Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Biblio College Class Four: Building a Collection

Kerry Hammond recently attended a four part series of classes at her local used book store, The Printed Page Bookshop. Each class taught a different topic about rare books, preservation, and collecting. Here are her notes from Class Four: Building a Collection. We've been running her notes on the other classes each Wednesday this month. 

Now that the class had learned how to identify a first edition, protect a collection of old books, and use a bibliography to research the value of a book, it was time to discuss how to build a collection of our own.

One of the first things to remember in collecting is to buy and collect what you love. After all, if you don’t love it, it won’t feel like much fun. Inspect the books you plan to buy very carefully, looking for marks, mildew, etc. Be an informed consumer. Know what a book is worth in the condition you have in front of you.

The most fun part is that if you’re a better reader, you will be a better collector. The more you know about an author, the more you’ll know about the books in print and this will help you determine which to add to your collection. Cultivate relationships with dealers, especially ones who sell in the area you intend to collect.

When buying online, be careful. Buying from someone who has been around for a long time, or someone who is recommended by a trusted friend is best. Read the seller’s descriptions of a book to determine if they sound knowledgeable. If they use the correct terms to describe the book (and use them properly) that’s a good sign as well.

If you’re adventurous, you can even try live auctions. Many have pre-sale exhibitions where prospective buyers can examine the books that are going to be auctioned. The most important thing, though, is to have fun. Collection should be an enjoyable hobby or business. If it’s not fun, what’s the point?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Mystery Crossword Puzzle

Parnell Hall, author of the wonderful Puzzle Lady series of mysteries, put together a super fun crossword with the help of Fred Piscop for this year's Bouchercon, the world's largest mystery convention. 

He graciously gave us permission to post it here. We'll post the answers at the bottom of next Sunday's post here on Mystery Playground. You can find out the names of the Bouchercon VIPs by checking this website

Just click on the photo, save it to your desktop and print. Perfect for sneaking away for something to do while the turkey is cooking. 

Good luck with the puzzle! 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Atlanta Speakeasy: Edgewood

Kerry and Kim Hammond visited Atlanta on a girls’ trip and were on the lookout for speakeasies. See what they found.

In the Edgewood neighborhood of downtown Atlanta lies a pizza parlor called Pizzeria Vesuvius. It’s a non-descript kind of place, but if you walk to the back and turn left at the red curtains—as if you were headed to the restroom—you will see a bookcase built into the wall. It looks slightly out of place, and if you try to remove a book you will notice that they are glued in place.

Grab the edge of the bookcase and pull, and you will enter the Edgewood Speakeasy. The bar was decorated for Halloween with crime scene tape and a blood spatter weapon garland. The place is dimly lit and full of carved wood. It’s what I would imagine a speakeasy to look like back in the day. There are liquor bottles lining the shelf above the bar and we scanned them to decide what to order.

Rather than order off the menu, we decided to go a different route. I chose my favorite drink, a slightly dirty gin martini with three olives. Kim told the bartender what flavors she liked and he created a punch flavored drink containing Captain Morgan, Amaretto, Pineapple juice, and Grenadine. Super tasty.

The bar frequently offers DJ entertainment, so check their Facebook listing before you go.

What Are Speakeasies?

Speakeasies were secret bars that sprang up when the United States outlawed alcohol in 1919. 

Most speakeasies were housed in unmarked locations, many required a password to get in and some may have even moved from place to place to stay ahead of the law. Many think the name came from patrons being told to "speakeasy" or to lower their voices so no one suspected they were serving alcohol. 

Today, there are many modern speakeasies that retain some of these traditions. Usually they feature fresh ingredients in their food and drink, and though the secrecy is no longer needed, many are in discreet locations that lack signage. Some even require passwords.

You can read about the other Atlanta Speakeasy that Kerry and Kim found here.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Book Review: The Forgetting Place

Kerry Hammond is here to review a book by new-to-her author John Burley.

The Forgetting Place by John Burley was published on February 10, 2015 by William Morrow. I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book at Bouchercon in Raleigh, North Carolina, at an event sponsored by Harper Collins Publishers. I was even able to get the author’s signature in my book. The book’s cover immediately intrigued me, and when I read the synopsis on back, I was completely sold. It went to the top of my To Be Read pile a soon as I returned home.

Dr. Lise Shields is a psychiatrist at Menaker State Hospital, a Maryland institution that is populated by the criminally insane. She’s been at the hospital for 5 years, working under Dr. Wagner. When a mysterious patient arrives, with absolutely no records, Lise is troubled at the lack of protocol being followed. Dr. Wagner ignores her worries and she must treat her patient with nothing of his past to go on. As she gets more involved in his case, she learns that there is more to the story than she originally suspected. She becomes extremely worried when she realizes that two men are watching her, and that Dr. Wagner may be part of the conspiracy. Her professional need to protect her patient leads her to go to great lengths to try and figure out what brought him to Menaker, and whether or not he will make it out alive.

I really enjoyed the author’s writing style. It was so descriptive that I felt like I was there, so eloquent that I felt like I was being told a tale by a master storyteller, and so enthralling that I was drawn into each twist and turn that took place. I’m happy to report that I lost a night’s sleep to Lise and Menaker hospital, but I have no regrets. There’s nothing like a satisfying ending to a great book to help you get through a sleepy day.

The Forgetting Place is the second book by John Burley. His first, Absence of Mercy, now sits atop my pile. Both books are standalone novels.