Friday, May 20, 2016

The Big World of Miniature Books

What do you call a book that's no more than three inches tall?
A small book?
A tiny book?
The proper term is a miniature book.

The Miniature Book Society has a traveling exhibit designed to introduce people to the world of miniature books. I've known miniature books existed, but I never knew that there is an organization dedicated to them.

I stumbled into the world of miniature books on Tuesday when I discovered the hashtag #TinyTuesday on Instagram. I took a photo of the miniature book necklace that my sister-in-law gave me for Christmas last year (technically, it is a blank journal) and then posted it on Instagram and Tweeted it as well. I adore this necklace and wear it all the time. Green also happens to be one of my favorite colors.

My favorite book necklace.

Wesleyan Library saw my Tweet and Tweeted me this:

And so the next morning I headed to Wesleyan, which is just about a half hour from my house.

Otis Library, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT
The Otis Library, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut.

Oits Library Lobby, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT
The Miniature Book Exhibit in the handsome lobby of the Otis Library.

A World in the Palm of Your Hand: The Art of Miniature Books by Sally Grucan
Exhibit Introduction by Sally Grucan, Head of Cataloging at Weslyan and Miniature Book Collector.

I appreciated all the books, but this edition of Voltaire in a marbled sleeve captured my attention.

Voltaire Miniature Book, Roberto Patetta, Milan Italy
It won a Miniature Book Society award in 2015.

Miniature Book Society Traveling Exhibit at Wesleyan
I remember seeing Mark Wilson's Little Book of Card Tricks (2000) in bookstores.

Publius Terentius Afer, Selected works of Terence, Miniature Book, 1823
The oldest book in the exhibit was published in 1823. Selected works of Terence.

Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Miniature Book
One of the tiniest books is this edition of Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik. I'd need a magnifying glass for this one.

The exhibit is in the lobby of the Otis Library through May 24, 2016. After that it moves on to Texas and then Alabama. For details about its tour schedule visit MBS.ORG.

MBS Grand Conclaive, McKinney, Texas
The MBS also has an annual conference or conclave.

Have you had any run-ins with miniature books? Any collectors out there? If so, how did you get started as a collector?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Out Today: The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay


Martin Seay at Booktopia Northshire Bookstore May, 6, 2016
Martin just before his first event at Booktopia May 6, 2016
Happy release day to Martin Seay! His first novel, The Mirror Thief, is available at bookstores and libraries today. From all the pre-publication buzz and early reviews, this is bound to be one of the big books of 2016.
From the publisher: A globetrotting, time-bending, wildly entertaining masterpiece in the tradition of Cloud Atlas.

Publishers Weekly raved that "with near-universal appeal . . . Seay’s debut novel is a true delight, a big, beautiful cabinet of wonders that is by turns an ominous modern thriller, a supernatural mystery, and an enchanting historical adventure story." Set in three cities in three eras, The Mirror Thief calls to mind David Mitchell and Umberto Eco in its mix of entertainment and literary bravado.

The core story is set in Venice in the sixteenth century, when the famed makers of Venetian glass were perfecting one of the old world's most wondrous inventions: the mirror. An object of glittering yet fearful fascination—was it reflecting simple reality, or something more spiritually revealing?—the Venetian mirrors were state of the art technology, and subject to industrial espionage by desirous sultans and royals world-wide. But for any of the development team to leave the island was a crime punishable by death. One man, however—a world-weary war hero with nothing to lose—has a scheme he thinks will allow him to outwit the city's terrifying enforcers of the edict, the ominous Council of Ten . . .

Meanwhile, in two other Venices—Venice Beach, California, circa 1958, and the Venice casino in Las Vegas, circa today—two other schemers launch similarly dangerous plans to get away with a secret . . .

All three stories will weave together into a spell-binding tour-de-force that is impossible to put down—an old-fashioned, stay-up-all-night novel that, in the end, returns the reader to a stunning conclusion in the original Venice . . . and the bedazzled sense of having read a truly original and thrilling work of art.

Add to Goodreads

I haven't read Cloud Atlas, so can't vouch for the comparison, but I can say that I'm 100+ pages into the novel and it kept me up past my bedtime last night. And thus far the character Curtis is shaping up to be one of my favorite fictional Marines. He's more realistic than the macho, fantasy stereotypes out there. I missed him when the story flipped from 2003 to 1958, but I know he'll be back.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of meeting Martin at Booktopia, an amazing book event hosted by The Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, VT. 


Martin Seay & Chris Wolak at Booktopia, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester, VT.
Martin & Me.

Here's Seay's tour schedule. Go and see him if you can, he gives an interesting talk. And after he's a household name you'll be able to say you met him at the beginning of his career. 😎

May 6-7 – Booktopia Festival, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester, VT

May 9 at 7 p.m. – WORD in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY

May 11 at 7 p.m. – Chaucer's Bookstore, Santa Barbara, CA

May 12 at 7 p.m. – Green Apple Books on the Park, San Francisco, CA

May 13 at 7 p.m. – Copperfield's Books, Petaluma, CA

May 14 at 7:30 p.m. – The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA

May 16 at 7 p.m. – Book People, Austin, TX

May 17 at 7 p.m. – Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX

May 25 at 7 p.m. – 57th Street Books, Hyde Park, Chicago, IL


Author: Martin Seay
Title: The Mirror Thief
Publisher: Melville House, May 10, 2016
Source: I did receive an electronic ARC via Edelweiss that I started prior to the event and which greatly whet my appetite. I purchased my own copy at Northshire. Speaking of which, thanks to Melville House for allowing early sales at The Northshire Bookstore.

Back to reading now....

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Booktopia 2016


Booktopia 2016 Authors at Northshire Bookstore

Booktopia happened this weekend in Manchester, Vermont. The event was started years ago by Anne Kingman and Michelle Kindness of Books on the Nightstand. Last year they announced it would be their last year organizing it and (thankfully) the Northshire Bookstore decided to keep the tradition going, for which those of us who have attended are very grateful.  

This year's event was held on Friday and Saturday and included multiple small group talks with each author on both days, an evening of social fun revolving around books (book trivia and a Yankee book swap) and dinner. The fun culminated on Saturday evening with a ten minute talk by each author.

This years authors were: 

She Called Him Raymond by Ray O'Conor
Author Ray O'Conor at Booktopia Northshire BookstoreA letter penned in 1944 uncovered the powerful and heartfelt story of Helen Gregg, one of eight children of Irish immigrant parents raised in the miseries of Hell’s Kitchen during the Great Depression, and Clarence R. Stephenson, a young aspiring B-17 pilot reared in the small, struggling city of Ironton, Ohio. Fate brought them together in 1942, when Helen and the young aspiring aviator literally ran into each other in New York City’s Central Park. From the moment their eyes first met, they knew their lives would never be the same.

This captivating and poignant story of their struggles and romance, his exploits as a highly decorated B-17 pilot during World War II, and the tragedy that tears them apart, will inspire you while tugging at your heart. With his investigative skills as a former Special Agent and his deftness as a writer, Ray O’Conor unearths a family’s secrets and skillfully weaves a compelling story of two ordinary people who led extraordinary lives during the most compelling period in history.

“Ray O’Conor abandoned his career to search for his namesake, a heroic B-17 pilot who died in World War II. What he found touches the heart and stirs the soul.”
James Bradley
#1 New York Times best-selling author of Flags of Our Fathers and The China Mirage

Rebecca Dinerstein, The Sunlit Night

The Sunlit Night by Rebecca DinersteinAuthor Rebecca Dinerstein at Bookstopia Northshire BookstoreIn the beautiful, barren landscape of the Far North, under the ever-present midnight sun, Frances and Yasha are surprised to find refuge in each other. Their lives have been upended--Frances has fled heartbreak and claustrophobic Manhattan for an isolated artist colony; Yasha arrives from Brooklyn to fulfill his beloved father's last wish: to be buried “at the top of the world.” They have come to learn how to be alone.

But in Lofoten, an archipelago of six tiny islands in the Norwegian Sea, ninety-five miles north of the Arctic Circle, they form a bond that fortifies them against the turmoil of their distant homes, offering solace amidst great uncertainty. With nimble and sure-footed prose, Dinerstein reveals that no matter how far we travel to claim our own territory, it is ultimately love that gives us our place in the world.


Jung Yun, Shelter
Shelter by Jung YunAuthor Jung Yun at Booktopia Northshire BookstoreWhy should a man care for his parents when they failed to take care of him as a child?

One of The Millions' Most Anticipated Books of the Year (Selected by Edan Lepucki) 


Kyung Cho is a young father burdened by a house he can’t afford. For years, he and his wife, Gillian, have lived beyond their means. Now their debts and bad decisions are catching up with them, and Kyung is anxious for his family’s future.

A few miles away, his parents, Jin and Mae, live in the town’s most exclusive neighborhood, surrounded by the material comforts that Kyung desires for his wife and son. Growing up, they gave him every possible advantage—private tutors, expensive hobbies—but they never showed him kindness. Kyung can hardly bear to see them now, much less ask for their help. Yet when an act of violence leaves Jin and Mae unable to live on their own, the dynamic suddenly changes, and he’s compelled to take them in. For the first time in years, the Chos find themselves living under the same roof. Tensions quickly mount as Kyung’s proximity to his parents forces old feelings of guilt and anger to the surface, along with a terrible and persistent question: how can he ever be a good husband, father, and son when he never knew affection as a child?

As Shelter veers swiftly toward its startling conclusion, Jung Yun leads us through dark and violent territory, where, unexpectedly, the Chos discover hope. Shelter is a masterfully crafted debut novel that asks what it means to provide for one's family and, in answer, delivers a story as riveting as it is profound.
 

Stephen P. Kiernan, The Hummingbird
Author Stephen P. Kiernan at Booktopia Northshire BookstoreThe Hummingbird by Stephen P. KiernanFrom the author of the acclaimed The Curiosity comes a compelling and moving story of compassion, courage, and redemption

Deborah Birch is a seasoned hospice nurse whose daily work requires courage and compassion. But her skills and experience are tested in new and dramatic ways when her easygoing husband, Michael, returns from his third deployment to Iraq haunted by nightmares, anxiety, and rage. She is determined to help him heal, and to restore the tender, loving marriage they once had.

At the same time, Deborahs primary patient is Barclay Reed, a retired history professor and expert in the Pacific Theater of World War II whose career ended in academic scandal. Alone in the world, the embittered professor is dying. As Barclay begrudgingly comes to trust Deborah, he tells her stories from that long-ago war, which help her find a way to help her husband battle his demons.

Told with piercing empathy and heartbreaking realism, The Hummingbird is a masterful story of loving commitment, service to country, and absolution through wisdom and forgiveness.


Sophie McManus, The Unfortunates
Author Sophie McManus at Booktopia Northshire BookstoreThe Unfortunates by Sophie McManusLong-listed for the NBCC's John Leonard Prize
This extraordinary debut novel by Sophie McManus is a contemporary American tragedy of breathtaking scope: a dramatic story of pharmaceutical trials and Wall Street corruption; of pride and prejudice; of paranoia and office politics; of inheritance, influence, class, and power.

Cecilia Somner's fate hangs in the balance. A larger-than-life heiress to a robber baron's fortune, once known as much for her cruel wit as for her tremendous generosity, CeCe is now in opulent decline. Afflicted with a rare disease and touched by mortality for the first time, she finds her gilded, by - gone values colliding with an unforgiving present. Along with her troubled son, George, and his out - sider wife, Iris, CeCe must face the Somners' dark legacy and the corrupting nature of wealth. As the Somner family struggles to find a solution to its troubles, the secrets and lies between CeCe, George, and Iris grow entangled. CeCe's world topples, culminating in a startling turn of events that is as unforgettable as it is life-changing.

While no riches can put things right for the unfortunate Somners, when all is lost, they learn what life beyond the long, shimmering shadow cast by the Somner dynasty may become. Sophie McManus' The Unfortunates,hilarious and heartbreaking by turns, is most of all a meditation on love: as delusional obsession, as transformation, and ultimately as a coming to grace.

Morgan Callan Rogers, Written on My Heart
Written on My Heart by Morgan Callan RogersAuthor Morgan Callan Rogers at Booktopia Northshire BookstoreThe marriage of Florine Gilham and Bud Warner is a cause for celebration down on The Point, the Maine fishing village where they grew up. Yet even as the newlyweds begin their lives together, Florine is drawn back into the memory of her mother, Carlie, who vanished when Florine was twelve. As unexpected clues regarding her fate begin to surface, Florine and Bud face the challenges of trying to solve an old mystery while building a new marriage and raising a family. Morgan Callan Rogers’s Written on My Heart will delight readers who love feisty, poignant characters and the beautiful, unforgettable Maine coast.

Martin Seay, The Mirror Thief
The Mirror Thief by Martina SeayAuthor Martin Seay at Bookstopa Northshire BookstoreA globetrotting, time-bending, wildly entertaining masterpiece in the tradition of Cloud Atlas.

Publishers Weekly raved that "with near-universal appeal . . . Seay’s debut novel is a true delight, a big, beautiful cabinet of wonders that is by turns an ominous modern thriller, a supernatural mystery, and an enchanting historical adventure story." Set in three cities in three eras, The Mirror Thief calls to mind David Mitchell and Umberto Eco in its mix of entertainment and literary bravado.

The core story is set in Venice in the sixteenth century, when the famed makers of Venetian glass were perfecting one of the old world's most wondrous inventions: the mirror. An object of glittering yet fearful fascination—was it reflecting simple reality, or something more spiritually revealing?—the Venetian mirrors were state of the art technology, and subject to industrial espionage by desirous sultans and royals world-wide. But for any of the development team to leave the island was a crime punishable by death. One man, however—a world-weary war hero with nothing to lose—has a scheme he thinks will allow him to outwit the city's terrifying enforcers of the edict, the ominous Council of Ten . . .

Meanwhile, in two other Venices—Venice Beach, California, circa 1958, and the Venice casino in Las Vegas, circa today—two other schemers launch similarly dangerous plans to get away with a secret . . .

All three stories will weave together into a spell-binding tour-de-force that is impossible to put down—an old-fashioned, stay-up-all-night novel that, in the end, returns the reader to a stunning conclusion in the original Venice . . . and the bedazzled sense of having read a truly original and thrilling work of art.

B. A. Shapiro, The Muralist
Author B. A. Shapiro at Booktopia Northshire BookstoreThe Muralist by B.A. ShapiroFrom the author of the New York Times bestseller The Art Forger comes a thrilling new novel of art, history, love, and politics that traces the life and mysterious disappearance of a brilliant young artist on the eve of World War II.

Alizée Benoit, an American painter working for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), vanishes in New York City in 1940 amid personal and political turmoil. No one knows what happened to her. Not her Jewish family living in German-occupied France. Not her artistic patron and political compatriot, Eleanor Roosevelt. Not her close-knit group of friends, including Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Lee Krasner. And, some seventy years later, not her great-niece, Danielle Abrams, who while working at Christie’s auction house uncovers enigmatic paintings hidden behind recently found works by those now famous Abstract Expressionist artists. Do they hold answers to the questions surrounding her missing aunt?

Entwining the lives of both historical and fictional characters, and moving between the past and the present, The Muralist plunges readers into the divisiveness of prewar politics and the largely forgotten plight of European refugees refused entrance to the United States. It captures both the inner workings of today’s New York art scene and the beginnings of the vibrant and quintessentially American school of Abstract Expressionism.

B.A. Shapiro is a master at telling a gripping story while exploring provocative themes. In Alizée and Danielle she has created two unforgettable women, artists both, who compel us to ask, What happens when luminous talent collides with inexorable historical forces? Does great art have the power to change the world? And to what lengths should a person go to thwart evil?

Great books, all, don't you think?  Have you read any of these yet? I'm currently listening to The Hummingbird on audio and will start The Mirror Thief next. After that I want to dive into Jung Yun's Shelter.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Agnotology



This is my first venture into Wondrous Words Wednesday,  a weekly meme hosted by Bermuda Onion's Weblog where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.

My word of the week (and for the remainder of this presidential campaign season) is Agnotology: the study of wilful acts to spread confusion and deceit, usually to sell a product or win favor.

Agnotology is a relatively new word, coined by Robert Proctor in his 1995 book, Cancer Wars: How Politics Shapes What we Know and Don't Know About Cancer. He also cowrote a book with Londa Schiebinger entitled, Agnotology. Here's the publisher's blurb:
What don't we know, and why don't we know it? What keeps ignorance alive, or allows it to be used as a political instrument? Agnotology—the study of ignorance—provides a new theoretical perspective to broaden traditional questions about "how we know" to ask: Why don't we know what we don't know? The essays assembled in Agnotology show that ignorance is often more than just an absence of knowledge; it can also be the outcome of cultural and political struggles. Ignorance has a history and a political geography, but there are also things people don't want you to know ("Doubt is our product" is the tobacco industry slogan). Individual chapters treat examples from the realms of global climate change, military secrecy, female orgasm, environmental denialism, Native American paleontology, theoretical archaeology, racial ignorance, and more. The goal of this volume is to better understand how and why various forms of knowing do not come to be, or have disappeared, or have become invisible.

I came upon this word in this BBC article from January, 2016: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160105-the-man-who-studies-the-spread-of-ignorance.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (#audiobook)

I was a bit judgemental towards this novel when it first came out in 2010 (Lincoln is my Home Boy and I'm a bit protective), but I was also intrigued. While I didn't get around to reading the novel before the movie came out in 2012, I went to see it anyway, book unread. It was an entertaining movie.

While browsing through OverDrive I came across the audio version and thought it, too, would be entertaining. It was. It kept me looking over my shoulder as I walked on the treadmill, which is where much of my audiobook listening occurs.
Publisher's blurb:  Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother's bedside. She's been stricken with something the old-timers call "Milk Sickness."

"My baby boy..." she whispers before dying.

Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother's fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.

When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, "henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose..." Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.

While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.

Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time-all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.

Weaving vampires into the fight to end slavery is a rather brilliant idea. The author obviously did a lot of research and knows his stuff. It was fascinating to see how he wove the historical Abe's true life events into this fictional story--from Abe as a young boy on the frontier, to lawyering and politicing in Illinois, to the White House and the Civil War. It still pisses me off to read (or hear the details) of Lincoln's assassination.

If you have a road trip this summer I highly recommend this audiobook. However, a warning is in order: it is a bit gross at times--Abe brandishes an axe to kill vampires and these vampires are not sexy lover-boy types. They not only suck the blood of their prey, they rip and tear their flesh, so this may not be a great choice for a family road trip with little ones.

Having seen the movie and listened to the audio book, I'm still interested in reading the novel. Is that weird?

Title: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Author: Seth Grahame-Smith
Publisher: Hachette Audio, 2010
Read by: Scott Holst

The Last American Vampire, book #2 in the Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter series came out in 2015. The time span on this one is Reconstruction through JFK's assassination. I think I'll check this one out as well. Grahame-Smith is also the author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which I haven't been tempted to read, but am coming around to the idea.

Grahame-Smith's books in chronological order:
  • Big Book of Porn: A Penetrating Look at the World of Dirty Movies (2005)
  • The Spider-Man Handbook: The Ultimate Training Manual (2006)
  • How to Survive a Horror Movie: All the Skills to Dodge the Kills (2007)
  • Pardon My President: Fold-and-Mail Apologies for 8 Years (2008)
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2009)
  • Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (2010)
  • Unholy Night (2012)
  • The Last American Vampire (2015)
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