Friday, January 31, 2014

Feature and Follow - Epic Spine Poem

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

I am afraid I am stuck working 12-18 hour shifts so the spine photo is out of the question :-(

But here's a poem made from titles in the spirit!

The Martian Chronicles
Looking for Mr. Right in All the Wrong Places
Finding Prince Charming



Thursday, January 30, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Saint-Exupery, Silhouette Special Edition, Cavendish's History

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by The Housework Can Wait and Never too fond of Books.

Several old favorites walked across my desk in the past month.

One from my days as a brick and mortar seller was a batch of early Silhouette Special Editions from when Silhouette was still published by Pocket. The advent of Silhouette and other similar lines from other U.S. publishers finally forced Harlequin to bring a lot of American authors onboard and expand their offerings.

A second was a story about Antoine de Saint-Exupery that I heard on the radio. I knew Saint-Exupery had been a pilot in World War II but I did not know he wrote his most famous book, The Little Prince, in French, while a refugee within a few miles of where I live and that he then returned to the war only to die in combat.

Finally, I found a collection of Cavendish's History of World War II. Cavendish published the History in 96 weekly installments in 1973 and 1974 (in the U.S., a few years earlier in the UK). An interesting concept and, for the time, a well-done publication, fit for both the historian and the amateur.

What's crossed you desk recently?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Feature and Follow - To Read in 2014

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow 

I am afraid I don't have a good list like so many of you.
For 2014 my hope is to be able to read some of the many, many interesting books that will come out by independent authors. I want to read a SteamPunk book, an historical novel, and a biography of someone surprising. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Snow, Amazon, and other musings on the new year.

Three weeks into the new year and two big snow storms in New York where I live. A lot of fun to watch the snow come down - as long as I'm not driving or needing to shovel it!

Of course, my big indoor/outdoor cat hates the snow - it chases away all the other animals, it make moving around hard, and it is cold. He is much more sensitive to the cold now that he's 15.

I did spend my time productively trying to upload old paperbacks for sale on Amazon. It appears that Amazon, mighty Amazon, has trouble determining what is a trade paperback and what is a mass market for old books, precisely because they make their listing that of whoever uploads the product first. Surprisingly (sarcasm), when it gets to technical details, non-technical people sometimes make mistakes. With so many books in print, it IS impossible for Amazon to independently vet every book uploaded.

So about 50% of the harlequin romances came back as errors (Amazon listing is trade paperback) and 50% succeeded on the first try (Amazon listing is mass market paperback). The process to get the listings corrected seems convoluted but I think I understand their logic. We'll see if I adjust my upload to match the (wrong) information or if I go through the vetting process to get their listing updated.

I see a lot of other bloggers have set lofty reading goals for the new year. I wish them all the best of luck with all their goals. I, personally, just hope to find at least half an hour every day to read and at least an hour to write. 2013 saw those at probably 15 and 30 minutes respectively. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Buckskin Run - Review

This is a collection of 6 western stories with 5 short historical vignettes. The stories were originally published in pulp magazines in the 1940s and 1950s. The vignettes are new to the book. The vignettes are not related to any of the stories.

I am a big fan of L'Amour. However, these stories are not his best. They do have interesting twists and plenty of action and his signature strong, moral protagonists.The eponymous story, where the protagonists solves an old mystery, "Jackson of Horntown" where an aging sheriff goes out to capture the last surviving member of a (supposedly) lawless family but finds something else instead, and "Down the Pagonip Trail" where an outlaw and a sheriff find much more than they expect from a down and almost out rancher are the best.

The stories all read quickly and are full of the wholesome adventure and the flavor of the Old West as it progressed from empty wilderness to settled farm and ranch. They are perfect for reading when one doesn't have a lot of time or wants something relatively light.

Three stars (of 5).

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Feature and Follow - Blogger Resolutions 2014

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

I like to keep it simple,

1. Post more often and more consistently.
2. Interact with more bloggers.
3. Be interesting enough to attract more followers.

I was happy to get to an average of 1-2 posts each week last year. This was a considerable improvement. I'd like to continue that trend. The same can be said for the other two resolutions, looking back and forward. What say you?

Thursday, January 2, 2014


2013 is now only a "book" of memories. As is popular this time of year, I will pause a moment to remember some things that were lost in 2013. Then read the poem at the end to get a different perspective!

The literary world lost four giants - Tom Clancy, who has defined the military thriller; Elmore Leonard, whose novels had both tough characters and some lighthearted whimsy; Chinua Achebe, one of the first African authors to achieve critical and commercial success; and Doris Lessing whose direct, no-nonsense feminism paved the way for many more. On a more personal favorite, Frederik Pohl also passed away in 2013. His science fiction was part of the wave that popularized the genre in the 1940s and 1950s. I loved reading his "fantastic fiction" as a kid.

New Year’s Day

Just another day
Another sunrise; sunset
Given an artificial importance
Arbitrarily the start;
A new unit of time.
Therefore a day of resolutions,
Of promises and implorations,
Optimism, mostly misplaced,
And good intentions.
Probably better off
Making small changes,
Sticking to them,
At any time, on any day
Instead of this one
Whimsical day.