Thursday, June 30, 2011

Book Review - Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Synopsis:  Marcus, a.k.a “w1n5t0n,” is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.

But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days.

When the DHS finally releases them, Marcus discovers that his city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself.

First Line:  "I'm a senior at Cesar Chavez High in San Franciso's sunny Mission district, and that makes me one of the most surveilled people in the world."

Random Quote:  "In a pool of twenty million people, a 99 percent accurate test will identify two hundred thousand people as being terrorists.  But only ten of them are terrorists.  To catch ten bad guys, you have to haul in and investigate two hundred thousand innocent people."

Review:  I read this on the recommendation of a Swedish friend from a mailing list where we've been talking about technology and culture for a really long time.  This is a young adult book, but any adult will enjoy it.  It tells the story of a dystopian near future where the Bay Bridge is blown up by terrorists giving a Bush-like government the chance to lock down the Bay Area.  In an environment where electronic surveillance is becoming the norm, this book traces down the logical result and allows its teen hacker heroes to fix it.  It's a fun story and the technology is realistically written.

While reading this book I realized that I've never had the sense of privacy that most people do.  My parents were active politically and I remember the FBI sitting outside of our house quite often during the 1960's.  I've been politically active my whole life from volunteering for a school board candidate when I was ten years old to volunteering as a clinic escort during Operation Rescue's "Summer of Mercy."  I worked for an end to apartheid, in the anti-nuclear movement, and in local, state, and federal election campaigns.  I've been shoved, called everything under the sun, spit on, tear gassed, and pepper sprayed.  I've seen people being beaten by police, have had to sign my name to a CIA document to be allowed to see a film on nuclear power, and have been photographed numerous times.  This experience has contributed to my feeling that the only privacy any of us really have is in our heads.

WTO protests in Seattle, November 30, 1999 Pep... Crowd being pepper sprayed at WTO protests, 1999, Seattle - Image via Wikipedia


I loathe the ways this country has taken the tragedy of 9/11 as an opportunity to scapegoat and regularly violate the constitutional rights of our own citizens (not to mention those foreigners unlucky enough to be held under our control).  Our government has used the fear created by a terrorist event to enhance its ability to keep us under control, under their eyes, vulnerable.  This is how we let terrorists win.  They don't even have to kill us - just destroy our constitution and the fundamental principles of our democracy.

Doctorow's book addresses all kinds of privacy and security with a reminder that security doesn't remain static - there's always someone else out there who's smarter than you and can break your measures.  Although a bit long and repetitive in the middle and with some troubling hanging threads, I really enjoyed this book.

FTC Disclosure:  Borrowed from the Berkeley Public Library

RatingGreen

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Review - Sister by Rosamund Lupton

Synopsis:  When her mom calls to tell her that Tess, her younger sister, is missing, Bee returns home to London on the first flight. She expects to find Tess and give her the usual lecture, the bossy big sister scolding her flighty baby sister for taking off without letting anyone know her plans. Tess has always been a free spirit, an artist who takes risks, while conservative Bee couldn’t be more different. Bee is used to watching out for her wayward sibling and is fiercely protective of Tess (and has always been a little stern about her antics). But then Tess is found dead, apparently by her own hand.

Bee is certain that Tess didn’t commit suicide. Their family and the police accept the sad reality, but Bee feels sure that Tess has been murdered. Single-minded in her search for a killer, Bee moves into Tess’s apartment and throws herself headlong into her sister’s life—and all its secrets.

Though her family and the police see a grieving sister in denial, unwilling to accept the facts, Bee uncovers the affair Tess was having with a married man and the pregnancy that resulted, and her difficulty with a stalker who may have crossed the line when Tess refused his advances. Tess was also participating in an experimental medical trial that might have gone very wrong. As a determined Bee gives her statement to the lead investigator, her story reveals a predator who got away with murder—and an obsession that may cost Bee her own life.

First Line:  "Dearest Tess,"

Random Quote:  "There is no description of the color of death, no Pantone number to match your face.  It was the opposite of life.  I touched your still satin-shiny hair.  "She was so beautiful."

The sergeant tightened his fingers around mine.  "Yes.  She is beautiful."

Review:  I thoroughly enjoyed Sister, finding it beautifully written and told in an unusual manner - as a sort of long-form mental letter from the surviving sibling to the one who didn't make it.  Having gone through my father's death last year, I appreciated how well Ms. Lupton captured the disjointed, surreal feeling of grief from the immediate sharpness to later periods when you feel good about your memories and then are mugged by them.

Two SistersSisters - Image via Wikipedia

The thread of sisterhood is woven throughout the book.  Tess and Bee are so very different - one buttoned down and uptight, always settling for less; the other - free-spirited, refusing to stay in the box.  It's interesting to watch Tess unclench, clean her own house, and begin to make new choices for how to live her life.  The reader is drawn into the relationship between sisters and this relationship underlines the crime narrative and makes you care deeply about what happened to a victim.  This is different than most crime fiction where the victim is often the least important character in the book.

This marks the debut of a talented new literary voice.  I can't wait to read more from Ms. Lupton!

FTC Disclosure:  Advance copy for review through Amazon Vine

RatingBlue

Reading Challenges:  Mystery and Suspense Reading Challenge, British Reading Challenge

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) random 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!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 

"I felt something cold and was up against the wood of my front door.  I felt something cold and hard press against my neck and knew there was a knife at my throat.

'This is how easy it is,' said a voice in my ear.  'This is the last thing Geraldine felt."

     - Now You See Me by S.J. Bolton

    Monday, June 27, 2011

    In My Mailbox Monday

    Space Invaders Mailbox
    In June, Mailbox Monday is hosted by Bluestocking. In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.  These are the places where we brag about share the books that arrived in our mailboxes each week.  As always, I also try to find a mailbox that is somehow associated with what I'm reading right now.  I'm reading Nerd Do Well by Simon Pegg so I found an appropriately nerdy mailbox.  Love the Space Invaders theme - that was a cool game.

    Just one this week for a TLC Book Tour:

    Holy Ghost Girl by Donna Johnson.  A compassionate, humorous story of faith, betrayal, and coming of age on the evangelical sawdust trail.

    She was just three years old when her mother signed on as the organist of tent revivalist David Terrell, and before long, Donna Johnson was part of the hugely popular evangelical preacher's inner circle. At seventeen, she left the ministry for good, with a trove of stranger-than-fiction memories. A homecoming like no other, Holy Ghost Girl brings to life miracles, exorcisms, and faceoffs with the Ku Klux Klan. And that's just what went on under the tent.

    As Terrell became known worldwide during the 1960s and '70s, the caravan of broken-down cars and trucks that made up his ministry evolved into fleets of Mercedes and airplanes. The glories of the Word mixed with betrayals of the flesh and Donna's mother bore Terrell's children in one of the several secret households he maintained. Thousands of followers, dubbed "Terrellites" by the press, left their homes to await the end of the world in cultlike communities. Jesus didn't show, but the IRS did, and the prophet/healer went to prison.

    Recounted with deadpan observations and surreal detail, Holy Ghost Girl bypasses easy judgment to articulate a rich world in which the mystery of faith and human frailty share a surprising and humorous coexistence.

    Be sure to check out all the other mailbox treasures and happy Monday!

    Sunday, June 26, 2011

    Library Loot

    Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

    Since moving to Berkeley I've had to resort to the hold list to read lots of things.  There typically wasn't a huge wait in San Leandro where I used to live.  That said, I'm utterly happy in Berkeley and love that the library is on my way home from BART.

    Here's what I got this week:

    Now You See Me by S.J. Bolton.  Lacey Flint is a Detective Constable who, despite her fascination with Jack the Ripper, has never worked a big case or seen a dead body up close. Until now...As she leaves a south London estate one night, she is horrified to find a woman has been viciously stabbed, right next to Lacey's car. Thrown headlong into her first murder hunt, Lacey's quiet life changes overnight. Then Lacey receives a familiar hand-delivered letter, written in red blood, and it is clear the police have a Ripper copycat on their hands. Lacey must be the bait if they are to prevent a second, brutal murder. But can this inexperienced DC outwit a killer whose infamous role model has never been found?

    Praying for Sheetrock by Melissa Fay Green.  Finalist for the 1991 National Book Award and a New York Times Notable book, Praying for Sheetrock is the story of McIntosh County, a small, isolated, and lovely place on the flowery coast of Georgia--and a county where, in the 1970s, the white sheriff still wielded all the power, controlling everything and everybody. Somehow the sweeping changes of the civil rights movement managed to bypass McIntosh entirely. It took one uneducated, unemployed black man, Thurnell Alston, to challenge the sheriff and his courthouse gang--and to change the way of life in this community forever. "An inspiring and absorbing account of the struggle for human dignity and racial equality" (Coretta Scott King)

    A Curtain Falls by Stefanie Pintoff.  In the Shadow of Gotham, Stefanie Pintoff ’s debut novel, won the Minotaur Books/MWA First Crime Novel Competition and wowed critics and readers alike. Now she delivers a winning follow-up to her acclaimed debut. Both Detective Simon Ziele and his former partner Captain Declan Mulvaney’s careers went in different directions after the tragic death of Zeile’s fiancé in the General Slocum ferry disaster. While both seemed destined for bigger things, Ziele moved to a small town north of New York City to escape the violence and Mulvaney now heads up the force in the most crime ridden district in the city. Yet, with all of the resources at Mulvaney’s disposal, he still needs a man that he can trust to work a case with the potential for disaster when a chorus girl is found dead on a Broadway stage dressed in the leading lady’s costume. There are no signs of violence at all and it would look like a suicide if she wasn’t the second chorus girl to turn up dead in the last few weeks: It’s clear they have a serial killer on their hands. A Curtain Falls is a moody and evocative tale that finds Simon and his partners scouring the streets of turn-of-the-century New York in search of a true monster.

    Gotten anything cool from your library lately?

    Saturday, June 25, 2011

    Book Review - The Arrival by Shaun Tan

    Cover of "The Arrival"Cover of The Arrival
    Synopsis:  In a heartbreaking parting, a man gives his wife and daughter a last kiss and boards a steamship to cross the ocean. He's embarking on the most painful yet important journey of his life- he's leaving home to build a better future for his family.

    Shaun Tan evokes universal aspects of an immigrant's experience through a singular work of the imagination. He does so using brilliantly clear and mesmerizing images. Because the main character can't communicate in words, the book forgoes them too. But while the reader experiences the main character's isolation, he also shares his ultimate joy.

    ReviewThe Arrival by Shaun Tan (dedicated to his immigrant parents) is an utterly charming story about what it's like to leave your home for a fresh start, to find work, to work and save to be reunited with your family.  A picture book that falls within the category of graphic novel, its story told only through its illustrations, this works for children and adults.

    Tan's art is evocative, rich, and deeply connected to the story he is telling.  Within the book Tan creates a world of sepia hues like old photographs, peopled by memory and story.  It's beautiful.  I loved it.

    FTC Disclosure:  Borrowed from the Berkeley Public Library

    RatingPurple

    ChallengesGraphic Novel Reading Challenge

    Friday, June 24, 2011

    Book Review - Long Journey Home by Margaret Robison

    Synopsis:  Margaret Robison's new memoir takes its place with those of her two sons: Augusten Burroughs (Running With Scissors) and John Elder Robison (Look Me in the Eye). Robison's memories, like those of her sons, are indelibly vivid. A talented poet and teacher, she writes movingly of her growing up in a troubled southern Georgia small town community; marrying a talented man who became increasingly alcoholic and abusive; and her own collapse into deep mental illness. Readers who followed the legal actions and controversies following Running With Scissors will benefit from Robison's detailed personal account of her family's complicated relationship with therapist Dr. Rodolph Turcotte. Another part of the puzzle.

    First Line:  "Why are you here?"

    Random Quote:  "It was a long, lonely, and torturous night.  Shortly before breakfastime I was taken to the delivery room.  My feet were fastened to stirrups and my hands were strapped down.  I felt frantic with claustrophobia."

    Review:  I read a lot of memoirs (if you're a regular reader of my blog you probably noticed).  As with any kind of book some of them work for me and some don't.  Many memoirs deal with trauma of various kinds and this one is no exception.

    Many of us have read Ms. Robison's sons' memoirs on growing up in their highly dysfunctional family.  Long Journey Home is their mother's response.  The book is a bit choppy and chaotic, but there are moments throughout that remind you that the author is a poet - landscape or moments vividly described in unexpected language.

    Shelburne Falls, MassachusettsShelburne Falls, MA - Image via Wikipedia
    My problem with all three books is personal and derives from my difficulty in answering some questions for myself:  At what point does memoir about family become cathartic and illuminating and at what point is it all about an axe to grind in a highly public forum?  Does that even matter?  I'm always somewhat squirmy when families parade their dysfunction and even squirmier when it becomes their own little cottage industry as is the case with this family.  Where is the line between explication and public revenge?

    I confess that this memoir made me cringe more often than it enchanted me with its language, but all three memoirs combined inform an interesting discussion about the purpose of memoir, its definitions, and its place in a family's history.  That's a worthwhile discussion to have in this age of public confession.

    FTC Disclosure:  Advance copy from the publisher for the author's TLC Book Tour

    RatingGreen

    Margaret Robison
    I am pleased to be a part of Ms. Robison's blog tour.  Margaret Robison is an artist and the author of four books of poetry. She lives in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.  Learn more about Margaret at her website, www.margaretrobison.com.

    Be sure to visit the other stops on Ms. Robison's tour to get a wide range of opinion and discussion about this interesting book:

    Margaret Robison’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

    Wednesday, June 1st:  Well Read Wife
    Thursday, June 2nd:  The Girl from the Ghetto
    Monday, June 6th:  Books Like Breathing
    Tuesday, June 7th:  Life in Review
    Thursday, June 9th:  Silver and Grace
    Monday, June 13th:  Reviews by Lola
    Monday, June 20th:  Sara’s Organized Chaos
    Friday, June 24th:  Chaotic Compendiums
    Monday, June 27th:  The Book Lady’s Blog – guest post
    Thursday, June 30th:  Rundpinne
    Thursday, July 7th:  SMS Book Reviews
    Friday, July 8th:  Colloquium
    Friday, July 15th:  Thoughts of Joy

    Thursday, June 23, 2011

    Book Review - Iron House by John Hart

    SynopsisAn old man is dying.

    When the old man is dead they will come for him.

    And they will come for her, to make him hurt.


     John Hart has written three New York Times bestsellers and won an unprecedented two back-to-back Edgar Awards. Now he delivers his fourth novel—a gut-wrenching, heart-stopping thriller no reader will soon forget.

     HE WOULD GO TO HELL

    At the Iron Mountain Home for Boys, there was nothing but time. Time to burn and time to kill, time for two young orphans to learn that life isn’t won without a fight. Julian survives only because his older brother, Michael, is fearless and fiercely protective. When tensions boil over and a boy is brutally killed, there is only one sacrifice left for Michael to make: He flees the orphanage and takes the blame with him.

     TO KEEP HER SAFE

    For two decades, Michael has been an enforcer in New York’s world of organized crime, a prince of the streets so widely feared he rarely has to kill anymore. But the life he’s fought to build unravels when he meets Elena, a beautiful innocent who teaches him the meaning and power of love. He wants a fresh start with her, the chance to start a family like the one he and Julian never had. But someone else is holding the strings. And escape is not that easy. . . .

     GO TO HELL, AND COME BACK BURNING

    The mob boss who gave Michael his blessing to begin anew is dying, and his son is intent on making Michael pay for his betrayal. Determined to protect the ones he loves, Michael spirits Elena—who knows nothing of his past crimes, or the peril he’s laid at her door— back to North Carolina, to the place he was born and the brother he lost so long ago. There, he will encounter a whole new level of danger, a thicket of deceit and violence that leads inexorably to the one place he’s been running from his whole life: Iron House.

    First Line:  "Trees thrashed in the storm, their trunks hard and black and rough as stone, their limbs bent beneath the weight of snow."

    Random Quote:  "Abigail froze when she saw how wet the bandages were, how stained the walls.  This was something terrible and new:  damaged hands and bloodstained walls.  She asked why, but had now answer; looked for reason and saw only madness."

    Review:  Who doesn't love a story about orphanages or reform schools - those places where children are hidden away from sight, where Lord of the Flies-style children's societies form, where adults are often the worst enemy?  They're like stories about asylums, full of that sense of Gothic danger.

    Ham Road Orphanage. I'm told this was Shoreham...Ham Road Orphanage - Shoreham - Image via Wikipedia


    Iron House manages to successfully combine Gothic elements within an action-type thriller.  The story is well-paced, full of twists and turns, and hits all the high notes for its genre.  Almost too good to be true (but not quite), Michael and his brother, Julian, are survivors of an orphanage.  Damaged in different ways, but still bound together by blood and history.  Michael survives by becoming a pragmatic, dispassionate killer; Julian, by retreating into madness, circling and circling for the door that will take him to a better place.  Separated by years their worlds collide when Michael's mentor, a legendarily ruthless mob boss, dies leaving Michael vulnerable to his mentor's son who considers him an intolerable threat.  As much as this is a thriller, it is also a story about love, forgiveness, and finding your way to home and redemption.

    Yes, parts of this are improbable and yes, some of it is predictable, but it is always thrilling, always compelling, and continually delightful in the twists on genre traditions.  One of the best thrillers I've read all year.  Highly recommended for readers who need a roller coaster ride.

    FTC Disclosure:  Advance copy from publisher for review

    RatingBlue

    Reading Challenges:  Mystery and Suspense Reading Challenge

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Book Review - Killer Stuff and Tons of Money by Maureen Stanton

    Synopsis:  Whatever the American Dream once was, it now seems to be about making an Antiques Roadshow-worthy killing. Every weekend, thousands of us trawl cluttered flea-market tables of family heirlooms and rejects to search for the one thing that will establish our good taste and pay for junior's college diploma. Among those hunters is Curt Avery, the plucky antiques dealer at the center of Maureen Stanton's charming new book. Avery, a former high school wrestler who favors sneakers and shorts, doesn't quite fit the image of antiques connoisseur. Through his sometimes steep uphill learning experiences, Killer Stuff and Tons of Money guides us through this intensely competitive subculture. An engaging read filled with tips and tricks of the trade.

    First Line:  "It's 5:00 A.M. on a May Sunday in Massachusetts, and still dark outside."

    Random Quote:  "In the sixteenth century, King Philip II of Spain collected over 7,000 objects, including 144 human heads, 306 arms and legs, thousands of bones and body parts, along with original works of art by Titian and Hieronymous Bosch, among others.  His nephew, Prince Rudolph, who in 1575 became the Holy Roman Emperor, bested his uncle's collection by  inviting artists, craftsmen, and alchemists to his castle to create things, a sort of preemptive collecting."

    Review:  I'm very fond of shows like Antiques Roadshow or the British game show that gives contestants money, sends them off into a flea market to spend their money, and then whoever gets the most for the item at an auction wins.  I like antique stores and junk stores and yard sales and flea markets.  I love to look at the stuff and to learn about its history.  What I don't want to do is collect it.  I have a huge aversion to accumulating stuff just to accumulate it.  I do have lots of books, but I could walk away from all of them.  If I suddenly became a billionaire I'd collect art and first editions and maybe that's my real problem - my tastes are too expensive for my means.

    Killer Stuff and Tons of Money provides entertaining insight into the lives of antique dealers as they move from show to show, collecting items for themselves and for others, and always in search of the Holy Grail of the one good thing.  It's a field that has an extremely high barrier to entry, requiring encyclopedic knowledge of material objects, their makers, their historical context, and their shifting worth.  Ms. Stanton's book gives those of us who can't hurdle that barrier insight to what it's like in the world of collectors.

    Amsterdam flea marketAmsterdam Flea Market - Image via Wikipedia


    There's an interesting conversation to be had about whether the assigned worth of an object makes it worth having or whether it's worth having just because it appeals to you.  I don't typically buy objects as an investment, but intellectually I can understand why people do so.  This book definitely stimulated my thinking about what people buy, how they value it, and why.

    Ms. Stanton's book provides history and examination of all kinds of information related to stuff, including some tips and tricks of the trade (although I wonder how many people could really utilize these).  Curt Avery, the star of the show, is engaging and interesting and full of history.  The read is consistently enjoyable and the experience is much like reading a thriller as you get sucked into that search for the illusive one good thing.

    FTC Disclosure:  Advance copy from publisher for the author's blog tour through TLC Book Tours

    RatingBlue

    Maureen Stanton
    I am pleased to be a participant in Ms. Stanton's blog tour.  Maureen Stanton’s work has been featured in Creative Nonfiction, Fourth Genre, Iowa Review, American Literary Review, The Sun, and Riverteeth, among other journals and anthologies, including Best of The Sun, Best of Brevity, and Best Texas Writing. She has received numerous awards, including the Pushcart Prize, the National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, and a Maine Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship. She teaches creative nonfiction at the University of Missouri.

    Be sure to visit the other tour stops to read more about this great book:

    Maureen’s Tour Stops:

    Tuesday, June 7th: Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books
    Tuesday, June 7th: My Sweet Savannah
    Friday, June 10th: Amused By Books
    Monday, June 13th: Mod Vintage Life
    Tuesday, June 14th: La Dolfina
    Wednesday, June 15th: 52 Flea
    Thursday, June 16th: English Major’s Junk Food
    Thursday, June 16th: The Shabby Nest
    Friday, June 17th: No Minimalist Here
    Monday, June 20th: BookNAround
    Tuesday, June 21st: hello lovely inc.
    Wednesday, June 22nd: Rusty Rooster Vintage
    Wednesday, June 22nd: Chaotic Compendiums
    Thursday, June 23rd: Books Like Breathing
    Friday, June 24th: Freckled Laundry
    Monday, June 27th: Gypsy Brocante

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Teaser Tuesdays

    Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
    • Grab your current read
    • Open to a random page
    • Share two (2) random 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!)
    • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 

    "She trudged to a chair, sat down.  "You're cops, you knew right away what I meant about the neighbors worrying.  Stevie's had a substance abuse issue since fourteen."

         - Mystery by Jonathan Kellerman

      Monday, June 20, 2011

      In My Mailbox Monday

      LA Mailbox
      In June, Mailbox Monday is hosted by Bluestocking. In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.  These are the places where we brag about share the books that arrived in our mailboxes each week.  As always, I also try to find a mailbox that is somehow associated with what I'm reading right now.  I'm reading Mystery by Jonathan Kellerman so a Los Angeles mailbox it is!  That's the arm from a Big Boy (of Big Boy Restaurants fame) figure turned into a mailbox.  How cool is that?

      Here's what I got this week:

      From the publisher for a TLC Book Tour:

      Just My Type by Simon GarfieldWhat's your type? Suddenly everyone's obsessed with fonts. Whether you're enraged by Ikea's Verdanagate, want to know what the Beach Boys have in common with easy Jet or why it's okay to like Comic Sans, "Just My Type" will have the answer. Learn why using upper case got a New Zealand health worker sacked. Refer to Prince in the Tafkap years as a Dingbat (that works on many levels). Spot where movies get their time periods wrong and don't be duped by fake posters on eBay. Simon Garfield meets the people behind the typefaces and along the way learns why some fonts - like men - are from Mars and some are from Venus. From type on the high street and album covers, to the print in our homes and offices, Garfield is the font of all types of knowledge.

      From various publishing contacts:

      The Urban Fantasy Anthology, edited by Peter S. Beagle and Joe R. Lansdale.  Star-studded and comprehensive, this imaginative anthology brings a myriad of modern fantasy voices under one roof. Previously difficult for readers to discover in its new modes, urban fantasy is represented here in all three of its distinct styles—playful new mythologies, sexy paranormal romances, and gritty urban noir. Whether they feature tattooed demon-hunters, angst-ridden vampires, supernatural gumshoes, or pixelated pixies, these authors—including Patricia Briggs, Neil Gaiman, and Charles de Lint—mash-up traditional fare with pop culture, creating iconic characters, conflicted moralities, and complex settings. The result is starkly original fiction that has broad-based appeal and is immensely entertaining.


      For the King by Catherine Delors.  The Reign of Terror has ended, and Napoléon Bonaparte has seized power, but shifting political loyalties still tear apart families and lovers. On Christmas Eve 1800, a bomb explodes along Bonaparte's route, narrowly missing him but striking dozens of bystanders. Chief Inspector Roch Miquel, a young policeman with a bright future and a beautiful mistress, must arrest the assassins before they attack again. Complicating Miquel's investigation are the maneuverings of his superior, the redoubtable Fouché, the indiscretions of his own father, a former Jacobin, and two intriguing women.  Based on real events and characters and rich with historical detail, For the King takes readers through the dark alleys and glittering salons of post-revolutionary Paris and is a timeless epic of love, betrayal, and redemption.


      Centuries of June by Keith Donohue.  For fans of Nicholson Baker and David Mitchell, a multilayered, lively, and wholly original novel from bestselling author Keith Donohue.  Set in the bathroom of an old house just before dawn on a night in June, Centuries of June is a black comedy about a man who is attempting to tell the story of how he ended up on the floor with a hole in his head. But he keeps getting interrupted by a series of suspects--eight women lying in the bedroom just down the hall. Drawing from 500 years of myths and legends in America, Centuries of June is a stunning tour de force.

      Missing Persons: A Kate Conway Mystery by Clare O'Donahue.  The cause of death is "undetermined," but the cops peg Chicago television producer Kate Conway as the main suspect when her soon-to-be ex-husband, Frank, is found dead. To make matters worse-and weirder- Frank's new girlfriend suddenly wants to be friends.  Happy for the distraction, Kate throws herself into a new work assignment for the television program Missing Persons: the story of Theresa Moretti, a seemingly angelic young woman who disappeared a year earlier. All Kate wants is a cliché story and twenty-two minutes of footage, but when the two cases appear to overlap, Kate needs to work fast before another body turns up-her own 


      From the author:


      33 Days by Bill SeeFor 33 days in the summer of 1987, Divine Weeks toured in a beat up old Ford Econoline van, sleeping on strangers’ floors, never sure they’d make enough gas money to get them to the next town. This deeply personal, coming of age, on the road memoir follows critically acclaimed 80s indie alt rock band Divine Weeks’ first tour. Liberated from alcoholic upbringings and rigid cultural constraints, all they have is their music and each other’s friendship. The road is filled with yuppies, brothels, riots, sleeping on floors, spiked drinks, DJs with no pants, and battles with racism. They set out on the road to discovery to drink in all they could and maybe sell a few records. They grew up instead.

      From my sweetie (although this isn't a book, I consider games storytelling devices so there you go):


      Alice:  Madness Returns.  Join Alice for a return trip to a wickedly deformed Wonderland. Confront the cruel Queen of Hearts and the revolting toadies who enforce her evil will. They're all mad! A fierce and nasty fight for sanity and control turns into a lethal struggle for survival.  The sequel to American McGee's Alice (one of my personal all-time favorite games).


      Happy Monday, all!  Don't forget to stop by other mailboxes for guaranteed lustage and TBR pile growth.