Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New Bookies

The flip side to my last post (Do give books for Valentine's Day -- or any day) is this: if at all possible, do get books for Valentine's Day. Or, you know, any day. Here is my bounty: all totally magicky and completely my kind of books. Thanks, loved ones!

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
whose story collection St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves was awesome. 
This is her first novel, and it sounds like a doozy.

*Starred Review* Russell’s lavishly imagined and spectacularly crafted first novel sprang from a story in her highly praised collection, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (2006). Swamplandia! is a shabby tourist attraction deep in the Everglades, owned by the Bigtree clan of alligator wrestlers. When Hilola, their star performer, dies, her husband and children lose their moorings, and Swamplandia! itself is endangered as audiences dwindle. The Chief leaves. Brother Kiwi, 17, sneaks off to work at the World of Darkness, a new mainland amusement park featuring the “rings of hell.” Otherworldly sister Osceola, 16, vanishes after falling in love with the ghost of a young man who died while working for the ill-fated Dredge and Fill Campaign in the 1930s. It’s up to Ava, 13, to find her sister, and her odyssey to the Underworld is mythic, spellbinding, and terrifying. Russell’s powers reside in her profound knowledge of the great imperiled swamp, from its alligators and insects, floating orchids and invasive “strangler” melaleuca trees to the tragic history of its massacred indigenous people and wildlife. Ravishing, elegiac, funny, and brilliantly inquisitive, Russell’s archetypal swamp saga tells a mystical yet rooted tale of three innocents who come of age through trials of water, fire, and air. --Donna Seaman (Booklist)

The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card

Danny North, descendant of exiled mages from another world, is taken aback when he comes into his true powers as a gatemage. He could reconnect his people with their long-lost home world, but gatemages are usually killed to maintain a fragile peace among the exiled clans. Fleeing his home, Danny finds refuge and slowly explores his potential, planning to open the first Great Gate in 14 centuries. Meanwhile, on the far-off world of Westil, a young gatemage named Wad finds love, conspiracies, and betrayal in a remote castle while struggling to recall his hazy past. Though occasionally uneven and meandering, this ambitious tale is well crafted, highly detailed, and pleasantly accessible. (Publishers Weekly)

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah E. Harkness
debut novel

In Harkness's lively debut, witches, vampires, and demons outnumber humans at Oxford's Bodleian Library, where witch and Yale historian Diana Bishop discovers an enchanted manuscript, attracting the attention of 1,500-year-old vampire Matthew Clairmont. The orphaned daughter of two powerful witches, Bishop prefers intellect, but relies on magic when her discovery of a palimpsest documenting the origin of supernatural species releases an assortment of undead who threaten, stalk, and harass her. Against all occult social propriety, Bishop turns for protection to tall, dark, bloodsucking man-about-town Clairmont. Their research raises questions of evolution and extinction among the living dead, and their romance awakens centuries-old enmities. Harkness imagines a crowded universe where normal and paranormal creatures observe a tenuous peace. "Magic is desire made real," Bishop says after both her desire and magical prowess exceed her expectations. Harkness brings this world to vibrant life and makes the most of the growing popularity of gothic adventure with an ending that keeps the Old Lodge door wide open. (Publishers Weekly)

New in paperback. I've actually read this, but I got it from the library,
and am happy to now own a copy! It's beautiful.

The cold northern islands of St. Hauda's Land are home to strange creatures and intertwining human secrets in Shaw's earnest, magic-tinged debut. Ida Maclaird returns to the archipelago to find a cure for the condition her last visit brought her—she is slowly turning into glass. The landscape is at once beautiful and ominous, and its residents mistrustful, but she grows close to Midas Crook, a young man who, despite his intention to spend his life alone, falls in love with Ida and becomes desperate to save her. Their quest leads them to Henry Fuwa, a hermit biologist devoted to preserving the moth-winged bull, a species of insect-sized winged bovines; to Carl Mausen, a friend of Ida's family whose devotion to her mother makes him both ally and enemy; and finally to Emiliana Stallows, who claims to have once cured a girl with Ida's affliction. Each of these characters' histories intertwine, though their motivations surrounding Ida are muddled by their loyalties. Both love story and dirge, Shaw's novel flows gracefully and is wonderfully dreamlike, with the danger of the islands matched by the characters' dark pasts. (Publishers Weekly)

Read any of these? Read anything awesome lately? 


tone almhjell said...

Oh, the one about the girl who's turning into glass sounds absolutely lovely! Just my thing. It will have to go on the list. Love the cover, too.

The Art of Kim Kincaid said...

Thank you for these recommends. I love your new blog.
"A Certain Slant of Light" by Laura Whitcomb was a surprisingly good read about redemption and ghosts."Keturah and Lord Death" by Martine Leavitt was awesome.
I also finished Silksinger and loved it. Please come back to Magpie some day.

Stephanie Perkins said...

I am dying — DYING — to read Swamplandia! Why am I not surprised to learn you like Karen Russell, too?

Ali Shaw's book has been on my to-read list since it came out. I'm sad I still haven't gotten to it. It sounds lovely.

Laini Taylor said...

Tone, I think you'll love that one. It reminds me of your imagination in some ways, though darker, sadder.

Kim, thanks for reading Silksinger :-) I hope VERY MUCH I will be able to return to Magpie soon. I believe in it :-) And I loved A Certain Slant of Light (and was not at all surprised!). Haven't heard of the other one but I will check it out. Thanks for the rec!

Laini Taylor said...

And Steph! Look, ha ha. Our comments posted a the exact same moment :-) Karen Russell's writing is gorgeous. Can't wait to read this!

Joel Le Blanc said...

I am going to watch out for these books. "The Girl With Glass Feet" sounds especially interesting. Recently I have been buried under a mountain of books and novels, but the one that stands out most since christmas was "The Wood Wife" by Terri Windling. When you read a book that captivates you and stays with you for weeks after you've finished it, you just want to tell everyone else about it too!

Neal said...

I finished reading The Girl with Glass Feet at the start of the month and have been thinking about it ever since, such a beautiful book from the cover to the words to the story, tragic, heartbreaking and captivating, I never read a book twice but if I ever decide to The Girl with Glass Feet will be the first I return to.

Can't wait for your new book Laini!

Evie said...

"The Girl with Glass Feet" looks very interesting, as does "Swamplandia". Think I'll start with Russell's collection of short stories though. Reviewers called them odd and quirky, and to me that's a good thing.

In this genre, the only book that comes to mind is "Lips Touch Three Times" by Laini Taylor. ; ) Eloquent, lyrical writing; my favorite book of all time. Seriously. I can't wait for your knew book.

If you like mysteries, "Faithful Place" by Tana French is excellent. It grabs you by the heart and won't let go. The main character, Frank Mackey, seems so real, I can't help but wonder how he's holding up these days...

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