Archive for April, 2009

L.A. Times Festival of Books

Posted April 27, 2009 By Jandy

Once again the Festival of Books was huge, crowded with book lovers, and fun. Unfortunately, the traffic on 405 going to the UCLA campus and back to my daughter’s was horrid. Since there weren’t any speakers on Sunday I HAD to see, I skipped Sunday’s session to miss the stop and go traffic.

It was fun on Saturday. I made it to the Silverberg, Harrison, and Haldeman panel. It was fascinating listening to them discuss how they got into writing in science fiction. More than once they made the excellent point that good science fiction needs good characters, just like any good fiction. It’s only the setting that’s different – and what then gets the genre denigrated somewhat. Someone in the audience asked why there weren’t more books about utopias rather than about dystopias. Someone on the panel (Silverberg, I think) quickly quipped “Bo-ring”. They then seriously answered that utopias don’t have any conflict. What’s a good novel or story without conflict?

I also stopped by the Mysterious Galaxy booth (no surprise). I was excited to see Connie Willis. Unfortunately I hadn’t found MG’s signing schedule on line to know she would be there because I would have brought my copy of All Seated on the Ground for her to sign. Unfortunately they were out of copies of The Doomsday Book, so I bought To Say Nothing of the Dog for her to sign.

Cornelia Funke was at another book stall as well. I finally got my signed copy of Inkheart that I’ve been wanting.

One of the highlights for me was sitting outside one tent watching people and reading the tent. It asked “What Are You Reading?” There were markers provided. People wrote down the names of books they either are reading or loved (who knows which?). There was everything from East of Eden to Fast Food Nation to Twilight to Catcher in the Rye to Good Night Moon. It was intriguing. I wonder if they put up a new, clean tent on Sunday to start again?

5/14/09 – I was at Mysterious Galaxy for their 16th birthday last weekend. The “What Are You Reading” wall was duplicated there for customers to write on. It’s still a good idea and was fun to read.

L.A. Times Festival of Books

Posted April 24, 2009 By Jandy

Speaking of Ray Bradbury, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is tomorrow and Sunday. He will be speaking again this year. Jane Smiley, Mary Higgins Clark, Lisa Lutz, Andrew Sean Greer, and Jan Burke are less than 1% of the authors and speakers who will be there.

This is where I can be found for the next couple days. I’m especially looking forward to the panel tomorrow called “Sci-Fi Grand Masters”. The authors on the panel are Joe Haldeman, Harry Harrison, and Robert Silverberg.

Word Picture

Posted April 24, 2009 By Jandy

Now and Forever by Ray BradburyI’m reading one of Ray Bradbury‘s collection of novellas, Now and Forever. Here are some wonderful word pictures from the first tale, “Somewhere a Band is Playing”.

“…this woman, this bright noon wonder who descended the stairs into the cool shadow of the hall only to reemerge in a shaft of sunlight in in the dining room door. Her hand drifted to take Cardiff’s hand, and then her wrist and arm and shoulder and at last, as from the chemistry in an obscura room, the ghost of a face so lovely it burst on him life a flower when the dawn causes it to widen its beauty. Her measuring bright and summer-electric eyes shone merrily, watching him, as if he, too, had just arisen from those miraculous tides in which memory swims…”

“…lifted her arms and a great soft bloom of sheet rose in a summer cloud over the bed and he seized his half and with her gentled it down in a field of white over the bed to cover its face. And they stood back and watched the late afternoon exhale and fill the lace and blow the curtains inward toward the bed, like a fall of never-arriving snow…”

“He stepped forward and pushed the door, half-expecting that he would find his grandmother within, lost in that special jungle where hung leopard bananas, where doughnuts were buried in quicksands of powdered sugar. Where apples shone in bins and peaches displayed their warm summer cheeks. Where row on row, shelf on shelf, of condiments and spices rose to an always-twilight ceiling.”

Can’t you picture those doughnuts? No wonder Bradbury’s career spans about 7 decades.

Vacation Experience

Posted April 24, 2009 By Jandy

The trip was labeled “An Introduction to Europe”. That meant it was a tantalizing taste of all the areas we visited. A few hours in Brussels is not enough to fully appreciate the historical Medieval Grand-Place square, let alone all the other areas of the city. The same is true for Heidelberg Germany, Lucerne Switzerland, and Lichtenstein. We had two days in Paris, which was a little better.

The sun on the top of the Alps is a sight not to be missed. But it is certainly cold up there and I forgot my gloves…

As you can see, it was cloudy (with some rain) in Paris. The sun came out the afternoon before our flight out. Then there is the Louvre, Musee d’Orsee, Notre Dame, and, or course, Saint Chappell. Of course we can’t forget the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, the Lichtenstein royal castle, the Black Forest, etc, etc, etc.

Reading? Only two and a half books. Despite what my sister says, I was enjoying the vacation too much to read much. (OK, one was so good I was reading during the traffic jam in the Alps. I missed some of the breathtaking views, but never for long.)

Vacation Time

Posted April 7, 2009 By Jandy

Tomorrow is my last day of work, then I’m gone for 12 days. Hurray for a great job and good tour packages. I’m off to Europe with family and friends. The cell phone will be in flight mode and only used as an alarm clock, the computer left at home, and the camera and books are packed.

I’m only (only!) packing 4 books to help cover my moods and the 999 reading challenge. I know I’ll pick up more on the trip. I’ll probably pick up another Thursday Next in London (unfortunately Fforde’s next book, Shades of Gray, isn’t due out in England until July). My daughter requested a copy of Le Petit Prince – not The Little Prince.

My pictures above are from Paris, London, Heidelberg, and Brussels.

Do You Want to Know Your Parent’s Secrets?

Posted April 5, 2009 By Jandy

The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. WrightJack Cooper wrote weekly letters to his wife Laurel throughout their almost 40 year marriage. Laurel kept them all. When the two both die of natural causes on the same night, together, their grown children have to take care of all the final arrangements. One of the first things they find is Laurel’s stash of letters. Of course they started reading them.

They discover wonderful secrets about their parents – like when they visited Graceland and met Priscilla and Elvis Presley. They also learn a shattering secret. The children had only seen the happy marriage Jack and Laurel had. The news they learn dating back to their early childhood shakes them up and makes them question what they know about their own lives.

This is The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright.

I know at least one of my parent’s secrets – although I’m not sure it is a secret any more. Even so, I’m not going to share it, even with my brothers or sister Or daughters – who both read my blog). I learned it by sneaking into my mother’s private journal. Fortunately by the time I learned it the problem had been resolved and while I looked differently at them, it never touched our lives. They’ve now been married over 55 years.

I really don’t think I want to know all their secrets. Although they’re flesh and blood real people to me now, there is still a bit of that child’s vision of their father and mother on podiums above me. They aren’t perfect, but I think they’re pretty great.

Would you want to know your parent’s secrets?

999 Challenge

Posted April 2, 2009 By Jandy

March has finished. Now I’ve read 21 books from the 999 challenge.That means I’m staying consistent. You’ll notice there’s a conspicuous absence under stand alone mysteries. I have some on hand to read, and have started listening to Silks by Dick Francis. Perhaps I’ll put a Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child novel in my suitcase. Admittedly, I’ve been concentrating more on the Europe challenge so hadn’t looked for many stand alone mysteries. The Ludlum novel I referred to in my previous post would have worked if I had finished it.

There is one book I added to the Europe challenge that also fits in the 999 challenge. Among the Mad was published this year. I know that reading more new books published this year will be easy, so I only put it in one list.

The books I read this month took me from Paris to Seattle to Austria (one fiction and one non-fiction) to Mississippi to Colorado to a fantasy world. Isn’t it great how we can travel anywhere when we read?

Europe Reading Challenge

Posted April 1, 2009 By Jandy

For my Europe reading challenge, all the books that I was able to find that take place in current day Germany (within the last 20 years or so) were suspense thriller novels. I randomly picked Robert Ludlum’s Apocalypse Watch. I’ve read about 125 pages of the 650 page novel. But I just can’t get into this book. I’m really not in the mood to read about the possible rise of the Nazi nation and all the thriller intrigue involved. Since I’m leaving next week, I guess I won’t meet this challenge. I’ll not be able to find a book in this setting and get it read before I leave.

To me, a major part of a reading challenge is to pick up something I might not have otherwise. I certainly wouldn’t have picked up A Dwarf Kingdom or Bloomability otherwise. I probably would have put off reading Into a Paris Quartier although I listed this one in my 999 challenge instead. I’d been wanting to read Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris so this was a good excuse as well. I certainly wouldn’t have found Let Me Go without this challenge.

I won’t quite finish the challenge. But I did read some interesting books because of it.

I couldn’t resist it. Here’s a picture from a travel website of the mountains around Interlaken. I’ll be there myself in a couple weeks.