Tag Archives: Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Author: Holly Blackthe coldest girl in coldtown

My rating: 4 of 5

Tana lives in a world fascinated by death. Vampirism has seen an unprecedented spread across the nations, like some terrible plague. But mostly, anymore, it’s a plague that is contained, locked away in “Coldtowns” where it won’t touch people’s normal lives. Children watch TV shows broadcast from within these Coldtowns and see a life portrayed as glamorous . . . and even though it means death, they think they want it. Not Tana though. She’s seen what it’s like to be turned first-hand, and she wants no part of it. But when a normal high-school party turns into a tragedy, she finds herself dragged straight to the Coldtown she wanted to avoid, protecting her ex-boyfriend Aiden from himself and helping a vampire boy, Gavriel, against her better judgment. But no matter how deep she is dragged, Tana is determined to do whatever it takes to go home.

Having just recently complained about the excess of vampire stories in contemporary literature, I find myself in the awkward position of having read and enjoyed one. To be fair, I didn’t realize The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was a vampire story until after I started reading, and by then I was too into the story to stop. Plus, Holly Black’s a great author, so it was worth at least giving it a try. I did appreciate that, while it is a vampire story, the setting feels almost more zombie/post-apocalyptic. The whole socio-economic setup, as well as the actual dynamics of how vampirism works were well developed and original in this book, making it definitely more than your typical “girl meets vampire” story, although there ends up being some of that as well (you have been warned). The writing style and story development worked quite nicely as well, although I found it awkward that the plot mostly focused on present-tense Tana but also occasionally drifted to other people and other times. I would have preferred sticking to just one, or maybe having a few consistent points of view that are distinctly separated and labelled. Another thing that I found . . . uncomfortable about this book was the excessive emphasis on the topic of death–both in the story and in quotations at the chapter heads lauding death in various aspects. I know the story is dark anyhow, but maybe it pushes the topic a bit far. Or maybe that’s just me. Just, if you struggle with this topic, exercise caution about reading this book, that’s all. I really enjoyed the character development, especially in Tana. She’s not your typical heroine, neither is she totally pure and idealized, but she’s willing to push against the flow, find the truth in the midst of the glamour, and do what is necessary even if it’s not pretty. I think that if you enjoy YA paranormal stories with a darker tinge, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown might be an enjoyable story for you. I enjoyed it in spite of myself.

 

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Half-Minute Horrors

Editor: Susan Rich

Do you love the sort of short, startling stories that are best told late at night around a campfire? Or maybe you’re the sort that doesn’t really think it’s possible for a story to be properly scary in only a page or two, but you’d like to see them try. Regardless, this collection of one- to two-page short stories is sure to horrify–and possibly change your outlook on closets, lasagna, and strawberry bubble bath forever!

Half-Minute Horrors was a lucky find at a used bookstore for me–I’ve never seen it anywhere else. This collection features (extremely) short stories (and a few comics) by some of today’s leading authors and artists. The variety is impressive, yet they all prey on our deepest fears, utilizing surprise, disgust, and the ever-useful twist to create stories that are sure to leave the reader, well, horrified. Yet even while being certifiably creepy, these stories are honestly appropriate even for elementary-age children–as long as they don’t get freaked out too easily or have nightmares. I definitely enjoyed this collection, and would recommend Half-Minute Horrors to anyone who likes scary stories–especially if you don’t have much time to enjoy them.

Featured Authors/Illustrators: Lemony Snicket, Jerry Spinelli, Kenneth Oppel, Richard Sala, Erin Hunter, James Patterson, Sonya Sones, Tom Genrich, Michèle Perry, Angela Johnson, Jon Klassen, Arthur Slade, M. T. Anderson, Yvonne Prinz, M. E. Kerr, Adam Rex, Dean Lorey, Sarah Weeks, Gloria Whelan, Holly Black, Faye Kellerman, Lisa Brown, Pseudonymous Bosch, Nadia Aguiar, Sienna Mercer, Jack Gantos, Stephen Marche, Brad Meltzer, Lane Smith, Carol Gorman, David Rich, Jenny Nimmo, Margaret Atwood, Mariko Tamaki, Brian Selznick, Francine Prose, Ayelet Waldman, R. L. Stine, Adele Griffin, Aliza Kellerman, Mark Crilley, Allan Stratton, Sarah L. Thomson, Katherine Applegate, Avi, Gail Carson Levine, David Stahler Jr., Carson Ellis, Tui T. Sutherland, Abi Slone, Joseph Delaney, Alan Gratz, Brett Helquist, Josh Greenhut, Neil Gaiman, Lesley Livingston, Jon Scieszka, Vladimir Radunsky, Alison McGhee, Daniel Ehrenhaft, Melissa Marr, Chris Raschka, Stacey Godenir, Dan Gutman, Alice Kuipers, Frank Viva, Libba Bray, Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Lethem, Michael Connelly, Lauren Myracle, Barry Yourgrau, Aaron Renier, Gregory Maguire

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Geektastic

Editors: Holly Black & Cecil Castellucci

Contributing Authors & Illustrators: M. T. Anderson, Holly Black, Libba Bray, Cecil Castellucci, Cassandra Clare, John Green, Hope Larson, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Barry Lyga, Tracy Lynn, Wendy Mass, Garth Nix, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Greg Leitich Smith, Scott Westerfeld, Lisa Yee, & Sara Zarr

Admit it: you’ve always wanted to know what that super-cute, smart-talking avatar online is actually like in real life–would you actually consider meeting up to see? Or have you ever come back from a convention with a new boyfriend you can’t ever admit to your clan? Had a huge argument about whether a favorite character is actually chaotic good or chaotic neutral? Or maybe you’re the type who finds your truest self in the secret identity you’ve built for LARPing. Hey, maybe you’re the poor cheerleader who’s trying to figure out what all this geeky weirdness is all about. Whatever.

Geektastic. I was drawn by the title, and the pixellated superhero avatar on the spine cinched the deal. And I was absolutely not disappointed by this collection of eccentric short stories that feature, well, the more unusually passionate side of life. Or something. I admit to being something of a geek (well, maybe more than something . . . ), and I’m assuming most of my readers are (or why on earth are you reading my blog?!)–and for a geeky audience, this collection is perfect. Regardless of what sort of geek you are (and let’s face it, there are a million variations), there’s likely something here for you . . . and maybe something to help you understand other varieties of geeks a little better as well. If you are the non-geeky cheerleader . . . you might do better to ask your local population for the crash course, if only because this book is a pretty big plunge all at once. But really, Geektastic is an amazing collection by great authors about some super-fun topics (just do be warned of sex, alcohol, etc.)–definitely recommended!

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Zombies vs. Unicorns

zombies vs unicornsTeam Zombie Editor: Justine Larbalestier/Team Unicorn Editor: Holly Black

My rating: 3.5 of 5

One of the great, longstanding arguments of this century is which is better: zombies or unicorns? Okay, maybe not, but it’s a longstanding debate between authors Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black. To help their readers decide once and for all, they’ve assembled an outstanding group of young adult fantasy/science fiction writers to tell the stories of these creatures.

This is quite a broad collection–the stories range from killer unicorns that eat people to zombie romances, and everything in between. It’s fascinating to see how many different ideas people have for what is, supposedly, the same creature. Overall, Zombies vs. Unicorns is an intriguing and enjoyable collection of stories, although it’s definitely geared to a modern young-adult audience and, as such, contains more sex, drugs, etc. that I really care for personally. Still, if you’re interested in knowing for sure which fantastic creature is better, Zombies vs. Unicorns would certainly be the recommended way to decide.

Team Zombie Authors: Libba Bray, Alayda Dawn Johnson, Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, Scott Westerfeld, Carrie Ryan/Team Unicorn Authors: Kathleen Duey, Meg Cabot, Garth Nix, Margo Lanagan, Naomi Novik, Diana Peterfreund

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