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, July 27, 2010

On My iPod 7/25/10 - Crash Kings

Brothers Tony and Mike Beliveau and Jason Morris make up the trio known as the Crash Kings, a high energy rock band...sans guitar. Keyboard, bass, and drums make up a kicky, aggressive, and potent sound. Their self-titled debut album was released over a year ago, but only started getting radio play in West Virginia* a few months ago. Which is why I'm talking about them now instead of sometime around May 2009 when it was more relevant.

From their website:
The Crash Kings’ radical new sound is huge to say the least. Of their vision, Tony is quick to point out, “We wanted to create a band that once and for all could be ‘The Big Rock Sound’ without guitar.” One might wonder…rock without guitar, how is that possible? Well, the Crash Kings have gotten a bit innovative in their quest to create rock with just keys, bass, and drums. With tube overdrive and multiple amps Mike’s bass brings heaviness to the band’s sound. On top of that Tony plays a clavinet (a keyboard with guitar strings), which has been customized with a large whammy bar allowing him to bend notes like a guitar producing an entirely new sound. Having these two very unique elements makes the Crash Kings’ music feel raw and full at the same time.

Their lyrics are solid, but nothing to write home about. They switch from the standard hard rock fare to the sentimental and sweet. What holds my attention is the music. I love me some guitar, but never once did I miss it on any of the tracks. On "You Got Me," the bass pulls no punches, while the keyboard plays a haunting riff. On the other side of the spectrum is a song like "Come Away" which is reminiscent of The Fray minus the Emo. Musicality and lyricism have not been sacrificed for the sake of edginess, and the sound is stronger and more unique for the compromise.

Part of what appeals to me about the Crash Kings is that they allow themselves to branch out within the album. While many rock bands put out albums with essentially three songs replayed with modified lyrics in different keys, every track on "Crash Kings" is memorable, with structures and moods that are entirely individual. It's a smallish album with only 10 tracks, but the size works in the bands' favor. Listeners get a taste of what the group can do without running the risk of running out of ideas on the first album.

Final thoughts: If you like Ben Folds, Foo Fighters, and Keane, this is a band you should check out.
Two of their songs, "You Got Me" and "Mountain Man", are already on the Crash Kings Youtube channel.

Grade: B

Live Long, Rock Hard,
Maria D

*They were playing "Mountain Man." Some states should never be allowed a sense of humor.

Monday, July 26, 2010

What Are You Reading 7/26

It's a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (unicorn and zombie, respectively), strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths--for good and evil--of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan. This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

- from Goodreads
 I got my hands on this long awaited anthology at BEA. I love it. I'm almost finished with it. But even having not finished it, I can tell you with great authority that you should go out and get it the DAY IT IS ON SHELVES. Or you can pre-order it. That works, too.

Eat (brains), Love (unicorns), Pray (for bigger guns),
Maria D


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Book Review: Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel

After centuries of terrorizing Europe, Lenah Beaudonte, with the help of the handsome Rhode, has been able to realize the dream of all vampires – to be human again. Now as a raven-haired, sixteen-year-old, Lenah believes her greatest challenge is fitting in at her new school. But the challenges have only begun. The vicious coven Lenah once ruled is threatening the new-found pleasures of her human life, including the one guy who makes her feel most alive, Justin. Can this ex-vamp survive in an alien time and place, or will her past come back to haunt her…forever?
Infinite Days is one of my BEA books that I picked up without much enthusiasm. The editor promoting it did a wonderful pitch and it interested the heck out of me, but the bottom line was and still is that I am officially vampired out. I can't even bring myself to read the latest Sookie Stackhouse book! But Emma of Booking Through 365 was reading it and tweeting her reactions and asked me to give it a try and see if I agreed with her. What was supposed to be a quick skim to get a sense of the writing and characters, turned into me reading the whole book. And as soon as I'm done writing this review, I'm clicking the "delete all" button on that memory; because I'd much rather devote that people-ram to things like Zombies Vs Unicorns and Inception. You know, things that don't suck.

The Good: The Premise

Rebecca Maizel takes the vampire genre the next step further and explores what would happen were a vampire to regain her humanity (though I realize while typing this that the sixth Vampires Diaries book beat her to the punch a bit). Through Lenah, we see her rediscover humanity for the first time in 500 years. But more importantly, we see the collision of her previous existence with a new, normal, human life.

The Bad: The Execution

I think I said it all whilst "Tweeting While Reading:"


    I somehow expect a 500+ year old to be deeper than "I hope that jailbait guy in the next room is thinking about me cuz I'm thinking about him" 11:59 AM Jul 20th via web

The Voicing

Maizel's writing is better than much YA I've seen, but when it comes to Lenah's voice, she tries to strike a balance between old-world-vampire - ala Anne Rice - and contemporary teenager and fails at both.

Final Thoughts: I can't judge this book objectively because, as I said above, I am tired of vampires. And this book, while having the potential to be really interesting, trips up so much, in the voicing, the characters, the basic plot (when you're writing about subject matter - like vampires - that's going to be compared to another popular book - like Twilight - don't actively court those comparisons) that I have a sad now because of it.

But a few points that I couldn't file under Bad because it's strictly things that bothered me and which bother me in other novels as well.

How is shoving a girl who's been asleep for 100 years into high school supposed to help her adjust to modern living? Set her up with a laptop and digital tv, and we spare her the horror of cliques. By the way, why are all high schools in YA filled with 'Mean Girl' cliques? I know I was only in real high school for a year, but that was long enough to notice that we had no such things. Sure there were some popular kids and some less popular kids but we weren't The hills or Melrose Place or anything so stereotypically stupid. And friends who demand the group dress alike and have matching accessories; what's with that? Why is high school used as the standard of humanity? I promise all you people still trapped in high school that it's not.

Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel is set to hit book stores August 3, 2010

My Rating: 2/5 Mushrooms