If you’re a James Patterson fan, you’re probably glad he publishes something like 20 books a year. But you may have noticed there’s often another author’s name on the jacket as well, usually Maxine Paetro or Andrew Gross. These are co-writers, collaborators hired by Patterson to do the bulk of the actual writing after he gives them some general plot ideas.
Patterson’s not alone in using collaborators. Tom Clancy hasn’t written his own book in about a decade. More recently, thriller writer Wilbur Smith became the latest to employ them. In fact, Smith just signed a six-book deal with Harper Collins even though he actually may not be doing any of the writing. At 79 years of age, Mr. Smith just can't crank out the stories the way he used to, so other writers will be doing a lot of the storytelling.
It sure is a complex world when you don’t know if your favorite book by your favorite author was actually written by your favorite author!
Being a snob, I can’t say I’m a fan of this recent publishing trend. But how recent is it? As I did some research, I was shocked to discover that some of my favorite books (many of them more than a century old) were in fact composed by teams of unknown scribblers in the employment of superstar writers. One famous example is Alexandre Dumas, author of such classics as The Three Muskateers, The Man in the Iron Mask, and The Count of Monte Cristo.
These are all huge novels and probably total over a million words. I’ve always thought Dumas was so prolific because he had no life and lived in a time before the Internet, television, radio, or basketball could distract him. Imagine my surprise to learn that Dumas wrote very little of “his” most famous works, outsourcing much of their creation to entire teams of assistants!
Imagine that: Alexandre Dumas was the James Patterson of his day! Heck, maybe we'll discover that William Shakespeare really didn't write all those plays. Maybe Will hired some fifteen year olds to compose Romeo and Juliet.
And now it is time to fess up. I didn’t even write this blog post. I just came up with the idea and a student at Moore Middle School did the composition. Thanks for the help, kid! I was really in a rush this week and just couldn’t be bothered.
The Double Bind in Bohjalian’s novel refers to a theory about how schizophrenia may develop as a child enters adolescence. You won’t learn about that theory until at least half way through the novel. Laurel Estabrook was attacked seven years ago on a rural Vermont road. Now, Laurel works at a homeless shelter in Burlington, Vermont, where she has befriended a few of its residents. After an elderly schizophrenic homeless man that she admired dies, Laurel finds herself drawn into a mystery involving photographs found in his possession. The photos seem to link him with a wealthy Long Island family and Jay Gatsby, as in The Great Gatsby. What Laurel uncovers becomes more fantastical as the story goes on. The real twist comes near the end.
A Documentary Series We Love: Long Way Round and Long Way Down
A movie star and his buddy hop on motorcycles for a trip around the world. Probably not my cup of tea, but after a friend highly recommended this DVD series, I picked up Long Way Round. I spent every spare moment of the next couple of days watching; even forgoing sleep.
And then I went and got Long Way Down.What was it about these two documentaries that had me so enthralled?It was the combination of armchair travel, the good old buddy scenario, and the suspense of how will they get past the next hurtle. Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman are genuinely nice guys you want to get to know.So get some popcorn and settle in one of these long winter nights and enjoy this adventure.
Robert Crais - Suspect - An LAPD officer and a retired military dog, both with PTSD, partner up.
Harlan Coben - Six Years - Jake can’t get over the love of his life, Natalie, and after six years discovers that all he thought he knew was a lie, and his life is in danger.
And saving the best news for last: Vince Flynn and Brian Haig are collaborating on a new series about anti-terrorism in NYC. This as yet untitled #1 in the series is due out in May, and listed in our catalog as Untitled, and under both authors if you want to place a hold.
Laini Taylor writes a unique blend of urban fantasy and romance that showcases her incredible imagination. While her books are marketed for teens (she also has a tween series, Dreamdark), her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy is a fabulous fantasy fiction read that adults will enjoy. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the first in the series and Taylor introduces the reader to a strong and unique heroine, Karou. Raised in Prague by a “family” of chimaera, beast-like in appearance, but with intriguing magical and human qualities, Karou’s life is complicated. Dividing her time between art school, her friend Zuzana, other teenage concerns and the exotic and mysterious errands she runs for Brimstone leaves her with more questions than her family are willing to answer. This all changes when the portals that connect Karou and Prague with the chimaera mysteriously and violently close; singed, black handprints marking where the doorways were. This is where the fantasy picks up the pace and Karou begins to discover the truth about her past, including her connection to a fiery, winged being named Akiva.
The second book in the series, Days of Blood and Starlight was just published in November 2012 and picks up right where Daughter of Smoke and Bone left off. While darker in tone than the first, this sequel has intensity and momentum that also leave the reader with universal themes to consider long after the cover is closed. Saying more might spoil the story, so we’ll leave it at that.
In Trail of the Spanish Bit, by Don Coldsmith, conquistador Juan Garcia rides alone into an unexplored continent after becoming separated from his fellow explorers when his horse shies from a rattlesnake.
Recovering from the fall and his injuries, he discovers an ancient stone-aged tribe who ultimately befriend him, changing their lives forever. Garcia realizes they are people and not savages, with values his own civilization should emulate. The tribesmen meanwhile discover the value of horses–called elk-dogs in their vernacular. They are impressed by Garcia's abilities with horses and weapons, as well as his skill in in bringing down buffalo. Coldsmith combines the traditions of many Plains Indians in telling his saga. Additional books in the Spanish Bit series follow the descendants of Juan Garcia and his Native-American wife. Well-drawn characters & well-researched history make this old classic an informative page-turner.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is a powerful, compelling novel about two teens with cancer who fall in love. Okay, this description might make ninety percent of all readers run the other direction, but read it anyway! Yes, you will cry. Yes, it deals with a topic that is scary to all of us. Check out this book to meet the clear-eyed narrator, sixteen year old Hazel Grace. She’s already lived longer than anyone thought she would. Augustus Waters is the new kid in her cancer support group. Their shared experience and dark sense of humor draw them together. Hazel and Gus struggle with the common problems of youth--independence, self-esteem, relationships--but also with the larger issues of living and dying. Hazel worries about how her family will continue after she dies. Gus wants to be important. A well-crafted story with engaging characters, told with intelligence, honesty and wit. The Fault in Our Stars makes you think and it makes you feel, and in the end it will stay with you long after you’ve read it.
I am currently reading the second book in the Trylle Trilogy by Amanda Hocking. In some libraries this series is listed as teen fiction, but at Jefferson County Public Library this trilogy is in adult fiction. All three books are suitable for both teen and adult readers.
In the first book, Switched, Wendy Everly finds out she is not who she thought she was for most of her life! She finds herself in a strange and beautiful world, but she is not sure she wants to remain in that world and claim her legacy.
In the beginning of the second book, Torn, Wendy struggles with reconnecting with her mortal brother when evil forces catch up with her. Wendy is torn between two worlds. Which life will she decide to lead?
This trilogy concludes in the book titled Ascend, which I will be reading soon. These books are fast-paced and fun fantasy reads.
Have you read anything by Amanda Hocking? If so, what did you think? What are some of your favorite fantasy authors?
Thomas Jefferson said “never put off for tomorrow, what you can do today.” Mark Twain, on the other hand, proposed “never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” Both philosophies have merit, but only Jefferson’s is admired.
Procrastination is, for many of us, a major source of stress. A good New Year’s Resolution (should you get around to making one) is to find ways to deal with procrastination. Here are a few resources to help you take on the problem.
A lot is promised in the title of this book. It is straightforward and optimistic, with many examples. The first part looks at the why’s and how’s of procrastination. There are exercises that the reader can use to determine what is behind their own procrastination habits. With this groundwork established, the book looks at ways to deal with putting things off. There are many suggestions, including the “unschedule”, where work is scheduled around set times for exercise and rest. A final chapter discusses how to deal with others who procrastinate.
Similar to The Now Habit, this book also gets into the psychology of procrastination, and it also offers tips on how to change. There is more emphasis on the reasons we put things off, with a chapter on delving into your past in order to determine how procrastination has become a coping mechanism.
A book about getting things done by putting them off, this little text offers a very amusing contrast to the previous two titles. The author acknowledges that he is a procrastinator, but has found ways to turn that into a positive. For instance, he has found procrastination to be an effective tool in getting other nasty things done instead. If the task you should be working on is too much for you to deal with, turn instead to the second and third items you are putting off. They will seem much more appealing by comparison, and this will allow you to finally get around to them. The author brings humor and intelligence to the process of what he calls “structured procrastination.” There are useful tips here in this lighthearted book.
With the new film about Lincoln hitting the theaters, Joshua Shenk's book, Lincoln’s Melancholy: how depression challenged a president and fueled his greatness gives thoughtful background on how Lincoln’s struggle with sadness made him a great president. Using thorough research from the past and tying that in with today’s medical knowledge about depression, Shenk convincingly argues that a major part of Lincoln’s greatness was thanks to the methods he used to cope with his illness. Famously, Lincoln used humor, loving funny stories, along with time for reflecting that served him well in navigating through America’s biggest crisis – the Civil War. Shenk uses Lincoln’s own words as well as his contemporaries’ accounts in this book, making it simply fascinating.
Tony Horwitz’s 2008 book, A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World, is a readable tale of exploration and culture clash in the Americas. Horwitz follows the trail--starting in 985 AD with the Vikings versus First Nation tribes, and ending in the 17th century with “Squanto” and the Pilgrims. From Vinland to the Dominican Republic, to the American Southwest, Horwitz follows the trail of Native Americans, colonists and explorers as they meet, retreat, clash and (sometimes) meld.
Horwitz’s road trip into history is not without pitfalls: he is bitten by mosquitos, half-cooked in a sweat lodge, staggers under the weight of conquistador armor and learns to paddle his own canoe. Horwitz perseveres–then shares his insights and hard-won knowledge with readers in an interesting and engaging manner. This well-researched and insightful book is by turns a light-hearted look at American history and a sobering tale of ancient misunderstanding and wrong.
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