Archive for the ‘Topical Tips’ Category


Topical Tips: Scary

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

My word, it’s been a looooong time since I did a Topical Tips.  And Halloween’s been covered before, but since Neil Gaiman suggested the birth of a new book-giving tradition a couple of days ago, and I’m definitely all for giving books at whatever time of year, I thought it would be a good idea to give you some tips on scary books to give on Halloween, as per his idea:

  1. The Haunting of James Hastings by Christopher Ransom.  Highly recommended by Andree, one of our most esteemed You Reviewers, as “a fantastic horror story.  Absolutely brilliant.”  No higher praise is possible.
  2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  A fight to the death, on national television.  This is juvenile fiction?  Oh yes, and very good and full of nail-biting suspense, too.  Scare your teen by telling them it’s our new cabinet’s latest plan in school funding cuts.
  3. The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland.  I’m not one for horror, but as this was shelved under regular Fiction, I thought I’d be safe.  And it’s not all-out horror, but it is very, very tense, and very dark, and very atmospheric, and one of the best and most frightening books I’ve read this year.
  4. Worse Than War: Genocide, Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen.  Who says only fiction can be scary when the real world still has so many instances of excluding people based on their beliefs, or the color of their skin, or because they say yes when you say no?
  5. Fangoria magazine.  For all fans of horror movies, splatter effects, gorenography, and very bloody-looking prosthetics.

Topical Tips: Lost Symbol

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

For those of you who had been waiting with bated breath: the new Dan Brown is on sale at last!  Enjoy it.  To celebrate this fact, here are five titles somewhat connected:

  1. lostsymbolUSlostsymbolUKDecoding the Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Authoritative Guide to the Facts behind the Fiction by Simon Cox. Some people just have too much time on their hands (that would also include this gentleman, and this one, too).
  2. Lost Symbols?: The Secrets of Washington, D. C. by David Ovason.  Following in the long (and illustrious?) tradition of naming the book similar to a surefire bestseller (I personally love The Supremes’ Greatest Hits) hoping to get it ordered by mistake by the impatient masses.
  3. The Biggest Secret: The Book That Will Change the World by David Icke. From the master conspiracy theorist himself.  Speaking of which, I need to go buy the new Muse cd.
  4. Reading Lost: Perspectives on a Hit Television Show. Plenty of symbols in Lost, too, I’ve been told…
  5. Prince for a Day by Shannon Nicole Wallace.  Oh yeah, it’s Prinsjesdag today!  Enjoy seeing what they’re all wearing today, and who knows, maybe the cutbacks that were leaked the past few days are less gloomy than they seem.

Topical Tips: Faust

Monday, September 7th, 2009

In honor of last Saturday’s author event in the Treehut in Den Haag, where Dina Nayeri chatted about and signed her book Another Faust, here are five titles along similar lines (if you missed, don’t worry, you should have another chance to meet her in Amsterdam next month)(more details when we have them!).  And belated apologies to Ms. Nayeri, since I completely mis-spelled her name in last week’s post (it’s fixed now)…  D’oh!

  1. ericFaust Eric by Terry Pratchett.  My first encounter with the Faust legend.  Meaning I didn’t read/see on stage…
  2. The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. …first.  I have read War and Peace, though.  Completely.  And Tess of the D’Urbervilles, twice, despite hating it the first time, and liking it even less the second time.  Do I get some points back now?  :-)
  3. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.  An updated version that, by all accounts that I’ve heard, is excellent and well worth reading.
  4. Ghost Rider by Daniel Way, Mark Texeira and Javier Saltares.  Graphic novel featuring Nicholas Cage Johnny Blaze.
  5. Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny by Jack Black and Kyle Gass.  Featuring (I hope) the song Tribute, in which two man-children must outplay the devil to save their souls.

Topical Tips: Back to School

Monday, August 31st, 2009

I know, I know, I’ve already done one,  but it’s such a momentous occasion (especially since both blogmistresses have school-going kids now!) that I can’t resist another one:

  1. Best Word Book Ever by Richard Scarry.  I pretty much learned to read with the pictures and words in this book (albeit the huge hardcover version that I can’t seem to find at the moment), and it’s ever so wonderful to see my own daughter abuse my much-abused copy even further.
  2. Penguin Popular Classics.  Ester tells me Dracula has been very popular this year – schools jumping on the vampire/Twilight bandwagon?  Whatever the reason, this is a series of classic English literature sure to be on High School reading lists for € 4.99 a pop.  In Den Haag we have a separate section for them; not sure if Amsterdam does.
  3. The Manga Guide to Statistics by Shin Takahashi.  Learn to lie with numbers the manga way!  And I’m saying this fully qualified as a maths teacher.  There’s one for Physics, too.
  4. A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses and Dissertations by Kate L. Turabian.  Uses the Chicago Manual of Style.  For those of you heading for universities and colleges (good luck!)(especially to my little nephew, who’s turning 18 and heading out into the world *sniff*).
  5. Moleskine Weekly Notebook Planner: July 2009 – December 2010.  For some reason the school planners you see at every self-respecting Dutch bookstore/department store don’t exist in the US or the UK (at least, not that I’ve ever seen).  This comes closest.

Topical Tips: Moon

Monday, July 20th, 2009

So, where were you, forty years ago, when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon?  I was but a twinkle in my daddy’s eye, as they say, so I can’t share my memories, but we hope you will.  Sigrid had a fabulous stray fact for you: Neil Armstrong’s mother’s middle name was Moon.  Thanks Sigrid! And now for five books about the moon:

  1. The Apollo 11 Moon Landing: 40th Anniversary Photographic Retrospective by Dennis R. Jenkins and Jorge R. Frank.  Thank goodness cameras were already invented back then.
  2. Moonfire: The Epic Journey of Apollo 11 by Norman Mailer.  Only 1969 copies of this photography book are to be printed.
  3. The Moon Watcher’s Companion: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Moon, and More by Donna Henes.  A “fascinating compendium of lunar science, myth, folklore, poetry, curious facts, and old wives’ wisdom culled from cultures throughout the ages.”  Quotation marks because I haven’t read it myself and can’t say true or false about that statement.  As opposed to…
  4. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd.  A classic children’s bedtime story.  Which I find quite sinister, it must be said.  But then, I’m also one of those people that stopped reading Winnie the Pooh to my daughter halfway through, because we both just didn’t get it.  We’re more the Roald Dahl set, I’m afraid.
  5. Fool Moon by Jim Butcher.  Part 2 in the action-packed and fun Harry Dresden series.  I sold the entire series to a lady yesterday, and she bought all 11 parts on the strength of one short story in Strange Brew.  How cool is that!