Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ten Authors of Series Jen Loves to Reread: Part II

[Editor's Note: Here's a link to Part I. Additionally, two of the following series are also among Nif's November 2010 Picks.]

J.R.R.TOLKIEN set the stage for my love of both fantasy and linguistics.
- The Lord of the Rings, starting with The Fellowship of the Ring (Del Rey, $7.99), or more properly with The Hobbit (Del Rey, $7.99)

MEGAN WHALEN TURNER offers characters who hide in plain sight.
- Attolia series, starting with The Thief (Greenwillow, $6.99)

LOIS MCMASTER BUJOLD has a fabulous grasp of diplomacy: Over and over, she introduces you to the enemy, and then gives them the floor.
- Cordelia Naismith/Miles Vorkosigan series, starting with Cordelia’s Honor (Simon & Schuster, $7.99)
- Chalion series, starting with The Curse of Chalion (HarperTorch, $7.99)
- Sharing Knife, starting with Sharing Knife: Beguilement (Eos, $7.99)

JASPER FFORDE mixes absurdist alternate history with a host of literary puns.
- Thursday Next, starting with The Eyre Affair (Penguin, $15.00)
- Nursery Crime, starting with The Big Over Easy (Penguin, $15.00)

TAMORA PIERCE knows what it means to find a place to belong.
- Circle of Magic, starting with Sandry’s Book (Point, $6.99)
- The Protector of the Small, starting with First Test (Random House, $6.50)

August 2011, Jennifer Sheffield

Claudia’s Five Steamy Reads

Some like it steamy...
Are you one of the girls who secretly read erotic novels?! Hiding them underneath pillows and mattresses? I confess: I am. When I was in my late teen years a good friend of mine gave me about fifty Playboy magazines from her dad. Uhh, I can’t remember what was more exciting: the content and pictures or the fact that I had to hide them.

So if you are in a sensuous mood to spice up the last summer month and be a naughty girl you HAVE to devour the books by Victoria Janssen. She is a superb writer and needs to get a gold star in the erotic novel category. Titles like The Moonlight Mistress or The Duke and The Pirate Queen do not only promise a wild ride, they leave you breathless and more... Victoria is also super nice and her book release parties at the Big Blue Marble Bookstore are the climax of the day. (I hope she has a new one coming out soon ).

“Remove the petals carefully from the roses…” Ahh, Tita's famous "Quail in Rose Petal Sauce". Laura Esquivel combines a love story and piquant Mexican recipes and lets them simmer on a slow flame. The heat is on.

You can't get enough steam??!! Then treat yourself to The Steampunk Bible, “an illustrated guide to the world of imaginary airships, corsets and goggles, mad scientists, and strange literature.” Different kind of steamy.

Getting hot now?? Come to our lovely cafe and cool off with a cold drink.

The Duchess, Her Maid, the Groom and Their Lover by Victoria Janssen (Spice, $13.95)

The Moonlight Mistress by Victoria Janssen (Spice, $13.95)

[Editor's Note: Moonlight Mistress is also one of Jen's July 2010 Picks.]

The Duke and the Pirate Queen by Victoria Janssen (Spice, $13.95)

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (Random House, $14.00)

The Steampunk Bible by Jeff Vandermeer (Abrams, $24.95)

[Editor's Note: For more adventures in steampunk, see Erica's October 2010 Picks.]

August 2011, Claudia Vesterby

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Amy’s Five Favorite Buddy Stories for Readers Who Love Frog & Toad

We all love Frog and Toad. Their quirky, “odd-couple” relationship and unending devotion for one another is inspiring for young and old. There are tons of best-friends stories out there; I chose the ones below because they resemble Frog and Toad in spirit and simplicity. They would be excellent choices for new readers or pre-readers.

George and Martha by James Marshall
(Series of titles, available in picture book and early reader formats)

Written and illustrated by the amazing James Marshall, these tell the story of two hippos who are the best of friends.

Owen & Mzee: the true story of a remarkable friendship by Isabella Hatkoff and Peter Hatkoff (Scholastic, $16.99)
Owen is a hippo that was stranded on a reef off the coast of Kenya after the tsunami of 2006. He was brought to a wildlife refuge where he immediately took comfort in the company of a 130-year old tortoise named Mzee. The pair has become an international sensation. This is their sweet story, written and illustrated by a little girl and her dad, after visiting the refuge.

Toot & Puddle by Holly Hobbie
(Series of titles, picture books)

Swap Frog and Toad for two pigs wearing turtlenecks, and you have got Toot & Puddle.

Elephant & Piggie by Mo Willems
(Series of titles, early readers)

This series is laugh-out-loud fun. Brought to you by the author of such classics as Knuffle Bunny and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.

City Dog, Country Frog by Jon J. Muth (Hyperion, $17.99)
One of my all-time favorite picture books. It has a sweet and beautiful message, about the power of friendship and the cycle of life, with gorgeous illustrations by the illustrator of Zen Ties and Zen Shorts.

August 2011, Amy Vaccarella

Monday, August 29, 2011

Janet’s Five OohOohOoh... Ahhhhh...Ohhhhhh...Books

What better way to spend a hot August afternoon than oohing and ahhing over a book? In fact, if it is truly an ooh, ahh, book, and you are with your child, partner, friend, add a few laughs by counting which one of you oohs and aahs the most. This is especially valuable if you have no place to go swimming or otherwise survive the heat but to simply laugh your way through it.

Unlikely Friendships by Jennifer Holland (Workman Publishing, $13.95)
My favorite ohh ahher filled with photographs and stories of friendships developed between animals of different species (sort of like friendships between men and women).

Cake Pops by Angie Dudley (Chronicle Books, $19.95)
A delightful collection of oooable pops perfect for a party or an "I'm bored, Mom" summer day or just to fantasize making someday.

Itty-Bitty Hats by Susan B. Anderson (Artisan, $17.95)
A book of patterns for babies and toddlers which will turn them into the most delectable beings in Mt. Airy and beyond. Anderson also authors a companion volume of Itty-bitty toys.

At Home with Books by Erin Zamrzla (Trumpeter, $21.95)
Imaginative projects that turn your old books into objects of art or functional additions to your household.

Apples I Have Eaten by Jonathan Gerken (Chronicle Books, $14.95)
A small red (of course) covered book that turns apples into collector's items. (We are hoping to self-publish a similar volume with eggs...have you seen the shades of the organic eggs at the Co-op?)

[Editor's Note: Apples I Have Eaten is also one of Erica's December 2010 Picks.]

August 2011, Janet Elfant

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Erica’s Five Novels Starring Philadelphia

What with all the jibber jabber about Paris in the pages of recent indie bestsellers, I got to thinking about Philly and how it rarely gets top billing as the star of those kind of Eat, Pray, Love type books—as the romantic city so steeped in literary history and gastronomic inspiration that it can shake a life to its foundations and EFFECT GREAT CHANGE. It more often has a supporting role as the backdrop of a gritty crime drama. But here are five books where Philly and its neighborhoods get the star treatment, where like the New York City of Sex and the City, it gets to play the all important “fifth lady” in a stellar ensemble cast.

Tumbling by Diane McKinney-Whetstone (Harper Perennial, $13.99)
“The black predawn air was filled with movement. Its thin coolness rushed through the streets of South Philly, encircling the tight, sturdy row houses.”

Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos (Plume, $14.00)
“…Mr. Fringer inclined his head to shoot a look over the tops of his glasses at us. His shop was not one of the truly elegant ones on Pine Street, no mint-condition eighteenth-century writing table posing tiptoe like a ballerina in his window. No mint-condition anything. But a good shop—my favorite.”

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (Picador, $16.00)
“Here in the heart of Chestnut Hill, needless to say, the sheet-metal currency of Neverest and Western Civil Defense and ProPhilaTex signs in every front yard was backed by the full faith and credit of floodlights and retinal scanners…but elsewhere in northwest Philly, down through Mount Airy into Germantown and Nicetown where the sociopaths had their dealings and dwellings, there existed a class of bleeding-heart homeowners who hated what it might say about their “values” to buy their own security systems…”

In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner (Washington Square Press, $15.00)
“The sum total of her big-screen experience might be the three seconds that a sliver of her left hip was visible in Will Smith’s second-to-last video. And she might be just barely bumping along, while some people, namely her sister, Rose, went whizzing through Ivy League colleges and straight into law schools, then into law firms and luxury apartments in Rittenhouse Square like they’d been shot down the water slide of life…”

If Sons, Then Heirs by Lorene Cary (Atria Books, $24.00)
“Jewell Thompson nosed her sedan into the narrow Philadelphia street… Outside her noisy mind, rows of identical two-story brick houses squatted beside Cobbs Creek Park, muffled by heavy fog and a cold, early-spring, early-Sunday-morning quiet.”

August 2011, Erica David