Posted in Books News

2018 Man Booker Long List

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I don’t go out of my way to read books that are nominated for or win prizes. In fact, I’m usually tickled when I actually do read a book that’s on any prize list because it happens so infrequently. I don’t go out of my way to avoid them, they just don’t usually cross paths with my TBR. Even so, I almost always pay attention to those various lists when they’re published every year. One such list that catches my eye and attention more often than not is The Man Booker International Prize longlist. Reading books in translation adds spice and interest to my reading list. I wish I read books by non-English writers more often. Probably, the Man Booker International Prize list is a good place to start. 😉

Here’s this year’s long list from the website:

Author (nationality), Translator, Title (imprint)
• Laurent Binet (France), Sam Taylor, The 7th Function of Language (Harvill Secker)
• Javier Cercas (Spain), Frank Wynne, The Impostor (MacLehose Press)
• Virginie Despentes (France), Frank Wynne, Vernon Subutex 1 (MacLehose Press)
• Jenny Erpenbeck (Germany), Susan Bernofsky, Go, Went, Gone (Portobello Books)
• Han Kang (South Korea), Deborah Smith, The White Book (Portobello Books)
• Ariana Harwicz (Argentina), Sarah Moses & Carolina Orloff, Die, My Love (Charco Press)
• László Krasznahorkai (Hungary), John Batki, Ottilie Mulzet & George Szirtes, The World Goes On (Tuskar Rock Press)
• Antonio Muñoz Molina (Spain), Camilo A. Ramirez, Like a Fading Shadow (Tuskar Rock Press)
• Christoph Ransmayr (Austria), Simon Pare, The Flying Mountain (Seagull Books)
• Ahmed Saadawi (Iraq), Jonathan Wright, Frankenstein in Baghdad (Oneworld)
• Olga Tokarczuk (Poland), Jennifer Croft, Flights (Fitzcarraldo Editions)
• Wu Ming-Yi (Taiwan), Darryl Sterk, The Stolen Bicycle (Text Publishing)
• Gabriela Ybarra (Spain), Natasha Wimmer, The Dinner Guest (Harvill Secker)

If I could only pick one book off of this list to read, it’d be Frankenstein in BaghdadBut it’s mean to make someone pick only one book. I also like the sound of The White Book and The Dinner Guest.

Which novels would you choose from this list? Do you pay attention to book prize lists at all?

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Posted in Books News

Goodreads 2015 Choice Awards

Book awards of any kind frustrate me. My choices differ with the nominees and/or winners more often than not. Why is that? Is my taste so terrible? I find that I often disagree with the popular opinion on a lot of different subjects. I guess my inner rebellious teenager will never be put to rest. I’d like to discuss some of the winners.

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  • Fiction:  Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. My opinion:  What a predictable pick. I judge this pick. Can’t people be a little more creative with their choices?? I haven’t read this book so I have no actual opinion of the book, but I still say it was predictable. BEYOND predictable. This book won and it didn’t even have to get out of bed to do so.
  • Mystery Thriller:  The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. My opinion:  I couldn’t stand this book. It was about pathetic women. Awful. The plot twists weren’t creative or original. Ugh. It won by a landslide too. How? This was such a bad book.
  • Fantasy:  Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman. My opinion:  Okay. So this is another predictable pick. HOWEVER, I love Gaiman and he is a phenomenal writer. I have this book and while I haven’t read all of the stories in it, I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far.
  • Horror:  Saint Odd by Dean Koontz. My opinion:  I’m a huge fan of the Odd Thomas series. I haven’t read this book yet, but I’m happy to see that it won for this category. Way to go Odd!!
  • History and Biography:  Dead Wake by Erik Larson. My opinion:  Larson is another fantastic writer. I have absolutely loved all of his books that I’ve read. I haven’t read this one yet, but I’m not surprised it won in this category.
  • Graphic Novels & Comics:  Saga, Vol. 4 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples. My opinion:  Of the nominees, I thought this was a clear winner. Again, I haven’t read this yet, but I have read volumes one and two. Saga is worthy of the win.
  • Best Debut Goodreads Author:  The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. My opinion:  This book was good. However, my opinion is that its win equals winning a popularity contest versus winning on merit. Looking at the other nominees, did The Red Queen deserve the win based on the story and the writing? I don’t think so. All the popular kids read and liked it…
  • Young Adult Fantasy:  Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas. My opinion:  Are you freaking kidding me? I haven’t read this because I can’t stand Maas’ writing. Maybe she’s improved since Throne of Glass but holy wow! That was such an awful book I can’t stand the thought of torturing myself with more of her writing. Here, I have a very unpopular opinion but I stand by it. Makes me wonder at other people’s taste. 😉 I think Illuminae should have won here.

So, there you go. My opinion of other people’s opinions. When I disagreed, I strongly disagreed. What am I missing? I’m confounded.

Posted in Books News

Mind Boggled: Harper Lee

People who profess to be fans of Harper Lee and her novel To Kill a Mockingbird should be familiar with her life, or as familiar as the reclusive author would allow one to be. From this pseudo-familiarity, one should be able to figure out that Harper Lee had little, if anything, to do with the publishing of Go Set a Watchman. Lee has said in the past that she didn’t want to compete with herself, hence, why she never published another book after TKAM. Why are “fans” so excited over the release of this new book? It’s like watching carrion birds circle over dying beasts below; this feeling that people are reading this book so that they can pick it over and criticize it, taking it completely out of context and not remembering the time in which Lee actually wrote the manuscript. It’s disturbing.

As you may have guessed, I have chosen not to read GSAW at this time. Taking into consideration everything I’ve ever read about Harper Lee and her current health and circumstances, I honestly believe she would never have approved the publishing of this novel. My husband brought up an interesting point when we were discussing this last night:  Lee’s estate would have published the manuscript the second after Lee’s passing anyway. It’s publishing was an inevitability. I believe this to be true also. The lengths and depths of people’s greed as well as the narcissistic behavior of the average human is endless.

Harper Lee is an elderly lady, in an assisted living facility, nearly deaf and blind. We should be taking care of her not taking advantage of her infirmities.

Posted in Books News

Literary Lockers in Biloxi

Biloxi Literary Lockers
photo credit to WLOX

I saw this article today and was so thrilled by the photos and video. If my school had painted our lockers to resemble books, I would have been late to all of my classes! Biloxi Teachers Transform Old Lockers into Literary Works of Art

Biloxi Literary Lockers
photo credit to WLOX

I love to see literacy promoted in our schools. It seems that with the stress placed on following curriculum guidelines for standardized testing, extracurriculars in schools take a back seat and this includes the arts such as reading, painting, and choir. Knowing that there are still some schools out there that encourage students to read is hopeful.

Posted in Books News

YA – Anticipating 2015

As if my TBR needed more residents added to it, I ran across an article at Epic Reads this morning. They highlighted some of the YA novels coming out summer 2015 that recently released their covers for our drooling pleasure. I used to be one of those, never judge a book by its cover kinda gals but you know what, what I think about a cover almost always coincides with what I end up thinking about a book. Am I alone here???

Anyway, I’m not going to repost the entire article here because, well, that’s stealing, I just want to share what I added to my TBR list in hopes that I won’t be the only crazy out there building a list for next year.

Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

First up, and in alphabetical order by author’s last name is Illusionarium by Heather Dixon. Is this not a most gorgeous cover? With the misty fog in the background and the cogs edging the cover, I have high hopes for this book. From Goodreads:

From the author of Entwined, a brilliantly conceived adventure through an alternate London. This sweeping, cinematic tale of an apprentice scientist desperate to save his family—and his world—is The Night Circus meets Pixar.

Through richly developed parallel worlds, vivid action, a healthy dose of humor, and gorgeous writing, Heather Dixon spins a story that is breathtaking and wholly original.

This sounds fab, right? The cover may have caught my eye, but the synopsis is why I added it. On sale May 19, 2015.

Next we have Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley. This is another beautiful cover. I love the transformation of the feather to doves Magoniaand while mysterious, it also makes you think hopeful. The endorsement by Neil Gaiman certainly didn’t hurt when it came to my decision to add this one to my TBR. It’s on sale on April 28, 2015. From Goodreads:

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia. Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was.

In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

The Improbable Theory of Ana and ZakNow we have The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher. The cover is really the only reason why I gave this book a second look. I confess, I tend to pass over YA books with couple names in the title. This is totally judge-y, but it makes me think trite. I decided to give this one a second chance and pay attention to synopsis because of the cover. The characters remind me of 1980s/1990s video games. Amiright? On sale May 19, 2015. From Goodreads:

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak is Stonewall Book Award-winning author Brian Katcher’s hilarious he said/she said romance about two teens recovering from heartbreak and discovering themselves on an out-of-this-world accidental first date.

It all begins when Ana Watson’s little brother, Clayton, secretly ditches the quiz bowl semifinals to go to the Washingcon sci-fi convention on what should have been a normal, résumé-building school trip.

If slacker Zak Duquette hadn’t talked up the geek fan fest so much, maybe Clayton wouldn’t have broken nearly every school rule or jeopardized Ana’s last shot at freedom from her uptight parents.

Now, teaming up with Duquette is the only way for Ana to chase down Clayton in the sea of orcs, zombies, bikini-clad princesses, Trekkies, and Smurfs. After all, one does not simply walk into Washingcon.

But in spite of Zak’s devil-may-care attitude, he has his own reasons for being as lost as Ana-and Ana may have more in common with him than she thinks. Ana and Zak certainly don’t expect the long crazy night, which begins as a nerdfighter manhunt, to transform into so much more…

Next to last is The Cost of All things by Maggie Lehrman. While the cover is attractive enough, it’s not really all that unique. What The Cost of All Thingscaught my eye on this one was the first line of the synopsis which earned it a place on my TBR. From Goodreads:

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets We Were Liars in this thought-provoking, brilliantly written, and totally original realistic contemporary debut about three teens who must deal with the consequences of spells cast on them in the wake of their classmate’s sudden death.

“The most creepily awesome cautionary tale ever. Magic—or hekame—does exist, and wishes can be granted…but always at a cost. Brilliant, provocative, and absolutely spellbinding.”
 — Lauren Myracle, New York Times bestselling author of The Infinite Moment of Us



“Maggie Lehrman nimbly reveals secrets wrapped around our most basic need. The Cost of All Things is a walk of the soul.”
 — Rita Williams-Garcia, Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner

I loved Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind and I found We Were Liars to be a good book. Calling this book a mashup of the two definitely piques my interest. On sale May 12, 2015.

Between the NotesLast but not least is Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat. I absolutely, positively LOVE this cover. Just look at it! This would be great if the cover was textured in some way too. While the cover surely caught my interest, the synopsis held it. From Goodreads:

When Ivy Emerson’s family loses their house—complete with her beloved piano—the fear of what’s to come seizes her like a bad case of stage fright. Only this isn’t one of her single, terrifying performances. It’s her life.

And it isn’t pretty.

Ivy is forced to move with her family out of their affluent neighborhood to Lakeside, also known as “the wrong side of the tracks.” Hiding the truth from her friends—and the cute new guy in school, who may have secrets of his own—seems like a good idea at first. But when a bad boy next door threatens to ruin everything, Ivy’s carefully crafted lies begin to unravel . . . and there is no way to stop them.

As things get to the breaking point, Ivy turns to her music, some unlikely new friends, and the trusting heart of her disabled little brother. She may be surprised that not everyone is who she thought they were . . . including herself.

I can’t wait to get my hot little hand on this one. On sale June 16, 2015.

There you have it. Do you plan on adding any of these to your TBR? Were there any from the Epic Reads article that I didn’t add that you think I should? Leave me a comment.