That’s How I Blog! Highlights: Trish, Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’?

Thats How I Blog!

Tonight I had my first victim guest on my brand new Blog Talk Radio Show, That’s How I Blog!  Thanks so much to Trish from Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’? and to all of the people who listened in the chat room, wrote and called in with questions and made the first show such a great success. If you missed the show you can go here to  listen to Trish and I Talk on That’s How I Blog! Here’s a little guide to what went down!

1:00 Trish Talks About the Origins of Her Blog.

2:09 Trish D. Dish.

5:00 To Be Anonymous Or Not.

5:48 Trish Loses The Cat.

8:00 The Read-A-Thon.

14:35 How Has Trish’s Reading Changed Over The Years.

17:45 On Trish’s Reading Radar

21:00 Dawn from She Is Too Fond of Books asks about Trish’s Favorite Pin-up Girl T-Shirts.

23:00 Michelle from Galley Smith asks- What does Trish Detest Reading?

26:45 Kathy from BermudaOnion asks Trish about her dogs.

32:23 Beth from Beth Fish Reads ask Trish about the gambles she takes in reading.

37:00 Cara from Ooh Books dares Trish to read some books.

40:30 Amy from My Friend Amy asks what Trish would blog about if not about books?

45:00 Crazy Search Terms & Dutch Ovens.

48:00 Trish dishes on her commenting style.

54:00 How has blogging and the politics of book blogging changed?

56:30 What obligations does a blogger have to publishers and authors? Blogger/Author Relationships.

59:00 Future plans for Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’?

61:30 Nat from Book, Line and Sinker asks…Will Trish publish?

62:50 TLC Book Tours

69:45 Announcement: Eco Libris: Green Books Campaign

72:55 20 Minute Book Club: The Story of Marriage, by Andrew Sean Greer

Join me next week when I chat with Kathy from BermudaOnion on That’s How I Blog! Tuesday, November 3, at 7pm EST/4PM PST. For a complete show listing and information on the show check out my page on That’s How I Blog!

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This Just In! Labor Day, by Joyce Maynard

Labor Day, by Joyce MaynardKathy from BermudaOnion has to take full responsibility for me venturing downstairs to buy this book.  I had sworn off the book store, really!  Kathy is going to be a guest on That’s How I Blog! on November 3, and we were trying to figure out a book for the both of us to discuss on a segment at the end of the show called the 20 Minute Book Club. Kathy thought that Labor Day, by Joyce Maynard would be a great book to discuss, and asked me whether or not  I had read it- which I hadn’t- but it wasn’t that long so I knew that I would be able to read it in time to talk with her about it.  The fact that I was running late and on my way somewhere else that day saved me because I literally ran into the store, bought the book and ran out with not time to browse and buy 4 other books to go along with it.

Maynard’s novel tells the story of what happens one fateful Labor Day weekend when Henry, a lonely thirteen-year old ventures out with his chronically depressed mom, Adele, to do some back to school shopping. Henry meets Frank a mysterious stranger who is strangely bleeding from the head, and who asks for Henry’s help.

Henry offers his and Adele’s help to Frank  leading to an unimagined chain of events for his mother and himself.

Has anyone else read this?  I can’t wait to discuss it with Kathy!

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End: Read-A-Thon, October 2009

Read-A-Thon1. Which hour was most daunting for you?  Hour 23 was rough!  I think I nodded off a few times.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Not really.  So much of that is dependent on the person’s taste.  I’d have to do individual counseling.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Even if I knew, there is now way I could explain right now.  I can barely type.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?  I think splitting cheerleaders into teams and assigning portions of the participants was very helpful.  It was nice to have a focus.

5. How many books did you read? After all this, two!

6. What were the names of the books you read? The Carnivore, by Mark Sinnett & Ash, by Malinda Lo.

7. Which book did you enjoy most?  The Carnivore was intense, but more my speed.

8. Which did you enjoy least?  The other one.  But I liked it too.

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? Just have a general idea of what you want to say and hit as many blogs as you can.  Remember to rest your eyes!

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? I’m already making plans!

Hope everyone had a good time! I’m so exhausted that I’m not even sleepy!

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Feed Me Seymour! A Read-A-Thon Mini Challenge

Welcome fellow Read-A-Thoners and Cheerleaders.  This one is for you, and you have from 4PM EST – 8PM EST to do it, after which will choose two winners at random; the first winner selected will receive a $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble and second will receive a hardcover copy of  The Magicians, by Lev Grossman!

Okay, so do ya’ll remember Little Shop of Horrors and that plant that was always asking to be fed and people had to kill for it (usually other people) to feed it?  Well look up.  That’s the real thing.  Isn’t it creepy?  Even though that one doesn’t eat people (hopefully!) it still creeps me out.  Don’t think I could ever have one of those in my house.  Could you? I did enjoy the movie though, I have seen it several times.  For a little break and some good times, check out the plant singing Feed Me, Seymour below.

Creepy! Well this challenge won’t be creepy at all.  I want you to feed me, and this will be so much more fun than feeding that plant.  I don’t eat flies or people but I just eat up passages on food in books! So over the next few hours let me know if you happen across any passages of food in your reading or you can also flip through some of the books in your Read-A-Thon stack(s) and find me a passage where the characters describe what they are eating or when they are actually eating – write up a post with the book, author, your selected passage and a picture of one the dishes- leave a link to that specific post on Mr. Linky and that’s it.  You’ve got an entry!  If you don’t have a blog, then leave your passage in the comments, and I will enter it on Mr. Linky for you.

Good Luck!

Oh! I want to play too!

I found one in The Carnivore, by Mark Sinnett.

“Tell me about you.” she said.  She had ordered a slice of lemon meringue pie and was separating the snowy cap from the filling, letting the breakaway floes melt down to nothing on her tongue.  “You gotta be married.  Sure you are.  There’s the ring, right there.”  She laughed at my discomfort, offered me a bite of her pie (“Not the top, though, don’t you dare; just the lemon and the pastry”), which I was too afraid to take.

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24 Hour Read-A-Thon: Look at me!

Quiet

I’m reading!

The Carnivore, by Mark Sinnett

Where are you reading from today?

I’m in NYC and right now I’m kicking things off from the bed.

3 facts about me …

I am a lover of historical fiction (I discovered that through blogging, popcorn is my favorite food and I play bocce in a league.

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?

I think I started with 6 or 7 but that number keeps going up as I remember more books I would like to read.

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?

Not really, though it would be nice to finish at least one book.  I want to read as much as I can and have a good time with all my read-a-thon friends.

If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time?

Preview a chapter or two of you books so that you know you will be reading something to keep you hooked, and keep them mostly under 300 pages.

Trending on Twitter

Lookie here, the Read-A-Thon is famous.

Screen shot 2009-10-24 at 9.19.10 AM

Good lucky everybody!

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Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before, by David Yoo – Book Review

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before, by David YooAlbert Kim starts the summer after his sophomore year of high school as someone who has given up on having any kind of social life for the rest of high school.  Bad experiences in the past and moving to a new town when he had finally  established himself in the social hierarchy of the old one has left him thinking that contact with others will be futile.  Things start to change for him when his parents allow him to choose what he wants to do for the summer and he decides to get a job working at a local hotel where he meets fellow classmate Mia Stone.  Though Mia tries to befriend Albert, his complete lack of social skills alienate Mia, but miraculously as the summer progresses they are able to bridge the communication gap to have “something”.  They barely get a chance to explore what the “something” is when Mia’s ex-boyfriend, popular jock Ryan Stackhouse, is diagnosed with cancer and needs Mia’s constant attention and support.

I liked Albert through most of this book.  He is witty and makes astute social observations about the life he has withdrawn from.  Socially awkward, Albert still hangs around with sixth graders as a part of his daily routine.  They are at a stage in life that he understands- video games.  I liked seeing his attempts to step out of his shell and rejoin the world after his summer success at making a connection with Mia.  He had gained just enough confidence to again begin engaging with the world, but it was very frustrating to watch him bumble along because for the most part he did more harm to himself than good.  However, as the story progressed, Albert became almost un-rootable in his unwavering lack of change.  He almost seemed pathologically committed to stunting his own growth. It’s quite possible that this was entirely realistic and the point of his escapades,but it started to wear me down. Maybe I had become too invested with these characters, but I really, really wanted them to at least start making different choices.

The characterization and the struggle of Mia to balance the new life and path that she wanted to take with Albert were very real, and I sympathized with her attempts to balance her old life and to  still retain parts of her new one, but I also wanted her to be less gullible toward  the people in her life out to manipulate circumstances.  I realize that guilt played a big part in her actions but it seemed so extreme that she too just plain annoyed me after awhile.  I think I felt that way with a lot of the characters, their emotions were real to me and realistic but the situations in which they were placed were so extreme that the situations felt insincere and came off as contrived ways to steer the plot in a particular direction.

As the novel progressed I lost what had made the characters so endearing and special and became bogged down in unrealistic situations and decisions which didn’t see as in line with the characters that I had come to know.  They seemed a lot smarter to me than the spiral downward into the same old miscommunication and no communication, and that was a huge disappointment.  The confrontations in which Albert engaged erred on the side of  camp (and not in a good way).

I also can’t help thinking that this might have been helped if the book were a shorter one.  The summer had a good pace, but the school year seemed to drag- note that I liked everyone a little less by then so it’s possible that those feelings affected my perceptions.  One thing that I really enjoyed was seeing a love story from the male perspective, something that I don’t often come across in reading; however, the novelty of that experience wore thin as did my patience with Albert and his co-horts. I started out loving this book, but by the end I just wanted to see how it ended so that I could call it a day.

An Okay Read.

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Maybe I just need to have more patience with them?

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Never Leave The Ball Early: Or My Profile on The Olive Reader

Sorry Charlie.  No profile for you!
Sorry Charlie. No profile for you!

Last week I debated leaving my apartment in the most horrendous weather NYC has seen in quite a few months to go to Harper Perennial‘s Fall Ball.  It is hard to go out in cold pouring rain when you are already warm and snuggly inside.  I thought about bailing, but then I thought books in bars, authors in bars and a nice glass of red and hauled my patoot down to The Slipper Room (which let me tell you, the West/East commute to Lower East Side  is not for the faint of heart or one to be taken lightly, it requires love of whoever or whatever you are going to see/do) for . I’m glad I did.  I met a few authors, picked up some great books and won a fabulous door prize.  I got to choose between burlesque lessons (seriously?) or a profile on Harper Perennial’s Blog The Olive Reader for me or my pet. Though it was a tough micro-second decision I went with the profile on Olive Reader.  For me, of course.  Go pet it!

I am so glad that I stick around to watch them announce raffle winners!

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Shelf Discovery Challenge

shelfdiscoverytileadI picked up this little gem while I was at Harper’s Fall Ball, started skimming through and reading some the selected “book reports” that night and loved it right away.  It’s all about exploring some of the older classics of teen literature.  I knew that I would want to go back and read some of these old stories to remember what I thought about them as  teen and see how that might have changed now that I am adult.  Julie from Booking Mama has come up with the perfect way to do this! See the full challenge details at her post on the Shelf Discovery Challenge.

Details:

The Shelf Discovery Challenge will run for six months (November 1, 2009 – April 30, 2010). To join me in this challenge, all you need to do is grab a copy of SHELF DISCOVERY and pick out what six books you want to read (of course, you can read more than six!) Then, after you read a book, just write a “book report” to share your thoughts with others!

Sign Up:

Grab the challenge buttons at the top of this page and write a post detailing what six Shelf Discovery books you are going to read within the next six months (you always have the option to change your original list — I’m flexible like that!) Once you have posted your Shelf Discovery challenge post, come back to this post and click on Mr. Linky. Please leave your name and link directly to your introductory post (not just to your blog’s home page.) If you don’t have a blog, no worries — you can just leave a comment on this post telling me you want to participate.

My List:

Has changed a dozen times already, but as of right now I’m reading:

  • Julie of the Wolves, Jean Craighead George
  • Island of The Blue Dolphins, Scott O’Dell
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare
  • Stranger With My Face, by Lois Duncan
  • An Old Fashioned Girl, by Louisa May Alcott
  • Caroline, Willo Davis Roberts

Actual:

  • Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell
  • Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Great idea Julie! I’m looking forward to it.

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Perfection, by Julie Metz – Book Review

Perfection, by Julie Metz

“The subject of his book was umami, a Japanese word that translates as “perfection”, usually as it relates to food. Umami also translates as “the fifth taste”, best described for Westerners as “savory”.   The other tastes are sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Umami is the feeling of mouthwatering deliciousness during, and complete satiety after, a good meal.”  – from Perfection, by Julie Metz

Julie and her husband Henry have moved to the suburbs and are making a new life for themselves with their six-year old daughter Liza.  Henry is writing a book exploring the concept of umami, while Julie, a graphic designer, works from home.  Though their marriage is troubled, they seem committed to sticking it out. Julie soon faces something that she had never planned on when Henry dies suddenly of a heart attack- a life alone. In the ensuing devastation, Julie lets her brother sort through her late husband’s estate while she fully immerses herself in the grieving process.  Thinking that she is receiving visitations from Henry, Julie looks to Tomas, a young neighbor whom she and Henry had befriended, to act as the conduit to Henry’s spirit. Julie embarks on an affair with Tomas while struggling with Henry’s sudden death and the small-town disapproval of her new relationship.

Then Julie finally finds out what her lover, brother and several of her friends already know from organizing Henry’s personal effects- that not only was Henry having affairs with several women across the country, but he was also having an affair with one of the couple’s friends. Yikes!  Henry quickly becomes the not so dearly departed and Julie goes all out to confront the women whom she feels have wronged her personally,and who should have respected her marriage. The memoir goes on to viscerally detail the painstaking process of the discovery of betrayal and the monumental anger and hard sought forgiveness which, though slow to come, allows Julie to piece together the beginnings of a new and meaningful life.

I have to admit that when I first started reading this book I was immediately hooked by the descriptions of …you guessed it, the food.  Henry is writing a book on umami, so he is on a constant hunt to find or create perfect food, among his hunt for other things, and he is a great cook.  The books opens up on Henry and Julie crankily preparing for a dinner party thrown in their home in honor of the New Year, shortly before Henry’s death.  The meal is absolutely mouth-watering and I loved reading about the preparation of it even though conspicuous in the passages are the thick and underlying tensions in Julie and Henry’s fragile marriage.

Perfection, by Julie Metz is as intense as anything that I have ever read and I felt so much compassion while reading Metz’s daringly honest portrayal of the ugly aftermath of Henry’s death and revealed affairs.  She had just lost everything and then in addition she is forced to face the destruction of the memory of her marriage.  I can only imagine the rage and the betrayal that she must have felt, and how doubly hard it must have been not to even have the opportunity to vent that anger to the offending party, but she doesn’t leave much to be imagined.  Metz is absolutely unflinching as she explores the dark and the light in her feelings and journey toward wholeness.  She teeters between self -righteousness and feeling justified in the rage, which she can’t rain down on her husband, to grief and despair.

Metz spends punishing months reading Henry’s calendars and diary entries, painstakingly piecing together a timeline and details of Henry’s numerous affairs all while spiraling in self-hatred and doubt until she reaches the next stage, vengeance, and finally through that to reach peace. She explores the origins of her troubled marriage, Henry’s examinations into his own troubled psyche and how his larger-than-life persona and her own self-deception played a dominant hand in shaping their marriage.

My emotions definitely flitted around as I read this- angry for her, and sometimes angry at her- this is an engaging memoir and it constantly proves itself with Metz’s exquisite language and honesty in writing about her feelings. This is a book that  forces you to have an opinion and to examine choices that we make everyday in our  relationships, and how we shape them through what we accept and what we refuse to see.

Highly Recommended.

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I usually love it when books make me feel strong emotions and make me grapple with why I think the way I do in certain areas.  I don’t always like it at the time, but I usually come around and appreciate the process of interacting with a book in that way.  How do you feel about books that make you feel?  Do you like it?  What books have left you all tied up in knots?  Do you think they do that to everybody or just you?

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Progress: Notes From A Reading Life ~ October 20

A Mercy, by Toni MorrisonI just finished reading A Mercy, by Toni Morrison,  and I loved the story.  Morrison’s stories and storytelling are always so complicated and intricate, leaving me swinging wildly from one opinion to the next on the characters and what is going on in the story.  I know now when I start a Toni Morrison novel I need to be completely focused,  and am prepared to be baffled for the first 50 pages.  At least.  That held true here.  You go from having no clue, but you keep reading and it very slowly starts to dawn into comprehension with a quiet horror.  I think she channels her books.  I never have any idea of how she makes it all come together quite the way that she does.

Shelf Discovery, by Lizzie Skurnick- Last week I went to the Fall Bash thrown by Harper Perennial and I picked this up.  I had seen it all over the place without really knowing what it was about, and it is hilarious.  Skurnick has compiled a series of book reports on books that a lot of us are familiar with from childhood and adolescence.  You just don’t know how much you overlook as a child reading these books, and it’s so much fun to see them examined from a more critical perspective.  These book reports will be fun to pick up and read for some comic relief during the Read-a-Thon if I manage to save any of them for the weekend!

In The Land of Cotton, by Martha A. Taylor – This came to me last week from the author, and I started reading a few pages and have had difficulties putting it down.  The story of Martha and her troubled family in the segregated south has been compelling.  The narrator is young, just entering her pre-teens, and sometimes I question the depth of the historical background she provides, but it’s happened in only a few places so far and is easily overlooked since I am  enjoying the story so much.

Books Read Since My Last Update:

  • The Greatest Knight, by Elizabeth Chadwick
  • The Day The Falls Stood Still, by Cathy Marie Buchanan
  • City of Refuge, by Tom Piazza
  • Break No Bones, by Kathy Reichs
  • The Last Dickens, by Matthew Pearl
  • 31 Hours, by Masha Hamilton
  • A Change in Altitude, by Anita Shreve
  • The Seance, By John Harwood
  • Locked In, by Marcia Mullen
  • Tell Me Something True, Leila Cobo

I had been in a bit of a slump as far as posting and reading during the last of the summer months, but I read a lot more than I thought.  Do you surprise yourself sometimes with how much you manage to read in really busy periods?

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