Mini-Reviews – Books for Bibliophiles

Hey all! I don’t really feel like doing a full review today, so instead I’m going to do some mini-reviews for Books for Bibliophiles. 🙂

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life (Annie Spence)

dearfahrenheit451Description from Goodreads: Librarians spend their lives weeding–not weeds but books! Books that have reached the end of their shelf life, both literally and figuratively. They remove the books that patrons no longer check out. And they put back the books they treasure. Annie Spence, who has a decade of experience as a Midwestern librarian, does this not only at her Michigan library but also at home, for her neighbors, at cocktail parties—everywhere. In Dear Fahrenheit 451, she addresses those books directly. We read her love letters to The Goldfinch and Matilda, as well as her snarky break-ups with Fifty Shades of Grey and Dear John. Her notes to The Virgin Suicides and The Time Traveler’s Wife feel like classics, sure to strike a powerful chord with readers. Through the lens of the books in her life, Annie comments on everything from women’s psychology to gay culture to health to poverty to childhood aspirations.

My Review: I loved this book so much that I plan to purchase it as a reference book. The letters were funny and poignant, and the lists of “what to read when you don’t know what to read” were spot on. I highly recommend this for any bibliophile.

The Shelf: From LEQ to LES: Adventures in Extreme Reading (Phyllis Rose)

theshelfDescription from Goodreads: Can you have an Extreme Adventure in a library? Phyllis Rose casts herself into the wilds of an Upper East Side lending library in an effort to do just that. Hoping to explore the “real ground of literature,” she reads her way through a somewhat randomly chosen shelf of fiction, from LEQ to LES.

The shelf has everything Rose could wish for—a classic she has not read, a remarkable variety of authors, and a range of literary styles. The early nineteenth-century Russian classic A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov is spine by spine with The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Stories of French Canadian farmers sit beside those about aristocratic Austrians. California detective novels abut a picaresque novel from the seventeenth century. There are several novels by a wonderful, funny, contemporary novelist who has turned to raising dogs because of the tepid response to her work.

In The Shelf, Rose investigates the books on her shelf with exuberance, candor, and wit while pondering the many questions her experiment raises and measuring her discoveries against her own inner shelf—those texts that accompany us through life. “Fairly sure that no one in the history of the world has read exactly this series of novels,” she sustains a sense of excitement as she creates a refreshingly original and generous portrait of the literary enterprise.

My Review: I dare you to tell anyone who is NOT a bibliophile that you are reading a non-fiction book about a lady who decided to read a random shelf of books in her library, and not have them look at you like you’ve grown a second head. To be fair, it DOES sound a bit crazy, but this book was actually very interesting. Rose not only describes the books, but the world in which they were written and the authors themselves. It was pretty fascinating…but also spoiler-y, so don’t read the sections about books in your TBR pile. 😉

84, Charing Cross Road (Helene Hanff)

84CharingCrossRdDescription from Goodreads: This charming classic love story, first published in 1970, brings together twenty years of correspondence between Helene Hanff, at the time, a freelance writer living in New York City, and a used-book dealer in London at 84, Charing Cross Road. Through the years, though never meeting and separated both geographically and culturally, they share a winsome, sentimental friendship based on their common love for books. Their relationship, captured so acutely in these letters, is one that has touched the hearts of thousands of readers around the world.

My Review: This really was a charming little book. Reading correspondence between a book seller and a reader doesn’t SOUND like it would be interesting, but it really was. It was also short, so it wouldn’t kill you to give it a try, now would it? 😉

The Phantom Tollbooth (Norton Juster)

PhantomTollboothDescription from Goodreads: For Milo, everything’s a bore. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason! Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams…

My Review: Yes, this is a kid’s book. Yes, it’s not really about books. But it IS for lovers of language. This was a fun little adventure book and I think it would be a good introduction to word-play for children.

Read any good books-about-books lately? Post about them here! I’m always looking for suggestions!



Book Review – A Curious Beginning

Book: A Curious Beginning – Author: Deanna Raybourn

Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery, Historical

Description from Goodreads:

London, 1887. – After burying her spinster aunt, orphaned Veronica Speedwell is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as with fending off admirers, Veronica intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans when Veronica thwarts her own attempted abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron, who offers her sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker, a reclusive and bad-tempered natural historian. But before the baron can reveal what he knows of the plot against her, he is found murdered—leaving Veronica and Stoker on the run from an elusive assailant as wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

My Review:

I had a feeling I was going to like this book, and boy was I right!

Veronica is a wonderful character. Spunky, clever, and resourceful, she’s the kind of person you’d want to have on your side when you are in trouble. Though a bit prone to swooning, which is explained, she’s still one of the most capable women I’ve ever read in this time period. Think a slightly more restrained, Victorian-era Phryne Fisher with a bent towards science and you’ll be getting fairly close. 🙂

Her compatriot and soon-to-be-beau (not a spoiler, it’s pretty obvious for the majority of the book), Stoker, was also an interesting character. A bit hard-headed and quick to anger, he’s also very loyal and protective…and fairly open-minded when dealing with the extremely ‘modern-thinking’ Veronica. It was nice to see a male figure in a Victorian era book that wasn’t astonished that women might actually know a thing or two and can form their own opinions without relying on a man to explain things to them.

The mystery was intriguing. We are kind of thrown into the mix, just like Veronica, with no clue which characters to trust or what exactly is going on. Those are my favorite kind of mysteries, where you have to figure out the clues right alongside the main characters. I will say that I totally figured out the ‘big surprise’ at the end. Lucky guess really, but I’m still claiming it! 😉

The only thing that bugged me about the book was that Veronica completely refused to believe she could possibly be in danger for WAY too much of the book. There is such a thing as too oblivious and she was pushing the mark. How many kidnapping attempts and random attacks do you have to experience before you get the fact that these guys might be after YOU? It wasn’t a deal-breaker or anything, but I honestly would have sided with Stoker if he’d smacked her upside the head. 😉

Anyway, I really would recommend this one for mystery lovers, especially if you like books set in the Victorian era and/or strong female protagonists.

Similar Book(s):

Lady of Ashes – Christine Trent

The Anatomist’s Wife – Anna Lee Huber

Jackaby – William Ritter


Sweeping the Shelves #6

Welcome on, welcome all, to the sixth installment of my Sweeping the Shelves challenge. The goal? To share my abundance of TBR books with the world instead of hoarding them “just in case I want to read them”.

The Accomplice (Elizabeth Ironside)

theaccompliceDescription from Goodreads: Jean Loftus has lived at Asshe House for more than 40 years. Its tidy contours, the soft colors of the garden, speak to an orderly, gracious life, a supremely English life. But when workmen unearth a skeleton from that garden, the skeletons from Jean’s past begin rising, similarly, to the surface. And the life they speak to – a childhood in Revolutionary Russia, chaotic years as a refugee between the two world wars – was neither orderly nor English. Zita Daunsey, Jean’s neighbor in this cozy Sussex town, would like to help Jean protect her secrets. But this task is made more difficult with the sudden arrival of a mysterious, aggressively inquisitive Russian student. Whose body has been moldering in the garden? What aging sins is Jean so anxious to conceal? And in trying to help the past stay buried, at what point does Zita become an accomplice to it?

Final Verdict: I…I don’t remember this book. At all. Not buying it, not even scanning it into my Libib app for this challenge. It looks REALLY interesting though! I shouldn’t have read the description, now I’m intrigued… — KEEP

Big Stone Gap (Ariana Trigiani)

bigstonegapDescription from Goodreads: Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, the tiny town of Big Stone Gap is home to some of the most charming eccentrics in the state. Ave Maria Mulligan is the town’s self-proclaimed spinster, a thirty-five year old pharmacist with a “mountain girl’s body and a flat behind.” She lives an amiable life with good friends and lots of hobbies until the fateful day in 1978 when she suddenly discovers that she’s not who she always thought she was. Before she can blink, Ave’s fielding marriage proposals, fighting off greedy family members, organizing a celebration for visiting celebrities, and planning the trip of a lifetime-a trip that could change her view of the world and her own place in it forever. 

Final Verdict: Eh, I dunno. This one has pretty good reviews, but I don’t know if it’s really up my alley. Maybe I’ll just watch the movie. (Blasphemy, I know. 😉 ) — DONATE

Flesh and Bone – Body Farm #2 (Jefferson Bass)

fleshandboneDescription from Goodreads: Anthropologist Dr. Bill Brockton founded Tennessee’s world-famous Body Farm—a small piece of land where corpses are left to decay in order to gain important forensic information. Now, in the wake of a shocking crime in nearby Chattanooga, he’s called upon by Jess Carter—the rising star of the state’s medical examiners—to help her unravel a murderous puzzle. But after re-creating the death scene at the Body Farm, Brockton discovers his career, reputation, and life are in dire jeopardy when a second, unexplained corpse appears in the grisly setting.

Accused of a horrific crime—transformed overnight from a respected professor to a hated and feared pariah—Bill Brockton will need every ounce of his formidable forensic skills to escape the ingeniously woven net that’s tightening around him . . . and to prove the seemingly impossible: his own innocence.

Final Verdict: I normally try not to keep books that aren’t the first of the series, but I really like the premise of this one. And it looks like my library has the first novel, so I can try it out and see if I like it. — KEEP (FOR NOW)

One Mountain Away (Emilie Richards)

onemountainawayDescription from Goodreads: With nothing but brains, ambition and sheer nerve, Charlotte Hale built a career as a tough, savvy real-estate developer. Her reputation is rock solid…but her life is empty. One terrifying day, Charlotte realizes that her friends are as grasping and insincere as she is. Far worse, she’s alienated her family so completely that she’s never held or spoken to her only granddaughter. 

Charlotte vows to make amends, not simply with her considerable wealth, but by offering a hand instead of a handout. Putting in hours and energy instead of putting in an appearance. Opening her home and heart instead of her wallet. With each wrenching, exhilarating, joyful decision, she finds her path to friendship, love and forgiveness—even as she learns what it truly means to build a legacy.

Final Verdict: Aw, this one sounds sweet! And it has amazingly good reviews! I think I’ll keep it. 🙂 — KEEP

The World to Come (Dara Horn)

worldtocomeDescription from Goodreads: A million-dollar Chagall is stolen from a museum during a singles’ cocktail hour. The unlikely thief, former child prodigy Benjamin Ziskind, is convinced that the painting once hung in his parents’ living room. This work of art opens a door through which we discover his family’s startling history–from an orphanage in Soviet Russia where Chagall taught to suburban New Jersey and the jungles of Vietnam.

Final Verdict: Hm. This one seems to be a “love it or hate it” kind of book, according to the Goodreads reviews. But it sounds kind of interesting and my library doesn’t have a copy, so I might keep it for now and give it a try. — KEEP

Today’s Count: Keep = 4, Donate = 1 (oops, lol)

Overall Count: Keep = 19, Donate = 11

T5W – Because Less Known Doesn’t Mean Less Good

Today’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is: Hidden Gems in Your Favorite Genre

Now, I don’t know that I have a favorite genre per se, so I’m going to tweak this a bit and do Hidden Gems in SOME of My Favorite Genres (one book for each genre).

Cozy Mystery

Cozy Mysteries are my favorite bookish guilty pleasure. I’m not sure why I like them so much, especially considering the main characters usually really annoy me. 😉 But I do. I love them SO MUCH! They are what I reach for when I’ve had a really stressful day and just don’t want to think anymore.

CWM_750x600-300x184My current favorite Cozy Mystery series is the Creative Woman Mysteries series published by Annie’s. The series follows Shannon, who inherits her grandmother’s estate and craft business. The first mystery she solves involves part of her inheritance, but she ends up playing the amateur detective for all sorts of mysteries throughout the series. Though she ends up falling into a few of the habits that really annoy me with Cozies (TELL THE COPS WHEN YOU FIND EVIDENCE), she’s actually a pretty likable character who is usually just trying help her friends out of trouble.


I honestly used to never read non-fiction books. I’m not sure why, maybe it came from having enough of reality and wanting my reading time to be an escape. But the last couple of years, I’ve been giving them another go.

furiouslyhappy.jpgMy current favorite Non-Fiction book is Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. I LOVE Jenny Lawson. She has a way of talking about mental issues that allows you to laugh at yourself and helps you feel better instead of just more miserable. Reading her books is like chatting with a good friend…a good friend with an insane sense of humor. This book and her previous one, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, have found their way onto my ‘favorites’ stand right next to my bed, so they are in easy reach when I’m feeling really blue.


I think Science Fiction may have been my first ‘favorite genre’. (I blame you, SeaQuest DSV! 🙂 ) I love a good sci-fi, regardless of whether it’s space-y, steampunk, monster-filled, or even dystopian. As long as the story is good, I’m all for it.

27213244My current favorite Sci-Fi novel is The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. The world building alone in this novel is amazing. She manages to pack as much detail and nuance as an entire series of Star Trek into just one novel. I also loved the characters. They all seemed very real and like people I would probably get along with in real life. It honestly felt a bit like Firefly, but with a fresh cast…and less crime. 😉


Fantasies are only second to Sci-Fi’s in timing, because I may have fallen in love with the genre later, but I love it just as much!

magemotherseriesMy current favorite (which could also be considered a YA favorite) is the Magemother series by Austin J. Bailey. This is a nice little series; easy to read, but exciting and fun. I can’t really describe it without giving all the plot points away, so I’ll just say that I practically binged the first book and the novella and am really looking forward to the second & third books. Thankfully, I bought the omnibus of the whole series, so I don’t have to wait very long. 🙂

Books About Books

I can’t help it, I love books so much that I also love books ABOUT books. These types of books can span multiple genres (romances, science fiction, fantasy, non-fiction…), so I’ve turned them into their OWN genre instead. 😉

28517611My current favorite Book About Books is Kingston Raine and the Grim Reaper by Jackson Lear. This is one of the few books that I’ve downloaded from one of those Facebook ads that actually worked out for me. 😉 This books is HILARIOUS and anyone who loves books will love it. The references alone are awesome, but the wit of the writing is amazing. Who knew I could like the Grim Reaper so much?

How about you? What are your favorite hidden gems?

Book Review – From Here To Eternity

Book: From Here to Eternity: Travelling the World to Find the Good Death – Author: Caitlin Doughty

Genre: Non-Fiction, Death, Funerals, Rituals

Description from Goodreads:

Fascinated by our pervasive terror of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty set out to discover how other cultures care for their dead. In rural Indonesia, she observes a man clean and dress his grandfather’s mummified body. Grandpa’s mummy has lived in the family home for two years, where the family has maintained a warm and respectful relationship. She meets Bolivian natitas (cigarette- smoking, wish- granting human skulls), and introduces us to a Japanese kotsuage, in which relatives use chopsticks to pluck their loved- ones’ bones from cremation ashes. With curiosity and morbid humor, Doughty encounters vividly decomposed bodies and participates in compelling, powerful death practices almost entirely unknown in America. Featuring Gorey-esque illustrations by artist Landis Blair, From Here to Eternity introduces death-care innovators researching green burial and body composting, explores new spaces for mourning— including a glowing- Buddha columbarium in Japan and America’s only open-air pyre— and reveals unexpected new possibilities for our own death rituals.

My Review:

I went into my reading of Caitlin Doughty’s first book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, completely blind. I was randomly perusing the non-fiction shelf and the title caught my eye. Reading the synopsis, I thought it sounded vaguely interesting, if a bit morose, so I gave it a shot. I was not disappointed. So when her second book was announced, I couldn’t wait.

Doughty has this ability, somewhat rare in my opinion, of being able to juggle getting in all the details people would want to know about a death ritual and still being respectful, not only of the dead, but the living who are participating in it. She comes to the rituals with an open mind, as someone who wants to understand what why the culture has created this ritual without putting her own moral judgement on it. As someone who loves learning about other cultures myself, I love that aspect of these books.

In this book, Doughty has included an nice mixture of rituals from around the world, including the Dia de Los Muertos in Mexico, Living Mummies in Indonesia, Natitas in Bolivia, Kotsuage in Japan, and many others. She even throws in a few options for the USA; alternatives to the usual burial or cremation. The rituals themselves are fascinating and seeing the contrasting opinions on how different cultures treat their dead was eye-opening.

I know a lot of you are going….”but its a book about DEATH”. Yes, it is, but part of what Doughty is trying to do with these books is make discussions about death more commonplace, especially in the USA where it’s such a taboo to talk about that some people actually get angry when you try. I mean, how is your family supposed to know what you would like if you never tell them? How does it honestly help the grieving process to NOT know how your deceased family member is being treated? How is it helpful to have to shell out thousands of dollars for something your relative may not have even wanted? These are the types of things that SHOULD be discussed, even in our death-phobic country.

I think this is a great book for anyone who is interested in anthropology, death rituals, or just wants to learn a bit more about what options are out there.

Similar Book(s):

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes – Caitlin Doughty

Stiff: The Curious Life of Cadavers – Mary Roach



Sweeping the Shelves #4

Hello all! Welcome to the fourth installment of Sweeping the Shelves; the weekly blog where I try to convince myself that I REALLY don’t need all these books!!! Let’s see if I do better than last week. 😉

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Seth Grahame-Smith)

abrahamlincolnvampirehunterDescription from Goodreads: Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother’s bedside. She’s been stricken with something the old-timers call “Milk Sickness.” Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother’s fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.

When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, “henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose…” Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.

Final Verdict: I loved the Vampire Hunter movie so much that I immediately went out and bought the book. Then I let it languish on my shelf for YEARS. I just need to be honest with myself; I’m never going to read this one. — DONATE

Fatal Error – Repairman Jack #14 (F. Paul Wilson)

fatalerrorDescription from Goodreads: Munir Habib’s life has become a nightmare. His tormentor has warned Munir not to report the kidnapping of his family, or else they will pay a terrible price. A friend realizes something is terribly wrong and tells Munir he doesn’t have to go to the cops. There’s a guy who fixes situations like this-Repairman Jack. Jack is backed into helping Munir despite his ongoing involvement in the cosmic shadow war between the Ally and the Otherness. Or perhaps because of it. He’s chafing at being forced into the defensive role of protecting the Lady, the physical embodiment of the consciousness of the planet Earth.

Meanwhile, the Septimus Order and the Kickers are seemingly working in concert on a plot to extinguish the Lady and open the way for the Otherness to take over our reality. To top it all off, Dawn Pickering finally goes into labor and delivers a baby she only glimpses as it’s whisked away, and is terrified by what she sees. Later she’s told the baby died, but she doesn’t believe it. Neither does Weezy. Neither does Jack. All these interlocking plots mean doom for humanity. But Jack never gives up or gives in.

Final Verdict: What? How on EARTH did I end up with the FOURTEENTH book in this series? There’s no point in keeping this one, since I’d have no idea what was going on if I tried to read it. Out it goes! — DONATE

Night of the Soul Stealer – The Last Apprentice #3 (Joseph Delaney)

lastapprentice3Description from Goodreads: Thomas Ward is the apprentice for the local Spook, who captures witches and drives away ghosts. As the weather gets colder and the nights draw in, the Spook receives an unexpected visitor. Tom doesn’t know who the stranger is or what he wants, but the Spook suddenly decides it’s time to travel to his winter house, Anglezarke. Tom has heard it will be a bleak, forbidding place, and that menacing creatures are starting to stir somewhere on the moors nearby.

Can anything prepare Tom for what he finds there? What if the rumors about the evil beast called the Golgoth are true? And how much danger will Tom be in if the secrets the Spook has been trying to hide from the world are revealed?

Final Verdict: This one, on the other hand, is actually the next book in a series I’ve read. The series was pretty decent, but I’ve honestly just lost interest in it. I think I’ll donate all 3 of them. — DONATE (x3)

The Yard (Alex Grecian)

theyardDescription from Goodreads: Victorian London is a cesspool of crime, and Scotland Yard has only twelve detectives—known as “The Murder Squad”—to investigate countless murders every month. Created after the Metropolitan Police’s spectacular failure to capture Jack the Ripper, The Murder Squad suffers rampant public contempt. They have failed their citizens. But no one can anticipate the brutal murder of one of their own . . . one of the twelve . . .When Walter Day, the squad’s newest hire, is assigned the case of the murdered detective, he finds a strange ally in the Yard’s first forensic pathologist, Dr. Bernard Kingsley. Together they track the killer, who clearly is not finished with The Murder Squad . . . but why?

Final Verdict: I’ve had this one on my TBR list for 4 years now, but I’m determined to not give up on it! — KEEP

Year of the Hangman (Gary Blackwood)

yearofthehangmanDescription from Goodreads: In 1776, the rebellion of the American colonies against British rule was crushed.  Now, in 1777-the year of the hangman-George Washington is awaiting execution, Benjamin Franklin’s banned rebel newspaper, Liberty Tree, has gone underground, and young ne’er-do-well Creighton Brown, a fifteen-year-old Brit, has just arrived in the colonies.  Having been shipped off against his will, with nothing but a distance for English authorities, Creighton befriends Franklin, and lands a job with his print shop.  But the English general expects the spoiled yet loyal Creighton to spy on Franklin.  As battles unfold and falsehoods are exposed, Creighton must decide where his loyalties lie…a choice that could determine the fate of a nation.

Final Verdict: Hmm…tough one. I like alternate histories, but I HATE political books. The concept sounds interesting, which is probably why I picked it up in the first place, though I probably wouldn’t have paid full price in the store for it (I got it with a bag of books from a library for only $3). The reviews are mixed too. In keeping with the spirit of this challenge to donate anything I’m not ecstatic to read…I guess I’ll pass. — DONATE

Today’s Count: Keep = 1, Donate = 4
(Plus donating the other 2 of the Last Apprentice series! I did awesome this time!!!)

Overall Count: Keep = 12, Donate = 8

Book Review – Skulduggery Pleasant

Book: Skulduggery Pleasant (#1) – Author: Derek Landy

Genre: Fiction, Adventure, Fantasy, Young Adult

Description from Goodreads:

Meet Skulduggery Pleasant. Sure, he may lose his head now and again (in fact, he won his current skull in a poker match), but he is much more than he appears to be—which is good, considering that he is, basically, a skeleton. Skulduggery may be long dead, but he is also a mage who dodged the grave so that he could save the world from an ancient evil. But to defeat it, he’ll need the help of a new partner: a not so innocent twelve-year-old girl named Stephanie. That’s right, they’re the heroes.

Stephanie and Skulduggery are quickly caught up in a battle to stop evil forces from acquiring her recently deceased uncle’s most prized possession—the Sceptre of the Ancients. The Ancients were the good guys, an extinct race of uber-magicians from the early days of the earth, and the scepter is their most dangerous weapon, one capable of killing anyone and destroying anything. Back in the day, they used it to banish the bad guys, the evil Faceless Ones. Unfortunately, in the way of bad guys everywhere, the Faceless Ones are staging a comeback and no one besides our two heroes believes in the Faceless Ones, or even that the Sceptre is real.

So Stephanie and Skulduggery set off to find the Sceptre, fend off the minions of the bad guys, beat down vampires and the undead, prove the existence of the Ancients and the Faceless Ones, all while trading snappy, snippy banter worthy of the best screwball comedies.

My Review:

This was a fun one! It was a pretty quick but interesting read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I thought it might end up a little strange, having a 12 year old partner up with an adult, but Stephanie & Skulduggery actually play really well off each other. Stephanie can hold her own against the bad guys pretty decently for a newbie and can match Skulduggery one-for-one in the wit & cleverness department. It WAS a little weird that all the adults almost automatically took to having a 12 year old as part of their group, but considering the target audience for the book, I can see why the author just kind of let that one go instead of trying to explain it too much. Plus, like I said earlier, Stephanie can really hold her own.

The adventure was really interesting too. It had me on the edge of my seat quite a few times, wondering if our heroes would make it out of this one. The book jumped to conclusions a tiny bit quickly on occasion, but not too bad for a young person novel. And the author also held back some surprises for the reader that I didn’t see coming, which was nice.

I will admit that there were a lot of characters kind of thrown at the reader in the first half of the book, but considering Stephanie was just being introduced to this magical word, that makes sense. Ever start a new job or go to a new school? You meet a ZILLION people the first day and can’t keep track of ANY of them…but just like real life, the book quickly fleshes out the important characters and keeps re-introducing them so you can get them fixed in your mind.

Now, if you’ve heard of these books before, you’re probably wondering why I would list a children’s book as Young Adult. Let me explain. The writing in this novel was really well done, not too dumbed down, but that’s not really a factor for naming something YA; in fact, I love it when authors realize that children don’t need to be spoken down to. No, it was really the violence that caused my rating to go up. Yes, children can handle the death of characters (Harry Potter anyone?), but this was a little too much for a kid, in my opinion. If you have an advanced reader that can handle really decently scary situations and descriptions of death, then go for it, but for the average 10 year old? Maybe a bit TOO scary at times.

Overall, though, this was a GREAT book! I enjoyed it so much that I plan to pick up the next in the series on my next library run. 🙂 I highly recommend it for people who enjoy adventurous/magical/humorous novels…which, who of us doesn’t, right? 😉

Similar Book(s):

In feel, if not in content…

The True Meaning of Smekday (Adam Rex)

The Book of Storms (Ruth Hatfield)

Book Review – The Book of Lost Things

Book: The Book of Lost Things – Author: John Connelly

Genre: Fiction, Adventure, Fantasy, Coming-Of-Age, Allegory

Description from Goodreads:

High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness. Angry and alone, he takes refuge in his imagination and soon finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a world that is a strange reflection of his own — populated by heroes and monsters and ruled by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, ‘The Book of Lost Things’.

My Review:

I am a huge fan of fairy tales and lore, plus a gigantic bibliophile, so this book sounded right up my alley. I was right; it was even better than I anticipated!

This book managed to be a classic fairy tale itself, with David having to go on a heroic quest, fight beasts & fiends alike, save the girl, and free the kingdom; while also incorporating (and reimagining) a ton of existing fairy tales. It was really interesting to see how the original tales were twisted to fit David’s perception of what they would be like in ‘real life’.

I don’t want to give away too much, but I will say that I ended up putting this into the “allegory” category for a reason. In a similar fashion to books like A Monster Calls and Four Kings, everything that happens in the ‘fairy tale’ world has a meaning for David’s life in the real world. Nothing is really thrown in just for the sake of it; pretty much everything that happens has a purpose. Certain characters are manifestations of ‘real life’ people, with a twist based on how David perceives them; and the events that happen around them all have a deeper meaning, if you are willing to look for it.

That being said, even if you are looking for just a fun tale without any hidden meanings, you should definitely read this one! The adventure on its own was insane! It read like a true Grimm Brothers tale, with genuinely scary monsters & people and real danger for the characters, with actual death for some of them. I was on the edge of my seat for the vast majority of the book.

I highly recommend this one for people who love old fairy tales (the dark & dangerous kind) or just a great adventure/coming-of-age tale. 🙂

Similar Book(s):

A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness

Four Kings – M.D. Elster

Coraline – Neil Gaiman

Book Review – Bibliomysteries

Book: Bibliomysteries – Author: Multiple (edited by Otto Penzler)

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Books About Books, Anthology

Description from Goodreads:

If you open your dictionary, you will discover that there is no such word as “bibliomystery.” However, most mystery readers know that the word refers to a mystery story that involves the world of books: a bookshop, a rare volume, a library, a collector, or a bookseller.

The stories in this unique collection were commissioned by the Mysterious Bookshop. They were written by some of the mystery genre’s most distinguished authors. Tough guys like Ken Bruen, Reed Farrel Coleman, Loren D. Estleman, and Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins. Bestsellers like Nelson DeMille, Anne Perry, and Jeffery Deaver. Edgar winners such as C. J. Box, Thomas H. Cook, and Laura Lippman.

Here you will discover Sigmund Freud dealing with an unwelcome visitor; Columbo confronting a murderous bookseller; a Mexican cartel kingpin with a fatal weakness for rare books; and deadly secrets deep in the London Library; plus books with hidden messages, beguiling booksellers, crafty collectors, and a magical library that is guaranteed to enchant you. The stories have been published in seven languages—one has sold more than 250,000 copies as an e-book (“The Book Case” by Nelson DeMille)—and another won the Edgar Allan Poe Award as the Best Short Story of the Year (“The Caxton Lending Library and Book Depository” by John Connolly).  

Who knew literature could be so lethal!

My Review:

Bibliomysteries is an anthology put together by Otto Penzler, a well-known advocate of the mystery genre, and features fictional stories written by famous mystery authors which all involve books in some fashion. If you are a bibliophile (and if you’re reading this blog, that’s very likely) and especially if you are a devotee of the mystery genre like me, you will definitely enjoy this book.

Here’s the lineup:

– Introduction by Ian Rankin
– “An Acceptable Sacrifice ” by Jeffery Deaver
– “Pronghorns of the Third Reich” by C.J. Box
– “The Book of Virtue” by Ken Bruen
– “The Book of Ghosts” by Reed Farrel Coleman
– “The Final Testament” by Peter Blauner
– “What’s In A Name?” by Thomas H. Cook
– “Book Club” by Loren D. Estleman
– “Death Leaves A Bookmark” by William Link
– “The Book Thing” by Laura Lippman
– “The Scroll” by Anne Perry
– “It’s In the Book” by Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins
– “The Long Sonata of the Dead” by Andrew Taylor
– “Rides A Stranger” by David Bell
– “The Caxton Lending Library & Book Depository” by John Connolly
– “The Book Case” by Nelson DeMille.

I don’t want to give too much away by describing each story with any more detail than they do in the description (with how short each story is, I’d end up telling the whole thing!) but I will say that each story is very unique and it was fun seeing how different writers would work out completely different tales using the same prompt.

I enjoyed all of the stories, with one exception, which is really good odds for an anthology. My favorite two stories were “The Book Thing” by Laura Lippman & “The Caxton Lending Library & Book Depository” by John Connolly (definite favorite!), with close runners up in “The Scroll” by Anne Perry & “Rides A Stranger” by David Bell.

I’d highly recommend this anthology to anyone who loves mysteries, especially if they also love books. It’s not only a fun ride, it’s also a great introduction to authors you may not have read yet. I know I’m definitely going to be adding some of these authors to my “TBR” pile! 🙂

Similar Book(s):

I’m never sure what to put here for anthologies, so I’m just going to link to all the author’s Goodreads pages so you can get a feel for them yourself:

– Ian Rankin
– Jeffery Deaver
– C.J. Box
– Ken Bruen
– Reed Farrel Coleman
– Peter Blauner
– Thomas H. Cook
– Loren D. Estleman
– William Link
– Laura Lippman
– Anne Perry
– Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins
– Andrew Taylor
– David Bell
– John Connolly
– Nelson DeMille

Sweeping The Shelves #2

For those of you who don’t know, Sweeping the Shelves is my “weekly” challenge try to clean up my shelves. I pick 5 random books that I own but haven’t read, post about them here, and then decide whether to keep or donate them.

Here’s the picks for this week!

Behemoth – Leviathan #2 (Scott Westerfield)

behemothDescription from Goodreads: The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker powers.

Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan’s peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory. 

Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what’s ahead.

Final Verdict: Well, apparently I liked the first book in this series enough to give it a full 5 stars on Goodreads. I don’t remember ANYTHING that happened in it now, but…I guess that just means I’ll have to re-read it before getting to this one. 😉 – KEEP

Black House – The Talisman #2 (Stephen King & Peter Straub)

blackhouseDescription from Goodreads: Twenty years ago, a boy named Jack Sawyer travelled to a parallel universe called The Territories to save his mother and her Territories “twinner” from a premature and agonizing death that would have brought cataclysm to the other world. Now Jack is a retired Los Angeles homicide detective living in the nearly nonexistent hamlet of Tamarack, WI. He has no recollection of his adventures in the Territories and was compelled to leave the police force when an odd, happenstance event threatened to awaken those memories.

When a series of gruesome murders occur in western Wisconsin that are reminiscent of those committed several decades earlier by a real-life madman named Albert Fish, the killer is dubbed “The Fisherman” and Jack’s buddy, the local chief of police, begs Jack to help his inexperienced force find him. But is this merely the work of a disturbed individual, or has a mysterious and malignant force been unleashed in this quiet town? What causes Jack’s inexplicable waking dreams, if that is what they are, of robins’ eggs and red feathers? It’s almost as if someone is trying to tell him something. As that message becomes increasingly impossible to ignore, Jack is drawn back to the Territories and to his own hidden past, where he may find the soul-strength to enter a terrifying house at the end of a deserted track of forest, there to encounter the obscene and ferocious evils sheltered within it.

Final Verdict: I really liked The Talisman. It was 2 BILLION pages long, but it was really good. This one is also really long and I probably won’t get to reading it any time soon, but IT’S STEPHEN KING. – KEEP

The Crossroads – Haunted Mystery #1 (Chris Grabenstein)

TheCrossroadsDescription from Goodreads: Zack, his dad, and new stepmother have just moved back to his father’s hometown, not knowing that their new house has a dark history. Fifty years ago, a crazed killer caused an accident at the nearby crossroads that took 40 innocent lives. He died when his car hit a tree in a fiery crash, and his malevolent spirit has inhabited the tree ever since. During a huge storm, lightning hits the tree, releasing the spirit, who decides his evil spree isn’t over . . . and Zack is directly in his sights.

Final Verdict: This one looks interesting, has really good reviews, and, considering how easy to read The Island of Dr. Libris was, shouldn’t take me very long to read. I think I’ll keep it for now and donate it after I’ve read it. – KEEP 

The Enemy – The Enemy #1 (Charlie Higson)

theenemyDescription from Goodreads: When the sickness came, every parent, police officer, politician – every adult fell ill. The lucky ones died. The others are crazed, confused and hungry. Only children under fourteen remain, and they’re fighting to survive.

Now there are rumours of a safe place to hide. And so a gang of children begin their quest across London, where all through the city – down alleyways, in deserted houses, underground – the grown-ups lie in wait. But can they make it there – alive?

Final Verdict: I dunno. I can barely handle the gore in zombie books/movies at the best of times, and having it happen to kids? Hm. I must have bought this while I was still on my high from the Wayward Pines series (which is great, btw, you should check it out), but I’m just not feeling it now. – DONATE

The Whisperers – Charlie Parker #9 (John Connolly)

TheWhisperersDescription from Goodreads: In his latest dark and chilling Charlie Parker thriller, New York Times bestselling author John Connolly takes us to the border between Maine and Canada. It is there, in the vast and porous Great North Woods, that a dangerous smuggling operation is taking place, run by a group of disenchanted former soldiers, newly returned from Iraq. Illicit goods–drugs, cash, weapons, even people–are changing hands. And something else has changed hands. Something ancient and powerful and evil.

The authorities suspect something is amiss, but what they can’t know is that it is infinitely stranger and more terrifying than anyone can imagine. Anyone, that is, except private detective Charlie Parker, who has his own intimate knowledge of the darkness in men’s hearts. As the smugglers begin to die one after another in apparent suicides, Parker is called in to stop the bloodletting. The soldiers’ actions and the objects they have smuggled have attracted the attention of the reclusive Herod, a man with a taste for the strange. And where Herod goes, so too does the shadowy figure that he calls the Captain. To defeat them, Parker must form an uneasy alliance with a man he fears more than any other, the killer known as the Collector. . .

Final Verdict: Reading some of the other reviews, I think this one might be a little too grim for me. And adding in the fact that it’s #9 in a series I haven’t even heard of…yeah, I think this one is for the donation pile. – DONATE

Today’s Count: Keep = 3, Donate = 2

Overall Count: Keep = 7, Donate = 3