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2013 Reading List
Goodreads and Amazon Reviews of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
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Books in General

2013 Reading List

This is my reading list from 2013. I didn't count short stories unless I read the entire anthology. I also did not include WIPs from my writer's groups nor the manuscripts that I read for a small publishing company. Last of all, I didn't include a great many e-books because I lost track of them.

You'll notice that if I like an author I tended to read several works by that author. I also discovered three new authors (new to me) in 2013. One is Lesann Berry. Another is Danny King. The last author which I discovered just before Christmas is Robin Sloan. I recommend all three for very different reasons.

I also revisited some classics such as The Great Gatsby and Fahrenheit 451.

What did you read in 2013?


2013 Reading List 

1. A Cure for Dreams by Kaye Gibbons
2. Divining Women by Kaye Gibbons
3. The Unstrung Harp by Edward Gorey
4. Sights Unseen by Kaye Gibbons
5.  A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future… by Michael J. Fox
6.  Flight to Avoid by Larry Long
7.  Minority Report by Philip K. Dick
8.  The Stranger and Other Stories by Glen Robinson
9.  Little Bee by Chris Cleave
10. Wild Child by T.C. Boyle
11.  Eden by Olympia Vernon
12.  The Creator’s Map by Emilio Calderón
13.  The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
14.  Green Lake by S.K. Epperson
15.  Toy Cemetery by William W. Johnstone
16.  German for Travelers: A Novel in 95 Lessons by Norah Labiner 17.  Kinderlager: An Oral History of Young Holocaust Survivors by Milton J. Nieuwsma
18.  The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani
19. The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
20. Alternate Realities by Lesann Berry
21. Passing Judgment by Lesann Berry
22. The Vitae by Lesann Berry
23. The Henchman’s Book Club by Danny King
24. On The Pulse of Morning by Maya Angelou
25. Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz
26. The Everafter by Amy Huntley
27. The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry
28. Haunted Tales of the Grotesque by Joyce Carol Oates
29. The Box by Gunter Grass
30. The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer
31. The Heroines by Eileen Favorite
32. The Coffins of Little Hope by Timothy Schaffert
33. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
34. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
35. The Man in the Picture by Susan Hill
36.  Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
37.  Ernest Hemingway on Writing Edited by Larry W. Phillips
38.  Dangerous Alterations by Elizabeth Lynn Casey          

Goodreads and Amazon Reviews of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Below you'll find the review I posted on both Goodreads and Amazonfor Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore.


Love, love, LOVE this book! I've tweeted, Facebooked, emailed, blogged, and reviewed this book. If I do anything more, author Robin Sloan is going to have to put me on the payroll!

I rarely get this excited about a book, but Mr. Penumbra's really resonated with the bibliophile in me. This debut novel abounds with quirky, intelligent characters on a quest. I truly adored Ms. Lapin! How could I not? She is me and I am her.

Rarely do technology and literature met and mesh. Just think about the ongoing debate over e-books. However, if technology and literature had a love child, this would be it. Even the cover glows in the dark!

From first to final page, the reader becomes part of a journey that he/she may not always understand (I'm not that technologically advanced.), but is always willing to follow. There are parts that are more bookish and in those sections, I felt like I was leading, guiding the others along the way. From Google headquarters to age-old libraries, Sloan blends the old with the new, and makes it work.

The truth he reveals/exposes is one you may have heard and forgotten. If it's your first time to see it, then enjoy and drink deeply of it.

I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who loves books, reading, technology, architecture, mystery, secret societies, libraries, independent book stores, gaming, and magic realism. Did I leave anyone out? In other words, this book is for everyone.

Buy it, read it, enjoy it, sleep with it under your pillow to inspire good dreams.

Discovering New Talent

I love when I get the opportunity to discover new talent. Okay, maybe I didn't discover them, but I did just recently find them.

One such talent is Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore (his debut novel!). I may have found a new favorite book.                              
                                         
Mr. Penumbra's is a book lover's dream, a bibliophile's paradise. It references other books, drops hints and clues to an even greater book loving group while incorporating quirky characters (I am Ms. Lapin.), the Google campus, art, bookstores, and a quest. How can anything get any better than that? Don't just take my word for it, check out the reviews and comments on Good Reads. The book also glows in the dark! There's nothing I don't like about this book!

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves books or loves reading books (and yes, there is a difference).

I personally love books on so many levels. From reading to the way they are made, the quality of paper, the illustrations, type setting, the endpapers, and so much more.




To me, marbled endpapers are to swoon for,









      a deckle edge is almost
      orgasmic--almost!








I love to hold a used, but well-loved book in my hands and imagine all the other hands who've held it before me, all the other eyes that have read the words, the fingers that have traced a particularly intriguing line. A book with a well-broken in spine shows the love given it when it was first purchased. A book losing its pages shows me that it wasn't taken care of properly by someone who either didn't know or (dare I think it?) didn't care.

What was your favorite book of 2013?

P.S. I have another previously undiscovered talent that I hope to bring to you in 2014. This one is totally my discovery, and doesn't have to do with books, but will captivate and fascinate you in addition to leaving you in awe of his talent.

Torture, isn't it?











The Great Gatsy & an Apology to Nathan Bransford

I follow Nathan Bransford's blog and have for several years. He's an ex literary agent turned author, and all around informative guy with a huge and active following.

Over the years, he has ranted and raved over his favorite book, The Great Gatsby. He, on occasion, includes quotes from the book which have never impressed me, and I didn't quite understand the appeal. I figured it was just a case of personal taste.

Last week, I picked up a copy of Gatsby at Goodwill (one of my all-time favorite bookstores). At fifty cents, I didn't think I could go wrong even if I hated it and ended up donating it back.

I started reading it the same evening and much to my surprise I loved it! I didn't put it down until the wee hours of the morning when I finished!

I want to apologize to Nathan for doubting his taste. It's a great story, beautifully written, with layer upon layer of social commentary and observations of human nature. It's a love story, a story of obsession, gain, and loss, and ultimately, what is truly important in life.

Below is my apology to Nathan which I sent to his blog.

Dear Nathan,

I want to formally apologize to you for ever doubting your taste in books.

I've followed your blog for years and have always questioned your belief that The Great Gatsby is a fantastic novel. Even when I read the various Gatsby quotes you've posted, I was unmoved.

I recently picked up a copy, and I must admit that I've been wrong. While I won't say that it's my favorite book, it is in the top 10. I read it through in one night, unable to put it down.

I'm also posting a link to this apology on my website so my followers can see me eat humble pie.

Sincerely and apologetically,
Tammy Setzer Denton

I think it's important to admit when you're wrong, and in this case, I certainly was. The takeaway from this is not to limit yourself with preconceived notions. I missed out for years because I was wrong. Don't let the same happen to you, and guess what? It doesn't just apply to books. Now, I have to re-evaluate all the things I've avoided over the years for a variety of reasons. It may be just the day/week/month/year to give them a try!

Let me know what you've been avoiding.




Is the Chaos Over Yet?

It's been a crazy, hectic, chaotic last four months, but it's finally starting to slow down. My son has regained the feeling in his nearly severed fingers, my daughter is married, a brother has recovered from open heart surgery, a brother-in-law is learning to carry on with a few less toes than before, and I'm enjoying my new teaching position.

With a little less on the horizon in regard to family events (although the majority of recent ones were not planned), I hope to spend more time on writing. In fact, I  wrote today! Six pages of a short story that may or may not even have a purpose other than to make me feel better about getting some creative writing done.

I've been doing a lot of writing over the last three or four months, but none of it has been creative. Between writing tests, creating activities, freelance jobs, reports, query letters, and synopses, I have a high word count, but none of it came from the heart (except for maybe creating learning activities-I did enjoy that!)

Last week, I sent out three query letters, researched the 2014 Missouri Writer's Conference which I plan to attend, and received notice that I had been shortlisted for the 2013 Small Axe Literary Competition. While I didn't win, I was in the running for a while. I consider it quite an honor to be in consideration. It's also a sign that my writing is getting better.

Another sign of improvement is that I was going through some old flash drives and found a few short story starts that sputters to a stop for one reason or another. Many of them, I didn't even remember. Yet, one stood apart from the others. In fact, I admired it so much that I figured I must have copied it from somewhere as a source of inspiration. The choice of wording was spot on, the verbs powerful, and the promise of an intriguing story lay in a few short paragraphs. Impressive. In fact, so impressive that I was certain it came from someone else!

In an effort not to plagiarize and a desire to find out more of the story behind this sampling of paragraphs, I googled it. Nothing. I binged it. Still nothing. I tried a few other search engines which returned zero results before it finally hit me. I did write these paragraphs. I did this.

I always thought it was better to impress someone else (preferably an agent or publisher) with my writing skills, but I have to say I think I might like impressing myself even better. Of course impressing myself doesn't mean I'm any closer to being traditionally published than I was a year or two or three ago, but I do think it means that I won't be ashamed of my work when publication does occur.

In the meantime, I'll keep plugging away, learning more about the craft, writing daily, and submitting.  You do the same.

Here's a few links to check out:





And last, but not least, one photo of the bride. You can forgive me later.





























;


Updates and Recommendations

Last night, I finished my freelance articles for June with three hours to spare. I wrote 10,000 words for other people and only 350 words for me.  However, they were 350 words of pure pleasure, and freelancing pays the bills so I can afford to write.

I will continue to use the Pomodoro Technique which I wrote about in my last post. Setting aside a specific amount of time and writing against the clock/alarm/timer seems to work for me.  The hardest part was remembering where I had left off in my second novel, Spared Parts. I will be rereading what I have and checking my notes to refresh my memory. Another bonus is that my China connection is back in the US so I can pick her brain.

On a completely unrelated note, I'm putting my house up for sale and will hopefully move into a condo no later than early fall. It's an emotional roller coaster as I've lived in my home for 28 years. I love it, my neighbors, and my neighborhood, but the outside maintenance is killing me and stealing my creative time.

Moving will be another short-term factor that will take away from my writing, but it will not last forever (although I'm sure it will seem that way).  Anyone with moving tips, send them my way. I think I've forgotten all that I knew about the process.

I would also like to encourage readers to check out Alternate Endings  by Lesann Berry. If you're into sci-fi and like the style of Ray Bradbury, many of her short stories in this anthology really reminded me of his work. It's available at Amazon.

P.S. I have no idea why some words are highlighted and underlined in red. It's a glitch.

Update

I'm playing some serious catch up from having bronchitis and other health issues. In addition, my first version of this post, crashed and is now somewhere in cyberspace.

After wallowing in a pity pot for being ill and getting behind, Carol Tice's post.
A Peek at the Real Life of That Writer You Envy, came at a good time. After reading it, I felt much better.  I suggest you read it too. She has lots of useful info at her website. Check it out and you'll want to follow her. I do.

Another thoughtful post , On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas, by Jonathan Morrow on Copyblogger.

Amazon has announced the Semi-Finalists for the 2013 ABNA Competition. I read the excerpt of Scott Cairn's entry, Silver. The excerpt is free to download. You can read my review, Revealing the Secret With Tantalizing Reluctance! I recommend it. 

I also want to recommend Book Bub to anyone who hasn't tried it. I've been downloading the freebies searching for new authors. In some ways, it's like reading through a slush pile as many of the freebies are self-published and I'm coming to the opinion that most are published too soon. More on that in a later post as I will review some of the books I've read.

Alternate Endings - FREE Book

Event for

June 04, 2013    12:18AM
June 23, 2013    11:59PM
Global


Lesann's book, ALTERNATE ENDINGS, is featured at Story Cartel this month. You can download this book for FREE. Read this collection of speculative fiction short stories in exchange for an honest review. Available in multiple formats-so tell a friend and check out some alternative history!


Also check out

It will be weird. You've been warned.



Good Reviewer/Bad Reviewer - Am I a Troll?

I've been doing a lot of reading via the freebies at BookBub. On a rare occasion  I'll purchase one, but it has to have both a good cover and a great pitch. 

Unfortunately, I've found very few that I can finish and even fewer that I would recommend to another reader.  I've thought of writing reviews for them, but hate to be dishonest. I can't say they are great when they're not, yet I don't want to be a troll and crush someone's dreams of being a writer. It's a dilemma.

The greatest consistency I find among these books is that the author has published too soon. They all need work. From the basic plot line to the characterization to typos, grammatical errors, and poor formatting. Every single one I've read has a least two of the above mentioned.

I'm not great with grammar myself so if I notice the errors, I can only imagine what the Grammar Nazis think. 

One I read, actually had ten pages which were repeated twice in a row. I believe that is something an editor wouldn't miss if it had been professionally edited.

A lot of what I've read are common mistakes made by beginning writers. I know this because I've made them myself. I've made them, but didn't publish them.

Rather than turn off my future readers, I've chosen to wait, to put the manuscript away and re-edit it after I've forgotten about it. After I've fallen out of love with my own words. 

Russell Blake writes a great post about his reluctance to write reviews. You can check it out here.



Patience, Please?

I'm hoping my readers will hang in there while I attempt to get my computer problems under control. I currently have two laptops and one desktop computer of which zero work correctly.
 
I can receive emails on one, but can't send them out. I can write on one, but can't save it.  I can write and save on one, but can't use the internet.  I've ordered an external hard drive to back everything up and get at least one functioning rather than breaking down and buying a new one. Fortunately, my future son-in-law works with computers and has promised to help. I knew my daughter picked a good one!
 
In other news, I just sent out another query on my finished novel, Man of the House. Wish me luck! I've also applied for a small grant and should be hearing either "yay" or "nay" from them in the next week or two at the most.  In addition, I've been working at my freelance writing career bringing in a little (but very appreciated) cash. Afterall, I may need to buy a new computer soon.
 
On a more personal note, I watched the season finale of Once Upon a Time, and will sadly miss all the characters for the next several months. I have developed quite a fancy for Robert Carlyle who plays Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin. My friends think it's creepy that I find him attractive even as Rumple, but like Belle, I can see his inner goodness.
 
So, dear readers, please bear with me while I get my computer repaired and can communicate with you on a more regular basis. Until then, I'm still writing--the old fashion way with paper and pencil. Guess what? It still works!
 
 
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