Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

Strange AngelsIt’s Supernatural meets Veronica Mars in Lili St. Crow’s new young adult novel Strange Angels. Straight away our scrappy heroine, Dru Anderson, hears some odd tapping noises at her back door. Surprise! Dad’s been turned into a zombie. Fortunately Dru is channeling bizarre Allison DuBois like psychic abilities and her grandmother and father (before he became reanimated) both schooled her thoroughly in the art of things that go bump in the night. Even so what she has to do in this scenario is every daughter’s worst nightmare.

It goes from bad to worse quickly and unfortunately Dru just can’t catch a break. Her new friend Graves lets her crash in his swinging hidden bachelor pad at the mall but then they get attacked by “wulfen” and Graves is bitten. Thankfully he’s a virgin though so legend has it he wont be turned into a freaky fury fiend.

I’m not entirely sure I understand the difference between “wulfen” and “werewolves” so if someone wants to enlighten me feel free. In the novel vampires are also referred to as “suckers” which feels awfully offensive to me for some reason, but at least the vampires are properly vicious and don’t sparkle.

After some gun wielding, a great escape, and a little research Dru and Graves make contact with a mysterious vampire-not-a-vampire named Christophe, who is appropriately dreamy and well heeled, but is he on their side or just leading them astray? I’ll never tell…

Some parts of this novel felt a bit too much like other popular media in the supernatural category, but it’s well paced for the book to develop into a series. I’m intrigued enough to want to read the next novel, Betrayals, scheduled to be released this Fall (especially since we’re left with a cliffhanger ending) in hopes of unraveling some of the many hanging plot points surrounding Dru’s family and the other mysterious beings who are introduced.

By the way, thanks to that nasty zombie at the beginning of the book, I had three separate zombie nightmares last night. Miss St. Crow I think this means that all in all you did your job.

Watson Wednesday

Don't Be Fooled. I'm EVIL.

I’m not going to lie. I haven’t liked Watson very much this week. Maybe it’s the constant attacking of my hands and feet? Maybe it’s the incessant meowing while I’m trying to cook? Maybe it’s because he belly flopped onto a plate of palak paneer that I stepped away from for two seconds on the dining room table and splattered green goo all over the floor, the upholstered seat of the chair, and himself? Either way all of these things combined have me avoiding him today. I’ve shut myself in the bedroom and I’m not letting him in no matter how many times he shoves his paws under the door. I will not spend the afternoon fending off his little claws from my MacBook screen while I attempt to write. I will not allow him to scale the leg of my jeans like it’s Mount Kilimanjaro. Nor will I let him jump on my back and start chewing my hair maniacally until I pry him off. Today is a timeout for Watson day.

I'm Cute: You Have to Love Me

Fortunately for kitten in a few moments I will inevitably get over my anger at him because he will do something ridiculously cute like fall into a dead sleep flat on his back while playing with Sammy the Lambie. Or I’ll find him sprawled out somewhere looking like the above image. Granted this was taken last week when the temp was hovering around 90 degrees and our central air decided to break, but you get the idea.

I've Got My Eye On You

If Watson had his way he would be locked in a room with both CK and I, all of his toys, and a stockpile of food for the rest of his life. When he’s awake and doing his roaming kitten thing he has serious separation anxiety whenever he notices that either of us has left the area. He always has his eye on us. He even waits outside the door while I shower. He’s also super vocal. He really does sit at my feet while I’m cooking, look up at me with big sad eyes and meows: Meow! Meow! Meow! Which I assume means STOP CUTTING THAT CARROT AND PAY ATTENTION TO ME NOW HUMAN. I’ll try to get a video.

Watson Wednesday

Watson is Wild
Watson likes to party all the time. Party all the time. Party all the time.

Asleep with Lambie
Last time we met Dean Bearchester…well this is Sammy the Lambie.

Watson with Lambie & Bear
Dean and Sammy cuddle with Watson.

Om Nom Lambie

Om Nom Nom Sammy.

Watson the Reader
I am a literary kitty. You like classics or pulp?

Watson the Lounge Lizard

Watson contemplates his tail and the lack of sleeping accomodations.

Watson’s First Bath

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Watson All Wrapped Up

Watson had the distinct pleasure of experiencing his first bath this morning. CK and I suited up in big ugly yellow kitchen gloves and methodically scrubbed and rinsed the little kitten into shiny submission. He was completely dazed and confused when I finally wrapped him up in a big fluffy beach towel.

[flickrvideo]http://www.flickr.com/photos/girlieerin/3536157306/[/flickrvideo]

Then he promptly ignored us for the next half hour while he meticulously licked himself dry.

Watson Ignores Us

Just FYI. Wet kittens are absolutely not cute, nice, or cuddly at all.

Wet & Ugly Watson

An Old Fashioned Wish List

Erin's Birthday Wish List

My mother has already started to send me emails asking what I want for my birthday. Usually I just say, “Oh whatever…” but this year I’m going to regress back to a time when I used to be the Queen of Wish Lists. The best way for me to illustrate this would be for me to have you think way back to a day in the Fall when we were all still watching shows like Family Ties and Jem and the Holograms and the mailman would deliver the gigantic Sears Wish Book. In some ways that day was more exciting than Christmas. I’ve heard tell that many families had to share the Wish Book and each child would circle what he or she wanted with a particular marker or crayon color but I was an only child and that coveted Wish Book was mine all mine.

And I didn’t just circle things I wanted. I made charts complete with quantity, description, size, item, and page number. Yes, I was a control freak even at 8 years of age. So just for old times sake I’m going to provide my family with this cute visual list of things that I would love to get for my quickly approaching 29th birthday. According to the calendar June 3rd is only 21 days away. Yikes! I can’t believe I’m only going to be in my twenties for one more year. How did this happen?! Oh well…on with the list:

1. I’m hoping to spend the evening of my birthday with a few close friends at Cuchi Cuchi.

2. I’ve wanted this French Bull Utensil Set for several years now and it’s almost always out of stock, but via some miracle it’s actually available right now. Obviously it would fit right in with my whole pink kitchen theme.

3. So I shrunk my blue Reading is Sexy shirt and can now only wear it as pajamas because it would be scandalous for me to be seen out in public with it on. I’d love to have the new pink ringer version though, preferably in extra large so that when I forget and dry it again it will still fit around me.

4. When I bought that Julia Child prayer candle a few weeks ago the owner of the Etsy shop assured me that she can make any kind of prayer candle that you want. So what I really really really want is a prayer candle with Ina Garten on it.

5. This write-on mug is just awesome. That is all.

6. I can’t make homemade strawberry jam or chicken stock if I don’t have a proper stock pot (in Caribbean please).

7. The new iPhone comes out in June. My iPhone is now two years old and is practically a Mac antique. This one is all CK. No worries Mom.

8. I’d like to read Michael Ruhlman’s new book Ratio so that I can hopefully start to figure out how to compose some of my own recipes.

9. Zombies. Need I say more?

10. I really need a mani/pedi. If someone were to get me a gift certificate that would be outstanding. I don’t care where I just need to go.

xoxo,
Erin

Ladies Who Lunch

Meghan & Emily

My friend Meghan came over on Friday for lunch. When we used to work together we always wished we were the type of women who A. didn’t have to work and B. got to meet-up for lunch every day of the week without a care in the world. While neither of those scenarios has quite come true it was nice to have a leisurely visit and catch-up.

Emily & Watson

It was even more entertaining to watch her daughter Emily’s infatuation with Watson take hold. Every chance she got Emily eagerly crawled toward the kitten.

Scared Watson

Watson unfortunately didn’t harbor the same amount of affection for her. Typical man… so the closer she got the more freaked out he became.

Emily Charms Watson

But Emily’s curiosity was too strong and she simply couldn’t resist trying to tame the wild beast one last time.

Mean Watson
Then of course Watson emphatically rejected her and made her cry crocodile tears. That’s my kitty…absolutely no manners what-so-ever.

Erin & Emily
Thankfully honorary Auntie Erin was there to make it all better. Obviously I also have to work on Watson’s people skills.

Meet Dean Bearchester

Watson Loves Bear
Bear, or Dean Bearchester, as CK and I refer to him as a sort of homage to Supernatural, has quickly become Watson’s favorite toy. He drags him around all over the house and we often find bear in all sorts of strange places. When Watson falls asleep in his kitten bed I like to tuck him in and set bear in between his little arms. It’s just such an adorable sight.

Dean Bearchester isn’t just a cute fluffy bear though. He’s also the primary “equipment” in Watson’s new maniacal exercise routine. Check out the video below for some of his high flying antics.

Also, in case you missed it, Watson was featured on The Daily Kitten this week. He’s such a prima donna now. It’s all Evian in his water dish and organic free-range chicken at dinner time.

I’m So Proud To Be From Maine Today

Yay Maine!

Dear Maine: Thank you so much for acknowledging the fact that all men and women have the right to marry whomever they wish. I’m so incredibly proud to be from this state today! My gorgeous friend Holly posted a photo of her lovely corgi, Cedar, a few moments ago and I think it completely illustrates all of our happiness at this poltical development to a tee.

Watson’s Crazy Circle

This is Watson’s new toy. It’s appropriately called the Crazy Circle. It’s perfect for insanely active kittens like our little guy who literally plays, plays, plays until he falls over and passes out. Last night he played with his Crazy Circle for so long that he fell asleep with his head resting on the side of it. This is seriously the best $10 we’ve spent on the cat so far. You can see Watson in all his hyper glory in the video above.

Erin’s YA Addiction – The May Edition

3 Willows I loved Ann Brashares’s Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants novels. I credit those particular Young Adult titles with re-introducing me (at the grand old age of 22) to all of the fabulous creativity that can be found in the YA section of the local bookstore and library. Brashare’s most recent release, 3 Willows, is also a tale of friendship. This time between three young girls who live in the same world that we all fell in love with via the trials and tribulations of Lena, Carmen, Bridget, and Tibby. I was very hesitant to read this story initially as the girls are quite young.

The novel begins with them graduating 8th grade and proceeds to document each of their individual journeys during the summer before they enter high school. Polly is the child of a single mom who is often absent and distant and spends the summer trying desperately to mold her body into model material. Jo’s parents have succumbed to a trial separation after the death of her older brother proves to be too much of a strain on the family. Jo finds refuge at the family beach house, tries to fit in with the older girls she works with at a local restaurant, and has an eye opening fling with a manipulative boy. Straight-A student, Ama, is shocked to discover that her summer academic camp has assigned her to trudge around in the wilderness and live in a tent for weeks and weeks. Her hair products are confiscated when she gets off the plane and you honestly wonder how she’ll make it through days of hiking, blisters, and the end of term cliff repelling exercise.

At the beginning of the summer the young girls have begun to drift apart, but as the months pass each begins to think back to the true root of their friendship. A friendship that is quite literally grounded by the 3 willow tree saplings that the girls grew for a school project and planted in a nearby wooded area. When one of the friends faces a personal crisis Jo, Ama, and Polly’s bond becomes stronger than ever as they surround their friend with the support she so desperately needs. Fans of the Traveling Pants novels will be delighted to meet-up with familar faces from the original books including Tibby’s family, her boyfriend Brian, and even Lena’s snotty sister Effie. Despite the age of the characters I very much enjoyed the story and look forward to upcoming novels. It will be interesting to see how Brashares handles their aging and the requisite issues that their entrance into high school will undoubtedly introduce.

WintergirlsWintergirls is quite simply a painful book. Absolutely not for the faint of heart, this gut wrenching novel explores Lia’s downward spiral into the depths of advanced anorexia. Stemming from a reckless bet with her friend Cassie, Lia makes a dangerous oath.

I took the knife out of my pocket and cut my palm, just a little. “I swear to be the skinniest girl in school, skinner than you.”
Cassie’s eyes got big as the blood pooled in my hand. She grabbed the knife and slashed her palm. “I bet I’ll be skinnier than you.”
“No, don’t make it a bet. Let’s be skinniest together.”
“Okay, but I’ll be skinner.”

Over the next few years each falls into a dangerous cycle of restricting and purging until their friendship completely falls apart. Then one night Cassie calls Lia’s cell thirty-three times. Lia never answers and Cassie is found dead in a local hotel room. What follows is an in depth look inside the mind of a desperate teenager riddled with guilt whose only coping method is to keep food as far away from her as possible. When Cassie’s “ghost” starts appearing to Lia and carrying on very maliciously toned conversations with our suffering heroine your heart will just break.

Laurie Halse Anderson captures the hopelessness, fear, and pain of Lia’s daily struggle beautifully. As a reader I found myself becoming wrapped up along with Lia’s family in the daily hope that she would please just drink the glass of proffered orange juice, or eat a spoonful of cereal, but in the end anorexia is never just about food. It’s about finding control in chaos and Lia’s story and how her life unfolds in the aftermath of Cassie’s death is handled with profound and eyeopening care. Even though this book deals with an extremely dark subject matter I feel that Wintergirls is too powerful of an experience to be missed. You’d be surprised what you can personally uncover when you strive to take a brief step out of your literary comfort zone.

Tender MorselsWhen I began reading Tender Morsels my initial reaction was that I absolutely didn’t think this book should be considered a young adult novel. Rape and incest pop up in the first few pages and the tone is extremely dark and lurid, but after I came down from my momentary puritanical high horse (and let’s face it, I read every trashy V.C. Andrews novel cover to cover by the age of 12 so it was time to give up the hypocrisy) I became completely engrossed in this gorgeous and magical tale of Liga and her two daughters, Branza and Urdda.

Margo Lanagan’s whimsical retelling of the traditional fairy tale of Snow White and Rose Red bares many subtle and some not so subtle resemblance to the classic version we are familiar with. There is of course a bear, a bush, and a wicked dwarf, but there is also a strong undercurrent of deep magic that protects Liga and her little family from the evils of the past for many many years.  But then curious and headstrong Urdda dares to step out into the real world where danger, evil, and adventure lurk in the shadows. Once separated from her mother and sister will she ever be reunited with them again?

I loved this novel for its realism and roughness as well as the fact that it didn’t shy away from the dirt, grime, and crime of the world. It fundamentally strives to illustrate how hiding from life and living a watered down and safe existence limits one’s chances for happiness much more so than it protects. Margo Lanagan is a true storyteller in the finest sense of the word. You won’t soon forget the worlds and characters she weaves in Tender Morsels.