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Saturday, August 31, 2013

August 2013 Recap

Books Read

6 books finished
  1. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
  2. Doctor Who and the Tenth Planet by Gerry Davis
  3. William Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher
  4. Spirit Animals, Book 1: Wild Born by Brandon Mull
  5. The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting 
  6. Night Film by Marisha Pessl 
1,684 pages total

Gender of author:
2 male
4 female

Year of Publication:
1 - 1920
1 - 1926
1 - 1976
3 - 2013

Books Acquired

12 books total

1 hardcover purchased at Schuler
1 paperback purchased at Afterwords in Chicago
5 used hardcovers purchased at Schuler in Grand Rapids
2 used paperbacks purchased at Schuler in Grand Rapids
1 hardcover received as gift
1 ARC received from publisher
1 hardcover purchased thru Subterranean Press

3 have been read

2013 Year to Date Totals

Books Read: 60
Pages Read: 12,635

Books Acquired: 154
Books Acquired Read: 31

Friday, August 30, 2013

William Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher

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Title: William Shakespeare's Star Wars
Author: Ian Doescher
Copyright: 2013
Pages: 176
ISBN: 9781594746376
Publisher: Quirk Books
Author Website:
Twitter: @iandoescher, @quirkbooks
Format: Hardcover
Available: July 2, 2013
Rating: 4/5 stars

I'm fairly certain that one on going into this book is going to take it seriously. Shakespeareans and hardcore Star Wars fans could very well be appalled by the very existence of this book, but I think geeks in general will love this. The book is exactly what the title says it is, the entirety of Episode IV (A New Hope - here titled, Verily, A New Hope) presented in all the glory of iambic pentameter as if the Bard himself had written it, complete with archaic turns of phrase and punctuation. Ian Doescher is clearly well-versed in Shakespeare's writing style to have pulled this off so well.

Is it goofy? Yep. Is it a great work of literature? Nope. Is it still fantastic fun? Hell, yes! Do I want to see the other two episodes from the original trilogy presented just the same? Absolutely! Everything about the book and presentation, from the writing to the illustrations of scenes from the movie as if they were from an Elizabethan stage production (the illustrations are made to look like wood engravings) is just spot on to create a book that is damn fun to read.

Sometime soon, I think I may need to pop the Bluray of A New Hope in and read this while watching it at the same time. That should be an interesting combination! 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!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

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Title: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
Series: Hercule Poirot, Book 4
Author: Agatha Christie
Copyright: 2004 (1926)
Pages: 358
ISBN: 9780425200476
Publisher: Berkley
Author Website:
Twitter: @penguinusa
Format: Paperback
Available: August 31, 2004
Rating: 5/5 stars

My reading group's selection for July was The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, so instead of rehashing what I wrote before, I'm just going to copy and paste my thoughts from when I first read the book several years ago.
I'm still relatively new to the world of Agatha Christie as The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is only the third book that Dame Agatha wrote that I have read. I've heard that she has been known to reuse plot devices and that sometimes, some of her stories can become repetitive, but if they are all written like The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, I would be happy with that. This will easily top my list of favorite books.

I don't want to go into too much detail, as I'm always afraid that I'll let something slip that will spoil the end of the story for newcomers to Christie's writing. The book is so complex that I wouldn't even know where to begin. There is a suicide, blackmail, cocaine abuse, secrets, and of course, murder. In his usual flair, Hercule Poirot (who happens to be in the right place at the right time) is brought in to investigate. Through the course of the book, suspicion is plainly brought on each of the main characters in the Ackroyd household, and you will never have a clue as to "who done it" until the very end. Every chapter, I was sure I knew who had committed the murder, yet every time I was wrong. An ingenious book.

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, August 27, 2013

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

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Title: Night Film
Author: Marisha Pessl
Copyright: 2013
Pages: 624
ISBN: 9781400067886
Publisher: Random House
Author Website:
Twitter: @marishapessl, @atrandom
Format: ARC picked up at ALA
Available: August 20, 2013
Rating: 4/5 stars

Marisha Pessl's sophomore novel, Night Film, is a hard creature to categorize. Part occult thriller, part mystery, part WTFery, part paranormal chiller, part crazy, drug-induced reading material, I had no idea half the time where the story was going. I kept thinking, "Oh, this must be It! The Thing. The Thing causing all the crazy in these people's lives!" But no, I was wrong, every time.

The book opens with the apparent suicide of Ashley Cordova, daughter of legendary film director Stanislas Cordova, whose films are so gut wrenching and insanity inducing that they have been more or less banned from theaters and only available as bootlegged editions or played in catacombs around the world in the middle of the night (hence, the name, Night Film. Disgraced journalist Scott McGrath (who became a disgraced journalist due to his earlier work trying to uncover the secrets around Cordova) decides to investigate Ashley's death, to see if there is more to it than a simple suicide. What follows is this rabbit hole of a twisty, turny nightmare for Scott and Hopper and Nora, two people Scott reluctantly take on as "assistants" and who may or may not have something more to do with Ashley than they initially let on.

The story starts off relatively normal (for lack of a better word), but with each discovery made about Ashley's life, the stranger the turns in the story become. Most of it seems highly implausible, but the nature of the book makes even the most implausible turns in the story seem plausible in this book's particular world. Once the characters start down the rabbit hole of piecing together the last couple of days of Ashley's life, the reader needs to stop trying to make sense of what is happening in the story. Just go with it. It inevitably works in the end, even though there are sections of the book that made me feel that I may have been going a bit crazy myself. This is the thing with Pessl; I don't know that I can honestly say that she's a great writer. She's a good writer, just not great. What she is great at, though, is telling a story. Crafting it, honing it, making you feel a little like you're going down your own rabbit hole while reading the story, and when you finally come out the other end, you're left honestly wondering what just happened. It's been several days since I finished Night Film, and I can honestly say I don't really know what to make of the book. There are bits referenced towards the end of the book that I don't actually remember reading, but I'm sure are there. There are bits of the story that I had to read two or three times to make sure I could understand what exactly was happening, and I'm still not entirely sure I know what was going on. Most of what I'm talking about doesn't occur until the last 1/4 of the book, but once you read it, you'll know what I'm talking about. So, Pessl isn't a great writer, but she's able to carry off a damned good story over the course of a 600 page book with her own style and sense of ease.


Dear lord, somebody needs to tell that woman that intelligent readers are able to figure out when emphasis or sarcasm are being implied in writing, and she doesn't need to italicize Every. Single. Instance. Every. Single. Time. No joke. Pessl wields italics like a child with a new toy; as if she just discovered the italicize function on her computer, so therefore must use it everywhere. There are at least 6-10 italicized words/phrases per page. PER PAGE! When you take into account this book clocks in around 600 pages, that is a staggeringly overused amount of italics. It's not always used for inner dialogue. If there was quite a bit of inner dialogue, that would be one thing, but sometimes it's just random words in a paragraph. Maybe she does it on purpose, and I'm sorry to keep going on about this, but damn, it is seriously distracting. I would find myself ripped out of the story, just to count the number of instances per page. Less is more, Marisha Pessl. Less is more.

OK. I got that out of the way. (Seriously. The italics bugged me. A lot.)

Now, I also need to talk about a very, very cool aspect of this book. Pessl is clearly very aware of the digital age we live in, so uses some very clever techniques in the book to create a sort of multimedia presentation in print form. Included within the pages of the story are text messages, web pages, court documents, phone transcripts, photos, magazine articles, etc., all of which help to tell the story and carry it along. These techniques also help to blur the line between fiction and reality, giving the book a slightly otherworldly feel, almost as if we may actually be reading the true account of the real-life journalist Scott McGrath and his real-life investigation into the larger-than-life, mysterious presence that is Stanislas Cordova.

And just take a moment to appreciate that cover up there. I LOVE the cover on this book. Whoever put the entire package of this book together did a bang up job.

So, I guess I can recommend the book, but with some reservation. I don't think it's going to be for everyone, but no book ever is, right? All I know is that Marisha Pessl impressed me enough that I picked up her first book, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, and am looking forward to starting that. If you like something a little out of the ordinary, something that is a little unique, you'd be hard-pressed to find something better than Night Film.

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!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Spirit Animals, Book 1: Wild Born by Brandon Mull

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Title: Wild Born
Series: Spirit Animals, Book 1
Author: Brandon Mull
Copyright: 2013
Pages: 224
ISBN: 9780545522434
Publisher: Scholastic
Author Website:
Twitter: @brandonmull, @Scholastic
Format: ARC picked up at ALA
Available: September 10, 2013
Rating: 4/5 stars

Spirit Animals is the next series in Scholastic's multi-author, multi-platform, multimedia book series for middle graders, along with The 39 Clues and The Infinity Ring. I haven't had any experience with the other two series, so I don't know how this one holds up to those two, but when I saw this book available at ALA earlier this year, I thought I'd give it a chance.

I was actually pleasantly surprised by Brandon Mull's world building. He doesn't waste much time before we are thrown directly into the story and are given history to the character's world and mythology right away. In the world of Erdas, when a child turns 11, they are given Nectar to see if they can call a spirit animal to them. Not every child calls a spirit animal, and it is never known which animal they will call. The spirit animals become a companion to the child and they learn to work together, the child gaining some more than natural ability that is attributed to what their spirit animal is. When the animal is dormant, it becomes a tattoo on the person that it is bound to.

Four children from around the world (very deliberately multi-cultural, and very PC with 2 boys and 2 girls) each are given Nectar and they then each call one of the Four Fallen great animals of legend. It has been prophesied by a member of the Greencloaks (those in charge of protecting the Nectar and Erdas) that these four children were going to call on the great animals because their world is endangered as the Devourer, a great evil from the past, has also returned.

What follows from here is a fast paced adventure where the children must take on their first challenge and learn to work together with both themselves and their spirit animals. I really think this series will be a hit with both boys and girls, as Mull does a great job of portraying the kids in the book realistically, showing that kids can be smart and strong, but at that age, they still have insecurities to get over, and that it's OK to have those insecurities because their still young. I think the fantasy elements will go over well with kids, as they are portrayed as grand in scope, but not overwhelming, so I think a younger audience will really go for this. I'm sure the online interactivity will also be a big draw for kids. You will be able to go online and create a character and call on a spirit animal and it looks like you'll be able to play online games and check in with other friends who are playing as well. Like I said before, since I've not had any experience with Scholastic's other books that tie in with an online element for kids, I can't really give much more information than this, but I'm assuming they are doing well, as this is the third such series that Scholastic is putting out.

I'll be picking up the next book to see how the continuing authors carry on with the groundwork that Mull has set. The next book in the series, which if the cover is anything to go on deals with the wolf spirit animals, is written by Maggie Steifvater, who is no stranger to wolf-based fiction with her Shiver Trilogy for young adults. That book will be released in January, 2014.

You can pick up a copy of Spirit Animals, Book 1: Wild Born by Brandon Mull from Scholastic on September 10, 2013, at your favorite bookstore!

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, August 14, 2013

Doctor Who and the Tenth Planet by Gerry Davis

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Title: Doctor Who and the Tenth Planet
Series: Doctor Who Library
Author: Gerry Davis
Copyright: 1976 (2012)
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781849904742
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Twitter: @EburyPublishing, @bbcdoctorwho, @DrWhoBBCBooks
Format: Paperback
Available: May 10, 2012
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is a current reprint from BBC Books of a vintage Target Books novelization of the Doctor Who story, The Tenth Planet, the First Doctor's final adventure. Target Books would release novelizations of just about every Doctor Who episode, though not necessarily in the order that they serials were released to television. For instance, Doctor Who and the Tenth Planet was released in 1976, while the serial it was based on was broadcast in 1966. I have not seen the episodes this novelization was based on, but I'm familiar with the events and feel like the novel did a more than adequate job of translating the story to print. In fact, I think given that the story was written a decade after the episodes aired, Davis was able to improve on the story in some ways, since the future that was being described in the 1960s episodes was far closer to the 1970s story being told here. In the afterword, it is revealed that there are some changes made to the story, replacing scenes where the Doctor was missing from the aired episodes (William Hartnell was absent from an entire episode of filming due to illness, so changes to the script had to be made to include that absence), slight changes in time (the television episodes took place in 1986, the novelization takes place in 2000), and changes to the way the Doctor regenerated.

This adventure was also the introduction to the Cybermen, who came from Earth's sister planet Mondas, and who were coming to destroy the Earth. Mondas was a dying planet, and when it came back into our solar system, it started to leech power away from the Earth, so that eventually Earth would be laid to waste and Mondas would be a strong planet again. The Cybermen come to Earth to keep the security forces of the planet from interfering with the energy transference to Mondas. Naturally, the Doctor and his companions, Polly and Ben, find themselves in the right place at the right time (or the wrong place at the wrong time, depending on how you look at it), and the Doctor seems to know exactly what's going on and helps to defend the Earth.  Through the course of this adventure, the Doctor grows more and more weak, eventually resulting in his first regeneration.

I really enjoyed reading this novelization. One of the things that made it really work for me was how contemporary the writing and feel of the story is for something that was written 35 years ago. Had I not know when the story was written before I read it, I would have thought it had been written more recently. I felt that the changes Davis made to the story worked well, especially since he wrote the original screenplay for The Tenth Planet and is responsible for the creation of the Cybermen, and was asked by Target to write this novelization ten years later.

This is my first experience with the Target Books edition of Doctor Who stories, and I'm fairly sure I'll be picking more up as I find them.  Recommended for Doctor Who fans!

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, August 13, 2013

New book in the mail

I almost fainted yesterday when I opened this package from Simon & Schuster. I know what I'm reading next!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Glitter & Doom: A Masque of the Red Death Story by Bethany Griffin

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Title: Glitter & Doom: A Masque of the Red Death Story
Series: Masque of the Red Death
Author: Bethany Griffin
Copyright: 2013
Pages: 50
ISBN: 9780062225665
Publisher: Under the Green Willow
Author Website:
Twitter: @_bethanygriffin, @GreenwillowBook
Format: ebook
Available: 3-26-13
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is just a short bridge between Masque of the Red Death and Dance of the Red Death, so there really isn't a lot of necessary information in this book (having not read Dance yet, this is an assumption, but I'd be surprised if there was something vital to the overall story in this novella). What we have here, though, are a couple of scenes seen through April's eyes, so it's interesting to get her perspective on what's going on around her. I am anxious to get to Dance of the Red Death. These books constantly surprise me by how much I enjoy them!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

July 2013 Recap

Books Read

5 books finished
  1. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  2. Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger
  3. A Boy Called Dickens by Deborah Hopkinson
  4. Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint 
  5. The Wednesday Daughters by Meg Waite Clayton
1,006 pages total

Gender of author:
2 male
3 female

Year of Publication:
1 - 1993
1 - 2012
3 - 2013

Books Acquired

2 books total

1 hardcover purchased at book signing at Schuler
1 paperback purchased at Schuler

1 has been read

2013 Year to Date Totals

Books Read: 54
Pages Read: 10,948

Books Acquired: 142
Books Acquired Read: 25