Friday, November 25, 2011
Wow! I’m a little bit speechless right now. I knew Shatter Me was going to be good but I had no idea I would love it as much as I did. I can already tell that this is going to be one of my top books of 2011.
Juliette has been locked up for 264 days. She has been in isolation for that whole time. When Adam is thrown into her cell one day she’s not sure if she should be happy that she has company or terrified of what she might do to him. You see, Juliette can kill with a single touch. And now someone else knows about her gift and they want to make a deal with her. Will Juliette choose to become a monster and use her gift for power or will she fight back for a chance at freedom and the boy she has always loved?
Shatter Me is a new kind of dystopian novel. Sure the world is the same as a lot of others; bleak and hopeless, but that is where the similarities end. Tahereh Mafi really made dystopian her own. I don’t feel like I can compare it to another book because it was just so unique from the characters to Juelitte’s crazy ability. The first thing that came to mind when reading about Juliette’s ability though was X-Men. I loved it!
I also want to mention the romance in this book. I normally wouldn’t dedicate a whole paragraph to the romance but I have to. Adam and Juliette were so good together. Adam was so sweet and caring but also strong and protective. It was so hot! Juliette was not weak by any means but it was so refreshing to read about a guy who is not afraid to show how he feels and stand up for the girl he cares about.
My absolute favorite thing about Shatter Me was the writing. I really wanted to pull some favorite quotes but I would end up sharing the whole book. I honestly cannot pick a favorite passage because they are all so beautifully written. I actually found myself tearing up many times at the way Tahereh Mafi described how Juliette was feeling. I have never felt more connected to a character.
Overall, Shatter Me is a new favorite of mine that I recommend to everyone. I could gush about this book for days! Go check it out!
Friday, November 11, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Every character, even the ones with the smallest roles, is three-dimensional and wonderfully well-rounded. Alex, the main character, is full of spunk, fight, and quite a few snarky comments. Ellie, one of the first characters we meet after Alex, is a breath of fresh air in the gloomy atmosphere of post-EMP United States. Even through the toughest times she lightens the moods and brings out Alex’s sweeter side. Tom is my favorite character because I think everyone can relate to him in some way. He is very real and steady. No matter what, I think everyone can find someone to relate to in Ashes.
Overall, Ashes is one of the most gripping stories that I have read in a long time. This trilogy is one to watch out for. It holds a lot of potential. If the following books are anything like this one, Ilsa Bick can expect to have a lot of engrossed fans. While it may be a little too gory and intense for some younger readers, I think older YA readers will really appreciate it.
Check out http://www.katiesbookblog.com/ for other great reviews of YA novels.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Justin Torres writes in images, emotions, and fragments of childhood disguised as prose. His manner is effortless yet heavy. His scenes are equal parts lovely and painful. And his stories hold a truth that sinks into your stomach and buries itself there. We the Animals is a beautiful, heart-wrenching recollection of hopeless poverty and youthful exuberance that can only be described as brilliant.
We the Animals is a lyrical and captivating account of man's childhood, liberally seasoned with desperate nostalgia and universal appeal with a hint of urban tragedy. Torres delivers some of the most beautiful and heartfelt prose to grace a book cover in years. If you are looking for the next great American novella, this is it.
A thought-provoking portrayal of the dysfunctional family, We the Animals by Justin Torres will pull you in with the poetry of its language and hold you in a world that is as uncomfortable as it is beautiful. It's the kind of novel we all should read and has left me questioning my own understandings of love, support, and family.
The shock of Justin Torres' poetic novella about three young boys growing up in an impoverished family isn't the beatings, the abandonment, or the drunkenness, but the moments of tender love. It's the unbreakable bond between brothers that shines through the day-to-day horror of belonging to two people who became parents at fourteen. It's the stolen caress after the father's battering violence. It's the magnificent flow of Torres' language as he renders each painful scene in riveting detail. Finally, it's the sensitivity of a young boy living in home that has done everything to deaden tender feelings. This book is important as a testament of how love can endure in even the most impossible situations. Torres has captured the emotional heart of a wrung-out family in this jewel of a novella.
With deliberate style and delicate poetics, Torres invests a trio of young brothers with a worldliness steeling them against outside forces promising harm, yet leaving them ill-prepared against corruption from within. Sketching a complicated family trapped by heritage and class, Torres provides glimpses of the primal kind of love that binds them together and promises ultimate tragedy when it all falls apart.
Though it is marketed and sold as "fiction", Torres' story feels more like truth than the world outside the pages. In an observant and poetic voice, it is a telling of the classic story of three sons, narrated by the youngest. It's a book about brotherhood, coming of age, and the inevitable realization that our parents are people too. Lit by love and shadowed by pain, it is the true story of the human condition.
I think I know which book is next on my "to read" list...
Friday, October 7, 2011
Here's what they told me:
Patrick -- Lightning Rods by Helen DeWitt
What he likes about it - "I love the writing. It's probably the funniest book I've read in a couple of months. It's a satire of something I didn't think could be satirized: sexual harassment."
Brief Plot Synopsis - A man finds success in a creative solution to sexual harassment in the workplace.
Christian -- Sabbath's Theatre by Philip Roth
What he likes about it - "I love it. I like that [Roth] can take such difficult and scandalous subject matter and still keep literary and artistic integrity while writing about it."
Brief Plot Synopsis- "A guy named Sabbath who is a puppeteer on trial for obscenity. He's a disgusting, dirty old man, but he brings up a lot of philosophical questions about society."
Ashanti -- The Stand by Stephen King
What she likes about it - "It's awesome. It's a really realistic rendition of an apocalyptic kind of end-of-the-world scenario and there's some really interesting magical realism among the survivors. King always has such realistic characters, it's probably his best quality as a writer."
Brief Plot Synopsis - "Despite bans on German warfare, a government experiment of a superflu gets spread among the populous and wipes out 99% of the human race."
Nicole (our newbie!)-- Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
What she likes about it - "I really like the idea that the story is shaped around these pictures."
Brief Plot Synopsis - "A young boy discovers something strange about his grandfather's past."
Jorden -- Hark a Vagrant by Kate Beaton and Deer Hunting with Jesus by Joe Bageant
What she likes about them - [HV] "It's hilarious. It's both history and good social commentary" DHWJ - "It's really sad but also funny, and just really sobering, I guess."
Brief Plot Synopses - "HV is Kate Beaton's second collection of comics and DHWJ is about how America is poor and keeps screwing themselves by voting Republican."
Ria -- Poems by Elizabeth Bishop
What she likes about it - [Ria had some difficulty putting her feelings for Elizabeth Bishops poems into sentences that would do them literary justice] "They're beautiful and...they're just awesome. They're awesome and amazing and wonderful and she's incredible."
Brief summary of the poems as a whole - "They're mildly humorous and honest without being overly confessional."
Stephanie -- Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor (who will be here on Monday!)
What she likes about it - "There's a good lead character. It's intriguing, and leaves you with a bit of a cliffhanger. I don't like that I have to wait for the next one though."
Brief Plot Synopsis - "Mysterious teen artist in Prague leads a secret second life and discovers who she really is."
Tracy -- The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins and David McKean
What she likes about it - "The whole reason I picked it up was because of David McKean. He did The Sandman and his art is just really awesome. I love him. So far, the science is described in a way that is helpful for people like me who don't have science-y backgrounds."
Brief Plot Synopsis - "It's about evolution. Which, I know the basics of it, but the way they're describing some of the concepts are really interesting and different."
Arsen -- Contents May Have Shifted by Pam Houston and When She Woke by Hilary Jordan
What he likes about them - [CMHS] "The writing's good and she's telling her story in a very interesting, unique way." [WSW] "It’s kind of creepy. It makes me want to make sure that Rick Perry doesn’t get to be president. "
Brief Plot Synopsis - "Futuristic tale where a woman wakes up dyed red because she has been convicted of the murder of her unborn child."
Laina -- All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen
What she likes about it - "I picked it up because it’s written by someone I went to college with. It’s a little bit along the lines of Alana – it’s a twin story (though not for middle readers!) it’s gender-bending, it’s doing this ‘what is the right path for you despite social convention,’ thing, it’s science, it’s invention, and I’m finding it’s really different to read books by people you know.”
Brief Plot Synopsis - "It's a new Victorian steampunk novel. A scientifically-inclined girl goes to exclusive all boys educational institution without anyone knowing who she really is."
...and so that's what folks around the store. What are you reading?
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Thursday, August 11, 2011
On April 25th of this year the Boulder Daily Camera released an article that partially explained why the Boulder Book Store started charging for events. They did an excellent job. The problem is, so much has happened since April.
June 21, 2011 the New York Times released an article that explained that the Boulder Book Store isn't the only one charging. All across the country independent bookstores are asking customers to open their wallets and shell out a little money for some cheap, intelectual entertainment. This isn't meant to be a slight to readers, it is intended to be a way to reward customers who pay for books at the bookstore (the tickets ALWAYS act as coupons for the featured book or anybook on the day of the event) and a message to those who look at the store and then buy online.
Is $5 too much to ask? The average evening movie costs between 8 and 10 dollars, that isn't counting the extra charge for 3D. In actuallity an author event is worth paying for. It is a great date or the ideal way to pass a lazy evening.
So show your love for the local and come out and support the Boulder Book Store at author events.
Who would you pay to see at the bookstore?
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Warren: 16 years
Warren started at the bookstore because he wanted to be surrounded by books. He wanted to buy and feel and read books. He has accumulated an amazing collection since starting at the Book Store and he can't wait to actually have the time to read all that he has. Warren loves seeing what's new at the store and getting a sneak peak of what's to come. He especially loves to see what books old books are being reprinted. A year or so ago he was able to replace a copy of The Long Ships after the New York Review Books reprinted a bunch of classics. Above all Warren just loves to be with the books.
Joey: 4 years
Joey is the sidelines guy. All the cool, extra stuff in the store is here because of him. Joey started working at the Boulder Book Store because he needed a job...and he loves books. The thing that Joey loves the most about the Books Store is how coworkers. He says that they're like one big (crazy) family.
Laina: 2 years
Laina works at the store because books are in her blood. Her parents own an independent bookstore back east and her home has always been filled with books. After moving to Colorado Laina knew that the Book Store was where she belonged. Laina loves the customer service aspect of the store. She loves helping people fine the right books, the ones they came in looking for and others that they might like. Books are very therapeutic for her and she wants everyone to have that same feeling with the books they read.
Tara: 2 years
Tara used to come into the Book Store as a patron and worked across the street years earlier. For her it just made sense to come back to a place she loved. Tara's favorite thing about the Book Store is its location downtown, it's a hub for so many things. She also loves working here because of Joey.
Patrick: 1 year
Patrick started at the Book Store because of the books and the community he had already become a part of. Many people from book club already worked at the Book Store and it already was a place he belonged. Patrick loves the Boulder Book Store because it is truly a community of people who love books. The Book Story is also a place of meeting.
Helen: 1 year
Helen applied for two years before she found a place at the Boulder Book Store. She graduated with a degree in English and it made perfect sense to be surrounded by the friends that she had learned with (books). She loves being at the Book Store because of the books but she loves it for other reasons as well. The Boulder Book Store is the heart of Boulder. It is a place for meeting new people and learning new things. It is also an excellent place to meet Simon Van Booy.
Christian: Christian grew up in Boulder, this is a place where he has roots. After returning from graduate school he wanted to do something he loved and selling books was the perfect thing. Christian loves that the Book Store is a crossroads for the intellectual community and a hub for local flavor. It is a place for him to be introduced to the faces that he's seen his whole life. He has had his first conversations with people that he used to stand in line with at coffee shops or see at the grocery store. The Boulder Book Store is a place for the community to come together. At events everyone can learn and everyone can teach.
For some it was a fluke, coming in a finding a place in this big, historical building. But for every book seller and staff member, The Boulder Book Store is home. And they strive everyday to make it home for their customers too.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
"To put it in the simplest possible terms, I find writing novels a challenge, writing short stories a joy. If writing novels is like planting a forest, then writing short stories is more like planting a garden."Thus, the way he goes about writing short stories is different than his approach and attitude towards his novels, which creates a different atmosphere and experience for his readers as well. Personally, I find reading his novels akin to eating a full-course dinner, and his short stories like drinking a relaxing afternoon tea. They're both satisfying in their own way. The following are a few of my personal recommendations for Japanese short stories:
Monday, April 11, 2011
Ever been so exasperated at a company's service that you wrote a scathing facebook status about it right after you left? Ever tweeted your friends to get their input on what to buy? Yes, voicing your opinion on social media websites does make a difference, and a huge one at that, according to Gary Vaynerchuk.
Gary Vaynerchuk is a New York Times bestselling author and his new book, The Thank You Economy, talks about how critical social media is in today's cutthroat business world, how it is slowly reverting our economy to one that resembles the 'old days,' when local stores knew most of their customers on a personal basis.
He discusses how social media has brought a significant amount of power back to consumers via virtual word-of-mouth communication, and how businesses can use this to leave their competitors in the dust. He also talks about how social media can affect a company's efforts in branding itself and its products, for better or for worse.
In case you were wondering, here's a video of him defining what a "thank you economy" is:
True to what he writes, Mr. Vaynerchuk uses twitter regularly, and encourages his followers to voice their opinions on his page.
Vaynerchuk, who started off his successful career selling wine, also wrote Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion, has been featured on FOX and CNN business programs as a business expert and social media consultant, co-founded an agency that deals with branding and startups, and has spoken at conferences around the world about his business strategies.
Boulder Book Store is excited to have Gary Vaynerchuk speak about and sign The Thank You Economy at our ballroom on Thursday, April 21, at 7:30 pm. We hope to see you there!
Friday, April 8, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
As for novels that were "too old" to make the list, there are two I am particularly fond of, Anna Karenina and Les Miserables. Both written in the late 1800's, these two gems serve as examples of great prose. Anna Karenina, a novel composed of 8-part installments by Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, portrays the high-class society of Russian society with timeless romance and themes of jealousy, family, society and faith. Though it may be one of the longest novels you will ever read, Anna Karenina is worth it. The timeless characters and story still have a lot to offer in today's society, where many of the issues run rampant. We will shift our attention now to one of Victor Hugo's most important novels, Les Miserables. It is the story of strife and heartbreak of the poor in France experienced during the French Revolution. Following characters that experience love, death, prostitution, war and revolution, Les Miserables still stands today as a hallmark for human emotion. Les Miserables and Anna Karenina are similar in that they both examine the human condition, though in different extremes. The themes remain the same though one is in high society and the other in the gutters of the streets. Timeless works like these are proof that we are all essentially the same, and that feeling emotions of doubt, love, jealousy are all part of this world we all inhabit.
Many famous authors usually have one book that makes their fame worldwide. But what about the other works they wrote? For two of my favorite authors, J.D. Salinger and F. Scott Fitzgerald, I actually love the books that aren't their most famous. J.D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey is a favorite of mine, and one I think goes underrated most of the time. A compilation of two stories both published in the New Yorker, it centers on the youngest two children of the Glass family, the main subject for the majority of Salinger's work. The precocious Glass children who were once famous for their stint on It's a Wise Child (a radio show where children answered difficult questions) work through issues of society, religion and dealing with their eldest brother's suicide. For F. Scott Fitzgerald, everyone knows him for The Great Gatsby. However, I thoroughly enjoyed his debut novel, This Side of Paradise, which launched him into fame in the 1920's. This Side of Paradise focuses on Amory Blaine, a pretentious young man looking to climb the ranks of society. An interesting look at society's flaws, This Side of Paradise is definitely worth a read, as Fitzgerald's first novel is just as profound as his last.
There were also some books that I felt were unfairly left off Time's list, as they are classics in their own right. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and The Bell Jar are both widely read classics that I felt deserved to make the cut. Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a wonderful coming-of-age novel featuring the timeless heroine Francie Nolan and her dysfunctional, if loving, family. Almost a century old, Francie's tale still rings true with women and girls everywhere. And then there is Sylvia Plath, a figurehead for feminists everywhere who was also lobbed off the list with her first (and last) novel The Bell Jar. The story follows Esther Greenwood, a successful young woman completing an internship at a fancy magazine in New York City. The Bell Jar follows Esther's spiral into madness as she falls out of touch with society and the people who surround her. Profound and illuminating, it leaves readers questioning. Both of these novels prominently feature strong heroines and beautiful writing. Though written decades apart, they both still explore the human experience and open doors into different realms of possibility.
Don't forget to stop by on April 15th at 7:00pm for our "Revival of the Classics" event, featuring author Erin Blakemore!
Recommendations made by Jill, the Spring Intern at the Boulder Book Store. Need more recommendations? Find me on Twitter at @JillLovesCoffee!
Monday, April 4, 2011
Don't Worry, be different
Augusten Burroughs, bestselling author of Running With Scissors, wrote in his memoir about his older brother "Troy" in the chapter "He Was Raised Without a Proper Diagnosis." When the memoir Look Me in The Eye hit the New York Times bestsellers list a few years later, it became apparent that "Troy" was actually an alias for "John Robison."
Look Me in the Eye is Robison's personal memoir in which he tells his story of living with Asperger's Syndrome, a disease that is similar to autism, but does not hamper linguistic and cognitive development. Because Asperger's is identified by abnormal social interactions and communication, Robison lived undiagnosed until he was forty years old. Until then, he was hampered by his inability to 'fit in' in social settings, despite his intellectual brilliance and work competence. His books explain how he copes with his condition and how he became successful despite it.
Be Different continues his efforts to help his fellow Aspergians, those around them, and also other misfits by incorporating his personal anecdotes and observations with practical advice on topics related to self-identity and social ineptitude. Among the most helpful topics he covers are when to make an effort to fit in versus when to embrace eccentricity, and how to identify special gifts and use them to your advantage.
John once worked as a guitar special effects specialist for Kiss, as an engineer for a company manufacturing toys, and then set up a successful independent car repair business, but now works as a writer and speaker, and also works with Elms College and their autism and Asperger's graduate program.
For more information, you can visit his website here, which has a blog, information updates, links to his facebook and twitter pages, and resources for educators, too.
Come to Boulder Book Store on April 13, at 7:30 pm to hear John Robison talk about his new book and get your copy of Be Different signed, as well!
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Japanese modern literature is weird, and that’s a good thing.
Weirdness comes in many forms, and in the case of Japanese fiction, levels of strangeness vary from author to author. The weirdness of Japanese fiction ranges from subtle absurdity to absolute craziness and insanity.
I am most fascinated by how a lot of this weirdness is presented realistically in real world settings, played off as normal life despite having qualities that are undeniably weird.
Perhaps the best example of 'real-life weirdness' in modern Japanese fiction is found in the realistic yet fantastical works of Murakami Haruki, such as A Wild Sheep Chase or The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, in which seemingly normal protagonists meet characters with weird traits and quirks (for example, a girl whose job is to survey the hair of middle aged men for a wig company, or a man who hides among sheep while wearing their skin), and go on adventures that aren't really adventures in a traditional sense, as they don't have that sense of urgency that usually makes adventures exciting. This weirdness is narrated along with actions that are painfully normal, like cooking pasta for lunch and going to the cleaners, and this combination of abnormal and normal life makes it hard to judge whether the novel is meant to be realistic or not.
As for the completely insane, Murakami Ryu's Coin Locker Babies comes to mind. Aside from the weird premise of following the lives of two boys who were abandoned by their mothers in train station coin lockers after birth, this book is full of crazy happenings, with a love interest so weird that she has an alligator for a pet, self tongue-cutting, pregnant-girlfriend stabbing, and a mysterious, fictional destructive substance that is eventually used to wipe out the entire city of Tokyo. The weirdness is very explicit, obvious, and out of this world, yet deceptively believable because it IS set in this world, in modern Japan.
Abe Kobo wrote The Box Man, which is a novel written from the viewpoint of a man who essentially lives his life wearing a box, with holes for eyes, feet, and his mouth. If this isn't weird enough, the appearance of a few more box men and the ambiguous way the story is told (where you're not sure which box man is which, and squabbles regarding people wanting the box and wanting to become box men themselves abound) makes it weird as well. Kobo also wrote The Woman in the Dunes, in which sand becomes as much of a character as the human characters, strangely enough. Many people consider Abe Kobo to be Japan’s Franz Kafka, and that is because the weirdness of their works brings their stories to life.
Weirdness, as I mentioned in my previous post, is a good thing for novels. It makes stories interesting. It gives them a mysterious quality and an element of surprise, because you never know what to expect or just how weird it will get.
Here's a question for you: Have you read any books that were so weird that they're good?
In light of the current situation in Japan, I encourage people who wish to lend a hand but don't know what to do to visit the following websites, all of which are contributing to help those suffering from the earthquakes, tsunami, and the aftereffects here and here.