Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Fantastic Fox


Fantastic Mr. FoxFantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When the brutish Boggis, Bunce, and Bean decide to kill Mr. Fox and his family, the fantastic fox faces sure starvation if his wits aren't wily enough.

Nasty people are truly nasty in Dahl's books, and the three farmers are no exception: Bean is deaf because "his earholes were clogged with all kinds of muck and wax and bits of chewing-gum and dead flies and stuff like that." (Although my favorite Dahl villains are the Twits!) Quentin Blake lends his usual marvelous illustrations to complete the story.

If you've never read a book by Roald Dahl, you're missing out! If you love silliness on par with Shel Silverstein's poetry, Beverly Cleary's Beezus and Ramona or Betty MacDonald's Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, you'll love every one of Roald Dahl's children's books.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Wednesday Wars


The Wednesday WarsThe Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Holling Hoodhood knows that his seventh grade English teacher Mrs. Baker hates him with a heat whiter than the sun. His evidence: when he gets stuck with her every Wednesday, she assigns him Shakespeare's plays as extra reading.

Holling tells his story of growing up during the Vietnam era, when Mickey Mantle played for the Yankees, Robert Kennedy was running for president, and schoolchildren practiced hiding under their desks in case of nuclear war. But Holling has other things on his mind: fresh-baked cream puffs, a pair of embarrassing yellow tights, and being forced to read Shakespeare every Wednesday.

Holling narrates the humorous and heartbreaking events of his life with the same slightly baffled tone, proving that no era is easy to come of age in. His relationship with his family, friends, and the inscrutable Mrs. Baker are the core of the story, and they often develop in unexpected ways. Holling has to take bewildering world events, tribulations at school and trouble at home in stride, and he does it all with helpful insults from the Bard of Avon.

I may have rated this book higher except I think Schmidt fails in his portrayal of Holling's parents - particularly Mr. Hoodhood, who never does the right thing and is image- and money-obsessed. He's an unlikable caricature without a single redeeming moment. And Mrs. Hoodhood is a near nonentity in the story. It's unfortunate that these characters are given short shrift, especially in light of the well-developed characters at Holling's school, particularly the prickly Mrs. Baker.

Still, this book was a Newbery Honor book in 2008, and it's sweet without being cloying. For fans of historical fiction and realistic fiction, The Wednesday Wars may win you over.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Scanner Darkly


A Scanner DarklyA Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An undercover police officer struggles with losing his own identity as he investigates a dangerous new drug to which he himself has become addicted.

Philip K. Dick himself struggled with schizophrenia, and the book is dedicated to the friends he lost to drug addiction. That said, it's a fantastic science fiction ride that will leave you feeling sad and thoughtful by the end.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Howl's Moving Castle


Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, #1)Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When an evil Witch transforms Sophie into an old woman, the meek shop girl finds that old age becomes her. To find a way to break the curse, Sophie hires herself as a cleaning lady for the Wizard Howl, a rogue who has a reputation for stealing hearts.

This is one of my favorite fantasy novels by one of my favorite fantasy writers. Sophie is hilariously liberated by being an old woman instead of a young one, and finds she has more power than she knew. Howl is an irresistible leading man - even his vanity is somehow appealing. The supporting characters are lovable, too, from the fire demon Calcifer to the wizard apprentice Michael. Almost everyone in the story is cursed or in disguise, and all these secrets lead to a chaotic and rapid denouement.

There are several sequels, including Castle in the Air and House of Many Ways, but they only have cameos by Howl and Sophie. For more of a character who is every bit as charming as Howl, try the Chrestomanci series. Chrestomanci is an incredibly powerful magician who is also something of a dandy. (Try Charmed Life first, it's wonderful.)

I can’t end without mentioning the gorgeous animated adaptation of Howl's Moving Castle by director Hayao Miyazaki, which is one of my all-time favorite films. It's true to the spirit of the book, and has a magic of its own.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Invading the Outback


Tomorrow, When the War Began (Tomorrow, #1)Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A group of teens goes camping in the Australian bush for a weekend, and upon their return everyone they know has disappeared.

When Ellie and her friends return after a week of camping, they find that their families are missing and their empty town is being patrolled by strangers with machine guns. The teens are independent and capable (Ellie's family raises sheep and cattle, and her greatest contribution to the group's survival is being able to drive just about any kind of vehicle) and they quickly understand the stakes and make a plan to stay free and strike back.

Ellie realizes that she and the people she's known for most of her life are capable of more than they ever imagined. The jokester Homer becomes a capable leader, her friend Robyn proves heroic when she is most needed, and Ellie herself discovers that under pressure she has the necessary courage.

There are tense moments, romantic ones, and a few philosophical interludes that frankly bugged me (I would be considerably less understanding of a people who staged a violent invasion aimed at stealing my homeland, and less worried about killing people who tried to kill me - but maybe I've seen Red Dawn too often). Worst of all, there are sequels, which means I'm going to have to read six more books to find out what happens next!

I listened to this on audiobook, and the narrator was an Australian woman whose accent was great to listen to, and whose voice acting embodied Ellie just right.

For anyone who loved Z is for Zachariah by Robert C. O'Brien (namechecked by the teens of the book) or Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. The first of the Tomorrow series.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Robot War


RobopocalypseRobopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When the omnipresent robots begin slaughtering their human masters, a small group of survivors scattered across the world use their wits to fight back.

Cormac Wallace is a soldier who saw the war firsthand: from Zero Hour when smart cars began running people over in the street to the final battle to destroy Archos (Robopocalypse's Skynet). Wallace finds an archive of records made by Archos and pieces together stories of the people who ensured human victory over "Old Rob" (soldier slang for "robot"). This frame didn't always work logically, and the stories rely on a great deal of coincidence, but that didn't stop me racing through the pages.

Daniel H. Wilson is a roboticist who wrote How to Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion, so he's got killer robots on the brain. This solidly written novel pulls you into an iron grip and moves fast - I finished it in a day and my attention never flagged. There is a real tension as the survivors recount the eerie first days of the war, when trusted machines became the Enemy - parts of this could accurately be labeled horror.

The style and construction of the book are reminiscent of Max Brooks' World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. (And strangely enough, Brooks wrote his own survival guide for his particular brand of apocalypse: The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead. I guess great minds do think alike.)

And lest you think that Wilson is a complete anti-robot alarmist, the last section of the book has a surprise element that the robot-loving Asimov would have approved of (and in fact wrote about in the short story "Robot Dreams").

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Redshirts


RedshirtsRedshirts by John Scalzi
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When Ensign Dahl is assigned to Intrepid, he quickly realizes that there is trouble on the Universal Union's flagship - something that has raised the mortality rate on Away Missions, but only for newcomers....

This spoof of badly-written TV science fiction follows a group of ordinary crewmen who quickly figure out that their lives are cheap and that being on an Away Mission (or decks 6-12 during a battle) might mean their brutal and meaningless deaths. For those of you living in a cave, a "redshirt" is the term coined by geeks to describe disposable crewmen who die on Star Trek away missions to raise the stakes for the heroes.

Redshirts has its moments of humor, but plot-wise it feels lightweight. No real surprises here. As a fan of several Star Trek shows, I appreciated the many inside jokes aimed at lazy TV writers, but I wish the solution found by Scalzi's redshirts had been cleverer and less lazy.

The biggest problem for me was the challenge of keeping track of the main characters, who are referred to by their last names and remain two-dimensional.There are few descriptions, and everything about Intrepid and its crew feels too generic to justify the characters' insistence that they are real people, too.

If you like your sci-fi sardonic and meta, you may also enjoy Year Zero by Rob Reid.

Oh, and as for ice sharks being completely ridiculous, Scalzi should have read this Wikipedia article.

Just sayin'.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Bravest Traitor


The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & TreacheryThe Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery by Steve Sheinkin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Before his name became synonymous with traitor, Benedict Arnold was one of the heroes of the American Revolution, and without his reckless courage the Colonies' rebellion may have ended at Saratoga.

George Washington once wrote of Arnold "The merit of this gentleman is certainly great. I heartily wish that fortune may distinguish him as one of her favorites." He was once a byword for bravery, the quintessential American patriot and man of action - but Arnold had his enemies, and earned every one of them with his narcissism, social ineptitude, and quick temper. He was a man with great gifts and fatal flaws.

Sheinkin knows just how to tell a story, and he paints a vivid portrait of this notorious general. If we are not exactly sympathetic to Arnold's treachery, at least we understand what led up to it by the end of this compelling history, which ends with this story:

"If you visit the Saratoga battlefield, which is now a national park, you may see a very strange monument, one that perfectly symbolizes Arnold's place in the United States. It's tucked away off the main path, near tour stop number seven, the spot where Arnold led his final charge as an American general. It's a small stone sculpture of a lower left leg. No person, just a tall boot.

"A plaque reads: 'In memory of the most brilliant soldier of the Continental Army who was desperately wounded on this spot, the sally port of Burgoyne's Great Western Redoubt 7th October, 1777, winning for his countrymen the decisive battle of the American Revolution.'

"Nowhere does the monument mention the name Benedict Arnold."

- p. 306-307

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Theodicy


The Sparrow (The Sparrow, #1)The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Father Sandoz, the sole survivor of a Jesuit mission to an alien planet, grapples with his faith as he reluctantly confesses the disastrous consequences of meeting "God's other children."*

This is a book you have to allow to sink into your brain and heart, where it will certainly take root. It is a character study of Father Sandoz and his closest friends as well as a chilling first contact story of the impossibility of entering a truly foreign culture without suffering from dangerous ignorance and misunderstanding.

I admit to feeling impatient with Sandoz as he mopes and avoids telling his story (which is recounted VERY slowly in parallel flashback chapters, told in third person), but by the revelations at the end I was completely on his side - the horrors he suffered are every bit as soul-shattering as his reticence suggests.

Russell sees no conflict between religion and science, and for this I am profoundly grateful: her characters encompass a range of belief (from priests to atheists), but each person is educated, intelligent, and articulate. The Jesuit mission on Rakhat is to learn, not to proselytize, and the portrayal of the priests is human and sympathetic.

There are no other books quite like this one, but science fiction does have more than its fair share of thoughtful books about first contact by brilliant writers: Contact by Carl Sagan, China Mieville's Embassytown, A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin...I could go on.

SPOILER(ISH)

P.S. There are traces of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine here, too, for anyone who remembers the Eloi and the terrifying Morlocks.

* This annotation was a joint effort by students, created in class for "Adult Reader's Services" taught by Nancy Pearl (Spring 2013).

Monday, April 15, 2013

Three Free Books

The Book of Snobs by William Makepeace Thackeray
This is a collection of weekly columns for Punch, written in 1848. Thackeray takes on the social issues of his day in these satirical pieces, looking at every class of snob. One of my favorite books is Vanity Fair, and I think you could see the themes of skewering the self-important there, too. (Seriously, I heart Becky Sharp.) Some of the references he's making are obviously based on his own day's gossip and news, so an acquaintance with Victorian England would serve a reader well.

No Name by Wilkie Collins
Two young women are suddenly orphaned, disinherited, and driven from their home. Forced to make their way alone, one sister opts for the hardships of a governess' life and the other for revenge - her only weapons her beauty and wits. Collins wrote some of the first-ever detective novels, and I have high hopes for his Victorian revenge novel starring wronged women making tough moral choices. It was considered immoral in its time - but then again, so was holding hands before marriage.

The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard
This is the account of Robert Falcon Scott's expedition to the South Pole, as told by one of only three men who survived the journey. (The perfect companion to Francis Spufford's I May Be Some Time: Ice and the English Imagination.) Cherry-Garrard uses excerpts from his diary to puzzle out the reasons for the failure and joins the search party to recover his companions' bodies.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Superfluous Man

A Hero of Our TimeA Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pechorin is the kind of bastard you can't help but have a crush on. These five short stories provide a glimpse into the character of the "Superfluous Man", a kind of bored, over-educated and privileged dilettante (shades of Dorian Gray) who had nothing to do but torment others.

Her Last Book


Enchanted GlassEnchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Andrew's grandfather leaves him a house, he also inherits other, unexpected responsibilities: querulous servants, a magical territory, and the care of Aiden, a young boy who shows up one day in desperate need of protection.

For fans of Chrestomanci and Howl, Andrew is a magician professor with as much on his plate as either of the other magicians Wynne Jones writes about. And what kid wouldn't want a dog like Rolf or a friend like Groil?

I have always enjoyed Diana Wynne Jones' fantasy stories, and this book is no exception. Funny and charming, the characters are uniquely likable creations, prickly in all the right ways. The ending felt unexpectedly rushed, and I feel sure that if the author had lived longer, she would have written a sequel.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Wonderstruck


WonderstruckWonderstruck by Brian Selznick
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

As a boy in Minnesota in 1977 and a girl in New Jersey in 1917 both search for a place to belong, their quests take them on parallel paths to New York City.

Ben's story is told in words, while Rose's story is conveyed through beautiful pencil drawings. The drawings are the strongest part of the story, the written sections are only so-so. The parallel plots felt contrived because of the reliance on dreams and coincidence.

That said, there are interesting references to the American Museum of Natural History, cabinets of wonder, and American Deaf culture - plus a great bibliography and the author's story at the end. Unfortunately, Wonderstruck just doesn't hold up to its promising style and subject.

Fans of E.L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler will find hidden references in the text! And of course, fans of Selznick's style should most definitely check out The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which was made into the movie Hugo by Martin Scorsese.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Ceci n'est pas une pipe


EmbassytownEmbassytown by China MiƩville
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Avice Benner Cho is a human from Embassytown, a frontier outpost inhabited by Ariekei, whose singular Language can only be spoken by genetically modified Ambassadors. When a new Ambassador is sent to the Ariekei, his attempts to speak the perplexing Language results in devastating consequences for the entire planet.

This book takes about half of its length to warm up, but once the groundwork for the complex universe has been laid out the plot zips to its tense conclusion.

A basic knowledge of the language theory of sign/signifiers may be helpful to understanding the plot - but then again, maybe not. The alien Language, looked at too closely, is completely impossible but must be accepted at face value for the machinery of the plot to turn. There are plenty of puns and linguistic quirks (Avice's initials are ABC, after all), which is fun. I especially liked the way Language is written (like fractions, since it must be spoken by two mouths simultaneously), the naming convention for the Ambassadors (CalVin is an Ambassador made up of two perfectly identical people: Cal and Vin), and the idea of "biorigging"(basically all Ariekei tech are living machines).

There are plot points that don't quite pay off - Avice's friendship with a mysterious autom (a computer intelligence), and her odd relationship with her husband seem half-baked. Characters don't drive this science fiction story: ideas do, and the mystery of how the new Ambassadors could possibly eff up an entire species just by speaking their own language to them. The Ariekei are appropriately alien (I imagined them as giant praying mantises), but - like most of the characters - difficult to empathize with.

If you're into big-concept science fiction and don't mind struggling with disorientation as you try to figure out the rules, I think the ideas are interesting enough to carry you through. There is real horror and dread as Embassytown falls apart in the last half, and Avice's sense of the world ending is not an understatement.


(SPOILER)

Friday, April 5, 2013

East of the Sun, West of the Moon


EastEast by Edith Pattou
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When a white bear offers to help her family if she will come away with him, Rose finds herself traveling farther than she ever expected to go - all the way to a cold place east of the sun and west of the moon.

This is a retelling of the Norwegian fairy tale "East of the Sun and West of the Moon." Rose's journey to the enchanted castle and then to the frozen north retains the fairy-tale simplicity and strangeness of the original while being grounded in the real world of 16th-century Norway. I love polar journeys, and Rose's travels in Gronland with the Inuit woman Malmo was my favorite part (and a scaled-down version of the journey in the science fiction novel The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin).

There are plenty of YA fairy tale retellings to choose from, and authors like Donna Jo Napoli and Marissa Meyer are easy to find and will satisfy anyone seeking readalikes for East.

I would also encourage anyone who enjoys the folk tale "East of the Sun and West of the Moon" to check out one of C.S. Lewis's less-known works, Till We Have Faces, which is a beautiful, moving retelling of Psyche and Cupid.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Penderwicks


The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting BoyThe Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The four Penderwick sisters descend on the estate of Arundel for their summer vacation and find friendship and adventure around every hedge.

The sisters are each distinct and lovable; although they sometimes squabble their bond is unbreakable. They easily welcome Jeffrey Tifton, the lonely son of the estate's owner, into their group--though the same cannot be said for Mrs. Tifton, Jeffrey's snobbish and distant mother, who seems intent on ruining everyone's fun.

For fans of light-hearted family adventures or nostalgic summer vacation tales like Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome or Joan Aiken's Armitage family stories (collected in The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories).

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Love They Sought


Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky: A London TrilogyTwenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky: A London Trilogy by Patrick Hamilton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

At the Midnight Bell, a quiet struggle embroils the hearts of three people: Ella the barmaid loves Bob the waiter, and Bob is hopelessly in love with Jenny--a prostitute with worries of her own.

This is a trilogy comprised of three novellas: The Midnight Bell (Bob's story), The Siege of Pleasure (Jenny's story), and The Plains of Cement (Ella's story) as these three unfortunates struggle against their fate in the backdrop of 1930s London. Hamilton has a gift for characterization, and each of the three vertices of the failed love triangle display his virtuosity at getting into the heart of each character.

Hamilton's side characters are something to behold: the denizens of the bar where Bob works, the two spinsters who employ Jenny, and Ella's pushy suitor feel like people Dickens might have written about, and the humor they bring relieves some of the bleakness of the main stories. His writing is gorgeous, witty, and sympathetic to these anguished souls.

Summaries:

Monday, April 1, 2013

March: Books Bought, Books Read

Continuing my Hornby "Stuff I've Read" emulation, I'm keeping a list of all the books I read in a month, and the ones in progress, as well as the ones I purchased. Considering how long it's gotten, it may be a better idea to break it up by week when it's this busy!

Books Bought in March

From the UW Bookstore's Spring Sale:
Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language by Steven Pinker - I love books about language, reading, and writing.
Mantissa by John Fowles - Ever since The French Lieutenant's Woman I've been meaning to read everything he ever wrote.
The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney - Never heard of it, but it's the story of a woman trying to solve a murder in the Northern Territories during the dead of winter - in 1867. Yep, it's hitting all the right buttons.
The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry - Magical realism, and I'm there! I still haven't found anyone to compare to Borges, Garcia Marquez, or Calvino, but I keep trying.
Anonymity: A Secret History of English Literature by John Mullan - History of literature, check. Jane Austen first published anonymously, and there were conjectures about her sex when her books were reviewed.
About A Boy by Nick Hornby - I liked the movie, I liked Hornby's essays, so I'm going to try his fiction.
The Del Ray Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy ed. Ellen Datlow - Short stories and science fiction - I grew up on Golden Age scifi short stories, and I keep looking to reclaim those reading experiences.
Memoir: A History by Ben Yagoda - Another history of literature. I sense a theme.
The Awful End of Prince William the Silent: The First Assassination of a Head of State with a Handgun by Lisa Jardine - A slim book that promises an intriguing take on history.
That Mad Ache by Francoise Sagan (trans. Douglas Hofstadter) / Translator, Trader by Douglas Hofstadter (a two-in one book, with half being the story translated from French, and the other half the story of the translation)

Nook Books:
L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy - One of my all-time favorite films, so I decided I might love the book. Noir is awesome.
Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones - I love Wynne Jones, who is unparelleled at creating unusual fantasy worlds, with tricky rules that move the story in unexpected yet satisfying ways. I've heard this is a good one.
Hyperion by Dan Simmons - I've read it before, and it's stuck with me. Time to read it again.
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card - I gave away my last copy, but now I need to prepare for the MOVIE version, with Harrison Ford as Graff, who now officially has a monopoly on awesome adventure/scifi roles!
Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson - The first of a science fiction trilogy about the colonization of Mars that sounds amazing.
Trouble in Texas by Katie Lane - Why yes, that is a shirtless cowboy on the front! Romance is a bad habit to get into.
Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Neverfall by Brodi Ashton
Darkness Before Dawn by J.A. London
She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth by Helen Castor
The Essential Works of Winston Churchill by Winston Churchill (Golgatha Press) - Reading The Wordy Shipmates got me interested in reading Churchill's histories, and this was a cheap collection at B&N.
Dunkirk: A Retreat to Victory by Julian Thompson - Another Vowell book that I purchased for its cheapness and my sudden interest in reading about Dunkirk.
Larklight by Philip Reeve - Steampunk space travel? Okay, you've got me.

And since I have NO self-control, from the indie used bookstore Magus Books:
The Box by Richard Matheson - remember the movie? There's a short story it's based on (by the guy who wrote I Am Legend, which is scifi/horror) - and for me short stories aren't that interesting unless they're science fiction.
The Faded Sun Trilogy by C.J. Cherryh - I've been searching for a cheap edition of Downbelow Station for a while now, to get into Cherryh's voluminous oeuvre, but no luck. It's not even digital! Shocking - you would think that all science fiction books would automatically converted to digital, just by virtue of their genre. Silliness aside, this trilogy will have to do as my intro to her work. It's about a dying race of aliens searching for their homeworld after human beings (! but yeah, sounds like us) have nearly wiped them out.
On Basilisk Station by David Weber - the first of the Honor Harrington series, which I hope I like since it features a strong female protagonist
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett - In case I need some literary fiction at the end of the day.
Midshipman Bolitho by Alexander Kent - I picked this up hoping it will be like Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander series, which I love.
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld - so cheap! And steampunk! I couldn't resist, and the woman who rang me up told me she loved the trilogy.
Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia by Janet Wallach - A bio of a strong woman? Yes please!

Books Read in March (reviews at links):
The Inimitable Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
Shakespeare Wrote for Money by Nick Hornby
Babymouse: Queen of the World! by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
Other People's Love Letters: 150 Letters You Were Never Meant to See ed. Bill Shapiro
The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins
The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente
Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg by Gail Carson Levine
Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart