Archive for May, 2011

May 25th, 2011

Come Visit with Vy!

by Gwen

One of the coolest parts of Armchair BEA is the interviews. Both, last year and this year, I was paired up with bloggers that I had never come across before. This is my chance to share a rising star in the book blogging world.

Put your hands together for Vy (pronounced V) from Vy’s Blog. She is an 8th grader from Oregon and usually reads YA. When I first found out I was going to interview her, I must admit some trepidation. I mean, she is young enough to be my daughter, what should I ask her? Was asking her about school or where she lived going to be breaking the law or anything?

Anywho, I put on my big girl interviewing sweats and went for it. Here we go…

1.You live in one of the most beautiful states in the US if you ask me, what are your favorite things about Oregon?

One of my favorite things about Oregon is all the beautiful sceneries. I’m fortunate enough to live where I’m surrounded by views of trees and mountains. It is just gorgeous to wake up and see so many trees!

2.We have one book in common that we have both read and liked, Nightshade by Andrea Cremer. However, I never reviewed it here, can you tell us about it?

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer has to be one of my favorite YA books and It tells the story of a Calla, who isn’t like ordinary girls since she’s a werewolf. Not any old werewolf either, but an alpha. Calla is born into a life that is practically planned out for her and she’s just going along with the ride. Why wouldn’t she when her soon to be mate is another alpha, Ren Laroche who’s every girl’s dream mate. Her life is going perfectly, but when has anything every gone perfectly? Everything starts to change when Calla saves the life of Shay who’s just another human, but someone who helps Calla find the truth behind all of the lies she thinks she knows about her life.

3.What are your favorite things about book blogging? What are your least favorite?

My favorite things about book blogging is sharing how much I love a book with other people. Getting to know other bloggers is also one of my favorite things. I think my least favorite thing about blogging is that it takes more time than I thought. If only it were summer so I could have more time to blog, but I still love it.

4.Do your friends and family know that you blog about books? Mine just can’t wrap their head around how many of us there are out there and think that I’m crazy. Do yours?

A few of my friends know that I blog but that’s only counting like 5 people. And the some of them think it’s nuts that I’m doing it and how many other people are too. My family, besides my parents and brother, don’t know that I blog at all! I’m not sure when I’m going to share that since about a few months ago I couldn’t even pick up a book and read it for enjoyment. I’m still pretty knew to the incredible world of books.

5.You have mentioned that your librarians are amazing, what do they do to get such love from you?

My librarians are the reason I started to read, which then led to blogging. Before, I wouldn’t have even thought of going into a library to pick up a book. After attending one of their library orientations and listening to the way they describe books, I was hooked. I started with some small YA books but then found myself going to the library at least every other day. My school librarians are super awesome and get ARCs so I was always excited to find new arrivals. They are basically the cause for my book obsession.

6.What is your favorite subject in school?

That’s a tough one since I was fortunate enough to have really awesome classes. I guess my favorite core class is Humanities. My teacher is very emotionally attached to history so she makes everything sound interesting. My favorite elective class has to be choir. A period of just singing and sometimes dancing can always make the day better.

7.Your are going on a trip to a deserted island and can only bring three things, what are they?

-A water bottle so I could stay alive long enough to look for help.

-Probably bring a nook to kill some time.

-And a tent so I could escape the dreaded heat and other vicious animals.

There you have it and I don’t think that I broke any laws, Phew!

Remember to check out Vy’s Blog.

May 23rd, 2011

Welcome Armchair BEA Guests

by Gwen

My name is Gwen and I have been haunting the book blogging world for about three years now from the sunny Central Coast of California.

A majority of the books I review here are non-fiction, not only because I like them, but  I feel that they don’t get enough play in the real world or the blogging world. I also review books for a few print publications.

Going to BEA this year wasn’t really an option.  Since January  I have been undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer.  Between the costs of treatment, the people-have-cooties factor, and the basic fact that I feel like gum on the bottom of a shoe, I just couldn’t go.

If you have never tried non-fiction or been scared off by some that you have read, you might want to try any book by Erik Larson. He writes narrative non-fiction that will suck you as if you have never heard the story before and don’t know what happens in the end. He humanizes his subjects in a way I have never read another author do.

Can’t wait to visit with you all this week.

May 17th, 2011

A Conflict of Interest by Adam Mitzner

by Gwen

A Conflict of Interest

Have you ever been at a point in your life where everything is going right and then, like a light switch being flipped off, everything in your life falls apart?

Meet Alex Miller, 35 years old, partner in a top law firm in NYC, beautiful wife, gorgeous little daughter, and more. He is on top of the world until his father dies. At the funeral he meets an old friend of his parents who asks him to represent him in a brokerage scam trial. A year later, I bet he wishes that he had never said yes.

A Conflict of Interest is a legal thriller with heart and a great deal of psychology. Don’t laugh. Let me see if I can explain this correctly without any spoilers. There is a lot of seven-year-itch, some seeing your parents in a whole new (and not necessarily flattering) way, temptations, soul searching, and a fair amount of time spent wondering how in the heck did he let it get this bad. See? A sort of midlife crisis, nicely bookended by a thrilling legal battle.

Mitzner’s work is being compared to Scott Turow and I can see that. Like Turow, he realizes that no one is perfect and that people manifest and manage these flaws in different ways. You can’t predict how his characters will react to what comes their way and yet somehow, you feel like you know them.

Adam Mitzner has a few tricks up his sleeve and he only shows a one or two with this first book. Can’t wait for the next one.

A Conflict of Interest by Adam Mitzner

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery (May 17, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 1439157510
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439157510
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    May 10th, 2011

    Kafka Makes My Head Hurt, Even with Cuddly Kittens.

    by Gwen

    Franz Kafka (1883-1924) is lauded as the one of the best writers of the 20th century. Sadly, he only really finished one novella, The Metamorphosis, before his death. The rest of his work was published posthumously by his executor, Max Brod. He passed on from this mortal coil before knowing that he would become such a famous guy. Sucks.

    His work is considered existentialism, which is a neat way of saying that he focuses on the human condition. You know, the meaning of life, responsibilities, emotions, and all that rubbish that makes my head hurt when I start pondering it and has nothing to do with the rising gas prices.

    Now, here is where the kittens come in.

    Quirk Books has come out with a mashup of The Metamorphosis. You may have heard me mention mashups before, they take a classic book and throw a crazy wrench into it. The most famous is Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. (and it’s prequel & sequel) They also adapted Anna Karenina into Android Karenina.

    In the original, the main character, Gregor Samsa becomes a bug. In this gem, The Meowmorphosis,  he becomes a fluffy kitten.

    It is still full of existential twaddle, but now there are pretty kitties as opposed to some praying mantis thing. I don’t like cats. They make me sneeze, seem not to give a care whether I live or die and just don’t give the love that my Murphy Grace does.


    If you have never read Kafka, the cats do make it easier to digest, but this one just isn’t as much fun to read as the other mashups have been. The others made me want to read the original versions of Tolstoy and Austen, this one made me remember why I never really “got” Kafka and dislike navel gazing in general.

    However, the discussion questions in the back of the book were totally worth the price of admission. I seldom read them, but am so glad that I did. Made. Me. Laugh. So. Hard.

    3. Is your manager an ass?

    9. Franz Kafka had some issues, didn’t he?

    The Meowmorphosis by Franz Kafka and Coleridge Cook

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Quirk Books (May 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159474503X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594745034
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    May 4th, 2011

    Hotel Angeline: A Novel in 36 Voices

    by Gwen

    Hotel Angeline

    Take 36 of the best authors the Pacific Northwest has to offer, (A few of which are my favorites) assign them each a chapter, give them two hours to write that chapter and just to make it interesting, let’s do it live, in front of an audience.

    The Authors: Kathleen Alcalá, Matthew Amster-Burton, Kit Bakke, Erica Bauermeister, Sean Beaudoin, Dave Boling, Deb Caletti, Carol Cassella, Maria Dahvana Headly, William Dietrich, Robert Dugoni, Kevin Emerson, Karen Finneyfrock, Clyde W. Ford, Jamie Ford, Elizabeth George, Mary Guterson, Teri Hein, Stephanie Kallos, Erik Larson, Stacey Levine, Frances McCue, Jarret Middleton, Peter Mountford, Kevin O’Brien, Julia Quinn, Nancy Rawles, Suzanne Selfors, Jennie Shortridge, Ed Skoog, Garth Stein, Greg Stump and David Laskey, Indu Sundaresan, Craig Welch, Susan Wiggs.

    Even better? 50% of the proceeds from the book go into literacy and art programs.

    The best part? The book was good! All of that build up and the story behind the writing of the book had me a bit skeptical. I mean how could the product of so many voices, styles, genres, and backgrounds work? It could have been a colossal mess.The differences were subtle and knowing the story behind the book added a quality to it that is hard to put into words. I found myself torn between wanting to savor every word and hurrying to see how my favorite authors, one of the non-fiction variety, could mold their personal touch into the fictional story of a residence hotel and it’s teenage main character.

    Favorite authors + one story + strong theme/plot + wacky characters + proceeds go to charity =One fabulous book that makes you feel like you are doing good, just by reading it.

    I call that a Win/Win.

    For more on Hotel Angeline, including videos of some of the authors reactions, check out the very special site for Hotel Angeline.