Sunday, February 28, 2010

In My Mailbox (24)

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.


Look what I got this week:

Lovely gooey horror! I think this is also called The New Dead elsewhere in the world, but this Australian/UK edition is called Zombie: An Anthology of the Undead, edited by Christopher Golden.

My library request for The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi came in finally. I WoWed this a short while ago, even though it's one for adults, because it's dystopian and has had rave reviews. Bacigalupi has a YA dystopian coming out later in the year as well, called Shipbreaker.

Also for review I received Blue Bloods and Masquerade by Melissa de la Cruz. I really love these covers compared to the US ones. What do you think?

Up this week will be reviews of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (in a word, outstanding), The Puzzle Ring by Kate Forsyth (delicious) and The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan (Frakking. Awesome.) I have so much catching up to do! With any luck I'll also get my reviews of If I Stay by Gayle Foreman and A Breath in May by Robin Hogan up as well.

So what did you get?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Review: Spellbinder by LJ Smith (Night World book 3)

Her name is Blaise and she's irresistible to boys. Her dark, smoldering beauty is an invitation to jealousy and madness. And now she's ready for the kill. Eric Ross is the perfect catch, a star athlete who wants to be a vet. "Hands off," warns her cousin Thea, who is determined to protect this particular human boy from the girl who was born to destroy men.

Blaise's black magic is powerful. The only way Thea can fight back is to use her own white magic, to bewitch Eric herself as a bluff. But soon Thea finds herself getting to close to Eric, feeling forbidden emotions, breaking Night World laws. Falling in love. As Halloween and the Night of the Witch draw closer, can Thea save Eric--and herself--from Blaise's vengeance.

In the third Night World book (1996) we turn from vampires to witches. In the nineties witches were paranormal characters du jour, thanks to fantastic movies like The Craft and Buffy's Willow. There's witchy books around today, but not like the ones we had in the nineties. For some reason witches were huge in the nineties. I want to say something snappy about third wave feminism, empowerment and speculative fiction, but I'll keep off my soap box until I've formulated a coherent thought!

I found the setting that Smith created in Spellbinder was more vivid than that of the previous Night World novel, Daughters of Darkness. I loved the shop full of crystals and herbs, the descriptions of Blaise's jewellery making.

I finished reading this book about a month ago, so unfortunately I can't go into too much detail here. It's going to take me a little while to catch up on my reviews, and they may suffer because of the lag between reading the book and writing the review. I can recommend Spellbinder as an excellent addition to a witchy fans library. It's also a fantastic continuation of the Night World saga as there's a sense of those that defy Night World rule are beginning to band together--Thea seeks out Ash, the human-hating vampire who fell in love with a human girl in Daughters of Darkness. Ash is so far my favourite Night World character, and I hope he keeps popping up in more books in the series.

Next in the Night World series is Dark Angel, which is about a fallen angel in love with a human girl, aka Proof That LJ Smith Did Everything That's Popular Now Back in the Nineties!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In My Mailbox (23)

This meme is hosted by The Story Siren.

Why hello, blogosphere! I've missed you so. Big apologies for my absence. For me, 2010 began as a total lemon. I've had three awful things happen. As bad things come in three, the rest of the year is sure to be much better. I know it will be super awesome if Lharmell sells, so what do you reckon, universe? Wanna throw me a bone? Feedback from submissions are progressing painfully slowly, with good and bad news dribbling through via Ginger every week or so. I should have my nose in a new project but I must admit to being so distracted the last week and a half I've hardly even read a page, let alone written one. (The distraction is of the most pleasant variety: Latin, and totally gorgeous. Right at this minute he's reading my book. Really, there's nothing sexier!)

Here's what I've gotten recently.

For review:

Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card, the new edition from Walker books. I adored Ender's Game. Can't wait to see what the sequel is like.


Need by Carrie Jones. Thanks so much Becky of The Bookette for sending me this one! I'll be sending you something spiffy in return.

So tell me, what have I missed? What scandals have rocked our little corner of the interwebs? What hot new book has everyone WoWed that I have no idea about? Tell me all! And I'll be dropping by your blogs very, very soon.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

In response to Kay's The Beauty of Reading

Recently I picked up this printed miniature in an op shop of a little girl reading. How lovely is it? It's about four inches tall and I've hung it up next to my main book shelf, right next to where I write.

Kay's been doing a series of posts in which she features paintings of women reading. They're simply beautiful, and full of so much love. I imagine most were painted by lovers and fathers and brothers of the women in their lives. The expressions are full of sweet repose.

Does anyone recognise the picture above? I imagine it's from some nineteenth-century painting, but I have no idea which one. I'd be curious to know so when I have people over for dinner I can say, Oh, that's blah-blah by blah-blah-blah; isn't she sweet?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Reading for comfort: Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

Pauline, Petrova and Posy are the three wards of Gum, short for Great Uncle Matthew--a fossil collector that travels all over the world. He places the girls, as babies, into the capable hands of his niece Sylvia and Nana, her nurse. Pauline he rescues from a shipwreck; Petrova is an orphan of Russian parents; and Posy is the daughter of a great dancer, a single mother who can't afford to keep her. They are all brought one by one to the house in the Cromwell Road, and then Gum disappears on his longest trip away yet. Desperate for money, Sylvia, whom the girls call Garnie (a shortened form of "Guardian"), takes in borders. Each border is highly influential on the girls' lives, and it is decided that they shall learn dancing and acting in order for them to earn a little money once they are twelve. All three from vastly different backgrounds, they exhibit varied talents and hopes for the future. The vow they make on their birthdays each year binds them together: that they put Fossil, the last name they choose for themselves, in the history books.

When I was a child I had an audio book of Ballet Shoes, read by Jan Francis, that I listened to many, many times. I was a ballet student at the time, and although I wasn't very good I absolutely loved my dance classes. I loved the ballet-pink tights and white leotards; the older girls in their pointe shoes; the chalk powder on the stage at the end of year performances. I found Ballet Shoes so fascinating. The girls came from another world, one of shillings and proper teas and whooping cough. I loved how they, at such a young age, were able to begin earning money on the stage to help with the running of the household. How new clothes were always such an issue as they needed nice dresses for auditions, and they would buy organdie and velvet in yards and Nana and Cook and Clara would run the dresses up in one mad afternoon.

I bought a sweet hardcover edition recently to read again, and I was surprised to find that the audio version that I'd loved was slightly abridged. It was a real treat, because it meant now I was able to read even more Ballet Shoes! The best comfort books, I think, are favourites from your childhood. When I'm feeling blue I also love to reread the Narnia books and a beautiful fairytale-style story called The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye.

Now older, I was able to sympathise a lot more with Petrova Fossil. As a girl I was fascinated with Pauline, the actress, and Posy, the prima ballerina-in-the-making. Petrova is probably the most likable and authentic of the three girls, the one who hides her distaste for dancing as they so desperately need the money she can bring in as a dancer. Pauline, as the eldest, feels responsibility the keenest, and in the end makes the biggest sacrifice of all. I'm the baby of my family--well, the youngest of two--and while I find Pauline noble, I didn't identify much with her, now or as a child. Posy was always my favourite, for her sense of fun and her love of dancing. At the end of the novel the author invites the reader to choose which Fossil they would choose to be. I always wanted to be Posy. I still want to be Posy, but I have a new found love for Petrova, despite not having a great affection for cars and aeroplanes.

Which Fossil did you want to be? Also, has anyone seen the film version of Ballet Shoes? Is it good?

As I said the other day, I had a very bad weekend. I broke up with my boyfriend. It was very sudden. Very heart-breaking. It's a mixed blessing being the one who gets to keep the apartment. Coming home and seeing holes in places where his things used to be, or our things that he has taken, has been a very distressing experience. So is walking the streets around here, where we lived together for more than a year, and seeing "our" cafe and walking "our" route home. We had nearly three years together. They went so fast, and they were very happy ones.

On Wednesday I got the terrible news that a family member had died. It was unexpected, untimely and tragic. I still don't know why it happened. I don't understand at all.

Thank you for all the lovely messages that have been sent. I will try and reply to them individually very soon. I haven't been reading as many posts as I meant to these last few weeks, and there are several blogs that I always like to comment on. I'm sorry for my absence, and I will be back to myself anon.

Meanwhile, which books do you read for comfort? Lauren said she had a big list to share with me. Do share, Lauren!

Monday, February 1, 2010

In My Mailbox (22)

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

I have had shocker of a weekend. My friends are looking after me and I'm reading one of my favourite comfort books, Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield. I'll be myself again soon, I think. I'll explain another time, but it hasn't got anything to do with my writing.

This really brightened my Saturday morning, a present from the lovely Lenore:

I have been so anxious to get a copy of The Line and Lenore was lovely enough to send me her spare copy all the way from Germany. In return I sent her my copy of The Monstrumologist, one of my favourite books from last year. If you haven't read it and love Victorian Gothic, you simply must. It will give your vocab a good workout too.

Thank you, Lenore! You continue to be the most generous, warm-spirited blogger I know.