Peng Shepherd

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July 2017


Peng was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where she rode horses and trained in classical ballet. She earned her M.F.A. in creative writing from New York University, and has lived in Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, London, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and New York. "The Book of M" is her first novel.

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Peng Shepherd Thank you so much for reading! That’s a great question. I wrote The Book of M as a standalone, but I’ve had quite a few readers ask me if it’s going…moreThank you so much for reading! That’s a great question. I wrote The Book of M as a standalone, but I’ve had quite a few readers ask me if it’s going to be a series, so you're in good company! My publisher and I are thinking it over, but haven’t reached a decision yet. I’m torn, because I love the characters, and the story definitely could continue—there is so much more of the world to be explored—but there’s also something to be said for allowing an ending to remain a little open and letting the reader draw their own conclusions.(less)
Peng Shepherd I think about foreshadowing a lot when writing, as it can really build anticipation and tension (which is always fun to read), but the process itself…moreI think about foreshadowing a lot when writing, as it can really build anticipation and tension (which is always fun to read), but the process itself is still a little bit mysterious for me.

Sometimes, I know right from the start what big reveal I’m building toward, and writing those instances of foreshadowing is very planned and strategic. It’s a game of trying to hint at just enough but not give away too much. But occasionally—usually in the first draft, when I’m still developing the plot and don’t know everything that will happen or all the little connections yet—I’ll write a line or scene that I suddenly realize is foreshadowing for something I didn’t even know was going to occur! That’s always a really exciting moment because even though I’m the one creating it, I get to feel that same sense of discovery in my story as the reader.(less)
Average rating: 3.75 · 4,500 ratings · 996 reviews · 1 distinct work
The Book of M

3.75 avg rating — 4,500 ratings — published 2018 — 18 editions
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Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
Wanderers
by Chuck Wendig (Goodreads Author)
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A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine
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The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson
The Bird King
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The Binding by Bridget Collins
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Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
Wanderers
by Chuck Wendig (Goodreads Author)
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Everything You Ever Wanted by Luiza Sauma
Everything You Ever Wanted
by Luiza Sauma (Goodreads Author)
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The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling
The Luminous Dead
by Caitlin Starling (Goodreads Author)
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The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson
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More of Peng's books…
“there’s a difference between when the mind forgets and the heart does.”
Peng Shepherd, The Book of M

“Libraries have always been mysterious, almost mystical places to me. There’s something about the sheer vastness of them, the seemingly infinite number of books they protect and keep, that inspires a sense of wonder, making each visit feel like a quest for ancient secrets. Whenever I step into one, I always wander the stacks, choosing books by some invisible pull rather than by the author’s name or the catalog. It’s not efficient, but I can’t help it. It feels more magical this way.”
Peng Shepherd

“The memory means more, the more it’s worth to you—and to who you are.”
Peng Shepherd, The Book of M

Polls

Vote on a book to discuss in December. As always, read as soon as you want, and we'll begin discussing on the first of December. I'd recommend putting a library hold now on any books that appeal to you. Please vote only if you'll return to discuss if your choice wins. Happy voting!

The Book of M by Peng Shepherd
2018, 485 pages, 3.76 stars
$10.99 Kindle, used hardcover around $6, at library




"One afternoon at an outdoor market in India, a man’s shadow disappears—an occurrence science cannot explain. He is only the first. The phenomenon spreads like a plague, and while those afflicted gain a strange new power, it comes at a horrible price: the loss of all their memories.

Ory and his wife Max have escaped the Forgetting so far by hiding in an abandoned hotel deep in the woods. Their new life feels almost normal, until one day Max’s shadow disappears too.

Knowing that the more she forgets, the more dangerous she will become to Ory, Max runs away. But Ory refuses to give up the time they have left together. Desperate to find Max before her memory disappears completely, he follows her trail across a perilous, unrecognizable world, braving the threat of roaming bandits, the call to a new war being waged on the ruins of the capital, and the rise of a sinister cult that worships the shadowless.

As they journey, each searches for answers: for Ory, about love, about survival, about hope; and for Max, about a new force growing in the south that may hold the cure."
 
  33 votes, 28.0%

Ashfall by Mike Mullin
YA, supervolcano
2011, 476 pages, 3.97 rating
$7.99 Kindle, used paperback from $7.68



"Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don't know it's there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.

For Alex, being left alone for the weekend means having the freedom to play computer games and hang out with his friends without hassle from his mother. Then the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, plunging his hometown into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence. Alex begins a harrowing trek to search for his family and finds help in Darla, a travel partner he meets along the way. Together they must find the strength and skills to survive and outlast an epic disaster."

 
  27 votes, 22.9%

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
2018, 431 pages, 4.33 stars
$9.99 Kindle, paper from $7.77, *may* be at library (it's fairly new)



"On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space, and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process.

Elma York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too.

Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her."
 
  27 votes, 22.9%

When the English Fall by David Williams
2017, 242 pages, 3.71 stars
$9.04 Kindle, cheap used paperback, at library



"When a catastrophic solar storm brings about the collapse of modern civilization, an Amish community in Pennsylvania is caught up in the devastating aftermath. Once-bright skies are now dark. Planes have plummeted to the ground. The systems of modern life have crumbled. With their stocked larders and stores of supplies, the Amish are unaffected at first. But as the English (the Amish name for all non-Amish people) become more and more desperate, they begin to invade Amish farms, taking whatever they want and unleashing unthinkable violence on the peaceable community.

Seen through the diary of an Amish farmer named Jacob as he tries to protect his family and his way of life, When the English Fall examines the idea of peace in the face of deadly chaos: Should members of a nonviolent society defy their beliefs and take up arms to defend themselves? And if they don’t, can they survive?

David Williams’s debut novel is a thoroughly engrossing look into the closed world of the Amish, as well as a thought-provoking examination of “civilization” and what remains if the center cannot hold."
 
  16 votes, 13.6%

Feed by M.T. Anderson
2004, 308 pages, 3.54 stars
$7.99 Kindle, cheap used, at some libraries



"Identity crises, consumerism, and star-crossed teenage love in a futuristic society where people connect to the Internet via feeds implanted in their brains.

For Titus and his friends, it started out like any ordinary trip to the moon - a chance to party during spring break and play with some stupid low-grav at the Ricochet Lounge. But that was before the crazy hacker caused all their feeds to malfunction, sending them to the hospital to lie around with nothing inside their heads for days. And it was before Titus met Violet, a beautiful, brainy teenage girl who has decided to fight the feed and its omnipresent ability to categorize human thoughts and desires. Following in the footsteps of George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr., M. T. Anderson has created a not-so-brave new world — and a smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now."
 
  15 votes, 12.7%

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