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Showing posts from January, 2015

Daedalus Books

While planning the bookstore tour of the DC/Baltimore area, I learned that the warehouse for an online bookstore was surprisingly nearby. We decided to stop in and see what we could see. I was expecting something like the warehouse that is Second Story Books in Rockville. Out-of-the-way, hard-to-find, and a real treasure hunt, just a big room full of overstuffed shelves and boxes and not a little dust. I was way off. First of all, Daedalus Books IS a little out of the way, on a side street, but it makes up for it with clear signage that is easily visible from the road. Second of all, it may be a warehouse, but it's not a used bookstore. Instead, it's a remaindered bookstore. The books are brand spanking new, but they're discounted because they weren't big sellers (don't be dissuaded, it makes for a fantastic eclectic/indie selection). And third of all, this is no overstuffed hodgepodge treasure hunt. Books are laid out neatly on tables and on shelves with envi

Top Ten Books I'd Love to Read With My Imaginary Nerdy Tolkien Book Club

Once upon a time, when Top Ten Tuesday had a similar topic, I invented the idea of a nerdy Tolkien book club. If they actually existed, here's what I'd want to read with them today. I've read many of these before, but I'd like to read them again with discussion and focus. The following is the order I'm thinking of, but I could imagine switching it up. Top Ten Several Books I'd Like to Read With My Imaginary Nerdy Tolkien Book Club 1. The Prose and Poetic Eddas (Icelandic sagas) 2. The Kalevala (Finnish myths) 3. The Silmarillion 4. Splintered Light and Interrupted Music by Verlyn Flieger 5. Beowulf (Tolkien translation) 6. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Tolkien translation) 7. The Tolkien Reader: Farmer Giles of Ham, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, etc. 8. The Hobbit 9. The Lord of the Rings 10. The Road to Middle Earth by Tom Shippey 12. Songs and Poems: Bilbo's Last Song, The Road Goes Ever On etc. 13. The History of Middle

Friday Finds

I've received a couple new reads lately, hopefully reviews will be soon! Against the Country: A Novel by Ben Metcalf, through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld, via Bookmooch

Top Ten Readings On My Ideal College Syllabus

Since today's Top Ten Tuesday is a freebie, I thought I'd write about something I think about a lot-readings and books that will interest today's college students. These are mostly a collection of readings I've actually used and found successful, as well as those I'd like to try. 1. "The Sun, the Moon, the Stars" from This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz I've taught this story in every class I could, with almost universally successful results (there's always the odd student offended by the cursing). If I could, I'd teach the whole book. 2. "Shitty First Drafts" by Ann Lamott I tried this out in my classes this semester, and it went over really well. It was one of the readings that many students mentioned in their final reflection, even though we read it at the beginning of the semester. 3. Tripmaster Monkey by Maxine Hong Kingston I read this in college and loved it. It speaks to the Asian-American experience as well a

Gramp's Attic Books in Ellicott City

My friend came in from Boston last weekend, so we naturally went to explore all the bookstores around my newish domicile. I'd noticed Gramp's Attic Books before, but never had occasion to venture inside. What a treat I was missing! Gramp's Attic Books is an apt name, if your grandfather was the sort to value really fine editions of classic novels, or the type to gather vast collections on rifles, American history (emphasis on the Civil War and World War II), bookbinding, and London, respectively. Although relatively small, Gramp's Attic Books boasts an extremely well-curated stock. Most of the books in the store itself (there's a couple shelves of mere paperbacks in the anteroom) are hard covers, and all are in excellent condition. I would not be surprised if there were a majority of first and second editions. If your tastes run to classics and the aforementioned collections, you might never want to leave. There are handsome caches of Fitzgerald, Hemingway,

Book Review: The Boston Girl

2. The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant My mom got me this book for Hanukkah, and we went to hear Anita Diamant talk about it this week. Diamant's comments really brought into focus what I thought about the book. She affirmed that her "MO" is to write about hidden women's stories-specifically, in this case, the stories of the women of Rockport Lodge. The book she said, began with the title "Rockport Lodge," though it came to be more about the protagonist Addie Baum, the type of grandmother Diamant says she wants to be, whose sharp wit and humor came in during later revisions of the book. As an aspiring writer, I was interested in Diamant's hints about the writing process. She confirms what I teach my students when we read Anne Lamott's "Shitty First Drafts," --it takes a lot of revision to get to the final product! For me, the final product was a compulsively easy read. I slipped into the skin of the character, a young Jewish woman growin

Top Ten 2014 Releases I Meant to Read But Didn't Get To

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! 1. Steles of the Sky by Elizabeth Bear 2. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison 3. Exodus by Deborah Feldman 4. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd 5. The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski 6. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen 7. China Dolls by Lisa See 8. The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books by Azar Nafisi 9. Yes Please by Amy Poehler 10. Bombay Blues by Tanuja Desai Hidier

Book Review: The Cuckoo's Calling

1. The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith Let's be honest. I would never have read this book if a) it weren't written by J.K. Rowling and b) my friend hadn't gotten it for me for Hanukkah. I don't like mysteries. I don't like thrillers. I don't like detective novels. But there are always exceptions. And this is one of them. Cormoran Strike, a former military police officer, has opened a mildly successful private detective agency and just split with gorgeous fiancé Charlotte. He owes mysterious loans to a rock star dad he barely knows, and receives regular death threats from a former client. Enter Robin Ellacott, newly engaged, working as a temp until she can sort out her "proper interviews." Robin hits the ground running as Strike's new secretary, and the two become a crime-solving duo that is compatible and efficient (a relief from Odd Couple type pairings). Rowling's trademark character development, plot development, and particu

Top Five Most Anticipated Books of 2015

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! I'm going a bit off script because, honestly, I don't know what debuts to be excited about. Here are the top five books I'm excited about in 2015! 1. The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord Karen Lord has a new novel! And it looks like it is somewhat of a sequel to The Best of All Possible Worlds --it's about Grace Delarua's nephew. 2. Get in Trouble by Kelly Link Got to see what the fuss is about! 3. The Mechanical by Ian Tregellis So excited for an new novel from Ian Tregellis, and intrigued by the concept. 4. The Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente Assuredly worth reading for the vocabulary at least. 5. Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear I'm tepid on the concept, but it's Elizabeth Bear, and now I've realized steampunk can be cool sometimes. *Edit* 6. Armada by Ernest Cline Ernest Cline is coming out with a new book! Not sure how he could top Ready Player One : this one looks Ender's Game

SFF Lit Round-Up 2014

2014 was a fantastic year for SFF Lit, and I think my choices this year may be less controversial than in previous years. 1. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie Unusual, ambiguously-gendered-and-identified character; feminine pronouns for all; great big morally ambiguous concept (people=parts of ship); epic scale; and alien cultures reflective of our own failings. Win. 2. Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie See above, with extra servings of novum (estranging device that allows us to look as detached observers at aspects of our own culture). 3. Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Day Al-Mohamed Vivid re-imagination of ancient tale; realistic investigation of Islamic and Victorian cultures; feminist implications; comments on wonders and dangers of technology. 4. "Sultana's Dream" by Rokheya Shekhawat Hossein South Asian. feminist. sci-fi. utopia. Short, but sweet.

Bookish and Non Bookish Goals for 2015

First, let's see how I did on last year's goals: 1. Post to the blog at least 5 times a month-It looks like I did pretty well on this one. Some months I did less, some months I did more. 2. Read more short stories-I definitely accomplished this one. I read far more short stories this year than possibly any other year of my life, and I read Vampires in the Lemon Grove , which I helpfully pictured in last year's post. 3. Read more poetry-I probably did, thanks to the Missouri Reviews , but I didn't read Dispatch to the Future , which I'd pictured. 4. Write every day-I'm not sure if I wrote EVERY single day, but I definitely wrote a lot, including blog posts, personal writing, and lesson plans. 5. Go for a walk at least three times a week-Definitely not. I'll have to rectify that this year. 6. Go to more bookish events-Last year, I only made it to the National Book Festival. Hopefully, I can do better this year. 7. Read at least one book for a boo

Book Review: The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

I've been saying I'm going to read the Inheritance Trilogy for years now, and when I came across this all-inclusive volume for just $20 during my holiday shopping, I just went ahead and got it for myself: And then I proceeded to spend the rest of December reading it. 42. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin Yeine is a Darr princess summoned to her maternal family's home, Sky. This imperial palace belongs to the world's most powerful and ruthless family, the Arameris, and they have claimed Yeine as one of their own, despite her mother's defection. Though her grandfather announces her as a contender for the throne, Yeine realizes that she is unprepared to compete in an arena where gods are enslaved as matchless weapons. Yeine is an extremely relatable character. I loved that, while she's inexperienced in the world she's been thrust into, she never comes off as stupid or naive. She uses information as she uncovers it, and while she makes some