Wednesday, November 29, 2017

New Release: Ghosts of Greenglass House

Lately, my new release posts tend to be for review copies because obligation is the only way that I actually get around to reading a book somewhat close to the release date. BUT ... Ghosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford was one that I *had* to buy in hardcover and I could only keep it on my shelf unread for about three weeks -- and, of course, I also had to reread Greenglass House first. It made for the best Thanksgiving break ever!

This story starts exactly a year after the first one ends, on the first day of winter vacation at the inn. Only, this year, there's no snow--only disappointing frost--and also a guest who keeps extending his stay. So, once again, Milo has to cope with a non-standard break that only gets crazier as the days pass. Filled with Nagspeakian history and lore, indoor adventures, and, yes, ghosts, this was another amazing read.

I love Kate Milford's books for so many reasons but I realized a new one this time. She normalizes late risers! Milo and his parents keep late hours because they need to take care of inn guests so they stay up past midnight and then get up at 9 or 10 in the morning and IT'S OKAY. These are people who keep different hours and they aren't lazy or missing out or anything else. They have activities, conversations, and adventures late into the night instead. Thank you, Kate! There were also great discussions about respecting boundaries, more about adoption, and even some lessons on lock-picking. I loved it all.

Finding family in random places,

Monday, November 20, 2017

Holiday Giving on My Mind

As I sit here browsing websites for gifts for my friends and family, there are a couple of standouts that I want to share with you.

1. Art of ... Books
Not everyone is into books and that's okay. Luckily, some of those people are into film.

With the lovely Disney-Pixar film Coco coming out later this week (we'll be seeing it in 3D on Weds), it is a great time to celebrate Day of the Dead with the first animated film to take us into the world of the dead -- Art of The Book of Life by director Jorge R. Gutierrez. This is one of Z and my most favorite films with beautiful music, a gorgeous style, and a heart-warming story. And the art style is so unique that you can totally get lost in this book while you're trying to wrap it for someone else.

Chronicle Books has just released The Art of Aardman, featuring sketches, early models, and movie scenes from all of their stop-motion hits. It will not only remind you of all of your favorite Wallace and Gromit moments but will let you finally see all of the little jokey props that you missed in the rich environment of The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists! even though you have seen the film dozens and dozens of times (oh, is that just us?). It would be perfect for a youngster who is thinking about a career in animation and wants to see the process from the bottom up.

And there are so, so many of these "art of film" books. (Chronicle even has one for Coco!)

2. Collectors' Editions

Sure, pretty much everyone who wants to read Harry Potter has already, but do they have their own house-colored edition of Philosopher's Stone? There are also paperback editions in solid house colors but I think these hardcovers with the tie patterns are the best. If you are in the U.S., you can get them from The Book Depository. I already gave my niece a Ravenclaw edition for her 11th birthday this summer and she almost died when she realized it came from the U.K. and was the British text!

Also, lots of books have beautiful new editions out -- like the 10th Anniversary Edition of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss and the Neverwhere Illustrated Edition. I'm asking for more clothbound Penguins to fill out my collection!

3. Bookish Swag

I know everyone has their own places that they like to go for swag, from your local indie bookshop to the neighborhood Barnes & Noble but I just wanted to remind everyone that you can support small businesses by heading to Etsy. There you'll find goodies like magnetic bookmarks from Wrecking Ball Design (also, you may recognize the owner when you click over there)! Just search for any author, title, or item and you'll be sure to find lots of surprises and treats.

Is there anything you want to add to the list? Something you are asking for or are gifting this year?

Spendin' cheese,

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

"New" Release: Murder for Christmas

Originally published in 1949, Murder for Christmas by Francis Duncan was found in the archives at Vintage Books a few years back and not much was known about the author. Eventually, they discovered that it was the pen name for one William Underhill, a lecturer in economics and history. Sourcebooks is now publishing this book just in time for intrepid readers to unwrap a little murder with their holiday festivities.

The simple set-up is a traditional holiday party at the country house of wealthy bachelor Benedict Grame. He likes to play Santa and his guests range from best friend, Jeremy Rainer, and Jeremy's ward, Denys Arden, to various hangers-on and, not last or least, new acquaintance Mordecai Tremaine, amateur detective. Grame's secretary, Nicholas Blaise, sends Tremaine a note with his invitation saying that he thinks something is wrong with Grame and Tremaine can't resist a visit to Sherbroome House for Christmas. When a murder indeed occurs on Christmas Eve, Mordecai is the only one who can piece together the clues.

I know that this sounds like a pretty standard country house murder mystery but there is one big difference that I LOVED -- everyone is suspicious of Tremaine and close-lipped! They know he's an amateur detective, known publicly for solving a murder in Sussex the summer before. And many of them have something to hide and therefore do not want Tremaine snooping around and sussing things out. This is so different from many other amateur detectives who manage to collect tons of information from every spectator and suspect. It was refreshing to have Tremaine get the cold shoulder, to be lied to, and to be deliberately avoided. The mystery was also satisfying and I hope that more of Francis Duncan's books get reprinted in the US! (It looks like Vintage has started reprinting them in the UK.)

Sprinkling extra tinsel,