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Weapon of Mass Instruction

I love bookmobiles and this one is a humdinger! The Weapon of Mass Instruction. Check it out.

  

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Teaser Tuesday 5/18 The Blind Contessa's New Machine

Teaser TuesdayTeaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  1. Grab your current read
  2. Open to a random page
  3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
    BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  4. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 On the day Contessa Carolina Fantoni was married, only one other living person knew that she was going blind, and he was not her groom.

This was not because she had failed to warn them.

"I am going blind," she had blurted to her mother, in the welcome dimness of the family coach, her eyes still bright with tears from the searing winter sun. By this time, her peripheral vision was already gone. Carolina could feel her mother take her hand, but she had to turn to see her face. When she did, her mother kissed her, her own eyes full of pity.

"I have been in love, too," she said, and looked away.

-- the beginning (a little more than 2 sentences!) of The Blind Contessa's New Machine by Carey Wallace (July 2010)

 

The Blind Contessa's New MachinePublisher's summary: In the early 1800s, a young Italian contessa, Carolina Fantoni, realizes she is going blind shortly before she marries the town's most sought-after bachelor. Her parents don't believe her, nor does her fiancé.

The only one who understands is the eccentric local inventor and her longtime companion, Turri. When her eyesight dims forever, Carolina can no longer see her beloved lake or the rich hues of her own dresses. But as darkness erases her world, she discovers one place she can still see -- in her dreams. Carolina creates a vivid dreaming life, in which she can not only see, but also fly, exploring lands she had never known.

Desperate to communicate with Carolina, Turri invents a peculiar machine for her: the world's first typewriter. His gift ignites a passionate love affair that will change both of their lives forever.

Based on the true story of a nineteenth-century inventor and his innovative contraption, The Blind Contessa's New Machine is an enchanting confection of love and the triumph of the imagination.

What's your TT?

Barbara's picture

John D. MacDonald, Travis McGee, and Sunny Florida

Just got back from sunny Sarasota! We went to a wedding of our friends' son. The bride and grooming were beaming and a good time was had by all.

The Deep Blue Good-ByBeing in Sarasota reminded me of John D. MacDonald, the author of the great character, Travis McGee. I love MacDonald's Florida -- a little bit sleazy and a little bit racy storylines along with description of the gorgeous landscapes and seascapes. McGee, the salvage consultant, made his living by recovering the loot from thefts and swindles, keeping half to finance his "retirement," which he took in pieces as he went along. A latter-day capitalist Robin Hood! McGee first appeared in the 1964 novel The Deep Blue Good-by and was last seen in The Lonely Silver Rain in 1985. McGee had his trademark lodgings on his 52-foot houseboat, the Busted Flush, named for the poker hand that started the run of luck in which he won her. Wit and mystery centered in all 21-volumes of the Travis MaGee series.

I think I will read them again! 

Barbara's picture

Teaser Tuesday 5/11 My Name is Mary Sutter

Teaser TuesdayTeaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  1. Grab your current read
  2. Open to a random page
  3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
    BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
  4. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira (May 2010)

My Name id Mary Sutter"Are you Mary Sutter?" Hours had passed since James Blevens had called for the midwife. All manner of shouts and tumult drifted in from the street, and so he had answered the door to his surgery rooms with some caution, but the young woman before him made an arresting sight: taller and wider than was generally considered handsome, with an unflattering hat pinned to an unruly length of curls, though an enticing brightness about the eyes. "Mary Sutter, the midwife?" he asked.

 "Yes, I am Mary Sutter."

Publisher's summary: An enthralling historical novel about a young woman's struggle to become a doctor during the Civil War.

Like Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain and Robert Hicks's The Widow of the South, My Name Is Mary Sutter powerfully evokes the atmosphere of the period. Rich with historical detail (including marvelous depictions of Lincoln, Dorothea Dix, General McClellan, and John Hay among others), and full of the tragedies and challenges of wartime, My Name Is Mary Sutter is an exceptional novel. And in Mary herself, Robin Oliveira has created a truly unforgettable heroine whose unwavering determination and vulnerability will resonate with readers everywhere.

I will be starting this tonight so I thought I would tease myself and you with the beginning sentences. I like the "feel" of this description and the simple way Oliveira introduces her character. Direct and to the point -- "I am Mary Sutter" I think I will like Mary!

It's Tuesday, what is your teaser? 

Barbara's picture

Julie Robinson and Literary Affairs

 

Meet my friend, Julie Robinson! She runs Literary Affairs, an awesome reading group resource. Literary Affairs offers meetings with authors, conversations with experts relating to books being discussed, and even nationwide and overseas tours! The tours discover the books' settings, the authors' haunts and maybe, even, the site of the inspiration of a reading group pick. Julie takes her readers in a variety of experiences to take them Beyond the Book, in ways that are both intellectually stimulating and just plain fun. Julie leads over 30 book clubs in the Los Angeles area.

Here are Julie's upcoming  events.

Classic Literary Luncheon Series
The Victorian Novel

Friday, May 14: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Thursday, June 10: Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Series: $195 or Sign up for individual classes for $70 each
Includes discussions, lunch, and valet parking

Each luncheon will take place at the Beverly Hills Country Club from 11:30-1PM.

    The Moonstone                            

Join guest lecturer John Romano, former Assistant Professor of English at Columbia University and facilitator Julie Robinson discussed the novels. 

ABOUT JOHN ROMANO

JOHN ROMANO, a writer-producer for movies and television, was an Assistant Professor of English at Columbia. He holds a Ph.D. from Yale in English and Comparative Literature, and in 1980 published Dickens and Reality (Columbia University Press), a study of the writer's relation to 19th century Europeans such as Tolstoy, Balzac, and Flaubert, as well as nearly a hundred articles and reviews. John has also published two essays in a collection, Dickens and Film (Oxford University Press). At present he is teaching a course on the Great Books of the Western Canon in Santa Monica.

In TV, he's been a writer-producer for more than a dozen shows, from “Hill Street Blues” (Emmy nomination) and “L.A. Law” to “American Dreams,” “Party of Five,” “Third Watch,” “Monk,” “The Beast,” and (currently) “In Plain Sight,” as well as creating three network series of his own. In the movies, his writing credits include “The Third Miracle,” with Ed Harris, “Nights in Rodanthe” with Richard Gere, and the Coen Brothers’ “Intolerable Cruelty,” with George Clooney, to whom he bears a startling resemblance. He has adapted Philip Roth’s “American Pastoral,” and, most recently, Michael Connelly’s “The Lincoln Lawyer.” In recent years, John Romano has lectured on the humanities in film and television at the National Endowment for the Humanities, at Princeton and MIT, as well as writing for Newsweek on the subject of violence in the media

He has two daughters, Clarissa and Juliana, and lives in Santa Monica with his wife Nancy Forbes Romano and three severely entitled dogs.

I wish I lived in Los Angeles (well, maybe, just to attend Julie's events!)


 

Barbara's picture

BEA Welcomes Reading Groups

BookExpo America (BEA), the premiere book industry event of the year, is welcoming reading group facilitators and members. Meet authors, learn about the upcoming fall titles, and be a part of the exciting world of the book. It's a chance to get a jump on the fall season and learn about all the upcoming titles for your groups to consider. BookExpo America (BEA), the premiere book industry event of the year, is welcoming reading group facilitators and members. Meet authors, learn about the upcoming fall titles, and be a part of the exciting world of the book. It's a chance to get a jump on the fall season and learn about all the upcoming titles for your groups to consider.
 
BookExpo America will accept reading group leader and member registrations on a first-come, first-served basis with a total of 250 being accepted. BEA takes place May 25-27th in New York at the Javits Convention Center. Wednesday, May 26th is dedicated to education and special events, and there will be a panel of publishing gurus discussing fall reading group choices at 10 a.m. The show floor is open on May 26-27.

If you are coming, please let us know - we'd love to meet you and learn about your group! Please come, reading groupers and book clubbers :)

Pricing Information

Registration

Hope to see you there! 

Barbara's picture

Booking Through Thursday 5/6 Half

Booking Through ThursdayBooking Through Thursday

The question today:

"So ... you're halfway through a book and you're hating it. It's boring. It's trite. It's badly written.

But ... you've invested all this time to reading the first half.

What do you do? Read the second half? Just to finish out the story? Find out what happens?
Or, cut your losses and dump the second half?"

I used to read every book to the end whether I "hated" it or not, thinking that there is something of value in every title. Though when I finished the "hated" book, I would throw it across the room! My husband, in another room, would say, "Didn't like that one, huh?"

Since working in the book business (bookseller for 13 years and owner of Reading Group Choices for 6 years), I have had to edit my reading criteria. I don't have the time to read a book completely, if I don't really love it.

But I never skip to the end. If the book intrigues me enough, I will finish it.

It is Interesting that my working in the business has hindered my ablility to read all books whether I enjoyed them or not.

Barbara's picture

Teaser Tuesday 5/4 LIFT by Kelly Corrigan

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  1. Grab your current read
  2. Open to a random page
  3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
    BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  4. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser today is from Lift by Kelly Corrigan. Kelly was at Talbot's of Annapolis last week giving a little chat to over 50 women. I met Kelly many years ago (2007?) at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show she was touring for The Middle Place. Liked her then and I like her now!

Lift is a letter written to her children, a tender portrait of risk and love, for anyone who wants to live life fully.

"You'll remember middle school and high school, but you'll have changed by then. Your changing will make me change. That means you won't ever know me as I am right now -- the mother I am tonight and tomorrow, the mother I've been for the eight years, every bath and book and birthday part, gone."-- Lift by Kelly Corrigan, p. 4.

What book will you tease us with, today?

Barbara's picture

Author On the Bookcase: Emily St. John Mandel

I'm thrilled to welcome Emily St. John Mandel, author of the newly released The Singer's Gun and Last Night in Montreal, to On the Bookcase. Emily talks about her writing process -- scraps of paper, wisps of ideas, and then, finally, a final draft. Writing is a lot of work! Thanks so much for sharing this, Emily.

Emily MandelI went to an event at a bookstore here in Brooklyn recently; Jonathan Lethem was reading from his latest book, Chronic City. Toward the end of the Q&A, someone asked hesitantly about whether Lethem would mind talking a little about his writing process. Lethem replied that he didn’t mind at all, but that there wasn’t really that much to say: “I just sit down and write,” he said.

I’m much the same way: writing is something that I try to do every day, although there are a few unhappy days in the middle of the week where my time’s entirely taken up by my part-time day job, my long commute, cooking dinner, etc. It’s an uncomplicated process: I write on scrap paper—I have vast piles of paper lying around from printing out successive drafts of things, and I’d feel bad if I wasted it—and I edit as I’m transcribing it into my computer.
I never have any idea where I’m going—my books begin as wisps of ideas, and I generally don’t know how they end until I’m a couple hundred pages in—so there’s a lot of flailing around at the beginning. I listen to ambient electronica or classical music while I write; it helps me focus. There’s usually a cat on my lap throughout.

The first draft’s invariably a little embarrassing: the structure’s all wrong, the sentences seem clumsy, the plot has holes you could drive a truck through, but having a draft to work with makes the whole thing much easier. It’s more fun after that. Somewhere around the third or fourth draft I’ll try to get a few friends to read it, which is easier said than done—everyone has their own busy lives, and waiting for friends to get around to reading a manuscript is generally an exercise in zen-like patience. Eventually I’ll get their feedback, do some more revisions, and decide that I have a final draft, which always seems hilarious in retrospect; the “final draft” that I send to my agent has been, for both of my novels, vastly different from the real final draft that emerges after several rounds of revisions with my editor.

What Lethem was driving at, in the reading I went to, is that writing is work: something you sit down and do as often as possible until the book’s done. Writing a book is at times difficult, and it takes a long time. Still, though, it’s work that gives me tremendous joy.


Brief Summary of The Singer's Gun

Emily St. John Mandel follows up her electric debut, Last Night in Montreal, with a spellbinding novel of international crime, false identities, the depths and limits of family ties, and the often confusing bonds of love. Taut with suspense, beautifully imagined, full of unexpected corners, desperate choices, betrayals and halftruths with deadly consequences, The Singer’s Gun explores the dangerous territory between one’s moral compass and the heart’s desire. Great topics for reading groups!

Praise for The Singer's Gun

“A nail-biting thriller…[a] diverting read that manages to both entertain and prompt valuable contemplation of its stickier issues.”—BookPage

“An intriguing and suspenseful read that will appeal to those who like mysteries.”—Library Journal

“A gripping, thoughtful meditation on work, family, and the consequences of major life choices.” -Booklist

Emily was born on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada, in 1979. She studied dance at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre and lived briefly in Montreal before relocating to New York.

 

Barbara's picture

What Do Women Want? by Kim Addonizio

Red DressToday ends National Poetry Month. So, I want to post a poem by Kim Addonizio. I met Kim at the Virginia Festival of the Book in March. We stayed up half the night day with author Tanya Egan Gibson (How To Buy Of Love Of Reading) talking books, poetry, reading groups, and solving the world's problems. There was some adult beverages going on, as well!

It was an excellent time and I was honored to be included in their literary and personal conversation. Rock on, girls!

What Do Women Want? by Kim Addonizio

I want a red dress.
I want it flimsy and cheap,
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
until someone tears it off me.
I want it sleeveless and backless,
this dress, so no one has to guess
what's underneath. I want to walk down
the street past Thrifty's and the hardware store
with all those keys glittering in the window,
past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old
donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers
slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly,
hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.
I want to walk like I'm the only
woman on earth and I can have my pick.

I want that red dress bad.
I want it to confirm
your worst fears about me,
to show you how little I care about you or anything except what
I want. When I find it, I'll pull that garment
from its hanger like I'm choosing a body
to carry me into this world, through
the birth-cries and the love-cries too,
and I'll wear it like bones, like skin,
it'll be the goddamned
dress they bury me in.

Kim Addonizio was born in Washington DC, the daughter of a former tennis champion and a sports writer. Addonizio has received numerous awards for her work, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, a Pushcart Prize, and the John Ciardi Lifetime Achievement Award. Addonizio’s poetry, known for its gritty, street-wise narrators and a wicked sense of wit, has received significant recognition since it first appeared as The Philosopher’s Club (1994), a collection of unflinching poems on subjects ranging from mortality to love. Daniela Gioseffi, writing in the American Book Review, affirmed that Addonizio “is wise and crafty in her observations and her portrayal of sensual love, filial feeling, death or loss.” Gioseffi contended that Addonizio “is most profound when she’s philosophizing about the transient quality of life and its central realization of mortality.”

Kim once told Contemporary Authors: “Writing is an ongoing fascination and challenge, as well as being the only form of spirituality I can consistently practice. I started as a poet and will always return to poetry—both reading and writing it—for that sense of deep discovery and communion I find there. There are only two useful rules I can think of for aspiring writers: learn your craft, and persist. The rest, as Henry James said, is the madness of art.”

 

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