Friday, December 16, 2011

Heather's Young Adult Reading List

During this time of year we get all sorts of “help” requests—“help me find a book for my history loving father”, “I need a book about cute pigs for my sister”, “what’s the newest and best thriller for my husband”—you get the drift. Lately, possibly because of the location of my office, the most common question I’ve been hearing is regarding books for teenagers, namely, “what book do I get for my teenager for the holidays”. So, parents, aunts, uncles, friends, and grandparents—here’s your heads-up, a list of some of the newer and better teen* reads out there.

For lovers of The Hunger Games and all things dystopic:

Legend by Marie Lu: You can’t put this one down. It’s one of the few teen reads that has captivated readers of different genres. Dystopic, with alternating boy and girl chapters, this is fast paced and addictive. A must read.

Crossed by Ally Condie: This sequel to Matched still has the romance of its predecessor, but is equally filled with action and adventure. Its cliffhanger style ending is a little frustrating, but it is the middle book of a trilogy, so it goes with the territory. Solid series read.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis: Dystopia in space—that ought to draw you in alone! New in paperback, this is an interesting story revolving around a ship carrying frozen personnel as well as generations of ship workers, destined for a new Earth. Chaos begins when the lone teen boy on board awakes one of the frozen. The sequel, A Million Suns, arrives in January and is just as intriguing.

For those who dig zombies, creepy schools, and a touch of fantasy:

Dearly Departed by Lia Habel: Zombie armies, underground cities, and a modern America turned Victorian, all make for one heck of a surprising read. Don’t let the cover fool you on this one; it’s chapters alternate between multiple characters—boys, girls, army generals, and scientists—it’s for anyone who enjoys a good science fiction mystery (with a skosh of romance). Entertaining and original Dearly Departed is a definite pleaser.

Variant by Robison Wells: What do you do at a mysterious academy that’s surrounded by wire fences, monitored by video cameras, and ruled by three very specific cliques—trust no one! A great mystery with a slight sci-fi twist, Variant is the perfect guy read (girls will enjoy too) this holiday season.

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce: The last in the Beka Cooper series, Mastiff is a fun action-adventure fantasy. The series is a nice prequel to her other Tortall books, and Mastiff does a fantastic job of sucking you in—such a good job in fact that it led me to reread all of the other Tortall books upon finishing (that’s 14 books, 15 if you count the short stories).

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater: With the Shiver trilogy under her belt you can guarantee that Maggie Stiefvater will take a myth and turn it on it’s head in a remarkable way. In The Scorpio Races she takes the kelpie myth and turns it into a beautifully written story that follows a boy and a girl as they prepare for the gruesomely difficult Scorpio Race, a race that is stalked by death. This is an unusual tale, gripping for guys and girls, and very satisfying.

The one non-paranormal/dystopic/fantasy etc. on my list:

The Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John: New in paperback, this is a great all around teen read. It centers on Piper, a young deaf teen who takes up the challenge of managing a band. Filled with fantastic music references, a touch of romance, and enough angst to satisfy fans of Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti, Five Flavors of Dumb, is a solid and engaging read for young adults.

Hopefully this list gives you some ideas for the holiday season; of course we have many fabulous booksellers who are filled with far more recommends than I could possibly list here. So, come in and talk to them, I promise you will learn about some amazing books.

*or the adult reader who just enjoys good fiction (hey, I’m one of them)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ed King: The Book Jim Stewart Couldn't Put Down

It's one of my goals to find a book that I just can't put down, that page-turner that is so captivating it takes precedent over any other form of entertainment. I have a running list of those books and now I can add Ed King by David Guterson.

Guterson is known from his earlier tome, Snow Falling on Cedars, which many of you may have read, or seen the movie. His writing about characters is so believable, whether or not the person is particularly likeable, that you want to know what is going to happen in the story for everyone involved.

I was thrilled to read Ed King and strongly recommend it. I know there is a lot of competition for what to read, and we all have lists of titles to enjoy (so at least we can tell people the book's “on my list,” whether or not it's read in the next few months...or years!). But you can't just put Ed King on a list. I'm limited in what I can say about the book without giving major plot points away. Suffice it to say that Ed is an orphan, left on a random doorstep in Portland, Oregon. He is adopted by the King family and, following the well-known path of boy to manhood, goes through excruciating adjustments. His time of madcap rebellion is a turning point in his life, showing how determined he is to be independent from any control. Nevertheless, he becomes an Internet magnate after creating an uber-successful search engine. Although he isn't aware of this until the very end of the story, his birth parents play a major role in his life. Those two plot points emerge as a life-changing experience for Ed. The story is a contemporary take on Sophocles' Oedipus the King. To know this plot development dissipates some of the story's tension. Despite this open secret (every book reviewer has uncovered this spoiler) it doesn't take away from your concern for Ed's life and its challenges.

I do want to hear others' responses to reading this book and look forward to hearing from you, so feel free to comment here, come into the store for a chat, or email me at

Jim is a bookseller at Warwick's.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Warwick's Staff Presents: The Best Books of 2011

It's once again that time of year for us to look back on all that we've read in 2011 and ponder our favorites. Booksellers love to revisit their year in books, debating with each other about their various merits, and which ones were the best. This year is no different. Our diverse group of readers has gotten together and named our favorite books of 2011 and here they are for your perusal.

Emily, bookseller: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. A truly fantastic read and easily my pick for this year. Julian Barnes delivers the most thought provoking book I have read in a long time.

John, bookseller/book buyer: Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal by James D. Hornfischer. 2011 has been a good year for World War II histories, among them Roberts' Storm of War, Hastings' Inferno, Toll's Pacific Crucible, and Symonds' Battle of Midway. Although I wholeheartedly recommend all of the aforementioned books, I would single out James Hornfischer's superb history of the naval actions at Guadalcanal, Neptune's Inferno. Hornfischer delivers a powerful and, at times, gut-wrenching account of the deadliest naval campaign of the War in the Pacific. He tacks perfectly among different perspectives -- from bluejackets to admirals -- and thereby offers a history that is at once sweeping and personal. Furthermore, Neptune's Inferno is, to the best of my knowledge, the first comprehensive history of the naval campaign at Guadalcanal since that offered by Samual Eliot Morison years ago. Not only was this book a great read, it also fundamentally transformed my understanding of the War in the Pacific.

Kim, Office Supply: Both my daughter and I poured over The Hugo Movie Companion by Brian Selznick, both before and after seeing the magical movie. It is a fascinating look at how the book (The Invention of Hugo Cabret) was transformed into a 3-D, sure to be family-favorite, film. A must read book and must see movie for children and adults.

Janet, bookseller: It's a hard choice, but I must say my favorite book of 2011 is The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman. Dramatic and compelling, the story of 4 women during the siege of the Masada swept me away to the ancient past. I couldn't put it down!

Joe, General Manager: My favorite  book of 2011 was We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen. It dashed any hopes of me being seaworthy with a wondrous, brutal, and sometimes too real portrait of life in and by the sea. I loved how it went on from person to person and generation to generation.

Margie, Office Supply: With the many books I've read in 2011, The Vault by Boyd Morrison is still my #1 pick. Mr. Morrison's works never lack in the thrill and excitement departments. There is no disappointment in this gripping tale of King Midas' lost treasure and the consequences of it falling into the wrong hands. I honestly could not put this one down!

Jan, Children's Book Buyer: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick. A story told through illustrations and another told with words are woven together in a masterful way in this incredible book. Children and adults both will be wrapped up in the magical, intriguing unfolding of the story and truly feel the "wonder" when finished.

Adriana, bookseller: Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. Equal parts Capote & Fitzgerald, and just as brilliantly written, Rules of Civility will have you reading through the night but ultimately wishing you’d savored it just a little bit more. This is definitely my pick for book of the year.

Adrian, Book Buyer: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. I loved this remarkable, thoroughly researched novel about Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife and possibly his greatest love. And despite the fact that we know how the story ends, what comes before is a fascinating, engrossing read. From the early penny-pinching heady days of first love, to their friendships with the literati of Jazz Age Paris--the Fitzgeralds, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, the Pounds, the Murphys, and many more--this story reveals a Hemingway who, while uncertain of his writing ability, is fiercely determined to be a successful author. From the adrenaline driven days in Pamplona watching the famed bullfights to the snowy ski slopes of the Alps, the reader is drawn into their love story…one that begins so hopefully but ends in heartbreak. This novel would spark a great book group discussion.

... and one more (because she is our Head Book Buyer)...

Unlikely Friendships by Jennifer Holland. Opposites really do attract! You cannot look at this book without smiling! The perfect book for animal lovers.

Rob, bookseller, Office Supplies, Cheese Concierge: Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. A novel that is beautifully written and to me to 1930's New York City.

The book The Night Circus by Erin Morgestern was without a doubt one of the staff's most talked about novels, and this year for the first time, several members of the staff were unable to name any other book as 2011's best.

James, bookseller: With it's truly unique imagery and blending of genres, my favorite book of the year is Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus. You can truly tell I love a book if I take the chance to give my copy away. As of now, I have no idea where my dog-eared advanced reader's copy might be. Every time a friend or colleague would return the book to me, I would send it on its way again. By now, I am sure it is well read and well loved.

Julie, Director of Events: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I wish I could re-read this book for the first time again.

Heather, Marketing Coordinator: The Night Circus is quite simply, compelling. Unfurling itself layer by layer, it is a labyrinth of a tale that one must wander through, much like the characters must wander through the circus discovering new tents and delights with every turn—never fully capable of exploring every crook and cranny no matter how many times they visit. This is a novel whose secrets and hidden depths will never cease to amaze, no matter how many time it is read.

Phoebe, Office Supply: One of my favorite reads this year was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I was anxious to read it because of the enthusiasm of my co workers. Even the book jacket got my attention with it’s mysterious and whimsical artwork. Then you open the book and enter a magical world. The ego of two old magicians up against each other to prove themselves. The circus is the stage of the conflict, but it becomes more than that to the characters in the book. I wish to be a reveur and follow a magical circus around the world.

Jim, bookseller: A perfect combination of fantasy with memorable characters. Magicians conjour a circus in cities around the world with two magicians unknowingly in a contest.