Archive for Penguin

Double Up

Posted in New release, Promotions, Recommendations with tags , , , , on February 20, 2014 by jaclemens

LeopardsViking is allowing me to do another giveaway for Kristopher Jansma’s The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, this time in paperback! I have re-posted my review – leave a comment to be entered in the random drawing.

While I am holding a second giveaway for one of my favorite books of 2013, I will simultaneously have a giveaway for a new release from Penguin! Stayed tuned for that review, as you will need to comment on it separately to be entered in both drawings; they will both close on Friday, February 28th.

(This review was previously posted on 3/21/13; an interview with the author was also posted on 3/18/13)

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma is highly addictive for fans of literary fiction; it’s lit fic crack! I sped through it in a day and a half, but I absorbed it too quickly the first time so I had to start over and re-read it at a slower pace. As the unnamed narrator describes the work of another writer:

“It is the rare sort of book that resembles nothing else and yet somehow seems intensely familiar. From the first line you feel your own heart begin to beat differently. Once it’s over you want to begin it again.”

That is precisely my experience with this book. There is a great con going on here – our narrator is both unnamed and unreliable – but there is another level to this Inception-esque con at work. I was hooked so rapidly that I had a surreal sense of being hooked, as though Jansma had cracked the literary fiction formula and used it to cook up this new form of irresistible lit fic crack. I embraced the book so readily I wanted to throw it across the room! I might have done it had I been reading a typical advance copy, but I got this through netgalley (a first) and a touchscreen isn’t especially useful when it’s embedded in the drywall.

Somewhat like the three books our narrator has written, all of which have been lost. In an Author’s Note he explains that this book is pieced together from the remnants of those other books, and that in the empty space between them – in the cracks, as it were – is the truth.

Extreme Pumpkins

Posted in Promotions with tags , , , on November 4, 2008 by jaclemens

extreme-pumpkins1I may be the only blogger out there still writing about Halloween on Election Day, but I voted early on Halloween, so the swap makes sense!  Besides, who really wants to read anything more about the campaign beyond which candidate finally silenced the other?  Personally I’m hoping the results resemble the cover image of this book, but that’s more than enough about politics!

Every year our store hosts a pumpkin carving contest with some pretty impressive results, so this year when my Penguin rep Eric Boss, a carving enthusiast himself, showed me Extreme Pumpkins and the follow up Extreme Pumpkins II I knew I had the makings of a solid promotion.  Fans of Tom Nardone’s website are already familiar with his creative carving, but books based on websites work for cats, so why not pumpkins?  I brought in good quantities of both titles which sold so well off of our counter that I had to reorder to stock the actual display.  Sales actually slowed between the transition from counter to display, but we had a nice seasonal promotion, complete with more free t-shirts!

City of Thieves review

Posted in Recommendations, reviews with tags , , , , on October 2, 2008 by jaclemens

When Lindsay Wood, a rep from Penguin, recommended this book to me, I told her that I was planning on reading it but I had to get over my unfounded resentment towards the author first.  She rapidly deduced the root of my envy and responded “Why?  Because he’s married to Amanda Peet?”  Absolutely!  David Benioff has a successful writing career and he’s married to Amanda Peet!  How lucky can one guy get?  Wait until you read this book before you answer that question.  It is purportedly based on the experiences of his grandfather during the siege of Leningrad in 1942, and it would seem that luck runs in the Benioff genes.  One could say that the author has a diluted variation of the Benioff luck gene, and he would likely agree with that assessment.

A blazing quick read, City of Thieves reads like a screenplay, implausible yet not surprising, considering the author is also a screenwriter.  The action takes place over a few days in the drawn out siege, and there is no surfeit of transcribed Russian words to stumble over.  The narrator does his share of stumbling, but each time it is fortuitous.  “Not everybody has talent,” Lev Beniov tells another character who inquires about his talents, but he doesn’t yet realize his own talent for survival.  Mistaken for a thief, Beniov is paired with Kolya, a charismatic deserter, and given the task of locating a dozen eggs by a colonel in the NKVD.  It is an impossible task in a besieged city, but Kolya is irrepressible.  When the pair falls in with a band of partisans and meets Vika, a tomboy sniper, finding the eggs becomes Lev’s second most important conquest.  Full of likable characters and humor even in the face of atrocities, City of Thieves deserves to be recommended rather than resented!