What book blog posts have you enjoyed this week? Tell us in the comments.
April 15 is Support Teen Literature Day, and best-selling YA author Cynthia Leitich Smith highlights what you can do to help on her blog, Cynsations. On the 15th, booklovers and YA authors will leave books in public places for young people to discover, thanks to publishers who have donated $175,000 worth of books. Ten thousand books will go to to teens on Native reservations and tribal lands. Leitich Smith writes, "The donations are especially significant to many Native teens. 'In their lives, they really don’t have new books,' said Mary Nickless, the librarian at Ojo Encino Day School, one of 44 institutions that will benefit from Operation TBD." She also links to a wish list of 750 books that supporters can buy from Powells.
Leitich Smith, who is a tribal member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, has written several Native American-themed books, such as Rain is Not My Indian Name. Read BookPage reviews of her work here.
The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli - Review
Posted by At Home with Books
Tatjana Soli's debut novel The Lotus Eaters has been everywhere lately—in BookPage, reviewer Sheri Bodoh called the Vietnam War story "stunningly powerful." Last week, Washington Post reviewer Masha Hamilton commented on the book's contemporary significance. In the NYT Book Review, Danielle Trussoni (author of Angelology) proclaimed that the novel is "splendid." And I loved blogger Alyce's review in "At Home with Books." She wrote, "How do you write a review of a book that has touched you in such a way that each time you think of it you see beauty and pain at the same time, side by side?" Have any Book Case readers had a chance to read this powerful novel?
How Green is My iPad?
Posted by The New York Times Op-Ed page
Okay, okay, The NYT is not a book blog. But at least I found out about this feature in a great roundup of links posted by blogger Jeremy at PhiloBiblos. Judging from the popularity of Lynn's iPad review, I thought readers would be interested in this article. The NYT provides a chart which compares the environmental impact of an iPad vs. a good old-fashioned book. The result? "The impact of one e-reader payback equals roughly 40 to 50 books. When it comes to global warming, though, it’s 100 books; with human health consequences, it’s somewhere in between." For another perspective, read this report from the Huffington Post, How Green Is Apple's Latest Gadget?, which claims that the "iPad fares pretty well, especially in comparison to other electronics."
We get some weird stuff at BookPage. Recent books about head lice come to mind. And DVDs. And plush toys. But I think today's delivery from "Fierce Fun Toys" might take the cake (sensitive readers: you might want to turn away): Norman PhartEphant! This children's book by Angela Larson is about an African elephant who is adopted by a U.S. zoo. The change in diet apparently throws him for a loop, and—you guessed it—flatulence ensues. Here's a line from the story:
With Alfrebit's great ears,
he must hear me fart. But,
if he misses the sound,
he can catch the stink.
What do you think. . . genius product development or crackpot idea?
Last night Oprah announced the debut of her new nighttime series, "Oprah's Next Chapter." The show will appear on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) in late 2011, and in it the Queen of Talk will travel around the world for her interviews.
A statement from the network said, "If she can dream it, she'll do it!"
Of course, in the book world there's been much speculation about whether she'll continue to promote books. A recent interview with the Wall Street Journal suggests she will:
Ms. Winfrey said she also may appear in other OWN shows including a possible book-club show. "My name's going to show up on that grid a lot," she said.
We're a week into National Poetry Month—has anyone been enjoying poem-a-day e-mails from the websites I highlighted last week?
There's another site that poetry lovers (or people who want to get to know the genre) should definitely browse: Favorite Poem Project, founded by Robert Pinsky, the 39th Poet Laureate of the United States. The best part of the site is the Favorite Poem Project videos, 50 short documentaries in which Americans of all ages read their favorite poems. I like the recording of a 5th-grader reading Theodore Roethke's "The Sloth":
Also, congratulations to our winner of Shel Silverstein's A Light in the Attic—Carol Bibb, who said her favorite poem is Christina Rossetti’s "Who Has Seen The Wind?".
Judy Blundell, winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature for her 2008 novel, What I Saw and How I Lied, has signed a deal to write a book called Strings Attached, which Scholastic will publish in the fall. According to Pub Marketplace, the story is about "a plucky 17-year-old chorus girl in 1950's New York, struggling to avoid her obligations to a mob-affiliated lawyer. . .who is father to the boy she loves."
In What I Saw and How I Lied, Blundell covered some similar themes: corruption, young love, post-war NYC. . .
I'll be eagerly anticipating a galley of this one. How about you? (Or are you more of a fan of Blundell's books authored under her pseudonym, Jude Watson—such as the Star Wars Jedi Apprentice series?)
If you're a booklover, there are few things that are more exciting than seeing a favorite author live and in person. If you live in or near Arkansas (my beloved home state), there are a ton of great author events coming to downtown Little Rock this very weekend—it's the Arkansas Literary Festival!
Sadly, I'm not attending the Festival this year, although I've been many times in the past and it's always well-organized, interesting and a ton of fun. (View the complete schedule here.)
A few highlights include:
Tomorrow at 5:30 p.m., Daniel Black, Alice Randall and R.M. Johnson will participate in a Forum on African-American Fiction. Randall will speak the next morning at 10 a.m. about her novel, Rebel Yell. At the same time, R.M. Johnson will talk about Why Men Fear Marriage.
Marcus Sakey is a regular in Bruce Tierney's Whodunit column. On Saturday at 10 a.m., Sakey will talk about his thriller The Amateurs. Then at 1 p.m., he'll lead a session called "Secrets to Getting Published." He'll take you through the steps of completing a manuscript, drafting a query letter and more.
Malcolm Jones, Newsweek critic and author of Little Boy Blues, will talk about his memoir at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
At 2 p.m. on Saturday, YA author Margaret McMullan will read from her latest book, Sources of Light, a story of a teen girl grappling with the racial divide in 1960s Mississippi.
Steve Yarbrough will talk about Safe from the Neighbors at 11:30 on Saturday. At 1 p.m., he'll sit on a panel with Adam Schwartzman and Qaisra Shahraz to talk about "the challenges and rewards of living and writing abroad."
While you're in town, make sure you stop by one of my favorite libraries in the world—the beautiful main branch of the Central Arkansas Library System (and pick up the April print edition of BookPage while you're there!).
Tell us in the comments: What's your favorite book festival? Are there great literary events in your hometown? In Nashville, we have the Southern Festival of Books, from which Trisha and I posted dispatches back in October.
We're highlighting Karl Marlantes' Matterhorn tomorrow in Book of the Day, and in my research about the novel, I was struck by the author's backstory. Marlantes was in the Marines reserves, and he went to Yale and then Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship. He then served in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Bronze Star, two Navy Commendation Medals for valor, two Purple Hearts and ten air medals.
And he worked on the novel that would become Matterhorn for 35 years. In the interview below, Marlantes describes two events that encouraged him to keep writing during all that time:
After that long journey, the novel—published two weeks ago by Atlantic Monthly—has received nearly unanimously positive reviews; in BookPage, Michael Lee, himself a Marine, called the book "amazing. . . searing and complex." This past Sunday, Matterhorn was on the cover of the New York Times Book Review, where Sebastian Junger called it a "raw, brilliant account of war."
Although I love Tim O'Brien and I was riveted by Chang-rae Lee's The Surrendered, I am generally not drawn to war literature. Matterhorn might be an exception. Will you check it out?
By now, many of you probably know that on Monday, at the White House Easter Egg Roll, J.K. Rowling did a reading from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The big news from the event is that, when asked if she plans to publish another book any time soon, Rowling responded, "I'm quite sure in the not-too-distant future, I will bring out another book". According to CNN, she did not rule out the possibility of "another 'Potter'-themed novel somewhere down the line."
Potter fans: What is your preference—would you rather Rowling write another Potter book, or is the series wonderful enough as is? Would you like to see something completely different from the beloved author?
I've just come across a debut fiction deal that I think will appeal to BookPage readers (perhaps the same readers who have loved Marilyn Johnson's This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All). In winter 2011, Amy Einhorn Books will publish Eleanor Brown's The Weird Sisters, "about three adult sisters of an eccentric, renowned Shakespeare professor whose family motto is 'there is no problem a library card can't solve'," according to Publisher's Marketplace.
Not surprisingly, the first thing I thought of when I read the title is Harry Potter rock band The Weird Sisters. And their rocking music video "Do the Hippogriff." Of course, the original Weird Sisters were the three witches of Macbeth, which is probably where Brown is coming from. The book's already getting some buzz; novelist Caroline Leavitt recently tweeted that she was up until three reading a galley of the "knockout debut."
What do you think—will you check out The Weird Sisters?
By the way, this morning, Trisha wrote about Little Brown imprint Reagan Arthur Books, and it's not hard to drawn comparisons to Amy Einhorn, who has her own imprint at Putnam. Have you enjoyed any Amy Einhorn books? (Have you read The Help? The Postmistress? The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott?) And book bloggers have also hosted Amy Einhorn challenges.
Day for Night by Frederick Reiken
Reagan Arthur Books, April 26, 2010
It is often said that successful novels need at least two out of three things: good writing, good characters or a good story. That may be true. But in the best novels, like Frederick Reiken's Day for Night, you get all three.
Just a handful of pages later, we leave Beverly to fly to Utah with Tim and the lead singer in his band, Dee. A few pages after that, we're reading a deposition from a federal agent who's been tracking a suspected terrorist for the last 20 years. All of these threads, and more, come together in surprising, compelling ways. Poetic and moving, Day for Night is a novel to remember.
This excerpt is from the second section, told from Tim's perspective.
We have a song, which Dee wrote—she's written all of our songs—called "Close You Are," and unlike "Down in the Sea of Me," it isn't cryptic and it isn't about Dee's history of childhood trauma. What it's about is the idea that we're much closer than we think to the random people we see on any given day, that everyone in this world carves out a little groove and that although you may think your world is large you rarely venture far outside that groove. That there are other people in these grooves with you, that grooving, at least in this song, means to be dancing with the people in your groove. The chorus of the song—Close you are, grooving!—might sound dumb just to say (especially since people hear it as "groovy" and not "grooving"), but it sounds good when you hear Dee sing it. She jumps around a lot when she sings this song and it's fun to watch her. It's like she's two different people singing, one who sings Close you are and another who chimes in grooving! She seems so happy and clear, unlike in "Down in the Sea of Me." When she sings that song, you get scared because it's like she's turned into this big black hole and you're sucked right in. Her face turns mean and you would think a person with a face like that could kill you. A face like that you will keep on seeing in your mind and you'll feel relief when you drive home and know that face is just a memory. The problem is that when you're far enough away you'll want to see it again, this face that is cruel and luscious and arousing. You think you really might be willing to go down into that sea.