Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Blog Widgets. Do you use them? Do you have them on your blog? Do you know what I'm talking about? :-) A blog widget is that list of books "From my LibraryThing" and such, that you'll sometimes see on someone's sidebar. If you use it, do all of your books show up or do you have it set to only show certain books? Do you have a search widget, which would allow your blog readers to search your library? Have you ever made a photomosaic of your book covers? You can find widgets and photomosaic information on the "Tools" tab in LibraryThing.
I have two LibraryThing widgets in my sidebar, one that shows random books from my library, and another that features the books I'm currently reading. Both of these are tag-based widgets, the first picks up books that are tagged "blog", which indicates that it's something I have reviewed for the blog or will be reviewing for the blog, and the second picks up books tagged "currently reading". I've thought about adding a search widget and making a photomosaic but haven't done either.
Missed my last post? I reviewed Oblivious by Cyndia Depre.
Monday, November 24, 2008
– Oblivious, p. 135
Olivia Chatham is one-of-a-kind. Her child-like innocence and big heart have endeared her to the residents of Chatham, a small town in Wisconsin named for her great-grandfather. Olivia believes that she was born lucky, and she never passes up an opportunity to extend some of that good fortune along to others.
After a murder stuns the close-knit community, Olivia is intent on catching the killer. She teams up with her best friend Josie and the two women quickly turn up leads in the most unlikely places. Tucker Monroe, a newcomer to Chatham who briefly dated the victim, finds himself drawn to the quirky Olivia and joins the team of amateur sleuths.
As her unorthodox investigative skills bring Olivia closer to solving the case, Tucker realizes that Olivia is in danger, and he’ll do anything to protect her.
Oblivious is a lighthearted mystery filled with humor and just the right amount of romance. Olivia is an absolute gem of a character. Her naïveté in some areas is matched by a keen understanding of human nature in others. Tucker is a charming leading man and a perfect match for Olivia. If you’re looking for a book to lift your spirits, you can’t go wrong with Oblivious.
Indiebound | Powell's | Amazon
The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner
I won The Shape of Mercy from MJ at Creative Madness. It apparently had quite an adventure getting to me. Our post office seems to be adept at destroying packages. This was the fourth or fifth package this year to show up in a plastic bag with an apology from the postal service. Amazingly, the book didn't have a scratch on it.
The Book of Names by D. Barkley Briggs
In December, I'll be participating in a book tour for The Book of Names, the first book in D. Barkley Briggs' Legends of Karac Tor trilogy. This young adult Christian fiction novel has been compared to the works of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, two of my favorite authors, so I'm eager to read it. I love the cover; it calls to mind Edgar Allan Poe.
Doctor Who: The Forever Trap by Dan Abnett
If you're a regular reader of Bookish Ruth, you probably know that I love all things Doctor Who. Last week I took the opportunity to catch up on two exclusive Doctor Who audiobooks. The Forever Trap is narrated by Catherine Tate, who played Donna Noble in Series 4.
Doctor Who: Pest Control by Peter Anghelides
Narrated by David Tennant. It's so fun to hear the seemingly effortless switch from Tennant's natural Scottish burr to the Doctor's English accent. I've listened to several of the audiobooks David Tennant has read and each one has been a treat.
What's new in your library this week?
Sunday, November 23, 2008
The Phenomenal Resurrection of Urban Literature
Urban literature AKA Street lit, gangsta lit, hip hop lit and at times(derisively so) ghetto lit is a burgeoning literary phenomenon that has an impressive fanbase, ranging from age 14 to 40!
Beginning in the mid 1960's and reaching a fever pitch during the decade of the 70's, with its pioneers Robert "Iceberg Slim" Beck, and Donald Goines. The gritty tales of inner city drama helped boost the genre with bestsellers such as "Never Die Alone" and "Whoreson" by Donald Goines, "Mama Black Widow" and "Pimp" by the legendary Iceberg Slim. The publisher, Holloway House, exclusively published the works of both street lit originators. After Donald Goines, (whose life resembled that of his characters and often abused heroin) was tragically murdered during the mid 70's while still at his typewriter, and Iceberg Slim (whose life was claimed by cancer during the early 1990's) had pretty much stopped writing, brought Urban literature to a standstill. The genre would lie dormant for the better part of a decade and a half before it emerged like a phoenix from its ashes with the stunning success of 1999's "Coldest Winter Ever" by Sistah Souljah.
Today the genre is magnificently powerful, generating well over $300,000,000 per year in book sales nationwide, completely dominating all aspects of African American literature with its only close competition coming from steamy Erotica titles penned by the likes of Zane and Noir. Urban literature is extremely popular and vitally important, so much so that the big New York publishers have taken notice and have signed such contemporary Urban lit novelists as K'Wan, Nikki Turner, Teri Woods, Vickie Stringer, and yours truly, Darrell King.
Like its musical counterpart, hip hop chronicles the day-to-day trials and tribulations of inner city residents whose writers were once denied a voice by mainstream publishers who felt as though their experiences and stories were of little importance and, therefore, shunned them at all costs. This prompted early Urban lit novelists to begin self publishing their works, selling them out the trunks of cars and promoting them via word of mouth in traditional black venues such as hair salons, barbershops, sidewalk tables, and mom-and-pop shops. It is important because it gives African American teens as well as adults an opportunity to read the type of stories and embrace the kind of characters which they could relate to best and enjoy.
Urban lit flies off of library and bookstore shelves, causing kids who never before showed an interest in reading anything to voraciously go through several novels of street literature per month. There are many detractors of the often gritty, violent genre. Similar to hip hop, the adversaries of Urban lit say that the profuse usage of profanity, detailed and raunchy sexual imagery, and descriptions of brutal criminal acts glamorize and even encourage unlawful behavior among its readers, particularly youth. I strongly disagree. Urban literature is sort of like Black America's answer to the classical hardboiled pulps of the 1940's and 1950's, which yielded such iconic gems as "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Postman Always Knocks Twice". Or even the well loved westerns whose ruggedly violent, Stetson wearing heroes captured the imagination and affection of a generation and spawned numerous movies and television shows. Urban literature is as much a part of American pop culture as any of the above mentioned literary works of art and should be acknowledged and accepted as the literary phenom that it has become. It was and has now again proved itself to be a true American original.
Darrell King: Street Lit author of "Dirty South" (Triple Crown Publications, 2005), "Mo'Dirty: Still Stuntin'" (Urban Books, 2008)
Most of these books came to my attention through the book blogging community, but The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery is an old favorite that I've never owned. Drood by Dan Simmons won't be out until February, but that doesn't stop me from wanting it now. Perhaps you'll find a good gift suggestion for someone on your list among my selections. (And, if you're a brave soul, you can check out my entire Amazon wish list. At close to 200 items, it's not for the faint of heart.)
Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends -- her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over.
Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her.
This is Alice's story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget.
Paper Towns by John Green
Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life - dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge - he follows.
After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues - and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.
The Last Nightingale by Anthony Flacco
San Francisco, 1906. The great West Coast city is a center of industry and excitement–and also, to many, of sin. When the Great Earthquake hits, some believe it is the day of reckoning for the immoral masses.
Meanwhile, twelve-year-old Shane Nightingale is witness to the violent deaths of his adoptive mother and sisters–not from the earthquake, but at the hands of a serial killer. As Shane wanders the city appearing to be just another anonymous orphan, he keeps what he has seen a secret. But when his path crosses that of Sergeant Randall Blackburn, who is in pursuit of the killer, the two become an investigative team that will use both a youth’s intuitive gifts and a policeman’s new deductive techniques and crime-fighting tools to unmask a vicious murderer whose fury can be as intense as that of Mother Nature herself.
The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox
A cold October night, 1854. In a dark passageway, an innocent man is stabbed to death.
So begins the extraordinary story of Edward Glyver, book lover, scholar and murderer. As a young boy, Glyver always believed he was destined for greatness. This seems the stuff of dreams, until a chance discovery convinces Glyver that he was right: greatness does await him, along with immense wealth and influence. And he will stop at nothing to win back a prize that he now knows is rightfully his.
Glyver's path leads him from the depths of Victorian London, with its foggy streets, brothels and opium dens, to Evenwood, one of England's most enchanting country houses. His is a story of betrayal and treachery, of death and delusion, of ruthless obsession and ambition. And at every turn, driving Glyver irresistibly onwards, is his deadly rival: the poet-criminal Phoebus Rainsford Daunt.
When thieves find an abandoned child lying in a monster’s footprint, they have no idea that their wilderness discovery will change the course of history.
Cloaked in mystery, Auralia grows up among criminals outside the walls of House Abascar, where vicious beastmen lurk in shadow. There, she discovers an unsettling–and forbidden–talent for crafting colors that enchant all who behold them, including Abascar’s hard-hearted king, an exiled wizard, and a prince who keeps dangerous secrets.
Auralia’s gift opens doors from the palace to the dungeons, setting the stage for violent and miraculous change in the great houses of the Expanse.
Auralia’s Colors weaves literary fantasy together with poetic prose, a suspenseful plot, adrenaline-rush action, and unpredictable characters sure to enthrall ambitious imaginations.
The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery
Sara Stanley is only fourteen, but she can weave tales that are impossible to resist. In the charming town of Carlisle, children and grown-ups alike flock from miles around to hear her spellbinding tales. And when Bev King and his younger brother Felix arrive for the summer, they, too, are captivated by the Story Girl. Whether she's leading them on exciting misadventure or narrating timeless stories—from the scary "Tale of the Family Ghost" to the fanciful "How Kissing Was Discovered" to the bittersweet "The Blue Chest of Rachel Ward"—the Story Girl has her audience hanging on every word.
The Complete X-Files by Chris Carter & Matt Hurwitz
The Complete X-Files is a declassified look at all nine seasons of the American Peabody and Emmy Award-winning science fiction television series created by Chris Carter. Delve into the mystery and myth of X-Files with in-depth looks at its entire television run, the first X-Files film, and the upcoming cinematic sequel. X-Files creator and producer Chris Carter takes us into the never-before-seen archives with explanations of unsolved plots, discussions of the FBI's paranormal investigations, scene by scene breakdowns of popular episodes, and insider information on both the previous and upcoming X-Files films. The Complete X-Files will captivate fans and science fiction audiences, proving that nothing is what it seems and that "the truth is out there."
Drood by Dan Simmons
On June 9, 1865, while traveling by train to London with his secret mistress, 53-year-old Charles Dickens--at the height of his powers and popularity, the most famous and successful novelist in the world and perhaps in the history of the world--hurtled into a disaster that changed his life forever.
Did Dickens begin living a dark double life after the accident? Were his nightly forays into the worst slums of London and his deepening obsession with corpses, crypts, murder, opium dens, the use of lime pits to dissolve bodies, and a hidden subterranean London mere research . . . or something more terrifying?
The Week in Reviews:
The Lighthouse Children by Syd Hoff
Grit for the Oyster by Suzanne Woods Fisher et al.
Doctor Who: The Doctor Trap by Simon Messingham
Dead Ringer by Mary Burton
The American Journey of Barack Obama by The Editors of LIFE Magazine
Friday, November 21, 2008
Author: Mary Burton
Publisher: Zebra (Nov. 1, 2008)
Reporter Kendall Shaw nearly died at the hands of a serial killer last summer. Since returning to work, she’s done her reporting from the safety of the anchor’s desk. But when a young woman is found strangled by the James River, Kendall feels compelled to cover the story. She wants to prove that she can handle the tough stories – not only to herself, but also to her demanding boss and former boyfriend, Brett.
Homicide detective Jacob Warrington and his partner Zack Kier have little to go on at the murder scene. The killer left no physical evidence and the only clue they have is a small gold charm engraved with the name ‘Ruth’, which is not the name of the victim.
When more victims are discovered, each with a gold charm of their own, an unsettling pattern emerges. Each victim was killed in the same manner, and they all bear an uncanny resemblance to Kendall Shaw. As Jacob tries to keep Kendall from becoming the next victim, he finds himself fighting a growing attraction to her.
Does the killer have his sights set on Kendall? And could a mystery from her past be the key to solving the crime?
While I enjoyed Dead Ringer, I felt two of the subplots should have been more fully developed. One promising subplot with Kendall’s boss Brett saw no real resolution. Another subplot, this time involving Kendall’s roommate Nicole and one of her photography clients, was more fleshed out, but it didn’t feel believable to me. However, Dead Ringer offered up some great twists, an interesting protagonist, and a terrifying killer. These three elements made it a difficult book to put down.
Buy Dead Ringer:
Indiebound | Powell's | Amazon
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
For decades Americans have turned to LIFE to see, understand, and remember the most important events and people of our time. Just as LIFE once opened up the glittering Kennedy White House, LIFE now focuses its lens on Barack Obama. The American Journey of Barack Obama covers the candidate from his childhood and adolescence to his time as editor of The Harvard Law Review and his Chicago activist years, culminating with the excitement and fervor of the historic 2008 Democratic National Convention. The unfolding drama of Obama's life and political career is cinematic in scope, and never has it been presented so compellingly. In addition to a powerful array of photographs that were taken by many of the country's greatest photographers (and some that were snapped, in the quiet moments, by Obama family members themselves), this book also includes a Foreword by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, an incisive narrative biography and original essays by some of our finest writers, including Gay Talese, Charles Johnson, Melissa Fay Greene, Andrei Codrescu, Fay Weldon, Richard Norton Smith, Bob Greene and several others. Many readers will find a new understanding of Obama. All readers will feel that they are bearing witness to a singular, undeniably American story.
I paged through the book briefly this afternoon and was very impressed by what I saw. To enter, leave a comment on this entry. For an additional four entries, link to this contest from your blog. The contest will run until December 3, 2008 at 11:59 PM EST. This contest is open worldwide. Good luck!
Wendi of Wendi's Book Corner is the lucky winner. Wendi, please e-mail me with your address at bookishruth at gmail dot com so I can send your book.
Author: Simon Messingham
Publisher: Random House UK (Oct. 23, 2008)
“Excitement, tension, the thrill of the chase, these were a few of his favourite things.”
– The Doctor Trap, p. 187
Sebastiene is physically flawless, incredibly powerful and more than a little bit maniacal. As the ruler of Planet 1, Sebastiene has everything he could ever want, but that will never be enough. He’s taken to hunting down alien species, the more dangerous the better. For his ultimate prize, however, Sebastiene must enlist the help of the Endangered Dangerous Species Society, a group of the most ruthless hunters in the galaxy. Sebastiene wants to add the most dangerous being in the universe to his collection: the Doctor, the last of the Time Lords.
Sebastiene uses a genetic copy of the Doctor, a man named Baris, to steal the TARDIS and kidnap Donna. The doppelganger lures the Doctor to Planet 1, but it doesn’t take long for the Doctor to turn the tables on his twin. He manages to switch places with Baris, which only complicates matters. Now he has to save Donna, recover the TARDIS and keep the hunters from killing Baris. Can the Doctor escape Sebastiene’s trap or will Sebastiene find himself in a trap of the Doctor’s design?
The Doctor Trap is an action-packed story filled with twists and turns, alternating between confusing and clever. Sebastiene was an interesting villain but I felt that the story would have been stronger without the final twist; it felt rather anticlimactic compared to earlier revelations.
This is one of the first novels to feature Donna Noble as the Doctor’s companion. While they spend most of the story separated (one of my personal pet peeves with the Doctor Who novels), there are some nice moments of Doctor/Donna banter that the show’s fans came to expect during Series 4.
Buy The Doctor Trap:
Indiebound | Powell's | Amazon
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher et al.
Publisher: Vintage Romance Publishing (Aug. 31, 2008)
With Grit for the Oyster, authors Suzanne Woods Fisher, Debora M. Coty, Faith Tibbetts McDonald and Joanna Bloss have created an excellent resource for aspiring writers.
The book is divided into four sections: The first deals with embarking on a writing career, the second addresses the daily grind of writing, the third focuses on dealing with rejection, and the fourth section centers on keeping your perspective as a writer.
The four authors take turns with short devotional essays. Each essay includes a related Bible verse, pertinent quotations from established writers, questions for deeper reflection and introspection, and a suggested prayer. The authors tackle issues such as dealing with distractions, handling both success and failure, honing and using your voice, balancing faith with writing, and persevering in the face of self-doubt.
While I believe that the advice contained in Grit for the Oyster would be helpful for any writer, it will be especially beneficial to Christians. The format lends itself perfectly to use as a daily devotional.
I particularly enjoyed the carefully selected quotations that accompanied each essay. The insights of industry professionals and successful authors such as Dr. Gary Chapman, Terri Blackstock, Liz Curtis Higgs, Tricia Goyer and David Kopp are an inspirational addition to the book.
The presentation is a bit bland, and I would have liked an index for easier reference to specific issues, but the excellent advice and encouraging message outshine these minor flaws.
Buy Grit for the Oyster:
Indiebound | Powell's | Amazon
Popular this month on LT: Do you look at this list? Do you get ideas on what to read from it?
Have you read any of the books on the list right now? Feel free to link to any reviews you've done as well.
Oh dear, now I have that song from Wicked stuck in my head. I look at the "Popular This Month" list fairly often, although it's more incidental than intentional. I'll usually look at it when I'm looking at my LT home page, which is a few times a week. I don't know that I get recommendations from the list, since I've usually heard about most (if not all) of the popular books via other sources before they make the list.
I have 8 of the 10 books on the current list:
1. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
2. Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicky Myron
3. Nation by Terry Pratchett
4. Brisingr by Christopher Paolini
6. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
7. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
8. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
10. Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland
The sad thing? I haven't read any of them yet. I only received one of these (Any Given Doomsday) as an advance reading copy, so I'd consider other seven to be pleasure reading, which has been taking a backseat to review reading lately. I was reading Brisingr in September until someone completely spoiled the book for me and I lost interest in it. I'll pick it up again once I've forgotten some of the details.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society has been calling to me lately, though, so I think that may be the book I pick up next.
Monday, November 17, 2008
One of our rescue cats was hit and killed by a car sometime yesterday night. Even though Buck was a stray, he was part of our family and both my mother and I were devastated to lose him. Tonight, like Charlie in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I'm going to "put my head under my pillow and let the quiet put things where they are supposed to be."
Author: Syd Hoff
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's (1994)
Sam and Rose live in a lighthouse by the sea. Although the elderly couple has no children, they’re incredibly devoted to the 100 sea gulls that fly to the lighthouse each day. They feed the gulls and watch out for them as the birds play in the ocean. Every night the sea gulls fly away, but they faithfully return the next morning to see Sam and Rose.
When a terrible storm completely destroys the lighthouse, Sam and Rose move inland. They enjoy their new home and new neighbors, but miss their beloved sea gulls. Rose devises a plan to lead the gulls to their new home. Ultimately, they are joyously reunited with their “lighthouse children”.
It may be puzzling to an older reader why the couple, who have just lost everything, would leave what little they do have left (their “children”, as they lovingly refer to the sea gulls). While the art is bright and engaging, the lighthouse looks more like a baby’s bottle than a lighthouse beacon. However, the sweet story, colorful art and rhyming names of the sea gulls (“Hank, Frank, Molly, and Dolly!”) in this easy reader will be very inviting to young children.
Buy The Lighthouse Children:
Indiebound | Powell's | Amazon
I have lots of e-mail and blog posts to catch up on, and I'm eager to get back into the blogosphere this week.
Many thanks to Natasha, Alea, and Amy for holding my hand via Twitter over the past week!
Sunday, November 9, 2008
My October Reads, possibly the most eclectic list so far:
- Tethered by Amy MacKinnon
- James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
- The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black
- Ladybug Girl by David Soman & Jacky Davis
- Torchwood: Pack Animals by Peter Anghelides
- Belly of the Whale by Linda Merlino
- Hillary Rodham Clinton: Dreams Taking Flight by Kathleen Krull
- Bats at the Library by Brian Lies
- The Darker Side by Cody McFadyen
- Doctor Who: Forever Autumn by Mark Morris
- Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
- Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
- The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Seeing Stone by Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black
- Goodnight Goon: A Petrifying Parody by Michael Rex
I also completed the R.I.P. III Challenge, reading 5 of the books from my original pool:
- The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen
- A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George
- The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
- The Darker Side by Cody McFadyen
- Doctor Who: Forever Autumn by Mark Morris
I have a lot of reviews to get caught up on over the next few weeks. Some personal issues, post-election burnout and a flare up of my CFS and fibromyalgia have seen me doing more reading than writing, but I'm hopeful that the coming week will provide more opportunities to write.
What have you been reading lately? Did you read any of the books I read last month?
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
"Companions whom I loved, and still do love, ... Tell them, my song."
-- Michael Crichton, Timeline
Best-selling author Michael Crichton has passed away at the age of 66 after a private battle with cancer.
I am immensely saddened by this. Jurassic Park was the first "grown-up" book I ever read, and I devoured Michael Crichton's body of work as a teenager. To say he was one of my favorite authors somehow seems inadequate. He was, of course, but he was so much more than that. He was one of those extraordinary writers who truly inspired me. I sat up a little straighter in every science class I ever took because of his books.
The statement released by his family succinctly sums up my thoughts:
"He will be profoundly missed by those whose lives he touched, but he leaves behind the greatest gifts of a thirst for knowledge, the desire to understand, and the wisdom to use our minds to better our world."
Thank you, Mr. Crichton.