Tuesday, December 31, 2013

seasonal reading: Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan

Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan
series: O'Neil Brothers (1)

I really enjoyed this romance novel set around the holidays.

Kayla Green is an extremely successful workaholic who hates nothing more than the Christmas season ("I'm Scrooge, but without the tasteless nightwear," 8). She's busy avoiding holiday celebrations at work when she learns of a lead that could lead to a huge account for her PR firm. When the potential client (the sexy, young Jackson O'Neil, CEO of Snowdrift Leisure) makes an unorthodox request (that Kayla agree to spend a week up his family's secluded Vermont resort in order to experience the resort firsthand and get the rest of the family on board with her developing an integrated marketing plan for the resort), Kayla surprises both her boss and Jackson O'Neil by agreeing to spend the holidays at the resort ("Kayla decided that given the choice between an encounter with Santa or a black bear, she'd take the bear," 42).

As would be expected with a romance novel, Kayla and Jackson have immediate chemistry. Chemistry he's willing to explore and she wants to do her best to ignore. And, of course, Kayla's time at Snow Crystal resort does not go to plan. She flubs her initial presentation to the resort's stakeholders, making her job of winning them over that much more difficult. In the course of showing her all the resort has to offer Jackson takes every opportunity to thaw Kayla's chilly exterior, much to her chagrin. On top of that Jackson's family is not the least bit businesslike and they aren't content to ignore her and let her do her work, insisting on pulling her into their holiday celebrations. In order to win the Snow Crystal account, Kayla is going to need to confront the issues that cause both her hatred of the holidays and fear of intimacy.

Even given the time constraints inherent in the Sleigh Bells in the Snow's plot, Kayla and Jackson's relationship proceeds at a reasonable pace (personally I dislike romance novels in which relationships progress too quickly). Both Kayla and Jackson have interesting and complex backstories and the issues they have to overcome in order to be together are realistic.  Morgan also populated the novel with a bevy of well-realized secondary characters (mostly in the form of other O'Neil family members), many of whom will no doubt appear in the other books in the series as each installment will revolve around one of the O'Neil brothers.

My one complaint about the novel is that it gives away too much about the other books in the series.   By the end of Sleigh Bells in the Snow readers know who both of the other brothers will likely end up with and have a general idea of the issues that the couples will have to overcome in the course of their own stories (more so for Tyler than for Sean).  This isn't really enough to ruin or spoil the upcoming books, it's just that I would have preferred less in the way of clues about later installments.
disclosure: I received a review copy of Sleigh Bells in the Snow from Harlequin via NetGalley.

Edmund Crown/Hat from Literary Knits

One of my 2012 Christmas gifts was Literary Knits by Nikol Lohr (see post). To quote myself:
Subtitled "30 Patterns Inspired by Favorite Books," Literary Knits is just that: a collection of patterns inspired by novels, specifically the author's favorite literary characters.  The patterns are grouped into four categories:  women's accessories, women's shawls and garments, items for men, and items for children.
This fall I finally knit one of the patterns from the book: Edmund Crown/Hat, which was inspired by the character of Edmund Pevensie of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia series. When I visited one of Russell's sisters in May niece #2 requested leg warmers. I love nothing more than appreciative handknit recipient, but I knew that if I knit something for her I'd have to knit for her three siblings as well. The Edmund Crown/Hat is what I decided to knit for niece #3.  I used purple as the base color since it is her favorite and I had some lovely leftover yarn in both purple and pink that I thought would suit.

Project: Ella Crown/Hat
Pattern: Edmund Crown/Hat
Yarn: South West Trading Company Optimum DK in Lilac and Rouge
(the eagle-eyed among you may recognize this yarn from the literary yarn bomb)

I love that this pattern is reversible so that one can wear it crown-side out or as a nondescript single-color toque.  However, I'm really not crazy about how the pattern came out. Lohr includes two different sizes, but the youth/small adult size differs from the child size only in the instruction to use a larger needle size. I wanted to knit the larger size, but I suspect that I would have had much better luck if I'd made the effort to modify the pattern to add a repeat (and using a lighter yarn and/or smaller needles as necessary) rather than relying on larger needle to do the work.

The larger needle size left my knitting far more loose that I like and the colorwork section horribly irregular. When I soaked the completed hat so I could even out the colorwork during blocking it grew so large that I had to risk putting the hat in the dryer (against care instruction) to get it back to a size that might actually fit her head. The dryer worked fairly well to resize the hat, but I ended up having to soak and dry again because I failed to realize that I'd need to shape the hat to the best of my ability before (and during) drying so it didn't get locked into a misshapen mess.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

holiday gift-giving,
books incoming and outgoing

Now that the holidays are for the most part behind us and 2013 is drawing to a close, I think I will attempt attending to the blog (just recently Russell reminded me that it'd be two months since I'd posted). First order of business, an overview of my holiday (book) gift-giving.

I received:
  • The Archived by Victoria Schwab (from Russell)
    This book came out in early 2013. I had to put it on my wishlist since the story revolves around an unconventional archive.
  • Baba Yaga Laid an Egg by Dubravka Ugresic (from my dad)
    This is one of the books in Canongate's Myth Series (I've been slowly acquiring them all for my library). I was pleasantly surprised to receive this book from my dad because we'd had a conversation about Baba Yaga in October after I'd seen a sculpture inspired by the story in an exhibit.
  • The Rhinebeck Sweater, edited by Ysolda Teague (from Russell)
    Stories and sweater patterns inspired by New York Sheep and Wool Festival, which occurs each October in Rhinebeck, New York. I'm certain that the only reason I received this book is because I told Russell that I was planning on buying it for myself if I didn't receive a copy for Christmas.
  • Warchon: Clash at Sygillis (from Russell)
    This is an extremely hard to find European-style board game in book form. The first in an award-winning, but commercially unsuccessful planned series of games: Playmark Book Games by Z-Man Games. I've wanted to play this game ever since I first found out about this failed gaming system and I'm so pleased that Russell was able to find a copy of it.

I gave:
  • The Children of Hurin by J. R. R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien (to my dad)
    Russell was sure that we'd given him this book already, but it was on my dad's wishlist.
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (to my niece, with instructions for her mom to read it first)
    Not a holiday present, but it traveled with the holiday presents.
  • The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun by J.R.R. Tolkien (to my dad)
    Tolkien's translation of two stories from Norse mythology. A must-have for any true Tolkien fan.
  • Logicomix by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos Papadimitriou (to my book-dislking sister)
    I got a lot of slack for the present that felt disturbingly book-like before it was opened. I knew this was a risky choice for my sister, but given the fact that she's just gone back to school to study applied mathematics I couldn't not get this graphic novel for her. She's already started reading it and has asked me whether I know of any other comics about math. I'd say that's a successful present!
  • Playing at the World by Jon Peterson (to Russell)
    Subtitled "A History of Simulating Wars, People and Fantastic Adventures, From Chess to Role-Playing Games."

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

source: gift
Allegiant by Veronica Roth
series: Divergent Trilogy (3)

I'd been looking forward to the conclusion of Veronica Roth's Divergent Trilogy and was planning to order Allegiant when Russell informed me that I already had a copy on order courtesy of one of his sisters, who shopped my Amazon wishlist for my birthday. Safe in the knowledge that I'd be getting the new novel on the day it was released I set about rereading the first two installments in the series, Divergent (see post) and Insurgent (see post). I'd read Divergent at least twice so I remembered its twists and turns fairly well. Reading Insurgent was a bit more of a rediscovery for me since I'd only read it once before.

It is difficult to write much about books like Allegiant (a later installment in a series, to which one is emotionally attached) without including spoilers for earlier books in the series. Suffice it to say that I think that Roth did a good job following up on the revelation at the end of Insurgent and answering readers' lingering questions about the world she created for her characters. Allegiant is wonderfully complex with lots more character development and revelations about individual characters' strengths and weaknesses. A powerful end to the series.

One thing that I found disorienting upon starting Allegiant was that the narrative jumped back and forth from Tris' and Four's points of view. I don't usually have trouble with multiple POV novels, but having just reread Divergent and Insurgent, which are told from Tris' perspective, I found the change jarring. That being said, I understand why Roth changed the narrative structure for this book and I don't think I would have found it problematic at all if I hadn't just gorged on the earlier books.

Friday, October 11, 2013

seasonal reading: Carmilla
by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

source: gift
Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

For a hundred and forty years Carmilla has given readers' bodies and souls a shake, because the vampire is beautiful, but repulsive, to be resisted at all costs, because the narrative alternates so imaginatively between twittering girlies and an urgent need to reach for sharpened wooden stakes. (Richler, xxxi)
One of my late-arriving birthday presents was a copy of the Pomegranate Vintage Vampire edition of Carmilla, a vampire story first published in 1872. I decided to read it right away because it seemed like an appropriate selection for the Halloween season.

This particular edition of Carmilla includes illustrations by Taeden Hall1 (though the cover was illustrated by Gillian Holmes) and a preface by Daniel Richler. Richler's 23-page introduction to the story managed to be both academic and chatty. It places Carmilla in context (of its time, in the development of vampire literature, etc.) and discusses how Carmilla has been interpreted and adapted over time.

Hall's illustrations are sweet and very much in keeping with the novella's "twittering girlies" (above) and "girl school lesbianism" (publisher) while still being atmospheric. Plate 5, inspired by the line "The limbs were perfectly flexible, the flesh elastic; and the leaden coffin floated with blood, in which to a depth of seven inches, the body lay immersed" (117), packs a punch,2 while the others are more subtle by degrees. I do wish though that the publisher had used a different process to print the plates. The dots created by pixelation bring to mind comics, (over)emphasizing the cartoony quality of the illustrations.

As to the story itself I have to admit that I did not find it to be nearly as creepy as I'd hoped I would.3 That's not a problem with the story per se, but rather with the fact that many modern readers (including myself) came of age reading authors like Stephen King and Anne Rice. It seems like that inoculation has made us immune to the true spookiness of gothic and proto-horror stories.

At 124 pages, however, the novella seems decidedly short.  The narrative includes so much build up before the realization that the vampire-character is a vampire that the vanquishment and conclusion felt rushed.  On a more positive note, Le Fanu's prose is very easy to read with little in the way of antiquated language to irritate (some) modern readers.  Additionally, his interpretation of the whys and wherefores of vampirism are surprisingly uncomplicated.
  1. Hall's alternative clothing line, Gloomth, has a 3-piece collection inspired by the novella.
  2. How could it not?
  3. I have the same problem with Lovecraft, much to my chagrin. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Alice Munro wins the Nobel Prize

The 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded to Alice Munro,
"master of the contemporary short story."

Here are link to the prize announcement (with video) and the very skimpy press release (PDF).

I haven't read Munro in ages, because I tend to gravitate toward novels over short stories.  I will have to address this lack of recent Munro-reading soon. For myself and others in the same position I've included a selected bibliography below. I'd appreciate any specific recommendations.

An incomplete Bibliography

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Fundraising the Dead by Sheila Connolly

source: gift
Fundraising the Dead by Sheila Connolly
series: Museum Mystery (1)

I received Fundraising the Dead for my birthday this year (see post). It's a cozy mystery (the first in a new series) set in a museum (the Historical Society of Pennsylvania1 under the guise of the "Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society"). The amateur detective for the series is the museum's director of development, though in Fundraising the Dead (and maybe future installments) she has help in the form of a long-armed board member.

I enjoy cozy mysteries and I particularly liked this one because of its setting. The historical society-type museum is very familiar to me. I also appreciated that while there was a murder, the more significant crime was insider theft, which is a very real problem for museums, especially those with paper and portable collections.

While reading Fundraising the Dead I found myself imaging some of the characters as their real-life counterparts in my museum. I had our former donor relations manager cast as the lead though because I think she'd make a better sleuth than our director of development.2  I also noticed at one point that my irritation with one of the book's characters was being transferred to their real-life counterpart3 so I had to make sure to divorce fiction from reality before I went to work the next day.

The more typical danger with being too familiar with a setting is that one can get distracted by errors made by the author4 to the point of not being able to appreciate the book for what it is. As evidenced by that last footnote, I did experience a bit of that, but it didn't keep me from enjoying Fundraising the Dead.  It looks like Connolly has already published three more installments in the series (Let's Play Dead, Fire Engine Dead, and Monument to the Dead) and I plan to read them all.

There's one item, I must address, though, before ending this post. The back cover promised a dead archivist6 - false advertising! When reading the novel it soon becomes apparent that the person who drafted the back cover text didn't have a good grasp on the distinction between different roles within the museum because it isn't the archivist who is killed... it's the registrar. This amused me to no end because the person who gave me Fundraising the Dead is our museum's collection manager... who serves as our registrar.  And who will be borrowing this book from me shortly.   For what it's worth, there's no archivist mentioned in the narrative.
  1. While reading the novel I incorrectly assumed it was set at the Philadelphia Athenaeum, but I did a bit of my own sleuthing before writing this post.
  2. Though, just to be clear, I don't imagine her as type to conduct a secret affair with a superior, even if both of them were single.
  3. Who may or may not have deserved my ire, but definitely not for what the character was getting up to.
  4. For example, in no museum of 40+ employees would the director of development ever be involved in estimating the scope of a collection, let alone in the damp, cluttered basement.
  5. When a collection of George Washington's letters is lost on the day of the Society's grand gala, heads will certainly roll... but no one expects an archivist to be found dead."

guess what we Kickstarted today

A card game based on Pride and Prejudice!

Designed by first time designer Erika Svanoe
with art and graphic design by Erik Evensen (an award-winning graphic novelist)
Marrying Mr. Darcy is a strategy card game where players are one of the female characters from Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice. Players work to earn points and attract the attention of available suitors. Our heroines do this by attending events and improving their characters, but advantage can be gained by the use of cunning. All of their efforts are in hopes of marrying well and becoming the most satisfied character at the end of the game! (Kickstarter page)
Theme is one of the things that I'm drawn to when it comes to game-selection and I do love Pride and Prejudice.
Should Elizabeth accept the safety of Mr. Collins' proposal for fewer points or should she hold out for Mr. Darcy even though he may not propose at all.  If you aren't careful, she's destined to become an old maid. (intro video)
What P & P fan wouldn't want to play this game?1

But, we didn't decide to fund the game just because of the theme.  Russell agrees that the game looks promising.  He could have vetoed it.  And it can be played as a two-player game.  We've tried to not buying games that don't accommodate two-player (only) play because we have/had many 3+ player games collecting dust on our shelves. 

The Kickstarter campaign is already fully funded (with the "Undead Expansion" stretch goal), but there are still 9 days until it ends (on 17 October 2013). The estimated delivery date for Marrying Mr. Darcy is February 2014 and I am so looking forward to getting our copy.

Full rules have been posted on the game's website for potential buyers' review.
  1. That's a rhetorical question. I'm sure that there are some hardcover Janeites who will dislike it for one reason or another. I promise however to force a JASNA insider to play Marrying Mr. Darcy with me once it arrives and will report back.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Delectable by Adrianne Lee

Delectable by Adrianne Lee
series: Big Sky Pie (1)

Callee McCoy makes one last trip to Kalispell, Montana to tie up loose ends before her divorce is finalized. Her soon-to-be exhusband Quint is supposed to be fishing in Alaska so no one is more surprised than Callee is to run into him when she stops by his mother Molly's new storefront to drop off the family heirloom that served as her wedding ring. When Molly collapses at the bakery she's in the process of launching, the stress of Callee and Quint's unplanned reunion is the least of their worries. With the cardiologist giving everyone strict instructions to do nothing to cause Molly any additional stress before her bypass surgery, there's nothing Callee and Quint can do but what Molly requests: find a way to work together to make sure Big Sky Pie's grand opening happens as scheduled in one weeks' time.

The thing I like most about Delectable is that its protagonists have a backstory. Because the relationship doesn't have to be built from scratch during the course of the novel, it (and it's problems) seems much more authentic. I know that reading fiction often requires suspension of disbelief on the part of readers, one of my romance novel pet peeves is the instant magnetic attraction that makes characters behave (extremely) unrealistically. The barriers between the two protagonists don't seem manufactured (as in so many other romance novels) because Callee and Quint had two years-worth of marriage and a subsequent estrangement during which their issues could have developed and festered.  

It looks like Delectable is the first in a series that will focus on residents of Kalispell, MT who have some connection to the Big Sky Pie bakery. The blurb I read about Delicious, the series' second installment, indicates that the action will revolve around Quint's friend Nick.
disclosure: I received a review copy of Delectable from Grand Central Publishing (Hachette) via NetGalley.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
audio version read by Rebecca Lowman and Sunil Malhotra

As I mentioned before, Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park was recommended to me by my friend Nancy. I ended up listening the e-audio version of the novel simply because it was the version that I was able to get my hands on most quickly. It was a good decision, though, because the audiobook is extremely well-produced. The decision to have two narrators, each corresponding to one of the point-of-view characters, was a smart one.

Having two different actors bringing life to the two different narratives highlights just how deftly Rowell has managed the dual points of view. Throughout Eleanor and Park Rowell plays the protagonists' reactions against each other. She easily jumps back and forth between the two narratives and doesn't get bogged down in needing to stay with one of them for a certain amount of time before going back to the other. Occasionally she is with a character for only a sentence or two before switching back, but it is so well-done that it doesn't jar the reader. She also never stays with one character long enough for readers to get frustrated by their need to hear about the other.

I adored Eleanor and Park. I liked Park, I liked Eleanor, and I could relate to both of them. Their voices felt authentic as did the things each of them experienced over the course of the novel and particularly how each of them responded to those experiences. I came of age (and first fell in love) during this pre-cell phone, pre-email era so I can say with perfect certainty that Rowell knows of what she writes.

A beautiful, substantive love story tinged with nostalgia, Eleanor and Park is definitely one of the best books I've read so far this year.   It's going straight onto my favorites list and I will be buying myself a copy.

For what it's worth, I don't see Eleanor and Park as a young adult(-only) book.  I would classify it as general fiction and say that it was a good choice for teens.  I think Eleanor and Park is being marketed as a young adult novel because it's an easy sell with the protagonists being high school students experiencing their first real relationship.1 The young adult classification is sometimes a turn off to adult readers, though, which is unfortunate because I almost think the most perfect audience for Eleanor and Park are readers like myself who are contemporaries (or near contemporaries) of the titular characters.  There's the nostalgia factor, of course, but I truly believe that Eleanor and Park is a novel that will resonate with adult readers. Park and Eleanor are dealing with coming-of-age issues, but they are also dealing with real-world issues, things that don't go away (or seem less horrific) once one grows up.

I know that today's young adults will be able to relate to Park and Eleanor and the things that they are going through. But I wonder if many of them, as connected as they are,2 will be able to comprehend Park and Eleanor's extracurricular communication difficulties. I'm not sure that matters, though. Eleanor and Park is a must-read for them anyway.3
  1. And YA continues to be hot, hot, hot.
  2. As connected as we all are these days.
  3. Niece #1 will be getting a copy when I see her in December and nephew #1 will probably get one in a year or two.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

word: megrims

I happened across this interesting word/phrase while reading Fundraising the Dead by Sheila Connolly -
"And, Nell? I'm sorry that you had to be the one to stumble into this. I hope you aren't too upset, because I need you to help me--help the Society--through this difficult time."
Well, it was nice that he had thought about it. But I had no intention of lapsing into a fit of the megrims, whatever they were. I would soldier on, and I would save any mourning for poor [so-and-so] until later, when I got home. (68, emphasis mine)
Now out of common usage, megrim means depression or dejection, low spirits.  The megrims are comparable to the blues.  It can also mean a whim / fancy / caprice, though I think that usage was less common.

Apparently this is where we get the word migraine.

There is also a type of fish called the megrim.  As I am not a fan of this class, I refrained from doing too much research into this particular usage of the word.  The megrim (according to the one image I saw) is pale (perhaps translucent) and has a strange, squashed-looking face.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

bookish birthday presents

Voracious readers almost always get books or reading-related items as gifts. The most recent birthday for this reader was no different.

I received books - 
The Complete Works of Shakespeare
This one hasn't arrived yet, Russell bought it "new and used" from Amazon so we'll see if it's actually the wished-for David Bevington-edited edition when it arrives.
Fundraising the Dead by Sheila Connolly
A cozy mystery (and the first in a new series) set in a museum cum research library. The only problem: per the back-cover text the archivist turns up dead.
The Novel Cure by Susan Elderkin and Ella Berthoud
The subtitle (From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You) of this very recent release says it all. This book went straight to the top of my wishlist as soon as I heard about it.
Perfumes: The A-Z Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez
A reference book that includes reviews of 1200+ fragrances.
Sock Yarn Studio by Carol Sulcoski
Full of diverse non-sock patterns that call for the most collectable of all yarn: sock yarn.
And two blank books (pictured below)
The design of the one on the right is a close-up of hand-knit fabric.

I also received some items that were inspired by books -
Once by Nightwish CD
Because it has a song entitled "Nemo" (presumably inspired by the character from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) that popped up on one of Russell's Pandora stations and that I appreciated at the time.
Parade game, designed by Naoki Homma
An Alice in Wonderland-themed card game with fantastic new art work.
The Swarm game, designed by Michael Kiesling and Wolfgang Kramer
A board game based on the novel by Frank Schätzing, which I haven't (yet) read.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

a stressful summer and getting back into blogging

This year has been a challenging one for a number of reasons. I started January with a restructuring at work and every time things seem to be settling down a new stressor gets thrown my way. Also, summer is my least favorite season as I melt in the face of heat plus high humidity. With everything that's been going on the past two months I haven't been really been tracking what I've read, hence the lack of an August recap post and no regular updates to the "currently reading" and "books read in 2013" sidebar lists. I have been reading though and I will attempt to get my "books read in 2013" list updated to the best of my ability.

In the meantime, here's a little report on my current reading -
I'm listening to the audio version of Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (public library), which was recommended to me by my friend Nancy, and I adore it. I crave it when I'm not listening to it even though I'm worried that something bad may be in store for one of the main characters.

On my Nook I'm reading Escaping Reality: The Secret Life of Amy Bensen by Lisa Renee Jones (Netgalley), a romantic suspense novel.

I also have Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson (borrowed from a friend) and One Thousand and One Nights: A Retelling by Hanan al-Shaykh (public library) in progress (though One Thousand and One Nights is going to have to go back to the library this weekend as I've just realized that it's overdue and I've reached my renew limit for it). Both of these are best in small installments so they fall into the actively-but-slowly-reading category.
Some of you may remember that my birthday is at the end of September. Russell has a particularly virulent case of the flu so celebrations have been quite subdued. I will have a bookish birthday gifts post up either at some point this weekend.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

July recap and 2013 (so far) in books

Books read in July

70. The Telling Room by Michael Paterniti (review forthcoming) - Netgalley
69. Under the Jeweled Sky by Alison McQueen (review forthcoming) - Netgalley
68. White Trash Beautiful by Teresa Mummert (post forthcoming) - Netgalley
67. Afloat by Erin Healy (see below) - Netgalley
66. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (reread; see post) - personal copy
65. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (reread; see post) - personal copy
64. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (reread; see post) - personal copy
63. The Golden Tulip by Rosalind Laker (post forthcoming) - public library
62. Blue Monday by Nicci French (see post) - public library
61. Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole (post in progress) - Netgalley
60. Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa by Benjamin Constable (see post) - Netgalley
59. Of Poseidon by Anna Banks (see post) - Sync free audiobook program
58. A Fatal Likeness by Lynn Shepherd (see post) - Netgalley

I gave up on -
Afloat by Erin Healy, but I'm counting it as a read book because I read about 140 pages before I gave up on the book.  Afloat is a strange combination of Christian fiction and supernatural suspense that highlights the irritating (to me) aspects of both the genres.  I gave up on it once (somewhere around page 90), but then had second thoughts.  I hoped a different day might give me a different perspective on the book.  Unfortunately that was not the case and I ended up throwing in the towel after I got to the end of chapter 16.

Books bought and/or acquired in July1

- Echo A La Mode by Echo Chernik (purchased via Kickstarter)
- Maurine and Thérèse by Patrick Ahern (purchased at G. Siccardi & Family)
- Orgasmic by Rachel Kramer Bussel (gift from Russell, which I'm sure was purchased at Amazon)
- Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves (purchased for half price at the Strand)
- A hand-me-down mitten pattern book from an acquaintance

Notes from the field
or, the not-so-secret travels of BookCrossing books

(see this post for more information about this feature)

- this copy of Into the Wild was traded on Paperback Swap. It was sent from Florida, where it's been since November 2007, to a new reader in Washington state.

2013 (so far) in Books

books finished / abandoned - 69 / 5
- library books - 20 (18 finished, 2 abandoned)
- review copies - 33 (31 finished, 2 abandoned
- personal copies - 13 (12 finished, 1 abandoned)
- bookcrossing books - 5
- borrowed copies - 2
- non-review ebooks / e-audiobooks- 2

books purchased
- for self - 13
- as gifts - 5

books (physical) otherwise acquired
- as gifts - 4
- via BookMooch - 2

- books read - 5
- books registered - 1
- books wild-released - 11

  1. E-books don't count here because (1) I don't buy them and (2) they are substantially more transitory that the physical specimens.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

dust jackets, binge reading, and counting chickens

My blog-related resolution for 2013 was to post at least something about every book that I read this year, preferably immediately or shortly after I either finish or officially give up on it. I failed pretty miserably at it during the first six months of the year, but I was on quite a roll this month (even sneaking in an on-topic review of a book read earlier in the year). I felt so good about the groove I'd gotten in that I started counting my chickens before they'd hatched.

Last week was one of those crazy weeks where all different sorts of problems pile up on you all at once. It was made even more unbearable by the heatwave our region has been under. Even if I hadn't begun floundering, I would have dropped the ball on my review posting last week. At a certain point all I wanted was some comfort reading. Specifically, I wanted to reread The Hunger Games trilogy. Thursday night when I went to pull The Hunger Games off the shelf though, I found lined up on the shelf Mockingjay, Catching Fire, and an empty The Hunger Games dust jacket. Now it isn't too uncommon for there to be empty dust jackets on my shelves because I prefer to read hardcover books naked1 when possible. I'm also quite lax about putting my books away. Of course I couldn't find the book in any of the logical places. As I was looking for it I grew so irritated with myself that I actually started reuniting some of my other naked hardcovers with their dust jackets.

Luckily Russell managed to find my naked copy of The Hunger Games on Friday because the high temperatures have left me indoors and growing increasingly stir crazy this weekend. I haven't wanted to knit or do much of anything else so I've just been binge reading the entire series. I just finished Mockingjay and I'm at a bit of a loss again. But by writing this post, I've made progress toward getting back on track with my resolution. I've now posted about 7 out of the 9 books I've read so far this month. Somehow that sounds much better than 4 out of 6.
  1. I mean, without their dust jackets.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Blue Monday by Nicci French

Blue Monday by Nicci French
series: Frieda Klein (1)

At the public library I usually select books from the new acquisitions areas. Last time I was at my local branch looking for books I happened upon Nicci French's Tuesday's Gone in the adult fiction new titles section. It seemed intriguing, but it was obviously part of a series so I decided to see if the first installment was available. It was.

Blue Monday is the first in the fairly new1 mystery (psychological thriller) series starring Frieda Klein, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. It's action revolves around the kidnapping of of five-year-old boy, which echoes a similar crime from 22 years earlier.  When Frieda Klein begins to suspect that one of new patients may be implicated in the crime, she decides that she must give what information she has to the police. DCI Karlsson has little use for such unsubstantiated claims, but he decides to follow up on the lead anyway when Klein suggests there may also be a tenuous link to the earlier crime.  Once he appreciates the usefulness of her skill set, Karlsson asks Klein to consult on the case.  As she gets more personally invested in the case, Klein starts working on it independently. 

All is all, I think Blue Monday is a promising start to a series. The protagonist as psychoanalyst invites all sorts of possibilities in terms of crimes perpetrated and methods of investigation.  The author(s)2 have included a nice variety of significant secondary characters that will no doubt be involved in both side stories and the main action in future installments.  They've also hinted at a complicated backstory for Klein.

I won't say too much more about the plot of the novel itself for fear of including spoilers, but I will say that I found the realization of the ending was particularly creepy even though it was just a confirmation of something I already suspected.
  1. Blue Monday was published in 2011 in the UK. The series' third installment, Waiting for Wednesday, is not yet available in the US.
  2. Nicci French is actually a husband-wife writing team.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Artists in the Archives Exhibit at the Greenburgh Public Library

Recently I had a chance to check out Artists in the Archives: A Collection of Card Catalogs at the Greenburgh (NY) Public Library. There was a New York Times article about the exhibit, but I first learned about it when Artists in the Archives was featured on the Library as Incubator blog (post 1; post 2).

The exhibit is on display from April through September 2013 on the second floor of the library's gorgeous new (as of 2009) green building.  Here's how Artists in the Archives is described on the library website:
More than 85 artists, poets, writers, musicians, librarians and creative thinkers have contributed to the collection of art contained in the drawers of library card catalogs on display on the library's second floor. (exhibits page)
The exhibit consists of three separate installations:  "Book Marks" by Barbara Page, one artist, one card catalog; "The 'Alternet'" by Carla Rae Johnson, over 70 artists, one card catalog; and "The Call to Everyone" by JoAnne Wilcox, one card catalog for everyone.  Artists in the  Archives is a very friendly, hands-on exhibit -- notice how all the labels say "Browsing Welcome."  I took lots of photos.

The exhibit had a that encouraged visitors to leave feedback. I was happy to oblige.

I'll start my overview of the exhibit with "Book Marks," which was my least favorite of the three.  "Book Marks" was the least interactive of the installations as it was fully contained within a glass exhibit case.  The glass also made it difficult to photograph (the black and white pattern evidenced in the pair of close-ups is the shirt I was wearing reflected in the glass).

Rather than catalog cards, artist Barbara Page's project utilized book cards, the kind that lived in pockets in the back of library books prior to the computerization of libraries.  As you can see in the image above, the installation included a card file, but it lacks the rod used to tether catalog cards to the drawer.

I assume that the reason the installation encased precisely because her altered cards would be particularly easy to steal otherwise.1 I liked looking at Page's work and seeing how the text on the individual cards inspired her art, but this installation was destined to play 3rd fiddle to the others simply because it disallowed participation while the others encouraged it.

When I arrived at the exhibit, "The 'Alternet'" installation looked just as it is pictured on the left. Two the drawers had been left out on one of the cabinet's built-in trays, evidence of a previous visitor's interaction with the installation.

Each of the drawers of this large cabinet were labeled with individuals names (one or two to a drawer).  Those labels indicate the artists whose work is contained within each drawer (50 drawers, 70 artists, including the organizer Carla Rae Johnson).  The work within the card catalog as a whole is varied.  Some cards are drawn or painted upon.  Others have photographs or other printed material affixed to them.  And others have been augmented by three-dimensional objects.

The image above shows three of the drawers open to a random location.  The drawers are not in any order in the cabinet and I have to admit that I had to resist the urge to arrange them all alphabetically by the authors' last names.  Below are close-ups of a couple of cards that I especially liked.  I stupidly did not take note of the artists and I can't even make out the name on the visible label (especially not without a full list of contributor names to work from).2  

There is a Facebook group for "The 'Alternet'"(link).  I did try to suss out appropriate attribution by going through its many photo albums, but I didn't find an exact match and am not confident enough to even list a possible author for each of the cards.  I am planning to visit the exhibit again and when I do, I will attempt to locate these two cards again and take note of their authorship.

When I first started exploring the exhibit, "The Call to Everyone" installation seemed the least appealing to me.  It consisted of a 25-drawer catalog card cabinet (drawers labeled traditionally) with a 4-drawer card file on top.  There were also a few stamps and stamp pads scattered across their surfaces.  The cabinet contained catalog cards, but most of them were not altered like the ones featured in "The 'Alternet'" installation.  The card file contained loose, unaltered catalog cards.

Of course I hadn't bothered to read the installation's label before I started digging into the drawers. The label explained that "The Call to Everyone" was the most participatory of the installations and encouraged visitors to select four cards (presumably from the card file), alter them with images taken with their cell phone cameras, and return them to the library for inclusion in the installation (presumably in the cabinet). It directed interested parties to www.thecalltoeveryone.com, where further instructions would be available.  The purpose of the stamps and stamp pads also became clear.  You can see how I used one of them below.

I selected my four catalog cards (pictured below) and I have every intention of becoming a full participant in the installation. I already have specific ideas for appropriate images for two of the cards.3 I chose the other two because I was confident that I'd be able to figure out something that'd go along with their content.


Expect another post when I've altered my cards and have returned them to the library.

  1. For what it's worth, ALL of the altered cards in the other installations could be stolen fairly easily and I'm not just saying this because my library still has a card catalog. Figuring out how to remove a drawer's rod is not rocket science. 
  2.  I didn't manage to snap an image of "The 'Alternet'"'s label, which did have the list of names, either.
  3.  Russell groaned when I told him where I needed to go in order to take one of them so I may be in for a solo irritating traffic-filled excursion in the near future.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa by Benjamin Constable

Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa by Benjamin Constable
Ever since writing was invented, people have been documenting the contents of their brains, giving names to ideas, noting their dreams, and distorting their memories and making up new ones. Lifetimes of scribbling, and oceans of ink. Whole forests of trees reduced to pulp for us to collect our words. What if nobody reads them? I think we write to be read, even if we tell ourselves we don't. But the vast majority of everything written fails in its most basic purpose and has never been read by another. Where are you to read my works, Tomomi Ishikawa? Are we talking to ourselves? (175)
One day Benjamin Constable, a 38-year-old Brit living in Paris, comes home to find a letter from his friend Tomomi (Butterfly) Ishikawa, an American expatriate, slipped underneath the door of his apartment. In that letter, Butterfly informs Ben that she's committed suicide and that he is "the inheritor of a thing, or many things, [she's] been making for years, since long before [she] knew of [his] existence--since [her] childhood, in fact" (21). Ben follows a series of clues that lead him to places in Paris and later New York that had special meaning to Butterfly. The more clues Ben follows, the more he learns about his friend. If the disturbing tales contained in the series of notebooks Butterfly left for him to find are any indication, Ben didn't know her well at all.

Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa is a difficult book to describe. Horrifying and playful are the first two adjectives that come to mind. If I had to categorize it, I'd call is a literary psychological thriller.  It is also a bit of a love letter to both Paris and New York City.

In a way I think Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa may be more about the process of writing than it is about anything else, or rather the tension between fact and fiction that is inherent in writing, autobiographical or not. Butterfly's clues and the way they are presented to him make Ben question the truth of what he is being told. Constable forces his readers to experience that same uncertainty by making himself the protagonist in his debut novel.

The novel is compelling, but I can't say that I enjoyed reading it.  After a certain point,1 I dreaded picking it back up again each time I set it down. Though early on in the novel, I imagined how wonderful it would be to be in Paris with Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa as a guidebook.2 I also didn't quite care for the ending, though I understand why Constable decided to end it the way that he did.3

I can imagine Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa being the source of a particularly fruitful undergraduate literature seminar discussion.

I had to include a featured word, because I love how Constable defined tickety-boo within the narrative:
'Yes, it's British English. It means everything is running perfectly, or according to plan, and portrays a sense of contentedness with the current situation.' (173)
  1. The discovery of the first notebook and the revelation of its contents.
  2. While I live close enough to New York City to use Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa as a guide to some of its special places, the combination of the summer weather we are experiencing now (I can't even imagine tromping around the city in this heat) and the onset of the horrifying aspect of the novel put me off the idea.
  3. To leave room for the uncertainty of which he seems so fond.
disclosure: I received a review copy of Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa from Gallery Books (Simon and Schuster) via NetGalley.

Friday, July 05, 2013

summer reading with memaids

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama (source: public library)

In the early 1870s in Plymouth, Massachusetts, a mermaid named Syrenka falls in love with a young naturalist and decides to give up her immortality for a life on land with him. In modern day Plymouth, 17-year-old Hester disdains love because generations of her female ancestors (including her own mother) have died shortly after the birth of their first child. It is only after Hester meets the magnetic Ezra that she realizes just how naive her romance-avoidance plan was. At the suggestion of Ezra, Hester begins to research her family history in the hope of determining the true cause of the postpartum deaths and whether there's a way she can avoid her own.

Monstrous Beauty is dark and Fama's mermaids are monstrous (in case that wasn't obvious from the novel's title). There's lots of nice historical detail for the historical fiction fan though. In addition to the sections that take place in the 19th century, Hester is also an interpreter in the 17th century English village at Plimoth Plantation, where they do first person interpretation.

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks (source: Sync)
series: Syrena Legacy (1)

While there is a disturbing scene early in Of Poseidon, the novel is is much more of a standard YA paranormal romance than Monstrous Beauty. Its mermaids (who don't like the term "mermaid") are decidedly human-like, though they are thick-skinned and hot tempered, with a society more patriarchal than current western tastes would support.

One interesting (to me) thing about the mermaid-culture in Of Poseidon is that the mermaid's have archives.  Their archives are individuals who serve as the collected memory of the people.

I liked Of Poseidon well enough and I'll probably get the sequel (Of Triton) from the library. I had, however, figured out the big reveal that happens at the end of the novel fairly early on.  There was opportunity for second-guessing, but, from the time the mystery is apparent, I was fairly certain of its solution.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

A Fatal Likeness by Lynn Shepherd

source: review copy
A Fatal Likeness by Lynn Shepherd
UK title: A Treacherous Likeness
series: Charles Maddox (3)
forthcoming: August 20, 2013

In the third installment of her literary mystery series featuring thief-taker1 Charles Maddox,2 Shepherd seeks to fill the "inexplicable gaps and strange silences" (8) in the biographical record of the Young Romantics. The action of the novel begins when Charles Maddox is summoned to Sir Percy Shelley (son of Percy Bysshe and Mary) and asked to spy on someone claiming to have some of the famous poet's private papers for sale. The more Maddox learns about the assignment and his clients, the more complicated things begin to seem and the less altruistic their decision to employ him.

In her post-epigraph author's note and the back matter section entitled "Author's Notes and Acknowledgments" Shepherd makes clear that while A Fatal Likeness is fictional, it is based on facts and contemporary accounts. Apparently the author made every attempt to stay true to the various historical personages (primarily the Shelleys, Lord Byron, and Mary Shelley's stepsister Claire Clairmont) and for her suppositions to be plausible based on the evidence that is in the historical record.   In the back matter Shepherd also explains the reasoning behind her decision to attribute certain actions to certain characters or explain a mystery in a certain way. 

While I don't think it is strictly necessary to read the other Charles Maddox books in order to appreciate A Fatal Likeness, I do think it would help. The Shelley-related storyline stands well on its own, but I feel like it is a bit difficult for the reader to connect to Charles Maddox as protagonist in A Fatal Likeness not having the backstory presented in the earlier novels.

I generally enjoy historical fiction centered around historical personages whether well-known or obscure.  I think an author does her readers a disservice, however, when she assumes that they come to her book with significant previous knowledge of her subjects.  I will fully admit to not being familiar with Claire Clairmont and her significance (I almost always read author's notes and the like after I read the body of the text) and I was put off by how Shepherd begins the paragraph following Clairmont's introduction into the narrative: "It is a name that may well be familiar to you, but it means nothing whatsoever to Charles.  And he will not be alone, not in 1850 [...]" (56).

The biggest flaw with A Fatal Likeness is in just how unlikeable Shepherd makes all the historical personages as characters.  I came to the novel with no romantic notions about the individuals featured in it, as I was reading I found myself despising each of them in turns and none more so than the famous Shelleys themselves.  I can only imagine how a reader with a great love of any of this individuals might react to the demonization of one of their heroes. 

I do plan to put the other Charles Maddox books on my to-read list because I did enjoy the writing and style of A Fatal Likeness, if not all its particulars.
  1. detective
  2. After Murder at Mansfield Park and The Solitary House (published as Tom-All-Alone's in the UK, either of which I've read.
disclosure: I received a review copy of A Fatal Likeness from Bantam Dell (Random House) via NetGalley.

Monday, July 01, 2013

June recap and 2013 (so far) in books

Books read in June

57. The Elite by Kiera Cass - public library
56. Blood of the Lamb by Sam Cabot (see post) - Netgalley
55. The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell (see post) - public library
54. Scarlet by Marisa Meyer (see post) - public library
53. Far, Far Away by Tom McNeal (see post)- Netgalley
52. Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld - Netgalley
51. The Way Back to Happiness by Elizabeth Bass - Netgalley
50. The Sweetest Hallelujah by Elaine Hussey - Netgalley
49. Plague in the Mirror by Deborah Noyes - Netgalley
48. Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama (see post) - public library
47. Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts - Netgalley

Books bought and/or acquired in June1

- Already Pretty: Learning to Love Your Body by Learning to Dress it Well by Sally McGraw (purchased 2 copies from Amazon, one for self, one to give)

Notes from the field
or, the not-so-secret travels of BookCrossing books

(see this post for more information about this feature)

- this copy of The Blind Assassin was released at a company picnic in Ontario by a reader who received the book in 2009 and read and enjoyed it in late 2012.
- this copy of Driving Mr. Albert was wild-released at a Panera Bread in North Tonawanda, New York by a reader who got the book (from a different local Panera) in September 2009.
- this copy of The Last Suppers is being wild released on a cross-country road trip by a reader who selected it from a book box last year.
- this copy of Nathaniel's Nutmeg was wild-released at that Panera as well after hanging out with that reader since 2008.

2013 (so far) in Books

books finished / abandoned - 57 / 4
- library books - 18 (16 finished, 2 abandoned)
- review copies - 26 (25 finished, 1 abandoned
- personal copies - 10 (9 finished, 1 abandoned)
- bookcrossing books - 5
- borrowed copies - 2
- non-review ebooks - 1

books purchased
- for self - 10
- as gifts - 5

books (physical) otherwise acquired
- as gifts - 2
- via BookMooch - 2

- books read - 5
- books registered - 1
- books wild-released - 11

  1. E-books don't count here because (1) I don't buy them and (2) they are substantially more transitory that the physical specimens.

Far, Far Away by Tom McNeal

source: review copy
Far, Far Away by Tom McNeal

Jacob Grimm, the eldest of the famous Brothers Grimm, is a troubled soul caught in the Zwischenraum, the place between. After years attempting to discover and resolve "the thing undone" (that which is keeping him in limbo), Jacob learns from another ghost of an Exceptional, one of the few living souls who can hear ghosts speak, and a "Finder of Occasions who would bring harm to the boy" (48). Jacob determines to find the boy and to protect him from the Finder of Occasions.

A social outcast since he admitted, eight years before, to hearing voices, Jeremy Johnson Johnson is struggling with more than a typical fifteen-year-old's problems. His mother is dead and his father's inability to cope has left Jeremy responsible for the management of the household and the family business.

Far, Far Away is filled with references, direct and indirect, to the Grimm Brother's household tales. The novel is listed as "12 and up," which seems appropriate, but I do think it will also appeal to adults, particularly those who enjoy fairy tales and adaptations and/or reimaginings of them.

The pacing of Far, Far Away is slow well through the novel's midpoint, with the author laying the groundwork for the events of its final third.  That final third, though, is well worth the wait. As the narrative turns more Grimm-like there is a wonderful change in atmosphere and an increase in suspense. The fact that the reader knows how things like these tend to turn out in (the Grimm versions of) fairy tales is exploited to great effect by the author.

For what it's worth, as I was reading the novel the pacing didn't bother me at all.  I was engrossed by the relationship between Jacob and Jeremy, and the positive changes that Jeremy (and his friends) seem to be making in his life, that I forgot all about the ominous Finder of Occasions that Jacob warned of at the beginning of his narration.   It was only when that more exciting section of the novel began that the difference became marked.
disclosure: I received a review copy of Far, Far Away from Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House Children's Books) via NetGalley.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

a few multiple POV novels

Or, short reviews of books read during June 2013, part 1

The Blood of the Lamb by Sam Cabot (source: Netgalley)
forthcoming: August 6, 2013

Catholic Church conspiracy thriller with vampires.
The novel is well-written, but its subject matter is divisive. Obviously if you dislike and/or are offended by books of this type, you should give The Blood of the Lamb a miss. Its multiple point-of-view narrative may also turn off some readers (for what it's worth, there's nothing especially problematic about how Cabot handles the various characters and their points of view). Otherwise, I think this cerebral thriller is definitely worth a read. It's written by two people1 who clearly know how to write and, in the context of the novel, the paranormal elements don't seem unrealistic. I particularly recommend The Blood of the Lamb to fans of vampire novels, as I think they'd appreciate Cabot's take on them.

The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell (source: public library)

Debut novel by award-winning screenwriter.
I discovered The Death of Bees while browsing the new arrivals section of my local public library. I was intrigued by the book-flap text, but unsure as to whether I'd like the novel or not. The Death of Bees is dark and gritty (set in a Glasgow housing estate2), but compelling.
I, for one, like multiple POV narratives and I really appreciated how O'Donnell created such distinct voices for her three point-of-view characters: a fifteen-year-old breadwinner, whose straight-A average belies her rough-and-tumble make-it-work attitude about life; her gifted, but maladjusted twelve-year-old sister; and their doddering, Scarlet-Lettered neighbor.

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (source: public library)
series: Lunar Chronicles (2)

Little Red Riding Hood set in a dystopian future.
The sequel to Cinder (see post), Scarlet introduces the eponymous character (and her Wolf) in addition to continuing the overarching story begun in Cinder.
After reading Scarlet, I'm even more keen on this series (the Lunar Chronicles) and recommend it to both adults and young adults who like science fiction, paranormal fiction (romance or not), retellings of fairy tales, dystopian fiction, or any of the above. Cinder is the book that I gave my dad for Father's Day this year and I may try to lure my reluctant-reader-due-to-dyslexia sister with the audiobook.

  1. Sam Cabot is a pseudonym for the writing team of Carlos Dews and S.J. Rozan.
  2. Housing project.  When I read "housing estate" in a British-authored book, my first instinct is not to think of the projects.  "Estate" sounds so much nicer, but I'm sure that's because I don't have the relevant cultural baggage.
More Disclosure: I received a review copy of The Blood of the Lamb from Blue Rider Press (Penguin) via NetGalley.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

May recap and 2013 (so far) in books

Books read in May

46. Glass House 51 by John Hampel (post forthcoming) - Netgalley
45. The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann (see post) - library book
44. Tam Lin by Pamela Dean (see post) - personal copy
43. The 7th Woman by Frederique Molay (post forthcoming) - Netgalley
42. Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans (post forthcoming) - personal copy
41. Codex by Lev Grossman (see post) - Bookcrossing book
40. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain (post forthcoming) - library book
39. Seduction by M.J. Rose (post forthcoming) - Netgalley
38. Ink by Amanda Sun (post forthcoming) - Netgalley

did not finish:
- Tersias the Oracle by G.P. Taylor (personal copy purchased at the Field Library Bookstore)
I gave it the old college try, but it didn't grab me

Books bought and/or acquired in May1

- The Book of Loss by Julith Jedamus (acquired for self via BookMooch)
- Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie (purchased for Russell at the 2013 Washington Irving Book Awards ceremony from The Village Bookstore)
- Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans (purchased at a bricks-and-mortar Barnes and Noble)
- The Orphanmaster by Jean Zimmerman (purchased at the 2013 Washington Irving Book Awards ceremony from The Village Bookstore)
- Still Water Saints by Alex Espinoza (acquired for self via BookMooch)
- The Stockholm Octavo by Karen Engelmann (purchased at the 2013 Washington Irving Book Awards ceremony from The Village Bookstore)
- What Do People Do All Day by Richard Scarry for my youngest nephew (purchased from Amazon)
- A book I'm giving my dad for father's day (purchased at a same B&N)
- A book I'm giving Russell for his birthday (purchased from Amazon)

Notes from the field
or, the not-so-secret travels of BookCrossing books

(see this post for more information about this feature)

- This copy of A Spectacle of Corruption, which I read in May 2006, was reviewed by a reader in Mars, Pennyslvania, who's had it on her shelves since November 2006
- This copy of Winner of the National Book Award was wild released at the Gaithersburg (Maryland) Book Festival by a Bookcrosser who's had it in her possession since December 2011.

2013 (so far) in Books

books finished / abandoned - 46 / 4
- library books - 14 (12 finished, 2 abandoned)
- review copies - 19 (18 finished, 1 abandoned
- personal copies - 10 (9 finished, 1 abandoned)
- bookcrossing books - 5
- borrowed copies - 2
- non-review ebooks - 1

books purchased
- for self - 9
- as gifts - 4

books (physical) otherwise acquired
- as gifts - 2
- via BookMooch - 2

- books read - 5
- books registered - 1
- books wild-released - 11

  1. E-books don't count here because (1) I don't buy them and (2) they are substantially more transitory that the physical specimens.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

public service announcement:
free audio books starting today
Sync is back!

I'm a huge fan of the Sync free-audiobooks-in-summer program, which is administered by AudioFile Magazine and supported by the audiobook publishers1 who make the selections available free of charge during the weeks in which they are featured.   I promote the program because I like it, as a user. 

The most important thing to note, which is not mentioned below,2 is that these books don't expire like the e-audiobooks you get from the library. So, be sure to check in each week to download the books even if you don't think you'll get around to reading them right away.

Sync offers free audiobook downloads of Young Adult and Classic titles this summer!
May 20 - August 21, 2013

Teens and other readers of young adult literature will have the opportunity to listen to bestselling titles and required-reading classics this summer. Each week from May 30 to August 15, Sync will offer two free audiobook downloads.

The audiobook pairings will include a popular YA title and a classic that connects with the YA title's theme and is likely to show up on a student's summer reading lists. For example, Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys, the first book in a bestselling series about a group of teenagers search for the supernatural ley lines, will be paired with the Latino classic of magical realism, Rudolfo Anaya's Bless Me, Ultima.

SYNC Schedule:

May 30 - June 5, 2013
June 6 - June 12, 2013
June 13 - June 19, 2013
June 20 - June 26, 2013
June 27 - July 3, 2013
July 4 - July 10, 2013
July 11 - July 17, 2013
July 18 - July 24, 2013
July 25 - July 31, 2013
Aug 1 - Aug 7, 2013
Aug 8 - Aug 14, 2013
Aug 15 - Aug 21, 2013

Visit Sync's Educators, Librarians, Bloggers page for more information about the program.

  1. AudioGo, Blackstone Audio, Bolinda Audio, Brilliance Audio, ChristianAudio, HarperAudio, L.A. Theatre Works,  Listening Library, Macmillan Audio, Recorded Books, Scholastic Audiobooks, and Tantor Audio as indicated.
  2. An ever so slightly modified version of their press release