Books, books and more books by MELINDA Schmidbauer

Well, I've pretty much stopped the comic a day postings.  I guess I just couldn't keep up.  Not with the reading!  I definitely read a comic for everyday.  Just with the posting.  

Today, though, I am inspired to write about a comic we read this week, as well as a book series I am currently immersed in.  As we discussed in the podcast this week, we both liked "The New Deadwardians" from Vertigo.  In post-Victorian England, the upper class is vampiric, the lower class is mostly zombies, and never the twain should meet.  This looks like a very nicely done whodunit with a twist.  We'll have eight issues to see it through.  

But meanwhile, I am reading the books in the Parasol Protectorate, a series by Gail Carriger.  In this series, the supernatural set (vampires, werewolves and ghosts) live in harmony in Victorian England.  The Queen is advised by a panel of an unaligned vampire, a packless werewolf, and a "soulless" (a human born with no soul, and therefore not able to be turned into a supernatural being).  Ghosts are used as spies (until their bodies are too decomposed, when they then turn poltergeist and have to be exorcised).  The factions are endless, and the adventures are very proper!  There are five books out in the series now, and I highly recommend them!  

As Mark said, maybe this is part of the trend started by "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," but if so, I am all for it.  Anything that makes the Supernatural a little less scary is a plus for me! 

On a final note, you may notice that we have begun linking to some Amazon products directly.  We did, finally, sign up an affiliate account, so any purchases you make after clicking on a link on our site will result in a (very) small amount accruing to our Amazon account.  Don't buy comics there -- use your local comic store.  But if you do purchase on Amazon, please use our link!

Check the Library or Buy the Book? by MELINDA Schmidbauer


Today I returned "Shades of Grey" (Fforde) to the library.  I did not finish reading it, but I have renewed it twice.  It is a good book, I am just not in the mood for Fforde now.  Which made me start asking the question, "Should I have just bought the book?"

There are some books I just have to be in the mood to read.  A book like "The Wind-Up Girl" (Bacigalupi ), which I am also reading now (and have been for about a month), is very dense reading.  I have to read every word, because the writing is just so precise and the descriptions of the future world are vital to the story taking place.  Because of that, this is a book I can't just pick up and read while I am watching kids take a test.  It demands my attention.  "Shades of Grey" is also a book that you have to give your full attention to, and be in the mood for.  These books might sit on my shelf for months, until I am in the right mood.  These are the books I buy, so that I remember I want to read them, and have them for when I want them.

But other books, like most series mystery, I can pick up and read anytime.  I can read and knit, or read and watch a classroom, or read and cook.  I love these books too, they just take a little less effort and dedication.  And I can read them pretty much anytime.  So those are the books that I tend to check out of the library, while I tend to buy the more complicated fiction.  Yet I read many more of the series types mystery and thrillers.  I think I need to have a rule to buy one or two of those for every three or four I read at the library.  I want the authors to keep writing, so they need to be paid!  

Read:  Trio of Sorcery (bought), Revolution (Advanced Copy), Olive Kitteridge (library), Masked (read from library, but subsequently purchased for Mark).  


Books I Need to Review by MELINDA Schmidbauer

I finished these books in the last month:

Black Magic Sanction (Harrison)
Fledgling (Lee and Miller)
Saltation (Lee and Miller)
Fear the Worst (Linwood Barclay)
Asterios Polyps
Dark Entries
Takeover (Lisa Black)

This post is a reminder to me to write something about them. Right now, I am busy trying to use WordPress so I can move the blog over to our own web site, and still load podcasts.

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko by MELINDA Schmidbauer

I was at a middle school yesterday, and noticed a lot of students carrying this book around. They were reading it in their Language Arts class. One student told me they had been reading it for "two months."

Al Capone Does My Laundry, an earlier book by this author, was one I enjoyed a lot, so I picked this up during my lunch period and started reading. I was sucked in right away. This is another book where the author really effectively tells the story from the points of view of two different characters. This must be a trend for me lately, picking up books with this format. Or maybe a hot trend for authors? In any case, this is another case where the author really gets it right. The changing viewpoints between Walk and Kirsten are really effective.

The story itself is good, if not very complicated. Walk and Kirsten become unlikely friends, then find out a secret that affects their friendship and their other relationships. Choldenko realistically portrays tween/teen life and some of the trials and tribulations of youth.

I did finish this book overnight, as it was a fairly easy read (as are a lot of books aimed at kids 10 and up!), and I hope that student really hadn't spent two months reading this book. If I had had to spend several weeks reading a chapter at a time, I'd probably have lost interest in finishing.

As a final note, I am looking forward to getting Al Capone Shines My Shoes, further adventures of Moose Flanagan.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley by MELINDA Schmidbauer

This book came recommended from several different places. One of my favorite book podcasts, Books on the Nightstand, mentioned it several times. I also read about it on LibraryThing, and my mom liked it. So, how could I go wrong?

I did really enjoy this book. Set in 1950 England, Flavia de Luce is an 11-year-old chemistry genius, due to books and a laboratory left by an eccentric uncle. Flavia and her two sisters were left motherless at an early age, with a father who seems to be distant, at best. Things start to change when Flavia finds a dead body in the garden. Aided by her superior intelligence, sense of smell and knowledge of chemicals, Flavia proceeds with an investigation to determine the killer (and clear her father of the crime).

This is by no means a children's or YA book, despite the heroine being a youngster. Although there is nothing of a graphic nature, there is murder and kidnapping.

The second book in this series, The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag, will be coming out very soon. I will be adding it to my TBR (or maybe my "To Be Listened To") pile.

The Bricklayer by Noah Boyd by MELINDA Schmidbauer

I borrowed this book from my sister (thanks, Lisa!), who got it as a freebie from Bouchercon 2009. I think it was handed out during a publisher panel, but don't really remember... It wasn't part of the big free-for-all at the end of the con, I know! In any case, the FTC or whoever should be satisfied now that I have said it was free.

Boyd has written a credible and exciting thriller (even if I did figure out what was going on way before the FBI). A terrorist group is extorting the FBI, using a series of murders to get $5 million dollars. The FBI is at a loss, and calls in a fired agent to locate a missing FBI agent who might have run off with $2 million of the money. False leads abound as the hero, Steve Vail, works outside the FBI hierarchy to find the missing money and the last members of the Rubaco Pentad, who have planned what may be a perfect crime.


I finished this in just a few days, and really enjoyed it. I would pick up the next in what is sure to be an on-going series featuring Vail.

Looking for Alaska by MELINDA Schmidbauer

I took KT's copy of this book. Maybe she will comment on the review. I really liked this book. It is a great YA read. It is the story of Miles "Pudge" Halter, and his experiences in, as he calls it, the "Great Perhaps" of boarding school. Having been a fairly unpopular student with few friends at his local high school, Miles asks to attend his father's alma mater, Culver Creek Boarding School. Miles, almost immediately christened "Pudge," makes friends and experiences life as he never did at home. And this is mostly due to Alaska the "gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy....fascinating Alaska." The author does a great job of introducing us to, and making us like, the main characters. Even though this is written in the first-person, one of my least favorite POVs, Miles tells the reader everything we need to know, and this reader, at least, was very satisfied with the entire book.