Saturday, April 24, 2010

Book Review: White Cat by Holly Black & AUTHOR EVENT

 The Odyssey Bookshop welcomes 
Holly Black & Cassandra Clare 
in a duo-author event on 
May 11th at 7 p.m.!

Holly Black's New Release!

White Cat (The Curse Workers #01)
by Holly Black
9781416963967, $17.99, Pub. Date: May 2010

Introducing the beginning of a new Holly Black series! So dark, so complicated, so witty - so wonderful.

How to explain this book to without giving a page-by-page detailed explanation? Okay, let's begin with setting. The time is now, or sometime mirroring now, with the cars, phones, technology, etc. that we have. The difference is the existence of curse work. Some people have the ability to work curses, magic, by touching other people with their bare hands. There are different types of curse work - memory curses, emotion curses, and transmutation curses. Curse working has been outlawed and everyone wears gloves to avoid touching each other with bare hands.

Enter Cassel Sharpe. He was born into a family of curse workers, and though he's an excellent con artist, he's not actually a curse worker. That doesn't mean there isn't something a little magical going on. Cassel keeps dreaming of a white cat, and waking up not in his boarding school dormitory bed. His dreams tend to center around one event he'd like to forget: the night he killed the girl he loved, Lila Zacharov. She was the daughter of the powerful head of the Zacharov crime family. The only reason Cassel is still alive is that his older brothers, all powerful curse workers, covered up for him.

While this all sounds strange in its own right, the part that's more bizarre is that Lila's curse magic was an ability to turn into other animals, and a white cat was her favorite. How is Lila controlling Cassel's dreams if she's supposedly dead? As the complex plot unfolds, Cassel begins to realize he can't trust anyone or anything - not his own family, and worst of all, not even his own memory. Someone has been curse working him. Now if only he could figure out who and why...

Throw in a dysfunctional family, a girlfriend who just dumped him, the beginnings of actual friends for the first time in his life, and you've got one heck of a teenage life to get through.


See this review on my personal blog.

Cassandra Clare's Trilogy, Mortal Instruments!

City of Bones
9781416955078, Simon & Schuster, $9.99

City of Ashes
9781416972242, Simon & Schuster, $9.99

City of Glass 
9781416914303, Simon & Schuster, $17.99

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Book Review: Serena by Ron Rash

This was a post I intended to publish over a year ago. Now in paperback, I'm finally going to post my review of Ron Rash's Serena.

Hardcover: 9780061470851, HarperCollins, $24.95
Paperback: 9780061470844, HarperCollins, $14.99

Serena blew my mind a bit.

You wouldn't think upon first picking up a book about a timber empire in North Carolina during the years leading up to the Great Depression that it would be a gripping read for anyone other than a history buff. Yet the cast of characters and the stark reality of Ron Rash's writing creates a compelling and bone-chilling story.

The absolute lack of morality and concern for anyone other than herself makes Serena a heinous individual. You want to hate her, but her intelligence and self-possession make her fascinating. In a harsh land, building a harsh timber empire, Serena is a beautiful, feminine, immovable steel rod who has a blow as heavy as one of the trees felled by her timber crews. Recently married to owner George Pemberton, Serena is as obsessed with power and the unplumbed Brazilian forests, as George is with her. Together they form an nearly unstoppable team of knowledge, money, and Serena's ruthlessness. If someone stands in their way, they will be taken down - whether by a swift knife across the throat, a hunting "accident", or Serena's right-hand man who always gets his prey.

An unnerving subplot involves George Pemberton's illegitimate child, mothered by a local mountain girl, conceived prior to George's marriage to Serena, but birthed afterward. Distracted by her ambitions in other directions, Serena does not focus on the mother and child until later in the book. Then, for reasons of her own, Serena turns her obsession toward them - and it is time for them to die.

Much like the trees now clogging the riverways, Serena will cut down everything in her path: Teddy Roosevelt's plan for a national forest, a local sheriff who is the only man with backbone enough to stand up to her, and the mother and child who retain a claim on the man and the empire that must be solely hers. Serena doesn't share; she takes, eliminates, and possesses.

A frighteningly compelling read, you won't want to put it down until you find out how, why, and who is the next to die. 


Read this review and others on my personal blog.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

David Foster Wallace Vocabulary

Thanks to @kentmeusemarian for today's post! (Follow me on Twitter: @rebf)

David Foster Wallace was an American novelist, essayist, and short story writer, whose most famous work, Infinite Jest, was included in Time magazine's All-Time 100 Greatest Novels list.

Hardcover: 9780316920049, Little, Brown & Co., $35
Paperback: 9780316066525, Little, Brown & Co., $17.99

In his work, he had much occasion to check out his favorite American Heritage Dictionary, and while he was there, circled a multitude of words. Though this article doesn't really go into detail about why DFW circled all these words, this is, apparently, a complete list of the words he did circle.

Were they his favorites? His most-used? Words he could never remember the definitions for? Words he most-loved to use at dinner parties? Was he studying up for an adult spelling bee? We may never know, but you should check them out.


Check out this post on my personal blog.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Pioneer Valley Children's Book Exhibit

For those folks living in, around, near, or feel like traveling to the Pioneer Valley in Western Mass (an area consisting of towns such as Amherst, Northampton, & South Hadley), a traveling area picturebook exhibit is making its final stop.

The Making of a Picture Book: The Marriage of Text and Art is an exhibit curated by Mount Holyoke College Professor and author, Corinne Demas. The exhibit focuses on these four picturebooks:

Hans Christian Andersen's The Perfect Wizard
written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Dennis Nolan
9780525469551, Dutton Books (Penguin), $16.99

The Littlest Matryoskha
by Corinne Demas, illustrated by Kathryn Brown
9780786801534, HarperCollins, $15.99

Once I Ate a Pie
co-written by Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest, illustrated by Katy Schneider
9780060735319, HarperCollins, $17.99

Ten Times Better
by Richard Michelson, illustrated by Leonard Baskin
9780761450702, Marshall Cavendish Children's Books, $17.95

The exhibit has toured around the Pioneer Valley, most recently at Mount Holyoke College, and now is installed in its final exhibit space at the Forbes Library in Northampton (20 West Street, Northampton, MA - 413.587.1011). The exhibit will be up through the end of May. Stop by and check it out!


See this post on my personal blog.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Today in the Boston Globe

From unpublished to Pulitzer

Paul Harding (Anthony Pidgeon/Redferns)
Personal interactions between publishers, booksellers, and reviewers launched Mass. writer Paul Harding’s book, “Tinkers,’’ the old-fashioned way. (Boston Globe)

The author’s unlikely success story is rooted in a series of personal interactions between publishers, booksellers, and reviewers that launched a book the old-fashioned way. There were no media campaigns, Twitter feeds, or 30-city tours. Instead, the success of “Tinkers’’ can be linked to a handful of people who were so moved by the richly lyrical story of an old man facing his final days that they had to tell others about it.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Now here's a DEDICATED book designer!

Jessica Hische
Shopping in Marrakech
Designed with Louise Fili while working at Louise Fili Ltd. // Client: The Little Bookroom // This fun guidebook was especially fun to design. I developed the lettering first in illustrator and spent three days embroidering the cover for this book (the original now hangs on my wall). The interior is also decorated with bead and embroidery ornamentation where possible to make for a very rich design reflective of the wares you might purchase in Marrakech.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

from "Jacket Knack" on Design Terms

MONDAY, MARCH 29, 2010

10 Book Design Terms Explained!

For beginners, from a beginner, here are ten terms to know about book creation. (Would be most grateful if the better-informed will correct or clarify in the comments! --Carol)
  1. Blind, blind stamped or stamped in the blind: "This refers to stamping or impressions on the cover of a book that have not been filled in with color or gilt." (source)A blind stamp
  2. Cast-Coated Paper: Coated paper with a high-gloss reflective finish. (source)Cast-coated paper
  3. Foil: "A metallic or pigmented coating on plastic sheets or rolls used in foil stamping and foil embossing." (source)Foil
  4. Headbands: "Most commonly, the bands of thread which extend beyond the top and bottom edges of the text block at either end of the spine." (source)A headband
  5. Levant: "Elegant and highly polished morocco goatskin leather with a grain-pattern surface." (source)Levant
  6. Slab Serif: "A certain class of font whoseserifs look like slabs (e.g.: flat lines or blocks) and not hooks." Rockwell uses slab serifs. (source)
  7. Sparkle: "A typographic property associated with many classical, readable typefaces that is related to their typographic contrast." The typeface Bodoni is said to sparkle. (source)
  8. Spot varnish: "Varnish used to hilight [sic] a specific part of the printed sheet." (source)
  9. Spot varnishThermography: "Method of printing using colorless resin powder that takes on the color of underlying ink. Also called raised printing." Printers can even make the raised part metallic, pearlescent, or glittery! (source)Thermographic Glitter!Thermography/Raised printing
  10. UV coated paper:"Liquid laminate bonded and cured with ultraviolet light. Environmentally friendly. Comes in gloss or matte finish." (source) This is used to protect the paper. UV coating can apparently provide the glossiest finish of all available coating methods.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Scrabble Sacrilege

Some disturbing news concerning the game Scrabble was released today. Matel, the toy company who holds rights to Scrabble in the UK, has announced that they will be releasing a new form of the game in which proper nouns will count for points (there has been no news as to whether Hasbro, the toy company who holds rights to Scrabble in the US, will release a similar game). Those are the names of people, places, and things, that up until this time have been considered cheating by the more serious scrabble players. This causes some concern for me, and I will tell you why, but first let me confess something:

I am horrible at Scrabble. No, really, considering how much I read, what I attend grad school for, and the scores I received on my SATs and GREs, you'd really think my apparently impressive vocabulary would hold me in good steed when it comes to a word-based game such as Scrabble. Not so, my friends. Though it's taken me many years to admit to this, I've finally made my peace with the fact. Now on the rare occasions I play, I resign myself to the knowledge that even the 9-year-old I'm playing against will probably beat me.

Why am I telling you this? So you won't think the following rant comes from a die hard Scrabble lover who just can't imagine imposing upon the sanctity of the game rules.

Now, back to why a Scrabble rule change is horrifying. Basically, Matel is saying that the current "younger generation" they're trying to reach is too dumb to play Scrabble, so they're making the rules easier. Oh, you can pretty it up by likening it to an updated version of Trivial Pursuit that has references to pop culture from J.T.T. (Jonathan Taylor Thomas to those who don't get that reference) to Beyonce, but we all know the original Trivial Pursuit is the best, the hardest, and has the most equal playing field, and so is the now-old version of Scrabble.

Also, both articles I could find on this tragedy - one from the BBC and one from the NY Daily News - neglected to mention that in the globalized communities we find ourselves in, ALMOST ANYTHING can be argued as a proper name. There are names from languages other than English that do use silent Qs, Ps, Xs, Ys, and Zs (probably)! Even as I realize these new rules will probably make the chances of me actually winning a game all the more greater, I still can't endorse a change as apparently ill-conceived and not thoroughly thought out as this one.

Last, but not least, if you haven't already figured out that you can change the rules on your own when you play Scrabble with someone to include proper nouns, and thus enjoy the already existing game of Scrabble, then you really are too dumb to play and probably shouldn't bother in the first place.


Monday, April 5, 2010

MoCCA Festival

MoCCA Fest 2010 Poster

MoCCA Festival
 Saturday & Sunday April 10 & 11, 2010
68th Regiment Armory
68 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY
The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art - MoCCA is pleased to announce that the next MoCCA Festival will take place over April 10-11, 2010. The annual two-day event attracts thousands of comic art lovers and creators from around the globe to celebrate the world's most popular art form in the heart of New York City.
Special guests at MoCCA Fest 2010 include Bill Ayers, Kyle Baker, Gabrielle Bell, Kim Deitch, Emily Flake, Tom Hart, Dean Haspiel, Jaime Hernandez, Paul Karasik, Neil Kleid, Peter Kuper, Michael Kupperman, Hope Larson, David Mazzucchelli, Frank Miller, Josh Neufeld, Rick Parker, Paul Pope, Henrik Rehr, Alex Robinson, Frank Santoro, Dash Shaw, James Sturm, R. Sikoryak, Jillian Tamaki, Raina Telgemeier, Gahan Wilson and Craig Yoe!
Featured exhibitors include Abrams ComicArts, ACT-I-VATE, Buenaventura Press, Drawn and Quarterly, Fantagraphics, First Second, NBM, Pantheon, Royal Flush Magazine, Secret Acres, Sparkplug Comic Books, Top Shelf Productions and more!
The 2010 Klein Award wil be presented to David Mazzucchelli by Chip Kidd!
Since 2002 the MoCCA Festival offers a unique venue to experience comics, mini-comics, web comics, graphic novels, animation, posters, prints, original artwork, and more. Each year, the Festival invites dozens of established and emerging creators, scholars, and other experts to participate in two days of lecture/discussion panels on a variety of comics and cartoon topics. For 2010, the panels and programs are being organized by Brian Heater (The Daily Crosshatch) and Jeff Newelt (Pekar Project, SMITH, Heeb, Royal Flush).
MoCCA Festival 2010 is sponsored in part by Disney Book GroupDrawn and QuarterlyMidtown ComicsPantheon and Yoe Books!
MoCCA Fest 2010 will again take place at the historic 69th Regiment Armory at 68 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY.
Much more information coming soon!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Birthday Hans Christian Andersen

Thank you to Google for reminding me that today is the 205th birthday of Hans Christian Andersen. Google has a five-image series of Andersen's  Thumbelina surrounding their logo today.
Andersen was a Danish writer and paper-cut artist who not only recorded tales from the oral storytelling tradition (in the style of the Brothers Grimm), but who also wrote his own creations. His fairy tales were published in Europe beginning in the 1830s, but it wasn't until the 1860s that Americans first got a look at them (in an American English edition - maybe they'd seen them before elsewhere, people did travel back then, you know).

A man named Horace E. Scudder worked for an early version of the publishing house we now know as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, known then as Hurd & Houghton. At that time in children's publishing, children's magazines were becoming a big deal, with many publishers vying for the position of top-circulating, best-illustrated, most-engaging-stories-by-most-famous-authors children's magazine producer. The Riverside Magazine for Young People was first published by Hurd & Houghton in December 1866. Scudder had a close relationship with Andersen and was able to not only publish 17 of Andersen's fairy tales in The Riverside Magazine beginning in 1868, but Scudder also negotiated on behalf of Hurd & Houghton to publish the only authorized American edition of Andersen's stories (thank you to Leonard Marcus's Minders of Make-Believe for this information). Scudder was constantly encouraging Andersen to make the trip across the pond and visit the States, but sadly that never happened.

Andersen's tales have been made into movies - cartoon and live-action, plays, and ballets. They also continue to be collected in anthologies and illustrated as individual stories. Just last month in March 2010, Chronicle Books published a version of Thumbelina, illustrated by Sylvia Long (9780811855228, $17.99). One of my favorite versions of this story was illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger, published under the title Thumbeline (9780735822368, $6.95, NorthSouth). There is even a graphic novel version (9781434217417, $4.95, Capstone Press), and a re-imagined full-length middle grade novel with silhouette illustrations by Barbara Ensor (9780375839603, $12.99, Random House).

Of the hundreds of anthologies of Andersen's work, Lisbeth Zwerger has illustrated a beautiful edition in her signature dreamy watercolor style (9780698400351, $21.99, Penguin). W.W. Norton (a publishing house) has released an annotated collected works (9780393060812, $35), while Calla Editions, an imprint of Dover Publications, has published an immense, bound in a cloth binding with gold embossed lettering, gift edition (9781606600009, $40). Lastly, don't miss a collection of his paper cuttings - artwork that looks like reverse silhouettes, compiled by Beth Wagner Brust for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (9780618311095, $9.95).

However you prefer your Andersen, illustrated or performed, take some time today or this weekend to read a few of his treasured tales. I'd start with The Little Mermaid (if you're reading with older children or for yourself). This isn't a washed-out Disney version. It's the real classic. As it should be.
 - Rebecca
Click here to see this post on my personal blog.