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29

May

2013

Alice’s Adventures in Zombieland

By Jinx. Posted in Jinx | No Comments »

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?

 

19

Apr

2013

Libriomancer- Magic in Books

By Jinx. Posted in Jinx | No Comments »

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?

 

5

Jun

2012

Fantasy for everyone

By Jinx. Posted in Jinx | No Comments »

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.

 

15

Jul

2011

Steampunk history lesson

By Jinx. Posted in Jinx | 3 Comments »

I borrowed the book, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld from my friend Misty at least a year ago. Probably more like a year and a half. It’s been sitting on my bookshelf patiently waiting for me to decide to read it. Well, I finally did and I’m not sure why I waited so long.

So, why did I really like this book (and its sequel Behemoth. The final book in the trilogy Goliath is being released in September)? Well, first of all, it’s a steampunk retelling of World War I. Not familiar with steampunk? Basically it’s mixing technologies from different eras (or technologies that don’t exist) into a new time frame.

Steampunk is also a design concept in art, which takes mechanical elements and places them into artistic frameworks. My favorite is Steampunk jewelry, like this super cute Steampunk owl I found on the online shop, Etsy.

Ok, so jewelry has nothing do with this book, but how cute is that owl? Anyway, In the case of Leviathan, the setting is the beginning of World War II and the technologies are a mix of genetics and wacky mechanical contraptions. On the British side, we have Darwinists who fly giant genetically created airships made from a multitude of animals. On the German and Austrian sides we have the Clankers who are completely against the Darwinist use of genetically enhanced animals. The Clankers use giant machines they call Walkers as well as other mechanical contraptions. It’s a crazy little world where actual history is mixed with elements of fantasy and science fiction.

It also has one of the coolest characters I have read about in awhile, Deryn Sharp. Deryn is a girl who has always loved flying. After her father’s death she decided to try to join the British Air Service and disguises herself as a boy. She succeeds and soon finds herself on board the Leviathan, a giant airship that consists of the body of a whale along with a menagerie of animals. This is some crazy stuff.

Of course there were things I didn’t love about this book (like how it’s a trilogy, so it just sort of ends). But, overall, I thought this one was a really fun read. Have you read any Steampunk books? What do you like or dislike about the genre? Leave me some comments!

 

22

Sep

2010

The roof is on Fire!

By Alaska. Posted in Alaska | 1 Comment »

So, I just finished Fire by Kristin Cashore and I loved it. But, before we talk about that, let’s talk about one of my new favorite animal characters of all kind: Small. Small is Fire’s horse, and I loved him! I am generally kind of terrified of horses, but I think this is starting to change. I went horseback riding on the beach in Puerto Rico, and really bonded with my horse Bailey. I was afraid of him, but liked him; I think it’s a healthy respect. Here’s a picture, isn’t he cute?

Anyways, after meeting Small, I’ve decided that I need some changes in my life. I think I’d like to live on a ranch with a horse like Small. There’s only one problem. I hate mowing the lawn, so I’m guessing caring for a ranch is a tough job. I’ll obviously need some cowboy friends to take care of it for me. I think I’ll start by volunteering at a horse barn. I need to work out some fears and learn about how much horses poop, I’m guessing more than my dog Mufasa.

Is it wrong that I’m liking animals more than humans lately? First Buttercup, now Small. Remember Buttercup? So precious.

Can you think of any other animal characters that you love? I’m sure Winn-Dixie’s a great dog. I wouldn’t know, I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I haven’t read that one yet. That should probably get me fired, I’ll read it someday. Any other animals from YA books that you know and love?

Back to Fire. I actually listened to this on my iPod with our new audiobook service Overdrive. Check it out here. It’s amazing! You can listen on iPods now or many other devices. I love audiobooks, and I’m wondering if I love them too much. I’m having a hard time deciding if I love a book because the book is good or if I love it because the reader is good and who doesn’t love being read to? There’s something so amazing about being read to, it’s storytime for grownups! I’m hoping that this book is as good as I think it was and the fact that the reader was good is just a bonus.

Fire is actually a prequel to Graceling also by Kristin Cashore and just as amazing as Fire. It doesn’t matter what order you read the books, but read them both, they are fantastic! This book is about a human monster named Fire. She has gorgeous hair that has bright red, gold, even pink in it. It’s very powerful and she has to hide it whenever she leaves the house. Ok, that sounds ridiculous. I’m pretty sure anything I say about this book will sound ridiculous, but it’s not. I don’t even like fantasy books as a rule, but this one is so much more than that. As a monster, Fire has the ability to control people’s minds. Her father used this power in terrible ways, and this book is basically the story of how Fire deals with the consequences of that.

And how amazing was Brigan? Brigan is the commander of the troops and part of the royal family, and I love him. Brigan loves horses as well; perhaps he can come to my ranch in Montana and help me with them. This book actually just won the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award, read about it and the other nominated books here.

 

Are you as excited for the final book in the “Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins as I am? I hope you are. And, if you aren’t excited, or if you somehow don’t know what the heck I am talking about, I would first direct you to read this post, written by me, or this post written by Elizabites Fancy.

Ok, are you up to speed on the awesomeness that is “The Hunger Games?” Here at Kitabu we are SUPER excited (we love this series so much we had to blog about the first book twice!), so in honor of the third book (which will be released in a few short weeks, August 24th to be exact,) we are going to take a look at the second book in the series, “Catching Fire.”

Here’s a warning. If you haven’t read the first book, “The Hunger Games,” you’ll probably want to stop reading now because there is just no way I can talk about the second book without throwing out some spoilers as to how the first book ended. In fact, in just a few sentences I am going to tell you how the book ended, and that is basically the spoiler to end all spoilers.

Ready?

If you haven’t read “The Hunger Games,” turn back now.

I’ll give you a random picture of my dog to look at before you go, just so you don’t feel like you wasted your time on this blog post.

Doesn’t she look like she is writing this blog post?

Seriously, I am about to ruin the book for you if you haven’t read it.

Still here? Ok, one more random picture- this one is a Mandrake (like from Harry Potter) that my nephew made out of Legos.

Ok,if you haven’t left and you haven’t read “The Hunger Games”, but you think you might- you’ve been warned!

So, “Catching Fire!” When we last left Katniss, she and Peeta had managed to both win the Hunger Games by threatening to eat poisonous berries. When they leave the arena, Peeta thinks they are on their way to a nice quiet life together, but of course this can’t happen in District 12. Katniss has been warned the President is not happy with the way she outsmarted the capital during the games, and there will be consequences to her actions.

This is pretty much where the second book picks up. It’s a few months later, and Peeta and Katniss are about to embark on their Victory Tour of all the districts. They have moved into their houses in the victors village next to Haymitch and things are going as well as can be expected. Peeta has been spending his time painting, and Katniss has found some weird desire to be a clothing designer. This basically brings us to where I have to stop talking about the plot because I don’t want to give anything away, but just let me say:

It. Is. Awesome.

The second book is as great as the first. It has the same danger and excitement of, “The Hunger Games,” and this time we have the added excitement of a possible uprising. All the while, Katniss is learning just how damaging her actions during the games might be to her or her family.

If you haven’t read “Catching Fire”, you should be requesting your copy from the library right now (or buying one, if that is your personal preference). And while you’re at it, you’ll want to reserve your copy of “Mockingjay”, because if it’s anything like the first two books, it’s going to incredible. Be sure to keep checking Kitabu too, because I have a feeling you may be seeing even more posts in anticipation of “Mockingjay”!

Need more Hunger Games before the final book comes out? Explore “Catching Fire” by checking out this “look inside the book” feature at Scholastic. You can actually read the beginning of the book if you haven’t had the chance.

Want to test out your skills in the Hunger Games? Check out these online games, also by scholastic.

Want to talk about the books? Well, leave a comment!! I would love to hear your thoughts on “The Hunger Games” or “Catching Fire,” or even tell me what you think will happen in “Mockingjay.”

 

23

Mar

2010

Wonderland is real.

By Jinx. Posted in Jinx | No Comments »

Admit it, you contributed to the over $200 million Alice in Wonderland has raised in US theatres. How could you not want to see it?

I have to admit, I am a pretty big fan of the world Lewis Carroll created in his books Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. (Those links will take you to separate versions of the book, but those are not your only options. You can also get both stories in one volume, or even better a graphic novel).

I have read both stories a number of times. I love the Disney movie. I even wrote a paper in college comparing The Matrix to Through the Looking Glass (Seriously. Watching a movie counted as studying. It was pretty awesome. I even got an A on the paper).

As much as I love the story as Lewis Carroll imagined it, I also love a good re-imagining, like what Burton has done in his new movie. One of the best is Frank Beddor’s book, The Looking Glass Wars.

We are all pretty familiar with the Alice’s tale, but what if it wasn’t just a story created by Lewis Carroll? What if Alice was a real person and she just happened to find herself in our world instead of her world of Wonderland? What would the story look like then?

This is the amazing premise of The Looking Glass Wars. Princess Alyss has everything she could want, until her evil aunt Redd wages war on Wonderland. In an attempt to escape she finds herself transported to our world. Once in our world no one believes that Alyss is a princess from another world. She has to learn to adapt to living in our world, all while Wonderland fights Redd, and her protector Hatter Madigan (the basis for the Mad Hatter- who is so awesome he even has his own graphic novel) tries to find her.

This is one of my favorite takes on the Alice tale. It’s exciting. It’s funny. The way Beddor twists the familiar tale is really very clever. The book has all of the characters we expect, but they are all just a little different. Instead of the White Rabbit we have Alyss’s tutor Bibwit Harte. The Queen of Hearts becomes the evil Queen Redd. Even the Cheshire Cat is in the book, but this time he is in the form of an evil assassin.

I am a pretty big fan of this book (and its two sequels, Seeing Redd and ArchEnemy). If you’ve read it, what do you think?

 

10

Feb

2010

Wounded By Stephen Cole

By Elizabites Fancy. Posted in Elizabites Fancy | No Comments »

The Wereling Trilogy: Wounded
By: Stephen Cole

I must admit I am a big fan of fantasy. I loved “Twilight” and The Wereling Trilogy seemed to satisfy that hunger while I was waiting for “Breaking Dawn” to come out. Tom Anderson is a typical teenager with a wonderful family. The last thing Tom remembers is camping with his family. He had taken a walk by himself to cool off a little after having an augment with his parents. On his walk Tom comes across a bear that is not too thrilled to see him in the woods. As Tom makes his escape he is washed down river and he reawakens to find himself in the care of the Folans. But little does Tom know the Folans are not your typical family. They are werewolves with one purpose for Tom and that is for him to become the mate for their daughter Kate who is a pure-blood and will not turn into a werewolf until she’s mated with another werewolf. So the Folans choose Tom and must change him before he realizes what is going on.

Of course this turns into a problem when Tom’s blood is naturally resistant to werewolf magic. When he finally turns into a werewolf he finds that he is in complete control of the wolf he becomes. This is called a wereling and is very extraordinary. Now at this point in the story Wesley, who is Kate’s brother, turns into a werewolf and confronts Tom with the whole family plan. The fight is on and Wesley is killed. Kate and Tom are now on the run.

This is where the book takes off and you can’t stop reading. There are other characters and plots involved to make this a fast moving suspenseful trilogy. Marcie puts out the word among the lupin community and the race is on. Tom and Kate are suspicious were ever they go and now they realize that there is a man out there that could cure Tom. Finding him is the problem, especially when he is on the run also.

These books kind of reminded me of the whole Underworld movies. They were written a few years back but I can see them becoming popular with Twilight, Shiver and similar type series that are out there. If you like these types of books I challenge you to at least give them a try.  You might be pleasantly surprised just like I was. Oh, and don’t forget the love story that is underneath the surface.

 

5

Jan

2010

Lights, Camera, Fight to the Death

By Jinx. Posted in Jinx | No Comments »

Do you watch reality TV? I have to admit. I kind of love it. There are so many great reality shows that just make me happy (check out this Television Without Pity list of the best reality shows of the decade). There is nothing better than watching a fight on The Hills, or watching some of the amazing (and horrible designs) on Project Runway. It’s awesome to cheer for your favorite dancer or singer on So You Think You Can Dance or American Idol.

For awhile I was kind of obsessed with Survivor. My family and I even had a little contest. We all picked a name of one of the contestants and we rooted for our person to be the last one on the island. No one wants to go to tribal council

Reality TV is fun because you get to watch other people do really insane stuff like the obstacle courses on one of my favorite Japanese reality shows, Ninja Warrior:

I admit to enjoy some pretty crappy TV on a regular basis, but Suzanne Collins takes television, and the world in general, to a whole new level in her book, The Hunger Games.

Now, imagine its many years in the future. A series of natural disasters have made the United Stated Pretty unrecognizable. In fact, the new nation is called Panem and it is divided into 13 districts. Now imagine that at some point in the past there was a huge uprising where the people of the districts rose up against the Capital. The 13th district was completely wiped out and the other districts were forced to do everything the Capital desired. To punish the people of the 12 districts, the Capital has created an annual torture they call the Hunger Games. In each Hunger Games two children, one boy and one girl, are chosen from each district. The kids are then sent to a secret stadium where they are pitted against one another in a fight to the death. Twenty-Four kids go into the stadium, only one comes out. And the entire thing is broadcast on national television. And the nightly recaps are required watching for all of the people of Panem.

So, Katniss is a teenager in District 12. Her family survives because Katniss and her friend Gale illegally hunt in the woods surrounding their district. This year is the first year her 12 year-old sister is eligible to be in the Hunger Games. When her sister Rose’s name is called, Katniss immediately volunteers to take her place, even though this means she is being sent to her certain death. Katniss and the other “tribute,” Peeta, from District 12 head to the Capital to be pampered and preened for their audience before the Games begin.

This book is amazing. It’s exciting. It makes you think. You root for Katniss while wondering how she, or any of the other tributes, can make it out alive.

If you’ve read the book, feel free to answer any of the questions below (these questions were taken from Scholastic. You can read a little more about the book, along with these questions here.), or just post your thoughts. If you haven’t read the Hunger Games yet, (and you really need to- because it is just that amazing) what do you think about the plot? Can you imagine being forced to fight other teenagers to the death?

***************************************SPOILERS*********************************

Discussion Questions

Read more »

 

25

Nov

2009

Dream or Nightmare?

By Jinx. Posted in Jinx | No Comments »

Dreams can be a lot of things. They can be really personal, like when you dream about a boy or girl that you like. They can be silly, like the time I dreamed all of my friends were turned into Zombies. My cat wasn’t turned into a Zombie, but if she was I bet she would look like this:

Dreams can also be scary. They can be funny. They can show us parts of our self conscience that we aren’t even aware of. They were even tons of websites and books devoted to helping us unlock the meaning behind our dreams, like this one.

Dream Mood Dictionary

But what if dreams were actually dangerous? That is the reality for seventeen year old Janie in Wake by Lisa McMann. When people around her fall asleep she actually gets sucked into her dreams. She becomes an unwilling observer in her dreams. She can watch, but she can’t do anything. She is stuck inside other people’s dreams, no matter how embarrassing or personal. She can’t do anything but watch as the dream unfolds, and she is stuck there, immobile, until they wake up.

If a classmate accidentally falls asleep in class, she gets sucked in to their dream. Have you ever dreamed that you showed up to school in your pajamas, or worse- naked? Well, Janie has been inside of those dreams too.

Sometimes she even gets trapped in other people’s nightmares. Janie is trying to deal with her unusual problem while also dealing with high school and a crush on a boy with a mysterious past named Cable.

What would you do if you were sucked into the dreams of other people? If you have thoughts, add them to the comments below, or try answering some of these other questions (there are even more questions from the books publishers at Simon and Schuster.

Check out the book from the library:
Wake by Lisa McMann

*************************************SPOILERS****************************************

Would you want to have Janie’s gift of entering other people’s dreams if you could control it? Why or why not?

Did you guess what Cabel’s double life was before it was revealed in the book? Would you be brave enough to take on a job like his?

Which of these characters’ dreams would you want to have access to: Shay, the Captain, Janie’s mom, Stu? Which of your friends’ or family members’ dreams would you want to enter? Which would you NOT want to enter?

How would the book be different if Janie and Cabel had parents who were loving and present?

If you were telling a friend about Wake, how would you describe it? Is it fantasy or reality? Do you think people like Janie really exist?