Monday, August 31, 2009

Even More Awards!?!

Yes, thanks to all you wonderful people out in the blogisphere I have two more awards to my name and a swanky awards section (yes that's it on the left if you didn't notice all the shiny). Now to pass on the love!

Thanks go to the lovely bloggers, Pixie, Stacey and Jess over at Pager Turners...Under the Covers for my new award. Isn't the award all cool with a hint of punk?

The Award:
Your Blog Rocks Award

What's it all about (Alfie)?:
No specifics of any kind, but I have a feeling it has to do with a blog and it rocking, in some way.

Rules:
Who needs rules!?! I'll nominate 5 though, that sounds like a goodily number.

The Nominees:
Tasha at Another Book Read

Taschima at Bloody Bookaholic

Ashley at Books Obsession

Fantastic Reviewer at Fantastic Book Review

Paradox at Paradoxical

And even more thanks for Zia over at My Life in Not So Many Books who has awarded me the Let's Be Friends Award.

The Award:
Let's Be Friends Awards

What's it all about (Alfie)?:
Blogs that receive the Let’s Be Friends Award are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers.

Rules:
Deliver this award to eight bloggers.

The Nominees:
La Coccinelle at The Lady Bug Reads

The Ravenous Reader at Tales of a Ravenous Reader

Yan at Books By Their Covers

Alexa at Hooked on YA Books

Lauren at Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf

Amber at Must Lust for Books

sugarandgrits at Some of My Favorite Things

Erica at The Book Cellar

Enjoy your awards, they are well earned with all the work you put into your blogs! Until the next time, Auf Vedersein.

Final Day for the 50/50 Competition! THIS COMPETITION NOW CLOSED

Thanks for stopping by, but this competition is now closed, to see the winner go here. Look for a new competition in the coming weeks.

We are just hours away from the announcement of the winner of the lovely Barnes & Noble $25 Gift Card and I thought perhaps those who haven't entered yet might need a little nudge. So here, for the first time (because I haven't said it anywhere else...though I did tell some friends on facebook, but nevermind them) is the disclosure of the "Super Secret Bonus Prize." The thank you, as it were, to all those lovely people who got me to 50 followers!

The full prize pack:
A $25 Gift Card to Barnes & Noble
A copy of Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris, a must for every Biblophile!
A Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Bookmark. Harry has a lot of fans posting on this blog.
A set of Book Darts, great for marking your book without marking your book, if you know what I mean.
An Alice in Wonderland quote magnet
And a beautiful little notebook

All yours if you go and enter the competition right now! I'm accepting entries until 11:59PM TODAY, August 31st, 2009. The winner will be announced at midnight, or shortly thereafter.

Tuesday Tomorrow

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Published by: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: September 1st, 2009
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. "

Today we have two highly anticipated books to look forward too. THE BOOK everyone has been waiting all summer for is out. Catching Fire is the second book in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I'm sure you've had your calendar marked with a little mocking jay symbol awaiting the hour the bookstore opens and you can get all your questions answered. What will happen when Katniss sees Gale for the first time? Is a rebellion really afoot? What will the Capital do to Peeta and Katniss for revenge? Too many questions and hopefully some will be answered before Suzanne Collins leaves us begging for more when Catching Fire draws to a close on page 400! To tide you over while you are (hopefully) waiting for my review, I will be posting my review of The Hunger Games on Wednesday. I bet you can't wait can you? Or are you just hanging out to see if you won my contest so that you'll have some money to go buy the book with...

Must Love Hellhounds by Charlaine Harris, et al.
Published by: Berkley Trade
Publication Date: September 1st, 2009
Format: Paperback, 368 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Four well-known fantasy writers bring magical dogs into the plots of otherwise standard paranormal novellas. Harris's urban fantasy, “The Britlingens Go to Hell,” pits bodyguards Batanya and Clovache against demons, wolfwomen and two hellhounds guarding some unusual prisoners. In Singh's paranormal romance, “Angels' Judgment,” vampire trackers Sara and Deacon must discover who is murdering vampires; one suspect owns a hellhound. In Andrews's sexy “Magic Mourns,” Andrea, a knight who helps people with magic problems, links with a shape-shifter to find a stolen corpse, but first they must get by a three-headed dog. In Brook's page-turning romance “Blind Spot,” Maggie Wren, CIA operative turned vampire's personal assistant, teams up with a hellhound to find her boss's kidnapped niece. Only the most obsessive dog fanciers will be really enthralled by the passing mentions of canines."

The second book is Must Love Hellhounds, which contains four new short stories, one of which is by Charlaine Harris, set in the Sookie universe. Her story centers on the Britlingens, the bizarre body guards we first saw when Sookie took a road trip up toward Chicago in All Together Dead, the seventh Sookie Stackhouse novel. Their interesting abilities to slid between dimensions should make this a story not to be missed. The other three authors are Ilona Andrews who writes the Kate Daniels Magic books, Meljean Brook who writes The Gaurdians books and Nalini Singh most known for her Pys-Changeling paranormal romances. So be sure to check this one out!

Friday, August 28, 2009

The 50/50 Competition Continues! THIS COMPETITION NOW CLOSED

Thanks for stopping by, but this competition is now closed, to see the winner go here. Look for a new competition in the coming weeks.

The 50th Post Competition, now renamed the 50/50 Competition continues! That's right, thanks to you wonderful folks I hit my 50 followers goal! Thank you all, you know there's a special place for you all in the great library of my dreams. But remember, if you haven't entered yet you still have the weekend to be in with a chance to win the $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble! PLUS the super secret, I've hit 50 followers bonus prize. So go enter already! Already entered you say? Find some family members or friends who like books who might be willing to share. Good luck to you all, the contest ends at 11:59PM CST on Monday, August 31st, winning entries will be posted at midnight, or shortly thereafter.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Book Review - Terry Pratchett's Hogfather

Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
Published by: Harper Torch
Publication Date: 1996
Format: Paperback, 354 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

In the 20th installment of Terry Pratchett's Discworld, we once again see old friends and meet some new acquaintances. Though perhaps I should have read this in December, seeing as it's about Hogswatch, Discworld's equivalent to Christmas, I still found it vastly enjoyable during the summer heat. The rouges gallery that Pratchett has assembled for us this time around are the Wizards of UU (that's Unseen University to those not in the know), DEATH, his granddaughter Susan, various other holiday or occupational manifestations in corporeal form, the assassin Mister Teatime (pronounced Teh-ah-tim-eh) and some inept villains, I would say thieves, but they are not licensed.

The core of the book is about belief. What would happen if someone was actually able to kill Santa Clause/The Fat Man/The Hogfather, insert name here, by destroying belief? Could the world actually function if The Hogfather died and what would happen with the extra belief that then seeped into the world? Would random manifestations like a Veruca Goblin or a God of Hangovers actually come into or back into existance to fill the void? Do we, as humans really need to believe the more fantastical lies of youth in order to function later in life? What I find wonderful about Terry Pratchett is that while his books have a flawless veneer of humor that may have you laughing out loud, he truly understands human nature.

I also find it fascinating that, like Neil Gaiman, he tackles the issues of what happens to gods over time. While in American Gods, Neil Gaiman has the new gods and the old gods battle it out for their piece of belief, whereas in Hogfather, we have old gods who do new jobs. Just because The Hogfather is all modern and Santa-esque with the sleigh pulled by giant pigs in his red kit doesn't mean that before that or even at the same time he's from an older age of blood and ice and fire. You need to evolve with faith and belief not to be outmoded and made obsolete.

Finally I would just like to say I think Susan is perfectly matched against Mister Teatime. She is no nonsense, monsters who threaten her or her charges will get the poker. I kind of admire her for her take no prisoners, nothing can faze me attitude, though having DEATH as your granddad probably teaches you the harsh realities rather fast. Against her Pratchett has placed Mister Teatime "who saw things differently from other people, and one of the ways that he saw things differently from other people was in seeing other people as things." A terrifying assassin who's own guild is trying to oust him. The struggle between the two is a great read, but it should be no surprise as to who wins in the end.

So go out and read this book! In fact, read all of Discworld, it's a place striding across time and space on the backs of four giant elephants atop the space turtle Great A'Tuin, that you'll want to stay in for quite awhile, and luckily for you as of October there are 37 novels in that wondrous land.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

And the Award Goes to...

Me! Who'd you expect? (But you might have a little something coming your way...) I'd very much like to thank Misty over at Book Rat for this lovely summery themed Lemonade Award, pretty and thirst quenching, I kid you not. Go check out her site, it's pretty darn awesome, though perhaps she should be reprimanded for introducing me to Better World Books (mmmm more books), and help her get some more followers, everyone needs followers!

The Award:
Lemonade Award!

What's it all about (Alfie)?:
The Lemonade Award is for sites which show great attitude and/or attitude!

Rules:

1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!
3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Nominate your favorites and link to this post.

The Nominees:
Esme at Chocolate & Croissants, Writings About Cooking, Travel, Everything French

Pixie, Stacey and Jess at Page Turners...Better Underneath the Covers

Austenfan at Reality Bites, Fiction Does it Better

Abby at Abby (the) Librarian

Genevieve at Genevieve's Blog...Something Bookish

Briana at The Book Pixie

Meghan at Meghan's Book Blog

Liyana at LiyanaLand!

Book Butterfly at The Book Butterfly

Yan at Books By Their Cover

Also, because I'm so lazy, I won another award, the very sweet Humane Award, awhile back from the lovely Kristen over at Bookworming in the 21st Century but have yet to post it or spread the love. So more nominations for my fellow bloggers and book buddies, many from goodreads!

The Award:
The Humane Award

What's it all about (Alfie)?:
Is to honor certain bloggers that are kindhearted individuals. They regularly take part in my blog and always leave the sweetest comments. If it wasn't for them, my site would just be an ordinary book review blog. Their blogs are also amazing and are tastefully done on a daily basis. This award is to thank them for their growing friendships through the blog world.

Rules:
I didn't get a number as to how many, so I'm just doing my five favourites!

The Nominees:
April at Good Books & Good Wine, you get an award!

Misty at Book Rat, you get an award!

Kate at The Neverending Shelf, you get an award!

Erica at The Book Cellar, you get an award!

Susan at Well-Mannered Frivolity, you get an award!

Well, I bet you're all exhausted after that lengthy awards ceremony, that Martha Graham dance number inspired by the complete works of the Russian masters was unique...but I hope you are all leaving happy and have found some new blogs to follow (after mine of course). Also don't forget my 50th Post Competition is running till the end of the month and it really looks like I'm going to hit 50 followers, so I'll have to think of something really cool and special for the winner (rubs hands together diabolically with slight maniacal laugh).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tuesday Tomorrow

Hunting Ground: Alpha and Omega Book Two by Patricia Briggs
Published by: Ace
Publication Date: August 25th, 2009
Format: Paperback, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Mated to werewolf Charles Cornick, the son—and enforcer—of the leader of the North American werewolves, Anna Latham now knows how dangerous being a werewolf is, especially when a werewolf opposes Charles and his father is struck down. Charles's reputation makes him the prime suspect, and the penalty for the crime is execution. Now Anna and Charles must combine their talents to hunt down the real killer—or Charles will take the fall."

Mercy Thompson: Homecoming by Patricia Briggs
Published by: Del Ray/Dabel Brothers
Publication Date: August 25th, 2009
Format: Hardcover, 112 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Mercy Thompson is a walker, a magical being with the power to transform into a coyote. She lives on the fine line dividing the everyday world from a darker dimension, observing the supernatural community while standing apart.

When Mercy travels to the Tri-Cities of Washington for a job interview, she quickly finds herself smack-dab in the middle of a gang war between rival packs of werewolves. And as if fangs and fur weren’t bad enough, Mercy must deal with the scariest creature of all: her mother, who is convinced that Mercy is making a mess of her life and determined to set her daughter on the right course.

The thrilling adventures of Mercy Thompson–Moon Called, Blood Bound, and Iron Kissed–have topped the New York Times bestseller list. Now Mercy makes her comics debut in an exclusive new story created by Patricia Briggs. Mercy Thompson: Homecoming is sure to please longtime fans and capture new ones with its mix of unforgettable characters and thrilling supernatural intrigue."

So tomorrow is a Patricia Briggs double header. Patricia is best known for her Mercy Thompson series that has drawn comparisons to authors like Charlaine Harris, Charles De Lint and Laurell K. Hamilton. The urban fantasy series concerns Mercy, who is a shifter and a VW mechanic. Hunting Ground, which does not center on Mercy, is set in her world, and is the second in the Alpha and Omega series that started with Cry Wolf, which followed the novella in the On the Prowl anthology. While in Homecoming, Mercy returns, but for the first time she's in comics. This is a prequel to the current Mercy Thompson books and is sure to get Patricia Briggs new readers due to the fact a person hesitant to pick up a book might pick up a comic. This was recently done by Jim Butcher with his Harry Dresden books and it's nice to see that publishers are willing to try new things to get more readers for these great authors. So if you're already a fan, or are in need of some similar reads while waiting for Dead in the Family, be sure to check out the world of Mercy Thompson, you won't be disappointed!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

50th Post Competition! THIS COMPETITION NOW CLOSED

Thanks for stopping by, but this competition is now closed, to see the winner go here. Look for a new competition in the coming weeks.

So this here post, the one you are reading right now, at least I hope you are reading it, is officially my 50th post. To commemorate this wondrous feat (at least to me), I am announcing my first ever competition! I've been storing up book swag and loot for awhile now and have been waiting for a suitably grand occasion. Right now you are probably thinking, whatever the occasion, just get to the prizes, and I'm getting there...so prizes you asked? You probably guessed it by the lovely picture above, but the prize is a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble! You know you want it! All those books you could get....Now onto "THE RULES."

The Rules:
1. Open to EVERYONE, just because you haven't been following me all along doesn't mean you don't matter.
2. Please make sure I have a way to contact you if your name is drawn, either your blogger profile or a link to your website/blog or you could even include your email address with your comment(s).
3. Contest ends Monday, August 31st at 11:59PM CST
4. How to enter:

Answer me this: In honor of the end of summer and the beginning of another school year...What is your favorite Summer Read? Doesn't have to have been read this summer, but what book evokes the true spirit of summer to you? Harry Potter perhaps? Charlotte's Web by chance? A thriller verses a classic? A true beach read? I want to know!

5. And for those addicted to getting extra entries:

  • +1 for answering the question above
  • +2 for becoming a follower
  • +5 if you are already a follower (yes you lucky 5 people you!)
  • +10 for each time you advertise this contest - blog post, sidebar, twitter (please @MzLizard), etc. Also please leave a link!
Also, as extra special incentive...if, by some great stroke of luck I hit 50 followers, which really is beyond my wildest dreams, I will include something extra. I little bookaholic surprise if you will....Good luck and I can't wait to read you answers!

Bloody Bookaholic Contest

Taschima over at Bloody Bookaholic is having an amazing competition entitled "The Mega Palooza Contest." There is literally a plethora of books she's giving away to three lucky people, who will get 7, 3 or 1 book(s) from the goodie bag.

Prizes:

- Signed copy of Dreaming Anastasia + Goodies
- Hardback Another Faust
- Hardback Prophecy of the Sisters
- ARC Eyes Like Stars + Backstage Pass Bracelet and some Theater-Theme Swag
- ARC The Dark Divine
- ARC Hush Hush
- ARC Give Up The Ghost
- ARC Ash
- ARC Behind Every Illusion
- ARC Shiver
- ARC The Demon's Lexicon
- ARC Betraying Season
- ARC Any Given Doomsday
- Dead Until Dark
- Gossip Girl 1st Book
- The Black Tatto + poster
- Vampire Academy
- Frost Bite, a Vampire Academy Novel
- Shadow Kiss, a Vampire Academy Novel
- Blood Promise, a Vampire Academy Novel

So go check out her website and hopefully win some loot! Book swag is good swag.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Movie Review - The Time Traveler's Wife

The Time Traveler's Wife
Based on the book by: Audrey Niffenegger
Release Date: August 14th, 2009
Starring: Rachel McAdams, Eric Bana, Ron Livingston
Rating: ★★

I must first preface my review with this, I hated the book. I wanted to like it, really I did, but I hated the characters, I hated every single thing about them and at times I found the book verging on the creepy. I know many people will disagree with me, that's fine, that's your opinion, I'm just telling you the facts so you know where I come from in reviewing this adaptation. Anyway, you might find it odd, as a hater of the book, that I willingly went to the movie. Well...I was hoping that some of the issues I had with the book would be ironed out in the process of adapting it, plus I love Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana. I was partially right, I liked the movie more than the book, but I still have issues.

If you aren't familiar with the plot of the book it's a "dazzling novel in the most untraditional fashion, this is the remarkable story of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who travels involuntarily through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare's passionate love affair endures across a sea of time and captures the two lovers in an impossibly romantic trap, and it is Audrey Niffenegger's cinematic storytelling that makes the novel's unconventional chronology so vibrantly triumphant." In other words, Clare has always known Henry, from when she was young, and knew that they would eventually be together while Henry jumps about in time. Epic romance, yaddayadda. The predestination, yeah, it's kind of sweet, put also kind of creepy. Clare's been in love with an older version of Henry and when they finally meet for the first time in his chronology she has to re-adjust to young Henry. It all has a bit of the ick factor with two peoples chronologies being all messed up with each other, an older version of Henry actually marrying Clare because the current Henry has gone elsewhere.

But what about the adaptation? The bones of the book are there, but I think they didn't explain themselves enough. You were kind of thrown right into the story, and in the book, which is written with Clare and Henry being duel narrators to ease the narrative transitions, this is gone in the movie. Instead you get kind of a mash up of everything without any explanation. In fact I was thinking due to the diary nature of the book I'm surprised they didn't employ some voice over narration, which would have fixed some of the bumps. They never go into the why these two people, why certain places, times, events, or what really is the cause. There is no questioning and it's just either as a viewer you have to accept it and move on or go read the book. As Ebert said: "They deal with these difficulties by not dealing with them at all." Also everything seems kind of drained of emotion, it's very wooden almost, which I blame on the director, because I have seen these two act well, Slings and Arrows anyone? Also there where little funny parts, like with the lottery ticket...which were the only scenes where you could really see the actors connecting. I think it needed some more infusion of dark humor. Just because this is a timeless love story that is destined to end doesn't mean you can't have a laugh.

In the end the thing that annoyed me most is that the two of them were so insulated in their own little world. Their families take on background roles. Clare's childhood home, which is a character onto itself in the book is just a place. Plus this is set in Chicago, could we get some nice cinematic shots of the city occasionally? In the end, they took so much away, emotion, familial connections, location, that you are left with this little microcosm of two people who have been almost taken out of time, and that doesn't work. While Henry IS a man out of time, Clare is very much living her life linearly, and they did not successfully convey this feeling of her isolation and loneliness. She is separated from Henry but not the rest of the world. She must face the world on a day to day basis uncertain of Henry's fate, and this central concept was lost in the movie.

As a final note, it's not surprising to me that the movie is 36% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. If you were a fan of the book you are probably pissed at all that was omitted. And if you weren't a fan, there's nothing really there to engage you. Final note, the few things omitted that I'm glad about. They didn't make Gomez nearly as creepy or letching on Clare as in the book. Also Henry's self-love as a teenager, really glad that was gone too.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tuesday Tomorrow

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
Published by: Touchstone
Publication Date: August 18th, 2009
Format: Hardcover, 432 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"
Brother turns on brother to win the ultimate prize, the throne of England, in this dazzling account of the wars of the Plantagenets. They are the claimants and kings who ruled England before the Tudors, and now Philippa Gregory brings them to life through the dramatic and intimate stories of the secret players: the indomitable women, starting with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.

The White Queen tells the story of a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition who, catching the eye of the newly crowned boy king, marries him in secret and ascends to royalty. While Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the missing princes in the Tower of London whose fate is still unknown. From her uniquely qualified perspective, Philippa Gregory explores this most famous unsolved mystery of English history, informed by impeccable research and framed by her inimitable storytelling skills."

You have probably heard of Philippa Gregory, if just for the fact that her book, The Other Boleyn, was made into a big budget movie staring Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman and Eric Bana. Whether you liked the movie or not, her historical fiction should be read and enjoyed for itself. While most of her books surround the Tudors in the 16th century, The Other Boleyn included, The White Queen marks the beginning of a new series surrounding the Plantagenent's in the 15th century, during the War of the Roses. The Plantagenent's were the rulers of England until the War of the Roses marked the end of their dynasty and the beginning of the reign of the Tudors. I'm looking forward to this book, because while loosely linked to her most popular series, we are in for a treat of new characters and new perspectives. Plus perhaps a supposition from the author, in her capacity as scholar and storyteller, as to what really happened to the two princes in the tower. Philippa Gregory will be touring the United States to promote this book so if you have a chance go out and catch an appearance, I sure hope to.

Tour Dates:
BOSTON, MA:
Monday, September 14th at 7:00pm
B & N College event @ Tsai Performance Center (Boston University, 685 Commonwealth Ave, Boston MA 02215)
**Price tba for VIP seating tickets, no ticket price for regular seating.

PRINCETON, NJ:
Tuesday, September 15th at 7:00pm
Princeton Public Library @ Nassau Presbyterian Church (Princeton University, 61 Nassau St, Princeton, NJ 08542)
**Tickets $10 in advance for priority seating, no ticket price for regular seating.

BROOKLYN, NY:
Wednesday, September 16th at 11:00am
Berkeley Carroll Upper School (181 Lincoln Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217)
**Private event for students and faculty only.

NEW YORK, NY:
Wednesday, September 16th at 7:00pm
Barnes & Noble (150 East 86th Street, NY, NY 10028)

TORONTO, ON
September 17th at 7.00pm. Indigo Books @ Royal St. George’s College, 120 Howland Avenue. Tickets $5 at ticketweb.ca or 1.888.222.6608

CHICAGO, IL:
Saturday, September 19th at 1:30pm
Anderson’s Bookshop @ Tivoli Theatre (5021 Highland Avenue, Downers Grove, IL 60515)
**The event will be ticketed (price tba) with the book as part of the purchase.

ATLANTA, GA:
Monday, September 21st at 7:00pm
GA Center for the Book @ Decatur Presbyterian Church (205 Sycamore St, Decatur, GA 30030)

HOUSTON, TX:
Wednesday, September 23rd at 7:00pm
Blue Willow Books (University of Houston Sugarland, 14000 University Blvd, Sugarland, TX, 77479)
** Ticket price tba (will not include cost of book).

SEATTLE, WA:
Saturday, September 26th at 4:00pm
West Sound Reads @ Bremerton High School (1500 13th Street, Bremerton, WA 98337)
**The event is free, but will reserve preferential seating with the advance purchase of the book from the participating bookstores. The stores will issue 2 tickets for each book purchase.

VICTORIA, BC
September 28th at 7:30 pm. Bolen Books @ Alix Goolden Performance Hall, 907 Pandora Avenue. Tickets $10 at Bolen Books ($5 towards purchase of book).

LOS ANGELES, CA:
Thursday, October 1st at 11:00am
LA Public Library – Library Foundation Council luncheon (Regency Club, 10900 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles CA, 90024)
**Private event for Library Foundation Council.

Friday, August 14, 2009

To Kindle or Not to Kindle?

To Kindle or not to Kindle, that is the question. It could be the end of proper publishing or the beginning of more wide spread dissemination of literature to those less likely to pick up a book and more likely to have an iphone. I will just have to see, I am new to the Kindle (I just got it for my birthday), but I gotta say, everything ever written by Wilkie Collins for $4.79!?! I'm over the freakin' moon!

My Pros:
Coolest packaging ever! The box is matte black but spirally out from the kindle logo, all done in glossy black, are letters and symbols. So freakin' cool.

Classic books that are out of print or hard to find available for next to nothing because they are in the public domain, ie Wilkie Collins, Baroness Orczy, the Brontes, Jane Austen, the list goes on and on.

Light, compact library in your hands, great for travel.

Books that are almost too heavy to hold, like Richardson's Clarissa, one of the longest novels in the English language, now fits in the palm of your hand for only $1.20.

The screen really does read like real paper. I thought that maybe they were exaggerating, but really, it's amazing.

I love that you can order right on the Kindle or on the Amazon website and it goes straight to the device.

Books that are more trashy or guilty pleasures, almost throw away novels, are easier to get and cheaper. I think the Kindle will lead to an increase in romance sales, being able to automatically download what you might be too embarrassed to get at a counter, obviously a plus.

All the shelf space I will save.

The books are generally cheaper than printed books.

When the Kindle goes to sleep after 10 minutes of inactivity you see awesome pictures of authors, so far I have seen Edgar Allen Poe twice, Thomas Moore twice, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Oscar Wilde, some really cool Roman lady, John Milton, Lewis Carroll, The Book of Kells, I think Dante, Emily Dickinson and finally Jane Austen. And yes, I have been letting it go to sleep to see the pictures, of course I also found by flicking the power switch you can see them too.

If I want to read a book before picking up a signed edition at the events I love to frequent, now I can buy the Kindle version and not have to spend so much money twice.

Cons:
I will probably still be buying printed books and now have double the income drain.

I love printed books, the feel and way they look on your shelf. You don't really get the feel or grandeur of a "library" with Kindle's library.

Being battery powered means that the battery could run out and a printed book never runs out of power.

The move to a paperless world. I would be heartbroken if someday, during my lifetime, that books ceased to be printed and became only available digitally. (Of course this could circumvent the horrible incidents with the Vashta Nerada as seen on Dr. Who...in other words, the only advantage to not having paper books exists in a fictional tv show, ie there is no advantage).

Lack of footnotes. The Kindle is notorious for omitting footnotes. With authors like Lisa Lutz, and in particular Terry Pratchett this is horrific! Some of their best material is in the footnotes.

Not having a hardcopy of a book. Having it only exist in digital format makes me worry about what will happen in the future, when this technology is outmoded, which it will be, what will happen to my "books"?

Slow connection to get the books depending on where you are.

To Sum Up:
I am thrilled with it so far. At first it took a little time getting used to the controls, but they aren't overly complicated at all. I also accidentally voided the first purchase I made and then it took me a few hours to get it back. But I have gotten a wicked lot of classic for almost nothing and I look forward to reading them all. So, I'll have to get back to you all on final thoughts once I play with it and read on it some more, but I would love to hear what you think about this newest form of technology that is sweeping the globe.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Book Review - Elizabeth Peters' Crocodile on the Sandbank

Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters
Published by: Grand Central
Publication Date: 1975
Format: Paperback, 262 Pages
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy

Crocodile on the Sandbank is the first in the beloved Amelia Peabody series. Literally for years every author I love and whose opinions I respect, from Charlaine Harris to Lauren Willig to Colleen Gleason to R.L. LaFevers, have said that these books are dear to their hearts. With so much to recommend it, along with the fact I love Egypt you'd think I'd have picked the series up sooner. Well you'd think that, but sometimes when everyone's on the bandwagon, I like to be over to the side, thinking, I'm sure I won't like it, the covers are so tacky, I'm sure everyone is wrong. Well those days of doubt are over. I love Amelia Peabody! While everyone says, it's basically a female Indiana Jones, I find the writing style is more reminiscent of Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone or The Woman in White, so moody and Victorian.

The book starts with our erstwhile heroine, Amelia, inheriting her fathers estate, which turned out to be quite significant. She's a no-nonsense, parasol wielding, intelligent woman of 32, which makes her think of herself as a spinster. She decides to embark on a grand voyage to see all that she and her father read about in books. From Rome to Egypt, she wants to see it all. She hires herself a companion, one who's a little frail because she likes to mother people, only to have her frailty leave Amelia sans companion by the time she's in Rome. She literally stumbles upon Evelyn, a once wealthy and beautiful girl brought to the verge of suicide by running away with an Italian drawing instructor. Well Amelia doesn't give a fig about the "ruined" label and takes Evelyn on as her companion as they travel to Egypt.

Once in Egypt they encounter the Emerson brothers. The sweet Walter and the gruff yet suspiciously Darcy-esque Radcliffe who are planning on excavating at Amarna on the banks of the Nile. Evelyn and Walter fall instantly and madly in love, though Evelyn vows to never burden Walter by marrying him, due to her despoiling. Before Amelia and Evelyn leave Cairo, Evelyn's cousin, Lucas, arrives to tell her of their Grandfather's death due to the shock of Evelyn leaving. Lucas declares that though he inherited the family fortune because of Evelyn's fall from grace, he would love her to become his wife and share the fortune that should have rightfully been hers. She rejects him but he vows to follow them down the Nile and convince her.

Amelia and Evelyn's journey down the Nile is brought to an abrupt halt when they reach Amarna. Walter meets them and tells them Emerson is deathly sick. Amelia, medical kit in hand saves his life and then saves his archeological discoveries. While Emerson convalesces Amelia is having the time of her life playing at archeologist and Evelyn is having the time of her life with Walter. But strange things start to happen when a mummy is discovered. First it disappears, then the hired locals desert the site saying it's cursed. Finally the mummy starts nighttime perambulations. But this spectre couldn't possibly be supernatural? Could it? And what does it want? Are they to abandon the dig site because it is possessive of it? Or does the mummy really want Evelyn? The strange happenings keep on coming, even after the arrival of Lucas. But despite injury and terror everything works out in the end for our protagonists.

While the plot was predictable to a certain extent and I was able to figure out what was happening long before the characters, this was by no means a flaw. The book is written in such an interesting first person narrative that despite being sure I knew what was going on I was still gripped to the edge of my seat. I found that Evelyn maybe fainted one too many times, but the women are by no means weak, especially if Amelia's parasol is nearby! (This has to be where Lady Gwen gets her parasol in Lauren Willig's books.) I also found it very helpful that I had studied Art History because I knew all about the dig at Amarna and the ruler who believed in the one true God, the Sun. Who knew that I could find such enjoyable entertainment from Ancient to Renaissance Art classes? I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves Egyptology, even if your interest has only been The Mummy movies so far!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Great Finds

Due to the fact that there are no new books being released this week that even mildly interest me I thought that I'd debut a new post entitled "Great Finds." This will be a random post for whenever I've been out battling the book buying hordes and return triumphant from the fray clutching my latest find. The thing with having a severe book buying addiction is to find ways to maximize your resources. Therefore when I buy books from the big box stores I use coupons and wait for the percent off to be great enough to justify the purchase. All other times I shop used. Shopping used is also good for me because a lot of the books I search for are out of print. But, I find, you get a greater joy shopping used, it's like a game or a hunt. Can you find a certain book, at a certain price, in a certain condition. Plus, unlike most bookstores, the inventory is constantly changing, so your chance of success is helped or hindered every week. Plus there are many people out there who will sell and get ride of something you might hold dear. While I tend to think of them as idiots for parting with something that I've been looking for, they probably think of me the same for wanting it.

The things I always look for in used books are condition and quality as well as price. The first thing is overall appearance, does it look in good condition. The second, is the binding still tight and clean, because, even cheap, you want your book to not fall apart. Thirdly, smell. Books have an odor, sometimes musty, sometimes not, but if that book has been around some weird odors it will absorb them, and you don't want the book stinking up your house. Lastly comes the price, because if it's passed all other criteria the price determines if I'll get it. On a rare occurrence price will eliminate it immediately, but, there are always exceptions.... All these reasons are why it's best to buy used books in person, because you really can't determine this over the internet, and people sometimes think you are weird asking questions about how the book smells to them.

So what do I have to crow about this week? Well...I was at Half Priced Books, and someone who was an Arthur Conan Doyle buff must be moving, or just decided they no longer wanted his books, because I got seven of the nine volume Book of the Month Club Sherlock Holmes. Gorgeous hardcovers with wonderful endpapers and fully illustrated. They also look as if they have never been opened let alone read! They were cheaper than paperback editions and I had a 15% off coupon as well. As soon as I get the final two volumes I will, for the first time in my life, have the complete Sherlock Holmes! I also found a great copy of The Bronte Myth by Lucasta Miller at Frugal Muse for only a few dollars, and to think I was going to pay full price!

Friday, August 7, 2009

New West Side Frugal Muse

For the Madisonians who read my blog I have exciting news. The new Frugal Muse opened today! For years Frugal Muse has been hands down the best used bookstore in Madison, and I don't think this is likely to change anytime soon. They have the nicest and most knowledgeable staff, as well as the fastest turnover rate for books, meaning new finds are possible every week. I still fondly recall finding the numbered Penguin Trollope there and hold out hope to one day find the rest, the person who owned the first half has to have the second half and may one day sell it! Their move is still a little bittersweet for me, I loved their old west side location behind Barnes & Noble and next to Westfield Comics. The rambling nature of the store and the feeling you could easily get lost. Their new location next to Old Navy and Target is bigger and sleeker, but I think what makes it work is that the bigger means there's more room for books. So while the old location will still hold a certain nostalgia, the added space for books sways me. If only I could get added space for my books too?

The new location is shaped more like a shoebox and is very logically laid out. The Childrens section seems to be smaller but conveniently located near the registers. But the Young Adult section appears to have expanded, which I am so in favor of. The Mystery and Science Fiction Hardcovers are interestingly nestled within the end of the alphabet in Fiction. The shelves currently have a lot of space left, meaning more books to come! But I think the most important thing about the move being over is that I no longer have my favorite bookstore at half power. The last few months have been depressing seeing the old store slowly being emptied, almost as if they were going out of business. But now that my store is back, all the hours to spend searching the shelves...in fact maybe it's not a good idea the location opened, I have to re-factor in the time suck and the extra shelving needed! Go enjoy perusing the shelves the grand opening is still to come!

Frugal Muse
235 Junction Road (The Prairie Towne Shopping Center next to Old Navy)
608-833-8668
Monday-Saturday 10am-9pm
Sunday 10am-5pm

Jane Austen's Emma - Davies' Dramatization

Back in February the book group I belong to chose Emma by Jane Austen as it's selection. I had not read Emma in over a decade and thought it was long overdue to revisit the inhabitants of Highbury. I had a really hard time getting back into the book, which for me is odd. I love Austen and Emma used to be in the top three (previous Austen ranking being: Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey). I think it's just been too long since I've read this and I'm older and, to an extent, more mature. When I was younger I thought wouldn't it be cool to be Emma trying to control everybody and move them around like her own chess pieces or living dolls. But now that I'm older, no thank you! (She's a little bit of a bitch).

But after the re-reading, I thought lets watch the Andrew Davies adaptation again. I personally favor the Gwyneth Paltrow version with Jeremy Notham and Alan Cumming, but it's Andrew Davies, so it's worth another try. I still did not really like it. The adaptation was enjoyable, and I like seeing my favorite actors but I had some issues (see below for detailed list), also I personally think Andrew Davies' issues with Emma also color the adaptation. He doesn't like Emma and thinks Knightly a creep and Frank Churchill psychotic, and he's got a point. In his introduction to the Emma re-issue by Max Literary Classics, he says flat out Emma is a spoiled brat and that it's plain creepy how Mr. Knightly is attracted to a girl he held in his arms as a baby and was attracted to when she was about 13, making him the Humbert Humbert of his day. This prejudice of his, while I agree is a valid interpretation, leads to Mr. Knightly discussing how he held her as a baby twice in the film, which isn't exactly a romantic thought. But he devotes the majority of his introduction to Frank Churchill, the man who continually insults the woman he loves for all to hear. Traditionally, Jane Fairfax is more of an Austen heroine, she's poor and gets secretly engaged, yet all works out for her...but does it. To marry a man so taciturn and so willing to commit deceit to get what he wants, even if it hurts those he loves, is not exactly a happily ever after. She's really marrying a mental case, I mean at the root here is someone who gave Jane deep pain despite saying he loves her! Also she tries to break it off to no avail. Poor poor Jane. This dislike of Frank also leads to their relationship being a little less romantic in this adaptation and a little more a psychological game.

All in all I don't think there yet exists a perfect version of Emma, but there is hope, the new version will be longer and has a great cast, so cling to that. Till then, this is enjoyable, but not the perfect happiness one would like.

My Main Problems:

Mark Strong as Mr. Knightly. He is a fine actor, but, I'm sorry, even if Mr. Knightly is far older than Emma, a receding hairline is not attractive.

Samantha Morton's wig. She has yet another atrocious wig job, she had quite a few around this period, also she was heavily overused, being in
Tom Jones to Jane Eyre, some working better than others.

Lucy Robinson's accent as Mrs. E. And what the hell is that accent supposed to be? It's like weird posh meets badly done broad American.

It's too rural, with focusing on the chickens and farmers.

Only 90 minutes! At this length the book is done in such broad strokes, yet it seems to randomly jump about, like they weren't sure of how the overall thing worked so it feels patched together.


Things I love:(Or maybe I should have said thing).

The servants! Just watch the poor put upon servants in every scene, they are priceless. From having to carry large furniture up Box Hill to having to provide knee pads so Mr. Knightly's guests can pick strawberries "like in nature". If only nature provided be-wigged footmen holding my fruit picking basket and providing a nice cushion so I wouldn't soil my clothes.

Also for anyone interested my current Austen Ranking is: Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Mansfield Park and Emma.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Book Review - Louise Rennison's Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me, Georgia Nicolson Book 10

Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me? by Louise Rennison
Published by: HarperCollins Childrens (Uk), HarperTeen (US)
Publication Date: June 2009 (UK), October 6th, 2009 (US)
Format: Hardcover, 288 Pages
Rating: ★★★
To Buy (UK)
To Preorder (US)

In the tenth and final installment of Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicholson series, Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me? Georgia is once again on the rack of luurve. I have always been a big supporter of these books with it's witty protagonist and inventive use of the English language, but, I am also glad to say the series has come it's end (in it's current incarnation). This last installment seemed a little stale. Georgia is once again trying to find where she stands with a Luurve God and with Dave the Laugh. But haven't we been here before? The jokes have been used one too many times and the situations are a little frayed around the edges. While we have been spending ten years reading the exploits of Georgie only two years have passed in her world. The lack of time is occasionally frustrating, because the first and second book were the only two with a distinct time lapse, the rest have been under a month! So while it seems Georgie has been on the rack for awhile, it's actually early days for her yet. But I did enjoy the fact that she seems to be gaining some maturiosity. She comes to realize that with a boyfriend like Masimo she doesn't have that much in common other than the snogging, so what do you do with a boyfriend like that? Well how about upgrade to a guy who is not only cute but funny, who you aren't nervous around and who you don't pretend to be someone you're not around and who likes you and thinks you're beautiful? Maybe Dave? We also get to see another hilarious Billy Shakespeare adaptation, this time Rom and Jul, with Georgia playing Merc-Lurk-io. Jas also becomes less of a spaz and tries to be a little less clingy when it comes to Tom. Also was there this much German in earlier books?

The one thought I have is, what would happen to Georgia later in life? While the current teen aspect has run its course what would happen if Louise Rennison decided to relaunch the series later in Georgia's life. This isn't a far fetched idea either. Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend was a huge success in the 80s and later she decided to continue his tale later in his life. He started out as 13 3/4s in 1983 but by 2004 he was 34. I personally think this would work for Georgia, plus she could give Bridget Jones a run for her money, especially seeing as they are making yet another film (why I ask, why!?! The second was awful and in my mind hurt the perfection of the original).

As a final note, I loved the Rowan Atkinson quote (I think it's from Blackadder, but I was also watching The Thin Blue Line recently, so one of those): "You wouldn't get it if it came in a large bag marked IT!"

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tuesday Tomorrow

Bloody Right: Brytewood Book 3 by Georgia Evans
Published by: Kensington
Publication Date: August 4th, 2009
Format: Paperback, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"It will take all of Brytewood's Others to save their village from destruction in the climax of a Georgia Evans' supernatural trilogy.

Gryffyth Pendragon has done his bit for the war effort when he comes back to sleepy Brytewood from the battlefront at Trondheim. It cost him a leg, and his chance to use his dragon's strength against the Nazis—or so he thinks. Until he finds out that his little village is facing a plague of vampire spies set on delivering it to the Third Reich. They've come up with a plan that, if they can pull it off, might break all of Britain's will to fight.

But there are more allies for Gryffyth in Brytewood than he'd ever imagined, and while a doctor, a nurse, a schoolteacher, and a couple of sexagenarians doesn't sound like much of a battle force to him, there's more to his cohorts than meets the eye. Against ancient and impossibly powerful agents of evil, they will need every man, woman, and dragon-shifter they can get."

Bloody Right, the third and possibly final book in the Brytewood series, is released this week. I just picked up the first in the series, Bloody Good,a few weeks ago but have yet to read it. The books drew my attention because of the covers, which I found reminiscent of the Sookie Stackhouse books. I find this is a fair series to be compared to, Brytewood is about vampires after all. Though these supernatural denizens inhabit World War II England and not Bon Temps. The series also fulfills an immediacy need for me, I hate waiting for followup books, and all three books were released this summer, Bloody Good in June, Bloody Awful in July and Bloody Right in August. So if you're in need of some more vampires having read all your Southern Vampire books countless times, check out these new books, they look to be an interesting read. Also be sure to check out the author's, Georgia Evans, website, with lots of fun extras, from contests to bookmarks and signed bookplates! Who really needs the enigma code when evil comes with fangs.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Book Review - Shannon Hale's Forest Born

Forest Born by Shannon Hale
Published by: Bloomsbury
ARC Provided by a Friend
Publication Date: September 15th, 2009
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
Rating: ★★
To Preorder

"Rin is sure that something is wrong with her…something really bad. Something that is keeping her from feeling at home in the Forest homestead where she’s lived all her life. Something that is keeping her from trusting herself with anyone at all. When her brother Razo returns from the city for a visit, she accompanies him to the palace, hoping that she can find peace away from home. But war has come to Bayern again, and Rin is compelled to join the queen and her closest allies—magical girls Rin thinks of as the Fire Sisters—as they venture into the Forest toward Kel, the land where someone seems to want them all dead. Many beloved Bayern characters reappear in this story, but it is Rin’s own journey of discovering how to balance the good and the bad in herself that drives this compelling adventure."

Shannon Hale has been a very busy writer, since her last Bayern book was released in 2006. She has written two adult books, another adaptation of a fairy tale and a graphic novel. But with Forest Born she finally gives us readers what we have been waiting for, a return to Bayern. In this book we follow Rin, Razo's little sister. Her abilities are far different to any of the "fire sisters" we have seen before, which also leads to a new more free flowing, train of thought writing when we are in Rin's mind. We see all the characters we love and learn what has been happening in their lives. But I had problems with Rin as the focal point of all these intertwined lives. Rin is such a non-character, in the beginning, and she was obviously written as such. She is quite literally a shadow who eventually takes form. But it is hard to befriend a shadow. It is hard to identify with a wraith. It is hard to take a girl into your heart who you aren't sure who she is. But then again she doesn't know who she is either, and therefore your unease with her mirrors her own feelings about herself very well. I found Rin and her powers fascinating, but I think her progress could have been more rapid in parts. It takes awhile to face your demons, but sometimes narratively they should be faced faster.

The journeys contained within the book, both of body and mind lead our characters to Kel. There they do valiant deeds and Rin discovers more about herself than she originally bargained for when she followed Razo to the great city. I will not spoil anything as per the author's request, but I felt that Shannon Hale relied too much on a few cliched conventions in this book then her previous ventures. When I went to WisCon back in May I attended a panel entitled "Kick Ass Moms" wherein the authors discussed the habit of when you have a mother the cliched thing to do is to put that child in danger. Baby jeopardy is a big theme which is overused, and Shannon Hale does use this in Forest Born. She does handle it better than I was expecting, but still, I'm not sure it works as a driving plot force for a teen book. Also she uses the old trick of old enemies always return for the sequel. It felt a bit like that last scene in Bruce Campbell's film, My Name is Bruce, where they have just defeated Guan-Di, and then the sequel set-up is literally two seconds later. While the end result is great, it still felt a little worn.

But in the final analysis I loved seeing where our friends in Bayern have ended up and even if I wasn't wild about Forest Born the first read-through, it got the same rating I gave Enna Burning the first time, and I now love Enna! So Forest Born might grow on me to be a four star review, now that I know Rin more I'd be willing to give it another chance. But it is strongly recommended for all those who love the denizens of Bayern.

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