ANNOUNCEMENT
After a lot of thought, I've decided to take a break from blogging for the foreseeable future. With my little C creeping its way back into my life and possible long term treatment now, I need to take a couple of things off my plate for the time being, and the blog is going to be one of those things. As it is, it felt like it was becoming more of a chore than anything else. I need my reading time to be more enjoyable right now, more of the escape that I really need, and what I don't need is the little voice in the back of my head telling me how many reviews I'm behind and trying to come up with what I need to say about the book.

I simply want to read.

I'll more than likely occasionally post on here what I've been reading, and if there is something that really blows my mind, I'll probably have more to say about it and may write up a proper post, but for right now, things are going to be very quiet around here.

As always, happy reading!
2017 edit
I will continue to blog according to my health and ability, and connecting my posts thru Goodreads, so please be patient if things get quiet around here again this year.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

It was a dark and stormy night... Month o' Creepy Reading 2010

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Halloween may be my favorite holiday. Just the shear "funness" of it makes me smile, knowing it's coming up. Tramping through the pumpkin patch, looking for that perfect pumpkin. The slight chill in the air (and yes, all those people who give me grief about not liking the cold, I'm a Florida boy, remember, but I can appreciate the crispness of autumn) and sipping hot apple cider. Putting up the decorations. Buying candy for trick or treaters. Eating the candy. Buying more candy. It's a great time of year!

There are so many great creepy books out there that I decided this year I'm devoting the month of October to them; the books that keep you up at night, not just because they're good but because you don't want to turn the light off, just in case the Thing Under The Bed finally decides to come out and grab you.

My reading selections so far are:
  • Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge
  • The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb
  • Ghost Stories by Edith Wharton
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Neverland by Douglas Clegg
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
  • The Fall by Guillermo del Toro
  • Horns by Joe Hill
  • Necroscope by Brian Lumley


Do I think I'll get through all of these? Maybe. Some of them are fairly short. If I don't, I don't, but at least I know I've got a good selection to sufficiently creep me out for the entire month.

Do you plan on reading anything creepy this month? Post a comment and let us know!

Happy (creepy) reading!

Monday, September 27, 2010

I Read Banned Books! BBW 2010



Shocking, I know, but there it is. I read banned books. Scandalous!

Actually, I see nothing wrong with any of the books on the banned books list. To each their own, I guess. But when one person or organization starts to attack a book because it doesn't meet their requirement of what is proper for the masses in general, well that just starts to rub me the wrong way. If you don't agree with a book, then don't read it. Plain and simple. Don't make others suffer for your fear or ignorance over the subject.

I think in many cases, if a book is touching on a subject that someone may find objectionable because of the subject matter and what their children may get out of it, use it as a source of conversation between you and your child. Read the book first, then read it with your child and talk with them over any questions they may have. Don't deny them the opportunity to read the book because number one, that would make them want to read it all the more (nothing will pique a kid's interest more than something that they are not allowed) and number two, because it makes you uncomfortable. Maybe you'll learn something along with your kid.

Books are great! They open whole new worlds, every single day. It makes me mad that a small, select group of people want to deny others this joy simply because they don't agree with the subject matter. I often wonder if they've actually read the books that they want banned, or if they are simply suffering from a knee-jerk reaction to the subject matter. Again I say, if you don't like the book, don't read it. Simple as that. Or maybe, read it, and broaden your understanding.
I read banned books. And I'm proud of that fact!

For more information about Banned Books Week, visit www.ala.org/bbooks.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

81. The Painted Darkness by Brian James Freeman

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#81

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Title: The Painted Darkness
Author(s): Brian James Freeman
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 173
Publisher: Cemetery Dance Publications
Author Website: www.brianjamesfreeman.com
Format: ARC Paperback
Available: November 9, 2010
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Finished: 9-26-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Fiction category)

A nice, creepy little book that would probably be good to read on a dark and stormy night. Look for my review on November 7, 2010, just before publication.

Sunday Salon 26 IX 2010: a return to the Salon


Good morning, fellow Salon Members! Can it really have been so long since I last posted a Salon post? Almost a year? Unfortunately, it is all too possible and all too real. I've had a long year, so far. No excuses, that's just the way it is.

Several things have changed for from my bookshelf... this year; a new look and a new domain name (www.frommybookshelf.com) among the most notable. I'm just trying to streamline my blog and make it more user friendly. I had an interesting discussion with a friend about my blog the other night, and he was wondering how much money I made off of this, and I told him nothing. I use the Amazon links at the bottom of every post (and will begin using an independent bookstore's links as well), but in the 2+ years that I've run my blog, I've received one $10 payment from Amazon. I don't do this for any kind of money. I do it for me. It's a way for me to keep track of what I'm reading and to connect to other readers out there and to authors and to share my feelings about books, and that's always been the sole reasoning for this blog. And lately, I've been wanting to make it better.

So, to that end, I'm running a contest right now to gain followers, and you can read more about that here.

Another feature that I added just last week and one that I'm going to try to keep to every week is the Fragment Friday meme hosted by James at Book Chic Club. You can see my first contribution here and read more about Fragment Friday.

So, then that's about it for this Sunday Salon. I'd have far too many great books to talk about since my last Salon (which was almost a year ago, I'm ashamed to say). I'd love it if you checked out my reviews (there is a list of all books that I've reviewed so far this year in the column on the right) and share your thoughts with me if there are any books that we've both read this year. I'll also be posting up a recap of getting to meet Emma Donoghue from earlier this week later today.

Until next week, everyone, happy reading!

Friday, September 24, 2010

New Domain Name

Hi, kids!

Just a quick note to let you know I've purchased www.frommybookshelf.com for my blog. Don't worry. It'll have the same great content as before, just a shorter web site name now.

The old blogspot domain should continue to redirect you here, as well, so no worries.

Happy reading!

Joining the Steampunk Challenge!


Rikki at The Bookkeeper is starting a Steampunk Challenge, and since this is easily becoming a favorite genre for me, I thought this was something that wouldn't really be a challenge for me, after all. Besides, the Challenge is running for an entire year (from October to October), so I think I'll be able to read plenty of Steampunk goodness!

So, what is Steampunk, you ask? Well, according to Rikki, the New Oxford American Dictionary defines Steampunk as
a genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology.

There are quite a few great up and coming authors who are really making something of this genre: Cherie Priest, Gail Carriger and Scott Westerfeld, just to name a few. Rikki has left a great recommendation list in the original post, if you need some help deciding what to read next!

Happy reading, everyone!

Fragment Friday (1): Room by Emma Donoghue

Welcome to my first edition of Fragment Friday, a weekly meme hosted by James from Book Chic Club, where we vlog a small snippet from a current read. My excerpt this week is from Room by Emma Donoghue. Room is available now from Little, Brown and Company, and comes highly recommended!

Please excuse the poor sound quality. After 6 tries (yes, 6 tries - this is the first time I've done this!), this is the best that I had. I promise that it will be better next week! You've got to start somewhere, right?



For those who view via a reader that strips out the video you can click here to see on YouTube or copy and paste this URL into your browser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZumWS9Eb6c

I hope you enjoyed this weeks fragment! Until next week, happy reading!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Happy Unbirthday from Irish to You!

My friend and fellow book blogger Gail (from Ticket to Anywhere fame) is celebrating her birthday today, but is giving us a present instead! Stop by, fill out the entry form for a chance at a $33 gift card to Amazon or the Book Depository and don't forget to wish her a happy birthday!!

Clash of the Geeks!!

I admit it. I stole this right off the email that SubPress emailed me this morning, but my mom suffers from Lupus, and I think it's going to an excellent cause!

Wil Wheaton, John Scalzi and Subterranean Press are proud to announce the publication of CLASH OF THE GEEKS, a special and fantastical electronic chapbook. It features stories by Wheaton, Scalzi, New York Times bestseller Patrick Rothfuss, Norton Award winner and Hugo Best Novel nominee Catherynne M. Valente, Hugo and Nebula Award nominee Rachel Swirsky, and others, and is for the benefit of the Michigan/Indiana affiliate of the Lupus Alliance of America.

The chapbook is available in multiple DRM-free electronic formats at unicornpegasuskitten.com. It is free to download, but voluntary payment is strongly encouraged, via Paypal or by tax-deductible donation, with links to both provided at the unicornpegasuskitten.com Web site. All proceeds from this chapbook will go to the Michigan/Indiana affiliate of the Lupus Alliance of America.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

80. Room by Emma Donoghue

#80

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Title: Room
Author: Emma Donoghue
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 321
ISBN: 9780316098335
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Author Website: www.emmadonoghue.com
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 5/5 stars
Finished: 9-19-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Fiction Category)
Awards: Man Booker Prize Shortlist 2010

From Amazon:
To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack,
Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

For five year old Jack, there has never been anything other than Room and Ma. He was born in Room, he's lived his entire life in Room, he has never left Room. Ever. It is his home. However, for Ma, it has been a prison for the last seven years, a place where she has been held captive by Old Nick. It is also where she keeps Jack safe, but even she knows they'll have to escape eventually. It is going to have to be a daring plan, one that requires all of Jack's bravery to deal with the Outside, a place that he has never ventured into. But if they actually get to the Outside, how will Jack deal with discovering that there truly is another outside world that he has never known about.

Told entirely from Jack's point of view, Room is unlike anything that I have read. To look at life through the eyes of a child who has never experienced anything beyond the 11 x 11 foot dimension of his confines is amazing. Things that we would take utterly for granted are utterly new and strange to him. It is a sometimes refreshing and frightening perspective, and one that is entirely unique.

Sometimes I found Jack to be a little too intelligent for never having experienced anything outside of Room and Ma (we never discover her real name) seems to have a little bit too much insight on how to care for Jack and the things that he needs to stay healthy for someone who was kidnapped at 19 and no contact with the outside world or guidance on how to raise a child. For instance, knowing that they need time to sunbathe from the light coming through the skylight so that they have a tolerance for sunlight or having Jack focus on things close and then far away (the roof) to help strengthen his eyes seem, at least to me, a little too far fetched for someone in Ma's situation to inherently understand.

These technicalities aside, Room is still an astounding book and one that I couldn't put down. Ma's love for Jack, even when she is at her wit's end with him, and Jack's returned love for Ma, even when he is angry with her and doesn't always understand her reasons for what she does, is evident on every page. Emma Donoghue balances just the right amounts of hope, pathos, suspense and relief to make Room an engaging story without taking any of these elements too far.

Highly Recommended.

Friday, September 17, 2010

My one little contribution to BBAW 2010

So, I'm scrolling through my FB newsfeed this morning, and as I'm skimming through the posts, I stop and realize that I'm looking at a picture of me! The wonderful Meg Waite Clayton (author of The Wednesday Sisters, one of my top reads of 2008) has shared a short blog post on the importance of book bloggers to the success of The Wednesday Sisters. And while this may seem a little self-serving (Meg says I'm handsome! #blush - and I'm equally glad to be able to call her a friend, as well), I thought it was great insight from a published author on the importance of book bloggers in general. Happy reading, everyone!

The "I Want Followers" Contest! Win a Signed Copy of Brunonia Barry's The Lace Reader

So, I'm a greedy individual. I see all the loverly followers on some of my fellow book blogger's websites, and I think to myself, I want that! I want followers. Lots and lots of followers. (See? I am greedy like that!)

So, here's the deal. You follow me, I give you a chance to win a signed copy of Brunonia Barry's The Lace Reader. (See? I'm generous, too!) If you post this on your blog, another entry! If you tweet it, another entry! If you recommend my blog to someone, and they follow me and leave a post saying you recommended the blog, another entry! And if you are already one of my loyal followers, you're automatically entered into the contest once. All I need from you is to leave a comment saying you've followed, blogged or tweeted, and I'll throw your name in the hat the appropriate number of times. I'm not going to go checking on all of these, so we're just going on the honor system here, kids.

If I start to get lots and lots of followers, I'll probably throw something else in to sweeten the deal; let's say, a $10 B&N gift card if I hit 50 followers or a $20 B&N gift card if I hit 100 followers, to be given out to a 2nd winner. So, you could potentially win both! Help me out here, kids! I want followers!! I'm going to leave this open for... a month? Does that sound good? Yeah, the contest will be open until October 15, 2010. Good luck!




And now the small print: I'll ship the book internationally, but I don't know if the B&N gift cards will work internationally or not, so the gift cards will only be available to US winners.

79. Insults and Comebacks for All Occasions

#79

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Title: Insults and Comebacks for All Occasions
Related Series: Lines for All Occasions
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 112
Publisher: Knock Knock Books
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 3/5 stars
Finished: 9-15-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10

From Amazon:
There's a time and a place for saying what's really on your mind, and Insults & Comebacks for All Occasions provides verbatim lines for dishing it out with wit and verve. Armed with barbs targeting everything from looks to age to intelligence to character, you'll always be prepared with an appropriate or completely inappropriate put-down or comeback. With the help of this pocket-sized prompter, your reputation will soon precede you.

OK, I'm going to admit that this book was simply purchased on a whim with no other basis than the silliness of it. The book is put together very attractively (it looks like an older book, with no dust jacket and the name foil stamped directly onto the front board in a retro font) but, really, the matter is very subjective. It is exactly what the title says it is, a collection of insults to use in everyday conversation and some are funny and some are not, and the whole thing written entirely tongue in cheek. I can't really recommend this to anybody, except people who like some good sarcasm, and even then only thinly recommended.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

78. The Kragen by Jack Vance

#78

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Title: The Kragen
Author: Jack Vance
Copyright: 1969 (2007)
Pages: 107
ISBN: 9781596061514
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 3/5 stars
Finished: 9-12-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (SciFi Category)

Yet another find from the Subterranean Press grab bag. The Kragen is a novella written in 1964 which Jack Vance eventually expanded into The Blue World and published in 1966. The kragen are squid-like nautical beasts that roam the oceans and terrorize the populace of the Floats (a village built on large lily pad-like vegetation), humans who were brought to this new world after they escaped from their original world. Even though it is never explicitly stated, I'm fairly certain the ship that the original colonists used to get to the new world was a prison ship, and that the ancestors of the current populace were criminals; the reasoning behind this is the caste system that is used for the new population with names such as Bezzlers, Hoodwinks and Counterfeiters. After several generations on this new world which has no land and is nothing but one large ocean, the populace has created a rather strict system of governing themselves. They have also developed something of a religion based around King Kragen, the largest kragen, who protects the Floats from other smaller kragen.

After one kragen attack too many, Sklar Hast, a Hoodwink of some repute, has decided that they have lived under the tyranny of the kragen, and especially King Kragen, long enough, and decides to kill a smaller kragen, which has never been done before. After King Kragen exacts revenge on the Float and the governing body of the Floats wants to punish those responsible, Sklar Hast and his fellow sympathizers decide to set out to find new Floats and to set up a new life for themselves and to discover a way to kill King Kragen and take back their own lives.

This is a fairly quick read, a little slow to get into, but once the action starts it's fairly consistent. Fairly. It does seem to drag a little in parts, and the ending just seems so non-committal, I couldn't believe that was it. My first impression was that the story definitely needed to be longer, and upon discovering that it was, in fact, expanded into a longer novel makes me want to go pick that up to see how Vance grew the story, hopefully with a more fulfilling ending.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

77. D.A. by Connie Willis

#77

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Title: D.A.
Author: Connie Willis
Copyright: 2007
Pages: 76
ISBN: 9781596061200
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Author Website: www.conniewillis.net
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 3/5 stars
Finished: 9-11-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (SciFi Category)

From Amazon:
Theodora Baumgarten has just been selected as an IASA space cadet, and therein lies the problem. She didn't apply for the ultra-coveted posting, and doesn't relish spending years aboard the ship to which she's been assigned.

But the plucky young heroine, in true Heinlein fashion, has no plans to go along with the program. Aided by her hacker best friend Kimkim, in a screwball comedy that has become Connie Wills' hallmark, Theodora will stop at nothing to uncover the conspiracy that has her shanghaied.

This is another book that I received in my Subterranean Press grabbag from a couple weeks back, and while is something that I would never have picked up on my own, it was a fun, quick little read. Theodora Baumgarten is accepted to the IASA, the Academy that teaches new cadets to become astronauts. The only problem is, she never wanted to go to the IASA and never applied. So, how did she get in? Some clever hacking from her friend Kimkim finally reveals the answer and Theodora is left to make some big decisions about her life.

This is my first experience reading Connie Willis and it wasn't bad, but I certainly need to find something a little longer that I can really sink my teeth into. I really can't recommend or not recommend this book. It just is.

76. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

#76

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Title: Mockingjay
Related Series: The Final Book of The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 391
ISBN: 9780439023511
Publisher: Scholastic
Author Website: suzannecollinsbooks.com
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Finished: 9-9-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Fiction category)

From Amazon:
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.

OK, so I'm not going to go into a bunch of detail about the actual story, because I don't think I could really talk about anything that wouldn't require huge spoiler tags throughout the entire post, so I'm just going to stick with talking about my general impressions of the book. Keep in mind, however, that there could still be what might be considered spoilers.

Like everybody who has been reading The Hunger Games, I'm sure I wasn't alone in the excitement of the release of the final installment in the story. I even waited until I had an entire day where I could sit down and devote all the time I needed to read the book in one sitting. I got myself all psyched to reenter the world of Katniss Everdeen. Would it be Peeta? Would it be Gale? Would the Capital fall?

Well...

So, I may or may not catch crap from the rest of the reading world over this, but I found the book to only be mildly engaging. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely couldn't wait to see how the story was going to end, but the book was not unputdownable. I was easily able to set the book aside and come back to it later. Some portions of the story seemed to be far too overplayed (3 pages to explain a song that Katniss's father used to sing to her?) and other portions far too underplayed (1 dismissive paragraph about Katniss's new bow, which seems to be alive, yet no further explanation is ever given). And ending every single chapter with a shocking last sentence got a little tedious by the end of the book.

Speaking of the ending of the book. A good indicator for me about the lack of investment in the story was when I got down to about 20-30 pages left of the book, and I was tired the night I was finishing it, and I didn't even really care to try to stay awake to see what happened. And what did happen? All the action seems to take place while Katniss is in a delirium (I don't think I'm actually giving an important plot point away here) and we, the audience, find out what happened in the background through piecemeal flashbacks. Honestly, it felt like the book could have ended earlier and a fourth novella been released as the ending (Suzanne Collins probably would have loved this idea - the ultimate cliffhanger ending that she seems all too eager to write) since I don't think a fourth full length book could have supported the ending, or Mockingjay could have been longer. I got the impression that she needed to end the book under so many pages, so basically just wrote off what happened in the end like she did just to make it fit in the space her editors gave her. Who knows, but the ending of the book was something of a letdown to me. Too easily dismissive (not only in the storytelling but also in how some characters were dealt with) and too anticlimactic for my liking.

Don't get me wrong. Mockingjay is good. It finishes the story and leaves no plot points dangling, but compared to the previous two books (especially Catching Fire), it doesn't quite live up to it's predecessors. If you're a fan of the the Hunger Games and Catching Fire, you'll definitely want to read Mockingjay. Just don't go in with too high expectations.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Boundaries by Penelope Przekop Final Update

Penelope Przekop, author of Aberrations, one of my top reads of 2008, has updated her new "novel in posts", Boundaries, with the final update today. Read it sooner than later, because she's pulling it all down on October 1, 2010.

To learn more about Penelope Przekop's novel, Boundaries, and to start reading at the beginning, go here!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

2010 Hugo Award Winners Announced

The winners of the 2010 Hugo Awards have been announced.

Both winning novels have been on my radar for awhile now, so I think it's time I picked them up.

Man Booker Prize 2010 Shortlist

The Man Booker Prize 2010 Shortlist has been announced.

I'm excited that I'll be getting to meet Emma Donoghue at my local Schuler Books later this month for her Shorlisted book, Room.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

75. Dick and Jane and Vampires by Laura Marchesani, illustrated by Tommy Hunt

#75

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Title: Dick and Jane and Vampires
Authors: Laura Marchesani, illustrated by Tommy Hunt
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 144
ISBN: 9780448455686
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap
Author Website: N/A
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Finished: 8-27-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Fantasy (?) category)

From Amazon:
When innocent Dick and Jane meet a creepy, cape-wearing vampire, the unexpected happens: he becomes their friend! Dick and Jane and Vampires borrows from the classic stories and art we all know and love, but adds an of-the-moment twist: a vampire, illustrated in the classic Dick and Jane style.

Looking for your next great dose of the supernatural? Thinking Twilight? Forget it. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? Nope. No, what you need is a good, old-fashioned selection. Something like Dick and Jane and Vampires.

...Wait, what?

Yeah, that was my first thought, too, when I saw the solicit for this book on ShelfAwareness. I also knew at that moment that this was a book that I was just going to have to own. And I was right. It reads exactly like a Dick and Jane, but it's not. It's one of the more clever literary mash-ups that I've seen recently.

Dick and Jane discover a bat one day. The bat never stays around for very long, but starts to become bolder and bolder in its attempts to interact with the children, and eventually reveals itself to be a vampire! Dick and Jane and family and the vampire grow more and more comfortable with each other, and even become friends. While this was not the ending that I was expecting (to be honest, I really was anticipating something more malicious with the children becoming vampires themselves), I still found the story quite funny. The writing is spot-on for a Dick and Jane, and you would have thought the illustrations were actual originals from the time, if not for the inclusion of the vampire. All around, a very clever and totally tongue in cheek little volume that is perfectly presented and doesn't take itself too seriously.

74. Dangerous Neighbors by Beth Kephart

#74

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Title: Dangerous Neighbors
Author: Beth Kephart
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781606840801
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Author Website: Beth Kephart Books
Format: ARC Paperback
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 8-26-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Fiction category)

From Amazon:
It is 1876, the year of the Centennial in Philadelphia. Katherine has lost her twin sister Anna in a tragic skating accident. One wickedly hot September day, Katherine sets out for the exhibition grounds to cut short the haunted life she no longer wants to live.

Filled with vivid detail that artfully brings the past to life, National Book Award nominee Beth Kepart's
Dangerous Neighbors is a timeless and finely crafted novel about betrayal and guilt, hope and despair, love, loss, and new beginnings.

Beth Kephart continues to impress me more and more with her young adult novels. Her ability to pull so much nuance into a story with such ease of language is beautiful. I'd love to spend a day in her head, just to see the world through her eyes; it must be an amazing place to behold. She can create such vivid images and emotions, with the simplest language possible, and every page is filled with more and more. If you haven't had the privilege of reading anything by Beth Kephart, might I recommend Dangerous Neighbors?

The year is 1876, and Philadelphia is celebrating the Centennial with an Exposition. Katherine has also just lost her twin sister, Anna, and is trying to determine how best to leave this world and be with her sister. It is a decision that doesn't seem to have come to her easily, but one that seems unavoidable. After spending her whole life being Anna's protector, she feels that she is responsible for Anna's death.

However, do to a series of circumstances that seem beyond her control as she is thrust into situations with people around her who seem to want to distract her from her goal, she begins to realize that maybe there is more still to look forward to in this life. These people, the "dangerous neighbors" who float on the sidelines of her life, some who she knows, some who are strangers to her, help to draw her back to her herself.

I believe that everyone who reads Beth Kephart's books will each walk away with something different. This can be said with any book, really, but there seems to be an ethereal element to her books that really lend themselves to individual interpretation and understanding. She doesn't challenge her readers directly but subtly, to think about each story and the implications of that story. Do yourself a favor. Read Dangerous Neighbors. You won't be sorry.

73. X-Force, Vol 2: Old Ghosts by Christopher Yost & Craig Kyle, illustrated by Mike Choi & Sonia Oback

#73

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Title: X-Force, Vol 2: Old Ghosts
Related Series: X-Men
Authors: Christopher Yost & Craig Kyle, illustrated by Mike Choi & Sonia Oback
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 120
ISBN: 9780785129776
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3/5 stars
Finished: 8-24-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic novel category)

From Amazon:
X-Force is still reeling from the aftermath of their first mission, but there's no rest for the wicked. Mutantkind's enemies have multiplied, but Cyclops has a new target for his black-ops team, and even X-Force doesn't believe who they're going after next! Superstar artists Mike Choi and Sonia Oback are on board as one of the X-Men's oldest foes returns! Collects X-Force #7-11.

This current version of X-Force is far more deadlier than any incarnation in the past, and this second volume does nothing to disprove that fact. After the less than successful events of their first mission, X-Force is sent off after a villain from the X-Men's past, who seems to have gotten his hands on a strain of the Legacy Virus. Domino finds herself in the wrong/right place at the wrong/right time, and gets involved with the mission, as well. To top it all off, Wolfsbane is still brainwashed and Archangel is still psychotic and Cyclops is beginning to think that the problems that X-Force is having may be more than they can handle internally, and he feels the need to call in some help from the students. And what does Selene have to do with the story? New plot threads leading up to Necrosha-X! Overall, not a bad second volume to this new series.

Boundaries by Penelope Przekop Update #26

Penelope Przekop, author of Aberrations, one of my top reads of 2008, has updated her new "novel in posts", Boundaries, today.

To learn more about Penelope Przekop's novel, Boundaries, and to start reading at the beginning, go here!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

72. X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga by Chris Claremont & John Byrne

#72

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Title: X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga
Related Series: X-Men
Authors: Chris Claremont & John Byrne
Copyright: 2010 (1980)
Pages: 352
ISBN: 9780785149132
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 5/5 stars
Finished: 8-21-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic novel category)

I'm going to admit to a small love affair with this story. It may be completely dated, but to me it remains one of the most defining X-Men stories. Ever.

Back in the day, the Chris Claremont and John Byrne run on X-Men was one of the most exciting eras in the comic's history. Quite a bit of what we see happening in the X-Men stories of today are direct results of what these two men did with the characters back then, and nothing seemed to be bigger during that time than the Dark Phoenix Saga. Jean Grey had been reborn as Phoenix after saving her teammates at the apparent cost of her own life. It quickly became clear that her powers had grown tremendously, and seemed to continue growing exponentially. Eventually, through the manipulations of Mastermind, the true overwhelming potential of her power became evident and Dark Phoenix was born, a being with powers of a cosmic proportion. To sate her hunger, she consumed a star, causing it to go supernova and destroying an inhabited world. Upon arriving back to Earth, the X-Men attacked Jean and tried to diffuse her power. When they were unable to accomplish this, Professor X took matters in his own hands and challenged Dark Phoenix on the psychic level, and won, supposedly locking Dark Phoenix back away in Jean's mind. However at that moment, in order to pay for her transgressions, Lilandra kidnapped the X-Men and sentenced Phoenix to death. Professor X challenged his X-Men against Lilandra's Imperial Guard for the life of Jean Grey, and both teams were sent to the Blue Area of the moon to battle. During the course of the battle, Jean began to feel Dark Phoenix taking control, and instead of allowing that to happen and to have more blood on her hands, she decides to take her own life, thus ending the battle.

There were so many other great moments in this storyline: the introduction of Emma Frost, the Hellfire Club, Kitty Pryde, Dazzler. All of this was paving the road for some great stories through the rest of the 80s. Like I said before, it it definitely dated. The need to re-introduce a characters name and their power and/or weakness, ever single issue, becomes even more tiring when you're reading a collected edition like this, but even so, I still love to pull this off the shelf every couple of years to give it a reread. This new 30th Anniversary Edition is gorgeous, and the coloring is nice and crisp.

Now, for the only complaint about the collection: charging $75 for this edition is ridiculous. The two Inferno collections cost $75 each, and they each collect roughly 600 pages of story each, where The Dark Phoenix Saga is only 350 pages. To me, this is something of a ripoff. This new edition does collect a short story from Classic X-Men and Bizarre Adventures, the Phoenix: The Untold Story one-shot (which is the original version of the story where Jean Grey lives) and a What If? story about what would have happened if Jean Grey lived, but still, $75 is a steep price for this collection. It is so nicely presented that I can almost forgive them the price, but just barely; obviously, it didn't stop me from buying the edition.

I would highly recommend this edition to any X-Men fans, but for somebody who is just looking for a quick read and is not as interested in all the extras with this edition, spend the lesser money and get the trade paperback edition. This edition is really only for the hard-core fans.

Gail Carriger's Blameless released today!

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Happy publication day to Gail Carriger for her book, Blameless. Look for my review later this week.

Boundaries by Penelope Przekop Update #25

Penelope Przekop, author of Aberrations, one of my top reads of 2008, has updated her new "novel in posts", Boundaries, today.

To learn more about Penelope Przekop's novel, Boundaries, and to start reading at the beginning, go here!