2012 Preview: Great Anticipation (Part I)

What Not To Read: Anticipating (by date, not by level of anticipation)

The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney

Release Date: January 5

Author of The Tenderness of Wolves

Stay Awake by Dan Chaon

Release Date: February 7

Author of Await Your Reply and You Remind Me of Me

Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison

Release Date: March 6

Author of The Kiss

The Cove by Ron Rash

Release Date: April 10

Author of Serena 

Talking Pictures by Ransom Riggs

Release Date: April 10

Author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd

Release Date: April 17

Author of Restless

 A Hero for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi

Release Date: May 8

Author of The Search for WondLa

You Came Back by Christopher Coake

Release Date: June 12

Author of We’re In Trouble

The Red House by Mark Haddon

Release Date: June 12

Author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

 The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle

Release Date: August 21

WOW, what a cover!

Author of Big Machine

What Not To Read’s Top 10 Books of 2011

What Not To Read: TOP 10 of 2011

 1. The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier

The Illumination is an experience, a phenomenon, a worldwide shared moment when your pain, your hurt and your sadness radiates with miraculous light for all to see. Then there’s the journal. The written love story from a husband to his wife.changes the lives of six individuals as they pass it along and experience the glowing hurt and hope that shines from it’s pages. Kevin Brockmeier is a wonderful writer and this book is illuminating. Best of the year.

 2. What You See in the Dark by Manuel Munoz

First novel that is first-rate. Imagine the filming of the movie Psycho, complete with Mr. Hitchcock set against a grisly murder in the small town where the filming takes place– that’s What You See in the Dark. Behind the eye-catching cover is a well-written and unique story full of nuances and intrigue as a relationship goes horribly wrong. Very original and engaging.

 3. My New American Life by Francine Prose 

Lula, a young Albanian immigrant works for Mister Stanley taking care of his high school son, Zeke. Her new American life slowly shifts from carefree and hopeful to uncertain and slightly dangerous. Prose is a language magician, Lula’s voice is hilarious, introspective and sometimes fumbling. My New American Life is a  perfect satire.

 4. The Architect of Flowers by William Lychack

William Lychack is the author of one of my favorite novels; The Wasp Eater and I’ve been eagerly awaiting for something new from him. Thankfully, The Architect of Flowers doesn’t disappoint, instead  it elevates his writing composition to another level. This collection of supremely well-written and contemplative short stories explores the pull and push nature of relationships and the dark and light that highlight and contort those connections.

 5. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley

Christmas time brings a film crew to Buckshaw to  improve the continually worsening financial situation of the de Luces. During a blizzard, with half the town staying at the estate, a body is found strangled with a length of film. Flavia once again outwits everyone to solve this murder while also working in her laboratory, navigating new developments with her sisters and attempting to trap Santa. Delightful.

 6. Legend by Marie Lu 

There’s the Republic and the colonies, there’s June and Day and there’s dead Republic soldier. Muscular and taught, Legend tells a gripping story from two alternating viewpoints in a dystopian and uncertain future. June’s brother is dead and Day is the prime suspect, although nothing is what it seems. Best YA book of the year, as good as (maybe better) than The Hunger Games.  

 7. Noah Barleywater Runs Away by John Boyne

Another classic from the author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Noah runs away from home through a magical forest and meets an unusual toy maker. The elderly toy maker crafts a story that poignantly lifts the shrouded curtain and slowly reveals Noah’s reasons for leaving home. Not thinking about things doesn’t make them go away, but facing the inevitable with grace and courage can help. Have a tissue (or two) ready. 

 8. The Great Night by Chris Adrian

A modern take on A Midsummer’s Night Dream complete with heartbroken humans and magical creatures. The story starts in Buena Vista park in San Francisco and Molly, Harry and Will can only acquiesce to the magic about to envelop them. Dark, dense and delightful. The Great Night is like a tantalizing slice of Valrhona chocolate torte, once you’re done, the smile of satisfaction will be evident to everyone who looks at you.

 9. Zone One by Colson Whitehead

Are you surprised at this? Probably. Was I? Yes, a little. Zone One is a literary take on the sub-par zombie genre. It’s smart, introspective and psychologically disturbing. A pandemic has created the living and the living dead and Mark Spitz is on a recovery team to clear out Manhattan’s remaining zombie population. Most of the story takes place in Mark’s head as he struggles to come to terms with the present reality and contemplates the future. Cerebral.

 10. Miss Peregrin’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Without giving away too much, let me sum up this book with one word: creepy. Creepy story, creepy pictures and creepy characters. The result: it’s magical and haunting. You should really read this, but not after dark. Looks like there is a forthcoming sequel as well.

Honorable Mentions:
We the Animals by Justin Torres
Centuries of June by Keith Donohue
The Apothecary by Maile Meloy
The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst
 

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: Chris Van Allsburg

My favorite children’s author/illustrator (and a Caldecott favorite too), Chris Van Allsburg will be in Seattle tomorrow reading from his new collection, The Chronicles of Harris Burdick (and I have a golden ticket). The original book, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick is a collection that was published in 1984 and features fourteen black and white drawings with a title and caption. The illustrations are pure magically mysterious and are the spring board for generations of creating the story behind the drawing. In The Chronicles of Harris Burdick (27 years later), fourteen authors share their story of each drawing- including Mr. Van Allsburg. Every home library should have both copies. Perfect holiday or birthday or just because gift. Chris is also the author of The Polar Express, Jumanji and The Gardens of Abdul Gasazi among many others- The Mysteries of Harris Burdick is my favorite.

Here’s the original

What Not To Read: October 2011

WHAT TO READ

It’s been a slow reading month for me. The reason? Probably no good one other than my usual commitments. Work, gym, baking (gym and baking always go together). I’ve tried to read only things that I was sure I would love (or intensely like), so presented this month are only What to Read picks. October shouldn’t be wasted on things you shouldn’t read. As far as a November preview, watch for the new Flavia de Luce mystery on November 1.

1. The Apothecary by Maile Meloy
First middle reader book from the author of Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It (great title, huh?) is set in London in the 1950s. An American girl and her family move to London under mysterious circumstances and she meets the son of a local apothecary who isn’t by any means ordinary. An intriguing and engaging story unfolds complete with spies, a transformation, a secret mission and a small pile of salt. Maile’s brother is Colin Meloy, author of Wildwood; Maile has one upped him on this installment. Sequel forthcoming.
2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Normally, I wouldn’t feature a book like The Night Circus on What to Read. Huge critical acclaim paired with huge commercial appeal- why does the book need me to sing its praises too? Well, because it lives up to the hype. I can’t  say anything new about this book that hasn’t already been said. Marco and Celia develop a slow building (and burning) romance that is magical. Read it. 
3. The Call by Yannick Murphy
Recommended by my favorite reader Lillian. The Call is composed of a series of seemly uncomplicated log entries of a rural veterinarian that unfold in surprising and heartbreaking ways. The observations are sharp, true and inventive. AN unique take on storytelling. 
4. Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
Ben and Rose’s stories intertwine, although they occur 50 years apart in the American Museum of Natural History. The illustrations are beautiful and tell the story better than almost any words possibly could (did I really just say that?). Wonderstuck is a modern storytelling marvel. For kids and adults. 

 

     5. The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaajte
     An 11 year old boy travels aboard the Oronsay from Sri Lanka to London over the course of three weeks. During the journey a few young passengers begin to dine together and develop an unlikely connection during the voyage. Ondaajte has said the story line is simply ” A boy gets on a boat and gets off a boat. It’s the what happens while on the boat that is a deft examination of human nature.