Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

Leo Mark's first encounter with Vera preceded his entry into SOE. As chief cryptographer, he dabbled in psychology and wrote one move script so grim that it was banned by censors. He would ask each girl who wanted to work on codes, “Do you do crosswords?” If they did, they were in. Leo’s explanations came later. He was the Jewish genius who invented a safer option to SOE’s old coding system. He produced one-time coding pads of finest silk, inserted in the lining of an agent’s clothes. Random numbers were printed on the silk; each line of numbers was used for coding one message only, and wa then cut off. If the Gestapo closed in, the silk vanished at the touch of a match. He silks gave an agent the chance to live a little longer, rather than swallow a cyanide pill to cheat the tortures. Later, Vera said that the agents worked “between silk and cyanide.”

Spymistress: The Life of Vera Atkins, The Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II by William Stevenson, page 150.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Book Review: Twice a Spy

Twice A Spy picks up two weeks after Once A Spy left off, with Charlie, Alice, and Drummond hiding from the Calvary (the super secret, off-the-books, black op group hunting them) in Switzerland. Alice spends the time trying to clear their names, while Drummond undergoes experimental treatment for his early onset Alzheimer's. Charlie, well, he's doing what he does best: dry, witty humor.

Things don't stay this peaceful for very long though; Alice is renditioned (kidnapped) by a group of men in black, and Charlie is told that if he doesn't trade one of Drummond's hidden ADMs, well, they're going to see just how many pieces Alice can be carved into. Starting with her face.

With that image in mind, Charlie and Drummond set off to Martinique, where Drummond has a hidden ADM. Maybe. Somewhere. Finding the ADM is only part of the problem though, as they also have to deal with a host of other problems, including the Calvary, the CIA, mercenaries, Drummond's not-always-there-ness, and being thrown into prison, to name but a few.

Thomson has once again written a clever spy novel, while turning the genre on its head by featuring a spy who can't always remember that he used to be a spy (but always knows how to hot wire a car), a brilliant, but clueless guy who thinks in betting analogies, and a Shaoliln kung fu master who is trying to keep them all alive. This is a great book for anyone who likes spy novels, dry humor, and excellent writing.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

You have no idea how much I'm enjoying this book.

"Drummond took two quick steps, wound back and threw something, some sort of shimmering white disk, too fast for Charlie to track.

The object struck the real estate man in the hip, then dropped to the deck with a clink.

A clamshell.

Glancing down, DeSoto smirked. "That's all you got?"

His smirk faded when, with one more step, Drummond launched himself into the air. He effectively flew, feetfirst, at Desoto."

From Twice a Spy, the sequel to Once a Spy by Keith Thomson, page 143.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

"Nothing but concern for Elizabeth could enable Bingley to keep his countenance. His sister was less delicate, and directed her eye towards Mr. Darcy with a very expressive smile. Elizabeth, for the sake of saying something that might turn her mother's thoughts, now asked her if Charlotte Lucas had been at Longbourn since her coming away."

Pride and Prejudice, page 43 (or so my Sony eReader says)

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

(Never mind the three month gap in posts)

"Luther just swung his guitar around in an arc, sneering down at everyone in the audience. Then he went straight into 'Common People,' not caring that it was supposed to have a synthesizer or that it was about thirty years old and most of the kids in the Starlight had never even heard of Pulp."

The Replacements by Brenna Yovanoff, page 99 (on my Sony Reader).

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

From The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide, page 711.

Black, roaring silences swam sickeningly through his shattered mind. He knew with a kind of resigned certainty that he would survive, because he had not yet been to Stavromula Beta.

I'm so close to being done with this series and I can't wait to find out how it ends.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

E-books continue to impact the publishing world

Four posts/articles of interest:

Authors Feel Pinch in Age of E-Books from the Wall Street Journal. 

The Acquisition Editor via The Newbie's Guide to Publishing. Interesting "conversation" from the viewpoint of an author.

Two E-Books Cost More Than Amazon Hardcovers from The New York Times.

Special guest post by Neesha Meminger at The Rejectionist, on self-publishing and e-book publishing versus traditional publishing.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Interview with Emma Donoghue, author of "Room"

Nice review of Emma Donoghue's Room over at The New York Times. I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this book at BEA and just fell head-over-heels in love with it. Just a fantastic story (and great cover art*, which was why I picked it up in the first place) and in my opinion it really deserves all of the attention it's been getting lately (reviews at Bookish NYC and Reading Matters, and it was shortlisted for the Man Booker 2010).

*my copy of Room has a white cover, with "Room" written in different colors, like a five-year-old would.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Links of interest

The 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style went on sale September 3rd. I wonder how different it is from the 15th edition that I'm using.

English-speaking readers aren't just looking for new Swedish noir novels to read. "...there is a growing demand for new translations of European fiction and nonfiction from the years leading up to and including World War II." 

Brooklyn is going to be inundated with book lovers this weekend. The Brooklyn Book Festival kicks off on Friday night with multiple events, including one I'd like to attend at Greenlight Bookstore. Saturday has a literary pub crawl, aptly named Lit Crawl--note, this is actually not in Brooklyn--and then Sunday is the actual book festival, where there is seemingly an event every hour I want to attend. 

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

September is actually off to a good start

It's only the 8th and I've already read five titles. If this keeps up (and it's highly unlikely), this might be my best month yet.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Monthly Update

Sometimes I wonder why I keep trying to meet my self-imposed, impossible goal of reading 178 books this year. And yet, I keep trying.

In August I read seven books. Of those seven books, two were nonfiction--of which one was military nonfiction). The remaining five were fantasy, and two of them young adult novels.

Books read in 2010: 69
Books that should have been read in 2010: 112
Time I have to catch up: four very short months

Once upon my dystopian summer

Leila has posted an amazing looking list over at her blog of ya dystopian books to read post-Mockingjay. Reading through it, I found that I haven't read most of these books, much less heard of them. The rock I've been spending my "free" time under had been particularly solid lately.

As I picked up Mockingjay at the NYPL this afternoon, I'll have to hold off new books until after I've had a chance to find out how this trilogy ends. (Will Katniss become the figurehead of District 13? Does President Snow really drink the blood of babies? Does Peeta survive? Will the drinking game--via Forever Young Adult--enhance the book or just ensure that I'm dehydrated?) I'm not going to let myself read it until the weekend, which will hopefully be nice and sunny (Hurricane Earl, if you're listening, please go away by Saturday night) so I can sit outside and enjoy the end of my summer.

*Update: I picked up Girl in the Arena last night at B&N. It was interesting...not quite what I expected though. Review to come.

And the Twilight saga continues

Because Bella and Edward can't just go away or anything...

Cleolinda has horrifying news, which I found via bookshelves of doom:

So the tale of Nahuel is left on this really weird note, right before Bella and Edward run off to go have sex again unto forever, the end, with this half-vampire kid staring at the female Cullen-Swans. And now, today, we discover that BOTH HALF-VAMPIRE KIDS HAVE SEA MONSTER NAMES. How totally made for each other are these two? He's grown to full teenage maturity, she will grow to full teenage maturity, he never made out with her mom, it's perfect. Except that, no, Jacob has already imprinted on Renesmee, and, as Jacob explained all the way back in New Moon, everyone who gets imprinted on pretty much imprints back because "it's hard to resist that kind of love and devotion." (Yes, I can quote that direct, specific line from memory. That kind of bullshit gets burnt into your brain.) So we have what would be, in any other book, a blatant setup for a future relationship ("he'll have some competition"). Even at the time I gave it the side-eye, it stuck out so weirdly. Do you see what this means? Do you? IT DIDN'T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY, YOU GUYS. SHE HAD A PERFECT MATCHING HALF-VAMPIRE SEA-MONSTER LOVE INTEREST FOR RENESMEE! IT ACTUALLY MAKES SENSE! IT'S RIGHT THERE! But instead, ~Nessie~ is stuck whether she likes it or not--she doesn't have a choice to like it or not because SHE'S THREE MINUTES OLD--with her mother's ex-boyfriend who delivered her from Bella's bloody mangled body and nearly threw her out the window but instead imprinted on her irrevocably as his soulmate.

I just don't even know what to say.

PS: Apparently, there is this rumor that Meyers might write a fifth book? I don't know how I could have missed this before, except that my hearing must have shut down to preserve my sanity. If so, thank you, hearing!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Recent bits of interest

Booksellers Brace for Mockingjay Landing
, via the NYT. I'm waiting for a copy via my local library, which means I won't get to read this for at least a month.
eta: wrong, self, so wrong. I'm reading it this weekend.

E-Books Make Readers Less Isolated, via the NYT. Having strangers talk to me while I'm reading is something that really irritates me.

The ABC's of E-Reading , via the WSJ. I do have to say that I'm finding myself slightly tempted to get an e-reader these days; my trains have been absolutely packed lately and it's hard to juggle my bag(s), a book, and hold on to something.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The world of publishing

Just gets more interesting every day. E-books are completely revolutionizing the publishing industry, and not just in the way books are produced. I'm not surprised at all that Wylie Agency wants to handle the e-book side of their titles exclusively; e-books are only becoming more popular (although I still don't believe Amazon's figures) and the market is huge. I am slightly surprised by Random House's reaction though. Refusing to do any future business with the Wylie Agency seems slightly drastic.

Reading in verse

Recently, a few coworkers and I have started sharing books that we find interesting. It's worked out surprisingly well so far; we each have a chance to read something new and it doesn't cost us anything. While I've been loaning out the ARCs I picked up at BEA, my coworker loaned me Dante's The Divine Comedy, part 1: Hell. I'd never read it, despite always saying that I would, so when I saw that she was nearly done with it, I asked to borrow it.

I'd forgotten what a chore it can be to read verse. It's so much work! The best way, I found, was to read it like I was going to be reading it aloud, pausing only where there was a punctuation mark. That helped, and I found it much easier reading. (Note: that still doesn't mean it was easy reading. I think I understood maybe half of that whole story, even with the notes and illustrations at the end of each canto.) I'm hoping Part 2: Purgatory will be slightly easier reading. I know it'll be less depressing.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I've never before heard of an externship, although I think it's a great idea, especially for nontraditional jobs that don't end at 5 p.m. every day. Via The New York Times.

Side note: Carleton College is the college that Pamela Dean based her fictional college, Blackstock College, on in Tam Lin.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More e-books sold than hardcovers?

Yeah, I don't know that I really believe that. I usually see one ereader device in the morning, but I see ten books to that one device.

via The New York Times

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Adding to the TBR list...

The rest of the Fairy Tale Series, edited by Terri Windling. I've read Pamela Dean's Tam Lin numerous times, including again this summer, so maybe it's time I branched out and read the other books in this series.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I would love to go to Sebastian Junger's talk tomorrow about his book War at the Bryant Park Reading Room. Except it's at 12:30 and there's no way I can duck out of work for two plus hours without my boss noticing.

Book Trailers

So, am I the only person who doesn't like book trailers, much less watch them? I honestly don't see the point of them.

The Author Takes a Star Turn, via NYT

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Monthly Update x 2

So I never got around to actually posting my May or June reads. Clearly, I'm failing as a blogger this year. It could be worse though, I could be failing as a reader. Oh wait..

In May, I read six books.Of the six books, only one was nonfiction, and it was something of a travel memoir.
In June, I read nine books. Of the nine books, five were books I picked up at BEA, one was a military nonfiction, and the other three were fiction.

Books read in 2010: 59
Books that should have been read in 2010: 84
Time I have to catch up: less than six months

Friday, July 09, 2010

Top 100 Science Fiction Novels according to Sci-Fi Lists

Well, according to this list, I am not a well-read science fiction fan as I've only read fourteen of the hundred listed titles. And even if I crossed off the two books I started and hated (The Handmaiden's Tale and A Canticle for Leibowitz), my stats aren't much better.

Guess I know what I'm doing for the rest of the summer. You know, when I'm not rereading the Harry Potter series (WHICH ENDS JULY 31ST, SELF!), the military nonfiction titles I have stacked on the floor, or the YA books I keep requesting from the library.

So yeah, I'm sure I'll make it to fifteen out of ninety-eight in no time at all.