Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Holloween!

Hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween. Just in case the zombie apocalypse comes early, here are some good rules to keep in mind courtesy of Zombieland:


Preparation is never a bad thing. Unless maybe you've started stockpiling canned goods after reading Life as We Knew It, but that's a different story.

Book Review: Generation Dead

Title: Generation Dead
Author: by Daniel Waters
Genre: YA
Publisher: Hyperion Books (DBG)
Publication Date: May 2008
Hardcover: 400 pages

Stand Alone or series: Book 1 in the Generation Dead series

Summary:
Phoebe is just your typical goth girl with a crush. He’s strong and silent. and dead.

All over the country, a strange phenomenon is happening. Some teenagers who die aren’t staying dead. They are coming back to life, but they are no longer the same-they stutter, and their reactions to everything are slower. Termed “living impaired” or “differently biotic,” they are doing their best to fit into a society that doesn’t want them.

Fitting in is hard enough when you don’t have the look or attitude, but when almost everyone else is alive and you’re not, it’s close to impossible. The kids at Oakvale High don’t want to take classes or eat in the cafeteria next to someone who isn’t breathing. And there are no laws that exist to protect the differently biotic from the people who want them to disappear-for good.

With her pale skin and Goth wardrobe, Phoebe has never run with the popular crowd. But no one can believe it when she falls for Tommy Williams, the leader of the dead kids. Not her best friend, Margi, whose fear of the differently biotic is deeply rooted in guilt over the past. And especially not her neighbor, Adam, the star of the football team. Adam has just realized his feelings for Phoebe run much deeper than just friendship. He would do anything for her, but what if protecting Tommy is the one thing that would make her happy?
Review:

As the summary says, Phoebe is high schooler with a bit of an addiction to black. She's your typical "I don't want to be typical" gal and her and her friends are just trying to make it through another year. To make things more complicated, more and more zombies keep shuffling into their small town every day. And when Phoebe suddenly decides to get to know one “differently biotic” kid in particular better, the limits of friendship and acceptance will be pushed to the limit.

If you are anything like me you'll take one look at the cover of this book and think...."um no." It's cheesy and the type of people you think a cover like this would appeal to are not the kind of people I have the same taste in books as. But don't let that stop you. This book completely blindsided me in the best way possible and the cover is the worst thing about this book. Generation Dead is actually one of the more interesting zombie books I've ever read. No joke.

Even though Generation Dead a book about zombies, like any good zombie fiction the book mainly tackles the social implications of zombies. Instead of being about the horror of the rising dead, this book is about the horror and ugliness inside all of us. It's about how we treat people who are different from us and how we tend to reject anything that isn't the way we think it should be. The zombies of Generation Dead are not like normal zombies. They don't eat brains or small animals. They don't eat anything at all in fact. The zombies in this book are much more akin to just slow teenagers. Because of that, people have to adjust to this new phenomenon instead of just rejecting it and it's impossible not to see the connection to other civil rights issues. This book makes you think about how you would react if your friends who died suddenly reappeared as a zombie and the answers aren't always pretty.

My only complaint about this book is the obvious love triangle thing Waters has going on. Because Tommy wasn't as fleshed out as a character, it was hard for me to really root for him. In fact, he was just a minor annoyance for me. Adam is such a wonderful character that you can't help but fall in love with him. While there were times where I thought Phoebe was way too sanctimonious towards her friends (she tends to act like she's the most conscientiousness person ever and everyone else is secretly waiting for the opportunity to bash the “differently biotic” kids), she's a character people can get behind. Her friendships feel genuine with their ups and downs and she's a nice alternative to the Bellas of the world. My only other minor issue was the ending. It seemed like a bit of a cop-out, but that might just be me.

All and all though this book is amazing. I've been vague on purpose since I don't want to give anything away, but I can tell you I was sobbing like a baby by the end. Generation Dead was so much more than I expected and I think it's perfect for those who aren't on the zombie train yet. Zombie fans looking for some horror will be disappointed, but they should know better by the cover.

Notable Quotes/ Parts:
CHAPTER ONE

Phoebe and her friends held their breath as the dead girl in the plaid skirt walked past their table in the lunchroom. Her motion kicked up a cool trailing breeze that seemed to settle on the skin and catch in their hair. As they watched her go by, Phoebe could almost tell what everyone was thinking. Everyone, that is, except for the dead girl.

Across from her, Margi shook her head, her silver teardrop earrings dancing among the bright pink spikes of her hair. "Even I don't wear skirts that short," she said before sipping her milk.

"Thank God for that," Adam said from two seats away.

Phoebe risked a glance back at the girl and her long, bluish-white legs. Fluorescent lights were kind to the dead, making them look like they had been carved from veinless blocks of pure white marble. The girl went to the farthest table and sat down alone, and without any food, the way the dead always did during lunch.

Sometimes Phoebe used to joke that she possessed psychic powers. Not useful ones like being able to tell when small children have fallen into wells or anything; more like being able to foresee what her mother was making for dinner or how many bangles Margi was going to wear on her arms that day. She thought her "powers," if that's what they were, were more telepathetic than telepathic.

Phoebe knew as soon as she saw her that the dead girl in the short skirt would get Margi rolling on a whole host of zombie-related topics, none of which she really wanted to discuss.

"I heard that Tommy Williams's eye fell out in homeroom," Margi said, on cue. "I heard that he sneezed or something, and there it went, splat, on his desk."

Phoebe swallowed and placed her egg salad sandwich back atop the wax paper wrapping it came in.

"Zombies don't sneeze," Adam said around a mouthful of meatball sub. "Zombies don't breathe, so they can't sneeze."

The girls lowered their heads and looked around to see who was in earshot of Adam's booming voice. Zombie was a word you just didn't say in public anymore, even if you were the center on the football team.

Air hissed through Margi's teeth. "You aren't supposed to call them zombies, Adam."

He shrugged his massive shoulders. "Zombies, dead heads, corpsicles. What's the difference? They don't care. They don't have feelings to hurt."

Phoebe wondered if Tommy Williams and the girl in the plaid skirt really didn't have any feelings. The scientists weren't clear on that point yet.

She tried to imagine how she would feel losing an eye, especially losing an eye in public. And in homeroom, no less.

"You could be expelled for saying things like that, Adam," Margi was saying. "You know you're supposed to call them living impaired."

Adam snorted, his mouth full of milk. Ten years ago a milk snort would have been the height of biological grotesquerie at Oakvale High. Today it seemed kind of lame next to losing an eye in homeroom.

"Living impaired," Adam commented after recovering. "I think you two are living impaired. They're just dead."

He stood up, his huge body casting a long shadow over their uneaten lunches, and brought his empty tray to the conveyor system that took all of the dishes and garbage away. Phoebe just looked at her beautiful egg salad sandwich and wished that she had any desire left to eat it.


Phoebe's locker popped open on her third try. She figured that her inability to remember the three-digit combination did not bode well for her impending algebra class, which was always right after lunch. Her stomach rumbled, and she tried to tell herself that the spikes of hunger would give her mind an alert sharpness, like a lynx in winter between successful hunts.

Yeah right, she thought.

Tommy Williams was in her algebra class.

The door to her locker shook with a metallic vibrating sound. Inside were pictures of bands like the Creeps, the Killdeaths, Seraphim Shade, the Rosedales, Slipknot, and the Misfits; bands that dressed like the living dead before there were any dead actually living. There was a picture of her, Margi, and Colette in happier times, all gothed up in black fabrics, eye-liner, and boots outside the Cineplex in Winford, ready to be first in line for the premier of some vitally important horror movie she couldn't even remember. Phoebe, the tallest, was in the middle, her long black hair hiding one side of her naturally pale face, and her visible eye closed as she laughed at whatever vulgar comment Margi had just made. Colette had done her eyes like an Egyptian princess, with a single thick line of makeup at each corner. Colette and Margi were also laughing.

There was also a picture of her dog, Gargoyle. Gar was a Welsh terrier and not half as frightening as his name would suggest.

A mirror was on the door opposite the shelf where Phoebe's algebra book lay. On her mouth was a streak of smeared violet lipstick. Her long hair, normally jet-black, shiny, spiky, and tousled, now just looked dull, flat, and messy.

She thought she looked scared.

The lipstick smear was the only flaw that seemed fixable, so she rubbed it away before walking toward Mrs. Rodriguez's class down at the end of the hallway. She arrived there the same time as Tommy Williams, whose eyes, she was relieved to see, were still fixed within their sockets. He gazed at her with the blank stare of the living impaired.

Phoebe felt like cold feathers were dancing along her spine. The stare was bottomless. It made her think that she could fall forever into his eyes, or that he could see through to the very heart of her. Could he see her wondering if his eye had popped out in homeroom?

Tommy motioned for her to precede him into the room.

She held her breath as he lifted his arm, realizing it only because another one of her essential life functions had ceased, namely her heartbeat. She smiled at him. It was a reflex; courtesy was not very common in the halls of Oakvale High. She stepped into the room, and as she did, she was almost certain that Tommy was trying to smile back at her. Wasn't there a faint upturn of the lips at one corner of his mouth, or the briefest flash of light in the flat undead eyes?

She took her seat, breathing again, heart beating again. Not only beating but beating fast.

She didn't know much about Tommy Williams. She knew that he'd come to Oakvale High last May, just a few weeks before school had let out. Oakvale was starting to get a reputation for having a good living impaired program, good enough that families with living impaired kids were moving to Oakvale from the surrounding area. Phoebe's father had pointed out an article in the Winford Bulletin that said Oakvale High's living impaired population had doubled in a year. There were at least seven in her class of about a hundred and twenty.

Algebra was not a subject that Phoebe struggled with; she usually completed the next day's assignment while Mrs. Rodriguez started to probe for answers among her slower, struggling classmates. Algebra was a class that she could drift in and out of in the way music from a car passing will drift into an open bedroom window.

She wondered how Tommy Williams had died.

She looked at the back of his head, at his gray-blond hair, and her thoughts drifted, again, to the topic of death. They started with the mundane -- Do living impaired people need to get haircuts? (The answer: Yes. Both hair and fingernails can grow after true death as well as in living impairment.) And proceeded to the philosophically complex -- What is it like to be dead? What is it like to be living impaired?

These questions had preoccupied Phoebe when she was a young girl, long before the world had heard of the living impaired. She looked out the window and tried to think of the time before dead teens began to pick themselves off of mortuary slabs and sick beds. It hadn't been all that long ago; she was fourteen when she saw the first footage of a zombie -- of a living impaired person -- sitting stiffly between his parents on some CNN talk show. Her parents always made her leave the room when the Dallas Jones video came on. That video was the Zapruder film of their generation, as it showed Dallas, the original zombie, die and come back to "life."

A dog trailing a broken leash ran across the field opposite the classroom window, and Phoebe wondered why living impairment seemed to be a phenomenon exclusive to teenagers. American teenagers, specifically. Dogs didn't come back. Neither did monkeys or goldfish, or old people, or small children. Apparently, neither did teenagers in Uzbekistan, Burkina Faso, Sweden, or Papua New Guinea, for some reason. But kids from Oklahoma, Rockaway Beach, The Big Apple, Arkansas, or The Big Easy all bore at least a chance of winding up living impaired, as long as they croaked during the delicate teen years. The newest Frankenstein Formula theory was that a certain mixture of teenage hormones and fast food preservatives set up the proper conditions for living impairment. The medical community was still testing the theory, having begrudgingly let go of fluorocarbons and brain patterns rewired by a lifetime of first-person shooter games.

Outside, the dog lifted a matted hind leg on a bike rack where a number of bicycles were chained. Do the dead go to the bathroom? They didn't eat or drink, so the answer would seem to be no.

Mrs. Rodriguez then did a strange thing, strange enough to interrupt Phoebe's train of thought. She called on Tommy for the answer to a problem even though his pale hand wasn't raised.

Tommy looked up from his papers. There was a pause that sucked the air out of the classroom; there was always a pause like that when the dead were called on.

The dead could think, and they could communicate. They could reason, and once in a blue moon, one might even initiate a conversation. But they did so very, very slowly...a question, even one as simple as the one from Mrs. Rodriguez, could take a living impaired person ten minutes to process, and another five to respond.

Phoebe covertly tried to gauge the reaction of her classmates. Some were suddenly absorbed in their textbooks, doing anything to avoid the reality -- or unreality -- that the dead kid represented. Others, like Pete Martinsburg, who was taking Algebra One for the second time and who was normally only interested in football and girls, were rapt with attention. Pete was looking at Tommy with the same expression of manic glee that he wore when he'd tripped Norm Lathrop and sent him sprawling into a bank of big rubber garbage cans in the lunchroom last week.

"One hundred and seventy-four," Tommy said, his voice halting and without inflection. No one hearing his voice could tell if Tommy thought his answer was wrong or right, so most of the class looked at Mrs. Rodriguez for her reaction.

She looked pleased. "That is correct, Thomas."

Phoebe noted that she always called the living impaired kids by their formal first names. It wasn't something she did with the "normal" kids. Pete Martinsburg was just "Pete" when she called his name, which was often, and usually to reprimand him. Phoebe was secretly thrilled to see the leer smacked off of Pete's face.

Mrs. Rodriguez went on with the class like it was no big deal to call on a dead kid. For the most part, the rest of the class reacted the same way.

But Phoebe noticed that Tommy did not go back to looking at his papers. His head remained high for the remainder of the class.


Margi was waiting for her at the door after algebra.

"How did you get here so quickly?" Phoebe asked. Margi took her arm and pulled her aside.

"Sshh. I've mastered the art of bilocation; I'm really heading off to our English class right now."

Phoebe laughed. "Me too. Let's go."

"Hold on," Margi said. "I want to see that living impaired kid for a minute."

"Whoever told you about the eye thing was yanking your chain. He still has both," Phoebe whispered, and then Tommy walked out of the classroom, the last one to leave.

"I've got something even bigger. I heard he signed up for football tryouts. He's supposed to start practice tomorrow."

Phoebe looked at her friend, wondering just how it was that Margi always knew what was going on with the dead kids.

"Don't look at me like that, Pheebes. I overheard Coach Konrathy arguing with Principal Kim. He wasn't going to let the dead kid try out, but Kim is making him."

"Really?"

"Really. Can you imagine that? Playing with a living-dead kid? Having to shower with one of them? Brrrr."

Did the dead have to shower? They weren't rotting corpses like in all the movies, and they didn't sweat, either. Phoebe didn't think they smelled like anything; at least they didn't smell like anything dead.

"He looks like he could play," Phoebe said, watching him make his patient way down the hall.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, he's built for it."

"Phoebe," Margi said, making a face. "Ick."

"He is. He's really, you know, sort of handsome."

"Yeah, if he wasn't, like, dead," Margi said. "Double ick. Come on, we have to get to class."

"What about bilocation?"

"I can't do it when someone is asking me a bunch of questions. Let's go."


Phoebe made one stop after the final bell before she went out to the bus. Adam was methodically stacking books in his locker, lifting half the stack with one big hand.

"Hey," she said, "I hear that a corpsicle is going out for your precious football team."

"Yeah?" he said, not looking up from his task. "Whatever. As long as he can play."

Phoebe smiled. She thought it was cute the way Adam tried to be all gruff around her. She wondered if he even knew he was doing it.

"Listen," she said, "would you be able to give me a lift home tomorrow? I want to stay and get some work done in the library."

"Sure, as long as you can wait until practice is over," he said, pushing his locker closed. "And as long as the STD doesn't take away my driving privileges."

STD was Adam's term of endearment for his stepdad, who he got along with about as well as he did with Winford Academy's defensive line.

"Great," she said. "See you. I've got to catch my bus."

Adam nodded. If he really did have an opinion one way or another about playing football with the living impaired he didn't show it. Adam had matured a lot over the summer. Maybe it was the karate.

"Is Daffy coming?"

Phoebe laughed. Adam was more mature around everyone other than Daffy, his nickname for Margi. "I don't think so."

"Okay. See you."

"Later." She watched him walk away. She'd known Adam since she'd moved next door to him years ago, but he was different now -- in the way he walked, in the way he talked, in the way his face had slimmed down to reveal a strong, angular jawline. His upper half, always big, had broadened out into a wide V from his narrow waist. Phoebe smiled to herself. If it was the karate, it was a good thing.

She almost missed her bus home. Colette was already sitting alone and staring ahead out the windshield. Phoebe saw her, and the familiar pang of sadness and shame flared inside her chest.

Phoebe had grown up with Colette Beauvoir, at least until Colette stopped growing when she drowned in Oxoboxo Lake the previous summer. Colette would be fifteen forever, and yet she was not the same fifteen she used to be. Phoebe had tried to talk to her -- once -- but the experience had been so disturbing that she'd never tried again. That was months ago. Margi was even worse; she would get up from her seat and leave if Colette entered the room. As gabby as Margi was, she couldn't even bear to discuss what happened to Colette.

The dead always sat alone. The school dismissed them five minutes early so that they would have time to shuffle out to the buses. Every school day since Colette died, Phoebe would pass her sitting there all alone and wonder if she remembered the fun they used to have listening to Colette's brother's old Cure and Dead Kennedys records in the basement.

"Colette." It was the first word Phoebe had said to her since the one failed conversation. The memory of her tears still felt fresh in Phoebe's mind.

Colette turned, and Phoebe liked to think that it was the sound of her name and not just sound that caused her to turn. She regarded Phoebe with a fixed blank stare. Phoebe considered sliding into the seat next to the dead girl. Her mouth opened to say -- what? How sorry she was? How much she missed her?

She lost her nerve and moved toward the back of the bus, where Margi was, whatever words she'd hoped to say caught in her throat. Colette's head turned back slowly, like a door on a rusty hinge.

Margi was engrossed in her iPod, or at least she was pretending to be. Colette was like a dark spot on the sun to Margi; she never spoke about her or even acknowledged that she existed.

"Did you hear that the bass player for Grave Mistake died?" she said. "Heart attack after overdosing on heroin."

"Oh?" Phoebe said, wiping her eye. "You think he'll come back?"

Margi shook her head. "I think he's too old, like twenty-two or twenty-three."

"That's unfortunate," Phoebe said. "I guess we'll know in a couple days."

Tommy Williams was the last one on the bus. There were plenty of open seats.

Tommy stopped at Colette's seat. He looked at her, and then he sat down beside her.

That's weird, Phoebe thought. She was going to say so to Margi, but Margi was intent on her iPod and trying furiously not to notice anything about their dead friend.
Verdict:

Completely surprising. One of the first zombie books where I wasn't disappointed at all. If anything, I think this is a game changer.

Rating: 8. Excellent – some laughing and/or crying involved

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Zombie Cupcakes

As you can see by the pictures, these cupcakes are super easy to make. The hardest part was cutting out the arms, but you can always buy zombie hand picks. (The only reason I didn't is because I refuse to pay $7 dollars on shipping something so small.) Either way, these cupcakes are super adorable if I don't say so myself.

Also, feel free to use the sheet of zombie arms. If you can't save it through flickr for some reason, here's another version. Just save it and print it out as an 8 by 10.

Project7Project8IMG_9378IMG_9380IMG_9383IMG_9385IMG_9386IMG_9388IMG_9390IMG_9391IMG_9393IMG_9396IMG_9408

All you have to do is bake some cupcakes using any chocolate cake recipe you like. I actually used a box mix and used the pudding mix, 2 eggs, 2 cups of milk method. Then you frost your cupcakes, roll them in crushed chocolate wafers or cookies, make your milano cookie tombstones, and finish your hand toothpicks. Easy peasy.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Book Review: The Zombie Survival Guide

Title: The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead
Author: Max Brooks
Genre: Humor
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Publishing Date: September 16th 2003
Paperback: 254 pages

Summary: (from Goodreads)
The Zombie Survival Guide is your key to survival against the hordes of undead who may be stalking you right now. Fully illustrated and exhaustively comprehensive, this book covers everything you need to know, including how to understand zombie physiology and behavior, the most effective defense tactics and weaponry, ways to outfit your home for a long siege, and how to survive and adapt in any territory or terrain.

Top 10 Lessons for Surviving a Zombie Attack

1. Organize before they rise!
2. They feel no fear, why should you?
3. Use your head: cut off theirs.
4. Blades don’t need reloading.
5. Ideal protection = tight clothes, short hair.
6. Get up the staircase, then destroy it.
7. Get out of the car, get onto the bike.
8. Keep moving, keep low, keep quiet, keep alert!
9. No place is safe, only safer.
10. The zombie may be gone, but the threat lives on.

Don’t be carefree and foolish with your most precious asset—life. This book is your key to survival against the hordes of undead who may be stalking you right now without your even knowing it. The Zombie Survival Guide offers complete protection through trusted, proven tips for safeguarding yourself and your loved ones against the living dead. It is a book that can save your life.
Review:

There comes a time in any zombie lovers life when they consider what they would do if a zombie attack occurred. Would you brave a cross country trek to reunite with your family? Or would you hole up in your house and pray for the best? These are the kind of questions the Zombie Survival Guide will help you answer.

The Zombie Survival Guide is broken up into different sections that detail zombie senses, zombie behavioral patterns, weapons, combat techniques, how to set up a defense, vehicles, and how to start over. The Zombie Survival Guide also goes into specific detail about different types of weapons, vehicles, and other techniques. With tips like "shoot in the kneecaps is you can't get to the brain," The guide is chock full of almost everything you'd ever need to know about a zombie attack and more.

When reading this book, it's important to keep in mind what it is and what it isn't. What The Zombie Survival Guide is, is a guidebook on how to handle a zombie attack. What it isn't, is a novel with any sort of story arc. There are no characters to fall in love with or underdogs to root for here. My biggest problem with the book is that some sections seemed really in depth while others glossed over important details. There's a few "science still can't explain" tactics that annoyed me since this book's premise is that this a real-world guidebook on what to do when zombies attack. The book itself is also very dry. A lot of the attempts at humor we're a bit silly I thought and I don't think the idea of the book should overshadow the actual product. Because that's what it really comes down to doesn't it? This book has an interesting premise and is a great idea, but the book itself is a bit so-so.

Notable Quotes/ Parts: 


You can read the chapter "Recorded Attacks" here (pdf).
 
Verdict:

In the end, I have to say this book is more of a novelty than anything else. It'd make a good gift, but I wouldn't buy it myself. The contradictions and reference style writing left me unimpressed. Just because I love zombies doesn't mean I love every book about zombies (which some people on goodreads don't seem to get). The best thing about this book is its concept, and I don't think that's really a good thing.

Rating: 5. Blah – essentially neutral

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Zombie Swag

Not sure what to get the zombie lover in your life? Well, here's a roundup of some awesome zombie swag. I found it all on etsy so you can rest assured that your gruesome delights were made with love and care by real artists.


1. Cemetery Pendant  ($10)
2. Resident Evil Zombie Defense Flask ($22)
3. Keep American Zombie Free Sticker ($4)
4. Personal Zombie Jesus Hand painted Pendant ($25)
5. Back to School Zombie Art Pencil Case  ($14.99)
6. Vinyl Decal Sticker ($7.99)
7. MMmmmm Brains Earrings ($12)
8. Brain Sundae Zombie Snack Dessert Fine Art Photograph ($28)
9. Zombie limerick book ($3)
10. ZOMBIE NATION Hoodie ($49.99)
11. Flesh Eater Zombie Necklace ($12)
12. Brain Cupcake Soap ($4.75)
13. Zombie Virgin Mary Psychobilly Necklace ($7)
14. Nuclear messenger bag ($20)
15. Blood choker necklace ($16)
16. I Hurt Hair Clip ($4.25)
17. Zombie Hello Kitty Vinyl Decal ($8.99)


I think I want the "flesh eater" necklace the most. That hoodie is amazing, but I'm not much of a hoodie wearer. That zombie Jesus and the nuclear bag are also calling my name so we'll have to see though.


Zombie Wordless Wednesday

Ok so I forgot to post this yesterday. Good things zombies are slow on the uptake.
Zombie Girl no.2 by LB For only $10 a print, I am gonna have to treat myself I think.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Book Review: Zombies vs. Unicorns

Title: Zombies vs. Unicorns
Author: Team Unicorn edited by Holly Black – Kathleen Duey, Meg Cabot, Garth Nix, Margo Lanagan, Naomi Novik & Diana Peterfreund; Team Zombie edited by Justine Larbalestier – Libba Bray, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, Carrie Ryan & Scott Westerfeld
Genre: YA

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Publication Date: September 2010
Hardcover: 432 pages

Stand Alone or series: Stand alone.

Summary: (from goodreads)

It's a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (unicorn and zombie, respectively), strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths--for good and evil--of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan. This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?
Review:

This is not an easy book to review because it's made up of so many different pieces. Not only does the book bounce between unicorn and zombie stories, but each individual story brings something completely different to the table. I'm not usually a big fan of short story compilations since I'm one of those people who has to know what happens later, but this book didn't leave me feeling unfulfilled. That's not to say that there weren't stories I would love to read a novel about. I just didn't feel cheated or like I was reading some side project which was definitely a plus.

The thing I was most impressed with was the wide range of different themes this compilation covered. A lot of the stories had completely new and refreshing ideas. Quite a few stories also featured same-sex couples which is always a pleasant surprise in my opinion.

I'm not going to review each individual story (though the Book Smugglers have a great breakdown if that's what you're looking for), but I will say my favorite story was “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Ayala Dawn Johnson. This story completely blindsided me and I absolutely adored it. I can't wait to check out some of Johnson's other books. That's how much I loved this story. I also really liked "Bougainvillea" by Carrie Ryan. Even though I wasn't particularly fond of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Ryan's writing is wonderful. "Princess Prettypants" by Meg Cabot was also surprising and I wouldn't mind reading more about the feisty unicorn one little bit.

While some stories were better than others, I can't think of one story that I really didn't like. All in all I think this was a great compilation. I also think the cover art was awesome and I'm a bit sad I have to return the book to the library.

Notable Quotes/ Parts:

I actually enjoyed the editors banter back and forth. One of my favorite quotes from the book is when Justine Larbalestier said, "Emperors and kings. Noble families. You're just saying unicorns are stuck-up snobs. Zombies are the proletariat. Long live the workers!" (pg2)

Here’s an excerpt from “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Alaya Dawn Johnson:
Think of it like the best macaroni and cheese you’ve ever had. No neon yellow Velveeta and bread crumbs. I’m talking gourmet cheddar, the expensive stuff from Vermont that crackles as it melts into that crust on top. Imagine if right before you were about to tear into it, the mac and cheese starts talking to you? And it’s really cool. It likes Joy Division more than New Order, and owns every Sonic Youth album, and saw you in the audience at the latest Arctic Monkeys concert, though you were too stoned to notice anything but the clearly sub-par cheesy mac you’d brought with you.
You can read the first short story here.

Verdict: I loved it. Fun and a bit self indulgent, it was a nice way to get a little bit of both worlds.

Rating: 7. Very good

Zombies in Plain English

Here's a video on how to recognize, hide from, and kill zombies:



Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Book Review: Feed

Title: Feed
Author: Mira Grant
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Zombies

Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: April 2010
Paperback: 608 pages

Stand Alone or series: Book 1 in the Newsflesh Trilogy

Summary: (from Goodreads)
We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.

NOW, twenty years after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives-the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them.
Review:

In the year 2014, two seemingly unrelated events, the curing of a young girl's Leukemia and the creation of a new rhinovirus strain that cured the common cold, led to the creation of the deadliest virus ever created. This new virus, called Kellis Amberlee, had devastating effects on the world as the dead became the undead and humans found themselves somewhere in the middle of the food chain. Those who had weakened immune systems or particular medical histories were the first to reanimate into the undead. As more and more people rose from the dead, the battle to survive became all or nothing.

While it looked like the world was falling apart though, many people were able to find ways to survive. Through strict testing procedures and safety regulations, neighborhoods were taken back and schools reopened. A new way of living emerged and Feed takes place in that new world.

Twenty years later, Georgia and Shaun Mason are both successful bloggers whose lives revolve around the undead. Georgia is a "newsie" and all about reporting the facts, while her brother Shaun is an adrenaline junkie “Irwin.” Their poem writing friend Buffy rounds out their team as their "fictional." When their team get's selected for the story of a lifetime, following Senator Peter Ryman on his run for President, they find themselves fighting for more than just good story. They find themselves fighting for their lives.

Now, I have to say right off the back I was disappointed with this novel. For one, this novel isn't really about zombies at all. If anything, it's about the evils of network news. Yes, I'm serious. Feed is a less horror and more political intrigue. While that isn't what I look for in a zombie story, that wasn't even my main problem with the book. My problem, is how freaking sanctimonious Georgia is.

There came a point in the book when I just couldn't take anymore "the media is evil!" and "we're the only ones who stand up for the truth and everyone else is below us honorable truth tellers who are perfect and above reproach and....tell the truth!" The message came through loud and clear. It didn't need to be repeated every time Georgia opened her mouth. It seemed like Grant wanted too much for us to see Georgia as cool and determined. It only made her abrasive and annoying. I also didn't like how Georgia knew everything. That's right, she won every argument and always had every insight. In the end this made Georgia utterly unlikable to me. And when that happens to a reader, the "tragic endings" don't seem all that tragic. In fact they become far less "tragic" and much more "poetic justice." It also made some of the things that may have made the characters endearing, like Georgia and Shaun's close relationship, just plain creepy.

The biggest plus about this story is the world building though. It's phenomenal. It is Feed's big redeeming factor for me. You can tell Grant thought out the issues surrounding a new zombie-fied world down to the little details. I also love that technology played a big part in the new world. This feels more accurate to me then something like World War Z where computer techs become trash collectors.

Notable Quotes/ Parts:

From Chapter 1:
Our story opens where countless stories have ended in the last twenty-six years: with an idiot—in this case, my brother Shaun—deciding it would be a good idea to go out and poke a zombie with a stick to see what happens. As if we didn’t already know what happens when you mess with a zombie: The zombie turns around and bites you, and you become the thing you poked. This isn’t a surprise. It hasn’t been a surprise for more than twenty years, and if you want to get technical, it wasn’t a surprise then.

When the infected first appeared—heralded by screams that the dead were rising and judgment day was at hand—they behaved just like the horror movies had been telling us for decades that they would behave. The only surprise was that this time, it was really happening.

There was no warning before the outbreaks began. One day, things were normal; the next, people who were supposedly dead were getting up and attacking anything that came into range. This was upsetting for everyone involved, except for the infected, who were past being upset about that sort of thing. The initial shock was followed by running and screaming, which eventually devolved into more infection and attacking, that being the way of things. So what do we have now, in this enlightened age twenty-six years after the Rising? We have idiots prodding zombies with sticks, which brings us full circle to my brother and why he probably won’t live a long and fulfilling life.

“Hey, George, check this out!” he shouted, giving the zombie another poke in the chest with his hockey stick. The zombie gave a low moan, swiping at him ineffectually. It had obviously been in a state of full viral amplification for some time and didn’t have the strength or physical dexterity left to knock the stick out of Shaun’s hands. I’ll give Shaun this much: He knows not to bother the fresh ones at close range. “We’re playing patty-cake!”

“Stop antagonizing the locals and get back on the bike,” I said, glaring from behind my sunglasses. His current buddy might be sick enough to be nearing its second, final death, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t a healthier pack roaming the area. Santa Cruz is zombie territory. You don’t go there unless you’re suicidal, stupid, or both. There are times when even I can’t guess which of those options applies to Shaun.

“Can’t talk right now! I’m busy making friends with the locals!”

“Shaun Phillip Mason, you get back on this bike right now, or I swear to God, I am going to drive away and leave you here.”

Shaun looked around, eyes bright with sudden interest as he planted the end of his hockey stick at the center of the zombie’s chest to keep it at a safe distance. “Really? You’d do that for me? Because ‘My Sister Abandoned Me in Zombie Country Without a Vehicle’ would make a great article.”

“A posthumous one, maybe,” I snapped. “Get back on the goddamn bike!”

“In a minute!” he said, laughing, and turned back toward his moaning friend.

In retrospect, that’s when everything started going wrong.
Verdict:

I really don't get all the love I found for this book on various book blogs. (I feel the same way about World War Z and The Forest of Hands and Teeth as well.) While the world building was great, the dialog was too message like and repetitive. By the end I started skimming large chunks of text and yet I wouldn't miss anything. That's not cool in my book. And as someone who blogs about politics and news herself (though obviously on a much smaller scale), I just found Grant's take on things a bit annoying. It will take a lot more than this to convince me bloggers are the future saviors of the world.

Maybe these issues will be revolved with more likable characters in the next book, but I doubt I'll even give it a chance.

Rating:My first reaction was to rate this as a 4, but I think that's just my dislike of Georgia coming through. I don't think I can give it higher than a 5 though.

Monday, October 25, 2010

3 Major Types of Zombies

How can we have zombie week without a general explanation of the different types of zombies? The answer is we cant! So here is my breakdown of the three major types of zombies. Keep in mind that each film and book has it's own intricate details that would take much too long to break down (though I did find a nice movie comparison chart here). This is just my simple version.

Three major types of zombies:

1. First, you have your zombies that are controlled by Voodoo or some kind of Necromancy. Justine Larbalestier refers to them as "Voudin-inspired zombies" in Zombies vs Unicorns. These are the kind of zombies that you see in White Zombie (1932) and the Anita Blake books.


I walked with a Zombie (1943):



Magic controlled zombies vary. You never know how smart or fast they are going to be so it's best to just avoid them altogether. You never know when demonic possession might just bite you in the ass.

2. Then you have your classic George A Romero zombies. These zombies are the personification of death. Slow and unfeeling, these zombies will stop at nothing to eat your brains. Romero is often mentioned whenever someone talks about zombies because he essentially set up the rules for the modern zombie. Romero's zombies are slow, have little brain activity, run on instinct to feed, and their victims die and are reanimated as zombies.

Night of the Living Dead (1990):



This zombie comes in a myriad of different forms. Some, like Romero's, have little to no explanation of where the zombies originated from. Others, like the book Feed, have a scientific explanation for where zombies originated from. Even though some zombies may have human speed, they are NOT fast. Put it down to none functioning adrenal glands if you want, but either way speed is your best weapon against this mass of undead.

3. The third form of zombie is probably the most controversial - the fast zombie. These are the zombies of 28 Days Later and the book Hater. These zombies are often the result of human stupidity, but not always.

28 Days Later trailer (2002):



Zombies of this ilk are often fast and viscous. Instead of being ruled by the simple need to feed, these zombies are usually more rage inspired. As with all zombies, destroying the brain will usually put these souped up zombies to final rest, but your best bet is to get very far away. Some people (zombie-purists?) do not buy into the fast zombie idea. I'm usually one of these people myself, but in the end a good film is a good film.

I found this video that sums up the evolution of the zombie rather nicely (after I typed this all up of course):



So there you have it. The three major types of zombies.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dead Set on IFC

Dead Set is a "horror drama" created by Charlie Brooker. It was shown originally in 2008 in the UK, but IFC will be airing the show all week long in a lead up to Halloween. There will also be a marathon version on Sunday for those of you who are respectable members of society and have to get up early in the morning.

Here's a description of the show (from IFC):
Britain has been hit by an epic problem. The dead are returning to life and attacking the living. The people they kill get up and kill. And it's spreading like wildfire. Within two days, 80 percent of the population is dead. No one knows how this problem started or how widespread it has become, because there are no news channels anymore.

The entire social structure has collapsed in the space of 48 hours. Tiny groups of survivors are holed up across the country, unaware of each other, besieged inside abandoned houses, abandoned hospitals - abandoned anything. Surrounded by growing hordes of the living dead - mindless eating machines powered by raw instinct - they fight to survive, around the clock.

Few people remain who aren't worried about this living nightmare: the remaining contestants in the reality TV game show, "Big Brother." Cocooned in the safety of the Big Brother house, they're blissfully unaware of the horrific events unfolding in the outside world... until eviction night when the walking dead descend on the studio.

In a cruel reflection of the game show they were cast in, one by one they fall victim - devoured by the hungry, unthinking masses outside. Staying alive requires teamwork - a tricky job when you're a group specifically selected by TV producers to not get along and drive each other crazy.
Here's a trailer:


I have to say I'm pretty excited.

Zombie Makeup

There are a ton of tutorials for zombie makeup, but since petrilude is one of my favorite makeup gurus on youtube, I thought I'd post his version:



Enjoy.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Zombie Week

I have decided that this week is officially Zombie Week here at Sunshine and Bones. Starting tomorrow and ending with the much anticipated premiere of The Walking Dead on AMC, I've decided to put my zombie obsessed mind to some good use. And what better use is there than blogging?

I know a lot of blogs have had zombie weeks so I'm not really breaking any ground, but I hope to add my own sense of the depraved to the mix. You can expect quite a few book reviews, some zombie art, and even some zombie inspired food. My goal is mainly just to have a good time and I hope you'll join along. If you have any interesting zombie finds you'd like to share, feel free to email me or leave a comment.

Let the brain eating commence!

-Photo by wvs

Tights and Stripes (what I wore)

I've been admiring the glorious orange trees around my neighborhood and it's funny how the leaves all decided to drop on the same day. The backyard is now blanketed in autumn's glory and I'm a bit sad fall is so short in Utah (though it is much better than San Diego where autumn is more of a myth than a reality). We're supposed to get our first snow this week so I'm taking every opportunity to wear shorts now. This outfit is actually very similar to the first outfit post I ever did.

Project6
Striped blazer - F21
Sequined cardigan - F21
Black Shirt - Target
Jean shorts - Lane Bryant
Tights - Target
Black boots - ebay

I actually got this black shirt from the maternity section of Target. (I'm a firm believer that there are treasures everywhere.) I also made these shorts from an old pair of jeans that were not flattering in the least. Until I can fulfill my dream of owning over the knee boots, tights will have to do.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Candy Corn Cupcake Stand DIY

This cupcake stand was made using a wood candle stick and a cd. I think it may be one of the most genius things I've seen.


It was made by The Swell Life and you can find directions here. The thing I like about this project is how versatile it is. Don't surprised if you see some of these from me soon.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dakota Fanning in Marie Claire (August 2010)

I love this photo shoot by Tesh for Marie Claire (August 2010). Fanning looks lovely and grown up, but still youthful. She's a perfect example of how you don't need to go into a pole-dancing or head-shaving phase in order to let the world know you're growing up. But then again she's only 16, so maybe we're in for a treat.

I love the combination of different textures and I would rock that second look. I've had my eyes out for a polka-dot material for a while now in fact.

New Music Thurday

I have so many songs backed up for New Music Thursday! I went a while without hearing any attention grabbing music, but it seems that lately I love everything I hear. I plan to limit each post to only five songs though so the page doesn't load too slowly. As always, New Music Thursday is an attempt to keep my goal of listening to some new music alive and kicking. Not all of these bands/artists are new to me, but all of the songs are.

These are the songs I'm diggin this week:

Beat The Devil's Tattoo by BMRC:



Malted Milk by Robert Johnson:



Sixteen Military Wives by The Decemberists:



Rescue You by Ryan Leslie:



Out of The Blue by Julian Casablancas:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Potato Frittata

When I saw this recipe over at The Comfort of Cooking, I just knew I had to give it a try. All it takes is a bit of potato to get me on board and I'd been wanting to try a frittata recipe for a while now. Frittatas are another one of those things I had somehow never eaten. It's probably because I had hated eggs for a lot of years, but now that I'm over that inanity I am all about egg dishes. They're practical and inexpensive and a nice way to avoid eating meat every night (or in my case chicken).

IMG_9201

This dish is really lovely because the potato-to-egg ratio is perfect. I used a cheap food slicer I got at Walmart for ten bucks (greatest ten bucks I could have spent) and used some of those baby gold potatoes. Because of that, I was able to skip peeling the potatoes.

Would I make this again? For sure. (And soon.)

Potato Frittata

Ingredients:

5 Tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 large yellow onion, sliced
3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
7 large eggs
2 Tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
2 Tablespoons minced chives
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
4 strips raw bacon (optional), diced

Directions:

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

1. Heat a medium saute pan over medium high heat and drizzle with 2 Tablespoons of the canola oil. Add the onions and cook until caramelized, about 8 to 10 minutes. Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of water, scraping any brown bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon. Cook until the water evaporates and the onions take on a uniform brown color, about 5 minutes.

2. Transfer the onions to the roasting pan and toss with the raw sliced potatoes. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and the remaining 3 Tablespoons of oil. Toss with your hands. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

3. Set the potatoes aside to cool for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees F. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, herbs and cream together. Season with salt and pepper.

4. (optional) Saute bacon in medium saute pan, about 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Mop up excess grease with a handful of paper towels. Lay cooked bacon on a plate topped with a paper towel.

5. Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium high heat. Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons butter in the skillet, making sure that melted butter greases the side of the cast iron as well. Add the cooked potatoes to the pan. Top with the egg mixture. Cover the skillet with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes more.

Slice and serve directly from the skillet, warm or at room temperature.

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Wordless Wednesday

I took this picture out of the window on my flight home from Las Vegas:

IMG_8042

I actually already shared this picture, but I love it so much I'm sharing it again. It makes me think of escaping into the word.

This wasn't very "wordless" was it? Oh well.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Have a Confession to Make

I don't talk about myself too much here and I realized I have a weird habit of just assuming people know things about me. Do you ever do this? Just me? Anyhoo, my point is I am going to try to remedy this. Even though I'm not really into blogs that are more diary-esque, it seems weird to show you this huge glimpse into my life without you actually knowing what I'm up to or how I'm massively addicted to Dr. Pepper (it's what gets me through the day people).

So here's my confession for the day: I'm a bit of a slob.

Most people would probably try to hide their slovenly ways, but I'm far too lazy for that. (I guess that's another thing I'm admitting as well; I tell the truth because I'm too lazy to lie.) Even though I've tried over the years to actually care about vacuuming, I just don't. My threshold for mess is too high I guess.

Here's a picture of my craft table behind me right now:

IMG_9219
As you can see I have serious stacking issues. My overabundance of books and magazines just gets stacked on top of other precariously stacked books and magazines. I'm also really bad about not putting things away. It's like there needs to be a big mess in order me to feel like I've actually accomplished something when I do clean.

So there you have it. If you ever start to be dazzled by my wit and impeccable taste in cooky home accessories, you know deep down I'm just like any other lazy person who spends their free time watching youtube videos and baking cookies. Not very impressive huh?

Fug Boots

I'm a firm believe that Uggs are inside shoes, but I would rock these:

Copy of Project1

Ah, the woes of being broke. At least I finally got my wallet though. Can't complain too much.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sausage-Fennel Subs

This is the perfect recipe for when you're in a hurry, but want to try something a bit different. I had never tried fennel before this recipe, but the combination of the fennel and the onion is quite lovely. It adds a subtle sweetness to the dish that you can't really put your finger on.

IMG_9208

Fennel (or Anise) is one of the more expensive vegetables so I understand if you want to skip it, but I would give this recipe a go either way. Don't let the mild black licorice description turn you off though. I hate black licorice and yet these subs are super tasty. If you're aren't sure how to prepare fennel (it is kind of crazy looking) you can see a quick tutorial here.

Sausage-Fennel Subs

Ingredients:

Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups vertically sliced onion
1 cup thinly sliced fennel bulb
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
6 ounces chicken and sun-dried tomato sausage, thinly diagonally sliced
4 (2-ounce) submarine rolls or hoagie rolls
1/2 cup tomato-basil pasta sauce
8 (1/2-ounce) slices provolone cheese

Directions:

Preheat broiler.

1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion, fennel, and garlic; sauté for 4 minutes. Add sausage, and sauté for 3 minutes or until sausage is lightly browned and vegetables begin to brown.

2. Arrange rolls, cut sides up, in a single layer on a baking sheet; broil 2 minutes or until toasted. Spoon about 2/3 cup sausage mixture on the bottom half of each roll, and top each with 2 tablespoons sauce. Place 2 cheese slices over sauce. Arrange sandwiches on baking sheet; broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts.

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I'm Not Always As Confident As I Look

Don't we all feel like this sometimes?


I know I sure do. I once read a quote that said the most charming people are hiding how much they need people's approval. This picture made me think of that for some reason. Random I know.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dexter Coasters

Even though I'm not one for nick-knacks, I love cooky stuff for the house. (Though to be honest, I kind of like cooky everything.) I also love Dexter. Put these two things together and you have a set of coasters that make my heart pitter patter.
With a drop of blood from each victim placed between two glass slides, Dexter creates a morbid memento or ''Trophy'' of each kill. These Dexter inspired coasters come packaged in a beautifully-crafted wooden box with golden hardware and a slotted interior to display each coaster.

These clear acrylic coasters feature an iconic 'blood spatter' and have rubberized feet to protect your table. Each coaster is also imprinted with the Dexter logo in red. The storage box has the Dexter logo carved on top and the Showtime logo carved on two sides.

You won't want to hide these out of sight, much less store these behind your air conditioner.

For $34.95 they're aren't ridiculous expensive, but unfortunately that's still out of my price range. (Maybe there's a way to do a DIY version.) You can find them here if you're interested though.

Halloween Party Food

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. Maybe it's because it's only a few days after my birthday, but I just love everything about it. The costumes, the candy, the sense of make believe. Halloween is a holiday where anything can happen and you can be anyone you want. I've always wanted to have a costume party and this year I've finally decided to make that happen. For some reason a lot of people won't wear costumes which makes absolutely no sense to me. This year I'm enforcing a strict "no costume no entry" policy to weed out the party poopers. Luckily most of my friends are good sports and it wasn't very hard to convince them.

Because of this, I've been on the look out for Halloween part food. As always, simplicity and creativity is really what I'm looking for. Here are some of part food ideas that I thought were good:


1. Halloween Bones
2. Claire Robinson's Dark and Spooky
3. Chocolate- Dipped Worm Pretzels
4. Zombies Cupcakes
5. Chocolate Halloween Bark
6. Prosciutto-Wrapped Grissini
7. Bat Wings Recipe
8. Ghosts
9. Rock Candy Jello Shooters with Midori Melon Sour
10. Halloween Popcorn
11. Halloween Cupcakes

I love those bones at the very top. Made out of pretzel rods and mini marshmallows, they are super simple. I also love the idea of using gummy spiders in cocktails and pretzel rods are always easy but well loved. Even though there is nothing spectacular about prosciutto wrapped breadsticks, there is something kind of creepy about them I thought. They would be perfect for a zombie party. The "bat" wings are made out of chicken wings and the ghosts are just chocolate covered strawberries. Brilliant. Besides that, I think the rock candy jello shooters are one of the coolest things I've seen. I don't know if I would go through the effort since they're only made with Midori. While Midori may be delicious it isn't very strong. I was planning on making cupcakes, but that Halloween bark has won me over. I make a peppermint bark for Christmas and people love that stuff.

Follow the links for the recipes if you're interested.