March 31, 2011

On the Phone with My Niece

I was reassuring her that yes, I would be there by Monday.

Her: You're going to play with me?
Me: Yes.
H: And read to me?
M: Yes.
H: In the middle of the night?
M: . . . uh, probably not.

Golden Books

I discovered the Golden Books dress via Boing Boing. I love it. I wish there were a ready-to-wear version that I could buy in a local store.

Golden Books have been around for 69 years now.

The Monster at the End of this Book (Sesame Street) (Big Little Golden Book)The Poky Little Puppy Special Anniversary Edition LGB (Special Edition Little Golden Book)

The ones I remember best are the ones at my maternal grandparent's house. Most originally belonged to my uncle and my oldest cousin. (I don't think any belonged to my mother and aunts, but I could be wrong. Their legacy is the Nancy Drews.) The my sister, myself, and our two contemporaneous cousins. Currently they entertain my baby cousins. (Okay, not so baby anymore. The six-year-old now reads by herself.) When my niece and nephew visit, we read the books to them.

The Little Red Caboose (Little Golden Book)Bambi (Disney Bambi) (Little Golden Book)

Golden Books are something my family has shared for generations. Even the oldest ones are still entertaining to a child. So yeah, I would proudly wear their covers while out and about. But I wouldn't recycle our shared copies to make the dress.

March 30, 2011

"Waiting On" Wednesday: Crafty Classics

This meme was started by Jill of Breaking the Spine.

I first heard about this news at the awesome Angieville. Jillian Tamaki revealed on Monday that she had been commissioned to do three covers for Penguin Threads Deluxe Classics.

I am a huge fan of Penguin Classics. The scholarship is always top-notch and the prices are affordable. The various deluxe classics lines are gorgeous. I've not made it a secret that I am not a fan of trade paperbacks. I don't like the trim size as much and feel like the uptick in price is not always accompanied by an uptick in quality. But Penguin has been putting gorgeous covers, French flaps, and other fancy things on their deluxe classics editions to make them worth the price.

Emma: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

EMMA by Jane Austen will be released October 25.  This will be Penguin's first standalone edition of the matchmaking classic.  (Is the multicolored hair not gorgeous?)

The Secret Garden: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

THE SECRET GARDEN by Frances Hodgson Burnett will be available the same day. 2011 is THE SECRET GARDEN's centennial. I am definitely buying these two, as I don't own a copy of either but love both.

Black Beauty: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

Anna Sewell's BLACK BEAUTY will also be released on October 25, with a new introduction by Jane Smiley. I've never read BLACK BEAUTY, but I may buy it to complete the set.

And do click on the link to Tamaki's site! The designs wrap around, so you'll want to see the backcovers and flaps.

March 28, 2011

Review: Lost and Found

By Shaun Tan
Available now from Arthur A. Levine (Scholastic)
Review copy
Lost and Found: Three by Shaun Tan (Lost and Found Omnibus)Lost and Found: Three by Shaun Tan is a beautiful book. Tan's paintings vary in style, but all of them are full of interesting details. (Okay, not all of them are even paintings. There are collages, for instance.) I've noticed different things in the images everytime I've opened the book. The images stand well on their own, without the accompaniment of text.

The first story in this omnibus is "The Red Tree." This one has the most experimental art; sometimes the style changes between pages. "The Red Tree" gets quite dark, which could make it unappealing to younger children. There aren't many words, but the typography interacts with the pictures in interesting ways. The words are mostly unimportant to "The Red Tree." It's less of a story than a progression through the tone of a story, with misery gripping ever tighter then eventually giving way to hope. "The Red Tree" was my least favorite of the three, but only because the other two are such strong stories.

"Without sense or reason," Shaun Tan (2001)

Next is "The Lost Thing."  I loved the scrapbook style layout of this story. The narrator collects bottle caps and it seems like a fitting layout to express his personality. I also loved the bits of type included in the borders that sometimes show up in the middle of the page. This story would be good to read to a younger child before bed or for an older child (first grade or so) to read by his or herself. While it is far more conventional than "The Red Tree," it still has a distinctive style. This one was definitely my favorite, both for the humor and the sweetness. (Note: Shaun Tan just one an Oscar for the animated version of "The Lost Thing.")

The final story, "The Rabbits," was written by John Marsden (author of the Tommorrow series). This one is definitely for elementary aged children. It's an allegory of the British colonization of Australia from the point of view of the Aborigines. It's well-told and worth discussing with older children, but toddlers are more likely to be upset by the unhappy ending. Picture book does not necessarily mean children's book. The stylized profile of the rabbits did make for some incredible paintings, and Tan makes excellent use of negative space.

I think LOST AND FOUND is a good choice for families. The adults will enjoy the story and art as much as the kids. In fact, some adults will enjoy it even without the kids.

March 27, 2011

In My Mailbox: Something New

I bought a bunch of books this week and don't want to track them all down. So instead of listing everything, I'm just going to list the book I'm most excited about.

Lost and Found: Three by Shaun Tan (Lost and Found Omnibus)

LOST AND FOUND: Three by Shaun Tan

I received this omnibus through the Amazon Vine program. I'm extra excited about this one since I'm going to North Dakota the first week of April. I'll be able to read it to my niece!

I'll post my review here on Monday.

In other news, I'm extending this contest another week. There were so many entries in the Google form and so few in this one, using the old comment section. Clearly ya'll prefer Google forms. I'll keep that in mind.

March 26, 2011

RIP Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones, the grand dame of children's and young adult fantasy, died today at the age of 76.

Her death is a great loss, but she will be remembered.  Her words will inspire and entertain future generations.

When she won the Mythopoeic Award for Children's Literature in 1999, she remarked, "A book for children is first of all to enjoy, and after that it can be full of all the other things books can do for children — mostly, I believe, to encourage them to think for themselves."

That thought is evidenced by all of work, not just The Dark Lord of Derkholm.  Children read Jones because her stories are funny, witty, magical.  They remember her stories because they're thoughtful.  Jones played with chronology.  She had unreliable narrators.  She told her stories in original ways and trusted the reader to deciper them.

Elizabeth Taylor also died this week.  Papers have proclaimed the end of an era and the death of an icon.  For those who love children's literature, Diana Wynne Jones's death is no less momentous. 

March 24, 2011

Review: Human.4

I had a terrible start to the day. A bird got into my house, which led to a giant hassle, a freaked out dog, and having to move a nest full of eggs.

By Mike A. Lancaster
Available now from Egmont USA
Review copy

Book Cover

I thought HUMAN.4 was dystopian lit when I began. I think I had it confused with I AM NUMBER FOUR. (I may have also been misled by the current dystopian fad.) I'll cop to not being the biggest fan of dystopias. What is HUMAN.4? I suspect you'll hear many different answers. I'd call it a classic SF/horror story, in the vein of The Twilight Zone. (At times I got a distinct "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street" vibe. YouTube video for those unfamiliar with the classic episode.) Mike A. Lancaster does make some interesting framing decisions that help make HUMAN.4 unique.

HUMAN.4 is told by Kyle Straker, who is recording himself on a set of cassette tapes three months after the events of the story. The events are transcribed by the future humans who find the tapes. The transcription is filled with notes about academic analysis of the tapes - what do certain terms mean? What do Kyle's pauses mean? I found the notes about the pauses and about the changes in Kyle's narrative direction to be interesting. They both shaped the way I viewed the story and gave good insight into how people think in the future of HUMAN.4. The notes about terms were sometimes clever, but more often distracting.

I thought the cassette tape format reinforced the themes of the novel both overtly and subtly. Kyle is unfamiliar with recording on cassettes, so the last words of each part are forgotten. The action occurs in our present. I'm only 22, but Kyle is enough younger than me that a technology I grew up with is obsolete for him. I'm not pretending I was born before CDs; just before CD-Rs. My sister and I would go about the house, using our cheap red and white plastic tape recorder to tape songs we improvised. (My most popular tune was one involving the lines, "You better snap/that weight off!" Unsurprising, I have not grown up to be a lyricist.) In HUMAN.4, Kyle and three of his neighbors become obsolete through an ill-timed hypnosis act. But our everyday lives will become obsolete without help from any outlandish occurances.  It's that grounding in reality that really sells the more horrific bits of HUMAN.4.

There's a small romance in the novel.  It shouldn't put any male readers off, but it's nicely nuanced and unobtrusive.  I rather liked Lisa, who seemed like a good girl.  The other two 0.4 don't have much to do, but they're amiable enough characters.  Mr. Peterson gets one amazing scene.  HUMAN.4 covers a short amount of time - less than a day - so there is not much focus on character development.  But there is enough character to carry the story.  You want Kyle, Lisa, Mrs. O'Donnell, and Mr. Peterson to survive.  (After all, you're only guaranteed that Kyle survives for three months.)

I read HUMAN.4 in about an hour.  I intended to start it during the commercials of ABC's comedy block.  I finished it before the second episode of The Middle finished. (Admittedly, the second episode was a re-run, but the book would've held my attention without that push.)  In less than 250 pages, Lancaster reminded me how much I love a suspenseful story with a SF twist.  (You'll notice I haven't said much about the plot.  That's because I'm afraid to give anything away.  I enjoy experiencing books cold and I worry about spoiling an experience this fun.)

I don't have a seal of approval, but let's ignore that so that I can say this.  HUMAN.4 gets the In Bed With Books Seal of Approval.  (Complimentary gift basket not included.)

March 23, 2011

"Waiting On" Wednesday: Finally!

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a meme started by Jill of Breaking the Spine.


EONA is almost here! It comes out April 19. I enjoyed EON and disliked having to wait more than a year for the sequel.

Here's the (spoilery) back blurb:

Eon has been revealed as Eona, the first female Dragoneye in hundreds of years. Along with fellow rebels Ryko and Lady Dela, she is on the run from High Lord Sethon's army. The renegades are on a quest for the black folio, stolen by the drug-riddled Dillon; they must also find Kygo, the young Pearl Emperor, who needs Eona's power and the black folio if he is to wrest back his throne from the selfstyled "Emperor" Sethon. Through it all, Eona must come to terms with her new Dragoneye identity and power-and learn to bear the anguish of the ten dragons whose Dragoneyes were murdered. As they focus their power through her, she becomes a dangerous conduit for their plans. . . .

EONA, with its pulse-pounding drama and romance, its unforgettable fight scenes, and its surprises, is the conclusion to an epic only Alison Goodman could create.

March 22, 2011

Review: Dreadfully Ever After

Check out the Kidlit4Japan auctions. They just started yesterday and there's a bunch of great things to win.


Dreadfully Ever After By Steve Hockensmith
Review copy
Available now from Quirk Books

My aunt and uncle bought me PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES shortly after it came out. Not for any occasion; they simply saw it and thought of me. After the novel became a hit, Steve Hockensmith took over to write a prequel. DREADFULLY EVER AFTER is the sequel and the final novel in the trilogy. I have not read the prequel, but I have read PPZ.

DREADFULLY EVER AFTER has a large advantage over the original mash-up since Hockensmith's prose does not have to directly compete with Jane Austen's. It makes for a smoother reading experience. Now, Hockensmith is no Austen, but he does weave class issues and other societal troubles into his zombie tale.

My main problem with the series is the fact that the main characters are Shaolin warriors and pal around with ninjas. I get that it's cool, but it feels so weird to me. It's too close to how Britain actually was in the 1880s. (By which I mean, obsessed with Japan, not overrun with ninjas and zombies.) It keeps pushing me out of the time period.

The story in DREADFULLY EVER AFTER picks up four years after PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES. While on a walk with Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy is bitten by a dreadful. Elizabeth, despite her pride, goes to Lady Catherine de Bourgh for help. She and her younger sister Kitty are to seduce Sir Angus MacFarquhar and his son Bunny, in order to gain access to the cure housed at Angus's hospital.

I rather liked Angus and the silly fop Bunny, which I did not expect. The characters play well off of the Bennets' tempraments in this 'verse. I was expecting them to be forced to seduce people more loathsome, so the MacFarquhars truly were a pleasant surprise.

Meanwhile, Lady Catherine is unsurprisingly trying to regain control over Darcy and put her plans for her family back into place. It's kind of amazing that she stays so much the same when other characters are greatly transformed. Also meanwhile, Jane is having a difficult pregnancy. (Which I kept forgetting about.)

There are those who loathe the concept of mash-ups. DREADFULLY EVER AFTER won't change their minds. For those who are willing to have some fun with Austen's milieu, it's a good choice. It's fast-paced and funny, if not overly faithful. I enjoyed it more than PPZ, to be honest.

March 19, 2011

Calling All Authors

As you probably know, I've been writing In Bed With Books for three years as of yesterday.

Here are a few secrets:

- I am alternately brilliant and bad at naming things.  "Top Ten Books to Read in Bed" was the title of an article I wrote for a college paper right before starting this blog.  Thus, "In Bed With Books."  The name also refers to the fact that I prefer to read in bed.  I'll read in a chair, but I find beds more comfortable.  (If only I had a chaise longue. . . )

- "Liviania" was an alias I had already been using for two years.  Considering I discard aliases about every three years, I really wish I had made up a new one for the blog.  It makes me a bit twitchy that I'm stuck with one semi-permanent fake identity.

- My Twitter handle is @wearedevilcow because I originally intended to use if for real-life friends as well as the blog.  I quickly realized what a dumb idea that was.  Thus, I only use it for the blog but the name only has meaning to my friends.

Now onto the meaning of the title of this post!

There are a few more contests to come this month, and I'm currently plotting the final ones.  Any authors who would like me to include some of their swag (bookmarks, posters, etc.) in the packages should contact me at inbedwithbooks AT yahoo DOT com.

March 18, 2011

New Contest, Contest Winners, and Free Fiction!

I'm going to list the contest winners first.

FALLING UNDER goes to Kaity G. of Bitten Books.

ARCHVILLAIN goes to Rhonda Laney.

GOTH GIRL RISING goes to Gian Faye of The Dichotomy of One's Thoughts.

Now, some free fiction links! (As always, click on the covers to be taken to Amazon.)

Book Cover

WINGS by Aprilynne Pike is currently a free preorder from HarperCollins. This special Kindle edition includes excerpts of SPELLS and ILLUSIONS.

Red Glove (Curse Workers, Book 2)

"Lila Zacharov in 13 Pieces" by Holly Black is a super cool postmodern short story in Lila's point-of-view. It's a series of vignettes, but you never read them in the same order. So. much. fun. I loved WHITE CAT, so as you can guess I'm super stoked that RED GLOVE is coming out of April 5 and super sad that I don't have an ARC.

Lots of YA authors offer free short stories set in the same universe as their novels.

These are the two newest (available as of March 15) from Macmillan:

Fallen from Grace: A Bonus Dark Mirror Short StoryTurned at Dark: A Bonus Shadow Falls Short StoryDark MirrorBorn at Midnight (A Shadow Falls Novel)

"Fallen From Grace" promotes M. J. Putney's DARK MIRROR, released March 1. "Turned at Dark" promotes C. C. Hunter's debut novel BORN AT MIDNIGHT, which will be released on March 29. Her launch party is going to be from 6-8 P. M. April 1 at Katy Budget Books. I can't make it, but I recommend going if you can. Katy Budget Books is one of my favorite bookstores ever. Not just because I grew up in Katy and I'm nostalgic about it, mind you. It's just a great store.

Book Cover

THE BRANDING by Micaela Wendell is available for free from BelleBooks. I haven't read this one yet, so I don't know whether it is any good. But Wendell is sixteen, which is pretty cool.

The Dark and Hollow Places (Forest of Hands and Teeth, Book 3)

Carrie Ryan wrote a short story in THE LIVING DEAD 2 edited by John Joseph Adams. Many of the stories are available free online (courtesy of Night Shade Books), including "Flotsam & Jetsam" which is set earlier in the same world as THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH. THE DARK AND HOLLOW PLACES, the third book in the series, will be released March 22.

Of Blood and Honey (Fey and the Fallen)God's War

Night Shade Books has two giveaways going on right now. Now, these aren't young adult books, but I have to recommend them anyway. Night Shade Books gives independent publishers a good name. In celebration of St. Patrick's Day, they are giving away OF BLOOD AND HONEY by Stina Leicht. If you want to participate in the io9 book club, they are giving away GOD'S WAR by Kameron Hurley. The hideous redesign has kept me away from Gawker, but I still enjoy dropping by some of their sites every once in awhile. The io9 book club is worth it. (I would like to mention, again, that the new interface is terrible.)

(In all caps so that ya'll might notice it.)

Book Cover

I have three copies of SMOKIN' SIX-SHOOTER by B. J. Daniels to giveaway.  I'll be paying the shipping out-of-pocket, so I'm choosing to make this contest open to US only. This contest will end in one week, on March 23. (I'm going to be traveling in early April, so I want to give myself time to mail the prizes out.)

This time I'm not going to do a Google doc.  Just comment with your e-mail address to enter.  If you're a follower, leave a second comment letting me know.

March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I'm a little distracted since it's my birthday.

To make this post less useless:

Go vote in the Children's Choice Book Awards!

March 14, 2011

Review: Some Prefer Nettles

You can donate to Mercy Corps to help them meet the immediate and long-term needs of Japan's earthquake survivors.

Some Prefer Nettles

By Junichiro Tanizaki
Available from Vintage

Kaname and Misako are considering divorce. Misako has already taken a lover. Misako's father believes they are too attracted to being modern and reminds Kaname of the pleasures of tradition. TANIZAKI Junichiro's novel richly evokes 1920s Japan as well as the struggles of marriage.

SOME PREFER NETTLES is a quiet work. Things are said subtly, ironically, or not stated at all. It sometimes makes the novel hard to approach. But while it may seem too esoteric, it reinforces the domesticity of the setting. It's a very nice translation too, which keeps the language beautiful instead of ridiculous.

Generational conflict is universal. But rarely does culture change so rapidly as when Japan westernized. Kaname and his wife listen to jazz. Kaname and his father-in-law go to the bunraku theatre. The old versus new conflict is expressed by a culture few Americans are familiar with. I feel like Tanizaki does a good job of explaining the various arts in the novel, so that those who have no idea what bunraku is can still enjoy the story.

Music in Japan: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture (Global Music Series)

A textbook like MUSIC IN JAPAN: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture by Bonnie C. Wade is a helpful companion to the novel. The Global Music Series from Oxford University Press is wonderful. The text is straightforward, there are plenty of pictures, and a CD containing at least an hour of music. (You'll know it's getting to you when you start listening to gagaku for fun. However, speaking of the conflict between old and new, Tsugaru shamisen is where it's at.)

I enjoyed SOME PREFER NETTLES, although I'm sure by enjoyment was influenced by my interest in Japanese music and performing arts. But I think people truly enjoy Tanizaki's novel due to the rich emotions. While SOME PREFER NETTLES is quiet, it's never spare. It's full of lush imagery and harsh dilemmas.

March 13, 2011

In My Mailbox (From My Used Bookstore)

I did find book six of the Codex Alera, which was one of the two I was missing. They didn't have book five, however.

First Lord's Fury (Codex Alera)

FIRST LORD'S FURY by Jim Butcher

I also bought:

The Accidental Sorcerer (Rogue Agent)


This one looked fun. I don't know anything about the author or series. Orbit is a good imprint, however.

Treason's Shore: Book Four of Inda

TREASON'S SHORE by Sherwood Smith

This is the fourth and final Inda novel. I'm excited to see how this involved series ends! It's a much slower type of fantasy than the Codex Alera, but very rewarding. Three cheers for fantastical politics!

Monstrous Regiment


C'mon, it's Pratchett! I bought a UK edition. My local UBS always seem to have oodles of UK editions. Usually they're priced to compensate for the exchange rate, but this one wasn't. . . . almost makes up for the extra cost of the venti mass market. (You can't sell me on the ventis. I may not like trade paperbacks, but they're elegant and comfortable. As ebooks are becoming more popular, the functionality of the physical object should not be ignored.)

Frostbitten (Women of the Otherworld)

FROSTBITTEN by Kelley Armstrong

This series is not numbered. This series was just rereleased with new covers. It took me a minute or two to determine whether I already owned this book.

Phenomenal Girl 5 (Elite Hands of Justice)


This one came from the short-lived Shomi imprint. It looks like the first book in a series that never happened. Fortunately, romances tend to stand alone well. I bought this due to my weakness for superheroes.

(If you like superheroes, you should enter my Barry Lyga contest! This is also the last day to enter to win FALLING UNDER by Gwen Hayes.)


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