About Me

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was sold to gypsies as a small child for half a tank of gas and a kitten. She was quickly, if not easily, retrieved by her mother after the kitten was revealed to be an Eldrich horror looking for a ride into the nearest metropolitan area to begin wreaking havoc. It's been a bone of contention between Maria and her family ever since, whether the Horror-kitten would've been more or less trouble than she grew up to be.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

WAYR 4/27 and TBR 4/28

Back again with a new What Are You Reading. It's a day late thanks to raging storms in West Virginia yesterday, knocking out the internet connection in my Secret Lair. I miss DSL y'all.

This week, I've been reading the Vampire Diaries. (Peer pressure, I cave to it.) I finished reading the first book, The Awakening, I'm working on the second, The Struggle, and skipping ahead to peek at various scenes in later books, of which there are many. We've gone over my bad reading habits before, right? Right.

(Prepare yourself for the inevitable Twilight comparisons)

The Awakening introduces Elena Gilbert, the cool, aloof, uber popular Ice Princess of Robert E Lee high school. She's the girl every guy wants to be with and every girl wants to be. And most guys HAVE been with her, at least on a date. But Elena wants more out of life, though she doesn't know what that more is yet. All she knows is that popularity ain't cutting it, and while she jumps from date to date trying to make a connection, she remains lonely and unsatisfied. Until Stefan Salvatore comes to school.

Elena has never wanted anything or anyone as much as Stefan; dark, handsome, foreign, and irresistible. An easy conquest she thinks: nothing that she's ever wanted has eluded her before, certainly nothing male. But Stefan defies her attempts at even civil conversation.

As Elena continues her seemingly futile quest to gain Stefans attention and a date, all is not well in her town of Fells Church. Her childhood friend Caroline is suddenly out to get her. Another friend, Bonnie, has discovered she's psychic and begins prophesying some scary shit. People are being attacked by an unknown and possibly non-human assailant, a strange crow has been following Elena around town, and another young man of unknown origin keeps popping up whom Elena is alternately drawn to and repulsed by.

What is going on in Fells Church and why does it all seem to be centering around Elena?

We don't really find out in this book. What we DO find out: Stefan is a vampire. Kind of a whiny one too. His brother may or may not be bad-ass and awesome and a real vampire. Elena and her friends Bonnie and Meredith MIGHT have personalities and depth but we can't be sure from the first book. Likewise, Elena might be a Mary Sue, though her almost whoring tendencies help keep it in check.

Twilight comparisons begin ... NOW:

To generalize, I like it better than Twilight. That is not a glowing commendation by any means, but that's what you get.

+10 for having something resembling a plot and effective -if glaringly obvious - foreshadowing.


Elena is not QUITE a Mary Sue yet. Sure, she's beautiful and sweet and smart and the queen of the school, but when she acts like a brat she gets called on it, WHICH I GREATLY APPRECIATE THANK YOU VERY LITTLE STEPHENIE MEYER. She's beautiful, shallow and self absorbed, though not so much on purpose as she tends to forget other people have problems. When she remembers, she apologizes and tries to make up for it. In most cases she tries to be considerate to others and is apparently loyal to her friends. I can't think of any examples of this offhand, but it's mentioned.

In the very first chapter, as Elena is writing in her diary (oh I see what you did thar), we see that this is a very lonely and lost girl at heart. She's trying to find home, a place she hasn't felt since her parents died, and she's looking - misguidedly in my opinion- for that home in another person. But that misguided search is part of what makes Elena a more believable character than Bella in my opinion. She is not "an adult trapped in a teenagers body." This is a teenager with all the foibles and flaws, mistakes and misadventures one has when one is young and dumb and infatuated. In my opinion, all this adds up to a character who may not be entirely likable, but is one who's more believable and slightly sympathetic.

Stefan is the prototype for Edward McEmopants. Wah, I'm a vampire and I don't want to be one I just want to try have a normal life blah blah blah. Thank God he's not a perfect marble cupcake Adonis* or else I'd have to smack a bitch. His avoiding Elena and related infatuation is better explained than just 'she smells so om nom-able and she's so purely good I must protect her and klutz-adorableness even though she can never love me in return woe.' Elena looks almost exactly like Katherine, the vampire who turned Stefan in Renaissance Florence and whom he and his brother loved (mmm kinky) and who died because Stefan and his brother Damon couldn't get their shit together and because she was, well, retarded.

But Stefan grows to love Elena NOT because she's like Katherine, but because she's DIFFERENT from Katherine omgwtfbbq. Elena is strong and opinionated and knows what she wants (totally unlike wishy-washy fickle Katherine no Katherine you can't have both brothers no you cannot NO YOU CANNOT PUT ONE BACK WE CAN ONLY AFFORD TO FEED ONE).

Also cool, there are actual explanations for why Stefan and his brother can go outside in the daylight, how they eat (fangs! Yay!), what they eat (Stefan continues to throw his hat in the ring of Biggest Vampire Pussy Ever by eating bunnies even though eating people gives you awesome Powers which allow you to ...not...be a...vampire pussy...*headdesk*)


They have more personality than just about every side character from Twilight rolled together with the possible exception of the werewolves. Seriously, the Quilloute wolves need a reality show. I'd watch it over and over and over and over and over and over again. Carrying on: ROLL CALL!

Meredith: She has a brain and routinely calls Elena on her spastic self absorbed shit. For this, she has my eternal love, even if she isn't precognitive and steals cars.

Bonnie: Flaky, psychic, a little creepy but largely comic relief and plot mover and shaker. She's an adorable ball of magical fluff who's rightly terrified of her own growing powers. I kind of love her.

Matt: Elena's latest spurned love, and yet he's SO NICE. He also calls Elena on her self absorption but then rolls right on over and lets her kick him like a retarded puppy. Matt has issues. I want to hug him and kick 'im in the balls at the same time for competing with Stefan for the Wussiest Wuss Award of the year. I hope some nice girl takes him and rides him like the beast of burden he's determined to be.

Damon: Holy shit it's a man with a spine....aaaaaaaand he's a douche. A stalker douche. A stalker douche who's at least HONEST about his desire to wet Elena's panties EDWARD. Seriously Wardo, either you want the girl to jump your bones or you don't. PICK ONE. Damon is, as mentioned above, Stefans brother. Stefan's OLDER brother. And he takes serious issue with Stefan being such a girl. I'm kind of waiting for Damon to give Stefan a box of tampons for Christmas...if he doesn't kill him first. +3 for killing people, +3 for holding a grudge, +4 for shape shifting and other vampiric abilities, and +5 for being an all around bad-ass evil hottie.

Is that everybody? Probably not. Did I forget anything? Probably so. Do I care? Definitely not.

Can you tell what's on my To Be Read pile? ONWARD TO FINISHING BOOK 2 THE STRUGGLE!

I Vant to Suck Your Blood,

Maria D.

*All credit goes to Miss Cleolinda Jones.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Path Less Trod

The sky opens up before me
An untrod path and pilgrimage
Bring me the horizon in a cup.

The stars trace roads and hignways
No one has ever traveled
And their stories go untold night after night.

A million miles lay between me and destiny
With only old songs for company
And the challenge of an endless summer sky

Stars spin and burn and shine rudely on sleepers
They dance without a thought or care
How can I not follow?

With every step I leave a little more of my life behind
The fire burns hotter in me, scorching away all traces of my past
And with every step I'm a little more myself, a little more alive.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

To Be Read 4/13

Today on the To Be Read pile is In the Night Garden: Orphans Tales #1 by Catherynne M Valente.
Goodreads description:
Secreted away in a garden, a lonely girl spins stories to warm a curious prince: peculiar feats and unspeakable fates that loop through each other and back again to meet in the tapestry of her voice. Inked on her eyelids, each twisting, tattooed tale is a piece in the puzzle of the girl’s own hidden history. And what tales she tells! Tales of shape-shifting witches and wild horsewomen, heron kings and beast princesses, snake gods, dog monks, and living stars–each story more strange and fantastic than the one that came before. From ill-tempered “mermaid” to fastidious Beast, nothing is ever quite what it seems in these ever-shifting tales–even, and especially, their teller. Adorned with illustrations by the legendary Michael Kaluta, Valente’s enchanting lyrical fantasy offers a breathtaking reinvention of the untold myths and dark fairy tales that shape our dreams. And just when you think you’ve come to the end, you realize the adventure has only begun….

I've wanted to read this book since it came out, but I've had the hardest time finding a copy of it. I DID manage to find part of an audio book for it on iTunes, and what I heard only made me more determined to read it. Sadly, audio books and I don't mesh. I get so caught up imagining what's being described that I fall behind the pace of the story being read.

Lyrically fantastic,
Maria D.

Monday, April 12, 2010

WAYR and Other News in No Particular Order

First, I am deeply chagrined that I have only NOW discovered Sigur Ros. How did I miss this awesomeness before? The mountains of West Virginia are currently alive with the sounds of Icelandic rock blaring out my open windows.

Packing up my room for the move yesterday progressed to that unhappy place where everything is chaos, the movement has stirred up so much dust that I can't stop sneezing, and I can't see my bed anymore. Today I made even more progress, so now my closet has added to the clutter. On the plus side, I can now see parts of my bed and most of my carpet. Sigur Ros has been kind in helping me deal with this.

And what do I have to thank for introducing me to Sigur Ros? How To Train Your Dragon! It's going to be my favorite animated movie for a while now. As I said before, dragons are my favorite mythical creatures. And not only does this movie have dragons, it has dragons that act like cats. Originally I wanted to see HTTYD because Toothless looked and acted a lot like a giant, winged version of my late cat Shadow. I was right. Imagine a smaller, scalier, de-winged version of Toothless and you have Shadow. Shadow was every bit at crazy, destructive, bad tempered and loyal as the dragon in that movie. God damn I miss that cat.

On to WAYR before I start crying.

So what am I reading? Elephants on Acid by Alex Boese! I'm nearly finished. I love this book. I'm actually going to have to cave in and buy it I love it that much. EoA is a collection of experiments so crazy and off the wall that you'd think they were made up. But no, all the experiments described within the contents of the pages were actually done. I hesitate to use any one word to encapsulate this book. It's hilarious - at times. At others, it's horrific and slightly nauseating. But if you're interested in mad science or psychology at all, this is a great book to pick up. It really makes you think about a lot of things.

Finally, update on Nevermore. Chapter 4 is at a standstill right now. It's an important chapter with lots of foreshadowing and planning for the finale, and I'm over-thinking it to the point where nothing is working. So to continue making some progress, I've moved on to other important scenes that WANT to be written. Having a LOT more success with those. So Nevermore is carrying on, just not in a way I can show you without major spoilers. Sorry!

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to Baltimore we go!
Maria D

Thursday, April 8, 2010

My "In-Process" Pile

At the moment, I have several books which I've been able to read a little of, but haven't gotten to finish yet. Here they are.

Going Bovine by Libba Bray
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Vacations from Hell anthology
The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany
In the Woods by Tara French
Gone by Michael Grant
The Wastelands by Stephen King
Cell by Stephen King
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

There are more I'm forgetting, I'm sure. But these are the most pressing and important to me to finish this year (this is not taking into account all the books I'm probably going to pick up at BEA. O_o). Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

To Be Read 4/6

To Be Read is a meme by Korianne Speak, which I pilfered from Emma.

This week, I got a copy of Elephants on Acid: And Other Bizarre Experiments by Alex Boese.

I have to thank Anna for lending me this. I'll try not to damage it by accident...or design.

The Goodreads description:

When Tusko the Elephant woke in his pen at the Lincoln Park Zoo on the morning of August 3, 1962, little did he know that he was about to become the test subject in an experiment to determine what happens to an elephant given a massive dose of LSD. In Elephants on Acid, Alex Boese reveals to readers the results of not only this scientific trial but of scores of other outrageous, amusing, and provocative experiments found in the files of modern science.

Why can’t people tickle themselves? Would the average dog summon help in an emergency? Will babies instinctually pick a well-balanced diet? Is it possible to restore life to the dead? Read Elephants on Acid and find out!

I'm soooo looking forward to this.

Maria D

Monday, April 5, 2010

What Are You Reading 4/5

It's Monday! Time to implement my schedule, starting with What Are You Reading, a meme hosted by One Person's Journey and which I found out about and filched from Emma. (I am the epitome of original.)

This week I've been reading a couple of things. First, since I'm coming out of spring break, I've been reading Vacations from Hell, an anthology of horrific vacation tales, written by five young adult authors. Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, Claudia Gray, and Sarah Mylnowski.

So far, I've only read two of the 5 stories all the way through; Maureen Johnson's Law of Suspects and Libba Bray's Nowhere is safe.

These stories show what a mixed bag anthologies can be quality wise, and also the differences in writing that can appear when comparing an authors short stories to their longer works.

Maureen Johnson: Law of Suspects

Personally, this story left me feeling room temperature. It was an excellent premise in my opinion; trapped in the French country side, the victim of a cursed story, with no clue who the murderer will be. The idea of it excited me then and now. It's one of those stories which I think someone else could flesh out into a full novel. But I digress. Overall, I liked the idea. Execution, however....

I like Maureen Johnson's voice. Devilish is one of my favorite YA books, and I recommend The Bermudez Triangle to everyone. But it's a voice that doesn't always work in every situation. It fell a little flat in this one. Whenever I was getting involved in the suspense, something, a throwaway sentence or just the phrasing of the narrators thoughts, would rear up and drag me back out, and I'd hope she died. Maybe this wouldn't have bothered me as much if the story were longer and I had more time to get used to the main character. Also, do make outs have to be in EVERY short story? Are they really THAT necessary? Or am I just not feeling the love? Discuss.

I really liked the ending though. Overall, good bones of a story. Needs a hell of a lot of elbow grease to make it as awesome as it could and should be.*

Moving on the Libba Bray.

Libba Bray: Nowhere is Safe

This was the first story I read, even though it's at the end of the book. This story had a lot of modern day Poe and Lovecraft feeling to it. She even named the main character after Mr. Poe (a giant plus in my book). Basic premise is that four friends from high school go backpacking across Europe the summer before they start college. However, when the group moves off the beaten tourist track, they find themselves involved in the centuries-old practices of a town on the brink of destruction.

Yes, it's a plot you've probably seen a dozen times on SyFy channel, but Libba Bray pulls it off with a lot of class and genuine fear. The dynamic of the relationships between friends, watching them shift and deteriorate as the situation gets more extreme, is fascinating and powers the story nearly as much the plot. Also, I loved reading about a male protagonist, and a multi-ethnic one to boot (YA authors, more of this please). The romantic drama was appropriate; mentioned often enough to establish it, but not so often we want to hit Poe for not making his move.

The twist at the end, when we discover the villains, is a little predictable but not in a way that hurts the story. The ending itself is mostly satisfying in how it ties things up, but makes me want to hear more about Poe and his adventures.

My biggest complaint was the writing itself. It's not bad by any means, but I love Libba Bray and am used to the shining, sterling quality of The Gemma Doyle Trilogy and now Going Bovine. In Nowhere is Safe, you can tell that it was rushed, especially when paired with her longer works.

This gets to the roulette aspect of anthologies. It's hard to tell what you're getting. Even if you know and like the authors whose works are included, there's no guarantee that they'll hold up quality wise to other stories you've read by them. Some authors excel at short stories while other need 400 pages to really make it work and express themselves completely. And it's hard to know whether an author will fall into one category or another until you read both types of writing.

I just started Cassandra Clare's story. When I get around to finishing all the stories, hopefully I'll sit down and write a full review.

The other book I started reading this week is A History of Violence by John Wagner, illustrated by Vince Locke. More on this later in the week. Until tomorrow.

Planning your untimely demise,
Maria D.

*MJ, if you ever find this blog and read this post, I still love you long time. Promise.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Schedule? What's That?

Happy Saturday!

In a valiant/vain attempt to add some structure to this blog, (and maybe, just maybe, make it more book and writing related) I'm going to start scheduling weekly posts.

Mondays will be What Are You Reading (a meme hosted by the Story Siren)
Tuesdays will be TBR (To Be Read) (a meme hosted by Korianne Speaks)
Wednesday will be Wednesday Writing Prompts (someone else is probably already doing this, but I don't know them so this one's all me as far as I'm aware)

So, yeah. We're going to see how long this will last before I'm distracted again. I give myself a week...though even that may be too generous.

Stupid, unreliable, shiny laptop owner,
Maria D.