Marissa Meyer | Cinder

January 4, 2012

Review by Margaret Brennan Neville

Editor’s note: Meet Meyer when she reads from and signs her book, Wednesday, January 11, 7 p.m.

Cinder, Marissa Meyer

Debut author Meyer takes Cinderella into the future with enough twists and turns to keep readers very interested. Her Cinder is a Cyborg, a second class citizen with a really nasty stepmother. New Beijing has a lot of problems, including a plague and impending threat of invasion from the lunar queen. Readers are going to be clamoring for the sequel because we will all want to know how Cinder actually gets Prince Kai. Fun read! – Macmillan, $17.99, (for ages 12 and up)

Eat, drink and be scary!

October 27, 2011

“Where there is no imagination there is no horror.”   Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

There is an abundant crop of imaginative new dystopian fiction for young adults ready to harvest this fall, and we’d like to tell you a bit more about 3 of our favorites…

Ashes, Ilsa J. Bick
Dystopic books rule, and this book is the new king of the pile! Alexandra is in the back country to spread her parents’ ashes at a favorite spot, when the world she knows comes to an end. An Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) is broadcast across the world, and the consequences are devastating. Alex is witness to the death of 10-year-old Ellie’s grandfather. Later, when they are attacked by deranged humans, they are rescued by Tom, and this fledgling “family” must somehow learn to survive on this new and terrible version of Earth. When the three decide to walk out of the woods to find other survivors, the tale becomes even more compelling and fast-paced—and a little creepy. Readers will be clamoring for the sequel.  – Margaret Brennan Neville, Egmont, $17.99 (14 and up) Limited signed copies available.

The Death Cure, James Dashner
As the final installment in James Dashner’s Maze Runner trilogy, The Death Cure does not disappoint. The mind-eating virus, nick-named The Flare, is steadily infecting those closest to Thomas. With close friends now infected, Thomas is forced to hastily decide whether or not he will help WICKED, the government organization set in place to find a cure for the ravening disease, or if he should instead stick with his gut and get as far away from WICKED’s headquarters as geographically possible. Just as The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trial hooked readers on the fast-paced and multi-adventurous narrative, The Death Cure will keep readers glued to its pages from start to finish. – Rachel Heath, Delacorte, $17.99 (12 and up) Limited signed copies available.

Crossed, Ally Condie
Local author Ally Condie’eagerly awaited sequel to Matched has been worth the wait! Readers get to hear both Ky and Cassia’s point of view in alternating chapters. Both characters are willing to take risks, to find the other. In the much harsher environment of the Outer Province, Ky struggles to save his own life, and Cassia is desperate to find him. But Xander is not out of the picture, and he surprises Cassia over and over again. The twists and turns of the story bring this dystopian love story to a surprising place. This is a sequel that lives up to the excitement and promise of the first book, a very difficult thing to do!  — Margaret Brennan Neville, $17.99, Penguin (12 and up) Meet Ally and get your copy signed at the bookstore on Tuesday, November 1 at 7 p.m.

Join the Virtual Read-out!

September 26, 2011

The centerpiece of this year’s Banned Books Week celebration (Sept. 24-Oct. 1) is a virtual read-out. Everyone is invited to create a video of themselves reading from their favorite banned or challenged book and upload it to a special Banned Books Week channel. Videos of challenged authors and other celebrities will be also posted on the YouTube channel. More information about the read-out is available here and here.

Celebrate the freedom to read!

Garth Stein!

September 16, 2011

We were treated to an extraordinary evening with Garth Stein on Wednesday, September 14. The author of The New York Times bestseller, The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein was kind, funny and generous. Speaking to a standing-room only crowd of 150, he read the opening paragraphs of his beloved book, and then went on to discuss his muse (his wife, and she is not a muse in the way you might think), his inspiration for the book (reincarnation and a Billy Collins poem, “The Revenant”), the wild parrots of Seward Park, WA, and his “intimate” tour of the Ferrari factory R&D department. He was disarming, engaging, and utterly likeable.

He also spoke about the need for bookstores and libraries to create a healthy and vibrant community, some of which I captured on video:

The truly crowning achievement of the evening was our partnership with No More Homeless Pets in Utah. Jaimi Haig, the Marketing Specialist at NMHPU, set up a table with literature and a donation jar. Garth Stein offered to MATCH any funds that were raised that evening. Jaimi collected $1,000 in donations, thus raising $2,000 for the organization which is “working to end the euthanasia of homeless pets in Utah and to promote humane alternatives for feral cats.

TKE Mystery Book Group’s Trip to San Francisco

September 1, 2011

Editor’s Note: Long-time TKE bookseller, book group leader and mystery maven Wendy Foster Leigh, organized a magical mystery tour of San Francisco last month. Here’s Wendy’s take on the adventure.

The Armchair Travel Mystery Group meets regularly at The King’s English in that dark little mystery room upstairs. We are constantly asking, “What do you think the author was thinking?”…and then we guess. We wanted to ask Cara Black what she was thinking when she began her Murder in Paris series and since she couldn’t come to Salt Lake City, we went to see her in San Francisco! Because the books are set in Paris, we chose the Hotel Triton in the French area of Bush and Grant streets near Union Square. The hotel has a French feel to it complete with its hotel dog, Romeo, and the sound of French spoken in the lobby. Bush Street is filled with French food and the trip suddenly became an eat, read, and talk event.

Bookshop West Portal by local artist Eleanor Burke

On Friday, local artist Eleanor Burke joined us for a tour of the Mission District. She is the author of Sketching San Francisco; book club member, Roxy Nakamura called it “a love letter to San Francisco…the color sketches evoke memories of favorite spots and offer endless ideas for future exploration.” Eleanor led the group down Mission Street to Balmy and Clarion alleys for a discussion of the many murals (including some about books!) which reflect the passions of the District. Then it was off to lunch at El Delfin, followed by the Humphry Slocombe ice cream parlor for Thai Chili Sherbet. We even made a stop at Dave Egger’s Pirate Shop at 826 Valencia, a writer’s workshop for young people which is also a wonderful mixture of kitsch for old and young alike.

Saturday night arrived and off we went for a busman’s holiday at Bookshop West Portal and a discussion with Cara about the adventures of Aimee Leduc and the Leduc Detective Agency. Roxy pointed out that our book club “couldn’t help telling Cara the ways we hoped the story would progress.” Cara smiled an enigmatic smile that meant…“you don’t know how the books will end and I do! So there.” Luckily, Cara doesn’t seem eager to end Aimee’s adventures. (Latest hardback Murder in Passy is at TKE, but we talked about Murder in the Latin Quarter, #9 in the series.) West Portal is a friendly neighborhood and Bookshop West Portal is an independent bookshop comparable to TKE. Owners Neil and Kevin set up the back room for our group and some other PALS (Parents of Alumni of Lick-Wilmerding High School), where I used to teach in SF). The guys even had copies of The King’s English by Betsy Burton for our San Francisco hosts. PALS group members drove us to the home of Stuart and Deborah Oppenheim for a Mediterranean feast and mixer. One day, perhaps we can host the PALS group and Kevin and Neil in Salt Lake at TKE.

Snapped by Cara Black

Planning this trip began months ago with only members of the Armchair Travel Mystery Group, but it “grew like Topsy” until there were 14 of us. Thanks to everyone for being so much fun: Rachel, Robert, Paula, Linda, Mira, Jeanne, Debbie, Roxy, Jim, Michelle, Rhonda, Josh and my truly helpful husband, Larry.

Each participant probably has a favorite moment to share with the group. Mine was a quiet one at the Chinese Culture Center painting with my 90- year-old teacher, Mrs. Fu, and shopping at The New Unique Company for Chinese brushes and inks. Sometimes the silent times mean as much as the busy ones and creating a plum blossom can be as mysterious as reading a novel.

Wendy Foster Leigh

TKE Takes 5 with Rae Meadows

July 1, 2011

by Lynn Kilpatrick

Rae Meadows is the author of Mothers and Daughters, published this May by Henry Holt. She has written two previous novels, No One Tells Everything (2008) and Calling Out (2006). I had the privilege of getting to know Rae when we were both students at the University of Utah, studying creative writing and getting together occasionally to whack around a tennis ball. After I read Mothers and Daughters this spring, I had some questions for Rae. She took time out of her busy schedule touring to promote her book, and as the mother of two daughters herself, to answer some of my questions.

The King’s English (Lynn Kilpatrick): One of the first things I noticed as I was reading Mothers and Daughters was the relationship between your book, Virginia Woolf, and Michael Cunningham’s The Hours. I really liked the way you used the three-part/three-character structure, and, like The Hours, there were direct references to Woolf. How would you characterize your book’s relationship to these other works?

Rae Meadows: I was definitely inspired and influenced by The Hours, particularly Cunningham’s use of a three-part structure with characters who don’t overlap in real time. I liked how this functioned to collapse time and memory. I was also appreciative of the book’s spareness and quiet drama. I was a little worried about directly referencing Virginia Woolf (Is it allowed? Is it like sampling in a song? Is it frowned upon?) but it seemed right for the character of Iris. I really did set out to write a novel about women and I kept coming back to To the Lighthouse.

TKE: Can you talk about your decision to write the book from three different points of view? This seemed like a departure from your other books, which each focus on one main character.

RM: Admittedly part of this decision came from becoming a mother and having to figure out some way to approach a novel in short bursts of time. For me it seemed more manageable to break it down into multiple points of view. I actually wrote each of the character’s sections separately because I couldn’t yet conceive of the whole. As you know, the entirety of a novel is such a scary behemoth to consider.

TKE: How did your book become a best seller in the Netherlands?

RM: Your guess is as good as mine! It’s such a funny thing. I liked the cover—they used a vintage photograph of a woman holding a little girl’s hand, seen from behind. There is something subtly ominous about it, which appealed to me, at least. (Or maybe the Dutch just have good taste?)

TKE: How do you finish a draft? Many writers begin projects, but have a hard time getting to the end of a finished draft and then there’s revision! How do you do it?

RM: I have no idea how to write a novel! I’m looking into the abyss these days, unable to get started on something new. For Mothers and Daughters, I slogged out two pages a day until a messy first draft was completed, and I tried not to think too far down the road. I have to commit to those kind of modest but unwavering goals for myself or I’d never write at all.

TKE: What kind of historical research did you do for Mothers and Daughters?

RM: I loved researching for this book. It kind of felt like cheating. I read books about the orphan trains, both first-hand accounts of riders and histories of social welfare, which gave me more context. For turn-of-the-century New York City flavor, I found my best tools to be period accounts of church women who would go into poor neighborhoods and report what they had seen. And there are some incredible things you can find online, of course, particularly photographs, which kick-started scenes for me. For my next novel, I’m doing historical research again—this time on the Dust Bowl—and it’s a great way to procrastinate. Sure I’ll get writing, I just have to read one more book first…

You can keep up with Rae, and see pictures of the Dutch posters for Mothers and Daughters on her blog.

Independent Bookseller Turns Author

May 17, 2011

Previously published in Shelf Awareness April 12, 2011

… [I]n the front windows at Point Reyes Books in Point Reyes Station, Calif., a certain title has pride of place: Emotional Currency: A Woman’s Guide to Building a Healthy Relationship with Money by Dr. Kate Levinson, who owns the store with her husband, Steve Costa. “My own mini celebration for the book is taking over the storefront windows,” she said. “As a bookseller I get to do that.”

Along with being a bookseller and serving on the board of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, Levinson holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She maintains a private practice in Oakland and also leads Emotional Currency workshops that encourage women to explore and understand their emotional ties to money.

Inspired by the powerful stories of workshop participants and patients in her practice, as well as drawing on her own experiences with money, Levinson began drafting a book proposal more than a decade ago. “I wanted to encourage others to become curious about their own money stories–stories that we often even aren’t aware of ourselves, let alone ever share with one another because it’s taboo to talk about money,” she said.

Levinson worked on the proposal intermittently and then looked for an agent, a search that proved unsuccessful. At Costa’s suggestion they bought the bookstore in 2002, after which her time was taken up helping to run the retail business and conducting her practice. “I thought I was over and done with the fantasy of writing this book,” she said. But the idea “kept coming to mind, kept returning,” and eventually she revisited the proposal.

“Despite not thinking about or working on the proposal for the first six years of owning the store, it was actually because of the store that the book got published,” noted Levinson. “Something I did only because my husband wanted to led me to something I’d been wanting in my own life–even though I couldn’t see the connection at the time.”

What happened next was “synchronistic,” Levinson said. In 2008, during the inaugural Geography of Hope Conference–a nature- and conservation-focused literary and arts event co-founded by Costa–she met Carl Brandt, the late author and environmentalist Wallace Stegner’s literary agent. He offered to read the proposal, and Levinson ended up signing on with Brandt’s business partner, Gail Hochman.

When Levinson hit a stumbling block early in the process of writing Emotional Currency, she turned to an acquaintance for assistance: former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, who has appeared at Point Reyes Books to promote his own works. “I needed reassurance from someone who I wasn’t close with, and who I respected, that this was a worthy topic,” Levinson explained. “He reassured me primarily by telling me a story about his mother and money. I went home and started writing the book.”

A bookstore customer, Frances McDormand–who Levinson met when the actress came looking for The Joy of Cooking–has endorsed Emotional Currency, saying, “Finally! A beautifully written, straightforward guide to understanding money. Reading Emotional Currency evoked many of my own emotional memories about money. The book underscores that, for women, money provides both opportunities and choice.”

Many Point Reyes Books customers have ordered Emotional Currency in advance. Some readers have taken Levinson’s workshop and have an idea of what’s in the book, while others are interested in learning more about the author’s professional life outside bookselling. “They know me as the person who sells them books and puts on author events, and I think they’re really curious,” said Levinson.

…[N]ow it’s Levinson’s turn to be in the spotlight. So how is it being on the other side of the publishing process? “Scary and exciting and wonderful,” she said.

At this year’s Winter Institute she met booksellers from other parts of the country who invited her to promote Emotional Currency at their stores. Her tour stops include Maria’s Bookshop in Durango, the King’s English in Salt Lake City (Thursday, May 19, 7 p.m.) and Magers & Quinn in Minneapolis (June 12).

“Bookselling, where people share their wisdom with you, is so different from the field of psychology, where everything is hidden and private and you pay for information,” said Levinson. “I’m always amazed at the generosity and camaraderie of independent booksellers. We really are a community–booksellers, sales reps, authors, publishers. It’s a lovely tribe to belong to.”

Shannon McKenna Schmidt