Monday, February 22, 2016

New Bookstore in Seattle, Emily Dickinson Movie, Martain Potatoes, Dietland TV Show, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, Love in Lowercase by F Miralles, Big Girl by Kelsey Miller and the Edge of Dreams by Rhys Bowen

Hurrah! A new bookstore opening in Seattle!

Third Place Books: 'Meet Your New Bookstore

Third Place Books managing partner Robert Sindelar shows off the new
In a piece headlined "Seward Park, meet your new bookstore
the Seattle Times previewed Third Place Books
April and "will feature an espresso bar, a full restaurant called
Raconteur (breakfast, lunch and dinner), a full bar downstairs, an
event/reading space capable of accommodating up to 100 people and
books." Robert Sindelar, managing partner at Third Place Books, which
has stores in Lake Forest Park and Ravenna, estimates the new store will
stock 15,000 to 20,000 titles and 50,000 volumes. There will be a
separate children's department.

Sindelar, who is v-p of the American Booksellers Association, said the
bookseller's formula relies on a key ingredient: make the store feel
welcoming. "Being multigenerational is important to our success," he
said. "Everyone in the household should like to be there. This is an
incredible opportunity. Here's a chance to grow a reading public."

The Seattle Times noted that the new location's "most distinctive
architectural feature is its arched roof, uncovered when the renovators
knocked down the dropped ceiling and found both the ceiling and the
original wood trusses. Now the interior ceiling is clad in beautiful
overlapping wood, like a warm wood floor. Skylights let the light in."

I've always been a fan of Emily Dickinson's poetry, so I am looking forward to seeing this movie when it comes out.

Movies: A Quiet Passion
A clip has been released for A Quiet Passion
the film directed by Terence Davies (The House of Mirth, The Deep Blue
Sea) that "tells the story of Emily Dickinson from her early days as a
young schoolgirl to her later years as a reclusive, unrecognized artist
whose huge body of emotional and powerful literary work was discovered
after her death." Cynthia Nixon and Jennifer Ehle star.

I LOVED the book and the movie of The Martian, and I think it is hilarious that a potato company wants to use the movie images to sell their potatoes, since Matt Damon's character must grow potatoes on Mars to continue to live there.

Merchandising Highlight: Martian Potatoes

A photo of The Martian
DVD being sold next to potatoes in a store's produce department went
viral over the weekend, and if you've read Andy Weir
novel or "seen the movie, it seems like perfect cross-promotion, done
perhaps by some clever person at a random grocery store. But it's no
accident," io9 reported.

The Albert Bartlett potato company
Twentieth Century Fox to use the movie and Matt Damon's face to sell its
Rooster potatoes. The promotion even includes the chance to win a free
trip to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The DVD/Blu-Ray insert
comes with an Albert Bartlett advertisement as well.

This was another great book, and I'm looking forward to seeing the TV show.

TV: Dietland

Producer Marti Noxon (Lifetime's UnREAL and Bravo's Girlfriends' Guide
to Divorce) has signed a multiyear overall deal with Skydance
Productions to create and develop new projects for the studio. According
to the Hollywood Reporter, the "first under the pact is drama Dietland
based on the novel of the same name by Sarai Walker. Described as part
coming-of-age story and part revenge fantasy, the potential series is
set against the backdrop of the beauty industry and explores society's
obsession with weight loss in a bold and funny fashion."  

I just read the best science fiction novel I've picked up in years. It's called The Long Way to A Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers and it is brilliant. 
I accidently bought the book in e-format, so I had to read it on my Nook device, which is something I try to avoid, as it tires my eyes. I thought that it was just a good cheap paperback until I got an email saying that the book was ready to read on my Nook. I had to charge the thing up for a couple of hours before it would even start up, because I've not used my e-reader for at least 2 years. Still, I figured that this book, bought because I'd not read a straightforward science fiction novel for awhile (I've read a lot of hybrids, but not many that are squarely within one genre) sounded interesting. Turns out "Small Angry Planet" is a thrilling page-turner that rests somewhere between a Star Trek, Babylon 5 and Firefly episode in tone and in plot and characterization. Here's the blurb:
A rollicking space adventure with a lot of heart
When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The patched-up ship has seen better days, but it offers her everything she could possibly want: a spot to call home, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and some distance from her past.
And nothing could be further from what she's known than the crew of the Wayfarer.
From Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the chatty engineers who keep the ship running, to the noble captain Ashby, life aboard is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. That is until the crew is offered the job of a lifetime tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet. Sure, they'll earn enough money to live comfortably for years, but risking her life wasn't part of the job description.
The journey through the galaxy is full of excitement, adventure, and mishaps for the Wayfarer team. And along the way, Rosemary comes to realize that a crew is a family, and that family isn't necessarily the worst thing in the universe…as long as you actually like them.
 Most people call this kind of science fiction "space opera" because it has the melodramatic tone that was the hallmark of Star Trek in all it's wonderful incarnations. But I feel that this sells the novel a bit short. There's so much more to the vivacious crew of the Wayfarer! There's the wonderful Dr Chef, who serves as a nurturing alien who not only cures his crew's ailments, he feeds them fresh food and tea and herbal drinks to keep them going physically and spiritually. Dr Chef comes from a planet where his kind have nearly wiped their species out through war, leaving only about 300 of them alive to roam space. Ohan is a joined species (like the Trills of Deep Space Nine) who can only navigate through wormholes and soforth by allowing themselves to be infected with a parasitical species that eventually kills them. Jenks, who is a rare non-genetically-modified dwarf/little person is in love with the ship's artificial intelligence, Lovelace, whom everyone calls "Lovey." Kizzy is the wonderfully wild and optimistic engineer, ala Jewel Staite's character on Firefly. Sissix comes from a reptilian race for whom physical affection is as natural and constant as breathing. Into this mix comes human Rosemary, who is fleeing her wealthy traitorous father, an arms dealer of the lowest sort, hoping that her changed identity will change her life. She ends up negotiating their way out of a heist, and helping the crew in matters both great and small, even starting an affair with Sissix,so that the reptile can get the required amount of touch that she needs. The prose is sterling, clean and bouncy, while the plot moves at light speed, and before you know it, you're left praying for a sequel. I LOVED this book so much, I read it through in one sitting. I would give it an A+, and recommend it to anyone who enjoys social science fiction or space adventures. 
 Big Girl by Kelsey Miller was supposedly about a young woman who decides to stop dieting and "get a life," memoir, so I assumed there would be a great deal of discussion of body image, learning to love yourself at any size and the feminist/political ramifications of being fat and female in a society that tries to force women to be thin at any cost and beautiful by any means. I assumed wrong, because the book is actually one long whining screed about a sad young woman who loathes herself so much that she is willing to believe anything and do anything to make herself thin or lose weight. She has never cared for her body in a realistic way, and becomes bulimic and nearly anorexic by dieting with cruel obsessiveness. After gaining and losing and gaining and losing weight, Kelsey comes upon an "intuitive eating" book and program, wherein she talks to a psychiatrist daily about how she feels while eating and her twisted ideas about food and eating. Kelsey is also something of an obsessive compulsive person, and while she embarks on this new way of eating, she feels compelled to share everything about it on a magazine website in a column, opening herself up to trolls and other bullies who taunt and verbally abuse her about every move that she makes and every mouthful she eats. For some reason, Kelsey only "hears" the negative comments and responds to them while obsessing about the cruel things they say, as if because they're being mean, they must be right, though they do not know her at all. Here's the blurb:
A hilarious and inspiring memoir about one young woman's journey to find a better path to both physical and mental health.
At twenty-nine, Kelsey Miller had done it all: crash diets, healthy diets, and nutritionist-prescribed "eating plans," which are diets that you pay more money for. She'd been fighting her un-thin body since early childhood, and after a lifetime of failure, finally hit bottom. No diet could transform her body or her life. There was no shortcut to skinny salvation. She'd dug herself into this hole, and now it was time to climb out of it.
With the help of an Intuitive Eating coach and fitness professionals, she learned how to eat based on her body's instincts and exercise sustainably, without obsessing over calories burned and thighs gapped. But, with each thrilling step toward a healthy future, she had to contend with the painful truths of her past.
BIG GIRL chronicles Kelsey's journey into self-loathing and disordered eating-and out of it. This is a memoir for anyone who's dealt with a distorted body image, food issues, or a dysfunctional family. It's for the late-bloomers and the not-yet-bloomed. It's for everyone who's tried and failed and felt like a big, fat loser. So, basically, everyone.

Having been a fat gal for most of my life (and yes, I've been a "regular sized" person, too, when I was right around the same age as Kelsey, nearly 30 years ago) I totally understand her struggles with weight and her fear of eating and even her unease with her past molestation, though it never got so far as rape or other sex act (as it did with me, but that's another story).  What I had a harder time understanding was her vicious self hatred. Though there have been times when I've disliked by body and been frustrated by my physical limitations, I've never hated myself as deeply as Kelsey does. But I am also not as OCD as Kelsey, who seems to be so fanatical about little piddly details and perfectionist about ridiculous things that its a wonder she wasn't institutionalized during her youth. Her mania, which borders on Aspergers, freaked me out enough to make me want to put the book down several times, and her immaturity, jealousy and constant self-flagellation became nauseating after the third chapter. So if you are looking for a book that will inspire you to love and care for yourself as a larger person, this isn't that book. Thin is a Four Letter Word is a much better book on body acceptance, as is the recent release "Dietland" by Sarai Walker. The prose is mediocre and the book itself drags about halfway through, as Kelsey's struggles become redundant. I don't know that Kelsey ever learned to love and accept herself, though she at least became less obsessed with food through the intuitive eating program. I'd give this book a B-,and recommend it to people who already have a sense of self worth, because if you don't, this book will only depress you further.
Love in Lower Case by Francesc Miralles was a fun surprise of a novel, a short and sublime tale of a lonely man and his quest for the love of his life, whom he's not seen since childhood. Here's the blurb:
A romantic comedy for language lovers and fans of The Rosie Project, about a brainy bachelor and the cat that opens his eyes to life’s little pleasures
When Samuel, a lonely linguistics lecturer, wakes up on New Year’s Day, he is convinced that the year ahead will bring nothing more than passive verbs and un-italicized moments—until an unexpected visitor slips into his Barcelona apartment and refuses to leave. The appearance of Mishima, a stray, brindle-furred cat, becomes the catalyst that leads Samuel from the comforts of his favorite books, foreign films, and classical music to places he’s never been (next door) and to people he might never have met (a neighbor with whom he’s never exchanged a word). Even better, the Catalan cat leads him back to the mysterious Gabriela, whom he thought he’d lost long before, and shows him, in this international bestseller for fans of The Rosie Project, The Solitude of Prime Numbers, and The Guest Cat, that sometimes love is hiding in the smallest characters.

The characters who bound into Samuel's life are the real stars of the novel, from the bizarre and fascinating Valdemar to the odd writer/neighbor Titus, who only compiles books from other sources, to his disappearing guest cat Mishima. Samuel is such a recluse and not terribly good with people, as I'd guess he's either intensely shy or somewhere on the autism spectrum. How he can be so madly in love with someone he only met briefly as a child, and now sees crossing a street as an adult is a mystery that the book refuses to solve. Yet the charm of the novel is in the journey that he takes to come out of his shell. The prose is very good for a translation and the plot moves along gracefully. There are lots of interesting tidbits in this book, which I will not spoil for readers, and I will give it an A, while recommending it to writers and romantics everywhere. 
The Edge of Dreams by Rhys Bowen is the 14th MoIly Murphy mystery, and while I've read all but three of her novels, I don't usually buy the latest hardback copy of Bowen's works because they seem to be out in paperback rather quickly. The same things that always bother me about MM mysteries bothered me in this one, and the same things that always charm me kept me reading well into the night. The MM mysteries take place at the turn of the 20th century, and because she's a product of her time (1905), it's hard to expect Molly to be as independent and strong as I'd want her to be during her investigations. At that time it was perfectly normal for Molly's husband, police captain Daniel Sullivan, to expect her to stay away from murders and mysteries now that she's a wife and mother to one year old Liam.  But because Molly had her own successful Private Investigations business, and because she has two friends, Sid and Gus, who live together as a couple and travel, make art and are never going to marry or be "traditional" women, I have always felt that Bowen should allow Molly to be non traditional, too, and stand up to her husband's bullying and do her investigations out in the open, instead of sneaking around, lying to her husband and getting into dangerous situations that could be avoided. Here's the blurb:
Molly Murphy Sullivan's husband Daniel, a captain in the New York City police force, is stumped. He's chasing a murderer whose victims have nothing in common—nothing except for the taunting notes that are delivered to Daniel after each murder. And when Daniel receives a note immediately after Molly and her young son Liam are in a terrible train crash, Daniel and Molly both begin to fear that maybe Molly herself was the target.
Molly's detective instincts are humming, but finding the time to dig deeper into this case is a challenge. She's healing from injuries sustained in the crash and also sidetracked by her friends Sid and Gus's most recent hobby, dream analysis. And when Molly herself starts suffering from strange dreams, she wonders if they just might hold the key to solving Daniel's murder case.
Rhys Bowen's characteristic blend of atmospheric turn-of-the-century history, clever plotting, and sparkling characters will delight readers in The Edge of Dreams, the latest in her bestselling Molly Murphy series.
Bowen's prose is straightforward and clean, and her plots sail along swiftly, but I think readers generally know whodunit well before the end, and I assume that Bowen plans her novels that way, for reader satisfaction. This time Molly nearly dies, again, due to her own ridiculous obsession with "seeing things through" or just plain nosiness. While her mother in law and Daniel both try to get her to stay home an heal after a tram accident (she's battered, bruised and has a cracked rib, but her son is unscathed), as usual Molly ignores them and goes off to seek out clues in the cases that are causing her husband so much trouble. Inevitably, she discovers the link between them is a madman who wants revenge on everyone who had him committed to an asylum for the criminally insane, and the dreams of a little girl who was traumatized by the fiery death of her parents. There is some discussion of Freuds Interpretation of Dreams in here, which is fascinating, and I was thrilled to learn that Molly and Daniel are keeping Bridie, her MIL's ward, on at their house so that she can get a full education and have a career outside of homemaking or being a servant.  Sid and Gus still strike me as being more than a bit self-centered, but they are always fascinating in their unusual interests and knowledge of the latest subjects. They also provide a way for Molly to get away from her MILs disapproval and her husbands demands. I'd give this book a B+ and recommend it to anyone who has read the other Molly Murphy mysteries.

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