Friday, April 27, 2012

No book post for me...

The time got away from me this month, but for a very important reason.  We now have a new little blogging fan who arrived 2 months early!  So to all you blog fans, allow me to introduce Miss Anastasia!

Since Anastasia was born prematurely I have been compelled to participate in this year March of Dimes March for Babies walk.  If any of you readers out there feel so inclined to donate to the cause you can just go here to my personal page.  I am so thankful for the work that March of Dimes does, especially for the local NICU, without them my baby girl would not be here!

That's all from me on my soap box.  If all goes well I will be back on track NEXT month with my mother's recap of an event she went to in February featuring Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Massie!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Under the Never Sky

"Under the Never Sky," is a dystopian future where life as we know has ceased to exist.  Crops and livestock have died off due to horrific weather conditions. As such most surviving citizens,like teenaged Aria, leave in secured pods where they escape through virtual reality devices that are "better than the real."  However others known as "outsiders" choose to fight for their survival in small tribes and live off of what is left of the barren world.  Perry is one of these outsiders.  His world and Aria's world collide both literally and figuratively when Aria and Perry cross paths in a mission to save their loved ones.  Aria is on a mission to find her missing mother and Perry is out to find his kidnapped nephew.  These two opposites don't attract but Perry and Aria need each other to survive and find their loved ones. Along the way they learn a lot about themselves and each other.  They also discover they may not hate each other as much as they initially thought :)

This book was terrific.  The different worlds are described in great detail.  This book was told in Perry and Aria's alternating voices which literally put you inside their heads.  You fight right along with them.  Aria is one of the most realistic teen dystopian characters today.  She isn't equipped with some supernatural or trained skill, she has to rely on her own wits and limited life experience in her quest to save her mother.  I love that she didn't immediately swoon over Perry.  Their relationship grows at a what I find to be a refreshing realistic pace.  I don't normally relate to male protagonists but Ms. Rossi did an amazing job at making me sympathize and root for Perry.

You'll have to read for yourself to find out if Aria and Perry are reunited with their loved ones.  If you haven't picked this book up yet - go get it now !

For more on Veronica Rossi and other Harper Teen authors, please read our previous post.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Featured New Author: Glenn Pemberton

I'd like to bring your attention today to a soon to be released book...

Hurting with God: Learning to Lament with the Psalms

by Dr. Glenn Pemberton.

Glenn is a high school classmate of mine, and has, through his own personal journey, dealt with seeking answers to one of the questions with which mankind has struggled since the dawn of time.  He draws from the Psalms and Lamentation writings in Scripture to help himself, as well as the rest of us, become more aware of things that are greater than we can realize. 

Here's the link to his facebook page...

Hurting with God: Learning to Lament with the Psalms

Rather than review the book myself, I'd like to take this time to let you see some of the endorsements Dr. Pemberton has received from scholars much more learned in the subject than I am.

Many writers have considered the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Pemberton, however, sets this philosophical issue aside to consider the practical. How do believers live out faith in prolonged seasons of pain and loss? How can we live with God when it hurts – and continues to hurt? Drawing from his own daily struggle with chronic pain and years of reading and teaching the Psalms, Pemberton leads readers on a quest to recover a lost ancient resource for people of faith—the language of lament. Through the exploration and study of imagery and language, Pemberton revitalizes this forgotten tool to rejuvenate those who seek to connect with God in times of struggle.

Endorsement from W. Brueggemann:

Glenn Pemberton has written a masterful study of the Lament Psalms that is sure to be a rich resource for the practice of faith. The book is well informed about scholarship and brings to it the heart and humor of a pastor. The book is accessible without cutting corners and so invites the reader into this rich prayer. The book is reliable, as Pemberton has read and digested an entire legacy of scholarship. Beyond all of that he understands the pain present in our contemporary world, the pain of loss, and the reluctance of the church to bring such pain and loss to candid speech. I have no doubt that the book will become primer for many people, and a reference point for more advanced study. In the end, Pemberton enhances and enriches the depth of faith and the passion of honest prayer.

Walter Brueggemann
Columbia Theological Seminary
March 14, 2012

From Mike Cope:

This book is honest—it’s honest about God, about faith, about suffering, about disappointments. It’s also profound, encouraging, and pastoral. A remarkable Old Testament scholar, Glenn Pemberton writes as one who has known his share of suffering and who understands that lament flows not from an absence of faith but from an abundance of faith. For its biblical insight, this book will sit proudly on my shelf next to Brueggemann’s works on Psalms; for its pastoral care, I’ll be handing out copies to many friends who seek to trust God in a world that hasn’t yet been set completely right and to church leaders who will be encouraged to return to this deep expression of faith-amid-loss called lament.
Abilene Christian University Press & Leafwood Publishers

There's already plenty of buzz surrounding Hurting with God: Learning to Lament with the Psalms written by Dr. Glenn Pemberton, esteemed professor at ACU. Be sure to join the 181 people who already "Like" the book which releases early May!

Endorsement from David Petersen, former President of the Society of Biblical Literature, Franklin N. Parker Professor of Old Testament, Candler School of Theology

Pemberton offers profound biblical-theological reflection about the importance of lament psalms, reflection informed by his own experience with deep physical pain and by insightful reading of the Psalter. This book will help Christians as they “live in the midst of the storm—to hurt with God instead of without God.” As well, this book offers concrete proposals for ways in which churches can include psalms of lament in their worship services. A deeply moving and insightful volume.

Endorsement from David Petersen, former President of the Society of Biblical Literature, Franklin N. Parker Professor of Old Testament, Candler School of Theology

Pemberton offers profound biblical-theological reflection about the importance of lament psalms, reflection informed by his own experience with deep physical pain and by insightful reading of the Psalter. This book will help Christians as they “live in the midst of the storm—to hurt with God instead of without God.” As well, this book offers concrete proposals for ways in which churches can include psalms of lament in their worship services. A deeply moving and insightful volume.

I wish Dr. Glenn Pemberton every success with the publication of his book.  If you've ever tried to understand why sometimes life just doesn't seem "fair" (and who hasn't?), I encourage you to read "Hurting with God: Learning to Lament with the Psalms."  Plus, I know he's had at least a couple of Basset Hounds in his day, so even if I hadn't gone to CHS with him, I'd still know he's obviously a cool guy.

Alan Andrews
Basso for Hire

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Laydown Lowdown

We've been getting a lot of rain here in NY.  What better way to spend the day than curled up with a good book.  There are plenty of new releases today to catch your eye.

First up in YA, "The Selection," by Kiera Cass is finally available.  This dystopian romance features a young heroine who must rebel against a futuristic caste system for true love.  The CW Network is banking on this novel being a hit as they've greenlit a pilot and are contemplating a series based on this novel for their fall schedule.  "Thumped," the conclusion to "Bumped," by Megan McCafferty is also available today along with "All the Right Stuff," by Walter Dean Myers, and "Ascend," the final novel in Amanda Hocking's "Trylle" trilogy.

Over in Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Stephen King returns to the universe he created in his epic "Dark Tower," miniseries with "The Wind Through the Keyhole," a new Dark Tower tale that takes place chronologically between books 4 and 5 of the series.  "Fever Dream," by George R.R. Martin is available in paperback today as well as "Bitter Seeds," by Ian Tregillis and "On the Prowl," by Chris Warren.

Andrew Gross, who co-authored several novels with James Patterson, continues to write mysteries with his latest release, "Don't Look Twice," out in paperback today.  "Betrayal of Trust," by J.A. Jance and "Afterwards," by Rosamind Lupton are also available in paperback today.

Finally, there is lots of love to go around today with tons of new releases in Romance.  Some of the highlights include, "Into the Dreaming," by Karen Marie Moning, "Under a Vampire Moon," by Lynsay Sands, "Wicked Pleasure," by Lora Leigh, and "A Whole New Light," by Sandra Brown.

Happy Reading !  Remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible.  Just because our blog is online, it doesn't mean your shopping has to be.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Forgotten Awesomosities: Icelandic Sagas and Tolkien

I completely almost forgot about this post, and so I ran online and was going to write about the first things I could think of.

The first thing I thought of was David Hume. But I'm not going to write about that. That would be boring and I would end up hitting things. Instead I'm going to talk about one of those awesome things that usually get forgotten about. I call them Aesomeosities.

Not a lot of people - that I have met, anyhow - have read Icelandic sagas. The titles are usually long and hard to pronounce, and are they history or fiction? No one's really sure. So people read Greek myths because they're everywhere, or look at Egyptian art because they're easily accessible. Now, I'm not saying anything is wrong with the Greeks or Egyptians, well... I'm sure something was wrong about them. Most civilizations had at least one thing wrong with them. But that is not the point. There are times when truly awesome things get lost among the blur of shinier more accessible just as awesome things. One of those things - I believe - are Icelandic sagas.

While working at Borders I came across this hunkin' baby: The Sagas of the Icelanders. It's put out by Penguin and it's massive. It's like, at least four inches thick. Sadly it's not a very heavy book, so you can't use it as a weapon, but regardless it is still fantastic. You are definitely getting your money's worth. There are introductions to each saga to try and help contextualize the following saga because I will warn you now: EVERYONE HAS THE SAME STINKING NAME. Okay. Actually, there's like five to ten names, but still. It can get quite confusing. But the Icelandic people have this wonderful subtle humor that is my favorite kind. There are some parts that can be a little bit confusing, or moves a little bit slowly, so I'm not saying these sagas are for everyone. But they definitely deserve a wider audience then they have theretofore received.

Theretofore. Heehee... That word is totally a cheat. It's squashing three words together and calling it a new word. English is hilarious.

Anyway! But there are other parts that move forward so quickly. There are adventures. And people are killing each other all over the place, so there's fighting and there's blood and there's revenge. And I'm not exactly a feminist, but I do have to say, it was quite fun to have strong women characters who could kick butt. There were quite a few women the men were afraid of. Sure, they pretend not to be, but everyone knew you did not cross an Icelandic woman, or there would be a reckoning.

Shortly after finishing this lovely collection of sagas I read this book: The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun. It's by JRR Tolkien, my favoritest man ever. It's extremely sad that he's dead or I would find him and capture him and make him tell me stories. Ahem. Anyway. This book you will usually find in the sci-fi/fantasy section. Let me be very clear about this: THAT IS WRONG. It is a travesty. This is not really fiction. This is, mostly, a translation. As in, it belongs in the history section. Or the linguistics section. Of the mythology and folklore section. But because Tolkien was known for The Lord of the Rings this book gets shoved in next to the Silmarillion and The Hobbit, which, don't get me wrong, I love both of those books, but JRR Tolkien was not purely a fiction writer. He was a scholar. He taught at Oxford (or something like that). He studied philology. He studied linguistics. He... Ahem. Anyway. This translation and re-imagining of one of the saga stories is a whole lot of fun. And the kind of poetry form he is using is really hard to do. Most people don't. But that's how much Tolkien cared about the Icelandic heritage.

Because the Icelandic heritage is important. Yes, so is Greek heritage, and Egyptian heritage, and don't get me started on Sumer. However, oftentimes I feel like the Icelandic tradition gets thrown out of the loop because it's not pure myth, it's not pure history. It's the awkward child. But just like awkward children can be some of the most entertaining, most insightful of individuals, so can the Icelandic Sagas. Trust me. They are so worth reading. And if the giant penguin collection scares you, don't worry. They generally come in very small selections so that you can ease yourself into it, or just get a taste of what this culture and literary tradition has to offer. It's totally worth it, because Icelandic Sagas are wonderful Awesomosities.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

What's Your Pleasure

There the books you're embarrassed to admit you like. You enjoy them but feel others will mock you for liking it.  They're guilty pleasures.  I'm sure everyone has one or several !  Here are some of our book guilty pleasures.

"Thirst" by Christopher Pike is "so cheesy" to Albert that he's embarrassed that he likes it so much.

Claire says her guilty pleasure is "The Little House on the Prairie" series, both the older and newer entries in the series.  Really Claire? That's not at all embarrassing, what are you hiding? 

Eileen, a self proclaimed nerd, loves learning new words and thus the dictionary is her guilty pleasure.

Rachel loves humor books like "Stuff White People Like," by Christian Lander or "F My Life," by Maxime Valette.  That's not that embarrassing either, being in "The People of Wal-Mart" by Andrew book that Rachel has laughed over though would be. 

Rebecca, loves to indulge with the Privilege series by Kate Brian. She says, "Adriana is the perfect psychopath!"  I agree with her and I feel a little guilty now for introducing her to this series about a crazed but loveable boarding school socialite who will stop at nothing-even murder-to get her way.

However, I'm don't feel guilty for liking "Privilege" or, "Private," the series it spun off of.  I am embarrassed to admit that I can't put down the "Fifty Shades," novels.  I read the first as a lark, which I reviewed here and I just got the sequel on Friday and I have almost finished it.  I can't get enough of the over the top romance, ridiculous over used phrases and laughable dialogue.  I think my friend Jen, is right in her comparison of "Fifty Shades" to the ultimate cult film and my film guilty pleasure "The Room."  For more on that, read here.

Now, please share your dirty little book secret with us.  There really should be no shame in enjoying a book no matter how cheesy or laughable.  So don't be shy, share !

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Second Installment of a Loveless World

The second novel in Lauren Oliver's Delirium trilogy, Pandemonium, will drag you right in. There is no real introduction or review of the first book, so make sure you've read Delirium somewhat recently once you pick it up!

Lena has just escaped the loveless world in which she lives - into the Wilds, and without Alex. The entire book is split between the present, a time where Lena is an undercover member of the Resistance, and several months prior: her first few months in the Wilds. It's not until the end of the book that the two tie together, so just keep pushing through the conclusion, and you'll surely be rewarded!

While Lena is still Lena, she's much more hardened in comparison to the first novel. I have to admit, it is one of my favorite character transformations in my love affair with books. For those of you who haven't read Delirium, make sure to do so before picking this one up. And those of you that have, put your shoes on and run out to get Pandemonium right now. And be prepared for the biggest cliffhanger of your life. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"There He Is...Miss America's Eye Candy..."

Actress/Singer/former Miss America Vanessa Williams is exceedingly clever.  Here's how I know.

During my lunch break, I frequently frequent the Barnes & Noble on 3rd Avenue at 53rd Street, here in Man-Squattin', NY.  Today was no exception.  As I walked in around 12:30pm, I noticed quite a buzz in the store, more patrons, more employees, and several security type-looking guys.  I also noticed that my favorite place to sit was cordoned off, and a table with two chairs were placed where they usually keep a display of books.


Then I saw the sign.  It said something to the effect of  "Book Signing Today.  'You Have No Idea,' by Helen and Vanessa Williams."

Hmmmm.  I had to make do with another perch, but that didn't really bother me.  If it weren't for authors, there wouldn't be books, and that would mean no bookstores.  And that would be sad, because that would mean there would never have been a Borders, which would have meant there never would have been a booksellerswithoutborders, which might have even meant that this post didn't really exist!




Whew! Still here.  Okay, good.  On with the story.  A few minutes after I found a place to sit, the buzz in the room increased, and I heard some B&N staffers saying things to each other like, "they'll be coming through here."  So apparently the appearance was imminent.

Sure enough, a moment later I heard cameras clicking, and more voices, and one in particular that I recognized.  Sure enough, Vanessa Williams and her mother Helen Williams walked in and posed for some publicity photos, then took their seats at the table near my usual spot.  They were still there when I had to leave to go back to work.

And yes, they are both very, very lovely ladies.  Vanessa seemed taller than I had imagined.  I don't generally go giddy over celebrities, but the woman is bite-the-back-of-your-hand gorgeous.  I have to say that she's prettier than the last published author I met in that store, Mr. Allen Topol.  Really.  A lot.  Both ladies also appeared to be very gracious when speaking with the patrons who came to get their books signed.

Still and all, I left feeling a little sad for Vanessa.  As I said at the beginning of this tale, she is an exceedingly clever woman.  But it all came to nought.  All that work and planning.  But there were too many customers in the way, so I don't think she ever saw me.

To think that she would persuade her mother to co-author a book with her, go to the trouble to get it published, schedule a book tour, and have the store set the table where they did.  She obviously had somehow found out that I work in the area, visit that store, and like to sit next to that particular window.  Brilliant!  Only to fall short at the crucial moment because of a crowd-control issue.  If she had only asked them to rotate the table 90 degrees clockwise, her dream would have been a reality.  She would have had an almost unobstructed view of her heart's desire, as I sat there reading "Catching Fire."  She didn't even get a chance to smile and wave, let alone ask for an autograph or photo op.

So sweet.  I was so touched by all that she did on my account.  She must read my blog.  I would have loved to stay a little longer, but I did have to get back to work.  Besides, if I made an exception for her, I'd have to make an exception for everyone, and honestly, I am entitled to a little privacy.

'Nessa (she loves it when I call her that), if you're reading this, I usually take the 5:20 bus in the evening.  Maybe next time, sweetie.  Until then, I am...

Basso For Hire


Spellcaster by Cara Lynn Shultz

"Spellcaster," picks up a few months after "Spellbound," left off.  Emma and Brendan successfully broke the curse that threatened their lives and their relationship and have been blissfully living happily ever after.  Unfortunately, one of Brendan's ex-girlfriends has a vendetta and the couple must fight against a new supernatural curse and and natural jealously.  Will Emma's burgeoning witchcraft skills be enough to save their relationship and their lives again?  You'll have to read the book to discover yourself.

"Spellcaster," was just as good if not better than the original.  Shultz has a knack for keeping teenage dialogue fresh and contemporary.  The plot is fast-paced and provides edge of your seat thrills mixed with comic relief, magical fun, steamy but not too steamy romance, and thought provoking discussion of whether revenge is really sweet.  Set amongst a romanticized New York City, this is one YA novel that shouldn't be missed.

Special thanks to @netgalley for providing the digital ARC for this review.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Spring Into the Future Recap AND Giveaway!

Rebecca, Jenn, Rachel
Posing in front of the display!
On Sunday, Rebecca, Jenn, and Rachel met up and took the train into New York to go to the Spring Into the Future book signing at Books of Wonder. We were so excited to get to meet these fabulous authors!

Tahereh Mafi was signing her novel Shatter Me, Anna Carey was signing her novel Eve, Veronica Rossi was signing her novel Under the Never Sky and special guest Lauren Oliver was specifically touring for Pandemonium the sequel to her dystopian Delirium. It was definitely a dystopian bunch and it was great to hear them weigh in on why they write about the end of the world and why they think the genre has gotten so popular.

First off, Books of Wonder is the cutest little book store ever. And all those kids books had the three of us practically drooling. We each said "ooh! I should get this!" about 4,000 times. Unfortunately we could not buy that many books, but we managed to spend a bit more than we probably should have anyway.

Delicious burger and fries!
We got there pretty early and managed to get good tickets. Jenn was 007, which made us all dorkily happy. After grabbing lunch at a yummy burger place we returned and found a spot of floor where we had a good view of the table. It also happened to be at a spot where we could see into the back room where the authors were waiting and it was really tempting to just act nonchalant and wander back there and then fangirl. But we didn't want to get thrown out, so.....
The Authors! (and emcee - whose name I cannot remember! eek!)
L to R Lauren Oliver, Anna Carey, Tahereh Mafi, Veronica Rossi
Tahereh and Veronica
Anna and Tahereh - and Lauren's ear :)
Each of the authors read a snippet from their book, which was really fun and then they did a Q&A. These women are hilarious.

We found out that Tahereh would like to be her antagonist, Warner, for a day, even though it would be awkward... since he's a boy, that Anna Carey loves reading survival manuals so she will be able to take care of herself during the apocalypse,
Anna, Tahereh, Veronica
that Veronica Rossi once lost her sketchbook on a plane (I think it was) and it got returned to her, but she was miserable for the month it was missing, and that Lauren Oliver is all for using boys as slave labor.

We got SWAG!
Showing off our Shatter Me necklaces :D
We also learned that, while we may act like crazy adolescent girls, we are not and sitting cross-legged on the floor for so long is not a pleasant experience anymore. Yes, we were the ones staggering to our feet and trying to work circulation back into our legs when the Q&A was over :)

It was really nice to talk to each of the authors during the signing and how giddy were we over Tahereh's swag?!

AND, because we're super nice, we even snagged a signed copy for one of our lucky followers! Jenn also picked up an extra one of the Spring Into the Future tour posters, plus we're throwing in a Hunger Games bookmark. We would have loved to give away a book from each author, but it just wasn't feasible this time, so we had to choose one. And since Rebecca found out about the tour because of Tahereh, we decided to give away a copy of Shatter Me!
Here's what we thought of the book (we'll stay clear of spoilers for you!):

Jenn N: Tahereh does a wonderful job of putting you inside the mind of Juliette. You feel her the fear and confusion of her wrongful imprisonment right along with her. When Juliette learns to fight back, you'll be just as dazed and amazed as she was. Tahereh also does a great job of layering her characters - can Adam really be trusted? Is Warner truly evil? Read this book and decide for yourself.

Rebecca T: Juliette is an outcast a menace to society a lonely, broken, seventeen year old girl. She can't touch anyone because of her curse gift and now the Reestablishment wants to exploit utilize her talent. So Juliette has to fight for her life, for freedom, for love, and for the very soul of humanity that is being destroyed. With characters that live vibrantly on the page and in your mind, a premise that's intense and a little too real, and a style that will suck you into the story and not let go, this is a book you don't want to miss.

Claire: Such a good book. I thought that the crossing out would bother me at first, but the more I read, it was either the less I noticed or maybe the more it helped. Either way it was so different from anything I have read. So good!

Rachel: This book was a breath of dystopian fresh air. I was prepared for another fluffy YA book but found a love story that made my bones ache and an adventure that made my heart race. Tahereh was so inspirational and approachable and I feel privileged to have met her.

Stay tuned - You could very well see some reviews of the other books from the tour once we've had a chance to read and think about them! For now you can check out Stacey's review of Lauren Oliver's Delirium, the first book in the series!

To enter you just have to leave a comment on this post, letting us know what extra power you would want to have, and fill out the Rafflecopter so we can contact you if you win! (In some views there is a "view more" link below - you'll have to click on this to view the Rafflecopter and to enter the contest) This is our first time using Rafflecopter so if there are any problems please let us know! There are also chances for extra entries :) We love all our readers, but we have to limit this drawing to the US and Canada for shipping reasons. The contest will run through the end of the month - April 30th - and we'll announce the winners during our May 1st Laydown Lowdown! May the odds be ever in your favor! (oh wait, wrong book!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Laydown Lowdown

Are you as burnt out by taxes as I am ?  Today is the due date for filing your income taxes.  I took it down to the wire and just finished my paperwork last night.  Hopefully, you can relax now with some of today's new releases.

First up in YA is "The Last Echo," the latest in "The Body Finder," series by Kimberly Derting.  Fortunately for fans, the title is deceiving and this is not the last story about teenaged Violet and her uncanny ability to sense dead bodies.  In this installment Violet advances from helping her local police department to working for a FBI style investigation team to stop a serial killer.  This series mixes a lot of heart with thrilling mystery.  The previous installment, "Desires of the Dead," is new in paperback today. 

Meanwhile, over in Romance you'll find "Fifty Shades Darker," and "Fifty Shades Freed," the second and third novels in EL James', best-selling "Fifty Shades" trilogy.  In case you missed it, check out my review of the first installment here and for and alternative review, check out my best friend's review on her site, Chicks Dig Books.  Best-selling author, Nora Roberts' latest novel, "The Witness is available today along with "An Accidental Afffair," by Eric Jerome Dickey.

Moving over to the Mystery section, you'll see "Unnatural Acts," the 23rd "Stone Barrington" novel by Stuart Woods, "Pirate King," the 11th entry in Laurie R. King's  "Mary Russell" series and "The Snowman," by Jo Nesbo now in paperback.

Head on over to Sci-Fi and you'll find that the entire "Acacia" trilogy by David Anthony Durham has been released in paperback.  This includes "Acacia," "Other Lands," and "Sacred Band."  "Roboapoclaypse" by Daniel H. Wilson is also new in paperback today.

Chick Lit fans will want to check out "More Like Her," by Liza Palmer and "Garden of Happy Endings," by Barbara O'Neal which are new today.

That's your Laydown Lowdown for the week of April 17th !  Happy Reading !  Remember to support your local bookstore whenever possible.  Just because our blog is online, it doesn't mean your shopping has to be :)  Also, please check back tomorrow for details on an exciting GIVEAWAY !

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Name Game

Many current authors use pseudonyms.  Yesterday, Alan wrote about JD Robbs' Eve Dallas mysteries.  JD Robb is the alias of best-selling author Nora Roberts.  Kate Brian, the best-selling author of the Private series also writes YA under her given name, Kiernan Scott.  YA and chick lit author Meg Cabot has also written under the name Jenny Carroll.  The most famous pseudonyms are probably Dr. Seuss and Mark Twain aka Theodor Geisel and Samuel Clemens, respectively.  Authors use pseudonyms for various reasons to market themselves for different genres, age groups or when working with different publishers. Or maybe they just want to spice up their given name. 

A lot of who worked at Borders and write for this blog also love to engage in creative writing too.  Whether it be for fun or dreams of being published or produced.  Rebecca has written Christian fiction and her sister, Naomi, has written fantasy fiction. Claire has been working on an epic western. I write screenplays.  Despite all this writing, we can't get enough !  I started thinking, what pseudonyms would we use ?  We thought we'd share them with you.  Maybe one day, you'll see our books on a shelf under one or both of our names !!

Rebecca and Naomi are planning collaborating their talents and writing a dystopian series using the collective name, Reyna McNicol.  I like, it sounds a lot more mysterious and intriguing than Suzanne Collins.

Jess P. would like to write children's books under the name, Pardetym.  

Rachel would like to write fiction mystery/horror/fantasy for Independent Readers under the name, Eerie James.  I can see her giving R.L. Stine a run for his money under this name !

After finishing her western, Claire would go on to write mysteries Romance and Mystery novels under the name Kathy Brooks.

Our resident comedian, Alan, would write Erotica under the name Harry Thoracks.   

I write my screenplays under my own name and with my trusted writing partner but I'd love to write a YA series that is a contemporary version of Sweet Valley High.  Something contemporary and soapy but still sweet with a moral.  I'd use the name Cupcake Arquette a blend of my favorite my food and my celebrity dream man, David Arquette.

 What about you?  What pseudonym would you use or do you use?

Friday, April 13, 2012

I Dipped My Toe in J. D. Robb's Pool

New York to Dallas, by J. D. Robb

I've only got about 4 different books going right now.  Well, actually that's not technically true.  I've been staggering my way through The Walking Dead graphic novels lately, in an effort to assuage my craving for the TV series, which is now between seasons.  And, as many of you are by now aware, I'm waiting for the sixth book in George R. R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire", which will hopefully be released before I die.  So waiting for a book in a series, and "reading" graphic novels maybe don't technically count.

So really, there are two books in my life right now.  One of them is "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" by Seth Graham-Greane.  More on that some other time.

The other is actually the subject of this post.  It was an impulsive fling that sort of happened on the spur of the moment.  I was looking for something new from one of my favorite current authors, and sort of "cover browsing."  Didn't find anything that jumped out at me except for one title: "New York to Dallas," by J. D. Robb.  I've never read any of Robb's work.  But being a native Texan, and having spent the first half of my life within an hour of Dallas, I was intrigued.  I made eye contact with it, and picked it up.  Holding the book in one hand, I lightly ran my fingertips across the cover, and read the blurb on the back.  Ah, a double meaning.  The main character is a female New York detective, Lieutenant Eve Dallas (okay, I like detective stories.  I like females, too).  And something tragic and awful happens that causes her to go "back to Dallas" (Oh, you wicked, flirty book!  I must have you!).  So I bought it, and told myself, "if you can't read the ones you love, read the one your with."

"New York to Dallas" was a very enjoyable read.  I don't always get too heavily invested in female protagonists, mainly because I usually like to really identify with my main characters and, well, it is what it is.  Eve Dallas is an exception (Clarice Starling is another).  She is a recurring heroine in Robb's books.  As I said, I haven't read any of J. D. Robb's other stories, but that didn't hinder me at all from quickly getting a feel for the characters and settings.
Robb's story takes place in mid-21st century New York and Dallas (don't let the dates fool you - this isn't a sci-fi fantasy - it's just set comfortably enough in the future to throw in some enhanced technologies without beating you over the head with them.  The plot really starts to unfold when Dallas finds out that a kidnapper/murderer/pedophile she apprehended as a rookie has escaped from prison, bent on revenge.  This revelation, subsequent investigation, and the escapee's taunting challenges to Lt. Dallas both steel her resolve to catch him again, and re-awaken awful nightmares from her own childhood.

Plot twists and new developments abound.  In a good way.  I'm not typically one to dish out spoilers, so I won't get into a synopsis.  I will say that I recommend "New York to Dallas" if you're a fan of mystery/thrillers, as I am, and I will also say that J. D. Robb is now definitely on my list of authors that will get my attention the next time I'm browsing.

Alan Andrews - Basso for Hire

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey

"Fifty Shades of Grey" has been getting a lot of buzz lately. What initially started out as a "Twilight" fan fiction by EL James has become somewhat of a literary phenomenon.  The fan fiction morphed into a totally new, adult's only, concept and James self-published her full length novel as an e-book.  The book went on to top e-book bestseller lists.  On April 3, 2012 the book was released in print by Vintage Publishing and currently tops The New York Times Bestsellers List, The Barnes and Noble Bestsellers List, among many others.  The book landed a cover story on a recent issue of "Entertainment Weekly."  The rights to the novel have even been purchased by Universal Studios Focus Films Division.  All this buzz made me wonder if this novel was truly worth its hype.  I was also a little confused by all the record sales and hype as "Fifty Shades of Grey," is an erotic novel and the genre is nothing new and rarely generates the kind of sales "Fifty Shades of Grey" is getting.  I had to see what all the fuss was about.
I flew through the book in two days.  The plot was definitely intriguing, "Fifty Shades of Grey," details the romance and explicit sexual relationship of the sweet, innocent 21-year-old Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey a billionaire business man in his late 20's.  Anastasia is finishing her senior year of college when she meets Mr. Grey while interviewing him for her college newspaper.  Their relationship grows slowly and Mr. Grey soon invites Anastasia into his private world of BDSM.  As there relationship grows, they both find themselves doing things they never thought they'd do.  Anastasia grows more uninhibited while Christian grows more sensitive.  

The writing is pretty good but not excellent.  The descriptions of their sexual activities definitely get your heart racing and you'll probably insert the paramour of your choice into your visualization of the scenes. My lips are sealed as to who I pictured as my own Mr. Grey.  However, some phrases were overused to the point of being annoying.  Every time Ana wants to assert herself she "summons" her "inner goddess."  She also continually refers to her vagina as her "sex."  Mr. Grey also repeatedly asks Ana "what are you doing to me?" when he lets his guard down around her.  I was also perplexed why Ana felt uncomfortable letting the wealthy Mr. Grey lavish her with gifts but didn't see any problem living rent free in her wealthy roommate's condo or wearing her roommates designer clothes.

While this was a very entertaining read and I am hooked enough to read the subsequent sequels, I really don't understand the fuss.  I am also very curious how a the future filmmakers plan on transforming this novel to a feature film that won't be starring someone like Jenna Jameson or Sasha Grey. (On second thought, Sasha Grey may be perfect for "Fifty Shades of Grey," lol)

This novel isn't straight up erotica, it's a romance with heavy erotic scenes which is precisely what Ellora's Cave Publishing has been doing for years.  Ellora's Cave describes themselves as "The world's first & foremost publisher of erotic romance for women." They specialize in, what they call, Romantica, a blend of romance and erotica (for specifics, read their definition here.)  They offer short stories, novellas and novels in both print and e-book form by various authors.  I have read many of them.  The website allows you to select your fetish of choice and you can even choose tales from wild to mild depending on how hot you like your romance.  If you enjoyed "Fifty Shades of Grey," please check out Ellora's Cave, they've been doing erotic romance a lot longer and in my opinion a lot better.

Please share your opinion.  Did you read "Fifty Shades of Grey"?  If so, what did you think of it?  What do you think or erotic novels/erotic romance in general?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Sounds of Music

Do you hear what I hear? Music is a vital part of our lives. But teaching it to my children was a challenge. It always seemed like an optional subject. So I had to search for books that would help dispel that nonessential deception. Music was an important part of a classical education, so it should be important for today. It is interesting how music got relegated to the area of entertainment in the United States. But that is another topic altogether.

One of the books I found useful was A Young Person's Guide to Music by Neil Ardley with Music by Poul Ruders. It has a CD to accompany the text.There are two sections: the first is about the different types of instruments; the second gives a brief history of the musical periods. There is also a "How to use this book" page. I liked being able to teach about a particular instrument, show the clear pictures, and then play the CD to hear what that instrument sounded like. This book has a wealth of information, including a reference section that has "A-Z of Composers", "Musical Forms", and a glossary of musical terms.

Instruments are intriguing to study, and this book is a sure way to understand them. The illustrations show how instruments work, as well as how they relate to one another. How many notes can a woodwind player produce? 10? 20? 40? Would you believe it is 40?! On page 32 you can find out how. And what about brass instruments? How does tightening the lips affect the notes played? You will have to read the section about brass instruments to find out.

So no matter what stage of life you are in, this book makes fascinating reading if you have any interest at all in music. We are never too old to learn. That is one of the advantages of teaching my children; I learned right along with them. So pick up this book at your local bookstore and enjoy reading about and listening to music

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Laydown Lowdown

I just got back from the movies and my face is still hurting from laughing so hard during "American Reunion."  If you loved the first three, don't miss this one ! But enough with the movie review, let's check out this weeks latest releases.

My reading tastes haven't really left high school which is why I love YA so much.  New in the genre today is "Pretty Amy," by Lisa Burstein, "Kill Me Softly," by Sarah Cross.  "Kill Me Softly," makes me think of that hilarious scene in "About a Boy," where Hugh Grant sings Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly."  I'm getting another smile cramp now.  Alright back to new YA releases.  Someone better warn Stacey Keibler that "Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom," by Susin Nielsen is also available today along with "Book of Blood and Shadow," by Robin Wasserman.

Over in Romance, you'll find "Deadline," the latest by best-selling author Fern Michaels and the fourth entry in her "Godmothers" series.  "A Wish and a Prayer" by Beverly Jenkins is available as well as "Dark Shadows: Angelique's Descent" by Lara Parker.  Parker played Angelique of the 70's soap "Dark Shadows," which is the basis for the upcoming Johnny Depp-Tim Burton spectacle of the same name.  This novel will explore the love hate relationship between Angelique and Barnabas Collins.  I must admit this book sound way better than that mess of a trailer I've seen for the film.

Meanwhile, over in Mystery, you'll discover "A Killing Winter," by Wayne Arthurson," "A Teeny Bit of Trouble," by Michael Lee West, "The Inquisitor," by Mark Allen Smith, and "A Bad Day for Scandal," by Sophie Littlefield.

If you check out General Fiction, you'll see "Come Home," the newest novel by one of my favorite author's Lisa Scottoline.  Also available today is "Glamour in Glass," by Mary Robinette Kowal, "Cloudland," by Joseph Olshan, and "Kings of Midnight," by Wallace Stroby.

And that's the Laydown Lowdown for the 2nd week of April 2012 !  Happy Reading and remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible.  Just because our blog is online, it doesn't mean your shopping has to be. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter !

Happy Easter !

Also, if you're in the NYC area, you may enjoy checking out the "Spring Into the Future" author signing that some of us from the blog will be attending next Sunday, April 15.  This event features:  

Shatter Me
Under The Never Sky

Click here for more details.  If you can't make it, don't worry, we'll share the photos with you when we get back and maybe we'll have a little giveaway? :D

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Comfort Books

Everyone has a comfort food, something that makes them feel better after a bad day like mac n' cheese or warm brownies.  But what about comfort books?  Avid readers like us bloggers have books we read time and time again.  We're sharing ours with you and would love you to share yours with us.

Alan loves to turn to his favorite authors Edgar Rice Burroughs,Tom Clancy, J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, Louis L'Amour, and Mark Twain.

Jen C. likes to curl up with "Slave to Sensation" by Nalini Singh. She says the author builds an exciting and rich world around her characters, and gives her characters flaws that we can all relate to. 

Jess B. enjoys "The Catcher in the Rye," by J.D. Salinger.  No matter how many times she has read it, it changes her.   

Jess P. loves to get lost in the world of Harry Potter and enjoys re-reading J.K. Rowling's novels again and again.

Mallory likes to return to a simpler time by re-reading "Little House in the Big Woods," or any of Laura Ingalls Wilder's novels of growing up on the prairie.  

Melanie, can't get enough of "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky.  She responds to the poetic language the author uses.

Rachel, the biggest Harry Potter fan I know re-reads the series every year.  She also reads what she calls "the ultimate comfort book," "Anne of Green Gables," by L.M. Montgomery.  

Rebecca is also a devoted L.M. Montgomery fan.  She continues to re-read "Jane of Lantern Hill"l by  and the authors "Emily" trilogy. Her descriptions are so rich and her characters feel like my best friends.

As for me, I love returning to Stoneybrook, CT and my forever friends in Anne M. Martin's "The Baby-Sitters Club" series.  After a really tough day, nothing beats escaping reality with my fictional friends. 

I have the first lines of this book memorized !
 So, what are your comfort reads?  Let us know !  We love hearing from our readers.  Also, please follow us on twitter, @borderlessbooks !

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

We Have a Surprise Guest Blogger

A friend and fellow of blogger of mine, Marlena of Mohegan, recently posted a blog about books, reading, bookstores, and of course, Burgess Meredith.  I asked her this morning if I could repost her blog on our site, and she graciously consented.  So here it is...

The Joy of Reading

There is an old Twilight Zone episode featuring Burgess Meredith as a hen-pecked, overworked bank teller who never has enough time to read.  One day he is hiding in the vault reading at his bank when nuclear annihilation strikes. He emerges from the vault unharmed to find all the other people reduced to dust but buildings and books intact.  He is overcome with joy at the possibility of unlimited time to read when the unthinkable happens.  Myopic to the extreme, he drops his eyeglasses and they shatter.  The camera fades as he laments aloud that he has the books and the time but now he cannot see to read them.

This program was filmed in the early 1960's and has a few plot points that wouldn't hold up today.
First, eyeglasses are no longer made of glass. (Besides he might have happened on an abandoned pair somewhere or maybe a magnifying glass.)  Second,  in a nuclear holocaust the earth would probably just be totally blown away.  Third, electronic books need power.  The poor guy would not be able to recharge his Kindle if there was no source of electricity.  His unlimited book orgy wouldn't last very long.

The classic Ray Bradbury Fahrenheit 451 also suffers a world of diminishing value to books in print. Their society does not only want to eliminate the books but also the information they hold. (Sort of "Big Brother"only wants you to know what the government wants you to know) The story starts with firefighters going from house to house burning books.  All the buildings in this future time are fireproof so the fire department had to find something else to keep them busy.  There is a secret society of book people who are dedicated to saving books for posterity.  Instead of hiding the actual books each person takes it upon himself to memorize an entire book.  They are known to each other not by their names but by the title of the books they hold in their heads.  The title of the book is the temperature at which paper burns.  If that story were written today what would it be called?  At what temperatures do plastic, glass and silicon melt?

I have always been a reader.  I'd read with my flashlight under my blankets so my parents wouldn't know I wasn't asleep.  I read in the bathroom.  If I go to someones house that has no reading material in the bathroom I might just check out their medicine cabinet for something to read just to help me relax and get the job done.  (I'm not being nosy I just need a few lines of a cough medicine label or something)  I read the backs of cereal boxes.  I like to have two or three books going at the same time because I hate that empty feeling of finishing a book and not knowing what to read next.

Electronic books take all the randomness out of reading.  At work many of us bring our old books to share.  We just place them on a table in the locker room and browse.   I've found a lot of good ones that way.  For free yet!  You can't get rid of your e-books at a tag sale or donate them to a hospital or library.

My daughter complained today that her school wasted a lot of her time forcing her to learn the Dewey Decimal System which she feels will be abandoned soon.  We no longer have those old card catalogs at the public library.  Will the books be trashed as well?

I got on this subject from reading a blog of my good friend BASSO FOR HIRE. He participates with another blog called BOOKSELLERS WITHOUT BORDERS who all seem as rabid about reading as I am, maybe more so.  I started thinking about just how much I enjoy about reading.  Not just the print but actually turning the pages, the heft of the volume in my hand, and seeing at a glance how much I have left to read.  Many of my books are cherished friends whom I'd never consider letting go.  I'd really rather not live in a world without real, paper, pulp, hardcover, paperback, leather bound, cloth bound, brand new or careworn books.

Love to all,
Marlena of Mohegan


Here's the link to her blog...Marlena of Mohegan

Marlena also very kindly referenced our lovely little domain here, as well as my personal blogsite,

So, in the interest of cross pollenation, I encourage you to visit her online, where you will find her stories of "Bariatric Renewal," opera, grandchildren, big coats, dogs and all kinds of clever and endearing observations on life, the universe, and everything.

Keep on reading!  It's good for you.