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Not Your Mother's Book Club Blog
Books Inc., the West’s oldest independent bookstore, started Not Your Mother’s Book Club™ with one big idea: to bring the best writers in the world to the best readers in the world. And we're not REALLY a club. That's just our name, and really, what's in a name? We're actually just an inclusive bunch of PASSIONATE readers who get to hang out with the coolest authors on the scene!
We throw parties, eat snacks and read, read, read, read, read...
We also have a lot of fun ... and we invite you to join us.
I tutor a thirteen year old in creative writing, and given my job and our relationship we obviously talk about books. A lot. And we recommend each other a lot of books. And I have to admit, since she will likely read this review and will call me out if I don’t admit, that she reads far more of the books I recommend to her than I read of what she recommends to me. Which isn’t fair or right, but it’s the occupational hazard of a bookseller that you’re never reading all the books that have been recommended to you by anyone, no matter how much you respect their opinion.
After a solid year of having NOT read a few of the books she’s recommended to me, she said: “Ok, fine,” in a very adult voice. “If you’re only going to read one of the books I recommend to you,” (and here she gave me a look as if to say, ‘I’m letting you off easy, you slacker’) “You HAVE to read the Knife of Never Letting Go.”
I asked her why. “Because it’s IMPORTANT,” she said.
Well. Clearly I had to read it. Immediately.
And she was totally right.
The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first in the Chaos Walking Trilogy from British author Patrick Ness. It came out several years ago in the US, and I even remember picking it up and thinking, I really ought to read this, and then of course, not doing so. My mistake. Contained in the pages of The Knife of Never Letting Go is a story that is as exciting as it is full of literary wallop. I was constantly awed by Ness’s ability to not only move a story forward, at a desperate, thrilling pace no less, but to simultaneously endow his prose with ruminations befitting a literary (which is to say, reviewed by the NYT), adult novel.
As I read, I marveled in the echoes of authors like Cormac McCarthy or even John Steinbeck in Ness’s thematic content, and relished the emotional acuity of his narrator, Todd. And as I closed in on the end, I thought, here it is, here’s what Young Adult is: it’s coming of age. It’s got content not befitting the under 12 group. It’s upsetting, it’s relatable, it’s life affirming and it’s hopeful.
When I finished, I thought: I need to tell everyone about this book. So I hope you read it. Because that thirteen year old I tutor was right. It is important.
--reviewed by Maggie, Children's Department Director (and NYMBC lady)
OMG SO MANY AUTHORS!
Heidi R Kling
Tamara Ireland Stone
You can RSVP here!
China Miéville has won many adult fans for his intelligent & outrageously weird novels like Perdido Street Station, The City & the City, & Embassytown which is currently up for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. He also wrote an urban fantasy for middle readers called Un Lun Dun. His new book, Railsea is not so much a retelling as an affectionate parody of that bane of many a high school student's existence, Moby Dick. It is quite literary but playful, with vast molehills of imaginative worldbuilding & lots & lots of ampersands.
Railsea takes place in a distant and unrecognizable future. Humanity clings to survival beneath a poisonous upper atmosphere on rocky outcrops separated by the railsea, an ocean without waves & whales. Endless railroad tracks of mysterious origin loop & crisscross over the soil constantly achurn with enormous burrowing predators. Mr. Miéville has helpfully included his own illustrations of some of these cthonian terrors. How do you feel about naked mole-rats? Now imagine a colony of them, each one the size of a German Shepard & with the table manners of pirhana.
All sorts of trains ply the railsea; driven by steam, diesel, sail, clockwork, or good old-fashioned galley slaves. Some of these salvage buried technology from civilizations long past or incomprehensible artefacts left by alien litterbugs. Other trains hunt the giant moles and other beasts for meat and hides. Captain Abacat Naphi is famous throughout the railsea for her pursuit of the ivory-furred Great Southern Moldywarpe that left her with a cyborg arm and furious purpose. She will sacrifice anything and anyone to find and destroy Mocker-Jack, the Mole of Many Meanings.
Aboard Captain Naphi's moler, the Medes, is Sham Yes ap Shroop, assistant to the wise & gruff train's doctor, Dr. Fremlo (my favorite character). Sham is not satisfied with the excitement and adventure of moling life & moons over how wonderful a career in salvaging must be. After experiencing his first moldywarpe hunt the crew comes upon a wrecked train. On it Sham finds a camera memory card that sets him on a quest as single-minded as his captain's. Sham is physically & socially awkward, simultaneously eager & terrified of the great wide world opening up before him. His new friends, the Shroake siblings bicker constantly in a manner reminiscent of any family roadtrip, yet this brother and sister salvor team are ferociously loyal to each other. The three of them and Captain Naphi are set off to the ends of the railsea seeking to make sense of their impossible world. Nope, nothing allegorical for teens there.
There are tons of brilliant ideas and deep thoughts to be mined here but I never felt beaten over the head and shoulders with A Message. It felt like spending the day with an utterly mad, brilliant, & dear friend playing with his train set. The language & structure are more challenging & weirder than most YA books. Perhaps teens who cut their teeth on Thomas the Tank Engine, then Lemony Snicket & Scott Westerfeld's <em>Leviathan<em> & are ready for something more bizarre & complex have been waiting for a wild ride just like this.
--Reviewed by Chris from our Airport Store (Compass) in Terminal 2 of SFO. You can find him across the hall from the Kiehls! An EVEN longer version of this review was posted on Chris's blog here.
"Being the simple Five that she is, America doesn’t want anything to do with gowns, jewelry and fame. She’s content with being a Five, singing and playing music to help her family. She’s even more happy to stay with Aspen, her first love and boyfriend, despite the fact that he is a Six and their relationship is completely forbidden and frowned upon. However, with her mother’s insistence and at Aspen’s request, America goes ahead and signs up for the Selection. America’s so sure that she won’t be picked, but she is completely surprised when her name is called as one of the Selected. Although America dreads the whole thing, she wants to continue for her family. The money she gets for being a Selected is something her family needs at the moment. More so, America is certain she won’t be staying long. But she never learns and soon enough, America starts to see that Prince Maxon is not who she thought he was and the more she spends time with him, the more she learns that this lifestyle is something she could easily fall into and be a part of.
I absolutely became smitten and adored The Selection the moment I finished the first chapter. The whole idea of The Selection had me so intrigued. I loved what Kiera Cass created within the book. The way she tied in old ways with new and modern ones was simply marveling. There was the royal family, the other people in numbered caste system and rebels attacking the palace that made this book really enjoyable.
As a main character, America Singer really stood out for me. Before the being Selected, I already saw the strength in America and her overall rebellion and knack for not following the rules. She thinks for herself and she’s stubborn as hell and has a temper to match. She’s really talented, being able to speak in three different languages and the fact that she can sing and play various instruments really made me love her more. After being Selected, I was amazed at how America stayed true to herself. Even with the beautiful clothes and excellent food, she doesn’t change who she is inside. America even tries to befriend the other girls despite being each other’s competition, she takes some of their mean comments in stride. It’s not hard to like the other characters in the book, especially Maxon. At first, I saw him only the way America did: handsome, yet stiff and formal. As she got to know him, I did too. He may be a prince, but he’s just a normal person. Deep down, I could see that he had his own doubts about being the future king. He has fears, hopes, dreams and things he’s afraid he’ll never have no matter how much he desires them. The relationship that America had with Maxon was unusual, but so nice. I liked how they slowly became friends and then little by little they started to like each other more than that America and Maxon just fit so well together. Their relationship is easy, satisfying and never forced. They learn to trust each other allowing America to open up to Maxon, telling him about the world outside the palace and in turn, Maxon tells her about his duties, hardships being prince and his thoughts on the state of the country. I also liked Aspen. He was charming, a romantic and passionate person. He was also admirable and selfless, but his pride got the best of him. He’s only apparent in the beginning of book and again in the end and I think his absence ultimately hurt him in my eyes and heart. Other memorable characters was America’s cute little sister, America’s maids: Anne, Lucy and Mary, but also a few of the other Selected such as Marlee and Kriss were a few of my favorites.
The Selection was downright amazing and brilliantly written. It’s no wonder I completely immersed myself within this book, flipping through each page without hesitancy. I really wanted to live in this world and experience what America went through. I didn’t expect to love The Selection as much as I did and I’m more than happy to have read such a lovely book. It was everything I hoped it would be and then some. There is no denying that I’ll be looking forward to more of America and her journey as a Selected in the next book to come."
--Jessirae of Words, Pages and Books blog
Who else can you trust when your own heart could be your worst
enemy? The Cahill girls are among the pretties & smartest young
women in their status driven, old-world society but with that acclaim
comes scrutiny of the highest level. Scrutiny that could very well
expose them for what they really are: witches. Witches who could be hunted, trapped
& exterminated. Unless they can find the courage to guard the one
thing that might also be their only salvation: their hearts.
Jessica Spotswood has woven a taunting, mesmerizing tale into this delicious new world of duty, love & witchcraft. In one night, I sat down with this beautifully crafted novel & couldn’t put it down until the last page!
--Reviewed by Colleen from Books Inc. Palo Alto