- Bookstores charging admission for author book signings (via New York Times)
- Who needs spandex superheros when you got dogma spouting North Korean comic books (via Slate)
- A first edition Darwin, borrowed over a century ago from a school library, is finally returned (via Fox)
- Twelve thousand Golden Age comic books donated to Goodwill could snag $42,000+ (via KUSA)
- Conversation about will the home library survive the digital reading age (via Tree Hugger)
- In Burlington, Vermont locals are left to ponder the future tenant of a once valued, soon to shutter Borders bookstore (via Burlington Free Press)
- Plenty of ‘butts’ from this publisher (via Worcester Telegram & Gazette)
- Courts intervene in library saga in Montana (via Flathead Beacon)
- Give an indie publisher some love (via Guardian)
- Atlantic City bookstore closing its doors (via Press Atlantic City)
- One scribe is having trouble with reading these days (via The National)
- B&N is now selling more e-books than print (via PC World)
The Little Women Letters released in the United States on June 7, 2011, might conjure stories of alphabets formed in curvaceous feminine lines, or perhaps of young ladies writing snail mail instead of texting their daily woes, instead Gabrielle Donnelly’s novel is talking about the Little Women.
These women are Louisa May Alcott’s much adored, oft replicated, and beloved March sisters from Alcott’s semi-autobiographical late 1800s delight Little Women.
Donnelly imagines what transpires in modern day London to Jo March’s descendants. The three Atwater sisters, Lulu, Emma, and Sophie, are contemporary enough that a modern reader feels their woes, but similar enough in personality to the three surviving March sisters (sorry Beth!) that fans of Alcott and/or Little Women aficionados and book clubs, will feel quite at home with their tales.
As Lulu struggles to find her place in this world (out of college, but not quite sure what work she is interested in, not in a serious relationship, nor with any strong ties except to her family) she finds solace and kinship in the letters written by her great-grandmother Jo that she has recently discovered in her parent’s attic.
Might Lulu also be worthy like her ever responsible and soon to be married older sister Emma? Might she also have a passion deep inside her that cannot be squelched like her younger sister Sophie? Might she also have a curiosity for the socio-political world like her mom? Or potential for a lifelong partnership and love like her parents?
The Little Women Letters proves a standalone novel in its own right, as well as a wonderful companion to any reader of Little Women.
The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly was received for free for review by Boston Book Bums
We’re pleased to announced that September 23-25, the Boston Bums will be taking part in the Salem Literary Festival. Our first year at the Northshore book gathering is shaping up to be a great one. Details are still being worked out, but we’ll be taking part in an event at Salem Literary Festival talking about the world of beloved books.
Alongside fellow Boston-area book bloggers, we’ll be rubbing shoulders with literary luminaries such as Jenna Blum and Brunonia Barry just to name a few. To say we’re excited is an understatement and as the schedule rolls out in the coming weeks, we’ll be sure to keep you all updated.
Wednesday we’ll toss out the first blog post in the lead up to the festival with the official Salem Lit Fest Writing Contest: A Classic Re-Told.
As part of the ongoing post-BEA’11 series, Combing the Catalogs, this week we focus on the military non-fiction of Casemate Publishers. We’re selecting a series of books that piqued our history and military non-fiction interests ranging from release dates of July through November.
Release: July 2011
Description: When it came to weapons and devices of war, Winston Churchill wanted to cut through the cumbersome and delayed filled process of traditional technical war-time development. As a result Churchill created a special workshop of skilled craftsmen and women who worked on everything from frogman limpet mines to infantry rocket launchers. More reality than Bond’s Q Branch, Churchill’s “Toyshop” displayed the creative ingenuity of British engineers and could surely be an entertaining read.
Release: July 2011
Description: World War II first hand accounts of men on the front lines are always compelling. But what about the story of a self-taught musician who during war-time acted as a dispatch rider, following the advancing Allied forces as they moved from North Africa and into Africa. Along the way he learns new musical instruments, to dance and tour a war weary world from the back of a motorcycle. We eagerly await this release and hope to review it for you.
Release: October 2011
Description: To invade Europe in 1944 Allies needed to be supplied constantly and without stoppage in order to dislodge the forces of Nazi Germany. Crossing the English Channel was a daunting enough task for the invasion force. But to support it, logistics elements needed weather safe locations to stage from expecting German forces to tenaciously hold or destroy any continental harbor. So instead of stretching supply lines to the coast of North West Europe from England, Allied engineers created building two artificial harbors. And Code Name Mulberry covers this audacious effort.
Release: November 2011
Description: Mercenarys are romanticized or vilified. Yet not all soldiers of fortune pounded the ground. Many, including the subject of Gunship Ace, were skilled pilots who flew around the world fighting in war after war, no matter race, color or creed. From South Africa, to the Balkans and Afghanistan, Gunship Ace is the story of one man and the many wars he helped influence from European and Soviet-made cockpits.
Monday: Bookish Intelligence Report, the news from around the bookish world, leads off our week. Next up, we were lucky to have a guest post from noted playwright Laura Harrington who decided to leave the world of stage for print. Harrington’s post, The Freedom to Be a Beginner is a must read for anyone seeking to make a change in life. And the last part of Monday’s blog is a great interview with best selling author J. Courtney Sullivan about her influence, career and her newest work, Maine.
Tuesday: Fresh off our interview with J. Courtney Sullivan we review her book Maine, a magnificent slice of family dysfunction set on the gorgeous Maine coast.
Wednesday: Mid-week means another dose of worldwide book news in a BIR. We keep up the fantastic interviews with a chat with Simon Tolkien, grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien talks about his new book, The King of Diamonds, but also opens up about his grandfather’s legacy and his own career, from barrister to author.
Thursday: Read the interview with Simon Tolkien? Well, now check out our thoughts of The King of Diamonds, a crisp post-World War II murder mystery worthy of a summer weekend away.
Friday: Wrapping up with the week with book news in another Bookish Intelligence Report and we want you to have a conversation starter for the weekend: Are some book series better than other? Should some series be cut short or has there been a book you wished received a sequel or two?
Nowadays it seems about half the genre books released each year are immediately pegged for some kind of series. You get wound up in the hype about a new book, some intriguing, exciting story that has you hooked from the first online whisper. Delve a little further, often before even reading the book, you know straight off a sequel, trilogy or multi-edition arc is already planned.
Does publishing sometimes feel like a bookish version of Hollywood summer blockbusters, planned sequels to make them money rather than tell an entertaining story? Are you getting the most for your tight book sending dollar? Or are you being squeezed like citrus at a kid’s curbside lemonade stand?
How do you feel about that? Do you think that sometimes great books are stretched thin in order to create multiple books when one would do? Ever read a series and thought, ‘Dang, this would be great if it was one or two books, rather than four.’
Or, has there been a stand alone book that you just completely loved and wished there was a sequel? Ever come upon a character that just grabbed you, more of their story would be love, but they instead exist in a single volume?
So let’s hear it, what are your favorite series? What series should have been one or two books? And what single work deserved some additional books to explore the characters and the world they inhabited?
It’s funny you know you like a mystery for different reasons than most people- others rave about suspense, action, the courtroom drama, etc. Instead the first thing you mention is the respect two characters have for each other.
In Simon Tolkien’s The King of Diamonds we find that subtle characterizations and conversations were more texturally valuable than any murder mystery or bloodhound investigation.
The King of Diamonds follows Oxford Police Inspector William Trave as he pursues a murder investigation that is possibly linked to another murder that occurred within the same manor grounds a few years before. There is a prison break, hushed conversations and quests for revenge, all seamlessly portrayed by Tolkien in a classic little British mystery jigsaw puzzle. The characters had the right amount of fleshing out to make them walk off the page, without being over descriptive or heavy handed.
Most refreshing is the unusual portrayal of a broken domestic relationship in The King of Diamonds. To read an estranged couple, Trave and his wife, once in love but now drifted apart for complex emotional reasons, who still find mutual respect for each other is a great change. In too many American novels, movies and TV shows divorced couples are disgusting to each other, behaving like vicious spiteful children. In The King of Diamonds, Tolkien fleshes out characters with respect, even with the loss of love.
A well laid out, nuanced mystery that benefits greatly from the gothic setting of post-war Great Britain. The ever present class system, lingering resentments and the unique take on the criminal class provide a distinct undercurrent to The King of Diamonds.
Other superlatives, connections culled from Tolkien’s barrister past, are the sharp courtroom turns and inside look at British penal system of the late 1950s. Importantly, Tolkien doesn’t soak you in pop culture details that can easily date a work and make it too much about the time and not enough about the characters. The King of Diamonds is timeless as a good mystery should be.
Are sole reservation comes from our sense that Tolkien’s overall solid story ended up playing on some post-World War II/Third Reich plot twists.
If you want a mystery that is carried forward by solid dialogue and interesting characters- and not gore or techno babble- The King of Diamonds is a book that will entertain and not insult your intelligence.
The King of Diamonds by Simon Tolkien was received for free for review by Boston Book Bums