30 Aug

KU’s Book Bites: The Book of Lost Things


Plus look at this excel­lent cov­er design! Yes, please.

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.

8 Jun

KU’s Book Bites: Soon I Will Be Invincible


Sweet hel­met, bro.

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?

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4 Jun

KU’s Book Bites: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

miss p book cover with border

I think the cov­er real­ly says it all…

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.

*We’re car­ry­ing the sequel, Hol­low City as well!
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16 Apr

Cool Stuff Tuesday! Books!

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

maze runner

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.

5 Mar

KU’s Book Bites: Written in Red


Back­ground wolves are the best wolves…

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.

24 Oct

Celebrate National Pizza Month!

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.

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31 Dec

I Want My Hat Back
by John Klassen

*Brendan’s Pick*

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!”

31 Dec

The Wind in the Willows
by Kenneth Grahame

*Henry’s Pick*

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.
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