Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Sunday Salon... Scholarly Women Heroines and Other Bookish Finds

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! Grab a cup of joe and relax. If you are living on the east coast, then you've been snow bound this week like me, and in between shoveling out, maybe you've managed a little time for bookish pursuits. It was a slow week at Chick with Books this week trying to recover from the weather, which was a record breaking 24 plus inches of snow! (and I heard on the news that all but a handful of states got snow this week!) but I did manage to find some great books to curl up with...


A book I came across this week was A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. First of all how can you not love an author who while at college researched the history of magic and science during such an interesting period of time- 1500 thru 1700?! And used her education, she now teaches European history and history of science at the University of Southern California in L.A., to create a heroine that is both a scholar and a witch? Throw in a handsome 1500 year old Vampire and an ancient mystery and I'm hooked. That the beginning of the story finds our heroine Diana in a beautiful old library doesn't hurt either, because I love old libraries myself. Here's the blurb from the publishers about the book...

When historian Diana Bishop opens a bewitched alchemical manuscript in Oxford’s Bodleian Library it represents an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordinary life. Though descended from a long line of witches, she is determined to remain untouched by her family’s legacy. She banishes the manuscript to the stacks, but Diana finds it impossible to hold the world of magic at bay any longer. For witches are not the only otherworldly creatures living alongside humans. There are also creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires who become interested in the witch’s discovery. They believe that the manuscript contains important clues about the past and the future, and want to know how Diana Bishop has been able to get her hands on the elusive volume.

A Discovery of Witches is scheduled for a Feb. 8th release date and it's definitely on my wish list. It's gotten a lot of great buzz from early reviewers too!

Another scholarly heroine is Anna Bennett from Night Waking by Sarah Moss. What really drew me to this book was the idea of the Anne Bennett, the protagonist, finding letters written 200 years before that slowly unravel the mysteries that abound in the story, AND that somehow the lives of the Anne and the letter writer will intersect. Here's how the publisher describes the book...

Historian Anna Bennett has a book to write. She also has an insomniac toddler, a precocious, death-obsessed seven-year-old, and a frequently absent ecologist husband who has brought them all to Colsay, a desolate island in the Hebrides, so he can count the puffins. Ferociously sleep-deprived, torn between mothering and her desire for the pleasures of work and solitude, Anna becomes haunted by the discovery of a baby's skeleton in the garden of their house. Her narrative is punctuated by letters home, written 200 years before, by May, a young, middle-class midwife desperately trying to introduce modern medicine to the suspicious, insular islanders. The lives of these two characters intersect unexpectedly in this deeply moving but also at times blackly funny story about maternal ambivalence, the way we try to control children, and about women's vexed and passionate relationship with work.

This book is coming the beginning of February, but to the UK first. Easy to order from The Book Depository if you are in the US, and shipping is always free!

This week I read about how it was the first time in 11 years that the TODAY SHOW did not interview the winners of the Caldecott and Newbery Award winners after the awards were announced. And to add insult to injury, it was Snooki, the Jersey Shore reality TV star that was interviewed instead. Well, librarian Betsy Bird and author James Kennedy are launching a fun contest as a result of the slight - it's called the 90-second Newbery! Anyone can enter the contest, the rules are pretty simple and basically are make a 90 second video about the story of any Newbery award winning book. It's meant to be fun, creative and highlight the great books that have won the award. You can find all the details about the contest at James Kennedy's website, and find a great example of a 90-second video of A Wrinkle in Time. You can read about what Publisher's Weekly wrote about the Today Show Snub at publishersweekly.com. While I was at James Kennedy's website, I came across his YA book, The Order of Odd-Fish, that seemed like such a fun read, and what maybe Monty Python might write for children. Here's the blurb from James' website...

The Order of Odd-Fish by James Kennedy... Jo Larouche has lived her thirteen years in the California desert with her Aunt Lily, a faded Hollywood starlet, ever since she found in Lily’s laundry room with this note pinned to her blankets: This is Jo. Please take care of her. But beware. This is a DANGEROUS baby. Up until this point, Jo has been, as Aunt Lily puts it, “as dangerous as a glass of milk.” But all that’s about to change. At Lily’s annual Christmas costume party, several strange things happen: a boy in a hedgehog shoots an elderly Russian colonel; a talking cockroach is found tied up in the basement, moaning about how this will play in the tabloid press; and a box falls from the sky, addressed to Jo from “The Order of Odd-Fish.” Soon, worsening circumstances lead Jo and Lily out of California forever—and into the mysterious, strange, fantastical world of Eldritch City. There, Jo learns the scandalous truth about who she is, and she and Lily join the Order of Odd-Fish, a colorful collection of knights who research useless information. Glamorous cockroach butlers, impossible quests, obsolete weapons and bizarre festivals fill their days, but Jo’s dream turns to nightmare when she learns that instead of a hero of Eldritch City, she may in fact become its destroyer. By the novel’s wrenching climax, Jo comes to understand who she truly is—and what it means to call a city home.

How can you go wrong with a talking cockroach and the promise of a world that is sure to entertain us! This is going on my wishlist now!

Some Great Kindle News! My bookish friend Michele, emailed me this week with news of the Kindle Book Lending Program. Yes, that's right, now some Kindle Books are lendable, depending on if the publisher enabled the lending feature of the book. You can lend your Kindle book to anyone with a Kindle or a Kindle Reading App for PC, Mac, iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices. You can get all the details at Lending Kindle Books on the Kindle Help page. BTW, Kindle Books can be lent for 14 days. Has anyone done this yet?! I'm curious how easy it is. It really makes buying Kindle Books even better when you can lend them to your friends just like passing around that great paperback!

Here's a Recap of this past weeks blog... I reviewed Brody's Ghost by Mark Crilley as part of the Graphic Novels Challenge 2011. It is a slim book, and the first book in a six book series, but it's a great introduction to the series and to the wonderful artwork of Mark Crilley. There is such amazing detail in the scenes that accompany the text, it's almost worth getting Brody's Ghost for the art. If you missed my review, here's the link to Brody's Ghost Review. Mark Twain made a splash in the news this week, as Twain scholar Adam Gribben's announcement of his intentions to edit The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, that is taking out the "n" word, which appears 219 times, and replacing it with "slave". It created heated debates throughout the internet. Read my take on it in Rewriting History One Word at a Time. And share what you think! I'd love to hear more thoughts on this type of editing. And this weeks First Lines was from It Happened One Night by Lydia Dare. It's been a while since I've chatted about romance, but colder weather always makes me want to heat things up a bit. I'll be reviewing Lydia Dares book next month, but in the meantime you can read the First Lines if you missed them and let me tell you it's about a centuries old ghost who is trapped and haunting an abandoned Scottish castle and the modern day woman who may be just the one to release him!

So, how was your week? What books have you been reading, or spotted in your bookish travels?! Share them here, I'd love to hear about them! And in the meantime have a great week! I hope you are shoveled out!

Happy reading... Suzanne

13 comments:

Esme said...

That is a plus that certain books can be borrowed-can they only be borrowed on a Kindle or other ereaders.

Suzanne said...

Hi Esme,
The Kindle books can be borrowed only on Kindle type devices, which means anything that you can put the Kindle Application on or another Kindle. It's great though if a friend doesn't have a Kindle or iPhone, because basically most people have a computer and you can download a free Kindle app for either a PC or a Mac.

mel u said...

When I hear your comments about snow it makes me sometimes wish we had some seasonal variance in the weather in the Philippines-you had an interesting reading week-this week I got into Zola a bit-Zola is not a staid dull writer from 100 years ago!

Mason Canyon said...

We didn't have as much snow as you, but we had so much more than we are use to and some of it is still here a week later. You always feature such a vast array of books on your Sunday Salon. A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES looks intriguing.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Suzanne said...

Hi Mel,
I would love to share some of this snow with you! :-) But I guess if I never saw snow again I really might miss it- it is so pretty just after a snow storm when it's layered heavy in the trees.

Zola! I am always impressed with your reading choices. I have always wanted to read The Masterpiece by Emile Zola... have you read it? As a once Art History major, I thought it sounded intriguing!

Suzanne said...

Hi Mason!
I was saying the same thing to Dar about not getting as much snow as her last week and bammo, we got just as much this snow storm! The snow fairies must have thought I was jealous! :-)

And The Discovery of Witches is suppose to be fantastic. One reviewer said it was a part Dan Brown, Charlaine Harris and a touch of Diana Gabaldon! When the reviewer mentioned Diana Gabaldon I was sold sight unseen.

Jonita said...

I'm so jealous about your snow days! We've been getting ridiculous amounts of snow in Ontario, Canada on and off, but no snow days :( Even though there should have been some snow days, our valiant ploughs have been working hard to keep us mobile. There's nothing like a deliciously unexpected days off work and school, though!

Dusky Literati said...

What a great review for A Discovery of Witches. I will definitely be purchasing and reading this in February.

James Kennedy said...

Thanks for the shout-out for The Order of Odd-Fish! Do you think you'll make something for the 90-Second Newbery? Anyone can enter!

Suzanne said...

Hi Jonita!
I'm surprised you haven't had as much snow either! Although I bet you've had much colder days! And yes, it's always fun to have snow days!

Hi Dusky!
I thought A Discover of Witches sounded great too! Kind of like a Harry Potter for adults. AND I heard that it's going to be a trilogy!

Suzanne said...

Hi James!
Thanks for stopping by! I won't be making any videos anytime soon, BUT I am going to read The Order of Odd-Fish! BOTH sound like fun! I can't wait to see what entries come in for the 90 -Second Newbery! I LOVED the one for A Wrinkle in Time!

snazal said...

This is a good read.

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