Friday, September 19, 2008

Specials by Scott Westerfeld

Hot damn I love these books. Amy says that Pretties is her favorite, but I can't make up my mind—I love them all! However, I am not crazy about the cover designs. I don't think they live up to the content.

About Specials:

Special Circumstances:

The words have sent chills down Tally's spine since her days as a repellent, rebellious ugly. Back then Specials were a sinister rumor—frighteningly beautiful, dangerously strong, breathtakingly fast. Ordinary pretties might live their whole lives without meeting a Special. But Tally's never been ordinary.

And now she's been turned into one of them: a superamped fighting machine, engineered to keep the uglies down and the pretties stupid.

The strength, the speed, and the clarity and focus of her thinking feel better than anything Tally can remember. Most of the time. One tiny corner of her heart still remembers something more.

Still, it's easy to tune that out—until Tally's offered a chance to stamp out the rebels of the New Smoke permanently. It all comes down to one last choice: listen to that tiny, faint heartbeat, or carry out the mission she's programmed to complete. Either way, Tally's world will never be the same.

Now I need to get Extras. Boingboing calls Extras "a superb volume in the Uglies series."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Killing of the Tinkers by Ken Bruen

Dark. Gritty. Grim. A pal of mine at work recommended Ken Bruen. This was the only title available on eReader (c'mon already!) even though it is the second in the series about ex-Guard Jack Taylor.
Jack Taylor, a disgraced ex-cop in Galway, has slid further down the slope of despair. After a year in London he returns to his home town of Galway with a leather coat and a coke habit. Someone is systematically slaughtering young travellers and dumping their bodies in the city centre. Even in the state he's in, Jack Taylor has an uncanny ability to know where to look, what questions to ask, and with the aid of an English policeman, apparently solves the case. Now he stands poised on the precipice of the most devastating decision of his career, while at the same time a rare opportunity of real and enduring love also materialises

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


This site (still in beta) helps you find and follow authors: you can browse by genre as well as name, and updates are available vie email or RSS. One particularly cool feature is the ability to link with your Amazon account so that you automatically receive updates on authors whose books you bought through Amazon. I hope that they expand this function to include other sites like GoodReads and LibraryThing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Lilac Bus by Maeve Binchy

Sometimes you just need a little Binchy.
Every Friday night Tom Fitzgerald’s lilac-coloured minibus is a meeting place for the same cast of seven, who always use it to travel home from Dublin to spend the weekend in Rathdoon. Disparate characters, who embark at an anonymous pick-up point, each one has an inner life unknown to his or her fellow passengers. There’s Nancy Morris, a real ‘Miss Mouse’ who is known for her meanness; Dee Burke–engrossed in her affair with an unfaithful hospital consultant; and Kev Kennedy who is a bit of a mystery to everyone, including his own family. Then there’s Celia Ryan. Each time she returns home to Ryan’s Bar, it is only to find her mother making a drunken exhibition of herself in front of half the local population. And, of course, Tom Fitzgerald himself has his own reasons for returning home so regularly. . .

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen

I read this one when I was on vacation. About all I can say about it is that it was ok.
Present day: Julia Hamill has made a horrifying discovery on the grounds of her new home in rural Massachusetts: a skull buried in the rocky soil—human, female, and, according to the trained eye of Boston medical examiner Maura Isles, scarred with the unmistakable marks of murder. But whoever this nameless woman was, and whatever befell her, is knowledge lost to another time. . . .

More good stuff from TOC

The O'Reilly blog, Tools of Change for Publishing, is a great resource for anyone in the industry. I find myself regularly sharing their posts on Google Reader.

This looks like a really valuable resource:
StartWithXML is an effort to understand and spread the knowledge publishers need to move forward with XML. It's about the business issues driving the "why" of XML in publishing and the technical and organizational issues, strategies, and tactics underlying the "how" of getting started.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Devil's Bones by Jefferson Bass (ebook)

Jefferson Bass is the writing team of Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson. Dr. Bass is the guy who started the body farm and Jon Jefferson is a journalist. People, it's the body farm—what more could you want?
A woman's charred body has been found inside a burned car perched atop a hill in Knoxville. Is it accidental death, or murder followed by arson? Forensic anthropologist Bill Brockton's quest for answers prompts an experiment straight from Dante's Inferno: In the dark of night, he puts bodies to the torch, researching how fire consumes flesh and bone.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

My friend Amy's 13-year-old daughter finally finished Pretties so I could borrow it. Amy has read the whole series and says that this one is her favorite. I loved it.

Tally has finally become pretty. Now her looks are beyond perfect, her clothes are awesome, her boyfriend is totally hot, and she's completely popular. It's everything she's ever wanted. But beneath all the fun—the nonstop parties, the high-tech luxury, the total freedom—is a nagging sense that something's wrong. Something important. Then a message from Tally's ugly past arrives. Reading it, Tally remembers what's wrong with pretty life, and the fun stops cold.

Now she has to choose between fighting to forget what she knows and fighting for her life—because the authorities don't intend to let anyone with this information survive.

I'm already about halfway through Specials. Even though it's called the Uglies Trilogy, apparently there's a fourth book called Extras.

Good news from eReader

the Apple pandering is a little lame, though

They finally launched a mobile site ( In theory, I should be able to log in, purchase, and download ebooks on my Treo. I tried a couple of times right after the site lauched: I was able to browse and add a book to my cart, but I got an error message when I tried to log in. Bummer.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Happy Trails to You: Stories by Julie Hecht

It makes me happy just to look at these

If you haven't read any of these books by Julie Hecht you should go do it. Right now.

About Happy Trails to You:

When Julie Hecht's stories first appeared in The New Yorker, her unnamed photographer-narrator became an instant literary icon. Chronicles of her strategies for surviving civilization's decline—herbal remedies, macrobiotics, a bit of Xanax—have established her as one of the most captivating and eagerly read voices in modern literature.

In this new collection of stories, Julie Hecht reclaims the darkly funny, existential territory for which she is known: "People say 'Good morning,' but don't believe them. It's just something to say." The uniquely eccentric narrator reappears in Happy Trails to You and recounts her perplexed engagements with our society and the larger world -- whether she's attempting to withdraw money from a bank machine, worrying about Paul McCartney, or seeking a nonexistent place of calm on Nantucket, where nail guns and chain saws have replaced the sounds of birds singing.

Appalled by life in our times, the narrator recounts innumerable artifacts from a now vanished America (civility, idealism, Elvis Presley, well-made appliances). She is also exquisitely attuned to the absurdities of our culture; her acute observations illuminate every subject, from the dangers of microwave ovens to the disappearing ozone layer. With deadpan wit, the author reveals the truths of a new century. Happy Trails to You is a radically distinctive work of American fiction.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A new website for A Novel Idea

A Novel Idea is one of my favorite bookstores (owned by my good pal Cinnamon). They recently launched a new website. Go check it out and tell them Jana sent you.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Place of Execution by Val McDermid

Now this one I enjoyed. From page 227 of the mass market paperback edition (my new favorite insult):
Who spared that would drown nothing.
Also, instead of saying "as soon as I laid eyes on her" one of the characters says "as soon as I clapped eyes on her," which I love.

From the back cover:
Winter 1963: two children have disappeared off the streets of Manchester; the murderous careers of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady have begun. On a freezing day in December, another child goes missing: thirteen-year-old Alison Carter vanishes from the isolated Derbyshire hamlet of Scardale, a self-contained, insular community that distrusts the outside world. For the young George Bennett, a newly promoted inspector, it is the beginning of his most difficult and harrowing case: a murder with no body, an investigation with more dead ends and closed faces than he'd have found in the anonymity of the inner city, an outcome which reverberates down the years. Decades later he finally tells his story to journalist Catherine Heathcote, but just when the book is poised for publication, Bennett unaccountably tries to pull the plug. He has new information which he refuses to divulge, and which threatens the very foundations of his existence. Catherine is forced to reinvestigate the past, with results that turn the world upside down.