http://www.unshelved.com/UnshelvedA comic about a library2015-08-04T02:41:35-07:00Gene Ambaumgene@overduemedia.comBill Barnesbill@overduemedia.com(c) Overdue Media LLChttp://www.unshelved.com/2015-8-3/Alexis_GreenwoodAlexis Greenwood2015-08-03T00:00:00+00:002015-08-03T00:00:00+00:00
by Bill ( link to this post | email me | my twitter )

Earlier this year our friends at Penguin Random House Library Marketing held a contest to become a character in Unshelved. The winner appears in today's strip. She is Alexis Greenwood from Vancouver Public Library. Among many many other hobbies, she does indeed walk on stilts and owns the fabulous outfit illustrated here. Congratulations, Alexis!

http://www.unshelved.com/2015-8-3Unshelved on Monday, August 3, 20152015-08-03T00:00:00+00:002015-08-03T00:00:00+00:00http://www.unshelved.com/2015-8-2Unshelved on Sunday, August 2, 20152015-08-02T00:00:00+00:002015-08-02T00:00:00+00:00
Shelf Awareness for Professionals

Unshelved comic strip for 8/2/2015

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This classic Unshelved strip originally appeared on August 20, 2004.

http://www.unshelved.com/2015-8-1Unshelved on Saturday, August 1, 20152015-08-01T00:00:00+00:002015-08-01T00:00:00+00:00
Shelf Awareness for Professionals

Unshelved comic strip for 8/1/2015

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This classic Unshelved strip originally appeared on August 19, 2004.

http://www.unshelved.com/2015-7-31/Book_ReviewsBook Reviews2015-07-31T00:00:00+00:002015-07-31T00:00:00+00:00
by Gene ( link to this post | email me | my twitter )

Unshelved Book Club

This week's Unshelved Book Club features books about a boy who witnessed a kidnapping, twin girls who invent a third sister they pretend to be, prostitution, earthquakes, a brave hamster princess, and a young woman who becomes a famous author's muse.

http://www.unshelved.com/2015-7-31Unshelved on Friday, July 31, 20152015-07-31T00:00:00+00:002015-07-31T00:00:00+00:00http://www.unshelved.com/bookclub/2015-7-31Unshelved Book Club on Friday, July 31, 20152015-07-31T00:00:00+00:002015-07-31T00:00:00+00:00

This week's book recommendations from the creators of Unshelved and their friends.Learn who we are, how we pick books, and other books we've featured.


Amazon | Powell's
ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria For The End Times by Andrew Maclean
Dark Horse, 2015. 9781616555665.

Link to this review in the form of a comic strip by geneambaum tagged graphic novelscience fiction

Unshelved comic strip for 7/31/2015

Amazon | Powell's
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Balzer + Bray, 2015. 9780062317605.

Link to this review by dawnrutherford tagged coming of agemystery

When Finn was fifteen years old, his mother decided she was done parenting and took off to be with an orthodontist she met online. His brother Sean was just about to go off to college, but instead got a job as a paramedic and stayed on to raise Finn. They were alone, eating from cans and making do, until Roza came along. Finn found her hiding in the barn one morning, terrified and wearing one shoe. She was too scared to talk, but took a key to the empty upstairs apartment when the brothers offered it.

They were just beginning to become a sort of family together when she disappeared. Finn was the only witness, but says he cannot describe the face of the man who took her. Sean and the rest of the town believe Finn is just protecting Sean's feelings because another woman has abandoned them.

Why I picked it up: I love the fierce-looking bee on the cover, its wings dripping with sweetness, its stinger extended like a sabre. Plus there is a blurb from E. Lockhart on the jacket praising this as exceptional magical realism, and I was curious to know what part bees played in that.

Why I finished it: Bone Gap is exactly the sort of small town that I often think of moving to -- it has the comfort of everyone knowing and keeping an eye out for their neighbors. But that also means everyone noses into each other’s business. Gossip is the fastest news source, and one misinterpreted incident can ruin a reputation. Just as everyone has secrets that define them, so does the town itself, most notable of which is that it is located over a passage to the world of the dead.

Readalikes: For readers who enjoyed the perspective of autistic teen detective Christopher John Francis Boone in Mark Haddon's Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Finn's prosopagnosia provides an interesting twist, complicating his quest to find Roza and bring Sean back from his emotional self-exile. His face-blindness also makes things difficult as Finn tries to woo the self-doubting beekeeper next door.

Woman with a Secret A Novel by Sophie Hannah
William Morrow, 2015. 9780062388261.

Lisa Gardner calls it "mesmerizing." Liane Moriarty says it's "unpredictable, unputdownable, and unlike anything you've read before." See for yourself what these #1 New York Times-bestselling authors are talking about.

She's a wife.

She's a mother.

She isn't who you think she is.

Nicki Clements has secrets, just like anybody else—secrets she keeps from her children, from her husband, from everyone who knows her. Secrets she shares with only one person: A stranger she's never seen. A person whose voice she's never heard.

And then Nicki is arrested for murder. The murder of a man she doesn't know. As a pair of husband-and-wife detectives investigate her every word, and as the media circle like sharks, all Nicki's secrets are laid bare—illusions and deceptions that she has kept up for years. And even the truth might not be enough to save her. For although Nicki isn't guilty of homicide, she's far from innocent. . . .

For fans of The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, and the best of Hitchcock comes an extraordinary thriller—and an extraordinarily unreliable narrator—from an author whose work has been described by Tana French as "like watching a nightmare come to life."

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Amazon | Powell's
The Third Twin by C.J. Omololu
Delacorte Press, 2015. 9780385744522.

Link to this review by darcy tagged coming of agemystery

When they were young girls, Lexi and her identical twin Ava made up a third sister they called Alicia. Alicia was always to blame when they did something naughty. Out of boredom, they resurrect Alicia and it becomes a game to see just how many guys they can date while pretending to be her. Alicia is bold and not afraid of anything.

The problem is, a boy ends up dead and all evidence points to Alicia. 

Why I picked it up: I was intrigued by the title. As a kid I always wanted a twin to blame things on, and the idea of a secret sister shared between twins really caught my attention. 

Why I finished it: It was a great mystery. Lexi is starting to think that maybe they should pull back and stop pretending to be Alicia, but agrees to go on a date with a guy that Ava has already met as Alicia. She dresses in the Alicia clothes but when she meets him, he attacks her. She fights him off and gets away, but he ends up dead -- murdered in the parking lot where she ran away from him. Later, a second boy is murdered and Lexi and Ava are worried that the killer will attack again and that they will be blamed. 

It's perfect for: Michelle, a childhood friend. She used to paw through the school library with me at lunchtime to read Lois Duncan books like Stranger with my Face and I Know What You Did Last Summer. She'd love how the photographic and DNA evidence mounts against Lexi and Ava while the real killer is still on the loose.


Amazon | Powell's
Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution by Rachel Moran
W.W. Norton & Company, 2015. 9780393351972.

Link to this review by flemtastic tagged biographynonfiction

At fourteen, Rachel Moran left home to live on the streets because of her mentally unstable parents. She had no one else to turn to, and her older boyfriend soon convinced her that selling herself on the street was the only way they could make it financially. She later began to work as a call girl because it was safer. She stopped working as a prostitute after seven years, when her first short story was accepted by a magazine.

Moran is smothered in shame, as she says is the case for every woman forced into prostitution. Writing the book has been part of her therapy. As the publication date drew closer, she carefully considered whether or not to use a pen name, but finally decided that for the sake of authenticity, she couldn’t. There is no doubt this is an extremely personal book. Moran even goes so far as to detail her feelings and experiences during her first day on the job, right down to her first John’s spectacles and bald head -- every memory of that first experience is permanently burned into her memory. Throughout she talks about the men who paid her for sex. She doesn’t let the few nice ones off the hook, discussing how they chose to be "willfully oblivious" to the shame and sexual abuse they were heaping on a her.

Why I picked it up: I’ve always liked books that claim to give the inside scoop on what it is like to work in different jobs. I haven’t had any interaction with the world of prostitution, but I believe that popular media, including movies like Pretty Woman, have skewed how society perceives it.

Why I finished it: Wow! This is the most clear-eyed book on prostitution I have ever read, from a woman who experienced it and came out the other side. Moran systematically and categorically lays out and then destroys several myths, like that women who work in the sex trades are empowered (not true -- they do not control many aspects of where, when, how, etc.), and that there are "nice or gentle transactions" (Moran shows that violence is inherent in every transaction). She is unbelievably clear and fair, including evaluating her own actions and how she justified her behavior. She says the myth of the "Happy Hooker" who enjoys the money, hours, parties, and lifestyle is an absolute farce; she has never met a prostitute who would fit that description. She is brutally honest about how she felt. At fifteen, she saw a group of girls from her old high school pass her on the road where she was streetwalking. She felt like school was worlds away, like she didn't even deserve to be there anymore, and that if she returned, everyone in the room would immediately know what she had been doing.

It's perfect for: My friend Derek, who has sparred with me before about drug legalization and sex-work decriminalization. Moran takes a large chunk of time at the end of the book to discuss efforts around the world to deal with prostitution. She believes countries like Sweden and Iceland are doing well -- they are attacking all aspects of prostitution, especially pimps, traffickers, and sex purchasers. She also discusses countries that are headed in the wrong directing like her home country, Ireland, which has criminalized selling sex, but not buying it, and both Germany and Australia, where it has been legalized and is increasing.

The Art of Crash Landing A Novel by Melissa De Carlo
Harper Paperbacks, 2015. 9780062390547.

From a bright new talent comes this debut novel about a young woman who travels for the first time to her mother’s hometown, and gets sucked into the mystery that changed her family forever Mattie Wallace has really screwed up this time. Broke and knocked up, she’s got all her worldly possessions crammed into six giant trash bags, and nowhere to go. Try as she might, Mattie can no longer deny that she really is turning into her mother, a broken alcoholic who never met a bad choice she didn’t make.

When Mattie gets news of a possible inheritance left by a grandmother she’s never met, she jumps at this one last chance to turn things around. Leaving the Florida Panhandle, she drives eight hundred miles to her mother’s birthplace—the tiny town of Gandy, Oklahoma. There, she soon learns that her mother remains a local mystery—a happy, talented teenager who inexplicably skipped town thirty-five years ago with nothing but the clothes on her back. But the girl they describe bears little resemblance to the damaged woman Mattie knew, and before long it becomes clear that something terrible happened to her mother, and it happened here. The harder Mattie digs for answers, the more obstacles she encounters. Giving up, however, isn’t an option. Uncovering what started her mother’s downward spiral might be the only way to stop her own.

Hilarious, gripping, and unexpectedly wise, The Art of Crash Landing is a poignant novel from an assured new voice.

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The Age of Earthquakes: A Guide to the Extreme Present by Shumon Basar, Douglas Coupland, Hans Ulrich Obrist
Penguin, 2015. 9780399173868.

Link to this review by wally tagged nonfiction

Using a mix of photos, drawings, charts and text the authors show how the Internet is changing our sense of time and degrading our sense of narrative.

Life is becoming a series of very brief instances.  

Why I picked it up: It was advertised in this issue of the Unshelved Book Club and the text cited Marshall McLuhan.

Why I finished it: It's very short and easy to read. The ideas are thought-provoking, like how we used to have a few memes a year and now face hundreds a day. What does that do to our sense of meaning? (The authors don't explain things or draw conclusions based on research the way someone like Malcolm Gladwell might, but instead move from one idea to the next.) 

I enjoyed the many neologisms and their definitions, like "smupid" which is the feeling of being smart and stupid at the same time. It is in contrast to "stuart," which is being stupid and smart at the same time. Yes, there is a difference.

It's perfect for: Josh, who has a deeply skeptical view of Marshall McLuhan for his use of contradictions, false facts, and reductionism, and who would bring his wits to bear on this book mercilessly. He might criticize its breezy tone, but he'd have trouble disagreeing with some of these ideas, like how the Internet is affecting political parties.


Amazon | Powell's
Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015. 9780803739833.

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged chapter bookfantasyhumor

Princess Harriet Hamsterbone is brave and smart, plus great at checkers and fractions. Her parents want her to learn to behave like a princess, but she really wants to go slay monsters. When she’s ten, her parents explain why they’re so overprotective (and why her life is so boring): at her christening, she was cursed by a wicked fairy god-mouse. On her twelfth birthday, she’ll prick her finger on a hamster wheel and fall into a death-like sleep.

Rather than being depressed by this unthwartable curse, Harriet is elated. If that will happen when she’s twelve, she’s invincible until then. She leaps from the highest tower into the moat (she’s unhurt), then sets off for two years of cliff-diving, monster fighting, and jousting.

Why I picked it up: Couldn’t resist a cover with so much glitter on it. And I love Vernon’s Digger and Dragonbreath books.

Why I finished it: It’s hilarious, from Harriet’s ferocious riding quail, Mumfrey, to the bits that were put in there to make adults laugh. My favorite is when Harriet is confronting a “vicious” ogrecat more interested in soy and kale than eating people. He does cop to eating a nonstick cookware salesman, but that was years ago. He also has a cookbook called To Serve Man-Flavored Substitute.

And when Harriet turns twelve and has to face her fate (and the evil fairy god-mouse), she’s totally heroic.

Readalikes: My other favorite illustrated re-telling of a fairy tale with a kick-butt heroine, Rapunzel’s Revenge.

The Wrong Man A Novel of Suspense by Kate White
Harper Paperbacks, 2015. 9780062350657.

She wanted to be more daring, but one small risk is about to cost her everything—maybe even her life.

Bold and adventurous in her work as owner of one of Manhattan's boutique interior design firms, Kit Finn couldn't be tamer in her personal life. While on vacation in the Florida Keys, Kit resolves to do something risky for once. When she literally bumps into a charming stranger at her hotel, she decides to make good on her promise and act on her attraction. But back in New York, when Kit arrives at his luxury apartment ready to pick up where they left off in the Keys, she doesn't recognize the man standing on the other side of the door. Was this a cruel joke or part of something truly sinister? Kit soon realizes that she's been thrown into a treacherous plot, which is both deeper and deadlier than she could have ever imagined. Now the only way to protect herself, her business, and the people she loves is to find out the true identity of the man who has turned her life upside down. Adrenaline-charged and filled with harrowing twists at every turn, The Wrong Man will keep readers riveted until the final page.

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Exquisite Corpse by Pénélope Bagieu
First Second, 2015. 9781626720824.

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged graphic novel

Zoe works as a booth babe at trade shows, but she hates her job. Life at home with her boyfriend isn’t good, either. She feels like she deserves better, even though she isn’t doing anything to improve her circumstances.

While she’s eating lunch in a park a man keeps peering at her from behind his curtains. She buzzes his apartment because she needs to use a bathroom. He suspects that she’s a member of the press because he is Thomas Rocher, a famous author. Zoe has never heard of him. As she’s leaving, he invites her back. They strike up a relationship that slowly turns romantic, and Rocher becomes convinced that he can’t write without her.

Why I picked it up: The cover art had an attractive, simple style.

Why I finished it: Rocher is a shut-in. He just seems eccentric at first, as if he’s afraid of going outside, but it becomes clear that there’s a mystery as to why he can’t leave his apartment. Finding out what’s going on pulled me in, and, after the reason is revealed, I had to see how it and his obsession with his writing would either help or hurt Zoe.

Readalikes: The color in this book is beautiful. There’s very little shading and few gradients or textures, but it works in an amazing way, often making Zoe pop off the page when she’s feeling great. (My favorite scenes are when she’s in a bookstore in her red hoodie, shopping.) Another book I love for its colors is the beautiful Superman: For All Seasons which was colored by Bjarne Hansen.

http://www.unshelved.com/2015-7-30Unshelved on Thursday, July 30, 20152015-07-30T00:00:00+00:002015-07-30T00:00:00+00:00http://www.unshelved.com/2015-7-29/Shelf_Awareness_ProShelf Awareness Pro2015-07-29T00:00:00+00:002015-07-29T00:00:00+00:00
by Bill ( link to this post | email me | my twitter )

Shelf Awareness Pro

Our sponsor this week is Shelf Awareness Pro, providing news to the book trade for over ten years. Gene and I read the Shelf every day and so should you.

http://www.unshelved.com/2015-7-29Unshelved on Wednesday, July 29, 20152015-07-29T00:00:00+00:002015-07-29T00:00:00+00:00http://www.unshelved.com/2015-7-28Unshelved on Tuesday, July 28, 20152015-07-28T00:00:00+00:002015-07-28T00:00:00+00:00http://www.unshelved.com/2015-7-27Unshelved on Monday, July 27, 20152015-07-27T00:00:00+00:002015-07-27T00:00:00+00:00http://www.unshelved.com/2015-7-26Unshelved on Sunday, July 26, 20152015-07-26T00:00:00+00:002015-07-26T00:00:00+00:00
Without Rockets It's Just Science

Unshelved comic strip for 7/26/2015

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This classic Unshelved strip originally appeared on August 17, 2004.

http://www.unshelved.com/2015-7-25Unshelved on Saturday, July 25, 20152015-07-25T00:00:00+00:002015-07-25T00:00:00+00:00
Without Rockets It's Just Science

Unshelved comic strip for 7/25/2015

link to this strip | tweet this | share on facebook | email us

This classic Unshelved strip originally appeared on August 16, 2004.

http://www.unshelved.com/2015-7-24/Book_ReviewsBook Reviews2015-07-24T00:00:00+00:002015-07-24T00:00:00+00:00
by Gene ( link to this post | email me | my twitter )

Unshelved Book Club

This week's Unshelved Book Club features books about a bullied boy who joins a spy club, how eyes and toilets work, a French lit professor who finds out she has a bullet in her neck, John Waters's adventure hitchhiking across America, grim twins who love heavy metal, a little girl who shares her joy, and a teen who takes a gun to campus.

http://www.unshelved.com/2015-7-24Unshelved on Friday, July 24, 20152015-07-24T00:00:00+00:002015-07-24T00:00:00+00:00http://www.unshelved.com/bookclub/2015-7-24Unshelved Book Club on Friday, July 24, 20152015-07-24T00:00:00+00:002015-07-24T00:00:00+00:00

This week's book recommendations from the creators of Unshelved and their friends.Learn who we are, how we pick books, and other books we've featured.


Amazon | Powell's
Come as You Are The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski
Simon and Schuster, 2015. 9781476762098.

Link to this review in the form of a comic strip by billba tagged nonfictionscience

Unshelved comic strip for 7/24/2015

Amazon | Powell's
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
Yearling Books, 2013. 9780375850875.

Link to this review by robert tagged coming of agemystery

Georges (“Gorgeous” to school bullies) and his family just had to leave their great home with its perfect twelve-year-old boy's room to live in a “nice enough” apartment building. His dad, seeing a flyer for a spy club in a utility room, thinks joining would be a great way for Georges to make new friends. There he meets Safer, who drinks coffee from a flask, and his younger sister Candy, who tracks area prices on sweets. They become friends instantly, and it's all good, clean, boring fun most of the time (though once, as part of his training, Georges has to break into an alleged serial killer's apartment).

The good news about the move is the apartment is only a little bit away from Georges' old home and he doesn't have to change schools. The bad news: same school, same bully, an obnoxious oaf whose has a plan to make Georges the biology class goat. But Georges, emboldened by his experiences with Safer, comes up with a counterattack.

Why I picked it up: When I checked my local library’s catalog for new, true life spy books, this novel’s title caught my eye.

Why I finished it: Georges is a remarkable character. He's self-aware, observant (even before Safer's “training”), and hiding something about his mother being at the hospital that even his enthusiasm for great fortune cookie fortunes can't hide.

Readalikes: If you'd like to read about real life spies, The Dark Game: True Spy Stories from Invisible Ink to CIA Moles by Paul Janeczko was written for roughly the same age range and is full of non-fiction tales about everything from George Washington's spies using invisible ink to the murky world of double agents. Janeczko even covers the Black Tom Island explosion that left marks on the Statue of Liberty. The codes and ciphers in Alvin’s Secret Code by Clifford B. Hicks wouldn't hold up against a practiced amateur solver, but they'd confound most siblings, parents, and teachers.

The Beer Bible by Jeff Alworth
Workman Publishing, 2015. 9780761168119.

It’s finally here—the comprehensive, authoritative book that does for beer what The Wine Bible does for wine. Written by an expert from the West Coast, where America’s craft beer movement got its start, The Beer Bible is the ultimate reader- and drinker-friendly guide to all the world’s beers.

No other book of this depth and scope approaches the subject of beer in the same way that beer lovers do—by style, just as a perfect pub menu is organized—and gets right to the pleasure of discovery, knowledge, and connoisseurship. Divided into four major families—ales, lagers, wheat beers, and tart and wild ales—there’s everything a beer drinker wants to know about the hundreds of different authentic types of brews, from bitters, bocks, and IPAs to weisses, milk stouts, lambics, and more. Each style is a chapter unto itself, delving into origins, ingredients, description and characteristics, substyles, and tasting notes, and ending with a recommended list of the beers to know in each category. Hip infographics throughout make the explanation of beer’s flavors, brewing methods, ingredients, labeling, serving, and more as immediate as it is lively.

The book is written for passionate beginners, who will love its “if you like X, try Y” feature; for intermediate beer lovers eager to go deeper; and for true geeks, who will find new information on every page. History, romance, the art of tasting, backstories and anecdotes, appropriate glassware, bitterness units, mouthfeel, and more—it’s all here. Plus a primer on pairing beer and food using the three Cs— complement, contrast, or cut. It’s the book that every beer lover will read with pleasure, and use with even more.

“Alworth has crafted a thorough work on all things beer. The introduction provides a detailed history of beer, along with descriptions on how beer is made and how to taste like a pro. Four chapters focus on broad types of beers (ales, lagers, wheat beers, and tart and wild ales) and are further divided into sections describing the myriad styles of each type. Alworth offers suggestions of “beers to know” for each style (though the recommendations strongly lean toward breweries of the Pacific Northwest and Central Europe). Numerous sidebars and a few short profiles of breweries provide interesting tidbits and quotes. The book also offers a guide to various beer glassware, a hops variety chart, a glossary, a bibliography, and an index. Recommended for public libraries.” — Becca Smith, Booklist

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Amazon | Powell's

Amazon | Powell's
Eye: How It Works by David Macaulay, Sheila Keenan
Square Fish, 2015. 9781626722132.Toilet: How It Works by David Macaulay, Sheila Keenan
Square Fish, 2015. 9781626722156.

Link to this review by sarahhunt tagged nonfictionpicture book

Cutaway illustrations and descriptions of the inner workings of 1) the eye and visual perception and 2) the toilet and sewage treatment (respectively), both packaged as early readers.

Why I picked them up: I've loved Macaulay's detailed informational drawings since I was little -- I can stare at them for hours and keep getting more from them.

Why I finished them: I learned new things about the eye, like how the lens changes shape to focus on an image, and a whole lot about the cycle of water through the sewage treatment process, from how a toilet flushes to how industrial-sized sludge digesters use bacteria to produce methane for energy and nutrients for fertilizer. This is some pretty in-depth exploration.

They’re perfect for: An elementary school classroom. These are compelling, full of bite-sized facts, and great introductions to how fun it can be to find out more about the world around us.


Amazon | Powell's
The Bullet by Mary Louise Kelly
Gallery Books, 2015. 9781476769813.

Link to this review by emilyreads tagged mystery

Professor of French Literature Caroline Cashion led a quiet life in academia until an MRI ordered for persistent wrist pain turns up a most unusual object: a bullet lodged in the back of her neck. Flabbergasted, Caroline can offer no explanation -- surely she was never shot, right? -- but when she asks her parents, they are curiously elusive. Turns out Caroline was adopted as a toddler after her birth parents were murdered, and evidence that could point to the killer is now bearing down on her spinal cord. Caroline travels from her Georgetown home to Atlanta, where her birth parents lived and died, to figure out exactly who she is and what happened to her, before the killer can track her down and make sure the bullet never sees the light of day.

Why I picked it up: The author was an editor at The Harvard Crimson when my husband was a freshman staffer, so I knew her name and reputation. Plus I like mysteries.

Why I finished it: The story takes excellent twists and turns, including an “OH MAH GAH” one at the end that upends everything. This was one of those books that I stayed up late finishing even though I had to get up early the next morning.

It's perfect for: My sister, a connoisseur of the psychological/forensic mystery. As the mother of two boys and a girl, she’d be particularly interested in the sibling dynamics between Caroline and her two older brothers, including lots of in-jokes and her brothers' protective streaks when it comes to her boyfriends.


Amazon | Powell's
Black Metal Omnibvs by Rick Spears, Chuck BB
Oni Press, 2014. 9781620101438.

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged graphic novelparanormal

The new kids at Ronald Reagan Jr High are the brothers Stronghand, evil twins who have dark eyes, wear only black shirts, and find solace in grim black meta music. Listening to a Frost Axe album, they learn the story of a powerful sword, forged by a master blacksmith for a baron of hell, The Roth. After the brothers play it backwards, a demon appears and offers them the chance to claim it and its power. They are able to wield it because they are The Roth reborn. As they try to learn more about the sword and its power, The Roth’s enemy, Von Char, sends his minions to try to kill the boys, kicking off a conflict between Heaven and Hell.

Why I picked it up: I’ve been a fan of Rick Spears since reading Teenagers from Mars.

Why I finished it: It starts right where it should, at the birth of the universe. “First, there was blackness. Then...there was metal.” Took me right back to seventh grade and going to see Accept and Saxon for what was (trust me) an amazing concert.

There were hilarious moments, too, right at the beginning, which told me more were coming. An excited kid shows the twins the school, including the grassy knoll where the metal kids hang out. He calls it the school’s Mos Eisley. And when one of the brothers takes on a much bigger school bully in heroic, David vs. Goliath fashion using a school lunch tray, I was cheering.

Readalikes: The only other graphic novel series involving Heaven, Hell, and the end of the world that has ever made me laugh this hard, Hellboy. And of course Black Metal Omnibvs instantly brought to mind the most hilarious and entertaining heavy metal anywhere, Jack Black and Kyle Gass’s Tenacious D.


Amazon | Powell's
Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson, Sydney Smith
Groundwood Books, 2015. 9781554984312.

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged picture book

In this wordless picture book, a little girl walks with her father through a city. He’s distracted by a phone call, but she gathers flowers from cracks in the sidewalk and shares her joy wherever she goes.

Why I picked it up: JonArno Lawson is a poet who occaionally writes kids' books. I like it when poets write other types of books -- they tend to be spare instead of expansive. (James Sallis is my favorite mystery writer, and I really enjoyed Paul Guest’s memoir.)

Why I finished it: Smith’s art is amazing. The girl's red hoodie is the only consistent bit of color from page to page, but there are other bursts of color in an otherwise drab world that emphasize its beauty.

Readalikes: My favorite wordless picture books that also use comics panels, Owly and Polo. And it reminded me of Suzy Lee’s The Wave which I bought because the blue of its water made me happy.


Amazon | Powell's
Violent Ends by Shaun David Hutchinson
Simon Pulse, 2015. 9781481437455.

Link to this review by flemtastic tagged anthologycoming of age

Kirby, a quiet teenager who was bullied relentlessly at his school, took a gun to campus and shot up a pep assembly, killing multiple students.

Shaun David Hutchinson asked sixteen other authors to help him create a short story collection about this shooting. Each provides a different perspective on Kirby's actions, including stories about the shooter, his sibling, those who tormented him, his victims, and onlookers.

Why I picked it up: The idea of well-known YA authors tackling an issue like school shootings in such an ambitious way made me very excited to read this book.

Why I finished it: It was amazing how seamlessly these stories worked together. What shared information were the authors working from to make the stories consistent? Some chapters were sweet, others violent and cruel. One even was bold enough to tell a story from the perspective of Kirby’s gun.

It's perfect for: The Marysville-Pilchuck shooting recently took place about an hour away from my house, so this is very timely for upper middle school through high school readers in my area. It is very realistic, including both in depicting the overwhelming sense of loss as well as the guilt, blame, and anger that so many feel. Although it has strong language and disturbing content, libraries should have this book. It exists to explore the “whys” that so many have after a school shooting.

Contributors: Neal Shusterman, Brendan Shusterman, Beth Revis, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Courtney Summers, Kendare Blake, Delilah S. Dawson, Steve Brezenoff, Tom Leveen, Hannah Moskowitz, Blythe Woolston, Trish Doller, Mindi Scott, Margie Gelbwasser, Christine Johnson, E.M. Kokie, and Elisa Nader.

http://www.unshelved.com/2015-7-23Unshelved on Thursday, July 23, 20152015-07-23T00:00:00+00:002015-07-23T00:00:00+00:00http://www.unshelved.com/2015-7-22Unshelved on Wednesday, July 22, 20152015-07-22T00:00:00+00:002015-07-22T00:00:00+00:00http://www.unshelved.com/2015-7-21Unshelved on Tuesday, July 21, 20152015-07-21T00:00:00+00:002015-07-21T00:00:00+00:00http://www.unshelved.com/2015-7-20Unshelved on Monday, July 20, 20152015-07-20T00:00:00+00:002015-07-20T00:00:00+00:00