Monday, January 31, 2011

Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever make it through all the books I want to read

Survey of book buying behavior

Some of the conclusions from this recent survey are:

  • A "robust, hybrid (print and e-book) market will endure for many years."
  • Predictions of 50% e-book penetration by 2014 are "highly inflated and ignore the persistence of consumer preferences for print."
  • Predictions for the demise of 90% of bricks-and-mortar bookstores within 10 years are "grossly misleading."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

And the Oscar Goes to...Books

According to Shelf Awareness, Four of the 10 best picture nominations for this year's Academy Awards, which will be presented February 27, are based on books. Adaptation has once again proven to be an Oscar-pleasing formula in the major categories:

The Social Network, based on The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal by Ben Mezrich, was nominated for best picture, best director (David Fincher), best actor (Jesse Eisenberg) and best adapted screenplay (Aaron Sorkin).

127 Hours, based on Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston, was nominated for best picture, best actor (James Franco) and best adapted screenplay (Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy).

True Grit, based on the novel by Charles Portis, was nominated for best picture, best director (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen), best actor (Jeff Bridges), best supporting actress (Hailee Steinfeld) and best adapted screenplay (the Coen brothers).

Winter's Bone, based on the novel by Daniel Woodrell, was nominated for best picture, best supporting actor (John Hawkes), best actress (Jennifer Lawrence) and best adapted screenplay (Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini).

What to do with your books after the Internet Apocalypse

Okay.  If this particular internet apocalypse occurs, I hope it's after I'm long gone.

"Don’t you eva interrupt me while I’m reading a book!"

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hypothetical iPod of literature's most interesting characters

Wanted to share this from Flavorwire.  If you've ever wondered what your favorite literary character might be listening to, here's the iPod list for Ender Wiggin, a fictional character from Orson Scott Card's science fiction story Ender's Game.  There is also a link at the end of this page to access Harry Potter's iPod list.  I can't wait to see Holden Caulfield's.

Friday, January 21, 2011

202nd Anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe's birth

Mental Floss featured  5 Things you Didn't Know About Edgar Allan Poe , which included this delightful little video of Humpty Dumpty in the Style of Edgar Allan Poe.  I treasure my "Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe", and it occupies a prominent spot on my bookshelf.  He was such a wonderful writer, with such a tragic background.  Check it out.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Out with the Old, In With the New 'Young Hip Librarians'

Okay, I just had to share this with you good folks.  There is a group of young librarians out there who are busting stereotypes of the "typical librarian"--you know, the older lady with the bun and glasses who's shushing finger is always at the ready.  And I think that's great...I really do.  And I get the fact that younger people are more apt to ask for help from those that look more like them.  But the bottom line that you should care about is to have a librarian who knows her job, knows the culture, knows the hot book titles, and is passionate about that knowledge and sharing it.  I don't fit into the "young" category (though I've always dressed a little bit different than some), but I do think I fit into the latter category.  So, do I hear a shout out for the older hip librarians? Or do I have to dye my hair orange or buy a pair of boots, or...dare I say it...get a tattoo? 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Got No Friend Anyhow by Peggy Ehrhart

Peggy Ehrhart is a former college English professor who plays blues guitar and writes mysteries.  She has won awards for her fiction and belongs to the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.  Her first book in the Maxx Maxwell mystery series was "Sweet Man Gone", which I reviewed earlier.  This one is the second installment in that series. 

Maxx Maxwell's group, Maximum Blues, has produced a CD through an outfit called Prowling Rooster Records.  But just as the CD is nearly finished, the producer Rick Schneider (who happens to be Maxx's current love interest), disappears.  At first, it looks like he's gotten back together with an old girlfriend, singer-songwriter Brenda Honeycut. When Maxx searches for the CD in Rick's studio, she finds a framed album cover that has been knocked from the wall possibly in a scuffle, and something that really frightens her:  a pool of dried blood.  She manages to make it back to her apartment with the framed album cover (and with a rooster in tow that was the namesake for Prowling Rooster records), but the next day she winds up identifying Rick's body at the morgue.

   The cops believe Rick was pirating CDs and was murdered in a dispute over territory.  Believing that Rick could never do such a thing, Maxx is determined to find out the truth and clear his name by finding his real killer.  Her quest leads her to seek out several of Rick's business partners and she uncovers a secret that Rick had kept hidden from her.  She even manages to cross paths again with Sandy, the womanizing guitar player who broke her heart in the first book, who seems intent on winning her back.

I really enjoy this series of books, as books and music are my  two main passions in life.  Maxx, Ehrhart's main character, is an amateur sleuth with a bluesy wardrobe and a tender but tough attitude.  Her eccentric band mates and the descriptions of the musical scenes are entertaining and move the story pleasantly along. Ehrhart manages to keep readers guessing as the pages turn, with suspicion pointing towards several different characters.   This is a fast, easy, and pleasant read.  I look forward to reading more tales of Maxx Maxwell from the capable Ms. Ehrhart.     

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Libraries of the rich and famous

Oprah's Library

Ten photos of famous book shelves, from Woody Allen to Oprah.  Even celebrities like to curl up with a good book.

Waxing Poetic

Artist Veronika Teuber transforms books into sculpture by coating them in beeswax.  Wall Street Journal

This artist articulates beautifully the many reasons to choose a physical book over any electronic version.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Shine by Mark Heinz

One of the nice things about belonging to a book club is that you wind up reading some good books that you might not necessarily have picked up on your own.  One of the nice things about reviewing books on a book blog is that authors will send you their new books for review, and you'll find something enjoyable that you might not have been aware of otherwise.

Such is the case with Shine, Mark Heinz's new novel.  I first became aware of it by reading a quote about it Mark had made that was part of the bookclub@KET newsletter.  When Mark asked if I'd like to review it, I took him up on it.

The book has received some good reviews in the Louisville Courier Journal and the Bowling Green Daily News, and after reading it I can see why.  It is a very well written novel set in south central Kentucky where the author resides.

Joe Bass is a decent, respectable, middle class working man whose main recreation seems to be fishing.  His life is changed profoundly by a chance meeting with an old moonshiner, Edgar Johnson, who invites Joe to fish in his private lake.  The old man's lake is a fisherman's dream, full of fish to be had at the drop of a line, and a friendship develops between these two men despite their vastly different life experiences and backgrounds.

As Joe starts to get to know Edgar, he is at first offended by the way his in-laws judge the old man so harshly and warn him to keep his distance from the old reprobate.  But over time, he begins to see that Edgar has been less than truthful with him, that his lifetime habit of brewing and consuming moonshine has literally destroyed the old man from the inside out, and he starts to realize that Edgar's dysfunctional and manipulative family are trying to use him and his affection for the old man.

When Edgar becomes sick with cancer, Joe transports him to the VA hospital in Nashville and continues to try to be his friend despite clashing with the old man's drug addled daughter and sexually promiscuous granddaughter who steals Edgar's pain medication and falsely accuses Joe of trying to seduce her.

Heinz's strong characterization and ring-true dialogue as he explores this odd friendship is the strongest part of the book.  He knows these characters and their motivations and the juxtaposition of the good samaritan, Joe, and the irresponsible, abusive and leechlike family of the old man, who will not help themselves and tend to blame others for their misfortune makes this morality tale compelling reading.

This is a fine first novel, and I'm sure we'll be hearing more from Mark Heinz in the future.
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