March 10th, 2009

How much is that ebook in the window?

The Guardian reports, “Two years after Radiohead's pay-what-you-like album, In Rainbows, the independent UK publisher Faber is launching its own digital experiment, giving readers the chance to pay what they deem appropriate for historian Ben Wilson's latest book, fittingly titled What Price Liberty?”

Read more here.



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You are there!

The Washington Post says, “Little Bee, by Guardian columnist Chris Cleave, hinges on a single horrific encounter. On a beach in Nigeria, the lives of Little Bee, a teenager from a small village, and Sarah O'Rourke, editor of a posh British women's magazine, are brought into brutal conjunction. Little Bee and her older sister have the misfortune to live on valuable Nigerian oil deposits, for which their family pays a deadly price. Sarah and her husband, heedless tourists out for a walk in the sand, are confronted in an instant with a choice: Save the girls at great personal cost or ignore them.” And “Nearly four years ago Cleave's first novel, Incendiary, about an al-Qaeda bomb attack at a London soccer match, was published in Britain on the very day that suicide bombers killed 52 people in London's transit system. This gruesome coincidence called into question whether Cleave's talent was responsible for the attention the novel received. Little Bee leaves little doubt that Cleave deserves the praise. He has carved two indelible characters whose choices in even the most straitened circumstances permit them dignity -- if they are willing to sacrifice for it. Little Bee is the best kind of political novel: You're almost entirely unaware of its politics because the book doesn't deal in abstractions but in human beings.”s

Chris Cleave, the author of Little Bee, is doing daily video posts about his book tour. You can see them here. Just watching (listening?) for the accent alone is fun!



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Zombie Queen of Newbury High


Who doesn’t love stories about zombies? There’s a great one out this month from the Girlfirends Cyber Circuit's Amanday Ashby called Zombie Queen of Newbury High.

About the book
Tomorrow is prom, and all Mia wants to do is cast a love spell on her date Rob Ziggerman to keep him away from cheerleading goddess Samantha and save him all to herself. But somehow she ends up inflicting a zombie virus onto her whole class instead. At first Mia loves all the attention her classmates are giving her; treating her like a queen, compliments galore, and all the chocolate a girl could want. But then zombie hunter hottie Chase explains they are actually fattening her up. Why? Because in twenty-four hours, Mia will be the first course in their new diet. That’s what being the ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH means. She’s sure she and Chase can figure something out, especially when the alternative means that her classmates and teachers will be feasting on her bones. But in the meantime, Mia suggests that no one wear white to tomorrow night’s prom, because she has a feeling that things could get very messy.

About the Author
Amanda Ashby was born in Australia and has spent the last ten years dividing her time between England and New Zealand. When she’s not moving countries, she likes to write books (okay, she also likes to watch television, eat chocolate and sit around doing not much, but let's just keep that between ourselves, shall we?). She has a degree in English and Journalism from the University of Queensland and is married with two young children. Her debut adult book You Had Me at Halo has been nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice award. This is her first book for young adults. Visit her on the web at www.amandaashby.com.

I asked, Amanda answered
A1: What's the scariest thing that's ever happened to you? Bonus question: have you used it, in any way, in a book?
A2: When I was about sixteen someone knocked on our front door, but when I went to answer it, the door was already open and the windows next to the door were also open. However, before I could really register what was happening, someone grabbed me from behind the small wall that cut off the front room from our lounge room. Despite the shock, my first instincts were to fight and struggle like crazy and in the end the person ran off. My parents and brother were in the house at the time so we’re not quite sure what the person thought they were doing and the police never found them, but they were convinced it was because I had fought back so much that the person had run away. The strange thing I haven’t thought about this in the longest of times but perhaps now I have remembered it might go in a book! [Full disclosure: whew! I’m glad Amanda was okay. That is a story that could have had a lot of bad endings to it!]

A1: Mystery writers often give their characters an unreasoning fear - and then make them face it. Do you have any phobias, like fear of spiders or enclosed spaces?
A2: I grew up in Australia – the land of monster spiders so I’m not really too scared of them. I don’t like grasshoppers at all but I wouldn’t say it was a fear. However, my heroine in my new book ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH has a fear of heights and when it first came up in the book I actually had no idea why I was even bothering to put it in, but as often happens, it turned out that it was actually quite important!

A1: Do you have a favorite mystery book, author, or movie?
A2: Does Janet Evanovich count? [Full disclosure #2: of course!] I’m such a fan of hers, partly because of the mysteries and partly because I want to see what Lulu and Grandma Mazur will be wearing next!!! Actually, considering I grew up completely addicted to Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, The Three Investigators , and my all time favorite, Trixie Belden, I don’t really read much mystery. [Full disclosure #3: Trixe and the Bob White Gang. I really wanted to be Honey!]

A1: At its heart, every story is a mystery. It asks why someone acts the way they did - or maybe what will happen next. What question does your book ask?
A2: Ooh, tough question. I don’t think I’m a very analytical writer so often I just tell the story the way I see it in my head without really questioning too much about it. I guess there are certain themes though that I like to explore. Normally it involves my characters knowing some sort of truth that sets them apart from other people. I like to see how characters act under pressure since often that lets you know who they are as people. And I also like to see unlikely heroines and heroes come to life.

A1: Is there a mystery in life that you are still trying to figure out?
A2L I am actually very interested in how some people end up being very rich and others end up being very poor. But I don’t mean in a ‘I’ve read The Secret’ kind of way. More in a curious sort of way. For some reason I just find it endlessly fascinated - though unfortunately I don’t think I’ll ever really find an answer to it.



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What would you do with a box of Meyer lemons?


Okay, I love to cook. And I'm pretty good. I make my piecrust from scratch (usually), and I have a cinnamon roll recipe that is the best in the world. (Don't believe me? Just try making these and you'll change your tune.) I have made croissants by hand, a process with took 24 hours and the results of which were eaten in less than 24 minutes.

But I've never cooked with Meyer lemons, and I got this big box of them at Costco. So do you have a favorite recipe? I'm thinking of Shaker Pie....



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