Sunday, December 27, 2009

Better late than never?

I just read Janet Evanovich's first Stephanie Plum mystery "One for the Money." Lots of folks follow her but I had never managed to get to it, so I picked one up this week. It was a little slow to start for me but the characters grew on me by the end of the book. The plot was good and well paced. A female bounty hunter is an interesting premise. I think I'll read the second. There are now fifteen books in the series, so if I still like Stephanie after book two, I'll have plenty to look forward to in the future.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Is Steampunk the next rage in books?

Over the few months, I have been hearing a reemergence of the term "steampunk" when describing novels. This led me to research what actually is "steampunk"? From what I can gather across the Internet, steampunk in its broadest definition can refer to a sub genre of science fiction or fantasy where steam power is widely used. The setting can occur in 19th century Victorian England or in a altered history where technology arose differently. An old example of steampunk would be the authors Juls Verne or H.G. Wells...think Time Machine and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

My first venture into steampunk fiction was the recent teen release "Leviathan" by Scott Westerfeld. This novel occurred in an alternate World War I scenario. The battle was between countries who embraced mechanical technology versus biological technology. This is a world where Charles Darwin discovered DNA and began genetically splicing animals and machines. The result is living airships with their own ecosystems that provide fuel. This was an extremely imaginative book. I would recommend it for adults and kids alike.

Here are some recommendations in the genre compiled from various websites. Place a hold on them today in our library catalog.
The Difference Engine by William Gibson & Bruce Sterling
Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
Morlock Night by K. W. Jeter (sequel to Well's Time Machine)
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
His Dark Materials Triology by Phillip Pullman
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

If that was not enough, Barnes and Noble actually has its own steampunk recommendations: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/steampunk-books-fantasy/379001732/

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

I read this book straight through in one day. Needless to say I absolutely loved it (and not just because it was about zombies) In a postapoclyaptic world, Mary is a curious teen desperately searching for escape in her small village. She can either be wed to a man she doesn't love or devote herself to the mysterious Sisterhood. Raised on stories from her mother that an ocean once existed on Earth, Mary wants to leave the village despite the hordes of zombies that surround it. A fence is the only thing separating the villagers from these "Unconsecrated". Once bitten, a villager is either killed or cast out to the zombies. The suspense and timing of this book was great. I kept wanting to put it down to go to sleep but there was always more action afoot. Like many zombie novels, the unconsecrated represent something more. They are a physical representation of the secrets and fears of the villagers. Although Mary was a teen, I think that this novel could appeal to adult audiences as well. She was strong willed and driven in her quest to seek the truth, no matter the consequences, which leaves me in some scenes being very frustrated with her (which is a good thing). So if you are feeling trapped under a few feet of snow this winter, this comes highly recommended.