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Dec 18 2013

Sacred and Splendor, by Elana K. Arnold


Sacred and Splendor, the first two novels from YA author Elana K. Arnold, are ambitious, creative... and totally devoid of editorial judgment or restraint. The books contain a number of intriguing ideas, but the sum total is a hot mess...

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Aug 27 2013

Salt Sugar Fat, by Michael Moss


Journalist Michael Moss has made a career out of terrible food: his 2009 reporting about the safety of ground beef earned him a Pulitzer Prize, and he has recently published a book about the activities of processed food companies, aptly titled Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us...

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Sep 10 2014

Sammy Keyes and The Kiss Goodbye, by Wendelin Van Draanen


After eighteen installments, Wendelin Van Draanen is ending her award-winning Sammy Keyes series. The final book, Sammy Keyes and The Kiss Goodbye, was released this week, and it's a creative and genuinely sweet send-off...

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Dec 7 2010

Sammy Keyes and the Wedding Crasher, by Wendelin Van Draanen


We adore Wendelin Van Draanen's books, but we understand why the director of the recent film adaptation of her novel Flipped re-set the plot in the 1950s—Ms. Van Draanen's unif...

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May 22 2007

Sammy Keyes and the Wild Things, by Wendelin Van Draanen


Wendelin Van Draanen’s Sammy Keyes series is one of our favorites. It’s smart, straightforward, and it hasn’t put itself under pressure by announcing a finite number of installments, so plot lines develop at a natural pace. Van Draanen's eponymous heroine is a genuinely likable character, and her adventures consist of a nicely judged blend of mystery, romance, and hair-raising adventure...

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Mar 19 2012

Sanditon (Continued), by Jane Austen and others


Most of our posts this week are going to be devoted to reviews, as our To Be Read shelf is once again looking like a potential earthquake hazard. And while the rest of the reviews are going to be of novels we've received specifically for Wordcandy, today I'm focusing on two books I picked up at my local library: Charlotte, by Jane Austen and Julia Barrett, and Sanditon, by Jane Austen and “Another Lady”.

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Nov 1 2006

Santa, Baby: Hot Toy, by Jennifer Crusie


Jennifer Crusie's novella Hot Toy, the first story in St. Martin's new collection Santa, Baby, is as cute as the proverbial button. I couldn't believe how much Crusie packed into a mere 111 pages—her book was the only Christmas story I've ever read that featured an Alfred Hitchcock reference...

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Mar 14 2008

Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports, by James Patterson


James Patterson’s Maximum Ride books are an action-adventure/science fiction series featuring a group of genetically engineered bird-human children. There are currently three books in the series*...

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Apr 28 2010

Savor the Moment, by Nora Roberts


Savor the Moment is the third book in Nora Roberts' best-selling Bride Quartet. This installment focuses on pastry chef Laurel McBane, co-owner of Vows, the wedding-planning company she founded w...

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Jul 31 2006

Scandal in Spring, by Lisa Kleypas


Scandal in Spring isn’t Lisa Kleypas’s Best Book Ever, but (like everything she writes) it’s highly entertaining. It has more humor than I’ve seen in her earlier novels, the romance is enjoyable, and it’s a satisfying conclusion to the "Wallflowers" quartet...

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Oct 17 2004

The Scarlet Pimpernel, by the Baroness Orczy


The Baroness Orczy's 1905 novel The Scarlet Pimpernel is pure, unadulterated wordcandy. It's like the literary equivalent of Scharffen Berger chocolate. This book is gorgeously written, perfectly...

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Oct 28 2014

Scary Go Round, by John Allison


If you're looking for a Halloween read this week and you haven't got any money (or a library card, or friends who own books), you're in luck: John Allison's pre-Bad Machinery comic Scary Go Round is available for free online...

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Jun 10 2013

Scent of Darkness, by Margot Berwin


Margot Berwin's novel Scent of Darkness is built around an absolutely delicious premise: Evangeline, a lonely, directionless 18-year-old, is left a bottle of scent by her perfumer grandmother, and a single application of the perfume changes her entire life. Strangers suddenly find her impossibly desirable (even animals start following her around), and she finds herself torn between two men...

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Sep 18 2013

School of Fear, by Gitty Daneshvari


Like Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Gitty Daneshvari's novel School of Fear is a story about extraordinarily odd children visiting an even odder place. School of Fear can't compare to Dahl's classic, but it boasts plenty of goofy charm, a uniformly appealing cast of characters, and tons of snappy one-liners...

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Jun 7 2010

The School of Possibilities, by Seita Parkkola


The School of Possibilities is the English translation of Seita Parkkola's award-winning novel Viima, originally published in Finland in 2006. While the book isn't perfect, it is an unusua...

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Jun 4 2013

School Spirits, by Rachel Hawkins


Slightly more than a year after releasing Spell Bound, the (totally disappointing, it must be said) conclusion to her Hex Hall series, Rachel Hawkins has returned to familiar territory in School Spirits, the first book in a Hex Hall spin-off series devoted to a different branch of the monster-hunting Brannick family...

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Oct 30 2014

Scored, by Lauren McLaughlin


My favorite kind of scary stories involve real, everyday things gone horribly wrong, so when I realized the subject matter of Lauren McLaughlin's Scored I was totally stoked. Brace yourself, dear readers: this is a horror novel about student test scores...

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Aug 5 2013

The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater


I loved Shiver, the first book in Maggie Stiefvater's Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, but I was seriously underwhelmed by its sequel, Linger. Middle books can be tricky, but Stiefvater's approach was ridiculous...

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Apr 25 2007

The Screaming Room, by Thomas O'Callaghan


Mini-reviews!The Screaming Room, by Thomas O'CallaghanThomas O'Callaghan's The Screaming Room is not a book for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach. It's a thriller featuring a series of gr...

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May 27 2014

Sea of Shadows, by Kelley Armstrong


According to the author's note at the end of her new book Sea of Shadows, Kelley Armstrong has always wanted to write a full-blown epic fantasy, complete with “swords, sorcery, and the ravenous undead.” I'm a big fan of epic fantasy, zombie stories, and Armstrong's writing, so I figured the resulting novel would be a surefire win...

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Mar 18 2014

Season of the Witch, by Mariah Fredericks


Mariah Fredericks's Season of the Witch hopes for the literary equivalent of having one's cake and eating it too: the author tries to lure in readers with fantasy/horror stuff, but she also wants her story to be taken seriously as a real-world exploration of grief, revenge, and teenage power dynamics. I wish she had committed to one approach or the other, although the resulting mash-up is still remarkably entertaining...

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Jul 7 2014

Seconds, by Bryan Lee O'Malley


Still riding high from the resounding success of his Scott Pilgrim series, Bryan Lee O'Malley's new standalone graphic novel Seconds is a fantasy/horror/humor hybrid about Katie Clay, a young, talented chef at a popular restaurant. Katie is trying to open a new restaurant (one that she will co-own), but the process is slow, so she's stuck in limbo, hanging around her former kitchen and pestering her ex-employees. When a moment of inattention leads to a waitress being injured...

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Oct 1 2018

The Secret Garden (MinaLima edition), by Frances Hodgson Burnett


MinaLima is a graphic design studio best known for providing all the paper goods for the Harry Potter movies—the newspapers, candy wrappers, books, and other ephemera that make that film world feel like a real, lived-in place. When I learned they were working on a handful of interactive editions of classic children's stories, I was super excited—but that was before I saw the titles...

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May 18 2015

The Secret Ingredient, by Stewart Lewis


Stewart Lewis's The Secret Ingredient has a great cover, a great hook, and the foundations of at least two—maybe more—great YA novels. Unfortunately, he seems incapable of delivering on any of that promise, and once again produces a book that is simultaneously overly dramatic and underdeveloped...

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Oct 31 2016

The Secret-Keepers, by Trenton Lee Stewart


Trenton Lee Stewart's The Secret-Keepers features loads of classic children's literature tropes: secret places, magical devices, traps, puzzles. I appreciate what Stewart was going for, but I'm way past the age of his target audience, and this is even more of a kid-specific effort than his previous series...

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Jul 30 2014

Secret Society Girl, by Diana Peterfreund


While poking around in the deepest, darkest depths of our slush pile, I fished out a copy of Diana Peterfreund's Secret Society Girl. The book was originally published in 2006, but it feels much more recent than that—probably because while it was released about five years too early for the current craze for “New Adult” novels, that's totally what it is: a story for and about young people who are too old for teen books, but not yet in the market for mainstream adult fiction...

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Nov 2 2015

The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School, by Kim Newman


Kim Newman's The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School is 300 pages of precisely detailed world-building, held together with 100 pages of adventure. It's a fun read, at least if you're part of the (presumably small) subset of people who like slowly-percolating stories...

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Oct 22 2014

The Secrets of Tree Taylor, by Dandi Daley Mackall


If you, like me, feel a pang of sadness whenever you remember that Wendelin Van Draanen's Sammy Keyes series has really and truly ended, I have good news: Dandi Daley Mackall's coming-of-age novel The Secrets of Tree Taylor hits a lot of the same notes, and hits several of them even better...

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Nov 25 2019

The Seduction of Lady Phoebe, by Ella Quinn


On the back cover of Ella Quinn's novel The Seduction of Lady Phoebe, there's a glowing promotional blurb by novelist Grace Burrowes: “Lady Phoebe is a heroine Georgette Heyer would adore—plucky, pretty, and well worth the devotion of the dashing Lord Marcus. A marvelous find for Regency romance readers.” Burrowes is lucky there's no such thing as a Better Business Bureau for romance novel promo quotes, because that comment is a pack of liiiiiies...

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Feb 17 2015

Seeker, by Arwen Elys Dayton


Arwen Elys Dayton's Seeker feels less like an actual book and more like the novelization of a movie. Admittedly, I would totally watch said movie*, but my film standards are embarrassingly low. I expect more from books—consistent characterization, well-planned plot development, creative world-building—and Seeker falls short on all of these fronts...

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Nov 30 2015

Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen


I have long owned the Mr. Boddington's Penguin Classics editions of Pride and Prejudice and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and both suffer from a major quality control issue: the ink periodically fades to near-invisibility. Still, I loved the line's cover art, so when their edition of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility...

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Mar 13 2013

Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman


Rachel Hartman's debut novel Seraphina won the 2013 Morris Award for YA literature, but the major thing defining the book as “young adult” is its teenage heroine—everything else about it is straightforward high fantasy, suitable for readers of any age...

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Apr 11 2016

The Serpent King, by Jeff Zentner


Jeff Zentner's debut book The Serpent King reminds me of a teen-friendly version of Grace Metalious's infamous novel Peyton Place. Both stories feature small-town settings, twisted family lives, and dark secrets, but Zentner's book is approximately 1,000,000 times better-written...

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Sep 14 2015

Shades of Grey, by Jasper Fforde


Like my beloved Ysabeau S. Wilce, Jasper Fforde has a gift: his endlessly inventive books feel coherent, even when his actual plots are totally nuts...

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May 16 2016

Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal


The back cover of Mary Robinette Kowal's novel Shades of Milk and Honey describes it as “precisely the sort of tale we would expect from Jane Austen”. That comment is... a little hyperbolic, to put it mildly, but Kowal's book has its own virtue...

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Nov 14 2016

Shadowed Souls, edited by Jim Butcher and Kerrie L. Hughes


Shadowed Souls is a bit of a bait-and-switch. Based on the style of the cover, I had assumed that this was a Dresden Files-themed anthology written by a bunch of big-name urban fantasy writers. Instead, it's an uneven collection of “dark and gritty” short stories tied together by...

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Dec 17 2012

Shadowfell, by Juliet Marillier


New Zealand author Juliet Marillier's Shadowfell, the first book in a projected trilogy, takes several done-to-death fairytale tropes—a girl on a solitary journey, an evil king, helpful magical creatures—and transforms them into an entertaining and thoughtful YA fantasy novel...

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Jun 24 2019

Shelter in Place, by Nora Roberts


In many of her recent standalones, Nora Roberts has minimized the tropes of romance writing in favor of straight action/suspense. That's fine—the romantic elements of her books are the bits she is most prone to recycling—but I do wish she wasn't so fond of really lingering on the POV of her villains. I don't need to read an additional hundred pages of manufactured drama between her protagonists, but...

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Feb 11 2010

Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater


We here at Wordcandy admit it: we judge books by their covers. This doesn't always work for us (note our recent post on Atlas Shrugged), but we still believe that great cover art is an impor...

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Jan 12 2015

Shut Out, by Kody Keplinger


Kody Keplinger has received a lot of attention for her complicated, thoughtful, sex-positive YA novels. Admittedly, I've only read one of her books, but so far I'm not seeing where this praise is coming from—her 2011 novel Shut Out is neither particularly thoughtful nor complex, and it's only “sex-positive” in the sense that her sexually-active teen characters aren't constantly beset by the pregnancy/marriage/infidelity crises featured on ABC Family shows...

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Apr 17 2017

Silence Fallen, by Patricia Briggs


Silence Fallen is the tenth novel in Patricia Briggs's best-selling Mercy Thompson series. In this fast-paced, action-heavy installment, shape-shifting VW mechanic Mercy is abducted from her home territory in the Pacific Northwest and spirited away to Italy, where she finds herself a pawn in a chess game being played by an ancient and powerful vampire...

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Sep 8 2015

Silver Eve, by Sandra Waugh


Last year's Lark Rising was a delight—a dreamy, thoughtful classic fantasy novel aimed at middle- and high-school readers, with a complex heroine and compelling larger world. The novel wasn't perfect (it was too short to do full justice to the material, leaving large sections underdeveloped), but...

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Oct 28 2008

Silver: My Own Tale as Written by Me with a Goodly Amount of Murder, a novel by Edward Chupack


Something about the fictional pirate Long John Silver seems to inspire absolutely fantastic titles. First there was Björn Larsson's Long John Silver: the True and Eventful History of My Life of...

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Jul 18 2008

Simplexity, by Jeffrey Kluger


Time magazine writer and editor Jeffrey Kluger’s Simplexity: Why Simple Things Become Complex (and How Complex Things Can Be Made Simple) offers a brisk and (mostly) comprehensible introduction to...

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Jun 24 2008

Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America's Soul, by Karen Abbot


Karen Abbot’s nonfiction book Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America’s Soul is the story of the Everleigh Club, an infamous brothel that became a...

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Apr 29 2008

The Sisters Grimm: Tales from the Hood, by Michael Buckley


Tales from the Hood, the sixth entry in Michael Buckley’s impishly funny Sisters Grimm series, is just as enjoyable as its predecessors—but the increasing darkness and complexity of the Sisters Grimm world has us wondering if Buckley is losing control of his own mythology...

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Apr 26 2010

The Sisters Grimm: The Inside Story, by Michael Buckley


Once again, Michael Buckley's newest Sisters Grimm book is scheduled to go on sale May 1st, and once again, it was widely available by mid-April. I asked about this (again), and the bookseller tol...

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Jan 3 2007

Size 14 is Not Fat Either, by Meg Cabot


Size 14 Is Not Fat Either is the best series installment Meg Cabot has produced in years. It’s sunny-tempered (well, as sunny-tempered as a story featuring a beheaded cheerleader can be) and witty, and it does a great job of displaying Cabot’s gift for engaging characterization...

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Feb 11 2010

Skeleton Creek and Ghost in the Machine, by Patrick Carman


Patrick Carman clearly appreciates a good literary gimmick. He promoted his Land of Elyon books via a four-month-long cross-country tour in a decorated bus, he contributed a novel to Scholastic's...

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Apr 13 2015

Skin Cleanse, by Adina Grigore


The world wasn't exactly crying out for another book extolling the benefits of drinking less coffee, eating more dark leafy greens, and laying off the donuts, but Adina Grigore's Skin Cleanse condenses and simplifies about ten health blogs' worth of information into a fresh, cheerful, immensely readable guide to skin health...

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Sep 15 2014

Skink—No Surrender, by Carl Hiaasen


Much has been made of the fact that Skink—No Surrender is Carl Hiaasen's first book for teenagers, but there isn't much of a difference between this and his books for either adult or child readers. If you're already a fan of Hiaasen's writing, get ready for another installment of Florida-specific weirdness. If you're a teen reader who is unfamiliar with Hiaasen... well, this might be a tougher sell...

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May 21 2018

The Sky is Yours, by Chandler Klang Smith


I picked up Chandler Klang Smith's novel The Sky is Yours for two reasons: I liked the cover art, and several reviewers compared it to a Jane Austen novel. I still like the cover art, but the Austen comparison is a total bait-and-switch. Both novelists touch on similar issues—sex, marriage, social position—but they're about as similar as cherry cough syrup and an actual cherry...

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Mar 4 2019

Slayer, by Kiersten White


In my recent review of the BOOM Comics Buffy the Vampire Slayer reboot, I wondered if the Buffy-centric storytelling well had finally run dry. Bestselling author Kiersten White's new spinoff novel Slayer proves that there is still some life in this 'verse...

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Dec 31 2015

Sleeping With Her Enemy, by Jenny Holiday


Jenny Holiday's novel Sleeping With Her Enemy is currently available as a $0.99 e-book. I'm not sure I'd be as enthusiastic about it if it had cost, say, $7.99, but at its current price it's an incredible bargain...

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Feb 11 2019

Sleepless: Vol. 1, by Sarah Vaughn


A few months ago, I asked my local comic shop owner for his honest opinion of the new Books of Magic reboot. (I loved the original series as a kid, but I've been burned before by the various attempts at re-starting it, and my comics budget is not limitless.) He hesitated—clearly, a sale's a sale—but...

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Oct 1 2008

The Smart Cookies' Guide to Making More Dough, by Assorted Authors


In 2006, inspired by an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, five young women decided to form a “money group”—a Weight Watchers-style support group to help them pay off their debt, start saving, and...

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Oct 6 2014

The Smoke Thief, by Shana Abe


I have strong feelings about romance novels. I like stories that don't expect me to buy that the hero and heroine have fallen into deep, everlasting love in a matter of days, stories where the sexual relationship isn't forced or coerced, and, above all, stories set after 1800, where I feel like all the characters are more likely to routinely bathe. Shana Abé's The Smoke Thief is none of these things, so I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed it...

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Jan 7 2019

Smooth Criminals: Issues 1 & 2, by Kurt Lustgarten and Kirsten "Kiwi" Smith


I had hopes for Smooth Criminals, the second comic from the creators of Misfit City. Unfortunately, there is an art to pacing a comic series that creators Kurt Lustgarten and Kirsten "Kiwi" Smith still haven't mastered, and...

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Mar 22 2010

Smooth Talking Stranger, by Lisa Kleypas


Smooth Talking Stranger is the third book in Lisa Kleypas's best-selling series about the wealthy, powerful, Houston-based Travis family. Kleypas's current heroine is Ella Varner, author of the p...

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Oct 28 2019

Snow & Rose, by Emily Winfield Martin


Emily Winfield Martin is best known as a visual artist, but her recent novel Snow & Rose proves she's a competent writer, as well. Inspired by the little-known “Snow White and Rose Red” fairytale, Martin has reworked it into a full-length children's book that is greatly enhanced by her delicate, richly colored illustrations...

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Jun 8 2015

Snow White Must Die, by Nele Neuhaus


I'm not a big mystery reader, but I like to periodically give the genre a shot, just to make sure I'm not missing out on something awesome. My latest attempt was Nele Neuhaus's internationally best-selling novel Snow White Must Die. While I found it readable enough, it's definitely not the book that's going to convert me into a hardcore mystery fan...

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Mar 23 2012

Snow White, by the Brothers Grimm and Camille Rose Garcia


Somebody took a lot of time and trouble to get the Camille Rose Garcia edition of the Brothers Grimm version of Snow White exactly right. The fonts are gorgeous, the page layout is exquisite, and Garcia's elaborate, swirling illustrations are displayed to their best advantage. Unfortunately, Snow White isn't one of those stories that holds up to close examination...

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Sep 4 2018

Snowdrift and Other Stories, by Georgette Heyer


I am a die-hard Georgette Heyer fan and have sincerely loved Sourcebooks' elegant, well-made reprints of her work, so it pains me to say this, but despite the great cover art and a couple of solid entries, the short story collection Snowdrift is for Heyer completists only...

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Aug 3 2011

So Shelly, by Ty Roth


Let me start by giving credit where credit is due: the Wordcandy to-be-read bookshelf is overflowing with YA gothic romances, but Ty Roth’s novel So Shelly stands out. Inspired by the notorious l...

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May 15 2012

The Sons of Liberty, by Joseph and Alexander Lagos


Alexander and Joseph Lagos's graphic novel series The Sons of Liberty has a lot going for it: unusual protagonists, wonderfully vivid artwork, and an action-packed historical setting. It's the story of two runaway slave children, Brody and Graham, who escape from an abusive plantation only to find themselves in even greater danger—they're captured by William Franklin (Benjamin Franklin's illegitimate son), who uses them as unwilling lab rats in an bizarre science experiment...

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Jun 24 2007

Soon I Will Be Invincible, by Austin Grossman


At first glance, Austin Grossman’s debut novel Soon I Will Be Invincible has a lot in common with Ben Edlund’s The Tick. Both are witty stories about superheroes and their villainous counterparts attempting to make a name for themselves in cities that are overrun with muscle-bound do-gooders...

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Jun 20 2016

Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho


Zen Cho's Sorcerer to the Crown is a mildly amusing historical fantasy novel, full of nods to Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, and Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. While her book features some ambitious ideas, Cho rarely explores them in sufficient depth...

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Jul 12 2011

The Spaghetti Detectives, by Andreas Steinhöfel


If we gave out awards for Most Misleading Cover Art, today would go down as the day Josh Berk's The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin passed the torch: Andreas Steinhöfel's novel The Spaghetti Detectives might look like a PBS cartoon aimed at pre-schoolers, but...

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Sep 10 2007

The Spanish Bow, by Andromeda Romano-Lax


In 2001, journalist Andromeda Romano-Lax began researching a nonfiction account of the life of the Spanish cellist Pablo Casals. While Casals's history was fascinating, as Romano-Lax did further research she discovered that there was another story—actually, several other stories—she wanted to tell...

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Mar 31 2009

Spanking Shakespeare, by Jake Wizner


Jake Wizner’s debut novel Spanking Shakespeare is the literary equivalent of a Woody Allen movie directed by Judd Apatow: five times as self-centered, sex-obsessed, and painfully neurotic as it is...

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Jul 14 2014

Sparrow Hill Road, by Seanan McGuire


Seanan McGuire's Sparrow Hill Road began life as a series of short stories published on The Edge of Propinquity. The author reworked the material into a single novel, mashing it into one mega ghost story, with enough free-ranging creepiness to fuel a dozen camp outs...

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May 11 2010

Spice and Wolf (Yen Press Extravaganza Part V), by Isuna Hasekura


Yes, dear readers, it's time for another run-down of Yen Press's recent releases! Spice and Wolf is a manga adaptation of Isuna Hasekura's novel series of the same name. When young merchant Kraft Lawrence finds a naked girl with wolf ears and a tail napping in the back of his cart, he remains calm (more or less)...

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Jun 18 2013

Spirit's Princess and Spirit's Chosen, by Esther Friesner


After writing everything from poetry to TV novelizations to books with titles like Witch Way to the Mall and Fangs for the Mammaries, Esther Friesner has expanded her résumé yet again, embarking on a series of YA books inspired by famous princesses from history and mythology. Previous books in the series have featured Helen of Troy and Nefertiti, but her latest effort focuses on Himiko, a shaman queen of ancient Japan...

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May 13 2010

The Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade: The 11½ Anniversary Edition, by Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins


Penny Arcade is a great comic strip. I've laughed at the punchlines, I give series creators Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins major props for their charitable endeavors, and I'm told their PAX shin...

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Oct 12 2009

The Splendor Falls, by Rosemary Clement-Moore


One of my least favorite romantic clichés is the Relentlessly Average Heroine. Teen literature is full of these girls: boring, hapless “heroines” whose appeal is limited to some passive attr...

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Jan 15 2013

Spring Fever, by Mary Kay Andrews


Mary Kay Andrews's novels are the modern-romance equivalent of a plain cake doughnut: unexciting, yet undeniably tasty. Her latest effort, 2012's Spring Fever, is the story of Annajane Hudgens, a sweet-tempered advertising executive carrying a not-totally-extinguished torch for her ex-husband (and current boss), Northern Carolina businessman Mason Bayless. They've both seemingly moved on with their lives, but...

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Dec 5 2016

Stars of Fortune, by Nora Roberts


I really only had one problem with Nora Roberts's Stars of Fortune, but it's a big one: Roberts simply isn't very good at writing fantasy. She keeps trying, but the genre does not play to her strengths...

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Aug 13 2018

Stars Uncharted, by S.K. Dunstall


I'm not surprised that there's a promotional quote on the front of S. K. Dunstall's new novel Stars Uncharted comparing it to the popular book/TV series The Expanse. The two stories have a number of similarities (multiple narrators, ragtag space explorers, nods to film noir), but Dunstall's book has its own strengths and weaknesses...

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May 21 2013

Starstruck, by Rachel Shukert


Rachel Shukert's Starstruck steals most of its plot from Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls, but Shukert's YA novel is a vast improvement on Susann's dour melodrama, transforming a silly and overwrought story into something smart, ambitious, and utterly engrossing...

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Dec 13 2012

Starstruck, Sleepless, and Fairy Tale, by Cyn Balog


For a genre that should be all about creativity, most YA paranormal romance is actually pretty standardized. Wearing Converse is proof positive of an artistic nature. It's not at all creepy for a zillion-year-old magical being to continue attending high school. And in any given love triangle, the heroine is always better off choosing the more emotionally constipated option...

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Aug 4 2014

Starters, by Lissa Price


In the six years since The Hunger Games hit it big, it feels like I've read a million different versions of the “hellish future” story, featuring everything from zombies to World War III to natural disasters. I usually divide these books into two camps: the profoundly stupid violence-for-violence's-sake stories, and the novels that would have been published even if...

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Jun 27 2016

Stiletto, by Daniel O'Malley


As I mentioned in my review of The Rook, the first installment in Daniel O'Malley's Rook Files, these books have been optioned for TV by Twilight author Stephenie Meyer. Now that I've read the second book in the series, Stiletto, I am even more impressed by Ms. Meyer's foresight, because if they get this series even halfway right she is about to make piles of money...

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May 5 2008

The Stone Gods, by Jeanette Winterson


Jeanette Winterson's novel The Stone Gods opens with the following lines:"This new world weighs a yatto-gram.But everything is trial size; tread-on-me tiny or blurred-out-of-focus huge. There are ...

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Dec 3 2010

Stone Rabbit #5: Ninja Slice, by Eric Craddock


Eric Craddock's Stone Rabbit #5: Ninja Slice is a boisterous, colorful read aimed squarely at reluctant male readers ages 7-10. The plot (what little there is of it) is simple: whe...

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May 20 2019

Storm Cursed, by Patricia Briggs


Patricia Briggs is one of the most reliable fantasy writers on my mental list of books to take on a plane. She's less pretentious than Seanan McGuire, way less gross than Laurell K. Hamilton, and better at romance than Charlaine Harris...

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Jul 6 2009

Storm Front and Welcome to the Jungle, by Jim Butcher


When it comes to pulp fiction, I usually think shorter is better. This is why I’ve always liked Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, but I love his graphic-novel reworkings of the same material. The...

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Apr 4 2016

The Story of Hong Gildong, translated by Minsoo Kang


The Story of Hong Gildong is a classic Korean novel, widely—but perhaps inaccurately—attributed to the 17th century author and courtier Heo Gyun. The character of Hong Gildong is so widely known in Korea that his name is routinely used as the instructional example on forms (à la “John Doe”). Western readers can now judge his story for themselves, as Penguin Classics has recently released a new translation of the text...

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Apr 30 2013

Strands of Bronze and Gold, by Jane Nickerson


In case you were wondering, we didn't actually plan on reviewing two books about twisted relationships between hyper-controlling men and vulnerable young girls this week. This pairing was pure serendipity—creepy serendipity, if that's not a contradiction in terms.

Set in the antebellum South, Jane Nickerson's Strands of Bronze and Gold...

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Jul 4 2008

Streams of Babel, by Carol Plum-Ucci


Carol Plum-Ucci’s Streams of Babel kicks off with a bang and never stops moving. When two women die of brain aneurysms within hours of one another in the New Jersey suburb of Trinity Falls, it ra...

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May 10 2010

The Stuff of Legend, by Brian Smith and Mike Raicht


The Stuff of Legend—Book I: The Dark was written by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith (both former editors at Marvel) and illustrated by Charles Paul Wilson III. Their story is set in World War II-era Broo...

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Jun 22 2010

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee


I cannot stand TV shows about hoarding. I am fascinated by the subject, but my limited experience with hoarders has convinced me that hoarding is an incredibly persistent condition that is diffic...

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Oct 15 2018

Stupid Love Comedy, by Shushushu Sakurai


Shushushu Sakurai's Stupid Love Comedy is an odd duck—it's packaged like a conventional romance manga, but most of the story is devoted to meta jokes and background information about manga publishing. The plot centers around Suzu Sakura, a manga artist who is disorganized, inconsiderate, and perpetually late. When her original editor changes jobs, Suzu is assigned to Hasegawa, the editing department's devastatingly handsome new recruit...

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Apr 17 2008

Succubus in the City, by Nina Harper


Welcome to part two of our paranormal romance series, featuring reviews of the second installment of a young adult vampire series and a book about the exciting lives of New York succubae...

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Mar 2 2015

Such Sweet Sorrow, by Jenny Trout


As books go, Jenny Trout's YA novel Such Sweet Sorrow is a bit of a mess—albeit an interesting, ambitious mess, with flashes of something that could have been great. I can't ignore its flaws, but let me give credit where credit is due: this story would make a spectacular video game, full of world-building and action...

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Apr 1 2007

Sugar Daddy, by Lisa Kleypas


Sugar Daddy, Lisa Kleypas’s first contemporary romance novel, is entertaining, well-written, and—best of all—free of anachronistic sexual politics. (Many authors* producing both contemporary and historical romances have been known to lose sight of the fact that readers have different expectations for modern characters than they do for historical ones.) Sugar Daddy features...

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May 15 2013

Summer Rental, by Mary Kay Andrews


Mary Kay Andrews's 2011 novel Summer Rental sticks to the formula that has served her so well in the past: loads of female bonding, a love story, a woman-in-peril subplot, and a healthy dash of angst. Lifelong friends Ellis, Dorie, and Julia have made plans to spend a month together in a North Carolina beach rental, hoping for a break from their respective personal and career problems. Maryn Shackleford is a total stranger, but...

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Feb 24 2010

Superheroes and Beyond, by Christopher Hart


Christopher Hart's Superheroes and Beyond: How to Draw The Leading and Supporting Characters of Today's Comics promises to provide "the knowledge necessary to create great comic book characters......

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Dec 7 2012

Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero, by Larry Tye


If you're a classic comics junkie, pop culture aficionado, or fan of Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, you're definitely going to want to check out Larry Tye's nonfiction book Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero...

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Aug 3 2009

The Sweet Life of Stella Madison, by Lara M. Zeises


Stella Madison, the 17-year-old heroine of Lara M. Zeises's The Sweet Life of Stella Madison, has her hands full: her boyfriend has just professed his love, her long-s...

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Oct 1 2007

The Sweet, Terrible, Glorious Year I Truly, Completely, Lost It, by Lisa Shanahan


I don’t know much about Australian entertainment. My knowledge of their popular culture is limited to Strictly Ballroom, a single episode of Kath & Kim I caught in England, and an Australian romance novel that I read a few years ago, which featured such outdated sexual politics that I originally thought it was written in the sixties...

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