Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Mirage by Matt Ruff

Matt Ruff, author of Set This House in Order and Bad Monkeys, has written another page-turning, mind-reeling masterpiece-- on sale February 7, 2012
Imagine a world where the United Arab States is threatened by Christian fundamentalist terrorists, a world where a few good Homeland Security Agents have to fight corruption and conspiracies to protect all they believe in, a world where evil and mass deception threaten everything. I predict this is the novel that everyone will be talking about in 2012. 
And it’s not just provocative, it’s a darn good read! With characters I cared about, a plot that doesn’t let up, and a premise that still has me thinking, The Mirage exceeded my expectations. Now I just can’t wait for the paperback so I can recommend it to every book club.
Lucky me, Matt Ruff is doing an event at my bookstore on Tuesday February 28 at 6pm!! WOO HOO!
Also lucky me, my recommendation for The Mirage was chosen for the Indie Next list! Thanks, guys!

(Nancy, this one's for you... Can't wait to hear/read your take on it!)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Top Teen books of 2011

Here we go! I compiled a Top 10 list of books for teens for the store, but my personal list has a few differences...

I'm going to go ahead and use my commentary from the store lists when applicable, though.


Putting Makeup on Dead People by Jen Violi.  The title/subject may seem offputting, but it's one of the most beautiful (and funny) books about grief I've read. Violi nailed it.

Legend by Marie Lu. Dystopian thrills abound as June, the government's prodigy, is pitted against Day, its Enemy #1.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. A planeful of teen pageant contestants gets stranded on a desert island-- "Miss Congeniality" crossed with Lord of the Flies, with a healthy dose of fierce feminism.

Divergent by Veronica Roth. In this page-turner dystopian thriller set in Chicago of the future, the city is divided into five factions, with each valuing one trait above all else. Beatrice's choice to give up the gentleness of Abnegation for the power of Dauntless is riveting, and the romance made my heart race, too.

To Timbuktu by Casey Scieszka and Steven Weinberg. I'm always on the lookout for great non-fiction for teens, and this memoir (written and drawn by recent college grads) about travelling the world is fantastic: inspiring and entertaining.

Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy. I still think about Zulaikha, the rural Afghan girl in this story. Hope and perseverance make this a rewarding read.

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma. The modern gothic atmosphere and mysterious characters make this contemporary story of two sisters so fascinating.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson. Need a stay-up-late-then-sleep-with-the-lights on read? Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of modern London in this first of a series.

Hourglass by Myra McEntire. I thought I was done with any paranormal romance, but this was fresh and oh-so-readable. Think teens with super-powers instead of vampires/werewolves/zombies etc. More! More!

Enclave by Ann Aguirre.  A vivid post-apocalyptic world, a tougher than nails protagonist, and the battles for survival left me breathless. The surprise bonus? A character named Tegan! 

Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton. This was creepy and suspenseful, and I just couldn't stop reading, even though I wanted to shake the characters and force them to make better choices. It's my surprise compulsion title of the year.

Wherever You Go by Heather Davis. This heartfelt contemporary novel about a teen who has to grow up too fast to care for her little sister and her grandfather with Alzheimer's, all while dealing with grief from her boyfriend's death, is powerful, and thanks to some beyond-the-grave communication, wonderfully healing.

Finally, an adult book I'd recommend to teens, or to adults who are feeling in that escapist, easy-to-get-lost-in kind of mood: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Atmospheric and engrossing, this is a grown-up Harry Potter fanatic kind of book, where magic feels real. The story, about two young magicians who are raised to fight a lifelong battle in an enchanted circus on behalf of their teachers, is really just an excuse for amazing images and flights of incredible imaginative fantasy. Don't worry about how it all works; if you're in the right frame of mind, just let yourself just get swept away. There's nothing to make this inappropriate for teens (except, perhaps, for the higher hardcover price of an adult title).