Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Question of the Week: What types of humor books do you like to read?

 In your opinion, what makes a book really funny? Do you read humorous fiction? Books by comedians? Funny essays? As part of a training session I'm working on, I've been looking at all the different categories of humor. There are way more than I had realized! I typically read humorous biographies and memoirs, but I'm currently trying some essays. What types of humor books do you like to read?









Friday, July 25, 2014

Do you like to watch movies or tv series that are based on books?

Absolutely! Sometimes I've read the book and would like to see how well they capture it on film. Other times, I'll decide that I simply must read the books after watching the movie or show. Here are a few of the many that exist:


Under the Dome - Stephen King
The small town of Chester's Mill, Maine, is faced with a big dilemma when it is mysteriously sealed off by an invisible and completely impenetrable force field. With cars and airplanes exploding on contact, the force field has completely isolated the townspeople from the outside world. Now, Iraq war vet Dale Barbara and a group of the town's more sensible citizens must overcome the tyrannical rule of Big Jim Rennie, a politician bent on controlling everything within the Dome.



 


Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeffry Lindsay
Hiding a secret life as an assassin while working as a murder analyst for the Miami police, Dexter Morgan is intrigued by the work of a new serial killer whose style mimics his own.  (Dexter series)




 


Deja Dead - Kathy Reichs
A killer in Montreal is murdering and dismembering women, and police are getting nowhere. Forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, a middle-aged lady from North Carolina, goes after him herself. (Bones series)









Congo - Michael Crichton
Armed with the latest gifts of advanced technology, a California scientist, a ruthless corporation agent, and a mercenary hunter face the dangers of the Congo jungle in search of the diamonds of the lost city of Zinj.





 

Shrek! - William Steig
Shrek, a horrid little ogre, goes out into the world to find adventure and along the way encounters a witch, a knight in armor, a dragon, and, finally, a hideous princess, who's even uglier than he is!






 
True Grit - Charles Portis
Mattie Ross is just fourteen years of age when a coward going by the name of Tom Chaney shoots her father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robs him of his life, his horse, and $150 in cash money. Mattie leaves home to avenge her father's blood. With the one-eyed Rooster Cogburn, the meanest available U.S. Marshal, by her side, Mattie pursues the homicide into Indian Territory. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Books Gone Viral

The plague. Just hearing this word chills me to the bone (and the thought of being in the midst of one terrifies me). And yet, ever since I first learned about the bubonic plague in middle school, I have been fascinated by plagues as well - both how the diseases work and how humanity has coped. So it should come as no surprise that I often read both real and fictional accounts of plague events...


Ghost Map - Steven Johnson
1854: A devastating cholera outbreak seizes London just as it is emerging as a modern city: teeming with more than 2 million people from all over the world, it continually pushes the limits of infrastructure that's outdated as soon as it's updated. Dr. John Snow--whose ideas about contagion had been dismissed by the scientific community--is spurred to intense action when the people in his neighborhood begin dying. As he risks his own life to prove how the epidemic is being spread, Dr. Snow creates the map that traces the pattern of outbreak back to its source. And, in doing so, established a precedent for the way modern city-dwellers, city planners, physicians, and public officials think about the spread of disease and the development of the modern urban environment.

Demon in the Freezer - Richard Preston
Chronicles the reaction of the U S Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) to the September 11 attacks and the October 2001 anthrax attacks, focusing on USAMRIID's top virologist, Peter Jahrling, and his work to combat the possible development of a superpox virus by terrorists worldwide.






The White Plague - Frank Herbert
It begins in Ireland but soon spreads throughout the world: a virulent new disease expressly designed to target only women. As fully half the population dies, life on earth faces extinction. Anarchy and violence consume the planet, while frantic doctors and scientists race to find a cure.







The Cobra Event - Richard Preston
Dr. Alice Austen, an officer with the Epidemic Intelligence Service branch of the Centers for Disease Control, goes to New York to investigate the hideous and mysterious death of a seventeen-year-old girl, and uncovers a terrorist plot involving the use of biological weapons.








Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What is your favorite urban fantasy?

I was reading urban fantasy long  before the paranormal romance craze hit.  I still like my urban fantasy more on the fantasy side, less on the romance side. Here are a few of my favorites:




Mercy Thompson is a were coyote who also fixes VWs.   She has to watch her step as she is surrounded by very sexy werewolves, witches, vampires and other paranormal creatures.  Frost burned is a recent volume in this long standing series which is set out the Tri-Cities of Washington.
 

Vicki Nelson can no longer be a police officer since she is losing her eyesight.
She can still fight evil when she joins forces with vampire Henry Fitzroy, illegitimate son of Henry the Eight.  This series was original written in the 1990s but it still is one of the best. (I liked the original covers much better).








 
 
Harry Dresden is a professional wizard in Chicago.  His work is made more  difficult by the White Council of Wizards.  Again, there are many volumes in the series
 

                                

                                     

Monday, July 7, 2014

Ever had a book hangover?

The other week I had the worst book hangover. I’d just finished J. K. Rowling’s Casual Vacancy

and when I was done, I couldn’t just pick up the next book in my stack. I spent a couple of days walking around in a daze while the characters kept talking in my head, scenes kept replaying, and I kept wondering “what was going to happen to the characters after the end of the book” (a notion that drives my husband nuts).

The urban dictionary defines a book hangover as:

“When you've finished a book and you suddenly return to the real world, but the real world feels incomplete or surreal because you're still living in the world of the book.”

Example: "I have a really bad book hangover today, I could hardly concentrate at work."

Here are a few other books that gave me a hangover over the past year:

The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer I grew up reading about those overachieving east coast types in books by E. L. Konigsberg and Madeleine L’Engle: Imagine being accepted into their rarified circle and staying beside them through adolescence through middle age. In the summer of 1974, ordinary, suburbanite Julie Jacobson (“an outsider and possibly even a freak”), has a full ride to a summer camp for artistically gifted teens and, once there, is drawn into a mesmerizing circle of sophisticated New York City teens, who become bonded for life. The group’s dynamics play out over the years as some succeed in the arts, others give up on their dreams, long-held secrets are revealed and characters face their demons. This would make a great discussion book!

The Long Song, by Andrea Levy The dialogue in this book hooks the reader right from the first page. The voices are so real that you feel that you know the characters. July, the child of a field slave on the Amity sugar plantation in Jamaica, is separated from her mother at a young age and moved into the great house as a sort of pet/servant to entertain a newly transplanted English widow, who renames her “Marguerite”. After the slaves are freed, July remains bound to the plantation despite her "freedom." Heartbreaking scenes are interspersed with hilarious, laugh-out-loud sections. I encourage fans of The Help to try this one.

Please Look After Mom, by Kyung Sook Shin This one is deceptive. The author seems to be emotionally detached as she tries to puzzle out what happened to her mother, who went missing on the subway one day. As more days pass and Mom fails to turn up, details about the narrator, her mother, and memories that float to the surface reveal more and more about what might have happened. If you’re like me, you’ll be blindsided by the emotional impact that comes at the end of the book. Have a box of Kleenex handy.

Tell me about YOUR book hangovers!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Coming Out Stories

The 2014 Seattle Pride Parade and Festival kicks off this weekend, celebrating it's 40th year. According to the Seattle Pride website, "2014 Pride aims to celebrate the history of the Northwest's LGBTQ rights movement and advance the ongoing progress the LGBTQ community has made since first
coming out in 1974, the year of the inaugural Seattle Pride festivities."

Throughout the years I've read a number of compelling memoirs and stories about the LGBTQ experience including Portia de Rossi's Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain and Jennifer Finney Boylan's She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders. In the spirit of the 2014 Seattle Pride weekend June 27th- June 29th, we've created a LGBTQ Stories booklist on the website. There are also a couple of great lists for teens as well!

Do you have a favorite LGBTQ memoir or story?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Question of the Week: What is your favorite memoir?

I read a lot of memoirs. In fact, four of the last ten books I read were memoirs. Most recently I devoured Delancy: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage by Molly Wizenberg, Grace After Midnightt by Felicia "Snoop" Pearson, and Sous Chef by Michael Gibney, three very different books. I enjoy getting lost in other people's stories and more often than not find true life even more fascinating than fiction.

What memoir or biography have you read recently that you enjoyed?