http://www.unshelved.com/ Unshelved A comic about a library 2014-09-19T07:00:00.0000000Z Gene Ambaum gene@overduemedia.com Bill Barnes bill@overduemedia.com (c) Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes http://www.unshelved.com/2014-9-19/ Unshelved on Friday, September 19, 2014 2014-09-19T07:00:00.0000000Z 2014-09-19T07:00:00.0000000Z
Solve a CD Case with Books on Tape
Unshelved strip for 9/19/2014
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http://www.unshelved.com/bookclub/2014-9-19/ Unshelved Book Club on Friday, September 19, 2014 2014-09-19T07:00:00.0000000Z 2014-09-19T07:00:00.0000000Z

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.


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The Private Eye Volume One by Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin, Munsa Vicente
Panel Syndicate, 2014. .

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged graphic novelscience fiction

Unshelved strip for 9/19/2014

Contains The Private Eye issues #1 - #5.

This digital comic book series is available in a variety of file formats and languages (including Català!) only at the Panel Syndicate website. Pay whatever price you name (really!) for this and the individual issues of the series.

@bookblrb: A woman hires an unlicensed investigator to dig up dirt on her, then she's murdered.


Amazon | Powell's

The Dirty Version: On Stage, in the Studio, and in the Streets with Ol' Dirty Bastard by Buddha Monk, Mickey Hess
It Books, 2014. 9780062231413.

Link to this review by flemtastic tagged biography

Russell Tyrone Jones, better known as Ol' Dirty Bastard (ODB) was a member of the Wu-Tang Clan. They are a loose collective or rappers who achieved great critical and monetary success, but rarely release albums or appear in public together. ODB was the wildest of the men in the group, and often skipped concerts and studio time. Buddha Monk, the author and a friend of ODB, was tasked with getting him to gigs and recording sessions. ODB was known to be inconsistent in his personal life. He was often generous with his time and celebrity, but also reclusive, sometimes hiding away from friends and family for weeks at a time. (His friends believed his erratic behavior and outrageous publicity stunts may have been indications of mental instability.) There is a lot of information about the beginnings of the Wu-Tang Clan and how ODB refined his rapping skills, as well as a discussion of song and album influences which helped shaped his unusual sound. ODB spent time in jail and struggled with drugs and alcohol, which finally killed him in 2004 at the age of thirty-five.

Why I picked it up: I was around in the early days of rap and loved groups like De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest. I had gotten out of listening to rap by the time Wu-Tang Clan broke big in 1993, but they were definitely an important group. I wanted to brush up on the history of rap.

Why I finished it: ODB pulled off a few brilliant publicity stunts, like when he used his welfare card as the cover of Return to the 36 Chambers. In another instance, he picked up his welfare check with his family in a limousine. (You can watch a recording of this thanks to MTV.) But his behavior was also often inexplicable, like when he was caught shoplifting a fifty dollar pair of shoes with over $500 in his wallet. He couldn't be bothered to show up for concerts and court dates, which led to losing money and prison time. I can't decide if he was complicated, or just childish and purposely not good with a schedule.

It's perfect for: Todd, my high school friend who went to see NWA with me back in the day. Yes, although I am a white, suburb-dweller, I saw NWA back when they opened for Whodini and LL Cool J. This would be a blast from the past for him, too, bringing back our fairly short rap phase. Todd is also somewhat erratic himself -- he went up to Alaska and lived as an itinerant handyman for a few years, before taking a bike trip alone through South America. He would dig ODB’s wildness. Todd's "facing down a bear" stories were always entertaining, and he once took his high school homework to a strip club and studied while ignoring the dancers and the strange looks everyone gave him.

@bookblrb: An in-depth biography of the Wu-Tang Clan’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard by his friend Buddha Monk.



Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, Read by Kirsten Potter
Books on Tape, 2014. 9780553545586.

“Look with thine ears.”—King Lear, Act IV, scene 6

How fitting that the first of BOT’s four September LibraryReads available on audio has a powerful King Lear connection, with a major opening plot point that takes place during a production of this classic Shakespearean tragedy. Emily St. John Mandel’s “achingly beautiful” (Booklist) new listen, Station Eleven, gives us the pleasure of doing just that—looking with our ears, and hearing truly terrific writing thanks to our “riveting guide” (AudioFile), audiobook narrator Kirsten Potter. “Look with thine ears” and experience the sounds of great literature in the way only an audiobook allows. Click through to hear a clip of this buzz-worthy new listen from an author to watch.

9 CDs: 9780553545586, audio download: 9780553397987

(Want to be a hero to the audiobook loving patrons in your library? Solve a "CD Case" and win a full month of Books on Tape/Listening Library new releases for your library! Click to to see all our September releases and enter to win)

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Amazon | Powell's

Cure for the Common Breakup by Beth Kendrick
New American Library, 2014. 9780451465856.

Link to this review by emilyreads tagged romance

Flight attendant and serial heartbreaker Summer Benson has just suffered two near-fatal blows: one, a plane crash, and two, the loss of her hot pilot boyfriend, who was all set to propose until he realized he just didn’t love her enough. Summer heads to Black Dog Bay, Delaware, the breakup capital of the world, to nurse her wounds and recuperate. There she discovers a whole community dedicated to the art of getting over it -- from the local boutique offering styles from frumpy to hot-cha-cha, to the Winery, a bar with an endless playlist of lonely-heart and girl-power anthems. Summer quickly runs afoul of the local Miss Havisham, Hattie Huntington, but she’s savvy enough to win the attention of the town’s most eligible bachelor, too -- Mayor Dutch Jansen, a hottie raising his teenage sister.

Why I picked it up: Sometimes a girl needs to read a book with ice cream cones on the cover.

Why I finished it: This is, quite literally, a Lifetime Original Movie in book form. Unrealistic plot twists, a town right out of a J. Crew catalog, characters that are too good (or too bad) to be true -- they’re all here, and you’ll have a ball meeting each and every one.

It's perfect for: You, on the beach, sipping a margarita and wearing a floppy hat, yearning for the chance to try the panties-in-a-wine-glass pickup trick on that hot guy over at the clam shack.

@bookblrb: Summer heads to Black Dog Bay to nurse her wounds after a plane crash and a bad breakup.


Amazon | Powell's

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth
Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin's Press, 2014. 9781250047533.

Link to this review by diane tagged historical fiction

Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been exiled from the French court and sent to a convent as punishment for her caustic tongue and entirely too honest stories about the aristocracy. For a headstrong, educated girl from a Huguenot family, it’s a difficult adjustment to religious life in a stark cell wearing only drab nun’s garments. Her only comfort comes from working in the garden alongside a nun who helps pass the time with the tale of a young girl alone in a tower, forced by a witch to grow her hair long enough to be used as a rope ladder.

Why I picked it up: I was drawn to the beautiful cover featuring a lovely woman with long, braided hair gazing with longing toward a distant city. Blurbs from Susan Vreeland and Jennifer Chiaverini, two of my favorite authors, added to its appeal.

Why I finished it: Forsyth’s wonderfully descriptive style transported me back to the court of Louis XIV with all its decadence, fashion, food, sexual liaisons, religious persecution, and petty grievances. Then she took me to sixteenth century Venice, and on to a tower on a deserted island when a young girl is imprisoned until her true love comes to rescue her. The perfect combination of romance, suspense, and intrigue kept me captivated for all 500 pages. (When I reached the author's note at the end, I discovered that Charlotte was a real life woman who wrote and published the story "Persinette," which became Grimm's fairy tale “Rapunzel.”)

Readalikes: Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, a retelling of The Wizard of Oz focused on how and why the Wicked Witch of the West is so wicked. Both Maguire and Forsyth bring new elements to well-known children’s tales, adding details and a backstory that transform them into fully formed novels for adults.

@bookblrb: Charlotte-Rose is exiled from the court of Louis XIV to a convent. Her only comfort is a story a nuns tells.

Frank Einstein And The Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka, Read by Jon Scieszka & Brian Biggs
Listening Library, 2014. 9780553396997.

VIDEO ALERT! Using real science, funny man and beloved author, Jon Scieszka, has created a unique world of adventure and science fiction—an irresistible chemical reaction for middle-grade listeners. The first title in an exciting new series, Frank Einstein And The Antimatter Motor is truly a one-of-a-kind audiobook, featuring Jon’s own hilarious narration and SUPER COOL robot sounds by the book’s illustrator, Brian Biggs! WATCH this exclusive video to visit with Jon in the studio as he explains why audiobooks help his writing process, and how they can help kids become better readers. (Plus, hear a preview of those robot sounds!)

3 CDs: 9780553396997, audio download: 9780553397000

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The Rules for Breaking by Ashley Elston
Disney-Hyperion, 2014. 9781423168980.

Link to this review by danritchie tagged coming of agemystery

After Anna Boyd witnessed the murder of her boyfriend and his father by a drug cartel, she and her family entered the Witness Protection Program. Now they have their real identities back and no longer live in fear of being uprooted at a moment’s notice. In Natchitoches, Louisiana, she has new friends and a boyfriend she is crazy about, and is looking forward to high school graduation.  

While she was a protected witness, Anna kept a journal detailing her life. It disappeared during her family’s last move and now it has been returned, along with a note from "T." Anna assumes it's from Thomas, a known cartel assassin. With her life again in danger, she convinces the government to let her family stay where they are, and hopes that Thomas is caught before he finds her. 

But after Thomas abducts Anna, her boyfriend, Ethan, and her sister, he tells her he is the only one who can protect her from the cartel. (He’s trying to protect himself, too, by taking out his replacement when he comes for Anna.)

Why I picked it up: I’m always on the lookout for a good mystery with lots of suspense and plot twists.

Why I finished it: It is compelling to watch Anna try to figure out what Thomas is up to -- he clearly will kill anyone who tries to help her but insists that he needs her as bait for the cartel members who want her dead. Anna and Ethan need a strong bond to get through the ordeal. When an old boyfriend of Anna’s turns up as Thomas’s accomplice, it puts a compelling twist on her relationship with Ethan.

It's perfect for: Sharda, a native of New Orleans where the story takes place. She will enjoy how Thomas uses the city, its history, and its culture to hide himself and his prisoners.  When he finally takes Anna to meet his boss, they move through the streets dressed in a tux and white gown (like everyone else) because it’s the St. Joseph’s Day parade.

@bookblrb: The only person who can protect Anna Boyd from the drug cartel that’s hunting her is one of its assassins.


Amazon | Powell's

Facing the Music by Jennifer Knapp
Howard Books, 2014. 9781476759470.

Link to this review by flemtastic tagged biography

In 2001, Jennifer Knapp was a Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) singer/songwriter known for her honest lyrics. She was a rising star who had sold over one million albums. Then she dropped off the face of the earth. She stayed off the grid for seven years before announcing that she was in a same-sex relationship and that she was beginning to record again. Many of her fans considered this a betrayal, but Knapp believes that being honest about who she is has strengthened her faith. She does not see any inconsistency in being both a Christian and gay.

Why I picked it up: I had all three of Jennifer Knapp's albums back in the early 2000's.  I found her music incredibly real and approachable. She was brutally honest about her struggles to be a good Christian and to understand what she was supposed to do. I could sing all of her songs by heart, and still have them on my iPod.

Why I finished it: This is a thought-provoking book. Knapp gives a revealing look at her mental state, the pressure others were putting on her as a Christian role model, and the grind of her career. It references Knapp’s appearance on Larry King where she told her life story and then debated a pastor about whether one can be Christian and gay. I had seen that hour-long interview before, and I watched it again after finishing the book. I definitely see a bit of both sides of this argument.  While it is unrealistic to expect fallible human beings to be perfect, I believe it makes sense to expect musicians who self-identify as Christian artists to be in sync with major doctrinal issues. I felt like Knapp came off better in the Larry King show than the pastor she was debating.

One of the craziest moments in the book was about a revelation to Knapp. For about a year she had mentored a seventeen-year-old girl named Katy Hudson who was trying to make a career in CCM. Later, while Knapp was living in Australia, she saw that Hudson was touring Sydney. She had changed her name and her career goals, was calling herself Katy Perry, and touring on the strength of her song "I Kissed a Girl” It motivated Knapp to pick up her guitar again.

It's perfect for: My friend Bryan, an NFL football player. He has struggled with enjoying the attention of fans while wanting to have a private life, too. He is also a Christian and would be interested in how Knapp struggled with her need for privacy. She read rumors online that she was married with kids, had been sighted in Seattle, and had throat cancer (although the predominant rumor was about her homosexuality). She was frustrated that even after she had retired from music, fans were still prying into her life. Bryan hasn't had any career-threatening publicity, but since he is also in a position where people feel entitled to weigh in on his performance and his personal life, he would identify with Knapp. 

@bookblrb: Christian music star Jennifer Knapp stayed off the grid for 7 years before announcing her same-sex relationship.

Business Adventures by by John Brooks, Read by Johnny Heller
Books on Tape, 2014. 9781101913345.

On July 12, in his blog “GatesNotes,” Bill Gates shared his enthusiasm for Business Adventures, an out-of-print collection of New Yorker articles from the 1960s, calling it his favorite business book. Immediately, and unsurprisingly, interest in this title has spiked (to say the least)! And anticipation for a brilliant new business audiobook (that’s Bill Gates and Warren Buffett-approved) is a sentiment being shared by listeners in libraries across the country. Business listens have long been a popular way to maximize a daily commute to the office, or even a secret solution to get ahead while at work. Business Adventures by John Brooks, read by the award-winning Johnny Heller, is a must for any business listening list. And you can hear a FREE full chapter by clicking here.

14 CDs: 9781101913345, audio download: 9781101913352

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Amazon | Powell's

The Extinction Parade Volume 1 by Max Brooks, Raulo Caceres
Avatar, 2014. 9781592912346.

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged graphic novelhorror

Vampires look down on zombies -- they’re stupid, bumbling, and a bit of a joke. When there’s another zombie outbreak, they can’t understand how the humans are stupid enough to get eaten by the subdead. As chaos envelops the world, vampires go on a feeding frenzy a la 30 Days of Night. But then they realize their existence is threatened because, if all the humans die, there will be nothing left for them to eat.

Why I picked it up: Brooks wrote World War Z.

Why I finished it: The vampires' view of the world is completely self-centered. Hunting in the modern age has become more problematic. People are interconnected, and vampires have to be careful who they hunt, how many, and how often because disappearances are noted. Vampires learn new ways to dispose of their kills, and largely feed on the poor who won’t be missed. It’s no surprise that they hardly notice that zombies are getting a real foothold worldwide until it’s too late. I also enjoyed that, during hunts, the vampires were very concerned about the quality of blood in their victims, and have a preference for religious adherents with a better diet.

Readalikes: David Wellington’s vampire series, the first of which is 13 Bullets, in which the creatures are even more bloodthirsty, and his zombie series, which starts with Monster Island, where an American leads an expedition to an infested Manhattan in order to save his daughter. Both are page turners, and they’re much less well known than they deserve.

@bookblrb: During a zombie outbreak, vampires go on a feeding frenzy and then realize their food supply is disappearing.


Amazon | Powell's

Cast On, Bind Off by Leslie Ann Bestor
Storey, 2012. 9781603427241.

Link to this review by sarahhunt tagged nonfiction

Photos illustrate each step of fifty-four different techniques to start and end knitting projects. These vary from practical to beautiful, and best uses are listed for each.

Why I picked it up: I saw a knitting instructor consulting this book while she fixed one of her student’s knitting problems.

Why I finished it: I've been knitting for a long time, but I've only ever used one or two basic cast ons and bind offs. This opened up a whole new world of beginning and endings that look nicer than any I've used. There were cast ons that I didn't know were possible, like an invisible one in the center of a circular knit, that gave me ideas for cool projects.

It's perfect for: Cece, because there's a provisional cast on that will let her start at the center of a shawl and knit in the other direction from the same cast on row. She's ready for some advanced projects like this.

@bookblrb: An illustrated guide to fifty-four techniques to start and end knitting projects.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, Read by the Author
Listening Library, 2014. 9780553397260.

Jacqueline Woodson, one of today's finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse…and in her own voice. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a listen into a child’s soul as Woodson searches for her place in the world. Her eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and will certainly inspire others who listen to this extraordinary work, which has already received 6 starred reviews! Listen to the entire first chapter here.

4 CDs: 9780553397260, audio download: 9780553397277

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Sleep Tight, Anna Banana! by Dominique Roques, Alexis Dormal, Mark Siegel
First Second, 2014. 9781626720190.

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged graphic novelpicture book

Anna Banana’s stuffed animals want to go to sleep, but she won’t stop reading. When she’s finally ready to go to sleep, they have other plans.

Why I picked it up: The girl and her six stuffed animals on the cover, jumping on her bed, look like they’re having a great time.

Why I finished it: Artist Alexis Dormal does something I love very, very much -- he defines comic panels with just the right amount of color in the background (instead of the black panel borders used in most comics). It’s clear the entire story takes place in Anna’s bedroom though the level of detail comes and goes. All of this combines to give the story a wonderful, very natural flow from panel to panel and page to page.

Readalikes: The most colorful graphic novel for young readers about going to bed at night, the utterly beautiful Good Night, Gabbaland.

@bookblrb: Anna Banana’s stuffed animals want to sleep, but Anna won’t stop reading.

http://www.unshelved.com/2014-9-19/Book_Reviews/ Book Reviews 2014-09-19T07:00:00.0000000Z 2014-09-19T07:00:00.0000000Z
by Gene ( link to this post | email me | my twitter )

Unshelved Book Club

This week's Unshelved Book Club features books about Ol' Dirty Bastard, a flight attendant trying to overcome heartbreak, a young woman exiled from the court of Louis XIV, a teen in the Witness Protection Program, a contemporary Christian music star who dropped off the face of the earth, a vampire feeding frenzy during a zombie outbreak, knitting, and a girl who won't stop reading and go to sleep.

http://www.unshelved.com/2014-9-18/ Unshelved on Thursday, September 18, 2014 2014-09-18T07:00:00.0000000Z 2014-09-18T07:00:00.0000000Z
Solve a CD Case with Books on Tape
Unshelved strip for 9/18/2014
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http://www.unshelved.com/2014-9-17/ Unshelved on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 2014-09-17T07:00:00.0000000Z 2014-09-17T07:00:00.0000000Z
Solve a CD Case with Books on Tape
Unshelved strip for 9/17/2014
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http://www.unshelved.com/2014-9-17/Be_a_Superhero_to_Audiobook_fans/ Be a Superhero to Audiobook fans 2014-09-17T07:00:00.0000000Z 2014-09-17T07:00:00.0000000Z
by Bill ( link to this post | email me | my twitter )

Win audiobooks from Books on Tape Win audiobooks from Listening Library

If, like my family, you're a fan of audiobooks, you'll love this great giveaway from our friends at Books on Tape/Listening Library. Solve a "CD Case" and win a full month of new releases for your library! Click here to see all their September releases and enter to win!

http://www.unshelved.com/2014-9-16/ Unshelved on Tuesday, September 16, 2014 2014-09-16T07:00:00.0000000Z 2014-09-16T07:00:00.0000000Z
Solve a CD Case with Books on Tape
Unshelved strip for 9/16/2014
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http://www.unshelved.com/2014-9-15/ Unshelved on Monday, September 15, 2014 2014-09-15T07:00:00.0000000Z 2014-09-15T07:00:00.0000000Z
Solve a CD Case with Books on Tape
Unshelved strip for 9/15/2014
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http://www.unshelved.com/2014-9-14/ Unshelved on Sunday, September 14, 2014 2014-09-14T07:00:00.0000000Z 2014-09-14T07:00:00.0000000Z
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Unshelved strip for 9/14/2014
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This classic Unshelved strip originally appeared on 3/16/2004 .

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http://www.unshelved.com/2014-9-13/ Unshelved on Saturday, September 13, 2014 2014-09-13T07:00:00.0000000Z 2014-09-13T07:00:00.0000000Z
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Unshelved strip for 9/13/2014
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This classic Unshelved strip originally appeared on 3/15/2004 .

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http://www.unshelved.com/2014-9-12/ Unshelved on Friday, September 12, 2014 2014-09-12T07:00:00.0000000Z 2014-09-12T07:00:00.0000000Z
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Unshelved strip for 9/12/2014
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http://www.unshelved.com/bookclub/2014-9-12/ Unshelved Book Club on Friday, September 12, 2014 2014-09-12T07:00:00.0000000Z 2014-09-12T07:00:00.0000000Z

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

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
Square Fish, 2013. 9781250010230.

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged coming of agehistorical fiction

Unshelved strip for 9/12/2014

@bookblrb: Jack Gantos was grounded for most of the summer of 1962, but he managed to have adventures and get in more trouble.


Amazon | Powell's

Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant
Katherine Tegen Books, 2014. 9780062207401.

Link to this review by flemtastic tagged coming of ageparanormal

Mara wakes up in a field of dead grass. A fog obscures everything in sight except for a tall, thin boy in a robe. He is the Messenger. He tells her that she must come with him, that she has made a choice to help punish wickedness to keep things in balance. 

They travel through time and space, flitting around to witness evil deeds. The Messenger uses his powers to make each of the accused choose to play a game or to face his worst fear. The Master of the Game, a tree-like creature covered in maze patterns, offers a macabre game to the accused who choose to play.

Mara finds she is the Messenger's apprentice, and will eventually replace him. As part of her training, they focus on a girl named Samantha, a high-schooler on the outside of a popular clique. She has just had an offer to publish a manuscript, and this has made a girl named Kayla her mortal enemy. Kayla picks on Samantha in every way possible, taking away her joy about her book. Samantha decides to take her own life, which has serious and unexpected repercussions for Mara.

Why I picked it up: Michael Grant wrote the Gone series, which is immensely popular in my middle school library.

Why I finished it: It had more twists than a Coney Island roller coaster, and I was along for the ride right from the beginning. The balance of the mystery and clues forced me to read the book all in one sitting so that I wouldn't have to leave the world Grant created until I knew what had happened. 

It's perfect for: Christian, because, like the Messenger, he has a lot of tattoos. He’ll enjoy this twist, that the Messenger's body is covered with tattoos that are all experiences that he has gone through, each of which literally left its mark on him. The Messenger's skin can be read like a picture book.

@bookblrb: Mara is apprenticed to the Messenger, a supernatural being who punishes wickedness.

Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybour
Harlequin, 2014. 9780778317753.

New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn returns with a Jazz Age tale of grand adventure

On the verge of a stilted life as an aristocrat’s wife, Poppy Hammond does the only sensible thing—she flees the chapel in her wedding gown. Assisted by the handsome curate who calls himself Sebastian Cantrip, she spirits away to her estranged father’s quiet country village, pursued by the family she left in uproar. But when the dust of her broken engagement settles and Sebastian disappears under mysterious circumstances, Poppy discovers there is more to her hero than there seems.

With only her feisty lady’s maid for company, Poppy secures employment and travels incognita—east across the seas, chasing a hunch and the whisper of clues. Danger abounds beneath the canopies of the silken city, and Poppy finds herself in the perilous sights of those who will stop at nothing to recover a fabled ancient treasure. Torn between allegiance to her kindly employer and a dashing, shadowy figure, Poppy will risk it all as she attempts to unravel a much larger plan—one that stretches to the very heart of the British government, and one that could endanger everything—and everyone—that she holds dear.

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Naked and Marooned by Ed Stafford
Plume, 2014. 9780142180969.

Link to this review by flemtastic tagged nonfiction

In 2010, Ed Stafford became the first man to walk the entire length of the Amazon river. Adored by adventurers everywhere and in possession of multiple adventurer's society medals, he was at a loss for what to do next. Wanting to test himself, he decided to literally strip everything away and see what he could do on his own, with no help. He arrived naked to a deserted island and spent sixty days seeing if he could survive or even thrive. The only thing Stafford brought with him was a camcorder to record his trials and tribulations. (He had an intricate system to drop off tapes and pick up fresh batteries without seeing another human.)

Why I picked it up: I thought it was related to the reality show Naked and Afraid.

Why I finished it: Stafford is a piece of work. He did a lot of things that would have grossed me out: he killed a live goat (it took fifteen minutes of battering, since he did not have a knife), and he ate snails and grubs. He survived explosive diarrhea, sickness, problems finding fresh water and creating a shelter, when the sharpest tool he could find was a clamshell fragment. He claims the hardest part was being alone, that the human condition requires some kind of interaction. His emotional lows and highs sometimes hinged on small things, like finding a branch of hardwood he could use for the fire or having his meat spoil without refrigeration. Even while he was on the island, he got songs stuck in his head, including Kelly Clarkson's "What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger."

It's perfect for: Ed, a former colleague and science teacher. He's an engineer who always wants to know how things work. Stafford spent a lot of time on his fresh water still, using the principles of science (like osmosis) to increase the amount of water he trapped. Ed would love that Stafford was able to come up with a way to get so much water he couldn't trap it all, despite the lack of rainwater.

@bookblrb: To test himself, adventurer Ed Stafford spent 60 days naked and alone on a deserted island.


Amazon | Powell's

Pyg: The Memoirs of Toby, The Learned Pig by Russell Potter
Penguin, 2012. 9780143121183.

Link to this review by sarahhunt tagged historical fiction

Toby, an ordinary pig in 1780s England, narrowly avoids becoming dinner by running away with his human friend, Sam. A showman who uses animals in his variety act trains Toby to pick out pasteboard letters according to a series of secret signals, spelling words to answer audience questions. Then Sam teaches Toby what the words mean, and Toby learns to read and communicate with humans.

Why I picked it up: I had heard of the real Toby in Ricky Jay's book Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women, and was fascinated by the idea of taking the story of a trained pig one step further and turning it into the story of an intelligent, thoughtful pig.

Why I finished it: Toby is earnest and charming. I was rooting for him as he went from trying to survive, to being adored in show business, to realizing that the human world is cruel and that people might only ever see him as a freak (and not a thoughtful being).

It's perfect for: The students at Stella Schola Middle School, who read both kids books with animal protagonists and challenging literary classics. Potter does a wonderful job combining the two by basing the majority of the story on real historical documents and mentions of Toby (and his many imitators) by William Blake, Robert Burns, and other luminaries of the day. The sources and details are spelled out in a delightful appendix.

@bookblrb: In 1780s England, a pig named Toby avoids becoming dinner, joins a show, and learns to communicate with humans.

Filthy Lucre by Sharon Cullars
Loose Id, 2014. 9781623005641.

When Teddy Holliday is robbed of her last hard-earned ten dollars at a local five-and-dime, she thinks that is the worst her day can get. Later that morning when a stranger arrives seeking a room in her boarding house offering her a wad of cash, more money than she has seen in one offering, she is grateful for the salvation. Little does Teddy know that the smolderingly handsome border, one Louis Daniels, is a bank robber - and that he knows the man who earlier robbed her - Clyde Barker of the famous Bonnie and Clyde duo.

When the whole gang takes her hostage in her own home, she must find a way to escape...as well as resist the sexual charms of Louis, who is determined to win her body and soul. What follows is a potent mix of gripping fear and sexual discovery. Not to mention a natural tornado that upends her life forever.

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The Emperor's Blades: (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne Book One) by Brian Staveley
Tor, 2013. 9780765336408.

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged fantasy

The Emperor has been murdered.

In the capital, his daughter Adare seeks justice for her father. But it’s going to be tough -- the chief suspect is a powerful holy man.

On a distant Island, his younger son Valyn is on the verge of completing eight years of brutal training to become one of the Kettral, an elite fighting force. Members of his father’s guard, sent to protect Valyn, have been murdered. Assassins within the Ketrel make several attempts on his life. And soon Valyn must face the most deadly test of his training, Hull’s Trial.

In a remote monastery, his older son Kaden lives a life of hardship and contemplation as an adherent to the Blank God. His new master seems determined to help Kaden achieve the vaniate, the state of nothingness, but his lessons focus on suffering and pain. An unknown creature is killing the monks’ goats. The strangers who claim to be traders may not be who they say. And Kaden has no idea that his father is dead or that he’s now Emperor.

Why I picked it up: The cover and title promised violence.

Why I finished it: Each story has a lot of tension. How far will Adare have to go to get justice? Can Valyn survive his assassins and the trial? Will Kaden be killed by his training, the creature, or assassins?

Readalikes: There isn’t much class magic (spells, enchanted swords) in this fantasy world, but there are leeches who can twist reality. People believe them evil and unholy, and hunt them down, though the Kettral welcome them because their gifts can make a difference on the battlefield. This reminded me of the magic in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series in which metals fuel magical superpowers, and which is also full of glorious, well-written battles.

@bookblrb: After his murder, the Emperor’s sons, one training to become an elite warrior and the other a monk, become targets.


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I Am Pilgrim: A Thriller by Terry Hayes
Atria / Emily Bestler Books, 2014. 9781439177723.

Link to this review by emilyjones tagged thriller

After retiring from a brief but intense career as a spy for the U.S. government, code-name Pilgrim anonymously wrote the authoritative text on crime scene investigation. But living an inconspicuous life comes to a sudden halt when a killer uses his book as a how-to guide for committing the perfect murder. After helping out authorities with a gruesome, seemingly isolated crime, Pilgrim becomes entrenched in the world he promised himself he would never return to. Pilgrim travels to New York City, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia to hunt a man who is committed to bringing down the U.S. once and for all.

Why I picked it up: My friend got a copy as a Christmas present from family in Australia, and his wife "stole" it from him and couldn't stop telling me about it. After he stole it back from her, I tried to leave their house with it but got busted at the door. All they talked about was Pilgrim, so I had to hunt down a copy for myself to find out what all the fuss was about!

Why I finished it: I've been trying to think of a classier way to answer this question, but the honest answer is that I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. After starting it, I read I Am Pilgrim every waking moment between work and sleep until I finished the last page. Hayes' writing style is clear when explaining complex political, religious, and scientific concepts. (I’m certain I will never be able to forget the effects of smallpox.) I felt like I was actually learning something while being entertained, and the tension just kept building until I thought I was going to burst.

It's perfect for: My husband, Carl, who never reads fiction because he's so busy reading medical texts for work, but also because he claims the truth is far more fascinating than any made-up story. (I started asking him detailed medical questions about the plot, and the next thing I knew he was twenty-four pages into it.)

@bookblrb: A retired spy is drawn back into the world of espionage after a book he wrote is used to commit the perfect murder.

Amulet #6: Escape From Lucien by Kazu Kibuishi
Scholastic, 2014. 9780545433150.

Kazu Kibuishi's #1 New York Times bestselling series continues!

Emily, Navin, and their friends continue to battle the Elf King in hopes of destroying him forever, but one of his most loyal followers, Max, isn't making it easy for them. The crew journeys to Lucien, a city that's been ravaged by the war. Emily has more enemies there than she realizes--and it'll take everything she's got to get herself and her friends out of the city alive.

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Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian
Carolrhoda LAB, 2013. 9781467705974.

Link to this review by dawnrutherford tagged coming of age

After his mother's death, Evan and his dad move frequently, forever on the run from sad memories. Almost continuously the new guy at school, Evan uses it to his advantage, seducing girls and then dropping them after they have sex. He never lets himself get attached, knowing the next move is just around the corner. Then, at a private school in the South, he picks the wrong girl. Her jealous ex and one of his henchmen corner Evan in the showers. They give him a beating so bad he loses hearing in one ear and has to have his spleen removed. Desperate to see his son heal in a safe place, Evan's dad takes him back to the family’s lake house where he spent the summers of his youth.

Why I picked it up: I heard a lot of good buzz around this book as a Printz contender, and it was a finalist for the 2014 William C. Morris Award (for first time authors). I wanted to know how this book would live up to its provocative titles.

Why I finished it: Evan goes from being a fairly unsympathetic character to someone you want to hold close and protect. Mesrobian follows him through therapy in a way that doesn't feel like it has been staged as a lesson for readers, and the book is filled with enough coarse, true-to-life details that teens will read it as fact.

Readalikes: The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos, another debut novel in which a teen guy struggles to trust people and find his way despite being deeply damaged by the cruelty of his peers. Unlike Evan's beat down, Harry was tied to a tree during a thunderstorm, abandoned, then bullied about his injuries. Both guys reluctantly work with therapists to find healing for their invisible scars.

@bookblrb: Evan uses his status as the new guy at school to seduce girls and drop them until he’s badly beaten.


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Memorial by Chris Roberson, Rich Ellis
IDW, 2012. 9781613773543.

Link to this review by wally tagged fantasygraphic novel

Em wakes up in Portland with no memory of who she is or where she comes from. Once she gets settled in a new life, she stumbles upon a magical curiosity shop run by an old man named Peter. She sees a key there that seems to tickle her memory, and Peter gives it to her. When she goes to leave, she finds a horde of living statues just outside the shop sent by someone who wants the key. Luckily for Em, she gets help from a talking cat, Schrodinger, who suggests she use her key to open a door to a new world. So begins her real quest to remember who she is and to find her destiny.

Contains Memorial issues #1 - #6.

Why I picked it up: I love the old fantasy trope of a mysterious shop that appears and vanishes without warning, but serves the purpose of setting the hero on a quest.

Why I finished it: The scope of the story is epic. Em’s journey takes her through realms run by three mythical sisters, Moment, Memory, and Possibility, and to a desert where the Tower of Babylon rises, run by blind librarians who imagine (nearly) every possible universe. (And this is just the first volume.)

Readalikes: Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, because Gaiman has a talent for telling stories about seemingly mythical characters who should have been invented ages ago. Gaiman’s Dream, who is in charge of the realms of sleep, reminds me of Moment and her sisters -- they are omniscient, omnipotent beings who appear to control reality but cannot control each other.

@bookblrb: Em has no memory of who she is. In a curiosity shop she finds a key which leads to a new world and her destiny.

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
Scholastic, 2014. 9780545540599.

The companion to Raina Telgemeier's #1 New York Times bestselling and Eisner Award-winning graphic memoir, Smile.

Raina can't wait to be a big sister. But once Amara is born, things aren't quite how she expected them to be. Amara is cute, but she's also a cranky, grouchy baby, and mostly prefers to play by herself. Their relationship doesn't improve much over the years, but when a baby brother enters the picture and later, something doesn't seem right between their parents, they realize they must figure out how to get along. They are sisters, after all.

Raina uses her signature humor and charm in both present-day narrative and perfectly placed flashbacks to tell the story of her relationship with her sister, which unfolds during the course of a road trip from their home in San Francisco to a family reunion in Colorado.

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Paul Joins the Scouts by Michel Rabagliati, Helge Dascher
Conundrum / Bdang, 2013. 9781894994699.

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged coming of agegraphic novelhistorical fiction

Quebec, 1970. It’s the year Paul joins the scouts, goes to camp, has his first kiss, and decides he wants to be a comic artist. It’s also the year the Quebec Liberation Front wages a campaign for independence that includes bombings and kidnappings.

Why I picked it up: I bought this last year at TCAF because there was a big buzz around its release, and I had enjoyed two of Rabagliati’s previous semi-autobiographical graphic novels about a slightly older Paul, Paul Has a Summer Job and Paul Moves Out.

Why I finished it: Rabagliati’s art is absolutely amazing in the way it reveals small details, creates a sense of place, and helps the writing create a happy, innocent tone with a sense of foreboding. His characterization of Paul was spot-on, from his bewildered cluelessness (and happiness) when Héléne kisses him to the way he looks up to his scoutmasters. Besides Paul, my favorite character was his mother, who is unlucky enough to live across the hall from her controlling mother-in-law, her sister, and her husband’s brother. Their comments and they way they invade Paul’s mother’s space always have her on the verge of exploding, though she holds it in to keep the peace.

Readalikes: Mike Dawson’s hilarious Troop 142, which features a much less innocent summer camp with way more potty humor.

@bookblrb: In Quebec in 1970, Paul joins the scouts, goes to camp, has his first kiss, and decides to become an artist.

http://www.unshelved.com/2014-9-12/Book_Reviews/ Book Reviews 2014-09-12T07:00:00.0000000Z 2014-09-12T07:00:00.0000000Z
by Gene ( link to this post | email me | my twitter )

Unshelved Book Club

This week's Unshelved Book Club features books about a being who punishes wickedness, a man trying to survive naked on a deserted island for 60 days, a learned pig, a murdered emperor's children, a retired U.S. spy out to stop a terrorist, a boy beaten for seducing the wrong girl, an amnesiac girl who finds a key to a new world, and a boy in Quebec in 1970 who becomes a scout.

http://www.unshelved.com/2014-9-11/ Unshelved on Thursday, September 11, 2014 2014-09-11T07:00:00.0000000Z 2014-09-11T07:00:00.0000000Z
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Unshelved strip for 9/11/2014
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Library Ranger Badges available from the Unshelved store while supplies last

http://www.unshelved.com/2014-9-11/Banned_Books_Week_Poster/ Banned Books Week Poster 2014-09-11T07:00:00.0000000Z 2014-09-11T07:00:00.0000000Z
by Bill ( link to this post | email me | my twitter )

Win a Simon & Schuster Banned Books Week poster

Our friends at Simon & Schuster have a strong tradition of increasing awareness of censorship during Banned Books Week. Once again they have a web page full of resources, and you can enter to win their 2014 Banned Books Week poster! Check it out.

http://www.unshelved.com/2014-9-10/ Unshelved on Wednesday, September 10, 2014 2014-09-10T07:00:00.0000000Z 2014-09-10T07:00:00.0000000Z
Free Banned Book Week poster
Unshelved strip for 9/10/2014
link to this strip | tweet this | share on facebook | email us | signed print

Library Ranger Badges available from the Unshelved store while supplies last

http://www.unshelved.com/2014-9-9/ Unshelved on Tuesday, September 09, 2014 2014-09-09T07:00:00.0000000Z 2014-09-09T07:00:00.0000000Z
Free Banned Book Week poster
Unshelved strip for 9/9/2014
link to this strip | tweet this | share on facebook | email us | signed print

Library Ranger Badges available from the Unshelved store while supplies last