Category Archives: Incoming!

The Reading Stack #1

Does this ever happen to you? A whole stack of holds at the library all coming in at the same time? It happens to me all the time. And every single time, I feel so excited. It’s like being handed a huge treasure trove.

Until, of course, I remember the adage, "So many books, so little time." My excitement dims a little then, I admit.

It’s a good thing one of my 2014 resolutions is to make reading a priority.

This is the first stack. I’ll leave the second stack for another post. And actually, I’m thinking I might just make these reading stacks a regular thing here. (I don’t dare say "a new feature" because that will jinx things for sure and this post would likely be the last time anyone reads a post here titled "The Reading Stack".)

reading stack no 1

1. From Where You Dream, by Robert Olen Butler

2. Parasite, by Mira Grant

3. The Invisible Code, by Christopher Fowler

4. 365 Days, by Julie Doucet

6. Advice to Writers, by Jon Winokur

7. Finding Merlin, by Adam Ardrey

8. An Autobiography, by Agatha Christie

9. Encyclopedia Paranoiaca, by Henry Beard and Christopher Cerf

Do you feel excited when you walk into the library and see a whole bunch of books on hold for you? Have you read any of these books? Are any of them in your to-read list?

[TSS] Incoming! The Library Edition

This was a great week for me, library-wise – I had a bunch of holds come in, and then while I was doing my usual dash-in, dash-out to pick up my holds, I of course managed to snag a few more interesting titles.

Here are this week’s library treasures. First up, the print books:

NeverwhereNeverwhere, by Neil Gaiman.

It’s about time I read a Gaiman novel. This one looks like a good one to start with.

From the back cover:

Richard Mayhew is a plain man with a good heart – and an ordinary life that is changed forever on a day he stops to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk. From that moment forward he is propelled into a world he never dreamed existed – a dark subculture flourishing in abandoned subway stations and sewer tunnels below the city – a world far stranger and more dangerous than the only one he has ever known …

FingersmithFingersmith, by Sarah Waters.

I know. I don’t like historical fiction! But this one sounds just so intriguing … And thanks to my new bookmarking “system” (which works whenever I remember to use it, which thankfully I did this time around), I can give credit for adding this one to my TBR to Jill at Rhapsody in Books.

From the back cover:

London 1862. Sue Trinder, orphaned at birth, grows up among petty thieves – fingersmiths – under the rough but loving care of Mrs. Sucksby and her “family”. But from the moment she draws breath, Sue’s fate is linked to that of another orphan growing up in a gloomy mansion not too many miles away.

Alcatraz versus the Evil LibrariansAlcatraz versus the Evil Librarians, by Brandon Sanderson.

Seriously. How could I resist this one?

From the jacket flap:

A hero with an incredible talent … for breaking things.

A life-or-death mission … to rescue a bag of sand.

A fearsome threat from the powerful secret network that rules the world … the evil Librarians.

Alcatraz Smedry doesn’t seem destined for anything but disaster. On his 13th birthday he receives a bag of sand, which is quickly stolen by the cult of evil Librarians plotting to take over the world. The sand will give the Librarians the edge they need to achieve world domination. Alcatraz must stop them! … by infiltrating the local library, armed with nothing but eyeglasses and a talent for klutziness.

The Children's BookThe Children’s Book, by A.S. Byatt.

This addition to my TBR is courtesy of Molly at The Cozy Book Nook, and, although I didn’t have my bookmarking system in place at the time, the first seed of wanting this book was planted way back last summer, at Things Mean a Lot.

From the back cover:

Olive Wellwood is a famous writer, interviewed with her children gathered at her knee. For each, she writes a private book, bound in its own colour and placed on a shelf. In their rambling house near Romney Marsh the children play in a storybook world – but their lives, and those of their rich cousins and friends, are already inscribed with mystery. Each family carries its own secrets.

Born at the end of the Victorian era and growing up in the golden summers of Edwardian times, a whole generation was unaware of the darkness ahead; in their innocence, they were betrayed unintentionally by the adults who loved them.

The Dragon HeirThe Dragon Heir, by Cinda Williams Chima.

I read the first book in the series, The Warrior Heir, during my own recent personal mini-readathon weekend. I immediately placed holds on both the sequels in the trilogy. Unfortunately, The Dragon Heir is the final book in the series, so I will probably have to renew this one (if I can!) while I wait for The Wizard Heir to come in from the library.

From the jacket flap:

The covenant that was meant to keep the wizard wars at bay has been stolen, and Trinity must prepare for attack.  Everyone is doing their part — Seph is monitoring the Weirwalls; Jack and Ellen are training their ghostly army; even Anaweir Will and Fitch are setting booby traps around the town’s perimeter.  But to Jason Haley, it seems like everyone wants to keep him out of the action.  He may not be the most powerful wizard in Trinity, but he’s prepared to fight for his friends.  When Jason finds a powerful talisman –a huge opal called the Dragonheart–buried in a cave, his role takes on new importance.  The stone seems to sing to Jason’s very soul — showing him that he is meant for more than anyone guessed.  Trinity’s guardians take the stone away after they realize that it may be a weapon powerful enough to save them all.  Without any significant power of his own, and now without the stone, what can Jason possibly do to help the people he cares about — and to prove his mettle?

Madison Moss can feel the beating heart of the opal, too.  The desire for it surges through her, drawing her to it.  But Maddie has other things besides the Dragonheart on her mind.  She has a secret.  Ever since absorbing the magical blow that was meant to kill Seph, she’s been leaking dark powers.  Although Maddie herself is immune to magic, what would her friends think if they knew what kind of evil lay within her?  Trinity’s enemies are as enthusiastic about her powers as she is frightened.  They think they can use her to get to the Dragonheart — and they’ll use anyone Maddie cares about to make her steal the stone for them.

Moral compasses spin out of control as a final battle storms through what was once a sanctuary for the gifted.  With so much to lose, what will Jason and Maddie be willing to fight for — and what will they sacrifice?  Every man is for himself in this thrilling conclusion to the Heir trilogy.

And the audiobooks:

The Nine TailorsThree Lord Peter Wimsey audiobooks came in: the unabridged versions, narrated by Ian Carmichael, of Striding Folly and Unnatural Death, and the BBC radio dramatization of The Nine Tailors.

All three audiobooks are in my TBR now courtesy of Memory, who has been on a Sayers reading streak – her reviews of Strong Poison, Have His Carcase and Gaudy Night reminded me it’s been a long while since I last read a Lord Wimsey book. And I decided, what better way to get reaquainted then in audio?

Monster in the BoxMonster in the Box, by Ruth Rendell. I was also thrilled to have this one come in – it’s the new Inspector Wexford book by Rendell (I also have the print version on hold). I’m really looking forward to this one:

Outside the house where Wexford investigated his first case – a woman found strangled in her bedroom – he noticed a short, muscular man wearing a scarf and walking a dog. He gave Wexford an unnerving stare. Without any solid evidence, Wexford began to suspect that this man – Eric Targo – was the killer. Over the years there are more unsolved, apparently motiveless murders in the town of Kingsmarkham and Wexford continues to quietly suspect that the increasingly prosperous Targo – van driver, property developer, kennel owner and animal lover – is behind them.

Now, half a lifetime later, Wexford spots Targo back in Kingsmarkham after a long absence. Wexford tells his long time partner, Mike Burden, about his suspicions, but Burden dismisses them as fantasy. Meanwhile, Burden’s wife, Jenny, has suspicions of her own. She believes that the Rahmans, a highly respectable immigrant family from Pakistan, may be forcing their daughter, Tamima, into an arranged marriage – or worse.

I think I’ve got a great few weeks of reading (and listening!) ahead of me. What great books came into your hands this week?

Incoming! Books About Words

(Incoming! is a feature at Ms. Bookish that chronicles some of the recent new book arrivals at the Ms. Bookish household.)

I’ve been getting prepared for NaNoWriMo; the novel I’ll be working on in November is a middle-grade fantasy novel that involves words (as words, that is – because of course, the actual writing of it will involve words!).

So I’ve been researching words, and it’s proving to be a lot of fun!

I thought it would be interesting to highlight the books I’m currently looking through as part of my research – along with a few that I picked up along the way simply that won’t be useful for research purposes but are just too fun to pass by.

Phraseology: Thousands of Bizarre Origins, Unexpected Connections, and Fascinating Facts about English’s Best Expressions, by Barbara Kipfer

Phraseology: Thousands of Bizarre Origins, Unexpected Connections, and Fascinating Facts about English's Best ExpressionsSynopsis (from the back cover):

Phraseology is the ultimate collection of everything you never knew about the wonderful phrases found in the English language. It contains information about phrase history and etymology; unusual, lost, or uncommon phrases; how phrases are formed; and more than 7,000 facts about common English phrases.

Practical enough to be used as a reference book but so fun that every book lover will want to read it straight through, Phraseology contains such engrossing tidbits as:

ACROSS THE BOARD is an allusion to the board displaying the odds in a horse race

ARTESIAN WELL gets its name from Artois, where such wells were first made

BEST MAN originated in Scotland, where the groom kidnapped his bride with the aid of friends, including the toughest and bravest – the best man.

First line(s): Phraseology is a collection of really interesting things you probably do not know about thousands and thousands of phrases.

Where I got this book: Rebecca from The Book Lady’s Blog recommended this to me when we were having a Twitter discussion about this recent post of mine. I went straight to Chapters and bought this one that very night!

Format & Pages: Trade paperback, 301 pages

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The Word Detective, by Evan Morris

The Word DetectiveSynopsis (from the jacket flap):

Comic, skeptic, cyber-sleuth, syndicated columnist, and inspired wordsmith, Evan Morris is the Word Detective. Morris’s unique approach to language and his distinctive brand of humor account for his loyal following of readers who wonder about everything from soup to nuts – and that means the origins of the phrase soup to nuts, as well as hundreds of other perplexing words and phrases.

The Word Detective is a collection of Morris’s language columns, which appear in newspapers around the world and on his popular Web site. The Q & A format makes for lively and unusual interactions between Morris and his readers: Dan from Brooklyn is perturbed by television newscasts that incorrectly use the word factoid to mean “a piece of trivia.” (Morris agrees and adds that factoid was actually coined by Norman Mailer in 1973 to mean “a rumor disguised as a fact.”) Tim via the Internet asks how the word moxie came to mean “courage.” (Morris replies that Moxie was, and still is, the name of a soft drink with a taste so intense it takes real gumption to swallow the stuff.) Whether the question is from a student hoping to win a word dispute with his professor or a daughter-in-law trying to wow her mother-in-law with an esoteric phrase, the Word Detective snoops around, does the legwork, and uncovers the answers.

First line(s): It all started with sticky dimes.

Where I got this book: I came across this when I was at the library looking for some specific “words” titles. It isn’t really relevant to my research but I just couldn’t resist.

Format & Pages: Hardcover, 228 pages.

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Anguished English: An Anthology of Accidental Assaults Upon Our Language, by Richard Lederer

Anguished English: An Anthology of Accidental Assaults Upon Our LanguageSynopsis (from Amazon):

Anguished English is the impossibly funny anthology of accidental assaults upon our language. From bloopers and blunders to Signs of the Times to Mixed Up Metaphors…from Two-Headed Headlines to Mangling Modifiers, here is an outrageous treasury of assaults upon our common language that will leave you roaring with delight and laughter.

First line(s): It is truly astounding what havoc students can wreak upon the chronicles of the human race.

Where I got this book: This is another book that’s not really relevant to my research for my NaNoWriMo novel, but I recently mooched this book from Bookmooch and it’s too fun to leave out of this post.

Format & Pages: Mass paperback, 175 pages

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You’ve Got Ketchup on Your Muumuu: An A–to–Z Guide to English Words from Around the World, by Eugene Ehrlich

You've Got Ketchup on Your Muumuu: An A--to--Z Guide to English Words from Around the WorldSynopsis (from the jacket flap):

With dry wit and remarkable erudition, Eugene Ehrlich takes us on an eye-opening tour of our ever-changing language, showing us how English has, throughout its history, seamlessly sewn words from other languages into its original fabric. He reveals that the language we call our own has in fact been culled from the languages of ancient invaders, such as the Romans, the Angles, the Saxons, the Jutes, and the French.

Ehrlich’s comprehensive research and vast lingual experience bring to light what has until now been hidden from the general audience: the origins of some of our favorite and well-used words. The word graffiti, for example, comes from the Italian word meaning “scratches.” The word for one of our favorite breakfast foods, bagel, originated with the German Beugel, meaning “a ring.” And ketchup comes from the Chinese kéjap, which literally means “fish sauce.” So why do we put it on our burgers and fries?

In the clear style his readers have come to expect, Ehrlich effortlessly illuminates the origins, purposes, and meanings of once-foreign words that have become part of the rich weave of our language.

First line(s): (from the preface)

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” – Polonius, in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Old Polonius was talking about prudence in managing one’s finances, not about borrowing and lending words.

But just as English words are increasingly taken into other languages, English throughout its history has continually picked up words from other languages and treated such words as its own, calling them English.

Where I got this book: I picked this one up from the library.

Format & Pages: Hardcover, 285 pages

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Scholastic Dictionary Of Idioms, by Marvin Terban

Scholastic Dictionary Of IdiomsSynopsis (from Amazon):

Cat got your tongue? Penny for your thoughts? Come again? Every day, idioms bring color to our speech. Since they don’t really mean what they say, idioms can stump even the native English-speaker. Marvin Terban makes understanding idioms “as easy as pie” with the revised SCHOLASTIC DICTIONARY OF IDIOMS. Explanations for, and origins of, more than 700 everyday American idioms, complete with kid-friendly sample sentences. The entries are amusing as well as educational. Alphabetical listing and cross-referencing index makes finding idioms a “piece of cake.”

First dictionary entry:

Ace up Your Sleeve

“I don’t know how Henry is going to get his mom to buy him a bike, but I’m sure he has an ace up his sleeve.”

Meaning: a surprise or secret advantage, especially something tricky that is kept hidden until needed.

Origin: Back in the 1500s most people didn’t have pockets in their clothes, so they kept things in their sleeves. Later on, magicians hid objects, even small live animals, up their sleeves, and then pulled them out unexpectedly to surprise their audiences. In the 1800s dishonest card players secretly slipped a winning card, often an ace, up their sleeves and pulled it out when nobody was looking to win the game.

Where I got this book: I picked this one up from the library, and it is very relevant to my research! If it comes in as useful as I think it will, I’ll probably end up getting my own copy.

Format & Pages: Trade paperback, 245 pages

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Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words: A Writer’s Guide to Getting It Right , by Bill Bryson

Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words: A Writer's Guide to Getting It Right Synopsis (from the jacket flap):

As usual Bill Bryson says it best: “English is a dazzlingly idiosyncratic tongue, full of quirks and irregularities that often seem willfully at odds with logic and common sense. This is a language where ‘cleave’ can mean to cut in half or to hold two halves together; where the simple word ‘set’ has 126 different meanings as a verb, 58 as a noun, and 10 as a participial adjective; where if you can run fast you are moving swiftly, but if you are stuck fast you are not moving at all; [and] where ‘colonel,’ ‘freight,’ ‘once,’ and ‘ache’ are strikingly at odds with their spellings.” As a copy editor for the London Times in the early 1980s, Bill Bryson felt keenly the lack of an easy-to-consult, authoritative guide to avoiding the traps and snares in English, and so he brashly suggested to a publisher that he should write one. Surprisingly, the proposition was accepted, and for “a sum of money carefully gauged not to cause embarrassment or feelings of overworth,” he proceeded to write that book–his first, inaugurating his stellar career.

Now, a decade and a half later, revised, updated, and thoroughly (but not overly) Americanized, it has become Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words, more than ever an essential guide to the wonderfully disordered thing that is the English language. With some one thousand entries, from “a, an” to “zoom,” that feature real-world examples of questionable usage from an international array of publications, and with a helpful glossary and guide to pronunciation, this precise, prescriptive, and–because it is written by Bill Bryson–often witty book belongs on the desk of every person who cares enough about the language not to maul or misuse or distort it.

First line(s): (from the introduction)

The physicist Richard Feynman once remarked that every time a colleague from the humanities department complained that his students couldn’t spell a common word like seize or accommodate, Feynman wanted to reply, “Then there must be something wrong with the way you spell it.”

Where I got this book: I picked this one up while browsing at the library. As I’m making up a collection of random words, I thought I’d dip randomly into this book and pick out different words to add to my collection. Also, I really enjoy reading Bill Bryson’s writing!

Format & Pages: Hard cover, 241 pages

Incoming! The Memoirs Edition

Incoming! is a regular feature at Ms. Bookish that chronicles some of the recent new book arrivals at the Ms. Bookish household.

Initially I had planned these posts to focus on one book at a time, but have just realized that writing up individual posts for each book was just too overwhelming – in some cases, by the time I got to the Incoming! post for a book I’d either already read it, or had to return it to the library (in the case of library books)!

So I’ve decided to group books related in some sort of way together for each of my Incoming! posts. Today, I bring you: memoirs!

Passeggiata: Strolling Through Italy, by G. G. Husak

Passeggiata: Strolling Through ItalySynopsis (from the back cover):

Ms. Husak’s memoir of travels to Italy with her husband will appeal to those who love travel in general and Italy in particular. Their journeys are both personal and universal. From their first shared trip to Italy in 1993, which marked the first of their empty nest years, their annual passeggiata reflects the shift in their lives through the next decade.

On their spring pilgrimages to major tourist centers, Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, Naples, they develop appreciation for Italy’s art, music and architecture. Wandering together along out of the way paths in tiny hill towns and seacoast villages, they explore breathtaking scenery. By traveling light and learning the vagaries of Italian life, they have become Italian in spirit. The book provides many practical hints on how to travel like the locals, reminding us that even novice travelers can learn valuable lessons from immersion in another way of life, and that one’s companion can be an essential part of the pleasure of a journey.

First line(s): We left Houston on a sunny spring day in March. Al had been working long hours, which was nothing new, and I was ready for a break from teaching. Although pulled between the excitement of visiting one daughter and the worry of leaving our younger one behind, we were energized by the anticipation of our Italian adventure.

Where I got this book: Sent to me by the author.

Format & Pages: Trade paperback, 355

Ms. Bookish says: Travel memoirs are among my favorite types of memoirs. In Passeggiata, I’m looking forward to exploring more of Italy; I’m hoping there will be a lot of talk about food, too!

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Time to Be in Earnest: A Fragment of Autobiography, by P. D. James

Time to Be in Earnest: A Fragment of AutobiographySynopsis (from the back cover):

Taking to heart Samuel Johnson’s advice that at age seventy-seven it is “time to be in earnest,” the much-loved and internationally acclaimed author of mysteries undertook a book unlike anything she had written before. Beginning on her 77th birthday in August 1997 and ending in August 1998, P.D. James engaged the daily events and reflections of the present as a springboard into her extraordinary, sometimes painful and sometimes joyful, past.

Here are vivid accounts of school days in 1920s and 1930s Cambridge, of the war, of the tragedy of her husband’s mental illness, and of her determined struggle to support a family alone. Along the way, with insight and warmth, she offers views on everything from author tours to the problems of television adaptations, from book reviewing to her obsession with Jane Austen.

First line(s): I am writing this sitting in an almost empty first-class compartment of the 3:32 train from Newton Abbot to Paddington, and staring out at the red Devon Countryside, now blurred and seeming to dissolve in rain; even the eagerly awaited stretch of coast at Dawlish and Teignmouth failed in its usual magic.

Where I got this book: Library

Format & Pages: Trade paperback, 259 pages

Ms. Bookish says: Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while will know that P.D. James is one of my favorite mystery authors. I’m really looking forward to sitting down with this one!

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Don’t Call Me a Crook!: A Scotsman’s Tale of World Travel, Whisky and Crime, by Bob Moore

rook!: A Scotsman's Tale of World Travel, Whisky and CrimeSynopsis (from the back cover):

In your hands is a lost literary treasure and a tribute to one man’s triumph over the police, morals, and sobriety.

The 1920s didn’t roar for this Glaswegian: They exploded. Sailing around the world seven times as a marine engineer (among other, less honorable vocations), Bob Moore was in the thick of high-society orgies, ship disasters, and pitched battles with bandits on the Yangtze. Cheeky, charming and larcenous, Moore “swiped” (but not stole) whatever he wanted, drank like a fish, and always kept one step ahead of the law, Prohibition, and the women he conned. Clearly, he loved life.

Originally published three-quarters of a century ago, Don’t Call Me a Crook! is an overlooked gem. Just a few seem to have known of it. What became of its author after its release is uncertain. Don’t Call Me a Crook! is a lost confession of a youth lawlessly lived that will be crowned a classic.

First line(s): It is a pity there are getting to be so many places that I can never go back to, but all the same, I do not think it is much fun a man being respectable all his life.

Where I got this book: Sent to me by the publisher.

Format & Pages: Trade paperback, 255 pages

Ms. Bookish says: Moore sounds like quite the conman charmer, doesn’t he? This will be an interesting read, I think.

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French Milk, by Lucy Knisley

French MilkSynopsis (from the back cover):

Through delightful drawings, photographs, and musings, twenty-three-year-old Lucy Knisley documents a six-week trip she and her mother took to Paris when each was facing a milestone birthday. With a quirky flat in the fifth arrondissement as their home base, they set out to explore all the city has to offer, watching fireworks over the Eiffel Tower on New Year’s Eve, visiting Oscar Wilde’s grave, loafing at cafés, and, of course, drinking delicious French milk. What results is not only a sweet and savory journey through the City of Light but a moving, personal look at a mother-daughter relationship.

First line(s): During January of 2007, my mother and I lived in a small rental apartment in Paris to celebrate my mother’s turning fifty (and my turning twenty-two). The following is the Drawn journal that I kept in the course of the trip.

Where I got this book: Library

Format & Pages: Trade paperback, 193 pages

Ms. Bookish says: A travel memoir, in graphic novel format! I discovered this gem recently on another blog (I can’t remember whose – I really must start keeping track) and knew I just had to read it. I was in luck – my library had a copy, so I put in a request for it right there on the spot. Now that I have it in my hands, I have a feeling I might want to buy myself a copy, too. For those of you in the States who are interested in this book, it looks like Amazon has it on right now as a bargain book!

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Confessions of a Bad Mother, by Stephanie Calman

Confessions of a Bad MotherSynopsis (from the back cover):

Read Confessions of a Bad Mother … You have nothing to lose but your guilt. Are you a super-duper, totally fulfilled mother 24 hours a day? Do you give your children home-made risotto, help them with their homework, read them a fairy tale and sing them to sleep? Or do you give them chicken nuggets in front of the telly, herd them into bed and slump down exhausted with a drink?

Do you feel that other mothers are Doing It Properly while you’re getting it All Wrong? Do you wish there could just, please, be a little less pressure? If you try your best but frequently feel a failure, if you – or your children – are in any way imperfect, then join the club: the Bad Mothers Club. Stephanie Calman has broken every rule and done it All Wrong. From giving birth with her pants on to making her kids watch more telly, she has persistently defied all accepted wisdom and professional advice. Outrageous, funny, and hideously true, Confessions of a Bad Mother is her story. Read it, and know – at least – that you are Normal.

First line(s): I wasn’t going to have children. I was too frightened to have them, and I was sure I was physically and emotionally incapable of looking after them. Following the terrifying assault of birth, it would be one long, ever-repeating loop between the A&E department and the washing machine. And anyway, I wasn’t the Maternal Type.

Where I got this book: Bought this one at Costco.

Format & Pages: Trade paperback, 306 pages

Ms. Bookish says: I ask you, how could I resist?? Obviously, I couldn’t. And in case anyone is wondering, Costco also sneakily had a copy of Confessions of a Failed Grown-Up, the sequel, right next to the copies of Confessions of a Bad Mother, and yes, I picked that one up, too.

Some Fun in My Mailbox: The Awe-Manac, by Jill Badonsky

The Awe-ManacEvery now and then when I’m shopping online, I get so tempted by books on creativity, and then I go nuts. The other day was one such day, and the end result was a mailbox filled with some really fun books, including this one: The Awe-Manac, by Jill Badonsky.

From the back cover:

Welcome to The Awe-Manac – a playfully practical guide that’s a refreshing twist on the revered Old Farmer’s Almanac. Here you’ll find daily forecasts and directives to help make life more creative, amusing, gratifying, and extraordinary – every day of the year! Through 365 days, you’ll be inspired to think more brilliantly, laugh more often, ignite your creative passion, and simply create a lot more “awe” into daily life.

Brimming with colorful, whimsical art and filled with delightful features like “Soul Vitamins”, “Toast of the Day”, and “Doses of Mirth”, The Awe-Manac treats every day as a source of celebration and inspiration. With the “Aha-phrodisiacs” you’ll be invited to write, doodle, daydream, and discover that spark of creativity and wonder that may be lying dormant. It’s an enchanting, sometimes irreverent, daily “companion” – a perennial guide for finding joy and amusement all-year round.

The Awe-Manac is basically a daybook of creativity, so of course I couldn’t resist opening up to today, August 28. And guess what? It’s a celebration of solitude today! And here’s today’s quote for journaling:

“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.” – Goethe

I just love that. And of course, today’s quote just happens to be from Goethe (he of the "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it." fame), because Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born on August 28, 1749.

Where to buy The Awe-Manac:: U.S. (Amazon.com) | IndieBound | Canada (Chapters Indigo) | UK (Amazon.co.uk)

Incoming! The City & The City, by China Miéville

Incoming! is a feature at Ms. Bookish that chronicles new books that have arrived in the Ms. Bookish household. Here’s one of the latest new arrivals:

The City & The City, by China Miéville

The City & The CityAbout the Book:

When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he investigates, the evidence points to conspiracies far stranger and more deadly than anything he could have imagined.

Borlú must travel from the decaying Beszel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own. This is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a shift in perception, a seeing of the unseen. His destination is Beszel’s equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the rich and vibrant city of Ul Qoma. With Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt, and struggling with his own transition, Borlú is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of rabid nationalists intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists who dream of dissolving the two into one. As the detectives uncover the dead woman’s secrets, they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them and those they care about more than their lives.

What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul Qoma: and, most terrifying of all, that which lies between these two cities.

Casting shades of Kafka and Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler and 1984, The City & the City is a murder mystery taken to dazzling metaphysical and artistic heights.

First paragraph: I could not see the street or much of the estate. We were enclosed by dirt-coloured blocks, from windows out of which leaned vested men and women with morning hair and mugs of drink, eating breakfast and watching us. This open ground between the buildings had once been sculpted. It pitched like a golf course – a child’s mimicking of geography. Maybe they had been going to wood it and put in a pond. There was a copse but the saplings were dead.

Where I got this book: Library

Genre: Fantasy/mystery

Why this book:

I actually came across this title in a roundabout, “it happened because of Twitter” way. Someone, I can’t remember who, but I think it was a book publisher, tweeted about this article about top science fiction/fantasy writers picks for best real fantasy/sci-fi cities, I clicked on the link in the tweet, liked China Miéville’s take on things (he chose London, England), then decided to check out The City & The City. It’s a speculative mystery, a genre I enjoy, especially when done well. I know this was a big release for fantasy fans, but I hadn’t heard of it since I don’t follow the genre that closely. I’m very glad that Twitter lead me to it.

Related Links and Other Fun Stuff

China Miéville on crime novels

Interview with China Miéville (includes link to MP3 file)

The author talks about The City & The City:

Where to buy The City & The City:: U.S. (Amazon.com) | IndieBound | Canada (Chapters) | UK (Amazon.co.uk)

Other Blogs’ Reviews

SF Reviews

The Mad Hatter

Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review

Incoming! Angel’s Advocate by Mary Stanton

Incoming! is a feature at Ms. Bookish that chronicles new books that have arrived in the Ms. Bookish household.

Angel’s Advocate, by Mary Stanton

Angel's AdvocateAbout the Book:

Money’s been tight ever since Bree Winston Beaufort inherited Savannah’s haunted law firm Beaufort & Company along with its less-than-angelic staff. But she’s finally going to tackle a case that pays the bills representing a spoiled girl who stole someone’s Girl Scout cookie money. But soon enough she finds that her client’s departed millionaire father needs help too. Can she help an unsavory father/daughter duo and make a living off of the living?

First line: "This seventeen-year-old high school cheerleader stole one hundred sixty-five dollars and twenty-six cents from a Girl Scout?"

Where I got this book: ARC from the publicist Maryglenn McCombs.

My initial thoughts: I’m embarrassed to admit that this book got lost in the wilds of my new book arrival stacks. This is teaching me to be more organized with my incoming books, as Angel’s Advocates was actually on my i-want list! At any rate, I was very glad when I came across it the other day when I was re-organizing some of my stacks into tidier looking piles. I love the idea of Beaufort & Company, so I’m looking forward to reading Angel’s Advocate.

Related Links and other Fun Stuff

Mary Stanton’s Website

Bookish Ruth interviews author Mary Stanton

Angel’s Advocate video trailer:

Where to buy Angel’s Advocate:: U.S. (Amazon.com) | IndieBound | Canada (Chapters) | UK (Amazon.co.uk)

Read the Reviews:

Everything Distils Into Reading

Shhh I’m Reading

Reviewing the Evidence

Musings of a Bookish Kitty

Wendi’s Book Corner

CA Reviews

Incoming! Excuses Begone! by Wayne Dyer

Incoming! is a feature at Ms. Bookish that chronicles new books that have arrived in the Ms. Bookish household. Here’s one of the latest new arrivals:

Excuses Begone!, by Wayne Dyer

Excuses Begone!About the Book:

Within the pages of this transformational book, Dr. Wayne W. Dyer reveals how to change the self-defeating thinking patterns that have prevented you from living at the highest levels of success, happiness, and health. Even though you may know what to think, actually changing those thinking habits that have been with you since childhood might be somewhat challenging.

If I changed, it would create family dramas … I’m too old or too young … I’m far too busy and tired … I can’t afford the things I truly want … It would be very difficult for me to do anything differently … and I’ve always been this way … may all seem to be true, but they’re in fact just excuses. So the business of modifying habituated thinking patterns really comes down to tossing out the same tired old excuses and examining your beliefs in a new and truthful light.

In this groundbreaking work, Wayne presents a compendium of conscious and subconscious crutches employed by virtually everyone, along with ways to cast them aside once and for all. You’ll learn to apply specific questions to any excuse, and then proceed through the steps of a new paradigm. The old, habituated ways of thinking will melt away as you experience the absurdity of hanging on to them.

You’ll ultimately realize that there are no excuses worth defending, ever, even if they’ve always been part of your life – and the joy of releasing them will resonate throughout your very being. When you eliminate the need to explain your shortcomings or failures, you’ll awaken to the life of your dreams.

First line: It’s been said that old habits die hard, implying that it’s next to impossible to change long-standing thought patterns. Yet the book you hold in your hands was created out of a belief that entrenched ways of thinking and acting can indeed be eradicated.

Where I got this book: Bought this at Costco

Why this book?

I believe that our lives are shaped by our beliefs. My life is a reflection of whoever it is I believe I am, and that’s a choice I’m always making, whether I know it or not, in every second of every moment of every day.

It’s been a while since I’ve picked up any of Dyer’s books, but when I saw this one, I decided to get it. Just knowing you have a belief you don’t want doesn’t guarantee that you can let go of it and go on to one you do want. So I’m very interested in reading what Dyer has to say about how to go about releasing an old, unwanted belief, and adopting a belief you really do want to have.

Related Links and other Fun Stuff

Where to buy Excuses Begone!: U.S. (Amazon.com) | IndieBound | Canada (Chapters) | UK (Amazon.co.uk)

Incoming! L.A. Candy, by Lauren Conrad

Incoming! is a feature at Ms. Bookish that chronicles new books that have arrived in the Ms. Bookish household. Here’s one of the latest new arrivals:

L.A. Candy, by Lauren Conrad

L.A. CandyAbout the Book:

Los Angeles is all about the sweet life: hot clubs, cute guys, designer . . . everything. Nineteen-year-old Jane Roberts can’t wait to start living it up. She may be in L.A. for an internship, but Jane plans to play as hard as she works, and has enlisted her BFF Scarlett to join in the fun.

When Jane and Scarlett are approached by a producer who wants them to be on his new series, a “reality version of Sex and the City,” they can hardly believe their luck. Their own show? Yes, please!

Soon Jane is TV’s hottest star. Fame brings more than she ever imagined possible for a girl from Santa Barbara—free designer clothes, the choicest tables at the most exclusive clubs, invites to Hollywood premieres—and she’s lapping up the VIP treatment with her eclectic entourage of new pals. But those same friends who are always up for a wild night are also out for a piece of Jane’s spotlight.

In a city filled with people chasing after their dreams, it’s not long before Jane wakes up to the reality that everyone wants something from her, and nothing is what it seems to be.

L.A. Candy is a deliciously entertaining novel about what it’s like to come of age in Hollywood while starring in a reality TV show, written by a girl who has experienced it all firsthand: Lauren Conrad.

First lines: “Jane Roberts leaned against her dresser, studying the way her white, silk nightie looked against her sun-kissed skin. Her loose blond curls cascaded softly over her shoulders as she pretended not to be interested in the guy in her bed.”

Where I got this book: Harper Collins Canada

My initial thoughts:

I’’m about a third of the way through L.A. Candy – I’d been hoping to be finished in time to post the review around the book’s release date, but then deadlines caught up with me. I’m at the part where Jane and her best friend Scarlett are being offered roles in the reality show L.A. Candy. I find myself really liking Scarlett in particular – there’s something so quirky and independent about her. It’s shaping up to be a fun read so far.

Related Links and other Fun Stuff

About the author: Lauren Conrad is the star of MTV’s number-one hit show, The Hills. She launched her career as a fashion designer in Spring 2008 with the debut of the Lauren Conrad Collection. Lauren has been featured on the covers of Cosmopolitan, Rolling Stone, Seventeen, and Entertainment Weekly, among others. She lives in Los Angeles. This is her first novel.

Browse inside L.A. Candy

Where to buy L.A. Candy:: U.S. (Amazon.com) | IndieBound | Canada (Chapters) | UK (Amazon.co.uk)

Incoming! A Version of the Truth, by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack

Incoming! is a feature at Ms. Bookish that chronicles new books that have arrived in the Ms. Bookish household. Here’s one of the latest new arrivals:

A Version of the Truth, by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack

A Version of the TruthAbout the Book:

Thirty, newly single, and desperately in need of a paycheck, inveterate bird-watcher Cassie Shaw goes against her principles and lies on her résumé to land a job. She then finds herself employed at an elite university working for two professors as unique as the rare birds she covets.

One of them is a sexy expert in animal behavior, Professor Conner. Under his charismatic tutelage, Cassie begins her personal transformation into the people she was meant to be while meeting the kinds of people she has never met before. But when your entire future and your unlikely new career teeter on one unbearable untruth, the masquerade can’t go on forever

First line: “I flunked the second, third, and ninth grades. In my heart, I knew I was dumb.”

Where I got this book: Part of my No BEA? Books Anyway! haul

My initial thoughts:

Why I picked this one up:

  1. I am a sucker for the phrase “personal transformation” (in fiction only, though.)
  2. I read the authors’ last book, Literacy and Longing in L.A. and absolutely loved it.

Related Links and other Fun Stuff

CBS News interviews Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack about A Version of the Truth (I didn’t embed the video here because I couldn’t get it to stop auto-playing.)

Where to buy A Version of the Truth:: U.S. (Amazon.com) | IndieBound | Canada (Chapters) | UK (Amazon.co.uk)