Thursday, February 28, 2013

15 Rare, Unusual & Mysterious Books

Welcome to the wonderful world of rare, unusual, and mysterious books! I'm always amazed at the odd, the strange, and mysterious item out there in the world... especially when it comes to books.

So, when I came across an article in the Business Pundit titled 15 Weird & Mysterious Books, I couldn't resist taking a look at which 15 books made the list.

Which books struck you as the most mysterious and weird?? I found it difficult to chose one book that did it for me as the most weird and mysterious.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What have you found within the pages of used books?

I frequently buy used books from our local Friends of the Library Used Bookstore and many other used bookstores around town.

Most of the time I don't find anything unusual within the pages of the used books I purchase, but every so often I find remnants left behind by the previous owner of the book.

I've found bookmarks, business cards, photographs, receipts, recipes, handwritten notes, inscriptions, grocery/to do lists and even a $2 bill to name a few of the things I've discovered between the pages of used books I've purchased.

What are some of the unique items you've discovered within the pages of used books you've purchased?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Diaries of Adam & Eve by Mark Twain

I recently came across the eBook version of The Diaries of Adam & Eve by Mark Twain on Amazon for 99 cents. For clarification purposes, 'The Diaries of Adam & Eve' is more of a novella rather than a full length novel.

I really enjoyed reading 'The Diaries of Adam & Eve' as Mark Twain has a unique perspective and humorous way of telling a story! 'The Diaries of Adam & Eve' is told through a series of diary entries from a she said/he said perspective. 

The diary entries begin with Eve's narration of events where she thinks of herself as an 'experiment'. Her entries are long and she has a wonderful mastery of language. She's very intuitive and embraces the world around her. 

Adam's diary entries, by contrast, are short entries. He seems to be more reclusive, set in his ways, and wants nothing to do with Eve whatsoever at the start of 'The Diaries of Adam & Eve'. Also, Adam's intuitive skills and language skills seem less masterful in comparison with Eve's skills.

I had a good laugh at Adam trying to figure out what species 'Cain' and 'Abel' were!! He starts out thinking that Cain is a fish and wants to throw him in the water to see if he can swim, but Eve won't let Adam test his theory out. As Cain grows bigger, Adam then decides Cain is a kangaroo, then a bear who might be dangerous, and so on, until he finally figures out that both 'Cain' and 'Abel' are the same species that he is. In my opinion, Adam's diary entries about what he thinks 'Cain' and 'Abel' are, were the funniest moments in this novella.

Eve's diary entries become less frequent with the appearance of 'Cain' and 'Abel'. By the end of 'The Diaries of Adam & Eve', Adam & Eve are in very much in love with one another.

I really enjoyed reading 'The Diaries of Adam & Eve' and would recommend this novella to all Mark Twain fans and to all those who would enjoy reading a different take on Adam & Eve.

Monday, February 25, 2013

US World Book Night 2013!

I have some exciting news to share with you all!! Once again, I've been selected to be a book giver for the US World Book Night 2013 event on April 23, 2013!!

So, what is World Book Night, you ask? Here's how it's defined by the US World Book Night Website:
World Book Night is an annual celebration dedicated to spreading the love of reading, person to person. Each year on April 23, tens of thousands of people in the U.S. go out into their communities and give a total of half a million free World Book Night paperbacks to light and non-readers.
I thoroughly enjoyed being a book giver last year for the US World Book Night event. I passed out 20 free copies of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou within my community. I've been an avid fan of Maya Angelou's works of poetry and her autobiographies. I've even seen Maya Angelou speak before a live audience twice before and she's an amazing, gifted speaker!

This year, I will be handing out 20 free copies of The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros within my community. I first read 'The House on Mango Street' for a Women's Studies course in college back in the early 1990s. I reread 'The House on Mango Street' at the end of last year and enjoyed rereading it again. 'The House on Mango Street' is a novella and is told through a series of short chapters or vignettes and is the story of Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago. I love the manner in which 'The House on Mango Street' is written. By writing vignettes, Cisneros shares the story of Esperanza Cordero in a unique, refreshing way. 

Who else has applied to be a book giver this year? Which book will you be passing out within your community?

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Biblio-Mat Book Vending Machine!!

Let me start by saying that I've never heard of or even seen a book vending machine before in my life. 

Sure, I'm very aware of vending machine that dispense food, movies for rent, cigarettes, health related items like condoms, and other over the counter medications like pain relievers and the like, but not a book vending machine.

Then I came across an article on NPR titled Book-Vending Machine Dispenses Suspense. Intrigued by the article's title, I not only read the article, but listened to the audio version on NPR's All Things Considered program. 

All I can say is that after reading the NPR article above, I now want to visit The Monkey's Paw Used Bookstore in Toronto, Canada and see the Biblio-Mat Book Vending Machine in action!! Half the fun would be seeing which book title the Biblio-Mat gives you at random.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Starbucks CEO is Immortalized in a Comic Book

Honestly, I never thought I'd see the day that Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO, would be immortalized in a comic book!! 

The book is titled Howard Schultz, the Man behind Starbucks by CW Cooke.

According to an article in the Puget Sound Business Journal titled Starbucks CEO Schultz immortalized in comic book, the following book description is given for 'Howard Schultz, the Man behind Starbucks':
Learn the true tale of the man who pushed Starbucks into the stratosphere, taking it from its small coffee bean sales to its global coffee domination. See here, in comic book form, the true story of Howard Schultz, the man who made Starbucks a legend.
Yes, I'm a coffee drinker and yes, I love reading books, but this will not be a book I'll be reading, ever!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Vintage Ads for Libraries to Promote Reading!

I love vintage themed posters and art work. So, when I came across a post on the Brain Pickings website titled Vintage Ads for Libraries and Reading by Maria Popova, I couldn't help but share this link with my fellow readers!

I like the vintage posters because they promote reading books and using the library! 

Click on the above link to see the vintage ads. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cozy Mystery Novels

I admit it! I enjoy reading cozy mystery novels. They happen to be one of my favorite genres, because they are fun, entertaining, and make for a great way to escape from daily life. 

For those of you not familiar with the cozy mystery genre, here's a definition of the genre from Wikipedia:
The detectives in such stories are nearly always amateurs (village policeman Hamish Macbeth, featured in a series of novels by M. C. Beaton, is a notable exception) and frequently women. They are typically well educated, intuitive, and often hold jobs (caterer, innkeeper, librarian, teacher, dog trainer, shop owner, reporter) that bring them into constant contact with other residents of their town and the surrounding region. Like other amateur detectives, they typically have a contact on the police force who can give them access to important information about the case at hand, but the contact is typically a spouse, lover, friend or family member rather than a former colleague. Dismissed by the authorities in general as nosy busybodies (particularly if they are middle-aged or elderly women), the detectives in cozy mysteries are thus left free to eavesdrop, gather clues, and use their native intelligence and intuitive "feel" for the social dynamics of the community to solve the crime. 

I've enjoyed reading cozy mystery novels from the Den of Antiquities series by Tamar Myers, Coffee House Mystery series by Cleo Coyle, and many other novels written by authors whom write cozy mystery novels.

Do you enjoy reading cozy mystery novels too? I'm always on the lookout for new cozy mystery series to read... So, please share with me which cozy mystery series have you enjoyed reading!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Author Speaking Fees

I've enjoyed attending many author lectures every now and then throughout the years and Maya Angelou has been, hands down, my favorite author to hear speak before a live audience. 

I've seen Dr. Angelou speak twice in the past two decades before an audience and I wouldn't hesitate to hear her speak before a live audience again, should the opportunity present itself. Dr. Angelou is an amazing speaker and she has always shared memorable and engaging topics with her audience.

I've also had the pleasure of hearing several other authors lecture at various venues as well. Ticket prices for author lectures vary in price depending on many factors. So, I've often wondered what fees (if any) certain authors earn for their speaking engagements. 

Interestingly enough, I came across an article on the Huffington Post website this morning titled Author Speaking Fees: Who Gets Paid Ridiculous Sums To Talk? The article does shed some light on what speaking fees some of the more popular authors receive.

Are you surprised by the amount of fees collected by the authors mentioned in the above article? I think I was most surprised to read that Charles Dickens received $100,000 for 76 U.S. readings!! Amazing!! That was a boat load of money back then. I wonder what that dollar amount would translate into today's dollars when one factors in inflation.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Read & Discuss Ayn Rand's Novel, Atlas Shrugged

Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic and he recently wrote an article titled Calling All Readers: Join the Atlas Shrugged Book Club, which posted to The Atlantic website on Monday, February 11, 2013. In his article, Mr. Friedersdorf writes the following:
The Atlantic will take on the controversial novel in a multi-part discussion that begins February 18.

Published in 1957, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged is one of the most controversial novels in American history, and a hugely successful one too: It has sold more than a million copies ... since 2010! Alan Greenspan, Clarence Thomas, and Paul Ryan have cited it as a significant influence on their thinking. Tea Party-affiliated entertainers touted it at the height of the protest movement. And fans and critics alike found it relevant to the 2010 election.

But how many people who invoke the book have actually read it since high school? Or ever? 

Atlas Shrugged
Click on above article to read the full article, where you will learn more about which chapters to read and discuss when and how to participate in the discussion of Atlas Shrugged in this exciting new online book club!

I've never read anything written by Ayn Rand before. I'd love to read and participate in this book club discussion, but unfortunately, I don't have enough time to obtain a copy of this novel and read the 1st 5 chapters before February 18th as I have a lot going on in my life at the moment.

Ayn Rand
I'm hoping that other readers out there interested in reading and discussing Ayn Rand's novel, Atlas Shrugged, will enjoy participating in The Atlantic's Book Club Discussion.

Until my next post, happy reading! 

P. S. If you decided to read Atlas Shrugged and participate in the online book discussion, let me know about your experience

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Would You Read a Chick-Lit Line of Superheroine Novels?

I read an article on the Wired website titled Marvel Comics Launches Chick-Lit Line of Superheroine Novels by Graeme McMillan. In the article, McMillan writes:
Today, Marvel Entertainment announced a new partnership with Hyperion Books — like Marvel, a Disney subsidiary — to publish The She-Hulk Diaries and Rogue Touch, two novels described as featuring “strong, smart heroines seeking happiness and love while battling cosmic evil.” Yes, it’s time for superhero chick-lit.

The move could potentially be part of a response to the realization that Marvel had no female-led comics as of this time last year; Marvel has also launched multiple comic series with female leads in recent months, from Captain Marvel to the upcoming all-woman X-Men.

Hyperion’s editor-in-chief Elisabeth Dyssegaard is quoted in the announcement as saying that the two companies “think it’s a great time to explore what happens to super heroines when they are dropped into traditional women’s novels,” suggesting something closer to Pride and Prejudice and Professor X than the generic-sounding synopses actually offered by the publishers.
I'm thrilled to learn that superhero novels will be featuring “strong, smart heroines seeking happiness and love while battling cosmic evil.” I only hope that both The She-Hulk Diaries and Rogue Touch, both of which will be released in June, portray women in a positive light.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Make a Business Card Holder from an Old Book!

Photo Credit OC Register
Are you good at making DIY craft projects? Then making a business card holder from an old book may be the perfect project for you!! 

I came across an article posted on The Orange County Register website by Cindy McNatt titled: Make this: Business card holder from old books

This craft project looks easy enough to complete by both the novice and experienced crafters among us! Click on above link for directions on how to make your own business card holder.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Butterflies of Grand Canyon by Margaret Erhart

The Butterflies of Grand Canyon by Margaret Erhart is a book I purchased in October 2010 at Borders Bookstore for a dollar. I'd never heard of the book, nor the author before, but the cover artwork on this book, the book title, and its low price tag caught my attention. 

Plus, I'd just visited the Grand Canyon for the 1st time ever in September of 2010, a month prior to purchasing this novel, and I thought the Grand Canyon was breathtakingly beautiful. I also love butterflies and a good mystery, so The Butterflies of Grand Canyon seemed to be the perfect match for me.

Here's the book description of The Butterflies of Grand Canyon, I discovered on Amazon:
Set against the backdrop of the brooding and sensual canyon, a young woman's heart awakens and a decades-old mystery is solved

When Jane Merkle arrives in the tiny town of Flagstaff, Arizona, with her much older husband on a summer day in 1951, she hasn't any idea that her life is about to change forever. After all, one of Jane's favorite sayings is "When in Rome, remember that you're from St . Louis." But over a summer spent with her sister-in-law, Dotty, and Dotty's lepidopterist husband, Oliver, in a village perched on the rim of the Grand Canyon, Jane discovers her latent ability with a butterfly net and her attraction to a handsome young ranger. Meanwhile, an unidentified skeleton is found on the premises of one of the village's most cantankerous citizens. With the help-and hindrance-of a colorful cast of historical characters, including an eccentric botanist who moonlights as an amateur sleuth, the murder mystery that has haunted the town for years is solved.

In her latest novel, set in the quintessential landscape of the Southwest, Margaret Erhart weaves history, science, and an intimate knowledge of the human heart to tell a fast-paced tale. 

I really wanted to like The Butterflies of Grand Canyon, but I found this novel to be rather s-s-s-l-l-l-o-o-o-w-w-w, dull, and boring for the most part. 

Aside from being a slow novel overall, I did find Margaret Erhart's writing to be beautifully descriptive at times. Some of the scenes described made you feel like you were really there with characters.  

As for the characters themselves, well let's just say that I found most of them annoying.  

I also felt that the storyline didn't quite move in the direction I had anticipated it would... Meaning that I thought The Butterflies of Grand Canyon would be more of a mystery novel in the traditional sense, but instead this novel reads more like contemporary fiction with a mystery as a subplot.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

An Evening with Lisa Ling --- Lecture & Booksigning!

Lisa Ling
Last night, my hubby & I attended an event at UCSB's Campbell Hall featuring American journalist Lisa Ling. This event was organized by UCSB's Arts & Lectures as part of their Word of Mouth series.

The following is an excerpt about Ms. Ling found on the UCSB's Arts & Lectures website:
In today’s sound-bite news culture, important issues often get overlooked. A former correspondent for CNN, co-host of The View and now host of Our America on the Oprah Winfrey Network, acclaimed journalist Lisa Ling has shed light on harsh realities and championed true heroes. With her sister Laura, she co-wrote Somewhere Inside: One Sister’s Captivity in North Korea and the Other’s Fight to Bring Her Home. In this compelling talk, Ling will share stories from her high-profile media career and explain how journalism can be a force for propelling the world forward in new and positive ways.

Ms. Ling gave a riveting talk last night filled with stories from her career, which were all thought provoking. Things Ms. Ling discussed made you think more about the world around you.

Somewhere Inside
After Ms. Ling spoke for approximately an hour, there was a brief question and answer session, followed by a meet and greet where audience members could have Ms. Ling autograph copies of her books. I had purchase a copy of Ms. Ling's nonfiction book, Somewhere Inside: One Sister's Captivity in North Korea and the Other's Fight to Bring Her Home, which she co-wrote with her sister Laura Ling. I was able to have Ms. Ling autograph my copy of her book, which made my evening that more memorable. 

Ms. Ling is really nice and personable. I was even able to have my picture taken with her last night as well!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

10th Year Anniversary Edition
I finished reading Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom yesterday morning. 

I clearly remember back in the late 1990s, when I was an assistant bookstore manager, how popular this book was with readers. I also remember Tuesdays with Morrie being on the New York Times bestseller list for what seemed like an eternity and according to Wikipedia, Tuesdays with Morrie "remained on the New York Times bestseller list for 205 weeks."

I knew the basic premise of Tuesdays with Morrie when it was released in 1997. I even remember watching the television movie adaptation of the same name when it came out in 1999. So, I didn't have the desire or interest to read Tuesdays with Morrie, until recently.

I loved that Tuesdays with Morrie was a quick read. I enjoyed how the book was organized and the layout as well. I also enjoyed the hidden gems of wisdom scattered throughout this book, especially the 12th Tuesday where Morrie & Mitch discuss the topic of forgiveness. I also enjoyed that this books was a tribute to one's favorite professor/teacher.

Overall, I felt Tuesdays with Morrie was a good book and enjoyed reading it. This book wasn't as sad as I thought it was going to be. It was actually uplifting. Morrie's spirit shines through and his attitude and outlook on life and his illness (ALS) are truly amazing. I'm not sure I could have been as brave, courageous, or positive as Morrie is portrayed in this book during the process of having such a devastating disease as ALS.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Julie Andrews to Visit Chaucer's Bookstore in Santa Barbara

Unbeknownst to me, actress Julie Andrews has written several children's books. Ms. Andrews's latest children's book titled, The Very Fairy Princess Follows Her Heart, is now out on bookstore shelves.

Ms. Andrews will be in Santa Barbara at Chaucer's Bookstore on Tuesday, February 12th at 5pm to sign copies of her new children's book.

According to Chaucer's website:

A LIMITED number of books will be signed and, due to time constraints, there will be no personalizations.

A ticket is REQUIRED for signing. Tickets are available at Chaucer's for $16.99 plus tax and include a copy of the book.

There will be NO signing of memorabilia of any kind. Only copies of "The Very Fairy Princess Follows Her Heart" will be signed.

Photography and videography WILL NOT be permitted.

 So, if you're a huge fan of Julie Andrews's children books, you may want to attend this author signing event at Chaucer's Bookstore in Santa Barbara!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Ming & I by Tamar Myers

The Ming & I by Tamar Myers is the third installment of the Den of Antiquity cozy mystery series created by Ms. Myers.

So, far I've read nine of the sixteen novels in the Den of Antiquity cozy mystery series. I haven't been reading this series in chronological order by any means. Instead, choosing to read them in the order I can find them at used bookstores.

As a whole, I've enjoyed reading this cozy mystery series, but some of the books in this series have fallen flat/short in the entertainment department. It seems like the novels written at the beginning of the Den of Antiquity mystery series are a lot more enjoyable to read than the ones that fall towards the end of this series in my opinion.

However, returning to the topic of reviewing The Ming & I. I really did enjoy reading The Ming & I by Tamar Myers immensely! The storyline and characters are well thought out and well written. The characters are also well developed and entertaining. I loved the dialogue between characters and the humor presented throughout The Ming & I was also good. Additionally, I didn't guess whodunnit until the very end. So, all in all, The Ming & I was a wonderful read and I would recommend it to all cozy mystery lovers!