Archive | June, 2012

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N!

That’s right, folks! Dear ol’ Shelver is going on vacaaaaaaation!

For one glorious week, I’m leaving behind work, schedules, alarm clocks, and (hopefully) nasty weather to chill by a hotel pool and sleep in as late as I want. Glory of glories!

And at the very end of that week, what will I do to cap it all off?
I’m gonna go ride some of the biggest, baddest roller coasters this country has to offer at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Ohio. Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeah, buddy!

Cedar Point, Shelver’s playground

But don’t worry, this little excursion won’t affect the blog too much. Well, maybe a little. I’ll have what I can of my blog posts set up in advance, so you all won’t have to worry about Bookshelvers Anonymous suddenly falling silent for a week. And I’ll still be around in the comments section and on Twitter, just not as much as normal. A girl’s gotta get in her sunbathing time, after all.

But here’s the good news for you (and for me!). When I’m not working, I read a crazy amount. Like, book-binge-every-day level. I’ll also be away from my store, which will free me of the compulsion to pick the NEWEST and SHINIEST book every week. Don’t get me wrong, I love new and shiny books (hi, Shadow and Bones, you pretty little thing), but there are so many great relatively older books out there that I haven’t read yet.
Well, this week I plan to put a moderate dent into my to-read list. Here are the books I’m planning to bring with me:
Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.
1. Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson (though I hope to have this finished before I leave, so it may not come with me after all) – A retelling of Peter Pan as told by Tinker Bell that focuses on Tiger Lily.

2. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen – My first Sarah Dessen, following the suggestion of Indigo Teen Blog and Melanie Fishbane.

3. Girl, Stolen by April Henry – Contemporary book about an accidentally kidnapped blind girl that I will hopefully like much better than Lucy Christopher’s Stolen.

4. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – Is it dystopian? Is it sci-fi? I’m not really sure. But I DO know that people won’t shut up about it, so here we go!

5. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson – A fantasy about a princess in a secret marriage. This book was recommended to me by a member of Sounis (I forget whom), so I know it’ll be good.

*6. The Lion Hunter by Elizabeth Wein (whom I love) – Loved Code Name Verity, and my library listed this as the first book… but Goodreads lists it as the FOURTH in the series. Hmmm… I just asked Ms. Wein on Twitter what to do. My library is stupid, apparently, so Lion Hunter will NOT be joining me. It shall wait patiently on my shelf until I find the other book.

7. Steel by Carrie Vaughn – Time-travel book! We have a time-travel book! Girl picks up an old rapier and gets transported in time to the deck of a freaking PIRATE SHIP! Yay!

8. I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga – A contemporary thriller/mystery about a serial killer’s son who’s helping the police catch a serial killer, though he might actually be the serial killer himself. Twisty. I can’t wait.

9. Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson – a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I love retellings!

10. Heist Society by Ally Carter- I’m a big fan of the Gallagher Girls books, so I’m hoping I’ll adore Heist Society as well… especially since it’s on sale for four bucks at my store, so I can snatch it up if I like it.

11. Dead To You by Lisa McMann – Another contemporary abduction story, but this one is about a boy who is returned to his family eleven years later.

12. Aurelia by Anne Osterlund – Another fantasy about a princess, but this one doesn’t want to marry the king. Instead, she falls in love with the royal spy. Oooooh.

NOT PICTURED (library says they’re on their way, so hopefully they’ll arrive before I leave):


13. Miracle by Elizabeth Scott – Contemporary book about a girl who survives a plane crash that kills her whole family. Did I mention we’re flying to Ohio? Okay, so I’m not the brightest.

14. A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont – A retelling of Jane Eyre that’s been on my wishlist for ages and that I’m soooo looking forward to reading.

~~*~~

Okay, so I may not bring ALL of these books with me, but I’m going to try. The silly airline people don’t put a weight restriction on carry-on luggage. The fools. And I may not be able to actually finish ALL of these by the end of my vacation, but I’m going to try that, too. As Maria Von Trapp sings, “I have confidence in meeeeeee.”

Darn right I do.

So there you have it, all my plans laid bare before you. What do you think of my reading packing list? Have you read any of the book I’m bringing? What did you think? (I need help prioritizing!) What books would YOU take on vacation?

Oh, and please be gentle with me when I come back. I’ll likely be fighting off a major adrenaline hangover from all those coasters.
6

Wishlist Wednesday #6

Totally the property of Pen to Paper.

My to-read count is currently riding at 213. I know I update the count for you all every week. Does that bore you? Tell me if it does. I personally am impressed and really overwhelmed. Even at my current pace of 1-2 books a week, it would take me a little over TWO YEARS to read them all, and that’s only if I don’t add a single book to the list over those four years.Who was the guy who was doomed to push the boulder up the hill for all eternity? Sisyphus? I feel like that guy, only my name isn’t so unintentionally funny.

But that’s okay. I may not get to all the books I want to read, but I do plan to (eventually) get my hands on some of the very best. The book I chose this week has been garnering some great buzz (I first heard about it during pre-BEA chatter on Twitter), so I think it has a chance to rank in that “very best.”

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

ASSAAAAAAAASSINS! We have assassins, people. Correction: We have one FEMALE assassin, and then a whole host of male thieves, assassins, and warriors! AND a “gruff captain” who will probably turn out to be an adorable love interest, AND a murder mystery, AND “salt mines of Endovier,” which reminded me of the spice mines of Kessel (that’s Star Wars, people – keep up).

Add all that together and you get a Shelver happy-twirling. And yes, I would keep my arms like that, because my sense of balance is totally whack.

I LOVE assassins, you guys! I love girl assassins even more (helloooo, Grave Mercy). And then you add in all sorts of unsavory characters, a character being labeled “gruff,” a tenuous Star Wars connection… I can’t even…

I WANT THIS BOOK!

While I slink off in a corner to murmur something about a Precious, tell me what’s on your wishlist this Wednesday.

13

How NOT To Get A Job At A Bookstore

Ah, summer. A time for lounging by the pool, building sand castles at the beach, vacations, and tearing through your special summer to-read list. At my store, the signs are popping up. Sometimes they’re literal signs, like the ones that read “GREAT BEACH READS!” over certain shelves of book or other ones that list great new paperback deals (so you can stuff your beach bag). Other times they’re subtler signs like kids shuffling in to buy books required for summer reading or the plethora of flip-flops smacking their way up and down our aisles.

But there was one sign, on very clear sign, that had every single employee looking up and saying, “Oh, yup. Summer.”

I went in one Monday last month and started my day as usual, but it turned into one long shift of deja vu. Literally every hour or so, a person of certain age would shuffle up to my register and mumble, “You guys hiring?”


Yep, the college job-hunters are out, scouring the town for any menial job they can find to use for gas money and/or student loans.

Odds are that some of you fall into that same category. School is out for the summer, and you’re a bit at loose ends. Sure, bumming around the house sounds great straight out of finals, but after a few weeks, you really start to feel that twinge in your wallet. So it’s time to get a job.

And hey, you think, I love books, so why not a job at a bookstore? I’ll get paid to sit around and read between customers! Hooray!

Okay, first, you don’t get paid to read. Not even close. Actually, in many stores, reading while on the clock is expressly against policy. You’re supposed to be ready to help at all times, even if there’s not a single freaking person in the store. So get all that idealistic book-loving garbage out of your head right now.

Second, just based on the number of people who’ve come in asking for jobs, you’re going to need a way to stand out. Ah, you might say, I’m way ahead of you! You might be, but probably not in the right way. So here’s a list of what NOT to do to get a job at the bookstore:

1. Don’t forget to look stuff up beforehand. Our applications are online. Each opening is listed right there. If it’s not on our website, it’s not open. If you want to come in “just in case,” that’s fine, but find some way to let us know that you have, in fact, done your research.


2. Do not forget where you are. Seriously? SERIOUSLY?! Our store name is in HUGE letters over the front door. We’re the only chain bookstore for miles. I know our competition is pretty well-known, but coming in and accidentally dropping their name is like interviewing at a Coke plant and accidentally mentioning Pepsi. Ugh. (It’s really depressing how often customers do this, too.)

2. Do not treat us any differently than any other potential place of employment. Dress for success, right? Right. You wouldn’t wear hoochie-mama shorts and a halter top to interview for a clerical position at a law office, so don’t do it here. You don’t need to break out the three-piece suit, but put a little thought into your outfit. At my store, we’re supposed to wear business casual, so try to match the feel.

3. Do not bring along your parents/children. Your little three-month-old may be as cute as a button, but it’s not very professional to try to cajole him while talking to a manager, now is it? And if you can’t find someone to watch him, who’s to say that you’ll be able to when we need you for a shift? As for bringing along Mom or Dad to hover while you ask to speak to a manager  – really? REALLY?!

4. Don’t wait until your spiel to act professionally. We’re required to greet everyone who walks through our door. That also means that we’re watching you from the moment you walk through the door, even before we know you’re a potential coworker. So be nice, hmm? (And that means be nice to us and other customers alike.)

5. In the same vein, do not treat non-managers like peons. If I like you, I might give you some tips, like what I did to snag my job. If you really impress me, I might even tell my boss (like I did for a friend just a few weeks ago). But if I don’t like you, you better believe I’ll tell my boss. My day is long enough without being forced to work with a jerk.

6. Do not become overly familiar with non-managers either. I am not your “buddy.” Remember, anything you tell me might make its way back to my manager while she’s making a hiring decision. (Of course, once you’re hired, there’s a kind of “bro code” among the underlings unless you tick us off.) So telling me that you really need this job because you were just fired from Walmart is probably not a good idea. True story, by the way. (As a sidenote: Walmart?! Who gets fired from Walmart?!)

7. Don’t forget to check back in. After about a week or two of silence on our end, don’t be afraid to call back to check in with our manager. Again, be polite and respectful of our time, and don’t overdo it, but sometimes refreshing your name in our minds is a good move.

8. Don’t be stupid. This is the kind of catch-all rule, but here’s an example. A guy came in the store asking for a job a few weeks ago. He seemed well-spoken and polite, if a bit needy. The economy sucks, so whatever. He talked to each one of us about getting a job (we all told him the same thing), and then we called our manager up so he could speak to her. He did great… up until he finished talking with our manager and brought up a book for purchase.

Yep. That’s the book he wanted to buy. I don’t care if it was a gag gift, the cheapest journal he could find, whatever. Representing yourself as a stoner after making sure every single employee in the entire store knew you wanted a job with us is a BAAAAAAAD idea. Yes, we told our manager. Yes, we spent the rest of the shift mocking him. No, he didn’t get the job.

So those are my tips. Standing out is fine, but just be sure you don’t stand out because you did one of my don’ts. Good luck.

Got any funny job-hunting stories or good tips to share? Chime in! And feel free to ask serious questions about being hired that I may or may not be able to answer. Also, feel free to make fun of the guy in #8.

8

Review: THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

The Book Thief has been touted as a classic. You all know how I feel about classics. (Hint: Not a fan.) But so many people have raved about it, and it’s on my Summer Reads list, so I figured I was morally obligated to read it, in a way.

I’m not sure I can review this book in the normal fashion. I mean, it’s not really a normal book. There isn’t much in the way of romance, nor much in the way of heart-pounding action. The narration hops around in time and doesn’t do twists very well. I mean, there are twists, but we’re told what they are and when they’re coming ahead of time.

So this isn’t going to be a normal review, but here’s what I can say. It may not be a normal book, but The Book Thief is one of the most gorgeous books I’ve ever read.
I am such a word nerd, it’s not even funny. In college, I lived with a psych major who had a love affair with higher-level math courses and a health science major who moonlighted as a ballerina. We all had our artistic sides, but words and phrases were my thing. I was the one who would ooh and aah over the GRE vocabulary flashcards.

Words and beautiful descriptions curl up inside of me. Do you know those rare moments in life where something perfect happens and you can’t help but stop and suck on it like a lollipop? It could be a heartwarming memory, a beautiful painting, a song. Sometimes it’s just when you look up and realize that for one second, everything is right. That’s what finely crafted writing does to me.

That’s what The Book Thief did to me.

My gosh, I am such a word nerd. See what I mean about this not being a normal review? Don’t get me wrong, the story was good. Liesel (the book thief) is a charming protagonist. She’s stubborn and foul-mouthed (but in German, so she could’ve been calling people snookums for all I cared). She’s whip-smart and feisty, and just all-around someone I loved rooting for. I also liked that she stole books for herself. I didn’t want to read a story with a virtuous heroine who saved books from the fire because of an author’s political views on censorship or whatever. The story’s set in WWII Germany. There’s enough subtle messages that can be picked up without outright moralizing.

The narrator, Death, was really awesome, too. I kept getting distracted by trying to figure out the physics of him (is he the only one? is he immortal? he gets tired, so what happens if he gets too tired?), but he was such an enjoyable guide with his lists and little asides. He was also horrible about spoiling upcoming events. Normally, having stuff spoiled would drive me insane, but I was so grateful in this book. It’s WWII Germany. People die, often senselessly and brutally. The freaking Holocaust is going on. I needed the forewarning Death gave.

But the best thing about Death is that he’s the mouthpiece for Zusak’s indescribably delicious phrases.

Death likes color. Did you know that? He talks about color all the time, and I LOVE it. In one chapter, chapter six I think it is, Death talks about Liesel’s books and how her tenth book is delivered by a “soft, yellow-dressed afternoon.”

Am I the only one who gets excited over that phrase? It’s PERFECT! I can picture it, feel it, taste it.

The Book Thief is teeming with these descriptions. “Shivering” snow and the “long legs of daylight” and the sky “simmering and boiling like a soup” and all the warm, comforting descriptions of her papa’s smell. Too many authors ignore the other senses, whereas Zusak made me feel like I’d taken some delightful form of LSD. Not one sense was ignored, and every sensation was so blissfully heightened that even now it leaves me grasping for words to describe it, and I just can’t come up with the right ones.

You never really realize how much of an experience you miss when cliches are used. Even cliches that really, really fit take away a bit of the edge. But then you read a gorgeous book about stars that burn your eyes and words being rung out like rain from a cloud and gray being the color of Europe and a twig-haired fistfighter boxing with the Fuhrer in a cellar, and you realize that you had no idea how beautiful the world really is.

Points Added For: Sheer, blow-your-mind wordvana; a drily humorous Death; every single freaking character who ambles onto the page, because I love them all (Liesel, Rudy, Max, Papa, Mama, the mayor’s wife, etc. etc.); one of the best closing lines ever.

Points Subtracted For: Making me cry. Enough with the crying books already!

Good For Fans Of: The Anne of Green Gables series (the only other books I’ve ever read that can compare, word-wise), Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (the narrations are similar), REALLY AMAZING WORD USAGE.

Notes For Parents: This book is about World War II. It can be a bit disturbing, especially as the horrors really did happen. People die. People are hurt. There is also cursing (mostly in German, but also some in English).

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

4

Cover Love #5

Time for Cover Love! I know some people aren’t very fond of memes. I understand completely. At the same time, I genuinely look forward to writing my Cover Love posts. I get to look at pretty things and squeal over them with you all.

This week’s choice will be just a tad different. Usually, I choose a book that is jaw-droppingly beautiful. Usually, it’s also attached to a book that is on my to-read list, either because of the cover or just because of the book’s sheer awesomeness. This week’s choice is not jaw-droppingly beautiful, but it did make me drop my jaw. It’s also not on my to-read list (at least, not yet), but I know that it’s on others’.
Continue Reading →

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PART TWO Of My Absolutely "Wizard" Interview With Elizabeth Wein, Author of CODE NAME VERITY

Two weeks ago, I ragged on my store’s crappy summer reading shelf. One week ago, we all banded together and constructed a much better shelf that I am extremely proud of (and yes, you can still go and suggest books). On that list were several new titles that I happened to adore, and one of those titles was Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.

Yesterday, I posted PART ONE of my interview with Ms. Wein. This is part two. It’s the juiciest part, in my opinion.

S: Tell me about the different names you chose. Verity, of course, is pretty straightforward, especially by the end. Do the other names – Maddie, Isolde, Peter – mean anything, or did you pick them just because they seemed to fit?

EW: Well, all the Special Duties pilot code names are from Peter Pan, so Peter is an obvious one – like Maddie’s call-sign being Wendy for her flight to France. But I used names from Peter Pan on purpose because it was a theme throughout the book. I really love choosing names. Isolde’s name was obvious because I already had quoted the aria from Tristan und Isolde before I knew what her name was. The fabulous contrast of “Isolde still in the day and the sun” with Queenie trapped in “Night and Fog” was a FANTASTIC COINCIDENCE.
Continue Reading →

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An Absolutely "Wizard" Interview With Elizabeth Wein, Author of CODE NAME VERITY

Two weeks ago, I ragged on my store’s crappy summer reading shelf. One week ago, we all banded together and constructed a much better shelf that I am extremely proud of (and yes, you can still go and suggest books). On that list were several new titles that I happened to adore, and one of those titles was Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.


Ms. Wein agreed to answer some questions about her magnificent book for me. Fangirl squealing (on my part) and insightful anecdotes (on hers) ensued.

Shelver: You’ve talked before about how your own love of flying and airplanes impacted your story. How did you first get into flying?

Elizabeth Wein: My husband-to-be (who I met because we are both bellringers) turned out to have just got his private pilot’s license when I started going out with him. Initially I went along as a passenger and a sort of standby amateur navigator. It was an extraordinarily romantic way to date. About 6 months after we started going out (and you have to understand that we saw each other once a month – he lived in the UK and I lived in Pennsylvania), we went on a trip to Kenya to visit a mutual friend. He did a sort of quick conversion to a Kenyan pilot’s license and we rented a plane and flew across Kenya.

So then he and a bunch of his friends bought a plane together, but it was based about 5 miles from us and he was the only one who had a current license, so it was pretty much our plane. It was a two-seater Robin 200, a little French plane, painted in the colors of West Ham’s football club because its former owner had been a West Ham supporter – maroon and turquoise!

Our flying club was the West London Aero Club at White Waltham, which happens to be the former HEADQUARTERS of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). I didn’t know that then.

We got married about 2 years after we started going out, and had our first child a year and a half later, and then the little plane just became a money pit and didn’t get flown, so we sold it. And then we moved to Scotland – and when my husband came house-hunting here in Perth he went up to check out the local airfield, and THERE WAS OUR PLANE! It wasn’t based at Perth but it was having its annual tune-up here. So it seemed like kismet that we should end up here. My husband continued to fly, renting planes out of Perth, and when I got the advance for my second novel (A Coalition of Lions), I spent it on flying lessons.

Or you could say squandered!

S: I think you would’ve enjoyed how many times I squealed during that story. A flight over Kenya?! And then finding the plane again after selling it… Oh man.

EW: There are so many amazing coincidences in my life. That is why I put them in my stories.

S: Knowing so much about planes already must’ve helped a great deal, but my head hurts just thinking about all the work you must’ve put into researching the details of this book. There are so many little things that have to be just right. You talked in another interview (with Figment) about the 1940s-era slang that you researched and how you were surprised at the amount that was already part of your everyday speech. What were some of your favorite words that you didn’t know already?

EW: I would really like to bring “wizard” back into everyday vocabulary as a term meaning “awesome.”

Maddie’s “daisycutter” (meaning a perfect landing) and “screaming downhill” (diving your aircraft) are two RAF terms I didn’t know before that I thought were cool.

Dympna saying “take a pew,” when she offers Maddie a seat, was actually suggested to me by Terri Charman, who is the historian affiliated with the Imperial War Museum who vetted the manuscript.

S: Love “wizard,” but I’m trying to figure out how to make “daisycutter” a verb… “I daisycutted it”?

EW: I think you just say, “Wizard, that was a real daisycutter!” ie, you skimmed the grass so finely that you sliced the flowerheads off the tops of the daisies.

S: Oh! That makes more sense. Now I just have to find a sly way to fit that above sentence into my life. I’ll look so cool.

EW: One of the things I was delighted by was discovering that “bit of fluff,” for a pretty girlfriend or a floozy, is RAF slang. It is one of those phrases that is actually part of my vocabulary. Queenie calling herself “von Linden’s bit of tartan fluff” is one of my finer uses of 1940s slang, I think!

S: It certainly made me chuckle (and I suspect a lot of other people as well).
Question Numero Tres – I squealed out loud when I read in your book that Verity and Maddie’s roles were historically plausible. I had no idea there were female pilots during WW2! Was there anything you came across in your research that flat-out blew you away?

EW: There are always moments when I leap up and run around the room yelling, “I DON’T BELIEVE THIS.” I will try to think of a good CNV example.

Ms. Betty Lussier. For her story, click here.

Oh – well – this is a pretty simple one. The German-speaking wireless operator. The incident of “talking down the German bomber” is something that allegedly really did happen. I don’t know any details, it probably wasn’t a bomber, I don’t know what airfield the pilot was tricked into landing at or anything.  But I took that notion and ran with it.

One of the things that *did* blow me away I mentioned in the author’s note – Betty Lussier, the American ATA pilot who used to ferry the head of the OSS around. He was her godfather. Because I’d more or less made up Maddie’s “Special Duties” ferrying job, and here was someone who pretty much did the same thing – AND she then quite the ATA to work for Intelligence! She is still alive, I believe!

Originally the Georgia Penn character was a reporter, rather than a radio broadcaster. Terri Charman said that the American reporters all left occupied Europe when the Vichy government collapsed, and suggested I have her work as a collaborator – there were actually several American women operating radio shows for the Third Reich minister of propaganda. I had NO IDEA. Various things happened to them after the war – I think one was tried for treason and jailed, one was acquitted, maybe one disappeared. None of them, as far as I know, were double agents. I kind of combined their role with that of Virginia Hall, who *was* an American reporter in Vichy France who also worked for the Special Operations Executive (SOE).

S: That’s so neat. Loved Georgia Penn and her little half-spoken “women’s code” between her and Verity, by the way. [EW admitted that she enjoyed it, too.]

~~*~~

That, dear readers, is part one. Tune in tomorrow for even more FANTASTIC goodness. Seriously, some of the best bits are tomorrow – you don’t want to miss it.

For more information about Ms. Wein, Code Name Verity, and her other works, please see her website. For a list of Ms. Wein’s other interviews, click here. For my review of Code Name Verity, click here.

Oh, and feel free to share the love with Ms. Wein in the comments below. Go!

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Review: MONUMENT 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus. She can see it coming down the street. You don’t stop and hug her and tell her you love her. You don’t thank her for being a good, kind, patient mother. Of course not—you launch yourself down the stairs and make a run for the corner.Only, if it’s the last time you’ll ever see your mother, you sort of start to wish you’d stopped and did those things. Maybe even missed the bus.But the bus was barreling down our street, so I ran.Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong. 

In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.

After showcasing this book in my Wishlist Wednesday post, I knew I had to get my hands on it as soon as it hit my store. Unfortunately, by the time I did get Monument 14, I’d just finished This Is Not A Test (see my review here), and was a little wary of picking up another apocalyptic book.

Oh, and for the record, I am such an idiot. One of the things I just HAD TO KNOW, was what Monument 14 actually was. Some sort of monolith? A piece of jettisoned alien technology that kickstarted the apocalypse? A super-secret government base? … Uh, actually, the fourteen kids from the town of Monument. D’oh. I’m not usually so thick, I promise.
The book started out pretty well. As the blurb promises, no one has any clue that this day will be any different. The narrator, Dean, barely manages to make his bus. Behind him, his brother Alex boards the “little kid bus.” They take off down the street toward school. The popular kids sit in the back and talk about stuff. The hippie environmentalist kids sit just behind Alex and talk about other stuff. Just another typical day with the typical groups of high school kids talking about the same, typical stuff.

Until hail the size of footballs fall from the sky. Until the bus flips over in the parking lot of a local Greenway and covers the students with the blood of their peers. Until those six high schoolers find themselves in charge of a group of scared little kids in a locked superstore with no way to escape.

The beginning hit all the right notes for me. It was such a sleepy little opener, one that let us glimpse at the different relationships already in place. Even when things started getting crazy with the hail and the cussing bus driver, it felt more like an adventure movie than anything too horrific.

Then kids died. I mean, really died. Crushed to death in front of your eyes kind of died.

The little kids bus driver helps all the students get safely into the store and then sets off to find help. The gates close, locking the students inside. They are their own community, sealed off from the rest of the world.

From an analytical perspective, I liked the way Laybourne handled the deaths and the start of the apocalypse. Someone (I don’t remember who – if you know, tell me in the comments) described Monument 14 as apocalypse lite, meant more for younger YA readers than the more intense This Is Not A Test, which I think is a pretty accurate description for most of the book.

People die. The kids freak out. One is catatonic from shock. Then a chemical spill smacks the reeling population upside the head with some pretty crazy side effects. There’s definitely an apocalypse going down in this book, but it’s never so much that the kids can’t handle it. They have leaders in the form of two charismatic jocks, a hard-nosed cheerleader (Dean’s crush), and a boy everyone calls Brave Hunter Man. There’s some in-fighting, some tension, and some really punk kids, but I never felt too overwhelmed or depressed reading the story. There was ALWAYS hope.

Really, the first half or so of the book was pretty fun. When I was a kid, I dreamed of living in a Walmart. I mean, there’s everything you need right there. It’s like the world’s biggest closet and toy chest all in one! The kids organize themselves promptly. They form their own mini-civilization, dictating things like baths, meal times, and sleeping arrangements. I’m way past my Walmart-dwelling fantasies, but I did enjoy the little spurts of wish fulfillment.

But that was the first half. In the second half, Laybourne lets things go a bit to pot. Some things (like older kids jockeying for power and taking sides) were realistic and inevitable. Some things, in my opinion, were unnecessary and rather nausea-inducing. There’s a character, one of the eight-graders, who makes it clear she wants to be one of the big kids. Unfortunately, being a big kid to her means dressing like a stripper and acting like a hooker.

The adult half of my brain clinically recognized that she was probably raised in a somewhat dysfunctional household, that attention-seeking and acting out is to be expected in times of stress, etc. etc. The other half of my brain freaked out that I was reading a book about a thirteen-year-old… well, slut. Ick ick ick.

In the same vein, I really didn’t appreciate the element Laybourne introduced to force the climax. The arrival of said element and its sudden inclusion into the Greenway group felt forced and contrived. And then the way everything went down? ICK. No, no, no, no, no.

In the end, Dean has to make a choice. I won’t tell you what the choice was, but I found it pretty stupid. I get why Laybourne made it happen and I can guess where the next book is going to go, but I was disappointed in Dean. He came off as a bit of a pushover.

In my opinion, this book could have used a bit more polishing before publication. The different feels for the two halves seemed at odds with each other. Was this book intended for the younger end of YA, as the first half suggests, or the older end, as the second half suggests? I think the progression of the story, especially the climax and resolution, could have happened more organically. Still, I liked enough of the book to want to follow the characters (especially certain little kids) into the next book.

Points Added For: The little kids (so much fun!), living in a superstore, keeping it upbeat, Niko (Brave Hunter Man), Josie.

Points Subtracted For: An element that comes out of left field, Astrid, thirteen-year-olds in thongs.

Good For Fans Of: Apocalypse lite, living in a superstore, really funny little kids.

Notes For Parents: Language (male body parts, “holy ___”, sob, etc.), violence, pedophilia, attempted rape, one heavy makeout scene (topless).

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

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Guest Post by E.K. Henry: Why I Went Indie

Hi, friends. Today we’re going to have a guest poster. Her name is E.K. Henry, and she’s the author of an indie publication, a vampire story titled Freak. I’ve never read this book, nor, I admit, do I ever plan to. I’m not a fan of vampire books. However, as a bookshelver, I know that my tastes aren’t everyone’s, and I figured some of you would enjoy hearing what she has to say. Also, it’s incredibly hard for an indie author to get attention sometimes, and I’ve got all this space just waiting to be shared. So let’s make her feel welcome, shall we?

E.K. Henry

I want to thank Bookshelvers Anonymous for having me on the blog today.  I am very honored at the chance to be here.

My name is E.K. Henry.  I’m the author of Freak.  I have always had a passion for books ever since I can remember.  I have grown up spending countless nights being swept away by my favorite books into the wee hours of the night.

Today, I want to talk about something that is near and dear to my heart. I want to discuss why I decided to become an Indie author.


When I first started writing just a little over 2 years ago, one of the first questions I asked myself was whether I wanted to go Indie or try to traditionally publish.  I spent countless hours researching both paths.  I spoke with numerous authors to see their opinions with each one.  Many authors on each side were very pro their side.  I never came to a conclusion on what I wanted to do for a very long time.  I felt like I was stuck trying to figure out which path I should go on.

As I spent several years writing, researching, and developing relationships with fellow authors, I learned that to go the Indie or traditional route wasn’t as black and white as I originally thought.  Going one route didn’t doom me to stay in that path forever if decided I wanted to change.

I met authors who were:

  • ghostwriters
  • people who auditioned for the chance to write a novel for publishers who already had a general idea of how they wanted the book to be written
  • published books as an Indie author and then went the traditional route
  • published books the traditional way and then went Indie
  • technically Indie, but have an agent backing them
  • publishing both traditionally and Indie using different pen names
and the list goes on….

When I finished Freak I decided I wanted to try to find an agent, but that I would also prepare to self publish.  I knew that finding an agent in the first place is hard, but finding one that would rep me knowing I want to write about vampires was going to be extremely hard.

I probably have some of you scratching your heads at this point.

“Vampires are hot right now, just go look at how many are on the shelves,” you might be saying.

And that is actually the problem.  There are so many vampire books on the young adult shelves that publishers aren’t buying many more.  That isn’t to say that they aren’t buying any, but even though there is a huge audience, the market is very saturated.

After having several agents tell me that they loved Freak, but they just couldn’t sell it, I knew that my plan to go Indie was the correct one.  I chose my path and headed down it.  Having so many wonderful emails, reviews, purchases, and having people mark it To-Be-Read on their Goodreads shelves reaffirmed that I made the right choice for Freak.

The world of publishing has changed dramatically and authors have many options available that haven’t always been there.

What does that mean for readers?  It means that many great books that might not have been published for one reason or another are available for you to enjoy.

I don’t know which path I will take with my next project, but I’m glad to know that I have the power to choose.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to my story.  As a thank you I’d love to do a giveaway of two e-book copies of my YA paranormal novel, Freak and 5 autographed bookmarks.  All you have to do is be a follower of this website and leave your contact info. [Shelver note: This giveaway will end 06-23 at 12 AM.]

I’d love if you would tweet about this contest and mark Freak to be read on Goodreads.






Happy Reading,
E.K. Henry

Email: ek_henry (at) yahoo (dot) com

Twitter: @ek_henry
You can purchase your own copy of Freak here Amazon or here B&N.

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Wishlist Wednesday #5

Totally the property of Pen to Paper.

One hundred and sixty-nine. I have one hundred and sixty-nine books on my to-read list. The overabundance of choices available for my wishlist makes my head spin.

BUT this week there was no contest. One book jumped off my list and smacked me in the face while flaunting its awesomeness with a sassiness that would put Tyra Banks to shame.
Continue Reading →

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