A Discovery of Good Fiction

Yes, my post’s title is a play on a new release’s title. Yes, I am feeling THAT little creativity today…(usually “bite me” would be inserted here, but w/ the Bronx Zoo Cobra thing, probably not a safe expression at the moment).

As per usual, I finished one of my genre binges this past month (I was on a big historical kick, focusing first on Edwardian, then Victorian, then going back to Medieval). Having done so, I went to my ever-reliable managing editor at work, requesting a new suggestion. Her response, A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.
A Discovery of Witches (Kindle Edition)
Now, when she recommended this title she described in the following way: “It’s like The Historian meets the Twilight series.”

If you’re response to that sentence was discomfort and silence, don’t worry. So was mine.

But, seeing as she’d yet to lead me astray, and she’d been the miracle worker to introduce me to The Hunger Games, I figured I’d give her the benefit of the doubt. Have to say, second greatest choice I’ve made (first being to borrow her Kindle one weekend last Fall, leading to my love of ereaders and utter consumption of all things ebook).

If you’re like me, you enjoy a little of everything in your “Contemporary Fiction”: mystery and intrigue, romance (but not bodice ripping), adventure and excitement, and as nerdy as it sounds, something new to learn. I’m a major history fan—though I have absolutely NO brain capacity to remember anything I learn. This explains my love of biographies, sports books, and certain Dan Brown novels (no judging).

So if you are in fact like me, I absolutely recommend this one. I don’t like giving too much away, but here are some fun facts to look forward to:

  • References to the Salem Witch trails, the Crusades, the Templars, and MANY more historical conflicts
  • Travel: US (New England and New Orleans), UK (mostly Oxford w/ a little Scotland), France
  • Witches, Vampires, and Demons (oh my!)
  • Yoga, Rowing (think Crew), and a little Chess (no, its not a sport)
  • A surprisingly more comprehensive translation of Darwin’s On the Origins of Species
  • Alchemy and geneology
  • And of course—here’s where the Twilight reference comes in—forbidden love

Check it out, but be forewarned (I discovered this too late), this WILL be a series, and this first book was released in Hardcover last month. For those of you not sure what that means, it’s going to be a long wait for book two (well, long if you read more than one book a year).



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Filed under Contemporary, Paranormal, Picks by nycbookgirl, Recommendations, Twilight

Return of the Prodigal Daughter

Holy Crow it’s been a long time!

In my defense (though, really, there shouldn’t be any excuses), since I’ve been gone—morphed Kelly Clarkson lyrics—I’ve completed my Capstone for grad school (like a thesis for normal master’s students); I’ve GRADUATED from grad school w/ my MS in Publishing (*grins*); I’ve started working full-time for an ebook publisher; and I’ve moved from very South Brooklyn to more Midway Brooklyn. So there is SOME reason behind my slacking off…

Quick update on recommended books/series I’ve been reading in the meantime:

*The Hunger Games: Yes, I, like so many others, have fallen victim to this FANTASTIC series. And really, why wouldn’t you? It’s only 3 books long, so it’s not like the Harry Potter epic all over again. It’s fantastically fascinating in a “this-should-NOT-be-labelled-YA”. And it is definitely NOT another Twilight thing: 1) it does not distort the myth of a well-loved society of otherworldly creatures; 2) none (well, some but very little) of that obnoxious teen-angsty drama; and 3) at the end of book three, you actually feel complete. Besides, they’re doing a movie now, w/ the author co-writing the script, so GET TO IT!

*Solo: Okay, go ahead and blame me for promoting my own works’ ebooks, but I have to admit: I went into this one fully expecting to want to shoot myself in the face 10 pages in. Didn’t happen! I think it probably helps that I’m a closet Classical music fanatic, and this title happens to have a lot of references for some great pieces, but it was also pretty thrilling. (Go figure, since it IS a “thriller”.) If you haven’t checked out Jack Higgins before, like most of my generation/friends, try this one on for size. It might just be one-size-fits-all (though that is debatable).

*Girl in Translation: A Falling-to-be-a-Successful-Book-Club Book Club pick. A great read, especially for those of you who enjoyed Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club. Compelling store; great mother-daughter dynamic; wonderful first-account view of an immigrant in modern America; and amazing written!

*Midnight’s Master: Well, really, ANYTHING by Cynthia Eden is fantastic, but I thought I’d stick to a single title, though I LOVED the entire Midnight Sins series. She’s yet another author who has taken the vampire/shifter (werewolves and such for you non-paranormal readers)/demon/etc. world. But she does it in a way that doesn’t make me cringe w/ embarrassment for the publisher (*cough* Twilight*cough*) or shudder w/ disgust at the OBVIOUS stench of OVERDOING IT (*cough*Twilight*cough). Fun, humorous, and an overall feel-good-at-the-end read!

That’s all for now. Hopefully you’ll be hearing more VERY soon. (fingers crossed!)

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Life After Twilight…What To Read When You Finish Meyer’s Saga

There have been some obvious suggestions, focusing mostly on more vampire titles: L.J. Smith’s Vampire Diaries, which has already begun to gather a Buffy-deprived generation of follows through the CW series; Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series; the Mother-Daughter Cast pairing with the House of Night books; Blood Coven, by Mari Mancusi; or the Melissa de la Cruz collection, Blue Bloods.

Many think the that the undead obsession will shift to werewolves and zombies next. While these creatures have grown in popularity amongst the adult and humor genres, it’s not a likely contender for this younger crowd. Because really, what’s sexy about kissing a hairy dog, or a walking carcass with a fetish for brains? Granted, I could be proven wrong with the fascinating Shiver title from Maggie Steifvater.

And still others believe the undead fixation will dwindle, and allow other fantasy worlds to emerge: angels (Fallen by Lauren Kate), steampunk (Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld), faeries (Wings by Aprilynne Pike), and the return of magic (Patterson’s latest YA, Witch & Wizard).

My opinion is less concerned with WHAT to read next. Instead, look at what these titles represent to YA readers. Many of these vamp-filled titles leave much to be desired (though I could personally claim the same for Ms. Meyer’s books as well), and just don’t do justice to some of the more advanced adult fiction selections. And just because Steampunk and Zombies have been huge for the adult fiction doesn’t mean the younger readers will follow the trend. However, none of that matters. What matters is what doors this ridiculous Twilight craze has opened to a generation of potential readers. I predict that after the teens finish the Twilight saga, they’re NOT going to follow the flock anymore. S.M. did more than begin the biggest underage cult fandom since Harry Potter; she blew down the door for fantasy and make-believe to be “cool” again. The days of hiding your book cover inside your backpack and under the lunch table are over! Because if the cheerleaders and jocks give you grief for your love of extra-terrestrial romance or medieval history adventures, ask them just how many times they went to see Edward and Bella on the big screen.

So while I believe pirates, faeries, and vampires are the trends to watch, the real “win” for publishing is that kids are reading, and reading with a vengeance!

*read more on these titles at theDailyBeast

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Guest Blog

Check out my guest blog appearance at the Young Publishers Today Blog.

Look there for more guest blogging and what’s new in publishing!

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What Puts the Indie in Independent Bookseller?

With all the talk about the Price Wars of ’09 and Border’s closing of 200 Waldenbooks stores in the new year, it seems about time to take a closer look at those quaint little retailers known as the indies.

Like Godzilla on his rampage, the major chains seem to be taking over the book world as we know it, especially the online market moguls like Amazon. So do who really needs the Independent booksellers anymore?

We do.

It’s not the fantasy-land, glass-half-full ideal that indies care about the book as a book, not as a means of profit; nor is it the intangible, feel-good loyalty and trust that the 1998 chick flick “You’ve Got Mail” was dead set on encapsulating.

No, it’s a much more corporate concept: Indie’s sell the unsellable book.

Anyone can push a unit of Stephen Kings, James Pattersons, and Stephanie Meyers. But it takes the skill and tenacity of an Independent to apply the right debut author to the right niche market. With hundreds of books coming out each season of each year, it’s a wonder readers don’t have the NYT Bestseller list memorized. How else can you get in and out of the mammoth bookstore with a guaranteed good-read, and NOT spend hours scouring the shelves?

Enter the Independent. Like the Caped Crusader, these stores swoop in unexpectedly, saving us from the shallow, trashy $7 paperbacks and the $30 bricks of predictable plot-lines. Instead we discover the next Garth Stein, Greg Mortenson, and Michael Pollan. Why does it work? Because Indies have a target audience, and know, it isn’t anyone who can read. They know their books like they know their alphabet; and when it comes time to buy from the publisher, their numbers are small, but they can play a huge roll in making or breaking your book.

Let me put it this way, when buying your vegetables, who do you trust more: the Stop & Shop CEO, or the gentleman at the Farmer’s Market? (I’ve always been a bit of a farmgirl myself.)

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Consumers and Publishers Beware…ABA & the DOJ v. Amazon, Target, and Wal-Mart?

As if these three sellers don’t offer enough threat of mark-downs and discounts, now there’s suspicion of a Price War?

The American Booksellers Association issued a request for investigation to the Department of Justice yesterday, concerning the predatory price slashing that Wal-Mart, Amazon.com and Target have been battling over. Here are the essentials:

“[I]n the consumer and trade press this past week, Amazon.com, WalMart.com, and Target.com have engaged in a price war in the pre-sale of new hardcover bestsellers, including books from John Grisham, Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver, Sarah Palin, and James Patterson. These books typically retail for between $25 and $35. As of writing of this letter, all three competitors are selling these and other titles for between $8.98 and $9.00.” (for the full letter, click here).

As noted in the letter, books are a special kind of product. Their prices are printed right on the book by the publisher. Not to mention book units are already sold at a discount to the retailer.  This means retailers only have a limit to how much they can earn.

Why are these three retailing moguls doing this? From the looks of it, they’re fighting to claim as much market share as possible. Why worry about this? Because not only are smaller, less capable booksellers’ businesses threatened, but publishers need the diversity to remain in some control over how much of a discount they need to sell their products at.

This is definitely a story to keep an eye on.

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Covers of Interest

Finally back on the ball, I’ve come across some interesting covers the past few moths that I thought I’d throw out here. The first is this amazing new cover for one of Penguin’s backlist titles, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Newest Penguin cover for classic backlist

Newest Penguin cover for classic backlist

I have to say, it was never one of my favorite books, but this is a brilliant re-emergence of a classic literary work! It’s very modern, pop culture-esque look and feel. I’m a HUGE advocate for breathing new life into these brilliant works of old, and this is a wonderful way to grab the attention of a new generation. Modern adaptations are fun and all, but you can always make an old house look great with just a fresh coat of paint!

Television and Books collide

Television and Books collide

Now, this one is a bit selfish. I’m a giant fan the new show, CASTLE (Mondays, 10pm EST), both for its premise, its incorporation of the book world, and most importantly, and, of course, the ever amazing Nathan Fillion. So when I walked into Borders and found this book on one of the table displays, I knew I’d be leaving the store, book in hand.

If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it’s yet another cop show (don’t turn away yet, it gets better!), but there’s this comical author, Richard Castle, that the lead detective has been saddled with as a semi-permanent ride-along. He’s constantly getting in the way, obviously, but his great delivery, not to mention best-selling fame, make each case an hour of entertainment and joy. Kate Beckett, the dynamic detective stuck babysitting Castle, is just the thing he’s been looking for to write his new mystery series starring Nikki Heat, the lead character inspired by the red-hot cop! And to make the show even more enticing, guest appearances have already been made by the Mystery Mad Men themselves, James Patterson, Stephen Cannell, and Michael Connelly!

So to discover Hyperion actually published Richard Castle’s latest book!? You better believe I bought it!

Apparently Seth Grahame-Smith didn't go far enough

Apparently Seth Grahame-Smith didn't go far enough

Okay, so I know we’re all sick of Vampires, and we’re even MORE fed-up with Pride & Prejudice adaptations. But honestly, can you look at this and NOT want to find out more? As if adding the swarming undead to the original manuscript wasn’t enough, now we’re turning one of literature’s favorite leading man into one himself? This may just have to get a little further investigation by yours truly…

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