Sunday, September 29, 2013

Non-Fiction: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven: (Or, How I Made Peace with the Paranormal and Stigmatized Zealots and Cynics in the Process) by Corey Taylor

I’m betting that a lot of people will come to A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven (DaCapo) for an inside glimpse of Slipknot and Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor and stick around for Taylor’s charm, wit and 21st century philosophizing.

We already knew Taylor could write. Back in 2011 he wowed his fans with Seven Deadly Sins: Settling the Argument Between Born Bad and Damaged Good. Yes, that book was memoir. But it was more, as well. This new book takes that original concept and amps it up. Way up, in fact. Here again, Taylor himself is the lens, but we’re looking way beyond the man and his music now. In fact, we’re looking beyond this very life.

In A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven, Taylor takes us on a tour of his personal paranormal: the oddities he’s encountered, some unexplained things that have happened near him and how, in many ways, he’s made peace with the bizarre and unknown. Taylor’s view is beyond religion. As he points out:
Is is now 2013. I am here to tell you that if you still need a guidebook that was written when people were still trying to marry camels, you have bigger issues than how to live your life. The human race has been gifted over the centuries with fantastic minds: philosophers of such extraordinary knack that we have thrived in leaps and bounds with each generation …. But it is almost always the elders of our race who cling to this horseshit like flies at an outhouse, and those same people are almost always in positions of power, using the “good word” to control the minds -- and the votes -- of the flock.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven is an odd book to try and categorize or even talk about. In fact, I’m having a problem thinking about where we might catalog it on January. It could, in a way, be considered Art & Culture as the author’s background certainly warrants it. I toyed with the thought of Biography, but really, the book is so much beyond that. We don’t have a Self-Help section, but if we did, this book wouldn’t really belong there.

Like Taylor himself, the book is different and unique. Not one thing but many. It might uplift you. It might nudge at your worldview. But it will certainly engage you and strike you once again at the odd wit and wisdom of this deeply talented man. ◊

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This Just In… The Light Changes by Amy Billone

“The lyrical voices in Billone’s The Light Changes evoke and embody vibrant layers of radical tenderness and courage that are rarely achieved in contemporary poetry.” -- Olaf Berwald

Amy Billone holds a BA in General Studies in the Humanities from the University of Chicago and an MA and PhD in Comparative Literature from Princeton University. Her book, 2007’s Little Songs: Women, Silence, and the Nineteenth Century is informed by her unique perspective as a woman poet. She also wrote the Introduction and Notes for the Barnes and Noble Classics edition of Peter Pan (2005).

Billone’s recent poetry collection The Light Changes (2013), which earned a starred review on Kirkus, invokes the biographical and creative worlds of Elizabeth Barret Browning, Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf as it opens up pathways toward light even in the most unimaginable darkness of our personal experiences and the times we inhabit today.

You can order The Light Changes here. Visit Amy Billone 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.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

No Sex for Teenage Boys

Do teenage boys want to read about sex? Author Darren Shan says that publishers don’t think so.

Shan, who has sold 25 million copies of his books worldwide since his debut novel, Cirque du Freak, was published in 2002, claims that while YA publishers are often okay with violence, as he recently told The Independent“Sex is a no-go.” From the same piece:
"We should be more concerned about violence than exposing teenagers to sex. Teenagers making out is perfectly natural, but killing each other…"
In fact, when Darren Shan was first trying to get his books published in the late 90s, he was told that teenage boys wouldn't read regardless of the content.
"I'll never forget a meeting with one publisher where they said we don't publish books for teenage boys; teenage boys don't read," he said.
Shan says he feels publishers should be paying more attention to what their readers want and less to what they think they want. The author says they should, “publish books they want to read and they will. It's not that [boys] get to a certain age and go, 'I'm not reading any more'.”

Shan’s newest book, Zom-B Baby, the fifth book in his popular Zom-B series, was out september 26th in the UK and will come out October 1st just about everywhere else.


Signing an Electronic Book? There’s An App for That… Soon reports that the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple Computers on September 26th that “reveals a new iBook autographing system and more specifically to techniques and systems for embedding autographs in electronic books.” From PatentlyApple:

Book signing is the affixing of a signature to the title page or flyleaf of a book by its author. A book signing is an event, usually at a bookstore or library where an author sits and signs books for a period. Book signing is popular because an author's signature increases the value of books for collectors. The author may add a short message to the reader, called a dedication, to each book, which may be personalized with the recipient's name upon request. Book signings provide more than a just a chance to obtain signatures. Authors and bookstores are benefited by the fact that many copies of the book being promoted are sold. Signings also increase public goodwill and allow authors to connect with their fans. For fans, signings give them a chance to see and meet a favorite author and ask them questions. In order for this process to have value in the digital world, Apple has invented this new advanced autographing system.

The challenge of getting author signatures into electronic books, or across the world digitally has been looked at before. Author Margaret Atwood began developing her Longpen system in 2004. The Longpen is now being developed by the Syngrafii Corporation of Toronto, where Atwood is on the board of directors.

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This Just In… Bevel Down: the Absurd Tragic Memoir of an Okie Meth Head by Todd Langley

This is the story of Todd, an intravenous meth addict who lived in Logan County, Oklahoma in the mid 1990s. Bevel Down chronicles the intense events surrounding the tragic climax of his life when he was only 19 years old.

Bevel Down is an edgy tale of crime, friendship and love. The story is relayed with dark humor and unflinching candor. Some of it is to be believed, some of it surely is not.

Todd paints a stirring and brutal picture of poor young people striving to get by in a world where the odds are stacked against them. He even fancies himself to be a bona fide outlaw, a renegade philosopher among a population of sheepish sycophants. But his carefree philosophy is no match for the harder realities that must inevitably accompany this lifestyle. Everything and everyone will collapse around him, even the woman he loves, until Todd must finally face his demons or be consumed by them. Such is the life of a junkie.

You can order Bevel Down 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, September 27, 2013

David Gilmour’s Crossed Lines

Since Wednesday when Canadian author/professor David Gilmour’s boorish comments went viral, I’ve been trying to ignore the whole thing. Here’s why: if you’ve read the interview he gave that started the whole brouhaha it becomes clear that Gilmour is either trying to sell books through controversy or is just not a very nice man. Or maybe even a bit of both. Either way, giving the whole thing more and more and still more air only fuels a fire that will inevitably sell more books. And at this stage, almost no one beyond Gilmour and his publisher are likely to want that.

The interview that started all of this was done with Hazlitt, Random House of Canada’s online magazine. It ran in a column Hazlitt calls “Shelf Esteem.” The questions or guidance of the interviewer are removed, so what we’re left with reads like soapboxing, even if Gilmour’s comments weren’t particularly stupid. Which some of them are. A sampling:
I’m not interested in teaching books by women. Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach one of her short stories. But once again, when I was given this job I said I would only teach the people that I truly, truly love. Unfortunately, none of those happen to be Chinese, or women. Except for Virginia Woolf. And when I tried to teach Virginia Woolf, she’s too sophisticated, even for a third-year class. Usually at the beginning of the semester a hand shoots up and someone asks why there aren’t any women writers in the course. I say I don’t love women writers enough to teach them, if you want women writers go down the hall. What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth.
I teach Tropic of Cancer to the first-year class. They’re shocked out of their pants. No one teaches it except for me. Sometimes their parents actually question me about it, they say, Listen, this is really outrageous. I say, well, it’s a piece of literature that’s been around for 60 years. It’s got something going for it.
In a rebuttal interview with The National Post’s Mark Medley, Gilmour claims he’s sort of sorry and that much of what he said was meant in a joking way:
This was an interview I gave sort of over the shoulder. I was having a conversation, in French, with a colleague while this young woman was doing this interview. So these were very much tossed-off remarks. They weren’t written down. It wasn’t a formal sit-down interview or anything like that. She said, “Gee, there aren’t a lot of women here.” And I said, “No, I tend to teach people whose lives are a lot like my own, because that’s what I understand best, and that’s what I teach best.” I can sell anything to anyone, but I have to be passionate about it. For example, I have a degree in French Literature, and I speak French fluently, but I don’t teach French Literature because I don’t feel it as deeply and as passionately as some of the other teachers here. So I actually send people down the hall to somebody who can teach it better. The same thing goes for German writers, for women writers, for gay writers, for Chinese writers. It’s got nothing to do with any nationality, or racism, or heterosexuality. Those were jokes by the way. I mean, I’m the only guy in North America who teaches Truman Capote, and Truman Capote was not what you’d exactly call a real heterosexual guy. So I really don’t know what this is about. And this is a young woman who kind of wanted to make a little name for herself, or something, because when I said “real heterosexual guys” I’m talking about Scott Fitzgerald [and] Scott Fitzgerald was not what you’d call a real guy’s guy, a real heterosexual guy. Part of Scott Fitzgerald’s charm is in his feminine sensibility. But then this noise happened. But I am sorry because some of the letters I’ve got from people they are genuinely offended, and that’s not funny. That is a drag.
No, actually pretty unfunny, indeed. Though the way the original interview was conducted and relayed may or may not be stellar, after his interview with Medley, it seems as though Gilmour isn’t doing himself any favors when he opens his mouth. Asked if he felt the controversy would impact his chances at winning the Scotiabank Giller Prize for which his most recent book, Extraordinary, his eighth novel, has been shortlisted, Gilmour replied:
I don’t think it will have any affect at all, and I think the only affect it could ever have is to make me to use it as an excuse if I don’t win. But I talked to Margaret Atwood, I was running Céline down in a conversation about two years ago, and she said, “Now, now. A person’s private life and their personal comments should never be brought to bear on the quality on their literature.” She said that to me personally in quite a chastising tone of voice. Because I think Céline is such an asshole that I can’t read him. And I was saying that to her, and she said, “No, you should separate the man from his literature.” I’m also not interested in hurting people’s feelings. I don’t think that’s necessary. I don’t mind pissing them off, but I’m not interested in hurting people.
Be that as it may, Amazon reader comments of his work since Wednesday are both dismissive and insulting and Twitter nearly exploded with it all. It seems possible that this time Gilmour crossed some lines. From here on in, I’d guess he’ll have a hard time encouraging people to separate this particular man from his literature.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

New This Month: The River and Enoch O’Reilly by Peter Murphy

In its review of Peter Murphy’s second novel (after his Costa shortlisted debut, John the Revelator) The Spectator evoked the surreal realism that is The River and Enoch O’Reilly (Mariner). “This book is majestic and squalid at the same time,” Aime Williams wrote for The Spectator, “as if the Bible were actually about Elvis.”

The River and Enoch O’Reilly was published in January in the UK as Shall We Gather at the River. Whatever name it is flogged under, the work is assured, poignant and slyly funny.

The title’s Enoch has chosen to pray to Elvis instead of God, though he once set out to be a preacher. In the winter of 1984, Murphy tells us, the rusty river Rua became swollen beyond her normal width. As the book begins:
You will remember it if you were there: clouds gathered overhead like great black cattle, the sun dimmed and the air was charged with augury, a sense of the imminent, the never-heard-tell-all-of-close at hand.
When the water receded two days later survivors discovered the bodies of nine who were less lucky. Their deaths are mysterious. What could have caused them to venture forth of such a night? Nearby, in the basement of the family home, Enoch discovers distressing connections between those who perished the night of the storm and his own lost father and every mystery he himself has ever pondered.

The River and Enoch O’Reilly is magical and Murphy’s is a voice I look forward to listening to again. ◊

India Wilson is a writer and artist.

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This Just In… Sapphyre: Book I of the Runestar Chronicles by Jason Komito

Orphan, thief, healer, demon slayer… What else will she become?

Sapphyre has always known she has some innate magical ability, but being an orphan growing up on the streets, she is both unaware of where it comes from or how to control it. For the last two winters she has served ale and food in the Dragon’s Flagon and until this evening it has been rather uneventful. The stranger with the yellow eyes has accumulated a large stack of coin at the dice game and has attracted much attention. Sapphyre notices that with each winning role, what looks like a tattoo of a cat’s eye lights up on the man’s neck. Glancing around the table, she is shocked that no one else can see it.

Sapphyre learns the stranger’s name and, the following day, listens to his tale. Ashcon explains that he is a runestar and a defender of the light and the stars and has runes, not tattoos, all over his body, that enable him certain powers. The runes can only be seen when he activates them, and then only by extremely powerful practitioners of magic. Ashcon asks Sapphyre to join him and his companion Skken in a search for a man named Sorenthor who will be able to determine why she can see his runes and from where her magic hails.

The first book in this epic fantasy follows Sapphyre and her companions as they attempt to reach Sorenthor’s Library in the hopes of finding answers for Sapphyre as to her true heritage. The meeting between Ashcon and Sapphyre has put into play ancient prophecies. The followers of the Zagador, the Dark Gods, led by Ashcon’s brother Drak’thonn, are spurred into motion and will stop at nothing to track down and destroy Ashcon and his companions and plunge the world into Eternal Night.

You can order Sapphyre: Book I of the Runestar Chronicles here. Visit author Jason Komito 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.


Stephen King: Twilight is “Tweenager Porn”

As Stephen King’s 56th novel, Doctor Sleep, reaches a King-hungry audience, the master storyteller talks to The Guardian about, among other things, the work of some of his peers.

Stephen King, the prolific and best-selling patriarch of the horror novel, has used a rare interview to express disdain for modern pretenders to his title, dismissing the Twilight franchise as "tweenager porn" and calling The Hunger Games dull and derivative.
More predictably, King, who is about to release his 56th novel, is less than impressed by Fifty Shades of Grey, although he does have praise for JK Rowling's "fabulous" non-Harry Potter debut, The Casual Vacancy and compared her style to that of the late Tom Sharpe.
In an interview in the Guardian's Weekend magazine, the 65-year-old author said he had read Twilight, among other modern titles, out of professional interest, and had been underwhelmed. "They're really not about vampires and werewolves. They're about how the love of a girl can turn a bad boy good."
"I read Twilight and didn't feel any urge to go on with her. I read The Hunger Games and didn't feel an urge to go on. It's not unlike The Running Man, which is about a game where people are actually killed and people are watching: a satire on reality TV.

So that’s some of what he didn’t much care for. But what does he like?
King declared himself a fan of the "amazingly good" Donna Tartt, but criticised her workrate. "She's dense, she's allusive. She's a gorgeous storyteller," he said. "But three books in 30 years? That makes me want to go to that person and grab her by the shoulders and look into her face and say: 'Do you realise how little time you have in the scheme of things?' "
Scribner published Doctor Sleep on Tuesday. The long-awaited sequel to The Shining has largely drawn glowing reviews. In her New York Times review of the book, Margaret Atwood began:
“Doctor Sleep” is Stephen King’s latest novel, and it’s a very good specimen of the quintessential King blend. According to Vladimir Nabokov, Salvador Dalí was “really Norman Rockwell’s twin brother kidnapped by gypsies in babyhood.” But actually there were triplets: the third one is Stephen King.

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This Just In… Breaking Tecumseh’s Curse by Jan Marie and Bob Ritter

This 200,000-word memoir relates Jan Marie and Bob Ritter’s early years together when Bob was a special agent with the United States Secret Service in Washington, D.C.

“It’s the first Secret Service book told from a spouse’s perspective,” says author Jan Marie Ritter. Rich in emotion, Breaking Tecumseh’s Curse is the heartfelt love story of a young couple’s journey through some extraordinary times.

From 1840 to 1960, every United States president elected or reelected in a year ending in zero died in office. Of those seven presidents, four were assassinated. Breaking Tecumseh’s Curse unfolds the real-life adventures of the U.S. Secret Service agent who tried to change tomorrow.

Through enhanced protective methods and procedures, Secret Service Agent Bob Ritter hoped to prevent a similar fate for the president elected in 1980, Ronald Reagan. Some never before published information regarding the Reagan assassination attempt is revealed. Bob firmly believes that the attempt could have been prevented. There’s also an exciting, historical look at assassination and the Secret Service including a provocative profile of accused JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.

Breaking Tecumseh’s Curse spotlights a dangerous period for the Secret Service -- from 1972-1982. During that time, five assassination attempts took place against persons protected by the USSS, more than any other era. The book presents the historic events of the time and a rare insider’s look at the Secret Service.

You can order Breaking Tecumseh’s Curse 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, September 25, 2013

William Faulkner: Just Do It

William Faulker (The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying) who was born on this day in New Albany, Mississippi in 1897, was not only creative in his wonderful writing, he was also deeply creative in his life.

Though Faulkner’s work is strongly associated with the American South, in WWI, he served for Canada. According to Writer’s Almanac, Faulkner added the “U” to his last name when applying for the Royal Canadian Air Force, “believing it made his name look British. Having already been rejected by the U.S. Army Air Corps because of his height of only five feet six inches, he also lied about his birthplace, for good measure, and adopted a phony British accent.”

Faulkner, who died in July of 1962, was awarded the 1949 Nobel Prize for Literature for “his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel.” The Nobel contributed to the eventual establishment of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, a rich prize given annually to the year’s best works of fiction by living American citizens.

In honor of the author’s birth, today The Huffington Post rounds up the author’s six best writing tips.
Though noted for his heavily stylized prose, the writer championed plot over ornate syntax--a strange opinion for a man who once penned a five-word chapter ("My mother is a fish.") According to him, if the story is compelling enough, the style will follow.
It’s worth the trip to find out why Faulkner felt that, among other things, “Writing is not about the author, but the product,” and “The story itself is more important than the style,” and most importantly (and long before Nike ever did) “Just do it.”


This Just In… Winter by Sarah Remy

Winter is not your ordinary teenager.

While trying to rescue his Sidhe family from exile, he mistakenly unleashes the monstrous Dread Host upon humankind.

Winter’s mother wants nothing more than to find a way to break the curse keeping the Sidhe imprisoned on Manhattan. New York City is driving Winter’s father slowly mad. Winter’s sister wears Chanel and longs for a Fairy Court she’s never seen. And Winter’s mentor is a talking mouse.

Winter wants to save the world.

When he discovers an unlikely changeling lost in the subway, Winter realizes he’s been given a chance to finally banish the Host, and maybe even save his family. But the changeling isn’t quite what she seems, and Winter’s already unstable world begins to spiral out of control.

You can order Winter here. Visit author Sarah Remy 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, September 23, 2013

Murakami Odds on Favorite to Win Nobel Prize

Who will get the Nobel nod for Literature come October? Of course it’s anyone’s guess at this point, but at the moment British-based gaming company Ladbrokes is predicting Haruki Murakami by offering 3-1 odds that the Japanese novelist will take home the money.

The author, 64, became a household name in his native country with his 1987 novel Norwegian Wood. A departure from his earlier work, its use of realism and simple plotting helped him to reach a larger audience and established Murakami as the voice of the Japanese baby-boomer generation. The book was adapted for the screen in 2010 by French-Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hung.

Other contenders for the Nobel Prize for Literature include Joyce Carol Oates with 6-1 odds; Alice Munro at 12-1; Philip Roth 16-1, Milan Kundera at 21-1 and Cormac McCarthy, Darcia Maraini, Nuruddin Farah; Salman Rushdie; Margaret Atwood and Don DeLillo all at 40-1.

You can see the complete list of contenders here.


This Just In… Recovering from Life by Debra McKenna

Recovering from Life is the tale of 39-year-old, red-headed spitfire Stephanie McCarthy’s rollicking road to redemption.

A gifted freelance writer in Northern California, Steph works days hawking frozen foods while her life limps along until her husband, Kenny, disappears into the crack ghetto. His descent into addiction catapults Steph onto a wild ride that feels unendurable -- but ultimately leads to her own self-discovery.

Marooned in a state of financial doom, legal tangles and emotional turmoil, Steph navigates the pitfalls of her new path. It takes her into the realms of drug dealers, high finance and hot romance.

You can order Recovering from Life here. Visit the author 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, September 20, 2013

National Book Award-Winning Invisible Man Banned for “Lack of Literary Value”

There can be a great deal of power in a single voice. But is that always a good thing? The end result of a single parent’s complaint make us wonder. Here’s what happened: The parent of a grade 11 student in Randolph County, North Carolina wrote a detailed grievance to the school district about Ralph Ellison’s National Book Award-Winning novel, The Invisible Man.  In part, the grievance said:
The narrator writes in the first person, emphasizing his individual experiences and his feelings about the events portrayed in his life. This novel is not so innocent; instead, this book is filthier, too much for teenagers. You must respect all religions and point of views when it comes to the parents and what they feel is age appropriate for their young children to read, without their knowledge. This book is freely in your library for them to read.
According to The Huffington Post:
As the school district's policy requires, the parent's complaints lead to votes on the school and district levels. Both held that the book should remain available to students in the library. However, in a 5-2 vote, the school board voted to ban the book, with one board member, Gary Mason, stating, "I didn’t find any literary value."
Mason's blunt assessment however, runs counter to decades of intellectual criticism of the novel, which won the 1953 National Book Award for fiction, beating out Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea and John Steinbeck's East of Eden.
In 1995, writing for the New York Times, Roger Rosenblatt praised the novel as a masterpiece.
"Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man," which won the National Book Award in 1953, was instantly recognized as a masterpiece, a novel that captured the grim realities of racial discrimination as no book had, " Rosenblatt wrote. "Its reputation grew as Ellison retreated into a mythic literary silence that made his one achievement definitive."
Including the book in its list of 100 Best English Language Novels since 1923, Time literary critic Lev Grossman also expressed great admiration for Ellison's work.
And now students perusing their school libraries in Randolph County, North Carolina won’t have access to the book. How can that be seen as anything but sad?

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This Just In… Cold Winter Rain by Steven P. Gregory

Slate, a recovering lawyer who lost his family to an accident, lives on a sailboat, owns a beach bar, and occasionally helps clients recover things they have lost. Children, for example.

Kris Kramer, the nineteen-year-old daughter of a Birmingham lawyer, Don Kramer, has been missing for two days when her father visits Slate in his beach bar, which isn’t very busy on a raw day in January. Kramer engages Slate to try to find Kris. But two days after Slate arrives in Birmingham, Leon Grubbs, captain of the Homicide Division of the Birmingham Police Department, calls Slate just after midnight. A murder victim lies across the railroad tracks in the no-man’s-land between North and South Birmingham, Slate’s business card in the pocket of his business suit.

Fans of John D. MacDonald and Robert Parker will find themselves on familiar ground in this first novel of a series.

You can order Cold Winter Rain here. Visit author Steven P. Gregory 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.


Are You Tigger, Dumbledore or Something More?

What favorite character from literature are you? A quiz at Abe Books nails it down for you and allows you to share it with the world. From the web site:
Have you ever been so involved in a story that you imagined yourself as the protagonist? Or have you ever read a book where you relate so strongly to a character that you think the author may have used you for inspiration? Or maybe you've just had one of those days where you'd love to be your favorite fictional hero.
Here’s the quiz. And don’t be shy: we’d love to know who you were and what you thought of the outcome.

This Just In… Quantum Thoughts from a Quantum Spirit by Jerry L. Vaughan

Quantum Thoughts from a Quantum Spirit was originally conceived by the author to resolve differences between individuals disagreeing about creation and evolution.

Author Vaughan asserts that religion and science are not mutually exclusive but rather complementary. Religion, specifically, provides an ethical frame of reference for the science community. The work progresses to define the theological and physical principles of the one spirit, employing a mixture of explanatory prose and poetry.

You can order Quantum Thoughts from a Quantum Spirit 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.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Art Book Fair Storms New York

The eighth annual New York Art Book Fair takes place this coming weekend at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, Queens.

The festivities begin with an event preview on opening night, September 19th. The NY Art Book Fair is free and open to the public. It bills itself as the “world’s premier event for artists’ books, catalogs, monographs, periodicals, and zines.” In 2012, the event included 283 booksellers, antiquarians, artists, and independent publishers from 26 countries. More than 25,000 people attended.

The NY Art Book Fair runs from the 19th through to the 22nd. You can find more information on the event web site here.

This Just In… Pacifically You by Christie A.C. Gucker

Marine biologist Dr. Lisbeth Drake finally gets her chance to shine in the scientific world when she receives a grant from world-renowned scientist Dr. Chase Logan. With her geeky new partner and the crew of the Pacifically You in tow, they head out on a six-month excursion to study Lizzy’s greatest passion … sharks.

But is it the marine life Chase came to study or is it Lizzy? When she baits him to divert their trip to an isolated island, he quickly obliges. Their mutual attraction pirates rationale and soon they are hooked on each other. But it’s their working relationship that goes off the charted course as submerged secrets surrounding her past float to the surface.

When the sunken treasures of truth are finally blown out of the water, will Chase jump ship or sail into the sunset with Lizzy? Pacifically You is a humorous sea tale of storms, secret passion, sharks and fish puns.

You can order Pacifically You here. Visit author Christie A.C. Gucker 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.


Philosophical Disagreement Leads to Shooting

Immanuel Kant is one of the fathers of modern philosophy and the author of the canonical text, Critique of Pure Reason. All of this makes it all the more ironic that a disagreement about Kant’s theories led to an altercation that ended with a shooting in Southern Russia recently. From The Independent:
The dispute occurred when two men waiting for a beer became involved in an increasingly fractious argument over the work of Kant – the author of canonical philosophical text Critique of Pure Reason – according to a police spokeswoman in Rostov-on-Don, the town where the argument broke out.
The row ended with one of the men producing an air gun and firing several rubber bullets at his opponent.
Police did not identify the men but said that the gunman had been detained after fleeing the scene, while the victim was in hospital with non-life-threatening wounds. The attacker now faces up to 10 years in prison for intentional infliction of serious bodily harm, police said. 
It is not known which of Kant’s many theories was the subject of debate.
Kant was born in Königsberg in the Kingdom of Prussia in what is now Kalingrad, Russia, in 1724.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

This Just In… I Want to Be on TV by K.C. Ross

Have you ever wondered how those kids on TV got there? Does your child have what it takes to be a working actor in Hollywood? This is a how to book of what it takes to get an agent or manager in Los Angeles without spending thousands of dollars.

The book also explains about headshots, Coogan accounts, acting coaches, work permits and what is expected of you and your child on set. All this information is interspersed with real life stories that have happened to parents and kids at casting offices and on set. Some are funny, some sad and all are true. They can be helpful guides of what to do and what not to do when navigating the crazy world of showbiz.

Author KC Ross is a Hollywood insider who has worked as a casting director, producer and publicist over a 25 year span. Ross has also chauffeured kids to and from auditions, sets and rehearsals which is the source of many of the storie in the book. Following the idea that fact can be stranger than fiction, KC used personal knowledge and experiences, then interviewed friends and other actor’s parents and several industry professionals to gather the many funny, factual and outrageous stories in this book.

You can order I Want to Be on TV 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.


A Simple Theory

Umberto Eco was famously inspired by French physicist Jean Bernard Léon Foucault who, according to Writer’s Almanac, “invented the gyroscope and took the first clear photograph of the sun, and he introduced and helped develop a technique of measuring the absolute velocity of light with extreme accuracy. He is probably best known for originating the pendulum that demonstrated the earth's rotation.” Eco’s inspiration took form in Foucault’s Pendulum, a book that has been called “the thinking man’s Da Vinci Code.”

Foucault was born on this day in 1819 and Google honors his memory with one of their more elaborate doodles. This one is interactive and based on the Foucault pendulum, the device created in 1851 to confirm that the Earth did indeed go around. From Writer’s Almanac:
In his book Foucault's Pendulum (1990), Umberto Eco wrote: "The Pendulum told me that, as everything moved — earth, solar system, nebulae and black holes, all the children of the great cosmic expansion — one single point stood still: a pivot, bolt, or hook around which the universe could move. And I was now taking part in that supreme experience. I, too, moved with the all, but I could see the One, the Rock, the Guarantee, the luminous mist that is not body, that has no shape, weight, quantity, or quality, that does not see or hear, that cannot be sensed, that is in no place, in no time, and is not soul, intelligence, imagination, opinion, number, order, or measure. Neither darkness nor light, neither error nor truth."
See the complete collection of Google Doodles here.

This Just In… Let Me Entertain You by J.J. Minor

When Annie Dooley discovers that the cactus-filled white vase in the bathroom of her new home is actually a bidet she’s astounded. Why? Annie started life as a foster child, raised in a trailer park -- trailers don’t come equipped with bidets.

Now married to the rich, powerful man of her dreams, her discovery becomes a symbol of the hope she has of joining his world. Insecure until now, her spitfire spirit ignites. She makes up her mind to throw a party, but not just any party. Annie decides she and her husband will host a high-society wine tasting.

The biggest problem is -- Annie has to convince herself she’s good enough for the social set.

You can order Let Me Entertain You 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, September 16, 2013

Philip Pullman Firm on Copyright Violations

Author Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials) is not walking the center line when it comes to a position on illegal downloads. Writing for the Index on Censorship (“The Voice of Free Expression”), Pullman writes:
“The technical brilliance is so dazzling that people can't see the moral squalor of what they're doing” he writes. “It is outrageous that anyone can steal an artist's work and get away with it. It is theft, as surely as reaching into someone's pocket and taking their wallet is theft.”
The Guardian assesses Pullman’s essay and the issue here.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Rowling Shifts Pen to the Screen

With all of the Harry Potter movies firmly in the can, one can imagine Warner Brothers was happy to get author J.K. Rowling to sign on to adapt her Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them for the big screen. From Deadline:
Rowling says it’s not a sequel or a prequel to the Potter adventures, but will kick off in New York, 70 years before Harry’s story starts. No timeline or director has been identified yet. If the films follow the Harry Potter process, they’ll make use of Warner Bros’ Leavesden studios outside London which Warner acquired and revamped after the last Potter film was shot. Warner Bros noted today that the relationship between Rowling and the studio will be managed in London by Neil Blair of Rowling’s literary agency The Blair Partnership, and by Warner UK, Ireland and Spain chief Josh Berger.
The book was published in 2001 along with another, Quidditch Through the Ages, both intended to look and read like Harry Potter’s Hogwarts textbooks.

The books were both charming, if slight, their chief redeeming quality being that Rowling had created the brace of books as an aid to fundraising for Comic Relief, a hugely successful UK organization whose chief goal is to “create a just world free from poverty.” To that end, the web site currently says that Comic Relief has raised more than 900 million pounds that has helped thousands of individuals in 70 countries. One can imagine that a successful move to the screen for Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them will stimulate book sales once again and raise still more money for Comic Relief, which can’t be bad. Back in the real world, though, it seems likely Rowling will have another hit on her hands. And then, the following year, another still:
Fantastic Beasts will also be developed across Warner Bros’ video game, consumer products and digital initiatives businesses. As part of the newly extended relationship, Warner Bros has also boarded the BBC adaptation of Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy which goes into production next year.

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This Just In… Legacy by HR Moore

That moment when you walk into a room and could cut the tension with a knife. That feeling when two people meet and there’s an instant, unspoken connection. That unease when you can sense someone’s presence, but there’s nobody there.

There are those who are obviously energetic, they just can’t sit still, they need to be doing something, those who love cryptic crosswords and chess and mental challenges -- the mentally ferocious -- and those preoccupied with the large philosophical, religious and ethical issues we face, the visionary spirituals.

Anita has never been ordinary, she’s stuck out like a sore thumb her entire life. So when the powerful, good looking Descendants suddenly arrive in Empire, her difference attracts and keeps their attention. Sucked into their world, caught up in a web of power and politics that she never before even realised existed, the world teeters on the brink of crisis, but will Anita take the required leap of faith?

You can order Legacy here. Visit author HR Moore 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.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Crime Fiction: Long Gone Man by Phyllis Smallman

I must admit to being skeptical when I first learned that Canadian author Phyllis Smallman’s latest literary effort, Long Gone Man (TouchWood Editions), would be a departure from her successful and long-running series set in the Florida Keys and featuring Sherry Travis, a sassy, in-your-face bartender and amateur sleuth. I’d grown accustomed to Smallman’s likeable protagonist and the fine cast of supporting characters who inhabit the Travis tales. Smallman has built a loyal and enthusiastic fan base for her five Sherry Travis novels, and it takes real moxie to branch out with a new tale featuring an untested lead in a radically different setting. I needn’t have worried, though; this savvy author has delivered an original, compelling and, it must be said, altogether darker tale to kick off her exciting new series.

Making her way to an isolated mountaintop on a remote island in southwestern British Columbia, Canada, Singer Brown is on a mission. Years earlier she had been the lead vocalist with Vortex, a rising rock band; then Singer’s lover, Michael, a roadie for the group, had died under mysterious circumstances while they were on tour in Europe. Devastated, Singer dropped out of the band, her life spiraling downward, until, homeless, she had been forced to sing on street corners to survive. Now, driven by desperation, Singer seeks the band’s mountain retreat in search of a bit of cash and a place to hang out for a few days. And nagging in the back of her mind the question remains: Who killed Michael, and why?

The notion of hitting a dead end takes on new meaning when Singer arrives at the rock group’s compound and discovers that the leader of the band, Johnny Vibald, known as “Johnny Vibes,” has just been fatally shot. Johnny’s wife, Lauren, thinks Singer may have committed the crime, while Singer suspects the wife. But realizing that they’ll each be prime suspects in the eyes of the law, these two women finally band together to alibi one other for the murder of the man they both despised.

Singer struggles to imagine who else might have hated Johnny enough to kill him. Besides a few locals, the only other people nearby are a handful of members of the rock group and their lawyer, who’d been having an affair with Johnny’s wife. Complicating issues, the group had been approached by a business group that wanted to develop the island, a move that would have made them all wealthy. Only Johnny -- who held the majority share of the property rights -- opposed the plan.

The logic here is inescapable: If neither Singer nor Lauren killed the aging rock star, then someone else on the island must have. And it does not take Singer long to realize that in the dysfunctional world of this island retreat there is no shortage of people happy that Johnny Vibes is dead.

Long Gone Man marks the launch of a new series in which the lead character is a quirky and vulnerable, yet likeable character. A loner by nature, forced to live on the streets, Singer Brown is both canny and wary, yet retains a compassion for others, along with her belief that most people are basically good. Author Smallman deftly immerses Singer in a world defined by greed, selfishness and suspicion to produce an atmospheric and suspenseful tale that is all too believable.

Fans of her long-running Sherry Travis series will be happy to learn that Smallman, who divides her time between the islands off Vancouver, B.C., and the Florida Keys, is also hard at work on her sixth Sherry Travis novel, The Last Martini.◊

Jim Napier is a crime-fiction reviewer based in Quebec. His book reviews and author interviews have been featured in several Canadian papers as well as on such websites as Spinetingler Magazine, The Rap Sheet, Shots, Reviewing the Evidence and Type M for Murder. Napier also has an award-winning crime-fiction site, Deadly Diversions.

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This Just In… Meadowlark by Dawn Wink

Based on a true story, the author provides a captivating and crystal clear window into the lives of some of the early settlers on the plains of South Dakota.

In 1911, 16-year-old Grace has the same hopes and dreams as any other bride. She sees a future built on love, commitment and family. But she also knows that a life of ranching on the magnificent prairie she loves so deeply will require years of perseverance, hard work and suffering. What she doesn’t expect is how quickly she will be required to confront these threats to her heart and her soul.

Despite challenges that often seem insurmountable, Grace builds two abiding friendships in a land where other women are very few and rarely seen. Daisy, a half Lakota widow, befriends her and Grace also recognizes a kindred spirit in her nearest neighbor, Mae Thingvold, a young doctor, on her own. It is these women and their connections to each other that will sustain all three of them through unimaginable pain and loss and bring them joy in the sharing of small victories and celebrations of milestones along the paths of their lives.

You can order Meadowlark here. Visit author Dawn Wink 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.


Young Adult Fiction: All Our Yesterdays By Cristin Terrill

Em is in a cell next to Finn, a boy she cares about, but hasn’t seen since they were locked up. The Doctor has been torturing them to get a vital piece of information. And in a hidden place in her cell, there’s a piece of paper from a future self (or is that past?): “You have to kill him.” 

The “him” is the boy she once loved, when she was Marina, rich and spoiled, living next door to an even wealthier family with two sons, the brilliant young politician-in-waiting and his shy, geeky but gorgeous younger brother. He invented a time machine and the only way to prevent dreadful things happening was to travel into the past with it and stop it being invented by killing him. Of course, this means that she and Finn, too, will cease to exist...
Time travel novels are great fun, even when they’re meant to be serious. You always wonder how the next author will deal with all the paradoxes time travel would cause. In All Our Yesterdays (Disney-Hyperion) you can tell that author Cristin Terill has thought carefully about it and worked on the consequences. In the context of this novel, at least, she convinces me. She has also played with all the cliched tropes -- you mustn’t meet your past or future self or the universe will explode or some such -- and poked her tongue out at them, in the middle of a dramatic scene. 

One cliche Terill does hang on to is the one where the heroine has a choice of two gorgeous boys, but in this case, the reader knows from the beginning which one she will end up with, just not how.

What I particularly liked, as a fan of old-style SF, is that the mad scientist of this genre is given a background, a reason for turning mad and a time when he was a teenage boy and had family and friends who loved him. It’s a nice touch.

If you’ve read all those enthusiastic blurbs saying that this is for fans of The Hunger Games, forget it; it’s not remotely like that book, and I have yet to find a book that is. Those blurbs just cash in on the fame of the other book and don’t do justice to either. It’s a bit like comparing every fat fantasy saga to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings when there’s nothing quite like it.

With that said, All Our Yesterdays is an enjoyable book and well worth reading. ◊

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 the YA novel Wolfborn. Her blog The Great Raven can be found at

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

This Just In… Smiley Riley and Mystery of the Lucky Bracelet by Katie McLaren

Smiley Riley and Mystery of the Lucky Bracelet is the second children’s reading book of the Smiley Riley Adventure Series.

This time out, Smiley Riley and her best friend Noodles are discovering the mystery of the lucky bracelet. They travel to America to find out from Smiley Riley’s grandma some of the secrets of the lucky bracelet... and get a few surprises along the way!

Smiley Riley and the Mystery of the Lucky Bracelet is a great book for parents to read to their children, and for youngsters learning to read -- full of color and bursting with amazing illustrations.

You can order Smiley Riley and Mystery of the Lucky Bracelet here. Visit Smiley Riley 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.


Lamenting the Serial Comma

In a charming, if slightly misguided, bit of word scat today, David Haglund writes about the connection (or lack thereof) between the demise of the serial “Oxford” coma and the music industry for Slate’s Browbeat column. Writes Haglund:

Now, Then & Forever, the first album from Earth, Wind & Fire in eight years, is out today. Well adjusted music fans may wonder whether EWF’s famed horn section can still bring it or whether Philip Bailey can still hit the high notes, but here at Brow Beat we have a different question: What do pop musicians have against the Oxford comma?

Haglund points out that, with one not-so-notable exception, pop acts from Crosby, Stills & Nash to Earth, Wind & Fire and beyond have eschewed the use of a serial comma which, Haglund asserts, “is disregarded by publications that should know better, but agreed upon by right-thinking usage nerds everywhere.”

Speaking up now for the “publications who should know better,” we’re all doing it under very good advice: those of us (and there are many) who follow the Associated Press Stylebook when it comes to popular and consistent usage dropped the serial (AKA Oxford, AKA Harvard) comma years ago. Grammar geeks may cling, but for sheer readability and clarity, many experts agree that -- in this case, at least -- less is more.

You can see Haglund’s piece here.

This Just In… False Economies: A Novella by Gordon Haber

London, 1990. Thatcher is on her way out, but Thatcherism is in full swing. Meanwhile David Bergmann, a young American working in a West End bar, is having a quarter-life crisis. He loves London, but he’s broke, he can’t get a girlfriend, and his flatmate is kicking him out.

Then he meets Sofia. On paper it’s a bad match -- she’s a little older and a lot more sophisticated. But Bergmann is convinced that this fantastic woman can give him the purpose he lacks. All he needs to do is find the cash for a (hopefully) life-changing weekend with her in Paris.

Thus Bergmann takes a radical step for a nice Jewish boy and moves into a squat. He’ll quickly learn that in Thatcherite England, free rent comes at a price.

False Economies is a funny and moving story about young love in London and the mistakes we make while trying to grow up.

You can order False Economies here. Visit author Gordon Haber 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, September 10, 2013

New Today: Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford

Jamie Ford’s second novel is exactly what you’re hoping to find when you pick up a family saga. It’s what you hope to find, but so seldom do.

Songs of Willow Frost (Ballantine) is a complete and surprising package. The book is polished, the storytelling sound, but there is heart here, as well. And passion. In other words, a balanced parcel in every way and truly one of my top reads of the year.

A Chinese American orphan sees an exotic actress, Willow Frost, at the theatre and feels certain it is his mother, lost to him many years before. He determines to find and confront her: how could she have given him up? What was the story there? The deeper he delves, however, the more starkly he discovers that there is more to that story than initially met the eye.

It’s been four years since the publication of Ford’s debut work, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet but, judging by this new book, it was four years well spent. Ford evokes Depression-era Seattle in all its conflicted nuance with a hand that is both deft and steady. Songs of Willow Frost is a heartbreakingly beautiful story of love and loss and the bonds that families create. ◊

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… A-Z Poetry: Fruits and Veggies by Kaelah Mickelle

A-Z Poetry: Fruits and Veggies is a collection of 26 highly creative and entertaining acrostic poems. With visually captivating illustrations and rhyming verse, learning the alphabet is now more fun! As an added bonus, each poem provides a clever mnemonic device that aids in teaching children how to spell their fruits and veggies.

You can order A-Z Poetry: Fruits and Veggies here. Visit author Kaelah Mickelle 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, September 09, 2013

Seven Lessons From One of Literature’s Leading Ladies

Kiera Knightley starred
in the 2102 film based
on Tolstoy’s novel.
As the world settles in to celebrate Leo Tolstoy’s 185th birthday, The Huffington Post takes a close look at Anna Karenina, one of the late Russian author’s masterworks, and pulls out seven life lessons. Slightly thin in spots, but throughly fun. They observe, for instance, that “Romance and true love do exist!” (Thank goodness! We were wondering.)
Anna Karenina is, obviously, a tragedy. A woman risks everything she has, including her own life, in pursuit of true love, and the pursuit is ultimately fatal. But there is a good deal of happiness amid the traumatic happenings of this book.
You’ll find these and other lessons here.

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Bendy Bookends

Boing Boing brings to our attention the greatest bookends ev-ah. After all, if you have to have bookends, bendy ones really seem best. Sadly, it seems as though these are one-off prototypes and aren’t available for purchase.

This Just In… The Pull of the Tide by Emily Selencky

Obsession: the domination’s of one’s thoughts and feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire. Not: beauty, grace, breath, life. A psychosis. Something that happens to other people -- wierdos, psychos, freaks, nerds. Not me. Not to me. But it did, you see. Or so they told me when the psychiatrist gave his report to the court...

Marcus’ tale begins when he logs onto the internet to work on a story he hopes will make a big splash in the national papers. But very soon his obsession for a young woman he sees on the site has him hooked and he is logging on for personal rather than professional reasons. As his fascination with this young woman grows, he realizes that he must find her, must meet her in the flesh, and hours of logging on to the site begin to dominate his life and his relationships.

The Pull of the Tide is the story of how one seemingly ordinary man’s life can so quickly fall apart, and of how respectability can be so easily stripped away by the events that sweep us along through life.

You can order The Pull of the Tide 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.


Saturday, September 07, 2013

Biography: Queens of Noise: The Real Story of the Runaways by Evelyn McDonnell

Though there’s much to like about Evelyn McDonnell’s well thought out and researched biography of The Runaways, the first all-girl, all-teen rock band, Queens of Noise (Da Capo). But what slays me are the might-have-beens.

By rights, more than 35 years after their late 1970s debut, The Runaways should be legends. And like the legendary rock bands that have gone before them, they should be rolling a retirement tour by now, lining their nests while we scream and applaud youthful memories.

The Runaways had the right stuff: contacts, contracts, line up and chops. But though the four years the girls performed together would yield significant success in the US, and substantial attention overseas, the group would ultimately implode under the combined weight of youthful exuberance, personality clashes, too much of a lot of things (drugs, alcohol, etc) and an industry that, in the 70s, seemed designed to be ultimately unhealthy for what would turn out to be a proto Riot Grrrl outfit that set the stage for the glam rock that would follow.

Though history and films have consistently cast The Runaways’ manager, Kim Fowley, as the evil hand that created and then destroyed the group, McDonnell disputes his ultimate sway. Part of that legend might simply have come from what people expect young women to do and create. Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre says it very well in Queens of Noise: “When you hear something like that on a record, I feel like a lot of people are trained to think a full-grown man is doing that. To be able to conceptualize that it’s not a full-grown man, it’s actually a teenage girl doing it -- it changes what is possible for yourself as a girl, as a woman.”

Though The Runaways did not survive either the 1970s or the five bandmates’ approach to adulthood, all but one of band members did survive and even thrive. Joan Jett and Lita Ford would go on to have brilliant solo careers. Cherie Currie turned successfully to the arts, Fox “went to Harvard Law School with Barack Obama and became an entertainment attorney” and her band replacement, Vicki Blue, is now a filmmaker. Drummer Sandy West ended sadly, perhaps the strongest musician among them, died in 2006. After a life of crime and addiction, she was diagnosed with lung cancer while in prison and.

Though McDonnell’s biography of the band occasionally echoes with a sharp feminist trill, it is perhaps not misplaced here. This is a girl’s story. A woman’s story. And the influence this bouquet of teenagers would have on the music scene is perhaps still being calculated. ◊

Sienna Powers is a contributing editor to January Magazine.

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This Just In… The Perpetual Motion Club by Sue Lange

Welcome to the high school of the future. The glee club is full of rock stars, the brainy kids hack permanent records, and the basketball players are as conceited as the cheerleaders. The walls are ablaze with six-foot-high logos of the hottest junk food, software, and clothing brands. The popular kids are sponsored by Abercrombie, Microsoft, and Frito-Lay.

You, on the other hand, can’t even get a return text from Clearasil. Your best friend is a witch, your boyfriend a twerp. Your geometry teacher hates you and your mom is gleefully counting down the days until graduation. Guess it’s time for another hit of iHigh.

“Sue Lange’s novel ... bears her trademark combination of matter-of-factness and deadpan humor. Realistic YA SF, it shows a plausible near-future and an equally plausible hero: a science-smitten self-motivated very intelligent girl, supported (and thwarted) by an amusing, sharply etched chorus. Old-fashioned in its ‘can-do’ spirit, radical in its refusal to demonize or sanctify, the novel is a perfect candidate for a ‘Let’s put on a show!’ evolved-post-cyberpunk comedy film.” -- Athena Andreadis, editor, The Other Half of the Sky

You can order The Perpetual Motion Club here. Learn more author Sue Lang 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, September 06, 2013

When People Lie About Reading

Have you actually read all of the books you said you have? According to The London Telegraph, when it comes to the classics, there’s a pretty good chance you have not:
In a bid to appear more intelligent, more than 60 per cent of people have lied about reading classic novels. A leading research team polled 2,000 members of the British public to find out the tactics people employ to appear more intelligent, with some enlightening results.
The most popular ruse is pretending to have read classic novels, with 42 per cent of people relying on film and TV adaptations, or summaries found online, to feign knowledge of the novels. Surprisingly, half of the adults questioned admit to having displayed books on their shelves without ever having read them.
The more dedicated members of the surveyed group (three per cent) even admit to hiding the low brow magazines and books they are reading inside publications which make them appear more intelligent.
Here are the top ten books people lie about reading:

  • 1984 by George Orwell – 26%
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – 19%
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – 18%
  • Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger – 15%
  • A Passage to India by E M Forster – 12%
  • Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkein – 11%
  • To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – 10%
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky – 8%
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – 8%
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – 5%

Titles that just missed the cut are The Bible (3%), Homer’s Odyssey (3%) and Wuthering Heights (2%).

But fibbing about what books they’ve read isn’t the only infraction.
Other tactics employed by people to make themselves appear smarter include changing their appearance, correcting other people’s grammar, dropping famous quotes into conversation and claiming a higher level of fluency in a foreign language.

This Just In… Sploo McLout and the Incredible Food Fight by Eve Flager

Sploo McLout and the Incredible Food Fight take children on a journey of adventure and conflict resolution with a lovely little blue alien named Sploo McLout who lives on the wonderful planet of Zog.

When Sploo decides to hop in his space craft and go on an adventure, he discovers a planet just like Earth except only kids live there and they are in the middle of the most incredible food fight in the universe. They need Sploo’s help to resolve it before it gets any more out of hand!

“As he emerged from his little wrecked ship/hot dog bombs started falling, and veggies and dip!/Big cannons started firing out plump, giant peas, />and guns started shooting out sunflower seeds./And then McLout saw the strangest of all, /the soldiers were kids, not yet four feet tall!”

You can order Sploo McLout and the Incredible Food Fight 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.