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.


Sunday Salon: October 9, 2011 Edition



Banned Books Week 2011 has been and gone.

My Booker Shortlist read has stalled, and besides, I promised Sebastian Barry (swoon) I'm putting all my karma on a Julian Barnes win. So I'm calling it: Julian Barnes for The Sense of an Ending. Never lie to an Irishman. Especially when it comes to karma. And when he's as fantastically, unearthly amazing as Sebastian Barry. Who should have won the Booker himself!


Not that Barnes's work isn't mind blowingly great. Oh, it is. It's great in the lean, concise style I love. And Barry's great in the poetic, soul-touching way. I love them both but I shall always feel bitter about Man Booker 2011.




Reading news? I'm working on S.J. Watson's fantabulous Before I Go to Sleep. Ironically, it's been keeping me up nights.




Ditto Nimrod's Shadow by Chris Paling.



I've also been downloading free eBooks from Amazon, long-forgotten older works someone should be reading. So I've elected me.

And the titles are occasionally hilarious:

Poise: How to Attain It

The Spinster Book

Books Fatal to Their Authors

Little Fuzzy

The Real Dope

The Unspeakable Gentleman

and, one of my personal favorites:

Space Viking


Also finished up Colson Whitehead's Zone One for review. Never thought I'd be so intrigued by zombie literature but it's heavily character-driven, written in Whitehead's lush style. I thought it a bit heavy-handed at first but it started to grow on me. Ignore the flippin' Amazon reviews. I'm not sure who's writing them, nor do I care why they've been so down on it.

The problem may be its style, actually. I found it perfect for this particular book but it does come off sounding fairly … Not sure how to put it. Dismissive? Aloof? Something like that. But my advice is to read it. It's started me on a Colson Whitehead hunt. I picked up Sag Harbor at one of the Borders funerals. Once I finish that I'll eventually get through his other stuff. Have you read his articles? Holy mother of God.

Plus, the cool of that man is legendary.




Need I elaborate? Didn't think so.

Post-apocalyptic fiction? I guess I was pretty enthralled by Stephen King's The Stand, back in my teens. I read the whole honkin' thing straight through, barely coming up for air. For food, rather and the occasional bathroom break. I holed up in  my bedroom with it; I could not put the thing down. Dismiss Stephen King all you will but The Stand is a fine, fine novel. Much better than that Dan Brown thriller crap as far as page-turners go.


Next week I'm meeting Chris Bohjalian, on his The Night Strangers tour. He's coming to the Waukegan Library on the 10th and I already okayed a short interview/chat with him. Excited for that.

May get to the Bill Bryson reading/signing via Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, IL, too. Only that's one of those auditorium events. And I'm not sure I have the energy to chat up his agent for an interview. Lacking that, I'm sure he's a fun speaker. He's a damn funny writer. Maybe I will.

Week after that, Michael Cunningham, Goldie Goldbloom and Elizabeth Berg.


And that's it for now from Bluestalking Headquarters.