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Monday, March 20, 2017

Scorching Sequel!

There aren’t many books that I’ll drop everything for in order to finish reading at any cost. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve missed my stop while reading on the bus more times than I care to admit, but few books exert the kind of pull that will, say, make me late for work. Well, truth booth, while sitting and thinking about what to write for this blog post I realized that every one of Lish McBride’s books has made me late for work at least once (SORRY BOSSES PLEASE DON’T FIRE ME). That weird young woman sitting in the janky pickup truck you walked by in the parking lot who was crying over what appeared to be a horror novel about necromancers? That was me.

Now, with that image in mind, just imagine how excited I am to inform you that Lish McBride’s newest book, Pyromantic, is out this week. It’s the follow up to Firebug, AND IT IS WEIRDER AND FUNNIER AND MORE UNNERVING AND LOVELIER than I could have ever hoped for. 

There are so many reasons to love this series, from the bizarre and irreverent gallows humor to the amazing variety of obscure mythical creatures represented; the fact that romantic love is not the only kind of love displayed or sought by the main characters; the value placed on multi-generational and non-conventional family units; the fully conceptualized female and queer characters; the insane action sequences; the witty banter, OH, THE WITTY BANTER. Did I mention the heavily-researched-and-cleverly-modified-to-make-them-even-more-appealing-but-also-terrifying-obscure-mythical-creatures? Because there are a lot of them. They are legion.

So stock up on coffee and snacks, make sure your laundry is already done or that you at least have clean underwear. I suggest starting with her first book, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, before immediately jumping into the sequel, Necromancing the Stone. You could also start with Firebug, but I personally really appreciated the world building and backstory that those first two books provided. Seriously, clear your schedules.

I could go on and on (really, I’ve had a lot of coffee and my dog is asleep on the couch so the sky’s the limit as far as me dweebing-out goes) but instead I’ll just leave you with this interaction that I had with my husband right after I finished reading Pyromantic for the second time:

THE SCENE: We're driving to his parents house for dinner...

Me: *squinting off into space in the passenger seat of truck*

Husband: Whatchya doin?

Me: Oh, thinking about what kind of were-creature I would be…

Husband: Oh my god.

Me: I think I would be like a jackrabbit or something. Or maybe a were-dog.

Husband: Okay.

Me: What would you be?

Husband: …..

Me: I could see you as like a wolfhound or deerhound.

Husband: *blinking*

Me: Something big and slow, thoughtful but also scruffy and fearsome.

Husband: *visibly trying to keep his eyes on the road*

Me: Yeah, wolfhound.


Lish McBride will be at our Lake Forest Park Store on Friday, March 24th at 6:30 PM

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Time to BINGE!

We've all been rather impatiently waiting for A Conjuring of Light to arrive on our shelves. If you haven't read this series yet, lucky you! Because now you get to get all three at once and binge read like nobody's business.

If you have read them, I am fairly certain that you not only knew that A Conjuring of Light was coming out this week, but that you've been preparing for it by rereading the first two books and also maybe figuring out how you can get your own Kell body pillow.


If you haven't heard of the books yet at all, here is a list of things from the author that might tempt you. The Shades of Magic series includes:

–Cross-dressing thieves
–(Aspiring) pirates
–Londons (plural!)
–Sadistic kings (and queens!)
–A royal who is equal parts Prince Harry and Jack Harkness
–More magic (blood magic, elemental magic, bad magic, etc. etc.)
–Epic magicky fights scenes
–And coats with more than two sides

I have two more reasons for you to get crackin' on this series.

1) It's being adapted for television. So basically you need to read it now so that you can be the cool kid who's already finished the series before the show even comes on.


(This is how your face should look right now.)
If that isn't enough to make you check out this series, then I'm not sure we can be friends anymore. 
Okay, we can still be friends. Maybe. But I've got my eye on you, people.


Click here for more info on our author event!

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

Londons fall and kingdoms rise while darkness sweeps the Maresh Empire, and the fraught balance of magic blossoms into dangerous territory while heroes struggle. The direct sequel to A Gathering of Shadows, and the final book in the Shades of Magic epic fantasy series, A Conjuring of Light sees the newly minted New York Times bestselling author V. E. Schwab reach a thrilling conclusion concerning the fate of beloved protagonists--and old foes.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

New Arrivals : It's a Book!

Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer, illustrated by Douglas Holgate

Like many people, I devoured the Lunar Chronicles series. They had me at “cyborg Cinderella” I’M NOT MADE OF STONE, PEOPLE.  It was a fun series with adventure, humor, and the kind of friendships we all hope for. So I was really excited to find out that Marissa Meyer was writing a comic book spinoff of the series. Wires and Nerve follows the exploits of Iko as she goes after the rogue wolf soldiers left on Earth. Excited, yes, but also a little nervous. I’m picky about my comic books—if I don’t love the art, it doesn’t matter if the story is great. And if the art is wonderful but the story is flat? I’m putting the book down. Not every novelist can manage the crossover into another form, either. Finally, there’s always the concern that a side character won’t have enough narrative oomph to carry a story on their own.

I managed to get my grubby little paws on an early copy of Wires and Nerve, and let me tell you, friends, you can breathe a sigh of relief. If you loved the original series, you’ll love the comic book. Meyer has used this opportunity to not only deliver Iko as her usual, charming self, but also to give us a more in-depth look into the problems of being an android. As much as Cinder faced prejudice for being a cyborg, Iko is constantly being dismissed as a non-entity—a frustration she handles with humor and wit, but a frustration nonetheless.

All of the other characters from the book are present, too. After all, things don’t wrap up with an easy, “And they lived happily ever after” at the end of the novels. Rebuilding takes work and time, and in the comic we get a glimpse of the characters getting on with the necessary business of starting over.

Let’s talk about the art. Wires & Nerve is done in various blues, blacks, and grays and usually I prefer my comics in full color. I thought the scheme worked for this book, though, what with the general setting being in ships, space, and the Lunar settlement. Doug Holgate’s drawings are charming and whimsical and I thought an excellent fit for the story.

Basically, if you liked the books, you need to get your mitts on the comic. Don’t usually read comics? This is a good place to start! Haven’t read the Lunar Chronicles? Well, you can read the comic without having read the series, but you will get a ton of spoilers for the books. So maybe you should just read all of the books. You won’t regret it. I mean, if cyborg Cinderella didn’t sway you, I’m not sure you can be reasoned with. Wolf soldiers? Dashing starship captains? Evil queens? Feisty androids that fight human prejudice as well as genetically engineered killing machines? I don’t know about you guys, but for me that translates into shut up and take my money.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

New Arrivals : It's A Book!

Today on New Arrival: It’s a Book—twins! Because we have two books we’re excited about. Only they are very different books, so we’ll consider them fraternal twins.

Sometimes at Third Place Books, we have a hard time articulating why we love a book. There are times where we just shake our heads and shove it at you saying, “Trust me.” Then there are books we can wax poetic on, practically writing you a dissertation on why it made our hearts grow three sizes. Different books require different kinds of recommendations—it’s not one size fits all. But then, there are many kinds of books and many kinds of readers in this world, and we try to cater to all of them.

First, we have The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry. When I asked my fellow bookseller Chelsea, why she loved The Fifth Petal so much her review was focused less on the actual book and more about how it made her feel to read it. To paraphrase Chelsea:
When you read it, there’s a spooky feel. Like it’s October and you’re listening to Fleetwood Mac while draped in flowy blankets. It’s light and full of magic and mystery and set in Salem. I think it will appeal to a lot of genre readers. It gave me the Stevie Nicks feels. -Chelsea
Honestly, based on that alone, I know several people who will love it. It’s set in the same world as Barry’s last book, The Lace Reader, but you don’t have to read that before you dive into The Fifth Petal.

The second book we’re featuring is This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel. Emily, also at the Lake Forest Park location, will be recommending this title to book clubs. The subject is timely, the writing light, and the author local. That’s a solid trifecta right there. 
Laurie Frankel's new book is fantastic and very current. I read the whole thing in one sitting - a 336 page manuscript devoured on my phone in a clunky format, and I hate reading electronically and knew a paper copy would be on my desk within a few days. I dipped in and just couldn't stop!  It's a big-hearted novel of family, full of loveable characters that feel like friends. Frankel deals with serious social issues while keeping the tone light. Highly recommended for book clubs. -Emily
This is How It Always Is has received many starred reviews and is getting a lot of love from readers already. And honestly, I also hate reading books on my phone, so that’s really a testament to how much Emily loved it!


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

New Arrivals : It’s a Book!

Sometimes the stars align, the planets fall into place, the heavens open, and you fall in love with a book. Nothing is better than that feeling. And then you find out that the author has another book coming out and suddenly you’re swamped by two very different and conflicting emotions. On one hand, you are excited and happy that you get more from a talented writer that speaks to you on a bone-deep level. On the other hand, what if that last book was a fluke? What if the next one doesn’t live up to everything the last book promised?

In 2015, Ottessa Moshfegh released the book Eileen to much fanfare. It was an Indie Next pick, it was short listed for the Man Booker prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, won the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction, and David Sedaris picked it as his recommended book for his Fall 2016 tour. Basically, Moshfegh knocked it out of the park. We had two separate staff recommendations for it:

“Oh Eileen. You are antisocial, you are untrustworthy, you are selfish and self-hating at the same time. You are obsessive, you are put-upon. The way you live your life makes my skin crawl. So why do I love you so much?” –Anje
 “A pretty wild departure from her debut (but equally excellent) novella McGlue, Eileen is a gut-wrenching journey with one of the most intriguing antiheroes I've ever encountered. Darker, complex interior lives of seedy characters are Moshfegh's stock-in-trade but that murkiness shouldn't dissuade potential readers. It is a fearless, compulsively readable novel that reads as if it's on fire.” –Wes

This week, Moshfegh’s new short story collection, Homesick for Another World, is out. And if you think Eileen got a lot of attention, people have been chomping at the bit for this collection. Why? Because Moshfegh is particularly known for her short stories. She’s been published in The Paris Review, The New Yorker and Granta. Her short stories have earned her a Pushcart Prize, an O. Henry Award, the Plimpton Discovery Prize, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Moshfegh has been described as our Flannery O’Conner, which is saying something. (Basically that the stories will be weird and awesome.) So if you love a great short story, this collection is for you. If you’re new to short stories, Homesick for Another World is a good place to start. Wes described it as, “The weirdness and darkness of ‘Eileen’ ratcheted up to a ten, to all of our benefits.” 

He also sent me this gif, which I assume means, “this book is number one.” You’ll just have to judge for yourself.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Why, Eh? : Adventures of an Adult Reader

It's Perfectly Normal

A couple months ago I was thrown headfirst into the vast ocean that is YA reading. Instead of choking and drowning in the dark abyss ala Jack Dawson, I found myself happily treading water. Soon after,  I was wandering around the YA aisles when I saw the book A Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth. A wonderfully magnificent book that features a young gay girl as the protagonist.

WHAT? This exists?! My entire belief system was rocked. In all my time stumbling around on this earth I never once considered that there would be young adult books with queer protagonists. WHAT HAVE I BEEN MISSING ALL THIS TIME?!  I suddenly felt like Scrooge McDuck, but nicer. I just wanted to fill a room with these books and swim in them all day long whilst happily cackling to myself.

Growing up, finding any positive queer representation in any sort of media was hard enough, let alone in books. In fact, the first queer YA book was published in 1969, a year when homosexuality was still considered a mental disorder by the American Psychatric Association. LGBTQIA+ Americans were barred from government positions, and it was considered criminal in every state but Illinois. Since then the amount of YA queer books has grown from one a year in the 70s, to seven per year in the 90s, and now roughly 50 a year.

Before finding this paradise of inclusivity, much of the media I encountered featured queer characters and themes focusing on the pain and heartbreak that comes with being a gay kid. The general story was always that not everyone is accepting and there are garbage people out there, and sometimes they are the ones closest to you, and yeah it sucks. Its terrible and damaging and frightening and sad.

But these new YA books paint a different picture. They often include the character's "coming out" and their first same sex relationship and it's so cute and nostalgic it makes my teeth rot. The great thing about  reading these now, is seeing that it is seriously okay. You'll find your own family, and you'll find people who love and support you. With all the garbage happening lately, it's critical to show that not every queer story is a tragedy. When the real world is cruel to queer people, especially queer and trans people of color, then it seems even more important to imagine worlds where it is not. It is essential to carve out spaces where being queer and happy are not seen as mutually exclusive. Of course we need stories that represent our struggles, but we also need stories to nourish us, and to comfort us in times of grief and pain.

Living in a world, even an imaginary one, centered around heterosexual love perpetuates the false and frankly dangerous belief that heterosexulaity is the norm, and anything else is alien, strange, other. Instead of reinforcing this, we should be eradicating it. There is something immensely powerful in recognizing yourself in all types of media. Diversity in YA provides role models for marginalized teens, but also creates empathy for people different than ourselves. Empathy is such a powerful tool in the fight against intolerance and bigotry. These books help with learning what it means to be a social creature, to understand how and where we fit in society.

YA books are a  microcosm for our society, because they are geared toward the next generation. The changes in YA literature reflect changes in our world. And sexuality isn’t something that springs up on people in their mid twenties. Its something we are born with. When hormones kick in and we all start frantically trying to figure out how our bodies work, queer people are trying to figure out if their longings are important in addition to all the everyday angst. This shouldn't be something queer kids finally stumble upon in their 20s while researching for a blog post. This should be something they get to read about as they're experiencing it. Instead of leaving them out in the cold these books can show them that their longings are universal. They're not lonely or isolated, they're just like everyone else, and they belong.


Courtney's Ultimate List of the Queerest Books 

Everything Leads To You by Nina Lacour
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown
Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger
I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Far From You by Tess Sharpe
Bi-Normal by M.G Higgins
Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

I Am J by Cris Beam
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Boy Robot Simon Curtis

Brooklyn Burning by Steve Brezenoff
Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard

Double Exposure by Bridget Birdsall
None of The Above by I. W. Gregorio

Guardian of The Dead by Karen Healey
How To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford