Jul 29, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

Participating in all kinds of follow memes today, hoping to get back in the game.

This week on the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Crazy-for-Books, the prompt is:
Highlight one book you have received this week that you can't wait to dig into.

I'm heading to the library on my lunch break to pick up four books that just came in for me. It never rains but it pours, right? I'll have a hard time deciding which one to dig into first. These four are:

Black Blade Blues

Lesbian fantasy - be still my heart! Sarah Beauhall has more on her plate than most twenty-somethings: day job as a blacksmith, night job as a props manager for low-budget movies, and her free time is spent fighting in a medieval re-enactment group.The lead actor breaks Sarah’s favorite one-of-a-kind sword, and to avoid reshooting scenes, Sarah agrees to repair the blade. One of the extras, who claims to be a dwarf, offers to help. That’s when things start to get weird. Could the sword really be magic, as the "dwarf" claims? Are dragons really living among us as shapeshifters? As if things weren’t surreal enough, Sarah’s girlfriend Katie breaks out the dreaded phrase… “I love you.”  As her life begins to fall apart, first her relationship with Katie, then her job at the movie studio, and finally her blacksmithing career, Sarah hits rock bottom. It is at this moment, when she has lost everything she has prized, that one of the dragons makes their move. Suddenly what was unthinkable becomes all too real…and Sarah will have to decide if she can reject what is safe and become the heroine who is needed to save her world.

Museum of the Missing: A History of Art Theft
Simon Houpt

Priceless masterpieces...Brazen thefts: The true story behind the blank spaces on the museum walls. What kind of person would dare to steal a legendary painting--and who would buy something so instantly recognizable? In recent years, art theft has captured the public imagination more than ever before, spurred by both real life incidents (the snatching of Edvard Munch's well-known masterwork "The Scream") and the glamorous fantasy of such Hollywood films as "The Thomas Crown Affair." The truth is, according to INTERPOL records, more than 20,000 stolen works of art are missing--including Rembrandts, Renoirs, van Goghs, and Picassos. "Museum of the Missing" offers an intriguing tour through the underworld of art theft, where the stakes are high and passions run strong.

Original Sin: A Sally Sin Adventure 
Beth McMullen

In this hilarious debut, a former U.S. spy turned stay-at-home mother of a toddler tries to find a most elusive work-life balance when the USAWMD (United States Agency for Weapons of Mass Destruction) decides it desperately requires her services again, and calls her back into the field.

Prisoners in the Palace: How Victoria Became Queen with the Help of Her Maid, A Reporter, and A Scoundrel: A Novel of Intrigue and Romance
Michaela MacColl

London, 1838. Sixteen-year-old Liza's dreams of her society debut are dashed when her parents are killed in an accident. Penniless, she accepts the position of lady's maid to young Princess Victoria and steps unwittingly into the gossipy intrigue of the servant's world below-stairs as well as the trickery above. Is it possible that her changing circumstances may offer Liza the chance to determine her own fate, find true love, and secure the throne for her future queen?

So, which should it be? Lesbian fantasy? Literary non-fiction? Hilarious girl spy thriller? Or historical YA?

Feature and Follow Friday

Participating in all kinds of follow memes today, hoping to get back in the game.

Next comes Feature & Follow Friday hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.

This week's featured blogs:
The Book Addicted Girl
The Little Book Blog

This week's question: Let's step away from books for a second and get personal. What t-shirt slogan best describes you?

That's a hard question to answer as I purposely don't wear t-shirts with slogans on them. BUT, there is this absolutely adorable t-shirt sold in my friend's shop that I do occasionally sport. It's a chipmunk/squirrel creature his hands up (I think of it as a him) and the word bubble coming from his mouth says, "Books Rule!" That describes me to a...well...pardon the pun...T.

TGIF at GReads!

Participating in all kinds of follow memes today, hoping to get back in the game.

First up: TGIF at GReads!

This week's questions:

If you could be one character from a book, who would you choose & why?

I'm going to borrow this idea from the original post and also break this up into categories:

If you've been on my blog before, you're probably tired of hearing me talk about my favorite book, Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley. But here we go again, because I would most likely want to be her, despite going through the Civil War, various husbands, and let's not forget - corsets. She also gets to travel a lot of the country/world, ends up living in Ireland, has a head for business, is absolutely loaded, and ends up with Rhett Butler. Overall, I think pros outweigh the cons.

Just about any Nora Roberts character from the last 10 years. I love her strong women, overcoming the odds with a sense of humor, business savvy (can you tell I want to open my own business someday?), love of dogs, straight-talking honesty, and eventual partnership.

This category is a tie and I'm going to cheat just a little. Lt. Eve Dallas from the ...In Death series by J.D.Robb (a.k.a. Nora Roberts) may live in NY, but it's not like the NYC we know. Set in the future, with all kinds of advancements like flying cars, interplanetary travel, and legalized prostitution, and despite the trauma of her early childhood, who wouldn't love her former bad-guy turned bad-ass husband, ex-thief turned rock n' roll star best friend, and the satisfaction of being NYC's top murder cop? But, in terms of an actual fantasy world, Jacqueline Carey's PhèdreDelaunay (Kushiel series) has the most true grit, determination, beauty, sexual adventures, and smarts of any character I've ever read.

Last but certainly not least, in the children's book category, let's break this down by age-appropriate book type:
Picture book: Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. Obviously I'd like to be Miss Rumphius, and hope I still can be someday. I just need to figure out what I can do to make the world more beautiful. I've got an idea. Stay tuned.
Middle Grade: Clementine (series) by Sara Pennypacker/illustrated by Marla Frazee. Precocious and intelligent, warm-hearted and artistic, she's not the easiest of children but her family and friends still love her.
YA: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. Aside from being the heroine of my favorite YA, Taylor Markham has a gender-neutral name (which I love), a plucky attitude, a sense of fairness, and simultaneous emotional strength and vulnerability. She also has a secret past to figure out, a present adventure involving secret tunnels and school wars, and a future with people who care about her.

Friday Round-Up

Each week I round-up all the (mostly book-related) articles/blog posts/book reviews/websites/videos that entertained me during the week. Enjoy!

Children's Books

Absolutely gorgeous redesigned minimalist children's book covers by Christian Jackson featured on Flavorwire. You can also see them on his website here.

Reimagined children's book covers by various artists on this blog: Uncovered Cover Art.

100 Scope Notes (a children's lit news and review site) reports on School Library Monthly reporting on Red Hawk Elementary School's new library system.
A few elementary school libraries have begun to organize their books based on the bookstore model, also known as "WordThink", doing away with the Dewey Decimal system.
I am in favor and here's why:
1. It's elementary school. For those who respond that the children will grow up not knowing how the rest of the library world operates, they will have plenty of time to learn that in jr. high/middle school and high school.
2. It absolutely facilitates more reading based on interest. Particularly for those reluctant readers who may have been greatly surprised to find themselves enjoying a Harry Potter book or a Carl Hiasson novel, they can now pick another book off that section's shelf and risk possibly enjoying another, similar, read.
3. The purpose of school reports at that age are, in part, to teach the fundamentals of research. The fact that you can look up several books on your subject in one place might actually encourage a student to do MORE research for a project, as all the books are look, right there! By the time they've realized they've read three rather than two books on the subject, the project will practically have completed itself. Then when they're older and will have to run around the library looking up books on their subject based on call numbers, they might be more likely to look up a few more rather than just that one big one they found in that one spot.
That's just my unsolicited 2 cents. What's your opinion?

Download the first four chapters of fantastic fantasy from husband-and-wife team, Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis, Wildwood Chronicles (a middle grade novel being released August 30, 2011). Lots of extras on their website, in addition to the preview, like videos, music, and their blog.

In case you didn't get enough of this last week, I now present Werner Herzog reading Go the Fuck to Sleep at the NY Public Library (it's a short clip, not the whole reading).


I can't decide if this should go under "children's" or "articles", so here it is on the cusp of both. io9 presents "10 Creepy, Sexy Fairy Tales That Should Be Films". I believe they stretch the definition of "fairy tale" just a bit with some of their suggestions, but I understand the sentiment. I, personally, keep hoping for a live-action, Ang Lee-directed, Mulan with Ziyi Zhang, the amazing martial arts star/actress from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Mediabistro's GalleyCat has "Free Samples of the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction Longlist".

For something a little more lowbrow, take a gander at HuffPo's round-up of the "15 Most Ridiculous Book Titles Ever".

"A Whiff of History" is an article about capturing and recreating the smells of history, whether that's a 3,500-year-old perfume or the scent of an endangered flower. Why would I recommend this? Besides the obvious "learn something new every day" factor, these lines show the stretch I'm making between olfactory history and books:

"Perfumers like New York-based Christopher Brosius have used headspace to re-create less obvious smells, like the odor of an old fur coat or a well-worn paperback [this is the part where I interject and say, "And this is why I don't own an e-reader..."]. Their goal is an artistic one, but the same approach could serve as the beginning of a database. Imagine having a library of scents specific to a particular time or place, from the strangely sweet aroma of a plastic-wrapped CD case to the blend of horse dung and candy that permeates Boston’s Faneuil Hall."

"An institution called the Osmothèque, headquartered in Versailles, France, operates as a kind of Library of Congress of perfumes - a collection of historically important perfumes, in their original formulas, kept chilled in aluminum flasks."

Okay, it IS a bit of a stretch, but it's a really interesting read, either way. And as someone who is particularly sensitive to smells - and is probably the only person in the world to vehemently dislike the smell of lavender, tea tree oil, and patchouli - this article gave me a nice trip down my olfactory memory lane.

AAGH! The New Yorker has an article about a bookstore in Sag Harbor that has a...wait for it...it hurts to say...HIPSTER LIT section. I'm dying inside. Sorry self-identified hipsters, I'm just not that into you. Thank goodness there's only one book on this list that I love - High Fidelity by Nick Hornby - and so can still hold my head up. If you ARE into "hipster lit", Flavorwire has the ultimate "hipster lit" round-up.

The Daily Beast asked authors what their most favorite summer read was. Admittedly I only cared because I wanted to know what Sherman Alexie said (The Basketball Diaries by Jim Carroll), but some of you may care about the other books other authors recommended.

Speaking of Sherman Alexie, I signed up for his newsletter and occasionally I get emails with a poem that he wrote in it and it's the best part of my day when that happens. I highly recommend it.


Thanks to Ms. Emily Crowe over at As the Crowe Flies (and Reads!) for turning me on to these book posters that take the ENTIRE text of a book and put it on one page. Spineless Classics has done just that with several of your favorite books (including one of my favorites, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll). Other posters feature Dickens, Jane Austen, Black Beauty, and even the Bible.

Though Trashionista doesn't generally review books that are to my particular taste in reading (for those who like specifically women-oriented literary and non-literary fiction, this is the site for you), I would wear this dress they've featured.

On a related note, this article also points you to Spoonfulofchocolate's Etsy site, where "handmade book handbags and book e-reader covers" are sold.


A really exciting "moveable type" project is making its way to a city near you! (If you're in the States, that is.) Power & Light Press, despite sounding vaguely religious, is actually a letterpress studio based in Oregon. They've rigged up a movable type truck and are driving around the country bringing letterpress to the people. Find out all about it by clicking the highlighted links and watching this video.

Jul 23, 2011

Book Review: First Grave on the Right/Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones

First Grave on the Right
9780312662752, $21.99, St. Martin's Press

Second Grave on the Left
9780312360818, $21.99, St. Martin's Press, Pub. Date: August 16, 2011

by Darynda Jones

Stephanie Plum (of Janet Evanovich fame) meets the supernatural - hilarious, kick-ass, and sexy.

Charlotte (Charley) Davidson is the Grim Reaper, though she likes to replace the grim with sarcasm. Basically, she's the big shining beacon of light that all ghosts who neglect to cross over on their own are guided towards. Usually it's ghosts who have a reason to stay behind, for instance, because they've been murdered. That's where her day job comes in. Charley's also a PI (private investigator) and a "consultant" for the police department where her father was a cop and her uncle is still a detective. Between helping Uncle Bob solve crimes, working on her own PI cases, and helping ghosts receive closure before they pass over, Charley's plate is pretty full. Somehow she still manages to find time to find herself involved with one ridiculously gorgeous, bad-ass dude who may or may not have been shadowing her, and saving her from almost certain death, most of her life. While his corporeal body is in prison for the murder of his father (not that the abusive bastard didn't deserve it), his incorporeal self is visiting Charley in her dreams and then her waking moments, bringing heat of all kinds with him.

In First Grave on the Right, Charley is helping to solve the murder of three lawyers, also while working on a side project - trying to figure out just who, or what, that deliciously sexy man is who keeps slipping in-and-out of her day- and nighttime dreams. The lawyers were working to free an innocent man convicted of the murder of one teenage boy and the disappearance of his own nephew. Meanwhile, when she finds him, the man of her dreams (literally), happens to be in prison. In a coma. And has three days left before the state pulls his life support. With the help of her assistant, Cookie, several ghosts, and reluctantly working with hunky, skeptic, fellow PI Garrett Swopes, Charley tries to connect the dots between an abandoned warehouse, a human trafficking ring, a priest, the innocent man, the missing boys, and the lawyers. All while racing against the clock to find a way to save Reyes Alexander Farrow, the convicted murdered in a coma, who happens to appear very much awake and alive the several times he appears to either kiss her or save her life.

Read an excerpt here.

In Second Grave on the Left, Reyes Alexander Farrow (Mr. super-gorgeous, possibly evil, lifesaver - literally) has disappeared. Never mind he's hidden himself in an effort to protect Charley; she's found him once, and she'll find him again. Unfortunately Reyes isn't the only thing on her mind. Her assistant/best friend, Cookie, needs her help to find another missing person. An old high school friend of Cookie has gone missing, and the more they search, the more they find out about a long-buried high school secret among a an old group of friends. Unfortunately, someone out there is killing to make sure that secret stays buried. It's another race against the clock while Charley and Cookie search for the missing Mimi and the missing Reyes before they both end up dead.

Read an excerpt here.

Jul 22, 2011

Friday Round-Up

I'm going to be trying this new weekly post where I collect all the (mostly book-related) articles/websites/book recommendations from around the web/life in a given week and post them on Fridays. We'll see how well this goes. Here's this week's Friday round-up:

Children's Books

Lemony Snicket Recommends - this link kills two birds with one stone by introducing you to a fantastic blog, Dinner: A Love Story, and to David Handler's (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket, author of the Series of Unfortunate Events) summer reading children's picture book recommendations.

Christopher Walken reading The Three Little Pigs. An oldie but a goodie.

Book Trailer for Hugo, the movie based on the best-selling, Caldecott-winning Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. Go read the book. Then watch the movie.

Samuel L. Jackson reads the children's book Go the Fuck to Sleep.


Name the missing word in the book title quiz
I answered 38 of 42 missing words in these titles in 2 minutes, and can honestly say I'd never heard of the 4 titles I didn't know. How did you do?


"The Broship of the Ring" - a hipster take on The Lord of the Rings - on the art blog of Noelle Stevenson, A Girl and Her Demons

Better Book Titles
Discovered this a while ago and then forgot about, this blog is brilliant in summing up a book by giving it a new title. For instance, instead of Cormac McCarthy's The Road, blog creator Dan Wilbur suggests "Are We There Yet?" as its "better book title".

Persephone Magazine
-"a daily blog focused on topics of interest for modern, intelligent, clever women"


Flavorwire's "Take a Dip: Literary Greats in Their Bathing Suits" (not nearly as racy as I'd hoped).

Salon's "The Greatest Books That Never Were" (and basically any other article written by Laura Miller).

Not really book-y, more just nerd-y, but a fascinating article from GOOD on how technology is saving dying languages: "How Do You Save a Dying Language? Crowdsource It."

The Guardian's Top 10 Iranian Books list, as put together by author Kamin Mohammadi.
While you're at it, check out Ms. Mohammadi's new book, The Cypress Tree, which uses three generations of women — Ms. Mohammadi, her mother, and her grandmother — to tell Iran's history. Sadly for the Americans, it's only out in the UK right now.

The Guardian's "Famous for the Wrong Book" article, by John Self.
Okay, yes, obviously I love The Guardian's book articles. But, to chime in with my opinion, despite loving High Fidelity and Juliet, Naked, I actually prefer Nick Hornby's non-fiction, book-review-ish essays collected in a three-part series of books beginning with The Polysyllabic Spree. And though she's best known by Anthropology undergrads for her more academic treatise, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, my life would not have been complete without Anne Fadiman's essay collections, Ex Libris and At Large and At Small. Last but not least, though it's not quite the same, I will forever treasure Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley, the authorized sequel to Gone With the Wind, above and beyond anything Margaret Mitchell ever wrote.

Watch This

PBS documentary, Biblioburro: The Donkey Library about one school teacher's determination to bring books to children living in very rural, very remote, very dangerous parts of Colombia.

Jul 18, 2011

Guinea Pig Writers July Post

This month's theme at my writing group's blog - guineapigwriters.com - is travel and books.

Here are my two posts on this topic:
Post 1
Post 2

So far no one has answered the question, To what book do my post topic titles refer? Be the first and win the satisfaction that comes with knowing you've made me a happy blogger.