- Fizzy Thoughts: November 2008

My other alter-ego

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The other day Joanne posted about her alter-ego the shady mechanic, so I just had to join in the fun. The Typealyzer tries to identify your personality based on your blog. Evidently, this is me:

ESTP - The Doers

The active and playful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities. The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.

I look like I'm ready for a mean game of dodgeball. Where's the book? And the cushy chair?? So, let's count the ways this is wrong:

  • I haven't worn pigtails since I was three.
  • I wouldn't be caught dead in shorts and knee socks.
  • I have lousy hand-eye coordination.
  • I work in a cubicle in front of a computer.
  • Just the thought of engaging in physical outdoor activities exhausts me.
  • I have no problem sitting still. None. Ditto for inactivity.

How about you? Does your blog reflect the real you?


Sunday Salon - my recent reading frenzy

I can't believe it's the last day of November, can you? I don't think I'm ready for December and the end of the year. Although after yesterday's visit to Target I can say that I'm finished with my Christmas shopping.

So with five days off of work, I've been busy. Reading. Since Wednesday night, I've finished seven books. It's been quite awhile since I've read so many books in such a short period of time. I have yet to write up my thoughts on any of the books, but here are the victims of my reading frenzy:

The Likeness, Tana French
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, Chuck Klosterman
Life After Genius, M. Ann Jacoby
Apart from the Crowd, Anna McPartlin
Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher
Riding with the Queen, Jennie Shortridge
Broken, Daniel Clay

All were good books, although they all had an element of darkness running through them. And interestingly, the last four all gave me serious doubts at first...each book had something that bothered me, whether it was the characters (Riding), or the writing (13 and Broken), or the approach (Apart). However, they all managed to suck me in eventually.

And now, for the rest of the day, I think I'll be spending a serious chunk of time on my computer writing future posts for each of these books. And maybe sneaking in a little more reading.


book (not black) Friday

Friday, November 28, 2008

You probably thought I was out shopping and forgot all about the Friday giveaway. Hah! I spent the day cleaning. And reading. Since I spent a lotta time at the outlets on all those trips to Davis, I've already done my part to stimulate the economy. Although Hamburger and I did go out to dinner. Because the only Thanksgiving leftovers we came home with was carrot cake. Which I will confess to having for breakfast. So, now that you know my dirty little secret, let's move on to this week's winner.

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2008-11-29 01:35:54 UTC

That would be Jessi. Yay for Jessi!

The book closet is still a little empty, although the Diamant book is in there. Please email me (fizzybeverage at gmail dot com) and let me know what book you'd like and your address. Congratulations!



Thursday, November 27, 2008

Today is Thanksgiving here in the U.S.

Now, you may have noticed that the global economy isn’t exactly doing well. There’s war. Starvation. All sorts of bad, scary things going on.

So–just for today–how about sharing 7 things that you’re thankful for?

This can be about books, sure–authors you appreciate, books you love, an ode to your public library–but also, how about other things, too? Because in times like these, with bills piling up and disaster seemingly lurking around every corner, it’s more important than ever to stop and take stock of the things we’re grateful for. Family. Friends. Good health (I hope). Coffee and tea. Turkey. Sunshine. Wagging tails. Curling up with a good book.

So, how about it? Spread a little positive thinking and tell the world what there is to be thankful for.

1. I'm thankful for Hamburger (who is currently asleep on the couch, despite the fact that dinner is still 5 hours away), because he let's me be me.
2. I'm thankful for books, because they give me places to go and people to see, even when I'm not traveling.
3. I'm thankful for moms who like to cook Thanksgiving dinner, so I don't have to.
4. I'm thankful for Thanksgiving, because I have 5 days off work (sometimes it's the little things that make you happy).
5. I'm thankful for whoever it was who invented the internets (not Al Gore), so I can stay in touch with all of my internet friends.
6. I'm thankful for you (yes, you), because you read my blog and leave wonderful comments.
7. And finally, I'm thankful I'm not a turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving to all you Americans out there.

And Happy Thursday to everyone!


The Last Days of Dogtown

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Last Days of Dogtown
Anita Diamant
July 2006
288 pages

I’m going for something a little different this time. Because while I really enjoyed this book, I just can’t think of what to write. So I copied all of the editorial reviews from Barnes and Noble, and I’m going to respond to their thoughts. Which means this will be long on content...but short on thought.

From Barnes & Noble:
The setting: early-19th-century Massachusetts. A motley array of stragglers are eking out a bare survival in a decrepit hamlet nicknamed Dogtown because of its scavenger packs of wild canines. These stubborn, weary castoffs live on society's edge -- as widows, witches, spinsters, whores, and freed slaves, they have no other choice. None of them know that Judy Rhines, the middle-aged maiden who lives among them, harbors a secret that could destroy this last refuge. This is Anita Diamant's most powerful novel since The Red Tent.

"A motley array of stragglers are eking out a bare survival in a decrepit hamlet nicknamed Dogtown because of its scavenger packs of wild canines"…whoa, someone likes the adjectives a little too much. And I’m not sure that Judy’s secret could destroy Dogtown. This review makes it seem like the big secret is what drives this book. And that's just wrong.

From the Publisher:
Set on the high ground at the heart of Cape Ann, the village of Dogtown is peopled by widows, orphans, spinsters, scoundrels, whores, free Africans, and "witches." Among the inhabitants of this hamlet are Black Ruth, who dresses as a man and works as a stonemason; Mrs. Stanley, an imperious madam whose grandson, Sammy, comes of age in her brothel; Oliver Younger, who survives a miserable childhood at the hands of his aunt; and Cornelius Finson, a freed slave. At the center of it all is Judy Rhines, a fiercely independent soul, deeply lonely, who nonetheless builds a life for herself against all imaginable odds.
Rendered in stunning, haunting detail, with Diamant's keen ear for language and profound compassion for her characters,
The Last Days of Dogtown is an extraordinary retelling of a long-forgotten chapter of early American life.

This is good…I can get behind this synopsis. It includes a nice summary of the main characters. I’m not sure I would go so far as to say extraordinary, but it was a damn good read.

The New York Times Book Review - Chelsea Cain
…a lovely and moving portrait of society's outcasts living in an unforgiving and barren but harshly beautiful landscape.

Again with the adjectives. And those ellipses makes me wonder what came before.

The Washington Post - Donna Rifkind
Diamant's new novel is not, as its publisher claims, a work of historical fiction. More accurately, what she has created—as she did in her bestselling first novel, The Red Tent—is the overlay of a modern sensibility on an imagined past…In The Red Tent Diamant used a gaudy, Technicolor style to engineer her Old Testament visions of sex and violence, while The Last Days of Dogtown is as plain as sunlight on polished wood. But in both books, she has managed to find an appropriate (if not a true) vocabulary to conjure up a world.

How would you know it wasn’t true, Donna? Were you there? And it is so historical fiction. That's just as plain as sunlight on polished wood. Whatever that means.

Publishers Weekly
Fans of Diamant's The Red Tent who were disappointed by her sophomore effort (Good Harbor) will be happy to find her back on historical turf in her latest, set in early 1800s Massachusetts. Inspired by the settlement of Dogtown, Diamant reimagines the community of castoffs-widows, prostitutes, orphans, African-Americans and ne'er-do-wells-all eking out a harsh living in the barren terrain of Cape Ann. Black Ruth, the African woman who dresses like a man and works as a stonemason; Mrs. Stanley, who runs the local brothel, and Judy Rhines, an unmarried white woman whose lover Cornelius is a freed slave, are among Dogtown's inhabitants who are considered suspect-even witches-by outsiders. Shifting perspectives among the various residents (including the settlement's dogs, who provide comfort to the lonely), Diamant brings the period alive with domestic details and movingly evokes the surprising bonds the outcasts form in their dying days. This chronicle of a dwindling community strikes a consistently melancholy tone-readers in search of happy endings won't find any here-but Diamant renders these forgotten lives with imagination and sensitivity.

Dude, way to give away the whole book. Although, to be fair, there really isn’t anything to give away. This book is more about the characters than the story. And this is actually a good synopsis. Major points for stating the book has a melancholy tone...I found that to be quite true.

Kirkus Reviews
A dying Massachusetts town in the early decades of the 19th century forms the evocative backdrop for a richly imagined cast of characters. Indeed, Diamant throws almost too many people at us simultaneously in the opening chapter. Seventeen characters are introduced in considerable detail at the 1814 wake for one of the few remaining men in the "collection of broken huts and hovels" derisively called Dogtown by its more prosperous neighbors on Cape Ann. The women who gather to bid farewell to Abraham Wharf include mysterious Black Ruth, an African who dresses in men's clothes; wizened Easter Carter, who keeps a meager tavern in her home; vicious Tammy Younger, reputed to be a witch; a trio of bedraggled prostitutes; and warmhearted Judy Rhines, who will stand at the novel's emotional center. The only living man present is brutal John Stanwood; two boys there, Sammy Stanley and Oliver Young, will find very different paths for themselves over the next 20 years. Diamant quickly and obliquely sketches complex relationships among characters we have just met, which may be initially confusing or even annoying to some readers. But as the narrative pulls back to reveal various individuals' pasts, she skillfully elicits sympathy for many of these hard-pressed people and makes even the nastiest of them creepily fascinating. All of Dogtown's residents have suffered blows from a brutal society, or fate's random workings, or both. The saddest story is the deep, thwarted love of Judy and Cornelius Finson, a free African who happily shared her bed for a few years until warned off by a local racist. They long for each other as they pursue separate destinies and as Dogtown grows poorer and shabbier. Anyone who can leaves, but only Oliver finds a happy marriage and children. One by one, the inhabitants die off, and Diamant does not spare us the grim details. This is a deeply satisfying novel, populated by people we care about, delineated in spare, elegant prose. Moving, absorbing and engaging: first-rate fiction that will appeal to the literary-minded as well as those in search of just a plain-old good read.

Hello. Your review needs a good editor. And can you not keep up? The first chapter wasn’t that over-whelming.


guest post - Diana Spechler

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Today I have a guest post from the talented Diana Spechler, author of Who By Fire. Check out my post from yesterday if you want to see me gush about her book.

Will You Remember Me?

I spent four and a half years of my life writing my novel, and then another year and a half waiting for my agent to sell it, for my editor to edit it, and for my publisher to produce it and stock the shelves with it. That’s six years I spent obsessing over my novel. And believe me, now that it’s out, the obsession continues. Nothing is more gratifying than knowing that people—real people! not just, like, you know, my mom—are reading my book. I love every angle from which reviewers have considered it, every bookstore that carries it, every single person who takes the time to read it. There’s only one thing about the entire process that I have found relentlessly annoying: a question that has found its way into the collective mouth of The People I Know: “Will you remember me when you’re famous?”

I’ve been asked this question approximately seventy-two thousand times since I sold my book. Each time, it feels like someone is rubbing my nerves with a cheese-grater. Here are some of the answers I’ve been tempted to give:

  1. I am a far cry from famous. I live in a 200-square-foot apartment. Recently, I paid the last three dollars of my rent with nickels. I’m a cocktail waitress! In a bar! Where drunk men ask my breasts for scotch! Writing a book has not made me famous!
  2. Does fame cause memory loss? Are famous people forgetful? How many famous people do you know? How many of them seem to forget things more frequently than, say, you?
  3. There is no answer to this question. We all wonder about the future. Will we be cloned? Will we find contentment? Will the world end in 2012, as many confident experts have predicted? There’s no way I can say for sure whether or not I will forget you. I can guess. I can hypothesize. I can employ the scientific method. But I cannot be certain. I might forget you. I might not.
  4. Sorry…what’s your name again?

    Recently, I was working at the bar when a drunk guy approached me. “How’s the book going?” he asked.
    “Good, good,” I said, smiling. “Thanks.”
    “Yeah? You traveling all over?” “Yup,” I said. “Lots of traveling.”
    “Are you going to forget me when you’re famous?”
    I looked at the man. He was wearing a suit. He was sweating from his forehead a little, the way men sometimes do when they’ve had too many drinks. His tie was loosened and crooked, like a caricature of a drunk guy. He was grinning down at me, swaying slightly on his feet. I had no idea who he was.
    “You?” I said. I gave him a friendly punch in the arm. “You I could never forget.”

Diana Spechler
Author of
Who By Fire

Thanks to Diana for this guest post, and for writing such a wonderful book. Good luck with your next novel...I'm looking forward to reading it!


Who By Fire

Monday, November 24, 2008

Who By Fire
September 2008
344 pages

This is the last time (maybe) I'm going to gloat about being at the Book Group Expo. But before I talk about Who By Fire I need to talk about one of the salons at the Expo. The opening salon on Saturday featured two authors, Andre Dubus III (the House of Sand and Fog dude, who I recognized only because I never finished his book) and Diana Spechler, who I had never heard of before. So you know, honestly, I wasn't expecting much. But during the discussion Diana proved herself to be funny and able to poke fun at herself and also the author of a book I was starting to think I needed to read. So fast forward a few hours to me buying the book and then running over (okay, it was a fast walk) to have it signed. And then Trish was there and we talked about blogging and Diana's (and Trish's!) upcoming birthdays. And before I knew it, it was the evening and I had a lovely email from Diana about how it was great to meet me (*swoon*) and how she'd like to maybe do something to feature her book on my blog.

And after reading her book, this turned out to be no hardship at all. None. The only reason I haven't posted about the book sooner is because I did a couple of other tours earlier this month and I didn't want to do back to back to back author posts. I wanted Diana's book to have some space, so to speak. Because this one is going on my list of favorites for 2008. Seriously. I'm not just being nice, because I think we've established that that's just not the way I roll.

Now, onto Who By Fire. It's got lots of elements I like in a book. There are interesting characters, there's humor (but also seriousness), there are references to popular culture (guaranteed to make me happy), it didn't make me scratch my head and wonder what the hell, and yet it also told me about things I didn't even know existed (yeshivas anyone?). All that and an engaging story to boot.

So, what's it about? It's about a family torn apart by the kidnapping of its youngest child. The kidnapping, however, is not the focus of the book...it just sets the stage. Years later, we see how the kidnapping has affected the lives of the rest of the family. Ellie, the mom, is...well, she's kind of indescribable, without resorting to the stereotype of a Jewish mother. Bits, the eldest child, turned into the Whore of Babylon (her brother's description, and one of my favorite lines from the book). And Asher, the son, has been searching for most of his life. Only thing is, he may not really know what he's searching for (and apologies for sounding a bit like a U2 song there). Bits and Ellie certainly don't think he knows what he's doing, because he ran off to Israel to study at a yeshiva, and he won't even talk to them when they call. Ellie and Bits respond to this decision in different ways, setting in motion events that will change their family.

I found myself continuously pulling for the characters, despite the dumb-ass decisions they kept making. At first, I didn't even like them that much. By that, I don't mean I didn't like their fictional existence, but that I didn't think I'd like them if they were real people, if that makes any sense. But after awhile, they grew on me, and by the end of the book I didn't want them to go away. In fact, I wanted to give them all hugs. Well, except for Ellie...I'm still pissed at her.

Diana Spechler turns 30 next year…so give her an early birthday present and go buy her book.

And tomorrow, the author herself will be here to post about all the gloriousness of being a published author.


Weekly Geeks

Sunday, November 23, 2008

This week, Dewey is sending us bloghopping!

1. Using the WeeklyGeeks category here in my blog, find 5 Weekly Geeks you don’t know. The easiest way is probably to look at the Mr Linkies in my weekly Saturday posts.
2. Visit each of your 5 new blogpals and snoop around their blogs to find at least one thing you have in common.
3. In your blog, write a post, linking to your 5 new blogpals, about what you have in common with them.
4. Come back and sign Mr Linky.
5. As you run across other Weekly Geek posts (or deliberately seek them out) if you see anyone mentioned who has something in common with you, pay them a visit.

My first stop was Sophisticated Dorkiness, where I discovered Kim's college football team (the Wisconsin Badgers) just beat my college football team (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Mustangs). Small world, no?

At 1more chapter, I read Michelle's latest review, on Downtown Owl, a book by Chuck Klosterman that I didn’t even know existed. However, I’m currently reading Klostermans’ Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs. Have you ever noticed that you can go along oblivious to a certain author, then suddenly you see their books everywhere (just last week I saw a guy in Starbucks reading Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs).

I’m cheating a bit by linking to Lou, but I have to mention her. I found her blog (or she found mine) two Weekly Geeks ago, so that’s close right? But get this…Lou lives in Denmark, but she has been to Morro Bay! And okay, I haven't visited Copenhagen, but a girl can dream. Anyways... I get a kick out the fact that I blog about local things and Lou knows what I'm talking about.

Bernadette (Reactions to Reading) lives in Australia. I once dated an Australian boy. Does that count? She also spends her days writing about bureaucratic nonsense. We could be twins!

Finally, I stopped at Melanie’s blog (The Indextrious Reader) and admired the lovely green theme…because green is my favorite color. Also, we share childhood favorites…Anne of Green Gables, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and A Wrinkle in Time.


I'm weird - again

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Marina tagged me for this one, and I think I might just be the last person in the blogging universe to do it (except for Rochelle, so guess who just got tagged?). Actually, I think I have done it, but not in relation to books.

So, rules above, and here we go.

1. I almost always read the end of the book first. And I know there are others like me.

2. I have never read a Stephen King book, and you can't make me. I have, however, read many of his wife's books. Have you?

3. I have no memories of learning to read, or of being read to. Yet I can't remember a time when I didn't love reading.

4. I have shelves at Library Thing and Good Reads, although I never update them. Since I get rid of most of my books after they're read, it seems pointless to keep a virtual bookshelf. I should delete the accounts, but I like the Good Reads newsletter.

5. When I travel I love to buy bookmarks from the places I've visited. Except then I get home and never use them.

6. I want to be a librarian. Except librarians in our area make less money than I do, so that's a job move that just won't happen.

7. My boyfriend is not a reader. At all. He's read one book in the 16 years we've been together. However, he's very accepting of all the time I spend with my nose in a book. And at bookstores.

I would tag seven people, but I think you all have done this. Except for Rochelle, who needs to tell the world why she named her fish Oshima.



Friday, November 21, 2008

Psst, Veens. You won.

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2008-11-21 15:24:05 UTC

Yes, with the 18th comment of the week, the lovely Veens has won her choice of a book from the (currently not very well-stocked) book closet.

Veens, I still have your address, so let me know what book you want!


Piedras Blancas

About 45 minutes north of Morro Bay, on Highway 1, there is a point known as Piedras Blancas. If you are at all familiar with our stretch of coastline, this is just north of Hearst Castle, right around the area where the elephant seals have taken over the beaches. For a few weeks, Hamburger was working at the Piedras Blancas lighthouse, replacing a floor in one of the outbuildings. Last Sunday we drove up there to collect some of his tools, and we got a private tour by the Bureau of Land Management dude that is stationed at the lighthouse. Hamburger actually climbed up the ladder and through the hole and stood on top of the lighthouse to check out some incredible views. I chickened out (the thought of backing down out of the hole and onto the ladder without anything to grab onto was making my palms all sweaty). Unfortunately, I didn't take my camera with me, but I did nab a few photos from the BLM website.

This is what the lighthouse looked like around 1906. The Pacific Ocean is directly behind the lighthouse. In the 1940s there was some earthquake damage and the top of the lighthouse was removed. Today, it is a stumpier version:

Poor little lighthouse. It's in need of lots of TLC. There are plans to restore the lighthouse to its former glory (starting with replacing its top...but they need 10 million dollars to do that).

Very few of the original buildings remain. The Victorian house that was the first keeper's residence was bulldozed into the ocean in 1960. Yes, into the ocean...it made for a handy dumping ground. The other keeper's house was sold for $1 and moved to nearby Cambria. Evidently the company that moved the house went bankrupt from the effort.

And the Fresnel lens that used to guide ships is now in Cambria:

How about you...any lighthouses in your neighborhood?



Thursday, November 20, 2008

I receive a lot of review books, but I have never once told lies about the book just because I got a free copy of it. However, some authors seem to feel that if they send you a copy of their book for free, you should give it a positive review.

Do you think reviewers are obligated to put up a good review of a book, even if they don’t like it? Have we come to a point where reviewers *need* to put up disclaimers to (hopefully) save themselves from being harassed by unhappy authors who get negative reviews?

I haven't weighed in on this topic (and last week's controversy) yet, mostly because I was out of town last week and had limited internet access.

I can certainly understand all of the various stances on this topic...I'm a big believer in doing what you feel is right. Since I've been quiet through all of the debate, I figure it's time to ramble on about my approach to book blogging. Although if you've read my blog for very long, you can probably figure out where I stand. And if you know me in person, then you also know the O word (obligated) is a bad word in our household.

First, I receive very few review copies. This month is an exception, because I'm doing a few blog tours and author guest posts...but the reality is those are rare events around here. Almost all of the books I review are books I've bought. Some I've won in contests and a few have been mooched through BookMooch. But the majority are books I paid for. As I commented elsewhere today, my money, my thoughts.

Second, like many people, I started my blog for me, because I can't remember squat and I wanted a way to keep track of the books I read, and also it was a way to keep in touch with friends. That it has mutated into a book blog (but still with a bunch of other stuff thrown in) with people who regularly read and comment is still a surprise.

Third, I'm sarcastic. It's part of my personality and I want my blog to reflect my personality. I know I have readers that like that side of me. And some that don't. But we're all unique individuals with different styles. I don't want to read identical blogs with identical thoughts.

Fourth, I always feel weird when I say I've written a review. Because I don't really consider my posts to be reviews. They're my thoughts...disjointed, not very analytical, and usually indicative of my gut reaction to a book. And my mood. This week I've been especially silly, and I like to be silly. Some days the silly isn't there and I'll just write a quick synopsis of a book. And some days I get a little pissy. So you could say I offer the good, the boring, and the ugly.

Having said all that, I do try to tone down the sarcasm and be more thoughtful (not thoughtful as in considerate (although that too) but thoughtful as in a well-thought-out post) when I'm writing about a book I was asked to review. However, like I said before, I don't receive too many free books. And this leads me to something I'd already been thinking about before last week...

I'm not sure I really want the free books anymore. Books from random contests and books friends offer to send me, yes. But books I'm obliged to curtail my personality over...mmm, maybe not. Believe it or not, it's hard for me to sound intelligent and offer up review-like posts on books. It's a lot of work, and well, I already have a job.

Besides, I've got oodles of books wedged into crowded shelves. I'm sure they'd like a little attention. in 2009.



The other day Chartroose referred to me as the notorious softdrink. I told her I felt like a rapper. I was thinking Notorious S had a certain ring to it, although after I thought about it some more (yes, I need a life) Notorious F.I.Z. sounds even better. Then I decided I needed a song. Unfortunately, I have no musical ability, and my poetic skills are missing in action, too. Luckily, the internet was there for me. I went searching for some rap lyrics that sounded familiar and that I could ummmm, personalize...yeah, that's the word. So, I present to you...

Notorious F.I.Z, as inspired by Eminem*:

My name is (what?)
My name is (who?)
My name is (chika-chika) Softdrink
My name is (ha?)
My name is (what?)
My name is (chika-chika) Softdrink

Excuse me?
Can I have the attention of the class, for one second?

Hi kids, do you like reading books?
Wanna see me try to rap? Take a look.
Wanna copy me and do exactly like I did?
End up wearin’ glasses over your eyelids?
My brain's dead weight.
I'm tryin' to set my words straight, but I can't figure out
which author I wanna imitate.
Chartroose said "Softdrink, you an asshat**."
"Don’t be like Doprah. Don't read that."
Since I was a kid I’ve been a bookworm
Don’t wanna play, I’d rather read about wheatgerm
Stayed up late, but not on a date
I had to read one more page
Tellin' me to turn off the light just sent me into a rage
I take a look and read a book
Faster than Snoop Dogg
I write a review on my blog.

My English teacher wanted me to read plays in junior high.
The only problem was,
It didn’t fly ‘cause Will was too dry.
All I remember is a merchant
Man that play is really ancient.
Today I took a little detour
Into the bookstore
Flashed the cashier my discount card
Found some new authors, hopefully no blowhards.
I’m currently reading Klosterman
He talks about tribute bands, when basketballs change hands
Wonder if he dances the can-can.

I just found out my mom reads more books than I do.
Wait, that’s not true.
I told her I'd grow up to be a famous author.
Write a book about lunch ladies, and name it after her
She said thank you.
You know you read too much when the doctor thinks he’s clever
Tells you your eyesight’s no better
How come I can’t see any of the letters?
It’s quite the bummer
But this verse is over.

Stop the tape!
This kid needs a book.
Don’t just stand there, take a look
In the bookstore
Or the library by the shore.
What to read next? I can barely decide.
I just read Eggers,
Dare me to deride?
All my life I’ve been sleep deprived.
I stay up late, I won’t be denied.
My palms are always holding a book
I’d rather stay in my PJ’s in my reading nook.
I squint when I look
into the distance
Too many years reading, for instance.
I lay awake dreaming up new endings
‘Cause I don’t like some of the author’s renderings
And by the way, I know I’m bad
I can’t rhyme
It makes me sad.

*This is no way an endorsement of Eminem and rap lyrics, which I generally find to be misogynistic, homophobic, demeaning crap.

**Chartroose didn't really call me an asshat. Other people, yes. Me, no.


You Shall Know Our Velocity!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

You Shall Know Our Velocity!
Dave Eggers
July 2003
368 pages

Okay, so we've got two guys, Will and Hand. Will is our narrator and he's got $80,000 burning a hole in his pocket. Someone took a picture of him screwing in a light bulb (yes, I know, it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke) and a light bulb company then paid him the 80 grand to use his picture on their packaging. Only Will feels like he doesn't deserve the money and he's determined to get rid of it by travelling to third world countries and randomly handing out wads of cash to seemingly deserving people. Oh, and Hand goes along for the ride.

So that's the basic story. Except there's more. Prior to the trip, Will got the shit beat out of him in a storage locker for no apparent reason. Consequently, he's not looking the handsomest. Their friend Jack died in a car accident and Will isn't coping too well. And, they can't always get there from here. Or even from there. In fact, someone needs to introduce these two bozos to SlowTravel. Because they suck at trip planning. Just saying.

This is pretty much the whole book. And it was entertaining and thought provoking (you had to be there) for awhile. Then it floundered (why do we say floundered anyways...why not halibuted?).

Lucky me, just about the time it floundered-halibuted, I googled to see what I was missing (come on, don't you ever do that?). And hello. It seems I was missing quite a bit. Like a whole middle section written by Hand after the fact that sheds a bunch of light on Will and his actions and his mental state. Unless Hand was lying, but we might not ever know that. Unless Eggers writes another reality check piece and re-names his book yet again. See, Eggers wrote Hand's addendum after the book was published, then turned around and published the new version with a different title. Then he changed the title back to the original and re-re-published with the additional section. What the heck? Can authors do that? And how come I bought a version without the mysterious middle section. I mean, that's not fair...Barnes and Noble should take pity on us ignorant consumers and post a big giant buyer beware poster in the Eggers section. Because what if I'd never googled the title and found the link (thank you wikipedia) to the extra pages that pretty much both negated and enhanced everything I'd just read? I would've finished the book thinking "eh." Now I'm thinking "WTF was that all about, Mr Eggers?"

Raych gave this book 9 caterpillars, but I think I just ran over three of her caterpillars with my bicycle. Anyone else read this?


You know you're getting old(er) when...

I went to the eye doctor yesterday. Since my regular eye doctor was on vacation, I saw the old guy. My regular doctor is 31 (although she looks 17) and the old guy really isn't that old. He's 59. Why do I know the ages of my eye doctors? Because the doctor told me. He said since he's older, he doesn't sugarcoat the diagnosis. So he laughed about my age (as in, "oooh, I see you're 39") and then he told me I needed reading glasses. Evidently, I'm a few years ahead of schedule.

This really isn't that traumatic, because I already wear glasses. Actually, I wear contacts. Well, one of them. Only, it seems I now need a whole 'nother type of glasses.

See (see? get it? hahahahaha...okay, bad pun), it's like this. I have staphyloma in one eye, which in layman's terms means there is a bulge in the back of my eyeball and I can't see jack shit. Since I was born that way it's no biggie. But in my good eye, I'm near-sighted. I've alternated between wearing glasses and one contact for most of my life. I love, love, love my contact lens because I also love to wear sunglasses, and who wants to be off with the glasses, on with the sunglasses every time you step outside?

Except now it seems I'm going to be doing the on with the reading glasses, off with the reading glasses, on with the I need help with my distance vision glasses, off with the I need help with my distance vision glasses, on with the prescription sunglasses, repeat routine.

To be fair, the doctor did give me the option of bifocals...but he said they're hard to get used to, and if I wasn't opposed to two pairs of glasses, he suggested starting there. And I still get to wear my contacts when I won't be around the computer or a book (which translates to once in a blue moon). I think he's conspiring to get me out of the contacts, because he admitted he doesn't like us monocular (I learned a new word today) people wearing contacts. Which I can totally understand...I just get tired of wearing glasses.

So once the new glasses arrive, I will own 5 pairs of glasses. The new reading glasses, the new prescription sunglasses, the old prescription sunglasses that I really don't like, the older pair of distance vision glasses that I currently wear if I'm not wearing the contact, and the newer pair of distance vision glasses that I got last year but don't really like so I never wear them. And then there are the miscellaneous regular sunglasses that I have.

I think I need a bigger purse.


Teaser Tuesday

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

  • 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!

"The most obvious is the Trix Rabbit, a tragic figure whose doomed existence is not unlike that of Sisyphus. Since the cereal's inception, the rabbit - often marginalized as "silly" - has never been allowed to enjoy even one bowl of his favorite foodstuff, and the explanation for this embargo smacks of both age discrimination and racism (we are to accept that Trix is reserved exclusively "for kids")."

from Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, by Chuck Klosterman


Between the Tides

Monday, November 17, 2008

Between the Tides
Patti Callahan Henry
June 2007
352 pages

On her 30th birthday Catherine "Cappy" Leary is feeling a bit out of sorts. Her boyfriend has apparently forgotten her birthday, she still hasn't scattered her father's ashes, and a former boyfriend has just come knocking on the door. He wants her to spend the weekend in Seaboro, her childhood home, a place she hasn't returned to since she was 12 and tragedy struck. It's also where her father wants his ashes scattered.

Reluctantly, Catherine agrees to the trip. As she struggles with the return to her beloved hometown and saying goodbye to her father, Catherine also encounters old childhood friends and memories. While many of the secrets that are uncovered can be seen coming from 50 pages away, this is still a good story. Its strength is in its setting...this book is an ode to the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Its weakness is Cappy and her poor orphan me attitude that wears a little thin after awhile...and its quick ending. However, it was still an enjoyable way to pass a few hours.


Weekly Geeks

Sunday, November 16, 2008

This week we're making our own books-based Weekly Geeks Gift Giving Guide:

1. Think about the books that you and people in your life love. It’s best to use more obscure books, because we’ve all heard plenty about the more popular ones.
2. Come up with categories, based on relationship, personality, or whatever else you like. I think this is easier to do once you have your books in mind; you can then just assign categories to those books.
3. Post your own gift giving guide! Add short blurbs about the books, just enough so that your readers can determine if it’d be a good gift for people on their list. Don’t forget to come back and sign Mr Linky.
4. Visit other Weekly Geeks, and if you like their guides, maybe add links to the bottom of your own.


The women in my family are the readers. The men, not so much. Although that probably has something to do with the fact that there are more women in the family. At least on my dad's side. On my mom's side, my uncle is a reader, but that's about it. So this is a sort-of true, sort-of hypothetical list.

A book for musical brothers: Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
I saw this book at Borders a few weeks ago and thought "this would be perfect for my brother! If only he read books..."

A book for uncles with the travel bug: The Happy Isles of Oceania, by Paul Theroux

Every year I get a book written by a travel writer for my uncle. This year I chose The Happy Isles of Oceania...because almost 50 years ago he and my aunt packed everything up and moved to Hawaii for a year.

The book for moms who like to cook: Dolce Italiano

Okay, so I have ulterior motives with this one. My mom is an excellent cook, so this just gives her more recipes to try out.

A book for boyfriends who love motorcycles: Hell's Angels, Hunter S. Thompson

I've even read this one. But Hamburger will never read it. Oh well.

The book for quirky female cousins: The Roaches Have No King

Actually, my cousins are the one who recommended this book. It remains one of the weirdest books I've ever read. Which probably says something about our family.

And for the in-laws: Croatia

I love the Eyewitness Guides because they have gorgeous photos. But they weigh a ton, so they're not the best books to take on a trip. But they sure are fun to look at beforehand. And we just might be going to Croatia in 2010.


I'm a bookworm

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Lou, all the way over in Denmark, tagged me with the Bookworm Award. Along with the lovely picture, it requires you to:

Open the closest book to you, not your favorite or most intellectual book, but the book closest to you at the moment, to page 56. Write out the fifth sentence, as well as two to five sentences following there.

I am still reading You Shall Know Our Velocity! Some of you may be familiar with it from my Tuesday Teaser, although it didn't really say much. So here's a little more:

"We wanted to swim but we would have to find a beach. And we needed to move. We had a plan.
First, drive south along the coast to the Sine-Saloum Delta to see mangroves and crocodiles, then
Slip into The Gambia, visas be damned, then
Follow the River Gambja up to Georgetown, then
Swing back up, into southern Senegal and
Back in time for a late-evening flight to, ideally, Moscow. Easy."

That might seem like more than five sentences, but I was counting periods, not capitals.

I'm also supposed to tag five people, so here goes:

I didn't get any reading in on the drive home from Sacramento (it's about a five hour drive...I could've finished my book!) because I was a nice person and drove all the way. I was kinda enjoying the rental car, since they gave us a Nissan Altima. It was comfy and zippy and oh so easy to drive. I've always been a die-hard Honda fan, but this car may be a serious contender when it's time to go new car shopping.

In the good news department, I am home for good (except for a short girlfriend getaway planned for next month). My work trips are all done, and I plan on being a serious homebody for the next few months. Hopefully, I'll get back into bookworm mode, too, so I can live up to my award.


short and sweet

The winner of this week's book closet giveaway is...


And I'm guessing she wants Coraline. Let me know if I'm right, Care! And congratulations!!



Friday, November 14, 2008

Neil Gaiman
illustrations by Dave McKean
162 pages

You know, there are plenty of wonderful covers for Coraline. And I got stuck with this one. Ah well, at least the inside is filled with the most marvelous illustrations. For example:

Yes, that's a hand. Don't you just love it?

Okay. So there's this little girl named Coraline who lives with her mom and dad in a flat in an old house. Coraline's mom and dad both work at home, but they pretty much leave Coraline to entertain herself. So Coraline sets off to explore the house. She finds a mysterious door, which opens up to....

...a brick wall. Are you scared yet? No? Well, you should be. Because when Coraline finally gets through that door she discovers this:

Yowza! That's the other-mother. Other-mother lives in Coraline's other-flat, with her other-father. And all she wants is to for Coraline to love her. And really, what's not to love about a face like that? She's like what Joan Rivers could become if she's not careful.

Anyhoosie, back to Coraline. When other-mother becomes a bit possessive, Coraline must find a way to get back to her real life. Despite the temptation of cool clothes and tasty food, Coraline decides she doesn't really want to be in this alternate universe with button eyes and above for a mother.

At 162 pages, there isn't a whole lot to this book. And yet, there's also a whole lot to this book. Besides the adventure, and the spookiness, and the temptation to scream "don't go through the door!" and the rats (oh, have I not mentioned them?) and the beetles (and all I have to say about that is, ewwwww), there's also a moral (something along the lines of the grass isn't always greener, or perhaps parents don't have to be good cooks to love their children).

Neil Gaiman has said that this is the book he is proudest of. Yes, he really said that...if you don't believe me, read this. And then read this, because it's funny. My favorite is when he says he wouldn't want to meet the other-mother in real-life, because "it was bad enough on paper."

So go. Buy. Read. After all, it's only 162 pages. What have you got to lose? Besides a little sleep...


Why Buy?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I’ve asked, in the past, about whether you more often buy your books, or get them from libraries. What I want to know today, is, WHY BUY?

Even if you are a die-hard fan of the public library system, I’m betting you have at least ONE permanent resident of your bookshelves in your house. I’m betting that no real book-lover can go through life without owning at least one book. So … why that one? What made you buy the books that you actually own, even though your usual preference is to borrow and return them?

If you usually buy your books, tell me why. Why buy instead of borrow? Why shell out your hard-earned dollars for something you could get for free?

Simply put, because my local library sucks. I gave it up years ago when I decided I was tired of choosing from their selection...I much prefer the selection at the bookstore.

And crap, I've gotta go...maybe I'll be back later to gripe to Paris about the lack of internet access in the hotel rooms and the fact that I'm sitting in the freaking lobby with all my co-workers watching me.


The Art of Racing in the Rain

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Garth Stein
May 2008
321 pages

Publishers Comments:
Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.

Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn't simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life's ordeals.

On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny's wife; the three-year battle over their daughter, Zoe, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoe at his side. Having learned what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person, the wise canine can barely wait until his next lifetime, when he is sure he will return as a man.

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life...as only a dog could tell it.

I decided to resort to the publishers comments to summarize the story because I think this is an excellent synopsis of an awesome book. Yes, I said awesome. Why did I wait so long to read this book?!?

I read The Art of Racing in the Rain in almost one evening. I say almost, because I was on page 20 something when I picked it up on election night and proceeded to finish it in one sitting (well, with a few interruptions to hit refresh on the computer to see what was happening with the election...I do come out of my book bubble occasionally). By the end of the book I had laughed out loud many times, and shed quite a few tears. I dare you (no...in honor of Enzo, I double dog dare you) to read this book without falling in love with Enzo. He’s funny and smart and wise. However, lest you think he would be the perfect guy, he does watch too much tv. And he's got a thing for racing videos.

You can’t have my copy, though, because Garth Stein signed it at the Book Group Expo. The title page now sports this warning: ”Beware the zebra!” Which does have relevance to Enzo's story...you'll just have to read the book to find out why.

Actually, I just lied. You can borrow my copy if your name is Rochelle. Rochelle is a friend and fellow reader with a brand new blog. (Feel free to go say hey.) Rochelle is looking for a book that will grab her husband's attention...I'm hoping Enzo and his racing obsession will fit the bill.


Teaser Tuesday (and other stuff)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

  • 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!
My teaser, from You Shall Know Our Velocity!, by Dave Eggers:


Yes, that's right. It's blank. Because I opened up to a random page, and there was nothing there! And no, it's not the blankness of between chapters, because this book has no chapters. I was going to find another teaser, but this is an odd book, and nothing quite stood on its own, so I'm staying with the blank pages. It really is quite appropriate.

In other news (and I use that term loosely):
Tomorrow I leave for Sacramento and my last work-related trip of the year. Hallelujah. I’ll be attending a conference on Structured Decision Making. Ummm…un-hallelujah on that.

This trip will be the fourth work thing I’ve had to travel to in the past two months. I am so, so tired of being away from home, and of driving north on either I-5 or Highway 101. I also have my doubts that I’ll have free internet access at this hotel, which will be a tragedy of epic proportions. Away from home and cut off from civilization. I should probably pack extra books.

Okay, enough of the pity party.
I do have two reviews scheduled to post while I’m away. The Art of Racing in the Rain will be up tomorrow. And Coraline should post on Friday. That is if I ever write the actual post.

Speaking of Friday, if I don’t post the winner of the book closet giveaway, look for it Saturday morning. Coraline has been added to the closet (sorry Coraline, I expect you’re not much of a fan of small dark places) and I’d imagine she’d love you forever if you saved her from the darkness.

And speaking of darkness, on Sunday I finally looked up the short story "The Lottery" and re-read it. (Because after reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle I wanted more Shirley Jackson.) Yikes! I remembered what it was about, but still. How did Jackson come up with this stuff? And what does it say about me that I remember that short story but not A Separate Peace, which I read the same year in high school?


TLC tour stop - Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe

Monday, November 10, 2008

Today I'm pleased to be a TLC tour stop for Jennie Shortridge and her latest book, Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe.

Bestselling author Jennie Shortridge has three published novels: Riding with the Queen, (NAL 2003), Eating Heaven (2005), and Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe (2008). Her next book will be published in November 2009. Prior to writing novels, her nonfiction work appeared regularly in magazines and newspapers, including Glamour, Mademoiselle, Natural Home, and others. The Seattle writer has been called “an accomplished and superior novelist” by the Statesmen Journal and “a writer to watch out for,” by the Rocky Mountain News. She tries not to let it go to her head. She also has a fun website that is worth a visit.

Yesterday I posted about Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe. In that post I mentioned that I was lucky enough to meet Jennie at the Book Group Expo last month. As part of the Wedlocked salon, Jennie discussed both her book and the topic of marriage. Today, Jennie talks more about the subject of marriage:


The Biology of Marriage

Little did I know when I wrote Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe that by re-imagining the age-old story of the runaway wife, I might tap the zeitgeist of that elusive fifty percent: the American married. And not just the female contingent. As I write this, nearly half of the customer reviews for the book on Amazon are from men.

For the past few months promoting this book, I’ve traveled the American West doing readings, phoned in to book club meetings across the country, and participated in numerous blog events out in cyberspace. Through all of that, I’ve been fascinated to discover that we’re all asking the same questions about the state of long-term marriage and the lack of passion that can plague it—or worse, sound the alarm or death knell of something we once thought sacred and forever.

The following Q&A is presented with these caveats: I am no expert in marriage or psychology, and I hold no degrees nor am I a licensed anything. However, my husband and I have been together for nineteen years. I have been both the dumper and the dumpee in other relationships. I read voraciously about the biology of love, the science of romance and dating and mating. And like Paul Simon says in a song of the same title, “Maybe I think too much.”

An imaginary conversation, then, performed in two parts by me:

JS1: Where the heck did all that love and romance go and will it ever come back?

JS2: How clever of you to ask that question, JS! By understanding the biological underpinnings of human love and romance, we can gain clarity and achieve a better comfort level around the inevitable changes in our marriages.

When first we fall in love, chemicals flow through our brains that make us feel euphoric, aroused, and attractive, and like the only one on earth who has ever felt this way with another person. It’s the same chemical that drives addiction. It’s the same chemical that is released when we eat chocolate. Why? So we will fulfill our biological imperative and mate with another human. That’s it. From the body’s perspective, it’s not about finding our soul mate, but about replacing ourselves on earth so our species will survive.

Once we have fulfilled that obligation, or enough time has passed to do that—say a year to a year-and-a-half—the passion chemical is replaced by a bonding chemical that encourages us to stay together long enough to raise the offspring to physical viability—say seven years old (the dreaded seven-year itch). And yes, it applies even if we don’t have children.

At that point, the partnership is no longer required, biologically speaking, and things can get dicey. That’s when we must become our most human selves and not act and react from an unthinking and solely biological place. That’s when it gets more difficult to be romantic and kind with our partners, but we have to if we want to build life-long love and respect (and fingers crossed, passion) inside our relationships.

(For more details from a real expert, read Why We Love by anthropologist Helen Fisher.)

JS1: Must we simply forego passion when it evaporates from our marriage?

JS2: There’s a reason why they say marriage takes work. It’s not the bills or the kids or the countless other obligations that are the hard work. It’s staying passionate and in love and respectful through all of those things that is the challenge. Staying conscious of the state of your relationship, staying awake a little longer at night to canoodle, rubbing your partner’s back when you should really be answering a work email or when you’d really rather watch mindless TV. Watch your partner’s eyes instead when he/she tells you about his/her day. Try to see what’s happening behind the words. Offer a hug that lasts more than two seconds. Squeeze a little harder on bad days. It’s the small kindnesses, and the reciprocation of them, that help two people stay in love.

JS1: Is it wrong to fantasize about running away? Okay, about doing the horizontal tango with someone who is not necessarily your spouse?

JS2: I hope not. I figure that anything happening between your own two ears is your business only. I’ve talked with a lot of women now about this topic, and trust me when I say you’re not the only one with a rich fantasy life.


Many thanks to Jennie Shortridge for this post, and also to TLC Book Tours for giving me the chance to participate and the opportunity to meet Jennie!


Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe
Jennie Shortridge
May 2008
400 pages

Tomorrow, as part of TLC Book Tours, I’m a tour stop for Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe. I read Love and Biology a few months ago, but I’ve been unable to write about it. I was thinking I’d have this post written well in advance. Hah! So much for being an over-achiever. It’s not that I didn’t like the book…far from it. I just didn’t know what to say, because it deserves so much more than it was good, you should read it. And also because I wasn't sure what I really thought about the main character. In fact, she's still making me think. So I’m going to start with the author, not the book.

You see, last month I had the pleasure of meeting Jennie Shortridge at the Book Group Expo. She is bubbly and enthusiastic, and so easy to talk to. I could go on and on about the author, but this is supposed to be about her book. Except that Jennie is easy to gush about…I am now a huge fan, and not just because she introduced Trish and me to Garth Stein and his twinkly eyes. Jennie, I’d still be gushing about you even if you hadn’t introduced us to Garth!

Jennie appeared at the Book Group Expo as part of the Wedlocked salon, with other authors who had written books about marriage. As part of the conversation, Jennie explained that she wanted to write about the worst thing that could happen in a marriage…and what would happen.

Love and Biology is about Mira, a woman settled into her life and marriage. She has arranged her life perfectly. She teaches at the local high school, has remodeled her house to her specifications, is surrounded by friends and family, and is happy with her husband. Her relationship with her daughter may not be what she wishes, but all-in-all, life is good. Then whammo…Mira is blindsided. In shock, she flees her marriage and her life, and finds herself in Seattle, working at a coffee shop. There, she looks back at her life and wonders how she became so complacent and settled. What happened to the young, passionate college student? And in reflecting on her past, Mira rediscovers herself.

I thought about this book for a long time after I finished it. Mira made some decisions that I’m still questioning, but as Jennie said at the Book Group Expo, Love and Biology ends with hope. I enjoyed reading about Mira's journey.

Read the first chapter of Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe.
And check out the soundtrack for the book.

And stop back by tomorrow when Jennie will be here to talk about marriage.


Stop by the other TLC tour stops for Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe here:

Saturday, November 1st: Estella’s Revenge e-zine (author interview)
Monday, November 3rd: Booking Mama (review)
Tuesday, November 4th: Booking Mama
Wednesday, November 5th: She is Too Fond of Books
Friday, November 7th: Curly Wurly Gurly
Friday, November 7th: Curly Wurly Gurly (review)
Monday, November 10th: Fizzy Thoughts
Wednesday, November 12th: Tripping Toward Lucidity
Friday, November 14th: Literarily
Monday, November 17th: Shelf Life
Wednesday, November 19th: Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Friday, November 21st: Bookshipper
Monday, November 24th: Minds Alive on the Shelves
Wednesday, November 26th: Book Addiction
Sunday, November 30th: B & b ex libris


We've got winners!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by my tour stop and entered the contest to win a set of M.J. Rose's The Memorist and The Reincarnationist.

I actually have three sets of books to give away. Here are the winners (and their choices for reincarnationing (I think that has a certain ring to it, don't you?)):

Here are your random numbers:

Timestamp: 2008-11-09 19:44:26 UTC

#8 = Bethany, who said "I would like to live the life of a lone cowboy. I would say cowgirl, but the wild west was too dangerous for a lone girl. I guess If I had a nice cowboy..."

#4 is Chris, who is thinking "Perhaps a bird or some kind of exotic monkey :p Just as long as it has a decent life span."

And #10 is the brand new blogger Rochelle, who wants "to be a Hind one day so I can experience climbing to amazing heights with strength and agility."

Congratulations everyone!!

Bethany and Chris, please email me at fizzybeverage at gmail dot com with your addresses. Rochelle, I'll just add yours to the pile of books I've got to give to you.


Thanks again to M.J. Rose for the books! And don't forget to stop by the rest of the tour stops...you never know, there might be more chances to win!

Monday, October 27th: Fantasy Book Critic
Tuesday, October 28th: The Compulsive Reader
Wednesday, October 29th: The Book Bitch
Tuesday, November 4th: Bloody Hell!
Friday, November 7th: Fizzy Thoughts
Monday, November 10th: Devourer of Books
Wednesday, November 12th: Bookstack
Thursday, November 13th: The Inside Cover
Monday, November 17th: Booking Mama
Tuesday, November 18th: Books I Done Read
Wednesday, November 19th: Diary of an Eccentric
Thursday, November 20th: MommyPie
Monday, November 24th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Friday, November 31st: Frequency of Silence


Sunday Salon - tears and reincarnation

This past week I read The Art of Racing in the Rain and Coraline. Both were excellent reads, but I haven't had a chance to post about them yet. Racing in the Rain made my cry. A lot. But that was okay. I read it right before I turned on the tv to watch the election results, which also made me cry (in a good way!), so I had quite the sob-fest that evening.

Coraline didn't make me cry, but it did make my co-worker shudder. No, I wasn't reading at work. I was out of town for a training, and my co-worker was also my travel companion for the week. I flashed the sketch of the other mother's hand at her...and got a wonderful grimace in response.

I haven't decided on my next read, but I did get to go see the movie version of The Secret Life of Bees. It's been so long since I read the book I can't compare the two, but I did love the movie... despite the fact that it was a tear-jerker. It was a teary week all around.

Sometime around noon today I'll be holding a drawing to giveaway copies of M.J. Rose's books The Reincarnationist and The Memorist. Go join in the reincarnation discussion here and you too can have a chance at winning. Good luck!

And happy reading!


Weekly Geeks

Saturday, November 08, 2008

This week’s Weekly Geek theme is: fun facts about authors.

How to:

1. Choose a writer you like.
2. Using resources such as Wikipedia, the author’s website, whatever you can find, make a list of interesting facts about the author.
3. Post your fun facts list in your blog, maybe with a photo of the writer, a collage of his or her books, whatever you want.
4. Come sign the Mr Linky below with the url to your fun facts post.
5. As you run into (or deliberately seek out) other Weekly Geeks’ lists, add links to your post for authors you like or authors you think your readers are interested in.


Years ago I read Good Omens and American Gods and Stardust.

American Gods remains one my all time favorite books. However, since that initial foray into Gaiman-land, I hadn't picked up another one of his books. Until last month and The Graveyard Book. Followed quickly by Coraline.

So since I've been on a bit of a Gaiman kick lately, I decided to be a Gaiman geek. Here a few interesting facts about Neil Gaiman and his work:

  • Neil Gaiman lives in an Addams Family house, with a "big pointy tower and wrap-around porch." He seems a bit disappointed that the trick or treaters don't stop at his house.
  • Coraline the movie will be in theaters in February. The house in the Coraline movie bears a startling resemblance to the house in The Secret Life of Bees and Gaiman's own house.
  • Neil Gaiman has a blog.
  • His parents would frisk him before family events to make sure he didn't have a book stashed in a pocket.
  • Hey Chartroose, check it out...Lovecraft inspires Gaiman, too.
  • Neil Gaiman believes his books have genders.
  • His last name is pronounced Gay-men. You can here him talk about it here.
  • His cat's name is Fred.
  • Neil Gaiman's voice is perfectly suited for reading his own books. Check it out.
  • He's a beekeeper:

  • He says the first book he ordered online was from Powell's. It was a book on grammar.
  • Last year he wrote a pep talk for NaNoWriMo.
  • He has also contributed to National Doodle Day.


More interesting author facts by other Weekly Geeks:


Friday book closet on Saturday

There were lots of comments over this last week. As usual, Mr. Random Integer picked a number from the crowd. This person will get to choose a book from the book closet. Since I've been reading autographed copies lately, I haven't been adding that many books to the closet. But there are still a few treasures to be found. Especially if you like travel memoirs. Anyhoosie, onto this week's winner...

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2008-11-08 17:20:56 UTC

Congratulations bermudaonion! As you can see, Elmo is really excited for you! I am too, but I slept in this morning and I'm still a little groggy, so Elmo is stepping in as cheerleader. Elmo says please email softdrink (fizzybeverage at gmail dot com) with your choice of book and address.

Also... it's not to late to enter the contest to win a copy of both The Reincarnationist and The Memorist. Hop on over to this post and leave a comment...I'll be drawing winners tomorrow.


4 Things meme

Friday, November 07, 2008

Chartroose tagged me for this meme, and because I'm a Chartroose stalker (see my sidebar), I have to do it! Unfortunately (or is that fortunately?), I've never been the security guard at a bomb making facility, so my lists aren't nearly as exciting. However, I like Chartroose's addition of pictures, so this might be marginally more entertaining than the last time I did it (which was so long ago none of you even read my blog then).

Four Jobs I’ve Had:

Substitute teacher
High school history teacher
Employment/Resource Specialist

Four Movies I Can Watch Many Times: (can I just do 3? Hamburger loves to watch things over and over and over and over again...until I'm sick of them!)

The Secret Life of Bees (because I'd like to see if I could watch it again without crying)
Shawshank Redemption
Napoleon Dynamite

Four Places I’ve Lived:

Maywood, CA
Dufur, Oregon
London, England
Morro Bay, CA

Four TV Shows I Love(d):

“That 70's Show”
“Dirty Jobs”
“Law and Order: SVU”

Four Places I’ve Vacationed:

Kona, Hawaii
Seattle, WA

Four Novels (or series) I have enjoyed rereading:

I'm not one for re-reads.

Four Websites I Visit Often:

NFL.com (to see what games are playing)

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now:

Shakespeare and Co (Paris)
The Tattered Cover (Denver, CO)
The Strand (New York, NY)
Powells (Portland, OR)

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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