Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Jane in June Concludes

So, it might be the end of a month devoted to Jane Austen, but that doesn't mean it's the end of all that Jane has given us. It is never to late to start reading her precious six works or a wrong time to re-read them! Austen is inspirational. That one writer could produce only six books in their lifetime and have those six books be classics, read and handed down through generations shows her enduring themes. I still have my grandmother's copies of her books from the turn of the century; and to know that we both loved these words that are still so alive even though she and Austen are gone is a bond I will never loose. Countless writers are also inspired by Austen, from Georgette Heyer to Lauren Willig, Austen lives on through those she has inspired.

As one of my friends joked when I said what book release she was looking forward to most this year,  "I'm looking forward to the next Jane Austen... I hope it's this year." She does show her wicked wit, but she's not far off, with the number of Janeites producing work in the world we will get something in the vein of Jane. The one I'm most looking forward to is Lauren Willig's The Mischief of the Mistletoe. I was lucky enough to get an ARC from Dutton to celebrate Jane in style and I have a few choice words to say, you'll have to wait for a full review till the fall, right now just a teaser. The Mischief of the Mistletoe is perhaps the best book Lauren Willig has written to date. With laugh-out-loud dialogue that leaps off the pages we get to experience Regency Bath with Jane Austen as well as a gaggle of spy groupie teenagers, their new teacher and an unlikely named vegetable hero. More approachable to those not familiar with Willig's flower monikered spy ringed world, this book should appeal to the Janeite in us all, giving us crossed signals, Christmas pudding and a happy ending, just as Jane would.

Horde Update!

As you may have noticed... 250 was hit while I was out on the town in Chicago yesterday and that means, another prize!!! I'm adding, Linger by Maggie Stiefvater. So make sure you enter, today, midnight, that's the end. What will you win?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tuesday Tomorrow

Tracking the Tempest by Nicole Peeler
Published by: Orbit
Publication Date: June 29th, 2010
Format: Paperback, 320 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Tracking the Tempest begins four months–and one eyebrow sacrificed to magical training–after the close of Tempest Rising. During that time, Jane’s been busy honing her supernatural powers and enjoying her newfound sense of confidence. Rockabill may not yet be heaven, but she’s realized it’s home. Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, however, and Ryu–Jane’s bloodsucker boyfriend–can’t let a major holiday go by without getting all gratuitous. This time his shenanigans involve a last-minute ticket to Boston and a hefty dose of direct interference in her life. But Ryu’s best laid plans inevitably create more upheaval than even he can anticipate, and Jane winds up embroiled in an investigation involving a spree of gruesome killings committed by a being of tremendous power . . .

. . . who, much to Jane’s surprise, happens to be another halfling."

The second book in the Jane True series looks just as fun as the first, which I just picked up.

Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter
Published by: Hyperion
Publication Date: June 29th, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 372 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"When Cammie Morgan enrolled at the Gallagher Academy, she knew she was preparing for the dangerous life of a spy. What she didn’t know was that the serious, real-life danger would start during her junior year of high school. But that’s exactly what happened two months ago when Cammie faced off against an ancient terrorist organization dead set on kidnapping her.

Now the danger follows her everywhere, and even Cammie “The Chameleon” can’t hide. When a terrifying encounter in London reveals that one of her most-trusted allies is actually a rogue double-agent, Cammie no longer knows if she can trust her classmates, her teachers—or even her own heart.

In this fourth installment of the New York Times best-selling series, the Gallagher Girls must hack, spy, steal, and lie their way to the they go searching for answers, recognizing that the key to Cammie’s future may lie deep in the past."

Again, another series I'm about to start, but it looks so good!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Vincent and The Doctor

This episode might be close to perfection. They not only captured the feeling and the amazing artistic prowess of Van Gogh, but they also captured the depression and the demons that beset him, both literal and figurative. This episode was written by Richard Curtis, he of the Four Weddings and a Funeral Fame, but closer to my heart, Vicar of Dibley and Blackadder. But what we were able to get because it was Richard Curtis, besides his pop music montages and love of the arts, such as exhibited in the goat painting in Notting Hill, we were able to get Bill freakin' Nighy in an episode! Now Nighy is now pat of the Doctor Who cannon! But aside from the shock of seeing Van Gogh's paintings brought to startilingy reality, it was the end speech of Nighy's that Van Gogh overheard that showed how much this one artist was able to do in his underapreciated lifetime. I can't do it justice, so here it is in it's entriety. Also bow ties DO rock.

Friday, June 25, 2010

In My Mailbox

I had a lovely surprise! And something very appropriate for Jane in June. I received Lauren Willig's newest book, The Mischief of the Mistletoe, a Pink Carnation Christmas! Now, not only is Lauren one of my most favorite authors, with a kick ass publicist (thanks again Jamie) but Lauren is one of a handful of writers who you can tell are inspired by Austen but bring their own spin and originality to historical romances set in the Regency Period. Of course, this book might be even more exciting for those Janeites amongst us in that it is loosely based on Jane Austen's unfinished book, The Watsons and contains an appearance by Jane Austen herself! Could I be more excited!?! No! This is totally going to be my weekend, and hopefully before June is up, you'll have a review of the most anticipated book of the fall. Also, head over to Lauren's website for a chance to win a copy for yourself, but you might want to brush up on your Georgette Heyer first!

Also, to entertain, here's a hint of the book, in the form of an excised bit from Lauren's website, which I really think is hilarious:

This was the original preface of The Mischief of the Mistletoe, a faux scholarly introduction to an equally faux collection of Austen’s letters. However, some concern was voiced that it might not be recognizable as faux on a quick glance, sowing confusion and nasty letters from Austen scholars, so the Preface was dropped. Alas.

From the Introduction to the Oxford Addendum to the Cambridge Companion of the Collected Letters of Jane Austen:

“… the Dempsey Collection, as it is called, was for some time denied a place in the Austenian epistolary canon. Due to the destruction of the bulk of Austen’s correspondence after her death, for some time there were believed to be only one hundred and sixty letters extent. The discovery of a cache of correspondence, preserved in an old trunk in an attic in Norfolk, underneath a series of shockingly gaudy waistcoats embroidered in a carnation print, tucked inside an early nineteenth century recipe book concerned entirely with Christmas puddings, was thought for some time by the Fellows of the Royal College of Austen Studies to be nothing more than a malicious act of sabotage on the part of unscrupulous members of the rival Dickens Society, who had turned to thuggery as the inevitable result of immoderate consumption of late Victorian serial fiction. Although the Dickens Society denied the charge, relations between the two groups remained frosty, culminating in the great Tea Incident of 1983, which scandalized Oxbridge and caused a rift whose reverberations are felt to this day. As footnote clashed against footnote, and members of warring factions refused to pass the port at High Table, the Dempsey Collection was relegated for some time to the academic abyss, discarded as nothing more than Austenian apocrypha.

“After two decades of painstaking scrutiny, including chemical testing, textual analysis, and the consultation of several Magic 8 balls, the scholarly community has tentatively accepted the Dempsey collection as genuine, with some significant reservations. Although the dates of the letters and the identity of the author have, indeed, been authenticated, there are serious doubts as to the veracity of the contents. While Jane Austen writes in her own name, addressing the letters to a supposedly “real” young lady of her acquaintance, the events narrated within them are of such a sensational and fantastical nature as to defy all belief.

“The more serious members of the academic establishment adhere to the theory that Austen was, in fact, engaged in an epistolary novel, a style she employed for both the unfinished Lady Susan and the original draft of Elinor and Marianne, the novel that was to become Sense and Sensibility. There is some argument that the letters comprise a failed early draft of her incomplete novel, The Watsons. As in that work, the Dempsey collection features a heroine returned to the unaffectionate bosom of her family after being disappointed in her hopes of an inheritance from a wealthy aunt, who casts her from the household upon the elderly aunt’s imprudent second marriage to a handsome young captain in the army. Many of the names Austen uses in the Watsons appear in the Dempsey collection, although somewhat altered.

“There, however, all resemblance ends….

“That the letters and their contents were, in fact, the product of a contemporary correspondence conducted with an actual acquaintance in reaction to authentic events is a possibility entertained only by the most radical fringe of Austen scholars. This view is generally discredited…

“What Englishman, one may ask, would answer to the name of Turnip?”

Excerpt reproduced courtesy of the author, Perpetua Fotherington-Smythe, M. Phil., D. Phil, R. Phil, F.R.C.A.S.*, S.o.S.A.S.S.I..**, GAE (MEOAE).***

* Fellow of the Royal College of Austen Studies

** Symposium of the Society of Austen and Similarly Superior Interlocutors

*** Dame Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the Austenian Epistle

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Rare Occurance in These Modern Times - Uncut or Unopened Books

Have you ever been reading a book and find that you can't read the next page because it has never been cut?  But this surprisingly happened to me just the other day while I was reading my copy of Lark Rise to Candleford. Of course this used to be a common occurrence with older books, and it was de riguer in Austen's lifetime. Ever wondered why Mr. Bennet in the BBC miniseries has a knife whilst sitting in his study avoiding the shrill cries of his wife? And no, not just plotting on his behalf. People actually kept knives ("paperknives") nearby in order to open said pages... they weren't there to keep away book pilferers as you might have thought. So out of interest I wandered to the lovely web and looked up uncut pages only to find I have been using a misnomer for years, I should have been saying unopened pages! Also it turns out I should have used a parring knife not a regular old knife... but it turned out better than the time I tried to do it with my finger to the first volume of Pride and Prejudice that was my grandmother's when I was a teenager and it now has a very "badly opened" page indeed (ie torn and raggedy).

As the book collector's glossary explains unopened pages: "A state where the book's pages at the fore edge and/or top are still joined from the folding. This cannot occur if the book has been properly cut. At one time many books were issued unopened, and it is not uncommon to find older books still in this pristine state."

It further goes on to say: "A rare book that is unopened may be considerably more valuable than that same book opened. Therefore, one should consider carefully before opening a book. Of course, you cannot read a book that is unopened, at least not in its entirety."

Hmmm, I understand book collecting...but I think you'd want to be able to read it!?!

A final note: "If you wish to "Open" a book in order to read it, DO NOT USE A VERY SHARP BLADE TO OPEN IT. Use something like a letter opener, and gently TEAR the fold, DO NOT CUT THE FOLD. You may find it useful to sharpen the crease at the fold before you attempt to open it. Don't use your finger to open a book, either. (See I knew it was wrong!) That is guaranteed to result in a book that is "Badly Opened", with rough, ragged tears that extend into the page. "

Sigh, to live in a world where I could meet a gentleman who carried around a paperknife just so that his reading wouldn't be interrupted! But at least we have Bortoletti, who specialize in reading accouterments...including paperknives!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Readathon Ends

Ok, so, I think I've done pretty well for myself. How have you done? This past week I've been participating in Kristen's Huge TBR Readathon over at Bookworming in the 21st Century, and I'm quite pleased with my results. Plus it was a lot of fun, I totally hope Kristen does it again in July, it's a wonderful excuse to just live in the land of the written word.

So what have I read you ask?
The Haunting of Andrew Sharpaiby Jerome Peterson (review to come, but thanks Jerome for the awesome book!)
First Escape, The Dopple Ganger Chroniclesby G.P. Taylor (so much better than Shadowmancer, man I hated that book!)
Death at Wentwater Courtby Carola Dunn (fun times between the wars at an English estate, so picking up the next one.)
Angel After the Fall Volume OneAngel After the Fall Volume Two: First NightAngel After the Fall Volume ThreeAngel After the Fall Volume FourSpike After the FallAngel Volume Five: AftermathAngel Volume Six: Last Angel in HellAngel: Smile Time
11 Books! Woot! Woot! Yes, some were comics, but I've been dreaming of emersing myself back into Joss' universe for awhile and season six of Angel doesn't disappoint nearly as much as season eight of Buffy does. I miss my Angel.

Tuesday Tomorrow

Dark Flame by Alyson Noel
Published by: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: June 22nd, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Ever is trying to help Haven transition into life as an immortal. But with Haven drunk on her new powers and acting recklessly, she poses the ultimate threat—exposing their secret world to the outside. As Ever struggles to keep the Immortals hidden, it only propels Haven closer to the enemy—Roman and his evil companions

At the same time, Ever delves deeper into dark magick to free Damen from Roman’s power. But when her spell backfires, it binds her to the one guy who’s hell-bent on her destruction. Now there’s a strange, foreign pulse coursing through her, and no matter what she does, she can’t stop thinking about Roman—and longing for his touch. As she struggles to resist the fiery attraction threatening to consume her, Roman is more than willing to take advantage of her weakened state…and Ever edges closer and closer to surrender.

Frantic to break the spell before its too late, Ever turns to Jude for help, risking everything she knows and loves to save herself—and her future with Damen …"

I feel bad, I haven't started this series yet. I just picked up the first book and added it to my ginormous tbr pile, but they look sooo good, might have to bump it up in the cue!

A Desirable Residence by Madeleine Wickham
Published by: Thomas Dunn Books
Publication Date: June 22nd, 2010
Format:Hardcover, 304 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Chick lit superstar Wickham (The Wedding Girl) is in stellar form in her latest, a story of intersecting fates set in suburban London. Self-centered Liz Chambers, bored with her job and under a mountain of debt, frequently lashes out at her even-tempered husband, Jonathan, and begins an affair with wealthy realtor Marcus Witherstone, who proposes that Liz and Jonathan rent their unsold house to a young couple, Ginny and Piers Prentice, with whom Liz and Jonathan's sullen teenage daughter, Alice, strikes up an unexpected friendship. Ginny, meanwhile, pins her hopes on would-be actor Piers getting a part in a soap opera, and Jonathan is put on a pedestal by Marcus's wife, Anthea. Marcus begins regretting a shady business deal that could land him in huge trouble, and as Liz grows more delusional, Ginny becomes more worried and desperate, and Anthea more unforgiving and relentless. It all comes to a head at a party Ginny throws on the eve of Piers's big audition. A well-executed and unexpected ending caps the dizzying action and demonstrates why Wickham is so deservedly on her genre's A-list."

How does Sophie Kinsella put out so many books a year? Sophie and Madeleine being one and the same of course. I'll check this out, for sure, still uncertain about the new Shopaholic book coming out this fall, I think Becky has way overstayed her welcome.

Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
Published by: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: June 22nd, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To BuyThe official patter:
"Trenton, New Jersey, bounty hunter Stephanie Plum has inherited a “lucky” bottle from her Uncle Pip. Problem is, Uncle Pip didn’t specify if the bottle brought good luck or bad luck. . . .

Vinnie, of Vincent Plum Bail Bonds, has run up a gambling debt of $786,000 with mobster Bobby Sunflower and is being held until the cash can be produced. Nobody else will pay to get Vinnie back, leaving it up to Stephanie, office manager Connie, and file clerk Lula to raise the money if they want to save their jobs.

Being in the business of tracking down people, Stephanie, Lula, and Connie have an advantage in finding Vinnie. If they can rescue him, it will buy them some time to raise the cash.

Finding a safe place to hide Vinnie turns out to be harder than raising $786,000. Vinnie’s messing up Mooner’s vibe, running up pay-per-view porn charges in Ranger’s apartment, and making Stephanie question genetics.

Between a bonds office yard sale that has the entire Burg turning out, Mooner’s Hobbit-Con charity event, and Uncle Pip’s lucky bottle, they just might raise enough money to save the business, and Vinnie, from ruin.

Saving Vincent Plum Bail Bonds means Stephanie can keep being a bounty hunter. In Trenton, this involves hunting down a man wanted for polygamy, a turnpike toilet paper bandit, and a drug dealer with a pet alligator named Mr. Jingles.

The job of bounty hunter comes with perks in the guise of Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, and the dark and dangerous security expert, Ranger. With any luck at all, Uncle Pip’s lucky bottle will have Stephanie getting lucky---the only question is . . . with whom?"

Anybody else getting the feeling she's headed the way of Sue Grafton? Cause, you know, there is no fixed set of numers....

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cold Blood

And Steven Moffat killed Rory! I get to like him, I mean really like him and then that's it!?! Me and Steven may have to have words. Plus not only that, in order to kind of "spare" Amy so that she can stay happy and perky and make The Doctor even more sad with more burdens to bare, he can remember him and she can't. Cause apparently Rory was part of Amy's timeline... but then why could River remember those who were part of her timeline that got sucked in... hmmm...The scene where he's getting Amy to hold onto the memory of Rory is heartbreaking. I think The Doctor even liked Rory, unlike the 9th and Mickey (but could you blame him?) But I did feel that the whole, he's still alive as long as you can remember him was a bit Thursday Next trying to maintain her memory of Landen while he's been a) eliminate from ever existing and b) Aornis Hades working her voodoo so that Thursday will forget, which really made book three hard to get through and confusing. But props also have to be given to the set people, omg, this was just an amazing episode from a production standpoint, I never once questioned anything. Everything fit so perfectly with what an underground civilization would look like and no crappy CGI, all amazing! I want to go to there. I also love Nasreen, for her zeal, her love of science, and her man, and the fact that she did it all with her hair looking crappy, she never once thought about it. Now she would be a kick ass companion.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Women and "Home Crafts"

Throughout history women were often relegated to the home fires. There they sat occupying their time with needlework, knitting, darning and embroidery. While there are some out there who think nothing could be worse or more boring, there are others, like me, who have carried on their tradition. Because these women took what they were given, they took these "Home Crafts" and made them art! They beautified the world around them while still staying within the parameters of acceptable society. These women didn't work outside the box, they worked within it. Through genius and cunning they showed their brilliance without upsetting the applecart. And while times have certainly changed, these women are now getting the respect they deserve. They showed the world what women could do within the constraints given, so that once women started to break those constraints the horizon was limitless. If they could create art in a world with borders, what about the world without?

This past fall I went on a class field trip to the Art Institute of Chicago where some of our Victorian forebearers work was on display. At the end of the 19th century, keeping photo albums was an "acceptable" past time for women to indulge in. But let me say, scrapbookers these were not. These pieces were some of the most amazing art I have ever seen. The above picture was just one of a thousand unbelievable specimens on display. The pictures were cut out and placed on gorgeous seascapes, on fans, on playing cards and even, in trees like little birds in the snow. The paintings were breathtaking and I was ecstatic that they had compiled them into books so that I could take them home and study them in more detail. I am continually astounded at the level of artwork. If my photo albums were only 1% as nice. I stare in wonder and awe from the one full photo album preserved in it's entirety, The Marvelous Album of Madame B, to the shows catalog.

Jane Austen herself did needlework, as seen in this sampler which she created around the age of 12. The original sampler was sold at auction in 1996 for over £2000, at the height of Jane Austen mania. She, like her contemporaries, took what they were given and made it art. And the thing is, crafts are as strong today as they ever were. People of my generation are picking up the needles, throwing down some yarn, and doing it ancestral style. Through sites like Etsy, our crafts, our heritage and our ingenuity are being displayed. Today thousands of people are gathering in hopes of being the largest worldwide crafting events ever. 5,476 people attending 522 Craft Parties in 49 different countries! Our heritage lives on through us and we must make ourselves shine! My friend Daniella is organizing the event for Madison and we're so cool we're one of the top 50 and we're getting a free craft kit from Etsy. So stop on by tomorrow, 4:30 at the Goodman Community Center. Roll Jane Austen style and make your ancestors proud!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Knightly

Everyone has their Knightly. It's just a fact, just like everyone has their Darcy. I was recently thinking this over and I realized there was only one Knightly for me, and he goes by the name of Josh. That's right, my ideal Knightly is Paul Rudd in Clueless. My love for him has never waned, as it has for the others. I have always hated Mark Strong as Knightly, too old, too bald, but he does make a good villain, Sherlock Holmes and Robin Hood anyone? Jeremy Northam is basically the perfect romantic hero, and the way he pulls off those high starched collars is sublime, but he's too godly, too, not of this earth for me. Johnny Lee Miller is a perfect match for Emma, so therefore, not the perfect match for me. But it's not that he's better than all these other superb actors, it's that my love remains. I fell in love the first time I saw him on that horrid Saturday soap Sisters, but it wasn't until the following year that I was a goner and he had me for life. I saw Clueless, not even knowing that it was based on Jane Austen, who would, a few short months after the movie was released, become my favorite author. Plus Paul Rudd is just such an extraordinary actor, from co-creating one of my favorite shows, Party Down, to doing hilarious cameos in everything from Forgetting Sarah Marshall to Veronica Mars, he is perfect. And I challenge you to find a better episode in season three of Veronica Mars than when he plays a washed up rocker, Desmond Fellowes. Phoebe on Friends never deserved his wonderfulness, this man was on Little Britian after all! Here's to you Paul, my Knightly! So who's your Knightly?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Horde Update!

I've surpassed 225! Wow! So, obviously, more books to the giveaway! I'm going to add an ARC of Shiver, seeing as the sequel is coming out soon... heck I might add a pre-ordered copy of Linger if I hit 250! So go enter, what exactly are you waiting for? Also my Jane Austen giveaway is still going strong.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Huge TBR Readathon

My friend Kristen over at Bookworming in the 21st Century is having a huge readathon starting today and going through till Sunday, and well, I do have to say, I have similar TBR piles as Kristen that I have to wade through... though I am jealous that she cleared enough books that she has some shelf space again. Anyway, so a reading I will be! I'm not setting any goals, yeah I know, lame, but I don't want to disappoint and/or stress myself out over something that's to be fun. So by golly, I'll read and read and read some more, and we'll see how I do in a weeks time!

When: Monday June 14th 8 am (whatever time zone you are in) until Sunday, June 20th - midnight!
Where: Here! Or on your own blog.
What do I have to do? Read, read read. Kristen's not doing any special activities, but if you're reading this week, join on in.

Tuesday Tomorrow

I Will Remember You by Harriet Evans
Published by: Downtown Press
Publication Date: June 15th, 2010
Format: Paperback, 464 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Twelve years in bustling London have left Tess Tennant dumped by her boyfriend, out of work, and miserable. Still, maybe taking a new job as a classics professor at the tiny college in her picture-perfect hometown in the English countryside was a bit drastic. Langford’s stone cottages, quaint shops, and lifelong locals feel even smaller than she remembered, but at least Tess has Adam, her best and oldest friend. On a spontaneous birthday adventure back to the city, though, their painful and heartbreaking past forces them into an angry confrontation.

Tess escapes to Rome on a class trip and falls unexpectedly into the arms of Peter, a charming American journalist . . . until a tragedy cuts her vacation short. Back home and alone, Tess must slowly unravel her feelings about her secretive best friend, the romantic new lover she barely knows, and the independent woman she really wants to be."

After reading and loving Evans' A Hopeless Romantic, I have been dying to dive right into another of her books, and how nice of her to oblige with a shiny new one!

The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg
Published by: Pegasus
Publication Date: June 15th, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"At the start of Läckberg's haunting U.S. debut, the first of her seven novels set in the Swedish coastal town of Fjällbacka, biographer Erica Falck returns home to sort through her deceased parents' belongings and work on her next book. But this is not the same hometown she grew up in. Summer tourists are turning the former fishing village into a thriving resort, and Erica's controlling brother-in-law is pressuring her to cash in by selling the family home. The apparent suicide of childhood friend Alexandra Wijkner contributes to Erica's grief. Once inseparable, they drifted apart before Alex's family abruptly moved away, and Erica feels compelled to write a novel about why the beautiful Alex would kill herself. Läckberg skillfully details how horrific secrets are never completely buried and how silence can kill the soul. A parallel between the town's downward spiral and the fate of one of Fjällbacka's wealthiest families adds texture."

The cover had me, add to that the fact it got a starred review from Publisher's Weekly and I'm sold!

Stories edited by Neil Gaiman
Published by: William Morrow
Publication Date: June 15th, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 448 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"This collection of 27 never-before published stories from an impressive cast—Roddy Doyle, Joyce Carol Oates, and Stuart O'Nan, among others—sets out to shift genre paradigms. The overarching theme is fantastic fiction, or fiction of the imagination, with fantasy being used in the most broad-sweeping sense rather than signaling the familiar commercial staples of elves, ghouls, and robots. Consequently, the collection's offerings run a wide gamut. In Joe Hill's Devil on the Staircase, an Italian boy commits a crime of passion and subsequently meets an emissary of Satan. In Jodi Picoult's Weights and Measures, a young couple who have just lost their daughter struggle to hold their marriage together as they both start noticing strange changes taking place. Chuck Palahniuk's The Loser features a college kid on acid as a contestant on a game show, and in Kurt Andersen's Human Intelligence, a geologist meets an explorer from another planet who has been studying humans for the past 1,600 years. The range of voices and subjects practically guarantees something for any reader, but the overall quality is frustratingly variable: most stories are good, some aren't, and few are exceptional. "

Just the fact that Neil Gaiman is involved means I'm sold, add Roddy Doyle, him of Commitments fame, doubly sold!

The Man Who Died Laughing by Tarquin Hall
Published by: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: June 15th, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Vish Puri, India's Most Private Investigator, is hot on the trail of a killer in this second book in Tarquin Hall's winning new detective series. The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing is the perfect dog day novel for readers who like their murder mysteries spiced with unforgettable characters and a good dose of humor. As endearingly idiosyncratic as Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot, Hall's Vish Puri pursues the murderer of a scientist who made it his business to expose high-profile charlatan gurus, yet died in a spectacularly supernatural fashion. Along with his quirky investigative team, Puri works overtime to solve this baffling crime and keep readers laughing all the way through to the case's satisfying conclusion. Embrace the heat this summer in this vibrant (and flavorful) new murder mystery series set in New Delhi, India."

I picked up the first awhile back and have been excited for the second book, and look it's the second book! Yeah!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Hungry Earth

So the second two-parter of the season and the second hard review, cause as I've said before, you can't judge a half, you have to judge the whole. And with the Weeping Angels, I think part two detracted from what could have been an awesome one-parter. With "The Hungry Earth" Steven Moffat yet again delivers on the promise to bring back monsters from the Doctors past that aren't the Cybermen and Daleks. The Silurian's have returned and the make-up is unbelievable. In fact, just that alone made the episode cool. But I also liked the return of the writer Chris Chibnall, who I know some fans are vehemently set against, mainly cause of the Cyberwoman episode of Torchwood, but that had Russell written all over it and Chris also wrote for Life on Mars, so he's cool in my book. I also like the kind of close knit, small group of people trapped Stephen King Under the Dome style and having to fight the ground beneath them in a small Welsh villiage. It was very spooky and eerie, and one of my fears when I was a kid was quicksand, and seeing Amy being pulled under the earth, totally creeped me out (and yes, they did pull her through the earth, into a car pit underneath). But again, this episode is all set up for the reveal of the "monster" at the end and the three hostages for one the Doctor proposes to the few Silurians he believes are hanging out under ground, otherwise called a few million... and cliffhanger to next week...

Friday, June 11, 2010

Discovering Jane - Guest Blog Post

As a literature major at university, I was one of those academic, erudite types who enjoyed discussing the didactic nature of mythology and other such revelry. Okay, I SO wasn’t that type. I was more likely to be caught discussing how to pull off an epic prank than an epic poem; how I could skive off chapel in favor of sunbathing down the beach (or on the off-limits roof in a pinch) than charting the grammar of a sentence. But I did study literature, excessively, for many a-year and I therefore read. A great deal. Yet in all that study over all those years, I never once was asked to read anything by Jane Austen.

My first encounter with Jane (yes, we’re on a first name basis now), therefore, was in my late 20’s. I was at that time in my youth of embracing the romantic side of life, and thought Jane might enhance that endeavor. What I found was much more than a bit of romance – witty, clever, heartbreaking as well as heartwarming, Jane gave me a genuine slice of life in another era. I found her characters to be so real and having depth that many classic characters, beloved or no, lack. I was enamored. I was spellbound, really.

I would find antique copies of her tomes because it would add to the mystique thinking of all the people from past generations that had enjoyed those words. Then in my flowing dress I would head out to a flowering garden and laze about or find a cozy corner with a candle or two and classical music playing softly in the background, and indulge. Lizzie and Jane, Elinor and Marianne, Emma, Anne, and the others would be my companions. Many of them became as dear to me as my flesh-and-blood friends (whom, between the wonderful films Elizabeth spoke of and my enthusiasm, became Jane fans as well).

I’m a bit more practical now. No more flowing dresses, and I’ll take whatever copy I might find of a book and read it without ceremony whenever I have a moment. However, I’ve never gotten over my love of Jane’s creations. Pride and Prejudice is one of my all time favorite books, and one of the few titles I have, and will continue to, read multiple times. In truth, Jane’s tales never go out of fashion. Whatever stage of life one is in, one can rely upon Jane to provide us characters to relate to and stories to treasure.

What I find utterly astounding in this is that in all those 10 years of studying literature, not once, not ever, did those “wise” scholars whose tutelage I was under think our dear Jane important enough to bring to the classroom. As a result I deeply regret not pulling some of my legendary pranks on those unenlightened dopes that instructed me. Hmm... wonder if I still could – in honor of Jane, of course!

Viva Jane Austen!

"whichwaydidshego writes my favorite blog of all time, besides my own of course, and has become the coolest friend ever." And that's what she said! Drumroll. But seriously folks, even if she wrote that, I believe it and more. We bonded over our mutual love of life and literature, stumbling across each others paths on goodreads. Since then she is the person who brightens my day when I see her name in my mailbox and I was delighted when she agreed to participate in the "Jane in June" event on my blog (as you can she, she also has a soft spot for Jane, as well as the BBC, especially David Tennant, which is a linchpin of any good friendship). I encourage you all to go check out her blog as well! Viva whichwaydidshego!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Thursday Tomorrow

Magic Below Stairs by Caroline Stevermer
Published by: Dial
Publication Date: June 10th, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 192 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Young Frederick is plucked from an orphanage to be a footboy for a wizard named Lord Schofield in Victorian England. Is his uncanny ability to tie perfect knots and render boots spotless a sign of his own magical talent, or the work of Billy Bly, the brownie who has been secretly watching over him since he was little? No matter, for the wizard has banished all magical creatures from his holdings. But Billy Bly isn’t going anywhere, and when he discovers a curse upon the manor house, it’s up to Frederick and Billy Bly to keep the lord’s new baby safe and rid the Schofield family of the curse forever. "

I have been dying for this book ever since I met Caroline last year at WisCon and she mentioned it. It's a sort of companion book to her successful Sorcery and Cecelia series which I really loved. Caroline was at WisCon again this year and I coveted her author copy, and said as much as she signed all my backlog of books (boy do I love signed copies). And if you haven't checked out those books, why not I say!?! They are perfect for this month, aka "Jane in June." While this one is for younger audiences, the original trilogy is set in a Regency England that has magic and is written in epistolary form, like Sense and Sensibility was before Jane rewrote it and retitled it from Elinor and Marianne.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tuesday Tomorrow

The Basilisk's Lair: Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist Book 2 by R. L. LaFevers
Published by: Houghton Mifflin
Publication Date: June 7th, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 150 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Nate Fludd, Beastologist, is back in the camel saddle in hot pursuit of a missing, deadly Basilisk—the King of Serpents. As if saving an entire Dhughani village from the Basilisk’s poisonous gaze isn’t difficult enough, Nate and Aunt Phil must begin to piece together the mystery of his parents’ disappearance and protect the lone copy of the Fludd Book of Beasts from a sinister man who always seem to be one step ahead of them. Pack your goggles, rue, and an extra pair of gloves and join Nate on another unbelievable adventure—there’s no rest for the world’s youngest beastologist-in-training!"

While not as close to my heart as the first book, the pace is still kept high and I can not wait for the next installment! My review of the ARC can be found here.

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
Published by: Little Brown
Publication Date: June 7th, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris-- the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts fiercely alongside her. Now Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves and finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax-- but loving him means betraying her sister and has the potential to destroy all they've worked for.

Twenty-five-year-old Jackson Pearce delivers a dark, taut fairy tale with heart-pounding action, fierce sisterly love, and a romance that will leave readers breathless."

I have been uber excited for this book! In fact I just recieved an ARC in the mail before I left on my vacation so a review should be forthcoming. But how can you not like it? Look at that simply gorgeous cover! Also, I have been noticing it in bookstores already, so if you can't wait till tomorrow... maybe just pop round and see if they're early shelvers!

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