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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.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mockingjay Release Party!

Exciting things are happening at Casa Maria this week! Aside from the usual hustle and bustle of getting ready for the new school year - five classes this semester and I'm excited about each and every one of them - I'm also getting ready to spend some time with Cassandra Yorgey at the book release party of the year. That's right, I'm going to Books of Wonder for the release of Mockingjay. Friends and a fabulous new book; what more could I ask for?*

ETA: Part 1 of my journey is documented on Youtube! Maria's Journey Part 1

*A pony

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

TBR 8/18/10 - War of the Witches

Outsider Anaíd leads a solitary life in a small village in the Pyrenees with her mother Selene. She does not suspect there is anything particularly strange about her family, aside from her mother’s personal eccentricities . . . until one day Selene disappears without a trace and Anaíd is confronted with a shocking truth, her mother is a witch, prophesied to be the chosen one to end an ancient war between two feuding clans.
I read this book in ... 2007? 2008? Sometime around then. I loved it. I finally ordered it on Amazon (because I couldn't find it anywhere else) and I'm expecting to have it in my hands soon.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Book Review: Zombies Vs Unicorns

In February of 2007, the YA world was rocked when writing rock stars Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier got into the mother of all absurd arguments. Lines were drawn, sides were taken, the YA community was ripped in half as everyone rushed to proclaim which team they were on in the epic battle to decide which was cooler: zombies or unicorns.

Since then, fans have eagerly awaited the release of the Zombies vs Unicorns Anthology, a book which would, hopefully, settle the matter once and for all. Holly(Team Unicorn) and Justine(Team Zombie) spent months collecting the creme de la creme of YA authors to their sides. And on September 21, 2010, readers will at last get to see the final battle in print.

But I've got an ARC sitting all nice and tidy and signed on my shelf. Why yes, I am pretty darn smug about it.

I struggled with this review for a bit, trying to decide how I wanted to go about it: did I want to review each story individually or the book overall? Of course, I've decided to do a little of both.

The Good:

There are no bad stories in this anthology. None. Readers are free to discern which stories to read based on interest, author, and team preferences. Of course some stories shine more than others. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Alaya Dawn Johnson seems to be a Team Zombie favorite, while Diana Peterfreund's "The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn" - a spin-off of her Rampant series - is raking in the praise from Team Unicorn. When I said that Holly and Justine had used the creme de la creme for this anthology, I wasn't kidding. Sure, the individual stories have trip ups - Carrie Ryan's "Bougainvillea" has some pacing and organizational issues, while Meg Cabot's contribution to Team Unicorn irritated me (though I consider that a reflection of my own personal tastes since I haven't liked anything by Meg Cabot) - but the anthology starts strong and finishes the same.

The Bad:

Sadly, the only part of Zombies vs Unicorns that consistently detracted from the book was Holly and Justine's introductions of stories. In the forward, their bickering was amusing. It set the tone, and reminded readers that this was done in fun. But from the first story on, I noticed a trend: Holly would talk about the merits of the story while Justine would toot her proverbial horn in favor of Team Zombie and leave it at that. This was still funny for the first few introductions, but three stories in, it lost it's charm.

If Holly had mirrored Justine's behavior once or twice and simply said "Team Unicorn" over and over again, or better yet, if Justine had talked about the merits and pitfalls of a story beyond 'it has unicorns, it sucks' or 'it has zombies, it rules', - I think there would have been a much stronger sense of equality between the anthologists. As it was, I began entering each story wanting to hit Justine with something or hoping that Holly would on my behalf.

The Left-overs: 

Maureen Johnson, "Children of the Revolution" has MORE than made up for my disappointment with "Law of Suspect" in the Vacations from Hell anthology. Congrats.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Mushrooms

Team Unicorn Forever,
Maria D.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

NYT Failed Interview Fails

We interrupt this irregularly scheduled blog to bring you a review of this monstrosity: Mona Simpson Quietly Embraces Art

(Go ahead, read that first. All of it. I'll wait.)

(Done? Awesome.)

What the HELL is this, New York Times? Okay, I don't read you often and this may be the standard of writing you publish. But if that's so, then my complaints are the least of what you deserve if you consider that pseudo-intellectual garbage worthy of publication.

The purpose of all mass communication is to inform, entertain, and/or persuade. Can anyone tell me which, if any, purpose the article above serves? This type of writing is what every journalism, creative writing, and ANY English class I've ever taken has taught me to avoid. And seeing an example of it, I have to agree; this is terrible writing.

From an informative perspective, I learn that this woman, Mona Simpson, is an author and has a new book coming out. Normally, I'd expect this article to include somewhere details about this authors body of work, what the new book is about and when it's coming out. But The New York Times is too avante garde to include any of that useless twaddle in such specific terms. We do learn a bit about her upcoming novel, but it's lost in a lecture about the Matisse exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. Instead, I learn that she currently lives in the uncultured, illiterate slums of California and misses that paragon of civilization known as the Upper West Side. She's divorced, Steve Jobs' well-connected sister, hates Starbucks, and her teenage son won't read her books. In essence, I've read the most prosaic Wikipedia page in existence. Any useful information is lost in a maelstrom of gossipy, irrelevant factoids.

As far as entertainment goes, it failed there as well. It proposes to be a Day-In-the-Life type piece (I assume. It's listed in the fashion section. I suppose it could be a piece detailing how to be a fashionable writer? Martinis, snobbery, and famous siblings are the keys to success?) but it's unfocused and tangential and I'm left disliking an author who, based on this interview, is so condescending and elitist that I'm devoid of any desire to read her books.

From a persuasive angle, how am I to be persuaded? Should I go see the Matisse exhibit?

Fashionably Yours,
Maria D