Archive for the 'Book Events' Category

Review: Stories from the Golden Age by L. Ron Hubbard

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

When I received the offer from the folks at Galaxy Press, I was a little reluctant. Great writing isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name L. Ron Hubbard. But the audiobooks sounded like fun and I love old science fiction, so I figured I would give it a try.

The books are a hoot! This is cheesy, old-school adventure writing. The characters and dialogue are so old-fashioned and over-the-top that the stories are unintentionally hilarious. Add in some dramatic music and sound effects, and you’ve got the audiobook equivalent of those Saturday afternoon movie shows. The writing is so florid, it should be printed on purple paper:

Rising to a crescendo of stark horror, a scream of death hacked through the gaiety of the night. It came from the sideshows, from directly beneath the lurid banner that depicted ferocious African headhunters at their feasting.

In spite of the babble of the pelasure-seeking carnival crowd, the sound lingered eerily for an instant

Gaming wheel stopped their monotonous whirring. Faces in the crowd grew blank and then frightened

The hardened barkers whirled in their stands and then stared.

The gay ferris wheel stopped, its motor coughing and spitting in idleness

Grifter and rube alike, they all seemed to know that death stalked upon the midway

Seven stands away from the lurid banner, Bob Clark, Carnival Detective, paused for a second, held by the seeping terror of the shriek. Into his steel-colored eyes came a look of certainty. Then, before the crowd had recovered from that first shock, Bob Clark began to run.

Imagine it in the most melodramatic voice you can imagine, and you’ve got The Carnival of Death.

My Stories from the Golden Age collection included The Carnival of Death, Spy Killer, Under the Black Ensign and False Cargo. The stories are full of action and adventure, manly heroes and beautiful damsels in distress. They are also full of racial and ethnic stereotypes that would put an author out of business today. It’s the sort of casual bigotry you often find in old novels — not particularly distressing, if you understand it as a function of the era, but definitely something you would want to discuss with younger listeners.

These audiobooks would be great for a road trip. They’re short — only about 2 hours each — and entertaining without taking your attention away from the road.  These special audiobook collections can be ordered from Galaxy Press. My collection was provided free of charge for review.

And they’re gone!

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

UPDATE: My World Book Night books are gone!

Originally, I was scheduled to be in our West Coast facility this week. A lot of my co-workers there are not big readers and they are not native English speakers, so I figured that they probably read very different books in school and this would be a great chance to give them a book I loved. Instead, I was here in Kent, Ohio without much of a plan. So on a very windy Monday, I headed out to hand out books to random strangers. There are a bunch of folks in Kent who got a tattoo and a free book today!

What a blast! I just headed up and down Main Street and Acorn Alley and stopped in interesting places and gave out books. My first stop was Kent Family & Community Services — I had a donation for them anyway, and I gave books to the receptionist and a couple of people in the waiting room.

I stopped one fellow on the street who was walking along, staring in the window of the used bookstore.

And I want to give a shout out to the other local businesses who were kind enough to let me hand out books:

Smokin’ Joe’s Tattoos

Tree City Coffee & Pastry

Defiance Tattoos

Empire Artisan Chocolates where I treated myself to a few dark chocolate absinthe truffles for all my hard work!

I definitely want to do this again next year. It was great fun and a chance to give a bunch of people a book that I loved!

World Book Night – it’s finally here!

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Finally! I’ve got my books and my button and this afternoon I am headed downtown, to walk around and hand out my copies of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Pray for a little good weather for me, since I want to find some people on the street during the lunch hour.

The hardest thing for me has been coming up with a plan for giving out the books. My travel plans changed radically, and I have been so swamped and far away from home, that I didn’t have a chance to find someplace locally that really inspired me. So, my plan is to just hit the streets. I have a donation to take down to Kent Social Services, and I hope to hand out a couple of books there. I need to take a bag of stuff to Goodwill, and I am hoping to do the same there. I also want to walk down the newly renovated Acorn Alley, see if anyone is hanging around in the coffee shops and stores, stop at the two tattoo parlors on the main drag, see if anyone is interested in a terrific book.  Any leftovers, I plan to take to work with me on Wednesday — there are a lot of folks there who might be interested. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Review: Defending Jacob by William Landay

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Every now and then, the hype surrounding a book does not lie. That is certainly the case with Defending Jacob by William Landay. I had been hearing a lot of buzz about this one, but I was a little late on the Request button and didn’t get my copy right away. Once I picked it up, I could hardly stand to put it down.

Defending Jacob begins in with a grand jury. It’s an excellent plot device because we don’t know what the grand jury trial is about; we don’t know who is on trial or what the charges may be. But we do know that it comes too late:

“In April 2008, Neal Logiudice finally subpoenaed me to appear before the grand jury. By then, it was too late. Too late for his case, certainly, but also too late for Logiudice. His reputation was already damaged beyond repair, and his career along with it.”

It’s a powerful beginning to a novel that kept me on the edge of my seat, sneaking a few pages here and there over breakfast and in the car, from beginning to end. Andrew Barber is our witness. We find out immediately that he is the former Assistant District Attorney. His son, Jacob, has been charged with the brutal murder of a classmate.

They live in a small town and every move the Barbers make is under the microscope. His wife, Laurie, has always been well-liked by her neighbors and at the center of the social whirl; suddenly, she’s an outcast. Andrew has to leave the District Attorney’s office, Jacob is out of school, and they find themselves locked in the house together, avoiding their neighbors, and utterly miserable.

The book discusses how far a parent will go to defend their child. Andrew is certainly willing to fight and claw his way through the courtroom — he understands that process, he understands the research and investigation that goes into a murder case — and he is not willing to entertain even the thought that Jacob is guilty. He sees it as an attorney: it doesn’t matter what he did, it matters what they can prove. If he can be found not guilty, we can deal with the rest later.

Laurie is riddled with doubt. She desperately wants to believe in Jacob’s innocence, but it becomes clear almost from the start that the Barbers don’t really know their son. He’s a teenager and he has a ton of secrets — some innocent, some guilty — and as each one is revealed it shakes her confidence in him and in herself as a parent. And Jacob isn’t the only one in the house with something to hide.

I loved the use of the grand jury to move the plot forward. We get frequent snippets of Andrew on the stand and it quickly becomes clear that we are getting Jacob’s trial in retrospect. The trial is over and something else has called for this new trial. It could be an appeal, it could be some misconduct on Andrew’s part, it could be something that has happened to Laurie, we don’t know for sure. I probably imagined every possible outcome, all sorts of scenarios that could have lead us to this point. You’re never quite sure, so you’re never quite sure until the very end of the novel. It was one of those books where I really wanted to get to the end and find out what happened, but at the same time I wanted to drag it out, enjoy the suspense and the story.

There are a few moments in the story that require a little suspension of disbelief, but that’s true of many stories. It wasn’t enough to kick me out of my happy place, enjoying the way the drama unfolded. Honestly, the thing that bothered me the most was the prosecutor’s name: Neal Logiudice. I simply could not wrap my head around the pronunciation given (<i>la-JOO-dis</i>), the emphasis seemed wrong and every time I came across it, it was like a record skipping. When I started thinking of him as just Neal, it got a lot easier.

This is a terrific novel, exploring a damaged family that is living a nightmare. We see the story of a mother and child unfold through the eyes of the father, who has his own agenda. The courtroom drama is interesting, the investigation is surprising, and every page held my complete attention. It’s the sort of book that makes you start looking up the author’s other work to add it to your TBR list.

My copy of Defending Jacob was an Advance Reader Copy, provided free of charge.


This week…

Monday, February 6th, 2012

This week, I am going to make a concerted effort to get caught up on some reviews. I’ve got 2 partially finished, at least 2 more completely finished but not scheduled, and 1 or 2 more that I still need to get started on. (Of course, I also need to find some time to get a little reading done.) It’s so easy to get behind on them! You finish a book, you get started on the next book and the next and suddenly you’re in the weeds. But I promise to get caught up.

Tuesday: a Teaser from my current eBook,Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die

Wednesday: Wondrous Words Wednesday and some new vocabulary words for you

Thursday: My review of The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian. This is one of those half-finished reviews I mentioned. I jotted down a bunch of notes when I first finished the book, and then never got back to tidying them up into a review.

Friday: A guest post from proud self-publisher Aaron Wise about why he chose to go the selfpub route. He’s got a really interesting story (and a zombie novella), and I think you’ll enjoy it.

Saturday: My Saturday Snapshot – hopefully something brand new to share with you.

That’s my week so far — what’s on your schedule?

I’m a Book Giver!

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

I am ridiculously excited — got the email yesterday that I will be a Book Giver on World Book Night! For those of you not familiar with this amazing event, people all over the United States and United Kingdom will be promoting reading in the most effective possible way: by giving people free books. This year, on April 23rd, I will be somewhere in my town, handing out copies of a book from the terrific list the WBN folks put together. (My first choice was The Book Thief which I absolutely loved.) Now I just have to figure out where I want to hand these out! I can hardly wait!

Sad News

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

Reginald Hill, author of The Woodcutter,  as well as the Dalziel and Pascoe mysteries, has died at the age of 75.

This week…

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Happy Monday! This is going to be a busy week — and not just here at Alive on the Shelves. I’ve got presents to wrap (although my shopping is long done, thank goodness)! I’ve got food to cook, wine to buy and cleaning to do. Plus, I’ve got reviews to write, a little knitting to do and I need to find some time to read in all that. And did I mention that I’m working this week? Busy, busy, busy.

So, coming up this week…

Tuesday, December 20th: I’ve got my review of Jokers Club, a book I received from LibraryThing Early Reviewers. I’ve also got my Tuesday Teaser from my current book, Blood and Other Cravings by Ellen Datlow. Great stories in that one — I should be able to find a great teaser!

Wednesday, December 21st: Wondrous Words Wednesday — I’ve got a few cool words from my current book to share.

Thursday, December 22nd: I’ll be posting my review of The Stranger You Seek, a terrific new detective novel. I would definitely add Keye Street to my All-Time, All-Fictional Girl’s Night Out invitation list.

Friday, December 23rd: Countdown to the holiday! Since we’re thinking about giving at this time of year, I’m going to talk about World Book Night and how you can give books you love to perfect strangers.

Saturday, December 24rd: For Saturday Snapshot, I think I’m going to pull out some photos from last Christmas that I took in The Netherlands and Belgium. I was spending some time there for work and there is something very old-world and magical about Christmas in that part of the world.

So, stop back every day this week for something new — grab a glass of eggnog or a cup of tea, the Christmas cookies are on the table in the corner, and make yourself at home by the tree. I’m celebrating the holidays with all of my best friends, near and far.

Coming this week…

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Happy Monday! I’ve got a couple of cool things coming up this week. Tomorrow, I’ll have a Tuesday Teaser from a terrific new mystery I’m reading, The Stranger You Seek. Wednesday, I’ve got some new words for Wondrous Words Wednesday. Thursday, I’ve got a new review: Getting Off: A Novel of Sex & Violence and you know you wanna come back and read that.

Also on Wednesday, I’ll have a guest post from author Larry Kahn about his new book, King of Paine. He’s got a giveaway going on for a new Kindle and there will be more details on Thursday. Be sure to stop back.

Review: Original Sin by Beth McMullen

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

What do super spies do when they retire? Buy a beach house on a little island in the South Pacific? Spend their days squirreled away in basement offices in D.C., drinking bad coffee and filing reports no one will read? Maybe they don’t get to retire — maybe they just keep on working until they blow their cover one last time.

In Original Sin: A Sally Sin Adventure, Lucy Hamilton appears to be a run-of-the-mill suburban mom. She has playdates. She gets manicures. She has a handsome husband with an important job and an adorable toddler named Theo. But Lucy Hamilton barely exists. She has no paper trail. But she has plenty of secrets.

Sally Sin, Lucy’s alter-ego, once attracted the attention of Ian Blackford. He was once the pride of the USAWMD but he turned his back on the agency and went rogue — and how do you hunt down your best agent, once he’s on your Most Wanted list? He seeks out Sally, over and over, but she thought she was free of all that. Now Blackford is back and dragging Sally into a very dangerous game. Can Sally stop the bad guys, save the world and still make it to yoga on time?

This book was so much fun! I must admit, I rolled my eyes a little when I got it. It seemed like pretty silly stuff. (I still can’t imagine walking away from an exciting career — even something as dangerous as espionage — to change diapers and drive the carpool. Different strokes, I guess.) But that’s all part of the fun. Lucy is a little torn as well. She misses the excitement of her old job, bringing down terrorists and international criminals for the USAWMD, but she doesn’t miss the danger and she loves her husband and her son very much. Luckily, her husband is the forgiving sort — he knows she’s got secrets and he hopes one day she’ll share them, but he doesn’t push too hard.

Original Sin: A Sally Sin Adventure would be a great beach read. It’s light and funny, with plenty of excitement, and once I got past my eye-rolling, I really enjoyed it. My copy of Original Sin was an Advanced Reader Copy, provided free of charge.