Archive for February, 2011

Weekly Meme: Musing Mondays (Feb 28)

February 28, 2011 7 comments

The weekly Musing Mondays question of the week (via the Should Be Reading blog) is:

Which do you prefer: Adult -or- Young Adult books? Or, both? Why?

I don’t really like to box myself into any category, so I’d have to say that I read all kinds of books, whether they are geared to the YA reader or for adults.

I pretty much just pick up whatever strikes my fancy and mood – and right now, I wanted something light and funny – so I’m reading a humorous YA fantasy book by Sir Terry Pratchett from his Discworld Tiffany Aching series. A Hat Full of Sky (the second book in the series) is such an imaginative and funny read, about a plucky 11-year-old witch-in-training.

It’s definitely a nice break from all the crime/thriller/horror books I’ve found myself reading recently that are definitely for adults only. Cheers!

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AOL / Vevo Presents Adam Lambert! (Preview the Glam Nation Tour Live CD/DVD)

February 26, 2011 Leave a comment

For those planning to pre-order Adam Lambert’s Glam Nation Live (CD/DVD) from Amazon – the price has dropped to $15.72!

Here’s another preview of the Live DVD via AOL/Vevo – watch Sleepwalker over on AOL right now! (And for those scorned by AOL, don’t worry, @Terra_zephead has uploaded a ripped copy HERE for download!)

You can still catch a sneak peek at the Live DVD via Adam’s Vevo channel and watch Fever and Whataya Want From Me!

In other news, Adam’s fans are so GREAT that they have now super-overshot Adam’s Charity Water goal and the total donations so far is an amazing $295K!!! So very cool!

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Book Review – Faceless Killers: The First Kurt Wallander Mystery by Henning Mankell

February 25, 2011 1 comment

Book Description:

First in the Kurt Wallander series.

It was a senselessly violent crime: on a cold night in a remote Swedish farmhouse an elderly farmer is bludgeoned to death, and his wife is left to die with a noose around her neck. And as if this didn’t present enough problems for the Ystad police Inspector Kurt Wallander, the dying woman’s last word is foreign, leaving the police the one tangible clue they have–and in the process, the match that could inflame Sweden’s already smoldering anti-immigrant sentiments.

Unlike the situation with his ex-wife, his estranged daughter, or the beautiful but married young prosecuter who has peaked his interest, in this case, Wallander finds a problem he can handle. He quickly becomes obsessed with solving the crime before the already tense situation explodes, but soon comes to realize that it will require all his reserves of energy and dedication to solve.


I received a set of Kurt Wallander mystery novels by the celebrated Swedish author Henning Mankell as a gift last Christmas, and thought it was about time I cracked one of the books open. I started with the first book in the series Faceless Killers: The First Kurt Wallander Mystery which was translated by Steven T. Murray. The book is a pretty straightforward police procedural set in 1990 Sweden, and we follow Ystad police Inspector (and acting chief) Kurt Wallander as he doggedly investigates the troubling & baffling brutal murders of a seemingly blameless elderly farmer and his wife. The murders inflame already strong anti-immigrant factions, and Kurt Wallander finds himself racing against the clock to solve his case before even more revenge-fueled hate crimes occur.

I’m not really all too impressed by Faceless Killers, so I’m hoping the other books are better since I have a couple more of Kurt Wallander books to read on my pile. I think my major problem with this book was that I found the main character Kurt Wallander to be so unlikeable. It’s a good thing he’s a good investigator because he was a mess in every other aspect of his life. His personal life was totally depressing for me, and I felt like he was wallowing in self-pity (or was maybe actually medically depressed) about his divorce, his half-senile dad, his estranged daughter and I wanted to give him a good slap for drinking & driving (constantly) and for aggressively pursuing a married woman! I disliked the main character so much that I wished that Henning Mankell had developed the other characters in the book more, but they’re pretty much a blur of policemen and family members. I thought the most promising (and likeable) person in the book was Wallander’s fellow detective Rydberg and wished that his character was fleshed out some more.

As for the mystery itself, I had to take into account that it was 1990 and therefore, there are no CSI heroics. Instead, Wallander solves his case via good old fashioned legwork, cooperation with other policemen, rooting out of witnesses and trusting his gut instinct regarding certain suspects. The way the whole mystery was solved (plus Wallander’s admittedly strong dedication to his job/calling) was what saved the book for me, since I just mostly wanted to smack Wallander out of his ‘defeated’-state for majority of the book. Not an enjoyable way to read a mystery/crime novel really 😉

Faceless Killers: The First Kurt Wallander Mystery by Henning Mankell is available on Amazon as a Paperback edition ($8.40), Mass Market Paperback ($7.99) and Audible Audio Edition ($16.95). There is no Kindle edition, unfortunately.

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FREE iTunes Download – Georgia Woods by Keith Urban

February 25, 2011 Leave a comment

The track ‘Georgia Woods‘ by Keith Urban from his latest album Get Closer is available for FREE download over on iTunes!

Click here to download the FREE song!

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Weekly Meme: Something Old, Something New

February 24, 2011 24 comments

The weekly Booking Through Thursday question of the week (via the Booking Through Thursday blog) is:

All other things being equal–do you prefer used books? Or new books? (The physical speciman, that is, not the title.) Does your preference differentiate between a standard kind of used book, and a pristine, leather-bound copy?

[I’m going to have to answer this question in the past tense, since I’ve pretty much gone (almost) 100% digital ever since I had my Kindle and also discovered that I could read library eBooks on my iPod Touch. Right now, all the books I read are in a forever pristine condition, given that they’re digital eBooks. I hardly ever read physical books anymore.]

But getting back to the question of do I prefer new books or used books — honestly, I’ve never really had a preference for either. A book is just a book to me, I guess that’s why I made the transition to digital books so easily. I’m not a particularly nostalgic person – I’ve never been one to go on about how books look on a shelf or how they smell or what it feels like to turn pages – what has always been important to me has been the author’s words – the stories and characters. Can’t recall ever being particular about the condition of the actual book I’m reading (as long as it’s still readable and not too heavy).

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FREE Download of 23 iTunes Songs from Urban Outfitters (LSTN #13)

February 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Urban Outfitters is back with the FREE music. They are offering LSTN #13 with a FREE download of 23 tracks from iTunes, featuring the bands: Puro Instinct, Toro Y Moi, Destroyer
Dodos, Arcade Fire, Cut Copy, Mister Heavenly, Smith Westerns, Akron/Family, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Papercuts, Dream Diary, Tennis, White Fence, The Soft Moon, Chain & the Gang, Algodón Egipcio, Dom, WIN WIN, Austra, Mogwai, Seefeel and J Mascisetc.

So, if you are interested in the free download, just head on over to the Urban Outfitters LSTN#13 site (Direct iTunes DL Link).

Note that the offer expires on June 30, 2011 and is only available for those in the U.S.

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Weekly Meme: Book Blogger Hop: 2/18-2/21

February 19, 2011 14 comments

Book Blogger Hop

Here’s my second time to join the Book Blogger Hop (via Crazy For Books blog) Thought this would be a good opportunity for me to connect with other book lovers out there in cyberspace 🙂 The Hop lasts Friday-Monday so there’ll be plenty of time to check the other participating blogs out!

So here’s the question of the week:

“What book(s) would you like to see turned into a movie?”

My answer:

I’d love to see Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan turned into a movie (here’s my review of the book). It’s a YA steampunk fantasy set in an alternate WWI universe where the war is between Clankers (who use machine technology) versus Darwinists (who use advanced genetic techniques). I’d love to see how the world looks like in CGI – plus it features a budding romance between a young Prince Aleksandar and a young girl Deryn in the British Air Service who are both pretending to be people they are not 🙂

Actually, I’d love to see any of Scott Westerfeld’s YA books turned into movies, from his Midnighters series to the Uglies series (check out Scott Westerfeld’s bibliography for more). He’s one of the more talented YA authors out there.

And of course, I’m also looking forward to blog-hopping this weekend! 🙂

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Book Review – Ashes by Scott Nicholson

February 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Book Description:

A collection of 12 supernatural stories by bestselling author Scott Nicholson, including “Scarecrow Boy,” “Dog Person” and “Sewing Circle.”

From the author of THE RED CHURCH, SPEED DATING WITH THE DEAD, DISINTEGRATION, DRUMMER BOY, and the collections FLOWERS, CURTAINS, and THE FIRST, these stories visit haunted islands, disturbed families, and a lighthouse occupied by Edgar Allan Poe. From the mystery of the paranormal to the spiritual exploration of fear, Nicholson serves up chills, thrills, ghosts stories, and paranormal fantasy. Collected from the pages of Cemetery Dance Magazine, The Book of Dark Wisdom, Black Static, and more.

Exclusive introduction by Jonathan Maberry, author of THE DRAGON FACTORY and GHOST ROAD BLUES. The afterword explores the origins of the stories. Visit Scott Nicholson at Author Central or at


I downloaded Ashes (A Collection of Dark Fiction) by Scott Nicholson for free at Kobo Books and read it on the Kobo iPhone app. I don’t know why the Kindle edition says there are 12 short stories, but the Kobo copy I downloaded has 16 stories in all. (Just an aside, page turns on the Kobo app are slow, just like I noticed with iBooks. Don’t know what Amazon did differently with the Kindle app since the page turns are noticeably faster)

Here’s what I have in the TOC of the Kobo copy:

1. Timing Chains of the Heart, 2. Dog Person, 3. The October Girls, 4. Murdermouth, 5. Sung Li, 6. In the Family, 7. Work in Progress, 8. She Climbs a Winding Stair, 9. Watermelon, 10. The Meek, 11. The Weight of Silence, 12. The Hounds of Love, 13. Penance, 14. Scarecrow, 15. Last Writes, 16. Sewing Circle

According to the author’s afterword, the stories in the collection were written from 2000-2006 when he was struggling with personal traumas like “alcoholism, depression, fatherhood, divorce…” Well, I guess that accounts for the dark (not necessarily scary) atmosphere that’s the common link among the short stories. And the span of time covered may also account for the uneven quality of writing. I thought that there were some stories in the collection that should have remained in the author’s archives for further development, but there’s some pretty outstanding stories in the mix too that I’ll mention here.

The best for me was the weird and creepy ‘Murdermouth‘ written from the point of view of a very hungry imprisoned Zombie who is on display as one of the acts in a traveling carnival/circus. It’s gruesome and horrifying, and there’s an underlying dark humor mixed with heartbreak to the thankless situation the Zombie is in that really struck home to me. If you only read one short story from this collection, let it be this one.

A close second for me would be the chilling ‘The Night is An Ally‘ where we follow German 1st Lt Heinz Wolfram and his Third Company soldiers as they carry out their orders to “relocate” Jews in the course of one terrible and unforgiveable night. In his afterword, Mr Nicholson said that he wanted to delve into what would turn ordinary and decent men into cold-blooded killers, and I thought he did a great job illustrating that via Heinz Wolfram, a man who ordinarily has no appetite for killing, but who rationalizes his crimes by filtering responsibility through the chain of command and dehumanizing the process in the interest of “efficiency”.

Third best for me was ‘Penance‘ – a post-apocalyptic future narrated by a young girl, Ruth, who is nailed inside her plaque-infested house with her dying family members. What makes the whole thing extra sinister is the religious fervor that colors all the characters’ reactions. This is one story that I do hope the author one day dusts off and turns into a full length novel. I’d love the full treatment for this, from the time the outbreak occured and the aftermath.

The Meek‘ is set at a post-apocalyptic Australia overrun with killer zombie sheep – I kid you not. This sounds like the plot of a really terrible movie, but I thought that Mr Nicholson made it work 😉 We follow Lucas, on the run from a killer ram, as he is “rescued” by a mysterious man who may have a worse fate planned for him. I don’t know, the whole thing seemed stupid to me, but at the same time, I thought the story was original and I liked that there were some unexpected twists in it.

I wondered why ‘The Weight of Silence‘ was included in the collection at first, since it was about a young mother consumed by grief, barely coping with the aftermath of SIDS. Well, at least until we learn that something more sinister may be afoot. The twist wasn’t as well executed as I wanted, but I thought that the writing overall was pretty good for this story.

Maybe you’ll like the rest of the stories in the collection, but I found them to be either weak, or just didn’t resonate or interest me. Overall, I do think the writing is pretty good, smooth flowing, pretty rich imagery, and some really original ideas. I’m now looking forward to checking out more of Scott Nicholson’s writing 🙂

Ashes (A Collection of Dark Fiction) by Scott Nicholson is available on Amazon as a Kindle edition ($0.99) and also for $0.99 on B&N Nook.

Or you can also get this ebook collection for FREE at Sony eBookstore and Kobo Books.

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