Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

I absolutely loved this book, and highly recommend it.  It is an unflinchingly dark, funny and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

At seven minutes past midnight, 13 year old Conor wakes up to find a monster outside his bedroom window.  But it isn't the monster he's been expecting--the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments.  The monster in his backyard is different.  It's ancient, and wild.  And it wants something from Conor--something terrible and dangerous.  It wants the truth.

This book stems from the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd (whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself).  It is a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

Profoundly moving and expertly crafted, the tale is enhanced by atmospheric and ominous illustrations that surround the text--softly caressing it in quiet moments, and in others rushing toward the viewer with a nightmarish intensity.  It draws on elements of classic horror stories to delve into the terrifying terrain of loss.  It tackles the toughest of subjects by refusing to flinch, meeting the ugly truth of life head-on with compassion, bravery, and insight. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bookshop at the End of the World

Arizona Public Media profiled Winifred Bundy's Singing Wind Bookshop, a 37-year-old, windswept "book lover's haven [that] sits on a ranch with no paved road or parking lot, no website, no advertisements--and no shortage of customers," largely because of its "expansive and eclectic collection, much of which is about the Southwest." 

"It's mostly subjective--whatever I like," Bundy said. "Over the door is finance, and I truly believe all of that is fiction... and here's women's experiences in the West, which aren't fiction, I promise. Here's Hillerman hardcover, Hillerman softcover. Indians in the Southwest, Indians outside the Southwest... the Jewish Western experience--that's extremely important... short Californians--that's the size of the books, not the people--and tall Californians... bad men and bad ladies, shoot-'em-ups... and the Mormons are up over the window."

Bundy, now 81, observed that the "people I meet are more important than anything else. They could be your neighbor, or a Japanese tourist. Honestly, I think I get more out of this than anyone else."

Oprah of the Piney Woods

The Houston Press, in an interview and profile, has called her the Oprah of the Piney Woods.  Kathy Patrick owns Beauty and the Book, is founder of the Pulpwood Queens Book Club, author of The Pulpwood Queen's Tiara-Wearing, Book-Sharing Guide to Life, organizer of the Girlfriend Weekend, and is a popular speaker at dozens of book festivals.  Okay, I admit it, she is pretty darn cool.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Make Take Murder by Joanna Campbell Slan

Scrapbooking is really big in my area.  Our library is going to have an upcoming holiday scrapbooking program that I'm sure people will really love, and scrapbooking retreats are planned once a year at our local state park.  With this in mind, I picked up the fourth book in Joanna Campbell Slan's Scrap n Craft mystery series the other day and I must say that I really enjoyed it. 

Joanna Campbell Slan is an international authority in the scrapbooking community. She is the author of over ten books on the subject, and her work has appeared in all of the industry's top magazines.  Joanna is one of the early Chicken Soup for the Soul authors, and in 2007, she co-founded Sisters in Crime's Forensic University of St. Louis.

This is a cozy mystery with a mix of humor and suspense.  When Kiki Lowenstein is dumpster diving for her lost paycheck she finds a severed leg.  She finds out that the leg belonged to Cindy Gambrowski, a customer with an abusive and violent husband.  As Kiki tries to discover who the killer is we meet an interesting mix of characters who are well developed and the writing keeps you interested and on the edge of your seat following the action.  The book includes holiday-themed projects and recipes too.  A darn good read with a surprise ending.  I highly recommend it.

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