New project: The Backlist!

I've started a new project: The Backlist

For a long while, I toyed with the idea of giving this site an overhaul to make it fit the vision I have for The Backlist, but ultimately, it didn't make sense to go back and rework twelve years of posts and reviews.

Twelve years! A lot has changed since I started Bookshelves of Doom—for me personally, in terms of my own interests and the way I react to and analyze stories and texts, but also in terms of the blogging world and how we use social media.

In the book world, there's so much focus on the Newest, the Most Recent, the Upcoming, that I—as contrary as ever—am getting less interested in all that, and more and more interested in older books and stories. So at The Backlist, everything I cover is at least five years old. 

I'll be leaving Bookshelves of Doom up—I think the archives will be useful—but unless I do some sort of huge revamp, I'm not planning on updating here much.

Thank you for over a decade of reading and friendship—you all are truly My People—and I hope I'll see you over at The Backlist!

By the catalog: Abrams Kids, 2016.

While I'm at it, here's ANOTHER storify: me live-tweeting the 2016 offerings from Abrams Kids:

On Alice Paul and Historical Erasure.

Holy cow, it's been a while, hasn't it?

I've been busybusy, and winter was garbagegarbage.

We'll see whether or not I have it in me to start posting again with any regularity, but in the meantime, here's a storify of some thoughts I have about an upcoming picture book:

Recently, at Kirkus Reviews...

Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker

Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker

Behold the Bones by Natalie C. Parker

Behold the Bones by Natalie C. Parker

...I've written about Natalie C. Parker's Beware the Wild and Behold the Bones:

It plays with classic horror tropes as well as elements from fairy tales—the danger and wild in nature, the power of belief, the importance of origin—but it’s also very much a story about siblings and family. It deals with domestic abuse—the long-term fallout and how hard it can be to break the cycle—and it explores the lines between love and obsession, the instinct to protect and the desire to control.

American Ace, by Marilyn Nelson

American Ace, by Marilyn Nelson

A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry

A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry well as a little about Marilyn Nelson's American Ace, as well as a list of books it inspired me to pick up:

 It deals with family and culture and race; with the relationships between fathers and sons, between extended family and immediate. Ultimately, it’s less about the mystery itself, and more about how a shift in a person’s understanding of his own identity can affect how he sees the world and his place in it. It’s about discovering history in terms of the macro and the micro—about seeing the larger patterns of history and about how individual people fit into that pattern, about the Tuskegee Airmen as a group and about the individuals who made up the whole.

...and finally, I put together a list of the books I went ahead and bought MYSELF for Valentine's Day:

Last year, I wrote about my decision to give myself a Valentine: pre-ordering a whole slew of upcoming romances. I enjoyed myself so entirely—for months, books just APPEARED in my mailbox, it was like MAGIC—that I’ve decided to make it a personal tradition. But I’ve also decided to give it a tweak: rather than ordering purely upcoming books, I’m going to buy some backlist titles, too!

Laura, by Vera Caspary

Laura, by Vera Caspary

Laura, by Vera Caspary

So, Laura begins:

The city that Sunday morning was quiet. Those millions of New Yorkers who, by need or preference, remain in town over a summer week-end had been crushed spiritless by humidity. Over the island hung a fog that smelled and felt like water in which too many soda-water glasses have been washed. Sitting at my desk, pen in hand, I treasured the sense that among those millions, only I, Waldo Lydecker, was up and doing. The day just past, devoted to shock and misery, had stripped me of sorrow. Now I had gathered strength for the writing of Laura's epitaph. My grief at her sudden and violent death found consolation in the thought that my friend, had she lived to a ripe old age, would have passed into oblivion, whereas the violence of her passing and the genius of her admirer gave her a fair chance at immortality.


(Okay, there's actually a LOT that's interesting about that paragraph—and that last sentence is flat-out FANTASTIC for multiple reasons—but I'm talking about something very specific.)


Dead woman? Named Laura? And then a narrator named Waldo Lydecker

Laura Hunt's public face—like Laura Palmer's—was beautiful and kind and generous, but as the story goes on, you learn that different people knew her in entirely different ways, and the detective who is on the case gets more and more emotionally invested in it... there are more parallels than the names, is what I'm saying. This is not remotely a new connection—the second I Googled it, I discovered that a zillion and six people had already found it—but as I haven't seen the movie and it was the first time I read the book, IT WAS NEW TO ME.

And even beyond all the Twin Peaks stuff, I adored the book. Multiple narrators with entirely distinct voices, police transcripts, a twist I hadn't expected, AND some good zingers about... well, pick a subject. Sexism, gender roles, classism, power dynamics, on and on. I pegged the killer early on, as well as the motive, but that actually made it even better? Adding Bedelia to my TBR list FOR SURE.