Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Review - Gail Carriger's My Sister's Song

My Sister's Song by Gail Carriger
Published by: Wilberforsian Ink
Publication Date: August 30th, 2011
Format: Kindle
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy
You've got female warriors outsmarting Romans with bees! How could you not want to read this little story? Mithra is a warrior, while her younger sister is able to enchant bees with her beautiful voice. With their combined knowledge of human fallibility and the dangers of eating certain honey, the lesser troupes are able to easily destroy the larger Roman legion. Based on historical facts of Roman troops being poisoned in the first century BC under Pompey the Great when they were attacking the Heptakometes in Turkey, you can see how this story bridged the two worlds of Gail Carriger and made them one. In her first sold story you see the archaeologist in her. The history lover writing about a world that only exists in artifacts and dig sites. Here Gail has brought this once alive and now dead world back. We get to see through the eyes of Mithra a world long gone. Also, on a side note, it's nice to find out that Gail can write other great and compelling stories besides The Parasol Protectorate series... because I don't know what I'd do once those books end if she couldn't handle other genres and styles. A definite read for apiarists and lovers of Caesar.

Book Review - Tom Perrotta's The Leftovers

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
Published by: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: August 30th, 2011
Format: Paperback, 355 Pages
Rating: ★
To Buy


The Rapture has happened. Or at least an event that looks so much like the rapture that it makes no difference, except to those who are offended by the choices made as to those taken. How could they take the idolaters and not the true believers? Yet one thing is certain, with so many people now gone, everyones life has changed. Kevin Garvey's wife has left him to go and be a part of the new cult The Guilty Remnant, where she keeps silent and smokes all day while accusing her fellow citizens with her mere presence. Their daughter Jill has sunk into sex and drugs with her sexy new friend Aimee who walks around the Garvey house in almost nothing. Their son has joined another cult, the Healing Hug Movement, that seems to put a lot of stock into their holy leader, Wayne. Yet Nora Durst is the one suffering most, as she lost her husband and her children. While the town gathers to mourn those who have left, each of these people will continue on their own painful journey while the world seems to be in limbo, allowing grief to rule the day years later. Yet their journeys will cross, and in those brief moments, maybe they can try to move on.

The concept of this book is genius, the execution is another thing. Instead of finding the humor in his topic, Perrotta seems to have thought the book was an excuse to wallow in a midlife crisis and dwell overly long on grief. Add to that characters that are so shallow they verge on being less then one dimensional, especially the women, whose only way to deal with grief or their emotional traumas is to do something to their hair. Because obviously, all women are superficial and only skin deep. Whereas the male lead, Kevin Garvey, is living, in my opinion, Perrotta's dream life. His family has all deserted him, he has his daughter's hot friend living in the house, obviously every woman wants him because he has power as the mayor, and therefore his life is good. If Perrotta had been skewering this perception of male wish fulfilment, that might have been something, but it appears to be in earnest.

That's the whole problem in the book. It's earnest. Instead of lampooning weird end of days cults and the new mentality of the human race, we get people who have been given an excuse to wallow in their grief. Hundreds of pages of shallow wallowing. Because nothing is ever analysed, it just is. Nora Durst lost her family, so here's a hundred pages of her riding a bike and not thinking about the tragedy. Jill ditches school and does some tame drugs, oh, now that's a totally revolutionary way for a teenager to revolt now isn't it? This book is so shallow that if I were to throw it into the deep end of a pool it would come out without even moisture on it.

The Guilty Remnant and Holy Wayne with his Healing Hug Movement seemed to have potential, but instead it's basically Jim Jones and his "Kool-Aid" at work. Though there is no analysis of the parallels, no plugging into the zeitgeist that makes such organizations form. Everything is just surface. If you actually want humor and Jim Jones, go read Armistead Maupin's third Tales of the City book, Further Tales of the City. In fact, thinking of Maupin has now made me sadder, because there is a true comedic American writer and I'm sure given the same basic plot of this book he could have written a satire that pierced the American way of life while also tackling grief.

Needless to say this will be the first and last book by Perrotta that I ever read. He is mostly known for the book the classic Reese Witherspoon movie Election is based on, a fact that he himself is mighty proud of in his Q&A at the end of the book. Well Mr. Perrotta, you shouldn't be that full of yourself. You wrote a superficial little novel that reads as a pathetic roman a clef of yourself. I've seen into you and you are a trifling writer of meagre and bland talents and you have wasted my time with a book that was unable to deliver on it's premise. Also, just as a final note, if you only "rapture" up a small number of the population of the earth, there really can't be that many people missing from one small town in New Jersey now can there? Just saying, basic math!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tuesday Tomorrow

The Sookie Stackhouse Companion by Charlaine Harris
Published by: Ace
Publication Date: August 30th, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 480 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Charlaine Harris has topped the bestseller charts and has become a nationwide phenomenon, thanks to the unconventional-and otherworldly- life of Sookie Stackhouse. Now, in her own words, Sookie gives readers a look at her family, friends, enemies, adventures, and-of course-the lovers who set her world on fire...

Readers will:

• Tour Bon Temps, the small Louisiana town that Sookie calls home, and visit the houses of her Gran and her sometime vampire lover, Bill
• Prowl around the werewolf and were-panther communities
• Browse through her best friend Tara's dress shop
• Belly up to the bar in Merlotte's, where Sookie works
• Get must-have Bon Temps recipes-including Caroline Bellfleur's famous chocolate cheesecake
• Test themselves with trivia questions from the series"

Ok, I'm really excited about this, if just because at, what is it, eleven now, books, the series is getting unwieldy and hard to keep track of. Also now that there's tv and comic adaptations... and companion is very, very welcome.

40 Love by Madeleine Wickham
Published by: Thomas Dunne
Publication Date: August 30th, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 288 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"A young English writer's debut assembles a nasty gang of upwardly mobile friends at a houseparty in the British countryside- -and lets them at one another's throats over tennis and cocktails. Patrick Chance's tennis party is not about tennis: He needs to sell a pricey and questionable investment plan in order to reap a cushy bonus. So he and his wife, Caroline, have invited a likely buyer: their old pal Charles, who's come into money by marrying an heiress, the ultraspoiled Cressida. Also invited for the weekend are penniless Annie and Stephen, both salt-of-the-earth types, and neighbors Don and Valerie, a vulgar father-daughter duo who truly care about winning the tournament. Cressida finds Caroline trashy, and she hates the fact that the Chances are friends from Charles's bohemian youth. Patrick slimily tries to sell his lemon plan to Charles and is politely blown off; in a dither because he fears the loss of his bonus, he turns his salesman ways on trusting Stephen and convinces him to take a second mortgage out on his house to invest in the fund. Then Ella, the great love of Charles's youth, shows up uninvited, just back from a world tour. After a drunken dinner, she and Charles slither off to the garden. Later, puffed up by his adulterous conquest, Charles slips into his bedroom only to discover--via a letter--that his wife's finances are so shaky that they now face financial ruin. The finals of the tournament turn into a verbal melee as Stephen realizes he's been had by Patrick, and Cressida finds out about Charles's infidelity. Recriminations are exchanged all around before this houseparty from hell adjourns for the weekend. Despite its contrivances, this featherweight comedy delivers a decided satisfaction: pleasingly humiliating comeuppances for all its odious characters."

Sophie Kinsella, aka, Madeleine's alias, is the queen of chick lit and this looks like an ideal last weekend of summer beach read.

Wildwood by Colin Meloy
Published by: Balzar + Bray
Publication Date: August 30th, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 560 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Prue McKeel’s life is ordinary. At least until her baby brother is abducted by a murder of crows. And then things get really weird.

You see, on every map of Portland, Oregon, there is a big splotch of green on the edge of the city labeled “I.W.” This stands for “Impassable Wilderness.” No one’s ever gone in—or at least returned to tell of it.

And this is where the crows take her brother.

So begins an adventure that will take Prue and her friend Curtis deep into the Impassable Wilderness. There they uncover a secret world in the midst of violent upheaval, a world full of warring creatures, peaceable mystics, and powerful figures with the darkest intentions. And what begins as a rescue mission becomes something much bigger as the two friends find themselves entwined in a struggle for the very freedom of this wilderness.

A wilderness the locals call Wildwood.

Wildwood is a spellbinding tale full of wonder, danger, and magic that juxtaposes the thrill of a secret world and modern city life. Original and fresh yet steeped in classic fantasy, this is a novel that could have only come from the imagination of Colin Meloy, celebrated for his inventive and fantastic storytelling as the lead singer of the Decemberists. With dozens of intricate and beautiful illustrations by award-winning artist Carson Ellis, Wildwood is truly a new classic for the twenty-first century."

Singer writing book about kidnapping crows? So weird, I am sold. Also, love the cover, so olde tyme.

Aftermath by Ann Aguirre
Published by: Ace
Publication Date: August 30th, 2011
Format: Paperback, 320 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"During the war against murderous, flesh-eating aliens, grimspace "jumper" Sirantha Jax decided to go it alone. The cost of her actions: the destruction of modern interstellar travel-and the lives of six hundred Conglomerate soldiers. Now she's on trial fro dereliction of duty, desertion, mass murder, high treason...and her life."

I really am so excited to start this series... now come on me, read GRRM faster!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tuesday Tomorrow

Flash and Bones by Kathy Reichs
Published by: Scribner
Publication Date: August 23rd, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 288 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Just as 200,000 fans are pouring into town for Race Week, a body is found in a barrel of asphalt next to the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The next day, a NASCAR crew member comes to Temperance Brennan’s office at the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner to share a devastating story. Twelve years earlier, Wayne Gamble’s sister, Cindi, then a high school senior and aspiring racer, disappeared along with her boyfriend, Cale Lovette. Lovette kept company with a group of right-wing extremists known as the Patriot Posse. Could the body be Cindi’s? Or Cale’s?

At the time of their disappearance, the FBI joined the investigation, only to terminate it weeks later. Was there a cover-up? As Tempe juggles multiple theories, the discovery of a strange, deadly substance in the barrel alongside the body throws everything into question. Then an employee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention goes missing during Race Week. Tempe can’t overlook the coincidence. Was this man using his lab chemicals for murder? Or is the explanation even more sinister? What other secrets lurk behind the festive veneer of Race Week?

A turbocharged story of secrets and murder unfolds in this, the fourteenth thrilling novel in Reichs’s “cleverly plotted and expertly maintained series” (The New York Times Book Review). With the smash hit Bones about to enter its seventh season and in full syndication—and her most recent novel, Spider Bones, an instant New York Times bestseller—Kathy Reichs is at the top of her game."

New Bones book, you know you can't resist... don't deny it.

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce
Published by: Little Brown
Publication Date: August 23rd, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"As a child, Gretchen's twin sister was taken by a witch in the woods. Ever since, Gretchen and her brother, Ansel, have felt the long branches of the witch's forest threatening to make them disappear, too.

Years later, when their stepmother casts Gretchen and Ansel out, they find themselves in sleepy Live Oak, South Carolina. They're invited to stay with Sophia Kelly, a beautiful candy maker who molds sugary magic: coveted treats that create confidence, bravery, and passion.

Life seems idyllic and Gretchen and Ansel gradually forget their haunted past-- until Gretchen meets handsome local outcast Samuel. He tells her the witch isn't gone-- it's lurking in the forest, preying on girls every year after Live Oak's infamous chocolate festival, and looking to make Gretchen it's next victim. Gretchen is determined to stop running and start fighting back. Yet the further she investigates the mystery of what the witch is and how it chooses its victims, the more she wonders who the real monster is.

Gretchen is certain of only one thing: a monster is coming, and it will never go away hungry."

Ok, so, I know I shouldn't fall for the total awesomeness of this cover, given how much I hated Sisters Red... but cover, pretty.

Skary Childrin and the Carousel of Sorrow by Katy Towell
Published by: Knopf
Publication Date: August 23rd, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 272 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Twelve years ago, for 12 days straight, the town of Widowsbury suffered a terrible storm, which tore open a gate through which escaped all sorts of foul, rotten things. Strange things and strange people were no longer welcomed in Widowsbury, for one could never be sure of what secrets waited under the surface . . .

Adelaide Foss, Maggie Borland, and Beatrice Alfred are known by their classmates at Widowsbury's Madame Gertrude's School for Girls as "scary children." Unfairly targeted because of their peculiarities—Adelaide has an uncanny resemblance to a werewolf, Maggie is abnormally strong, and Beatrice claims to be able to see ghosts—the girls spend a good deal of time isolated in the school's inhospitable library facing detention. But when a number of people mysteriously begin to disappear in Widowsbury, the girls work together, along with Steffen Weller, son of the cook at Rudyard School for Boys, to find out who is behind the abductions. Will they be able to save Widowsbury from a 12-year-old curse?"

This looks intriguing...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Nick Hornby

Fall of 2007 was the year I really started to hit the book signings hard. I was in Milwaukee every other weekend for a signing or an event of some kind. Seeing as I had just started going to school again, this was an eventful but utterly exhausting time. But when one of those events is Nick Hornby, you don't care how tired you are. Harry Schwartz books in Milwaukee had booked a huge hall at Alverno college for this ticketed event. A hall that would not be used. I called the bookstore in advance to see what the signing restrictions where, after that call I had a feeling that the ticketed event wasn't all that in demand when they desperately said, "Bring all your books, everything you have." I personally was excited for this. More books for me, yeah! But also, he was pitching a YA book about teenage pregnancy and you HAD to buy the book to attend. There are a lot of lax people out there who just don't get it should be mandatory that you buy the book, and this just made it the way life should be. So, attendance it would seem would be low. That and the cold and wet night probably didn't help.

My friend and I left Madison way later than intended (he forgot what time it was) and so instead of a luxurious dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, we where eating as fast as we could at a nearby food court, following which we almost missed the turnoff, got partially lost on the Alverno campus and almost hit Nick Hornby in the parking lot while he was out having a smoke. I don't think he noticed the almost vehicular manslaughter... at least he didn't give any indication that he did. So, we get there and are escorted from the huge theatre into this tiny little room, the kind you expect Christmas pageants to be played on, or small town pantos. There couldn't have been more than 30 people in the audience, but I was thrilled. I was in a uncomfortable wooden seat but enthralled by Nick talking about how he thought John Cusack was too pretty for High Fidelity, as was Hugh Grant for About a Boy, because he viewed his characters more like regular people like himself. He also went on to say how he was grieving missing his football games while stateside and had to hunt for pubs that broadcast them. Also, he was saying how much his coolness factor had risen since he knew Nicholas Holt, the "boy" in About a Boy before he became hugely popular in England, even getting him to narrate Slam, which is odd, because when I read the book I could hear the lead as Nicholas... and no, I wasn't listening to the tape and he doesn't reside in my head. Nick also was talking about how heartbreaking teenage pregnancy is in England, where young girls are getting pregnant on purpose because they think it will make life better.

After his talk my friend and I where front and center, head of the queue. I got to talk to Nick a little, oddly enough mainly about his short story collection that he edited, Speaking with the Angel. I had felt an instant connection to the book, one, because his short story is about the mockery of modern art and two, because on the front cover the little dolls they use to represent the people... well I HAD those dolls. I got to talk all about the set and he was interested (or at least very good at feigning interest). I remember that set so well, such detail, down to tiny forks and napkin rings. The set was Swedish and VERY 80s, with a sectional couch and a three story living room with sunroof that sadly got damaged by our air conditioner unit one year. I remember a went through two of the "teenage daughter" who represents Helen Fielding on the dust jacket because her head broke off. After that we used the facilities, very very small bathrooms, and headed back home, lots of great books to read and lots of great memories... even if none of them got to include Cheesecake.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Charlaine Harris

Back in the fall of 2006 when Charlaine Harris came to Madison to our little mystery themed bookstore she had not become THE NAME she is today. She was very popular for her mystery series, which sadly had only a few of the books remaining in print. Her Sookie books where finally starting to get noticed, with the previous three books making the leap from paperback to hardcover in an indication of the publishers faith in the series. She had also started a new series. The Harper Connelly series, which has taken a lot of criticism for the relationship between the two main characters, was instantly a favorite with me. The first book, Grave Sight, was a nice diversion from the writings of Harris I had previously read, more mystery, less supernatural sex. Plus, the spin the character of Harper puts on a "ghost whisperer" was intriguing. Instead of a sexually abused character who can read minds due to genetics, here we have a psychically handicapped girl who has the power to see the last minutes of the dead due to a lightning strike. Yes, it does sound a little silly, but the first book had me riveted, and when the second book came out I was first at the bookstore that day for the signing. Oddly enough the bookstore had not gotten their shipment of books so the store owners had to run across the street and buy out the stock and Borders. I was one of the few to get stock that wasn't from Borders. Yes, that was a random aside, but it's the odd details that stick with one that should be told.

Charlaine was exactly as she seems in interviews, a sweet Southern lady who really likes her gore. I found it interesting that the one thing she allows herself since her fame is that she can buy any book she wants, being a voracious reader. I totally would also adopt this if I where ever to become famous, but with the caveat, and the shelf space to store and display them. A lot of the talk was about her Aurora Teagarden and Lily Bard series, which I had not read (ie, see the note about them being out of print), but I did know who Lily Bard is because of her brief cameo in one of the Sookie books, which was repeated in the most recent installment. So, while fun to site and listen, I was at times a bit lost. But the signing was totally worth it, because when she was signing my books, all of which she personalized (!), I got to talk to her a bit about Sookie. I was saying how I found her books when in a desperate need for Vampire literature due to the end of Buffy, which is how I found out she was such a fan of Buffy. Although she likes the music to Angel far more, though she could never really get into it. I left the bookstore a happy girl clutching my books and went to pick up our new VCR/DVD player at Best Buy. The electronics have long since failed me, but this memory and those signed books are a possession I prize, especially as her signings are hundreds upon hundreds of people now versus the cozy little crowd gathered that fall day.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Review - Ernest Cline's Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Published by: Broadway Books
Publication Date: August 16th, 2011
Format: Paperback, 384 Pages
Rating: ★
To Buy

James Halliday is the creator of the OASIS. In all immersive MMO that allows everyone on Earth to escape the horrors of what has become of the world in the near future and go to school, party, or just explore and level their avatar. Halliday was the biggest geek there was and he wanted his passions to be your passions, and his main passion was the 1980s, the time when he was a teenager. When he died he left no heirs and created a treasure hunt within the OASIS to decide who would be worthy of being his successor. His Willy Wonka test was neigh on indecipherable with a little video he made which ended up being nicknamed Anorak's Invitation, after his Avatar, Anorak. Soon a culture of hunters, called gunters, form with the sole purpose of memorizing the minutiae of Halliday and the 80s and finding Halliday's fortune.

Wade Watts is a gunter with the handle Parzival. He has spent five years of his life learning everything there is to know about James Halliday. For five long years no one has made the least bit of headway with the quest until Parzival stumbles on the answer while sitting in his virtual classroom. Within hours two people have passed through the first of three gates that lead to Halliday's egg. It soon becomes clear to Parzival that this is going to end sooner then anyone thought, with more dangers then he could imagine. Now that the first hurtle is passed, it won't be long before things come to a head. While Parzival has troubles trusting the other gunters he's come to view as his friends, the real danger is IOI, a rival organization who wants to win the game, not to win, but to control the OASIS.

As many people have started their review with "this book was written just for my generation and me in particular," well, I figure, I will reiterate that sentiment. Yes, this book was written for me. I was born in 1978, so a little younger then Halliday, and Cline himself, but of the same generation, so to speak. I will not go on and then say that this book is just wonderful and marvelous and just spoke to me, because, well, it just didn't. You know, it actually kind of enrages me that this book is so well regarded and lauded. It isn't the book itself you can be in love with, it just can't be, with it's bland prose riddled with errors, and it's dry clinical writing style, making it almost like a history book, though written by someone with an ego who is very self impressed that they have all this knowledge at their fingertips.

You're in love with the memories this book evokes, the connection it forges using emotional cues from your past. You say "Pac-Man" and I'm a little kid again down at the Brat and Brau feeding quarters into their "Ms. Pac-Man" machine in the few spare minutes I had before the food arrived and my grandmother started piling the A-1 on her dinner. That dark and dingy little restaurant that had the cliched wooden panelling that my basement had and made the restaurant part rathskeller, part sports bar. Side note, I didn't need to read a whole chapter on every level of "Pac-Man" and how the final screen is only half there, I knew that, move on. Cline has taped into the zeitgeist of an era and has just info dumped on us, using touchstones like the Whedonverse to make little geeks and wannabes sqwee with joy. There is nothing that it makes me think of more then the episode of Community "Regional Holiday Music" which they did as a skewering of Glee. One of the songs, to entice Pierce to enter into the singing spirit, was called "Baby Boomer Santa." As Annie said in the episode "Pierce, they're just trying to pander to your demographics documented historical vanity. Resist!" The song is nothing more then a list of things that would appeal to Pierce, from Coca-Cola to The Beatles, Woodstock to Vietnam. This is what Ready Player One does! It just lists things from the 80s that we connect to from Galaga to WarGames and all the hipsters and 80s geeks and everyone is sucked in. To that I echo Annie Edison! RESIST!

This info dump mentality makes the book like the carrion of literature displaying the largest lack of imagination I have seen in a book. Ready Player One is part Willy Wonka, part Ender's Game with John Hughes doing the adaptation. I defy you to find something actually original in this book. All the humor and originality is directly lifted from other sources. Why is the final battle Parzival faces so funny? Because he's in Monty Python and the Holy Grail! The entire action, the entire everything is Monty Python's genius, NOT Ernest Cline's! This happens again and again throughout the book. And then there's Halliday and Morrow. Let's talk about James Halliday and Ogden Morrow, or as they really are, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Even if Cline hadn't laboriously pointed that the "fictitious characters" had been compared to these two real men, there is no grey area here. They are 100% these two men. Halliday even dies! Add to that the fact that Ready Player One goes into Phone Phreaking a lot, and Wozniak was part of this phenomenon, and they just get more and more similar. Then, in the, really, you really had to do that, bash my head against the wall, make me want to light the book on fire, there's the fact that the Wozniak character, Ogden, had the nickname Og, like Wozniak with Woz. Seriously? I mean seriously? It's not funny, it's a joke that is flat. Also, let's keep in mind that everyone knows that Woz is the one who was more, how shall I say, fun and relaxed of the two, so he wouldn't be litigious, even though he's spinning tunes as a DJ in a glass bubble before shooting lightning out of his fingers (yes, this seriously happens, and if it was me, I'd have my lawyer on speed dial). This is just degrading to me and in my mind to him, a man I very much admire. Sure he was on Dancing with the Stars, but you know what, he had a choice in that. I have a strong feeling, that while Halliday is never depicted negatively, if Jobs hadn't been on his deathbed, there might have been some serious legal action on this book.

If I where to just talk about Cline's writing, I would have to go back to the major flaw in this book in that Cline NEVER sticks to his own internal rules he has created. One minute there's never been a game like the WarGames simulation in the first gate, the next second Wade is on a date with Art3mis and they're in a Goonies rendition that is exactly like the simulation no one had ever thought of. When he's getting ready to clear the first gate, it's a Thursday night, clearly stated as Thursday, because he says he only has one more day of school before the weekend. Because of clearing the gate he sleeps through school, but then gets up bright and early the next day and goes to school... on a Saturday? Then the stupid Fyndoro whatever can only be used once in 24 hours, and then they use it like 6 hours later? Um, if you're going to phone in half your book by ripping other, better, people off, the least, the very very least you could do is get your own writing right. To step further away from all the things that are like or ripped off from other sources, let's talk about the part of the book that is Cline's. It's like he doesn't know what he wants his world to be. Is it dystopian, well yes, but then he drastically shifts away from this interesting study of the poor Wade and his living in "the stacks" and goes 180 and it becomes about this "affluent" kid that Wade has become, lured by the gadgets money has bought him. Which takes the soul out of the book. And then it just becomes the typical "Big Brother" story about a company trying to take control of the OASIS at any cost, deaths allowed. So, now the book is a thriller with corporate espionage? Really, Cline, you needed to keep a similar feel and a through line through this book. Instead you made Wade a douche and then I almost wanted the bad guys to win. And in the end, what was the moral? Stop playing games and get a real life? Because, Halliday just had these gunters waste SIX YEARS of their lives to learn that lesson. Douche Halliday. Also, you kind of made me never want to go near a computer again. And what fantasy world is this where a company would actually keep your information private, cause it's not ours? Now that is pure fiction.

To finalize what I refer to now as my ranty rant. There are just so many books and movies and music that Cline has mined, all of which are more original and better, so just go and give credit to the original, not the wannabe. Also, if you want something that actually captures the feeling I think Cline was aiming for, go read or watch Scott Pilgrim. As I read in another review among those fellow haters, I think Sissyneck on goodreads summed it up perfectly. "In a nice manifestation of the novel's lack of self-awareness, Cline at one point derides the villains of the book for simply using "Johnny 5" style robots from Short Circuit instead [of] coming up with their own design. This appropriation, he explains, demonstrates "a lack of imagination," a valid criticism that only too accurately applies to the ostensible heroes of the book, as well as to Cline himself." Right on Sissyneck! And here's a little Pierce Hawthrone to sing us out...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tuesday Tomorrow

Urban Fantasy by Peter S. Beagle et al
Published by: Tachyon Press
Publication Date: August 16th, 2011
Format: Paperback, 432 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Star-studded and comprehensive, this imaginative anthology brings a myriad of modern fantasy voices under one roof. Previously difficult for readers to discover in its new modes, urban fantasy is represented here in all three of its distinct styles—playful new mythologies, sexy paranormal romances, and gritty urban noir. Whether they feature tattooed demon-hunters, angst-ridden vampires, supernatural gumshoes, or pixelated pixies, these authors—including Patricia Briggs, Neil Gaiman, and Charles de Lint—mash-up traditional fare with pop culture, creating iconic characters, conflicted moralities, and complex settings. The result is starkly original fiction that has broad-based appeal and is immensely entertaining."

So, nothing really hit me as must buy this week, probably because the front end of August was so heavily weighted with awesome new releases. BUT there's this awesome anthology out, who could say no to Patricia Briggs, Neil Gaiman, Charles De Lint and others? I know I can't.

Friday, August 12, 2011

George R R Martin

This summer George R R Martin is back in the news for FINALLY writing the 5th installment of his epic of Westeros, A Song of Fire and Ice. I remember a day back in November of 2006 when he said, oh, six months tops... six long years later... but back to that day six years ago. So, freak that I am, I preordered the book from Amazon UK, because the book was coming out a few weeks earlier. I had it shipped to my friend Jess in New York because I was going to be visiting her at the time, plus, quicker to ship to New York than Wisconsin. I lugged that book from New York to DC and through Ohio. I read it on trains and buses and in cars. I read and read and read so that I would be ready for his talk when he came to Madison in November. Ironically, his talk was spoiler free, so, there goes all that planning for nothing, but at least I could say how much I loved the book right? So, on the day of the signing little did I know that they where handing out numbers starting at 8AM. In I walk for the 7PM talk around 5. Thinking, oh, this is great, I'll be all early and get a low number. Low number ha! First off, my friend who was going to go with me was sick, so I was on my lonesome. Then I had to pick up his book for him so that I could get MY book signed (I don't think he's ever paid me to this day). And then I realized, wow, no chairs. I stood in the B section of the YA books overlooking the podium. Good place as places go, but... no chair. I remember idly flipping through Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty. I think once Martin finally took the floor he did a reading, I really don't remember much of the talk. I remember him going into detail about how to correctly pronounce the characters names, but other than that... I seem to have completely blanked on everything else he said.

But, then again, I could have completely blanked because it was a short talk followed by hours of waiting. While not at the very end, I didn't get my book signed till at least 11PM. I spent my time studying a book called the GRE for Dummies because I was thinking of going back to Grad school to be an art appraiser and auctioneer for Christie's in New York and needed to take the GRE, which I did the next month. But Martin was very nice, he signed my book with the token "Enjoy the Feast" and it was commented on how I couldn't wait, hence the British edition. So, in the end, not the most fun of talks, but again, an author that has become even bigger and having a personalized book with a wait that is nothing compared to his current signings, it was a good day.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Christopher Golden

I met Christopher Golden at a Buffy convention back in 2003. Now, this was to be my first big convention far from home, and yes, the Catskills are far from home and I think technically trapped in a different area, like a seedier version of Somewhere in Time. It was a graduation present to myself (though as it turned out I didn't graduate till a year later, long story...) Since this time I have now gotten quite good at navigating cons to meet my favorite authors. I've also found it a great place to find and meet new authors. Of course, this being a Buffy con, I was going for the Buffy people; Giles, Warren, Tara, Clem and Spike. Christopher Golden is part of the extended Buffyverse, having written for the comics, tie-in novels and video games. I didn't know all this at the time. I had a Buffy book sitting on my shelf that he wrote that I threw into my suitcase and called it a day. I should have researched! If I had I would have realized he was the writer to my favorite video game EVER. The EA Buffy game, besides being full of awesome and win, got me through a tough time. I had taken a year off from school due to many deaths in the family, as well as a close friend. When school started back up I was completely overwhelmed. I had not only the current semesters classes, but all the classes I took an incomplete in the year before. The only escape I had was my Buffy game. I played it whenever I could and shoving a stake through a little electronic vamp was pure joy. In other words, this is a roundabout way of saying I wish I had got him to sign my game... even if the second game has my favorite line ever: "Zander Harris doesn't need doors. Zander Harris makes his own." Followed by an explosion.

Back to meeting Chris. So, the signing! I don't know which day of the con it was, but there was one time where everyone got to get in a long line trailing through the resort and wait to get their stuff signed. By this point I had realized how funny Chris is through his panels and his co-hosting the auction with "Clem." I had also made the video game connection by this point and was looking forward to getting a few seconds to say hi and how much I love his work. Anyway, they set Chris up next to Amber "Tara" Benson because they where doing this little awesome side project called Ghosts of Albion. No one seemed to want to talk to Chris seeing as he was being eclipsed by Amber. I wanted to talk to Chris, and because of the "Tara" backup, I got to talk to him more than I would have normally. We where talking about the video game and he mentioned that there was actually a glitch in the game in which the vampires overly repeated a certain phrase, to which we said in unison "there's only one of you and an endless supply of us." My friend Sara looked at me askance and to this day that memory brings a smile to my face. I'm sad the Chris didn't come to the next years con, he would have made it better. But still, he wished me monsters and it made my day.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Book Review - Kevin Wilson's The Family Fang

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
Published by: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: August 9th, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 309 Pages
Rating: ★
To Buy

"Buster had suggested fedoras and rumpled suits, unfiltered cigarettes, tie clips. Annie thought perhaps matching black suits and Lone Ranger masks, crushed-up amphetamines, manicured fingernails. Buster, it seemed, wanted to be a detective and Annie wanted to be a superhero. They finally agreed that they needed something that would not draw attention to them, understated but still uniform in some way. Buster donned a white dress shirt, the sleeves rolled up past his elbows, a pair of dark blue jeans, and black leather sneakers. Annie wore a white V-neck T-shirt, dark blue jeans, and black leather flats. On their wrists, they wore the kind of watches that scuba divers swear by, heavy and solid and waterproof, synchronized and precise. In their pockets, a heavy wad of cash, pens that were half the size of regular pens - for surreptitious note-taking - a handful of Red Hots to keep them sharp, and the address for Hobart Waxman, their best, their only, chance at finding their missing parents."

Caleb and Camille Fang have spent their life making art performed in a public sphere that takes people out of themselves. The art is in the act, in taking common people and shaking up their lives in some bizarre and strange new way. Whether it's a father on fire calmly walking through a mall cradling his infant son or their two children playing the leads in a school production of Romeo and Juliet to add additional meaning and a new dialogue to what Shakespeare wrote. Their children, Child A and Child B, Annie and Buster, have been integral to their success. But their children aren't grateful. Annie's movie career is unraveling and Buster's writing failed before it really had a chance to succeed. They both need to find a place to recover and lick their wounds. For some reason they decide to both go home. Their parents are glad of their return until they realize they aren't getting the band back together. This isn't some new performance, this is their children reaching out to them for the first time ever. So Caleb and Camille do what they think is natural. They disappear. But is it a new piece or did something really happen to them?
 
Wes Anderson captivated me in 1998 when I went to our local "art house" cinema at Westgate Mall and saw Rushmore. I remember after the movie my friend and I drove to several different stores in an attempt to find the soundtrack to the film which left an indelible impression on us. Two years later I fell even harder for The Royal Tenenbaums as I spent a late Sunday night watching the movie in a cold theater on little Christmas. Wes Anderson's storytelling and artistic sensibilities and aesthetic became a way of life for me. In fact my library is painted the same pink hue as the Tenenbaum residence. To find a book thought of as the spiritual successor to The Royal Tenenbaums and touted as the next big thing made me rush to the bookstore to pick up The Family Fang. As with many books I purchase it has spent some time languishing on my shelves waiting to be picked up.

This book had so much potential, and much like Child A and B just prior to their parent's disappearance, it was squandered and wasted. The book does one thing right, and that's parody the art world, everything else veers between schlocky predictability and trying too had to actually be Wes Anderson. It's like Wilson never even tries to find his own voice but is trying too hard to be everything other then what it is. And when he just apes Anderson, see the excerpt above that proves my point, it's a sad echo of true artistry. Also, I am not even going in depth on all the continuity errors that add to the half-baked nature of the book. But the fatal flaw in this book is that it is not a book for an empathetic person to read. I couldn't distance myself from the pain that Caleb and Camille inflicted on their children. I was unable to move past this to embrace the wry dark humor. In those last few pages I developed such anger towards the adult Fangs that I could not contain it. I literally had to set the book down and walk away for awhile. How could anyone be so cruel and callous?

The fault with the Fangs, Caleb and Camille, is that they are shallow and cold-hearted people. They have long believed that children ruin art and while you'd think this attitude changed with how they incorporated their children into their art, you'd be wrong. Their children are nothing more or less to them then living props. They are their possessions. Extra ironic because so many of their pieces were staged in malls, the home of those who worship consumerism and possessiveness. When Annie is born Caleb only sees her as the destruction of his career until he is able to turn her to his advantage with "A Christmas Carol: 1977." When one of their performances with an infant Buster is described wherein Caleb is on fire walking with Buster in his arms I couldn't help think of Brian Eno's song "Baby's On Fire." The lyrics I think are more then apt for this book:

"Photographers snip snap
Take your time, she's only burning
This kind of experience
Is necessary for her learning"

The baby in that song is reduced to ash and Caleb and Camille are the idiots in the song who don't even see the damage they are doing to the baby, or in this case, their own offspring. And if they did I doubt they'd care. They never think of their children's emotions or well being, even willing to force incestuous situations in order to help their art. Then their children return to them broken and in need of help and what do they do? They leave them. Their children left their lives the day they decided that they didn't want to participate anymore so why help them? They just up and disappear. And to disappear in such a manner? It makes it even harder for Annie and Buster because they know it's a trick but their parents are too clever by half. The reveal at the end. That is where my anger stems from. To see what their parents never let them have, never gave them, to see everything is just art and their is no love there. Heartbreaking.

This emotional reveal would have had even more impact if the characters of Annie and Buster had been more then cookie cutter characters in the "present" scenes. They, quite literally, are just Child A and Child B, nothing more then simple simulacra of real children. You develop an affinity for Buster as the sad sack who really took the brunt of the performances as a child, but only within the context of the performance art. In the present he's very flat and one dimensional as a failed author. But nothing can compare to Annie. She's like a stereotypical failed actress. Lindsay Lohan at the beginning of her fall. Annie leaves her boyfriend, who is Eli Cash from The Royal Tenenbaums, she poses nude, sleeps with a few of the wrong sort of people and experiments with lesbianism before taking to drinking and going home. OK, there's nothing there that gives me depth or makes me care. Horrid parents with cardboard children, yeah, this is so a book I want to read again.

Yet for all the many wrongs this book inflicted on me I have to say Kevin Wilson knows how to parody the art world. I had to take two classes in undergrad that were entirely focused on modern and post modern artists. Performers from William Wegman to Chris Burden. I've never really been a fan of this type of art. There are those artists who fit within these categories who have actual talent, but by and large they are poseurs, much like my teacher for the class, who went in for shallow sensation and reveling in their own genius. Caleb and Camille Fang fit PERFECTLY into this group. Their work is exactly the type of sensation that would have been taught in this class and made my teacher drone on and on about their genius. If The Family Fang had stuck to these vignettes and was made more out of the performances then the dissolution of a family I think it could have been brilliant. This though isn't brilliant.

But the book did make me think more about post modern performance art. In it's way I think this book could be qualified as post modern, deconstructing the novel and rebuilding it in a way that doesn't work but comments on society. Back to performance art though. The type of "happenings" that the Fangs staged, especially the one where they shot their professor, couldn't survive in today's culture. These acts in a post 9-11 world would be viewed as too incendiary by the world at large. Yes, Caleb and Camille would love being labelled as terrorists, but the art itself, it just wouldn't work. They would be viewed as a threat and in this vigilant society I don't think they could ever get to the point of the art happening without being stopped. Perhaps that's the real reason they disappear. It's not that they can't do their art without their children, it's that the place in the world where they and their art fit no longer exists and they have become superfluous, much like this entire book.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tuesday Tomorrow

The Magician King by Lev Grossman
Published by: Viking
Publication Date: August 9th, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 416 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"The Magicians was praised as a triumph by readers and critics of both mainstream and fantasy literature. Now Grossman takes us back to Fillory, where the Brakebills graduates have fled the sorrows of the mundane world, only to face terrifying new challenges.

Quentin and his friends are now the kings and queens of Fillory, but the days and nights of royal luxury are starting to pall. After a morning hunt takes a sinister turn, Quentin and his old friend Julia charter a magical sailing ship and set out on an errand to the wild outer reaches of their kingdom. Their pleasure cruise becomes an adventure when the two are unceremoniously dumped back into the last place Quentin ever wants to see: his parent's house in Chesterton, Massachusetts. And only the black, twisted magic that Julia learned on the streets can save them.

The Magician King is a grand voyage into the dark, glittering heart of magic, an epic quest for the Harry Potter generation. It also introduces a powerful new voice, that of Julia, whose angry genius is thrilling. Once again Grossman proves that he is the modern heir to C.S. Lewis, and the cutting edge of literary fantasy."

Everybody keeps telling me how awesome the first book, The Magicians was... perhaps now is the time to see.

Ingenue by Jillian Larkin
Published by: Delacorte
Publication Date: August 9th, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Bobbed hair. Short skirts. Cool jazz. Dark speakeasy. Anything goes. Meet the flappers, Gloria, Clara, Lorraine . . . and the rich young boys who love and loathe them."

I have been desperately craving some 1920s... I think this might hit the spot.

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
Published by: Ecco
Publication Date: August 9th, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"For outrĂ© performance artists, Caleb and Camille Fang, everything in life is secondary to art, including their children. Annie and Buster (popularly known as Child A. and Child B.) are the unwilling stars of their parents’ chaotically subversive work. Art is truly a family affair for the Fangs. Years later, their lives in disarray, Annie and Buster reluctantly return home in search of sanctuary—only to be caught up in one last performance. The Family Fang sparkles with Kevin Wilson’s inventive dialogue and wonderfully rendered set-pieces that capture the surreal charm of the Fang’s most notable work. With this brilliant novel, the family Fang is destined to join the families Tenenbaum and Bluth as paragons of high dysfunction."

As soon as I read the discription, before seeing other people's comparisons, I instantly thought, The Royal Tennenbaums. The correlation alone means I'll pick it up, damn I love that movie.

Two for Sorrow by Nicola Upson
Published by: Harper
Publication Date: August 9th, 2011
Format: Paperback, 496 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"They were the most horrific crimes of a new century: the murders of newborn innocents for which two British women were hanged at Holloway Prison in1903. Decades later, mystery writer Josephine Tey has decided to write a novel based on Amelia Sach and Annie Walters, the notorious “Finchley baby farmers,” unaware that her research will entangle her in the desperate hunt for a modern-day killer.

A young seamstress—an ex-convict determined to reform—has been found brutally slain in the studio of Tey’s friends, the Motley sisters, amid preparations for a star-studded charity gala. Despite initial appearances, Inspector Archie Penrose is not convinced this murder is the result of a long-standing domestic feud—and a horrific accident involving a second young woman soon after supports his convictions. Now he and his friend Josephine must unmask a sadistic killer before more blood flows—as the repercussions of unthinkable crimes of the past reach out to destroy those left behind long after justice has been served."

I was recently recommended this mystery series surrounding the mystery writer Josephine Tey by a very reliable source, the writer Michael Norman. I recently picked up the first and am glad to see that I have more to look forward to.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Norman Juster

With my parents owning a publishing company, as a kid I was dragged to many a book signing. Mainly for books I would never read or want too, especially when I was 10. I do remember being excited about a book of cows, but that's the only one that sticks out, plus I just sold it the other day. There are pictures of me at signings, usually just my hand, because my brother being littler was always being carried so I had a tendency to be cropped out, as it where. The first talk/signing I can remember choosing to go to was Norman Juster. If I where to base my experience on this talk, I would probably never have gone to another. No two book signings are alike, and you really need to keep this in mind. Even the same author can give different levels of performance at different locations. Author tours are grueling, a new city everyday and having to (hopefully) perform in front of a large number of people is draining, as is the jet lag.

So, back to Norman Juster. Back in the 90s (yes, it was that long ago), Norman went on a book tour to celebrate the 35th anniversary of his seminal children's classic, The Phantom Tollbooth. The year being 1996, I had yet to have a drivers license and therefore had to rely on others, ie the parents, for transport. This is really where things went wrong. Later, after certain lessons where learned, I would always arrive early and not be worried about being the first person to step up to the signing line. As it happened, we arrived well before Norman talked, just not early enough to get a seat, or even get a clear view of him. This was at our original Borders, the one I have fond memories of before they decided to get two stories instead of the one and then promptly went out of business. Problem was, the didn't have a speaking/signing area. He was jammed up against the windows between history and the beginning of fiction. I was on the other side of a wall in the children's section with it's garish clown theme trying to listen to the crackly intercom that was attempting to broadcast his reading.

At this point I should mention that my ride, ie mother, had some school party she had to go to, so I was also hoping that the reading wouldn't go on long, otherwise I would not get my book signed. These where also the barter days. I had a very elaborate barter system in place, instead of cash, I found people where more likely to pay up if it was something cheaper (in their eyes) than cash. I'd do house chores for Red Dwarf tapes, and I was able to get the 35th Anniversary copy of The Phantom Tollbooth by giving my old copy to my mom's library at the school I used to go to. So, score for me, new copy, hardcover, and signed... but at the rate the event was going, I was worried the signed part wasn't going to happen. It did happen, just not with me there. Before he had even finished reading it was time to depart, and I was really sad, but also, pretty pissed. Here's this author talking all about his world and how much he loves The Wizard of Oz, as did I, and where was I? Getting in a car to be dropped off at home. As luck would have it, my mother knew one of the eager children whose parents didn't have to depart early for cake, so he got me the signature. So, I have the book, but I didn't really have the best experience... it was an experience, I'll grant you that, just not the one I was hoping for. The next year I entered undergrad and my life as I knew it was gone... or should I say my free time? I quite literally did not go to another book signing till the year I graduated, but those stories are yet to come.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Author August

Now, I really really wanted to do Hitchcock Hoot'nanny, Revenge of the Owls (ok, that title is too weird, but I was thinking, "hoot" and Birds, and that's where it went). But I kind of got drawn back into Westeros (aka George R. R. Martin land), and there I am. I haven't read the books in the six long and painful years I have been waiting... so a re-read is necessary to make A Dance with Dragons a joy verses a puzzle. I know you all know what I'm talking about, just trying to remember what happened to whom and when, sometimes the book becomes a hassle versus a joy, especially with the sheer number of characters Martin juggles. Well, to make a long story short (too late) I have not done the requisite reading of books that Hitchcock based his movies on, again, GRRM, each book is about 1000 pages, easy to see why (plus I've been interviewing for some internships and working on my resume and portfolio). So, I had another idea I've been kicking around. Now don't worry, Hitchcock will return when the time is right, ie, when I've read the books, but now it's time to unleash my newest idea.

Author August! I try to go to as many book signings as I can, especially if it's for an author that I love. But with the internet and the publishing industry in dire straits, just look to Borders, one day, the book tour of old might be gone. I will weep bitter bitter tears if this comes to pass. Some of my happiest memories are from my brief interactions with authors at these events. So this month is devoted to author events I have been to. Hopefully it will shine a light on why I love these authors and how you should immediately run out and buy all their books. But I also hope that, even if it's just me shouting into the void, I will show the few people who read this that I love this aspect of publishing. I love my Kindle, but if I had to choose, it would be a real tangible book that an author can sign. So never ever stop the author tour! Even if all Brick and Mortar stores are gone, there are festivals and coffee shops a plenty. I'm sure we will never be so desperate as to get ride of the coffee shops?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tuesday Tomorrow

Downpour by Kat Richardson
Published by: ROC
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Harper Blaine is on the mend, but evil never rests-in the latest novel from the national bestselling author of Labyrinth.

After being shot in the back and dying-again- Greywalker Harper Blaine's only respite from the chaos is her work. But while conducting a pre-trial investigation in the Olympic Peninsula, she sees a ghostly car accident whose victim insists that he was murdered and that the nearby community of Sunset Lakes is to blame.

Harper soon learns that the icy waters of the lake hide a terrible power, and a host of hellish beings under the thrall of a sinister cabal that will use the darkest of arts to achieve their fiendish ends... "

A series in the same genre of Patricia Briggs' Mercy that I have been meaning to read and I can't wait to immerse myself in!

The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly
Published by: Hyperion
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 640 Pages
To BuyThe Wild Rose
The official patter:
"The Wild Rose is a part of the sweeping, multi-generational saga that began with The Tea Rose and continued with The Winter Rose. It is London, 1914. World War I looms on the horizon, women are fighting for the right to vote, and explorers are pushing the limits of endurance in the most forbidding corners of the earth. Into this volatile time, Jennifer Donnelly places her vivid and memorable characters:

--Willa Alden, a passionate mountain climber who lost her leg while summiting Kilimanjaro with Seamus Finnegan, and who will never forgive him for saving her life;

--Seamus Finnegan, a polar explorer who tries to forget Willa as he marries a beautiful young schoolteacher back home in England

--Max von Brandt, a handsome German sophisticate who courts high society women, but has a secret agenda in wartime London.

Many other beloved characters from The Winter Rose continue their adventures in The Wild Rose as well. With myriad twists and turns, thrilling cliffhangers, and fabulous period detail and atmosphere, The Wild Rose provides a highly satisfying conclusion to an unforgettable trilogy."

Here's a book that's part of a trilogy otherwise known as, books that are so big, must read electronically to not break my back.

Circle of Fire by Michelle Zink
Published by: Little Brown
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"With time dwindling but her will to end the Prophecy stronger than ever, Lia sets out on a journey to find the remaining keys, locate the missing pages of the Prophecy, and convince her sister Alice to help--or risk her life trying. Lia has her beloved Dimitri by her side, but Alice has James, the man who once loved her sister--and maybe still does. James doesn't know the truth about either sister, or the prophecy that divides them. And Alice intends to keep it that way.

There are some secrets sisters aren't meant to share. Because when they do, it destroys them. This stunning conclusion to Michelle Zink's Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy will make saying good-bye bittersweet for readers."

Another book in a series I've been meaning to read... you know, sometimes Tuesday Tomorrow just makes me realize just HOW MANY books I have on my TBR pile. Sigh.

Across the Great Barrier by Patricia C, Wrede
Published by: Scholastic
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Eff is an unlucky thirteenth child - her twin brother, Lan, is a powerful seventh son of a seventh son. And yet, Eff is the one who saved the day for the settlements west of the Great Barrier. Her unique ways of doing magic and seeing the world, and her fascination with the magical creatures and land in the Great Plains push Eff to work toward joining an expedition heading west. But things are changing on the frontier.

There are new professors of magic for Eff and Lan to learn to work with. There's tension between William and his father. And there are new threats on the frontier and at home. To help, Eff must travel beyond the Barrier, and come to terms with her magical abilities--and those of her brother, to stop the newest threat encroaching on the settlers.

With wit, magic, and a touch of good pioneer sense, Patricia C. Wrede weaves a fantastic tale of the very wild west."

The second book in the Frontier Magic series is finally here... seems like it's been a long wait, probably because it has. Also, not liking the new photocover... I like the graphic simplicity of the first cover.

Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough
Published by: Clarion
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 288 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Since the gripping conclusion of Once a Witch, Tamsin Greene has been haunted by her grandmother’s prophecy that she will soon be forced to make a crucial decision—one so terrible that it could harm her family forever. When she discovers that her enemy, Alistair Knight, went back in time to Victorian-era New York in order to destroy her family, Tamsin is forced to follow him into the past. Stranded all alone in the nineteenth century, Tamsin soon finds herself disguised as a lady’s maid in the terrifying mansion of the evil Knight family, avoiding the watchful eye of the vicious matron, La Spider, and fending off the advances of Liam Knight. As time runs out, both families square off in a thrilling display of magic. And to her horror, Tamsin finally understands the nature of her fateful choice."

Sigh, more books I want to read... damn August is turning out to be a busy book month.

Home Improvement: Undead Edition by Charlaine Harris et al
Published by: Ace
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"The editors of the New York Times bestselling Death's Excellent Vacation bring home a new collection...with a never-before- published Sookie Stackhouse story!

There's nothing like home renovation for finding skeletons in the closet or otherwordly portals in the attic. Now, for any homeowner who's ever wondered, "What's that creaking sound?" or fans of "how to" television who'd like a little unreality mixed in with their reality shows, editors Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner return with an all-new collection of the paranormal perils of Do-It-Yourself.

Sookie Stackhouse resides in these pages, in a never-before-published story by #1 New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris. And New York Times bestselling authors Patricia Briggs, James Grady, Heather Graham, Melissa Marr, and nine other outstanding writers have constructed more frightening and funny fixer-upper tales guaranteed to shake foundations and rattle readers' pipes."

Another Sookie Short story which I will shell out the money for and will probably be crap... when will I ever learn? At least there's a Patricia Briggs story!

Eye of the Tempest by Nicole Peeler
Published by: Orbit
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2011
Format: Paperback, 352 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Nothing says "home" like being attacked by humans with very large guns, as Jane and Anyan discover when they arrive in Rockabill. These are professionals, brought into kill, and they bring Anyan down before either Jane or the barghest can react. Seeing Anyan fall awakens a terrible power within Jane, and she nearly destroys herself taking out their attackers.

Jane wakes, weeks later, to discover that she's not the only thing that's been stirring. Something underneath Rockabill is coming to life: something ancient, something powerful, and something that just might destroy the world.

Jane and her friends must act, striking out on a quest that only Jane can finish. For whatever lurks beneath the Old Sow must be stopped...and Jane's just the halfling for the job."

The new Jane True book, which I already have thanks to Borders liquidation! Yeah, I'm sad they're going, but look, cheap books!

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