Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

August 17

Comments: 7

Sunday Salon: It’s Official, There is No Escape From Sparkly Vampires and Sunday Sketch

by Ann-Katrina

Thirst No. 1 Cover Remember how I said I grabbed a copy of Thirst (No. 1) by Christopher Pike because I thought I wouldn’t have to contend with any sparkly vampires? I believe I may have spoken a bit too soon.

“As I climb in my stolen vehicle, I notice that my arms and hands are glowing with a faint white light. The effect stuns me. My face is also glowing! In fact, all my exposed skin shines with the same iridescence as the full moon, which hangs low in the sky in the direction of Las Vegas.” Thirst No. 1 – pg. 450

While it’s not sparkling in the daylight a la Twilight, it’s still an iridescent vampire. A sparkly glowing rainbow vampire. I mean really? REALLY?!?

Not to give out any major spoilers, but it gets even more bizarre than that (hint: levitation). I can almost hear that gossamer thread suspending my disbelief crying out in pain.

The first book, The Last Vampire, was a breeze to read and I rather enjoyed it. The second book, Black Blood, took a bit of a nosedive compared to the first book (the voice changed completely), but pulled itself together and my hope was salvaged. The third book, Red Dice, is the one that happens to be tugging on my nerves in the worst way, but I’m hoping it will go the way of the second book and salvage itself. I don’t have much hope after the whole iridescent levitating vampire thing, though.

One problem, however, that I see throughout the books is the random romances. I can almost understand love at first sight and I understand why they’re necessary (they actually drive Sita’s personal story of self discovery forward), but they don’t properly fit and they are a major weakness to the entire story.

I started out loving this book, now I only like it. *sigh*

Sunday Sketch

There were three characters that I thought about drawing—Sita, Yaksha, or Krishna—but settled on Sita because it is her story after all.


This was a super quick sketch and I added hints of color to the eyes and lips because those were the two areas she usually focused on in the book—her powerful eyes and how she could seduce people by altering her voice.

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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.


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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June 18

Comments: 1

Blacklisted by Gena Showalter Book Notes and Sunday Sketch (yes, I know it’s not Sunday yet)

by Ann-Katrina

Blacklisted by Gena Showalter I finished reading Gena Showalter’s Blacklisted on Tuesday, and I wanted to publish a few book notes. Think of this like a flash review until I can publish the extended edition.

When I was about 9/10ths of the way through this book, I realized that it was a sequel to Red Handed, which was sitting on my bookshelf—unread. That was definitely a *facepalm* moment if I do say so myself. So, if you already have Red Handed, read that one first.

Aside from reading the book out of order, I enjoyed my little detour.

  • The action never stopped. It seemed that Camille and Erik were always being chased, shot at, and when they weren’t Camille was getting a little action of her own. (There were a couple scenes which would definitely place this book on the 16+ list.)
  • The characters were well-drawn, if not a little stereotypical. I would have preferred, however, if Camille’s cowardice and goodie-two-shoes-ness was shown more clearly in her actions before we got to see the brave, strong Camille that she never realized she could be. But it was no big. I also wish the bad guys had been a little badder. (Eh hem, I’m looking at some of those A.I.R. agents.)
  • Reading it made me reminisce about old Alien Nation episodes that I used to watch as a kid. Yes, folks, I just admitted that I watched Alien Nation. The concept of aliens inhabiting the earth alongside humans has always been intriguing to me and the thing that I loved about both the series and this book was that it didn’t sugarcoat it. It showed some of the tribulations that different species might encounter as a result of simply being different.
  • There were more editing mistakes than I’d expected. The book started off strong, with an easy flow, then all of a sudden, errors started cropping up. The errors seemed random and gave the book the feel that it was a rush to complete and get to print. While it didn’t detract entirely from the story, there were more than a few moments when I had to stop and re-read a sentence because I thought my mind was playing a trick on me.

Put plainly, I had no idea what to expect with this book, but was pleasantly surprised. It’s a great lazy day read when you just want to kill a few hours.

And since I won’t be reading this title for my Sunday Salon post, I won’t be able to use this sketch for my Sunday Sketch. Rather than let it languish, I’ve decided to include it here.

This is my interpretation of Kitten, one of the A.I.R. agents that took on Camille and Erik.

Kitten - AIR Agent from Blacklisted

I have no idea why I chose to draw Kitten—in fact, I didn’t even know I was drawing her until I was done. I really wanted to draw Cara or Erik, but never quite got around to it…maybe while I’m reading Red Handed.

(Sorry about the image bleed-through. I sketch in my Moleskine notebook and these particular pages are thin.)

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June 14

Comments: 3

A New Feature (Maybe)

by Ann-Katrina

Yesterday, I found a new-to-me blog called Between Fact and Fiction and I instantly fell in love. Natalie has a regular feature called Saturday Sketch where she displays her (awesome) sketches. From what I’ve seen so far, her sketches vary between characters in her novels and stories, characters in other books and stories that she’s read, and a few other surprises in between.

Angelica Seeing this, I was not only blown away by her talent, but I was inspired to dust off my own artistic skills which I’d kept locked away since high school. Specifically, it was her post on practice that gave me the idea–I’d love to start my own regular art feature here at Today, I Read… (and possibly at Today, I Wrote…, which I’ve been totally slacking on, but that’s going to change soon).

Getting back to drawing (and watercolor painting) is something I’ve been meaning to do for a very long time. Plus, I’ve been meaning to keep up on my Sunday Salon posting, so doing a Sunday Sketch feature would help. (Saturdays are too busy for me, plus I’ll be too busy checking out Natalie’s sketches. Sundays are the days that I usually lounge around reading and pretending to get things done.)

To help me practice and refine my hand-eye coordination, I’ll start sketching the characters of the book I’m reading and publish with my Sunday Salon post. Maybe one day, I’ll be able to look back at my first sketch and laugh.

* The picture above is a 5-minute sketch I did around 2 o’clock this morning (couldn’t sleep). It’s the MC in a short story I’m writing called The History of Objects. It was drawn in my Moleksine notebook, which has off-white pages and, since I felt lazy, I took the picture with my web cam, so please excuse the picture quality. I promise to avoid laziness for future sketches.

** I owe a huge thank you to Natalie for the idea and inspiration, however, Natalie, if you have any problem with this whatsoever, please let me know.

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June 7

Comments: 3

Sunday Salon: YA Books Galore, Dark Thrills, and The Great Perhaps

by Ann-Katrina

The Sunday Salong Welcome to another edition of the Sunday Salon…

I’ve been slacking in my Sunday Salon blogging duties, but that’s because my life has been hectic. It’s no excuse, I know. That’s why I’ve resolved to do my Sunday Salon each week unless I have a better excuse. :)

And to make up for my slacking ways, this week, I’ll start you off with a little contest news.

Every day this month a new YA title will be given away to mark the release of Giving Up the V by Serena Robar.

Giving Up the V by Serena Robar What’s So Wrong With Waiting?

Spencer Davis just turned sixteen. But unlike most hormonal teenagers who seem obsessed with sex — like her entire crew of friends — Spencer just doesn’t get it. She’d rather wait for the right guy and the right moment. But that moment may be arriving sooner than she’d thought.

Enter Benjamin Hopkins, a new transfer student who seems to have his eyes on our V-card-carrying heroine. He’s gorgeous, funny, suave, athletic, and capable of making Spencer’s knees wobble with a single glance. Spencer has never felt this way about anyone before, but is Ben truly V-worthy?

Those who like to be winners or just want a chance to nab some darn fine YA literature should head over to Serena’s website and sign up for the newsletter to enter.

Dark Thrills

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn I’ve finished reading Dark Places by Gillian Flynn and let me just say what a ride. On one hand, I absolutely adored her prose and evocative descriptions. You could feel and taste the words coming right off the page. On the other hand, I absolutely disliked every one of the characters. I had sympathy for some, yes, but little more than that.

None of them had any redeeming qualities, which was surprising as there were plenty of characters in that book. It needed at least one person who wasn’t utterly broken on some level to help balance it. Lyle came close, but still missed the mark.

For that reason alone, this book wasn’t on my favorites list. In fact, it was enough to bump this book from “loved it” status to just plain “liked it.” The full review will be online next week. I’m letting it marinate in draft right now.

The Great Perhaps

I’ve read the first two chapters of three books: Swoon by Nina Malkin, Bad Things by Michael Marshall, and The Great Perhaps by Joe Meno.

Swoon has potential and it was planned as my next big read, until I saw that not everyone was pleased with its execution. (After reading Karissa’s review, I went to Amazon and saw that it was a general consensus.) It put a slight damper on my excitement to read it. Mind you, I’m still excited to read it, but I’m afraid it won’t live up to all the hype I’ve built in my own mind. Best solution? Set it aside and read a couple books, then come back to it when I’ve let that hype dwindle a bit.

After reading the first page of Bad Things, I thought the writing was a bit too dry for my liking, but I’m so intrigued by the storyline that I know I’ll finish it. Thank goodness the writing picked up around the tenth page. But I set it aside so I could finish Dark Places, which had a writing style that gripped me from page one.

The Great Perhaps Finally, The Great Perhaps beckoned and surprisingly, it was quite easy to answer its call. The writing style is fluid and easy. The characters, from page one, are so quirky that it’s almost impossible not to connect in some way. They’re all flawed, mind you, but they almost seem normal. (Odd when you consider the father has a seizure each time he sees a cloud or thinks he sees a cloud and one of their daughters wants to build a bomb for her science project.)

And that’s where I am. Next on my reading list has been decided: The Great Perhaps by Joe Meno. Chances are it will be finished within the next couple of days, the writing’s that smooth.

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