3.29.2013

Giveaway: Glow, by Jessica Maria Tuccelli

Hey everyone! Penguin Books has now published Jessica Maria Tuccelli's Glow (which I reviewed last year) in paperback (2/26/13) and they've been kind enough to offer up a copy for giveaway. 
The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only, and the book will be furnished by and mailed by Penguin Books publicity. 

To enter, please email laurs@theliterarygothamite.com with "GLOW" in the subject line. In the body, please include your first and last name. The winner will be picked by random drawing and announced on Tuesday, April 2nd. 

Have a great weekend!!

3.26.2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Recommend Most


Top Ten Tuesday is, as always, brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish.

I get asked for recommendations all the time. Whether I'm posting here or not, people know they can come to me, and I'll probably recommend something they'll love. 

But sometimes this can drive me a little crazy. 
People will ask:

 "What should I read next?" 

I respond: 

"What was the last thing you read? Did you enjoy it? What kinds of things do you usually like?" 

Their response:
"oh...historical fiction, non-fiction, romantical paranormal young adult, action, fantasy-mystery, modern, science-fictiony books." 

..................................... 


Look, I'm not asking you to completely type yourself. It can take years to type yourself. I'm still typing myself. But if you're going to ask what you should read next and expect an answer, have an idea of what you're looking for! 

So here are my go-to oh-you-want-an-answer-right-now-but-I-barely-know-you answers: 

Historical fiction: The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye 

Young Adult/Fantasy: The Princetta by Anne-Laure Bondoux, the Inkeart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke, The Redwall Series, but starting with Martin the Warrior by Brian Jacques, and The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly 

Non-fiction: Stiff, by Mary Roach, The Age of Wonder, by Richard Holmes

Romantical Paranormal: Glow by Jessica Maria Tuccelli 

Modern: A Novel Bookstore, by Laurence Cossé and On The Road by Jack Kerouac 

If you've already read all of these or do not see something that interests you, let me know. I'd love to pick your brain and and fine-tune a recommendation for you.  

3.20.2013

Review: Ghana Must Go, by Taiye Selasi

Ghana Must Go
by Taiye Selasi
The Penguin Press
March 5, 2013
336 pgs
$25.95 Hardcover/ $12.99 E-Book
New from The Penguin Press this month, Taiye Selasi's Ghana Must Go is a semi-exotic and lyrical examination of a family that came apart at the seams long ago. The parents separated, the children scattered and only now, as the patriarch dies, can the family find a way to become whole again.

As the book moves forward, the story of this complicated African-American family pieces itself together, almost like an unraveled sweater weaving itself back into shape. The perspective switches from person to person with each chapter, and the story is often told in a series of flashbacks that relate to and explain the present. Jessica Maria Tuccelli was successful with this particular narrative form in last year's Glow (and Barbara Hamby even more so in Lester Higata's 20th Century) but Selasi is somewhat less so.

The alternating of past and present is sometimes less than smooth and often a little confusing. And while her choice to tell the story from a variety of perspectives is an excellent way to reveal the fractured past, all of the characters seem to be of one voice - the author's. There is no coloring of the glass, as it were, no refocusing of the voice with the change of perspective.

That all said, the same story told from beginning to end in third-person omniscient would be frustratingly boring, so I can't fault Selasi for trying. Her prose is beautiful and her phrasing poetic. Frankly, Selasi's talents might be better-suited for poetry and verse than for novel-writing.

3.19.2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I had to buy...but are still sitting on my shelf unread


Brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish: We've all done it in the past and will again in the future. So many of the unread books on my shelves (or worse, packed away in storage) were books I whined about NEEDING but then I either lost interest or forgot about them. It's a bad habit that us bookish folks can't seem to get rid of :) Here's a list of ten books that I've been ignoring for far too long:

The Lincoln Lawyer, by Michael Connelly
Seriously, I own this book, and I think everyone's read it, but me. 

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, by Mary Roach
Funny story with this one. I asked for it. My mother bought it and sent it to me. What she didn't realize was that she had purchased the audio book. Not JUST the audio book, but the audio book...wait for it... on cassette tape.

CASSETTE TAPE.

For those of you unsure as to what that is, it's one of these:
We used them back in the stone age, before the dawn of the compact disc.

The Jane Austen Mystery Series, by Stephanie Barron
To be fair, I started reading this series. And then I stopped. I had other shit to do or something. Someday...

Kingdom Keepers III: Disney in Shadow, by Ridley Pearson
Just keeps getting sidelined...in the shadows.

The Little Women Letters, by Gabrielle Donnelly
Wanted it, didn't get it, finally got it on sale during the Borders melt-down, still haven't read it. 

The Water Theatre, by Lindsay Clarke
Dunno.

Perfume, by Patrick Suskind
I love the movie they made of this. And I've had the book for a while now...and I just...haven't gotten around to it. Yet. 

The Childrens' Book, by A. S. Byatt
I started reading it in, like, January. But it's really complicated and I've put it on hold for now.

An Accident in August, by Laurence Cossé
Fell in love with Cossé's writing with A Novel Bookstore, finally got this, haven't gotten to it yet.

Jane Austen Made Me Do It, ed. by Laurel Ann Nattress
You'd think I'd have...yeah. No. It's on the short-term list, I promise. 

3.18.2013

Mailbox Monday 3.18.13

This month's Mailbox Monday is hosted by Chaotic Compendiums.

This week I received for review:

Ghana Must Go, by Taiye Selasi

Published by Penguin Press Hardcover earlier this month.

& Sons, by David Gilbert

Due out from Random House 7/23/13.

and



Due out from Random House 4/9/13.

I received the latter two from Random House as part of the Early Reviewers program at librarything.com

3.15.2013

Review: Best American Nonrequired Reading (2007), ed. by David Eggers

The Best American Nonrequired Reading - 2007
Edited by David Eggers
Introduction by Sufjan Stevens
384 pgs
Mariner Books, 2007
Whenever I pick up an anthology, I have this somewhat irrational fear that all of the stories will either a) completely relate to one another (meaning that there's a kernel of a theme I have the task of expounding on--ugh, no thank you) or, b) exist in the same stylistic world (i.e. (a + b) * c = d).

But I think that's why I was drawn to the Best American (Nonrequired Reading) Series, editied by David Eggers: the pieces included are only really tied together by their original publication date. Everything else is a matter of coincidence in the human experience.

The voices in this collection are distinct, different in style and opinion. And the format has a reader-friendly feel to it. And what's nice is, sure, some of these writers are more mainstream now (i.e. Jonathan Ames and Jennifer Egan), but many weren't necessarily as mainstream five years ago; having those voices present is not just refreshing, it's essential.

In the 2007 edition of this series, we begin with an intro by musician Sufjan Stevens who is, in his own right, a multifaceted American voice. Part I of the anthology is free of stories - it's  essentially a series of lists, setting the stage for the less-chronicled literature of the previous year.

The theme here is cynicism and humor, the lists ranging from "The Best American New Words of 2006" (with words that now, five years later, one barely thinks of as new-- words like agroterrorism and gastric bypass) and "Best American Creationist Explanations for the World's Natural Wonders" -- you could also call secularism a theme.

Part II is a mix -- fiction and nonfiction, short stories and short interviews-- all interesting, some fascinating and, mostly all, incredibly well-written. All of these pieces have their merit, but the short stories are what stuck with me. Most notably, "American" by Joshua Clark - a naturalistic take on surviving in the wake of Hurricane Katrina; "Selling the General" by Jennifer Egan - a story about parental sacrifice; and two stories about fathers and sons: "Loterìa" by Kevin A. González and "Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion an Sacrifice" by Nam Lee.

These latter two share certain similarities-- a sense of a son's abandonment and betrayal by the father, for one--but are distinct in their circumstances and style. Their ethnic flavors--one Latin American, the other Vietnamese, but both American in their pastiche and function. Neither son really forgives his father, but both come to certain terms with who he is, and how much of him is in himself, an examination in the sins of the father, if you will.

Along with the short stories, this section of nineteen pieces includes everything from the short interview format ("What's Your Dangerous Idea?") to graphic novel ("A Happy Death"), from persuasive essay ("All Aboard the Blated Boat: Arguments in Favor of Barry Bonds") to commencement speech (Conan O'Brien's Stuyvesant High School Commencement Speech) from wartime journalism ("The Big Suck: Notes from the Jarhead Underground") to memoir ("Where I Slept"). And while much of the subject matter discussed is more on the serious side, the human coincidence involved also brings in a delightful balance of humor and wit. This is definitely the kind of anthology I want in my library.


3.12.2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books at the TOP of my Spring TBR Pile


Top Ten Tuesday is brought to you by the folks at The Broke and the Bookish. 

I'm currently in the middle of two books. 
One, A. S. Byatt's The Childrens' Book, is quite the saga. There are a billion characters and too many plots for me to pin down. My attention span just can't handle it right now. I have a feeling that will be more of a summer book - the kind of thing I can go and lay out in the park or at the beach with. 

The other book I'm in the middle of is an anthology - The Best American Nonrequired Reading of 2007, edited by David Eggers. Anthologies have never really been my thing, but right now I'm really enjoying the format. 


That's why four books from this series are in my Spring TBR pile - The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2007 (reading now), 2005, 2008 and 2009. Frankly, if I can get my hands on 2006 before June, I might throw that onto the pile as well! So that's #'s 1 through 4, maybe 5. Let's say 4. 

In addition to those, I'm still kind of finding my footing again when it comes to my reading. 


For that reason, I'm adding John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things, Jack Kerouac's On the Road and Jane Austen's Persuasion (three of my favorites) to my Spring reading. I'm hoping these will provide the infusion of literature I need in order to get my brain really functioning again for longer periods of time. 

That leaves three more books to try and get through by mid-June. For that purpose, my goal will be to cover three titles from Europa Editions - 


Laurence Cossé's An Accident in August, Chad Taylor's Departure Lounge, and Edwin M. Yoder Jr's Lions at Lamb House, which I think will, in the future, simply be my excuse for never reading any Henry James. 

What's on your spring TBR pile?