- Fizzy Thoughts: August 2008

Laboring over books

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Yesterday I decided to reclaim my bookshelves. And the closet in the office.

I have a wonderful bookshelf in our office, but it was over-run with the remnants of my teaching career (which ended 11 years ago) and my one quarter as a grad student (which ended 3 years ago). I claim I'm not a pack rat, but the number of esoteric history books (Fighter Pilots, anyone?), some read, some not, that I was holding on to was a bit ridiculous. I managed to sell some back to Powells, some I offed on BookMooch, and the rest went to Goodwill (my deepest apologies if any of you had a burning desire to read Writing Women's History Since the Renaissance). And then I filled the shelves back up with most of the books that were hiding in various locations throughout the house (such as the above mentioned office closet). I still have some books cowering down in the bedroom that I can either get rid of (meaning I've read them and I have no idea why I still have them) or add to the shelves that still have a bit of room left, but I'm going to worry about that next weekend. Oh, and I just remembered I need to look under my reading chair...I tend to stash books there, too.

My reward for all of this labor? I found the copy of The Book Thief that I knew I had.

Your reward for all this labor? I will give away my copy of The Lace Reader to the person who can come the closest to guessing the number of unread books I still have in my house (this includes the office bookshelf, a few shelves of various sizes in the living room, and the cowering books in the bedroom). I won't be counting the few reference and history books that are left (Queen Isabella and Eleanor of Aquitaine didn't want to leave, and it's kind of hard to evict royalty).

Leave your best guess in the comments before 5pm tomorrow, Pacific Time. If you aren't interested in The Lace Reader, I have a few other books I can offer you, I'm just too lazy to go look at that pile right now.

And honestly? I'm a little scared to count all those books.


Dog Days of Summer meme

Friday, August 29, 2008

Last Friday, my buddy chartroose posted this meme. This Friday, I’m posting it. Because I have nothing better to do.

My uncle once: took me out for Chinese food and told me stories about growing up in Bisbee, Arizona. That was the only time I ever really talked to him one-on-one.

Never in my life: have I had a cavity.

When I was five: I was really a blonde.

High school was: not bad until I returned to teach there. Then it became very bad.

I will never forget: Ask me again when I’m 80. If dementia hasn’t sunk in, I’ll give you an answer then.

Once I met: a man named Jack. I really hate meeting men named Jack…the introductions are so ridiculous.

There’s this girl I know: who is planning to elope for her wedding. Thank god.

Once at a bar: I met Hamburger.

By noon, I’m usually: already digesting my lunch.

Last night: Hamburger and I made plans to go to Lolo’s for dinner tonight.

If I only had: a trust fund.

Next time I go to church: You’ve got to be kidding.

What worries me most: Sorry, I’m more a glass half-full type of gal.

You’ll know I’m lying when: I tell you I went to church.

What I miss most about the 80’s is: my mom making dinner for me.

If I were a character in Shakespeare, I’d be: trying to collect some serious royalties.

A better name for me would be: Kim. Because that’s what people who forget my name usually call me.

I have a hard time understanding: post-modernism

If I ever go back to school: Ummm…been there, done that, dropped out.

You know I like you if: I make sarcastic comments.

Take my advice, never: be a substitute teacher.

My ideal breakfast is: Starbucks

If you visit my hometown, I suggest you: take a good book (that’s if I consider Dufur to be my hometown). If it’s Morro Bay, then bundle up and go to the beach. With a good book.

Why won’t people: stop involving religion in politics.

The world could do without: cell phones. Seriously, we could. Civilization managed to survive thousands of years without ‘em. I’d be willing to bet the world would not end if we did away with cell phones.

I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: have to chew and swallow the cockroach.

My favorite blondes are: Hamburger, although what hair he does have is more of a strawberry blonde color. And chartroose…because who else would change their answers to include moi?

If I do anything well, it’s: to spend an entire day reading.

And, by the way: Happy Friday!



Thursday, August 28, 2008

If you’re anything like me, one of your favorite reasons to read is for the story. Not for the character development and interaction. Not because of the descriptive, emotive powers of the writer. Not because of deep, literary meaning hidden beneath layers of metaphor. (Even though those are all good things.) No … it’s because you want to know what happens next?

Or, um, is it just me?

Oh, I’m so glad you asked, because I was thinking about this last night. Well, not exactly about this particular question, but close. You see, I’m reading Salman Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence. This is my first time reading Rushdie, and so far, I’m not a fan. Because, hello? I’m on page 58 and where is the freakin’ story???

Let me give you an example of why I am struggling…

The emperor Abul-Fath Jalaluddin Muhammad, king of kings, known since his childhood as Akbar, meaning “the great,” and latterly, in spite of the tautology of it, as Akbar the Great, the great great one, great in his greatness, doubly great (yes, yes, I get it, he’s great…let’s move on), so great that the repetition in his title was not only appropriate but necessary in order to express the gloriousness of his glory – the Grand Mughal, the dusty battle-weary, victorious, pensive, incipiently overweight, disenchanted, mustachioed, poetic, oversexed, and absolute emperor, who seemed altogether more magnificent, too world-encompassing, and, in sum, too much to be a single human personage – this all-engulfing flood of a ruler, this swallower of worlds, this many-headed monster who referred to himself in the first person plural – had begun to meditate, during his long, tedious journey home, on which he was accompanied by the heads of his defeated enemies bobbing in their sealed earthen pickle-jars, about the disturbing possibilities of the first person singular – the “I.”
And yes, that was one sentence. To imitate Rushdie, one long, endless, meandering, repetitious, will this ever end, we’re moving into agonizing, you cheated and opened up your thesaurus to find some synonyms, didn’t you, you don’t have to beat me over the head with his greatness, let’s just get to the point, oh my god shoot me now, sentence.

So yes, I’m all about the story. And the characters. And evidently, short sentences.

And now, here’s a question for you…how do you feel about Rushdie?


Kafka on the Shore

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Kafka on the Shore
Haruki Murakami
467 pages

This book is trippy. I really can't think of any other word to describe it. But it's trippy in a good way...I think I've found a new favorite author. Murakami is very readable and he tosses in enough pop culture to make the story amusing (well, at least to me). At the same time, he's like nothing I've ever read before.

This story alternates between two characters. Kafka Tamura is a teenage runaway. Abandoned by his mother at a young age, his father has predicted "someday you will murder your father and be with your mother." The other main character, Mr. Nakata, is an elderly man. Due to a childhood injury, he has limited mental faculties. He can, however, talk to cats.

Kafka and Mr. Nakata's stories are told in alternating chapters. Kafka finds himself living in a library, working for the mysterious Ms. Saeki, who once wrote a song "Kafka on the Shore." Meanwhile, Mr. Nakata has a run-in with a creepy character by the name of Johnnie Walker, after which he sets off on a mysterious journey. To where, he doesn't know. He just feels compelled to head west. Although they never meet, Kafka and Mr. Nakata's stories will eventually intersect.

Along the way, lots of mind-bending stuff happens. There are characters such as Johnnie Walker and Colonel Sanders ("I was toying with the idea of Mickey Mouse, but Disney's particular about the rights to their characters.") There are ghosts - well, not really ghosts. More like people out of place or time. Murakami constantly plays with (and plays with the ideas of) reality and consciousness and memories.

Basically, this book is out there. But it's not so out there that I felt like I was reading some philosophical treatise...which is a good thing, because philosophy and I only get along if Mr. Cliff and his Notes are there to interpret. I read somewhere that this book is a bildungsroman, which I confess to not knowing the meaning of until I looked it up on wikipedia. Bildungsroman is sort of one way to describe it. Or, you can just call it trippy.

Have you reviewed Kafka on the Shore? Leave your link and I'll include it in this post.


I heart Haruki Murakami

Friday, August 22, 2008

I am currently reading Kafka on the Shore. Since I’m on page 183, I’m going to go ahead and say it. I love this book. Yeah, yeah…I know I said that about In the Woods, and then ended up not liking the book, but I said that on page 101, and seeing’s how I’m so much farther along (hey, 82 pages is a big difference), I’m feeling quite confident that this book is the bomb.


I mean, it’s got talking cats. And lots of weird shit happening, like fish rain and people mysteriously blacking out and Johnnie Walker (that dude is seriously whacked, by the way).

I just know I’m going to be seriously bummed when this book is over. So, help me out. Have you ever read Murakami? What else of his should I read?



Thursday, August 21, 2008

Whether you usually read off of your own book pile or from the library shelves NOW, chances are you started off with trips to the library. (There’s no way my parents could otherwise have kept up with my book habit when I was 10.) So … What is your earliest memory of a library? Who took you? Do you have you any funny/odd memories of the library?

When I was in junior high I loved our local library. It was about 1 mile from our house, so I could walk there and back. Most of the walk was four or five very long, straight blocks. I remember walking home and trying to read at the same time.

On a sort of related note...

I was cruising around the internet yesterday and came across SJLibrary.org. In particular, this. And this. Oooh, and this. And this.

Instead, I have this. Could my library be any more boring?


In the Woods

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

In the Woods
Tana French
429 pages

I did not like this book. (However, lots of people have liked it, and if you plan on reading this, you should really ignore this post. Really...go away.)

I started off liking it. I like the descriptive language. I liked the mystery of what happened to the narrator as a child. I liked the interaction between the narrator (Rob Ryan) and his partner Cassie (partner as in police detective partner, not partner as in relationship).

In brief, this is a mystery. Rob and Cassie are investigating the murder of a 12 year old girl. The murder occurs in the woods (gee, what a surprise) outside of Dublin, Ireland. This happens to be the same woods where two of Rob's friends disappeared when he was 12. So not only do we have a modern day murder investigation, there is also the mystery of what really happened that day Rob went into the woods with his friends. Because Rob doesn't remember what happened and no one ever figured it out.

After about 100 pages, I realized the story wasn't really going anywhere. So I started skipping over sections, and before I knew it, I was at the end. And it was still a mystery. So I thought maybe I had missed something, and I went back and skimmed some more. Then I went to Amazon and read some of the reviews, and discovered that I was not alone in wondering what the hell happened to Rob as a child.

See, I like resolution in my books. This book did not have resolution. Oh sure, the modern day mystery was solved (although I've got issues with that, too). But the whole thing about what happened in Rob's childhood, which has received so much hype, and is an issue throughout the book, is never resolved. You think it will be. It tries to happen. There are lots of possibilities, including some ancient sacrificial woo-woo stuff and mysterious sounds and what-the-hell-was-that-creature sightings. But in the end? We're left with bubkes. Squat. Nada.

And I'm not happy about that.


Going to Bend

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Going to Bend
Diane Hammond
March 2005
336 pages

I bought this book in Sunriver, because I'm weird and I like to buy books about places where I'm vacationing. And, as I believe I've mentioned before, Oregon has no sales tax. Which, when you come from the land of 7.75%, is something that can't not be taken advantage of.

Despite the title, this book has nothing to do with Bend. Well, okay, there's a teensy bit at the end about Bend, but that's all. I'm feeling lazy, so let's see what the publisher has to say...

Publisher Comments:
In the small coastal town of Hubbard, Oregon, your man may let you down, your boss may let you down, life may let you down . . . but your best friend never will.

Welcome to Hubbard, where Petie Coolbaugh and Rose Bundy have been best friends since childhood. Now in their early thirties, both are grappling to come to terms with their age and station in life. As they struggle to make ends meet and provide for their children and the good-hearted but unreliable men in their lives, they take jobs cooking for a brand-new upscale restaurant, Souperior's Cafe, starting from scratch every morning to produce gallons of fresh soup from local recipes. The proprietors of the cafe, Nadine and Gordon, are fraternal twins from Los Angeles with adjustments of their own to make, but Rose’s warmth and the quality of the women’s soups quickly make them indispensable despite Petie’s abrupt manner and prickly ways.

The strains of daily life are never far, however, and the past takes its toll on the women. Petie’s childhood as the daughter of the town drunk—a subject she won't talk about—keeps her at a distance from even her best friend, until an unexpected romance threatens to crack her tough exterior. And despite Rose's loving personality, the only man in her life is a loner fisherman who spends only a few months of the year in town.

In this fishing village, friends are for life and love comes in the most unexpected ways. As the novel draws together lovers, husbands, employers, friends, and family, each woman finds possibilities for love and even grace that she had never imagined.
First, let me nit-pick. The cover so does not go with the book. Because Hubbard is not a bright cheery place. It's bleak, and cold, and rainy. People are struggling to make ends meet in a poor fishing town. So the cover does not reflect the mood of this book (at least for me).

Despite that, this was an enjoyable book. Not fantastic (like The Lace Reader), but not a total dog (like In the Woods), either.


why I am not a happy camper

Monday, August 18, 2008

So the other day I posted a picture of mini-me, all decked out in OshKosh overalls and hiking boots, with a backpack almost as big as me. This was me around age 3 or 4, shortly after the family packed it all up and moved to Oregon. From Los Angeles.

I also commented that I blame that experience for my un-love of camping. And yes, I was joking. Kind of.
I used to go camping with Hamburger. Poor Hamburger loves to camp. Softdrink does not. Because I have a deep and abiding love for flush toilets, mattresses, warm showers, and my hairdryer. And these are things that are not always found in campgrounds. They also weren't found in my Oregon. Not that I needed a hairdryer when I was 4. But a flush toilet would have been nice. I really don't remember much of those years, but I do remember playing with my brother's Matchbox cars in the outhouse. Yes, the outhouse. I was serious about the lack of flush toilets. Because this is where I lived...

I kid you not. My parents converted this old barn into living space. And we lived there for a year.

Then we moved into a real house with real toilets. And I have hated camping ever since.


Sunday Salon

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Earlier this week, I was a reading fiend. I finished Going to Bend (which I still need to write a review for), Geek Love and The Lace Reader. Those last two were especially enjoyable. And bonus...I later heard that The Lace Reader is the first of a planned trilogy. I really enjoyed the The Lace Reader's characters and setting, so I'm looking forward to reading more from Brunonia Barry.

After that little mini-marathon I picked up In the Woods, the mystery novel by Tana French that has received quite a bit of favorable press. In the past four days I've read all of 101 pages. I like the story, and the writing style, but it's off to a slow start. I keep hoping for it to pick up, but then I put down the book, so I'm really not giving it much of a chance to pick up, am I?

Today's distractions included two of my current favorite websites, BookMooch and Paperspine, both book related. Another recent diversion (setting up iGoogle pages) provided this literary quote for the day:

"Deprived of meaningful work, men and women lose their reason for existence; they go stark, raving mad."
-Fyodor Dostoevsky

Hmmm. Sorry, Fyodor, but I beg to differ. I could easily stay home and read. Not that I consider my job especially meaningful, but even if it was, I imagine I could easily chuck it for a day home with the books.


for your amusement

Friday, August 15, 2008

I blame my current hatred of camping on this:


Trish is a geek

Okay, not really on the geek part, but I couldn't think of a catchy title. And since I already called her an overachiever today, I figured I might as well continue with the name-calling.

So Ti, Trish and Veronica arm wrestled for Geek Love this morning (okay, not really on that, too...but it sounds better than I drew a name) and Trish muscled her way to the win. Way to go, Trish!

Guess she really wants to read Geek Love, huh?


Book Buzz Meme

Thursday, August 14, 2008

chartroose has tagged me. Of course, she had to go and tag me for something that I actually had to think about. And that introduces me to new books. And that makes my TBR tower (it's officially moved past pile and into tower) even more ginormous. That chartroose...she's such a meanie.

Here's how it works...

I am going to list three categories of books. 3 MUST Read Books, 3 Keep Your Eyes on These, and 3 Look For These Soon. Keeping with the theme, I am going to tag at least 3 bloggers. They should put these same lists on their blog but SUBTRACT one book from each list and ADD one of their own. Then they should tag at least 3 more bloggers. It will be fun to see how the lists change as they go around the blogosphere. Please come back to this post and leave a comment so I can see how the lists are changing. Since this is Book Buzz…please keep your lists to titles released in 2007-2009.

Stars next to my additions …

3 MUST Read Books:
When We Were Romans by Matthew Kneale
We Disappear by Scott Heim
*The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

3 Keep Your Eyes on These:
The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
*The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

3 Look For These Soon:
Songs for the Missing by Stewart O’Nan
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
*In Hovering Flight by Joyce Hinnefeld

Let’s see, who to tag?? Let’s go with…

Lisa of Books on the Brain and TLC Book Tours
Trish of Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’? and TLC Book Tours
Jessica over at Both Eyes Book Blog (turnabout and all that!)

Of course, if I didn't tag you, and you want to play, by all means...join in!


Gold Medal Reading

You, um, may have noticed that the Olympics are going on right now, so that’s the genesis of this week’s question, in two parts:

· Do you or have you ever read books about the Olympics? About sports in general?
· Fictional ones? Or non-fiction? Or both?

And, Second:
· Do you consider yourself a sports fan?
· Because, of course, if you’re a rabid fan and read about sports constantly, there’s a logic there; if you hate sports and never read anything sports-related, that, too … but you don’t have to love sports to enjoy a good sports story.
· (Or a good sports movie, for that matter. Feel free to expand this into a discussion about “Friday Night Lights” or “The Natural” or whatever…)

First, no. Because reading about sports is just a little to close to sport, and god forbid I should have anything to do with exercise.

Okay, I lie. I read The Brothers K. And really, it’s amazing that I even finished, considering there was baseball involved. And out of all the sports, I like baseball the least. In fact, Hamburger and I had this conversation last night while he paused briefly in his channel surfing to check out a baseball game:
HB: Did you know they play over 100 games in a baseball season? That’s a lot of games. How do they do that?
SD: Well, look at them. They’re not even moving. How hard can it be?

Second, no. I only watch sports because I ceded the remote control to Hamburger long ago. I’ve got my books, he’s got the tv. Hamburger is a football fan (unfortunately, he’s a life-long Raiders fan, poor boy). Since it’s impossible to have football on without watching at least some of it (why do men yell during football games?), I finally picked a team of my own in order to make it a little more interesting. Go Packers! Why the Packers? Well, they wear green, they always looked like they were having fun, they do the Lambeau Leap, and it’s pretty much insanity to play football in winter in Wisconsin. And the fans wear cheeseheads. What’s not to like?

We (remember, that’s Hamburger and me, the captive audience) also watch basketball, and I can follow that game because I played when I was in junior high. And the Tour de France. Sort of. Because we watched the first half this year, then we went to Oregon and forgot all about it.

We don’t watch the Olympics. And honestly, I can’t say I miss it.

As far as sports movies go, The Waterboy is a particular favorite of the Hamburger/Softdrink household.


More unspectacular quirkiness

Jessica tagged me for the 6 quirky things meme. I've already done this, but hey, I'll try again. But only because Jessica said she loved my blog.

1. I wear one contact lens.
2. My fingers turn purple.
3. I really do answer to Softdrink. And Juice, although only my niece calls me that anymore.
4. I don't do windows. Seriously, my house is clean, except for the windows.
5. I can curl my tongue. (But I can't wiggle my ears.)
6. I have the text message feature on my cell phone disabled.

Okay, so I don't think #6 is quirky, but people sure do give me strange looks when I admit it...


The Lace Reader

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Brunonia Barry
385 pages

This book rocks. It's got everything I love in a book. A different story, a hint of magic, great characters, some mystery, some romance, and a cool setting with lots of history. And a fantastic ending. Without a doubt, this is going onto the list of favorites for the year.

Towner Whitney returns home to Salem, Massachusetts. It's a difficult return...she is recovering from a hysterectomy, her beloved great-aunt is missing, and she is faced with the tragedy of her own past...her twin's suicide. Toss in some witches, an Underground Railroad for abused women, Towner's abusive-evangelist uncle, a history of mental instability and hallucinations, and complicated family dynamics to round out the story. And Rafferty, the local detective who is searching for a missing girl. However, Towner is admittedly a liar, so who knows what is real.

The story alternates between Towner's first person point of view and Rafferty's perspective. And it does it so seamlessly I never even realized the point of view had changed. I was in the shower, thinking about what I had read so far, when all of a sudden I thought, hey...when did that happen! Some people sing in the shower, but I can't carry a tune, so I think about books.

There's a lot going on in the book, but it's still an easy, enjoyable read. It reminds me a bit of The Thirteenth Tale in that it's got that gothic, what the heck is happening here feel to it. Really, you should read it. But you're going to have to find your own copy because according to her website, the author will be in San Jose at the Book Group Expo this October. Woo-hoo!


Geek Love

geek love

Geek Love

Katherine Dunn


348 pages



I've been home for the last two days with an upset stomach, and this wasn't perhaps the wisest of reading choices for a queasy tummy.  But I've finished the book (and oddly enough, my stomach is feeling better, too) and it's incredible weirdness has prompted me to delay writing reviews of the two books I read prior (The (amazing) Lace Reader and Going to Bend) in order to get this one posted.

So it's official.  This is the weirdest book I've ever read.  Weirder even than The Roaches Have No King, and I thought that would be a hard book to replace.  However, when I say weird, I don't mean weird bad.  I mean weird as in I can't believe people actually think up story lines like this.  And then make money.  And then get nominated for the National Book Award.

Geek Love is about the Binewski family.  Father Al owns a carnival, and in an attempt to create the most fabulous sideshow acts ever, his wife Lil (who started her carnival career as a geek (and make sure you read the whole first paragraph of that link)) corrupts each of her pregnancies with all sorts of toxic stuff (drugs, radioisotopes) in hope of giving birth to a freak.  And it works...first there is Arturo, who has flippers instead of limbs, then Elly and Iphy, Siamese twins, and Oly (the narrator), who although an albino and hunchbacked, isn't quite freakish enough for sideshow status.  The baby, Chick, appears distressingly normal until they figure out his mind can control objects.

So there you have it.  The happy family Binewski, who feel sorry for the norms of the world.  If that's not weird enough for you, there's more.  Charismatic Arturo becomes a cult figure, and people flock to the carnival to hear him speak and join his followers, the Arturans, who believe true happiness is obtained by lopping off extraneous body parts.  Al turns to drink as Arturo begins to take control of the carnival and the family and Lil's mind is eaten up by all the drugs.  The twins discover sex, and Oly is torn by her love for everyone.  Well, almost everyone...she's not too fond of Elly.  Not too far off from regular family drama...because despite all the twisted genetic mutations, this is still a family.

But wait, there's even more.  Because all that is the past.  Almost 20 years later, Oly, our narrator, is living in Portland, working at a radio station, when she is made aware of Miss Lick, a rich businesswoman who apparently pays for corrective surgery.  Suspicious of her motives, Oly befriends the woman in order to undercover her secrets.  As we slowly discover Miss Lick's intents, Oly takes us back in time to the train wreck that the Binewski family has become.

So what happens?  Well, if you plan to read the book, DO NOT READ THE NEXT PARAGRAPH!!  Because I'm about to give away the ending...you've been warned.


First, Chick blows up the carnival, which includes himself and most of his family.  I believe he finally saw Artie for the self-absorbed, ruthless person he was.  And Chick couldn't live with himself for allowing Artie to hurt people.  Only Oly and Lil survive the firestorm that Chick induced.  And I have to confess, I was glad to see Artie go.  Then, back in the present, Oly kills Miss Lick.  Because Miss Lick had offered money to Miranda to have her tail removed.  Yes, Miranda.  Oly's secret daughter, raised by nuns in order to save her from her father (wanna guess who?  although I know you would never guess how).  Miranda appears normal, except for her tail.  And Oly would rather die than let Miss Lick finance the removal of that tail...because that tail is special and beautiful to Oly.  And Miss Lick has a habit of disfiguring people so that they are no longer attractive and are forced to use their brains instead of their appearance.  Carrie, who is currently reading this book, called Miss Lick freaky, and I think she's right.  She ends up being the real freak in the book.


Okay, it's safe to read again.  I'm done with the spoilers.  I added them because they are further examples  of just how far out there this book goes.  And I'm sure there are people out there who don't want to read the book, but still want to know what happens (it's okay, I'm that way with scary movies).  The first ending came as a total surprise, although when I think about, it's pretty much what had to happen.  And the second ending really isn't much of a surprise, because it's hinted at throughout the book.

Obviously, this is not a book for everyone.  It's blunt, gross, and appalling, although not without moments of tenderness.  And that's just the story.  The language is also blunt, gross and appalling.  Luckily, I'm okay with that.  If you can get past the shock of the story, there are messages to be found.  About family, and mother love, and learning to live with and be comfortable with your body.

chartroose hit the nail on the head when she called this book unique.  And I owe her a big thanks for sending it my way.  Because I happen to like weird and unique.  If you, too, are into weird and unique (and don't mind shocking) and would like to read this, I'll send it your way.  Just let me know in the comments by Friday morning.  If there are more than one of you, I'll draw names.


geek fact

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I've always offered up The Roaches Have No King as the weirdest book I've ever read. I think Geek Love will end up knocking Roaches off its pedestal. I'm halfway through, and let me just say, this is weird shit. For example...

When the work geek is used in this book, it's not referring to nerds. According to wikipedia, the term formerly referred "to a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken, bat, snake or bugs."

All together now...eeeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.


Teaser Tuesdays


I've been tagged by Lisa, and since I'm spending the day at home reading (and sleeping...I slept 14 hours last night!), it's a very appropriate meme.

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!

I'm currently reading The Lace Reader, by Brunonia Barry, a book that is getting all sorts of attention around the blogosphere.  And rightly so.

From p. 243:

"I'm trying to remember what happened that winter, but I can't.  Most of the memory has been lost to the shock therapy."

the lace reader


Sunday Salon

Sunday, August 10, 2008


I've been in a bit of a reading slump lately.  Oh, I'm still reading, but nothing has been as good as I hoped for.  This week I read Breaking Dawn, which I enjoyed, but I have to admit, I'm glad the whole Twilight series is over.  And I'm reluctant to write a review, because I don't want to give anything away, but I also don't want to have to watch what I say.  In other words, I'm too lazy to write a well-thought-out review.  In fact, I think I'll just link to Natasha's review, because she did a wonderful job, I agree with her (except for the whole I'd've debate...I happen to like it when writers write how people speak) and I left a comment on the post.  Except there are spoilers, so consider yourself warned.

Today, I finally finished When You Are Engulfed In Flames.  Which should do it for me and David Sedaris.  My write-up of that book is so pathetic, I wouldn't even bother to click on the link.

And now I'm off to figure out what to read next.  I have piles of books on my desk, so there are plenty of options.  Unfortunately, I don't hear any of them calling my name.  At this point, I'd be happy if I could get a "Yo, read me."


When You Are Engulfed In Flames



When You Are Engulfed In Flames

David Sedaris

June 2008

323 pages


My goal for today was to finish this book, which I did, thank goodness, because I gave it away to bethany over 2 weeks ago.  Then I forgot to take it on vacation with me, then I read Breaking Dawn, so I was feeling like quite the flake.  This is actually a quick read, which is a good thing, because I sat down with it this afternoon and then fell asleep.  For two hours. Despite the interruption, I managed to finish.


I've read other Sedaris books...Me Talk Pretty One Day and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.  I still find him sarcastically funny, but the attraction has waned.  I laughed out loud at Me Talk Pretty One Day.  I think I chuckled a few times during DYFICandD.  This time, I took a nap.  My favorite essay was the longer contribution that ended the book...
Smoking Section.  I enjoyed Sedaris' quips about smoking, and life in Japan.  But I've discovered I'm really not a die-hard fan of humorous essays.  In fact, I'm stumped for things to write about, so this write-up is over.


me, myself and I

Saturday, August 09, 2008

I saw this over at Palma's blog. Do you ever wonder how many of you there are?

LogoThere are
people with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

There are 216,414 people in the U.S. with the first name Jill. Statistically, it's the 298th most popular first name.

As for my last name, there are 106,683 people in the U.S. with my last name. Statistically, it's the 306th most popular last name.

I think I'll just stick with softdrink.


Meme Me

Friday, August 08, 2008

I lifted this from Trisha. It’s Friday, and I’m in full on avoidance mode…

1. Do you like blue cheese? If it’s crumbled in a salad, yes.
2. Have you ever smoked a cigarette? A clove cigarette in high school. Did I just date myself?
3. Do you own a gun? Only the squirt variety.
4. What flavor do you add to your drink at Sonic? I don’t. In fact, I went to Sonic for the very first time when we were in Oregon last week. I must say, In ‘n Out is much better.
5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? No.
6. Do you like hot-dogs? About once a year.
7. Favorite Christmas Song? The Sarah McLachlan song that was on the Starbucks Christmas CD last year. Or maybe it was the year before. I can’t remember, I’m so lame.
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Soy green tea latte.
9. Can you do push-ups? Only the down part.
10. What’s your favorite meal? Meal? I don’t know. It would involve pasta, though. And probably no meat.
11. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry? My row of diamond earrings that I wear.
12. Favorite hobby? Reading. Duh.
13. Do you work with people who idolize you? Hah. Although I did get a nice compliment this morning that involved the word dynamite.
14. Name a trait that you hate about yourself? I have no will power.
(I have no idea where #15 went)
16. Middle name? Lora.
17. Name 3 thoughts at this moment: This day is never going to end. I wish it was 5:30. Is it lunchtime yet?
18. Name 3 things you bought yesterday: Cinnamon. Dolce. Latte.
19. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink? Water, diet pepsi, green tea lattes.
20. Current worry right now? My next vacation is much too far away.
21. Current hate right now? The moron who gave the go ahead to pave the road I drive home on. At 5:30, which is when I (and a lot of other people) drive home.
22. Favorite place to be? On vacation.
23. How did you bring in New Years? Sleeping.
24. Favorite place to go? England.
25. Name three people who will complete this? Heck if I know.
26. Whose answer do you want to read the most? Anyone who pops up in my Google Reader. Come on people…entertain me!
27. What color shirt are you wearing? White.
28. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? I’m more of a cotton gal.
29. Can you whistle? Barely.
30. Favorite color(s)? Green.
31. Would you be a pirate? Ahoy.
32. What songs do you sing in the shower? I don’t sing, and the shower appreciates it.
33. Favorite girl’s name? Emma.
34. Favorite boy’s name? Hamburger, ‘cause he’s my favorite boy.
35. What’s in your pocket right now? Nuthin.
36. Last thing that made you laugh? Hamburger, when he woke up and looked at the clock this morning and said, oops.
37. Bed sheets as a child? Mighty Mouse.
38. Worst injury you’ve ever had? Either the bruised tailbone from falling down the stairs in Italy, or the gash on my chin from fainting in the shower.
39. Do you love where you live? The house? It’s okay.
40. How many tv’s are in your house? One.
41. Who is your loudest friend? I don’t know.
42. How many dogs do you have? None
43. Does someone have a crush on you? I doubt it.
(hmmm, #44 is gone, too...I'll blame it on Trisha...let's see if she notices)
45. What is your favorite book? I couldn’t pick just one.
46. What is your favorite candy? Dark chocolate M&M’s.
47. What is your favorite sports team? Green Bay Packers (but let’s not talk about Favre)
48. What song do you want played at your funeral? Well isn’t that a depressing question.
49. What were you doing at 12 AM last night? Sleeping.
50. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up this morning? Crap. I’m going to be late. Again.


The Last Time I Was Me

The Last Time I Was Me
Cathy Lamb
404 pages

In direct contrast to The Red Scarf, I didn’t like the first half of this book. But the second half? Well, it was worth it to get to the trial scene. Actually, in retrospect, I should have just read the trial scene and called it good.

Jeanne, the main character of The Last Time I Was Me, has issues. Anger issues. Grief issues. Alcohol issues. Food issues. I had issues, too. Issues with the characters. Issues with the similarities to Julia’s Chocolates, the author’s previous book. Issues with the over-the-top female characters and the under-developed (and that is not a reference to Slick Dick and the trial scene) male characters.

So…Jeanne manages to deal with her issues, mostly in the second half of the book. She goes to anger management class, although I must say the therapist seems like a total whacko. She stops drinking all on her own. She admits at the end she is eating…this part really bugged me, because we are constantly reminded about how skinny she is. Even Jeanne knows how skinny she is. This is in contrast to Julia, the main character in Julia’s Chocolates, who is constantly thinking about her weight and had an ex who harped on her about it. It’s like the author had to try to find the exact opposite for her next main character, and sorry, but that just annoyed me. Actually, most of the characters annoyed me. The characters actions all seemed a bit too much. Not that books have to be believable. I mean, I just read Breaking Dawn. But I don’t like the extremes to which most of them went.

Although okay, I’m shallow enough to admit liking the trial scene. Because Jeanne got so pissed at her cheating boyfriend that she booby trapped his condoms with peanut oil. To which he is allergic. The nimrod was so outraged he sued for 10 million dollars. See what I mean about over the top? Anyways, the testimony at the trail did make me laugh. But that was about all this book did for me. Sorry, Cathy, but I’m over you.


Other Worlds

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Are there any particular worlds in books where you’d like to live?
Or where you certainly would NOT want to live?
What about authors? If you were a character, who would you trust to write your life?

I could move to Sarah Addison Allen’s world. Especially the one where books magically appear to fit your mood or your need. She adds just a hint of magic to her books. The older I get the more reality I seem to want. As a teenager, I loved science fantasy and wanted to live with dragons (Anne McCaffrey’s Pern) or with super-talented Celtics (Patricia Kennealy’s Keltia) or in any number of other cool sounding places. Today, I just want the magic books.

I’d pass on China Mieville’s King Rat world. Those urban fantasy worlds are just a little too gritty. While I certainly admire the imagination that goes into their creation, I’m not packing up to move there. Same goes for Harry Potter. I don’t want the hassle of Voldemort. And those jellybeans…ugh. With my luck, I’d eat the vomit one. Also, I’m not going anywhere where my hairdryer and curling iron don’t work, so that rules out most historical fiction. Unless it’s a magical historical fiction place where every day is a good hair day.

As far as someone writing my life? Since I’m not about the drama and I want the happily ever after, I’m going to stick with Sarah Addison Allen. Like I said, I just want the magic books. And electricity.



Rebecca Scott
322 pages

Have I ever mentioned I’m not a science person? Well, I’m not. It was my least favorite subject…because I think it’s boring and I don’t understand most of it. And maybe just a little bit because all of my high school science teachers were scary.

I bring this up (my disinterest in science, not the scary teachers part) because there are whole sections of Ghostwalk about optics and light and neuroscience and metaphysics, whateverthehell that is. I feel obligated to offer that up, you know, as sort of a public service announcement. Because reading about that stuff made me want to poke myself in the eye. Oh wait no. There was a very graphic description of Isaac Newton doing that very same thing (seriously…he poked himself in the eye with a wooden needle thingy to see how it affected his vision…I told you scientists were scary!!). Since I’m no Isaac Newton, for a variety of reasons, there was no poking of the eye. There were, however, naps.

Anyhoosie, besides a bunch of science-y stuff, this book is also about a mystery. See, there’s this writer. She’s writing a book on Isaac Newton the eye-poker and his alchemy habit. Then she dies. Mysteriously. So her son hires his former lover to finish the book. Said former lover is also the narrator. She uncovers secrets, falls back into bed with her former lover who is married with kids, finishes the book, uncovers more secrets, and has mysterious woo-woo things happen to her. And by the way, the woo-woo stuff works in this book, as opposed to it not working in the last book I read.

So, a good, if convoluted, mystery that just so happens to be filled with science gobbledygook and the occasional, memorable eye-poking scene. Seriously, it still gives me goose bumps to think of Isaac sticking a wooden needle into his eye. I don’t remember squat about what all he’s famous for, but I do remember that. I told you I wasn’t a science person.


The Red Scarf

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Red Scarf
Kate Furnivall
July 2008
470 pages

It’s 1933. Sofia and Anna are prisoners at Davinsky Labor Camp. In Siberia. That means it’s freakin’ cold and they spend all day working to build a road under the watchful (and lecherous) eyes of guards. Work is important, because it’s the only way to get food. Actually, there are other ways too, because as previously mentioned, the guards are lecherous. But Sofia and Anna don’t like to go there, so we’ll move on.

Anna has a gift for storytelling, and she tells Sofia all about her childhood in Petrograd, before the Revolution. About her father the doctor, about her governess, her fur coats, and especially, her friend Vasily. Although Vasily got caught up in the Revolution, Sofia is convinced he is their only hope. Because Anna is sick, and dying, and Sofia knows she cannot get her out of the labor camp on her own.

So Sofia sets out on her own. She escapes the labor camp and travels through Russia without identity papers to find Tivil, the small village where Vasily supposedly is.

I was so into this book right up to this point. The descriptions of the labor camp, and the struggle for survival all seemed so realistic. I knew Sofia was half in love with Vasily just from Anna’s stories alone, and there was potential for future conflict and drama.

Then…whammo. It seemed to morph into another book. Sure there were still stories of the struggle to survive under Stalin and collectivization (communism isn’t faring too well in this book) and flashbacks to the labor camp and childhood. But there was also the introduction of a gypsy family and their mysterious mind control powers and how that was important to the survival of Tivil. It got a little woo-woo. Not that there’s anything wrong with woo-woo, but it didn’t really float my boat in the midst of a story about labor camps and communism. And then everybody’s identities got all confusing, and phooey, the book just lost it’s mojo.

This is the author who wrote The Russian Concubine, which I haven’t read. I keep seeing it around, but I think I’ll skip it.


hugs and kisses to you all

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Thanks to everyone who commented on the vacation posts. It was fun to read all the comments even if I didn't always reply. And for those of you still interested in the post on Where do you blog? make sure you read all the comments, because people are still chiming in with great advice!

While I was away, I received another award. Both the Park Avenue Princess and Dar nominated me for this:

Cool, huh? Thank you both!!

And...I got loot! Woo-hoo! My copy of Geek Love was waiting for me when I got home.

Thanks chartroose!

And then yesterday, this showed up...

Sweet! Thanks again chartroose!!

And then today...the big box of books arrived.
14 books, all for me. Hah, hah, hah, hah! Sorry, but it's hard to control the maniacal laughter when my desk is piled with books. Obviously, I was too busy laughing hysterically to dig out the camera. But thanks Trish! And Hachette Book Group USA.

Life's not so bad after all, thanks to you all.


The party's over

I'm back from vacation, back to work, and fully involved in a post-vacation pout. Because as much as I complained about being in Sunriver, I'd much rather be there than here right now.

However, I did finish three books while I was gone. The Red Scarf, Ghostwalk and The Last Time I Was Me. And tonight I'll finish Breaking Dawn. So I have reviews to write. Just not right now. Right now I have some pouting to get back to.



Friday, August 01, 2008

It should come as no surprise that Hamburger is the athlete in this relationship. He's been surfing since he was 14 or 15. Me, I don't do water. But I can woo-hoo with the best of them.

Sunriver has a new Flow Rider machine. I have it on good authority (Hamburger) that this is nothing like surfing. Or skateboarding. Or snowboarding. It is hard. Hamburger and Lance (his step-dad, who also surfs) tried it for a solid hour, and barely managed to stay standing for more than 2 seconds. In fact, the first 1/2 hour was pretty comical (at least from where we were standing), as we had front row seats for wipe-out after wipe-out after wipe-out. But we were supportive when they did manage to stand up. Really. I hooted and hollered. And okay, I laughed. A lot.

Behold, a surfer trying to figure out a wave machine...

First, a little fun on the boogie board.

Ummm, Hamburger? Even I know you're supposed to be ON the board.

Woo-hoo, he's standing up!

Although not for long...

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

  © Newspaper by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to top