Sunday, September 30, 2012

Vampire Blog Hop: The Child Vampire

One of the aspects of the whole vampire mythos I find most fascinating is the fact that vampires don’t age after being turned.  Because of that, when I hear the word “vampire,” I don’t think of Twilight…or Vampire Academy…or Vampire Diaries…I think of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, even though it’s been almost ten years since I’ve read it.

And when I think of Interview with the Vampire, I don’t think of Lestat (Tom Cruise, for those of you who’ve only seen the movie) or Louis (Brad Pitt)…I think of Anne Rice’s incredible creation, the vampire-child Claudia, a fictional character I will never forget.  In the movie version, Claudia was played by 12-year-old Kirsten Dunst:

..but in the book, Claudia is only SIX.  She’s described as an angelic, doll-like beauty, but over time she comes to enjoy killing people and develops a very disturbing sexuality.  Here’s one quote:

Yet more and more her doll-like face seemed to possess two totally aware adult eyes, and innocence seemed lost somewhere with neglected toys and the loss of a certain patience. There was something dreadfully sensual about her lounging on the settee in a tiny nightgown of lace and stitched pearls… (p. 100-101)

I’ve always been fascinated by Peter Pan and the idea of the child who never grows up, and there is a lot of darkness and depth to that story in all its many reincarnations.  The concept of the child-vampire takes this darkness to an even more extreme and disturbing level.  There’s something so incredibly sad and delicate, terrible and poignant about the child-vampire. 

Anyway, if you’ve never read Interview with the Vampire, I encourage you to check it out!  

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mini Book Review: The Grimm Diaries' Prequel -- Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary by Cameron Jace

From the introduction to The Grimm Diaries’ Prequels:

It’s better to think of the prequels like snapshots of a magical land you’re about to visit soon. I like to think of them as poisoned apples. Once you taste them, you will never see fairy tales in the same light again.

I love anything to do with fairy tales, especially creative reinterpretations, and that’s exactly what Cameron Jace delivers in his Grimm Diaries’ Prequels.  His latest installment, Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, is no different, combining the fairy tale The Snow Queen, the nursery rhyme referenced in the title, and a very disturbing real-life historical figure.

It’s hard to say too much about this one without spoiling it, but I can say that it’s probably the darkest of the prequels so far.  In fact, the origin of the Mary, Mary Quite Contrary rhyme as explained in this story is so disturbing, I was sure the author had made it up—it couldn’t be real.  But no…I did a quick google search, and sure enough, the author had done his research again!  Of course his explanation of the nursery rhyme is only one of several theories as to the rhyme’s origins, but still…wow.  I know I’m being very vague, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone!

I also loved the way the author used mirrors, a common fairy-tale motif, throughout this story.  We have the Snow Queen mirror, the Snow White mirror, and the mirror from the “Bloody Mary” folktale—which by the way, may be the creepiest part of this story.

By the end of the story, some characters from the very first Grimm Diaries’ Prequel make a reappearance, perhaps setting up some connections that will pay off later in the series.  I can’t wait to see!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Book Review: Between You & Me by Marisa Calin

Phyre knows there is something life-changing about her new drama teacher, Mia, from the moment they meet. As Phyre rehearses for the school play, she comes to realize that the unrequited feelings she has for Mia go deeper than she’s ever experienced. Especially with a teacher. Or a woman. All the while, Phyre’s best friend—addressed throughout the story in the second person, as "you"—stands by, ready to help Phyre make sense of her feelings. But just as Mia doesn’t understand what Phyre feels, Phyre can’t fathom the depth of her best friend’s feelings . . . until it’s almost too late for a happy ending. Characters come to life through the innovative screenplay format of this dazzling debut, and unanswered questions—is "you" male or female?—will have readers talking.

Between You & Me is a fascinating, innovative novel written in screenplay format.  However, unlike a traditional screenplay written in third person, this novel is written in first person and the narrator, Phyre, addresses her friend only as “you” throughout the book.  As a result, the book is almost like a letter from Phyre to her friend.  I found the screenplay format really quick, easy, and interesting to read, and it worked perfectly in a book about a young aspiring actress taking her first acting class and performing in her first play.  However, I have taken script writing classes and even written a few screenplays, so I can imagine that readers unfamiliar with the form might find it a bit difficult at first.  For me, though, the form worked almost like verse, distilling the story to its most important and emotional moments.

A lot of this story centered on Phyre’s crush on her young, glamorous, female teacher, Mia.  Phyre has dated boys in the past and is confused by her feelings; at one point she says she’s not sure if she wants to be with Mia, or just be her.  This rang very true to me, as I remember having intense relationships with my female friends as a teenager that completely confused me—part of me wanted to be these girls, and part of me wanted to be close to them in a way that somehow seemed more intimate than friendship.  I think this is a pretty common experience among adolescent girls, and it isn’t explored enough in YA lit, so I was really glad to see it handled so well in this book.

This novel also explores gender through the fact that Phyre’s friend, addressed only as “you,” could be either male or female.  So many small exchanges between Phyre and “you” in the book could be interpreted differently based on whether “you” is male or female.  It makes the reader realize just how much gender influences our perception of people’s actions and relationships.

Finally, I have to mention that Calin’s writing is vivid, poetic, and beautiful.  My only small quibble is that I wish Phyre’s parents had been given a slightly larger role in the story.  Overall, I highly recommend Between You & Me.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Apologies, Copy Edits, and Excerpts

So as is probably apparent to anyone who reads this blog, I have been insanely busy these past few weeks...and my blogging has gone from sparse to nonexistent as a result.  I'm so sorry!  I have a new part-time job, but I am going to try to continue participating in Weigh-In Wednesday and writing book reviews as often as I can.  Another reason I've been busy is that I just finished copy edits for Light Sister, Dark that's one good thing!  So to celebrate the completion of copy edits, I've decided to post another excerpt from the book...and this one is the copy editor's favorite part!  So here it is:


All Hallows’ Eve

The night when the dead
return and walk the earth,
demanding remembrances
from the living.

All Hallows’ Eve

The night when the living
cloak themselves in darkness,
to escape the notice
of the hungry dead.

But what do you do
when you’re not sure which side
you belong to?

What do you do
when you spend every day
in the twilight
straddling the line
between two worlds?

What do you do
when you’re no longer sure
what’s disguise
and what’s true?
What hides you from the world
and what reveals you?   

Do you retreat further into shadows
and embrace the night?

Or do you step the other way
and reach for the light?



The night of disguises
when everyone transforms
into what they most want
or most fear.


The night when normal rules
are tossed away
like the insides
of a grinning jack-o’-lantern.

But what do you do
when you’ve started to feel
like you’re wearing a costume
every day?

What do you do
when you suspect the safety of rules
may no longer protect you
so what’s the point

Do you keep your hopes up, smile on,
and clutch the last rays of light?

Or do you look for new answers
in the murky realm of night?