Thursday, September 11, 2014

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom, The Next Big Thing by Johanna Edwards and The Kiss of Deception by Mary E Pearson, plus Ursula's Award and Scottish Bookstore Internship

All I can say is that it is about time! Ursula Le Guin deserves every literary honor out there, and then some, for her ground-breaking science fiction and her tough stance on women authors getting a fair shake in the publishing business.

National Book Foundation Honoring Ursula K. Le Guin
 The National Book Foundation is awarding its 2014 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters
which recognizes "individuals who have made an exceptional impact on
this country's literary heritage," to Ursula K. Le Guin. Neil Gaiman
will present the award to her November 19 at the National Book Awards
Ceremony in New York City.

NBF executive director Harold Augenbraum said Le Guin "has had an
extraordinary impact on several generations of readers and,
particularly, writers in the United States and around the world. She has
shown how great writing will obliterate the antiquated--and never really
valid--line between popular and literary art. Her influence will be felt
for decades to come."

Yet another, of the myriad of reasons, why it is important to shop at independent bookstores. You can't beat them for finding unusual books and for the social experience of hanging out with other bibliophiles.

"Independent bookstores never had to answer to the dictates of public
markets. Many of their proprietors understood, intuitively and from
conversations with customers, that a well-curated selection--an
inventory of old and new books--was their primary and maybe only
competitive advantage.... And while indies cannot compete with Amazon's
inventory, Amazon evidently cannot supplant indies as shopping and
social experiences.

"The independent stores will never be more than a niche business of
modest sales and very modest profitability. But the same is true for
many small businesses, which makes them no less vital.... The
independents, meanwhile, offer something neither Amazon nor the chains
can: attention to the quirky needs of their customer base. For the Upper
West Side and thousands of other neighborhoods, those stores have turned
out to be irreplaceable."

--Zachary Karabell in a Slate piece headlined "Why Indie Bookstores Are
on the Rise Again"

I consider my son a Millennial, though he is nearly 15, and I know for a fact that he loves reading actual physical copies of books, though he does read on his computer as well.

Pew: Millennials Read, Use Libraries More Than Old Folks
 Millennials--Americans aged 16 to 29--are more likely to have read a
book in the past year than people 30 and older (88% vs. 79%), and more
than a third (37%) read an e-book in the past year, according to a new
Pew Research Center study of "Young Americans and Public Libraries."

The study also found that Millennials are as likely as older adults to
have used a library in the past year (50% of them did so, compared to
47% of those older) and more likely to have used a library website (36%
of Millennials vs. 28% of older people).

Although 98% of Millennials use the Internet, some 62% of them say there
is "a lot of useful, important information that is not available on the
internet," compared to 53% of older Americans.

The full report is available here

Three words: WANT TO GO!
The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association's 2014 Tradeshow takes place Fri.-Sun., Sept. 26-28, at the Hotel Murano in Tacoma, Wash. Registration opens 7:45 a.m. on
Friday, followed by a morning of educational sessions, panels and
workshops for booksellers, librarians, small press publishers and
authors (booksellers, for example, can learn about the Art and Science
of Gift Buying or Fostering Creativity for Better Store Ambience). The
Celebration of Authors lunch, from noon to 1, gives 10 newer Northwest
authors five minutes each to discuss their latest titles. Panels pick up
again at 2:30 (highlights for booksellers: Maximizing the Benefit of
Indies First Small Business Saturday and Nuts and Bolts of Bookstore
Finance) and run until PNBA's Annual Membership Meeting from 5:30 to
6:30. King's Books in downtown Tacoma hosts dinner at the King's Table,
a free buffet with 10 Northwest authors whose books are about food,
plants or drinks. Nineteen more authors will attend the Nightcapper from
8:30 to 10, near the hotel bar.

Saturday kicks off with the Book and Author breakfast from 8 to 9:30
a.m., featuring Marie Lu (whose latest books is Young Elites), Nikki
McClure (May the Stars Drip Down), Azar Nafisi (The Republic of
Imagination) and Garth Stein (A Sudden Light). The exhibit hall opens at
9:30 with a buffet lunch and meetings of the book award committee and
education committee at noon. Exhibits close and a party hosted by
Seattle7Writers begins at 4:30 p.m. Twenty authors will circulate among
dining booksellers and librarians at the 6 p.m. Feast of Authors; 20
more authors will attend PNBA's first ever Sweet and Greet, a dessert
party, from 8:30 to 10 p.m.

Sunday's 8 a.m. author breakfast features Bonny Becker (A Library Book
for Bear), T.C. Boyle (The Harder They Come), Molly Gloss (Falling from
Horses) and Mac Barnett and Jory John (The Terrible Two). Exhibits open
from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Hold On, I'm Coming Lunch at 11:30 has
David Joy (Where All Light Tends to Go), Michael Buckley (Undertow),
Sara Blaedel (The Forgotten Girls), Tim Johnston (Descent) and Gayle
Forman (I Was Here) and raffle prize announcements at 1 p.m. The show
ends at 2:30.

Another place I've always wanted to visit is Scotland, and this would be the most wonderful internship I could imagine, working in a bookstore and living in Scotland. I couldn't leave my family, though, and I don't know how I would manage my Crohns Disease without my gastro doc here, but a girl can dream, right?!

Wigtown, Scotland's national book town, "is offering members of the
public the chance to experience the lifestyle of a bookseller in a
series of residencies that will begin at this year's Wigtown Book
next 12 months," the Bookseller reported. The Open Book project
"will invite interested parties to apply to live in and run a local
renamed the Open Book, for a period of up to six weeks.... Participants
will be given a crash course in bookselling and will be asked to
contribute to a blog outlining their experiences, as well as keeping the
shop open for a set number of hours a week."

Adrian Turpin, director of the Wigtown Festival Company, said, "For many
booklovers, the idea of running a bookshop is a dream. But it can be a
tough lifestyle and one that demands dedication and inventiveness, as
the many bookshops in Scotland's Book Town show.... The Internet has had
a huge effect on booksellers. The Open Book project is intended as an
original way to examine some of the issues facing bookshops in the age
of Amazon. It will also bring exciting new creative energy to the town."

Part of the inspiration for the project came from American author
Three Things You Need to Know About Rockets chronicled her life-altering
decision to leave a job at NASA and move to Scotland to live in a used
bookshop. Six years later, she is still there.

The story Minority Report is truly fascinating and there are some differences to it, but I still 
enjoyed the movie version with Colin Farrell and Tom Cruise, and I think it would make an excellent tv series. 
Minority Report
the drama project from Steven Spielberg's Amblin Television and writer
Max Borenstein (Godzilla), "has landed at Fox with a big put pilot
commitment," reported. The series, based on Philip K.
Dick's short story and the 2002 movie directed by Spielberg, "is
envisioned as a sequel to the movie." 

The three books I just finished were, with one exception, a waste of time. Lucky Us by Amy Bloom, The Next Big Thing by Johanna Edwards and The Kiss of Deception by Mary E Pearson were all disappointing at some level.

Lucky Us is the story of Eva and Iris, half sisters whose terrible father (liar, adulterer, thief and creep) reluctantly accepted his daughter Eva into his life when his mistress dropped her off as a child (the adults in this novel apparently have no morals or values or decency in them at all). From there, her lesbian fame-seeking sister Iris realizes that the two of them are on their own, as their father can't seem to manage money or work to care for his children, drinking their money away when he manages to steal from his children.  The two move away to Hollywood, and Iris is blacklisted when some creep takes photos of her having sex with another actress on a beach. The girls end up joining forces with a gay Hispanic makeup artist and driving to Long Island, where they end up, with their wastrel father, working for a wealthy family as a governess and a butler and maid. Unfortunately, Iris falls in love with the cook, who is married to a man of German heritage, and to get him out of the way, Iris rats him out to the government (this is during WWII) as a German spy, and the poor man is locked away in a camp and then deported to war-torn Germany. He writes a series of letters to Eva, whom he's played cards with and been kind to as a friend and father figure, telling her of all the terrible things that happen to him, though he's lied his way into a family who eventually are killed in the Dresden bombings. Of course, these letters never make their way to America (Why would we deliver mail from our enemies during war?), so when Gus actually makes his way back to America after the war is long over, he is  somehow amazed that his long-winded missives never made it to Eva, and even if they did, it makes no sense to think these letters full of his whining and horrible actions would somehow woo Eva into falling in love with him. He's twice her age, and when he tries to make love to her, he can't even recall how to do so, which is hard to believe, as it is obvious that the man had sex more than a few times before in his life. It's also hard to believe that Eva would want this grotesque old guy fumbling around with her, like she has no other choice and there are no young men she can find anywhere in New York. Meanwhile, while Gus is in Germany, Iris swoops in an starts a heated affair with Reenie, his wife, and when Reenie whines and mopes about wanting a child, Iris, ever the evil opportunist, sends Eva to a local orphanage to steal a little boy. Reenie is thrilled by having this ragged and sad kid to fuss over, but when she is litterally lit  on fire by Iris and killed (and Iris's hands are burned badly enough that she flees to a hospital in England, where she also writes whining missives to Eva) the little boy is left with Eva, who maintains that she's not really a good parent, to care for him and for her terminally-ill father. Eva manages to care for everyone by creating a job as a psychic who does tarot readings and tells people what they want to hear. She eventually forgives her narscissitic sister (why is never made clear, as all her sister has ever done is use Eva) and Gus, whom she marries, and somehow loves (which disgusts me as a reader because he was her father figure when she was a child!), and after her father dies they all live together as one happy family. I just didn't buy it, as they were all horrible people, with the exception of the gay makeup guy and Eva, who just seemed none too bright for doing everything people told her to do. Still, the prose was decent and the plot not too slow. I'd give it a C+, and I would recommend it to those who have a dark sense of humor.
The Next Big Thing is about a young woman named Kat Larson who works for a PR firm and weighs 230 pounds. She's tried every diet, as most of us have, and she's got an online relationship with a guy in England who thinks she's a skinny supermodel. Kat hears about a reality show called Fat2Fabulous and jumps at the chance to become thin so that she can actually meet her online love and start writing romance novels and start living her life. Because, yanno, you can't actually live your life if you're fat. Sigh. Prejudice and ignorance and horrible stereotypes and cliches are rampant throughout this novel, as Kat just comes off as stupid and her friends (and eventually boyfriend) come off as actually shallow, mean, stupid and greedy. I had a hard time finishing this book, because 100 pages in I wanted to scream at the protagonist and her "friends" for falling prey to all the falacies of weight and all the stereotypes. I also thought they all behaved like asshats, and unfortunately, none of them actually got better as the story progressed. Kat forgives her loathesome best friend, who ratted her out to her internet boyfriend, who then showed up on the set of the show and basically acted like a complete ass and humiliated Kat while taking none of the blame himself for their relationship failures. But once Kat loses weight, (a mere 40 pounds) of course the host of the show falls in love with her, and she manages to get a job working on air with MTV. Once again they reiterate that you can't have a life, a career, a boyfriend or anything until you are thin, which is complete and utter BS. I had relationships while I was large, while I was "thin" and I was married when I became a larger person and I'm still married to the same man 17 years later (though I've known him for 25 years) and I am bigger than I've ever been. I've had a career and a child and a life, and I certainly didn't need to wait to be thin for my life to begin. It is possible to be larger and still be healthy, (I am not hypertensive, I don't have diabetes and other than Crohn's Disease, which is not connected with being large, other than making you larger via the medications, I am okay) and not all large people eat junk food all day to become larger people. I was so disappointed by the ignorance of the people in this book, perpetuating the stereotypes and promoting the diet industry. I would give this novel a D, and that's being generous, and I would not recommend it to anyone, ever. 
Kiss of Deception is a new YA fantasy series, set in a dystopian future America, of course, where the remnants of a great apocalypse have created several "kingdoms" and people live much as they did in the middle ages. Here's the blurb: 
In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.
On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

Lia, Rafe and Kaden spend most of the book getting to know one another, while we are meant to not know whether Rafe or Kaden are the prince that Lia was meant to be wed to or the assasin meant to kill her. Readers will figure out rather quickly that Rafe is the prince and Kaden the assasin.  Though Lia is supposedly no dummy, she comes across as a bit of an idiot, naive at the very least, and somehow willfully ignorant of the huge impact that her running away from her marriage would have on her kingdom and his. It isn't until her pregnant sister in law is killed by Kaden's people that she realizes how selfish and stupid that she's been, and by then it is too late. Granted, I could understand some of Lia's willful rebellion, because she's 17 years old, and has lead a sheltered life as the princess of her realm. Somehow, though, I expected her to have a bit more on the ball, and to be able to recognize Rafe as the prince and figure out that Kaden was up to no good. She starts coming into her powers late in the book, as she's being dragged to Kaden's country, which is apparently a savage and brutal place, and Rafe arrives to become a prisoner with her, now that the two have fallen in love. So there's plenty of fodder for the next two books, which I assume will be coming out next year and the year after. I enjoyed the clean prose and swift plot of this novel, and I actually read it all in one sitting, it was that engrossing (and a welcome respite after the other two books I'd just read). I would give this novel a B, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical romance and YA adventure stories.

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