Thursday, November 21, 2013

Author Spotlight: Jerry Pinkney

I received an email that Jerry Pinkney is going to have a book signing at The High Museum in Atlanta.

Let me say that I love that an author is having this event at a museum. Two of my favorite things: books and art. Together. Lovely.

Book SigningPinkney is from Philadelphia, my old stomping ground, so I feel connected to him on yet another level.

You can see from this photo that he is active in his presentations to children; he looks exactly what you want a children's book author to look like.

He is extremely esteemed, as shown by the extensive list of awards and honors:
  • He won the 2010 Caldecott Medal for U.S. picture book illustration, recognizing The Lion & the Mouse, a version of Aesop's fable that he also wrote.
  • He also has five Caldecott Honors.
  • He has five Coretta Scott King Awards, four New York Times Best Illustrated Awards (most recently in 2006 for Little Red Hen), four Gold and four Silver medals from the Society of Illustrators, and the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award (John Henry, 1994).
  • In 2000 he was given the Virginia Hamilton Literary award from Kent State University and in 2004 the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion for outstanding contributions in the field of children’s literature.
  • For his contribution as a children's illustrator, Pinkney was U.S. nominee in 1998 for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international recognition for creators of children's books.

I am going to suggest that my husband and I plan a trip to Atlanta on December 14th!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Flannery O'Connor's Prayer Journal

“Dear God, I cannot love Thee the way I want to. You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and my self is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon . . .

“I do not know you God because I am in the way. Please help me to push myself aside . . .

“I do not mean to deny the traditional prayers I have said all my life; but I have been saying them and not feeling them. My attention is always very fugitive. This way I have it every instant. I can feel a warmth of love heating me when I think & write this to You.”
from A Prayer Journal

In 1946-47, Georgia author Flannery O'Connor kept a prayer journal that has been hidden until now. Discovered by Georgia State University emeritus professor William Sessions, it has been published and offers a most intimate glimpse of this beloved voice of the south.

Oddly enough, Jack and Chase were talking about a short story they read in their AP English class. The story was about a family who had been killed by a serial killer while they were on a road trip. It was vaguely familiar to me, so I asked the name of it. "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by O'Connor. I had read this collection of short stories several months ago, and didn't enjoy it. However, new insight into this author, who died so young at the age of 39 from lupus, has reignited my desire to give it another chance.

I love this summary of herself: “Today I have proved myself a glutton—for Scotch oatmeal cookies and erotic thought,” she writes. “There is nothing left to say of me.”

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl
'What are you thinking, Amy? The question I've asked most often during our marriage, if not out loud, if not to the person who could answer. I suppose these questions storm cloud over every marriage: What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do?' Just how well can you ever know the person you love?

This is the question that Nick Dunne must ask himself on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police immediately suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they aren't his. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what did really did happen to Nick's beautiful wife? And what was left in that half-wrapped box left so casually on their marital bed? In this novel, marriage truly is the art of war...

My take: 3 looks
Actually, I may have to increase that rating to 4 looks eventually, because I keep thinking about this book. With that said, ***SPOILER ALERT*** on the entire review.

Amy is gone. Just disappeared, and Nick doesn't seem to mind. Truth is, Amy was a little hard to live with. I totally understand this, especially when Amy gives her definition of "The Cool Girl".

Side note: the description of "The Cool Girl" alone is worth reading this book. It's brilliant. It's true. And did I mention that it's freaking brilliant?

Every woman enters a relationship as "the cool girl", only to tire of the role and resume her normal self, persona and personality eventually. That's when the husband doesn't understand what happened to his wife. Sadly, the "uncool girl" was always his wife, just pretending.

What is what happens here. There is a lot of back story on Amy, her parents and a series of books they wrote. There is a little back story on Nick, but much of his story revolves around a weird relationship with his twin sister.

The format of the book is very interesting. Told by both Nick and Amy, alternately, and in various points of time surrounding Amy's disappearance, it is not until toward the end of the book that you get a full picture of what is happening.

The end is a good one, but at the same time leaves you a little, "what just happened?" I really enjoyed it, and recommend it.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cold Fire by Dean Koontz

File:Cold Fire.jpgSummary:
The classic story of reporter Holly Thorne, who is intrigued by the strange, quiet Jim Ironheart. Jim has saved 12 lives in three months, and now Holly's falling in love with him. But what power compels an ordinary man to be a hero?

My take: 3 looks
My only book by Dean Koontz, apart from the "Odd Thomas" series. This one is an older book, and immediately drew me in. I was looking for more of a conspiracy, and read with a very suspicious mind. However, it was more cut-and-dry than that, and would have been easy to figure out if I had not been looking over my shoulder at possibilities that never materialized.

With that said, this was an enjoyable book, and a very fast one to read. Recommended

Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin

A young couple who move into a Manhattan apartment are approached by their elderly neighbors, who want to be their friends.

My take: 4 looks
Can you believe the short summary of this ground-breaking novel? Perhaps the editors feel that it's so iconic that no summary is needed. Perhaps that is the case.

This book was published in 1967 and open the floodgates to authors writing about the occult and demons. Until then, the supernatural in most mainstream books were monsters. It had not yet reached the bestseller list when the movie was released one year later, in 1968.

Directed by Roman Polanski, the movie is very true to the book. As a matter of fact, Polanski had Levin write the screenplay. In one scene, where the male lead is looking at a New Yorker magazine, Polanski had trouble finding the exact magazine, and dialed Levin for help.

The book is fast-paced and entertaining. It is well written and drew me in immediately. This is a scary book at its best: full of rich characters, flawed heroines, and evil grandmas, and a bit of a twist ending.

Highly recommended.

J. A. Konrath Book Festival

My take: 3 looks

I have read the first six of J. A. Konrath's Jack Daniels series. That is unprecedented for me. The only other series I have read like this is Koontz's Odd Thomas series.

This is a no-nonsense murder mystery series. The bad guys are very, very bad and the good guys are flawed, persistent and extremely likable. I have read a few reviews that the series is too violent, but it is a murder mystery series, so I disagree completely with this. It is not a cozy series, and reminds me very much of the CSI and Rizzoli and Isles typical story lines.

All three of these were good. There was an arc storyline through these with one arch nemesis which wove a thread through these three, and I must admit that I was glad when the "Alex" storyline was over.

It was very satisfying in its ending and resolution, and I look forward to reading number seven to find out where Detective Jack Daniels is headed.


Lot of Reviews to Write!

So much going on this it's firmly fall-moving-into-winter and I need to get back on track with my book reviews! I am sure the TWO people who read my blog are breathing a huge sigh of relief. :)

I have been reading, reading, and reading. I went through a bit of a slump. Well, I think it was actually television that got me off the reading track. Football season started and the fall season of my three must-see shows started.

I am back on, though ... racing toward my reading goal for the year.

Standby for take off!!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Wordplay: Bailiwick

This word is generally used in a metaphorical sense, to indicate a sphere of authority, experience, activity, study or interest. A bailiwick (German: “Ballei”) was also the territorial division of the Teutonic Order. Here, various “Komtur(en)” formed a Ballei province.

The term survives in administrative usage in the British Crown dependencies of the Channel Islands, which for administrative purposes are grouped into the two bailiwicks of Jersey (comprising the island of Jersey and uninhabited islets such as the Minquiers and Écréhous) and Guernsey (comprising the islands of Guernsey, Sark, Alderney, Brecqhou, Herm, Jethou and Lihou). Each Channel Island bailiwick is headed by a Bailiff.


At Bicester in Oxfordshire, the lord of the manor of Market End was the Earl of Derby who, in 1597, sold a 9,999 year lease to 31 principal tenants. This in effect gave the manorial rights to the leaseholders, ‘purchased for the benefit of those inhabitants or others who might hereafter obtain parts of the demesne’. The leaseholders elected a bailiff to receive the profits from the bailiwick, mainly from the administration of the market and distribute them to the shareholders. From the bailiff’s title, the arrangement became known as the Bailiwick of Bicester Market End. By 1752 all of the original leases were in the hands of ten men, who leased the bailiwick control of the market to two local tradesmen.

The term originated in France (bailie being the Old French term for a bailiff). Under the ancien régime in France, the bailli was the king's representative in a bailliage, charged with the application of justice and control of the administration. In southern France, the term generally used was sénéchal who held office in the sénéchaussée. The administrative network of baillages was established in the 13th century, based on the earlier medieval fiscal and tax divisions (the 'baillie') which had been used by earlier sovereign princes.

In English, the original French bailie was combined with '-wic', the Anglo-Saxon suffix meaning a village, to produce a term meaning literally 'bailiff's village' – the original geographic scope of a bailiwick. In the 19th century, it was absorbed into American English as a metaphor for one's sphere of knowledge or activity.