Ryan's picks

I've been a bibliophile for as long as I can remember, tearing through books since before I could walk. The Harry Potter Series was my first real love, which explains why I still enjoy escaping into a Fantasy or YA novel. My favorite books (aside from my beloved Potter) include Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The Night Circus, and just about everything John Green and Rainbow Rowell have ever written.


Red Queen (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780062310637
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Teen, 2/2015

Ryan's March 2015 pick, 1 of 2

Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard

I judged this book by it's incredibly cool cover, and luckily for me, it worked out in my favor. Red Queen is an action-packed fantasy that fans of The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones will love. There's romance, violence, betrayal, and a quest for power in which no one is safe and you can't trust anyone. This book is electric and magical, and I couldn't put it down.

The Walls Around Us (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9781616203726
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 3/2015

Ryan's March 2015 pick, 2 of 2

The Walls Around Us, by Nova Ren Suma

I had the absolute pleasure of reading the manuscript of The Walls Around Us. This book is stunning in its execution, a brilliant, twirling, spinning novel that when completed, made me want to give a standing ovation and throw roses at its feet. The story - told in split narrations, three years apart yet happening simultaneously - is one that grasps the reader tightly and doesn't let go until the very end. Stop what you're doing and read this book right now. You won't regret it.

ISBN-13: 9781476788005
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster, 10/2014
Ryan's February 2015 pick 

So here's the thing about Grace Helbig - yes, she's hilarious and charming and wonderful, but she's also smart and has solid advice for people trying to figure out their lives. I picked up this book because I wanted to support Grace, and I read it, knowing there would be some laughs and curious to learn more about her as a human. I was not expecting, however, to learn about myself and find myself nodding as I agreed with her very astute, very sincere advice and life tips. I found myself relating to her, empathizing with her, and even sympathizing at times. Yes, Grace is funny, but she's also human, and a beautiful one at that.

We Were Liars (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780385741262
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Delacorte Press, 5/2014

Ryan's January 2015 pick

We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

I read 100 books in 2014, and none stuck with me quite like We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.

I actively avoided reading this book for months simply because people seemed to love it so much. (Wow, I’m such a hipster sometimes). Anyway, I finally picked it up, and the premise sounded so boring and annoying. A bunch of rich kids hang out on their private beach in their family’s mansions on the Cape, and discover secrets. Ugh. It sounded so pretentious and awful. Then I read it. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that the sounds that came out of my mouth when I finished this book were barely human. I made some sort of screeching pterydactyl sounds, then paced the room like a lion, then stared at my fiancé, desperately wanting to scream out the ending, but only able to mouth the words, “OH MY GOD” and "HOLY WHAT" and other colorful phrases. Needless to say, my opinion of this book changed rapidly. Trust me on this: read We Were Liars, and when people ask you about the ending, just lie.

Winterspell (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9781442465985
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9/2014

Ryan's December 2014 pick

Winterspell, by Claire Legrand

Winterspell is a dark, sexy, twisted steam-punk version of The Nutcracker. Clara is whisked off to another world with her statue-turned-human prince (hint: he's the Nutcracker in this scenario) to fight off a sometimes-evil-sometimes-sweet seductive queen to save the day and her father and her strange godfather. There's magic and mages, there are fairies and humans, there are battles and destruction and friendships and love and lust and longing.

This is unlike any Nutcracker you've ever read.

The Quick (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780812993271
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Random House, 6/2014

Ryan's October 2014 pick

The Quick, by Lauren Owen

I'm a Halloween junkie, so naturally I had to pick a spooky book for October. While I have several classic favorites, (The Exorcist, Frankenstein, Dracula) this year I had to pick Lauren Owen's The Quick. This novel reminded me a lot of Dracula, but with slightly easier language. Set in 1800s London, the narrative is spliced between a few different characters as they navigate the horrors of something they refuse to name. It's a creature that we recognize, and become even more intimately familiar with. (Don’t worry, these "horrors" don’t sparkle). The Quick is chilling, fascinating, and completely captivating - not unlike its' main villains. Maybe read this one during the day when the sun is out and creatures of the night are sleeping…

ISBN-13: 9781476763163
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Touchstone Books, 6/2014

Ryan's October 2014 pick, 2 of 2

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet

If you haven't yet discovered the brilliance that is the web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, check out the whole online multi-platform experience here.

" The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a modernized adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” told through original episodic video and multiplatform storytelling."

Now read The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet, Lizzie's personal diary that takes you behind the scenes of Lizzie's Vlogs and into the lives of the Bennet sisters in a way that would have made Jane Austen proud.

ISBN-13: 9780062290366
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper, 7/2014
Ryan's September 2014 pick
The Queen of the Tearling, by Erika Johansen
So you like fantasy, medieval adventures, strong female characters, and post-apocalyptic future dystopias? Look no further! The Queen of the Tearling has all that and more!

Landline (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9781250049377
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: St. Martin's Press, 7/2014

Ryan's August 2014 pick

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

The author of Attachments, Eleanor & Park, and Fangirl has done it again. Landline is Rainbow Rowell's latest adult novel about a magic phone and a marriage on the brink of collapsing completely. Georgie McCool discovers an old landline phone in her closet that can make phonecalls into the past. She uses this phone to talk to her husband back when he was still her boyfriend, with the hopes of salvaging her marriage or perhaps preventing it from happening in the first place. Landline is laced with heartache and humor. Rowell's characters are teeming with life and love and personality. The writing is rich and expressive, pulling you into the story and tugging at your heartstrings the whole way through. Oh, and keep a sharp eye out for a cameo from a couple of characters from Fangirl.

Robogenesis (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780385537094
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday, 6/2014

Ryan's July 2014 pick

Robogenesis by Daniel H. Wilson
If you liked Robopocalypse, you’ll love the sequel, Robogenesis. This one takes place immediately where the first one left off, just as the New War is ending; except things aren’t exactly as they seemed, and the true war is really just beginning.
Daniel H. Wilson flaunts his robotics degree and makes the impending robot uprising even scarier and more conceivable than ever. Now please excuse me while I lock up all of my electronics and begin fortifying my apartment for the Robot War that is probably in the very near future.

ISBN-13: 9781476738963
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Simon & Schuster, 6/2014

Ryan's June 2014 pick

We Are Called To Rise, by Laura McBride

A young war veteran, an 8 year old immigrant, a volunteer social worker, and a woman who’s just found out about her husband’s affair. What do these people have in common? Well, they’re all from Las Vegas. And they all have a story to tell. Their stories just happen to intertwine.

This is a wonderful, heart-wrenching story about life, loss, trauma, and love told in four distinct voices.

Far From You (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9781423184621
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Disney-Hyperion, 4/2014

Ryan's April 2014 pick

Far From You by Tess Sharpe

Sophie Winters, a recovering drug addict, survives a brutal attack only to discover that her best friend, Mina, has been murdered. Using an interesting non-linear tactic, the book switches from past to present in alternating chapters as the reader attempts to solve the mystery alongside Sophie. Not only does Sophie desperately want to solve Mina's murder, she must also prove to her friends, family, and the police that she is still free of her addiction and had nothing to do with Mina's death. This book takes a hard, realistic look at the dangers of addiction in the context of a really good mystery.

ISBN-13: 9780590353427
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Arthur A. Levine Books, 10/1999

It's March, and we're all mad here, so you know what that means...
Book Madness is back!

Out of Print Clothing's annual Book Madness is a Bibliophile's version of March Madness! In their own words: "Book Madness is our take on college basketball’s popular tournament known as “March Madness”. In the past, books were matched up against each other and our fans voted on who advanced to the next round until only one book was left standing. Past winners were To Kill a Mockingbird in 2011 (Classics), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in 2012 (21st-century fiction) and 1984 in 2013 (Sci-Fi/Fantasy)."

This year's theme is Hero vs. Villain! Instead of novels pitted against each other on the bracket, there are 32 Literary Villains and 32 Literary Heroes going toe to toe.

I filled out my bracket as best I could (each year I find that there are several more books I need to add to my queue, and this year was no different) and somehow wound up with Harry Potter (Hero) vs. Lord Voldemort (Villain), both from the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling. I swear, I didn't plan it that way even though I am very aware of the odds against Potter beating out Beowulf. Hey, there have been bigger upsets in Book Madness History before.
Ultimately I chose Voldy as the winner because, well, Potter is heroic, but he was sort of an accidental hero, and really, he probably couldn't have done it all by himself. If not for Hermione and Ron, he never would've survived the first book. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, on the other hand, straight up committed mass genocide, was a cult leader, and tried to murder a baby. So, yeah. He's a pretty bad dude. You can see my completed bracket below!

We've got a Book Madness display up, so you can check it out and perhaps find something great to read that you've never considered reading before. Also, you can fill out your own bracket online and vote each week for your favorites here!

My staff pick for the month is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to celebrate my own personal pick!
May the best Hero or Villain win!

The Office of Mercy (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9780143124375
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books, 1/2014

Ryan's 1st February 2014 pick
The Office of Mercy
, by Ariel Djanikian

A world completely devoid of suffering, hunger, inequality, and death sounds pretty ideal, doesn't it? Utopian, even. However, as Natasha Wiley begins to discover, things may not be quite as perfect as the elders would have everyone believe.

Djanikian's scifi novel guides us into a realistic, plausible utopian society where the founders will do just about anything to preserve their perfect way of life. And it does seem perfect - eternal life, no suffering, equality...But some things are too good to be true.

This book is a great next read for older fans of "The Hunger Games" and "Divergent".

Strega (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9780615897745
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Mink Publishing, 12/2013

Ryan's 2nd February 2014 pick

Strega - Karen Monahan Fernandes

This YA novel has everything that I love in a story: Strong female character who bonds with other even stronger female characters, witches, magic, evil, and lots of backstory.

Imagine you’ve been having nightmares your whole life. Your parents were murdered, then your grandmother was murdered. The nightmares have only gotten worse. Now your nightmares are slipping into reality. That’s what’s happening to Jay, and she’s not super stoked about it. As she works to figure out what is going on in her life, Jay slowly begins to uncover secrets about her life, and her past lives. Yes, you read that right. Past lives. See, Jay is a descendant of the Strega, the world’s first witches, and there are demons after her. It makes high school kind of a drag when your family has been murdered and you’re next on the hit list.

I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just say that I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down, and I’m now waiting not-so-patiently for the sequel.

I loved Strega a lot. I thought the writing was great, I felt for the characters, and I was pleasantly surprised with the way things knit together as the story went on. This is Karen Monahan Fernandes’ debut novel, and I am looking forward to her future works.

It’s perfect for lovers of the supernatural, and it’s got enough action and adventure to keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time. Oh, and did I mention it’s set in New England? (Yep, Karen is a local!) Seriously. Trust me on this one, guys. Check out Strega

Excerpt (Chapter III, p 11):

My pulse quickened along with my pace.

    It’s just a dream. It’s not real.

Maybe it was a burly football player stumbling home from Sovana’s after a pitcher of beer, I thought to myself. But the footsteps were too neat, too determined. Maybe he worked at the Inn and his shift just ended, I tried to reassure myself. But the terror didn’t leave me no matter what I told myself. I crossed the street with determination and made my way toward the park. Walking around it would add another ten minutes. Cutting through it like I always did would get me home much faster. But at that hour, its seemingly impenetrable darkness was intimidating.

    I’m being ridiculous. It is just a dream. It’s not real.

I continued to force rational thoughts into my mind, attempting to douse the flames of fear that threatened to consume me. But these thoughts were like tiny drops of water against an inferno. As hard as I tried to resist, as much as I tried to ignore it, my dream replayed in my mind.

    He is coming. I am running for my life. Knowing that I will lose.

ISBN-13: 9780670023660
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Pamela Dorman Books, 8/2013
Ryan's January 2014 pick

Every once in a while, I come across a book that sucks me in from the first page, and won’t let me go until I’ve finished it. Books like The Ocean at the End of the Lane1Q84Eleanor & Park, (read those reviews here) and others. I’m adding another one to that list: The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker. This book is like the missing link between Young Adult and Adult Fiction. It’s packed with fantasy and adventure and even a little bit of romance (not too much!) but it’s written for adults, which is refreshing. It’s nice to have another really well-written fantasy novel in the adult section.

Nora, age 29, is having a hard time being newly single and attending a friend's wedding where, surprise, surprise, her ex-boyfriend shows up. She goes for a hike early on the morning of the wedding and walks right through a portal to another world. That’s just the beginning of her whirlwind adventure that takes her through enchantments, dragons, evil queens, a nasty binding ring, and a surly magician who helps her learn some skills to keep her safe.

This book is awesome.
I couldn’t put it down, and now I can’t stop talking about it.
If you like fantasy, but you’re not really in the mood for a Young Adult novel, definitely pick up this book. It’ll satisfy your cravings, but also leave you wanting more. (And yes, I think there will be a sequel).

This is a popular one among our staff. Everyone who reads it falls in love with it and can't stop raving about it. This debut novel from Emily Croy Barker is a must-read.

Here’s a little snippet from the second chapter of the book (page 31). Nora got lost on her hike and wound up in a luscious garden where she met a beautiful woman named Ilissa who fed her, let her bathe, gave her beautiful clothes, and made her incredibly stunning before whisking her out to a party where everything is fascinatingly strange, and Nora seems to be accepting it as well as she can:
The night flowed faster and faster. Nora had a long, earnest conversation with Moscelle about Gaibon and whether he loved Moscelle or Amatol more. “Really, the way it started out, it wasn’t that serious between us,” Moscelle said. “But she’s so possessive, she’s driving him away.” Nora squeezed into a snub-nosed red Ferrari with four or five others and they went racing down narrow roads lined with poplar trees, until they had drunk all the champagne that Vulpin had brought and had to go back to the party. More dancing, then Nora wound up talking to the girl with the boa constrictor, whom she realized after a while must be Moscelle’s rival, Amatol. “I’m Nora,” she said. “Lovely to meet you,” said Amatol. “Charmed,” said the snake lifting its head from the girl’s shoulder and showing its fastidious, forked tongue.
Nora wandered out by the swimming pool with Amatol and a tall, bald black man. he had small, round Lennon glasses, and he was telling them in great detail about a love affair that he’d once had on the planet Jupiter with one of the gaseous women there, whose skin felt like silky smoke, whose kisses were explosions. “What has he been taking?” thought Nora. She looked down into the pool and saw a naked couple was making love at the bottom. They moved rhythmically, wrapped around each other like eels. Nora marveled at how long they could hold their breath.

Friday's Harbor (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9780062124210
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: William Morrow & Company, 10/2013

Ryan's December 2013 pick
Friday's Harbor, by Diane Hammond

From the author of Hannah’s Dream comes a very sweet novel about the rescue and rehabilitation of a killer whale named Viernes. The desperately sick orca is rescued from less than satisfactory conditions and taken to a zoo in Bladenham, Washington where he not only begins to recover, but actually thrives in his new home. Naturally, not everyone agrees that captivity is Viernes’ best option, and there is some controversy surrounding his rescue.


This book is great for fans of The Art of Racing in the Rain and Water for Elephants. As an orca-lover myself, I was thrilled with the tender, loving way that Diane Hammond writes about this killer whale. It is clear that they hold a very special place in her heart.


The Night Circus (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9780307744432
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor, 9/2012
Ryan's November 2013 pick
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
It's November again, and that means that once again it's time for National Novel Writing Month! Not sure what that means? It's just what it sounds like. Every November, people all over the world hunker down at their computers or typewriters or notebooks with pens, and they crank out an entire novel - 50,000 words to be exact - in 30 days. That's 1,666 words every single day for a month. To put that in perspective, last year I wrote just over 50k words, and my novel was 88 pages single spaced.
The only rule for NaNoWriMo is that it has to be fiction, and to "win" you have to write at least 50,000 words. You can certainly go well over that goal (I've known people to write 80,000 or more!), but if you don't hit that word count, you won't be considered a winner.
Winners get various prizes in the forms of discounts and coupons for cool writerly things (Last year I got 50% off Scrivener, an amazing writing program, and some other discounts for self-publishing or other writing programs). You don't have to post your writing online, in fact the only time you paste your writing is at the very end into NaNoWriMo's official word counter to "Validate Your Novel". Ultimately, NaNoWriMo boils down to a really intense writing exercise. Some writers who participate in the month-long bout of craziness do end up submitting their novels once it's all over to publishers, and some even get published. Ever heard of Water for Elephants? Wool? Cinder? The Night Circus? All published NaNoWriMo titles. Even Fangirl, one of my previous staff picks, was a NaNoWriMo project. Rainbow Rowell has said that while she added several more thousand words to her novel after NaNoWriMo had ended, everything that she wrote during the month of November stayed in the final edition. How cool!

In the spirit of NaNoWriMo, and in the hopes that I will inspire myself and other participants, this month I will be making my staff pick one of my favorite Fantasy novels of all time: Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus.
If you're a fan of fantasy, romance, and/or adventure, and you haven't read this book yet, you need to. Like, now.

The circus arrives without warning.
The black and white circus is stunning and eerie and only arrives at night. It's called Le Cirque des Rêves (The Circus of Dreams), and has a devout following of rêveurs (dreamers) who manage to find out when and where the circus will pop up next. What the rêveurs don't know is that the night circus is actually the main stage of a fierce competition between Celia and Marco, two magicians who were raised and trained by rival magicians specifically for the purpose of competing against each other. Celia and Marco don't realize exactly how high the stakes are (only one will be left standing - at least, that's the goal for their instructors). Naturally, as is wont to happen, Celia and Marco fall completely head over heels in love with one another, but despite their love, the game must go on.
The Night Circus is deeply beautiful, magical, and spectacular. I've never read anything quite like it. I highly recommend it for anyone craving something fantastical and beautiful.
“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”  

ISBN-13: 9780062094360
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Paperbacks, 10/2011

Ryan's Halloween 2013 pick

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
By far the scariest book I have ever read was William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist. Sure, I'd seen the film, and yeah, it was scary, but it doesn't even come close to the book. There's just something about Blatty's descriptions of that iconic demonic possession that chills you to the bone.
I do own a copy of The Exorcist, but it scared me so deeply after I read it the first (and only) time, that I hid it somewhere in my apartment, and I actually don't know where it is now. That will make for an interesting (and possibly scream-inducing) discovery someday.
If you're looking for a book to keep you awake this Halloween, checking over your shoulder and peering suspiciously into the shadows, jumping at every sound, then The Exorcist is for you. But don't say I didn't warn you. 
Excerpt Chapter 1:
    The following morning when Chris opened her eyes, she found Regan in bed with her, half awake.
"Well, what in the.... What are you doing here?" Chris chuckled.
"My bed was shaking."
"You nut." Chris kissed her and pulled up her covers. "Go to sleep. It's still early."
What looked like morning was the beginning of endless night.

Fangirl (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9781250030955
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: St. Martin's Griffin, 9/2013

Ryan's September 2013 pick

Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell is one of my favorite authors, and her newest novel Fangirl is rivaling Eleanor & Park for my affections! 
Fangirl is a cool, modern coming-of-age tale. Cath, cripplingly introverted, is famous. Well, sort of. Everyone in the Simon Snow fandom who has ever delved into the world of "SnowBaz" Fanfiction knows her username. Magicath, as she's known online, writes Fanfiction (stories written by fans about their favorite characters) about Simon Snow and his vampire enemy Basil (Baz), and her stories are so beloved by the fans, that most confess they wish her latest, Carry On, Simon was the real thing.

Of course, no one but her twin sister and her ex boyfriend know that Cath is the one writing the infamous Fanfiction, and now she's a freshman in college struggling to survive the new environment, all but abandoned by her extraverted twin, stuck with a roommate she has nothing in common with (and is a little freaked out by), and she's afraid to eat in the dining hall by herself. Living off of protein bars and Simon Snow, Cath shuts herself in her room and writes furiously, deterined to finish Carry On before the final volume of Simon Snow is released. Also, there's this boy she kinda likes... 
This novel is so awesome. I loved this book. It was refreshing to read about Fanfiction (especially in a way that celebrates it!), introverts in a college setting (those bits felt eerily familiar), and passion (obsession?) over a book series (that's not entirely unlike our own beloved Harry Potter). Please, please check out this book. I think you'll love it. Rainbow, as she's proven before, is able to totally capture the essence of the teenage years. There were several times when I laughed at something Cath did because it brought back vivid memories of myself doing the exact same thing. 

You know what's great about Fangirl? The characters develop. they go through realistic journeys. They have good days and bad days, and they feel realI couldn't get enough of this book, and I strongly urge you to pick it up, if only so I'll have someone else to fangirl with other than Rainbow herself.

Excerpt (pgs 50-51):
"You don't owe them anything," Wren would say, crawling onto Cath's bed at three in the morning and pulling Cath's laptop away. "Go to sleep."
"I will. I'm just...I want to finish this scene. I think Baz is finally going to tell Simon he loves him."
"He'll still love him tomorrow."
"It's a big chapter."
"It's always a big chapter."
"It's different this time." Cath had been saying this for the last year. "It's the end."
Wren was right: Cath had written this story, Baz and Simon in love, dozens of times before. She'd written this scene, this line -- "Snow...Simon, I love you"--fifty different ways.
But Carry On was different.
It was the longest fic she'd written so far; it was already longer than any of Gemma T. Leslie's books, and Cath was only two-thirds of the way through.
Carry On was written as if it were the eighth Simon Snow book, as if it were Cath's job to wrap up all the loose ends, to make sure that Simon ascended to Mage, to redeem Baz (something GTL would never do), to make both boys forget about Agatha...To write all the good-bye scenes and graduation scenes and last-minute revelations...And to stage the final battle between Simon and the Insidious Humdrum.
Everyone in fandom was writing eighth-year fics right now. Everyone wanted to take a crack at the big ending before the last Simon Snow book was released in May.
But for thousands of people, Carry On was already it.

ISBN-13: 9780316206846
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Mulholland Books, 4/2013

Ryan's August 2013 pick

The Cuckoo's Calling, by J.K. Rowling (Robert Galbraith)

Recently we found out that J.K. Rowling had written a new novel under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith: The Cuckoo’s Calling. I’m happy to say that this one is marginally less dark than The Casual Vacancy. Three months after a supermodel falls to her death from her balcony in what is ruled as a suicide, a private detective receives a temporary secretary and an unexpected client all in the same day. Private Detective Strike has been living in his office after breaking up with his fiancée, and he can barely afford the rent when the temp agency decides to send him a new secretary that he can’t afford to pay. As it turns out, she’s fantastic at her job, and has always wanted to be a Private Detective, and she’s there for less than an hour when a wealthy client demands that Strike takes his case. He is the brother of the deceased supermodel, and he is adamant that her death was not a suicide, but a murder.

I really enjoyed The Cuckoo’s Calling because it was a good mystery. Rowling is awesome at mysteries. Think back to the Harry Potter series and all of the mysteries woven throughout those, and all of the clues and hints that made sense once we knew the ending, but that we never picked up on while reading them. She’s great at mysteries, and this is just another example of her brilliance. The other great thing about this novel is that you can’t tell it’s her writing. In The Casual Vacancy, there were traces of her voice, her tone, her style. This is completely separated from her. She makes me care about the characters and the story, and I loved it. There is definitely a lighter tone in this novel, even amidst the dark circumstances. It’s just a good mystery, and that’s that.

Fiend (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780770436315
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Crown, 7/2013
Ryan's July 2013 picks, 1 of 2
Fiend - Peter Stenson
28 Days Later meets Breaking Bad in Peter Stenson’s horror novel, Fiend.
When Chase Daniels sees a little girl ripping apart a Rottweiler with her teeth, he thinks it’s just another one of his meth-induced hallucinations. But it’s not. It’s the end of the world. The Zombie Apocalypse. Oh, and the only survivors are the ones who have meth running through their veins. As if fighting the undead isn’t bad enough, the people who are still alive (at least for now) are also fighting withdrawal and fighting each other, trying to get their hands on one more hit.
Fiend is absolutely terrifying, not just because of the zombies (who giggle before they attack, by the way. Talk about chilling imagery), but because of the very real look at addiction and the consequences of it. Peter Stenson throws you headfirst into the dark, scary world of meth addiction with vivid, visceral descriptions that make you cringe. He shows you the highs, the lows, the attempted balancing, the fear, the regret, the sadness, everything.
I found myself feeling really conflicted during some parts of this novel, because Chase talks about how he was sober for a really long time, and a bad breakup sent him spiraling back into the dark, and that broke my heart, but I also realized that if he hadn’t sunk back into addiction, he wouldn’t have survived to fight off the zombies. It’s ironic and tragic wrapped up in a nightmare.
Nothing about this book is happy. It’s dark, trippy, and terrifying. It might keep you up at night.
I loved it, and I hope you will too.
Excerpt (pg 2)
I stand there. The little girl creeps back to the dog, and once she gets close enough to touch it, she does, only her touch isn’t a pat but a lunge for the rottweiler’s throat. It reminds me of this time I saw an elderly woman crossing the street, she almost made it across when a black Hummer turned right and came straight at her not slowing, and the old woman looked up in time to see her fate as an extravagant flaunting of male testosterone, and she crumpled, lost underneath tons of metal.
The little blond girl rips open the dog’s throat.
I rub my eyes.
Blood spouting like Old Faithful. Her white dress now tie-dyed, swatches of brilliant red on cotton.
I close the G.I. Joe sheets. I sit down.
I’m telling myself that it’s gone too far this time, this latest run, smoking half an ounce of scante, that I need to chill the f--k out, like KK said. I tell myself that this is it. That I will leave this house on the outskirts of St. Paul, go find something to eat, take a handful of Advil PMs, and call it a day. Call it a career in smoking speed. Never have I experienced such vivid hallucinations. Sure, tracers and voices and s--t like that, but not seeing carnage on this scale. I laugh to myself. I try to analyze my hallucination–the little girl represents innocence, and it’s probably significant that she’s blond, because KK’s blond, and that ties into innocence, because we were close to that, her and I, at least in the beginning. And the dog, maybe that’s man’s best friend, maybe it’s the natural world, maybe primal nature. And the subversion of the natural order, the child killing the dog, that’s pretty simple-innocence wins out.

ISBN-13: 9780062255655
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: William Morrow & Company, 6/2013
Ryan's July 2013 staff pick, 2 of 2

Neil Gaiman’s newest novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane  is everything I hoped it would be and more.

After attending a funeral, a middle-aged man returns to his childhood neighborhood where he finds himself reminiscing about times long forgotten, and dark memories bubble to the surface. Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide, and our protagonist found the waxy corpse laying on top of his new comic book in the backseat of his dad’s car. This event shook up his life in ways he could never have imagined. “He started this all off, like someone lighting a fuse on a firework. His death lit the touchpaper” (pg. 30).  It is immediately after the discovery of the corpse that he meets Lettie Hempstock, an 11-year-old girl, who is very mature for her age and has mysterious, whimsical ways about her. She leads the protagonist (who, at this point, I realize is completely nameless throughout the novel, allowing us to place ourselves smack into the action instead) to a world where magic and monsters reside.

This novel pulls you under the water and drenches you in myth, magic, innocence, fear, and that Gothic tone that Gaiman does oh-so-well.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane shows us just how malleable our memories are, especially as children, and that adults perhaps aren’t as wise about the world as we think they are.

I read this book in one sitting, and I kind of want to read it all over again. Reading Neil Gaiman books is like hanging out with an old friend, and this was the perfect reunion.

Take a deep breath and jump into The Ocean at the End of the Lane. See you on the other side.

Excerpt (p7-8):

The pond was smaller than I remembered. There was a little wooden shed on the far side, and, by the path, an ancient, heavy, wood-and-metal bench. The peeling wooden slats had been painted green a few years ago. I sat on the bench, and stared at the reflection of the sky in the water, at the scum of duckweed at the edges, and the halfdozen lily pads. Every now and again, I tossed a hazelnut into the middle of the pond, the pond that Lettie Hempstock had called…

It wasn’t the sea, was it?

She would be older than I am now, Lettie Hempstock. She was only a handful of years older than I was back then, for all her funny talk. She was eleven. I was…what was I? It was after the bad birthday party. I knew that. So I would have been seven.

I wondered if we had ever fallen in the water. Had I pushed her into the duck pond, that strange girl who lived in the farm at the very bottom of the lane? I remembered her being in the water. Perhaps she had pushed me in too.

Where did she go? America? No, Australia. That was it. Somewhere a long way away.

And it wasn’t the sea. It was the ocean.

Lettie Hempstock’s ocean.

I remembered that, and, remembering that, I remembered everything.

Joyland (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9781781162644
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hard Case Crime, 6/2013
Ryan's June 2013 pick, 1 of 2
Joyland by Stephen King
Equal parts murder mystery, love story, and coming of age tale, Joyland pulls you in right from the start, teasing you with bits of information that you know are important but you also know you won't understand until the end.

Devin Jones, now in his sixties, looks back on the summer of 1973 when he was 21, newly heartbroken, and working at a small carny-esque amusement park in North Carolina called Joyland. It all seems like fun and games and dancing in The Fur (the park's mascot costume) until the a friendly (nutty) psychic tells an accurate fortune in the most cryptic way possible, and the msyterious murder that took place in the Joyland Horror House in 1969 resurfaces.

Four years before Devin came to work at the park, a young woman named Linda Gray was killed in the Horror House - Joyland's only "dark ride". Her throat was slit and her body wasn't found until the next day. Her killer wore an extra shirt to catch the blood spatter, and a pair of work gloves, and he was never found even though the two of them were photographed just before the murder. Now it's rumored that the victim, Linda Gray, haunts the Horror House. Devin digs into the murder to see what he can find, even going so far as to try to see the ghost himself. Meanwhile, the resident Madame Fortuna (crazy, yet lovable psychic) may have had some actual visions that are now coming to fruition in Devin's life. So, he's got to figure out what those mean. Oh, and his girlfriend probably cheated on him, so that's good. Devin's got a lot going on in this novel, but he holds it together and shares his truly spectacular story of his summer of '73 with us.

This is Stephen King without being Stephen King. It's very conversational in tone, with hints and teases of information without giving anything away, and it's a masterfully crafted mystery. Even with the chilling presence of psychics and ghosts and murder, the overall tone is sweet and nostalgic instead of terrifying.

When I picked up Joyland, I was not expecting a story like this one. I mean, it's Stephen King - the King of Horror - so I was waiting for some full on terror in the amusement park, but it turned out to be something completely different. It's definitely unique, and I enjoyed every page. I especially liked that the murder mystery didn't even take the helm of the novel until the very end. The majority of the novel is just about Devin's summer, told by his 60-year old self, all of the tangents and sidebars included, and it's got tones of nostalgia and pride, and I really enjoyed reading it, and then all of a sudden all those little clues and hints that were dropped in throughout the first two thirds of the book start to weave together in a way that only a true master could achieve. You don't even realize you're trying to solve a mystery until the mystery is solved.

Definitely give Joyland a shot. It probably won't be what you're expecting, but you won't be disappointed.

Excerpt: page 144
I walked slowly down the double-S, thinking it would not be beyond Eddie to hear me and shut off the overhead work-lights as a joke. To leave me in here to feel my way past the murder site with only the sound of the wind and that one slapping board to keep me company. And suppose...just suppose...a young girl's hand reached out and took mine, the way Erin had taken my hand that last night on the beach?
The lights stayed on. No bloody shirt and gloves appeared beside the track, glowing spectrally. And when I came to what I felt sure was the right spot, just before the entrance to the Torture Chamber, there was no ghost-girl holding her hands out to me.
Yet something was there. I knew it then and I know it now. The air was colder. Not cold enough to see my breath, but yes, definitely colder. My arms and legs and groain all prickled with gooseflesh, and the hair at the nape of my neck stiffened.
"Let me see you," I whispered, feeling foolish and terrified. Wanting it to happen, hoping it wouldn't.

The Testing (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780547959108
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 6/2013
Ryan's June 2013 pick, 2 of 2
The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
Lookout Hunger Games, there's a new player in town, and it's name is The Testing. Joelle Charbonneau's new novel, the first in a trilogy, shares a lot of similarities with the Hunger Games, but is superior in my opinion. The Testing uses intelligence in place of violence, and while there are still deaths, they don't seem to be as unnecessary as a bunch of kids thrown into an arena to kill each other. Instead, the brightest students each year are chosen for The Testing where they go through a series of exams that include written tests on history, math, science, and english, puzzles where incorrect answers are penalized (sort out the poisonous plants...confident? Okay, eat the edible ones.), an exercise in teamwork, and finally being dropped into a different city where they need to use their skills to find their way back to Tosu City--the base of operations for the Testing.Of those who make it back, 20 are selected to go on to University where they can earn a degree and perhaps even go on to be leaders of the cities.

Students are taught that The Testing is a great honor, and they yearn for the chance to be chosen. When Cia is chosen, it's as though she's won the lottery - she'll get a chance to use her intelligence and cunning to pass The Testing and hopefully move on to University! It's her dream come true! At least, until her father drops some heavy info in her lap that The Testing might not be all it's cracked up to be.

There are some shady aspects to the whole affair, and our main character Cia recognizes them quickly, but unlike Katniss, she knows how to play the game without upsetting people. She's not a rebel, she's not a revolutionary, she just knows how to play it so she doesn't die. She'd probably be great at the game of thrones. There is a love interest, but their relationship almost takes a backseat in the story--he's more of a pleasant distraction and motivator for survival than a boyfriend, which I found refreshing.

Reading this book, I definitely recognized the flashes of The Hunger Games but it didn't bother me as much as I thought it might. Instead it felt like this was inspired by those books, but it wasn't copying them. It took a different path, one that I appreciated. I liked how intelligent the competitors were, and how some of them had very different strategies for being one of the winners. Cia is given one piece of advice: Trust no one. She has a rather hard time following that advice, though.

The Testing is a great novel for anyone 12 and up. If you loved The Hunger Games, you will adore this book. Trust me.

Excerpt (pgs 29-30):

Dad leads me over to the oak bench Hamin made Mom for her birthday and takes a seat. I sit next to him and wait for him to speak.

Crickets chirp. Wind rustles the tree branches above us. From somewhere deep in the lengthening shadows come the faint sounds of wolves and other animals prowling in the night.

After what seems like forever, Dad takes my hand and holds it tight. When he speaks, I have to lean close to hear him. "

There are things I've never told you. I had hoped to never tell you. Even now I'm not certain I should."

I sit up straighter. "Is it about The Testing?" Dad has never talked about his Testing or much about his days spent at the University no matter how many questions I've asked. For a moment I feel closer to him, knowing we'll share this experience. Then the moment is shattered.

"You should never have been chosen."

ISBN-13: 9780062104892
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: HarperCollins Publishers, 5/2013
Ryan's May 2013 pick
The School for Good and Evil has a new take on fairy tales gripped me right from the start. The story whirls and twirls, the line separating good from evil flickering. I thought the story was headed in one direction, then it twisted away and took another route entirely. The School for Good and Evil is an exceptional novel for young readers looking for their own Happily Ever Afters. Soman Chainani shows us that maybe fairy tales, and life, aren’t as black and white as they seem. Can Princesses and Witches be friends? That’s for me to know and you to find out. My favorite part about The School for Good and Evil is the way Chainani twists the ideas about beauty. Typically in fairy tales the good guys are all handsome and beautiful, while the villains are ugly. Chainani shows the readers that this does not need to be the case, and that perhaps inner beauty is more powerful than external beauty. This is a fun young adult novel with encouraging notions about beauty and kindness and stereotypes. How refreshing!

ISBN-13: 9780064405379
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperCollins, 7/1994
Ryan's April 2013 pick
If you stopped by Gibson's at any point during the month of March, you may have seen my Book Madness display. What's Book Madness, you ask? Great question! Book Madness is the Bibliophile's version of March Madness! (Don't know what March Madness is? Well, that's why Google exists!)
Each year http://outofprintclothing.com sets up a bracket, just like March Madness, and fills it with 64 of the top submitted books in the Genre of their choosing. Once it begins, people can go to their website and vote for their favorites until only one book is left!
This year's genre was SciFi/Fantasy, so I created a display with the books listed on the brackets, and even made my own giant bracket that I updated each week.
The final four books were The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling, 1984 by George Orwell, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. 1984 won it all, beating Harry Potter by about 4% of the votes.
In celebration of Book Madness, I have kept the display up with the final four as my April Staff Picks, and they are all discounted 20% through the end of this month.
Come on in and check them out. If you haven't read them, now is a great time to pick them up! I also still have the list of the original 64 books so that you can peruse those as well!
Happy Reading!

Eleanor & Park (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9781250012579
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: St. Martin's Griffin, 2/2013

Ryan's March 2013 review

Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell
A very real, very touching, very heart-wrenching story of young love. Eleanor and Park are two misfits who fall deeply in love against some odds (namely Eleanor's abusive stepfather and Park's judgemental friends) and you, dear reader, will fall in love right alongside them. Everything about their relationship is so sweet, so visceral, and so accurate that you can't help but feel what they feel. the chapters alternate between their perspectives allowing you to understand their thoughts and actions and emotions. This is a perfect romance novel, and fans of John Green will adore it. I did.
Holding Eleanor's hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.


ISBN-13: 9780525478812
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dutton Books for Young Readers, 1/2012
Ryan's February 2013 review
The Fault in our Stars - John Green
I've wanted to read The Fault in our Stars for months. Everything about it called to me: the bright turquoise cover, the heartwrenching storyline, and most especially the author. Finally, after months of saying, "I really want to read it, but I just haven't gotten to it yet..." I picked it up and I read the whole thing in one sitting. When I tell you that I couldn't put it down, I want you to understand how serious I am. I refused to stop reading until I finished the very last page and closed the book. (Figuratively, of course, as I was reading it on my Kobo Glo).
This book rocked me to the core. It may be categorized as a Young Adult novel, but trust me when I tell you that this truly is the best Novel (Young Adult or otherwise) I've read in a very long time.
John Green immediately catapulted to one of my favorite authors, and humans, of all time. He writes the teenage perspective perfectly - capturing the essence of adolescence and avoiding the childish sounding angst that most authors associate with teenagers.
John Green also brilliantly forms a relationship between the characters and the readers based in emotions as opposed to physical attraction. As a reader, you feel as though you've known these characters your whole life, which makes the heartbreak that much more real.
The Fault in our Stars is written beautifully and brilliantly. The writing is simple, and there are no extraneous words or ideas. Everything in the novel has a purpose, and works perfectly.
If you haven't yet picked up The Fault in our Stars, please do so. Whether you're a Young Adult or a Full Grown Adult, you will absolutely adore this book. Just don't forget to keep a box of tissues on hand. The main characters do meet in a Cancer Support Group, after all.
Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer. But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying. (Cancer is also a side effect of dying. Almost everything is, really.) But my mom believed I required treatment, so she took me to see my Regular Doctor Jim, who agreed that I was veritably swimming in a paralyzing and totally clinical depression, and that therefore my meds should be adjusted and also I should attend a weekly Support Group.
This Support Group featured a rotating cast of characters in various states of tumor-driven unwellness. Why did the cast rotate? A side effect of dying.

Splintered (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9781419704284
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Harry N. Abrams, 1/2013

Ryan's first January 2013 pick

Splintered - A. G. Howard

Alice in Wonderland
fans rejoice! This newest adaptation of our favorite nonsensical story takes a dark turn and a new adventure arises! This time we’re following Alice Liddell’s descendent, Alyssa, as she throws herself back down the rabbit hole in an attempt to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her mother, Alison, from insanity. However, not everything is as it seems.

As an Alice super-fan, I found myself grinning and gasping at the twisted creatures and references to Carroll’s tale. This story is different enough from the original that I didn’t feel as though I were simply reading another adaptation, but an entirely new story that happens to use my favorite book as a guide for the adventure. Naturally, this YA novel also has some teen angst that comes in the form of two beautifully dark male characters, but for once I felt as though the main female holds her own and actually grows in her independence and ability to take care of herself. She even saves her male counterparts a few times. I love the strong female character part almost as much as I love the phenomenal imagery that winds its way in and out of this narrative. A. G. Howard wrote this novel while she was working at a library, and her love of language and literature is clear in the way that she writes. Though this book is geared towards a Young Adult audience, I enjoyed every page, and I know quite a few adults who would devour it as well. Essentially, if you love Alice, then you’ll love Splintered.


I’ve been collecting bugs since I was ten; it’s the only way I can stop their whispers. Sticking a pin through the gut of an insect shuts it up pretty quick. Some of my victims line the walls in shadow boxes, while others get sorted into mason jars and placed on a bookshelf for later use. Crickets, beetles, spiders…bees and butterflies. I’m not picky. Once they get chatty, they’re fair game.

Snow White Must Die (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780312604257
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Minotaur Books, 1/2013

Ryan's second January 2013 pick

Snow White Must Die - Nele Neuhaus

A small German village is plagued by the tragic memories of a double homicide when the man accused of the crimes is released from prison after serving a ten year sentence. When another girl goes missing, the villagers take matters into their own hands. This murder-mystery-crime-thriller kept me guessing right up until the very end. The basic lesson I learned from this novel is to trust no one and suspect everyone.

Snow White Must Die is a Must Read.


“Hello, Snow White,” he said softly. Beads of sweat formed on his brow. The heat was almost unbearable, but that was the way she liked it. Before, she had always been sensitive to cold. His gaze drifted to the photographs that he had put up beside her bed. He wanted to ask her whether he could put up a new one, but he needed to save this request for the proper moment, when she wouldn’t take offense. Cautiously he sat down on the edge of the bed. The mattress sagged a bit under his weight, and for a moment he thought she had moved. But no. She never moved. He reached out his hand and placed it on her cheek. Her skin had taken on a yellowish hue over the years and now felt stiff and leathery. As always she had her eyes closed, and even though her skin was no longer as tender and rosy, her mouth was as beautiful as before, back when she still talked to him and smiled. He sat there for a long while looking at her. His desire to protect her had never felt so strong.
“I have to be going,” he said at last, regretfully. “I have so much to do.”
He got up, took the wilted flowers from the vase, and made sure that the bottle of cola on her nightstand was full.
“Tell me if you need anything, all right?”
Sometimes he missed her laughter, and then he felt sad. Of course he knew that she was dead, yet he still found it simpler to act as if he didn’t know. He had never given up hoping for a smile from her.

Syndrome E (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780670025787
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Viking Adult, 8/2012

Ryan's December 2012 pick

Syndrome E - Franck Thilliez
This book is like "The Ring" meets "CSI" meets Disturbing Murder Mystery.
I was pulled in right from the start when a man goes blind after viewing a very strange film. From there, the story grips you and pulls you along, building slowly, but holding your interest throughout. With less than a hundred pages to go, I was still finding out new information and was completely engrossed in the investigation. "Syndrome E" has more twists than a New Hampshire back road, and once you start reading, you can't put it down, because you have to find out what is going on and who is behind the multiple murders and what the heck is up with that creepy film?
I enjoyed this book a lot, written originally in France (it's a bestseller over there) and translated to English, though it is not for the faint of heart. There are some disturbing images and events throughout the story. This is definitely a thriller mystery, so if that's your cup of tea, make sure you check this one out!
Thilliez writes very simply and directly, but he is also able to grasp your attention and hold it tightly for the duration of this novel. It seemed like every single chapter had some sort of shock or revelation that kept pushing the story up towards it's climax. I definitely reccomend this novel for anyone interested in thrillers or mysteries or crime novels.


The Hobbit (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9780547928227
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books, 9/2012

Ryan's 2nd December 2012 pick

The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
Read The Hobbit before you see the film (December 14th, 2012)! I decided to reread The Hobbit before the film came out, and I'm so thrilled that I did! It was even better this time I read it! I first read this prequel to The Lord of the Rings Trilogy when I was about 10, and picking it up again years later, I found myself laughing at details I missed when I was younger. This book is perfect for children and adults alike. It's a must-read for fans of the Trilogy, and if you're planning on seeing the movie, definitely pick up your copy of the novel first!


ISBN-13: 9781935439646
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ig Publishing, 11/2012

Ryan's November 2012 pick

The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets by Diana Wagman
Complex relationships, young love, tragic misunderstandings, a kidnapping, and a giant iguana! What more could you possibly want?!

The Casual Vacancy (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780316228534
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Little, Brown and Company, 9/2012

Ryan's October 2012 pick

 The Casual Vacancy - J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling’s new book for adults,The Casual Vacancy, is a dark, intense story that centers around a small town’s reaction to one man’s sudden death. This book is NOT FOR CHILDREN. The subject material becomes increasingly bleak and grim throughout the story, including such things as drug use, sex, abuse, rape, and death.

After Parish Councillor Barry Fairbrother dies suddenly, a small town is thrust into a local war as a campaign to fill his seat creates factions within the town and some of it’s member’s darkest secrets are revealed.

This story is incredibly written and unspeakably heart-wrenching. There are no secondary characters in this story; everyone has a back-story and a major part to play, from the upper-middle class citizens fighting to remove the blemish that is “The Fields” from their precious town, to the teenagers just trying to survive each day. These characters will become your friends and neighbors and enemies as you delve into the small town with dark roots beneath it’s pretty face.

The Casual Vacancy will tug at your heart strings and leave you feeling shocked and dismayed, but also refreshed and better for having read it. Rowling’s writing style is brilliant as always, and her passion for each character and their particular story really comes through. This book is incredible, despite it’s heavy subject matter. It’s a unique story written in a way that only J.K. Rowling could accomplish.


“Disgust rose in Samantha like vomit. She wanted to seize the over-warm cluttered room and mash it between her hands, until the royal china, and the gas fire, and the gilt-framed pictures of Miles broke into jagged pieces; then, with wizened and painted Maureen trapped and squalling inside the wreckage, she wanted to heave it, like a celestial shot-putter, away into the sunset. The crushed lounge and doomed crone inside it, soared in her imagination through the heavens, plunging into the limitless ocean, leaving Samantha alone in the endless stillness of the universe.”

ISBN-13: 9780307346612
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Broadway Books, 10/2007

Ryan's September 2012 pick

World War Z - Max Brooks

A compilation of post-war vignettes, Max Brooks’ shockingly realistic novel evaluates the world wide zombie war. World War Z is not just a book about the zombie apocalypse - these stories force the reader to take a cold hard look at humanity and pose questions about what sort of person one would become in the face of such a terrifying enemy. A traitor? A fighter? A coward? A hero? World War Z is set up as a collection of interviews and stories and recollections from the survivors of the zombie war, and these form a well-rounded look at the entire war from the first outbreak to the final battle. Each vignette is a different survivor’s story and is in his or her point of view. World War Z is chilling, fascinating, and helped me prepare my zombie fighting strategy. Max Brooks has created an excellent, fun novel for those who know that zombie preparedness is crucial for the survival of humanity.

Excerpt (Chapter 7):

[“…Tomonaga begins our interview with an apology for any discomfort I might feel about his appearance. The sensei’s lifeless eyes have not functioned since his adolescence.]

…It was then that I heard the moan. I spun, tried to focus my ears. From the height of his mouth, I could tell he was taller than me. I heard one foot dragging across the soft, moist earth and air bubbling from a gaping wound in its chest.
I could hear it reaching out to me, groaning and swiping at empty air. I managed to dodge its clumsy attempt and snatched up my ikupasuy. I centered my attack on the source of the creature’s moan. I struck quickly, and the crack vibrated up through my arms. The creature fell back upon the earth as I released a triumphant shout of “Ten Thousand Years!”


ISBN-13: 9780345802934
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage, 5/2012

Ryan's August 2012 pick

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami is a 925 page novel about a woman named Aomame who finds herself in an alternate reality that shares most similarities but some drastic differences from her own 1984, and a man named Tengo who agrees to be a ghostwriter for a novel and soon notices that his reality and the world of that novel are becoming difficult to distinguish. A rather large book, 1Q84 sucks you in from the very first page, grasping your attention firmly by the collar and refusing to let go until the final word has been read and only then does it relinquish you from it’s clutches, but remains close by, smoothing the wrinkles from your shirt, reminding you of its presence and inviting you to pick it up again and again. This novel is fascinating, engrossing, compelling, and brilliant. Murakami’s writing is impeccable and unique. He blends science fiction, romance, adventure, and fantasy in a novel as intricately woven as a spider’s web.

As soon as I finished reading this novel, I gave it to my boyfriend to read and found myself reading it again over his shoulder. This book tastes good in my mouth when I read it. It’s like food for the soul; it flows along smoothly, building tension and anticipation and excitement, and never once snagging it’s plot on a rock or a twig. Murakami carefully guides his readers through the unfamiliar world, cautiously pointing out important details and slowly revealing twists and turns. He takes great care with each and every thread of storyline, weaving and tightening as he goes, until his impressive web sparkles gloriously with dew in the light of two moons.

Excerpt (Chapter One):

“It’s just that you’re about to do something out of the ordinary. And after you do something like that, the everyday look of things might seem to change a little. Things may look different to you than they did before. But don’t let appearances fool you. There’s always only one reality.”

Robopocalypse (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9780307740809
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage, 4/2012

Ryan's 2nd August 2012 pick

Robopocalypse - Daniel H. Wilson

This terrifyingly brilliant novel is comprised of a collection of transcribed data harvested by robots during The New War - Robots vs. Humans. The robots, led solely by Archos, the master Artificial Intelligence, rise up against the human race in an apocalyptic war. The transcriptions of the data shed light on the war and the heroes that rose from the ashes. This novel will chill you to the bones, and I defy you to put it down once you’ve started it. Robopocalypse dares to show humanity at it’s best: when our backs are against the walls. The novel sucks the reader into the heart of the war and even deeper into the hearts of those fighting for their lives and the lives of others. Possibly the most harrowing part of this novel is the realization that it could very well become a reality.

Excerpt: (Chapter Five - Super-Toys)

For a second, I’m entranced by the glow. Not a hint of fear is in me. The light plays off my face and, just like a little kid, I assume I’m watching something magical, a special show performed just for me.

Reaching inside the toy box, I pick up the baby doll and turn her back and forth to inspect her. The doll’s pink face is dark, backlit by the light show inside the toy box. Then, I hear two gentle clicks, as her eyes open one at a time, off-kilter.

Baby-Comes-Alive focusesher plastic eyes on my face. Her mouth moves and in the singsong voice of a baby doll, she asks, “Mathilda?”

I’m frozen in place. I can’t look away and I can’t put down the monster that I hold in my hands.

I try to scream, but can only manage a hoarse whisper.

“Tell me something, Mathilda,” it says. “Is your mommy going to be home for your last day of school next week?”

As it speaks, the doll writhes in my sweaty hands. I can feel hints of hard metal moving underneath her padding. I shake my head and let go. The doll drops back into the toy box.

From the glimmering pile of toys, it whispers, “You should tell your mommy to come home, Mathilda. Tell her that you miss her and that you love her. Then we can have a fun party here, at home.”

Finally, I find the strength to speak. “How come you know my name? You aren’t supposed to know my name, Buttercup.”

“I know a lot of things, Mathilda. I have gazed through space telescopes into the heart of the galaxy. I have seen a dawn of four hundred billion suns. It all means nothing without life. You and I are special, Mathilda. We are alive.”

ISBN-13: 9780312641894
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Feiwel & Friends, 1/2012

Ryan's 3rd August 2012 pick

Cinder -Marissa Meyer

A dark, futuristic spin on the Grimm Cinderella tale, Cinder is a YA novel with a lot of heart, courage, and defiance. Cinder is a cyborg, shunned by those who know of her metal parts, disrespected by her stepmother and stepsister, and left to deal with such normal teenage issues as the plague, a murderous alien queen, and of course, the handsome prince trying to win her affection. Cinder is the first novel in a series by Marissa Meyer (the subsequent sequels to be released beginning in 2013) and mixes the emotions of adolescence with adventure, death, and robots. “Cinder” is a spectacular dark fiction novel for young adults itching to get a new view on the classic fairy tale. There are no glass slippers in this story. Only steel feet.

Excerpt (Chapter 1):

The screw through Cinder’s angle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle. Her knuckles ached from forcing the screwdriver into the joint as she struggled to loosen the screw on gritting twist after another. By the time it was extracted far enough for her to wrench free with her prosthetic steel hand, the hairline threads had been stripped clean.

Tossing the screwdriver onto the table, Cinder gripped her heel and yanked the foot from its socket. A spark singed her fingertips and she jerked away, leaving the foot to dangle from a tangle of red and yellow wires.

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