Welcoming the New Year Abroad

My SO and I spent a week in the Dominican Republic over the New Year holiday. It was spur of the moment and whirlwindish and was aboslutely thrilling. And, although the the hotel was that nice, in fact the food made me sick and the beach was nicer on the other side of the fence, we still managed to have fun and ride the teleflorica up to the top of the mountains, snorkel and see tropical fish, and sleep and sunbathe on the beach for a few days.

I was thrilled to discover the Mirabal sisters ‘, made popular in In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez, beautiful faces printed on some of the Dominican Pesos and also travel down the avenue named after them. I also took advantage of the free time to read my Sookie Stackhouse novels and they also seemed like a breath of fresh air and perfect ‘summer’ reads.

While there I had a chance to touch a toucan and I must tell you that a toucan’s feathers feel like silk. I was delighted to discover this fact.

It was really a great begining to the new year and so refreshing!

On to news items from around the web:

Amazon.com launched a new feauture, Author stores:

(read more here), which will contain all of an author’s book plus profile info, like photos, bio and even video. Sweet!

mashable.com reviewed Reading Trails, a new social network that takes a fresh approach to discovering books online by following users’ trails and finding intersections or connections. It’s cute and offers widgets so you know I like it.

I also discovered a few book communities that I was completely unaware of; “JacketFlap is the world’s most comprehensive children’s book resource and social networking web site for people interested in children’s and young adult books.” While “Big Universe® is an award winning web community devoted to beautiful children’s picture books” and seems similar to Lookybook.

Completely new to the web is www.booksprouts.com, a book community with a focus on book clubs. You can catalog books, post reviews, make friends and also join, create and manage your own online book club and make recommendations.

I spotted these two posts at Lifehacker: VerbaLearn Boosts Your Vocab & In Defense of Buying Books

Oprah’s having a live webcast for The Story of Edgar Sawtelle author David Wroblewski on Monday, January 26, at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.

register online

and here’s another, great one: Live online chat with Isabel Allende 2/25/2009 7:00 PM at www.blogtalkradio.com

www.podiobooks.com offers free audio books to download.

Death with Interruptions by Jose Saramago sounds like a fun but intelligent read.

www.indiebound.org has a great new look for 2009 with cool community features too. www.simonandschuster.com also relaunched their website.

Poets & Writers Magazine now has a blog! Check it out at: www.pw.org/blog, their main site, www.pw.org, also got a revamp.

James Patterson, has a great new community dedicated to making lifelong readers out of children at ReadKiddoRead. It looks great and has a ton of resources!

Lots of makeovers for 2009: Guanabee.com also has a new, very pink look, in addition to a book club: (read full post here). Their first pick is Chilean author Roberto Bolaño’s 2666, which I started reading last month but after a few pages put it down for another time because I just couldn’t get into it at the time and I want to give it a fair chance.

AbeBooks’ Lists their Most Expensive Sales of 2008, See the whole list.

Designspongeonline.com posted a guide to Harlem and I would love to see one for Spanish Harlem. That reminds me too, the Bronx is totally getting some love at The Bronx Rocks.

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