Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Living the Dream: Book Heaven

People ask me a lot why I love book blogging. It is, after all, extremely time consuming and something that one cannot (in good conscience) BS their way through. It's done without compensation and the reception of said reviews can be... hit or miss.  But sometimes there are these golden days when appreciation and fun piles up, and I spin around in my desk chair at work feeling so blissed out to be part of the writerly network. 

Exhibit A:

BOOK IT! Before Thanksgiving, I tweeted about my affinity for personal pan pizzas and their early-90s connection to reading all of the things. After gobbling a bunch of Lispector, I was feeling like I'd definitely earned some cheesy goodness.  Something even better happened... The lovely people of Book It found my tweet and sent me this vintage shirt as a thanks for the shout-out. I am going to wear this shirt, like... way too much.

"Other Life Forms" - This new book by Julia Glassman is the first release of indie publisher Dinah Press.  I received a sweet email from the author, who had seen my involvement with Papercut Press (I wrote one of the featured blurbs/reviews of "The Narrows") and asked me if I'd be interested in checking out her work.  The book is gorge and I'm stoked to crack it open ASAP. 

"Sky Saw" by Blake Butler - Sent to my doorstep by NY Tyrant Books after some fangirl tweets.  This press, this art... I want to just swim around in it. Really grateful for the advance release copy. May fall asleep spooning this.

"An Extraordinary Theory of Objects" by Stephanie Lacava - Subtitled "A Memoir of An Outsider in Paris," this book is physically a piece of covetable art. TLC Books and HarperCollins sent this my way to review, and though I hate to admit I'm totally judging a book by its cover... holy crap, it's sharp. 

Okay, so "Rapture" by Kameron Hurley is kind of the one hitch in the giddy-up here, but a good laugh nonetheless. San Francisco Book Review meant to send me poet Carol Ann Duffy's collection "Rapture" for review, and I think some wires may have gotten crossed.  Looks like this "Rapture" is a little more heavy on space worms than sonnets.

Exhibit B:

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I'm working with poets Ed Smallfield and Alice Jones of Apogee Press as Associate Editor.  Today, a box chock-full of Pattie McCarthy's "Marybones" showed up.  These could not be more hot-off-the-presses. Here they are, waiting for me to send them to preliminary readers and reviewers.

It's blurry. I was freaking out at all the pretty.
And so, the mad dash to 2013 continues and I have about sixteen more skips in my step. Thank you to all the lovely humans that put magic in my mailbox this week.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I Want to Complete

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly feature created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Books in series are a weakness of mine.  Here are the seductive sets I want to decimate.

1) "The Parasol Protectorate" Series by Gail Carriger 

2) "The Dark Tower" Series by Stephen King

3) The "Amelia Peabody" Books by Elizabeth Peters

4) "A Song of Ice and Fire" by George R R Martin

5) "All Souls Trilogy" by Deborah Harkness

6) The Original "Nancy Drew" Series

7) Neal Stephenson's "Baroque Cycle"

8) "In Search of Lost Time" by Marcel Proust

9) "Divergent" Series by Veronica Roth

10) "Earth's Children" Series by Jean M. Auel

...and this is why I will never run out of things to read.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Reviewing 101: An Alphabetized List of Words Everyone Should Use Less

If you read a lot of mainstream book jackets, book reviews, and/or book blurbs, you find yourself swimming in a sea of hyperbolic adjectives with a very low turn-over rate.  I've compiled a list of the most egregious offenders that should, at all costs, be avoided from here on out.  

A –  Arresting
B –  Bold, brave, beautiful

"Levine evokes the early stages of longing with beautiful, arresting prose." - wikipedia

C –  Complex, compelling, captivating
D –  Devastating, dystopian

"Both utterly realistic and fantastically dystopian...”- Minnesota Herald Tribune

E –  Exhilarating, explosive, epic

"Lyrical and explosive, this debut book of poetry explores Alex Lemon's experiences as a brain surgery patient." - Tin House

F –  Forceful
G –  Gripping
H –  Haunting

"Haunting.” - Real Simple 

I –  Irreverent, inspired, intimate
J –  Juvenile
K –  Killer
L –  Luminous, lyrical 

See entry "E" above.
M –  Moving

...turns what might have been just a clever mash-up of disaster epic with sensitive young-adult, coming-of-age story into a genuinely moving tale that mixes the real and surreal... -New York Times

N –  Noteworthy
O –  Of-the-times, observant
P –   Post-modern, profound, poignant
Q –  Quirky


R –  Reminiscent, redemptive, riveting, remarkable
S –  Suspenseful, stunning, stirring, smart, sentimental, subtle

“Haunting…a bittersweet coming-of-age tale…tender but unsentimental and buoyed by subtle wit” - People

T –  Tasteless
U –  Understated, uplifting, universal

Playing out almost ballet-like, not only because of the landscapes or timeless (and of course, melancholic) Wagner soundtracking - but the sheer understated drama and tragedy of it all is incredible. - melancholia tumblr

V –  Vigorous
W – Whimsical, witty
Y –  Youthful

I'm in no way walking away from this blameless, either... But I do feel a new zeal for challenging The Generic.

What are your buzz-word pet peeves?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Review: "The Round House" by Louise Erdrich

Title: The Round House
Louise Erdrich
Date Published: 
October 2, 2012

How I Heard About It: Review copy kindly provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours. 

Two Sentence Summary: Thirteen year old Joe Coutts has spent his life on the Ojibwe reservation, surrounded by close-knit family and tribal community.  When his mother is brutally attacked, raped, and nearly murdered by an unknown assailant, Joe tries desperately to put the mysterious pieces together and begins to uncover difficult and intricate truths about everyone in his life. 

"Now the crane my mother used to watch, or its offspring, flapped slowly past my window.  That evening it cast the image not of itself but of an angel on my wall.  I watched this shadow. Through some refraction of brilliance the wings arched up from the slender body. Then the feathers took fire so the creature was consumed by light."

Things I Think: Having recently dealt with matters of violent assault in my life, I wasn't sure I'd be able to handle this novel yet.  But the desire to familiarize myself with Erdrich's work temporarily outweighed trepidation, and here we are!  

I'm extremely late to the game when it comes to novelist Louise Erdrich.  She's written thirteen other novels, has published three books of poetry, and even has several children's books out in the world. And based on everyone's adoration, quality has not been sacrificed for quantity. When I heard that "The Round House" had been nominated for the 2012 National Book Award, I knew the time had come to hop on the Erdrich train (or at least give it a good peep.)

And now I have thirteen more novels on my TBR list. 

Apparently "The Round House" is a continuation of previous plot lines involving Joe's parents (Geraldine and Bazil). But the novel stands so independently I'd never have known, without all of the supplemental reading I did online. Joe is a brilliantly written narrator. Facing intense moral struggles in the face of what has happened to his mother, he keenly weighs loyalties to family, community, the law.  Dissatisfied with the truth-seeking attempts of the authorities, he bravely and brazenly seeks out facts on his own. 

The novel is rich in history and Ojibwe culture; reservation politics, both internal and external, gain increasing clarity as the plot-heavy novel unfolds. Some passages involving Bazil's legal knowledge (court cases from the rez, etc.) can become a bit burdensome, but the overall effect is to inspire further curiosity.

"The Round House" is certainly literary but also qualifies as an intense mystery/thriller.  Despite its length, the plot's rapid-fire pace makes it a rather quick read (a couple of days, in my case.) No doubt, this is going to be a Big Book of 2012; I think you'll be seeing it pop up on a lot of "best of" lists promptly.