Friday, February 29, 2008

A bathtub, a chair and a bookshelf all in one!

Looking for a new way to display your book collection? Today I discovered a great blog, the Bookshelf, which is devoted to interesting bookshelves and bookcases. My favorite would be the library bath-what more could you want??

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

All the latest...

Jon Krakauer will release his next book in October, titled The Hero, which will tell the story of Pat Tillman, the football player-turned soldier who was killed in a "friendly fire" incident in Afghanistan. Krakauer is known for his riveting adventure accounts, such as Into Thin Air, Into the Wild and Under the Banner of Heaven.

The driver of the car crash that killed David Halberstam last year has been sentenced to 5 days in jail, 200 hours of community service, 2 years of probation and will have his license suspended for 1-3 years.

Philippa Gregory's next historical novel will be released in September of this year. The Other Queen will focus on the life of Mary, Queen of Scots. The movie version of her book The Other Boleyn Girl, will be in theaters this Friday!

Target's latest book club pick is Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Target has a book club?

The Man Booker prize, which is awarded every year for best original novel written by a citizen of the British Commonwealth and Ireland, has announced a Best of the Booker prize in celebration of its 40th anniversary. The award will honor the best overall novel to have won the prize since it was first awarded in 1969. A panel of judges will choose a shortlist of 6 titles, from which the public will be invited to help select the winner.

James Frey (author of the controversial A Million Little Pieces) has a new book coming out in May called Bright Shiny Morning. Wisely, it is being published as fiction.

Stephenie Meyer, who is known for her widely popular young adult series (Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse), will publish her first adult novel in May titled The Host.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I finally finished Richard North Patterson's Exile! I've been working on this one since Christmas, so I was glad to finally finish it. It's not a bad book, but it was just sooo long and I bought my own copy, so I set it aside several times to get through the library books that were due. This was actually a really great read. Israel's prime minister is assassinated on a trip to the United States. When one of the would-be assassins survives the suicide bombing, he implicates Hana Arif, a Palestinian woman visiting the United States at the time of the murder. Hana contacts her law school classmate and former lover, David Wolfe, to defend her. David is a Jew, so his decision to defend the woman on trial for murdering the prime minister of Israel does not sit well with his fiance or his friends. But David strongly believes in Hana's innocence and as he attempts to unravel the conspiracy, he uncovers a frightening plot.

I've never read Richard North Patterson before, but I picked this up on a recommendation from a library patron. Although it is a mystery/suspense novel, it's meatier than many in this genre. Patterson weaves quite a lot of the Palestinian/Israeli history into the story, and for those like me who know little about this conflict, it provides a good unbiased background. As I mentioned before, the book is quite long and a few times I found myself thinking "get on with the story" but it's very well written and the plot will keep you hooked!

Monday, February 25, 2008

An afternoon with Erik Larson

Yesterday I had the great fortune to attend a talk and book signing with Erik Larson, author of the best-seller The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America. Larson told some very entertaining stories about his experiences at book signings and talked briefly about his research, writing process and where his ideas come from. When Larson took questions, an audience member mentioned that she was disappointed there were not more pictures included in Devil in the White City. As a non-fiction reader myself, I find that I do like to see pictures of the people and places I am reading about, but Larson informed us that he purposely chose to leave out pictures. When publishers put pictures in a book, they are usually compiled together in a group somewhere in the middle of the book. So as you are reading, you frequently flip back and forth to the middle to look at the pictures. Because Larson was trying to keep the interest and pace of the story going, he felt that if the reader was constantly stopping to look at the pictures, it would break the pace and the reader would not be drawn into the story as deeply. Interesting point. I never that about it that way, but I guess it is true.

I did ask Larson if he could tell us anything about what he is working on. During his talk he made comments that the next book would be darker and would take place in a different time period than Devil and Isaac's Storm, but would not divulge any more information. He said that writing is very nerve-wracking and if he told us the topic and we weren't enthused, he would be discouraged and it would make it difficult to continue writing. I guess we'll just have to wait.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Slump

After much careful deliberation, I chose 4 fiction books to take with me on vacation (and a few digital photography how-to's, because I swear I am going to learn how to use my camera one of these days). I brought along Richard North Patterson's Exile, which I have been trying to finish since Christmas; Francis Clark's Waking Brigid, which I had already started; Joshua Ferris' Then We Came to the End and Lawrence Goldstone's The Anatomy of Deception. I was looking forward to some uninterrupted reading time, but for some reason I got very little done. I still haven't finished Exile, barely got into Clark's and Ferris' books, didn't even get to Goldstone, and I still don't know how to work that camera. Maybe it was the distraction of the ocean-I mean, who really wants to read a book when you can stare out at the beautiful blue ocean after looking at gray slush for 3 months? Or maybe these books aren't good fits for me. Or maybe it's worse. Maybe it's...

the dreaded slump.

I call it a reading slump. Once in a while I just can't seem to find a book I like. I can't finish anything. I am easily distracted and nothing holds my interest-not a thriller, not a historical novel, not a non-fiction book. I have some theories as to why this happens, but no good solutions. I broke out of my last slump with Sophie Kinsella, but since I have read all of her books and her next won't be here until March, I've got to find something else.

Do any of you ever have reading slumps? What do you do? Any sure bets to bring me out of the slump?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Free Books!

Last week, Oprah announced that Suze Orman's book Women & Money would be available for free to download in e-book form on her website. The book, available for less than 48 hours, was downloaded 1 million times. HarperCollins has also initiated programs to offer books online for free. Their "Full Access" program will offer select titles in its entirety for a limited time. Their "Sneak Peek" program will offer 20% of the book 2 weeks prior to the publication date.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Opening Lines

The opening lines of a book can make or break its success. Either they catch you and draw you in, or well, they don't. See if you recognize some of these famous opening lines:

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

"My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip."

"Call me Ishmael."

"Marley is dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that." is a fun website that will email you opening lines from books. It's fun to see if you can guess any of them. My favorite so far has been:

"There are two kinds of people in this world: Greeks and those who wish they were Greek." from Sofie Metropolis by Tori Carrington.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

All the news in books, movies and more...

Thank goodness the strike is almost over. Here is an update on the TV schedule and when we can expect to see new episodes of our favorite shows.

O. J. Simpson's former sports agent, Michael Gilbert is adding his two cents with his new book How I Helped O. J. Get Away With Murder. Great. Just what we need- another O. J. book.

J. R. R. Tolkien's estate and Harper UK is suing New Line Cinema, claiming they have not recieved over $6 billion in proceeds from the Lord of the Rings films. Aside from seeking monetary damages, they are seeking a declaration from the court that the plantiffs have the right to terminate any further rights to works, including The Hobbit. No!! We must have a Hobbit movie!!

Marlena de Blasi will be publishing her first work of fiction, a historical novel set in WWII era France and Poland, to be titled Amandine. Marlena de Blasi is known for her memoirs of life in Italy in A Thousand Days in Tuscany, A Thousand Days in Venice and The Lady in the Palazzo.

Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones is said to be the Spanish Pillars of the Earth. Set in Barcelona in 1320, the novel has been a huge hit in Spain, selling over 1.5 million copies. The novel is set to be released in the U.S. in April.

The Coen brothers, whose recent film, No Country For Old Men, has earned several Oscar nominations, have signed on to adapt and direct Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policeman's Union.

Alexandria, VA is the most romantic city in the U. S.?? Amazon rated the Top 20 Most Romantic Cities in America, based on sales data of romance novels, relationship and sex books since Jan. 1, per capita in cities with more than 100,000 residents. Probably all those politicians sneaking out to the burbs to get their trashy romance novels.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

And the winner is...

Essence magazine held its first literary awards honoring African-American authors last week. The Pirate's Daughter by Margaret Cezair-Thompson won for best fiction.

The Sami Rohr prize for Jewish literature was awarded to Lucette Matalon Lagnado for The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: My Family's Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World. The Sami Rohr prize is awarded each year, alternating fiction and non-fiction, to an emerging writer whose work, of exceptional literary merit, stimulates and interest in themes of Jewish concern. The winner recieves a $100,000 prize.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Can't Get Enough of Those Royals...

Joy of joys, I just read that Alison Weir has a new historical fiction novel coming out in April, called Lady Elizabeth, based on Elizabeth I. Weir is well-known for her biographies of royalty, such as Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen Isabella, Henry VIII and his wives and children. Last year, she crossed into fiction with her historical novel, Innocent Traitor, about the life of Lady Jane Grey, who was queen of England for nine days after Henry VIII's son Edward died, and before Mary was placed on the throne. I thoroughly enjoyed Innocent Traitor and I can't wait for this next one. I just picked up Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl and I am hooked! The court intrigue and the lives of these women amaze me. How did I ever go this long without reading Philippa Gregory? Fans of Philippa Gregory should enjoy Weir's historical fiction (and her non-fiction, if you're looking for the "real" story).