Happy Halloween!

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I hope you all have some great plans for the evening. As for myself, I’ll be spending my Halloween trying to make some progress on the mountain of books I have to read. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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Review: “The Wolves of Midwinter” by Anne Rice

wolvesIt’s no secret that Anne Rice is my favorite writer. I fell in love with her writing when I was fourteen years old and I’ve never looked back. I was with her as she completed the Vampire Chronicles, when she regained her Catholic faith and wrote her novels about Jesus Christ, and when she left the Catholic Church again, disappointed in its lack of honesty and morality.

The Wolves of Midwinter is the second in her Wolf Gift series. It seems like ages since the first book in the series, The Wolf Gift, was published, although it was only in 2012. The series follows the young protagonist, Reuben Golding, who is bitten by a Morphenkind (essentially a werewolf), and has his life forever changed. He is ushered into a life surrounded by ancient Morphenkinder, though he is unable to detach himself from the life he lived before with his mortal family. Living this new life in a beautiful house on the coast of Northern California, he finds himself haunted by the ghost of someone he once loved. She seems to be trying to tell him something, asking him to free her from some unspeakable pain. However, he doesn’t know how to communicate with her, much less help her.

The book is steeped in ancient tradition and superstition, mysterious and romantic. Rice’s writing is steady and compelling, as always. Her own beliefs are woven into the story on every page; I know this from following her on Facebook (she’s surprisingly active).  The Vampire Chronicles remain my favorite series of hers. I can’t say that her more recent series (The Wolf Gift or Songs of Seraphim) have the same depth. That being said, The Wolves of Midwinter is a brilliant novel. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in fantasy, the supernatural, religion, or even romance. Bear in mind that you must read The Wolf Gift first!

Review: “Bellman & Black” by Diane Setterfield

bellmanSeven years after the publication of The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield has at last put out a second book, again dark and engrossing.

At the turn of the 19th century, William Bellman is seemingly just another ordinary boy. However, one afternoon he astounds himself and his friends by using a slingshot to kill a rook from what seemed an impossible distance. William’s friends praise him as some kind of a hero for his achievement, though he is secretly deeply disturbed and immediately sets to suppressing the memory. But though William may not remember the rook, the rooks themselves remember his crime.

Throughout William’s remaining life he is met with great success and devastating loss. In his darkest hours he is haunted by the mysterious stranger, Black. Who is he, and how is he tied to William’s fate?

I received an advance review copy of this book on Thursday and had finished it by Friday night. It was difficult to put down for long, being enthralling and dark in the way that I most enjoy. What’s more, it’s an original story, one that is refreshing to read. My only criticism is that I don’t think it matches up to The Thirteenth Tale. I didn’t come away from it as impressed as I was by Setterfield’s first book. Regardless, I think it’s worth picking up or renting from the library. In any case, the cover art is just beautiful!

Bellman & Black will be released on November 5th by Emily Bestler Books. There are a few hundred more reviews on Goodreads from other readers who received advance copies. Check them out for some more opinions! Also take a look at her first book, The Thirteenth Tale.

New ARC that I’m super excited about!

I just received this advance review copy in the mail today, and I could have kissed the mailman!

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I absolutely loved The Thirteenth Tale when I read it several years ago, so I am beyond thrilled to have received this. I’ll be putting aside the book I’m currently reading, since this one will be released on November 5th and I want to get a review for you guys before then.

If you’re interested, here it is on Goodreads 🙂

Amazon announces new free shipping policy

While browsing today’s news in the publishing industry, I discovered that Amazon had made a change in its free shipping policy. Previously Amazon customers could get free Super Saver shipping on any purchase over $25. However, it seems that for the first time in more than a decade they’ve made a change to the minimum order for free shipping – you now have to spend at least $35 for free shipping.

I’m an online shopping addict and most of my books are purchased online, so this does affect me, though I tend to do the majority of my book shopping on half.com or abebooks.com (saviors during my university years). But I know that Amazon is the primary resource for a great number of people, and so the change in policy is going to affect a lot of book shoppers.

That’s why I want to share with my readers a website that I became very fond of while I was living in Shanghai. The Book Depository not only offers discounts on most of its titles, it also offers free shipping anywhere in the world. So when I found myself in desperate need of a paper book that I couldn’t find in Shanghai’s Foreign Language Bookstore, I could order it without paying an arm and a leg for shipping. Fantastic!

What other tips do you have for those looking for affordable books online?

New Murakami short story now online

The New Yorker today published Haruki Murakami’s new short story, “Samsa in Love” on their website. How fun! I’ve only had time to read the first page, but I hope to read it tomorrow and maybe make a couple comments about it.

In the meantime, feel free to let me know what you guys think 🙂

Review: “Judgment at Tokyo” by Tim Maga

tokyoMost Americans are chiefly concerned with Germany when discussing World War II, and it was partially for this reason that I chose to read a book about the Japanese war crimes trials. It was also because I’m interested in better understanding why the Chinese hate the Japanese so much. The first thing about the trials that struck me was how convoluted they were; the process of charging, trying, and sentencing was, according to Maga, unnecessarily difficult. Because of this, the trials are commonly thought of as the revenge of racist Americans for Japan’s early war victories. Maga argues that the trials did their best to be just and fair, though I have to say that his argument was not especially convincing to me.

I had the book on my to-read list for more than two years before picking it up at the library. The book is rather dry, and as I already have trouble getting through books about history (because of my issues remembering names and dates, not because I don’t find them interesting), it was difficult at times to concentrate on what I was reading. Honestly, the fact that the book had been sitting on my local library’s shelves for so long, and therefore smelled great, was what got me through it. Never underestimate the value of a book’s smell. Also, the book is only 150 pages long, so I was able to finish it in just over 24 hours.

Because it’s a quick read, I consider Judgment at Tokyo to be a reasonable introduction to the Japanese war crime trials, though I’d advise the potential reader to make sure they know something about Japan’s role in WWII before picking it up.

Judgment at Tokyo: The Japanese War Crimes Trials by Tim Maga

Goodreads

Amazon