Thursday, March 29, 2012

Happy with the Hunger Games

Planning on going to the movies this weekend?  Perhaps you haven't seen "The Hunger Games" yet or maybe you enjoyed it so much you're planing on seeing it again.  Read on for our review but be warned, SPOILERS AHEAD !!!

For those living underground who may not have heard much about "The Hunger Games," the film is based of the best-selling series of the same name by Suzanne Collins.  It's set in a dystopian future where teenagers living under a totalitarian regime are selected by their government to participate in "The Hunger Games," a televised battle to death.  This battle is designed as a penance to the citizens for a decades old rebellion against the government.

Once again, anyone not looking to read SPOILERS, click away now.  You've been warned.  Now, on with the reviews, "Happy Hunger Games."

Albert: "I think the costumes and lighting were amazing. The audience could really see the huge disparities between the districts and The Capitol. I think if someone did not read the book he or she would be confused by parts of the movie."

Stanley Tucci, as Cesar Flickerman
Eileen:  "I set my expectations for this movie much lower than they should have been. In spite of time limits they managed to get much more of the story in than i expected. The casting was great. My favorites were Stanley Tucci (Caesar Flickerman)and Amandla Stenburg (Rue). Exactly how I pictured them when reading the books. My biggest surprise came from Josh Hutcherson (Peeta), I did not expect much from him as I am used to him being the bratty teen-aged kid without much depth. But he really picked up Peeta's emotions from the book and completely convinced me that he was indeed Peeta Mellark. I could go on forever about aspects of this movie but I wont. Costumes and music get a 9 out of 10 in my book. photography was a disappointing 7 out of 10. Overall the movie was much more than i expected, however, if you want to get the most out of it, go read the books :) "

Jess B.  "Honestly, I loved it. I was so afraid when I heard they were turning it into a movie that they would destroy it like everything else they touch. But I was quite satisfied. I cried through the entire movie and nearly took my boyfriends hand off when I knew what was coming next and he who never read the book had no idea. There are a few things I wish they had kept in the movie like Octavia, Venia, and Flavius. But other then that 95 out of 100 :D"

Rachel: " I thought the movie was the best book adaptation I've seen. Yes, even better than Harry potter. I thought the movie captured the tone of the book so well and I loved the subtleties, like when the tail of Prim's shirt was hanging out during the reaping. Even though they changed some things, I felt that the authenticity of the book was preserved. I can't wait to go see it again."

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark
Rebecca:" For me they completely nailed the tone of the books in the movie. Are there things I wish they had included? There always are, but overall this movie was a fantastic adaptation. I love the fact that Collins was so involved and I think it really showed in the integrity of the film. I too loved the little details - even really small things like showing Peeta breaking every twig as they walk through the woods. Every casting choice that I was hesitant on before melted away. Each part was played amazingly well. I especially loved seeing into the gamemaker's room and the scenes with President Snow. It added a nice depth to the world that we don't really see in the books since everything is from Katniss' perspective. I was so excited to go to the midnight release and I loved it so much that I'm planning on seeing it again today!"

As for me, I was really impressed.  I agree with Rachel that this was the BEST adaptation of a novel into a film that I have ever seen.  I think the fact that the author, Suzanne Collins, also worked on the screenplay was what kept the film so true to the source material.  

Banks (l) as Trinket and Lawrence (r) as Katniss
I also agree with Eileen that the casting was perfection.  I didn't read the novels until a few months before the movie was released but all while reading, I could picture Jennifer Lawrence playing Katniss.  Lawrence, who was nominated for an Oscar for her work in "Winter's Bone," had Katniss' tenacity down pat.   Also, Elizabeth Banks, best known as the beautiful girlfriend to JD on "Scrubs," or Jack on "30 Rock," was unrecognizably wonderful as Effie Trinket. 

Woody Harrelson as Haymitch
I also could not have selected a better actor to portray Haymitch than Woody Harrelson.  I loved that this film included some scenes not depicted in the novel.  I've read some criticism that Harrelson's Haymitch wasn't "drunk" enough.  When I read the novels, it's clear that Haymitch is a drunk but when necessary he could pull himself together to accomplish the task at hand and to me this was made quite clear in the film during the scenes where he manipulates Seneca Crane and helps Katniss get items necessary for her survival.  It was also clearly early on in the film that he really likes to drink.  I also have to note, I found him to be much more attractive than I pictured when reading the books. Harrelson also added a little snark and swagger to Haymitch that I loved.  I seriously wanted to drink some scotch with him.

I found the cinematography and artistic direction incredible.  I loved the stark contrast between the bleakness of the districts and the outward beauty of The Capitol.  At times during the scenes of The Games, it seemed the camera was shaky or they used a handheld.  To me that just added to the gritty realness of this film.  It was as if you were watching this unfold before you on some horrific TV reality show or documentary which is exactly what the citizens in the districts were forced to watch !  I also loved the subtle commentary both the books and the film make of reality television.  What is entertainment for some may actually be exploitative.   

The costumes, as Albert noted were amazing especially those worn by the citizens of The Capitol.  Beautiful outsides but not beautiful insides.  Albert also mentioned that people who hadn't read the book may be slightly confused by some parts of the film.  I went to see the movie with my mom who hadn't read the books and knew very little about the concept.  After the film she had a just a few questions about how much control The Capitol had over its citizens but she told me it was the best movie she had seen in a long time and she really wants to read the books.  My mom is not a reader so for her to want to read something, she must've really enjoyed it.

So, it seems like we all agree that "The Hunger Games," certainly lived up to its hype.  It's an excellent film that does the novel justice.  However, if you haven't read the books, please do, it will certainly add to your appreciation.  

Finally here is one more "review," that I would make Cesar Flickerman chuckle, Alan said "I didn't read it, and haven't seen it, but I do enjoy games, and am frequently hungry, so it must be pretty good."
I'm seeing this movie again this weekend and I can't wait. This movie is well worth the $10.50 or more that your local theater may be charging.  

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Laydown Lowdown

If Borders was still in existence, I know Rebecca T., Charles and I would've had a long night tonight.  There are tons of new releases out tomorrow.  How nice it would be to see the full carts of books ready to be set out for sale.  I'm a little melancholy tonight.  My only consolation is the cold turn the weather has taken makes my cat super snuggly.  Anyways, on with the Laydown Lowdown!

There is a lot of love to go around in Romance.  Here are some of the highlights.  Best-selling authors and icons, Danielle Steel and Barbara Taylor Bradford both have new novels out today with "Betrayal" and "Letter From a Stranger," respectively.

Also available today, "A Week to Be Wicked," by Tess Dare, "At Your Pleasure," by Meredith Duran, "Perfect Storm," by Lori Foster, "Caught in the Act," by Jill Sorenson, and the latest "Black Dagger Brotherhood" tale, "Lover Reborn," by J.R. Ward.

Saunter over to Science Fiction for "Dead Reckoning," by Charlaine Harris, the 11th Sookie Stackhouse novel is released in paperback today.  This is very exciting because I bet it includes a chapter of the 12th title, "Deadlocked," which is due in hardcover May 1, 2012.  Other releases in the genre today include: "Eternity's Mark," by Maeve Greyson, "Costume Not Included," by Matthew Hughes, and the 4th "Downside Ghosts," novel, "Sacrificial Magic," by Stacia Kane.

Moving to mystery, you'll find this book.  I don't know much about the plot but the cover and title have me hooked, "No Cooperation from the Cat," by Maria Babson.  Other mystery releases today include the darker sounding, "Death in Summer," by Benjamin Black, "Blood in the Water," by Jane Haddam, "Bones of a Feather," by Carolyn Haines, "A Hard Death," by Jonathan Hayes, and "Dead by Midnight" by Carolyn G. Hart.

Yaw over to Young Adult, and you'll find the sequel to "The Goddess Test," Goddess Interrupted," by Aimee Carter,"Obsidian," by Jennifer Armentrout, "Dark Eden," by Patrick Carmman, "The Fame Game," by Lauren Conrad and "Entwined," by Heather Dixon, and"Spellcaster," which is the sequel to one of my favorite reads from last year, "Spellbound," by Cara Lynn Shultz.

Fans of "Game of Thrones," will probably enjoy the "Game of Thrones," graphic novel out today.  This graphic adaptation is based on the first novel by George R.R. Martin.  And you know you've made it in life when someone mocks you, "A Game of Groans: A Sonnet of Slush and Soot," by George R.R. Washington is available. 

And that's your Laydown Lowdown for this week !  Happy Reading.  Remember, to support your local bookstores whenever possible.  Just because our blog is online, doesn't mean your shopping has to be.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Terry Pratchett: One of Those Awesome British Writers

I don't know why, but I have a thing for male British writers. Maybe the accent comes over in the writing? Maybe it's the humor? Maybe it's the pure awesomeness of British people? Either way, Terry Pratchett has definitely become one of my favorites. I stumbled across his name through one of my blogger friends and he recommended Feet of Clay. I got it from the library and stared at it and hummed and hawed and poked it with my finger. I very rarely read adult books. I have numerous reasons for this. So. I wasn't really interested. But then I got sick and it was the only book within grabbing distance and I wasn't about to get up looking for anything, so I started reading it.

Terry Pratchett is hilarious. And for those of you, like me, don't like sexy-sexy times in books (or at least, some people don't like that all of the time) I was excited that it was clean. I could read it without freaking out and throwing the book across the room. And I laughed! And it took me awhile because I was sick and it was thick and I kept having to stop so I could moan and groan in agony, because that's what one does when one is sick, but I finished it and I wanted to read them ALL. And there's a whole lot to choose from. Next I read Eric, because it was short and looked like it was making fun of Faust, which is always exciting.
And it included time travel and bad magicians (bad meaning not very good at being a magician, not meaning necessarily evil EVIL!, though maybe yes to morally ambiguous) and they go to Hell, and Death is involved, and Death is a wonderful, wonderful character.
I'm reading the Color of Magic now, which is very interesting because it is the official first book in the Discworld series. I watched the super long movie based on it and its sequel (it had Sean Austin in it which was WEIRD), and that's always fun to see the differences therein.

So, if them being hilarious and British isn't enough for you, I have more reasons! You don't have to read them in order. You can just pick them up and read them willy nilly. You don't have to read them all. You can stop and start and go bananas crazy, or only read one and never again. ALSO. The world is on top of a turtle. How awesome is that? Completely awesome. You know you wish your world was on top of a turtle. Like this:

This wonderful woman created an Amigarumi Discworld.
It is beautiful.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

March Book Club: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Being a little short on time this week, here's the GoodReads description of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children:

A mysterious island.

An abandoned orphanage.

A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

Care to purchase the book?
Barnes & Noble
Check out an Indie Bookstore near you
We don't support any particular store or location - we just want to encourage you to support your local brick and mortar store - keep them alive!

Spoilers Ahead! While we don't give too much away, we do talk about the book as though we've read it. Take a look at what we had to say about this month's book, or you can skip straight down to the end to see which book won out for next month's read!

Claire: I loved this book so much. I felt it was so well written, some of the sentences were so expressive and emotional that it blew my breath away. I don't normally read books with male protaganists but this one caught me right away. Even with school I finished the book in three days. I was sad when it ended because I didn't want to leave the characters. I hope that there are more books to come, and it did end with a cliff hanger so there could be more (hopefully)! I am so glad that we picked this book. I loved the way the author combined the old photographs with the story. So different from anything or any story I have read. I can't say enough good stuff! Loved it!

Jenn N:  
Like Claire, I normally don't read books with male protagonists. However, I am so glad I read this book. I found Jacob to be extremely relateable. His emotions were so well written. My heart broke when his grandfather passed away. I loved the depiction of their relationship. I also appreciated that the story wasn't rushed. Jacob grieved and went through obstacles before he even began to solve his grandfather's mystery. I loved how the vintage photos perfectly fit the story and didn't seem contrived at all. This book was unique and brilliant; I can't wait to see what happens next.

Rebecca T: There were a lot of things I enjoyed about this book, but I think my favorite was the home itself. I loved the idea that these people were being held in time and that Jacob could cross over into it. I love when stories play with time and do it well. The thought of being caught in the day before a horrific event is fascinating to me. The uncanniness of the story combined with the pictures made for a very intriguing read and, while it wasn't really one of my favorite books of the year, it was one I couldn't put down.

So what's for next month? We've decided to take a break from Young Adult and take my suggestion to read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society! We hope you'll join us and stop by next month to see what we thought. And while you're waiting feel free to check out our Facebook or Twitter feeds or deck yourself out in some new Booksellers Without Borders swag over at our Cafe Press shop!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Baby Got Book

Well, it's not my regularly scheduled day to post, but my colleague Eileen shared this online yesterday, and I think it deserves a home here. 

I shall now take the liberty of extrapolating just a tad, and improvising some lyrics.  Wish me luck.

"I like big books and I cannot lie,
you other readers tell me why,
when a book show up, with a big, thick spine,
and I read between the lines I get..."
Umm, quick! Somebody throw me a line here, that we can use on this page!

Celebrating Michelle Zink's latest release

March 20th was a monumental day for a dear friend of the blog's, Michelle Zink.  Her 4th novel, A Temptation of Angels was released!  While Michelle has already had 3 novels released they were part of her Prophecy of the the Sisters trilogy.  As of right now A Temptation of Angels is a stand alone novel, and while I have yet to read it (lack of funds have prohibited me from purchasing the novel) I am sure her writing style has not changed.  Michelle has a way of captivating the reader in such a way that her books are impossible to put down.

Just so you know what exactly you are getting yourself into I am linking the synopsis from Barnes and Noble's website here.

I would love for Michelle to have a great release for this book and her publisher (Penguin) will be looking VERY closely to the sales of this book over the next couple of weeks.  So if the synopsis peaks your interest, pick up the book!

And just so you get a feel of the kind of person Michelle is I will inform you that she is even having a great contest for all her fans to enter by doing easy things like changing your profile picture on twitter and/or facebook to her book cover.  Tweeting/facebooking a link to her book from amazon or barnes & noble.  If you want details on this click here.  Grand prize an IPAD 2 (among other things).

So please support a local author who really is all about her fans.  I have been honored to meet her and become her friend. Thanks!  (And for those of you who were actually looking for my post on my family's trip to see Pulitzer Prize winning author Robert Massie, that will be next month's blog)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fairy Interesting: Cinderella

Of all the fairy tales I think Cinderella is probably one of the most widely recognized and adapted. It's one of those rags to riches stories that just seems to latch onto people's imaginations. The idea for Cinderella has been around for a very long time and most versions share several consistent features.

Cinderella has a stepmother, an evil one who persecutes her and forces her to work as a servant/slave, and usually at least one stepsister - often two.

Cinderella gets outside help - whether from a tree near her mother's grave or a fairy godmother or a magic bull (in the Norwegian version). She also almost always receives help from woodland creatures such as mice or, particularly, birds.

Cinderella disguises herself in some way so the prince cannot recognize her when she isn't wearing her finery.

Cinderella loses her shoe and it is only through putting the shoe back on that the prince can recognize her and claim her as his rightful love. (Anybody else wonder if her feet were really so tiny that no other person in the ENTIRE kingdom could possibly fit into the shoe?! No? Just me? All righty then.)

But even these are not necessarily consistent across the board and there are so very many variations that it's not even possible to sum them up here. If you're interested, check out this site - you can read some of the different versions from all over the world.

A fur shoe, apparently.
Somehow I doubt this is
what it would have looked like :)
And, get this, the shoe isn't always glass. I know. I just ruined your life. Sometimes it's fur, sometimes gold, sometimes diamond, and sometimes it is glass. But in almost all versions there are 3 balls, not just one, and it's only at the last one that Cinderella manages to lose her slipper.

Most versions are a lot more violent than most people familiar with the popular children's versions know. In several versions, including the Grimm's tale, the stepsisters cut off parts of their feet to wedge them into the slipper. As the prince leads them away to be his bride (sometimes knowing she is not his love, sometimes fairly oblivious) Cinderella's bird friends have to point out the BLOOD TRAIL behind them as proof that she is a false bride. Ew. And in several versions, once the prince finally does find Cinderella (but seriously, if he couldn't tell who she was without the shoe, is he really worth it?) she walks to the church with a bird on each shoulder. Her stepsisters walk on either side and on the way to the church the birds peck out one eye and on the way out of the church the birds peck out their other eyes. Again. EW! Can you imagine that in the Disney version?

(Someone please write a zombie version of this fairy tale. I think I would love you forever)
Apparently Emily Casey already did!
Ooh! Want!
Of course, those are just the variations of the folk tales - we haven't even touched on the adaptations that have been written and produced. You didn't have anything to do, right? I can keep you here for a couple hours? Oh, good :)

Here's a sampling of some of my favorite retellings:

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. Basically, if it is written by Levine you should read it. I think this is true of all her books. Ever. I love her sense of humor and I am telling you almost no one can retell a well known story in such an unexpected way. The movie was cute, but the book? SO much better (imo). Ella is under a curse - a curse that makes her obey a direct command. From anyone. The characters are fun and believable, but it's the world-building that blows me away. It's so richly developed in such a short span of time.

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George. This is actually the sequel to Princess of the Midnight Ball (a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses), but you can totally read it as a stand alone. Both of these books blew me away. I love her style so much.

The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry. This is one of those books that you think is going to be a Cinderella retelling and then you think it's not and then you think it is and you don't know what's going to happen and you fall in love with the goat and decide to buy every book the author has ever written. True story.

Then there's the Once Upon a Time series, which is a series of retellings of various fairy tales. Before Midnight was a lyric retelling of Cinderella by one of my favorite of the series' authors, Cameron Dokey. All of these books are really fun, fast reads that put some interesting spins on familiar tales.

Don't forget about one of the newest retellings Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I haven't had a chance to read this myself yet, but it looks amazing and I've heard fantastic things about it. In this version, Cinderella is ... a cyborg. Yup.

Or, if you'd rather get the ugly stepsister's side of the story you can try Gregory Maguire's Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. It's told in Maguire's rich and fairly dense prose, but a really interesting story from the other side.

And I'm such a movie lover I have to throw out a couple of my favorites here too.

I'm a pretty big fan of A Cinderella Story starring Hillary Duff. A modern updated version of the tale that's sweet and fun and a great chick flick movie night movie.

One of my all time favorites is Ever After with Drew Barrymore. The character development is really well done and I think the second stepsister is adorable and probably my favorite character in the movie.

Of course I'm sure I've missed many. What are some of your favorite book or movie adaptations? Do tell!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Laydown Lowdown

What beautiful weather we've been having here in NY.  It seems Spring has finally sprung.  As I write this, I've got my cat cuddled up along side me and a warm breeze blowing in through the window.  I can't wait to curl up as well with some of these great new releases.

First up in mystery, Kate White, the editor of Cosmopolitan magazines returns from her recent stand-along thrillers, "Hush" and "The Sixes," to visit her original heroine Bailey Weggins, with the 6th installment in that series "So Pretty it Hurts."  Also new in mystery today, "Force of Nature," by CJ Box, Harlan Coben's latest, "So Close," "Red on Red," by Edward Conlon," and "That's How I Roll," by Andrew Vachss.
Isn't this cover awesome ! Her books are great inside too :)
New releases are light in other genres today.  In Romance, best-selling authors Cherry Adair and Suzanne Brockman's latest novels, "Afterglow" and "Born to Darkness," are out.

 Over in General Fiction, you'll find "Lessons in Laughing Out Loud," by Rowan Coleman and "Gossip" by Beth Gutcheon. 

I'm also at a loss as to why "Loss," the latest "Riders of the Apocalypse" novel by Jackie Morse Kessler is the only new novel out in Young Adult today.  Naomi should be excited though as this was one the books she was most looking forward to this year.

Horror fans may want to check out Dean Koontz's latest book in his "Odd" series. However, "House of Odd," isn't a traditional novel, it's a graphic novel.

And over in Biography, writer/director/producer Kevin Smith releases his autobiography, "Tough Sh*t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy, Slob, Who Did Good."  I'd like to debate the "did good," portion of the title.  To me Kevin will always be known as the guy who broke up Caitlyn Ryan and Joey Jeremiah on "Degrassi: The Next Generation."  I'll probably never get the opportunity to air my grievance in person so, I'm doing it here!

And there you have it, the Laydown Lowdown !  Remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible.  Pick up a good book and enjoy the beautiful spring weather.

Another thing that goes great with Spring weather - tee shirts !  Pick up your official Booksellers Without Borders NY tees, hoodies, totes and bears at our Cafe Press Shop!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Nominees Are...

Tomorrow night is our March Book Club Meeting.  We'll have some food, share some laughs, watch Rory's shenanigans, and ultimately get around to discussing "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children," by Ransom Briggs.  Then we talk about what we want to read next month.  This is the part of the evening where everyone turns to stare at Rebecca T. who is the unofficial book club leader.  I think it's her graduate schooling and interest in being a librarian or professor that subconsciously calls us to lean on her for her suggestions.  She normally has several and they all sound great.  Most of us chime in with a suggestion or two and we go with whatever seems to interest the group the most at that moment.  This month, I thought we'd round up the suggestions in advance and share them with you.  We're also interested in your suggestions as well.  We'll post the "winner" next Saturday.

So far, Rebecca has two suggestions for next month.  I imagine she'll have more by tomorrow night.  She nominates"The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society"  by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows because it is one of her favorite books of all time. She said, it's different than anything else we've read so far. It's a wonderful historical fiction with characters that just come to life through their letters. Or, if we want to stay in the YA family, she recommend "Haunting Violet" by Alyxandra Harvey which is about a girl whose mother pretends to be a medium and it turns out that Violet is the one who can actually see ghosts.

Jess B. and Rachel suggest "Fever," the sequel to our December pick, "Wither," by Lauren Destefano.  Rachel has already read it and thought it was even better than the original.

Jess P.  suggests, "A Temptation of Angels," by Michelle Zink, since it's being released this week and Michelle was a great supporter of our store.

I am up for all of these choices but I'd also like to suggest, "Bumped," by Megan McCafferty.  "Bumped," is a dystopian set in the future where a virus has rendered everyone over the age of 18 infertile.  Thus, teenagers are forced to procreate to keep the population going.  Despite being a dystopian, this book features McCafferty's offbeat humor and social commentary.

What do you guys suggest?  Let us know by commenting below.

Friday, March 16, 2012

What is Your Gift?

One thing we all, as human beings, seem to have in common is our quest to find our soul mate. Someone we love unconditionally, who in turn loves us unconditionally and adds meaning to our life, and our existence. The solitary person to prove, not only, that we are not alone, but also to prove that we are here for a reason. 

Within Paulo Coelho's writing, there is always a meaning to life. The words found in Brida are no different. Young, Irish Brida's story is really more of a quest. A quest to find the answers, a quest to find her natural born gift, and a quest to find her soul mate. 

The story is based around the progression of the human soul, and all of the elements that are the existence of our lives: memories, experiences, feelings, choices. And within this, is the existence of religion. Though, Coelho's focus is routinely a spiritual perspective, Brida gives us a taste of some religious perspectives as well. This particular story focuses around God worshiping Wiccans. We learn the steps and rituals culminating in a Sabbath party, as well as learning about the Tradition of the Sun and the Tradition of the Moon. We learn about the four forms of expression of the self. We learn about The Gift that we've all been given, yet few ever realize. 

For those of us that seek a greater meaning in life, Brida is the perfect piece of art.

"Nothing in the world is ever completely wrong. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day"   -Brida


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Experiencing Shakespeare

One of the best reasons for home schooling my children was getting to read lots of books! Another was learning along with them. Since our culture is replete with Shakespearean quotes, references, and vocabulary, the study of William Shakespeare was essential. So when we started Shakespeare, I was eager to find books that were interesting as well as informational. I found numerous resources that enriched our study and wanted to share 4 of them with you. These four books are aimed at upper elementary aged kids, but can be used with older kids, supplementing with other resources. I know I learned from these books, as age doesn't seem to matter if the book is well written. These books enriched our study and taught us much about the life and times of William Shakespeare

The first is William Shakespeare's Macbeth as retold by Bruce Coville with pictures by Gary Kelley. This is a prose adaptation for younger readers to whet their appetites for the Bard. I love the illustrations; they draw you in to the tale. It is a bitter tale, but one that reveals what happens to a person filled with greed and a desire for power at all costs. A good lesson to learn.

The next book, The Bard of Avon by Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema, tells the story of Shakespeare himself. It is a simple biography that reveals his life and the era in which he wrote. In it you can learn about his childhood, about why the "University Wits" were jealous of Shakespeare and about why his historical plays were so popular.Also, did you know that the Bard wrote his plays based on the actors?  Find out about Shakespeare and the Globe Theater. This short book contains a lot of interesting information.

If you want to know more about the Globe Theater, then get a hold of William Shakespeare and the Globe, written and illustrated by Aliki. This book, unlike The Bard of Avon, is more a "story of Shakespeare's world in Elizabethan England."(back cover) and of the rebuilding of the Globe- a dream of Sam Wanamaker that came true in 1997. My favorite part of the book is the list of Words and Expressions. These are words and phrases invented by Shakespeare, some of which are: "in my mind's eye", "not budge and inch" and "alligator". Read the book to find out more.

The last book, Shakespeare for Kids, by Colleen Aagesen and Marcie Blumberg, has 21 activities that tie into the study of Shakespeare's life. Each chapter tells of his life and then gives an activity related to it. Using this book's instructions, we made a hornbook, created a slashed-shirt costume( which the boys wore to the Renaissance Fair), and made goblets(play props). There is also a list of resources in the back that are helpful.

These four books gave my children and I hours of enjoyment as we explored the life of Shakespeare. I hope you share these with your kids, grandkids or just enjoy them yourself. Thanks for "listening".

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Laydown Lowdown

It's kind of ironic compiling the Laydown Lowdown, when all you want to do is laydown yourself.  I think the hour we lost when springing ahead has caught up with me. 

I'm pretty excited about one of today's YA releases, "The Savage Grace," by Bree Despain, the 3rd novel in the "Dark Divine" series.  It's a wonderful mashup of werewolves, romance, and Christianity.  I love it and I can't wait to find out what happens next.  I'm sure Rebecca T. is equally excited that "Spell Bound," the 3rd book in Rachel Hawthorne's "Hex Hall," series is out today.  She mentioned it was one of her top picks for 2012, here.  Also available today is the 5th book in the "Gallagher Girls" series, "Out of Sight, Out of Time," by Ally Carter and Sherilyn Kenyon's latest "Chronicles of Nick," novel, "Infamous."

Over in mystery, best-selling author Gemma Halliday deviates from her traditional cozy mysteries with a high-action thriller, "Play Nice."  Other new releases in mystery include "The Girl Next Door," by Brad Parks and "Another Time, Another Life," by Leif G.W. Persson.  Best-selling author, Oleg Steinhauer releases a follow-up to last year's hit, "The Tourist," "An American Spy."

Jump on over to Sci-Fi and you'll find the 9th "Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi" novel "Apocalypse" by Troy Denning as well as best-selling author, Raymond Feist's latest, "A Crown Imperiled" and "City of Bohane," by Kevin Barry.

Chick lit queen, Jane Green's latest work, "Another Piece of My Heart" hit shelves today.  Romance fans will loose a piece of their heart this week as I could only find one new romance title releasing tomorrow, "Bound by Desire," by Jaymie Holland.

And there you have it !  Another Laydown Lowdown folks :)  Happy Reading and remember, support your local bookstores whenever possible.  Just because our blog is online, doesn't mean your shopping has to be.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cover Love

Everyone knows, the old adage, "you can't judge a book by its cover."  However, some covers as so beautiful that you can't help but fall in love with the cover.  Here are some of our favorites.

Alan drools over any cover that features the art of Boris Valejo.  Valejo's art has graced the covers of numerous Sci-Fi novels, a few of which appear below.  In addition,Valejo also had dozens of coffee table books featuring his work in as well as calendars and prints.

Claire loves the cover of our latest book club selection, "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children," by Ransom Briggs.  This cover features a photograph by Yefim Tobvis.  I agree this intriguing and somewhat creepy image makes you want to read the story.  Hopefully Claire will meet up with me this week to give me my copy for book club?  Yup, I just called you out, Claire ! :)

Jess P. loves the UK adult versions of the covers for "Harry Potter," novels.  Over in the UK, Bloomsbury publishes the Harry Potter novels with separate covers geared for adults and children.  The text remains the same.  I located some beautiful examples, for more check out this page.

One of Rebecca's recent favorite covers is "Rosebush," by Michelle Jaffe.  She read this book based on the cover alone.  I agree, I want to add this to my "to read" list.

She also finds the cover of "The Thirteenth Tale," by Diane Setterfeld to be gorgeous and I might add appropriate for a book lover.

She will also scoop up any book with cover or illustrations by Bret Hequist, who work on Lemony Snickett's "Series of Unfortunate Events."

Stacey loves a lot of the classics that have been released lately with new vintage inspired covers.  To her they're not only great reads, they look like art on a shelf.

From Barnes & Noble's Leatherbound Classics Collection

Finally, I love the cover to the "Fallen" series by Lauren Kate.  The covers capture the haunting romance of this epic series.  Plus, I really want the dresses shown on the covers :)

What covers do you find beautiful?  Share with us below !