Saturday, April 20, 2013

Meet-a-Tator (But not on Tuesday): Heather

We'd like to introduce you to our newest Tator, Heather! She's our first addition that isn't a Tator on the forums. I hope you welcome her with open pages! We are thrilled to have her!


Title: ContribuTator

Fave books/authors/genre: A few of my favorite books include: The Master and the Margarita, No Exit , The Stranger, How Soccer Explains the World, Bird by Bird, And Then There Were None.

While I’ll read anything, I’ve always loved fiction -- and I have a special place in my heart for murder mysteries. There’s something about reading a suspenseful book under the covers late at night and tentatively turning the pages while your heart races that I’m a bit addicted to.

Tell us about yourself:  I’m a bibliophile at heart. I started reading before I began school and haven’t stopped. I studied Politics and Latin American and Latino Studies in college -- two things I’m very passionate about. I love to cook and spend time with my family; I’m married and we have a rambunctious Boston Terrier named Bodie. I’m also deeply dedicated to making a positive change in the world, which is why I applied to law school.

A few things you may not know? I love weird, non-superhero comic books (e.g. Chew, JTHM), punk music, and professional wrestling.

Twitter: Heather__Ilene (that’s two underscores!)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday @ the Forums

Tax season is officially over so we've seen a little bit of activity pick up at the forums. Here's what's going on!

GameTator Laura has this burning question: Suppose our tax refunds actually came in the form of a gift card good for one book. What book would you get? Answer it here in A Man For All Tax Seasons

Finished Brave New World yet? Give your review in Bookshelf, Library Bag or Donation Box

We also have a new game with Alphabet Serial

If you're an author and want to promote your work, please do so in the new Self Promotion thread. 

Source: Jared Fagan

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Books, Inc.

After our meet and greet with Heather at the library, she took us to Books, Inc, the oldest booksellers in the West. We didn't get to take our group photo, but here are some other great shots.

Source: Jared Fagan
This was the Van Ness location in Opera Plaza. 

Source: Jared Fagan
 A few of the selections we'll probably read in our group! See any favorites?

Source: Jared Fagan
I should have grabbed this book, Secret Lives of Great Authors. It had some fun facts about some of our favorite writers!

Wild @ Heart with YA Lit

As a regular reader of Young Adult Literature, I often hear there is little value in it for adults. However, I strongly disagree. Although some of the popular motifs, like love triangles, can be tiresome, there is a great deal of YA literature with complicated story lines and themes that adults, as well as teens, can learn from. 

One reason I choose to read YA Literature is that they are often quick reads with modern plots. This category is great for staying up to date with modern references to music, television, and technology. Another reason I read novels directed at teens is there are many current novels about dystopian societies, which often draw my interest. Finally, I read YA Literature to remind myself of what it is like to be a teenager. Life is different for teens today than when I was younger. I think it is important to be able to remain sympathetic to the complicated nature of teen life, and not to become too distant from those years. For, when you forget what it is like to be young, you truly begin to be old. Reading YA Literature ensures that I remain wild at heart.

A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness, was inspired by an original idea by Siobhan Dowd, author of award winning novels, A Swift Pure Cry, The London Eye Mystery, and Bog Child. Dowd died of breast cancer in 2007, before completing A Monster Calls, a novel about a young boy named Conor who is dealing with his mother's battle with terminal cancer. Patrick Ness was invited by Dowd and her editor to finish this short story posthumously. Since it's publication, A Monster Calls has won multiple awards, including the Carnegie Medal, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) prize, and the Galaxy National Award. 

A Monster Calls is part graphic novel, part children's book, and a complex story about death and loss. The artwork in the book, illustrated by Jim Kay, is amazing and adds a deep layer to the story. I was literally able to visualize the terrifying monster, a living yew tree that visits Conor and tells him he will have to listen to three stories and then tell his own, a story that Conor dreads speaking aloud. Due to Ness' excellent ability to paint emotions with words, I was able to feel everything that Conor feels: his sadness, fear, and anger.

As I have in other Ness novels, I closed this book with puffy, wet eyes, glad it was over, but wishing there was more. Ness has an amazing ability of building up hope for happy endings and then reminding you that life doesn't always have happy endings - which is one of the themes in this book.

I highly recommend this book, as well as anything else Ness and Dowd have written. However, read with caution. There is much to hope for, but, like in real life, we don't always get what we want, and the lessons we learn as we deal with loss are often hard to swallow.

The Verdicts

Bookshelf: I recommend this book on a weekly basis. It is amazing, and I keep it displayed on a shelf in my living room. Every time someone comes to my house, they see that book and question me about the artwork and the novel. My response is the same every time: Read it. It is amazing. But, fair warning, keep tissues nearby...

Adult Value: Although this book is written for youth, anyone can relate to the theme of death and loss. Each of us has lost someone or something valuable to us. A Monster Calls reminds us, even as adults, that we cannot control everything. Rather than feeling guilty about what we could have done, or should have done, we should focus on what we will do in order to move on, past our losses, and have a positive and successful future.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Our third stop was to Borderlands, a San Francisco staple if you're looking for Sci-fi, Fantasy and Horror!
Source: Jared Fagan

I battled Jeane for Solaris. Really, I beat her to it and handed it over. Remember, short but fiesty!

Source: Jared Fagan
Fun place to go to hang out with coffee and the latest George R.R. Martin.

Source: Jared Fagan
A very streamlined look.

Book Association: Brave New World - Shakespeare

In addition to reading Brave New World, we decided to offer an optional read for Shakespeare's sonnets and plays. We originally did it because it's the Bard's birthday this month, but strangely enough it turns out that his works are quoted constantly in BNW. So, Bill himself will be our theme this week with some of his works that were mentioned in BNW.

Troilus and Cressida - Shakespeare's darker version of Romeo and Juliet follows two Trojans who fall in love during the War.

Timon of Athens - A tale of rich young man who spends his money on his friends and when he subsequently becomes impoverished, he starts to despise humanity. Not touted as one of the Bard's finest, but worth checking out.

King John - Whenever I think King John, I think of the lion from Disney's Robin Hood. Not fair, but there it is. One of the Bard's lesser recognized plays, this one is said to lack the drama he usually inspires.

A Midsummer Night's Dream - Ok I have to admit, I added this one due to the fact it's my favorite out of the plays I have read and seen by Shakespeare. Is it Puck and his shenanigans ? Nick Bottom running around with a donkey's head while Titania moons over him? All of it!

The Tempest - The very title of Brave New World comes from this play. It's ironic, comparing the experiences of Miranda when she sees people for the first time (The Tempest) with plight of John  (BNW) once he reaches "civilization."

O wonder!

How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in't. 
 Act V, Scene I, ll. 203–206

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

City Lights Bookseller

We made our way to City Lights which is one of the most prolific bookstores in the city as it had a hand in the city's Beat Movement. We loved it!

Source: Jared Fagan
Down in the basement!
Source: Jared Fagan

The iconic front windows!
Source: Jared Fagan
The main floor.
Source: Jared Fagan 
Up to the Poetry Room where they keep the Ginsbergs, Burroughs and Kerouacs among others.

Tator Tuesdays

Last week we asked our Tators the first line of the book they were currently reading. This week we're asking:  

What book had the largest impact on you as a child?  



"I can't answer that because I wasn't much of a reader then."



"I remember getting The Silver Pencil from a teacher when I was 10. It was probably the longest book I’d ever read by myself at that point."


What book had the largest impact on you as a child?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Green Apple Books

There were four bookstores on our tour and Green Apples was the first. It was really great place that made us all feel like we could kick back with a tattered paperback and hide from the rainy weather. 

Source:Jared Fagan

Hanging out at the counter!

Source: Jared Fagan

Pretty neon!
Source: Jared Fagan

We could really get lost here!

Source: Jared Fagan

Ep #10 Shakespeare and San Francisco

Source: Brandon Ess

The Tators give the details on Shelftator Angie's The Year of the Gadfly project. Jared and Karena give  a heads up on the new tv show Hannibal, then the gang shares where their bookmarks are. The Tators get together with Heather, a CWAtCer in San Francisco during their bookstore tour. Then they share their favorite poetry for National Poetry Month and share some Shakespearian insults in celebration of the Bard's birthday. The Top 10 Best Feuds in Literature wraps it all up.

Where's my Bookmark and other books we mention:

The Websites we mention:

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Literary Loot

So I decided to splurge a bit and hit our Friends of the Library Bookstore. I got a great stack of books, but only due to the fact they were getting too heavy did I stop.
Source: Karena Fagan

What literary loot did you find this weekend?

Review: Blood Between Queens

In her fifth installment of the Thornleigh series, Blood Between Queens, Barbara Kyle is once again in Queen Elizabeth's court. This time her focus is on Justine Thornleigh, ward of Richard and Honor from the first book in the series, The Queen's Lady.

Mary, Queen of Scots has fled her kingdom hoping for asylum under her cousin Elizabeth. What she receives, however, is house arrest, with Justine as her lady's maid. Unbeknownst to Mary, Justine has been put in the position as spy to Elizabeth. In addition, unbeknownst to Justine, Mary is in cahoots with Justine's father, who is believed to be dead and is a traitor to the English crown, a relationship also hidden from Justine's fiancé, Will. Justine is constantly in limbo between her loyalty to Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary, her fiancé and foster family, and her father. 

I admit, I didn't read the first four books in the series, but it mostly felt as if this could be read as a stand alone. Kyle gives the reader enough information to know what the previous stories were about, and I really didn't feel that I was missing anything. 

Even so, I felt the story ran a bit slow, and it started to read more like an historical romance, rather than historical fiction. The intrigue didn't feel, well, intriguing at first. In the latter part of the book, the pace quickened a bit and I was more interested to see what would happen. The story felt
 like there was filler that could have been cut out. Blood Between Queens read more like a book that just happened to take place during the Elizabethan era than one about Queen Elizabeth's reign, which would have been more interesting.

The Verdict

Library Bag: This will appeal to readers who like the Elizabethan era, but not to those who like stories about the actual historical individuals (like Elizabeth, Cecil, et al) to take more of a central role.

*(review based on galley received from