Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Book Review as TXT MSG :-0

A while ago I wrote a blog post in which I wondered...What if Book Reviews Were Written Like Wine Reviews?

Recent 'Incoming' text messages which I have had to decode by 'Googling' the acronyms sent to me by younger, hipper people (ahem, my kids) got me to thinking about...

What if book reviews were written like text messages with a bit of Twitter hashtags thrown in?
Or should I say #whatif? BR=TM ROTFL because YOLO, I literally can't even um like imagine, but here goes.

In our continuing series of posts about what is new on our non-fiction shelf, LMK if u like these books:

Get What's Yours, the Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security by Laurence J Kotlikoff
(368.4 KOT) Our BR=TM: How is that even possible? Define 'yours' #getmoreSS$$

The Teenage Brain, a neuroscientist's survival guide to raising adolescents and young adults by Frances E. Jensen, MD (612.6 JEN) Our BR=TM: RUH ROH enter the teen brain AYOR The Struggle is Real! But seriously folks, if it's quiet, too quiet, check their rooms.

Biscuits, sweet and savory southern recipes for the all-American kitchen by Jackie Garvin (641.815 GAR) Our BR=TM: OM NOM NOM #nuffsaid WTF (Well that's *fantastic, right?)

 How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are, Love, Style, and Bad Habits by Anne Berest et al (305.409 BER) Our BR=TM: Ladies and Germs...I am sure the Academie Francaise is rolling in its collective grave at the very perish-the-thought of les messages SMS. Mais, non! #Jamais! #SacreBleu

I aw8t 4 u 2 reply to this post.
IMHO this post rocks!
This  is a repost from May 20, 2015

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Chick Lit - Not to be confused with Literature


Wikipedia defines chic lit as genre fiction which addresses issues of modern womanhood, often humorously and lightheartedly. Really, a marketing wizard somewhere decided to label a profitable segment of sales with a phrase reminiscent of chiclet candy.  If you don’t remember, chiclets are cute, sweet, minty and come in a variety of pretty colors.  What more could you want in chewing gum or books?  Although chick lit will never be confused with literary fiction (defined by Wikipedia as a term principally used for fictional works that hold literary merit) many authors of books geared to a female audience fall into a larger commercial or mainstream category, defined as somewhere between chick lit and literary masterpieces.  Reviewers and critics should be very cautious in applying the chick lit label to writers presenting a more realistic, balanced and less-escapist approach to issues confronting women.
Putting aside my small chiclet tirade, I read chick lit.  Some of my colleagues would consider that statement to be embarrassing, but I have already confessed in earlier posts to having crazy cats named after the Blues Brothers. Have I ever mentioned my fondness for the two Hellboy movies?  I especially like chick lit during the summer and I prefer series to stand-alones.  The authors listed below, a mix of chick lit and mainsteam/commercial, manage to include laughter, a few serious issues, knowledge of some field I know nothing about (restoration, wine and beer making, dolphins, etc), and love.  Their books hold more than a box of chiclets ever could.
My favorite series:
       Darcy Burke                     Ribbon Ridge
       Mary Alice Monroe         Lowcountry Trilogy (currently 4 books – Lowcountry Wedding just out)
       Wendy Wax                      Ten Beach Road (my new favorite)
       Beth Kendrick                  Black Dog Bay (Once Upon a Wine due in July)
       Kristan Higgins                Blue Heron
Lit Chicks, perhaps less judgmental sounding than Chick Lit,  would also include Jennifer Weiner, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Beth Harbison, Susan Mallery, and Sophie Kinsella.
Happy beach reading.  

-S. Bakos

Monday, May 9, 2016

Historic vs. Historical Fiction

I started this post two months ago and have written, re-written and erased the opening paragraph.  It started to make sense when I watched Steve Martin and Edie Brickell on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.  They were talking about Bright Star, their new musical.  While researching the names of train lines running through Texas in the early 1900s, Brickell found an article about a baby in a suitcase being tossed from a train.  Martin referred to actual events such as the Iron Mountain Baby that we read or hear about and never know the beginning or end of the story.  Perhaps a need to know the whole story explains the popularity of historical fiction.  

The phrase historical fiction is part of the problem.  It is too vague and open to interpretation.  Historical fiction can be divided into a variety of genres including, but certainly not limited to, mysteries, romance, nautical adventures and tales of the Wild West or Far East.  Historical fiction can be defined or delineated by time.  Are you interested in prehistory, prehistoric times, medieval knights, the age of exploration, Tudor kings, or the Jazz Age?  The glory days of Ancient Rome and Greece are always popular.  Are you interested in a specific war?  Are you interested in only one country?  Do you like to immerse yourself in a series or saga?  Better yet, how recently does history begin?  The questions are never ending.

Perhaps a more important question is why are you reading historical fiction?  What are your expectations of the degree of historic accuracy?  Are you looking for a relatively painless way to learn more about a specific period of time?  Do you expect actual historical figures?  Some scholars differentiate between historic fiction (contains characters who actually existed and are portrayed accurately) and historical fiction (brings history to life).  Bottom line – is the purpose to give a face to history and make it possible for readers to relate or reach a better understanding?


History and historical fiction are necessarily not the same thing. the purpose of history is to narrate events as accurately as one can. The purpose of  historical fiction is to enable a reader through the perspective of characters in the story to feel that she or he is present at the events. Such a goal obviously requires some modification of the events.
          -Andrew M. Greeley
I prefer an actual person and a mix of verified events with enough icing to make the story flow more smoothly.  I like Nancy Horan’s Loving Frank and Under the Wide and Starry Sky.  Not to proceed too far down the path of a strong woman behind every man, I also enjoyed The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin.  In The Hours Count by Jillian Cantor, the author uses a fictional character to take a definite position on the innocence of Ethel Rosenberg.  Susan Elia McNeil’s book series featuring Maggie Hope is a good example of a fictional character tying historic events together.  Her titles include Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, and Princess Elizabeth’s Spy.  

Last questions – does time travel count?  Did you learn anything new about JFK’s assassination by reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63?

-S. Bakos