Coming soon! A brand new From My Bookshelf experience.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Donate to a good cause

 photo BINCv9_03_zps63b99000.gif

Do you love your local book store? Do you appreciate the help and support that your local booksellers offer you when you go to their store? Do you wish there was some way that you could return that help, even just a little? Well, book lovers, there is! I recently found out about Binc, an organization dedicated to helping booksellers when they are having trouble financially.

From their own website:
Welcome to the Book Industry Charitable (Binc) Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to assisting booksellers in need since 1996. The Binc Foundation grew out of a wish of bookstore employees to establish a fund to help their colleagues experiencing an unexpected financial crisis. Binc is dedicated to assisting bookstore employees across the country in their greatest time of need.

I think this is a genius endeavor. I love seeing how the book community takes care of its own. My local bookstore means the world to me; they've created such a wonderful place for me and my friends to go and relax, talk books, and enjoy each others company. I can count many of the employees at the store as friends now, and I want to be able to pay it forward to them in a small way. Bookstores and booksellers have been such a huge part of my life, and to be able to help, even in a small way like this, just seems important to me.

I'm not a bookseller. I'm not in any way affiliated with Binc. I have no hand in their organization, nor do I get any kind of kickback from them for this post. This is 100% me talking, just a normal guy who loves his bookstore. I think this is an important service that we can offer to the people who work hard to share their love of books with us. If you want to help give back to them, please take a moment and consider donating to Binc. I know that they would be eternally grateful.

Happy reading, everyone!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

RIP Maya Angelou

 photo xmaya-angeloujpgpagespeedicsMJluTmRg-_zps17abc625.jpg

The world lost a beautiful voice today. Maya Angelou, literary great and civil rights activist, passed away at age 86. You can read more about her remarkable life at the New York Times website. I'm freely stealing this from a friend on Facebook, but it sums up my feelings perfectly as well:
While everyone must die when it's their time, there are some people that are so iconic that it breaks you up a little inside. Maya is definitely one of those people.

The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey

 photo 031627815701_SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zps64826e0b.jpg

Title: The Girl with All the Gifts
Author: M. R. Carey
Copyright: 2014
Pages: 403
ISBN: 9780316278157
Publisher: Orbit Books
Twitter: @orbitbooks
Format: Hardcover (ARC read for review)
Available: June 10, 2014
Rating: 5/5 stars

This is one of those situations where the more I've enjoyed a book, the less I want to talk about it on here, lest I give something away. The Girl with All the Gifts is one of those books that you really need to just go into blind, and let it reveal itself to you, chapter by chapter. There's honestly a part of me that is already wishing that I could go back and read this again, for the first time.

When Orbit started promoting this book on Facebook by releasing it one chapter at a time, I was hooked from the first chapter. Seriously, I couldn't wait for each chapter to be unlocked to see what was going to happen next. When I was presented with an opportunity to read an ARC of the book, I jumped at it. I'm hoping each of you jumps at a chance to read it as well.

M. R. Carey has created a terrifying world in which Melanie lives. There is something special about Melanie, but even she doesn't understand how special she is. As events begin to unravel quickly in Melanie's life shortly into the book, we embark on a journey with her as she grows and begins to understand herself and her place in the world. This is a true coming-of-age story, but one that you have probably never imagined.

The Girl With All the Gifts is so much more than this, though. It definitely is not for the faint of heart, as this book sits firmly between the science fiction and horror genres. You may be horrified by some of the events that happen to and around Melanie, but the story and Melanie's journey are worth it, all the way to an ending I did not see coming but in retrospect seemed inevitable. And I'm fearing that I'm already giving to much away.

Carey has taken a current trope and turned it on its head, in so many ways. I seriously wish I could tell you ALL THE THINGS about this book, but I simply can't. You just have to trust me. Trust me that this is a horror story filled with heart and hope. Trust me that I'd love to sit down with you when you finished it, to talk about it more. Trust me that this book is entirely worth picking up. Finally, trust me that you probably haven't read anything like it before. This will be a book that I know I will be returning to time and again.

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!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Martian by Andy Weir

 photo 080413902401_SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zps047dad60.jpg

Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Narrator: R. C. Bray
Copyright: 2014
Pages: 384
ISBN: 9780804139021
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Audio Production: Podium Publishing
Author Website:
Twitter: @CrownPublishing, @atrandom, @RCBray12
Available: February 11, 2014
Rating: 4/5 stars

Part of the rash of recent scifi books that all had orange-tinged covers that all caught my eye at the same time (Conquest by John Connolly & Jennifer Ridyard, Influx by Daniel Suarez, The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey, Pillar to the Sky by William R. Forstchen), Andy Weir's The Martian won out as the first for me to try out. I'm not a particularly well-read scifi reader, as most of my reading tends to sway more towards fantasy and urban fantasy, but all of these books look really good, and I thought maybe it was time to broaden my reading horizons and dip my toes in the scifi pool. And you know what, I'm not at all sad that I did.

Andy Weir's debut doesn't take much time to throw you into the middle of the story. Six days into a planned 2 month Mars mission, the Ares 3 mission is cut short by a dust storm that threatens to strand the entire crew on Mars. In the confusion of the storm, Mark Watney is left for dead at the mission site. However, Watney isn't dead and he quickly needs to adapt to his situation in order to try and survive on the surface of Mars with the limited supplies he has available to him until the next Ares mission makes it way to Mars (a very long 4 years off yet). What follows is an on-the-edge-of-your-seat story of survival and ingenuity that left me genuinely concerned for the well being of Watney, and I always think that's the sign of a really good book, when you're concerned for the life of a fictional character in a book.

 photo spoilers_zps259dbb5e.gif

However, I needed a significantly raised suspension of disbelief. It wasn't just the fact that Watney was left on the surface of Mars, but it was his constant ability to figure his way out of things. It's fairly clear that Weir put a huge amount of research into this book, and I'm fairly sure the science behind the fiction is solid. It's just, there were so many numbers that were thrown around as Watney was able to guesstimate fairly accurately anything from the amount of oxygen he'd need to have to survive, to how to burn rocket fuel to make oxygen, to distances he'd need to travel on the surface and how much solar energy he'd need to make the necessary travel time. For somebody whose main role on the mission was as the botanist, as well as having some engineering experience, Watney was a freaking genius. After a while, it just seemed a little too impossible for him to know exactly what he needed to do in each circumstance that was thrown at him to survive the entire experience.

Another thing that bugged me a little was the dialogue. Weir had a tendency to use what I look at as "in the now" dialogue, things that I don't see as working their way into the vernacular in the long run. Maybe I'm wrong, but it was like Weir was trying too hard to show he had his finger on the pulse of current internet speak to think about the fact that maybe these turns of phrase won't hold until this undisclosed future that this book takes place in (and maybe there is a specific year, but I don't have the book in front of me so can't check right now).

And lastly, one last thing that bugged me, but this is a HUGE spoiler point for the end of the story, so if you don't want to know how it ends, turn back now!

OK, last chance, I'm revealing a big part of the end of book, so turn around now.

You've been warned. Of course, Watney survives. They figure out a way to rescue him, and it all seems a little too far-fetched how it works out. I won't give that part away, but needless to say I didn't believe for a minute Watney would have been able to survive the rescue attempt. BUT, I was riveted to the story right up to the end, and that still impresses me with this book, that Weir was able to keep me this involved on whether Watney was going to make it or not, regardless by how unbelievable I found the way they pulled it off. And the ending. THE ENDING. Those last couple of sentences were just a little too dipped in kumbaya for my liking. I mean, yes the story ended on a hopeful note, but to drive it home the way it was in those last couple of sentences just made me roll my eyes. Hard.


All the same, I absolutely enjoyed this book. I listened to it as an audio, and while I wasn't sold on R. C. Bray's performance at first, eventually he became the voice of Mark Watney for me. I now know if I ever sit down to read the book (which I may do at some point in the future), it's going to be Bray's voice I hear in my head, speaking for Watney. If you're looking for a well-researched, suspenseful scifi adventure, you really can't go wrong with The Martian.

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, May 16, 2014

What I'm reading now

Sorry, other books that I'm currently reading, you're all getting kicked to the curb for this one right now. I'll get back to you when I'm done. #seriousbooklove

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Josh Malerman promotes his new book, Bird Box

 photo 006225965201_SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zps9095d6db.jpg

 photo 925231_1419485744990439_270682755_n_zps829b0914.jpg
Yes, that is us blindfolded during the reading. And yes, it was a little creepy. And yes, I totally stole this picture from my friend, Whitney, who is also the events coordinator at Schuler.

Well. I just got home from the most unique author reading I think I've been to yet. Josh Malerman stopped by Schuler Books earlier this evening to promote the release of his debut novel, Bird Box. What made the reading so unique is that the author wouldn't come out until all of the audience members were blindfolded. Once we were all suitably blindfolded, Malerman and his band (the High Strung) came out and performed a chapter from the book, complete with sound effects, appropriately atmospheric music, and multiple people performing different characters from the story. I'm not going to lie, it was a little unsettling, which of course was the point. I'm not sure what is going on in the book, but being blindfolded and unable to see plays an integral part of the story, so it was giving us a taste of the characters in the story are going through. I'm not sure that I'm going to be able to read this book at night...

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 14, 2014

Jack in the Green by Charles de Lint, illustrated by Charles Vess

 photo 159606641501_SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zps9ecb8631.jpg

Title: Jack in the Green
Author: Charles de Lint, illustrated by Charles Vess
Copyright: 2014
Pages: 96
ISBN: 9781596066410
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Author Website:,
Twitter: @cdelint
Format: Signed, Limited Edition Hardcover
Available: April 30, 2014
Rating: 3/5 stars

A nice, little retelling of Robin Hood that is told in de Lint's plain, straight forward writing, Jack in the Green finds Robin (known as Jack this time around) brought to the modern day Southwest barrio. I've still not read that much de Lint, but I do like how he handles magic in his stories: that there really isn't an explanation for how it works, you just accept it how it is. However, I found the socio political context of the story a little heavy handed; given that it's a Robin Hood retelling, we already know it's about how the rich are oppressing the poor (this time seen from the point of view of the recent recession), but to have it made such a large point in the story, so many times, felt too much like de Lint was simply writing this to express his views and was trying to hide it poorly in this novella. I'm not sorry I read it, I'm just not sure this will ever rank up there as a favorite for me.

I want to mention a little on the physical book itself. It's beautiful. Charles Vess' cover illustration is fantastic, and fits the tone of the story quite well, as do his interior illustrations. Subterranean Press did an excellent job with the production of the book. The green, leaf embossed endpapers are gorgeous and the graphic design of the book is really top notch. This book is another of the reasons I think Sub Press is one of the finest small press run printers in the country.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Gabrielle Zevin promotes her new book, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

 photo 161620321801_SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsf0d15b02.jpg

Gabrielle Zevin stopped by Schuler Books earlier this evening to promote the release of her new book, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry. I hadn't read anything by Zevin before and I got to the bookstore a little early, so I grabbed a copy of the book, sat down in the cafe and started reading. I wasn't able to finish the book before the signing started, but what I read of it I loved. The book is funny and touching and Zevin clearly has a love of books and bookstores that she poured right into this novel. I can't wait to finish!

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!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Christopher Moore, the Author Guy, promotes his new book, The Serpent of Venice

 photo 006177976801_SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zps47d1dfe2.jpg

That right there kids, is Christopher Moore, the Author Guy! He stopped by Schuler Books this afternoon to promote the release of his new book, The Serpent of Venice. I haven't read anything by Moore before, but I'm going to have to remedy that quickly. The man is hysterical, and if he writes half as funny as he talks, I'm in for a treat!

Yet another fantastic event at my local Indie! They've been having so many great authors coming through lately, I'm going to have to get a job there just to afford all the books that I want to pick up!

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!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Andrea Cremer promotes her new book, The Inventor's Secret

 photo 039915962201_SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zps50ee06c5.jpg

Andrea Cremer stopped by Schuler Books last night to promote the release of her new book, The Inventor's Secret. Yet another author that I have not had the pleasure of reading yet, but Schuler Books is determined to keep getting these authors in, so I'll continue to be introduced to new authors and books this entire summer! Now, if only I could find the time to read all of these fantastic books!

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!