On April 22, I turn 31. In honor of my 31st birthday, I am giving away 31 books! First, the books:
Krakow Melt by Daniel Allen Cox: Despite the relatively disjointed nature, by the end, the reader has a picture of the time the book covers, and the reader has been confronted with some serious issues: homophobia, friendship, sex, and love, and the universality of destruction and rebirth.
Marvin Invents Music by Monte and Claire Montgomery: (from back cover) When you are a kid, there are two kinds of historical fiction books you can read. The first is a serious novel painstakingly researched with multiple themes set in a depressing period of history where the main character's parent or dog (or both) is going to die. The second kind of book is a humorous interpretation of history with a bunch of crazy characters that do silly things and everybody lives to be in the sequel. [This] is the second kind of book.
The Plot Against America by Philip Roth: This is an alternative history tale, where in 1940 Charles A. Lindbergh is elected president and America and Hitler become buddies. The story unfolds from the perspective of one boy in Newark, using the personal to discuss the political.
Exponential Apocalypse by Eirik Gumeny: Another thing this book has going for it, at least for me, is its irreverence. I am not sure what it says about me - and I would prefer to not think too hard about it - but books which defy traditional expectations, glory in profanity, make the gods idiotic or belligerent or stoned, freely discuss the violent removal of appendages, and include entire chapters where nothing happens except someone asking "are we there yet?", well, these type of books just tickle my funny bone.
A Collection of Stories by Edgar Allan Poe: Do I really need a synopsis here? I'm sure you guys all know Poe and how awesome his short stories are. :)
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom: Despite hearing all sorts of wonderful things about this book, I've never been able to pick it up and actually read it. Just not my kind of book I guess OR I'm woefully mistaken about that and I am unknowingly doing myself a great disservice. The subtitle says it all though - an old man, a young man, and life's greatest lesson.
Dust by Joan Frances Turner: Jessie is one of the undead, a zombie, living out her days with her gang in the woods, hunting and fighting. But a new disease is spreading through the undead and the living that may wipe out both. :: What I'm offering up is the Uncorrected Proof, so the cover is different.
An Unconventional Life by Jonathan Clift: (from back cover) When [John's] friend Mark seduces him John thinks it's just a teenage crush. They part when John has to go into the RAF. During the time he is away he realizes he is gay and marriage is not an option for him. Life takes an unexpected turn when he returns home.
Beasts by Joyce Carol Oates: This tiny book packs quite the punch as it follows a rather masochistic girl into the clutches of two sadistic and self-centered people. We meet Gillian at the Louvre in 2001 where she is struck by a highly sexualized and grotesque female totem. The statue recalls a different time in her life, and the reader is then transported back to 1975 where Gillian is a young, impressionable college student.
Nocturnes by John Connolly: Short stories are typically not my preferred genre, but I loved this book. Each story was unique, a horror tale which drew on commonalities of the genre but didn't just repeat the same old, same old. Avid readers will see an homage here and there to other authors - Sheridan LeFanu, Stephen King, and Ray Bradbury stick out to me - but the stories, at least to me, seem uniquely Connolly's own, new but familiar. The very first story, The Cancer Cowboy Rides, offers a beautifully portrayed original villain. Miss Froom, Vampire twists without twisting . And Some Children Wander by Mistake gives us a new reason to fear clowns, who are apparently "chosen in the mudderwomb".
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft: At its core Vindication is a response to 18th century theorists (mostly men) who made some very disturbing comments regarding the education, use, and ideal of women. Wollstonecraft writes back to these theorists, both directly addressing their words and positing her own theories. The work is intellectually challenging, thought-provoking, and revolutionary (but best served in small bites). :: The copy I have is the Cambridge Library Collection edition which means the text is a true reproduction (as in the s-es look life f-s) :)
A collection of children's books from Scholastic including: The Day I Lost My Class Hamster and Other True School Stories, The Book Report from the Black Lagoon, Flat Stanley and the Haunted House, I am Skippy Jones, Amelia Bedelia Talks Turkey, If You Give a Pig a Party, and Punctuation Celebration.
Robert Frost's Poems: This is an old beat-up, taped up - much loved - copy, but all the pages are there and readable. If you've considered getting into Frost, but haven't made the commitment, this may be a good way for you to start.
The Right to Be Out: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in America's Public Schools: The title says it all I think, so no real need for a synopsis. This is an advanced reading sample, so you don't have the whole text here, but you have enough (about 100 pages) to decide whether or not you want to read it in its entirety.
The Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop by Edmund S. Morgan: As the title says, the book is a biography of John Winthrop. It is also a look at Puritanism and its history which, of course, is a fascinating subject.
The Surrogates by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele: The year is 2054 and the world population is primarily living life through androids they mentally link with and control. These "surrogates" are used for more than just entertainment; people use them for all aspects of life including jobs - police forces are now 100% surrogates with the human users for the most part not even physically capable of performing the job. But someone out there isn't thrilled with this virtual way of living, and he is determined to find a way to bring down the surrogates. Detective Greer has been charged with stopping this pseudo-killer, but does he really want to?
The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy: Michael Henchard is unemployed, homeless, and a drunk, but he turns his life around after he sells his wife and daughter. Sounds horrifying yes? That is only the beginning of the story.
Fables: Animal Farm by Bill Willingham: Golding's Lord of the Flies meets Welles' Animal Farm. Sort of. I mean if they had fairy tale characters and serious weaponry. Driven from the homelands by a powerful adversary - who is wonderfully referred to as "The Adversary" - fairy tale creatures (calling themselves Fables) of all shapes and sizes have settled in New York. But there is a divide. Non-human fables are hidden in a farm upstate, and their isolation and virtual imprisonment has provided fertile grounds for revolutionary ideas. When Snow White and Rose Red stumble upon a secret meeting, the revolution begins.
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Florentino Ariza loves Fermina Daza passionately, and even when she forgoes their youthful romance for a fortuitous marriage, he carries his love for her inside him. Over the next decades of his life he engages in over 600 affairs but he waits for the day when he can declare his love to Fermina once again. Marquez has created a world and information is passed in an almost confused fashion, some barely related to the main plotline, and yet each intricacy and tidbit adds a depth that keeps the reader interested.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: Really? Do I need to put a description here? :)
The Time Machine and the Invisible Man by H.G. Wells: For those who don't know, The Time Machine tells the tale of a traveler thrust into the distant future where two separate races live in their weirdo ways. It's pretty awesome. The Invisible Man is about....an invisible man who fun, fun goes insane.
Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Historically significant, Herland features a civilization where the men have entirely died out and women reproduce all by their lonesome. Three men from the "real world" come upon the civilization, and the story is told from one of their perspectives.
The Journal of Curious Letters by James Dashner: This is an ARC of the first in Dashner's The 13th Reality series, a middle grade fiction series. The characters are an interesting mix of the stereotypical (the male lead is a nerdy kid with confidence issues; the female support is brainy and arrogant) and the original (the lead "bad guy" is rather eccentric with a rather interesting obsession with the color yellow; the man who brings Tick on the adventure is not the typical overprotective mentor type). While this book doesn't delve too deep into character psyche, the glimpses it does offer give the reader hope for future books in the series.
The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci: daVinci is a fascinating man who scribbled down ideas right and left while he was alive. This is, obviously, a compilation of those notebooks including letters, fables, political insight, jokes, descriptions of people, and so on.
The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman: In The Zookeeper's Wife, Ackerman tells the story of the Warsaw zookeeper and his wife who saved around 300 people during World War II by hiding them in the bomb-ravaged zoo, both in the house and in the animal cages. The story is written from the perspective of the wife, and Antonina's journal provides the foundation for this novel, adding a very authentic and poetic tone. Her writing is beautiful and poignant, pulling emotion out of the readers, and Ackerman does a wonderful job intermingling historical fact with these more personal snippets. By the end of the novel, the reader has a very good sense of who Antonina was as a wife, mother, and friend.
The Art of War by Sun Tzu: Originally, this was a philosophical look at kicking enemies' butts, but today people see it as being applicable to leadership in general: a handbook for success.
I am America (and So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert: Funny funny funny. Seriously. If you are a liberal or an intellectual or just someone with a sense of humor, you will like this.
Radio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli: Napoli's memoir of her love affair with Bhutan, the happiest kingdom on Earth, is exactly what a memoir should be: personal without being self-aggrandizing, informative without being overly complex or boring, and thought-provoking without being cloying.
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier: A historical fiction novel inspired by Vermeer's painting of the same name, Girl actually revolves around Vermeer, the model, and the painting. It's haunting and tragic and beautiful and I definitely recommend it.
Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink: Lia and Alice share parents and a birthday; they are twins, but an ancient prophecy puts them on opposite sides of a battle between good and evil. The first in a trilogy(?) this book has many, many reviews around the blogosphere if you need to check it out a bit more before committing.
And now, how can you win one (or more) of these books? Very very simply. Fill out the form below, putting a check next to every book you want to be entered to win. Winners will be chosen randomly and winning one book does not in any way affect your chances for winning another!
INTERNATIONAL: I'll send five of them internationally, but after that it will be US only.