Wednesday, October 12, 2011


It's been awhile since I posted here and it's basically because I bit
off more than I can chew when I said my next post would be a book
review of Patrick Rothfuss' The Wise Man's Fear. To paraphrase,
reading is easy but reviewing is hard. I might give it a shot again
later with a less massive book.

Meanwhile, a discussion over on Facebook by Stacy Jones about
Neil Gaiman gave me an idea for some other posts here. I happened
to mention that I had a copy of  Neverwhere that Mr Gaiman had
signed for me when he did an appearance at the Lauriat Bookstore
I worked at in the Taunton Silver City Galleria Mall back in 1997.
Stacy said she'd like to see a picture of it so I found that and another
of Mr Gaiman's books in my collection, took the pictures and posted
them in an album on Facebook I called Autographed Books and Other
Treasures. It occurred to me thatI could post a series here about the
books I own that were autographed and include what memories I have
about the author and the signing.

So here's the first, and it is indeed about Neverwhere,

I was assistant manager of the store at the time and the resident science
fiction and fantasy fan on the staff. I was pretty psyched up over this
since Mr Gaiman was already very well known for his Sandman graphic
novels and I knew we would have a good turnout for the event. My
only problem was water. The publicist had mentioned that Neil liked a
certain brand of flavored bottle water and I must have stopped at five
different stores between Abington and Taunton on my way to the store
that day trying to find some but without success. But miraculously a
restaurant on the lower level of the mall had some in stock so I was
able to relax.

We had a line already formed in the store when a man in a black leather
jacket approached me and said he was there for the signing. I'd never
seen Neil Gaiman before so I at first thought he was another fan but
then I realized who he was and the event began. Neil was a real
gentleman, staying until all the fans books and graphic novels were
signed, even when five or six of them dove under the store's gate as
it was coming down for closing time.He also signed a copy of
Neverwhere for me and the cardboard sign for the event.(He used
a pen with gold ink to write"Mind the Cracks!" on the sign.. I had
the sign for years and then sadly lost it during the move here to my
new apartment last year). It was a very successful event.

I have another book of Mr Gaiman's in my collection that it is not signed but
falls under the listing of "treasure". Publishers send out Advanced Readers'
Copies of books for reading by reviewers and booksellers, although some
now are switching over to digital versions now. Usually these are addressed to
the manager of the store and they pass them on to the staff. When I was at
Borders there were several of us who were avid sf and fantasy readers so I wasn't
as lucky getting ARCs as when I was at Lauriat's. But I happened to be eating
lunch in the breakroom when my manager asked me if I liked Neil Gaiman and
gave me this very nice boxed paperback ARC of Gaiman's Stardust:

It looked so nice I didn't want to ruin it, so I read another copy of the book!

I 'll be blogging about other signed editions. Thanks, Stacy, for the inspiration!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


As many of my friends know, the Borders store I work at is closing in a few weeks
and I'm going to be a man of leisure, to put it politely. I haven't quite figured out
what I'm going to do about my future except that I'm pretty sure it won't
involve Borders Books.

With that in mind, I decided to do something with this blog I haven't tried before:
monetize it. To do that, I've become an Associate.Let me say right
off the bat that I don't expect to make large amounts of money with this but if I
make a few bucks here and there from it, that would be nice.

So, I'll be writing more book reviews and if one should make you want to
read the book, please use the links here to purchase it from Amazon,com!

First off will be a review of Patrick Rothfuss' excellent The Wise Man's Fear.
The Wise Man's Fear[ THE WISE MAN'S FEAR ] by Rothfuss, Patrick(Author)(Hardcover)Mar 01 2011

I'll have it up in the next day or two 

Sunday, March 6, 2011


As promised, here's a look of the books I've downloaded so far
onto my Kobo ereader from and the new Google ebook
store. The titles marked with asterisks are those I paid more than a dollar
for and most of the others were free. The Bulwer-Lyton book is actually
five seperate volumes.   

No, I haven't read all of them yet. Ebook shopping is like being a kid in a
candy shop for me. I see familiar authors or titles, or books I once saw
somewhere on a shelf and never bought. The books by Bury, Bryce,
Bulwer-Lyton and MacCaulay, for instance, fall into that category.  These
are all works I actually saw for the first time in the stacks at the old
Bridgewater State College library when I was earning my B.A. in history.

And yes, I know they are sory of geeky. But I am a History Geek, and this
is how  we roll!

Abbott, The Empire of Austria: It's Rise and Present Power
Akers, Scorpio Reborn *
Brownsworth, Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire...*
Bryce, The Holy Roman Empire
Bulwer-Lyton, Athens: It's Rise and Fall Book I to V
Bury, The Cambridge Medieval History Vol1
Bury ,The Cambridge Medieval History Vol2
Bury, A History of the Later Roman Empire from Arcadius to Irene
Bury , A History of Greece to the Death of Alexander the Great
Caesar, Commentaries
Carlyle, The French Revolution
Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop (library)
Emerson, Essays
Frazier, The Golden Bough
Herodotus,  History
Lamb, Tales from Shakespeare
Lang, Blue Fairy Book
           Myth Ritual & Religion
           The Arabian Nights Entertainment
Macaulay, The History of England Since the Acession of James II
McKillip, Bards Of Bone Plain *
Oman, Europe 476-918
Parkman, Count Frontenac & New France Under Louis XIV
                   France & Englamd In North America
                   Montcalm & Wolfe
Plutarch, Lives of the Noble Greeks & Romans
Suetonius, Lives of the Twelve Caesars
Tacitus, The Reign of Tiberius
Thucydides, History of the Peloponessian War
Tyler, England in America 1580-1652
Windham, The Inheritance of Rome:Illuminating the Dark Ages*

Sunday, February 27, 2011


So last July I posted here my thoughts on whether or not I should buy an
e-reader. Well, I gave in and bought one at my store back in November.
It was more an occupational decision than for any of the usual reasons
one buys a an e-reader. I work at Borders so I bought our Kobo reader
so I could better learn all about the machine I would be selling our
customers. I have to say that I'm happy with it. It's a basic black & white
screen reader, but that's all I need. I already have a laptop to surf the
web and send emails, so when I'm reading my Kobo, I don't have those
distractions to tempt me away from what I am reading. 

It came already loaded with one hundred classics and I've read some of
them already, The first was Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book which I'm
ashamed to say I hadn't read before. I've also downloaded a bunch of
free books, including a five volume history of ancient Athens by Bulwer-
Lyton. Plutarch's Lives, and Suetonius' Lives of the Twelve Caesars .
(Hey, I'm a history geek!) I've also actually purchased several books,
two of them books on ancient history and the third a fantasy novel.

That last one is The Bards of Bone Plain a wonderfully poetic work
by one of my favorite writers, Patricia McKillip. I enjoy the book, but
I have noticed that it doesn't feel the same as reading an actual physical
copy. Oddly enough, this is the only e-book I've had this sensation with
while reading it. Perhaps because she is a favorite author? I've had no
similar reactions reading my history books on the Kobo.

If I have one complaint about the e-books, the older ones especially, it
is that I can't flip past the long introductions to get to the the actual text.

Anyway, you can read an excerpt from Bards of Bone Plain here !

And I'll give a more complete list of "What's on My E-reader" soon.
I can't do it now, because it's recharging at the moment!

Sunday, October 17, 2010


About a month ago NPR had an article by author and critic Lev Grossman
about T.H. White's great Arthurian novel, The Once and Future King.
It caused me to list my top five favorite Arthurian novels. I have to admit
I cheated a bit as I counted Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy as a single

So here are my picks:

The Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart
Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff
Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Once and Future King by T.H. White
Hawk of May by Gillian Bradshaw

I recall once reading something somewhere that there have been more
novels written about Arthur and the Matter of Britain than any other
subject. I'm not sure how accurate that is but I do know that I've read
every one that I've seen since I was a kid. Stewart's books are still my
favorites to this day with Sutcliff's a close second.  MZB thought it was
the best Arthurian novel she'd ever read. Mists of Avalon is Bradley's
masterwork and White's book is simply magical. Hawk of May by
Bradshaw is a fresh look at some of the Welsh elements of the legend
especially the story of Gawaine(Gwalchmai) and Morgaine Le Fay.
What all of these books have in common besides the subject is great
characterization and writing.

Bradshaw's book is probably the least known of all of these. Luckily,
it's once more available in a large paperback edition, so you can buy a
copy and see for yourself how it stacks up against your favorite Arthurian

By the way, what are your favorites?


Saturday, July 17, 2010


Every good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Except for
your favorite book series, which as we all know must go on forever.

I was thinking about this the other day when I finished "The Silver
Mage"  the fifteenth and last book in Katharine Kerr's Deverry
series. On the one hand, I'll miss visiting her wonderfully detailed
world and it's characters. On the other end, it should be the
author's choice as to how and when they stop writing about their
creations. And I'd rather have all the threads of a series brought         
to a satisfying conclusion by its creator than to have them keep on 
writing it because it's profitable. That's when writing becomes an
industry, not a craft, and I think it's pretty easy to spot when a
writer reaches that point, because there's a certain spark missing
from their writing.

Of course there's the other sort of ending for a series, the one
where its creator suddenly dies without having brought things
to that satisfying conclusion I mentioned in the last paragraph.
An example that comes to mind is Robert Jordan and his
"Wheel of Time" series which just seemed to roll on and on
right up to his passing. His fans worried that it would never be
completed. Luckily, Jordan's widow and estate had his notes
and outlines for the last three books and selected another
fantasy writer, Brandon Sanderson, to write them and bring
the series to a close.

There's some discussion if there is anyone who could continue
Robert Parker's Spenser or Jesse Stone series. I have to
confess I'm of two minds again about this. I am a big Spenser
fan and the thought of no more new novels with Spenser and
Hawk and Susan saddens me. But could anyone else write 
dialogue like Parker with the same wit and flair? I don't know.
Ironically, Parker himself completed "Poodle Springs", an
unfinished novel of the late Raymond Chandler.

And then there's the series that have become family traditions.
Anne McCaffrey's son Todd now writes novels set in his mother's
Pern universe, and Clive Cussler's son has begun co-authoring the
Dirk Pitt series.

So, what series are you a fan of that you will miss when they come to
their end, untimely or not?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


One of the things I've just started to work on with my book collection
is cataloging them using the Goodreads application on Facebook.
Back when my sister gave me her old AppleII GS, the first thing I
did with it was to do a book catalog and print it out on the dot-
matrix computer. I just liked the idea of having that list of books
I owned down on paper. Yeah, geeky, I know.

Goodreads works well. Besides putting together my list with it I
can display my library on my blogs which might generate comments
from people who've read the same books that I have.But rating my
books sometimes gives me pause. It's like trying to decide which
child is your favorite. I realize that those just keeping track of books
they've read can give a book they don't like 1 or even no stars, but
these are books I own, and why would anyone keep a book they
hate? So I end up rating my books with mostly 4 or 5 stars.

Another task I need to get around to is the actual organizing of the
books. While I may not put them in perfect alphabetical order (but
I really should, considering I work in a bookstore), I should at least

group all the books by an author together. Over the years I've gotten
in the habit of shelving the hardcovers and paperbacks separately.
So there's that to do as well. And it will make the cataloging easier.

I don't know how long this will take but it'll keep me out of trouble!