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With a toddler on the loose, Heather is reading a few more picture books and science-based parenting books and few less dark fiction novels, but she's always up for a good story and atmosphere is key. Cat Valente and Neil Gaiman will always float to the top of her to-read list. She is more likely to be caught in the middle-grade books than YA and will forever be an advocate of genre fiction and comic books. She'd read those stuffy literary classics, too, if there weren't such a huge catalog of important sci-fi classics to go through instead.
Having no kids of my own, it's pretty rare that I find a picture book and think “I NEED this book in my life,” but that's exactly what happened with The Journey of the Noble Gnarble. I'm buying this book for every kid I know. It is written in a way that easily recalls both Dr. Seuss and Lewis Carroll and tells a heartwarming story of a little Gnarble determined to follow his dreams despite being told by everyone he knows that it's impossible. The fantastical world of the story is beautifully illustrated by Tiffany Turrill in amazingly detailed, bright, full-page illustration. If you like this one you should also pick up The Journey of the Marmabill, another gorgeous picture book by this duo about a Marmabill finding the courage to take back her home.
Catherynne Valente is a master at her craft. From the first word to the last The Melancholy of Mechagirl is a rich and textured experience. Valente never makes you wait for the hook, not a single story or poem in this book drags you along. I promise you will volunteer for the ride. Her Locus Award winning, Hugo nominated, short story Silently and Very Fast is included in this collection and that alone is reason enough to take it home. It is a near perfect example of science fiction at its very best. Every reason I've fallen in love with her writing is brilliantly on display in this collection of science fiction stories dedicated to Japan.
I could say so many wonderful things about North American Lake Monsters without telling you how much it's going to hurt just to get you to open the cover, but you deserve better than that. Nathan Ballingrud's first collection of short stories is brutal. I read most of the stories in this book stomach clenched in horror and breath catching in my throat. There are no happy endings and there are certainly no heroes, though the last few stories do have a touch of sweetness. These are stories about the down-trodden and damned that bare no sentimental ideas of redemption–just folks being folks hardly phased by the sometimes horrific supernatural because real life has already treated them so terribly. The thread that ties this book together is monsters and I can tell you there are plenty here, and as uncomfortable as I was reading it, I loved every second of it.
I will be completely honest, I expected to love this book. I have read every Gaiman novel for adults, every picture book, every middle grade and teen chapter book, and as many comics as I could get my hands on. I have seen movies written by him and based on his works. I am what you would call a fangirl. What I didn't anticipate were the reasons I loved this book. It is, in this humble bookseller's opinion, his best and most literary work to date. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a Gaiman book for non-Gaiman readers. It reads as though a favored short story got away from him, to the best possible result. Because it is Neil Gaiman, you can rest assured that all of the fantastical and unbelievable events really do occur, but you can't help feeling that maybe, just maybe, it's all a way for our 7-year-old narrator to explain the dark events occurring in his world. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is definitely the scariest Gaiman novel I've read, and it's a must read for any fan of slightly twisted literature.
No one quite compares to the genius of Douglas Adams, and that genius is just as evident in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency as it is in his classic Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Dirk is filled with Adams' trademark subtle humor and matter-of-fact absurdity that made H2G2 such a hit. Originally published in 1987 and heavily influenced by the 'tech culture' of the time, some references may be a bit obtuse for younger readers (though I love it and it was written before I was born). Anyone nostalgic for a time when computers filled University classrooms wall-to-wall and Apple was still Macintosh will appreciate this "thumping good detective-ghost-horror-who dunnit-time travel-romantic-musical-comedy-epic." And if you like it come back for the satanic ritual and Norse gods of The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.
Using elements of folklore and fantasy Ronlyn Domingue tells a compelling story of a peaceful civilization on the brink of an unwanted war. The physical, emotional, and psychological fallout of military aggression is felt throughout the novel. The Mapmaker's War explores questions of guilt and greed while offering an answer that hinges on cooperation and acceptance. It centers on Aoife, a woman at odds with her prescribed societal role and her journey toward enlightenment, freedom, and forgiveness. It is at once an admonishment as well as a reminder that war is not the only answer — peace begins within oneself. This book is simply a must read.
This book is fantastic for kids and adults alike. A handy reference guide for life's toughest questions like "Did Alexander the Great like frogs?" and "How do you fall in love?" These are questions asked by real kids and answered by experts in their fields. The answers come from such notables as author Phillip Pullman, chef Mario Batali, and survival expert Bear Grylls. The results are often funny, compelling, and informative. The best part about Big Questions is that it encourages kids to keep asking questions and to never be satisfied with "I don't know".
The Death of Bees is a book easily read in just a few hours, but it's a book that haunts. I stayed up hours after I finished it because it wouldn't let me go. I know these characters: Marnie, wise beyond her years and so, so angry; Nelly, naive and fighting to recover an innocence lost years before puberty, and sweet, sad Lennie looking for salvation at the end of his life. The story takes place in Glasgow, but it could be anywhere. There's not a single perfect person in this book, but almost everyone will earn your sympathy. I suggest clearing a day to read this book, because you won't want to put it down, and when you finish you'll need some recovery time.
WARNING: This book contains Comic Sans. If you are the kind of person who appreciates that warning, I promise you will love this book. It's part history, part love letter to type, and entirely fun. Just My Type explores some of the most common typefaces right along side the history of some of the biggest controversies in typographic design. Simon Garfield is not unbiased, but he does a fantastic job of explaining why some of our most beloved (and hated) typefaces endure, and he encourages anyone, enthusiast or amateur, to explore why the shape of words means so much. This book was obviously written by someone who loves words and after reading this book, you will too.
Neill Bassett Jr. is surrounded by scientists and businessmen who have very cold and unfeeling definitions of ‘love’. He's working on a project developing artificial intelligence, and he's using his the journals of his father (who committed suicide some time ago) as inspiration. He’s dating a girl ten years his junior who has joined Pure Encounters, a spiritual therapy group dedicated to experiencing deeper ‘limbic click,’ and he keeps running into his ex-wife at the worst possible moments. Told through eyes of a reluctant romantic, A Working Theory of Love is a moving and often surprising look at love, loss, and what it means to be human.
If you have a child, know a child, or ever were a child, you NEED to read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. It is a heartbreaking and joyous ode to childhood. September is a girl who, like most young girls, has full, complex, and not always polite emotions. Things are sad and they hurt and people do cruel things that we don't understand, like a father going off to war, or a Marquess who chains fairies' wings so that can't fly. Even so, we have best friends and mothers who make us hot chocolate and smell like oil. This book is written in lyrical prose begging to be read aloud to your favorite child, even if it's the inner one.