General blog posts

Something After the End: Ben Interviews Jeff Jackson, Author of DESTROY ALL MONSTERS

When I read Jeff Jackson’s 2013 novel Mira Corpora, it blew my mind. It felt so of its moment, in terms of its literary heft: it was an experimental novel that was still friendly, beautifully written and designed, an exemplar of “indie lit” at a moment when independent presses were on the rise gloriously (its publisher, Two Dollar Radio, sort of cornered the market on this kind of adventurous literature back then). But it also felt somewhat of the mainstream, and not in a bad way. It came with a blurb from Don DeLillo, after all. How many debut novels can claim that?

Destroy All Monsters: The Last Rock Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374537661
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: FSG Originals - October 16th, 2018

Food and Family are Universals: Joy Interviews Emily Jenkins, Author of ALL-OF-A-KIND FAMILY HANUKKAH

One of my very favorite series growing up was Sydney Taylor’s ALL OF A KIND FAMILY, about five Jewish sisters growing up at the turn of the 20th century in New York City’s Lower East Side. The stories are delightful-- vivid and funny and warm, with clear Jewish representation and plots that are about everyday life adventures, not issues. I read them over and over. So imagine my excitement when I saw that one of my favorite authors for young people, Emily Jenkins, had been asked to write the  ALL OF A KIND FAMILY HANUKKAH picture book!

All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah Cover Image
By Emily Jenkins, Paul O. Zelinsky (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780399554193
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Schwartz & Wade - September 11th, 2018

A Book of My Heart: Joy Interviews Author Cynthia Leitich Smith

If you are not familiar with the work of children’s and young adult author Cynthia Leitich Smith, I hope you will be soon. Cyn is a prolific and thoughtful writer of everything from picture books to supernatural to contemporary and more. She’s a New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller, an MFA instructor at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and a mentor to many kidlit authors, including me.

Hearts Unbroken Cover Image
ISBN: 9780763681142
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Candlewick - October 9th, 2018

Dust, Light, and Air: Alexis Reviews Jeffrey Yang's HEY, MARFA

Jeffrey Yang’s Hey, Marfa presents a multifaceted look at the tiny, West Texas town of Marfa, a self-referential art town that thrives on aesthetic and feeds philosophical thought. The poet uses dense nouns and verbs juxtaposed create a surplus of image-based poems, alongside the more historical, narrative-based pieces. Yang references the town’s focus on art in poems like “Thirteen Stations” when he describes the landscape as expressing “titanium white wisps / brushed raw sienna earth”, calling to mind the names for tubes of paint. Poems like “Circle” are wistful in tone.

Hey, Marfa: Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555978198
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - October 2nd, 2018

Alexis Interviews Nell Painter, Author of OLD IN ART SCHOOL

I was drawn to Nell Painter’s memoir the first time I glimpsed the cover and title of Old in Art School. I read a couple of pages and was immediately engrossed. Her candor and vivacity kept me engaged throughout the chapters as I experienced how her journey back to art school in her older years transformed her conception of art, herself, and her career. I spoke with her to explore more of what inspired her to write about her experiences and where else she’s headed!

Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over Cover Image
ISBN: 9781640090613
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Counterpoint LLC - June 19th, 2018

Frankenstein in the 21st Century: A Book List

It’s October 30th; are you feeling spooky yet? Not only is Halloween tomorrow, but this year is also the 200th anniversary of FRANKENSTEIN, by Mary Shelley.

If you haven’t read this heart-stopping tale of science and horror, now’s a better time than ever. But if you have read it, and are hungry for more, check out these contemporary books along the same theme.

Frankenstein in Baghdad: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143128793
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - January 23rd, 2018

Frankenstein gets a contemporary Middle Eastern take with Sadaawi’s book. Hadi, an oddball and city scavenger, takes on the role of Dr. Frankenstein as he collects body parts from the war-torn streets of Baghdad. He sews them together — not for science, but to push the government into recognizing the hewn-together corpses as people, thus giving them the right to a proper burial. In a shocking plot twist (well, it’s a Frankenstein story, so maybe you’re expecting this), a corpse goes missing from his shed. And a monster is created.

Sadaawi’s take on Frankenstein is steeped in cultural tradition, all the while pointedly referencing the contemporary political state in Iraq. It’s dark and funny, with singular characters — everything we want for a good, thought-provoking halloween read.

Desirable Body (The Margellos World Republic of Letters) Cover Image
By Hubert Haddad, Alyson Waters (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780300224368
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Yale University Press - August 21st, 2018

While Frankenstein in Baghdad is a darkly humorous side-eye at our political situation, Hubert Haddad’s book takes on the ethical and psychological ramifications of body transplants. In Desirable Body, our protagonist is the “Frankenstein’s Monster” himself, a journalist named Cédric Allyn-Weberson.

When Cédric is paralyzed from the neck down, he becomes a perfect candidate for a full-body transplant. While he physically survives the surgery, he comes out with a new set of troubles, both physical and existential. This book has all the gory details you need, plus a good helping of provocative philosophical musings.

I.D. Cover Image
By Emma Rios, Emma Rios (Artist)
ISBN: 9781632157829
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Image Comics - June 28th, 2016

Dig deeper into body woes with Emma Rios’ touching and thoughtful graphic novel, I.D. This slim volume focuses on several individuals who consider a body transplant the solution to their struggles. This remarkable read digs into dystopia, dysphoria, and more.

Emma uses the visual format to dig deeper into her theme with a totally monochromatic layout: “Choosing the reds was basically because this kind of palette on one hand feels very delicate and on the other nastily fleshy. I wanted to work in an emotional level from within these characters but I also wanted to slice brains and make some images uncomfortable, so pink and red felt quite accurate of that.” (check out the rest of her Multiversity interview here).

Frankenstein Alive, Alive: The Complete Collection Cover Image
By Steve Niles, Bernie Wrightson (Illustrator), Kelley Jones (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781684053377
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: IDW Publishing - October 30th, 2018

If you’re a comics fan, there are some incredible Franken-options. FRANKENSTEIN ALIVE, ALIVE is the product of a collaboration between Steve Niles, horror writer, and Bernie Wrightson, iconic comic illustrator for both DC and Marvel. This edition collects all four issues of ALIVE, ALIVE, with images scanned from the original art. At Wrightson’s untimely passing, artist Kelley Jones stepped in to complete the illustrations for the final issue.

This volume, including an extended gallery of never-before-seen layouts and pencils, is perfect for the comics connoisseur.

Spare and Found Parts Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062408884
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Greenwillow Books - October 4th, 2016

Frankenstein is often considered the first science fictional novel. With Sarah Maria Griffin’s new book, she pushes Frankenstein further with developed technology and biomechanical limbs.

After an epidemic, all survivors are missing body parts. Luckily, a famed scientist pioneers mechanical limbs. Nell, our main character, is his daughter — and she’s also the only one with her machinery on the inside. She has a biomechanical heart that ticks, and it’s made her an outsider all her life. The world of SPARE AND FOUND PARTS brings dystopia to a coming-of-age Young Adult novel.

Victor LaValle's Destroyer Cover Image
By Victor LaValle, Dietrich Smith (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781684150557
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: BOOM! Studios - March 6th, 2018

Victor Lavalle combines the science fiction of Frankenstein with very contemporary US issues. Dr. Jo Baker is the descendant of Dr. Frankenstein. After losing her young son, Akai, to senseless police brutality, she seeks justice in science: she creates a Frankenstein’s Monster figure who, instead of craving affection, craves the total destruction of humanity.

Victor Lavalle merges history, technology, and fantasy; he uses script from the 911 phone call that occurred before Tamir Rice’s death and inspiration from Michael Brown’s autopsy. The cybernetic body parts on Frankenstein-Akai are where Akai was injured. DESTROYER is a dynamic portrayal of Frankenstein with a deep political weight.

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525577942
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Delacorte Press - September 25th, 2018

Elizabeth Lavenza hasn't had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her "caregiver," and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything –– except a friend. If you're looking for a spooky Halloween horror that will get your heart pounding (whether you typically read YA or not), this is it.

As our Children’s Specialist Laura says, “It’s so good… and it’s DARK.” So take that as you will.

Bend What's Expected: Bao Phi's THOUSAND STAR HOTEL

Thousand Star Hotel, Bao Phi’s powerful second collection of poetry, wrestles with inheritance and lineage – the devastation of war, poverty, racism and the costs of masculinity. In the book’s opening poem, “Say What?,” Phi uses a repetition of the word “Ma” and the six different meanings in Vietnamese to conclude that “Vietnamese people have always been spoken word poets.

Thousand Star Hotel Cover Image
By Bao Phi
ISBN: 9781566894708
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - July 4th, 2017

Intentions, Hot Takes, and Forgiveness: Joy Interviews Leila Sales

I’ve been a huge fan of Leila Sales’ writing since I picked up a copy of THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE, about about a girl DJ, the power of music, relationships, and more. Sales’ voice grabbed me then and hasn’t let me go since. So what a true pleasure to be able to interview her about writing, life, Twitter-dragging, moral grey areas, and her newest and very timely YA IF YOU DON’T HAVE ANYTHING NICE TO SAY about girl who thoughtlessly says something truly awful on line and has to deal with the public and personal fallout. Here’s what Leila had to say:

If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374380991
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) - May 1st, 2018

Joy Interviews Elana K. Arnold, Author of DAMSEL

I recently had the privilege of meeting author Elana K. Arnold at the Austin SCBWI conference. She was giving one of the keynotes and I was presenting a breakout session, and somehow we sat together at dinner. The ensuing conversation over chips and guacamole and margaritas about literature and life and feminism and fairy tales and more was so fascinating that I asked her right then if I could interview her. And then I read DAMSEL. It is a powerful novel, skillfully written and raw in its emotions even as Arnold uses fairy tale narrative structure.

Damsel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062742322
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Balzer + Bray - October 2nd, 2018