As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

January 31, 2011

THE SIXTY-EIGHT ROOMS by Marianne Malone, 2010

The Sixty-Eight Rooms (The Sixty-Eight Rooms Adventures)
Almost everybody who has grown up in Chicago knows about the Thorne Rooms. Housed in the Children’s Galleries of the Chicago Art Institute, they are a collection of 68 exquisitely crafted miniature rooms made in the 1930s by Mrs. James Ward Thorne. Each of the 68 rooms is designed in the style of a different historic period, and every detail is perfect, from the knobs on the doors to the candles in the candlesticks. Some might even say, the rooms are magic. Imagine—what if you discovered a key that allowed you to shrink so that you were small enough to sneak inside and explore the rooms’ secrets? What if you discovered that others had done so before you? And that someone had left something important behind? (Amazon product description)

Kim Thacker, writer and mommy

The famous Thorne Rooms at the Chicago Art Institute are 68 miniature rooms made by master craftsmen so that each object in the room is to scale and utterly gorgeous (One inch equals one foot, so a six foot tall garden statue in our world would be six inches tall if it were housed in one of the Thorne Rooms.).  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be small enough to fit inside one of these intricately detailed rooms?  And what if the painted landscapes beyond the miniature windows in the Thorne Rooms led to real worlds?  Marianne Malone's THE SIXTY-EIGHT ROOMS is about two characters who have a wonderful adventure in the Thorne Rooms...and in the worlds beyond.

THE SIXTY-EIGHT ROOMS was written with careful attention to factual detail; yet it doesn’t read like non-fiction--not in the least.  The story is filled with adventure, friendship, and mystery.  Their are several subplots that enrich the story and make you root for all of the characters.  This is a truly exciting book.  Middle grade readers will gobble it up.

Goodreads suggests that fans of E.L. Konigsburg’s THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER check this book out.  I agree!

Click here for images of the real Thorne rooms at the Chicago Art Institute.

Market:  Middle Grade
Language:  Mild, if any
Sensuality:  None
Violence:  Mild to None (adventure peril)

Book formats:
The Sixty-Eight Rooms (The Sixty-Eight Rooms Adventures) (hardcover)
The Sixty-Eight Rooms (Kindle)

January 27, 2011

ALANNA: SONG OF THE LIONESS by Tamora Pierce, 1989

Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness)
"From now on I'm Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I'll be a knight." And so young Alanna of Trebond begins the journey to knighthood. Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Disguised as a girl, Thom heads for the convent; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, is on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page. But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. As Alanna masters the skills necessary for battle, she must also learn to control her heart and to discern her enemies from her allies. Filled with swords and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna's first adventure begins -- one that will lead to the fulfillment of her dreams and make her a legend in the land. (Amazon product description)

Reviewed by Kelly McCreery, avid reader and book collector

I discovered Tamora Pierce by accident. I often raid resale shops for old books in the hopes of finding a "treasure" or two, and when I came across her book Wild Magic, I just had to have it! The cover art spoke to me and drew me in and I ended up completing the series in a week. When I googled Tamora, I found that by far her most popular work was the 'Song of the Lioness' Quartet, which begins with Alanna.

Alanna is a story of a girl who wishes to do more with her life than other girls her age. She longs to be knight, and so she switches places with her brother and ends up having the adventure of a lifetime. The characters are numerous and colorful: from the young prince Jonathan, to the handsome thief George, to the bullying, evil ,Ralon- there is no shortage of excitement. The story is fast-paced and page turning. It has just the right balance of humor, action, romance and mystery. The entire series is defenitely worth a read. Or 2 or 3 reads, if you're like me.

The beauty of Tamora Pierce's books is how real they are. Even though they are fantasy books, I feel like the events in them really could have happened.  I find myself becoming so engrossed in the story that I don't want it to end. The beauty of Mrs. Pierce's books is that you get to follow Alanna's journey  through out some of her other novels. She pops up every now and then, and it's like catching up with an old friend that you haven't talked to in a while.

Now, I am one of Tamora Pierce's loyal fans. One whole shelf of one of my many bookcases houses her books. Her books span decades, but one thing is clear- her writing is terrific and just gets better with each book. Now, it is a real thrill for me to find a new Tamora Pierce at the book store.

Her books are a must have for any fantasy fan - or anyone who just likes a good story!!

Market: Young Adult
Language: None - Mild, depending on the book
Sensuality: None - Mild, there is a bit in later books
Violence: Mild - Moderate
Mature Themes: puberty, death, spells and magic (some may call them mature)

Book fomats:
Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness) (paperback)
Alanna: The First Adventure (e-book)
The Song of the Lioness Quartet: Alanna: The First Adventure / In the Hand of the Goddess / The Woman Who Rides Like a Man / Lioness Rampant (the entire 4-book Alanna series)

To learn more about the author, visit: Tamora Pierce

January 25, 2011

10 Questions with Jessica Day George, featuring SARAH BETH DURST

Sarah Beth Durst is the author of young adult novels Enchanted Ivy and Ice from Simon & Schuster, as well as middle grade novels Into the Wild and Out of the Wild from Penguin Young Readers. She has twice been a finalist for SFWA's Andre Norton Award, for both Ice and Into the Wild.

Interview by Jessica Day George.  

Jessica Day George: Your latest book, ENCHANTED IVY, takes place at Princeton University, which you attended.  Was using Princeton as a setting a recent idea, or something you’ve been mulling over since you were an undergrad?

Sarah Beth Durst:  I used to always daydream about magic at Princeton: a dragon landing outside my dorm, an arch leading to a Tolkienesque Wonderland, or a wizard teaching spells during his office hours.  But that's really just something I do wherever I am.  I always imagine magic around me.  (Um, should I admit that?)  I didn't plan on writing a book about Princeton until one day I started imagining tigers running through campus... and then I started to wonder about where they came from and what they wanted.  From that, my were-tiger Tye from an alternate magical Princeton was born, and I knew there was a story there that I wanted to tell.

JDG: Be honest: Did the gargoyles ever talk to you?

SBD: No.  Just the trees.

JDG: You’ve written two delightful books about Julie, the daughter of Rapunzel and her Prince.  (INTO THE WILD and OUT OF THE WILD)  Will there be any more fairy tale adventures for Julie?

SBD: I'm not currently working on any more Wild books.  But I do miss Julie and Boots and Zel, and I think "happily ever after" really means "and then they went on to have lots more awesome adventures."

JDG: Any writing rituals: snacks, no snacks, complete silence, music?  And do you have a regular schedule, or do you just sneak whatever chance you can get?

SBD: I sneak every chance I get.  Often while humming the Mission Impossible theme. 

Seriously, I write every day.  I need to.  If I skip a day, it throws off my whole mood.  Plus I find that the words flow more easily and you need fewer rituals or less warm-up time if writing is as much a daily habit as brushing your teeth.

Chocolate also helps.  Especially Raisinets.

JDG: What is the Princeton Fight Song?

SBD: "Tune every heart and every voice, bid every care withdraw; let all with one accord rejoice, in praise of Old Nassau.  In praise of Old Nassau we sing, hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!  Our hearts will give while we shall live, three cheers for Old Nassau."  It's traditional to sing it off-key.  Or maybe that's just me.

JDG: In addition to the books about Julie and the Wild, you also wrote a retelling of East o’ the Sun, West o’ the Moon (a story close to my own heart!) called ICE.  Are you planning any more fairy tale retellings?

SBD: I adore fairy tales.  For one thing, they're AWESOME.  For another, they're such a great tool for a writer because they touch on universal themes in an archetypal way.  So I'm sure I'll work with them again at some point...

JDG: How about Lily and her new Princeton friends?  Will there be any more stories about them?

SBD: Finishing a manuscript is always such a bittersweet moment, so I never close the door on returning.  But right now, I'm in love with my newest characters: Pearl and Evan and Matt and Zeke...  My next novel is about a vampire girl who develops a conscience after she is stabbed through the heart by a unicorn's horn.  It's been tremendously fun to write, and I'm so excited about it.  It's called DRINK, SLAY, LOVE, and it will be out in September 2011 from Simon & Schuster.

JDG: Was there a specific moment in your life that inspired you to be a writer?  A book you read?  An idea you had?

SBD: I remember reading and rereading Alanna by Tamora Pierce, The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, and Deep Wizardry by Diane Duane, and thinking "I want to do this!"  Half of me meant that I wanted to become a girl-knight and then swim with telepathic whales, but the rest of me knew I wanted to be a writer. 

JDG: Do you have a new book in the works that you’d like to give a sneak preview of?

SBD: Here's the start of DRINK, SLAY, LOVE:

"One hour until dawn," Pearl said.  She leapt off the roof and landed catlike on the pavement.  "Oodles of time, if we steal a car."

Her boyfriend Jadrien stretched out on the roof of Outback Steakhouse.  He was a shadow, a lovely shadow, against the green tin.  "Come back up, Pearl," he said.  "I'll compare your eyes to stars, your lips to rubies, and your breath to industrial-strength air freshener."

"Your charm and sincerity overwhelm me."

JDG: You are to be buried in Egyptian splendor, and must take everything with you that you will need in the Afterlife.  What five books go in your tomb?

SBD: If I'm headed for the ancient Egyptian Afterlife, I'd better take a translation of the Book of the Dead so that I can say the appropriate spells at the Weighing of the Heart to avoid Ammut, the Devourer of Souls.  So that's book one. 

Book two would be a thesaurus because it drives me nuts when I can't quite think of a word.  Book three would be my book Ice because I wrote it as a love letter to my husband and writing it was a real labor of love.  And books four and five would be Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce and Beauty by Robin McKinley because those books make me happy.

Thanks so much for interviewing me!

Many thanks to Sarah Beth Durst for spending some time with us on Bookshop Talk! If you would like to visit her author website, you can find it here.

January 23, 2011

ENCHANTED IVY by Sarah Beth Durst, 2010

Enchanted Ivy
What Lily Carter wants most in the world is to attend Princeton University just like her grandfather. When she finally visits the campus, Grandpa surprises her: She has been selected to take the top-secret Legacy Test. Passing means automatic acceptance to Princeton. Sweet! Lily's test is to find the Ivy Key. But what is she looking for? Where does she start? As she searches, Lily is joined by Tye, a cute college boy with orange and black hair who says he's her guard. That's weird. But things get seriously strange when a gargoyle talks to her. He tells her that there are two Princetons—the ordinary one and a magical one—and the Key opens the gate between them. But there are more secrets that surround Lily. Worse secrets. (Amazon product description)

Review by Jessica Day George, Young Adult and Middle Grade Author

Most of the college-bound have worries.  Things like not getting into the school of your choice, or getting in, and then finding out that your roommate is crazy.  Or that all your professors would be horrible and you now hate Jane Austen, when Pride & Prejudice used to be your favorite book . . . What a bunch of whiners!  After reading this book, I have a whole new set of fears to offer the college-bound: how about being EATEN BY A STONE MONSTER?!

Since I went to a college that only about three pieces of statuary on the entire campus, I never knew that this was something to fear.  (One of those statues was a nine foot representation of Chief Massasoit, though, which could have been terrifying) But now Durst’s latest book has spun it’s amazing web around me, and I find myself studying statues and gargoyles far more closely, and wondering about people with unnaturally colored hair . . . 

This is masterful storytelling, where from the first, seemingly ordinary moment you know that something is slightly askew in Lily Evans’ life, but how askew you cannot guess and finding out is the true fun of the book.  I adored the characters (even the nasty ones), and deeply regretted that in the two years I lived in New Jersey (five miles from Princeton, no less!) I never took the opportunity to tour the campus . . . or buy myself a bright orange jacket.  This book is amazingly fun, and a must read for the college-bound, to remind them to lighten up, if nothing else!

Market: Teen Fantasy
Language: None
Sensuality: Mild (some kissing)
Violence: PG-13
Mature Themes: The use and abuse of power, mental illness, exsanguination of nonhumans.

Book formats:
Enchanted Ivy (hardcover)
Enchanted Ivy (e-book)

To learn more about the author, visit: Sarah Beth Durst

Bookshop Talk will be posting our interview with Sarah Beth Durst on January 25th, so be sure to check back in!

January 19, 2011

DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE by Christopher Meyerhoeffer, 2010

Dismissed with Prejudice
Nick Jelaco returns home after successfully litigating the most important case of his career and walks into a nightmare. His wife has been brutally murdered, and his young daughter is missing. As Nick searches for answers, he finds an unlikely friend in Simone Panache, the sister of convicted murderer Cole Panache. As the improbable allies work together to unravel a web of lies and corruption dating back to Cole's murder conviction, the partners uncover a conspiracy involving police officers, lawyers from Nick's law firm, and the prosecutor who put Simone's brother in prison. (Amazon product description)

Review by Emily Sonderegger, Book Addict

I'm a pretty soft sell when it comes to legal or medical thrillers. Give me a good story, and I'm happy. It's especially nice when the author can toss in some twists that I don't see coming. That was definitely the case with this book.

See, I love John Grisham, but I can usually figure things out about halfway through. After that, the books lose a little something for me. With "Dismissed with Prejudice," I'd start thinking I had things figured out nicely, and BAM! Something would change. I never, ever suspected the real culprit. Didn't even cross my mind. I had things tied up so nicely in my mind that the ending came as a shock. Mr. Meyerhoeffer does a masterful job of leading the reader to the conclusion he wants them to reach and then springs a huge surprise ending on them. Don't think that by knowing that there is a surprise coming that you'll get it figured out. I'm very good at picking up clues in books, and I didn't see it coming even a little bit.

I really liked that it wasn't all clear cut for Nick. Sometimes, things just seem to go a little too easy for the hero. Not here. Nick really suffered on his journey to solve his wife's murder and find his daughter, Darby. (Not that I enjoyed his suffering, but it made things more real and made him a more relatable and likable character.) He really had to work hard and go through hell to get to the bottom of things.

At first, I wasn't sold on the idea that Nick could be an accomplished fighter even when drunk. I even made some notes in my Kindle edition of the book about that. After a more careful reading of that part, his past history as a Delta Force operative made it make sense. His training would have been so thorough that it kicked in at the first hint of danger, even in his drunken state. According to my military friends, that kind of training doesn't go out the door, EVER. I still don't know though, if I buy that he could incapacitate three big guys without taking much damage himself. Still, it made for exciting reading.
The supporting characters were believable too. Gates, Simone, Sato, the attorneys, Jefferson Hughes...all of them were well-written. Each had a specific part to play and they played their parts well.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book.

Market: Adult Fiction
Language: Moderate
Sensuality: Mild
Violence: Moderate
Mature Themes: depression, death, alcohol abuse

Book formats (there's another book with this same title, so make sure to check the author's name, or just click one of these links):

To learn more about the author, visit: Christopher Meyerhoeffer

January 17, 2011

INTERVIEW with Young Adult Author, Joëlle Anthony

Interviewed by Kim Harris Thacker

I don’t even remember exactly how Joëlle Anthony and I became email friends, because it seems like we’ve always been friends!  Joëlle is one of the nicest and smartest people I’ve ever “met.”  I can’t wait for the day when we get to meet in person!  Until then, we can at least be thankful for internet communication, which allows us to enjoy a visit from Joëlle today.

Without further ado, a hearty welcome to Joëlle Anthony, author of RESTORING HARMONY and the forthcoming THE RIGHT & THE REAL:

Kim Harris Thacker:  You often have photos of deer on your website—photos you or your photographer/musician husband, Victor, have taken in your very own backyard!  Tell us about where you live and how the setting inspired some of the locations in your debut novel, RESTORING HARMONY, which came out in March of 2010.

Joëlle Anthony:  I live on a small island in British Columbia, which is part of the Gulf Island chain (the same chain as the San Juans in the U.S.). The Gulf Islands are in the Georgia Straight, which runs between Vancouver Island and mainland Canada (where the city of Vancouver is, so it’s often confusing for people not from around these parts!).

We have about 5000 year round residents on our island and it’s the same size as Manhattan. People often joke there are more deer than people here, which I know is not true, but we might have more raccoons than people. Some deer are more tame than others. Although you can see pictures of me feeding the deer out of my hands, I actually try not to give in to that urge too often because the deer really should be foraging, not getting handouts (yeah, bad pun!). One rule I do stick to with the deer though is that I only feed them things they could find, like carrots or apples.

Molly is not from the same island I live on, but they’re very similar. If you’re good at geography, you can get a map and figure out which island she’s from, using a few clues toward the end of the book. Very little of RH is set here in B.C., but Molly’s farm and island are very concrete in my mind, and some of that comes out through Molly’s memories or dialogue.

KHT:  RESTORING HARMONY is a work of dystopian young adult fiction about Molly McClure, a young woman who embarks on a journey from her tiny island home in British Columbia to a suburb of Portland, Oregon on a mission to bring her grandparents back home to Canada, where her grandfather can serve as the island's doctor—and possibly save her pregnant mother's life.  In essence, Molly is on a bit of a quest!  Did you read any Quest-type novels to prepare you for writing Molly's story?  Do you have any favorite books that could be considered Quest novels?

JA:  Well, honestly, I’m not much of a quest-novel reader. However, I was definitely inspired by Nevil Shute’s wonderful WWII (adult) novel, THE PIED PIPER. Shute is one of my greatest influences anyway, but that novel in particular had a direct influence on RH. It’s about an Englishman who has to cross occupied France and inadvertently ends up taking a bunch of children with him. It’s a very, very exciting story and I recommend it highly. Shute writes a lot of character driven adventures with a touch of romance and if you read him, it’s quite obvious I’ve learned (borrowed?) a lot from him.

As far as MG-YA quest novels go, I do have a soft spot for Joni Sensel’s THE FARWALKER’S QUEST and the sequel THE TIMEKEEPER’S MOON. Everyone I’ve given those books to has devoured them too. They’re super.

KHT:  The setting in RESTORING HARMONY is so vivid.  Here's an example where Molly is at a train station, looking around as she waits to buy a train ticket:  "Behind a glass window sat a woman with enormous purple- framed glasses, chewing on an apple and reading an E-ZBook Reader by kerosene lamplight."  I love this, because it seems so old-fashioned, and at the same time, so futuristic, which I think is perfect and super-logical for dystopian fiction.  Can you tell us about how you came up with such great ideas for your setting?

JA:  The book is set thirty years in the future, which is not really that far away. However, while technology will probably grow in leaps and bounds (if the last ten years are any indication), an economic collapse would most likely bring development to a screeching halt. So what I tried to do was use things we’re familiar with now, like cell phones, and change them, like making them solar. That way they’re more modern than what we have now, but to Molly they’re unreliable and outdated. And by mixing the use of things like the e-reader with an old-technology kerosene lamp, which is something people would return to if they didn’t have electricity, you get a nice contrast.

KHT:  Molly is a middle child in a literary world that seems to be most densely populated by orphans, oldest/youngest children, or only children.  There just doesn't seem to be a lot of fiction about middle kids!  Why do you think this is the trend, and why did you decide to break away from it?

JA:  My best guess is it’s a writer thing and not necessarily intentional. When I was in high school, I directed a play. My mother helped me find it and it was called The Dollar. It was great, and it had just enough roles for all my friends who weren’t directing their own plays. I think there were seven roles. For the whole play, six characters were on stage at once, and at the end, the seventh one came on. What I learned then is something all writers know. Six characters standing around on the stage (or the page) are a LOT harder to deal with than two. The play was deceivingly simple when you read it, and extremely hard to direct because you can’t just have characters twiddling their thumbs until it’s their turn to talk.

It’s the same in books. That’s why you find writers grouping characters together too. Like it’s easier to have twins for best friends than two separate friends when you’re writing a scene. And it’s much easier to have one brother than five siblings of different ages and sexes. So, while Molly is a middle child, I have to admit, I didn’t have to deal with her siblings because they aren’t in it that much! If the book had taken place on the farm, we might have found Molly an only child.

That said, I do want to point out that I really try (in all my writing) to have multiple generations in my books from the very young to the grandparents. And especially middle-age people (not just parents, but friends) because life is multi-generational and so often in YA, you find yourself reading about teens and only teens, which isn’t very realistic to me.

KHT:  In many adventure stories (especially in Quests), the hero has a companion—usually a side-kick who provides comic relief, or, if we're thinking Quests, a loyal servant who comes along for the ride.  In RESTORING HARMONY, Molly has Jewels.  Tell us about Jewels and what makes her unique.

JA:  Well, Jewels is Molly’s fiddle, so she’s definitely not a silent partner, but she doesn’t give Molly much advice. She does step in and help save Molly a few times, like a good sidekick should though. I think of Jewels as more like Molly’s right arm than a friend though. Molly wouldn’t know how to live without music and Jewels is how she makes music.

KHT:  When did you decide you wanted to become a writer?

JA:  I’ve always liked books, and until about junior high, I thought I’d be a writer, but then I got sidetracked by the theatre. My university degree is in Theatre Arts, and I worked as a professional actress for a while in my thirties. I mostly did comedy and improvisation. But a theatre background is a good foundation for writing, so it all sort of melds together. It’s all storytelling, isn’t it?

KHT:  Tell us about your writing day.  Because I know you better than most of the visitors to this blog, I know you own an ingenious...contraption...that allows you to be physically active while you work.  Please tell us all about it!

JA:  I do all my writing (and this interview) at my treadmill desk—writing while walking. The writer, Arthur Slade, first introduced me to the idea of it. It’s a desk built across my treadmill and my laptop sits on it. Because I’m tall, it made me kind of dizzy to have to look down at the screen, so I had a shelf put on the wall in front of me and I put a large monitor on it which I plug my laptop into. I walk about 1.5 mph while I write, and it sounds hard, but it’s not. At the end of the day, I feel much more energized than I do when I sit all day.

Also, I should say, I probably only actually walk about 3-4 miles per day. On long writing days, I do have to sit down after I reach 4 miles or so.

KHT:  How does being a reader help you be a writer?

JA:  Reading is at least half of writing. In fact, it’s probably more like 75% of writing. If you don’t read, you can’t write. I don’t care what anyone tells me, I’ll never believe otherwise. Last year was a busy year, launching RH and writing my next book, The Right & the Real (May 2012), and so I read less than usual…maybe only a hundred books (usually, I read about a hundred and fifty). This year, I expect to read a lot more because I will only be writing, and not doing much marketing. I’ve already read six novels (one really long one) in the first two weeks of the year. I never consider reading slacking off, I consider it just as important as my writing time.

KHT:  Do you have any advice for young people who want to become writers?

JA:  Read. Read. Read. And then read some more. Also, my friend, and wonderful author, Kerry Madden, wrote a fantastic book full of writing exercises and ideas which is perfect for anyone who wants to get started writing. It’s targeted toward younger girls, but I use it in the writing classes I teach and the boys do the exercises too. It’s called WRITING SMARTS – A Girl’s Guide to Writing Great Poetry, Stories, School Reports, and More! I highly recommend it.
There are two things I tell my Grade 6/7 writing students, which I think are worth remembering.
“Respect the writer.” That goes for your friend who writes, as well as for yourself. Be encouraging and only share writing if you’re comfortable doing so.
“Less talking, more writing.” Pretty self explanatory.
Oh, and I guess, there is one more thing. Have fun!

Thank you so much, Joëlle, for visiting with us on Bookshop Talk!

You can read Bookshop Talk's review of RESTORING HARMONY, posted on January 16 (it's the post right before this one).
To learn more about the author, visit: Joëlle Anthony

January 16, 2011

RESTORING HARMONY by Joëlle Anthony, 2010

Restoring HarmonyThe year is 2041, and sixteen-year-old Molly McClure has lived a relatively quiet life on an isolated farming island in Canada, but when her family fears the worst may have happened to her grandparents in the US, Molly must brave the dangerous, chaotic world left after global economic collapse—one of massive oil shortages, rampant crime, and abandoned cities. Molly is relieved to find her grandparents alive in their Portland suburb, but they’re financially ruined and practically starving. What should’ve been a quick trip turns into a full-fledged rescue mission. And when Molly witnesses something the local crime bosses wishes she hadn’t, Molly’s only way home may be to beat them at their own game. Luckily, there’s a handsome stranger who’s willing to help. Restoring Harmony is a riveting, fast-paced dystopian tale complete with adventure and romance that readers will devour. (Amazon product description)

Review by Kim Thacker, Writer and mommy

RESTORING HARMONY is a unique dystopian novel--unique in that it's filled with hope.  So many dystopian novels seem to be about the world gone wrong, people taking care of themselves without a single thought for anyone else, and other somewhat depressing topics.  Molly McClure, the sweet, independent main character in RESTORING HARMONY, doesn't live in a perfect future world, and she does encounter plenty of selfishness-run-rampant on her adventures, but the overall message of the book is one of hope, love, and friendship--wonderfully refreshing in dystopian literature.

And there's music!  Fiddling, to be exact.  You can almost hear the music when Molly plays her fiddle, which she has named Jewels.

And there's romance...enough romance that The Romantic Times gave it four stars!  Spill, the love-interest in RESTORING HARMONY, is to die for.

Read RESTORING HARMONY if you enjoy dystopian literature, adventure stories, or a good romance novel!

Market:  Young Adult
Language:  Mild (a few instances of using the name of deity)
Sensuality:  Mild (kissing--much anticipated!)
Violence:  Mild (adventure peril--there are some allusions to torture and worse violence, but nothing really violent ever happens "on stage")
Mature Themes:  political strife, abandonment, alcoholism, allusions to torture and killings, family turmoil

Book formats:
Restoring Harmony (hardcover)
Restoring Harmony (e-book)

To learn more about the author, visit: Joëlle Anthony

Watch for our interview with the author, Joëlle Anthony, which will be published on Bookshop Talk tomorrow, January 17th!

January 14, 2011

!!!GIVEAWAY!!! Submit a Review and You Might Win a Book!

We want to hear about your favorite books!

Between now and February 1st, if you submit a review of a book you liked (no matter how long ago it was published), you will be entered into a drawing to win ANY BOOK that has been reviewed on Bookshop Talk since we launched in October. And you can even win more than one!

We will give away one book for every ten reviews that we receive. And your name will be entered into the drawing for every review that you submit. So raid your Goodreads reviews, blog, whatever, and send Bookshop Talk reviews of the books that you would like to recommend to others!
For instructions on how to format and submit your review, visit our Contact page here.

This is a list of the books that have already been reviewed (please look over this list before you submit a new review):
PEGASUS by Robin McKinley
SUN AND MOON, ICE AND SNOW by Jessica Day George
DON'T WAKE UP THE BEAR by Marjorie Dennis Murray
THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins
MIDNIGHT PEARLS by Debbie Viguie
THE GRIMM LEGACY by Polly Shulman
HARRY POTTER (you could choose any book in the series) by J.K. Rowling
TIMECAT by Lloyd Alexander
MATCHED by Ally Condie
THE UNDERNEATH by Kathi Appelt
STARDUST by Neil Gaiman
BEAUTY by Robin McKinley
GOOD OMENS by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare 
THE SWEETEST FIG by Chris Van Allsburg
THE THIEF by Megan Whalen Turner
CROWN DUEL by Sherwood Smith
MR. WILMER by Robert Lawson
THE LAST WALTZ by G.G. Vandagriff
SAILOR MOO: COW AT SEA by Lisa Wheeler
THE HIDING PLACE by Corrie Ten Boom
THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett
BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver
EMMA by Jane Austen
THE GLASS CASTLE by Jeannette Walls
FEVER 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

If your name is picked in the drawing, you could choose any one of those books - courtesy of Bookshop Talk* - or a book written by one of the authors we've interviewed: Sara Zarr, Leila Sales, James Dashner, Guy Gavriel Kay, Claudia Gabel, or Gail Carriger.

You could also pick any book that's reviewed between now and Feb 1st. The winners will be announced February 2nd!
Good luck!

*If you live outside the Continental U.S., we will send you an Amazon Gift Card for $15.

PEGASUS by Robin McKinley, 2010

Because of a thousand-year-old alliance between humans and pagasi, Princess Sylviianel is ceremonially bound to Ebon, her own Pegasus, on her twelfth birthday. The two species coexist peacefully, despite the language barriers separating them. Humans and pegasi both rely on specially-trained Speaker magicians as the only means of real communication. But its different for Sylvi and Ebon. They can understand each other. They quickly grow close-so close that their bond becomes a threat to the status quo-and possibly to the future safety of their two nations. New York Times bestselling Robin McKinley weaves an unforgettable tale of unbreakable friendship, mythical creatures and courtly drama destined to become a classic. (Amazon product description)

Review by Jessica Day George, Young Adult and Middle Grade Author

A new Robin McKinley book is always a rare treat, and this is a treat with extra chocolate on top. Her writing is so elegant, it brought me to tears in places. This book is as delicate and beautiful as the brush of a pegasus wing across your face.

She made me feel the brush of the pegasi's feathers, the warms of their silky hides. I could smell the grass and the flowers, hear sound of hooves and the crash of swords in the practice yard.

I became so immersed in this book that all day since I've finished it I keep reaching for it, remembering that I'm done, and feeling disappointed. My only consolation is that it's actually just the first of a two book series (or really, just a long book that was broken into two parts), and soon I will be able to go back to the land of Sylvi, youngest daughter of the gentle king and fierce queen, and Ebon, her pegasus.

Market: YA Fantasy
Language: none
Sensuality: none
Violence: mild
Mature Themes: Conspiracy, bad magic, keeping secrets from your parents.

Book formats:
Pegasus (hardcover)
Pegasus (e-book)

To learn more about the author, visit: Robin McKinley