Monday, November 26, 2012

Post-Thanksgiving reading roundup

In between shoveling in pie and watching the Patriots annihilate the Jets, I got a bit of reading done on Thanksgiving week.  It was an interesting mix of books, take a look...

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
I had this weird book when I was a kid called The People's Almanac and I was obsessed with the sections on Jack the Ripper and Lizzie Borden.  So when I found out Maureen Johnson had written a Ripper mystery I knew it was only a matter of time before this book and I had a lost weekend.  The paperback cover is an improvement over the hardcover, which misled me into thinking this was historical fiction.  The book features a lot of Ripper lore, but it is set in the present day; cell phones play a critical role.

Rory grew up in a small town in Louisiana.  Her parents are both professors at Tulane University and decide to spend Rory's senior year on sabbatical in England.  Which means that Rory's senior year includes school uniforms, death-or-glory field hockey, and a series of gruesome copycat murders!

Rory's new school, Wexford Academy, is ground zero for the Ripper imitator.  As the murders continue, unsettling evidence suggests that perhaps it is Saucy Jack himself continuing his horrifying career.  Nearby cameras show -- no one.  But Rory's seen something, even if no one else can.

Rotters by Daniel Kraus
When Joey Crouch's mother is killed in an accident, he is sent from Chicago to Iowa to live with the father he has never met.  His mother never talked about Ken Harnett, and Joey doesn't understand why she would put him in his care now.  The case worker tells Joey that his father is a garbage man, but Joey quickly discovers that his father's profession is far more shameful and taboo.

Ken Harnett is a graverobber.

Tortured by his classmates and a sadistic biology teacher, Joey begins to assist his father on his expeditions, learning about the nature of death and the solitary men who perform this ritual.

This is undoubtedly one of the strangest father-son stories you will ever encounter.  Kraus shows the physical horrors of decay and the vulnerability of the human body as counter to the keen emotional torment of enduring life itself.  While the Diggers are immune to the fear of dying, they have walled themselves off from the living, revealing our desire for love as more urgent and terrible than death could ever be.  Kirby Heyborne gives a stellar audiobook performance, imbuing his characters' voices with pain and passion.

By now you're thinking: lighten the heck up, Library Lady.  Do you have a coffin for a coffee table or something?* So here's something completely different!

August Moon by Diana Thung
The town of Calico doesn't seem too out of the ordinary at first glance.  Busy shops, food carts, kids out on the street playing games.  But at night the shy and elusive residents of Calico come out to play.  Visible only to children, these strange forest animals are the origin of the town's annual Soul Fire festival.  And now they are under threat.

Fi and her dad come to Calico to investigate the discovery of one of these strange "bear-rabbits."  Fi befriends Jaden, a street boy with wondrous abilities of his own, and together they try to stop the evil Mon&Key company and save Calico.  

If you like Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro, give this comic book a try!

Eternally Yours by Cate Tiernan
You may recall I went bananas for the first two book in this series, and at long last the final book is here!  Nastasya is as sarcastic and endearing as ever, her romance with Reyn continues to be frustrating and smoldering, and the mystery of who is killing Immortals for their power throws some decent twists in there.

If you haven't already begun this series, wow, do yourself a favor and check it out.  Nastasya is one of my favorite paranormal heroines since Buffy; Tiernan deftly describes her 459 years of tangled emotions without making me sick of to death of her issues.



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