Saturday, May 4, 2013

Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes by Cory O'Brien – Apparently God Wanted to See Our Junk
Pro: Myths presented like you were being told a crazy story in a bar.
Con: Only if you can’t handle crude humor

The Bottom Line: It’s absolutely hilarious. We had three copies in the store; they sold in about a week.

This book was brought to my attention by one of my co-workers. He deserves a medal for doing so, I might add.  Though the book features Zeus’s name, it actually includes myths of all belief systems. Greek, Christian, Native American, Hindu – basically anything that the author, Cory O’Brien, decided would make for a hilarious story. And the truth is that most mythological stories are pretty ridiculous to begin with. When you hear them in their normal state, as just a regular story, you don’t really think much of it. It’s a myth story, no big deal. Never mind that the Norse god Loki had sex with a horse and gave birth (yes, Loki gave birth) to the eight-legged horse Slepnir.

But then you take time enough to step back and look at a lot of these myths and you can start to reflect on just how freaking weird they are and how they have no reason for existing – they don’t explain why the sun rises or what makes it rain. Never mind that Athena just jumped out of Zeus’s head one day – in full armor no less (and there’s an even weirder version of that story, by the way).

But I digress. The hilarity in this book lies in the way it’s written. It’s almost jotted down in prose poetry style, which is actually amusingly fitting considering the style of so many old myths, so it may have been intentional. Either way, O’Brien writes them in a way that you might hear these stories in a bar – very casually, very crudely, with a bit of elaboration, but the base of the myth is still very correct. He uses all caps in a few places for some really brash emphasis, and it works very well. After reading a few stories and laughing until I was on the brink of tears, I finally had to put it down and not read any more of it because A.) I was at work and B.) customers were starting to look at me funny.

You don’t have to know the myths beforehand in order to enjoy this – I read a Norse one I wasn’t familiar with and it was still absolutely hilarious. Knowing some myths, however, almost makes them funnier because O’Brien makes sure to point out the ridiculous bits like how God cursed the serpent to crawl on its belly forever for it’s part in the whole Adam-Eve-fruit fiasco – never mind the fact that serpents crawl like that anyway.

There is swearing and crude remarks (although many of the old myths were pretty crude – lotsa sex, mind you), so brace yourself. But if you don’t mind that and want a good laugh, I highly recommend at least taking a look at this. Read a story or two and see if you aren’t thinking of buying it.

Mind you – if you do, you will never think of Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus the same way again.

Notes from the playlist: "Skyfall" by Adele

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Recommended for Shameless Self Promotion

 Blood for Wolves by Me!

Yep. I have finally done it. I self published my book. I went the ebook route for now just to test the waters. I love it, naturally, so I guess the question will boil down to - will you?

As a wolf biologist, Caroline McKenna hates those old fairytales where the wolf is always the bad guy.

Except when she tries to keep a lost little girl from drowning in a pond, she ends up in the Kingdom of Red—where wolves are the bad guys.

And the girl she tried to save? Nowhere to be found.

Now, Caroline has no idea how to get home, and the Kingdom—once ruled by Little Red Riding Hood herself—is in trouble. Her only guide is a man named Wolf, whose golden eyes and oh-my-what-big-teeth-you-have are as startling as they are enticing. Caroline isn’t willing to leave without knowing the young girl is safe, but that means sticking with Wolf. Especially since her only other option is to wander around a fairytale forest alone.

But that means facing dangerous creatures and evil enchantments. There is more happening in the Kingdom than anyone realizes, and if Caroline wants to stay alive she has to figure out her role in this story—and she knows Wolf isn’t telling her everything.

 Notes from the playlits: "Half Acre" by Hem

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Recommended for Moose Owners

This Moose Belongs to Me
by Oliver Jeffers

Sometimes when a moose comes along, it just means he wants to be your moose. Right? Well why not! He does what he's told (not all of the time), knows his name (sort of), and isn't anybody else's moose (maybe). Kids will have fun seeing a young boy attempt to claim a moose in the wild woods and what happens when he discovers that maybe he isn't the only one to try this. Funny story aside, I love how the moose is illustrated as well as some of the wonderful backgrounds that truly capture the beauty of where real moose live. Full of life and giggles, it's a fun little reminder to kids that wild animals are always wild no matter what.

 Notes from the playlist: "Becoming a Legend" by John Dreamer

Desperately Seeking Shapeshifter by Jessica Sims - Werebears and Werewolves? I'm In.

Pros: Sara and Ramsey make a cute couple.
Cons: Ugh.  Why are wolves always a-holes?

The Bottom Line: Aside from my aversion to the description of pack behavior, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

As much as I railed on Beauty Dates the Beast, I was still really intrigued about the next book, Desperately Seeking Shapeshifter.  Why?  Because I wanted to see if the protagonist’s sister, Sara, would actually meet up with some friendly werewolves, and if she and Ramsey would hook up.  That and the little teaser at the end made it seem possible for those to work.

In a nutshell, Sara didn’t even know werewolves existed until an abusive boyfriend bit her up and changed her.  She’s been having a horrid time ever since, not having any guidance on how to shift and afraid of being found out by other shifters – primarily werewolves.  But it’s happened, so now the only thing to do in order to stay away from them is to pretend to be another shifter’s mate.  And that shifter happens to be Ramsey – a werebear.  Makes perfect sense, right?

I loved the interaction between Sara and Ramsey.  The tension between them was very well done with some pretty strong reasons that they shouldn’t or couldn’t come together in reality, and that once the ruse was over, they would go their separate ways.  That made it all the more tasty when certain steamy moments appeared.  I also just really loved Ramsey.  He’s not your typical suave guy that appears in romance books, but instead the strong silent type that does his thing until the right button is pushed.  And extra points for being a werebear.  I have never seen that before and it’s a cool change.  Especially since I’m bored with werecougars and werepanthers always being the sexy, love you forever types. Wild cats are loners, fyi.

Which sort of brings me to the irritation I have with the wolf pack.  I really hoped that Sara would meet some nice ones, but ultimately those hopes were dashed.  While I’m able to suspend my disbelief *just* enough to accept that humans that shift into werewolves are probably going to run by their own rules and humans can be jackasses, it still drives me absolutely up the wall that there are no real wolf rules involved anytime someone writes about werewolves that are in a pack, aside from the inclusion of an alpha. (By the way, there’s a female and male alpha in a wolf pack – everyone seems to neglect this.  At least here the author acknowledges that the alpha’s mate died.)  Once again wolves get the short end of the stick and that makes me nuts.  I could lay out so many reasons why the pack dynamic didn’t work for me, but that’s a dissertation in itself. Suffice to say that people are jerks and they’re royally screwing up whatever wolf they have in them.  Granted, I shouldn’t be whining about supernatural creatures, but if you’re going to shift into an actual wolf and have wolf tendencies rather than into a half-man, half-wolf rage monster, then you might as well inject the rest of the reality into it.

Aside from the fact that I’m bringing up real world animal social behavior (because I’m like that), I had a great time reading this book.  I wanted to read it so much that when I finally saw it at work I snatched I up, set it aside, and bought it at the end of my shift. Then I was up until 2am reading it.  I liked how Sara finally took charge at the end and though I could have seen a different and almost more satisfying ending, it still gives you the happily ever after that you want, and isn’t that what matters?  Besides, maybe the pair I’m thinking of will end up in a future book...

It's a lot of fun so if you're looking for some supernatural romance goodness, this is a good place to be.  There will be another book in this series, but I don't know if I'm going to read it because the focus shifts back to were-cougars and I've never been all that interested in them.  Maybe because I'm not a cat person?

Notes from the playlist: "Peponi (Paradise)" by The Piano Guys

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Recently Finished


Redshirts by John Scalzi

I've been wanting to read this book for a while, and considering how much I enjoyed Old Man's War, I figured this would be pretty good since Scalzi knows how to bring on the humor while keeping plenty of seriousness in check. Here we have Dahl, who just got an assignment to the Intrepid. Sounds like a great job - except there's a very high death rate in the ship. In fact, it seems as though every time there is an away team, someone dies. Someone unimportant. The captain and other high ranking officers always come back. So what's going on? Why are all the low ranking guys dying? Start channeling your inner Guy from Galaxy Quest and ask the right questions - while this was a teensy bit predictable, I had a good time and look forward to getting my hands on Scalzi's other works. I still like Old Man's War better, though.

Notes from the playlist: "Rise" by John Dreamer

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Recommended for Pigeons

The Duckling Gets a Cookie by Mo Willems

First the Pigeon wants to drive the bus. Then he finds a hot dog. Then he wants to stay up late. But now there's a Duckling involved - and today the Duckling has somehow, inexplicably, managed to get a cookie. The Pigeon can't believe it. How on earth did the Duckling get a cookie when the Pigeon can't even have a hot dog?? This is inexcusable. The Pigeon won't stand for it. That cookie has chocolate chips and nuts and everything. But perhaps this time the Pigeon will be in for a surprise...  This was the first book I read from Mo Willems involving the Pigeon and it was definitely amusing. Such a simple concept involving a duck, a pigeon, and a cookie. Who would have thought? It's a giggle-worthy book that kids will like, so make sure they get their Pigeon plushie ready (and maybe some cookies at the end).

Notes from the playlist: "Metal Gear Solid Main Theme" by Harry Gregson-Williams

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Recommended for Seekers of Caldecott Winners

This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
Admittedly I was not a big fan of I Want My Hat Back - mostly because it took me forever to accept that the creature looking for his hat was, in fact, a bear. I kept thinking it was a groundhog, and every one of my co-workers either guessed the same or guessed anything but bear. that aside,this time the little fish is the one with the hat - although he fully acknowledges that it is indeed not his. So what's a little hat-stealing fish to do? Hide. Hide ilke there's no tomorrow. Of course, the owner of the hat isn't about to give up easily, and those of us who've read I Want My Hat Back have some idea of what might happen to that fishy in the end...

This book was also the winner of the 2013 Caldecott Award, so congrats to Mr. Klassen and his obsession with animals, hats, and animals that steal hats.

Notes from the playlist: "Bangarang" by Skrillex

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Currently Reading

I've been reading this series and relatively enjoying it. Reyes is always a bit of a treat and I love how Jones writes him in the pages and how Charlie always reacts to him. It's an interesting story so far, though I have to admit the fact that people openly acknowledge that they have information that could probably very useful to Charlie bugs me. That she doesn't ever get annoyed enough to even demand they hand over that knowledge drives me nuts. But oh well. Entertaining. Though I am starting to get to that point that I'd be okay with the series ending. However, with the way things are going, it feels like there's probably at least one more book in the works.  Hard to say right now whether or not I'd be interested though. Maybe if it were the last one. If not, dunno. But until then, I raise a glass and say, "More Reyes!"

Notes from the playlist: "One Way Trip" by Alan Silvestri

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Recently Finished

Body & Soul by Stacey Kade

I've been eager to get my hands on this one because I really wanted to see how this little trilogy wrapped up. I read this in just a couple of days, and it works. Alona and Will are trying to figure out what to do about the whole Lily situation, and as if that weren't enough, now there's some strange ghost haunting one of Alona's old friends.  The problem there is that the ghost is claiming to be Alona.  So many questions. So many problems. Not nearly enough answers. Sometimes I did wish Alona and Will would have had a bit better communication, and it never was quite explained just how a specific spirit had so much power, but all's well that ends well. It's a good trilogy with some fun ideas and if you're looking for something a bit different then it's a solid bet. Remember not to let the "ghost and the goth" label fool you - this isn't your classic hot girl hooks up with goth guy story at all. Not by a long shot. So go for it, and make sure you start with the first book, The Ghost and the Goth.

Notes from the playlist: "Little Talks" by Monsters and Men.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Recommended for Bleeding Hearts

by Kelly DiPucchio and Scott Campbell

Well, another Valentine's Day has passed us by, but this post comes a little late...which makes it more apt I should think, as we are ressurrecting the holiday to showcase this book.  Since I've already recommended Warm Bodies to you, I'm instead opting for the giggle-worthy child counterpart of Zombie in Love (though the two aren't related at all, I do find it funny that the main character here is a zombie named Mortimer - and R's friend in Warm Bodies was named M.  Perhaps this is his story...heheh).  Mortimer is looking for love, but he's not exactly the warm, snuggly type. He is, after all, a zombie.  But will he find someone to go with him to the Cupid's ball? Perhaps...especially since we all know that there's never just one zombie shambling around out there.  The illustrations are as colorful as can be for zombies, and there are a few silly elements that are bound to delight readers, such as Mortimer's zombified dog and his hand chew toy (...or is it a chew toy?). Great for Valentine's Day, Halloween, or any time because let's face it, zombies aren't exactly sticking to one holiday anymore, are they?

Notes from the playlist: "I Knew You Were Trouble" by Taylor Swift

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Just Cracked Open

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

I've been so busy working and working that I haven't had time to read - much less update this blog.  Which is pretty annoying, so I made February my month to get things done.  There are two books that came out recently that I've been dying to get my hands on.  One is Beth Revis's Shades of Earth, the final book in her trilogy, and another is this one, Veronica Rossi's second.  I read her first book when it was still an advance reader copy.  I wasn't sure it would be something I would be into, but I was wrong.  I had a great time reading it and looked forward to the next book - which is finally out.  I was thrilled when I saw it on my cart (being in charge of the teen section at my bookstore and all) and knew I needed to find the time to read it. So continues the story of Aria and Perry to find the Still Blue - a place safe from the Aether that twists and curls through the sky to kill wanderers at any minute.  Will they find it? (probably not in this book) What will happen if they don't? (now that, friends, is the real question and what I'm interested in).  Throw in the other unique characters that have their own set of issues and it's bound to be a good time.

Notes from the playlist: "Some Nights" by Fun.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Whoops! I completely forgot to mention this. Last month I reviewed Stephanie Garber's amazing book Caraval for the web blog I curre...