Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Potpourri aka Short Bites aka This 'n That aka...

Well, it's been a week since my last post.  (Did you miss me?  What?  No? Maybe?  I'll settle for maybe.)  And there are a bunch of cool author events coming up.  Here are a couple of them, along with a few other tidbits:

1.  This coming Saturday, April 29, is Independent Bookstore Day.  And no matter where you live, I'm sure that there will be activities and authors galore at your local bookstores.  Here in the Bay Area there are a whole bunch of choices.  We decided to see Kristin Hannah, she of The Nightingale fame, in Oakland.  She will be at the Montclair Presbyterian Church, located at 5701 Thornhill Drive, at 7:00.  She is sponsored by A Great Good Place for Books.  This is Kristin's ONLY Northern California appearance.  P.S.  I liked The Nightingale a lot.

2.  Another big name Bay Area appearance is Paula Hawkins, author of the immensely popular The Girl on the Train (which I thought was just okay).  She will be at The Bentley School, 1000 Upper Happy Valley Road in Lafayette, at 7:00 on Saturday night, May 13.  She will be promoting her new book, Into the Water.  And she is being jointly sponsored by Rakestraw Books and Orinda Books.  I won't be going to that one.

In other news:

3.  Amazon Books has announced that it will be opening 2 brick and mortar bookstores in the Bay Area in 2017 - one in Walnut Creek and one in Santana Row, San Jose.  These will be on top of the 6 they already have in other parts of the country.  There are no specific dates yet.  This will be the 1st bookstore in Santana Row since Borders closed 6 years ago.

4.  In the May/June edition of Content Magazine, there is an interview by RBC author and member, Ann Bridges, of RBC author, Marina Adair.  If you don't have a subscription, there are a variety of locations in the South Bay that carry the magazine.  You can go on their website, content-magazine.com, to get locations and other details.

5.  Just this week I have had 3 people say that Iris and Lilly, by Angela and Julie Scipioni, is their favorite book of all-time!  Has anybody read it? I had never heard of it.  The rating on Amazon is pretty darn good - 4.3/5.  If somebody has read it and wants to weigh in, please feel free to do that.  I think we are all open to hearing about a good book.

6.  And, finally, don't forget that we will be having the First Annual Book Exchange (I just added caps for effect) at Recycle Books on Tuesday night, May 9.  You don't have to be an RBC member to come.  All you have to do is bring one of your favorite books to give away.  You are also guaranteed a book to bring home.  If you do decide to come, please RSVP me at lloydrrussell@gmail.com

7.  We have added one author to the RBC schedule and changed the date for another.  Here is the most up-to-date info:

Wednesday, May 3, RBC - Mother Daughter Me (memoir), Katie Hafner

Wednesday, May 24, RBC - Really Enough: A True Story of Tyranny, Courage and Comedy (memoir), Margaret Zhao

Wednesday, June 14, RBC - The Illuminator’s Gift, book 1 of the Voyages of the Legend (YA fantasy), Alina Sayre

Wednesday, July 19, RBC - here there be dragons (dark fiction), Jeff Rosenplot

Wednesday, August 23, RBC - Pure & Sinful, book 1 of the Pure Souls series (urban fantasy/paranormal), Killian McRae

Wednesday, September 13, RBC - Everything We Keep (contemporary fiction), Kerry Lonsdale

Sunday, October 22, RBC, 4:30 - Incriminating Evidence, book 2 of the Mike & Rosie series (legal mystery), Sheldon Siegel

Wednesday, December 13, RBC, (romance), Elisabeth Barrett

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Couple of Events & a Couple of Pics

You all know that I'm a huge fan of Melissa Maglio, the impresario extraordinaire of the Los Gatos Library Evening Book Club.  Well, tonight was her last book club meeting.  Sadly for us members, but happily for her, she is moving on to the San Jose library system.  It's a good move for her, bad one for us.  We (I) will miss her a bunch.

I've told you about the book club we have at one of our corporate food service accounts.  This week, we were extremely fortunate to have both Marina Adair and Elisabeth Barrett make the trek from the South Bay to Pleasanton.  They are both not just outstanding romance authors.  They are outstanding authors (and people!) period.  Here they are.

2 Other Quick Notes:
1.  Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett, is being made into a movie.  I don't know when it's going to hit the big screen.  But I do know that it stars Julianne Moore as the opera singer.  And opera legend Renee Fleming will provide the singing.  And, by the way, I really liked Bel Canto.  It was my 1st Ann Patchett, and I have read everything since (her latest, Commonwealth, is not one of my favorites).
2.  For those of you who follow RBC news, but aren't on the email list, we've got one change.  Katie Hafner, author of Mother Daughter Me, who was supposed to come to Recycle Books next Wednesday, April 26, has now been moved to the following Wednesday, May 3.  I think everybody is going to be very interested to learn why Katie had to switch days. That's all I'm saying for now.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Back-to-Back-to-Back Reviews - this time it's Under A Painted Sky, by Stacey Lee

It's been a while since I have had 3 reviews in a row.  And I would have to say that they couldn't be more different.  Orphan X is a mystery. Irresistible in Love is definitely a romance.  And Under a Painted Sky is a YA with some historical fiction thrown in.  Here's what SPEAK, an imprint of Penguin Random House, has to say:

All Samantha wanted was to move back to New York and pursue her music, which was difficult enough for a Chinese girl in Missouri in 1949.  Then her fate takes a turn for the worse after a tragic accident leaves her with nothing and she breaks the law in self-defense.  With help from Annamae, a runaway slave she meets at the scene of her crime, the two flee town for the unknown frontier.  But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls.
Disguised as Sammy and Andy, two boys heading for the California gold rush, each searches for a link to her past and struggles to avoid any unwanted attention.  Until they merge paths with a band of cowboys-turned-allies, and Samantha can't stop herself from falling for one.  But the law is closing in on them and new setbacks come each day - the girls will quickly learn there are not many places one can hide on the open trails."

There are 5 main characters in this book:  2 girls/boys and 3 cowboys. There were also 5 in The Girl on the Train.  You know what the difference is?  I cared about these 5.  The other 5?  Eh eh/ix-nay/not so much.  In Painted, I definitely had moments of chills, tears, and laughing.  And 23 pages from the end, I let out a big "No!"  There's also a musical instrument competition about 100 pages from the end that I found as enjoyable as any sports-related contest.  But do you know what impressed me the very most about this book?  The writing was outstanding.  It's not highfalutin', but it's spot on.  Take a look at a few examples:

"Above me, yellow and purple clouds puff out above the tree line, like someone punched the sky in the face."
"He walks with the ease of someone with places to go but time to get there."
"The water's surface shifts the rays of the setting sun like hands sifting through cut jade stones."
"The man's orbs are sunk into his skin like two olives dropped in vanilla pudding."

And how about this truism?

"Yet, I can think of no better way to cheer up Andy than with that cure-all that knows no cultural bounds: music."

Under a Painted Sky has a lot of things going for it.  And I enjoyed not only Samantha, Annamae, and the 3 cowboys.  I also got to learn a little about life on the Oregon Trail.  If you teens are absolutely forced to learn some history, then reading Under a Painted Sky will pave the way. Oh, yeah.  Adults, this goes for you too.

A KID'S WRITING CLASS:  C. Lee McKenzie, one of my very favorite MG/YA authors (check out my review of The Princess of Las Pulgas on 3/16/14, and you will see what I mean), is teaching a writing class for kids.  Here is the info:

C. Lee McKenzie will once again open the world of character creation and story development to a new group of young writers at the Young Writers Workshop.
April 29
10:45 to 1:45
Los Gatos Recreation Center, 123 East Main Street, Los Gatos 95030.
McKenzie is a traditionally published author of four young adult novels: Sliding on the Edge (2009), The Princess of Las Pulgas (2010), Double Negative (2014) and Sudden Secrets(2015). She also writes for younger readers (middle grade, 8-14) and has published three novels in that category: Alligators Overhead, The Great Time Lock Disaster, and Sign of the Green Dragon. To find out more about the author, visit her WEBPAGE.
Friends of the Library will supply all writing materials plus water and cookies at noon. Participants are asked to bring a bag lunch. 
Workshop registration forms are available at the library circulation desk and ONLINE.  Completed forms and a check for $15 should be mailed or delivered to Friends of Los Gatos Library, 100 Villa Ave. 95030
Space is limited. Sign up now.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Maverick Billionaires #4 - Irresistible in Love - As Good As 1-3!

First of all, I have a message for the authors, Jennifer Skully and Bella Andre:  YOU ARE NOT MY FAVORITE PEOPLE RIGHT NOW!  Okay, that's not true.  You really are.  But I am tired of crying when I read this series. I mean, c'mon.  Do you think it's fair that a 60+++ year old man should be crying every other page?  Do you think it's right that tears should be sliding down my face when I'm eating lunch at my favorite dive (that would be The Garrett, in Campbell)?  Do you think I can use my triple bypass surgery from 5 years ago to justify this aberrant behavior?  No, no, and I hope so.

I'm not going to reproduce the flap on this one.  If you have been following my posts*, you know that there are 5 Maverick Billionaires. Susan and Bob took in Matt, Evan, Will, and Sebastian as young boys to live with them and their son, Daniel (his younger sister, Lyssa, came along a few years later).  They raised these 4 boys as their own.  And now, each of one of them is independently a billionaire, and each is ferociously supportive of his "brothers" and "parents."  3 of the 5 (Will, Sebastian, and Matt) have found love (in books 1-3, not coincidentally). And now it's Evan's turn.

When the book begins, Evan has just ended his long and unsatisfying marriage to Whitney after learning about a bunch of very serious lies she told him.  He sent her packing a month before and is already beginning the divorce proceedings.  Fortunately, he has a very close friendship with Whitney's sister, Paige.  Could this lead to romance? Spoiler alert - the genre IS romance, after all.

And on top of all that, Evan's got a childhood from Hell, until Susan and Bob take him in.  His mother abandoned him to an abusive father when he was only 9, and Evan has lived with that resentment all of these years.  Will he ever see his mother again?  And if he does, will he ever be able to forgive her?  Oh, and is it possible that his mother had other children...with the same father?  I'm not telling.

I can really go on and on.  But I know there's a limit to how much of my review you will actually read.  For that reason, I'm going to give you a few bullet points:

1.  As I have said in earlier reviews, I really, really like Susan and Bob. And, fortunately, they have a much bigger role in #4 than they had in the first 3.  This greatly pleases me.
2.  About a 1/3 of the way in, I realized that I was mad at myself for waiting almost a month before starting #4.  I justified it because I had just finished another romance, and I thought I needed a few other genres in between.  Well, I was wrong.  Moving forward, I will always read this series the minute I get my hands on the next book.  Jennifer and Bella, I apologize for my wayward behavior.
3.  On page 194 of 320, I wrote this note:  STOP CRYING!
4.  This is not only my favorite romance series of all time.  It's also flat-out one my favorite series of all time, regardless of genre.
5.  I got a takeaway from this book, although it's something that I already knew.  We'll call it a reinforcement, rather than a takeaway: "Sometimes it was harder to forgive the things done to your friends than it was the things people did to you."  I think this can be true for both friends and family.
6.  Finally, the Bay Area has a ton of really great romance authors.  I have thoroughly enjoyed many of them.  But none have grabbed me as emotionally as this series does.  Kudos to Jennifer Skully and Bella Andre for accomplishing that.

People, just read the series...for me...pretty please?

*Breathless in Love - 6/26/15 & 6/29/15
Reckless in Love - 12/21/15
Fearless in Love - 7/16/16

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Gregg Hurwitz's Orphan X - Pretty Good

A couple of my friends highly recommended Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz.  It's been a while since I have read any of his books (O-X is #15).  I didn't remember being a big fan.  But my memory can be a bit spotty at (lots of) times.  Either way, I thought it was pretty good.  I gave it a 3/4.  That is in direct contrast with the rest of the reading public. Amazon averaged 4.4/5 with 658 ratings.  And Goodreads was a 4.08/5, with 12,152 (yep, you're reading that right) ratings.  Let's start with the blurb:

Evan Smoak is a man with skills, resources, and a personal mission to help those with nowhere else to turn.  He's also a man with a dangerous past.  Chosen as a child, he was raised and trained as an Orphan, an off-the-books black box program designed to create the perfect deniable intelligence asset: an assassin.  Evan was Orphan X - until he broke with the program and used everything he learned to disappear.  But now someone is on his tail.  Someone with similar skills and training who will exploit Evan's secret new identity as the Nowhere Man to eliminate him.

There were some things I liked about Orphan X.  And other things...not so much.  Here's a quick list:

thumbs up
1.  the relationship between Evan and Mia and her son, Peter
2.  the conflict between Evan and Slatcher - reminded me of the Soviet and American snipers in Robert Ludlum's The Matarese Circle
3.  the writing - "...an AK held in a gloved hand made a puppet appearance, firing rounds off the walls and ceiling."

thumbs down
1.  one of the main characters was named Katrin - awkward to pronounce in my head (I know that's petty)
2.  long, technical descriptions of weapons, martial arts moves, and electronics - like The Martian, but without the accompanying humor
3.  went on a bit too long

I gave it a 3/4. So, obviously, I did like it.  Would I recommend it?  Yes to some and no to others.  I guess my biggest problem is that I went into it with very high expectations.  That can be a formula for disappointment. In this case, I have to say it was.

Another Upcoming Author Event:  On May 3, at 7:30, Yaa Gyasi, author of The Homegoing, will be coming to the JCC in Palo Alto.  I've already seen her once (at Rakestraw Books in Danville on 7/16/16), and I really enjoyed her book (I posted a review on 7/23/16).  I think you will enjoy both her and her book.

Author Signing at Recycle Books.  This past Sunday, Nikki Avila came to Recycle to sell and sign her book, Hellhound Angel (per her designation, it's a YA fantasy adventure).  She drew a large crowd over the course of 3 hours.  Thanks to Nikki, I've got a copy of HA and will be reading it sometime in the near future.  And she's not even 21!  Here are a couple of pictures.

that's her mom and sister off to the left

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The 1st Annual Book Exchange

I know that many of you who read my blog are out of the area.  Feel free to ignore this post (you probably didn't need permission!).  But we're going to have the 1st Annual Book Exchange, put on by the RBC.  It will be on Tuesday, May 9, at 7:00.  Based on several that I attended at Kepler's, and following the format that Angela Mann set up there, here's how it's going to work:

- everybody will bring one of their favorite books to give away - either new or used (Recycle does have both, after all)
- everybody will draw a number when they check in
- everybody will take a couple of minutes to describe their book to the group (if we have a lot of people, we'll split up into different groups and rotate)
- after we have finished with all of the descriptions, and have placed all the books on a table, we will start the exchange
- the person who drew #1 will go to the table and pick a book
- #2 will then either pick another book or steal the book from #1 - a book can be stolen many times
- anytime a book is stolen, the steelee (yes, I know that's not a real word) picks another one - that book cannot be stolen
- after the last person has gotten a book, then everybody can descend on the table and pick up any books that are still there - these could be ARCs, clearance books, and what-have-you's
- everybody WILL leave there with at least one new book of his/her choosing

Kepler's also had an author there each time to read from his/her book, The author's book(s) was available for sale.  I don't know if we will do that.  But it's possible.  If we have half the good time that I had at several sessions of the Kepler's Book Exchange, then it will still be loads of fun.

P.S.  You do NOT have to be an RBC member to attend.  It's open to the entire book-loving community.  That's all of you, right?

Other News:
1.   I know many of you are big fans of Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend, et al.  Well, HBO has announced that it will be making a mini-series (8 episodes) of book 1 sometime in 2018.  I'm pretty sure that I won't be watching it.  But you never know.
2.  Daniel Silva's 17th book in the Gabriel Allon series (and 20th overall), House of Spies, will be coming out July 11 of this year.  I know I will be grabbing that sucker either on or very near the release date.  And, by the way, his 1st book, The Unlikely Spy, is a standalone that is totally terrific. I have it on my rec table.
3.  Kepler's just announced that Bill Nye, The Science Guy, will be coming to the San Mateo Performing Arts Center on Friday night, July 14, at 7:30.  He will be promoting his new book, Everything All At Once.  You can go on the Kepler's website to purchase tickets.
4.  I have been asked to let everybody know about a women's fiction 1-day writing seminar that will take place on May 20 in Redwood City.  http://womensfictionwriters.org/meetinginfo.php?id=26&ts=1491323652

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Quarterly Reading Report

I've just finished the 1st quarter's reading and thought you might (or might not!) be interested in my recap.
Books read:      16
Pages read (includes the 3 DNF's):  5,081
4.0 -      1
3.875 -  1
3.75 -    1
3.5 -      2
3.25 -    4
3.0 -      4
2.75 -    2
2.25 -    1
This is a decent, not spectacular, start, both in terms of books/pages read and ratings.

Some Other Stuff:

1.  I had a record-breaking day this morning at Recycle Books.  I sold 8 books!  And I signed up one new member for the RBC.  Here's what left the rec table (including one that I grabbed off the back shelf in the store):
Exile - Richard North Patterson
Paris for One - JoJo Moyes
The Last Child - John Hart
My Losing Season - Pat Conroy
Fool Me Once - Harlan Coben
If You Are There - Susan Sherman (RBC)
Mother Daughter Me - Katie Hafner (RBC)
Naked - Betsy Franco

2.  Just found out that Kristin Hannah, she of The Nightingale fame, will be coming to the Montclair Presbyterian Church in Oakland, courtesy of A Great Good Place for Books (this is the same place that I saw Vanessa Diffenbaugh about a year and a half ago, which led to her making an appearance at the RBC).  This is Kristin's ONLY Northern California appearance.  The date is April 29, and the time is 7:00.  It's already on my calendar.  And I reviewed it on 9/4/15.  Gave it a 3.25/4.  There is no RSVP and no entrance fee.  Buying a book is optional.

3.  Also just discovered that Rebecca Skloot, who wrote The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, will be coming to the Nourse Theater, located at 275 Hayes Street in SF, on Wednesday, April 26, at 7:30.  Unfortunately, I won't be able to make that one.  But I reviewed her book on 1/19/16 and also gave it a 3.25/4.  You need to buy tickets for this one - (415) 392-4400.  But I don't think the ticket price includes a book.  P.S.  Did you know that this is an upcoming HBO TV movie?  It's scheduled to air on Saturday, April 22, and stars Oprah and Rose Byrne.

Did you notice how I titled this post Quarterly Reading Report, when, in reality, it was another series of quick-hitters?  That kind of clever subterfuge is the probable cause of a reduced number of blog readers! As Fagin says in the musical Oliver, I'm reviewing the situation.

Friday, March 31, 2017

This and That (AKA Quick Hitters, Part Trois)

1.  There are some very cool author events coming up:
-Anthony Doerr, he of All the Light We Cannot See fame, will be at the Santa Clara Convention Center on Tuesday night, April 4, at 7:00. You can get tickets from Books, Inc.
-Jacqueline Winspear, author of the Maisie Dobbs series, will be at Kepler's on Wednesday, April 5, at 7:30.
-Barry Eisler will be launching his 9th book in the John Rain series on Thursday, June 29, at 7:30.  (I've already got tickets - wouldn't miss it!)

2.  Thanks to my dear friend Ken, I've got some short books for you to read:
Things I Cannot Afford, by Bill Gates
Guide to the Pacific, by Amelia Earhart
How to Live Life to the Fullest, by Dr. Jack Kevorkian
The Amish Phone Directory
How to Drive and Drink Safely, by Ted Kennedy

3.  I picked up Laurie Frankel's This Is How It Always Is, based on 2 strong recommendations from bloggers I trust.  Unfortunately, this time it didn't work.  I got to page 105 and had to stop.  It's actually my 3rd DNF (did not finish) in the 1st 3 months of the year.  The other 2 were This Grave Hour, by Jacqueline Winspear (I know she is hugely popular), and Selection Day, by Arvind Adiga.  I firmly believe it's me and not them.

4. As you know, I subscribe to BookBrowse.  Here's what came up earlier this week: 

BookBrowse - based on a book called All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

Every time we review a book we also explore a related topic. Here is the "beyond the book" article for All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
Elan Mastai is the latest in a long line of writers, thinkers, inventors, and visionaries who have speculated about what our future might look like.

Edward BellamyAll the way back in 1888, a writer named Edward Bellamy, in his novel Looking Backward, forecast the emergence of debit cards, describing the citizens of his utopia carrying a card that would pull credit from a central bank, without having to use paper money.

H.G. Wells had a hand in these kinds of predictions too. For example, in his novel Men Like Gods from 1923, he envisioned e-mail: "A message is sent to the station of the district in which the recipient is known to be, and there it waits until he chooses to tap his accumulated messages. And any that one wishes to repeat can be repeated. Then he talks back to the senders and dispatches any other messages he wishes. The transmission is wireless."

Pretty cool, right?

5.  Finally, I've got some pics for you.  If you aren't in my area (Northern California), or haven't otherwise been to any RBC (Recycle Book Club) meetings, then you don't know one of our very early members, Nikki.  But that doesn't mean you can't appreciate how cute her son Dougie is.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Orphan's Tale, by Pam Jenoff - A BIG Winner!

I have now basically read 3 novels about circuses in recent years:  Water for Elephants, The Night Circus, and, now, The Orphan's Tale.  This one is clearly the best, IMHO.  My Goodreads friend and fellow blogger, Melissa (merrylandgirl.blogspot.com) recommended it.  And she is responsible for recommending to me Sarah Jio, Karma Brown, among others.  Plus, between the time Melissa strongly suggested TOT and the time I started reading it, I saw it crop up on a bunch of other blogsites, all with very high ratings.

And now, As the French would say, Le blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby.  She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep...  When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her.  And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.
Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid.  At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond.  But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another - or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

I really liked this book a whole lot.  Do you remember the beginning of Water for Elephants when Jacob is speaking as an old man?  Well that happens here too.  In the Prologue, the protagonist is 89 years old.  The entire rest of the book takes place in 1944, until the Epilogue.  When I finished the book, I did something that I can't remember doing before - I reread the Prologue.  It obviously made an impression on me.

In TOT, I realized, once again, that I really like stories that take place during WWII; especially when I learn something that I didn't know (as you might imagine, this happens pretty regularly!).  In this case, I learned about circuses in Europe (here, specifically Germany).  And about how some circuses actually hid Jews from the Germans.  As much as I liked The Nightingale, Salt to the Sea, Between Shades of Grey, and even All the Light We Cannot See, The Orphan's Tale gets the edge.  In fact, I'm thinking a 3.75/4.  But I might have to create the 1st 3.875/4.  I know that seems kind of ridiculous, but I do have a 3.625/4.  So, why not?  Let's do it.

I definitely ran the gamut of emotions in this one.  But besides the tears (some of them major), raised eyebrows, intakes of breath, chills, OMGs, and jaw drops, I also felt some major tension in certain spots.  This is not the kind of tension that you feel in a murder/espionage mystery, where the detective/undercover officer/CIA agent is chasing down the bad guy.  It's more tension that is actually worry.  You will know what I mean after you finish the book.

And speaking of finishing the book, make sure you read both the Author's Note and A Conversation with Pam Jenoff.  They will give you some very valuable insights into this period of time along with Pam's influences in writing the book.  How often do I tell you to do that?  Not often.  In this case, it's really important.

Make sure you get this one into your TBR pile.  And put it near the top.  I know you will be happy you did.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Inside Scoop on Copyediting from an Expert

Have you ever wondered what a copy editor does?  And do you know the difference between copyediting, content editing, and proofreading? If yes, great.  If no, or not sure, then you're in luck.  Leslie Hoffman has taken the time to educate us.  Here is an interview with Leslie:

1. How did you decide to become a copy editor, and are you local to the Bay Area?
The truth is that I never made a conscious decision to work as a copy editor. Copyediting chose me. As a member of Saratoga High School’s first graduating class of 1962, English and Typing were my favorite classes.

2. How long have you been a copy editor?
In 1961, Sherman Miller, Owner-Publisher, hired me to type The Saratoga News. That’s right; I “typed” the weekly newspaper on an IBM Executive, while simultaneously proofreading the copy, prior to the text being typeset for printing.

3. What training did you need to be ready for working as a copy editor?
I worked as an executive assistant for several years prior to earning a degree in civil engineering technology, with a minor in technical writing. Living in Sonoma County at the time inspired me to follow through with my desire to write something more creative than business letters and technical reports, so I joined a local writing group. During the late ’90s, PenHouseInk solicited submissions and published annual anthologies. This was my first experience working closely with authors. I’d finally discovered my niche. Then in 2003, I moved to Las Vegas to live near my grandchildren where I joined the Henderson Writers’ Group. One night after our critique session, a few of the members suggested that I begin working as a proofreader and copy editor. The thought of getting paid for what I loved doing inspired a next-day order of business cards.

4. How do you promote yourself, and do you copyedit for anybody besides authors?
I’m fortunate in that the Henderson Writers were a captive group of authors. At the time, there were few freelance editors in Las Vegas and even fewer who edited fiction. Most of my new clients continue to be Southern Nevada referrals, but I’ve worked for two members of the South Bay Writers. And yes, I continue to edit letters and documents for businesses and non-profit groups.

5. Do you copy edit both fiction and nonfiction?
I work with fiction and nonfiction. The editing of fiction, however, I consider a continuous learning process. Grammatical rules [and my personal opinions] aside, guidelines for the writing of fiction are often subjective, as “style” is unique to the author.

6. Can you give us the names of some of the authors you have copyedited for?
I’d be proud to share all of my authors with your readers, but the following are a few recent publications authored by return clients:

Tamburlaine (2017), a novel by Gregory A. Kompes
The Middle Man (2015), a novel by Gregory A. Kompes, Winner: 2016 San
          Francisco Book Festival - Gay Fiction  
Alabama Blue (2016), a memoir by Toni Pacini
Beware of Memories (2016), a novel by Darlien C. Breeze
Mission in Berlin, JJ Bennett: Junior Spy (2016), YA novel by Alba Arango
Writer’s Bloc V-VII, Las Vegas Valley Author’s Showcase (2014-16)
Caesura 2015, The Journal of Poetry Center San Jose—Co-Editor
Flying Without A Net (2012 & 2016), a memoir by Vital Germaine
7. What's the difference between proofreading, copyediting, and content editing?
Authors who seek traditional publishing need to meet the editing standards of their chosen publisher or literary agent and adhere to their submission guidelines. The editing process is equally important when self-publishing. A published book will only be as clean as the skill level of its editor/proofreader and the author’s ability or willingness to accept and correctly transfer those edits onto the formatted manuscript prior to printing.

Before hiring an editor, decide which type of edit you require—content, copy/line, or proof. These can be separate people or combined, but few can do all three skills well, especially not simultaneously.

Substantive/Content Development: For fiction or nonfiction, but especially for novels, this type of editor is consulted first. A substantive editor critiques your writing with emphasis on content, style, technique, organization, and presentation of the complete text.

Copy/Line: Consult this editor next to do a line-by-line proof. A copy editor looks for typos, misspellings, punctuation and grammatical errors, clarity, flow, and consistency of text. If extensive rewrites are necessary, repeat this process prior to submission.

Proofread: Prior to final printing, a proofreader reviews the galley for typos, misspellings, and punctuation, grammatical, and semantic errors.

Once an editor is selected, a Standard Editorial Agreement (contract) is advisable for both client and editor that specifies editorial tasks, deadline(s), method of payment, and any special requests.

“An editor neither selects nor impels. An editor can only suggest; the story belongs to the writer.”   ~ Author Unknown

Leslie E. Hoffman, Copy Editor


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Another Successful RBC Meeting

This past Wednesday night, we had our March RBC meeting.  Terry Shames, author of a series featuring a 60s-something retired sheriff from a small town in Texas, came to talk about book 1 - A Killing at Cotton Hill.  Here is the report I sent to the RBC members:

So let me begin a recap of Wednesday night by telling you that 16 RBC members read and rated the book.  And the average score was 3.675.  That is outrageously high.  Everybody liked it.  In fact, Terry brought a number of other books in the series that sold like proverbial hotcakes.  And on top of all that, she was super interesting.  She answered our questions and added a few on-point anecdotes for emphasis.  It was a very enjoyable evening.

Just a couple of notes from Terry:
1.  Sophie Littlefield (who once came to Village House of Books) and Sheldon Siegel (who is coming to the RBC at Recycle Books in October) were both huge inspirations for Terry when she was starting out.
2.  Terry said the average number of books that authors write before getting anything published is 8-9.  For Terry it was a mere 6.
3.  Terry also said that her grandfather was her inspiration for the chief protagonist, and that her son was the inspiration for the prequel, which just came out a couple of months ago.

Here are a couple of pics from the meeting:

Next Meeting:  We actually have 2 meetings in April.  Katie Hafner, author of the memoir Mother Daughter Me, was supposed to come late last year but had to cancel.  She is now rescheduled for Wednesday, April 26.  And our regularly scheduled April author, Susan Sherman, author of If You Are There, will be coming on Thursday, April 20.  This is a very exciting month!

VHoB:  Village House of Books in Los Gatos closed its doors this past Tuesday, March 21.  If there is any hopeful news, it's that they are looking for another location.  Let's all hope they find one.  None of us want to see any independent bookstore going out of business.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Mike Daley/Rosie Fernandez by Sheldon Siegel - Book 8

I find it harder and harder to stick with series.  As I meet more and more local authors, I am willing to give up some of the series I have been reading through the years.  BUT NOT MIKE AND ROSIE! Sheldon Siegel's legal murder mystery series has been one of my favorites for a very long time.  So when Sheldon finally came out with #8, I was all over that puppy.  And Felony Murder Rule didn't disappoint.

Like most series, the plot is not very important.  Each book has Mike and Rosie defending somebody who is involved in a murder.  So you not only get a crime to solve.  But you also get courtroom drama.  Having myself gone through an unsuccessful law school career (you don't want to know!), I'm always fascinated by what goes on in court.  And since Sheldon is a lawyer, the courtroom action rings true.

One of my favorite parts of all the books in this series is the humor.  I have read 2 other series that combine the legal murder mystery drama with humor - Brian Haig's Sean Drummond and David Rosenfelt's Andy Carpenter.  Sheldon's Mike and Rosie are part of that triumvirate.  I appreciate an author who can make you laugh without taking away from the drama of the story.  Sheldon has now done it 8 times (plus 1 David Gold detective mystery that takes place in Chicago).

There's a lot of stuff that I like about this book, along with the entire series.  Let me briefly (yeah, right) list some:

1.  I feel like I know the family - especially Mike, Rosie, Pete, and Grace. We get introduced to some and reintroduced to others in this book. Welcome to the clan Rolanda, Big John, Melinda, and Thomas.
2.  Although this book will appeal to anybody living anywhere, I still enjoy the local references.  Having lived my entire life in the Bay Area, it's fun to read about places that I know so well.
3.  I am a big fan of legalspeak.  And there's plenty of it.  But it actually enhances the story.  It's never too detailed to detract.
4.  I've already mentioned the humor.  Mike's asides crack me up.
5.  Sheldon makes some really cool comparisons that you definitely don't see every day.  Here are a couple:
-The first thing you learn as a baby prosecutor is that you always point at the defendant.  It's sort
of like throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game.
-He'd worked his way up the criminal ladder in the Tenderloin on an expedited basis - sort of like
the kids who get their MBAs in a year and a half by going to summer school - except the 
curriculum is different.

And then there are the ubiquitous personal connections.  I know, I know.  Just indulge me.

1.  Mike's brother went to Cal.  So did I.  And I think we were there around the same time (yes, I know that his brother is a fictional character...or is he?)
2.  Mike and Rosie now work for the San Francisco County Public Defender's Office.  One of my sons-in-law works for the Public Defender's Office too (not SF County).
3.  There is a situation in which a video taken by a random passerby affects a lawsuit.  My PD son-in-law was involved in a very famous case a few years ago that happened because of a video from a random observer.  You have to admit that this is more interesting than most of my personals, right?

This book has no faults (okay, Sheldon does refer to the 101 freeway as "the 101" one time.  I mean, that is a Southern California nomenclature. But we will forgive him...this once).  It's fun and interesting.  And I strongly recommend that you start with book 1, Special Circumstances. It won't take you long to get to #8.

P.S.  Sheldon is our RBC author for October.  He will be coming to Recycle Books on Sunday, October 22.  Get it on your calendar!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

GREEN APPLE BOOKS - The Interview - Part 2

Last night, you saw a whole mess of pictures of Green Apple Books' 2 locations.  Tonight, you get to read how Pete Mulvihill came to own GAB and a few insights into how they operate their stores.  P.S.  If you haven't been to Green Apple Books yet, make a point of getting there.  Tie it in to dinner in the City, like I did.  You will be REALLY happy you got there. Without further palaver from yours (un)truly, heeeeeeeeerrrrrrr's Pete:

1.      How did you end up owning Green Apple Books?
I started as a temp in 1993 right after college.  I worked for the bookkeeper in the office for a few months, then the receiving department.  I went to grad school part-time, never imagining that bookselling would be my career.  But after a few years, the original owner approached me and another employee about buying the store.  We added a third partner, negotiated an owner-financed buyout, and gradually acquired the store. 

 2.    How long have you owned Green Apple Books?
We took over running the store day-to-day in about 2000.

3.    How many events do you host in a year?
The flagship store on Clement only does about a dozen events a year in-store.  Space is limited.  But our Sunset store, Green Apple Books on the Park, does about 75-100 events each year.

4.    Do you have a social media  and/or event coordinator?
I suppose i"m the social media coordinator, but we have different folks working on different platforms.  And we do have an events coordinator for each store, though those folks also do other things, from running the register to publicity.

5.    How do you pick your authors for the store?
For Clement, we mostly only do local authors.  At Books on the Park, we skew towards literature in translation, small presses, promising debuts writers, and books we just plain love. 

6.    Do you work through publishers, publicists, editors, et al?
We do; we go to NYC each year to meet publishing people who hold the keys. 

7.    Do you have book clubs, kids’ activities, YA groups, etc.?
Not regularly.  

8.    Are you a Bay Area native?
No.  I grew up in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC.  But I moved here right after college, married an SF native, and have two kids who are natives!

9.    Did you grow up a bibliophile?
Yep, though I didn't think of myself that way.  Reading was just part of every night, part of discovering the world beyond my suburb. We were library kids. 

10.  How many stores do you have?   
Two, for now.  Want to buy one?

Monday, March 20, 2017

GREEN APPLE BOOKS - Pictures - Part 1 (stay tuned for an interview - part 2)

I had the pleasure of visiting Green Apple Books in San Francisco this past Saturday night.  It was my 1st visit to their store (plus I stopped in at location #2).  And I came away extremely impressed.  So I've got a whole bunch of pictures to share with you.  Part 2 will be an interview with the store's owner, Pete Mulvihill.  Enjoy!

Flagship store - 506 Clement Street:

Satellite store - 1231 9th Avenue:

When I popped into #2, there was an author event going on.  Very cool.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Quick Hitters - Part Deux

Here is the 2nd part of the Quick Hitters (yeah, I didn't know either that there was going to be a Part Deux):

1.  You know how I'm always referring to my TBR (to be read) pile?  Well, I finally decided to really take a look at what's sitting there.  Here are the different categories of books comprising my TBR pile as of today:

local authors - 11
authors asking me to read their books - 2
recommendations from friends - 4
recommendations from fellow bloggers - 3
recommendations from my Books, Inc. 4th Tuesday Book Club - 1
recommendations from RBC members - 2
upcoming Los Gatos Library Tuesday Night Book Club - 1
gift from Recycle Books employee - 1
recommendation from Joni's workmate - 1
authors I like to read - 1
and my favorite category:
I have no idea who recommended it - 1

There are, of course, a number of crossovers.  But I tried to pick the most dominant category.  And, lest you think that the 28 are all I've got, there are another couple dozen in the back of my car!  They have not yet made their way upstairs to my bookshelf.  However, I am counseling them not to give up hope.  Some of these others could be headed down. And then...who know's who/what will replace them?

2.  Tomorrow, Sunday, the 19th, Linda Gunther will be selling and signing her books at Recycle.  I will be there, too, doing my usual recommending.  If you're at the Campbell Farmers Market, stop by.

3.  Our next RBC meeting is this coming Wednesday night, the 22nd. Terry Shames will be there answering questions about book 1 of her Samuel Craddock series.  It's called A Killing at Cotton Hill.  And she will also have the other books in the series available for buying and signing.

4.  I am 93 pages into Sheldon Siegel's latest Mike and Rosie legal thriller.  #8 is called Felony Murder Rule and is Sheldon's usual top notch, engaging writing.  Plus, he is our RBC author for October.  He will be at Recycle on Sunday, the 22nd, at 4:00.  If you haven't read any books in this series, you should start.  They're enormous fun with a lot of humor.  Book 1 is Special Circumstances.  And our assigned book for the book club meeting is #2, Incriminating Evidence.  Once you start, you won't be able to stop.

5.  Finally, our book this month for the Books, Inc. 4th Tuesday Night Book Club is Selection Day, by Aravind Adiga.  He is the Man Booker Prize winner for The White Tiger.  Even though I was worried about getting through a book written by an award-winning author(!), I figured that I could gut out 285 pages.  Uh, nope.  I got to 130 and said Buh-Bye. I'd rather miss the meeting than read all 285 pages.

I do not plan on Quick Hitters, Part Trois...but you never know.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Do I Have A Fantasy for You!

An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir, is one fine fantasy.  I'll give you a quick blurb and then tell you how I came to read (and love) it.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death.  Laia and her family do not challenge the Empire.  They've seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia's brother is arrested for treason, she is forced to make a decision.  In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire's greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school's finest soldier - and, secretly, its most unwilling.  He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined - and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

2 influences convinced me to read this book.  The 1st was Killian McRae - author extraordinaire, RBC member, and valued FB friend.  She raved about it and gave it a 5/5.  The 2nd factor, and the one that cemented it, was that the author is local.  So I ordered it from Recycle, picked it up the next day (they had it in the store), set aside the 6,528.5 books in my TBR pile, and got right to it.  I mean, I'm always looking for RBC authors (even though we are currently booked through October!).  This is my public THANK YOU to Killian.

Having gushed, let me tell you that it took me a while to get hooked. The 1st 100 pages (out of 446) were good.  The 2nd 100 pages hooked me. And the last 250 pages flew by.  I literally hated to put it down (is there such a word as unputdownable?).  I've read books (Gone Girl, A Man Called Ove, and  Everything We Keep anyone?) where this has happened. But rarely has it been so dramatic.

There are numerous reasons why I liked An Ember in the Ashes so much:

1.  The story alternates chapters between the 2 main protagonists - Laia, a slave, and Elias, potentially a future leader for the Empire.  It reminded me of A.R. Silverberry's Wyndano's Cloak.  Every time a chapter ended, I was disappointed.  But then the other star of the story started up.  And I was disappointed when that chapter ended.  This went on all the way through Ember.
2.  There was suspense every few pages.  When I saw Ken Follett quite a few years ago, he said that he likes to have something dramatic happen every 7 pages.  That's what this felt like.
3.  There were several different romantic elements that I enjoyed and that fit perfectly into the story.  And in the case of each protagonist, there were 2 potential love interests.  In fact, I have to shamefacedly admit that there is one scene late in the book that reminded me of something that happened earlier this week on the last episode of The Bachelor (yes, you are reading this correctly).  Nick looks at the loser of the 2 remaining women, and you know that he's picking the other one. Same thing here.
4.  I had a whole bunch of emotional reactions, leading to physical reactions.  There is one chapter where such a heinous event happens, that I had to put the book down for a (very short) time to collect myself. Do you remember when I spoke about a similar scene in Dennis Lehane's Any Given Day?  I've always said that an emotional connection doesn't have to be a happy one.
5.  The writing is darn good.  Here are a very few examples:
     a.  "I stare at her, realize I'm staring, tell myself to stop staring, and then keep staring."
     b.  Referring to laughing - "The release is foreign and familiar, like crying, but without the pain."
     c.  "It's not true, my head tells me with the zeal of denial."
     d.  "...warmth flows from her fingers into my body, like spiced cider on a freezing morning."
     e.  "It is smooth and warm, like rock polished by water and then left to heat in the sun."
     f.  "...worse than I could have imagined.  More than I could have hoped for."

So what do I think of this book?  I finished it on Tuesday...and ordered book 2 on Wednesday.  Does that answer your question?

P.S.  I'm sorry to say that there are only 2 in the series so far.  Rats.

Monday, March 13, 2017

A Few Quick-Hitters

Hello, all.  I've got just a few brief (yeah, right) notes for you:

1.  I saw today that Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train, is coming to Lafayette, CA on Saturday night, May 13, at 7:00.  This is 1 of only 5 stops she's making throughout the U.S.  She will be promoting her new book, Into the Water.  If you are interested in attending, go to the website of either Orinda Books or Rakestraw Books for more details. They are co-hosting the event.

2.  I'm looking for book recommendations to.  If you have a rec for a book that you've recently read, how about sharing it with all of us?  Just give it to us in the "reply" section.

3.  And speaking of recommendations, I want to offer all of you the chance to be book bloggers.  If you would like to do a guest blog, and IF you have something that would be of interest to our readers, let me know.  You can email me directly at lloydrrussell@gmail.com.  Warning: A committee of one will decide if it's worthy!

4.  I will be setting up a book exchange to take place in late April.  I was thinking either Wednesday, the 26th, or Thursday, the 27th, preceding Independent Bookstore Day, which is Saturday, the 29th. I'll give you more details in the next week or so.

5.  If any of you who are not currently on the email list for the Recycle Book Club (RBC) would like to be added, let me know.  Again, you can answer on the blog or simply email me.

6.  In the next couple of days, I will be reviewing a fantasy called An Ember in the Ashes.  It's a terrific book (thanks, Killian McRae), one that I will highly recommend.

7.  Finally, and following up on the post I had a couple of weeks ago (2/20) about women's fiction, chick lit, et al - I want to set up an event that has a panel of authors, agents, publishers' reps, and literary aficionados to discuss the whole subject of "women's lit."  As you know, it's a subject that I have very strong feelings about.  If any of you have suggestions on how to make this work, or people to contact, let me know.  Admittedly, this might be something that is beyond my ability to coordinate.  For right now, I'm just putting it out there.

C'est tout.