Saturday, March 23, 2013

Breaking up with an Author (or Series)

So there's this author (or series) you have loved. These are books you buy, no questions asked, not even looking at the synopsis. You've read the books a thousand times. You've waited for each new book with bated breath...and then it happens. The next book comes out, you get it and it's not as good as the last one. You mark it up to "Hey, it happens to everyone, the next one will be better." Then the next one comes out. Same thing.  So then you decide, okay, I'll just start borrowing the next ones from the library now. Then the next one comes out and you pick it up from the library and bring it home...where it stays in your library bag the whole time because you just can't muster the interest to read it. Or there are ten other books that seem way more important. So the book goes back, unread. That's when it hits you, you've broken up with them.

Perhaps the author has swapped direction or has gotten lazy where they're just following the same exact template from the books before. Just changing the names and the places, but the general plot is the same, the characters are stock characters. Or the series has started out one way and then gone through a Sybil moment and has gone in a completely new direction that bears no sibilance to the series you fell in love with.

Or for once, maybe it really is you and not them.  You have outgrown the books and not in an age outgrowing like moving on from YA to adult books, but your tastes have changed. The plots aren't working for you, and now you're craving a bit more depth in your books, or a bit of mystery or action or facts.

So how do you handle breaking up with a book?

This has happened to me a few times actually, but this last time was the first time it was really hard. I got started on romance novels once I was ready to hop out of the YA scene (which was probably like 15 to be honest) because my mom read them. I just read what was on her shelves. I loved them, until I realized a lot of the time it was the same story over and over. So then I moved to mystery novels. I had no problem giving away all the romance novels I had. It was pretty emotionless. I started on paranormal romance for the supernatural angle, but quickly learned it was just those simple templates again just with vampires. So then I moved to urban fantasy. I broke up with the Anita Blake series because I was drawn to the first few books where the main character was mostly just a detective solving preternatural crimes, but then the series changed dramatically and I lost interest.
Courtesy: Google images

The whole time I had kept and read one of my first authors of romantic suspense. The author was interesting and for awhile I fooled myself into thinking, they are mystery novels with romance on the side. Slowly I started to realize it was the opposite. The "hero" was always a bossy ex military alpha male and the "heroine" was always kind of quirky and an intellectual/artistic type who spent most the book saying how independent she was, but then getting herself into some kind of situation and needing the "hero" to save her. So I bought the last few books, swearing I'd read them, but then a few pages in, I'd put it down and start something (anything else). So this last book to come out I decided to just check it out from the library. Same thing! I would read something (anything else!) on my TBR pile. So it went back to the library unread.

Then I realized. I broke up with the author. I was kind of heartbroken this time, maybe because I'd actually chatted with this author online so there was a pseudo personal connection. I don't blame the author. I think she is doing great books...for someone else. I just need a little more for my personal reading enjoyment. I think this calls for a rebound book.

So have you ever "broken up" with an author or a series?

Literary Links: March 23rd Edition

The next best thing to reading an actual book.

Chinua Achebe Dead: 'Things Fall Apart' Author Dies: RIP

Craziest Book Titles, Part One: I would be particularly worried if I was a writer in New England...

How Flannery O’Connor Made Me Fall in Love with Southern Fiction: I'm feeling the need to read some O'Connor right now!

Oscar Wilde Letter, Discovered In England, Contains Advice For Writers: To start out with, don't quit your day job!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday @ the Forums: March 22nd

Here is what's going on in our forums on Goodreads.

Literary Blogs - Do you have a book blog that you want to share? We'll share your link here on the blog as well.

Practical Classics Questions - Kevin Smokler will be by in May to talk about his book. Post your questions on the thread for him.

Classic Books Mentioned in other Classic Books
 - Recently we ran across Middlemarch in The Age of Innocence. Do you know of any?

March is Women's History Month - Which female authors are you reading this month?

File:George Eliot.jpg
George Eliot

Literary Links: March 22nd Edition

The next best thing to reading an actual book.

Difference and Deliverance in the Digital Age - Reasons why you shouldn't talk literature at parties.

The Joy of Cooking - Have $40,000 to spare for an original copy?

Steampunk 101: An Expert Helps Demystify the Strange Subculture - Anyone else as lost as I am, but also kind of intrigued?

20 Embarrassingly Bad Book Covers for Classic Novels - I really liked the cover for The Scarlet Pimpernel. Briefcases in the French Revolution?

Now You Can Collaborate With Poe, Dickens, Nietzsche, Shakespeare… - This Booktator just lost her morning playing with this. What can you come up with? Share with us!

Source: Karena Fagan

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review: Will the Real William Shakespeare Please Step Forward?

Will the Real William Shakespeare Please Step Forward?
Shakespeare fans, do I have a book for  you. I just finished up David Lawrence-Young's Will the Real William Shakespeare Please Step Forward? Haven't heard about it? It seems few have, according to Goodreads, but this is a book worth seeking out. 

University lecturer Daniel Ryhope is stunned when a colleague declares "
William Shakespeare was a con man! A faker and a forger!" He had spent his whole career believing that the Bard himself created all his plays and sonnets, but suddenly is plagued with uncertainity. Along with two colleagues and his wife, Beth, he embarks on an academic journey to find out who was the real William Shakespeare. 

What I enjoyed about this novel the most was its information. Lawrence-Young delivers real sources and real theories and puts them in an entertaining format. Personally I have a hard time with nonfiction because it can be delivered rather drily. This was the wonderful combination o
f fact and fiction. I also liked the addition of lines from the plays and sonnets thrown in along with the fact Lawrence-Young didn't leave the ladies out of his speculation. Equal opportunity suspicion. I like it. 

I will warn if you're looking for the suspense and action ala the Da Vinci Code, this isn't your book. It's simply not that kind of mystery. There's no antagonist at all even. Just the characters' simple (yet complicated) gathering of sources and information then debating it around the dinner table. In my opinion, the plot didn't need the distraction of a bad guy waiting in the wings, it was good enough to just sit at the table and debate the facts. To keep it from getting stale, the author often used the first person narrative of the sources his characters were investigating, as in the case of Delia Bacon, a writer who participated in the Shakespeare author question.

The verdict

Buy: If you are a devoted Shakespeare or literary history fan  
Borrow: If you enjoy a little fact with your fiction then add a bit of mystery.

(review based on ebook received from

Literary Links: March 21st Edition

The next best thing to reading an actual book.

Out of Print's Book Madness - Go look at the brackets for best sci-fi/fantasy books. Fill out the form now and you can get a chance to win $500! Voting starts March 25th.

Urban Planning Through Kids Books - I don't live in Cleveland, but I would Kickstart this project not only for the kids of that city, but in hopes other cities would catch on.

The Library Bridge - I've always said that books are what brings us together.

Oxford librarian dismissed over Harlem Shake video – that she wasn't in - In more Oxford news, I told myself I wasn't going to join the hype over the Harlem Shake, but this one I couldn't ignore. 

The 5 Silliest Books Inspired By Jane Austen - I'm sending the Jane Austen Cookbook to my fellow Booktator, Jeane.
The Jane Austen Cookbook

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Book Association: Sherlock Holmes - Part 3

We've tackled bromances and genuises in our previous Sherlock Holmes Book Associations. Now we are covering Substance Abuse.

Fear and Loathing in Las VegasFear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Hunter S. Thompson was quoted on saying “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me.” This book is completely riddled with drug use. Prepare for a crazy ride.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-GlassAlice in Wonderland - Ok, don't yell at me. I know this one's not really about drugs, but there are conspiracy theories that Lewis Carroll was stoned while he wrote it as the Caterpillar was stoned and the whole thing is just a great crazy LSD trip. I don't think there's any proof in this, but for the sake of humor, there it is.

Trainspotting - Heroin is the drug of choice in this novel by Irvine Welsh. Although for American readers, the Scottish slang might scare you off before you even get into the lifestyles of the characters.

Requiem for a DreamRequiem for a Dream -  Heroin shows up again in this novel for two young boys who fantasize about getting a pound of uncut heroin and getting rich.

What other novels can you think of with substance abuse? 

Next week we tackle Victorian era mysteries.

Literary Links: March 20th Edition

The next best thing to reading an actual book.

When a Book Changes Your Life: When reading a book, there really is nothing better than an experience like this.

Heroines: From Zelda Fitzgerald to Jean Rhys: How did/do women, like Zelda Fitgerald and Sylvia Plath, write? What were their obstacles? I think I just found my Women's History Month book! This sounds so amazing!

The Future of the Book Shouldn’t be Skeuomorphic: With the growing demand of ebooks and growing supply of ereaders and tablets, what is the future of the book? Interactive experiences for readers may be in the near future for the ebook!

School Principal Kisses Pig As Students Reach Reading GoalsWell, that's one way to encourage reading to elementary school students!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Meet-a-Tator Tuesday: Angie

In Part 3 of our Meet-a-Tator Tuesday series, you'll meet our shelftator, Angie. She's our guru of the bookshelves, taking member suggestions, vetting them to make sure they meet the guidelines and organizing it all into easy to find shelves.


Title: Shelftator

Fave books/authors/genre: Patrick Ness, George R.R. Martin, Classics - especially The Great Gatsby, Young Adult Fiction - particularly The Knife of Never Letting Go trilogy, Historical Fiction - Laurie Halse Anderson and Isabel Allende are awesome, and Contemporary Classics

Tell us about yourself: I’m a mother of two boys, 6 and 15, wife, and high school teacher in Olympia, WA. I love to READ, travel, sew, knit, and get outside. I can’t wait until summer - always.

Impact Book(s): The Bluest Eye, A Tale of Two Cities, The Great Gatsby

Favorite quote about books: “Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled, ‘This could change your life.’” Helen Exley

Twitter: @angswildatheart; Facebook:

Literary Links: March 19th Edition

The next best thing to reading an actual book.

Tyree Carter Banned From 'All The Libraries On The Face Of The Earth' For Allegedly Masturbating -  Too many jokes in my head, I'm going to agree with one of the commenters. "This is why we can't have nice things."

18 Great Books You Still Can't Get Digitally - I still can't believe To Kill a Mockingbird is on this list. Which ones surprised you?

Library Love: Your Library's Disgusting Friends - People with pest phobias beware! This is a cautionary tale.

Where are the science books for children that mix fact and fiction? - As the mother of a four year old who seems to be a science fan, this is a great question.

20 Awesome Examples of Literary Graffiti  - If it's gonna be there, it might as well teach you something right?

William Blake, "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell"

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Night With the "Odd" Chapters of The Grapes of Wrath

Courtesy: Karena Fagan
This last Wednesday I decided to go to one of the 30 events Santa Cruz Reads is putting on to celebrate John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, his life and his other works thanks to a grant received from the National Endowment of the Arts. The event was put on at the Downtown branch of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries with the Willing Suspension Armchair Theater performing The "Odd" Chapters of The Grapes of Wrath, the chapters about the ecology, the surrounding area like Highway 66, and the other elements that paint the picture of what life was like for the Joads and other families making the migration. 

While the little meeting room on the second floor of the library did not allow for a large audience, the crowd who did show up was impressive as was the performance. Eight readers performed their interpretation of the chapters. They gave such color to what is a dismal part of our history. I especially enjoyed their portrayal of Chapter 15 in which Steinbeck describes the hamburger stands that were along Highway 66, specifically of the story of Al and Mae's stand in which Mae encounters stingy rich people, proud migrants and generous truck drivers. The part where Mae gives the migrant children candy brought tears to my eyes with the performer's portrayal. 

The whole thing was so inspiring, I went home and picked up the copy of The Grapes of Wrath that I had bought (unknowing that we already had a copy, but that's a post for another day) and started reading. I started Thursday morning and finished Saturday morning. It was such a great book and these performers did it great justice.
Courtesy: Karena Fagan

Ep #8 The Bad Girls (and Boys) of Literature

On episode 8 "The Bad Girls (and Boys) of Literature" Jared, Jeane, and Karena spill about recent forum activity including our Sherlock Holmes discussion. Karena shares her experience at an armchair read of the "odd" chapters of The Grapes of Wrath and Jared expresses his appreciation for TedTalks. CWAtC is coming to San Francisco on April 6th! More details to be announced. Then the hosts get into the nitty gritty of the bad girls (and boys) of literature in our first part of the series "Archetypes." What families made it on to the Top 10 literary families you'd like to live with? 

Also, listen for details on how to win an invite to  

Where My Bookmark and other books we mention: 

Websites we mention:  

*Note: the name of the group of performers of The "Odd" Chapters of The Grapes of Wrath is Willing Suspension Armchair Theater. 

Literary Links: March 18th Edition

The next best thing to reading an actual book

A Second Memoir at age 17  It seems Olympic winner Gabrielle Douglas has a lot to say.

Man Engages in Lewd Behavior at Library  He is now banned from "all the libraries on the face of the earth."

The Vatican Goes Digital  This can mean many manuscripts and printed books can now be available on our eReaders! 

Poetry Contest Helps Sales of KFC in China   So, why did the chicken cross that road?  

Courtesy of Google Images

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Mom Says/Kid Says Review: I is for Imagination

For Sesame Street's First Comic Book, Elmo Truly is the Superhero

Title: I is for Imagination
Authors: Amy Mebberson and Jason Burns
Publisher: Diamond Back Distributors
Release Date: May 7, 2013

I have been privileged to receive an early edition of the first in an upcoming comic book series to be released by the creators of Sesame Street called "I is for Imagination." 
Mom Says: 
From its inception, Sesame Street's mission has been to provide our children with education and entertainment. The first strip in this comic book does exactly that. Elmo is sad because he does not have "real" superpowers such as the ability to fly. Yet, Grover teaches him that the power to be a superhero lies in one's heart through every day accomplishments such as helping someone cross the street or opening the door for someone. This first segment of the book stays true to Sesame Street's goals and the expectations we have.
The second strip does not have an overt "message" like the first one did. The Cookie Monster is gazing at the moon and imagines it is a cookie which he can dunk in the Milky Way Galaxy. While there is no clear message here, this strip stills shows the concept of imagination, which is the actual title and purpose of the book. 
The third and final strip of this edition is a little disappointing. It features Oscar the Grouch's musings about how much he loves trash. There is no message nor is there any use of imagination here. Also, the way Oscar the Grouch is drawn seems to be a bit darker than he usually appears, almost like how the Batman comics are drawn. Some parts of it are funny however, especially when you look closely at the details, such as how the Grouch family dog looks exactly like Oscar, but in dog form, and for "Grumpsgiving", the family eats "Yuckberry Pie."  Compared to the first two, this segment is anti-climactic and I felt does not live up to what Sesame Street has sought out to accomplish.  

Kid Says:
Then there is the verdict of my 4 year old son, whose opinion matters most of all.  He was engaged in the first story with Elmo and enjoyed the illustrations. He enjoyed identifying the acts of heroism shown in the last few slides, such as a school crossing guard helping children crossing the street and a lady helping an elderly man. After this strip, however, he was not impressed. The last 2 stories did not hold his attention.  
So what's the verdict? Bookshelf, Library Bag, or Donation Box?
I would go with Library Bag. The first two stories made it a worthwhile read for me, while only the first story did make the book a worthwhile read for my son. I am looking forward to seeing the next comic books to be released by Sesame Street.

*Review edition was awarded by

Literary Links: March 17th Edition

The next best thing to reading an actual book

Thinking Like Sherlock Holmes  Wouldn't it be amazing to be able to cultivate a mind like one of the greatest literary geniuses of all time?

Bankers' New Clothes  I think big banks are essential for the economy.  But it's always interesting to get another perspective.  See what this author has to say.

50 Shades of Grey Porn Film Lawsuit Settled  Apparently, someone felt violated. 

Happy St. Patrick's Day!   Irish Art Center set to donate 7,500 books throughout New York City on St. Patrick's Day.  This is a fabulous way to celebrate in my "book."

Courtesy of