Shelf Talk(s) with Cory Doctorow, pt. 1

Cory Doctorow is coming to Seattle this weekend, on tour to promote his latest book – Little Brother – a smart dystopic thriller aimed at young adults, but with something to say to everyone. (Comparisons are odious, but if Gene Shalit were here he might say 1984 meets Catcher in the Rye. I’d add in Eric Frank Russell’s Wasp.) He’ll be appearing at the library’s Ballard Branch this Sunday at 2 p.m (in collaboration with our good friends at the Secret Garden Bookshop). Of all the great things that have been said about Little Brother, here’s a bit from Neil Gaiman: “I’d recommend Little Brother over pretty much any book I’ve read this year, and I’d want to get it into the hands of as many smart 13 year olds, male and female, as I can. Because I think it’ll change lives…”

If you’re unfamiliar with Doctorow, popular editor and blogger at BoingBoing.net, author and outspoken advocate for intellectual freedom and the creative commons movement, a few hours spent surfing through his prolific work and thought may change your life too, or at least the way you view your rights to information, to privacy, and to making a contribution to this world. It is also a bracing tonic for the mind: Doctorow’s range of interests – from hacks to cool gadgets to public policy – are head-spinning.  I had a chance to talk with Cory the other day, and wanted to share some of what he said.

Q: Little Brother seems to bring together a lot of your diverse interests in one place. When did you know this was going to be a book for younger readers?

It was absolutely conceived of as a young adult book… I had friends who went and done successful – artistically, commercially – young adult books… and they really sold me on the idea that it was just a lot of fun, and that particularly that Continue reading “Shelf Talk(s) with Cory Doctorow, pt. 1”

Cheese Festival at the Market — and some cheese in fiction

cheese shop photographed by teejayhantonThis weekend is the fourth annual Pike Place Market Cheese Festival, where you can learn how to make cheese at home, taste artisanal cheeses from all around the world and listen to cheese experts extol the virtues of cheese in all its stinky, delicious variety. I hope you have a good time. I won’t be there. I’ll be at the library (someone has to keep the place open!), but I might be reading a cheesy book.

There’s no problem finding children’s books about cheese. There’s The Mysterious Cheese Thief by the aptly named Geronimo Stilton, The Cheese by Margie Palatini, in which the question “why does the cheese stand alone”? gets answered, and the classic Anatole by Eve Titus, in which a mouse becomes a connoisseur of fine French cheeses. And for the younger set there is also a book suitable for an election year: A Big Cheese for the White House: The True Tale of a Tremendous Cheddar by Candace Fleming. No matter who becomes our next Big Cheese, kids can still enjoy this book set in the time of Jefferson’s presidency.

The pickings are little slimmer for adults, but here are a few titles to read with your brie Continue reading “Cheese Festival at the Market — and some cheese in fiction”

Reflecting on Baltic Rites of Spring IV

Traditional Estonia Village Dance performed by Thousand Winds dancersphoto courtesy of Leszek ChudzinskiAfter weeks of cold weather, co-hosts Leszek Chudzinski and Maryte Racys awaited this year’s Baltic Rites of Spring with trepidation. To produce a joyful celebration, Primavera’s arrival at 1000 Fourth Avenue (the Central Library) in Seattle was an absolute must. Would She ever arrive?

Finally, She appeared on April 26! Trumpets flared and Thousand Winds, the Estonian Seattle Dance Group, took the world over. They evoked the spirit of Tallinn, their ancient capital, the Baltic Coast, forests and meadows. As they danced, we rejoiced with them. Soon, too soon, the Thousands Winds swept off the stage; promising to return, one day.

Lietutis performing a Lithuanian Star pattern, photo courtesy of Leszek Chudzinski

 The applause had not died out, images of merry dancing were still swirling in the air, when Lietutis, (Gentle Rain), the Lithuanian Dance Group , stormed the stage. First, the adult dancers made the world fly with the Fight of the Swallows, and other traditional dances.

Next, 12-year-old Vaiva Palunas sang a cappella like a meadowlark, as if in a chapel. The Lietutis Children’s Group pranced on stage and won everyone’s hearts, for children never take a wrong step and get Continue reading “Reflecting on Baltic Rites of Spring IV”

The Vampire List, Part 1: Love Bites

cover of blood moonSo you want to read a vampire story. Your interest is understandable — they are compelling. But before you begin this journey, I warn you, once you start on this path, there’s no turning back. There are legends of a cure of course, but really, once a vampire groupie, always a vampire groupie. What’s worse is you can still maintain a fairly normal life even when half your mind is always thinking, “You know what would make this moment truly awesome? Vampires.” So before you pick up that first tale, remember this warning: Vampires are forever.

Over the next few weeks I will be presenting a series of lists containing authors and the vampire stories they write. For your convenience, these lists will be broken down into four main categories: Romance, Urban Fantasy, Traditional/Classic and Nontraditional/Modern.  As there has been a recent boom in the world of vampire romance, we’ll start the lists with stories about love.

THE ROMANCE LIST

Historical
Vampires generally have one thing in common: history. Look for these titles and others by these authors who write about the vampires of the past and the women Continue reading “The Vampire List, Part 1: Love Bites”

A Chicago-based wizard turns hard-boiled detective in The Dresden Files

The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher chronicles the adventures of Harry Dresden, the world’s only wizard-for-hire, as he investigates crimes with a magical twist and saves the city of Chicago from assorted minions of evil, including vampires, demons and fiendish goats.

While some of the basics mechanics of this series aren’t new — magical man investigates mabook cover Small Favorgical crimes in a big city — there are a few key details that set the Dresden Files apart from the rest of the “urban fantasy” books out there. Most of those details can be found in minor characters like Bob the Talking Skull, perhaps the best magical assistant ever devised. Keep an eye out for Ivy the Archive, Mab the Winter Queen, and a dewdrop faerie known as Toot-toot. In the Dresden Files, it is often the little guys who make the biggest difference, or at least add the greatest moments of comic relief.

The Dresden Files was made into a short-lived television show on cable’s Continue reading “A Chicago-based wizard turns hard-boiled detective in The Dresden Files”