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A working librarian and library student who spends too much time reading shares all she has read. She is not genre specific, but her job makes her heavy on children's and YA.
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1. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel Robin Sloan

When Clay is downsized out of his web design job, he gets a job as the night clerk at a 24-hour bookstore that has a weird backlist--books written entirely in code. The only main customers are ones who come in with a secret code, return one of the backlist titles and ask for another. Only those with the code can access the backlist and Clay has to write an extensive journal entry about it. In order to impress a cute girl from Google (and to stay entertained) Clay decides to do a 3D data map of the journals and he discovers that there’s a pattern to what books are being asked for, and the pattern makes a face. He and his tech friends then try to get computers to decode the books, which sets off an adventure and a discovery of a secret ancient society that they’re about to seriously disrupt.

On one level it’s a good exploration of old v new, print v tech, in the book world, with no real answers. On the other, it’s a fun read with romance, adventure, and a side-kick. I like how Clay actively recruits a side-kick and a wizard from his friends as they go on their quest (he reserves the role of rogue for himself.) And a good dose of poking fun of the early Millenials/late Gen-Xers of San Fransisco. There’s a lot of food for thought, but in a way that’s not heavy.

I loved it.

Oh, also, an Outstanding Book for the College Bound. And the cover glows in the dark.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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2. Dead Man's Knock

The Unwritten Vol. 3: Dead Man's Knock Mike Carey, Peter Gross, Ryan Kelly

So, there’s a new Tommy Taylor book coming, and it’s terrible. But will Wilson Taylor show, or is this just a cabal ploy to get to Tom? Either way, this is one book release party with a body count.

Also, who is Lizzie? Is she really escaped from Dickens?

And here’s where I started to get a better sense of what, exactly is happening in this world, and it wasn’t really what I thought it would be, which is awesome. I like how it explores Lizzie’s backstory with a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure type issue (although it was really hard to read by booklight!)

Oh, and Richie becomes a vampire.

It's hard to talk about this one without giving it all away. But mostly, this is the one where it starts to make sense and where I really started getting into the series.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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3. Strobe Edge

Strobe Edge Io Sakisaka

I’m just going to review this entire (finished) series because I devoured them all together and it’s too hard for me to separate out each volume, especially as the review part (as opposed to the plot summary part) would basically be a copy/paste job from one volume to the next.

All the girls at Ninako’s school are in love with the quiet and elusive (and totally hot) Ren, but he’s turned them all down. Ninako doesn’t get it, until she ends up next to him on the train home one day. They end up together on the train a lot and become friends, until Ninako’s feelings turn to something more.

Ren rejects Ninanko romantically, because he already has a girlfriend, but the two stay friends as she tries to quash her feelings. Meanwhile, Ren’s former best friend has come to their school and falls for Ninanko. She likes Ando as a friend, but can’t return his love.

I loved Ninanko. She was a little hyper and a lot of fun. She's a bit taken aback when guys like her, but not because of a "but I'm so plain and boring" thing we usually see, but more that she's been too busy being awesome and having fun that she hasn't really noticed guys in that way before, so she's a bit bemused that guys have been noticing her. but she's a great friend and has a good outlook on life--it's not hard for the reader (and her friends) to see why guys like her.

I also like that she actually liked Ren in a way we don’t often see. So halfway through the series, Ren and his girlfriend break up (for reasons I won’t spoil). Everyone tells Ninanko to go for it because now’s her chance, but she doesn’t, because she see Ren’s hurting and he needs her as a friend right then. She really did understand Ren (because they were actual friends) and her love for him isn’t selfishly focused on her--it’s genuine love for him.

I also liked the depth that Sakisaka was able to give to some of the side characters (something you can do over 10 volumes). There are a few bonus stories at the end of volumes that often deal with side characters or something that happened before the series began.

In her many intro letters, Sakisaka says she wanted to capture that heady feeling of falling in love and that moment everything could change (she called the series strobe edge because she compares the feeling to being on the edge of a strobe light, which I really like.) Overall, I think she really succeeds. The series does drag a bit in the middle, which is something I may not have noticed if I hadn’t been binge-reading.

One thing I noticed with this series that I haven’t seen with others* is that we get a lot of letters from the author--both at the start of each volume, but also some random sidebars. I thought it was a fun touch and a behind-the-scenes look at her process and life.

Overall, a fun series that I enjoyed. (Also, shout-out to Drea, who when I asked her which of the Great Graphic Novels for Teens I should read first, pointed me in this direction. THANK YOU DREA!)

*Not that I’ve read a lot of other manga, especially shojo, this just might be a new thing for me

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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4. Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue

Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue Tom Angleberger

When we last saw our origami alliance, fighting against the FunTime(™) menace, Rabbski had promised to “look into it” but it’s been weeks and nothing has changed. But this time, someone has taken the case file and given it to Principal Rabbski. With her own origami finger puppet.

Yes, Principal Rabbski IS Princess Leia (what?!). Whoever gave the case file to Rabbski knows that she did not force FunTime(™) on the school--she’s another victim, but whoever did it also knows that the case file is the only way for Rabbski to see that the Rebel Alliance isn’t fighting this just to fighting this, but to show they they have very real concerns and they’re trying to address in the most responsible way they can.

As we saw with Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett, this is a series that continues to grow really well and is just getting consistently stronger, which I didn’t think possible, but bam! there it is. I also like how it explored the deeper issue. The kids (and I think most of target-audience readers) would see this thing as imposed by Rabbski, because she's the highest authority they see, but she answers to someone else, and it's a good lesson/reminder that when it comes to educational policy, not a lot of it is set at the school level. (Also, I LOVE the tweets from the actors in FunTime(™).)

Oh... coming out in a few weeks is Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus, the LAST book in the series.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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5. Time of Your Life

Time of Your Life (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, Vol. 4) Joss Whedon, Karl Moline, Jeff Loeb

Ok, so somehow I skipped reviewing this one.

Buffy and Willow are trying to figure out the scythe and Buffy somehow* ends up propelled into the future, where once again, there is only 1 slayer a generation. Buffy’s trying to figure out where everything went wrong to get back to that point (plus, how to get home) but she’s walking into a trap of a Big Bad that we’ve seen before. This time though, the ending is devastating. (This is also apparently a crossover with Fray, which is a Whedon comic I’ve never read, so I can’t speak to how to works on that side, but if you didn’t know it was a crossover, you’d never be able to tell.)

Meanwhile, back in the present, Twilight attacks the Scottish fortress that Buffy and Co. have the hanging out in.

It was a weird diversion of a comic because even though Twilight attacks, it still seems a little more “Monster of the Week” rather than over-reaching story arc. But, as I write this, I have read the rest of this season (heck, I even have the reviews written for the rest) and I can see its place a little more. Something I’ll start pointing out more is that overall, this season deals really well with the consequences of Buffy’s actions. And this gives Buffy a glimpse of the long-term consequences and she has to try to figure out how her future actions may mitigate going back to a “chosen one” Slayer lifestyle. That said, this is probably the weakest volume in Season 8.

*mystical magical convergence oddities

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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6. Hypothetical Box Curator: Summer Reading

If I had a subscription box service, this month's theme would be Summer Reading, and here's what you would get:



Personal Library Kit so you can lend your favorites to your friends in style (and know who to bug to get them back!)



This Superfudge shirt from Out of Print Clothing to wear your reading pride, even when you aren't actually reading.



This "Feeling Austentatious" tote bag from the awesome people at Forever Young Adult so you can tote your books to your favorite summer reading spot.



Moleskine Book Journal to help keep track of everything you read.



Two Moons in August by Martha Brooks-- a perfect summer book that I reread every summer.

Check out the Pinterest board for more Summer Reading Goodness!

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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7. Keeping Organized

I am a complete and utter scatter brain, but I have a lot of responsibility and stuff to do in my professional and personal life. Organization is the only way I stay on top of things and am at all functional.

A few weeks ago, the #readadv chat was on how we stay organized. People were pretty interested in each other's systems and wanted more in-depth info than Twitter really allows. Kelly kicked off some posts here for people to share their systems.

People seemed especially interested in Bullet Journaling, which is my personal system. Here's how I do it. (Followed by why it works for me, and how I organize my reading and blogging, too.)

When I was working and in grad school, I swore by the BusyBodyBook planner, but they no longer make them. I loved the columns for different aspects of my life (work/school/blog/LIFE) and I tried a few other things since then, but nothing that I loved as much. I started doing Bullet Journaling this spring and LOVE IT.

So, if you are unfamiliar with the concept of Bullet Journaling, read all about it here or watch this video.

One of the things I love about this system is that it's very flexible. It's incredibly easy to modify it to fit your needs. I don't like how he does calendars, because I need the visual of a typical calendar, so I printed some out and taped them in:


Also, I need to do a certain amount of pre-planning, so I do a few months at a time, and then have another list for events further out. The calendar print-outs are a free download from the Organised Housewife. I like that they have the to-do list on the side of monthly things. I also have a "master to-do" list for things I'm thinking about (like winter holiday presents I want to make, or very long-range projects that are still percolating, or little things that don't have a definite timeline like scheduling a fall dentist appointment.)

I also use a modified version of this key:


(I found it on Pinterest and it doesn't link to anywhere. Does anyone know who created this key? It's GENIUS and I'd love to give full credit.) The big thing I modify is, much like a c and e in the box for "call"/"email" I have a t for "text" and an r for "review" I especially love the half-filled box for things I worked on, but didn't finish. I do break projects into smaller steps, and do that in my journal, but it some steps just take a really long time. I also use the half-shaded box for things I need feedback on, like I needed to talk to someone, but they weren't in, so I just left them a voice mail. The half box lets me know that I may need to follow-up and try again later, but I don't need to worry about it for awhile.

Here's my page from yesterday:


You'll see some other things I modify on my daily pages. I the bottom I have section called "5 things" where I try to write down 5 good things about the day, every day. This is really helpful in combating some of my own personal negativity. I also track my water intake.

For all of this, I use extra-large Moleskine Cahier with gridded paper The extra-large gives me enough room each day, and the gridded paper just lends it self really well to all my to-do squares. I like the cahier because it has a soft cover, which makes it easier to decorate. I embroidered my current one:


To mark important pages, such as the master list, and the current daily page, I use large colored paperclips, as they're easy to move around and won't rip off in my purse:


I change pen colors every day, so I know if notes were made on the same day, or later. My currently into the Le Pen, because it's a slim line felt-tip that won't leak through a thin Moleskine page and comes in good colors. I also like the Sharpie Fine Point Pen for similar reasons (but it's harder to wash off when you accidentally draw on yourself. Not that I ever do that. Nope. Not me.)

So, this system works for me because it combines everything into one place that I can easily move around with me. My meeting notes are next to my schedule and easy to find again to follow up on. I can easily write down hilarious things my daughter said and other things that happened in a day. I can add in pages for projects or brainstorming that are easily accessible. I like that one days I'm not doing anything, I don't have to make a page--I don't have random blank pages or "wasted" space.I like that I can change it whenever I need or want to. The table of contents at the beginning is so basic, but it works SO WELL. I know some people don't like having to number the pages, but I just do it every time I make a new page--no big deal. I really like the key system because it's neater than crossing something off while still having the same level of satisfaction. It also works really well with the GTD system of time-management (I don't do full GTD, but I do parts of it, including just doing tasks that are under 2 minutes, and breaking down projects into steps and only worrying about the one in front of you.)

I also do Inbox 0 at work. It keeps me from missing important messages and quickly shows me what needs to be done. I don't do this at home.

I also have an entire Pinterest board for this subject, full of ideas and things for planners and organizing (including awesome sticky notes and notebooks).

Now, how do I track my reading and reviewing? Like I mentioned above, I modified the key so there's a symbol for call, email, text, and review. I try to review library books before they're due back and am pretty good about it. I try to review books I own shortly after reading, with less success. I tend not to schedule my reviews or review to a date unless I'm reviewing for someone else (RT Book Reviews and School Library Journal have deadlines, for instance) or a blog tour. Deadlines go on the calendar and get exclamation points on the daily list.

I keep track of my reading in a notebook. I have them dating back to spring of 2006 and printed lists going back to 2003, but wish I had kept track of stuff previous to that! Here's what my notebook looks like:


It's pretty simple. Month, title, author. A check mark once it's been reviewed on the blog, or the review has been linked to on the blog.

To do more in-depth review tracking, I use a Google spreadsheet that I update every few months.


Month and year help me cross-reference with the paper book. You'll see I'm full of typos and shorthand for titles--as long as I know what book I'm referring to, I'm good. Then there's the column I can mark if a review has been written. I have a giant Google doc for reviews. I then edit/update/polish when I paste them into Blogger to preschedule/post. Then I have a notes field, where I can write when things are prescheduled for (if it's further out than the next week or two--I use this a lot with ARCs as I tend to post reviews on pub date or only a day or two before), if it's a review that's posting elsewhere, if it's a committee book so reviews need to be held, or modified, or just not done (depends on the committee regulations/policies), if I have notes on it but no review, etc etc etc. It's pretty basic, but it does what I need it to do. Once a review is posted, I delete that line, so the sheet ONLY tracks outstanding reviews.


Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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8. The Taming of the Tights

The Taming of the Tights Louise Rennison

Tallulah is back at school, ready to put Cain and the kissing behind her. Even if Charlie has a girlfriend. She also has bigger issues--Dother Hall is still very financially unstable and while it’s not in danger of closing, it is very much in danger of falling down. And while Sidonie recognizes Tallulah’s talent, not everyone else does and the more she tries to prove herself, the more hilariously she fails in the eyes of her teachers (but never to us, dear reader.) And there is still the Cain thing. Tallulah may be willing to ignore the kissing, but Cain has no problem telling others about it.

I love Tallulah and her craziness. I like that only some of her drama is self-invented. I love the insanity that is Dother Hall and the Dobbinses and the Tree Sisters and her fun size pal and the crazy dog Ruby. Overall, very hilariously funny. I don’t think it gets near as much love as Georgia, which is too bad.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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9. Sex Criminals: One Weird Trick

Sex Criminals Volume 1: One Weird Trick Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

Suzie works at a library that’s about to be foreclosed on. While at a fundraising party to try to save it, she meets a guy she likes and they sleep together. It’s only in the afterglow that Suzie discovers that Jon shares her secret--after orgasms, time stops until she’s ready to go again. When she sleeps with Jon, they’re in trapped time together (she calls it The Quiet. He calls it Cumworld.) Jon works at the bank that’s foreclosing on Suzie’s library and hates it. So… why not make the best of their talents in order to rob the bank so they can give the money back in the form of the library’s mortgage payment?

My brother-in-law has a comic book store and last time I was visiting them, my sister was SO EXCITED about this series, so I was excited when the omnibus showed up.

I love the premise and it’s executed so well. Suzie narrates and it goes between the present and the past, and how she figured out about The Quiet. It’s really funny and a great introduction to a world that I want to know more about (Jon and Suzie aren’t the only ones with this talent, and they will get caught breaking the rules, even if time is standing still.) I also love the artwork when time’s standing still, so you know what’s going on. But most of all, I love Suzie. I love that she robs banks to save her library. I love her voice. I love the idea of her as a librarian. She isn't mousey and quiet, isn't too in-your-face cool. She is very cool, and very committed to books and research and helping people who came in to find their information--reminds me of a lot of the librarians I know and love. It was nice to see in pop culture.

I also like the back matter for this one. In addition to the regular offerings of page/cover sketches and rejects that we usually get in omnibus back matter, this had some great stuff on process, and the complete brain-storm list of made up positions.

Obviously, with this premise, it’s an adult title. But while the gimmick is lewd, the execution is beautiful and the actual story is worth digging into--there’s definitely some there there.

Cannot wait to read more.


Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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10. Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy

Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy Elizabeth Kiem

Marina may be a teen in the Soviet Union, but her mother is the country’s premier prima ballerina, so her family lives in privilege. Marina herself trains for the Bolshoi. Like her mother, she sometimes sees visions. These visions cause problems when, on the eve of Breshnev’s death, her mother sees something she shouldn’t--one of the USSR’s dark secrets about testing biological weapons* that gets her taken away.

Suddenly, it’s not safe anymore. Marina and her father must leave quickly, and end in Brighton Beach where her scientist father struggles to find a job and a way to rescue his wife. All Marina wants to do is dance, and her father is convinced this will help him make contact with the KGB so they can negotiate. Meanwhile, he gets tangled in with the Russian Mob as Marina tries to lead a normal life in a new country while fearing for her father’s safety and sanity.

I really liked this one and Marina’s father’s mental descent. You could see why he thought the things he thought, while still seeing how wrong they were. I liked how the romance was handled. Marina likes Ben, whose parents also escaped the USSR, but he has a girlfriend, Lindsay. Marina and Lindsay are also friends, and while it’s complicated, and slightly heartbreaking, it’s not overly dramatic and the way the characters handled it made me really like and respect them. Lindsay often didn’t know what she was talking about, especially when it came to the KGB and the Mob, but she was a really good friend and a great character.

I do think it needs an end note. Teens today don’t understand Soviet communism and the Cold War. (And trying to explain the terror of the Cold War to kids who’ve grown up in a world of terrorism and suicide bombers is really heart-breakingly hard.) Heck, when this came out a librarian only a few years younger than me was confused about what was so scary about that time. I also wanted to know if the testing episode that Marina’s mother knew about was real. It’s real in the book and seems more than plausible to me. A quick google doesn’t turn anything up, but was it based on other incidents?

I’m also not sure the paranormal psychic-vision thing was necessary. It was the lynch-pin as to why Marina’s mother was taken, and Marina’s visions added some moody foreshadowing, but there might have been another way for Marina’s mother to find out about the testing and made the book straight historical fiction, which would have made it stronger. 99% of the book is realistic historical fiction, and it’s tricky, because it’s a time period that many adults (read: parents and other gatekeepers) remember living through, but many readers (read: teens) don’t know much about, and the 1% that is paranormal makes the rest of the story easier to dismiss as “pure fiction.”

Overall though, I did really like it. It’s hard to go wrong with something that involves the KGB, the FBI, the Russian mob, and ballet. And, as someone who has very vivid memories of the end of the Cold War, I am loving all the YA fiction we’re seeing now about it. (Plus, not a book, and not for teens, but let’s just think for a minute how awesome The Americans is.)


Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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11. Inside Man

The Unwritten Vol. 2: Inside Man Mike Carey and Peter Gross

We open with a scene from “Song of Roland” and then switch to Tom’s legal issues as he’s being tried for the murders at his father’s villa. There he meets a fellow inmate/embedded journalist. Meanwhile, Lizzie is asking books questions and they’re answering back. Frankenstein’s monster shows up, and when the Cabal attacks the prison that’s holding Tom, the results are disastrous for everyone. At the end, we get a comic about someone (from the cabal?) trapped as a bunny in a fairly insipid children’s story, desperate to escape.

I love how they incorporate Song of Roland into this. I still have no idea what, exactly, is going on, but I’m really enjoying trying to figure it out and I assume it’ll make sense at some point.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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12. Predators and Prey

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Vol. 5: Predators and Prey Joss Whedon et al.

Harmony gets a reality show and when a loner slayer tries to stake her on camera, the world turns against the slayers and is suddenly very pro-vamp. Meanwhile, Giles and Faith walk into a trap, Andrew’s plans have backfired with major consequences, and we wrap up Dawn’s mystical enchantment storyline. Oh, and there are some very cute, and very evil, stuffed animals that may just destroy the world.

As annoying as Harmony is, she's a great character (in small doses). I love the fact that she's the one that turns the world pro-vamp, I mean, OF COURSE SHE DOES. The cute, evil, stuff animal story line is pretty funny.

BUT BUT BUT

Best part about Harmony’s return? She’s hanging out with Clem, so Clem’s back. I love Clem. CLEM.


Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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13. Hypothetical Box Curator: Garden Party

I love subscription boxes. The Kung Fu Princess's birthday was this week (3!) and my parents signed her up for Kiwi Crate. I'm a user of Birchbox and Ipsy (let me know if you want invites) and am currently lusting after a For the Makers subscription. I'm also part of WORDs of Love club and BookRiot's Riot Read (and lusting after their Quarterly box). I love getting monthly packages in the mail and opening them up to see the surprises inside.

So, just for fun, I thought it would be fun to put together a hypothetical monthly box. SO, if I had a monthly box, here's what you'd be getting in June...

I love a good garden party--something fancier than a normal cookout, with a cute dress or suit jacket and wine and cocktails and heavy h'ordeuvres. So, this box will help you with all your garden party needs...



Tanto Tempo by Bebel Gilberto is the perfect soundtrack to set the mood.

Slurp: Drinks and Light Fare, All Day, All Night by Nina Dreyer Hensley covers all your drink and food options from morning to night.

Hinterland Trading Air Plant Tillandsia Bromeliads Kit Teardrop Terrarium with Pebbles and Moss Great Little Houseplant to bring the garden party inside




















And of course, you need something to wear. I love all of Frosted Willow's bangle sets, but think this honey bee bangle set is perfect for a garden party. I also think t this ombre polka-dot pocket square from J. Z. Richards is a must for your coat pocket.

Thanks for indulging me. What do you think of the box? Would you subscribe? What would you put in your box if you got to curate one?

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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14. It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be

It's Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want to Be: The World's Best Selling Book Paul Arden

I saw this one come in through the bookdrop and it caught my eye.

Mostly aimed at advertisers/marketing people with a broader theme for all, it’s some pithy platitudes in an excellently designed package.

I liked some of the advice--don’t hoard your ideas--give them out freely, make the most of the opportunity you have now instead of looking for the next one, don’t knock the competition, it’s ok to be silly, it’s ok to make mistakes. I also liked some of the more advertising-specific ones-- pencil sketches sell the client on the idea more than finished product, put your client’s logo front and center, don’t try to win awards*

But after awhile, it just gets pithy and clever and not actually worthwhile. BUT, it is very well designed. Clean layout, lots of big bold text and colors, and photographs for graphics and lots of classic ads as examples. I loved all the classic ads. There’s not a lot of text (the whole thing can be read in about an hour) and it is a joy just to look at.

*Here’s the explanation for “Don’t Try to Win Awards,” which I really, really like, even if it’s just something I tell myself to make myself feel better

“Nearly everybody likes to win awards. Awards create glamour and glamour creates income. But beware. Awards are judged in a committee by consensus of what is known. In other words, what is in fashion. But originality can’t be fashionable, because it hasn’t as yet had the approval of the committee. Do not try to follow fashion. Be true to your subject and you will be far more likely to create something that is timeless. That’s where the true art lies.”


Book Provided by... my local library

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15. Pointe

Pointe Brandy Colbert

Theo is a ballet dancer, one with a real shot at going pro. She’s startled the day a guy from school--who she mainly knows as a pot dealer-- shows up as the new pianist at her studio. Then she goes home and sees that her best friend--the one who was kidnapped 4 years ago and presumed dead--has been found.

There’s a lot going on here--when Donovan comes home, Theo has to deal a lot with what was going on in her life when he disappeared. Then she sees a picture of the man who’s been arrested for kidnapping Donovan. Chris Fenner is 30, but when Theo knew him, he said he was 18 and his name was Trent. She was 13 and he was her boyfriend and they were in love.

As Theo gears up for her summer intensive auditions, the things that can lead her pro, she must confront some very large demons. Does she tell what she knows about the man who took Donovan? Does she risk being branded “That Girl” forever, knowing that any ballet company in their right mind will pass on her because of it?

After Donovan and Trent left, Theo stopped eating. Now they’re back, she’s stopped again.

How does she navigate the town gossip and other student’s reactions and theories when Donovan returns?

Donovan and Trent were friends--did Donovan want to go?

There’s a lot going on here, but it works really, really well. I love that ballet is Theo’s life, but it’s not the focus of this novel. I appreciated that her eating issues weren’t about ballet. She uses ballet as way to keep herself “in check” with her dieting, but it’s obviously really about controlling something when she can’t control the other things in her life. It’s not the “you’re too fat and have to lose weight” thing that we so often see in ballet novels.

There is sex and drug use and sometimes there are consequences and sometimes there aren’t. It was all realistically done.

There are heavy things going on, but Colbert keeps all the issues and plot lines balanced and you know that Theo should just tell what she knows, but you believe her reasons for not wanting to. The back and forth narrative as Theo tries to piece together Donovan’s disappearance with his reappearance and how Theo reveals information is so well crafted. I don’t want to say Theo’s unreliable, but there are (major) pieces she holds back for awhile. It adds new layers to the stories and avoids there “this is what happened then” massive info-dump.

ALSO. Can I just say how much I love that there are really good adults in this novel? With the obvious exception of the Chris/Trent aside, most of the adults in Theo’s life--her parents, her teachers, etc, are really good adults. They’re there for Theo and also hold her accountable for her actions without being horrible. And as an adult reader, I knew she could trust them, but I also totally understood why Theo wasn’t sure and I didn’t want to grab her shoulders and shake some sense into her.

You guys… so good and powerful. I’m going to be thinking on this one for a long, long, long time.

Book Provided by... my local library

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16. Wolves at the Gate

Wolves at the Gate (Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Volume 3) Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard, Georges Jeanty and Jo Chen.

Buffy left TV after Season 7, but Season 8 (and 9, and soon, 10) exist in comic form.


Weird vamps that can shift into fog and werewolves attack the slayers and steal the scythe. The Scooby gang quickly figure either Dracula’s behind it or someone’s stolen his powers.

I like this one because it takes the slayers to Japan and it involves lots of werewolves Also, DRACULA. I love Dracula and Xander together--they are hilarious. A very unlikely Bromance. That works really well. Plus, some interesting developments on Buffy’s love life and Dawn puts her giantness to good use.

It doesn’t really advance the overall plot arc, but it’s a really fun diversion. (Seriously, the banter between Xander and Dracula alone makes it more than worth it.)

Book Provided by... my local library

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17. Bad Science

Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks Ben Goldacree

Goldacre is seriously pissed off at the lack of scientific literacy in the media and general public. Luckily, he’s rather funny in his rage. (To get a taste, check out his Guardian column by the same name)

He looks at several issues, mostly related to health, how they’re marketed, why we buy the claims, and how horribly wrong it all is. Along the way, he teaches the reader how to understand things so they can cut through the crap and know what lies and lines they’re being fed.

It’s a great mix of condemning the system and teaching you how to buck the trend. It’s also a bit disheartening-- we fall for this stuff SO EASILY. Even I do. But, now when I hear a new health claim, I find myself really thinking about it-- the most basic question be--does this even make SENSE, and then looking at how studies were constructed.

Goldacre looks a lot at alternative therapies, the claims they make and how they’re utter crap. But he also looks a lot of mainstream medicine and they claims THEY make--especially Big Pharma (which he explores a lot more in his new book, Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients). He has a few things about the beauty industry--many of the lotions and potions contain ingredients "clinically proven to X" even though those studies usually had the vitamin ingested, not applied topically--enough that I want an entire book on it.

But, the best part is, Goldacre’s voice. His writing is clear and easy to understand (even if you don’t have a degree in science) and is just plain funny. He feels very strongly about this-- it’s not a dispassionate book, but a plea for us to think about what’s going on and to stop falling for clever lies and disguised gimmicks.

Oh! Also, I learned that carrots do not improve eyesight. Turns out that old chestnut is WWII propaganda. The Allies had invented radar and the Nazis couldn't figure out how British pilots could see so well at night. In order to mislead them (last thing England wanted was Nazis with radar) they said that their pilots just ate a lot of carrots and it helped their eyesight.

An Outstanding Book for the College Bound.


Book Provided by... my local library

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18. Hollow City

Hollow City Ransom Riggs

This sequel to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children picks up exactly where the last one left off. Having been a few years between books, it was a little confusing in the beginning as I tried to remember plot details and the world that Riggs has built.

Jacob and his friends are out of the loop, but still in the 1940s, traveling from their island to London, trying to find another ymbryne who can hopefully fix Miss Peregrine. Along the way they discover more about the Peculiar world, finding other loops and allies, all the while fighting hollows and wights. Of course, once they get to London, they still have to find another ymbryne (it’s not like they’re in the phone book) and deal with the dangers that the Blitz creates when you’re no longer in a timeloop. It all concludes in another wrenching ending that will leave us waiting desperately for the next book.

I do still love the interplay of the photos and the text, but I feel like the photos didn’t work quite as well--maybe because Riggs used all his best ones in the first book, of what needed to be illustrated wasn’t as peculiar, or because I was already used to it from the first book. I’m not sure why. I didn’t NOT work, it just wasn’t as awesome as the first book in that regard. It is still really well designed as a book though. I like the brown papers marking new chapters--it really adds to the feel created by the photographs and the story--retro paranormal, as well.

I did like the further exploration of the world, and the problems with their weird place in time--being out of a loop, but not being in the present creates issues. Some of the things I liked about the first one aren’t here there-- there’s not that is he/isn’t he on Jacob’s reliableness as a narrator. There’s not the slow reveal of this other world, or the slowly building tension--this is a lot more fast-moving action-- and I think that’s where the story needed to go, but it didn’t wow me in the same way. That’s not to say I didn’t like it--I liked it a lot, I just wasn’t as absolutely floored by it the same way I was floored by Miss Peregrine. I do look forward to getting back into the this world with the next book--I just hope it doesn’t take two years before it comes out!

Book Provided by... my local library

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19. Medusa's Gaze and Vampire's Bite

The Science of Monsters: The Origins of the Creatures We Love to Fear Matt Kaplan

Kaplan looks at many mythical monsters and what was going on in the world that people explained with monsters. He then looks at how the roles of the particular monster have changed over the years as our understanding and world has changed. I think it's at it's strongest when talking about the scientific explanation for things that we understand now, but back then Occam's Razor really did logically lead to "vampire." I also found the exploration of the role such creatures play today in our collective psyche (and how it has changed over time) to be interesting--especially when he looks at what we most fear today, and what's going on in our world that makes us fear those things instead of others. (Although, see below, I do have a few complaints about this section.)

Kaplan writes for the Economist, and much of this book has that same tone of sarcastic snark, which is something I personally love but may be a major turn-off for some readers. It's an adult book, but it's written in a very accessible, readable style (again, think Economist) and I think many teens would enjoy it.

My main complaint is when he’s looking at Greek monsters today, he obviously uses a lot of Percy Jackson, but… he uses the movie, not the books. I’m not even sure he’s aware that they are books. *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk* He does the same thing with Harry Potter, but we at least mentions the books. When it comes to adult stuff (such as Jurassic Park) he’ll actually talk about the differences between books and movie.

But, I did learn a lot and it was very readable and interesting. It’s mostly European-centric, but he does pull in non-European cultures and monsters occasionally. He does a great job at looking how sometimes different cultures have different monsters that look similar but are very different-- often one sees it as evil, one sees it as an overall benevolent force.

It’s a great look at how humans use monsters to explain what we don’t understand and also as a way to name our fears.


Book Provided by... my local library

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20. My Beloved Brontosaurus

My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs Brian Switek

Guys-- it’s a dinosaur book FOR GROWNUPS. And it’s sad, because it turns out that everything I thought I knew about dinosaurs is TOTALLY WRONG.

Like the fact that dinos aren’t related to birds. BIRDS ARE DINOSAURS. The ones we think of are technically “non-avian dinosaurs.” Just… let that sink in a bit. Seriously, I’ve just been going around like Tracy Jordan screaming DINOSAUR at the pigeons on the street.

The crazy thing is, there is a TON of discovery happening in dinosaurs right now. Switek tells us the new science and explains the history of scientific thought about dinos and why it’s been changing. All while still maintaining his little-kid love of the giant animals. He doesn’t shy away from admitting the pop culture influences his original thoughts and ideas about dinos came from.

He also looks at a lot of the really big questions we ask about dinosaurs-- what color were they? Why did they die? How did something that big reproduce? Were they good parents? What did they sound like? How did they get that HUGE?! Why were they that big? Seriously, did their tails get in the way of mating? (Yes, there is an entire chapter on research into the logistics of reproduction. I, for one, am glad to live in a world where legit scientists have funding to study the physics of dinosaur sex. It warms my heart.)

It’s super interesting and very readable. I could have used more visuals (mostly to remind me which -asaurus is which) but I really liked it. PLUS! It's an Outstanding Book for the College Bound.


Book Provided by... my local library

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21. No Future for You

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 Volume 2: No Future for You Joss Whedon, Georges Jeanty and Brian K. Vaughn

So, this big thing to know about this one is FAITH FAITH FAITH FAITH FAITH.

I really grew to love Faith as a character ever since they defeated the mayor. She's complicated and fascinating. She's the star of this story, as Giles sends her to put down a rogue slayer, being "advised" by a warlock who works for Twilight (Season 8's Big Bad). Hilariously, this involves Faith pretending to be British aristocracy. The rogue slayer is being groomed to kill Buffy, unless Faith can stop her. Of course, in true Faith/Buffy fashion, no one's clued Buffy in to who's the good guy and who's the bad guy in this situation.

One of the things I loved about this was how it flashed back to the TV series so you see what Faith's demons are, with her narration. It really delves into her character and psyche more than the show did, which makes her even more complicated and fascinating.

At the end, there's a story about Buffy and Willow visiting some mystical forces, which reveals some secrets neither really want revealed, and some movement on Dawn's giant curse.

But, mostly, FAITH FAITH FAITH FAITH FAITH FAITH FAITH. (Also, a brief glance of Robin (Principal) Wood.

Book Provided by... my local library

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22. Attack of Jabba the Puppett

Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett: An Origami Yoda Book Tom Angleberger

The Fun Time Menace has fully descended on McQuarrie Middle School. All electives have been cancelled and the kids are instead being forced to watch horrible videos (featuring rapping calculators) teach them how to do basic math they already understand.

A Rebel Alliance is needed.

There are a ton of new origami Star Wars characters introduced in this one as Tommy & Co. recruit members to their cause to get rid of FunTime. They’re smart about it--they use math to know how to throw the test to show that FunTime wasn’t effective--if X number of kids fail, then they can get rid of it for next year. They also find ways to work some of their missing electives back in.

The problem is that even though the kids are actually being rather reasonable, Principal Rabbski’s not really listening to them, and they’ll need help from some very unexpected places to get their point across.

I really like the turn the series took. It’s about a much bigger issue than just one student or one piece of maybe magical origami. It’s an entire school movement, and it tackles so many issues we face in education today-- the FunTime menace isn’t real, but it is. (*cough* AR *cough*) We put so much emphasis on test scores, that’s we’ve opened a market for people to cash in without any real benefit to the schools and students and this book really looks at this, in a hilarious manner.

I also really liked how Dwight chose each character for the different kids in the alliance. Much like he showed with the original Origami Yoda, Dwight notices things about people and knows how to nudge them in the right directions.


Book Provided by... my local library

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23. The Forbidden Rose

The Forbidden Rose Joanna Bourne

This is a weird one for me to review. One on hand, it didn't always work for me as a romance. On the other, I freaking loved it.

William Doyle is an English spy, sent to France to assassinate the Marquis de Fleurignac, who has come up with a list of English nobles--nobles that are being picked off one by one at home. The servant girl he finds speaks French too well to be what she claims, but he knows she will lead him to what he's looking for

Marguerite de Fleurignac survived the burning of her chateau, but her network that smuggles aristocracy out of revolutionary France has been compromised--she must tell the others before they're arrested. She doesn't trust the man who looks at the rubble of her home with too calculating an eye, but he may be her only chance at survival.

So, this one was a bit too insta-love for me, and I never really bought into their chemistry. Also, the steamy bits were...not that steamy. BUT. The story is incredible. The politics and intrigue in this one! Where it doesn't always work as a romance, it shines as a spy novel. I also like that what was keeping them apart wasn't the fact they wouldn't just say what needed to be said, or they had closed themselves off to love-- their main obstacles weren't emotional, but the turmoil of revolutionary Paris and their greater causes. When they were apart, they were physically apart (like when William is arrested for being a counter-revolutionary) there are a million sides and games being played-- that's where this novel shines and that's what's added the rest of Bourne's Spymaster series to my TBR.

Book Provided by... my local library

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24. Keeping Corner

Keeping Corner Kashmira Sheth

Remember The Edge of the Forest? I still have a few reviews that ran in that wonderful magazine that I'm reprinting here...



Leela was engaged at the age of two and married at the age of nine. Next year, when she turns thirteen, she will celebrate her anu and move into her husband’s house. Leela’s excited for her anu but when her husband is suddenly killed, everything changes.

Following Brahmin custom, Leela is forced to shave her hair, smash her bangles, and wear muddy brown saris. She will be unable to remarry and must keep corner—stay in the house—for a full year. Leela’s family is devastated by her loss and their grief permeates the household, making it impossible for Leela to imagine any sort of future.

But India is changing. Gandhi is leading the people to stand up to the English. Leela wonders how a small, old man in a dhoti can change the white men who sit so straight on their horses, but Gandhi is. Confined to the house, Leela is still caught in a struggle between the old and new as India stands on the brink of liberation—both from the English and from tradition.

Based on the true story of her great-aunt, Sheth paints a lush, vibrant picture of Indian home life. Leela’s story moves with the weather and seasons as she marks off her time before being allowed outside. Moving and honest, Leela’s tale of drawing inspiration from Gandhi to find agency in her own life is sure to strike readers and linger long after the last page.

ARC Provided by... a coworker, who picked it up at ALA (maybe? this ran back in 2007-- I don't quite remember)

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25. Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic

Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic David Quammen

We’re all going to die. And it’s probably bats or monkeys that will do us in.

As you may remember, I’m a huge fan for medical epidemic books and stories so I was very excited to come across this one, which is about diseases we get from animals, and the science of how a spillover works-- what makes something go from an animal to a human and then make large numbers of us very sick?

Quammen looks at several zoonosis (infections we get from animals) throughout history, and the history of how it made people sick, how they figured out what was going on, and what made it spillover and spread. And he looks at A LOT of diseases such as Hendra, Ebola, SARS, AIDS, Malaria, Lyme, and a host of others. Along the way, he also talks to many scientists about what they’re doing now to be ready for the next one-- what will it be, where will it hit, what can we do to be prepared.

One on hand it’s fascinating. On the other, it’s terrifying (even though he doesn’t want us to freak out too much. I mean, we will all die at some point. And probably not of the next BIG ONE. Which will probably be a flu. And probably from bats or monkeys. Man, I really like bats.)

It’s very interesting, but it does occasionally get bogged down (I found the AIDS stuff a little too academic and wasn’t a fan of his speculative fiction about how it spread in humans).

It was a weird one, because I LOVED it, but it took me FOREVER to finish. Not sure why.

If you liked Outbreak and The Hot Zone, you should probably read this one (if nothing else, just to find out that everything you thought you knew about Ebola is false.) Plus! It's an Outstanding Book for the College Bound.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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