Monday, January 31, 2011
So much for the plot. The real point here is that this is a man that I, as a reader, should hate. He has 4 wives, and he's having trouble remaining faithful even to them. Sometimes he forgets his children's names. And yet I don't hate him - in fact, I was rooting for him through all 600+ pages. Following Golden's story of hilarious situations and excruciating losses was a great experience.
Batman: Dark Victory by Jeph Loeb (story) and Tim Sale (art); graphic novel; 392 pages
I love almost everything I've read by Loeb, so I was really excited to stumble across a Batman story by him that I hadn't read. Unfortunately, this was so close to one of this other works, that I may as well have.
This is the sequel to Loeb's fantastic The Long Halloween, which follows a series of killings through a year in Gotham (the killer only strikes on holidays). The story is set early in Batman's career--only a year or two after Frank Miller's Year One storyline, so it contains some milestones, like the creation of Two-Face. In what I'm coming to see as his trademark, Loeb tries to cram as many of Batman's villains into Halloween as possible, with appearances from the less well-known foes only after the famous ones have had their walk-on. Dark Victory is meant to be the following year, when Batman is a little more experienced, but it wound up feeling like a rewrite of the Halloween storyline. Once again, a killer is striking on holidays, and Batman takes most of a year to track him down. Again, all the major players are here, and I found myself wondering how, exactly, this was different than the first story. I'm glad I read this--it was entertaining, and was an interesting take on Robin's origin story--but it felt more like a reread than fresh material. I do recommend reading the spin-off Catwoman: When in Rome between this volume and The Long Halloween, as it ties the two arcs together quite nicely.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
My mom always tells me that an important rule to live by is that anything I wouldn't do when I'm sober, I should probably steer clear of when I've been drinking as well. Well mom, if you're reading this, I am pleased to tell you that you're wrong. After playing a drinking game to Edgar Wright's brilliant film adaptation of the Scott Pilgrim graphic novel franchise (you drink every time someone references the numbers 1-7, anytime someone says "ex" or "exes", and every time there's a video game reference), I had an argument with my friends about reading the books. Being the pretentious book-snob that I am (I believe it comes with being an English major), I have always firmly believed that graphic novels weren't books at all. I believed that adult nerds wanted an excuse to be able to read comic books without being socially rebuked and thus the graphic novel was born. I expressed this opinion and was met with painfully cliche "don't knock it 'til you've tried it" opposition. Suddenly this argument changed from an attack on Scott Pilgrim and the graphic novel to an attack on me. If I was this fancy-schmansy student of the written word, why hadn't I ever bothered to pick up a graphic novel before? Not wanting to have my literary cajones demeaned any further and being 12 beers to the wind, I decided to do what many would do in a similar situation and ran to the nearest computer to request the first Scott Pilgrim volume online.
One hangover and a greasy breakfast later, I was beginning my Sunday shift at the circ desk when I noticed that the book had already been put on hold for me (kudos to the Sunday shelving staff...now that's what I call swift service). I debated putting the book back on the shelf. My friends weren't around to judge me and I could pretty well count on the convenient memory-distorting qualities of alcohol to ensure that my dignity could remain intact if I didn't want to read the book. Instead, something inside me decided to give it a shot. Now, a mere 2 hours after my shift ended today, I have finished the first volume and I am HOOKED.
O'Malley's drawing style may seem simple and almost childish at first. This was the first characteristic of the book I noticed, because I always assumed that graphic novels were just a series of incredibly detailed and elaborate frames loosely clinging together with a weak story. O'Malley's simple style acts merely as the medium for telling the hilariously gripping tale of Scott Pilgrim, an ordinary 23-year old Canadian bassist whose life is turned upside down when he falls for the mysterious Ramona Flowers. Enamored with Flowers, Scott must endure the Herculean trial of defeating Ramona's Seven Evil Ex-Boyfriends in order to win her affection. While this may seem lame on its own, throw in plenty of pop-culture and nerd-culture references and some kick ass comic book violence and you've got one heck of a read. Hopefully by the time someone's read this, I will be nose-deep in volume two. If you haven't read them, take my advice and don't be a snob like me...while Scott Pilgrim certainly won't become a literary heavyweight like Crime and Punishment, it is certainly a crime not to at least give this series a try, and the punishment is that you're missing out on a truly awe-inspiring story.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
I wasn't that impressed with the last volume of this series, but I gave this another shot, mostly because I'm still enjoying the library love. This is the story of Iku, a member of the Library Defense Force--a paramilitary organization that fights for protect libraries from the strict censorship of the government. This volume takes a more serious turn than the others, and ends on a dark, "to be continued" note, which caught me off guard. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
The story opens with our heroine, Iku, being her normal, klutzy self, and her supervisor on the Library Defense Force berating her. The first few chapters here are the same light, breezy fare as the previous volumes: lots of romantic tension between Iku and Dojo, some more background on the characters, and some humorous mix-ups. The story turns about halfway through, when the troops are called out to defend a museum's manuscript collection from being confiscated by the government. The second half of the book is more of a war novel, and as I said, the ending is wide open. If this is setting the tone for the next volume, I guess we can expect something darker.
This had beautiful photos, and I'm sure the recipes would result in delicious (and impressive) salads, but if I have to use a dictionary to read a cookbook I figure I'm not going to find the ingredients in Schnuck's.
This book is the next one up for discussion in the "Treehouse Book Club" for 4th-6th graders. It is book one in "The Last Apprentice" series. Twelve year old Thomas Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son. He is set to become the apprentice of Old Gregory who is called "The Spook." It is the job of a Spook to deal with ghosts, boggarts, witches, and other spirits that are causing problems. Thomas is the thirtieth apprentice to attempt the job of ultimately taking Gregory's place. Nine of the previous apprentices died while trying. Thomas must prove his worth as an apprentice by dealing the evil, blood-sucking witch, Mother Malkin who was freed by his own mistake. When the witch threatens his own family Thomas must succeed or lose everyone who is dear to him. The scratchboard illustrations add to the dark and creepy atmosphere.
This series was originally published in England and called "The Wardstone Chronicles" with this book titled The Spook's Apprentice. Personally, I like the original titles better. There is also talk of a movie with Alex Pettyfer in the starring role.
Friday, January 28, 2011
Firelight by Sophie Jordan; young adult, fantasy, romance; 336 pages
I'm not sure where I got the idea that this was a readalike for Graceling (by Kristin Cashore). It's not. It's still a great book, but comparing it to Graceling would be comparing apples and oranges, so I'll leave Cashore's books out of this review.
Firelight is the story of Jacelyn; she's a draki, a race descended from dragons, who can take human form to hide from the hunters that are a constant threat. Jacelyn is encouraged to do a lot of hiding, because she's the first draki in centuries to be able to breathe fire, and her people want her kept around as long as possible. Of course, none of that sits too well with a headstrong teenage girl, and it isn't long before Jacelyn, her mother, and her twin sister Tamra find themselves fleeing the wrath of the other draki in her pride. They take refuge in a small desert town, hoping the heat and dryness will kill off the dragon part of Jace's nature, while Jace desperately searches for a way to keep her draki side alive in the barren environment. She finds it in Will, a boy at her school with whom she shares a strange connection, and who seems to make her draki side come alive--so alive that Jace can barely keep her human disguise around him. The only problem is that Will comes from a family of hunters, and they cannot know about her people's ability to change form...
This book had a very Twilight-y feel to it, with the star-crossed lovers, love-at-first-sight theme that runs SO strongly throughout. In fact, the breathless romance tended to overwhelm most of the other story elements, until it felt like the only thing going on. That's not to say it wasn't a compelling read--I tore through it in about two days--but it's definitely more about the characters and emotions, not the plot. In fact, I advise that you not think about the plot too hard while reading--it doesn't hold up to scrutiny very well. Overall, this is a fun, light read, clearly intended to be the first in a series. Just make sure you're looking for a romance, not a detailed fantasy novel.
Check our catalog
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Twelve-year-old Abilene Tucker, the daughter of a drifter, jumps a train at Manifest, Missouri in the summer of 1936. She does not know why her father sent her to stay with Pastor Shady Howard except that it was the town that he left years earlier. Over the summer she pieces together his story and discovers a local mystery. Vanderpool weaves humor and sorrow into a complex tale involving murders, orphans, miners, and bootlegging. The author struck gold with her first novel for children, but I don't believe that it is destined to live on as a favorite medal winner. This dense historical fiction novel drags a bit and will require a dedicated reader to stick with it.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
I have always been a huge fan of stand-up comedy, and I used to think that any stand-up comic who was even remotely educated could write a decent book if they really put their mind to it. Patton Oswalt (if the name doesn't ring a bell, look him up on google or imdb--- you'll recognize him) is an example of a college educated comic who I thought could write an amazing book since he is an avid reader himself....Unfortunately, I couldn't have been more wrong.
Oswalt's book is a compilation of stories from his childhood, tales from the beginning of his stand-up career, and random entries that Oswalt believes will be funny. Oswalt is a nerdy comedian, which I really appreciate, because I also come from that strain of human that transformed nerdy awkwardness into insightful humor. Unfortunately, Oswalt's humor doesn't transfer from stage-to-page. One of the most annoying devices Oswalt constantly uses is the footnote**. There is a footnote at least every three pages or so, and by the end of the book, I was questioning whether these footnotes were an annoying habit or Oswalt's attempt at a joke to bother his readers.
My final issue with the book was that it wasn't that funny... Patton Oswalt's comedy is usually upbeat with the occasional depressing comic thrown in. With his book, Oswalt seemed like he was trying more to comment on humanity and his own journey in a sentimental way instead of a funny one. At the beginning of the chapter for which the book is named, (Zombie, Spaceship, Wasteland) Oswalt says "maybe this chapter wasn't written as much for you as it was for me". I would argue that this is actually the case for the whole book.
I must admit, though that there is occasionally a funny moment, and if you have the patience to sort through all the pseudo-intellectual trash, you will find the occasional diamond in the rough. Otherwise, this book really isn't worth your time.
**While I have no problem with the occasional footnote, some of his footnotes take up half the page and break up the story in a really awkward way that leaves the reader asking "Was that really necessary?"
Batman: Greatest Stories Ever Told, by various authors; graphic novel; 192 pages
For all that I profess my love of Batman to any and all who will listen, I admit that I haven't read much predating the 1980s story arcs. Reading this was an attempt to correct that, and it had mixed results. On the one hand, it was fascinating to see not just how the character has changed over the years, but the format of comics as well. I hadn't known, for instance, the 1930s comics crammed several tiny stories into a single issue, or that Batman's origin story was so minor in the original series. On the other hand, I have to be up front and say that some of these stories, however "classic" they may be, were really, really hard to get through. Some of the original Bob Kane stories are included here and, while this may permanently revoke my nerd cred, I have to say I wasn't impressed. Was it really necessary to remind us that Selina Kyle is Catwoman every other panel?? To be fair, there were some good entries here, too, but most of them are later additions to the series. I can't say I enjoyed any of the golden- or silver-age material. On the up side, I do have a better understanding of my comics history, and I can appreciate just how much the genre (and the readers?) have changed over the last few decades.
Check our catalog
This is not really a sequel to the story of Dewey, the kitten found in a library book drop, who lived out his life in the library and befriended the patrons & staff. There are some anecdotes about Dewey. Most of the stories are about others who had their lives affected and/or changed by a cat or cats in their lives. Most of the stories are sweet, many sad, and many amusing. Some of the cats, like Ninja, were real characters. Others were just cute & cuddly and gave their owners the love they needed at just the right time. Cat lovers will enjoy this book.
One thing the book made me realize was how much the ruler of my house, Maddie Cat, did many of the same things for our family when I was going through cancer treatment.
The newest book by Paton Walsh featuring Dorothy L. Sayers' sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey, his wife Harriet Vane the mystery writer, and their assorted family and friends. This one is set several years after the end of World War II, and is as much about the changing social mores and expectations as it is about any mysteries to be solved. We start off with a quite lengthy flashback to Peter's first case, which coincidentally ends up tying into a current problem. As with the previous book that Paton Walsh did with these characters, I enjoy the historical setting greatly, and find the idea of how these particular characters would cope with post-war situations interesting--but the characters end up a bit flat, which just makes me want to go re-read the original Sayers books. The characters aren't badly done, by any means, but they lack the spark that was present when Sayers wrote them.
Check our catalog
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Jack Hogan and Buzz Rucci are in the Navy...Jack is climbing the ladder quickly, Buzz at a more realistic pace. You get the feeling Jack is destined for great things...until the politics of the military starts in on Jack and derails his career. This brief summary sounds so serious and yet this book is closer to hilarious. The way things work and the way people talk will make you feel like you are on the carrier with them. I took a look at the customer reviews on Amazon.com and the quantity of retired military who LOVED this book is a testament to the realistic way the odd reality of the military (really a problem in so many large organizations) works/does not work. I would love to read more by this author but this is his only book so far. - Christa
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Once, long ago, someone asked the question of which was cooler: zombies, or unicorns? Out of that heated debate sprang this anthology, a collection of horror, fantasy, and adventure stories from some of the hottest writers of young adult fantasy. Each story is prefaced by Black and Larbalestier, who argue for their respective teams (Holly Black heads up Team Unicorn, while Justine Larbalestier captains Team Zombie). While I don't normally like short stories (or unicorns), I have to admit that this collection had me loving almost every entry. In fact, I might have come away from this thinking unicorns are the winners (though, to be fair, I might be getting burned out on zombies). But the unicorns here aren't the glittering Lisa Frank models I was expecting (okay, one of them is, but only one!). Garth Nix's "The Highest Justice" has a unicorn actually creating zombies; Kathleen Duey's "The Third Virgin" has a unicorn who's a serial killer; I burst into tears during Diana Peterfreund's "Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn;" and let's not even go into what was going on in Margo Lanagan's "A Thousand Flowers" (side note: this is the first time I've successfully made it through a Lanagan story. I might be starting to see why so many people like her writing). That's not to say that Team Zombie didn't put in a good showing: stories from Carrie Ryan, Cassandra Clare, Scott Westerfeld, and Libba Bray were compelling reads. I did wonder why neither of the editors contributed a stories to the collection, but I felt like there was a great mix. I know I'll soon be adding the few authors who aren't already on my regular reading list to the top of the To Be Read stack. If you get the chance, check out the audio edition: each story is read by a different narrator, Black and Larbalestier read their own parts, and each story is marked with either a zombie or a unicorn sound effect, for easy skimming.
Unicorns: the next cool thing, apparently. Disagree with me? Let's hear it in the comments!
Check our catalog
Friday, January 21, 2011
I'm sure others have written about this amazing book, and since it's our UC Book Club selection currently, there are likely others out there reading it right now. But, as for me, first let me ask, "Where was Rebecca Skloot when I was struggling with freshman biology in college?" Perhaps it's the way the researcher's side of the story and the scientific background is braided with the story of Henrietta and her family, but I think it's also Skloots clear, concise, and passionate voice that makes this story impossible to leave unfinished or ever forget. I kept asking myself throughout why children aren't learning about Henrietta Lacks and HeLa cells in grade school science. Maybe now that Rebecca Skloot has done such a brilliant job of calling this to our attention, they will. In the meantime, should be required reading for everyone!
Thursday, January 20, 2011
I'm taking advantage of our snow day to finish rereading one of my favorite books of all time. Sunshine is a vampire novel, but it's not another Twilight rip-off, or even really a romance. In McKinley's world, vampires really are the bad guys, and it's only a matter of time before they take over, and drive the humans (and the less threatening Others, like Weres and half-demons and magic handlers) to extinction or slavery. Sunshine, our main character, doesn't dwell on this too much. She's the baker at her family's coffeehouse, and so she spends most of her time worrying about dough consistencies and dreaming up new recipes for cinnamon rolls. Until one night, when she's captured by vampires, and imprisoned with another of their kind...
I won't go into too many details from there, because this book isn't as much about the plot as it is about the strange relationship Sunshine finds herself in, and the fascinating world McKinley has created. Sunshine narrates, and her voice is very unique; while she occasionally goes on tangents, it all feels relevant, like someone dishing out the latest gossip and slipping in her own commentary. It should be read slowly, and it's best read on a full stomach (Sunshine tends to go into graphic detail of the food she makes in her bakery).
Check our catalog
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
At the exclusive new school, Katie finds a soul mate, Massie, her mysterious roommate as well as easy acceptance by the in-crowd. Everyone has some kind of mental baggage and none of the adults are helpful. This is rather bleak stuff, but the characters are interesting and the ending is not sugar coated.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Monday, January 17, 2011
This is the gamemaster-oriented book for the Dresden Files rpg. It discusses various factions that characters might belong to and describes the setting of the novels--Chicago--in game terms. The bulk of the book, however, is given over to write-ups of most of the characters from the novels, translated into game terms. There's nothing like reading lots of stat-blocks to teach you a system's rules for character building! And since I'm pretty familiar with the novels, it's also intersting to see how a particular character translates into stats. As a side effect, it's making me want to re-read a lot of the novels, especially the earlier ones.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
This is an earlier novel in the series about art restorer and part-time Mossad agent/assassin Gabriel Allon. Allon is called away from an important art restoration job in Venice to investigate the murder of his friend and one-time partner, Professor Benjamin Stern. Stern was murdered and the book he was working on was stolen. Allon must find out what was in the book that caused Stern's death and find the killer. What he uncovers is a secret hidden by the Vatican since World War II, a plot to assassinate the pope and a secret society called Crux Vera. In the process Allon must outwit a notorious assassin known as "The Leopard."
While the plot of this thriller is good, it is not as tightly written as others in the Gabriel Allon series. I was disappointed in the author having his highly skilled operative make an uncharacteristic stupid mistake in order to get the story where he wanted it to go. It is interesting that Silva's book about a secret Roman Catholic society came out around the same time as Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code. Even more interesting than that coincidence was the note in the Acknowledgments about an altercation between an ABC reporter and then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI). This kind of stuff could almost make one believe in conspiracy theories.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
When I picked up Justin Halpern's Sh*t My Dad Says, I can admit that I didn't believe that I was going to finish it. I have been a fan of the popular Twitter account from which the book was spawned since its rise to fame in the fall of 2009, but I didn't believe that the crude, surly, albeit clever one-liners of Halpern's 73 year old father could expand into a whole book (even a short one). I can now say that I was pleasantly surprised.
For those unfamiliar with the Twitter site, some background information must be provided. The author, Justin Halpern, a 26-year old writer moves to San Diego to take a new job writing for Maxim magazine and move in with his girlfriend. Immediately upon arrival in San Diego, Halpern's girlfriend dumps him, leaving him with no place to stay except with his parents who are both in their 70's. Halpern's mother is normal enough but his father, a retired radiologist is quite the character. The elder Halpern provides sage-like advice to his son in the form of crude one-liners such as:
"That woman was sexy...Out of your league? Son, let women figure out why they won't screw you. Don't do it for them!"
"The worst thing you can be is a liar. . . . Okay, fine, yes, the worst thing you can be is a Nazi, but then number two is liar. Nazi one, liar two."
These and other hilarious quotes paint a vivid picture of a relationship between father and son that will not only make you laugh your ass off, but also extract a few "awwwwww"s from even the toughest of guys (myself included). The format of Halpern's book works perfectly considering the material he has to work with. Some quotes require that a short story accompany them to explain the quote, so Halpern alternates between telling a story about his father and then listing 2-3 pages of quotes that require no explanation, a format that works extremely well and breaks up the material in a way that makes for excellent short-burst reading (perfect for someone who only gets to read for small periods between errands or...hypothetically, of course, a library employee who reads in between helping patrons at the circulation desk). While I wouldn't pick this book up if you are expecting anything deep or extremely involving, it is an excellent book to have on the side to pick up every once in awhile.
Friday, January 14, 2011
Hornby's latest is not his best. It's okay. It has amusing, touching, and entertaining moments--not all at the same time but I kept thinking there could have been more. Annie & Duncan live in a small English seaside town and have been a couple for 15 years. During the entire time a third person has been an integral part of the relationship. The third person is Tucker Crowe, a Dylan-like musician with a cult following who disappeared 20 years before. Duncan lives and breathes all things Tucker Crowe, running a website for other rabid fans and embarking on pilgrimages to locations supposedly important in the musicians life and career. Annie & Duncan split and Annie finds herself in an on-line friendship with non other than the missing musician who has lived the past 20 years in multiple marriages & relationships and fathering children by a string of different women. When Tucker arrives in England, Duncan must learn to deal with the truth about the man he has been fanatical about for so many years.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
This entry has a particularly lame plot, so I'll skip recapping it--except to mention that at one point it involves a character crawling around the swamp in a stuffed alligator suit. With a zipper. When I can't enjoy the action or the plot, I focus on the cultural details of the story. In this one there's a fair amount of airplane travel. I wish I knew more about 1930's commercial airline standards, because a plane some minor characters take is described as having wicker seats and a parachute provided for each passenger! At another point they're driving fast--60 mph--in a car with the windscreen down, and since the passengers don't have goggles they have difficulty seeing due to the wind (except for Doc, of course). Why on earth wouldn't you put the windscreen up, then? Am I missing some significance here?
First appearance of: Doc's thin-walled capsules of anesthetic gas, scattered about for bad guys to step on. "Brain operations" as part of the treatment turning criminals into upright citizens.
Brown is the discoverer of Eris, the Kuiper belt object whose size caused the discussion that led to the vote "demoting" Pluto from its planetary status. He's a charming narrator, which makes this book a lot of fun to read. His scientific explanations are always quite clear; no reader should be intimidated by any perceived difficulty of the topic. I was particularly interested by the section where he describes the controversy over who discovered the object later named Haumea. His discussion of how scientists--at least, those in his area of study--determine when to announce discoveries, and the factors that go into deciding why, how, and when to make those announcements, is fascinating. Also, many of the bits he discusses about his personal life are hilarious. My favorite is his description of trying to determine whether his wife was actually in labor or just "cramping" (her vote was for cramps): "I plotted some graphs."
Check our catalog
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Before I say anything else, let's just get this out of the way...Justin Cronin's The Passage has vampires in it. Now before you ignore the rest of this post because you are as sick of vampires as I am, let me say a few things on the subject: None of the vampires in Cronin's post-apocalyptic epic sparkle in the sunlight or fall in love or conscientiously object to the drinking of human blood. Cronin's vampires are brutal, feral, and 100% deadly. Although Cronin's undead antagonists are constantly referred to as vampires (as well as jumps, smokes, dracs, virals and many other nicknames) they seem a lot more like zombies (a genre that still has quite a bit of life left in it, no pun intended). I don't think Cronin's intention was to hop on the Twilight bandwagon, because he doesn't even mention vampires in the blurb on the jacket (a fact I am happy about, because I probably would've thought of the book as another lame Twilight ripoff if he had).
Cronin's The Passage is the a brilliant epic spanning a hundred years that paints a very vivid picture of humankind in its struggle against the overwhelming odds of a vampire infestation. The first 200 pages deal with the cause of the infestation (a virus that is released from a government facility) and the origins of one of the story's protagonists, Amy, a young orphan girl with a mysterious past.
Suddenly, the story completely changes pace and the timeline shifts almost 100 years into the future after the vampires have eliminated or turned most of humankind. The story after this point reads the same as many post-apocalyptice dystopian novels that have come out before it. The narrative changes to a story about a misfit band of survivors on a journey to save humanity from the dangers of the vampires and the virus that spawned them. Although this type of story may seem overused, I believe that it is Cronin's storytelling that truly sets this epic tale apart. Plenty of end-of-chapter cliffhangers and flashbacks that act as exposition for a variety of Cronin's very detailed characters (which fans of the TV show Lost will definitely enjoy) contribute to making this the best story I've read in a long time, if not ever.
For those of you who haven't read it yet, pick up a copy. The book is excellent, and although it is extremely long, the gripping prose will keep you reading and screaming for more when you read the last page. Luckily, there will be more, because Cronin has said that The Passage is only the first in a trilogy, the second, The Twelve is scheduled to be released in 2012.
The Bards of Bone Plain by Patricia A. McKillip; fantasy; 336 pages
I love all things Patricia McKillip. Her writing style is very dreamlike and figurative--so much so that it's sometimes possible to lose track of the action, but at that point I'm so lost in the poetry of her prose that I don't care anymore.
I've read most of McKillip's books, and this one was heavily reminiscent of my favorite, The Alphabet of Thorn. Bards is two linked stories: In one, a student researches ancient legends for his final paper, and slowly becomes obsessed with Nairn, the mythic bard who cannot die. In alternating chapters, Nairn's real story is laid out--his rise to fame, his obsession with a forgotten language, and the epic contest whose loss cursed him forever. The story isn't something to be read quickly, but savored in small portions--a chapter or two at a time. The prose is beautiful, as always.
If you love Robin McKinley's books, or C. J. Cherryh's fantasy novels, give McKillip a try.
Check Our Catalog
I stumbled across this graphic novel in the library catalog while looking up a different author named John Dunning (The Bookman's Wake, etc.). The premise was intriguing--a laundromat manager receives word that his estranged father has died and he must come claim his inheritance, a spooky old house. He arrives and the creepy stuff starts happening involving a crystal ball & a bunch of sideshow freaks from a carnival. The artwork is suitably dark and spooky and well suited to the story. The large format resembles a rather dark picture book. The problem with it is there is so much more that could have been done with the story. Too many details were introduced and not expanded on. I was left with the feeling that the authors just got tired of working on it and decided not to flesh it out.