A Bookish Meme

CJ over at My Year of Reading Seriously did this meme, which she snagged elsewhere, as one does. I liked it, so I’m snagging it as well. If YOU want to play along (and I encourage this), the questions are listed without answers interspersed below the fold.

Hardcover or paperback? Why?
Hardcovers last longer; paperbacks are easier to tuck in a purse, but my favorite size and shape is the trade paperback because they’re lighter than the first, and not as thick as a standard paperback – I have small hands, so this is an issue.

If I were to own a book shop I would call it…
You know, I’ve never named a book shop, only a coffee shop. Ex Libris would be one option though it might seem a little too toney. Maybe just Stacks.

My favorite quote from a book (name it) is…
Oh, this changes, often, but for the moment: I’d gotten better lately at simply refusing to let my imagination run away with me. Maybe it had something to do with being a sociopath; if so, let’s hear it for dementia. From Narcissus in Chains by Laurell K. Hamilton.

The author (alive or deceased) I would love to have lunch with would be…
Madeleine L’Engle or Mark Twain.

If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except from the SAS survival guide, it would be…
Oh, I want to pick something lofty like The Complete Shakespeare, but the reality is that I’d bring along The Eight by Katherine Neville, and not just because it’s 825 pages long, either.

I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that
…would allow me to read in the tub – actually READ, not listen to an audio book – without any chance of the book getting wet.

The smell of an old book reminds me of…
Poking around old bookshops in the Haight on a rainy day, and then curling up in front of a fireplace with espresso, quilt, and dog, to read.

If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be…
I wanted to be Harriet from Harriet the Spy when I was little, and then Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables when I was older. I like the Anita Blake series, but I wouldn’t want to BE Anita – it’s exhausting. The lead character from Madeleine L’Engle’s Certain Women appeals to me even though her name escapes me, or the researcher in the Pink Carnation series. It all changes depending on my mood and the weather and what I’ve read recently.

The most overestimated book of all time is…
The DaVinci Code. It was a nice couple hours of entertaining reading, but folks, it was just a novel, and similar stories have been told far more artfully (*cough*Foucault’s Pendulum*cough*).

I hate it when a book…
Ends prematurely. When you’ve been sucked into the story and you’re invested in the characters, and then it just sort of fizzles out. It’s so disappointing.

Continue reading

Emily the Strange

Emily the Strange

I first saw her quirky goth image on stationery and desk do-dads on the first shelf as you walk into the Lone Star Comics in Arlington (the one at I-20 and Green Oaks, not the big one). I don’t usually like cutesy things, but something about this little inked girl spoke to the part of my soul that likes vampires and coffee houses.Her name is Emily the Strange and while she was originally created to call attention to a line of skate gear and apparel designed by Rob Reger, she’s become her own fictional person, featuring in graphic novels by Chronicle Books and Dark Horse (which also publishes the Buffy comics), and soon to have her very own movie.

I picked up volume three of the Dark Horse books, “The Dark Book.” It warns you that the subject matter is dark, that the attitudes are dark, and even that book itself is dark, “we use a lot of black ink.” It’s a quirky, sort of surreal story about Emily having a battle of wits with a hell goddess, and includes wonderfully twisted attacks on humanity like raining coffee over the world.

Emily herself is a sort of modern, and much more twisted, version of Wednesday Addams, with a caffeine addiction and four cats. Perpetually thirteen, she dances through her gothic life to the beat of her own private club mix, and while she should be disturbing, somehow, she is not.

Or maybe she is, and I’m just twisted enough to appreciate her. She says it herself, after all, “We’re all strange here.”

Booking Through Thursday: Buy a Friend a Book

Buy a Friend a Book Week is October 1-7 (as well as the first weeks of January, April, and July). During this week, you’re encouraged to buy a friend a book for no good reason. Not for their birthday, not because it’s a holiday, not to cheer them up–just because it’s a book.

What book would you choose to give to a friend and why?

The book I’d choose to fling at a friend would depend on the friend. A shabby-chic decorating guide might go to a friend with a new apartment, a vampire story to a friend who loves them as much as I do. For other friends, I’d probably pick something from their wishlists at places like Amazon.com.

One book that I recommend to everyone is The Eight by Katherine Neville. It’s not new. In fact, I first read it during spring break of my freshman year in college (April, 1989), but it’s thick, compelling, and fun – and every so often I love to revisit it.

Another favorite is Alexandra Stoddard’s Gift of a Letter a tiny little book that really makes you appreciate snailmail.

Either of those would be good random gift books, I think.

You can join the Booking Through Thursday fun, too.

The Small Rain

by Madeleine L’Engle

It seems fitting, with her death still so very recent, that my next book for the 11 Decades challenge is Madeleine L’Engle’s first published novel.

It takes place in a slightly romanticized New York, and traces the story of Katherine, a brilliant pianist, and Sarah, and aspiring actress, friends of a sort, though the latter is painted rather unsympathetically.

L’Engle delves in to all sorts of subjects: sex, religion, love, growing up, and the artistic personality – as she shares with us Katherine’s journey from teen to young adult.

The story does not end with all romances happily tied up, but it does continue in the sequel, A Severed Wasp, which holds resolutions that are satisfying, if not perfectly tidy.

Ticket to Ride

Fuzzy and I were turned on to the Days of Wonder games by some friends, who mentioned a “train game” while we were playing something completely different. I love trains, so when we saw the game – Ticket to Ride – in our local comic book store, we took home a copy.

The object of the game is to claim railroad routes across the country, making the longest route, or stopping in the most cities (not necessarily the same thing) or scoring the most point for completing the most point-to-point connections. There’s a 1916 expansion pack that adds some cards and routes, and then there’s a special Marklin version that adds human characters. As well, there’s a version using a European map instead of the US map.

Geography purists should be cautioned: the maps are not accurate, and are intended as representations and modified for ease of play.

Still, the game is fun.
And I’m not just saying that because I usually win.

(For 2-5 players)

Bright Lights, Big Ass

by Jen Lancaster

I was a fan of Jen Lancaster’s blog, Jennsylvania before she published her first book, Bitter is the New Black, though I’ve drifted away from regular reading, as happens when there are day jobs and weekend activities, and one’s OWN blog to maintain. Still when I finally got around to reading her second offering, Bright Lights, Big Ass I was happily dropped right back into Jen’s world, in which, like mine, work really does take place while wearing comfy pajamas, but only after reading email, drinking coffee, playing with dogs, etc.

In this book, Jen discusses house hunting, horrible neighbors, weight gain, weight loss, and why she is not among the contestants on Biggest Loser, even though she tried.

As always, her writing is a blend of joyous snark and candid vulnerability, wrapped in pink and orange tissue, and tied with a bow. She even manages to make me forget her Republican tendencies, and just enjoy the ride.

Which really, is as it should be.

One Dance in Paris

by Julia Holden

Why I Picked This Book:
I saw it from across the room, the image of a man and woman dancing across the cover of a book. As I moved closer, I saw the title, One Dance in Paris. While the name of the author, Julia Holden seemed vaguely familiar, I was certain that I had never read her work. Even so, the title intrigued me, and the purchase of this novel rounded out the collection of French-themed books that I gave myself for my birthday last month.

Brief Plot Summary:
Linda Stone lives in a Boston suburb with her father who has never quite gotten over the death of her mother, when she was a girl. For that matter, neither has Linda, who runs as an escape from the reality of her life in which she works successive low-paying job, generally as a waitress, and avoids Harvard men as much as possible.

When a mysterious package arrives at her door – a single feather and a photograph – Linda decides she has to solve this personal mystery. She travels first to Las Vegas, to meet the sender of the package, and then to Paris, and along the way she learns that a headliner is not a showgirl, that her mother was a headliner, and that sometimes people can mentor you from beyond the grave…sort of.

My Thoughts About the Book:
I loved this book. I wanted it never to end, and I have to admit, I’d have loved a couple more chapters in Paris, both before and after the actual end point. While elements of the story were preposterous, Holden wove them into a story that sucks you in enough that you can buy into Linda’s tale. The dialogue is fresh, the clothing descriptions are fabulous, and there’s a breezy sense of adventure that pervades the entire novel. This is chick-lit, but it’s chick-lit at it’s best: light, fun, and immensely satisfying.

Not only to I recommend this novel, I’m also eager for the first of the month to roll around, so I can buy the author’s other book, and read that as well.

If you’re a fan of off-kilter heroines, Paris, or Project Runway, you will LOVE this book.

Talking Pictures

My favorite details of the Harry Potter books are the moving, interactive paintings and photographs, where you can not only see a bit of movement, but because subjects can visit other frames, it’s like having many different pictures.

Even though we live in a decidedly muggle world, we actually can have something similar, thanks to the use of modern technology. Buy a digital photo frame and use your USB drive to upload images, and you can have either a single still, or a personal slide show, playing in a photo frame of your choosing (metal, wood-tone, or acrylic) in sizes from 7-10 inches, and even better, you can include audio.

The company that makes these digital frames is called Digital Framez, and even though their locations are limited to the UK and Australia right now, they ship worldwide.

Even better, 10 inch digital picture frames come with a free 256 MB memory card, and all of them also support DIVX playback, so you can actually have movie playback, and since DigitalFramez.com takes PayPal, and will give you pricing in your local currency, not only do you not have to figure out what $109 is in galleons and sickles, you also don’t have to convert dollars to British pounds.

Consider a digital frame today. It’s less expensive than a trip to Hogwarts.

Booking Through Thursday: Sunshine and Roses

Imagine that everything is going just swimmingly. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and all’s right with the world. You’re practically bouncing from health and have money in your pocket. The kids are playing and laughing, the puppy is chewing in the cutest possible manner on an officially-sanctioned chew toy, and in between moments of laughter for pure joy, you pick up a book to read . . .

What is it?

It really depends on my own mood on beautiful days, what I read just for kicks. It might be a decorating book by Alexandra Stoddard, though my favorite work of hers is Gift of a Letter, or it might be something by the always hilarious Christopher Moore. If it’s hot, and I’m missing the beach, I’m likely to go outside with a glass of cold water (with lemon) and a juicy Anne Rivers Siddons novel or a really good mystery, or I might feel like traveling to a new world with some great fantasy or science fiction, or Jen Lancaster’s latest snarky memoir.

Prompted by Booking through Thursday