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Holiday Romance Recommendations from Jennifer Ryan

Something Old

If you believe in fate and soulmates, you’ll love Cathy Maxwell’s A SEDUCTION AT CHRISTMAS. They locked eyes across a ballroom once, but when Fiona Lachlan meets the Duke of Holburn she has next to nothing in this world except her beloved hound Tad – and someone is trying to kill him. If he doesn’t find out who and stop them, he’ll miss his Christmas wedding and a life with the only woman he ever loved.  

Something New

I love discovering a new author. And this debut hooked me.

Carly Bloom’s BIG BAD COWBOY is sweet and naughty, sexy and heartwarming, a thoroughly enjoyable – and a little bit wicked – read.

Something Borrowed

My very good friend and fellow Avon author Lori Wilde writes a Christmas book every year for her fans. This year is no exception - THE CHRISTMAS KEY received a starred review from Publishers Weekly! “The magnetism between Naomi and Mark is breathtaking and real, the magic of Christmas enhances their romance. Readers will cheer for the wounded warrior who may have found a place to call home.”  

So it’s no wonder I asked Lori for her favorite Christmas read…

“I recommend Annie Rain's CHRISTMAS ON MISTLETOE LANE. I love her writing and the book just gives you all the feel-good tingles of the holiday season. It's heartwarming, emotional and sweetly captures the spirit of Christmas.” Lori Wilde

Something Blue

If you want to laugh and have your heart melt, I highly recommend you read a Jill Shalvis book. Once I start reading, I can’t put them down. SWEET LITTLE LIES starts off her Heartbreaker Bay series. San Francisco is the perfect romantic backdrop to this heartwarming friends-to-lovers story. Sometimes your heart’s desire is only a wish away.

Look for my upcoming release DIRTY LITTLE SECRET – book 1 of my brand new Wild Rose Ranch series that’s all about romance and scandal for the women who grew up at the notorious Nevada brothel as they try to make a life outside their mothers’ world.

I hope you enjoy all of these recommendations.

Happy reading!
-Jennifer Ryan
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Fall Reading Guide

Leaves are falling, temperatures are dropping, and curling up with a good book is sounding more and more appealing. We've compiled a list of our favorite autumnal reads to get you in the mood for all things spooky, dark, and magical.

 


Harry
The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures by Aaron Mahnke 

I grew up as a kid who could not handle horror movies and was terrified of ghost stories. And yet I was fascinated with the world of the paranormal. I studied werewolves and witches and looked up the true history behind them and went ghost hunting and I thought I had learned everything there was to know about monsters and spirits. 

How delightful to be wrong. This book is full of historical accounts and eye-witness accounts of people's brush with the world beyond the veil. Fan of the podcast or no, you will be fascinated with the folklore of fear from around the world and it's ripples on history. And just in time for Samhain! 


Jamie
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

“The circus arrives without warning.”

Gates opening as night falls, Le Cirque des Rêves is home to attractions of great mystery and allure. Acts so fantastical that it is difficult to believe they are rooted in reality. Some are not. Two rival magicians use the circus to house an ongoing competition between their students to showcase incredible feats of magic. Erin Morgenstern crafts a setting of immense beauty and lyricism that is perfect year round, but is the quintessential autumn novel.

Serving suggestions: apple cider and popcorn.


Jess
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

“It begins with absence and desire.
It begins with blood and fear.
It begins with a discovery of witches.”

Avoiding the harvest festival of Mabon in Oxfords Bodleian Library, closeted Witch and Science Historian Dr. Diana Bishop calls up an ancient alchemical manuscript that shakes eldritch creature community. As the mercurial Daemons begin to follow her with unwanted prophecy Diana finds she must accept the protection, and ultimately an All Souls date with a brilliant Scientist Vampire. With action, history, magic and romance this trilogy FEELS like an Edinburgh autumn, full of witches and vampires and engaging history this is perfect for cozy sweaters, tea, and blustery nights.

#AllSoulsRead twitter read-a-long for month of Oct culminating in a fandom Con.


Caitlin
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Three sisters must fight to the death to claim the crown. Separated as children they are raised to understand their own special abilities; poisoner, elementalist, and naturalist.  The story is told through multiple perspectives with each character having defined voice. This book is dark and brooding with great character development throughout the novel. While not set during autumn, it definitely has gloomy vibes that I always crave this time of year.


Wendy
The Names of the Stars by Pete Fromm

25 years after babysitting fish in the River of No Return Wilderness (Indian Creek Chronicles) Pete Fromm is hired by Montana FWP to babysit fish over the winter in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Trekking into the wilderness in the autumn, he encounters deer, elk, and bears. Now the father of two boys, he reflects on fatherhood and his journey from Indian Creek to the Bob.


Matt
Tales of Horror by H.P. Lovecraft

A collection of Lovecraft’s greatest works which is perfect for all your Halloween horror needs. With his most iconic stories like Call of Cthulhu and The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, delve into the unknown and discover the chaos and insanity that comes when secrets which are better left unknown unearth. “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”.


Katie
The Cove by Ron Rash

Not your typical spooky fall read, but a dark tale nonetheless, The Cove crosses off some of the necessary bullet points for autumnal literary consumption: a dark and forbidding setting, a possible witch, and a stranger appearing out of the forest bearing secrets. But it also delivers more than that, with a striking love story and probing moral questions wound into the fabric of the novel. This is a great read with characters, a setting, and an ending that will stay with you…or, you might say, haunt you!

 

 

 

Books: 
The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781524797966
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Del Rey - October 10th, 2017

The Night Circus Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780307744432
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Anchor - July 3rd, 2012

A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (All Souls Series #1) Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780143119685
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Penguin Books - December 27th, 2011

Three Dark Crowns Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062385437
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Quill Tree Books - September 20th, 2016

The Names of the Stars: A Life in the Wilds Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781250139191
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Picador - October 3rd, 2017

H. P. Lovecraft Tales of Horror (Leather-bound Classics) Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9781607109327
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Canterbury Classics - October 1st, 2017

The Cove: A Novel Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780061804205
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ecco - November 6th, 2012

Wendy's Not-to-be-Missed Mysteries

If you’ve perused our mystery section you’ve undoubtedly seen staff picks from our mystery expert, Wendy. She’s a lover of mystery novels, reads more than the rest of the staff combined, and will also be leading the Wonderlust Mystery Book Discussion through MSU Extended University. We asked her for ten not-to-be-missed mystery reads that will be perfect for your autumn reading.

 

The Child by Fiona Barton

The stories of a baby skeleton found in a building site and a child stolen years ago intertwine. Kate Waters makes a great protagonist and the ending is one you won’t see coming.
 

Gone by Mo Hayder

Officer Jack Caffery and police diver Flea Marley try to locate an 11 year old girl, stolen during a carjacking. The diving aspect really sets this series apart. It’s dark, but so good.
 

Out of Bounds by Val McDermid

This new series by longtime journalist and mystery writer McDermid follows cold case detective Karen Pirie. The DNA of a teenager put into a coma after a joyriding car crash is suddenly linked to a 22-year-old unsolved murder and Pirie is called in to solve it.
 

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane

An agoraphobic woman finally ventures outside her home only to find her husband, who is supposed to be out of town. She must continue facing her fear to figure out what is happening in this story by the ultimate thriller writer.
 

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

A mystery within a mystery. While the reader is reading the mystery novel the author is murdered. His editor vows to solve his murder in this fun homage to Agatha Christie.
 

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

Devon Knox is a high school student and Olympic gymnastics hopeful. When one of the coaches at the gym is killed in a hit and run, the jealousies and rivalries ramp up. The Olympic hopeful storyline is realistic and the ending is twisty and SHOCKING.
 

A Song of Shadows by John Connolly

PI Charlie Parker is recovering in Maine, living next door to a young girl and her mother. Darkness follows Charlie, but so does his helpful, dead daughter. Supernatural and scary!
 

King Maybe by Timothy Hallinan

LA Burglar Junior Bender finds himself in trouble when he is hired to burgle a ruthless studio mogul. This series is both dark and funny.
 

Stealing People by Robert Wilson

Six children of wealthy international families are kidnapped in London. Kidnap consultant Charlie Boxer finds that case intersecting with his own. Robert Wilson’s thrillers always deliver and keep you guessing all the way through.
 

The Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill

Dr. Siri Paiboun is the elderly national coroner in 1978 Laos. He is underfunded, understaffed, and possessed by the soul of a Hmong shaman. Wickedly funny, this series has a loveable cast of characters making do (and sometimes making mayhem!).


Books: 
The Child Cover Image
Email or call for price & availability
ISBN: 9781101990483
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Berkley - June 27th, 2017

Gone Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780802145703
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grove Press - February 14th, 2012

Out of Bounds: A Karen Pirie Novel Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9780802125743
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atlantic Monthly Press - December 6th, 2016

Since We Fell: A Novel Cover Image
Email or call for price & availability
ISBN: 9780062129383
Availability: Not Currently Available to Order
Published: Ecco - May 9th, 2017

Magpie Murders: A Novel Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780062645227
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper - June 6th, 2017

You Will Know Me: A Novel Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780316231060
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Back Bay Books - April 25th, 2017

A Song of Shadows: A Charlie Parker Thriller Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781501118302
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atria/Emily Bestler Books - July 5th, 2016

King Maybe (A Junior Bender Mystery #5) Cover Image
Email or call for price & availability
ISBN: 9781616958022
Availability: Not Currently Available to Order
Published: Soho Crime - March 21st, 2017

Stealing People Cover Image
$19.00
ISBN: 9781609453138
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Europa Editions - June 7th, 2016

The Coroner's Lunch (A Dr. Siri Paiboun Mystery #1) Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9781616956493
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Soho Crime - April 7th, 2015

Top Ten Graphic Novels for Summer

Summertime is the time for all comic book characters to hit the silver screen so while you're on the beach this summer, why not take add one of these secret origins to your reading list? Our bookseller and graphic novel aficionado Harry lists his top ten graphic novels for Summer 2017.

Books for All Ages

1. Bone by Jeff Smith

Bone is truly one of the great fantasy epics of our times. We follow three creatures from a town called Bonville who have been exiled from their homes. They soon find themselves in a rich world filled with people and monsters like they've never seen before. Complete with dragons, necromancers, and a tough as nails grandma, it's fun all the way through.

2. The Adventures of TIntin by Herge

Tintin is one of those timeless comics that appeal to every kid. Tintin is a Belgian reporter who finds himself embroiled in adventure after adventure. Picture Indiana Jones meets the Hardy Boys. Tintin features a colorful cast of characters and hi jinks around the globe to the desert to the jungle to the bottom of the ocean and to the moon. 

3. Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi

Magic amulets, mysterious family members, robots, if you haven't read this series yet, you really should. Perfect for those who love books similar to Harry Potter and fun for all ages.

4. Hilda and the Troll by Luke Pearson

Hilda is another series that parents will enjoy as much as children. HIlda is a wonderful mixture of childhood curiosity and Northern folklore. The stories are engaging, sweet, and simple. The artwork is incredibly expressive and stylized and lends itself perfectly to Hilda's adventures. 

 

Books for Young Adults (and Adults Who Read Young Adult)

5. Teen Titans by Geoff Johns

It’s dark, it’s edgy, it’s teens with weird powers and adolescent problems. Teen Titans is great for DC fans who are looking for a cool, action packed YA graphic novel.

6. Snotgirl by Bryan Lee O'Malley 

A fashion blogger runs into #drama when she goes to a club and accidentally kills her new best friend. Things get even more complicated when her dead best friend keeps texting her from beyond the grave and shows up that the same party she's at. Ugh, life totally sucks sometimes. The artwork is superb in this absolute nail-biter of a mystery. 

7. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind by Hayao Miyazaki

Fans of Hayao Miyazaki’s movies and new readers alike will love this manga. Everything from how Nausicaa grows as a person, to the incredible world building, to the breathtaking detail in the artwork makes it one of my absolute favorites to read again and again.

8. Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson

As our bookseller Jessica beautifully sums up: "It's girls! Doing things!" There aren't a ton of female-centric comics in the industry, but this is one of the best. A group of girls at a summer camp get into supernatural shenanigans and hilarity, female affirmation ensues. Funny series, great art, great read.

 

Books for Adults

9. Saga by Brian K. Vaughn

Saga is wonderful. It's visually beautiful, super creative, and entirely relatable. Anyone who has ever gone to incredible lengths for someone they love will know how the people in this book feel. Two alien planets, two forbidden lovers, one war that threatens to tear them apart and their newborn child. A sci-fi adventure with real heart. 

10. Descender by Jeff Lemire

Sort of like the movie AI but better and also it's a comic. A small robot boy wakes up after a decades-long sleep on a small mining outpost on a backwater planet. His family and every human there is dead. He soon learns that the entire galaxy has turned against robot-kind but he may also be the key to saving everyone. 

 

Books: 
Out from Boneville (BONE #1) Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9780439706407
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Graphix - February 1st, 2005

The Blue Lotus (The Adventures of Tintin: Young Readers Edition) Cover Image
By Hergé
Email or call for price & availability
ISBN: 9780316133821
Availability: Not Currently Available to Order
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - July 19th, 2011

The Stonekeeper's Curse (Amulet #2) Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9780439846837
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Graphix - September 1st, 2009

Hilda and the Troll: Book 1 (Hildafolk) Cover Image
Email or call for price & availability
ISBN: 9781909263789
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Flying Eye Books - December 1st, 2015

Teen Titans by Geoff Johns Book One Cover Image
$29.99
ISBN: 9781401265984
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: DC Comics - April 4th, 2017

Snotgirl Volume 1: Green Hair Don't Care Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9781534300361
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Image Comics - February 28th, 2017

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Vol. 1 Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9781591164081
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: VIZ Media LLC - February 11th, 2004

Saga Volume 1 (Saga (Comic Series)) Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9781607066019
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Image Comics - October 23rd, 2012

Descender, Volume 1: Tin Stars (Descender Tp #1) Cover Image
By Jeff Lemire, Dustin Nguyen (Artist)
$9.99
ISBN: 9781632154262
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Image Comics - September 22nd, 2015

Meet an Author — Grady Hendrix

 

 

 

 

 

Grady Hendrix writes fiction, also called "lies," and he writes non-fiction, which people sometimes accidentally pay him for. He is the author of Horrorstör, the only novel about a haunted Scandinavian furniture store you'll ever need. It has been translated into 14 languages and is being turned into a television show. His most recent novel is called My Best Friend's Exorcism, about demonic possession, friendship, exorcism, and the Eighties.

Grady used to be a journalist, which means that he was completely irrelevant and could be killed and turned into food at any time. He is one of the founders of the New York Asian Film Festival, but he is not responsible for the bad parts of it. He is also not Asian. For years he was a regular film critic for the New York Sun but then it went out of business. He has written for Playboy Magazine, Slate, The Village Voice, the New York Post, Film Comment, and Variety.

The New Yorker once ran a short profile on him, and this means that when the time comes and they are lining people up for the Space Arks he will be guaranteed a seat ahead of you.

 

Both Horrorstör and My Best Friend's Exorcism are incredibly unique, riding a delicate line between full-fledged horror and more mainstream fiction. Where do you find inspiration for your stories?

With books I really like taking clichés and digging into them, taking them literally. I mean, Horrorstör is just a haunted house story, and My Best Friend’s Exorcism is a straight-up exorcism narrative. But those stories are only clichés if you don’t think about them too hard. Once you take them seriously, weird contradictions arise. I’ve always been freaked out by the end of The Exorcist when the MacNeils are saying goodbye to the priests. I mean, sure, Regan is no longer possessed, but what’s breakfast like the next morning after you kill a priest, rub your mom’s face into your bloody crotch, and spray bystanders with green vomit? 

Tell us a bit about what it was like to write from the perspective of teenage girls.

The most important thing that happened to me writing this book was when I gave my wife the first 50,000 words to read. I was super proud and thought she was going to be blown away and all “You’re the world’s greatest writer.” Instead she told me it was hot garbage. We pretty much almost got divorced over that conversation. But when I got over my wounded ego, I realized she was right. My head was so stuffed with pop culture depictions of the 80s and high school from movies and other books that I’d forgotten what the real thing was like, so I pulled out all my old letters and journals, all my wife’s old letters, all the yearbooks and photos we had, and I just dove into them for 3 weeks. At one point I started copying letters over to get into the mindset (I copied so many of them that my handwriting actually changed and I reverted to some weird ways to write “a” and “e” that I had in high school). It reminded me that high school in the 80s was so much stranger and so much scarier than I remembered. Writing from the POV of two girls wasn’t very difficult after I got that part down. I mean, we’re both people. 

A reviewer has called My Best Friend's Exorcism, "a great mixture of nostalgia and horror." How does that assessment strike you?

I’ll take any assessment anyone’s willing to give me! I write these books alone in a room then seal them up in bottles and throw them out into the world, so it’s nice to hear from someone who’s found one washed up on the beach. Even if they don’t like something I’ve written, I’m grateful they’re taking the time to engage.

If My Best Friend's Exorcism were to be made into a movie, who do you hope would play Abby and Gretchen?

Zendaya as Gretchen and Willow Smith as Abby.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism includes some really intense and suspenseful scenes, but there are added elements of humor and a lovely friendship between your main characters. Do you consider yourself a part of the horror genre? Or is there another label that you think better captures what you’ve created?

I just write books about the world I see around me. Afterwards, people tell me it’s horror. But I am aware that I’m writing in a horror tradition and I’m happy with that. Horror is the mulch down deep in the dark where all the other genres have their roots. It’s the most flexible genre that talks about the most important things: life, death, love, werewolves. 

Who are your top five favorite authors?

I’ll read anything by Elmore Leonard and any of Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct novels. Once a year, or every other year, I re-read Charles Willeford’s Miami-set Hoke Mosely novels. I keep finding new things to love in Shirley Jackson. And I’ve been doing a massive re-read of Stephen King and it’s given me a new appreciation of what he’s done and is still doing.

Which books are in your to-be-read pile right now? 

Right now, I’m working on a book about books, so I’m reading a ton of horror paperbacks from the 70s and 80s. My to-be-read pile has about 100 books in it, and I’m reading 2-3 per day, which hurts my brain. But in terms of what I’ve read in the past five days, Satan’s Mistress, Satan’s Seductress, Satan’s Sleuth, Satan’s Pets, Satan’s Love Child, Satan Sublets, Satan’s Bride, and Satan’s Daughter. Basically, I’m reading about all of Satan’s relationships.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

It doesn’t exist until you put it down on paper. That’s the only way to do it. There are no shortcuts.

Can we look forward to another book from you in the future?

I’ve got a new book due in October, and then a new novel due in February. I can’t talk about them right now because I don’t want to make any promises until they’re finished, but there will be new books from me in 2017 and 2018 at the very least.

 

 

Books: 
Staff Pick Badge
My Best Friend's Exorcism: A Novel Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781594748622
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Quirk Books - May 17th, 2016

Horrorstor: A Novel Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9781594745263
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Quirk Books - September 23rd, 2014

Meet a Bookseller — Wendy

 

What do you do at the bookstore?

My job is to socialize and talk about books. I also carry books around, alphabetize, and clean shelves. All books, all the time!  I need to be as knowledgeable as possible about many different genres of books, although my favorite sections are mystery, cooking, adventure/travel and nature.

What do you do outside of the bookstore?

I’m a wife, mother, and my family’s chief cook and organizer. I read a lot at home, and I’m a political junkie so I read quite a few newspapers and political blogs. I was on the editorial board of the Bozeman Daily Chronical for two and a half years, so I had to know a lot about local and state politics. I also like to hike, ski, fish, and river raft. I love cooking, especially Indian food.

What are a few of your favorite books?

Because I am a mystery reader, I end up reading a lot of series, so it’s harder to pick favorite books. I would say my favorite authors are C.J. Box, Craig Johnson, Jussi Adler-Olsen, Elly Griffiths, and Mo Hayder. As far as individual books go, Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner and Time and Again by Jack Finney are two of my favorites.

A book about your life would be called...

So Many Books, So Little Thyme. It would be entirely about reading and cooking. I cannot remember not knowing how to read. I got my first library card when I was three years old, and I have been a voracious reader ever since. On the other hand, I only learned how to cook when I started grad school, got my own apartment, and I had to feed myself. But I’ve made up for lost time!  

What is your biggest accomplishment?

Raising my two boys to be kind and honest young men.

What is a fun fact about yourself?

For my 40th birthday, I wanted to go to Hawaii. Instead, I found myself salmon fishing in Alaska. I had to tie all my flies myself!

 

Read Wendy's Staff Picks

Meet an Author — Kent Davis

Kent Davis is an actor, a game designer, and a teacher. He lives in Bozeman, Montana, with his wife and a wily dog ninja named Bobo. Kent Davis teaches in the Honors College at Montana State University, a fact by which he is constantly surprised.

How does writing a sequel compare to working on your first book? Do you have a plan laid out for the entire trilogy, or are you figuring it out as you go along?

It was thrilling! It's one thing to chart out a single story from beginning to end, but in Book 2 the characters sort of took off on their own. It was kind of like that sweet spot in a relationship, where you feel comfortable enough around each other to start revealing your true selves and how you eat ice cream in the middle of the night and hold fiercely to strange superstitions. Everyone does that, right? I had several epiphanies while writing The Changer's Key where a character would take off in a completely unexpected direction or reveal some mad, hidden depths that I never expected. It was a lot of "Oh, so that's who you are." Weird, but beautiful.

There has definitely been a plan laid out for where Book 3 will end up, but the path is winding and still subject to drastic and delightful change. Ruby and her crew have full veto power over what they'll try next: they independently come up with much more interesting solutions than I could ever plan out for them.

Do you have any writing rituals? What helps you get those creative juices flowing?

It's very challenging to write at home. I'm distractible to the nth degree. I do most of my work in an office space at the Emerson, and before that I kept many of Bozeman's coffee shops solvent through a truly massive Americano purchasing program.
 
As for the juices flowing, I do have a set of clear-out-the-cobwebs songs I use to get right for writing. I will not list any of them here, because they will embarrass me.
 

Do you have any advice for young writers?

Find the writers who you just can’t do without and study their stuff. Drill down to the page, the paragraph, the sentence, the word. When I first started writing I took pages from Ursula LeGuin, George Martin, and Terry Pratchett and I typed them out into blank documents and tried to figure out the why of their choices. You can discover out a lot about writing by channeling whoever you think is great. 
 
At the same time, trust yourself and don't be in too much of a hurry. I think one of the difficult myths of American culture is that brilliance just flows out of some people onto the page or the stage or the screen. I don’t know anyone who just rolls out of bed and channels something finished and astonishing. I don’t really think I’d want to, either, because that would make me jealous and full of self-hatred. For me, making something good usually starts with something bad. If you accept the bad as part of the process and keep making it a little bit better and then a little bit better and just do not stop you’ll eventually get to something that works. I’d like to think that could be comforting for anyone starting to make things, no matter what their age.  
 
Also, if anyone tells you there’s only one, best way to do it, run away screaming.
 

What is something you wish you’d known about publishing when you started this process? 

I’m just blown away by how hard people in the publishing industry work. Weekends, holidays, late nights. It’s possible that one of them who I will not name has discovered some sort of time-slowing pocket dimension. I suspect that I may just have gotten very lucky, but my agent, my editor and also pretty much everyone who works at my imprint are just ferocious, tireless, book-loving berserkers. I wish I’d known that, so I could have gotten deeper into the book business before I did.

Which books are on your to-be read pile right now? 

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, about a jillion things by China Mieville, Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson, a re-read of Stuart Gibbs’ Spy School books, and The Tiger by John Vaillant.
 

What is a book that you have pretended to read but haven’t really?

This is an awesome question! Stegner. I love the little I’ve read, but I’ve totally nodded and waggled my eyebrows significantly through numerous Wallace Stegner conversations….

If you had to recommend one book that everyone should read, what would you pick?

I’m not sure I’d call any book a universal match for all humans, but hoo doggie, I do love If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
 
 
 
 
Books: 
A Riddle in Ruby #2: The Changer's Key Cover Image
Email or call for price & availability
ISBN: 9780062368379
Availability: Not Currently Available to Order
Published: Greenwillow Books - September 27th, 2016

A Riddle in Ruby Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780062368355
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Greenwillow Books - September 6th, 2016

Goodbye Summer, Hello Great Reading!

 

Love it or hate it, it’s hard to deny that summer is slowly but surely becoming autumn. In the bookstore, the changes are marked in a variety of ways. For one, our well-loved floors are littered with increasingly more debris from dead leaves. It won’t be long now until we have to shut the door to keep piles of fallen leaves and gusts of cold air from swirling in the door and around the card racks.

Then there are the students rushing in to buy their assigned summer reading books now that there is only a week left until school starts. The teachers and librarians are calling in orders for the upcoming year, and parents are requesting educational books to help prep their kids for school during the last days of summer vacation.

Despite some of the quintessential downers of the end of summer, fall is actually an exciting time in the book world. It is the season of big releases! Publishing tends to slow down in the summer, like most of us. There are moments of excitement here and there, but largely it’s a languid time. The best summer reads were released in the spring, when the heady works of winter contemplation get set aside for breezy reads. But now the gears are turning again and we are looking forward to some fantastic new releases.

Authors like Jonathan Safran Foer, Zadie Smith, Michael Chabon, and Ann Patchett have new fiction on the docket. Mystery fans can look forward to new thrills from Louise Penny, Harlan Coben, and Carl Hiaasen. Foodies will relish new cookbooks from heavy hitters like Anthony Bourdain, Alton Brown, Ina Garten, and Marcus Samuelsson. We have our eyes on memoirs and biographies covering Bruce Springsteen, Al Capone, and the family life of John and Rose Kennedy. Plus, writer-extraordinaire Ursula K. Le Guin has two notable works coming out, a volume of her collected novellas and a compilation of essays and talks on life and books. Business and economic releases will be heavy on technology and inequality, and history releases will cover a wide swath of issues that are still relevant today, like race and religion.

Whatever your preferred genre, you can bet there are some enticing titles coming out in the next few months. Though the sun may still be shining bright and hot, it’s time to start working on your reading lists for the cold months that we book worms spend curled up under blankets, tea steaming, and fire crackling. Heck, start making your Christmas lists! So if you’re like me and love the fleeting, flower-bursting, garden-nurturing, sleep-under-the-stars, mad-dash of summer in the Rocky Mountains, take comfort in knowing that with the fading of warmth and long days comes the promise of some great reading.        

-- Katie Plumb

Off the Shelf — It's a Bird! It's a Plane!

“Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s Superman!”

I would venture a guess that just about everyone knows that line, but only a few have ever actually read The Adventures of Superman. Graphic novels and comic books are severely overlooked art forms, and are seen as absurd or juvenile. I’d argue that the absurdity and child-like nature of comic books is what makes it so special. There’s a certain charm to the unimaginable becoming commonplace. In comics, you can find a mutated teenager fighting crime, a resurrected soldier from World War II busting up a drug ring, a blind man fighting ninjas, and a man made of orange bricks wrestling dinosaurs all in the same day. For everyone else, it’s just another day in New York City. Graphic novels take the normal world and dare it to be fantastic.

The first comic book I ever owned was Groo the Wanderer by Sergio Aragones. I walked into the local comic book store and I was absolutely floored. I had looked over a few of my brother’s Spider-Man comics before and I liked the show on Fox Kids but I realized as soon as I had stepped into that store that I really didn’t understand anything about comic culture. The walls were covered in posters of monsters and heroes and plastic figurines everywhere. I hadn’t realized that there were so many options. Now you must understand, I was a very socially awkward kid and when faced with these kinds of conundrums I usually would have just left rather than asking for help but something special was in the air besides the smell of old print and mylar plastic. I walked up to the guy behind the counter, whose name I later learned was Roger, and asked him “What should I read?” He asked me what I was into. I shrugged and said, “Something funny, I guess.” So he showed me Groo, a comic that parodies Conan the Barbarian that is about a witless warrior and his faithful, sarcastic dog. After the first issue, I spent every weekend and every weekend’s allowance going back to that store and getting every issue I could find. Roger and I even became good friends. Roger hadn’t just provided me with a life-long passion but also a sense of community, something to be a part of.

The graphic novel is an art form unlike any other; the marriage of literature and art. It’s written like a book but scripted like a film. There are things that a graphic novel can describe that a book never could and vice versa. It’s one thing to describe a beautiful sun setting over Kent Farms in Superman for All Seasons but quite another to see the breathtaking watercolors of Tim Sale splash across the page in a dazzling display of yellows, oranges, and pinks as Clark and his father look on. The kind of dramatic pacing found in Watchmen is unsurpassed but especially because often the tension and the feeling of dread of the future is achieved without saying a single word.

People look to comic books for a number of reasons: to inspire us, to warn us, to entertain us. In many ways, the mythologies of ancient times have evolved into the modern pantheon of comic book characters. I say that we look to graphic novels because the human imagination is too limitless not to. Comics can be bigger than life like an immortal sun god from Kansas or simplicity itself like the chronicles of a young boy and his tiger.

If you have never read a graphic novel, I strongly urge you to go to your local bookstore or library or comic book shop and ask someone to help you down the long and rewarding road of graphic novels. If you think there can’t possibly be a graphic novel out there to fit your reading style, you’re probably wrong. Graphic novels have heroes, monsters, real people, history, culture, tragedy, comedy, and so much more.

Roger is part of the reason I became a bookseller at Country Bookshelf. I wanted to help people not just find a story to keep them entertained over summer vacation or to distract them momentarily, but to find a book that would shape their lives. I hope that I can be like Roger and recommend something that can expand your mind and change the way you read forever.

'Nuff said.

-- Harry Jahnke

 

Meet a Bookseller — Kathy

 

What do you do at the bookstore?

My job at the bookstore entails an endless list of tasks. Most imporantly, I am learning how to be a bookseller. Not only am I learning about books and authors, but also learning how to best serve bookstore customers.

What do you do outside of the bookstore?

When not at the bookstore, I find myself outside as much as possible. I enjoy hiking, gardening, and cycling. Experimenting with watercolor painting is a recent hobby.

What are a few of your favorite books?

This is an ever-shifting list. Today, I would include Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Our Only World by Wendell Berry, and The Abundance by Annie Dillard.

A book about your life would be called...

Fluctuating Between Opportunity and Wisdom. The book would include timelines, photographs, and sketches. I imagine something like The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

Good fortune often placed me in the company of talented individuals. Their ability to step forward when their expertise was needed then return to the status of worker without seeking the limelight was integral to the success of the team. Whether is was touring Japan for a month with a group of middle school students, working on a grant connecting museums and elementary schools with Indian Education For All, creating learning environments where discourse and creativity are valued, building a family cabin, or being married. All of these accomplishments have brought joy to my life.

What is a fun fact about youself?

Once, when on a moonlight hike in Yellowstone (near the Beaver Ponds), a herd of elk ran right by us. The herd "parted" only a few feet in front of us. My heart was beating almost as fast as the pounding of their hooves.

 

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