Zombies

While I’m still waiting for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I decided to make a list of some other recent books about the rapidly disintegrating undead…

Generation Dead by Dan Waters

The Down Home Zombie Blues by Linnea Sinclair

Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

The Boy Who Couldn’t Die by William Sleator

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

Death of a Darklord by Laurell K. Hamilton

Patient Zero by John Maberry

Zombie Blondes by Brian James

Monster Planet by David Wellington

Mind you, I generally prefer my zombies in video games like Oblivion or Resident Evil … or even Fall Out Boy Trail s0 that I can shoot at them, so for hardcore zombie fans, your mileage with these books may vary.

-Dea

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New Items This Month: Everything Old is New Again

There are a lot of exciting new items this month, but when I was going through them, I started to notice a trend. A feeling of nostalgia, reinvention, adaptation – updates, if you will, of materials, information and people. Nothing makes me happier then when something I know gets a new coat of polish…

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth  Grahame-Smith

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.” Or, more likely, it’s a universal truth that to make something fresh and cool these days, it doesn’t hurt to add some zombies. Not that I think P&P needed the help, but that doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to reading it. So, whoever took out our copy, pls bring it back soon. Thx.

Nevermore by Dan Whitehead

This book has collected Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous short stories and transformed them into a graphic novel anthology. You can re-experience classic horror tales like The Raven or The Tell-Tale Heart with fresh, modern settings and sensibilities and edgy illustrations.

boaBoA

This eponymously titled CD introduces popular Korean singer BoA to a U.S. audience, with new, all English, tracks. Her sound has been reinvented a little, sped up and synthesized into dance music, even though her Korean and Japanese albums have been mostly pop. Still, BoA’s main strength as an artist is her voice, and it definitely shines through.

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

Actress and novelist Carrie Fisher shows us a new side of herself in this memoir. To most people, Carrie Fisher begins and ends with Princess Leia, and her famous bun hairdo, but in this book, Carrie Fisher gives us the woman behind the image, with a series of hilarious and sometimes painful (and painfully honest) anecdotes about her life .

Family Ties

Family Ties is on DVD and at our library (or it would be if it wasn’t checked out). When I was growing up, if I missed an episode of Family Ties, I had to wait what was sometimes months for a rerun. But now it’s all in one place, and I’m guessing digitally remastered, etc. How cool is that?

Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow

While the first book on my list adds zombies to regency romance, this little novel combines WWII with… Godzilla, apparently.  The Navy has created a breed of giant, mutant, fire-breathing iguanas. But whether or not they’ll use them on the small island nation of Japan is up to a B-movie actor. If he and his rubber suit can demonstrate the potential threat and get the Japanese to surrender, there will be peace. If not? Iguana mayhem. (Note: I wouldn’t expect a lot of political or cultural sensitivity from this book, btw.)

Jesus, Interrupted by Bart D. Ehrman

In this book, Bart Ehrman takes a good hard look at the New Testament. He isn’t reinterpretting the text either. Rather, he’s reinventing what we’re expecting from the text. Stripping apart historical influences and philosophies, Ehrman attempts to clear a path to the truth.

Want more? Check out the complete list of new items for May on our website.

-Dea

Non-Fiction for Fiction Readers

I’m not a huge non-fiction fan, but occasionally, when I’ve tired of my escapist fun, I veer into unknown waters. Below is my list of non-fiction books that were entertaining, edifying, and read like fiction:

Longitude, by Dava Sobel

I never thought about how sailors found their way before longitude and latitude: really, they couldn’t tell east from west. This is the story of John Harrison, a clockmaker who figured it all out.

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary, by Simon Winchester

If you’ve seen the OED, you know what an amazing accomplishment it is, and what an incredible amount of work went into it. Simon Winchester draws you into the story and keeps you there.

Assassination Vacation, by Sarah Vowell

Sara Vowell, who also contributes to the This American Life radio show, is a historian who makes history fun. I love all of her books, but this one, about vacationing at all the places where presidents were killed, is my favorite.

Free For All: Oddballs, Geeks and Gangstas in the Public Library, by Don Borchert

The life and times of just your average local public library.

Girl Named Zippy, by Haven Kimmel

A sweet and quirky tale of a girl named Zippy growing up in a small American town.

Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations, by Georgina Howell

Gertrude Bell, diplomat, mapmaker, adventurer, spy (and more), was an amazing woman you don’t hear enough about.

Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, by Julie Powell

(soon to be a movie with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams)

This was funny, and a bit disgusting, and I can’t resist anyone who loves Buffy the Vampire Slayer
as much as I do.

The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea, by Sebastian Junger

It’s true that I’m partial, as I went to Gloucester High School and know one of the fishermen who died, but this is a gripping tale and he even makes the science part interesting.

Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants, by Robert Sullivan

Seriously, you don’t mess with rats.

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, by Mary Roach

The author also wrote a book, even more well-received, called Boink, about just what you think it’s about.

Whatever You Do Don’t Run: True Tales of Botswana Safari Guide, by Peter Allison

Hilarious, with good pictures, and if I didn’t already want to go to Botswana after reading The Number One Ladies Detective Agency, I do now!

-Ardis

Review: The Victoria Vanishes

The Victoria Vanishes: A Peculiar Crimes Unit Mystery by Christopher Fowler

I picked up The Victoria Vanishes,  I’ll admit, because of the cover, which had a crow, a bowler hat, a bottle of poison, and a syringe, and the word “peculiar.” I’m not a regular mystery reader, but the peculiar investigations of  Arthur Bryant and John May were madcap, macabre and quite hilarious, and I felt as though I already knew them even though I had not read any of their earlier investigations.

A serial killer is targeting middle-aged women who he injects with a poison, but his attack and their deaths remain hidden in the crowd of the pubs.  The Peculiar Crimes Unit gets the case after Bryant realizes that he observed one of the victims enter the Victoria Cross, a pub that hasn’t existed for almost a century.  Bryant is losing his memory and May is considering retirement in the wake of his failing health, and someone has misplaced the ashes of the co-worker they’ve gathered to honor as the book opens.

The Peculiar Crimes Unit is the sort of place I’d want to work if I were in British Law Enforcement and didn’t really care about having a life or advancing my career.  Bryant and May seem like fascinating if sometimes undependable and workaholic bosses, and the crimes the Unit ends up solving would likely never be solved by normal means. Still, it’s a department that exists on the very edges of the law, and it seems like some bad things historically happen to their coroners.

Be warned: The Victoria Vanishes is apparently the last of the series, so, while it’s very readable even if you haven’t read the others in the series first, there is only one direction to go in after Victoria Vanishes, and that’s backwards. If that means I get to spend more time with Bryant and May, then I’m happy to start over at the beginning.

-Andrea

Twilight: The Movie

I finally watched Twilight this past weekend, and I considered writing a review, since it has been one of the most talked about book-into-movie productions lately. I realized, though, that my review would have been made up of ways in which the movie fixed several of the problems of the book, most notably the pacing  and the introduction of the conflict that wasn’t the romantic one.  I tend to be of the opinion that books are better than the movie that is made of them. Most of the time, it’s not a matter of quality as much as it is a matter of form: you can do things in a book that you can’t do in a movie.

In the case of Twilight, I think the movie benefited from knowing the end of the story – they snuck in James and the bad guy vampires earlier,  in a way that Stephanie Meyer somehow failed to do in her revisions, so they didn’t come as so much of a surprise three quarters of the way through the book.  I found Bella more likeable in the movie than I did in the book. (Don’t hate me, crazy devoted fans, although, really, what are you doing reading this blog? Did you miss our ongoing joke about the horror that is Breaking Dawn?) I think the distance from Bella’s narration – and her inner thoughts and personal observations – helped me to appreciate Bella more as a lead character without getting annoyed with her the way I did in the book (and in New Moon and Eclipse ….)

The biggest triumph of the movie as a successful re-telling of the book was that there was no major plot element left out for the sake of brevity (I’m looking at you, here,  Prisoner of Azkaban) and I could without reservation recommend that a fan of the movie just go ahead and jump into reading New Moon if they wanted more of the series. They’re already planning to turn that one into a movie, as well.

Unfortunately, Twilight: The Movie didn’t address any of my concerns about the weird power dynamic between our leads, or the creepy messages about the dangers of female sexuality, but I’m not sure there was any way to tell the story of Edward and Bella without the creepy.

Featured in this post:

-Andrea

New Books About Things That are Old

Andrea has been running herself ragged trying to keep her display of historical novels full this month. Because here at Watertown, we definitely have a passion for history. And I’m guessing the history fans could do with a new book or two about their favorite old topics, so I’m posting a few historically themed selections from this month’s new item list.

Nothing to Fear by Adam Cohen

A fascinating, in depth, account of the first days of FDR’s presidency, when he set in motion the changes that would birth a new America.

The High City by Cecilia Holland

What is now Istanbul was once Constantinople, and Cecilia Holland tells a tale of this great city, one of it’s most feared emporers, his wife, and the young son of an Irish slave.

Mistress of the Monarchy by Alison Weir

Alison Weir presents an engrossing biography of Katherine Swynford, a royal mistress who was to become one of the most crucial figures in the history of the British royal dynasties.

Twenty Four Eyes – Japanese DVD

A moving, historical chronicle of a teacher in rural Japan, spanning decades of history from 1928 through World War 2, and more.

The Devil’s Paintbox by Victoria McKernan

Orphans Aidan and Maddy brave the perilous Oregon Trail in 1865, for the promise of a better life in the Washington Territory.

The Women by T.C. Boyle

T.C. Boyle creates a fictional account of brilliant architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, from the point of view of the women in his life.

Review: Demon’s Lexicon

Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan,  Not Yet Published.

demonslexiconThere are perks to being a librarian, not the least of which is getting a crack at advanced reader copies of upcoming books.  And as soon as I saw a copy of this book, I thought, “Ooh, Tom Welling!” shortly followed by, “I should read this.”

But despite my first impression, this book turned out to be less Smallville and more Supernatural. For one thing, it’s about two brothers who fight demons and are perhaps unhealthily obsessed with keeping each other alive. For another thing — nevermind, that’s a spoiler.

Actually this review is going to be really hard to write without spoilers, and it’s one of those rare books where I actually think the reader shouldn’t be spoiled. I devotedly read the last chapters of books, but I didn’t in this one (except to take a quick peek to check that my favorite character was still alive to be quippy at the end), and I was glad I didn’t.  So sorry if I sound unnecessarily cryptic, but it’s for your own good.

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