Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Fiction: The Hope Factory by Lavanya Sankaran

Publisher: Dial Press
Date: April 23, 2013
Format: ARC
Source: publisher
Read: for review (disclaimer: I received my copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)
Pages: 370
Reading time: six days

From GoodReads: Anand is a Bangalore success story: successful, well married, rich. At least, that’s how he appears. But if his little factory is to grow, he needs land and money, and, in the New India, neither of these is easy to find. Kamala, Anand’s family’s maid, lives perilously close to the edge of disaster. She and her clever teenage son have almost nothing, and their small hopes for self-betterment depend on the contentment of Anand’s wife: a woman to whom whims come easily. But Kamala’s son keeps bad company, and Anand’s marriage is in trouble. The murky world where crime and land and politics meet is a dangerous place for a good man, particularly one on whom the well-being of so many depends.

My review: I don't really have much to say about this. It was a decent read; there's not really anything that I didn't like. There's just nothing that really distinguishes The Hope Factory from similar books, besides the inclusion of servant Kamala's story. A lot of the themes of family values, urban life, the conflict between the traditional and the new, and combating corruption have recurred throughout several of the Anglo-Indian books I've read lately, like Oleander Girl and Family Matters. The writing style didn't stand out to me, and I never became very invested in the characters' personalities and stories. The construction of the plot was solid and interesting, I enjoyed reading the novel, but it's probably not one that will stand out in my memory.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Add It to the List! 5

One of my favorite things to do while procrastinating on homework is browse through books online. Generally, this results in a large number of books being added to my already-enormous wishlist on GoodReads (2866 and counting). Since such procrastination reduces my reading time left after finally finishing homework, I might as well use it to come up with some other blog content.

Countdown City by Ben H. Winters (Quirk Books, 7/16/13)
Sequel to the pre-apocalyptic mystery The Last Policeman, which I reviewed here.

The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu (Angry Robot, 4/30/13)
Quirky-looking sci-fi, just the way I like it.

Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler (Little, Brown, 4/9/13)
Memoir of a teen growing up gay in a very conservative Christian family.

The Hit by Melvin Burgess (Chicken House, 4/4/13)
YA sci-fi with contemporary theme(s).

Daughters of Icarus ed. by Josie E. Brown (Pink Narcissus Press, 3/19/13)
An anthology of feminist speculative fiction!

The Last Quarter of the Moon by Chi Zijian (Harvill Secker, 1/17/13)
Chinese historical novel about a member of the Evenki tribe.

The Eye With Which the Universe Beholds Itself by Ian Sales (Whippleshield Books, Jan. 2013)
Sequel to the novella Adrift on the Sea of Rains, which I reviewed here a couple months ago.

The Blue Kind by Kathryn Born (Switchgrass Books, Nov. 2012)
Dystopia focusing on the position of women within a drug culture.

The Gospel of Us by Owen Sheers (Seren, Oct. 2012)
Has something to do with a retelling of the biblical Passion of Christ.

Under the Moons of Mars: New Adventures on Barsoom by various authors (Simon & Schuster, Feb. 2012)
Anthology of modern stories about Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom.

Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler (Tyndale House, 2011)
Once again, I am obsessed with non-mainstream religious groups/movements.

The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan (various publishers and dates since 2011)
YA sci-fi; looks dystopian and has a cool title relating back to a concept discussed in my English class this semester.

New Stories from the Mabinogion series by various authors (Seren, 2009-2012)
Series of eight retellings, some sci-fi and fantasy, of the Mabinogion stories. I also love the silhouette covers.

Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War by Joe Bageant (Crown, 2007)
I seem to be on a sociological bent lately; this one deals with small-town Virginia.

The Woman Who Loved an Octopus and Other Saints' Tales by Imogen Rhia Herrad (Seren, 2007)
Retellings of the stories of Celtic saints.

Melog by Mihangel Morgan (Seren, 2006)
Some kind of hilarious-looking Welsh satire.

Keeping the Circle: American Indian Identity in Eastern North Carolina, 1885-2004 by Christopher Arris Oakley (Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2005)
Of particular note is that this covers not just the Lumbee and the Tuscarora, but also a bunch of groups I've never heard of.

A Short Book About Love by Nicholas Murray (Seren, 2003)
The first story in this is a retelling of Tristan and Iseult.

Millie-Christine: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made by Joanne Martell (John F. Blair, 2000)
Biography of the conjoined twins (1851-1912) born as slaves in North Carolina.

The Only Land They Knew: American Indians in the Old South by J. Leitch Wright, Jr. (Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1999)

The Southern Colonial Backcountry: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Frontier Communities by various authors (Univ. of Tennessee Press, 1998)

The Dixie Frontier: A Social History of the Southern Frontier from the First Transmontane Beginnings to the Civil War by Everett Dick (Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 1993)
Because I clearly need more Southern history books on my wishlist.

The First Century After Beatrice by Amin Maalouf (1992)
Sci-fi novel by a Lebanese author.

Like a Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World by Jacquelyn Dowd Hall et al. (Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1987)
Reissued in 2000. I'm not sure people realize how important textiles used to be to Southern economies.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Classic Lit: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Publisher: Norton
Date: 1861 (1999)
Format: paperback
Source: purchased used
Read: for Intro to Literary and Cultural Studies
Pages: 360

From GoodReads: Great Expectations charts the progress of Pip from childhood through often painful experiences to adulthood, as he moves from the Kent marshes to busy, commercial London, encountering a variety of extraordinary characters ranging from Magwitch, the escaped convict, to Miss Havisham, locked up with her unhappy past and living with her ward, the arrogant, beautiful Estella. Pip must discover his true self, and his own set of values and priorities. Whether such values allow one to prosper in the complex world of early Victorian England is the major question posed by Great Expectations, one of Dickens's most fascinating, and disturbing, novels.

My review: I read Grave Expectations, the supernatural mash-up of Great Expectations by Sherri Browning Erwin, almost two years ago, and at that time I attributed the strangeness of the plot to the added werewolves and vampires and whatnot. To my surprise, the original is just as weird with its convict-haunted marshes, mad Miss Havisham, and strange Mr. Jaggers. It didn't seem as realistic as I would expect from an author who's known for his novels of social criticism, but hey, it was interesting in its strangeness.

Great Expectations was more enjoyable than I expected, especially given how my parents have described Dickens' writing as overly long-winded and therefore not the most interesting. (To give them credit, they have read several of his novels and attribute his verbose writing to his being paid by the word to write serials.) After dreading Dickens for years, I actually didn't find the book that difficult to read. I even found his writing amusing at times, mostly with his way of playing with words and their meanings as well as deconstructing various details from society and culture. Perhaps I should pick up those other Dickens doorstops that have been languishing on my bookshelf for years...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Review and Giveaway: The Honey Thief by Najaf Mazari and Robert Hillman

Publisher: Viking
Date: April 18, 2013
Format: hardback
Source: publisher
Read: for review (disclaimer: I received my copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)
Pages: 290

From GoodReads: This extraordinary book, derived from the long oral tradition of storytelling in Afghanistan, presents a mesmerizing portrait of a people who triumph with intelligence and humor over the oppressions of political dictators and an unforgiving landscape. A musician conjures stones to rise in the air and teaches his art to a mute child. Master Poisoner, Ghoroob of Mashad, has so perfected his craft that it is considered an honor to die from his meals. These are stories of magic and wonder in which ordinary people endure astonishing extremes in a world of bloodshed and brotherhood, miracles and catastrophes.

My review: The stories in The Honey Thief are a nice mix of oral history and folklore, all drawn from the culture and traditions of the Hazara people in central Afghanistan. It largely stands as a testament to how the Hazara have, in recent history, had to cope with much oppression and warfare, yet they remain strong as a community with a rich, distinct culture.

The stories had a good balance between the depressing, the everyday, and the humorous. Several dealt specifically with the effects of conflict and war. Others focused on daily life, the seemingly mundane rituals and events that continue even in the midst of larger upheavals. Finally, the concluding stories, as well as the recipes included in the back of the book, were increasingly lighthearted and funny. At times bittersweet and at others entertaining, the collection was a great combination of interesting windows into Hazara life, displaying their history and culture, both their travails and their triumphs.

Giveaway: Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy of The Honey Thief to give away! US addresses only; no PO boxes.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Historical Fantasy: The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

Publisher: Dutton
Date: April 23, 2013
Format: ARC
Source: publisher
Read: for review (disclaimer: I received my copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)
Pages: 450
Reading time: one week

From GoodReads: “You are now a member of the Guild. There is no return.” Two hundred years after he was about to die on a Napoleonic battlefield, Nick Falcott, soldier and aristocrat, wakes up in a hospital bed in modern London. The Guild, an entity that controls time travel, showers him with life's advantages. But Nick yearns for home and for one brown-eyed girl, lost now down the centuries. Then the Guild asks him to break its own rule. It needs Nick to go back to 1815 to fight the Guild’s enemies and to find something called the Talisman.

In 1815, Julia Percy mourns the death of her beloved grandfather, an earl who could play with time. On his deathbed he whispers in her ear: “Pretend!” Pretend what? When Nick returns home as if from the dead, older than he should be and battle scarred, Julia begins to suspect that her very life depends upon the secrets Grandfather never told her. Soon enough Julia and Nick are caught up in an adventure that stretches up and down the river of time. As their knowledge of the Guild and their feelings for each other grow, the fate of the future itself is hanging in the balance.

My review: I really enjoyed both the historical atmosphere and the fantasy world-building of The River of No Return. The history aspect was very well-done, including a good bit of cultural, social, economic, and political details of 1815 England. Ridgway tended to try to keep her characters in the mindset of their social position during this time, and the characters occupy a nice balance between being anachronistically modern and having their historical aspects over-emphasized.

The fantasy and history combination made for an interesting mix of the serious and a kind of Austenesque lighthearted fun. On the one hand, there's this intense buildup of sect wars, conspiracies, potential riots, and possible doomsdays. On the other, Ridgway throws in humorous references to pop culture (of both Georgian England and the contemporary U.S.) with time travelers bringing back anachronistic objects, speech, and ideas, while the romance between Nick and Julia is a bit like that out of one of those pulp Regency romance novels.

But what makes me most excited for the sequel (I'm assuming from the final chapters that there will be one) is the fantasy. Even though it's technically set in our own world, the novel feels like it's set in a different one that requires much interesting world-building. The book clearly ends with more about this time-traveling business left to be uncovered. I'm certainly looking forward to seeing what else Ridgway has in store and hoping that it will be as delightful as her debut.

Maturity Factor: Sexual references and acts.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Recent Acquisitions V

For review:
The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson (First Look)
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (First Look)
Icons by Margaret Stohl (publisher)

Birthday gift:
America's Communal Utopias ed. by Donald E. Pitzer
I'd borrowed a copy from a professor earlier this semester and thought it would be a fantastic resource to have for myself.

From the Honors College:
The Fairy Tales of Hermann Hesse

The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies by Robert Kirk
I stopped by the Norman Medieval Fair and couldn't help picking up something at a stall with lots of British Isles folklore books.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

YA Sci-Fi: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Series: Delirium #2
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: February 2012
Format: ARC
Source: ARCycling
Read: for review (disclaimer: I received my copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.)
Pages: 375
Reading time: four days
*spoiler warning: contains spoilers of Delirium as well as slight spoilers of Pandemonium*

Lena has escaped Portland, Maine, for the Wilds, but in the process she lost Alex. In the midst of her grief, she falls in with the resistance. Moving from the hard struggle for life with a group of fellow Invalids to rebellion back in the city, is it possible Lena could fall in love again?

Overall, I think I enjoyed Pandemonium more than Delirium. I dislike romance-driven dystopias, and I found it hard to connect with Lena and Alex's relationship in the first book. It just seemed too cliche. On the contrary, what I really liked about Pandemonium was how Lauren Oliver navigates around some of the genres' tropes. After all, how many authors kill off their main character's love interest?! And while Lena's budding relationship with Julian did seem predictable, it's still perfectly realistic and understandable because of the situations into which they're forced together. No insta-love here, just a lot of scary adventures and running and near-death experiences. Sounds to me like a good way for two people to be drawn closer to each other.

The other main thing I liked about Pandemonium was how un-central the romance was. Sure, Lena's having the typical teen girl dilemma over "I really liked this guy, but he's gone [okay, so in real life the "gone" part usually refers to "unavailable" for various benign reasons, not "dead"]...are these feelings I'm starting to get for someone else alright?", but her musings don't dominate the story. Which is good, because, as she's part of the resistance and getting into all kinds of dangerous scrapes, sorting out her conflicted emotions is maybe not the best use of her time.

So, the plot of Pandemonium is more action- than romance-dominated. Many thanks, Lauren Oliver, from a reader who occasionally wonders if she's emotionally devoid because she just doesn't get most YA romances. Sometimes it felt like the story itself was progressing slowly, but that's because the chapters alternated between Lena's time in the Wilds and the present. The set-up actually made it really interesting to simultaneously see how Lena's mind and body changed in the Wilds and how these changes affected her thoughts and actions while she was with Julian. I breezed right through the book, though I really wish a certain character had not made an unexpected reappearance at the cliff-hanging very end of the novel. They had no right to pop back up, and I found it rather irritating. Though it does leave me curious at to what Requiem has in store, which I suppose is the point.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Switching over from Google Reader...

Okay, so I'm still trying to figure out this Bloglovin thing. But I did just "claim" my blog, which will hopefully add an easy option for following once Google Reader goes down on July 1.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I've also added the Bloglovin link on the sidebar with all the other follow options - RSS, GFC, e-mail, Twitter, etc.

Are there any other options for following that you would like me to add?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Add It to the List! 4

One of my favorite things to do while procrastinating on homework is browse through books online. Generally, this results in a large number of books being added to my already-enormous wishlist on GoodReads (2837 and counting). Since such procrastination reduces my reading time left after finally finishing homework, I might as well use it to come up with other blog content.

Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales ed. by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt (Little, Brown, 10/22/13)
I particularly like that this collection of retellings includes the classics, not just fairy tales.
Looking back through the contents, OH MY GOSH, there's a retelling of Forster's "The Machine Stops"!!!! And The Castle of Otranto!!

Proxy by Alex London (Philomel, 6/18/13)
LGBT sci-fi novel inspired by The Whipping Boy.

The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England's Most Notorious Queen by Susan Bordo (4/9/13)
A look at Boleyn's biography and the cultural history of her fame by a feminist literary scholar.

The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness (Canongate, 4/4/13)
Retelling of a Japanese tale.

Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religions ed. by Cami Ostman and Susan Tive (Seal Press, 4/2/13)
Utopianism, intentional communities, cults, extremist religions, they all end up grouped together in my mind as one great fascinating blob.

The Daughter of Adoption by John Thelwall (Broadview, 3/31/13)
Novel first published in 1801.

The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth (Random House Australia, 3/18/13)
Historical fiction about a romance between Wilhelm Grimm and one of the girls who provided stories for his and his brother's collection.

Whistling Dixie by Anderson Scott (Columbia College Chicago Press, 3/15/13)
As a historical re-enactor and future museum curator (hopefully), a book exploring Civil War re-enacting looks fascinating...even if the price for a new copy is listed at $60 on Amazon.

Forsaken Dreams by MaryLu Tyndall (Barbour Books, 3/1/13)
I'm not usually one for Christian historical romances, but this one deals with the post-Civil War South and involves an utopian attempt in Brazil.

The O'Briens and the O'Flahertys by Sydney Owenson (Broadview, 2/19/13)
Early 19th century novel.

Glossolalia by Marita Dachsel (Anvil Press, 2/15/13)
Novel in verse told by the wives of Joseph Smith. See also my comments for Beyond Belief.

The Humans by Matt Haig (Canongate, 1/1/13)
Sci-fi novel from the perspective of an alien landing on Earth by the author of The Radleys. US release from Simon and Schuster, 7/2/13.

Medieval Tales and Stories: 108 Prose Narratives of the Middle Ages ed. by Stanley Appelbaum (Dover, 2011)

The Waterproof Bible by Andrew Kaufman (Random House Canada, 2010)
Looks like a quirky magical realist or fantasy novel.

Still Fighting the Civil War: The American South and Southern History by David R. Goldfield (Louisiana State Univ. Press, 2002)
Again, I'm interested in what I guess is the cultural history of the Civil War. I'm actually not much of a CW buff, though, despite how many CW-related books are on this list.

The Grateful Dead: The History of a Folk Story by Gordon Hall Gerould (Univ. of Illinois Press, 2000)
Reprint of a folklore book from 1908; I have Gerould's translation of Beowulf and similar poems.

The Truest Pleasure by Robert Morgan (Algonquin, 1995)
Local interest historical fiction - western NC Pentecostals at the turn of the century.

Outwitting the Devil: Jack Tales from Wise County, Virginia ed. by Charles L. Perdue (Ancient City Press, 1987)
Jack Tales, the staple of Appalachian folklore. These were collected by the WPA.

A Short History of a Small Place by T.R. Pearson (1985)
Humorous novel about a small NC town.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Nonfiction: Mountain Jack Tales by Gail E. Haley

Publisher: Dutton
Date: 1992
Format: hardback
Source: library sale
Read: because I was feeling nostalgic for western North Carolina
Pages: 125

From GoodReads: Jack is the universal folk hero and adventurer. Tales of Jack's adventures are as timeless as bedrock but as fresh as dawn in the Appalachian hills. Whether Jack is outsmarting ogres, besting card sharks, wrestling with ornery witches, or even taking on Old Man Death himself, the plainspoken hero's common sense, goodness, and hill-country humor help him come out on top every time. 

My review: This collection of Appalachian Jack Tales contains ten stories as well as lovely engraved illustrations by the author. The tales are charming and, at least superficially, simple. Haley includes a lot of dialect (not to the extent that the book is at all difficult to read), which adds to the oral style of her writing. You can almost hear "Poppyseed's" voice telling the stories aloud as they were originally told. I was particularly interested in the motifs from other folktales that appeared, as well as the common themes of a longing for wealth in a hardscrabble life. These stories are occasionally comical and always enjoyable to read. I highly recommend Haley's collection if you're either interested in folklore or are just looking for a good storybook to read to your kids (or both!).

I have also reviewed Richard Chase's collection of Jack Tales here. Chase's book has about twice as many stories, but I think I enjoyed Haley's method of storytelling more.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Historical Fiction: The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein

Publisher: W.W. Norton
Date: March 11, 2013
Format: ARC
Source: GoodReads First Look
Read: for review (disclaimer: I received my copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)
Pages: 378

From GoodReads: In this evocative and thrilling epic novel, fifteen-year-old Yoshi Kobayashi, child of Japan’s New Empire, daughter of an ardent expansionist and a mother with a haunting past, is on her way home on a March night when American bombers shower her city with napalm—an attack that leaves one hundred thousand dead within hours and half the city in ashen ruins. In the days that follow, Yoshi’s old life will blur beyond recognition, leading her to a new world marked by destruction and shaped by those considered the enemy: Cam, a downed bomber pilot taken prisoner by the Imperial Japanese Army; Anton, a gifted architect who helped modernize Tokyo’s prewar skyline but is now charged with destroying it; and Billy, an Occupation soldier who arrives in the blackened city with a dark secret of his own. Directly or indirectly, each will shape Yoshi’s journey as she seeks safety, love, and redemption.

My review: I enjoyed this look at both pre-WWII life in Japan as well as the aftermath of the war, especially of the bombing of Tokyo. At least for most Americans' views of history (including, unfortunately, my own), the bombing of Tokyo has been largely overshadowed by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Epstein sums it up powerfully at one point, when Yoshi wonders "What kind of a people...does what was done that day and then has no concept of the enormity of their act?" (p339 of the ARC)* Epstein's novel helps provide a bridge over this gap in our historical understanding.

The wide array of characters, including both Japanese and American citizens, both civilians and military, was nice at some points and a detraction from the story at others. The many perspectives on the war, coming from different points in time, provided a good sense of nuance while offering insights into a variety of experiences. However, sometimes I felt like the characters' stories were not as developed as they could have been. The telling of their lives didn't feel very complete, as if sizable chunks had been omitted in order for the timeline and perspective to change. Rather than coming away with a fairly comprehensive view of the central event, I was left wanting to know even more about what everyone had experienced.

*Note that the quote may be different in the finished book. I don't have access to a finished copy to check against.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Fiction: Narcissus and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse

Publisher: Bantam
Translator: Ursule Molinaro
Date: 1930 (1971)
Format: paperback
Source: OU Honors College
Read: as part of an Honors College informal reading group
Pages: 312

From GoodReads: Hesse's novel of two medieval men, one quietly  content with his religion and monastic life, the  other in fervent search of more worldly salvation.  This conflict between flesh and spirit, between  emotional and contemplative man, was a life study for  Hesse. It is a theme that transcends all time.  

My review: One of the reading groups in which I've participated this semester has been slowly reading its way through Narcissus and Goldmund and a selection of Hesse's poems. I've concluded that Hesse's work is deeply introspective and personal, like a glimpse into his thoughts and musings. Because of this, I think it's difficult to enjoy his writing unless you personally identify with his way of thinking. I don't identify with his themes and philosophizing, so Narcissus and Goldmund, while not a book I disliked, was also not one I greatly enjoyed reading. I didn't feel like I could really appreciate and understand the meaning of the novel. In my case, at least, it's one of those books that you read but don't absorb much from; it doesn't leave the reader with much unless he or she was able to personally connect to it.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mini-Reviews: Sojourner Truth, Fox Forever, Like Water for Chocolate

I apologize for only doing mini-reviews of these three books, but I finished them a while back and didn't really have a whole lot to say about them.

Sojourner Truth: A Life, a Symbol by Nell Irvin Painter
read for The History Sleuth class
Painter's biography of Isabella van Wagenen/Sojourner Truth is expertly researched (with endnotes!) and written. She explores the truth (no pun intended) behind Truth's experiences most mythologized in later accounts and memory, showing Truth's biographical background and involvement in many social and religious movements of the mid-19th century. This biography is both fascinating and well-written.

Fox Forever (Jenna Fox Chronicles #3) by Mary E. Pearson
ARC provided by publisher
publication date: March 19, 2013
Having now concluded this series, I can say the first book definitely outshined its sequels. Not that Fox Forever wasn't an enjoyable read - the plot was exciting, and it was nice to encounter some of the same characters again. But the character development felt a bit flat, I could see some of the stuff coming, and overall, the book just didn't stick in my head like the first one did.

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
translators: Carol and Thomas Christensen
This reminded me a lot of the themes from other magical realist works, namely The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and Love in the Time of Cholera. But, unlike with Aimee Bender's and Gabriel Garcia Marquez's works, I couldn't get into the story. I'm not sure why the novel kind of fell flat for me - usually I absolutely love the craziness of magical realism - but I just breezed through the book without getting much from the characters and their experiences.

(Like Water for Chocolate)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Recent Acquisitions IV

For review:
In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell (First Look)
Or, the book title with the most prepositional phrases ever.
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver (thanks, Alice and ARCycling!)
I wasn't a huge fan of Delirium, but I hate not finishing series.

Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon (thanks, Natalie @ Literary Rambles!)

Purchased used:
The Indians of New Jersey: Dickon Among the Lenapes by M.R. Harrington
1938 anthropological novel, republished by a university press.
Northern Tales ed. by Howard Norman
Part of the Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library; knowing how some people collect this series, I was quite happy to find a nearly-new copy for $2.

Purchased from Bookcloseouts.com:
Dominion by Calvin Baker
Local interest historical fiction - covers three generations of an African family in the Carolina wilderness.
Brave Enemies by Robert Morgan
Local interest historical fiction - Methodist itinerancy, colonial NC militia, and the Battle of Cowpens.
The Ballad of Tom Dooley by Sharyn McCrumb
Local interest historical fiction - 1860s murder of Laura Foster in the NC mountains.
The Mirage by Matt Ruff
Finally! I've been after this alternate history novel reversing the positions of the U.S. and the 9/11 terrorists since before it came out over a year ago.
No One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel
This came out around the same time as Mirage and has been on my wishlist for the same amount of time...looks like an interesting take on the Holocaust.
In Utopia: Six Kinds of Eden and the Search for a Better Paradise by J.C. Hallman

From WLT Book Club:
Beneath the Lion's Gaze by Maaza Mengiste