Monday, November 29, 2010

Best Friends, Bookstores, and Beating the Odds

With more and more independent bookstores closing monthly, this article caught my eye instantly when I headed over to the Huffington Post today...and, I'll admit, it made me a little teary:
After years of buying books at Narnia Children's Books in Richmond's Museum District, best friends Jill Stefanovich and Jenesse Evertson have bought the entire store.

"I just couldn't imagine living in Richmond without this store," Stefanovich said.

The two took over the store on Kensington Avenue at North Belmont Avenue this month and have renamed it BBGB.

It will essentially remain the same, though the partners are expanding the store's reach and selection.

Among those changes are a website, a social-media presence and an increased number of titles, particularly from overseas.

They also plan on holding readings, workshops and author events at the store, as well as planning to host sales and other events at temporary locations elsewhere.

"We'd like to get our books out to the places where you wouldn't expect to see them," Stefanovich said.

They also are working on programs to get books to children who don't have access to them, including getting books as gifts for children with special needs through Greater Richmond ARC.

Stefanovich and Evertson took over ownership of the store from Kelly Kyle, who opened the store in 1984. Narnia, which originally opened in Carytown, moved to its current location in 2002.

This year, a retiring Kyle put the store up for sale. Without a buyer, she would have closed the store.

The partners were told in the early part of the summer that Kyle had found a buyer. But on Sept. 21, Stefanovich and Evertson found out that the sale had fallen through.

"We knew we had to do it," Evertson said. "We couldn't lose this store."

Keeping the Narnia name was not an option, the partners said. In 2006, copyright holders of the Narnia series of books tried to stop Kyle from using the name. The dispute was settled -- Kyle was allowed to use the name as long as she owned the store.

The new name BBGB is purposefully cryptic, the partners say.

Officially, the initials stand for Bring Back Great Books, but "it can be anything. We want people to come up with their own interpretation," Stefanovich said.

While the two decided they wanted to buy the store, there was one fairly substantial obstacle: Evertson doesn't live in the U.S.

Evertson had lived in Richmond for several years before her husband was transferred to Europe. She lives in London now, though she plans to eventually return.

The partners talk -- and Evertson attends meetings with designers and lawyers -- via online video chat service Skype.

The separation won't hurt the business, the partners say. In fact, it allows them to focus on what they are good at individually.

"It works because we have different strengths," Evertson said while sitting at the store recently during her first visit since they took over the shop.

Stefanovich, along with two employees who worked at Narnia for years, will run BBGB and create outreach programs. Evertson, who has a doctorate in literacy and a master's degree in children's literature, will work with publishers to unearth new titles and will write the store's blog.

Both are avid readers.

"The real test is going to be what happens when we're together," Evertson said, laughing.

Read the article HERE

You go, Stefanovich and Evertson!

It makes me smile that despite all the changes in the publishing industry, there are still people out there who are fighting to save the indies, to get back to the beauty of hand-selling and recreating the feeling of comfort and homeyness of a good, personally driven bookstore.

Stories like this are wonderful reminders of why the industry--and printed books--will never truly die, as some cynics have claimed in the past.

Gotta love it.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Book Review: Glimmerglass

When all I needed was to get away from my life, sink my teeth into a good book and be transported, Glimmerglass by Jenna Black was the answer to my prayers. Not only is Black's world-building believable and seamless, her story filled with high-stakes adventure and exciting duplicity, but her grasp of the teenage voice, of the everyday struggles of dealing with alcoholism, single-parenthood, and feeling like you don't belong is astounding.

When I met Dana on page one I was hooked. I could already relate to her and nothing had even happened yet. The power of her emotions was palpable, and I wanted to turn the pages just to know where her journey was taking her. And then, to my extreme delight, the rest of the story exceeded any expectation I could have had.

Normal: It's all she’s ever wanted to be, but it couldn’t be further from her grasp...

Dana Hathaway doesn’t know it yet, but she’s in big trouble. When her alcoholic mom shows up at her voice recital drunk, again, Dana decides she’s had enough and runs away to find her mysterious father in Avalon: the only place on Earth where the regular, everyday world and the captivating, magical world of Faerie intersect. But from the moment Dana sets foot in Avalon, everything goes wrong, for it turns out she isn't just an ordinary teenage girl—she's a Faeriewalker, a rare individual who can travel between both worlds, and the only person who can bring magic into the human world and technology into Faerie.

Soon, Dana finds herself tangled up in a cutthroat game of Fae politics. Someone's trying to kill her, and everyone seems to want something from her, from her newfound friends and family to Ethan, the hot Fae guy Dana figures she’ll never have a chance with…until she does. Caught between two worlds, Dana isn’t sure where she’ll ever fit in and who can be trusted, not to mention if her world will ever be normal again... (Cover copy, St. Martin's Griffin)

Charming, witty, and intelligent, Black's writing is brilliant and readable, keeping me in rapt attention as I followed Dana, Noah, and Kimber through the streets of Avalon. I zipped through this book in four days, much quicker than I had any book in a while, and found myself disappointed to put it away every time I had to stop reading for the day.

The only exception to my glowing review of this wonderful book is that the ending left me a bit unsatisfied, with the loose ends all still dangling and the necessity of a sequel very clear. Cliffhanger endings, in general, I don't have too much contention with...if it's done in such a way that I'm still satisfied that the book was complete enough in itself. Sure, I'll know another book in the series is to come, but when I close the binding, I need to be able to see the story as it's own whole. Glimmerglass left me unable to do that, my love for the story suddenly being outshined by my shock at the abrupt ending.

Looking back (I finished the book about a month ago *blush*), it's the love that I still recall--the phenomenal writing, the nonstop thrill, the depth of emotion. With that in mind I can wholeheartedly recommend this read to any fantasy or YA lover. And you can bet your bottom dollar that I'll be snagging a copy of the next book, Shadowspell, as soon as it's released in early 2011.

The Last Word: A bright and bewitching page-turner with enough magic to draw a reader happily under its spell despite a somewhat surprising and unfinished ending.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Long-Awaited Apology...and Promises of Change

I know it's been a while, dear readers. I'm sorry for that. Things over this way have been a whirlwind, for a variety of reasons really. But one in particular stands out from the others: Tomorrow is my last day at my current job.

It's the nature of the business, really. In the publishing world people bounce from house to house, zig-zagging their way up the ladder. It's a small industry and often you find yourself working again with someone you worked with years before or in the very same office you left several years prior.

In my case, though, it's more of a lateral move, a judgmental call that was not easy to make. I'm leaving Pocket for Penguin, but more than that, I'm leaving editorial for business development.

Trust me, that's a fact I'd never thought I'd ever face. I came into publishing with one goal: to be an editor and as such make a difference through books. And four years in, I find myself going down a new path, not one I looked for but one that found me, one that is exciting and scary and that holds great opportunity and potential reward.

I won't try for a second to claim I'm not sad about leaving because I am. I'm going to miss my bosses, my co-workers, and of course, my wonderful authors tremendously. Heck, I have one more day and I miss them all already. But as we all know, publishing is ever-changing and quickly evolving--just as we are as individuals. It's a change and adventure that, despite my tendency to stay put and hide from anything unfamiliar, for whatever reason the universe compelled me to attempt.

So, as you can probably imagine, it's been an emotional and difficult few weeks making this decision and then trying to accept the decision I made. Don't get me wrong, I'm incredibly excited about this new venture, working on the digital side of things and being at the forefront of some innovative an exciting new projects (one in particular of which I was hired on for but it's top secret at the know I'll tell you the moment I'm allowed!) is going to be such a new and different experience for me, and all the signs point to it being a great move.

But it's a biiiig life change. So it's had a little tied up in knots, hence my absence. One thing this new will allow though, is for me to have my free time back, to have a little more motivation and energy to get back into doing some of the things I love--pleasure reading, writing, and chatting with all of you.

So, get ready. Because RBtL is gonna be kicking it back into gear pretty damn soon.

I have two book reviews on deck, a couple of guest bloggers in the works, and some new article topics percolating up in that crazy-full-of-emotion brain of mine.

Can't wait to share it all with you!

In the meantime, enjoy this adorable book trailer for my dear friend and fantastic author Jill Myles's upcoming release, My Fair Succubi. Her artist husband--who seems to be the sweetest man on earth minus his chosen NHL team allegiance *wink*--actually made it for her, which just makes it even more awesome.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Tuesday Chuckle

It's been one heck of a month so far, at least for me. So, I thought I'd share a little lunchtime Tuesday chuckle with you all.

Better Book Titles is a clever website that retitles some classic--and some not-so-classic--novels and non-fiction titles based on the layman's perception of the book. Everyday BBT posts a new title.

Definitely take a peek at their archives for a good laugh--or take a stab at it and submit your own! Each Friday the bloggers will choose a reader's title to share!

Some of my favorites:

Go HERE for more Better Book Titles

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bond's Backwards Adventures?

It's somewhat of a rarity to have a film turned into a book--it's usually the other way around. But there are occasions where television shows or video games, in particular, have been novelized--"World of Warcraft,""Star Trek," and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to name a few.

So, when I saw an article in USA Today about Jeffery Deaver writing a James Bond novel, I was all "Whoa! Jump back! Really?"

But it seems that, due to what I will call my youthful ignorance , I hadn't ever known that the Bond films were originally books by author Ian Fleming that were then adapted to film and now being turned back into books--talk about backwards!

USA Today's feature on Deaver and Bond is a bit long but no one can say they weren't thorough:

Jeffery Deaver looks more like a brainy villain in a James Bond movie than a "00" agent in Her Majesty's secret service.

Best known for his thrillers starring quadriplegic criminalist Lincoln Rhyme, Deaver has a new mission: Bring Bond into the 21st century in a new 007 novel.

The yet-to-be-named book is cryptically referred to as "Project X" by Ian Fleming Publications Ltd., which owns the rights to Fleming's work.

How did Deaver, who grew up outside Chicago, land this top-secret mission?

The family-owned Fleming business took notice when Deaver won the U.K.'s Crime Writers' Association's coveted Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for Garden of Beasts (2004), a thriller about an American assassin sent to Berlin during the run-up to Hitler's rise to power.

In his acceptance speech, Deaver talked about Fleming's influence on his work.

Most of the details surrounding Project X, to be published in May, are being kept under wraps, but under intense interrogation (more like gentle coaxing) Deaver begins to spill his guts.

"The novel," he says, "is set in the present day, in 2011. Bond is a young agent for the British secret service. He's 29 or 30 years old, and he's an Afghan war vet."

That in itself is big news. After all, if Bond were aging in real time — he first appeared in Fleming's Casino Royale in 1953 — the now doddering (although assuredly still handsome) 007 would be nearly 90.


Sipping coffee while seated on a leather chair in a sitting room decorated with portraits of his dogs and show ribbons, the mild-mannered author who writes about murderers and serial killers talks about his career and the solid fan base that has allowed him to pursue writing full time since 1990.

"I may not sell as many books as John Grisham (although he has sold a cool 20 million), but I have a very loyal fan base," says Deaver, 60, who wrote some of his novels while working as a Wall Street lawyer.

Deaver's initiation into the Bond family — more than 100 million 007 novels have sold worldwide — could significantly raise his profile.

Other novelists have written Bond novels since Fleming's death in 1964 — including Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and, most recently, Sebastian Faulks (his 2008 book Devil May Care reached No. 38 on USA TODAY's best-seller list) — but they all took place in the original era. Deaver is taking a new approach.

"There's no more Cold War to fight," says Deaver, so his new Bond, of the Fleming estate, will fight "post-9/11 evil."

"I want to stay true to the original James Bond, who many people don't know much about," he says, referring to the secret agent Fleming portrayed in 14 novels, and not the movie Bond. "People know Daniel Craig, they know Pierce Brosnan, they know Roger Moore and Sean Connery, all of whom brought a great deal to the stories of 007. But the original Bond was a very dark, edgy character."

Otto Penzler, proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York, says Deaver's writing style can only enhance the Bond franchise.

"The main thing he can bring is a greater sense of suspense to the books," Penzler says. "A lot of the books and movies are becoming basically chase plots, and Jeff really has the ability to create suspense better than almost any writer working today."

Explaining why Deaver was tapped for the latest Bond adventure, Fleming's niece Kate Grimond says: "He has a great understanding and appreciation of Fleming's original creation. We feel sure that he will produce an exciting page-turning 21st-century Bond mission — and a Bond for the present day."


Deaver, who is single, shares some of Bond's predilections: driving fast cars — he has owned a Jaguar and a Maserati— shooting guns, scuba diving and downhill skiing.

Later this week, Deaver will do what he loves best: hit the road to meet fans. He'll be off on a week-long whirlwind of interviews and appearances in Japan — but not before he's pressured for just a few more details about Project X.

The 21st-century Bond, he acknowledges, does not smoke.

Does he drink? "Martinis will make an appearance in the book."

Does he wear a tux? "I'm not able to talk about that."

Does he have movie-star looks? "He's handsome in a craggy way. A striking-looking man."

Does he remind Deaver of any particular Hollywood heartthrob?

"Not really," Deaver says. "Fleming said that in his mind, the musician Hoagy Carmichael was who Bond resembled. That's kind of who I think of, too."

Hoagy Carmichael?

Read the entire article HERE

I will admit that I've actually never seen a James Bond film (don't worry, "Dr. No" is on my Netflix queue)--and also already admitted that I didn't realize it had originally been a book before the film--but I will say that I always have a hard time imagining action movies as books. They are so visual and visceral, and that cinematic quality fits the screen best for a reason. I would be interested to know, however, what some of you, my dear readers, think about backwards adaptations (film to book).

I'm so curious that I'm tempted to ask the resident media-tie-in editor at my office to share his studied opinion...