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A long-time Changing Hands junkie (his first book from CHB was bought in 1974), Scott's reading tastes run the gamut from literary classics to high fantasy to Postcolonial Indian Subcontinent literature. A graduate of ASU with a degree in English Literature focusing on Medieval and Renaissance drama, he also is a die-hard Christopher Moore and Gregory Maguire fan. When he's not reading (which is a rarity) he can be found experimenting with new recipes for bread or cheesecake, or dabbling with his own creative non-fiction writing.
Lionel Savage finds that his marriage of convenience may have saved him from becoming penniless, but it has also laid waste to his poetic muse. Inadvertently, he sells his bride to the Gentleman, who is none other than the devil himself. Enlisting the aid of a rather mismatched and motley crew, Savage sets out to rescue his wife. Perhaps the most wonderful part of this novel is how Leo skewers both Victorian literary conventions and Victorian sensibilities at once. The Gentleman is an inspired, rollicking ride and most assuredly a page-turner.
Don't let the title fool you...this is not a rehashing of Raymond Chandler with farm animals, there really is a big sheep at the center of this brilliant combination of detective, science fiction, and humor novels. Kroese spins a detective yarn that is both entertaining and interesting, but also has those moments that leave you thinking "is going to really go there?" And he does...
Miss Jane is one of those books that pulls the reader along, not kicking and screaming, but with a quiet fascination that works itself into a respectful awe. Many times, I had to actually remind myself that this was a work of fiction, not a biography. Without giving away too much, Jane Chisolm is born with a deformity that forces her to look at the world and the people in it in a way few people ever do. Brad Watson's impeccable skill constructing sentences that are both beautiful and efficient truly shines here - the efficiency of the words will capture your attention, the beauty will capture your heart.
This is not Papa Asimov's brand of robots...not by any means. Winter is not deeply concerned with the technical details of how and why these robots work, but rather how they feel - yes feel. In fact, you, dear reader, are asked to just accept a robot girl with pink hair and bicycle wheels for legs. Despite these being artificial beings, the story is steeped in the very human conflicts or power struggles and family tensions.
Despite being a lover of short fiction, before this collection, Lucia Berlin was unknown to me...a travesty. I could have been marveling at her writing for the last few decades, but like much of America, I only just discovered one of American short fiction's best-kept secrets. Berlin had one of those rare gifts that allowed her to write about the trivialities of everyday life and make it inescapably riveting. A Manual for Cleaning Women collects stories from throughout Berlin's career. Being a bona fide grammar junkie, I was transfixed by Berlin's deft use of punctuation. It may seem like a trivial aspect of a story, but her strategic use of it gives her writing a truly conversational tone allowing her stories to be simultaneously comforting and disturbing.
Being a giant nerd, the idea of a book centering on the worlds of science fiction television and comic books drew me in...and it delivered, with juicy little tidbits about fan conventions big and small. What was surprising and most welcome was that this book also shows the impact stories can have on interpersonal relationships, be they between parent and child, among peers, or between new acquaintances.
This is not your usual dystopian fiction...not by a long shot...and there's no way you can read this book just once. Compiled entirely from office rubber stamps, Celedón tells the story of The Subsidiary. This little book is a haunting hybrid of literature an art, demanding it be placed on the coffee table so anyone who sees it picks it up and conversations about what it means ensue.
The world Rick Riordan created with Percy Jackson expands again, this time from the point of view of the Olympian god Apollo...who has been banished by Zeus to live as a mortal teenager. Apollo's quest to return to his godhood and Olympus brings him in contact with none other than Percy Jackson and Camp Half-Blood. New threats, new characters, and a new quest combine to make this as exciting book as Riordan has ever done! This series promises to be every bit as captivating as its predecessors.
I freely admit I was drawn to this book because of the obnoxiously orange cover. It grabbed my attention. Once I started reading, I realized that the cover had to be that color - the story was just as riveting as the bold cover. Dark Matter delivers one of my favorite tropes in science fiction - alternate realities - and combines it with a page-turner thriller making the book nearly impossible to put down.
Gonzales quite literally drops the reader in the middle of chaos...think of it as a knotted ball of twine that no matter which thread you follow, it leads right back into the middle of the knot. Alternating between backstory and the present, the reader finds out not only who is attacking the Regional Office, but why... and where all of these people come from. Mechanical arms, super-powered women, oracles, and espionage all get knotted up together and the result is a highly imaginative and entertaining tale.
Standing up to such time-honored and revered translations as those by Fagles, Lattimore, and Fitzgerald is no easy task, but Caroline Alexander is a noted classicist in her own right, and took the challenge successfully. Her translations bring the verse alive in modern language, yet maintain the lyricism Homer imbued into the original. Alexander even maintains the line numbers from the original making this an excellent study reference.
Magyk is the first is a series of books about one Septimus Heap...and his adventures as he becomes apprenticed to the Extraordinary Wizard and befriends Princess Jenna. Sage's writing is very accessible to readers, deftly mixing colloquialisms with more refined prose. Perhaps one of the best facets of sage's characterizations is her refusal to make her female characters weak in any way, but not going full stereotype reversal by making the male characters wimpy or unintelligent.
Aficionados of science fiction will appreciate this nod to some of the greats of the genre. Nathan Arkwright is a contemporary of men like Heinlein and Asimov, and wholly devoted to seeing humanity reach another world. The novel follows his family as each successive generation struggles with Arkwright's legacy. I think what deeply impressed me was the obvious research that went into this book, so much so that Steel includes a bibliography at the end.
Long before either became an acclaimed author, Truman Capote and Nelle Harper Lee were childhood friends in Monroeville, Alabama. This fictionalization of their exploits draws on the stories both authors shared over the years, focusing on their mutual love of the mysteries of Sherlock Holmes. The two children set out to solve the mysteries that beset Monroeville. Presented in an episodic style, these tales reminded me of the old-time radio serials. I was almost sure at the end of each section I could hear the booming voice of an announcer telling me to tune in next week for more adventures of Tru & Nelle!
So imagine if Christopher Moore's The Stupidest Angel had a love child with Men in Black, and you'd have Richard Kandrey's The Everything Box. Angels, demons, zombies, doomsday cults, government agents, and career criminals all jammed together vying for possession of the box. Kandrey's snarky humor and deft characterizations made this book an incredibly enjoyable read and very difficult to put down for such mundane reasons as sleep or eating. If you are a fan of dark and irreverent humor, this is definitely should be the next book you read.
This book is...different. An eccentric combination of extraordinary objects, art, history, and prose, Enrigue somehow manages to fuse these facets into a tennis match between the leading Italian artist Carvaggio and Spanish poet Francisco de Quevedo. Back stories abound in this novel, though calling it a novel is doing it a disservice as it is far more than mere historical fiction. At one point, the narrator-author informs the reader even he is unsure of the true point of his writing "Maybe it's just a book about how to write this book; maybe that's what all books are about. A book with a lot of back-and-forth, like a game of tennis." You will find yourself turning back to remind yourself of some detail then resuming reading again-back and forth, just like the tennis match that runs through the entire work.
In the first book of her Olympus Bound series, Jordanna Max Brodsky explores what happens when the mortals stop worshipping the gods of Olympus - at least directly. Brodsky's novel is far more than a mere retelling of Greek myth, it is a continuation of their story. Part fantasy, mostly mystery, and completely engrossing, this book is a must for those deeply interested in classical mythology and wonders what became of the gods of old.
One of the things that rope me into a book is how the story is told, and Mo Daviau is clearly a gifted storyteller. Her characters are so glaringly real, I could not help but be involved in the twists and turns of their story. Time travel, rock music, and the very real problems of dealing with loss seem like they would be too disparate to mesh into a cohesive story, but Daviau does exactly that. I couldn’t put this book down, and if you enjoy a rollicking story, you won’t be able to either.
I know, I know…J.J. Abrams? You’re thinking you’ll be blinded by lens flares…I assure you, this mystery is a far cry from Star Trek and Star Wars. This is a highly complex and suspenseful mystery that takes place in the margins of a library book – V.M Straka’s The Ship of Theseus. The multiple layers of this tale unfold in the yellowed pages of the borrowed book and are compounded by the multitude of inserts placed between the pages. Twists and turn abound in both Straka’s text and Jen and Eric’s quest to understand it, each other, and themselves. Anyone who loves a deliciously confusing mystery will devour this book. No matter how you read it – margins first then Straka’s text or vice versa, or even the two together, you’ll get caught up in the intrigue peppered with romantic undertones.
Did you ever wonder what happens to those that society forgets? In Gaiman’s debut novel, he answers this question and presents a multitude of more. Originally published in 1997, the novel was reproduced multiple times and made into a BBC television series. Now, Gaiman has combined lost bits from the editing process, points from the series screenplays, and other pieces previously abandoned to create his preferred text, and it is a stunning piece of storytelling. For many, this was the book that sucked them into the world of Neil Gaiman, and this reconstruction of his original ideas will do it all over again. Oh, and by the way, you will find out exactly to where all those socks disappear…
The title isn’t kidding, these are among the best short stories from the last century. Many familiar names are here, Updike, Cather, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Nabokov. The real gold here is in those names you might not recognize such as Richard Wright, Jean Toomer, Elizabeth Bishop, and my two personal favorites – Alice Munro and Susan Glaspell. Munro has an amazing gift of storytelling, and her own collections are packed with page after page of magnificent prose. Susan Glaspell’s contribution to this hefty tome is her 1917 short story “A Jury of her Peers.” Despite being written almost one hundred years ago, the story and characters are timeless and eerily poignant. If for no other reason, add this anthology to your collection in order to own Glaspell's twenty-page masterpiece.
The High Mountains of Portugal is Yann Martel's return to the masterful storytelling of Life of Pi. The novel's three distinct sections take place over a span of decades building upon each other, intertwining the lives of three families. Martel's prose is splendidly full of imagery and emotion, both of which build with each passing page. By the way, without giving away anything, the third section simply screams "make me into a film!" It is interesting to note that this was the novel Martel set aside in order to write Life of Pi. I'm very pleased he returned and finished this novel.
Dance of the Happy Shades is a shining example of the idealism that led to Alice Munro being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003. Munro has the uncanny ability to pack into a short story the character development, social commentary, and storytelling that many authors take an entire novel to develop. My particular favorite in this collection is "Boys and Girls," which deftly inspects gender roles from both internal and external points of view. Any of Alice Munro's collections will not disappoint the lover of superb storytelling, but her inaugural work is assuredly an excellent place to begin.
Politics, Partition, and ... Pickles. Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children is a romp through one of the most turbulent periods of India's history. Children born in the hour following India's independence are imbued with extraordinary powers, and Saleem Sanai is no exception. Rushdie makes little attempt to hide the parallels between the narrator's life and the evolution of India's history. An extraordinary example of magical realism, this is Rushdie at his finest.
I’m one of the original Star Wars fans. I saw the original theatrical release close to 300 times, and read the original novelization until the book literally fell apart – then taped it back together and read it some more. That being said, I loved this new approach to the story. Geared toward younger readers, it tells the same story, but from a slightly different point of view. Bracken divides the story into three major parts, each told from the point of view of Leia, Han, and Luke. She draws upon the canon created by 38 years of novels and films to create a new viewpoint of a very familiar story. Her storytelling shines, making this an exciting and enjoyable read for readers of any age.