Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Double Helix by Nancy Werlin

Double Helix, by Nancy Werlin, is a mystery-thriller about modern-day scientific advancement and the ethical price humanity pays when trying to play God. While it's a page-turner with an engaging protagonist, the ground it treads is a bit too familiar.

Eli Samuels is about to graduate from high school. Despite his father's protestations, he refuses to think about college. It's not because Eli doesn't think he's smart enough (he's the smartest kid in his year), or because he doesn't like to learn. His mother has Huntington's Disease, and caring for her has eaten up all of the family's money. Eli knows his father can't afford to send him to college, so why bother with the charade of filling out applications?

On the night that Eli's father finally realizes his son hasn't applied anywhere, Eli has a bit too much to drink, sends off an email to none other than Dr. Quincy Wyatt, geneticist and head of Wyatt Transgenics, and asks him for a job. To Eli's embarrassment, Dr. Wyatt does not simply delete the email, and instead asks to see him. Unbelievably, he hires Eli as a lab assistant, a job that normally goes to someone with a college degree. Eli's excited to be working with a man who is regarded as a genius in the biogenetic field, a man who seems intent on mentoring him, a man with whom he doesn't have to hold back when discussing scientific matters. Eli has always felt his brain is a handicap, and it's refreshing to talk with someone whose intellect not only matches his, but surpasses it. Moreover, the work Dr. Wyatt is doing with DNA - the work Eli himself would be doing - could change the world.

Eli's father does not share his excitement. Barely on speaking terms with his son, he begs Eli in a letter not to take the job. He can't tell Eli why, he just asks that Eli trust him. Bit by bit, Eli finds out just why his father is so adamant about avoiding Dr. Wyatt and what Dr. Wyatt's research has to do with his family. He also discovers something shocking about himself.

Double Helix reminds me a lot of Mary Pearson's The Adoration of Jenna Fox. However, I thought Adoration was more tightly written with a more surprising plot and a more satisfying payoff. I was never surprised or shocked by the events of Double Helix; I expected the final revelation and was disappointed there wasn't more to it. The payoff at the end is what makes or breaks these bioethics mystery-thrillers. Double Helix's just didn't pack enough punch.

Werlin has created a very three-dimensional character in Eli. His actions are a mixture of frustrating, disappointing, and laudatory, just as a teenager's actions generally are. Even when I wanted to shake him for his treatment of those he loved, I could understand. By the end of the book, he had grown considerably. Werlin is able to pull off an authentic teenage male voice, something I've seen female young adult authors struggle with sometimes. That said, I still don't feel the characterization was as strong in Eli as it was in Jenna. In all fairness, this may be because Jenna's situation demanded more character growth. I loved Adoration so much that it seems unfair to constantly compare Double Helix to it. Werlin's book was still a great read and I enjoyed every minute of it.

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Double Helix to teens interested in reading a good mystery or thriller. It's quick, exciting, well-written, and the science behind the plot is spelled out in plain English so most teens won't have a hard time understanding it. The ethical questions it raises are important and timely, even if they have been raised by numerous other authors before. (It's worth mentioning that Werlin does have firm answers to the questions her book asks, and many readers may not agree with them. But then what is the point of reading if we are only fed what we already believe?) For readers who haven't read many books about this topic, it's a great starting place. It might spur them on to finding more of this subgenre. For someone such as myself who devours stories like these, it seemed a bit "been there, done that." There are more inventive books out there.

Continue reading...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Double take

With inspirational credit to the Alea Pop Culture blog, I thought it would be interesting to look at cover art that appears on multiple books, making them eerily similar. In a sea of fiction, how does one navigate when there are so many similar looking books (admit it, you DO judge a book by its cover, at least initially!).

While perusing some of the new titles for 2009, both those that have been released already and those to be published soon, I ran across this cover double. Published first:

Andrew O'Keeffe's The Boss to be published by Greenleaf April 30 uses a tie to stand in place of the "o." The Boss is a humorous and all-too-realistic story about working beneath a number of bosses making absurd demands, stealing ideas, and squelching main character Lauren's creativity. This book's geared for an adult audience.

Coming out literally days after The Boss is this book geared for the young adult audience:

Initiation by Susan Fine is set for release in May by Flux publishers. Rather than use the image of the tie with the same stripped design (though in different colors) as part of the title, it's meant to stand alone as the background image. Initiation is a story a middle class Latino boy trying to survive -- forget fitting in at! -- an elite private school in Manhattan.

So, which cover did it better? Personally, I think the design is pretty interesting, period, which is the only reason I even noticed it. I had put Initiation on my to-be-read list last night and found The Boss this evening. I'm curious if this will cause any confusion given their similar publishing time frames, albeit different topics and target audiences.

Do you know of any other covers that look similar? Share with us in the comments!

Continue reading...

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Something I think a lot about when I'm reading a novel is place -- I love reading the setting details and getting a real sense of where I am. I do not care if it's real or imagined, as a good setting will resonate long after I close the book. Throughout the blog, something I hope to continually offer our readers is what I like to call geo-reading: a visual map of places and the books set in or near them.

My parameters are quite simple. If a book takes place in or depicts the setting well enough, I'll map it with a short synopsis. I've got a load of plans for future iterations of this type of geo-reading, but for now, here are 6 America-based stories, their reviews, and their mapping.

Click the link below the map to see a full-screen version of the map and review. Or, if you want, you can just click the link to "continue reading" and see the reviews alone.

View Geo-reading #1 in a larger map

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

Tessa was born with a port-wine stain on her cheek, a flaw which she both rejects and embraces. Told through a series of cartographic references, North of Beautiful is a sweet story about friendship, family, romance, and about accepting oneself. The acceptance issues range from relationship acceptance, place acceptance, cultural acceptance, and acceptance of ones self. The bulk of the story is set in and focuses on life in Corville, Washington, though much of the second half of this book takes place in China.

North of Beautiful is an ideal read for those wanting something light, enjoyable, but with a good message and strong writing. Some of the characters and situations are clunky or improbable in the greater context, but the story certainly will appeal to those interested in realistic, sweet fiction.

Though marketed for teens, this book will appeal to those 14 and older, including adults.

Need by Carrie Jones

Although compared over and over to the likes of Twilight and Wicked Lovely, Need stands out among the throngs of new fiction about zombies, fairies, vampires, were creatures, and pixies. Need follows Zara as she is sent from her native Charleston, SC to the middle of no where in Maine to live with her grandmother, following the death of her father (technically, her stepfather and technically, her stepgrandmother).

As she's on the tarmac in flight, a mysterious man appears to be following her. A series of encounters with the strange man in Maine, as well as a trail of gold dust, convince her that she is being summoned by the pixie.

Where there is ample opportunity for Need to stumble down the path of trite or overworked, Jones does a great job of developing strong and smart characters, as well as beautiful writing and scene setting. The story is clean, with little violence and little coarse language.

Of course, what story would be complete without a budding romance, a little family drama, and a bunch of high school eclectics? Need will appeal to the Twilight crowd, but it will also appeal to those who have not otherwise been sold on the concept of make-believe built into real world situations. The writing will draw you in, and the characters will leave you needing more.

Honolulu by Alan Brennert

Brennert's real magic in writing is his ability to carefully follow the life of an individual living through history -- the ups, the downs, the exciting, and the mundane. In Honolulu, Brennert depicts the life of Jin, who leaves her life and traditional family structure in Korea to become a picture bride in Hawaii, which she and her fellow picture brides believe is a place covered in golden streets and magic.

Honolulu is a lot like a large flower. You peel away each petal and watch as Jin grows and learns through her choices and her environmental changes (both decided for and decided by her). Beside the historical moments she experiences, we watch as she navigates the terrain of remaining loyal to her heritage and discovering what it means to be American. This is a book of layers.

Brennert did incredible research for the book, and it shows. He captures detail amazingly well and is able to delineate definitive historical moments without making them trite or overwritten. His timing in this novel is a bit off, though, because of this. He wants to move on to new ideas and new issues but sometimes leaves older ones too quickly. Within a couple of lines, years may go by without any in between action. In Moloka'i, his first novel, this was better and the time transitions were smoother and more fluid.

Parts of the book dragged and others I could not read fast enough, and that's the entire point. It's a story of a person, through and through.

Fans of Moloka'i would like this one, as would anyone with an interest in American historical fiction in the early 20th century, identity, culture, and those who love good writing. The prose is undeniably solid and beautiful.

Though marketed for adults, this book will appeal to older teens who are interested in historical fiction, Korean or Hawaiian culture, particularly during the World War era.

Out of the Pocket by Bill Konigsberg

Out of the Pocket is targeted at high schoolers but is much farther reaching. Think Geography Club but with a bit of a more accepting attitude of one's sexuality. A complete review of the book can be read at my personal blog here. This has been one of my favorite reads this year which is surprising, as it covers all of the topics that some how make me nervous when an author touches: football, getting into college, and coming out.

Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher

In the 1940s in the back of the yards neighborhood, there aren't a lot of work options for women, particularly the teens who are forced to work to keep their families afloat.

Ten Cents a Dance follows 15-year-old Ruby Jacinski as she quits her job in the stockyards for a job as a taxi dancer. Of course, Ruby doesn't tell her mother how she's making all of her extra money nor does her mother have a clue the situations that Ruby puts herself into.

This historical fiction is paced well, with incredible detailing, and a fascinating main character. I think that Fletcher did a great job showing rather than telling what the impending background in history is throughout the book, and rather than drag the story down in the fact this was WWII, she does a brilliant job telling the reader about life in the back of the yards.

Ten Cents a Dance is marketed for the teen audience, but this is a book that has proven appeal to adults, as well. Particularly for those with an interest in history, world war II, Chicago, or the underground world of taxi dancers, this novel will be a hit. It is a quick read but it is also a read that leaves you wanting more, more, more.

My Mother the Cheerleader by Robert Sharenow

The book follows Louise and her mother, who is a cheerleader against desegregation in 9th ward New Orleans during the time of Ruby Bridges. The story moved quick and I think the characters were done relatively well. The historical and place settings were done realistically and with enchantment and with a bit of a dark cloud of impending trouble.

I think, though, Sharenow -- who is a writer and producer for A&E -- misses an opportunity here. He picked an interesting time, place, and perspective, but he seems to not delve deeply enough. I don't think we get enough of the story. We get the icing and no cake, when there is prime opportunity to deliver both without getting in any way preachy. I think this'll just be a missed opportunity, though it is certainly not a lost cause entirely.

I think this could be an interesting companion book to the classic To Kill a Mockingbird. Taught well or read by the right person, it'll strike a chord and perhaps spur a real interest in Ruby Bridges, the historical south, and issues of segregation -- both from the side of the segregee and segregator.

Continue reading...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

My Faves, or, Three Books That Changed My Life

Hello readers! As Kelly mentioned, the idea behind our inaugural posts is to give visitors a taste of each of our reading personalities. Without further ado:


My Favorites

When I read a book, it takes several years and multiple re-readings to become a favorite of mine. I think the hallmark of a great book is that it keeps you thinking about it long after you turn the last page, and the three books I've listed below all share that quality. Additionally, they are all books that have impacted my life in a big way. I wouldn't be who I am now if I hadn't read them. Unlike Kelly, mine are listed in order.

His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman

On the surface, Pullman's trilogy is about a girl named Lyra who discovers a way to reach parallel universes. Underneath, the books explore notions of heaven and hell, love, maturity, and the nature of the human soul. I wrote my college admission essay on these books. (I hope I was admitted because of the essay, not in spite of it.) It's impossible to describe just why the trilogy matters so much to me without getting too personal, but it's enough to say that it changed my life.

I keep coming back to these books because they truly have the literature trifecta: elegant and powerfully written prose, a fascinating plot, and an important ideology that merits serious thought.

Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling

If this list is to be honest at all, I have to confess that Harry Potter belongs on it. I grew up on Harry Potter, and it is impossible to separate my childhood from him. Every year or so, I had a new book to look forward to. I waited in lines at midnight for them. I taught myself basic HTML in high school by creating a fan page for the series (now mercifully located in Internet no man's land). I learned how to make cockroach clusters and turned a green t-shirt into a Slytherin quidditch jersey. When the seventh book came out, I helped organize a release party and stayed up until the wee hours to read it. After I finished it, I joined a facebook group called "Finishing Harry Potter 7 is like destroying the 7th horcrux of my childhood." If I ever feel blue, I pop in one of the books on CD and Jim Dale's voice immediately makes me smile. Harry Potter is more than a guaranteed pick me up; it's part of what defines me.

I've had conversations with family and friends about the life expectancy of the series' popularity. One person thinks the books will become classics like Alice in Wonderland. Another believes they would have already been forgotten if the movie machinery weren't still carrying them long past their expiration date. I'm sure you can tell with which person I agree. The books are such a part of me that it is impossible to take the necessary step back and evaluate them objectively. I don't see that as a bad thing at all. It's what great books are meant to do - grab you and never let you go.

Biting the Sun, by Tanith Lee

Probably the least well-known book of the three on my list, Biting the Sun is a dystopia set in a future world where consequences do not exist. You can jump off a building if you want to see what it feels like, and your consciousness/soul/life force will be salvaged from your wrecked body and placed into a new body of your own design. With no limits on what humans can do, things get pretty bizarre. Genders are interchanged, people routinely walk around with antennae or leopard spots, and thinking up creative ways to kill yourself is considered a fun hobby. For awhile, it's all well and good for the unnamed protagonist, a member of the Jang (similar to our own teenagers, except being Jang lasts several decades instead of a few years). Then she begins to realize that she feels empty, and she notices the same symptoms in her fellow Jang. So she does something radical, and suddenly, the word "consequences" has meaning again.

It's one of the more unique dystopias I've read. Lee has created her own set of slang that is quite fun to pick up on. What has really made this book stick with me for so long, however, is the ending. It's daring and new for its sub-genre, but also completely honest and satisfying.

On My Bookshelf

Considering my top three books are all fantasies, I hope these next three selections will give you a greater idea of my range. I do love to read all kinds.

The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog, by Elizabeth Peters

This is the seventh book in a mystery series featuring 19th century Egyptologist Amelia Peabody and her irascible husband Emerson. I'm listening to this one as an audio mp3 download. I've never actually read one of Peters' in print, because the narrator, Barbara Rosenblat, is such a joy to listen to. What I like about these books is the strong female protagonist, the interesting historical and archaeological tidbits, and the humor. Told in first-person by Amelia herself, these books are funny. I laugh out loud while listening to them on the bus and startle the people around me. The entire series is of a consistently high quality.

To D-Day and Back, by Bob Bearden

I bought this book from Bearden at a bluebonnet festival about a year ago and am just getting around to reading it now. It's a World War II memoir about Bearden's experiences as a paratrooper and as a German prisoner of war after being captured on D-Day Plus 2. This is usually how I like to read my historical nonfiction, from the pen of a person who lived it. More than just being enjoyable, I also think books like these are important.

The Expl
osionist, by Jenny Davidson

Davidson's debut novel explores what the world may have looked like in the 1930s if Napoleon had defeated Wellington at Waterloo. I'm always fascinated by the concept of alternate history books but have been generally disappointed by the ones I have picked up. I'm about fifty pages into this one and am still interested. Sophie, the teenage protagonist, lives in a world where seances are considered legitimate, young women join a mysterious group called IRLYNS after they graduate high school, and Scotland - part of the New Hanseatic League - is on the brink of war with Europe. Interesting stuff.

Continue reading...

Friday, April 24, 2009

I simply remember my favorite things...

Welcome to the second in a series of introductory posts.


No singing required for reading, despite the lyrical content of the title of this entry. As a children's librarian, I constantly find myself singing in the workroom in a desperate attempt to practice before embarrassing myself in front of the little ones.. While I personally find that song enhances all kinds of experiences, I understand that not everyone holds these views. (And strangely enough, my favorite things do not involve whiskers on kittens.)

When asked to list my top three books, I also had some issues. It's easy to determine what are NOT my favorite books -- damn you, Ulysses -- but coming up with favorites always conjures images from Sophie's Choice. Which one? Which ONE?!

Ugh, I have problems.

I've managed to narrow things down. A cautionary word - I do not believe that these are the best books in the world. But they're the ones that I keep coming back to; these selections are the junk food of my bookshelves.

The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker and edited by Marion Meade

For almost every situation in life, there is an applicable Dorothy Parker quotation. This caustic darling of the Algonquin Round Table may not have been the happiest person, but she was possibly one of the funniest. A literary bon vivant, Dorothy Parker contributed poetry and essays to publications such as The New Yorker; later in her career, she became a screenwriter, most notable for the 1937 adaptation of A Star Is Born, which is definitely on my list of favorite films.

I don't quite remember my first encounter with Dorothy Parker -- I have vague memories of my mother watching Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle while ironing one Sunday. I think I stopped and watched a little bit of the movie then wandered off. I was first introduced to Dorothy Parker's writing in my high school American Literature class. We had to read "One Perfect Rose" during class; most of us twittered at the witty verses. I remember thinking, "This is much better than the other stuff we've been reading," and promptly became a fan.

Her poetry is scathing. She's bitter, cynical, yet the chinks in her armor reveal a more human side. She spends a lot of time mocking things that she really wants. As a defense mechanism? Probably. But it's one of my chosen methods of coping with disappointment as well. My battered copy of Dorothy Parker poetry has traveled with me through countless moves across the country, from Texas to California and back again. I recently bought myself this updated version of The Portable Dorothy Parker to augment my grimy original Dorothy Parker poetry collection. My favorite work has to be the review of "Ziegfield Follies of 1921," one of the better (and least relevant) criticisms of a work ever.

Don't Let Pigeon Stay Up Late! by Mo Willems

I didn't know I was going to be a children's librarian when I entered graduate school. I spent much of my time thinking about digital libraries, usability, and information architecture. I envisioned a career at a large software company or a world-class research library. Then, at a career fair, I was offered a children's librarian position, and it's been one of the best decisions I've made. I've discovered a whole world of amazing picture books, graphic novels, and board books.

On the third day at work, the other children's librarian at the branch gave me this book, along with three Elephant and Piggie books, and told me to read.

At first, I snickered. Then I giggled. Then, during my fourth reading of this book, I just couldn't stop guffawing. Pigeon thinks he knows best, and he does everything in his power to convince the reader that he REALLY needs to stay up late. "First of all, I'm not even tired!" "How about five more minutes?" "Studies show that pigeons hardly need any sleep at all." All of these excuses reminded me of my countless arguments with my parents over my "ridiculously early" bedtime during my childhood. "Okay, that was NOT a yawn" was a common sentence that came out of my mouth.

Kids still fight with their parents over bedtimes, as evidenced by the enthusiastic response to this book. Whenever I read this (or any Mo Willems book), the kids love to shout "Nooooo!" at all of the Pigeon's excuses. And sure enough, the last page finds Pigeon asleep with his bunny, dreaming of hot dog eating contests -- not even the kids are surprised by this outcome. Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! is a sure-fire hit at any story time, making it a god-send for parents and librarians alike. Thank you, Mo.

Barefoot Contessa Parties! Ideas and Recipes for Easy Parties That Are Really Fun by Ina Garten

Jennifer's preferences in cookbooks:
1. Beautiful pictures.
2. Interesting commentary.
3. Easy, elegant recipes.

This book meets all of my criteria in spades.

Ina Garten rubs many the wrong way. She has fabulous friends, a fabulous house in the Hamptons, a fabulous husband... but she also makes fabulous food. I can forgive pretentions if you can back it up with some delicious pot pie.

I've made the Chocolate Chunk Cookie recipe from this cookbook so many times that the cookbook automatically falls open to that page. Actually, I'm pretty sure I have friends who only love me for my baked goods. That's okay. These cookies are divine.

I've never made anything from Ina that came out less than stellar. All of her books include great food. But I've repeated the recipes in this book more than any of her other offerings. And I'd venture to say that it's the most frequently referenced book in my household.

Next in my pile...
The Shadow Catcher: A Novel by Marianne Wiggins

Marianne Wiggins is currently an English professor at the University of Southern California. Mymom, one of the more influential readers in my life, picked this novel up for a book club. She liked it enough to send it to me in a care package. (Yes, I'm in my mid-twenties, and my parents still send care packages.) She thought I'd get a kick out of the connections to my undergraduate education.

I've read the description, and I'm excited to begin reading. I have a bit of an affinity for the American West; nothing makes me happier than a Saturday spent at the Autry National Center in Griffith Park. Hopefully this book will draw upon that spirit of romantic independence that imbues most Western literature.

Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr.

In honor of Judith Krug, I've added a banned book to my pile to read. I don't know much about Last Exit to Brooklyn besides the fact that it was a) banned in Italy, b) made into a movie with Jennifer Jason Leigh, and c) insanely depressing. None of these things surprise me, especially since Hubert Selby Jr. was also responsible for Requiem for a Dream.

I've found there are a lot of gaps in my English education. I spent far too long on Victoriana in my college career, and far too little time on modern American literature. I'm slowly attempting to remedy this.

The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease, And Add Years to Your Life by Dawn Jackson Blatner

Every year, I make a Lenten resolution of some sort. This past year, I vowed to give up meat and fish, a tough move for an avowed meat eater like myself. Well, 40 days seemed to fly by... and I actually enjoyed eating more vegetables. I noticed that this book has been a popular title on the hold shelf, so I decided to give this whole "flexitarian" craze a read.

Continue reading...

What I dig

To give you an idea of the flavor of each contributor to STACKED, we thought we'd offer our introductory posts in the way of sharing our 3 of our favorite reads, as well as tell you a little about what we're reading right now. If you want to know us personally/professionally, you can read our longer bios.


My Favorites

Picking three books is quite painful since there are so many great ones I could rave about. I'm just going to offer three very different books that I liked to give a sense of my wide range of tastes. In no particular order, here they are!

The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett.
This is a story about love and family. After the untimely death of Parsifal the magician, wife Sabine is left to tie up the loose ends of his life. What unravels is a story of discovering that much of Parsifal's past has been hidden from her. As Sabine splits her time between her present in Los Angeles and Parsifal's past in Alliance, Nebraska, she discovers the importance of family, love, and magic.

While the story is captivating, it is the writing that dazzles in this story. Patchett is able to describe place and relationships with a sense of immediacy and beauty that I just have not found in many other books.

This book was so powerful for me that when my husband and I took a trip through Nebraska, we planned our overnight stay in Alliance. Although many of the places Patchett describes do not exist there -- or at least no longer did when we visited many years after this book's publishing -- it is overwhelming just how perfectly she was able to describe and embody the differences in people and in life between those in Alliance and those in Los Angeles.

The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender
This short story collection is one of the most bizarre I've ever read, and I say that with total affection. Bender's collection is certainly unlike any I've read before.

The book's stories do not have a central theme but instead each stand on their own. Bender's style can best be described as surreal, though I think the best manner in which to describe it is what one reviewer said on GoodReads: "if the Brothers Grimm had been a little more attuned to the pleasure principle, their fables might have boasted at least a family resemblance to Aimee Bender's."

What I loved most about this collection was that some of the stories are still with me more than 6 years after I initially read them. The imagery, particularly in the story entitled "The Ring," is just luscious. I've been disappointed in much of Bender's other publications, but that certainly hasn't stopped me from recommending and rereading this one again and again.

The End of Education by Neil Postman
What I love about this Postman book, as well as many of his others, is that they're very optimistic books -- while the central thesis revolves around why the current American educational system is not working, Postman offers very simple ideas of how we can get back on track and inspire students.

In this book, Postman discusses how education has lost a real purpose for students; rather, education focuses on an end product now, infusing kids with the idea that by getting educated, they'll be able to go on to college, get great jobs, and make bank. He argues this is a disservice, though, since it leaves many behind and is quite unsustainable. Instead, Postman offers a number of alternate narratives for education which will inspire students to learn for learning's sake. One which always sticks with me is the idea of the earthship narrative, where we teach students the purpose of education is so that they can become true citizens of the planet; this narrative teaches students to respect and honor one another, their planet, and their ability to be change agents.

I love a good piece of non-fiction, and all of the Postman I've read has been satisfying.

On My Bookshelf

I don't exaggerate when I say there are always at least 15 books in my crate from the library raring to be read. As of this moment, some of the ones I'm digging into include:

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

This books explores what makes people successful. I've liked Gladwell's books before, though I don't think they're necessarily ground breaking or well-sourced. I like them because they are very easy to digest and worth thinking about. I would definitely recommend his books for people interested in a good non-fiction read that will get their brains jogging and thinking about success (personal and professional).

by Ann Godbersen
This is a Gossip Girls-esque novel set at the turn of the 19th century. It's pure leisure reading. Rumors is the second book in Godberson's Luxe series, which begins with the book Luxe. The third book in the series, Envy, came out earlier this year and the final book will come out in late October of this year. The first book in this series was a very quick read, and I'm looking forward to Rumors and Envy following in the same style. Lies, deceit, and love all seem more classy when they're set in 1899.

The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman
Admittedly, I don't know much about this novel, but it sounds interesting -- the non-fiction story about a zoo destroyed during World War II and how the zookeepers used their facility to help shelter many of the Jews.

I decided to pick this book up because it is my undergrad's second choice for their "one book, one campus" program. Their first choice was Debra Marquart's The Horizontal World: Growing up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere, which was a memoir I really, really liked about growing up in North Dakota. I'm excited to read this one, but I'm a little unsure how much I'll enjoy it. The concept and story sound very interesting, but it's quite long so I'm hoping that the writing holds my attention enough. It has mixed ratings on GoodReads, which is something I actually really like seeing when I pick up a book, since it gives me an opportunity to neither be pleased nor disappointed.

Continue reading...

About Us

STACKED, on the surface, is interested in reviewing books for readers while simultaneously enticing non-readers to think about reading in fun and interesting ways. That means we're not just about reviewing books; we're interested in providing reader advisory, reading adventures, interviews with writers, publishers, and other bloggers, round robin reviews, and exploring more aesthetically-driven aspects of reading, including cover reviews, bookish websites, blog roundups, and interesting digital libraries. As librarians, we are aware that literacy comes in many formats, so we strive to include not just physical book reviews, but also reviews of audio books, digital books, videos, music, zines, graphic novels, and other materials easily found in the stacks.

STACKED welcomes your input and accepts material for review. Since the writers are spread throughout the country, we reserve the right to determine who is best suited to review your material or we may choose to each review it round robin style. We are honest in our reviews, but we are hyper aware of the five laws of Ranganathan. We believe that nearly all materials has an audience, and it is our goal to help identify that audience.

We love your feedback and comments, so feel free to get in touch either through commenting on the blog or by emailing us at stacked.books@gmail.com.

Continue reading...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Review policy

STACKED welcomes your input and accepts material for review. Since the writers are spread throughout the country, we reserve the right to determine who is best suited to review your material or we may choose to each review it round robin style. We are honest in our reviews, but we are hyper aware of the five laws of Ranganathan. We believe that nearly all materials have an audience, and it is our goal to help identify that audience.

We accept most genres, but we do not accept e-books or self-published titles at this time. Because all of us have such different preferences and an open and receptive attitude toward trying new things, we are eager to read most styles and genres, ranging from poetry and picture books. We're entirely receptive to not only printed books, but also audio books as well.

We strive to review books we receive in a timely manner, and we link our reviews not only to the blog, but also to our respective GoodReads accounts and other outlets as appropriate (including Twitter spotlights). We do not sell books we receive, but we reserve the right to use them as giveaway prizes through our blog.

Because our goal is to promote literacy and reading, we're eager to help out in blog tours, author interviews, and other similar opportunities.

In any event, please contact us collectively at stacked.books@gmail.com. We are happy to have you stop by!

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