Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bloody Anna is a Bloody Good Read

Anna Dressed in Blood is one of the most original, deeply creepy and engrossing novels I’ve read recently.  The story certainly lives up to the eeriness of the cover art and is an interesting mix of supernatural horror and forbidden attraction.

High school student Cas Lowood has spent the last several years hunting ghosts, carrying on the family tradition that resulted in the death of his father.  The reader is introduced to Cas while he is on the trail of a ghostly hitchhiker who sends cars off the bridge and into the river where his body was dumped.  That “kill” is ordinary and Cas quickly starts looking for the next specter causing trouble.  When Cas hears about Anna Dressed In Blood, who has been haunting and killing since the 1950s and he feels compelled to investigate.  But none of his experience has prepared him for the reality of Anna and when Cas actually comes face-to-face with her all bets are off.

I’ll be honest – this book actually gave me a few nightmares.  Not because of Anna; she is intriguing and tormented and freaky yes, but there is another character that I truly gave me the chills.  Readers will feel compelled to finish this book in one sitting so as not to be too overcome by the death-by-ghost possibilities.  Kendare Blake is a talented writer who’s second novel bursts onto the YA Paranormal scene with a bewitching tale.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pinocchio...Vampire Slayer?

Everyone knows the story of the Pinocchio the wooden puppet that wanted to be a “real boy”.  But Disney never got his hands on this part of the tale.  Vampires roam Italy haunting small villages and causing strings of “mysterious disappearances”.  Geppetto has been murdered by these vampires leaving Pinocchio to protect the disbelieving villagers.  The wooden boy is aided by Master Cherry, an aged (and somewhat arthritic) Blue Fairy and the ghost of a well-intentioned but very annoying cricket Pinocchio stomped upon long ago. 

Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer uses limited color to convey the dark nature of the story as well as highlight action, bad guys and important plot points.  The overall effect is of a dark, monochromatic Italy shot through with bursts of violence. Though the general tone of the novel is rather Grimm, there are certain moments of hilarity throughout this graphic novel such as when Pinocchio tells outrageous lies to make his nose grow only to break of the end of his nose, employing it as a stake to kill vampires.  (At which point I burst out laughing while reading.)
Pinocchio returns to his roots in this much darker and more interesting than is typically recounted fairy-tale revamp. Readers be prepared for action, humor, vampire slaying galore and an unexpected twist that will leave you shocked and desperately awaiting the second installation.

THIS AUTHOR WILL BE AT TEENBOOKCON 2012!  Check out http://www.teenbookcon.org/ for details.

Recommended for Readers of:

Friday, January 20, 2012

Looking Back for Future Inspiration

Rarely do modern movies have the charm and emotional draw of classic films.  All too often is seems as though plot and character development give way to special effects or big explosions.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy explosions and blue skinned aliens as much as the next movie goer but I also recognize that the entertainment value of the modern film is much more evanescent than in years past.  In another twenty years will people deliberately seek out ‘Halloween’ the remake? Or ‘Knocked Up’?  Doubtful.

But every now and then a true gem of a film comes along that renews my faith in the creative genius of filmmakers and screenwriters.  Last weekend I had the pleasure of watching ‘The Artist’ directed by Michel Hazanavicius.  ‘The Artist’ follows the life of George Valentin, silent film star, at the advent of “talkies” (movies with spoken dialogue) and how, resistant to the change he slides perilously close to obscurity.  All the while he watches young ingĂ©nue, Peppy Miller, shoot to top billing of the new-style film. 

This movie is modeled after the silent films of the 1920s and I was fascinated by how much emotion and expression could be conveyed without audible dialogue.  It’s been four days now and I am still replaying scenes in my mind and finding new aspects of the film to admire.  I highly recommend to anyone looking for a unique movie-going experience.

Friday, January 13, 2012

What does MLK, Jr Day mean to you?

Dr. King was one of the most motivational and powerful men involved in the Civil Rights Movement. Even though his life was cut short the energy and good will generated by his actions survived and fueled changes that have made America a better place.

Take a moment and think about what This holiday means to you.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Recent Read: High School of the Dead Vol. 1 & 3

Ditch High School of the Dead,
read Zombie Loan instead.

I recently came across High School of the Dead in my library and, intrigued by the cover, sat down to read the two volumes checked in [volumes 1 & 3].  The first volume has promise and starts with a bang as students barricade themselves at the top of the high school's observatory (no explanation as to why a high school has an observatory).  Why the barricade?  Because in two hours the walking and rather vicious dead have taken over the town.  As with many manga the reader must take the premise with minimal question, however this one stretches the limits of my willful suspension of disbelief.
Gore, pantie shots, and women drawn to look like they have footballs hidden in their bras abound.  In many ways the drawing reminds me of something you would see in hentai featuring a tentacle monster.  And the plot (such as it is) leaves much to be desired.
Score = 1 Star
Overall not worth reading.  If you're looking for good zombie manga check out Zombie Loan.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dystopia Rising

Sorry for the unexpected brake in posting – like many of my friends, I spent the New Year and most of the first week of 2012 at home drinking hot tea and waiting for my throat to stop feeling as though it were filled with crushed glass. [We have apparently been passing plague around.]  Anyhow, I am back among the living-if-not-truly-well so back to sharing my rambles with the world. :D

I know it has been discussed quite often, but I am fascinated by the rise in dystopian literature targeted toward the YA audience.  What, exactly, is the appeal of reading about a world where society, and sometimes the planet, has collapsed?  Does it make readers feel better about the state of the current world?  Personally, I am an escapist reader and I always have certain reservations about reading dystopian lit.  If I’m reading to escape the bad in my own life why would I want to read about a world come apart at the seams?  But the allure is there.  I believe it is something of the “what if” factor; people love to play at knowing how they would react in a certain situation.

My two favorite dystopian novels of 2011 were: 
Wither by Lauren Destefano
& Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Why do you (or don’t you) read Dystopias?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

What're You Resolved to Do?

January 1st.  2012.  A whole NEW year.  What will you make of it?

Many people make resolutions for the New Year, grand plans that will make their life better (usually just for themselves, but sometimes for people around them as well).  I tend not to be one of those souls.  It isn't that I don't appreciate the importance of resolutions, or even that I just don't think I can keep them.  In my mind, New Year is a lot like Valentine's Day (which I find a bit ironic since if you really love someone they should be aware of that affection more than once a year) - one day of the year to look forward with hope and make a resolution, or several, to enact a change that will improve your life.

But why should that only happen once a year?  

Shouldn't you make resolutions on a weekly if not daily basis?  Shouldn't you're plan be to improve your situation and that of the people around you?  Weight loss is a big resolution for many people: "I resolve to loose weight this year", but how much better would it be to resolve to engage the people around you in active pursuits?  Instead of resolving to loose weight why not resolve to ask your neighbor to go on a walk through the neighborhood, or see if a coworker is interested in doing a light workout a couple nights of the week after work?  That way you are helping someone else as well as yourself.  And helping others is one of the most uplifting things a person can do.  One of the best cures for depression (a mental state that is just as common as resolutions this time of year) is to HELP SOMEONE ELSE.  Focus outside of your own Self and spend energy on Another Person.  If we all look to reach out to Someone Else think of how much better your life would become.  You may learn new skills, find a bosom companion, avert a fellow human being from falling into the darkness of despair and disillusionment.  Few actions on this earth hold as much power as those that cause you to interact with your fellow humans.

Sometimes all you need to realize this is to look around and see the people around you reaching out a hand.  Sometimes you will be the reaching hand, sometimes not - everyone plays both rolls at different points in their lives.  But here is the basic truth:

You are not alone.  You do not exist in a vacuum.  Your choices and actions impact the people around you.  So, what is your resolution?