Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gearing up...

With women pepper spraying each other at Wall Marts, old men dying in Best Buy check-out lines only to be pulled into quiet aisles by other patrons, and fist-fights over flatscreens breaking out at retailers all over the country, Christmas must be just around the corner. Yep. Prepare yourself! The in-laws. The crying Kids ("I said XBox not X-Lax, grandma!"). Oh 'Tis the Season. But let's not get too crazy about it. Madness it may be, mayhem it may deliver, but we've got just the book to lighten whatever Christmas hysteria plagues you!

Awkward Family Pet Photos by Mike Bender, Doug Chernak (Three Rivers, 176 pages, $12.00) -- Maybe you've seen their earlier book, Awkward Family Photos, which is as hilarious as it is unsettling--much like this new, pet-minded farce. Flip through the pages once, you'll laugh until you cry. Flip through them two or three times and you can't help but seriously ask yourself: Why does it always seem like I'm the only normal one in this country? Really productive stuff, thinking-wise. Easy, a lot of fun, and somewhat Christmas-minded, this one (or its predecessor) will brighten your day right up.

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart (Random House, 352 pages,
$12.00) -- I think I've reviewed this excellent novel in some capacity or another before, but I've been rereading it lately and can't help but include in a conversation about humor. As far as futuristic satire goes -- this novel sets the standard. Bitingly accurate, plaintively sad, and always frightening, it looks into a near American future where iPhone-like devices and Facebook rule the social world, a Bipartisan party runs the White House, and not immigrants, but those with poor credit are being ejected from the country in droves. Laugh, hide under your bed in fright, or call it all an unreal, speculatory farce, Shteyngart's novel is a tour de force of satiric imagination written in that sparkling sort of prose that fizzes and crackles when read aloud. Named a Best Book of the Year by every publication you can think of! Great Holiday buy!

Snark! the Herald Angels Sing: Sarcasm, Bitterness, and the Holiday Season by Lawrence Dorfman (Skyhorse, 161 pages, $10.36) -- A hilarious bah-humbug look at all the excesses and missteps of the Holiday season, with jokes, commentary, and offbeat quotes (Think: "Santa Clause has the right idea. Visit people once a year," -- Victor Borge). If you're just looking for some laughs, trying to finally bring those in-laws to their knees with sarcastic jabs, or just want another perspective on the Holiday season, check out this addition to the always pertinent, always funny, Snark series.

Goodnight Ipad: A Parody for the Next Generation by Ann Droyd (Blue Rider, $11.96) -- Poking fun at both our over-connected, over-stimulated, modern world of gadgetry and the quiet, technology-free world of the classic, Goodnight Moon, this children's book is an excellent read, and hilarious for children and adults alike. As endearing and cute as the original -- I promise. Like the rest of the Western World, I was skeptical of anything that parodied my favorite book of childhood, but Goodnight Ipad does the job with panache and a welcoming brand of humor that can't help but make you see how we've changed as a society. Really, really fun and really, really funny.

In other notes, don't forget to browse the annual PNBA Holiday Catalog! As always, it's a great resource for gift-giving or even just personal reading.

PS. On my Bedside Table: Nemesis by Phillip Roth, The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt, and Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

Thursday, November 17, 2011

YA and Upcoming Events

As a reminder, don't forget the upcoming West Sound Reads Christopher Paolini event! It'll be an awesome chance to hear the gifted young author of the Inheritance Cycle, who started writing the series at the insane age of 15 in Paradise Valley, Montana! The details are: 7 p.m., November 28th, Bainbridge High School Commons. Pre-pay your order and receive a 25% discount and priority seating with easy access to the autograph line! How awesome is that?!

In other bookie (and fantasy) news, I've just finished the latest installment of George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series, A Dance with Dragons (Bantam, 1040 pgs, $28.00), which has been out for a few months now. If you are a fan of the series, you will not be able to put this one down! As thrilling, shocking, and wonderfully crafted as those which came before, it takes us that much closer to that epic winter that will test the people of Westeros. It is truly awesome stuff. Dragons are about. Wildlings roam the North. Exiles return. Ironborn strike east. Hmmff. Wow. I really don't think I'll be able wait for the next one. For those of you who haven't seen the HBO version of the books (Game of Thrones) or read them for yourself, think of them as the work of a 21st century Tolkien who is not shy of sex, blood, or mercilessly killing off your favorite characters. Try them out!