Wednesday, 29 February 2012

February review

What a month ... I started this month not reading anything because work was so busy but I soon caught up

Books read in February
Poison Heart by SB Hayes
Heart Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne
Slated by Teri Terry
Heaven by Christoph Marzi
Jessie Hearts NYC by Keris Stainton
Beat the Band by Don Calame
The Replacement by Breanna Yovanoff (did not finish)
Anna dressed by Blood by Kendra Blake
The Duff by Kody Keplinger
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer
Ticket to Love by Marilyn Kaye
The Repossession by Sam Hawksmoor
Becoming Nancy by Terry Ronald
Bunheads by Sophie Flack
Angel by LA Weatherly (did not finish)
I'll be there by Holly Sloan Goldberg
Finding Sky by Joss Stirling
Where is Fred by Edward Hardy
The Big Adventure of the Smalls by Helen Stephens
Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby
Au Revior Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber
Forgiven by Jana Oliver

Favourite Book read in February
Slated by Teri Terry


Yyou are going to love it!! review to come nearer release date but needless to say it was awesome!!!

Favourite Book released in February
Hollow Pike by James Dawson


I went on about how much I loved this book last month ... I might have gone as far as purchasing every edition available to buy (in addition to the proof I was given) including a beautiful signed hardback edition.

Bookish Highlights of the month
  • Going to the Oliver Twisted Book Launch - it was a fab evening where I got to meet a lot of awesome people
  • Smashing my TBR pile to until 50
  • Reviewing some picture books for the first time. I got them in the post as a surprise and I actually loved them
  • Finding out I am a World Book Day Giver - very exciting!!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Review: BZRK by Michael Grant

BZRK by Michael Grant
Published by Egmont



Set in the near future, a conspiracy is afoot to create a perfect and perfectly controlled world. The Armstrong Fancy Gift Corporation is a front for the conjoined Armstrong twins, Charles and Benjamin, and the plot to create their own version of utopia.

A shadowy guerilla group known as BZRK form a nascent resistance movement. Both sides develop sophisticated nanotechnology to achieve their goals:

-The Armstrong twins develop the nanobot, a stealth device that latches onto the brains of unsuspecting citizens 

-BZRK's DNA-derived biots are deployed to search out and destroy the insidious bots.  If biots are destroyed, the brain cells of their DNA-donor also die.  Hence the name BZRK.


 ***

This review is going to be short. This isn't because I didn't like BZRK but more because I can't quite find the words to do it justice yet.

Firstly can I say that Michael Grant is probably one of the most creepy YA writers out there. The man delights in terrifying teenagers with his creepy and twisted imagination. I find myself having to read his books in the day time with extra lights on, someone else in the house, a space in the freezer to stash it if it gets too much and a pillow to hide behind. There are several times when I have to stop reading and pull myself together and am torn between not wanting to know what happens next but also needing to know what happens next. Therefore I would certainly recommend his books if you have a pretends-to-be-hard-as-nails-teenager in the family as it'll be a good test of how hard and scary they actually are.

The world in BZRK is a scary place just most people don't know it. There are two rival groups who both use nano technology to fight one another as one tries to bring down world leaders and cause chaos while the other tries to stop them. The ideas behind this story are ingenious main because they could so easily be true if not now, in a few years down the line. The whole world of biots and nanos was incredibly creepy main because the ordinary person wouldn't know they were there and doing the things they did. The descriptions of them entering human bodies was downright chilling, gruesome and all too creepy for my liking throughout the entire book but quite probably something teenagers would love as it's really gory.

I must say the villain of the piece in this story is really one to be scared of not just because of what they are able to do but also because of their physical form. the conjoined twins in this are downright sinister and scary throughout.

The pace of the story was fast paced and thrilling (would you expect anything else from a Michael Grant??) keeping you reading page after page. The story itself is set to be huge as the series progresses especially considering how the book finally ended. I am looking forward to seeing where it goes even if I do need to hide behind a pillow to finish it

Monday, 27 February 2012

Review: Goliath by Scott Westerfeld

Goliath by Scott Westerfeld
Published by Simon and Schuster



Alek and Deryn are on the last leg of their round-the-world quest to end World War I, reclaim Alek’s throne as prince of Austria, and finally fall in love. The first two objectives are complicated by the fact that their ship, the Leviathan, continues to detour farther away from the heart of the war (and crown). And the love thing would be a lot easier if Alek knew Deryn was a girl. (She has to pose as a boy in order to serve in the British Air Service.) And if they weren’t technically enemies.

The tension thickens as the Leviathan steams toward New York City with a homicidal lunatic on board: secrets suddenly unravel, characters reappear, and nothing is at it seems in this thunderous conclusion to Scott Westerfeld’s brilliant trilogy


 This review is going to be short and sweet as I don't want to spoil the series for anyone.

Goliath is the last in a series of books set in a steampunk world and follows the story of the First World War in an alternate setting.

I loved this series and this final book for several reasons as follows:

The world setting excites the historian in me. Whilst reading it I am often finding myself wanting to know more about the actual events the story is based on and stopping to go off and do a bit of research. I also loved the steampunk aspects and really enjoyed seeing the different between the world of the Darwinsts and that of the Clankers

The relationship between the two main characters is what really does it for me. I loved seeing their friendship develop over the series as they are both so similiar but also world apart due to their background. I equally loved them both in their own right and have enjoyed following both their stories and loved seeing where they finally ended up.

Despite being a beast of a book size wise I found myself powering through it quickly as  the storylines were engaging and fast paced leaving me wanting to read more and more.

A fantastic series which I'd highly recommend.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Review: Jessie Hearts New York by Keris Stainton

Jessie Hearts New York by Keris Stainton
Published by Orchard



Jessie's just arrived in New York, hoping to forget about her awful ex.

New Yorker Finn is in love with his best friend's girlfriend.

They might be perfect together, but in a city of eight million people, will they ever find each other?


 I have no idea why I left it so long before reading this book. It was a huge mistake because I thoroughly enjoyed it and am looking forward to Emma Hearts LA even more now.

Jessie is one of those fuzzy lovely books which you can devour in a matter of hours and be left with a lovely heart-warming feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Jessie is one of those characters you can't help but love. She in vulnerable and wears her heart of her sleeve. Her recent relationship with her mother hasn't been great and she's now in New York to spend time with her whilst getting over her recent split with her boyfriend.

I loved the relationship Jessie has with her best friend Emma. Had I ever had a girly best friend at that age I would have wanted her to be just like Emma.

The book is split Point of View. The other main character being Finn who is just adorable. The boy is just too gorgeous for his own good and your heart breaks a little bit for him each time you see Sam (his best friend's girlfriend) through his eyes because it is plain to see her completely and utterly adores her.

I loved the setting of this book. All the references to new York has made me what to go and visit and see it all for myself. I also loved seeing how the two main characters kept crossing over as Jessie explored New York and the role of fate involved in their meeting

What I like most about this book is the what is said about teenage girls and the peer pressure they feel to have boyfriends. Jessie had this boyfriend who she is 'getting over' but as the story goes on you start to see that actually he wasn't all that special and that Jessie probably went out with him because she felt like she should have a boyfriend. It wasn't until she met that someone special that she starts to realise this.

Don't expect an action-packed read - that isn't what this book is about. If you are looking for a enjoyable and engaging read about relationships (both romantic and platonic) this would be a fantastic place to start.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Bookcase Showcase; Author Lindsay Barraclough


Finding somewhere to write in our house was always going to be a problem; there were just so many of us in the family taking up the available space, but when my eldest went to university, the opportunity presented itself, in the form of her little room under the eaves at the very top of the many stairs. Here I have my desk and my very own bookshelf. Many of the books are for reference and research (like The Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of the Witches) an infamous treaty on witches written in the 1480s – gripping stuff) but others are very special books that I’ve carried around with me from bedsit to flat to house to (borrowed) room since I was a child. They are very precious and I like to have them near me when I’m working. You can tell I have read them over and over again because the bindings are falling apart.



On the bookshelf I keep my favourite Enid Blyton, Five Go Adventuring Again, my tatty, ancient Complete Works of Shakespeare and Jane Eyre (my old copy was in such dire straits that I received a beautiful new clothbound copy from my son for Christmas).

Lord of the Rings (‘published in one volume India paper edition 1969’) is there too, looking fairly innocuous – if shabby – now, but the label inside identifies it as the book I chose for my sixth-form prize for Music. At the time, the nuns thought it a most scandalous choice: not only was it far too lacking in gravitas to be a proper prize, but it was also – shock! horror! – a paperback. I was determined to have it, though, having read and loved the three separate hardback first editions in the school library. Since the lowly Music prize was only 23/- (£1.15p) – unlike the high-status English and Maths prizes (both £5 at least), I wanted to get as much value as I could out of the measly sum they gave me.

My absolute most favourite book as a child was The House with the Twisting Passage by Marion St. John Webb, which was first published in 1922. Jenny is sent to live with her Aunt Abby in an old rambling house (hmmm – sounds familiar?), and spends her lonely hours imagining the occupants of the empty rooms along the twisting passage. She is then sent to stay with another aunt, Aunt Emma, in her fussy little house in Putney and when Jenny returns to Aunt Abby’s.....? This book is wonderfully atmospheric. It utterly captivated me when I was little, and still does.

I also loved Andersen’s Fairy Tales. The old copy here on my shelf has no illustrations, or rather it was printed with no illustrations. As I turn the pages for the present purpose, I notice I had, aged eight or so, drawn my own pictures in the margins with a horrendously runny biro. Fortunately, I was presented with a wonderful, and subsequently much-loved book The Golden Story Book (now with no cover whatsoever, the pages only held loosely together by bits of aged glue) which includes some of the Andersen tales, beautifully illustrated by Anne Anderson, her work considerably more competent than mine. My favourite stories by Hans Christian Andersen were The Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen (which I always felt had some mystical meaning I could never quite fathom), and The Little Match Girl. The ending always made me weep buckets, but I carried on reading it over and over again. It’s a wonder the page didn’t dissolve away.

Another book which sent me into floods every single time was Heidi by Joanna Spyri, a birthday present in 1959 from my Auntie Edith and Uncle Norman. Again, the illustrations are lovely (although I notice as I look through it more liberal use of that runny biro; for some reason I thought Heidi and Clara should be wearing crowns throughout), and one picture used to get to me every time, that of Heidi throwing herself into her grandfather’s arms when she returns from Frankfurt. In fact, even today, I only have to get to the page before the picture, and my eyes start to brim over, knowing what’s coming. Not very grown up, I know, but my husband goes through the same thing when he gets towards the last page of The Railway Children.

Unfortunately, living rather off the beaten track, we had no access to a public library, but the best thing my father ever did was to buy the ten-volume Children’s Encyclopaedia edited by Arthur Mee, Volume Ten of which sits on my shelf (the rest are downstairs on the communal bookshelves). These would be considered incredibly old-fashioned and out of date by modern standards, but for me they opened up a fabulous world of history, geography, science, myth and stories, art (all the great masters in grainy black and white), ideas and poetry, including my favourite poem (yes, another weepy), The Crowning of Dreaming John by John Drinkwater, again beautifully illustrated here and introduced with the words ‘...one of the finest poems of our matchless countryside...’ (Aaaaah... I’m going again). I’ve never come across anyone else who has even heard of this poem, so it was probably written with the sole intention of becoming a delicious secret between Drinkwater, Arthur Mee and me.

Mind you, I thought nobody else in the world had ever come across the old ballad, Long Lankin, either, when I first discovered it as a teenager in this slim, dog-eared volume, The Penguin Book of English Folksongs. Without this book, I wouldn’t be sitting here today writing about the others on my shelf.

I suppose I should aim to be a little bit more mature now, but I’m still wallowing in the past, as one of the books I still read at least once a year is again an out of print, ancient thing with seriously worn binding from much use, The Widow Woman by Charles Lee, first published in 1896. For me this is a perfectly executed, funny, gentle gem of a book with such a touching little love story at its heart, and again, some lovely drawings – very short, barely two hours worth of blissful escapism.

As a cautionary measure, I am now going to share with you an embarrassing experience I endured because of another book on my shelf.

Years ago, one of my daughters was given as a present The Gashlycrumb Tinies, an alphabet book by Edward Gorey, a man who often used odd anagrams of his name as pseudonyms. We all loved the book’s weirdness so much, I decided to seek out some more Edward Gorey for the children. Looking down a list of his works, not knowing which one to choose, I hit upon The Curious Sofa as it sounded, well, curious. I duly ordered it from the local bookshop which I had frequented quite happily for many years.

A few days later, I received what seemed like a rather furtive phone call from the proprietor to say that the book had arrived. When I went into the shop the assistant was unable to find it and called said proprietor; who sidled in, whispered to her behind his hand, and directed her to a low, shadowy shelf where a few books were lined up in thick brown envelopes. Still blissfully ignorant, I took the book, breezily thanked them both and left.

Imagine my horror when, on getting home, I opened the envelope and read the cover: The Curious Sofa – a pornographic work by Ogdred Weary. Mortified with embarrassment, I immediately went and made myself a cup of strong, restorative tea, worrying that I would never be able to go into that very nice shop again.

As it happens, the book is not particularly risque at all, just a little strange... and I leave it to lurk there upon my shelf as a warning to make sure I know what I’m ordering before I order it.

As a footnote, I did go into the bookshop a few months later, and the manager seemed to have forgotten the incident entirely, or was a perfect gentleman – actually, I hope both.

I could ramble on and on, because reading books, shuffling through or dipping in and out of them is for me just the best thing there is (oh, and listening to music). I read and enjoy new books all the time but I hope it has been interesting for you to see where, for me, the pleasure of reading began. It’s an odd thing, isn’t it, that the joy of a good story, which has popped out of somebody else’s head and into yours, can remain with you all your days.

I am now taking you back down the stairs to the real world...

Friday, 24 February 2012

Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Legend by Marie Lu
Published by Razorbill


The United States is gone, along with its flooded coasts. North America's two warring nations, the western Republic and the eastern Colonies, have reached a breaking point. In the midst of this broken continent and dark new world are two teenagers who will go down in history....

Born into the slums of Los Angeles, fifteen-year old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. A mysterious boy with no recorded image or fingerprints. A boy who should no longer exist. A boy who watches over his family until one evening, when the plague patrols mark his family's door with an X--the sign of plague infection. A death sentence for any family too poor to afford the antidote. Desperate, Day has no choice; he must steal it.

Born to an elite family in Los Angeles' wealthy Ruby sector, fifteen-year old June is the Republic's most promising prodigy. A superintelligent girl destined for great things in the country's highest military circles. Obedient, passionate, and committed to her country--until the day her brother Metias is murdered while on patrol during a break-in at the plague hospital.

Only one person could be responsible.

Day.

And now it's June's mission to hunt him down.

The truth they'll uncover will become legend.


 Legend is set in future America. The world is very different from the one we know. People seems to be either very rich or very poor and a virus is spreaing through the country and killing people. The chapters alternate between the two main characters June and Day following their stories.

I will admit up until about 100 pages in I actually thought this might be a book I didn't finish. I was getting bored as nothing was happening and I found that the two voices in the book were not distinctive enough from each other which meant I got confused about who I was reading about. The main reason why I stuck with it was because I was stuck on a train with nothing else to read.

That said I am glad I stuck with it. The book hit a point where the two main characters stories merged and there was a twist thrown in that changed the whole story for me and made it really interesting.

The story from there on out threw up some really interesting ideas and so many questions were thrown up about the world the characters are living in which intrigued me.

So while I do not think this was that great a book I do think the series has the potential to be epic so it is one that I am keen to follow through to the end.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Review: The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg

The Catastrophic History of You and Me
Published by Razorbill



Dying of a broken heart is just the beginning.... Welcome to forever.

BRIE'S LIFE ENDS AT SIXTEEN: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her, and the news breaks her heart—literally.

But now that she's D&G (dead and gone), Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend has been keeping a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost—and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there's Patrick, Brie's mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul . . . who just might hold the key to her forever after.

With Patrick's help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she's ready to move on. But how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces


 The Catastrophic History of You and me was a fun and easy read which was both heart warming and sad. I enjoyed it on the whole.

The main character is reasonably easy to warm to as you follow her story from death to acceptance of what has happened to her. The story telling style is a bit like The Lovely Bones but I enjoyed this more.

For me the thing that did it for me with this book was the relationship between Brie and her D & G mentor the mysterious Patrick. He guides her through her new existence and the way they interact is really funny as he helps her to come to terms with what has happened to her.

I loved all the musical references throughout the book in the chapter headings (and I'm not someone who reads and listens to music)

I wasn't too sure of the idea of dying of a broken heart (literally) and found it almost a bit patronising and also not all that good of a message to put out to teens really. I know she counters this by saying how irrational it is but even so.

I did not like all the references to cheese. Yes your name is Brie. Yes that is a cheese. No it's not all that funny and certainly not the 50th time. (admittedly had they called her mouldy blue I might have found that funny).

The end of the book was good as Brie's story comes full circle and I liked what the author did with the people Brie had left behind.

So while not the best book I've ever read I certainly enjoyed this enough to keep reading and would be interested in future offerings from the author.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Review: Daylight Saving by Edward Hogan

Daylight Saving by Edward Hogan
Published by Walker



This is a brilliant thriller ghost story by a new name in teenage fiction. When Daniel Lever is dragged to Leisure World Holiday Complex for some "time away" with his depressed dad, his expectations are low. Daniel is overweight, he hates sport, and his father has brought along his beloved tomato plant. But soon Daniel spots a girl swimming in the fake lake. Lexi is elegant and smart, but very mysterious. Why are her bruises getting worse each time she and Daniel meet? And is her watch really ticking backwards? A dark figure stalks the pair, and as British summer time approaches, Daniel has to act quickly. Their souls depend on it.
 
I enjoyed Daylight Saving and found it to be a satifying little read.

Daylight saving is a thriller which follows the story of main character Daniel. Daniel is a likable protagonist. He has been dragged to Leisure World, a centre parcsesque holiday park where families are suppose to have a brilliantly exciting week indulging in a variety of sporting activites together and bonding over pizza in lakeside themed restaurants. Unfotunately for Daneil the idea sounds like the week from hell. He hates sports and his family has just recently been ripped apart and he is almost having to play the adult to his father who isn't coping at all with the split.

Whilst at the camp Daniel meets this girl. She is mysterious and it seems like only he can see her. As events unfold he finds himself in the middle of a thriller ghost story where it is down to him to help her survive and put her story to rest.

I enjoyed the pace of this book and loved getting to know more about the story and characters and enjoyed seeing the whole thing unfold as Daniel got deeper into the story.

Looking forward to Edward Hogan next offering for Young Adults very much indeed.

READ IT FOR THE BRITISH BOOKS CHALLENGE

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Review: Shatter me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter me by Tahereh Mafi 



Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.


***

  Shatter me was a awesome read and a fantastically different YA novel. I loved its uniqueness and am desperately looking forward to the next book in the series.

Shatter is one of those boxes where you spend a lot of time wondering what on earth is going on and while sometimes that can make me want to give up on a book in case it just intrigued me even more and made me want to know more and therefore keep reading more so I could find out.

I really liked the main character in this book. Juliette is one of those characters who you want to pick up and cuddle (maybe not literally) and help her get back on her feet because you know underneath it all is a kick-ass girlie waiting to break out.

One thing I know I loved about this book was Adam. He is so utterly gorgeous that you want to fling yourself into the story and pin him down so you could have him all to yourself. He has this great mix of being both a sexy tough guy and having a really tender edge which you see when he interacts with both Juliette and his little brother.

The writing style in this book was really interesting. The use of crossed out lines lets you really get into Juliette's head and understand what she is thinking. I really liked it as an idea and haven't seen it used elsewhere.

I loved the ending and can see that this series is set up to become something huge. I can't wait to see where it goes next.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Review: Heaven by Christoph Marzi

Heaven by Christoph Marzi
Published by Orchard



The night that Heaven lost her heart was cold and moonless. But the blade that sliced it out was warm with her dark blood...

David Pettyfer is taking a shortcut over the dark rooftops of London's brooding houses, when he literally stumbles across Heaven: a strange, beautiful, distraught girl who says that bad men have stolen her heart. Yet she's still alive...

And so begins David and Heaven's wild, exciting and mysterious adventure - to find Heaven's heart, and to discover the incredible truth about her origins. 


 Heaven is a uniquely different read. It's difficult to sum up exactly what sort of book it is as it seems to me to be a little bit of everything, a love story, a thriller and a fairy-tale all wrapped up into one.

The story itself is set in London and has this magical feel to it in an almost Neil Gaiman-esque way (to be fair I haven't read an awful lot of his stuff so forgive me if I'm talking rubbish making this comparison). It's quirky and odd with heroes and villains  and strange going ons but it works.

I loved the relationship between the two main characters David and Heaven. Heaven is this strange character who you don't quite understand at first. David mostly thinks she is mad but as time goes on he gets more and more captivated by her and her unique ways. I liked seeing how the relationship between the two develops as the story goes on.

The story starts quite slowly but later on picks up pace to break-neck speed as the adventure really kicks off and is quite chilling at times when you see what the main villains are capable of.

An enjoyable and quirky read set in a wintry cold London with awesome characters which you will love.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Review: Beat the band by Don Calame

Beat the Band by Don Calame
Published by Templar


In this sequel to SWIM THE FLY, told from Coop’s point of view, it’s the beginning of the school year, and the tenth-grade health class must work in pairs on semester-long projects. Matt and Sean get partnered up (the jerks), but Coop is matched with the infamous "Hot Dog" Helen for a presentation on safe sex. Everybody’s laughing, except for Coop, who’s convinced that the only way to escape this social death sentence is to win "The Battle of the Bands" with their group, Arnold Murphy’s Bologna Dare. There’s just one problem: none of the guys actually plays an instrument. Will Coop regain his "cool" before it’s too late? Or will the forced one-on-one time with Helen teach him a lesson about social status he never saw coming?

 Beat the Band was exactly what I was expecting after reading Swim the Fly last year. It's crude, funny and a better insight into the brain of a teenage boy that I probably needed!

The bos are back and on form. They manage to muddle themselves through a series of madcap events from coop having to join up with a social outcast to do a class presentation on contraception to them 3 boys entering a battle of the bands competition despite the fact they can't actually play any instruments.

I actually loved Coop's dad in this book and the way in which he used the boys mad-cap plans as an excuse to relive his teenage years again. I loved how he probably got more carried away than way the boys did and loved every minute of it.

The relationship that was built up between Coop and Helen was awesome. I love how Coop did that proper teenage booy thing of pretending not to like the girl who no one else likes in a  bid to to look cool even though secretly he really started to fall for her.

If I'm honest I think I prefered Swim the Fly purely because I think I liked Matt as character more that Cooper who is a bit too crude (even though he has that sweet edge) for my liking.

An entertaining laugh out loud read which I enjoyed.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Bookcase Showcase: Author Don Calame


The pictures of my bookcases below are a bit of a cheat. Most of my bookshelves are truly overflowing. Books stacked upon books stacked upon books. My favorite books, however, are neatly displayed, so it was pretty easy for me to figure out what to snap photos of. I just went around the house and looked for the tidiest shelves and clicked away. Not shown here are my hundreds of writing reference books, my photography books, my young adult shelves, my old comic books, or my piles of other literary fiction including Hemingway, Richard Ford, Richard Yates, and Ian McEwan.


I have been a huge Richard Russo fan ever since I read The Risk Pool as part of a book club I belonged to when I lived in Los Angeles. It’s funny, because when the book was chosen by one of the group members and I read the back cover I thought that I wasn’t going to like it very much. Boy, was I wrong. I absolutely loved it and have read everything Richard Russo has ever written, from his novels, to his short story collection, to obscure essays on the internet and in writing books. I really enjoy how Russo develops his characters and his settings. In fact, each one of his settings becomes a character in his books. It’s quite remarkable. I also love how he injects humor into his stories. One of the funniest books I’ve ever read was Russo’s novel Straight Man.


Stephen King is a go to novelist for me whenever I want to be thoroughly entertained. I sometimes call him my guilty pleasure but really, he’s a fabulous writer. He’s wonderful with description and character development. He spends a lot of time getting you invested in his characters so when bad things happen you really care what the outcome is going to be. Some of my favorites are ‘Salem’s Lot, The Shining, IT, and Pet Sematary. I’ve lifted quite a few writing “tricks of the trade” from Stephen King over the years. And his book On Writing is one I recommend to anyone who wants to write.


No proper bookcase would be complete without the entire works of Douglas Adams. He is one of the funniest authors I’ve ever read. There is really nothing more I can say except that the world has been deprived of many a laugh because of his passing.


I suppose my real guilty pleasure is probably ice hockey books. I am an insane fan of the game and I think maybe I was a hockey player in a former life (or will be in some future incarnation, you know, if you believe in that sort of thing). I thoroughly admit I read way too many hockey biographies for my own good.