Archive for April, 2009

Happy May Day’s Eve

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It’s the last post of the month!    I successfully posted every day in April (and I’m ready to stop…)    I had grand ideas for this post that I would link to everyone who commented and cheered me on this April, but I have a big day planned already and so I will just offer this:

I hereby commit to less posts – not daily, maybe 2-3 per week – for the month of May.   I hereby commit to visit everyone and comment in some fashion: inspired and profound or witty or… TIDDLYPOMS!

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I hereby give notice that the upcoming Weekly Geek will feature yours truly as a guest poster so you may want to check in on that for Saturday.

I hereby resolve to plant a few spring flowers tomorrow to celebrate May Day and I just may invite my new pair of poppets to assist.   They are quite photogenic, don’t you agree?

I am absolutely in love with Enzo the dog and hope to finish the book today.

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I am so happy that Kris was not voted off American Idol last night and have been reading too many blogs already today about the drama of Adam being in the bottom two.  This tragedy was the result of split votes, in my opinion, and not so much conspiracy.   I haven’t voted this season; I guess I’m more in for the fun of it only.   PS My favorite AI site for critical music review is Masterclass Lady.

I wish you all a very happy last day of April.

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“That which you manifest is before you.”

- Enzo’s mantra

Women Reading, Poppets Looking

Becca at Bookstack:  A Ravenous Reader recently celebrated a gift of postcards featuring artwork of women caught in the act of reading.    I was a lucky one to receive a postcard and I must say thank you – it even matches my decor.

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Also this week, my home has been invaded by poppets.     THANK YOU!!

 

 

The artwork is Claude Monet’s Meditation c. 1871

Review 84, Charing Cross Road

Review  efccrhh 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff, Penguin Books 1970, 97 pages

What a delight!    quick, funny, short, smart, DELIGHTFUL.   Helene Hanff was quite a character.    You can read much more about Ms. Hanff by visiting Citizen Reader’s series from mid April 2009  => click here.

Ms. Hanff wrote letters to a bookseller in England and this book describes the relationships she has with books, the employees and family of the bookshop over the course of 20+ years.

I had first heard about 84, Cross Charing Road in a post by Jessica of The Bluestocking Society a looooooong time ago claiming it as one of those books everyone should read.   I had never heard of it.   CR gave me the kick in the butt.    FINALLY, I got around to it and I can’t tell you just how charming it is. This would be an excellent book for a Read-A-Thon if you like a sense of satisfaction for number of books completed,  it won’t take but an hour or two to read – – if that, you will laugh out loud, and you will be delightfully charmed.   I dare you to not be.

Four Slices of Pie

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I am looking forward to seeing the movie.    mvefccr

This is a repeat of a paragraph I posted in a previous post

Quick Whatevers

Despite having much more thoughtful posts incubating in my Draft Bin, I’m going to just type a few random thoughts for today’s entry and wait and see what happens tomorrow.

See that boat in the header?    Well, it’s not that specific actual boat but one just like it that we will be taking out today for the very first time!   Super dooper excited!!!!!!!!    LOTS OF EXCLAMS!!!    This is the final step in the boat-buying process:  the Sea Trial.    Friday, the boat seller ‘splashed’ the boat and yesterday, we sat in it (I read, Hub tinkered) and today, the impressively experienced boat surveyor we hired will explain stuff and check that the darn thing actually ‘goes’.     

I’m still thinking I will go back to The Pillars of the Earth  but I read a review somewhere (I hope I saved the link in one of those drafts but am too lazy to go look) that described exactly what I was starting to feel and so I started skipping around and back and thinking about finally reading the last 50 pages and calling it ‘good’.      I have such a short attention span with chunksters.   I really did get to page 500 and was like “END ALREADY, will ya?!”  sigh.    It’s usually a bad sign if I start reading reviews while in the middle of a book.

So, I’m half way into In the Woods by Tara French.   BIG MISTAKE reading before going to sleep.   My subconscious thinks this even creepier than my awake mind does.   Something is going on and I am totally not sure what.   I think I like the narrator too much and I’m getting worried.    What I am extremely impressed with is the spot-on details of little things in this book.    Ms French is really good.

That’s it for now, Happy Monday!  oh yea – Mailbox Monday and Library Loot?    I bookmooched Chopin’s The Awakening;  it arrived last week.    Back to laundry rebooting.

Weekly Geeks 2009-15 Animals

This week we are inspired by ANIMALS.

Share books (fiction or nonfiction) and/or movies which center around an animal or animals.

First, I am hoping to read this  taoritrgs next.     All I know is that Michelle loved it (and many other bloggers) and that it is narrated by a dog.

Second,  here is my favorite photo of my dog, Oscar:

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Third, I’m trying to remember any latest books I’ve read about an animal…   Must have been this one:   tsoesdw Almondine was my favorite character.   And, I read this:  mandmjgbkcvr

I see a DOG theme!

Review A Lesson Before Dying

I enjoyed a fabulous discussion somewhere (where?! –  do you know?) about reviewing styles and touches on the professional reviewer vs.  the casual ‘reader’ reviews.   I copied/cut&pasted this format.    I regret to say that I did not copy the link of the source post where I saw a comment from Ramya on what makes a good review…    Please, if anyone knows, I would appreciate the information.    Thank you Ramya for commenting this (her words in blue) – I give you full credit as my inspiration.

1. A picture of the cover. I go a lot by first impressions and most of the time, I am right.

Reader Review & Opinion  albdejg A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines, Vintage Contemporaries Vintage Books 1993, 256 pages

2. A short summary of the book. This is very important for me. There are certain books I usually don’t like and I am not going to read further if this is one of them.

A young uneducated black man is accused of murder and sentenced to hang.   The young man’s elderly godmother encourages his cousin, the Negro teacher in town, to persuade the young man to go to his death with dignity.   The book asks the question, “What does it mean to be a man?” and explores how both men are changed by the experience.   Set in the deep South, late 1940s.

3. What the reviewer liked about the book – the cover, the writing style, the length, the characters.

I don’t often select books by their covers, certainly not this one.   I read this because I had heard the title as one being ‘important.’    I knew it as one that could be genre-fied to be African-American and the title definitely implies deep and heavy material.   (Yes and no – heavy but not difficult.)    I liked the book, the style was just fine  – – ugh, I am not good at critiquing style;  If it was not distracting and pulled me into the story = wonderful.   The characters were believable, the action and ideas interesting, the descriptions exact, real and not distracting.    The mood was not maudlin nor melancholy and not really angry exactly but reluctantly/resignedly hopeful – a book about death and futility yet with the realization that we are what we think we are and that dignity is personal.

4. What the reviewer didn’t like about the book (in many cases, this is more important than (3) but these days, with the advent of ARC*s, reviewers shy away from writing what they didn’t like about the book:(

I am rating this book THREE PIEs but I know that over time, I will like this book more and more.    I can’t find any faults with it.   I just didn’t experience that over the top emotional pull.     SPOILER?    Maybe once the connection happened, it transformed too quickly?    and yet, cerebrally, I don’t think it could have been played any better.     But, yea, maybe I didn’t quite buy the ending in that I wanted more about what happens to the teacher and that wasn’t the main point of the story.

5. Personal tidbits – I love a personal review. Most of the bloggers I visit often are my friends now and I love to read some personal detail about them in their review… my way of getting to know them better!

Why did I read this:    Because I saw in on a shelf at the discount store and love a bargain?     I allow books to call to me.    I do think that it is an important book.   I think it would be an excellent book discussion book – I know that I missed BIG THOUGHTS and would appreciate a few clubs over the head to ‘think about THIS’ and I know that I don’t have enough connections in my life to not be uncomfortable with the concept of race relations and don’t quite have an idea how to work that out.  [Whoa - that was an awkward but accurate sentence.]

I really want to see the movie.    I might have to have my own African-American Film Festival and watch this (starring Don Cheadle – one of my all time favorite actors, AND Mehki Phifer AND Cicely Tyson ) and Their Eyes Were Watching God with Halle Berry.

“I also believe that you are what you have to defend, and if you’re a black man that’s always going to be the bar against which you are judged, whether you want to align yourself with those themes or not.  You can think of yourself as a colourless person, but nobody else is gonna.”

- Don Cheadle, from his profile on imdb.com

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* For your information – I never read *new* ARCs – sometimes I’ve read discarded old ones…   The only publisher-sent book** that I did read was so incredibly awful and offensive that I’m scarred for life.   I usually read books after the buzz and sometimes decades later.   I bounce around genres and themes and often fail my challenges because I read whatever and have a hard time sticking to a plan.      I felt the need to state this since the hot topic these days is free books and requests for positive reviews.     I’ve got so many books I want to read, I am boggled you guys sign up for this ARC heartache.   ARC-ache!?

** I didn’t even record the title but Raych read it and gave it the scathing review it deserved.

The Pie Photo

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For the start of the story, click on this post fromTuesday, April 21, 2009.

 

   

 

* The pie tastes great but it won’t be winning any awards for execution.   The pastry needed to be rolled thinner (and/or the pie plate should have been bigger) and the apples cooked a bit longer.    The crust tasted too salty for a sweet pie crust.   Hub loved it – called the crust “biscuit dough, but it works.”  I don’t think a taster would know about the bourbon if not told it’s an ingredient.    I just looked again at the recipe and think maybe the dotted butter on top of the filling might have been salted but I KNOW I used unsalted in the crust (recipe p.31, PIE by K.Haedrich)   This was my first time not to do the pie crust by hand – I tried the mixer method and I think it worked well.    I didn’t even intend to make the crust, since Stop&Shop’s brand of rolled up pie dough is wonderful but I only had half a box in the freezer.   I didn’t have any vegetable shortening so All-Butter was the only one to make.    The insides of the pie = awesome!   chunk Granny Smiths that were actually easy to peel even without the thingy gadget and lots of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove….   and bourbon.  (recipe p. 223, PIE by K.Haedrich) 

Eight Things

Anita at A Happy Reader, A Healthy Eater  tagged me for the 8 Things Meme.   But, I will be skipping the last step of tagging others.    I don’t tag – but feel free to borrow if you need a post idea!    

8 Things I’m Looking Forward To:

1.  Eating the Bourbon Apple Pie I will be baking as soon as I post this:    Happy Birthday Dear!

2.  Anita either went or is going to the Philly Book Festival and I look forward to her telling all about it.

3.  Next week, we test our new boat.     

4.  Going to Phoenix in May – hub has a conference and I get to tag along.

5.  Learning how to drive the new boat.

6. Finishing The Pillars of the Earth.

7.  Enjoying this summer as we explore Narragansett Bay in our new boat.

8.  Getting this meme done.    It’s harder than I thought it would be. 

 

8 Things I Did Yesterday:

1. Took a shower, 2. Read more of The Pillars of the Earth and searched for a few revies (uh oh), 3. Took the dog to doggie day care, 4. Got the oil changed in the car, 5. Spent time at the Home-for-the-Aged brushing up on internet skills with the residents, 7.  Called my mother-in-law, 8. Watched Idol (and am glad that Kris is still on!)

8 Things I Wish I Could Do:

1. Avoid Twitter a bit longer (maybe until the next Read-A-Thon), 2. Use that darn work out machine in the house that intimidates me, 3. Stop being a klutz, 4. Read faster, 5. Visit my BFF’s triplets more often, 6. Learn how to enjoy peeling apples, 7.  Learn how to drive the new boat, 8.  Learn more about how to best use my new Mac (ie vlog?)

8 Shows I Watch:

1. BONES!   – I absolutely love this show and need to go ‘wishlist’ the Kathy Reichs books that the show is based on…  Tho, I ‘hear’ that they are completely different.    This site has some interesting information…
2. Diners, Drive Ins & Dives
3. Dangerous Catch
4. Fox TV Morning News
5. American Idol
6. any Home & and Garden Design shows
7. Mike & Mike in the Morning
8. Whatever my husband channel surfs to…

8 People I Tag:     anyone!!    :)

More Still Alice

images Part 1.  Author Event

A week ago, I drove almost an hour and 1/2 to attend my very first ever author event at the beautiful library in Chatham, Massachusetts.   I was way early and spent a few dollars in the lovely touristy spots on the main street and then was second in the room where the event was to be held.    I chitchatted with the other lady early to claim a seat – she was expecting a huge crowd, had I read the book?, etc and then some.    I chose the third seat in the third row and opened a book I had purchased at the same time as buying my second copy of Still Alice – since I had loaned my copy to a friend and HAD TO HAVE ANOTHER so Lisa Genova could sign it, right?!   Right.

What a delight that 84, Cross Charing Road was the other book!   and how absolutely perfect it was to have in such a situation;  quick, funny, short, smart, DELIGHTFUL.   Helene Hanff was quite a character.    You can read much more about Ms. Hanff by visiting Citizen Reader’s series from last week => click here.      I had first heard about 84, Cross Charing Road in a post by Jessica of The Bluestocking Society a looooooong time ago claiming it as one of those books everyone should read.   I had never heard of it.   CR gave me the kick in the butt.    FINALLY, I got around to it and I can’t tell you just how charming it is.      This would be an excellent book for the next Read-A-Thon if you like a sense of satisfaction for number of books completed,  it won’t take but an hour or two to read – – if that, you will laugh out loud, and you will be delightfully charmed.   I dare you to not be.

Back to the author event…          I wish I had read a few more posts by Trish on how to be a good attendee at an Author Event.    I felt shy and awkward!    I brought my camera but didn’t have the courage to take any photos.   My cellphone had no service in that space so I had no idea what time it was and was just sure that I had to hurry and get back home asap – I am not a clear thinker when I’m feeling rushed.
Ms. Genova’s talk was awesome!    The crowd was at least 150 people – but I’m unreliable on such estimates…    She seemed very pleased and surprised, especially in contrast to the beginning of her marketing time line for this book.    In the beginning (after writing the novel), she started out sending out requests to publish and only heard from about five out of a thousand plus;   3 were NO (no one would read such a book?!) and 2 were please-send (and I think it fizzled from there.)    Now her book is garnering excellent reviews and I bet word-of-mouth is helping considerably.   She didn’t mention that and I was too bashful to ask her anything about her opinions on the book blogging effect.
She read from the book – the sections she chose were good ones for a glimpse of her writing skills and just how confused Alice becomes.  I found out that the endings were different for her self-pub’d version and the newer Simon & Schuster one.  Someone asked about a scene in the book and she decided that too many people hadn’t read it yet and so we didn’t get an answer!  (same in my book club – more on that later in this post.)   She talked a lot about what she used to do before becoming an author and how/why she decided to write Still Alice.
I had the book ready and was one of the first in line as we rushed the poor Lisa to a seat and forced a pen into her hand.   She is very gracious; I fumbled as I told her that I just blogged a review and that she was so nice to comment on it (I think that’s what I said) and she signed!    My first official signed book:
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Part 2.  Book Club
On the next day, I made new friends at the new-to-me book club I’ve joined at the high school.   I think we had 9 attendees, two of which had yet to finish the book.     We had a great discussion, many had stories to share about loved ones affected by Alzheimer’s, and no one liked the husband.   A few were not keen on how the book ended.    We talked about the butterfly and we were all impressed with the writing skills of Lisa Genova.   We all want to read her next book!    Still Alice is an excellent choice for a book club.

I am so excited to be a part of a REAL book club offering face-to-face discussions!   The rattling off of book titles and suggestions and other online book sites (I was shocked that I didn’t know them all – I mean, as a book blogger, I’ve always thought of myself as a little more aware than the non-blogger book lover…  OOPS, dangerous thinking.)   Favorites others have read also with exclamations of “Oh, I hated that!   Oh, I LOVED that!”  was just a ton of fun.
We’ll be reading In the Woods by Tara French for the mid-May meeting.    but I’ll be more interested in continuing our Alice discussion and finding out what exactly the husband did or did not do in that one scene…   did he read her Butterfly message?!   did he know, did he…?????
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Birthday Pie

Once more, I dip into my piebook book* to bake!   This time it’s a treat for my husband’s birthday this week.   AND to highlight that this week’s is Softdrink/Jill’s birthday!    You can wish her a happy one at www.fizzythoughts.com.  

My hub enjoys a bit of bourbon every now and then so this recipe jumped out at me:  Liz Reiter’s All-Granny Slug-O-Bourbon Spiced Apple Pie, page 223.    It’s not exactly complicated:   it reads like any other apple pie, specifiying Granny Smiths and the addition of

Slug of bourbon (Liz calls it a “one-two count slug”)

So, rather than print off the rest of the recipe (Apple Pies are everywhere; it feels so redundant to type it all out), this is all I’ll say other than

HAPPY BIRTHDAY EVERYONE WHO HAS ONE THIS WEEK!!    Have a piece of pie!

 

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* If I post on this awesome book enough, maybe the author will stop by and say hello.    I love love love this book!   AND, I love that he has an adorable dedication to his teenaged son AND his acknowledgement page has a sweet mention of his wife as “the hardest-working real-estate agent in Annapolis Maryland.”     Since I have a great husband, I appreciate ‘great husbands’.     I hope Ms. Haedrich gives her husband’s book as a thank you gift to her clients – wouldn’t it be a cool gift?     What cool gifts did your realtor give you when you bought/sold a house?    Since I’ve purchased 7 homes in my married life, I’ve been given some neat house-warming gifts, but no pie books…   When we bought our first house, we got wine – I soaked off the label and have been meaning to frame it.    Our buyer agent on our fifth house gave us an unusual gift:  a dog treat jar full of fancy biscuits;   quite thoughtful and personal.


I prefer pi.

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