Monday, November 30, 2009


This is such a clever ad from the New Zealand Book Council.

Coloring Contest

If you are a fan of Christopher Moore, chances are you will love Patrick Wensink. Recently Patrick decided there’s only one way to celebrate the release of his book, “Sex Dungeon for Sale!”. And that is by holding a coloring contest.

He had a series of illustrations created based on some of the book’s stories, including a Kindergartener who thinks he’s French, a puddle of ketchup shaped like Elvis and something called, “Chicken Soup for the Kidnapper’s Soul.”

While the coloring contest sounded like fun, Wensink added a little excitement by offering an autographed stack of his favorite books from 2009 to the winner.

Fool- By Christopher Moore
Tales Designed to Thrizzle – by Michael Kupperman
AM/PM – By Amelia Gray
Help! A Bear is Eating Me! – By Mykle Hansen

The contest ends December 14. So, by all means, visit Patrick's website below, and enter the contest. Those free books could be yours. Somebody's got to win, might as well be you.

For all the details visit

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Push by Sapphire

I first became aware of this book after hearing all the buzz about the movie that was made from it. The movie stars Mo'Nique and Mariah Carey and I saw a trailer from it that looked very interesting, and it got me interested in reading the book.

The book is a much anticipated first novel told from the point of view of an obese and illiterate 16 year old called Claireece "Precious" Jones. She lives in Harlem and is pregnant by her father (for the second time). She suffers from constant abuse both physical and mental from her mother. Her first child is called "Mongo"--short for Mongoloid--because it has Down's syndrome. This child is being taken care of by Precious's grandmother. When she becomes pregnant for the second time, she is suspended from school, but she does manage to get into an alternative school and it is here that she experiences confidence and hope for the first time, as she learns to read, starts writing in a journal, and even experiences something that has been missing from her life up till this point--love.

The graphic details in the book are very disturbing and the language is violent and vulgar. So this book will undoubtedly not be everybody's cup of tea. But it has compassion and poetic phrasing that makes your heart break for this fictional character, who does represent what some people unfortunately live.

The poem below is by Langston Hughes. Precious copies it into her journal as a tribute to him, and it does reflect her own life, as well as the underlying philosophy of the book:

Mother to Son

Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So, boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps.
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now—
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

The author, Sapphire (born Ramona Lofton), is a performance poet. She wrote, performed and eventually published her poetry during the height of the Slam Poetry movement in New York. She took the name Sapphire because of its association at one time in African-American culture with the image of a "belligerent black woman" and because she could picture the name on a book cover more than her birth name.

The book is painful and relentless, but has been called "Dickensian" and inspirational and will surely garner a large following.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

I know, I know, I'm behind because I've just now finished reading New Moon. Normally I would have zipped right through a series like this. But since I saw the movie Twilight before reading the book, I thought for the remaining books in the series I would just read each right before the movie was released.

In New Moon, Bella is approaching her 18th birthday. She and Edward attend a party at the Cullen's mansion, where a minor papercut Bella receives in opening one of her gifts turns the party into a disaster and leads Edward to reconfirm a decision he has made that Bella does not belong in his world. To protect her, he leaves her. His leaving, sends Bella into a deep depression/tailspin, from which she barely survives...and she manages to pull out of it only with the help of her friend Jacob Black. He is the person who will always be there for her. Jacob has changed in a lot of ways from the first book. He has gotten a lot bigger and stronger. His physicallity comes across loud and clear in New Moon. And as they spend more and more time together, the heat starts building between the two of them. Bella is already in love with a vampire, and then she finds out that Jacob has a secret too.

New Moon is a more complicated book than Twilight was. Most of this second book concentrates on Bella and Jacob, and Edward only puts in an appearance near the end. But what a grand appearance he does make, which is written very well in the book, and portrayed quite nicely by the two young stars of the movie (Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart). I don't want to give away too many of the details in case there is that rare somebody out there who has not read the book yet. But there are many parallels to the Romeo and Juliet saga interwoven through New Moon, and Stephenie Meyer manages to do a good job continuing the story of young love and conflicted allegiances with intensity. The film adaptation can only add to the mania for the book.

Here's the trailer for New Moon, the movie.

I'll see you there.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Amazing Rare Things: the art of natural history in the age of discovery by David Attenborough, Susan Owens, Martin Clayton and Rea Alexandratos

Leonardo da Vinci observed that "The eye is the chief means whereby the understanding may most fully and abundantly appreciate the infinite works of nature." This book is a feast for the eyes and a real treat to anyone who is interested in natural history. David Attenborough is one of the pioneers of the nature documentary and this publication is the result of a collaboration between the Royal Collection and Sir David, who assisted the curators of the Collection in their choice of work for the exhibition. He also wrote the introductory essay and detailed comments on many of the works that were included.

The book contains 87 watercolors that date from a 250 year period between the late fifteenth and early eighteenth centuries, and 160 full color illustrations. The artwork is breathtakingly beautiful and perfectly captures the profound joy that all feel who observe the natural world with devotion and intensity.

This is a book you will want to curl up in a chair and linger over. It is a lovely history of the human desire to illustrate the natural world.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Happy National Bookstore Day!

Publishers Weekly has designated November 7, 2009, as National Bookstore Day--A day devoted to celebrating bookselling and the vibrant culture of bookstores.

One of my favorite places to go (besides a library) is a bookstore. I have always loved hanging out there. When I lived in the Chicago area, and worked at the U of C (in the Hyde Park area), there was a used bookstore on every other corner. It was my favorite lunch-time activity, to browse the used bookstores. I could always find a treasure there.

When I moved here to Kentucky, I was surprised that there were no bookstores in the town I lived in. The closest one was 27 miles away. That took some getting used to for me. So I'm glad to see Publishers Weekly giving the thumbs up to the culture of bookstores. I know that bookstores have had a hard time lately with the advent of e-books and the growth of on-line super stores like Amazon. I do think it's fitting to ponder the role that bookstores play in our society. So stop in to a local book shop and have a look around. You may like what you see.
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