Monday, October 31, 2011

Mailbox Monday: The I'm grateful it's not snowing here edition!

Major snowstorm in October--that is one of the signs of the apocalypse, right?  I'm sorry, New York!

So, the past week wasn't as productive as I might have hoped in a variety of ways.  The one thing I did accomplish was attending the Northern California Independent Booksellers' Association Trade Show over the weekend.  I've been attending NCIBA for about a dozen years now, so none of these trade shows are really that exciting at this point.  But it's still nice to see friends in the industry.  I especially enjoy chatting with the publisher's reps about what they're excited about.  Obviously, their job is to sell titles, but you can tell when there's a book they're genuinely excited about.  And as you get to know them, they'll give you the straight dope.  They're just great people to talk books with.  No one works in publishing for the money.  They do it for love.

Speaking of talking (and talking and talking) as the show was winding down Saturday afternoon, trade journalist Bridgette Kinsella wound up sitting down beside me, and the two of us got into the most epic conversation of all time.  What a delightful lady!  Seriously, the highlight of the show for me.  The other highlight was grabbing a galley of Lauren Groff's forthcoming sophomore novel, Arcadia.  It's the single book that I'm most excited about, but is only one of many, many galleys I grabbed.  I'll post a full accounting here once I have one.  Maybe next Monday?

I'm not sure how much literary stuff I have coming up this week.  The Bay Area Festival of Science is going on right now, so science may trump art this week.  One exception may be a midweek appearance by novelist Hillary Jordan.  Her new novel, When She Woke, a near-future dystopian take on The Scarlet Letter, scared the hell out of me.  In it, the US has basically become a fundamentalist Christian theocracy--literally my worst nightmare.  I may have to go hear her speak.

Oh, you'll notice below that I finished 1Q84--late last night as it happens.  Wow.  It's an amazing (and yes, weird) achievement for Murakami.  Nearly 1,000 pages of Murakami in the course of a week was a lot more challenging than 1,000 pages of Neal Stephenson over a long weekend.  By the end, I was taking mental breaks with a YA novel, which worked well for me.  Now I must make one of my friends who has lived in Japan read the novel so we can discuss.

And on that note, even without NCIBA, this was an awesome week for books!

Sacre Bleu
by Christopher Moore
Release date: April 3, 2011
Source: the author

I'm such a big fan of Chris's.  Even though I've already read an unbound galley, I just love having a bound galley of each novel in my collection.  Of course, I will purchase a first edition of the hardback as well.  The finished book will be especially exciting in this case.  I can't wait to see the color reproductions of all the artwork in this book!

The Mirage
by Matt Ruff
Release date: February 7, 2012
Source: Gift from Chris Moore

Chris and I have been discussing Matt Ruff's novels for years.  Chris thought that I would really enjoy this thought-provoking novel.  He warned me not to expect Ruff's typically comic tone.  I can't wait to read it!  Sewer, Gas, and Electric has been a favorite satire for years.

The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde
by Oscar Wilde
Release date: January 28, 1900
Source:  my book group

I forgot to include this lovely hardback edition on last week's list.  The book group that I run likes to bring books to give away and share with each other at every meeting.  The lovely Valentina brought this one, I think.  I've really been wanting to read The Portrait of Dorian Gray, so this is perfect!

Smut: Stories
by Alan Bennett
Release date: January 3, 2012
Source: Electronic galley from publisher

Alan Bennett is an awesome playwright, and I loved his novella "The Uncommon Reader."  This slim volume is made up of two novellas entitled, "The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson" and "The Shielding of Mrs. Forbes."  This is going to be a pleasure to read!

The Innocent
by Taylor Stevens
Release date: December 27, 2011
Source: Amazon Vine program

Ms. Stevens' debut was impressive, but I was left uncertain whether I liked her protagonist enough to want to read a continuing series.  This is the novel that's going to help me decide.  Based on her own childhood being raised in a nomadic cult, it should be fascinating regardless.

The Orphan Master's Son
by Adam Johnson
Release date: January 10, 2012
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Yes, a third copy of this galley that I still haven't read.  (I'll get to it before January!  I'm thinking over Thanksgiving.  It'll make me thankful for my life in this country.)  The good news is that I'll have a copy to give away here.  I have to tell you, I heard raves about this title from a bookseller over the weekend. 

In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination
by Margaret Atwood
Release date: October 11, 2011
Source:  Paper galley from publisher

I was so delighted to see this galley show up because the book hadn't really been on my radar yet.  It looks very interesting, but also kind of dense and intellectual.  I will probably read it one essay at a time between other books, but I'm really looking forward to it!  I love Margaret Atwood.

The Devil's Elixir
by Raymond Khoury
Release date: December 22, 2011
Source: Electronic galley from publisher

You know I love a good thriller and I've never read Khoury.  This could be a pleasant holiday diversion.

The New Republic
by Lionel Shriver
Release date: March 27, 2012
Source: Electronic galley from publisher

I was shocked to learn, over the weekend, that this is a satirical novel.  It's not what I would expect from the author of We Need to Talk About Kevin.  I think Shriver is awesome, and I look forward to seeing a different aspect of her writing.  I doubt I will wait til next year before reading this.

Books finished this week:

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (It was a marathon, not a sprint!)
Crossed by Allie Condie (I liked it a lot better than Matched, actually.)

Currently reading:

Why Read Moby Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick

So, what have you guys been reading?  What awesome books have you acquired over the past week?  Please let us know in the comments!


  1. I got in Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards and Imogen Robertson's Instruments of Darkness along with Kristen Painter's House of Comarre trilogy. Should be interesting. Also got Out of Oz, so I have to start that series very soon.

    I snagged that Matt Ruff title at Mountains and Plains. LOVE Lauren Groff. I've got Arcadia on my list to keep an eye on. I missed Delicate Edible Birds somehow, so that one is on my to buy list right now.

  2. Yeah, I'm expecting a copy of Out of Oz to show in the mailbox any day now. I've only read the first novel, which I liked but did not love. Can't I just skip ahead to this final volume of the series without reading any of the books in the middle? (Will someone wiser please set my lazy ass straight on this?)

    Have you read Matt Ruff before? He's an interesting writer. I thought Sewer, Gas, & Electric was brilliant social commentary, which makes me anxious to see what he does with this premise.

    As for Groff, I LOVED The Monsters of Templeton! It was one of those debuts that makes you fall in love with an author. I didn't miss Delicate Edible Birds so much as just skip it. I'm not big on story collections. I've been waiting for the novel. Sophomore novels can be so disappointing. I've got my fingers crossed for this one.

  3. I've come to enjoy story collections more throughout the years. Groff had a great dystopian short story in The Monsters Corner anthology, so I'm anxious to see what she has in Delicate Edible Birds.

    As for Ruff, I haven't actually read him yet. I got Bad Monkeys for my husband and he enjoyed it. Maybe I'll jump in with Mirage. Let me know what you think if you read it first.

  4. I finished The Waters Rising in my now-patented marathon session to finish it before its due date at the library and avoid a fine. I enjoyed it but found some of the recitation of historical background a bit tedious after a while. That sometimes happens with Tepper, but I still love her writing.

    I'm better than halfway through The Magicians, approaching the marathon mode but hoping to avoid it this time. I fear The Story of Beautiful Girl is destined to be a marathon read though.

    I can't wait to read Sacre Bleu. It appears that they chose the cover I liked best, but I can't really remember what they all were.

  5. Hola Susan, thanks for the warning on When She Awoke. I had it on top of my TBR bookcase by my bed. I now think I will read it when I get more sleep.

    I had a pleasant surprise today in my mailbox, a book!! YAY!! It was very unexpected because I did not recall ordering a book. I promised myself I would whittle away at my TBR stacks for the month of November and not purchase any books until the end of the year, then I would reward myself (Riiight! How many times have we said that?) . Well, I'm glad to report I did not break my promise to myself.

    Apparently, I entered a contest with Simon & Schuster early in October to win a book prior to its release on November 8th and I WON!!!!

    The book is 'The Time in Between' by Maria Duenas. I have read some of the editorial reviews and it sounds fascinating. Well, I'm off to begin to read my prize and will comment later when I finish.

  6. Hi Susan!

    I'm currently reading two books at a time - a very rare occasion for me. But I'm reading Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Actually very good book and along the vein of Chistopher Moor comical tone. It is quite a fat book (fat books are over 400 pages for me), but very enthalling.

    The other book I'm reading is Crush - 26 Real-life Tales of First Love, edited by Andrea N. Richesin. I saw this book being swaped at a BookSmith BookSwap, but didn't get it. But was compelled enough to take it out of the library and I'm reading two stories a day of wonderful memory lane of first crushes.

  7. BG,

    Congrats on The Time in Between. I'm reading it now. We'll compare notes next week. :-)


    I read Good Omens years ago. Loved it.

    BTW, did you see the video of Juliet Blackwell posted below?

  8. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the Philbrick book. I know that you like Moby Dick, and I love just about anything Philbrick writes.