Sunday, December 30, 2012

Scent of Magic by Maria V Snyder and A Weird Musical

As this is the end of the year, I thought I'd review a couple of things, and then leave the slate clean for 2013.
I should note that this is my 341st post on this blog, and that 2012 was a pretty good year for blogging and books.
I've read two series by Maria V Snyder, the "Poison Study" series, which was my introduction to her fine prose and marvelous characters, and her "Glass" series, which included an interesting take on weather from the author, who was once a meteorologist.
The "Healer" series, which began with "Touch of Power" takes a completely different direction than her previous works, which were so inventive and exciting that I was certain that the author would run out of fascinating female protagonists to develop for her readers.
Happily, I was wrong.
Avry is the last healer in a world where plague has ravaged the population. Healers discovered early on that if they attempted to heal plague victims, they'd sicken and die themselves, but once they revealed that they were helpless to heal victims, they became targets of an angry, grieving population of survivors who blamed the plague on them. She is called upon to heal the leader of one of the realms in her world, but as he has the plague, she's not going to heal him willingly, until she meets Kerrick, the prince of one of the other kingdoms. At first, he is so intent on hunting her down and forcing her to heal King Ryne that Kerrick fails to notice how special Avry really is, as a person, not just a healer.  Kerrick travels with a band of misfits who work their way into Avry's heart, and eventually, she works her way into Kerrick's heart as well. She realizes that King Tohon, who is basically a psychopath and a meglomaniac, will only be stopped on his quest to dominate the fifteen kingdoms if King Ryne is restored to health. So she heals him, only to discover that the Peace and Death Lilys that dot the landscape of the kingdoms can restore her to health from the brink of death, as long as she gets the magic touch from Kerrick's forest magic.
In the second book in the series, "Scent of Magic" Avry has escaped Tohon and his grisly army of dead men and creatures, and now that everyone thinks she is dead, she needs to find a way to infiltrate the armies preparing for war and repair the estrangement with her sister Noelle, who is her last living relative. Kerrick has to help Ryne and his army prepare for Tohon's onslaught, and Avry has to figure out how to use the toxins of the Death Lilys to stop the army of zombies.
As usual, Snyder's prose is clean, clear and beautifully wrought, aiding a refreshingly zippy plot that moves the characters to the finale at an exhilarating, breathless pace. I literally couldn't put the book down because I had to know what happened next, and after that, and then again after that. Each time I told myself "Just one more page" and I'd end up 50 pages later still not able to put the book down for any length of time. My only qualm with the book is that we didn't get much "face time" with Kerrick and Avry, whose love is like a silky ribbon running through the warp and weft of the book's pages. Fortunately, we do get closer to the end of some of the "bad" characters, though for spoilers sake I will not mention who they are.
I can hardly wait until the next installment arrives, and in the meantime, I highly recommend that fantasy/romance and readers who love a smart, fierce female protagonist and a hottie male protagonist hike down to their local bookstore and grab a copy of "Touch of Power" and "Scent of Magic" and get their read on!
I also watched a movie tonight called "Score: A Hockey Musical" starring Olivia Newton John and a host of Canadian actors whom I've seen in other films and TV shows.
Though it sounds like a total cheese-fest, there was actually some merit to this musical, though the testosterone level and gross-out factor was higher for this musical than any I've seen since "Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street."
There are certain requirements for a musical to be up to standard, IMHO, as there has to be some comedy at least somewhere in the musical to lighten the mood a bit, there has to be great songs, or a few that are hum-able, and there has to be actors who can sing/dance/act and generally seem sincere in making the material of the play come to life. They have to be good enough that you'd be willing to spend 2 hours in their company, listening to whatever message they have to impart, in song and dance. The theme of the musical can be completely absurd, as it was in this one, but if the cast can't get you to suspend your disbelief and buy what they're selling, they, and their producers, are screwed.
The "Score" cast were sincere, they could, for the most part, sing, they had some very comedic moments/songs that made me laugh out loud, and they had songs that were hum-able and the dance numbers were cheesy enough to be fun, but not so cheesy as to be repugnant. It actually made the idea of a pacifist playing hockey against the wishes of his politically correct, ultra-green nerd parents seem like a legitimate, believable plot. Olivia Newton John, who hasn't aged well, still manages to belt out a few tunes with her seemingly tone-deaf grubby-professor husband. The young boy who plays the protagonist is amazing, and adapts to each new situation with enthusiasm and verve. Since it's a strange subject matter and there is a teenage love triangle involved, I wouldn't let kids under the age of 13 watch it, but still, it makes for a fun distraction from whatever ails you during the winter doldrums, before celebrating the new year.
See you in 2013!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Bookstores Help With Grief and Tragedy

Just this past weekend, an autistic man walked into an elementary school in Connecticut and shot/killed over 20 children and 7 teachers. I had a very vivid dream the night before of trying to tell people that I know and love not to board a certain airplane that I knew was going to have a mechanical failure, and telling parents not to send their kids to Cedar River Middle School, because I had seen the boots of a man with an assault weapon going into the school and I knew those boots would get bloody soon enough. The frustration of the dream was that, like Cassandra from mythology, though I knew something terrible was going to happen, no one believed me, and in fact felt that I was crazy and/or trying to admit that I was going to do something terrible myself, so why would these people listen to me? When I heard the news on Friday, I was not at all surprised, then, and my husband was flabbergasted that I seemed so calm in the face of such a huge waste of life and cruel truncating of the lives of these innocent kids and teachers.
He didn't realize that I had already mourned for these kids in my dream.
Here's a response from an author about how one town's bookstore helped people deal with this senseless violence.

Bookstore: 'A Bank of the Human Condition'

After learning about the horrible tragedy in Newtown, Conn., Friday,
author Tiffany Baker (The Gilly Salt Sisters) resisted her initial
reaction ("to drive straight to my children's school, bring them home,
line them up on the couch, and then throw my body over them. For the
rest of time.") and instead went to her local bookstore, Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif.

In a moving post on her blog,
Baker wrote: "Book Passage is more than just a store. It's a
longstanding community hub, a place to grab coffee and talk, a locus for
lectures, classes, and clubs.... When I walked in, I was met by my good
friend, Calvin, who manages events for the shop. He knows I have kids,
and he, too, had heard about the shooting. He hugged me, and then we
talked books, recipes, family, and discussed the merits and drawbacks of

"I ran into Luisa, the daughter of a famous local writer and a family
friend, who also works at the store, and who, like me, has young
children. We shook our heads, our faces long and worried, and wondered
what would happen if book people ran the world.

"Since I couldn't go snatch my kids out of school, I began snatching
books off the shelves for them. That novel my oldest daughter's been
asking for? In the basket. A book about trolls for my middle daughter?
Yes. The Lego book of ideas? Why not? Books for my husband, a paperback
for me, more books for the kids.

"Maybe it seems silly. Maybe it seems like I'm trying to buy my kids'
affection, and, to be honest, I worried about that, but then I realized
what was behind my book binge. When my kids got home from school, I knew
I was going to have to tell them about the shooting. I just wanted to
make sure that when faced with an unthinkable and awful story, they know
there are a million other voices in this world, and that not all of them
are evil.

"A bookstore--a good one, at least--is far more than just a retail
establishment. It's a bank of the human condition. The shelves of Book
Passage offer succor to the grieving, wonder to the jaded, advice to the
confused. You can go in alone, and come out with an armful of company.
If you are a regular, chances are you can walk in and someone there will
be able to prescribe exactly what your spirit needs."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Happy 12/12/12 Birthday!

Today is a rare birthday for me, as it is on 12/12/12, something that will only happen once in my lifetime. The fact that I turn 52 seems of little consequence in light of that, and of the fact that the Mayans are saying the world will end on 12/21/12, so I've only got a week to enjoy being 52 before it's curtains!
Anyroad, it has been a great birthday so far, with a Dr Who theme to my day starting with all the presents from my husband Jim and my son Nick.
I got a TARDIS cookie jar (it is bigger on the inside!) that makes the whooshing sound when you open it, a TARDIS hat to keep my head warm this winter, a Dr Who calendar and 50th anniversary Dr Who planner featuring all the Doctors, which is really exciting, a Dr Who safe for all the things I need to keep hidden, and some Jelly babies/jelly beans made by Jelly Belly, of course! YUM!
I also got a new android phone, a hot water bottle (which I will use for keeping Crohn's cramps at bay) and some delicious Market Spice tea! All around, an exciting birthday.

Here's some quotes and info from Shelf Awareness this week:

"An Italian reader wrote to describe how he met his wife. She was on a
bus, reading one of my books, one that he himself had just finished.
They started talking, they started meeting. They now have three
children. I wonder how many people owe their existence to their parents'
love of books."

--Author Ian McEwan
in the New York Times about the best fan letter he had ever received.

I am proud to say that same-sex marriage was approved for Washington state during the election last month, so now I can be proud of where I live now and where I was born and raised, as Iowa approved same-sex marriage many years ago!

Elliott Bay Book Company,
Seattle, Wash., posted this charming photo on Facebook this weekend,
explaining: "We were honored this morning to have our first same-sex
marriage in the store! Congratulations Amy and Jeri!!"

I totally agree with Jennifer on this, the last part of her book brahmin interview:
Book that changed your life:

To Kill A Mockingbird. I remember finishing it at our dining room table
and closing the cover. I looked around my house, which seemed strangely
flat and unfamiliar. I knew right then and there that I wanted to be
able to do this--to become a storyteller who could create such an
intensely magical world that when the reader put the book down, the real
world would feel bland.

Favorite line from a book:

"No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions
of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to
dream." --from The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany. Irving is such an incredible
writer and this book blew me away--making me think about faith and fate
in whole new ways.
Jennifer McMahon is the author of six novels, including Promise Not to Tell and Island of Lost Girls.

Here's my Holiday Book List of books I am looking for, or waiting for in the new year:

The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister
Scent of Magic by Maria V Snyder
Elemental Magic by Mercedes Lackey
A Cat, a Hat and a Piece of String by Joanne Harris
Finding Camlan by Sean Pidgeon
A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper
Hello Goodbye Hello by Craig Brown
Sutton by JR Moeringer
I Love Cinnamon Rolls by Judith Fretig
Necessity's Child by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Goose Girl by Shannon Hale and Goodreads Winners

 I have a hard time keeping up with my membership in Goodreads, however, they have a strong awards program and they keep on top of the latest fiction and non fiction coming out each month:

Among the winners in the 20 categories of the Goodreads Choice Awards, chosen by

* Fiction: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
* Nonfiction: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop
Talking by Susan Cain
* Poetry: A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver
* Memoir: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl
* History & Biography: Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch
by Sally Bedell-Smith
* YA Fantasy and Science Fiction: Insurgent by Veronica Roth (who also
won best author)

In addition, in a pilot program, this year more than 30 Northern
California Independent Booksellers Association stores will display six
Goodreads Choice Awards winners and Goodreads will promote the stores to
its members.

I've made no secret of how much I despised "Three Cups of Tea" and its author, Greg Mortensen, who embezzeled money from his charity and didn't build all the schools that he said he would. I maintain that even building schools for mainly girls in the middle east is a waste of time, as girls and women are so oppressed in those countries, they will have no opportunity to use their education, due to the fanatical religious laws imposed on them by the men who rule their countries. Therefore, this news came as no surprise to me when I read it on Shelf Awareness:

David Oliver Relin, co-author of Three Cups of Tea, died November 15,
in Oregon, a suicide, the New York Times reported. He was 49. Speaking
through his agent, his family said that Relin suffered from depression
and had been hurt "emotionally and financially" when many of the basic
facts in Three Cups of Tea turned out not to be true.
Greg Mortenson and David Relin 
Relin had "established himself as a journalist with an interest in
telling 'humanitarian' stories about people in need," the Times said,
when he was hired by Viking to help Greg Mortenson write about building
schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Published in 2006, Three Cups of
Tea became a heartwarming bestseller, selling more than four million
copies. But last year, after a 60 Minutes investigation, it became
apparent that the many elements of Mortenson's story were false and that
Mortenson's charity was spending large amounts of money on Mortenson's
personal expenses and to promote the book.

After the 60 Minutes report, Relin did not speak out publicly but hired
a lawyer to defend himself in a federal suit that was dismissed this
year. In a Montana state settlement, Mortenson agreed to repay more than
$1 million to his charity.

I started reading Goose Girl by Shannon Hale in my the library of my son's school, while I was waiting for him to finish his classes. I became riveted by this beautifully-written fairy tale, and I wanted to check it out and finish reading it, but the 'mean' librarian at my son's school wouldn't let me check the book out unless it was for Nick. So I ended up getting a copy from the library, and then realizing that I wanted to own my own copy, which came in the mail yesterday.
Though it is meant to be a young adult novel, it is, like the Harry Potter novels, the kind of fiction that is so well written, plotted and filled with engaging characters that it should be read by adults as well. Goose Girl is the story of Ani, the firstborn princess of Kildenree, who learned to speak to animals and birds from her aunt, only to be dragged away from that learning process by her mother, who doesn't appreciate the 'old magic' and wants her to be a regular princess. Ani does her best to comply, while still enjoying rides on her white horse with her father the king. Once her father is killed in an accident, though, her evil mother the queen decides to marry her off to the prince in the next kingdom of Bayern, so as to keep land-hungry Bayern from a war with Kildenree, which has no way to protect itself.
Unfortunately, Ani's official lady in waiting and supposed friend Selia, covets her crown and her title and position, and ends up subverting most of her guard to the task of killing Ani (and her guards) and taking her place on the way to Bayern. Ani barely escapes and is nursed back to health by a widow woman in the woods, after which she sets out to Bayern to try to make things right by an audience with the King. It becomes apparent that the subverted soldiers are still out to get flaxen-haired Ani, though, so she must hide her hair and pretend to be a goose-herder until she can make enough money to go home and have her mother help her regain her title.
Of course, along the way, Ani learns that she likes being a goose girl, because she ends up learning some of their language, and she makes friends within the ranks of other servants, to whom she tells stories at the end of the day around the fireplace. One of those friends, Enna, learns her secret, and tries to help her roust the evil Selia and her warrior boyfriend. Good triumphs over evil, finally, and Ani learns many valuable lessons about love, how to treat people who help you and who are mere servants, and that there is a price for freedom and for being a royal, when your life is not your own.
I thoroughly enjoyed Hale's prose and her swiftly gliding plot. I thought the characters were amazingly real, and the book cover is just gorgeous. I plan on reading the next in the series ASAP. Meanwhile, a solid A to Ms Hale for this not-too-sweet fairy tale with an HEA that made sense.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Cold Days by Jim Butcher and Other News of Interest

 Who knew Pete Townshend was in the book business before he was a rock star? Certainly not me!
I think it is fascinating that the man is obviously into literary pursuits, as well as music.

"Are you kidding? That was the best job I ever had. I had lunch with the
old chairman, Matthew Evans, this week, and we both went dewy-eyed about
the old days. He's in the House of Lords trying to stay awake, and I'm
pounding stages like an aging clown. I loved the way the Faber editorial
committee was driven as much by gossip and rumor as ideas. It was fun.
Not what you expect in such an esteemed publishing house."

--The Who's Pete Townshend,
author of Who I Am: A Memoir, in a New York Times interview where he
recalled working as an acquisitions editor at Faber & Faber.

My birthday is coming up this year on 12/12/12, and I LOVE Star Trek in all it's incarnations, so uhm, hint, hint to hubby:

"Federation: The First 150 Years" aims to impress Star Trek fans from the
moment they take it out of the box: the book comes with its own
pedestal, which contains a recorded message from Admiral Hikaru Sulu
(George Takei) welcoming readers to this chronicle of the early years of
the United Federation of Planets.

David A. Goodman synthesizes plotlines from multiple Trek series and
films, covering the period between Earth's first open encounter with the
Vulcans (as seen in Star Trek: First Contact) and the negotiation of
peace between the Federation and the Klingons (Star Trek VI: The
Undiscovered Country). The resulting chronology is frontloaded with the
final Trek series, Enterprise, and the original series, along with its
movie spinoffs. But Goodman also draws upon other parts of the canon to
fill in some of the story; fans of the 1970s animated series will be
delighted to see a section on Robert April, the first captain of the
NCC-1701, James T. Kirk's Enterprise.

The attention to detail is thorough. When Goodman invokes a fictional
historian to describe the mid-21st-century "World War III," he picks a
character from an episode of the original series. He's also willing to
embrace the franchise's sillier moments: one sidebar provides an
epilogue to the episode where Kirk visits a planet that bases its
society on 1920s Chicago gang wars, while another works in the "Great
Tribble Hunt" of Deep Space Nine. There's even a reference to the
"Temporal Cold War" storyline of Enterprise (although it's treated with
some skepticism).

The sidebars also present elaborate versions of alien calligraphy, and
there are additional illustrations to flesh out our view of the
universe. (These are almost entirely drawings and paintings, although
some of them use recognizable promotional photographs as their sources.)
An envelope attached to the inside back cover includes some additional
"primary documents," including a handwritten letter from Kirk--all very
smartly done.

Although Federation is framed as basic history--Goodman writes
in-character from a 24th-century perspective--it is not, strictly
speaking, an introductory text for non-fans. People who've never seen
any of the shows could certainly pick up the fundamentals of the
mythology from this book, but the detached perspective results in a lack
of dramatic tension. If you're already a Trekker, though, it can be both
a handy reference and a fun challenge: How many references can you spot?
--Ron Hogan

My mom and 94-year-old stepfather live in Prescott Valley, Arizona, and I've been trying to get them to visit this new store that is only 10 miles or so away from them. So far, no luck, but it does sound like a fun place!

Congratulations to the Peregrine Book Company, Prescott, Ariz., which this past
weekend held its grand opening celebration, including a welcome
reception, several author talks and signings, a writing workshop and a
poetry open mic event.

My husband is a huge fan of beer, and I think he's going to have to try this next time we're in Portland on a Powell's run:
Powell's Books, Portland, Ore., has partnered with Rogue Ales and Spirits to create White Whale Ale, "a beverage for anyone who has a thirst for books and artisan craft beer"

Powell's described the creation process this way: "This brand-new ale
was truly inspired by a love of literature. At an auction in Chicago,
Michael Powell landed a first edition of Herman Melville's The Whale
(renamed Moby-Dick in subsequent editions), and the book has occupied a
special place in his heart ever since. In part, this special-edition
beer is a tribute to Michael and his family, as well as to the legacy of

"The concept behind the project was to go where beer has never gone
before--by adding actual pages from a copy of Moby-Dick to the brew.
Michael and Emily Powell took sheets from the book and, along with Rogue
Brewmaster John Maier, placed them into the brew kettle."

White Whale Ale, which was brewed in honor of the bookstore's 41st
anniversary, is available at Rogue Hall on Portland State University
campus and the Rogue Distillery and Public House, located near Powell's
flagship store. Commemorative bottles may also be purchased online at

I spent the last two days reading "Cold Days" the 13th Dresden Files novel featuring Chicago's favorite wizard, Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. I have to admit that I was none too happy with author Jim Butcher two books ago when he shot and killed Harry on the last freakin' page of the book, leaving readers who are wild about Harry all up in arms over Butcher killing the best magical detective/hero ever to walk the pages of a book. It was all reminiscent of the furor over the death of Sherlock Holmes over the Reichenback Falls, with A. Conan Doyle getting lots of angry letters from people who loved Sherlock just as much as modern-day urban fantasy fans love Harry.
Butcher responded by claiming that the ending wasn't a cliffhanger (yeah, right) and wrote an entire book where our hero was a ghost, floating around trying to help people but being clearly limited by his non corporeal form.
I must admit I was as frustrated as Harry was, because part of his charm is the sheer brute physicality he brings to magic and to saving others from harm. Harry's not averse to pounding the crap out of the bad guys, or blowing them to smithereens, or burning them up with his trademark "Forzare!" (I am not sure I'm spelling that right). And if you love Harry (and any woman reading the Dresden Files can't help but fall in love with Harry), you also find his wit, his self-effacing humor and his long, lean tall, dark and handsome body all a very drool-worthy part of the fantasy.
So I was really looking forward to this book, because at the end of "Ghost Story" Harry returned to his body on Demonreach Island, brought there by Mab, Queen of the Winter Fae whom Harry'd made a deal with in order to save his daughter two books ago. He agreed to be the Winter Knight, but in dying had hoped to thwart Mab's plans for turning him into a slave/assassin.
Fortunately, after some harrowing weeks of "rehab" that Harry barely manages to survive, readers are treated again to the full court press that is Dresden at his best; witty banter, terribly short deadlines to save the world, and interactions with all the great characters surrounding Harry that we've come to know and count on to have his back, including Karrin Murphy, the ex-cop, Molly Carpenter, Harry's apprentice who has a mammoth crush on him, Waldo Butters, the ME with a heart of gold. Thomas, his brother, the white court vampire (White court vampires are all succubus...succubi?) and even Mac the bar owner who is somehow linked to the Fae but considers his bar neutral ground and brews the best beer in Chicago, according to Harry. Mouse  the Foo dog also makes a reappearance, thank heaven, and we learn that Santa Claus is not just a jolly old elf, but an ancient fae who goes on the Wild Hunt and has some connection to Odin one-eye, the Norse god. There are some parts of the book that are so funny, they're priceless, especially the "Santa smackdown" and the brief moments when Harry sets to pondering his messy lot in life. "But you can't go around changing your definition of right and wrong just because doing the wrong thing happens to be really convenient. Sometimes it isn't easy to be sane, smart and responsible. Sometimes it sucks. Sucks wang. Camel wang. But that doesn't turn wrong into right or stupid into smart." Harry Dresden, from Cold Days.
 I also believe I found an error in the book, which is rare because Butcher is such a master storyteller and so meticulous about his prose that typos are unheard of in his works. But on page 301, Titania says "I have not exchanged words with my sister since before Hastings" and Dresden calls that the "Next-best thing to a millennium's worth of estrangement." However, if Titania means the Battle of Hastings, which was in 1066, isn't that a lot more than a millennium? I could have misinterpreted her remark, of course, and she could be talking about something I've forgotten from one of the other books. At any rate, the book's fine prose sails along with speed and grace to a somewhat satisfying, if surprising conclusion. Now all we need do is wait for the next "coming storm" on the horizon to see if Harry and company will survive yet another supernatural onslaught.
I was a bit bummed that Harry and Karrin still haven't managed to be lovers, when both obviously love and respect one another, but it seems that it is never the right time for them to be in love, which makes me terribly sad for our hero Harry. It also makes me sad that he's afraid to seek out his daughter and build a relationship with her, when the man faces down demons and dragons and things that go bump in the night all the time. Sigh. Seems that Jim Butcher wants to save Harry finally getting happy for another day. Okay, Butcher, haven't we fans waited long enough? C'mon man, pony up some lovin' for Harry, before he becomes too old and bitter to enjoy it! Anyway, this novel deserves an A+, and I'd recommend it to all Dresden File fans, like myself, who just can't get enough of that wise-crackin' wizard.

Monday, November 05, 2012

What's in the Hopper and Other Stuff

Is there anything more uplifting and joyous than getting a box of books in the mail?
The short answer is no, there isn't!
I have gotten a box of books in the mail last week and this week, and I am hoping to get another book from the SF Book Club next week with the latest Jim Butcher Harry Dresden book in it.
Meanwhile, though, here's what is in the hopper right now, awaiting time to read it:
War For the Oaks, Emma Bull
Hemingway's Girl, Erika Roebuck
In Sunlight and In Shadow, Mark Helprin
Mrs Queen Takes the Train, William Kuhn
Haunt Me Still, Jennifer Lee Carrell
Robopocalypse, Daniel Wilson
Kicking and Dreaming, Ann and Nancy Wilson
And I finished "Magic Without Mercy" by Devon Monk, which I believe is the last, or the second to last book in the Allie B series. It was a great book to end on, because we got to see all the characters fighting to save magic and Portland from the head of the Authority who was possessed.
Great stuff, action, romance, magic and the unsinkable Allie B!

Here's an event going on in and around Seattle that I would LOVE to attend, but I doubt I could get my husband to drive me to even one of the events, let alone all of them. Still, it sounds marvelous, and I hope other local bibliophiles take advantage of this opportunity!

Cool Idea of the Day: My Bookstore Lit Crawl

Five bookstores in Washington State are teaming up to stage a "lit
crawl" to celebrate the publication November 13 of My Bookstore: Writers
Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop, edited by
Ronald Rice (Black Dog & Leventhal). In the book, more than 80 authors
pay tribute to their favorite independent bookstores.

The lit crawl centers on five events, one at each of the five stores,
over eight days. At their first event, attendees receive a My Bookstore
passport, and then at each event thereafter they'll get a stamp. With
three or more stamps, customers will be entered for a chance to win
prizes sponsored by the lit crawl consortium, which include gift cards
to Third Place and University Book Store, copies of My Bookstore and a
prize pack of all attending authors' most recent work.

The events, all beginning at 7 p.m., are:

November 12: Ivan Doig at the University Book Store, Seattle.
November 13: Tom Robbins at Village Books, Bellingham
November 14: Jonathan Evison at Eagle Harbor Books, Bainbridge Island
November 16: Stephanie Kallos and members of the Seattle 7 at Third
Place Books, Lake Forest Park
November 20: Timothy Egan at Elliott Bay Books, Seattle

"We're so pleased to be working with other area independents on hosting
this lit crawl," Stesha Brandon, manager of PR and events at University
Book Store. "We're all honored to be toasted by such respected authors,
of course, but as a whole we also view the publication of My Bookstore
as a celebration of not only the wonderful authors who stock our shelves
but our customers, too."

I have long thought that legendary editors, like Ross or Perkins would be excellent fodder for a movie, and now I am being proven right! Of course, watching a hot Michael Fassbender in "Hex" has certainly helped revise my estimation of his acting talents, and I've always been a fan of Colin Firth, so I can hardly wait for this film to debut.

Colin Firth and Michael Fassbender will star in Genius,
based on the National Book Award-winning Max Perkins: Editor of Genius
by A. Scott Berg. The film "will chart the real-life relationship
between literary giant Thomas Wolfe (Fassbender) and renowned editor Max
Perkins (Firth), who developed a tender, complex friendship that changed
the lives of both men forever," the Hollywood Reporter wrote. Michael
Grandage will direct from an adapted script by John Logan.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Ms Linda Morrison, Manager
Mr Peter Scott, District Manager
Barnes and Noble Northgate
401 Northeast Northgate Way # 1100
Seattle, WA 98125

Dear Ms Morrison and Mr Scott,
I attended your book signing with Ann and Nancy Wilson of the band “Heart” yesterday, Oct 27, at your Northgate store.
I would like you to know first that I have a Nook from Barnes and Noble, and that I am a member in good standing and regularly order books online from B&
Yesterday Ann and Nancy Wilson of the rock group HEART were supposed to be at Barnes and Noble in North Seattle at the Northgate Mall B&N at 2 pm to sign their book, "Kicking and Dreaming" which was written with the help of Charles Cross.
They were going to have a "conversation" with Mr Cross, after which they were supposed to take questions from the audience and then sign books, records, guitars, etc.

My husband, son and I live in Maple Valley, which is about 30 miles from Seattle, and about 40 from North Seattle. It should take us about 40 minutes to get there, but with horrible traffic in the rain, it took us an hour and a half to get there, though I had planned for this and we left early, hoping to arrive early so that I could show them that I had purchased my copy of "Kicking and Dreaming" from Barnes and Noble online, because I have a membership card and get free shipping.

We arrived at 1 pm (an hour early) to find that parking was almost non existent, and once Jim dropped me off at the door, I went to the counter to show my proof of purchase and get a 'wristband' something I was told I wouldn't be admitted without. The guy at the counter said "Oh, we don't have any more wristbands, so you're just going to have to try to get in by showing your book." Great. I approached the small area where the event was to take place, and noticed that there was quite a long, winding line, though they were allowing people in with wristbands, who sat in the few seats provided (WHY were there so few seats? Heart is rock and roll royalty in Seattle, you HAD to know there would be a huge crowd there for their appearance).

After they were all seated, the rest of us were told we had to stand in the aisles for the event. I was not expecting to have to stand, because I wore nice shoes and dressed up to see these two women whom I'd idolized since I was a teenager in Iowa in the 1970s.

I recall, clearly, the day I found the "Dreamboat Anne" album, and how I devoured the music on it, because my brothers were always playing Styx, Rush, AC/DC, Journey and Bob Segar albums, loudly proclaiming that only men could produce quality rock and roll. Then when I got "Little Queen" and listened to the glorious songs on that album, I felt as if they were singing to me, that they understood what it was like to live under the shadow of your brothers and father, who had no problem telling you how worthless you were, just in case you hadn't gotten that message from the many bullies at in high school who beat you down every single day. I wore out my first Little Queen album, and I saved up my money to buy another one, though I had all the songs memorized, even with the skips where the scratches were on the record.
I saw a Washburn guitar poster with Nancy Wilson on it and I pitched the first huge fit of my life (I was the easy, tractable middle child who didn't make trouble) when my parents got me a cheap guitar from Sears for my 16th birthday when I so desperately wanted a Washburn, just like Nancy Wilsons! It didn't matter that I couldn't sing like Ann Wilson, it only mattered that they were women, and they ROCKED, so well that I was sure no one could put them down. They gave me hope. Hope that, despite my size and my gender, that I could actually make something of myself, someday.
However, now that I am an old woman with Crohn’s Disease who is obese and has sore joints, my ability to stand for hours is severely compromised. But I tried to make the best of it, standing there, talking to the people around me, among them a young man who had brought a guitar for the Wilsons to sign, a mom with two daughters, (one about 7 and the other 13 and crazy for Justin Bieber), who had to listen to her tired and hungry daughters whine louder as the hours went by, and a senior woman who was wearing leopard-print spiked heels, and a guy with a Heart hat that he'd gotten during one of their concerts years ago, along with some treasured vinyl albums. There was also a senior lady in line who was hassled by a clerk because she didn’t have a book in hand. The lady explained that she had purchased a book previously and had gotten it signed, but she wanted to come to this event to hear the Wilson sisters speak. She was told she’d have to leave unless she bought another book. So this elderly woman had to get out of the standing room only line and walk over to purchase another book and then walk to the back of the line, which was patently unfair.

We stood for 3 hours, with the Wilsons arriving a half hour late, only to discover that the microphones either didn't work or couldn't be turned up at all, so those of us standing in the aisles couldn't hear anything that Ann or Nancy said. We could hear the smug Mr Cross rambling on about how well he knew the sisters Wilson, but no one really cared about his story, they wanted to hear about Heart, and the book.
The sisters and Cross talked briefly, but we could hear next to nothing that was said, and after about 15 minutes Cross threw it open to questions from the audience. A flamboyant black gay man got up from the seated section and blathered about how much he and his husband loved their music, which he thanked them for, but he really didn't have a question. Then a woman from the seated section asked another question, which we couldn't hear, and then we couldn't hear the answer that had those in the seats laughing. Another question was asked, and then they stopped the questions, after only 3 or 4 of them (if you count the gay black man who just wanted to blather) and said they'd be signing all the stuff people had brought with them, but of course they'd start with the seated section first. Note that no questions were answered from the standing crowd, though several raised their hands!

By this time, my feet had gone from numb to burning pain, my guts were starting to twist and feel like my intestines were going to fall out of my body, and I hadn't had the chance to seek out any of the books on the list I'd brought, or sit down, or go to the bathroom or get a drink.
My husband called from a nice pub across the street to say he was planning on just waiting for me to get done, but I told him he needed to get to the bookstore, take my place in line and let me go do some book shopping and sit down, even if it was only in the bathroom. 30 minutes later, husband arrives and they won't let him in until I charge forward and tell them that I need him to take my place in line, ostensibly for book shopping, because I felt that money was the only thing the clerks would listen to at this point. 
I charged upstairs, found someone who basically told me that she'd order me some books online because it would save me a lot of money over buying it in the store (I didn't tell her that if I wanted to get them online, I could do that myself at home, I didn't need to drive for hours to get to a store), then I went to the bathroom and then stopped by the B&N coffee shop to get a juice and sit down next to two seniors who had literally given up on standing in line waiting for their books to be signed.  I waited until my feet no longer felt like they were going to fall off, and I walked back to the line, only to see my husband saying that I was "next!"
Just as I handed my book to the B&N clerk, an officious man walked over and said, "No more signing of anything but books." So I couldn't get the two photos of Ann and Nancy that I'd been holding on to for years signed, because now that I finally got to stand in front of them, I was being chivvied along by the man who had said they couldn’t sign anything else. I do not know if he was a B&N employee or working with the Wilson sisters, but he was clearly impatient to get me away from them.
I tried to tell Nancy about the Washburn guitar that my parents finally ordered for me and purchased for $600, which was a heckuva lot of money in 1977, but it was clear that they just wanted me done. I took a pen and pencil set with me in a nice wooden case, as is my habit when I meet authors, to give them a pen as a gift. Unknown to me, my husband had taken the pen out of the case and not put it back into the case, hoping to get the sisters to autograph my book with my name by writing it on a note on the front of the book. They ignored that completely, just signing their names. And now I know that the pen/pencil set that I wanted to give them was incomplete, because of my husband removing the pen from the case. So I don’t even have the good feeling that comes from giving a heart-felt thank you, via a gift, to a couple of your childhood idols.

As we were leaving I noticed that the guitar guy had a signed guitar in front of him, and the guy with the hat had a signed hat on his head, so obviously I was the only person not allowed to have things signed other than the book.  Which is terrible, really, since I've been dreaming of the moment I'd meet the Wilson sisters since 1976, when I first heard "Dreamboat Anne."

Now I am left heartbroken, footsore and embarrassed, and feeling that Barnes and Noble really had no clue how to run the event properly. I wonder why members weren't given preferred seating, but at this point it doesn't matter, since I am sure I won’t ever get another shot at seeing the sisters Wilson.
I just thought you both should know that your event was a major disappointment for this fan, and several others who stood for a long time in the aisles of your store (not to mention spending a lot of money on gas to get there and money for the book itself).
I know that Barnes and Noble is a big corporation, so you probably don’t care if 50 or 60 people have a bad experience at a book signing, and a lone freelance writer writes to tell you about it and posts about it on her book blog.
But with so many bookstores closing and so few real bibliophiles like myself remaining, I think it should matter to someone.
Here's a bit from Shelf Awareness:

Robert Gray: Trick or Books
It's not the book ghosts; you're never afraid of them, even when the
shelves are full and all those authors, living and dead, whisper: "Read
us... Read us... Read us..."

"Did you ever notice how books track you down and hunt you out?"
Christopher Morley wrote. "They follow you like the hound in Francis
Thompson's poem
They know their quarry!... That's why I call this place the Haunted Bookshop Haunted by the
ghosts of the books I haven't read. Poor uneasy spirits, they walk and
walk around me. There's only one way to lay the ghost of a book, and
that is to read it."

Monday, October 22, 2012

Book News and Other Items of Interest

Emma Thompson on reading Peter Rabbit:
"Take it slow, much slower than you think. Give them plenty of time to
look at the pictures and sort of extrapolate from the pictures,"
Oscar-winning actress and author Emma Thompson
told NPR's Renee Montagne in an interview on Morning Edition yesterday,
where she talked about her new book The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit.

We loved her answer to the question of how the publisher, Frederick
Warne & Co., approached her about writing a new Peter Rabbit book: "It
wasn't a formal letter as such," she said. "It wasn't a 'Dear Ms.
Thompson, would you consider blah' from the publishers. It was a little
box with two half-eaten radishes in it and a letter from Peter Rabbit.
And the child part of me, I think, actually believed it had come from
Peter Rabbit himself. And that got past my defenses and my fear for long
enough for me to say, 'OK, well, I'll have a go.' "

These two books are getting such great reviews and awards, that I can't wait to read them, though I only have a copy of "Wolf Hall" in my TBR stack:

Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel's Man Booker
Prize-winning novels, are being adapted for the stage
by Mike Poulton. The Telegraph reported "the two productions are under
consideration by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the intention is to
stage the two plays over the same season.... A BBC Two costume drama
based on the books is also in the works."

"I went to a first reading last week," Mantel said. "There's still a
great deal of work to do but what we're hoping for is two plays--a Wolf
Hall play and a Bring Up the Bodies play--which, if you liked, you could
see on consecutive evenings."

While Mantel noted that the RSC is "not committed but certainly
interested," she added that a spokesman for the company said the plays
were "on our list of considerations."

Amen, Joe! "The world is changing, but I am not changing with it. There is no
e-reader or Kindle in my future. My philosophy is simple: Certain things
are perfect the way they are. The sky, the Pacific Ocean, procreation
and the Goldberg Variations all fit this bill, and so do books. Books
are sublimely visceral, emotionally evocative objects that constitute a
perfect delivery system.

"Electronic books are ideal for people who value the information
contained in them, or who have vision problems, or who have clutter
issues, or who don't want other people to see that they are reading
books about parallel universes where nine-eyed sea serpents and blind
marsupials join forces with deaf Valkyries to rescue high-strung albino
virgins from the clutches of hermaphrodite centaurs, but they are
useless for people engaged in an intense, lifelong love affair with
books. Books that we can touch; books that we can smell; books that we
can depend on. Books that make us believe, for however short a time,
that we shall all live happily ever after."

--Joe Queenan in a Wall Street Journal essay headlined "My 6,128
Favorite Books,"
which was adapted from One for the Books (Viking, Oct. 25)

So after 6 months, the new owner of Queen Anne Books has decided to sell the place again! Oh no!
Once again, I find myself wishing I'd won the lottery!

Katharine Hershey, who bought Queen Anne Books, Seattle, Wash., in April, has put the
store up for sale. An attorney and former King County Superior Court
commissioner, she wrote to customers, "This has not been an easy or
hastily made decision, and I thank all of you for your loyalty and your
commitment to Queen Anne Books during the period of time that I have
been a part of the store." She added that she will be "leaving Queen
Anne Books as of the end of November."

In April, Hershey said that the purchase of the store fulfilled
"a lifelong dream I've had
to own a bookstore, and most particularly to be a part of Queen Anne

Queen Anne Books was founded in 1988 and had been owned the last 14
years by Patti McCall (and part of that time by Cindy Mitchell). Last
year, the store won the WNBA's Pannell Award in the general bookstore
category. Earlier this year, McCall said that the store's lease was up
this month, with a five-year option.

Hershey may be reached at 206-283-5624 or
Having just seen "The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" at Book It Rep Theater, I found myself wishing that I could afford to subscribe to their whole, wonderful season. I am such a fan of theater, having been a theater major, and of course I love books, so anything that brings the two together is a winner in my mind.

Imagine my joy on reading this today on Shelf Awareness:
Seattle's Book-It Repertory Theatre Receives Grant
Book-It Repertory Theatre , an artists' collective
founded 24 years ago in Seattle to adapt short stories for performance,
will receive a three-year grant totaling $340,000

from Paul G. Allen and Jody Allen for educational performances and
programs. The Seattle Times reported that the "gift (the largest in
Book-It's history) will allow the company to expand its educational work
beyond the Puget Sound area.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Goodbye For Now by Laurie Frankel

My most beloved drama professor, Sister Carol Blitgen, used to say that all plays are about two things: love/sex and death. She would sometimes add a caveat that birth/growth could be added as a third, but that when it came down to it, the thing that most classic art of any form was about was death. "We are born astride the grave" was her favorite quote (from, I believe, Samuel Beckett) and she wasn't really as grim and depressing as that sounds, in fact, she was, and is, a vital, bristling-with- intelligence-and-life kind of person. Most of her students were in awe of her, myself included, yet my friends Monica Jenkins and Muff Larson and I would often mock her obsession with death in literature and in drama. We all thought it was because she's a nun, and her lack of love/sex meant that she thought too much, dwelled on, death.
Thirty-plus years later, after having lost my friends Monica and Muff, I can see what an oracle of wisdom the woman really was, and likely is still, though she's retired now.
In other words, I agree with Sister Carol, and I'd like to apologize to her for being a smart-ass theater major, all those years ago.
I wasn't expecting to have the above spring to mind when I read Laurie Frankel's new novel, "Goodbye For Now" this weekend.  I realized, after looking at the jacket copy that I'd read her first book "The Atlas of Love" a year or so ago, and I recall liking it, and thinking it wasn't what I'd expected it to be, either.
But the brilliant Ms Frankel seems to be full of surprises, and before I wander off in my ruminations and review, let me stress that this book is as perfect a novel as is possible for an imperfect human to write, and well worth 25 dollars to acquire a hardback copy to read, right now, (Yes, I mean immediately. Run, don't walk to the bookstore.)
 As with all great art, I laughed, I cried, I was amazed, dumbfounded and in love with the sheer beauty of the wordsmithing, the swift and sure plot, the characters who seem so real that I wanted to call, text or email them the minute I finished the book and commiserate that I was done with the story when I wanted it to last forever.
"Goodbye for Now" is the story of Sam the computer programmer (or "dev" short for developer, as they're called at Microsoft) who is a bored and lonely genius geek. He develops a computer program that intuits, from all available online information about an individual, who their perfect mate would be, and after being fired for it, he decides to use it on himself. He's matched with Meredith, who actually is his soul mate, and after he and Meredith move in together, her beloved grandmother Livvie dies, and Meredith is inconsolable. She begs Sam to write her a program that will allow her grandmother to continue to email her, and video-chat with her as well. Sam, never one to turn down a programming challenge (and I know a number of geeks like this), ends up creating a kind of artificial intelligence program that uses all the online information that can be found on that person, in addition to their saved emails/video chats to develop an avatar that sounds and reacts just like the deceased grandmother. Meredith finds being able to still have Livvie in her life a great comfort, and inevitably, Sam and Meredith's best friend from childhood Dashiel all decide to open up a company called "RePose" that allows others to see and speak to their deceased loved ones on the computer.
While at first all goes well, of course religious groups and the media descend on RePose, and attempt to cast the company as taking advantage of people's grief with 'fake' representations of their lost loved ones. Philosophical debates ensue, and when a doctor from a pediatric cancer ward gets involved, more than a little guilt and shame comes up, too.
Though there is a surprise death near the end of the book, it is handled with grace and beauty.
"You are the paragon of animals, my love. You aspire to such greatness, to miracle, to newness and wonder...but you forgot about the part that's been around since time immemorial. Love, death, loss. You've run up against it. And there's no getting around or over it. You stop and build your life right there at the base of that wall. There is no other side, but there's plenty of space there to build a life and plenty of company."
"We will do this forever. You will always write to me. And I will always reply. Great lovers imagine their love will outlive and outlast them in impassioned correspondence that survives in books, in museums. But in books and museums, their love is preserved, entombed. Ours grows and lives and breathes, moves and dances on the wind, becomes long after the museums have crumbled and the books have turned to ash and dust."
If you have ever lost someone you love, you need to read this book. The fact that it takes place in Seattle is only the watery icing on the cake.
I had the great fortune to meet the author, and she's as beautiful as her prose. The world needs more authors like this, more books like this. A solid A+ and a heartfelt thank you to Ms Frankel for a weekend well spent in her world.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey and Other News

I'm a fan of Jacqueline Carey's marvelous Kushiel's Legacy series and her Santa Olivia books, so I was thrilled to read on Facebook that Ms Carey has begun a new urban fantasy series, starring Daisy Johanssen, half-demon and agent of Hel, the Norse goddess.
Daisy's mother, a human who inadvertently summoned a demon via Ouija board, decided to raise Daisy in as normal an environment as possible, in Pemkowet, Michigan, which resides (not unlike Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Sunnydale with it's hell-mouth) on top of an underworld rich with eldritch-folk, from ghouls to fairies and vampires.
When we join Daisy, she's working as a liaison to the eldritch community (and designated agent of Hel, complete with a tattoo on her hand) in the Pemkowet Police Department, and trying to quell her crush on one of the local policemen, Cody, who happens to be a werewolf.
Unfortunately, after a local frat boy turns up dead under suspicious circumstances, Daisy has to work with Cody and her friends in the community to come up with the killer and bring him to justice.
A master storyteller, Carey charms readers from page one with Daisy's semi-tough attitude and tender heart that belie her terrible temper and tiny demon tail. Her Godmother and former B-movie actress Lurine, who is half-woman, half-sea serpent and all-gorgeous, has some great lines and is truly a fascinating character with whom anyone would kill to have as a connection. Stefan the European hottie ghoul, who feeds on emotion, is another character that will keep readers thrilled with his sensual attention to Daisy and his ability to help calm her by taking some of her anger and anxiety at a time when she desperately needs them gone, due to her ability to explode and break things when her emotions reach a fever pitch. I was particularly struck by Carey's bold choice to define her supernatural creatures in a more classic way, such as vampires who can't be seen on film or in mirrors and can't go out in daylight, water fairies like nyads who aren't at all kind, but rather nasty, seeking to harm/drown those who are lured into the water with them, and the king of the forest as a wise man with stag horns whose coloring blends with the colors of the autumnal trees. You can't take these characters for granted anymore, since authors like Stephanie Meyers and others have re-written supernatural history and have vampires that merely "sparkle" in daylight, and water fae who are harmless and pretty in other recent fantasy novels.  Supernatural beings in old folktales, legends and myths were most often frightening creatures whom humans were told it was best to avoid, lest they be harmed. The fact that Carey has put her creatures firmly back in place as frightening and formidable, at a time when so many other authors seek to nearly domesticate or tame them strikes me as a bold and brilliant choice that will make her new series instant classics. Meanwhile, this book was just plain fun to read, full of cultural references and engaging characters, plus many interesting facts about supernaturals that will keep fantasy geeks happy for page after page. The plot swooshes by in a blur, and the strong, clean prose is vintage Carey.
I must admit I laughed out loud when Sinclair the faux-Jamaican shows up to try and get a tour bus going to view some 'less harmful' fairies, and Daisy has to summon them and make a deal with the king of the forest/fae by using morning dew in acorn cups. The fact that Daisy now has dinner plans with Sinclair, who reads auras, has met Cody's family and has an open declaration of support and a request for a kind of partnership with Stefan the ghoul leads me to feel certain that Dark Currents will be a hit with fans of fantasy and SF genres, and will engender many a fan to breathlessly await the next installment in the series. A+ for this first book in the series.

In other news, I am so proud of my adopted city!
Describing Seattle as "a book town in an e-reader world,
proud of its devotion to real books and real bookstores," the Washington
Post's Diane Roberts explored a few traditionally bookish destinations
in the city where Amazon has its headquarters, noting that "despite the
Northwest's haute-techiness (Microsoft's headquarters is just across
Lake Washington, too), Seattle still loves paper and print."

Among the bookstores highlighted were Lion Heart ("an excellent
selection of children's books that goes way beyond Harry Potter"), BLMF
Literary Saloon ("Customers should not expect to be coddled.") and Left
Bank Books, which "stocks a T-shirt that shouts 'Read a [expletive] book!' "

Roberts "wanted to kiss the polished wooden floor the minute I walked
into the Elliott Bay Book Co. It smells
of ink and paper (and coffee and cherries--there's a good cafe in the
back), and it glistens with new books; books you've heard of and books
you didn't know existed."

Elliott Bay bookseller Alan Brandsted told her that the bookstore is
"hyper-aware of the Amazon empire. Sometimes people come in and look
around, then buy online.... We see ourselves as a resource. Come in
here, and something might be revealed."

Finally, a lovely tidbit of autumn poetry from
Mary Oliver: "Lines Written in the Days of Growing

"So let us go on, cheerfully enough,
this and every crisping day,
though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tidbits and Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

 I am looking forward to seeing this movie, as I have always been a fan of Emily Dickinson's poems.

Cynthia Nixon will play poet Emily Dickinson in A Quiet Passion
from British director Terence Davies (House of Mirth), who also wrote
the screenplay for the film that "will trace Dickinson's life from
precocious schoolgirl to the tortured recluse who saw only seven of her
more than 1,000 poems published in her lifetime," the Hollywood Reporter

"I wrote the screenplay with Cynthia in mind," Davies said. "It was the
kind of dream casting you hope for. I never, for a moment, imagined my
wishes would materialize. Cynthia has such a strong feeling for the
work--and now she is our Emily Dickinson. I'm over the moon."

"When I read what Terence had written, I was consumed by the character
he had so beautifully put on the page," Nixon observed. "Emily
Dickinson's words and Terence's somehow dovetail to create a heady
elixir. When I put the script down, I knew it was a story that I simply
have to be part of."

This seems like such a great idea to me, to pass the time while you're on a ferry boat. I have a friend on Facebook who lives in Kitsap, and I wonder if he became part of this book group?
For its monthly Ferry Tales book group
program, the Kitsap Regional Library takes to the water via the
Washington State Ferries system on the trip between Seattle and
Bainbridge Island. At Boing Boing, librarian Audrey Barbakoff explained
that in "the direction of the commute, a group of regulars discusses one
title each month; in the other, I host a drop-in, ask-a-librarian
session. I love helping our community of commuters get to know each
other, expand our reading horizons, and just share an incredibly
enjoyable ride!"

I imagine that lots of people left these books behind, and I am glad that someone is offering a better book in trade:
"Hotels may be creating packages around the novel Fifty Shades of Grey
to attract visitors, but turns out visitors are leaving their copies
behind when they check out of hotels," according to ABC News, which
reported that E.L. James's erotic bestseller was the book most often
left behind
at Travelodge U.K. properties.

The hotel chain's annual survey found that 7,000 copies of the novel
were discarded, amounting to nearly one-third of the total 21,786 books
left behind in 36,500 Travelodge hotel rooms.

"It is interesting to see that our list is not dominated by celebrity
biographies and chick lit

books, which it has been in the past," a Travelodge spokeswoman told the

But if you're in more of a trading than leaving behind mood, publisher
OR Books is currently featuring a "Bonnets for Bondage Giveaway"
promotion through which OR will "send the first fifty respondents a
free, illustrated copy of Fifty Shades of Louisa May
which is simply a superior read, and might actually rock your world, old
school style."

I adore Carl Sandburg's poems, too, and I hope to be able to record this on Monday.
American Masters: The Day Carl Sandburg Died, commemorating the 45th
anniversary of the author's death, makes its premier Monday, September
24, at 10 p.m. on PBS stations. Film outtakes featuring Peter Seeger,
Studs Terkel, Norman Corwin, a Sandburg playlist, podcast and more can
be found here:

It is nice to know that Roger Page and company at Island Books held firm in the face of censorship and fatwas from third-world despots! This is from Salman Rushdie himself, as he has now written a book about his experiences during that terrifying time:

"In February 1989, my novel The Satanic Verses was published in the United States a few days after the Khomeini fatwa; in the eye of the storm, in other words. What happened in the months that followed was something I will never forget. American writers gathered together in a show of almost complete unity to defend freedom of speech. Thousands of ordinary Americans wore “I am Salman Rushdie” buttons to express their solidarity. The independent booksellers of America put the book in windows, mounted special displays, and courageously stood up for freedom against censorship, refusing to allow the choices of American readers to be limited by the threats of an angry despotic cleric far away. The bravery of independent booksellers influenced other stores to follow their lead, and in the end a key battle for free expression was wonnot by politicians who, as usual, arrived cautiously and tardily at the battlefield, but by the determination of ordinary people that it not be lost. I have never ceased to be grateful for what the independent booksellers of America did in 1989 and, now that I have finally been able to tell the full story of that battle, I’m glad to be able to honor your courage and give you all your due, both in the pages of my book and in what I will say about it when it is published. This is just to thank you personally. It was a privilege to be defended by you, and I have been trying, and will continue to try, to be worthy of that defense."

Island Books was one of the independent stores that kept The Satanic Verses on the shelf, selling it nervously and proudly.

I can't see the words "Shadow of Night" without hearing Pat Benatar's song "Shadow of the Night" in my head, running in an endless loop. The music video for that song was the intrepid Ms Benatar in a WWII airplane dog-fighting for the Allies and belting out her defiant tune to those Mezerschmidts full of Nazis. "We're runnin' with the shadows of the night, so baby take my hand it'll be alright, surrender all your dreams to me tonight, they'll come true in the end."
So it was with great nostalgia that I opened my hardback copy of the sequel to "A Discovery of Witches," which had us meeting professor Diana Bishop and Matthew de Clermont, soon to be star-crossed lovers. Diana, it turns out, is a witch from a long line of witches, and Matthew is a vampire, and though they are forbidden by Covenant law to wed or engage in sexual activity, inevitably, they do both, and end up running away through time to 16th century England, where they are supposed to find a magic book, and Diana is supposed to learn more about her powers and how to control them. Hence the first part of Shadow of the Night finds us touring London in 1591, complete with discussions of clothing, food, shopping, life at Queen Elizabeth first's court, etc. Being a history major, I enjoyed the daily life of Elizabethan England paragraphs, and I found Harkness' treatment of actual historical figures, such as Kit Marlow and Shakespeare fascinating. I also enjoyed the people surrounding Diana and Matthew, the 'regular' people, like the little pickpocket they take in, and the local creepy vampire king, who, like the Holy Roman Emperor, wants to get his hooks into Diana because she's apparently irresistible. And therein lies one of my problems with the book, Diana seems to be a bit of a ninny for someone who has multiple degrees from Ivy League colleges and who didn't grow up in an era where women were supposed to be demure or reticent. Once she's in 16th century England, she seems to become more 'girly' and less intelligent, and makes it clear that she wants Matthew to dominate her in every way possible, as this seems to be her ideal of what makes a good relationship. Much discussion is had about vampires being "possessive" of their mates, and things get even more strange when Diana becomes pregnant, and then loses her child (only to become pregnant with twins later, of course). There is also a great deal of attention paid to how beautiful and extremely attractive Diana is, how her strawberry blond hair is so luxurious and I almost expected a "Twilight" like reference to surface about how her hair smelled of strawberries, just like that idiot Bella Swans did in those vile YA vampire novels. Fortunately, Matthew tells us she smells of honey, instead, which is, I suppose, a marked difference between the two heroines. However, despite its shortcomings with stereotypical characters and lots of black and white characters (good vs evil), I did enjoy this fantasy novel, and was surprised that it wasn't wrapped up in the end, so I can only assume there is another novel on the way that will bring readers closure in the Diana and Matthew saga. All in all, a B+ novel that will appeal to Twilight fans and to historical romance fans as well.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Quotes, Poems, Ancient Libraries and Dragon Ship

"The only bookshop I haven't fallen in love with is one I haven't
visited yet."

--Wendy Grisham, v-p and publisher of Hachette imprint Jericho Books,
speaking at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show
recently in Naples, Fla.

Though I am not a fan of tattoos, and could never have one myself, these are some amazing tats that relate to libraries:
Mental Floss showcased "11 amazing librarian tattoos," noting that there
"are plenty of literary tattoos out there, and plenty of tattooed
librarians. A bit less common are librarians with tattoos celebrating
their career choice."

This is a great review from Shelf Awareness about a new book of poetry by one of my favorite Science Fiction authors, the marvelous Ursula K LeGuin:
Review: Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems, 1960-2010

Ursula K. Le Guin is known as the Hugo- and Nebula-winning author of
science fiction and fantasy novels like The Left Hand of Darkness, The
Lathe of Heaven and the ambitious Earthsea series. She has also been
writing and publishing poetry--11 books and chapbooks since the 1960s,
which she draws upon for the retrospective Finding My Elegy. The
wistful, pensive title is taken from one of several new poems that also
appear in the collection, in which she tells us "my search" for an elegy
"must be a watch,/ patiently sitting, looking out the open door."

The titles of many poems invoke the Pacific Northwest landscape Le Guin
has grown to love: the Columbia River, Mount Rainier, the Coast Range
Highway, Cannon Beach, Clackamas and on and on. She also writes of her
love for the old poets--Virgil, Dante, Lucretius, Shelley, Hugo. In "She
Remembers the Famous Poets," she writes: "Now I am old and grey and sit
alone beside my fire,/ I think of lovely boys I knew when I was young
and fair." And in the witty "Heroic Couplet," we find: "In adolescent
tides of fear and hope, / I prized the canny certainties of Pope;/ when
all I did seemed wrong, it was delight/ to hear him say, Whatever is, is

There are a number of gems in this collection, including "The Queen of
Spain, Grown Old and Mad, Writes to the Daughter She Imagines She Had by
Christopher Columbus," "The Elders at the Falls," "For the New House"
and the just about perfect short poem, "Pelicans," with its wistful echo
of Hopkins:

They're awkward, angular, abstruse,
the great beak on a head so narrow,
a kind of weird Jurassic goose
lurching into the modern era.
But the blue arc of sky lets loose--
look, now!--the brown, unerring arrow!
And see how beautiful, how grave,
the steady wings along the wave.

The only thing missing from this superb collection is a few of Le Guin's
translations of poets like Lao Tzu and Gabriela Mistral, the first (and
only) Latin American woman poet to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Le
Guin has written, "It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it
is the journey that matters in the end." The poems in Finding My Elegy
help chart her journey. --Tom Lavoie

I would love to have about 7 of these really awesome bookcases. In fact, the one that looks like a tree would look great in my living room!

I was actually in one of these ancient libraries, the Long Room at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and it was one of the most holy experiences of my life. The smell alone, of all those ancient volumes, sent me into a rapture of exstacy. I could have remained in that room for days, just looking at books that are older than the country I was born in. What I wouldn't give to visit the Vatican Library! Oh dear God! Imagine the treasures on those shelves!
Noting that older libraries "seem to hum with wisdom through that black
and white film--and we bet the old-book smell is just to die for,"
Flavorwire showcased "vintage photographs from inside 10 famous

Dragon Ship is the third book in the Theo Waitley series of Liaden Universe novels by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. I am a huge fan of all of Sharon and Steve's work, and I eagerly await each new novel, though I have to buy them in hardback (which is spendy) when they first come out in order to assuage my curiosity about what's next for our intrepid young Theo, who is half-Liaden (her father is Daav, former delm of Korval).
Dragon Ship continues where Ghost Ship left off, with Theo going out to explore a new trade route in space for Shan and Val Con in her ship, the ancient machine Bechimo, replete with an AI brain and an AI crewmate that interacts with the crew via vid screen named Joyita. Theo is headstrong and gets into some scrapes, but shows her true colors when she responds to a pilot-in-distress call and helps save a whole group of people from destruction. Meanwhile, Kamele, her mother, seeks Jen Sar, her mate with whom she made Theo, and journeys to Surebleak to try and find him, not knowing that this aspect of his personality has been put aside in favor of Daav, who is extremely ill and is being 'repaired' by a special autodoc system that is with "Uncle" a shadowy character who has control of a great many things behind the scenes. Win Ton, Theo's boyfriend, is also under repair aboard Bechimo, and he has to be totally repaired by his DNA specs, after having spent some time in Uncle's medical machines that only healed him part way.  Clarence, a former Juntavas and Kara, Theo's former room mate and apparently former lover, also come along for the ride, with Norbears and weapons and ships and politics and oh, my, everything else one could ever want in a space opera/adventure! I must say that this book surprised me, especially in outing Theo as a bisexual young woman who feels comfortable bedding down with her old friend Kara while her boyfriend and lover is being healed in a special autodoc on the ship. But that is just one more facet to this already fascinating character. Now that she's bonded to the ship as captain, I can't wait to see what will happen with clan and crew when she returns to Surebleak and has a chat with her half-brother Val Con and his lifemate Miri. Though the language of their novels is often complex and detailed, it is always worth it to read more about the marvelous characters that inhabit the Liaden Universe. A solid A, for this book and a strong hope for the sequel next year.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Prisoner of Heaven and The Truth of All Things

First, feast your eyes on some lovely clips from the 3rd season of Downton Abbey, the show that has captured the imagination of nearly everyone that I know:

A pair of brief new clips from the third season of Downton Abbey
have been released. Indiewire noted that the potential to watch Shirley
MacLaine, as the mother of Elizabeth McGovern's Countess of Grantham,
"trade barbs with Maggie Smith is certainly enough to have us setting
the DVR for new episodes." The first clip "sets the scene for MacLaine's
arrival, and the second sees her doing the impossible, leaving Smith's
Dowager Countess speechless."

Second, I wish I had read this before I made my annual Powell's pilgrimage a month or two ago!

The Portland Mercury reminds us all that there are other bookstores in
Portland, Ore., besides Powell's Books
"While that local juggernaut might be the automatic go-to for locals and
tourists, visiting--and supporting--Portland's other bookstores is a
fantastic way to spend a few hours. Or a day. Or a week." The Mercury
highlights 20 stores in and around Portland, including Annie Bloom's
Books, Broadway Books, A Children's Place, Monograph Bookwerks and
Murder by the Book.

"The Prisoner of Heaven" is the third book by Carlos Ruiz Zafon that has to do with Daniel Sempere, his family and the wonderful Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I loved his first novel, "The Shadow of the Wind" so much that it is on my list of all-time favorite novels, which is no mean feat.  Then I read "The Angel's Game" when it came out, and I was disappointed because all the charm and light and joy had gone out of his characters and his prose...the book seemed very murky and obsessive and filled with pain. So I approached "Prisoner of Heaven" with some trepidation...would it fall flat or be as powerful as the first novel?
The answer is that it is better than Angel's Game, but not as wonderful as Shadow of the Wind, unfortunately. Still, I did enjoy getting to know Ferme and Daniel and some of the other characters better, but I didn't get my Cemetery of Forgotten Books fix until the final chapter, which left me feeling a bit unsatisfied. Readers also spend a lot of time in a prison that seems similar to the one in "The Count of Monte Cristo" except there were more tortuous and painful things to ascribe to it. Ferme escapes the same way that the Count of Monte Cristo does, except he has to scramble out of a lime pit full of dead bodies and make his way into town. Not being a fan of horror fiction, books about war or books about the dark underbelly of Spanish politics,  I found a lot of the chapters almost too grotesque to read, full of pointless butchery and cruelty. But Zafon's prose is still beautifully translated, and he never fails to leave the reader without a solid ending. All in all, I would recommend this to those who loved Shadow of the Wind, with the caveat that it really should be read by adults only.
The Truth of All Things by Kieran Shields was a bit of a conundrum, because it was hailed as being "steampunkish" while also providing a protagonist who was like Sherlock Holmes as a Native American. Somehow the mystery was all linked to the Salem Witch Trials of the 17th century, while the story takes place 200 years later. Also, a lady historian and a deputy marshal named "Archie Lean" were to be the protagonist's assistants in solving the crime. At the outset, a bit of a head-scratcher, with all those genres and classic mystery characters combined in one novel.
Turns out that Shields was able to pull off quiet a magic act in mixing and matching the characters, the mileau of 1892 and a fiendish plot to bring back a 'black magician' who was hanged at the Salem trials 200 years before. A book of black magic and spells is also involved in the case, and Shields keeps the reader guessing right down to the final chapter, with it's terrifying showdown. The fact that this all takes place in or around Portland, Maine, makes it all the more interesting. I could tell that Shields had done his homework, researching the Salem Witch trials and the testimony of the girls who accused so many people and doomed them to hanging or worse. There was also plenty of Native American lore, and information on what happened to the Abenaki Indians of the area when white settlers ran them out of town after several massacres of earlier settlers. Out of all the characters, I must say Perceval Grey remained something of a cipher, and I think the author intended that to be the case. I also enjoyed Helen Prescott, until she became rather hysterical toward the end. Still, I think there is room for romance between the two characters, and I hope that Shields explores that in further mystery novels about the cool, logical and unrufflable Mr Grey. I would recommend this book to those who like American history, Native American history, are interested in the Salem Witch Trials and anyone who enjoys a mystery that has tinges of Jack the Ripper. Fascinating stuff that will keep you wondering until the final page.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Wanted Man by Lee Child

Disclosure note: I was provided with an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of "A Wanted Man" by Lee Child by the wonderful folks at Shelf Awareness.

Anyone who knows me realizes that I am not a huge fan of the suspense/thriller genre. Those who write this genre seem to have a penchant for hard-bitten men who are violent, ruthless, sexist and always on the edge of becoming an "anti-hero."
However, there have been a few suspense/thriller novels that I have read and enjoyed, such as "Loser's Town" by Daniel Depp that surprised me with a nuanced protagonist who wasn't such an outright jerk that he made me want to throw the book against the wall in protest.

So I picked up the 18th book in Lee Child's Jack Reacher series with some trepidation this morning at 9:30 am.
I finally looked up at the clock at 3:40 pm and discovered I was on page 320, only 100 pages from the end of the novel. I finished an hour later, breathless from the breakneck speed of the plot and reeling from the intensity of the story, told in prose that reads like a movie script.
Never having read a Lee Child book, I must say I think that there needs to be a warning on the cover: "Be aware that this book will grab your attention from page one and not let it go until page 416; go to the bathroom and eat something before you begin!"
Child's protagonist Jack Reacher is a tall, big man, former military police and a history buff with a vast knowledge of American historical trivia locked inside his head. He has just enough charm and intelligence to talk his way into and out of most trouble, which is a good thing, as he starts the novel with a nose that has been smashed into his face with the butt of a rifle. He has tried to set the broken bones with duct tape, but realizes as he's hitchhiking through Nebraska to get to Virginia that the duct tape makes him look sinister. So he rips it off and waits through a number of squeamish drivers before he is picked up in a car with three people, two men and a woman who are dressed alike and claim to be on a kind of corporate retreat.
Meanwhile, a man is found murdered in a pump room and an eyewitness claims to have seem three men go into the pump room and only two come out. What might seem to be a simple homicide is  found to be a matter of international terrorism and soon Reacher is embroiled in a search for the murderers that takes him through most of the Midwestern states, (including Iowa, hurrah!) with two FBI agents and nothing but the clothes on his back and his military training to get everyone out of trouble.
Each chapter escalates the tension and provides twists to the characters and plot that you don't see coming until they're staring up at you from the page.  Though there is a bit of sexism to Reacher (he's very judgmental of the women who appear in the book, and the author makes it clear that the more sympathetic woman character has been working undercover as a stripper. I find it bizarre that so many male authors seem to find strippers, prostitutes and 'fallen' women so enticing and so representative of the flower of true womanhood, as if sleaze is the only path to sainthood or desirability), he's not without a conscience, and when one of the female FBI agents is killed, he says, after being offered the opportunity to retreat to safety: "If I come back with you, I am guaranteed to die of shame."
So Reacher goes all GI Joe on the terrorists, killing with precision and utter calm. The descriptions of gore and how people die when shot in various places were not really as nauseating as I expected them to be, but that said, I can only assume the machinery/gun/gore narration in the novel will be appreciated by a more masculine audience, or by women in the military for whom battle descriptions are thrilling reading. Despite that, I would say that I enjoyed about 75-80 percent of "A Wanted Man" and if, as it says in the back blurb, the Jack Reacher novels have been optioned for movies by Hollywood, I imagine I could be persuaded by my husband and son to go see the movie version of handy Jack. Meanwhile, if you'd like to read this novel, here's the link to amazon to pre-order it before it comes out on 9/11.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bookstore Magic and a Great Movie

 Book Shop Magic!

"When I say, 'local bookstore,' odds are good the first thing that comes
to mind is not a book you've bought, but a person, a sense of place,
even just a vague cozy feeling," wrote Wendy Welch in a Huffington Post
piece headlined "The Importance of Local Bookstores"

Welch, whose book The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of
Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book will be
published by St. Martin's in October, is co-owner of Tales of the
Lonesome Pine Used Books, Big Stone Gap, Va.

"When people come into our 39,000-volume-strong shop, their breathing
changes," she observed. "Their expressions soften, steps slow, eyes stop
darting. Hands unclench from cell phones as they mutter, 'Call you
later.' And then they just stand there, letting their eyes drift over
the shelves while that indefinable bookshop magic does its work....
[I]ndependent bookstores help us find the others like us. Booksellers
hear customers' voices in the shop, and hook them up with the voices
they will value on the printed page. It's so much more than a sale. It's
an affirmation."

This is probably the only reason I'd go to Paris, France:

Paris is your best bet
if you're an international traveler looking for a library or bookshop,
according to the World Cities Culture Report 2012. The "importance of
public libraries is explored with Paris coming way out top in numerical
terms. It has 830 public libraries compared to Shanghai's 477, London's
383, Tokyo's 377, Johannesburg's 234, New York's 220, Sydney's 154 and
Berlin's 88. Paris also has more bookshops--1,025 to London's 802,
although Tokyo has the most (1,675); Shanghai has 1,322 and Johannesburg
has 1,020," the Guardian reported.

Last night I watched a wonderful movie that has earned a place on my "Favorite Movies of All Time" list, called "Letters To Juliet."
Though the only real "star" in the movie is the still-lovely Vanessa Redgrave, the movie has wonderful actors who do a fine job in their roles. The story is basically that a young woman who is on the cusp of her nuptuals to a young Italian man goes with him on a buying trip to Italy and discovers that there is a wall in Verona where young women paste letters of grief about love next to a statue of Juliet from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. A group of 5 Italian women calling themselves the Juliet Society takes down the letters every afternoon and writes letters back to these young women, giving them advice on their love lives, ostensibly from "Juliet." The young woman inadvertantly discovers an old letter, written 50 years ago by an American woman named Claire, who failed to show up for a rendezvous with her Italian amour, and our heroine decides to join the Juliet Society and write back to Clarie. A week later, Claire's snotty British grandson shows up at the society and chews the heroine out because his grandmother traveled back to Italy with him to find her one true love from 50 years ago. Thus begins a trip of laughter, tears and falling in love for the three as they traverse Italy in search of Claire's lost love. Of course, the beautiful scenery of Italy charms the eye as the characters win our hearts and there's a lovely HEA ending. I highly recommend this movie to anyone who adores Italy, romantic movies and a good story, well told.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Trip to Powell's City of Books in Portland, plus Tons of Tidbits

Just this past weekend, my husband, son and I drove to Portland, Oregon for my annual pilgrimage to get books, and for my husband to retrieve his older brothers ashes, police report and death certificate.
I managed to take with me a large box of books and a bag of books for store credit, and I got over $110 to try and get my lengthy wish list fulfilled. I got all but one of the books, and was thrilled to get a package from the Science Fiction Book Club yesterday when we got home, so that adds three books to my towering stack of wonderful reading. I also got a "7 Year Pen" that purports to not run out of ink, guarenteed, for the next 7 years. Considering how much writing I do by hand, I plan on putting this white, bespeck-ed beauty to the test, ASAP.
Meanwhile, RIP Maeve Binchy, the lovely Irish author of "Circle of Friends" and dozens of other great books, who died on Sunday. She was 72.
Here's a ton of tidbits from Shelf Awareness that I've been saving:
"Without libraries, we'd be dumb,"
sang Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman (co-authors of Why We Broke Up) in
their ode to libraries, which they performed during the American Library
Association's convention last month.

A perfect introduction to this brief tour of libraries that range from
large to small, and are sometimes located in unlikely spaces:
Searching for "libraries that were born from unused and abandoned
structures, from the large (drill halls and supermarkets) to the small
(phone booths and shipping containers)," Flavorwire highlighted "10
wonderful libraries repurposed from unused structures"

In Bolton, Vt., the "prettily painted boxes on posts
look like oversized birdhouses--except they have glass doors that allow
passersby to see they are filled with books." The Burlington Free Press
noted that the project is an outgrowth of the Little Free Library movement that started in Wisconsin.

Bookyard, a vineyard-turned-outdoor-library
by Italian artist Massimo Bartolini in Ghent, Belgium, was also
showcased by Flavorwire.

I completely understand Robert Gray's lament here:
Robert Gray: Open Endings--The Art of the Unfinished Read
We're finished! I know we had fewer than a hundred pages remaining until
The End, but I can't go on like this. You were a fine book, with fully
developed major characters, engaging minor ones, a setting that
enveloped me in a deeply resonant sense of place and a plot that
unfolded dramatically. It's not you; it's me.

After a couple of decades in the book trade, I've become resigned to the
unfortunate reality that I often "bail out" of books--even those I'm
enjoying--for reasons rational and irrational. Maybe I lose a little
reader's momentum in the early chapters, or a potentially more
intriguing book comes along to tempt me; maybe the protagonist says
something that ticks me off or my to-be-read pile nags me into looking
for any excuse to head for the exit at intermission. Buffet reading was
part of the job description when I was a bookseller. It was a survival
tool. And yes, sometimes I even told a customer "I'm reading it" when I
had bailed long before.

An "unfinished" book is a different thing altogether because a much more
substantial commitment is required to reach the unfinishing point. If
bailing is a rational decision, unfinishing is subconscious and often

"There are lots of books I've never finished," Roddy Doyle has said. "But there's only
very few I've said I'm never going to finish, and a pile of books I'm
going to get around to finishing."

Interesting that they've applied a movie review format for book reviews here. I certainly wish some of the review services that I write for would apply this:

There are some awesome bookstores in America (and elsewhere)...take a look!
'10 Truly Unique Bookstores in America'
"Bookstores outside the mainstream give cities across America (and the
world!) a dose of local spice and build supportive communities of
like-minded individuals," observed the blog in
highlighting "10 Truly Unique Bookstores in America
The blog also noted that while "many of them do carry popular literature
from major publishers, their true calling lay with offering a haven for
hobbyists, professionals and fans from oft-ignored or overlooked
markets. And the United States is certainly better off because of it."

Another great idea:
From a delightful, thoughtful post on the Rumpus called "Bartending,
Booktending: Three Years at Red Hill Books,"
in which Michael Berger looks back on his three years working at the San
Francisco bookstore.

"Under most circumstances it would be considered rude to eavesdrop, a
rent in the fabric of urban etiquette in which strangers remain
strangers. But in a bookstore, the books themselves become
interlocutors. So does the bookseller, who becomes a hub of all possible
inter-stranger conversations because he or she is the one person who
people talk to first. The bookseller is a stranger you're encouraged to
talk to; then other people can overhear what you're talking about and
are invited to join in. In some sense, the bookseller can orchestrate an
unlimited amount of enriching encounters between strangers and between
strangers and herself. The purpose is to create camaraderie, which is
conducive to good business and good citizenship. And it makes the hours
more pleasant which is good for everyone.

"[One] time, quite miraculously, it turned out that three people in the
store who did not know each other at all had all lived at one time in
Newton, Massachusetts. This brought them together round my counter in a
swirl of laughter, awe and reminiscences. Street names and markets and
museums I had no clue about were savored. They all ended up buying
something too."

There has been a lot of buzz about this movie flying around the internet, and I plan on going to see it, if for no other reason than it looks fascinating, and yes, the extra-long trailer is worth the time you spend watching it:
Cloud Atlas: Extended Trailer a Big Draw for Book Sales
"And, boy, what a trailer," exclaimed Indiewire as it showcased a
six-minute trailer
for Cloud Atlas,
the adaptation of David Mitchell's novel by Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer
and Andy Wachowski. The film, which will make its world premiere at the
Toronto International Film Festival, stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim
Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant, Bae Doona, David
Gyasi, Susan Sarandon, Keith David, James D'Arcy and Hugo Weaving. The
movie will be released here October 26.

"As big fans of the book, we've wondered for some time if the filmmakers
would be able to come anywhere close to its material, but we have to
confess that this is pretty stunning, for the most part," Indiewire
noted. "The production values look incredibly high, the scope and
ambition and variety is like nothing else we've seen in a long time, and
the cast, aided by some excellent make-up, look to be rising to the

In addition to the trailer, 20 new images
from the movie, as well as a "motion poster," have been released,
"giving us a closer look at many of the cast members in their various
multiple roles," Indiewire wrote.

Being the HUGE fan of Glee that I am, I couldn't resist posting this--go Chris!
Fans of Chris Colfer packed the Joseph-Beth Booksellers store in
Cincinnati, Ohio, on Sunday, where the Glee actor signed copies of his
first novel, The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell (Little, Brown Books
for Young Readers).

The store sold more than 800 copies of the book,
according to the Community Press. "We would have sold even more if Chris
didn't have a plane to catch," Michael Link, Joseph-Beth's publisher
relations and events manager, said. Joseph-Beth celebrated Colfer's
presence in other ways: on Sunday, the store's Bronte cafe featured
Glee-inspired food, including slushies, a "Breadsticks Special,"
Mercedes's chili cheese tots and My Happy Happy Unicorn.