Friday, November 30, 2007

Book-signing Saturday 2-4pm

A book signing by Louise Titchener, author of several mysteries set in the Baltimore of 1880s. "Malpractice" is the latest book about Oliver Redcastle, an ex-Pinkerton detective and a former Union Army sharpshooter.

We have both Malpractice and the prequel - Gunshy - in stock.

The Universal History of Numbers!

We just got the coolest book in: The Universal History of Numbers by Georges Ifrah.
It covers the beginning of numbers from Cro-Magnon Man up to modern western scientific notation. It includes Sumerian, Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Hittite systems, plus the Mayans and the Indians.

Not bad for a paperback costing $22.95!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Collegiate Quidditch in USA Today - no, really!

USA Today did a story on the Middlebury-Vassar match:

No, seriously!
The Middlebury Mollywobbles won,

Double Negative by David Carkeet

This is a mystery novel with a very different twist. We visit the Wabash Institute, dedicated to the study of linguistics - especially language development in babies and toddlers. A very odd murder is discovered - he was the oldest of the academics but did not pass away in his sleep. Furthermore, he was sitting in someone else's office. Introduce a police detective who is a cross between Colombo and Bertie Wooster; build in a gradual increase in suspicion; throw in all the rivalries found in any academic setting --- and you have a thriller leavened with the nuttiness of the individual characters. The ending is quite unique...I don't believe I have ever ever read one like this.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Boy Toy - compelling

This book follows a high school senior as he deals with the aftermath of being sexually abused by his teacher back in seventh grade. All his confusion and rage come to a head when his abuser is paroled. This is a powerful and compelling story - and one goes beyond the headlines.

Ages 16 and up.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hey, the Owings Mills Times did a story on us!

Thank you Sharon Rydell!

Another sweatshirt/tshirt

Anne found this sweatshirt/tshirt in one of her catalogs -

especially bookstores.

Lauretta for Anne

Lead in Toys? Buy the kid books instead

Every time I hear someone ELSE complain about newly found lead in toys, I think "Why not buy the kid a book instead?" So the munchkin adores Dora the Explorer - and those particular toys are on the recall list - there's lots of Dora the Explorer books available.

Here's to checking out your local bookstore - and keeping your kids lead-free!

New books just in - Christmas, Poetry and Gorey

Today's delivery brought us some great books for presents!

Several Edward Gorey books - Amphigorey Again plus two books illustrated by Gorey: Eliot's "Old Possums Books of Practical Cats" and John Bellairs' creepy kids' classic, "The House withe the Clock in its Walls."

Poetry - Classics by Kipling, Blake ("Tiger, tiger..."?) and Eliot.

Christmas stories:
Christmasville - Near the crossroads of magic and miracle, Christmasville offers a vision steeped in what, arguably, is the most celebrated of western traditions. But something is askew. Through a series of perilous journeys, across a landscape shaped by "a different set of rules," Christmasville reveals the experiences and discoveries of Mary Jane Higgins as she unravels the dynamics of her unusual universe--one that operates according to three, notably different, phenomena--time, space, and memory.

Christmas Jars - Where had it come from? Whose money was it? Was I to spend it? Save it? Pass it on to someone more needy? Above all else, why was I chosen? Certainly there were others, countless others more needy than I...Her reporter's intuition insisted that a remarkable story was on the verge of the front page.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Soups On!

Here's another illustrated paperback cookbook from Chronicle Books. This one is Soups On!: 75 Soul-Satisfying Recipes from Your Favorite Chefs, by Leslie Jonath (author) and Frankie Frankeny (photographer), some of whom have their own titles with Chronicle.

I tried two of the recipes. The first was Gingery Cauliflower Soup, by Madhur Jaffrey from her book Quick & Easy Indian Cooking. The soup is made with cauliflower florets, potato, and chicken broth, and flavored with onion, garlic, fresh ginger, and Asian spices, including turmeric, coriander, and a little cayenne pepper. It is then pureed and strained, to remove the woody bits of ginger, and finished with cream. The result was very flavorful, with a satisfying mouth feel, and a little kick. This could easily be made as a vegetarian soup by substituting vegetable broth, or even water, for the chicken broth. I used less than half of an average cauliflower making this recipe.

The second was Maytag Cheddar Soup, from Maytag Farms, the blue cheese folks. Made with milk, aged cheddar, potato, aromatic vegetables, chicken broth, and both Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces, this is not going to remind you of liquefied cheese. Instead you get rich, rich flavor and luxurious mouth feel. I didn't puree this soup, but might next time. But I think I'd miss the chicken broth if I tried making a vegetarian version.

Overall, recommended. Part of the proceeds from this book go to Nextcourse, an organization that sponsors programs that encourage people to eat locally produced foods.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Black Book of Secrets by E.F. Higgins

Wow. This starts out with a frantic chase as young Ludlow Fitch escapes The City and those who pull his teeth to sell for dentures. Oh yeah - no anesthesia. At the end of his exhausted but successful chase, he apprentices himself to a pawnbroker in a remote village. Joe pawns more than just objects - he pawns secrets too, and everyone has a secret to tell.

This is a dark novel, full of grave-robbers and pick-pockets, but it is also a novel of trust and the redeeming qualities of confession. It's great for those who dig Edgar Allen Poe.

Note - though this is listed as a middle-school aged books, I would recommend this for older kids (12+) and adults because of the sheer creepiness of the confessions.

Monty Python Lyrics, Lessing, Goodkind & Sushi

Today's UPS delivery brought us:

Terry Goodkind's latest - The Confessor
The Zen of Fish - the story of sushi from samurai to supermarket (a good present for the sushi fan)
Doris Lessing's The Grandmothers - 4 short novels from the latest Nobel Prize winner
A book of lyrics to all the Monty Python songs. Warning! not for the easily-shocked!


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Perfect tshirt or sweatshirt for a writer

In the stack of catalogs received in the mail at home, I found the PERFECT
shirt for a fiction writer:

Careful, or I'll put you in my next novel.

How cool is that? :)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

It was the setting of this book which intrigued me - Bouganville? Who would know about an island off Papua New Guinea with the world's largest copper mine closed down by a vicious struggle for independence? The fact it was also a Man Booker finalist just added to it's mystery. There is an odd white man in Matilda's village. And when the teacher leaves on the last boat the villagers ask Mr. Watts or Pop Eye to staff their school. He is a wonderful man, very formal and correct who introduces these kids living in a tropical paradise to Dicken's London with Great Expectations. What can they have in common? Changed circumstances for one thing. The village is under constant treat of the insurgency and isolated from the rest of the world. Pip's change in circumstances can only give the children heart as Mr. Watts reads to them. The adults in the village are invited to teach the class lessons from their lives. The sense of whimsy is overwhelming here. We hear stories about broken dreams, how a frigate bird delivered a birthday card from a neighboring island, preserving one's virginity, the weaving of sleeping mats. And so the story unfolds with humor, tragedy and a final unmasking of their teacher's life. What a lovely read.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Happy Birthday U.S. Marine Corps!

What to read in honor of the U.S. Marine Corps' birthday?
What to read?

The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805(Paperback) by Zacks, Richard

An exciting account of 'the shores of tripoli.'
Hmn, now I've got that Marine Corps Hymn in my head, probably for the rest of the day.


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Ooh, great quirky mysteries from Soho Press!

We just got about 20 mysteries from Soho Crime Press. These publishers are known for overseas settings and really quirky/unusual investigators. For example - the Laotian 72 year old who has been named National Coroner and doesn't have any formal training as one! Neat stuff - and they are all paperbacks, all $10 to $14.

Talk about an inexpensive vacation -

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Just off the UPS Truck!

We just got a big delivery -

More calendars - everything from The Lazy Environmentalist to cats, pugs, and peeps.

Poetry as Insurgent Art by Lawrence Ferlenghetti
Some of you remember Ferlenghetti for his work with beat poets like Ginsberg ("Howl," anyone?) but he is a poet in his own right - and he has continued to add to this classic book. It is hard to imagine a more challenging, provoking, reactionary set of poems.

The Penalty by Mal Peet - in this middle-school age book, a teenage soccer prodigy disappears in San Juan, right after missing a penalty kick and losing a big game. A mystery combining suspense and soccer.

Disguised: a Wartime Memoir by Rita la Fontaine de Clercq Zubli
Rita recounts being hidden as a 12 year old boy when the Japanese invade her Indonesian island in 1942. It was that or be forced into a life as a "comfort woman." This remarkable memoir covers the entire 3 years she spent in the prison camps.

For upcoming holidays -
Several little gift kit/boxes - Little Book of Hanukkah; Snowman in a Box; Teeny-weeny Martini; the Golden Snitch.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Holiday shopping done early!

This is posted for a customer who came by Sunday:

I wanted to share that I did all of my holiday shopping in one stop, at
Constellation Books. Lauretta helped me find something for everyone.

That's service you just can't get in a chain store. What a pleasure!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Way Things Always Happen Here (on the 10th)

This event is CANCELLED - our author cannot make it.
We will try to re-schedule in January or February.

Join us for a book-signing with Kevin C. Stewart on Saturday, the 10th from 2 to 4 PM!

In his debut short-fiction collection, THE WAY THINGS ALWAYS HAPPEN HERE, Kevin C. Stewart takes his readers to the scene of a heinous murder, to the home of an alcoholic single mother, to the 1960s election campaign of JFK through West Virginia, and off the side of the New River Gorge Bridge. With eight stories set in fictional Oak County in southern West Virginia, and one novella, “Margot,” set in the Arkansas Ozarks, Stewart gives us characters who all love and hate where they’re from. Kevin C. Stewart lives in Cumberland, Maryland and teaches at the Potomac State College of West Virginia University.

Just in: Quick & Easy Thai cookbook

We just got in a Thai cookbook from Chronicle Books: Quick & Easy Thai, 70 Everyday Recipes, by Nancie McDermott. This is an attractive, moderately priced paperback. I couldn't resist a look, checking recipes against the ingredients in my pantry. I ended up making "Catfish fillets fried with turmeric, southern style." The fillets are marinated in a paste that includes garlic, shallots, fish sauce and turmeric, then dredged in flour and fried in a few tablespoonfuls of oil. The result looked terrific, browned turmeric gold. The taste was solidly asian, with a little heat from a generous amount of black pepper. I'll be making this again, maybe with tilapia next time.

My local supermarket doesn't have all of the ingredients required for some of the recipes I really want to make next, like the rice for sticky rice with mangoes, or the rice noodles for paht thai. The paht thai recipe is simplified for everyday use, and looks like it will be great.

The recipes are easy and seem sure-fire, well within the capability of the beginner. The familiar Thai flavors - chilies, cilantro, lime, coconut, and lemongrass - are all well represented, as are the most familiar dishes. And the illustrations are lovely. Highly recommended.


Friday, November 2, 2007

What is going on in the back of the shop?

I have been getting some questions about the construction at the back of the shop, along Bond Street. It's our landlords' dreams: a two-story addition for offices, an elevator and a parking lot (yay!). The bookstore will have an entrance to the parking lot. I'll post as soon as the parking lot is ready for customers - sometime in November is the latest.


The Race of Her Life - book-signing on 11/3

Tomorrow, 2-4pm!

Get in the mood for the elections! A book signing by Len Cohen, author of "The Race of Her Life: A Political Suspense Thriller."

The Race of Her Life, the sequel to Len Cohen's exciting first novel "Madam Chairman", once again places political leader, Micki Feldsher, into a life-threatening situation. Unaware of the personal risk, she competes for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and becomes a target of terrorists. The American branch of al-Qaeda, scheming to build their influence in the Congress, has co-opted her opponent, and is prepared to kill (remove) Micki to ensure his election.

The 2008 Calendars Have Arrived!

Fresh off the UPS truck - our 2008 calendars have just arrived: the Car Talk (tm) guys; Cats in the Sun, Breaking Bounds (a great dance photography calendar); Anne Taintor's delightfully irreverent photos; and the Out-of-Office-Countdown.