Dec 21, 2010

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

The Poison Eaters and Other Stories by Holly Black
Publication Date: March 22, 2011
ISBN: 9781442412323
Grades: 9 and up


Thanks to the great Simon & Schuster Galley Grab Program I was able to get an eGalley of this collection of short stories by Holly Black. (Along with some other great books.) One of the hard things I have with short stories is that I don’t want to sit down and read them one after another.  While this it is a challenge, it is also a joy.  But it does make it hard to review a book that collects together so many various types of stories.  So far I have only read the first story, “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.” I enjoyed it so much I almost don’t want to read any more stories for fear that this one will escape me.


Besides The Sipderwick Chronicles, I have never read one of Holly’s books.  Even though there was no expectations “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” took me by surprise.  The story is available to read in full online at BSC; I highly suggest you check it out. This story caught my attention for many different reasons.  One of the reasons was that this story appears to be about one thing and sudden morphs into something else.  Go, read it! I don’t want to spoil anything.


***Review from this point on may contain spoilers***

I have talked about it before but that isn’t going to stop me from talking about it again.  I never know what I should or shouldn’t say about something that I have read.  As a reader I don’t like to know anything about a book before I read it. Sometimes I feel like even knowing the genre tells you too much! On the other hand I want to be able to talk about this “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” in an in-depth way, thus the need for spoilers.


“Matilda was drunk, but she was always drunk anymore.” This is the first line of the short story and honestly I was a little unimpressed.  I was kind of thinking we were going to get this whole little after school special feel going on.  But that isn’t what is going on.  What Holly Black is doing is writing one of the most interesting vampire stories I have read since Scott Westerfeld’s Peeps.  In middle school The Vampire Diaries was my favorite series of all time. It was the Twilight of my generation without the mass hysteria.  But like many things that dissipate with youth, so did my passion for the vampire story.  What I realized then, as many soon will realize for themselves, was that I wasn’t enamored of the vampire story, but the romance of it all.  I think what I loved the most about Peeps was it’s lack of romance, how it felt new and fresh and did vampire in a new way.


“The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” does new vampire in an even newer way.  It takes some of the sensuality that draws us to the idea of vampires and makes a mockery of it.  The idea of Coldtown, a walled city where they keep the vampires, has a dystopian vibe to me. And it won’t surprise you that this is one of the elements I enjoyed about it. 

“She filmed the Eternal Ball, a party that started in 1998 and had gone on ceaselessly ever since. In the background, girls and boys in rubber harnesses swung through the air. They stopped occasionally, opening what looked like a modded hospital tube stuck on the inside of their arms just below the crook of the elbow. They twisted a knob and spilled blood into little paper cups for the partygoers.”

The Eternal Ball inside Coldtown is appealing and appalling at the same time. It reminds me of visions of hell, where you can live endlessly in sin and how it could get old very quickly. Yet from the outside looking in, part of you feels like you are missing out.  Part of you feels like you wish you were there.


I also thought Holly took a unique view on the process of turning into a vampire.  I always love fresh takes on old concepts.  Matilda is an interesting, unique, and strong female character.  I never quite new what was coming next with her. It all combined together to make this story feel so genius. 


Now that I have gotten a chance to blog about this first story before my thoughts about it disappeared, I am feeling very eager to read more stories in the collection. I think the variety of stories will be a nice change for me and expose me to new types of stories.  If you read “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” please share your thoughts with me!

Dec 20, 2010

Book Wish List

One of the best things about Christmas is telling everyone about all the books that you want and having it be semi reasonable that a few actually make it your way.  I am trying to do a really light Christmas this year.  My girls will be spending the holiday with their father and I don’t think it is good for them to be swimming stuff after we double up on the holiday.  So I have decided to make the best of the pre holiday time and get them just a few gifts.  I have also told Mr. X that I am not planning on exchanging gifts with him.  We will be getting some gifts for other people in our lives, but I already have too much STUFF in my life, and I really want to cut back.


Mr. X has already informed me that he no intention of following my suggestion.  This combines me with a mix of guilt and excitement.  Though I should consider it, I have decided not to waver on not getting him any presents this year.  Christmas gifts for me have been very sparse over the past few years, excluding last year.  My girls were really upset the year before last that I didn’t get more presents, so I made sure there was more than enough for me under the tree.  This year I hope they won’t mind if there is less for everyone.


But despite all that, I can’t help making my book wish list anyway.


The Unidentified by Rae Mariz
Really great cover on this one. The snippets of summary I have read on this books makes it sounds like it is right up my alley.


Restoring Harmony by Joelle Anthony
Again it is all about the cover, though I am starting to think this makes me a little shallow.  Also I saw this listened on a dystopian novel list, though Joelle herself isn’t entirely sure she agrees.  Even the suggestion of dystopia is enough for me.  I think we use the term as an umbrella term because it helps us find the types of books we like to read.

Storm Thief by Chris Wooding
Recently read a review of this though I don’t remember hearing of it previously, it sounds like my kind of book.

The Returners
by Gemma Malley
I adored The Declaration and I think that both Mr. X and I would love this book. I almost bought it when I was on my road trip and I really, really wish I had.

Dec 19, 2010

YA Dystopian Challenge Wrap Up

I finished in the nick of time.  I hoped to read twice  as many books as a listed here within the timeframe of the challenge.  As much as I love dystopian fiction I worry a little that I am getting burnt out on it. I definitely need to read something that isn’t related to science fiction in any way.  I am just not sure what or when!

For this young adult dystopian challenge I read:
The Hole in the Wall

I finished Delirium at about 3am this Sunday.  It may have been cutting it close but it felt good to get it done.

The Sunday Salon–Reflections

I have probably said it enough here on the blog and on twitter, but this was not a good reading year for me.  Life just got in the way and reading has slipped out of the priority position.  I am working to remedy that.  When you find yourself reading less do you push yourself to read more, or just go with the flow? Reading is a habit, like many of the things we do daily.  I worry that if I stop reading I will fill up that time with a different habit.  On the other hand, I want to read for fun, sometimes if I force myself to read that feeling is minimized.  I think it is yet another catch-22 and I don’t really have a solution. When I want to watch TV or relax in another way I try not to feel guilty for not reading.  But I also want to make reading a habit again. I think one of the best things I can do right now is really search out those books that are a perfect fit for what I want to be reading right now.  This year that has definitely been a struggle, but I am determined to work on it more.


I am still trying to get more reading done before the end of the year so that I have some momentum going into the new year. A lot of people are reflecting on some of the books they enjoyed the most this year and I am going to take this opportunity to do the same.


When Going Bovine won the Printz award early in the year I drove straight to the library and checked it out.  Even though I read it almost 12 months ago, its humor and quirkiness have stuck with me throughout the entire year.  It was definitely a standout book.  The majority of the other books I read I cannot say the same for.


One of the major highlights of my reading year was the young adult dystopian novel by local author Ally Condie. I could gush in a rambling, kind of senseless way about how much I loved this book.  I don’t think it would help you very much because Matched is one of those books  that is so good it takes all your words away.  I really hope you get a chance to read it soon.


This year I have had the overwhelmingly exciting opportunity to read more ARCs than I ever have before. I am now a huge fan of eGalleys and their ability to aid me in accessing some of the upcoming dystopian works and other speculative fiction selections.  One book in particular I was beyond excited to read was Wither. Like Matched I have a bit of a biased connection with the author.  While Ally Condie lives in the same state as me now, Lauren DeStefano lives in the same state that I grew up in. So both authors are my current hometown heroes when it comes to dystopian literature.  Wither was a highly unique and dark portrait of the future that I highly enjoyed.


There were two other surprise books for me this year that I really enjoyed.  Elantris by Brandon  Sanderson was a great read for me by another local author.  I worried when I started reading his book that Sanderson would be too much fantasy for me, but Elantris was the perfect book for me to start with.  I loved the politics that were weaved throughout the book.  The other surprise book was Homeland by R. A. Salvatore.  I asked Mr. X his favorite fantasy book and Homeland was his choice.  Soon I will need to read the next book in the series entitled Exile and I am also waiting for the publication of the second Elantris book.


I see a lot of people suggesting it is too early to pick the best books of the year. What do you think? I won’t post an official list until I am done with my reading for the year, but it does get tricky to read as much as one would like during the holidays.  I think it is a good time to start thinking about the books that you enjoyed this year.  Especially when you take the time to consider things you read earlier to in year.


Today I will be working on the audio of The Passage again and I am hoping to finish some other book this weekend, though I have no clue which one.  I assume the one that I pick up that manages to distract me away from the internet. I am enjoying some guilt free quality time with myself.

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