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.

May 31, 2012

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor, 2011

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war. (Goodreads)

Review by Kim Harris Thacker, writer, mommy, and Bookshop Talk Host

I’m not normally a fan of supernatural/paranormal romance, but I am a big fan of Laini Taylor.  So I dove into DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE expecting to enjoy it in spite of the first two sentences, which are as follows:

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love.  It did not end well.

I’ll admit, I cringed just a bit when I first read that, but only because I had just finished walking the aisles of my local chain bookstore, which I hadn’t visited in a good while, and had been appalled by the plethora of brawny, winged men (most of whom appeared to favor tight jeans on their lower halves), heavily-tattooed girls (with red irises), and melodramatic, one-word titles (think angst, and you’ll come up with several dozen of the very titles I saw) in the young adult section.

But I quickly slapped the cringe from my face and kept reading, because I knew from past experience that what sounded like a common story line would end up being, in the hands of a master wordsmith like Laini Taylor, something utterly unique. 

Laini is known for taking popular ideas and injecting them with what I fondly think of as “literary steroids.”  Her collection of short stories, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, was touted as tales of supernatural love, written “in the style of Stephenie Meyer.”  If you read and enjoyed the Twilight series, you’ll probably love LIPS TOUCH: THREE TIMES.  And if you didn’t enjoy the Twilight books, take heart:  I didn’t either—but I thought LIPS TOUCH rocked.  Folks, it was a finalist for the National Book Award.  None of the Twilight books can boast of that.

But let’s get back to the review at hand, shall we? 

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE is another example of Laini’s terrific writing.  It merited this Kirkus (starred) review:  “[A]long with writing in such heightened language that even casual banter often comes off as wildly funny, the author crafts a fierce heroine with bright-blue hair, tattoos, martial skills, a growing attachment to a preternaturally hunky but not entirely sane warrior and, in episodes to come, an army of killer angels to confront. Rarely—perhaps not since the author's own Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer (2007)—does a series kick off so deliciously.” 

I think the word, delicious, perfectly describes DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE.  And what, you ask, is so “delicious” about this book?  Well, in my opinion, it’s the setting (or settings, rather).  Much like J.K. Rowling, Laini can take what, in the hands of a less-skilled writer, might be presented as a simple setting and imbue it with such vivid imagery that the setting lives in the reader’s mind.  Here’s an example of a great, descriptive paragraph from the early pages of DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE:

The streets of Prague were a fantasia scarcely touched by the twenty-first century—or the twentieth or nineteenth, for that matter.  It was a city of alchemists and dreamers, its medieval cobbles once trod by golems, mystics, invading armies.  Tall houses glowed goldenrod and carmine and eggshell blue, embellished with Rococo plasterwork and capped in roofs of uniform red.  Baroque cupolas were the soft green of antique copper, and Gothic steeples stood ready to impale fallen angels.  The wind carried the memory of magic, revolution, violins, and the cobbled lanes meandered like creeks.  Thugs wore Mozart wigs and pushed chamber music on street corners, and marionettes hung in windows, making the whole city seem like a theater with unseen puppeteers crouched behind velvet.

Thanks to Laini, Prague is now on my list of Cities I Must Visit Really Soon.  Eretz and Loramendi—the angels’ and chimaeras’ strongholds in DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE aren’t on my list, but that’s only because I’m not sure how I’d get there.  I don’t know any chimaera or angels or fallen angels who can lead me to the hidden slit in the sky, and I’m certain Delta doesn’t fly to places with two moons.

This, my friends, is a complex story.  It’s so complex, in fact, that it could very well have a prequel...but that would ruin the mystery of Karou’s identity (Karou is the main character).  I’m fond of books featuring characters that are seeking to understand themselves—or get to know themselves at all.  While Karou is mysterious, and I certainly didn’t feel like I knew her well until the end of the book, she is worth getting to know.  Her story is amazing, but she is amazing, herself.  Laini gave her such a loving personality (though she is also butt-kickingly fierce and quite hilarious to boot), I couldn’t help but want to stick with her through her trials, which were many, extraordinary, and super daunting.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy and compelling romantic adventure stories.

Market:  Young Adult, Fantasy
Language:  mild
Sensuality:  moderate (There are some wonderful kisses, and there are a couple of referenced sex scenes that happen “off stage.”  Other references to sex are present, but are glossed over—no details.)
Violence:  moderate to explicit (The injuries/deaths happen to non-human creatures.  While violence toward these creatures may not bother some readers, it may bother others).
Mature Themes:  War, magic, possession of souls, debt, discovery of identity, prejudice...the list goes on.  This is a richly wrought book that will leave you with loads to think about.

Book formats:

May 28, 2012

THE MAGICIAN KING by Lev Grossman, 2011

The Magicians was praised as a triumph by readers and critics of both mainstream and fantasy literature. Now Grossman takes us back to Fillory, where the Brakebills graduates have fled the sorrows of the mundane world, only to face terrifying new challenges. Quentin and his friends are now the kings and queens of Fillory, but the days and nights of royal luxury are starting to pall. After a morning hunt takes a sinister turn, Quentin and his old friend Julia charter a magical sailing ship and set out on an errand to the wild outer reaches of their kingdom. Their pleasure cruise becomes an adventure when the two are unceremoniously dumped back into the last place Quentin ever wants to see: his parent's house in Chesterton, Massachusetts. And only the black, twisted magic that Julia learned on the streets can save them. (Goodreads)

Review by Laura Madsen

Like (presumably) every other fantasy geek I’ve thought, Wouldn’t it be cool to do magic? To pop into Hogsmeade for a butterbeer with Professor Dumbledore? Or maybe use magical cures when my regular Western medicine fails?

But think about. Like really think about it. Would you want the surly teenager with his underpants showing because his pants are down below his hips to be chucking magic missiles at the substitute teacher? Or the creepy old guy who mows his lawn naked to be scrying in a pool of used motor oil? Or the entitled chick Facebooking on her smart phone to be whipping up a pox potion?

Well, er, not really. But that’s the world that Lev Grossman has created. If you’re smart enough and dedicated enough, and possibly do enough drugs, you too can do magic.

Like Grossman’s previous novel, THE MAGICIANS, this urban fantasy is not for kids. And it’s not a book to breeze through in an evening; you’ve got to be paying attention. His writing is intricate (“I was perfectly happy where I was, deliquescing, atom by atom, amid a riot of luxury”) and full of references to literature, math and physics (I’ve got a doctorate degree and still didn’t understand many of them). In one chapter, there are references across the board from Italian carabinieri to Candy Land to Brythonic languages to Arthurian legend to Google Street View to Beatrix Potter to “The Wind in the Willows” to Jim Morrison to Scarlett’s Tara to Christopher Robin. Confused yet?

The prose is by turns colloquial and elegant. One great passage:

“But nuclear winter was coming, and magic wasn’t keeping her warm. It was getting cold, tainted snow was falling, and the earth was getting thirsty again, thirsty for balm. The black dog was hunting. Julia was feeling it again, the blackness.

“Or really blackness would have been a relief, blackness would have been a field trip compared with where she was headed, which was despair. That stuff had no color. She wished it were made of blackness, velvety soft blackness, that she could curl up and fall asleep in, but it was so much worse than that. Think of it as the difference between zero and the empty set, the set that contains nothing, not even zero. These but the trappings and the suits of woe. All these seem to laugh,/Compared with me, who am their epitaph.”

Highly recommended.

Market: Adult fiction (fantasy/ urban fantasy)
Language: explicit
Sensuality: explicit
Violence: explicit
Mature themes: death, betrayal, sexuality, magical violence, drug and alcohol abuse

Book formats:

May 25, 2012

COLD SASSY TREE by Olive Ann Burns, 1983

On July 5, 1906, scandal breaks in the small town of Cold Sassy, Georgia, when the proprietor of the general store, E. Rucker Blakeslee, elopes with Miss Love Simpson. He is barely three weeks a widower, and she is only half his age and a Yankee to boot. As their marriage inspires a whirlwind of local gossip, fourteen-year-old Will Tweedy suddenly finds himself eyewitness to a family scandal, and that’s where his adventures begin. Cold Sassy Tree is the undeniably entertaining and extraordinarily moving account of small-town Southern life in a bygone era. Brimming with characters who are wise and loony, unimpeachably pious and deliciously irreverent, Olive Ann Burns’s classic bestseller is a timeless, funny, and resplendent treasure. (Goodreads)

Reviewed by Kammy T

Cold Sassy is a fictional town in Georgia, and this book takes place in 1906. Will Tweedy is 14, and tells the story about his family and the events that changed them that summer. I enjoyed his voice and the southern accents, "ast," " 'tweren't," "swannee." Olive Ann Burns uses her characters' voices to create the whole feel of the town.

In the second page of the book Will Tweedy says, "I and my little redheaded sister, Mary Toy, always followed him down the hall and he usually gave us each a stick of penny candy."    I liked him right away. Just a few pages later, when describing Miss Love Simpson he says "I had always admired Miss Love, with all that wavy brown hair piled atop her head, and that smiley, freckledy face and those friendly gray-blue eyes. She was a merry person, like Grandpa." Wouldn't you love to be described as a "merry person"?

There is a sweet story that his Grandma would tell about his Grandpa, "When he come back to Cold Sassy after the War, he was the handsomest man you ever seen and I was a old maid. Twenty-one year old and never had a beau in my life. I was fixin' to go to church one Sunday morning when this good-lookin' feller, he tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'Ain't you Miss Mattie Lou Toy? You don't need no sermon today. Stay out here and le's talk.'...So we stayed in the churchyard, like a re'lar courtin' couple, and talked one another's ears off.....Fore that day was over Mr. Blakeslee said he was a-go'n marry me..." Cold Sassy Tree is filled with these little heart-warming moments.

I also loved the sweet wisdom that Grandpa shares in nuggets throughout the book. Like, "Livin' is like pourin' water out of a tumbler into a dang Coca-Cola bottle. If'n you skeered you cain't do it, you cain't. If'n you say to youreself, 'By dang, I can do it!' then, by dang, you won't slosh a drop." Later after Will escapes a close run in with a train he is asking his Grandpa if it was God's will that he survived. His Grandpa said, "What God give you was a brain. Hit's His will for you to use it--p'tickler when a train's comin'." Grandpa's religious explanations were especially meaningful. He offers a "family prayer" right after Will's accident that is so great.

Cold Sassy is a small town, the kind that makes "small town" an adjective. I loved how when tragedy strikes, they gather together, bring food, and take care of each other. Of course, the other side of the coin was how when anything happens, there is someone there to judge, report and repeat what had happened. There are so many examples of this in the story.

I loved the family dynamics, and really how no one is perfect. Will makes some choices that drive you crazy, and Aunt Loma is such a pill, but by the end they have really endeared themselves to you. At least they did to me. I loved the Grandpa's teachings and his critiques of preachin' and where he thought the pastors were getting it wrong.

Market: Young Adult, but appealing to adults also
Language:  Mild
Sensuality: None, but two married people do converse and flirt in bed
Violence: Mild, Will refers to getting a whipping
Mature Themes: Death, re-marriage, poverty, but all addressed age appropriately

Book formats:

May 22, 2012

IZZY, WILLY-NILLY, by Cynthia Voigt, 1986

Izzy's never been one to complain. Izzy's the nice girl, from a family that believes good manners and a stiff upper lip are key to facing any situation. Even after a car accident leaves her disabled, she's determined not to show how much she's hurting. It takes Rosamunde, a girl who seems to care nothing about good manners, to forcibly disrupt Izzy's life and help her face her changed existence. (Goodreads)

Review by Kim Harris Thacker, writer, mommy, and Bookshop Talk Host

My mother-in-law bought this book for me at a used-book store, and I’ll admit that I was skeptical. I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but when I saw a picture of a girl with feathery bangs and a perm wearing a pink mock-turtleneck sweater and sitting in a pensive pose in soft glamour lighting, I thought, “This is going to be too 80s for me.”

Though there were plenty of “terrifics!” and other words that seemed a bit dated, the story is anything but dated. In fact, if I were a drivers’ education teacher, I would require my students to read this.

The characters in this book were so believable, from Izzy, the sudden amputee, to her new friend, the slightly-dumpy-but-wonderfully-supportive Rosamunde. I find it ironic that I almost didn’t read this book because of its cover. One of the themes of this book is to get to know a person before you judge them. While there were plenty of opportunities to get frustrated with Izzy or her parents or siblings or “friends,” I also believed the characters would act the way they did, because of Voigt’s strong writing.

IZZY, WILLY-NILLY isn’t what I would call an action-packed book, but I literally couldn’t put it down. The final scene is completely satisfying, even though it is no epic battle scene. I closed the book with a big grin on my face. I very much recommend this book!

Market: Young Adult, realistic fiction
Language: Mild
Sensuality: Mild (more implied than anything)
Violence: Moderate (There is a car accident, and while it isn’t described outright, its repercussions are the theme of the book.)
Mature Themes: drunk driving; permanent injuries resulting from riding in a car with a person who is driving under the influence of alcohol; loss of friendships; developing new friendships outside prior comfort zones...I could really go on and on, because this is very thought-provoking book

Book formats:

May 19, 2012

FALLING TOGETHER by Marisa de los Santos, 2011

What would you do if an old friend needed you, but it meant turning your new life upside down? Pen, Will, and Cat met during the first week of their first year of college and struck up a remarkable friendship, one that sustained them and shaped them for years - until it ended abruptly, and they went their separate ways. Now, six years later, Pen is the single mother of a five-year-old girl, living with her older brother in Philadelphia and trying to make peace with the sudden death of her father. Even though she feels deserted by Will and Cat, she has never stopped wanting them back in her life. (Goodreads)

Reviewed by Kammy T

I loved the first two novels Marisa de los Santos wrote, Love Walked In and Belong to Me.  I was not disappointed in her third. This is the kind of book that I love from the beginning and thought all day about when I could read it again.

This is the story of Pen (Penelope) who is raising her 5 year old daughter, living with her brother Jamie and still grieving from her father's death. In college she had two best friends, Cat and Will, with whom she was inseparable. At some point after graduating, the three split up. It's been 6 years, and the details of the events leading up to that moment are sprinkled through out the story. Pen and Will receive a cryptic e-mail from Cat, which leads to them meeting up, and ultimately working through the details of their years spent apart.

Just as in her other novels, de los Santos captures the emotional connection between friends and family.  The longing that Pen feels for the people she has lost felt real and relatable.  I loved the poignant reflections about losing her father.

At the start Pen reflects, "Since you left there's been a you-shaped space beside me, all the time. It never goes away."

I also love this perspective on harboring hate. "She could imagine sustaining certain emotions at that pitch for that long--love absolutely, grief probably, guilt maybe--but hatred was exhausting and gave so little back. Once, after her father died, Pen had tried to keep hatred alive, but it kept losing its firm shape, kept smudging and blurring until it became an immense black, impossible heavy sadness that lived inside her body and made it hard to move, so she had given it up."

There are so many great realizations and conversations I enjoyed reading and thinking about in this book. There's a moment when Pen realized a guy may not be as big a jerk as he seemed at first, and it is written so well.

"It was simply this: for the first time, she understood that it was possible to form an opinion about a person, an opinion based on solid evidence and a vast quantity of justified self-righteous anger, to even have this opinion reinforced by trusted colleagues, and to be, at least partially, wrong."

The book takes Pen and Will on a journey, literally and figuratively, to find Cat. I think the story is interesting and well developed. But really it's the writing more than the story that I fall in love with when I read Marisa de los Santos.

"'I'm beside myself with happiness,' said Pen. "And gratitude. And relief. I just came home from work and saw her sitting there with Augusta, and it took my breath away. It was like someone fixed my television.'.....the fact was that he knew immeadiately what Pen meant. 'Colors got brighter,' said Will. 'Edges got sharper.' 
'Everything gleamed,' Pen said. 'Like sometimes happens after it rains.'"

Just like her first two books, I felt like the prevailing theme is how love, in all its forms, is what is most important.

Market: Adult
Language: There are a lot of obscenities.  One character in particular has a temper and not a lot of verbal self-control.

Sensuality: Different scenarios of adults engaging in sex come up in conversations

Violence: A fist fight or two
Mature Themes: Death, infidelity, love, hate

Book formats:

May 16, 2012

PLAIN KATE by Erin Bow, 2010

Plain Kate lives in a world of superstitions and curses, where a song can heal a wound and a shadow can work deep magic. As the wood-carver's daughter, Kate held a carving knife before a spoon, and her wooden talismans are so fine that some even call her “witch-blade”: a dangerous nickname in a country where witches are hunted and burned in the square. For Kate and her village have fallen on hard times. Kate’s father has died, leaving her alone in the world. And a mysterious fog now covers the countryside, ruining crops and spreading fear of hunger and sickness. The townspeople are looking for someone to blame, and their eyes have fallen on Kate. (Goodreads)

Review by Kim Harris Thacker, writer, mommy, and Bookshop Talk Host

I really love books about witches (wrongly-accused or guilty, historical or fantasy), so I knew it was very likely that I would enjoy Erin Bow’s debut novel, PLAIN KATE.

Plain Kate Carver is smart, brave, loyal, and hard working. I realize this makes her sound like a boy scout, but I guarantee she could kick the bottom of any boy scout with whom I’m acquainted. She’s one tough cookie. And her cat is pretty great, too. In fact, Taggle might be my favorite character in PLAIN KATE. He is an absolute princeling. Very haughty. But he is also heroic friend—I’d never risk calling him a “pet.” I particularly loved the dialogue between Kate and Taggle. That’s right, Taggle talks! I thought it was very smart of Bow to give Kate a talking companion, because not only is Taggle’s presence essential to the plot, Kate is a very lonely, quiet girl, and it would be difficult to get to know her without witnessing her conversations with Taggle (the story is told in a third person point of view).

I used to read author’s bios in the books I picked up before I ever read their book, but I gave that up when I realized some bios are written specifically for one book—I found that plot elements were being given away in the bios! So when I finally read Erin Bow’s bio on the back jacket flap of PLAIN KATE and discovered she has written some poetry, I was not at all surprised. The writing in this book is so musical and is rich with unique imagery. It’s really some of the loveliest writing I’ve seen in fantasy YA.

Without giving anything in the plot away, I also have to say that the villain in this story was amazing. Utterly terrifying, yet my heart broke for him even while he was committing his villainy. Plain Kate’s culture and society also takes on a villainous role in the novel, which I felt gave the book more of a realistic feel than a novel where one character simply opposes another.

If you’re a magic-lover or are fond of witchiness, like me, I hope you’ll give PLAIN KATE a try! I would especially recommend it to individuals who read and enjoyed Tamora Pierce’s novels.

Also, doesn’t this book have a gorgeous cover? I love it!
Market: young adult, fantasy
Language: none
Sensuality: none
Violence: moderate (nothing is super graphic—but there are lots of deaths and there is some violence)
Mature Themes: superstition, witchcraft, curses, prejudice, death

Book formats:

May 13, 2012


Reviewed by Laura Madsen, mother, veterinarian and writer

The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children (a division of the American Library Association) for excellence in children’s book illustrating. David Wiesner has won the Caldecott Medal three times, for FLOTSAM, TUESDAY, and THE THREE PIGS. In addition, his SECTOR 7 and FREE FALL are Caldecott Honor books. The awards are well-deserved, as his illustrations are magnificent.

In FREE FALL (1988) we see a boy’s dreams as they morph from scene to scene, inspired by objects in his bedroom. The green plaid pattern of his blanket turns into a landscape of fields and then into a chess board. Trees shift into book pages and mountains turn into croissants. The most beautiful page has leaves changing into swans.

TUESDAY (1991) shows the mysterious events of a certain Tuesday evening. (The front cover bears this disclaimer: “The events recorded here are verified by an undisclosed source to have happened somewhere, U.S.A., on Tuesday. All those in doubt are reminded that there is always another Tuesday.”) A bunch of bullfrogs are delighted when their lily pads suddenly levitate at sundown. The battalion of frogs on lily pads flies over the countryside to town, where the happy frogs surprise the townsfolk, annoy the dogs, and appropriate a sleeping old lady’s television remote control.

SECTOR 7 (1999) follows a school class on a field trip to the Empire State Building. A curious cloud befriends one of the boys and takes him to see the Sector 7 Cloud Dispatch Center, where clouds receive assignments. The clouds are bored by their assigned puffy roundish shapes, so the boy draws new blueprints for them: lion fish, puffer fish, octopus and jellyfish. New Yorkers are delighted by the new fishy-shaped clouds.

THE THREE PIGS (2001) re-imagines the classic “Three Little Pigs” story. The clever pigs escape from the two-dimensional confines of their storybook and go exploring through the three-dimensional world. They pop into other stories, befriending the cat with his fiddle and a dragon guarding a golden rose. Eventually, they return with their new friends to the third pig’s brick house, where they all live happily ever after.

My favorite is FLOTSAM (2006), which is simply extraordinary. A boy hunting for treasures on the beach finds a washed-up underwater camera. He has the film developed and is astonished by the resultant photos: a clockwork fish schooling with its biological cousins; bemused seahorses being photographed by miniscule green aliens; verdant islands clinging to the backs of giant starfish; and an octopus family relaxing on sunken couches. There are also photos of other children—the previous finders of the wondrous camera. The boy reloads the camera and returns it to the sea. The reader sees the camera floating through more magical scenes and eventually washing up on a distant beach into the hands of another child.

David Wiesner’s illustrations are intricately detailed and whimsical, appealing to adults as well as children. Because the stories are largely wordless, even very young kids can “read” them.

See David Wiesner’s website here:

May 11, 2012

Gab Bag: Picky, Picky

By Kim Harris Thacker: Writer, Mommy, and Bookshop Talk Host

I’m a list girl. I keep lists of the things I need to buy, the things I need to sell, the things I need to do, and the things I get done. You name it, I list it. My favorite list is a lovely, tidy little thing I call The Queue. Isn’t “queue” a great word? I have a British friend who uses it, and I think it’s posh. But back to The Queue itself. Here’s what’s on this list currently:

Inside Out & Back Again, by Thanhha Lai
The Thirteenth Child, by Patricia C. Wrede
Lark Rise to Candleford, by Flora Thompson
Dogsbody, by Diana Wynne Jones

There’s more on it, but that’ll do for now. As you’ve guessed, The Queue is a book list!  My Books to Read list, to be precise. And how do I decide what books make it onto The Queue and therefore into my hands and (hopefully) my heart? That, my friends, is the topic of this Gab-Bag Post.

Because I’m a list-y sort of gal (not to be confused with the “listing”—as in “listing ship”—or “listless”—as in “All the gentlemen have gone riding and what’s a young lady to do in this blasted excuse my French weather”—kind of gal), I have three rules that I’ve created for myself when it comes to picking the books that end up on The Queue:

1) Always have at least one recommended book on the list. For my purposes, I consider a recommended book to be one that I learned about from a friend, a professional (writer/editor/agent/teacher/librarian), or someone on a book-loving website/blog (such as this lovely blog!)

2) Always have at least one award-winning book or book by an award-winning author on the list. I’m a writer, and I believe very strongly that if I fill my head with excellent books, I’ll be less likely to write rubbish (I hope, I hope, I hope!). But this rule is great for non-writers too, because award-winning books win awards for very good reasons, including the fact that loads of people love them. I often choose Newbery Award-winning books for my queue, a list of which you can find here.

3) Always have at least one recently published book on the list. For me, recently published means published within the last two years. I like books like these on The Queue because I’m a writer and I want to know what kind of stuff is being written and sold nowadays.

Sometimes I have books on The Queue that don’t fit any of these requirements, but are just books that caught my eye at the library, or are books that I read once, a long time ago (or not so long ago), that I want to read again. But generally, I stick to these guidelines.

I have friends who read their way through lists of the purported best books of all time. I have friends who read only Dickens books one year, then Crichton books the next, and on and on with various authors. I have friends who join book clubs and read only the book selection of the month. I have friends who read Oprah book picks or only books that are mentioned on NPR or Ellen or Good Morning America. I have friends who make themselves read contemporary realistic adult fiction, even though they prefer middle grade fantasy. We all have reasons for picking what we pick to read, and now I want to know yours!

How do you choose the books you’re going to read? Do you have a list a mile long, or do you keep the physical volumes in a stack beside your bed? Sound off in the comments below!