Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Day - Bagels & Books!

Join us for New Year’s Day 11am - 5pm – Bagels & Books. Coffee, Seltzer, Tea too.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fresh Off the Truck - It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies

What a holiday present - we just got It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies, a Christmas carol book for the era. Seriously, this is hilarious.

Eat a toe, eat a toe, eat a toe (to the tune of Let it Snow)...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Solstice!

For those customers/fans in the Northern Hemisphere, the days will start getting longer.
For those in the Southern, the days will start getting shorter.

As the woooorrrrlllldd tuuuurrrnnns,
(sorry couldn't resist - running away now)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Zombies are the new Vampires, the music video

I keep saying, Zombies are the new Vampires - and John Scalzi has provided me with extra proof!

Thank you John - I think -

Snow on Saturday - we may have some of the Authors Sunday

If we get as much snow as they say Saturday (8-12 inches?), we are going to try the kids' author event Sunday, 3-5pm.

Stay warm and safe y'all

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lots of children's authors this Saturday!

We are hosting 4 children's authors at
Tea with the Author
this Saturday, 3-5pm.

Join children’s authors Susan Detwiler, Edith Hemingway, Mona Kerby, and Lois Szymanski. The books range from Kindergarten-age up to Tweens. Buy a signed book for the holidays! Cookies and Tea/Coffee/Cocoa will be available.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The end of an era

Lambda Rising, a giant amongst indie bookstores serving the GLBT community, has announced they are closing both of their remaining stores. Deacon Maccubbin, Lambda Rising's founder and co-owner, reported that it was 'virtually impossible' to find GLBT-friendly literature back in 1974 when they first opened. “We thought if we could show that there was a demand for our literature, that bookstores could be profitable selling it, we could encourage the writing and publishing of glbt books, and sooner or later other bookstores would put those books on their own shelves and there would no be less need for a specifically gay and lesbian bookstore.”

“Today 35 years later, nearly every general bookstore carries glbt books, often featuring them in special sections,” Maccubbin noted.

Lambda Rising was also a model for how a bookstore could be a resource in education and the fight against discrimination. I applaud your accomplishments and your example - this was how an Indie Bookstore SHOULD do it.

Rock on,


Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Hannukah!

On this the first day of Hannukah, we wish our Jewish friends a wonderful festival -
may your lights never go out.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tea with the Author this Saturday - Baltimore County's Gayle Neville Blum

Sat. Dec. 12, 3-5pm Tea with the Author –
Join Gayle Blum, author of the history “Images of America: Baltimore County.” Cookies and Tea/Coffee will be available.

Live music 3-6 today!

Music today! Steve Haug is playing 3-6pm - lots of good folk/alternative/irish/acoustic music. Coffee/Tea/Cocoa/Cider and cookies too!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Snow! Just in time for tomight's tre-lighting ceremony!

The church across the street is lighting the Reisterstown Christmas Tree tonight at 6:30, complete with outdoor carols and wreath sales. The Main Street shopkeepers are staying open until 8:30 to join the festivities - cocoa, cookies and sales abound.

PLUS it's SNOWING!! Yay, I feel like Snoopy doing his happy dance.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Wine Tasting 6-9pm tonight!

We have books, CDs, DVDs, wine, munchies, and coffee or tea (for those who don't drink wine).

Sunday, November 29, 2009

RIP Robert Holdstock :)

SF Signal is reporting that Robert Holdstock, author of the Mythago Wood trilogy, passed on this morning. Our sympathies to his family and his fans. :(


Friday, November 27, 2009

Market Days + Live Music Saturday Night!

Main Street Reisterstown will be holding sales and munchies all weekend.
Unchain yourself and buy local!
Reisterstown local musician Nathan Rabe will be playing in the bookstore Saturday 6-9pm.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Writers v. Harlequin - or What Makes a Real Publisher?

John Scalzi is hosting an interesting discussion on Harlequin's decision to start what is basically a vanity publishing arm, and the reactions from the Romance Writers of America, the Mystery Writers of America and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. The writers are Not Happy with blend of Big Publisher brand with the reality of having to pay to get your book published.

Speaking as a bookseller (so you're sure of my perspective and agenda), I see the following: authors are much better off with real publishers, not print-on-demand publishers, not vanity publishers. What an author gets with a real publisher is a distribution network --- it's getting the book/isbn on iPage and TitleSource and in Bowker, etc, so when your family and friends call their local library and bookstore, those folks can LOOK UP the book to order.

Both I and my bookstore have been burned by certain vanity publishers (requiring certain minimum numbers and not allowing returns, even for book signings). These are the companies I won't deal with any more. If a local author approaches me for a signing and they're with that company, I tell them that they (the author) must provide the books. I will sign a check to them, not their publisher...I am at least sure the author gets paid that way. Some of you may find this offensive but I'm trying to stay in business alongside the likes of the big chains --- so I can host more local authors.

If you are an author who has self-published, you have a VERY hard road to, distribution, travel, advertising is ALL YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.

So to get to Harlequin's decision: they're huge, and unlike other genres, romance is making money hand over fist. They shouldn't NEED to open a vanity arm. I wonder if this is a 'loss leader' for them? I don't think we'll know for awhile. It is absolutely bad for the writer community and possibly the publishing community as a whole. I applaud RWA, SFWA and MWA for taking a stand.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Baltimore Free Writers TODAY in the bookstore at 6pm

Our local writing group meets in the bookstore at 6pm today.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Free Music from Steve Haug, aka Maugorn, aka Maugie, aka that folk singer at the bookstore

Steve now has a website at

in which you can play free music, or buy CDs, or check when next he plays with us. Yep, that guy - the one with the huge playlist!!! Some of his CD tracks were even recorded here in the shop.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

For Veteran's Day - America's White Table

The White Table is set in many mess halls as a symbol for and remembrance to service members fallen, missing, or held captive in the line of duty. Solitary and solemn, it is the table where no one will ever sit.

In America's White Table, Marget Theis Raven and Mike Benny bring to life the story of a young family that put together their own White Table for their Uncle John.

Tea with the Author Saturday 3-5pm

Join Sarah Davis, author of the children’s books “Always Tell a Grown-Up” and “Don’t Be Afraid to Shout No!” and the biography “I Can’t Stop Now!” Sarah is a tireless advocate for the prevention of child abuse. Cookies and Tea/Coffee will be available.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Girl Scout Cookies + National Bookstore Day!!!

10% off everything inside the shop - the girl scouts are outside on the porch selling cookies.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Readers as Collateral Damage in the Bestseller Price Wars?

ComicsPRO to join the ABA in letters to the DOJ regarding the Bestseller Price War

Many of you are already aware that the American Booksellers Association (ABA) submitted a letter to the US Department of Justice, requesting that they investigate the possibly illegal predatory pricing practises going on between Wal-Mart, Amazon and Target as they heavily discount certain hardback bestsellers. On November 2nd, ComicsPRO also sent a letter to the DOJ indicating similar concerns. ComicsPRO is a trade organisation that represents direct-market comic book retailers.

In addition to agreeing with the ABA that "the practices of,, and to offer bestselling hardcover books for sale at prices well below the wholesale cost renders independent booksellers unable to compete and devalues the books in the eyes of consumers." ComicsPRO believes that the practices will affect comic books "as substantially as it affects the traditional book trade, and extends to the sale of graphic novels."

The ABA letter has been discussed a great deal in the media - for those of you interested in the details, a copy can be found here.

My personal opinion as a bookseller is that this price war is not sustainable and will eventually shrink the pool of available publishers and authors. Publishers pay attention to what sells - and if all that is selling are the 5-10 different $8.99-priced titles, they won't accept or print the new authors. They can't afford to. So we get a reduction in titles, a reduction in authors, and
eventually a reduction in publishers.

I ALREADY have issues obtaining copies of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom series for his loyal Baltimore-area fans. Princess of Mars seems to be the only title that gets re-printed...the rest are either older 'new' books or only available as 'used' books. I cannot imagine how much worse this could get if the book of new titles shrinks. I can see readers trying to find their favorite authors - and not finding them at anything resembling less than a mortgage payment.

I hope this situation gets sorted out before too much damage is done.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wine Tasting this Friday 6-9pm

Join us for Wine and munchies. Live music will be provided by the old-time/bluegrass/folk duo Strings on Wings. Coffee and Tea will also be available.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

National Bookstore Day!

Saturday Nov 7 is National Bookstore Day!
Celebrate by visiting a local independent bookstore near you -

Or come visit US if you're near NW Baltimore. :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Market Days + Music + Scary Readings + Pumpkin Decorating

Main Street Reisterstown will be holding sales and munchies all weekend. We will be hosting a pumpkin decorating contest – drop them off at noon, judging at 5pm – and live folk music from Steve Haug 3-6pm. Reisterstown's own TJ Perkins is reading from her middle-school mystery "Mystery of the Attic" at 6pm.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Good Day for Science Fiction and Fantasy fans

I have here the long-awaited The Gathering Storm, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Saunderson, AND 7th Son: Descent by JC Hutchins.

Are you drooling? Then come on down and buy them!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Underground Railroad

Well, how about this? Saturday, we had a visit from a couple who knew quite a bit about the our building. Miss Mary Ellen's godmother used to own 303 Main Street - Edna Mae Uhler. She said that this building - back in the day - was INDEED on the Underground Railroad. Cool, huh? I tried to find out if there was written confirmation anywhere, but she didn't think there was. Pity, that.

This is really amazing, considering we just received 5 copies of The Underground Rail Road by William Still, first published in 1872 and recently reprinted.

I can just imagine folks hiding in the root cellar underneath the side that housed the post office (where Kids, Parenting and Science Fiction now live); then boxing themselves up to be put on the mail coach for Pennsylvania. God bless them.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tea with Rosemary Freitas Williams - today 3-5pm

Join Annapolis writer Rosemary Freitas, author of Maritime Annapolis, A History of Watermen, Sail & Midshipmen. Tea, coffee and cookies will be available.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Vote for Anne Tyler!

The Sun is holding a Baltimore Celebrity Smackdown and Anne Tyler is up against Jayne Miller! Now, I have nothing against Jayne Miller but to have an amazing Baltimore author in this line-up is awesome. Please vote for her here.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009

World Zombie Day?!

From Twitter @jsmithready Today is World Zombie Day (appropriate, given my sleep deprivation). Raise a glass (of brains) to our undead friends!

The Ignoble Prizes are out

The folks at the Annals of Improbable Research have awarded this year's Ignoble Awards. For Literature: Ireland's police service (An Garda Siochana), for writing and presenting more than fifty traffic tickets to the most frequent driving offender in the country — Prawo Jazdy — whose name in Polish means "Driving License".

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: [Karolina Lewestam, a Polish citizen and holder of a Polish driver's license, speaking on behalf of all her fellow Polish licensed drivers, expressed her good wishes to the Irish police service.]

More information on the rest of the awards ceremony can be found here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tea with the Author Saturday, 3-5pm

Join A.M. Boyle, author of the thriller Turn of the Sentry for tea, coffee and cookies. Jack Gardner must overcome amnesia and unlock the key to save mankind.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

All Poe - All October

Yes, Poe is everywhere this Bicentennial.
The Baltimore Sun has collected a great resource for all things Poe here.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Wine Tasting Tonight 6-9pm!

Join us for wine, munchies, and tea tonight at the bookstore!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tea with Mare Cromwell tomorrow 3-5pm

Saturday, September 26, 2009, 3-5pm, Tea with the Author Join Baltimore writer Mare Cromwell, author of If I Gave You God's Number… Searching for Spirituality in America. Tea, coffee and cookies will be available. This book is a good choice for those readers who liked The Shack.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Constellation Books is delighted to be part of NPR.ORG's new Discover Songs program. We will be stocking 6 different/new titles every 6 weeks; many of them folk, world or acoustic in style. This first batch includes ---

Sunday, September 20, 2009

RIP Mary Travers - sniff

Steve, our musician for Talk Like a Pirate Day yesterday, told me Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary, died. She will be missed terribly - Steve has a lovely eulogy for her on Facebook. You
might have to login to Facebook to read it.

Sigh, Puff has sadly slipped into his cave again...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lots of Music this weekend!

Saturday is Talk Like a Pirate day and we have Steve Haug playing the bookstore 6-9pm. Parrots, err, munchies will be available.

Sunday, we have Reisterstown local Nathan Rabe playing 3-6pm.

Both these guys are singer/songwriter types, though Steve does a lot of Irish/Traditional music too.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Get Well Garrison Keillor!

I just heard Garrison Keillor is heading home from the hospital today after a mild stroke. Get well soon!! We thoroughly enjoy your books, your poetry anthologies, and both "The Writers Almanac" and "Prairie Home Companion" here in the bookstore.

Sending good thoughts and wishes and prayers your way...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

1st Chapter of Next Robert Jordan book online at Tor

Remember Brandon Saunderson was working on the Wheel of Time series now that Robert Jordan passed on (RIP, sniff)? Well, it's called The Gathering Storm and the first Chapter is online
here at Pub date is 10/27/09.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tea with the Author this Saturday, 3-5pm

Join Baltimore author Harmonie Rhules for tea and cookies and a discussion of her book, "Seven Days in the Life of Divine, A Journey of Hope."

Friday, September 4, 2009

Book-Domino Challenge!!

HarperCollins Children's Books has issued a challenge - they want someone to beat their record of Domino Rally using children's books. See the awesome hilarity here (


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wine Tasting this Friday + Tea with the Author this Saturday

This Friday, Sep. 4, 6-9pm Wine Tasting - Join us for Wine and munchies. Coffee/tea will also be available. Live Music by local Nathan Rabe.

Then Saturday, Sep. 5, 3-5pm Tea with the Author - Join Maryland’s Leslie Parrish, author of the DARK romantic thrillers Fade to Black, Pitch Black, and Black at Heart for tea, coffee and cookies.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Music tomorrow! 6-9pm

Steve Haug is back, singing and playing acoustic folk, Irish and pop music. Coffee and Tea will be on, as will the cookies!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thursday, 27 August, 7pm - Book Club reviews Making Money

7pm Constellation Books Book Club
Join us as we review Terry Pratchett's "Making Money," a comic lesson in the worth of paper money.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Yes, they DO still Ban Books even in the 21st Century

You may think that - in this enlightened century - no one bans books any more. Sorry, not so! The good folks at the American Library Association and the Kids' Right to Read Project have a cool Google map that reveals book challenges that came SINCE 2007. Take a look - it is both educational and sobering.

Read Banned Books!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Today - Tea with the Author - 3-5pm

Tea with the Author, Saturday 15 August 2009, 3-5pm

Join Baltimore’s Monchel Rice, author of “Charge it 2 Da Game," for tea, coffee and cookies. "Charge it 2 Da Game” is a urban story of jealousy, envy and greed.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Hugo Awards

I missed this last weekend (when Worldcon announced it).
The Hugo Winners are - and congratulations to them ALL:
  • Best Novel: The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury UK)
  • Best Novella: “The Erdmann Nexus”, Nancy Kress (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2008)
  • Best Novelette: “Shoggoths in Bloom”, Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s Mar 2008)
  • Best Short Story: “Exhalation”, Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two)
  • Best Related Book: Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008, John Scalzi (Subterranean Press)
  • Best Graphic Story: Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones, Written by Kaja & Phil Foglio, art by Phil Foglio, colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: WALL-E Andrew Stanton & Pete Docter, story; Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon, screenplay; Andrew Stanton, director (Pixar/Walt Disney)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Joss Whedon, & Zack Whedon, & Jed Whedon, & Maurissa Tancharoen, writers; Joss Whedon, director (Mutant Enemy)
  • Best Editor Short Form: Ellen Datlow
  • Best Editor Long Form: David G. Hartwell
  • Best Professional Artist: Donato Giancola
  • Best Semiprozine: Weird Tales, edited by Ann VanderMeer & Stephen H. Segal
  • Best Fan Writer: Cheryl Morgan
  • Best Fanzine: Electric Velocipede edited by John Klima
  • Best Fan Artist: Frank Wu

And the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (presented by Dell Magazines): David Anthony Durham

More details here.

Friday, August 7, 2009

New Art! - J.R. Blackwell's "Blood and Sand" opens tonight with the Wine Tasting

Tonight's big! Wine Tasting 6-9pm, with NEW photography from J.R. Blackwell.
Munchies, the swinging sounds of Sinatra by Ken McDermott, coffee for those who don't drink wine. It will be a FINE time.

Tonight 6-9pm!


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Kindle and Book-ownership or Here Abide Daemons?

Disclaimer: we are an indie bookstore, not affiliated with Amazon, and we sell e-books (not the Kindle-compatible ones either) on our website. Ergo, we have a are forewarned.

We all know someone with a Kindle (tm probably) - who is also relatively happy with it. Fine, good, they're reading...I am all in favor of reading.

However, I have been reading that Kindle's terms and conditions state "Digital Content will be deemed licensed to you by Amazon under this Agreement unless otherwise expressly provided by Amazon." So you're renting the book instead of buying it, right? (Feel free to correct me in the comments below - I may be wrong.)

Allowing for sociological changes due to the new medium, I have to say this protocol still sounds antithetical to the basic concept of book buying/book-ownership. I am not the only one who finds this odd and possibly harmful. The folks over at BoingBoing are starting up a Petition for a DRM (Digital Rights Management) Free Kindle.

What say you out there in reader-land? Am I being a stuffy old-fashioned bookseller or are there some real dangers there?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Tea with the Author - today 3-5pm

Join Marylander Gary Clites, author of "Seneca Wood" for tea, coffee, and cookies. “Seneca Wood” is a mystery set in Baltimore and West Virginia.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Longlist for the Man Booker Prize Announced

The longlist includes:

The Children's Book, A.S. Byatt (Chatto and Windus)
Summertime, J.M. Coetzee (Harvill Secker)
The Quickening Maze, Adam Foulds (Jonathan Cape)
How to Paint a Dead Man, Sarah Hall (Faber)
The Wilderness, Samantha Harvey (Jonathan Cape)
Me Cheeta, James Lever (Fourth Estate)
Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate)
The Glass Room, Simon Mawer (Little, Brown)
Not Untrue & Not Unkind, Ed O'Loughlin (Penguin - Ireland)
Heliopolis, James Scudamore (Harvill Secker)
Brooklyn, Colm Toibin (Viking)
Love and Summer, William Trevor (Viking)
The Little Stranger, Sarah Waters (Virago)

For more information, visit

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ooo, Cool Picture of the Day -

Phil Plait (Bad Astronomer and author-we-have-carried) pointed this out:
On this day, during the Apollo 11 40th Anniversary, NASA posted Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter images of the Apollo 11 landing site. So very cool!

OK, once a geek, always a geek,

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Big Author Event this Saturday - 3-5pm

Tea and Cookies will definitely be available, but the stars of the event are Ellen Jensen Abbott, S. Terrell French, Roseanne Parry, and Fran Cannon Slayton. They will all be visiting and signing their books. The books are targeted to kids ranging from grade 3 to grade 9.

Watersmeet, a YA Fantasy, a teenage girl confronts prejudice, war, and family secrets.

When Brother's dad is shipped off to Iraq in Heart of a Shepherd, Brother must help his grandparents keep the ranch going. He's determined to maintain it just as his father left it, in the hope that doing so will ensure his father's safe return. The hardships Brother faces will not only change the ranch, but also reveal his true calling.

When the Whistle Blows introduces us to Jimmy, who lives in Rowlesburg, West Virginia during the 1940s. He does all the things boys do in the small mountain town: plays a mean game of football, pulls the unforgettable Halloween prank with his friends in the Platoon, a and promises to head off into the woods on the first day of hunting season no matter what. He also knows his father belongs to a secret society, and is determined to uncover the mysteries behind it But it is a midnight encounter with a train that shows Jimmy the man his father really is.

Operation Redwood propels the reader into
clandestine e-mail exchanges, secret trips, fake press releases, and a tree-house standoff. These are among the clever stunts and pranks the kid heroes pull off in this exciting ecological adventure.

In Bull Rider,
Cam O'Mara is a dedicated skateboarder. But when his older brother serves in Iraq and comes back partially paralyzed, the bull-riding mantle falls to Cam. This is a timely debut novel about family loyalty and hope in the face of tremendous trials.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wine Tasting Friday AND Community Bake Sale/ Folk Music Sunday

Wine Tasting at the Bookstore, 6-9pm, Friday the 10th July - Join us for wine, munchies and live music provided by local musician Nathan Rabe. Tea and coffee will be available also.

Community Bake Sale + Folk Music! Sunday the 12th July -

Community Bake Sale to benefit the Crisis Center 12-4 PLUS Steve Haug playing Folk/Celtic Music 3-6.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Celebrate Independents Week July 1-7!!!!

Reisterstown's Main Street Shopkeepers - Independent Businesses all - will be holding special sales, not to mention Live Mic @ Java Mammas all week. Most of us will close on the 4th itself to be with our families - but the rest of the week will be a blast.

As we honor national heritage and liberty, we also celebrate our nation's local independent businesses who have given so many citizens opportunity and underpinned and underwritten community life and prosperity. It's also a time to consider the independent decision-making ability each of us possesses to choose the future of the place we make our home.

Love your Indies!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tea with the Author tomorrow!

Saturday, 27 June 2009, 3-5pm

J.M. E. Flowers, author of the mystery “Searching for Blue Mercury,” will join us for Tea, coffee and cookies. Her book, Searching for Blue Mercury, is a mystery.

Monty Parker, Chief Detective on a serial killing case, sat immobilized at his desk. Lately the demons from his past had increasingly begun to take a greater hold on his life. The hallucinations that had haunted him since childhood were beckoning him. Now as he fought them with every fiber of strength he could rally as he realized the horrible truth. He knew the people that this monster had killed and mutilated. In police work that might have been true for one or two, but six? As he delved deeper into the files, he knew. These people were not some obscure, isolated cases. Their connection to him could mean only one thing. The person who committed these horrendous crimes was close to him, maybe even himself. He had to find out, to sabotage the files until he could sort it all out. Then there was Helen, his wife, Zoe his daughter, and Bev his lover to consider. How would they be affected by the turn of events that would surely follow him to their final conclusion? Follow Parker as he weaves his way through a spine tingling story of intrigue, insanity and coming to grips with his own reality. This story promises to hold your attention until the very last sentence.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Summer Solstice for those in the Northern Hemisphere

The days start getting shorter now, sigh. (I love the late afternoon sunlight -it's a great time to read out on the deck.)

For my antipodean friends and family, Happy Winter Solstice!

Anyone out there have a favorite book about the solstice?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Jeri Smith-Ready tomorrow (Saturday) 3-5pm!

Tea with the Author features Jeri Smith-Ready tomorrow, Saturday the 20th, 3-5pm. Her latest is Bad to the Bone, 2nd in the WVMP series. You know, the Indie Rock station with the vampire DJs, the one that kinda sorta reminds you of that Indie Rock station near Westminster.

Yeah. That one. :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

JUNE 23, 2009 - Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Day!

Read or talk about your favorite SF or Fantasy writer - or both! Or go out and buy a book from those genres! Many people think they have not read Science Fiction or Fantasy, but when you mention the following books, they suddenly realise - yes, we DO read them:

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown (what, you think we can really contain that much anti-matter for real?)

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Any of the Harry Potter books by JK Rowling

The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Columbia native Michael Chabon (Alternate History is a mainstay of SFF)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

See? You can find something amongst the classics or amongst the recent bestsellers...

Edited to add - Sharon Lee started this wonderful campaign - here's her announcement.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Shameless Plug for Best Bookstore Votes

Baltimore Magazine is running WHOWONIT? Vote now for the Best of Baltimore’s Readers’ Poll...

Constellation Books wants to be Best Bookstore...please go vote for us!

Yes, we have no shame,

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Art Open House this weekend

Our buddies upstairs at the Glyndon School of Traditional Art are throwing an Open House this weekend. Noon-5pm. Come and see - they're really good!


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What Does Dad Read?

The good folks at the Read Street blog started an active discussion on whether men read novels earlier this week. Well, my Dad read a LOT. Novels, non-fiction (preferably about World War II), everything. My brother doesn't read so much but he likes anything to do with dogs.

With Father's Day on the horizon, I thought I would ask - what does/did your Dad like to read??

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

RIP David Eddings :(

David Eddings, a true gem amongst fantasy authors, has pass away at the age of 77. Best known for The Belgariad series, David has inspired lots of authors to follow him. He was known for writing longhand rather than using typewriters or computers.


Edited to add a link to the Guardian's obit.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Lambda Awards are up!

The Lambda Literary Awards seek to recognize excellence in the field of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender literature. Each year, over 80 judges -- writers, booksellers, librarians, journalists -- assess the entries in more than 20 categories.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The School Locker Banned Book Library

Kat Atreides has gone out on a limb to talk about the library of banned books she runs out of her school locker - methinks this kid will go far. Hopefully they'll let her finish school first.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Good Memorial Day Books for Kids

As we acknowledge the sacrifices our men and women have made to preserve our country and way of life, I propose some wonderful kids' books for Memorial Day:

Memorial, by Gary Crew and Shaun Tan
A boy listens to the story of a Memorial tree planted in 1918 - a tree the town council wants to cut down.
grades 3-4

Under the Blood-Red Sun, by Graham Salisbury
About Pearl Harbor and the Japanese-American Internment camps in Hawaii.
grades 4-6

Heart of a Shepherd, by Roseanne Parry
A boy's dad gets shipped out to Iraq and he must help his grandparents keep the ranch going.
grades 4-6

Heroes, by Robert Cormier
An 18 year-old returns from World War II with a Silver Star, a face lost to a grenade and a mission.
grades 7-9

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Winnahs! 2009 Jack L. Chalker Young Writers’ Contest

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society

is pleased to announce the winners of the 2009

Jack L. Chalker Young Writers’ Contest.

1st - "The Hoard Keeper" - Brenden Bogley- New Market- home school

2nd - "Dreamland for Insomniacs" - Margaret Renninger - Silver Spring- Montgomery Blair high School of Montgomery County

3rd - Snow Angel - Helen Zhao – Reisterstown- Carver Center of Arts and Technology of Baltimore County

Honorable Mention tie –

a. "Welcome to Earth, May I take your Order" - Peter Veres -
Odenton – home school

b. "On the Bright Side" - Ali Schwartz –Seaford – Worcester Prep

Awards will be presented by the Compton Crook Award winner at Balticon 43, Maryland ’s oldest Regional Science Fiction Convention at the Hunt Valley Inn on May 23, 2009.

The Chalker YWC is open to all Maryland High School students, ages 14-18. Stories are judged “blind” by members of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. The winners receive $150 (1st), $100 (2nd) and $50 (3rd) , a B.S.F.S. T shirt and membership in the convention. Stories may be read at

To enter the 2010 contest, rules are posted on

Teaching Science Fiction to kids - an inexpensive workshop

This Memorial Day, Balticon is hosting an afternoon workshop to prepare teachers to develop a class on science fiction for primary or secondary students. Questions can be directed to We also have details at the shop - contact us for more information.

Balticon is in Hunt Valley this parking charges! Oh - if you aren't already attending Balticon, the charge is only $11!!


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A note on conjunctions

I've been listening to NASA TV in the background (after checking out Mark Steiner's podcast - see below). The Space Shuttle crew is getting into their sleep cycle, having snagged the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and locked her down in the payload bay.

They keep muttering about conjunctions with space debris. I finally realised that - while we watch conjunctions of planets all the time from Earth - when you're UP THERE, something coming THAT CLOSE is a bit worrisome.

Ah, good news, conjunction came and went and it seems nothing got punctured.

Tomorrow should be interesting - they get to look 'under the hood' on HST and start the tune-up/replacement.

What a great bunch of people,

One of Reisterstown's Own on Mark Steiner

Mike Weddle, of Under Witz Mountain fame, was on Mark Steiner yesterday! Catch the podcast here.

We had him at a great book signing awhile back - go, Mike!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mr. Author USA - Hot/Cute/Nice-EyeCandy Authors

In honor of Mother's Day, we are choosing our favorite Hot Authors.

Manil Suri, author of Age of Shiva
David Baldacci - who does great things as well as being author of The Whole Truth
Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm
Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections

Who is your favorite?
Lauretta & Anne

PS And - though they aren't authors - any of the guys in Porn for Women and Porn for Women of a Certain Age

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Happy 2nd Birthday to Us! - Free Books + "Metal Music"

Constellation Books turns 2 this Monday - but we're closed Monday - so we are having a free-review-book-giveaway on Sunday (tomorrow), the 3rd and Wednesday, the 6th.

Come on in and ask where we stash our Advance Reader copies and take home a free book!
While supplies last, of course.


PS I thought I was a geek but this goes above and beyond: YouTube user bd594 has produced a cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody, " using a ScanJet, a TI99, an Atari 800, amongst other things. Talk about your metal music. We used to kid around in the Baltimore Symphony Chorus about Symphony for Copier and Vacuum Cleaner, but MAN.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Indies Choice Book Awards Hall of Fame

Voters at independent bookstores across the USA have produced the first 3 inductees to the Indies Choice Book Awards Picture Book Hall of Fame. These are the children's books, and these sorts of books are NOT easy to put together. It's even harder to keep the attention of kids and parents, generation after generation. These books are consistent favorites - they are
Congratulations, fellas - you're the best!

Happy 19th Birthday Hubble!

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched 19 years ago today.

I was here in Baltimore, watching in the Auditorium at the Space Telescope Science Institute. I had just spent 2 weeks hanging out in Florida waiting - I had a shuttle launch pass - but the launch delay was longer than my vacation time. Ah, well, it turned out OK as I was surrounded by all my colleagues who had ALSO waited years for it to launch. Lots of cheering ensued, followed by ordering lunch in so we could celebrate a little while working.

Did we know what anxieties (with the mirror) were to come? No. We knew whatever happened - it would be new and unexpected and had the potential to revolutionize our view of the universe. I happen to think the satellite has lived up to her potential. :)

Side note - this is the International Year of Astronomy, marking 400 years since Galileo's telescope opened our eyes to the planets and worlds beyond Earth. PBS is running a documentary called 400 Years of the Telescope, and there are lots of commemorative events going on all over the world.

Go out and check out your night sky tonight!

See if you can find a familiar star or planet!

Think about Galileo, toting his little telescope all over Europe - he's the original Street Corner Astronomer. (Yes, Herman Heyn is following in Galileo's footsteps.)

Think also about Hubble and her buddies both in orbit and watching from the high mountains - they bring us Great Stuff.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New Dan Brown book coming in September!

For those of you hooked on the Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown is releasing a new book in September.
Details here.


Book Burn tonight!

There's a local Book Burn tonight!
Not a book burning - a book burn to promote local independent authors.

Cool idea, huh?

Thanks to the Read Street Blog for the heads up.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Indies Choice Book Award Winners!

From Bookselling This Week:

"The American Booksellers Association today announces the winners of the inaugural Indies Choice Book Awards. Formerly the Book Sense Book of the Year Awards, the new Indies Choice Book Awards reflect the spirit of independent bookstores nationwide through new categories and a broader range of winners and honor books..."

And the winners are
  • Best Indie Buzz Book (Fiction): The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (The Dial Press)

  • Best Conversation Starter (Nonfiction): The Wordy Shipmates, by Sarah Vowell (Riverhead)

  • Best Author Discovery: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski (Ecco)

  • Best Indie Young Adult Buzz Book (Fiction): The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins)

  • Best New Picture Book: Bats at the Library, by Brian Lies (Houghton Mifflin)

  • Most Engaging Author: Sherman Alexie
NOTE - Sherman Alexie is responsible for the many scripts and books, including "Smoke Signals", "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian", and "Reservation Blues."
All GREAT stories.

More information can be found here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pride, Zombies and Beautiful Struggles

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

I am approaching Pride and Prejudice and Zombies on tiptoes. What has Seth done to Jane's delicately perceived book? Here's an example. Elizabeth and her sisters are at their first assembly with the love interests - Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy, when zombies break in.

"A few of the guests, who had the misfortune of being too near the windows,were seized and feasted on at once...As the guests fled in every direction, Mr Bennett's voice cut through the commotion "Girls! Pentagram of Death!" Elizabeth immediately joined her four sisters, Jane, Mary, Catherine, and Lydia in the center of the dance floor. Each girl produced a dagger from her ankle and stood at the tip of an imaginary five-pointed star. From the center of the room, they began stepping outward in unison-each thrusting a razor-sharp dagger with one hand, the other hand modestly tucked into the small of her back...Apart from the attack, the evening altogether passed off pleasantly for the whole family."

Well he's stomped all over it with blood and zombies hasn't he? It is quite a surreal journey. Well worth a read.

The Beautiful Struggle
by Ta-Nehisi Coates

This book is a coming of age in West Baltimore. Not one of the best neighborhoods but with a Black Panther Dad raising you to Consciousness you have a chance. Plus Dad has a printing press in the basement where he revives the forgotten heroes of black thought, history and biography. It's going to rub off on you. The knowledge, as taught in the street, is tough to beat. Ta-Neshi's Dad trys a constellation of values to anchor his children and he eventually pushes all of his children towards Mecca-Howard University. I was lost in the slang but the rhythm of the writing kept me reading. How beautiful the language it's style, the humor. I would love to hear it read out loud. So if you want an experience-cultual and literary- try The Beautiful Struggle, a beautiful book.


Friday, April 10, 2009

National Library Week + National Library Worker's Day!!

Next week (April 12-18) is National Library Week and Tuesday, April 14th is National Library Workers' Day. Stop by and thank your librarians for all they do!


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Brandon Sanderson on the last Wheel of Time story

I say story because it looks like it will be a trilogy.
Go, Brandon! He explains it here.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wine Tasting this Friday, 6-9pm

Join us for Wine and munchies 6-9pm. Live music will be provided by the old-time/bluegrass/folk duo Strings on Wings. Coffee and Tea will also be available. We will also open a new art exhibit by local Sean Saez. Sean's specialty is nature, especially astronomical images. Right up our orbit!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Land of Marvels by Barry Unsworth

Land of Marvels by Barry Unsworth

Land of Marvels is the backstory to today's Iraq. I always find Barry Unsworth instructive because his work is so well researched. In this book he has drawn for us a microcosm of the never ending dynamic in the Middle East. Here is the push by outside powers to penetrate the soverignty of a country for their own gain - economic or strategic - take your pick.

In this book we are witnesses to the surge of interest in oil during the early 1900's. Unsworth has set the story just before the outbreak of WW1, when the Ottoman Empire is teetering.
The main character is an amateur archaeologist driven by his belief in his dig's importance to Assyrian history. It is being threatened by the new German railroad being built to Baghdad.
At his table are eventually gathered a mini League of nations, all with definite interests in Iraq. We have the British archaeological team, an American geologist9 assuming the obscuring cloak of archaeology), an English major(also Secret Service), a Swiss/German journalist and a Swedish religious couple convinced they have found the Garden of Eden. So here are the West's interests encapsulated - history, oil, security and religion, with the local Arab population mere adjuncts to the major players. The author sets the story in motion and delivers everyone up in a neatly wrapped conclusion.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Happy Belated Birthday to Lawrence Ferlinghetti!

On March 24th, 2009, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, co-founder and co-owner of City Lights Booksellers and Publishers in San Francisco, and one of this country's most beloved poets, will celebrate his 90th birthday.

For those of you wondering, "Where have I heard his name before?" Ferlinghetti's
City Lights Publishers published Allen Ginsberg's Howl in 1956, giving rise to the Beat movement. At least the public part of the Beat movement.

Happy Belated Birthday!!


Friday, March 20, 2009

Want to write Speculative Fiction and be paid?

The Speculative Literature Foundation has this grant for authors aged 50 or over, designed to encourage those just getting started.

Grant information here.

Thanks to the popular and talented John Scalzi for the Word.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Finalists named for the Lambdas and the

The Lambda Literary Foundation announced the 105 finalists for the Lambda Literary Awards representing 72 publishers in 22 categories. Results are here.

The Man Booker International Prize Longlist is also announced.
I'm rooting for Peter Carey, myself.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Reading more science - a challenge

The folks at Scienticity have issued a challenge. To quote them, 'Read at least three nonfiction books in 2009 related somehow to the theme "Nature's Wonders". Your books should have something to do with science, scientists, how science operates, or science's relationship with its surrounding culture. Your books might be popularizations of science, they might be histories, they might be biographies, they might be anthologies; they can be recent titles or older books. We take a very broad view of what makes for interesting and informative science reading.

After you've read a book, write a short note about it, giving your opinion of the book. What goes in the note? The things you would tell a friend if you wanted to convince your friend to read it--or avoid it.'

Then post the note at

Thanks to HeatherJ for the heads-up.

Easy, huh? Spread the word!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pluto, a Planet again according to Illinois

Bless their hearts:

RESOLVED, BY THE SENATE OF THE NINETY-SIXTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, that as Pluto passes overhead through Illinois’ night skies, that it be reestablished with full planetary status, and that March 13, 2009 be declared “Pluto Day” in the State of Illinois in honor of the date its discovery was announced in 1930.

There's more details here.

Lauretta, who needs to get one of these t-shirts.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Spare Room by Helen Garner

The Spare Room by Helen Garner

I was so excited to see a Helen Garner book actually published here in the US. She is my favorite Australian author. The Spare Room is searing. Our character prepares the spare room for a friend's visit. A friend who is dying of cancer, refuses to admit it and has become prey to medical charlatans. How far can a friendship be pulled? Affirmation and hope are the initial responses but as the care exhausts the carer the truth can rise brutally to the surface. We are pulled along and into that vortex by the author's clear unadorned prose.

Somehow Garner can conjure the particular and the universal in one story. How much can a friend ask and how much can the other give? Nicola is a frustrating mix of open hearted love, vulnerability and stubborn frightened denial. An ancient hippie. Helen, her friend of 15 years, is a good friend, someone who cherishes friendship but is driven to the edge. Their way through, not around, this problem is beautifully explored.

I would recommend any of Helen Garner's writing as a rare experience.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Jade Lady Burning & Slicky Boys by Martin Limon

Jade Lady Burning & Slicky Boys by Martin Limon

I've discovered another Soho Press author - Martin Limon. He set his series in post war South Korea, on US army bases with their accompanying pleasure quarters. A harsh environment but it's growing on me. The interactions with Koreans from bar owners to bar girls are definitely unvarnished. Limon also gives us glimpses of civilian Korean life with some very nice sensitive cultural pieces.

Our hero is a part Mexican kid in his 20s who was foster home reared. Sueno reenlists after one stint in Korea and is now working as a Sargent in Criminal Investigation Division. He prefers the truth to comfort in his job. What would the genre do if our guys and gals were not driven and unable to settle for less?

Sueno's sidekick is Ernie Bascom - the brawn with a short fuse when it comes to officers. He is usually quiet preferring to view the female landscape through those bottle cap lenses. Together they investigate military murders, managing to create havoc and step on a few toes as they go.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Rose Variations by Marisha Chamberlain

The Rose Variations by Marisha Chamberlain

What adventures Rose has had in this book. Life adventures, professional adventures. I enjoyed the setting in a university music department in Minnesota. Rose is a composer working her way to tenure, while at the same time experiencing a variety of relationships. It felt close, emotionally, to real life, and was fascinating to re-experience that time of one's life.

The narrative moved along with less wallowing in the emotions than I expected. There was always another experience around the corner.

The biggest questions in the book are will our heroine earn tenure and will she find love, despite a dysfunctional upbringing. I found myself hope she would find both and I will let you,dear reader, be the judge of that.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Reisterstown Readers has a new blog!

Our local library has a Book Club that's been running a number of years - and they just started a blog! Welcome, Reisterstown Readers to the blogosphere! They meet the 2nd Thursdays of the month at the Reisterstown Library - and their next book is Manhunt.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

R.I.P. Philip Jose Farmer

Philip Jose Farmer passed away at age 91 Wednesday the 25th. I vividly remember "To Your Scattered Bodies Go" and it pushed me to think about what it is to be a human being. Actually,
that's my personal definition of good science fiction - it forces you to think, specifically about humans and the human condition.

There's a lovely obituary in Farmer's local paper.

What stories do YOU remember from Philip Jose Farmer?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Do you ever cry when reading a book?

HeatherJ, over at Age 30+ ... A Lifetime of Books, is running a poll to find out how many folks cry when reading books. As opposed to watching movies, listening to music, etc.

I remember crying several times during really sad bits of stories. Not often, by yes, when the boy threw himself into Lloyd Alexander's Black Cauldron.

Interesting question, no? Go have a look.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Free Astronomy & Science Fiction Stories!

The National Science Foundation (USA) has funded a Science Fiction anthology - a free one! Check out stories by Mary Robinette Kowal, Geoffrey Landis, and others in Diamonds in the Sky.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Save a word from extinction from the English language

The Oxford Dictionaries are running a campaign to rescue certain words from extinction and/or removal from the english dictionary. Warning! There is sound (which can be turned off in the lower left) - but it's a bit disconcerting to here "Pick Me!" as you scroll across the words.

Let us know in the comments which one you saved, 'K?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Food, Glorious Food!

Loyola College in Maryland is running a Humanities Symposium on the nature of food and its relationship to humanity. In addition to studying The Omnivore's Dilemma, the 2-and-a-bit month long seminar will cover movies, tastings, children's nutrition, history, and art. Many events are free and open to the public! Details may be found here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

John Updike - R.I.P.

Dated 1/27/09:

"It is with great sadness that I report that John Updike died this morning at the age of 76, after a battle with lung cancer." said Nicholas Latimer of Alfred A. Knopf, a unit of Random House. "He was one of our greatest writers, and he will be sorely missed." Latimer said Updike died in a hospice in Massachusetts.

Updike's most recent publication is The Widows of Eastwick, a sequel to The Witches of Eastwick. The Baltimore Sun has a lovely obituary here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tea with the Author this Saturday! 2-4pm

Saturday, January 17, 2009 2-4pm

Join Maryland author Mary Ellen Hughes and the American Association of University Women for tea, cookies and discussion. Mary Ellen is the author of three 'cozy' mysteries set in a local Maryland craft store.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

DC Comics "Fables" to become a TV series

ABC - the same folks that created a series around terry Goodkind's books - are now working on DC Comics/Vertigo "Fables" as a new series. This, for those of you who don't follow DC Comics, is a universe where fairy tale and folklore characters live in current-day New York. Writers currently listed are Stu Zicherman and Raven Metzner, of "Six Degrees" and David Semel will direct.

It should be interesting.