Archive for the ‘Features’ Category:

Two Imprints of Angry Robot Close

Strange Chemistry

I became aware of the news from Twitter. Publishers’ Weekly tweeted the news that the two imprints of Angry Robot will be immediately closed: Strange Chemistry, a YA imprint and Exhibit A, a crime/mystery imprint. In their statement, they explain that because those imprints weren’t able to find their footing (or insert similar analogy) in the market, that they will be closing immediately. No further titles will be published from those two imprints.

exhibitaMy Twitter feed was then awash with tweets of sympathy for the authors. A good synopsis of the reaction can be found at Storify. One of the authors only found out that they were without their publisher late last night and posted their reaction on their Tumblr.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to be an author in the middle of a series to find out that you are without a publisher and now left trying to figure out what your next steps are. The Bookseller talked to author Kim Curran about her reaction, who stated, “I’m shocked and devastated to learn that Delete – the last in my Shifter series – won’t be published by Strange Chemistry in August as planned. I hope I will find another way to get the book out to all my readers who’ve been so supportive over the years. And my heart goes out to everyone affected by the closure.” As far as I am aware of, I didn’t have any highly anticipated novels that were to be published by Strange Chemistry or Exhibit A. But I feel for those readers who now don’t know if they will see the conclusion or the next installment in a series that they were enjoying.

I was curious when this news broke as to how often imprints are closed. So I did a quick Google search to see what I could find. Now, I’m no expert in researching, but I found an article just from last week about an imprint from the Hachette Book Group closing, Business Plus. In that instance, again, market constraints pushed the closure, in particular the battle with Amazon (which is a whole other issue deserving a separate post).

A few other hits came up about small publishers closing their doors or people discussing the fate of publishing companies. I didn’t want to begin linking to articles from one to four years ago, but they exist. I’m sure if I had the time, I could really delve into the internet and resurface with more articles about the closing of imprints.

While this is a very sad occasion and I feel for the people who worked for those imprints, it appears that this is not an isolated incident. As one person tweeted, publishing is filled with all kinds of things that not necessarily could happen, but DO happen. And it’s important to remember that agents don’t just serve an author in finding their publisher but in helping when crisis strikes.

pj - michelle

One Month’s End is Another Month’s Beginning (May/June)


So PicMonkey is a lot of fun. No more fighting with Paint to make a new feature image for the blog! So for once I’m actually posting my month’s reading progress on the first of the month! Go me for being mindful of the date!

For May, I was a little ambitious, and I don’t think I was that far off from my predictions. I had wanted to read:

Okay, so I only read three of six I had initially set out to read, but I also read a book that wasn’t on the list: Pretty Dark Nothing. So really, four out of six isn’t bad. And I’m a little over 100 pages into The Lies of Locke Lamora. So far, I have two recommendations for this book: If you like playing Assassin’s Creed, particularly the stealing and sneaking part, you’d like the Gentlemen Bastards series. Additionally, if you like the complexities of A Song of Ice and Fire and a new fantasy world that is quite the pirate theme, you’d like the Gentlemen Bastards series. I’m enjoying it, I just tend to be a little intimidated when the book is thick, which I think makes me feel like I read really slow.

In May I:

  • Got my engagement ring! It’s quite pretty and I’m finally used to wearing it.
  • Went to the Virginia Gold Cup, a great local horse race that’s a lot of fun. This year I was smart enough to wear enough sunscreen lotion this year so I didn’t become the lobster I was last year.
  • Did a lot of venue shopping for the ceremony and reception. Oh my, are weddings expensive! So if you start seeing me talking about just eloping on Twitter, don’t be surprised!
  • Finished watching all the available episodes of The Walking Dead on Netflix. So, I like it the show, but it could really do with some level of hope. Otherwise, the only reason to watch is to see who gets offed next.
  • Attended the Vintage Virginia Wine Festival. Wow. A lot of fun!
  • Participated in #boutofbooks and Armchair BEA.

In June I:

  • Will be taking a road trip to New England to visit family and friends.
  • Will hopefully decide on a wedding venue.
  • Will be attending the Clifton Wine Festival.
  • Will have a friend come visit me!
  • Might go to a lavender farm.
  • Just might have a new blog design!

For books, I:

  • Would like to finish The Lies of Locke Lamora. I imagine that I might get some serious reading done while road tripping/on vacation.
  • Will be checking out the audiobook collection at the library for fodder for the road trip.
  • Would like to read Lexicon and The One, from my May goals.
  • As the book languishing the longest on my Goodreads’ to-read list (August 16, 2012!) I’ll be reading Hyperion.
  • As for the books from last year’s Book Expo America, I choose two children/middle grade books: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit and Star Wars: Jedi Academy.

There might be a couple of books coming in the mail from giveaway wins, but I think six books a month is good enough goal for my reading speed. Hopefully, I can report back at month’s end with 100% completion!

Have you read any of those books? How was BEA? How was your May? Let me know!


Blogs We Heart


I was trying to think of ways to interact better with the blogging community. I comment, I share, I like, but that is an interaction typically only between me and the blogger in question. And in a blogging community that is so large where there are new blogs everyday, why not highlight those that I’ve stumbled across, both large and small, new and old? So here are only FIVE blogs that I follow with their recent posts that I particularly enjoyed reading.

Pivot Book Reviews

I discovered Pivot Book Reviews from the Book Blogger Love-A-Thon this February. And the feature that I am almost guaranteed to like is Cover Puppies. It’s a weekly feature where Becca gets her cute dogs to pose like a character on a book cover and then recreates that book cover with the doggie. I mean, how adorable and original! Her most recent one is for The One by Kiera Cass…which I’m dying to read!

The Perpetual Page-Turner

I don’t think there is anyone who isn’t following Jamie! Her posts are probably some of the most original and personality-filled out of those I’ve found on the internet. She really makes it feel like you could really know her. I really enjoy how she doesn’t just post reviews, but personal posts. For example, like how social media has affected her reading life. It’s something that we can all relate to.

artsy musings of a bibliophile

I think it’s safe to say that while we all love books, it’s nice to see different perspectives on them. I feel bad and I can’t remember when I started following Artsy Musings of a Bibliophile but the posts are fun. I am always a particular fan of posts that help explain things to me, and this guide to Edelweiss is particularly helpful with screenshots!

Take Me Away…

Nikki at Take Me Away was probably one of the first blogs I stumbled across when I first started blogging. And from last year, she has this awesome feature called Beyond the Book, where she talks about something based about a book that goes beyond the pages. Whether it’s a personal connection or even music videos that correlate to different parts of a plot. It’s a lot of fun!

Paper Worlds and Swirls of Ink

When I think about it, the Book Blogger Love-a-Thon really did do crazy things to my blog reader as I discovered new blogs, like Paper Worlds and Swirls of Ink. Violet has a great variety in her posts, and while I particularly enjoy discussion posts, she doesn’t disappoint. Like how do you feel about that TBR and good reading months? She’s discussed that!

How do you discover new blogs? Which blogs would you recommend?


The Book Scoop: eBook Refunds, Sandman, and Tennessee Williams


Here’s the weekly round-up of bookish news and articles that I found interesting. And it’s barely more than the first scoop of what’s available out there.

I got my refund, did you?
As an Amazon Kindle owner who on occasion buys books, I was quite happy that I received refund at all due to the ebook price fixing settlement. I received a grand total of $2.92 added to my account. That’s like three things from the vending machine! One of my coworkers, who has a Barnes & Noble Nook, discovered that he received over $40! Definitely check your emails about these refunds. It might fly underneath your radar as some type of spam promotion, but it’s legit! So what should you do with your refund money? Buy more books of course! Time Magazine created a list of the ten books you should buy with your refund.

Amy Poehler Named Honorary Chairperson for World Book Night
The 3rd Annual World Book Night takes place on April 23. 25,000 volunteers will give away a total of 500,000 books to help bring books to areas where they are not as prevalent. Amy Poehler adds star power to the event, which will give free books to teachers and students in underfunded schools. It’s a great cause, and I know some bloggers who participate, so props to Poehler for joining in!

Gaiman Resurrects Sandman
After ten years, Neil Gaiman is returning to the Sandman series. According to his interview with CNN, he does so because of the joy he experiences in working on the comic book series. “The ‘Sandman’ series primarily follows the character Dream, who appears with various names and forms and has control over the dreams of everyone and everything” (CNN). Check out their interview with him; it’s definitely interesting and the photo gallery is fun.

President Carter’s New Book Released
President Jimmy Carter may have been president before I was born, but he’s not quite retired yet. His new book, “A Call to Action” addresses what is widely unaddressed, the challenge of “the deprivation and abuse of women and girls.” The book is being published by Simon & Schuster and is already generating positive reviews. I happened to catch him speaking on The Diane Rehm Show on NPR. For a guy that’s in his eighties, he sure still has it.

New Story by Tennessee Williams Published
There are those that whose names resonate as one of the classic authors, those who people try to hold a candle to but perhaps can never steal the light coming off of them. Tennessee Williams is one of those authors and news that a never before published story coming to the light has all those English majors in a tizzy. “Crazy Night” is a short story that was found amongst some of Williams’ journals that takes place on a college campus. Decidedly risqué, it appears that Williams wrote this story when he himself was fairly young. In just reading the description of this story, it certainly sounds like something that even those who don’t typically read ‘classics’ should check out.

The Book Scoop: Nonsense, Hilary Clinton, and The Giver


Here’s the weekly round-up of bookish news and articles that I found interesting. And it’s barely more than the first scoop of what’s available out there.

Apple CEO Calls Book ‘Nonsense’
A former Wall Street Journal reporter has written a book about Apple after interviewing past and current employees and business partners. It claims that the best days of the technology company’s best days are behind it. CEO Tim Cook denounces the book as ‘nonsense’ and that it fails to capture the true spirit of the company as well as anyone else associated with the company. Nonetheless, I expect that there will be plenty interested in reading this book to learn more about this illustrious company.

The Trailer for The Giver is Released and Some People Aren’t Happy
I have long given up hope that any movie adaptation of a thoughtful novel will likely end in huge deviations from the book’s original plot. I have learned to sever any memories of the book when going into its movie; they are two very separate mediums and different plots and purposes. Viewing the movies with that separation really eases the heartache when the movie butchers the canon. So, as to be expected, lovers of Lois Lowry’s The Giver are disappointed with the trailer for its movie. The movie has gone through quite the ringer in getting made and funded, and while now it will be released, it has taken on the feel of the wash of young adult dystopia movies. I find this very unfortunate. The Giver is a classic and it’s a little shameful that it has to be commercialized (the movie is all in color, instead of mimicking the main character’s color-blindness). It’s time to once again separate the movie from the book.

Hilary Clinton Could Name Book ‘Bossy Pantsuit’
Well, that’s highly unlikely, but in a recent speech at the Association of American Publishers’ annual meeting in New York, Hilary Clinton joked about some of the possibilities of the title of her book. There is a Washington Post contest where anyone can suggest names for her upcoming book slated to be released in June. Some of the suggestions are awesome. Her (and mine) favorite: “The Scrunchie Chronicles: 112 Countries and It’s Still All About My Hair.” Take that.

Are Books Losing the War with Technology?
I found this article, and I actually really disagree with it. But as someone who actually spends hours each week working on a blog that solely focuses on books, I think it’s safe to say that I am a bit biased. The author of this article in The Washington Post believes that books are threatened by technology. Our phones, computers, and televisions demand our attention to the point that books lose their appeal or don’t get the attention that they deserve. The author provides different mitigation strategies, but I’m not so entirely convinced that books are threatened in the first place.

The Book Scoop: Anne Rice, Keith Richards, and Oprah


Here’s the weekly round-up of bookish news and articles that I found interesting. And it’s barely more than the first scoop of what’s available out there.

Eleventh Book in the Vampire Chronicles Series Announced
Anne Rice is usually the first reference in a list of good vampire literature. I admit, that I have never read any of her works, in particular “Interview with the Vampire,” the first novel in the series with French vampire Lestat de Lioncourt. Despite previously announcing the series as finished, Rice has announced that the eleventh book, “Prince Lestat” will be released in October 2014 and will be the rue sequel to the third book in the series, “Queen of the Damned.” Perhaps it’s about time I started that series.

Award Season Never Ends – Finalists in Best Translated Book Awards Announced
I don’t think award season ever truly ends when it comes to books. The movie award season is over, but the Best Translated Book Awards finalists were announced this week. These awards were first created in 2007 and go to both fiction and poetry, with the winning authors and their translators receiving $5,000 in prize money. It’s safe to say that I am completely unfamiliar with these books but definitely check them out.

Keith Richards to be an Author Again
Keith Richards has become a grandfather again and at 70 years old will be publishing a children’s book with Little, Brown Book for Young Readers. The illustrations will be done by his daughter and the story will draw upon some of Richards’ childhood experiences. The book, “Gus & Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar” will be released as both a hardcover book with a CD and an ebook on September 9, 2014.

Amazon Launches German-Language Imprint
Amazon Publishing continues to grow with the launch of its German-language imprint. The company will be looking for German fiction for both print and digital release. Some spring titles have already been identified and there is hope that this move will be very successful. The demand for German translations has been big enough to warrant this move so it will be interesting if an imprint focusing on the language will have a noticeable impact.

Oprah to Publish Her Articles
O, the Oprah Magazine has been around for 14 years and in each issue, Oprah has written a column in them. Now, Flatiron Books, an imprint of Macmillan will be publishing the collection of articles. Both the column and the book will be titled “What I Know for Sure” and will be released September 2, 2014. To add to the bylines, Oprah will also write the book’s introduction.

The Weekly Word: Swart

weekly word

The Weekly Word is a feature where I highlight a word that I stumbled over in a book, explain where it was found and what it actually means. Reading can expand your vocabulary as long as you don’t allow the same words to continue to trip you up.

I’ve discovered that some books don’t have any words that make me stumble and some I race through so fast that I don’t have time to really wonder if I’m not understanding a word here or there. This feature does require me to be a more observant and deliberate reader. I also have been trying to not pull words from the same books each week, but this book I imagine will offer plenty of fodder.

This week’s word is:


Where it was found:
I thought I’d switch it up and read a nonfiction book after racing through The Archived and The Unbound by Victoria Schwab. That said, I have high hopes for One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson to be both educational and interesting. Swart was first found in the prologue, page 15 (yes, I imagine there will be a lot of ‘weekly words’ coming from this book):

Time magazine, four years old and enchanted with stereotype, described Pinedo in the spring of 1927 as a “swart Fascist ace.” (Almost anyone from south of the Alps was “swart” in Time.) Pinedo was in fact not especially swart and not at all an ace-he had spent the war flying reconnaissance missions-but he was indeed a loyal fascist. With his black shirt, brilliantined hair, thrusting jaw and habit of standing with his fists pinned to his hips Pinedo was, to an almost comical degree, the very model of a strutting, self-satisfied fascist.

Why it confused me:
I imagine it has something to do with how he looked, and given the part in the parentheses, his race. But it’s one of those words where I’d hate to assume one thing and learn it means another. I wouldn’t want to try to sound educated and use the word to describe someone to learn that it is derogatory or inaccurate.

What it means:
Well, this is one of those words where the definition of the word is another form of the same word, swarthy, because swart is considered archaic.

Adjective. Naturally having skin of a dark color; “a dark-skinned beauty”; “gold earrings gleamed against her dusky cheeks”; “a smile on his swarthy face” (definition from: Hyperdictionary)

Be sure to check out the other weekly words: effluvium, callow, and louche!

The Book Scoop: NoVa Teen Book Festival & Other Findings


Here’s the weekly round-up of bookish news and articles that I found interesting. And it’s barely more than the first scoop of what’s available out there.

Reading a Book a Week
Part of the way I typically try to achieve my yearly goal of 50 books a year is by reading a book a week. So far this year I am behind, but here is someone’s tips on how to read a book a week. While I disagree with some of his techniques (reading first thing in the day? Who’s schedule allows for that?),  it is still a good read.

NoVa Teen Book Festival is Coming
One of the authors and booksellers who is a member of the YADC group is also the brainchild and hard worker behind the creation of the first Northern Virginia Teen Book Festival. Of course, this might only be relevant news to those of us in this area, but it’s really quite an exciting thing. A ton of authors are going to be there, including Victoria Schwab, whose books I just finished this week and will hopefully not be fangirling too bad. If you’re in the area, you should definitely go!

Questions to Ask Before Publishing
Lots of people have the dream of publishing, but there are some important questions that perhaps should be thought about before pursuing one form of publishing. Huffington Post offered some advice on this issue, like is the manuscript ready and who are the readers for the book? Even if you’re not looking to publish, it’s still an interesting read.

LinkedIn Offering Limited Publishing Capabilities
A lot of people blog and LinkedIn is looking at keeping some of that content within their sphere of influence by offering publishing capabilities to a limited number of their users. Instead of users creating a following on another blogging platform, now the following and the content can remain on LinkedIn, potentially growing LinkedIn’s influence and relevance. Personally, I know I could be using LinkedIn better and if the community is already there, I could definitely see this making sense for a few people.

The Book Scoop: Naked Booksellers, Apple, and Calvin & Hobbes


Here’s the weekly round-up of bookish news and articles that I found interesting. And it’s barely more than the first scoop of what’s available out there. (This was a slow news week.)

One Way to Battle Censorship? Pose NudeNaked French booksellers and publishers
A member of one of France’s political parties spoke out against a book that was recently published which caused quite the interesting reaction. The book was aiming to lessen some of the stigma around being undressed for children, showing different people undressing. (Okay, my American eyebrows raised at that, but I also understand that there is quite the interesting cultural divide between what is acceptable and what is not; why BBC shows nudity and so on.) A politician was outraged about this book and spoke out publicly about it. Well, a group of booksellers and publishers reacted to the censorship by posing naked with just books. That’s one way to do it.

Apple Appealing eBook Ruling
Remember that big case regarding eBook price fixing? It’s not quite over. As would be expected, Apple is appealing the decision that found them at fault for price fixing eBooks, partnering with different publishing houses. The publishing houses settled, but Apple isn’t going down without a prolonged legal fight. Earlier this month, the 2nd Circuit rejected Apple’s request to stop the oversight that was required based on the initial ruling. So Apple has now filed again. I think it’s safe to say that whichever way this ends up will leave a lasting impression on the digital media market.

Calvin & Hobbes Creator Releases New Work
I remember checking out every single Calvin & Hobbes book from the library and devouring them. They are easily my favorite comics once I graduated from Garfield. There is a a simplicity and a humor so unique to them that really make them so appealing to me. Bill Waterson is back with a film poster. It’s for a documentary called ‘Stripped’ which is, as you might imagine, about comic strips. The artwork is so clearly Waterson. I would definitely check it out!

CBW_Poster-small2014 Children’s Book Week Poster Revealed
The poster commemorating the 95th annual Children’s Book Week, to be held May 12-18, 2014, has been revealed! It will be distributed nationwide at no cost beyond shipping. The poster has been illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser who was the 2013 Children’s Choice Illustrator of the Year Award winner. If you are interested in ordering a poster, definitely visit the site!

The Weekly Word: Louche

weekly word

The Weekly Word is a feature where I highlight a word that I stumbled over in a book, explain where it was found and what it actually means. Reading can expand your vocabulary as long as you don’t allow the same words to continue to trip you up.

I promise that this feature is not inaccurately named and that the gap since the last time I posted will not be a pattern. Of course, promises of that kind are bound to get broken, but it’s a definite goal of mine! This time I’m reading a new book and have found quite a lot of words in there worthy of highlighting!

This week’s word is:


Where it was found:end of your life book club
Christina’s a better person than me and has actually finished our February book pick for our Virginia Wine and Book Club. I’m still plodding along at 46% when the meeting is in just a few hours. Go me! But this word was found in The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe at around the 41% mark (kindle location 1817).

One of the problems about lying to my mother when I was growing up was that I almost always got caught. This was partly due to Mom’s formidable memory. “Where are you going?” she would ask me as I was sneaking out of the house, at age twelve, for a forbidden trip on the subway from suburban Cambridge to louche downtown Boston to visit Jack’s Joke Shop, where I could buy fake vomit, joy buzzers, and other such things.

Why it confused me:
I feel like there’s not really a whole lot of contextual clues to figure out what louche means. I feel like a joke shop is a pretty neutral type of shop that can be found in any part of town.

What it means:
adjective. disreputable or sordid in a rakish or appealing way.
“the louche world of the theater”

Be sure to check out the other weekly words, effluvium and callow!