A Discovery of Witches

8667848A Discovery of Witches
Deborah Harkness
Published February 8, 2011
579 pages (hardcover)

If you want to write a best-selling series, there are some safe bets when it comes to subject matter.

You can go the post-apocalyptic route, like:

Or you can go the magic/wizard/witch route, like:

Or you can go the vampire/werewolf route, like:

And, if you’re really reaching for the stars, you can combine any of these categories for something truly special. Post-apocalyptic wizards! Magic-potion-wielding werewolves! Continue reading

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The Invention of Wings

the-invention-of-wings-sue-monk-kidd_t580The Invention of Wings
Sue Monk Kidd
Published January 7, 2014
373 pages (hardcover)

Scroll through Oprah’s Book Club: The Complete List, and you will very quickly pick up on some common themes: heartbreak, struggle, tragedy, and ultimate self-discovery. More often than not, the books are historical fiction. And they tend to be beautifully written (if a little heavy handed).

It’s no surprise, therefore, that The Invention of Wings is the latest book to be added to the list. Continue reading

Your 2014 Holiday Gift Guide

Alright, y’all, Hanukkah is only five short days away, and we’ve hit the two-week Christmas countdown. If you haven’t finished your holiday gift shopping, it’s time to get cracking.

Stressed out about what to get all of your literate friends? Stress no more! Here is your 2014 holiday gift guide:

THE ABSOLUTELY FREE AND UTTERLY DELIGHTFUL GIFT TO GIVE TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS WHO ADORE HARRY POTTER:

B4F_ylnIgAI3f6K.png-largeThis year, Christmas is coming early for Harry Potter fans. J.K. Rowling has announced that, in the twelve days leading up to Christmas, she will release a new Harry Potter story each day on pottermore.com. The announcement came out on Facebook, and you can read the details here.

In order to access these new stories, you have to answer a rhyming riddle. So, do the legwork for your Harry Potter-fan friends. Send a link each day to the new story with the answer to the rhyming riddle (unless your friends would prefer to answer the riddle themselves—in which case, just send the link!).

Then, you can cap off the twelve days of Harry Potter story links with a “real” gift on Christmas Day! How about a replica of Tom Riddle’s diary? Or some butterbeer lip balm? Or “I love you like Dobby loves socks” note cards? Or a Quidditch hoodie showing support for your friend’s favorite house? All of these and more (much, much, MUCH more) are available on Etsy.

Act quickly! The first story comes out TOMORROW!! Continue reading

The Rosie Effect

41655pohe4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Rosie Effect
Graeme Simsion
Expected publication date: December 30, 2014
288 pages (ARC e-book)

I read a silly little book earlier this year that I described as “complete fluff destined for the big screen.” I gave it a 2.5 and said it was “as mindless and happy-go-lucky as any chick-flick.”

A few months later, another blogger had an entirely different read on the same book. He said it was “one of the most profound novels [he’s] read in a long time” and described it as “an extraordinarily clever, funny, and moving book.”

The book? The Rosie Project, the debut novel by Graeme Simsion about Don Tillman, an extremely socially awkward man on a scientific search for the perfect mate (“the Wife Project”). Hilarity ensues when, instead, he finds Rosie, a smart and fun woman who fails to meet a number of his necessary criteria for ideal compatibility (She’s a smoker! She’s vegetarian! She’s often tardy! She has spiky red hair!!). Predictably, they fall in love.

The glowing reviewer? Bill Gates. Continue reading

Yes Please

513z2S4IIuL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Yes Please
Amy Poehler
Published October 28, 2014
332 pages (hardcover)

I have a confession to make: until a few days ago, I had never seen an episode of Parks and Recreation. In fact, I didn’t watch an episode of Parks and Recreation until after I finished reading Amy Poehler’s book (for the record, I really enjoyed it and will be watching more). So, I am perhaps not the most qualified judge of her work.

But I do know this: back in the late-nineties, I saw a bit on Late Night with Conan O’Brien that I thought was hilarious. There was a chick who was playing Andy’s little sister. She had headgear, a ridiculous lisp, and was OBSESSED with Conan. She acted nuts, jumping on chairs and being generally overly exuberant . . . but, when Conan told her that he was too old for her, she flipped the switch and went ape shit. I found it so funny that I started watching Conan regularly in the hopes that she would be on it (this was, of course, in the days before YouTube and DVR). Here is the first one I saw: Continue reading

The Magicians

51Omgf4bBkL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Magicians
Lev Grossman
Published August 11, 2009
402 pages (Hardcover)

A few months ago, I saw Lev Grossman speak at the Decatur Book Festival. He was at the festival both in his capacity as TIME Magazine’s chief book critic and also as the author of The Magicians Trilogy (the last book in the series, The Magician’s Land, had just been released). Because I hadn’t read any of his books at the time, I skipped out on his reading, but I did see him participate in a panel entitled “What’s the Point of Book Reviews?” (You can read more about that panel here.)

Grossman struck me as funny, insightful, engaging, and really, really smart. Based on my very favorable impression of him, I decided I needed to read his trilogy as soon as possible. It took me a little longer than anticipated to read the first book in the trilogy, thanks to a ridiculously long wait list at the library for a five-year-old book (the wait speaks to the trilogy’s popularity and the success of/hype for the trilogy’s finale). But I finally knocked it out.  Continue reading