Lari's Bookshelf

I'm a librarian in Washington state. I'm a fan of philosophy, sociology, young adult literature, graphic novels, macabre lit and more.

"Gone Girl" Giveaway!

No I am not dead. No, I have not been murdered. No, I have not fallen off the earth or been beamed to another dimension where I'm currently assisting some alien monarch in the formulation of some alien constitution to prevent some cataclysmic war between dimensions. (Though that would be kind of cool.)


I have been just, well, busy! Big life changes happening and all. I'll get to all that later, but first!

Oh joy!


I want to celebrate being not "gone" by sharing a giveaway with everyone on here for "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn.


I came across this on my Friends of the Library's book cart and I thought it would make a great giveaway here since I honestly won't have time to read it.


It's new! And it's got the dust jacket and everything. The contest is open to USA entrants only. (Sorry world-wide peeps! I'll find more ways to love you in the future.)


You can enter the drawing by going here or by clicking on the giveaway widget thing on the left side bar of the blurg page.


Good luck!


Lari is doing a giveaway!

Free Reads! OM NOM NOM

Here's another book site to add to my list. Read Print offers tons of free books for the literary addict.


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Gnomes by Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet

Gnomes Deluxe Collector's Edition - Wil Huygen, Rien Poortvliet, Brian Froud

I can’t believe I had gone through so many years, working in libraries, without discovering this gem until this past week. Since gnomes make up a big part of this year’s summer reading theme, I have a gnome display on the bulletin board in the children’s area. One of my coworkers and I started talking about the nature of gnomes, and she showed me this deluxe edition of “Gnomes” by Wil Huygen.


Admittedly, I haven’t read many books about gnomes, but I would bet that this book is the ultimate and definitive guide to gnomes.


It was easy to see why this book would and apparently does appeal to so many. The author was a physician, and this is reflected in his observant, scientific writing style. Gnomes become so fascinating, so interesting, and the world they live in is huge and magical and even real thanks to the author’s “field notes” about gnomes, their behaviors, and their environments.


Rien Poortvelt’s illustrations are beautiful. They have such an old world feel and the cursive of the letters which explain certain points of interest in the art creates a lovely visual balance.


The author and illustrator cover everything there is to know about gnomes. They even cover the lesser known parts of gnome biology and sexuality, as well as the different kinds of gnomes from the familiar House Gnome to the nefarious Siberian Gnome.



This book would strongly appeal to gnome fans as well as those new to gnome folklore. I consider it an essential text for any serious fantasy reference collection.

Guardian: Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novels -Repost

Reblogged from Chris Blocker:

Screenshot of Linked site

Reposting from Literary Snob because I too have a fascination for lists and I must take a closer look at what's on here later . . . 


"I like a little bit of science fiction or fantasy every now and then, but the indistinguishable plot-driven sci-fi/fantasy that normally dominate the genres doesn't grab me. So I was excited to find this list of Sci-Fi and Fantasy books that made Guardian's 1000 novels everyone must read. Apparently this is an old list, but I was so impressed with the selections that I wanted to share. Some of these are a little odd (who's ever thought of Morrison's Beloved as science-fiction?), but the list has spurred my interest in Margaret Atwood, Octavia E. Butler, and China Miéville, as well as made me curious about many authors unknown to me. Just what I needed, more books to add to my to-read list.

Any titles on the list you love or hate? And can someone please give me a psychological explanation for my obsession with lists?"

This has arrived! - Free Audiobook Downloads All Summer

Reblogged from Valz:


Reblogged from Valz.


"Every year since 2010, SYNC has been giving away free audiobooks for the entire summer - two books each week.  The books are usually a mix of current YA titles and classics, available in MP3 format and are downloaded using the Overdrive Media Console.


The books for the week are normally available on Thursdays through to the Wednesday of the following week.  If you don't download them by then, you lose out.  Also, some titles are only available for the United States; the majority of titles are available internationally, though.


SYNC's 2013 program begins today with Of Poseidon by Anna Banks and William Shakespeare's The Tempest.  The links don't seem to be live yet so keep checking throughout the day! Download links are now active!


You can find more information at the SYNC website, including a schedule of the summer's offerings.


Happy listening!"

Finding Feudalism

Some weeks ago, I found two medieval history books. I fell in love with the look of them:



Mediaeval Feudalism was first published in 1942 by Cornell University, and this edition was published under Great Seal Books in 1956.


Last year, I listened to a fantastic course about the history of medieval England and spurred by my love of fantasy set in this kind of historical setting, I couldn't help but start to grow my collection of books on medievalist society.


The second book I found was The Middle Ages: 395-1500. I am assuming both books once had the same owner. The second book was originally published in 1921, this edition was printed in 1959:


The book has had a history nearly as long and complicated as the subject matter it tries to illustrate. OK, perhaps not. But its first author was a professor who had published it in 1921. Many revisions, a death, a second author later, and this is the result. I'm curious to see what differences any subsequent reprints of this book may have.


I'm also attending this lovely event [clickity click] this weekend, so I'm nerding out about medieval England at the moment.

This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

This is Not My Hat - Jon Klassen

This evening I went to a local Head Start for an end of year party. The children were tired and a little ansty, but when I started to read this book, they fell silent and gathered around me. They waited eagerly for each word, and for each turn of the page. Every time the little fish turns out to be wrong about his predicament with the big fish, who is the victim of his theft, they would say "oooooohhhh" in that oh-man-that-little-fish-is-in-trouble kind of way. The best part was the discussion they had at the end. Without spoiling it, the ending is left up to interpretation.

The Yellow Wallpaper - Short Story

Yellow Wallpaper


This is one of my all time favorite short stories. It's about a woman's descent into madness as a result of being imprisoned by her husband in the upstairs apartment of their summer home. During the time period this was written, this was how women, diagnosed with hysteria, were "treated." I've heard it said that the main character was actually suffering from post pardum depression at the onset of this tale.

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Bossypants - Tina Fey I listened to the audio book, which I think made "Bossypants" much more enjoyable because it was read by Tina Fey. I thought it was funny fluff, perfect for my long commute to work. I laughed at the jokes and stories about Tina's own life, and appreciated the unanticipated workplace tips.

My Friend Dahmer

My Friend Dahmer - Derf Backderf

This is a horrible story. It really is.

But My Friend Dahmer is a graphic novel written and drawn extremely well. The author/artist recounts his interactions with Jeffrey Dahmer in high school. Dahmer typically goes unnoticed by his teachers and peers. Sure, he is weird. He has this knack for acting like he has cerebral palsy and yelling in the library just to get the librarian riled up. (Note: I did not particularly enjoy the author's portrayal of the librarian, but I digress.)

Dahmer likes to collect dead animals he finds, and strip them to the bone, just to see what's inside. But he also enjoys the company of friends at school. The bizarre interactions between him and his friends further illustrates just how strange Dahmer is, even though he is beneath everyone's radar.

The story follows his family problems, dark fantasies, and his alcoholism in high school. He tries to numb the darkness within by inebriating himself constantly, and no one intervenes. His parents are too busy with their own tumultuous marriage and divorce. His teachers don't notice.

No one does.

One poignant thing, I took away from this book, is how just about any unassuming suburbanite could have the dark fantasies that Dahmer had. Dahmer was a person. He was a person with dark thoughts, and he was a person who ultimately did horrific and unforgivable deeds.

He was a person, who let his dark fantasies enslave him.

The illustrations supply a wonderful tension between Dahmer trying to fit in and trying to appease his darker desires. The drawings are not in the style that I immediately enjoy, they resemble more of the underground comic style, but they grew on me. I enjoyed learning that this is not the first version of this work. Derf originally published My Friend Dahmer as a much thinner, less researched comic that had an underground following. In the book, he explains how the original fell short of what he wanted it to be, and how this newer version better captures the vision he had in illustrating Dahmer as a high school student.


What finally made Dahmer snap? We may never know. But Derf does a spectacular job in making the case that perhaps, adults in Dahmer's life could have been more present, more aware of his situation.

I will point out that while the book itself is dark, and has some graphic scenes, most of the it takes place in a boring suburb. I think that is one of the most chilling things about this whole event, is that such a horrible darkness could be lurking beneath such a boring and mundane surface.

From beginning to end, My Friend Dahmer keeps the reader interested. It pulls you into Dahmer's whitebread, suburban hell, like an unforgiving imp, and doesn't let go.

It's macabre.

It's brilliant.

It's dark.

Now go read it.

Leaving Fishers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Leaving Fishers - Margaret Peterson Haddix

Dorry has just left her small town, the only home she's ever known, and moved to the big city because her father was laid off at his factory. She is completely alone. No one seems to acknowledge her existence at her new high school, and she is readily ignored and even insulted when she tries to approach other teens.

No one bothers to get to know her, except for a tight knit group of kids who call themselves "Fishers." They invite her to sit with them at lunch, and then proceed to invite her to their church activities. They shower her in love and acceptance and call her "friend." Dorry is so happy to have some friends, so she doesn't mind that they are a little odd. She tries to not feel uncomfortable when they pray over their food at school, and how they constantly talk about religion and God.

Eventually Dorry finds herself at a Fishers retreat, where, she is unwittingly "willingly" baptized. Being a Fisher, she suddenly has to accomplish a number of tasks, follow rules, and she feels guilty if she can't live up to the Fishers' expectations.

She starts to alienate her family, her grades flounder, and she has to consider the cost of what pleasing the Fishers and God really means.


My Thoughts

This book does an excellent job at portraying an insecure teenager's probable reaction to acceptance, and in this instance, an acceptance of a cult. I've studied a little about cult psychology, and I could see it in this group, portrayed by Haddix, quite well.

The groupthink, the guilt, the love bombing are all there. It hit a little close to home with me. Especially the part where Dorry goes to the Fishers retreat. Some of the scenes remind me of my own personal experiences attending religious camps as a youth. Particularly the hyper emotional campfire testimonies and discussions and the guilt associated with saying "yes" and "no" to certain religious questions and activities.

There is also a part where her love interest basically tells her that he will only date fellow Fishers (a very manipulative scene after Dorry leaves), and I know so many that join a religion just to be able to date or be with someone who won't accept them for who they are.

Overall, I'd recommend it to those interested in cult acceptance and recruitment and groupthink. I wish the book touched a little more on moving on after leaving Fishers, as I think that the process of leaving can be rather difficult, and I feel like that part of the book was a little rushed.

Level Up

Level Up - Gene Luen Yang, Thien Pham Not as endearing as American Born Chinese, but still a fabulous coming of age story about finding your own path.

The Comet's Curse (Galahad, #1)

The Comet's Curse (Galahad, #1) - Dom Testa

The question, "What would you do if everyone was no longer safe on the planet earth?" is answered by a scientist who concludes that the only hope for humanity is to send a bunch of teenagers into space.

That is essentially the premise of The Comet's Curse (Galahad Series Bk. 1). The earth is casually orbiting the sun, when a comet, like a proverbial black cat crosses its path, showering the earth and a cloud of comet dust. Many find the phenomenon to be beautiful, but it turns out to be deadly, as the dust somehow contaminates the atmosphere and introduces a wholly foreign virus to the human race.

The virus only seems to infect those who are 18 or older, and civilizations crumbles as people realize their days are numbered. When a scientist proposes the plan to send young colonists into space with a mission to colonize a potentially habitable planet, many support him and others fight against him.

Triana is the young captain of the Galahad ship, and the story reveals a love triangle between her and two of her crew. A mystery develops when another member of the crew is taken to the infirmary after having a nervous breakdown, shortly after the departure of the Galahad.

I found the most engaging character to be the ship itself. Or rather, the computer "brain" of the ship called "Roc." It was witty and engaging, and gave the reader some comic relief. Gap, the second in command of the Galahad crew, came in a close second.

The pacing felt sluggish in the middle of the book, and while many praise the characters of this book, I found Triana, who is the leader and at the center of the politics of Galahad, to be lacking in interesting qualities.

Overall, the book had an interesting premise, and an engaging overall goal. I'm not sure when I'll be able to pick up the other books of the series, but I'm hoping that they get better as they progress, as they were picked up by Tor Publishing a few books into the series.

Rot & Ruin

Rot and Ruin - Jonathan Maberry

Wow. This book. Wow.

I don't even know where to begin. At first, I didn't know what to expect. Sure. I read the publisher's description. Benny Imura, just another teen coming of age in a post apocalyptic world.


Kind of. Yes. But this is not just some cliche YA thriller/horror. This has some real substance to it.

The book doesn't rely on the icky-zombie-gross-factor to keep the reader invested in finishing the story, not that there is anything wrong with that, but there was more to this novel than a horde of zombies and a collection of desperate survivors trying to figure out how to get by in a crazy new world.

This book is about relationships between people. Especially the relationship between Benny and his brother Tom. See, Benny hates Tom. He thinks he's a coward. He remembers First Night (the zombie takeover), and he remembers his brother Tom, leaving his mother to become zombie food to zombie dad, while running off with baby Benny.

Benny hates Tom for running. He hates Tom for his quiet, collected attitude, which he thinks is boring. Benny knows his brother is a respected bounty hunter, but he's nothing like the burly and outspoken Charlie Pink-Eye or the Motor City Hammer. Those guys are real zombie killers.

But Tom? He's just a schmuck in Benny's eyes. And when Ben turns 15 he most certainly doesn't want to become Tom's apprentice so his rations don't get cut. So he tries to find another job. But everything else doesn't exactly pan out for Benny, and he resigns himself to the "family business."

Tom isn't the only thing Benny hates. He also hates the zombies that destroyed civilization 14 years before.  Including the ones who stagger around the fences of his small community, Mountainside.

Rot & Ruin Zombie Rules! 
1. Everyone who dies becomes a zombie. Even if the individual dies of natural causes without ever coming in contact with a zombie.
2. Zombie bites will turn a person into the walking dead. Scratches apparently do not.
3. To kill a zombie, one must destroy the brain stem. People in Benny's community are "quieted" after they die with a "silver," or thin blade, meant to puncture the base of the skull.


But when Tom takes Benny out to the Rot and Ruin for the first time, something changes in Benny. He realizes that his perception of the world, is nothing like reality, and he learns what it is that his brother really does.

Benny starts to realize that there is a whole world outside of his community. He discovers other people surviving out in the Rot and Ruin, and that not all bounty hunters are alike . . .

The writing is crisp, and to the point. I really liked that it was written in third person, past, because I think first person-present tends to be a little overused in YA. But it is definitely written from Benny's point of view, and the voice gives the reader insight into Benny's mind with appropriate descriptions and literary devices, to show a developing character throughout the story.

One part I liked in particular is when Benny's hatred for zombies changes into something else:

"On their first trip into the Ruin, Tom had said that fear makes you smart, but Benny understood now that his brother had been talking about caution rather than fear. these zoms, every last one of them—even the smallest child—would kill him if they could, but not one of them meant him harm. Meaning, intention, will . . . None of that was part of their makeup. There was no more malice there than in a lightning strike or bacteria on a rusted nail, and as he sat there, he felt his terror of them give way to an awareness of them as something merely dangerous. The intense hatred of the dead he had once harbored was gone completely; burned out of him in Harold Simmons's house. Only the fear had remained, and no that, too, was wavering in intensity." (Chapter 33)

The first half of the book is filled  with a lot of back-story (exciting back-story, but back-story), and my interest started waning a little bit, but the last half more than makes up for it, and wouldn't be possible without the narratives laid out in the beginning.

When Benny stumbles into the mystery of the "Lost Girl," and crosses a few bounty hunters,  he discovers that the living can be much more malicious than the mindless walking dead. He ends up on a quest of revenge and rescue, and in the process learns more about himself and what love is.

I'm really excited to read the next book. A few questions pop up throughout the narrative that leaves the reader wanting more. (Minor Spoiler: Especially when the characters witness a jumbo jet flying across the sky...  where did that come from?!)

The whole thing was a fabulous read. Memorable protagonists (I'm in love with Tom Imura). Memorable villains. And the epilogue really hit me on an emotional level. I praise and, at the same time, chide Mr. Maberry for making me cry like that.

Read it. Seriously.

Ashfall Book Talk/Review

Ashfall - Mike Mullin

Did you know that the Yellowstone National Park is actually the caldera of an ancient supervolcano? The last time it erupted was 640,000 years ago.  Ashfall answers the question, what if the super volcano known as Yellowstone National Park blew up today?


Alex thinks that it's going to be just another weekend in Iowa suburbia. He’s playing World of Warcraft while his folks are away visiting family. What he doesn't expect is his house to catch on fire because of a super volcanic eruption thousands of miles away. The cataclysmic events that ensue describe a frightening world covered in a layer of deadly ash.


The violence, in the world after the supervolcanic eruption, is described through Alex's experiences. It isn't long, after the deafening noise which lasts days, that he sees a man kill another for food. Alex realizes that to survive, he needs to be willing to protect himself, and utilizes his martial arts training to get by in this new unfriendly world.


The ash that has fallen, is so thick, Alex has to use his father’s skis to traverse the new grey and cold landscape. As he makes the trek out to find his family, he comes across many kinds of people. There are people working together to provide some kind of structure and order, and others who are looking only out for themselves, and will murder and plunder to maintain their survival.


The character development is well done. Alex is just like any another World of Warcraft obsessed kid who has to grow up in the face of immense adversity. Darla, a farm girl, who has a way with machines is another character that blossoms in a beautiful way.


As the world plunges into a potentially endless winter, the love the two characters have for each other, in this wasteland of snow and ash, grows. It’s a refreshing romance that’s not littered with over the top saccharin.  


This book will engross the reader with its ability to frighten and show very real threat to humanity. And the threat is not so much focused on a cataclysmic event which could occur, but rather it shows what American society could be like if infrastructure collapses. How will people communicate? What will they do for food. Will people choose to help or to hurt each other? Ashfall looks at all of these questions and gives some shocking answers.


Violence, politics, love, relationships, hunger, starvation all are major themes, and the author is able to weave them together flawlessly. The book will make you cringe, it will bring you sighs of relief. You will smile and laugh, and you will hurt when the characters hurt. It will keep you on the edge of your chair, and you’ll want to know how it all turns out.


This is a great book for any readers of dystopian or post-apocalyptic literature, and it is a valuable contribution to the blossoming “cli-fi” or climate fiction genre. The book is part of a series, and Ashen Winter picks up where Ashfall leaves off. This one is definitely worth the read.

Currently reading

The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson