Julie’s Book Club: 12 for the New Year

I’m cheating a little this time and instead of reviewing a book (the book I ordered has not found its way to me yet…) I am going to look ahead at 12 books I hope to read in the New Year:

1)      Hild: A Novel by Nicola Griffith

This historical novel is about Hild, the niece of the King of Britain who grows into a powerful figure–and eventually is sainted Hilda of Whitby. I’ve loved Griffith’s fluid prose since I happened upon her novel Slow River years ago. I can’t wait to see what she does in a historical setting–7th Century Britain.

2)      Embassytown by China Miéville

A friend suggested I read Miéville for his immersive worlds. I chose this book, about the human colonist Avice Benner Cho, who returns to Embassytown after years of adventuring in deep space. Homecoming stories interest me, and especially those that touch upon the possibilities of great shifts in space and time between one’s leaving and one’s return.

3)      The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

This is on my Christmas list. I started reading The Sandman comics in high school, and I’ve been hooked on Gaiman since. This novel, about a businessman who returns home and delves into childhood memories best left undisturbed, promises to be dark and dreamlike. I can’t wait to see how the three Fate-like women, who live in the house at the end of the lane, are drawn and what their roles are.

4)      The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Water horses. A girl named Puck. Horse races. Fate. Even if not for Jen’s endorsement of Stiefvater, I’d probably still pluck this book off the shelf.

5)      The Ward by Jordana Frankel

This is Frankel’s YA debut, a dystopian novel about New York after floods, plagues, high-stakes hover racing, and friendship. I got to meet Frankel and hear about the book while it was still being edited, and I want to know how it ends!

6)      Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

This novel has been sitting on my shelf for far too long. (Anyone else have that curse where they buy books and don’t read them, but borrow them and finish them in a day?) I loved and was disturbed by The Handmaid’s Tale, The Blind Assassin, and The Year of the Flood, so I don’t know what I’m waiting for. 2014, perhaps?

7)      Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel by Susanna Clarke

This is another of those books that has been recommended time and again. Like The Prestige, it is about two magicians, and it works in slow reveals. I’ll want to be taking notes on suspense and plot the entire time, if I can keep that up through 1,000-plus pages.

8)      Zig-Zag Wanderer by Madison Smartt Bell

Bell’s limited edition short story collection will be distributed for free (with the request that readers make a donation to a worthy cause), and I hope to catch him reading at The Ivy bookshop in Baltimore next week. The stories, set in the U.S., Haiti, and other places, are mostly named after songs (REM’s “Fall on Me” is among them) and some include musical elements themselves. Bell’s work often goes to dark and strange places–count me in.

9)      The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Because Anne said so.

10)  The Harry Potter audiobooks

This might be wishful thinking, but one of these days I’d like to listen to all of the audiobooks, as performed by Jim Dale.

11)  The Bondwoman’s Narrative: A Novel by Hannah Crafts

Written in the 1850s, this may be the first novel penned by a female African American slave. Crafts, a mulatto, writes about the autobiographical experiences of “passing” and making her way to freedom. Her unpublished manuscript was discovered in 2001 by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.

12)  Looking for Alaska by John Green

After thoroughly enjoying Will Grayson, Will Grayson and tearing up at The Fault in Our Stars, I’m ready for another John Green novel. His YA protagonists are strongly voiced, and their struggles are both uniquely their own and universal. He draws the high school out crowd in a completely new way, and the lessons they learn are just as applicable to adults picking up these books.

So, that’s my list. Is there anything you would recommend? Have any thoughts about something I’ve added? Leave them in the comments!

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Anne’s Book Club 03

Halloween is my favorite holiday. As a tiny human, “I cut my teeth on horror books in the darkness” (sung to Lorde’s Royals). There’s something visceral and vitally important about being scared. And what better way to do it than under your covers with a flashlight in one hand and a good book in the other?

In honor of the season, and to get you in the spirit, here are five books perfect for nighttime reading (listed in the order of publication):

  1. StephenKingPetSemataryPet Sematary by Stephen King
    Amazon description:

    “Sometimes dead is better….”

    When the Creeds move into a beautiful old house in rural Maine, it all seems too good to be true: physician father, beautiful wife, charming little daughter, adorable infant son — and now an idyllic home.

    As a family, they’ve got it all…right down to the friendly cat. But the nearby woods hide a blood-chilling truth — more terrifying than death itself…and hideously more powerful.

    I read this when I was 9 or 10. It made my heart beat a million miles a second. And I loved that feeling of uncontrollable fear! We watched the movie at a Halloween party and screamed our heads off. I’m sure the neighbors loved us. It’s a classic horror story that sticks with you long after the last page.

  2. MaryDowningHahnWaitTillHelenComesWait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn
    Amazon description:

    Twelve-year-old Molly and her ten-year-old brother, Michael, have never liked their seven-year-old stepsister, Heather. Ever since their parents got married, she’s made Molly and Michael’s life miserable. Now their parents have moved them all to the country to live in a house that used to be a church, with a cemetery in the backyard. If that’s not bad enough, Heather starts talking to a ghost named Helen and warning Molly and Michael that Helen is coming for them. Molly feels certain Heather is in some kind of danger, but every time she tries to help, Heather twists things around to get her into trouble. It seems as if things can’t get any worse.

    But they do — when Helen comes.

    I got this book from a library sale in my preteen years. The cover is what caught my eye. I loved this story as a kid, so when I read it a couple years to see if it held up, I was happily in love again. I hold all ghost stories against this one, my first.

  3. RLStineGoosebumpsGoosebumps by R. L. Stine
    Amazon description:

    Discover the original bone-chilling adventures that made Goosebumps one of the bestselling children’s book series of all time!

    Something scary is happening in GOOSEBUMPS HORRORLAND, the all-new, all-terrifying series by R. L. Stine. Just how scary? You’ll never know unless you crack open this classic prequel!

    Discover the fan-favorite thriller and chiller that first introduced the world to the wooden face of fear. The puppet who pulls all the strings. None other than Slappy the Dummy!

    My brother devoured these books. Each book is a new story with a new monster. R. L. Stine has often been called the Stephen King of Children’s Literature — and with good reason. They make the perfect gift for a younger reader.

  4. BrennaYovanoffTheReplacementThe Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
    Amazon description:

    Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

    Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate’s baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

    Creepy town. Captivating characters. Chapter Eleven Human Love is my most favorite chapter in any book I’ve read in a long time. IMO, it’s the heart of the novel, and it’s the heart of what makes love simple and complicated and perfectly human.

  5. AprilGenevieveTucholkeBtDatDBSBetween the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
    Amazon description:

    You stop fearing the Devil when you’re holding his hand…Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery…who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

    Gothic setting. An attic full of possibilities. Old movies. A cemetery filled with children hunting vampires. And a thrilling mystery that unfolds as darkly as a stain of blood on a crisp white shirt.

What are some of your favorite horror novels?

ENTER TO WIN A SIGNED COPY OF THE REPLACEMENT BY BRENNA YOVANOFF OR A SIGNED POSTER FROM THE BREATHLESS READS TOUR 2010:

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HAPPY CIMMERWEEN!

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Return here tomorrow to read four new stories to celebrate Cimmerween!