This Week’s Mine Shaft

From the deep, dark depths of the mine shaft, we emerge with this week’s sparkly book highlights – new books, cool books, see if any catch your eye. They sure caught ours.

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A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Book 14 of the Wheel of Time

Epic Fantasy

This book needs no introduction. After 23 years, the epic Wheel of Time series is finally at an end. A Memory of Light doesn’t even appear to have an official blurb – just a reminder of the fact that Brandon Sanderson took on the series after Robert Jordan passed away. Oh, and this poem:

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass.
What was, what will be, and what is,
May yet fall under the Shadow.
Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

Those who have stuck with this tale since the beginning are sure to be entranced. And, for people like me who don’t believe in starting series that have no clear end (*cough* Game of Thrones *cough*), we can finally catch up with the rest of the world. Continue reading

[Small Chirps] Books on the January Big Screen

This month’s book-inspired set of movies sure are a violent lot – but with stories that are as intriguing as they are graphic. From LA gangsters to shotgun-toting fairy-tale characters, this month has a lot of exciting movie fare to offer.

Gangster Squad

Release Date: January 11

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/03/Gangster_Squad_Poster.jpgA cast doesn’t get much more star-studded than this. Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Nick Nolte and Sean Penn round out the cast of this gangster-sort-of-buddy-cop movie based on an eight-part LA Times series written by journalist Paul Lieberman, who expanded his true-life story in the book, Gangster Squad. The movie takes place in 1950s, when the streets of LA were overrun by gang wars. To combat the illegal underground, LAPD created their own gangster squad, cops where selected to work outside the law in order to bring peace back to the City of Angels.

I expect from the trailer alone that it will be a fairly violent film (how could it not be with a plot like that?), but for anyone who loves LA Noir or hardboiled detective novels like those of Dashiell Hammett, this movie should be right up your alley. Continue reading

This Week’s Mine Shaft

What new releases are the canaries eyeing this first week of the new year?

Altered by Jennifer Rush

YA SciFi/Adventure/Romance

They were made to forget. But they’ll never forgive.

An ominous tagline paired with a smexy cover? I’m in. Anna’s life is strange to say the least. Her father works for a secret (government?) company, The Branch, and his latest project included hording genetically altered teenage boys in a lab below their farmhouse. And, as any father who has a holding pen of teenage boys should anticipate, Anna falls for one of them – Sam. When The Branch comes to take the boys away, Anna finds herself on the run with them as an even darker secret is revealed: the person The Branch really wants is Anna herself.

Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton

Science Fiction/Murder Mystery

Great North Road is billed as a science fiction murder mystery with a hefty does of political thriller.  Most writers likely wouldn’t be able to pull off so many genre descriptors, but Hamilton has proven to be more than up to the task. A current master of the space opera genre, Hamilton has a knack of weaving together a loom-worth of threads, making for exciting, satisfying reads. Such thread weaving also makes it nearly impossible to describe the plot concisely, but here’s a shot at it: Continue reading

[Small Chirp] Watch the First Four Minutes of Warm Bodies

Somewhere along the line, I became completely obsessed with zombies. I guess it’s not entirely surprising; the only thing that scares me more than zombies are sharks, and I eagerly anticipate the Discover Channel’s “Shark Week” with rabid fervor. The gateway drug that was Feed has extrapolated into a full-blown addiction.

And that’s why I let out a squeal when I heard that Fandango had a sneak peek at the first four minutes of “Warm Bodies,” the quirky teen romance based on the book by Isaac Marion. I have to say, after the video, I’m even more excited about the film. Continue reading

[Book Watching] Not Your Typical Hobbit

It’s been years since I read The Hobbit. I considered doing so before the movie, but then realized that since the films would be stretched over three years, I might as well wait for a bit because I’ll forget the end again by the time the final installment in the trilogy came out. As a result, I couldn’t tell if scenes were actually made up in the movie or if I’d just misremembered the book so poorly.

“Was Saruman in The Hobbit?” I asked my roommate as we were leaving.

“No!” she – a rabid Hobbit/Lord of the Rings fan – replied. “No! They were just making stuff up!”

So not just me, then. Continue reading

[Small Chirp] Suzanne Collins’ Next Book is….a Children’s Book?

When I woke to an email proclaiming ‘Suzanne Collins’ Next Book Called “A Year in the Jungle,” I did a little happy dance, my brain immediately spouting off with images of YA heroes racing around in some foreign land, fighting all sorts of beasties in a tropical jungle while a war rages on and –

And then I saw this cover.

And then I had to decide whether or not I was allowed to get annoyed at someone for writing a picture book.

The new story, which is illustrated by Jame Proimos, is autobiographical, detailing Collins’ own experience as a child while her father was in fighting in Vietnam. She offered her inspiration for the story: Continue reading

[Small Chirps] A Flow Chart for Hipsters

If the number one rule of hipsterdom is you like things that are cool before anyone else realizes they are cool then any and all genre readers are the ultimate hispsters – right? Who liked Harry Potter before the rest of world did? Yep, that was us, sitting in our own little world, praying for our letter from Hogwarts. The same goes for Game of Thrones; my friends have been talking about their love/hate of the series for a full decade. Everyone else is really late to the party.

As a result, we genre readers are more inclined to go out on a limb and try the next crazy book. But if we love that book, it’s not always easy to find a follow up. Luckily, our friends over at Goodreads have done the heavy lifting for us. They created this fancy flow chart to guide the hispter along to his or her next read. Take a look at it below. And don’t forget to vote in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2012!

Top Five: Literary Wizards

Who doesn’t want to be a wizard? In that secret little place in our hearts – the place that still thinks the admissions letter from Hogwarts might come in the mail at any moment – there’s an undying dream that one day we might discover that we can wield magic. And while we’re waiting for our powers to kick in, we consume everything there is to know about our comrades in books about magical escapades. Wizards abound in literature right now, making reading a magical event indeed.

We bring you the Canary collection of top wizards in literature.

Honorable Mention:

Septimus Heap, from the Magik series by Angie Sage

Something about this young wizard is so intriguing. It may be Sage’s straightforward writing style, but the no-nonsense, always-ready-to-do-right and eager-to-prove Septimus is just so dang endearing. The reading level is fairly low – I’d say a precocious fifth grader could tackle the books just fine – and he is a great introduction to the wizarding world. Continue reading

[Small Chirp] When Worlds Get in the Way

The world of Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy is mind-bogglingly original. It recasts World War I as a battle between nations wielding steampunk warmachines and living beasts. The two protagonists, Alek, the on-the-run heir to an empire, and Deryn, a girl disguised as a male solider and the strongest female hero this side of Holly Short, have a will-they-won’t-they relationship of Austenian proportions.

When I first read the books, I couldn’t stop extolling the vibrancy of the world that Westerfeld had created. Every person who stood still long enough got an earful of the dashing adventures aboard the living airship, the Leviathan, and the delightfully infuriating manner in which Westerfeld strings along Deryn’s secret life as Alek hovers ever closer to the truth. Just look at the trailer! How could you not want to dive into the book?

My mother got the biggest dose of my Leviathan mania during daily phone calls. And at the time I was devouring the books, we were also in the midst of selecting new books for our book club — and it was Mom who suggested that I throw Leviathan into the ring. And I laughed at her until I realized she was serious, that she’d been drawn into the stories by my never-ending praise. Continue reading

[Small Chirp] Vote in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2012!

Canaries, it is that wonderful time of year. Lights are twinkling in trees, your favorite series are coming out in brand new box sets in time for the present-giving season, and a top ten list of 2012 is being compiled for everything from best fashion to the best new characters on fall TV. And most importantly for us, the round-up for the best of 2012 books is just beginning. And you have a chance to take part in the festivities by voting in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2012.

What started as a behemoth list of every book published this year has become 10 books in each of the 20 different categories, from fiction to cookbooks. One neat facet of this year’s layout is that a small right-hand navigation bar tells you if any of the books on your Goodreads shelves appear in the lists  – making it easy for you to pop in and vote for your favorites. Continue reading