25 Jun 2010

Book Review - Pretty When She Dies

Title: Pretty When She Dies
Author: Rhiannon Frater
Source: Own it
Format: Ebook
Publisher: February 12th 2009 by Smashwords, Inc.
Rating: 3 stars

Amaliya wakes under the forest floor, disoriented, famished and confused. She digs out of the shallow grave and realizes she is hungry... ... in a new, horrific, unimaginable way... Sating her great hunger, she discovers that she is now a vampire, the bloodthirsty creature of legend. She has no choice but to flee from her old life and travels across Texas. Her new hunger spurs her to leave a wake of death and blood behind her as she struggles with her new nature. All the while, her creator is watching. He is ancient, he is powerful, and what's worse is that he's a necromancer. He has the power to force the dead to do his bidding. Amaliya realizes she is but a pawn in a twisted game, and her only hope for survival is to seek out one of her own kind. But if Amaliya finds another vampire, will it mean her salvation... or her death?
My first Rhiannon Frater book, but certainly not my last. I rather enjoyed her style of writing and am looking forward to reading her zombie trilogy.

Pretty When She Dies... not exactly a title that left me super curious about the book, but that cover sure did. In case you haven't been watching, I'm somewhat of a sucker for a good vampire story; especially if said story has vampires that aren't emo and vegetarian. No worries on that front in this novel. These vampires know what they need to survive and how to go about getting it.

The book starts off with a bang; Amaliya pushing her way out of a grave and trying to figure out what the hell happened to her. From there it only gets better as she has to figure out how to survive as a vampire with absolutely no instructions from her maker (who's a real piece of work himself).

Despite a few editorial errors, the novel was a hit with me. Great pacing and a kick ass heroine who has her faults and knows it. A few pretty hot sex scenes, great supporting cast of characters (love, love, loved the Gramma), and a decent plot line -- not much more I could ask for in a vampire story... except maybe a sequel?

18 Jun 2010

Yet another new toy

The back, showing off the spiffy Gelaskin art.
 Well, I was supposed to get this for my birthday, but after moaning and groaning over how much I wanted one and making moon eyes at it every time we were in Chapters, the man caved and bought me my very own Kobo last weekend.

Now I really wasn't fussy on the white version; I really wanted the black but they didn't have any in stock so I sighed all dramatic like and went with the white but picked up one of these really cool Gelaskins for it.  I think I shall become a Gelaskin junkie and change it up every couple months or so, they're just that cool.  (Check out the huge stock of images they have over at their very own website. They have skins for all kinds of devices, not just Kobos.
The front of the device; very uncluttered.

The only things I don't like about the Kobo are the software that came with it and the fact that there isn't a page count for the whole book.  The Kobo desktop software is not a very intuitive piece of software.  In fact it is actually rather awkward and annoying to use so I just stick with the Adobe Digital Editions and move my books around that way.  Hopefully the Kobo designers will come up with a more functional software in the near future.  As for the page count, the Kobo has a page count per chapter and when you are reviewing your 'currently reading' list is will tell you what chapter you are on for each book rather than a page count or percent done.  Not a huge, huge issue for most people but it makes updating my read progress at Goodreads a tad annoying.

Overall, though, I really, really love the screen on this thing.  Much easier on the eyes than my Libre (though I still have the Libre around because I just can't convince myself to pass it along to someone else) and the unit is much lighter than the Libre as well.  The fact that there are no page turn buttons on the left side took a while for me to get used to, but I'm cruising along fairly well with the Kobo now.  Even the 'flash' on page turns doesn't bother me now that I'm used to it.

I've read three books on it so far (reviews for them upcoming - wanted to finish the series and review them as a whole) and have started a fourth so obviously it was a good idea.

7 Jun 2010

Book Review - The Book Thief

Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Source: Own
Pages: 552
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
ISBN-13: 978-0-375-84220-7
Rating: 4 stars

By her brother's graveside, Liesel Meminger's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow.  It is The Grave Digger's Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery.  So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read.  Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever there are books to be found.  But these are dangerous times.  When Liesel's foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up and closed down.  In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.
 Narrated by Death, this is basically Liesel's coming of age story set against the backdrop of Nazi Germany.  Sent off to live with a foster family because her mother was unable to care for her (reasons never really gotten into beyond 'unable to afford it'), Liesel manages to settle into life on Himmel Street with the help of her foster father, Hans.  He stays by her during her nightmares and, eventually, helps her learn to read.  Her foster mother, Rosa, is a strong lady with a foul mouth who appears to be rather verbally abusive but in reality truly cares about those in her home.

Death as a narrator was gimmicky and yes it got rather annoying to have those random bolded lists pop up in the middle of chapters with Death's 'info you should probably know now', but overall the writing was fantastic.  The main characters were sufficiently fleshed out and each had their quirks - they felt real and I cared about what was going to happen to them (even after Death foreshadowed events to death :p).  The concept of Liesel as a book thief was, in my opinion, rather weak considering her only real theft was the Grave Digger's Handbook.  Rudy summed it up perfectly:
"You know something, Liesel, I was thinking.  You're not a thief at all," and he didn't give her a chance to reply.  "That woman lets you in.  She even leaves you cookies, for Christ's sake.  I don't call that stealing.  Stealing is what the army does.  Taking your father and mine."
 So why did I give it four stars?  Because I really did enjoy reading it.  The story flowed very well and I wanted to see how events were going to play out.  I wanted Liesel to kiss Rudy each time he asked her for one.  I wanted everything to end with a 'happily ever after' even though I knew it was very unlikely.  I wanted Liesel to grow up and realize that life and war aren't fair and that everyone was just holding their breaths waiting to see what would happen next, and it was good to see that she did learn something about the adult world around her.  Basically, even though some of the gimmicks Zusak used felt out of place and contrived, the overall story and characters more than made up for it, in my opinion.

The Book Thief was well worth my reading time and I'm going to see if I can't convince my eldest to give it a shot as well.

5 Jun 2010

Weekly Geeks: 2010-20 The Wishlist

Is your wishlist as big as your TBR pile? What books are topping your list? Are there any new releases that you are counting down the days for? Share a handful of titles and be sure to share why you want to get your hands on these books! And if another blogger is responsible for that book being on your wishlist, consider sharing a link to their review!

This is my first Weekly Geeks question/answer session.  I kind of stumbled onto it via a link from a link from a link ... you know how those internet surfing chain link clicking days go.  Anyhow, onto my answers.

I have a wishlist at amazon.ca.  Sometimes I even remember to update it, but that's usually around Christmas time when I need to email it out to people that are bugging me for the yearly "book list" so they can figure out what to buy for me.  These days I just add the books I want to read to my TBR list over on Goodreads.  It is a faster/simpler way for me to keep track of things that look interesting.  Especially handy because a lot of the 'oooh that actually looks good' titles tend to come from the group I belong to over there, so it's really easy to just hit the 'add to shelf' button.

I am a bad bookish type.  I don't really watch the calendar for release dates anymore.  I have missed a few really good books that way, but I find I'm simply not interested in picking up hardcovers anymore.  I used to neeeeeeed to get the newest Stephen King titles as soon as they were released, but I've since managed to bite that habit in the butt.  So, I'd have to say there aren't any releases that I'm counting down the ... oh wait, not true.  I'm counting down the days to Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. Oh wait, I lied some more.  I neeeeeeed to get my hands on the second and third books in Guillermo del Toro's Strain trilogy.

The Passage by Justin Cronin: This is tops on my wishlist at the moment simply because a) the description vaguely sounds like The Stand and some vampire stuff all mushed into one and b) Stephen King says it will rock my socks.  Seriously though, I'm hearing really good things about this book and it is nice to see more 'bad' vampire books coming out vs fluffy/romancy/soft vampires :p

Angelology by Danielle Trussoni: I blame this one partly on my own curiosity but mostly because of Pam's review on Bookalicious.

Fat Vampire: A Never Coming of Age Story by Adam Rex: Kind of fell onto this one by accident.  Was looking at HarperCollins catalogue online, then ended up over at Harper Teen and I couldn't resist the title.  Read the synopsis and was hooked.  Looking forward to reading this one.

Monster Island, Monster Nation, Monster Planet by David Wellington: I loved Wellington's vampire and werewolf books so I'm just dying to see what he does with zombies.

There are a ton more on my TBR/Wishlist list at Goodreads, but I think those are the ones I wouldn't mind getting my paws on first.

4 Jun 2010

A bit more game talk

Who ya gonna call? Ghost hunting in action.
So I've had more time to dig into The Sims 3: Ambitions expansion and have decided that this is one expansion I'm really glad I purchased. I take back my previous statement that the Education career path is new - I realize now it was in the original game all along, I just never played it - and instead give you laundry! Yes, for all those who had been asking, EA finally broke down and gave you the ability for your sims to do laundry.

I've created a new sim, Eleanor Rigby, and she's moving up the chain in the Ghost Hunter profession.  Currently she's at level 8, though the image to the left shows her at a lower level as she busts some seriously angry ghosts.  On top of that, she has maxed out her Inventor skill and now I just need to work through the chain of items that the science lab wants me to turn in before I can make my first robot.  Love, love, love this expansion.

Everyone should have a two headed, flaming doggie!
Remember when I talked about getting my WoW account hacked?  Well it took about ten days, but Blizzard finally got everything sorted out.  I have my level 80 toons back and everything that was taken has been returned to all the toons on my account plus to the guild master of the guild my 80's are in.  Whew.  So I decided it was time to invest in a little more security for my account.  I purchased (and received via UPS today) the Blizzard authenticator gizmo and it has been set up on my account.  The added bonus, for me anyway because I have a huge vanity pet addiction, is that the authenticator purchase comes with an in game pet: the corehound.  So now my tree can wander around with a two-headed, flaming beast behind him all the time.  It doesn't hurt that the idle animations are adorable - the two heads fight over a bone, it rolls over and begs.

In book news:  Kobo is having a week long iPad giveaway so I broke down and ordered seven ebooks (entry limit was six, but there was one more I wanted anyway) and will keep my fingers crossed.  So now I have my ereader loaded up with two series - Molly Harper's Nice Girls ... books as well as Rhiannon Frater's As the World Dies zombie trilogy - and a stand alone vampire novel (Pretty When She Dies also by Frater).

I'm currently working my way through Markus Zusak's The Book Thief for my latest Refer-A-Book Friday read.  On deck is Town House by Tish Cohen, an impulse buy at Costco.  I'll post reviews when I'm done.
I did write a review for Columbine over at Goodreads, but I haven't brought it over here.  I've been thinking about how my reviews are written and I may just try a more conversational tone, like I did with the Sims Ambitions post.  I found it easier to write that than the last few reviews I've posted.  Still trying to find my 'book review' voice, I guess you could say.

'til next time.

2 Jun 2010

The Sims 3: Ambitions Expansion Pack

The new Sims 3 expansion pack, Ambitions, was released yesterday and I got my paws on a copy. I've been a HUGE Sims fan ever since the first installment was released and I've usually picked up each new iteration as it came out (with the exception of the Stuff packs for Sims 2 ... those never really interested me). When Ambitions was announced I was tickled. Finally we'd be able to control our Sims while they went about their workday.

I've been tinkering at the new game play for less than a day now, but I'm already in love with all the stuff I've poked at. I created a new Sim in the new town that comes with the expansion, Twinbrook, and installed him in the fire fighting profession. Yes, your Sims can now have a job or a profession - far as I know only the professions are playable, the jobs are still run the standard way - and fire fighting is just one of them. Being able to upgrade your fire extinguisher (upper image) and actually fighting fires in other sims' houses (lower image) are only a few of the interesting things the fire fighter profession lets your Sim do. You get to hang out at the fire station during your work day and get buddy buddy with your fellow fire fighters. While at the station you can work on your athletic and handiness skills (very important for a fire fighter, especially to keep the truck in good repair), upgrade/maintain the alarm system, upgrade/repair the fire truck and just generally keep your fire fighting Sim in good spirits as you wait for the next emergency to come in.

Along with the new town and the fire fighter profession we've also been given new items, build objects, decorations, and Sims can look up available real estate for sale using their phone or computer.  In addition to fire fighting, your Sims can also be private investigators, tattoo artists, makeover experts, architectural designers, inventors, sculptors, and ghost hunters.  Doctor sims will be able to make house calls and have to respond to emergencies in town.  I also noticed that there is an educational career path now as well (you can join it at the school in town) and sims can list themselves as self-employed at city hall.  Sims who produce things (inventions, sculptors, produce, fish, etc) can now put their items up for sale at the new consignment shop in town.  If the item sells they get the simoleans, if not it gets returned to them in the mail.

Overall I am really enjoying all the new bits and pieces in the expansion, though I have a lot more to try out and tinker with.  My fire fighter is currently the fire chief (level 7 in the profession) and has the life long wish to save a whole bunch of lives (2 so far!).  I think I'll create a mad scientist type next, just for laughs.

If you're into the Sims at all, this is a great expansion pack to add to your collection.
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