|Page 1 | 2 | (3) | 4|
Camilla, when not riding her bike, hiking, or missing snow, is a bookseller/used book buyer at Changing Hands. She likes to read classic and contemporary fiction, YA and gender studies books, science fiction, fantasy, travel lit and graphic novels. She would love to discuss the finer points of Australia, vegan food, the White Sox, or zombies with you.
When I first started reading Bloom I was a little concerned there was too much text to keep kid's attention. Then I got sucked into the story and completely forgot I'd been worried. That's how engrossing Bloom is. In essence, it's about a muddy fairy getting kicked out of a kingdom, and the seemingly ordinary girl (who is actually anything but) who is the only one that can save the kingdom when it falls apart. This book teaches girls that they can be dirty and messy and hardworking AND the hero that saves the day. All they need to do is believe in themselves. - Camilla
Lately I've been obsessed with books and blogs about hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT). So when I discovered The Distance From Me to You, a YA novel about the AT I think I actually squealed, then proceeded to gorge myself over two days in a reading frenzy. While the novel is about McKenna, a recent high school grad attempting to thru hike the AT, it's also about independence, love, family, survival, taking risks, and the dangers, and rewards, inherent in striking out on one's own. This is the first fictional account I've read of hiking the AT and it was refreshing to read a story instead of a day to day journal account. During her hike McKenna falls in love but really this novel is about trusting yourself and following through on goals. Like a YA version of Wild, hiking enthusiasts will eat this right up. -Camilla
Ever a Meg Rosoff fan after How I Live Now, I eagerly devoured this new novel. Snarky and funny, the book's protagonist, Jonathan, has recently inherited a pair of dogs that seem a bit too aware and complicit in their new human's life. How will they mesh with Jonathan's long time girlfriend? And will they be bored while he's at his soul destroying advertising job all day? I laughed out loud and couldn't stop turning the pages, especially after things get really weird and Jonathan (maybe) has a nervous breakdown. Fans of sharp dialogue and dog lovers in particular will find short and sweet Jonathan Unleashed the perfect lighthearted beach or plane read. -Camilla
I almost missed this book. Hidden behind an overly sentimental title is a unique YA novel about a witty, feminist, Native American protagonist, trying to find her identity among family and friends while dealing with reoccurring bad dreams, hallucinations, time travel, first love gone bad, a mysterious new guy, AND multiple dimensions. I was pleasantly surprised to find so much going on in what, on the surface, appears to be just another love story. While the romance does play a big part, there are so many other refreshing aspects Henry weaves together to create a surprising new plot. Pair all the other-worldly streams with laugh out loud dialogue, creation stories, and strong female friendships for a highly recommended, imaginative read. -Camilla
When a plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France with two teenage girls inside, one of the girls is captured and tortured by the Gestapo. Yet, what emerges when Julia is forced to spill her secrets is not British spy codes, but the history of the two friends. I love that this YA novel is all about friendship instead of romance. Plus, Maddie and Julia are amazing, starring in pilot and spy roles traditionally reserved for men. Wein's heartbreaking novel is a story of courage, sacrifice, and loyalty in the face of overwhelming brutality. Fans of The Book Thief will devour this refreshing tale full of surprising twists and brilliant characters. -Camilla
It's 1986 and outsider Eleanor must navigate a precarious home situation as well as school bullies, punk rock, and first love. The only kid on the bus nice enough to let new-kid-Eleanor sit next to him, Park soon realizes that she's reading his Alan Moore comics over his shoulder. Slowly a friendship is born via The Smiths and X-Men, and then, thrillingly, something more blossoms. But can Park and Eleanor's weird love help Eleanor escape an abusive step-father and lead Park from his loneliness? A tender coming-of-age romance full of snappy dialogue and unforgettable characters, Eleanor & Park has all the trappings of a modern teen classic. Fans of Perks of Being a Wallflower will fall for Rowell's bittersweet love story. A must-read for anyone who felt like a freak in high school. -Camilla
This book is terrifying! When a meteor knocks the moon closer to Earth, life as we know it is destroyed forever. While society is breaking down, high school sophomore Miranda and her family struggle to survive. I was riveted to every page of Pfeffer's novel — the first in the Last Survivors trilogy. I loved watching Miranda try and grow up in her harsh new reality. The scariest aspect is that the environmental disasters depicted in Miranda's chaotic world are are entirely possible. Forget zombies, we need to prepare for tidal waves and volcanic ash! I dare you to put down this addictive thriller. -Camilla
Peet's ambitious novel straddles the years from WWII to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. At heart, however, Life is the story of young Clem and his forbidden girlfriend, Frankie. The daughter of a wealthy landowner (who also happens to employ Clem's father), Frankie should be off limits to working class Clem. While the world stumbles towards possible oblivion as Kennedy plays chicken with his Russian counterpart, the two teens only grow more frantic in their secret meetings. The author courageously makes Kennedy and his advisers characters in the novel, giving readers an inside look at the Cuban Missile Crisis. And all of it works — the commentary on class war, having an adult-Clem narrate, the large jumps in history that show how world events affect love-struck British teens, even the explosive climax that demands a horrifying price for Clem and Frankie to finally be together. Life is a hard book to categorize; the main characters are teenagers, suggesting young adult fiction, but Peet's writing is so smart and delectable, his adult characters so well explored and believable, that the book will blow away both mature teens and adults alike.-Camilla
I admit that I first picked up Carol Rifka Brunt's debut because of the beautiful cover. Lucky for me, the prose and story are just as wonderful as the design. Brunt masterly crafts the tale of fourteen-year-old June Elbus, a lonely, high-school-weirdo who has just lost her gay uncle, and best friend, Finn to AIDS. Living just outside NYC in the 80's, AIDS is a new and scary disease clouded in fear and misinformation. June must grieve alone for her artist uncle until his secret boyfriend Toby appears, forcing her to realize that she may not have known her uncle as well as she thought. Brunt's treatment of the fragile relationships between June and almost everyone else: Toby, her mother, her sister Greta, and especially her magical uncle Finn, is perfect. I had to force myself to put the book down to prolong the pleasure of knowing June. Exploring types of love, sibling rivalry, and the secret inner lives of girls, Brunt has produced one of my favorite reads this year. -Camilla
Smith's debut is a little gem of a novel. One day in the life of thrift store loving Isabel is told in clear and purposeful prose. Raised in Alaska but living in the Pacific Northwest, Isabel's kaleidoscopic remembrances of her childhood and treasured recycled finds are weaved in with her life as a restorer of damaged books. In love with a lonely soldier, Isabel dreams of places she's never been and probably will never go, but her imagination makes them perfect nonetheless. I'm quite thrilled to have had the pleasure of reading such a delightful story full of unexpected beauty. Glaciers is a quietly powerful novel that examines the personal, environmental, and emotional life of a lover of pretty things no longer new. -Camilla
Destroyed after the loss of her young mother, Cheryl Strayed's life quickly spirals out of control with the scattering of her family and the dissolution of her marriage. After randomly seeing a book on the PCT, the author decides to head into the woods. Strayed's story is brutally honest. She doesn't always come off as the most sympathetic character, but she does emerge a strong, confident young woman capable of piecing the shambles of her life back together. The most compelling thing for me was the author's total unpreparedness for the almost impossible task before her. At 26 she's never done any long distance hiking before. Her bag is ridiculously heavy. Her boots don't fit. Yet she walks on, facing overwhelming weather, wild animals, and even scarier wild-eyed men. Weaving in stories of the trail's history as well as her own (the story of Lady the horse is almost sure to leave readers in tears), Strayed's tale may be messy at first, but it's beautifully rendered and ultimately uplifting. -Camilla
If you're looking for the next book to satisfy the post apocalypitic craze sparked by The Hunger Games, look no further than Moira Young's action-packed Blood Red Road. The first in the Dustland series, the story follows young Saba, who sees her beloved twin brother, Lugh, kidnapped by mysterious riders right before her eyes. Motivated by a blind passion to save her twin, Saba blazes a bright path through a desolate, desert world. Faced with gladiator-style cage fight matches and Dune-esque giant worms, Saba is a memorable heroine that would give Katniss Everdeen the fight of her life. Don't let the unique dialect of the writing scare you off, fans of strong female characters, survival stories, and beautifully yet bleakly rendered dystopian worlds will devour this promising beginning to a powerful new trilogy. -Camilla
Kira Walker was 5 when the Partials, human engineered part-human part-machine beings, declared war on their human masters, effectively wiping out the majority of the world's population. The small band of humans that survived flocked to Long Island, where they've been trying to find a cure for the mysterious Partial created RM disease. RM continues to destroy any hope of human procreation, but Kira has a plan to unlock the secrets of RM and find a cure: capture a Partial. As the Senate keeps lowering the age of the forced reproduction bill, Kira and her friends must act quickly. Once the action got going I couldn't put this dystopian thriller down. Battlestar Galactica meets Outbreak, Partials is the first in a promising trilogy for fans of futuristic YA lit. -Camilla
Polly Evans is one of my new favorite travel writers. In Tapas, she tackles Spain on two wheels. A novice cyclist, Evans battles mountains and plains, from the Pyrennes in the Basque country down to Andalucia and back up to Madrid. I really enjoyed reading about Evans' cycling adventures and loved the Spanish history she weaves in. From Picasso to the Moors and Franco, she provides a nice base of knowledge for anyone venturing to this fascinating country. Like any good trip, it's not all pretty; Evans gets chased by wild boars, has run-ins with grumpy hotel owners, and experiences Spanish machismo culture up close and personal. Throughout it all Evans maintains her cheeky British humor and sense of adventure. I can't wait to see if her other travel books are as much fun. — Camilla
Former academic Arthur Opp weighs 500 lbs and hasn't left his house in years. His only contact with the outside world is through letters he receives form Charlene, a former student. When a new letter arrives with a picture of the son, Kel, Arthur never knew Charlene had, his world is shaken. Kel Keller is an attractive, athletic, popular student at a school where no one suspects his poverty and his mother's shameful sickness. As Kel's life begins to spiral out of control, Arthur begins to put his back together. Moore's characters are so earnest and engrossing I couldn't but love them despite their many faults. Ultimately a hopeful novel about choosing your own family, Heft is a story with larger than life characters and huge heart. — Camilla
Long time BUST Magazine lovers rejoice! You can stop cutting out all the do-it-yourself articles in your magazines because BUST has finally compiled them all into one massive tome. It's got D.I.Y. projects for everything: clothing, food, style, health, sex, travel, work, fitness, and more. Want to quit your job and go freelance? Check out the career section. How about turning your old Debbie Gibson cassettes into a coin purse? That's in here too. Brew your own beer? Yup, BUST has you covered! This is the perfect gift for the crafty lady in your life. Or even better, get the book for yourself and make unique gifts for all the rad people on your holiday list! —Camilla
Octavia Butler never ceases to amaze me. Her last book, Fledgling is a refreshing take on the vampire genre. Shori wakes up alone in a cave with no memory of her former life. She soon realizes she has remarkable abilities and a hunger for blood that starts her on a journey of discovery as she tries to piece together who keeps trying to kill her and her family. Butler does an incredible job of using the vampire metaphor to discuss race, gender, genetics, family and what it means to be human. A great gift for sci-fi/horror/vampire lovers.
Jacob Marlowe is the last of his kind. He takes the news surprisingly well for a 200-year-old werewolf. While Jake’s seen and done (and read) a lot, he's tired of life. He decides to turn himself into the Van Helsing-esque organization responsible for destroying his brethren. Yet soon Jake finds himself trapped between two mysterious groups that seem set on his survival. Duncan's literary novel is not a werewolf tale for the weak of heart. His wolves are all bite—the sex, violence, and gore here will make any Twilight fan squeamish. Jake is a mesmerizing protagonist, smart, witty, funny, and desperately alone. The thrilling pace of this sexy, bloody joyride will make it difficult not to gobble Duncan's werewolf masterpiece right up.
Band geek Lennie has always been happy to play second chair to her older sister, Bailey, but when Bailey suddenly dies, Lennie feels like the whole world has been sucked away. She stumbles into the path of two boys, Toby, Bailey’s boyfriend, and Joe, the new boy in school. Torn between losing herself in someone that was close to Bailey and finding herself with someone who seems to understand her, Lennie’s guilt at falling in love when she has just lost her sister is heartbreaking. I wasn’t expecting Nelson’s debut to be so sexy while beautifully and realistically depicting devastating loss. A really wonderful, heart-wrenching book about how love appears in the most unlikely places!
I barely passed my Chemistry class in high school. There was too much math and the periodic table was intimidating. I can only imagine how different my interest and understanding of the subject would have been had Sam Kean's The Disappearing Spoon been around then. This a science book for everyone—from the periodic table novice to the hardcore chemistry nerd. If you already know about the elements, fear not, this is not a recap of chemistry basics, but rather entertaining true stories about the founding of the periodic table and the race to discover and name new elements. There’s poisoning, political intrigue, medical history, amateur (and professional) bomb building, and so much more. Kean’s ability to discuss the elements while offering real stories involving their use—or misuse—makes this book one of my favorite nonfiction titles of the year.