With Bated Breath


October 13, 2012 by Heidi

With Bated Breath is a regular feature at Bunbury in the Stacks where I feature books I’ve recently added to my TBR, whether they be up-and-coming, or books from the past that have been brought to my attention.

So…I really haven’t done a non-monthly release With Bated Breath post since June?  Really?  Woops!  Blogger FAIL.  High time to get my butt in gear!  Because I have some potentially amazing reads to share with you today:

Unfettered ed. by Shawn Speakman book coverUnfettered ed. by Shawn Speakman
2013 by Grimm Oak Press

You define life or it defines you.

In Shawn Speakman’s case, it was both.

Lacking health insurance and diagnosed with Hogdkin’s lymphoma in 2011, Shawn quickly accrued a massive medical debt that he did not have the ability to pay. That’s when New York Times best-selling author Terry Brooks offered to donate a short story Shawn could sell toward alleviating those bills—and suggested Shawn ask the same of his other friends.

Unfettered is the result, an anthology built to relieve that debt, featuring short stories by some of the best fantasy writers in the genre.

Every story in this volume is new and, like the title suggests, the writers were free to write whatever they wished. Authors contributing are
-The Shade of Allanon by Terry Brooks (a Shannara tale)
-Imaginary Friends by Terry Brooks (a precursor to the Word/Void trilogy)
-How Old Holly Came To Be by Patrick Rothfuss (a Four Corners tale)
-River of Souls by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson (a Wheel of Time tale)
-The Old Scale Game by Tad Williams
-Martyr of the Roses by Jacqueline Carey (a precursor to the Kushiel series)
-Dogs by Daniel Abraham
-Mudboy by Peter V. Brett (a Demon Cycle tale)
-Nocturne by Robert V. S. Redick
-The Sound of Broken Absolutes by Peter Orullian (a Vault of Heaven tale)
-Untitled by Geno & R.A. Salvatore
-Keeper of Memory by Todd Lockwood (a Summer Dragon tale)
-Game of Chance by Carrie Vaughn
-The Lasting Doubts of Joaquin Lopez by Blake Charlton
-The Chapel Perilous by Kevin Hearne (an Iron Druid tale)
-Select Mode by Mark Lawrence (a Broken Empire tale)
-All the Girls Love Michael Stein by David Anthony Durham
-Strange Rain by Jennifer Bosworth (a Struck epilogue tale)
-Unbowed by Eldon Thompson (a Legend of Asahiel tale)
-Untitled by Naomi Novik (a Temeraire tale)
-The Jester by Michael J. Sullivan (a Riyria Chronicles tale)
-The Duel by Lev Grossman (a Magicians tale)
-The Unfettered Knight by Shawn Speakman (an Annwn Cycle tale)
and artist Todd Lockwood, who donated artwork as well as a story.

With the help of stalwart friends and these wonderful short stories, Shawn has taken the gravest of life hardships and created something magical. Unfettered is not only a fantastic anthology in its own right but it’s a testament to the generosity found in the science fiction and fantasy community—proof that humanity can give beyond itself when the need arises.

After all, isn’t that the driving narrative in fantasy literature?

Patrick Rothfuss mentioned this book on his blog this past week because um…hello?  He has a story in it!  Along with Jacqueline Carey, Naomi Novik, Brandon Sanderson, Terry Brooks, and other goodness.  And the proceeds go to a good cause, so it’s a win win.

Ombria in Shadow by Patricia A. McKillip book cover

Ombria in Shadow by Patricia McKillip
February 4th, 2003 by Ace Trade

Ombria is a place heaped with history — and secrets. There is a buried city beneath it inhabited by ghosts, accessible only through magical passages and long-forgotten doorways. When the Prince of Ombria dies suddenly, his wicked great-aunt Domina Pearl seizes power by becoming regent to the prince’s young son, Kyel. Minutes after the prince’s death, Domina kicks Lydea, the prince’s longtime mistress, out into the streets to die. But she is saved by a strange girl named Mag, a supposed waxling created by a powerful sorceress who lives underneath the city. With the help of Mag and the prince’s bastard nephew, a strange, silver-eyed man obsessed with drawing, Lydea tries to save Kyel and somehow defeat Domina.

And when I say Ombria in Shadow, what I mean is any and all Patricia McKillip!  How have I never read any of her work before?  I struggled to pick which book to blurb here because they all sound so amazing!  After Nafiza reviewed McKillip’s new anthology, Wonders of the Invisible World, and Kristen talked about her in her The Leaning Pile of Books feature I became enraptured with the idea of reading one of her books.  All of them sound amazing, anyone have recommendations/favorites?

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Steaphanie Perkins book coverLola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
September 29th, 2011 by Dutton Books

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit—more sparkly, more fun, more wild—the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket—a gifted inventor—steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

I liked Anna and the French Kiss when I read it, but I didn’t love it.  In fact, I thought Etienne St. Claire was a bit of a douche, and the more I sit around the blogosphere and see girls swooning over him the more bitter toward that book I become.  I don’t think he was the worst guy ever, but I didn’t think he treated Anna or his girlfriend very well, and seeing how much everyone loves him just makes me hate him more.  I was complaining about this on Twitter earlier this week, and lovely bloggers Jamie, and Cassie helped convince me that I ought to give Lola a chance, because I’ll probably (hopefully) like Cricket more.

A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce book cover

A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce
March 1st, 2008 by Arthur A. Levine Books

This ravishing winner of the ALA’s William C. Morris YA Debut Award is a fairy tale, spun with a mystery, woven with a family story, and shot through with romance.

Charlotte Miller has always scoffed at talk of a curse on her family’s woolen mill, which holds her beloved small town together. But after her father’s death, the bad luck piles up: departing workers, impossible debts, an overbearing uncle. Then a stranger named Jack Spinner offers a tempting proposition: He can turn straw into gold thread, for the small price of her mother’s ring. As Charlotte is drawn deeper into her bargains with Spinner-and a romance with the local banker-she must unravel the truth of the curse on the mill and save the community she’s always called home.

Um…a Rumpelstiltskin retelling with Angie’s seal of approval?  Yes, please!  Angie brought this one up in her contribution to If You Like This, You Might Like That over at The Readventurer and completely sold me.  On this and just about every other book she mentioned.

The River Between Us by Richard Peck book coverThe River Between Us by Richard Peck
April 21st, 2005 by Puffin

The year is 1861. Civil war is imminent and Tilly Pruitt’s brother, Noah, is eager to go and fight on the side of the North. With her father long gone, Tilly, her sister, and their mother struggle to make ends meet and hold the dwindling Pruitt family together. Then one night a mysterious girl arrives on a steamboat bound for St. Louis. Delphine is unlike anyone the small river town has even seen. Mrs. Pruitt agrees to take Delphine and her dark, silent traveling companion in as boarders. No one in town knows what to make of the two strangers, and so the rumors fly. Is Delphine’s companion a slave? Could they be spies for the South? Are the Pruitts traitors? A masterful tale of mystery and war, and a breathtaking portrait of the lifelong impact one person can have on another.

I went to a Newberry Author Event a couple of weeks ago and whipped myself into a shame frenzy after realizing that Richard Peck has a hilarious and captivating personality, has published dozens of books, and I’ve never read any of them.  He said that The River Between Us is his best book, so of course that’s where I’m planning to go!

Have you read any of these?  Let me know what you think–and especially shower me with your McKillip recommendations!


If you liked that you might like this:


  1. Mai says:

    Re: McKillip.
    Her books are a bit of a hit or miss for me so far. Personally, I couldn’t finish OMBRIA IN SHADOW. Try THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD, which is technically YA/teen but is incredibly layered with meaning.

    Or, THE ALPHABET OF THORN, which is about a girl getting lost in a book and the impact this book has on her and everyone around her. I loved watching this one unfold.

    Re: Lola
    I thought Cricket was charming and sweet. My problem with this book was how the book dealt with Lola’s BF. These books seem to really like demonizing the to-be-ex.

  2. Wow, Ombria in Shadow looks amazing and the cover is gorgeous! I, too, have never read a McKillip but I do have The Bards of Bone Plain in my TBR. I should really get to it.

  3. Kristen says:

    Before Wonders of the Invisible World, I hadn’t read any Patricia McKillip before, either! I don’t know how I hadn’t read anything by her, but I’m definitely going to be checking out some of her novels after reading that. There were a lot of good stories in it, and her writing is lovely.

  4. Nafiza says:

    I hate to tell you this, Heidi, but in Lola and the Cricket, you will like Cricket a lot but dislike Lola intensely for perhaps the same reason you disliked St. Clair. I actually started out liking him and then my friend read the book and sat me down and explained to me very eloquently the reason she thought the dude was horrible and she swayed me over. Lola is even worse. :\ The cheating continues and it is just not cool.

    Anyway, Unfettered sounds amazing. And McKillip is amazing. I am determined to collect all her books. There were some stories in her collection that made me think that if she ever went and wrote a true YA, she’d have a major hit on her hands.

  5. Angiegirl says:

    Hm. Well, I liked Cricket a lot. And Lola. But I make no predictions on your behalf. :)

    As for A CURSE DARK AS GOLD. You must reeeeeaaaaad it. It is so lovely. So very lovely and well-researched and historical and awesome in a Dickensian way.

    I discovered Patricia McKillip through her Riddlemaster trilogy and never looked back. Wowzers is that trilogy good. The highest of high fantasy at its very best. I always recommend people start there. It’s out in a lovely omnibus edition now, and while I usually run from omnibus editions like the plague, I have a soft spot for this one. After that I recommend giving THE BOOK OF ATRIX WOLFE a go. Because I will always love Sorrow and her eyes full of sadness.

  6. I was very intrigued by the Rumpelstiltskin retelling too (as I am with almost any book that has the word “retelling” attached to it in some way, haha). It’s also so cool to see all of those authors come together to produce something like that to help a friend.

    I was so-so about Anna too – for a lot of the reasons you mentioned. And I pretty much hated Lola. I hope you like it more than I did!

  7. I’ve wanted to read “A Curse Dark as Gold” for a while now. It looks so interesting and different!

    I hope you get to read them all soon :)

  8. Ombria in Shadow sounds AMAZING. I haven’t read any by this author either, but added it to my TBR. Also, a Rumple retelling? UHH WHAT?! SIGN ME UP!!

    P.S. After I wrote that last sentence I went to GR and it looks like I already added A Curse Dark as Gold, go figure!!

  9. Chachic says:

    I’m dropping by to comment again! No idea where my first comment went. 😛 That Patricia McKillip cover is beautiful. I think most of her books have lovely covers, more reason why I wanted to read them. I believe I’ve read two but didn’t fall in love with them. Will check out the trilogy that Angie recommends though, I’ve already added it to my wishlist.

    Sorry to hear that you didn’t like Etienne! I’m one of his fans. I do admit that I got frustrated by all the relationship drama but I couldn’t help liking the book because of the swoon-worthy romance. Hope Cricket works out better for you. 😛

  10. I bet you will love Cricket more, but I don’t think you will like Lola as much as Anna. I mean the character Lola (not the book). I do like St. Clair, but I can totally see where you are coming from. Sticking with his girlfriend when he had feelings for Anna was certainly not the best decision. But I don’t think he would ever act like that again. St. Clair even addresses that in Lola and the Boy Next Door. I found Lola really annoying for at least the first half of the book. But I did eventually like her. And Cricket is amazing! Seriously. He is not a jerk at all.

    Can’t wait to see what you thought of Lola and the Boy Next Door.

  11. I have Ombria on my wishlist as well! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on McKillip. Based on your reading taste, I think you are really going to like her stuff:)

    I liked Anna and the French Kiss very much (and yeah I’ll admit it, I’m all about some St. Clair) but I haven’t read Lola yet either. And I really want to, I don’t know what I’m waiting for. Anxious to see if Cricket is a hit w/ you:)

    And I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on A Curse as Dark as Gold. Rumplestiltskin was one of my fave bedtime stories when I was a little girl. Hmmm…maybe that’s where I get my penchant for dark tales from…:)

  12. I am so happy that so many authors got behind the anthology idea. I want to keep a spreadsheet of authors acting awesome. All these people would be getting megachecks on that spreadsheet after this, for sure.

    I didn’t love Lola. I want to read all of McKillip’s books, too! And I haven’t read any at all. That cover is awesome.

  13. Anna (The Book Hutch) says:

    The boy I dated during my freshman year of college was a huge McKillip fan and gave me a copy ofOd Magic for my birthday. I remember it being an odd (ha) book, but also beautiful, as befitting it’s incredible cover. I think I also read Alphabet of Thorn, though I’m not sure I finished it? And supposedly the Riddlemaster trilogy, as Angiegirl already mentioned, is a seminal piece of high fantasy. I’ve had a copy waiting to be read for years.

  14. I’ve been waiting on Unfettered FOREVER. But it is expensive from what I’ve seen so far. Seriously, FOREVER. It makes me squealy, but it’ll probably be a library book for me.

    And I haven’t read Lola yet because I think I feel the same about Anna and St. what’s-his-face as you do. It was okay, but I loved the details in the book (Danny Boyle, et al) more than I liked the story. I have Lola but I haven’t read it yet either and THAT is because of that cover. BUT I’m seeing Stephanie Perkins at Yallfest and I feel like I need to try and cram it in before I hear her speak. So…maybe. Maybe. Perhaps.

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While the source for each book I review is posted within its review, please assume unless otherwise stated that books reviewed on Bunbury in the Stacks were received free from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review.