Bookseller at Ravenna
Halley reads just about everything, but is particularly enthusiastic about authors such as Lemony Snicket, Edgar Allan Poe, and Shirley Jackson. As a result, Halley feels drawn to cemeteries, haunted houses, and has read more than her fair share about the Loch Ness Monster. When not reading, she enjoys drinking coffee and watching reruns of Twin Peaks.
Matt De La Pena is a gem. His previous Last Stop on Market Street remains a much beloved book in my heart, but I think in some ways Love has surpassed it. This is one of those books that was meant for all ages. And in these trying times, it's important to remember what connects us.
Buckle up my dudes because The Cruel Prince is a wild (and fun) ride. Jude and her sister Taryn have a normal life until they're swept into a Jim Henson-like fairy world to live in court. As the only two humans raised in a powerful magical world, they must navigate the complicated and magical social sphere while avoiding the malevolent young prince Cardan. But as the fairy king prepares to step down and name one of his children as successor, Jude is caught up in a world of revenge and secrets that could give her the power she has always craved. This isn't a light fluffy read. Jude as a main character is complicated, dark, and wholly compelling. Brutal revenge, secrets, and some serious family drama carried me through Black's vivid world. My only regret is how long I'll have to wait for the sequel..
A mouse thinks its the end when he's swallowed whole by a lone wolf. But much to his surprise, a duck has set up shop and is living quite comfortably in the wolf's stomach. Jon Klassen's beautiful illustrations collide with Mac Barnett's unique mind to create one of my favorite childrens illustrated books of this year. Parents and kids will both find something to laugh at in this charming fable with a macabre twist.
I have two chaotic nephews who love to read (ages 1 and 3 respectively). I'm regularly hunting down books that cater to whatever they're obsessed with at the time and let me tell you, they can be tough little guys to please. But something they both love? Animals. And pulling my hair. But especially animals. This book is the whole package! Beautiful illustrations paired with lyrical prose, its perfect for little ones learning the alphabet. I myself wish I could buy some of these pictures as prints, but in the meantime I will happily settle for story time with my two favorite buds.
I'm a nostalgic fool for the Archie universe and everyone knows the best character in Riverdale is the hamburger-loving Jughead Jones. While Archie is off bemoaning his feelings for Betty and Veronica, Jughead is taking care of the real problems facing Riverdale such as an evil principal brainwashing students and the unfair closure of the beloved Pops All-Nite Diner. Erica Henderson and Chip Zdarsky bring a fresh take to a beloved series while still remaining faithful to the original. As a massive Jughead fan, I had a really fun time with this one. And if you want more, volume 2 is out and SPOILER ALERT Sabrina the Teenage Witch makes an appearance. What a time to be alive!
This series is a wild ride from start to finish. Blue, daughter of a clairvoyant, is not your typical heroine tasked with saving the world while batting away unnecessary romantic subplots. As the only non-psychic in a house full of mysticism, Blue is just trying navigate an already complicated life. But try as she might, she's still sucked into the world of prophecies and ancient kings thanks to a group of renegade boys from the local prep school. This book had so many twists that I never saw coming! I could barely wait to pick up the rest of the series. Plus, it's the perfect back to school read.
Do you love magic? Do you wistfully wish for something that compares to Harry Potter? Have you ever tried Diana Wynne Jones? Jones was a huge inspiration to J.K. Rowling but even if you aren't a Harry Potter fan, Jones' books will sweep you off your feet. In The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Cat and his sister Gwendolyn could not be more different. Gwendolyn excels at magic but Cat has no gifting to speak of and prefers a quieter life. So it's a surprise to both of them when they are each invited to live in the Chrestomanci castle to apprentice under the great magician himself. Prepare to be swept away by Jones' style of magic and her wonderful characters.
This is such a great book. Jabari is afraid to jump off the diving board, but he knows that it's okay to be scared. He also knows his dad will be right there watching him. I love the message that it's okay to be nervous and take your time while also finding the courage to conquer your fears. A very positive and universal theme for a children's book!
Peculiar Aunt Fanny goes out to the garden after a funeral. When she returns, she claims to the rest of the family that she saw the ghost of her father and he has a warning: the end of the world is coming and only those who stay in the Halloran House will survive.
Ghosts. A creepy mansion. Family drama. End of the world. Complex and devious characters. This book has all the things I like. Shirley Jackson is an absolute master at the details and her characters are always interesting (to say the least). This lesser known novel is quintessential Jackson and not to be missed!
Do you like fairytales? Do you like retellings? Do you like those things combined with a healthy dose of feminist and Gothic undertones? News flash: this might be the collection for you. I especially enjoyed the title story, but every story had a refreshing take on the classics we love. Angela Carter's descriptions were lush and read like poetry. Although it's a small volume, I spent over a month reading it story-by-story just because every retelling was strongly written and offered a unique perspective to the stories I thought I knew.
"There are all kinds of truth ... but behind all of them there is only one truth and that is that there's no truth.”
I do not recommend "Wise Blood" lightly. It's dark and twisted. It's both deeply religious and scathingly blasphemous. When I finished reading, I was in a bonafide book drought. Nothing satisfied me; it was that affecting. At its core, "Wise Blood" is the story of Hazel Motes, the son of a preacher who decides to start his own "Church Without Christ". In the classic Southern Gothic style, Flannery O'Connor weaves a tale of redemption amidst a backdrop of extreme (and often grotesque) characters.
Set in an otherworld England, society is split between those with magical "skills" and those without. Skilless citizens are legally required to serve 10 years as slaves to the wealthy Equals. While the rest of his family is sent to work for one of the most powerful families in England, Luke Hadley is shipped off to work in a warehouse district alone where witnesses the beginnings of a political uprising. Meanwhile at the house, Luke's sister Abi gets tangled up in the dangerous personal lives of the Elites. Full disclosure: this is a multiple POV story which usually means I only care for certain characters. But every character was unique and compelling. From the rich elite sons of the big house to the anarchists igniting a slave revolt to the family of Abi and Luke just trying to survive, I was completely invested in every aspect of this story.
Natasha's family immigrated to New York illegall from Jamaica. Daniel's family immigrated legally from South Korea. Natasha likes science, Daniel likes poetry. Natasha doesn't believe in love, but Daniel believes in it more than anything. They meet by chance on the most important day of Natasha's life: she's about to be deported. Nominated for the National Book Award in 2016, this topical book packs a punch. Natasha's plight is a reality people face every day. I was also completely swept into her relationship with Daniel. If you're looking for quality contemporary YA, you won't be disappointed.
Sefia lives on the run with her Aunt Nin. But when her aunt is kidnapped, Sefia's quest to rescue her takes her deep into a world full of mysteries. Young boys are being kidnapped and branded, pirates are sailing west for treasure, and an assassin is stalking Sefia through the woods. Sefia is also protecting something even Aunt Nin didn't know about: a book. In a world without readers, Sefia teaches herself to read, leading her to uncover a great secret. This book was such a surprise! With its complex world building and interesting characters, I was engrossed from start to finish.
Twin Peaks is back in 2017! Are you excited?! Because I'm excited. Written in preparation for the new series by Twin Peaks co-creator/writer Mark Frost, The Secret History of Twin Peaks is a compilation of notes, photos, and other paraphernalia related to the death of Laura Palmer. This book balances what we know from the original series with new information intended for the upcoming release. The Secret History of Twin Peaks is the perfect reintroduction to a cult classic. The ideal holiday pick for a Twin Peaks/David Lynch fan not so patiently awaiting the release of the show. And if you haven't watched Twin Peaks yet...it's time.
I picked this book up because the cat's face made me laugh. I flipped through the pages, chuckling as Archie Snufflekins Olive Valentine Cupcake Tiberius (different names from different neighbors) visited everyone in the neighborhood with his trademark stoicism and charm. But one day, he's gone and the neighborhood sets out to find their cat. This is a tender story about community and noticing the people around you.
"Giant Days" is a slice of life comic about three girls in their first year of university. After three weeks as roommates, Daisy, Susan, and Esther become fast friends despite their differing personalities. Together they deal with such troubling woes as cyber creeps, unexpected visits from grandma, and a particularly bad case of the flu. Funny, honest, and at times a bit manic, I was completely caught up in the character's lives and their evolving friendship. I found myself relating to a lot of the challenges they faced. I also laughed loud enough to be heard through a wall, so I'd say this book has something for everyone.
I picked up Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi for a very superficial reason: I liked the cover. I didn't know what it was about, but when I started reading I knew I was in for something different. Set in the 50s, the story mainly follows Boy Novak, who moves away from the city to escape her evil father. She meets and marries a widower, adopting the role of stepmother to his young daughter. But while Boy, Snow, Bird may feel like a fairytale, don't expect this to be a run-of-the-mill retelling. This is a complex novel with powerful commentary about race, identity, and our perception of beauty. As soon as I finished this book, I was ready to start it over again. I'm not exaggerating
Every summer, I tackle a classic that's been on my shelf for too long. This year, it was Villette by Charlotte Bronte. Similar to Jane Eyre, the protagonist Lucy Snowe has no fortune. But rather than become a governess, Lucy travels to the fictional town of Villette to take up a post as an English teacher. Charlotte Bronte taught English abroad and Villette is widely considered her most autobiographical work. While slow to start, this book left me wanting more. Bronte writes about a complex woman trying to navigate depression and loneliness in an oppressive social framework. By the end, I felt like I knew Lucy and it was hard to pull myself out of her world.
On the eve of a wife/mother's death, a grieving father and his two sons are visited by an enormous crow that refuses to leave until they've come to terms with their grief. Poetry and novella in one, this beautiful book is told from three perspectives: the father, the boys, and the crow himself. It's a story about loss, healing, and what grief can do when we accept it into our lives.
Paul Gallico's "The Abandoned" is a children's classic from the 1950s, but this book isn't just for kids. Truthfully, I want to gently place it into the hands of every single person I meet. It's the story of Peter, a boy who is struck unconscious after rescuing a cat from oncoming traffic. When he wakes up, he has turned into a cat. Trying to survive on his own in London, Peter meets Jennie, a stray who takes him under her paw to teach him how to be a cat. Gallico's attention to detail is unparalleled. His descriptions of life as a cat felt real, making this story both enchanting and heartbreaking. Read it to your kids, read it yourself, or gift it to anyone who has ever loved a cat. And as an added suggestion, make sure you have some tissues on hand. You won't regret it.
As a fan of fairy tales, this YA novel had everything I could have wanted. A strong heroine, a vivid world, and a plot that kept me reading way past my bedtime. Our heroine Maya, after being habitually mistreated by her father's court, agrees to marry a stranger from an unknown kingdom. As the new queen of Akaran, Maya comes into her own and discovers her own power and inner strength. I truly felt like I was immersed in another world and I was particularly invested in the second half of the novel (no spoilers, but there's a demon horse that's freaky cool). For fans of Beauty and the Beast or the myth of Hades and Persephone.
A collection of short stories that combine into a single narrative, Lovecraft Country balances the imagination of H.P. Lovecraft with the real horrors of life in Jim Crow America. Set in 1954 Chicago, each story centers around Atticus Turner and his family as they navigate horrors both supernatural and otherwise. While every story is unique, my personal favorite follows a black woman who insists on buying a property in all white neighborhood. Unfortunately, the only property available is haunted by its racist previous tenant. There isn't a weak story in the bunch. Lovecraft Country manages to balance imagination with a powerful social conscience.
Octopuppy is about a boy who wishes for a puppy but instead he gets an octopus named Jarvis. Can he turn this octopus into the puppy of his dreams? Or can he learn to accept Jarvis as the wonderful individual animal he is?
This book is just plain cute. Beautiful illustrations combine with a powerful message about friendship and acceptance. Octopuppy has something for everyone!
The Thief of Always is the chilling tale of Harvey Swick, a young boy who is so bored with his life that he wishes himself away to Mr. Hood's Holiday House, where the food is always good and Christmas comes every night. Just don't go to the lake or ask any questions about the enigmatic Mr. Hood. Part fairy tale, part nightmare, this an all-ages book for anyone who enjoys a fun and chilling read.
Charles Beaumont was the mind behind a number of popular Twilight Zone episodes. He died young, but he left behind a collection of short stories that have been faithfully reproduced by Penguin with a forward by Ray Bradbury. If you're a fan of The Twilight Zone or just enjoy strange ideas, this is the collection to pick up.
I received this book as a holiday gift years ago. While not necessarily festive, it's the perfect size and story for those cold nights. Good for all ages, this book is full of imagination and character. And for those of you who may remember the classic 1984 film of the same name...trust me, there's more to the story (as the title would suggest).
"The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien" is a fascinating read for anyone familiar with Tolkien's works. Lovingly compiled by friends and fans alike, these letters highlight Tolkien's thoughts on family, faith, work, and life as well as his passion for the world he created through his books. If you're in any way a Tolkien fan, then this is a must-have for your library.
"It all really began...on the day my Aunt Rosamund's door handle went missing."
And so begins the narrative of Clod Iremonger. This book has such strange things as birth objects, rogue seagulls, an ostrich that may or may not be living in the house, dark secrets, a forest of chimneys, and myriad of strange cousins. It's dark, funny, and highly imaginative. It's also quite creepy and perfect for this Halloween season.
Guys. Twin Peaks is coming back.
Unfortunately, it looks like we may have to wait a while. So why not revisit why you fell in love with Lynch's cult classic in the first place? Andy Burns reviews the lasting legacy of Twin Peaks through essays and interviews with the cast. Basically, "Wrapped in Plastic" was written for every person who calls themselves a fan of Twin Peaks . Read it, and let it fill the hole in your heart that the Season 2 finale left behind.
Merricat lives with her older sister and uncle after her family is killed due to the mysterious appearance of arsenic in the sugar bowl. After her sister is acquited of the murder, she and Merricat are ostracized by the village. For a time, they are content in their isolation...until a visitor comes to stay. Strange and haunting, this novel stayed with me long after I finished it. Shirley Jackson managed to tell a story without violence, gore, or horror and yet by the end you're left chilled to the bone.