The Sunday Salon – My Books

I thought I’d take a moment today to talk about my books.  More specifically, where the books I review on this blog come from.

There are several sources to draw from:

  • Personal books I’ve bought (this category does include ebooks).  This is how I acquire most of the books I read and review here.
  • Personal books that have been bought for me.
  • Library books.  Although, thanks to a little tiff with the library and its amazing ability to constantly misplace books and sometimes misplace them permanently so as to make them lost, I haven’t taken any books out in a while but it might be time to get over it on my part.
  • I do also, from time to time but not on a regular basis, request advanced review copies of books I’d like to read.  These books, for the most part, make up a relatively small portion of my reading since I don’t ask for many.
  • I’m also a reviewer for The BookReporter website.  I reviewed books for this website before starting my own blog and usually read two or three books for the group every two months.  I do include some of these reviews here and tag them as BookReporter reviews.
  • Finally, NetGalley.  I joined a while back and then did nothing with it.  I decided to take another look and have downloaded about four books.  Not many I know.  It’s not that the book selections aren’t interesting, they are, but considering the stack of books already leaning precariously to the right on the small table I consider my TBR pile, I’m trying not to add a virtual stack as well.
  • Books that authors and publicists pitch me.  I get these emails every once in a while and in most cases, I do not accept the books mostly because the books are not the type I read and I don’t feel I can do them justice.  In some cases, I have accepted the books.  It’s rare but it happens.

Why bring this up?  A person who sees me often, and almost always with a book, asked me where I get my books from.  If he wondered, then maybe some of the people reading my ramblings here might also wonder and I thought it might be a good time to mention it.  So there you have it.

Some links this week —

Bookshelf Porn has this lovely beauty to share this week.

On Flavorwire, you can learn how to drink like a famous author.

The Los Angeles Times Book Blog, Jacket Copy, has some French reading for the summer.

The Guardian has a list of the best 100 non-fiction books.  I’ve read about five books on the list.

Happy Sunday.

The Sunday Salon – Movies

First, I have to get this out of the way; daylight savings time is ruining my life today.  I planned to have a nice relaxing day — brunch with a friend, maybe a little shopping, maybe a museum, maybe a movie depending on how we’re feeling after a brunch full of goodies — but now I feel as if I’m already an hour behind!  Really hate that.  I’ll get over it in the next few minutes but putting it out there for anyone else that’s hates losing an hour of beloved sleep on the weekend.

Moving on to movies.  Jane Eyre came out this Friday and I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time and since my husband has already said I need to recruit a friend (there was no way he was going) I’m going to try and convince a friend to see it with me today.  A trailer is below for the curious.  It looks absolutely delightful.  I read the book for the first time last year and adored it so I have very high hopes for the movie.  Has anyone seen it yet?  What did you think?

I fit in some good reading this week too.  To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis was wonderful and I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to find her.  Needless to say, I’ll be reading more.  This book reminded me how much I love science fiction.  I started The Red Wolf Conspiracy by Robert V.S. Redick yesterday but I’m not having much luck with it.  Right now it’s a lot of characters and one really giant ship and I’m having trouble seeing where it’s going even after reading the end.  Not so sure about this one.  I may give it till to the end of the day to make a decision about finishing.

Now some fun things:

Tips on how to make your books last a long, long time.

Awesome bookends.

Dolly Parton, while I’m a country music fan, I do admire her for the work she does to promote literacy.  I had the opportunity way back in the day when I worked for the publishing industry to meet her and some of the people who work with the Imagination Library program and it’s wonderful group of people who care a lot about what they do.  She deserves a hand for making new readers every day.

The Tournament of Books is in play. Fessing up, when I play along with the NCAA tournament, I pick by color and mascot if I don’t know anything about a team (my husband is full of useless useful basketball knowledge so this doesn’t happen as long as he can stop me from falling back on my old ways) but I would have picked winners by cover.  Cuz I’m a cover lover.

The Royal Mail is putting out some Harry Potter love.

That is all I have for today.  Enjoy your 23 hour day.  Happy Sunday!

Sunday Salon – Why I Shouldn’t Go to Going Out of Business Sales

Yesterday, while out enjoying the lovely weather (it’s raining today so getting out yesterday was imperative) we crossed paths with the Borders that’s closing in our neighborhood.  We decided to browse a bit and that’s how I came home with six new books.  In bookstores, browsing and buying are the same thing for me.  My TBR pile is officially out of control but it’s all good because I managed to pick up several books on the mighty big list so I’m considering it a win-win.

The Gates by John Connolly – a young kid goes trick or treating a few days early and finds out his neighbors have managed to open the gates to hell.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley – a writer using history as inspiration starts to wonder is she’s dealing with an ancestral memory.

Poison by Sara Poole – a young woman searching for her father’s killer finds herself in the position of poisoner for Cardinal Borgia.

The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse – a man traveling in the French Pyrenees during a snowstorm crashes his car and ends up at a small tavern where he meets a woman with a tragic story to tell.

The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger – a lady’s maid finds a new life but also finds out it’s not one meant for her.

Devil’s Brood by Sharon Kay Penman – the last days of the marriage of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Recently, these books also made it into the house:

Livia: Empress of Rome by Matthew Dennison – present from my husband who knows how much I love ancient Rome.  It’s my next non-fiction read.

Don’t Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon – LibraryThing Early Reviewers Give Away.

Twice a Spy by Keith Thomson – from the publisher.

And from the library:

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis – for the Time Travel Challenge.

The Red Wolf Conspiracy by Robert V.S. Redick – other than being fantasy, I don’t know much about it.  I found it searching but it looks interesting.

Busy the next few weeks?  I will be. 🙂

Last week I had the chance to read an ARC of The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen and if I had to describe it in one word it would be wonderful.  I’m planning to finish Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran today — another favorite author — and from there I have no idea what’s next but at least I have options.

A few fun things to share this week:

Harry Potter Quiz at The Guardian.

Life instructions, Jane Austen or JWwow (she’s on MTV’s Jersey Shore  if you don’t know who she is and since I had to Google that I wanted to share that bit of knowledge so others don’t have to look it up).  Trust me, you’ll go with Jane Austen.  Somehow this one made me feel old but smart then vindicated.

Minis Tirith out of toothpicks.

What your books do when you aren’t home.

New David Foster Wallace story to appear in The New Yorker. It’s been a few years since I’ve read one his books but I still don’t think I’m ready to tackle Infinite Jest.  I may never be but it will always be on my list.

Happy Sunday.

The Sunday Salon – A Slow Week

I didn’t do much posting this week which is ironic because I’m caught up on my reviews but for some reason I didn’t find the time to post anything much.  I finished Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (amazing), Emily and Einstein by Linda Frances Lee (fun), and I’m about half way through Fathom by Cherie Priest (interesting) so while the posting was slow, the reading was good.

Being honest, this will probably be rather short today too because I want to go to the Hirshhorn Museum to see an exhibit by Blinky Palermo.  At some point this week I will get some blog karma back and return to normally scheduled things though.  Admittedly, I’m a bit overscheduled so once that clears up all will be well.

Some more sharing…

Middle-earth According to Mordor – Salon article about a Russian author who re-tells the Lord of the Rings from the evil perspective.

Chicago Tribune article about the killing of the Dewey Decimal System – it seems my library or at least certain portions of it are going along with the trend.

The 2011 Tournament of Books begins March 7, 2011.

If you have an e-reader and don’t want people to know you’re reading it, you can make this nifty cover.

Happy Sunday.

The Sunday Salon – Sharing is Fun

While browsing the internets this week, I came across a few things that made me want to share.  My mom is probably bursting with pride to know I’m using my sharing skills.  🙂

The first is an article that appeared in The Washington Post earlier this week – ‘Tolkien Professor’ Corey Olsen Brings Middle-Earth to iTunes Via Podcast.  His website, The Tolkien Professor, is even more interesting and I’ve already found a few books on Tolkien criticism that will be added to my list.  I haven’t downloaded any of the lectures from iTunes, only because I’m hopeless when it comes to that and somehow always mess something up that confuzzles my husband, so I’m holding off but it will happen at some point.

This I found on BBC News – Divided Attention Disorder? Log off and read a book.  I laughed while reading it (it’s written by a comedian so it was intended) because this is something I do.  Feel overwhelmed?  Read.  The part about googling the plot though is something I’ve done, but I won’t hang my head in shame.  I like to know the end.

I had a good week of reading too.  I finished Spook by Mary Roach, Autumn: The City by David Moody, and started A Conspiracy of Kings by Meghan Whalen Turner.  I even managed to sneak in the writing of a few reviews this week too so I’m feeling very accomplished on the book front.

I’m planning to make a four course meal tonight for Valentine’s Day.  We’re celebrating a day early thanks to crazy Monday schedules so I’m off to start cooking.  Happy Sunday.

The Sunday Salon – Non-Fiction

I’ve been reading a non-fiction book all week.  In general, I find it takes me longer to read non-fiction than fiction I guess because I’m paying more attention to facts, forcing myself to slow down so as not to miss an important detail that will be critical to the master plan later on.  Not really sure but I think I have pinpointed one problem with reading non-fiction — I must not read about the same topic twice.  I should probably explain that rather broad statement.  Follow me if you will…

Last year I read a book about the Jamestown settlement.  The book focused on several people and a specific shipwreck that was being sent to provide provisions for the settlers, and due to the ship being wrecked and its passengers being stranded on Bermuda, when the ship’s crew and passengers finally arrived (on a different ship the first being wrecked; see what I mean about important details in non-fiction?) in Jamestown, they sort of saved the place.  Not entirely saved, Jamestown was a debacle but you don’t need me to tell you that.  Anyway, the current book, Savage Kingdom.  It’s more about everyone and everything involved with the Jamestown settlement.  So not only am I getting information about the settlement itself, the Native American tribes (very interesting and part of the reason I wanted to read a second book on said topic) already inhabiting the Chesapeake area, but also goings-on in England and Spain.  It’s a rather far-reaching and all encompassing book and though I’m finding it interesting, I feel as though I’ve already read great parts of this.

Also, I feel like I’m listening to a lecture and it’s a bit disjointed as if the professor keeps jumping around saying things like: “Oh, before we talk more about Captain John Smith and his dealings with Powhatan, let’s go back to England for a minute and talk about what was going on with James II and his negotiations with the Spanish who had already setup house in Florida and were a little peeved about the English double-talk about Jamestown.”  This is where I would normally say, quietly and to myself, “What?!  Did I miss something?” and start wondering how I could go about transferring to another class.  Also, in the picture in my head, this professor keeps running his hands through his hair and he starts to look as if he’s been electrified.  Also, he’s a man cuz the author of the book is and for no other reason and have no idea why I needed to point that out but I did.

Let’s say I’m not feeling it this time around.  Did I mention that already?  Felt I should again just in case you didn’t get that from the long, rambling above section punctuated with generalized boring class behavior.

A goal of mine in 2011 is to read more non-fiction, once a month if I can.  My next non-fiction book is called Spook and is about the afterlife.  It’s by Mary Roach who wrote Packing for Mars which I absolutely loved and you should read it.  No, really, I mean that.  You should totally read it but don’t read it while eating because there’s a lot of talk about bodily functions.  Fair warning, it’s all I have to offer.  She also wrote a book about cadavers and when I mentioned that to my husband he looked at me weird and I’m pretty sure he was having a silent conversation in his head that involved taking away my library card.  There’s also a book about Cleopatra roaming around that I want to read so maybe I should mention this to him so he doesn’t wonder anymore about my reading.

If you made it his far, thanks for sticking with me till the end of paragraph six today.  Happy Sunday fellow readers.

PS — Next time I promise not to be so disjointed in my Sunday Salon.  Feeling inspired this week I guess.

It’s Monday and I got nothin’

Ok, not entirely true but somewhat.  I’ve been hoping to get back to a regular blog rhythm this year but I seem to have turned into a cold and flu magnet and I haven’t felt like doing much writing.  After two rounds of antibiotics and a few days on the couch, I’m finally feeling good enough to sit up and thought I’d take a minute (a short one) to talk about a few of the books I read last week.

The Last Pendragon: A Story of Dark Age Wales by Sarah Woodbury — This was a Nook read.  I found it while looking at my Nook library online and downloaded it.  My love of Arthurian Legend always compels me to do these things.  It won’t top my best of list but it did help me get out of a slump.  There are some supernatural elements in this one that most Arthurian stories don’t have and while I’m not a huge fan of those additions to this story, it worked here.  It adheres to the basic story and many of the required elements are present — the sword in a stone, love, a merlin-like character, etc.  It was more character than plot driven but I’m all right with that.  All in all, interesting.

 

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill — I love ghost stories and when I found out my library had this one, I wanted it.  It delivered on the creepy front.  It’s tension filled and can make you want to turn the lights on in every room of your house.  On the surface it might seem a bit tame — a young lawyer is sent to handle the affairs of a deceased client who lived on a small, isolated island in the north of England.  What he finds is a town unwilling to share information about the woman whose affairs he’s handling and even less willing to talk about the house and property she owned.  Nothing is explained at first and that adds to the story being this dark spot in a small town’s history.  I loved it.

 

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness — As soon as this book entered my house I wanted to read it.  I put it off at first but then gave in as soon as possible.  I don’t really know what to say about this one because I loved it so so much.  Being sick makes it hard for me to read sometimes but I couldn’t put this book down.  The characters all worked for me, the story was complicated, it mixed science and history, and it was a book about a book.  Books about books always entice me.  It was also about witches, vampires, and daemons.  I thought I was sick of the vampire thing but they worked in this book.  I adored the cover too and yes I mentioned that in another post already.

I think my next book is going to be Time Travelers Never Die by Jack McDivitt.  I have a non-fiction book about Jamestown but I don’t think I’ll be able to comprehend that one in my current condition.  I also have Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen so my next few days are happily covered.