





Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card.

A brain-bending bildungsroman kicks off a promising science-fiction series. Rigg has spent all his 13 years trapping in the wild, aided by his peculiar ability to trace the past of any living being, until his enigmatic father's death thrusts Rigg into a wider world to search for his previously unknown sister. His friend Umbo (whose own special talent is slowing down time) tags along when they discover that their gifts can combine in unexpected ways. Rigg, Umbo and their various allies and enemies are likable characters (if preternaturally clever, witty and self-aware), and their interactions believable and charming. Their planet proves fascinating to explore, despite the highly implausible juxtaposition of advanced theoretical science with pre-industrial technology. The implications of the boys' power to manipulate the past unfold cleverly (if with interminable analytic dithering), feeding into the Machiavellian political intrigue for a pulse-pounding climax. Casual sexist references, a weird fascination with excretory functions and a baffling authorial afterword explaining "what 'really' happened" may put some readers off; still, Card's many fans will be thrilled by this return to his literary roots.--Kirkus (October 15, 2010).






Dragon and Thief by Timothy Zahn.

Zahn (Angelmass, 2001, etc.) goes after YA readers with the tale of a space-going orphan and his alien companion. Fourteen-year-old Jack Morgan lives on a small cargo spaceship with Uncle Virge—actually a computer simulation of his now-dead uncle. Jack is on the run from the authorities, accused of stealing cargo he had contracted to deliver for Braxton Universis, a powerful mega-corporation. Proving his innocence is not an attractive option because Uncle Virge was one of the most accomplished burglars and con men in the galaxy—crafts he was training Jack for until his death. Jack's consequent flight takes him to a supposedly uninhabited world where he sees the arrival of three spaceships, all immediately attacked by unknown fighters. One of the ships crash-lands on the planet, and, at Uncle Virge's urging, Jack goes to see what he can salvage from it and encounters Draycos, a surviving crewmember. Draycos, a warrior-poet, is a member of a symbiotic race and exists either as a two-dimensional "tattoo" on the skin of his hosts or as a three-dimensional dragon. Since his host was killed in the attack, he persuades Jack to become his new one so that he can live and avenge the attack. This sets the two on a string of adventures culminating in Jack's accepting an assignment to burgle the safe on a luxury spaceliner. The task makes use both of Jack's burglar skills and Drayco's assorted alien talents. As things progress, Jack and Draycos learn to trust each other—and discover that they have enemies in common. The conclusion leaves the door open for a sequel.A palatable adventure for a young audience, well paced and smoothly narrated.--Kirkus (January 1, 2003).






Trigun vol. 1 by Yasuhiro Nightow.

American readers may be familiar with the version of Trigun seen in the popular anime series Daffy Duck, directed by Sergio Leone. However, the story first appeared as a manga serial, the first 12 installments of which are gathered here in the right to left format. Readers must absorb several installments before figuring out the basic setup: colonizing starships dropped groups of people on a desert planet. Survival is difficult for their descendants, since their original high-tech machinery has either stopped working or is dangerously erratic. A version of Old West society has evolved, enlivened by the presence of wacky outlaws with huge weapons. One of the most notorious gunslingers is Vash the Stampede, a skinny, spiky-haired geek wearing a long, bullet-shredded duster. Vash manages to avoid killing anyone while he dodges the hail of lead everyone aims at him, but that doesn't stop two cute but clueless insurance-company representatives from tagging along to record the massive damage that occurs wherever Vash goes. Just when readers have decided this all must be an elaborate farce, though, flashbacks occur, suggesting Vash may not be the wild and crazy guy he seems. It's too early to tell how much of a serious side the story might reveal. What is beyond doubt is the artwork's uncommon vigor, which fills each page with exploding, overlapping panels of the rootin'-tootin', Wild West, sci-fi space action. It's energetic to the point of being delirious (maybe even demented) but still entertaining.--Publisher's Weekly (January 26, 2004 vol 251, issue 4, pg. 233).







The Comet's Curse by Dom Testa.

The first in a projected series of six, this book has already won an award in its prior incarnation as a self-published book. Deservedly so, as it grabs readers' attention with the very first page and never lets go. The Earth has been contaminated by a passing comet's tail. No one is immune to the ravaging disease left behind, except for children, but this reprieve is temporary—they face imminent death when they reach adulthood. As some scientists rush to find a cure, others devise a daring scheme: to launch a spaceship filled with the best and the brightest of the world's teens, who will take with them the hope to re-establish humankind on a distant new world. Testa's narrative jumps back and forth chronologically, keeping tension high as some plot to abort the mission and doom humanity once and for all. Both a mystery and an adventure, combining a solid cast of characters with humor, pathos, growing pains and just a hint of romance, this opener bodes well for the remainder of the series.--Kirkus Reviews (November 15, 2008).







Break Out by Nina Croft.

Ricardo Sanchez, vampire and space pilot, is hired by the beautiful Skylar Rossaria to break a prisoner out of one of the Collective's maximum security prisons.

Sci-Fi Picture Books Nerds Like You and I WISHED Existed

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): The Throne of Alia by Brian Tyler [Children of Dune soundtrack]. (yes, I picked this one. I just got in a sci-fi-y mood that I couldn't help myself. ^_^)





As ambassador of sci-fi love and joy to all the uninitiated, this is something I just have to show you. It's a moral imperative. Have you ever wondered what would happen if Dr. Seuss and Dr. Who joined forces? Well, wonder no longer! Here it is in the digital flesh, along with four other sci-fi geeky creations you're just going to wish really existed. I'm still banking on Goodnight Dune. If they have a Goodnight Ipad (is that it's real name? I know I've seen it) then they by Vera we can have a Goodnight Dune. Clicky the link below to enjoy. ^_^






Review: Giants Beware! by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Trap the Worm by Brian Tyler [Children of Dune soundtrack].



My reviews are a bit different than most. As an undercover superhero (ordinary girl extraordinaire), my purpose is to try and uncover hidden gems lost from the familiar radar. Because of this, I have set up some guidelines for myself (just like the pirate code). :)

I will focus on YA and Children's literature (with very rare exceptions).
I will not review any book that is one of the top 25,000 bestselling books (based on Amazon ranks).
I will try and aim for books 100,000 or larger.
I will review recent books or books of great merit (preferably both).







Giants Beware! by Jorge Aguirre & Rafael Rosado
Published: April 10, 2012
Publisher: First Second
Pages: 208
Current Amazon Rank: #
44,824
Author's Website: Giants Beware
Want it? Find it here.





The First Line:


"He was the most evil creature ever to set foot in the valley... A depraved monster that took joy in terrorizing our beloved town of Mont Petit Pierre. We called him... THE BABY-FEET-EATING GIANT!"





My Take:

You know when you find a story that is fun to read no matter how typical it may seem on the surface because of how it is told? If you can't guess, Giants Beware! is like that. :) We have young Claudette who has a single, universe-pulling purpose in life: to fight giants. Her best friend Marie, who happens to be a princess in training, is most tolerant of her antics and Claudette lets her sword-making, pastry chef-aspiring little brother Gaston tag along without a problem. She soon of course decides it best to sneak out of town on her own to find this giant, and just happens to lie to her friends to get them to come along, saying the princess board with look quite favorably on Marie's application, and their father would finally teach Gaston sword making. This of course isn't going to come back to haunt her at all.

I really enjoyed a lot of aspects in this story. Above all, is the art. The art is hilarious and uses the full extent of its hyperbolic, almost comic strip-like medium to great effect. Claudette's facial expressions and movements are especially humorous and she tends to pull you right in with her friends on her adventures. She's as fiesty as they come and one amusing joy after another to see her "come alive" on the page.





On a technical note, the paneling does a fantastic job of pacing and changing angles to fully immerse the reader. All very subtle of course, unless you are looking for it. But it makes the reading flow so smooth and natural and I wanted to say "bravo!" all along. The humor ranges from high to low brow and is something very young children through adults can enjoy thoroughly. Even scanning through makes me want to read it again. Once off, there are quite a few scenarios where things are terribly convenient for our little troupe, but if you can let that go, your are in for a fun romp. The ending was a bit too formulaic for me as well, but the humor patched over these well enough that it didn't kick it out of the running.

I loved the seeing their dad's own mini arc as he went out to find his kids and bring them safely back. It was also really cool to see him as a handicapped character (in a wheelchair) not only being a natural part of the story without his disability as a focal point, but also that he managed to kick butt just by being who he was. This story left room for a sequel but wraps up nicely as it is, with hints of an already realized (and potentially expanding) world. I really wouldn't mind seeing more of little Claudette, Gaston, and Marie again, especially if they can keep the humor ramped up.




The Final Word:

A light read with humor reigning supreme. The art style and writing win out for the laughs in this fun find.









P.S See if you can spot the art mistake between pages 51 and 57. :)


Monday's Muse, 66th edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Courier Heart by Eccodek [The Looking Glass Wars soundtrack].




The idea of Monday's Muse is to introduce you to unknown, forgotten, or overlooked fiction that has been lost from regular radar. I am WriterGirl. I am in the business of saving lives, one book at a time.

What I do is go to one of several places, narrow it down to a YA field and type in a random word, any word that comes to mind. I then take a sampling of some I have never heard of before, or only vaguely heard of (and hopefully you as well). No infringement is intended for any description I take for the books. It's purely for promotional reasons. I will try and cover as many genres as possible that are fitting for the random word. Simple but it really uncovers some incredible gems. I will be doing this every other Monday. If there are any words you want to prompt me with, go ahead and fire away.


Today's random word:
Circus






Wonder Show by Hannah Rodgers Barnaby.

Fourteen-year-old Portia joins a circus freak show looking for the father who abandoned her, but she finds much more. Portia's odyssey takes place in a gothic, Depression-era Midwest. Her idyllic youth, surrounded by the stories of her extended family, ends when her widowed father leaves her with her stoic, thoroughly practical Aunt Sophia--who then turns her over to the distinctly un-homelike McGreavey Home for Wayward Girls, ruled by the sinister Mister. After her only friend commits suicide--an act Portia feels responsible for--Portia steals Mister's bicycle and runs away to the circus, where she hopes (with no real basis) to find her father. Her way with words wins her a place pitching the ballyhoo to the rubes who visit the titular Wonder Show. The languid, sensuous third-person account is periodically punctuated by the voices of Portia and the members of the Wonder Show, giving readers poignant insight into this fragile found family. The themes that delicately thread their way through the novel--of the power of story, of family and friendship, of seeking and finding--weave themselves together into a compelling depiction of Portia's very conscious act of self-definition: She can be, as her mentor in the ballyhoo says, whoever she wants to be. Infused with nostalgia and affection, this celebration of the deliberately constructed self will hold readers in its spell from beginning to end.--Kirkus (November 1, 2012).





Freaks: Alive on the Inside by Annette Curtis Klause.

Abel, 17, is the “normal” son of a legless father and an armless mother. He lives with other “oddities” in a midget village where they put on shows. He is restless and wants his own life. His romantic experiences have been limited to kissing the hairy Dog-Faced Girl. He runs away and joins a traveling circus, unaware that Apollo, 12, the hairy Puppy Boy, has followed him and stowed away aboard the circus train. Apollo is discovered and caged like an animal and Abel is thrown from the train by his fellow performers. Apollo escapes and they are reunited, working as servants in a brothel until Dr. Mink's Traveling Monster Menagerie arrives in town and Apollo is lured into joining them. Most of the show's “monsters” are children who were born with deformities and have been sold to or kidnapped by Mink. As Abel attempts to free them, he is plagued by dreams of a beautiful Egyptian woman who repeatedly throws herself at him. Somehow a ring he received as a gift allows this female mummy to come alive. Set in 1899, this gripping and sensual, but never explicitly sexual tale is a fascinating mixture of fantasy and reality. Abel's growth from an immature, irresponsible teen into a more mature, dependable young man ready to take charge is well done. The author never loses sight of the fact that despite their unusual appearances, all of the characters are human.–Sharon Rawlins, NJ Library for the Blind and Handicapped, Trenton --Sharon Rawlins, School Library Journal (January 1, 2006 vol 52, issue 1, pg. 136).




Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck.

When 18-year-old Kelsey takes a job with a circus, she finds herself oddly attracted to the white tiger she has been hired to feed. Little does she know the animal is really a 300-year-old Indian prince who has been cursed and transformed by an evil wizard. She soon discovers the truth and, to her amazement, learns she may be the only one who can help. The next thing she knows, she is on her way, with the tiger, to India, where they embark on a dangerous quest to break the curse. The tiger can change into a man for 24 minutes during each 24-hour period. And what a man! “He’s like James Bond, Antonio Banderas, and Brad Pitt all rolled into one,” Kelsey thinks. Originally self-published as an e-book, Houck’s first novel is part Twilight, part Indiana Jones, and part fairy tale. Although her book—the first in a proposed series—is sometimes derivative, she tells a good story filled with chaste romance that will keep readers turning pages to the inconclusive ending. --Michael Cart, Booklist (Janurary 1, 2011 vol 107, number 9, pg. 100).




MirrorMask by Neil Gaiman.

Helena is about to embark on a most amazing journey. Raised in a family of circus performers, she's always dreamed of leading a more ordinary life. But when haunting music draws her into a strange and magical realm, one where anything can happen, herreal life is stolen by a runaway from the other side. Helena must rescue the realm from chaos in order to win back her own not-so-ordinary life. MirrorMask. is a breathtaking film written by bestselling author Neil Gaiman and brought to life through the vision of acclaimed artist and director Dave McKean. This original novella is Helena's tale in her own voice, written by master storyteller Neil Gaiman and accompanied by original art by Dave McKean and images from the film; it is a stunning and magical journey.




Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.

A carnival rolls in sometime after the midnight hour on a chill Midwestern October eve, ushering in Halloween a week before its time. A calliope's shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two inquisitive boys standing precariously on the brink of adulthood will soon discover the secret of the satanic raree-show's smoke, mazes, and mirrors, as they learn all too well the heavy cost of wishes -- and the stuff of nightmare.




The Unrivalled Spangles by Karen Wallace.

Though kids no longer dream of running away to the circus, teen girls may be lured to a vicarious escape via this 19th-century tale set in London's East End. Ellen, 16, and Lucy Spangle, 14, have been raised as star horseback riders headlining the family circus. When Lucy falls during a dangerous stunt, she fatally breaks her neck. The tragedy is only the beginning of a roller coaster of calamities. Ellen's yearning to leave the circus to become a governess drives the plot as two romances—a dreamy gentleman who charms her with visions of visiting Venice and handsome, honest Joe, son of the rival circus owner—entangle her feelings and complicate the family's struggles. Add to the mix a devastating fire that almost kills her father, Ellen's skill at healing and British upper-class snobbery. Readers will be way ahead of the author, and, like watching a melodrama, want to call out advice to the characters. Stiff-collar tone, some overly dramatic moments and plot fripperies keep the action tumbling but nick a few "spangles" off the appeal.--Kirkus Reviews (September 15, 2006).

Feature Fun Friday - Thanksgiving and the Butterball Hotline

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Theme de Suzanne by Phillippe Rombi  [Potiche soundtrack].






Just because it seems like tradition now. Nothing to do with books, just the West Wing, Thanksgiving, and the Butterball Hotline. Have a great weekend, everyone. :)



Five Reasons Why I Love Winter

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): You Don't Dream in Cryo by James Horner [Avatar soundtrack].










Five Reasons Why I Absolutely Love Winter...



1). Hot Chocolate. Hands down. I drink the stuff like most people drink coffee. But now I don't get funny looks like when I am hugging my thermos in mid-July.


2). The stillness the snow brings. Sure, moving the stuff after it has partially melted feels a whole lot like shoveling the world's largest slushee, but when it is quiet it feels like the whole world is holding its breath, and waiting for something spectacular to happen. I love it.


3). Ice melt. It is winter fairy dust. ^_^


4). Snow falling across lamplight in the dark. It's just pretty.


5). But the reason I love winter best is everyone seems to change a little bit more during this time of year. Maybe it is the thought of family and kindness, but it makes any toss-up of downsides and leaves them in the dust. And that is totally worth me not feeling my fingertips until April. :)



Feature Fun Friday - Leigh Bardugo is AWESOME.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Jord Och Himmel (Heaven And Earth) by Ale Moller.





DUDE. You do not know how excited I am to show you these videos. Yes, I say multiple because there is no way I'm stopping at one. And it is finally snowing outside so I can *finally* release this tot he world! The first is an introductory video of sorts to her book Shadow and Bone (called The Gathering Dark in the UK). The second is one where she reads an excerpt from a quite intense scene. You'll want to stay for the whole thing. Leigh Bardugo is a fantastic narrator of her own work, something that can be extremely challenging for many authors. Her control and pitch remind me of Neil Gaiman's readings more than a little. So go ahead and listen. You are in for a treat. Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!










Review: Cat's Cradle: The Golden Twine by Jo Rioux

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): The Book of Iona by Bruno Coulais [The Secret of Kells soundtrack].



My reviews are a bit different than most. As an undercover superhero (ordinary girl extraordinaire), my purpose is to try and uncover hidden gems lost from the familiar radar. Because of this, I have set up some guidelines for myself (just like the pirate code). :)

I will focus on YA and Children's literature (with very rare exceptions).
I will not review any book that is one of the top 25,000 bestselling books (based on Amazon ranks).
I will try and aim for books 100,000 or larger.
I will review recent books or books of great merit (preferably both).







Cat's Cradle: The Golden Twine by Jo Rioux
Published: August 1, 2012
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Pages: 112
Current Amazon Rank: #
1,522,965
Author's Website: Jo Rioux
Want it? Find it here.





The First Line:


"Alright Igor, out you go."





My Take:

Looking at that line up there, it really does not give justice to the story, which once again shows how integral both art and words are to a graphic novel. And as you can see from the amazon ranking (we may have a new record for lowest ranked book here yet), I am bringing you a very buried gem.

Cat's Cradle tells of a young girl, Suri, who wants nothing more in all the world to be a monster tamer, but has more to overcome than her small stature to get there. In the meantime she is also having to run from their travelling camp's leader, where she has become a semi-permanent stowaway (with the help of just about everyone in the camp except said leader). And then there are of course the monsters, some who have already invaded unbeknownst in their midst...


This is a delightful opening to a very promising series. The illustrations are absorbing and the color palette Jo Rioux has chosen is gorgeous and sink-into worthy. I love the character's expressions, which are so evocative and complement the visual action and written dialogue so well. She is great at illustrating atmosphere, as well as action (both of which can be difficult to achieve). And can I say I love to death that she started this series because she was a fan of graphic novels herself? Double awesome points there. This love translates well onto the page, where the frames flow naturally from one sequence to another and the subtle stretchings of the artform play well at the back of your mind without ever calling attention to themselves.





This really is a fun read. I read it straight through in one sitting. However, one character at the end did not feel like he was 500 years old, but since it is geared toward a younger audience I'm willing to overlook his attitude since it is easier to relate to in that age group. It also ended on something of a cliffhanger, or perhaps a hook I should say, which is more of a hrumph for me than an actual complaint. Gotta love when you have to wait for more of a good story. :)



The Final Word:

Squeaky clean and great fun, I highly recommend this unknown gem. And here's hoping more installments are swift in coming.


Monday's Muse, 65th edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Breathe Easy by Mree.




The idea of Monday's Muse is to introduce you to unknown, forgotten, or overlooked fiction that has been lost from regular radar. I am WriterGirl. I am in the business of saving lives, one book at a time.

What I do is go to one of several places, narrow it down to a YA field and type in a random word, any word that comes to mind. I then take a sampling of some I have never heard of before, or only vaguely heard of (and hopefully you as well). No infringement is intended for any description I take for the books. It's purely for promotional reasons. I will try and cover as many genres as possible that are fitting for the random word. Simple but it really uncovers some incredible gems. I will be doing this every other Monday. If there are any words you want to prompt me with, go ahead and fire away.


Today's random word:
Deserts







Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst.

 Liyana is a vessel, the chosen one, nurtured, trained, and offered up by her clan for a great honor: giving her life so their goddess, Bayla, may return to earth to inhabit her body. But the goddess does not return. At the end of her day of sacrifice, Liyana is still alive, her clan having left her alone, disgraced, and in grave danger in the desert. Vessel is the read-alike for your Hunger Games–obsessed teens. From the quest to find the other clans’ spurned vessels, to the two attractive love interests, to the intelligent, independent young heroine, this folkloric fantasy, while harkening to that ever-popular novel and movie, is unique in its own web of clever, complex characters and attention-absorbing adventure. Its setting alone is so vital that it becomes another character, a part of the action. Readers will feel the desert heat, the earth-numbing droughts, the vicious sandstorms and resulting sandwolves, and the bizarre sensations of a goddess living within the body of its human vessel. Brilliantly riveting, Vessel’s only disappointment is its single volume, a fate that relegates Liyana, her lovers, and her friends to their own vessel, a single book.--Bradburn, Frances, Booklist (October 1, 2012. Vol 109, number 3, pg. 54).





The Girl of Fire and Thorns Trilogy by Rae Carson.

This compelling first book in a medieval fantasy trilogy features Elisa, a 16-year-old princess, as she grows from an inexperienced girl who is forced to marry a weak king for political reasons into a confident and capable young woman, destined to be a respected leader in her own right. Shortly after her birth, Elisa received a magical Godstone in her navel, a sign bestowed every 100 years on a chosen one. Despite this, she feels inadequate when compared to her older, more beautiful sister so she eats to compensate for it. She's also very clever, particularly in the strategies of war, but all that most people see is her ample size. The only person who respects her is young Lord Hector, her husband's personal guard. Shortly after her wedding, she's kidnapped and forced to endure an arduous journey through the desert that toughens her. One of her kidnappers is a young man who falls for her and she for him. His people hope that she, as the Godstone bearer, can save them from their constant war against a neighboring enemy. This fast-moving and exciting novel is rife with political conspiracies and machinations. Elisa's maturation and physical transformation echo Catherine Gilbert Murdock's Princess Ben (Houghton Harcourt, 2008). Fans of Tamora Pierce's "Beka Cooper" series (Random) will find a kindred spirit in Elisa as she experiences great adversity and heart-wrenching loss.—Sharon Rawlins, New Jersey State Library, Trenton --Sharon Rawlins, School Library Journal (August 1, 2011. Vol 57, issue 8, pg. 98).





The Girl with Borrowed Wings by Rinsai Rossetti.

Frenenqer—a name meaning restraint—was born inside her father’s imagination and sculpted into his vision of the perfect daughter. She has felt his invisible finger between her shoulder blades her whole life, forcing her meek, obedient, and modest actions. To compound the oppression, Frenenqer lives in a blazingly hot oasis in a Middle Eastern desert, marked by dirty white buildings, an unforgiving landscape, and no place to go, save to school and back home again. In an act of defiance, Frenenqer saves a black cat from certain death at the animal souk and brings him home. The cat is a shape-shifter, a Free person whom Frenenqer names Sangris. He has no constraints, no family, no rules to follow. Sangris, often taking the form of a boy, sprouts wings, and Frenenqer flies with him at night to places both real and magical. It’s this juxtaposition of subjugation and freedom that propels Rossetti’s spellbinding debut, as a girl owned by her father begins to experience life outside of narrowly defined spaces. With taut, lush writing (“the wind shut my eyes for me and rioted in my hair”), a stunningly imagined setting, and a premise that’s unique among the stacks of paranormal romances, this one—written when Rossetti was a teenager—feels like a breeze in the desert.--Kelley, Ann, Booklist (September 15, 2012. Vol 109, number 2, pg. 74).




Jim Henson's Tale of Sand by Ramon Perez.

Based on an unproduced feature-length screenplay by legendary visionary Henson and Juhl, this graphic novel follows its hapless protagonist as he is cast out into the desert by the cheerful Sheriff Tate for reasons as baffling to the unnamed hero as the reader. The scruffy hero is a pawn in a game whose rules are concealed from him, pursued across a surrealistic southwest U.S. by an implacable hunter and hindered by the eccentric, bizarre inhabitants of the great desolation. The prize waiting for him at the end of the chase, should he survive to reach the end, is one he will never guess at. While best known as the creator of the Muppets, Henson was a man of multiple gifts. More than two decades after his untimely death, Pérez has brought to life a little-known side of Henson’s storytelling skill. The story eschews extensive dialogue, making events dependent on Pérez’s ability to convey Henson’s vision. Instead of trying to merely make a movie storyboard, Pérez chooses to make this pure comics, using an animated style somewhat reminiscent of Darwyn Cooke and stunning coloring that uses different palettes—muted pastels or striking duotone—to tell the story. An eccentric oddity, lovingly rendered into a haunting story.--Publisher's Weekly (February 13, 2012. Vol 259, issue 07).




The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio by Lloyd Alexander.

This posthumously published novel from Alexander, who died this spring, is an exuberant and compassionate tale of adventure. Kicked out of his merchant uncle’s house, inveterate daydreamer Carlo leaves the island of Magenta (not far from Campania, the mythical setting of The Rope Trick ) to head east on the Road ofGoldenDreams. He travels through Sidya, Marakand and Keshavar (the evocative names are vintage Alexander, subtly blending cartography and legend), all the way to Cathai, where he expects to make his fortune, thanks to the treasure map he found tucked into a book of fantastic tales given him by a mysterious bookseller. Themes that call to mind Alexander’s landmark Prydain Chronicles reappear here, telescoped into a single potent volume: Starting as a callow youth, Carlo gains wisdom and the capacity to love deeply, thanks to his adventures on the road and what he learns from his fellow travelers. The buoyant fantasy is counterpointed by the war and destruction that lurk beyond nearly every bend in the road; the interplay between these elements will keep readers enthralled every step of Alexander’s final literary journey.--Publisher's Weekly (July 23, 2007. Vol 254, issue 29, pg. 66).




Deathwatch by Robb White.

The author of Up Periscope and Torpedo Run switches his locale to the desert for some throat-parching suspense as the young hunting guide Ben becomes human prey after witnessing his hard-boiled client Madec accidentally shoot an old prospector. Instead of dispatching Ben summarily, Madec releases his victim (naked, unarmed and without food or water) -- giving him at least a "sporting" chance to escape being shot and providing an excuse for Ben to stage a novel-length demonstration of physical stamina, cunning and survival savvy. Of course when Ben finally outwits Madec and makes his way back to town, there's still the problem of convincing the sheriff that Madec, not he, is the guilty one, but readers who have managed to undergo this test of endurance thus far will have no doubt about the outcome.--Kirkus (May 1, 1972).





Shaman Warrior. Vol 1. (series) by Chung-gi Pak.

Master wizard Yarong and his faithful servant Batu are sent to remote desert wastelands on a grave mission from their king. These two mysterious warriors have yet to realize that a whirlwind of political movements and secret plots will change their lives forever. When Yarong is mortally injured, Batu must fulfill his promise to leave Yarong's side to protect his master's child. As Batu seeks to find and hide the infant, Yarong reveals another secret to those who have tracked him down to finish him off--the deadly, hidden power of a Shaman Warrior.






The Legend of the Wandering King by Laura Gallego Garcîa.

Before the days of Mohammed and Islam, Arabian prince Walid dreams of being a poet. He organizes an annual contest but loses each year to a humble carpet weaver, Hammad. Bitterly jealous, the prince punishes his rival with impossible tasks, which Hammad miraculously accomplishes, including weaving a carpet containing the entire history ofthe human race. The enchanted rug drives its viewers to madness, though, and after it is stolen, an older, repentant prince, fearful ofthe damage it causes, sets out to find it. As he journeys through Bedouin lands and distant cities, the prince continuously reinvents himself, falls in love, and finds the soul and heart missing in his early poems. Spanish author Garcia writes a captivating, magical tale--a combination of original legend, philosophical meditation, romance, and adventure--steeped in rich cultural specifics, defined in a note and a glossary. Readers will enjoy the thoughtful ruminations on fate and consequence as much as the thrilling, magical action, and they will recognize Walids course of self-discovery: try many identities on for size. --Gillian Engberg, Booklist (October 15, 2005. Vol 102, number 4, pg. 40).

Feature Fun Friday - Daylight Savings by Edward Hogan

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Newgrange by Celtic Woman.






We've been long overdue for a book trailer here on Feature Fun Friday. I dug a little and found one that I liked and only after discovered how perfect it is for this weekend. The title is, at least. :) Here is a lesser-known book published this year called Daylight Savings by Edward Hogan. Have a great weekend, everyone!




Where in the World...

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): The Bad Beginning by Thomas Newman [A Series of Unfortunate Events soundtrack].





As promised, here I am! But only for a moment. I have sweet things to steal, you know. Once again I fail to evade you guys in your cleverness (because my readers are the most awesome EVAR). I hope your Halloween was fantastic!




Halloween Food! The Grin-est Holiday EVAR.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Jack's Lament by Danny Elfman [Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack].






So, yesterday I decided I wanted to have a Halloween party. Thankfully this brilliant idea decided to come with at least two days notice to you know, prep.

For those last minute deciders or for anyone who wants a little something fun for their holiday, here are some treat ideas to think of cooking up (all-age friendly).



Three variations of deviled eggs: eyeball, pumpkin, cracked and spider variety.



Eyeball






Pumpkin






Cracked








Spider









What is this? Creme brulee inside a pumpkin? WHY DID I NEVER THINK OF THIS BEFORE? I'm not going the pumpkin flavoring route since at least one member of my family detests pumpkin (the horror, right? It's like hating egg nog!). PERFECT excuse to buy a culinary blow torch, right? :)






Another tradition of Halloween that goes back as far as I can remember is hot dog octopi, or Octidogs, if you'd like. :) That IS Halloween for me. Simply cut your hot dog in half and then split each halfway up lengthwise and boil. I guarantee your kids (or kids at heart) will fall be in awe. You can even see them unfurl before your eyes.


And here is a geektastically cool website breaking down exactly the different kinds and methods of cooking these little octopi. I'd honestly never thought of deep frying them before, but the curl on those legs is fantastic.




Now outside of the octopi of my childhood, I'm not too fond of hot dogs. But I saw this idea for mummies that I just have to try.




There was also supposed to be pictures of my famous severed finger pizza, but alas, three SD cards later, it has disappeared. Boo!