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Bookrageous Episode 6; The ‘Best American’ Series

Episode six of the Bookrageous Podcast is live! This time out, Jenn (of JennIRL fame) and I were again joined by Paul Montgomery, host of the Fuzzy Typewriter podcast. Jenn, Paul and I chat about what we’ve been reading and discuss the yearly Best American series of books, get geeky, and talk about what we love about collections and anthologies. Enjoy, subscribe, and let us know what you’d like to see in future episodes!

Show notes and an embedded player are below.

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Starbucks, Where Everybody Knows Your Name

This week, I use my Hop Press column to ruminate on Starbucks’ recent announcement that they’re considering serving beer and wine at select locations.

Tuesday morning, USA Today broke the news that Starbucks – your non-local local coffee joint – is experimenting with serving wine and beer at stores.

Click on through for USA Today’s full article, but the gist of the beer side of things is this; Starbucks gets almost three quarters of it’s business before 2 PM, and beer and wine (along with some sort of live entertainment) is one way to drive more people through the door. Also worth noting is that these alcohol-friendly Starbucks/Barbucks are going to focus on getting “regional” beer and wine. The rest of the article has some interesting info on the coffee giant’s attempt at evolution and changes to decor and the menu, but you’re here for thoughts on the beer.

Read the full post – and offer your comments on the news – at the Hop Press.

Sex Tips from Rock Stars by Paul Miles

I’ll say this much for Sex Tips from Rock Stars – you may not learn anything new from the book, but you’ll sure as hell be entertained.

From Almost Famous to Spinal Tap, Penny Lane to Connie Hamzy, we’re taught that “rock god” and “sex god” are interchangeable terms. There’s no doubt that musicians have a certain power when they perform that’s an aural aphrodisiac. The question is, are there any actual bedroom tips and tricks these rockers have to back up the appeal?

That’s the question that Miles sheds some light on in Sex Tips from Rock Stars. In the new book from Omnibus Press (a publisher better known for serious biographies than sex guides), 23 different musicians give their tips, “in their own words” on groupies, fetishes, romance, marriage and everything in between. I say musicians because, lets face it – “Rock Stars” is a bit relative. Though the fame of some of the interviewees might be questionable, the range of ages and musical styles makes for a good cross-section of the rock world. The book is pretty phallocentric, but does include the female perspective of The Donnas’ Allison Robertson. Continue reading

The Dungeons and Dragons Red (un)Box(ed)

“Your first step on the road to ADVENTURE!”

Before the release of this new edition of the Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set, I’d never heard of D&D’s famous “Red Box.” The few times I played the tabletop RPG in high school, I was under the impression that the essential ingredients were the Dungeon Master’s Guide, the Monster Manual, and the Player’s Handbook. Apparently, there’s an easier (and less expensive) way!

As The Escapist was kind enough to inform me, the original Red Box debuted in the ’80s and introduced thousands of gamers to pen-and-paper roleplaying games. The box contained everything you needed to get down to playing Dungeons and Dragons, from multiple rulebooks to dice that were ready to roll. Fully updated (other than the box art) for the 4th edition of D&D, the new Red Box’s aim is that “[Y]ou buy this box, you take it home, you unwrap it, and you’re playing within two minutes.‘ You’re not reading through 50 pages of combat rules, trying to figure out how it works. There’s an immediate entry point.”

I’ll be testing this “immediate entry point” theory in next few weeks by playing the solo adventure included in the box, poring over the books and skill cards, and running a game with a mix of folks whose experience with RPGs ranges from “what’s a d20?” to “how long ’til the Temple of Elemental Evil?” The first step, however, is opening up the Red Box.

Scroll on down for some thumbnail shots of everything in the box, some first reactions to the contents, and a gallery of some bigger versions of the pictures. Continue reading

Five Trade Show Finds I Can’t Wait to Read

Just about a week ago, I made my way down to Providence for the yearly NEIBA fall conference. My basic impressions from the show are as follows.

It was neat! I talked about it here!

One of the best parts of book conferences like this (or BEA in the Spring) is getting a down-and-dirty look at books that have just come out, or will be coming out in the near future. As a bookseller, it’s fantastic to get a handle on what books will be in the store, make some sense of what you need to order, and read books so you can handsell them from day one. As a blogger, it’s nice to talk with sales reps and easily get your hands on review copies. As a book nerd, it’s just freakin’ COOL to get insider access to the book world and be surrounded by books.

I managed to show a bit of restraint this year and not ask for copies of every book I saw this year, but I still came out of the show with four or five dozen books. I’m going to save your eyes (and my fingers) the strain of showing why I’m psyched to read each one of them, but I did want to highlight five of the titles that I’m the most excited about. Be sure to listen to episode five of the Bookrageous podcast for more suggestions, and check out Jenn and Rebecca‘s lists of their favorite books from the fall trade shows.

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My Best Friend is a Wookie by Tony Pacitti

I’ve read a handful of books about growing up as a geek – The Elfish Gene and Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks, most recently – but all of them focus on geekery in the 70s and 80s. Those authors were lucky enough to see the Star Wars flics in the theaters, and were well into adulthood by the time the *shudder* prequels came out. I’m super excited to read Pacitti’s book because he had the same experience with Star Wars as I did. Born a few years after Jedi, Tony grew up as a fan of the original movies and was young enough to be excited by the prequels. I can’t wait to dig into a tale of Star Wars fandom that mirrors my own.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away . . . a geek was born. So begins Pacitti’s own dorkily moving Jedi journey, which reveals how “Star Wars” has served as a source of comfort, guidance, and wisdom in his life.

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Bookrageous Episode 5; Our Fall Reading Lists

Episode five of the Bookrageous Podcast is live! Jenn (of JennIRL fame) Rebecca (from The Book Lady’s Blog) and I chatted a bit about the trade shows we’ve been hitting to pick up books – the annual fall conferences of NAIBA, SIBA and NEIBA. Then, we switched into total sales pitch mode to talk about just a few of the many, many upcoming books we can’t wait to read. Enjoy, subscribe, and let us know what you’d like to see in future episodes!

Show notes and an embedded player are below. Continue reading

Black Star Co-op on the Hop Press

This week, my column on focuses on the Black Star Co-op, which purports to be the first pub of it’s kind – one owned wholly by it’s members.

Back in 2005, Steven Yarak (one of the three founders of Black Star) had the idea for a bar that was essentially owned by it’s members. He shopped the idea around through homebrew club listservs and fliers around town, and the first meeting about the pub that became the Black Star Co-op was at the start of 2006. That fateful meeting hooked Yarak up with Jeff Young, a trained brewer who was looking for a project and eventually became the Co-op’s brewmaster. Put together Young and Yarak and add some ambition (and an understanding of Texas’ cooperative statutes), and the Black Star Co-op was founded in 2006. After five years of planning, fund-raising and a drive for member/owners, the brewpub finally opened to the public – and it’s members – late this summer.

Check out my full take on Black Star (and their beer plans) on Ratebeer’s Hop Press.