Because everyone loves a good blog series (like this one!), I thought you would enjoy hearing about a couple of recurring posts I enjoy following.
Wondrous Words Wednesday
Posted by Julie on Booking Mama
This series is hosted by Kathy at Bermuda Onion, although I originally came across it on Booking Mama. Every Wednesday, bloggers share new words they have discovered in their reading. For example, in reading Jackson Taylor's The Blue Orchard, Julie learned "mansard" and "accoucheur." (Don't know what they mean? You'll have to follow the link to find out.)
I love this idea because it encourages active reading. . . I am certainly guilty of skimming over a word I've never seen before and figuring out the basic meaning through context clues—but Wondrous Words Wednesday gives me a great reason to read with a pencil in hand.
Harrowing Historicals in October!
Posted by Allie on Hist-Fic Chick
This post introduces the Harrowing Historicals series hosted by Allie of Hist-Fic Chick and Nicole of Linus’s Blanket. Here's a description of the project:
Each day of the month at witching hour (12 midnight, EST), Nicole and I will feature a different historical fiction (and a few fun non-fiction!) read that has a Halloween tie-in. Because let’s face it – history is fraught with some scary stuff! Join us for chats on the history of vampires, Queens who died in gruesome ways, what it’s like to consult psychic mediums for historical fiction research, and scary personages like Elizabeth Bathory and Jack the Ripper. It’s going to be an exciting month filled with all things spooky history!
And of course for Halloween, there has to be some treats! Leaving a comment throughout the event on any Harrowing Historical post (here or on Linus’s Blanket) will enter you for a chance to win one of several awesome Harrowing Historical prize packs.
What blog posts about books did you enjoy this week? What blog series do you follow?
Barbara Robinson's The Best Christmas Pageant Ever—about the "worst kids in the history of the world," the Herdman kids—is one of my favorite books ever—and definitely my favorite book for the holidays.
So I was happy to hear that Walden Media has just acquired the film rights to produce this classic holiday story. Walden is knows for their adaptations of children's classics, from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to Bridge to Terabithia and Ramona and Beezus.
Although I'm usually skeptical of movie adaptations, I think this one will be great. My local children's theater did a production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever when I was in elementary school, and it really was the best play there I ever saw.
If right now you're thinking, "Christmas? It's not even November!", then you might check out Robinson's TBCPE spin-off The Best Halloween Ever.
This week's recipe is an Asian-inspired appetizer or side-dish from Mark Bittman's latest, the Food Matters Cookbook (Simon & Schuster). Bittman is an oft-used resource for the BookPage staff; his French toast recipe is a sentimental favorite of our nonfiction editor, Kate Pritchard, who made it the morning she got engaged. Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt is also a fan: she deems his new book "a super source of 500 'less-meatarian' recipes that invite you to consider grains, veggies and legumes as the core of your daily meals" in her October column.
A noodle cake makes a fantastic side dish, snack, or base for a stir-fry, where it soaks up all of the savory juices. You don’t need much else to call this a meal, though a beer alongside wouldn’t hurt.
1 1?2 pounds bok choy, gai lan (Chinese broccoli), tatsoi, or other Asian green
8 ounces any rice, buckwheat (soba), or wheat noodle, preferably whole grain
3 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons sesame oil
4 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 fresh hot chile (like jalapeno or Thai), seeded and minced, or to taste
8 ounces shrimp, peeled (see page 22)
1?2 cup chopped scallions
1?2 cup chopped peanuts, optional
1. Cut the leaves from the stems of the bok choy. Trim the stems and cut them into 1-inch pieces; cut the leaves into bite-size pieces or ribbons. Rinse everything well.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Cook the noodles until tender but not mushy. Check them frequently: The time will vary from a minute or 2 for thin rice noodles, to 5 minutes for soba, or up to 12 minutes for wide brown rice noodles. Drain them and rinse with cold water. Toss the noodles with 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil.
3. Put 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the noodles and press down a bit. Cook, pressing down occasionally, until brown and crisp on the bottom (adjust the heat so the noodles brown but do not burn). Carefully put a large dish over the skillet and flip it to turn out the cake. Add a little more oil to the pan, swirl it around, and gently slide the cake off the plate and back into the skillet, uncooked side down, all in one piece. Brown the other side, then slide it onto a platter. (At this point you can cut the cake into 4 wedges, or wait and roughly break it apart after topping.)
4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Add the ginger, garlic, and chile and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the bok choy stems, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the stems just lose their crunch, about 3 minutes.
5. Add the shrimp to the pan along with the bok choy leaves, scallions, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, and 1?2 cup water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid evaporates and the stems are very tender, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more soy sauce if necessary. Serve the stir-fry over the noodle cake, topped with peanuts if you like.
Proceed with the recipe.
Recipe reprinted from Mark Bittman's The Food Matters Cookbook (Simon & Schuster), copyright 2010, with permission from the publisher. All rights reserved.
I had to double check my calendar when I started seeing posts pop up on blogs (like from author Jackson Pearce or literary agent Nathan Bransford) about NaNoWriMo. But then I realized . . . Yep! November really is less than two weeks away. And if you're going to spend the month pounding out a 50,000 word novel it's not a bad idea to start psyching yourself up.
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Last year, 167,150 people officially participated in the writing frenzy, and 32,178 of them were winners. (You're a winner if you complete the 50,000 words.)
The NaNoWriMo website has an amusing "why" section—as in why would you write nearly 2,000 words a day for a month:
Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era's most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work. [Ed note: Take that Jonathan Franzen!]
Charlaine Harris (and "True Blood") fans rejoice! The author's Harper Connelly books are being adapted into a series for CBS called "Grave Sight." Here's more from Variety:
"Grave Sight"—titled after Harris' first Harper Connelly book—will come from Ridley Scott and Tony Scott, as well as Naren Shankar ("CSI"), David Zucker and scribe Kam Miller ("Law and Order: SVU"), all of whom will exec produce.
The Harper Connelly mysteries center on a woman who's struck by lightning—and suddenly able to see the last moments of the dead.
Jane by April Lindner
Poppy • $17.99 • ISBN 9780316084208
On sale October 11, 2010
After 19-year-old Jane's parents die in a car accident, our heroine is forced to drop out of Sarah Lawrence and find a job through a nanny service. Because she's more into classical music than rock and never reads the tabloids, Jane is placed in the home of Nico Rathburn (it's better to avoid the fans)--a rocker with a bad boy image and a young daughter. I won't say more and spoil the ending . . . although if you've read Jane Eyre, I think you know where it's going. Still, it's a lot of fun to anticipate familiar scenes and watch them play out in a modern setting, and it doesn't hurt that Jane and Nico have awfully good chemistry.
Since Halloween is just around the corner, here's a creepy scene that Brontë fans will surely be able to place:
Once again, the house was silent, and I felt myeslf drifting back to sleep. I had just started dreaming when another sound startled me awake. This time it was a laugh--low, suppressed, and deep--that seemed to be coming through the keyhole of my bedroom door. I bolted upright. The room was pitch-dark; the only light would have come in between the slats of the window blinds, but tonight there was no moon. I sat perfectly still, waiting for my eyes to adjust. Had I dreamed that laugh? Had my sleeping mind taken a distant sound--a loon's cry, maybe?--and distored it?
"Is somebody there?" I whispered, and heard a floorboard creak just outside my door. Then I noticed something that made my heart pound even faster--a faint aroma of sulfur. I switched on the light, crept to the door, and yanked it open. On the carpet, at the top of the stairs, I saw a match smoldering. The air was thick with smoke, but the blue billows seemed to be coming from Mr. Rathburn's wing, on the opposite side of the house.
Also, do you have a favorite retelling of a classic?
Philippa Gregory, author of best-selling English historical fiction, has signed a deal to write three more books with Simon & Schuster's Touchstone.
The Kingmakers' Daughters will be out in 2012, followed by The White Princess and The Last Rose. These novels are part of Gregory's War of the Roses series, the most recent of which was The Red Queen, about Henry VII's mother.
Do you read Gregory? Are you excited about these new books?
Check out Touchstone's Widget, which includes information about the series:
Julie Klam's You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness comes out next week, and we're highlighting it (along with three other dog-themed books) in our November issue.
If you've ever loved a dog, you'll enjoy this story about Klam's adventures in rescuing Boston terriers. (BookPage's Deanna Larson writes: "These little one-act adventures in the sacrifices and rewards of dog guardianship have humanity, occasional tragedy and sadness, and plenty of hilarity.")
Even if you're not a dog person, I think you'll get a kick out the trailer, which includes hilarious guest appearances by Susan Orlean (author of The Orchid Thief) and comedian Denis Leary:
Dog lovers: Will you look for You Had Me at Woof? Also, seen any good book trailers lately?
Also in BookPage: Editor Lynn Green highlights the book Why Dogs Are Better Than Cats. (Feel free to leave a comment if you disagree!)
Readers, I have a confession—I don't like audiobooks.
Or rather, I haven't given audiobooks a chance since my days of long family trips, when my grandparents wanted to listen to thrillers in the front seat and I wanted to read Nancy Drew in the back. Try figuring out a mystery when a different plotline is pounding in your ears.
This weekend, however, I have decided to turn over a new leaf. A friend and I are driving 550 miles on Friday, and 550 miles on Monday. (We're going from Nashville to Charleston.) That'll be at least 18 hours in the car, which I figure is enough time to listen to at least one audiobook.
Here's what I've picked up from the library. I figure I'll have to be nice and let my traveling companion choose what we listen to . . .
Read The Help and loved it, but I hear the audio is excellent. Octavia Spencer is the voice of Aibileen, although she'll play Minny in the movie.
What are your audiobook recommendations for a road trip?
Kenneth Slawenski, founder of the website Dead Caufields, has signed a deal with Random House to publish Salinger: A Life in the United States. The book will come out on January 25, 2011—two days before the one-year anniversary of J.D. Salinger's death.
The biography was published in the United Kingdom in March and The Telegraph called it "a first-rate book." According to a press release from Random House, Salinger will give us "a tremendous amount of new information" on the mysterious author's life:
His wartime romance; the inspiration behind The Catcher in the Rye; the impact of his experience fighting in the D-Day landings; the true story behind Franny and Zooey; full details on his romance with Oona O’Neill (later Mrs. Charlie Chaplin); his office intrigues with famous New Yorker editors and writers; his friendship with Ernest Hemingway; surprising evidence that he intended to continue publishing after his last story appeared in l965, and much more.
Random House executive editor Susanna Porter calls it "the most definitive Salinger biography yet published."