Thursday, March 28, 2013

Book News: A Literary Merger

I still haven't quite decided how I feel about this news, especially since it was just broken today. It may be my biggest dream come true or my darkest nightmare come to life. It's hard to say right now, seeing as I don't know how everything is going to play out and what may develop. But here is what I know:

Two of the most popular book websites online are getting married.

From Publisher's Weekly
Amazon has acquired, a Web site featuring user-generated reviews of books. The purchase comes amid mounting rumors that Goodreads, which CEO Otis Chandler launched in 2007, might start selling books directly from its site. 
Goodreads, which is one of the most popular among a raft of sites created as a book recommendation engine--members are directed to titles by seeing what their friends are reading, or have recommended--does not currently sell any books, but many in the industry saw it as an ideal sales outlet.
The details of the sale were not disclosed, neither were the details of what will happen to Goodreads' format in the long-term, though it was mentioned that Goodreads would remain independently controlled. What I will admit is exciting about the merger is that Amazon's lists of self-published and international books will be more readily available to Goodreads users.
By joining the Amazon family, the Goodreads team will be able to invest more in the things that our members care about. We’ll also be working together on inventing new services for readers and authors. As part of this, we’ll be increasing the size of our team over time, and will be able to add lots of great new features that members and librarians will be excited about!
I can’t make this clear enough – we plan to continue growing Goodreads and investing in making it a great community for librarians, and everyone else.
We said in our blog post that our team gets out of bed every day motivated by the belief that the right book in the right hands can change the world. Now Goodreads can help make that happen in an even bigger and more meaningful way as part of the Amazon family. 
Like I said, I'm not sure how to feel about this union, but I guess I'll have to live with it one way or the other. I'll never give up my Goodreads! But, still...

For the full story, Click Here. Until later! Have a good weekend everyone!

Book Review: Requiem by Lauren Oliver (Spread the Deliria!)

**Warning: this review does include SPOILERS**

So I finished Requiem by Lauren Oliver a week or two ago, and it occurred to me only today that the release of this finale to the Delirium trilogy was very well timed. I don't think Harper Collins considered the timing when they decided the release date, but it worked out magically.

Why was it well timed?

Consider the theme of this trilogy: in the Delirium world, love is a disease. Love (amor deliria nervosa) is basically considered a gateway drug to other dangerous emotions like jealousy, obsession, anger, and hate. To eradicate these emotions and what they do to society, the United States government closes all of the borders and builds fences around every town and mandates a "cure" for love, a surgery to turn off the part of the brain where emotions are housed. 

At the time the first novel begins, the cure has been mandatory for about 40 years or so and the MC Lena Haloway is 96 days away from turning 18 and being cured. And (spoiler alert!) sure enough, our young heroine falls in love with an Invalid (someone who lives in the wilds and is uncured), runs away to the Wilds (unfortunately without her love) and eventually joins the Resistance, a guerrilla group fighting against the government to bring an end to the cure and the zombieland it creates.

In regard to the book in question, Requiem, it's principal plot centers around the Resistance's growing strength and influence. The government can no longer pretend that Invalids don't exist and are trying to eradicate the problem by increasing border security and sending forces out into the Wilds to pick off small resistance groups and uncureds one by one.

This is where the great timing comes into play. Requiem is the crescendo of a trio of novels fighting a war to protect the right to love. Get where I'm going with this yet? 

If you guessed that the Supreme Court is hearing cases on same-sex marriage rights, you would be correct!

Like I said, I do not assume that Harper Collins was aware of this when they decided to release Requiem at the beginning of this month, but it does seem rather poignant that it was. Here you have a novel all about a fight for the right to love just a couple of weeks before a case that is questioning whether LGBTs have the same right to love and marriage as heterosexual couples. I mean, how perfect is that?!

What I admire about this book in particular is that Oliver tells the story from two perspectives, MC Lena and her former BFF Hana, whereas the previous two books were both told only from Lena's point of view. What Hana's point of view brings to the table is it is demonstrative of the other side of the argument. Hana is cured and feels freer than she did before she was cured. That is not to say that her life is by any means perfect. Not, at least, if you call being engaged to a woman-hating-cat-killing-Bluebeard-loving sociopath hell bent on destroying all Invalids who locked his first wife away in a mental ward because she "asked too many questions" a perfect life. But seeing things from Hana's POV does make you question which side is the better one? Is it better to be free to love and struggle to survive or to live in an emotionless society but be safe and have stability? You decide! Personally, for me it doesn't matter how stable and safe you are. Without love, life is just not worth living. 

There is not much I didn't like about this book. The storytelling was just as incredible as it was in the first two books, the characters were so well developed, and so many amazing things happen that I've been waiting for (not telling! I've already given too much away!). Though the ending lost a point for me. Don't get me wrong, I love ambiguous endings as much as the next reader. It gives you room to imagine for yourself what happens next. The trouble with Requiem was that the ending was TOO ambiguous. It felt like it got cut off at the knees and the torso fell off the edge of the earth. Does Lena find the rest of her family? What happens with her mom? Is she reunited with her sister Carol? Where is Rachel? What happens to Hana, Julian, and Tack? Do they ever find out that Raven was pregnant? (Sorry for the Raven spoiler!) What happens to the Resistance after Portland? Do they move on? Do they get to the capital? There are TOO MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS!

I beg of you Ms. Oliver, PLEASE, continue this series! There are just too many stories that can come off of this. Are you saving them all for the TV show?

But I digress. If you love Lauren Oliver and the Delirium trilogy, read Requiem and keep in mind when you are reading what is happening at the Supreme Court right now. Because both give us the reality of what is at stake in our lives. We are in a fight for the right to love. Love is a fundamental right and everyone should be privy to it and not be judged nor discriminated against for who they choose to love. Choose: would you rather live in a world filled with love and family or a society where who you love dictates whether you're a citizen?

Overall rating: 4 espresso shots

Friday, March 22, 2013

An "Elementary" Love for Sherlock Holmes

One of my great joys is the column I contribute to in my local paper, the Highlands Today, along with my coworkers at the library. We call our weekly column "Library Lines." With my director's permission, I will be posting my articles on this blog after they are published. I hope you guys enjoy, and please let me know what you think!

An "Elementary" Love of Holmes

            Long before we had CSI, Law & Order, or Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle created a bohemian detective for hire who would capture the imaginations of Victorian readers and many generations to follow. After 157 years, 4 novels, and 56 short stories, Sherlock Holmes continues to charm readers with his breadth of perception, powers of deduction, and forensic knowledge. Few characters are revered the way Holmes is, which is shown in the over 300 societies and websites devoted to him, and many an author has attempted to pick up Conan Doyle’s mantle since his death in 1930. A recent lawsuit raised against the Conan Doyle estate is fighting for the rights of these authors, believing Sherlock Holmes—and all related characters—is and belongs in public domain.
            Although many have fought for the privilege to pen a Holmes mystery, only within the last two years has the Conan Doyle estate authorized a new Sherlock Holmes novel, written by Anthony Horowitz. The House of Silk brings Sherlock Holmes back with all the quirks, methodologies, and formidable powers of analysis and deduction that made him fiction’s greatest detective. Holmes and his devoted companion, Dr. John Watson, are drawn into an international conspiracy associating the highest levels of government with the lowest depths of criminal activity, and threatens society as they know it.
            Loren Estleman is another of the few authors benefited with the Conan Doyle Estate’s good graces. Her short story and essay collection The Perils of Sherlock Holmes chronicles Estleman’s many published short stories staring the grand detective as well as three previously published essays to bring readers deeper into the Holmes universe. What would happen if you could convince a group of eighteen best-selling authors to write about Sherlock Holmes? Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger found out when they persuaded top authors like Lee Child, Neil Gaiman, and Laura Lippman to contribute to A Study in Sherlock, a compilation of short stories inspired by the Sherlock Holmes canon.
            In John Gardner's The Revenge of Moriarty, Professor James Moriarty survived the drop from Reichenbach Falls and is plotting revenge against those who brought him down. He has accumulated new wealth in the American's and begins to annihilate the kingpins of the London crime ring, then prepares his most hideous revenge for his arch-enemy, Sherlock Holmes. Will he succeed?
            No character is revered for his powers of observation and intuition quite like Sherlock Holmes is. And now Maria Konnikova is here to tell you that you can have that power, too. In her book Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, Konnikova explores Holmes’s unique methods of ever-present mindfulness, astute observation, and logical deduction and shows readers that with some self-awareness and practice, we can harness the same brain power to solve problems in our own lives. Not that Holmes always gets it right, at least if you ask Pierre Bayard, author of Sherlock Holmes was Wrong. In his book, Bayard reexamines the case of the Hound of the Baskervilles and concludes in fascinating detail how Holmes, and by extension Arthur Conan Doyle, got it all wrong. Bayard demonstrates a whole new way of reading mysteries that allows readers to outsmart not only the criminals in the stories we love, but also the heroes — and sometimes even the writers.
            With the upsurge of Sherlock Holmes movies, television series, and other media, the need for Holmes is growing quickly. If the Conan Doyle estate loses ownership of the Holmes copyright and it enters entirely into the public domain, readers may see an influx of Sherlock Holmes novels and stories in the coming years. Now is a good time to be a Sherlock Holmes fan.

            Who deserves custody of Sherlock Holmes? Tell us what you think. "Like"Sebring Public Library on Facebook or tweet us @HLCLibraries using #freesherlock

Update: The court case which would decided whether Sherlock and his friends are public domain was decided in late December 2013. The judge declared that Sherlock Holmes IS public domain, except for the last ten stories published after 1922. So rejoice Sherlockians! As long as you don't include details published in the last ten stories, no more fees for you!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Picture Quote of the Day 3/17/2013 (and coffee recommendation!)

Happy St. Patrick's Day readers and coffee lovers! Enjoy this pot of gold!

And for this special occasion, my coffee recommendation today is the Irish Truffle Latte.

for a small cup
1 oz white chocolate
1 oz Irish Cream syrup
1shot espresso
and steamed milk

for a bit bolder flavor, add a 1/2 oz of amaretto syrup (or just plain amaretto or vodka for the season!)


*Update: been busy and fallen a little behind on book news, but should have some updates soon. Stay tuned!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Billy Collins Undresses Emily Dickinson

I found this poem in a book of poetry Sailing Alone Around the Room this week, and I just had to share it. I opened on it randomly and truly enjoyed it. Really impressive storytelling and imagery.

"Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes"
~Billy Collins

First, her tippet made of tulle,
easily lifted off her shoulders and laid
on the back of a wooden chair.

And her bonnet,
the bow undone with a light forward pull.

Then the long white dress, a more
complicated matter with mother-of-pearl
buttons down the back,
so tiny and numerous that it takes forever
before my hands can part the fabric,
like a swimmer's dividing water
,and slip inside.

You will want to know
that she was standing
by an open window in an upstairs bedroom,
motionless, a little wide-eyed,
looking out at the orchard below,
the white dress puddled at her feet
on the wide-board, hardwood floor.

The complexity of women's undergarments
in nineteenth-century America
is not to be waved off,
and I proceeded like a polar explorer
through clips, clasps, and moorings,
catches, straps, and whalebone stays,
sailing toward the iceberg of her nakedness.

Later, I wrote in a notebook
it was like riding a swan into the night,
but, of course, I cannot tell you everything -
the way she closed her eyes to the orchard,
how her hair tumbled free of its pins,
how there were sudden dashes
whenever we spoke.

What I can tell you is
it was terribly quiet in Amherst
that Sabbath afternoon,
nothing but a carriage passing the house,
a fly buzzing in a windowpane.

So I could plainly hear her inhale
when I undid the very top
hook-and-eye fastener of her corset

and I could hear her sigh when finally it was unloosed,
the way some readers sigh when they realize
that Hope has feathers,
that reason is a plank,
that life is a loaded gun
that looks right at you with a yellow eye.

From Sailing Alone Around the Room (2001)
Originally Picnic, Lightning (1998)
Random House

Picture Quote of the Day 3/1/2013

I would absolutely think I'd died and gone to heaven.