Monday, August 20, 2012

It's Monday: What are you reading?

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

What I recently finished:
I just finished reading Jonathan Maberry's Rot & Ruin, the first book in the Benny Imura series (the series will have four books total and book 3, Flesh & Bone, will be published this fall). This story takes place 14 years after First Night - the night when anyone who died turned into a zombie. As the night went on, more and more people died, and thus more and more people became zombies.

I'm not a fan of the zombie genre - or the post-apocalyptic or dystopian genres either - but this was a really good book. It's not just a zombie slasher novel, though there's some of that, too; Maberry looks into the emotions and mind sets of people living years in survival mode and the morality of killing zombies who once were people, too.

Look for my full review in the coming days, but I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves a good zombie book or movie. I'd also recommend it to fans of The Hunger Games - those who dug into the story of a world-gone-wrong and a teenager's fight to make it a better place.

I also finished Polterguys (Volume 1), a graphic novel by Laurianne Uy. Again, look for the full review in the next few days. But in the meantime, this graphic novel was a quick and cute read. It follows awkward and nerdy Bree, a new college student, who finds herself living alone in an old house. However, she's not as alone as she thinks - she actually has 5 ghostly roommates. This story has the feel of Ouran, though it began without the same depth, with added paranormal elements.

What I'm reading now:
I just picked up The Lost Code (The Atlanteans #1), by Kevin Emerson. What I've discovered so far: global warming, and perhaps other ecological and man-made issues, have created some major problems for earth. The ice caps have melted, so earth has lost a lot of it's costal areas, and it's so hot that only a few places are habitable. A lot of the remaining people live in bio-domes, though it seems that those are failing, too. And it turns out that this isn't the first time tech-savvy humans have wreaked havoc on the earth; the Atlanteans did, too. And it seems that our hero, Owen Parker, may be connected to that ancient race, and that connection may be needed to save earth.

I'm only a few pages into this book, but I think (and I'm hoping) that it may have more of a Percy Jackson/adventure story feel, even though it has that post-apocalyptic flavor.

What I'll read next:
Oh goodness, I have no idea. Some of the contenders include Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood, Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout, or - depending on how quickly it gets cataloged - Soulbound by Heather Brewer (that's the one I really want to get my hands on!).

So, what are YOU reading?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Waiting On Wednesdays: Alice in Zombieland

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

On Savvy Book Reviews, I'll be showcasing books that we'll be adding soon to the library!

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

Alice in Zombieland (White Rabbit Chronicles #1)
By: Gena Showalter
Publication Date: September 25, 2012

Description from Goodreads:
Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real….

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies….

I wish I could go back and do a thousand things differently.
I'd tell my sister no.
I'd never beg my mother to talk to my dad.
I'd zip my lips and swallow those hateful words.
Or, barring all of that, I'd hug my sister, my mom and my dad one last time.
I'd tell them I love them.
I wish... Yeah, I wish.

From Me:
I love all things Alice! I'm intrigued by any retelling of the classic, and I generally prefer them to the original. This is one zombie book that I'm looking forward to reading!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Crafty: Dream Journals

During our Own the Night Summer Reading Program this year we had two craft activities: Constellation Mosaics and Dream Journals. They were both a major success, but I have to admit that I liked the Dream Journal craft better - mostly because it was so simple and the prep work was minimal!

What you'll need:
Composition Notebooks (I found them for $0.92/each at Target)
Mod Podge (if you don't have mod podge, you can use a mixture of 50% "school" glue and 50% water)
Large paint brush or sponge brush
Old magazines, recycled books, construction paper
Extras like glitter, puff paint, sequins, feathers, etc.

To create your Dream Journal, first start digging through your magazines, book pages, etc for images for your cover. You can tear these out and have rough edges, cut clean edges with scissors, or if you have craft scissors, cut them out with a patterned edge.

Finding the best materials
Working hard, getting creative
When you are ready to apply your images, first brush the mod podge directly onto your notebook. While the mod podge is still wet, place your image - make sure to adjust it quickly because the mod podge dries fast. Once you have the image where you want it, cover the image with a coat of mod podge.
Using brush and mod podge
Repeat until you're satisfied with your journal!

Helpful Hints:
*When creating a collage, like I did in the first photo, it's best to have your images cover the whole space - use some larger pieces as a base and then cover them with smaller images. This will make the page more visually interesting.

*You can add texture to your journal using the mod podge and paint brush; add extra mod pod to your brush or make swirls with your brush strokes.

*To make your journal "sparkle," add glitter as you're brushing on the mod podge or add flat sequins (using the same method as you would your magazine images or paper cut-outs, though you may need additional mod podge to get it to stick).

Adding glitter liberally
This project doesn't have to be used strictly for Dream Journals; we'll be doing this craft again at our first Scribbles: Creative Writing and Creative Arts club meeting. Those who are interested in writing will make Writing Journals and those who are interested in art will make Art Journals.

Check out these other examples!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Book Review: Croak

Croak (Croak #1)
by Gina Damico

“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.

The sequel, Scorch, is coming out on September 25th. If you like Croak, make sure to check out Scorch at MPL!

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

Teen Reviewer: A Walk to Remember

A Walk to Remember
By: Nicholas Sparks
Reviewer: Lily Pollard

“Love is like the wind, you can't see it but you can feel it.” 
Description from Goodreads:
Every April, when the wind blows from the sea and mingles with the scent of lilacs, Landon Carter remembers his last year at Beaufort High. It was 1958, and Landon had already dated a girl or two. He even swore that he had once been in love. Certainly the last person in town he thought he'd fall for was Jamie Sullivan, the daughter of the town's Baptist minister. A quiet girl who always carried a Bible with her schoolbooks, Jamie seemed content living in a world apart from the other teens. She took care of her widowed father, rescued hurt animals, and helped out at the local orphanage. No boy had ever asked her out. Landon would never have dreamed of it. Then a twist of fate made Jamie his partner for the homecoming dance, and Landon Carter's life would never be the same. Being with Jamie would show him the depths of the human heart and lead him to a decision so stunning it would send him irrevocably on the road to manhood...

Lily's Review:
I will start off by saying this; this is definitely one of my favorite books I have EVER read. It is a great story!  A Walk to Remember is about Jamie Sullivan and Landon Carter. They are both seniors in high school, and a twist of fate makes them partners for the homecoming dance. Their relationship slowly progresses, but it does. Now take my advice, you will start out smiling and happy, but towards the end it gets sad and you may cry.

This book was great. I recommend it to anyone who wants a very simple, but good love story. It held my attention the whole time, and before I knew it, I had finished the book. Like I said, this is probably one of my favorite books ever! It is a very touching story, and anyone who likes love stories should definitely read this book sometime!

Teen Summer Reading Winners!

And we have our winners! Congratulations to Virginia Upton, winner of the Hunger Games boxed set! Congratulations to Emily Traylor, winner of the $50 Amazon Gift Card! Congratulations to Margaret Thatcher, winner of the Kindle Fire! Thanks to everyone for participating in our Summer Reading Program and keep an eye out for our Fall Reading program, beginning this October, where we'll have even more chances to win!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Should Be Reading.

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I'm currently reading:

Rot & Ruin, by Jonathan Maberry
Rot & Ruin is a post-apocalyptic zombie novel, one that my best friend has been nagging me about for months. "Have you started it yet, have you started it yet?" Yes, Lauren, I've started it!

I recently finished:

Croaked, by Gina Damico
This book was AWESOME! Snarky and just a bit dark, though mostly fun. Quick synopsis: Girl with anger-management-issues turns out to be a grim reaper. Full review to come!

The Peculiars, by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
I...didn't like this book. See why in my review below.

The Ouran High School Host Club, by Bisco Hatori
This was my first attempt at reading manga - and I LOVED it! This series is awesome. I've attempted some other series since Ouran, but I haven't enjoyed any of them the way I did this series. It's silly and fun and just awesome. See my full review below.

What I'll read next...

My to-read stack is always HUGE. Potential next books include Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood, Erebos by Ursula Poznanski, and Team Human by Justine Larbalestier.

What are YOU reading?

Book Review: The Peculiars

The Peculiars
By Maureen Doyle McQuerry

"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.