Monday, January 28, 2013

It's Monday, what are you reading? (30)

Hosted by Book Journey
So I haven't done one of these since, uh, August. You can find it here. Wow I used to read a lot of books in one week. But I honestly haven't read too much since then either. Still, my book buddy Ambur posted one today so I thought I would give it a try!

Last week I finished reading:
The Wine of Solitude by Irene Nemirovsky
I'm not sure I want to know when I started this book.... okay I checked. August 6th, the day after my last Monday post. Interesting. Anyway I had an e-galley that expired so it took me awhile to pick it up again but I was so glad I did. It was just as beautiful as I remembered, and I am officially in love with Nemirovsky's writing. This is the second book I've read by her, and I was meaning to pick up her most famous novel, Suite Francaise, last year but didn't. I own a copy and this year I have no excuses.

Bruised by Sarah Skilton
A 2013 YA debut I was really looking forward to, so when Skilton posted about review copies I jumped on the opportunity and was lucky enough to be sent an ARC. I rarely ever request them these days because of the lack of reading I've been doing, but I'm glad I made an exception. I'm not sure I agreed with all of it, but it kept me reading as I devoured it this weekend and Imogen's struggle was raw and real.

What I plan to read this week:
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
I started this last week after what I'm pretty sure is years of recommendations of it. I'm trying to edit my latest novel so I figured I could use some inspiration. Half done and it's really great so far... I would definitely recommend it too!

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
I picked this up yesterday after finishing Bruised because I'd heard such amazing things about it, and its sequel Girl of Nightmares is already released and I'm tired of starting unfinished series. Plus I wasn't sure I'd ever read YA horror, so the genre intrigued me. Now that I'm just over a third done, I'm definitely enjoying it, but the story may be headed in a direction I really hope it's not with regards to a romance... It seems inevitable, but I really want it to just stay creepy.

The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon
Just started this one last night when I wanted to read a print copy of a book and I happened to have an ARC of it. Plus, I really enjoyed the three books by McMahon that I have read. I'm only about 30 pages into this 422 page monster (I guess YA contemporary has me used to books in the 200-ish page range) but it seems interesting so far though it hasn't totally sucked me in yet. I'm sure it will though.

Ruled by Caragh M. O'Brien
I'm probably deluding myself by adding yet another book to this list– I mean I do have a lot of plans this week and I want to work on my novel, but it's a short story from a series that I love, so I figure even if I fail on the other 3 books I should be able to manage this 32 page one.

What are you reading this Monday?  

Meghan's Ultimate To-Read List for 2013

My Goodreads account is practically an epic love poem to all the reading goals that I have, but I figured laying them out with a little more specificity won't hurt.

Most of these have received some sort of acclaim or notice in the past year or two, which is how they made it to my list. Some of them are just new gems I've discovered and want to explore. An asterisk (*) indicates that this is a book a friend or family member loved and recommended to me.

Here it is, the best of the best, my reading goals of 2013:

  • Nonfiction
      • General knowledge 
        • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
        • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (*, my grandpa)
      • Feminism
        • The Purity Myth by: Jessica Valenti
        • Cinderella Ate My Daughter by: Peggy Orenstein
      • Memoir
        • Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Suzannah Cahalan
        • Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by: Jenny Lawson (*, Amanda, who shares my sense of humor and romanticism)
        • The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by: Alice Ozma
        • Wild by Cheryl Strayed
  • Fiction
    • Historical fiction
      • The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty (if this woman has a son, I would like to marry him, please--check out that fantastic last name!) 
      • Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
    • The Age of Miracles by: Karen Thompson Walker
    • Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by: Robin Sloane 
    • This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz 
    • Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Green
    • The Leftovers by Tom Perrota 
    • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (*, Addie, my little sister)
    • A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan 
    • I Have Blinded Myself Writing This by Jess Stoner
  • Poetry
    • Life on Mars by Tracy K Smith (2012 Pulitzer Prize Winner) 
    • B by: Sarah Kay (TED conference video--must look this up) 
    • A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver (Goodreads Choice Awards Winner for Poetry, 2012)
    • Tinkers by Paul Harding (*, my brilliant musician and writer friend, Madison)
  • Mystery
    • The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
  • Plays
    • Aloha Say the Pretty Girls by: Naomi Iizuka (*, Elyse, one of my current roommates and the director protege of the Denison University Theatre Department) 
    • Tigers Be Still by: Kim Rosenstock (*, Elyse again)
  • Young Adult
    • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein 
    • Easy by Tammara Webber
    • Warm Bodies by Issac Marion
    • The Invention of Hubo Cabret by Brian Selznick (*, Ellen, the YA expert) 
    • Wonder by RJ Palacio 
  • Short Stories
    • The Last Girlfriend on Earth and Other Love Stories by: Simon Rich
  • Sherlockian Obsession
    • Sherlock's Home: The Empty House edited by: Steve Emecz

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Giveaway: Summerset Abbey by T. J. Brown

Enter for your chance to win a SIGNED finished copy of Summerset Abbey! Open to the US only.

1913: In a sprawling manor on the outskirts of London, three young women seek to fulfill their destinies and desires amidst the unspoken rules of society and the distant rumblings of war. . . . 

Rowena Buxton 

Sir Philip Buxton raised three girls into beautiful and capable young women in a bohemian household that defied Edwardian tradition. Eldest sister Rowena was taught to value people, not wealth or status. But everything she believes will be tested when Sir Philip dies, and the girls must live under their uncle’s guardianship at the vast family estate, Summerset Abbey. Standing up for a beloved family member sequestered to the “under class” in this privileged new world, and drawn into the Cunning Coterie, an exclusive social circle of aristocratic “rebels,” Rowena must decide where her true passions—and loyalties—lie. 

Victoria Buxton 

Frail in body but filled with an audacious spirit, Victoria secretly dreams of attending university to become a botanist like her father. But this most unladylike wish is not her only secret. Now, Victoria has stumbled upon a family scandal that, if revealed, has the potential to change lives forever… 

Prudence Tate 

Prudence was lovingly brought up alongside Victoria and Rowena, and their bond is as strong as blood. But by birth she is a governess’s daughter, and to the lord of Summerset Abbey, that makes her a commoner who must take her true place in society—as ladies maid to her beloved “sisters.” But Pru doesn’t belong in the downstairs world of the household staff any more than she belongs upstairs with the Buxton girls. And when a young lord catches her eye, she begins to wonder if she’ll ever truly carve out a place for herself at Summerset Abbey…

Use the Rafflecopter form to enter the giveaway! Ends February 3rd at midnight EST. 
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Where To Find Summerset Abbey:
Other books in the Summerset Abbey series:
Good luck and thanks for entering! 

Author Interview with T. J. Brown

How would you describe Summerset Abbey in ten words or less?

Edwardian, fun, exciting, comical, dramatic, heartbreaking, vivid, rich, detailed, lush.

Oh, wait. That’s not what you meant? How about: An exciting, fun, sometimes comical, often dramatic and heartbreaking, Edwardian romp full of vivid and lush detailed descriptions.

Where did the inspiration behind Summerset Abbey come from?

When I was about fifteen I read this gorgeous book called Amanda, Miranda by Richard Peck. I absolutely fell in love with the time period, but being without Internet or library access, I didn’t really research the era or even know what exactly it was called. As I grew older, I realized it took place during the Edwardian period. Then I saw Downton Abbey and fell in love all over again. This led to a random email to my agent and the idea for Summerset Abbey was born.

Where and when do you do most of your writing?

About ten years ago, I removed the dining room table from the house and made the dining room my office. I live in a 70’s ranch style home and have the smallest great room ever, so my office is right where everyone lives. This isn’t a problem now that my children are grown up, but it was a bit challenging when I first did it! When I am having trouble making the words happen, I find that a change of venue often helps and head to my local coffee shop. Most of my writing is done during the day when my husband is at work, because he’s kind of distracting!

Did you always want to be a writer? What has your writing journey been like?

When I was in the third grade, I read a biography on Louisa May Alcott and fell in love with her and her books. I decided I was going to be a writer just like Louisa and her alter ego, Jo March. But writing takes an awful lot of self-discipline and that’s something I didn’t have in abundance until after I had children. They taught me more about self-discipline in the first few years of their lives than I’d learned in all the previous 23 years of mine! I took those lessons and applied them to my writing life. I’ve written both nonfiction and fiction and writing fiction is so much more satisfying to me. I sold my first YA novel in 2007 and it came out in 2008. Summerset Abbey will be my second novel.

What did you do when you found out Summerset Abbey had sold?

I quit my job. Seriously! Six months prior, I had sold a young adult series set in the 1920’s to Balzer+Bray. I had a lot of books to write and knew that even my part time job was going to be too much, so I turned in my notice.

The sequel to Summerset Abbey, A Bloom in Winter, comes out in March. What's it like having two books released in the same year? Do you have time to sleep?

What’s sleep? I actually have FOUR books coming out this year! The third Summerset Abbey book will be coming out in August and my young adult novel, Born of Illusion will be out in June.

What are you writing now? Can readers expect a book 3 in the Summerset Abbey series?

Yes! Spring Awakening will be out in August. I am currently working on a novella and another novel. They are both top secret right now, but I hope to announce them soon!

TJ Brown is passionate about books, writing, history, dachshunds and mojitos. If she could go back in time, she would have traveled back to England, 1910, Paris, 1927 or Haight-Ashbury, 1967. She resides in the burbs of Portlandia, where she appreciates the weirdness, the microbreweries, hoodies, Voodoo Donuts and the rain.  

Thanks so much to T. J. for stopping by In The Next Room! To learn more about Summerset Abbey check out her website or Goodreads page.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Zoe's 2013 Reading Goals

I always find it fun to see what people's reading plans are, so I thought I'd share some of my own. I didn't do an awesome job meeting my 2012 goals (found here), but they are really just guidelines for inspiration and with that in mind I'm happy with what I accomplished. I'd rather read things I love than follow some list, but I still adore making lists, so here I am again.

General Goals:
    •    Read at least 5 books of poetry
    •    Read at least 5 novels in verse
    •    Read at least 5 classics (Aesop's Fables by Aesop; )
    •    Read at least 2 plays
    •    Read at least 3 books of non-fiction (Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott; )
    •    Read at least 2 memoirs
    •    Read at least 5 middle grade novels
    •    Finish at least 5 series I've already started (Unearthly Trilogy by Cynthia Hand;)
    •    Read a steampunk book
   •     Read at least 10 YA debuts (Bruised by Sarah Skilton; Dancing in the Dark by Robyn Bavati; If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch; )
    •    Read at least 100 books

Some Specifics:

    •    Read a book by Scott Westerfeld
    •    Read a book by Mandy Hubbard/Amanda Grace
    •    Read a book by Tera Lynn Childs
    •    Restart and finish reading The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
    •    Read a book by Ellen Hopkins
    •    Read a play by William Shakespeare
    •    Read a book by Libba Bray
    •    Read a book by Haruki Murakami
    •    Read a book by Sarah Ockler
    •    Read a book by Jessica Martinez (Virtousity)
    •    Read a book by David Levithan
    •    Read a book by Abby McDonald (The Anti-Prom)
    •    Read a book by Katie Kacvinsky
    •    Read a book by Neil Gaiman

Do you have any 2013 reading plans? Is there anything I must read in the upcoming year and should therefore add to my list? Let me know :)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Meghan Review: Blood Gospel

By far the best suspense thriller I read last year, The Order of the Sanguines Series (#1): Blood Gospel by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell grabbed me and wouldn't let go. I read the whole book in less than a week (during finals, no less!) and I've already recommended it to all my friends.

When Dr. Erin Granger, Sergeant Jordan Stone, and Catholic priest Father Rhun Korza investigate a mysterious dig site with the crucified mummy of a young girl, they are brutally attacked. On the run, the only place where these three can find answers is within the book that was once preserved in the tomb: a book rumored to have been written by Christ's own Hand, containing secrets to His divinity. But they don't realize (except for the mysterious Rhun) is that their pursuers are creatures unlike they could have imagined...

 What makes Blood Gospel so special? It has short chapters with many different viewpoints, constructing a strong world from many different angles. The reader is given a lens into each other the characters' mentalities through the shifting viewpoints, and this kept the plot moving fast. I also think this would help the book appeal to a wide audience---people who prefer militaristic or hyper-masculine stories will really sympathize with Jordan, whereas I related more strongly to the smart, determined Dr. Erin. Historical fiction fans will love Rhun.

Threaded throughout the book is a strong exploration of the Catholic faith and the history of the Church. Initially, I was hesitant about this, thinking that this was a familiar path that other authors (notably, Dan Brown) have tread again and again. But this re-imagining of history was accurate without being dull, interspersed seamlessly with well-developed fantastic and supernatural elements. Blood Gospel is a book that will sink its fangs deeply into you, and not let you go.

Recommended to: people who enjoyed The Davinci Code, Angels and Demons, Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, or the True Blood  series, people with a long plane ride ahead, history buffs and vampire fanatics.

Release Date: January 8, 2013  Pages: 496 Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Publisher Publisher: William Morrow Buy It: Book Depository

This is a review by Meghan. You can find her here on Goodreads or on Twitter @meghanc303

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Author Interview with Nataly Kelly, "Found in Translation"

 Why did you become interested in translation?

My earliest memory is of not being able to communicate. As a very young child, I vividly recall trying to explain something to my mother and aunt, and they didn't understand me. The frustration of not being understood is one of my strongest memories.  I believe this is why I became a translator and interpreter. Having a talent for languages is one thing, but having a passion to help people communicate is another thing entirely.

Do you have any advice for aspiring translators?
This field is so diverse that there is truly something for everyone who has the necessary skills and proficiency. If you love video games, there are localization jobs out there.  If you have a beautiful voice, there is multilingual voice-over work available.  There are translators (written language) and interpreters (spoken or signed language) who specialize in cosmetics, sports, the opera... even those who work for NASA!  Success as a translator depends on many factors, but for those just getting started, I suggest looking into professional associations, such as the American Translators Association.

What about advice for people who are struggling to learn a new language?

First, find a method that does not make you struggle.  Look for ways to link it to something you absolutely love. The author Tim Ferris credits his Japanese proficiency in part to his love of comic books. Likewise, I was blessed to have a teacher from Korea, Mrs. Helen Kim, who taught me to sing classical music in various languages. My relationship with her helped fuel my desire to learn other languages and to see them as something fun and enjoyable, thanks to music.

Second, don't be hard on yourself. I often encourage people to focus on what they are good at instead of worrying about what they aren't good at where languages are concerned. Who cares if you have a strong accent or you can't conjugate a verb perfectly? Aim for proficiency instead of perfection. Eventually, you'll get better.  Mistakes are part of the process!

How would you describe Found in Translation in ten words or less?
"A fun book that reveals how translation shapes your life."

Why did you write it?

I dreamed for many years of writing a book that would shake up the average person's notion of translation as a dry, boring, or academic topic.  It's actually fun, exciting, and fascinating!  It really does affect life as we know it.  My hope is that this is the conclusion that the reader comes to after reading the stories in the book, which are quite diverse.

Are there any particular funny or moving anecdotes about your experiences translating that didn't make it into the book that you would like to share?
Oh, absolutely. We'd need a separate book of those!  One moving example that comes to mind is of a situation in which I was interpreting for a speech therapist, who was asking questions to help a stroke victim recover her speech and language skills. She asked the patient several questions, such as "Who drives the bus?" and "Who teaches at the school?"  The questions became more complex, and she eventually asked, "Who grows the food?"  The answer the therapist wanted to hear was "the farmer," but the woman responded with, "the mother." The therapist then asked her, "Who grows the food for a lot of people?" The patient said, "God." That experience really made me realize that translators and interpreters are not just bridging languages, but leaping across cultural chasms as well.

As for a funny example, I was once interpreting via telephone for a patient in a doctor's office. The doctor asked him to undress and left the room to enable him to do so.  When the doctor came back, the patient had not undressed yet.  When asked why, he said he did not want the interpreter to see him.  I was only connected via telephone, but he thought I could see him through the phone. This was about 10 years prior to Skype video calls.  Perhaps he was ahead of his time!

And come to think of it, I've also been called "the interpretator" once or twice instead of "the interpreter."  That always makes me smile.

Nataly Kelly is an author, consultant, and advisor in the areas of language services and global business.
She is the Chief Research Officer at Common Sense Advisory, an independent market research firm dedicated to language services and technology, located in the Boston area. She has formally studied seven languages, has traveled to 36 countries, and has obtained higher education on three continents.
Thanks so much to Nataly for stopping by In the Next Room! To learn more about her and her translation work, stop by her website. To read the review of Nataly's latest book, Found in Translation, click here

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Meghan Review: An Extraordinary Theory of Objects: A Memoir of an Outsider in Paris by: Stephanie LaCava

This unique memoir goes chronologically through Stephanie LaCava's childhood in Paris by moving, in a scrapbook-like fashion, through different objects she loved. As a young American girl, feeling awkward and out-of-place, LaCava found comfort in the unique objects she discovered while living abroad. She uses these objects as a method for coping with her increased anxiety and depression, and ultimately discovers that by using creativity to find the wonder in these items, she is also able to find wonder in a uncertain future.

This is definitely the most unique memoir I've ever read, full of illustrations of LaCava's found objects. At first, I though LaCava had done the illustrating herself, but small print on the title page explains that illustrations were done by Matthew Nelson. They are intricate and artistic, often suggesting the feel of an object, rather than just an accurate, more clinical drawing.

In addition to these illustrations, LaCava included copious historical footnotes about each object. Designated by an asterisk, these footnotes expand on the background of each object. From the origination of mummy powder to the short biographical notes about people such as the decorator Madeleine Castaing, these notes were by far my favorite part of the memoir. Quirky, interesting, and appropriately brief, they really worked to enrich my understanding of the significance each object had to LaCava. Though the footnote format may be distracting to some initially, I encourage readers to persevere! Similar to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by: Mark Haddox or House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, the footnotes are as much a part of the story as the text itself!

Though I would have liked to have a longer memoir from LaCava, with more details on her life and relationships, this collection (almost like a collection of short stories) stands strong on its own, flaunting its unique, ephemeral style.

Recommended to: people who want a little Parisian flair, fans of graphic novels or comics, history buffs, anyone who needs a quick and read on a flight to somewhere new.

Release Date: December 4, 2012  Pages: 224 Format: Hardcover
Source: TLC Book Tours Publisher: Harper Buy It: Book Depository

This is a review by Meghan. You can find her here on Goodreads or on Twitter @meghanc303