Friday, March 28, 2014

Oddest Book Title, Dinner Theater, Kate Mosse and Susan Kearney's Rystani Warriors

As a Crohn's sufferer, I can honestly say that I am thrilled that some books on bathroom goings-on have made it to the Oddest Book Title awards.

The Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year
went to Mats & Enzo's How to Poo on a Date: The Lovers' Guide to Toilet
Etiquette, which garnered 30% of the public vote, edging Are Trout South
African? by Duncan Brown and The Origin of Feces by David Waltner-Toews
(23% each).

Tom Tivnan, features and insight editor at the Bookseller and Diagram
Prize administrator, said that "after Mats and Enzo's win this year,
with The Origin of Feces on the shortlist, and Saiyuud Diwong's Cooking
with Poo taking the crown in 2011, an all too-clear trend emerges.
Diagram devotees have spoken, and spoken in no uncertain terms: poo wins

What a great idea, to have a book launch and party with food prepared from the book and have a play going throughout it. Dinner theater is back! 

Theater with Dinner: I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti
Spaghetti, Giulia Melucci's 2009 memoir/cookbook of romance and food,
has been adapted into a play by Jacques Lamarre that's running through
April 6 at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, N.J. In the
one-woman play, Antoinette LaVecchia stars as Melucci, who used to work
in the publicity departments of Viking, Dutton and Scribner and is now
v-p of public relations at Harper's magazine. In the production,
LaVecchia recounts stories of life and love--all while preparing a
three-course Italian meal, which is served to a few audience members
seated on stage.

Tickets, beginning at $20, are available through the George Street
Playhouse Box Office at 732-246-7717 or online at A limited number of on stage seats are available on a first-come-first-served basis from $74-$102 (price varies
based on performance); on-stage seating includes the three-course meal
(antipasto, pasta and dessert) and wine.

Yay, for libraries, which were, and still are, my favorite havens:

'American Public Libraries Great and Small'  
The New Yorker has a slide show of "American public libraries great and
featuring photos from The Public Library: A Photographic Essay by Robert
Dawson, to be published next month by Princeton Architectural Press.

Amy Poehler is hilarious, and good for her for hosting World Book Night!

Amy Poehler, actress, comedian, Saturday Night Live veteran and star of
Parks and Recreation, has agreed to be the honorary chairperson for this
year's World Book Night U.S. <>, which
will be held April 23.

"I grew up loving books," Poehler said. "In today's digital world, it's
more important than ever to know how it feels to have a good book in
your hands. I'm thrilled to be part of World Book Night. People who read
are people who dream, and we connect through the stories we live and
tell and read."

World Book Night U.S. executive director Carl Lennertz said: "This news
is the icing, cherry and candles on the year three WBN cake. We've
already announced a seven-author New York Public Library launch event,
our highest percentage of free books going to teachers and students in
underfunded schools, and a record number of participating librarians and
booksellers, and Amy Poehler joining our cause is a happy, happy event.
On behalf of our 25,000 volunteer givers and 500,000 book recipients
this coming April 23, we say thank you."

I've read Labyrinth by this author, and I have Sepulchre on my TBR, but I found that I agreed with many of her choices and responses in her Book Brahmin essay.

Book Brahmin: Kate Mosse

Kate Mosse is the author of the thrillers
Labyrinth and Sepulchre--which have sold millions of copies in more than
40 countries--a playwright and nonfiction writer. She is co-founder of
the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction international literary award,
and serves on the board of the National Theatre in London and the
advisory board of Women of the World. Mosse won the Spirit of Everywoman
Award in 2012 and was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours
List 2013. Mosse divides her time between Carcassonne, France, and
Sussex, England, where she lives with her husband, grown-up children
(sometimes!), her mother, mother-in-law and a small white West Highland
terrier. Her new novel is Citadel (Morrow, March 18, 2014).

On your nightstand now:

Mason Currey's Daily Rituals, a snapshot of the weird, wonderful and
downright peculiar routines writers, artists, musicians and
choreographers have to get into their creative zone. Some I
share--getting up at 4 a.m., for example, with strong, strong black
coffee--others are a little too kooky!

Favorite book when you were a child:

Little Women, what else! The four March sisters and with a writer--the
independent, strong-minded Jo, at the heart of the novel. Amazing that
it is both of its time and yet incredibly current, topical, nearly 150
years later.

Your top five authors:

Tricky for any writer to answer (and not lose friends!), so I'll go for
my favourite "legacy" (i.e., no longer alive!) authors instead: the
inestimable Willa Cather, the elegiac T.S. Eliot, the brilliant French
short story writer Guy de Maupassant, the adventurous H. Rider Haggard
(of She and King Solomon's Mines fame) and, predictable for an English
writer of a certain age, the peerless Agatha Christie.

Book you've faked reading:

None--honest! Why do that? It's daft. Then again, the list of novels
I've started but failed to finish, well... if I confess to those, all
credibility flies out the window!

Book you're an evangelist for:

Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. Her only novel--published in 1847, the
year before her death--it's an astonishing tour-de-force that changes
every time one reads it. It's about revenge and obsession, strong female
characters, race and class, all set against the brutal and unforgiving
landscape of the Yorkshire Moors. Even now, the last paragraph still
brings tears to my eyes! Beautiful.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Again, none--though I admire great jacket artwork. I used to be a
publisher, you see, so learnt the shabby old cliché of never
judging a book by its cover was good advice.

Favorite line from a book:

"What will survive of us is love." --from Philip Larkin's poem "An
Arundel Tomb"

When researching for Citadel--the story of an all-women's resistance
unit during WWII in France--I saw it was love--of families, of friends,
of country--that gave women and men the strength to keep fighting.

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

So many--it's that thrill of discovery, so hard to recapture--but top of
the list would be Adrienne Rich's poem "Diving into the Wreck," Milton's
Paradise Lost, the ghost stories of M.R. James, Erich Maria Remarque's
All Quiet on the Western Front, Marilyn French's The Women's Room,
George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss....

Why we like "best of" book lists:

For the sense of connection it gives with us with other writers, other
readers. For the evidence that words, when all is said and done, survive
and endure and speak beyond generations, beyond background. But it's
good to remember our lists will change--it's about the chemistry of
time, place, context and the person we are when we are reading. Tomorrow
things might be different.

Author Susan Kearney has written a series of paranormal romances (actually, they should be called science fiction/romances or space opera) that is truly a delight for fans of romance and fans of futuristic fantasy, called the Rystani Warrior series.
Starting with "The Challenge," which is a fish out of water story that takes place when a secret service agent is propelled 330 years into the future, Kearney plays into most women's fantasy of a hot, sexy male animal who dominates females and is yet able to be sensitive, loving and protective of them at the same time. While I am not a fan of the dominating guy who is huge and muscular and makes the female protagonist seem weak and in need of rescue, Kearney manages to make her women characters seem tough and yet "normal" enough that they make it clear that they do not need a man to rescue them. "The Dare" is the second book, followed by "The Ultimatum" and "The Quest."
Each of her female protagonists, from the only human Tessa to Dora, the computer who longs to be human (and becomes so, only to discover that it's not that easy to develop a relationship and a life when you're used to being everywhere and now have to settle for one point of view), to Alara the woman who is part of a race that has created females who must mate every few days, or their bodies start to disintegrate as their cells die, to starship pilot Angel Taylor in the final book of the series,  each woman is in some way damaged, broken or distrusting of men, which makes for a challenge for each Rystani who is paired with them to overcome on the road to true love and partnership.
Though I've been a fan of paranormal romance and science fiction/fantasy romance for a long time, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed these books, because they are far heavier on the romance side of the equation than the science fiction/fantasy side. And like most romance novels today, there are the requisite sex scenes, with Kearney detailing much of the sex in great detail, so these are books that should carry an R rating, and a warning that only those 18 and over should be allowed to read them. These days, with all the sexuality on the internet and on TV, my guess is that young women ages 15 and over would probably find the couplings tame, and not at all shocking. Still, I'd give the series a B, and recommend it to those who enjoy steamy romance with their science fiction.

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