Coming soon! A brand new From My Bookshelf experience.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Saying Goodbye to 2011

I'm packaging up 2011 into a little box, wrapping it in shiny paper so it doesn't look quite so lackluster, putting a modest bow on top, setting it on the shelf and leaving it be. 2011 was not a stellar year for me, either with reading or my personal life. I'm anxiously looking forward to 2012. I'm moving into a new place of my own. In moving, I've been putting my hands on ALL of my books and I've come to realize that I've got some really fantastic books that I've never read. To that end, and I know I've said this before but given the new situation with moving and not having as much disposable income as I had before, I'm going to try my best to put a moratorium on buying new books, for at least the first of the year. The usual loopholes apply: book signings, eBay special finds, some graphic novels, my Oz collection.

Now for the stats for 2011:
Favorites of 2011
January - Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
February - The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
March - Wither, the Chemical Garden Trilogy, Book 1 by Lauren DeStefano
April Too many good books this month, so I've got THREE top picks for April! - The Four Ms. Bradwells by Meg Waite Clayton, Hounded: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book 1 by Kevin Hearne, Delirium by Lauren Oliver
May - Untitled by My Anonymous Cousin
June - Centerpieces by Penelope Przekop
July - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
August - Push by Sapphire
September - The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
October - Hotel Angeline
November - The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
December - Fever, the Chemical Garden Trilogy, Book 2 by Lauren DeStefano

Books Read: 76
Pages Read: 16278

Breakdown per month
JAN - 9 - 1387
FEB - 7 - 1308
MAR - 2 - 550
APR - 11 - 2947
MAY - 1 - 167
JUN - 1 - 179
JUL - 9 - 1756
AUG - 6 - 1070
SEP - 4 - 1442
OCT - 5 - 1470
NOV - 12 - 2122
DEC - 9 - 1880
TTL - 76 - 16278

The silver lining that I had after such a dreadful reading year is that almost every book I read this year I enjoyed. So, if I'm going to read such a small amount of books, at least I got to enjoy every one of them!

As for 2012, I have high hopes. I'm not participating in any challenges this year, as I feel this is always one of the places that I falter the most each and every year. The only "challenge" that I'm participating in is one of my own, and that's reading the entire oeuvre of May Sarton's printed works. This year would have been her centennial birthday, so I thought it was fitting that I read her entire printed works in one year. As I own them all, this shouldn't be too problematic. I'll also be attending the Sarton Centennial Symposium in York, ME in May this year, and am looking forward to that.

Otherwise, I'm just focusing on reading what I've got. I'd like most of my reading this year to come from books on my shelf. So many have been sitting there for so long, neglected and unread, gathering dust, desperate to be read. I must attend to these book needs before I start to give my library a complex!

So, there it is. My 2011 recap and a look forward to 2012. I hope you're looking forward to the new year as much as I am! Happy reading!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fever by Lauren DeStefano


Title: Fever
Series: The Chemical Garden Trilogy, Book 2
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Copyright: 2012
Pages: 341
ISBN: 9781442409071
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
Author Website:
Twitter: @LaurenDeStefano, @SimonTEEN
Format: ARC provided from publisher
Available: 2-21-12
Rating: 5/5 stars

Product Description From Amazon:
Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but they’re still in danger. Outside, they find a world even more disquieting than the one they left behind. Determined to get to Manhattan and to find Rhine’s twin brother Rowan, the two press forward, amidst threats of being captured again... or worse.

The road they are on is long and perilous—and in a world where young women only live to age 20 and men die at age 25, time is precious. In this sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing
Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price—now that she has more to lose than ever.

I finished Lauren DeStefano's Fever Sunday night. You can expect a proper review closer to release date, but I can say, right now, put this on your radar. And if you haven't read Wither yet, go out and pick it up (the paperback was just released, and from what I understand also includes a teaser of Fever). I'm not going to lie, I wasn't sure what to make of Wither when I read it (check out my review here), but Fever totally sucked me in and wouldn't let me go. I read it in 2 sittings, and for those of you keeping track around here lately, that says something because I haven't been reading much of anything. Lauren DeStefano successfully made me a fan with Fever and I'm really looking forward to the release of book three to see how she wraps everything up.

Highly recommended!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday Salon 4 XII 2011 - setting aside 2011, will be back in 2012

The Sunday

Good morning, fellow Salon Members! It's seems almost ridiculous at this point to be posting a Sunday Salon of this nature. This has been a very challenging year for me personally, and unfortunately From My Bookshelf has had to suffer as a result. I'm not going to go into details, because first and foremost I'm sure many of you honestly don't care, but secondly it was all things happening in my life that need not be anybody else's concern but my own. BUT, I do miss the sense of community that we bloggers have, and I want to become integrated in that again. So, in that spirit, I'm wrapping up 2011 now, putting a pretty bow on it and shelving it. I'm moving into a new home on January 1, 2012, and I'm looking at that as an opportunity to start fresh and new. From My Bookshelf will come back stronger than ever, but for right now, for my peace of mind, I need to just let it be for the next month and not think about it.

I hope those of you still left reading my little blog have a happy and safe holiday season, and as always, happy reading!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Literacy PSA

I saw this on the TV at the doctor's office the other day and thought it was great and wanted to share it here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

75 is the new 100

So..... not that I'm really giving any credence to the possibility of me actually reaching any reading goal this year, I'm changing my reading goal from 100 to 75. I know it's practically cheating, being this far into the year to decide a change like that, but I'm a sucker for trying to keep to goals, and if I have a more reasonable number to try to achieve, there is a more likelihood that I won't just throw my hands up in despair and walk away from the whole thing.

So, 75 is the new 100 around From My Bookshelf these days.

The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss


Title: The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories
Author: Dr. Seuss
Copyright: 2011
Pages: 72
ISBN: 9780375864353
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Author Website:
Twitter: @seussville, @randomhousekids
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4/5 stars

Product Description From Amazon:
It's the literary equivalent of buried treasure! Seuss scholar/collector Charles D. Cohen has hunted down seven rarely seen stories by Dr. Seuss. Originally published in magazines between 1948 and 1959, they include "The Bear, the Rabbit, and the Zinniga-Zanniga " (about a rabbit who is saved from a bear with a single eyelash!); "Gustav the Goldfish" (an early, rhymed version of the Beginner Book A Fish Out of Water); "Tadd and Todd" (a tale passed down via photocopy to generations of twins); "Steak for Supper" (about fantastic creatures who follow a boy home in anticipation of a steak dinner); "The Bippolo Seed" (in which a scheming feline leads an innocent duck to make a bad decision); "The Strange Shirt Spot" (the inspiration for the bathtub-ring scene in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back); and "The Great Henry McBride" (about a boy whose far-flung career fantasies are only bested by those of the real Dr. Seuss himself).

In an introduction to the collection, Cohen traces the history of these stories, which demonstrate an intentional and significant change that led to the writing style we associate with Dr. Seuss today. Cohen also explores these stories' themes that recur in better-known Seuss stories (like the importance of the imagination, or the perils of greed). With a color palette that has been enhanced beyond the limitations of the original magazines in which they appeared, this is a collection of stories that no Seuss fan (whether scholar or second-grader) will want to miss!

I've loved Dr. Seuss since I was a child. I'm sure at one point or another, I've read every Seuss book available (and own most of them), so when I heard that there was going to be a "new" collection of stories published, both me and my inner child squealed in delight! The stories are taken from magazines that were published between the mid 1940s to late 1950s, and hadn't really been seen since these magazines had originally been published.

These stories are quite clearly from early on in Dr. Seuss' writing career. They carry his inherit flare and whit that is prominent in all his writing, but they don't quite carry the "lesson learned" aspect that he became known for. Not that these elements aren't in these stories (such as "The Bippolo Seed," which deals with the dangers of greed), but they are only there marginally. It seems to me that Dr. Seuss wrote these tales more for pleasure and fun than really trying to bestow any kind of wisdom to his young readers as he would in his later books.

If you're a fan of Dr. Seuss I'd highly recommend this book. The drawings have been reproduced in a color palette that wasn't available to magazine's of the time, but matches perfectly with the colors used in his published books. The foreword by renowned Seuss scholar, Charles Cohen (who tracked down each of the stories in the collection), is a fascinating look into the history around when each of the story's were written and helps show how Dr. Suess helped change how books were written for children. This is a real treat for any Seuss fan!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hotel Angeline: A Novel in 36 Voices


Title: Hotel Angeline: A Novel in 36 Voices
Authors: Kathleen Alcala, Matthew Amster-Burton, Kit Bakke, Erica Bauermeister, Sean Beaudoin, David Boling, Deb Caletti, Carol Cassella, Maria Dahvana Headley, William Dietrich, Robert Dugoni, Kevin Emerson, Karen Finneyfrock, Jamie Ford, Clyde W. Ford, Elizabeth George, Mary Gutterson, Teri Hein, Stephanie Kallos, Erik Larson, Stacey Levine, Frances McCue, Jarret Middleton, Peter Mountford, Kevin O'Brien, Julia Quinn, Nancy Rawles, Suzanne Selfors, Jennie Shortridge, Ed Skoog, Garth Stein, Greg Stump and David Laskey, Indu Sundaresan, Craig Welch, Susan Wiggs
Copyright: 2011
Pages: 337
ISBN: 9781453215319
Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media
Twitter: @openroadmedia
Format: ebook
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Product Description From Amazon:
Thirty-six of the most interesting writers in the Pacific Northwest came together for a week-long marathon of writing live on stage. The result? Hotel Angeline, a truly inventive novel that surprises at every turn of the page.

Something is amiss at the Hotel Angeline, a rickety former mortuary perched atop Capitol Hill in rain-soaked Seattle. Fourteen-year-old Alexis Austin is fixing the plumbing, the tea, and all the problems of the world, it seems, in her landlady mother’s absence.

The quirky tenants — a hilarious mix of misfits and rabble-rousers from days gone by — rely on Alexis all the more when they discover a plot to sell the Hotel. Can Alexis save their home? Find her real father? Deal with her surrogate dad’s dicey past? Find true love? Perhaps only their feisty pet crow, Habib, truly knows.

Provoking interesting questions about the creative process, this novel is by turns funny, scary, witty, suspenseful, beautiful, thrilling, and unexpected.

Alexis Austin is taking care of the tenants of the Hotel Angeline in her mother's absence, an absence that Alexis doesn't want anybody to figure out just quite yet. The tenants of the Hotel are a great big mixed eclectic bag of eccentrics who rely maybe a little too heavily on Alexis (and before her, her mother) but who make up the only family that Alexis has ever known. Alexis is too young to have all this responsibility (she's only a teenager, after all), but to her, the alternative is grim to say the least. There's a reason that Alexis doesn't want people to find out where her mother is. However, when Alexis finds out that her uncle may be trying to purchase the Angeline out from under her and the tenants and that he needs to speak to her mother, Alexis finds her life quickly unraveling at the seams and it takes a series of slightly implausible events and the love of her "adopted" family at the Hotel for her to be able to make her life livable again.

OK, so this book took me forever to read. Through most of the book, I had a hard time finding it kept my attention for more than a chapter at a time, and that was being generous. I think part of that had to do with the same fact that held me to reading it; the book is written by a total of 36 authors from the Seattle area. The book was written during an event called The Novel, Live!, where 36 authors, over the span of 6 days, wrote a novel, each taking a chapter at a time. The whole idea was broadcast over the internet and was a fundraiser to help fight illiteracy. The idea was very cool, and the novel, while feeling rather disjointed throughout, is still an impressive feat. The authors had a basic plot to follow, and each was allowed to read what the previous author had written, and then they knew where their chapter was supposed to take them, but other than that, each author had free reign to more or less write whatever they wanted. I think this is what made the novel so long for me to read. There was the definite plot running through the whole thing, but sometimes the chapters didn't quite seem to line up with each other, as each author's distinct writing flavor took over at each new chapter. I will admit, however, that by the end of the story, I was surprised to find myself attached to Alexis and the tenants of the Hotel Angeline and was concerned and happy for their outcomes.

I'm impressed with the whole thing, and if they ever do another one of these I'll definitely read it, but I'm hoping that the next would maybe have a little more tighter editing, maybe? I don't know, just something to make it all seem a little more cohesive as a whole.

Recommended if you enjoy something along the line of experimental writing.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

#NaNoWriMo 11 Update


NaNoWriMo is going slow for me. It's quite clear, I don't have nearly enough discipline to handle writing on a daily basis. Or maybe it's because I'm trying to get things ready for moving before my surgery and before my vacation, which I still won't know if I can take because I won't know how I'm recovering from surgery until after I have it, since everyone heals differently from this particular surgery (so everyone keeps telling me). Because I don't have enough going on in my life right now, apparently...

Anyway, I thought I'd post a portion of what I have written so far. These are the prophecies that everything in my book is based on. I still don't have a title for the book yet, but since I've really only written the prologue so far, I guess I've still got time to figure that out. Anyway, here's a little of what I've written so far. Let me know what you think!

Prophecy the First

It shall be a boy; a boy born under the light of the returning falling star. He shall be marked by the star; that is how he shall be known. Being born under the light of the returning falling star, he shall be tied to the stars and the heavens. It will be from where his power comes. It will be how he overcomes.

It shall be a boy; a boy born under the light of the returning falling star will be our salvation. He will take up the Wand of Stars and will use its light to banish the darkness. In our darkest hour, he will be our burning light.

It shall be a boy; a boy born under the light of the returning falling star will be the one to light our way, so that we may rise like a phoenix from the ashes, and bring light back into the shadows of our world.

Prophecy the Second

It shall be a monster; a monster born under the light of the returning falling star. He shall rise with the birth of the boy born under the light of the returning falling star; that is how he shall know who he is. He won’t know why or how, but all he will know is that he will need to destroy the boy.

It shall be a monster; a monster born under the light of the returning falling star will be our destruction. He will take up the Wand of Stars and will create a darkness that consumes everything it touches. Through this power, the monster will bring about our darkest hour.

It shall be a monster; a monster born under the light of the returning falling star will be the one to cast us into eternal darkness, so that we may burn like a fire and crumble into ashes, and cast us back into the shadows of our world.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

#NaNoWriMo 2011


I've decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I want to finally get this YA novel that's been knocking about in my head down on paper, and this is the perfect opportunity! Updates as I progress.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick


Title: Wonderstruck
Author: Brian Selznick
Copyright: 2011
Pages: 629
ISBN: 9780545027892
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Author Website:
Twitter: @Scholastic
Format: ARC (borrowed from friend)
Rating: 3/5 stars

Product Description From Amazon:
Playing with the form he created in his trailblazing debut novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick once again sails into uncharted territory and takes readers on an awe-inspiring journey.

Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never known. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother's room and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing.

Set fifty years apart, these two independent stories - Ben's told in words, Rose's in pictures - weave back and forth with mesmerizing symmetry. How they unfold and ultimately intertwine will surprise you, challenge you, and leave you breathless with wonder. Rich, complex, affecting, and beautiful - with over 460 pages of original artwork -
Wonderstruck is a stunning achievement from a uniquely gifted artist and visionary.

Sigh. I really wanted to like this book more than I did. Honest, I did! The Invention of Hugo Cabret was one of my favorite reads the year it was released, so when I heard Brian Selznick was releasing a new book in the same fashion, I was thrilled. When a friend offered to let me borrow her ARC, I was even more excited! I settled in for what I was hoping was going to be as just a magical and heartfelt story as Hugo Cabret, but I was left wanting at the end.

The story follows Rose, whose story is set 50 years in the past and told in pictures, and Ben, whose present day story is told in prose. They are both looking for something more in their lives, and as the tale jumps back and forth from Rose's story to Ben's, we are led on an "adventure" that eventually brings the two together in Ben's present day. I won't really give anything away, but needless to say, I had already figured out the connection between Rose and Ben long before it is revealed in the story, and found the coincidences that occurred to Ben far too convenient for my taste. In fact, I was really more vested in Rose's story than Ben's, because I felt everything that happened to Ben was far too unrealistic and forced to feel like the story was developing naturally. Everything that happened to Ben needed to happen in order for the story to progress. If his story didn't move, neither did any of the book. Unfortunately, this forced feeling in Ben's story just left me feeling a little cold to the story.

Rose's portion of the story is beautifuuly told, however. Selznick utilizes the same storyboard techniques he used in Hugo Cabret to make it feel like we are actually watching a silent movie about Rose and her story. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire drawn portion of the book and really wish that I had felt as strongly about the prose portions.

I never like writing reviews like this, especially over a book that has had so much work put into it. I can't imagine how long it took Brian Selznick to draw all the illustrations that went into Wonderstruck. Each one is a work of art unto itself. I just couldn't quite get into the rhythm of this story as much as I did The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Will this stop me from picking up future books from Brian Selznick? Absolutely not. The man is a genius with this storytelling technique. Wonderstruck just didn't quite strike me with as much wonder as I was hoping it was going to.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Happy Release Day to James Dashner! The Death Cure is released today!!


Do you know what today is? Well, other than it being the release day for the final book in James Dashner's Maze Runner Trilogy, The Death Cure? It's the day that I can finally read the second book in the series, The Scorch Trials, because I knew, I just KNEW, that there would be some great big cliffhanger ending at the end of the second book and that James was going to leave me sitting there, wanting more. So I said to myself, "Self, you can't read the second book until the third book is out." And now it is. And now I can read.

Of course, I think I'm going to have to go back and re-read the first book, so that I can remember what went on in that book, because it's been way too long since that book came out.

But, my self-imposed reading ban on the second book aside, congratulations to James on the release of The Death Cure!

Here is a very cool book trailer for The Death Cure. Now, I actually haven't watched it yet, as it seems to be a little spoilery, so watch at your own discretion!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Faerie Ring by KiKi Hamilton

It's just over a week from the release date of Kiki Hamilton's The Faerie Ring. I've been excited about this book since I first heard about it months ago. Here's the trailer for the book, for your viewing pleasure!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Man in the Moon by William Joyce


Title: The Man in the Moon
Series: The Guardians of Childhood
Author: William Joyce
Copyright: 2011
Pages: 56
ISBN: 9781442430419
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Author Website:
Twitter: @simonschuster
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4/5 stars

Product Description From Amazon:
Up there in the sky.

Don’t you see him?

No, not the moon.

The Man in the Moon.

He wasn’t always a man.

Nor was he always on the moon.

He was once a child.

Like you.

Until a battle,

a shooting star,

and a lost balloon

sent him on a quest.

Meet the very first guardian of childhood.

MiM, the Man in the Moon.

Charming. That's the simplest, most appropriate word to describe The Man in the Moon, the first offering from William Joyce and his The Guardians of Childhood series of picture books and chapter books. It's a simple little story about how MiM, the Man in the Moon, came to live in the moon. I could really make this review all spoilery, but since the book is so short (it is a picture book, after all), I'll just leave it at impressions. Joyce creates a world for MiM that is both beautiful and slightly dark, breathing new life into some of our favorite early childhood fairy tales (here's a hint: the next book that will be available is a chapter book titled Nicholas St. North). Joyce's art has its usual flair and distinctive look, and it really adds to the overall feel of the story. I'm glad that I picked this up and will be looking forward to the rest of the series!

I know this is a short review, but really, you should just pick up The Man in the Moon and discover its joy for yourself.

Happy reading!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Catching up on reviews

Faithful Readers, reading continues to be slow. I'm still getting all my ducks in a row from the whirlwind crazy that was this past summer, but I thought I needed to get a couple of reviews done. I've never been so far behind in all the years that I've run From My Bookshelf.

So. I'm going to be reviewing like mad for the next couple of weeks. I'm going to schedule these out a little so that they don't all come crashing in at once, but I want to try to get back on track.

Nothing else to see here. Carry with your usual day. And watch some Doctor Who. It's amazing.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai


Title: The Borrower
Author: Rebecca Makkai
Narrator: Emily Bauer
Copyright: 2011
Pages: 336
ISBN: 9780670022816
ISBN: 9781611744460 (audiobook)
Publisher: Viking Adult
Audio Production: HighBridge Company
Author Website:
Twitter: @rebeccamakkai, @VikingBooks
Format: Audiobook (received through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program from publisher)
Rating: 4/5 stars

From Amazon:
In this delightful, funny, and moving first novel, a librarian and a young boy obsessed with reading take to the road.

Lucy Hull, a young children's librarian in Hannibal, Missouri, finds herself both a kidnapper and kidnapped when her favorite patron, ten-year-old Ian Drake, runs away from home. The precocious Ian is addicted to reading, but needs Lucy's help to smuggle books past his overbearing mother, who has enrolled Ian in weekly antigay classes with celebrity Pastor Bob. Lucy stumbles into a moral dilemma when she finds Ian camped out in the library after hours with a knapsack of provisions and an escape plan. Desperate to save him from Pastor Bob and the Drakes, Lucy allows herself to be hijacked by Ian. The odd pair embarks on a crazy road trip from Missouri to Vermont, with ferrets, an inconvenient boyfriend, and upsetting family history thrown in their path. But is it just Ian who is running away? Who is the man who seems to be on their tail? And should Lucy be trying to save a boy from his own parents?

First and foremost, your going to have to have a rather elevated suspension of disbelief when getting into this story, but it's worth it. Lucy Hull is a children's librarian in Hannibal, MO, when she inadvertently kidnaps Ian Drake, a 10-year-old boy who Lucy has grown fond of because of his love of reading. He may or may not be gay, and it appears that Ian's parents are trying to "de-gay" him through an Evangelical pastor. Lucy knows in her heart that this is wrong, so when Ian turns up in the library one morning where he had obviously slept the previous night after running away from home, Lucy doesn't do much to stop him when Ian "blackmails" her into driving him to Vermont to see his grandmother. This is where the story becomes a little far-fetched; I had a hard time believing that Lucy would actually go along with Ian, at least to driving such a long distance. But Rebecca Makkai made Lucy and Ian such likable characters, and while their adventure seems completely implausible, I still enjoyed every moment of it, cheering them on throughout their cross-country caper.

Makkai has a great sense of humor that she sprinkles throughout her story. I found myself laughing out loud several times while listening to the story. She's also able to add in a decent amount of emotion to her story; I found myself genuinely concerned for the outcome of the story and what was going to happen to Ian and following Lucy's revelation about her own life, what was going to happen to her. For a debut book, Rebecca Makkai has impressed me. I'll be looking out for more by her in the future.

I'm pretty sure that I would have enjoyed this story had I been reading it, but Emily Bauer's narration was just so damned good. She has a great reading voice and brought the "just right" touches to so many parts of the story. I would love to find more books narrated by her.

If you're looking for a fun book and don't mind a slightly far-fetched storyline, I'd recommend The Borrower; if you're looking for something of the same to listen to on your commute, I'd recommend it even more. You won't be disappointed.

Federal regulations require me to disclose that I receive a small commission from these Amazon links, which I use to purchase more books from Amazon.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Happy Publication Day! Low Town by Daniel Polansky


So, I think it's time for my hiatus for From My Bookshelf to come to a close, and I'm happy that it's this post that I'm coming back with. Today is the publication day for Daniel Polansky's Low Town, a new noir fantasy coming from Doubleday.

What is Low Town, you ask? Well, the product description from Amazon says:
Drug dealers, hustlers, brothels, dirty politics, corrupt cops... and sorcery. Welcome to Low Town.

In the forgotten back alleys and flophouses that lie in the shadows of Rigus, the finest city of the Thirteen Lands, you will find Low Town. It is an ugly place, and its cham­pion is an ugly man. Disgraced intelligence agent. Forgotten war hero. Independent drug dealer. After a fall from grace five years ago, a man known as the Warden leads a life of crime, addicted to cheap violence and expensive drugs. Every day is a constant hustle to find new customers and protect his turf from low-life competition like Tancred the Harelip and Ling Chi, the enigmatic crime lord of the heathens.

The Warden’s life of drugged iniquity is shaken by his dis­covery of a murdered child down a dead-end street... set­ting him on a collision course with the life he left behind. As a former agent with Black House—the secret police—he knows better than anyone that murder in Low Town is an everyday thing, the kind of crime that doesn’t get investi­gated. To protect his home, he will take part in a dangerous game of deception between underworld bosses and the psy­chotic head of Black House, but the truth is far darker than he imagines. In Low Town, no one can be trusted.

Daniel Polansky has crafted a thrilling novel steeped in noir sensibilities and relentless action, and set in an original world of stunning imagination, leading to a gut-wrenching, unforeseeable conclusion. Low Town is an attention-grabbing debut that will leave readers riveted... and hun­gry for more.

And if that doesn't catch your interest, why don't you read what Daniel has to say first hand about his debut novel and his inspiration behind it:
Slums of the Shire

Occasionally you'll be with a group of people and they'll get to talking about their favorite historical epochs, nostalgic for lives they never led. One person will talk up their childhood love of the Wild West, another reveal a penchant for Victorian England. This last one just has a thing for corsets, but it's better not to call them on it.

When my turn rolls round I take a sip of whatever we're drinking and look at my shoes. “The mid 90's were pretty good,” I say lamely. “Slower internet and everything, but at least we had penicillin.”

Perhaps it's my being a history buff, but the past sucked. For about a millennium and a half after the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe just seems like a real shit place to reside. Lots of rooting in filth until you die at thirty a half mile from where you born. Nominally the nobles had it better, but still, your fever would have been treated with the application of leaches and your pretty young bride had like a one in two chance of surviving child birth.

This probably is why I don't understand fantasy—that is to say that collection of high medieval tropes collected by Tolkien and gleefully reproduced by two generations of descendants.

Take elves for instance—though perfectly capable of imagining a world where higher intelligence evolved in a species separate from humanity, my powers of make believe fail when positing that the relation between said species would be anything beyond unceasing warfare. Even a cursory glance at human history reveals our collective willingness to commit genocide on fellow homo sapiens—how much quicker would we have been to eradicate a separate species competing for identical resources? If elves existed, our ancestors would have hunted them down to extinction and erected a monument to the accomplishment.

But I digress.

Even when nestled comfortably in a quest to kill a dragon or overthrow a dark lord or what have you, strange thoughts plague me. What does the shady side of Gondor look like? How many platinum coins would a dime bag set me back? What is the point of hobbits? They're just short, fat people. People are plenty fat as it is.

Low Town is sort of my attempt to answer some of those questions (not the last one). It's the story of the Warden, a former intelligence agent and current drug dealer, whose gradual slide into self-destruction is briefly checked by the discovery of a dead body in the neighborhood he runs. An ill-timed bout of conscience rattles the easy cage of venality he's built for himself, and leads him on a collision course with the life he'd left behind. The Warden is a guy trying to survive the next few days, and not particularly squeamish as to what that requires—the sort of person more likely to populate a classic crime novel than to be found stocking the fantasy section of your local Borders (RIP).

More broadly, Low Town is an attempt to meld the best aspects of noir with a low fantasy setting—a meeting of tastes which I think complement each other nicely. The spare language and fast pace of good noir offers a pleasant counterpoint to the sprawling—one might even say bloated—length of much modern fantasy. On a somewhat broader level, the tendency of fantasy to focus on world shaking events often renders it irrelevant to the average reader, whose life relatively rarely devolves into single combat against vaguely satanic analogs. By contrast, noir is concerned with the individual, with greed and lust, sins all of us can comprehend to some degree. Low Town centers on the conceit that a world with magic wouldn't be altogether different from a world without it. People are still (on the whole) selfish, stupid creatures, focused almost exclusively on the immediate satisfaction of their basic desires, only now some of them can shoot fire out of their hands.

That's the idea at least. It comes out today (August 16th) in the US and Canada, and on Thursday (August 18th) in the UK and Commonwealth. I hope you check it out and see if I've succeeded, or if I'm just a pretentious clown. Or both.

Doesn't that sound great? And I love the cover. It fits the gritty feel of the book perfectly. I'm really looking forward to reading this. Stop out to your favorite local bookstore today and pick up Low Town by Daniel Polansky, or if you don't have a local book store, click on the handy link below and order yourself a copy. Don't forget to check back here soon for my review of Low Town.

Congratulations to Daniel on his publication day and happy reading!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A necessary break

Dear Faithful Readers,

I'd like to take this opportunity first and foremost to thank you for being Faithful Readers, especially during these last couple of months when I've read, what, a total of one book per month? Granted, they were both very good books, but I still feel like I've let down both my readers and the authors that I've been neglecting here on From My Bookshelf. The truth is, I've had quite a bit on my mind lately. My darling sister is having some medical problems at the moment, and my focus must be on her. I'll be going out to stay with her for a couple of weeks while she recovers from surgery. I may take that time to write the several reviews that I am behind, but please understand that right now, my family must come first.

In a couple of months or so, I'd like to come back, full force. I love my blog. I love my readers. I love my books. I love the authors that I've gotten to know through From My Bookshelf. But right now, I can hardly get through a single book, let alone be able to put my thoughts down on paper (or online, as the case is). Please, be patient. I'll be back, but for right now, my sister is my priority.

Thank you for understanding!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Happy publication day to Meg Waite Clayton for the paperback release of The Language of Light


Happy publication day to Meg Waite Clayton! The Language of Light is released in paperback today from Ballantine Books. A finalist for the Bellwether Prize, The Language of Light was originally published in 2003 by St. Martin's Press, and with the success of the Wednesday Sisters and The Four Ms. Bradwells, it is getting released again for the first time in paperback.

About the book:
Nelly Grace is starting over. With her two young sons, Nelly has fled to the simple stone house built by her great-grandfather in the old-moneyed horse country of Maryland in order to escape the grief of her husband’s death—and perhaps find a way back to her first love: photography. Easing her transition into this strange, mannered world is Emma Crofton, the grand matriarch of the foxhunting community, and Emma’s son, Dac, a handsome yet distant horse trainer. As Nelly slowly makes her way back to the camera, she must come to terms with her troubled relationship with her father, a photojournalist who chose fame over family. But when she finally sees him again, Nelly’s fragile new beginning is threatened by revelations of a secret past, and the fears that kept it hidden.

For more information on Meg Waite Clayton and her other books, stop by and visit her website.

Government regulations require that I disclose that I receive a small commission from any Amazon links that are used, which I use to purchase more books.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Enter Ticket to Anywhere's Blogoversary Contest of Pure AWESOME!

My friend Gail is celebrating her 4 year blogoversary and to celebrate, she's got prizes for us! And not just any prizes, but contests made of pure AWESOME!! Don't take my word for it, stop by Ticket to Anywhere, check out the contests, enter to win, congratulate Gail on four years of great book blogging and read her blog. It's fantastic.

Congrats, Gail, and here's to another 4 more years of blogging!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities edited by Ann Vandermeer and Jeff Vandermeer

"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:

The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities edited by Ann Vandermeer and Jeff Vandermeer

Product Description:
All-new stories and art from the doctor's wondrous collection

After the death of Dr. Thackery T. Lambshead at his house in Wimpering-on-the-Brook, England, a remarkable discovery was unearthed: the remains of an astonishing cabinet of curiosities. Many of these artifacts, curios, and wonders related to anecdotes and stories in the doctor's personal journals. Others, when shown to the doctor's friends, elicited further tales from a life like no other.

Thus, in keeping with the bold spirit exemplified by Dr. Lambs­head and his exploits, we now proudly present highlights from the doctor's cabinet, reconstructed not only through visual representations but also through exciting stories of intrigue and adventure.

A carefully selected group of popular artists and acclaimed, bestselling authors has been assembled to bring this cabinet of curiosities to life.

The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities will be released on July 12, 2011 from Harper Voyager.

Federal regulations require that I disclose that I receive a small commission from any purchases made through the Amazon links on my website, which I use to purchase more books.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday Salon 19 VI 11 - Another slow week, but this time I've got a giveaway!

Good morning, fellow Salon Members! Ah, another slow week at from my bookshelf. It seems to be par for course lately around here. But, this time I've got a giveaway for my faithful readers! This week, I read Penelope Przekop's Centerpieces. Please click on the link and read my review. I think Penelope is one of the most unique authors that I have read, and she has a way of telling a story about the human condition that not many authors can match. Her stories have been varied in their subjects, but one thing she has in common is her ability to capture her characters voices and the journeys they travel in her books. If you haven't had the pleasure of reading on of her books, have I got a treat for you!

Penelope has graciously supplied a copy of Centerpieces for me to give away on my blog, and as an extra added bonus, I have a used copy of her previous book, Aberrations, to include in the giveaway. All you need to do to enter is fill out THIS FORM. Sorry, this contest is only open to the US and will be kept open until Sunday, June 26, 2011.

It's a short entry this week, as I'm just finishing up Ransom Riggs' Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and am anxious to get back to reading, so until next time, happy reading!

Centerpieces by Penelope Przekop


Title: Centerpieces
Author: Penelope Przekop
Copyright: 2011
Pages: 179
ISBN: 9780615464732
Publisher: Hallway Press
Author Website:
Twitter: @PenelopePrzekop
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5 stars

From Amazon:
Vincent van Gogh fakes his death, Ellis Spenser longs to paint. Holly Carter conceals a famous lineage. Theo van Gogh gains his health, but loses the woman he loves. Mimi Calais says she's a vampire. Tom Spencer hatches a plan.

Ellis and Tom Spencer oversee the drug safety organization in one of the world's largest and most respected companies, Pratt Pharmacueticals. Tom's deviant plan for their future begins to splinter when Ellis meets Holly Carter, a lonely Southern woman who has come to New York to pursue art while furthering her pharmaceutical career. Holly lives in a Greenwich Village apartment building owned by Mimi, a mysterious young woman whose claims of being a vampire remind Holly that life goes on. As Ellis pursues Holly, the past and present begin to overlap. Dark secrets emerge amidst Mimi's bizarre bookstore, strip clubs, galleries, brownstones, corporate culture, and Starbucks ad nauseam.

Two sets of extraordinary brothers, and two very different women, struggle to carve out unique identities in a world where middle age is the beginning of the end; corporate puppets and dreaming immigrants rub shoulders in the hallowed burning halls of Ellis Island; and forever takes on new meaning.

Van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime. Based on extensive research,
Centerpieces, explores the miraculous explosion of Van Gogh's work shortly after his suicide and the death of his brother, Theo, six months later.

Join Vincent in a journey of self-discovery, friendship, betrayal, fantasy, corporate intrigue, and love. Find out what he sacrificed for art.

Penelope Przekop's latest book, Centerpieces, is first and foremost a study about art, and the importance that art can have in a person's life. History tells us that Vincent van Gogh shot himself in 1890, but what if he faked his death? What if he was still alive today? What if his brother, Theo, was still alive, too? What has been keeping them alive and what has been their driving force all these years?

I'm not going to lie, I found Centerpieces completely intriguing and compelling, but I don't even know how to describe it. I'm not really sure I've ever read anything like it before. I felt there were just as many questions at the end of the book as there were at the beginning (what exactly are Theo and Vincent, what has kept them alive for so long, what part does the drug taperaquin play in their extended lives), but somehow these questions didn't really need answering at the end. If you just accept the fact that van Gogh is alive 100+ years after his death, that there may be more to his existence and what he has become that what is said, then you will have no problem making your way through this story.

Przekop has said that she wrote this book as an answer to questions she had raised in her own life while working for a pharmaceutical company and wanting to lead a more artistic life. I can see a lot of this conundrum in both Ellis and Holly, as they try to find their way in the regimented world of pharmaceuticals while their actual calling in life is art. Przekop masterfully weaves their lives together, with elements from both the past and present, to help them reach their ultimate potential, as both people and as artists.

Like her book, Aberrations, Przekop takes people with everyday problems and makes their story into something that needs to be told. With Aberrations, it was accepting yourself for who you are regardless of what others think about you. With Centerpieces, it's about finally accepting the parts of your life that may not fit in with the path that you thought you planned for yourself, and deciding that sometimes you need to strike out on that unfamiliar path, even if it means walking away from what you think your life is all about.

Obviously extensively researched, Przekop weaves van Gogh's art, his life, his family and actual historic events together to create a story that is both about humanity and art. What exactly are Vincent and Theo in this modern world? We may never know for sure, but their story is one of brotherly love and of art, and one that I enjoyed reading. I hope to see more of Przekop's stories published in the future. Hers is a unique voice in the literary world that needs to be heard.

Federal regulations require that I disclose that I receive a small commission from any purchases made through the Amazon links on my website, which I use to purchase more books.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday Salon 12 VI 11 - Meeting authors and what happened to May?!

Good morning, fellow Salon Members! What a whirlwind my last couple of weeks have been! I've been far too busy buying books and meeting authors to find time to actually read any of the books that I've been buying, let alone the continually expanding TBR pile already on my shelves!

I have had the extraordinary luck of meeting a wide range of authors over the last couple of weeks, however. Who I've met in the last 10 days:
Courtney Allison Moulton - Author of Angelfire, her debut book and part of a YA paranormal trilogy.
Leah Clifford - Author of A Touch Mortal, her debut book and part of a YA paranormal trilogy.
Aimée Carter - Author of The Goddess Test, her debut book and part of a YA paranormal/mythology trilogy.
Lisa Desrochers - Author of Personal Demons, her debut book and part of a YA paranormal trilogy. (Seeing a running theme yet? These four authors were all part of a single YA tour.)
Colm Tóibín - Author of Brooklyn, amongst many others.
Meg Waite Clayton - Author of The Language of Light, The Wednesday Sisters and The Four Ms. Bradwells, which are all favorites of mine.
Kelly O'Connor McNees - Author of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, her debut book, which just came out in paperback. (I attended the Printer's Row Lit Fest in Chicago last weekend, where I sat in on a discussion with Colm Toibin and ran into Meg and Kelly, who were also attending the discussion.)
Mary Doria Russell - Discussing her new book, Doc, at one of my local indie bookstores. I actually didn't pick Doc up, but got a copy of The Sparrow and Dreamers of the Day instead.
Veronica Roth - Author of Divergent, her debut book and part of a new YA dystopian trilogy.
Josephine Angelini - Author of Starcrossed, her debut book and part of a new YA paranormal trilogy.
Aprilynne Pike - Author of the Wings series.
Ellen Schreiber - Author of the Vampire Kisses series. (Again, these last four were all part of another YA tour.

Needless to say, my bookshelves are beginning to groan under all the new acquisitions. This also leaves me hard pressed to decide on what to read next, as I've picked up so many good books over the last couple of weeks. However, there is one that really stood out, and I've set everything aside to read it: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I'd heard about this book quite some time ago and it really caught my eye, but then the book trailer was released for it, and I knew that this was a book that I was going the need to own.

Well, I found it at the bookstore yesterday and started to read it last night, and within two chapters, I was hard-pressed to want to put it down to go to sleep last night. As soon as I finish up this post, I'm picking it up and I know I won't be putting it down until I finish it, so come back tomorrow for my review!

And what happened to May?! I read only one book the entire month. I'm not quite sure what happened there, but at least my one book was quite a treat. My cousin has written a novel! Per her request, I'm not going to mention names or book titles, but she did ask me to read it for her, and I loved it. And it isn't just because she's my cousin. She has written a truly engaging book, and I can't wait until she's published and I can actually gush about it more here. Congrats, cuz! I expect great literary things from you. =)

So, not much else to report. I'm going to finish Miss Peregrine today, and then I'm going to have to decide on what to read next, what with all the great books that I've picked up in the last 10 days!

Until next time, happy reading!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Book trailer - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

OMG! I practically need to own this book, just based on this amazing book trailer alone!

Federal regulations require that I disclose that I receive a small commission from any purchases made through the Amazon links on my website, which I use to purchase more books.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Julie Kagawa's The Iron Knight Cover Reveal

Make sure to zip on over to Julie Kagawa's blog to check out the cover for the fourth book in her Iron Fey series, The Iron Knight. I love the continuity in these covers. Nothing bugs me more than when a publisher changes cover styles midway through a series, but the Iron Fey covers are so darned pretty that I think HarlequinTEEN would be hard-pressed to want to change these.

Federal regulations require that I disclose that I receive a small commission on any purchases made through Amazon links on my blog, which I use to purchase more books.

Monday, May 23, 2011

And the winner is...

So, the winners of the signed Kiki Hamilton The Faerie Ring bookmarks are:

(drum roll please)
If you haven't sent me your address yet, I'll email you for the particulars. For those who I do have addresses for, I'll be shipping your bookmarks out within the next couple of days.

Congrats to everybody and happy reading!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton (and a giveaway!)

"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:

Don't you just love this cover?
The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

Product Description from Amazon:
Debut novelist Kiki Hamilton takes readers from the gritty slums and glittering ballrooms of Victorian London to the beguiling but menacing Otherworld of the Fey in this spellbinding tale of romance, suspense, and danger.

The year is 1871, and Tiki has been making a home for herself and her family of orphans in a deserted hideaway adjoining Charing Cross Station in central London. Their only means of survival is by picking pockets. One December night, Tiki steals a ring, and sets off a chain of events that could lead to all-out war with the Fey. For the ring belongs to Queen Victoria, and it binds the rulers of England and the realm of Faerie to peace. With the ring missing, a rebel group of faeries hopes to break the treaty with dark magic and blood—Tiki’s blood.

Unbeknownst to Tiki, she is being watched—and protected—by Rieker, a fellow thief who suspects she is involved in the disappearance of the ring. Rieker has secrets of his own, and Tiki is not all that she appears to be. Her very existence haunts Prince Leopold, the Queen’s son, who is driven to know more about the mysterious mark that encircles her wrist.

Prince, pauper, and thief—all must work together to secure the treaty…

Doesn't that just sound great? I've been really excited about this book since I first heard about it a couple of months ago and am looking forward to its release. And isn't the cover just lovely?

Here is the book trailer:

Or you can click here to watch the trailer at YouTube.

The Faerie Ring will be released on September 27, 2011 from Tor Teen. You can also follow Kiki and Tor Teen on Twitter, or visit Kiki's blog.


Kiki has supplied me with five signed bookmarks to giveaway on my blog in anticipation of the release of The Faerie Ring, and all you have to do to enter is to fill out THIS FORM. Contest will be open internationally, so everybody can enter! I'll leave the entry form open until May 21, 2011, and then I'll randomly select five winners and get their bookmarks mailed out to them!

A great big thanks to Kiki for sending me the bookmarks to giveaway, and good luck to everybody who enters!

Federal regulations require that I disclose that I receive a small commission on any purchases made through Amazon links on my blog, which I use to purchase more books.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Four Ms. Bradwells by Meg Waite Clayton


Title: The Four Ms. Bradwells
Author: Meg Waite Clayton
Copyright: 2011
Pages: 336
ISBN: 9780345517081
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Author Website:
Twitter: @MegWClayton
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 5/5 stars

In Meg Waite Clayton's latest, we are again introduced to a group of friends, but instead of watching their friendship grow like we did in The Wednesday Sisters, we find ourselves in the midst of a friendship already decades in the making. Mia, Laney, Betts, and Ginger have been friends since their days in law school, when they were all dubbed "the Ms. Bradwells" by their professor in their very first class at the University of Michigan Law School. We first meet the Four Ms. Bradwells during Senate hearings to appoint Betts to the Supreme Court, except a skeleton in their closet is uncovered from early on in their friendship that may hinder Betts' appointment. This skeleton also raises questions about their friendship and who has kept secrets from who over the years.

Clayton also raises other issues in her book, including those of women's rights, but I'll leave the main issue that she brings to her story a secret, because it is this issue that ties everything together in the book, and I don't want to give it away. Needless to say, the secret has to do with a death, and this is the crux of the skeleton in the friends' closet that they need to overcome. The secret is brought up in the very first chapter so you're not kept waiting, and it's presented in a completely intriguing and compelling manner, making you want to find out what happened.

One of the aspects that I enjoyed most about The Wednesday Sisters that is carried over into The Four Ms. Bradwells is that I felt like I had gotten to know the friends by the end of the book, that they were my friends too. Clayton has a knack for making her characters completely believable and tangible, with all the quirks and imperfections that would make them real people. They have real faults, real problems, aren't perfect, and in this imperfection, she has created honest and true characters.

Do yourself a favor and pick up The Four Ms. Bradwells. It's a refreshing read for early summer and while it does deal with some heavy subjects, it does so in a manner that is easy to read and relatable to the characters. And while you're at it, if you haven't read The Wednesday Sisters, pick that up at the same time. Both books are excellent stories on the power of friendship and what that power can help friends overcome.

Highly recommended.

To purchase any of the books in this post, and help my local Indie bookstore, and help me buy more books, click the links above!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The cuteness! Book trailer - A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

I just found this trailer and it's so cute, I just had to share it!

A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron will be released in paperback on May 24, 2011, from MacMillan.

Federal regulations require that I disclose that I receive a small commission on any purchases made through Amazon links on my blog, which I use to purchase more books.

Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland and Milwaukee Last Week

Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland and Milwaukee Last Week

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Book trailer - The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, illustrated by Ana Juan

I'm reading this right now and loving it, so I thought I'd share this loverly trailer that I just found. Enjoy!

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making will be released on May 10, 2011 from MacMillan.

Federal regulations require that I disclose that I receive a small commission on any purchases made through Amazon links on my blog, which I use to purchase more books.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday Salon 1 V 11 - Getting back to reading and an April recap

Good morning, fellow Salon Members! The telltale signs of Spring: birds singing, cool mornings, warm afternoons, flowers blooming. It's refreshing to finally be saying goodbye to winter for good!

Well, after several months, it looks like I may finally be recovering from the dreaded Reading Slump. April proved to be my best month yet this year with 11 books read!

My reading for the month consisted of:
The Barracks Thief by Tobias Wolff - Purchased on recommendation from David Sedaris at one of his readings... did not live up to the hype he was giving it.

Hounded: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book 1 by Kevin Hearne - Holy crap, but did I love this book! You can read my review of it here.

The Giver by Lois Lowry - Somehow this one slipped by me over the years, and I'm sorry it took me so long to get around to reading it. What an amazing, thought provoking story!

The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney - A new voice in the YA paranormal romance world, and one that I think could stick around for awhile.

Steampunk Quartet: A Original by Eileen Gunn - A collection of four short pieces that are based on previous Steampunk works and include main characters based on real people who donated to the Clarion West program, who Eileen Gunn worked into these stories. Clever idea, but not much in the way of substance to any of the stories.

The Four Ms. Bradwells by Meg Waite Clayton - Meg Waite Clayton proves once again (just as she did with The Wednesday Sisters) that she has a keen grasp of the power of friendship between women, even amidst decades old secrets.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver - The first in a new YA dystopian trilogy where love is discovered to be a disease (the amor deliria nervosa) and the US government has discovered a "cure". I ended up enjoying this a lot more than I thought I was going to. Oliver has done a really successful job of world building and created a fully realized backstory and history so that her characters are (un)comfortable in their surroundings. I'm anxious to see where she'll take the story from here.

There was also a handful of graphic novels that I read this month that I won't go into reviewing. I think I'm going to skip the reviews on the graphic novels from now on, unless it is something that reallys stands out for me.

So, there it is - a quick recap of April. It's going to be tough for me to decide on a top book for this month. Hounded, The Four Ms. Bradwells and Delirium all really stood out for me. Maybe I'll just have a three-way tie this month!!

Until next Sunday, happy reading!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Will Supervillains Be on the Final?: Liberty Vocational Volume 1 by Naomi Novik, illustrated Yishan Li


Title: Will Supervillains Be on the Final?
Series: Liberty Vocational Volume 1
Authors: Naomi Novik, illustrated Yishan Li
Copyright: 2011
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9780345516565
Publisher: Del Rey
Author Website:
Twitter: @DelReySpectra, @naominovik
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

From Amazon:
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Temeraire novels comes the first graphic novel in a thrilling new saga about the next generation of high-flying costumed crusaders


As universities go, Liberty Vocational is the private college of choice for budding superheroes learning to master their extraordinary powers for the good of humankind. But for sixteen-year-old Leah Taymore, just making her way through classes without incident is shaping up to be a superhuman task. Star struck by legendary ex-hero turned student advisor Calvin Washington, petrified by ultrastrict dean Dr. Santos, and tongue-tied over her supercool (and handsome) classmate Paul Lyman, timid Leah fears that even her ability to manipulate atoms won’t be enough to survive the rigors of L.V.—and become a full-fledged defender of all that is right. But the real test of her mettle is yet to come, in the form of infamous supervillain Bane, who has infiltrated Liberty with a sinister plan to bring down the best and brightest heroes of tomorrow before they even take flight.

Liberty Vocational is not your typical college. Why, you ask? Because it is where young superheroes go to learn how to use their powers to the best of their abilities. Leah Taymore has just started at Liberty Vocational, but her biggest challenge isn't learning how to use her extraordinary atom manipulation powers without causing a catastrophe, it's learning how to get through the day without causing a catastrophe just on her own. Add in to the mix cute boys, an adviser who may not want to advise her and a dean who may be out to get her, and Leah doesn't always have the best days. Then there's Bane. A supervillain of some notoriety who has infiltrated Liberty Vocational with some secret agenda all his own...

Will Supervillains Be on the Final? is cute. Compared to Novik's Termeraire series, it seems to fall a little short for me, but that may be more of the fact that I don't think I'm entirely the target audience, but I can appreciate it for what it is. You can tell that Novik is having fun with her characters and their situations. Leah's goofiness fits her well as she tries to navigate through a life that is entirely new to her. The supporting cast can sometimes be a little over the top, but that's really the point. The book is done in a manga fashion (which lends itself very well to this story), so in my limited manga-reading experience this seems to be true to how they are written, so manga fans should really enjoy this. Yishan Li's art is crisp and clean, and easy to follow throughout most of the book. Novik's Temeraire fans (more the girls than the guys, although the questions of the morality of superheroics might prove to be interesting to the male set, too) should probably give this a try as well, just to see how Novik can stretch her writing muscles.

Nothing challenging here, but something fun all the same.

Federal regulations require that I disclose that I receive a small commission on any purchases made through Amazon links on my blog, which I use to purchase more books.

FTC Guideline: ARC borrowed from a friend

Friday, April 22, 2011

Hounded: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 1 by Kevin Hearne


Title: Hounded
Series: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 1
Author: Kevin Hearne
Copyright: 2011
Pages: 304
ISBN: 9780345522474
Publisher: Del Rey
Author Website:
Twitter: @KevinHearne, @DelReySpectra
Format: ARC Paperback
Rating: 5/5 stars

From Amazon:
Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.

Holy crap, but did I love this book! Druids! Witches! Gods! Werewolves! Vampires! Irish wolfhounds! Widows! Throw all these things together, and what you have is an entirely romping fun adventure of a book.

Atticus O'Sullivan may look 21, but in reality he's 21 centuries old and the last Druid. And when you're that old, you're bound to make some enemies along the way. You see, Atticus is in possession of a sword that he "stole" from the Tuatha Dé Danann almost 2000 years ago, and some of those gods want the sword back. Unfortunately for Atticus, one of these ancient gods has made it his personal vendetta against Atticus and has chased him for centuries. And Atticus has run for centuries. But maybe it's time for Atticus to stop running and face his pursuer. However, even Atticus knows it's not a good idea to take on a god by yourself, so he calls in help from some other gods, his vampire/werewolf tag team of attorneys, a bartender who is possessed by a centuries old witch and his faithful Irish wolfhound, Oberon. But even this mixed bag of heroes may not be enough to take down a Celtic love god who has allied himself with Hell and a coven of witches.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from the moment I picked it up. Hearne's writing is so natural that it picks you right up in the story and sweeps you along. The world building in Hounded isn't too challenging - the entire story takes place in Tempe, AZ - but it's the way that Hearne utilizes gods from several pantheons to create a varied way that religion works in his world. I think this is a really unique approach to gods and Hearne uses it well. Don't let this intimidate you, though. Hearne explains who everybody is and doesn't leave you hanging on trying to figure out who is who.

The writing is fast-paced but doesn't seem to want to try to get ahead of itself. I've noticed this in books I've read before like this, that the story tries to move itself along almost too quickly, not giving you a chance to keep up with it. That's not the case here; Hearne keeps his story moving but without rushing you through it. His entire cast of characters are funny and witty, but not overly so. I found myself laughing out loud through several portions of the book, and especially at Oberon, Atticus' Irish wolfhound. I think that Oberon may be my favorite character in the book. His take on the world and what is happening around him from a smarter-than-your-average dog point of view is often hysterical.

I could gush on some more about the book, but really, you just have to read it to really appreciate just how much fun it is. Fans of Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files will definitely want to pick this series up, but anybody who enjoys a funny, clever urban fantasy will really enjoy this book. Highly recommended!

Hounded is available May 3, 2011, from Del Rey, Hexed: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 2 will be available on June 7, 2011, and Hammered: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 3 will be available on July 5, 2011, so you won't have to wait long for the rest of the series!

Federal regulations require that I disclose that I receive a small commission on any purchases made through Amazon links on my blog, which I use to purchase more books.

FTC Guideline: ARC paperback received from publisher for review

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hounded: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 1 by Kevin Hearne - Coming May, 2011 from Del Rey


Title: Hounded
Series: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 1
Author: Kevin Hearne
Copyright: 2011
Pages: 304
ISBN: 9780345522474
Publisher: Del Rey
Author Website:
Twitter: @KevinHearne, @DelReySpectra
Format: Paperback from publisher for review
Available: 5-3-11
Rating: 5/5 stars

From Amazon:
Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.

You're going to have to come back on 5-3-11 for my full review, but I will tell you right now, holy crap, did I love this book! The best way to describe it is The Dresden Files meets religion. But don't think that comparison means Kevin Hearne is a copycat writer; he has a style and story all his own. His rather unique take on the pantheon of gods from religions all over the world is quite clever.

Highly recommended!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

P.T. Barnum by Anne Edwards, illustrated by Marylin Hafner


Title: P.T. Barnum
Authors: Anne Edwards, illustrated by Marylin Hafner
Copyright: 1977
Pages: 63
ISBN: 9780399610837
Publisher: Putnam Publishing Group
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 3/5 stars

This is a charming little volume that is definitely geared toward a younger audience but is still a good, if simplified, biography of P.T. Barnum. Edwards follows his life from childhood right up to his death, highlighting all the major accomplishments in his life. The accompanying illustration by Marylin Hafner are cute, if not a little dated, but it's part of the charm of the book.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bloom County: The Complete Library, Vol. 2: 1982-1984 by Berkeley Breathed


Title: Bloom County: The Complete Library, Vol. 2: 1982-1984
Series: Bloom County
Author: Berkeley Breathed
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 304
ISBN: 9781600105838
Publisher: The Library of American Comics, IDW Publishing
Twitter: @IDWPublishing
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 5/5 stars

The second volume of the collected editions of Berkeley Breathed's Bloom County is just as good as the first, if not a little better. Breathed's wit is becoming a little sharper; his characters a little more defined, both artistically and literarily; he's beginning to find his way with the characters and the direction that he wants to take his strip in. His social commentary is starting to really solidify into what made this strip what it was: a commentary on us in the 80s. And what rings true then seems to still ring true in some cases today.

The reproduction quality of the strips could be a little better, but to be able to have all of the strips collected like this in such great editions, I'm willing to overlook that.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bone: Quest for the Spark, Book 1 by Tom Sniegoski, illustrated by Jeff Smith


Title: Bone: Quest for the Spark, Book 1
Series: Bone
Authors: Tom Sniegoski, illustrated by Jeff Smith
Copyright: 2011
Pages: 224
ISBN: 9780545141024
Publisher: Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic
Author Website:
Twitter: @scholastic
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5 stars

From Amazon:
A return to the enthralling world of BONE with book one in this gripping spin-off novel trilogy, illustrated in four-color!

Twelve-year-old Tom Elm is just an ordinary turnip farmer from the Valley, but he's always felt destined for something bigger. So when he discovers everyone in his village is asleep and plagued by nightmares, he assembles a band of unlikely heroes. They must fight to preserve the Spark--a divine light born at the core of a vast, dark nothingness called the Nacht. The Nacht is trying to permeate the Waking World with nightmares of the Dreaming, and it's Tom's mission to defeat the Nacht and its most loyal follower, the Constable. If he fails, his family--and everyone--might never wake up again.

Bone: Quest for the Spark, Book 1 is a great followup to the Bone series. Thorn is queen and there has been peace in the Valley since the events of Bone. However, that is until people in the village start falling asleep and never waking up, including Queen Thorn.

Enter 12-year-old Tom Elm, turnip farmer. There isn't much about Tom that is extraordinary, except for his belief that he is destined for something greater. The destiny becomes apparent when the Dreaming chooses Tom to be their champion against the Nacht, the evil that is corrupting the Waking World. Tom it directed by the Dreaming to bring together a band of heroes to help him in defeating the Nacht.

Book 1 of Quest for the Spark is your general introductory trilogy book; we meet the main cast of characters, both good and bad, and are introduced to the danger at hand. Not much else happens here, but it is a great addition to the Bone mythology. It's different from previous Bone stories in that it is a prose story, but it it illustrated in full color throughout by Jeff Smith (the creator of Bone) and the illustrations are fantastic. I've always been a fan of Jeff Smith's artistic style; it's very simplistic and minimal but he packs quite a bit of emotion into each art panel. I prefer to see his artwork in black and white (as it was originally presented) but the colored version of these illustrations are still gorgeous. Tom Sniegoski does a great job in keeping the light and whimsical yet serious and epic feel of Smith's writing from the original series. Overall, a great book and I can't wait for the next volume!