Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Original Breakfast at Tiffany’s Script Sells for Big Bucks

We just can’t seem to get away from hot written ephemera auction news lately. Every time we turn around, we’re reporting that some new poem or book or manuscript has left the block in a shower of unprecedented dollars.

Our most recent entry comes from Amherst, Massachusetts where Truman Capote’s typed and corrected script for the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s recently sold in an online auction for $306,000.

According to Associated Press, “Capote’s handwritten notations include changing the femme fatale’s name from Connie Gustafson to the now-iconic Holly Golightly.”

It appears the manuscript was bought by a Russian billionaire “who plans to display it in Moscow and Monaco.”

This Just In… The Seeker by Malcolm R. Campbell

David Ward grows up on a Montana ranch where he develops an enduring love of mountains and the magic of the high country secrets he learns from his medicine woman grandmother. A vision quest at the summit of a sacred mountain opens his eyes to his future while blinding him to the details.

As a seasonal employee at a mountain hotel, David meets Anne Hill during the summer of Glacier National Park’s worst flood. Out of the ravages of water, they spend an idyllic summer in the beautiful Garden of Heaven.

When Anne is confronted by a stalker on a dark street in her Florida college town, the magic David uses in an attempt to save her changes her and leads them into the dark territory of misunderstandings and the blood of Tate’s Hell Swamp.

You can order The Seeker here. Visit author Malcolm R. Campbell on the web here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Sotheby’s and PEN Team Up to Present Innovative Literary Auction

Auction house Sotheby’s and the English branch of PEN, the international writer’s organization, have teamed up to produce an innovative fundraiser for the organization. Fifty member authors have contributed first-edition copies of one of their books, annotated, commented on or illustrated in a creative way.

Some of the authors whose work is included are Margaret Atwood, Julian Barnes, Margaret Drabble, Helen Fielding, Nadine Gordimer, Seamus Heaney, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan, J.K. Rowling, Lionel Shriver and many others. The included works provide a fascinating insight into the creative process of each author.

The auction, to be held at Sotheby’s London on May 21st, will benefit English PEN to defend the freedom to write and the freedom to read in the UK and across the world.

According to Sotheby’s, the results of asking 50 authors to contribute in this way “are astonishing and highly individual. Some writers made copious amendments, others chose to jot comments on endpapers and blanks; some excised or corrected text and several illustrated their works.”

The works being auctioned on May 21st include Metroland (Julian Barnes), The Conservationist (Nadine Gordimer); Death of a Naturalist (Seamus Heaney), Life of Pi (Yann Martel) War Horse (Michael Morpurgo), Northern Lights (Philip Pullman), Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas (Ralph Steadman), Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead (Tom Stoppard), Knots and Crosses (Ian Rankin) and many others.

You can see the various annotations and learn how to bid here and here.

This Just In… Remember to Breathe by Simon Pont

“Last night I was breaking all the rules, making up new ones. Me, a wild bunch of one, trailing a blaze of glory, saying, yes, tonight, I'm living on a prayer. I was winging it, squaring off with fate, dialing my date with destiny, letting my ego write the checks, going eye-to-eye, punch-for-punch, drink-for-drink with the ruffian that is life.

“And when I was done, there was no need to look back in anger, because when I was done I could’t look back at all.”

Meet Samuel Grant. He’s trying to work a few things out.

Remember to Breathe is a rom-com trip set to a retro beat, for anyone who’s ever partied like it was 1999. And woken to realize that the last tequila was unwise.

You can order Remember to Breathe here. Visit author Simon Pont on the web here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Crime Fiction: Too Many Cooks and Champagne for One by Rex Stout

In 2008 and 2009, Bantam Books reprinted 10 of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin mysteries in rather handsome two-in-one paperback volumes. One of those -- comprising both Too Many Cooks and Champagne for One -- had been sitting on my shelf, unread, for a couple of years. But I finally took it with me on a recent trip.

Like most mystery-fiction fans, I’d read plenty of Nero Wolfe stories in years past, and was ready to become reacquainted. One of the stories in this paperback, Cooks, was originally published in 1938; the other saw print 20 years later.

My first surprise was that these tales stood up well, despite the passage of so much time. Even though I’d probably read them both before (in fact, I’m sure I read Champagne at some other point in the past), I was engrossed.

The next surprise was not so positive: I found it hard to deal with all the careless prejudice that features in Stout’s fiction, and was a significant part of the period during which he lived and wrote (1886-1975). It made me wonder how best to deal with this issue. We went through the same sort of debate a few years back with sanitized versions of Mark Twain works, and that didn’t seem to go so well.

Too Many Cooks is set at a spa in the American South, where some of the greatest chefs in the world have gathered. Wolfe, who is notorious for not wanting to leave his New York brownstone, has been invited as the keynote speaker.

But murder is on the menu when one of the attending chefs is killed. That event forces Wolfe to delve into the unsavory relationships between this gathering’s other guests, for without his investigative intervention, who knows how long the less-brilliant local authorities might take to solve this case? Wolfe doesn’t want to be away from home too long.

Wolfe and his younger, much more energetic chief investigator/secretary, Archie Goodwin, are their inimitable selves in these pages. The rest of the characters are feisty, opinionated and unpredictable. It will probably occur to the reader that some problems could have been resolved more easily, had there only been computers or cell phones at the time; but, in fact, it’s a pleasure to watch some old-school detecting.

In Champagne for One (1958), the set-up is more contrived. A wealthy New York woman sponsors a dinner and dance for a few residents of a home for unwed mothers -- a charity created by her late husband. One of those young residents, who had threatened to commit suicide, does, indeed, die at the event.

It sure looks like suicide. But Archie Goodwin, who had shown up for this occasion as a favor to an acquaintance, thinks it’s murder instead.

Once you get past the setting (a dance for unwed mothers? Really? Even in the 1950s, this would have been bizarre), Champagne offers a classic Wolfe puzzle. The great man is irritated; he doesn’t like his routine to be interrupted. But he finally puts his brain into gear, interviews everyone concerned, and works his way through both deception and blackmail to get to premeditated murder.

Too Many Cooks is the better of the two tales here, but also the one more tainted by ugly language. The racism on display probably comes from a combination of the times, the Southern location and the presence of many African-American characters.

But it’s not just those players who feel the brunt of bigotry; there are derogatory references made here to Italians as well.

As it turned out, I never got used to such insults. Each time I encountered one, it was like hitting a wall. I lost the flow of the story for a moment, had to swallow hard and then resume. But I don’t know any better way of handling this. The story, a classic of whodunit literature, is obviously a product of its era and place. I wouldn’t want someone deciding for me that I couldn’t read this or another work, simply because of its controversial language. ◊

Roberta Alexander is an editor and mystery reviewer in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

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This Just In… A Good Catch by L.L. Lee

The seven women in the Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, grief support group have been meeting for four years in an effort to comfort each other.

Now, tired of grieving and feeling sorry for themselves, some are ready to get on with their lives and look for new love. Everyone joins the fishing party; ven the woman in the throes of menopause who vows at first to stay single, and the 90ish member who has lost three husbands. That’s when the trolling and fun begin.

In spite of their hilarious, inept attempts at finding love, they are successful in landing their catches, the good as well as the bad. Now what do they do with them? Do they throw them back in or are they keepers? Are they really ready to let go of their former loves?

You can order A Good Catch here. Visit author L.L. Lee’s Amazon page here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

New in Paperback: Raising Elijah by Sandra Steingraber

Several years ago, my husband and I decided not to have children. It’s a decision we’ve seldom regretted, but I never regretted it less than when reading Sandra Steingraber’s Raising Elijah (Da Capo), a book that is essentially about the hazards of raising children in an increasingly toxic world.

Dangers to children -- both born and unborn -- abound. The very thought of it must, for parents, be crazy making. I can’t imagine how they do it. But if Raising Elijah were just a book about the myriad environmental hazards to children, it would be a deeply interesting book. Steingraber knows these waters well. But that would be a book that lacked this author’s heart and voice. Raising Elijah is lovely. It is interesting and mortifying, moving and funny. A call to action and a call to grief. Most simply, it is a wonderful book.

Steingraber, herself a PhD and a cancer survivor, is the author of Living Downstream and Having Faith, both highly personal books that look at the environment and what troubles it in an entirely lucid and compelling way. And while all of what she shares is interesting, some of it is downright shocking. Even alarming. Take this:
Here is what we know about the boy babies of women pregnant during the 9/11 attacks: Some of them disappeared. That is to say, they were never born at all. And they vanished not just among women living in New York City but throughout the United States. Three to four months after 9/11, significantly fewer boys were born and the death rate of male fetuses … increased by 12 percent.
This gender-selective loss and consequent reduction in the male birth rate is not without precedent. The male birth rate has been known to decline after “natural disasters, pollution events, and economic collapse.” No one understands the biological underpinnings for this phenomenon. 
And while on a certain level, all of this makes perfect sense, it feels startling to have it pointed out in this way: and having it not be something that is always and perfectly known. Plus, by the time early in the book when Steingraber shares these details, you are so entwined in the details of the story she is telling that when she does tell us, you just want to weep.

Raising Elijah is a call to action and a sweet love letter to motherhood from a talented and learned pen. ◊

Monica Stark is a contributing editor to January Magazine. She currently makes her home on a liveaboard boat somewhere in the North Pacific.

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This Just In… I’ll See You in Your Dreams by Tony Miller

Charlie was a ghost hunter who didn’t really believe in ghosts, but he believed in the effect being a ghost hunter had on girls. He thought he had perfected the ultimate pick up line, “I’m a ghost hunter.” All that came crashing down when he met his soulmate… a ghost.

While photographing a Victorian mansion he was startled to meet the ghost of Anne Meux. She died in 1970 at age 85. In ghost form, she was only 25 and beautiful. Charlie found himself in a riveting conversation. Who was she? Where was she? What was she doing in her old room?

After their conversation, Tony asked himself: Why was he madly in love with an apparition? Or, even worse, a hallucination? If she was in a parallel universe, could he bring her back to his time and place? His best friend Stanley was the smartest guy he knew. Stanley was working on his PhD in Physics. Surely he could figure this out.

Presented with the idea, Stanley was intrigued and agreed to help his best friend. A physicist, Stanley was well aware of parallel universes and the duality of the universe. Stanley was convinced that science and religion were two sides of the same coin. The dogma in both seemed to prevent the ultimate discovery of “truth.” He enjoyed asking the curious: “Since ‘space’ was created by the big bang…what did it go bang in?” and “If God created it all by saying ‘Let there be light!’ who was he talking to?” And the ultimate question: “What was there just before the bang or Gods command?” The same answer.

You can order I’ll See You in Your Dreams here. Visit author Tony Miller on the web here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Dawkins Tops Lists of World Thinkers

Like the lists of the most beautiful and most successful people in the world, a list of the world’s best thinkers has to be at least a teensy bit subjective.

Even so, when Prospect Magazine named author, intellectual and all ’round brainy guy, Richard Dawkins, the world’s top thinker a few days ago, there wasn’t a lot of disagreement. Says Prospect:
When Richard Dawkins, the Oxford evolutionary biologist, coined the term “meme” in The Selfish Gene 37 years ago, he can’t have anticipated its current popularity as a word to describe internet fads. But this is only one of the ways in which he thrives as an intellectual in the internet age. He is also prolific on Twitter, with more than half a million followers—and his success in this poll attests to his popularity online. He uses this platform to attack his old foe, religion, and to promote science and rationalism. Uncompromising as his message may be, he’s not averse to poking fun at himself: in March he made a guest appearance on The Simpsons, lending his voice to a demon version of himself.
Other authors who made the list are Oliver Sacks (#13); Arundhati Roy (#15); Hilary Mantel (#33), Zadie Smith (#35); David Grossman (#42) and Andrew Solomon (#43).

Scroll down the page to see Prospect’s methodology in picking their top 65.

The list is interesting, but the Guardian seems a little skeptical at least about some aspects when it says:
To qualify for this year's world thinkers rankings, it was not enough to have written a seminal book, inspired an intellectual movement or won a Nobel prize several years ago (hence the absence from the 65-strong long list of ageing titans such as Noam Chomsky or Edward O Wilson); the selectors' remit ruthlessly insisted on "influence over the past 12 months" and "significance to the year's biggest questions". 
This requirement may have been a factor in the top 10 being all-male (presumably a source of frustration to the five women on the selection panel, including Prospect's editor Bronwen Maddox), with longlistees such as Hilary Mantel, Martha Nussbaum and Sheryl Sandberg not making it through to the elite of the elite, and the likes of Germaine Greer and Naomi Klein not even making it into the 65. But it may also, of course, simply reflect the gender make-up of the monthly's readership.
Their assessment is here.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

New Today: The Hope Factory by Lavanya Sankaran

Imagine the creation of an author who lives in Bangalore, studied at Bryn Mawr and has lived in NYC. Imagine the best of all of that: wordly observations, cunningly made with sophisticated style and an observance of an inward eye and you have an idea of what the work of Lavanya Sankaran looks like.

The Hope Factory (Dial) is the second book of the author of 2006’s The Red Carpet, a collection of fresh and fascinating stories set in Bangalore. The Hope Factory seems to pull what was best about Sankaran’s first book and set it to the music of a full-length work. The result is a stunning debut novel. Sankaran’s voice is funny, wise and wry as she weaves her way cunningly through this novel of domestic disturbance in a newly industrialized Bangalore.

Anand and Vidya are the new, modern Bangalore. Anand gives every appearance of being the successful businessman, right down to his grasping, demanding wife, Vidya.

On the other end of the comfort scale is their maid, Kamala, a woman whose life is precarious in part because of an unsuccessful marriage and a son on the verge of bad-boydom, but in another part because Kamala’s happiness depends also on her employer’s wife, and that’s not a good place for anyone to be.

Despite this interconnection, Sankaran does a skillful job of keeping the two threads distinct until the time is right and we come to understand that the ultimate connection between these characters is deeper than we might have thought.

The Hope Factory is a pleasing and delicious book and Sankaran is a writer whose gifts we anticipate enjoying further in future. ◊

Jones Atwater is a contributing editor to January Magazine.

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This Just In… A Game of Proof by Tim Vicary

A mother’s worst nightmare -- can her son be guilty of murder?

Sarah Newby, who left school at 15, and was living as a teenage single parent on an inner-city estate, has worked her way up to begin a career as a criminal barrister. But what should she do when her own son, Simon, is arrested and charged with a series of brutal rapes and murders?

Has Sarah, in her single-minded determination to create a career for herself, neglected her son so much that she no longer knows him? He has often lied to her in the past, so how can she trust him when he says he is innocent this time? And what should she do when she herself uncovers evidence that seems to suggest his guilt?

You can order A Game of Proof here. Visit author Tim Vicary on the web here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Happy World Book Day!

Seventeen years ago, UNESCO declared April 23rd World Book and Copyright Day and every year seems to bring exciting new ways to celebrate the occasion.

I know that, in this space, I’m preaching to the choir and talking to the already converted. We like books, right? No secret there. We, all of us, like books a lot. But the UNESCO initiative offers us a basket into which we may place our ideas for sharing not only our love of books, but our passion for literacy. As UNESCO director general Irina Bokova wrote in a special Book Day greeting:
This day provides an opportunity to reflect together on ways to better disseminate the culture of the written word and to allow all individuals, men, women and children to access it, through literacy programmes and support for careers in publishing, book shops, libraries and schools. Books are our allies in spreading education, science, culture and information worldwide.
How the day is marked varies vastly from country to country -- everything from huge organized book giveaways in the US, UK and Ireland to reading and even writing events throughout the world. UNESCO offers up a list of resources here. Also, the World Book Night web page is here. Meanwhile, Techcrunch gets all grumpy here.

In addition to book happenings, April 23rd brings some pretty important book anniversaries. William Shakespeare died on this day and Vladimir Nabokov was born on it so it seems an appropriate day for action around books, literacy and reading.


This Just In… Flight by Lindsay Leggett

The first rule of survival in the Underground: When you’re outside, keep your eyes on the skies. Ace Harpy Hunter Piper Madden is used to danger, but the death of her brother slams the brakes on her high-torque lifestyle and leaves her broken and confused.

On the run from the dictating Elder Corporation, she’s eventually found in the quiet underground city of Ichton where she is asked to work for the Corp on contract to quell a new and frightening Harpy threat. A chance encounter leaves Piper privy to a dangerous secret beneath the ancient walls of the dead city. It’s a secret that will spark her world into a grand-scale war. ◊

You can order about Flight here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis. Want to see your new book included? You can see details here.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Fiction: Dark Tide by Elizabeth Haynes

Anyone who has ever taken part in Nanowrimo -- National Novel Writing Month -- and wondered what was possible need wonder no more. If ever there was a best case scenario, Elizabeth Haynes has lived it/is living it.

It looks like this: Haynes, a mother, wife and police intelligence analyst who lives in Kent, England, made her first foray into fiction writing with Nanowrimo in 2006. Fast forward not very far to her first novel. Into the Darkest Corner was published in the UK early in 2011 to wide acclaim. It was named Amazon UK’s best book of the year and film rights were sold to Revolution Film.

Two years later, Dark Tide (not to be confused with the faintly crappy 2012 Halle Berry movie of the same title) is living up to the promise of that first passionately written blockbuster.

Another tense thriller that is likely to keep a lot of beachgoers riveted this summer as they get to know the engaging Genevieve, a London salesperson who chucks the stress of job and city to live her dream on a houseboat in Kent.

What the gorgeous Genevieve hasn’t shared with her pals is that she’s paid for her new start working weekends as a pole dancer and a not-so-exclusive gentleman’s club. The secret threatens to come out, though, when a body washes up during her housewarming party and Genevieve recognizes the victim as one of her colleagues from the club.

As charming as readers will find Genevieve, she is not the most reliable of narrators and during our time with her we come to doubt her judgement and even her perspective. We find ourselves, then, in a well-wrought psychological drama where everything is in question and nothing is quite what it seems.

Haynes has penned another winner and Nanowrimo has delivered a poster girl.  After all, bestsellerdom, films coming and wonderful new books on the way: it just doesn’t get much better than that. ◊

Sienna Powers is a contributing editor to January Magazine.

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Friday, April 19, 2013

London Book Fair Set Stage for Big Deals

When the dust settled on the London Book Fair on Wednesday, five significant deals were pulling headlines. The Guardian rounds them up here, headlined by a Paul McCartney biography by Philip Norman whose previous works include books about John Lennon and Mick Jagger; UK rights for Red Notice by American businessman Bill Browder; Outrage, Naomi Wolf’s follow up to Vagina, a close look at the 1857 Obscene Publications Act; a non-fiction work called A History of Waterloo by noted fictionist Bernard Cornwell; and an oral history of folk clubs called Singing from the Floor by JP Bean.

See the full story here.

This Just In… Oh, No, They’re Engaged by Joy Smith

Your daughter or son is getting married. Congratulations! But what is the role of the mother of the bride or groom? Oh, No, They’re Engaged: A Sanity Guide for the Mother of the Bride or Groom seeks to help any mother figure out the best ways to guide her child through the emotions, issues and decisions that arise once a wedding is on the horizon.

The betrothed couple’s life is changing, and so are the lives of their parents. Soon-to-be brides and grooms need the support and encouragement of their families now more than ever, as they struggle with the decisions and commitments that go along with planning a union with a life partner.

Oh, No, They’re Engaged allows any mother to carry off her parental role in planning with dignity and common sense while explaining the execution of a traditional wedding. Included is vital information on helping the couple deal with the emotional decisions, relationship issues and budget concerns that accompany the wedding planning process -- without losing sight of their dream. From controlling expenses to managing the guest list, this handy reference guide provides all of the information critical to helping a son or daughter have the wedding of their dreams.

You can order Oh, No, They’re Engaged here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Young Adult: Hostage Three By Nick Lake

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing: a girl on a yacht with her super-rich banker father; a chance for the family to heal after a turbulent time; the peaceful sea, the warm sun . . . But a nightmare is about to explode as a group of Somali pirates seizes the boat and its human cargo - and the family becomes a commodity in a highly sophisticated transaction. Hostage 1 is Dad - the most valuable. Amy is Hostage 3. As she builds a strange bond with one of her captors, it becomes brutally clear that the price of a life and its value are very different things . . .”
Hostage Three (Bloomsbury) definitely has a dramatic opening. Amy is standing on the ship, about to be shot. It’s one of those openings that draw the reader in immediately, before going back three months, before all this started. 

Amy has just completed school, but has been automatically failed due to misbehaviour. Her mother had committed suicide during a bout of depression and Amy blames herself for having missed the clues. Her banker father is absent a lot of the time on work-related trips and now he has married again; her misbehaviour is an attempt to grab his attention. But there isn’t an info dump or exposition; you get a little information here, then more in the course of the novel, just as much as you need at any one time, so that it builds up a substantial portrait before the end -- and the final pieces fall into place after the main drama is over. Nicely done!

Despite the dramatic opening, this is not a white-knuckle thriller. The family is always in danger, so the tension is there, but that’s not the main point of the story. The trip was intended to heal the trauma and, ironically, it does, but not in the way expected. There’s this attractive young pirate, you see, Farouz.  Farouz, however, has his own tragedy, part of the constant wars in his country. As the young couple share their troubles and their memories, both begin to heal, but the ending won’t be quite as simple as in the average YA novel. 

I found the organised nature of the piracy fascinating. The Somalis, Farouz explains to Amy, had been fishermen until their fishing grounds were wiped out. Piracy has become their new local industry. He himself is the son of teachers, but he needs the money from this to get his innocent brother out of prison, where he, too, is being held for ransom.  

It’s not what we think of when we hear the word “piracy.” There are wealthy sponsors of the raids. The spoils are shared out so much per crew member, so much for the sponsor, so much for the families of any pirates -- or, as they call themselves coast guards -- who die. Any pirate who does the wrong thing during the course of the hostage situation is fined; the hostages are important to their captors and they won’t harm them unnecessarily. 

I did wonder why the heroine had to be half-American. She and her family had been living in London for several years and it didn’t really add anything to the story, except it’s convenient for the purposes of a scene set in Mexico. It wasn’t vital, though. 

It took me a while to begin this book, which I probably wouldn’t have chosen if I hadn’t received it for review, but it’s a good, easy read and, once begun, it took me very little time to finish. 

If you want a novel that reads like an adventure, but has a little more depth, this is a good one to try.

Recommended for teens from about 14 and up. ◊

Sue Bursztynski lives in Australia, where she works as a teacher-librarian. She has written several books for children and young adults, including Crime Time: Australians Behaving Badly and, most recently, the YA novel Wolfborn. Her blog, The Great Raven, can be found at http://suebursztynski.blogspot.com.

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This Just In… An Old Brown Horse (That Knows What He Is Doing) by Kandy Kay Scaramuzzo

An Old Brown Horse (That Knows What He Is Doing) by Kandy Kay Scaramuzzo is the story of a 25-year-old ranch horse who was injured and pretty much left to die. He was brought to a stable and sold, even though no one really expected him to survive and reborn into a merchant of hope. His amazing spirit and calmness helped many people over the next 13 years as he became a wonderful mentor and therapy horse.

This is Pie’s story as he tells about the most amazing second chance at life and his travels through it as well as the shy young girl whom he helps as she moves into adulthood. Meanwhile, Pie introduces readers the other horses and people that helped shape his journey. Pie’s influence knows no bounds through the 13 years we spend with him, and he continues to shine his light even at the ripe old age of 38.

This is a feel good story about life, love, second chances and giving back.

You can order An Old Brown Horse here. Visit author Kandy Kay Scaramuzzo on the web here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Book Covers: What’s Hot, What’s Not

Are book covers a fashion item? David Middleton, January Magazine’s art director and a seasoned cover designer in his own right says, “Yes. I suppose you could look at it in that way. There is even an argument that the seasonal nature of the industry plays a part.”

Not coats or sweaters, of course: books don’t actually need to stay warm. But, like clothing and cars and other things highly influenced by sales numbers, “the visual vernacular is always being pushed towards change.”

Part of this, Middleton insists, has to do with a Holy Grail-style search for a cover that will sell any book anytime to anyone. “And, of course, everyone knows that bestsellers aren’t created by any single thing.” No sense, for instance, wrapping the proverbial sow’s ear in a silk purse. Still, “in an environment as competitive as contemporary publishing, every element is being pushed as far as it can go.”

All of that might explain some of what The Guardian’s blog is on about while looking at this year’s book jacket fashions. Some of it is plain fun. For example, they break down the covers of the latest books from some very popular authors and define the jacket style just as one would when writing about the newest offerings from fashion designers. For example, looking at a current trend to entirely type-based covers, The Guardian offers:
Look: pure text - just name and titleExample: Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieAlso worn by: Julian Barnes, Gillian FlynnWhat it says: bow down - author is such a god that usual visual accessories would be vulgar
Nine trends are examined in this way. And what’s not hot? The Guardian has that covered, as well:
On the way out are yellows and pastels; the curious short-lived vogue for showing only women’s feet or arms; images of furniture; ostensibly hand-illustrated covers (eg The Art of Fielding) - and the retro look in general has become passe.
Except of course, when it isn’t. After all, Middleton reminds us, all the book industry ever seems to need for a trend to start is a big seller. “I don’t think it would take very much at all to bring all those feet and arms right back.” ◊


This Just In… Epsilon A.R. by Zackery Alexander Humphreys

Hundreds of years into the future mankind has gone underground to relocate to Epsilon; a beautiful city run by a strong, secretive government that keeps its citizens in check by subtle manipulation and strict schedules. No one questions the city’s authority and no one is unhappy.

ALN-896, an average man who is just trying to live a normal life, begins to have dreams; something strange and rare in Epsilon. In his dreams a man named Harry dies. ALN-896 shrugs this off as if nothing has happened. It was only a dream. The next day, however, he is arrested and sent to prison for killing Harry.

Now inside prison, ALN-896 begins to learn about what the government of Epsilon has been doing and he plans on escaping. Not only from prison, but from Epsilon. This one decision turns him against everything he has ever known and forces him to face against centuries of lies. To escape means to live, but what will it cost?

You can order Epsilon A.R. here. Visit author Zackery Alexander Humphreys on the web here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Rare Poetry Manuscripts Fetch Record Prices

Though poetry often seems undervalued, it seems fitting that poetry month should be highlighted by a sale that sets record-breaking prices for some rare examples of work by well-known authors.

The sale was held in three parts by Bonhams in London and represents a lifetime of collecting by poet and scholar Roy Davids. Bonhams says it was the finest “collection of poetry ever to come to auction. In Mr David’s own words, ‘it would now be impossible for the present collection to be even approximately replicated.’”

The Charlotte Brontë manuscript we wrote about last week fetched more than double its pre-sale estimate of £40,000-45,000, or roughly $61,000-68,000 US. When the hammer fell, the poem written by a 13-year-old Charlotte Brontë had fetched £92,450 ($142133.).

The poem, “I’ve Been Wandering the Greenwoods,” was hand-written in the tiny script the Brontë children are known to have used in an effort to save paper.

The sale represents a world record for a work by Charlotte Brontë, because even though she wrote around 200 poems, most of her work is already held by institutions and thus seldom comes on the block, making this offering quite rare.

The same sale also brought a record price for the last known manuscript poem by John Keats. That manuscript was from the draft of his well known early poem, “I Stood Tiptoe on a Little Hill.” The manuscript consists of 33 lines from the work scribbled on both front and back showing how the poet revised his thoughts as he wrote. Estimated at £40,000-45,000, it sold for a world record £181,250 ($278,654.).

Nor were these record breakers the only sharp prices in the sale. W. H. Auden’s “Stop All the Clocks” sold for £23,750 ($36,513), Robert Burns’ “Afton Braes’ sold for £39,650 ($60,958) and Lord Byron’s “Sun of the Sleepless” was purchased for £26,250 ($40,356).


This Just In… Cold River: A Survivor’s Story by Jozef Imrich

Cold River: A Survivor’s Story is about man’s desire for freedom during a time when none existed.

Author Imrich describes the village in which he grew up with such emotion and sadness that the reader can hear the snow crunching beneath his expectant mother’s feet as she makes her way through the snow drifts. This story is fact, not fiction. When you are finished you will know what it is like to taste freedom for the first time. And perhaps feel the pain of its cost.

“Aches to read this. I have grown up on versions of this story -- they have molded who I am today. You bring much of it back -- and with great skill and power. May this story reach many, many.” -- The Smoking Poet

“Jozef Imrich has written the War and Peace of escapes. Havel tackled free will, Tolstoy the meaning of life, Imrich practiced what they preached... Citizen journalist’s job is like a baker's work -- his rolls are tasty as long as they're fresh; after two days they're stale; after a week, they're covered with mould and fit only to be thrown out.”

You can read more about Cold River: A Survivor’s Story by Jozef Imrich here and here. The book can be ordered here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Books. And Bars. And Books

Trust Flavorwire to actually come up with the best flavored reading.

The piece is called “15 Amazing Book-Filled Bars Where We’d Like to Drink” and the delivery is stellar. As they point out, what’s better than a book? “A night out with a book. Or, in the case of many of these fine establishments, a whole wall of books. After all, when else will you feel as inspired to pull down a favorite tome and do a dramatic reading than when you’re on your second cocktail?”

The answer is multifaceted. (We were promised 15, after all.) And international. Look for The Laundromat Café in Reykjavik, Iceland (shown at right); Book Bar in Lhasa, Tibet; The Bookstore Bar at The Alexis Hotel in Seattle; Týnská Bar and Books in Prague and what seems like a whole bunch more. The common denominator in all these establishments: literary leanings, gorgeous drinks, elegant decor. What more is required?

The full piece is here.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

This Just In… Knightfall by R. Jackson Lawrence

When his world-changing experiment is sabotaged, 15-year-old genius, Benjamin Knight, is cast into another world where an uneasy peace hangs in the balance.

Saved from near death by a band of traders, he joins the Road Trains on their journey north as he struggles to understand what’s happened to him. However, Ben soon realizes that everyone has their secrets and that no one is safe, especially when one man has the power to realize his ambitions.

Friends are lost, plots revealed and battles fought as the unlikely companions seek to prevent war.

Book 1 of the Chronicle of Benjamin Knight.

“Lord of the Rings for the Call of Duty generation.”

You can order Knightfall here. Visit author R. Jackson Lawrence on the web here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


SF/F: The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth

Though best known for her children’s books, Kate Forsyth has now written two adult novels in a row on fairy tale themes. Bitter Greens (on this year’s Aurealis and Ditmars lists, the Australian awards for speculative fiction) was about the young woman who wrote a version of the Rapunzel story back in the 17th century, intertwined with the Rapunzel tale itself. That one was historical fantasy, The Wild Girl is straight historical fiction centered around those collectors of tales, the Brothers Grimm, as seen by the girl next door, Dortchen Wild, who would eventually marry one of them and told them about a quarter of the stories in their collection. But the fairy tales are there anyway, again intertwined with the main story, though not in exactly the same way as in Bitter Greens. There are quotes from the stories Dortchen Wild told Wilhelm Grimm, carefully connected with whatever is happening in that part of the novel.
Dortchen Wild, daughter of an apothecary and no mean herbalist herself, falls in love with Wilhelm Grimm when she is just 12 and he a few years older. He is the big brother of her best friend Lotte, kind and handsome and probably doesn’t know she exists, except as someone who knows many of the folk tales he and his brother Jakob are collecting.

But the years go by. Napoleon invades. The small German country of Hesse become the kingdom of Westphalia, ruled by Napoleon’s extravagant and heedless younger brother, Jerome. The Grimms and Dortchen’s family have a lot more to worry about than a romance that might or might not happen. And Dortchen has been abused horribly by her father, one of the nastier characters I have come across in fiction recently.

This is a wonderful piece of historical fiction. It is based on an idea expressed by Valerie Paradiz in Clever Maids: The Secret History Of The Grimm Fairy Tales, that the Grimm brothers got their stories, not from illiterate peasants and old grannies at the spinning wheel, but from middle class, educated young women of their acquaintance, starting with the girl next door.

As with all good historical fiction, history has been interpreted. There will always be some things we don’t or can’t know. When that happens, the author has to pull together the facts we do know and come to a conclusion. Forsyth has been done that very well. The author has taken only a few minor bits of license, which she mentions in her afterword, but she has done it intelligently, researching the period and the people thoroughly and making it all believable. It’s strange, reading The Wild Girl, to imagine that all this was going on while the Regency was happening in England and Jane Austen was writing gentle, witty romances.

I hadn’t realized that the first edition of the Grimm stories was a flop. Live and learn! Another thing: I always thought the Grimm stories were nastier and more violent than their counterparts in other countries, but this isn’t always the case. While reading The Wild Girl I was comparing Grimm stories with those of Perrault and others. “Sleeping Beauty” in Grimm ends with the princess and her prince wandering off happily into the sunset; the French Perrault story doesn’t and with the princess awakening. She has a monster for a mother-in-law: literally! One who tries to eat her and her children. “Aschenputtel” has some gruesome bits, but at least Grimm’s Cinderella isn’t a murderer like her Italian counterpart, Cenerentola, whom I discovered on  the Sur La Lune Fairy Tales web site. The story of “Little Red Riding Hood” is nastier in the French version.

Whether you love fairy tales or historical fiction or romance, there is something for you in The Wild Girl.

Sue Bursztynski lives in Australia, where she works as a teacher-librarian. She has written several books for children and young adults, including Crime Time: Australians Behaving Badly and, most recently, the YA novel Wolfborn. Her blog, The Great Raven, can be found at http://suebursztynski.blogspot.com.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What Maggie Inspired

When Margaret Thatcher died on April 8th at the age of 87, she left behind a legacy of firsts… and a path of vitriol. In fact, it’s difficult to recall a leader whose passing inspired such a wide range of emotion from even the mild-mannered. Love her or hate her -- and there were plenty in both camps -- former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was not a figure who inspired ambivalence.

Alex Shephard, writing for Melville House’s MobyLives, speaks eloquently for the haters:
Over the course of her 11 year reign, Thatcher sold every government asset that wasn’t bolted down, crippled Britain’s once powerful trade unions, and even snatched the milk out of the hands of unsuspecting schoolchildren (also: exploited an unnecessary war to win reelection; supported apartheid, Pinochet, and the Khmer Rouge; discriminated against homosexuals; inspired Sarah Palin). Or, to put it in the emptier language of obituspeak, she was a transformational, controversial figure whose legacy is still felt today.
Then Shephard rounds out the “tribute” with quotes from five writers and five Thatcher-inspired songs. My favorite of the quotes comes from Martin Amis, who in a 1989 Elle interview said, in part, “…the only interesting thing about Mrs. Thatcher is that she isn’t a man. Tricked out with the same achievements, the same style and ‘vision,’ a Marvyn or a Marmaduke Thatcher would be as dull as rain, as dull as London traffic, as dull as the phosphorescent prosperity, the boutique squalor of Thatcher’s England (or its southeastern quadrant.)….British politics has long ceased to be sexy. But for the time being, at least, it does have plenty of gender.”

Meanwhile, The Guardian reports on the small bouquet of Thatcher biographies that are madly being rushed to print. It’s difficult to explain the reason they need to rush, though. The 87-year-old baroness had not been in the best of health for a number of years.

And though new books on Thatcher will begin appearing as quickly as the presses can crank, there are already armloads of books on Britain’s first and only female Prime Minister in print. Historian Richard Aldous rounds them up for The London Telegraph here.


This Just In… Once Upon A Life, In Time, In Spirit, And Flesh by LuCretia Crump

Once Upon A Life, In Time, In Spirit, And Flesh is a poetic novel with impeccable poems in relation to and imperative for today’s times for both men and women. Author LuCretia Crump takes the human experience into journeys subjected to love, triumph, self-awareness, family, hope, life, joy, knowledge and future to an enlightening escapade.

LuCretia Crump is a native of the lovely historically architected, and segregated Chi-town. Her life encompasses several roles that she loves, which are wife, mother, corporate employee and college student. She is also an accomplished former commercial, print and petite fashion model who has a genuine passion for writing.

Order Once Upon A Life, In Time, In Spirit, And Flesh here. You can visit LuCretia Crump on the web here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Rare Brontë Poem WIll Highlight Sale

A rare handwritten poem by a 13-year-old Charlotte Brontë will go on sale at Bonhams in London tomorrow.

The catalog description of Lot 62 reads as follows:
BRONTË, CHARLOTTE (1816-1855)AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT POEM WRITTEN IN HER MINUSCULE HAND SIGNED 'C. BRONTE', dated by her 14 December 1829 and with the autograph note 'from the Young Mans Intelligencer', on a small slip of paper (c. 3 x 3 inches, formerly part of the address leaf of a letter - on the verso survive 'Miss Br' and 'Rev' with a hand-inscribed postal rate), [Haworth Rectory], 14 December 1829 
I've been wandering in the greenwoods And mid flowery smiling plains I've been listening to the dark floods To the thrushes thrilling strains 
You can see the full poem and the balance of the description here.

Bonhams has put an estimate of £40,000-45,000 and roughly $61,000-68,000 US.

The same sale includes photographic portraits of author Kingsley Amis taken by Mark Gerson and Christopher Barker, each valued at $610-760, an autographed manuscript of Louisa May Alcott’s poem “To the First Robin” valued at $4500-6100 and manuscript pages and a photographic portrait of Elizabeth Barrett Browning with values between $12,000 and $24,000.

Details of tomorrow’s sale can be seen here.

Meanwhile Miranda K. Pennington writes charmingly at The American Scholar about what it would be like just to hold Brontë’s manuscript:
I’m not fond of the Brontë sisters’ poetry. It contains few hints of the passion that made their fiction so radical and satisfying. Charlotte didn’t include “I’ve been wandering in the greenwoods” in the volume of poetry she and her sisters published, but I would spend my last dime on this precious scrap if I could. Why? Because Charlotte Brontë made it. She tore off a bit of paper and wrote on it. A messy writer myself, I’m charmed by the way she wrote “From enameled ground,” and then inserted “the fair” before “enameled” so the line is crowded with the addition. Her handwriting is so small it needs a magnifying glass to be deciphered.
You can see the full piece here.


Cookbooks: 150 Best Desserts in A Jar by Andrea Jourdan and 150 Best Ebelskiver Recipes by Camilla V. Saulsbury

When it comes to esoteric cookbooks, there aren’t a lot of outfits who can beat Robert Rose. It’s not that the company produces weird cookbooks. And they’re mostly pretty good. What gets me is that, on the surface at least, some of these books would seem to have a pretty limited market.

Take for example a recent title: 150 Best Ebelskiver Recipes by Camilla V. Saulsbury. Now, it’s possible that ebelskiver information is available outside of exclusive cooking supply store Williams-Sonoma, but I’ve never heard these mentioned anyplace else. And they look delicious. Sure they do. Saulsbury tells us that they’re “traditional Danish pancakes served as a sweet treat on special occasions. About the size of a racquetball, they taste like a hybrid of a doughnut, a popover and a pancake.” Sounds delicious, right? But it gets better: the dough completely surrounds the filling, which is what makes just the right pan absolutely essential.

So if ebelskiver is on your to-do list, Saulsbury’s book is the absolute bomb. It covers every imaginable aspect of ebelskiver and it does it in an entirely lucid fashion. We have here history, equipment (it’s a short list but, as I said, essential) and then on to the 150 glorious recipes: Cornmeal Ebelskiver with Cherry Jam; Praline Ebelskivers and even an Italian version called Canoli Puffs, the details of which I feel comfortable leaving to your imagination.

Esoteric? Yes. But if, as I said, if you’ve had a hankering to do ebelskivers, look no further.

Ebelskivers aside, if I were asked to identify my favorite of recent esoteric Robert Rose titles, it would have to be 150 Best Desserts in a Jar by Andrea Jourdan. Though the title can’t help make you smirk (It implies the answer to a question, after all. And who has ever asked that question?) there are some absolutely awesome desserts in this book, and you don’t even necessarily have to make all of them in a jar!

“I have always loved jars,” Jourdan begins. “There are so many sizes and shapes and they sparkle so beautifully when freshly washed.”

While all of that is true, it’s not my favorite part. What I love: I never seem to have enough ramekins around when I want them in order to do crème brûlée for a crowd. But widemouth Mason jars? I always have plenty of those. With one fell swoop, Jourdan has solved one of my personal kitchen challenges. But in the 149 other recipes included in the book, she offers to widen all of our repertoires in several directions. Pear and Almond Crumble. Apricot and Chocolate Chip Pudding. Chocolate Gingerbread. Cherry Jubilee with Wine Jelly. Lemon Trifle. Peach and Mango Parfait. Obviously, I could go on, but you see where this is going: a wonderful, wide array of sweet tooth possibilities, and all of it either prepared or served in some sort of jar.

There are others: all just as solid. 175 Best Mini-Pie Recipes. The 8 - Week Healthy Skin Diet. 200 Best Ice Pop Recipes and others. Esoteric slices for your kitchen, covering only a single aspect of possibility, but covering it very, very well. ◊

Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine and the author of several books.


This Just In… Heron’s Path by Alethea Eason

Heron’s Path is a young adult fantasy novel for all ages. Set in an alternative universe of northern California at the start of the 20th century, Katy and Celeste believe they are fraternal twins. They have grown up listening to the stories that belong to their native step-grandmother, Olena, and the world of her people, the Nanchuti, is more real to them than that of the civilization their parents chose to leave behind.

Celeste undergoes a frightening transformation, and Katy must decide what her love for Celeste means. Heron’s Path is both a spiritual journey and an exciting adventure as the girls travel upriver to the deep wilderness to discover the truth of the path that is Celeste’s destiny.

“Heron’s Path is a beautiful read. I was swept away by Alethea Eason’s rich and beautiful evocations of the natural world.”

Order Heron’s Path here. You can visit author Alethea Eason on the web here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Called to Film

The Calling, by previously mysterious author Inger Ash Wolfe, will pick up filming in Ontario this week. The production features a cast that seems destined to get the film a lot of attention. From Filmoria:
Two powerhouse best actress winners have signed on to play mother and daughter in the Jason Stone directed thriller titled The Calling. Based on the Canadian set, best-seller from author Inger Ash Wolfe, the film stars Susan Sarandon as police inspector Hazel Micallef, along with fellow best actress winner Ellen Burstyn as her mother Emily. Filling out the cast are Donald Sutherland, Gil Bellows, Topher Grace, and Christopher Heyedahl. The official description of the film is below:
“Despite a bad back, a reliance on painkillers and the occasional drink to take the edge off, Detective Inspector Hazel Micallef (Sarandon) leads a tranquil existence sharing a home with her elderly mother, Emily (Burstyn), in Fort Dundas, Ontario. It is the epitome of a quaint and quiet town, but all of that is suddenly upended. As the interim commanding officer of an understaffed police force, Micallef, out on a routine call, discovers the grisly body of an elderly woman. The murder is shocking in its brutality.   
As Micallef and her investigative team, including seasoned detective Ray Greene (Bellows) and new arrival to Fort Dundas, Ben Wingate (Grace), learn of more victims in rural towns across the country, they realize they are tracking a serial killer driven by a higher calling. Dealing with small town bureaucracy while galvanizing her troops, she enlists the help of Father Price (Sutherland) in her fearless pursuit of a religious madman they’ve come to know only as Simon (Heyerdahl).”
When the book was originally released in 2008, the true identity of the author was not revealed, something that produced a fair amount of controversy at the time. The identity of the author came out last summer when Canadian author Michael Redhill (Martin Sloane, Consolation) stood up and took credit. Writing in The Globe and Mail, Redhill said:
We are already so many things by the time we reach the middle of life that it is possible to see that really anything can happen, and that, by extension, anything is doable. I decided I'd write The Calling as someone else. Another writer entirely, a fictional one who would be played by me.
But how does such a fictional alter-ego take shape?
To figure out who could write such a woman, I started with Hazel. I came to imagine her writer as someone who was a little like her, but also a little like me. I gave her the name Inger Ash Wolfe after my maternal grandmother, whose maiden name was Wolfinger.
It turned out that Inger was marvellously proficient. The first novel quickly begat a second – The Taken – and then it was clear that there'd be more. I can take up to a decade to write a novel, but Inger wrote three good ones in five years. I was rather amazed. She was more widely read than I, and she was earning more money than I did. She was going to have her own life and her own fate and I was very pleased.
You can see Ali Karim’s 2008 interview with Inger Ash Wolfe here. January Magazine’s review of The Calling is here.


Monday, April 08, 2013

This Just In… The Big O by Declan Burke

Karen can’t go on pulling stick-ups forever, but Rossi is getting out of prison any day now and she needs the money to keep Anna out of his hands. This new guy she’s met, Ray, just might be able to help her out, but he wants out of the kidnap game now the Slavs are bunkering in. And then there’s Frank, the discredited plastic surgeon who wants his ex-wife snatched -- the ex-wife being Madge, who just happens to be Karen’s best friend. But can Karen and Ray trust each other enough to carry off one last caper? Or will love, as always, ruin everything?

“Imagine Donald Westlake and his alter ego Richard Stark moving to Ireland and collaborating on a screwball noir and you have some idea of Burke’s accomplishment.” -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

The Big O is everything fans of dark, fast, tightly woven crime fiction could want ... As each scene unfolds, tension mounts and hilarity ensues.” -- Crimespree Magazine

Order The Big O here. You can visit Declan Burke’s personal blog here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


New Non-Fiction: How To Be Interesting

Some years ago, a colleague turned me onto a blog he thought I'd like: indexed. And he was right, I did like it. In fact, I loved it. (Thanks, Casey!)

At indexed, a Seattle writer named Jessica Hagy diagrams life. She crosses one idea with another mathematically, and the result is a new lens -- a new and often invigorating way to look at the world. I wondered how all this came about, and in a recent interview Hagy was kind enough to share the origins with me. "

“I knew I wanted to make a blog, and I was taking a class with all these chart things. I started labeling things, and I thought, I can do that with a lot of things. So then I drew a bunch of them. It’s the same sentence structure. So I could make sentences out of graphs. I never thought it would go as far as it did.”

And it’s gone pretty far. Now Hagy has produced a book, How To Be Interesting: (In 10 Simple Steps (Workman). Here, she presents little bits of wisdom that she suggests will make you more attractive at work, at parties, on dates and in life.

Using many of her diagrams and very little text (all of it wonderful, though, both charming and compelling), she presents ways to stand out in your life and be someone people want to know.

 The cover alone gives you a sense of what’s inside: a Venn diagram of “places to go” and “things to do” produces infinity. To me, this is a brilliant way to try to make sense of the world. Logically ... mathematically. Her whole way somehow creates insights that may surprise you, as they did me.

I asked Hagy if her brain has started to see the world this way on its own. Has diagramming things become her default lens? “It has defnitely gotten a lot easier to just sort of sit down and dash out ideas,” she said. “But at first it was like, wait. How does this work, and can I use these axes this way? And what is this overlap? And is this more of a pun than a truth? Things like that. Now I can just talk through them because I see the format so easily.”

I’m hoping Hagy keeps going. Her blog is addictive -- and I want more books. Maybe one on personalities? Maybe another on pop culture? Jessica, the world is waiting. Patiently. ◊

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This Just In… The Brotherhood of the Holy Sword: Book One in the Chronicles of Amarcain by Thomas A. Rice

Two infants are found on the steps of the Cathedral Abbey in the Dukedom of Ravendune. The Priests discover that these two bear a sacred birthmark known as The Mark of the Holy Sword. The orphans are brought to the Duke of Ravendune and asked to raise them as his own. The Duke, having no heirs, agrees to this and so the wheel is set in motion.

Eighteen years later and the twins, Eric and Brandin, have become Knights of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sword. But the legends speak of three who bear the mark. The question remains: Who is the third and where are they?”\

As the twins journey throughout Amarcain, they discover the truth behind their origins and finally meet the mysterious third who bears the Mark of the Holy Sword.

You can learn more about The Brotherhood of the Holy Sword here. Order the book directly here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Sunday, April 07, 2013

Peter Workman Dies at 74

Peter Workman, the founder of Workman Publishing, is dead at the age of 74.

The company had announced a few weeks ago that Workman would not be returning to the office, as he had been battling cancer since last autumn.

Workman is survived by his wife of fifty-one years, Carolan Raskin Workman; their two daughters, Katie and Elizabeth; their sons-in-law, Gary Freilich and Mark Williams; and four grandchildren: Jack, Charlie, Madeline, and Charlotte.

The Workman Publishing blog today mourned the loss of the company’s founder:
He was, in so many ways, an extraordinary man.
He was the founder, president and CEO of Workman Publishing Company, one of the largest independent publishers of nonfiction trade books and calendars. In addition to the Workman imprint, the company consists of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Artisan, Storey Books, Timber Press, and HighBridge Audio. He served on the board of the Goddard-Riverside Community Center and the board of Prep-for-Prep; he was a member of the Publishing Committee of UJA-Federation of New York and chairman of the Board of Governors of Yale University Press. Peter was a generous supporter of the Human Rights Watch, the ACLU, and the Anti-Defamation League, among many organizations. In honor of his late brother he developed the David Workman Grant Program at Deerfield Academy, a charity to help students fund and implement their own humanitarian projects. His love of music and art prompted his support of the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
He was a passionate golfer and skier and a keen poker player, and he took great pleasure in the company of friends, colleagues, and family.
Workman’s imprints were known in the business as both quirky and far-reaching. Over the years, bestsellers have included The Official Preppy Handbook, The Silver Palate Cookbook, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Brain Quest and 1,000 Places To See Before You Die and, through Algonquin, Water for Elephants, A Reliable Wife, and the Bellwether Prize-winners Mudbound and The Girl Who Fell from the Sky.


Friday, April 05, 2013

Malfunction-free Superheroines

Do superheroines look uncomfortable? Perhaps not quite prepared to give crime fighting their all for fear of a costume malfunction?

If that’s the case, artist Michael Lee Lunsford might have solved a lot of problems, having reimagined a bouquet of lady super heroes looking ready for malfunction-free action in übercomfortable crime-fighting gear.

Lunsford maintains he’s not offering up a moral agenda. Rather, it is an “exercise in character design, attempting to clothe the heroines nearly all the way and not making them painted-on, while still keeping the look of their original costumes in some way.”

We’re sharing his still attractive but newly practical Supergirl. Follow this link to see the rest of crew including Wonder Woman, Powergirl, Vampirella, Elektra and company here at GeekNative.