The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
I’ve been on a fairy tale kick recently, but a lot of the “retellings” you find lying around these days aren’t half as clever as they think they are. That being said, The Book of Lost Things is PERFECT in every way. Sure, Connolly recycles some old material here, like the story of Snow White and a few others, but it’s not because he’s lazy; he’s trying to have some fun with the traditional fairy tale. And it works. Besides being fun, The Book of Lost Things is incredibly sad. Nearly every character in this book has been touched by some sort of tragedy (and you’ll get to read all about it.) But that’s pretty much the entire point of this novel: people grow old, they die, bad things happen to them. And yet there’s so much beauty and joy and happiness to look forward to once we reach adulthood. In other words, you can’t stay young forever and WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO, YA CRAZIES?! I’d definitely recommend this book to any ‘Peter Pan’ lovers. It might change your mind.
Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman
“What do you do when you find out your heart is the wrong kind?” asks the super-villain of this story, Dr. Impossible. This comic book turned literary fiction answers this question through the alternating perspectives of super villain and superhero. I am so excited about this book I can’t stand it, I am in full nerd mode already searching out the author online hoping he will be my friend. The development of each character is stunning not only in substance but also timing; the unbelievably rich origin stories of each hero/villain unfold themselves suddenly and unexpectedly-and they’re AWESOME! One minute you’re immersed in an epic battle and the next you’re learning about what Dr Impossible was like in high school, that his name was Jonathan, that you knew a guy like him, and that maybe things would have been different if he got the girl. But now, he’s fighting off a potbelly and living in a motel, planning his next scheme to conquer the world on his 12th attempt. It’s got other dimensions, time travel, aliens, armies of algae and fungus-what else could you possibly ask for?
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Bizarre, macabre, and absolutely fabulous, Miss Peregrine reads like a picture book for dark-minded adults. Sprinkled throughout the story’s pages is a series of weirdly wonderful sepia-toned photos, all of which – the author claims – are genuine images he collected after countless trips to flea markets and rummage sales across the country. The photos, arranged in groups of twos or threes, coincide with character descriptions in the text and are meant, I suppose, to spark the reader’s imagination – but honestly, Riggs’ writing is so richly descriptive, you’ll hardly need any help envisioning the odd world he’s created for us in Miss Peregrine. This’ll be a hit with fans of Gaiman or Gorey, or really anyone who can appreciate a good ghost story.
In the spirit of National Library Week, here are a couple books reviews to whet your literary appetite. Enjoy!
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
In The Maze Runner, a group of boys living in a gigantic stone labyrinth struggles to understand the reason for their imprisonment and search for the maze’s exit, a job that’s made harder by a collective amnesia that causes the boys to distrust each other and an indescribable danger lurking somewhere behind the maze’s walls. Compulsively readable, Dashner’s series deals much more in mystery than other dystopian novels for young adults, and there’s a creepiness found throughout The Maze Runner that really separates it from the crowd. For fans of the genre, this is a must-read.
Divergent by Veronica Roth
One of the most popular dystopian series out right now – and for good reason! Divergent takes place in post-apocalyptic Chicago, where the city’s inhabitants are divided into five factions – based on personal attributes like strength and bravery, intelligence, and selflessness – and discouraged from associating with each other. This book has an interesting premise and fantastic characters, both of which you’ll learn much more about the further you fall into the story. While critics seem eager to compare it to The Hunger Games trilogy, Divergent goes far beyond your typical dystopian storyline, exploring that fine line between order and chaos and encouraging its readers to re-examine what it means to be loyal, to be obedient. To be truly afraid.
Written In Red by Anne Bishop
Okay if you know me, you are probably aware that I enjoy Anne Bishop. Her “Black Jewels” books obsessed me for a REALLY long time. And kinda still do, I’m not going to lie. I spent a surprising amount of time a few nights ago trolling the interwebz for earrings that reflect “the power of my red jewels”. (my birthright jewel is green, but I descended to red when I made my Offering to the Darkness. That’s right, I’m nerdy!)
Even if you aren’t a huge fantasy nerd, who loves Anne Bishop and her world building ways, I still recommend reading Written in Red. Rather than a guilty pleasure, WiR is an actual pleasure. I’m not sure if it was marketed to YA, or adult audiences, but it is suitable for both. (i.e. no sex. Although I have hopes somebody will be “gettin’ some” in the next book, as WiR is part of a planned series)
I found this book to be THRILLING! The perfect mix of “alternate reality” re-imagined earth, mythology, and romance. As soon as I finished reading it, I read it again. And many more times since then. I made all my friends read it. My copy is covered in hand cream, wine stains, and tears, the spine bent open in certain exhilarating places. Good thing I own a bookstore, because I’m going to need another copy.
Obviously every month is pizza month, but October is Pizza Month with capital letters! In America we consume 100 acres of pizza a day, or 350 slices every second! Pizza also makes the Ninja Turtles possible. There are over 63,000 pizzerias in America, but most of them make a product that can barely be called pizza, and satisfies no pizza cravings whatsoever. The solution, of course, is to make your own pizza at home, and the best way to get this done is to follow the instructions in Jim Lahey’s incredible book My Pizza.
Lahey’s book My Bread, along with Chad Robertson’s Tartine Bread, changed the way we bake bread at home. And what is pizza but flat bread with toppings? Everybody knows that a great pizza relies almost entirely on the crust. Anybody can throw delicious cheese and toppings on a pizza crust, but a spectacular pizza requires a spectacular crust. In My Pizza, Jim Lahey gives you great instructions on how to achieve that at home, with whatever type of oven you may have. He uses the no-knead method that made his bread book famous, so although it requires a lot of time to rest, the recipe couldn’t be easier and requires almost no work on your part. Once you have the crust figured out you are set, and you can move on to explore all the different pies, sauces, and toppings, as well as some accompaniments and desserts. The recipes are clear and delicious, and accompanies by great photographs of foods and techniques. If you have been searching for the best pizzeria in town then you have found it, and you live there.
“I Want My Hat Back, by Jon Klassen, is the best children’s book of all time. It will be the first, and perhaps only book that my children read. It will teach them all the things they need to know: your hat is liable to skip town if you don’t keep track of it, bears are very polite, rabbits are untrustworthy, and turtles can usually use a hand. This book has never failed to make me laugh, and I doubt it will fail you. It’s gold, Jerry, gold!”
I was going to write a review of this, but I found this quote by Christoper Robin Milne (a.k.a. Christopher Robin). I have always seen similarities between The Wind in the Willows and Winnie the Pooh. Both are stories about animals mucking about in a semi-fantastic world, having adventures, but really just getting into and out of trouble with their animal friends.
- A book that we all greatly loved and admired and read aloud or alone, over and over and over: The Wind in the Willows. This book is, in a way, two separate books put into one. There are, on the one hand, those chapters concerned with the adventures of Toad; and on the other hand there are those chapters that explore human emotions – the emotions of fear, nostalgia, awe, wanderlust. My mother was drawn to the second group, of which “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” was her favourite, read to me again and again with always, towards the end, the catch in the voice and the long pause to find her handkerchief and blow her nose. My father, on his side, was so captivated by the first group that he turned these chapters into the children’s play, Toad of Toad Hall. In this play one emotion only is allowed to creep in: nostalgia.