Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – a book trailer

Just recently, thanks to Twitter, I discovered the concept of book trailers.  If you think about it, the idea of book trailers is pretty incongruous: using video trailers  that you watch to promote books that you read.  It’s like MTV for the literati.  But they are really ubiquitous anymore.   And like videos for music, sometimes, they turn out to be only marginally related to what the books they are promoting are about.  But a lot of them of really fun to watch and I am finding them somewhat addictive.

So, I thought I would share the trailer for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith.  This was the first in the series of literary mash-ups that are popular right now.  And it is truly amazing how well Grahame-Smith nailed  Jane Austen’s style and voice in writing this book.  It was a fun read and this trailer really captures that essence.

Three Days to Dead: A Review

Three Days to Dead

It was one of those strange things:  I saw this ad for Kelly Meding’s Three Days to Dead and I swear my spidey-sense started tingling. I just knew that this book was going to be great and that she was going to be an author who was really going to go places.  Then I read the first chapter online and was really hooked.  Waiting the three months until the book actually came out was agonizing!

But, boy, was I right!  Three Days to Dead is one of those rare debut novels where the author’s tremendous talent shines through from the very beginning. In this novel, you find everything that a reader looks for in an urban fantasy.   Great characters?  Check.  Excellent story telling?  Check.  Superior world-building?  Check.  Non-stop action?  Check.

Triad Hunter Evangeline “Evy” Stone wakes up in someone else’s body.  She has no idea how she got there.  And she only has three days to find out before she dies.  Again.  So begins this riveting tale of conspiracy and betrayal where the balance of power depends on Evy’s ability to remember how she died and discover how she was resurrected. 

Personally, I love the storytelling device of one character in another person’s body. Combined with the Evangeline’s memory loss, it allows for interesting reading.  Things that might normally be viewed as insignificant  take on a sense of urgency and importance as we try to understand Evy’s character, the people around her  and the events that happened to her.  And author Kelly Meding does a fantastic job of making us care about both Evangeline and Chalice. 

The supporting cast of characters is first rate and includes every time of beastie you would want in an urban fantasy, including trolls, gremlins, fairies, vampires and goblins. Kelly’s writing style is a joy to read and if you like urban fantasy that is smart, funny, thrilling  and fast-paced, I highly recommend this novel. 

A big plus for me were the two short stories set in the Dreg City world that were posted on Suvudu’s website just before the release of the novel.  The Hoarders offered a great opportunity to get to know Evy “in her own skin,” as it were, before we meet her in Chalice’s body.  The second story, Pride Before Fall, really helped to establish the politics of the world Evy lives (and died) in. Reading these stories before I read Three Days to Dead was extremely helpful.  Kelly Meding has also written a missing scene from 3D2D that you can find here on her website

The sequel, As Lie the Dead,  is due out in the summer of 2010.  Three Days to Dead is also available in a Kindle edition.

You can learn more about Kelly Meding (and her cat) at her blog: http://chaostitan.blogspot.com/  and her website:  http://kellymeding.com/.  You can also follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

UndeadintheHead.com interviews zombie author David Moody

Okay zombie lovers, there is a great interview with David  Moody, author of the Autumn series of zombie books on UndeadintheHead.com.    The interview is full of interesting stuff, including tasty tidbits on the re-release of the Autumn series (unfortunately, it is currently out of print), The Autumnmovie as well as info on his book Hater, its sequel Dog Blood and more!

I have always thought that David Moody has never received enough credit for his contribution to the zombie genre.  Although I had been a fan of zombie movies since Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead, Autumn was one of the first zombie books that I read.  The book was instrumental in convincing me that zombies weren’t just a subject for film.  

Interviewer Lyle Perez does a great job with the article.  And while you’re reading the Moody piece, check out the book reviews and other interviews on UndeadintheHead.  It’s good stuff!

Alice Unchained: An argument for a stronger public domain

The Mad Hatter's

There is a great article on Techdirt.com by Mike Masnick which talks about how the remakes of Alice in Wonderland illustrate the good that can come out of material being in the public domain. He very clearly makes the point that endeavors based on public domain material can succeed financially, and, that in fact, there is an artistic freedom to the projects that might not exist if the source material were still under copyright.

While Masnick’s argument makes the point that public domain material can still make money, the article also captures the essence of what the public domain is supposed to be about:  work entering the collective culture of our society and becoming the building blocks for other works of art.  And the fact that a high profile public domain work is so successful today makes it even sadder that this year, absolutely nothing enters the public domain in the United States.    

That fact has serious consequences for the future.  Think about it for a moment – these great versions of Alice in Wonderland might not even exist if not for the public domain.  My husband’s last jazz CD,   Tidings of Comfort and Joy: A Jazz Piano Trio Christmas, was completly based on public domain songs.  If the original material were not in the public domain so that Jim could freely write his own arrangements of these classics, it is questionable whether the CD would have ever been made.  So projects like these cannot exist without a wealth of public domain material for artists to draw upon. 

Because of the strong lobbying of congress by studios and corporations to further extend the term of copyright protection, the public domain is indeed shrinking.  For an interesting (and prophetic) look at how the American people’s interests are not being represented, I highly recommend law professor Jessica Litman’s book Digital Copyright.  The book is very readable for a lay person and offers a shockingly honest look at the workings of copyright law in the United States.  Like me, you may be left wondering exactly who represents the interests of the people.

To learn more about the public domain, see  The Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law School.

Part 1: An Brief Overview of an E-book reader

March 7 to March 13 is Read an e-book week. For more information about the event, including notices of free and discounted e-books, visit http://ebookweek.com/

What is an e-book reader?  Also called an e-reader, it is a device specifically designed for reading electronic or digital books. These readers have screens made out of e-ink, or electronic paper.  These devices are not backlit like a computer, so it is possible to read in bright sunlight, but a light is required for reading in the dark.  Since the devices are not backlit, they have a long battery life, especially when compared to PDAs and cell phones.

Some of these devices are wireless such as the Kindle and the Nook, and can download content directly into the device.  These e-readers are tied to a particular store or website for wireless purchases. Others require a computer to download books from the Internet and use a USB cable to load content onto the e-book reader.

Each brand of e-reader also has its own proprietary format for encoding the books.  This means that books encoded for one reader are not be able to be read  on another brand of reader.  Some readers can read Adobe PDF files and there is some movement towards the standardizing formats. The EPUB format seems to be evolving as a standard, although it is not yet implemented across the board for e-readers.

Content for the devices varies from reader to reader.  Beside books and short stories, there are also blogs, magazines and newspapers available for subscription and purchase on e-readers.

So what are the benefits of an e-reader? Probably the number one reason that people say they buy an e-reader is for the convenience.  One e-reader can hold a large number of books, which makes it great for traveling. No huge stack of books to lug around.  No leaving a book at the hotel or the airport terminal.  Some of these devices can hold up to 1500 books.

The ability to be able to purchase books wirelessly from almost anywhere is a great feature, especially if you travel at lot.  A new book can be purchased and downloaded in a matter of minutes.  I have downloaded books while sitting in the doctors office or at the airport terminal.

The ability to change font sizes is a great bonus for those with vision problems.  The Kindle also has a text-to-speech features which allows the device to actually read a book aloud to you. This feature does not work for all books and must be enabled by publishers in order to function.

Some of these devices also have limited capabilities for other functions.  The Kindle, for example, also contains a rudimentary web browser and can play MP3 files.

Here’s a great video showing how the software for the Kindle works:

The number of e-book readers is really exploding right now, with new readers entering the market at a astonishing pace. Prices for the devices, however, still tend to be somewhat high.

Anyone have questions about owning an e-reader?

In Part 2: A look at content, formats and accessories

The Internet Cookbook: Spinach and Tomato Orzo

This spinach and tomato orzo dish from Angie of the Southern Grace Gourmet blog has turned into one of the staple dishes that I make at least once or twice a month. It has a rich creamy taste that is absolutely scrumptious!  I add cooked shrimp and Parmesan cheese to transform it from a side dish to a main course.  Serve it with bread and salad and it is a great meal. You can even substitute whole wheat orzo for the regular pasta and the dish turns out great.

Angie has some great recipes on the Southern Grace Gourmet blog and I recommend taking a look, especially if you love southern cooking. You can also follow her updates on Facebook and Twitter.

Read an E-book Week

Kindle E-book Reader

Kindle E-book Reader

March 7th through March 13th, 2010 is Read an E-book Week.  You can find out more about the week-long event at http://ebookweek.com/.  The site offers information on ways to read an e-book (very helpful if you don’t own a Kindle or other e-book reader) as well as news on many e-books that have deeply discounted in honor of the event.  There is also a Twitter account set up with news about e-book specials.

To help celebrate, this week I will be posting some entries regarding e-books and e-readers.  The theme of the posts will be to explain the attraction of e-reading for those who haven’t experienced it. 

As anyone who spends any time around me knows, I am a passionate advocate for e-readers.  I take my Kindle everywhere with me, and I find that most people who see me with it have never seen one before.  Hopefully, my posts will educate and explain a bit about why people buy e-readers, their advantages and disadvantages and the wide range of material available for the readers.

The War of the MP3 downloads

Techflash’s Eric Engleman just noted on his Amazon Blog that Apple is begining to push back against Amazon’s MP3 Daily Deals.  It seems that iTunes is trying to pressure labels to stay away.

I would hate to see Amazon lose this battle.  The Daily MP3 Deals of the Day are generally great values and I myself purchase quite a few of them. Most of the people I know seem to prefer the Amazon MP3s to iTunes.

Hmm. Do you think this means we can get What’s This? as a Deal of the Day?

The Internet Cookbook: Chris’ Bay Area Burgers

I love a good burger and frequently add various seasonings when cooking them that give a unique and individual taste.  This recipe makes one of the best burgers I have ever eaten.  The addition of olive oil, garlic and  basil gives these burgers a lot of flavor.  I added onions to the mix and served it topped with slices of mozzarella cheese on freshly baked ciabatta bread.  It made for a divine Italian inspired sandwich.