Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he's doing all right—until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak.

Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he’s a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else.

With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin?
-Plot summary borrowed from Goodreads

Hurray, more irreverent supernatural happenings/paranormal investigation/ensemble fun! This book is filled to bursting with music references, laugh out loud moments, bizarre dialogue ("So, you're telling me the zoo commissioned you to make a zombie panda in order to avoid a potential international incident."), supernatural beings, setting-specific Seattle details, and waffles. 

I really enjoyed this book, especially believable drop-out Sam and tough as nails were-pack-leader-to-be Brid, but there were a few first book bumps (POV characters narrated some chapters I wasn't especially interested in which sometimes slowed Sam's more interesting plot, etc). Happily, from peeking at a few reviews of the sequel, Necromancing the Stone, McBride's second offering is a bit more polished.

If you liked some of the other books I've reviewed like The Raven Boys, Paranormalcy, or Anna Dressed in Blood, or if your idea of TV goodness includes True Blood and Dead Like Me, give this snarky series-opener a shot.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron

Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron edited by Jonathan Strahan

Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Diana Peterfreund, Margo Lanagan, Peter S. Beagle, and Garth Nix are just a few of the authors who have toiled over their cauldrons and conjured up bewitching new creations inspired by and celebrating the might and mystery of the witch. Assembled by one of the most well-regarded anthologists in the science fiction/fantasy world, this rich, intelligent collection will enchant readers of all ages. -Plot summary borrowed from Goodreads

I have been itching to read this book since I saw the list of contributors (which also includes Charles de Lint, Tanith Lee, Delia Sherman, Jim Butcher and Jane Yolen among others) and the gorgeous cover. I'm happy to say that I was not disappointed!

Every short story collection is a bit of a mixed bag, but after the slightly underwhelming collection of vampire stories called Teeth, I was pleasantly surprised by these shorts. I liked or loved nearly all of them, and there were only two that I skimmed over. This was a really fun, witchy read that introduced me to several new (to me) authors to keep an eye on. Fly on over to your local library and grab a copy today!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

October Love

Could there be a better time to curl up with a book? You can read under a tree gone all sorts of beautiful colors, in a warm sweater and with some tea in a thermos. You could read by a roaring fire while it pours outside. Now is the perfect time for adventures, ghost stories, and old favorites. What are you waiting for?

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."
~George Eliot

"There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been!"
~Percy Bysshe Shelley

“There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir, We must rise and follow her; When from every hill of flame, She calls and calls each vagabond by name.”
~William Bliss Carman

“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”
~Henry David Thoreau

“October is the fallen leaf, but it is also a wider horizon more clearly seen. It is the distant hills once more in sight, and the enduring constellations above them once again.”
~Hal Borland

“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
~ L.M. Montgomery

"It was, as I have said, a fine autumnal day; the sky was clear and serene, and nature wore that rich and golden livery which we always associate with the idea of abundance. The forests had put on their sober brown and yellow, while some trees of the tendered kind had been nipped by the frosts into brilliant dyes of orange, purple, and scarlet."
~Washington Irving

“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!”
~Humbert Wolfe

“October is crisp days and cool nights, a time to curl up around the dancing flames and sink into a good book.”
~John Sinor

Monday, October 15, 2012

Girl of Nightmares

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor. -
Plot summary borrowed from Goodreads

Oh how I love it when a sequel stacks up for a first installment! Everything I loved from Anna Dressed in Blood was back in spades- Cas' snarky, hardboiled paranormal investigator narration, the Scooby dynamic shared by Cas and best friends Thomas and Carmel, an increasingly developed supernatural world, and some serious scares. There's a scene in what's known as the Suicide Forest that scared the pants off me. Yikes. 

There's no official word on a third book, but I seriously doubt we've seen the last of Cas, his friends, his witchy mom, or the world they inhabit. Hurray!

Definitely don't read this without reading the first in the series, but I wholeheartedly recommend both.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Teeth: Vampire Tales

Teeth: Vampire Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

The first bite is only the beginning.

Twenty of today's favorite writers explore the intersections between the living, dead, and undead. Their vampire tales range from romantic to chilling to gleeful—and touch on nearly every emotion in between.

Neil Gaiman's vampire-poet in "Bloody Sunrise" is brooding, remorseful, and lonely. Melissa Marr's vampires make a high-stakes game of possession and seduction in "Transition." And in "Why Light?" Tanith Lee's lovelorn vampires yearn most of all for the one thing they cannot have—daylight. Drawn from folk traditions around the world, popular culture, and original interpretations, the vampires in this collection are enticingly diverse.

But reader beware: The one thing they have in common is their desire for blood. . . . -Summary borrowed from Barnes & Noble

I was thrilled when I saw that Datlow and Windling had put together a collection of vampire themed stories. Their collections are almost always stellar, and their Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest and The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm are two of my very favorite story collections. I was also intrigued by the number of contributing authors that I'm a fan of: Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Catherynne M. Valente, Garth Nix, Emma Bull, Delia Sherman, and more. Also, vampires! Hurray!!

All that being said, I wish I could say I love this book. Don't get me wrong- I really liked it, it was good seasonal reading, and some of the stories really stood out ("Baby" by Kathe Koja is one of the creepiest things I've read in a long time, I would be thrilled to read a novel length sequel to Delia Sherman's circus themed story, "Flying," and "Late Bloomer" by Suzy McKee Charnas was poignant and explored a facet of vampirism I'd never thought much about/seen explored this way elsewhere). And hey, maybe someone without a pile of other books to read clamoring for their attention would be able to settle down and enjoy this collection as much as I wanted to.

If you're looking for a new vampire read, or if you're looking for some new authors and would like to get a sample of many at once, or if you're a big fan of any of the authors mentioned, OR if you just think the cover is nifty, I would recommend this book.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Diviners

The Diviners by Libba Bray

Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.
-Plot summary borrowed from Goodreads

I almost passed this one by. 1920s? New York? Eh, cool, but not really my thing. But I kept being drawn back in by The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult- and I'm really, really glad.

This book has pretty nearly everything I love. It captures the chilly, haunting, exhilarating feeling of fall. It's bursting with lore, legends, creepiness, urban legends, folklore, and mythology. The historical setting is fully realized, vibrant, detailed, and dovetails perfectly with the plot and characters. Bray could have chosen any setting, but the frantic energy of New York City between the World Wars, full of dream chasers, immigrants, the haves and have nots, the old and the new, is crucial to the story. There are murderers, psychics, flappers, professors, doomsday cults and newsies. For the first time in a long time, I felt completely connected to a full set of diverse, complex, unique characters, and was as invested in their stories as the plot. 

Speaking of which, the plot is fantastic. Despite a length of 575 pages, I never felt tempted to skip ahead. Instead, I would go back and re-read passages to soak up all the prose and to make sure I didn't miss any clues to a character's past or the mystery unfolding. It never seemed like things were moving too slowly, and Bray almost perfectly balanced the tricky task of answering some questions while leading the reader to ask others. 

Finally, Bray gets massive kudos from me for pulling one of the hardest feats in young adult literature- writing an authentic, believable, lovable and strong female protagonist. I'm more than a little in love with Evie right now. She's feisty, resourceful, clever, reckless, caring, vulnerable and strong all at the same time. So many books I've read this year have had passable but not incredibly memorable characters-  Hemlock, Under the Never Sky, Cinder- but The Diviners is different. Evie is phenomenal, and I found myself caring very nearly as much about gentle giant Jericho, an aspiring Harlem poet/healer named Memphis, wild child Theta, and others.

Do not miss this book. 

Some other books you might enjoy:

Teen Books Coming to a Screen Near You!

Since the Harry Potter franchise has run out of movies, the Twilight saga is about to end, and there are only so many Hunger Games films to make, studios are looking for their next Big Thing. Here are some of the movies/shows to look out for in the coming months/years:

The Selection by Kiera Cass

One of the many dystopian lite novels to debut post Hunger Games, this is the story of a girl who is chosen by lottery to compete in a televised competition for the hand of a prince. 300 years in the future, elaborate caste system, suspect leaders, etc. The writers look promising: Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain have written for major shows including Angel, The Shield, Dollhouse and The Vampire Diaries. Look for this one midseason 2013 on the CW.

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

Appearing first as a novel in 1999, then a film and manga series, this is the brutal story of teens being forced to fight to the death in a televised event. Sound familiar? Many have claimed, with varying degrees of cynicism, that this is where Suzanne Collins found her inspiration for The Hunger Games. The similarities are clear, and while there are also plenty of differences, it's easy to see why the CW might be interested in releasing another series in the "Televised Teens Slaughter Each Other" oeuvre. (If you haven't already, check out the original Japanese film, it's definitely worth watching). There is no set deal in place, but a Battle Royale series sounds like a strong possibility.


City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

So far this is the most certain project on the list. Slated for an August 2013 release, a film adaptation is already in production for this highly popular opener to Clare's The Mortal Instruments series. Harald Zwart is directing, and the cast includes Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Maillet, Robert Sheehan, Godfrey Gao, Lena Headey (Queen Cersei herself!), Aidan Turner (Mitchell! *swoon* If you haven't watched the original, best, and English version of Being Human, close your browser immediately and do so. You can thank me later), Jared Harris, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. I haven't read this series myself, but I think I might have to if the movie is going to star some of my very favorite people (Aidan Turner, fwaa!)

Divergent by Veronica Roth

And the dystopias just keep on coming! Look for a film adaptation of Roth's immensely popular series beginning in May 2014. No word on the cast yet, but this movie is being produced by the same studio responsible for Twilight, so you can bet that they are fully aware of the cash-cow potential here and will look to draw some big names.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

For those of you who prefer paranormal romance to dystopian fiction, look for this story of love and werewolves coming out in 2014.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The film adaptation of this teen dystopian novel (surprised? Me neither) seems to be stuck in development hell without a green light at the moment, but Fox has the rights to this adaptation, and supposedly a script has been written and Wes Ball as been hired to direct.

Matched by Ally Condie

Even before the first book in the series was published, Disney purchased the rights for a film adaptation of this romantic dystopia-lite story. David Slade (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) is the director and Kieran Mulroney (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) is doing the screenplay. No cast announcements as of yet.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Last but certainly not least is the long-awaited movie version of a classic sci-fi teen book.  Gavin Hood (the most recognizable movie on his resume is X-Men Origins Wolverine... I'll try not to hold that against him) wrote the screenplay and is the director, and the cast has some massive A-listers including Abigail Breslin, Ben Kingsley, and Harrison "MFing Han Solo" Ford. Ender is being played by Asa Butterfield, who you may remember from his fantastic turn in Hugo. Of all the names on this list, I think this is the one to watch out for.

Personally I would walk over hot coals for a tv show based on Libba Bray's The Diviners (review coming very soon) and, if they promised very solemnly to do it right, I would LOVE to see a film adaptation of Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

What do you think? Anything I missed, or any books that you would like to see turned into tv shows/movies?