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.

March 27, 2014

AWAKEN by Meg Cabot, 2013

Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera knew by accepting the love of John Hayden, she'd be forced to live forever in the one place she's always dreaded most: the Underworld. The sacrifice seemed worth it, though, because it meant she could be with the boy she loves. But now her happiness -- and safety -- are threatened, all because the Furies have discovered that John has broken one of their strictest rules: He revived a human soul. If the balance between life and death isn't fixed, both the Underworld and Pierce's home back on earth will be wiped away. But there's only one way to restore order. Someone has to die. (Amazon)

Reviewed by Ems - who cannot read enough books

I've been a fan of this series from the beginning. I loved Pierce's sassiness and John's earnest love. I loved them together and I even liked them apart. Together is better, of course, but this was a case where they didn't annoy me when they weren't together.

The final book in the series, AWAKEN, was exactly what I needed to finish it up. Full of action, mortal peril, plenty of snark, sweet loveyness, and some fun new characters. I don't always approve of adding new characters to the last book, but in this case, they work. They help advance the story instead of feeling like they're just there as an afterthought or a nod to old Aunt Martha who was once promised a character named after her.

There were times in this book when I wasn't sure if things were actually going to work out. I mean, I knew deep down that they would, because hello, who wants a sad ending to their love story?! I just wasn't sure how on earth it was going to work out. I was pleased with the resolution and how it all turned out.

Overall, a great series and one that I'll come back to. I do love my mythology!

Market: Young Adult
Language: Moderate
Sensuality: Moderate
Violence: Moderate
Mature Themes: death

March 22, 2014

THE GREEN AND THE GRAY by Timothy Zahn, 2004

For seventy-five years the Greens and the Grays have lived quietly among us in the shadows of New York, alien refugees from a war of attrition that utterly destroyed the rest of their kind. Passing as everyday citizens, yet with powers and technologies unknown to humanity, each group has long believed that they are all that remain of their old world and their terrible conflict. But now, to their mutual surprise, they have found each other, and the old hatreds and fears have once again risen to the surface. And each side is preparing again for war. (Amazon)

Reviewed by Emily, avid bibliophile

THE GREEN AND THE GRAY is one of my favorite books by Timothy Zahn. Set in New York City, sometime after September 11, it begins with a couple walking home from a play. They're arguing about it when a man accosts them and leads them to a dark alley, where they find, to their total surprise, a girl, who the man insists they protect.

Melantha Green is terribly afraid - and her fears turn out to be justified. Her family is willing to sacrifice her for peace with their enemies, the Grays.

Roger and Caroline Whittier are both unsettled by the strange behavior of the girl they've brought home. First Melantha vanishes for one night, then her pursuers seemingly fly through the air. The mysteries grow deeper and more complex with every turn, and the young couple struggles to understand the alien culture that they have been thrust into.

Meanwhile, relations between the Greens and the Grays worsen, and war threatens to break out in the streets of New York. And the only ones who can stop it are in hiding.

This is a wonderful story, with plenty of mystery to go around - a good read for those who like complex tales with plenty of action and adventure. Also, I really liked the surprising truth about the origins of the Green and the Gray.

Market: Adult Fiction
Language: Moderate
Sensuality: Mild/None
Violence: Moderate
Mature Themes: Revenge, forgiveness

March 17, 2014


In his lifetime Roald Dahl pushed children’s literature into uncharted territory, and today his popularity around the globe continues to grow, with millions of his books sold every year.  Granted unprecedented access to the Dahl estate’s extraordinary archives Donald Sturrock draws on a wealth of previously unpublished materials that informed Dahl’s writing and his life. Storyteller is an intimate portrait of an intensely private man hindered by physical pain and haunted by family tragedy, and a timely reexamination of Dahl’s long and complex literary career. (Amazon)

Reviewed by Julie, Children's lit enthusiast and pop culture geek

Most readers have had some exposure to the works of Roald Dahl. Whether you wore out your dog-eared copy of Matilda, covered your eyes during the scariest scenes in The Witches, or munched on those colorful Nerds candies, you have Mr. Dahl to thank.

If you want to learn more about the legendary Dahl, Donald Sturrock's comprehensive biography is the one to read.  At nearly 600 pages, this authorized tome incorporates letters, interviews, and even the contents of Dahl's writing drawers from his hut at the Gipsy House. Sturrock delves into Dahl's childhood, his past as a wartime spy and his relationships, including his marriage to Academy-Award-winning actress Patricia Neal.  If the "authorized" label gives you pause, give Sturrock, who knew Dahl during the author's lifetime, the benefit of the doubt.  Sturrock clearly admires Dahl and his work; however, this admiration does not stop Sturrock from presenting the negative aspects of Dahl's personality. Ultimately, anecdotes and observations present Dahl as a complex man: a gruff, difficult, unsentimental man of enormous talent, who also possessed the imagination and positivity of a child.  And perhaps--a man who saw his own life story as fluid and subjective.

The most interesting parts to me, as a lover of children's literature, placed Dahl's works within an autobiographical context.  The biography details Dahl's tragedies, including deaths (of his mother and daughter, especially), his wife's stroke, and his son's accident. Sturrock's insight into these events' effect on Dahl's stories is particularly interesting--and creates more sympathy for this complex man.  Dahl's interactions with children as detailed in the text also
build sympathy.  (One highlight is Dahl's letter to a young Keith Olbermann.  Don't miss it!)

If you expect STORYTELLER to fulfill a childhood expectation of Dahl as Mr. Rogers with a typewriter, you are misguided.  However, adults will enjoy this examination of Dahl's fascinating life.  Just keep in mind that anyone who could create Willy Wonka, the Trunchbull, and the BFG could not be without just a hint of darkness mingling with that magic.

Market: Biography, Adult nonfiction
Violence: None
Language: Moderate--the guy had a pretty foul mouth
Sensuality: Nothing too explicit, but some sexual slang and references to Dahl's personal life, the sexual content in his adult works, etc.
Adult Themes: Family tragedy, war, sexuality

March 12, 2014

PRINCESS FURBALL by Charlotte Huck, 1994

Once upon a time a cruel King decided to betroth his motherless daughter to an Ogre in exchange for fifty wagons filled with silver. When the Princess learns what her father has done, she is horrified. But she is as clever as she is beautiful. Quickly, the Princess devises a plan to escape and, relying on her own spunk and good sense, ultimately marries the man she chooses for herself. (Amazon)

Reviewed by Julie, Children's lit enthusiast and pop culture geek

When a young princess learns she is to be married off to an ogre, she demands four things before she agrees to the union: a gown as golden as the sun, one as silver as the moon, a third as glittering as the stars, and a coat made from the skins of 1000 animals.  When her father meets these demands, the princess runs off to make her own fate.

I recently found a copy of PRINCESS FURBALL among my old books.  Its cover was creased and soft, its pages hopelessly yellow and falling apart.  It had definitely seen better days, but it was like discovering an old friend.  This "Cinderella" variation was probably the first fairy tale retelling I loved, but it certainly wouldn't be the last!

There are many factors that contribute to this enchanting story: a princess who yearns to make her own happy ending, the glorious watercolor illustrations that give the story a medieval feel, and the tiny details that make the story a delight to enjoy over and over. Children will love the pictures, and, if they're anything like me, might need a couple of spare copies.

Market: Children's picture book
Violence: none
Language: none
Sensuality: Happily-ever-after love, of course!
Adult Themes: Arranged marriage, royalty, ogres (that counts, doesn't it?)

March 7, 2014

JANITORS by Tyler Whitesides, 2011

Have you ever fallen asleep during math class? Are you easily distracted while listening to your English teacher? Do you find yourself completely uninterested in geography? Well, it may not be your fault. The janitors at Welcher Elementary know a secret, and it s draining all the smarts out of the kids. Twelve year-old Spencer Zumbro, with the help of his classmate Daisy Gullible Gates, must fight with and against a secret, janitorial society that wields wizard-like powers. Who can Spencer and Daisy trust and how will they protect their school and possibly the world? (Amazon)

Reviewed by Valette M.

From the very beginning JANITORS had me hooked. It was easy to identify with rather germaphobic Spencer Zumbro, and I loved 'Gullible Gates'. I smiled so hard at their quirks, and laughed every time a predicament came up because of these. Tyler Whitesides established them as solid characters early on. Later, the Janitors, Marv, Walter, and workers of BEM, were introduced, and their characters were lovable if rather stereotypical. I thought Spencer's mom was so cool, and I liked how towards the end of the book she was involved. This is unusual for a junior fantasy book, but I found it to my taste.

I loved his take on school. Far from being a place of study, school is now a battle-zone where every child must fight for survival. Tyler Whitesides' idea of creatures living in classrooms, eating brainwaves, and keeping kids from learning was fun because it added a crazy tweak on everyday scenarios. His magic system and plot points didn't seem to flow as well as they should, but for a debut book it was surprisingly well done.

The narration was charming. Simple actions were phrased in such a way that I broke up laughing at several parts. This book has strong under-themes of standing up for what you believe in and stresses that being a good person is the greatest victory one can have.

Market: Junior Fiction
Language: None
Sensuality: None
Violence: None
Mature Themes: None

March 4, 2014


CONGRATULATIONS TO "STEPHANIE"!! You are the winner of our ASCENDANCE TRILOGY giveaway!!

Please contact Amy at with your mailing address :)

Many thanks to everyone who participated in our giveaway! There are many more in the future, so stick around!