Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Finnikin of the Rock

My favorite fantasy is that which manages to reflect the real world back in on itself. Although I enjoy good versus evil, and humor, and supernatural creatures, I really admire the fantasy that leaves you a little solemn and thoughtful.

"Finnikin of the Rock" by Melina Marchetta is fantasy, but at its heart, it is a refugee story. When Finnikin was a child, the royal family of Lumatere was murdered. The assassination triggered a civil war, with some factions fleeing the country. With half the people seeking refuge outside the city, and the rest of the population in conflict, a curse in the form of an impenetrable barrier descended around the country, preventing anybody from leaving or re-entering.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kings of Colorado

This book kicked me in the gut, made me cry and then left me with a smile. Set high in the mountains of Colorado, Kings of Colorado by David E Hilton, is a tough book about Will Sheppard, a 13 year old who is sent to a reformatory ranch after stabbing his very abusive father. While doing their time, the youth at the ranch tame wild horses by breaking them and the ranch staff tries to tame the boys by breaking them too -- sometimes in very horrible ways.

The story is narrated by the 62 year old Will, who has lost his wife and his job. When an event makes all his memories of that time in Colorado come flooding back,  he decides to write down his story and try to make some sense out of that time in his life

There is violence in this book -- more violence than I usually tolerate. Fortunately, this is a story not just of loss and pain, but of real friendship and the humanity that can be found even in harsh places.



Monday, February 20, 2012

GLBT Favorites

Our GLBT Services Committee is hosting a great author event in April, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to talk it up and recommend some other favorite books, too! Sister Spit is a dynamic audio/visual performance headlined by Dorothy Allison and Michelle Tea, plus other special guests. They will be performing with two free shows at Fluxx Gallery, 414 E. 9th St., on Saturday, April 7th, at 4 and 9pm. (Dorothy Allison will be at the first show only.) Read on for more GLBT books...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

One of my favorites makes a top 100 list

Over the summer, NPR listeners voted on more than 5,000 science fiction and fantasy titles.  The nerds... ahem... I mean the experts over at NPR then narrowed the list down to the top 100 picks.  The result is an eclectic mixture of classic and modern titles.  Some of the titles I expected to see.  If it had been missing obvious cult favorites like Lord of the Rings, Dune, or Star Wars, I would have had to dismiss it as an inferior list. Many of my old favorites were there, but imagine my delight when one of my new favorites made the cut.  Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher is relatively new and Butcher's other series The Dresden Files seemed to be the more well known. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Smash Cut

I am a fan of chocolate and reading.  I am happy when I get one of those heart shaped boxes of chocolate on Valentine's Day. Sadly, one heart shaped box of chocolate does not last very long. 
Here is my suggestion for the day after Valentine's Day. On your way home from work, stop at the library and check out a romantic suspense book and then stop at the store and buy discounted leftover valentine chocolate. I just finished Smash Cut by Sandra Brown, a perfect romantic suspense to read with chocolate. In this book, Paul Wheeler, wealthy CEO of Wheeler Enterprises, and Julie Rutledge, a beautiful young art dealer, have been meeting every Tuesday at a posh hotel for the the past two years. One Tuesday when Paul and Julie are leaving the hotel, a masked

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Titles for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is nearly here! And if you need ideas about what to read to celebrate the holiday, I've got you covered. First, I just stumbled upon Twosomes: Love Poems from the Animal Kingdom, a teensy tiny gem of a book. And it promptly became my very favorite Valentine's Day title. You can read it in less than three minutes, but I promise that those three mintues will be well the effort it might take you to locate the book. Fifteen silly couplets about animal love, ranging from porcupines to earthworms, are illustrated with pictures of  beaming, cartoon-like animals batting their eyes and gazing adoringly at one another. I was utterly enthralled.

But maybe you're not interested in a book of goofy poems. Maybe for your Valentine's Day reading, you'd prefer something a bit more grown up. If so, I recommend The Science of Kissing, an engaging mix of psychology, history, and biology that tells you everything you could ever hope to learn about the subject. Want to know about kissing practices in other cultures?  Why we kiss? Whether or not men and women kiss differently? This book has your answers.

Or maybe the only reason you tolerate this mushy pink holiday is for the conversation hearts and chocolate truffles. Then for you, then let me suggest Candy and Me or Candyfreak, which are fabulous candy memoirs that will make your mouth water and leave you lunging for the nearest heart-shaped box of chocolate...even if it was intended for your sweetheart. Valentine's Day is the perfect excuse to indulge, whether it's in candy or a good book (or in this case, both!).

Happy reading, and Happy Valentine's Day!

~Queen of Books

Monday, February 6, 2012

Counting Down to the Tucson Festival of Books

Elmore Leonard was on the cover of the New York Times Book Review this morning, and my happy thought was, "Oh, he'll be in Tucson at the Festival of Books next month!" And so will an astonishing number of authors we love to read, but rarely get to hear: Larry McMurtry, Richard Russo, Sebastian Junger, Alice Hoffman, Pete Dexter, Richard Peck, Terry Brooks, Iris Johansen, T.C. Boyle, Diana Gabaldon, John Sandford, Michael Palmer, Pam Houston -- the list goes on for nearly 400 names, and is as wonderful as it is astonishing. Imagine, they'll all be here, in Tucson, on the UA Mall for two very memorable days, the 10th and 11th of March.

With so many great authors at our very own literary miracle in the desert, readers who love books and the folks who write them will want to make a plan to see their favorites. My plan includes checking in on some of the most interesting women writing today, like Susan Casey, who'll be on hand to talk about her recent best-seller, The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean. U of A alum Casey embedded herself with scientists and extreme surfers around the world to learn about monster waves, the unimaginably gargantuan ocean behemoths that swallow up ocean-going vessels and coastal cities. Once the stuff of sailors' legends, these waves are now a reason for concern about the planet. Casey's narrative will mesmerize and terrify you, and will certainly make you think twice before signing on for an ocean cruise.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


A library customer enthusiastically recommended the book Healer by Carol Cassella and it was definitely worth reading.

The Boehning family finds themselves in a financial crisis when biochemist Addison risks all they have on the development of a cancer drug. With their lives in shambles and virtually no possessions,