Category Archives: Book Column

Rory’s Story Cubes

Had so much fun playing this game last night with the kids. Rory’s Story Cubes is pretty straight forward.

Story Cubes

Basically everyone gets a few dice and someone starts telling a tale. Then throws a die and has to incorporate that object into the story and the tale gets handed off to the next person and on and on it goes.

I guess it’s not a game in the traditional sense of someone winning, but we killed a solid hour going around and around the table. I can promise you one thing – you learn a LOT about your children when they have to riff on a picture of a frowny face coupled with an envelope and super counter ball thingy (an abacus to those out of the 2nd grade). The songs, books, commercials, friends names, etc. that occupy your kids’ brains all bubble to the top and spill out. So much fun.

Story Cubes

This is a certainly gift for readers of all ages. And looking at their site, they now have a Batman branded edition as well as others that focus on ‘actions’, ‘voyages’, etc.

Anyway, check out Rory’s Story Cubes if you know of anyone learning to write or that loves stories.

National Science Fiction Day 2016

So yesterday was National Science Fiction Day for 2016. It’s not exactly a major holiday… yet… but it’s fun to celebrate nonetheless. An hey – if enough blog posts start mentioning it and the right publishers get behind it we could have us a real holiday one day. Though January 2nd would be a tough sell I have to admit. It’s just a little too close to the Christmas & New Year’s Eve to be of any fun.

But it’s the day that the grand poobah of the galaxy Isaac Asimov was born back in 1920. So it’s probably as good of a day as any to celebrate science fiction writing.

So in honor of Asimov’s awesome encyclopedic legacy, I’d like to share my three favorite science fiction books I read last year. I have to admit that it’s getting harder to figure out what is “science fiction” these days. So many books have elements of the future, time travel, dragons, etc. that science fiction is teetering on becoming mainstream. But that’s a post for another day.

If you’re looking for a good sci-fi read to kick off 2016, then check these out:

TimeSalvagerTime Salvager by Wesley Chu I thought this book was great fun. It does fall in the time travel category. It has a couple of common sense and unique solutions for dealing with many of the common issues with time travel, which I thought clever. Also, it’s the first in a series so it’s a great time to jump on board.

 

 

BoneClocksThe Bone Clocks by David Mitchell I finally got around to reading this and so glad I did. While I’m not one for “psychic powers” stuff, the writing is incredible and the way Mitchell loops everything together is almost a superpower. It’s a big book. So if you want to dip your toes then I’d recommend reading Slade House. It’s set in the Bone Clocks universe, but no necessarily a sequel. I think you’ll enjoy Slade House more if you read it second, but no harm in using it as an appetizer to see if it’s for you.

SevenevesSeveneves by Neal Stephensen – this book might very well be the most epic science fiction book I’ve ever read. It is Asimov-like in scope and skill. So very good. There definitely falls in the hard sci-fi column. So expect pages of scientists and engineers debating orbits, trajectories, etc. but you can skim that stuff if your eyes start to gloss over. The story is huge. It tracks humanity thousands of years into the future after the Earth is made uninhabitable.

That’s it! I am a huge fan of science fiction and speculative fiction. So please let me know of any fantastic reads that you’ve found. I’ll add them to my list.

Happy belated National Science Fiction Day!

2016 Tournament of Books

It’s January and that means it’s time to kick off another Tournament of Books competition. The folks over at The Morning News have been running this beauty pageant of books for 12 years. No matter if you agree with the final winner or not, I guarantee the conversation is worth following.

2016_TournamentOFBooksLast year Station Eleven took home the top prize (which I thought was a great read). You can read last year’s Championship Matchup’s play-by-play here.

Now that you see how it went down,  click over and read the long list of “players” on the roster for this year’s contest. There are 86 works of fiction in the 2016 Tournament of Books. Quite a few books you’d expect to be there, but there are even more that never popped up on my radar last year. I’ve already added three titles to my “be on the lookout for” list.

How many of the 86 have you already read? Anything on there you’d recommend?

You can keep up with the contest by following The Morning News on Twitter or by watching this category/archive thread on their site. The brackets and schedule will be published soon enough as folks start trash taking and picking the faves.

May the best book win!

 

Most Popular Library Books of 2015

Last year was a great year for books. I hit a bland patch coming out of the summer, but finished out 2015 with some great reads. Now that 2016 is here, it’s fun to look back and see what other readers were doing.

Libraries around the country have been posting their “most requested” and “most borrowed” lists for a few weeks. So I thought I’d sample a few and see what the commonalities are.

Here in Birmingham, Alabama, John Grisham’s Gray Mountain and two David Baldacci books, The Memory Man and The Escape, make the “most popular” list.

The folks in South Florida favored Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train, but both Grisham and Baldacci made a Top 5 list from Miami Dade county also.

Paula Hawkins topped the lists in Boston as well as those up around Chicago as well. Interesting how there’s no Grisham or Baldacci there.

And patrons of the New York Public Library System prefer Jodi Picoult over everything else. Though Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train was second. But again, no Grisham or Baldacci.

There definitely seems to be a line, on the map, somewhere for what types of thrillers readers like in different parts of the country.

Hope you read some good books last year. And I hope you have many more ahead of you this year.

Happy New Year!