Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"Waiting On" Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

The Casual Vacancy
By: J.K. Rowling
Publication Date: September 27, 2012

Description from Goodreads:
When Barry Fairweather dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty fa├žade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

From Me:
I know this is probably on ever reader's to-read list, but I didn't realize it was coming out so soon! Sure, it's over a month away, but I honestly thought it'd be another 6 months to a year. Don't know why I thought that, but I've really excited that it's coming!

Monday, August 6, 2012

It's Monday: What are you reading?

It's Monday: What are you reading? is a weekly meme from Book Journey.

I'm currently reading:

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry. My fellow-librarian-friend has been bugging me to read this book for months and I'm finally getting it done. I'm about a third of the way through it and it's really good so far. Unlike most zombie movies, this book looks at what zombies used to be - people - and the notion of dignity in death, despite the fact that they're dangerous and no longer sentient beings.

What I recently finished:

Croaked by Gina Damico (4 out of 5 stars) - see my full review below.
Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry (2 out of 5 stars) - see my full review below.
Ouran High School Host Club (Manga series books 1-18) by Bisco Hatori (5 out of 5 stars) - see my full review below.

What I'll read next:

I was recently contacted by Laurianne Uy to read and review her manga/graphic novel Polterguys. It has a sort of Ouran feel to it - according to Laur - so I'm excited to give it a shot!

Book Review: Croak

Croak (Croak #1)
by Gina Damico
(4 out of 5 stars)

“Life isn't fair. Why should death be any different?”
"'And what...did you mean when you said you're going to teach me how to Kill people?'
He snickered. 'You didn't really think you were going to spend the whole summer milking cows, did you?'"
Description from Goodreads:
Fed up with her wild behavior, sixteen-year-old Lex's parents ship her off to upstate New York to live with her Uncle Mort for the summer, hoping that a few months of dirty farm work will whip her back into shape. But Uncle Mort's true occupation is much dirtier than shoveling manure. He's a Grim Reaper. And he's going to teach Lex the family business. She quickly assimilates into the peculiar world of Croak, a town populated by reapers who deliver souls from this life to the next. But Lex can't stop her desire for justice--or is it vengeance?--whenever she encounters a murder victim, craving to stop the attackers before they can strike again. Will she ditch Croak and go rogue with her reaper skills?

From me:
Girl with anger-management issues becomes a grim reaper. That's the story in one sentence and it does a pretty good job of encapsulating the humor, snark, and action that happens in the story. Lex was a perfect kid, until she turned 14, and then she would erupt into rages that even she couldn't explain. In a last ditch effort to help their daughter, Lex's parents send her off to her Uncle Mort's farm. Lex thinks she's going to spend the summer milking cows and feeding chickens and other farm-type tasks, much to her dismay (she's not only a city-girl, she's a New York City-girl). But when she gets off the bus in the middle of nowhere and is approached by a guy in black leather, with skeletal hands, and riding on a motorcycle - claiming to be her uncle - she doesn't believe it. And that's only the first of the surprises.

Lex is taken to the small town of Croak, which turns out to be entirely populated by grim reapers. Their job is to release the souls of those that have just died to enable them to move on. Lex is a Killer - she touches the body to release the soul - and every Killer has a partner who is a Culler - who grabs the soul and takes it back to Croak to be released into an afterlife. As the story goes on, Lex's rage diminishes, except when she realizes that she can do nothing to stop the murderers who necessitate some of Lex's Kills.

This book was both fun, exciting, and at times heartbreaking. Damico has created an interesting take on an ancient idea - that of the grim reaper. Here, her reapers start young, and the sign that they're reapers is the strange and sudden rage they all develop in their teens. It's a quick read, definitely a page-turner. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who likes the paranormal or urban fantasy genres or anyone who likes their stories with a side of snark.

If you're still not convinced, check out this awesome book trailer!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Book Review: The Peculiars

The Peculiars
By Maureen Doyle McQuerry
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Maybe it was only goblin women who were restless and wanted to see the world. She didn't know.”
Description from Goodreads:
This dark and thrilling adventure, with an unforgettable heroine, will captivate fans of steampunk, fantasy, and romance. On her 18th birthday, Lena Mattacascar decides to search for her father, who disappeared into the northern wilderness of Scree when Lena was young. Scree is inhabited by Peculiars, people whose unusual characteristics make them unacceptable to modern society. Lena wonders if her father is the source of her own extraordinary characteristics and if she, too, is Peculiar. On the train she meets a young librarian, Jimson Quiggley, who is traveling to a town on the edge of Scree to work in the home and library of the inventor Mr. Beasley. The train is stopped by men being chased by the handsome young marshal Thomas Saltre. When Saltre learns who Lena’s father is, he convinces her to spy on Mr. Beasley and the strange folk who disappear into his home, Zephyr House. A daring escape in an aerocopter leads Lena into the wilds of Scree to confront her deepest fears.

My Review:
I had such high hopes for this book. I really like the steampunk genre, which this fits into, and the cover art was pretty great. However, I didn't get into the story. The main character, Lena, thinks she's a Peculiar. Her father was rumored to be a goblin, though most people in the city didn't really believe in that sort of thing. Lena is sure she is, though, because she has super long hands and feet, which both have a third joint. Lena has been told all her life by her grandmother that goblins are no good and implying that Lena has the same wild nature as her father (even though she's actually pretty meek and compliant). So Lena is never sure if her urges to see the world and find her father are normal or if they're part of her wild side.

Which would have been fine...except she's so whiny about it! And despite the fact that she's the heroine and you're supposed to like her, she did so many stupid things and acted so pathetically that I really couldn't stand her.

My other issue with this story is that the author was too heavy-handed with any element related to her brilliant inventor character - basically, he's so smart that he's figured out medicine, mechanics, etc, before their real 20th century inventors, and the same goes for the steampunk elements. I think it goes back to the first rule of writing: show, don't tell. And McQuerry did an awful lot of telling. I really don't know how to explain it any better than that, but suffice it to say, it took me out of the story and caused me to roll my eyes several times.

All that being said, this was an easy and quick read, and if you're into steampunk or fairy stories it may be worth it to give it a shot.

P.S. The character on the cover is not Lena. Lena has long hands and feet, not wings. The winged girl is a minor character who isn't in the story too much.