Archive for October, 2011

Tuesday Evening Book Reviews

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Jon Katz fares well in Minneapolis for his book, GOING HOME: FINDING PEACE WHEN PETS DIE.

PROFESSOR REINHOLD NIEBUHR: A MENTOR TO THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, by Ronald H. Stone, is up for debate at Slate Magazine.

The Christian Science Monitor has fun with Margaret Atwood’s, IN OTHER WORLDS: SF AND THE HUMAN IMAGINATION (and a couple of its typos.)

And Kirkus flinches a little, but ultimately endorses a THE MAID – A NOVEL OF JOAN OF ARC, by Kimberly Cutter.

Another 5 Minutes… With Jennie Bentley

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

AuthorScoop first met with the prolific and talented Jennie Bentley back in June of 2010. (Don’t let the nom de plume fool you, this is a woman of several names and a veritable avalanche of ideas to keep her readers – and her mailman, presumably – very busy.) It’s especially nice to welcome her back again on the occasion of her first appearance on The New York Times bestseller list.

We’d like to thank her for coming back to once again take part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: So your latest novel has launched you up to the next level. Tell us a little bit about FLIPPED OUT.

Jennie: It’s the fifth book in the Do It Yourself series. It’s been a year since Avery Baker inherited her Aunt Inga’s house in Waterfield, Maine, and started renovating houses with her new boyfriend, Derek Ellis. Over the course of that time, they’ve worked on four: Aunt Inga’s second empire Victorian, a haunted mid-century ranch, a carriage house, and a 1783 center chimney Colonial on an island off the coast. Now it’s time for #5, a small 1930s cottage in Waterfield Village, the historic district. The house belongs to Tony Micelli, ace on-air reporter for Portland’s Channel 8 News, who also happens to be the fiancé of Derek’s ex-wife Melissa. And as an added bonus, the renovations are being filmed for a home renovation TV program.

But when they walk into the house to start work on the second day of filming, they find Tony dead on the kitchen floor, stabbed multiple times with a screwdriver. Filming and renovations are put on hold while the police investigate, but in the end, it’s up to Avery to figure out what happened before the TV crew leaves, possibly taking the murderer with them.

AuthorScoop: Tell us about finding out that you’d made The New York Times Bestseller List.

Jennie: There’s not a lot to say about it, really. My editor called on Wednesday afternoon to say we’d hit the list. I jumped up and down and squealed, bringing both the kids and the dog running. And then I called everyone I knew and posted the news to all my social media. Other than hitting the #1 spot, the entire New York Times list is the pinnacle of achievement for a writer, and it’s super-exciting to get there.

AuthorScoop: Are you the type who avoids her reviews or do you peek between your fingers to see who’s saying what about your work?

Jennie: I don’t usually go seeking out reviews, but if I come across one, I’ll read it. If it’s good, I’m happy. If it’s bad, I do my best to find some reason to laugh. Overall, my reviews have been pretty good—thank you very much to everyone who’s ever reviewed one of my books!—but once in a while I get a doozy. The first time it happened I was devastated. It was for book 2, Spackled and Spooked, comparing it unfavorably to book 1 (Fatal Fixer-Upper), and I was sure my career was over.

It didn’t turn out to be, and I learned that I can’t take bad reviews to heart. There’s always going to be someone who doesn’t like my work, and who feels compelled to tell the world how awful it is. It’s unfortunate that that person’s opinion might sway someone else from trying the books, someone who might actually have liked them, but there’s nothing I can do about it. And as long as I’ve done my best, and written the best book I can, I just have to accept that there’s going to be readers out there who don’t love my books the way I do.

I think that as writers, it’s extremely important that we realize that our books can and must stand on their own. When someone doesn’t like our books, it’s no reflection on us. We’re separate from our books, just as they’re separate from us. If we can just get that straight, we’ll save ourselves a ton of grief down the line.

AuthorScoop: How has writing well-received fiction changed the way you read?

Jennie: LOL! I’m not sure writing well-received fiction has changed anything. Writing at all has changed the way I read in that I can’t turn off the internal editor when I read other people’s books these days. I’m forever rewriting their prose in my head, ticking off any errors I come across, making note of how I would have done things differently—or just writhing with envy because what I’m reading is so far superior to anything I could have written myself.

AuthorScoop: What’s next for Jennie Bentley?

Jennie: DIY mystery #6 will be coming next year. It’s currently without a title or a release date, but it’s written, and given the delivery date for the manuscript, I’m envisioning a release date sometime in late summer/early fall of 2012. The working title has been Secrets and Small Spaces: Avery and Derek take on the renovation of a condo, and when the neighborhood busybody is found dead, Avery discovers that everyone in the building has something to hide. The trick becomes sifting through the various secrets to determine which is worth killing for.

We’re in negotiations for books 7 and 8, so there may yet be more Avery to come beyond 2012. If things work out, the next book will probably be a Christmas mystery for 2013.

As for the other me, I have four mysteries in an eBook-only series out currently, about a real estate agent in Nashville. The fifth – and so far last – in the series will be coming in December. And starting next summer, I’m branching out into romance. I’ve just agreed to write four books in a futuristic romance series for Entangled Publishing, about the crew of a smuggling ship and their adventures in a galaxy far, far away. The first book is tentatively called Fortune’s Hero, and will be coming in July 2012, assuming I can get it written and delivered in time. All those books are/will be published under the name Jenna Bennett.

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FLIPPED OUT is available now and there’s a quick clickable route to the DIY series through her website, where you can see the array of her literary goodies on display. And keep up with Jennie on Facebook and Twitter X2.

Tuesday Morning LitLinks

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Lionel Shriver explores “the appeal of the unappealing” in literary characters. (Financial Times)

Chad Berndtson traces the inspirational bloodline of William McKeen’s Mile Marker Zero back to Hunter S. Thompson. (Beauregard Daily News)

HarperCollins gobbles up Newmarket. (GalleyCat)

Mark Brown reports on the discovery of a forgotten sketch by Harold Pinter. (The Guardian)

Novelist Chuck Klosterman shares his five favorite books. (The Daily Beast)

The shortlist has been announced for the 2012 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. (South Asian Lit Fest)

Zsuzsi Roboz offers a guided tour through some of her portraits of prominent writers. (The Guardian)

“On this day in 1854, one of the most famous battles of military history was fought at Balaclava, in the Crimea. Upon reading reports of the disaster in the Times five weeks later, Tennyson wrote “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” composing the poem while raking leaves, he later said, and taking both the phrase and the idea that “someone had blundered” from the newspaper account.” (Today in Literature)

Monday Quote of the Night

Monday, October 24th, 2011

“In my writing I am acting as a map maker, an explorer of psychic areas, a cosmonaut of inner space, and I see no point in exploring areas that have already been thoroughly surveyed.”

-William S. Burroughs

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Monday Evening Book Reviews

Monday, October 24th, 2011

A HOUSE WITH NO ROOF: AFTER MY FATHER’S ASSASSINATION, A MEMOIR, by Rebecca Wilson, is a hit with The San Fransisco Chronicle.

The Washington Post processes the emotional toll of NANJING REQUIEM, by Ha Jin.

A timely and in-depth look at Walter Isaacson’s biography of STEVE JOBS, at The Ledger.

And The New York Times features a pair of new books on Charles Dickens.

Monday Morning LitLinks

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Alison Flood shows us what Bram Stoker’s notebook reveals about Dracula. (The Guardian)

Curtis Sittenfeld talks to author and director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop about the value of MFA programs. (Salon)

Check out David Foster Wallace’s rather intense instructions on use of his essay on Kafka. (Letters of Note)

Gaby Woods sheds some light on hos the Booker Prize sausage is made. (The Telegraph)

Christopher Fowler remembers (the nearly-forgotten) Edgar Wallace. (The Independent)

The Book Beast shares some of the “juiciest bits” from the upcoming Steve Jobs biography. (The Daily Beast)

“On this day in 1958 Raymond Chandler began his last novel, the never-completed (by him) Poodle Springs. This was Chandler’s name for Palm Springs, where “every third elegant creature you see has at least one poodle,” and where Philip Marlowe thought he might settle down with his new wife, the socialite Linda Loring. Chandler lost interest after a few chapters; Marlowe probably would have too.” (Today in Literature)

Sunday Quote of the Night

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

“The responsibility of a writer is to excavate the experience of the people who produced him.”

-James Baldwin

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Sunday Evening Book Reviews

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

The Express Tribune doesn’t gloss over its dislike of Ruby Zaman’s, INVISIBLE LINES.

NIGHTWOODS, by Charles Frazier, fares well at The Columbus Dispatch.

Hill Harper’s, THE WEALTH CURE: PUTTING MONEY IN ITS PLACE, is a featured review at USA Today.

The Seattle Times smiles upon Alan Hollinghurst’s, THE STRANGER’S CHILD.

Sunday Morning LitLinks

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Frieda Hughes introduces an exhibition of pen and ink drawings done by her mother, poet Sylvia Plath. (The Guardian)

A glimpse into how Charles Bukowski responded to the censorship of one of his books by an American public library. (Letters of Note)

Parul Sehgal says grumbling over literary awards is ultimately good for literature. (Publishers Weekly)

Terry Wogan facepalms over the silliness of the film “Anonymous.” (The Telegraph)

The head of the Dorothy Parker Society is butting heads with New York over the planned demolition of one of the famed author’s childhood homes. (NYTimes)

James Kidd profiles American novelist Ellen Feldman. (The Independent)

John M. Blum, historian and biographer. (NYTimes)

“On this day in 1939, Zane Grey died. Fifty-six of his eighty-nine books are westerns; many of them are not just shoot-em-ups but, as here in The U.P. Trail, observe and lament the “many shining bands of steel across the plains and mountains, many stations and hamlets and cities, a growing and marvelous prosperity from timber, mines, farms, and in the distant end — a gutted West.”" (Today in Literature)

Saturday Quote of the Night

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

“Poetry is like making a joke. If you get one word wrong at the end of a joke, you’ve lost the whole thing.”

- W.S. Merwin

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Saturday Evening Book Reviews

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

ALIEN VAULT: THE DEFINITIVE STORY OF THE MAKING OF THE FILM, by Ian Nathan, is a big hit over at io9.com.

The Telegraph is pleasantly receptive of John Baxter’s biography of THE INNER MAN: THE LIFE OF J.G. BALLARD.

AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTHINESS: THE RISE (AND FURTHER RISE) OF STEPHEN COLBERT, by Lisa Rogak, earns a smile at USA Today.

And The New Republic finds a couple of new books about William Butler Yeats.

Saturday Morning LitLinks

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

Joan Didion confronts the death of her daughter one book after having done the same with the death of her husband. (The Guardian)

Stephen Romei profiles Australian author Janette Turner Hospital. (The Australian)

Boyd Tonkin comes out swinging for readability. (The Independent)

Here’s a fun interactive guide based on NPR’s top 100 sci-fi and fantasy list we reported on yesterday. (SF Signal)

Haruki Murakami gets his NYT profile. (NYTimes)

Algonquin Books is expanding to include books for young readers. (Publishers Weekly)

Lauren Child offers up some tips on ‘how to dress like a children’s book heroine.’ (The Telegraph)

R.I.P. Mullanezhy Neelakanthan, Malayalam poet and actor. (The Hindu)

“On this day in 1885 Arthur Rimbaud wrote to his mother that he had decided to give up his more sedate job as a coffee-trader in Ethiopia, so beginning the last phase of his wild, infamous and short life: “… Several thousand rifles are on their way to me from Europe. I am going to set up a caravan, and carry this merchandise to Menelik, the king of Shoa….”" (Today in Literature)

Friday Quote of the Night

Friday, October 21st, 2011

“The writer must be universal in sympathy and an outcast by nature; only then can he see clearly.”

-Julian Barnes

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Friday Evening Book Reviews

Friday, October 21st, 2011

The Washington Post likes both Judy Collins and her new memoir, SWEET JUDY BLUE EYES: MY LIFE IN MUSIC.

THE STRANGER’S CHILD, by Alan Hollinghurst, is smiled upon by The New york Times.

Julia Sheeres develops the firsthand account of Thomas Bogues’ experience in, A THOUSAND LIVES: THE UNTOLD STORY OF HOPE, DECEPTION, AND SURVIVAL AT JONESTOWN.

And Rebecca Rosenblum earns an endorsement for her collection of stories, THE BIG DREAM.

Friday Morning LitLinks

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Spend one minute with children’s author, Francesca Simon. (The Independent)

Lisa Levy makes the case for reading Moby-Dick. (The Rumpus)

NPR presents its reader-selected top 100 science fiction and fantasy books. (NPR)

Will Spielberg screw up Tintin? (The Telegraph)

Gabe Habash looks at ’5 fictional medicines we wish were real.’ (PWxyz)

John Mullan surveys 10 of the best literary cliffs. (Guardian Books Blog)

John McTernan advocates library closures… (The Telegraph)

…M.A. Orthofer pounces. (The Literary Saloon)

R.I.P. Piri Thomas, poet and writer. (New York Daily News)

R.I.P. Varghese Kakkanadan, Malayalam novelist. (The Times of India)

“On this day in 1833, Alfred Nobel was born in Stockholm. Why someone self-described as “a nomadic” excluded from “love, happiness, joy, pulsating life, caring and being cared for, caressing and being caressed,” and who regarded friendship as something found “at the cloudy bottom of fleeing illusions or attached to the clattering sound of collected coins” should leave his money to mankind is something of a puzzle…” (Today in Literature)

Thursday Quote of the Night

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

“The armored cars of dreams, contrived to let us do so many a dangerous thing.”

-Elizabeth Bishop

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Thursday Evening Book Reviews

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

The Denver Post seemed to enjoy Angela Hunt’s, THE FINE ART OF INSINCERITY.

IT IS DANGEROUS TO BE RIGHT WHEN THE GOVERNMENT IS WRONG: THE CASE FOR PERSONAL FREEDOM, by Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, scores a fan at UnitedLiberty.org.

Haruki’s Murakami’s, 1Q84, is on tap at The Los Angeles Times.

And The Deseret News endorses THE KEEPERS OF BLACKBIRD HILL, by Lael Littke.

Thursday Morning LitLinks

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

The New Yorker has published Eugene O’Neill’s “Exorcism,” previously thought to be a lost. (The Telegraph)

Happy “National Day on Writing.” (GalleyCat)

National Book Award fiction judge and novelist Victor LaValle pushes back against Laura Miller’s charge that the prize has made itself irrelevant. (Publishers Weekly)

Marlow Stern talks to Tip “T.I.” Harris (simply “T.I.” to rap fans) about his debut novel, Power & Beauty: A Love Story of Life on the Streets. (The Daily Beast)

Alison Flood looks at the writers supporting the “Occupy” movement. (The Guardian)

Your move, Amazon: three major publishers seek to counter Amazon’s “continued efforts to woo writers” by making sales data available online. (NYTimes)

Is Julian Barnes a sore winner? (The Independent)

Daniel Nester revisits the long-running debate over whether or not Jim Morrison was a “real poet.” (Poetry Foundation)

R.I.P. Norman Corwin, “American radio’s ‘poet laureate’.” (The Washington Post)

“On this day in 1928 Dorothy Parker, under her pen name, Constant Reader, reviewed A. A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner in The New Yorker, with predictable, now-famous, results: “. . . And it is that word ‘hummy,’ my darlings, that marks the first place in The House at Pooh Corner at which Tonstant Weader fwowed up.”" (Today in Literature)

Wednesday Quote of the Night

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

“In every man’s heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty.”

-Christopher Morley

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Wednesday Evening Book Reviews

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

INSTANT CITY: LIFE AND DEATH IN KARACHI, by Steven Inskeep, impresses, for the most part, The Christian Science Monitor.

The Houston Chronicle weighs in on Naomi Shihan Nye’s latest volume of poetry, TRANSFER.

If this is the only time of year you don’t mind talking about zombies, then Kirkus has just the page of reviews for you.

And Paul La Farge fares middling at The San Fransisco Chronicle for his novel, LUMINOUS AIRPLANES.