Monthly Archives: January 2013

Customer Review: Falling for You

The following review on Lisa Schroeder’s Falling for You (Simon Pulse, $16.99) is written by one of our long-time customers. Be sure to check this and Schroeder’s other books on display in our store.

Also, our digital Poetry Contest is happening now! Details and the submission form can be found HERE.

 

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Whenever anyone asks me about novels in verse, Lisa Schroeder is the first name that comes out of my mouth. Falling for You, however, is Lisa’s first YA book told in traditional prose (with a good amount of poetry sprinkled throughout). I will admit when I heard this book wasn’t in verse I was disappointed; I was also a little nervous and wondered would it be as good as her other books? Well I am here to tell you that YES IT IS! Silly me to doubt.

The book is about a girl named Rae who has a very difficult home life that she keeps hidden from even her best friends. The way she deals with this dark part of her life is through keeping a poetry journal where she lets all her emotions flow freely.

I absolutely loved the formatting of this book! The book starts off with a snippet of Rae in the hospital but we don’t know what happened to put her there. The book then jumps to six months earlier, then we get another snippet at the hospital, five months later, snippet, four months, and so on and so forth. This created a great sense of tension and mystery throughout the whole book as we wonder what is going to happen to Rae.

As for the characters, it was so refreshing to have such a strong, intelligent, and loving protagonist like Rae. Her love and care for others, even those who had hurt her kept surprising me. She really was a remarkable character.

Nathan is the new guy who immediately shows interest in Rae. You could tell he was trouble from the first moment he opened his mouth; I just wish Rae could have seen it too! It was understandable how she looked past it though, because she had never had a boyfriend before and dreamed of having someone who really cared for her.

Leo was the awesome friend. He was completely laid back, fun, caring, super sweet and did I mention he’s homeschooled?!? Homeschooled characters don’t really pop up often in YA so I was pretty excited. (I was homeschooled myself, so that’s why I’m so excited about this!)

All in all, this book was a battle between light and dark, about finding the light even in the darkest most trying times. It was emotional. It was mysterious. It was hopeful. It was wonderful.

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“Please don’t go anywhere!”

There is a lot of confusing and conflicting information about the state of publishing. The book is dead. Digital media reading is on the rise. The e-book influence is bursting. Books are an important cultural artifact. Books are simply an outdated vessel (or debates thereof).  Bookstores are a dying breed or, thankfully, more recently 41 new independent bookstores opened in 2012. I see articles every day about the state of the book or the state of print. Now I’ll be the first to admit that I read those articles on my phone. And then I sometimes post them on our Facebook page. Or I email them to interested parties. But the fact that people are continually talking about these issues means that nothing is yet resolved and frankly I’m not even convinced that we’re completely sure of the terms that we’re discussing.

First, the discussions raises all sorts of questions about definitions. What is a ‘book’? What do we mean by ‘print’ in the digital age? Then the debate expands further. To the traditional media — books, magazines, newspapers — have been added blogs, tweets, posts. Can we even talk about ‘writing’ any more? What language do we use to distinguish communication we ‘see’ from the communication we ‘hear’? Do we need new words or do we just appropriate the ones we already use: writing, printing, publishing.  And with all that ‘visual communication’ out there, how do we even begin to figure out what we want to read?

Enter the bookstores. While driving home last week, I decided to stop at a few independent bookstores along the way. (Remember, I did acknowledge that this is a chronic phenomenon for bookstore employees.) I thoroughly enjoyed investigating the two shops, comparing their inventory to ours. What struck me the most is how curatorial the bookstore is. Sure many of their featured new releases were similar to ours. We all overlap in our Picks of the Year for 2012. But each store had its own unique personality, its own focus, which was quite distinct from ours. I picked up several books we don’t carry and noticed that some of the books we display prominently were nowhere to be found. For the record, I did buy a few things, but resisted buying books, as hard as it was.

Bookstores are curatorial. They are highly specialized mini exhibits of the wider publishing world. And they are purposeful. Bookstores are run by people; people weeding through millions of books to find the ones that deserve a place on our shelves. People who know our communities’ tastes and personalities. People making critical decisions about which book to recommend to which customer. There are no algorithms in our recommendations. We listen to what you want, what you’ve enjoyed in the past; we pay attention to how you respond to our recommendations, noting which books you hand back immediately and which ones you peruse for a little longer. We love it when you come back and ask for another recommendation because you enjoyed the last one.We can’t stock everything, but that’s probably a good thing, and what we can do is help personalize the search.

What is the future of the book? I don’t know, but I love reading the discussions. And the future of the bookstore? Well, I feel pretty positive, given how often a customer says, “Please don’t go anywhere”.

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The Right Age

Jo Walton posted this discussion yesterday, entitled “Is There a Right Age to Read a Book?” She poses some interesting questions as well as addressing the difference between readers and re-readers. I happen to fall into the latter category and completely agree with relaxing in to the narrative the second go round. It’s upon re-reading that I feel like I can appreciate the author’s expertise. The first time, I’m caught up in the story. The second time, I notice the skilled use of literary devices and other significant details. I think other re-readers would probably say the same. While reading Walton’s comments, though, I couldn’t help but think to myself how grateful I am that we don’t just have one shot with literature. There are so many amazing books out there and they touch people in different ways. That’s what makes books so interesting to discuss. If we all felt the exact same way about a story, well then, what’s left to say? It’s the debating, the questions, the ability to push deeper into a story and seeing how it can expand without breaking that, to me, distinguishes Literature from literature.

Fortunately for us there is tremendous amount of good Literature. Even if you read something too early, or too late, you’re sure to read something else at exactly the right time. Having to read Great Expectations in 9th grade kind of put me off Dickens. But I first read George Eliot in college, when I was better able to digest the richness of her work. Maybe I’ll never appreciate Dickens the way I would have, if I had read his books at the ‘right’ time, but there are plenty of other books for me to enjoy, so I’m not too worried. It works the other way as well. I’m so thrilled that I read and re-read Lewis’s Narnia books as a child, because as an adult, they make me uncomfortable. That means I can still genuinely recommend them to young readers, even though I’ll never truly enjoy them myself again.

Age appropriateness and children’s books are an ongoing discussion. But Walton’s comments are a reminder of how individualize the reading process really is. And reading builds on itself. If we all waited till adulthood to read certain books, then we wouldn’t have the background and preparation to enjoy those books. Read wrong and read right, just keep reading.

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Toast the Author!

We started a new series of events for adults last September. Once a month, we invite an author in on Friday night. We start with an social time for 15 minutes, which gives everyone a chance to have a glass of wine and some small snacks. It’s also a great opportunity to meet the author and have a chat. The featured speaker then talks for 30-45 minutes. Sometimes the auth does a reading, or talks about how the book came to be, or discusses the research and background stories behind writing. There is always time for questions, discussion, and signing at the end.

Our first featured speaker was Larry Tye, who had recently written Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero. Tye talked about the various incarnations of the Superman myth, even as the core values of the phenomenon stay relatively consistent. He highlighted the Jewish imagery and references that infuse the myth as well as the Jewish roots of Superman’s creators. Am I the only one who thinks that Tye’s posture and mannerisms kind of remind you of someone?

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IMG_0928In October, Peter Abrahams, aka Spencer Quinn, visited. Peter Abrahams has written a number books for young readers and adults. Under the name Spencer Quinn, he writes the Chet & Bernie mysteries. The latest in this series is A Fistful of Collars, narrated by Chet, the dog. Chet also blogs. A few lucky guests went home with Chet & Bernie frisbees that they won from Abrahams’s book quiz.

Manz describes the Cartier Bresson strand of photo historyAnother local resident, Robert Manz, hosted our November event. Manz is a photographer. You’ve probably seen his cards and calendars in our store and a variety of other venues around town or visited one of his stunning exhibitions. His talk was titled “The REAL Picture: Some Questions about Art and Photography in the Digital Age” and he discussed some of the conceptual dilemmas in photography. If a photograph is edited in photoshop is it no longer ‘real’? What is the ‘original’ photograph in the digital age? Fascinating!

IMG_1232Joan Wickersham also joined us towards the end of November to discuss her new book The News from Spain: 7 Variations on a Love Story. In addition to reading from one of the stories, she also talked about the writing process. She made some really interesting and insightful comments (exactly what you’d expect from an author). My favorite was, ‘”With writing, I think the question is not why did something happen, but why did it stick”. It’s always so interesting listening to writers talk about writing!

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Finally, in December, William Kuhn, author of Mrs Queen Takes the Train regaled us with some hilarious stories of his research adventures in the Windsor Castle archives. He also read from his novel, complete with voices for each character, including the Queen. Unfortunately I was so caught up in listening (and laughing) that I forgot to take any pictures!

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Toast the Author! Spring 2013

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January 11 with John Barylick, author of Killer Show: The Station Nightclub Fire, America’s Deadliest Rock Concert

February 15 with Kathleen Brunelle, author of Cape Cod’s Highfield & Tanglewood: A Tale of Two Cottages

March 22 with Eve LaPlante, author of Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother

April 19 with Jodi Daynard, author of The Midwife’s Revolt: A Novel

May 24 with Barbara Shapiro, author of The Art Forger

All Toast the Author! events are on Friday evenings from 6-7 pm. The full schedule is available on our website. 

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First up is John Barylick, who has written Killer Show: The Station Nightclub Fire, America’s Deadliest Rock Concert. He will be speaking on January 11, 6-7 pm. For seven years John Barylick was a lead attorney investigating and prosecuting wrongful-death and personal-injury cases arising from The Station fire. He has practiced law in Rhode Island since 1977. 15% of all sales of Barylick’s book purchased at this event will be donated to The Jimmy Gahan Charitable Foundation of Falmouth, in honor of Jimmy Gahan, who lost his life in the Station Night Club fire in West Warwick, RI on February 20, 2003.

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Review by Trinity, age 11

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SWAY
        WRITTEN BY

                       AMBER McREE TURNER

SBSSBSSBSSBSSBSSBSSBSSBSSBS

Soap slivers are magical. Sway is magical. Sway and soap slivers 
are two magical things in one. Magic is magic, soap is soap, and sway is 
sway, but somehow they are all one big magical thing that is for everyone, 
including you, if you believe.

This is what the discouraged and confused Cass discovers when family
relationship troubles, misunderstandings, bonds, misleadings, heartbreaks
and dreams all get tangled with one another as it seems like her world is
falling apart. 

I thought this book was so wonderful that I have started my own soap sliver 
collection.

I recommend this book to kids and adults who have family troubles. Not for 
kids under 10!!!!!

Eight Cousins Far and Wide

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The other day I woke up to a lovely email from a staff member. She had been on vacation with her family in Florida and they visited a bookstore. Can I just say now, that this is a chronic phenomenon. Bookstore employees can’t seem to stay out of bookstores, even on vacation. So there she is, with her family, at Bookwise in Boca Raton.

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Bookwise was dressed up for the holiday and inside Christmas Tree was on display all covered with ornaments made out of bookmarks. It looked like this.

>>>>>>>

Our staff member got into a conversation with their owner about the tree. I mean, what a cute idea! It must be a real conversation generator. The inevitable, do you have a bookmark from your store?, question came up. Alas, no.

Look closely. Do you see what I see?

THERE WAS ALREADY AN EIGHT COUSINS BOOKMARK ON THE TREE!!!!!

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The staff that parties together . . .

One of our staff member is having a baby. As you might expect from a group of people who work in a (predominately) children’s bookshop, the rest of the staff members are beside themselves with excitement. Last night we had a baby shower, with, unfortunately, a no book policy that only one person violated. She’s forgiven, however, because she teaches a parenting class on baby books at the hospital. And she might be the boss, so no one complained. Practicing what she preaches, she  gave ‘The Basic 10: Best Books for Babies’.

We all pitched in to get a stroller for the new mom, which as one person pointed out, kind of looked like the Twilight books (black, white, and red). Surely that wasn’t intentional, but with this group, who knows. I’m rather new to this store, and these parties are always a great way to get to know everyone a little better. Turns out yesterday was also one staff member’s birthday, therefore the party had a dual function. We sang “Happy Birthday” followed by “Happy Baby”. The hostess has a lovely house with fantastic blue walls. Excellent decorating choice! And she makes a mean turkey chili. Another member of staff is heading to Ireland tomorrow for a semester abroad. We all wish her the best on her travels. We got to hear stories about car troubles, dog shenanigans, new library policies, and adventures in grand parenting. One staff member left promptly at 8:30 to be home in time for Downton AbbeyBook and bookstore talk was minimal; it’s always great to see that we have more in common than that one shared passion.

As for the mother-to-be, she went home with very small new clothes, some half-knitted items with the promise of completion, baby dishes with French speaking (?!) animals, and photo session when the little one arrives. She also has a Twilight stroller and car seat, which means she can visit us often. She has a whole gaggle of nannies ready and waiting at the bookstore.

The Basic 10

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Physical, Digital, and Social

Winter Store Photo

There are a lot of changes over at Eight Cousins, both in our store and online. If you haven’t visited us recently you might not know that we reshuffled the sections this Fall. Most of the front of store is now dedicated to books for grown-ups. The fiction and non-fiction books refused to be confined so they now each have their own section. We still have a Mystery table and have also added a Science section, which we thought was pretty important for this area.

We always spend the first few days of each new year conducting inventory. We’ve counted every book, toy, puzzle, game, animal, card, and rock in the store. We dusted, shifted, organized, and spruced in the record time of 2 days! Thanks to all our holiday staff members who helped out!

We also have some big changes online. The website [www.eightcousins.com] has been completely restructured, redesigned, and recolored. We plan to add staff recommendation pages in the near future and are bouncing around other ideas. We’d love to know what you think of it so if you have any suggestions, feel free to add comments below!

Of course we’re on Facebook; we have occasional specials on Foursquare, Yelp, and Google Places; and we’re testing the waters over at Pinterest. We’ll be sending out a January newsletter detailing all these changes, which will also contain information about our upcoming events. We always have so many things happening in store that one of our resolutions is to send out a newsletter once a month. If you’d like to start receiving it, click here.

Happy New Year! We think that 2013 will be a great one!

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