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Monday, September 30, 2013

September 2013 Recap

Books Read

10 books finished
  1. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
  2. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
  3. The Fifty Year Sword by Mark Z. Danielewski 
  4. Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
  5. The Homecoming by Ray Bradbury, illustrated by Dave McKean
  6. Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Skottie Young 
  7. Avengers vs X-Men: Consequences
  8. Charmed, I'm Sure by Elliott James
  9. Uncanny X-Men, Vol 1: Revolution
  10. Little Red Riding Hood by the Brothers Grimm, illustrated by Daniel Egneus
2,077 pages total

Gender of author:
3 male
7 female

Year of Publication:
1 - 1880
1 - 2005
2 - 2006
6 - 2013

Books Acquired

26 books total

16 acquired at publisher rep breakfast at local Indie
3 hardcovers purchased at local Indie
3 paperbacks purchased at local Indie
1 paperback from author for review
1 paperback from publisher for review
2 ARCs picked up from library

3 have been read

2013 Year to Date Totals

Books Read: 70
Pages Read: 14,709

Books Acquired: 180
Books Acquired Read: 32

The Fifty Year Sword by Mark Z. Danielewski

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Title: The Fifty Year Sword
Author: Mark Z. Danielewski
Copyright: 2005
Pages: 288
ISBN: 9780307907721
Publisher: Pantheon
Author Website: MZD
Twitter: @markdanielewski, @PantheonBooks
Format: Hardcover
Available: October 16, 2012
Rating: 2/5 stars

Really more a concept than an actual story/book, Mark Z. Danielewski's The Fifty Year Sword is a horror story, of sorts. The story is told from the point of view of five children, in one long stream of conscious dialogue, with the only distinction about which child is speaking made through the color of the quotation marks set around each sentence. It almost reads as one large, run-on paragraph, so it would seem that the children almost speak in a collective, each continuing the sentence from the previous speaker. I gave up fairly quickly trying to determine who was speaking and just read through the story as if it were being told from just one person.

The story, as it were, is simple enough (and is really nothing more than a glorified short story drawn out into a 280+ page book). The five children are at a Halloween party when a stranger arrives carrying a long black box. The story the stranger tells is of the Fifty Year Sword, and his journey to acquire it. What follows is a display of the power of the sword, much to the dismay of one of the party goers. And that's it. The story the stranger tells is vaguely atmospheric, but the ending is reasonably predictable given the outcome of the strangers journey and his story.

About the length of the book. As I stated earlier, it's a glorified short story, and all the text in the book is presented on the left-hand page only. If there is some significance to this placement, it went above my head. I'd be willing to bet there aren't more than 40 words per page, and pages with that much text are few and far between. This was released as an ebook as well, and I think that the ebook had animated graphics and music accompanying it, so I think this was meant to be viewed on an ereader as opposed to something actually physically published. The story has also been performed live, on Halloween, as a shadow show, and I have a feeling this is where the true impact of the story would be felt, but presented in this static, printed format, the story falls short.

I don't think I'd actually recommend this book to anyone except those that enjoy uniquely published works that have physical distinction that sets them apart from other physical books, which is the only reason I'm keeping this in my library.

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!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Cursed Pirate Girl by Jeremy Bastian

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Title: Cursed Pirate Girl
Author: Jeremy Bastian
Copyright: 2013
Pages: 152
ISBN: 9781936393602
Publisher: Archaia Entertainment
Author Website: Jeremy Bastian's blog
Twitter: @Archaia, @JeremyBastian
Format: Hardcover
Available: January 1, 2013
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Cursed Pirate Girl is more than just a story or a graphic novel, it's more a piece of art.  The story, about the Cursed Pirate Girl who is trying to find her pirate father on the great Omerta Sea, is not bad, but it's not great. the story is reminiscent of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, as the characters all seem more like caricatures of themselves rather than the actual person that they are. (Does that even make sense? It does in my head, so there you go.) There is a certain amount of the fantastical going on in the story, so that adds to the similarity for me. Beyond that general similarity of feeling about the story, that's as far as it goes. This is a swashbuckling, scurvy-filled story of pirates on the high seas as the scrappy young heroine of our story, the Cursed Pirate Girl, is convinced of her parentage because of the dreams she has, is in search of her pirate-king father.  The story is fun, but overall, not that exceptionally engaging.

What is engaging, however, is the freakish amount of detail that Jeremy Bastian puts into his art. Seriously, there is a lot of detail. You'd-better-have-a-magnifying-glass-handy kind of detail. And from what I understand, he creates his pages at the size printed, so unless you have a copy of the book in your hands, you won't appreciate this fact and how amazing an artist Jeremy Bastian is for this fact alone.

The book itself is beautiful. The folks at Archaia did a bang-up job of producing this volume. The paper that the book is printed on looks like parchment, complete with rough, deckle edges on the pages. It's really quite the production overall, and really adds to the look and feel that Bastian creates with his artwork.

So, while the story left me a little wanting, the overall experience of the book is enough to make me likely pick up the next volume when it is released.

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, September 18, 2013

Help for the Haunted by John Searles

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Title: Help for the Haunted
Author: John Searles
Copyright: 2013
Pages: 368
ISBN: 9780060779634
Publisher: William Morrow
Twitter: @WmMorrowBks, @searlesbooks
Format: Hardcover
Available: September 17, 2013
Rating: 4/5 stars

John Searles' quiet thriller spins out it's web of plausibility slowly and carefully. We are introduced to the daughters of two murdered spiritualists -- a couple who spent years helping those who are haunted or possessed -- through the eyes of the younger daughter trying to keep secrets in and horror out. The perspective in this novel is one of the best uses of point-of-view I've seen in a while -- the reader peels back the pages of this family's history with the same pace and the same occasional confusion as that young woman. We see what might be true and what should be doubted with the clear trust of a child, a teenager, a daughter. The puzzle pieces come together in measured fashion throughout the novel -- until the very end, when the reader is jolted into a sudden understanding of something we might have thought was a throwaway line 200 pages ago. Whether you will take pleasure at the twisting reveal or hum with rage at having your attention tricked toward other distractions depends on what kind of reader you are. Either way, this is a pretty good mystery to take on.

(Guest reviewed by Sarah G.)

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, September 17, 2013

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

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Title: Perfect Ruin
Series: The Internment Chronicles, Book 1
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Copyright: 2013
Pages: 368
ISBN: 9781442480612
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
Author Website:
Twitter: @LaurenDeStefano, @simonteen
Format: Hardcover (I borrowed an ARC from a fellow blogger)
Available: October 1, 2013
Rating: 5/5 stars

I'll just put it right out there, I love Lauren Destefano's writing. Love it. Several years ago, I received an ARC of Wither, the first book in The Chemical Garden Trilogy, and I honestly wasn't so sure about it. Based on the blurb, I didn't think I was going to like it at all, and to be honest, after reading, I still wasn't so sure but I liked the premise and world-building enough to check out the second book, Fever. That was when my love was firmly cemented for her writing. Now, to be fair, I haven't yet read Sever, the final book in the trilogy, only because I wasn't ready for the books to end and didn't want to wait too long until her next book came out. I'll be remedying that this week.

To see the jump in crafting her writing from Wither to Fever, and now onto Perfect Ruin, has been a pleasure. DeStefano is clearly learning how to hone her writing, and it is obvious in Perfect Ruin. Her style is so immersive and minimalist, she can pull you into a story with such little effort and ease. I quickly grew attached to not only the main characters of the story, but the secondary characters as well. Everyone in the book is an important part in how the story plays out, and she doesn't squander any of her characters.

The story takes place on Internment, a floating city in the sky above what I believe is Earth. Because of the limited space for the current population and no room for an increase in that number, the people of Internment live by some fairly strict rules set in place by the ruling family to make sure the peace is kept (Betrothals, birthing queues, forced lifespans among these rules). The people of Internment live in a forced peace, mostly content with their lives on the floating island, but there are some that wonder what is at the edge of Internment and what is on the ground below them. Those that get too close to the edge are never the same afterward, having been changed both mentally and sometimes physically by the experience, but what it is that forces these changes is never quite explained. In fact, while there is a tremendous amount explained about the workings of the city of Internment (if not explained outright, then through the explanations and reactions of the characters), but there is so much left to discover: What is Internment, exactly? Why is it floating above the Earth? What keeps it afloat? Much of this is kept secret from the reader, much like the residents of Internment are kept in the dark, and I think (hope) we'll find out the answers to these questions as they do. (I already have my suspicions. I'll be curious to see if I'm correct or not.)

These and many more questions secretly float around in the head of Morgan Stockhour. She knows that these thoughts would label her as an irrational, but much like her brother, Lex, who did get to close to the edge of Internment and is now paying the price, she can't get the thoughts out of her head. She knows that she should follow the rules, finish her schooling, marry her betrothed, and carry with her life like she should. She just can't; her mind wanders to the edge too frequently. When the first murder in a generation occurs, it throws the tight knit community into turmoil. Morgan finds herself in increasingly difficult situations, she slowly begins to realize that life on Internment may not be all that it seems to be. The cliffhanger ending to the book is pitch perfect, seriously leaving me gasping for more! I finished the last sentence and had to put the book down for a moment before going back and re-reading the last bits again. The sense of adventure and wonder that I was left with was palpable and I can't believe that I have to wait until who knows when for the next book. Alas and alack, first world problems and all that, right?

Needless to say, DeStefano has created a damned fine book. She avoids some of the YA stereotypes in this volume (Hello, lack of love triangle! So refreshing to see you again!) which I find as a huge plus for this book. Her characters are believable, and I feel for each and everyone of them. The mystery of Internment is fantastic, and as for what that happens next? Well, I will be waiting with bated breath for the next volume of The Internment Chronicles. Thank you, Lauren DeStefano, for crafting us such a fantastic book!

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!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Holly Black, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, and a Giveaway!

Last week, my local Indie, Schuler Books, hosted Holly Black on the last stop of her tour to promote her newest book, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. I've seen Holly before, and she's always a delight to meet and listen to. It was hard to get a picture of her because she's so animated when she talks. You can tell she really enjoys meeting her fans and sharing in all of our mutual love of good books.

Speaking of good books, I thoroughly enjoyed The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. In a sea of recent YA trilogies that seem to all follow the same basic template, it's refreshing to discover a one-off volume that breaks some of those templates and is able to stand on its own. Haven't read Coldest Girl yet, or would like to get your hands on a signed edition? This is for you! I had received an ARC copy prior to publication of Coldest Girl and then ended up buying a copy at the signing. I got both copies signed and I'd like to share my ARC copy with you. Just enter below for a chance to win!

Good luck and happy reading!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Summer Falls by Amelia Williams

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Title: Summer Falls
Author: Amelia Williams
Copyright: 2013
Pages: 70
ISBN: 9781448141531
Publisher: Random House UK
Twitter: @bbcdoctorwho, @DoctorWho_BBCA, @atrandom, @RandomHouseUK
Format: Kindle
Available: April 4, 2013
Rating: 4/5 stars

I've really enjoyed these ebook tie-ins to the Doctor Who television show. They're nice little nods to the fans and do help to expand the story in their own way. In the first episode of the second part of season seven, "The Bells of Saint John", one of the children that Clara is taking care of as nanny is reading a book titled Summer Falls by Amelia Williams, who Doctor Who fans will know as Amy Pond, the Doctor's previous female companion. (And just in case some readers aren't caught up, I'll not reveal any spoilers as to why Amy isn't traveling with the Doctor by this point.) Clara asks about the book Artie is reading, says it's a good one, and it was basically left at that.

BBC then released an ebook version of the book, and what follows would seem to be Amy Pond's love song to the Doctor in print form. The story revolves around Kate and her adventures trying to keep the The Lord of Winter at bay. The Doctor clearly makes an appearance, but he his role is more of a background one, as Kate and her reluctant friends try to solve the mystery of the Lord of Winter.

I really enjoyed this quick read and obviously for Whovians, there are little Easter eggs spread throughout. Whovians may be the only ones to get some of the inside jokes in the story, but it's written well enough that I think even the most causal fan of Doctor Who or general reader will be able to enjoy the story.

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, September 11, 2013

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield


Title: The Thirteenth Tale
Author: Diane Setterfield
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 416
ISBN: 9780743298025
Publisher: Atria Books
Twitter: @AtriaBooks
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 5/5 stars

The Thirteenth Tale is one of those rare books that come along, grabs you from the first page, won't let go until the very end, and then leaves you wanting more. Harkening back to Gothic novels such as Jane Eyre, The Thirteenth Tale weaves an intricate spell in its telling, leaving you feeling slightly dazed at the conclusion.

When Margaret Lea receives a mysterious note one day from England's premier storyteller, Vida Winter, little does she know that what commences will be a story unlike any she has ever heard. Vida Winter is the consummate storyteller of her day, providing no less than 19 versions of her life's story. Margaret Lea is a biographer who deals in only facts. When Vida Winter finally decides to tell the truth to Margaret, naturally she can only be suspicious. Margaret asks for 3 verifiable details from Miss Winter's life, and when Miss Winter offers those up, she knows that she will be given the truth. The truth is a story so compelling and well-written that she becomes lost in its telling and the fabric of Miss Winter's life.

For the reader, Diane Setterfield has created an amazingly haunting ghost story. There are so many twists and turns that I didn't even realize were occurring that when I discovered them, I would backtrack just to see how cleverly she placed them in the story. Compared to some of the greatest works of Gothic romance and mystery, you'll find a little bit of everything here: secrets, mysteries, murder, madness, obsession, ghosts. Setterfield brings all the elements familiar to the genre together into her own masterfully written tale, creating a book that is both spellbinding and unforgettable. This is one of those books that I would place at the top of my all time favorites and can read and reread over again. If you are looking for a great paced, well-written Gothic adventure, then this book is for you!

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, September 10, 2013

Book release: 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: Hardcover
Available: September 10, 2013
Rating: 4/5 stars

Spirit Animals, Book 1: Wild Born by Brandon Mull from Scholastic is released today! Read my review of this fast-paced middle grade adventure here.

You can pick it up at your favorite bookstore and play along online at Scholastic's website.

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!

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

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Title: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Author: Holly Black
Copyright: 2013
Pages: 432
ISBN: 9780316213103
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Author Website:
Twitter: @hollyblack
Format: Hardcover
Available: September 3, 2013
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I'm not going to lie, I was a little concerned going into The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. I've been mildly burnt out on YA recently, with many of the current reads seeming vaguely formulaic. The biggest thing that constantly bugged me was the inevitable love triangle between the heroine and the two (predictably) hot guys, one being the friend who may or may not be already involved with the heroine, and then the "bad" guy, who may or may not actually be bad, but is clearly out of the heroine's comfort zone. A fellow reader told me that Coldest Girl was not like that, yet when the book opens with our heroine, Tana, waking up after a party to find everyone in the house dead with the exception of her ex-boyfriend and another vampire, I immediately thought, "Sigh. Another love triangle. And so soon!" I trust my friend, though, so I persevered and continued on without setting the book down after the first couple of chapters, and I'm not disappointed I did.

Black constructs some nice world building around her vampires and what it takes to infect a person and turn them into a vampire. Instead of an instantaneous transformation, humans can come down with an infection, known as going Cold, and it is possible to fight off the infection and not turn. Yet, if an infected human drinks human blood, then they will turn into a vampire. In order to quarantine both those infected and turned, certain cities across the country are walled off (known then as Coldtowns) and those inside try to get by as best they can. Like most of Black's stories, this isn't a fairytale world. These Coldtowns are dirty, grungy, dangerous places with their own sense of glamour and beauty.

Tana proves to be a strong protagonist throughout, not generally needing help from others. This was refreshing, as is the fact that this is a stand alone story. Black seems to have intentionally tried to downplay anything that makes for a "typical" YA paranormal story these days: Trilogies. Strong, but not strong, female protagonists. The love triangle. All of these things are almost there, but she pulls back before toppling too far into that territory, and for that I'm thankful.

Black's writing again leaves me in a love/hate relationship. Her writing is solid and clear, yet it always leaves me wanting. I'm never quite sure what I want, but it always seems that whatever that "thing" is that will push me over the edge to simply loving her writing is always just out of reach for me. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is really good storytelling, and fans of her work shouldn't be disappointed and should be a good introduction for those not familiar with her work.

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!