Friday, May 27, 2011

Peanut Zombies

Posted by Simcha 5:01 AM, under , | 5 comments

Now peanut zombies I think I could handle.

Via Imagur

And for those of you who enjoyed the CDC's zombie apocalypse article then you should check out this follow-up interview in the Washington Post with one of my favorite bloggers, Jenny Lawsonwho never fails to crack me up with her quirky humor.

    Yes, I know some people will say that zombies are so 2009 and that I should move on but I’m sorry but cholera was so 1892 but I’m still pretty concerned about that too. Plus, cholera won’t eat your face off and also those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it. Except that the zombie apocalypse hasn’t even happened yet so we don’t even have past evidence to go on.

Read more here

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Girl With the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

Posted by Simcha 5:21 PM, under | 4 comments

After being being fired from each of her previous jobs, sixteen- year old Finley Jane is determined to succeed at her current position as a maid for Lady Alyiss. But when Finley is cornered by her employer's vicious son, her dark side once again breaks free, leaving the young lord nearly dead. Frightened of the consequences she would face, Finley flees from the mansion, right into the path of a speeding carriage.

Luckily for Finley the carriage that hits her belongs to Griffin King, one of the few people who understands what it’s like to be different and who may actually be able to help her. Griffin and his friends each have unique abilities which are somehow linked to a special matter that was discovered by Griffin’s parents, in the center of the Earth.

Griffin feels an immediate connection to Finley and seeing her desperate situation, he invites her to his manor where he and his friends reside. But Griffin doesn’t realize the extent of the darkness that lurks within Finley and his friends are weary of this dangerous stranger suddenly among them.

Meanwhile a criminal mastermind is using automations to commit crimes and Griffin and his friends are determined to stop him, especially since he seems to know some of the secrets that Griffin’s group have been so careful to hide.

The Girl is the Steel Corset should have been a really good book. The story-line was interesting and there were a lot of intriguing possibilities, but after the strong beginning it pretty much loses momentum and just drags along. It’s hard for me to really pinpoint what went wrong here but I think I would say a lot of it had to do with the characters, who should have been really interesting but instead were underdeveloped and bland.

At the center of the story is Finley, a young woman who has begin to experience some frightening changes that she is unable to understand. There is a darkness building inside of her that at times completely takes over, leaving Finley helpless within her own body. This darker side of Finley is stronger and wilder then Finley herself and it tends to leave behind her a trail of carnage that Finley is unable to explain. The revelations made about Finley were probably my favorite parts of the story and I would have liked this story-line to have been explored in more depth, but unfortunately it got overshadowed by the romantic plotline.

Each of Griffin’s other friends also struggle with inner conflicts which I couldn’t bring myself to care about and at times just irritated me. And once again, the romantic entanglements seemed to get in the way of the story telling.

The only character in the book that I really enjoyed reading about was Jack Dandy the dangerous crime boss of Whitechapel, who Finley’s darker personality is drawn to. But even Jack was disappointing in how tame he was, not doing anything in the story to actually earn his fearful reputation.

If the characters been more alive and complex the whole story would have been a whole lot richer, but it still wouldn’t have fixed all it’s faults. There were some details of the story that never really made sense to me, like why Finley was desperate for a job when she had parents that were alive and well, and why they were not aware of the struggle she was going through. There was too much about her situation that seemed manufactured just to put Finley in the right place and time for other events to occur. There were also a lot of gadgets that kept popping up for no reason other than to make the book more “steampunk,” which wasn’t necessary considering that the plot revolved around killer automations.

While I did appreciate some of the creative ideas incorporated into The Girl in the Steel Corset, none of them were developed to my satisfaction and when I finished the book it was with some relief.

Monday, May 23, 2011

New Scifi and Fantasy Releases: Week of May 23

Blood Magic (The Blood Journals #1)
Tessa Gratton
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Random house
Release Date: May 24

This page-turning debut novel will entice fans who like their paranormal romances dark and disturbing. It's a natural next-read for fans of Stephanie Meyer, Carrie Jones, and Becca Fitzpatrick. But instead of mythical creatures, blood magic has everything to do with primal human desires like power, wealth, and immortality.

Everywhere Silla Kennicott turns she sees blood. She can't stop thinking about her parents alleged murder-suicide. She is consumed by a book filled with spells that arrives mysteriously in the mail. The spells share one common ingredient: blood, and Silla is more than willing to cast a few. What's a little spilled blood if she can uncover the truth? And then there's Nick—the new guy at school who makes her pulse race. He has a few secrets of his own and is all too familiar with the lure of blood magic. Drawn together by a combination of fate and chemistry, Silla and Nick must find out who else in their small Missouri town knows their secret and will do anything to take the book and magic from Silla.

Chasing the Moon
A. Lee Martinez
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: May 25

Diana’s life was in a rut — she hated her job, she was perpetually single, and she needed a place to live. But then the perfect apartment came along. It seemed too good to be true — because it was.
As it turns out, the apartment was already inhabited — by monsters. Vom the Hungering was the first to greet Diana and to warn her that his sole purpose in life was to eat everything in his path. This poses a problem for Diana since she’s in his path…and is forbidden from ever leaving the apartment.

It turns out though that there are older and more ancient monstrous entities afoot — ones who want to devour the moon and destroy the world as we know it. Can Diana, Vom, and the other horrors stop this from happening? Maybe if they can get Vom to stop eating everything…and everyone.


City of Ruins (Diving Universe #2)
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Pyr
Release Date: May 24

As Boss searches for the answer to the mystery of death holes, she will uncover the answer to her Dignity Vessel quest as well—and one more thing, something so important that it will change her life—and the universe—forever.


The Falling Machine (Society of Steam #1)
Andrew Mayer
Genre: Steampunk
Publisher: Pyr
Release Date: May 24

In 1880 women aren’t allowed to vote, much less dress up in a costume and fight crime. But nineteen year-old socialite Sarah Stanton still dreams of becoming a hero. Her opportunity arrives in tragedy when Dennis Darby, the leader of the Society of Paragons—New York’s greatest team of gentlemen adventurers—is murdered right before her eyes. To uncover the truth behind the assassination, Sarah joins forces with Darby's greatest creation; the amazing mechanical man known as The Automaton. Together they begin to unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the Paragons that reveals the world of heroes and high-society is built on a crumbling foundation of greed and lies. But it is only when Sarah comes face to face with the megalomaniacal villain behind the murder that she will discover if she has the courage to sacrifice her life of privilege and truly become the hero she has always wanted to be.


Mind Games
Taylor Keating
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: May 24

River Weston thinks her problems are over. She managed to escape the virtual world of her video game—and the clutches of the Dark Lord who attempted to enslave her—with body and mind intact. But her return to the real world is anything but easy. Framed for monstrous crimes she didn’t commit, and hunted by members of a dark government agency, it is all she can do to stay one step ahead of her pursuers.

Guardian Chase Hawkins gained his freedom from the Dark Lord’s prison, but it came with a heavy price. Trapped in another man’s body, his soul slowly deteriorating, Hawk knows he must return to his world—and his body—before the damage is irreparable.

Racing against time, River and Hawk know that in order to have a future together, they must work to reveal the secrets hidden in River’s past.


The Nebula Awards Showcase 2011
Kevin J. Anderson, ed.
Genre: Anthology
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: May 24

ith this inaugural volume at Tor, the annual Nebula Award collection is reborn as a fiction-only anthology. This collection of nominees for 2010’s Nebula Awards includes all of the prior year’s most celebrated stories, and will be published in time for the 2011 Nebula Awards in May, 2011.

2009’s award winners, announced in May 2010, include Kage Baker’s novella “The Women of Nell Gwynne’s,” Eugie Foster’s novelette “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast,” Kij Johnson’s short story “Spar,” plus Paolo Bacigalupi’s novelette, “The Gambler.”


The Girl in the Steel Corset
Kady Cross
Genre: YA Steampunk
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: May 24

In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one…except the "thing" inside her.
When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch….
Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.
Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help—and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.
But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on—even if it seems no one believes her.


Something Deadly This Way Comes (Madison Avery, Bk 3)
Kim Harrison
Genre: Young Adult Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: May 24

I'm Madison Avery, in charge of heaven's hit squad . . . and fighting it all the way.
When Madison died the night of her prom, she knew her life would never be the same. Now she has a powerful amulet, a team of rogue angels by her side, and the ability to flash forward into the future to see the shape of destiny. And of course, now she's finally with Josh—a perfect boyfriend who doesn't even mind that she's dead.
But being dead has its disadvantages, too. Madison feels caught between the light and the dark, and between her real life and her timekeeper status. When Madison has the opportunity to get her body back—to be alive again—she faces her most difficult decision yet. If she claims it, she could return to being a normal girl—and have a chance at a real relationship with Josh. But would having the one thing she wants most in the world also mean giving up everything she's worked so hard for?


The Warlock (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel #5)
Michael Scott
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 24

The fifth book in the New York Times bestselling series The Secrets of the Nicholas Flamel—The Warlock

Although their ally Dr. John Dee has been declared utlaga, Machiavelli and Billy the Kid will follow the plans the Elders have laid before them: they will loose the monsters of Alcatraz on the city of San Francisco, thereby triggering the end of the humani race.

Danu Talis:
The Shadowrealm that Scatty and Joan of Arc have entered is far more dangerous than they could ever have imagined. And they haven’t landed here by chance-the warriors were called for a reason. So were Saint-Germain, Palamededs, and Shakespeare. The group was summoned because they must travel back in time to Danu Talis and destroy it. For the island of Danu Talis, known in humani myth as the lost city of Atlantis, must fall if the modern world is to exist.

San Francisco:
The end is finally near. Josh Newman has chosen a side, and he will not stand with his sister, Sophie, or with the Alchemyst, Nicholas Flamel. He will fight alongside Dee and the mysterious Virginia Dare. Unless Sophie can find her twin before the battle begins, all is lost – forever.

In the fifth installment of this bestselling series, the twins of prophecy have been divided, and the end is finally beginning.

With Scatty, Joan of Arc, Saint Germain, Palamedes, and Shakespeare all in Danu Talis, Sophie is on her own with the ever-weakening Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel. She must depend on Niten to help her find an immortal to teach her Earth Magic. The surprise is that she will find her teacher in the most ordinary of places.


Warriors 2
Edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
Genre: Fantasy Anthology
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: May 24

The stories in the second mass market volume of this book are:

Introduction: Stories of the Spinner Rack, by George R. R. Martin

Seven Years from Home, by Naomi Novik

Dirae, by Peter S. Beagle

Ancient Ways, by S. M. Stirling

The Scroll, by David Ball

Recidivist, by Gardner Dozois

Ninieslando, by Howard Waldrop

Out of the Dark, by David Weber

Many of these writers are bestsellers. All of them are storytellers of the highest quality. Together they make a volume of unforgettable reading.


Jennifer Bradbury
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Atheneum
Release Date: May 23

Agnes Wilkins is standing in front of an Egyptian mummy, about to make the first cut into the wrappings, about to unlock ancient (and not-so-ancient) history.

Maybe you think this girl is wearing a pith helmet with antique dust swirling around her.

Maybe you think she is a young Egyptologist who has arrived in Cairo on camelback.

Maybe she would like to think that too. Agnes Wilkins dreams of adventures that reach beyond the garden walls, but reality for a seventeen-year-old debutante in 1815 London does not allow for camels—or dust, even. No, Agnes can only see a mummy when she is wearing a new silk gown and standing on the verdant lawns of Lord Showalter's estate, with chaperones fussing about and strolling sitar players straining to create an exotic "atmosphere" for the first party of the season. An unwrapping.

This is the start of it all, Agnes's debut season, the pretty girl parade that offers only ever-shrinking options: home, husband, and high society. It's also the start of something else, because the mummy Agnes unwraps isn't just a mummy. It's a host for a secret that could unravel a new destiny—unleashing mystery, an international intrigue, and possibly a curse in the bargain.

Get wrapped up in the adventure . . . but keep your wits about you, dear Agnes.


Welcome to Bordertown
Edited by Ellen Kusher, Holly Black
Genre: Anthology
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: May 24

Bordertown: a city on the border between our human world and the elfin realm. Runaway teens come from both sides of the border to find adventure, to find themselves. Elves play in rock bands and race down the street on spell-powered motorbikes. Human kids recreate themselves in the squats and clubs and artists' studios of Soho. Terri Windling's original Bordertown series was the forerunner of today's urban fantasy, introducing authors that included Charles de Lint, Will Shetterly, Emma Bull, and Ellen Kushner. In this volume of all-new work (including a 15-page graphic story), the original writers are now joined by the generation that grew up dreaming of Bordertown, including acclaimed authors Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Cory Doctorow, Neil Gaiman, Catherynne M. Valente, and many more. They all meet here on the streets of Bordertown in more than twenty new interconnected songs, poems, and stories.


Zombies Sold Separately (Night Tracker, Bk 4)
Cheyenne McCray
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks,
Release Date: May 24

Nyx hates Zombies. Seriously. Hates. Zombies. Ever since she was a youngling, she’s been haunted by them. And even though she’s a big girl now—a half-human, half-Drow private eye, to be precise—Nyx bristles at the mere thought of the walking dead.
Meanwhile, the corpses of humans and paranorms alike are turning up all over New York City. Now it’s up to Nyx to find out who—or what—is behind this series of horrific attacks. But it’s only a matter of time before Nyx is drawn deeper into her darkest fears…and her worst nightmare about meeting a real, flesh-and-blood-hungry, body-snatching Zombie comes blindingly to life. Or death…


The Necklace of the Gods (Eon #2)
Alison Goodman
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Bantam Press
Release Date: May 26

Eon has been revealed as Eona, the first female Dragoneye in hundreds of years. Along with fellow rebels Ryko and Lady Dela, she is on the run from High Lord Sethon’s army. The renegades are on a quest for the black folio, stolen by the drug-riddled Dillon; they must also find Kygo, the young Pearl Emperor, who needs Eona’s power and the black folio if he is to wrest back his throne from the self-styled “Emperor” Sethon. Through it all, Eona must come to terms with her new Dragoneye identity and power—and learn to bear the anguish of the ten dragons whose Dragoneyes were murdered. As they focus their power through her, she becomes a dangerous conduit for their plans....

Eona, with its pulse-pounding drama and romance, its unforgettable fight scenes, and surprises, is the conclusion to an epic only Alison Goodman could create


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