Week of June 17 Pull List: Steampunk, Nerds, and Attack of the Beauty Queens?

Anyone with a fondness for books knows how quickly a To Be Read pile can get out of control.  It seems the more I read, the more books end up on that pile.  These are the books that hit my radar and got added to that list over the past week.

This week we have steampunk short stories, what will most definitely be a hilarious nerdy bio, beauty queens gone native, and assorted other supernatural creatures.


Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories – Kelly Link & Gavin Grant

In the first major YA steampunk anthology, fourteen top storytellers push the genre’s mix of sci-fi, fantasy, history, and adventure in fascinating new directions. 

Imagine an alternate universe where romance and technology reign. Where tinkerers and dreamers craft and re-craft a world of automatons, clockworks, calculating machines, and other marvels that never were. Where scientists and schoolgirls, fair folk and Romans, intergalactic bandits, utopian revolutionaries, and intrepid orphans solve crimes, escape from monstrous predicaments, consult oracles, and hover over volcanoes in steam-powered airships. Here, fourteen masters of speculative fiction, including two graphic storytellers, embrace the genre’s established themes and refashion them in surprising ways and settings as diverse as Appalachia, ancient Rome, future Australia, and alternate California. Visionaries Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant have invited all-new explorations and expansions, taking a genre already rich, strange, and inventive in the extreme and challenging contributors to remake it from the ground up. The result is an anthology that defies its genre even as it defines it.

I’m not familiar with the authors who edited this anthology, but all I need is the word “steampunk” and I’m all over it.  I imagine after enough bad steampunk fiction, that trick won’t work anymore, but that hasn’t happened yet.  I’m also intrigued by “intergalactic bandits” and the fact that two contributors are “graphic storytellers”.  This one doesn't come out until October though, so I'll have to find something else to fill my steampunk niche in the meantime.


Nerd Do Well – Simon Pegg

The unique life story of one of Britain's most talented and inventive comedians, star of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Star Trek.  Zombies in North London, death cults in the West Country, the engineering deck of the Enterprise: Simon Pegg has been ploughing some bizarre furrows in recent times. Having blasted onto the small screens with his now legendary sitcom Spaced, his rise to the UK's favourite son status has been mercurial, meteoric, megatronnic, but mostly just plain great. From his childhood (and subsequently adult) obsession with Star Wars, his often passionate friendship with Nick Frost, and his forays into stand-up which began with his regular Monday morning slot in front of his 12-year-old classmates, this is a joyous tale of a homegrown superstar and a loval boy made good.From the Trade Paperback edition.

I actually first heard about this book last summer when Pegg was going about his book tour in the UK and tweeting about it all the time, but last Wednesday he was at our local independent book shop BookPeople for a signing.  Alas, we chose to attend the free early screening of Green Lantern instead, but I’m looking forward to reading the life story of one of the more interesting writer/actor combos currently creating. 


Starcrossed – Josephine Angelini

How do you defy destiny?

Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she's haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.

I’ve been finding a lot of books that are riding the line of being for me and being squarely in the “DO NOT WANT” category.  This is one of those.  I believe I picked it up from a fellow book blogger who is having a contest to win a copy.  It also hits my “twist on a classic story/myth/faerie tale” button.


Beauty Queens – Libba Bray

From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island.  Teen beauty queens. A "Lost"-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to email. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.

I saw this mentioned in an issue of EW and it made me laugh.  Lord of the Flies meets beauty pageants?  I’m in!  Even if it was stone cold serious, I would love to read it, but the added benefit of Libba Bray’s weird sense of humor means it’s already on my reserve list at the library.  And, really, how can you pass up a book that has someone wearing a bullet belt full of lipsticks.


Don’t Breathe a Word – Jennifer McMahon

On a soft summer night in Vermont, twelve-year-old Lisa went into the woods behind her house and never came out again. Before she disappeared, she told her little brother, Sam, about a door that led to a magical place where she would meet the King of the Fairies and become his queen.

Fifteen years later, Phoebe is in love with Sam, a practical, sensible man who doesn’t fear the dark and doesn’t have bad dreams—who, in fact, helps Phoebe ignore her own. But suddenly the couple is faced with a series of eerie, unexplained occurrences that challenge Sam’s hardheaded, realistic view of the world. As they question their reality, a terrible promise Sam made years ago is revealed—a promise that could destroy them all.

Faeries seem to be the next “it” supernatural creature.  This makes me happy.  I like faeries.  They’re mischievous.  The world needs more mischieviousity*.  This sounds a little too “love story” and not enough “faeries making people do crazy things”, but I think I’d give it a chance.  The kid on the cover creeps me out and reminds me of the X-series kids from Dark Angel all at the same time.  These are not bad things.  Though on second look, it might also be a blatant rip off of the cover U2’s “War” album.


*That should definitely be a real word.

All book blurbs pulled from the wonderful Goodreads.com