Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

February 23

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WoW: The Bard, Bread, and Butterflies

by Ann-Katrina

That’s to Jill from Breaking the Spine who made this meme possible. In the past I’ve only featured a single book on Waiting on Wednesday, but today I’m upping the ante…

How Shakespeare Changed Everything cover How Shakespeare Changed Everything by Stephen Marche

When I saw it I immediately added this book to my list because I’m of the belief that one can never know too much about Shakespeare.

This book is scheduled for publication in May 2011 by Harper. The description was culled from Amazon’s website:

Shakespeare is all around us. From nightclubs to Broadway musicals, in voting booths in the American South and the trees of Central Park – William Shakespeare’s literary power is so intense and widespread that it intrudes into the material world. "Esquire" columnist Stephen Marche takes us on a delightful tour through the continuous stream of Shakespeare’s influence, summoning up the Bard in the most unexpected places: In 1890, as part of a plan to introduce every bird mentioned by Shakespeare to North America, Eugene Schieffelin imported and released a bunch of pesky Starlings into New York’s Central Park. The Nazi Party issued a pamphlet entitled Shakespeare – a Germanic Writer, and in 1936 there were more productions of Shakespeare in Germany than in the rest of the world combined. Shakespeare coined approximately 1,700 words, including lackluster, fashionable, auspicious, bandit, glow, hush, dawn, gnarled, hobnob, traditional, and the name Jessica. In 1930, Paul Robeson became the first black actor to play the part of "Othello" in England after being rejected for the role in the U.S. Robeson famously said of his performance, "Othello" has made me free. Packed with fun and fascinating tidbits, "How Shakespeare Changed Everything" offers a deep look at how the world as we know it could not exist without the great Bard.

Friendship Bread cover Friendship Bread by Darien Gee

When I was younger I had the strange idea of sending a “have a nice day” card to a random stranger and telling that stranger to send a card to ten more people. I thought it would make the world a better place. (Yes, I was one of those freak students who loved IALAC week when we got to make warm fuzzies, give two to ten random people and told each of them to give one away. Sadly, most people today probably don’t know what IALAC stands for…anyway, I digress.) So, when I saw the description for Friendship Bread, it spoke to that part of me, the part who wants to see the world become a better place. It also encouraged me to look up Amish friendship bread to see if it’s a real thing. It is. :)

This book is slated for publication in April 2011 by Ballantine Books. The description was culled from Amazon:

An anonymous gift sends a woman on a journey she never could have anticipated.

One afternoon, Julia Evarts and her five-year-old daughter, Gracie, arrive home to find an unexpected gift on the front porch: a homemade loaf of Amish Friendship Bread and a simple note: I hope you enjoy it. Also included are a bag of starter, instructions on how to make the bread herself, and a request to share it with others.

Still reeling from a personal tragedy that left her estranged from the sister who was once her best friend, Julia remains at a loss as to how to move on with her life. She’d just as soon toss the anonymous gift, but to make Gracie happy, she agrees to bake the bread. 

When Julia meets two newcomers to the small town of Avalon, Illinois, she sparks a connection by offering them her extra bread starter. Widow Madeline Davis is laboring to keep her tea salon afloat while Hannah Wang de Brisay, a famed concert cellist, is at a crossroads, her career and marriage having come to an abrupt end. In the warm kitchen of Madeline’s tea salon, the three women forge a friendship that will change their lives forever.

In no time, everyone in Avalon is baking Amish Friendship Bread. But even as the town unites for a benevolent cause and Julia becomes ever closer to her new friends, she realizes the profound necessity of confronting the painful past she shares with her sister.

About life and loss, friendship and community, food and family, Friendship Bread tells the uplifting story of what endures when even the unthinkable happens.

Winged Obsession cover Winged Obsession: The Pursuit of the World’s Most Notorious Butterfly Smuggler by Jessica Speart

This book had me at butterfly smuggling. Seriously. BUTTERFLY SMUGGLING. o_0

The book is scheduled for publication in April 2011 by William Marrow. This description was culled from the Amazon website:

One of the world’s most beautiful endangered species, butterflies are as lucrative as gorillas, pandas, and rhinos on the black market.

And in this cutthroat $200 million business, no one made more money than—or posed as great an ecological danger as—Yoshi Kojima, the kingpin of butterfly smugglers.

Determined to capture Kojima, rookie U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agent Ed Newcomer became close to the smuggler, posing as a young apprentice eager to learn the smuggling trade. But twice the agent’s inexperience allowed this criminal, with a nearly supernatural sense of survival and an overwhelming sense of paranoia, to get away.

Just when it seemed Kojima was out of reach, Newcomer was given one last chance to reel him in. Somewhere in the hunt, Kojima had become obsessed with the agent. This obsession, along with his continued mania for butterflies, could finally spell the downfall of the untouchable smuggler.

But the story doesn’t end there. Working under-cover to research this book, Jessica Speart befriended Kojima as well. Like Newcomer, she was going to betray Kojima. What she didn’t know was that this cagey smuggler was planning to turn the tables and use her as a patsy for continuing his illegal butterfly trade.

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February 2

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Waiting on Wednesday: Who Turned Out the Lights?

by Ann-Katrina

Thanks to Jill at Breaking the Spine, I present another edition of Waiting on Wednesday…

Morpheus Road: The Black cover After reading Morpheus Road: The Light by D. J. MacHale (links to my review) last year I’ve been impatiently waiting for the next book in the series. It looks like my wait is just about over because it’s scheduled for release April 2011 and it’s called Morpheus Road: The Black.

Cooper Foley always had a knack for finding trouble, but nothing he’s ever experienced could have prepared him for his latest adventure:  He has landed square in the middle of a border war between the worlds of the living and the dead.

At the end of The Light, Book One of the Morpheus Road trilogy, Marshall Seaver learned the truth about what happened to his missing best friend, Cooper.  Now, the mystery continues to unfold, only this time through Cooper’s eyes.

What did Marshall’s terrifying encounters with Gravedigger have to do with spirits from another existence?  Who is Damon, and what role did he play in Cooper’s dilemma?  Most importantly, what is the mysterious Morpheus Road?

I’ve already reserved my copy at Amazon, but I don’t know if I can stand to wait three more months. I still can’t get over that one sentence in The Light that made me nearly swallow my tongue. I simply must find out what became of Marshall.

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April 14

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Waiting on Wednesday: There Are Voices in My Head and They’re Talking About the Zombie/Unicorn Apocalypse

by Ann-Katrina

Thanks to Jill at Breaking the Spine, I present another edition of Waiting on Wednesday…

Since the first WoW selection is coming out later this month, I’ve decided to include a second WoW selection that’s coming out a bit later.

Whisper Whisper by Phoebe Kitanidis is scheduled for publication April 27, 2010 and can be pre-ordered from Amazon.

I’d love a cup of coffee. . . . I wish she didn’t hide how pretty she is. . . . I hope she didn’t find out what Ben said about her. . . . I wish I knew how many calories were in a bite of muffin. . . .

Joy is used to Hearing Whispers. She’s used to walking down the street and instantly knowing people’s deepest, darkest desires. She uses this talent for good—to make people happy and give them what they want. But for her older sister, Jessica, the family gift is a curse, and she uses it to make people’s lives—especially Joy’s—miserable. Still, when Joy Hears Jessica Whisper I want to kill my Hearing dead, and kill me too if that’s what it takes, she knows she has to save her sister, even if it means deserting her friends, stealing a car, and running away with a boy she barely knows—a boy who may have a dark secret of his own.

Zombies v. Unicorns Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier is scheduled for publication September 21, 2010 and can be pre-ordered from Amazon.

It’s a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (unicorn and zombie, respectively), strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths–for good and evil–of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan. This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

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April 7

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Waiting on Wednesday: Men Are Obsolete. Utopia or…?

by Ann-Katrina

Thanks to Jill at Breaking the Spine, I present another edition of Waiting on Wednesday…

Nomansland Nomansland by Lesley Hauge is scheduled for publication June 22, 2010 and can be pre-ordered from Amazon.

Sometime in the future, after devastating wars and fires, a lonely, windswept island in the north is populated solely by women. Among these women is a group of teenaged Trackers—expert equestrians and archers—whose job is to protect their shores from the enemy. The enemy, they’ve been told, is men.

When these girls come upon a partially buried home from the distant past, they are fascinated by the strange objects—high-heeled shoes, teen magazines, make-up—found there.  What are they to make of these mysterious things, which introduce a world they have never known? And what does it mean for their strict society where friendship is forbidden and rules must be obeyed—at all costs?

This description reads like something I could see as an episode of the Outer Limits (a show which I love and mourn the loss of as I watch old re-runs). Come to think of it, I believe I have seen an episode similar to this, but with grown people. Something tells me, if all is done well, I’m going to enjoy this book when it comes out. :D

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March 31

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Waiting on Wednesday: If It Has “Pandemonium” In the Title, It Must Be Good

by Ann-Katrina

Thanks to Jill at Breaking the Spine, I present another edition of Waiting on Wednesday…

Can I be honest and just say that I love the cover? It’s the first thing I noticed and it alone has me 98% sold on this book. (But since I have never purchased a book solely on the cover, I’ll add that the remaining 2% was covered by the book’s description.)

The Clockwork Angel The Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, Book 1) by Cassandra Clare is scheduled for publication on August 31, 2010 and can be pre-ordered from Amazon.

Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm’s length . . . everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world. . . . and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

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