Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Enter the Flappers

Somewhere in the back of my head, while reading Vixen, I learned that I'm glad I wasn't born a girl. And it's not for the patriarchal reasons that most men might come up with, but because when it comes to cruelty, you girls take the cake. Boys will physically bully the weaker one, but girls destroy you socially, emotionally, mentally - which is far worse than the bruise on your forearm.

Jillian Larkin created a world - set in the 1920s, the flapper generation (not to mention the age of the Lost Generation where expatriates roamed around other countries, each writing great novels) - that sucks you right in and leads you down the path of three lives of three rather stunning girls.

There's Gloria, a top-notch socialite whose engagement to Sebastian "Bastian" Grey only means a life of boredom for her. In a last attempt of adventure, Gloria sets off with friend Marcus Eastman to the most notorious speakeasy in Chicago - the Green Mill. There, Gloria is lured into the world of the flapper. She's seduced by their allure and their brash lifestyle. The singer on the stage sparks her most wildest dream of singing in front of a live crowd - a dream that would never be realized as long as she is engaged to marry Bastian. Most of all, she feels a sudden magnetic attraction to the piano player and jazz musician, Jerome Johnson.

Then there's Clara, Gloria's cousin from Pennsylvania, who arrives to Chicago under the assumption to help Gloria with her wedding. Truth is, Clara's running away from the life she led in New York. She plots to use Chicago as a fresh start. There she is drawn into her cousin's secrets and her inner circle. Most of all, she is drawn to Marcus Eastman. However, strange notes start arriving - first mysteriously left in her room - and a ghost from her past resurfaces. Clara is faced with her secret life unraveling while keeping up her act.

And finally, there's Lorraine, Gloria's closet friend. As she realizes those in her world are slowly drifting in several directions, she begins to scheme how to get them back. However, the more she schemes against her best friend and Clara, the deeper she digs her grave.

Jillian Larkin breathes a unique life into each of her characters, never afraid to turn the tables at a whim. Vixen is probably the best young adult novel I've read this year (that's not saying a lot considering it's the first I've read this year). Best of all, it lacks what is taken too seriously these days - you won't find cell phones, wizards or vampires in this novel. Instead, you get the sheer glamor  of a lifestyle your grandparents probably enjoyed or were against. You are dropped into a world where communication between friends isn't as easy as signing onto an instant messenger or picking up your cellphone to text. No, Larkin picked the 1920s because things were difficult back than, while at the same time being much simpler. She created a love story we wouldn't think twice about these days but would have caused an uproar in scandal back then. She created a world in which girls still scheme against each other, but they did it in fashion - no joke, I really do like the 1920s which acts as the sole reason for my interest in the novel. I surely can't wait until Ingenue hits bookshelves in August of this year.

Well, I'm off to start Doc by Mary Doria Russell, so until next time...keep on huntin'.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Random March Update

Having an advance copy makes me feel so gosh darn important
My reading "dry spell" has put a damper on so much lately. It's leaving me wondering whether or not this blog will last another year - which is probably why I opted to add in music and film reviews along side. However, the a few weeks ago, I was at Barnes and Noble with Jyg when I spied a novel entitled Vixen. Because I'm a fan of the flapper generation - I long to live in the 1920s - I made a note of it and made sure to check it out later. 

As it turns out, Jillian Larkin's novel revolves around three female characters is written for a young adult audience - a far cry from sparkling vampires and wizards. First there's Gloria who takes the chance of one last attempt of complete and utter freedom by going to the Green Mill, a speakeasy owned by Al Capone. With her wedding to her ultra conservative fiancé, Bastian, in the horizon, she begins to second guess her emotions when she meets piano player, Jerome Johnson. Along side her is Lorraine, best friend. Lorraine's world is slowly crumbling as she realizes that once Gloria is married, she will be alone in the world. Hoping to catch the eye of young Marcus Eastman, she works hard at out-doing and outshining her friend. Clara, on the other hand, is a true flapper where as her cousin, Gloria, and Lorraine are just privilege, white girls playing around. However, Clara is running away from her old flapper life in New York and hopes to renew herself. Unbeknown to her cousin, Clara isn't the good, farm girl she presents herself to be. Things start rolling as both Gloria and Lorraine, along with Marcus, cook up a plan to get rid of Clara. 

Here, watch the trailer: 

Because nothing says I love you like Zombies
In other news, I've received my "advance uncorrected proofs" copy of Doc: A Novel by Mary Doria Russell this evening, which is set to be released on 3 May 2011 by Random House. Because of the release date, I won't be able to post a review until after it's released - the cover tells me so. That gives me plenty of time, but I plan to read it after I'm done with Vixen.

A far cry from the 1920s, Doc takes place in the wild west, following the story of Doc Holliday and his unlikely friendship with Wyatt Earp. This, of course, takes place before they did anything legendary. 

Along side Doc, I hope to start reading my birthday present - my birthday was this past Sunday - that Jyg gave me: Hungry for Your Love: An Anthology of Zombie Romance.

I'll do my best to post something about the movies I've been watching and my thoughts on the finale (and series 5 overview) of Skins - for some odd reason I feel like I should comment on a British teen drama. Until next time, keep on huntin'.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Gospel of Judas

Let's get this straight. I finished the text, not the entire book. I'm sure the essays that followed The Gospel of Judas are interesting and provide historical insight to the lost text, it doesn't further my pursuit of reading as many religious texts as I promised - a stupid idea last year, but I bought all these books so I better damn read them. 

It's hard to "review" a religious text - especially one that is considered a "lost book" of the Bible. Especially hard when said "lost book" also has several lines of text missing. We also know the ending - "Judas answered them as they wished. And he received some money and handed him over to them." 

So what this book offers is an unique insight to the times before Judas' betrayal. It even offers a hint that Jesus already knew and warned Judas of said betrayal: "But you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me./Already your horn has been raised,/your wrath has been kindled,/your star has shown brightly/and your heart has [...]."

It's a new look at Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, as well as, Jesus the messiah. It's also no wonder why this text will never make it into any canon. Interesting read and you should definitely pick it up.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Riding boots for someone who's never rode a horse

Guest post written by Jessica Rickman

I don't really like to do many daring things. Like I hate going to amusement parks because people are always disappointed when I tell them that I won't ride the roller coasters with them. So I've definitely never and won't ever get on a horse. I just don't trust them. I guess it's good that I live in a time when I don't have to depend on them to get anywhere!

But just because I've sworn to never get on a horse doesn't mean that I can't mimic the style of people that do ride horses. I really want some riding style boots. I spent almost like two or three hours a few days ago looking online with my High Speed Rural Internet! to find a pair like I wanted. I finally did find some that were perfect.

Actually, they were my first pair of boots that weren't rain or snow boots! But they're so cute when I put them on and tuck my jeans into them and theyÕre so easy to wear like that too.

Dying is Fun

Back in November of 2009, it was started that Playboy would be publishing the first look at Vladimir Nabokov's last novel, The Original of Laura (Dying is Fun) - a novel in fragments. Of course I went off and purchased that issue of Playboy - which I still have tucked away on bookshelf. It took me a while, but I eventually purchased a copy of The Original of Laura sometime last year. 

After a few setbacks - this strange dry spell that has come over me - last night, I decided to give the book a try, ignoring the other books I'm currently (supposedly) reading. The last book that took me little time to read was a little novel written by a seventeen-year-old that read like it was written by a seventeen-year-old by the name of Twelve. Of course, Vladimir Nabokov's  writing is several times greater than Nick McDonell's will ever be. 

The novel - written on index cards which were scanned and used in the book (as evidence, I suppose), which are also detachable (which is annoying) - doesn't follow anything linear. That's to be expected, of course, as it appears the book is consisting of notes by the author. However, its deviation - per se - of conventionality doesn't keep it from consuming its reader. At once I was sucked into his prose, very much in the same way that Lolita drew me in when I first read it. 

But because of its - should I say unique? - style, it's hard to come up with an accurate description of the story, let alone a review that would do it justice. The prose - much like that of Lolita - being the only other novel I've read by Nabokov, not including a few short stories here and there during my college years - is quite poetic and well structured. The wording hypnotic at times. It's hard to ignore the aspects - the potential - of how great the novel would have been if Nabokov was able to complete it before his death. The novel mixes in the erotic and a sort of dark comedy of morality - hence the subtitle Dying is Fun

While it was never meant to see the light of literary world, I'm glad that Dmitri Nabokov went against his father's wishes and published the novel rather than burn it. And now I but sit an wait until the letters of James Joyce are finally allowed to see the light of day. It's just another year, right?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Reason for my Absence

I haven't been reading anything lately - a sort of a dry spell. Like I said before I vanished, Monica and I were to book hunt and we did just that. From that book hunt, I picked up a copy of Every Zombie Eats Somebody Sometime (new), Pronto by Elmore Leonard (used), Somebody to Love? by Grace Slick with Andrea Cagan, FLCL vol. 1, and some book by James Patterson (all used). 

So my dry spell isn't due to not having books. I also started reading Dexter in the Dark, but quickly put it down. Picked up The Ultimated Lovecraft Collection, put it down and then started reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but put it down as well. Then the worst thing that could happen did and I had to call Amazon to report that my Kindle just up and broke on me. It was replaced - which arrived two days later - and all was right with the world.

So I started writing, which consumed most of my time. I playfully called the piece "Zombies in the Outfield," but "The United Undead Baseball League" might be the project's title after I complete the editing process. I also started writing something new, but it's not going so well so I might try to get some reading done so the blog doesn't die - it entered in its third year and the following isn't great, but at least I have readers stumbling in.

During the writing process, I also picked up Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, Glue, City of the Dead - which I put down when I realized it was a sequel to The Rising, which I hadn't read yet - and The Rising. All of which, I put down. I finally picked up Hollowland - the first book of The Hollows series - by Amanda Hocking. This one might actually survive and pull me out of the dry spell. Here's to hope. Until next time, keep on huntin'.

Tunes You Need to Listen To

I might be going a tad too far when saying Jason Walsh's album, Pericardium, reminds me of the year I learned to appreciated Bob Dylan and music in general. And while the music infuses fond memories of both Bob Dylan and son Jakob Dylan, Jason Walsh's lyrics are so emotionally filled with a sort of sorrow I haven't heard in a while that I feel it as a betrayal to compare them to anything. 

"I used to dream about you/now I can barely speak your name/used to think that I would die without you/now it happens everyday," he sings in "The Small Death," the opening track to the seven-song digital album available for purchase on his BandCamp webpage. And in "Blood in My Eyes," Walsh relents, "I can't get to Heaven, no matter how hard I try/Cos I can't see the light with that blood in my eye," which recalls to the listener of the folk singers of old that have been erased by the popularity of commercial music brought on by the Lady Gagas and Justin Biebers of the world. No, this Canadian folk singer/songwriter reminds us that there should be purpose to the music we listen other than just white noise. I haven't been this excited about an independent folk artist since I heard David Jackson Project playing overhead during one visit to Hastings several years ago.

The album contains four original recordings - "The Small Death," "Blood in My Eyes," Birmingham," and "Ships" - plus three live performances of the first three tracks. For more information on Jason Walsh and his music, you may follow him on Tumblr as Blinddog or visit his Facebook Fan Page. You can purchase Pericardium at BandCamp for the low price of $2.99 CAD ($3.09 USD) or more, if you'd like.