Book Reviews

BookReviews

Got Mockingjay?

Iowa City, IA — The hold shelves Tuesday at the Iowa City Public Library were peppered with the pale blue spine of "Mockingjay," the third and supposedly final installment in "The Hunger Games" blockbuster trilogy of young-adult novels by Suzanne Collins. Katniss Everdeen, 16, is the protagonist in a dystopian future version of North America known as Panem. It's a harsh dictatorship, where children from 12 blighted districts battle each other to the death in an annual reality-TV game show, to the delight of the pampered citizens.

I spent part of my summer reading the first two installments in the series, 2008's "The Hunger Games" and last year's "Catching Fire."
I think I'm OK revealing that, because I've learned I'm hardly alone among allegedly mature readers.

Jason Paulios, 32, the librarian in the young adults' corner here in the Iowa City library, tallied a "mind-boggling" 93 holds for "Mockingjay," released Tuesday.

Glen Rock, NJ - on Monday the library hosted its first-ever sleepover party, in conjunction with the release of "Mockingjay," Suzanne Collins' newest book in the "Hunger Games" series.

Nancy Pearl's twitter feed: Mockingjay: triumphant finale: painfully sad,many deaths,hard decisions;same courageous Katniss. Made me want to reread 1&2 in the series.

Evil Librarians, Oh My!

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson is a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek story that had me laughing out loud right from the beginning. It’s a fast paced book that creates a fascinating world, but doesn’t get bogged down with too many details. It’s similar to Harry Potter in that Alcatraz is an orphan who is unaware of his special power and the whole secret world he is from. The thing that sets it apart is that Alcatraz narrates the book as if he is writing it and often speaks directly to the reader—with hysterical results.

Read more: ALCATRAZ VERUS THE EVIL LIBRARIANS by Brandon Sanderson | Daemon's Books http://www.daemonsbooks.com/2010/06/29/alcatraz-verus-the-evil-librarians-by-brandon-sanders...

Not recommended: The Girl who something something Fire.

I plodded patiently through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo because I wanted to give a dead man an even break. But now I'm in the first third of the second part of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, and that is enough.

I suspected during The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo that in spite of Larsson's Men Who Hate Women theme, that the novel was little more than a middle-aged man's wet dream. Our hero, Mikael Blomkvist, seems to sleep with every woman he meets. Because Larsson's women are in control of their bodies and their bodies can't resist 40-somethingish Blomkvist.

The author has created women who are independent, yet compelled to jump into bed with our protagonist because sex with him is "uncomplicated."

I stopped reading when a couple of women slept together and the narrator had to explain it to us. Why does the narrator need to explain why two women are in bed? They like each other. There's no reason to say, "Chloe had her first lesbian experience when she was eighteen and never looked back or regretted not being with a man." There is only one reason to say that, well two, one is to show your readers that you, the author, are cool with lesbians, that you understand them, that you are a hip dude; and the other, is to justify why a woman wouldn't fall right into bed with your hero, Blomkvist.

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Terrorism Bibliography from the U.S. Army War College

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The U.S. Army War College recently produced an extensive and comprehensive bibliography on the subject of terrorism, including books, periodical and journal articles, and websites. You can view the bibliography here on the Delaware Library Catalog blog and also check availability of some of the listed titles in Delaware libraries. http://library.blogs.delaware.gov/2010/06/08/terrorism-bibliography/

Librarians at BookExpo America

From Shelf Awareness ...At the second annual Book Shout and Share panel last Thursday in New York City, seven librarians--Jason Honig, San Francisco Public Library; Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Library; Nora Rawlinson, EarlyWord.com; Miriam Tuliao, New York Public Library; and several staffers from Library Journal: Barbara Hoffert, "Pre-Pub Alert" editor; Douglas Lord, "Books for Dudes" columnist; Neal Wyatt, editor of "RA Crossroads" and "The Readers Shelf"-- touted their top finds from the BEA show floor. Barbara A. Genco, collection management editor, hosted the session.

Here are some of their suggestions:
Exley by Brock Clarke (Algonquin, October 2010), the story of a nine-year-old boy struggling to make sense of his father's disappearance, is "the first great find of the new season" for Barbara Genco--one that reminded her of Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. "It's a fascinating book about the Iraq war--what it means to families and what it's like to live in a military town," she said.

Another title Genco highlighted is Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian (Nan A. Talese, October) by Avi Steinberg, who recounts his stint working in a Boston prison library.

One Book, One Twitter...It's Not Your Grandmother's Book Club

Don't believe what you read, says author and editor Jeff Howe in the Christian Science Monitor. "The Internet is not destroying literature." If anything, he argues, "the new medium could breathe new life into a few old ones."

To prove his point, earlier this month Howe kicked off "One Book, One Twitter," which Howe hopes will become "the largest collective reading exercise in history." As Howe explains in book industry trade magazine Publishers Weekly, "This summer, thousands of people from all over the world are reading Neil Gaiman's 'American Gods.' They will then discuss the book using Twitter, a new-fangled technology that's doing for the epigram what Anne Frank did for diaries."

Howe says he got his idea from Seattle's celebrity librarian Nancy Pearl who, in 1998, launched the "One City, One Book" group read concept, now adopted by many other municipalities as well.

Discussions in 140 characters or less...what are your thoughts?

Are We Prepared For a Cyberattack? Richard A. Clarke Says 'No'

New York Times Book Review of 'The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It' by Richard A. Clarke and Robert K. Knake. 290 pages. Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers. $25.99.

Gas pipelines explode. Chemical plants release clouds of toxic chlorine. Banks lose all their data. Weather and communication satellites spin out of their orbits. And the Pentagon’s classified networks grind to a halt, blinding the greatest military power in the world.

This might sound like a takeoff on the 2007 Bruce Willis “Die Hard” movie, in which a group of cyberterrorists attempts to stage what it calls a “fire sale”: a systematic shutdown of the nation’s vital communication and utilities infrastructure. According to the former counterterrorism czar Richard A. Clarke, however, it’s a scenario that could happen in real life — and it could all go down in 15 minutes. While the United States has a first-rate cyberoffense capacity, he says, its lack of a credible defense system, combined with the country’s heavy reliance on technology, makes it highly susceptible to a devastating cyberattack.

The professor, his wife, and the secret, savage book reviews on Amazon

The professor, his wife, and the secret, savage book reviews on Amazon
An extraordinary literary "whodunnit" over the identity of a mystery reviewer who savaged works by some of Britain's leading academics on the Amazon website has culminated in a top historian admitting that the culprit was, in fact, his wife.

Amazon reviewers think this masterpiece sucks

From "The Grapes of Wrath" to "1984" -- some amateur critics just can't stand the classics

Article at Salon.com

Outbreaks, Attacks, Sackings, and Fires

Luciano Canfora’s The Vanished Library: A Wonder of the Ancient World...the book contrasts the fate of the ancient Library of Alexandria with besieged public libraries today. http://uflstaffpicks.blogspot.com/2010/03/outbreaks-attacks-sackings-and-fires.html

The Times, They Are a-Changing...

From Poynter.org, New York Times to spin off Book Review for e-readers:

The New York Times is planning to offer its Book Review as a separate digital e-reader product, disaggregated from the rest of the Times content on the mobile devices, according to James Dunn, director of marketing for The New York Times.

Dunn alluded to the plan during an afternoon session at the Digital Publishing Alliance (DPA) and E-Reader Symposium at the University of Missouri's Reynolds Journalism Institute. Following the session, Dunn spoke briefly with Poynter's Bill Mitchell and provided additional details.

Mitchell reports the Times will introduce a separate version of its Book Review for three e-reader platforms, beginning with the Sony e-reader in the next couple of weeks. Versions for Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook will follow. Dunn declined to say what the price will be for the Book Review on these platforms.

NYTimes Lauds 'Overdue' and Its Subject, Librarians

In no less than the New York Times Sunday Book Review...a rave for Marilyn Johnson's "This Book is Overdue : How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All”. Critic Pagan Kennedy writes:

Johnson ushers us into the American Kennel Club Library and introduces us to the inevitable graying librarian in a boiled-wool jacket with a Scotty pin. She also teleports over to a Las Vegas “gentlemen’s club” called the Library, where ladies wearing spectacles (and not much more) slide their way down stripper poles. She peppers the book with lots of random instructions, like how to remove odor from an old Graham Greene paperback. (Use a sheet of Bounce fabric softener.) This is one of those books, in the vein of Mary Roach’s “Stiff” (about human cadavers), that tackle a big topic by taking readers on a chapter-by-chapter tour of eccentric characters and unlikely locations. Given Johnson’s attractions to wild tangents, the journey often dissolves into a jumble. It is a testament to her skill as a writer that she remains fascinating, even in the throes of A.D.D.

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Book Review: Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

Book Review: Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson
Brandon Sanderson's Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians is a new twist on the young adult fantasy genre. Instead of integrating magical elements into a modern story world, the book is written to inform us that our modern world (and even our history) is an illusion that librarians want us to believe.

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New Owner For Kirkus Reviews/now Kirkus Media

Looks like Kirkus Reviews will live another day to praise — and skewer — authors, but with some rather unorthodox owners for a publication with a long literary pedigree.

Herb Simon, the owner of the Indiana Pacers, the NBA team, and chairman emeritus of Simon Property Group, a shopping mall developer, has bought the venerable journal of prepublication book reviews from the Nielsen Company, which announced in December it was closing the magazine. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Mr. Simon, who is co-owner of an independent bookstore in Montecito, CA, Telecote Books, has appointed Marc Winkelman, chief executive of Calendar Holdings, owner of several chains of seasonal retailers, to be chief executive of what will be re-named Kirkus Media. Mr. Winkelman is also taking a small stake in the company.

NYTimes Media Blog.

Warren Beatty Biography, "Star"

Sounds like a good beach/vacation read.

Vanessa Grigoriadis reviews Peter Biskind's biography of Warren Beatty-- "Star; How Warren Beatty Seduced America" in Sunday's New York Times. Presumably Beatty first agreed to cooperate in the creation of the book but later renegged on his offer.

From the review:

For a relative unknown, dating an actress like [Joan] Collins was a coup, but Beatty was more interested in platonic seduction of those higher on the food chain: writers and directors. His first scalp was the (gay) playwright William Inge, author of “Come Back, Little Sheba” and “Picnic,” who hoped to cast him in the part of a man so sexually confident that “he feels a wreath has been hung on his penis.” Soon, he secured an audience with Clifford Odets at Romanoff’s restaurant on Rodeo Drive, and bonded with Elia Kazan, who gave him his first big break, “Splendor in the Grass.” He impressed them with his intelligence, but he liked playing the pretty boy too. From a young age, he maintained a diet of soy burgers and carrot juice, washed his hair with a six-pack of beer, and even separated his eyelashes with a pin before shooting a scene (for sex, he pumped up his thyroid with vitamins) — and he didn’t care who knew it. Carly Simon has never explicitly admitted that Beatty was the inspiration for “You’re So Vain,” but he likes to think so.

Book Magazine Kirkus Reviews Lives to Write Another Day

Book Magazine Kirkus Reviews Lives to Write Another Day

Details here

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What's the Point of Book Blurbs?

If you believed them then you'd think every book published is, like, really amazing. From The Guardian:

There's a lot of received wisdom in the publishing world – for instance, if you write non-fiction, your book needs a subtitle. Never mind that fiction doesn't require that extra bit of explication (Crime & Punishment: Murder and Redemption in the Empire of the Tsars anyone?) if you write non-fiction you simply must spell out what you're up to for prospective readers! This may be a wise policy or it may be nonsense, nobody knows.

Then there are blurbs, the more of which you can plaster on your paperback the better. Do these blurbs – many of which could be transferred from book to book without great difficulty – actually sway readers? Usually these are from newspaper reviews reduced by your sales people to a string of superlatives here, a comparison to somebody more famous than you are there. If the blurb comes from a review by a famous person, then they may just run with the name of the celebrity alone ("The Da Vinci Code is f*cking awesome!" – Salman Rushdie).

Booklist senior editor Keir Graff on the future of book review publications.

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Interview with Keir Graff Written by Edward Champion Posted on December 11, 2009 Filed Under Book Reviewing, Publishing In the wake of Kirkus Reviews’s folding, I asked Booklist senior editor Keir Graff a few questions on the future of book review publications. He was very gracious and offered considerable answers. http://www.edrants.com/interview-with-keir-graff/

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