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Dec 18 2013

Sacred and Splendor, by Elana K. Arnold

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

Sandition (Continued), by Jane Austen and others

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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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Mar 14 2008

Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports, by James Patterson

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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Aug 5 2013

The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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Jul 30 2014

Secret Society Girl, by Diana Peterfreund

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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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Oct 22 2014

The Secrets of Tree Taylor, by Dandi Daley Mackall

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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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Mar 13 2013

Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman

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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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Dec 17 2012

Shadowfell, by Juliet Marillier

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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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Feb 11 2010

Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater

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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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Oct 28 2008

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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Sep 15 2014

Skink—No Surrender, by Carl Hiaasen

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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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Oct 1 2008

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

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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

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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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Mar 22 2010

Smooth Talking Stranger, by Lisa Kleypas

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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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Mar 23 2012

Snow White, by the Brothers Grimm and Camille Rose Garcia

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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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Aug 3 2011

So Shelly, by Ty Roth

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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

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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

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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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Jul 12 2011

The Spaghetti Detectives, by Andreas Steinhöfel

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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May 21 2013

Starstruck, by Rachel Shukert

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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

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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

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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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May 5 2008

The Stone Gods, by Jeanette Winterson

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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

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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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Jul 6 2009

Storm Front and Welcome to the Jungle, by Jim Butcher

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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 30 2013

Strands of Bronze and Gold, by Jane Nickerson

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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

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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

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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

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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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Apr 17 2008

Succubus in the City, by Nina Harper

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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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Apr 1 2007

Sugar Daddy, by Lisa Kleypas

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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