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Original Essays | June 20, 2014

Lisa Howorth: IMG So Many Books, So Many Writers

I'm not a bookseller, but I'm married to one, and Square Books is a family. And we all know about families and how hard it is to disassociate... Continue »


Customer Comments

EllenSka has commented on (13) products.

Doll Bones by Holly Black and Eliza Wheeler
Doll Bones

EllenSka, July 20, 2013

YA ghost story featuring 3 lower-class 12-year-olds: Zach, Poppy, and Alice, who are still “playing with dolls,” which is to say, acting out elaborate stories using action figures, as one does in various role-playing games. The old doll in one of their houses that they’ve made the Queen of their games appears to be coming alive and wants something from the trio. Wonderfully plotted, fast paced, great character development. Hope we see more stories set in this community. And it's a good thing Holly Black doesn’t write adult horror or suspense, because she had me going plenty already, and I couldn’t put it down.
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The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma
The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards

EllenSka, March 21, 2013

In high school, the narrator learns that lies are entertaining and profitable -- the perfect attitude for an aspiring writer. In college, he meets another promising young writer, and the friendship and tension between the two literary rivals, along with an ascerbic young femme fatale, forms the heart of the book.
The novel travels the globe, but it's a 21st century world, so "the world" is not the vast, separated place it was even in 20th century fiction. While literary allusions abound to delight the serious reader, there's plenty of plot and mystery to please someone who just wants a good story -- as long as they can find some mercy in their heart for the unreliable and rather unlikeable narrator. Despite all the world jaunting, the true journey is interior, and like other top-notch fiction, what it reveals is nothing less than the reader's own heart.
This thrilling and satisfying novel is destined to be a book club favorite. Be an early adopter and earn bragging rights for having read it before the awards start rolling in for this splendid debut.
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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Night Circus

EllenSka, January 31, 2013

I had looked forward to reading this book for so long, and when I finally got my copy, it surpassed my hopes. This is a book of grown-up magic for those of us who loved stories of magic as children. Morgenstern doesn’t cheat and say that the character “came away dazzled” after visiting one of the enchanted circus rooms. Like the best children’s books, she completely describes the magic, the beauty, the strangeness. She has created a world strictly from the filmy wisps of her imagination, weaving them into a solid world that others can also inhabit. That’s what I want when I read; I’m not creative enough to build it, but I can hop on the Good Ship Morgenstern and follow along after my captain quite well.
This novel also has the best sense of smell of anything I’ve read. Chocolate, nuts, even the smell of ice.
Beautifully realized.
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A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix by Edwin H. Friedman
A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix

EllenSka, August 4, 2012

Edwin Friedman draws heavily on family systems theory to illuminate how a system -- a family, organization, or even a nation -- is hindered when leaders are more concerned about empathy and compromise with dysfunctional behavior than they are with the strength, health, and the goals of the system. If you're a church leader, for instance, and people call you "selfish" or "cold," then you're quite possibly on the right track. Instead of indulging the weak and disruptive elements in your organization in a search for consensus and approval, it's better to differentiate yourself, expect resistance from the dysfunctional, and hold the course.
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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)

Teller by Frederick Weisel

EllenSka, August 4, 2012

This is an intriguing literary mystery novel set in Sonoma County, California. Charlie Teller is a disgraced celebrity biographer, who has either the fortune or misfortune of being credited as a coauthor on the celebrity autobiographies he ghostwrites. But now, unemployed, he has followed his ex-wife and teenaged daughter to Sonoma County, California. As a minor literary celebrity himself, he has entree into certain social circles, and one of them involves a high-spirited businessman who is murdered in the parking lot of a local restaurant.

Filled with well-written (and accurate) descriptions of the wine country and high society, "Teller" is a compelling mystery. What gives it literary distinction is that the author occasionally inserts a detailed summary of one of the celebrity biographies Teller wrote in his better days. These chapters read like mini-novels in themselves and help to illuminate Teller's character and to comment on social ills among (fictional) movie stars, sports figures, and iconic writers. Some readers might be put off when the story stops for these alternate chapters, but I loved them.

The author is working on another novel featuring a minor character from "Teller" -- I'm looking forward to it.
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