- Fizzy Thoughts: July 2008


Thursday, July 31, 2008

What are your favourite final sentences from books? Is there a book that you liked specially because of its last sentence? Or a book, perhaps that you didn’t like but still remember simply because of the last line?

I thought we established last week that I don't remember squat. I'm lucky I remembered a beginning, and now you want an end? Not gonna happen.


Still in Sunriver

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Most of the gang (there are officially 29 of us spread out over three houses) is downstairs watching Napoleon Dynamite. Since I've already seen the movie about 5 times (although that's not stopping Hamburger...I'm convinced men are genetically predisposed to loving re-runs), I'm holed up upstairs with my book (Ghostwalk...I'm on page 220) and computer. The kids are baking brownies for tomorrow night's dinner, and the house smells wonderful.

Have I told you how dinner works around here? It's our one communal meal. Everyone is assigned one night to cook, and another night to clean. You don't cook with your significant other or kids. And best of all, the men are in charge of planning the meals. I cooked Monday night, and was lucky to be teamed up with all men. We had grilled steak, and sauteed zucchini with bacon and garlic (man was that good), and fruit salad, and macaroni salad. My job was chopping zucchini and fruit, and mixing together the macaroni salad. I love not being in charge. The only problem was that the cooks eat last, so I only got two slices of zucchini. Oh, and we had s'mores for dessert. Last night we had smoked chicken and pork (one of the cousins brings his smoker every year), with potato salad and grilled veggies. Tonight was stir-fry. Tomorrow night it's the kids night to cook. Rumor has it we're having pizza. And brownies.

The most strenuous thing I did today was ride a bike down to the mall for Goody's. Goody's is the ice cream shop, and it's a Sunriver tradition. Although they seem to be a bit lax in the quality control this year. The ice cream (and the sorbet) have been disappointing. Which isn't to say we won't go back to try a different flavor. Oh, and I won three games in a row at pool. I think I used up all my pool luck, which is unfortunate, since I've been signed up for the pool tournament. I've made it to the finals of the Skip-Bo tournament (with Hamburger as my partner), and I made it past the first round of the ping-pong tournament. Betcha didn't know I gots skillz.

Tomorrow is the river float. There's no escape. 3 or 4 hours on the Deschutes River. Hamburger and I have a rubber raft we blow up once every year for this occasion. Hopefully, it still holds air. Unfortunately, I don't think I can get away with bringing my book along for the ride.

Oh....and I discovered Sunriver now has a bookstore. I will definitely be returning there to take advantage of the no sales tax. And to console myself for the fact that I can't escape the river float.


where do you blog?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

It's time to answer another question.

Beastmomma asked: I am having lots of challenges with my blog administrator, so I am curious about the experience of others. How did you chose blogspot? What do you enjoy about this administrator? What would you change? Would you recommend to a friend?

I've blogged on LiveJournal, blogger and WordPress (briefly).

LiveJournal was my first experience with a blog. I think I blogged over there for about two years. I joined with a bunch of BookCrossers, so I had a set of friends. It was easy to use, and very easy to personalize your blog's template. But, it's also very cliquish. LiveJournal allows you to assign friend status, and to limit access to your blog to those same friends. If someone de-friends someone, suddenly it's like being back in high school. My blog on LiveJournal was pretty much a conversation with those people I knew from BookCrossing and who I had assigned friend status.

I've been on blogger for a couple of years, too. I started my current blog because I had a few friends who blogged on blogger and it was easier to communicate back and forth with blogger, as opposed to blogger-LiveJournal. As far as templates go, if you want to personalize the look of your blog, you need to be willing to mess around with html and devote some serious time it. At least for me, because blogger doesn't always respond the way I want. Especially with posting. Writing a post is easy. Inserting a picture is easy. But for the life of me, I can't figure out why my spacing goes all wonky on occasion. I am constantly editing my posts to get the spacing between paragraphs to appear uniform (and I like my posts to be visually appealing, not all haphazard looking...if this one looks weird, I'm blaming it on the auto-publish feature). Blogger has a nasty habit of deleting or inserting spaces. Sometimes I feel like it's an ongoing war over who really controls my blog. Despite that quirky little issue, I'm happy with blogger. Especially since it is free.

I posted book reviews to a group blog on WordPress for a few months. I experienced formatting issues there, too. And I had a heck of a time with pictures, for some reason. But that could be because it was different than blogger. And LiveJournal. I know the cool kids (Lisa and Trish and chartroose) are on WordPress, so maybe they'll weigh in.

What do you all think? Anyone have anything to add for beastmomma?


a little bit of this, a little bit of that

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lisa, blog topic suggester extraordinaire, listed all these questions as prompts. And I'm going to give short answers to all of them to make up a post. So here we go...

Pet peeves? neighbors who let their dogs bark all day and night, when someone clicks the top of a pen over and over and over again (I ignored this when I was a teacher, and now it drives me batty), people who jaywalk in front of my car verrrrrrrry slowly (yes, you teenage punks, I'm talking about you!)

Politics? Politicians don't impress me much. Especially ones of the Republican variety.

Local news? Our local news station, KSBY, has the most annoying graphics/sound things going on...at the intro, and before every commercial, the graphics sweep onto the screen, complete with a very loud swooshing noise...it's quite annoying and I can barely stand to watch the news anymore.

Hurricane Dolly? I knew there was a hurricane in Texas, but I'm ashamed to say we haven't been introduced, so I didn't know her name. Probably because I'm avoiding the swooshy news. And I changed my home page at work from MSN to Google, so I don't see any headlines.

What color your toenails are painted? The OPI bottle was missing it's sticker and I don't know the current bizarre name for a fairly sedate (for me) tulipy red color.

Favorite cocktail (including the recipe) a la Doreen Orion in Queen of the Road? We don't drink much at home, only when we're out. That makes me sound prudish, doesn't it? But I'm a lightweight, so I don't drink much. My favorite drink is a margarita on the rocks. With salt. I think the recipe involves tequila, triple sec, lime juice and some ice cubes. That's not very special, is it?

Favorite childhood vacation? I lived in BFE, Oregon for 5 years...which was pretty much the equivalent of camping. Therefore, we didn't need vacations. Seriously, I don't remember us taking vacations, even after we moved back to California. We'd go visit family and my cousins would take me to Disneyland. This is probably why my mom and I like to travel so much now.

Worst thing about getting older? Thinking about how many more years I still have left at my job...man that's depressing. Not that I want to be older, but even if I retired at 55, I'd have 16 more years to go. Holy crap!!

Recent dreams/nightmares? I very rarely remember my dreams, and I even more rarely (?) have nightmares. Thank goodness.

Thoughts on marriage? Since I'm not religious, marriage has no meaning or importance for me. I don't need a piece of paper, or society's approval, to validate my relationship. And I really don't like how the government feels like it can dictate who can be married, and who can't.

Children? Nope, don't want 'em. If I did, I suspect I would feel differently about marriage, too. Hamburger and I both enjoy doing our own thing too much to want the responsibility of children. Our families have never pressured us to get married or have kids. We used to have friends who felt compelled to point out that we need/have to have children. That's a sure-fire way to piss us both off.

People who take crazy risks? Just the thought makes my palms sweat. I am such a wimp. I can't imagine putting my life on the line to jump off of a bridge, or drive 300 mph, or climb high mountains (hello? frostbite??). Plus, I think it's beyond rude to worry other people if you do things like that.

What you're having for dinner (incl. the recipe)? I had leftover pasta with a little bit of jarred pesto. No recipe required (have you figured out that I'm lazy?).

Favorite restaurant? Taco Temple, here in Morro Bay. I do believe I've mentioned their desserts many a time. This is a local hangout, in a tiny little building in the corner of a grocery store parking lot. I love, love, love it.

Stupid pet tricks? I don't do pets, for the same reason I don't do kids. And I don't think I've ever seen a stupid pet trick. Stupid pets, though...that's a whole 'nother story.

Most memorable concert you ever attended? Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Santa Barbara Bowl, which is a beautiful place. Everyone should see a concert there. Although Sting at the Mid-State Fair was memorable, too, because he alienated the crowd when he sang Home on the Range.



Sunday, July 27, 2008

Since my last visit to Sunriver, the house we stay in has sprung for wireless internet. Life is good.

Here's what I've been up to...

Last night we stayed in Corning, which is known as the Olive Town, and claims the Olive Pit as a major attraction. Although the Holiday Inn Express we stayed in was nice, the town is pretty much just a pit. There were three truck stops, and I think that's all that's keeping that town alive.

Since we couldn't get into the Sunriver rentals until 4pm today, we took our time on the drive. We stopped in Redding at the Barnes and Noble so Hamburger could buy a few magazines, and at Jamba Juice for a smoothie. Then it was Klamath Falls and Taco Time (hey, it was either that or Burger King). Then, the highlight of the trip so far...Dairy Queen in La Pine. Good times, huh?

Central Oregon is still flat. And still covered in trees. If you ever have the opportunity to drive Highway 97...don't. It's fine if you're using it to get to Bend, but otherwise? Meh. I think it says something that the highlight of our day was the Dairy Queen. And really, I like Oregon. I used to live here. It has no sales tax. It has Powells. And beautiful coastal communities. And Dufur. I mean, really. Who can resist Dufur? Not to mention Friend. 'Cause I lived there too. And let's not forget Boyd, another stop in my brief life as an Oregonian. Who cares if I was 5 years old at the time...I figure since I once lived in towns that no longer exist, I can poke fun at Central Oregon.

Anyways, we finally made to Sunriver around 4:30, and so far I've been on a bike ride and rallied a bit at ping-pong. I think Hamburger was using me too warm up for the tournament that will be sure to occur later this week. Now I'm holed up with the computer, elated at the fact that I have a connection to the outside (because Sunriver really is kind of a self-contained world).

And I get to spend the next 6 days with 30 people I consider family, but wouldn't necessarily choose to hang with on a regular basis. So please, take pity and leave lots of comments.


and we're off...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Care asked about upcoming trips, which was a very appropriate question. Because as you're reading this, Hamburger and I are driving off to the wilds of Oregon (gotta love the auto-publish feature). And not really on the wilds part, although close since the last time I was at Sunriver there was no internet access. The horror! Good thing I've been stockpiling books.

Why am I on my way to Oregon? Because every year Hamburger's family has a reunion at Sunriver, Oregon. I don't go every year because we do the same thing. Every year. So I go every two or three years. Sunriver started life as an army camp, and today it is a big vacation destination. It has a lodge, and a golf course, and a little village, and condos, and lots of big houses. Kind of like Tahoe. It's very close to Mt Bachelor, so during the winter the skiers go there, and it's on the Deschutes River, so there are things to do during the summer, too. Hamburger's family rents houses, and we all meet there and hang out for a week. It's fun, but it's a bit of a drive. And did I mention we do the same things every year? And are you getting the idea that I like my vacations to be new and different?

So today we're headed off to I-5 to begin the long, straight, boring-as-hell drive. We'll stop and spend the night in Corning (for no particular reason other than we usually stay somewhere around Redding, and Corning had good hotel deals), because driving the whole thing in one day is doable, but akin to watching grass grow.

We'll be gone for 9 days. And this is what I packed:

Not that I plan on reading all of them, I just need options.

So I've written up some blog posts to auto-publish while I'm gone. But I still packed up the laptop in the hope that I can find the internet somewhere in the midst of all those trees. And if I get desperate, Bend, and therefore Starbucks, is only 20 minutes or so away. I may be writing essays about how I spent my summer vacation at Starbucks for the free internet access (because did you know if you register your Starbucks card and keep it active, you can get free wi-fi now? I know, I sound like a Starbucks ad, but I'm not going to apologize).

You all behave while I'm gone. No sneaking over to steal my box of 14 books. Or my copy of Geek Love. Or my Starbucks card. Or my David Sedaris book (which I've already passed along to bethany, or at least I will as soon as I finish it). Can you believe how lucky I am? Don't worry, I already pledged to knock it off for awhile, over at chartroose's book barrage. Because otherwise I'm afraid I'll be banned. Although you guys know I'll be passing along most of these books eventually, right?

And hey, whadaya know, I just responded to bethany's suggestion, too (You could post about how you have super good book karma because of all the millions of books you have given to us readers of yours, and how you got the grand prize of the 14 books!!!! That is just perfect. I have to say you deserve them :) ).

Thank you, bethany. I have to say I feel pretty lucky to be part of a spectacular book blogging community! You all are the best.


I'm a Mexican Chocolate Loaf Cake

Friday, July 25, 2008

So Rachael's question was: If you were a dessert, what would you be? Simple, seasonal fruit? Layers of cake and frosted sugar? Creamy pudding goodness? Is there a dessert book you would recommend? (Note: any answers may be consumed)

I was thinking about this question on the drive home from work today, and I decided that I'm a Mexican Chocolate Loaf Cake. Not that I remotely resemble a Mexican Chocolate Loaf Cake. Well, maybe a bit on the loaf part. Anyhoosie, I love this dessert because it's chocolate. Except it's chocolate and more. It also has hints of orange, and coffee, and cinnamon. It's a little different, and it's not to everyone's taste, although some people love it. Kinda like me. ;-)

So for dessert, I'm all about the chocolate. Fruit is good, but it's fruit...not dessert. And I prefer my chocolate in cake form, or cookie form, or ice cream form. I'm not so much a pie or pudding person. Although I have been known to eat them. And peach cobbler and I get along exceptionally well. Especially warm, with ice cream on top. And cheesecake...a local restaurant, Taco Temple, makes amazing cheesecakes (except for the cambozola one we tried once..ick). My favorite is the peanut butter cheesecake...dense, not too sweet, and with a chocolate cookie crust and chocolate sauce drizzled over the top. Yum.

I place the blame for my love of dessert squarely at my mom's feet. She is a fantastic cook, and baker, and she almost always packed homemade cookies in our school lunches (sandwich, fruit, cookies). Although Oreos were also popular at our house.

Since I don't bake all that often, I don't have a favorite dessert book. I do however, have a couple of favorite dessert blogs. The above mentioned Mexican Chocolate Loaf Cake came from Baking Bites. And Annie's Eats has some incredible recipes. If you're feeling fruity, I recently made this cake for a baby shower at work, and it was a huge hit. And doesn't this Reese's Cup Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake look tasty?

Hamburger (since girasoli asked about him) is more of an ice cream for dessert person. Particularly cookie dough ice cream with lots and lots of caramel sauce and some M&M's tossed on top for good measure. That boy is all about the toppings.

What is your favorite dessert?


You guys are good

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Last night I sent out a plea for help. And yowza, you guys are full of suggestions for things to write about. I’ll definitely be using some of these suggestions for future posts. For now, here are all of the comments (with my initial responses in italics)…

Lisa suggested I talk about:
Pet peeves? Politics? Local news? Hurricane Dolly? What color your toenails are painted? Favorite cocktail (including the recipe) a la Doreen Orion in Queen of the Road? Favorite childhood vacation? Worst thing about getting older? Recent dreams/nightmares? Thoughts on marriage? Children? People who take crazy risks? What you're having for dinner (incl. the recipe)? Favorite restaurant? Stupid pet tricks? Most memorable concert you ever attended? Good grief…maybe Lisa should consider a career as a blog topic suggester!

Rachael asked:
If you were a dessert, what would you be? Simple, seasonal fruit? Layers of cake and frosted sugar? Creamy pudding goodness?
Is there a dessert book you would recommend?
(Note: any answers may be consumed) Hah! I love that last line…I think I’ll start with Rachael’s question, so stay tuned!

Care, on the other hand, wants to know…
Any book to movie comparisons?
Tell us about upcoming trips?
Year-to-date BEST reads so far? Oooh, that’s a good one!

Beastmomma asks:
I am having lots of challenges with my blog administrator, so I am curious about the experience of others. How did you chose blogspot? What do you enjoy about this administrator? What would you change? Would you recommend to a friend? Another excellent idea…I’ll post soon about this.

Herschelian said:
It would be great if you blogged about your favourite bookshop; or about how you choose what to read next from your TBR pile, (something I always have trouble with myself, I can be so indecisive). Do you ever pick up a book and feel put off by the quality of the paper or the typeface? Or by the cover? How do you choose which books to Bookcross? ...so many questions, lets have some answers! Have I mentioned I’m a lapsed bookcrosser?

Mack kept it short with:
Favorite childhood memories?
Movies? You really wanna hear about Mongol?

bethany, of course, is all about the books:
You could post about how you have super good book karma because of all the millions of books you have given to us readers of yours, and how you got the grand prize of the 14 books!!!! That is just perfect. I have to say you deserve them :) Thank you, I think so, too. ;-D

And Eden…well, Eden appears to be having the same problem as me.

Thanks everyone, for helping me out in my time of need. And now, I’m off to start answering those questions!



What are your favourite first sentences from books? Is there a book that you liked specially because of its first sentence? Or a book, perhaps that you didn’t like but still remember simply because of the first line?

I am so totally with Trish on this...who the heck remembers the first line? I'm lucky if I remember what I read last week, and now you want me to remember actual lines from books?!? Hello...this is why I have a blog (because my memory is crap). And why I actually can answer the question, despite my grumbliness.

"I write this sitting in the kitchen sink."

10 brownie points if you know the book. 10 more brownie points if you can name the character. And no, I'm not baking you brownies if you know the answer.


Blogger's block

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Whoa, that picture loaded a bit bigger than expected. Oh well, I can't really be bothered to fix it, so y'all will just have to deal.

For the past week, every time I've thought about writing a blog post, my mind has gone completely blank. Empty. No words to be found anywhere. And while I don't quite look like that dude above in the green shirt (I have a bit more hair, and I'm not a big fan of button up, collared shirts), it's close. I also haven't finished any books lately, so I don't even have any books to review. Really, it's pathetic.

So this is a plea for help. Can't you hear my squeaky voice crying out?


See, don't I sound pathetic? Don't you want to help? Good...'cause I need topics. Ask me a question. Give me something to ramble on about. Please. Or I'll start talking about how the way that cartoon guy has his head all sideways reminds me of Vincent D'Onofrio's Law and Order character.


one word meme

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I stole this meme from Trish, because honestly, I can’t think of anything to blog about.

1. Where is your cell phone? purse
2. Your significant other? Hamburger
3. Your hair? spiky
4. Your mother? bestever
5. Your father? cremated
6. Your favorite thing? books
7. Your dream last night? unaware
8. Your favorite drink? liquid
9. Your dream/goal? travel
10. The room you’re in? cubicle
11. Your hobby? reading
12. Your fear? drowning
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? vacation
14. What you’re not? peppy
15. Muffins? mmmmmmmmmm
16. One of your wish list items? wishless
17. Where you grew up? BFE
18. The last thing you did? #17
19. What are you wearing? black
20. Favorite gadget? iPod
21. Your pets? Elmo
22. Your computer? Dude…
23. Your mood? grumpy
24. Missing someone? no
25. Your car? Honda
26. Something you’re not wearing? tiara
27. Favorite store? B&N
28. Like someone? yes
29. Your favorite color? green
30. When is the last time you laughed? yesterday
31. Last time you cried? movie


We've got lucky punks (aka winners)

Friday, July 18, 2008

I’m sitting here with my favorite morning pal, Mr. Soy Green Tea Latte. We’re getting ready to choose our lucky punks. The names have all been tossed into the candy bucket, and we’re ready to rock ‘n roll. Well, Mr. Latte is. I’m still a little sleepy.

First, let’s review (sorry, I guess you can never completely get away from the inner teacher). I’m going to pick four names. I changed my mind, let's make it five. The first lucky punk will have her choice of five books. So please post and tell us which one you want, so the second lucky punk can then make her choice from what’s left. After she has choosen, #3 makes her selection, ditto for #4, and then the least lucky punk is stuck with what is left. Don’t forget to leave a comment (in order, if that makes sense…although I know it will, because you all are smarter than the average bear) telling us what your choice is! Here are the book choices:

(a last minute addition, which I am currently reading, so you'll have to wait a little longer for this one)

And ta-da! Here are the five names that leaped out of the candy bucket (so much energy for this early in the morning…it’s disgusting, really).






Jessica and Dar, don’t forget to email me your address at fizzybeverage at gmail dot com. Bethany (and you too, Julie), since you seem to win every other time, I already have yours, and Kate, well, I’m sure you can figure out how yours will arrive.

Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to the rest of you punks for playing!


Vacation Spots

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Do you buy books while on vacation/holiday?
Do you have favorite bookstores that you only get to visit while away on a trip?
What/Where are they?

Heck yes! I once went to Seattle, where I bought so many books I had to send them home, because I didn’t have enough room in my luggage. It seemed like every street in Seattle had a bookstore. And a coffee shop. Needless to say, I loved Seattle.

And two years ago, when I was in Portland, I just had to go Powells. Luckily, I had my car on that trip. If I could move anywhere, Portland would be on the shortlist solely because of Powells.

Earlier this year, while in Savannah, I wandered into a few bookstores. And yes, I bought books.

If I’m traveling overseas, I don’t haunt the bookstores. Although in Italy, I bought a book on the Vatican Museums. And a journal. In England, I took pictures of a few bookstores, but I can’t remember going into any. I did go to the British Library. And I met up with a group of BookCrossers at a pub down the street from where I was staying.

The only place I vacation to on a regular basis is Sunriver, Oregon. No bookstore there. But Bend is nearby, and this year I might just have to go exploring for a local bookstore. Oregon doesn’t have sales tax, so I really should take advantage of that. How’s that for an excuse to buy more books?


keyword commentary

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ever since the other night, I’ve been in a snarky mood, so let’s take a look at some of the keyword searches that have led people to my blog lately…

*giveaway – well yes, but did you bother to read my rant about this?
*alexandra fuller – obviously, a discriminating reader
*my boyfriend and I took a trip to Italy – what? We all know Hamburger doesn’t do Europe.
*barbara sjoholm – good timing, I just finished one of her books
*octavian nothing – well, I hope you liked it
*fizzy puns – don’t make fun of me
*used bookstore – yes, it’s doomsday…they’re all going out of business
*montepulciano bell ringer – maybe it was Hamburger
*island – well, that’s pretty broad, and I’m sorry you were sent here. Maybe next time you’ll narrow your search a bit more.
*ink exchange – I prefer Wicked Lovely.
*i’m a litterbug – I am? Oh yeah, I am.
*fizzy marcus drew – sorry, don’t know him.
*man there are mosquitos around here to big enough to rape a chicken – ah yes, from eat pray love…Mack hated that line.
*English connecting words - because I once wrote about connecting words
*secret book of grazia dei rossi – I read this in Italy. Without my boyfriend.
*carbonated soft drink – aka fizzy beverage
*good restaurants for tourists near gard du nord station in paris, france – sorry, I can’t help you, but I can tell you how hard it is to find an atm. Well, I could if I remembered when I posted about it.
*memey – hello? It’s meme, and yes I happen to like them.
*apples are from Kazakhstan reviews – woo-hoo, someone else is interested in the book.
*rosewater and soda bread – another recent read
*funny nicknames for fizzy – dude, I take my names very seriously
*beppe severgnini essay ciao America – plagiarism is illegal and a cop-out. I hope you got an F.
*how to use the word but in a sentance – first, let’s talk about the correct spelling of sentence.

I’m feeling much happier now…that was kinda cathartic.


unspectacularly quirky

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Or is that spectacularly unquirky?

Melissa tagged me for a meme, and here is how it works:

1. Link the person(s) who tagged you
2. Mention the rules on your blog
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours
4. Tag 6 fellow bloggers by linking them
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged

And here we go...

1. I don’t like ice water. I would much rather drink my water (and most other drinks) at room temp…and here in Morro Bay that’s not quite as warm as you might think.
2. I almost always read the end of a book first. I can’t help it…I need to know what’s going to happen.
3. I love to collect bookmarks from places I've travelled to. Except then I forget to use them. My bookmark usually ends up being a Border's receipt..
4. I can’t swim. And yet, I live by the ocean and with a surfer.
5. I love salad, but I hate to make them. They are always so much more interesting (and they taste better) when they come from a salad bar, or Nucci's, or California Pizza Kitchen, or pretty much anywhere other than my kitchen.
6. The shirts in my closet are hung in color groups. Because I have lots of clothes, and it makes it easier to find things. This quirk does not extend to the shoes, which are usually in a jumble on the closet floor.

Wasn't that riveting? Not.

I’m not going to tag anyone in particular, but I know there are people out there who are always on the lookout for a good meme or topic. So go ahead, meme away.


Are you feeling lucky, punk?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Well, are you? I know I am. Because today, I received this in the mail:

Compliments of Doreen Orion, because I posted a trailer for her book on my blog. Thank you Doreen!

And then...icing on the cake. I just found out I won a copy of Geek Love from one of my favorite bloggers, chartroose:

Thanks Char!

Obviously, I've got some good book karma going on right now. Which means it's time to pass along more books to you all. Not only to keep the karma rolling along, but also to keep me from drowning in piles of books. And notice I'm totally avoiding the g and c words here. Thatwouldbeiveawaygayandontestcay, for those of you fluent in pig speak and run-together words. Because I am trying really hard to avoid being picked up by google and syndicated to places I'd rather not talk about.

So, what do I got? I gots (in addition to bad grammar):

Queen of the Road

Pomegranate Soup and Rosewater and Soda Bread (this is a package deal)

The Septembers of Shiraz

Nice To Come Home To

And this is how it's gonna work. You leave me a comment, and if I can find your blog (because I still have some residual bitterness, this is a condition of entry) I will toss your name into the candy bucket sometime Friday morning. Four names will be drawn. #1 gets the book of her (or his) choice from the above list. #2 can choose from what's left. Same for #3. #4 is stuck with what's left. If you don't want it (I have visions of Bethany ending up with Septembers, which I know she already has), you can choose someone else for me to send it to. This can be anyone, even your great-aunt Gertrude. As long as she doesn't live in Australia, because good grief, have you ever paid for postage to Australia? It's expensive and it takes 10,000 years for delivery.


Free at last

This book will no longer be stalking me. And neither will all those people who somehow crawled out of the woodwork to enter the contest.

I drew a winner this morning. Well, random number generator did. It choose #6. Only #6 is not the 6th commentator. In my world, #6 is thekoolaidmom. Woo-hoo!! Only after I re-read her comment I'm not sure if she wanted to win or not. Well, tough. The book is now stalking her.


More crap. But not more books.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

At the risk of pissing a bunch of people off, I'll be weeding out some of the entries for the How to be Lost book giveaway. Because this is my blog, not SweepSheets (I refuse to provide a link). And I can do stuff like that. If you don't like it, don't come back. Although if my suspicions are correct, half of the commentators will never return anyways.

See, I knew I wasn't that popular. I've never received 20+ comments on one of my posts. And I like to click on people's names to check out their blogs. So when clicking on a good half of the commentator's names yielded nothing more than a profile on blogger (many with only 1 view), I thought something was up. And when I checked statcounter this evening, I saw that lots of people came to my blog through SweepSheets. And SweepSheets makes it damn hard to register, so I really don't know how my measly little blog got there in the first place.

I know, I'm sounding pissy and ungrateful. But see, I want my books to go to people I feel I can connect to. Not to someone who set up a blogger profile simply so they could leave a comment and maybe win something (or get credit for entering a contest, or submitting a contest to a website). I certainly don't expect people to read the book immediately or even write a review, but I do expect that they read my blog because they know me, or they're a fellow book blogger, or one of my Slow Trav buds, or even just someone who stumbled here from another blog (really, I like new readers). Not because you googled giveaway (see, statcounter tells me that, too) or got here from SweepShits (typo intentional). That's cheating. I mean, it's not like I'm giving away an iPod. It's a used book, fer gawd's sake.

So, some of you may get screened out this time. Apologies to anyone who gets dumped who didn't come here from that site, but you know, if you stick around long enough, you'll get another chance. And you'll find out I'm really not that mean. Most of the time.


Sunday Salon - Where's Your Book Set? meme

Because I'm not getting much reading done today, and I'm in a lazy mood, I thought I would take Mrs. S at Blue Archipelago up on her offer to do the Where's Your Book Set? meme. Thank you Mrs. S.

1. Title and author of the book

2. What year is the book set in?

3. What happened on this day in that year? Go to google and type in the date ie 13 July 1952 and see if you can find a news item for that day
In Iran, student protesters clashed with government hardliners in Iran's most violent demonstrations in nearly two decades.

4. Where is your book set?
England, specifically the road from London to Canterbury.

5. Have you visited that place before? If yes tell us something about your trip. If no, look the location up on google and tell us an interesting fact about the city/country.
I've been to England twice, although I've never been to Canterbury. My first trip was in college, when I lived in London for three months. I loved it. My second trip was in 2005 and I went with my mom, my aunt and my uncle for 3 weeks. Of all the places I've travelled, London remains my favorite.


The Septembers of Shiraz

The Septembers of Shiraz
Dalia Sofer
August 2007
338 pages

This book is so beautifully written. Filled with vivid descriptions, it was both a pleasure to read and almost too painful to read at the same time.

The Septembers of Shiraz
tells the story of the Amin family in the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution. Father Isaac is a gem dealer, and his success has allowed his family to live in luxury. However, that luxury is now a dangerous thing, and Isaac is soon arrested and imprisoned. Mother Farnaz has become accustomed to the luxuries her husband provides. Farnaz and Isaac have grown distant, and his arrest forces her into uncomfortable situations with prison guards, the household employees, the employees of Isaac's business and his family. Their son, Parviz, is a student in New York, and therefore removed from the drama and danger back home. However, he struggles with his sudden independence (he is no longer receiving the money he needs for rent) and with the fact that he will never be able to return home. Daughter Shirin also faces danger as she deals with her father's absence and becomes friends with a classmate whose father is a member of the Revolutionary Guards.

The book alternates between the four members of the family, describing each of their situations, as well as their thoughts and reactions to their new challenges. Isaac's imprisonment is almost unbearable to read, and Shirin's choices also made my stomach clench. Parviz's chapters were quite melancholy, as he struggles to find himself in New York. Farnaz's character was a bit distant and difficult to connect to, although that is an appropriate reflection of her relationship with Isaac. I loved reading this book, but I had to put the book down for a few days. I was afraid of the direction the story was taking. Yet when I picked it back up this afternoon, I read non-stop to the end.

Dalia Sofer's own family fled Iran when she was ten. After reading the author interview at the end, it is apparent that much of this novel is drawn from her family's experiences. Which would account for the incredible detail of the book.

If you are at all interested in reading about Iran, I would highly recommend this book. Although it can be difficult to read at times, it is well worth it.


Crap. And a giveaway.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Lately, this book has been stalking me:

It accosted me in the bookstore. A couple of times. Not wanting to be rude, I read the back cover. A couple of times. I even thought it sounded interesting. So I mooched it.

Then last weekend when I was dusting, I found it tucked away on a shelf. (This is the "crap" part of the story, because that's what I said.) Evidently, I bought it a few years ago and then forgot about it. And really, I do dust on a regular basis...I just don't always pay attention to what I'm dusting. I guess there's a lesson in there.

Meanwhile, the BookMooch copy arrived in the mail. And tonight, it seemed like the book to start. Except after two pages, I had a feeling of deja vu. I read a couple more pages, and the feeling persisted. I skipped to the middle and skimmed a few pages. Then I read the end just to be sure. Dammit, I've already read the book. Why do I have two copies of a book I've read??? Why did I read the back cover multiple times in the last few months and not remember I've already read the book??? Why, why, why???

So, the one copy is going back on BookMooch, and the other copy is fair game. Are you interested? If so, leave me a comment and I'll pick a winner on Monday morning. Just make sure you don't already have a copy, because this is a sneaky book.

**It's over, people...comments are closed.


I'm wicked spiffy

I'm feeling pretty special. Yesterday, two of my favorite bloggers bestowed upon me these cool awards:

This is the Arte y pico award. Isn't it purty? Bethany awarded me this, because she thinks I'm spiffy. Which cracks me up, because I actually use that word in conversation. Bethany and I recently bonded over blog re-models and vampire books. And she has an incredible knack for winning most of my give-aways. I prefer to think that she really does like me, and she's not just sucking up for the free books. Please don't disillusion me.

And this bad boy is the Blogging Excellence award. Like chartroose, I've drooled over this baby and she is way cool (not to mention spiffy) for passing it on to me. She thinks I'm "wickedly smart, wickedly funny and wickedly cool." Boy do I have her fooled. However, I'm keeping the award.

Seriously guys, you both made my day (I would have squealed with excitement, but I was stealthily reading blogs while at work...and it's pretty hard to stealthily squeal).

Thank you.


And now, it's time to share the joy. Because that's what these blog awards are all about (well, that and the warm fuzzies we all get from staring at them after we sneak them into our sidebars).

First up, the beautiful Arte y pico:

I would like to pass this onto:

*Dewey at The Hidden Side of a Leaf: who is probably oblivious to the fact that I read her blog, because I hardly ever comment. But I'm seriously in awe of her ideas...especially Weekly Geeks and the 24 hour Read-a-Thon. Someday, I'll even participate.

*Eva: who is also probably oblivious to my readership. Really, I need to comment more. I watched Eva participate in the read-a-thon as both a reader and a cheerleader and she was amazing. Eva is a smart cookie who writes wonderful reviews and other posts. Although I'm a little intimidated by the fact that she reads The Economist.

*thekoolaidmom is the most recent addition to the list of blogs I subscribe to. I love her style, and yesterday's post is a great example of why.

*Jerry, a fellow travel junkie, blogs every single day about a variety of topics...recipes, travel, snarky commentary, quizzes. I don't know how he does it, but I hope he doesn't stop!

*chartroose: Back atcha...I think you're pretty darn smart, funny and cool, too. Plus, that header never fails to make me smile. You can stalk me any day. Just don't touch my TBR pile.

Moving on, let's share some Blogging Excellence love with:

*Lisa at Books on the Brain: Not only because we were separated at birth, but because she's done some amazing author interviews and guest posts. I'm pretty fond of all her other posts, too. I'm currently in withdrawals, because she's on vacation. The nerve.

*Trish of Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'? She taught me about Google Reader. I like her for more than just that, but for her post on Google Reader she deserves this award. Although the ice cream post was pretty darn good, too. Now that she's married, I think her posting has dropped off a bit. Slacker.

*Melissa hosted the Expanding Horizons Challenge last year. I don't do many reading challenges, but that one inspired me. Thanks again, Melissa.

*Natasha of Maw Books: Natasha has an awesome blog. She puts a lot of thought into her posts (this is an excellent example) and her Stephenie Meyer giveaway was amazing. I don't know how she survived.

*Bethany: Best. Commentator. Ever.


Memoirs of 5 People Hamlet Meets on a Small Island

Friday, July 11, 2008

This list is making the rounds...I took it from Care. Apparently the average adult has only read 6 of these (but doesn't the average person only read 6 books a year? It's kinda suspicious that the numbers are the same).

The instructions:
Look at the list and bold those you have read, italicize those you intend to read and underline the books you love.

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (I’ve read all but the last one...and if I get a point for 5 People, blah, blah, blah, then I get a point for this!)
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible (I took the Bible as Literature in college...so I'm giving myself 1/2 a point)
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. 1984 - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare (the complete works?!? are you joking?!?)
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood - this is the last book I read!!!
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52. Dune - Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy (obscure is right...never heard of him)
68. Bridget Jones’ Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell (because I've started it twice)
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom (and for the record, I loathe this book)
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl (but I've seen the movie - both versions!)
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I can't keep the Brontes and Austen straight...I know I've read some (back in high school), but honestly, I can't remember which. And the movies just confuse me more. So without them, my total is 40 1/2. It's a weird list...why do they have the complete works of Shakespeare, and then Hamlet listed?



Thursday, July 10, 2008

What would you do if, all of a sudden, your favorite source of books was unavailable?

Whether it’s a local book shop, your town library, or an internet shop … what would you do if, suddenly, they were out of business? Devastatingly, and with no warning? Where would you go for books instead? What would you do? If it was a local business would you try to help out the owners? Would you just calmly start buying from some other store? Visit the library in the next town instead? Would it be devastating? Or just a blip in your reading habit?

Thanks to our local Borders and Barnes and Nobles, the internet versions of B&N and Powells and occasionally Amazon, Bookmooch, Paper Back Swap and my TBR pile, I think I’d be okay. Because there would have to be a catastrophe of epic proportions to wipe out all of those sources. And if that happened, I probably wouldn’t be around, either. Of course, I’d be sad if something happened to one of these places, but I’d adapt. I’m kind of used to it.

My towns have seen lots of bookstores come and go. And I say towns because Morro Bay currently has no bookstore. The horror! It used to have the very cool Patronik’s, but they closed about 10 years ago. Oh wait, there is a bookstore, but it’s one of those new age-y, woo-woo places. So I do my book shopping in San Luis Obispo. Which used to have the also very cool Earthling bookstore. It closed when I was in college, though. Then Barnes and Noble came to town, and life was good. And then Borders arrived a few years ago, and life was even better. Then the used book store closed up, which was a bummer, until I discovered Powells buys used books on-line and pays the shipping. There is still one little itty-bitty independent bookstore in town, but it’s very tiny, so I’m very sorry little independent, but I can’t shop at your store. I split my in-person book buying between Borders and B&N, depending on what side of town I’m on, and what coupons I have. If something happened to one of them, I’d just spend all my time at the other.

If I lived in Portland and something happened to Powell’s, then I would be devastated. Because that is one seriously cool bookstore. Their on-line presence is pretty nifty, too, except they ship by slow boat. So I order a lot from B&N, because I’m a geek and I have their membership card plus their mastercard to get extra money off. And their free shipping rocks.

Then there are Bookmooch and PBS, two on-line sites for swapping books which give me even more options. And I guess I could drag myself into our local library, even though it doesn’t give me the warm fuzzies. Or I could read the books I have at home. That could keep me busy for maybe a year.

So I guess I’m saying I’ve got options. Now if the internet suddenly collapsed, that would be a whole ‘nother story…


Just shoot me now

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

So I've mentioned before that I was at a work conference last month. The first day featured two key note speakers in the morning. Very smart, well-respected individuals. Although I'd never heard of them...but then, what do I know?

The audience gobbled up the presentations. During the question and answer period everyone was all "that was just the most inspiring speech, blah, blah, blah, kiss, kiss, kiss." Except for me. I've never doodled over my notes so much as I did that day. I have a whole page covered with swirls and flowers and mazes. But I had to write down this line, which one of the speakers had up on PowerPoint:

"Many efficacy-tested interventions found ineffective
-when standing alone
-when taken to scale"

Good grief! And yes, if I stop and think about it, I can figure out what it means. Sort of. But hello?? People don't talk like this in the real world. At least my people don't.


The Reincarnationist

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Reincarnationist
M.J. Rose
September 2007
458 pages

This was another recent read that was a bit of a disappointment. Oh sure, I enjoyed the story. It just didn't quite live up to all the hype. Like I mentioned previously, it was faintly reminiscent of The Da Vinci Code. I think it was all those Roman churches and temples.

Josh Ryder was a photojournalist on assignment in Rome when he became the victim of a suicide bomber. After the explosion, Josh began to experience the memories of an ancient Roman priest. Unsure of what is happening to him, Josh quits his job and joins the Phoenix Foundation, a group who does past life regressions with children.

A year later, Josh finds himself back in Rome with a colleague, to explore the recently discovered burial site of a Vestal Virgin. As his ancient memories intensify, Josh feels compelled to protect the Vestal Virgin, Sabina. Unfortunately, the bad guys are after the treasure Sabina was buried with, and Josh suddenly finds himself in middle of murder and mayhem. And flashbacks to ancient Rome.

I will say that this book has The Da Vinci Code beat. The reincarnation stuff (and I say stuff because I got lost a few times) adds an interesting twist, although it does get a bit heavy. And the end left me a bit empty. I needed a bit more resolution (or follow through, or something) for some of the characters.

Still, I liked the story. But it's not going to stick with me.


We got winners

Monday, July 07, 2008

Well, the early bird got the worm. Or, in this case, the night owl got the books. Or, maybe it’s just the fact that we both live in the Pacific time zone. Or maybe she's the only one who likes what I read. Whatever the case, Bethany scored herself some new (to her) books. She’s the proud winner (and actually, the only entrant) for the Octavian Nothing and Lapland books giveaways. If the rest of you don’t get on the ball (or conform to Bethany and my reading tastes), I’m just going to start sending her all of my books.

Now, for The Sugar Queen. Despite the fact that I’m not a Twizzler fan, Julie will be the next reader of this wonderful little book. Yay Julie!

Congratulations to the winners!


The Sunday Salon: lotsa Lapland (and rewards)

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Last Sunday I had just started reading The Palace of the Snow Queen. And while initially I found it quite interesting, it started to lag around the halfway point. So this week I took a break from it and read The Sugar Queen and Nice to Come Home To. Then I returned to Lapland with a different book, Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name.

Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name
Vendela Vida
January 2007
226 pages

Publisher Comments (from Powells.com):

On the day of her father's funeral, twenty-eight-year-old Clarissa Iverton discovers that he wasn't her biological father after all. Her mother disappeared fourteen years earlier, and now Clarissa is alone and adrift. The one person she feels she can trust, her fiancé , Pankaj, has just revealed a terrible and life-changing secret to her. In the cycle of a day, all the truths in Clarissa's world become myths and rumors, and she is catapulted out of the life she knew.

She finds her birth certificate, which leads her from New York to Helsinki, and then north of the Arctic Circle, to mystical Lapland, where she believes she'll meet her real father. There, under the northern lights of a sunless winter, Clarissa comes to know the Sami, the indigenous population, and seeks out a local priest, the one man who may hold the key to her origins. Along her travels she meets an elderly Sami healer named Anna Kristine, who has her own secrets, and a handsome young reindeer herder named Henrik, who accompanies Clarissa to a hotel made of ice. There she is confronted with the truth about her mother's past and finally must make a decision about how — and where — to live the rest of her life.

The end was interesting. It brings into question whether it's okay to abandon your past for the sake of your future...and whether the decision is still okay if you are affecting the lives of others. Clarissa does not like the choices her mother made, yet she does something similar at the end of the book. Her justification is both similar and different, and gives the reader something to chew on.

This book ended up being a great companion to The Palace of the Snow Queen. After reading about the Icehotel, and Kiruna, and the Sami, it was interesting to see them show up in this novel. It helped to give the book a bit more context. So today, I picked The Palace of the Snow Queen back up and finished it.

The Palace of the Snow Queen
Barbara Sjoholm
311 pages

Publisher Comments (again, from Powells.com):
Barbara Sjoholm's moving travel narrative takes readers on a personal journey through the icy landscape of Lapland.

A frequent traveler to Northern Europe, Barbara Sjoholm set off one winter to explore a region that had long intrigued her. Sjoholm first travels to Kiruna, Sweden, to see the Ice Hotel under construction and to meet the ice artists who make its rooms into environmental art. Traveling to the North Cape, she encounters increasing darkness and cold, but also radiant light over the mountains and snow fields. She crosses the Finnmark Plateau by dogsled, attends a Sami film festival (with an outdoor ice screen), and visits Santa's Post Office in Finland.

Over the course of three winters, Sjoholm unearths the region's rich history, including the culture of the Sami. As Sjoholm becomes more familiar with Kiruna, she writes of the changes occurring in northern Scandinavia and contemplates the tensions between tourism, the expansion of mining and development of the Ice Hotel, and age-old patterns of land use, the Sami's struggle to maintain their reindeer grazing lands and migration routes.

The Palace of the Snow Queen, Sjoholm relates her adventures in the far north, and considers how ice and snow shape our imaginations and create, at a time of global warming, a vision that increasingly draws visitors to Lapland.

Unfortunately, the second half never really imroved enough to grab me. Sjoholm keeps returning the the Icehotel, and one visit was enough for me. She also continues to explore the struggle over land-use. Although she did discuss a few new things, I felt the second half was primarily a re-hash of the first. Despite that, it was an interesting, although not riveting, read. I would recommend reading the first half as a companion read to Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name.

Moving on...

Because last week was Buy A Friend a Book Week, I have a few books to give away (hey, better late than never, eh?). Pop over here for a chance to score an ARC of The Sugar Queen. If you would like a chance at both Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name and The Palace of the Snow Queen (hey, two books for the low, low price of one!), leave a comment here telling me about another book that deals with Lapland or the Sami, or even Sweden, Norway or Finland (somethimes, you gotta work for these free books). And look! Octavian Nothing is still up for grabs. Poor Octavian.

There's only two catches. I'm off work tomorrow and want to get the trip to the post office out of the way, so you need to comment before I drag my butt out of bed tomorrow and read my email. And US and Canadian readers only. Sorry, I love all of you equally, but the post office doesn't.


Nice to Come Home To

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Nice to Come Home To
Rebecca Flowers
321 pages

I’m pretty sure I got sucked into buying this book because something I read, somewhere, compared the author to Marisa de los Santos. Umm, yeah…no. Rebecca is no Marisa. While this wasn’t the worst book I’ve read this year, it wasn’t the best, either.

Pru(dence) Whistler has lost her job. And her boyfriend. And her hopes of having the perfect life (which pretty much consists of a couple of perfect kids and a perfect husband). And let me just say, I couldn’t stand Pru for the first half of the book. Lucky for her, the first half was over fairly quickly. Then the focus seemed to switch to Patsy, Pru’s flaky, free-spirited sister. I can’t say I really cared for Patsy, either. But just when she was getting a bit much, it was Pru’s turn again. And by then, she had softened a bit. She wasn’t quite so desperate to change everyone and everything. And she found new things to focus on (job-wise and man-wise). By the end of the book, things were looking up for everyone.

Melissa recently mentioned how frustrating it is when a book jacket flap talks about something that doesn’t happen until late in the book. I think that was my major frustration with this book. The flap mentions Pru’s dreams of dress shop, and the cover certainly reinforces this. However, she never dreams this. It’s a chance that occurs fairly late in the book. Consequently, I spent most of the book waiting for her to get her shit together and start her business.

So...not a bad book, by any means. Just a bit of a disappointment.

And don't forget to read and comment on this post if you're looking for a chance to be the next reader of The Sugar Queen.


The Sugar Queen - review and giveaway

Friday, July 04, 2008

The Sugar Queen
Sarah Addison Allen
May 2008
276 pages

Last night my current book (The Palace of the Snow Queen) wasn't sounding very appealing, so I moved on to another queen...The Sugar Queen. I've been looking forward to this book ever since I finished the author's first book, Garden Spells.

Josey Cirrini is twenty-seven years old and stuck living at home with her elderly mother. Because Josey was a difficult child, she feels an obligation to stay and care for her mother. Her days are filled with driving her mother to all of her various appointments and social obligations, and raiding her secret closet for romances and sweets. And waiting for the cute mailman.

However, her life is interrupted when Della Lee appears in her closet. Della Lee is running from something...Josey can't really figure her out, because Della Lee is better at bossing Josey around than she is at divulging her own story. Suddenly, Josey finds herself wearing make-up, eating sandwiches instead of sweets, hanging out with her new friend Chloe, and even talking to the cute mailman.

Chloe has her own troubles. She has problems with her boyfriend, and her identity, and books. Her books are one of my favorite parts of this story. Books magically appear for Chloe...the perfect book for everyone situation. Sometimes they even stalk her. I wish I had that problem.

My favorite passage is about books. Chloe is talking to George, the owner of a house Chloe has always loved (because it has a library). George says:

"Books can be possessive, can't they? You're walking around in a bookstore and a certain one will jump out at you, like it had moved there on its own, just to get your attention. Sometimes what's inside will change your life, but sometimes you don't even have to read it. Sometimes it's a comfort just to have a book around. Many of these books haven't even had their spines cracked. 'Why do you buy books you don't even read?' our daughter asks us. That's like asking someone who lives alone why they bought a cat. For company, of course. Here, come here. I want to show you something." He stood and led her to the hallway and opened the coat closet. It was packed, absolutely crammed, with books. "Look at this. Howard, our realtor, told us we had to move all the stacks of books out of the bedrooms and hallway in order to stage the house. He said clutter distracted potential buyers. He called books clutter."

I really enjoyed The Sugar Queen. In fact, I think I liked it more than Garden Spells. It's an adorable little book. And a really quick read. I devoured it in a couple of hours. The chapter title are all names of candies that relate to what is happening in the chapter (Everlasting Gobstoppers, Life Savers, Lemon Drops), but I kept getting so caught up in the story, I'd forget to look at the title of the chapter. I had to go back and see what candies I had missed.

Since my friend Lisa was kind enough to send me her ARC of this book, I'd like to pass it on to someone else. Remember, this is an Advanced Reader Copy, so there are a few typos sprinkled through the book. But if you're interested, please leave a comment telling me your favorite candy and your favorite book (it can be a current favorite or a lifetime favorite). I'll pick a winner from the comments on Monday morning.



Thursday, July 03, 2008

It’s a holiday weekend here in the U.S., so let’s keep today’s question simple–What are you reading? Anything special? Any particularly juicy summer reading?

I am currently working on The Palace of the Snow Queen: Winter Travels in Lapland, by Barbara Sjoholm. I started it when we were having our heat wave, because it sounded cold. And cold sounded really, really appealing right about then.

It’s an interesting book…I’m learning about Lapland and about the Sami. But it’s a little slow, so I’ve been trying to finish it off all week, and I’m not really moving as fast as I’d like. Plus, the heat wave is over, and reading about –40 degree (yes, that’s negative 40) temperatures is a little brutal.

I’m not really sure what I’ll be reading next. Maybe The Sugar Queen.

Or Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, which would continue the Lapland theme.

Or maybe In Arabian Nights, which sounds nice and warm and exotic.

Decisions, decisions.


Octavian Nothing

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Octavian Nothing (or the really long title, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume One: The Pox Party)
M.T. Anderson
September 2006
351 pages

I read about this book over on Dewey’s blog and was intrigued enough to buy it. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it (not holding any punches today, am I?). I had a hard time getting past the language. Written (at least the first part) in the first person in a formal style, it was all I could do to finish the book. Evidently, many people are fond of it (it’s won awards), but this is a teen book filled with words I didn’t know (such as articularities…and okay, I’ll confess I was too lazy to look them up. Except wait…my spell checker doesn’t even recognize articularities, and google was no help. Is it even a word?!?!), and so I just ended up feeling stoopid. Okay, maybe not stupid. But frustrated. And bored. And oh so glad to be finished.

And the big mystery? Not so much a mystery to me. Maybe it’s all those social science and history classes I sat through, but the story didn’t shock me.

However, I’m not going to discuss the story. Because if you plan on reading this book, I’d suggest you don’t read any of the reviews. Or even a synopsis. Okay, read Dewey’s, because she did a good job, and I know there are people out there who will like the book. Maybe.

So having written this insightful and inspiring review (umm, yeah, heavy sarcasm there), is there anyone out there who might want to read this one? Because I’ll send you my copy. Octavian’s feeling a little unloved in my home, so please, do us both a favor and take him off my hands.



Tuesday, July 01, 2008

*cough* *cough*

I feel like I’m working and living in a campground.

While we’ve seen the smoke from the bajillion fires burning in California, today is the first day we can smell it. Even inside our office, which is practically hermetically sealed (in other words, we have no windows that open). Considering how nasty the air quality is here, I can’t imagine what it’s like elsewhere.

So July…welcome, but could you maybe clean up your act a bit so that we have sunny skies instead of smoky skies? Please?

I don’t know about you all, but I can hardly believe it’s July. I mean, it seems like yesterday that I was reading Special Topics in Calamity Physics (that was January) or walking around Savannah (that was April). And whammo, now it’s July…although that means we’re only one month away from the end. That’s both exciting and depressing.

What have I got planned for this month? Well, a trip to Sunriver, Oregon for Hamburger’s family reunion. Which means lots of time to read, the traditional float down the Deschutes River, toodle-ing around the bike paths of Sunriver, and possibly a trip into Bend. Low key, as usual.

It’s also a birthday month….my granny, my mom and HB’s niece. Which involves nothing too exciting, except a trip to Taco Temple.

Bethany mentioned the book blowout over at Blue Archipelago. I’m considering joining, although I don’t know that I’ll read much more than I normally do. Except for that week in Sunriver, when I won’t have internet access (the horror!).

Hamburger and I were toying with the idea of a Mexico vacation in August. But holy guacamole, have you checked out the price of airfare lately? Maybe it’s just our small airport, and the fact that it’s losing one its carriers (AA, you suck, by the way), but $1100 to fly to Mexico (with crappy connections, to boot) seems a bit extreme. So I may be planning a vacation. Or I may not.

So those are my July plans, such as they are. What are you up to?

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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