May 31, 2011

Teaser Tuesday May 31: Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

Posted in Book Talk tagged , , , , at 9:00 am by The Word Jar

Teaser Tuesdays asks you to:

* Grab your current read.
* Let the book fall open to a random page.
* Share with us two “teaser” sentences from that page.

You also need to share the title and author of the book that you’re getting your teaser from…that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

As always, please avoid spoilers!

*   *   *   *   *

“There is some connection here, something that tickles about this man and this particular piece. History.”

As with last week’s teaser, the book from which this teaser is taken deals with memory loss. Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante features a main character who is dealing with the onset of Alzheimer’s. Dr. Jennifer White is retired after a successful career as a surgeon, but now she is a person of interest in her best friend’s murder. She doesn’t remember that her friend has been murdered, and some days she doesn’t even remember her friend at all.

Dr. White is the first-person narrator for the novel, which provides for an unsettling read. I’ve only just started the book, but already it gets uncomfortable as Dr. White fights through bad days when she doesn’t recognize her children or the stranger (her caregiver) in the house. Then she has good days, when she does remember her best friend, and she is at turns outraged that she was murdered and frustrated that she was so helpless to do anything about it.

Dr. White as the narrator could prove interesting as the story moves along. How reliable can the narrator be if she is in the grips of Alzheimer’s? How does that potential unreliability affect the story? I’ll just have to wait and see.

What are you reading this week?

(Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Check it out for more teasers!)

May 30, 2011

Get Out Your TBR List: Big Books at BEA 2011

Posted in Book Talk, Publishing tagged , , , , , at 10:48 am by The Word Jar

Last week Publishers Weekly ran an excellent article highlighting the books getting the most buzz at BEA. They interviewed several booksellers from independent bookstores around the country to see what upcoming titles they can’t wait to recommend to their customers.

Two of the titles I’m most intrigued by from that list are The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante. The Night Circus centers around two magicians in a mysterious circus who are in competition, as well as falling in love, with each other. I was already looking forward to this book after reading the publisher’s description, but then I found this mesmerizing book trailer. I could watch it over and over and over.

Alice LaPlante’s Turn of Mind is actually next up on my reading list. This novel is told in the voice of a retired surgeon, Dr. Jennifer White, who is succumbing to Alzheimer’s. Dr. White turns out to be a person of interest when her best friend is murdered, but she has no memory of the incident. Memory, or lack thereof, must be a trend in books right now, because Turn of Mind is one of four books on my reading list that deals with amnesia or Alzheimer’s (the other books being The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey, Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson, and What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty).

As if all of these suggestions weren’t enough, to further add to your reading list the New York Times offers their best bets for beach reads in “Books to Bury Yourself In.”

If you can’t find anything worthwhile to read from these suggestions, you need your library card revoked.

(Of course these lists are enough to keep me in books up to my eyeballs all summer, but I’m always on the lookout for other recommendations. So, I get to keep my library card and still ask, “What books are on your list for the summer?”)

May 24, 2011

BEA Starts Today

Posted in Events, Publishing tagged , , , , at 3:12 pm by The Word Jar

Shh….listen! Do you hear the chatter of the booksellers about the latest bestsellers and upcoming must-read titles? Do you hear the scratching of the authors’ pens as they sign the books that cost them their blood, sweat, and tears to write? Do you hear the hand-wringing of the publishing folks over the latest trends in technology and how they affect the printed book? Now take a deep breath…can you smell the books?

No? Then you must not be in NYC for BookExpo America.

Unfortunately, neither am I. But plenty of publishing people are, and they are celebrating all things “book” right now at the 2011 BEA. Technically it kicked off yesterday with the Big Ideas at BEA Conference and other forums, but today is the day the exhibit hall opens and the author panels take place. Row upon glorious row of publisher booths showcasing their upcoming titles, with a few advance copies to hand out as well. I can’t think about it too much or I’ll get lightheaded.

In addition to the main event, the Book Blogger Convention will be held this Friday after BEA winds down. This convention is “intended to provide support, instruction, and social time for people who blog about books.” It doesn’t get much more wonderful than that!

A week of previewing new titles, meeting authors, learning about the latest publishing trends, and gathering bags of books…that’s the stuff of dreams! For now I’ll content myself with following the action through @BookExpoAmerica and any other updates I can find. And as always, there’s the never consoling consolation….there’s always next year!

Is anyone lucky enough to be at BEA this year? Will you be attending the Book Blogger Convention?

Teaser Tuesday May 24: The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:23 am by The Word Jar

Teaser Tuesdays asks you to:

* Grab your current read.
* Let the book fall open to a random page.
* Share with us two “teaser” sentences from that page.

You also need to share the title and author of the book that you’re getting your teaser from…that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

As always, please avoid spoilers!

*   *   *   *   *

He had started the day fighting for his life, and since then he had found clothing, shelter, food. He knew where he was, and had a name that might well be his.

The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes begins with a man regaining consciousness on a desolate beach in Maine. He has no idea who he is or why he is there. He soon finds out that he’s wanted by the police, and he has no idea why. So, he runs. I’m only a few chapters in, but it’s already an exciting book. There are some dark characters and quick pacing. Should be an entertaining read for the summer. 

What are you reading this week?

(Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Check it out for more teasers!)

May 23, 2011

Book Review: S’Mother by Adam Chester

Posted in Book Reviews tagged , , , , , at 10:08 am by The Word Jar

When Adam Chester left his mother in Florida to attend the University of Southern California, he intended to leave all traces of his mother behind. He would finally be free of the woman who’d bring his forgotten sweater to him while he was still changing in the boys’ locker room. But Joan Chester would not be left behind. Not while her son needed her protection. And so she began to send him letters. Lots of letters. And Adam kept every one. Now he gets to exact his embarrassment revenge in the appropriately titled S’Mother: The Story of a Man, His Mom, and the Thousands of Altogether Insane Letters She’s Mailed Him, a collection of the best Joan Chester letters he received.

Joan Chester did not send run-of-the-mill “How’s college? Miss you lots!” letters. These missives were filled with such sage advice as “[I]f you buy U.S. Savings Bonds, you have to keep them in a safe deposit box at the bank so no one can steal them” and “Have a good time next weekend and take your stomach medication with you in case you eat onions again.” Valuable life lessons. But this correspondence was not all fun and games for Joan. She repeatedly reminds Adam—as she’s “getting on in years”—where her will and insurance policies are located if he should ever need to find them.

The letters continue throughout Adam’s adult life—after graduation, after he meets his wife, after he’s hired as an Elton John stand-in. The short collection highlighted in S’Mother jumps from letter to letter with only the shortest setup or reaction from Adam. While the letters (some complete with reproductions) are highly entertaining, this quick read could have easily fit in more backstory without slowing down the pace.

Chester freely admits that this book was meant to help readers feel better about their moms, but he has a genuine gift in all this material. For all of her mundane and inane information, Joan has provided her son with a tangible stash of motherly love. In this age of trite texts and tweets, a whole generation is growing up not knowing the joy of opening the mail box to find not only bills and solicitations, but also handwritten letters. That you can keep. Without the fear of losing them if your computer crashes or your phone ends up in the pool. Chester wrote and compiled this book for the entertainment of others, and perhaps to poke a little fun at his mom, but I’d also bet he realizes just how lucky he is.

Joan Chester may not win any Mother of the Year awards, but she can’t be accused of not caring about her son. She practically wrote a book for him. Adam cashed in on this valuable material in S’Mother and so does the reader.

(Review copy source: Abrams via NetGalley)