The President’s Summer Reading List

Check out what President Obama is reading this summer.

President Barack Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia shop for books at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C., on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today, President Obama shared his official summer reading list – a mix of fiction and non-fiction, including a Pulitzer Prize-winning surf memoir, a psychological thriller, and a science fiction novel. Check out the list:

President Obama's summer reading list

  • “Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life” by William Finnegan
  • “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead
  • “H Is for Hawk” by Helen Macdonald
  • “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins
  • “Seveneves” by Neal Stephenson

And in case you missed it, here’s what made the cut last year:

  • “All The Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr
  • “The Sixth Extinction” by Elizabeth Kolbert
  • “The Lowland” by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • “Washington: A Life” by Ron Chernow

 

Original post: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2016/08/12/presidents-summer-reading-list

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The Secret Life of a Book Blogger (Blogger Tag)

 

Well, if these are all the secrets I’m being made to share here …

12:30 am 11 August 2016

I was tagged by Murder by Death – thank you very much! – for this Q&A brought to BL by Grey Warden.

 

How long have you been a blogger?

A blogger only since I moved to BookLikes in the fall of 2013 in the throes of the Goodreads censorship debacle.  I started reviewing on Amazon in 2000 or 2001 and moved to GR in 2008.  Would never have thought I’d take to blogging this much, but there it is, I do! 🙂  Which has a lot to do with the great community and great interaction on BookLikes, too, though.  Even on Amazon, I always said I wanted my reviews to be starting points for a discussion (and I moved away from there when the climate went positively poisonous).  The same was true on Goodreads, though admittedly the most fun I had there was in creating Listopia lists (some of them, of the decidedly goofy variety) and with the interaction in the lists’ comments section.  (Again, this was before things got a bit uptight with regard to “list rules” and similar stuff.)  BookLikes is by far the most congenial, open-minded and just overall nicest book community I’ve belonged to.

After Leafmarks lamentably took a dive earlier this year I also created a WordPress blog, which I’d never have done without the great experience I’ve made on BookLikes in the first place.  My experience on WordPress has so far been positive as well, but I haven’t been there long enough yet to say anything more, I’m afraid.

 

At what point do you think you’ll stop?

Err – when it stops being fun, I guess?

 

What’s the best thing?

Feedback / discussing great books, meeting so many wonderful people who love books as much as I do (plus who also share, between them, a fair amount of my other interests), and the terrifying and completely out of control explosion of my TBR pile.

Add to that, on BookLikes, the near-total absence of whiny and just generally badly behaving authors and other trolls, and the community’s joint response whenever such folks are actually stupid enough to show their faces here.

Also, I totally love the design powers we’ve been given with regard to our BookLikes blogs.  (Even if it typically takes me eons to successfully implement even the tiniest feature.)

 

What’s the worst thing?  What do you do to make it ok?

On BookLikes, nothing bad as far as the community goes; period.  In terms of site features, the longstanding and annoying disfunctionality of the reblog feature and the pitifully poor librarian features (also more recently, the site’s general hickups and lacking staff response). About all of which I tend to bitch and moan on occasion in the hope that someone somewhere will finally listen (so far however, alas, to no avail).

Pretty much everywhere else, the fact that interactions ultimately have a way of turning poisonous before you’ve even realized what’s going wrong; regardless whether you’ve run into a BBA or some other troll, or because the community just isn’t as tight-knit to begin with, or for whatever other reason.  My response to that typically is to walk away: certainly from a discussion that stops actually being one, but ultimately also from the site in question.  I neither have the time nor the inclination to expose myself to that kind of aggravation; though if it’s aggro from a BBA or someone (else) gaming the system, I’ll engage long enough to make it clear to everyone else what is going on, and I may very well also flag the discussion in question for site admin review.

On Goodreads and Amazon, what I also find totally unacceptable is the fact that reviews are being censored (and not even subtly, either).  If I can’t actually say what I think in a review, what’s the point of reviewing to begin with?  Definitely only one response to that sort of thing – walking away.

 

How long does it take you to create/find pictures to use?

Finding them is hardly ever the issue – either I already have saved them somewhere, or Google and someone else’s hopefully public, free-use collection obliges at short notice.  I tend to obsess over design issues, though – where exactly to place images, how large to make them, etc.  As a result, finalizing a post may easily take me twice the amount of time (compared to just typing it up) if I use a lot of images.  Also, I find that I use images on non-review posts a lot more than on reviews (on those, only if I decide that illustration greatly enhances the review).  For most non-review posts, though … just bring ’em on! 🙂

 

Who is your book crush?

I am polygamous (well, when it comes to book crushes – and anyway, isn’t that the point of reading widely?).  Remember Sundance? “I’m not picky. As long as she’s smart, pretty, and sweet, and gentle, and tender, and refined, and lovely, and carefree …”  Pretty much that – just read “he” instead of “she”; unless obviously we’re also defining “crush” as a heroine I can identify with, look up to, or otherwise consider a role model.  In that case it’s women, too.

Brains are important; I can’t stand characters who are TSTL.  As is honesty,  standing by who you are and what you live by, and a certain amount of openmindedness and generosity.  But basically, as I, err, Sundance said, I’m not picky …

 

What author would you like to have on your blog?

To interview myself?  William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Hillary Mantel, C.J. Sansom, and Salman Rushdie.

Also, Hodder (I think) recently had several of their authors interview each other – I’d love to be, or have been able host something like that … say between Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and P.D. James; or Jane Austen and Elizabeth Barrett Browning; or George Eliot and George Sand; or Christine de Pizan and Moderata Fonte; or William Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer, Ben Jonson, and Christopher Marlowe; or Hillary Mantel, C.J. Sansom, Michael Jecks, Iain Pears, Ellis Peters, and our own Samantha Wilcoxson; or Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, and Henning Mankell; or … or … 😀

 

What do you wear when you write your blog posts?

Ummm … whatever I’m wearing that particular day?  On weekends, most likely jeans or comfy slacks and either a T-shirt and a sweatshirt; on work days, something suitable for the office – approximately 3 days out of 5, some combination involving a no-iron cotton, silk or wool top and black dress pants.

 

How long does it take you to prepare?

I tend to make it up as I go along, so no structural drafting / preparation at all.  That said, if I decide I’m going to review a book (which I don’t always do), it’s often because there is something particular that has occurred to me while I was reading the book and that I want to comment on.  Only very rarely do I read a book specifically with the pre-existing idea of reviewing it in mind; though if I do, again, I’ll most likely already have thought about what I want to say at least in general terms before I even sit down to write my review.

 

How do you feel about the book blogger community/culture?

See answers to the first questions above! 🙂

 

What do you think one should do to get a successful blog?

Define “successful”?

Be courteous, honest, and appreciative of / responsive to the people who read your blog.  Keep things varied and diverse.  Say at least a little bit about the reasons why you like / dislike a given book, or care about a given topic, etc.  And most of all, in a community like BookLikes: Participate!!

And in that spirit: If you haven’t done this Q&A yet and you’ve made it all the way to the end of this post, consider yourself tagged! 🙂

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1449233/well-if-these-are-all-the-secrets-i-m-being-made-to-share-here

Judith Barrow: Today with Tony Riches

Owen: Book One of the Tudor Trilogy - Tony Riches Jasper: Book Two of The Tudor Trilogy - Tony Riches

judithbarrowblog.com/2016/07/13/today-with-tony-riches

Introducing the authors who will be appearing at the Tenby Book Fair (part of the Tenby Arts Festival) in Tenby, South Pembrokshire, Wales, on September 24, 2016 (the festival runs through October 1).  Rats, now I really wish I could travel this year …

Anyway, great interview!

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1444657/judith-barrow-today-with-tony-riches

Warrior Kings of England – The Story of the Plantagenet Dynasty [REBLOG]

Reblogged from: Carpe Librum

This course at Medieval Courses is 1/2 price until August 14th. I have signed up to take it and thought some of you might be interested as well. With payment ($49), you receive lifetime access to 24 modules with audio, quizzes, & additional reading recommendations. The author of the course is Toni Mount, who should sound somewhat familiar. She is also the author of last month’s More Historical than Fiction selection, Colour of Poison.

 

Source:
medievalcourses.com/overview/warrior-kings-england-mc04

Original post:
http://carpelibrum.booklikes.com/post/1444203/warrior-kings-of-england-the-story-of-the-plantagenet-dynasty

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Summer Splurges (AKA: Be Good to Yourself)

The Colour of Poison: A Sebastian Foxley Medieval Mystery (Volume 1) - Toni MountWars of the Roses - Charles RossLast White Rose: The Secret Wars of the Tudors - Desmond SewardBlood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses - Sarah GristwoodMary Tudor: The First Queen - Linda Porter

Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen - Anna WhitelockThe Sugar Planter's Daughter - Sharon MaasThe Princes of Ireland - Edward RutherfurdThe Rebels of Ireland - Edward RutherfurdThe Chronicles of Narnia CD Box Set: The Chronicles of Narnia CD Box Set - C.S. Lewis, Kenneth Branagh

Largely inspired by Samantha Wilcoxson’s recommendations following up on my read of her books Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen and Faithful Traitor – as well as looking forward to book 3 of her Tudor Women trilogy – I’ve been on a minor shopping spree lately. Not all of these are Samantha’s recommendations, but that’s the way book browsing goes … one thing leads to another!

  • Toni Mount: The Colour of Poison – actually ordered already before my exchange with Samantha on which books she recommends in connection with her own novels, though another recommendation of hers, too; what a pity I probably won’t be receiving it before the end of its “book of the month” status in More Historical Than Fiction.
  • Charles Ross: The Wars of the Roses – though I’ve already got Trevor Royle’s book on the same subject, but it can’t hurt to get another one just for comparison’s sake;
  • Desmond Seward: The Last White Rose – since, after all, the Yorks didn’t just die out all at once together with Richard III at Bosworth in 1485;
  • Sarah Gristwood: Blood Sisters, The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses – since women played an important part during that period and it’s time we finally took note of them … and not just Margaret of Anjou, either (which is why Samantha’s books on Elizabeth of York and Margaret Pole are such a welcome read);
  • Linda Porter: Mary Tudor, The First Queen – since there’s more to Mary I than is hidden behind her epithet “Bloody Mary”;
  • Anna Whitelock: Mary Tudor, Princess, Bastard, Queen – ditto (and two books are always better than one, see above)

 … and while I was at it, I also did a bit of wish list cleanup, ordering:

  • Sharon Maas: The Sugar Planter’s Daughter (book 2 of her Winnie Cox trilogy; fresh from the publisher’s press);
  • Edward Rutherfurd: The Princes of Ireland and The Rebels of Ireland;
  • David Suchet: Poirot and Me (since my reviews of some of the Poirot dramatizations starring Suchet are up next for copying over to my WordPress blog)
  • … and then I also found a dirt cheap (used, but near new) offer of the Chronicles of Narnia audiobook set read by Derek Jacobi, Kenneth Branagh, Patrick Stewart, Michael York, Alex Jennings, Lynn Redgrave and Jeremy Northam – which I of course had to have as well.

 And look, the first lovely books already made it to their new home, too:

 

But anyway, I obviously also needed to make space on my wish list for all the other books I found when following up on Samantha’s recommendations:

  • Lisa Hilton: Queens Consort, England’s Medieval Queens (which I hope is going to live up to Helen Castor’s She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth I);
  • Dan Jones: The Hollow Crown (since I’ve already got his earlier book on the Plantagenets …);
  • Charles Ross: Richard III (by all accounts still the standard biography);
  • Chris Skidmore: Richard III (the most recent incarnation of Richard III biographies);
  • Amy Licence: Richard III, the Road to Leicester (I guess there goes my resolution not to give in to the publicity craze of the recent[ish] discovery of his bones);
  • Amy Licence: Elizabeth of York, Forgotten Tudor Queen (and really, I swear it was this book and the RIII bio by Charles Ross that led me to Licence’s book on RIII in the first place);
  • Alison Weir: Elizabeth of York, the First Tudor Queen (one of Samantha’s major “go-to” books for background information on Elizabeth; also, I own and rather like Weir’s bio of Eleanor of Aquitaine);
  • Hazel Pierce: Margaret Pole, 1473-1541, Loyalty, Lineage and Leadership (on which Samantha says she relied substantially in writing Faithful Traitor) and
  • Susan Higginbotham: Margaret Pole (brand new and due out in August 2016).

And then … well, there’s this absolutely gorgeous and super-nice tea and spice store in Frankfurt that my best friend and I discovered when I was living in Frankfurt way back in 2003.  Shelves crammed with goodies from all over the world and an amazing staff … even after I moved to Bonn, we just kept going there; and we still try to make it down there at least once or twice a year.  So last Saturday we decided another splurge was overdue, took to the road – and returned home late in the afternoon laden with delicacies.  This was my share of the bounty:

  • A small bag of Nanhu Da Shan Qinxin Oolong (the prize catch of last Saturday’s shopping trip; and yes, they do actually let you try all of their products in their store);
  • * A foursome of Kusmi tea blends (Kashmir tchai, ginger lemon green, and a double serving of spicy chocolate);
  • One of their homemade rice & spice mixes (in this instance, a blend of Indian basmati rice with currants, cashew nuts, coconut flakes, lemon pepper, cinnamon, sea salt, cardamom, ginger, and pieces of dried mango, apricot, papaya, and cranberries, going by the fanciful name Maharani Rice … one of my absolute favorites);
  • A bottle of Stokes Sweet Chilli Sauce (my kitchen just isn’t complete without this stuff, it goes on practically everything);
  • A bottle of Belberry Spicy Mango Ketchup (new to me, tried it in the store and instantly loved it);
  • A duo of Sal de Ibiza (green pepper and lemon, and ginger and lemon grass);
  • A lidded Chinese dragon tea mug that will go well with the two (differently-colored) mugs in the same style that I’ve already got
  • … and a collection of their very own recipes, all of which they also serve up (though obviously not all at the same time) for tasting purposes in their store.; this particular collection being recipes created by a charming lady from Sri Lanka named Rajitha who has been part of their team since practically forever.

 Alright, so I guess I did splurge.  In my defense, though, I’ll mention that I won’t be able to travel at all this year, nor actually take a whole lot of vacation time or other time off work, so I’m having to make to with what’s available by way of compensation … and is there any better compensation than books and food?

Amazon (Finally) Suing Sellers Over Fake Reviews [REBLOG]

Reblogged from: GreyWarden

(reblogged from MarketingLand.com)

amazon-orange-1920

One of Amazon’s most appealing features is the unbiased reviews provided to members. Unfortunately, it turns out that some sellers have taken it upon themselves to feed fake reviews to their customers-to-be. This wouldn’t be a prudent idea. Amazon is (and has been) suing those sellers that are buying positive reviews.

Amazon has previously sued to stop websites that sell fake Amazon reviews, along with individuals offering to write fake reviews. This latest batch of lawsuits is against the companies that buy fake reviews for their products.

A story from TechCrunch this week reports that three new lawsuits were brought against sellers where the fake reviews made up 30 percent to 45 percent of the overall reviews. According to TechCrunch, the defendants are Michael Abbara of California, Kurt Bauer of Pennsylvania and a Chinese company called CCBetter Direct.

We reached out to Amazon for comment and received the following in regard to these cases:

While we cannot comment on active litigation, we can share that since the beginning of 2015, we have sued over 1,000 defendants who offered to post fake reviews for payment. We are constantly monitoring and will take action against abusive sellers by suspending and closing their accounts and by taking further legal action. Our goal is to eliminate the incentives for sellers to engage in review abuse and shut down this ecosystem around fraudulent reviews in exchange for compensation. Lawsuits are only one piece of the puzzle. We are working hard on technologies that allow us to detect and take enforcement action against perpetrators while also preventing fake reviews from ever surfacing. As always, it is important for customers to know that these remain a very small fraction of the reviews on Amazon and we introduced a review ranking system so that the most recent, helpful reviews appear first. The vast majority of reviews on Amazon are authentic, helping millions of customers make informed buying decisions every day.

The rules in this type of a case are fairly straightforward. Amazon has sellers agree to the following:

You may not intentionally manipulate your products’ rankings, including by offering an excessive number of free or discounted products, in exchange for a review. Review solicitations that ask for only positive reviews or that offer compensation are prohibited.

Furthermore, when sellers choose to break selling policies, they may find themselves without much recourse. The seller policies make it clear that any disputes or claims will be resolved by binding arbitration and won’t go to court and that each party waives their right to a trial.

So sellers take heed, if you want a good review, make sure your product/service earns it. To make sure that you are adhering to Amazon’s rules, read the full Participation Agreement in its entirety.

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1439126/amazon-finally-suing-sellers-over-fake-reviews

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6 Dead in Shooting Rampage in Munich, Police Say

www.nytimes.com/2016/07/23/world/europe/munich-mall.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=0

https://static01.nyt.com/video/players/offsite/index.html?videoId=100000004546760

Police have confirmed that it’s likely a terrorist attack.

I hope all those in this community who live in Munich or have friends and family there are safe and OK.

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1439101/6-dead-in-shooting-rampage-in-munich-police-say

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The countdown has started! — Pencils and What-Not [REBLOG]

Just six days to go till publication day!Here’s a Goodreads review:Excerpt: The Sugar Planter’s Daughter by Sharon Maas is a deep and heartrending story of love and loss; betrayal and forgiveness; secrets and lies. I felt deeply involved in Winnie’s and George’s lives; the lives of George’s family and their encompassment of Winnie into their hearts. But…

via The countdown has started! — Pencils and What-Not

 

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