Friday, October 14, 2016

Unshelved Comic Strip Hangs it Up, Indie Bookstores in Seattle, The Jewel and The White Rose by Amy Ewing and Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

This is a great quote, and true of how I also feel in bookstores and libraries.

Bookshops: 'Like Entering Aladdin's Cave'

"Walking into a bookshop is like entering Aladdin's Cave. No, it is
better than that. Thoughts, words, ideas, truths are almost tangible. I
go in with a very good idea of what I want, but am very soon seduced by
other books. Where to start, what to choose? Sometimes it takes my
breath away. You see, we live so far from town, an opportunity like this
must be seized and savored, yet I must choose before closing time."

Jenny Nimmo, author of the Charlie Bone series, in a q&a with Books

I've been reading Unshelved , the comic strip about libraries, for years now, and I am so sorry to hear that they're retiring the strip.

Unshelved Library Comic Strip Winding Down
After almost 15 years, Unshelved, the daily online comic strip set in a library, is winding down. As of November 11,Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes will stop making new Unshelved comic strips and will publish "classic" strips.

In an announcement about the change, they remembered: "When we published
2002, the iPhone was just a glint in Steve Jobs' eye, Facebook was years
away from reuniting anyone with their high school sweetheart, and
tweeting was still exclusively for the birds."

This is one of the many reasons why I love living in the Seattle area. So many great bookstores and a highly literate population, combined with a vital and well-used library system makes for one happy bibliophile!

Why Indie Bookstores in Seattle Are Thriving

Independent bookstores in Seattle are thriving
almost 30 locations currently in business. "Compare that to cities
similar to Seattle in population, such as Boston (with approximately 25,
including used-book stores and many college-affiliated ones) and
Baltimore (with about a dozen), and you understand how vibrant our
offerings are. Compare Seattle to cities with massive populations and we
still stack up. San Francisco has 34 ABA-member bookstores and Chicago,
38," Seattle magazine reported.

The reasons for this success story are as numerous and varied as the
stores themselves. The Seattle Times wrote that "despite some
trepidation expressed by area booksellers leading up to Amazon's store
opening last year, the indie scene here is undergoing a quiet
renaissance, as evidenced by the spring opening of Third Place Books in Seward Park, bookstore buyouts and
one of the most successful Independent Bookstore Days
the city has experienced."

Shelf Awareness publisher and co-founder Jenn Risko observed that one of
the ingredients is the city's increasing devotion to shopping local:
"The Seattle community understands what it means to vote with your

David Glenn of Penguin Random House cited a growing educated population,
as well as a higher median income ("about $65,000, compared to the
national average of $50,000"). Personal service, local organizations,
and ambitious event schedules also play a significant role.

"Anytime a bookstore comes up for sale in Seattle, someone buys it,"
said Glenn. "This is not an indication of a beleaguered industry." He
also noted that indies "are places where you can incubate new authors.
is a perfect example. They
have several events a day, and [feature] authors that might not find a
willing forum or audience."

Janis Segress, former head buyer for Eagle Harbor Book Co. and co-owner
of the Queen Anne Book Company, agreed:
"Publishers are continuing to spend big dollars on events with authors.
And they come to Seattle and court us because they are aware that the
indie bookstores drive trends."

Segress pointed out the value of knowing your community: "I chose to
open with just one-third of our current inventory. The first year was
really about filling the store with what the community wanted while
balancing national and Pacific Northwest trends."

I picked up a copy of The Jewel by Amy Ewing at the Maple Valley library last week on the recommendation of a friend who knows I like well written YA paranormal series, even if they're dystopian, which is an area of YA fiction that has been too well-trodden of late. the book's cover didn't do it any favors, unfortunately, making it look like another sickly sweet and stupid YA romance without much substance. I'm glad that I didn't stop at the cover, however, because once I started reading The Jewel, I could not put it down. This page-turner has a plot that moves so fast it makes other YA fiction look like it's standing still. the prose is emotional and crisp without being saccharine, and the characters are fully realized and fascinating. Here's the blurb:

The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Selection in this darkly riveting tale that BCCB said “Will have fans of Oliver’s Delirium, Cass’s The Selection, and DeStefano’s Wither breathless.”
The Jewel means wealth, the Jewel means beauty—but for Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Born and raised in the Marsh, Violet is destined for the Jewel. She is trained as a surrogate for the royalty and is bought by the Duchess of the Lake at auction. And she quickly learns the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.
Violet must accept the ugly realities of her life . . . all while trying to stay alive. But before she can accept her fate, Violet meets a handsome boy who is also under the Duchess’s control, and a forbidden love erupts. But their illicit affair has consequences, which will cost them both more than they bargained for. And toeing the line between being calculating and rebellious, Violet must decide what, and who, she is willing to risk for her own freedom.
I honestly didn't find it too dark, and I am not a fan of most horror fiction. Still, Violet's struggle to stay alive, while uncovering the truth, that all surrogates are seen as expendible and they die after childbirth, is only the beginning of the ugly reality underneath the pretty, polished facade that the royalty show to the public. Once Violet meets Ash, who is basically a male prostitute raised to be a companion to young royals and their mothers, she realizes that she will have to try to break down the system and overthrow the royals in order to save herself and her friends and boyfriend I devoured this book so quickly that I had to run back to the library for the sequel, The White Rose, the next day. Even though The Jewel ends on a cliffhanger, I'd still give it an A, and recommend it to anyone who enjoys well written YA fantasy fiction. 
The White Rose by Amy Ewing picks up moments after The Jewel ends, and the Duchess has discovered that Violet has been carrying on a forbidden romance with Ash. Ash is beaten and slated for execution, while Violet is smacked around by the Duchess and then her beloved mute maid is executed by the Duchess before her eyes. Though Violet gave away the potion that would make it appear that she was dead so one of the ladies in waiting could awaken her in the morgue, she still hears from a member of the rebellion that they will rescue her ASAP. She insists, of course, on rescuing Ash as well, and once they're smuggled away from the royals, Violet learns more about her powers and the origins of the Island that has been walled into sections by the royals, who use and abuse everyone outside of their inner circle. Here's the blurb:
Violet is on the run—away from the Jewel, away from a lifetime of servitude, away from the Duchess of the Lake, who bought her at auction. With Ash and Raven traveling with her, Violet will need all of her powers to get her friends, and herself, out of the Jewel alive.
But no matter how far Violet runs, she can’t escape the rebellion brewing just beneath the Jewel’s glittering surface, and her role in it. Violet must decide if she is strong enough to rise against the Jewel and everything she has ever known.

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