my new book just arrived.

by kara on April 16, 2015

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My Haters, Myself

by kara on April 16, 2015

via Amanda Hess at Slate My Haters, Myself – Mastering the art of the haterbrag.

Jennifer Weiner at a PEN America event on April 6, 2015. A slideshow projected on a screen behind her was loaded with pics of Jonathan Franzen striking stuffy promotional poses.

(Photo by Corrie Hulse)

Jennifer Weiner has sold millions of books, spent a combined five years on the New York Times best-seller list, and amassed 109,000 followers on Twitter. Last week, she descended into the basement of New York City’s Ace Hotel to share a handful of her self-promotional secrets. The talk, sponsored by the PEN American Center, was titled “How to Be Authentic on Social Media,” but its true subject was how to promote your book on the Internet without making everyone hate you. Weiner advised authors to tweet about the things they love (for Weiner, it’s the reality TV romance competition The Bachelor); to tweet about the authors they love (Roxane Gay and Gary Shteyngart are two of her favorites); and to tweet about their own projects “sparingly, carefully, modestly, thoughtfully, and absolutely as little as possible”—and let their now-loyal crew of social media followers spread the word. The talk was a handy primer, charmingly delivered. But it referred only obliquely to Weiner’s true social-media innovation: Co-opting her haters into her personal brand.

In 2010, Weiner coined the term “Franzenfreude” to mock the extensive and fawning media coverage that met Jonathan Franzen’s latest novel, Freedom. When Franzen unexpectedly returned the slight, frowning upon “Jennifer Weiner-ish self-promotion” in an essay published in the Guardian in 2013, Weiner cannily recast Franzen’s dig as a badge of honor, changing her Twitter bio, for a time, to “Engaging in Jennifer Weiner-ish self-promotion.” Years of sustained, adversarial brand building followed. On Twitter, she’s dubbed Franzen “the worst Internet boyfriend ever,” branded his literary allies “Franzenfriends,” and gleefully organized an “unFranzen” party to coincide with Franzen’s keynote address at next month’s BookExpo America. In advance of last week’s talk, she promised to finally “explain how ‘Jennifer Weiner-ish self-promotion’ works” and joked that she was prepping for the event by spending all day Googling photos of Franzen. Um, it wasn’t a joke: A slideshow projected on a screen behind Weiner was loaded with pics of Franzen striking stuffy promotional poses. Throughout the evening, Weiner hammily referred to him as, alternately, Jonathan Franzen, Lonathan Janzen, and Shmonathan Shmanzen. “Dude, you know a lot about Jonathan Franzen,” the event’s host, Emily Gould, noted when it was all over. Replied Weiner: “I like to be prepared.”

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On the NIghtstand

by kara on December 2, 2014

By Sarah Waters
(Riverhead Hardcover, Hardcover, 9781594633119, 576pp.)

Publication Date: September 16, 2014


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RIP PD James

by kara on November 28, 2014











Crime writers P.D. James (left) and another one of my favorites, Ruth Rendell

One of my favorite crime novelists,  PD James, has died aged 94. Her agent said she died “peacefully at her home in Oxford” on Thursday morning. She penned more than 20 books, many featuring sleuth Adam Dalgliesh, and sold millions of books around the world, with various adaptations for television and film.

Her best known novels include The Children of Men, The Murder Room and Pride and Prejudice spin-off Death Comes to Pemberley.

The author told the BBC last year she was working on another detective story and it was “important to write one more”.

Born Phyllis Dorothy James on 3 August 1920, the author did not publish her first (fantastic) novel, Cover Her Face, until she was 42. It was a critical success, but she continued working for the Home Office – where she held a job in the forensic science department and then the criminal law department until 1979.

She gained international recognition in 1980 after the publication of her eighth book, Innocent Blood.

During the 1980s, many of James’s Dalgliesh novels were adapted for television on ITV, starring Roy Marsden in the in lead role. The BBC later adapted Death in Holy Orders and The Murder Room in 2003 and 2004 respectively, starring Martin Shaw as the detective.James’s 1992 dystopian novel The Children of Men was adapted for the movies by Alfonso Cuaron in 2006.

The author was awarded the Crime Writers’ Association’s Diamond Dagger award in 1987 for lifetime achievement, and received the Medal of Honour for Literature in 2005 by National Arts Club. She also served as a BBC governor from 1988 to 1993.


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On the Nightstand

by kara on November 28, 2014

Before I go to Sleep by S.J Watson

(Harper Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780062060563, 368pp.)

Publication Date: February 2012


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On the nightstand

by kara on October 26, 2014


The Dark Side of Innocence: Growing Up Bipolar

By Terri Cheney(Atria Books, Hardcover, 9781439176214, 288pp.)

Publication Date: March 1, 2011


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Science Sleuths

by kara on October 10, 2014

Ebola, global warming, heat death, yadayadayada, it seems as if even day a new type of medical or environmental horror is attacking us from the headlines. The Vallows are sciencey people, engineers, doctors and research scientists and me, a cartoonist who likes to read about stuff, particularly if there is an element of MYSTERY afoot. Germs and detectives might not seem like they’re connected. But their link, as a certain fictitious sleuth might say, is elementary. Here are some books I have read recently that you may ALSO enjoy!


Spitting Blood: The History of Tuberculosis by Helen Bynum

I have always been fascinated by the romantic “wasting” disease. It started as a kid when I read the story of Poe’s child bride’s death by consumption. She is entertaining guests in the parlor on the harp (or was it a piano?), and suddenly starts spitting up blood. She spends the next months growing paler and more wan and more beautiful, glowing with the disease. During the Romantic Age, TB was called “consumption,” from the Latin, consumere, to waste away and for a brief period, became a stylish mark of tragic beauty. The pale and wan English poets, like Keats and Shelley, symbolized the melancholy ideal of the romantic and consumptive youth of the 19th century, such as Mimi, in Puccini’s La Bohème. Romantics began to believe consumption was associated with gifted and talented people; Thoreau, dead at 45; Chopin, 39; and Robert Louis Stevenson, 34. It was the professional and popular opinion then, before the discovery of germs, that consumption was a constitutional trait.

[click to continue…]

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On the nightstand

by kara on September 20, 2014

Manic: A Memoir

By Terri Cheney
(William Morrow Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780061430275, 272pp.)

Publication Date: February 2009


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by kara on September 5, 2014

from the site 28dayslater

Library in the beautiful, spooky abandoned and obviously haunted Château de la Forêt


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On the Nightstand

by kara on August 11, 2014

Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic

By David Quammen
(W. W. Norton & Company, Paperback, 9780393346619, 587pp.)

Publication Date: September 2013


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