November 28, 2011

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Why is it always so enticing to read about a cute boy whose greater instinct is to kill you but is constantly fighting the urge?  Although Dearly, Departed is set in 2193, the world has strangely gone forward and backward in time to something reminiscent of the Victorian era with greater technology.  Many people in Nora’s town live underground and have holograms for their yards.  There are trees that rustle in the wind and a sky that reflects the stars in the night and the sun in the day.  Yet they travel by carriage (some are electric powered), women are in corsets and long dresses and the men go back to courting women.  During these times though an illness has been rampant that has caused many to die and come back to life as brain-dead, flesh-eating zombies.   Although not all of those who reanimate lose their minds as is the case with Bram and the troop he is stationed with.  In what Nora believes is a zombie attack she is captured by Bram’s Company Z.  At first she would much rather stay locked inside a room than figure out what is wrong with these undead beings.  That is until Bram wins her trust and she’s filled in on what really happened to her family.  There is of course a zombie invasion in Nora’s town that allows her best friend, Pamela, to become another major character. Anyone looking to step away from the vampires and werewolves will like this version of the paranormal. 

November 26, 2011

The Complete Maus: A Survivor's Tale by Art Spiegelman

In a previous post I had mentioned the graphic novel Maus but I felt it deserved it's own post. Art Spiegelman authors and illustrates a powerful retelling of his father's experiences as a Polish Jew during World War II. Incredibly, both Spiegelman's parents survived the concentration camps through luck and resourcefulness. However, their lives are forever haunted by the memories. This, in turn, has a tremendous effect on Spiegelman throughout his life. Maus is an extraordinary tale that provides a personal insight into the Holocaust when at times it can be impossible to fathom such an experience. It's also impossible to read only Maus I so make sure to get both or the complete version.

November 25, 2011

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Historian Diana Bishop has been spending a great deal of time in Oxford’s Bodleian Library investigating scholarly tomes.  Diana is a descendant of witches but has denied her magical heritage since her parents were killed when she was younger.  When Diana requests an alchemical manuscript from the library and doesn’t find anything of need from it she immediately returns it to the stacks.  In doing so, she unknowingly has broken the enchantment on the manuscript and has drawn the negative attention of the daemon, witch, and vampire population.  It isn’t until the obvious abundance of strangers watching her that Diana starts to realize this 150 year old, previously lost, manuscript is something far more than it seems.  However, now it cannot be retrieved again and Diana has become a target.   

November 15, 2011

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

"The circus arrives without warning."  As does a young Celia Bowen on her unsuspecting father's doorstep.  Hector Bowen, aka Prospero the Enchanter, recognizes the inherent magical powers Celia holds and claims her as his new game piece in a ruthless competition.  Hector's rival, the man in the grey suit, is up for the challenge and plucks a young boy from an orphanage.  For years these dueling magicians are trained to compete against each other yet have no idea who the other is and are kept in the dark about the rules of the game.  Le Cirque des Reves, the Circus of Dreams, is the stage for the competition and after a decade of creating imaginative tents for the circus and each other, Marco and Celia's lives have become enchantingly intertwined.  Rather than the fierce competition expected by their instructors they have fallen in love.  However, they do not realize to what extent the competition must run in order for there to be a victor.