And, for a really happy holiday read (<--sarcasm alert), you can snag Anna Perera's Guantanamo Boy.
Additionally, there's a bunch of the Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul books and some Jean Craighead George. Basically, it's the weirdest collection of sale books ever.
Oh, hey, and there's some Wrede in the grown-up SF section as well. As well as a bunch of Octavia Butler. And some novels by William Shatner. Heh heh heh. Oh, and some Elizabeth Hand and Datlow/Windling collections in the grown-up fantasy category.
AND A TON OF DOROTHY SAYERS IN THE MYSTERIES. If I didn't already own multiples of all of her stuff, I'd be in real trouble there. Anne Perry, Carl Hiassen, Donald Westlake and Lawrence Block, too.
The mystery at the heart of Burning Blue is this: a beautiful, brilliant, popular, genuinely nice girl gets a faceful of acid from a sports bottle-wielding assailant. But no one got a look at Nicole Castro’s attacker, and with a suspect list that includes both everyone (because her various perfections are so jealousy-inducing) and no one (because she’s so nice), the police investigation stalls out. Enter Jameson “Jay” Navarro, quiet hacker-about-town.
Just like Jeanne Ryan’s Nerve, Flash Point explores the lengths people will go—how much they will endure, how many lines they will cross, how much they’ll be willing to bend their own personal code—to get what they want. Flash Point, though, shoots higher: in contrast to the more simplistic, plot-driven Nerve, Kress focuses more on the personalities involved and on the moral and emotional complexities of the situation.
When Joy Delamere first meets Asher Valen, handsome billionaire's son, she is dazzled by his intelligence, looks, and intensity.
Less than a year later, she stages her own kidnapping in order to escape him. She ends up living with and among the street kids of Seattle, all of whom, like herself, are running from someone or something. But, even though they all have one thing in common—running—not everyone on the street is trustworthy or safe... and there are those who have no reservations whatsoever about preying upon each other.
In time, Joy—who now goes by Triste—begins to find her footing in this new life. But abandoning one's past isn't always possible, especially when that past doesn't want to be left behind...
Abusive relationships. Guilt. Homelessness. Runaways. Drug addiction. Prostitution. Sexual assault. Power dynamics. Don't Breathe a Word has it all, so if you're looking for a light, boppy story about first love and kittens, this isn't it.
While the story starts with Joy making the much-needed break from Asher, there are lots of flashbacks about their relationship. And as it's much easier to see a dysfunctional, emotionally and psychologically abusive relationship for what it is when you're on the outside of it, many readers may be frustrated with Joy's inertia in the earlier days of their romance. If you set aside the desire to do any backseat-driving, though, the push-pull of Joy's internal and external navigation of that relationship will feel honest and true:
This was the beginning of my dance with fire—the heat, the burning, the pleasure of him going deep into me, trying me, testing me, pulling and pushing and molding and shaping me into the other half of him, distant and cold in some moments and shocking me with his force at others. And just when I was finished, tired of being pushed away and then reeled back into the sheer consumptions of it, he would do something so amazingly tender that I would forget what made me want to leave him. Because there, at his apartment, in his car, in his arms, we were two, only two, and I was the most important thing in his universe—not the girl crushed by her parents' constant worry but the center of someone's passion.
Her integration into street culture will likely strain credulity—although she certainly deals with hunger and some dicey situations, she ultimately lucks out by falling in with Creed, a sensitive guy with a hero-complex who just-so-happens to also be on the run from his economically privileged background. If you get past that, though, the fascinating details about the life, language, and culture of the street kids, the compelling plotting, and the parallels of Joy's suffocating influences—her life-threatening asthma and, of course, Asher himself—all meld together into a thoughtful page-turner.
Josh and I just got home from a big Thanksgiving feast at my aunt & uncle's house. Which was loud and hot and fun and as entertaining as ever. And, hilariously, the "adults" still switch into French when they want to say anything that they don't want us "kids" to hear.
So now that we're all settled in for the evening, pajamas on, woodstove cranking, and cats calm(ish), here are a few of the things I gave thanks for today:
Josh, who is my best friend and my favorite person, my compatriot in snark, fellow aficionado of costume dramas, board games and jigsaw puzzles; who teases me about the ever-growing piles of books, but is always willing to read something if I think he'll like it; who is always the first person I call when I have anything of importance—or, for that matter, anything utterly trivial—to communicate.
My sister, who is just as contrary and stubborn as I am, but in a good way, and who is also one of the smartest, most passionate, most entertaining people that I know.
My parents, from whom I picked up my love of fiber arts and movies, music and food. They read to me every night when I was little, and they're very definitely the reason I was reading at age two.
That I got to see Collomia before she moved back to the Alaskan wilderness.
That I reconnected with Adam a full decade after losing touch, and that it happened completely randomly while I was in NYC for...
...this year's Kidlitcon, at which I finally connected—in person—with people I'd known online and admired for years (as well as meeting many others for the first time). I really don't know how to express how grateful I was (and am) for being so warmly welcomed into the fold with such camaraderie and love and humor.
The onlinekidlit community: you are my kindred spirits and bosom friends, and I am better for knowing you.
The unbelievably beyond-any-imaginings hostessing talents of Amanda.
My fellow Mainers, who voted in favor of equality earlier this month.
The various and ever-hilarious dramas at my workplace, my dynamo of a library director and my officemate, who is both my polar opposite and my comrade-in-arms.
Our little house, our idiot cats and cranky dog, the never-ending piles of books, our evenings of good beer and bad tv.
This is rapidly becoming My Week That Never Happened (at least online), so I'm just popping in to post these two videos, which are vaguely NSFW. Also, as they're by the Read it and Weep crew, if you're a big fan of the Twilight series... well, you might want to just skip right past this post:
The fairy tale is in a perpetual state of becoming and alteration. To keep to one version or one translation alone is to put a robin redbreast in a cage. If you, the reader, want to tell any of the tales in this book, I hope you will feel free to be no more faithful than you want to be. You are at perfect liberty to invent other details than the ones I've passed on, or invented, here. If fact, you're not only at liberty to do so: you have a positive duty to make the story your own. A fairy tale is not a text.
First off, the introduction? Made me want to read not only every single version of the Grimm stories, but every single version of the the Arabian Nights, and folklore from all kinds of different traditions (like Russian and Japanese and Italian). To hit up Greek and Roman and Norse and Hindu and Islamic mythology, to re-read the Andersen stories and Uncle Remus and Aesop, and I dunno, TO READ EVERYTHING.
So, I know that Philip Pullman was all about how fairy tales aren't about the psychology of the characters and whatnot in the introduction, but CAN I JUST SAY THAT I HAVE ALWAYS HATED THE PRINCESS IN THE FROG PRINCE/KING? She is the worst. "Oh, yes, little frog, just do me this favor and I swear I'll be so nice to you! OH, WAIT. I'M A LYING LIAR D-BAG."
Anyway. She's awful. And I don't know why the Frog King would want to marry her after she was such a jerk. But, you know: no psychology. So, moving on.
Faithful Heinrich! He was the king's servant who was so devastated about the whole frog thing that he went to the blacksmith and had three iron bands put around his heart to keep it from bursting from the grief. And then, when they were reunited, they burst because "...iron is stronger than grief. But love is stronger than iron..." Cue the awwwws.
Anyway, I don't know why Faithful Heinrich is so often excised from the story, because he's clearly the best part of it.
Chapter Three In which Pip has a run in with a DIFFERENT convict.
It's a very misty morning, and as Pip runs to meet the dreadful man, he is hilariously terrorized by farm animals and his own guilt about stealing the pork pie.
This is an absolutely perfect description of traveling through thick fog: "The mist was heavier yet when I got out upon the marshes, so that instead of my running at everything, everything seemed to run at me."
He finds the man, taps him on the shoulder to offer up the food, AND REALIZES THAT HE'S TAPPED THE SHOULDER OF A DIFFERENT MAN IN COARSE GREY CLOTHING WEARING A LEG IRON! WHO THEN RUNS AWAY. ZOUNDS.
He realizes that it must have been the dreadful young man, and responds to that knowledge thusly: "...feeling my heart shoot as I identified him. I dare say I should have felt a pain in my liver, too, if I had known where it was." That line makes me feel that Pip, in a lot of ways, is a precursor to a lot of our favorite YA male protagonists.
But then he finds the RIGHT dreadful man and hands over his ill-gotten gains. Love this bit about the man eating: "...handing mincemeat down his throat in the most curious manner,— more like a man who was putting it away somewhere in a violent hurry, than a man who was eating it..."
All things considered, the dreadful man—or "wretched warmint", as he refers to himself—doesn't seem so dreadful after all. Just cold and hungry and sick and desperate. And possibly a murderer, but we'll see. Maybe he was just a forger or something!
Heh. When Pip mentions seeing the other man, Our Possibly Semi-Nice Convict is very surprised—which is very odd, considering his threats about the dreadful young man in the first chapter... could he POSSIBLY HAVE BEEN LYING???—but mostly I'm mentioning this part of the conversation because of Pip's awesome attempt at tact: "“Dressed like you, you know, only with a hat,” I explained, trembling; “and — and”— I was very anxious to put this delicately —“and with — the same reason for wanting to borrow a file."
At chapter's end, OPS-NC is intent on furiously filing the cuff off of his leg, and unless I'm mistaken, is planning on Hulking Out on the other convict. And Pip has slipped away and headed home.
As I said before, if anyone is interested in reading along with me, please do! I'll be reading a chapter a day until I'm done. If you post about it at your blog, just let me know, and I'll link up.
Now I've got one parent jetting off to Italy, and the other zooming away to Japan, while I get to spend my entire summer working at a second-rate stripmall comic shop, taking money from snotty kids and forty-year-old men who need showers. Plus, it's my life dream to go to Japan. One of my best friends is there all summer, and I would kill to be there with her. And now my dad—who won't even touch sushi with a ten-foot chopstick—is the one who gets to go. This is so not fair.
Luckily for sixteen-year-old Violet—aspiring manga artist and fan of all things Japanese—her talents catch the eye of Kenji and Mitsue Yamada, the couple who've just hired her father, and suddenly they've offered her a summer job in Japan, too.
And, as Violet is also a mystery novel junkie, the fact that her new employers just-so happen to be offering a one hundred thousand dollar reward for information leading to the recovery of their three recently-stolen van Gogh drawings, well, that's just the icing on the cake. So now she's headed to Japan with a new job PLUS a mystery to solve and a reward to win.
Fun stuff. Lots of running around—in Seattle, Tokyo, and Kyoto—spying and sleuthing and shopping, detecting and drawing and deducing. Violet's habit of recreating the suspects and storyline as manga characters (sometimes on paper, sometimes in her mind) is a really cool touch, and often gives her train of thought a sort-of prose-version-of-manga feel, though it's always clear in Tokyo Heist what is reality and what is fantasy. There's a lot here about Japanese culture and art, but since Violet already has a pretty decent base of knowledge, it's conveyed in a nicely organic manner, without didacticism or infodumps.
In addition to the aforementioned stolen art, the mystery involves the yakuza, secret love affairs, mysterious deaths, and a treasure hunt that follows clues hidden in art. There are lots of twists, turns, surprises and red herrings, and it's fast-paced and entertaining from start to finish.
On the more personal side, I especially liked Violet as a protagonist because she wasn't perfect, or even always entirely likable: while she's smart and talented and often quite fun to be around, she's also a bit of a snobbish pill about her job in the comic shop, and she's kind of a jerk to her crush. Her difficult relationship with her father is especially good, as is her friendship with Reika. Speaking of Reika, two things: 1. This book totally passes the Bechdel Test, and 2. in addition to being written as an actual three-dimensional character, Reika acts nicely as a bridge between cultures and languages due to her upbringing and parentage—her mother is originally from Tokyo and her father is from Seattle. But, like I said, she's written as an actual person, not as a vessel for imparting information to the reader. Well done, that.
Finally, my only real problem. While I liked Violet's lack of romantic experience—her understanding of lurrrve comes from watching Reika's love life from the sidelines and reading lots of shōjo manga—her own love story feels not only flat, but completely unnecessary. That flaw certainly won't stop me from recommending Tokyo Heist as a solid mystery to my YA patrons, but it was still enough of an issue that it was worth a mention.
Although the storyline might sound pretty run-of-the-mill contemporary paranormal, it's not. For one, there's no love triangle. ZOMG! NO LOVE TRIANGLE! YAAAAAY! But also, it feels more Gothic than paranormal. Lots of creepy imagery and blood and cemeteries and some nasty violation in the form of unwelcome possession. (As opposed to possession-with-prior-permission, which is also a thing.) As the magic requires sacrifice on the part of the magic user, there's a lot to think about in terms of ends vs. means, and some of the characters make choices that have irrevocable consequences. This is not a sitcom version of magic in which everything reboots at the end of the story. Not at all.
In the acknowledgements of TheBloodKeeper, Tessa Gratton’s follow-up to BloodMagic, Gratton thanks Robin McKinley, for writing about roses and beasts and transformations. Pieces of this book have been in my head since I was ten years old.
I feel that’s worth mentioning as I know that many readers, myself included, are likely to pick a book up based on that knowledge alone. And this book deserves to be picked up. Not because it’s a McKinley clone—far from it, actually, though it shares some of the same sensibilities—but because it’s a flat-out super book.
It’s an entertaining, light read, and it’s smart. For one thing, Henderson has a fabulous ear. I’m not talking about the British, American and Italian characters using appropriate slang, which they do, I’m saying that she even nails the varying rhythms of their speech. That, and she highlights cultural differences without ever breaking character or getting didactic.
Oh, guys. Long story short, you’re going to love it. It’s a swoonfest, sure, but it’s not a swoonfest in the way that you’d expect. It’s all about anticipation: not the anticipation of future smoochies, but the anticipation of Elliot and Malakai coming to an understanding. The anticipation of their mutual forgiveness and of their moving forward together, of renewing their friendship, becoming partners again, and maybe, of rekindling their love.
Despite the plot holes and the issues with unbelievable characterization (Sydney's convenient on-again/off-again social skills and/or deductive reasoning), I continue to find this series completely enjoyable. While Sydney's cluelessness about Adrian's Feelings for her (not to mention SPOILER BUT IT'S OBVIOUS her cluelessness about her own Lack of Feelings for Brayden END SPOILER) does get a tad grating, it's also nice to see a paranormal heroine who isn't constantly having the Which Dude Is The Dude For Her internal debate.
It’s very, very rare that I read something that forces me to type (or worse, utter) the three words that I regard as the Most Insipid Descriptors Ever. I’m going to go ahead and get them out of the way right now: Keeping the Castle is DELIGHTFUL and CHARMING and LOVELY.
The thing is, even though My Life in Black and White made me very, very grateful that I never have to re-visit those years, and even though Lexi is almost constantly massively self-absorbed, I still liked her. And even if the differences in our maturity levels kept me from identifying with her, I still felt for her. Even at her most obnoxious: because even at her most obnoxious, her voice rings true. She's always honest, even when that honesty paints her as unattractive or hypocritical.
Like any great story with a killer twist—a twist that enhances the story and adds a secondary reading, rather than simply serving as a “gotcha!” ending—I’m looking forward to rereading Tighter for the hidden layers. It’s safe to say that unlike the black-and-white sane vs. insane debate that arises in every conversation about The Turn of the Screw, discussions of Tighter will reside in the more nebulous and more interesting gray area.
For the handful of you who did not read this story in middle school, “The Most Dangerous Game” is a 1924 story that satirizes the big game safari hunting of the 1920s and is often used to teach a number of literary devices.
In a local news report, the parent was quoted as saying the story made her son “uncomfortable to read it and to think about killing someone else”.
As Blogging Censorship points out, that's kind of the point of the story.
The full text of the story is available online at eServer.