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Drawn to the Dead

By Jinx. Posted in Jinx | No Comments »

Despite my love of all things supernatural, I am kind of a wimp when it comes to scary movies. I seriously hide under covers and find myself asking whoever I am watching with if it’s safe to look. I don’t do gore, and I am a total scaredy-cat. Even being an admitted Nervous Nelly when it comes to horror, I love reading about serial killers. One of my favorite non-fiction books is Portrait of a killer: Jack the Ripper, Case Closed by Patricia Cornwell. That book is seriously awesome (she looks at evidence and comes to her own conclusion on who actually committed the Jack the Ripper murders), but I’m getting off topic. I think serial killers are fascinating and terrifying all at once.

So, imagine you have the ability to find dead bodies, particular those who have met their end in unnatural ways. Now, imagine that your small town suddenly finds itself in the hands of a serial killer and you are drawn to the bodies of the victims. This is what happens to Violet Ambrose in, “The Body Finder,” by Kimberly Derting.

Violet is a mostly normal high school junior. Her biggest worry is dealing with her growing crush on her best friend Jay. Well, and the fact that she finds dead bodies. The “echoes” that she feels around the dead are usually of small animals that have been killed by cats or other creatures. When a serial killer starts killing in her town Violet feels compelled to help find the killer.

Violet is an amazing character. She’s strong, way stronger than I would be with her psychic ability. Even when she is faced with finding the bodies of someone horrifically murdered she is able to stay sane and strong. I also love Violets interactions with Jay. He’s her best friends, but lately she has been feeling more than friendly towards him. She doesn’t know what to do with these growing feelings.

Along with Violet, Derting also gives the reader insight into the mind of the serial killer. These passages are so creepy, yet really lend an interesting element to the story. I liked reading Violet’s more innocent voice alongside the thoughts of a heartless killer. Like, I said, so creepy.

I found this book haunting, chilling, and sweet all at once.  I just visited the Goodreads page for this book and read other reviews and was surprised to find that many people REALLY hated it. (If you aren’t familiar with Goodreads you should be! It’s social networking for book lovers!) So, if you have read this book, let me know if you liked it or not. Why or why not? I really loved it and couldn’t wait to read the sequels (Desires of the Dead, The Last Echo, and Dead Silence ) as soon as I finished it.

Haven’t read it but want to know more? Check out an excerpt here.





The Cost of Wishes

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“It wasn’t like in the storybooks. No witches lurked at crossroads disguised as crones, waiting to reward travelers who shared their bread. Genies didn’t burst from lamps, and talking fish didn’t bargain for their lives. In all the world, there was only one place humans could get wishes: Brimstone’s shop. And there was only one currency he accepted. It wasn’t gold, or riddles, or kindness, or any other fairy-tale nonsense, and no, it wasn’t souls either. It was weirder than any of that.

It was teeth. “

In Laini Taylor’s, Daughter of Smoke and Bone,” Karou has grown up with an interesting set of adoptive parents. She knows nothing of where she comes from. What she does know is that she has been lovingly, if weirdly, raised by Brimstone and the other chimaera, who despite their outward appearances as monsters were loving pseudo-parents. Karou knows she has a weird life, running errands for Brimstone trading teeth for wishes, but she doesn’t know anything of her past, or of Brimstones life beyond the door she isn’t allowed to open. When an angel shows up in Karou’s life everything is about to change.

This is one of those books that has been on my periphery for awhile. I kept hearing how good it was. Friends loved it. It was different, they said. Beautifully written, they said. I read the jacket cover and thought to myself, “Meh, it sounds all right.” Then I finally read it.

Wow. I can’t begin to describe how much I loved this book (and the sequel Days of Blood and Starlight. The third book, Dreams of Gods and Monsters is scheduled to be released in April of 2014- way too far away in my opinion.) The writing is beautiful. It’s lyrical and graceful, even when talking about terrible things. The story is truly original. I feel like I can’t say too much because I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say this: If you haven’t read this book, DO IT NOW! You won’t be disappointed.

Want a preview. Check out an excerpt here.

Have you read it? What did you think? Did you love it as much as I did?





Alice’s Adventures in Zombieland

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One of my favorite college classes was an English class taught by a science fiction fanatic. It was a composition class (research papers and whatnot), and we had to watch science fiction movies and read science fiction books. Watching the Matrix was an actual assignment. So, when it came time to write my final research paper I compared the Matrix to Alice in Wonderland. (Seriously, if you have ever read “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There” you need to compare it to the Matrix. The Rabbit hole? Different colored pills that do weird things to your body? The Cohen Brothers were totally stealing from Lewis Carroll when they wrote the Matrix).

“Alice in Wonderland” has always been one of my favorite books. The Disney movie is a little trippy, but I like it too. In fact, I was pretty excited to meet Alice and the White Rabbit at Disney World a few years ago.

alice and the white rabbit

Of course, we all know I also love anything supernatural so when I saw, “Alice in Zombieland,” by Gena Showalter I HAD to check it out!

alice in zombieland cover

I’ll admit, I was expecting something along the lines of “Price and Prejudice and Zombies” where the Zombies are just carefully added to the existing text of the book. Instead, Showalter’s Alice doesn’t really have anything in common with the classic Alice other than the name. I was OK with that! In “Alice in Zombieland,” Alice has grown up with a father who is terrified of the monsters only he can see. After her families tragic deaths Alice learns her father wasn’t as crazy as she thought. The monsters are real, and someone has to stop them from harming more innocent people.

Alice finds herself drawn to a rough group of kids at her new school. Are they really as bad as people say or are they fighting something more nefarious than other kids? Can she help them rid their town of the ghost zombies that plagued her father?

I LOVED this book. It had everything a nerd like me could ask for. A few “Alice in Wonderland” references, a new twist on zombies, sassy best friends, and a mysterious bad boy. I can’t wait for the second book in this series to come out.

What do you think? Does it sound like something you would enjoy?





Libriomancer- Magic in Books

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Have you ever founds yourself so engrossed in a book that you felt like you were there? Have you had that feeling where you could smell the surroundings, like you could reach out and touch a character or an object? Have you experienced that moment where the book is so real you feel like you are truly transported to a new time and place? Well, if you have, you might be a libriomancer.

In Jim Hines book, Libriomancer are men and woman with magical powers can use magic to pull object directly from books. Isaac Vainio is one of these magicians. He belongs to a secret group called the Die Zwelf Portenære (The twelve Porters or just The Porters). Porters can use magic to pull objects from books. Isaac is a cataloguer for the Porters, classifying books that have magical potential. His life is pretty quiet until a group of Meyerii Vampires (AKA Sparklers) show up at his library and demand information on why the Porters and hunting vampires. Isaac finds himself thrown into a weird war between the Porters and Vampires, armed only with his magic, his fire spider Smudge, and the wood nymph Lena who comes to his aid.

There are so many reasons to love this book. Here are the top 7 reasons you should read Libriomancer.

  1. It’s set in Michigan – Jim Hines is a Michigan Author and this books jumps from the UP to Lansing to Detroit with other locals in between. It’s fun to read a book where you are familiar with the setting.
  2. The Vampires- There are two camps of magical creatures. Those who are made and those who are created. Most of the vampires in the world are the created kinds who rise to being through books. The vampires that initially come after Isaac are relatively new vampires called Meyerii (or Sparklers) which came into being from the Twilight series.
  3. The nerd references- Isaac is a science fiction geek. Throughout this book are references to Dr. Who, Firefly, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Sherlock Holmes, and many other great books and TV series. I am a total nerd at heart, so I loved all the geeky references.
  4. Johannes Gutenberg- Once again, I am a nerd. In college I took a class called, “The History of the Book,” for fun.  Of course, the history of the book starts with Gutenberg and his creation of a printing press with moveable type. Gutenberg’s invention allowed books to be mass produced far cheaper than previously which allowed books to be more widely distributed. In Libriomancer, Gutenberg is the founder of The Porters and still rules over the magicians. I loved all the references to history and the printing press.
  5. Ponce De Leon- Like Gutenberg, this one pulls at my love for history. Most of you will remember De Leon from History as the guy who tried to find the fountain of youth. Well, in this book he not only found it, but used to make himself immortal. Now he’s a powerful sorcerer who doesn’t get along with Gutenberg but is a kind of ally to Isaac. I love the idea of this decades old explorer serving as a magical adviser.
  6. Smudge- Smudge is a magical fire spider. He’s like a hairy, eight legged, combustible guard dog. And he eats candy which is just cute.
  7. Isaac is a librarian- Ok, this one is a purely selfish reason to love the book. But, as a librarian it makes me happy. My absolute favorite line in the entire book occurs while Isaac is using his librarian skills to find answers the other Porters hadn’t been able to find. “I was a pretty good libriomancer, but I was a damn good librarian.”

If you want to check out the book you can read the first chapter here for free. If you are a total book nerd, you’ll love this one. What would you pull from a book if you were a libriomancer (there are rules- you can only pull something that can fit through the book). Personally, I would be raiding Weasly Wizards Wheezes from Harry Potter. Think of the pranks you could pull with some of those? How about you? What would you pull from a book?





Love/Hate and Shatter Me

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Do you ever read a book and can’t decide if you liked it or hated it? I am totally feeling that way over Tahereh Mafi’s book Shatter Me.

I actually really liked the premise. Juliette has spent nearly a year in solitary confinement because her touch is poison. Anytime she touches someone she causes terrible pain, and can even cause death. Her solitary existence is soon interrupted by a young man named Adam. Adam works for the dictatorship, The Reestablishment. The Reestablishment believes that Juliette could be a weapon in the new world, but Juliet just wants to be a normal girl, and maybe to be with Adam.

I liked all of that. It sounded interesting (even if Juliette’s power was a little too much of an X-Men rip off for my liking, can anyone else say, “Rogue.”) My problem with this book is twofold: 1) Juliette and 2) The writing.

Juliette isn’t really all that likeable of a character. She’s a little whiny. She’s needy, she’s sickly. She is forever falling down or fainting or whining about falling down or fainting. Sure, she’s had a touch love being a Rogue-wannabe and being locked away in an insane asylum for nearly a year, but still she could have a little more backbone.

Then there is the writing. The book is told through Juliette’s diary which is riddled with words sentences that she has crossed out because she doesn’t like what she wrote. At one point there are several pages filled with crossed out words. It made me want to throw the book cook the book in the microwave have a bonfire with the book run over the book with my car until it couldn’t hurt anyone ever again. I hope you can see how annoying that can be. The book is also filled with metaphors that leave much to be desired. Here is one such metaphor: “Hate looks like everybody else until it smiles. Until it spins around and lies with lips and teeth carved into semblance of something too passive to punch.” Really? That’s what you’re purposefully writing Mafi?

Overall, I’m really torn. I liked Adam and the antagonist of the story, The Reestablishment leader Warner was actually a great character. He was well developed and actually interesting. I liked the dystopian aspects of the book too. It’s set in a not too distant world where pollution and climate change and who knows what else have destroyed the world so completely that the people were begging dictators to take it over and make the world better. The premise of this story was pretty good; I just don’t think the end result is worth it.

This is the first book in a trilogy. Book Two, Unravel Me, is due out in February of 2013 and I haven’t decided if I want to read it. What do you think? Have you read this book, other books that you liked/hated at the same time?





The Great Debate- Kade VS Devlen

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Have you ever met an author that you love? A few years ago I was lucky enough to meet the fantastic and talented Maria V Snyder when she came to speak at the Dorsch Memorial Library. Maria has written several fantastic series including the Study Series (read Elizabites Fancy’s review of the first book Poison Study here), as well as the Inside out series (read my review here), and the Glass series- Storm Glass, Sea Glass, and Spy Glass (which I will be telling you all about in a few short paragraphs- be patient!) She was hosted by the friends of the library, along with the book club.

That evening, after her fantastic presentation, our book club held a pot-luck dinner in her honor. It was awesome. It was an evening filled with great food, great friends, a wonderful author, and one very heated argument.

Yes, I did just say argument. You see, at the time the Glass series wasn’t completed, and we were very torn on the course the books should take. So what were we fighting about?

The first book in the series introduces us to Opal Cowan, a young magician-in-training who is also a skilled glass blower. She is asked to help the Stormdancers (those powerful magicians who harness the power of storms and keep the rest of the realm safe from dangerous weather) solve who has been damaging the orbs they create to contain the storms powers. In the first book she meets Kade. In the first book she also meets Devlen.

Kade is a sweet Stormdancer. Devlen is a criminal with a very awful past. As the series progresses Opal finds herself drawn to both men, which brings us to our fight. Kade or Devlen.

We spent a great deal of time arguing over who Opal should end up with by the end of the series. Mary V. Snyder sat and listened to us with a pleased smile on her face and refused to give us any hints. At the end of the evening she told us how great it was to listen to us fight about one of her books.

I love this series. It’s fast paced, light-hearted, and engaging enough to turn grown adults into arguing fools! If you need more convincing that you should read these books- read this excerpt from Storm Glass.





Hunting Ghosts

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Every Christmas my mom and aunt would spend weeks baking. They made cookies, breads, candies, all sorts of sugary confections. One day mom came home from a marathon baking session looking shaken and visibly pale. “I saw your Aunt Alice today.” She told me. You may be asking yourself what is so special about seeing my aunt? Well, at the time my aunt had been dead for ten years, so she wasn’t someone we expected to show up at the baking party. My mom said she looked into the living room from the kitchen and saw Alice just floating through the room. She said she was in a blue dress and just looked as though she was walking from one room to another. Following her wake was the pungent scent of cigarette smoke (she was a heavy smoker), even though no one in the house smoked.

This sort of thing happened regularly in my family. I’ve already talked about some of the weird happenings of my aunt and uncle’s home and my love for ghosts when I talked about Ruined.

I’ve always been fascinated with ghost stories, partly because I’ve always believed in ghosts, and partly because ghost stories are just great. Hauntings like my aunt and uncle’s are great because they are usually harmless people who just didn’t go wherever we are supposed to go when we die. But, I also love those gruesome ghost stories of urban legend.

I think we all have heard stories about hook handed ghosts killing teenagers in the woods or the ghost of a hitchhiker who kills the unfortunate soul who dares to pick him up. These are the stories of great TV shows and great books.

Ok, I took a long time getting to my point here, but I wanted to point out just how much I love a good ghost story. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake is one of the very best ghost stories I have ever read. The recently released sequel, Girl of Nightmares is just as good.

Cas Lowood is a ghost hunter. He’s not a ghost hunter like the guys from TV who try to take pictures of ghosts, he’s an actual hunter. He has a knife he inherited from his father than can actually kill ghosts. Cas and his mother travel all over the country finding and killing the murderous ghosts of urban legend.

From the very beginning of this book I knew I was in for something special. Cas is an awesome character. He’s smart and witty and the first ghost he kills is a very stereotypical urban legend ghost. When he goes after the mythological Anna Dressed in Blood things get really interesting.

I loved this book (and the sequel) more than any other book I have read recently in part because Blake isn’t afraid to take chances. She is writing a book about vicious ghosts and she lets some crazy things happen to her characters. No one is safe, and I loved that about this book.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite urban legend? Do you think there are homicidal ghosts out there just waiting for a victim? Let me know in the comments.





It’s hard to leave the Underworld

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A few weeks ago Meg Cabot was in Michigan. She was a short car ride away at a book signing in Lansing and I totally missed it. I seriously considered abandoning the library (where I was scheduled) to spend an evening with one of my favorite authors. Alas, I was a good girl and worked even though I REALLY wanted to meet Meg. The only consolation for my disappointment is that instead of abandoning the library I got to spend some time with Meg’s second book in the Abandoned trilogy, Underworld.

Ok, let me start out by saying the first book, Abandon, was probably my least favorite Cabot book of all time (read my review here). I liked the book. Loved the characters. HATED the ending. This is a trilogy, so Cabot really leaves the ending open, and unfortunately, she did the same thing in Underworld.

I think my favorite aspect of this series is still how it echoes the Persephone myth from Greek Mythology. I’m a total nerd for those types of things. I also love in this book that the Greek Myth is mixed with shipwrecks and ghost stories. Some of the new characters introduced in this one are great.

Overall, I did enjoy this book, and I really can’t wait to read the final book to find out what happens to Pierce and John.

Meg had a contest for fans to create their own book trailers for Underworld. Some of them are really cheesy, but I think this one is my favorite.

Have you read the book? What did you think? Interested in learning more? Read chapters one and two for free!





Fantasy for everyone

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My plan here was to talk about Kristin Cashore’s, Bitterblue, which is the third book in her Graceling Realms series. I just realized Alaska talked about the second book, Fire, but we have totally neglected to ever talk about the book that started it all- Graceling!

Graceling takes place in the Seven Kingdoms where there are people who are “graced” with unique abilities. Katsa is graced with the ability to kill. Her Uncle is a king, so he is uses Katsa to punish people within the kingdom that is unhappy with, a use that makes her very unhappy. I LOVE this book. The characters are great and Cashore has built the Seven Kingdoms into a truly amazing world. Many of the places she describes sound awesome.

What I also LOVE about Graceling is that it has universal appeal. The first person to tell me to read this was my friend Paul. Even though the main character is a girl, I know a lot of guys who like this book too. My friend Trevel and I have had many discussions about how much we like this book.

The second book is Fire, which Alaska talked about here. The second book takes place in a geographic location near the Seventh Realm, and some characters are repeated, but for the most part it’s a standalone read.

The third book, Bitterblue, takes place eight years after the end of Graceling. Where Graceling was focused on those with graces, Bitterblue focuses on a young queen as she tries to restore her Kingdom. Just as in Graceling, the characters are great. I really feel like I know some of these people!

If you aren’t sure if you are into fantasy- check out these books. They are fantasy, but I really think they appeal to a lot of people.





Don’t we all want to be princesses?

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Can I admit something? I like Princesses. All of them. I like the pretty ones and the sassy ones. When I was a kid, I think I was torn between wanting to be Cinderella and She-Ra (She-Ra was totally the forerunner. I REALLY wanted to be She-Ra). Here I am in my She-Ra Mask on Christmas. The picture is awful quality, but you can see how happy I am!

And for those of you too young to know who She-Ra is you need to find it on YouTube or rent the DVD’s because this show is amazing. She was He-Man’s sister who was stolen from her parents when she was a child. When she discovers she is a princess she is given the Sword of Protection which makes her super awesome. But, I digress.

Anyway, I like Princesses. I also like Meg Cabot. So, you know I love The Princess Diaries. Today, I thought we would revisit the awesomeness that is the Princess Diaries Series!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with these books, let me fill you in. The main character is Mia Thermopolis. She lives in New York with her artist mom, but her dad is actually the heir to the throne of Genovia. She discovers her dad is a prince when her father learns he can’t have any more children, so Mia has to learn to be a princess from her stern and sophisticated Grandmere.

So, in true Mia fashion, I’m going to tell you the top ten reasons I love this series.

1. Mia is real. Sure, she’s a princess, but she’s also a high school girl with typical high school problems.

2. The books are funny! Mia’s hijinks are great. I can’t even tell you the number of times I have honestly laughed out loud while reading these books.

3. They are fun to read. Seriously, I have a good time reading any of the books in this series.

4. Michael Moscowitz is kind of dreamy (Mia and Michael have some ups and downs in the books, but overall, he’s pretty awesome).

5. Mia’s friends are great. Lilly can be a pain in the bootie, but she’s funny and a loyal friend. Tina is just a lot of fun!

6. I love the way it’s written. Reading Mia’s journal is personal, funny, and engaging. You really do feel like you are reading a note from a friend.

7. Fat Louie!! I want a cat like Fat Louie.

8. Princess Lessons. Grandmere is a little scary, but I kind of want her to teach me how to be a proper lady.

9. The books are WAY better than the movie. The movie is cute, but not the same, and like most things, the books are so much more entertaining.

10. These books are award winners including the ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers award for the first book, which just proves how great these books are.

If you haven’t read these books, I highly recommend you check the first one out and give it a try. By the end of the first book you’ll feel like Mia is your new best friend, and you won’t be able to wait to read more of her story.

Check out an excerpt from the first book here (along with some other info about the first book).

Are you already a Mia Thermopolis fan? Check out her personal website or the Official Website of Genovia.