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House Read: The Devil’s Only Friend

February 9, 2016

devilWhat I’m Reading: The Devil’s Only Friend by Dan Wells
Published: Tor Books, 2015
Read This: when you’re somewhere safe and sunny.

John Wayne Cleaver is back after a two year publishing hiatus! When Dan finished I Don’t Want to Kill You we all thought that was probably the last we’d see of our favorite teenage sociopath. But, we got lucky, although, no one in the story world did…
John has teamed up with an FBI taskforce to hunt the demons he’s been battling through the first three books.
But the demons are fighting back. The Withered know that John is out there and that he’s killed three of them already. And now, they’re starting to work together to find him.
Brooke, the former girl of John’s dreams, is still in the picture as well. She has physically recovered from being possessed by the demon known as Nobody, but the experience has left her with all of the demon’s memories. No teenage girl is designed to deal with the sudden influx of tens of thousands of years of memories. Brooke is sometimes herself, sometimes Nobody, and sometimes one of the thousands of girls Nobody possessed and killed throughout the millennia. It’s terrible, but it also means that for the first time John and the FBI have someone on the inside.
Brooke can tell them who they are facing and what that demon’s powers are. But she has no answers when a demon who calles himself the Hunter starts to leave John letters on the bodies of his latest victims.

The Devil’s Only Friend is the first book in a new John Wayne Cleaver trilogy. Book two, Over Your Dead Body, comes out in May. The story moves very quickly and you don’t have much time to catch your breath. But then, neither does John. While this isn’t my favorite book in the series, I do think it’s a great start to a new series of stories. And it’s perfect timing as the film of I Am Not a Serial Killer is slated to be shown at South by Southwest this year!

John has lost basically everyone in his life except for Brooke. That puts him in a very interesting position, emotionally speaking. He is a diagnosed sociopath, so he doesn’t usually form emotional attachments to people, but nevertheless, he has lost people he cares about and is abruptly shoved into close and long term contact with an entire team. He is answerable to people for the first time in his demon hunting and that adds another level of tension to the story. As always, John is fighting himself and his own instincts as much as he is the demons that are hunting him.




February 7, 2016

I’ve been trying to work on my goals for the year. One of them was to get rid of something every day. And another one was to have all the books on shelves by August. In pursuit of both of those goals I have been trying to organize my bookshelves and that means critically reviewing what is already on those shelves.
It turns out, I have an impressive number of books on my shelves that I don’t really need to have. These fall into a few categories:

  1. downloadARCs of books that I’m probably never going to read, but they were free and I might want to read them someday. Right?
  2. Reference books from school. I haven’t been in school in a very, very long time. Now, some of those books are just cool and others are handy to have for reference for writing. But, do I really need that Norton Anthology of English Literature from a class I didn’t even take? Especially when I’ve got Project Gutenberg, the bookstore I work at, the library, and all the other books on the shelves?
  3. Books I feel like I should read. They’re either classics, or IMPORTANT, or they’re on topics that I’m casually interested in and should therefore read a 350 page treatise on, or they were wildly popular and I feel like as a bookseller and generally opinionated person I should have an informed opinion.
  4. Then there is the set of books that I don’t have any idea how or why they ended up on my shelves.

IMG_9952What to do with the unwanted books?
I’m using a multi-prong approach to this problem. I’ve listed some on Amazon or Paperback Swap, just depending on what they are. I’ve got a stack to go to our Little Free Library, some stacks for friends, and then some for giveaways here on the blog.

What do you do with your unwanted books?

Speaking of giveaways, there is still plenty of time to enter my giveaway for a copy of Prudence by Gail Carriger!


Skullgarden Coloring Book

February 6, 2016

coloring book.jpgAdult coloring books are a huge thing right now. We couldn’t keep The Secret Garden or the colored pencil packs in stock at the bookstore over Christmas.  I have several, one of which I bought on the strength of a single peacock illustration.  And now, my friend Andy, the artistic genius behind Skullgarden, is Kickstarting a coloring book full of skulls and flowers and awesomeness.
The Kickstarter is fully funded, but there is still plenty of time to get in on the coloring book. $15 will get you the book, but there are great rewards at pretty much every level. There are 22 days left in the campaign, so there’s plenty of time to figure out exactly how much you’d like to chip in.

The Wayback Machine

February 5, 2016

There was a very interesting discussion at work about changing tastes. I don’t think of myself as someone who reads much pure sci-fi; I read fantasy. That is what I read. But, that’s not exactly true anymore. That was true a long time ago, but I actually quite like sci-fi and I read it in a pretty regular mix with my other genres.
So, my coworker and I were discussing this and that led us to wondering if the us of ten or twenty years ago would actually like the books that were important to us now. I decided to look at the books I have on the Staff Picks and think about how the me from high school would have felt about them.

The Nick Harkaway Trifecta
gone away world
I probably would have bounced off of Gone Away World at sixteen. The post-apocalyptic part would have worked, but I think I probably would have gotten thrown by the long flashback. Although, back then, before grad school had its way with me, I thought it was my divine calling to finish every (non-school) book that I started, so I most likely would have pressed on, but been whiny about it.

is important enough to me now that I got a giant tattoo based on it. I’m pretty sure that all the things I love about it now; the steampunk elements, the octogenarian super spy, the 1950’s doomsday devices, would all have appealed to me back then too. (Interesting fact, back in high school, I was positive that I would never get a tattoo. So, things change.)

I would have LOVED Tigerman. I was super into comics in high school, so a book that has this much to do with a boy’s love for comic books, combined with the general Nick Harkaway awesomeness would have worked really well for me. Although, I’m not sure I would have picked it up with the cover that it has. I probably would have by college, though.

Daniel Polansky’s Low Town is something of a puzzler. I read tons of mysteries in high school, but most of them were Agatha Christie novels or cozy mysteries like the Lillian Jackson Braun Cat Who mysteries. I didn’t really get into the noir novels until later. Although, I did always like the fashion, not that that would apply to a secondary world fantasy.

Shades of Milk and Honey
is one of the only books on the list I can unequivaclly say I would absolutely have loved in high school. I read Jane Austen over and over again then. I didn’t know that you could combine Jane Austen and magic, but I would have knocked over my own mother to get to a book that did it.

good omens
Good Omens
is the other book I can say with no hesitation that I would have loved. I can say this because I did love it back then. And, In fact, I had already loved Good Omens for years by the time I turned sixteen. I still have my original hardcover that my mom got me. So I should probably feel bad about the knocking her over thing from the previous blurb.
serial killerJohn Wayne Cleaver might have been too much for teenage me. I’m not really sure. On the one hand, I was a little gothlette and so a boy with all the psychological indications of being a sociopath might have seemed like a great sort of person to spend some quality time with. On the page! Even as a high school student, I wasn’t into dangerous boys in real life. I usually went for the Latin nerds and the D&D gamers over the guys who got in trouble.

delia's shadow
Ghosts. Turn of the century San Francisco. A serial killer. I’m sure there were things I would have liked better… David Bowie in Labyrinth. Um… anything else?  Oh! The Princess Bride. Cary Elwys in The Princess Bride. Howl’s Moving Castle. Not much else though. So, Delia’s Shadow would have make the cut too.

Overall, I think that my tastes haven’t changed that much although my perception of my tastes may have changed. I would have told you back then that I liked mysteries and fantasy novels and that was about it. Oh, and comic books. And yeah, fine, historical novels. And classics. But not anything else. Except some sci-fi, but not very much.
I think there are more things that I loved then that I probably wouldn’t like now more than there are things I like now and would have turned my nose up at then.
What about you? Are there books you love now that you don’t think you would have appreciated ten or twenty years ago?

Hugo Nominations are Open

February 4, 2016

worldconThe 2016 Hugo nominations are now open. I am a nominating member of this year’s WorldCon, so I now have to come up with my favorite things from 2015 and figure out which category they fall into. (Seriously, who knows how many words their favorite shorter works are?)
There are some awesome resources for people trying to remember all the works that are eligible. (In order to be eligible a work must have come out in 2015. This includes works that were completed or collected in 2015, so trade bind-ups of comics, television seasons, podcast seasons all count.)

retro hugo

Retro Hugo for 1946

Many creators publish blog posts with their eligible works from the previous year. There are also great sites like the SFWA Nebula Suggested Reading List or the crowdsourced Hugo Nomination Wiki and GoogleDoc. It takes a little leg work if you haven’t been keeping up with the media you’ve consumed (which I haven’t because I’m terrible,) but it’s not too difficult to do your due diligence before nominating.
And remember, the nominations are supposed to be personal. These are the things you think are the best from 2015. If you think a post you saw on Tumblr was the best related work (or a series of posts on Twitter about Star Wars) then nominate that post. It doesn’t matter at this point what anyone else says about the things you like. These are your nominations.
uprootedThe nomination period is open until March 31, so there’s no need to panic. There is still plenty of time to read works you missed.
I’ll post later with my nominations. I’m still undecided about many things (isn’t it nice you can edit your ballot until the last second?) The only work I am positive about nominating is Uprooted by Naomi Novik for Best Novel. I loved that book more than I ever would have guessed.

Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem 

February 2, 2016

We’ve got a quick 6-second book review.  

February Giveaway – Prudence by Gail Carriger

February 1, 2016


It is February, the month that contains my least favorite holiday, Valentine’s Day. So, since I’m going to be grumpy, I thought I’d give away a book that made me happy. This month, I’m sharing a hardcover copy of Prudence: The Custard Protocol: Book 1 by the delightful Gail Carriger.
Comment below and tell me where you would sail your dirigible if you were so fortunate as to have one. Then click on THIS LINK
to go to Rafflecopter and enter the giveaway. The contest will run until midnight on the 28th! Good luck!

Prudence; daughter of Lord Maccon, werewolf; Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, adopted daughter of Lord Akeldama, vampire, is now in command of a dirigible, a crew, and a mandate to go to India and look into a trifling matter for Lord Akeldama.  But nothing is ever simple when her family is involved and so Rue (as she is known to her friends) finds herself neck deep in conspiracies, schemes, plots, and a pack of very familiar looking werewolves.


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