Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bookshelf, Library Bag or Donation Box - Quick and Dirty

In Bookshelf, Library Bag or Donation Box, our Tators give their verdict on the books they read, whether they're keepers for the shelves, ones you borrow from your local library, or just give to your local used bookstore.

This novel tells the story of four very different Malaysians who come to Shanghai in search of a better life. Some of the stories were more interesting than others. I applaud Aw in this; he created a character in Shanghai itself. The city itself became the most interesting "person." I think some of the stories could have been fleshed out a bit, and a few times I wasn't sure if the characters were using a past narrative or one in the present day. All in all, it just wasn't enough to make it a keeper for me. However, I'm interested in reading Aw's previous works.


Library Bag

*Received from

Joseph Berkley is a rare manuscript dealer who is hired by an anonymous buyer who commissions him to find and purchase Bram Stoker's manuscript and bring it to Romania. As a book lover, I enjoyed the process Prouty explains on manuscript authentication, and the history of Stoker writing the book was illuminating. Prouty's descriptions are very illustrative; I saw Transylvania and the buildings the character entered. However, Joseph as a character is weak. I didn't relate to him at all, and the climax of the book seems a bit contrived and lacking the horror that it is supposed to have. 


Library Bag

*Received from LibraryThing as part of their Early Reviewers program

The story of a man and his relationships, Nate is the son of Jewish immigrants, a Harvard graduate, who is now a writer living in Brooklyn. And, he doesn't let you forget it. He repeats all this over and over again. I had a friend tell me once he couldn't be nice to his girlfriend at the time because she would "start to expect it." Nate never vocalizes this, but he thinks it deep down, and it shows in the majority of his actions towards the women in his life. I was disappointed, since the beginning of the novel states, "he's was a product of a postfeminist 1980s childhood and politically correct, 1990s college education." I never saw evidence of this.


Donation Box

*Received from LibraryThing as part of their Early Reviewers program

Graphic By Nature at San Diego Comic-Con

Hello dear readers! We know it's not quite time for Graphic By Nature -- that's next week -- but this news it too exciting not to share. I'm at San Diego Comic-Con this week! It's my very first time (but hopefully not the last).

I'm finally here!
Source: Heather Varanini
Follow me on Twitter @heather__ilene as I share my experience; I'll be using #SDCC to denote my con-related tweets.

If you have any tips or suggestions for my first SDCC, please write to me on Twitter or leave a comment.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Book Association

In this month's Book Association we're linking our Goodreads group book of the month The Phantom of the Opera with other titles that fit with some different themes. This week's theme is French literature. Now, I think we can all name works by Flaubert, Hugo, Dumas, or even Camus, but how about some lesser known French titles.

I admit, the most I know about this one is it's the source material for Cruel Intentions, a movie from the late 90's starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillippe as salaciously scheming step siblings. However horrible you may have found the movie, the underlying plot is pretty scandalous. I might need to move this title up my TBR list. 

The protagonist of this short adventure novel, Candide, goes from one venture to another as Voltaire uses him and his escapades to illustrate scathing satire of the period's current events. 

In society after Napoleon's Waterloo, Julien is trying to rise above his station by embracing the hypocrisy by which French society operated at the time. Another exercise in satire, this novel also is full of romance, drama, intrigue, class disputes and so much more. 

What are some of your favorite French novels?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tator Tuesdays

Every week we ask our Tators bookish questions. This week's question is:

What is your all-time favorite quote?


"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." 
-F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby


 I don’t have one but a quote that’s been resonating with me lately is Mary
McCarthy’s “We are the hero of our own story.”

Hundreds. None of them jump to my mind. I love how authors can put shit together.

In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro.

(Everywhere I have sought peace and not found it, except in a corner with a book.)” 
Thomas à Kempis

Since you embrace this indiscriminate vice, 
Your friendship comes at far too cheap a price;
I spurn the easy tribute of a heart
Which will not set the worthy man apart:
I choose, Sir, to be chosen; and in fine,
The friend of mankind is no friend of mine.”
- Alceste from The Misanthrope

What's your favorite bookish quote?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bookshelf, Library Bag, or Donation Box

In Bookshelf, Library Bag, or Donation Box, our Tators give their verdict on the books they read, whether they're keepers for the shelves, one you borrow from your local library, or just give to your local used bookstore.

Photo credit: Penguin USA
The story begins by following the lives of an unsuspecting man waiting in an airport, Wil Parke, and a young street hustler named Emily Ruff. There's been an incident in the rural Australian town of Broken Hill, where the entire population of thousands have been wiped out. Rumor has it that only one man walked away: the outlier.

At first blush, Lexicon is a novel about the power of words -- the way in which they can be wielded to control people. But not just anyone can use their powers of observation and persuasion this way; only a select few who are admitted into a secret school focused on teaching students to hone their skills through the study of classic literature, psychology, and linguistics even have a chance. They must spend many years of rigorous study, discipline, and constant testing to become masters. The masters of words are called Poets and are named after famous authors like T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, and Emily Brontë. Some work for the school while others work for organizations related to the school but the details of the organization's purpose and true function are unclear.

Lexicon makes for a good summer read. Partly because of the love story, which is the real pulse of the novel, and  the importance of love in our lives -- how it keeps us human. Also, the book is well-paced and most will churn through its 400 pages quickly. There's a nice mix of adventure and introspection that keep the story moving.

With that being said, the novel had a few problems. In Lexicon, words and phrases are means of control and persuasion over others. It was disappointing to discover that these words were just a mishmash of letters -- made up words and phrases. I was expecting something more than that, especially from a book filled with clever nods to classic works and authors. Another factor that made Lexicon a borrow, rather than buy, type of book was that it was difficult to follow, especially in regards to the dialogue in the last third of the book. Often, the dialogue wasn't linear in the typical "person A speaks" then "person B speaks" fashion and made it difficult to distinguish who was saying or thinking what.

If you're looking for a smart, fast-paced summer read with a hint of science fiction, this book is for you. 

Verdict: Library Bag

Learn more about Max Barry and his other books at his websitelike him on Facebookfollow him on Twitter. If you're interested in politics and/or international relations, check out NationStates.

*A copy of Max Barry's Lexicon was provided by the publisher via

LitStarter: Bringing You the Best in Bookish Projects

Welcome to another installment of LitStarter! This is a regular look at some of my favorite projects I discovered through two popular crowd funding websites: Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The featured projects will be related to literature and comics, but not limited to publishing or writing projects.

In the Country of the Blind: A Novel of Suspense is actor-turned-novelist Matthew Arkin's first attempt at creating the type of novel he's loved his whole life. Arkin is a voracious reader of suspense novels series. The first book in his series, In the Country of the Blind, is finished. You can read a short excerpt of the book here or check out the first five chapters by clicking here. He's asking for money in order to fund manuscript review and editing; custom design for the interior and cover; publishing; and Kickstarter rewards. 

Whenever I visit a Kickstarter page, I try to learn as much about the project as possible. And this includes watching the video. Thus far, it's safe to say I've seen a lot of videos and most of them are terrible. It's always disappointing when I discover a great project only to see that the posted video detracts from the great ideas or work someone is doing. That's not the case here. Arkin's video is funny and engaging -- definitely worth the watch. His enthusiasm is contagious and his story is one that many readers can respect.

There are only a few days left to support In the Country of the Blind: A Novel of Suspense. Rewards range from an eCard to a bookmark to a copy of the completed novel at the lower tiers and hardcover copies, a visit to your book club, as well as the option to name a minor character in the upcoming novel are available at higher tiers.

I highly recommend visiting Arkin's Kickstarter page and checking out the project for yourself. Let's support fellow readers-turned-writers! 

You can learn more about Matthew Arkin on his website, follow him on Twitter or Facebook

This Week in Literature

July is "Read an Almanac Month!"
July 14th-20th 

14 - 
15 - First item sells on, 1995
16 - Ida B. Wells is born, 1862
        Theodore Geisel published his first cartoon as Dr. Seuss, 1927
        J.D. Salinger's first and only novel, The Catcher in the Rye, was published, 1951
17 - Jack Kerouac goes on his first cross-country road trip, 1947
18 - Hunter S. Thompson is born, 1937
19 - Children's author John Newbery is born, 1713
        Herman Bahr is born, 1863
20 - Cormac McCarthy is born, 1933