Friday, March 22, 2013

Bookseller Taste Exchange: Rebecca & Barb (Part 1)

We (Rebecca and Barb) were so inspired by Josh and Sarah's grand book recommendation experiment a few weeks ago that we decided to do one of our own!

Barb Suggests: The Body Farm by Patricia Cornwell. 5th in the Kay Scarpetta crime fiction novels, this was the first one that I read.  After reading this, I had to read the others in the series, as well.  Kay, the protagonist, is the Chief Medical Examiner of the Commonwealth of Virginia. She is a strong, smart, beautiful woman.  You get to know her well as she takes you on a journey through the investigation of an 11 year old girl in rural North Carolina.  The murder has the same handiwork of a wanted serial killer.  The investigation brings us to a clandestine research facility, the body farm, where cadavers are experimented on to determine different stages of decay and decomposition.  The forensics are what I found so compelling.  The twists and turns make the book a page turner! There is a wonderful cast of characters, including her niece, who works at the FBI bureau in Quantico and assists Scarpetta in the research on this case.  Wesley, her co-worker, romantic interest and her gruff partner, Marino, also working on the case. The Body Farm is an easy to read, fast paced novel full of believable forensic activity.

Rebecca Suggests: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I was about to suggest The Miseducation of Cameron Post (emily m. danforth) (also a great book, go read it). But then I learned that not only had Barb never read anything by Neil Gaiman, she'd never even heard of Neil Gaiman! What a travesty, as I'm sure you'll all agree. This being the case, I immediately shoved The Graveyard Book into Barb's hands. The Graveyard Book is a deliciously creepy reimagining of The Jungle Book in which the requisite orphan boy, Bod, is being raised by a graveyard full of ghosts. Featuring Gaiman's signature weirdness, not to mention his lovely prose, The Graveyard Book is not your typical middle grade read. Perfect for readers who enjoy being (just a little) scared at the hands of a master storyteller.

Check back to see what we thought of each other's recommendations!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Khaled Hosseini reads at PSB

We are very pleased to tell you that Khaled Hosseini has a new book coming out on May 21 and will be with us for an event on Friday, May 24. Mr. Hosseini will be in conversation with WBUR's Robin Young, host of Here and Now. The event will be held at First Parish Church in Harvard Square at 6:30 that evening. This IS a ticketed event. The book can be ordered now by calling the store or going to our website. The purchase of a book gets you TWO tickets to the event. If you are purchasing through the website, please indicate in the comments field that you would like two tickets. You will receive the tickets when you pick up the book either in the store on or after May 21 or at the church on May 24. You must have tickets to attend the event. Mr. Hosseini will be signing books at the end of his Q&A. Additional copies of his books may be purchased at the event.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Bookseller Taste Exchange: Josh & Sarah, Part 2

So Josh and Sarah read from the other's taste. Here's what they thought.

Josh's reaction: I don’t read many books for young people, but whenever I do, I try to drag as much of myself at the appropriate age out of the dark recesses of my memory to experience the reading. I want to see the book with adult eyes and kid eyes. Of course, at 11, 12, 13, I wouldn’t have read this either. I was reading Dragonlance books and lots of them. So, in a strange way, adult Josh related a lot more to Rennison’s goals than middle school Josh ever could. (Perhaps it’s because my cat is also a pretty terrible person.) So here’s what mostly adult Josh thought of Angus, Thongs, & Full Frontal Snogging.

I would gladly recommend this book to anyone at that age. Georgia is funny and smart (though, as my partner pointed out, you don’t usually see stupid protagonists in books), and if her worldview is a little “limited,” I think that is a mostly accurate (if occasionally parodic) presentation of a young teenager’s worldview. It wasn’t the humor that won adult Josh over, but Georgia’s relationship with her toddler sister Libby. Even filtered through her own drama-laden perspective, it was clear that Georgia was more responsible with Libby than you would expect a teenager to be, especially given how hard Georgia worked to be the totally shallow image obsessed teenagers magazines have instructed us to be believe in. Of course, the role of this relationship might have been solely to add a little depth of character to Georgia, but in a funny work of YA entertainment, it works perfectly.

[Spoiler Alert] I did have one plot critique though. I think I would rather the Sex God not have landed. I remember enough from middle school to know I drew much of my identity from how I perceived my peers were perceiving what they perceived including their perceptions of me, so that she defines herself by her relationships with boys is just one of those facts of early adolescence that helps make it such a miserable experience for everyone involved. But (and this is definitely adult Josh) I think YA books should find happy endings that don’t involve getting the boy or the girl. Georgia certainly had enough smarts and sass to be happy just being herself. (Of course, there might be plenty of those books out there.)

To sum up, I can’t say I liked reading Angus, Thongs, and Full-frontal Snogging (I’m a bit more of a Weetzie Bat kinda guy), but finding something to like wasn’t really the point. I read a book I never would have read otherwise and, bonus, one I would gladly handsell to customers.

Sarah's reaction: I tried to go into The Interrogative Mood with an open mind. I really did. And I made it all the way to page 9 before I wanted to smack the narrator. Which is not to say that it's in any way a bad book -- I'm just not the right reader for it.

Based on your initial pitch, I was expecting a novel? That would be impossible to read? Without thinking of the Valley Girl dialect? But no. This book is one giant series of questions, both open-ended and not, hypothetical and factual, reasonable and absurd, but not really an actual plot. Some of the questions refer back to earlier questions, but that's as close as we get to a sequence of events.

They're good questions. Creative ones. This is a great book for someone who wants to pore over language, to stop and think about the answers, to marvel over how much is crammed into one rather short text, to wonder about what it all means.

You can probably tell by now that I am not that someone. I skim when I read, and you can't do that with this book. I like my novels character-driven, and there really aren't any here. I'm not much for stopping and thinking in the middle of reading, and this book demands it.

So to sum up: Not my thing, but I will absolutely recommend it to someone who likes that kind of fiction.

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