Friday, January 08, 2016

Reparations For Shopping Online at Elliott Bay Bookstore, Downton Abbey Launches Book Club, Anticpated Book to Movie Adaptations, Expansion for Powells and Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden

There's so much going on in the world of books, locally and nationally, that I only have room in this post for one book review. First up is a great idea for bibliophiles who can afford it to make reparations for shopping online to their favorite independent local bookstore. Unfortunately, the closest bookstore to Maple Valley is in Enumclaw, and if I were to make reparations to them, I'd need a lot more than 95 dollars!

Indie Customer Makes 'Penance, Reparations' Payment

In the mail shortly after the Christmas rush, Elliott Bay Book Co., Seattle, Wash., received a check for $94.89. The memo section of the check read: "Voluntary penance and reparations for buying books at A."

General manager Tracy Taylor commented: "While we've received anonymous
and voluntary penance from past shoplifters, we've never received
penance from Amazon shoppers. I contacted the customer to inquire
further, and he said he felt very guilty about buying books for family
on Amazon this year. The customer said he always tries to support us and
buy books here, but he had a moment of weakness this year so he looked
up the difference between the costs and decided to send us a check for
the difference."

Paying it forward, Elliott Bay is using the "penance and reparations"
money to buy and send books to Treehouse, a Seattle nonprofit that helps kids in foster care with basic needs and support.

This is a brilliant letter from a poet to bookshops about their importance to her life. I wish I could have said it as well.

 'A Love Letter to Bookshops'

Dublin bookseller and poet Kerrie O'Brien 
wrote "a love letter to bookshops
for the Irish Times recently, describing how 'bookshops have been
pivotal in my life.... People don't open independent or secondhand
bookstores to make money--they do it because they love books and they
love talking to people about them."

It's interesting that Masterpiece is launching a book club during the final season of the jewel in their crown that is Downton Abbey. Sherlock episodes are so rare and infrequent I don't think that those fans will be able to keep things going once Downton is off the air, but we shall see. There also haven't been, in my experience, many great books that can capture the wonder that is Downton Abbey during that era. 

Masterpiece Launches Book Club

PBS's Masterpiece, the network's highest-rated prime time program, is
melding screen and page with its Masterpiece Book Club
Thursday, December 31. The club offers tie-in material for Masterpiece's
hit series Sherlock and Downton Abbey, including reading lists, books
the cast and crew are reading, British book news and themed recipes.

"Great books and storytelling are at the very heart of Masterpiece, and
the book club will be a fantastic new way for our viewers to immerse
themselves in the worlds our programs create," said Masterpiece
executive producer Rebecca Eaton.

In one current feature
Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss, who also plays Mycroft Holmes, reveals
his favorite mystery authors and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories. Downton
Abbey fans can find
the show's literary inspirations, according to creator, writer and
executive producer Julian Fellowes. The site will be updated biweekly
with new material based on Masterpiece's current shows.

Unlike the new club, which is tailored to individual online use, an
earlier version of the Masterpiece Book Club, called Book & Film Club
material for libraries hosting in-person book and film clubs.

The more good books that there are, the more Hollywood clamors for them to be rendered into screenplays. Unfortunately, a majority of the time, the book is far superior to the movie adaptation, but again, only time will tell for the movies coming out this year.

For "The Year Ahead: 2016's Most Anticipated Movie Adaptations
Word & Film noted that there is "only one thing more satisfying than
spending the year ducking in and out of dark, cozy theaters as film
adaptations of our favorite bestsellers, genre novels, comic books,
classics, and literary fiction wash through us like, well, really good
reads. And that's gleefully rubbing our ink-smeared hands together as we
get a look at the year of adaptations ahead. Unsurprisingly, movies
based on books, articles, historical events, and other source material
make up a sizable (and, dare we say it, superior) percentage of the
cinematic offerings in 2016."

Island Books Roger and Nancy Page just sent an email out yesterday to subscribers talking of their "moving on" to new adventures retirement from the store, so, though Island Books used to be my favorite bookstore (especially when I was working on Mercer Island at the Mercer Island Reporter) now I'm afraid I wouldn't recognize anyone there now that it is under new ownership, and several of the booksellers who used to work there have also moved on to greener pastures. Still, this 42 year old Island institution should continue to grow readers for many years to come.

'Passing the Inadvertent Faith in Humanity Test'
"The Christmas season is over, but we can't let go of that cheery
holiday feeling without telling one last story of peace on earth and
good will toward humankind," Island Books, Mercer Island, Wash., observed on the Message in a Bottle blog. There it shared a tale that began in
November when "Cindy, our display maven, came up with a nifty way to
highlight our 2016 calendars (still a few of those left for
procrastinators, by the way). She strung a clothesline across the store
and pinned a bunch of the prettiest ones to it. In the small spaces
between the bigger items she hung some toys and other gifts, and in the
last narrow spot she pinned a single dollar bill. Kind of a visual pun
on 'money laundering' for the keenly observant, she thought." Read more

How exciting that my mecca for books, Powells in Portland, is expanding yet again! 

Expansion Plans for Powell's Books
 Powell's Books is signing a lease that will  expand its presence on Hawthorne Boulevard in Portland, Ore., connecting the two existing locations: Powell's Books on Hawthorne Boulevard and Powell's Books for Home and Garden. The additional space at 3735 SE Hawthorne, formerly occupied by Pastaworks, increases the bookseller's combined retail footprint to more than 23,000 square feet.

According to Powell's, the renovations would integrate the three
locations into one, improving customer experience and focusing on the
uniqueness of the Hawthorne locations. The combined space will also
offer a larger children's section and author events area. Both stores
will remain open during the expansion, with the work is scheduled for
completion by October 2016.

"We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to deepen our commitment
to the Hawthorne neighborhood and the east side of Portland," said
Powell's CEO Miriam Sontz. "The strong support from Portlanders and
Hawthorne-area residents has made this investment in the future

This is the second big makeover for Powell's in two years. In 2014,
Powell's did an extensive renovation
flagship Burnside store that included a new entrance, a new roof,
energy-efficient windows, fresh exterior paint, additional skylights and
new lighting.

Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden is another book produced by Bethany House publishers, which I gather only publishes Christian faith-centered books. If I would have known this before I bought this book with my birthday B&N gift card, I wouldn't have purchased it at all, I would have tried to get a copy from the library. Still, I read the book in record time, and though I had some problems with the religious content, the story itself was fascinating. Here's the blurb:
Anna O'Brien leads a predictable and quiet life as a map librarian at the illustrious Library of Congress until she stumbles across the baffling mystery of a ship disappeared at sea. Thwarted in her attempts to uncover information, her determination outweighs her shyness and she turns to a dashing congressman for help.
Luke Callahan was one of the nation's most powerful congressmen before his promising career was shadowed in scandal. Eager to share in a new cause and intrigued by the winsome librarian, he joins forces with Anna to solve the mystery of the lost ship. Opposites in every way, Anna and Luke are unexpectedly drawn to each other despite the strict rules forbidding Anna from any romantic entanglements with members of Congress.
From the gilded halls of the Capitol where powerful men shape the future of the nation, to the scholarly archives of the nation's finest library, Anna and Luke are soon embroiled in secrets much bigger and more perilous than they ever imagined. Is bringing the truth to light worth risking all they've ever dreamed for their futures?
Anna is, at the outset, an independent young woman who really doesn't need a man in her life, mainly because she has to support herself and her awful aunt, a woman who blames her for the death of Anna's uncle, who was imprisoned for forcing Anna to drink lye and burning her throat and vocal chords (she couldn't speak for years and had to have an operation to return her voice). Anna feels bad for this horrible woman who has rarely shown her any kindness, and who mooches off of her and never gives her anything in return. Anna's parents died, and her father was embroiled in a mysterious ship wreak that Anna can't let go of, since she knows there are irregularities and outright lies in the report of what happened to the ship. Yet at every turn, the Naval officers and congressmen thwart Anna's investigation, threatening not just her job, but the jobs of all the women who work for the Library of Congress (LOC). Enter Luke Callahan, who, as a member of congress, knows that if he is seen flirting or kissing or having any sort of romantic relationship with Anna, she will be fired and shamed, still insists on blustering his way into her life and her heart. Luke has had a terrible childhood living with an alcoholic mother and father in Maine, as well as a feckless older brother, an alcoholic sister and younger brother who insist that he support them monetarily and constantly bail him out of jail. Luke is even raising his sister's bastard child, gotten with a married man who fled when he discovered she was pregnant. Luke's family has a gem mine and so he's wealthy enough to get elected to political office, yet he has a temper, like his cruel father, and while he's promised himself to never touch alcohol or be a brute like his dad, that's a promise he can't really keep, with his "passionate" nature. Yet he and Anna can't seem to stay away from each other, and Anna goes from being independent to suddenly wanting a husband and family more than her hard-won career as a cartographic librarian at the LOC. She also constantly talks about forgiveness and how important it is for her to forgive her abusive uncle, and her aunt, and Luke when he's mean and everyone else, except the Spanish, who killed her father. When it comes to vengence, suddenly Anna isn't so forgiving, and she's thrilled when the US goes to war with Spain before the turn of the 20th century. That hypocrisy just didn't sit right with me, because it was out of character for the meek Anna, who of course is seen by her flame Luke as "feisty." There seemed to be a great deal of sophistry in this book, and while I understand the author had to include some religious stuff, I found the cliches and stereotypes cloying and insincere. The prose was clean and straightforward, and the plot, though meandering, got the job done. I would give this book a B-, and recommend it only to those who are interested in the history of the Spanish-American war or the early days of the Library of Congress.

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