Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday Snapshots: Trying out a new meme

Posted by Simcha 5:22 PM, under | 5 comments

I'm really not very good at sticking with memes that I start but I can't resist giving Alyce's Saturday Snapshot feature a try.

Here's a bit about the meme, from At Home With Books:

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. All I ask is that you don't post random photos that you find online.


I'm often tempted to post cute pictures of my kids that I've taken or scenic views of the town where I live, but since this is meant to be a blog about book this really isn't the place for such things. But I suppose maybe I can allow myself to indulge just once a week, through this meme. At least for as long as I stick with it.

And so for my first Saturday Snapshot entry I'm going to share with you a picture that I took a couple of weeks ago on my way home from work. The place where I work is just few minutes away from my house and this is the beautiful view that I get to enjoy for part of my walk home.

On the right side of the picture, by the tip of the mountain, is the Dead Sea. On the left side is Jericho.

Both pictures are of the same view but I couldn't decide if I liked it better with the fence or not, so I posted both.










These beautiful desert landscapes are a large part of the reason that I love living in Mitzpe Yericho.

Friday, February 18, 2011

HarperTeen Asks Authors 'Would You Want to Be a Vampire?'

Posted by Simcha 5:07 AM, under | 7 comments

As an interesting way of promoting their upcoming vampire anthology, Teeth, HarperTeen asked each of the authors who contributed to the book to answer two questions: Would they want to be a vampire for a month and which vampire attribute would they be interested in having.

Frankly I can't understand why anyone would answer 'yes' to the question about being a vampire since I can't imagine a more miserable existence, but it was fun to watch the authors come up with different answers. Though I was made a little nervous by those authors who responded with such enthusiasm about the idea of being a vampire. I think I'll probably stay clear of them.

The vampire attribute question was kind of interesting to think about. I think I would go with the shape changing. How about you?


Part 1: Would You Like to be a Vampire For a Month?



Part 2: Which Vampire Attribute Would You Like to Have?


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

More Fun Stuff From Around The Web

Posted by Simcha 1:07 PM, under | 4 comments

A couple of months ago I had told you about an author name pronunciation guide that had been published in McSweeney’s book review section. Well I just across another fantastic author name guide over at TeachingBooks.net, this one in audio format. This list includes hundreds of author names that when you click on them play an audio recording by the author, instructing you on how to properly pronounce their name. Now that is a clever idea!

Check it out here


I never had any particular desire to live in Minneapolis until I saw an image of these amazing bus shelters that are designed to look like ovens, promoting Caribou Coffee’s hot foods, and are installed with real working heaters. I sure would have appreciated a bus shelter like this when I lived in Milwaukee and had to walk 4 miles (or at least it felt like it) in the snow to school, and back, each day.



I have no idea who this Schuyler kid is or what his connection is to MakerBot, but his earnest and humorous sales pitch for the 3D Printer has certainly won me over. It's now on the top of my list of things to get when I have an extra $1,000. Just imagine being able to make your own pair of geeky glasses...(watch it and see)




My favorite SFF songwriter, John Anealio, has created a fun little ditty about all the authors who have new releases out this month. I wonder if I could get John to sing my weekly New Releases list. I think it would add a little pizazz to my posts, no?



If you have trouble getting up in the morning then this might be the perfect alarm clock for you. When the alarm goes off a ball is launched across the room, forcing you to retrieve the ball and return it to its place in order to silence the alarm. Annoying but effective. Though I am curious what that ball is made of since it looks like it would be painful if you end up getting hit by it.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Journal of a UFO Investigator by David Halperin

Posted by Simcha 3:47 PM, under | 5 comments

Danny Shapiro is an awkward teenager boy with a sick mother, a disapproving father and few friends. But Danny’s troubles are set aside as he recounts his adventures as a UFO investigator, beginning with his first encounter with a UFO, in 1962. Realty and fiction blur in Danny’s vivid tale of a secret society, a stolen journal, an alien seductress and the three sinister “Men in Black” who are on Danny’s trail.

Journal of a UFO Investigator is a quirky but compelling coming-of-age story about a boy who creates for himself a new reality as a way of escaping from his own difficult circumstances. Danny’s adventures of UFOs, aliens, and sinister villains is occasionally interrupted by his real-life troubles, as his mother’s health deteriorates, his friends drift away and his father continues to express scorn for the son that he doesn’t understand.

    He says: “What was all that stuff you were hollering to yourself in here? ‘Who are you, what are you?’- something like that?”
    So he was awake. We all were. In a death house, sleep comes hard.
    I feel myself turn red. “I don’t remember.”
    “You ought to know better than to go yelling like that in the middle of the night. With Mom so sick.”
    "I’m sorry.”
    He glares as me; in my mind I shrink to nothing. To keep myself from vanishing, I look at my essay, let my fingers graze the edges of its pages. This isn’t like the UFO journal, doesn’t come from a special place of truth as the journal does. It’s in school assignment style, though in school they’ll never care about what the passage of time feels like when you’re in pain. But like the journal, it might pass for grown-up writing. I suppose that’s why I’m in the finals. I run my fingers over the thin, crinkly sheets, hoping that’ll give me strength to endure what’s coming.


Through Danny’s imagination we get taken on a wild journey through time and space, never knowing what the story will throw at us next. I certainly wasn’t expecting a visit to Israel in 1960, via UFO, which was one of my favorite parts. But there seems to be a little of everything in this book so I shouldn’t have been surprised.

At the points where Danny is forced back to reality we get caught up on the events taking place in his life which gives us some understanding of what fuels the events in his story. Through his story Danny pours out the dreams, desires and frustrations that he is unable to share with anyone else in his life. And along the way Danny does make new discoveries about himself and even manages to find some of those answer that he has been looking for.

Journal of a UFO Investigator is very different from anything that I've read before, both in style and content, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I ended up enjoying it. I had a bit of trouble getting into to the story in the beginning because I couldn't tell which events were meant to be real and which fictional, but then I just stopped worrying about it let the story sweep me up. I'm now really glad that I was willing to step a bit out of my reading comfort zone in order to try this book and I think it's something I'm going to have to do more often.

Journal of a UFO Investigator is a wonderful book for anyone interested in a unique coming-of-age story, and especially for those who grew up with their own dreams of investigating UFOs and the mysteries of outer space.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
About the Author:

In the 1960s, David Halperin was a teen-age UFO investigator. Later he became a professor of religious studies — his specialty, religious traditions of heavenly ascent.

From 1976 through 2000, David taught Jewish history in the Religious Studies Department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Now retired from teaching, he lives in North Carolina with his wife Rose. Journal of a UFO Investigator is his first novel.

Monday, February 14, 2011

New Scifi & Fantasy Releases: Week of February 14

Steven Erikson fans rejoice! The final installment of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series will be hitting bookstores this week. Since I never got past the first book in the series this one isn't on my wishlist but I do have my eye on Green by Jay Lake which looks like a promising fantasy novel. And of course, I'd love to get my hands on Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination by Hugh MacLeod, which might provide some helpful tips for my own plans...

Hope you have a great reading week!

Oh, and if you haven't yet voted for your favorite entry in the Shattering the Glass Slipper competition, please make sure to do so here.





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Anglefire
Courtney Allison Moulton
Genre:Urban Fantasy
Publisher:HarperCollins
Release Date: February 15

When seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers - monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell - she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between archangels and the Fallen and faced with the possible destruction of her soul.

A mysterious boy named Will reveals she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the only one capable of wielding swords of angelfire to fight the reapers, and he is an immortal sworn to protect her in battle. Now that Ellie's powers have been awakened, a powerful reaper called Bastian has come forward to challenge her. He has employed a fierce assassin to eliminate her - an assassin who has already killed her once.

While balancing her dwindling social life and reaper-hunting duties, she and Will discover Bastian is searching for a dormant creature believed to be a true soul reaper. Bastian plans to use this weapon to ignite the End of Days and to destroy Ellie's soul, ending her rebirth cycle forever. Now, she must face an army of Bastian's most frightening reapers, prevent the soul reaper from consuming her soul, and uncover the secrets of her past lives - including truths that may be too frightening to remember.


The Crippled God
Steven Erikson
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: February 21

Savaged by the K'Chain Nah'Ruk, the Bonehunters march for Kolanse, where waits an unknown fate. Tormented by questions, the army totters on the edge of mutiny, but Adjunct Tavore will not relent. One final act remains, if it is in her power, if she can hold her army together, if the shaky allegiances she has forged can survive all that is to come. A woman with no gifts of magic, deemed plain, unprepossessing, displaying nothing to instill loyalty or confidence, Tavore Paran of House Paran means to challenge the gods -- if her own troops don't kill her first.

Awaiting Tavore and her allies are the Forkrul Assail, the final arbiters of humanity. Drawing upon an alien power terrible in its magnitude, they seek to cleanse the world, to annihilate every human, every civilization, in order to begin anew. They welcome the coming conflagration of slaughter, for it shall be of their own devising, and it pleases them to know that, in the midst of the enemies gathering against them, there shall be betrayal. In the realm of Kurald Galain, home to the long lost city of Kharkanas, a mass of refugees stand upon the First Shore. Commanded by Yedan Derryg, the Watch, they await the breaching of Lightfall, and the coming of the Tiste Liosan. This is a war they cannot win, and they will die in the name of an empty city and a queen with no subjects.

Elsewhere, the three Elder Gods, Kilmandaros, Errastas and Sechul Lath, work to shatter the chains binding Korabas, the Otataral Dragon, and release her from her eternal prison. Once freed, she will be a force of utter devastation, and against her no mortal can stand. At the Gates of Starvald Demelain, the Azath House sealing the portal is dying. Soon will come the Eleint, and once more, there will be dragons in the world. And so, in a far away land and beneath indifferent skies, the final cataclysmic chapter in the extraordinary 'Malazan Book of the Fallen' begins.


The Desert of Souls
Howard Andrew Jones
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Release Date: February 15

The glittering tradition of sword-and-sorcery sweeps into the sands of ancient Arabia with the heart-stopping speed of a whirling dervish in this thrilling debut novel from new talent Howard Andrew Jones
In 8th century Baghdad, a stranger pleads with the vizier to safeguard the bejeweled tablet he carries, but he is murdered before he can explain. Charged with solving the puzzle, the scholar Dabir soon realizes that the tablet may unlock secrets hidden within the lost city of Ubar, the Atlantis of the sands. When the tablet is stolen from his care, Dabir and Captain Asim are sent after it, and into a life and death chase through the ancient Middle East.
Stopping the thieves—a cunning Greek spy and a fire wizard of the Magi—requires a desperate journey into the desert, but first Dabir and Asim must find the lost ruins of Ubar and contend with a mythic, sorcerous being that has traded wisdom for the souls of men since the dawn of time. But against all these hazards there is one more that may be too great even for Dabir to overcome...

Down to the Bone (Quantum Gravity #5)
Justina Robson
Genre:
Publisher: Gollancz
Release Date: February 17

Lila Black faces her greatest challange yet as she takes herself, her dead lover and the AI in her head into death's realm. The Quantum Gravity series, set in a world where our reality mixes with other dimensions that are the homes to Faeries, elementals and demons, is unique in modern SF - a series that is willing to incorporate legend, myth and magic while maintaining a rigorous approach to scientific and pyschological reality. And in Lila Black Justina Robson has created an enduringly strong yet quirkily human and flawed heroine.


Green
Jay Lake
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: February 15

Her exquisite beauty and brilliant mind were not enough to free her from captivity. That took her skills with a knife, plus the power of a goddess.

She was born in poverty, in a dusty village under the equatorial sun. She does not remember her mother, she does not remember her own name--her earliest clear memory is of the day her father sold her to the tall pale man. In the Court of the Pomegranate Tree, where she was taught the ways of a courtesan…and the skills of an assassin…she was named Emerald, the precious jewel of the Undying Duke’s collection of beauties. She calls herself Green.

The world she inhabits is one of political power and magic, where Gods meddle in the affairs of mortals. At the center of it is the immortal Duke’s city of Copper Downs, which controls all the trade on the Storm Sea. Green has made many enemies, and some secret friends, and she has become a very dangerous woman indeed.

Acclaimed author Jay Lake has created a remarkable character in Green, and evokes a remarkable world in this novel. Green and her struggle to survive and find her own past will live in the reader’s mind a long time after the book is closed.



Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination
Hugh MacLeod
Genre:
Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover
Release Date: February 17

The acclaimed author of Ignore Everybody is back with more irreverent wisdom, wit, and original cartoons.

"It has never been easier to make a great living doing what you love. But to make it happen, first you need an EVIL PLAN. Everybody needs to get away from lousy bosses, from boring, dead-end jobs that they hate, and ACTUALLY start doing something they love, something that matters. Life is short." -Hugh MacLeod

Freud once said that in order to be truly happy people need two things: the capacity to work and the capacity to love. Evil Plans is about being able to do both at the same time. The sometimes unfortunate side effect is that others will hate you for it. MacLeod's insights are brash, wise, and often funny.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Another Amazing Post that I Didn't Write But Wish I Did

Posted by Simcha 1:55 AM, under | 6 comments

A recent blog post at Misfit Salon reminded me of this fantastically awesome post I had come across a while ago at the Tor blog entitled How to Lie About Books.

Here are just a few tantalizing bits and you will have to read the rest of the post at Tor.com, since, unfortunately, I didn't write this. Alas.


Allow me to teach you my five simple rules for lying about books.

Change the Subject

When engaging in the secret art of literary bullshittery, the goal is to change to subjects as quickly as possible to something you actually do know a lot about. It’s not necessary to appear to be an authority on everything in a sustained dialogue. If you’re talking to someone who wrote a doctoral thesis on the use of Platonic philosophy in Ubik, but you’ve never read it, don’t start jabbering on about the Theory of Forms. Your chicanery will be exposed like a senator in a public restroom. Mention instead that you once saw an image of Philip K. Dick on a tortilla.

Carry a Picture of a Kitten in Your Wallet

You’re at a room party at a convention and find yourself in a totally indefensible position, surrounded by unyielding fantasy experts perseverating on Anne McCaffrey. They all want to know what you think of Rengades of Pern. You begin to sweat. Should you jump off the hotel balcony or punch one in the face and jet down the hall? Then you remember the picture of the kitten in your wallet. It’s a tabby covered in spaghetti. You whip it out and they all go “aww.” Every one of them has at least four cats at home. It’s going to be OK.

Remember Titus Alone

Sometimes your only recourse is to out-lit-nerd your opponent, to bring up something they haven’t read. For this, there’s no better ammunition than the third book of the Gormenghast series. Why? Because no one has ever read it. Not even Mervyn Peake himself. He wrote it while drunk in the late 1950s and couldn’t remember a word. His editor supposedly cut big parts of it, but the truth is he just didn’t read it. They printed it anyway since there was a paper surplus that year. The person who wrote the wikipedia page is guessing. (I’m sure someone in the comments section of this post will claim they’ve read it. It’s all right. I won’t contradict you. Your secret is safe with me.)

Read the rest here


You're welcome.

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