Audrey Niffenegger's The Time-Traveler's Wife has become a modern book club classic. Our book club columnist Julie Hale thinks Niffenegger's follow up, the creepy Gothic tale Her Fearful Symmetry, which has just been released in paperback, will prove just as appealing: "Niffenegger writes with persuasiveness and originality about matters of the heart and matters of the afterlife."
What is your book club reading this month?
Scholastic announced today that the print run for Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay has been increased from 750,000 copies to 1.2 million copies.
BookPagers have been fans of The Hunger Games series for a while now, but we hear from Scholastic that interest in the series and sales of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire continue to build every week.
I know many readers will be thrilled to hear that in August Collins will go on her first book tour since September 2008. Per a Scholastic press release:
Beginning on the August 24, 2010 publication date for Mockingjay, Collins will tour bookstores in New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Boston. . . In September 2010, she will continue the tour in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, DC, and in October she will travel to Chicago, and Minneapolis/St. Paul. The tour will conclude in November 2010 with visits to bookstores in Northern California, Seattle, and Vancouver.
In How to Booze: Exquisite Cocktails and Unsound Advice (Harper), authors Jordan Kaye and Marshall Altier pair classic cocktails with every imaginable social situation. We challenged them to come up with four drink suggestions for the July 4 holiday, and they more than met our expectations. If you want to add some flair to your Independence Day celebration, read on!
The government wants you to spend Independence Day buying cars. Your neighbor wants you to slather on face paint, buy half a ton of Lipton’s tea bags and protest on the White House lawn—or at least on the lawn of that socialist who lives down the street and won’t stop babbling about the World Cup. But deep down, you know that there’s only one way to honor the day, and it’s how the Founding Fathers would want you to do it, too: fire up the grill, throw on the steaks and—oh, yes!—shake up a nice, cold cocktail.
Of course, beer is also a fitting choice, but it will surprise your neighbor to learn that while beer comes from Europe (that sorry, suffering land of universal healthcare and trains that go too darn fast), nothing is more American than the cocktail. The cocktail, like freedom itself, was born here. Even better, there happen to be a few cocktails absolutely perfect to enjoy with barbecue. So here are four July 4 choices, for four different locales:
#1, Urban Dweller
If you aren’t going anywhere for the weekend, there is no better place to watch the fireworks than from your own roof. Just hope the landlord doesn’t notice you trying to squeeze the Weber into the elevator, and make sure your kids (if you have them) are shackled to the chimney pipe. Here’s a drink made from the official spirit of the American Revolution. The economies of the rum trade were part of the formula that led to rebellion and, when the party ended, George Washington ordered a barrel of Barbados prime for his inauguration.
2 oz aged rum
½ oz strained lime juice
¾ ginger beer
1 dash Angostura bitters
Shake rum, lime juice and bitters without ice, pour over fresh ice into collins glass and top up with ginger beer. Garnish with a wedge of lime
½ oz unsweetened pineapple juice
½ oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz orange juice
1½ oz Bourbon
½ tsp grenadine
1 dash Angostura bitters
Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.
1 bottle Brut champagne
1½ oz Cognac
1½ oz Cointreau
1 bottle club soda
Rind of 1 orange(s)
Slices of pineapple(s)
Slices of orange(s)
Mix in a punch bowl. Garnish lavishly by placing orange and pineapple slices into the mix and placing sprigs of mint into each individual serving glass
2 oz Irish Whiskey
1 oz strained lime juice
½ oz simple syrup
3 slices of cucumber, muddled in mixing tin
8-10 leaves of lightly bruised mint
Shake with ice, double strain (to remove mint and cucumber bits) into old-fashioned glass over fresh ice
Garnish with a fresh mint sprig and cucumber slices.
I know it's only June (almost July, if you can believe it), but it's never too early to start planning! Did you know that September is Roald Dahl month? (The author was born on Sept. 13.) To commemorate the month, Penguin Young Readers Group is releasing a slim volume called The Missing Golden Ticket and other Splendiferous Secrets. The book is billed as "the top secret missing chapter from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," but as I flip through the pages, the most interesting content has to do with interesting Dahl-related details.
For example, did you know that the Oompa-Loompas were originally called Whipple-Scrumpets? Or that Dahl and illustrator Quentin Blake were friends in addition to collaborators? I love this quote from the author:
It is Quent's pictures rather than my own written descriptions that have brought to life such characters as the BFG, Miss Trunchbull, Mr. Twit and The Grand High Witch. It is the faces and the bodies he draws that are remembered by children all over the world.
If you read this blog regularly, you'll know that BookPage editors are crazy for Dahl. For some of our thoughts on the author, read about a recently-released companion to autobiography Boy or musings on adult novel My Uncle Oswald.
Some of you were pretty psyched when we posted about Jan Karon's In the Company of Others back in April. So when the galley came in today's mailbag, I felt like I had to share the opening lines with you:
Sheets of rain lashed the windshield; the high beams of their hired car barely penetrated a summer twilight grown black as pitch. It was a classic Irish downpour.
The road had narrowed to a single lane scarcely wider than a sheep track and was bordered by dense hedges. He took Cynthia's hand; his wife's fear of being hemmed in was only slightly greater than his. Crammed into the rain-hammered Volvo with a carton of books and a testy driver and pressed on either side by the sullen hedges, he counted this very moment as the reason he was no traveler.
The flight from Atlanta to Dublin had lived up to his worst expectations. Following a delay of seven hours due to storms in the Atlanta area, the trip across the Pond had been an unnerving piece of business which shortened his temper and swelled his feet to ridiculous proportions. Then, onto a commuter flight to Sligo airport at Strandhill, where—and this was the final straw, or so he hoped—they met the antiquated vehicle that would take them to the lodge on Lough Arrow. When he located an online Sligo car service a month back and figured out how to dial the country code, hadn't he plainly said the trip would celebrate his wife's birthday as well as her first time in Ireland? Hadn't he specified a nice car?
Excerpt from In the Company of Others by Jan Karon, published October 19, 2010 by Viking Books.
Room by Emma Donoghue
Little, Brown • $24.99 • September 13, 2010
As a longtime fan of Emma Donoghue, I was eager to read Room the moment I heard about it. I took a copy home over the weekend, but didn't have a chance to pick it up until Sunday night. My plan was to read "just a few pages" before bed. An hour and a half later I had to force myself to put it down. Not since The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time have I been so compelled by a child narrator: just-turned-five Jack's account of his life as a captive in an 11 x 11-foot room with his mother is especially powerful because for him, it is not a nightmare. Thanks to his imaginative and loving mother, he is as close to normal as a child raised without other contact can be.
"Can they come here sometime for real?"
"I wish they could," she says. "I pray for it so hard, every night."
"I don't hear you."
"Just in my head," says Ma.
I didn't know she prays things in her head where I can't hear.
"They're wishing it too," she says, "but they don't know where I am."
"You're in Room with me."
"But they don't know where it is, and they don't know about you at all."
That's weird. "They could look on Dora's Map, and when they come I could pop out at them for a surprise."
Ma nearly laughs but not quite. "Room's not on any map."
"We could tell them on a telephone, Bob the Builder has one."
"But we don't."
"We could ask for one for Sundaytreat." I remember. "If Old Nick stops being mad."
"Jack. He'd never give us a phone, or a window." Ma takes my thumbs and squeezes them. "We're like people in a book, and he won't let anybody else read it."
At what other formal occasion would you take a seat at your table in a grand ballroom and be greeted by a gaggle of giraffes on top of your plate?
Only at the Newbery Caldecott Banquet, an annual event honoring the best in children's literature. This year's banquet was held Sunday night in Washington, D.C. as part of the American Library Association's annual conference, and Kate and I were thrilled to be among the hundreds in attendance. Changing quickly out of our convention clothes into something spiffier, we rushed over to the Hilton and took our seats at a fun table with BookPage husband-and-wife super reviewers Dean Schneider (2008 Newbery Committee member) and Robin Smith (2011 Caldecott Committee member).
After dinner, librarians, authors, illustrators, publishing industry pros and others who love children's books listened with rapt attention as Rebecca Stead accepted the Newbery Medal for When You Reach Me and Jerry Pinkney accepted the Caldecott Medal for The Lion & the Mouse. The Newbery honors the "most distinguished American children's book" of the previous year, while the Caldecott goes to "the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children." Though both award winners were announced in January, the summer banquet and acceptance speeches are a cherished tradition that give children's authors and illustrators a chance to shine.
And shine they did. A gracious Jerry Pinkney, who's 70 years old and has been illustrating children's books since 1964, joked about being a five-time Caldecott Honor recipient (the runner-up award). When Caldecott Committee Chair Rita Auerbach called early on a January morning with the announcement that he had won the Caldecott, Pinkney said he waited anxiously for her to add the word "Honor." When she didn't -- and it finally dawned on him that he had won the big one -- Pinkney turned from the phone to share the exciting news with Gloria, his wife of 50 years.
Pinkney's winning book takes young readers to the plains of the Serengeti for what Auerbach called "a stunning and caring retelling of a classic tale." Since The Lion & The Mouse is a wordless picture book, Pinkney said, illustrator Mo Willems advised him to give a wordless acceptance speech. He passed on that suggestion, and instead gave listeners an introduction to his creative process, noting that he is "just as excited today as he was 50 years ago," when he was illustrating his first book. In a wordless book, Pinkney said, "it's about what you discover in the images. Each reader is free to take his or her own journey through the pages." And what a beautiful journey it is, reproduced in miniature in the illustrations that graced the evening's program.
Next up at the speaker's podium was Rebecca Stead, who was honored for what Newbery Committee chair Katie O'Dell described as a "highly original, brilliantly crafted novel," When You Reach Me. "I wanted to write a great speech," Stead said. "I wanted you to know the kind of happiness I felt on the morning of January 18." But having been warned by a friendly librarian that she should keep her remarks as short as possible (and having given the librarian a flashlight to wave from the audience if she talked too long) Stead decided instead to give what she called four short speeches: on becoming a storyteller, on the creation of When You Reach Me, on getting the Newbery news and on being grateful.
"Like many people who secretly want to write, I became a lawyer," she told the crowd with a laugh, relating her personal journey from a childhood where books held a special place to a writing workshop where an editor spotted her talent. She touched on some of the elements from her own life that inspired When You Reach Me (including her work in a Subway sandwich shop) and explained that, ultimately the book is more about exploring "the mysteries of life" than about time travel. Finally, Stead saluted many of those she is grateful to, from her agent and editor, to the members of the Newbery Committee (for "a lightning bolt of joy"), to illustrator Sophie Blackall ("for the gift of her gorgeous cover art") to librarians everywhere ("the smartest, funniest, most open-minded people I have ever met"). Stead's presentation was self-effacing, sometimes hilarious and extremely touching. We can't wait for her next book, though we hear she's been so overwhelmed by the Newbery hoopla she'll only now have a chance to start writing again.
Congratulations also to Newbery Honor winners Phillip Hoose (Claudette Colvin); Jacqueline Kelly (The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate): Grace Lin (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon); and Rodman Philbrick (The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg); and to Caldecott Honor recipients Marla Frazee (All the World) and Pamela Zagarenski (Red Sings from Treetops).
It was a wonderful night for listening to inspiring authors, and for spotting many others in the audience (Libba Bray, John Green, Linda Sue Park, Brian Selznick and Jon Scieska, to name but a few). I'm already looking forward to next year's banquet in New Orleans!
Jacquelyn Mitchard made it big when The Deep End of the Ocean was chosen for the first Oprah's Book Club pick in 1996. Eighteen books later, after losing all of her investments in a Ponzi scheme, the bestselling author is turning toward Oprah again, or rather the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Mitchard has entered "Oprah's Search for the Next TV Star." If she wins, she'll get a daytime talk show on OWN called "Oh, Jackie!"
To view Mitchard's audition video (and vote!), click here. (The most popular online audition videos will go to the next level in the competition, which culminates in a competition series on TV.)
Mitchard elaborated on her talk show concept on her blog:
And that's what I would want to do—a daytime vision of Joy Behar with a little more snap and slapstick a la Ellen DeGeneres (there is only one Ellen and long may she reign), with some stories that are really stories (like Oprah's story about Janni, a seven-year-old schizophrenic, who is the beautiful and tragic daughter of two of my dear friends). There would also be some visits that are really visits, in the manner of James Lipton on 'Inside the Actor's Studio,' although perhaps not quite so ... er, long-winded and worshipful (sorry James; really, still ask my son Marty to be on one day when he's famous!).
A new trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is now available:
Not gonna lie, it gave me goosebumps. (And made me think that it's time to start dusting off that Gryffindor scarf I got for Christmas a few years ago.) What about you? The trailer also raises some questions. Certain scenes (the face-off between Harry and Voldemort) will logically appear in Part II of Deathly Hallows. So this trailer is for both parts of the movie? The entire movie (Parts I and II) were filmed back-to-back, but I can't think of a natural separation point in the book. What do you think? Are you concerned that Part I will end at an awkward point?
Finally, what are your thoughts on watching a Harry Potter movie in 3D? I will tentatively say that I'm not crazy about the idea; I'm afraid that the effect will distract from the story and the characters, plus I like for the movies to be somewhat cohesive.
By the way, anyone had a chance to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter?
Chevy Stevens' debut novel Still Missing hits stores a week from today. For the book trailer, St. Martin's did something a little different: recorded reactions from early supporters of the book (mostly booksellers). As they rave about Stevens' ability to shift back and forth between two voices—the same character, at two very different points in her life—they also provide a plot description:
My experience reading Still Missing was similar to the first recorded voice. Abby and Trisha brought me a review copy from BEA, and I ended up reading the book in one sleepless night! In the July 6 edition of BookPageXTRA, we're featuring a Q&A with author Chevy Stevens. Here's a one-line teaser from the interview:
"I’ve always been attracted to stories about twisted family dynamics and survivors of crime."
Intrigued? Click here to sign up for XTRA if you're not already on our mailing list, because content on this novel will appear there first.
Just for fun, here's another Still Missing book trailer from Stevens' Australian publisher Allen & Unwin:
Are you interested in this book?