Staff Recommendations from Elliott Bay

Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other: In Praise of Adoption by Scott Simon (Random House)

Scott Simon’s love letter to his daughters (both adopted from China) celebrates the joy of international adoption without ignoring some of its tougher realities. He shares his own story and that of other families (adoptees, adoptive families, some birth parents) emphasizing that he is grateful for the daughters he and his wife so love. Charming. –Karen


Science Fiction & Fantasy For A Saturday Afternoon: The Giants of the Genres Unleash New Series Titles…

…and we continue to wait—hopefully not for much longer—for George R.R. Martin’s A Dance with Dragons.


We heard rumblings earlier this month from New York Comic Con’s Del Rey/Spectra Panel that Martin was close to finishing A Dance with Dragons (the fifth book in the epic A Song of Ice and Fire Series) and that the manuscript would hopefully be turned in by Christmas. This is a welcome development for Martin’s legion of adoring fans—I count myself among them—who have been waiting, some more patiently than others, almost four years for the book. Regardless of the time frame for the release of Dragons, Martin’s fans will be treated to the the live action version of the books, slated to premiere in the spring of 2011 on HBO. And if you haven’t begun the trek through Martin’s world of Westeros, be sure to pick up A Game of Thrones and enter his epic world of medieval moral ambiguity where good does not necessarily triumph over evil.

Thankfully, there will be no dearth of great science fiction and fantasy series to keep us company through the long winter hibernation. Plenty of great authors have new and upcoming releases that transport us back into, or introduce us to, the fantastical worlds of their creation…


Science Fiction

Evolutionary Void by Peter F. Hamilton

An innovator praised as one of the inventors of “the new space opera,” Peter F. Hamilton has also been hailed as the heir of such golden-age giants as Heinlein and Asimov. Now, in one of the most eagerly anticipated offerings of the year, Hamilton brings his acclaimed Void trilogy to a stunning close.

The series begins with The Dreaming Void.


All Clear by Connie Willis

In Blackout, award-winning author Connie Willis returned to the time-traveling future of 2060—the setting for several of her most celebrated works—and sent three Oxford historians to World War II England. Now the situation has grown even more dire. Small discrepancies in the historical record seem to indicate that one or all of them have somehow affected the past, changing the outcome of the war. The belief that the past can be observed but never altered has always been a core belief of time-travel theory—but suddenly it seems that the theory is horribly, tragically wrong.


Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks

It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters. It begins with a murder. And it will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself.

Lededje Y’breq is one of the Intagliated, her marked body bearing witness to a family shame, her life belonging to a man whose lust for power is without limit. Prepared to risk everything for her freedom, her release, when it comes, is at a price. To to put things right she will need the help of the Culture.

Experience the first culture novel, Consider Phlebas.


Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold

Kibou-daini is a planet obsessed with cheating death. Barrayaran Imperial Auditor Miles Vorkosigan can hardly disapprove—he’s been cheating death his whole life, on the theory that turnabout is fair play. But when a Kibou-daini cryocorp—an immortal company whose job it is to shepherd its all-too-mortal frozen patrons into an unknown future—attempts to expand its franchise into the Barrayaran Empire, Emperor Gregor dispatches his top troubleshooter Miles to check it out.

Begin with the omnibus Cordelia’s Honor, or you can buy Cryoburn; the book contains a CD-ROM with the entire series right at your fingertips.



Against All Things Ending by Stephen R. Donaldson

The long-awaited sequel to The Runes of the Earth and Fatal Revenant returns readers to the Land-and unravels some of the mysteries haunting Thomas Covenant and Linden Avery.

Lord Foul’s Bane begins the The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever.



The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Widely acclaimed for his work completing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time saga, Brandon Sanderson now begins a grand cycle of his own, one every bit as ambitious and immersive.

The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.


Dreadnought by Cherie Priest

The third book in Priest’s Clockwork Century series, Dreadnought takes place in the same universe as the award winning Boneshaker; the story is unrelated but set in the same universe and features characters from the previous two novels (Boneshaker and Clementine)  in side roles.



Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

(Book Will be released on November 2, pre-order available)

This penultimate novel of Robert Jordan’s #1 New York Times bestselling series–the second of three based on materials he left behind when he died in 2007–brings dramatic and compelling developments to many threads in the Pattern. The end draws near.

The Wheel of Time series begins with The Eye of the World.


-Casey S.


All review material courtesy of IndieBound.

Not Your Mama’s YA: A Manifesto

Contemporary young adult books are not the innocuous literature of my youth. This modern genre can be unapologetic, raw and straight-forward. Tackling a wide-breadth of issues that books of the past were banned (or even burned!) for even attempting (i.e. abuse, addiction, sexual identity, race relations and family dysfunctions), current YA lit handles it all with panache and insight. It is no wonder to me then that teenagers aren’t the only ones devouring books like Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games and Ellen Hopkin’s verse novel, Crank.

Whether we admit it or not, whether we like it or not, adolescence is one of the most pivotal time in our lives. For many of us, it’s when we take our first step out of our ego-centric bubble and begin to discover our place in the world. It’s the time when we break from our parents and begin deciding for ourselves, when we feel the bright, nauseating flash of romance for the first time. It’s our time to make mistakes and see what comes of the mess. After the emotional explosion of our burgeoning self-hood, adulthood can seem so dull.

As an adult, I have read more YA books than when I was actually part of the demographic, and I know I’m not alone. The purity of the stories, the riveting action and unabashed romance catch me every single time and keep me reading until I’m bleary eyed.

Below is a list of some of my recent favorites of the genre which have startled me with their depth.


The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

In this sophisticated sci-fi series, the two main characters are forced to grow up quickly and begin making decisions that affect not only themselves, but the whole world. And they don’t always do the “right” thing.



Graceling by Kristen Cashore

As a Graceling Katsa has the power to hurt, even kill people. When a power-hungry king decides to use her as a mercenary, Katsa must make the most difficult and dangerous decision of her life.



Unwind by Neal Shusterman

While abortion is illegal in Shusterman’s futuristic thriller, parents may chose to unwind their juvenile delinquent teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17. Oh, it’s not murder, as all the parts of your unruly child will be harvested and dispersed to people in need.


Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

A dark fairy-tale about motherhood, disappointed hopes and, above all, the liberating power of transformation. Taking inspiration from the German fairytales “Snow White and Rose Red” and “Bearskin”, Lanagan has created something beautiful and new and powerful.


The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney (released on Nov. 2)

In a prep-school where the students are expected to be perfect, where the teachers take a proud, but detached stance, The Mockingbirds, a secret committee, take the law into their own hands.



Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Andi, a teenage girl  living in Modern-day Brooklyn, grapples with her guilt over the death of her little brother. When she discovers the journal of Alexandrine, a young woman living through the French Revolution, Alex becomes obsessed with discovering the girl’s fate. Excellent writing and pitch-perfect research make this a riveting read for any audience.


Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I’m going to say this right away: this book opens with a suicide. Yes, I cried a lot. It’s very sad. But, just as it is difficult to read it, I argue that it is important to read it. On 13 sides of seven cassette tapes, a young girl lists the reasons and implicates the people whose actions led her to her ultimate decision.



Stay Vigilant…Monsters Are Coming

Autumn. That time of the year dedicated to enjoying warm cider and watching the leaves on the trees turn to calming shades of yellow and brown. A season for warm sweaters, chilly winds, and shambling legions of undead. Vampires stalk the streets while tragically cursed werewolves roam the fields. So this year, as Halloween slowly creeps up on us, enjoy a few of these spine tingling volumes that just may save your life…


Pariah by Bob Fingerman

After a devastating zombie outbreak, a small group of slowly starving survivors begin to think that the victims who died early were the lucky ones. Just as all seems lost, hope arrives in the form of a mysterious girl who is able to move freely through the hordes of undead. But how can these survivors rest easy around someone who repulses even flesh eating monsters?


Four Color Fear edited by Greg Sadowski

EC Comics weren’t the only game in town when it came to terrifying children with tales of misery and gore in the 1950’s. Collected here are some of the best stories from a bygone era known for its creepy goodness.




Werewolves and Shapeshifters edited by John Skipp

Following up last year’s wonderful collection of undead tales, Zombies, John Skipp has turned his attention to creatures that are a little less rotten but a lot more hairy. Featuring new tales of body altering horror as well as classic stories that will (I’m sorry for this) leave you howling at the moon, this is an anthology not to be missed.


Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman

Before you watch the premier of AMC’s new television show based on this fantastic comic series check out the original story about a group of tired people trying to find a place to settle down after a horrifying zombie plague wipes out most of humanity.




Honors and Awards: a 5 Under 35 Selection Reads at Elliott Bay this Thursday, October 7

‘Tis the season for book awards, honors, and distinctions. This week is scheduled to include the Nobel Prize in Literature announcement on Thursday, October 7, and Friday, October 8 will see the presentation of the Washington State Book Awards at The Seattle Central Public Library.

First things first: what has been announced is the National Book Foundation’s annual “5 Under 35” list of writers and their most recent books. This year’s honorees include Tiphanie Yanique, who will be reading at Elliott Bay this Thursday, October 7 at 7 p.m., from her captivating debut, How to Escape from a Leper Colony: A Novella and Stories (Graywolf Press), along with Jessica Kane. This is a book of stories set mostly in the Caribbean; it’s a beautifully-written work.

Others to get the “5 Under 35” nod include Téa Obreht, who was also selected for The New Yorker’s “Best 20 under 40” issue, and who is due here in March 2011 when her debut novel, The Tiger’s Wife (Random House), is published; Grace Krilanovich, author of the Northwest-set novel, The Orange Eats Creeps (Two Dollar Radio); Sarah Braunstein, author of The Sweet Relief of Missing Children (W.W. Norton); and Paul Yoon, whose 2009 book is Once the Shore (Sarabande). -Rick

Thanks For Your Submissions!

The “Name Our Blog” Contest is over, and we thank you for your great ideas. We’re currently going over your submissions, and we’ll announce the winner of the $30 gift certificate on Monday.

Until then some book articles to tide you over…

When I’m in the Mood for Fiction by Kevin Hartnett (Millions Blog)

Where Did the Decadent Novel Go? by John Lucas (Guardian Books Blog)

Big Think interviews Margaret Atwood

J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ Might Finally be Coming to Screens by Carolyn Kellog (L.A. Times Books)

What You Did Last Summer (A review of the Darin Strauss memoir) by Paul Constant (the Stranger) Darin Strauss visits the bookstore @ 7 pm this evening