Goodreads Choice Awards

Guess what? One more book award to tell you about!

Of course if you’re reading a post about books you might already frequent the stupendous Goodreads site, and if you don’t, I hope you will check it out soon!

Anyhoo, Goodreads, for the lack of a better definition, is a book social networking site, well, it’s really more than that because you can certainly use it without being social at all. It’s very useful for keeping a list of books that you’ve read or books that you want to read, or even books you are currently reading. The site enables you to rate the books you’ve read by a 5 star method, and also put in your ‘two-cents’ in a review if you so desire. You can start a book group, or be part of book group, try your hand at some trivia, and even enter to win some book giveaways. And if you are just considering picking up a title, you can look it up, read the synopsis and see what other people think about, or Goodreads will give you suggestions for what to read next based on your past reads. ¬†Okay, enough with the public service announcement and on to the awards ūüôā

This is the fourth year that Goodreads has held their Goodreads Choice Awards. There are three rounds of voting, and the winners are chosen by the votes placed by all of us readers. Yeah, control at last!! There are 20 categories, including Fiction, Horror, Science¬†Fiction¬†and Young Adult Fiction. In the first round there are 15 books in each category plus a write-in, the Semi-Final round includes the top 5 write-in picks, bringing the total to 20. ¬†After that vote, it’s whittled down to 10, and the Final Round¬†of voting takes place bringing us to the winner in each category. It’s kind of like the People Choice awards but for the book world.

I don’t vote in all the categories, but I usually always have at least one favorite in the categories that I do read. It’s really fun to see which books get the write-in votes, and which books make it through each round.

So as they say here in Chicago,

“Vote early, and vote often”

Anchorage, a glutton’s delight!

As I’ve posted previously on this blog, Anchorage is full of unique places to drink and dine. ¬†After staying here a few times in the dark and the cold I can certainly understand why, ~a person has to enjoy themselves somehow, right?

Of course maybe not all these restaurants would appeal to every palate, but I’m lucky in the fact that I can salivate over a pizza and beer equally as well as I can over a prime choice of steak and a nice glass of wine. I’m an equal opportunity glutton, I don’t discriminate against many types of foods (well maybe lutefisk and haggis), or beers or wines, and thanks to an easygoing spouse I am able to try at least a few new places every time I travel to the great white north.

Portabella mushroom, stuffed with crab meat and shrimp

Last week we found an article in one of the local rags that had a list of the reporter’s favorite Sunday brunch spots, out of 10 of these spots we had only managed to visit one! Realizing we must rectify this oversight immediately, we visited one of her favorites for lunch the very next day. (Don’t say we let grass (or ice) grow under our feet!)

Our luncheon locale? The Beer Tooth Grill.¬†Not only had we never heard of it, we had never even been near it. Obviously by the slew of cars parked every whichaway, we were one of the few residents of Anchorage who were clueless about it’s gratifying grub. The picture above shows you what I chowed down on, a meaty portabella mushroom, stuffed with creamy combination of crab and shrimp meat. It was just as delicious as it sounds. Nanook had a ham and cheese sandwich and we both washed our meals down with beers from their very own Broken Tooth Brewery.

The owners of the restaurant, Rod Hancock and Matt Jones, own not only this restaurant and the brewery, but also their original restaurant, Moose Tooth, and a dine in theatre right next to the Grill called Bear Tooth Theatre Pub. I really want to go to the theatre on my next visit, ’cause it sounds like a great time.¬†And I just heard last night that they are going to open yet another restaurant fairly close to our house…I guess I’m going to have to try that one too!

Alas, so many restaurants (and books) so little time!

Irish Book Awards 2012

I wanted to share another book award I’ve just recently discovered! ¬†You would think that my love of Ireland would have made me aware of the Irish Book Awards before this, but again I realize just how inadequate my knowledge of all things bookish really is!

The major sponsor of the awards is¬†Bord G√°is Energy Company, a highly literary energy company by the looks of their website! ¬†As quoted on their website they have entered into a three-year sponsorship with the Irish Book Awards, “to share our customer’s passion for books and reading”. This is even more in evidence by the fact that they sponsor their own Bord G√°is Book Club, which¬†features books of the month, reviews and even contests. ¬†Very cool!

The Award’s shortlist was just announced on October 25, 2012 and the winner in each of the twelve categories will be announced on November 22nd, 2012. Unlike some other awards, the winners from Ireland are determined by a public and book industry vote.

There are six titles shortlisted in each category, and I really love the fact that not only is there a category for the Novel of the Year, but one for the Popular Fiction book of the Year¬†as well, and this year they’ve introduced a¬†Cookbook of the Year¬†category.¬†What’s also marvelous is that they’ve included an award for all those hard-working booksellers throughout Ireland, so they can get some well deserved recognition.

So, if you’re interested in getting even more new titles to add to your ever growing ‘to be read’ list, click on one of the links above and peruse the Irish Book Award Shortlist!

Related articles

The Bee-Loud Glade by Steve Himmer

The Bee-Loud GladeThe Bee-Loud Glade by Steve Himmer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While I think this was a well written book, it’s the subject matter of the story that’s made me not rate it higher. I don’t really like reading books or watching movies that try to teach me moral or political lessons, call me shallow, but that’s just the way I am. ~okay, I hear shouts of ‘SHALLOW’, out in cyberspace :)~

This is the story of Finch, a casper milquetoast of a man, who agrees to live his life at the whim of a very wealthy man, Mr. Crane for 5,000,000 bucks. Finch’s new position?, Mute Hermit residing in the garden of Crane’s estate. Crane is going to buy his own way to living the simple life, by living vicariously through a bought and paid for employee.

Reminiscent of the movie ‘Cast Away‘, our story revolves around Finch’s adjustment¬†to his new environment, but because of the written word we are able to follow his thoughts as he goes through this experience and finds peace in the world of nature that surrounds him. ¬†There’s no doubt that the author is trying to make the point that we are all in too much of a hurry and out of touch with nature, and we need to just stop and smell the roses and enjoy some peace and tranquility.

The problem with the narrative for me was the lack of conflict. Finch doesn’t care about money, he doesn’t even seek out the Hermit gig, he is pretty much just a drone who waits for someone, anyone, to steer him in the next direction and so Crane is just the next person to take him by the arm and lead him down the garden path, literally. Maybe if Finch had been someone like Crane, living in the fast lane, the offer of a huge amount of cash to shed his former existence to be a Hermit would have been more poignant, but instead it was just kind of monotonous.

Here is the poem by Yeats that gave the author his title,

Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall

Blue AsylumBlue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book really snagged me right from the beginning because I love historical fiction and I love books set in insane asylums, a win win!

Accused of being insane by her husband, Iris Dunleavy is put on trial, judged to be mad and sent off to an asylum on Sanibel Island in Florida. Set during the Civil War, the story unfolds through the eyes of Iris, as we follow her journey by train and boat to this remote location.

Iris is an attractive woman, a lady, not the usual type of person that is committed to such a place and she isn’t insane. Her only crime is not being a compliant wife for her plantation owning husband. She abhors slavery, and the cruelty and violence that her husband inflicts on his own slaves. Her husband hopes that she can be ‘cured’ at the asylum and come back to him a more malleable wife.

At the beginning I thought the theme of this book would center around the lack of rights that women held during this time period (or for many years afterwards for that matter). After all we have Iris’s husband easily getting her sent away for displeasing him and we have the doctor at the asylum thinking that women who speak their minds or get emotional suffer from hysteria and need to be administered a cure.
But somewhere along the line the writing and the story seemed to get a little watered down and lose some of its power. It was still a good book, but I felt like the last half of the story didn’t live up to its beginnings.

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2)Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had this book sitting on my e-reader just waiting for me to dive in to it for-ever, but I kept putting it off because for one thing it was the second book in a trilogy (not always the greatest in my opinion) and secondly it was over 500 pages. Boy, was I silly to wait so long because this book was even better than the first book, ‘A Discovery of Witches’!

The story starts off right where we left off, our witch and vampire, Diana and Matthew have traveled through time and ended up in Woodstock, England circa 1590. Deborah Harkness is such an excellent writer that she is able to describe their tumble back in time and make you see how the old world must have appeared to first time visitor Diana. Her descriptions of the dwellings, customs, language and landscape make the reader feel as if they are back in time as well.
As a lover of history, I appreciate the research that the author has done so that a history lesson is weaved seamlessly into the story.
I love the brushes and interactions the characters have with notable names of the period, some of them familiar others not so much. Throughout my reading I’ve run to Google more than once to find out more about one of these real life characters!

The book wrapped up a few loose threads, but of course left the door open for the third novel, which I’m hoping comes out soon!
I highly recommend this series, even if you aren’t much of a fantasy reader.

Authorish Auction

The auction house Profiles in History has announced a tantalizing auction of correspondence, manuscripts and personal items from some of the world’s greatest authors. Beginning on December 18, 2012 they will begin auctioning 300 of the most important pieces from this private collection of over 30,000 items including,

a lock of hair from Edgar Alan Poe,

a 1910 letter from L. Frank Baum to his son Robert,

and this letter from Raymond Chandler to his editor denouncing the McCarthy hearings.

I know that I will never be able to afford any of these priceless pieces, but I sure wish I could just take a gander at them! There isn’t any information on who this private collector is (or was) or why these items are being sold at this time, but that certainly adds a bit of mystery to the whole thing doesn’t it?

I do know one thing, whoever owned all these items was certainly my kind of person!