Coming soon! A brand new From My Bookshelf experience.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

WWW Wednesdays 10-31-12 - What am I reading this week?


WWW Wednesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading who asks you to answer the following three (3) questions...

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What am I currently reading?

This week, I'm working on Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake, the first book in The Gormenghast Trilogy. It's the October selection for the book group that I belong to, and so far I'm really enjoying it. I'm about halfway through the book, and am planning on finishing it this weekend. (I know what you're thinking... This is the last day of October, what am I doing waiting until the first weekend of November to finish the October selection? Well, this book is a chunkster, and everyone in the group is running behind on this one, so we're all in the same boat together.) Peake was a contemporary with J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, but he just never became as popular in the US. There is so much character development at the beginning of this book, that I'm really not even sure what the story is really about, as I'm still being introduced to the characters. I'll post up a review next week when I finish it.

I'm also working on Deborah Harkness' Shadow of Night on audiobook right now. I am so thoroughly enjoying Harkness' books. This book deals with time travel, and while this can be a tricky subject sometimes, Harkness is dealing with it very well. I also love her characters. She does such a great job fleshing out her characters! The audiobook is read by Jennifer Ikeda, who did a superb job with the audiobook of A Discovery of Witches, and I wanted to continue listening to the series based on her performance alone. If you enjoyed A Discovery of Witches, I'd highly recommend continuing with Shadow of Night. It picks directly up where Discovery ends, and deals with Diana and Matthew's journey to London, 1590. Highly recommended!

What did I recently finish reading?

I just finished Joyce Carol Oates' Zombie this morning, and all I can say is what an extraordinarily disturbing book! Told from the point of view of a serial killing sexual deviant, the book is not necessarily easy to read, and Oates does a good job at making the reader feel uncomfortable with not only the content of the story, but with the actual act of reading the story. Written in broken sentences and structures, we are seeing the world through the eyes of Q__ P__, and the world through his eyes is not a very pretty place. Recommended, but not for the squeamish.

I also recently finished with Ransom Riggs' Talking Pictures: Images and Messages Rescued from the Past. This is a collection of photos found at rummage sales and garage sales, and the captions that accompany them. Some are funny, some are touching, and all shine a light on times long past, even though we really have no frame of reference to what's going on with the photos, who they are of, or who they were supposed to be for.I really enjoyed this book and would look forward to another such volume from Riggs in the future.

What am I reading next?

To be honest, I'm not really sure what I'm going to be reading next. I've got quite a pile on TBR sooner rather than later books, so I think I'm just going to blind-grab something out of the pile and surprise myself! Happy reading!

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!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher


Title: Wishful Drinking
Author: Carrie Fisher
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 163
ISBN: 9781439102251
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Author Website:
Twitter: @simonschuster
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4/5 stars

I'm not generally a fan of the celebrity memoir. They often seem more self-serving than anything else, but when a friend of mine left Carrie Fisher's Wishful Drinking at my house one day, I thought I'd at least give it a try. It's a fairly slim volume, and I was able to zip through it in an afternoon, and I'm actually glad that she forgot the book. What Carrie Fisher offers (as a written version of her one woman show of the same name) is a fairly frank, no holds barred look into her life as both the child of a celebrity couple (her parents are Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher) and then as a celebrity herself. She's straight forward about her drug and alcohol problems and talks freely about her mental problems as well. She tells both touching and frankly quite funny stories and writes with an ease that makes the book very readable. Probably my favorite section of the book is the "Hollywood Incest 101" chapter, where she tries to figure out whether her daughter is somehow related to Elizabeth Taylor's grandson, which ends up with her saying they are "related by scandal."

Wishful Drinking is a unique peek into a celebrity's life and the struggles they can have with their fame, and Carrie Fisher handles it all with a writing flare that makes this memoir one not to miss. Recommended!

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury


Title: The Halloween Tree
Author: Ray Bradbury
Copyright: 1999
Pages: 160
ISBN: 9780375803017
Publisher: Yearling
Author Website:
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5 stars

On a race through history with the mysterious Mr. Moundshroud, 8 boys must learn the secrets and origins of Halloween night in order that they might save the life of their friend, Pipkin, who has been stricken ill on Halloween. Ray Bradbury weaves an imaginative story that creates a rather simplified but no less interesting history of Halloween night and the customs and cultural significances throughout history that help to create the holiday that we celebrate today. With his usual imagery, Bradbury's story is steeped in the eerie and sometimes scary nature that is Halloween night. One of my favorites to read this time of year.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lucretia and the Kroons by Victor Lavalle


Title: Lucretia and the Kroons
Author: Victor Lavalle
Copyright: 2012
Pages: 100
ISBN: 9780812984378
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Author Website:
Twitter: @spiegelandgrau, @victorlavalle
Format: eBook provided through NetGalley
Rating: 5/5 stars

Being young doesn't protect you. Horrors come for kids, too.

Never heard of Victor Lavalle before? That's OK, neither had I until I received a notice from NetGalley saying that this book was available for review. After reading Lucretia, I think this is something that I think I need to fix. Lucretia and the Kroons is a prequel of sorts to Victor Lavalle's The Devil in Silver and if The Devil in Silver is anywhere near as good as Lucretia, I think I'm in for a treat. A creepy treat, but a treat all the same. (Full disclosure here, I had no idea that Lucretia and the Kroons was anything more than a standalone story. I only discovered it was a prequel after I looked up Lavalle after reading the story.)

After Lucretia's (or Loochie's) mom tries to throw her a birthday party (to disastrous results), all she wants is for her friend Sunny to come home from hospital, where she is undergoing cancer treatment. On the big day of Sunny's return, Loochie's brother comes to their apartment and tells Loochie about the Kroons, a family of druggies who lived 2 floors above them in their apartment building. According to her brother, the landlord boarded the Kroons into their apartment to let them fend for themselves, as they had become far too dangerous to deal with, and nobody had seen them in quite some time. Loochie isn't sure if her brother is telling the truth or if he's just trying to scare her, but either way he tells her to be careful, as terrible things can still happen to her even though she is young. When Sunny is kidnapped by none other than the Kroons, Loochie takes it upon herself to rescue her best friend.

What follows is hard to describe. It is equal parts horror, magical realism, and coming of age. Loochie finds herself in a world gone wrong, yet one that is strangely familiar. Loochie eventually finds Sunny and saves her, but at what cost to either girl, or the one Kroon sister that has come to their aid? Based on the description of The Devil in Silver, the events of Lucretia and the Kroons is the explanation as to how Loochie ends up in the situation she finds herself in.

I know this all sounds really vague, but it needs to be. The story is too easy to spoil and really too hard to explain it without sounding crazy. I felt like I was reading a lost Twilight Zone screenplay. I could imagine what the world Loochie finds herself in easily, and could easily picture what this would look like as a television program or even on the big screen. Everything about this story is just like our world, just a little off. I thoroughly enjoyed ever bit of it, even though it is fairly short, and will definitely be checking out The Devil in Silver in the near future.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff


Title: The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories
Authors: Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff
Copyright: 2012
Pages: 304
ISBN: 9780761375272
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Author Website: The Merry Sisters of Fate
Twitter: @CarolrhodaLab, @msteifvater, @tessagratton, @brennayovanoff
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4/5 stars

The Curiosities started out as a collection of short stories that Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff were writing on their blog, The Merry Sisters of Fate. I don't know that they even intended for these to be printed, but they were there for the public to read, for the three authors to practice and possible write things stories that were not their normal fare. However, what really makes this collection stand out, at least to me, is that each of the three authors were asked to go through and mark up a manuscript, jotting down their notes, thoughts, and critiques on their own and each others' stories. There are notes written to each other, little doodles, inside jokes, and other fun facts strewn throughout the stories. I had almost as much fun reading their notes as I did reading the stories.

Now, I have books by all three authors on my shelves, but I've never gotten around to reading any of them, but when Maggie Stiefvater was doing a signing at my local indie, Schuler Books, they had this for sale, and it seemed like such a clever idea of a book, I decided to pick up a copy. Needless to say, I know want to read at least one book by each of the authors by year's end. I so thoroughly enjoyed working my way through this collection that I would like to see what each author can do with a full length novel.

The stories in the collection are:
The Vampire Box by Tessa Gratton
A Murder of Gods by Maggie Stiefvater
The Power of Intent by Brenna Yovanoff
A History of Love by Maggie Stiefvater
Girls Raised by Wolves by Brenna Yovanoff
Date with a Dragon Slayer by Tessa Gratton
Scheherazade by Brenna Yovanoff
The Spiral Table by Tessa Gratton
The Madness of Lancelot by Brenna Yovanoff
The Wind Takes Our Cries by Maggie Stiefvater
Auburn by Brenna Yovanoff
The Deadlier of the Species by Maggie Stiefvater
Puddles by Tessa Gratton
The Bone-Tender by Brenna Yovanoff
Death Ship by Tessa Gratton
The Last Day of Spring by Maggie Stiefvater
Cut by Brenna Yovanoff
Philosopher’s Flight by Maggie Stiefvater
Ash-Tree Spell to Break to Your Heart by Tessa Gratton
Rain Maker by Maggie Stiefvater
Dumb Supper by Tessa Gratton
Neighbors by Brenna Yovanoff
Council of Youth by Maggie Stiefvater
The Summer Ends in Slaughter by Tessa Gratton
Blue as God by Brenna Yovanoff
Thomas All by Tessa Gratton
Heart-Shaped Box by Maggie Stiefvater
Berserk by Tessa Gratton
Lazarus Girl by Brenna Yovanoff
Another Sun by Maggie Stiefvater

Nothing against the other two authors, but I think I found myself enjoying Yovanoff's stories the most. There was something about her writing and storytelling that just really clicked with me and I think I'd like to start one of her books sooner rather than later.

Overall, an excellent collection and highly recommended!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New gift edition of Stardust by Neil Gaiman coming from William Morrow


William Morrow is publishing a new gift edition of Neil Gaiman's Stardust next week on October 30, 2012. The book includes a new introduction and an extended acknowledgements by Gaiman as well as an original frontispiece and chapter headers by the incredible Charles Vess.

The book itself is just lovely. Gaiman mentions in his introduction how he hoped that the new edition could be printed as if it were a volume published in the 1920s, and I think that William Morrow accomplished that task very well. The cloth bound cover, lack of a dust jacket and duotone printed illustrations all come together to create a fantastic edition that will make the perfect gift for both new readers of Stardust and old friends of the book alike.


Monday, October 22, 2012

The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning, illustrated by Lorin Morgan-Richards


Title: The Pied Piper of Hamelin
Series: Folklore Mini-Series I
Authors: Robert Browning, illustrated by Lorin Morgan-Richards
Copyright: 2012
Pages: 28
ISBN: 9780985044701
Publisher: A Raven Above Press, in conjunction with Rorshoq Books
Format: Hardcover, handmade using recycled bookbinding material
Rating: 5/5 stars

The Pied Piper of Hamelin is "the first in a series of miniature books that focus on original folklore classics" and the latest edition from Lorin Morgan-Richards' A Raven Above Press. The wonderful thing about Morgan-Richards' books is that they are all handmade originals. He creates each book individually, so each is unique in its own way. Quite frankly, as far as I'm concerned, his books are miniature works of art. 

Lorin Morgan-Richards art reminds me of a modern day Charles Addams or Edward Gorey. He dabbles in the unusual and strange, yet there's just enough of the familiar in his artwork to keep it grounded. His artwork is perfectly matched to the tone of The Pied Piper of Hamelin, the familiar folklore tale of the strange Piper who comes to Hamelin to rid them of the rats that are infesting their town, and who then takes the children of Hamelin away with his magical, musical pipe after the townsfolk deny paying for his service. 


The book itself is rather tiny, measuring at just 4 inches tall and 3 inches wide, which really adds to its charm. I so thoroughly enjoy the books from A Raven Above Press, and I'm looking forward to future editions in the Folklore Mini-Series.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Treasures from the library

I love finding little treasures like this on the library free shelf. There's really nothing special about the volume, it's just a 1960s paperback edition, but I just love the look and feel of vintage books like this.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Justice Leage, Vol 1: Origin by Geoff Johns, art by Jim Lee


Title: Justice Leage, Vol 1: Origin
Series: Justice League
Authors: Geoff Johns, art by Jim Lee
Copyright: 2012
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781401234614
Publisher: DC Comics
Twitter: @DCComics, @JimLee, @geoffjohns
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 3/5 stars

So, late last year, DC Comics decided that they were going to reboot their entire line of comics, starting all the series over with new #1 issues, paring the lines offered down to 52 titles, giving some characters new origins while only updating other characters origins a little. (I'm still not sure if the new titles and characters in their new universe "know" about the old universe or not; that all seems rather vague.) They called this The New 52, and it was kind of a bid deal at the time. Their new flagship title for the entire lineup was going to be Justice League, written by Geoff Johns with art handled by Jim Lee. DC was so sure of the power of this one book that it was the only title released that week from their company. Of course, I got all wrapped up in the hype and was down at my local comic shop at the midnight release for the title. I got home, read it, and after all the hype and excitement was left with a decidedly "Meh!" feeling over the whole thing.

It reads like a big, blockbuster summer movie. Lots of explosions! Lots of excitement! It's fast paced! There's a lot of visual coolness to the whole thing. And... that's about it. I decided to wait to pick up the rest of the series until they released it as a collected edition, and I don't know that the "Meh!" feeling ever left as I read the first six issues, which is all basically about how Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Superman, Aquaman, Flash, and Cyborg all joined forces to become the Justice League. That first issue was all about Batman and Green Lantern arguing back and forth, with the subsequent issues bringing the other heroes into the group one by one, to fight their big nemesis, Darkseid, whom they seem to be able to beat without much struggle, just a lot of explosions! And excitement! And fast pacing! And it looks so cool! And... that's about it.

Now, don't get me wrong. Jim Lee's artwork is, as usual, stunning. But he does fall into some of his same old patterns, where the guys all kinda look the same, and Wonder Woman was amazing impossible proportions, but he's still the best artist in the business as far as I'm concerned. Geoff Johns writing also isn't bad, but it isn't great either. For their flagship title, I guess I was just expecting something more. Will I pick up the next collected edition? Probably, but really it would really be just for Jim Lee's artwork more than anything else. If the next story is still so much flash and not enough substance, I think I may be passing on this after Jim Lee has finished his run on the title.

Obviously, it's worth reading if you're interested in The New 52 or are a big DC fan (which I'm not - I'm a Marvel guy, really). Just make sure you pop yourself some popcorn, get a big soda, and check your brain at the door.

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, October 10, 2012

Humble eBook Bundle

Here is a great opportunity to pick up some fantastic eBooks. Cory Doctorow, Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean, John Scalzi, Paolo Bacigalupi, Lauren Beukes, Mercedes Lackey, and Kelly Link have gotten together and are offering a Humble eBook Bundle. The Humble Bundle is a "pay what you want" order, and you can have a portion of what you pay go to charity, the books are DRM-free and multi-format, so you can move them from platform to platform.

Check out the video below to learn more and then go and order yourself a Humble eBook Bundle!