Books, Buds, and Blueberry-Lemon Crunch Cake

It’s been an interesting and fun day here.  The weather is gorgeous!  Warm, sunny, and a good breeze to blow all the winter stench away.  The girls and I all headed to the library to take back a few things and Sam wanted to get some more movies and Twilight.  As it turns out, by the way, all I had to do was tell her what was in Marked (oral sex), and she decided it wasn’t a book for her.  She’s a good kid 🙂

On our way, we met up with a friend who reminded me that the library sale was today, a fact I had NOT forgotten, but alas, did not have any money for it.  I made the comment that I didn’t have any money so I’d have to catch the next one, and she pressed a five dollar bill in my hand and told me to get everyone some books. 😀 Friends are great 😉

So, at our library sale books cost fifty cents a piece, or $5 per bag.  I perused the books, looking at all the books offered. Most of the children’s books were a bit baby-ish, but Maggie picked up a book on Texas (that’s where my mom lives).  Sam snatched up a Where’s Waldo? book, and Gwen got a beautifully illustrated fairy tale book.

One of the main criteria for the books I chose were size.  The smaller the book, the more I could cram in the bag 😉 so no coffee table books today (there wasn’t many available anyway, oddly enough).  But a very interesting thing has happened since joining LibraryThing, the blogging realm and reading emails from publishers, Shelf Awarenes, and everything else.  I’m beginning to recocgnize titles I’ve heard and wanted.  For instance, one book that jumped out at me is called People of the Valley, though I’m not even sure why it popped out at me.

Then, just a little bit ago, the mailman dropped off a few of my mooches, and one of them caught my eye. Last week, Abe Publishing sent an email about the 10 overlooked Pulitzer Prize winning books, and I immediately mooched them or put the titles on my wishlists. One of them, Lamb in His Bosom, was among my haul today.  What caught my attention about the book is that, looking at the cover or reading the title, I would have passed over this book without a thought.

Lamb in His Bosom by Caroline Miller

My first thought on it is, “It’s just some religious book.”  Which reminds me of the proverb “Never judge a book by its cover.”  And I wonder how many exceptional books have I missed, how many life-changing narratives have I blown off, and it makes me a little sad.

Add to that, all those books in the library itself were all dreams and babies of writers, and I will never be able to read even 1% of all of them.  So many colorful spines that call out to me from those lightly dusted faux-wood shelves, and I am forced to turn my back on them and walk out… ignoring all those voices of all those people who had something to say and managed to do what most don’t:  Bind their words in an available and solid, tangible way.

So have you ever had a book call to you?  Have you read a book that you loved, but would have never picked up on your own?  What sources do you turn to for the next title to read?  How do you stretch your reading taste?

Off to eat my Blueberry-Lemon Crunch Bundt cake 😀

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Marked: A House of Night Novel by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Title:  Marked:  A House of Night Novel

Authors:  P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Paperback:  306 pages

PublisherSt. Martin’s Press

Date Published:  2007

ISBN:  9780312360269

Miscellaneous:  This is the first book in the House of Night series.

I am known by many names… Changing Woman, Gaea, A’akuluujjusi, Kuan Yin, Grandmother Spider, and even Dawn…

As she spoke each name her face was transformed so that I was dizzied by her power.  She must have understood, because she paused and flashed her beautiful smile at me again, and her face settled back into the woman I had first seen.

But you, Zoeybird, my Daughter, may call me by the name by which your world knows me today, Nyx.

“Nyx,” my voice was barely above a whisper.  “The vampyre Goddess?”

… yes, in your world [my]children are called vampyre.  Accept the name, U-we-tsi a-ge-hu-tsa; in it you will find your destiny.

I could feel my Mark burning on my forehead, and all of a sudden I wanted to cry.  “I – I don’t understand.  Find my destiny?  I just want to find a way to deal with my new life – to make this all okay.  Goddess, I just want to fit in someplace.  I don’t think I’m up to finding my destiny.”

Believe in yourself, Zoey Redbird.  I have Marked you as my own.  You will be my first tru  U-we-tsi   a-ge-hu-tsa   v-hna-i   Sv-no-yi … Daughter of Night… in this age…. Within you is combined the magic blood of ancient Wise Women and Elders, as well as insight into and understanding of the modern world.

… “But I’m sixteen!  I can’t even parallel-park!  How am I supposed to know how to be your eyes and ears?”

Marked:  A House of Night Novel by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast, pages 39-40

Marked by P. C. Cast and Kristen Cast was a definite divergence from my typical reading, but I enjoyed it very much.  It’s a Young Adult (though, was edging very close to mostly adult, IMHO) book about a 16 year-old named Zoey who is marked by a Vampyre Tracker and has to leave her world and her old life behind and attend the private vampyre school, House of Night (for which the book series is named).  All young Zoey wants is a place to fit in and belong, but it’s clear from her abnormal Mark that “fitting in” isn’t going to happen.

The book is typical of YA hero books.  Zoey is the good-vamp and immediately knows that Aphrodite is her nemesis.  Zoeylacks the confidence, but overcomes that with the help of her friends who believe in her and encourage her.  She has those few trusted adults to turn to who also encourage her (and of course, none of them are her parents).  She’s surprised by the deep well of abilities and talents, and she sees and feels things others don’t.  And when the time comes to stand up and save the day, she does… over the whimpering and cowering body of Aphrodite, who, afterwards, draws the proverbial line in the sand and tells Zoey “it’s not over.”

But don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the book is like everything else out there, simply that it follows a form.  The writing, owing probably to the way the two authors divvy up the responsibilities, is unique (a trait that is heavily stressed and embraced at the school, btw) and seems almost conversational.  It is narrated by Zoey, who says little asides to herself while telling the story, and we see the world of the fledgling vampyre through her unique perspective.

Whereas Twilight was a fun, reminiscense of high-school romance and first loves, squeeky clean and was more about temptation and timing, Marked is a bit more sullied.  Within the first few free minutes Zoey has in the school, she accidentally walks up on a guy standing in front of a kneeling girl, face in his crotch area and her hair blocking Zoey’s view.  It is an event that sets the tone of the book, as well as the relationship she has with the two later on (after she discovers their identities).  Yeah… I’d have to say, even after they were married, Bella never gave Edward a blow job (and the Casts use that term, too).  I’m trying to think of how I can sneak Marked back to the library before my 16-year-old can read it.

On a technical level, the characters are well-developed and most of them are likable.  The ones you aren’t meant to like, Aphrodite’s sycophants, her step-loser (step-dad), even Kayla, her ex-best friend, aren’t developed beyond the point of, “name, relationship and purpose… next!”  I would also add, that the Casts have dug deep, imagination-wise, to create a half-a-step-away alternate-reality where vampyrism has always existed, and contain everything in our world (stars, books, mythology) but claiming it as it’s own, Faith Hill is a vampyre for instance.  Also, they borrow a bit from Wicca and the Native American, as well as other bits and pieces from other religions, to create the Vampyre religion, worship of the Goddess Nyx.  It’s rather interesting in that regard, as well.

Fun and a bit naughty, Marked by P. C. Cast and Kristen Cast is my beginning into the world of vampyres, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book, Betrayed.  I give Marked 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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I highly recommend visiting The House of Night website, it’s a lot of fun.  You can read the first chapter of Marked there, as well as check out videos of the other HoN books, and even make a pic of yourself with a vampyre Mark.

The video I picked for this book is a lot of fun.  It is a bit long, but you can get a feel for how playful P. C. and Kristen are, both as mother and daughter and as co-authors. It’s a spoof interview, and the Casts contributed to the script.  It’s not so much about Marked, all I found for it were teenage fan-vids, several containing Britney Snow as their hoped-for Stevie Rae… Britney Snow gets on my last nerve D-:< .  But the series has been optioned, so a movie may be coming to a theater near you… or a series on the WB.