Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Trade Secret by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, The Downton Tea Truck and More

 This is an awesome response to Amazon's proposed "delivery by drone" system! I try to shop indie bookstores whenever I can, though Inklings is on the other side of the state.

Inklings Bookshop <http://www.shelf-awareness.com/ct/uz3642037Biz19336965>, Yakima, Wash., had this reaction to Jeff Bezos's prediction that Amazon will eventually deliver
packages via drone: staffers hung a genuine drone over the store's
registers to act, as Susan Richmond put it, "as a conversation starter
for our smart, independent employees who are far from drones. We have 12
employees on our payroll who live in the community, support the economy
and pay taxes and are excellent at helping customers face to face."
She added that the store is also using the drone "to highlight the fact
that 95% of the books we order every day are in the store the next day
around noon and the whole experience for our customer is bracketed by
delightful exchanges with real human beings every step of the way."

 As many of you know, I lived in Florida for 4.5 years, and I often shopped at the local bookstores, Haslams and Wilsons, which are right in St Petersburg. I even moved to St Pete at one point, and was within walking distance of Wilsons Book World. Anyway, congrats to Haslams, which has survived the ups and downs of the economy to become the oldest bookstore in Tampa Bay, I am sure.

              **    **
Happy 80th Birthday, Haslam's Book Store!
Congratulations to Haslam's Book Store http://www.shelf-awareness.com/ct/uz3642037Biz19336969, St.
Petersburg, Fla., which celebrated its 80th birthday
yesterday, with several speakers discussing their experiences with the
store and the Haslam family as well as the store's contribution to the
community--accompanied by complimentary cake.

Noting that the 30,000-square-foot new and used bookstore has undergone
only one expansion since moving 50 years ago, co-owner Ray Hinst told
Creative Loafing Tampa, "We just keep doing what we're doing. People
like continuity… We've always wanted to provide a place where
someone who likes books can come and find something for them--regardless
of taste, age and your economic status. There is truly something for
everybody, and that's something we'd like to continue for another 80

Asked about the place of printed books in the modern world, he added,
"This is the media we have used to communicate our history, our morals,
our ethics, our philosophy, our lessons, our science and our technology
for five centuries. That's a big deal. There's something about the way
the media works. You can carry it with you. You can read it in low
light, and it doesn't run out of batteries."

Haslam's was founded by John and Mary Haslam, who were succeeded by
their son, Charles, and his wife, Elizabeth. (Charles, aka the Bookman,
was an ABA president, and he and Elizabeth were regular teachers at ABA
Bookseller Schools.) The store is now owned by Hinst and his wife,
Suzanne--Charles and Elizabeth's daughter--and the fourth generation of
the family are involved, too.

I am so peeved that this Downton Abbey Tea Truck didn't stop by anywhere in Seattle, Washington, so I could have my photo taken with the tea and biscuits maids dressed in Downton finery! But I think this was a great idea, and I bet that lots of people took advantage of the photo op with Highclere Castle as a backdrop. I can hardly wait for the premier on January 5, 2014, of Season 4!
PBS is launching a tea food truck
"bringing a wee taste of the U.K." to New York City's streets to promote
Season 4 of the series, which premieres January 5 in the U.S. Gothamist
reported that the truck "offers gratis tea and biscuits, doled out by
servers dressed in period garb; sadly, we don't think that means Mr.
Carson. They're also offering photos ops with a picture of Highclere
Castle, which serves as the setting for the show's noble family drama.
It won't make you a member of the Crawley clan, but it could make for a
fun holiday card!"

In the "mild spoiler alert" category, Deadline.com featured a teaser
with "a glimpse of Shirley MacLaine in her return as Cora's mother
Martha Levinson, and of Paul Giamatti as Cora's brother Harold. While
not terribly spoilerish, those who've seen nothing of the fourth season
may want to think twice before clicking play."

Trade Secret by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller is the sequel to Balance of Trade, a Liaden Universe science fiction novel. I've read all of the duo's Liaden books, and I've really enjoyed their complex world building and solid characters. 
The only problem that I have ever had with the books is the technical jargon and engineering/math/spaceship discussions that go untranslated for those of us who aren't technically inclined. I tend to skim over those pages, because I really do not understand what they are talking about, and all that technical detail only slows down the plot and halts the story in its tracks, at least for me. Fortunately, those pages never adversely impact the wonderful story for long, and the characters still shine forth like the beacons of brilliance that they are. Trade Secret is the story of what happens to Jethri, a young Terran spacer lad who is kicked out of his clan's spaceship and ends up being taken in by a Liaden clan (Ixin) who teach him to become a space trader and pilot. Be warned that if you haven't read Balance of Trade, I don't think that Trade Secret will make much sense to you. Still, it is best to read all Liaden books in order, so you get the maximum enjoyment possible of their fascinating Liaden characters with their ultra-polite society of bows, hand gestures and melant'i. Lee and Miller have the unique capacity to make every detail of the lives of Liadens seem so real, so normal and natural that by the time you're finished with their books, you believe that it is possible to have tea with Nova or Shan, or ship out to parts unknown with Jethri or Daav. I highly recommend all the Liaden Universe novels and omnibus editions to anyone who enjoys epic storytelling, brilliant science fiction and heartwarming space opera. A solid A all around.

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