Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

July 21

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Another Book Binge, and This Time I Didn’t Even Need to Leave Home

by Ann-Katrina

Remember how I was saying it’s nearly impossible to leave the house and not come home with a bunch of books? Well, it seems that I don’t even need to leave anymore. The books, they will find me. And I think I kind of like it this way.

Two books came in for review on Monday. First up courtesy of Simon & Schuster is a middle grade fantasy adventure titled Jack Blank and The Imagine Nation by Matt Myklusch. Second is Passing Strange by Daniel Waters (that cover is the UK version, btw), third book in the Generation Dead saga, courtesy of Price Minister.

Jack Blank and The Imagine Nation by Matt MykluschPassing Strange by Daniel Waters

The next two just arrived two, courtesy of the UPS lady. I ordered them from Amazon after they sat in my “to be ordered later” shopping cart for a few months. Both are a set of short stories for children. First is The Devil’s Storybook by Natalie Babbitt and the second is Half-Human compiled and edited by Bruce Coville.

The Devil's Storybook by Natalie BabbittHalf-Human

That, combined with the other books on my shelf waiting to be read should keep me busy for a little while.

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August 12

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Wondrous Words Wednesday

by Ann-Katrina

One of the purposes of this blog when I conceived it was to also expand my vocabulary through documenting new words. Unfortunately, I haven’t been keeping with that spirit…until now.

Not too long ago I came across a weekly meme that ought to do the trick courtesy of the Bermudaonion.

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading.

While reading the last two books, I knew I’d be finished with both of them by today, so I decided to take notes of the words in preparation. That means, for my first Wondrous Words Wednesday, the words will be taken from two titles.

Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

Generation Dead Cover The first book that perked up my eyeballs with its colorful vocabulary was Generation Dead by Daniel Waters.

variegated: adj. having patches, stripes, or marks of different colors.

viscous: adj. having the sticky consistency of glue.

brusque: adj. curt, blunt, or abrupt.

gravitas: n. seriousness or sobriety, as of conduct or speech.

rejoinder: n. reply; esp. an answer to a reply.

cortege: n. procession; esp. a funeral procession.

chambray: n. a lightweight clothing fabric of white and colored threads.

The Night Monster by James Swain

The Night Monster CoverThe next book that I yanked some interesting words from was The Night Monster by James Swain.

macadam: n. a roadway or pavement of small closely packed broken stone.

patina: n. 1) a green film formed on copper and bronze by exposure to moist air; 2) a superficial covering or exterior.

My apologies for not having the direct references from the texts—I’m usually very good about taking notes like that, but I must have been asleep at the wheel this past week. *sigh* X_X

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August 9

Comments: 8

Sunday Salon: Monsters, Zombies, and (Smokin’ Hot) Angels, Oh My!

by Ann-Katrina

Sunday Salon Welcome to another (late) edition of The Sunday Salon…

It’s been a fair while since my last Sunday Salon post and I’m writing this one late at night rather than in the morning, but I say it’s better late than never.

Raaaawwwwr! Scary Psychologically Abnormal Monsters Abound

The Night Monster Cover My current reading pleasure is The Night Monster by James Swain. I’m rounding the last fifty or so pages and will most likely finish it up tonight.

The story so far is about an ex-cop (detective) turned private investigator Jack Carpenter who’s on the hunt for a missing college basketball star, who also happens to be one of his daughter’s friends and teammates.

The case is personal to Jack because he discovers it’s connected to a case that he’d been investigating for sixteen years—a case involving an abduction that he hadn’t been able to stop.

So far, the book is great reading, though I’ll admit the first three-quarters of the book was fast-paced and even left me a little breathless and now that I’m nearing the end, and the action should be picking up, it seems to be trundling along at almost half-speed. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not necessarily a good thing either.

Even if the book’s pacing never picks up again, I still think it’s a great read. I hope to have my full review up some time this week.

And speaking of reviews I hope to have up this week…

It’s Twilight, with Zombies and Better Writing (and Only Marginally Better Editing)

Generation Dead Cover I’ve finished reading Generation Dead by Daniel Waters and absolutely loved it. There were some laugh out loud funny moments and the characters are all highly well developed. The writing is tight and flows well.

What I found highly interesting is that it’s Twilight, with zombies. The pacing of the book is similar to Twilight in that it meanders for the first three-quarters of the book and then for the last quarter, the action suddenly picks up. The difference with this book and Twilight is that the action is built from the beginning. We see the villain and watch him ramp up his campaign of evil.

Tommy Williams is described as having pale skin, and despite being dead, it’s not decaying or foul-smelling—he smells rather earthy actually. He’s also good-looking, strong, and feels stone-hard and cold when he’s touched. Sound familiar? Yes, it’s a zombified version of Edward Cullen.

Phoebe Kendall is described as being very pale, doesn’t realize her own physical beauty, can’t seem to sort out her romantic feelings and is inexplicably drawn to the new zombie in town despite knowing next to nothing about him. Bella Swan anyone?

Finally there is Adam Layman who is a living, breathing, hot-blooded teenage boy who happens to be one of Phoebe’s best friends. Despite his feelings for Phoebe, which he chews down and swallows, he helps her get closer to Tommy simply so he can be near her. Sounds vaguely familiar…oh that’s right, Jacob Black.

I also spotted similarities to Alice and Rosalie Cullen, and a few other characters from Twilight sprinkled throughout. There were even a couple references to vampires that made me do a double-take and giggle.

At the end of the day, I could probably dissect both books and write an essay, but I’ll save that for some other time. Instead, I’ll share my Sunday sketch (yay! I finally did one…and on a Sunday) of the Generation Dead love triangle.

generation-dead-bw

It originally had a bit of color to it (Phoebe’s eyes and lips), but since I didn’t scan it—took a picture with my digital camera because I’m lazy—I decided it looked better in black and white. Also, it shouldn’t be too difficult to see who I hope Phoebe ends up with—*cough*Adam*cough*

Smokin’ Hot Angel, Oh My!

Hush, Hush Cover I’ve started reading Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, but had to put the title aside and read a few other things. Why? I’m entirely too excited to read it. I’m worried that I’ll breeze through it and I would like to savor it.

When I finish the Night Monster, I believe I’ll take a few days to write reviews of all the books awaiting reviews (sad to say, quite a few) and then I’ll be picking up Hush, Hush again.

And…I may have a surprise in store for Today, I Read… newsletter subscribers coming up. That’s the only hint I’ll give. :)

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August 9

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Recent Arrivals: Kiss of Life by Daniel Waters

by Ann-Katrina

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: Kiss of Life by Daniel Waters

Kiss of Life Cover

First line: Phoebe.

Beautiful Phoebe.

Through the glass watch Phoebe leave bus walk to house phoebe green skirt green eyes skirt trailing hair flowing black and shiny in the sun.

Initial thoughts: OK, so reading the first line (or few lines really) to create this post nearly made me cry. For those of you who haven’t read Generation Dead, this is a spoiler.

Adam died at the end of that book and came back as a differently biotic person (aka zombie). This book, obviously, opens with what’s actually going through his mind and seeing his loose, choppy train of thought hit me like a sledgehammer.

In Generation Dead, the characters were so well developed that I actually cared what happened to them and I was a bit distraught when Adam died, especially under the circumstances and before he could say the three little words that he carried around in his heart for the special girl next door.

I can’t deny that I’m looking forward to reading Kiss of Life, even if it’s bittersweet.

Book description:

The phenomenon that’s been sweeping the country seems to be here to stay. Not only are the teenagers who have come back from their graves still here, but newlydeads are being unearthed all the time. While scientists look for answers and politicians take their stands, the undead population of Oakvale have banded together in a group they’re calling the Sons of Romero, hoping to find solidarity in segregation.

Phoebe Kendall may be alive, but she feels just as lost and alone as her dead friends. Just when she reconciled herself to having feelings for a zombie — her Homecoming date Tommy Williams — her friend Adam is murdered taking a bullet that was meant for her. Things get even more confusing when Adam comes back from the grave. Now she has romantic interest in two dead boys; one who saved her life, and one she can’t seem to live without.

From the back cover:

"You didn’t move, Tommy! He pointed the gun right at me, and you didn’t do anything!"

"I…"

"All you had…had to do was…move," she said; "it wouldn’t have hurt if he shot you. But you just stood there, and…and Adam’s dead! He’s dead, Tommy!"

She looked at him, her eyes blurry with tears. He’d stopped trying to talk, and the mask of concern had fallen away from his face as he stood there.

Just stood there.

"He’d be alive if it wasn’t for you, Tommy," she said, whispering so all of the gawkers wouldn’t hear.

He’d be alive, she thought, and you and I would be together.

Book Details: 416 pages; Hyperion Book CH; Pub. May 12, 2009

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August 8

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Recent Arrivals: Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

by Ann-Katrina

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

Generation Dead Cover

First line: Phoebe and her friends held their breath as the dead girl in the plaid skirt walked past their table in the lunchroom.

Initial thoughts: I learned about Generation Dead when I found Karin Librarian’s Say It Again Saturday post. After going back to read her review, I fell in love with the idea and simply had to have the book. With phrases like “differently biotic” or “living impaired”, how could I not? The description alone promised this book would be a hoot.

Book description:

Phoebe Kendall is just your typical Goth girl with a crush. He’s strong and silent…and dead.

All over the country, a strange phenomenon is occurring. Some teenagers who die aren’t staying dead. But when they come back to life, they are no longer the same. Feared and misunderstood, they are doing their best to blend into a society that doesn’t want them.

The administration at Oakvale High attempts to be more welcoming of the “differently biotic.” But the students don’t want to take classes or eat in the cafeteria next to someone who isn’t breathing. And there are no laws that exist to protect the “living impaired” from the people who want them to disappear–for good.

When Phoebe falls for Tommy Williams, the leader of the dead kids, no one can believe it; not her best friend, Margi, and especially not her neighbor, Adam, the star of the football team. Adam has feelings for Phoebe that run much deeper than just friendship; he would do anything for her. But what if protecting Tommy is the one thing that would make her happy?

Book Details: 416 pages; Hyperion Book CH; Pub. May 2008

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