Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

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January 12

Comments: 2

2012: The Year of Extinction (and Change)

by Ann-Katrina

Aside from humankind becoming extinct this year (some time in December, I believe it is), it’s also the year to make positive changes. Every year we all make resolutions to be different, be better, be whatever, and every year we completely forget about those resolutions come February.

But what if these changes were broken down into bite-sized manageable pieces? I’m thinking it would be a lot easier to make those changes stick, especially with continued and repeated effort.

This year I have many plans for this blog, including the reintroduction of the newsletter, more interviews, giveaways, general commentary, and, of course, book reviews. I’m also thinking of coming up with a proper publishing schedule (which, as I think about it, seems like a very good idea) with features on specific days. Once I get my personal life back in line, I’ll certainly be revisiting the idea.

52 Small Changes book coverFor now, I’ll just post up a quick note about a nice boon that arrived on my doorstep recently: three copies of 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier New You by Brett Blumenthal to giveaway to a few lucky readers.

I’ve already started to read a few of the tips and I’ll admit, some seem fairly common sense (i.e. drink more water), but there are a few in there that have grabbed my attention. I also like that Blumenthal offers a few helpful tips for actually making those small changes less painless. Once I’ve finished reading it all the way through and making notes, I’ll post up a proper review, along with progress reports.

With that, I’m going to finish up with: I hope you had a splendid, varied, and wonderful 2011 and I hope that your 2012 will be even better.

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August 5

Comments: 3

The Where Has Ann-Kat Been Post

by Ann-Katrina

It’s been a while since I’ve updated; that’s because I’ve had a lot going on IRL. It’s fairly personal so I’d rather not get into it here, but suffice to say it’s been a huge drain on my energy and my time. But after all the upheaval, I’m finally ready to ease back into the flow of reading and writing about my reading.

Over the next few weeks, I intend to catch up on my backlog of books awaiting reviews (and emails—sorry if you’ve sent me one and I haven’t responded, I’m not ignoring you, promise!) and get caught up on the wonderful books still waiting to be read.

To give you a taste of what’s coming up, some of the titles that I’m looking forward to reading which include Thirst No. 2 & 3 by Christopher Pike (I read the first one, but haven’t gotten around to reviewing it yet), The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch, Floors by Patrick Carman, and Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman.

Thirst No. 2 by Christopher PikeThirst No. 3 by Christopher PikeThe Eleventh Plague by Jeff HirschFloors by Patrick CarmanWant to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman

Oh, life is looking much brighter already. :D

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April 26

Comments: 1

A Zombie-Tinged Tea Party

by Ann-Katrina

Isaac Marion PhotoFun fact: Isaac Marion isn’t just a skilled author and pretty face, he’s also musically inclined and artistic. How’s that for a triple threat (quadruple thread if you count the pretty face)?

Well, that inspired me to ask this multi-talented man to a virtual tea party and told him he could bring three guests: an artist, a musician, and an author. Then I asked what shenanigans are likely to ensue, you know, so I can be prepared. Here’s what Isaac had to say about that…

This is an interesting question because you didn’t specify living artists, which means there are so many opportunities here beyond just meeting artists I admire, which let’s face it, is always underwhelming. For instance, I could meet Beethoven and force him at gunpoint to compose an original symphony with my name in the copyright. Can you imagine how much I’d make in royalties with a brand new release from the legendary Ludwig Van Beethoven? And I could meet Da Vinci and force him to tell me where he hid the secret map that leads to the secret vault that holds Jesus Christ’s secret sex tape, or whatever The Da Vinci Code is about. (Haven’t read it.) And speaking of Jesus, God is generally believed to be the author of the Bible, right? So I could meet God, and maybe slip some kind of magical drug into His tea that would make Him lose consciousness for a few hours, during which I could steal the Divine Battery that powers all His powers and use it to become God. This is going to be the best tea party ever!

It raises the question, though, how did you, gentle blogger, gain the power to raise dead historical figures and summon the Almighty to tea? Does this involve time travel, or the kind of dark, dead-raising magic I launched my career writing about? Because if these are zombie artists we’re talking about, that changes things. A lot. Would Zombie Beethoven still have the musical chops to compose a hit single? Or would he write me some kind of dull, plodding adagio that wouldn’t make it anywhere near the classical charts, much less dominate them? Would Zombie Da Vinci even remember where he hid Jesus’ sex tape, much less be able to teach me how to fly an ornithopter? And I don’t even want to think about Zombie God. That just sounds like bad news for everybody.

I hope I’ve answered all your questions.

Yes, Isaac. Yes, it did. A very big thank-you to Isaac and his wonderful publicists for allowing this post to happen. If you haven’t already, check out the Warm Bodies giveaway–you still have a few hours to enter. And if you can’t wait that long, then visit Amazon (or your favorite ebook retailer) and download yourself a copy because that book rocks. It’s filled with zombies.

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April 17

Comments: 4

Giveaway: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

by Ann-Katrina

Warm Bodies coverI mentioned it last month, but now the time has finally arrived. I’m giving away a copy of Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies, a twisted and surprisingly poignant zombie love story. Trust me, this is a book you want to read.

Marion uses excellent, sometimes poetic and often hilarious, prose to tell the story of ‘R’, a zombie trying to make sense of his existence. When he eats the brain of a man named Perry, he begins to experience Perry’s memories. Part of those memories include Perry’s girlfriend Julie. ‘R’ subsequently saves Julie and what happens next is an inexplicable connection that will have you glued to the pages.

Well, enough gushing about the book, on to the giveaway details. Rather than have the standard “leave a comment” to enter, I’m mixing things up a bit. For this giveaway, I’d like you to write a zombie haiku!

Yep. You read right. A zombie haiku. To enter, leave a comment with your haiku below.

In case you aren’t sure what a haiku is, it’s a short poem consisting of 3 lines. The first line contains 5 syllables, the second 7 syllables, and the final 5 syllables. Your haiku can be poignant or funny, gross or silly, just have fun with it. No profanity, please. Or, if you absolutely must include a profane word for effect, euphemize it. (Example: s**t.) Thanks.

This giveaway will run until 11:59PM EST April 26, 2011. You can enter as many haikus as you can write (however, duplicate or obviously spam haikus will not be eligible). For extra entries, you can also tweet about this giveaway or blog about it—just make sure to come back and leave a comment with a link to your tweet or blog post.

All entrants must use a legitimate email address (otherwise they’ll be no way to contact you if you win). If you do not have a website or blog, leave the space for a URL blank.

To finish up, there are a couple stipulations: You must be at least 13 years old to enter and the giveaway is open to those with a U.S. mailing address. And if you have any questions, just ask.

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March 25

Comments: 2

My Stack of Books Going into the Weekend, Planned Giveaways, and Currently Reading

by Ann-Katrina

Typically I’d do a recent arrivals post for each of the books, but this past week has been very good to me in the book department, so I’m just going to do up a collective post and then publish book notes/teasers as I read through each title. :D Sound good? Hooray!

The Dead-Tossed Waves Cover Last year I read, and reviewed, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. Although I didn’t care too much for Mary’s character, I did enjoy the intrigue and the world created.

When I was in my local Borders wishing them a heartrending farewell (sniff, sniff) I found The Dead-Tossed Waves on sale and I couldn’t resist. The reason I even waited so long was because I knew this book probably wouldn’t tell me anything I wanted to know about the Sisterhood.

Then I got to thinking, hey, I could be wrong. Maybe it’s going to be connected somehow and it will be like a slow reveal of how the zombie apocalypse in their world came to be. So I grabbed it and it’s officially in my TBR stack.

Animorphs The Invasion CoverAnimorphs The Visitors Cover Then there are the wonderful elves as Scholastic who somehow seem to read my mind and send me books I start drooling over the moment I open up the package. Animorphs!! With lenticular covers! (Yes, I’m easily amused.) I remember reading K. A. Applegate way back in the day, so receiving these books made me smile–okay, I also did a snoopy dance, too.

Behind the Gates Cover I also received a promising dystopian urban sci-fi novel called Behind the Gates (Tomorrow Girls Book 1) by Eva Gray. When I read the back cover, I was curious, but shrugged. Then I read the actual release and thought, hey, this could be good.  And then I read the first chapter and thought, I need to move this up the TBR pile.

But let us not forget about the Simon & Schuster elves who also seem to have these amazing mind-reading powers and sent me books that made me pause and say, hmmm.

Stay Cover Deb Caletti is a brand-new-to-me author, but when I read the back cover for Stay, I knew I’d be in for an emotional ride. It may even hit a little close to home. Must start mental preparations now.

Between Here and Forever Cover The other book was Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott. This will be my third official Elizabeth Scott book.

The first one I read was The Unwritten Rule, which was fun and light and touching. It was filled with teen angst and drama and discovering oneself. Basically, I enjoyed it and it’s a great way to pass a lazy afternoon.

Then I just recently finished Living Dead Girl and…words…I don’t have any. I was not prepared at all for what laid between the virtual covers of that book (I read the ebook*). When I realized how jarring a read it was, I wanted to stop so I could set my head on straight, but I couldn’t because if I did and went to sleep, I would have nightmares. Finishing wasn’t any better. (Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad big, the subject matter is just…again, words fail me.)

The differences between those two books was vast, but it gave me a whole new respect for Ms. Scott. She’s an automatic must-read author for me now and having finished the first chapter of Between Here and Forever, I know to be prepared for a roller-coaster of emotions.

So, to sum up, here’s what I received this week laid out in a neat list:

I can’t believe it’s almost the end of March and I haven’t done a single giveaway yet. I must rectify that. In fact, I think I’m going to overcompensate for my lack of contests.

Warm Bodies Cover Coming up next month I’ll be holding a giveaway for Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion (oh my goodness am I excited about this one–and crossing my fingers that Mr. Marion will do a guest blog) thanks to the wonderful Mellony at Simon & Schuster.

Radiance CoverI’ll also be giving away my soft cover copy of Radiance by Alyson Noel. One thing I love about this book is the deckle edge paper. Definitely a nice touch, not to mention a good read.

Abandon Cover On the list of books up for giveaway is my ARC for Abandon by Meg Cabot. I have so much to talk about with that book, but I’m holding off until the official release next month. Until then, you can check out my scant book notes on the recent arrivals post.

Finally, I’ll officially be announcing my comment rewards. What are comment rewards? Well, a while ago I mentioned an idea of rewarding those who visit my blog by selecting a random commenter whenever comment milestones are reached. The commenter can then select a book from the comment rewards bookshelf.

Any comment, past or present, is game. Commenters just need to use a valid email address when commenting (no, I will not spam you or subscribe you to any mailing list and such) and are over the age of 13 (privacy thing–in case you win). Comment rewards will be open internationally.

Beastly Cover To close up, since this post is now becoming rather unwieldy, after watching a recent preview for the movie Beastly, and seeing that it was based on a book by Alex Flinn, I trotted my happy behind over to the library website and (thank goodness a copy was available) downloaded the ebook. I’m just over halfway finished and have mixed feelings.

On one hand, I love the tweak on the classic story, but on the other I’m not loving the lack of a nod to Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, or even Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, though a number of other fairytale creators (Hans Christian Andersen, The Brothers Grimm) and fairytale characters receive such nods (unless, of course, the Madames’ nods are through all the discussion of French literature–but maybe there will be a more discernable one in later chapters).

Also I’m not entirely thrilled with some of the character development and prose—sometimes it feels as though she’s talking down to her audience. But I’ll save that for an actual review though.

For now, I shall leave you to enjoy your weekend. Have fun, be safe, and don’t forget to read a book or two.

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