Chapter 11 Books: Your Neighborhood Book Blog


Chapter 11 Bookstore is an independent bookstore chain with 4 locations in Atlanta, Georgia and surrounding cities. Our online site is Customers can browse our inventory, order books, CDs, and DVDs online, and read details about author appearances. Visit our blog for reviews, opinions, and news about books, music, and movies.

Monday, July 31, 2006

The Assassins Gallery by David L. Robbins

Before reading The Assassins Gallery, by David L. Robbins, I was quite a bit down on reading anything new. It seems that finding a book with any level of depth or quality penmanship these days is a pursuit not too unlike eating meatloaf…shallow and pedantic. The Da Vinci Code nearly killed me. Really. I nearly bashed my head in trying to endure that…thing. That, however, is another matter. David Robbins has managed, in one book, to restore my faith and ressurrect my hunt for books (not written a century before) worth my time and effort. I've drilled through all of his previous books, loved them all, but still (due to the previously mentioned angst) approached The Assassins Gallery with a measure of trepidity. Robbins excels in crafting fiction around fact, morphing verifiable history (the actual kind, not the kind that authors make up and throw about like a child with a handful of wet noodles) into a personal stroll through aspects of the past you may not, beforehand, have given a second look. In his previous novels, Robbins took us through various moments of World War II, specifically detailing the matters involved in the Eastern Front of Europe and the quest to capture Berlin. This time, we're off the warfront, back in the States and on the chase for an assassin believed to be targeting none other than Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

It's a chase against time and Mikhal Lammeck, an expert on assassins, has been given the task of hunting an assassin that has never been seen, never been confirmed, and to all in the government does not exist. From a small beach in New England to the Little White House in Warm Springs, Georgia, Lammeck pursues the assassin the only way possible: He has to think, act, behave like and become an assassin himself. The action is swift, hitting you squarely in the first chapter and leaving you stuck to the pages throughout. When the action brings us to the story's climax, when you've finally taken that breath you've been holding since page one, Robbins lays out the biggest gamble of them all, found in the book's final pages.

To simply say that Robbins is a skilled artisan is leaving much yet on the table. What makes The Assassins Gallery worth the read is his investment in character and research. History is a living, breathing, functioning character and is given as much respect and leeway as any character in the book. You invest yourself in them all, feel what they feel, but are left with more, historically speaking, than absorbing one of the best books of the year. You learn and grow with a history you never knew existed and that--if there were no other reason--is why you will run to tell everybody about The Assassin's Gallery.

Was there truly a plot to kill FDR? Did he really die of an aneurism at Warm Springs as history tells us? Or did the assassin succeed and alter the course of a nation's war? - Zachary Steele

Meet David L. Robbins at the Decatur Library on Thursday, August 10 at 7:15 pm. (Co-sponsored by the Georgia Center for the Book).

Order a signed copy of The Assassins Gallery.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

On the road...AGAIN?

I really don't understand the purpose behind
printing the entire unedited scroll of Jack Kerouac's On The Road. That kinda seems like an exercise in run-on sentences.

Also-is there really THAT much of the book left unpublished? If so, Kerouac's editor needs an award of some sort.

-Russ Marshalek

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

July 27th Newsletter Now Available

Autographed Books, J.A. Jance, Daniel Silva, David L. Robbins, Tom Petty, Pharrell, Animaniacs, Final Destination 3, Water for Elephants Givewaway

What's all this about? Read the newsletter online!

Russ's Dirty Guilty Pleasure

I won’t deny the fact that I’m a bit snobbish when it comes to what I read. I try to avoid most comics and graphic novels (though I do have a Sandman fondness, and I just made my way through Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home). However, I’ve spent so much time thinking in absolutely dire, serious literary terms as I prep for Wednesday’s event with Calvin Baker (who I will be interviewing for Chapter 11), whose recent novel Dominion is destined to be lavished with awards and praise, sponsored by the Georgia Center for the Book and the Decatur Public Library, that I’ve been in dire need of something fast, simple, easy. The book equivalent of microwavable mac-n-cheese.

Our stores have been selling through copies of Scott Smith’s The Ruins as though there’s a magical formula for Coke that could be stolen and sold to Pepsi contained inside. Mike, Chapter 11 Books’ friendly neighborhood webmaster, has been as excited about reading this as it seems our customers are. So when a battered-but-readable galley (promotional copy) of The Ruins showed up on my desk, I snagged it up and ran outside to take lunch.

On that lunch, I read. Scott Smith’s writing is horrible. Insulting. Choppy. The Ruins is horrible. Disgusting. Vile. Think of the most offensive things possible that could result from being lost in the woods of Mexico, and then pile them on top of one another. There’s a scene with a dog covered with live, bloated ticks and maggots that I read while eating.

And I can’t stop reading it. In one sitting I made it 160 pages in. It’s a putrid, putrid terror of a book. I’ll finish it tonight and report back.

-Russ Marshalek (

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Leonard Cohen

We received a promotional print of Leonard Cohen's new poem, Titles, from his new poetry book, Book of Longing. Russ is in awe of it, and he's framing it above his desk. In the meantime, if you're new to the work of the beloved, acclaimed singer-songwriter-author-poet, you should check out his masterpiece novel Beautiful Losers and the soundtrack to the current Cohen bio-pic, I'm Your Man: The Songs of Leonard Cohen.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Water for Elephants Giveaway

One of the most colorful and captivating books to cross our path here at this year has been Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. This fictional account of narrator Jacob Jankowski as he looks back on his life with a traveling circus sparkles with a fairy-tale quality balanced with the gritty day-to-day circus reality of mistreated animals, sideshow freaks, and even the threat of murder. Water for Elephants has been a slow-burning bestseller since its release earlier this year in hardback (a huge feat for any book, much less a first novel with a smallish print run), and has reaped huge amounts of praise from Booksense and Bookslut, amongst others.

To celebrate the launch of the new Blog, we’ve paired with our good friends at Algonquin Books to bring you an advanced reader's copy of this marvelous treat of a book. The success of books like Water for Elephants makes bookselling a pleasure, and we’d like to pass that on to you.

Due to the limited number of advanced copies printed and the book's bestseller status, this is destined to become a collector's item. To enter the drawing, e-mail your name, mailing address, and e-mail address to The last day to enter is July 31, 2006, and the winner will be drawn during the first week of August.

Good luck, and thanks for reading!

July 21st Newsletter Now Available

To read about this week's happenings at, read our newsletter online!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Book of the Summer!

"The book of the summer." That's how Stephen King describes The Ruins by Scott Smith in Entertainment Weekly. "Smith intends to scare the bejabbers out of you and succeeds. [This book] does for Mexican vacations what Jaws did for New England beaches in 1975."

Smith is known for his bestselling novel, A Simple Plan, which was also made into a movie starring Billy Bob Thornton. Thirteen years later, Smith returns with his second novel, which is more horror than thriller.

Lev Grossman, book critic at Time magazine, writes, "PLEASE, PLEASE let this be the most disturbing novel of the year."

And Phil Kloer, book critic at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, writes, "I was more than halfway through the new horror novel The Ruins when it struck me: There are no chapters. No breaks of any kind. Just one story that keeps unspooling. Relentlessly, inexorably. Bathroom break? You're on your own."

Sounds like a winner to me. Stay tuned for our review coming soon!

Between Here and the Yellow Sea by Nic Pizzolatto

Nic Pizzolatto, Between Here and the Yellow Sea
Grade: A

In my fledgling days here at Chapter 11 Books, I expressed to Joe Davich, Assistant Director of the Georgia Center for the Book, a need for a book that was, as I phrased it, “achingly good”. As such, he passed me a copy of Nic Pizolatto’s debut short story collection Between Here and the Yellow Sea. It takes a lot for a short story to reach me on both an intellectual and an emotional level--usually for me the format falls far short of satisfying. Pizolatto’s stories, however, ring with a bare and honest truth of emotion, the sort of emotional vignette usually reserved for authors much, much older (read as: dead). Although I, during my initial reading, actually at times attempted to put the book down and break away, I was continuously pulled back in until I’d devoured the entire thing in one sitting. The simple, elegantly composed prose stories all are thematically united through the common thread of modern society’s inability to truly connect with one another for very long, if at all (as Bret Easton Ellis once wrote, “people are afraid to merge”). From a story about BASE jumping to a few simple words on a woman competing for love with her sister’s ghost, Between Here and the Yellow Sea holds tightly to the ghostly, grey fog of memory clouded by perception. Pizzolatto makes a powerful, and possibly self-aware, statement when, in the titular story, he writes, " answer isn't the same thing as a solution, and a story is sometimes only an excuse".

If this is just the start of Pizzolatto’s career, I look forward with the utmost anticipation to what’s to come. This is one of the greatest things I’ve read this year.

--By Russ Marshalek (media/events/sales) (

Also Recommended: Julie Orringer, How To Breathe Underwater

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A New Discovery (for me)

I like to read thrillers, and some of my favorite authors include Lee Child, Tess Gerritsen, James Patterson, Carl Hiaasen, James Grippando, and Bill Fitzhugh. But I have now discovered an author that many of you may already know, Christopher Moore.

I'm currently reading Moore's new novel, A Dirty Job, and it's great! It's the story of Charlie Asher, an average person leading an average life until his wife dies shortly after giving birth to their daughter. Death seems to follow Charlie wherever he goes, plus, he's seeing glowing objects, hearing voices, and being chased by ominous shadows. It turns out that Charlie has been selected to be a death merchant, whose job is to collect soul vessels (ordinary objects that contain a recently deceased person's soul) before the deities of death can claim them. This is not a job that Charlie wants, but he has no choice but to accept it.

Charlie is surrounded by a hilarious cast of offbeat characters. The dialogue is witty, and the situation Charlie find himself in is wacky and fascinating. I'm only 100 pages into the book so I'm not able to write a complete review yet, but it's obvious that Charlie is on a crash course to a full confrontation with the deities of death, and the fun is going to be seeing how he gets there.

It may seem odd to call a book about death fun, but it is. Moore is the author of several outlandish novels such as The Stupidest Angel, Lamb, and The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, and now that I've discovered him, I can't wait to read his other books.

Mike, webmaster

Welcome to the Blog

Miss Manners would start this as “Gentle Reader,” so I’m not going to. However, I’d like to express similar warm sentiment in introducing to you to the Blog. I’m Russ Marshalek--I do sales, media, marketing, and events for Chapter 11, and have been a reader my entire life. I am also a former English teacher. My favorite authors include
Dave Eggers, Djuna Barnes, Bret Easton Ellis, and Toni Morrison. Working with books all day, every day, we here at Chapter 11 formulate a lot of opinions, and feel very strongly about what we like…and just as strongly about what we DON’T like. We look forward to presenting you with news, reviews, happenings, and a little piece of our minds from the book world.

If there's anything you're interested in, like, don't like, want to see, don't want to see, or if you just want to pass a little note saying "PSST! READ THIS BOOK!", please don't hesitate to e-mail me at Thanks for reading!
Greetings! I'm Mike Sussman, and it's my pleasure to welcome you to the Blog. I've worked for Chapter 11 for nearly 13 years as a bookseller, store manager, and webmaster. You may have noticed that has a new look lately, and we're now selling CDs and DVDs online. In order to serve you better, we're now introducing this blog.

We look forward to letting you know about new releases, upcoming events, and our favorite books, CDs, and DVDs. In addition to publisher information, we'll be including reviews written by our own booksellers, the most knowledgeable in Atlanta! And we want to know what you think. Let us know if you agree or disagree with a review; tell us about your favorite books, CDs, and DVDs; or make a suggestion for our physical stores or Please feel free to e-mail me at


Howdy, howdy, howdy. I'm Zachary Steele and I am a puppet. They pull the strings and I dance. That's just the way it is folks. Je suis, puppet. I am the director of business-to-business, I facilitate outside events and I shine a few shoes here and there. I'm a reader and writer to my core, I've been selling books for what seems like an Era and I shade towards satire and comedy (I need a good laugh 'cause I'm not really that funny folks). I'm obsessed with Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Douglas Adams (oh alas, poor Douglas, I knew, not really all that well) and the kid in me can't get enough of Harry Potter. If you've got a bee in your ear and you want to shoot me a comment, you should probably do something to get the bee out first, 'cause that might be mighty painful, having a bee sting your ear you know. My email address is: or if you have too much time on your hands you can find me (like the rest of the god-forsaken world) on My Space. Bon bon!