- Fizzy Thoughts: September 2008

Teaser Tuesdays

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

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!
From The Last Queen, by C.W. Gortner:

"We had never been friends, and I was not her chosen successor, not the one she'd have wanted for her throne. We had come to this place through death and loss."


Celebrate the freedom to read!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Banned Books Week
Celebrating the Freedom to Read
September 27–October 4, 2008
And thanks to Devourer of Books for finding the poster!


The Sunday Salon

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I should be packing, but instead I've spent most of the morning engrossed in The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.

I have to say though, that I am not reading this because of she who shall not be named. Once again, I'm a little peeved at the O woman. Every once in awhile I succumb and buy one her magazines, usually because there is something about books. This month I bought the Home magazine, which featured articles about books. Then I got pissed off when I read the caption under one article, which claims she (and yes, I'm going to write this whole post without typing her actual name) is the "woman who got America reading."

Oh please. Spare me your ego. And the knowledge that you have your own personal librarian.

My boss gave me this book before I even knew it was the diva's latest claim to fame. So I'm happy to report I don't have to look at her name on cover. Which is a good thing, because at 562 pages, I have the feeling I'll be looking at it for awhile.

Yesterday I finished The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Oscar and Edgar could not be anymore different, and I'm talking about both the books and the characters. Fortunately, they both make for good reading, so I've been enjoying my current book choices.

And now, I really need to get on with the packing. I'll out of town for a training all week, so I have to pack both work clothes and comfortable clothes, and books, because it's important to have all the comforts of home to console you when you don't even want to be away from home.


I read banned books

Saturday, September 27, 2008

How about you?

Celebrate your freedom to read.

Banned Books Week

September 27th-October 4th, 2008

from the ALA website:

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year. Observed since 1982, the annual event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted.

Banned Books Week (BBW) celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met. As the Intellectual Freedom Manual (ALA, 7th edition) states:

“Intellectual freedom can exist only where two essential conditions are met: first, that all individuals have the right to hold any belief on any subject and to convey their ideas in any form they deem appropriate; and second, that society makes an equal commitment to the right of unrestricted access to information and ideas regardless of the communication medium used, the content of the work, and the viewpoints of both the author and receiver of information. Freedom to express oneself through a chosen mode of communication, including the Internet, becomes virtually meaningless if access to that information is not protected. Intellectual freedom implies a circle, and that circle is broken if either freedom of expression or access to ideas is stifled.”


Weekly Geeks #18 Wrap-up

This week our challenge was to catch up on something. This is how I did:

1. Update my sidebar...with blogs, buttons and books. - Yes, I did this, but now I want to re-do the blog. I get like this every few months, and I'm trying to refrain, because I end up spending hours playing around with html. And I don't have hours. I added a bunch of people to my blog roll, but not all 70+ blogs that are currently in Google Reader. If I left you out (sorry!) and you really want to be included, let me know...I'd be more than happy to add you.

2. Clean up my Google Reader. BBAW has left it a little cluttered (I happen to like my blogs listed in alphabetical order) and I also need to clean out the starred items. - Done and done. Now I just have to keep up on the reading and commenting. And I discovered Google Reader has this options menu which will alphabetize for you...has that always been there?

3. Blog hop. I never got a chance to visit most of the BBAW participants, so I plan to spend some time visiting new places. No promises on the commenting, but I'll try! - Sort of done. I tried to visit everyone that left comments. I also tried to comment more on the blogs I already read. (I said tried, not did!) I did not visit all of the BBAW blogs (I visited a few...I think I made it through the A's) because then I want to add more to the Google Reader, and I really need to stop doing that before I end up with 10 bajillion blogs to read. I did find some very cool new blogs, though.

(4.) If I'm especially inspired, I might clean up my tags. Maybe. - I did end up doing this, and then I took the list off the sidebar. How's that for dealing with it?

I didn't get much reading done, though. I'm on page 119 of Oscar Wao. But since I'll be out of town next week, I'm expecting to spend more time reading and less time on the computer.


Have you ever?

Friday, September 26, 2008

This is chartroose's lazy blogger meme.

Have You Ever…

1. gone on a blind date? Yes. And to make it even worse, it was with a fraternity dude (fraternity brother of a college roommate). I’m so ashamed.

2. skipped school? I assume we’re talking high school here. In which case, no, because I was a good kid. If we’re talking college, everyone does that.

3. been on the opposite side of your country? Yes. I live in California…I have been to New York, and New Jersey, and Washington DC, and Vermont and Pennsylvania and Georgia. I’ve also been to Hawaii.

4. swam in the ocean? I don’t swim, but I’ve floated in the Pacific with the help of noodles. I’ve boogie boarded, too.

5. had your booze taken away by the cops? No. See #2.

6. lettered in a high school sport? Hah! No.

7. cried yourself to sleep? I’m sure I did this frequently as a baby.

8. played a musical instrument? Flute, in fourth grade. Until it was time to learn how to read music. I also took a guitar class in 8th grade….that was a joke. My brother got all of the musical ability in the family.

9. sung karaoke? Did I not just say my brother got all the musical ability? Oh wait…yes I did sing karaoke…with all of my cousins, for my grandma’s 90th birthday. We pretty much sucked…evidently my brother got all of their musical ability, too.

10. cheated on an exam? No, but I did have a habit of glancing at other people’s tests to see how far they had gotten. I didn’t want to lag behind.

11. played spin-the-bottle? No. How many times do I have to refer you to #2.

12. laughed until some sort of beverage came out of your nose? Yes…apple juice, and holy guacamole, did that burn. I was in a youth hostel in Florence, Italy. Not that that has any bearing on the answer, I just thought it was interesting.

13. watched the sun rise with someone you care about? Does my car count? Because I’ve watched the sun rise plenty of times while driving to work.

14. ever been arrested? No.

15. gone ice skating? No. I’m not known for my mad sportz skillz.

16. been skinny dipping? No.

17. been on television? They filmed our playground for the news when I was in third grade. Rumor has it you could see me (briefly) on the 11pm news.

18. thrown up in front of a date? No.

Told ya I was a good kid.


Friday book closet winner

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2008-09-26 14:20:25 UTC (aka 7:20 Pacific Time)

And the 25th comment for the week (starting with last Friday's posts) is Kristina. Which is funny, because I won one of her contests recently. It's like karma. Or something.

So, Kristina, let me know if anything in the book closet strikes your fancy. And...


Well, that was different

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What was the most unusual (for you) book you ever read? Either because the book itself was completely from out in left field somewhere, or was a genre you never read, or was the only book available on a long flight… whatever? What (not counting school textbooks, though literature read for classes counts) was furthest outside your usual comfort zone/familiar territory?

And, did you like it? Did it stretch your boundaries? Did you shut it with a shudder the instant you were done? Did it make you think? Have nightmares? Kick off a new obsession?

The thing is, I like my boundaries. Some books I read are weirder than others…and I’m pretty open to weirdness. It’s the reading of certain Genres (I’m reading Oscar Wao, and felt the need to capitalize Genre) that I have a hard time with. Westerns? Nope, no can do. Horror? No way. Vampires? Sure, bring ‘em on. Romance? Sure, I like the happily ever afters. Chick lit? No, thank you. Self-help? Not only no, but hell no, watch me run screaming in the other direction. Sci-fi/fantasy? I went through that phase in my teens and I’m pretty much over it.

Up until about 5 years ago, I only read fiction. You wouldn’t catch me reading anything non-fiction, with the possible exception of the back of the cereal box. And magazines. Somewhere along the way, though, I discovered I really like travelogues. But I can’t read them all the time …I get too jealous and start dreaming about moving to Mexico/Italy/England/Ireland/France/ Canada/Morocco. Rory Stewart’s The Places In Between falls into this category, although it was a bit more political and serious than I like. But I toughed it out and was glad I did.

I also tend to stick to contemporary authors. I read War in Val d’Orcia for my online book club last year and just about died of boredom. I don’t know why I equate anything pre-1970’s with stuffiness, but I do.

Have I answered the question, or am I still talking around it?


Belated thanks

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Recently (and not so recently) I received two (more!) awards. I love awards...they make me feel so special. In fact, I love them so much I post them in my sidebar and then forget to write a post about them. Maybe Chatty Cathy, I mean Trish, should have given me the I'm So Lame award instead of this little beauty...

I don't think it's supposed to be quite that big, but oh well. I'm also pretty sure this one didn't come with any directions, so I'm just going to pass it on to Melissa because...

...she gave me this one...

Isn't it cute? It comes with rules, though:

1) Add the logo of the award to your blog

2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you (see the previously mentioned Melissa)

3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs

4) Add links to those blogs on your blog (see below)

5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs! (messages coming soon...tomorrow's soon, right?)

After BBAW, I have totally lost track of who has received what, when, where and why. So I'm probably going to tag someone twice, but them's the breaks people. And actually, I heart all of the blogs in my Google Reader, but there are currently 75 (holy crap!) blogs in that list, and there is no way (none!) I am linking to all of you and then leaving a comment for you, too. So in a moment of weirdness, I'm going to nominate some of my fellow Californians...








Do you live in California, too? Speak up...because if you do, I'm going to hound you about the book group expo in San Jose. Just ask Trish if you don't believe me.



My boss and I were sitting in her office last week discussing a tracking database. I had just finished explaining why it was convoluted, outdated, and unnecessary. She agreed, and then we had a conversation that went something like this:

Boss: I can’t even find the screen I was just on.

Me (not looking at the monitor): Click on the back button until you’re at Tier 2. Now go down to the third T3 button and click on that. Are those the measures you were looking for?

Boss: I thought you said this was too convoluted and you didn’t understand it?

Me: Sometimes my brain scares me.

Boss: It scares me, too.

I prefer to think that was a compliment.


Teaser Tuesdays

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

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!
"Showed him some of my fiction too, all robberies and drug deals and Fuck you, Nando, and BLAU! BLAU! BLAU! He gave me four pages of comments for an eight-page story."

From The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz


If on a winter's night a traveler

If on a winter's night a traveler
Italo Calvino
260 pages

So. Hmmmmmmm. What to say? How about:

I have no freakin' clue what this book is about!

Okay, that's a slight (slight!) fib. It's about reading. And a series of unfinished books. And a man searching for the endings. Sort of. I guess.

See, this book veered off into a bunch of philosophical sounding shit that I just didn't get. I believe I've mentioned before that I only passed philosophy with the help of my friend Cliff and his Notes (the only time, I swear, that I resorted to the taxi cab colored books in my entire college career...and I spent six years in college, so I had plenty of opportunity). I don't like philosophy. I'm too practical and it makes my head hurt. Plus, this book was full of obscure words I was too lazy (not to mention sore) to get up and find in the dictionary.

Okay, let's see if I can manage to accurately describe this book. A man starts reading a book. But the second chapter is not the same book. As he embarks on a quest to find the next chapter, everywhere he goes he is given a different first chapter. The book alternates between these first chapters, and the story of the man (or the reader, because the book is actually written in the second person point of view) and his attempt to unravel the mystery behind all the first chapters. Clever, huh? In this case, clever just wasn't enough for me.

To be fair, I loved the first chapter, in which Calvino reflects on reading. But as the fictional country developed, and fictional languages and authors seemed to multiply, I just got increasingly muddled, to the point where I no longer cared about all the stories that I knew would never have an ending (and remember, I adore resolution) and the characters that I couldn't figure out.

To sum up, this book was a dud.



Monday, September 22, 2008

Bubba turned out to not be the brightest of bugs. Seems he abandoned his cozy little digs on the front porch for someplace in the vicinity of Hamburger's truck's tires. I discovered his remains (hard to miss, considering how big he was) in the driveway this morning.

After a few Google searches, and a bad case of the creepy crawlies from looking at all the pictures, we've decided Bubba was a praying mantis. I'll do us all a favor and skip linking to the bug sites.

So that's it for the bug stories. Tomorrow, we return to book reviews. Although I only have one book to review, so who knows what I'll be talking about for the rest of the week.


Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I'm a little sore. My mom took me on a forced march walk today. 7 miles. And I went voluntarily.

We hiked the Point Buchon trail. It's a relatively new trail, at the end of Montana de Oro State Park, on land previously closed to the public. We walked along the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, checked out a sinkhole, saw goats and sheep and horses (and evidence of cows...lots of cows) and dragonflies and crickets and birds and beautiful eroded rocks in the ocean and a pond and all sorts of nature. And then we saw Diablo Canyon. Nothing like a nuclear power plant to complete the whole nature-y experience.

We're going to do it again in a few weeks...next time I'm taking my camera, and if it's not foggy, I'll have photographic evidence (and more reasons to stop).

In other news, Bubba has left the building. We have scoured the front porch looking for him, and he's nowhere to be found. He better not have let himself into the house.

And I am still reading If on a winter's night a traveler. Right now I'm watching my beloved Packers get trounced by the Cowboys, who I happen to loathe for no particular reason. Actually, I'm listening to the game, because I took my glasses off so I wouldn't have to actually see it.


Catch Up

Saturday, September 20, 2008

For Weekly Geeks #18 Dewey has challenged us to catch up on...something.

The details:

1. Decide what you need to catch up on.
2. Write a post if you feel like it, telling your readers what you intend to catch up on. If you do that, you can sign Mr Linky right away with the link to that specific post.
3. Catch up!
4. Write a post near the end of the week (Thursday or Friday) summarizing how your catch-up week went. If you didn’t sign Mr Linky with your intentions post, sign it with your summary post.
5. Don’t forget to visit other Weekly Geeks and encourage them in their catching up!

This is an excellent idea. I have three things I want to accomplish:

1. Update my sidebar...with blogs, buttons and books.
2. Clean up my Google Reader. BBAW has left it a little cluttered (I happen to like my blogs listed in alphabetical order) and I also need to clean out the starred items.
3. Blog hop. I never got a chance to visit most of the BBAW participants, so I plan to spend some time visiting new places. No promises on the commenting, but I'll try!
(4.) If I'm especially inspired, I might clean up my tags. Maybe.


Nastiest. Bug. Ever.

Meet Bubba. As in Big Ugly Bug - Be Afraid. I know this is a lousy picture, but honestly, I was too nervous he was going to jump out at me, so I clicked and slammed the door shut.

Bubba seems to have adopted us. The bastard. Last night Hamburger pointed him out...he was leering at us from the side wall of the front porch. I'm pretty sure he waved, too, because he's got these long arms, and one of them moved. Evidently, he's appointed himself watch dog. Or watch bug. Or whatever. Today, he has moved to the door handle. He was there to greet me when I returned from my walk. I think he waved at me again. Currently, he's all tucked up inside, so if anyone reaches for the handle, they're in for a rude surprise. Thank god he didn't object to me and the key. Also thank god the door opens when you turn the key and I didn't have to touch the handle.

This has got to be the biggest bug I've ever seen. He's about 3 inches long, and he looks like a big albino cricket with Mick Jagger lips. And I'm not kidding about the lips.

All I know, is if the doorbell rings, I'm not answering.


for Amy

Friday, September 19, 2008

This summer, after book blogging was patronized in the mainstream media, Amy from My Friend Amy made a suggestion that we celebrate book blogging. From that idea, Book Blogger Appreciation Week was born. Many of us have participated in interviews, contests, give-aways, and through awards; but, this would never have happened were it not for the dream, perseverance, planning, hard work and dedication of Amy. This has been a wonderful week and as members of the Book Blogging community, in one voice we want to thank Amy for all that she has done.

Amy, you are truly the Queen of Book Bloggers and we love you!

Thank you!!!

Disclaimer and extra thank you: The above, beautifully written message was composed by Jennifer, the (very) literate housewife. And Trish designed the lovely button for Amy. Left to me, the post would have said, "Dude...awesome job."


giveaway the second

Okay, has anyone else noticed that blogger is having issues this morning? My time stamp is stuck on yesterday at 8:11 AM. Which is probably why my Weekly Geeks posted early. And the auto save is failing every minute...I know this, because it keeps telling me, like I'm gonna fix it something. Hah!

Anyway...maybe it's just me. Or maybe blogger needs the Starbucks giftcard more than the winner of this next giveaway.

So, this is the grand poo-bah of giveaways on this here blog in honor of BBAW. The winner gets...

  • their choice of a book from the book closet
  • a $15 gift card from Barnes and Noble, so they can go buy a bright, shiny book of their choice
  • a $10 Starbucks card, because most of us love to drink coffee (or lattes, or tea, or soy green tea lattes, or frappuccinos...really, it's amazing I still have this gift card, and I haven't run off and spent it all)
Now, chartroose thinks I have amazing luck when it comes to giveaways (it's true). But I think Ti is giving me a run for my money. Yes, I said Ti. Otherwise known as #63.

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2008-09-19 15:07:00 UTC

Didn't she just win a book a few weeks ago?

In case you were wondering, there were 72 comments whose blogs I found and who had the BBAW button placed on their blog. Again, the more comments you left, the better your chances... unless you're Dar. (Sorry, Dar, I couldn't resist.)

Congratulations Ti!!!

Please email me with your book choice and your address.

And for the rest you...thanks for all of the comments this week! Happy Book Blogger Appreciation Week. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have!


giveaway the first

Are you ready for a couple of giveaways? I know I am, because keeping tracking of comments is a pain in the patootie. :-D Not that I don't love reading them...because I do! It's just the counting thing that I don't like...have I mentioned I never liked math?

First up, I'm doing the weekly drawing the choice of a book from the book closet. This was open to all comments over the last week. And those people who comment lots and lots and lots (you know who you are) had a better chance of winning. Really, our winner proves that statement true.

As of a few minutes ago, I had 120 comments (it's 121 now, because Dar just left a comment... she's such an overachiever).

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2008-09-19 14:36:31 UTC

#113 just happens to be Blueviolet. Who doesn’t have a blog (she should fix that, right?). But she did an awesome job of commenting, and it paid off! She wins her choice of a book from the book closet. Elizabeth, if you’re reading this, please email me with your choice of book, and your address.

Congratulations Blueviolet!!

Stay tuned...I'm off to figure out the winner of the giveaway that included the gift cards!


a very wise man

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.


good medicine

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The medicine chest of the soul.
~Inscription over the door of the Library at Thebes



Diana Abu-Jaber
384 pages

Once again, my sidebar is up to date. I took a break from If on a winter’s night a traveler and read Origin. By the time I considered changing the Currently Reading info, I was finished with Origin and back to If on a winter’s night a traveler. Sometimes procrastination can turn into efficiency.

Anyhoosie, on with the review.

This book is everything I expected Into the Woods to be. And more. It’s described as a creepy thriller, but I didn’t find it particularly creepy. It is a mystery, but there’s much more to it than that. I’d classify it as a damn good book.

Lena believes that she was raised by apes when she was a small child. She grew up in foster care, and her foster parents were always cagy about her past. Now in her 30’s, Lena works as a crime lab analyst. When a series of SIDS deaths turns mysterious, and Lena begins to investigate, she becomes drawn into the mystery of her own past.

The present day mystery teamed with the mystery from the narrator’s past is what makes me compare this book to Into the Woods. But Origin has resolution, the one thing that Into the Woods lacked that also happened to piss me off and almost (but I refrained!) made me throw the book across the room in disgust. In contrast, I wanted to hug Origin when I was done (I refrained from the hug, too).

I was enjoying this book, but reading it slowly, which is not like me. But once I hit the halfway point, I could not put the book down. Seriously…I was even sneaking peeks when I shouldn’t have been (at work). And no, I wasn’t sneaking peeks at the end, which I tend to do…I actually read the whole book without giving in and checking out what was going to happen at the end. I think I deserve a gold star for that.

Part of what made this book so appealing was the setting. When the book starts, it’s winter in Syracuse, NY. And Abu-Jaber does such a good job of invoking the cold, and isolation, and dreariness, that let me just say there is no way (none!) that I am ever going to Syracuse (I’ve been to Green Bay, I think that’s enough snow and cold for me). As Lena starts to come out of her shell (a bit), winter gives way to spring. So there’re lots of analogies and whatever to be drawn.

I also enjoyed the characters. Lena is… a bit socially inept, a bit of a loner and reluctant to fully engage. Charlie is…well, Charlie is both the ex-husband and an ass. I loved Keller because he was able to both let Lena be and draw her out. There were other characters (Lena’s co-workers, her foster parents, her neighbors) and they were all vividly drawn.

And finally, there’s the resolution. I think Abu-Jaber did an excellent job with the ending. But I’m not going to tell you what happens, because hello? It’s a mystery.

So if you’ve read Into the Woods I dare you (okay, I double dog dare you) to go find a copy of this book (for once, you can’t have mine, because I gave it a friend at work) and read it. And then tell me which one you liked the most. And it better be Origin (just kidding. maybe). Me, I’m going to go track down more books by Abu-Jaber.


Autumn Reading

Autumn is starting (here in the US, anyway), and kids are heading back to school–does the changing season change your reading habits? Less time? More? Are you just in the mood for different kinds of books than you were over the summer?

I live in California… what is this thing you call a season? In Morro Bay, we have fog. And we have no fog. Occasionally, we have rain.

Okay, I exaggerate, as usual. The mornings are cooler, so fall will be arriving in Morro Bay pretty soon. But that has absolutely no impact on my reading habits. I have no problem staying inside with a book all day long, whether it’s winter, spring, summer or fall. And the types of books I read won’t change, either. In fact, I’m really trying to stick to the shelves of books that are already living in my house, so this fall (and winter, and probably spring and next summer, too) I’ll be reading from the TBR pile as much as possible. I’m sure there will be books that I just have to run out and get so I can read them right now, but really, I’m trying to be good.

Don’t forget to check out the details for my giveaways this week!


reading is my happy pill

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I've never known any trouble that an hour's reading didn't assuage.
~Charles de Secondat, Baron de la Brède et de Montesquieu, Pensées Diverses


I'm not a poet - and I know it

In honor of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, fyrefly is having a haiku contest. Leave your review in the form of a haiku, and you'll be entered to win an amazon gift card. Can't remember the rules for haikus (and this is where I admit I didn't)? Don't worry, fyrefly will remind you.

Since I've been reading my current book for awhile (and no it's not the one over there on the right...I'm on hiatus from that book and I keep forgetting to update my sidebar), and I haven't had any reviews to post, I thought I would attempt to summarize my current read:

Was she raised by apes?
Who is killing the children?
Lena's on the case.

Any guesses on what I'm reading? Since I seem to be on a roll with giving away books, I'll offer up another choice from the book closet to the first person who can correctly identify the title and author.

Good luck!


I don't

Lisa is having a contest to give away a copy of Matrimony. In order to enter, you must leave a comment about marriage. Which ended up being remarkably difficult for me (I was trying to come up with a statement that reflected my feelings, but that didn't sound offensive), and led me to write this post to clarify my feelings on the institution of marriage.

Many of you know that Hamburger and I have been together for 16 years. We've lived together for 15 years. When we realized we were serious about our relationship, both of us were clear on the fact that we didn't have any desire to have children (a point that we confirm, with much relief, on a regular basis) and that neither one of us felt strongly about need to get married. Hamburger's parents divorced when he was a kid, and it is not a pleasant memory for him. His parents went on to marry again. And in some cases, again. He doesn't have a whole lot of faith in marriage.

My parents were married for 28 years, until my father's death. Although my mom was also married and divorced prior to their marriage. When I was growing up, my dad worked out of town for a number of years...I was never particularly close to him. My mom is an incredibly self-sufficient person, and we were very close when I was growing up. I'm not really sure where I got my feelings on marriage (although the distant dad, strong mom probably plays into it), but sometime in college I came to the realization that it was unnecessary. I might feel differently if I wanted kids, but I don't. So for me, it's a piece of paper...and I don't need that piece of paper to legitimize my relationship. I also don't need society's approval, and that's the political/societal side of marriage that bugs me.

You might be surprised, but our parents have never pressured us about marriage. In fact, they could care less. My dad, in his "soon to be on my death-bed chat" with Hamburger, only wanted assurances that Hamburger would be there for my mom and me. There have been no when are you getting married, when do we get grandchildren comments or discussions. They know our feelings, and they respect our decisions.

The pressure did come from various distant family members and friends. People who didn't understand that their feelings didn't have any bearing on our decisions. Excuse me, but where does Hamburger's step-brother's wife get off telling us we "have to have children?" And yes, she said have to have. Then there's our nosy neighbor, who grills the rest of the neighborhood about our marital status. It's attitudes like this that make me even more adamant in my decision. After all, why should I have children or get married to make someone else happy? Or to conform to society's expectations? And why do people think that I need children and a marriage certificate to be happy? Trust me, I'm plenty happy. (If that sounds a bit defensive, I didn't mean it to be.)

Added to that, the whole debate on the government thinking they can legislate who can marry and who can't, just pisses me off. However, I try to avoid political discussions, so I'm not going there.

However, this doesn't mean I don't like marriage. I even cry at weddings, because I'm a total sap. Just because it isn't for me doesn't mean it's not for you. Which was kinda the whole point of me writing this post. Just because I make comments about not being married and not wanting children doesn't mean I don't think it's totally cool that you decided to get married (or not) or have children (or not). I'll like you either way.



Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Thanks to chartroose, I'm finally part of the in crowd. And this in crowd isn't picky, either...feel free to join us!

And speaking of being part of the in crowd, who can identify this quote?

"The sportos and motor heads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads...they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude."

The first person to correctly identify WHO said this, WHO they were talking to, and WHO they were talking about, can chose a book from the book closet. Don't forget, you have to identify the 3 whos!

And thanks again chartroose! You're the koolest kid of all.


when a good book has to end

My test of a good novel is dreading to begin the last chapter.


5 ways blogging has changed my life

Monday, September 15, 2008

beastmomma (who I should have included in this post...I told you, my brain is fried) recently posted this meme, and invited folks to join her.

Here are the rules:
1. Write about 5 specific ways blogging has affected you, either positively or negatively.
2. Link back to the person who tagged you (and leave a comment on his/her blog after you do the tag). (there was no tagging, but thanks to beastmomma for the inspiration)
3. Link back to this parent post.
4. Tag a few friends or five, or none at all (and inform them about it).
5. Post these rules— or just have fun breaking them.

I think this question is particularly relevant this week, seeing’s how we’re celebrating Book Blogger Appreciation Week (and by the way, does anyone else think next week should be My Friend Amy Appreciation Week?).

I started blogging on LiveJournal at the beginning of 2004. At the time, I was involved in BookCrossing (which is a nifty idea, as long as someone actually finds the book and reads it…I happen to like to know that my books are going places where they will be appreciated, not straight to the used book store), and a group of BookCrossers joined LiveJournal together. That was my intro to blogging. In 2006 I moved over to Blogger, mainly because I have a few friends in real life who also blog here. Somewhere along the way, I ran into Booking Through Thursday, and started connecting with a fantastic community of book bloggers. I blog more about books now than I did back in 2004, or even 2006. Although, as anyone who reads my blog knows, there’s plenty of other crap thrown in the mix. Now, onto the question…how has blogging affected me?

1. I spend way more time on the computer than I ever did before. I think this is a common complaint amongst us readers. We want to spend our spare time with our nose in a book, but we also want to check out what others are reading, and what they might recommend. Or not recommend. So this is both a positive and a bit of a negative.

2. I feel more connected to my fellow readers. I don’t live with a reader (gasp!) and I know very few people in real life who read. I know even fewer who read to the extent that I do. I love being able to post my thoughts on a book and reading what others thought…and responding to others about what they are reading. And other things...'cause it's not always about the books.

3. I am amazed by the generosity of my fellow bloggers. And by the authors. And the publishing companies. I’ll just say it…getting free stuff is fun. And it makes me want to share the love. So this is a good thing for all of us.

4. I’ve been pushed to read outside my box. Okay, not pushed. Inspired. Sure, there are still some things I won’t touch, such as self-help books. Or westerns. Or Stephen King. But there are also books I never would have found if not for my fellow bloggers (Geek Love, anyone?). The only down side to this is that my TBR pile is the largest it’s ever been. Hamburger and I went through a period of buying fixer-uppers and moving every two years. Although we’ve been in the same house for almost four years now, I still live in fear of having to pack and move the TBR pile.

5. The big negative? Now, more than ever, I want to be in a real-life book club!

So there you have it…5 ways that blogging has affected me. How about you? Feel free to join in!


I'm exhausted already

I don't know about you all, but my head is spinning. I've been reading the comments on my own blog and trying to visit the commenter's blog in return, and checking in with the Weekly Geeks, and visiting various BBAW blogs, and holy cow...at this point, I'm lucky if I remember my own name. I'm afraid I'm going to start leaving duplicate comments, and wouldn't that be embarrassing.

So...just keep in mind that I'm reading every single comment on my own blog, and I love, love, love all the attention. But please forgive me for not replying. However, don't forget that by leaving a comment on any post this week, you're entered in my Friday contest (with not one, but two, chances to win). So see...I do love you.

To start off BBAW, My Friend Amy suggested we write a post highlighting the book blogs we love to read that were not nominated for a BBAW award. Most of the blogs I read were nominated (and don't think I'm not congratulating myself on my good taste). However, here are three more of my favorites:

Ramya's Bookshelf
Ramya has great taste in books. I love reading about what she's read.

Book Chatter and other stuff
I like Ti because, like me, she likes to visit bookstores when she's on vacation. And she's an awesome commenter. And she, too, has great taste in books.

Age 30+...a lifetime of books
The self-proclaimed Ambassador of Books is doing a fantastic job.

So how are you handling BBAW? Are you as bombarded with blogs (blogbarded?) as I am? In a good way, of course.


in honor of banned books week

Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings.

Celebrate the Freedom to Read!

Banned Books Week
September 27th to October 4th, 2008


Magic carpet ride

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A well-composed book is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world that we cannot enter in any other way.

~Caroline Gordon (quote found here)


Happiness is a good book

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Girl Reading, Pablo Picasso

Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier. ~Kathleen Norris

I finally managed to get my butt in gear and participate in Weekly Geeks. Dewey is one of my favorite bloggers, so if you haven't heard of Weekly Geeks, go check it out. I always enjoy reading people's Weekly Geeks posts, even if I don't join in.

This week's activity is a quote a day. I've got my seven quotes all lined up to post every evening at 6:30pm, which is about the time (on work nights) when I'm settling in with my book (okay, sometimes it's the computer). This is my favorite time of day, hence the choice of today's quote.


details, details

Are you ready for BBAW?

Last night I mentioned that I would do a special giveaway in support of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, with details to follow. I stayed awake all night agonizing over what to do. (Okay, not true...but I did think about it while I listened to the neighbor's dog bark at 12:15 am. And then again some more, after my less than stellar moment of screaming at the neighbor's dog at 12:30 am). So, inspired by a midnight adrenaline rush, here are the details...

Once again, on Friday morning I will do my normal book closet giveaway. In addition, I will choose another winner from those weekly commenters who have the BBAW button displayed on their blog (that would be the catch...it means I need to be able to find your blog and see the button). That person will have their choice of a book from the book closet, plus they will also receive 2 special goodies, otherwise known as a $15 Barnes and Noble gift card, and a $10 Starbucks card.

So, to recap. Leave a comment on any post including and after this one and up to the one I post sometime Friday announcing the winners, and you will be entered in a drawing for:

1. your choice of one of these books (this is open to all commenters, and the more comments you leave, the greater your chance of winning (at least, that's what the statistics say))

2. your choice of one of these books, a $15 Barnes and Noble gift card, and a $10 Starbucks card (this is open to all commenters who have the BBAW button on their blog...and again, the more comments you leave, the greater your chance of winning)

Time's up!! And I'm closing the comments...


Book Blogger Appreciation Week

Friday, September 12, 2008

I think I'm the last blogger on earth to post about this, but here it goes. September 15-19 is...

But then you knew that, didn't you? My Friend Amy developed this marvelous idea, and she has lots of good stuff planned for next week, such as:

Daily Raffles:
Monday--Books and Chocolate sponsored by My Friend Amy and Hey Lady! Whatcha' Readin?
Tuesday--Books and Going Green sponsored by My Friend Amy
Wednesday--Books and Coffee sponsored by My Friend Amy
Thursday--Books and Charity sponsored by My Friend Amy and Fashionista Piranha
Friday--Books and Movies sponsored by My Friend Amy

Win a Book Club Girl Hostess Survival Kit!
Do you find it's your turn to host book club and not only do you not know what to serve but you don't know what books to offer up for the next month's selection?! Let Book Club Girl come to your rescue with the Book Club Girl Hostess Survival Kit.

One lucky winner of the kit will receive:
* A basket of cheese, crackers, cookies and wine for up to 12 people
* 5 great book group books to vote on for your group's next pick. And Book Club Girl will then donate 12 copies whichever book is chosen for your entire group to read.
* 12 Book Club Girl mousepads to give out as party favors that night
* 12 Book Club Girl bookmarks to mark everyone's favorite passages
* 12 Book Club Girl coasters to protect your coffee table from all those wine glasses!

TWO SORMAG Goody Bags containing books and more!

A Special Pamper Me Basket from Cafe of Dreams!
From Avon Foot Works
~ Inflatable watermelon shaped foot tub
~ 3.4 FL oz Watermelon Cooling Foot Lotion
~ 3.4 FL oz Watermelon Exfoliating Foot Scrub
~ 12 count Watermelon Effervescent Foot Tablets
~ An ARC of So Long At The Fair by Christina Schwarz
~ A variety of Hot Chocolate and Tea mixes

A pre-made blog template from SNSDesign!

A Subscription to Poetry Magazine from Savvy Verse and Wit!

Mistress of the Revolution by Catherine Delors
The Moon in the Mango Tree by Pamela Binnings Ewen
The Spanish Bow by Andromeda Romano-Lax
John's Quest by Cecelia Dowdy
Confessions of a Contractor by Richard Murphy
Acedia & Me by Kathleen Norris
The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell
The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks
The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer
Supreme Courtship by Christopher Buckley
A Tale Out of Luck by Willie Nelson with Mike Blakely
The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent
When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson
An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken
Exit Music by Ian Rankin
The Smart One and the Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik
Gunmetal Black by Daniel Serrano
Isolation by Travis Thrasher
The Miracle Girls by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt
Every Freaking! Day With Rachell Ray by Elizabeth Hilts
Dewey by Vicki Myron
The Shiniest Jewel by Marian Henley
Keep the Faith by Faith Evans
The Book of Calamities by Peter Trachtenberg
A is for Atticus by Lorilee Craker
After the Fire by Robin Gaby Fisher
Mike's Election Guide by Michael Moore
War as They Knew It by Michael Rosenberg
Fixing Hell By Col. (ret.) Larry C. James
Wild Boy: My Life with Duran Duran by Andy Taylor
The Last Under-Cover: The True Story of an FBI Agent's Dangerous Dance with Evil By Bob Hamer
Border Lass by Amanda Scott
Insatiable Desire by Rita Heron
Hungry for More by Diana Holquist
Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee
Trespassers Will Be Baptized by Elizabeth Emerson Hancock
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not by Trish Ryan
Never Surrender by General Jerry Boykin
Dream in Color by Congresswoman Linda Sánchez, Congresswoman Loretta Sánchez
Beyond Belief by Josh Hamilton
Cobain Unseen by Charles R. Cross
Doing Business in 21st Century India by Gunjan Bagla
Branding Only Works on Cattle by Jonathan Salem Baskin
Launching a Leadership Revolution by Chris Brady, Orrin Woodward
How to Hear from God by Joyce Meyer
Knowing Right from Wrong by Thomas D. Williams
Pope John Paul II: An Intimate Life by Caroline Pigozzi
Pure by Rebecca St. James
He Loves Me! by Wayne Jacobson
So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore by Wayne Jacobson and Dave Coleman
Move On, Move Up by Paula White
The Rosary by Gary Jansen
Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts
The Choice by Nicholas Sparks
Right Livelihoods by Rick Moody
by George by Wesley Stace
The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold
Trunk Music by Michael Connelly
Hollywood Crows by Joseph Wambaugh
Dead Boys by Richard Lange
The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters by Lorraine Lopez
Sisterchicks Go Brit! by Robin Jones Gunn
Beyond the Night by Marlo Schalesky
With Endless Sight by Allison Pittman
Harlequin Titles: To Be Announced

Many other blogs are giving away books and prizes for BBAW as well! You can see the links to all of these giveaways here.

And yes, I'll be doing a giveaway, too. It'll be tied in with the weekly Friday book closet post...I'll just toss in a few extra treats in honor of BBAW. What treats, you ask? Good question...I'll let you know tomorrow.


Woo-hoo! It's Friday!!

As you may (or may not) know, each Friday I (okay not me, but rather some random number generator) choose one comment from all of my posts for the week. That lucky person gets to select a book of their choice from the book closet. This week’s winner is #19.

#19, please email me with your choice of book and your address.

Oh…you want to know who #19 is??? I have to tell you, I was convinced it was going to be ti, because she won last week and she left lots of comments this week and statistically, she had a very good chance (I hated statistics, by the way, so a very good chance is as technical as it gets around here). But as it turns out, it wasn’t ti after all. It was….

Trish of Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’ fame.

Congratulations Trish!


public service announcement

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dar is having a giveaway of 10 (ten) copies of Broken, by Daniel Clay. She wrote a wonderful review here. And don’t you just love the cover?

I know, I know…it’s another one of those covers with the person’s head cut off. Okay, in this case she’s lost her whole torso. But the drawing reminds me of an old school primer, or maybe paper dolls. And those socks! I love the socks. Not to mention the maryjanes.

Anyhoosie, toodle on over to Dar’s blog and enter her contest…just make sure you leave one of the books for me!


Calling all book freaks

Sorry. You're not a book freak. You're a book lover. I'm a freak. I'm super excited, because today I bought my ticket for the...

The third annual Book Group Expo is October 25th and 26th in San Jose. That would be California, for all you non-west coast-centric bloggers out there.

Some of the authors who will be there include:
*Annie Barrows
*Brunonia Barry
*Marisa de los Santos
*Julia Glass
*Ann Packer
*Jennie Shortridge

And those are just the authors I've read. There are oodles more, including Andre Dubus III, Garth Stein, Terry McMillan, Joshua Henkin and Zoe Ferraris (has anyone read Finding Nouf yet?). Go here to see all the other authors that I left out.

So...any other freaks planning to attend?


Suite Francaise

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Suite Francaise
Irene Nemirovsky, translated by Sandra Smith
367 pages

I honestly don't know where to start with this one. This book has received so much publicity, both for the story and the story behind it. So let's start with the story behind it.

Irene Nemirovsky was originally a Russian Jew. After her family fled the Bolsheviks, they eventually settled in France. As an adult, Irene was a well-known author, a wife, mother and a Roman Catholic. She was not, despite her efforts, a French citizen. Which is what eventually caused her arrest by the Nazis. Nemirovsky died at Auschwitz in 1942. I have read that she died of typhus, although I also read she was sent to the gas chambers.

After Nemirovsky's husband was also sent to Auschwitz (he was killed in the gas chambers), her daughters were sent into hiding for the remainder of the war. Denise, her eldest daughter, took what she believed was her mother's journal with her. She held onto the journal for years, although she was reluctant to dredge up painful memories and never read it. When she finally decided to donate it to a French institute, and sat down to translate it, she discovered the journal was actually an unfinished novel.

Suite Francaise was originally intended to be a work in 5 parts. Only the first two parts of the story were finished. Nemirovsky's notes are included as an appendix, and there are hints of the direction she was headed. However, this an incomplete work with unanswered questions...and it's heartbreaking to think of why.

The first section of Suite Francaise, Storm in June, tells multiple stories of various individuals and families as they flee Paris and the advancing German army. Most of the characters are shown to be petty and shallow, only interested in themselves and their status and the inconvenience that is the war. There is a lot going on in this section, and at times it is difficult to keep everyone straight.

The second section, Dolce, focuses on a particular village and how its residents deal with the occupying German army. Again, many of the residents (especially the Viscountess de Montmort...gawd, is she ever annoying) are self-serving. What is interesting is how extensive Nemirovsky portrays the collaboration between the French and the Germans to be...it runs the gamut from girls falling in love, to whats in for me.

Most (not all, but most) of Nemirovsky's characters are deplorable. She does not show the French in a good light. Interestingly, the Germans don't fare quite as badly. Also interesting is the fact that she never uses the word Nazi. She does mention the swastika flags, and there are a few heil hitlers, but this book is not about Hitler's final solution. It's about human nature and how she perceived people's reactions to the war.

It's hard to critique a book that you know is unfinished. Who knows what may have happened in those unfinished sections, or even as Nemirovsky edited what she had already written.

Have you read this book? If so, do you have any opinions on who the couple on the cover represent (or even if they are meant to represent any of the characters)? My vote goes to Gabriel and Florence, although he doesn't look quite supercilious enough for Gabriel.


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
274 pages

After I read the first letter from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society I was having flashbacks to 84 Charing Cross Road. There was mention of WWII, and rationing coupons, and well, it was in letter format, and I thought, oh crap, it's going to try and follow in 84's footsteps. Luckily, my oh crap was premature.

I loved this book. I know that my adoration of such a popular book is sort of contrary to my Booking Through Thursday post from last week, but oh well.

Some of the reasons why I'm in love with the book, despite its obnoxiously long title, which I swear I will never type again:

Format. Yes, I like the story told in letters, even if it has been done before. I think the author(s) did a wonderful job of evoking the 1940s, and the distinct personalities of all of the characters, and the feel of Guernsey, all through a series of letters.

I learned stuff. I never knew the Channel Islands were occupied by the Germans during WWII. Did you? Do you even know where the Channel Islands are? (Besides the obvious answer of in the Channel.) I only had a vague idea. Now, I feel like I've been there. Actually, I want to move there, but that's not gonna happen. And have you ever heard of Todt slaves? Me either. I love books that work little bits of history in...it makes me want to hold the book up to my former grad school history professor and make snide comments about it being both more informative and more interesting than his class, and say things like nee-neer, nee-neer, nee-neer.

Friendship. This book has some great friendships happening.

Great lines.
"Men are more interesting in books than they are in real life."
"My aunt says she will never set foot in our house again, and Mother hasn't spoken to me since that day. I find it all very peaceful."
"They want to address the practical, moral and philosophical value of reading - spread out over three issues and by three different authors. I am to cover the philosophical side of the debate and so far my only thought is that reading keeps you from going gaga." I am particularly fond of this one.

The story. You're probably wondering what it's all about. That is, if you haven't read it already. Or seen it on someone else's blog. Basically, it's the story of a writer who begins to correspond with members of a literary society from the island of Guernsey. And it takes place in 1946. That's all you need to know. This is a story best left to the letter writers.



Saturday, September 06, 2008

Ann Patchett
295 pages

Ann Patchett is another one of those authors I'm always meaning to read. However, after two failed attempts at Bel Canto she wasn't exactly at the top of my reading list. But when presented with the opportunity to read Run, I decided to give her another shot. I'm currently patting myself on the back for my wise decision. Okay, so I owe it all to Gail from Everyday I Write The Book Blog. Thanks Gail!

The one thing I knew about this book before I dove into it was that I hated the title. Run. Ptthhpt, I thought. How boring. How undescriptive. How...short.

However, after finishing the book, the title is all I can think about. It's perfect on so many levels. To start with, I ran through the book. I read most of it in one sitting. Okay, so that's not what the title alludes to. But still. The contrast between Run and Bel Canto amazes me. Run flowed just like the title implies...Bel Canto plodded along (for me) just like an opera, which would be why I never managed to finish it. Or why I listen to opera. However, I'm getting off topic here. Back to Run...

Let's talk about the characters:

  • Bernard Doyle - the father, a former mayor of Boston who dreams of a life in politics for his sons
  • Sullivan Doyle - the biological son who mysteriously fled to Africa
  • Tip and Teddy Doyle - the adopted sons, who are struggling against their father's dreams
  • Tennesee Moser - a mysterious woman whose act of bravery will change their lives
  • Kenya Moser - Tennesee's daughter, a young girl with an incredible ability to run
All of them are running from something. To tell you what would spoil the book. But in some way, they are all running from the past. They are also running towards the future. Okay, some of them are jogging, some of them are sprinting, and some are being helped along by a strong tailwind. And some of them are tripping (literally, tripping and falling...although Sullivan does like to pop the Percocet) along the way.

Finally, there is Kenya, who just flat out runs.

It shocked me at the end to realize that this book takes place in just two days. Two days that reveal the characters of most of the well, characters. I never quite connected to Bernard. And I was just getting to like Sullivan, but then he kind of, sort of, but not really disappeared again at the end. If you've read it, do you know what I mean?

There are lots of other themes running (hah, that was an accident...I didn't realize my word choice until I re-read the post) through the book, but what's nice is that Patchett doesn't try to bean the reader over the head with them. I like to focus on the running, but I'm sure others will relate more to the nature v. nurture theme, or the issues around race and adoption, or even the rights of biological parents. Or the whole political thing, although I really don't like to talk politics.
So given my history with Patchett I must say I was floored by how much I liked this book. I appreciated the author's ability to draw me in and tell me a family's story within the setting of two days. I admire her characterization. And most of all, for probably the first time, I fell in love with a book's title and all its nuances.

Book Club Girl is hosting a live discussion with the author on September 24th.

And Gail will be hosting a discussion at the Everyday I Write the Book Blog on September 25th.


The Forty-Three Meme

I found this at girasoli's blog, who took it from Deborah. Both are fellow SlowTravelers, with wonderful travel tales to tell.

The rules: Copy this list into your own blog and put an asterisk after each city square you've actually spent time in. (Riding past in a taxi or bus doesn't count.) Please include the link back to Old Shoes-New Trip in your own entry and then leave a comment on Deborah's post so she can find your blog and admire your count.

The Forty-Three MEME from Old Shoes, New Trip

1- Piazza Del Campo, Siena, Italy *
2- Piazza Della Signoria, Florence, Italy *
3- Staromestske Namesti, Prague, Czech Republic
4- Markt, Bremen, Germany
5- Grote Markt, Brussels, Belgium *
6- Piazza and Piazzetta San Marco, Venice, Italy *
7- Piazza Del Campidoglio, Rome, Italy *
8- Krasnaja Polscad, Moscow, Russia
9- Sultanahmet Meidani, Istanbul, Turkey
10- Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy *
11- St. Peter's Square, The Vatican *
12- Place Des Vosges, Paris, France
13- Place Vendome, Paris, France
14- Place Des Terreaux, Lyon, France
15- Place Stanislas, Nancy, France
16- Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain
17- Schlossplatz, Stuttgart, Germany
18- Plaza De La Constitucion, Mexico City, Mexico
19- Praca do Comercio, Lisbon, Portugal
20- Trafalgar Square, London, UK *
21- Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin, Germany
22- Konigsplatz, Munich, Germany
23- Winter Palace Square, St. Petersburg, Russia
24- Piccadilly Circus, London, UK *
25- Piazza Duomo, Milan, Italy *
26- Piazza Dell'Unita D'Italia, Trieste, Italy
27- Theaterplatz, Dresden, Germany
28- Maria Theresien Platz, Vienna, Austria *
29- Hosok Tere, Budapest, Hungary *
30- Plaza De Mayo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
31- Times Square, New York City, USA *
32- Tian'anmen Square, Beijing, China
33- Praca Dos Tres Poderes, Brasilia, Brazil
34- Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto, Canada
35- City Hall Plaza, Boston, USA
36- Place Beaubourg, Paris, France *
37- Tsukuba Center Square, Tsukuba, Japan
38- Place Du Nobre D'Or, Montpellier, France
39- Placa Dels Paisos Catalans, Barcelona, Spain
40- Parliament Square, Canberra, Australia
41- California Plaza, Los Angeles, USA
42- Schouwburgplein, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
43- Potsdamer Platz, Berlin, Germany

I've hung out in 14 of these places. I might have been to a few more, but after 18 years, the memories of Berlin and Munich and Paris are a bit hazy.

How many have you visited?


and the winner is...

Friday, September 05, 2008

Today is the inaugural day for the book closet giveaway. I counted up all the comments from the time I posted that particular post and right now (excluding my comments, of course). And then I had the computer pick a number between 1 and 27. It came up with...12. And the 12th comment? Well, it just so happens to belong to the birthday girl (I swear I didn't rig the contest!). How do computers know these things??

So congratulations to Ti! And in honor of Ti...

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear Ti-iiiiiiiiiiii
Happy birthday to you!

Send me an email letting me know what book you would like...after you finish eating your birthday cake, of course!


the book closet

Occasionally (if I remember and if I'm not off on some exotic vacation), I will have a weird giveaway and pick a winner. This lucky person will have their pick of one book from my book closet (seriously, these are books that have been relegated to the closet). Don't get too excited...these aren't shiny new books. They are gently loved books previously read (or not) by me. But don't worry...I don't smoke and I don't have any pets and I don't fling books across the room in disgust. The worst thing you might find is a chocolate smear, but that's only because books like chocolate chip cookies. Really.

So what kind of books am I talking about?

The Sister (please note, this is an ARC)
Angelina's Children
Dream Homes
Mrs. Dalloway
The Gangster We Are All Looking For
In the Castle of the Flynns
The Lost Legends of New Jersey
Bound South
Caspian Rain
Lies My Teacher Told Me (audiobook)
A Long Stone's Throw (audiobook)

So that's the list. I will occasionally add books, and I reserve the right to take books off of the list, because I'm fickle like that.


Peer Pressure

Thursday, September 04, 2008

I was looking through books yesterday at the shops and saw all the Twilight books, which I know basically nothing about. What I do know is that I’m beginning to feel like I’m the *only* person who knows nothing about them.

Despite being almost broke and trying to save money, I almost bought the expensive book (Australian book prices are often completely nutty) just because I felt the need to be ‘up’ on what everyone else was reading.

Have you ever felt pressured to read something because ‘everyone else’ was reading it? Have you ever given in and read the book(s) in question or do you resist? If you are a reviewer, etc, do you feel it’s your duty to keep up on current trends?

I do this more with authors than books. And it tends not to work out for me. Let me submit into evidence Exhibit A. And Exhibit B. I had wanted to read both Rushdie and Allende to see what all the fuss was about…unfortunately, I think I chose the wrong book in both cases and I’m not feeling like running out to buy another and try again.

Although I did recently give Ann Patchett a second chance, despite twice failing to finish Bel Canto. And I read Run in two nights and loved it. Go figure.

I did read the Twilight books after seeing them mentioned on what seems like everyone’s blog. But while that was what brought them into my radar, I read them because they sounded interesting. I do this with other books, too, but as with Twilight, it’s more about what sounds interesting than what the cool kids are reading. Of course, not all the books end up holding my interest. But that’s another story.

I can refuse peer pressure. And be perverse about it (just ask my mom). I never saw Titanic (except for in bits and pieces, because it’s hard to escape when Hamburger falls asleep with the remote clutched in his had and it comes on tv)…I don’t know about you, but I had no desire to watch the movie when everyone knows the boat is going to sink and there will be unhappiness. And possibly tears. Even though I used a movie as an example, instead of a book, what I’m saying is that there will be some trends that I refuse to join. And there will be some (hello Twilight) that I embrace. And some that completely escape my notice (I’d give you an example, but that would mean I had to notice it). And others that I have no desire to even try (skinny leg jeans, for example. And Stephen King.).


Civic disgust

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Hamburger and I went out to dinner on Sunday night. And no, we didn't go to Lolo's (that was Friday). When we were out last weekend we had noticed a new Italian restaurant down on the Embarcadero, which is the road that runs along the bay. We were all excited, since we love Italian food and Morro Bay's Italian options are pizza (Domino's), pizza (Pizza Port), Sabetta's (marginal take-out that arrives via slow boat from China (or whereever, it's definitely not Italy)) and pizza (Round Table).

You know, when it comes to restaurants, we don't ask for a lot. Luckily, the food was good. The service was not. And it took for-freakin'-ever to get our food. So much for all our excitement about finding a new go-to restaurant. Morro Bay must have 20 restaurants along the Embarcadero, but they all cater to the tourists...either fish and chips, or fancy seafood dinners. If you're a local, you don't go to the Embarcadero. You go to Lolo's. Or Taco Temple.

As we were driving home, Hamburger once again lamented the lack of a frozen yogurt shop in Morro Bay. I mentioned that maybe the ice cream shop had frozen yogurt. Hamburger didn't even know we had an ice cream shop (yes, he really is that clueless). However, it was closed. At 6:30 on a Sunday during Labor Day weekend. Have I mentioned Morro Bay is supposed to be a tourist destination?

So we were talking about how hard it is to support your town and its local businesses when, well, your town sucks. Which then reminded me of this article, which states how broke Morro Bay is. Because we have this butt-ugly power plant that barely produces any more, so the city no longer gets tax revenue (or something like that...there's a reason I didn't major in business or economics). I read another article a couple of days ago that suggests the city might have to dis-incorporate if it can't pull its head out of its ass (okay, that's my interpretation) and fix its budget issues.

Dis-incorporate? I didn't even know cities could do that.

I know, I know, you're wondering why we live here. Well, let me just put it this way...



Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Okay, so I really didn't say zounds. I said crap, because I own my potty mouth. But doesn't zounds make a better title?

Why am I cursing? Because I left my book at work. A book I was just starting to get into and was all excited about reading tonight (I'm reading Run). I even know exactly where the book is - on top of the file cabinet in my cubicle. It's hanging out with Structured Decision Making policy manuals and training guides, so it's probably gonna be mighty unhappy with me tomorrow. And I didn't even leave any good snacks around.

I'm seriously bummed, because Rushdie was a downer and after a week of "meh, I don't want to open my book tonight," I'd finally found one that's holding my interest. And, I'm at a very important part. I was reading in the waiting room at the dentist this morning, and I couldn't exactly say "wait a minute, I just need to finish this chapter." I'd been looking forward to finding out what's happening all day.

So I really don't want to start anything else, although I seem to have 145 other books to choose from. But I know me...if I start something else, I'll forget about Run, and then it will really hate me.

Instead, I've downloaded and am listening to Everlast's version of Folsom Prison Blues.

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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