Archive for March, 2011

Once A Witch – By Carolyn MacCullough
March 31, 2011

So, this book is basically a YA version of  A Discovery of Witches. And that’s totally cool. If you don’t want to read a really long book for grown-ups right now, but you still want to read about witches and blood feuds and secret books and time travel and big rambling houses in upstate New York – this is the book for you!

Once A Witch is the story of Tasmin, a snarky cigarette smoking teenager born into a family of powerful witches. Unfortunately, Tasmin seems to have failed to manifest a magical Talent as expected, and is the proverbial black sheep of her family. Overshadowed by a beautiful and Talented sister, Tasmin feels like she dosen’t belong in her own family.  So in an attempt to escape the disappointed and piteous gazes of her magically inclined family, she attends a boarding school for humans in New York City.

While home from school for the summer, Tasmin reconnects with childhood friend-that’s-a-boy, Gabriel – who has grown into a hot musician who can time travel. She also falls into the magical trap of a scary-yet-sexy NYU professor and places the existence of her entire family in jeopardy.

This book features several things that I ADORE in a YA book:

1) Gorgeous cover art!

2) Boarding School!!

3) Supernatural shenanigans

4) Teenage drinking and smoking presented in a non-judgmental manner

The sequel to this story – Always a Witch -will be available August and I will surely continue to follow Tasmin’s tale of late blooming magical powers. You should too!

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Goodbye, Garnet Lacey
March 24, 2011

I recently finished reading Honeymoon of The Dead, the final book in Tate Hallaway’s series about reluctant Midwestern witch Garnet Lacey.

I really liked these books, and I am bit sad to see them end. At the same time, I’m glad that Ms. Hallaway quit when she did, instead of sacrificing good storytelling to the great god of sequel sales (nudge, nudge, Charlaine Harris).

Speaking of Charlaine Harris, I probably wouldn’t have discovered these books had I not read – and mostly loved – the Southern Vampire Mysteries series (AKA the books behind the solidly awesome HBO series True Blood).

After finishing what may be the last palatable book in the SVM series (Dead and Gone) I was very sad and longing for a paranormal mystery with a dash of romance to soothe me.

Fortune, it seemed, smiled upon me and I stumbled upon the first book in this series –  Tall, Dark and Dead. I immediately liked Garnet – with her spiky, dyed black hair and gothic fashion sensibilities. Under the spooky facade, Garnet is real witch, who is also a Wiccan (yes, Darlings, there is a difference) with a New Age-y leftist bent. Add a vampire boyfriend and some wacky magical shenanigans and I was totally hooked for the first 4 books.

These books also feature some of my favorite book covers in the history of cartoon-style book covers.  Its unknown if I would have loved the books quite as much as I did were it not for these whimsical portrayals of the witchy Miss Lacey and her feline friend. The dead-themed titles didn’t hurt either.

The mysteries and romantic entanglements may be a little formulaic and predicable, but they are still solidly fun and engaging. More than anything,  I liked the humorous and snarky way Garnet balances the demands of being possessed by the Goddess Lilith, falling in love with a sexy vampire and managing an occult bookstore – all while living in a cute vintage apartment in a quirky neighborhood of a small Midwestern city.

In essence, these books are your standard issue fluffy chick-lit focusing on a sexy independent single girl – with a darkly paranormal twist.

Dead Sexy and Romancing the Dead continued Garnet’s magical sleuthing and adventurous romance with daywalking vampire Sebastian Von Traum.

My amusement began to wear thin with the fourth installment, Dead if I Do. I was disappointed that Garnet moved out of her adorable apartment and started settling down into a serious life with her vampire lover, his zombie ex-wife and sullen half-vampire son. But, I had invested in Garnet and even married, she was sure to still be funny and prone to disasters of the supernatural variety. And she was.

But after finishing reading Dead if I Do, a few things happened that may have impacted how I felt about Honeymoon of the Dead. The first is that I read Richelle Mead’s series about another bookstore employee with supernatural powers. Richelle Mead’s Succubus series is funny and sexy and dark and tragic  – and pretty much all around one of the best paranormal series in all of creation.

If that wasn’t enough to overcome,  I also stared reading the personal blog of author Tate Hallaway.

Having learned more that I probably should about the author’s personal life,  Honeymoon of the Dead seems distractingly overburdened with thinly veiled personal references and shout-outs to her hometown of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. In fact, parts of the book reads like chamber of commerce propaganda for the Twin Cities. Maybe a lot of authors do this, and I don’t know enough about their personal lives to identify and be distracted by it.

However, I also read the personal blog of Richelle Mead, and know all kinds of trivia about her life, but I’m never distracted by self-referential commentary in her novels. So, who knows? In any event, its probably not fair to compare mere mortals to book-goddess Richelle Mead anyway.

Once I was able to get past the shout-outs and I did enjoy the book and was happy with how Garnet’s story ended. However, I cannot get past the horror that is the cover art. I don’t know where this cover came from, but I wish it would go back.

While the series may have gone on a little longer than it needed to, it was fun and entertaining throughout. I think I will miss Garnet, but I am reassured to hear that Tate Hallaway has expanded into YA fiction and has a series of vampire themed books set in – where else – Minneapolis/St. Paul. I can’t resist a YA book, as well you know, so you can expect to hear more about Almost to Die For soon!

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah E. Harkness
March 20, 2011

Are you guys surprised to hear that this book has been called “Twilight for Adults”?

I know, I know, it seems like all it takes to get me to read a book is to call it “the new Twilight” or “Twilight for grown-ups”. I’m easy like that. But, I seriously didn’t know that people were comparing this book to Twilight until I had already started reading it. Of course, after hearing the comparison, I was hyper-vigilant for Twilight references. I have to say, the comparing was exhausting and eventually boring and at a certain point, I just abandoned it and just read the story.

While I see why people compare the books, but I don’t know that I would have made the comparison on my own. Every book with a vampire isn’t Twilight you guys, and I kind of wish that people would stop comparing every vampire book with Twilight. (When I say “people”, I obviously don’t include myself and I will continue to compare things to Twilight as I see fit. So there. 😛 )

A Discovery of Witches is the story of Diana Bishop, a scholar of alchemical literature who falls in love with a vampire. Unlike Twilight, that is the least complicated part of the story. It’s really about secret books and secret societies and secret powers.

For a girl who has been reading YA books almost exclusively for years now, it was also really long. I kind of liked that despite reading almost every day, it still took me weeks to read this book. Usually, I get obsessed with a book, and read it all in a few days, and then its over and I’m sad. In this case, I was obsessed, but it was really long and I really couldn’t just read it in a day.

I heard through the book grapevine that my dear friend Vampire Susan read this book and commented that it was very science-y and she had to skip some parts. I love Vampire Susan, and totally understand how the science could be boring, but I secretly love science, so I kind of liked the science stuff. It was also very history-ish, and I am not as good at history, so I felt like maybe there were history jokes being made and I didn’t get them. Also, I read the About The Author part on the back of the book and found out that author – Deborah E. Harkness –  is a professor of history, and I honestly felt a little intimidated.  However, she is also really into wine so I felt like she couldn’t be too scary.

I was actually quite swept away by the romance and intrigue and science and history of the story. One evening,  I missed part of Jersey Shore because I was so captivated. I don’t know what else I could tell you that would communicate how good this book is.

Please be forewarned that this book is intended to be the first of a series, scheduled to continue in 2012. While its clear when you reach the end of the book that it will continue, it isn’t a terrible cliffhanger. That being said, I am really interested in finding out what happens next and will surely read the sequel as soon as its released.

As you guys know, I am OBSESSED with book covers. Little do you know, I am also really into book titles. The cover of this book is just words and symbols, but the spine contains a pretty picture of Oxford. However, I don’t really like the title of the book, and feel like it should have been called Spellbound. Read the book and tell me if you agree!

 

Friday
March 12, 2011

So, this video just blew my f*cking mind.

Behold:

A lot of stuff just happened here, so allow me to help you process what you just saw.

Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years has obviously built her own time machine and has traveled forward in time to 2011. She’s wearing an obscene amount of make up. In addition, its Friday. Furthermore, yesterday was Thursday and tomorrow is Saturday and Sunday comes afterward.

Friday is good because of its proximity to the weekend, which is fun. Fun is difficult to define, but YOU know what it is.

Finally, each day of the week has a song. I was NOT aware of this! Now that I know, I have written them here, so as not to forget:

Sunday: Another Plesant Valley Sunday

Monday: Manic Monday

Tuesday: Tuesday’s Gone With the Wind

Wednesday: Listen to Wednesday’s Song

Thursday: I Am Thursday’s Child

Friday: Friday I’m In Love

(I checked the internet and all of those appear to be actual songs)