Thursday, August 27, 2009

ARCs and Uncorrected Proofs - James Patterson

Well, I got another Uncorrected Proof yesterday. I have four or five at home. Here's my problem. What am I to do with all these paperbacks when I am done?

Sometimes, I send them on to friends or family. Sometimes, I share them with people at work. But sometimes, the books are too specific, or written for the wrong age group, or....

Any ideas?

For now, I intend to take a few along with me on vacation and leave them on the ship.

BTW, one of them is James Patterson's new series for teens, Witch and Wizard, written with Gabrielle Charbonnet. Though it's a quick, exciting read, it really is for teens. Here's the set-up; twins, a boy and a girl, wake up to find their community has been taken over by an extremely strict and punitive system. Magic, art, literature and music are all forbidden. Of course, the twins suddenly exhibit strange powers that they were unaware of before. They are imprisoned, tortured, escape, join forces with others and....Lots of action, a little too much unsophisticated philosophizing, still the characters are appealing and I had no desire to put the book down. Patterson fans will enjoy it. Fantasy fans will eat it up. And anyone who thinks that they must "rage against the machine" will feel validated! It's not due out until December. Anyone want the ARC? Bidding starts now.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


So, I went to the Funhouse last Saturday night - the oldest inhabitant there by far, since the bar is designed for Lehigh students - just because the Locksmiths were playing. The guitarist and singer in the Locksmiths is my son.

Now, the music doesn't start at the Funhouse until after 9 and the place doesn't start rocking until 11 pm. I am usually snoring by then.

But I was really glad that I wasn't last Saturday because the Locksmiths are truly, truly, truly awesome. You can listen to their music online their Myspace page and the songs there are great. But you HAVE to see them in person. They are fun, funny and their music made me want to get up and dance. Only my extreme age stopped me.

The Locksmiths will be at the Hard Bean Cafe (Third Street in South Bethlehem) on Saturday, August 29th. Want to join me? I'll be there.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Monique and the Mango Rains

In 1989, Kris Holloway was a young college grad who wanted to make a difference in the world so she joined the Peace Corps. She relates her experiences there in the memoir she wrote with her husband, John Bidwell, entitled Monique and the Mango Rains : two years with a Midwife in Mali.

(Peace Corps trivia: 70% of Peace Corps volunteers marry other Peace Corps volunteers!)

Holloway's story is exceptional because of the character of Monique Dembele, the midwife. Holloway does a totally believable job recalling her own naivete. At the same time, the central character of this book is never Kris herself, but always Monique and Monique's relationship with Kris, the other villagers and Monique's extended family.

Holloway's book provides a close look into the culture of a small remote village in Mali, and insight into the way ritual and tradition affect how things get done. It describes how arranged marriages, ritual cutting, and a male dominated power structure made life hard for the women who lived there.

But it is Monique herself who is the star. Her photo adorns the cover and she looks at the reader with a wide smile, young, warm, friendly. Monique's hard work saved the lives of hundreds of mothers and newborns; her nagging kept those newborns alive. Her willingness to listen to other's ideas enabled this barely educated woman to make life in her village better for everyone there.

This was an eye opening book. Holloway intends to honor her friend, Monique, by donating the proceeds of this book's sale to the clinic that bears Monique's name.

Friday, August 7, 2009

I got an ARC of Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood (due out in September). I've tried to read Atwood in the past with little luck. Her bleak futuristic settings just aren't any fun.

Well, The Year of the Flood wasn't a barrel of laughs but there is a hopefulness in the book. The story follows three women who met as members of God's Gardeners, an urban back-to-nature cult that preaches against the indulgences of a dystopic future society. The disasters that global-warming advocates warn of have already taken place in Atwood's novel. God's Gardeners teach their members how to find food in nature and in the city and they prepare their flock for the "waterless flood".

The flood comes in the form of a virus that runs across the entire world.

Atwood does a good job of piecing together the stories of her characters.

When I read the book, I didn't realize that it is actually the second book in a planned trilogy. So, this week I read the first book, Oryx and Crake. I liked reading them in reverse order. Both books end at almost exactly the same point in time. I liked not knowing the origin of the virus, just reading hints in The Year of the Flood, and then having my answers questioned in Oryx and Crake.

Oryx and Crake chronicles the story of Jimmy, a minor character in the second book, his friendship with the aloof biogen genius, Crake, and Jimmy's obsession with Oryx, Crake's mysterious and beautiful mate.

I preferred the characters of Ren and Toby in The Year of the Flood to Jimmy and Crake in Oryx and Crake. This might be one of those trilogies in which the books get better as the trilogy advances.