Saturday, September 30, 2017

Love and Other Consolation Prizes - Jamie Ford's Latest

You all know I'm a big Jamie Ford fan.  Both of Jamie's 1st 2 books - Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and Songs of Willow Frost - sit on my rec table at Recycle Books on Sunday mornings.  And I would venture to say that I have never spoken to anybody who didn't like Hotel.  So I was understandably very excited when #3 came out.  And I have to say that it was good (I would expect no less from Jamie), but not quite as good as the other 2.  I'm not exactly sure why.  I think it all comes down to my emotional connection to the characters.  I had a little emotion here and there.  But it wasn't as strong as usual.  I'm making it sound like it was nowhere near as good as Hotel and Songs.  And that it is simply not the case.  I mean I still rated it a 3.25/4!  But all I'm saying is that it doesn't quite measure up.  Here is the blurb:

For twelve-year old Ernest Young, a charity student at a boarding school, the chance to go to the World's Fair feels like a gift.  But only once he's there, amid the exotic exhibits, fireworks, and Ferris wheels, does he discover that he is the one who is actually the prize.  The half-Chinese orphan is astounded to learn he will be raffled off - a "healthy boy to a good home."
The winning ticket belongs to the flamboyant madam of a high-class brothel, famous for educating her girls.  There, Ernest becomes the new houseboy and befriends Maisie, the madam's precocious daughter, and a bold scullery maid named Fahn. Their friendship and affection form the first real family Ernest has ever known - and against all odds, this new sporting life gives him the sense of home he's always desired.
But as the grande dame succumbs to an occupational hazard and their world of finery begins to crumble, all three must grapple with hope, ambition, and first love.
Fifty years later, in the shadow of Seattle's second World's Fair, Ernest struggles to help his ailing wife reconcile who she once was with who she wanted to be, while trying to keep family secrets hidden from their grown-up daughters.

There is no question about Jamie's ability to write.  Take a look:

"We all have things we don't talk about, Ernest thought.  Even though, more often than not, those are the things that make us who we are."
"...and his shoulders were covered in epaulets of pigeon droppings."  (I know...ew, right?)
"He chose his words the way a man on thin ice chooses his footing." (he's referring to men talking to women - I am NOT going there!)
"...Maisie disappeared behind a large Coromandel screen, followed by a trio of seamstresses, who attended to her like a flock of fairy godmothers."

I mean, c'mon.  Jamie Ford can really write.  And, again, I feel like I'm being a little unfair to him.  It's just that when I read 2 books that are both 3.5s, I want/expect all of that author's books to be at least 3.5 (you'll see what I'm talking about when I review my 3rd Sally Hepworth). Regardless of my (probably) unfair expectations, I still recommend Love and Other Consolation Prizes.

That is Jamie's great-grandfather

Sunday, September 24, 2017

A New Book Club At Recycle! AND A Movie Festival Based On A Local Author's YA

Big news at Recycle Bookstore in Campbell:  They are starting a YA book club that's geared for 14 and up.  Here's the info:

Recycle’s Young Adult Book Club
And I Darken by Kiersten White
October 17th    7 - 8 pm
Who: YOU! Ages 14 and older! It’s not only for teens!
What: Recycle’s very first Young Adult Book Club! 
Where: Here! At our store!
When: Every 3rd Tuesday of the month!  First meeting is October 17th  7-8pm
Why:  Let your inner bookworm have fun with other bookworms!
How: Do you sign up? In store or email us at

For your convenience we will carry copies of the monthly pick in store. Or ask for a copy to be reserved while at the meet-up!

More Questions? Just email us at

And on top of that, local author Betsy Franco has written a YA that has been turned into a movie.  Here are those details:

I'm thrilled to announce that the feature film METAMORPHOSIS, JUNIOR YEAR, based on my YA novel, is showing at the Mill Valley Film Festival! The festival calls it "modern mythology for a new generation."

Oct. 8, 2017    12:30 p.m. Sequoia 1 Theatre
Oct. 15, 2017             1:30 Lark Theatre

SYNOPSIS Metamorphosis: Junior Year is a film about becoming. Created by Palo Alto High School students in collaboration with James Franco and based on a Young Adult novel by Betsy Franco, this coming-of-age tale takes on the myriad themes which define youth: identity, sex, purpose, drugs, self-image. Haunted by the disappearance of his sister and plagued by his parent’s expectations, young artist Ovid uses mythology and drawings to understand the world around him while his friends become our window into current high school life—from potheads to poets and shoplifters to singers. 
Friendship, drama, betrayal, and redemption abound as we see how these teenagers relate to one another and the environment around them. Their transformations take on new resonance as we remember that growth is essential to all living things. Animated interludes add whimsy and originality to this modern mythology for a new generation. 

There will be a screenwriting workshop afterwards for teens!

October 8, 2017          2:30-5:00

Friday, September 22, 2017

Own It, by Elisabeth Barrett - A Romance for the RBC

I don't think it will come as a great surprise to you that I'm a romance fan.  But I have to admit that I limit myself to local romance authors.  I mean, I've got Marina Adair, Jasmine Haynes/Jennifer Skully, Bella Andre, and Elisabeth Barrett in my own backyard, so to speak.  That's not to mention all of the authors I read who don't strictly write in the romance genre, but who still have romance in their books.  This could be contemporary fiction or fantasy, and everything around and in-between.

In this case, it's another Barrett book that I want to talk to you about. Elisabeth comes to the RBC on December 13.  Her book is #1 in the It Factor series.  I can tell you one thing for sure:  I WILL be reading the next book in the series.  Here's what Own It is about:

Aidan Phelan has finally gained control over Wolfshead, his family's craft brewery and distillery, but there's one catch - his curvy firecracker of an ex-wife has also inherited a share.  It was Aidan's stubborn pride that destroyed their marriage to begin with, and now he has a daily reminder of that failure strutting around in sexy heels and pencil skirts.  But he has bigger problems - namely establishing himself as CEO by successfully launching Wolfshead's new whiskey without his family driving him insane.
Emma Crandall is shocked when she finds out she's part-owner of Aidan's family business, the company that drove a wedge between the two of them.  Aidan offers to buy her out, but she's not biting.  She's just started up a freelance marketing consulting business, and working with Wolfshead could open the door to bigger and better clients.  Besides, it's high time she proved to herself that she can handle her arrogant ex, even if he is big, bearded, and hot as hell.
Forced to work together, Aidan and Emma must confront their darkest fears and deepest desires.  But owning Wolfshead comes with a price neither of them anticipated...their hearts.

There were definitely a number of things about Own It that I liked:

1.  The whole idea of exes (if you watch Nashville on CMT, there is a musical duo called The Exes - good show) maybe getting back together is cool.  You don't see that too often.
2.  I like the literary device of having the characters talking to themselves in their heads.  Those lead to a lot of laughs for me.
3.  Now, this might come as a surprise to you.  But romances sometimes, maybe, could have sex in them.  I'm just saying that it's a possibility in this one.  But there is a scene in the book in which the the exes are cooking together that I found very sensual...without any sex at all!  Go figure.
4.  Elisabeth uses baristas to make a comparison that I not only thought was terrific, but I have even mentioned it to real-life baristas.  I will let you read it for yourself.
5.  I haven't mentioned any emotional connection with the characters yet.  I guess I didn't have any of that in this book...yeah, right.  The last 15 pages were a combination of chills, tears, and BLUBBERING!  Yep, I actually blubbered.  Fortunately, I was in the privacy of my own restaurant booth (sorry, Garrett patrons).

Do you still need proof that I'm a big Elisabeth Barrett fan?  Then check out a few of my earlier reviews:

Elisabeth Barrett Finally Has a Book in Print - And It's a Real Doozy

Novella #2 for Elisabeth Barrett's West Coast Holiday Series

Well, this one fits right in.  And when all is said and done, I do love me a good romance!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Whole Lotta Stuff

Here is a bunch of news bites:

1.  Books, Inc. Mt. View moved a couple of doors down to 317 Castro St. as of Sept. 1.

2.  Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is being made into a movie with George Takei as executive director.  In the meantime, Jamie Ford's 3rd novel has just hit the stores.  It's called Love and Other Consolation Prizes.  I'm 60 pages into it.  I'm a big fan of his books.

3.  Walter Isaacson of Steve Jobs fame is coming to Kepler's on 10/25 at 7:30 to talk about his new book on Da Vinci.

4.  Andy Weir, author of The Martian, has a new book called Artemis.  He will be coming to Kepler's on 11/20, also at 7:30.

5.  Season 3 of Queen Sugar on the OWN begins this month.

6.  C. Lee McKenzie's 'Double Negative' is listed in the Readers Choice Awards for YA and Middle Grade Books! Show her some book luv by casting YOUR vote (scroll to page 12/16)!

7.  Harlan Coben's 10-episode British TV show The Five is now on Netflix.

8.  On the front page of the Mercury News today, September 19, is a great article about independent book stores and the brick-and-mortar Amazon threat.

9.  A whole bunch of authors have recently lined up for the RBC, including 3 who are coming late afternoon on weekends.  And who will also join any RBC members who are interested in having dinner with them.  If you want to see the whole list, email me at

10.  Interfaith Event About A Story of Courage
and Compassion
With Speaker and Author Marty Brounstein
Saturday evening, October 7, 2017 - 7:00
Sr. Pastors Rajiv Pathik and Jennifer Murdock and their respective congregations of Good Samaritan United Methodist Church in Cupertino and Los Gatos United Methodist Church are pleased to co-host this special event with Marty Brounstein, author of Two Among the Righteous Few: A Story of Courage in the Holocaust. He brings a true interfaith story of courage, compassion, and rescue about a Christian couple in the Netherlands named Frans and Mien Wijnakker who, despite much risk and danger, saved the lives of over two dozen Jews during the Holocaust and World War II. Marty also has a meaningful personal connection to this story and its heroes, which he reveals in his engaging storytelling presentation.
Now into its 7th year, Marty has been on an unexpected journey of sharing this special story in a variety of venues in his home base of the Bay Area plus in over a dozen other cities around the country.
Book signing follows the presentation. The event is open to the community.
Come hear this inspirational story!
Los Gatos United Methodist Church 111 Church Street
Los Gatos, CA 95030
(408) 354-4730

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Here's a Novel about Surfing from a Real Surfer

Mike Degregorio is a long-time surfer.  Here's what the back of his book says about the writing of Thunder Bay:

Degregorio wrote "Thunder Bay" in the early 1990's and it went out of print around Y2k.  It's a big wave story based on real life characters, Native American omens and oversized egos.  It is now edited and revised and after twenty years, re-released in print and Ebook form.

Those of you who know me understand VERY CLEARLY that I have never tried (and will never try) surfing.  So it was very interesting to me to read Mike's novel and learn some stuff about surfing (please don't test me on what I learned...I beg you!).

Let me mention some of the highlights of the book for me:

1.  As a surfing troglodyte, I really appreciated the glossary.
2.  His descriptions of what it must be like to ride a big wave were very visual - e.g. "A swell, like a bull sensing the weight of a cowboy on its back, began to heave upward."
3.  His non-suring descriptions are also pretty darn good - "The cool salt breeze flowed into the freshly cleaned room like soda and ice blending with fine scotch."  And I don't even drink!
4.  How about this description? - "Every wave is different, like people with individual personalities."
5.  And this one - "The topping of raw butterfish resembled a large blob of recently chewed Bazooka Joe bubble gum." (I definitely remember that gum when I was kid, back in the Dark Ages.)

This may indeed by the first, last, and only book I ever read about surfing.  But if so, I'm glad it was Mike's book I read.