Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Lighthouse in Wintertide

Sean Harris BGN
In lieu of a Best Bets post for the holidays, The Literary Bookie offers you a meditation on our times by S.E. Toon. Just click the Tales by Toon tab at the top of the page and enjoy. If it touches you in any way please comment and share with others. 
Wishing you a blessed new year. 
I encourage you to sign up for the email alert so that each time there is a new post you will be notified. Don't worry, its only once a week and we DO NOT share lists. (If you are signed in through Google you can join us that way. The Bookie will resume giving you the best bets for new books starting January 8th.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Here are a few extra Best Bets to finish your Holiday shopping.
No diatribe, no clever phrasing, Just suggestions for Holiday-themed Gift Books (the good list) and people on your list that jumped on the 50 Shades of Grey bandwagon (the very naughty list). For more lists check out the last two weeks posts.
Have a blessed holiday season, hold your loved ones close, and please, please either read to them or with them. It is there you will find the hearth to keep you warm and light your way.

  Christmas Gift Books
 Being Santa Claus:What I Learned About the True Meaning of Christmas 
by Sal Lizard, Jonathan Lane
Truth told, the Literary Bookie was a mall Santa one year but fades in comparison to this hand core Kris Kringle. 20 year veteran Sal Lizard (what a great alias for Santa, right?) tell us the funny and emotional tales of his years in the big chair. For him being Santa is year round state of mind. After you you read this, Virgina, you will finally believe.
(Little Brown)
Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
Dear is the darker side of working the Enchanted Village. Reading Sedaris’s take on his year as an elf at Macy’s elf has become an annual tradition (as is reading Dicken's A Christmas Carol but I digress) You get Halloween and Easter stories in the lot but his fictionalized memoirs of the Christmas season is worth the scratch. This new edition also includes 6 tales previously unpublished. (the bookie might have to buy it again just for that and donate the other copy to a charity...ALWAYS a good idea!)
Scared of Santa: Scenes of Terror in Toyland 
by Denise Joyce and Nancy Watkins 
I think the reason that the film A Christmas Story has become so popular is the dream sequence of getting your picture taken with the Man in Red (OK, that and the pole scene). The almost always traumatic event is captured in found photographs making for a hilarious stocking stuffer. Relive the horrors of your past or the fresh ones you just subjected your young'uns to.
(Abrams/Harry M)
Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Book: The Definitive Guide to Getting Your Ugly On  
by Brian Miller, Adam Paulson, Kevin Wool, Glenn Gontha
One of the two party themes I've always wanted to do is the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party (The other is a Christmas in August party). Here is the guide book to throwing your own event. It is also a Rogue's Gallery of hideous weaving with sic names like  Scarf Face, Wreath Witherspoon, and Ryan Treecrest. Join team ugly and get your ug on!
A Christmas Home by Greg Kincaid
 A little bit of Christmas Cheese but just the thing for the dog lover with a hankering for inspirational romance. A dog named Christmas bounds his troubled owner Todd to Laura, a woman with disabilities that Christmas is trained to help. The cliff looms in this book too causing people to abandon dogs at Todd's shelter, then his funding falls through and he has to find homes for his wards by New Years. Sniff. Sniff. (yes, even the bookie can squeak a tear)

McCray, hero of A Dog Named Christmas, is now twenty-four years old and working at a local animal shelter, where he meets and quickly becomes best friends with Laura, a young volunteer. Laura, like Todd, has disabilities of her own, but her struggles are more physical than developmental. Their friendship is sealed when Todd—with the help of his trusted companion, the tenacious Labrador retriever named Christmas—trains a beautiful dog named Gracie to help Laura with the day-to-day life tasks that are difficult for her.
            Life seems good for Todd, but all is not well in his hometown. Struggling families unable to make ends meet are abandoning more and more dogs, and the shelter is swelling to capacity.  The local government is struggling to meet its obligations too, and in early December, on the cusp of another holiday season, Todd’s boss delivers the bad news.  Due to funding problems, the shelter will close its doors before the end of the year.  But what will happen to all the animals?
   As the Christmas holiday approaches, Todd has limited time to find homes for all the dogs. Not to mention that he needs to secure a new job and figure out what to do when his friendship with Laura takes an unexpected romantic turn. All this seems overwhelming unless you’ve got a loving family, dedicated friends, and a couple of very special dogs behind you. In which case, nothing is impossible.

Christmas Parade by Sandra Boynton
Biddy BOOM, Biddy BOOM, Biddy BOOM! As noisy as a child's Christmas present with a fresh pack of batteries this new classic from the master of drawing funny animals. Its a parade so this book should be read loud and boisterous, kiddos encouraged to join in the fracas. Big plus, the little ones learn animals and musical instruments. This is one book you will be asked to read again and again until you are compelled to hide it away for a while

50 Shades of Christmas
(Clarkson Potter)
Fifty Shades of Chicken by F L Fowler
Dripping Thighs,  Bacon-Bound Wings, Spatchcock Chicken, Learning-to-Truss-You Chicken, Mustard-Spanked Chicken, you get the picture. Not just the titles get the S&M treatment, even the descriptions are written in a saucy manner."This isn’t just about getting me hot till my juices run clear, and then a little rest. There’s pulling, jerking, stuffing, trussing." Part spoof joke gift for the E.L. James fan on your list and part recipe book with legitimately decent recipes, this twisted documentation of the education of  Miss Chicken is sure to be the hit of your office party (if its a family gathering, keep it on the hush-hush)
(Cleis Press)
Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire 
edited by Mitzi Szereto
 Where this might not hold up well to critics of sword and socery fiction or for that fact fans of erotic writing, it will prove a hoot for fans of Game of Thrones AND 50 Shades of Grey. Kings and Queens, knights and princesses, even mystical beings; they all get their groove on in this collection of overheated romances. You will crack a smile when the narrative switches from conventional storytelling to the erotic. Naughty fun for the Dungeon and Dragons crowd.

(St. Martin's)
Jane Eyre Laid Bare by Eve Sinclair
I'm with you, I'm am so sick of the the latest trend of mash-up novels, books that combine polar opposte styles together (example, Pride Prejudice and Zombies) Her we have a lierary classic getting the 50 Shades treatment. Again, give this book as more of a novelty than as a legitimate read. Brontë's writing was steamy and passionate enough before but wowzie, this version of Jane's seuxal education under the hands of Mr. Rodchester, I mean Rochester will make you blush.
Story of O by Pauline Réage
You can actually find a free version of this novel online if you choose. If you really liked 50 Shades of Grey then its time to stop reading glorified fan fiction and real the real thing. Once banned, this tale of the willful debasement of a young Parisian beauty who wants nothing more than to be a slave to her lover, sets the standard that all erotic literature must be measured by. E.L. James may have broken all kinds of records for the sale of trade paperbacks but her writing fades when compared to a master.
(Penguin Classics)
Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Here's where it began, the novel as the grand taboo. Less whip me, beat me, make me give bad presents, more unbridled passion that reads from the page with such honesty that the controversial novel is considered one of the most significant literary works of its time. Anybody have a cigarette?


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Best Book Bets - Children's Xmas Edition

Yes Virginia, There is a Literary Bookie!
Alas! Best Bets for the young'uns on your list. 
Books: one size fits all and you don't need batteries.

NEXT WEEK: New Best Bests for the month
12/25- Literary Bookie's Best of 2012 

(Random House)
The Age of Miracles
by Karen Thompson Walker 
CLOTH. 11 year old Julia discovers that the earth rotation is slowing. Her family life and her first love as the world dies around her proves just as disrupting. 

Dare Me by Megan Abbott
CLOTH. Attack of the Killer Cheerleaders? Really Mean Girls? Teen Girl Fight Club?  Friendships are tested by an new edgy cheerleader coach. Riveting, real, and written with the urgency of adolescence.
After Eli by Rebecca Ruff 
CLOTH. An older brother dies at war and a younger brother builds a Book of the Dead to deal with the emotional damage of his loss and in turn finds the value in his own life.
(Reagan Arthur)
Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller and Zach Stentz
CLOTH. Our autistic narrator uses his unique gifts to unravel clues to a crime and partners with the school bully who has been wrongly accused.
 Four Secrets by Margaret Willey 
CLOTH. Four girls make a pact to take revenge on king bully at their school but Secrets are fragile things, hard to keep and promises even easier to break.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
CLOTH. Two late teens, both doomed to the ravenges of advanced cancer strike up a relationship and learn the importance of living the lives they have.
Burning Blue by Paul Griffin
CLOTH. A tale of love, beauty and obsession; a wealthy and beautiful girl is deformed by acid thrown by an unknown assailant. A school geek who sees himself as a freak himself, decides to use his geekish prowess to avenge her.
My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher 
CLOTH. Jamie's sister died five years ago in a terrorist bombing. With quirky humor and brutal honesty he fights to come out from the shadow of the vase of remains.  
The End of Everything by Megan Abbott
TRADE PAPER. Megan Abbott again (what a year!) A haunting tale of innocence lost, 13 year old Lizzie’s suburban life is shattered when her BFF goes missing and she discovers dark secrets never shared.  

Son by Lois Lowry  
CLOTH. The finale of The Giver series does not disappoint. In a land devoid of emotion pregnant women are vessels not mothers, and offspring, product, not children. Still, the government can't refuse what the heart wants.
This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
CLOTH. Teen angst is far scarier than a Zombie apocalypse. One girl who welcomes the end of the world fights alongside her peers who embrace to life. Together they discover that some monsters aren’t the undead.
 Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
 CLOTH. Jam-packed with enough punk mythos it will make your mind, the tale of Karou, the Daughter of Smoke and Bone continues. Doomed to make monsters and collecting teeth for Brimstone, she breaks free fight for love and freedom from darkness.
(St. Martins/Griffin)
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater 
CLOTH. A refreshing take on the romance; whomever she falls in love with will die, but Gansey can’t help falling for a bad boy on an otherworldly quest.
 Break My Heart a 1000 Times by  Daniel Water 
CLOTH. Ghosts in the new millennium are real and all around us but not everyone comes back. This inventive variation on haunting will creep you out.
Ashen Winter by Mike Mullen
CLOTH. A boy and girl go it alone through the Distopian landscape that was once Iowa battling a dying earth and the deadliest monster in the desolation, man.
(Feiwel & Friends)
Cinder by Marissa Meyer

CLOTH. Mash-ups are dead, long live a creative reboot! Cinder is a cyborg that falls for a human prince only to find that she aspires to break taboos, dismantling is sure to follow.
Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
 CLOTH. Two spooky & heartfelt stories tell of the ancestral curse of the mermaid, if you fall in love, you die. One girl in Plymouth, MA was confront her destiny. 
The Turning by Francine Prose  
CLOTH. Haunted house, ghostly kiddos; the line between reality and madness grows thin in Jack the babysitter’s mind. This revamped Turning of the Screw that maintains the unsettling timbre of the original.

(Del Ray)
Railsea by China Mieville
CLOTH. We follow a blood-stained boy in a land where oceans are now desert wastelands in this steampunk re-imagining of Melville's Moby Dick.

Jepp, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh
CLOTH. The existential fairy tale of consummate underdog, Jepp, a dwarf, who battles who the Spanish Infanta fueled by the magic of the limitless potential in life.

Goblin Secrets by William Alexander
CLOTH. The surreal National Book winner with a witch who collects stray children and a boy who hides among goblins to find his brother is as much about family as it is about monsters that populate his world.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
YOUNG ADULT/CLOTH. You will root for August, born with a facial deformity, as he faces the fifth grade from the very first line, "I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse."
(Feiwel & Friends)
Who Could That Be At This Hour? by  Lemony Snicket 
CLOTH. He's back!!! Read at your own peril the first of Snicket's All The Wrong Questions quasi-autobiography is another feat of subversive children's storytelling. Truths best untold, secrets of secret societies best kept on the hush-hush!The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente, illus. by Ana Juan  
CLOTH. The line between right and wrong blurs in the darkly magical world of the complex heroine September as she continues her journey through the nether world of Fairyland to free her shadow. Cool and creepy illustrations help tell the tale.
A is For Musk Ox by Erin Cabatingan
CLOTH. Musk Ox claims every letter his as he and a zebra gnaw their way through this hilarious take on alphabet books.
Sleep Like a Tiger  by Mary Logue illus. by Pamela Zagarenski 
CLOTH. A not-so-sleepy child embraces her wild side in this flight through the jungle of the imagination.Zagarenski is a Caldecott Award winner as well.
Jangles, a Big Fish Story by David Shannon
CLOTH. The biggest fish in Big Lake befriends the small boy at the other side of the fishing line. You will be hooked by the lavish pictures and inventive plot twist.
(Scholastic/Blue Sky)
This is Not my Hat by Jon Klassen
CLOTH. Another fish tale by a storybook big wig. This time with a minnow of a fish wearing a snazzy hat leads us through clever drawings and word play.Ralph Tell a Story  by Abby Hanlon
CLOTH. With a little help from his friends, a boy with writers block finds the narrative of his life is in the little things.
Potterwookie by Obert Skye
CLOTH. Take the worlds of Harry Potter and Star Wars, put them in a blender and you get a silly book about a boy who's monster in his closet turns out to big, well, kind of a Hogwort's wookie.
A Flower in the Snow by Tracey Corderoy, illus. Sophie Alsopp
CLOTH. Stephen Colbert who definitely not recommend this delicate and beautiful tale of the friendship between a girl and her best friend who happens to be a polar bear.
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems
CLOTH. It looks like the little girl from Knuffle Bunny takes on the leading role in this storybook that turns the fairy tale on its head. 
Good News, Bad News by Jeff Mack
CLOTH. Akin to Willems Elephant and Piggie rabbit and mouse are polar opposites of disposition but share one thing in common, each other. Funny phrases will become a new favorite.
Cat Tale by Michael Hall
CLOTH. Lovely play on words as we follow three cats during an afternoon of snacking and reading. To these cats, words are catnip.
Return To The Willows by Jacqueline Kelly, illus. by Clint Young  
CLOTH. Wind in the Willows is re-booted in this long overdue sequel reverently written and accompanied by breathtaking illustrations that have an almost CGI clarity.
Read-Aloud Classics: 24 Ten-Minute Selections from the World's Best-Loved Children's Books edited by Pamela Horn 

CLOTH. Great to read, great introduction to children's classics, stoke that reading fire!

Dinosaur vs Santa by Bob Shea 
TRADE PAPER. When I think Yuletide I think... dinosaurs? Jurrasic Park isn't exactly the North Pole but you and I know, kids love Christmas, kids love dinosaurs.. Yahtzee!
How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah?  
by Jane Yolan, illus. Mark Teague  
CLOTH. If it works for Christmas...The dynamic duo of storybooks take on the Festival of Lights. Yolan writing is touching and you just marvel at the detail and the emotions conveyed by Teague's scale-covered children.
The Night Before Christmas, Deep Under The Sea by Kathie Kelleher, illus. Dan Andreasen
CLOTH. For any family who's home hugs the coast, an aquatic menagerie of gifts for the next Jacque Cousteau on your list.

A Pirate's Twelve Days of Christmas 
by Phillip Yates, illus. Sebastia Serra 
CLOTH. If its not dinosaurs, it's pirates, am I right? Staring with a pirate in a palm tree, the classic song gets the scallwah treatment. The Bookie says Arrrg!
The Iciest, Diciest, Scariest Sled Ride Ever! 
by Rebecca Rule, illus. by Jennifer Thermes
CLOTH. Here's a great non-denominational wintertime celebration. Rule adds a touch of New England in her story of seven children taking on the scariest snow-covered hill in town.
Fisher-Price Lift-the-Flap Christmastime is Here! edited by Ellen Weiss, illust. bySI Artists
CLOTH. Its a flap book! Its an Advent calendat! Its an activity book! Its a lot of fun!
Twas the Night Before Christmas or Account of A Visit From St. Nicholas, illust. by Matt Tavare
CLOTH. Candlewick Press gives us this gift edition of Clement C. Moore's classic attributing the poem to anonymous (as it was when originally published in a newspaper in 1823.) The black and white illustrations are equally as reverent, and, yes Virginia, smoke does circle his head like a wreath! This book is intimate in size and has all the makings of a heirloom that will be passed from generation to generation.