Saturday, January 25, 2014

Laughter, Please

The thing I love about books is there ability to create an emotional reaction in me, whether laughter or tears, anger, hatred, love, sympathy or any other combination I want t book that makes me feel something. I imagine most of you are the same, and crave for any type of entertainment that sparks something, anything in the entertained. That would be the definition, right? That if anything is doing its job as entertainment- it entertains...okay well no duh.
Those that make you go...
Anyway, I am particularely thinking how much I love to laugh at books, and books that are so ridiculous I can't control myself from laughing a full belly laugh out loud, maybe in public, maybe in class, maybe on the bus. Of course it gives new meaning to "laugh out loud" when the crazy person on the bus starts laughing for no reason while reading, but oh well. I figure I am having a better day than anyone else if I can have a good laugh for "no reason".
Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Series
Sarah Vowell, Take the Cannoli
Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Lousie Rennison, Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging
William Goldman, The Princess Bride
What makes you laugh? Laugh until it hurts? Laugh until you cry? Laugh until your partner wants to lock you up? Makes you laugh in public and get weird looks?

At least this last gif should give you a giggle.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Collecting Books

Since I work at a bookstore, and since you are reading this you probably know I work at a book store, and thus that information was arbitrary.
Anyway, since I work at a bookstore…. I own a lot of books. The problem is as follows.
GREAT used book comes in, and I MUST have it, because it is a HARDCOVER version of DUBLINERS and I only have a cheap PAPERBACK version.
Advanced Reader Copy comes into the story by a beloved author, so I MUST take it home to read it…in about three years when it is already released because it is at the bottom of my reading list. Oh wait, here is another one with a cool cover about medical history….that one is coming home too.
NEW book comes in that everyone at the bookstore has read and loves loves loves, I’ll take one of everything,
It is a problem. I mean before I even started working here going into a bookstore was a dangerous idea, since I would empty out my wallet faster that you could say “George R.R. Martin killed another character” (I don’t read George R.R. Martin by mu co-worker said it would work in this instance). Since I started working here, it is only worse, naturally, I get a discount, I get free books, I get gifts of books from my librarian mother and history geek father, I keep text books that inspire me. I have an entire bookcase I JUST bought full to the brim with books I need TO READ. Most people have stacks, a shelf, a few they NEED TO READ, nope I have an entire bookcase. Welcome to my life, books in everyroom, every shelf, every corner, every table. And one day I hope to have this library:

What are your book collecting woes, habits, complaints and musings?
~Rebecca Robinson

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Natasha Wing book giveaway!

‘Twas the night before my birthday…

Natasha Wing, author of The Night Before series and a friend to all of us here at Old Firehouse Books, is releasing the 17th book (wow!) of her series for kids age 3-7. 

Her new book is titled, The Night Before My Birthday and is quite the party. Kids look forward to their birthdays almost as much as they do for holidays like Christmas. The excitement starts building from the very first day of your birthday month and reaches its peak the night before. Natasha Wing captures wonderfully the anticipation, excitement and joy that come along with the night before such a big event.

The book is written from the view of the birthday child. This is great, as it allows the child to really feel like they’re a part of the story, like their birthday is really tomorrow (and maybe it is!). This also allows the book to be gender neutral so it is perfect for any child!

The Night Before My Birthday will be available on January 16th

To celebrate the release, Old Firehouse Books is hosting a giveaway! Natasha is donating 5 copies of her book to giveaway to our patrons. To enter just send an email to, with the subject line, “It’s my birthday!” Be sure to include your name and phone number. Entering this contest will also sign you up for the Old Firehouse Books e-newsletter (which is where the winners will be announced).
Natasha was also kind enough to answer a few questions about her inspirations and upcoming work. Enjoy!

1. What made you decide to start writing children's books?
I was working in advertising and wanted to do something more creative, not just writing copy for ads. And I loved children's books, so I decided to try it, and if I didn't sell any stories, I'd go back to advertising.

2.  What was your most memorable birthday party as a kid? Were there ever any ice cream emergencies?
I was most excited when the boy I had a crush came to my birthday party (maybe my 7th?) and gave me a silver dollar for a present. No ice cream emergencies that I remember. That would have been terrible for a family whose relatives were in the ice cream business! I do have a cat, though, but she hasn't shown any liking for ice cream, like the cat in the book.

3.  Do you have any ambitions to write books for older audiences, such as young adult or teen readers?
Yes! I have a middle grade novel being shopped around. I do like writing for that age group versus writing for teens. And maybe a novel for adults some day. I'm in the process of reissuing a self-published cook book I did ten years ago about pie bakers and their recipes. I'm enjoying revisiting the stories and redesigning it for e-book and on-demand printing. New challenges.

4.  What made you decide to write books in the style of The Night Before Christmas?
I liked that book as a kid so when I wanted to write an Easter book (Easter was another of my favorite holidays - I love bunnies!) I thought of how waiting for the Easter Bunny was a lot like anticipating Santa's visit. So I flashed on using that story structure to tell the Easter story.

5.  Can you give our readers a hint as to what to expect from you next?
The Night Before Hanukkah is being illustrated and will come out this year. I'm also tossing around ideas for new Night Befores - the dance recital? 4th of July? I also have a manuscript with editors to consider about the founders of the National Park Service. The 100th anniversary is in 2016 so the book-making process needs to start soon. Cross your fingers an editor wants to publish it!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Among the million and one great things about books, there is always the aspect of a non-fiction or fiction telling you about a certain area in the world, a subject, a person, a story, a legend ex cetera. As I think on books I have read and what they have taught me there is a long list of great stories that have revealed aspects of the world to me.

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt gave me a glimpse of extreme 20th century poverty in Ireland, and the perseverance of a people. 

Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff gave me a glimpse of the sophisitcated cross-cultural, wealthy, luxurious, political game that existed in the last century BCE.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert revealed the power of healing in travel, and self-exploration, that no matter hte heartbreak one can come back swinging. 

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, though a fiction, gave me a sense of understanding suicide, and the feelings of wanting to leave, to escape, to drift and the impact that WWI had on England's skeleton.

Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson informed me that my crazy thoughts are not so uncommon, and odd events just tend to follow some people around in their life.

Holy Cow by Sarah MacDonald was a gateway into inspiring me to get up and travel the world without anyone's permission but my own. 

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff reminded me to slow down and love on the little things in life, and not question every piece that comes flying towards me.
What books have taught you about the world? Got you to do something? Inspired action?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Stories from Childhood

Reminiscing on favorite tales from childhood usually brings up warm fuzzies. Feelings of joy, excitement, adventure, place, love, interest, and warmth (you probably have a few adjectives to add to that list). Lately I have been thinking about the books that helped define me from my youth. There is no doubt I would have become a reader without these titles, since my mother was a librarian and the house never appeared less than exploding with books. Yet these books helped push me forward in reading. They assisted in me jumping into the pool that is story-telling, the lands of adventure, the journeys of self exploration. They not only made me believe in characters and their abilities, but also in the beauty that was creating a great story for all ages to enjoy and cherish.

The first and foremost story for me was Harry Potter, sparked from a 3rd grade teacher reading us the first book aloud and from the first page I was completely and utterly addicted to the story. I remember waiting all through the day for the moment she would read us the next chapter, and then when it was over I could hardly wait to read the second and third and....all the way to book seven, all eight movies and many fan books, mini books, and sheet sets later I am still an avid Potter fan. I will happily admit to owning a full Gryffindor house uniform and a wand and added a tattoo to my leg to commemorate my love for the stories. Regardless of the material objects and ink, I think there is something so remarkable in the way those books allowed me to daydream. They brought me great ideas, stories of my own, games to play with friends, and that I should never be ashamed of my poor vision, shortness, nerdiness, bookwormishness or any other parts of me; because those parts of me could very well save the world from "You-Know-Who".

On a totally different note Little House on the Prarie was greatly influential over the years my mother read my sister's and I all of the books. In less of a magic powers kind of way, these stories told me about how lucky I was to live in the age I did, but also how remarkable and commited people were to survival and that terrible circumstances could be overcome without magic powers. This most importantly taught me a respect for the people of the past and their hardships, and is probably a reason why I am a history major.

Back to the fantasy realm, I loved How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head. This books had a habit of scaring me at first when I was little, because who wanted the cute dragon to lose his noggin? Anyway, I think this story taught me the value of kindness, not judging a book by its cover, and that the scariest looking things can be the most wonderful on the inside. I like the idea of embracing gentleness over agression as well, even if the world is agressive to you; one simply has to let their goodliness and light shine through. I have also always wanted a pet dragon and this was probably one of the first stories to convince me what a wonderful idea that would be. Along with the movie Pete's Dragon my love for the large and scaly has been a lifelong adoration, which explains an interest in paleontology and love of lizards, but ironically not birds.

What books defined you as a kid and today? What books do you like to reread today or share with the kiddos in your life?