NaNo…. NoNo

I fell behind. The wagon hit a bump in the road and I fell off. I was trampled by the horses, scraped off the street and tossed onto the sidewalk.

Yesterday was November 30, 2011. In order for me to have finished NaNoWriMo I would have had to write something along the lines of 30,000 words by the end of the day. That didn't happen.

What bothers me most isn't that I didn't cram 50,000 words into 30 days. I'm concerned by how embarrassed I've been to come online and admit defeat. If anyone else said to me, "Hey, I tried, but you know how much else I have going on. I just couldn't get there." I'd say, "No worries. You gave it a shot." I need to extend to myself that same empathy. Chin up, woman! There's nothing saying I can't take what I started, finish it and rework it into something, now is there. Besides, I changed my mind about the entire direction of the piece and wasn't sure how to go on, leaving the first 50ish pages hanging while twisting the plot, mid-novel, into something totally different. I just wasn't feeling it this year, I guess. Or I was, but knowing I didn't have time to go back and revise made me reluctant to go on.

I'm raising the white flag of surrender. NaNoWriMo, you have officially kicked my lily-white, Irish/Dutch/English posterior.

I haven't been idle, though. I published an interview with Michael Cunningham in the Illinois Library Association Reporter. I also submitted a couple book reviews: one on Caitlin Flanagan's Girl Land for Booklist and the other Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina for Library Journal. Don't think either of those have been published yet, or at least I haven't had time to check.

Also, there are the blog posts in our local online newspapers ( and TribLocal), book reviews and an interview on behalf of the library:  an interview with Michael Popek, author of Forgotten Bookmarks: A Bookseller's Collection of Odd Things Found Between the Pages; my thoughts on Hillary Jordan's latest When She Woke; and also Peter Ackroyd's latest London Under: The Secret History Beneath the Streets.


What am I reading now, you ask? I'll tell you!:

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst

Plus my latest review book for, one I can't reveal just yet, mostly because it makes it sound mysterious and exotic. All I'm saying is: grim, short stories, southern. That narrows it down.


Soon to start:

Middlemarch by George Eliot

Bleak House by Charles Dickens

2012 being the 200th anniversary of Dickens's birth, I plan to read several other books by and about my favorite Victorian. One is Claire Tomalin's latest biography: Charles Dickens: A Life and the other possibly Michael Slater's Charles Dickens, about which I've heard only great things. I've missed Victorian literature. 2012 is my year to revisit a few old favorites and also give some new ones a try.



Also, I've been tremendously blessed by several publishers who answered my clarion call, sending me review books I requested, plus those who continue to send titles they'd like me to cover. Here are a few of those, received over the past week:




Special thanks to Coffee House Press and Yale University Press. Wow!

Loads of things bookish happening here, plus the inevitable pull into the holiday season. It's going to be a busy month.

Book chat and a book & website for rabid bibliophiles

Reviewing [SEE: Reading for and writing] has been taking up much of my reading time. So has dipping into too many books, finishing none of them. Right now I have two Booklist reviews I'm working on, one for Library Journal and a novel on its way. My library classics group is reading James's Portrait of a Lady, and after recently meeting writers including Bill Bryson and Michael Cunningham I now want to read/re-read their entire backlists. Meeting them reminds me  how ultra-wonderful they truly are.




For the library I've committed myself to producing at least two reviews on a bi-weekly basis, though further thinking makes me wonder if I shouldn't just make that one review per week. I'm making these book recommendation posts part of our already existing library blog, titling my portion "The Librarian's Shelf." It's pithy and the meaning is clear. Gotta be short and snappy these days. Say it in 140 characters or less or you lose your audience.

Hey, get back here!

Guess it's okay to say my first Booklist review coming down the review shoot is Caitlin Flanagan's Girl Land, due out January 2012. For Library Journal it's more Russian history (yum!) with Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina by Virginia Rounding, also slated for publication early next year. Won't tell you the title for BookBrowse, sorry. I know that's just crushing you but I have refusal option and can't say I'll elect to finish and review it at all.

What else in book  news? I finished Chris Paling's Nimrod's Shadow. Lovers of English mysteries involving the contemporary flashing back to a related plotline in the Edwardian era will eat this one up. Doesn't hurt if you're into artists of a young and handsome nature living alone with his Jack Russell terrier, either.




Here's a blurb via Amazon:

"Reilly is an impoverished painter who lives alone in a shabby garret, with only his unsold canvases and his faithful dog Nimrod for company. He seems destined to remain in artistic obscurity until the most influential art critic of the time begins to notice his talent. But no sooner has he found a patron than the critic is found downed in a local canal and the trail leads directly back to Reilly. From Reilly's prison cell in Edwardian London to an exclusive gallery in contemporary Soho, the clues that lead to the real murderer lie carefully hidden, until the day when Samantha, a young office assistant, finds herself drawn to one of Reilly's pictures and decides to embark on her own investigation…Steeped in atmosphere and laced with intrigue, Nimrod's Shadow is a gripping tale of genius, jealousy, and revenge – with a few twists and turns along the way."

Finished it last night at nearly 1:00 a.m. I had to know what happened, I cared so much about both Reilly and Samantha. Such great imagination this man has! Wonder if I can track him down for a quick email interview? Dear Readers, I will try.

Turns out he's written several other books as well. And somehow Nimrod was the first to make my radar. I wrote his publisher, asked for a review copy and voilĂ ! A couple weeks's worth of great reading (in between other books). Just wish Nimrod himself had featured more. Then again, owning two JRTs I'm a little prejudiced. But this one's not getting nearly enough attention here. Looks like it's available in the States in Kindle edition only. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing. In any case, it's a genuinely entertaining read and a page-turner and so dratted  much fun!

Paling's described as a melancholy but uplifting sort of writer. We need to get to know him better. Don't let the Brits keep him to themselves!

Guardian review – Nimrod's Shadow:

Finally, I stumbled upon this for the most ravenous of us Bibliophiles:



The writer's a used/rare bookseller, bestill my heart, blogging here. Pop over to see some of the curious things he's found in books through the years, and buy a copy of his book to have it for your very own, to read and re-read during the wintry months when you'll need a good laugh. At least I will, in snowy Chicagoland. Here's an article the author, Michael Popek, wrote for the The Wall Street Journal.

In my former life as an online bookseller I found some pretty nifty things, too, though nothing on the scale of this. My most lucrative find was a DOLLAR BILL! And, for a bookseller, that's a big boost to profits. The most interesting thing? Two black and white photos of Edwardian era women, taken in someone's parlor/drawing room. If Icould track down their family or families I would. Can you imagine the genealogical interest? I have a book (recipe and "receipt" book) with Nixon family genealogy written in. I've posted twice to Nixon family genealogical forums and no one's contacted me back. Know a Nixon from Ohio?

And no, I'm sure if it's that Nixon.

As usual, I'm having far too much fun reading and poking into corners finding books that make my heart go pitter-pat.

Have a lovely.