Friday Finds: September 12, 2008

Is it Friday already!?  Must be time to let MizB (and others) know what’s come into my radar, and into my house this week:

Owen Matthews has written a memoir of his family called Stalin’s Children: Three Generations of Love, War and Survival.  The product description for this book calls it “A transcendent history/memoir of one family’s always passionate, sometimes tragic connection to Russia.”  Readers of my blog know how much I fancy personal memoir, I’m really looking forward to this one!  Stalin’s Children goes on sale next Tuesday, September 16.

The Tenth Case by Joseph Teller will be available October 1.  This looks like a quick well-written mystery.  I like the set-up in the synopsis:



Criminal defense attorney Harrison J. Walker, better known as Jaywalker, has just been suspended for using “creative” tactics and receiving “gratitude” in the courtroom stairwell from a client charged with prostitution. Convincing the judge that his other clients are counting on him, Jaywalker is allowed to complete ten cases. But it’s the last case that truly tests his abilities-and his acquittal record.

Samara Moss-young, petite and sexy as hell-stabbed her husband in the heart. Or so everyone believes. Having married the elderly billionaire when she was an eighteen-year-old former prostitute, Samara appears to be the clichéd gold digger. But Jaywalker knows all too well that appearances can be deceiving. Who else could have killed the billionaire? Has Samara been framed? Or is Jaywalker just driven by his need to win his clients’ cases-and this particular client’s undying gratitude?

That’s it for new books this week!  I’ve had to say “no thank you” to several offers of advance review copies of books lately.  Time to catch up on my reading and reviewing; this crisp fall weather we’re having should make it a snap to snuggle down with a good book!

  • The Kite Runner: A Portrait of the Marc Forster Film by David Benioff, Marc Forster and Khalid Hosseini
  • Publisher: Newmarket (January 30, 2008 )
  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557048042


    The Kite Runner: A Portrait of the Marc Forster Film is a movie book, based on the film of the same name, which is based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini.  Confusing?  Not really.  The best-selling novel came first, followed by an amazing film of the same name.  The movie book, reviewed here, goes hand-in-hand with the film.

    The film and movie book follow closely the story told in Hosseini’s novel, that of Amir, the privileged son of his well-off “Baba”, a Kabuli businessman, and his relationship with Hassan, the son of Baba’s servant.  Amir and Hassan spend their childhood together in Kabul in the mid-1970s; their days are spent flying kites, visiting the market, and reading under the shade of a pomegranate tree in the cemetery.  Hassan, of course, also spends his time helping own father to cook, clean, and otherwise care for Baba’s household.  Amir sometimes takes advantage of the friendship of Hassan, and in one pivotal scene we see the cost to Hassan, Amir, and both their fathers.


    The book takes us through the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1978.  We follow Amir and Baba as they grapple with the new ruling-class in their country, but we are left to wonder the outcome of life for Hassan and his father.  Fast-forward to the present day when Amir valiantly attempts to overcome his past shortcomings and to make amends to his friend.  The adult Amir knows “there is a way to be good again.”


    The Kite Runner movie book is an accurate re-telling of the film version of the novel.  The foreword by author Khaled Hosseini details the emotional journey he took watching his novel come to life on the big screen.  For the filming, Hosseini returned to Kabul, having left Afghanistan himself at age eleven.


    The section titled “The Making of The Kite Runner” discusses the processes of creating a script, scouting locations, the intricacies of casting children and adults, and overcoming language issues.  Also included are several set drawings and costume sketches.


    The bulk of the book is a complete working screenplay; including production notes such as OS (off-stage) and CONTINUOUS.  This would be of interest to anyone who would like to learn more about the behind-the-scenes happenings of a movie shoot.  The powerful dialogue makes for a gripping and fast-paced read.  When I read The Kite Runner: A Portrait of the Marc Forster Film I felt like I was viewing the movie for a second time, with the opportunity to slow down or “replay” favorite scenes; one needn’t have seen the movie, however, to enjoy this book.  Over 100 full-color photographs and movie stills capture the beauty of the scenery, the authenticity of the costuming, the emotions expressed on the faces of the actors. 


    Newmarket Press offers a series of pictorial movie books based on classic films such as Dances with Wolves, ET and Schindler’s List, as well as more recent films including The Namesake and Summer 2008’s The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.  The Kite Runner movie book was issued in paperback in 2007; the hardcover edition, with its breath-taking stills from filming in China (standing in for Afghanistan) and San Francisco, would make a great coffee-table book.

    (This review originally appeared on Curled up with a Good Book)

    This week’s Spotlight on Bookstores is written by Heather, a wife, mom, and avid reader.  She reviews a wide variety of books at her blog Age 30 – A Year of Books and also posts with her kiddo about their Mom & Son Book Club. In addition to running a fabulous in-real-life book club, Heather is a contributor to the Reading Group Guides blog.

    “Heather Johnson: Ambassador of Books, Book Club Madam, and Blogger Gal”

    I had never heard of Indie Book Stores until I started my blog.  Come to find out, Indie is just a cool way of saying “independent” … as in, not part of a huge chain store.  Aha!  How lovely.  So I did a search for Indie bookstores in my area and guess what?  There ain’t many.  Yes, there are some in Baltimore, but I don’t go into the city unless I have to (I’m just not a city girl).  Other than the city, my only choice was a town about 30 miles away

    I checked out the website for Constellation Books; I signed up for their newsletter.  Every week I get a brief update on events at the bookstore and every week I say I’m going to take a ride up there to check it out.  It seems that there is always some little event going on, with cookies, tea or wine being served.  Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

    One evening in July, my plans were suddenly cancelled.  I remembered that Constellation Books was having Irish Music that night so I grabbed kiddo (he’s 6) and we hopped in the car for a 45 minute ride to the store.

    Let me say right now that the store is lovely.  It’s in an old house so there are different rooms to check out.  Kiddo immediately plopped into the beanbag chair in the Children’s Books Room; he could reach from his spot to snag books from the bottom shelf without getting up.  I wandered through the rooms munching on the complimentary 7-layer Italian cookies and hot apple cider (my FAVORITE things!)  All the time we were serenaded by a one-man-band playing Folk and Irish Music. 

    After browsing and snacking for a while, I checked on kiddo.  He was still rooted to the same spot.  Eventually he got up and walked around, but only to request some of his favorite Irish songs and sit up next to the musician. 

    After a while we had to make decision on what books we were going to buy.  Kiddo’s decision was easy – he wanted one of the first books he’d taken off the shelf.  Together we picked out two books for his cousins; my sister had her 2nd baby the night before, so we were getting a baby book and a big brother book.  Then it was my turn, and of course I’m not easy.  I was trying to decide between non-fiction, my first venture into Steampunk (that caused some raised eyebrows.  Even the musician said “It’s not every day you hear someone ask for that!”), or a book from my TBR list.  In the end, store owner Lauretta led me to a book that didn’t fit in ANY of those categories and I chose that one.  Of course.

    I left the store with my new customer loyalty card already 1/2 way full (a full card gets you $10 off), a happy kiddo, a happy self, and a strong desire to magically move this store closer to my house.

    If you’re ever in the greater Baltimore area, stop by and say “hi” to Lauretta at Constellation Books.  Snuggle in to the big white couch in the Fiction Room, browse the Bargain Shelf, and munch on some goodies.  You’ll enjoy her store, I guarantee it!

    (Note from Dawn:  nothing says “great book shopping experience” better than cookies, cider, a happy child, a helpful bookseller, and a bag full of books – Constellation Books sounds like a great place to visit, again and again!  Readers, is there a special bookstore you’d like to see featured in the Spotlight on Bookstores series?  Contact me, using the tab above!)

    Next week is Book Blogger Appreciation Week … there are guests posts, giveaways, interviews, awards galore, etc.!

    What’s in it for the person who reads book blogs (doesn’t have one of his/her own) … PLENTY!  Where would book bloggers be without the loyal readers who contribute so much to our blogs with feedback, comments, questions?!?  This week is to honor YOU as well.

    Accordingly, the Literate Housewife has put together an amazing contest just for book blog readers.  All you have to do is submit a short (200 words or less) essay completing the sentence: “I read book blogs because …”  The top ten answers will be submitted to Joshua Henkin, the author of Matrimony.  Readers of my blog know how much Joshua loves readers and book groups (details of my current giveaway are here) … he’ll be selecting the First, Second and Third place entries – the winners will get grab bags of books!!

    Read the details of the contest at the Literate Housewife’s post – remember to email your entry to the address she provides, don’t leave it in the Comments section.

    Thanks, readers!

    Today’s question from the Boston Bibliophile: Awards. Do you follow any particular book awards? Do you ever choose books based on awards? What award-winning books do you have? (Off the top of your head only- no need to look this up- it would take all day!) What’s your favorite award-winning book?

    I follow many of the book awards, but in the same way I follow the Academy Awards for movies; that is, I note that the book has been awarded Thus-and-Such Award, and if I choose to read it, I have a benchmark (“what were they thinking??!” or “yes, I can see why it won!”).  Case in point for recent movies (we use netflix; four kids, no time to go out!): No Country for Old Men – huh?  I kept waiting for the end to wrap it up; I was left hanging and disappointed.  Juno – loved it!  It was on the short list, but didn’t win … why not?  are these things rigged?!?

    I have “common knowledge” as a display column in the Your Library section of LT, so I can see at a glance if a book I’ve entered is on any award list.  Just looking at my A titles, we have Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist, Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, and Virginia Hamilton’s Anthony Burns: The Defeat and Triumph of a Fugitive Slave.  It’s straight-forward to change the way your library displays, if you’d like to do this.  Just click the pencil icon on the “styles” tab and select “CK: awards and honors” from the drop-down menu in one of the blank columns.

    Browsing at a bookstore I might be drawn to a book with a gold seal on the cover, indicating some type of award and deserving further investigation.  Ultimately I’ll choose to purchase/read the book based on an excerpt or a conversation with another reader (or bookseller), not simply because of an award logo.  With books for kids I’m more apt to trust the judgement of the award(er).

    (Shameless self-promotion):  Marie’s question last week revolved around the LibraryThing Authors in our LT libraries.  I was surprised to see how few I had, and created the LT Author Challenge to encourage myself and others to increase our numbers.  Each new LT Author book read/reviewed/posted will count as an entry into a drawing for a $20 gift card for (what else?!) books.  Details are here.

    I’m so pleased that Joshua Henkin has offered to co-host a giveaway of his novel MatrimonyI reviewed this mid-August, just before the release of the paperback.  One of the things I  really like about Matrimony is that Henkin shows the significance of the “everyday” parts of a marriage, as well as the “extraordinary.”

    Has your book group read Matrimony and is ready to discuss it?  Read what Henkin has to say about books group in this guest post over at Books on the Brain – he loves talking to discussion groups and may be able to schedule a virtual visit – all you need is a speakerphone!  This is a great novel for book groups to talk about; there’s a reading group guide available, to get you started.

    Some of us like the nice display a hardcover makes on a bookcase; some of us realize that we can get more “bang for the buck” if we wait for the paperback … now’s your chance!  You can buy this New York Times Notable Book in paperback, or leave a Comment on this post for a chance to win; winner will be drawn randomly, and announced on September 16 (and if you don’t win, you can head to the bookstore then!).  Joshua Henkin will personally inscribe the book in your name and pop it in the mail; as my six-year-old would say: how cool is that?!

    It’s that time of the week – when I sit down and figure out (roughly, sometimes very roughly!) what my week will look like.  Here’s what’s on tap this week:

    Monday 9/8– Following this post is a post about my latest giveaway … author Joshua Henkin has generously offered a copy of his novel Matrimony, which was released in paperback at the end of last month.  Click the link on the sidebar to enter, or just scroll up!

    Tuesday 9/9 – Tuesday Thingers time!  The Boston Bibliophile asks a question about our use of the features on LibraryThing; I never fail to learn new tips and tricks!  Speaking of LibaryThing … have you seen my challenge to read/review more LibraryThing authors?  Each book you read/review and link back to my challenge page earns you an entry into a drawing for a $20 gift card for (what else?!?) books!  Click the cute LT Author Challenge graphic to get to the details.

    Wednesday 9/10 – This is it!  My little guy (now LM4, he just had a birthday), starts preschool today.  I’ll have four mornings a week by myself.  Of course I’ll spend a lot of the time running errands and doing weekly household “maintenance” like grocery shopping and cleaning, but I also want to slowly overhaul the house by “repurposing” a lot of our furniture and accessories – sometimes decorative items get stuck and stagnant in one place, so I want to shake it up a bit, a la one of those programs on HGTV.  Are there any books that can help me?!?

    Thursday 9/11– My TriCon book group meets tonight to discuss The Worst Hard Time.  I’ll admit that I listened to about half the book on a car trip over Labor Day weekend; I still have to finish reading the rest of it.  Apparently there was a companion documentary on PBS that was excellent.  I was a history major, and this is my kind of history (military history doesn’t hold my interest, but social movements, migration, growth of cities – that talks to me!)

    Friday 9/12– Hmmm, I notice I didn’t commit to posting reviews on any particular day.  I have several pending; that is, I’ve read the book and my review is “cooking” in my head.  I’ll have a few up this week; possibilities are The Worst Hard Time, The Madonnas of Leningrad, Guernica and a couple children’s books.  We’ll see what bubbles up!

    Have a great week everyone!  If you’d like to join us in planning the week ahead, you can grab the graphic here.

    Warning – the following is a run-on stream-of-consciousness about my day and the goodness of book bloggers!

    Let’s start, as they say, at the beginning.  The beginning in this case, is about a year ago, when I decided to train for a sprint triathlon to be held this year on Mother’s Day.  A friend said in an off-the-cuff manner, “you can’t do that”, which I took as a challenge … ordered a couple books on training for a triathlon, enrolled in adult swim lessons, and started hiking around town on my bike with LM3 in tow in the trailer.  In fact, the first book review on my blog is for a wonderful book called Slow Fat Triathlete, which was a huge influence and encouragement to me (note:  I am not slow or fat, but I am a 43-year-old mother of four who had never before done anything remotely athletic, I like to say that before training I had never voluntarily perspired in public 🙂   I could use all the inspiration and motivation that I could get!)

    Fast forward to May 11, 2008, Mother’s Day.  Four friends from back in Connecticut joined me, as well as a new local friend.  It was a great experience!  The word “triathlon” can sound impressive; let me emphasize that this was a sprint distance – 250 yard swim, 12 mile bike and 3 mile run.  Not the Ironman, but still a good deal to put together.





    High on the success of the Mother’s Day race (Triathlon by the Sea in Marblehead, Mass.), I registered for another sprint to be held at Hopkinton State Park on September 7.  This is where the STORM CLOUD comes in … mid-June I fell and sprained my knee (and big toe, isn’t that pathetic!).  I still haven’t completely recovered; can’t yet kick to swim, I’m walking not running, and the bike – no way!  I’ve known for over a month that this race wasn’t going to happen for me, but apparently I still hadn’t accepted it.  I was in a dark mood this morning, moping around feeling sorry for myself.  I was like Eloise‘s turtle, Skipperdee, when his ears aren’t braided!  Those who race understand this feeling; for those who don’t … I didn’t “get it” either, until my first running race back in February.

    Now on to the SUNSHINE … I got an email this afternoon from Tina at Bookshipper.  She let me know that I won a box of books in the Back to School Hachette Giveaway she was co-hosting!  Ten beautiful brand-new books are heading my way.  Who wouldn’t smile at this news?!?  I actually shouted, “Ooh Hoo!  I won” (image Homer Simpson) when I read the e-mail, which had the effect of five extra pair of feet making their way to the kitchen to see what I had won!  One of the books is Vicky Myron’s Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World; this has been on my wish list!

    RAINBOW time:  Spurred on by this great news, I hopped in the car and drove to Hopkinton to pick up my race packet.  Yes, 30 miles each way.  Don’t talk to me about the price of gas … I’ve already paid $130 to register for USAT and the race, what’s another $10 for gas?!  Even though I won’t be racing tomorrow, I was able to see the site and scout it out for next year (thinking positively that I’ll be back in 2009!), I cleared my mind during the long drive, I’ve got the pity party behind me, and I’ll be able to cheer on my friend Ori.  And since I picked up the packet, I can wear my race t-shirt and clang the cowbell!  The race is a benefit for Rosie’s Place a volunteer only sanctuary for poor and homeless women in the Boston area.

    And at the end of the rainbow … probably some books for readers of She Is Too Fond of Books.  That box of ten books from the Hachette giveaway may contain a book or two that I won’t get to right away, if it’s not in my immediate area of interest; I’ll be able to share the bounty with you!  Thank you, Tina and Hachette!

    The following guest post is written by Laurie Viera Rigler, author of the wonderful novel Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict.  Laurie will be sending books to the two randomly-chosen winning entries (see the quesion and all the creative and thoughtful answers here).  Be sure to visit Laurie’s website and blog, the aptly named “Jane Austen Addict.”
    Thanks, Dawn, for putting together such a fun giveaway! I’ve had so much fun reading everyone’s comments. Living in Jane Austen’s world–would it be a dream come true, a case of be careful what you wish for, or maybe a little of both? This is something I pondered quite a lot while writing Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict. And it’s still very much on my mind as I write the sequel/parallel story, which focuses on Jane, the 19th-century woman who is taking over Courtney’s 21st-century Los Angeles life. Talk about culture shock!
    For me, there are many things about the world of my favorite author that sound appealing. Like wearing a beautiful, Regency-era gown while dancing in the Assembly Rooms in Bath. Picnicking on Box Hill. Watching Sarah Siddons perform in Covent Garden. Driving my little phaeton. The peacefulness of the country. The quiet of life without the mental noise of our overly wired world.  I would, however, find it challenging to accept the social and economic restrictions placed upon women. I would mind that more than doing without all the little conveniences of modern life, like hot showers, cellphones, and really good moisturizer. Still, if I could be mistress of Pemberley or Donwell Abbey or some other great estate equipped with an Austenian hero, I would, as Elizabeth Bennet said to Lady Catherine, “have such extraordinary sources of happiness necessarily attached to [my] situation, that [I] could, upon the whole, have no cause to repine.”  
    Congratulations to the winners–may you have a pleasant journey to 1813 England!
    All my best,

    And thanks to you, Laurie, for generously hosting this giveaway!  I’ve also enjoyed reading all the ideas (and felt more than a little superficial that I had stated my biggest challenge would be not knowing how to conduct myself at a Regency Ball!)  Now, the winners of the books are …

    Random Integer Generator

    Here are your random numbers:

    33 35

    Timestamp: 2008-09-06 12:44:42 UTC

    Marissa and Wendi B.,  Congratulations!  Please contact me with your mailing address; I’ll forward them to Laurie who will personally inscribed the books to you and pop them in the mail.






    Friday Finds: September 5, 2008

    We were away for the long weekend over Labor Day, so I didn’t post my Friday Finds last week; here’s a quick peek at what I Should Be Reading over the next few weeks:

    Ronna Wineberg sent me a copy of her short story collection Second Language.  This was published a few years ago, and I’m happy to be given the chance to review it, as I’ve been enjoying short fiction lately.  The synopsis says that the book is “home to a charmingly eclectic collection of characters who share one thing in common: choices … These characters face life-altering decisions, and when confronted with such adversity, they choose varying directions, ranging from forgiveness to revenge.”

    Gayle at Everyday I Write the Book Blog is hosting an online book discussion later this month.  The book she has chosen is Run by Ann Patchett.  I’m so looking forward to reading this!  Not only does it take place in my favorite city, Boston, but I have high expectations for Run, since Patchett’s Bel Canto is one of my favorite books (reminds me, I should “unborrow” it from the neighbor I lent it to!)

    Last month I snagged Reputation: Portraits in Power from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.  The publisher’s synopsis is short and to the point: “A wry, incisive group portrait of America’s ruling class.”  I have a love a history and enjoy biography/memoir, so this should appeal to me; it will be available for sale October 6.

    I also received the Young Adult novel Nation by Terry Pratchett; my kids haven’t pulled this one off the desk yet, but I have a feeling it will be among the missing this weekend!  Here’s a summary from the publisher:

    The sea has taken everything.

    Internationally revered storyteller Terry Pratchett presents a breathtaking adventure of survival and discovery, and of the courage required to forge new beliefs.

    Mau is the only one left after a giant wave sweeps his island village away. But when much is taken, something is returned, and somewhere in the jungle Daphne—a girl from the other side of the globe—is the sole survivor of a ship destroyed by the same wave.

    Together the two confront the aftermath of catastrophe. Drawn by the smoke of Mau and Daphne’s sheltering fire, other refugees slowly arrive: children without parents, mothers without babies, husbands without wives—all of them hungry and all of them frightened. As Mau and Daphne struggle to keep the small band safe and fed, they defy ancestral spirits, challenge death himself, and uncover a long-hidden secret that literally turns the world upside down. . . .

    My first two “finds” are already out and on bookstore shelves – have you read either of them?  Anyone else taking a sneak peek at or Reputation or NationWhich one should I open first? (I don’t juggle; one book at a time!)