Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Steampunk

After listening to the amazingly well done audiobook of Larklight by Phillip Reeve, and then speeding through the hardback of its sequel, Starcross, I've been in a very British and Steampunk-y mood. So I share a delightfully timely interview with Lev A.C. Rosen, author of All Men of Genius (on the TBR list) about what Steampunk is to him.

"Steampunk elements have crept into many facets of culture, including fashion, art, popular television, and even books that weren't written by me. I think its appeal can be attributed to the aesthetic of the machine. The idea that today, with tiny microchips powering everything, it's difficult to get a grasp on how things work, whereas if you see a giant machine with moving parts, you can quite literally see how they work, and that makes the technology more human."

 Full article here at the Shelfari blog - it's a great read!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Review: Misfit

Title: Misfit
Author: Jon Skovron
Publisher: Amulet Books (August 1, 2011)
Source: library
Rating: 7/10

It can be hard to make friends when you're constantly moving. It's even harder when you're a half-demon with an ex-monk for a father. Jael Thompson has known her mother was a demon since she was 8, and now that she's turned 16, she's finally getting more information from her taciturn father. Of course, with knowledge comes danger - and a giant fish-monster uncle. Of course.

This book was quite fun to read, mostly. It was really well paced and pretty funny at times. I liked Jael a lot - she was easy to relate to and I loved the believable way she dealt with her issues. Her love interest, Rob - oh man, he is so great! I love that he is smart and spiritual (ish) all in his own way - there are just not enough guys like that in books. And he isn't dark and mysterious or brooding - such a relief! The rest of the cast is good, although her friend Britt is kind of a weak spot for me. Even though Jael's dad had a lot of issues and was hardly winning any Parent-of-the-Year awards, the flashbacks help you understand why he acts the way he does. And while I don't want to spoil too much, let me say that my love for her Uncle Dagon far surpassed the love for any previous fish-monster bakers I've loved.

This was a very conflicted read for me, though, which had me waffling between a 6 and a 7 rating for quite a while. The plot was definitely fun and enjoyable. Since I am not a religious person at all, I was not offended by the book's central concept, which was that the church has the completely wrong idea about hell and demons entirely, but I do have a feeling that it would be a bit more of a concern for some people I know. Then again, I live in a fairly religious area, so I could just be more sensitive to it. Also, I was raised Catholic and while most of the super-religious people I know in my current area are more of the Baptist persuasion, I think Catholics would be a bit put off as well. Makes it a little tricky to recommend.

Also, there are a couple scenes near the end that were... well, kind of brutal and violent in a way that I was not expecting or prepared for. Obviously we are dealing with demons, here, and Jael's mother was definitely shown to be not the norm. I never expected a Duke of Hell to be a nice person, but... *shiver* I had a hard time reading for a little while there. I was out at the public desk and the wincing faces were probably putting off patrons.

So. I finally landed on a 7 rating, because I did enjoy the plot and characters and pace. But there is a slight addendum to my recommendation - not for the religiously delicate, or faint of heart.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Snapshot Sunday 1/8

I started this li'l ol' blog back when I was hugely pregnant and desperate for distractions from that fact. It is a constant source of amazement to me, the immense and ridiculous changes that children go through in their first year. That little girl whose looming birth led me to start posting is now a walking, talking(ish), adorable terror - just look at that grin!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Follow Friday 1/6

Go count the number of unread books sitting on your shelf. How many?

Just one! And that fact is strange, really. I have a weird habit of almost never buying books, which I know sounds strange. I only buy books that I've read, usually, because otherwise how will you know if you like them enough to want to keep them? If is book is on my shelf, you will know I like it. The one book I have at home right now is a book in a series that I've decided I want all of, but I haven't gotten to read it yet. And of course, I haven't gotten to read it because I work at a LIBRARY, so really my TBR pile is in the thousands and I visit it several times a week. :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Review: Putting Makeup on Dead People

Title: Putting Makeup on Dead People
Author: Jen Violi
Publisher: Hyperion Books CH (May 24, 2011)
Source: library
Rating: 7/10

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I picked this book up. Ever since an Freshman lit class in college where we read an essay about the embalming process, I've been pretty sure I'd like to be cremated, thankyouverymuch. And the summary is, like summaries tend to be, a bit on the cheesy side. "finds life in an unexpected place: a coffin." Seriously, blurb writers?
But what this book is really about, is finding out who you are. The embalming parts are just incidental. Donna Parisi is floating through life, not making any waves and just biding time until she graduates. She's been accepted to a public university and even though she has no idea what she'll be doing there, she plans to go. But then a sad twist of fate puts Donna at a classmate's funeral in the same place they'd held her father's, and after a friendly encounter with one of the morticians, she starts to wonder... what if this is what she's meant to do?

I loved this premise. It really got me thinking, which is always appreciated. Since I am old as the hills, I also got hit with a lot more sympathy for Donna's mom than is expected - yes, Donna was approaching this thoughtfully, but... it would still be hard to accept that your daughter didn't want to go to a "normal" college and was going to deal with dead bodies instead. 

Donna is smart and sensitive, refreshingly real and kind of oblivious sometimes when it comes to dating. Watching her expand her horizons is a pleasure, and while the romance is pretty low-key, it also seemed realistic for high school.

This was a really sweet and charming contemporary YA that takes a look at becoming who you are meant to be. I loved Donna Parisi and think Jen Violi's debut was a great way to toast the end of 2011.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

JFic Review: Small Persons With Wings

Title: Small Persons With Wings
Author: Ellen Booraem
Publisher: Dial (Jan 20, 2011)
Source: library
Rating: 6/10

Summary: Ever since she was teased for believing in fairies, Mellie has adopted a strictly scientific and logical approach to life. But when her parents inherit her grandfather's inn, she learns that for generations, her family members have been fairy guardians. The fairies exchanged some of their powers for this protection but now they want their magic back. An evil temptress in disguise wants the magic too, and before she knows it, Mellie is turned into a frog, her grandfather is discovered alive, and her parents are trapped in an evil spell that only lets them see the truth (which can be awfully brutal). Thank goodness for Timmo - the cute boy next door - and Durindana, a fairy outcast, who help Mellie save the day and encourage her to loosen up her views on family, fairies, and friendship.

This is a hilarious, irreverent, and highly sarcastic take on fairies - who, by the way, just
hate to be called fairies.

What a cute, fun take on fairies! Mellie is kind of prickly and untrusting to start our story - realizing that your parents were lying when they said that your fairy friend was imaginary can make a girl grumpy. She is loyal and hardworking, and does her best to deal with her flighty parents and rude grandfather, as well as a whole passel of rather testy Small Persons with Wings. The plot gets a bit mired in places, but on the whole I enjoyed this fluffy contemporary fantasy.

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 Blog Philosophy

For this year, I'm switching things up a bit. While I love the book-blogging community, I totally fell down on the job keeping up my blog last year. And I wasn't sure why, since I clearly was still reading (228 books all told), and I definitely still had opinions out the wazoo.

After much deliberation, I decided that I felt stifled. Having a blog with such a narrow focus just wasn't my thing. Between the memes and the reviews, I felt that there wasn't much of me coming through, and as a great reader of personal blogs, that bugged me.

So. In 2012, there will still be book reviews, but there will be a lot fewer memes. I will be posting about library matters sometimes, and about my very own personal life as well as things of a crafty nature. If you don't like personal posts and are only here for the books, I will understand if you unfollow! But I hope you'll stick around and share your thoughts and opinions. There will be some wonderful books out in 2012, and hopefully we'll check them out together!