Book Review: Nineteen Eighty-Three on Bookgasm

New review of David Peace's Nineteen Eighty-Three up on Bookgasm.

Check it out!

When I die...

My fiance has told me since pretty much our first few months of dating that if he dies before me, he requires bagpipes at his funeral. Myself, I'd never given much thought to what I want to happen when I die... until now. I've finally found something that I definitively want when I die. I want this tombstone:

Ok, maybe not this tombstone - I don't want anyone robbing graves in the name of giving me what I want. But I do want a similar tombstone.

The picture above comes from another blog, Savidge Reads, whose host has recently become a tour guide at the Highgate Cemetery in London (the tombstone was found in this cemetery). Author Audrey Niffenegger also gives tours there, and the cemetery features heavily in her most recent novel, Her Fearful Symmetry (reviewed by yours truly a few months ago).

Book Doorway For the Win

From the Cheezburger Network (founders of such site as Lolcats, Fail Blog and Failbooking, among others), comes an Epic Doorway Win (originally on the Epic Win FTW site)

Um... awesome. I just hope that no books were damaged in the making of this photo.

Wheel of Time Re-Read, Part 2: A Quarterly Book Review

I started to re-read Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series in December, when I realized I had forgotten too much of the first read to start in with the new release of the twelfth book in the series: The Gathering Storm. (For details on my thoughts on the re-read, see Wheel of Time Re-Read, Part 1)

It took me a month to find the time to get through The Eye of the World, which is the first book in the series, but since then I've powered through books 2-4. I guess it took me a bit of time to get my wheels spinning, but once I did, there was no stopping me. I read books 3 and 4 (700 and 950 pages, respectively) in a week, and I've had to force myself not to immediately launch into book 5. I do, after all, have other books to read and a few reviewing responsibilities here and there.

But this wasn't meant to be a re-cap of my reading speed, it was meant to be a review of the first four books in the series (as there are 12 books thus far, I thought I'd break it up and review every few books, rather than each individually).

Jordan's series, unlike George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series, starts off fast. From chapter 2, Trollocs (something like Orcs, only with less actual thought processes) are attacked a small village in the Two Rivers. Three local boys are forced to flee their homes with the aid of only an Aes Sedai (like a sorceress, only way cooler), and her Warder (like a personal sworn guard, only better). That's actually all I can tell you without giving away the plot, and even that is too much.

Jordan leaves his readers no time for breath or thought while reading. One event picks up from the last, and when the characters go in different directions, Jordan slips smoothly into a multi-perspective account of each plotline. The main characters - I'd say about a dozen in all, although there are dozens of second- and third-tier characters - are well-developed, well-thought-out and well-written. And, again unlike Martin's Song of Ice and Fire, they are consistent. In the first four books, readers watch the characters grow and change, indeed grow along with them.

Beyond the mere storyline, Jordan has created a masterful, epic world, complete with an accurate history, a set of accepted literature, varying cultures from one area to the next (from food to speech to clothing). This world is unfolded along with the plot; the main characters have seen as little of the world as the reader, and therefore all discover its nuances along the way. As the Light battles against the Dark One, who is slowly escaping his prison in Shayol Ghul, readers are taken on a grand adventure from one end of the World to the other, across the Dragonwall, into the Aiel Waste, back to Tar Valon, down to Tanchico... and so on.

Sound unfamiliar? It is now. But by the end of book 2, you will recognize an Aes Sedai by her ageless features, you will know a Seanchan for their blurred speech, and you will see a Taraboner for her braided hair and veiled face. You will know an Aiel set to kill by his black-veiled face, and can tell an Andorman (or woman) by his or her red-gold hair.

You see? Jordan is a genius of world creation. However much time he spent developing the world for this series, it pays off.

Bottom line: I don't profess to have read the scope of fantasy literature, but I do agree whole-heartedly with the New York Times blurb printed on the front cover of each of these books: "Jordan has come to dominate the world that Tolkien began to reveal."

Aren't Very New After All (Quote of the Day)

Ever have that "aha!" moment while reading? Like someone else has voiced what you have always thought somewhere in the back of your mind? Turns out even that reaction isn't very new after all, because Lincoln felt it too:
"Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren't very new after all." -Abraham Lincoln
What do you think? Does this happen to you? Good thing or bad thing?

Personally, I love finding my own thoughts in another's writing. I think this is one of the things that keeps reading - a solitary activity - from being a lonely activity. I'm drawn to Mark Helprin's novels for several reasons, but this is definitely one of them. Sometimes it's almost eerie to see your thoughts on a page written by a total stranger...

Great Bookcase Friday (#2)

A few weeks ago, I posted some pictures of great bookcases from across the web. I've since come across some more great bookcases, so to continue the previous post, here are some more wonderful ways to store your books. Happy Weekend!

This is sort of what my shelves look like now, with books crammed in at every angle. At least here it looks intentional...

Ok, this doesn't actually look like it would be comfortable. At all. I much prefer my cozy armchair. That being said, it's still pretty cool. I wonder if it only comes in hot pink?

For the lover of punctuation in all of us!

"Jersey Shore" Book to Hit Shelves in July... What Will They Think of Next?

Well, we all knew that television - particularly reality television - had gone to the shitter when MTV aired its first episode of "Jersey Shore." It only got worse as the show gained popularity, sparked 'controversies' and created quasi-celebrities of the Jersey Shore house residents.

To my eternal shame, I have seen every episode of Jersey Shore. While I'm confessing, I might as well announce that I also watch Tool Academy and the Real Housewives of New York City. What? Shocked, you are? Well I can see that - my television choices don't always jive with my stance on reading choices. But to me, they are separate worlds: television is for mindless entertainment, books are for intelligent, thoughtful entertainment. [The bookworm ducks under her desk as the film and television gurus start throwing books at her.]

Sadly, the line between my self-imposed categorization is becoming more and more blurred. Case in point: St. Martin's has just landed a deal for a Jersey Shore book, written (these people can write!?) by none other than J-Woww and Ronnie. The two started dating while in the Jersey Shore house, and the book is thus named Never Fall in Love at the Jersey Shore. The title, however, is misleading, as the book will have nothing to do with not falling in love at the Shore. According to the PW announcement, J-Woww and Ronnie will "two explain how to balance work, love, and partying, while properly taking care of hair, nails, and skin -- as well as everything else that goes into living an authentic Jersey Shore lifestyle."

Why anyone would want a how-to guide on a Jersey Shore lifestyle is beyond me. Entertainment Weekly hit the nail on the head with their sarcastic announcement: "That’s right, folks! You too can be a lowest common denominator!" I just hope they remember to cover GTL (Gym. Tan. Laundry.).

I have a sinking feeling that the book will be a hit, flying off the shelves just in time for the premiere of season 2 of the show... which, naturally, will take place in Miami... What is the world coming to?

Personal Library Kit

When I finish a good book, I am generally struck with an intense desire to share this book with others that I know will enjoy it as well. As such, the majority of the books left on my shelf remain unread, as those that I have read are almost immediately passed on to another reader. Sadly, though, these books have a tendency to remain away from their shelves.

Maybe I should think of this as a good thing - after all, the piles of books around my nightstand and on the floor by my shelf are becoming a danger to my health. But I tend to miss those books I've read, especially when I want to turn back into them. As such, I've begun writing my name in my books (yes, I write in my books... that's enough of a discussion for a separate post, though). I also write the month and year I read the book, just for posterity's sake.

I'm sure you are all wondering where I'm going with this rambling discourse on my booklending habits... but I promise, I do have a point. The point is I have found cold, hard evidence that I am not alone in this. There are others who pass their books along to other readers and would like to one day get them back. For people like us, there is The Personal Library Kit. It really does exist. Really. And it comes with a date stamp, and adhesive pockets, and lending cards, and a "genuine mini library pencil."

Thanks to my amazing roommate, I even own one such kit, and now I'm off to put some stamps on some cards in some books. Or rather, I'm off to ponder which books warrant the precious 20 cards...

Wheel of Time Re-Read, Part 1: Remembering, Recalling, Rereading

I have a sneaking suspicion that the topic of re-reading is about to come to the forefront of this blog as I embark once again on the epic journey of reading Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time Series.

To give a little background to those unfamiliar with this fantastic (no pun intended) series:

The Wheel of Time currently stands at 12 books, starting with The Eye of the World. The 12th book, The Gathering Storm, is described by the publisher, Tor, as "the first of three novels that will make up A Memory of Light," designed to keep the series within Jordan's original guarantee that it would be 12 books and no more. Sadly, Jordan himself passed away before he could complete the series, but did leave detailed notes for the ending. With his wife editing the final manuscript (as she did all the other books in the series), The Gathering Storm (released Nov 2009) was written by fantasy author Branden Sanderson. With each book pulling tome rank, weighing in at around 700 pages, I'm looking at over 8,400 pages of delicious, epic, classic fantasy reading.

I'm now well into the third book (The Dragon Reborn, pictured below) of the series re-read, and so far have mixed feelings. I love the series just as much the second time around, if not more so, as I can catch important details that I missed the first time and tie events together with what I know will come in later volumes. I've spent so much time with these characters that at times I find myself wishing I could scream into the book "NO! DON'T DO THAT! TRUST ME, I KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF YOU DO!"

As I re-read, this familiarity with the characters, and with the overall development of the plot, is comforting. I am taking this journey with them as an omniscient follower, finding out where it will lead, each new chapter bringing back vague recollections of what is to come.

But I am simultaneously astounded - yes, astounded - at how much of the books I have forgotten. I read the series for the first time three years ago, so it's not as though it's been decades. The general storyline is there in my head, but the individual actions of each character are gone from my memory, and re-reading this series is not like hearing a familiar voice repeating words in my head (which is what happens when I re-read Harry Potter... but then I've read those dozens of times).

It is not necessarily a bad thing, this overlapping knowledge and troubling lack of knowledge. I know the characters, and I remember who lives, who dies, and the general arch of the plot. Forgetting the details - who, precisely, is batting for the other team, for example - allows me to relive some of the suspense of my first read. At the same time, it alleviating enough of the tension to give me a chance to slow down through read #2, taking time to enjoy the masterful details of Jordan's near-perfect fantasy world creation without sweating bullets over who will live to see the next chapter.

As I go forward, some of this is strict remembering (in that I remember exactly what I am reading, almost word-for-word), some is recalling (as memories are stirred by events in the story) and still other parts are true re-read (as I read them much as I did the first time around).

What about you? Do you remember details of past reads, or just have general impressions of the stories? Do you enjoy re-reading, or is it tediously dull to you (as I've heard some say)?

Refuge from the Miseries of Life (Quote of the Day)

Sorry for disappearing over the weekend - I meant to schedule some posts to go up but didn't get a chance to do so before heading home to visit my mom for the weekend.

So now I'm catching up and readying for the week and as I am a bit swamped with work and life, and also fighting off allergies, I'm posting my usual Sunday Quote a day later... but I'm sure you'll all forgive me, right?
"To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life." -W. Somerset Maugham
I'd like to know which miseries he isn't including in this reading refuge... thoughts? Agree with him? Disagree?

Book Trailers?

I've been noticing more and more book trailers popping up around the bookworld interwebs. At first, these were novel concepts and therefore pretty intriguing - I even posted the trailer for Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters a few months ago.

But as they become more and more popular, I'm beginning to wonder whether or not I truly like them as a marketing tool, whether they are effective as a marketing tool, or if they are just more noise to sift through in trying to decide which books to read. What it comes down to, I think, is that book trailers can often tell me nothing more than a well-written book synopsis/summary/back cover blurb.

More than this, though, is the fact that the message that these trailers do convey is being sent via a medium I would not choose. I am a bookworm, through and through, and am much more likely to identify with a written blurb or preview of a book rather than an acted-out version.

There are exceptions to this, of course, as not all book trailers are merely acted-out scenes from the book. There is Libba Bray's book trailer for Going Bovine, in which the author herself dresses up as a cow and wanders around New York City. I loved both the book and the trailer. Bray clearly has a sense of humor.

There is another kind of book trailer I've found particularly intriguing recently, and that is one for books that go beyond a normal book blurb. Two in particular come to mind: ABC3D and War in the Pacific. Sure, the blurb could say "A book of the alphabet in which the letters come to life and pop off the page," and "A history of the war in the Pacific complete with facsimile documents of primary sources," but those are boring. Instead, look what a book trailer can do for books such as these, where a cover image and a blurb just aren't going to suffice in explaining the true value of the book:

War in the Pacific (a really, really cool book, I say shamelessly as one who has seen it and worked with it in person)

ABC Pop-up Book (with over 1.5 MILLION views!)

Book Cover Design (in less than two minutes!)

I know, I know. We've all heard it before: don't judge a book by its cover. But realistically, we all do it. Don't you ever see a spectacular cover design and think you just have to have that book for your shelf? And if we don't judge our books by their covers, why do design teams spend so long working and re-working them, and why is the debate of what e-book "covers" will look like so heated?

Given this, I will continue with the assumption that, like it or not, we all judge books by their covers. With this in mind, what goes in to the making of a good book cover? Luckily, Lauren Panepinto, creative designer for Orbit books, has all of those outside of a publisher's design team a glimpse into this fascinating process:

The covers for this series are certainly eye-catching:

What I find even more interesting than the final covers, though, are those that didn't make it onto the jacket. I know in my company, we often go through 3 or 4 main concepts before a book before settling on a final version to be tweaked and edited as necessary... but I can't give everything away here. If you'd like to see the original design concept, read more from the designer and get even more insight into book design, visit the original posting of this material at the Design: Related blog. Trust me, if you had the two minutes to give to the video above, it will be worth a few more to read the whole article!

Book Review: The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares

I picked up a copy of The Invention of Morel, by Adolfo Bioy Casares, at a sales conference for work of all places. I had never heard of Casares, but with a prologue from a name like Borges, I was certainly intrigued.

It turns out that Borges was actually Casares mentor (so close that the original cover of the book was actually drawn by Borges' sister), and that Casares works of magical realism were (and are) revered by other well-known South American authors, including Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who is one of my favorite authors of all time. If you haven't heard me babble on about Marquez yet... maybe it's time for a Marquez post.

But I digress. The Invention of Morel is actually Casares' seventh book, but it was the one that he used to mark the beginning of his writing career. And upon reading this catchy NYRB edition, I can see why.

The story is told as the journal of an unnamed fugitive narrator, who has fled his homeland for reasons we are never entirely given. When he hears of a small island rumored to be the cause of a great disease, he ventures there to seek safety from his persecutors. Desperate, ailing, lonely and confused, he arrives on the island and seeks refuge in what is called "the museum." Resigned to his eternal solitude, he sets finding food, shelter, and the like... until strangers begin to appear at the museum and he flees.

Spring is in the air!

Spring is in the air, is it not? It might not be warm and sunny all the time, but that desperate, sinking wintry chill has disappeared and what cold is left is the bright, crisp chill of spring. Glorious spring!

To celebrate, the Guardian has put together a little spring literature quiz. I'll readily admit that my reading of great poets such as Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats and Heaney is limited, and I didn't do as well as I wish I had. It was fun, though.

How do you stack up? Test your Spring Lit knowledge!

America's National Pastime (Quote of the Day)

This week's quote of the day comes from an issue of Shelf Awareness earlier in the week. In reference to nine-year-old Molly McArdle, daughter of Andy Weiner (of Abrams):

"Molly was looking at my DVD box of Ken Burns's Baseball. She looked at the back and said, 'This is wrong.' I asked her what was wrong, and she said, 'It says that baseball is America's national pastime. America's national pastime is reading.' "

I hope my kids think like this one day.

Non-required Reading

About two weeks ago, The Chronicle posted 0ne of the more interesting best-seller lists I've seen recently: those books that sell well in college bookstores (not textbooks, but books from the "regular" shelves). Top-rated on the list is The Lovely Bones.

I realize this list is imperfect because not all students do their book shopping at the school bookstore. NYU's bookstore had a spectacular selection of "regular" books, and as a staff member, I got 20% off... and I still rarely bought anything but NYU hoodies there. But it's interesting to see that there is enough interest in non-required books to generate such a list in the first place.

When I was in undergrad, my for-pleasure reading dropped significantly. I told myself it was because I had so much required reading to get through that by the time I was finished, I wanted to do anything but stare at more pages of words. Realistically, though, I didn't often finish my required reading (I hope none of my professors read this blog). Instead, I felt like any reading time had to be committed to my required reading - which was pretty much an interminable stack - and therefore ended up watching a lot more crappy television than I thought possible while reading barely a book a month. And that was in a good semester.

I struggle a bit with the same phenomenon now, feeling as though I should get through my work reading (whether for the office or for a review) before diving into my for-pleasure reading. I like to think that I have gotten much, much better about carving out uninterrupted reading time, however. Even so, my reading pales in comparison to some other book bloggers, whose monthly round-ups of titles number in the 20+ range.

Anyone else have the same experience? I know that almost all the booklovers I talk to say they struggle with finding enough time to read all the books they'd like to read, but how do you find to read those books you pick up? How many do you manage to read in an average month? Does school/work reading get in the way?

Great Building of Books Friday

Man, I wish I had been in Lisboa in 2006. Why, you ask?

This is why:

Yes, that is an octagonal building made of books. Created by Slovakian artist Matej Kren, the structure was installed in the Modern Art Center in Lisboa in 2006 and dismantled six months later. According to the original Inhabitat article where I first saw this posting (link courtesy of Shelf Awareness, again), it is a "symmetrical, enclosed room of stacked literature."

The books used were all borrowed for the installation and returned to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation when it was taken down. Now that's reduce, reuse and recycle.

Yann Martel is a Genius of Sorts...

... and now I really must read Life of Pi. Just ask President Obama:

This note was posted on Yann Martel's blog after he received it directly from the White House. But as cool as the note is (and as much as it inspires me to read Life of Pi - yes, I am that easily swayed in my reading choices, which change on a daily basis), the blog is actually completely unrelated to President Obama.

Instead, Martel's blog focuses on Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Martel is a Canadian author). He explains the mission of the blog:

“The Prime Minister did not speak during our brief tribute, certainly not. I don’t think he even looked up. The snarling business of Question Period having just ended, he was shuffling papers. I tried to bring him close to me with my eyes.Who is this man? What makes him tick? No doubt he is busy. No doubt he is deluded by that busyness. No doubt being Prime Minister fills his entire consideration and froths his sense of busied importance to the very brim. And no doubt he sounds and governs like one who cares little for the arts.But he must have moments of stillness. And so this is what I propose to do: not to educate—that would be arrogant, less than that—to make suggestions to his stillness.

For as long as Stephen Harper is Prime Minister of Canada, I vow to send him every two weeks, mailed on a Monday, a book that has been known to expand stillness. That book will be inscribed and will be accompanied by a letter I will have written. I will faithfully report on every new book, every inscription, every letter, and any response I might get from the Prime Minister, on this website.”

It's a pretty interesting project, and I've enjoyed flipping through the books chosen thus far (Martel is on book selection #76). Each selection is posted on the blog, along with the inscription in the book and the letter to the PM written by Martel for each title. Those responses received by Martel (totaling a mere 5, all written by assistants and secretaries of some office or another) are also listed.

I have to admit, I've only read some of the selections, and of those, several were books I absolutely hated (Larry McMurtry's Books: A Memoir, for one), but there is nothing to suggest that all of the books are perfect, just that all of the books encourage stillness, and therefore contemplation. Isn't that something we could all do with a bit more of?

The Help Proves Its Worth

According to Monday's issue of Shelf Awareness, has recently reported that Kathryn Stockett's break-out hit has been optioned for film. The movie will be done by Dreamworks, and written and directed by Stockett's long-time friend Tate Taylor. According to one of the comments on the original article (which I haven't been able to verify), Taylor's rights to the film adaptation expired soon after the book became widely popular, and in a very classy move, the author renewed the rights to her friend. If it's true, then good move Stockett.

The Help is currently ranked #2 on Amazon, and has been on the NY Times bestseller list for 48 weeks (the NYT book review of the book called it "button-pushing, soon to be wildly popular novel about black domestic servants working in white Southern households in the early 1960s, one woman works especially tirelessly"). It was also featured on the Today show's "10 must-read books for spring."

This is the first book published by Amy Einhorn books, which launched its first list in February 2009. Other titles from the publisher's first lists include The Postmistress, Kingdom of Ohio, an The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, all of which have garnered significant amounts of blog/book club/review outlet attention. Is there something special about this new publisher? What is Amy Einhorn doing so... right? Any theories? Any other Amy Einhorn books worth noting? This might prove fodder for a further post...

Macmillan's John Sargent Creates a Blog

For those of you following the Amazon-Macmillan price wars, or the least bit interested in e-books and e-book pricing, I highly recommend that you check out the new blog created by Macmillan CEO John Sargent. He presents his blogging efforts thusly:

After the events of the past several weeks, I have been in touch with many of you. It has become clear to me that there is far too little accurate information available in this time of unprecedented change. The issues we all face together are complex, and no news story or 140-character snippet can adequately address them. Therefore, I propose to write you occasionally, when I get a sense that there is a need for direct information.

Books to the Sky! (Quote of the Day)

Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky.
My pile of books
Are a mile high.
How I love them!
How I need them!
I'll have a long beard
By the time I read them.
-Arnold Lobel
I didn't know who Arnold Lobel was, so of course (being the librarian I want to be), I went and looked him up. Turns out he is none other than the author that brought us such famous classic books as The Frog and Toad series. Anyone else remember these?

Even had he not been a successful author and winner of the Caldecott medal, I would respect him for his recognition of our desire to collect books even when we know we cannot possibly read them all.

Great Bookcase Friday

I don't know about the rest of you, but for me, my books are as much for reading as for decorating. Here's a brief overview of my favorite bookshelves from around the world wide web. I, for one, am setting a new personal life goal: to one day have a ceiling and/or staircase bookshelf:

(This one makes me a little dizzy, but it's cool. I wish it was real though - if you look closely it looks like it's just a digitally-edited photo. The books are bent...)

That's patriotism.

New life goal: books on the ceiling. Talk about optimal use of space.

I can't tell if these are indents into the wall, or if they stick out, but I'm ok with it either way.

Dude. Book staircase... 'nough said.
Bwaaa ha ha. PACMAN.

Happy Friday!

Giveaway Winners: Black Hills Audiobook

Congratulations to the three winners of the Black Hills audiobook: Anne-Marie T., Jack of Trades and Don'tknowmuchaboutbiology. These winners were selected using

I've sent all three winners a confirmation email; please email me your mailing address.

Thanks again to Hachette for providing the copies of the audiobook.

Happy National Grammar Day!

It's National Grammar day - how on earth did I miss this?? For those of you who somehow missed the memo: I love grammar. Love it. I like things to be grammatically correct, I like to correct grammatical mistakes, I like having my grammar corrected, and I like talking about grammar things. Yes, I am that much of a nerd.

The official slogan for the holiday (from the National Grammar Day website):
Language is something to be celebrated, and March 4 is the perfect day to do it. It's not only a date, it's an imperative: March forth on March 4 to speak well, write well, and help others do the same!
Do you love grammar too? Check out this grammar-tastic stuff:

Awesome grammar video:

Fabulous School of Rock t-shirts (you all remember Schoolhouse Rock, right?: "Conjunction junction, what's your function? / Hooking up phrases and words and clauses...")

Other great grammar garb:

And some great sites for seeing all those other people just as obsessed with comma placement and the like:

Grammar Girl's Flickr Site

The Grammar Devotional: A Daily Calendar

The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks

And last, but certainly not least, I whole-heartedly recommend Lynne Truss' book: Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (and the New Yorker's fun review of it).

Enjoy, all you grammarphobes. March forth!

Last Day to Enter the Black Hills Giveaway!

Just a reminder that the giveaway for one of three copies of the Black Hills audiobook is TODAY! Contest closes at 11:59 PM.

Black Hills is published by Reagan Arthur books, part of Little, Brown, part of Hachette. This is a somewhat celebration of the Reagan Arthur Books Challenge, as well as my first blog giveaway.

Contest is open to blog followers (new or existing). You can follow on the Google friend section of the sidebar, or by subscribing to the RSS feed (also linked in the sidebar). Just leave a comment on the original post to enter.

For an extra chance to win, link to this giveaway on Twitter, Facebook or your blog (and be sure to send me the link).

Please remember to leave an email address in your comment so I can contact you if you are a winner. I will be contacting the three winners tomorrow for mailing addresses.

Good luck!

Alice in Wonderland In Theaters Friday

Friday is a big day in my little world:
  • the fiance's birthday (present: check. dinner reservations: hmm...)
  • the day that I will announce the winners of the Black Hills audiobook (if you haven't entered yet, go do it now!)
  • the theater release of Alice in Wonderland!
This promises to be no ordinary movie release; this is Tim Burton directing material that seems to have been written with a director like Burton in mind (yes, yes, I know Carroll wrote it long before Burton came along... but don't the two seem to go together somehow?). A quick fact about the movie: Lindsay Lohan lobbied for the role of Alice.

In honor of the release of Alice in Wonderland, I've done a quick round-up of some key Alice in Wonderland titles that I've been dying to read. I've decided that before picking these up, though, I'll be re-reading Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass on my iPod via the Classics app - expect a follow-up post on the joys and difficulties of e-reading.


The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition - After a quick cameo on Lost last week (which I didn't actually see, but read about on Galleycat), this title's sales spiked. According to the Media Bistro article, it was ranked 314th in books this week, and 1st in the history & criticism category. The book presents the full text of both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, as well as "The Wasp in the Wing" (a suppressed chapter of Through the Looking Glass). All of the text is annotated with commentary exploring Carroll's sources, allusions, mathematical puzzles, etc.

Alice I Have Been is a relatively new release from Delacorte, a historical novel based on the relationship between Alice Liddell (the basis for Alice) and Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll). This one has been popping up in promotion a lot recently, and according to Amazon, is currently #365 in books.

The Looking Glass Wars is the first in a trilogy of modern fiction based on the story of Alice. The main character, Alyss Heart, has fled her homeland and found herself in Victorian England, where she is adopted by the Lidells and re-named Alice Lidell. A friend, Charles Dodgson, tells Alice her real story, which of course no one believes... until the royal bodyguard Hatter Madigan crashes Alice's wedding, and it's pretty much all downhill from there. There are two further volumes in this series: Seeing Redd (vol. 2) and Archenemy (vol. 3). You can see reviews of these titles on Bookgasm - Vol 1 & 2 together, and the new Vol 3 review (and interview with the author).

The Mystery of Lewis Carroll aims to unravel the veil of rumors and mystery that surrounds the life of the author of Alice in Wonderland. Through a variety of rare and first-hand sources, author Jenny Woolf places Carroll in the realm of Victorian England. There is also a review of this one up on Bookgasm, if you're interested.

So, it seems I have to get some reading done - both e-reading and book reading. If anyone has read any of the above, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Did I miss any must-read Alice titles? Anyone else excited for the movie release?

NY Times Revisits E-Book Pricing

I know, I know, I go on and on about e-book pricing. But for the publishing industry (which in this case I use to incorporate the broader world of authors, writers, marketers, bookstores, etc), e-books are poised in a precarious position: they can make the industry, attracting new readers via new reading platforms, or break the industry, turning consumers away from print books in favor of the easier-to-access and cheaper e-books.

The NY Times posted a really useful article on Sunday regarding the pricing of e-books, complete with an analysis of a publisher's costs for the production, sale, distribution, and marketing of each book (not to mention overhead costs like salaries of people like me!). They extended this analysis into both print books and e-books, and actually, the profit margins are slightly surprising...

But I ramble. I can't summarize the article as well as you could just read it yourselves: NYTimes - Math of Publishing Meets the E-Book

Book Review: Tails of Wonder and Imagination on Bookgasm

Today on Bookgasm, I've reviewed Tails of Wonder and Imagination, an anthology of - you'll never guess - cat stories. The collection is from Night Shade Books, who publish sci-fi, fantasy and horror story anthologies.

Sound a bit strange? It is. But with fabulous authors and interesting stories (and a loose adaption of what qualifies as a "cat story"), it's worth checking out. Read the full review on Bookgasm.

The Little Prince, A Movie

Last week, Variety reported that a French film duo will tackle a film production of The Little Prince.

Aton Soumache and Dimitri Rassam will be creating a "stereoscopic 3D animated feature adaptation" of Antione de Saint-Exupery's classic work. According to the article, the pair are set to spend nearly $61 million.

The duo hope to follow the book very closely, focusing on the friendship between a downed pilot and a boy with magic powers. To keep the story as accurate as possible, Saint-Exupery's great-nephew, Olivier d'Agay, has joined the project to advice the producers.