Booking Through Thursday: Current Events

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What are you reading right now? (And, is it good? Would you recommend it? How did you choose it?)

I just finished Bitchfest, which I loved, and now I’m onto Ronlyn Domingue’s The Mapmaker’s War. I’m not sure if it’s good or if I would recommend it yet—I’m only twenty pages in! I do need to step up my reading this weekend, so I’ll hopefully finish it then. Over the past few months, I’ve been getting more e-mails about receiving books for review; I’m not sure why, but I think it dates back to my review of The Song of the Vikings. I’m usually extremely cautious and decline most of them—I don’t want to waste anyone’s time and resources if I think that a book and I aren’t going to get on. In fact, most of my review copies come from NetGalley, because it’s a lot easier to select the stuff you think you might be interested in. (If only NetGalley accurately reflected the release date for books!) Plus, I have hundreds of library books to get to that I am one-hundred percent interested in. But, every once in a while, I do accept one. The Mapmaker’s War is fantasy, but it’s also written in the second person, a style I personally dislike, but the advance praise convinced me to give it a shot. Of course, the advance praise also includes a blurb from Deborah Harkness, so that could go either way.

The Sunday Salon: Vampires, Love, and Salvation

So mermaids are apparently the supernatural creature du jour in the world of young adult fiction, according to io9. Posts like this always make me raise my eyebrows a bit; over the past few years, I’ve been hearing that angels and, perhaps more alarmingly, zombies are the new hotness, but from where I’m standing, such new trends really haven’t made a dent in pop culture. Twilight, at least until the last film comes out, still reigns supreme (have y’all seen Lee Pace’s hostage face on his character poster? It’s something to behold), True Blood still holds thrall, and The Vampire Diaries is quite popular. Of course, there’s always been something sexual about vampires, especially since Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, but the recent rise of the vampire in pop culture has forgotten something crucial to the vampire mythology: eternal damnation. Or so I thought until recently.

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BBAW 2011: Community

Wow. Just like last year, Book Blogger Appreciation Week blindsides me (I did this last week, while shaking my head at the fact A Discovery of Witches made it onto a short list for anything. A Discovery of Witches, people! I thought we were better than that) and rescues me from the last few reviews in the buffer I built up over the summer. I’m getting the feeling that this is going to be an annual thing… anyway, this year’s Book Blogger Appreciation Week is focused on the community of book blogging, so let’s get started.

While the awards are a fun part of BBAW, they can never accurately represent the depth and breadth of diversity in the book blogging community. Today you are encouraged to highlight a couple of bloggers that have made book blogging a unique experience for you. They can be your mentors, a blogger that encouraged you to try a different kind of book, opened your eyes to a new issue, made you laugh when you needed it, or left the first comment you ever got on your blog. Stay positive and give back to the people who make the community work for you!

Oh, man, you can imagine what fear a question like this strikes into the heart of me. I’m pretty ruthless when it comes to organization, including book blogs I follow—you see that blog roll over there? Those are blogs I’m excited to read every morning. But because of that, I feel like I can’t have a list without leaving off someone I really, really do like! But there is a compromise, and it’s featuring one book blogger, because the implication is that next year I’ll feature someone else I love to pieces, which I will! I get to focus on one person and give them all the attention they deserve. See? It’s a win-win scenario.

So this year, I’m featuring Fyrefly’s Book Blog, which was one of the first blogs I followed back in the day and remains a delight to read. (Two years ago. Man, that feels like forever ago!)

Simplicity is a huge thing for me, and simple is a great way to describe Nicki’s particular neck of the woods. The layout is straight-forward and soothing, she only does memes she cares about, and it’s easy to navigate. (You’d think this would be the least I could ask of a book blog, but you’d be surprised.) This places the focus on her content, and that’s where Nicki shines.

Like me, Nicki is an enormously eclectic reader—unlike me, she is also a biologist. Most of the bloggers I follow in the book blogosphere are writers, librarians (or aspiring librarians), or working in the publishing industry. You know, humanities people. Nicki’s background as a biologist gives her writing and general outlook on books a different flare; when reading popular science books, she’s happy to point out the holes in their thinking (if they’ve any, of course) with the authority invested in her as a scientist. It’s great to see someone take that knowledge to everything, not just nonfiction.

She’s also remarkably adept at making things both succinct and deep. I usually don’t care for short reviews; I make sure my own run between seven hundred and a thousand words, because I feel that’s enough to cover what I want to cover without boring the reader. But Nicki starts off every review with a haiku—often hilarious—and covers a lot of ground in short order. Not that she can’t also write a fabulous long review. She makes reread reviews into something beyond just another review by revisiting her original review and seeing how the two reading experiences differ, such as her reread of A Song of Ice and Fire.

On top of everything else, she ends every year with a fancy spreadsheet full of statistics about her reading for the year, which I think is just fantastic. And she’s also the creator of the Book Blogger Search Engine, which makes it easy for anyone to find book blogger reviews of books and, personally, makes writing my Literary Horizon posts every week much, much easier.

In short, go follow her blog now.

Review: A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

For some reason, I was really excited about A Discovery of Witches. You see, The Historian is one of my literary nemesises—a bloated, poorly structured, and cripplingly slow piece of work that barely deigns to interact with the vampires that are its main selling point. So, in A Discovery of Witches, another long novel that focuses on its heroine discovering a book and a world she never knew (well, in this case, wanted to face), I hoped to find some sort of redemption or at least revenge for The Historian. I even quieted my concerns when I saw a blurb from Danielle Trussoni, author of Angelology (while not as bad as The Historian, it’s not exactly worth a read), on the back cover. Surely, I thought, her own writing has nothing to do with the fact that she apparently found it gripping from page one, right?.

…guys, now I’m really worried The Book of Fires is going to suck because Jane Borodale wrote a blurb for this.

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