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Posts Tagged ‘books’

august internet hiatus & magicians

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

I am taking the entire month of August off from the internet. 

What this means: no blog posts, no twitter unless important information sharing, no tumblr. I am shutting off the wifi connection on my laptop from tomorrow until Sept 1st. (I spend 90% of my computer time on the laptop.)

I will be checking my personal email periodically.

I will still be Instagramming because Instagram lives in my phone.

I hope you all have a lovely month.

***

On Tuesday August 5th two very cool things happen:

1. The Magician’s Land is finally released, hurrah!

2. There will be this magical event in Brooklyn. I will be there. I don’t know what I’ll be doing, that’s pretty much up to Lev. It will probably involve talking of some sort. I don’t know if there’s an official non-Lev signing for anyone but I will bring a pen and I will happily sign things if asked.

At the moment it is my only scheduled appearance this year which I am doing because Lev asked me to and because I really loved this book.

Here’s the official Morgensternian blurb:

Lev Grossman has conjured a rare creature: a trilogy that simply gets better and better as it goes along. The Magician’s Land is sumptuous and surprising yet deliciously familiar, a glass of rich red wine left out for a hungry ghost. Literary perfection for those of us who grew up testing the structural integrity of the backs of wardrobes.

Here is the author-studded crowd-sourced book trailer:


And here is an extra bonus outtake from when I recorded my section back in April. Filmed in Toronto. There are puppies. Also this is when I realized I needed to cut my hair. I miss my jacket, it’s too hot now.

ill. boo.

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

So I managed to go the whole winter without getting sick and now I’ve spent the last two days in bed.

I’m better today than yesterday or Monday but still coughing like it’s my job so I’m mostly all about tea and reading and watching comfort movies like Wreck-It Ralph.

And today was a good book mail day.

supernatural enhancements

The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero. I’ve heard a bit about it and it sounds super intriguing and I am in love with this cover. Also it goes well with my mug and my floor. Advance copy, comes out properly in August according to the informative spine.

Now I am going to read. Or nap. Or drink more tea. Or some combination thereof.

the enchanted

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

I have been waiting & waiting for this day. I read a manuscript of The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld last year and loved it so much I wanted to push it on people immediately but I had to be patient because it wasn’t coming out until March 4th, 2014 and hurrah! That day is finally here.

the enchanted

 

This is an exquisitely written, deep, dark book with a marvelous buoyancy that somehow keeps it from being too heavy which is particularly impressive considering it’s set on death row. The closest thing I can think to compare it to is The Shawshank Redemption, but truly I’ve never read anything like it.

And the finished book is just beautiful, with golden horses.

enchanted

Here’s my complete quote:

“The Enchanted wrapped its beautiful and terrible fingers around me from the first page and refused to let go after the last. A wondrous book that finds transcendence in the most unlikely of places, enshrouding horrible things in a gossamer veil of fantasy with a truly unforgettable narrator. So dark yet so exquisite.”

miscellany for mid-january in a short, unnumbered list

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

  • I read Stoner by John Williams over the weekend. I was gifted it over the holidays and it is exquisite. Such a lovely, lovely book.
  • I also got this Giada cookbook for the holidays and while I haven’t tried any of the proper recipes in it yet I have become mildly obsessed with putting olive oil and sea salt on my oatmeal.
  • I have to have my wisdom teeth removed at the end of the month but apparently I only have three of them so that’s… something, I guess? I will be making lots of soup beforehand.
  • My new-to-me, on-heavy-rotation January music includes Le Loup and Austra.
  • I am currently out of yerba mate and so my morning tea routine is all confusing and not routine. I have more mate on order. Today’s tea was guayusa with coconut sugar.
  • Considering I have started and erased this last unnumbered thing four times because I felt ending on tea just didn’t have a proper sense of completion, I’m going to stop typing and just post this now.

2013 favorites: books

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

2013 favorite books

Favorite Books Read in 2013

In order, as pictured, from left to right and going down the typewriter-sitting pile:

NOS4A2 – Joe Hill.  I believe my Twitter-length review was “made me fear Christmas and children more than I did already” but the tiny pointed teeth only scratch the surface of this epic ride of a novel. I can’t remember the last time I read something that took supernatural elements and wove them into the real world so masterfully and believably. Also, perfect holiday gift.

The Rathbones – Janice Clarke. Has my name on the cover for good reason, I adored this book to little pieces. Myth wrapped in sea shanty and family history, so beautifully told. I cannot wait to see what Janice does next, though of course I am going to be incredibly patient.

Life After Life – Kate Atkinson. I went on a Kate Atkinson bender last year so I was very much looking forward to this one and it didn’t disappoint. It also didn’t hurt that I read it in February surrounded by snow while housesitting for my parents, perfect mood for it. If you haven’t read it yet, winter would be a great time to dive in.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman. If I had a book to define my year it would be this one. Which I read early because Twitter is Magic and that of course led to more magic things. But beyond that, this lovely little book made me want to write again, in that magical way that I haven’t been feeling enough lately, and I got to thank Neil Gaiman for that personally.

Sailor Twain, or The Mermaid in the Hudson – Mark Siegel. I’d seen this on many of last year’s best books lists and I was curious but I still didn’t expect it to be as surprising and wonderful as it is. Beautiful art, beautiful story. I’ve been using it as a gateway drug for anyone who tells me they’ve never read a graphic novel.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan. Had you told me at the outset that this book would make me cry I would not have believed you but it snuck up on me at the end. I have a thing for endings, and while this book was fantastic fun the whole way through the very last pages are perfection. Also it glows in the dark.

Hyperbole and a Half – Allie Brosh. I have said it before, I will say it again: I am grateful to live in a world that has Allie Brosh in it. I’ve been a fan of her blog for years and her posts on depression (I & II) are brilliant and funny and wonderfully real. I am grateful to have her words and pictures in book form to live on my shelf so I can re-read them over and over even without electricity or batteries.

Jim Henson: The Biography – Brian Jay Jones. I don’t really read biographies. I’ve read a few for research but that’s about it. I picked this up on a whim and then couldn’t put it down. It reminded me how much I grew up on all things Henson and Muppets and how much of an influence on my creative self he was and how I forget that sometimes because it’s so deeply engrained. I don’t remember a time pre-Muppets. I’m pretty sure The Great Muppet Caper was the first movie I saw in the theatre and I made my dad stay through the credits so we were the only ones left when Gonzo takes a photo of the audience. This biography is wonderful and engaging and a fantastic peek behind the curtain.

Y: The Last Man – Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra.  We went to Midtown Comics and started chatting with one of the booksellers (comicsellers? gurus?) who after he found out our tastes went on about all things Brian K. Vaughan. I got one volume of Y and then immediately had to read the rest of it. It’s epic and smart and surprising. I read a lot more Vaughan this  year but this one was my favorite, though I’m excited to see where Saga goes in the future. (Related: if anyone can tell me where I can find volume 4 of the deluxe editions of Ex Machina I’d appreciate it, I have all the others & I still don’t really understand why 4 is the elusive one.)

 

And a special bonus non-pictured tease because it was easily one of the very best things I’ve read this year, and possibly ever:

The Enchanted – Rene Denfeld. Not out until March 2014, but oh, this book. It is exquisite. I won’t tell you too much since it’s not available yet but I read it months ago in manuscript form and I’m so glad it has a perfect cover and I cannot wait to tweet and shout and spread the word about it. It’s extraordinary, truly.

 

So those are the favorites of the year for 2013. I had an off-kilter reading year, got a lot of things read in the first half of the year and then fell off the reading wagon a bit. (December was eaten by The Goldfinch. Still not done with it yet.) But it was a year full of wonderful books and surprises and I hope next year will bring even more.

double book birthday!

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

It is finally August 6th! I have been waiting for this day for so long because two of the best books I’ve read in the past year are out today, hurrah! Double book birthday!

(This is one of the frustrating aspects of getting advanced copies of things, waiting so long to be able to share fabulous new book discoveries.)

First, SAVE YOURSELF by the wonderful Kelly Braffet.

save yourselfI never know how to describe this book which I personally think of as an excellent quality in a novel. I’ve seen it called a thriller but it’s the kind of thriller that occurs in your backyard, in your neighborhood, at your convenience store. Where things have gone wrong before and will go wrong again and all you can do is keep turning the pages. One of those extraordinary books where the characters feel like living, breathing people. Dark and bleak yet so compelling. You know that feeling when you’re reading and you’re scared about what might happen but you have to find out and you feel all conflicted and nervous and it’s just delicious? That feeling. A lot.

This is the first novel of Kelly’s that I’ve read and I’m very much looking forward to reading her previous books. (Kelly is also featured in this fabulous NYT Magazine article about the absurdly talented King family.)

And sharing the auspicious August 6th book birthday, THE RATHBONES by Janice Clark.

rathbonesMy name is on the cover there so I think it’s probably obvious that I loved this one, but here’s the whole quote:

“Part odyssey, part ancestral mystery and part sea shanty, all brilliantly entwined and soaked in Greek myth. Mercy’s journey over sea and shore and through extraordinary family history is a remarkable tale, both epic and intimate. The Rathbones itself feels as though it was loom-woven or carved in whalebone. Beautifully crafted and elegantly told. A siren song of a story.”

I was super nervous when I picked this up because it seemed like it could have gone amiss with the layering of the Odyssey with whales and New England but it steers itself through this beautiful inbetween of reality and myth. It’s Janice’s debut novel and I cannot wait for her next one but I will be patient because I’m not one to talk on such a subject.

Go forth! Buy books! Read on beaches with sand between your toes or lounged upon backyard grass or couch curled or wherever your reading spot of preference is! It’s only August, still plenty of summer reading time.

post-ocean blue dress gratitude

Monday, June 24th, 2013

Last week I got to wear a blue (blue! not black!) dress and interview Neil Gaiman and talk about The Ocean at the End of the Lane and admit in front of hundreds of people that I’ve never seen Doctor Who.

(I know. I’m sorry.)

I had planned on doing some sort of post-event blog post but then afterwards I really wasn’t sure what to say.

I had a lot of fun and though I was supremely nervous it went really well and everyone including Neil seemed very pleased with everything. He’s remarkably easy to interview considering he kept answering questions before I even asked them. Perhaps he’s clairvoyant. I met him for the very first time about an hour before we were on stage so the whole thing felt remarkably surreal.

There is an excellent writeup of the evening over on Tor.com (though I think a few of the quotes about whether or not we die may be misattributed).

I had many more questions than we had time for, though my main goal was to talk about things that maybe weren’t being talked about at every single stop on his tour, and we got tiny frogs in teacups and BPAL and Mythic Boy Jesus so I’d call that a win.

One of the last audience questions posed to Neil was “Who is your favourite living writer?” and of course it was a longer list than just one, and included a few recently no longer living writers as well, like Iain Banks and Diana Wynne Jones.

And I thought in that moment how incredibly lucky I was to be sitting there, when I will never get the opportunity to meet the other gigantic influence on my writer-brain I mentioned in my babbling introduction, the incomparable Douglas Adams.

There is a sentiment I am concerned got a bit lost in that babbling during that introduction (I was nervous), which is this:

I would not be the writer I am today without Neil Gaiman.

I’m not sure I would even be a writer at all without him.

I discovered his work at the perfect time for my developing story-brain and I am eternally grateful for that.

I’m not sure the gratitude got properly expressed then, so here’s an extra Thank You, Neil for good measure:

Thank you, Neil.

For your work and for asking me to do this event and for being a real live lovely person.

(Also I am sorry that I inadvertently stole the title of that Batman thing, but The Night Circus is indeed a really good title.)

Erin & Neil

twitter-sourced blog post the first

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

I wasn’t sure what to blog about today and for the sake of experimentation, I asked Twitter.

Twitter gave me lots of suggestions, so I am going to try to address as many of them as I can, likely over 3 or so posts. This is the first one. (I’ve broken out all the circus/new book stuff to talk about together.) I will get to the rest of them soon(ish).

So, here we go:

 

Pizza.

So this sad thing happened about three years ago or so. I read an article about gluten allergies and on a whim decided to avoid it for two weeks and in that two weeks I lost over five pounds and felt way better than usual so I decided maybe I should continue avoiding.

But of course that makes all the wonderful delicious gluten-filled foodstuffs difficult. Luckily gluten-free seems to be quite trendy at the moment but proper pizza is still difficult. There was a restaurant in Boston I used to get rather good gluten-free pizza from (Nebo, for the curious, the zucchini one is my favorite), haven’t found one in NYC yet. I did find good frozen gluten-free “pizza crusts”  that are questionable if you go classic red sauce on but really good if treated more like flatbread. I do pear/goat cheese/honey things or bbq chicken or fig and prosciutto.

My favorite regular pizza topping is pineapple, though.

 

Any tips for Camp NaNoWriMo?

I think my Camp NaNo tips are likely the same as my regular November NaNo tips except possibly with more iced beverages. Don’t re-read. If you want to delete something turn the font color to white instead and keep going. Always meet your daily wordcount minimum. Get a head start if you can. Remember you can go back and make things better afterwards. Surprise yourself.

My official NaNoWriMo pep talk is over here.

 

Won’t this be your first summer living in NYC? I’d like to hear what excites you most about it! (I’m moving here in July)

Hurrah, I hope your move goes smoothly! It is my first NYC summer, indeed. So far it seems more exciting than winter in NYC (which was about hibernating) and spring in NYC (which was rainy). I have already read in Central Park on a blanket in a shady spot on a hot day, which reminds me a bit of being at an oceanless green beach. I am also completely enamored of all the fantastic outdoor dining/drinking spots. Right now my two favorite rooftops are Gallow Green and the rooftop at pod39.

In general, the things that excite me most about NYC are food or drink related. Also parks.

 

I think the witch in Hansel&Gretel inherited her tasty house and only hates kids b/c they’re always destroying it. Thoughts?

I have always thought those kids were terribly rude for eating someone’s house without so much as asking first. Makes me wonder if they’d just knocked on the door and said “Hello, we are lost and scared and hungry” would they have been given a proper balanced meal and everything would have been happy ever after. This makes me want some sort of re-imagining where Hansel & Gretel are polite and the witch adopts them and they become little fledgling cannibals.

 

blog about the first piece of creative writing you ever did

This is likely proof that I never set out to be a writer: I can’t really remember. I vaguely recall writing crayon stories when I was very small though they weren’t very long and I doubt they had plots. I do remember writing a short story when I was maybe 12 or 13 for a creative writing class at arts camp that was a re-telling of the Frog Prince where the frog just sang Village People songs and said snarky things and then stayed a frog at the end.

 

An anecdote about your favorite book growing up. Or a bookstore you remember or a library.  &

I second the favourite book growing up suggestion. Or favourite NYC bookstores. Any new discoveries?

I had a lot of favorite books growing up. The ones I really remember vividly are Mail-Order Wings by Beatrice Gormley (the girl in the book orders wings from an ad in the back of a comic book, and the comic itself is a version of The Metamorphosis, so I had my first exposure to Kafka when I was about 8 years old) and The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. That’s the one that probably ensnared my imagination the most. I used to build Egyptian temples in the woods behind my house, with sticks and rocks and feathers and things. This is how I know I am not allergic to poison ivy.

My closest library when I was little was this one:

 photo from http://www.townofmarshfield.org

The Clift Rodgers Library in Marshfield, Massachusetts. (I’m not sure I ever realized when I was young that it was Clift and not Cliff.) It’s a tiny little space in a beautiful old white house that has been a library since, I believe, 1897. Upstairs is a consignment shop, so I still associate libraries with old things and mysterious treasures.

My favorite NYC bookstore so far, despite the fact that it intimidates me, is probably The Strand. So many books! I get book shopping anxiety there but sometimes it’s worth it. My favorite new discovery is Kinokuniya near Bryant Park, it has books in English as well as Japanese and lots of other delightful things. I’ve been very tempted to get the new Murakami even though I can’t read it.

 

That’s it for part one! Thank you for the topics! Parts two & three forthcoming.

miscellaneous post of miscellany with fluffy cows

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

This post has no rhyme or reason unless accidental rhymes sneak in and also there’s a cow at the end. But I had a lot of things to post so I figured I would put them all in one post and they can keep each other company.

Firstly and likely most importantly, the high-pitched noise of utter delight you may have heard resonating around the internet yesterday was me being asked to interview/converse with Neil Gaiman for his upcoming NYC event at Symphony Space for The Ocean at the End of the Lane (which I loved) on June 19th. I am honored and elated and a little bit nervous, but I have two weeks to calm down. I will post more information when I have it. The event is already sold out. My apologies.

(Since I’ve been asked, I will absolutely hang out while Neil is signing All The Things and I will have a pen in case anyone wants something circusy signed, and they might have copies of the circus for sale, I’ll let you know. But I am primarily there to be a fangirl. I mean an interviewer.)

ocean1

Other things!

I saw this video floating around the internet before today and I didn’t click it at first because I am the last person in the world who hasn’t read any John Green (though I know who he is and I’ve been meaning to!) and I don’t follow him on Twitter or Tumblr but after seeing it linked & re-posted by people I know and read and admire, I clicked.

 


I love this so much I’m not sure if I can explain it. So many of my own feelings about books and publishing in one lovely, impassioned speech with emphatic swearing and I am going to go buy myself some John Green books from bookstores with booksellers now.

Speaking of books and not reading them: Game of Thrones. No spoilers, I promise. But it seems a good time to mention that I watch the HBO show even though I haven’t read George R. R. Martin’s books. While I am normally a supporter of reading books before watching adaptations in this particular case I’m actually glad I haven’t read them because I’m enjoying the story in the show more not knowing what’s going to happen. I like to be surprised. I may be one of the only viewers who rather liked the unexpectedness in the last episode, and also thought it made sense within the narrative. I could probably write an entire spoiler-filled post about it, but I’m supposed to be writing a novel myself.

And finally: fluffy cows. FLUFFY COWS. It delights me that they exist. I want to write them into something but I don’t know what. Maybe if I ever get back to that fairy tale thing.

fluffy cow

More about the cows over here on Laughing Squid. Photo via Lautner Farms.

sea & salt & submersion

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

So last week the power of Twitter manifested Neil Gaiman’s upcoming The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

I said this:

 

Truthfully I thought maybe someone at his publisher would have a spare ARC, and if I were lucky I’d get one in a few weeks.

Before the end of the day I’d played Twitter tag with publishing types in both the US and the UK and then one lovely person led to another and then the name “Neil Gaiman” turned up in my email inbox, so a couple of days later I had these:

ocean

Top one is the US version (I love that cover) and the hardcover beneath it is a special edition proof from the UK. They are both beautiful and they are being treasured and petted and read.

I am a very, very lucky girl and I didn’t have to make out with anyone, but if any of the lovely people who led to this want to take me up on that, that’s totally cool.

I curled up with it over the weekend and I wasn’t sure what to expect because I knew nothing about it. Read it in one sitting and loved it. As I said on Twitter afterward, it is soaked in myth and memory and salt water and it is so, so lovely.

It feels as though it was always there, somewhere in the story-stuff of the universe, and I’m glad Neil captured it on paper so well.

And it made me want to write again.

I’ve been working, sorting through notes and drafts and the last of the cardboard boxes, but I haven’t really been doing much raw storytelling writing in that itchy to put things on paper way and this lit that spark again, which is impressive since it lit it with water.

And I got to email Neil Gaiman and thank him personally for that, which is delightful and yet more proof that Twitter is magic.

(I promise to only use the power of Twitter for good and books and not abuse it.)

So I have had oceans on the brain and then yesterday my teal chairs finally, finally arrived (they’d been held hostage in a warehouse and no one thought to call to arrange delivery until they were inquired about, several times) and they are even more gloriously teal and deco than I’d expected and I love them.

And they made me realize that my decorating concept is basically Bioshock.

I can think of worse decorating concepts than “underwater art deco city.” And I like it, it’s cozy. It’s a flavor I can work in.

bioshocky

I’d been thinking about the new novel as an air and glass sort of thing, where the circus was very much paper and fire and earth. And it has been curled up near the sea but I hadn’t thought of it as a water creature until now, and in its way it really is.

It’s very much like figuring out the soup you are cooking needs more salt. It seems too simple but it’s true.

It took oceans on the brain and teal chairs to realize it, even though I think it was there all the time.

Now that I’ve finally had the time to write I’ve been gathering up all my ideas and bits and pieces of scrawled drafts and I’ve been dipping my toes back in to get myself re-acclimated. I think I hadn’t been sure what this story was or wanted to be and over the last week I’ve had a couple of those salt water epiphany sparks and while I don’t know what it wants to be, exactly, I have a better idea.

I figured out over the last two years that while I can write little bits of things I can’t develop a whole novel-world unless I can shut everything else out and live in that world. I need that full-on imagination submersion. And for various reasons I’m only now getting to the point where I can do that.

I’m remembering how to breathe underwater so I can properly submerge myself.

I know I have something here, and I want to get it right.