Emily Morelli

Chickentown, U.S.

A., the setting for Clive Barker's magical new novel for young people, is the most boring place in the world. Tired of a purposeless life with her perpetually depressed mother and alcoholic father, Candy Quackenbush is desperate to escape the monotony of a Minnesota town notable only for its chicken-processing plants. The opportunity comes on a day when, fed up with her mean-spirited teacher, Candy walks out of school and is drawn to the prairie at the edge of town. There, she finds a broken-down lighthouse, a thief named John Mischief with seven extra heads, and an ocean that appears and carries her to another world called the Abarat, where each island represents a different hour of the day. Once in the Abarat, Candy is targeted by Christopher Carrion, the malicious Lord of Midnight from whom John Mischief stole a mysterious key. As she travels across the islands, however, it soon becomes clear that Candy is under Carrion's scrutiny for more reasons than her involvement with Mischief. The more time she spends in the Abarat, the more it seems that she has been there before, and that her role in the changing future of the islands will be greater than she could have thought.

In this novel aimed at young adults, Barker presents the reader with a host of very disturbing characters: deformed men created from mud, giant moths formed from mummified corpses, and a powerful magician who comforts himself by literally drinking in his insane thoughts. Without encouraging too many nightmares, Barker tempers the horror factor with elements of fantasy and adventure that will entertain and fascinate his readers. Accompanying the text are more than a hundred spectacular full-color paintings that Barker himself spent four years completing to illuminate his fantastic tale. With the presence of so many bizarre creatures throughout the book, illustrations that exemplify just what the author had in mind when he dreamed them up are welcome. The paintings are often integrated into the text, enhancing the surreal atmosphere of the story and drawing the reader further into the world they depict. From preteens to adults, readers who love fantasy and excitement will lose themselves in Barker's intricate narrative and eagerly await the next installment in the series. Emily Morelli is a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Chickentown, U.S. A., the setting for Clive Barker's magical new novel for young people, is the most boring place in the world. Tired of a purposeless life with her perpetually depressed mother and alcoholic father, Candy Quackenbush is desperate to escape the monotony of a Minnesota town notable only for its chicken-processing plants. The opportunity […]

Haven't you always wanted to form your own country? Why not take all the gold from Fort Knox or borrow” the Mona Lisa to pay for your personal sovereign nation? All these unlikely activities and more are detailed in Hunter S. Fulghum's new book, Don't Try This At Home: How to Win a Sumo Match, Catch a Great White Shark, Start an Independent Nation and Other Extraordinary Feats (For Ordinary People). Drawing on the success of the Worst-Case Scenario series, Fulghum goes one step further and provides instructions on how to perform the kinds of death-defying action hero stunts that look impossible even on the big screen. While readers are, of course, cautioned not to actually attempt any of these stunts, the instructions provided are surprisingly thorough. Each activity, from smuggling top secret documents to rescuing POWs, is accompanied by a detailed list of what you'll need, approximately how long the mission will take and step-by-step instructions that guide you through the process.

While impractical, the outlines make for fascinating reading and will most likely increase your respect for anyone who could actually pull off these stunts. For most of us, the opportunity to be a real-life action hero will never come, but at least we can rest assured that, should the day arise, we'll be prepared.

Haven't you always wanted to form your own country? Why not take all the gold from Fort Knox or borrow” the Mona Lisa to pay for your personal sovereign nation? All these unlikely activities and more are detailed in Hunter S. Fulghum's new book, Don't Try This At Home: How to Win a Sumo Match, […]

Coraline Jones and her parents have just moved into a house so big they share it with an old man who trains mice upstairs and an aging former actresses in the basement. An avid explorer, Coraline investigates the large garden and grounds around her new home until a heavy rain forces her to confront every active child's nightmare an entire day stuck inside with nothing to do. So she turns to exploring the inside of the house, and in a corner of the seldom-used drawing room, finds something puzzling a locked wooden door that reveals only a brick wall when her mother opens it with a huge rusty key.

One day when her parents are away, Coraline opens the door again and finds that the bricks have vanished, revealing a dark corridor that leads to an almost exact copy of her own house, complete with another mother and father, who have pale white skin and shiny black button eyes. They feed her delicious food and let her play in a room with toys that move on their own. They seem completely devoted to her happiness. This new world is certainly more interesting than the one Coraline left behind, but the longer she stays the less wonderful and more frightening it becomes. Soon, her other parents want to replace her eyes with shiny black buttons like theirs in order to keep her with them "for ever and always," and Coraline decides to flee to the comfort of her real parents. When she returns through the door, however, she finds that they have disappeared. It soon becomes clear that her other mother has captured her real parents in an attempt to lure Coraline back. Despite her growing fear, she must return and find a way to save them and escape her other mother's vengeful anger.

In Coraline, Neil Gaiman creates a world that is both familiar and frightening, and his long-time collaborator Dave McKean's wonderfully disturbing illustrations give the story a surreal, haunting atmosphere.

Gaiman has said that of all his books, Coraline "took the longest to write, and it's the book I'm proudest of." And for good reason. His first novel for younger readers is truly unnerving, completely original and well worth a look.

BookPage intern Emily Morelli is a student at the University of North Carolina.

 

Coraline Jones and her parents have just moved into a house so big they share it with an old man who trains mice upstairs and an aging former actresses in the basement. An avid explorer, Coraline investigates the large garden and grounds around her new home until a heavy rain forces her to confront every […]

Born in 1932 into a proud and happy family in Portland, Oregon, Bill Porter was still an infant when his mother found out he had cerebral palsy. Despite the advice of doctors that he be institutionalized, Bill's mother was determined to keep him at home and help him live a normal life. In the inspiring new book Ten Things I Learned From Bill Porter (New World Library, $20, 160 pages, ISBN 1577312031) we see how her devotion and Bill's own perseverance paid off. Though his speech was slurred, and he had problems with painful and uncooperative muscles, Porter never felt sorry for himself or complained about his condition. Faced with unsympathetic unemployment workers who wanted him to stay home and collect disability, he began selling household products door-to-door and went on to become his company's top salesman.

Shelly Brady was a 17-year-old high school student when she first got a job assisting Porter by delivering products to his customers, and once she was out of college she became his personal assistant and, more importantly, his good friend. In her book, Brady shares the values and attitudes that made Porter such a special and influential presence in her life. His passion for his work and unflagging optimism are just a few of the qualities that made him a success and an inspiration for the thousands who heard his story, which was first broadcast on ABC's 20/20. Filled with personal anecdotes from Porter's life, this book is a marvelous and moving account of how one man's determination changed many lives in addition to his own.

Lessons like “live your values” may seem simple, but Porter's story (adapted into a television movie that debuted in July) is evidence that the simplest rules for living are often the most profound. Porter loves to say, “Never doubt that your life is important,” and this book proves his point beautifully.

Born in 1932 into a proud and happy family in Portland, Oregon, Bill Porter was still an infant when his mother found out he had cerebral palsy. Despite the advice of doctors that he be institutionalized, Bill's mother was determined to keep him at home and help him live a normal life. In the inspiring […]

What kind of advice columnist advocates incest, cannibalism and polygamy? One whose clientele includes moths, slime molds and elephants, among other non-human correspondents. In Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation (Metropolitan, $24, 272 pages, ISBN 0805063315), biologist Olivia Judson introduces us to the fictional Dr. Tatiana, the only advice columnist to focus on romance in the animal kingdom. The reader might be startled by some of the questions (“I'm a queen bee . . . all my lovers leave their genitals inside me and then drop dead. Is this normal?”) but the purpose of the parody soon becomes clear. What appears to be a collection of tongue-in-cheek advice columns quickly develops into a fascinating study of evolutionary biology.

Judson uses Dr. Tatiana as a vehicle for in-depth discussion of sexual practices that may seem brutal, immoral or even counterintuitive to the casual observer, but are, in fact, essential to species survival. Although she covers complex concepts, Judson keeps her explanations simple, creating a readable and entertaining guide that explains what those birds and bees are up to.

While the more bizarre mating rituals have a sort of morbid appeal, the most amusing letters are from animals who share human concerns: the self-conscious peacock with less than spectacular plumage who can't get a date might remind you of an insecure friend. And if the dating scene is getting you down, take heart in comparison with some species, humans have it made. If your blind date turns out to be a disaster, at least she won't try to bite your head off when the evening ends. Emily Morelli

What kind of advice columnist advocates incest, cannibalism and polygamy? One whose clientele includes moths, slime molds and elephants, among other non-human correspondents. In Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation (Metropolitan, $24, 272 pages, ISBN 0805063315), biologist Olivia Judson introduces us to the fictional Dr. Tatiana, the only advice columnist to focus on romance […]

Since the age of three, Sylvia Browne has used her psychic talents to give comfort to grieving families and help those seeking guidance for the future. A best-selling author who appears frequently on TV, Browne turned her talents to dreams many years ago while teaching a college course in California. Her students kept talking about their dreams, prompting Browne to begin studying both her dreams and those of her readers and fans. In her new book, Sylvia Browne's Book of Dreams, Browne maintains that many of her self-professed skills premonition, telepathy and the ability to “visit” the dead are shared by almost everyone who dreams. Once people realize their potential for these talents and learn simple ways to practice them, Browne says, these skills can be improved and used nightly. BookPage recently asked Browne about her new book and her own experiences with dreams.

BookPage: What benefits have there been in your life since you've started exploring the world of dreams? Sylvia Browne: The world of dreams opens up ways for us to release negative thoughts, to program positive ones, to reach loved ones who have passed and even to be precognitive. How can you identify dreams that are past life memories? Past life dreams usually come with a very distinct setting. Feeling or seeing yourself as an American Indian or in a Victorian setting, etc. especially if it happens often, can indicate that you may have once lived in that time or place.

Is there a way to get rid of recurring nightmares or traumatic dreams? When you have a nightmare, question yourself about what preceded or may have triggered this dream. Then tell yourself during that dream that you will face your fears and turn it into good rather than bad.

What are the benefits of keeping a dream journal? The benefits of a dream journal are great because patterns begin to form of fears that have to be dismissed, old hurts you have to let go of, or things that are to come.

What if you just can't remember your dreams? Is there a way to make the process of remembering them easier? All people dream, they just often go in too deep. So ask God before you go to sleep to help you remember your dreams, and keep a pen and paper by your bed to write them down as soon as you wake up.

You include a lot of prayers in your book. Do you see prayer as an essential way to understand and constructively use what we experience in our dreams? I include prayer in all my books. I think every part of life should have God included. Yes, ask God and you will receive.

Since the age of three, Sylvia Browne has used her psychic talents to give comfort to grieving families and help those seeking guidance for the future. A best-selling author who appears frequently on TV, Browne turned her talents to dreams many years ago while teaching a college course in California. Her students kept talking about […]

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our enewsletters to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres.

Trending Features

Sign Up

Sign up to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres!