Favorite Quotes

"The walls of books around him, dense with the past, formed a kind of insulation against the present world and its disasters."

— Ross MacDonald

Reader's Link

Browsing all staff pick reviews written by 'Xenon'

The importance of knowing one's letters

Fly by night

Title: Fly by night
By: Frances Hardinge

Twelve-year-old Mosca Mye lives in a land superficially similar to, but also fantastically divergent from, England in the early 1700s. Parliament has reached an uneasy compromise with the many factions of resurgent Royalists (each supporting a different would-be-monarch) after deposing and beheading the previous King. Monotheist fanaticism has had its ... [Read more]

fiction, kids fiction

Such tales

Gretel and the Dark

Title: Gretel and the Dark
By: Eliza Granville

The title promises darkness, and if there's one lesson Eliza Granville has learned from Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, it's to always keep a promise. "If you won't forsake me, I won't forsake you." Krysta's childhood nurse, Greet, had a story for every occasion. While gutting fish one day, she tells ... [Read more]



The World until Yesterday: what can we learn from traditional societies?

Title: The World until Yesterday: what can we learn from traditional societies?
By: Jared Diamond

A schoolboy crosses a street in front of a delivery van in Papua New Guinea and is run over. The driver is at risk of being lynched by bystanders, so he drives to a police station for his own safety. He ends up living with his tribe for several months ... [Read more]


"You should get it..."

The Furies

Title: The Furies
By: Natalie Haynes

In this first novel, reminiscent of Donna Tartt's The Secret History, an inexperienced teacher named Alex moves to Edinburgh to teach drama therapy at a continuation school. One class of older teenagers demands to be taught real material; they're sick of being forced through session after session of "talking about ... [Read more]


Peripheral supernatural

Tam Lin

Title: Tam Lin
By: Pamela Dean

If you were the Queen of Faery and had to pay a septennial teinde or tribute to Hell, where would you hunt for your victims? A small liberal arts college in Minnesota seems as likely a place as any to capture promising human youths: take your pick of any of ... [Read more]

fiction, teen fiction

Present past, present future

The Orenda

Title: The Orenda
By: Joseph Boyden

When Europeans first arrived in the Great Lakes area, they were not the dominant powers of the region. That honor belonged to tribal confederacies such as the Wendat (whom the French called Huron) and the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois). The French chose to forge alliances and trading partnerships with the Wendat, which ... [Read more]


Gifts, Voices, Powers

Annals of the Western Shore

Title: Annals of the Western Shore
By: Ursula K. Le Guin

While there are three books in the Annals of the Western Shore, and certain characters make more than one appearance, this is not a conventional trilogy. Rather, each book focuses on a different society within the larger geographic region of the “Western Shore.” Ursula K. Le Guin's father was the ... [Read more]

fiction, teen fiction

Telling Tales

The Universe, the Gods, and Men: Ancient Greek Myths

Title: The Universe, the Gods, and Men: Ancient Greek Myths
By: Jean-Pierre Vernant

Vernant, a Classics professor, used to tell his grandson Greek legends as bedtime stories—and he'd really tell them, not read them. He also told some of the same stories, in the same fashion, to friends who forced him to promise to write down what he'd told them. To Vernant, the ... [Read more]


Haunted unease

Raven Girl

Title: Raven Girl
By: Audrey Niffenegger

Raven Girl is an illustrated fairy tale for adults. Somehow, a postman and a raven have a child together. When the egg hatches, their daughter has the body of a human but can only speak in Raven. Her main goal in life is one day to be able to fly, ... [Read more]

graphic novel

Burnt into Memory

Voice of the Fire

Title: Voice of the Fire
By: Alan Moore

Alan Moore is best known for his graphic novels that have been butchered by Hollywood (Watchmen, V for Vendetta, etc.). He is less known for being a practicing occultist and for his single “conventional” novel, Voice of the Fire. To be clear, I'm using “conventional” with regard to the medium ... [Read more]

fiction, science fiction
1 Comment

Neither farce nor tragedy

A Star Called Henry

Title: A Star Called Henry
By: Roddy Doyle

Roddy Doyle's A Star Called Henry is the story of the Irish War for Independence and Civil War, told through the cocky first-person narrative of a rebellious former Dublin street urchin. Henry's father was a one-legged brothel bouncer and underworld enforcer who specialized in caving in skulls with his wooden ... [Read more]

1 Comment

True values


Title: Lavinia
By: Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin's Lavinia is a retelling of Virgil's epic poem, the Aeneid. The story is told from the point of view of Lavinia, the native Latin princess whom the Trojan Aeneas marries, but who does not speak a word in the Aeneid. What's interesting about the book is ... [Read more]


Book Kits

To help your book discussion group, we've gathered a collection of popular paperback titles and sorted them into kits which can be sent to you upon request.

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