Friday, July 29, 2011

First Nook Book and alot of Shelf Awareness Tidbits

All these tidbits are gleaned from the lovely Shelf Awareness or Shelf Awareness for Readers, which I adore.
I actually have a copy of "The Imperfectionists" that I've not had a chance to read yet, but I imagine this author is spot on about his perception of those of us who make our living as journalists:Tom Rachman, author of The Imperfectionists, chose his top 10
journalist's tales
for the Guardian and noted that "generally, depictions of the journalist
fall into two categories: journalist as hero or the journalist as rat.
Neither fit my own experience."

Why do I always feel like I've written worse than the Bulwar-Lytton Winner?
A "disturbing description" by American academic Sue Fondrie won this
year's Bulwer-Lytton prize for bad writing,
the Guardian reported. The winning submission: "Cheryl's mind turned
like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like
thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten

This was the shortest winning sentence in the history of the award,
"proving that bad writing need not be prolix, or even very wordy," said
the organizers. Fittingly enough, Fondrie relayed her feelings about the
win through her Twitter account: "My life is a little brighter knowing
I'm the Worst Writer of 2011. It's only fitting that someone who teaches
people how to teach would be a bad-writing winner."

The next time my family drives to Portland, we are staying at the Nines Hotel! I want access to this library!
Book Candy: Vacations for Readers, Cover Archive
If "vacation" to you means "read all the time," you'll want to check out this Life Goes Strong feature on Five Great Vacations for Readers. From the Nines Hotel in Portland, Ore., with a Library Room curated by the superb independent bookseller Powell's, to the very cool "Hot Type" program at Las Ventanas al Paraiso in Los Cabos, Mexico, writer Irene S. Levine has collected some delightfully different options for readers who might not want to take part in a group retreat.

Two of my favorite things: eating and reading come together:
"During summer vacation, part of me wants to spend my hard-earned
sheckles traveling the world and eating amazing food. The other part of
me just wants to lie on the couch with a good book. Now... I can do
both," noted NPR's Susan Gilman in recommending five new food memoirs
that "are about love affairs with food, and the journeys that led their
authors into the kitchen."

Peter Beagle seriously deserves this award:
The World Fantasy Awards Lifetime Achievement Winners for 2011, honoring
people who have shown "outstanding service to the fantasy field," are
Peter S. Beagle and Angelica Gorodischer. They will be celebrated
at this year's World Fantasy Convention, to be held October 27-30 in
San Diego, Calif.

Beagle is best known for The Last Unicorn and for the screenplay he
wrote for the animated film of the same name. He works include his first
novel, A Fine and Private Place, his YA novel Tamsin and his recent
story collection, Sleight of Hand. Gorodischer, who lives in Argentina,
is best known for her short story collection Kalpa Imperial.

Also, nominees for the World Fantasy Awards
in eight categories have been announced and can be voted on by members.

The first book I've read on my Nook e-reader is "Tolstoy and the Purple Chair" and I am filling the pages of my journal with a variety of great quotes from the book about readers and books and bibliophiles, friends, grief and joy. I love it so much I honestly think I am going to have to find a used 'dead tree' copy for my shelves.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Alexia Tarabotti Steampunk Novels, Etc

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's Liaden Universe has always been a joy to visit, and I have a copy of their latest, "Ghost Ship" on it's way to me now. They recently did an interview about their collaboration as authors and the next book out in the series, Dragon Ship. Read more here:

I also saw the last Harry Potter movie over the weekend, and, like everyone else in the audience, cried like a baby, especially at the end, when Harry is saying goodbye to his son at the train station as his son embarks on his schooling at Hogwarts. The theater I attended was packed, and apparently most theaters showing the film were too. Here's more from Shelf Awareness on the subject:Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, which opened Friday,
broke all kinds of records over the weekend, in a magical tale told by
the New York Times. The box office in North America was $168.6 million, a weekend record that broke the old record set by The Dark Knight. Friday's take of $92
million in North America--which included $43.5 million at midnight
screenings--was a new one-day record, beating The Twilight Saga: New
Moon. Worldwide weekend sales were $476 million, and the eight Harry Potter
movies have now sold more than $7 billion in tickets.

A couple more interesting articles from Shelf Awareness:

That last one has me filled with yearning to go on a retreat where all I have to do is read glorious books all day long, eat inbetween, sleep a bit and that's all. No interruptions, no work, no housekeeping and no TV to sidetrack me from reading. Oh how dearly I'd love to take a vacation and go on a reading retreat!

Despite the interruptions of life, I did manage to read all four of Gail Carriger's steampunk novels chronicling the life of Alexia Tarabotti, a "Soulless" (the title of the first novel) in a re-imagined Victorian England full of vampires, werewolves and ghosts. Alexia is a preternatural woman whose lack of soul allows her to touch supernatural beings, such as vampires and werewolves, and render them mortal for as long as she's in contact with them. She can also exorcise ghosts whose physical body is disintegrating and whose souls need to move on as they disintegrate as well. Carringer's prose is extremely witty, British and full of zest, as are her swift and sure plots and her brilliantly-drawn characters. After reading Soulless, I couldn't wait to delve into "Changeless", "Blameless" and finally "Heartless", which had one of the busiest endings I've ever read. "Timeless" the fifth novel in the series is due out in March of next year, and I find it difficult to contemplate the next 6 months without my friend Alexia and her exciting world of supernaturals and tea. I highly recommend these books for anyone who enjoys well-written fantasy, as they are an great way to get into the "Steampunk" genre.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New To Steampunk

First, a couple of goodies from this weeks Shelf Awareness Pro:

I gotta say I know how Ms Hardy feels!

Algonquin's latest Booksellers Rock
entry focuses on Liberty Hardy, "book slinger" at RiverRun Bookstore,
Portsmouth, N.H. Our favorite of the q&a's:

"Why I do what I do: If I didn't have an outlet for talking about books,
my brain would swell and ink would leak out my ears. And it's so
satisfying putting great books into people's hands, especially ones they
haven't considered before, like High Wind in Jamaica or Jamestown. I
think books are the greatest thing in the world, and being taught to
read at a very young age was the best present I have ever been given. (A
signed copy of Skippy Dies made out to 'Lady McSexypants' was a close
second, though.)"

This made me laugh:

Beach read season continues. Flavorwire suggested "10 decidedly highbrow
but still beach-appropriate summer reads"

I said "Me, too" when I read this:
In the Guardian, Naomi Alderman considered "7 things in Harry Potter I
wish were real,"
including a time turner, magical sweets and the possibility that "every
child had access to an education that helped them reach their full

I'm currently reading a popular Steampunk novel, "The Map of Time" by Felix J Palma, and as I'm somewhat new to the steampunk genre, I must say that I am by turns horrified and gratified to read such an interesting take on the Jack the Ripper story, I just wish it were a bit less descriptive of the gory parts. Though I am reading an ARC that I bought at Powells, and I know this is a translation, I still find the prose quite good and the plot swiftly paced.
Of course I finished Gail Carringers marvelous "Soulless" a few days ago, and I've become so enamored of that steampunkish novel that I plan on buying the next two books in the series today.My husband is distracting me with Dr Who graphic novels and animated DVDs, though, so I need to get through those before embarking on the "Soulless" sequels. Reading all these books based in London England has made me want to visit the UK even more.
Perhaps when my ship comes in, I will.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Books Bought and Books Desired

I bought two books today, "Soulless" by Gail Carriger and "The Various Flavors of Coffee" by Anthony Capella, both of which I plan to devour with all due haste before I have to trundle off and work at the Mercer Island Summer Celebration this weekend.
Meanwhile, here are some lovely tidbits from Shelf Awareness Pro:

BTW, I loved Funke's "Inkheart" books!
Inkheart trilogy author Cornelia Funke chose her top 10 fairytales
for the Guardian, while cautioning that she was "not sure I should call
the 10 I have picked my favourites. Some of them made a huge impression
on me as a child with their haunting sadness and images that speak to us
in far more than just words. Others I only just discovered when I did my
research for Reckless. Are the tales about Arthur fairytales? And how
about the Mabinogion, my favourite collection of folklore? I didn't put
either of them on my list, as they each encompass too vast a universe. I
chose instead short and more isolated tales. Though, of course, once you
have a closer look, they are all related, as they all speak about human

I really, really want these books that are coming out later this fall:

Chango’s Beads and Two-tone Shoes by William Kennedy: William Kennedy, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the magisterial Albany cycle of novels (including Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game, Legs and Ironweed), now takes us to the Florida bar in pre-revolutionary Cuba, where the journalist Daniel Quinn meets a fellow lover of simple declarative sentences, Ernest Hemingway. After brushes with revolutionaries, crooked politicians and drug-running gangsters, Quinn winds up in Albany as it is engulfed in race riots on the eve of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination. Hungry fans are sure to rejoice over Kennedy’s first novel in almost a decade.

When I Was a Child I Read Books: Essays by Marilynne Robinson: “When I was a child I read books,” writes Robinson, “My reading was not indiscriminate. I preferred books that were old and thick and dull and hard…I looked to Galilee for meaning and to Spokane for orthodonture, and beyond that the world where I was I found entirely sufficient.” The exalted author of Gilead and Home claims that the hardest work of her life has been convincing New Englanders that growing up in Idaho was not “intellectually crippling.” There, during her childhood, she read about Cromwell, Constantinople, and Carthage, and her new collection of essays celebrates the joy, and the enduring value, of reading.

I have two books coming from SFBC, Ghost Story by Jim Butcher and I can't remember the other one. Anyway, I will also be getting some Sharon Lee and Steve Miller books from Uncle Hugos as soon as I get paid. I'm looking forward to some delicious summer reading at home, with air conditioning!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

More Summer Reading

I just finished writing a Mercer Island Summer Reading List for, and I noticed that reading lists are ubiquitous this summer, with more cropping up each day. Here are a few from Shelf Awareness:

London cabbie and bibliophile Will Grozier
shared his recommendations for exciting summer reads on NPR's Weekend

The 10 best literary picnics
were showcased by the Guardian.

The Wrap suggested 9 books for entertainment junkies,
noting that "for those executive types who can't justify spending the
dog days dog-earring pages, we've included some books about high-powered
people just like you--as well as a few titles you might want to option."

Flavorwire recommended 10 manly books to honor Ernest Hemingway's death

Here's a tour I'd like to take, of famed authors homes:

Home is where the lit is. The Telegraph offered a slide show tour of
literary homes,
including William Wordsworth's Dove Cottage and D.H. Lawrence's birthplace.

And finally, I just finished Neil Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book" and Ursula Le Guin's "The Gift," both supposedly YA books that don't read like young adult fiction at all.

Much like the wonderful Harry Potter series by JK Rowling, Both Graveyard and Gift have young kids (pre-pubescent) in situations where they are being hunted by people wishing them dead, and they are trying to gain power enough to exact revenge for the death of their parents and/or siblings. In the case of Harry Potter, it was by dint of wizarding magic, and in Gaimans Graveyard, Bod (short for Nobody) is raised by ghosts, a werewolf and a vampire, so he learns the secrets of the dead, including how to become invisible and wherein lie the "ghoul gates" for those nasty creatures to flow into the living world. In The Gift, Orrec is part of a family whose "gift" of disintegrating things is passed down from father to son, or mother to daughter, in the case of his best friend Gry. Unfortunately, though there are gifts that can be used for good, like healing, the men in power are only using their gifts for offense, to gain control of neighboring lands or livestock, and defensively, to keep other clans from doing just that. Orrec and Gry, however, don't want to use their gifts to kill, so they devise means of keeping their powers at bay for as long as possible, until they are forced into battle and some great revelations at the end of the book.
Graveyard Book was a real page-turner, which comes as no surprise, having read most of Gaiman's previous works (and loved them). He has the delicious ability to create frightening, even horrific situations that you're well into before you realize you're clutching the edge of your seat and leaving the light on when you sleep.
Even knowing that I am not a fan of the horror genre, I will still read anything Gaiman writes because of his fine prose, his witty dialog and his excellent storytelling, rife with unforgettable characters (like his teenage Goth girl Death, who somehow made complete sense). I highly recommend Graveyard Book to those in their 20s and beyond, while I would recommend Gift for teenagers in high school, because though it was grim at times, it had some moral aspects that might slip into a teenagers subconscious and do them some good when they're not looking.
I would also like to take a moment and mention Philip Pullman's "Sally Lockhart" mysteries, written in the 90s, that actually are easier to read than his YA series, "His Dark Materials/Golden Compass" series. Sally is a spunky British heroine who has a head for figures and a strong will to defy conventions of the day. Fascinating stuff.