Sunday, December 11, 2016

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on Film, NYT Loves Bookstores, Level Grind by Annie Bellet and The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square by Rosina Lippi

This was one of my favorite books the year that it came out, and it was also beloved by the Tuesday Night Book Group that I lead at the Maple Valley Library. I am thrilled that it is being made into a film in the UK!

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on Film
Michiel Huisman (Game of Thrones) will star opposite Lily James in The
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
adapted from the novel by Annie Barros and Mary Ann Shaffer, Deadline

Directed by Mike Newell from a script written by Don Roos & Tom Bezucha,
the film's producers are Mazur/Kaplan Company's Paula Mazur and Books &
Books <> owner Mitchell Kaplan; alongside
Blueprint Pictures' Graham Broadbent and Pete Czernin. Filming is set to
begin in the U.K. next spring.

Road Trip: The New York Times Loves Bookstores
This week the New York Times has been featuring several
bookstore-related pieces in its Travel
section, including:

7 Writers on Their Favorite Bookstores
"Geraldine Brooks, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Pamela Paul and others in the
literary world reveal their favorite bookstores."

Ann Patchett's Guide for Bookstore Pilgrims
"If bookstores are a must on your travel itinerary, Ann Patchett has a
road map for you."

Temples for the Literary Pilgrim
"From Mexico City to Hangzhou, bookstores that are destinations in and
of themselves."

A Bookworm's Travel Plan
"For the writer, a good bookstore in a faraway place is as basic a need
as a decent hotel, a hot shower and enough underwear."
Level Grind: The Twenty Sided Sorceress by Annie Bellet was a big discovery for me, because I had no idea that this omnibus of great urban fantasy even existed. The protagonist is a Native American woman named Jade Crow who has been hiding her powers as a sorceress from everyone she knows in this small town in Idaho, because her ex-boyfriend and mentor is an evil master sorcerer whose mission in life is to take young, talented teenagers, teach them how to use their powers and then kill them, eat their hearts and thereby gain more power for himself. But Jade figures if she doesn't use her powers, Samir the evil one can't track and find her, and she can continue to run her gaming/comic book shop in peace. Unfortunately, stuff happens, and Jade ends up outing herself, thereby painting a target on her back and on the backs of her shape-shifting friends. Here is the blurb:
An omnibus of the first seven books in the USA TODAY bestselling fantasy series—collected together for the first time in one volume. Jade Crow is a sorceress hiding from the most powerful sorcerer in the world: her ex-boyfriend.
Gamer. Nerd. Sorceress.
Jade Crow lives a quiet life running her comic book and game store in Wylde, Idaho, hiding from a powerful sorcerer who wants to eat her heart and take her powers—her ex-boyfriend Samir. Yet when dark powers threaten her friends’ lives, Jade must save them by using magic. But as soon as she does, her nemesis will find her and she won’t be able to stand up against him when he comes.
This is the collection of the first seven volumes of the Hugo Award nominated series: Justice Calling; Murder of Crows; Pack of Lies; Hunting Season; Heartache; Thicker Than Blood; and Magic to the Bone. Publisher's Weekly: This omnibus collects the first four novellas of Bellet’s series featuring Jade Crow, a comic and gaming shop owner and sorceress, into a lighthearted paranormal romance story that gradually becomes more serious. Jade once belonged to a group of crow shape-shifters drawn from various Native American tribes, but she’s been exiled. She hides from a dangerous former mentor, Samir, in a small Idaho college town that’s home to shape-shifters, witches, and a leprechaun. Threats mount as a warlock tries to draw power from captive shifters, a malignant spirit seeks vengeance on Jade’s grandfather, and the werewolves fight among themselves to name a new Alpha of Alphas. Meanwhile, Jade tries to define her relationship with Alek, a weretiger sworn to uphold shifter justice. Bellet infuses her prose with multiple shout-outs to geek and gamer culture, and the tone of her ensemble resembles Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s gung-ho Scooby Gang. But Jade gains power to face Samir by eating the hearts of sorcerers she defeats (with jarring references to the Catholic liturgy around Communion) and Alek is the one who must choose between duty and love. Fans of urban fantasy will be drawn to this intriguing series.
I flat out loved these books and the characters therein, even though I had to ask my teenage son about the gaming references and the acronyms that popped up several times. Being a middle aged woman, I don't have a handle on as much of the latest lingo and texting-speak as he does. Fortunately, asking him about these words and acronyms sparked his interest in the book itself, and now he's planning on reading Jade Crow's epic story himself. The prose was clean and full of wonderful references to every sci-fi film and TV nerd's favorite shows, from Star Wars to Firefly. The plot was swift and sure, and there wasn't an ounce of flabby prose to be found anywhere, throughout the four volumes of the omnibus. My only minor quibble was the bizarre reference to the smell of Alek the Siberian were-tiger when he was in human form and either ready to do the nasty with Jade or finished doing the nasty with her (or he was cuddling her). She refers to his "vanilla and musk scent" every single time Jade is even in the same room with Alek. By the 10th time she says how much she loves how he smells like vanilla and musk, I couldn't help but roll my eyes and think of the way that Bella's strawberry shampoo in the godawful Twilight novels is referenced over and over, until you want to scream and write to that hack Stephanie Meyer and explain that they actually have strawberry shampoo in Fall City, Washington, and that women in this state have been using fruity shampoos for many years before boring Bella arrived. Ugh!  Still, despite this, I felt the book deserved an A, and a recommendation to anyone who loves Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid novels, or Devon Monk's Magic in the...novels, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Also, readers can take heart in knowing that the second omnibus will be available on January 3, 2017, which is less than a month away. 

The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square by Rosina Lippi was a library book sale find. This 2008 novel is packaged as general fiction, though it almost veers into chick lit territory because of the cute bedroom slippers and PJs on the cover. Unfortunately, it's another genre novel that has been mislabeled by the publisher, probably for sales reasons, which is ridiculous. Pajama Girls is a Southern romance novel with all the trimmings, including a side helping of sexism that seems inevitable in most every romance novel I've ever read. Here's the blurb:
Julia Darrow runs a thriving business in South Carolina, has a houseful of foster dogs-and she wears designer pajamas all day, every day.
John Dodge makes a living moving around the country, fixing up small businesses on the brink of disaster. His newest venture takes him to South Carolina, where he's greeted by an odd sight: Julia Darrow, walking across Lambert Square, in pajamas.
Intrigued, Dodge asks Julia out to dinner only to be refused. The townsfolk warn him that Julia is an unsolvable mystery, but Dodge likes mysteries, and he's really good at fixing things...

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