Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas

During World War II, the government opened up a Japanese internment camp in a small Colorado town. This book is written from the viewpoint of a 13-year old girl, Rennie Stroud, who up until that point had led a fairly ordinary and predictable life. Her predictable life vanishes when she is caught between the reality of the harsh treatment these internees experience at the hands of the local townspeople who fear, are angered by, and hate the newcomers, and the sympathy and love she develops for the Japanese helpers from the camp her father employs on their own farm. When a local girl is murdered, all suspicion falls on the members of the internment camp. The final surprise of the book is who committed the murder and why. This book does a great job of capturing the good and evil that was evident during this particular historical period, both in our society, and the people who were a living part of it.

Good Advice for wannabe Writers

I so admire good writing, for after all, it's the stuff that good books are made of. In my recent Shelf Awareness (Daily Enlightenment for the Book Trade), I came across the information below and thought I would share it with you.

Inspired by Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing, the Guardian asked authors to share their personal rules for writing fiction.

Here's a sampling of the responses they received:

Margaret Atwood: "You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality."

Roddy Doyle: "Do keep a thesaurus, but in the shed at the back of the garden or behind the fridge, somewhere that demands travel or effort. Chances are the words that come into your head will do fine, e.g. 'horse,' 'ran,' 'said.' "

Geoff Dyer: "Have regrets. They are fuel. On the page they flare into desire."

Anne Enright: "The first 12 years are the worst."

Richard Ford: "Marry somebody you love and who thinks you being a writer's a good idea."

Jonathan Franzen: "When information becomes free and universally accessible, voluminous research for a novel is devalued along with it."

Neil Gaiman: (my favorite response) "Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong."

Jeanette Winterson: "Enjoy this work!"

Monday, February 22, 2010

Women Who Read are Dangerous

I love the title of this book. It was the title that originally drew me to it. But I also liked the idea of it. It offers a variety of paintings, drawings, prints, and photographs of women reading and combines them with commentary explaining the context in which the artwork was created, as well as who the reader is, their relationship with the artist, and what she is reading.

There was a time when female literacy was indeed a controversial idea and it took a long time for women to be entirely free to choose what they read. When reading for women was associated with piety or chastity, it was approved of, but some seemed to think it would make them discontent, idle or rebellious. But as Karen Joy Fowler says in her Foreword, "We women who read should take a moment, put down the book, this or any other, look around us. We are experiencing a rare period of triumph. A collection such as this one encourages the long view, reminding us that this triumph has been a long time coming--hard-fought, hard-won. We should note it, enjoy it fast before books disappear entirely, as we've been told (but do not believe) they soon will in favor of digital technologies--shoot-em-up web games, internet quests, chat rooms, weblogs, and other entertainments that haven't yet been invented."

Through it all, women have read, and continue to read. The crisis these days is that men do not. The vast majority of readers are women (more than 80% by some accounts). This is a fascinating compilation, one that manages to capture the intimacy and tranquility of reading, and should appeal to all book lovers as well as those who are interested in the depiction of women in art.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

New Joe Hill Book "Horns"

New Young Adult Book Lover Site

There is a new online reading community for teens called Teen Fire. This fledgling social network just launched with the intention of creating a space where teens can log on and interact with each other and also be exposed to published authors and Young Adult editors. Yes, technology and books can coexist and work together to reach and inspire young adults. This community seems to be growing every day. You can create your own page and customize it with photos, text, videos and apps, and stay connected with the latest news in YA literature. There is a Writers Forum, encouraging aspiring authors to express themselves, where you can post original works of fiction to be read and commented on by peers. There is a YA Book Group spot where you can become a teen reviewer and share your opinion. This site is dedicated to Young Adults who share a common passion: reading. You will have an active say in things you will be seeing on the bookshelves. Be sure to sign up, and ask your friends to do so too.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Book Cover Archive

Ever judge a book by its cover? Then this is the site for you.

Warning--allow yourself ample time to really explore this site and all its links, from the Book Cover Archive blog to Sites on Book Cover Design.

Friday, February 12, 2010

To Hell on a Fast Horse: Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, and the Epic Chase to Justice in the Old West by Mark Lee Gardner

“So richly detailed, you can almost smell the gunsmoke and the sweat of the saddles. ”-- So says Hampton Sides, author of Ghost Stories, Blood and Thunder, and other best selling works of narrative history and literary non-fiction about Mark Lee Gardner's new book about Billy the Kid and Sheriff Pat Garrett's pursuit of the Wild West's most iconic outlaw. It is also the first dual biography of both the Kid and Garrett, who together became legends of the old west. I'm really looking forward to reading this, as it is drawn from a wealth of published scholarship and voluminous primary sources to give us this fresh look at these two larger than life figures.
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