Thursday, May 28, 2015

Phoenix Comicon Starts Today!

LITEROLOGIE'S DON'T MISS PHOENIX COMICON AUTHOR PANELS 2015:

Thursday

3:00-4:00pm  DRAGONS AND RARE CREATURES Room North 125
7:30-8:30pm BOOKS AND AUTHORS' KICKOFF - FEATURING ARIZONA AUTHORS Room North 124

I love local authors and there are two on this dragon panel, and then the kickoff is all AZ all the time, baby!  If you haven't been to a kickoff yet, you will not be disappointed.  They are wild, crazy, and super fun.

Friday

10:30-11:30am DEL REY SPOTLIGHT Room North 124
12;00-1:00pm ATTACKING THE 9 SENSES Room North 126A
3:00-4:00pm DIALOGUE: SPEECH VS. PROSE Room North 126A
6:00-7:00pm  BUILD A STORY WITH MODERATOR RYAN DALTON Room North 125

Publisher spotlights are always a great way to see what's coming out soon and to interact with editors, authors, and decision makers.  Tom Leveen's writing workshops are ah.mazing, and if you haven't been to one, you need to go.  If you have been, they're always worth hearing again because it's always sage advice.  And any time you see Ryan Dalton's name as a moderator?  Safe bet it'll be an awesome panel.  He's a writer too and he's a fantastic mod. 

Saturday

4:30-5:30pm  DRAWING OUT THE DRAGONS WITH JAMES A. OWEN  Room North 126
12:00-1:00pm KELLEY ARMSTRONG AND MELISSA MARR SPOTLIGHT Room North 125

Drawing out the Dragons is a hands-on workshop and life lesson all wrapped into one. I'm a fan.  If you haven't been to one, you should totally go.  Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr are modern-pioneers of Young Adult Lit.  I had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa once, and she is just so great.  You won't be disappointed by either of these women, so head over and hear what they have to say. 

Sunday

10:30-11:30am UNASHAMED FULL FRONTAL NERDITY Room North 124

This one just sounds like fun, and if you're there on Sunday, it looks like a safe bet for some writerly mischief.

Exhibition Floor


Kids Need To Read (Booth 5078):  You guys, KNTR is a local and amazing charity that works tirelessly to get books in the hands of kids that don't have access to books in their homes.  Don't miss their Charity Art Auction booth - pick up something totally rad there! (Booth 5074)
Looking Glass Wars (Booth 6075):  Frank Beddor has the BEST imagination and I love his take on Alice, I mean, Alyss.  Be sure to stop by and chat with him and pick up a signed book or poster while you're there. Hatter M is a great graphic novel to dive into.  Imma fan :)
DelRey Books (Booth 16066):  Publishers are always a great way to get fun bookish swag and exclusives on what's coming up next from their lineup.
Author Row (Tables 14133-14142): Stop by and catch the authors when they aren't on a panel to chat and pick up a copy of their latest works.  It's my favorite part.

I'm unable to attend this year.  Big conventions and compromised immune systems don't really go that well together #cancersucks.  So, take a lot of pictures and tweet and instagram me, wontcha? I wanna see!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Codex Gigas: The Devil's Bibile | This Old Book

Old books with a history are kind of becoming a fascination of mine.  So, I've started a new feature: welcome to the first installment of This Old Book. 
Photo credit: Kungl. biblioteket
Was it really written in one night? Was the Devil himself responsible?

The Codex Gigas is huge.  It's 36 inches tall, 20 inches wide, and over 8 inches thick.  It weighs 165
pounds (~75 kg). It's the largest medieval manuscript known to man, and is dubbed "The Devil's Bible."  Why?  Well, it has a full-page depiction of the devil himself, you see.  And, legend has is that the Bohemian Benedictine monk who scribed it made a deal with the devil for his soul so he could finish it in one night to avoid being walled-up as a death sentence the next day. Not only that, but the pages around the devil's portrait are darker than all of the others, and the book itself has a pretty sordid history.

So, what started as penance for an unspeakable sin (so bad, whatever it was was never even recorded), ultimately became the life's work of a single monk.  A few decades after it was finished, the black-cloaked Bohemian Benedictine monastery near Podlažice fell into financial trouble.  In order to settle some of that trouble, they decided to sell the book to the white-cloaked Cistercians Sedlec Monastery (that's the one with all the bones!).  After the black death hit Sedlec, the Cistercians sold the Codex back to the Benedictine monks near Broumov.  There it stayed, until Holy Roman Emporer, Rudolph II, obsessed with the occult and mystical arts, showered favors upon the Broumov monks until they happily sent the Codex to Rudolph II as a gift.  He had it housed in his collections in Prague.  He was so engulfed with his religious education that he completely failed as Holy Roman Emprorer, and at the end of the Thirty Years' War, the Swedes took the Codex Gigas home to their King, Kristina.  (Yes, you read that right, their KING, who was a WOMAN.  Swedish girl power is so stinking awesome!)  She listed it first on her account of all of the spoils the Swedes seized as part of their war.  It was housed in Sweden, even after Kristina abdicated, where it was saved from a blaze by a servant who threw it out a window.

The National Geographic special, "The Truth Behind the Devil's Bible", (embedded below), shows the complex processes a team of scientists went through to determine if the book was written by one person.  It seemed impossible given that it was eerily perfect, and that it would have likely taken one man nearly 30 years to complete.  Twenty at minimum.  And since these compilations were usually done as penance at the end of a monk's day, it seems supernatural that one man could have done it. They determined that it was though, written by Hermann Inclusus. Based on the insect-derived ink used from beginning to end, the graphology (specifically its lowercase g), its amateur quality when compared to other works done by groups of monks in the same period, and what appears to be a posthumous credit for Hermann.  Inclusus translates as recluse, giving the scholars a glint into how he was able to complete it.  It was his life's work.  It's what he did as a solitary monk.

What's inside is the complete Old and New Testaments of the bible, followed by conjurations and excorcisms, advice to care for one's body and mind and eternal soul, and cures for dangerous illnesses.  There is nothing like it in all of history, which of course, scares a lot of people.  It's seemingly supernatural ability to be completed, survive, and age well.

The pages around the devil (which is opposite a page depicting the kingdom of heaven) are darker because they are made of vellum, which is animal skin, which tans in UV light, and that means, that it isn't just modern-day people that are obsessed with the picture of the devil inside, it's been an obsession from the start.

I think it's a beautiful book.  And I loved learning its history.  If you have 45 minutes to spare and want to learn more, watch the special below.


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Sources:
1. Tilstra, Elizabeth. "The Dark Legend Of The Devil's Bible".  The Lineup. Web. 23 May 2015. <http://www.the-line-up.com/devils-bible/>.

2. The Truth Behind the Devil's Bible. Dir. Robert MIchaels. By Amanda Gronich. Perf. Dominic Monaghan. National Geographic, 2008. Web. YouTube/The Truth Behind - The Truth Behind the Devil's Bible. National Geographic, 14 Dec. 2008. Web. 25 May 2015.

3. "Codex Gigas." Wikipedia. Ed. Worldcat. Wikimedia Foundation, 23 May 2015. Web. 25 May 2015.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella | Review

Finding Audrey is a unique and fascinating account of mending, love, and evolution within a family unit that will keep you reading and interested the entire way through.

Audrey addresses you, the reader, to tell her story, in a clever use of second-person narrative by Kinsella.  She just happens to leave out the inciting incident, which is okay, because even though you as the reader desperately want to know what happened to make her the way she is?  Knowing would be poison to her story.  It's not about what happened to make Audrey stay in her room, unable to make eye-contact with even her closest family members.  It's a story about growth, for an entire family, and it's told beautifully.

Most YA tales eliminate the need for a parent by making them absent or impotent.  This usually allows for the main character to step-in and become the decision maker and adult in whatever situation the character finds him- or herself.  Finding Audrey isn't just a tale about Audrey though.  It's a story about her family, and how they circle around and protect each other, even when they come off as outright crazy in the process.

Audrey's mom does read as nuts.  Her dad is happier to not make waves and focus on his dream car.  Her littlest brother, Felix, is clueless as to what's going on (and really, acts more like my two-year-old than any four-year-old I've met, but that stays in line with the family crisis, I suppose).  And her just-barely younger brother, Frank, is somehow still very aware of and supportive of Audrey's anti-sociality than you want to give him credit for.

Ultimately, the story is constructed in such a clever way that the technical mishaps didn't seem to matter to me at all.  They were a way to achieve an end, an end that I didn't see coming, but is totally believable, and an end that satisfied me completely.  It would be a fantastic beach read, and an even more amazing mother/daughter team read.  So go ahead, preoder it.  It drops June 9th.

Also, and very happy to me, was the pure Britishness of this book.  It's always fun to experience other cultures through literature, and this book is no exception.  I got to google products like Lemsip, Shreddies, Ribena, and Nurofen. It was delightful.  It is also full of British slang, some of which I had to google to figure out.  To me, that's fun.  I hope it is for you too.

Parents:  While Audrey's parents are involved, and protective, and whatnot, they do come off as silly and weird sometimes.  There are about twelve instances of the "F" word, and a lot of British swearing that may not count as swearing in the US.  Audrey deals with extreme anxiety and depression, so be involved if your child/teen also has these tendencies.  Some of her self-talk may validate others' suicidal thoughts.  It's not, "I should kill myself."  More like, "Why do I even exist?" It may not be harmful, but I want to point out that it's there, so that you can talk about it if need be.

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If you want to keep up with what's going on behind the scenes here at Literologie, make sure to follow me on Instagram.  I post pictures of our books, bookish life, and adventures from the rest of life that doesn't show up on the blog.  You'll see the books we're reading, (sometimes the books we're hating), our quotes of the week, and pictures from bookish events we go to, and other fun bookish memes that we participate in... Like an giveaway on June 9th for a fun pair of shades, Audrey-style.  You're not gonna want to miss that!


Disclaimer: I was provided with an advance copy of this book at no charge.  My review is based on this copy, and the finished product may differ from the book I read, but all opinions are my own and are not influenced by any outside source.  All purchase links are affiliate links from which I get a smidgen of commission.   

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Heir by Kiera Cass | Review

"Mark me down as skeptical."  That's what I said when I heard there was a FOURTH Selection novel coming out.  I preordered it, of course.  If nothing else, I knew it would look fabulous on my bookshelf. I mean, the whole reason I preordered read The Selection in the first place was that stinking gorgeous amazing dress on the cover!

About a week before THE HEIR launched, I had a conversation with my sister-in-law about how I really still didn't have my hopes up.

This smashed my hopes.  I mean, really.  They were low.  But, what Kiera Cass did was take a new generation, in the same world, and made me care just as much about future Queen Eadlyn (even though I hated her at first) as I did America Singer, five.  And then, as you would expect from the series, the ending left me wanting more. Right now.  It actually left me in tears, but that's gonna get chalked up to hormones.

Of course, I did have issues with the book.  The name of the main character.  I hate the name Eadlyn.  Hate.  I didn't like that after all of the progress Maxson had made, he and America still didn't have a grasp on how to work with the people of Illea.  I felt like that was unrealistic.  Like after several years why woulnd't they have set up some sort of self-government system that was subject to them?  I mean, the name America and its forbidden history have to come into play somewhere, why would it take more than 20 years?

The things I did like, though?  Eady is most definitely her own character.  This Selection is nothing like the last.  And though the major surprise romance is not a surprise to anyone who has ever read a book, it's more interesting than I anticipated it would be after Chapter One.

Will I read the next?  Certainly.  Should you keep reading the series?  Depends.  Did you like the first one?  Did you want a spunkier character?  Eady is super fierce.  Go with your gut, you probably won't be disappointed either way.

Parents:  I can't really think of anything that I should warn you about.  I will update if I come across any notes I missed while reading.  

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Quote of the Week: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins


Yes, that's a picture of THE Notre Dame Cathedral.  Yes, that's a popular and significant place in Isla and the Happily Ever After (the third companion in Stephanie Perkins' series that starts with Anna and the French Kiss).  Many thanks to my bestie, Tawnya Hansen, for letting me use her photo.  

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Love And Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander

Charlie is a nerd.  He goes to a special STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) school called Brighton and is the second-best student in his class.  The only person brighter than him?  His best friend, Greta.  He hangs out mostly with her and her boyfriend James.  Until this year, that is.  When he is in line for a coffee before school and sees a girl with a confuddling tattoo on her neck.  It's an infiniti sign with the word "hope" worked into it.  He reaches out, brushes her hair aside, and touches it.  See, I told you.  Nerd.

What ensues, is a crazy love story with a quirky protagonist with whom you will just fall in love.  There's an equally quirky girl for him to fall for, a lot of tension and conflict, and a plot that while predictable, is still enjoyable.  I have seen this compared to The Fault In Our Stars so many times.  It's not that.  It's a different animal altogether, which explores different themes and different nuances of relationships.  But, there is a character that is terminally sick with cancer, so some people lump all cancer fiction together, I guess.

This book though?  It's about life after cancer.  Life after it claims someone you love.  Being brave enough to fall in love even though you know it will end badly.  Learning how to move on from someone once they've lost their battle.  And while I found this exploration valiant and very real, I had a very hard time with it.  You all know by now that I'm going through chemotherapy myself after having some cancer removed from my body.  I was devouring this book until I found out that the illness was cancer.  In the end though,  I loved these characters, these rare gems of characters, and that's what took me through to the end.  Also?  The parallels between this and To Kill A Mockinbird?  Not subtle.  You'll be hard pressed to miss them.

Lastly, a little tip.  Pay attention to the way the chapters are numbered.  It is probably my favorite part.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Five (+) Books For Mom This Mothers' Day From My Personal Wishlist


Yeah, you've still got time to shop for mom.  And since I'm a bookish mom, I thought I'd share some of the books I have on my wishlist... maybe they'll sound good to your mom too?  I've inlcuded five (+) non-fiction books with their jacket descriptions and the reasons I want them, and a word of caution or two if applicable about getting them for your mom.

At the very least, you'll learn a little bit more about me, right?  At best, you'll find the perfect book for your mom this Mother's Day.  You still have time to ring up your local Indie to see if they have what you want in stock, and you probably still have time to order from BN or Amazon if you have 2-day shipping if your Indie is a no-go.  Good luck and happy shopping!

1.  The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

This #1 New York Times best-selling guide to decluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing. 
Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles? 
Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list). 
With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international bestseller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

Why Is This On My List?  Because I am horrible at tidying up.  It's true.  I can organize the crud out of an event or a bunch of people, but when it comes to my stuff?  I'm kinda hopeless.  So, I take inspiration where I can get it.  And this method kinda intrigues me.  So, I wanna learn.
The Caution:  You might not want to get this for her if she's sensitive about her housekeeping methods.  You don't want to make her feel bad.  But, if she's on a clutter cleanse or is moving soon, or something of the sort, this could totally be thoughtful.


2. How To Write Awesome Dialogue!  by Tom Leveen

Outstanding dialogue is often the difference between a good book and a great book. How does yours stack up? With seven books published with imprints of Random House, Abrams, and Simon & Schuster, and more than twenty years of experience as an actor and director, author and writing teacher Tom Leveen guides you through everything you need to make your dialogue shine! ~ Learn how to start with a solid plot and conflict to form the foundation of awesome dialogue ~ Discover actors’ techniques to give your characters strength and purpose ~ Improve on setting scenes and building relationships between characters ~ and more!
Why Is This On My List?  I sat through Tom's dialogue seminar that he gave at Phoenix Comicon last year.  It. Was. Amazing.  Plus, have you read any of his books?  Sometimes I get it in my head that I'd like to write a novel before I die.  I think this will probably sit on my shelf so that I can reference it when I need some help with a character's direction.  And at $8.95, it's a steal.
The Caution: I don't really see any drawbacks to this one.  If your mom is an aspiring writer of any type, be it theater or screen or novels, I'm sure she could use some of Tom's advice.  And if she already knows what's going on in this?  It'd be a great reminder.

3.  The Library: A World History  by James W.P. Campbell

A library is not just a collection of books, but also the buildings that house them. As varied and inventive as the volumes they hold, such buildings can be much more than the dusty, dark wooden shelves found in mystery stories or the catacombs of stacks in the basements of academia. From the great dome of the Library of Congress, to the white façade of the Seinäjoki Library in Finland, to the ancient ruins of the library of Pergamum in modern Turkey, the architecture of a library is a symbol of its time as well as of its builders’ wealth, culture, and learning.

Architectural historian James Campbell and photographer Will Pryce traveled the globe together, visiting and documenting over eighty libraries that exemplify the many different approaches to thinking about and designing libraries. The result of their travels, The Library: A World History is one of the first books to tell the story of library architecture around the world and through time in a single volume, from ancient Mesopotamia to modern China and from the beginnings of writing to the present day. As these beautiful and striking photos reveal, each age and culture has reinvented the library, molding it to reflect their priorities and preoccupations—and in turn mirroring the history of civilization itself. Campbell’s authoritative yet readable text recounts the history of these libraries, while Pryce’s stunning photographs vividly capture each building’s structure and atmosphere.

Together, Campbell and Pryce have produced a landmark book—the definitive photographic history of the library and one that will be essential for the home libraries of book lovers and architecture devotees alike.

Why Is This On My List?  I can't think of a better way to de-stress than to sit down with a collection of beautiful libraries and drool.  Just the thought of curling up with this baby summons a calm I can't really articulate and an excitement that I can't really contain.
The Caution:  This is expensive.  Like Amazon's price on it is nearly $50.  But, I'd rather have this book than go to five movies, so if your mom is like me that way?  This is a sure win.

4. Salumi: The Craft of Italian Dry Curing by Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn

Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn inspired a revival of artisanal sausage making and bacon curing with their surprise hit, Charcuterie. Now they delve deep into the Italian side of the craft with Salumi, a book that explores and simplifies the recipes and techniques of dry curing meats. As the sources and methods of making our food have become a national discussion, an increasing number of cooks and professional chefs long to learn fundamental methods of preparing meats in the traditional way. Ruhlman and Polcyn give recipes for the eight basic products in Italy’s pork salumi repertoire: guanciale, coppa, spalla, lardo, lonza, pancetta, prosciutto, and salami, and they even show us how to butcher a hog in the Italian and American ways. This book provides a thorough understanding of salumi, with 100 recipes and illustrations of the art of ancient methods made modern and new. 100 illustrations; 16 pages of color photographs

Why Is This On My List?  I have this crazy goal of learning charcuterie.  I want to learn how to make meats into other meats and preserve them.  It's a long-term goal, sure.  But, I need to start somewhere.  And when I was looking for books to help teach me how?  This one got excellent reviews.  So, it's parked on my wishlist until someone gifts it to me.
The Caution:  Obviously not for your vegan or vegetarian mom.  Also, not for the mom who buys books to learn how to do something but never does?  I've successfully learned how to do a lot of home preservation from books, so this is just like a step up for me.

5. The Book of Barely Imagined Beings: A 21st Century Bestiary by Caspar Henderson

From medieval bestiaries to Borges’s Book of Imaginary Beings, we’ve long been enchanted by extraordinary animals, be they terrifying three-headed dogs or asps impervious to a snake charmer’s song. But bestiaries are more than just zany zoology—they are artful attempts to convey broader beliefs about human beings and the natural order. Today, we no longer fear sea monsters or banshees. But from the infamous honey badger to the giant squid, animals continue to captivate us with the things they can do and the things they cannot, what we know about them and what we don’t. 
With The Book of Barely Imagined Beings, Caspar Henderson offers readers a fascinating, beautifully produced modern-day menagerie. But whereas medieval bestiaries were often based on folklore and myth, the creatures that abound in Henderson’s book—from the axolotl to the zebrafish—are, with one exception, very much with us, albeit sometimes in depleted numbers. The Book of Barely Imagined Beings transports readers to a world of real creatures that seem as if they should be made up—that are somehow more astonishing than anything we might have imagined. The yeti crab, for example, uses its furry claws to farm the bacteria on which it feeds. The waterbear, meanwhile, is among nature’s “extreme survivors,” able to withstand a week unprotected in outer space. These and other strange and surprising species invite readers to reflect on what we value—or fail to value—and what we might change. 
A powerful combination of wit, cutting-edge natural history, and philosophical meditation, The Book of Barely Imagined Beings is an infectious and inspiring celebration of the sheer ingenuity and variety of life in a time of crisis and change. 

Why Is This On My List? It seems like another book to get lost in, but this time in an imagination capacity.  I feel like this could inspire me, move me, intrigue me, entertain me, and take over me, all at the same time.  I feel like it would be a wonderful thing to look at with my toddler - something that could keep both of us engaged and inspire all kinds of play.
The Caution: It's probably not for the mom who tells you that art is a waste of time.  Other than that, I can't really see why she wouldn't want it, unless she already has it.

5 more books on my wishlist: 

(click to view on Amazon)