Monday, November 30, 2009

Bites <3's Halloween Best of . . . Etc.!

Or the "whatever" fifth category that I had up on the original Halloween post. This category was anything other than a story, art, graphic or a costume so pretty much anything was game. And here I am again with another default winner! I only had two entries in the "whatever" category, Mary DeBorde and Zombie Girrrl and since Mary already won for best art, Zombie Girrrl gets this round! Congratulations!

Here is what these two wonderful ladies sent in to me -

Mary Ann DeBorde's Orb Photo

Zombie Girrrl's Zombie Hands

I have to say, that is an amazing mastery of make-up right there. So a big congrats to Zombie Girrrl! You get to have your choice of a book or DVD from the massive Halloween list! I'll be emailing you shortly about that. And another thank you to Mary Ann for trapping a ghostie on film and bringing him to me! Yay!

ETA - Zombie Girrrl, you must email me! I can't find your email address on any of the links and you didn't leave it in a comment! Contact me ASAP!!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Contest Slurry

Ends 11/29 (hurry up!)

The Horrifying Tale of Mrs. Trollope by Martin Dubow - Sophie at Mrs. Magoo Reads

Ends 11/30

5 copies of Night World: The Ultimate Fan Guide and Night World, both by LJ Smith - Vania at Reverie Book Reviews

The Wrong Grave by Kelly Link - Steph at Hey! Teenager of the Year

Upstate by Kalisha Buckhanon - Mrs. I at YA Bookmark

Ends 12/1

Fallen by Lauren Kate - Wendy at The Book Lush

Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon - Chelsea at The Page Flipper

Ends 12/7

Nothing But Ghosts by Beth Kephart - Sara at The Hiding Spot

Ends 12/10

Fallen and The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove, both by Lauren Kate - Steph at Steph Su Reads

Christmas Box with 10 books and goodies - Lost in a Book

Ends 12/11

Ghost in the Machine by Patrick Carman - J Kaye at J Kaye's Book Blog

Ends 12/14

Taken by Storm by Angela Morrison - Sara at The Hiding Spot

Ends 12/18

1 winner will win 3 books - Carrie at Carrie's YA Bookshelf

Ends 12/21

Beautiful by Amy Reed - Sophie at Mrs. Magoo Reads and Jordyn of Ten Cent Notes

Ends 12/25

Holiday Blowout with 13 books and goodies across 3 winners - Taschima at Bloody Bookaholic

Ends 12/31

Thank You Contest with 17 books across 5 winners - Kate at The Neverending Shelf

1 of 3 books in the Find It Friday Contest - Lost in a Book

'Tis the Season Contest with a stack of books across multiple winners - April at Good Books & Good Wine

Ends 1/19/10

25 books to choose from across 3 winners for the Ginormous 100 Followers Contest - Choco at In Which a Girl Reads

Added to the Pile + 20

I did a massive amount of Christmas shopping at bookstores this weekend and I ended up snagging a few things for myself. Dracula by Bram Stoker. I have the sequel but not the original. Duh? Enchantment of the Faerie Realm by Ted Andrews. I was shopping in this section for a couple of friends and this book called to me. I can't tell you why. But I was immensely compelled to buy it. The Maze Runner by James Dashner. I couldn't pass it up. 30% off cover price for a hardcover. Who am I to say no?

Written in the form of letters, diary entries, and news bits, Dracula chronicles the vampire's journey from his Transylvania castle to the nighttime streets of London. There, he searches for the blood he needs to stay alive - the blood of strong men and beautiful women - while his enemies plot to rid the world of his frightful power. The now-famous cast of characters includes the English solicitor Jonathan Harker; his fiancee, the enchanting Mina Murray; and Van Helsing, the mysterious Dutch doctor and expert vampire killer. (book flap blurb)

Have you ever taken a walk in the woods and felt like you were not alone? That's because you weren't! Forests, lakes, mountains, caves - even your garden - are alive with the spirits of nature. Faeries are real, and you can learn to commune with a whole world of unseen beings, including elves, devas, and nature spirits. With an open mind and a little patience, you can begin to recognize their presence all around you. This book will help you deepen your connection to the natural world as you explore the magical, mystical world of the faerie folk.
  • Discover hidden truths in faerie tales and use them as pathways into the faerie realm
  • Learn the basic habitats, powers, and behaviors of faeries, elves, and other nature spirits
  • Read personal accounts of actual faerie encounters
  • Invoke fire spirits for traditional psychic readings
  • Share the magic and knowledge of twenty tree spirits
  • Find the elementals - gnomes, undines, sylphs, and salamanders - with which you resonate most strongly
  • Contact water sprites, mermaids, and other water spirits
  • Find wood nymphs and the "lady of the woods"
  • Draw dragons into your environment with the right fragrances
  • Attract a faerie godmother into your life
Recapture the magic and wonder of a world where trees still speak and every flower tells a story. Explore the faerie realm - a place where faerie tales can and do come true. (book back blurb)

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. He has no recollection of his parents, his home, or how he got where he is. His memory is blank.

But he's not alone. When the lift's doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade, a large expanse enclosed by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don't know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning, for as long as anyone can remember, the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night, for just as long, they've closed tight. Every thirty days a new boy is delivered in the lift. And no one wants to be stuck in the Maze after dark.

The Gladers were expecting Thomas's arrival. But the next day, a girl is sent up - the first girl ever to arrive in the Glade. and more surprising yet is the message she delivers. The Gladers have always been convinced that if they can solve the maze that surrounds the Glade, they might find their way home . . . wherever that may be. But it's looking more and more as if the Maze is unsolvable.

And something about the girl's arrival is starting to make Thomas feel different. Something is telling him that he just might have some answers - if he can only find a way to retrieve the dark secrets locked within his own mind.
(book flap blurb)

Things I've Learned from Books + 30

Just avoid cheerleaders at all costs. They're not really worth the trouble of "becoming one of them." And, for whatever reason, they have a tendency of being exceptionally bitchy. Really, what's appealing about that? Not to mention the fur or fangs (or both) they might sprout if you accidentally use another girl's lipstick. Whale blubber is not worth losing your throat over.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bites <3's Halloween Best of . . . Graphics!

I have a bit of an interesting situation here. I only had two eligible entries for the graphics portion, Mary DeBorde and Wrighty. Since Mary just won the art portion, Wrighty wins the graphics section by default! Here are the two graphics in this category -


Mary Ann DeBorde

Thank you both for the effort and congratulations Wrighty! You get to have your choice of a book or DVD from the massive Halloween prize list! I'll be emailing you about it all shortly.

80s Awesomeness! ~ 39

Teddy Ruxpin!!!

This was the must have toy of the 80s. I was just told the other day that my parents braved the Black Friday crowds to get me one of these way back when. And I loved my Teddy Ruxpin for years.

If you don't know what it is, it's basically a tape deck in the shape of a bear. He's not all that cuddly because his torso has the tape player in it but his mouth moves and his eyes blink when he's playing. In his back is where you put in the cassette tape (for those who've never known the joy of a cassette tape and using a pen cap to roll the damn thing back up when the player decided to eat it) and then you can read along in the storybook that comes with the tape. Very cool.

Aside from the fact that he may or may not come alive in the night and try to kill you. Those are the limited edition Ruxpins.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Freaky Friday :|: 39

Title: Let Me Tell You How I Died
Author: Sinclair Smith
Published: May 1994
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Pages: 160
The bestselling author of Dream Date spins an out-of-this-world story about a murderer stalking a young girl--who begins to suspect she might be the reincarnation of the murderer's earlier victim. (from
Customer Review:
delia can't stop reading the old diary which mysteriously appears in her locker one day.little by little,she starts to become more like the girl whose words she reads- even having her memories and seeing the world through her eyes. a dead girls eyes. soon delia is convinced that she was the girl who wrote the diary-in a past lfe. but the terror is about to come alive once more. for the girl who wrote the diary was murdered. and the killer is after her again... an awsome book! (from
While reincarnation isn't a big thing in terms of originality, I like it with the premise. It's a nice escape from the reincarnated lovers/lives that seems to be making headway into YA. It's almost bordering on possession from the description of the customer review. Sounds like something I could get into reading, that's for sure.

Bites <3's Halloween Best of . . . Art!

Next round up is for the art created by pencils, pens, crayons, basically anything tangible and not computer-generated. The entrants are as follows -

Mary Ann DeBorde



Even though she isn't eligible to win for this category because she won Best Costume, I still wanted to showcase her artwork.


All of these amazing pieces of art are, well, amazing! We certainly have a huge amount of talent haunting the blogosphere. A giant thank you to you guys for putting in such amazing effort and creating such awesome works of art.

And the winner is . . .

Mary Ann DeBorde!!!

Why? Because there's something about her art that's inherently creepy and gothic. It looks like a chaotic nightmare and something to be truly freaked out by. It certainly hit a nerve with me! Congratulations, Mary! You get to have your choice of a book or DVD from the massive Halloween list of stuff! I'll be emailing you shortly about all of this.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bites <3's Halloween Best of . . . Costumes!

I just want to say a huge thank you again for everyone that put in the effort to enter my contest. I got some kick-ass entries here and at least 2 for every category (even the "whatever" category) so I have some hard decisions on my mind right now! You can only win the "Best of" once so if you win one but still have other entries, I'll post them too (because everything's too great not to) but you just won't be in the running for the prize again. I'll post these over this nice long weekend and I think the best place to start is with all of the great costume photos you guys sent me. I'll post everyone's below and then the winner will be right below that. Good luck, you all!

Mary Ann DeBorde

Lenore (My favorite of the 3 she posted.)


Ladytink _534






And the winner is . . .


Why? Because being a bag of jelly beans for Halloween is a world of awesome and it's such a clever thing! So a big congratulations, Elie! You get to have your choice of a book or DVD from the original massive Halloween list. I'll email you shortly about all of this.

And for the rest of you, I have 4 more categories to get through this weekend so keep your eyes open!

Best Children's Books of 2009

Publisher's Weekly has released their top 30 list of best children's books that came out this year, ranging from picture books to YA.

With the addition of Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor, it just makes me want to read it more. I first heard about it at the YA Buzz panel at BEA back in May and I've heard nothing but good about it since. I must get my hands on this one.

It's really not a surprise that Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins made the list. I mean, that book was one giant win. The thing is, I've seen people either really like the cyclical plot it made or they didn't at all. I haven't seen anyone in between. I wasn't a fan at first but it grew on me quick and then I realized it had to be that way. Of course! But Collins is a gritty, unabashedly sadistic writer that doesn't let her characters get away with anything. What's not to love there?

Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick is also on there and for good reason. This book is right up there with The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien for me. It's all about the perception of reality and how different people interpret different things. That's one of the best ways to tell a war story and McCormick hit it so squarely on the head that the pitch is still ringing. If you haven't read this book, do it. It won't take long and I'm sure you'll love it as much as I did. It'll tear your heart out, open your eyes and make you look at war in an entirely different light. Truly amazing.

I haven't read any of the others on the list but I think The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo should have been on there if for nothing more than pure storytelling. How I love that book. Such depth swilling in such simplicity is a sign of a truly talented author. This is a kick-ass Christmas gift for any reader this year, I'm telling you.

I'd also want to add Tricks by Ellen Hopkins just for its sharp, poignant and unafraid reality. These are the kinds of lessons kids should be reading about. It can happen to you if you don't stop yourself. Look what it'll do. Don't do it. Such gripping, unapologetic storytelling and to think that 3 of those stories are based on real people . . . it hurts to even thing about. Hopkins has real poetic talent and I hope she sticks around for a while! I know I'll keep reading her work.

What would you add (or remove) from this list?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

And the winners are . . .

The winners of copies of The Amanda Project: Invisible I are . . .

kalynnick and J. Lee!!!

Congratulations! I'll be emailing you shortly. And a huge thanks to everyone that entered!

Monday, November 23, 2009

I'd Tell You I Love You but Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

First published in 2006.

Cammie Morgan is a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a fairly typical all-girls school - typical, that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. The Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses, but it's really a school for spies.

Even though Cammie is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man seven different ways with her bare hands, she has no idea what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she's an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, or track him through town with the skill of a real "pavem
ent artist" - but can she maneuver a relationship with someone who can never know the truth about her? (book back blurb)

Initially the only reason why I picked up this book was because it's one of my dream agents's clients so I figured I might as well try out what she likes and see if we see eye to eye (as that's rather important when choosing an agent you want to represent your writing, because otherwise it might not work out so well, huh?). Then I decided to wedge this into my Fear Itself Challenge because of that fact. Had it not been Kristen Nelson's author's book, I wouldn't have otherwise picked it up. In all honesty, I thought a school for teenage spies was a little out there.

I read a chapter before I got nice and horrendously sick so it lay stagnant for a week. My initial impression off of that first chapter? For how extraordinary Cammie is, she's a really normal chick. Normal speech, normal friendships (again, despite the circumstances). The language is normal, not trying too hard. While I'm not crazy about the boarding school thing, at least it doesn't center around the rich kids versus the single poor chick there on a scholarship or something. There aren't really any cliques. No one's striving to be part of one team or another. They kind of just exist. There are students Cammie and her friends don't get along with, as it should be, but nothing is over the top or crazy cut-throat. It's real, to me at least. Overall, a good start.

Then I kept reading and I just fell in love with it. Bravo, Kristen Nelson and bravo Ally Carter! I wish there were more female main characters in YA lit that were more like Cammie and less like the insufferable Bella. Cammie is independent and goal-oriented. She knows what she wants out of life (and let me just say, that can be anything, even being a mom, nothing wrong with that, giving up everything for your boyfriend, on the other hand, very wrong) and she strives her hardest to get it.

What you have to understand about the situation is that while these girls are teenagers, they're not your standard, normal teenagers. When you're working with a genius-level IQ, the teenage brain doesn't function in the same way. Yes, they will still have standard teenage impulses (like with boys, for instance), but the way in which they deal with situations is going to be far different than what your normal teenager would. These are girls that know everything EXCEPT being normal. Macey is their link to the outside world, so to speak. When she comes into the picture, she brings a world these girls know pretty much nothing about into their otherwise very programmed, very structured lives. The opted for this. They wanted it. But that's not to say wrenches won't get thrown in spokes.

I love how Cammie, Bex and Liz handled the whole boy situation with Josh. I think every girl can relate to trying to decipher "boy talk" and "boy action" but they take it to such an extreme because, well, they can crack CIA code. Why the hell can't they figure out what that note meant??? And therein lies the dilemma of a genius. You have someone that can pretty much think their way out of any and every situation, except for those involving common sense and normalcy. Because they're not normal. Not really. Enter Macey again. She's that breath of normal that helps all three girls adjust to something that they're not used to. Had Macey not been in the picture, I don't think Cammie would have been able to handle the situation with Josh as good as she did. None of them had any clue what was going in before Macey and yeah, while the chick's a bitch, she knew what she was talking about. Gotta hate it when that happens.

And I loved the humor. It wasn't an overkill but there was just enough off-the-cuff humor that I ended up laughing out loud. When Bex and Liz were dangling off of Josh's roof while Cammie tried to distract him. Oh dear god did I laugh! I could so see that happening and not in an obnoxious Disney sitcom sort of way either. Or when Cammie stuffed a piece of paper with Josh's handwriting on it into her mouth only to realize after the fact that is was just normal paper, not the dissolving kind she's used to. Ha! Yeah, I can totally see that happening too. I'm telling you, I'd love to see this book in movie form. It has an excellent balance of humor that isn't absurd but is just enough to carry you through the story and lighten the mood.

Let's not forget the writing. Ah-maz-ing. Cammie is such an awesome and relatable character. Yeah, she's a genius, but she's a girl that also lost her father, has a boyfriend she doesn't quiet know what to do with and friends that sometimes teeter on the line of oblivion. It's so real despite the circumstances. The relationships are poignant and touching and at the same time, yeah, it really could happen to you. Ok, so maybe you won't be kidnapped by your teachers in order to complete a final. But you will have teachers that you connect to more than others, that know more than you thought they knew about you, and want only the best for you. It's just such a great book with such strong, admirable characters that you won't be able to help but love them.

I have the next book, Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy sitting in m TBR pile and while I probably won't get to it for a while, I can't wait to see what happens next in the series. Sure, so much can happen when you go to school for spies but it's the normal stuff that's really exciting. Not to mention the awesome problem-solving techniques the girls utilize to figure it all out. God, I love it!

Contest Reminder!

Just a reminder to everyone that my contest for 2 copies of The Amanda Project: Invisible I ends tonight at midnight, EST! Be sure to get your entries in by then!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Contest Slurry + 300 Followers!

Woohoo! I hit the 300 follower mark today! And as of this post, the count's up to 301! Thank you so much, everyone! I may just have a contest coming up to celebrate so keep your eyes open! And to all of you Halloween entrants waiting for the "Best of" winners, don't think I've forgotten you! This month's gotten away from me but considering I have a nice four and a half day weekend coming up, you'll be seeing those this weekend.

Ends 11/26

5 signed copies of Deadly Little Lies by Laurie Faria Stolarz - Free Book Friday Teens

Ends 11/29

Bound to Shadows by Keri Arthur - Blog with Bite

3 copies of Not Like You by Deborah Davis - Sophie at Mrs. Magoo Reads

Ends 11/30

Palace Beautiful by Sarah DeFord Williams - Sharon at Sharon Loves Books and Cats

Signed copy of Betrayals by Lili St. Crow - Liyana at LiyanaLand!

One or potentially two books of your choice - Cheryl and Amber at Just Your Typical Book Blog

Ends 12/1

Marley Gibson prize pack with 3 books - Ashley at Books Obsession

Being Nikki by Meg Cabot - Elise at Reading Rocks

5 copies each of Night World and Night World: The Ultimate Fan Guide by LJ Smith - Kristi at The Story Siren

Ends 12/3

2 winners will win 3 books each plus swag - Steph at Steph Su Reads

Fallen by Lauren Kate - Alea at Pop Culture Junkie

Signed copy of Betrayals by Lili St. Crow - Tina at Fantastic Book Review

Ends 12/4

Fallen by Lauren Kate - Elie at Ellz Readz

Ends 12/7

Explorer X-Alpha by LM Preston plus a poster - Lauren at Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf

Ends 12/8

2 prize packs with 2 books each plus goodies - Lauren at Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf

Ends 12/11

How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Sandiford - Kelsey at The Book Scout

Ends 12/21

$30 Barnes and Noble gift card - Christina at {Insert Book Title Here}

Added to the Pile + 19

Two presents this week! First I received my copy of The Midnight Guardian by Sarah Jane Stratford that I won from Kristi at The Story Siren. Yay! I was also one of the winners from the survey contest and I won a book that they would send me at random. I was really hoping for The Maze Runner by James Dashner because that book looks nine different levels of awesome. What did I get? Need by Carrie Jones. Um, thanks? I have not heard good things from my trusted reviewers on this one so I'm not sure how it's going to pan out. I'll give it a try, but no promises.

It's 1938, and the tentacles of Hitler's terrifying Third Reich have commenced their stranglehold on Europe. The Nazi empire will soon be clean of all bloodlines deemed tainted or undesirable . . . including vampires.

London's ancient tribunal of vampires is aghast at the destruction taking place on the Continent. Though vampires try not to interfere with human politics, Hitler's terrible plans force them into action. They resolve to send five of their most formidable vampires to Berlin - millennials who have lived more than a thousand
years and whose age and wisdom make them close to invulnerable - to infiltrate, disrupt, and destroy the growing Nazi war machine.

The brilliant and beautiful millennial Brigit is loath to go, but her powers are needed if the mission is to have any chance of success. She must summon all her strength to endure the separation from her lover Eamon, whom she made almost eight centuries ago, but whose lack of millennial status makes him an unacceptable choice for this operation. Though he longs to join her, his duty to Brigit is best served from afar, by nurturing their deep psychic connection and reinforcing her spirit with his fierce devotion and memories of his tender embrace.

But as the millennials attempt to penetrate and sabotage Hitler's armies, they discover that the Nazis are more capable than any human forc
e they've yet encountered and more monstrous than they'd ever imagined. Forced to take bolder, more dangerous steps, they soon attract the attention of specially trained vampire hunters loyal to Hitler and his vision of a vampire-free Europe. Exposed, deep inside enemy territory, with vicious Nazi officers and hunters at her heels, Brigit must attempt a daring escape from the Continent, guarding precious cargo that marks the only hope for salvaging their mission. (book flap blurb)

Zara White suspects there's a freaky guy semi-stalking her. She's also obsessed with phobias. And it's true, she hasn't exactly been herself since her stepfather died. But exiling her to shivery Maine to live with her grandmother? That seems a bit extreme. The move is supposed to help her stay sane . . . but Zara's pretty sure her mom just can't deal with her right now.

She couldn't be more wrong. Turns out the semi-stalker is not a figment of Zara's overactive imagination. In fact, he's still following her, leaving behind an eerie trail of gold dust. There's something not right - not human - in this sleepy Maine town, and all signs point to Zara.
(book flap burb)

Things I've Learned from Books + 29

Beware the locals. They're most likely more hassle than they're worth. And you know disposing a body bigger than you is a hassle unto itself.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

80s Awesomeness! ~ 38


Not to be confused with guppies.

If you were a yuppie, or aspired to be one, you were the hottest shit on the face of the earth. Chances are you were a Wall Street-type of person in power suits with the hottest piece of electronic equipment to date, the cell phone. Yes, people, that hulking monstrosity on that dude's ear is a CELL PHONE. But you were hot talking on it. Why? Because they were so expensive that only the richest people could afford them so having one elevated you to top yuppie. Bingo!

They were also known to be massive coke heads and stuck up shits. If you weren't part of the yuppie culture, you reviled them. They sucked and they epitomized everything that was wrong with society. Turns out those people weren't too far off on that marker, huh?

Their battle cry? DIE YUPPIE SCUM!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Freaky Friday :|: 38

Title: Dream Date
Author: Sinclair Smith
Published: March 1993
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 160
Katie thinks she's met the perfect guy--in her dreams. Then he starts making strange, threatening appearances in real life and Katie finds herself in a waking nightmare--and finding it harder and harder to distinguish between what's real . . . and what isn't. (from
Wow. That sounds really cool. Ok. Must scour used book stores online for this one. I love the whole dream/reality what's real, what isn't type of thing and this sounds right up my alley. I think I really need to find this one. Like now.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Two Things

One -

I've finished my own Fear Itself Challenge. I just need to post the review. And I have to say, I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I've Have to Kill You is total redemption. You'll see more in my review.

Two -

And now for something completely different . . .

Thank you, Lizzie. Nom, nom, nom. That is all.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Moar Awards!

Again, I swear I didn't really let them pile up. 10 days, at most! That's not a pile-up, is it?

I was awarded the Honest Scrap Award from Lea at YA Book Queen, Nicole at WORD for Teens and Miss Cindy at Simple Life and Reading! Thank you so much! And it's a little telling that I received the same award from three different blogs in a week and a half. LOL! Should I be worried?

This award is bestowed on a fellow blogger whose blog content or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant. This award is about bloggers who post from their heart, who oftentimes put their heart on display as they write from the depths of their soul.

I'm supposed to list ten honest things about myself and then pass it on to seven other honest bloggers but since I just doled this one out fairly recently, I'm going to pass on the specifics. If you think you're totally honest and would like to snag the award for yourself, by all means be my guest!

I was also given the Kreative Blogger Award from Choco at In Which a Girl Reads! A huge, huge thank you! For this one I'm supposed to list my seven favorite things and then pass it along to seven more bloggers. I know I've handed this one out a few times already and since my brain's a sieve and I'm way too OCD to be comfortable with repeating myself and giving out the award to the same blogger twice, I'm just going to leave this one open as well. If you want it, you got it!

And ten points to anyone that can tell my what my seven favorite things are! I know I've listed them here on a couple of occasions. :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Labyrinth by ACH Smith

First published in 1986.

Everything is unfair. No one understands her. She is alone in a friendless world. This is how young Sarah feels when she is left behind yet again by her father and hated step-mother to look after her baby brother Toby. Outside a storm is raging, inside Toby is screaming his head off; in a fit of temper, Sarah wishes the goblins would come and take him away. Unfortunately, they do.

Suddenly, Sarah is plunged into a whirlwind adventure. She must get Toby back from the center of the mysterious labyrinth within thirteen hours - or else Jareth, king of the goblins, will keep him forever. The journey is long and dangerous, and the odds are stacked against her. Can she rise to the first real challenge of her young life?
(book back blurb)

First I just want to say that the copy I have doesn't have that cover since I have the UK version of the book but I couldn't find that particular one. *sigh* Substitutes. I'll live.

Anyway, as Hollywood is wont to do now, because, apparently, they've smoked their creativity away, and adapt movies from books, it used to be heavily the other way around. I'm not sure how many movie novelizations have been made recently but they used to be very common. Labyrinth was one of them. The person writing the novelization really didn't have too much creative license with what they were given but if they were given enough information, and had the talent, they could write an amazing adaptation of a movie.

I have The Lost Boys movie novelization and it's one of the most skeletal, sterile books I own and the only reason I own it is because it's Lost Boys. The author claims that he was basically given the script and told to turn it into a book. He didn't have any insight into the characters, nothing, so he had to work with what he was given. I haven't read any of his other books but, really, that writing doesn't make me want to, either.

ACH Smith on the other hand wrote an amazing novelization that's so rich in language that it would have fared just fine had the movie never existed. Not that I'm saying I don't want the movie to exist. God, why would I do such a stupid thing? I'm just saying, the novelization's really good.

Usually movie novelizations offer some "deleted scenes" that we don't get to see in the movie. Labyrinth, however, stuck really closely to the final cut of the film with only minor deviations and much more internal workings. We're able to get deeper into Sarah's, Jareth's and Hoggle's heads than the movie could provide. Not to mention Smith didn't hide from the subtext of sexual tension in the film in the book. It was right there for all to see on the pages, never mind Sarah was just 15 and the Goblin King, well, wasn't. The book never does say how old Jareth is but David Bowie wasn't even in the realm of legal to a 15 year old. Not that that stops the fanfiction writers any.

What I like about the book that the movie doesn't touch on as much is the aspect of growing up. Sarah very much lives in a fantasy land and at 15, it can be argued that, maturity-wise, she's a little behind because of it. But as the story goes on and her quest becomes more and more solid in her head and she carries that burden of responsibility, Sarah grows up. At the end of the movie, Sarah calls all her Labyrinth friends back to her and they come and they have a grand old time. In the book, one of the characters tells her, "Sometimes to need is to let go." You can't walk around with that security blanket for the rest of your life, right? Sure, you need it but, eventually, you have to let it go. She tells them she needs them, but they don't come. She has to stand on her own now. It's a much more adult ending. Or mature, I should say.

The book is just as rich and vibrant as the movie and Smith does an amazing job of recreating Jim Henson's and Brian Froud's world into words. Smith's a very talented writer and his way around a character's emotions is just astounding. The way he was able to get into their heads and make them three-dimensional even on the page makes me envious. Sure, it helps that I picture everything as clear as day as it is in the movie, and I'm slightly biased, but it's a really good read regardless.

If you can find a copy of this book, hold onto it for dear life. It's out of print and the copies available in various places are not by any means cheap. I was lucky enough to get my copy on eBay back before the website was anywhere near as popular as it is now so the competition was much lower. I don't remember how much I paid for it but rest assured, I will cut you if you come near it.

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