Monday, March 22, 2010

26. His Majesty's Dragon: Temeraire, Book 1 by Naomi Novik

#26

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Title: His Majesty's Dragon
Series: Temeraire, Book 1
Author: Naomi Novik
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 384
ISBN: 9780345481283
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Author Website: www.temeraire.org
Twitter: @naominovik
Format: Paperback
Rating: 5/5 stars
Finished: 3-21-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, TIOLI

From Amazon:
Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors rise to Britain’s defense by taking to the skies... not aboard aircraft but atop the mighty backs of fighting dragons.

When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes its precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Capt. Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future–and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.

I absolutely loved this book. I was trying to decide on a TIOLI challenge book for March (read a book by an LT Author) and I needed something that was more brain candy than anything else, and after reading a couple of other reviews/recommendations of His Majesty's Dragon decided I'd pick up the first book if I found it at the bookstore. Much to my now pleasure, they had a copy and I went ahead and broke my no new book buying rule for about the 100th time this year and picked it up. Needless to say, the next four are on their way from Amazon now.

Novik takes another look at the Napoleonic Wars in this series, one where dragons are an important part of all armies and their fighting forces. The dragons are harnessed at birth (when they emerge from their egg) with a human rider who becomes their captain, and together they become a fighting force with an entire crew that works to keep the dragon healthy and safe. When Capt. Laurence captures a French ship carrying a dragon egg, at first he imagines only what his share of the prize money will be, but when it is discovered that the egg will hatch before they reach port, the decision is made to try to harness the dragon right on the ship, something that has never been done before, as the Aerial Corps has always handled all eggs and the subsequent harnessing. Much to his surprise, when the new dragonet hatches, it completely ignores the man whose name was pulled to try the harnessing, and instead speaks directly to Laurence and allows him to do the harnessing. Now Laurence must leave the navy and with the newly named Temeraire, must learn the ways of the Aerial Corps. And I couldn't put the book down from here on out.

I loved the growing relationship between Laurence and Temeraire. Instead of just being mindless beasts bent on destruction, Novik has created intelligent and engaging characters in her dragons, and from the moment that Temeraire speaks to Laurence, I was totally lost in their growing friendship and trust. I think this, above and beyond anything else in the book, was what had me hooked from the beginning. There was just something about the way that Novik had Laurence and Temeraire grow closer that I just found totally mesmerizing. The other side stories were just as equally well-written, but it was the experience of watching Laurence and Temeraire grow into their partnership that held the entire book together so unquestionably. Of course, there is so much more to the story than just their growing relationship; there is also their training and the interactions on both Laurence and Temeraire's parts with their new comrades and the battle at the end of the book where we learn the true nature of Temeraire's breeding. It's just all so well put together, I loved every moment of the book and read it in 2 days.

I always enjoy discovering a new author, but to be able to find a book that I can so easily get lost in as well is a complete treat for me, and I can't recommend His Majesty's Dragon enough. I'm anxiously looked forward to moving on to the second book in the series, Throne of Jade. This will easily be topping my list of favorite books of the year.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

25. The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry

#25

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Title: The Willoughbys
Author: Lois Lowry
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 174
ISBN: 9780618979745
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Author Website: www.loislowry.com
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 3-17-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10

From Amazon:
Abandoned by their ill-humored parents to the care of an odious nanny, Tim, the twins, Barnaby A and Barnaby B, and their sister, Jane, attempt to fulfill their roles as good old-fashioned children. Following the models set in lauded tales from A Christmas Carol to Mary Poppins, the four Willoughbys hope to attain their proscribed happy ending too, or at least a satisfyingly maudlin one. However, it is an unquestionably ruthless act that sets in motion the transformations that lead to their salvation and to happy endings for not only the four children, but their nanny, an abandoned baby, a candy magnate, and his long-lost son too. Replete with a tongue-in-cheek glossary and bibliography, this hilarious and decidedly old-fashioned parody pays playful homage to classic works of children’s literature.

I read The Willoughbys on a recommendation of a friend from LT (Linda (whisper1) - thanks!), and I'm so glad that I did! It's quite a delightful, tongue in cheek poke at all the old-fashioned children's books (think Mary Poppins and the like). She mixes in all the requisite elements: sinister parents, orphans, a kind nanny, possibly impossible developments for our heroes of the story, a benevolent benefactor and a happy ending, and creates a hilarious modern day parody of those beloved books of yesterday. Not taking itself too seriously, The Willoughbys is just the right book to read when you need to get away to a guaranteed good time and a happy ending.

Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland Last Week

Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland Last Week

Monday, March 15, 2010

24. How to Train Your Dragon, Book 1 by Cressida Cowell

#24

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Title: How to Train Your Dragon
Series: How to Train Your Dragon, Book 1
Author: Cressida Cowell
Copyright: 2003
Pages: 213
ISBN: 9780316085274
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Author Website: www.cressidacowell.co.uk
Twitter: @littlebrown
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3/5 stars
Finished: 3-15-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10

From Amazon:
Chronicles the adventures and misadventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III as he tries to pass the important initiation test of his Viking clan, the Tribe of the Hairy Hooligans, by catching and training a dragon. Now available in paperback

I'm looking forward to the release of the upcoming Dreamworks movie, How to Train Your Dragon, and when I found out it was based on a series of YA books, I thought I'd give the first one a try when I found it at the bookstore the other night. Well, first off, based on what the previews look like for the movie and what the actual book is about, I'm going to have to assume that the movie is loosely based on the books.

Anyway, the book was fun. We follow the (mis)adventures of Hiccup as he tries to train his dragon, Toothless, in order to pass the initiation to become a full-fledged member of his Viking tribe. To make matters worse, not only is he the son of the current chief, but he is also a rather un-Vikingish Viking. He has taken time to study the dragons and feels that the current method of dragon training, yelling at them, is not the best method to take with them, and in his studies has learned to speak Dragonese and tries to train his dragon through more civil means, which is generally frowned upon by the usual Viking laws.

Basically, there are several morals to the story, that violence isn't necessarily always the answer (even though these are Vikings, so violence is necessary sometimes, after all), that family needs to come first, and that just because you are labeled as being plain and useless doesn't mean that's who you are and that you can prove yourself useful and rise above the labels placed on you by others. The story wasn't challenging in any way but still fun and the use of exaggerated fonts in the story to add extra emphasis was amusing. I don't think that I'll actually be buying anymore from the series, but if I find them at the library I'd probably pick them up.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

23. The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers

#23

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Title: The Anubis Gates
Author: Tim Powers
Copyright: 1983
Pages: 387
ISBN: 9780441004010
Publisher: Ace Books
Author Website: www.theworksoftimpowers.com
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 3-14-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, TIOLI (Steampunk category)

From Amazon:
A best-selling novel of time travel by a two-time winner of the Philip K. Dick Award combines action and adventure with the surreal and bizarre. By the author of Dinner at Deviant's Palace.

Holy cow, what a roller coaster of a ride of a book! You've got time travel, magic, science fiction, Egyptian mythology, world-conquering villains and more all wrapped up into 387 pages of almost non-stop action. I almost put the book down (about 20 pages from the second part, it turns out) because Powers takes no time in throwing us into his story; in fact, I felt that Doyle ended up being convinced far too quickly of the possibility of time travel and felt like maybe Powers was just going to keep that kind of pace up through the rest of book. And while the pace really never does let up, it just seemed that he was taking forever to get all of his characters into place, and I was just so desperate for the story to finally move along that I was growing quickly impatient and was ready to walk away from the whole thing. A friend, thankfully, convinced me to stick with it, and I'm glad that I did.

The second part of the book finally starts to take the significant number of threads that Powers started, and begins to weave them together into a fine web of a story that completely caught me up in its telling. I do think that the second part suffered from a little excess story telling again, but it was all necessary to bring the story and all of its characters together. The way that Powers worked so many characters and plot threads into one book, and managed to tie them all together and tie them up nicely into one big package is amazing. There is just so much that goes on in this book!

Even when I was working my through the parts of the book that I found a little tedious, I still felt that Powers' world and characters were completely tangible. His writing had an easy, relaxed flow to it that made the book really accessible and easy to get into. All in all, a really fantastic tale that I'm glad that I stuck with.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Follow @gailcarriger on Twitter!

OK, fellow readers, I'm enlisting your help. Not to only help me, but to help the delightful Gail Carriger and to maybe even help yourselves! I know what you're asking yourself right now, "How does all this helping really benefit me?" Well, see, how this all works is, if Gail gets 1874 followers by March 21, she'll enter us all into a contest to win a signed, first edition of her upcoming book, Changeless. I'm SUPER excited about this, as I loved loved loved Soulless, and would positively squeal with delight if I could get a signed copy of any of her books. But, you also are getting a chance to get in on the action of winning a signed copy, too! Granted, I'll probably just hunt you down and steal your signed copy for myself if you win instead of me, at least we're all winners then, right? And most importantly, Gail will get the number of followers she wants. She's a great up-and-coming author who I think will be one to watch in the future, and I'm excited to be helping her out, so go here and follow her. And if you haven't read Soulless yet, shame on you! Just click on the handy link below and order yourself a copy from Amazon. You won't be disappointed.

22. The Unwritten, Volume 1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity by Mike Carey, art by Peter Gross

#22

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Title: The Unwritten, Volume 1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity
Authors: Mike Carey, art by Peter Gross
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 144
ISBN: 9781401225650
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3/5 stars
Finished: 3-9-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 (Graphic Novel Category)

From Amazon:
Tom Taylor's life was screwed from go. His father created the Tommy Taylor fantasy series, boy-wizard novels with popularity on par with Harry Potter. The problem is Dad modeled the fictional epic so closely to Tom's real life that fans are constantly comparing him to his counterpart, turning him into the lamest variety of Z-level celebrity. In the final novel, it's even implied that the fictional Tommy will crossover into the real world, giving delusional fans more excuses to harass Tom.

When an enormous scandal reveals that Tom might really be a boy-wizard made flesh, Tom comes into contact with a very mysterious, very deadly group that's secretly kept tabs on him all his life. Now, to protect his own life and discover the truth behind his origins, Tom will travel the world, eventually finding himself at locations all featured on a very special map -- one kept by the deadly group that charts places throughout world history where fictions have impacted and tangibly shaped reality, those stories ranging from famous literary works to folktales to pop culture. And in the process of figuring out what it all means, Tom will find himself having to figure out a huge conspiracy mystery that spans the entirety of the history of fiction.

Imagine that you are Harry Potter. Not the character in the wildly popular book series, but actually a young man named Harry Potter who is the basis for the wildly popular, thirteen book series that your father wrote with the main character based on you. What do you think your life would be like?

That's basically how The Unwritten opens. Tom Taylor's dad has written an enormously popular series of books, very similar to the Harry Potter books, and based the main character of the series on his son, even naming the series of the books after his son. Tom Taylor has grown up being "Tommy Taylor," the hero of his father's book series, and is becoming quite tired of that persona. He's tried several times to break out on his own, but nothing can change the public's perception that he is Tommy Taylor, boy wizard.

Eventually, it comes to light that possibly Tom Taylor may not be the person that even he thinks he is, and he goes on his own quest to discover his past and who he really is, only to discover there are secrets about his life that may or may not parallel the events of the books that his father wrote and that there is a group that seems to be bent of destroying him and who also seem to have been involved with other authors over the years, influencing their work to their own, mysterious ends.

Frankly, I had a hard time finishing this story. It was read for a graphic novel discussion group that I belong to, and found that I had lost interest about halfway through. I think the author is trying to drop too many mysteries all at one time into the story to make it intriguing, but I found it just made too many story threads to try to keep track of. One thing that I found particularly distracting was the final chapter of this collected edition, which tells who this mysterious group has been influencing authors for years. When I got to the last panel of the main story, and turned the page and discovered what seemed like an entirely disparate story going on, I actually thought there had been a mistake at the printer and that another entirely different graphic novel had been bound into the volume that I was reading. Once I figured out that this was telling a little back story, it made it a little more clear, but to finish out the novel in such a drastically different way really pulled me entirely out of a story that was already just barely keeping my interest. However, on the flip side of that, I'm interested to see how the map that is discovered that seems to link Tom Taylor to numerous physical landmarks that have some sort of tie to literary events (such as the house that all the main characters end up at the end of the book is the same house where Milton wrote Paradie Lost, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein and finally, supposedly Tom Taylor's father wrote the Tommy Taylor books here, too). This is the one aspect of the story that will bring me to getting the second volume, because I'd like to see how Carey works in other literary works into this story and how they will help Tom Taylor get out of his predicament.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Literary Questionnaire

1) What author do you own the most books by?
May Sarton. I have everything that she published with the exception of one book of poetry and one privately published book of poetry.

2) What book do you own the most copies of?
That would have to be a toss up between A Christmas Carol, Dracula or Alice in Wonderland

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
Didn't even notice.

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Apparently he hasn't been written yet.

5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children; i.e., Goodnight Moon does not count)?
It would have to be either Fannie Flagg's Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, Patrick Dennis' Auntie Mame or EM Forster's Howards End

6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
Probably whatever was the latest release in Piers Anthony's Xanth series. I loved those when I was a kid.

7) What is the worst book you've read in the past year?
Well, I hate to say it but it was probably Kazuo Ishiguro's Nocturnes, which I just finished. I can't remember being this disappointed in a book in a long while.

8) What is the best book you've read in the past year?
To be honest, there were far too many good books in the last year to list; I had a good streak of reading there for awhile. However, the most recent favorite for me is Gail Carriger's Soulless.

9) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
Auntie Mame, just because it makes me smile every single time I read it. Or if someone insisted on something with a little more literary clout, Howards End.

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?
I don't know that I'd be the best judge for that, seeing that I'm not that familiar with previous winners.

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
Jeff Smith's Bone. But it would have to be done just right, classical 2D animation, black and white, no deviation from the original story, but that would never happen, so I wouldn't want it ruined.

12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
I don't mind movie adaptations as long as they're well done.

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
Nothing off the top of my head. Usually, I just end up falling asleep reading a book, and then "continue" the story in my head as I'm dreaming, and then get confused when I go back to read the book the next morning and it's not the same story that I "remembered" reading the night before.

14) What is the most lowbrow book you've read as an adult?
Honestly, I know there's been something, but it left no impression on me, so I don't remember what it was.

15) What is the most difficult book you've ever read?
Giles Goat-Boy by John Barth. Shite. And I never finished it.

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've seen?
I know I caught several obscure plays when I lived in Florida, but they were so obscure, it escapes me right now which I saw.

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
French.

18) Roth or Updike?
Indifferent.

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
Don't like Sedaris, have never read Eggers.

20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
Shakespeare.

21) Austen or Eliot?
Austen

22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
Dickens and Austen - need more classics!! And nonfiction - I tend to shy away from nonfiction as the whole purpose for reading for me is to get away from the real world.

23) What is your favorite novel?
Tough. Still might have to stick with Fannie Flagg's Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. I read this during a very rough patch in my life, and it was the one shining aspect during that time, so it has always stuck with me.

24) Play?
“As You Like It" by Shakespeare

25) Poem?
Don't have a favorite, but anything by May Sarton will always resonate with me.

26) Essay?
Not a fan of essays.

27) Short story?
'20th Century Ghost' by Joe Hill

28) Work of nonfiction?
Again, I tend to shy away from nonfiction, but I'm trying to remedy that this year.

29) Who is your favorite writer?
If I have to pick just one, May Sarton.

30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
Stephanie Meyer. Or the kid that wrote Eragon. And I'll be honest here, I've not read any of the books by either of them, but if they are anything like the movies based on the books, no thank you. I'll pass.

31) What is your desert island book?
I never answer these questions, because if I only had one book to take with me, I'd read it a couple of times and eventually get so sick of it, I'd probably throw it into the ocean.

32) And... what are you reading right now?
The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers, and then I'm moving onto Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann and then probably Curse of the Mistwraith by Janny Wurts.

21. Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro

#21

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Title: Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 221
ISBN: 9780307271020
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Twitter: @AAKnopf
Format: Hardcover from library
Rating: 2/5 stars
Finished: 3-5-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10

From Amazon:
One of the most celebrated writers of our time gives us his first cycle of short fiction: five brilliantly etched, interconnected stories in which music is a vivid and essential character.

A once-popular singer, desperate to make a comeback, turning from the one certainty in his life... A man whose unerring taste in music is the only thing his closest friends value in him... A struggling singer-songwriter unwittingly involved in the failing marriage of a couple he’s only just met... A gifted, underappreciated jazz musician who lets himself believe that plastic surgery will help his career... A young cellist whose tutor promises to “unwrap” his talent...

Passion or necessity — or the often uneasy combination of the two — determines the place of music in each of these lives. And, in one way or another, music delivers each of them to a moment of reckoning: sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, sometimes just eluding their grasp.

An exploration of love, need, and the ineluctable force of the past,
Nocturnes reveals these individuals to us with extraordinary precision and subtlety, and with the arresting psychological and emotional detail that has marked all of Kazuo Ishiguro’s acclaimed works of fiction.

OK, I'm going to just come right out and say this: I did NOT like this book. I read Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day too many years ago to use that as a comparison, but I did read Never Let Me Go a couple of years back and that was one of my top books of 2008. Never Let Me Go stayed with me for weeks after I finished, the nuances and implications of the story were so powerful.

Quite frankly, the only reason that I finished Nocturnes was because I was so shocked that something so bad could come from the same person that wrote something as mesmerizing as Never Let Me Go. I didn't feel the stories were of Music and Nightfall, but more of Music and Nonsensical, Absurd, Totally Unrealistic Behaviors and Relationships. The connections between the stories was feeble at best, and the actions of some of the characters in the stories seemed so farcical that I wasn't sure if Ishiguro was trying to make the stories into parodies or if he seriously believes that people act the way they do in his stories - for instance, in one story, the main character, on the suggestion of his friend who he is staying with, trashes the living room of the house he is visiting and gets down on his hands and knees to start eating a magazine to make it look like a dog had been in the house, simply to hide the fact that the main character had wrinkled the page in his friend's wife's datebook - who does this?

It wasn't until the last story, Cellists, that I felt that he hit any kind of stride in his story telling, without having to rely on such extreme caricatures of human behavior to move his story along. The interactions between the main characters seemed genuine in this one story, not forced, and therefore became the only redeeming value to this book for me.

In my estimation, reader beware. Just because Ishiguro can write some amazing novels, it appears that he has a little work to do until he can polish up a proper short story.

20. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie

#20

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Title: Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Author: Dai Sijie
Copyright: 2001
Pages: 184
ISBN: 9780385722209
Publisher: Anchor Books
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 2-28-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, TIOLI (February Red Spine Challenge), 1010 Challenge (Fiction, General Category)

From Amazon:
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is an enchanting tale that captures the magic of reading and the wonder of romantic awakening. An immediate international bestseller, it tells the story of two hapless city boys exiled to a remote mountain village for re-education during China’s infamous Cultural Revolution. There the two friends meet the daughter of the local tailor and discover a hidden stash of Western classics in Chinese translation. As they flirt with the seamstress and secretly devour these banned works, the two friends find transit from their grim surroundings to worlds they never imagined.

I'm sorry it took me so long to get around to reading Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. It's been sitting on my shelf for quite some time now, and I kept hearing such good things about it, but there it sat all the same. It wasn't until it fit the criteria of a reading challenge on LibraryThing that this charming book finally made it's way into my hands to read.

I honestly wasn't sure what to expect from the story, but imagine my surprise to find a gently told story with a window into the inner workings of another country, in this case China during the time of Mao's "re-education" of the population. Our characters in the book don't rage against the changes and upheavals in their lives; they accept them and move on and do the best they can with the lot in life that had been handed them. It is also a book about the love of reading and the discovery of romance. Our unnamed narrator and his friend Luo, two young boys from the city, are moved to a mountain for their "re-education," where they make friends with Four-Eyes, who has a secret that could destroy all their lives, a hidden suitcase filled with Western books. These books have been outlawed and are therefore looked upon by our narrator and Luo with some amount of reverence, and they beg and bribe Four-Eyes for the chance to read some of the novels. Luo also meets and soon falls in love with a young seamstress in the next village over, and he begins to share the novels with her as well, as she has never had the opportunity to read these stories before, as her whole life had been spent living on the mountain. As each of these four characters begin to grow through their various forms of re-education, in the case of the city boys learning the ways of living in the country and of the little seamstress learning that there is so much more to life than her small village on the mountain, we watch each of them truly become their own person and begin to see the parts of the small beginnings of their lives.

The story held me entirely, until about 3/4 of the way through the book, where for three short sections, the narrator changes from our initial, nameless narrator to first an old miller who was encountered earlier in the story, then to Luo, then to the little seamstress, and then just as quickly we switch back to the nameless narrator from the beginning. This sudden and inexplicable switching of narrators for such a small portion of the story and for, what seemed to me, no good reason, really pulled me out of the story for a moment and it took me sometime before I could get back into the flow of the story. In a book this short, to be pulled out of the story so close to the end of the book was very discouraging.

The distraction in narrator change aside, Dai Sijie has created a little coming of age story of sorts that may have you surprised by who grows the most with the continuation of the story, as I was, as well as a window into a countries cultural upheaval and how some of its citizens dealt with such change. It's a charming and delightful little book that won't take much time to read, but whose characters will remain with you for a great deal longer. Highly recommended.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thursday Thoughts #4 - a nonexistent post


I'm taking a break from Thursday Thoughts this week. Lame, I know, since it's my little weekly to-do, but I've had a rough week and haven't really read that much. The Anubis Gates continues to entertain me, and I'm down the the last story in Nocturnes and nothing about this book impresses me. In fact, I'm a little surprised that it's by the same guy who has written The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go. I guess not every author can hit a home run every time. I'm not reading anything else right now, so don't really have a whole lot to talk about. I'm hoping after this weekend things get better and I'll have more to write about next week.

Book giveaway - Horns by Joe Hill

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I recently purchased a copy of Joe Hill's Horns as he will be doing a signing at a Borders close to where my sister lives in Maine (I live in Michigan) and since she's had his other books signed for me before, she offered to go ahead and head over to meet him again for me. So, I purchased Horns and the second volume of Locke & Key from Amazon and had them shipped to her.

Well, much to my surprise, last night I got home to a package from HarperCollins with a copy of Horns enclosed. I had attempted to get an ARC of the book months ago and shortly received an email back saying unfortunately they had run out of stock on the ARC, so I thought, no biggie, I'll just buy it when it comes out. And then I still got a brand new hardcover edition in the mail the week after I bought my copy and had it shipped to Maine.

So, long story not so short, HarperCollins' generosity to me becomes my generosity to you as I'll ship my extra copy of Horns to one of my readers. Just leave me a comment on this post for an entry, and if you blog about this giveaway, link back to the post, or mention it on Twitter or Facebook and just let me know and you'll get more entries. I'm going to leave this open until Friday, March 12, 2010. Unfortunately, I'll only be shipping to a US address as international shipping can just get a little too expensive and complicated.

Good luck and happy reading!

Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland Last Week

The following were the bestselling titles at independent bookstores in and around Chicago during the week ended Sunday, February 28:

Hardcover Fiction

1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
2. The Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell
3. Postmistress by Sarah Blake
4. Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler
5. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Hardcover Nonfiction

1. Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
2. Just Kids by Patti Smith
3. Staying True by Jenny Sanford
4. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
5. Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert

Paperback Fiction

1. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
2. A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
4. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
5. Drood by Dan Simmons

Paperback Nonfiction

1. Food Rules by Michael Pollan
2. The Lost City of Z by David Grann
3. Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler
4. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
5. American Thighs by Jill Conner Browne

Children's

1. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
2. Percy Jackson #3: Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
3. Hunger Games #2: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
4. Percy Jackson #1: Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #1 by Jeff Kinney

Reporting bookstore: Anderson's, Naperville and Downers Grove; Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock; the Book Table, Oak Park; the Book Cellar, Lincoln Square; Lake Forest Books, Lake Forest; the Bookstall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka; and 57th St. Books; Seminary Co-op; Women and Children First, Chicago.

[Many thanks to the booksellers and Carl Lennertz!]


From Shelf Awareness

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: I Still Dream About You: A Novel by Fannie Flagg

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that are eagerly anticipated.

My "can't-wait-to-read" selection for this week is:

I Still Dream About You: A Novel by Fannie Flagg

I have absolutely no clue what I Still Dream About You: A Novel is about. There is no information on Amazon right now other than a release date, but I'm already excited about the book. For those that may not know, Fannie Flagg wrote the book Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, and she also wrote the screenplay for the film version, Fried Green Tomatoes, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award in 1991. I have read everything that Fannie Flagg has written, and each book is just as enchanting and charming as the last. She is one of those authors that has never let me down.

As I find out more information about the book, I'll post it on my blog, but for right now, I'm still looking forward to this book more than anything else that I've heard of for the rest of the year so far.

I Still Dream About You: A Novel will be released on November 2, 2010 from Random House.