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[sticky post] Fashionista Piranha Book Blog

Welcome to Fashionista Piranha Book Blog, where a good book is always your best accessory!  Life is too short to waste reading bad literature, especially when there's so many good books out there. If I can keep you from reading one atrocious novel, I've done my job. But if I help you find something you'll enjoy, even better. I've achieved my goal.

I have been reading, writing and reviewing since 2008, so there's a lot to see here.  To read the latest reviews, simply scroll down; in the sidebar to the left I also have the reviews grouped chronologically.  If there's a specific title or series you have in mind, I also have the reviews indexed by the author:

Book Reviews by Author, A-H
Book Reviews by Author, I-P
Book Reviews by Author, Q-Z

Sometimes I will wander off-topic and talk about theater productions I've seen.  Usually - but not always - it'll be Shakespeare-related (most commonly the plays from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival) or a stage adaptation of a classic book.  But if I see a show and I'm super-excited about it, odds are that it'll show up on Fashionista Piranha.  Less frequently, movie adaptations of books will make a similar appearance.

I always enjoy hearing from visitors to the blog, so please feel free to leave comments or email me at fashion_piranha @ livejournal.com.  This includes you, publishers and authors!  I am always happy to discuss your projects with you; feel free to check out my review policies here and drop me a line.
Thanks for stopping by!
Suzi the Fashion Piranha
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Read the Book Before You See the Movie!

Thank you IMDB.com for providing the movie plot summaries.

Date: September 2nd
Adapted From: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz
Plot Summary: A lighthouse keeper and his wife living off the coast of Western Australia raise a baby they rescue from an adrift rowboat.

Date: September 2nd
Adapted From: The 9th Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen
Starring: Jamie Dornan, Aiden Longworth, Sarah Gadon
Plot Summary: A psychologist who begins working with a young boy who has suffered a near-fatal fall finds himself drawn into a mystery that tests the boundaries of fantasy and reality.

Date: September 23rd
Adapted From: The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham
Starring: Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth, Hugo Weaving
Plot Summary: A glamorous woman returns to her small town in rural Australia. With her sewing machine and haute couture style, she transforms the women and exacts sweet revenge on those who did her wrong.

Date: September 30th
Adapted From: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Starring: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Samuel L. Jackson
Plot Summary: When Jacob discovers clues to a mystery that spans different worlds and times, he finds Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. But the mystery and danger deepen as he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2015: New Releases: September 1st, 2015
2014: The Demigod Diaries by Rick Riordan
2013: Utah Shakespeare Festival: Love’s Labour’s Lost
2012: The Picture of Dorian Gray (Marvel Illustrated) by Oscar Wilde
2011: Love*Com Vol. 1 by Aya Nakahara
2010: Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
2009: Giveaway #10: The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
2008: The Faith of Barack Obama by Stephen Mansfield


Ghostly Echoes
by William Ritter

The third book in the Jackaby series

Nearly a decade ago, Jenny Cavanaugh was brutally murdered in her home. Ever since, she has haunted 826 Auger Lane. After all this time, she has finally asked Jackaby and Abigail Rook to help her remember the circumstances of her death so that she can identify her killer. As Abigail begins to experiment with possession so that she can access Jenny's locked-up memories, a series of deaths erupt that curiously mirror the circumstances of their ghostly investigation. Realizing Jackaby and Abigail may be able to protect future victims from the her fate, Jenny urges them to partner with the police to solve the gruesome crimes. Jackaby and Abigail will probe deeper into the supernatural than ever before on a mystery that will take one of them to the depths of the Underworld itself.

This series is always so good! Each story blends mystery, suspense, and humor with fast-paced adventure and a rich Gothic atmosphere. Ghostly Echoes goes a little deeper and a little darker, introducing more creatures from folklore into New Fiddleham. I really came to appreciate Ritter's depth of research as he pulls from all cultures of the world for his otherworldly characters.

His human characters are equally captivating. The mystery of Jenny's death has been building for the past two books, and as Abigail and Jackaby dig deeper into the past, we experience more of the personal history not just of our favorite spook Jenny, but also of Mr. R. F. Jackaby himself. When Abigail stumbles across his record of his own work as a Seer, as well as the seers before him, we finally catch glimpses of his childhood, his origins, and the rich history of his work. It's so...well, for lack of a better word, so cool. So well done. So exactly what you'd expect of Jackaby.

I don't think I've ever commented on the covers of these books, but they're so beautiful. When I saw the blue cover of Jackaby on a shelf, I was immediately drawn to it, and that distinctive silhouetted cover was the hook that finally got me to start reading. (Let's not pretend we don't all occasionally judge a book by its cover.) I was so happy that Beastly Bones and now Ghostly Echoes have continued in the same vein. I've not seen it confirmed officially, but I believe we see the profiles of Jackaby on the first cover, Abigail on the second, and Jenny on the third. It makes me wonder which character will be on the next book. Charlie Cane? Lydia Lee? I can't wait to see, although I don't like thinking about how long that wait will be, since this book just came out on Tuesday and who knows when the next one will hit the shelves.

5 out of 5 stars

To read more about Ghostly Echoes, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2015: Rain (Paper Gods #2) by Amanda Sun
2014: Subscription Box: Comic Bento, August 2014
2013: The Lost Sun (United States of Asgard #1) by Tessa Gratton
2012: Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff
2011: A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
2010: Discussion Question: Favorite Opening Line
2009: Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin
2008: RuneWarriors by James Jennewein and Tom S. Parker
The Selection
by Kiera Cass

Book One in the Selection series

In the kingdom of Illéa, the future queen is selected through a random lottery. Thirty-five girls are chosen from different districts throughout the land, and they compete in a Bachelor-style reality TV show for the chance to become the wife of the prince. At seventeen, America Singer is the perfect age to be entered into the Selection for Prince Maxon, the only son of the king and queen and heir to the throne of Illéa. The problem is that America is already madly in love with a boy from her hometown. Inclusion in the Selection will bring upward mobility for the Singer family, and with the strict numbered caste system in place, America can't turn her back on the opportunity. After all, even if she IS chosen, what chance does she have with thirty-four other girls, nearly all of whom come from higher castes?

The Selection is like the Hunger Games if the violence was removed and replaced with the glimmering gowns and splendor of the Capitol. Instead of tributes fighting to the death, we have pretty girls trying to seduce a prince. Both competitions are broadcast to the general population in the ultimate reality TV.

I love this book for the guilty pleasure that it is. It's as addictive as chocolate, and really captures the drama and energy that makes it so difficult to turn away from reality TV shows. The descriptions of the luxuries of palace life contrasted with America's humble origins makes me eager for the inevitable movie adaptation. There are a few forehead-slapping moments when I want to shake the characters for saying or doing something stupid, but in the world of reality TV this is all part of the entertainment, so I find myself far more forgiving of America's bone-headed moments.

Prince Maxon is every inch the perfect, sensitive, well-meaning royal searching for true love from girls who desire him for the money or fame his position brings. I can't help but pity the poor guy; he's under tremendous pressure PLUS his love life is on display for all the world? How humiliating. I kept waiting for some darker aspect of his personality to surface, but other than a few haughty moments that I would expect from a boy from such a privileged, sheltered background he's pretty much a perfect gentleman.

I don't quite know what to make of America, our heroine. She's an interesting young woman. Initially, she enters the Selection because both her mother and her boyfriend think she should for the potential prestige, but no expects her to be a serious contender. By being honest with Prince Maxon about her wishes for the competition and offering him an alliance of friendship instead of romance, America manages to secure her position in the Selection. It's very cleverly managed. But a pretty young woman in a YA novel inevitably ends up in a love triangle, and America's moping over her sweetheart Aspen and her burgeoning feelings for the Prince are quite predictable.

The world-building is a bit vague, but if further developed it could be quite intriguing. Illéa, built in the ashes of a fallen America, is at war with New Asia. The country is also imploding, with rebels attacking the palace with a frequency quite disturbing to contestants in the Selection.

I ripped through this book with rare speed, and immediately started hankering for my next fix in The Elite. I don't pretend this is great literature, but it is delightful and entertaining, the perfect antidote to the more serious novels with important messages that I must read for work.

4.5 out of 5 stars

To read more about The Selection, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2014: Book Store Stories: Watch Your Placement
2013: Tides by Betsy Cornwell
2012: Fashionista Piranha is on a break until August 14th...
2011: Tales of the Tudors Book Giveaway
2010: News: Press “Pause” on Fashionista Piranha
2009: Ashland 2009: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
2008: Discussion Question: Explain Your Screen Name!

News: August Book to Movie Adaptations

Read the Book Before You See the Movie!

Thank you IMDB.com for providing the movie plot summaries.

Date: August 5th
Adapted From: DC Comics' Suicide Squad comics
Starring: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie
Plot Summary: A secret government agency recruits some of the most dangerous incarcerated criminals to form a defensive task force, with their first case leading to a potential apocalypse.

Date: August 5th
Adapted From: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd
Plot Summary: A little girl lives in a very grown-up world with her mother, who tries to prepare her for it. Her neighbor, the Aviator, introduces the girl to an extraordinary world where anything is possible, the world of the Little Prince.

Date: August 19th
Adapted From: Ben-Hur Lew Wallace
Starring: Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell, Rodrigo Santoro
Plot Summary: Judah Ben-Hur, a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother, an officer in the Roman army, returns to his homeland after years at sea to seek revenge, but finds redemption.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2014: The Book of Heaven by Patricia Storace
2013: The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban
2012: Fashionista Piranha is on a break until August 14th...
2011: The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin
2010: Jeane Westin, author of His Last Letter
2009: Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel
2008: Contest: Neil Gaiman Extravaganza!


News: July Book to Movie Adaptations

Read the Book Before You See the Movie!

Thank you IMDB.com for providing the movie plot summaries.

Date: July 1st
Adapted From: Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan series
Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie
Plot Summary: Tarzan, having acclimated to life in London, is called back to his former home in the jungle to investigate the activities at a mining encampment.

Date: July 1st
Adapted From: The BFG by Roald Dahl
Starring: Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton
Plot Summary: A girl named Sophie encounters the Big Friendly Giant who, despite his intimidating appearance, turns out to be a kind-hearted soul who is considered an outcast by the other giants because, unlike them, he refuses to eat children.

Date: July 1st
Adapted From: Our Kind of Traitor by John le Carré
Starring:  McGregor, Naomie Harris, Stellan Skarsgård
Plot Summary: A couple finds themselves lured into a Russian oligarch's plans to defect, and are soon positioned between the Russian Mafia and the British Secret Service, neither of whom they can trust.

Date: July 22nd
Adapted From: Into the Forest by Jean Hegland
Starring: Ellen Page, Evan Rachel Wood, Max Minghella
Plot Summary: After a massive power outage, two sisters learn to survive on their own in their isolated woodland home.

Date: July 27th
Adapted From: Nerve by Jeanne Ryan
Starring: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Emily Meade
Plot Summary: A high school senior finds herself immersed in an online game of truth or dare, where her every move starts to become manipulated by an anonymous community of "watchers."

Date: July 29th
Adapted From: Indignation by Philip Roth
Starring: Logan Lerman, Sarah Gadon, Melanie Blake Roth
Plot Summary: In 1951, Marcus, a working-class Jewish student from New Jersey, attends a small Ohio college, where he struggles with sexual repression and cultural disaffection, amid the ongoing Korean War.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2015: The Deception of the Emerald Ring (Pink Carnation #3) by Lauren Willig
2014: News: World Book Night to Suspend Operations
2013: Born of Illusion by Teri Brown
2012: News: Your eBook is Reading You (WSJ)
2011: Fashionista Piranha on hiatus for a while…
2010: Opinion: “Read” that classic novel by listening to it
2009: Contest #8 Winner
2008: I, robot by Howard S. Smith


Savor the Dark Book Club
June 2016

Quarterly Co. is a subscription box service company that partners with celebrities to "curate" boxes, usually themed around food or fashion or cool gadgets, which are mailed out four times a year. For their book and chocolate-themed box, Quarterly partnered with Ghirardelli.

Chocolate and books are two of my favorite things to consume. I go through both in absurdly large quantities. Pairing the two items in a subscription service? That's a match made in heaven! I found out about Quarterly's Savor the Dark Book Club, a subscription box limited to only three mailings, and immediately wanted to sign up. I did question the wisdom of shipping chocolate bars in the summer heat, but after considering the amount of candy I've had sent to me and the fact that I can't think of any major meltdowns, I thought it would be safe enough.

I opened the box and it looked like there won't be any problems with melted chocolate. It was packaged separately in its own box, next to an ice pack and wrapped in another bag. I turned my attention to the letter at the top of the box, a note from Miranda Beverly-Whittemore welcoming readers to her novel. Attached to the letter was a list of discussion questions for her novel June and several recipes that I think must tie into the novel, because not a one calls for Ghirardelli chocolate.

JUNE: A Novel by Miranda Beverly-Whitemore
Twenty-five-year-old Cassie Danvers is holed up in her family’s crumbling mansion in rural St. Jude, Ohio, mourning the loss of the woman who raised her—her grandmother, June. But a knock on the door forces her out of isolation. Cassie has been named the sole heir to legendary matinee idol Jack Montgomery's vast fortune. How did Jack Montgomery know her name? Could he have crossed paths with her grandmother all those years ago? What other shocking secrets could June’s once-stately mansion hold?

Soon Jack’s famous daughters come knocking, determined to wrestle Cassie away from the inheritance they feel is their due. Together, they all come to discover the true reasons for June’s silence about that long-ago summer, when Hollywood came to town, and June and Jack’s lives were forever altered by murder, blackmail, and betrayal. As this page-turner shifts deftly between the past and present, Cassie and her guests will be forced to reexamine their legacies, their definition of family, and what it truly means to love someone, steadfastly, across the ages.

Sounds OK. It's not a novel I would have been likely to pick up on my own, but it sounds interesting enough. I'm sure I'll find it diverting enough on a lazy summer afternoon.  The book was not autographed by the author, but a bookplate that she had signed was thrown into the box. It's not nearly as collectible, but the fact that they thought to include it was a nice touch.

GHIRARDELLI INTENSE DARK 72% Cacao Twilight Delight Chocolate Bar
The luxuriously deep and velvety chocolate in Ghirardelli Intense Dark is made by selecting the highest quality beans to create our all natural exclusive bean blend. Experience a moment of timeless pleasure as the intense chocolate pleasure lingers and time stands still.

GHIRARDELLI INTENSE DARK Cabernet Matinee Chocolate Bar
The luxuriously deep and velvety dark chocolate in Cabernet Matinee is infused with the tart flavor of blackberries and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes delivering unrivaled chocolate intensity. Experience a moment of timeless pleasure with Ghirardelli's Intense Dark chocolate.

GHIRARDELLI INTENSE DARK Hazelnut Heaven Chocolate Bar
The luxuriously deep and velvety dark chocolate in Hazelnut heaven is infused with crunch, deep roasted hazelnuts delivering unrivaled chocolate intensity. Savor a moment that will carry you through your day.

All three of these chocolate bars sound delicious. I've had some of the Intense Dark chocolate bars before, and they always have a nice balance between the bitterness of the chocolate and the added in flavors like blackberry and hazelnut.

The Savor the Dark Book Club is a nice enough idea, but it's rather a poor deal. Each box is $45 ($40 + $5 S&H) and the value of the items inside is nowhere near that. June is a $26 book, and 3.5 oz Ghirardelli chocolate bar sells for $3.95 at the grocery store (and often will be on sale for $$2.50 or $3). Most subscription boxes have a value higher than the price tag, since it's likely that the recipient will like every single thing in the box. After seeing the contents of this box, I immediately canceled the subscription. I can pick my own book and my own chocolates without the risk of getting something I don't want.

It's too bad, because the box idea was a good one. If another company attempts something similar in the future, I'd be open to trying again.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2015: The Deception of the Emerald Ring (Pink Carnation #3) by Lauren Willig
2014: The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford
2013: Born of Illusion by Teri Brown
2012: The Queen’s Vow by C. W. Gortner
2011: Fashionista Piranha will be on hiatus for a while…
2010: The Queen’s Lover by Vanora Bennett
2009: Contest #8: Diggin’ Up Reading
2008: New Moon (Twilight #2) by Stephenie Meyer
Powell's Indiespensable Book Club
Volume 59: Homegoing

Since 2008, Powell's Books of Portland, OR has run a book club/subscription service that sends a new, autographed hardcover book in a custom slipcase to its subscribers. Each mailing is accompanied with notes on the selected book and a surprise selection of extra items.

HOMEGOING by Yaa Gyasi
A novel of breathtaking sweep and emotional power that traces three hundred years in Ghana and along the way also becomes a truly great American novel. Extraordinary for its exquisite language, its implacable sorrow, its soaring beauty, and for its monumental portrait of the forces that shape families and nations, Homegoing heralds the arrival of a major new voice in contemporary fiction.
Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.
Generation after generation, Yaa Gyasi’s magisterial first novel sets the fate of the individual against the obliterating movements of time, delivering unforgettable characters whose lives were shaped by historical forces beyond their control. Homegoing is a tremendous reading experience, not to be missed, by an astonishingly gifted young writer.

I'm really excited about this month's selected book! I don't know much about Homegoing but one of my co-workers has been absolutely RAVING about it for weeks, and her enthusiasm makes me want to drop what I'm currently reading and dive in.

Like all Indiespensable books, Homegoing is signed by the author and comes in a custom slipcase. It's so simple, yet elegant.  I love the way these slipcases look when they're all lined up on my shelves.  A small yellow chapbook is also included with the book that includes an interview with Yaa Gyasi.

This is just the sort of notebook I'm always looking for!  It has unlined blank pages, a pocket on the back cover for miscellaneous bits of paper, an elastic band so the book won't fly open when jostled in a bag, and it's roughly 8" x 6" so it's quite portable.  This is great!

When I'm not geeking out about notebooks, I can get pretty obsessive about pens.  I'm not a snob, by which I mean I don't have a brand that I'm strictly loyal to, but one of the easiest ways to put a smile on my face is to tell me to go to Office Depot and pick up some new pens for the office.  I'll spend an hour poring over the different features and testing the smoothness of the ink flow.

I think it's so cool that Powell's is encouraging Indiespensable subscribers to express themselves.  Whether this notebook gets used for taking notes on books while you're reading or for making diary entries or observational sketches, it's a fun, bookish thing to include.

Powell's Indiespensable subscription costs $39.95 per box. To learn more about it, visit the Indiespensable page at Powell's Books.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2015: New Releases: June 30th, 2015
2013: Narcoleptic Sunday by Jeremy Haun and Brian Koschak
2012: Sailor Moon Vol. 3 by Naoko Takeuchi
2011: Fashionista Piranha will be on hiatus for a while…
2010: Bite Me by Christopher Moore
2009: Winner: Diggin’ Up New Reading
2008: The Aviary Gate by Katie Hickman

New Releases: June 28th, 2016


A CERTAIN AGE by Beatriz Williams
As the freedom of the Jazz Age transforms New York City, the iridescent Mrs. Theresa Marshall has done the unthinkable: she’s fallen in love with her young paramour, Captain Octavian Rofrano, a handsome aviator and hero of the Great War. While times are changing and she does adore the Boy, divorce for a woman of Theresa’s wealth and social standing is out of the question, and there is no need; she has an understanding with Sylvo, her generous and well-respected philanderer husband. But their relationship subtly shifts when her bachelor brother, Ox, decides to tie the knot with the sweet younger daughter of a newly wealthy inventor.  Historical Fiction

THE SWAN BOOK by Alexis Wright
Oblivia Ethelyne was given her name by an old woman who found her deep in the bowels of a gum tree, the victim of a brutal assault by wayward local youths. These are the years leading up to Australia’s third centenary, and the woman who finds her, Bella Donna of the Champions, is a refugee from climate change wars that devastated her country in the northern hemisphere. Bella Donna takes Oblivia to live with her on an old warship in a polluted dry swamp, and there she fills Oblivia’s head with story upon story of swans. When Warren Finch, the first Aboriginal president of Australia, invades the swamp with the promise of salvation, Oblivia agrees to marry him, becoming First Lady, a role that has her confined to a tower in a flooded and lawless southern city.  Fiction


When Sylvie Furst and Cassandra Puffin meet at Bennington College, that Vermont haven for well-to-do young eccentrics and liberal-arts students, they firmly believe theirs will be a friendship for the ages. From the heyday of college through those first delirious post-college years, the two girls have nothing but each other and their charmingly decorated apartments to keep them afloat.  Fiction

THE HUMMINGBIRD by Stephen P. Kiernan
Deborah Birch is a seasoned hospice nurse whose daily work requires courage and compassion. But her skills and experience are tested in new and dramatic ways when her easygoing husband, Michael, returns from his third deployment to Iraq haunted by nightmares, anxiety and rage. At the same time, Deborah’s primary patient is Barclay Reed, a retired history professor and expert in the Pacific Theater of World War II. He tells her stories from that long-ago war, which help her find a way to assist her husband in battling his demons.  Fiction

With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime.  Historical Fantasy

MUSE by Jonathan Galassi
Paul Dukach is heir apparent at Purcell & Stern, one of the last independent publishing houses in New York. Working with his boss, the flamboyant Homer Stern, he learns the ins and outs of the book trade. But Paul’s deepest admiration has always been reserved for one writer: poet Ida Perkins, whose longtime publisher (also her cousin and erstwhile lover) happens to be Homer’s biggest rival. When Paul at last has the chance to meet Ida, she entrusts him with her greatest secret --- one that will change all of their lives forever.  Fiction

Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis’ wife. His daughter lives hours away in Colorado Springs, her son even farther away in Grand Junction, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in houses now empty of family, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with.  Fiction

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2015: Quarterly's Book Riot Book Box #7: July 2015
2013: Rav Hisda's Daughter, Book I: Apprentice by Maggie Anton
2012: The Mummy Case (Amelia Peabody Mysteries #3) by Elizabeth Peters
2011: Fashionista Piranha will be on hiatus for a while…
2010: Discussion Question: How Big Is Your Library?
2009: An Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage
2008: The White Mary by Kira Salak

New Releases: June 21st, 2016


Elizabeth Sanderson receives the devastating news that her 13-year-old son, Tommy, has vanished without a trace. Josh and Luis, the friends who were the last to see Tommy before he disappeared, may not be telling the whole truth about that night in Borderland State Park, when they were supposedly hanging out at a landmark the local teens have renamed Devil’s Rock. Living in an all-too-real nightmare, Elizabeth is wholly unprepared for the strange series of events that follow. As the search grows more desperate, and the implications of what happened become more haunting and sinister, no one is prepared for the shocking truth about that night and Tommy’s disappearance at Devil’s Rock.  Horror

THE MANDIBLES: A Family, 2029-2047 by Lionel Shriver
In 2029, the United States is engaged in a bloodless world war that will wipe out the savings of millions of American families. Overnight, on the international currency exchange, the “almighty dollar” plummets in value, to be replaced by a new global currency, the “bancor.” In retaliation, the president declares that America will default on its loans. What little remains to savers is rapidly eaten away by runaway inflation. The Mandibles have been counting on a sizable fortune filtering down when their 97-year-old patriarch dies. Once the inheritance turns to ash, each family member must contend with disappointment, but also the challenge of sheer survival.  Fiction

A MILLION YEARS IN A DAY: A Curious History of Everyday Life from the Stone Age to the Phone Age by Greg Jenner
Who invented beds? When did we start cleaning our teeth? How old are wine and beer? Which came first: the toilet seat or toilet paper? What was the first clock? Every day, from the moment our alarm clock wakes us in the morning until our head hits our pillow at night, we all take part in rituals that are millennia old. Structured around one ordinary day, A MILLION YEARS IN A DAY reveals the astonishing origins and development of the daily practices we take for granted. In this entertaining romp through human history, Greg Jenner explores the gradual --- and often unexpected --- evolution of our daily routines.  History

On the eve of Russian general Boris Karpov's wedding, Jason Bourne receives an enigmatic message from his old friend and fellow spymaster. In Moscow, what should be a joyous occasion turns bloody and lethal. Now Bourne is the only one who can decipher Karpov's cryptogram. He discovers that Karpov has betrayed his sovereign to warn Bourne of a crippling disaster about to be visited on the world. Bourne has only four days to discover the nature of the disaster and stop it. The trail Karpov has been following leads Bourne to Cairo and the doorstep of Ivan Borz, the elusive international arms dealer infamous for hiding behind a never-ending series of false identities.  Thriller

VINEGAR GIRL by Anne Tyler
After years out in the academic wilderness, Dr. Battista is on the verge of a breakthrough. His research could help millions. There’s only one problem: His brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr, all would be lost. When Dr. Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, he’s relying on his daughter, Kate, to help him. Kate is furious: this time he’s really asking too much. But will she be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign to bring her around?  Fiction


THE GAP OF TIME by Jeanette Winterson
In THE GAP OF TIME, Jeanette Winterson’s cover version of "The Winter's Tale" (one of Shakespeare’s “late plays”), we move from London, a city reeling after the 2008 financial crisis, to a storm-ravaged American city called New Bohemia. Her story is one of childhood friendship, money, status, technology and the elliptical nature of time; of the consuming power of jealousy on the one hand, and redemption and the enduring love of a lost child on the other.  Fiction

KILLING MONICA by Candace Bushnell
Pandy "PJ" Wallis is a renowned writer whose novels about a young woman making her way in Manhattan have spawned a series of blockbuster films. After the success of the Monica books and movies, Pandy wants to attempt a historical novel based on her ancestor Lady Wallis. But Pandy's publishers and audience only want her to keep cranking out more Monica, as does her greedy husband. When her marriage crumbles and the boathouse of her family home in Connecticut goes up in flames, Pandy suddenly realizes she has an opportunity to reinvent herself.  Fiction

LOVE MAY FAIL by Matthew Quick
Portia Kane is having a meltdown. After escaping her ritzy Florida life and her cheating pornographer husband, she finds herself back in South Jersey, a place that remains largely unchanged from the years of her unhappy youth. Lost and alone, looking to find the goodness in the world she believes still exists, Portia sets off to save herself by saving someone else --- a beloved high school English teacher who has retired after a traumatic incident.  Fiction

Lucien (Lucy) Minor is the resident odd duck in the bucolic hamlet of Bury. Friendless and loveless, young and aimless, Lucy is a compulsive liar, a sickly weakling in a town famous for producing brutish giants. Then Lucy accepts employment assisting the Majordomo of the remote, foreboding Castle Von Aux. While tending to his new post as Undermajordomo, Lucy soon discovers that the place harbors many dark secrets, not least of which is the whereabouts of the castle’s master, Baron Von Aux.  Fiction

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2014: China Dolls by Lisa See
2013: Discussion Question: Do you read every book in a series?
2012: Mummies in Nineteenth Century America by S. J. Wolfe
2011: Fashionista Piranha will be on hiatus for a while…
2010: Maiden, Matron, Crone edited by Kerri Huges & Martin H. Greenberg
2009: An Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage
2008: The Glimmer Palace by Beatrice Colin

News: Lois Duncan dies at 82

I was so sorry to hear of the passing of Lois Duncan this morning. She was one of my favorite authors when I was a teenager. I read Down a Dark Hall, Daughters of Eve, and Locked in Time over and over again. The books were so suspenseful and I loved the way she balanced supernatural activity with real-world worries and fears.

Duncan's daughter was murdered in 1989 and the case was never solved. The devastating loss shifted her entire career. She stopped writing young adult fiction and began focusing on the crime. Duncan advocated fiercely for her daughter and other victims like her, creating the Resource Center for Victims of Violent Deaths. I really admire her courage in continuing to revisit this dark period in her life so that she could help others in similar situations.

You can read Lois Duncan's obituary here: http://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-lois-duncan-20160616-snap-story.html

If you've never read one of her books, I urge you to pick one up and give it a try. She was writing young adult before the term even existed, and decades later I think many of her titles still hold up very well.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2015: New Releases: June 16th, 2015
2013: The Mermaid of Brooklyn by Amy Shearn
2012: The Royal Historian of Oz by Tommy Kovac and Andy Hirsch
2011: Fashionista Piranha will be on hiatus for a while…
2010: Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner
2009: A Lion Among Men (Wicked #3) by Gregory Maguire

New Releases: June 14th, 2016


THE AUDACIOUS CRIMES OF COLONEL BLOOD: The Spy Who Stole the Crown Jewels and Became the King's Secret Agent by Robert Hutchinson
One morning in May 1671, a man disguised as a parson daringly attempted to seize the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. Astonishingly, he managed to escape with the regalia and crown before being apprehended. And yet he was not executed for treason. Instead, the king granted him a generous income, and he became a familiar strutting figure in the royal court's glittering state apartments. This man was Colonel Thomas Blood, a notorious turncoat and fugitive from justice. Historian Robert Hutchinson paints a vivid portrait of a double agent bent on ambiguous political and personal motivation.  History

BARKSKINS by Annie Proulx
In the late 17th century, two penniless young Frenchmen, René Sel and Charles Duquet, arrive in New France. Bound to a feudal lord for three years in exchange for land, they become woodcutters --- barkskins. Sel suffers extraordinary hardship, oppressed by the forest he is charged with clearing. He is forced to marry a Mi’kmaw woman, and their descendants live trapped between two inimical cultures. But Duquet runs away, becomes a fur trader and sets up a timber business. Annie Proulx tells the stories of the descendants of Sel and Duquet over 300 years, the revenge of rivals, accidents, pestilence, Indian attacks and cultural annihilation.  Historical Fiction

THE GIRLS by Emma Cline
At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park and is immediately caught by their freedom and dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, she is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic and thrilling --- a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence.  Psychological Thriller

A HOUSE FULL OF DAUGHTERS: A Memoir of Seven Generations by Juliet Nicolson
All families have their myths and legends. For many years, Juliet Nicolson accepted hers --- the dangerous beauty of her flamenco-dancing great-great-grandmother Pepita, the flirty manipulation of her great-grandmother Victoria, the infamous eccentricity of her grandmother Vita Sackville-West, her mother’s Tory-conventional background. But then Juliet, a distinguished historian, started to question. As she did so, she sifted fact from fiction, uncovering details and secrets long held just out of sight.  Memoir

MURDER ON THE QUAI: An Aimée Leduc Investigation by Cara Black
November 1989: Aimée Leduc is in her first year of college at Paris’s preeminent medical school. She lives in a 17th-century apartment that overlooks the Seine with her father, who runs the family detective agency. But the week the Berlin Wall crumbles, so does Aimée’s life as she knows it. First, someone has sabotaged her lab work, putting her at risk of failing out of the program. Her father takes off to Berlin on a mysterious errand and asks Aimée to help out at the detective agency while he’s gone. But the case Aimée finds herself investigating --- a murder linked to a transport truck of Nazi gold that disappeared in the French countryside during the height of World War II --- has gotten under her skin.  Mystery

THE WHALE: A Love Story by Mark Beauregard
In the summer of 1850, Herman Melville finds himself hounded by creditors and afraid his writing career might be coming to an end. His last three novels have been commercial failures, and the critics have turned against him. In despair, Melville takes his family for a vacation to his cousin’s farm in the Berkshires, where he meets Nathaniel Hawthorne at a picnic --- and his life turns upside down. THE WHALE chronicles the fervent love affair that grows out of that serendipitous afternoon. The two develop a deep connection marked by tensions and estrangements, and feelings both shared and suppressed.  Historical Fiction

WILLIAM TECUMSEH SHERMAN: In the Service of My Country: A Life by James Lee McDonough
General Sherman’s 1864 burning of Atlanta solidified his legacy as a ruthless leader. Yet he proved far more complex than his legendary military tactics reveal. James Lee McDonough offers fresh insight into a man tormented by the fear that history would pass him by, who was plagued by personal debts, and who lived much of his life separated from his family. As a soldier, Sherman evolved from a spirited student at West Point into a general who steered the Civil War’s most decisive campaigns. Lamenting casualties, Sherman sought the war’s swift end by devastating Southern resources in the Carolinas and on his famous March to the Sea.  Biography


A GREAT AND TERRIBLE KING: Edward I and the Forging of Britain by Marc Morris
Marc Morris examines afresh the forces that drove Edward I throughout his relentless career: his character, his Christian faith, and his sense of England's destiny --- a sense shaped in particular by the tales of the legendary King Arthur. He also explores the competing reasons that led Edward's opponents (including Robert Bruce) to resist him. The result is a sweeping story, immaculately researched yet compellingly told, and a vivid picture of medieval Britain at the moment when its future was decided.  Biography / History

Ramie Phillips has led a very successful life, but she isn't necessarily happy. On a boat with friends, she tries to fight her feelings of discontent with steel will and hard liquor. No one even notices as she goes to the diving board and dives off. Ramie finds herself back on the eve of her 18th birthday, with a second chance to see the people she's lost and change the choices she regrets. How did she get back here? Is she really back in time? Above all, she'll have to answer the question that no one else can: What it is that she really wants from the past, and for her future?  Fiction

THE MERMAID’S SECRET by Katie Schickel
Life on land is suffocating for Jess Creary, who wastes her summers flipping burgers for tourists on a fishing boat. After all, her older sister Kay died in a boating accident two years ago, her mother has disappeared, and her father isn't exactly dealing with things so well. Surfing and the handsome Captain Matthew are about the only bright spots in her life. When Jess catches the perfect wave on her 23rd birthday, she transforms into a mermaid and is reborn into a confident, powerful predator with superhuman strength. Now, she has 30 days to choose between land and sea; legs and fins; her humanity and her freedom.  Fiction

SAINT MAZIE by Jami Attenberg
Mazie Phillips is the truth-telling proprietress of The Venice, the famed New York City movie theater. When the Great Depression hits, she opens the doors of The Venice to those in need, becoming the beating heart of the Lower East Side. More than 90 years after Mazie began her diary, it is discovered by a documentarian in search of a good story. Who was Mazie Phillips, really? A chorus of voices from the past and present fill in some of the mysterious blanks of her adventurous life.  Historical Fiction

In the summer of 1938, Layla Beck’s father, a United States senator, cuts off her allowance and demands that she find employment on the Federal Writers’ Project, a New Deal jobs program. Within days, Layla has been assigned to cover the history of the remote mill town of Macedonia, West Virginia. But once she secures a room in the home of the unconventional Romeyn family, she is drawn into their complex world and soon discovers that the truth of the town is entangled in the thorny past of the Romeyn dynasty.  Historical Fiction

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2015: My Bonny Light Horseman (Bloody Jack #6) by L. A. Meyer
2013: News: The avant-garde art of book stacking in stores of Japan
2012: The Castle in the Forest by Norman Mailer
2011: Fashionista Piranha will be on hiatus for a while…
2010: The Boleyn Wife by Brandy Purdy
2009: Summary: Book Reviews from January - May 2009

New Releases: June 7th, 2016


BUT WHAT IF WE'RE WRONG?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman
Though no generation believes there’s nothing left to learn, every generation unconsciously assumes that what has already been defined and accepted is (probably) pretty close to how reality will be viewed in perpetuity. And then, of course, time passes, ideas shift and opinions invert. What once seemed reasonable eventually becomes absurd, replaced by modern perspectives that feel even more irrefutable and secure --- until, of course, they don’t. BUT WHAT IF WE’RE WRONG? visualizes the contemporary world as it will appear to those who will perceive it as the distant past.  Social Science

EVERYBODY BEHAVES BADLY: The True Story Behind Hemingway's Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises by Lesley M. M. Blume
In the summer of 1925, Ernest Hemingway and a clique of raucous companions traveled to Pamplona, Spain, for the town’s infamous running of the bulls. Then, over the next six weeks, he channeled that trip’s maelstrom of drunken brawls, sexual rivalry, midnight betrayals and midday hangovers into his groundbreaking novel, THE SUN ALSO RISES. But the full story of Hemingway’s legendary rise has remained untold until now. Lesley Blume resurrects the explosive, restless landscape of 1920s Paris and Spain, and reveals how Hemingway helped create his own legend.  Biography

GRUNT: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach
GRUNT tackles the science behind some of a soldier's most challenging adversaries --- panic, exhaustion, heat, noise --- and introduces us to the scientists who seek to conquer them. Mary Roach answers questions not found in any other book on the military: Why is DARPA interested in ducks? How is a wedding gown like a bomb suit? Why are shrimp more dangerous to sailors than sharks? Take a tour of duty with Roach, and you’ll never see our nation’s defenders in the same way again.  Social Science

HOMEGOING by Yaa Gyasi
Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in 18th-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, Esi is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of HOMEGOING follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, while the other follows Esi and her children into America.  Historical Fiction

INK AND BONE by Lisa Unger
Visited by people whom others can't see and haunted by prophetic dreams, Finley Montgomery has never been able to control or understand the things that happen to her. When her abilities start to become too strong for her to handle, she turns to her grandmother Eloise Montgomery, a renowned psychic. Merri Gleason is a woman at the end of her tether after a 10-month-long search for her missing daughter. With almost every hope exhausted, she resorts to hiring Jones Cooper, a detective who sometimes works with Eloise. Finley and Eloise are ultimately drawn into the investigation, which proves to have much more at stake than even the fate of a missing girl.  Supernatural Thriller

In LAST NIGHT, A SUPERHERO SAVED MY LIFE, authors share their most hilarious and most heartwrenching experiences with their chosen defender to explain why superheroes matter, what they tell us about who we are, and what they mean for our future. Contributors include New York Times bestsellers Christopher Golden, Leigh Bardugo, Brad Meltzer, Neil Gaiman, Carrie Vaughn, Jodi Picoult and Jamie Ford, as well as award-winners and mainstays like Joe R. Lansdale, Karina Cooper and Ron Currie, Jr., among many others.  Essays

When you sit down with LILY AND THE OCTOPUS, you will be taken on an unforgettable ride. The magic of this novel is in the read, and we don’t want to spoil it by giving away too many details. We can tell you that this is a story about that special someone: the one you trust, the one you can’t live without. For Ted Flask, that someone special is his aging companion Lily, who happens to be a dog. LILY AND THE OCTOPUS reminds us how it feels to love fiercely, how difficult it can be to let go, and how the fight for those we love is the greatest fight of all.  Fiction

THE MAXIMUM SECURITY BOOK CLUB: Reading Literature in a Men's Prison by Mikita Brottman
On sabbatical from teaching literature to undergraduates, and wanting to educate a different kind of student, Mikita Brottman starts a book club with a group of convicts from the Jessup Correctional Institution in Maryland. She assigns them 10 dark, challenging classics that don’t flinch from evoking the isolation of the human struggle, the pain of conflict and the cost of transgression. Although Brottman is already familiar with these works, the convicts open them up in completely new ways. Their discussions may “only” be about literature, but for the prisoners, everything is at stake. Non-Fiction

Joy Bergman is not slipping into old age with the quiet grace that her children, Molly and Daniel, would prefer. Her marriage to their father, Aaron, has lasted through health and dementia, as well as some phenomenally lousy business decisions. The Bergman clan has always stuck together, growing as it incorporated in-laws, ex-in-laws and same-sex spouses. But families don't just grow, they grow old. Cathleen Schine's novel is an intergenerational story about searching for where you belong as your family changes with age.  Fiction

WINTERING by Peter Geye
The two principal stories at play in WINTERING are bound together when the elderly, demented Harry Eide escapes his sickbed and vanishes into the forbidding, northernmost wilderness that surrounds the town of Gunflint, Minnesota --- instantly changing the Eide family, and many other lives, forever. He’d done this once before, more than 30 years earlier in 1963, fleeing a crumbling marriage and bringing along Gustav, his 18-year-old son, pitching this audacious, potentially fatal scheme as a reenactment of the ancient voyageurs’ journeys of discovery.  Fiction


Fourteen-year-old Juan Diego, who was born and grew up in Mexico, has a 13-year-old sister. Her name is Lupe, and she is a mind reader. Regarding what has happened as opposed to what will, Lupe is usually right about the past; without your telling her, she knows all the worst things that have happened to you. What might a teen girl be driven to do if she thought she could change the future? As an older man, Juan Diego will take a trip to the Philippines, but what travels with him are his dreams and memories; he is most alive in his childhood and early adolescence in Mexico.  Fiction

THE CLASP by Sloane Crosley
Kezia, Nathaniel and Victor are reunited at the extravagant wedding of a college friend. During the reception, an inebriated Victor passes out in the mother of the groom's bedroom. He's woken with a jovial slap to the face, as she dangles a story about a missing necklace before him, one that she has never even told her son. Her tale sets in motion a madcap adventure that leads Victor, Kezia and Nathaniel from Miami to New York and L.A., and ultimately across France, to the estate of Guy de Maupassant, author of the classic short story "The Necklace." Fiction

THE FELLOWSHIP: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams by Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski
For three decades, C. S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and their closest associates formed a literary club known as the Inklings, which met every week in Lewis' Oxford rooms and in nearby pubs. They discussed literature, religion and ideas; read aloud from works in progress; took philosophical rambles in woods and fields; gave one another companionship and criticism; and, in the process, rewrote the cultural history of modern times. In THE FELLOWSHIP, Philip and Carol Zaleski offer the first complete rendering of the Inklings' lives and works.  Biography

When Lars Thorvald’s wife, Cynthia, falls in love with wine --- and a dashing sommelier --- he’s left to raise their baby, Eva, on his own. He’s determined to pass on his love of food to his daughter. As Eva grows, she finds her solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota. Each ingredient represents one part of Eva’s journey as she becomes the star chef behind a legendary and secretive pop-up supper club, culminating in an opulent and emotional feast that’s a testament to her spirit and resilience. Fiction

THE LAKE HOUSE by Kate Morton
One midsummer’s eve, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, 11-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. Decades later, Alice Edevane is living in London, having enjoyed a successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, stumbles upon the Edevanes’ old estate. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone...yet more present than ever.  Fiction

Kitty Hayward and her mother are ready to experience the spectacles of Coney Island's newest attraction, the Dreamland amusement park. But when Kitty's mother vanishes from their hotel, she finds herself penniless, alone and far from her native England. The last people she expects to help are the cast of characters at Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet, a museum of oddities. From con men to strongmen, from flea wranglers to lion tamers, Kitty's new friends quickly adopt her and vow to help find the missing Mrs. Hayward. But even these unusual inhabitants may not be a match for the insidious sickness that begins to spread through Coney Island...or the panic that turns Dreamland into a nightmare.  Historical Fiction

MANHATTAN MAYHEM: New Crime Stories from Mystery Writers of America edited by Mary Higgins Clark
Mary Higgins Clark invites you on a tour of Manhattan’s most iconic neighborhoods in this anthology of all-new stories from the Mystery Writers of America. From the Flatiron District (Lee Child) and Greenwich Village (Jeffery Deaver) to Little Italy (T. Jefferson Parker) and Chinatown (S.J. Rozan), you’ll encounter crimes, mysteries, and riddles large and small. Illustrated with iconic photography of New York City, MANHATTAN MAYHEM is a delightful read for armchair detectives and armchair travelers alike.  Mystery / Short Stories

THE OREGON TRAIL: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck
Rinker Buck’s bestseller is an epic account of traveling the length of the Oregon Trail the old-fashioned way --- in a covered wagon with a team of mules, an audacious journey that hasn’t been attempted in a century --- which also chronicles the rich history of the trail, the people who made the migration, and its significance to the country.  History

THREE MOMENTS OF AN EXPLOSION: Stories by China Miéville
London awakes one morning to find itself besieged by a sky full of floating icebergs. Destroyed oil rigs, mysteriously reborn, clamber from the sea and onto the land, driven by an obscure but violent purpose. An anatomy student cuts open a cadaver to discover impossibly intricate designs carved into a corpse’s bones. Of such concepts and unforgettable images are made the 28 stories in this collection --- many published here for the first time.  Fiction / Short Stories

TWAIN’S END by Lynn Cullen
In TWAIN'S END, Lynn Cullen reimagines the tangled relationships between Mark Twain, his private secretary Isabel V. Lyon, and his business manager Ralph Ashcroft, as well as the little-known love triangle between Helen Keller, her teacher Anne Sullivan Macy, and Anne’s husband John Macy, which comes to light during their visit to Twain’s Connecticut home in 1909. Add to the party a furious Clara Clemens, smarting from her own failed love affair, and carefully kept veneers shatter.  Historical Fiction

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2014: Subscription Box: Book Riot, June 2014
2013: Paper: An Elegy by Ian Sansom
2012: Fashionista Piranha on vacation
2011: Fashionista Piranha will be on hiatus for a while...
2010: The Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson
2009: Contest #8: Diggin' Up New Reading!

News: June Book to Movie Adaptations

Read the Book Before You See the Movie!

Thank you IMDB.com for providing the movie plot summaries.

Date: June 3rd
Adapted From: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Starring: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Jenna Coleman
Plot Summary: A girl in a small town forms an unlikely bond with a recently-paralyzed man she's taking care of.

Date: June 24th
Adapted From: The Free State of Jones by Victoria E. Bynum & The State of Jones by Sally Jenkins and John Stauffer
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali
Plot Summary: A disillusioned Confederate army deserter returns to Mississippi and leads a militia of fellow deserters, runaway slaves, and women in an uprising against the corrupt local Confederate government.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2014: The Sister by Poppy Adams
2013: Dover Bargain Bin: Sale Books Up to 70% Off
2012: Fashionista Piranha will be on vacation until June 9th
2011: Fashionista Piranha will be on hiatus for a while...
2010: Fireworks over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff
2009: Love's Pursuit by Siri Mitchell


Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite
by Michael P. Ghiglieri & Charles R. “Butch” Farabee, Jr.

Every year, accidents lead to tragic deaths in America's national parks. In Yosemite alone, nearly nine hundred people have died through falls, drowning, exposure, or criminal activity. In this comprehensive account of Yosemite's history, Michael Ghiglieri and Butch Farabee catalog the many ways that folks have met untimely ends in Yosemite. Peppering the grim anecdotes are also tales of rescue and the extreme effort it takes to save a life in the backwoods and sheer cliffs of America's wild. The authors occasionally enter the narrative, as both men assisted in search and rescue efforts throughout the park. They bring authority and occasional dry humor to the gripping, horrifying collection of stories.

This isn't a book for everyone. First and foremost, it's very sad. So many of these accidental deaths could have been prevents if visitors to the park would follow the instructions from rangers or posted on signs. A bit of common sense would have saved so many lives. Some thrill seekers make such appalling, poor decisions that it seems inevitable that they find a tragic ending, but that doesn't erase the lost potential of that life.

But if you are fascinated by the macabre, by harrowing tales of midnight rescues in deep snow or dangerous maneuvers done by men who can barely see in the dark, then this book is so interesting. When the book was published in 2007, it contained every Yosemite death that the authors were able to find in old and contemporary records. The deaths are listed by type: there's a chapter for drowning, climbing accidents, vehicle accidents, suicide, homicide, and more. Many of the incidents are described with novelistic flair, recreating the final moments before tragedy struck. When a victim survives, excerpts from post-accident interviews are included to fully demonstrate the impact on their lives in the weeks, months, and years after their rescue.

For those of you who trend toward squeamish, I thought I'd mention that excepting the skeleton on the cover, there are no photos of the deceased in the book. Each chapter is opened with a photograph or illustration of a Yosemite landmark or the park's wildlife, and that is it for illustration. Nothing terribly graphic.

Interested in the subject but Yosemite isn't your national park of choice? I've seen variations on this theme chronicling deaths in the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, and the Great Smoky Mountains. Poke around and I daresay you can find a few stories for any of the national parks. But I recommend this one. Ghiglieri and Farabee are a good team, capturing the drama and tragedy of each story, making tales that would be worthy of telling beside a campfire on your next adventure out in the woods.

5 out of 5 stars

To read more about Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2015: New Releases: June 2nd, 2015
2014: American Rose by Karen Abbott
2013: The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro
2012: Fashionista Piranha on vacation until June 9th…
2011: Fashionista Piranha will be on hiatus for a while…
2010: Giveaway #13: Asian Pacific American Book Lot Winner
2009: The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory

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