Saturday, March 30, 2013

Classical Clairvoyance

A la Sunday football pre-game shows, we gathered the Tators to find out what books they think are going to win for July's book poll. The category is traditional, which for our criteria means prior to 1910. 

The choices are:
The Scarlet Letter  
The Phantom of the Opera
Thérèse Raquin
The Red Badge of Courage 
The Island of Dr. Moreau

Here's our Tators' weigh ins: 

Angie: The Scarlet Letter

Laura: The Phantom of the Opera

Jeane: The Phantom of the Opera

Karena: The Phantom of the Opera

Jared: The Scarlet Letter

Who do you think is going to make the cut? Add your guess, then go vote!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Fridays @ the Forums: March 29th

Here's what's happening on our Goodreads forums. We're in the last few days of reading Sherlock Holmes stories. Monday we start Brave New World

SF Meet & Greet - We are officially going to be in San Francisco to check out a few bookstores for our new podcast segments "CWAtC on the Go." If you can make it, we'll be at the downtown branch of the SF Public Library at 3:45pm (PST). If you cannot make it, that's ok as well because we will be doing a Google + Hangout at 4pm (PST). Please RSVP on the forums if you plan on joining us and follow us on Google+ for the invite.
Source: Apple Maps

June Book Selection- The poll closed today. Looks like Solaris is the winner after a really close race to the finish. This weekend we'll open July's poll in the pre 1910 category.

Virtual Book Discussion - Speaking of polls, we want to see if anyone is interested in doing a virtual book discussion at the end of each month on Google+. Vote now!

Historical Fiction Help! - Booktator Karena is looking for fictional accounts of the lives of famous authors. Help a Tator out?

Books for Future Consideration - Have a book that's been published after 2003 and think it may be a future classic? Share it here!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Review: The Berenstain Bears Easter Magic


In honor of Children's Picture Book Day I reviewed was "The Berenstain Bears Easter Magic."  The e-book is approximately 8 pages and the physical board book is said to be 10 pages, which can be a good thing if your toddler doesn't have have much of an attention span at the moment yet you want to read to him or her before bedtime.

Mom Says:
The book, by Jan and Stan Berenstain, features Brother Bear and Sister Bear. It takes the reader through a short journey as winter turns to spring and Easter then begins. I found the content to be very endearing with the cute rhymes and adorable illustrations it contains. No, this short story did not contain any moral or lesson, but I did feel it to be a good introduction for my son to the Berenstain Bears books and possibly TV shows. 

Kid Says:
Yes, it was short, but it did maintain my son's attention which I was grateful for! The rhymes caught his attention and he enjoyed the bright and colorful illustrations typical to The Berenstain Bear books. This was his first introduction to The Berenstain Bears and he took such a liking to the illustrations and the rhymes. He expressed that he would like us to read more of their books together.

The Verdict
Bookshelf: It was very short in content, so if you are looking for something more lengthy, this would not be an ideal book. I give it a Bookshelf rating, however, and I encourage parents to give it a chance since it did spark my son's interest in reading more of the Berenstain Bear books together and it may spark your child's interest as well.  Isn't this the goal of a children's book?

*Reviewer was provided with a free copy from*

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Book Association: Sherlock Holmes - Part 4

In our last week of Sherlock-themed Book Association, we're looking at Victorian mystery novels.

The MoonstoneThe Moonstone - Romance, theft, murder? Sounds like a great time in Victorian England. Oh, and there are jugglers? I'm in twice!

Lady Audley's SecretLady Audley's Secret - Braddon was Wilkie Collins's rival in the art of the sensation novel. And her heroine in this novel, Lady Audley, was no slouch either: a protest against the usual heroines of the era.   

The Mystery of Edwin DroodThe Mystery of Edwin Drood - Dickens died before completing this novel about a man who goes missing, mysteriously (does anyone go missing, non mysteriously?), leaving readers to finish the story themselves.

The Eustace DiamondsThe Eustace Diamonds - The third book of the Palliser series, Lizzie comes into possession of a diamond necklace of great worth that everyone wants her to get rid of and she goes to great lengths to keep.   

Next week we start our month of Brave New World Book Associations, as well as a special Shakespeare week!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Meet-a-Tator Tuesday: Jeane

We have come to the last two weeks of our Meet-a-Tator series.. When she isn't fighting schoolwork in the battle for her Master's degree and juggling her family's active lifestyle, Jeane is the first half of your Booktator team and a third of your podcasting hosts as well as the co-founder of CWAtC. 

Jeane, the Fabulous

Title: Book-tator? Mother? Student? Co-founder? 

Fave books/authors/genre: My favorite books include the Wheel of Time series, and Pride and Prejudice, but mostly any kick ass female protagonist book is awesome! Favorite Authors include Robert Jordan (r.i.p.), Brandon Sanderson, Barbara Kingsolver, and Christopher Moore.

Tell us about yourself: I am a total geek, I LOVE all things geeky like comic books, sci-fi & fantasy shows/movies/books, anime, and all the other geeky types of things. I am also a literature nerd! My biggest passion in life is books. I just received my BA in literature and my plan is to get my Masters in Library Sciences and become a librarian.

I love to read books with lots of action in them! But also funny books (but not gross) and science fiction and fantasy. But I will read anything and I am always willing to give something new a chance.

Good fiction creates empathy. A novel takes you somewhere and asks you to look through the eyes of another person, to live another life.

-Barbara Kingsolver

Monday, March 25, 2013

Literary Loot

So, this weekend, I went to the Friends of the Library at the Downtown branch of the Santa Cruz Public Library and picked up some literary loot. I actually was only there for one book in particular. My husband has resorted to faux subliminal messages (e.g. whispering the title at me every time I walk past him), so I figured I'd at least buy it. Let's see if it buys me some time. The book is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I am not sure I have the time to read it right now, but eventually I'm sure I'll try it. 

I left the library without Atlas Shrugged, but I did get a few treasures: A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Woman in White, Slaughterhouse-Five, Never Let Me Go, Lord of the Flies, and A Mad Desire to Dance (an Elie Wiesel book I'd never even heard of). Not to be defeated, I took my family down the street to Bookstore Santa Cruz where I picked up my copy of Atlas Shrugged, and then, because I couldn't help myself, To Kill a Mockingbird, which I was shocked to realize I didn't own and Wolf Hallbecause I love historical fiction revolving around the Tudors. 

Source: Karena Fagan
I'm also in the process of cleaning up my bookshelves: getting rid of those books that I bought in my early twenties that were of no substance, "books of the hour" (Ruskin, 1891), instead of "books for all time." Granted, I'm keeping a couple series that mean a lot to me, my favorite escapism books, but the majority I decided to swap out for those books that never go out of style, the stories that challenge us. I wrote on Sunday about breaking up with an author. This is part of that. That author takes up a good shelf and half, with one row of books in front of another. So these latest finds will take the place of those that are merely taking up shelf space. I'll donate what I can, see if some of the used bookstores will buy some, and then the rest usually go to my mom so she can sort through them and use them at her bookstore. 

I'm not saying I'm not buying "books of the hour." They're just going on my Kindle app, saving my shelves for these gems that I can pass down to my kids. I have a lot of work to do. 

What literary loot did you dig up this weekend? Any shelf cleaning? 

Literary Links: March 25th Edition

The next best thing to reading an actual book.

A New Author's Dream  How would you react if Oprah selected your book for her book club? 

Reagan's Daughter Writes A Book  And it's a surprising genre. 

Price Drop!   Amazon permanently drops price on Kindle Fire HD.

Comic Book Convention  All characters welcome! 

Courtesy of Google Images! 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Review: Closet Full of Coke: A Diary of a Teenage Drug Queen

"Mesc: A misnomer for tiny, hallucinogenic, purple pills. Mesc is short for the word mescaline, a reference to peyote cactus. The pills do not contain peyote. They are made from low-potency LSD and fillers.
Buy: A wholesale purchase of drugs by a drug dealer." (Page 1)

This is only page one of Closet Full of Coke by Indra Sena. Right away the readers see they are about to be witness to a world that they may find disturbing. It is about a child who is also a drug lord surrounded by pimps, teenage prostitutes, and drug users, one of which is her own father. In many ways, she was a typical teenage who liked to get dressed up, have fun with friends, and fall in love; however, she is also the equivalent of a Street CEO in that she runs her own lucrative drug cartel. Indra for me was like a cross between Bella and Scarface.

Almost every chapter begins with a definition of a word relating to drug slang which further underscores the fact that this book is about a world that would appall most people and a child is directly in the center of it.

Indra hooks the reader instantly and maintains this pace throughout the book. I can say there was not one page when I was bored or disinterested which made it a quick read for me.
There are moments I actually became frustrated with Indra.
For example, being in jail was tougher for her than living the life of a drug dealer, even though she feared for her life on the "outside" on a daily basis. She takes the reader through her misery and embarrassment while imprisoned.

“Excuse me, officer,” I called out, “I’m having my period, and I need a tampon.” “Yeah, right,” she called back". (Page 209) Indra sat there for at least 6 hours with her underwear wet with blood.

Upon release, she had opportunity to start over. Her father provided her with a job sifting through dirt, testing it for a construction project. She says that this job "humiliated" her. When she was actively a drug dealer, her nails were manicured, but now they are filled with dirt. I was surprised that she was so humiliated over working a legitimate job, especially after having come out of prison in which she experienced what one would think was a greater degree of embarrassment.

It seems dirt in her nails would be a welcome change.  There are times I thought, "why why don't you listen or take this way out?" The reader witnesses as she ignores her instincts, ignores good advice from those who do care about her, and throws away an opportunity at a second chance when she got out of jail.

You then realize this is a diary and her journey is going to take place no matter how much you want to jump through the pages and shake sense into her. Indra simply tells her story stating what happened without any filter, regret,or any judgment upon herself.

Overall, I did feel a great deal of sympathy for her, especially considering how she was treated by her parents. For instance, her mother left Indra and her younger sister to live by themselves so that she can live with her boyfriend who does not like children. Indra then describes her father's unconventional reaction when she reveals she is a drug dealer. "I laid lines out on my kitchen table with a razor and handed him the straw. My father’s face remained solemn. He simply took the metal straw from me, his slanted eyes oblique. 'You’re selling this now?' He snorted the line, 'how much?' (page 58)

My heart breaks for her at how her parents were not a source of strength and guidance which clearly led her on this destructive path in life.

My main criticism of the book is that it is really in need of an epilogue. An update on the characters in her diary and especially on Indra would have made the book more complete. The author does have an update on her web site of some of the characters in the book, which did provide me with the closure I needed from her story.

Bookshelf. "Closet Full of Coke" is a fascinating, brutally honest story of being a teenage drug dealer in the 1980's. It was so honest and uncensored, I felt as if I was looking through a neighbor's window but couldn't look away.

Literary Links: March 24th Edition

The next best thing to reading an actual book.

Interview on NPR with Therese Ann Fowler  Author of "Z" who tells the story of the Fitzgeralds from Zelda's point of view.

Reading the Riot Act  Nation's reading habits cause worry.  The statistics across different countries are interesting.

Pope's New Book Pope Francis's new book to get first English translation. 

Life After Life Jill McCorkle's first book in 17 years examines self discovery at any age.

Courtesy of Google Images