Friday, August 28, 2009

Wine, Jazz and Blues---a Winning Combination

We'll be attending this event tomorrow.  Noodlebug loves music and this event benefits music programs in local schools so it's a win win!!!  I am almost finished with THE HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET and I am devouring THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE.  Reviews next week! Have a terrific weekend!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Freebie of the Day

Haven't done one of these in awhile but this one is good!!! A new lip balm company is offering a free sample of their minty goodness and you get to pick the color!! While supplies last so hurry!!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

19TH WIFE by David Ebershoff

The 19TH WIFE weaves two storylines together to present a picture of the effects of polygamy on both women and children.  The story opens with Jordan Scott, a "lost boy" who was left on a dirt road in his early teens when he was considered a threat to the elder men of his Mormom sect.  Jordan returns home when his mother, wife #19, is accused of murdering his father. As Jordan investigates the truth of the murder, Ebershoff carries the reader into the past to witness the story of another 19th wife, Ann Eliza Young.  Through Young's book, letters and journal entries, we see the early effects of polygamy within the Mormon church and one woman's attempts to end the practice.  The two stories present a picture of the negative consequences that such a practice can have on the women and children and even sometimes the men who practice it.
The 19TH WIFE succeeds where other recent historical fiction does not.  Whereas ONE THOUSAND WHITE WOMEN presented an unbelievable characterization of historical women that channels male fantasy, Ebershoff offers a well-researched and complex portrait of these women that presents them with all of their flaws.  Although the reader feels great sympathy for these women, they are not perfect and are presented as such. The reader is left to decide what the truth really is. 
I truly enjoyed this book. It shed new light on the complexities and consequences of polygamy.  The historical sections were the most compelling. I often felt impatient with the modern-day storyline.  The solution to the modern mystery felt a little rushed and tidy.  Overall, however, this was a great read.
BOTTOM LINE:  Recommended.  For readers who are interested in this subject matter, the 19TH WIFE offers a compelling look into the secret world of polygamy.  Also recommended:  UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN by Jon Krakauer and DESERT WIVES by Betty Webb 

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

On the Nightstand

When it rains it pours...

I have been waiting for a bunch of library books to come in and it appears that they all arrived at once!

I am currently reading:

19TH WIFE by David Ebershoff


THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett

I received two ARCs yesterday:

HUSH HUSH by Becca Fitzpatrick

GODMOTHER by Carolyn Turgeon

So much to read, so little time!!!

Happy reading to you all!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


One of the things I appreciate about the blogging world is that it gets me outside of myself. That seems like an odd thing to say because one could argue that blogging has the potential to be one of the most egotistical things you can do. You go out and create a blog and fill it with your thoughts and pieces about your life in the hope that others will find it interesting. The nerve and chutzpah!!! Well, that is one way to look at it. Another way to look it is that by creating a blog and sharing your experiences, you could inspire or touch someone else.

I will readily admit that I have struggled with depression on and off since adolescence. In my case, it seems to be hormone-related and with the right prescription, things leveled out in my early twenties. I still have my bad days, though. Post-partum depression laid me low last year. And there have been days when I feel like I can't get out of bed but I get up and do it anyway. Sometimes, I come on this blog and whine and complain and generally embarrass myself. And you are all really patient about that. Other times, I read through the blogs in my various blogrolls and I am bowled over by individuals who are facing very real trials in their lives and doing it with grace and courage.

See real faces of courage here, here and here.

It puts everything in perspective doesn't it? There are truly amazing bloggers out there who share their struggles and little victories with us everyday and remind us we are not alone and that we have the potential to do amazing things. I think that is pretty fantastic.

Friday, August 14, 2009

INVISIBLE MOUNTAIN by Carolina de Robertis

I received an advance copy of this book from Random House and I really enjoyed it. While INVISIBLE MOUNTAIN cannot be classified as magical realist, I believe that fans of the Latin American magical realist fiction genre will find much to enjoy about this tale of three generations of women in Uruguay. This book most reminded me of Allende's HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS. Indeed, the character of Salome and that of Blanca in Allende's work are cut from the same cloth.
INVISIBLE MOUNTAIN follows the lives of three generations of women as they struggle to find their place in Uruguayan society. Pajarita begins her life as a miracle child at the turn of the century and holds her family together with her unorthodox skills as her husband battles his own demons. Her daughter, Eva, learns early on about how hard the world can be and fights to come into her own as a woman and a poet while making difficult compromises. Eva's daughter, Salome, takes the family struggle even further as she becomes empassioned by the work of Che Guevara and engages in her country's political struggles.
Each woman in this book is finely crafted with her own sensibilities, desires and way of looking at the world. It is hard to decide which one I was more intrigued by. The book often made me sad as I witnessed how difficult life often was for these women. However, the bonds of this family are as strong as the women. The women approach life in very different ways but each one manages to find her place and a special inner strength.
This book will be released at the end of the month.
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. An engaging tale of family and the lives of women against the backdrop of a political landscape that includes Evita Peron and Che Guevara.

Blogging with Integrity

When I started blogging six years ago, most of the blogs I read were almost online journals. My friends and I used our blogs to keep in touch. The only thing you got from blogging was personal gratification. Then, blogs started evolving and became much more specific in purpose. Book review blogs. Political blogs. Mommy blogs. Now, businesses have seen the potential of blogs for marketing purposes. I love seeing how technology evolves. Part of me is still a bit of a Luddite because I think nothing should replace good, old-fashioned personal contact. As a (former) anthropologist however, it is fascinating to see how people change the purpose of certain types of technology.

Blogging has given me a lot over the years. It has introduced me to new ideas and new people and it has renewed my interest in many dormant pasttimes. I have been dismayed, however, to see the new trend in blogging for money and stuff. BlogHer provides a case in point. The stories coming out of the recent BlogHer conference were absolutely appalling. Women elbowing each other for free Swiffers and Crocs and then threatening businesses that didn't give them free swag. Seriously?!! I can think of few free things worth trampling others for and on the shortlist would be food if my child was starving. NOT a free pair of Crocs. I have been disappointed to see blogs that I used to read randomly post about the wonders of a certain product completely out of the blue. I wondered about this phenomenon until I joined a certain Twitter group. This group posts almost daily contests where the first few bloggers to post about the product of the day will get it for free. This makes me really uncomfortable.

In light of the this downward trend in blogging, there is a new movement afoot. It is called Blogging with Integrity. You may have noticed the button in my sidebar. My blog is small. It always has been and I like it that way. You will not see banners or ads. Many of my favorite bloggers use ads and I totally suppport that. I just choose not to. I don't use my blog to make money or get free stuff. Here is my pledge to you:

1) If I get anything free and post about it, I will tell you where I got it. In my case, this will typically apply to books.

2) I have no plans to put ads or banners on my blogs or to try to make money off of them.

3) If I put up a button or blog post in order to publicize a contest, I will be very clear about why I am doing it and how you can enter it as well.

4) I will not debase myself or others for free swag.

5) I will not attack other people or blogs and I will not support those bloggers who do.

6) I will not steal anyone else's intellectual property and will always credit images that I borrow and get permission to do so.

I think blogging is just about the greatest thing since sliced bread. I don't want to see it corrupted. So, I think this new Blogging with Integrity movement could be just what we need.

I'm off to go catch up on some reading backlog. New reviews next week! In the meantime, don't forget to check out my recent review of HUGE. Have a great weekend!!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Did I Mention That I Love Terry Gilliam?

With this movie coming up and Tim Burton's ALICE IN WONDERLAND in March, I am a very excited moviegoer indeed!

See the new trailer for the IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS here.

Monday, August 10, 2009


I think marriage has made me soft. I have been married for three years. Before that, I lived alone for almost ten years. I'm an only child and I'm used to doing things for myself. Living alone kind of sucked sometimes. Especially as a homeowner when things would REALLY go wrong and the buck stopped here. With marriage, I learned about the joys of the delineation of labor and the wonders of allowing yourself to ask for help. I think I liked it a little too much. I got soft.

My husband left last Friday for a weeklong camping trip in the Grand Tetons. Instead of falling apart as I expected to do, I have been handling it quite well. Of course, my mom lives nearby so it isn't as if I'm completely alone. But so far, the house hasn't fallen down around my ears. The dishes are getting washed. The baby is fed and cared for. The garden is being tended to. The trash barrels were taken out. The cat is being fed and cared for. So far so good. As much as I miss my husband, this is a good affirmation for me that I AM capable of taking care of myself and Noodlebug.

I think my husband was a little worried to leave on this trip because the last time he went away for a weekend I was in the throes of post-partum depression and I completely lost it. Every time he called to check in (several times a day), I would be sobbing so hard I couldn't speak. I honestly didn't think I would make it through the weekend. A year later, I am a mom who is managing her household all by herself. Sure the house isn't perfectly clean. And there are piles here and there and clutter galore. But it's nice to know that I'm not going to fall apart. I'm still that self-reliant woman I used to be. I just needed a little reminder.

Okay, Gary. You can come home now!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Hanging My Shingle

Some of you know that I have always wanted to own my own bookstore. Every time I pass an empty storefront in my little town, I fantasize about how my fantasy bookstore would fit into the space. I probably won't ever realize that dream. But I have started selling books.

I finally became a vendor on Alibris. I have only listed 28 books so far. (I sold one!!!) All are first editions. Most are signed. We'll see what happens. I need to make some space on the bookshelves for new additions and I can certainly use the extra money.

So, if you are an Alibris shopper, my vendor name is.......

Drumroll please.....


Yep. My addiction is here to serve you.

Find my inventory here.

HUGE by James Fuerst

I received a copy of HUGE from Random House Library after hearing a lot of good buzz about it. I was so excited to read it!

HUGE follows the adventures of would-be detective Eugene "Huge" Smalls, the smallest, meanest and angriest kid in the sixth grade. HUGE pulled me in immediately with its nod to the detective novels of old. Since Huge is a fan of Raymond Chandler and other detective noir characters, he speaks their language which is very amusing for the reader. At the start of the book, Huge is hired by his grandmother to solve a mystery which will take him to places he has never been and give him a purpose.

Huge should be an unlikeable character. He is angry, scrappy and unpleasant. He doesn't play well with others and constantly gets into trouble. But Fuerst has found the heart of this character. You cannot help but love Huge as he tries to navigate the difficults of the preteen life as a child with an above-average IQ and a below-average ability to deal with others. In many ways, this book reminded me of AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES by John Green although Huge is much more of a social pariah than Colin Singleton.

Ultimately, Huge is a coming of age story about a boy trying to understand the world around him. He makes mistakes and his perceptions of reality do not always play out. The mystery is almost a footnote as the greater story is Huge's evolution. A poignant and often humorous tale about finding your place in the world.

BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. Huge is destined to one of those characters that, while sometimes unlikeable, is hard not to love.

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Rule-Follower Gets Busted

Hello Friends.

We went to the county fair last Friday and had a great time. The weather was perfect and the funnel cakes were hot! The fair had a dinosaur theme this year which was great for Noodlebug. They gave him a little "passport" that you used to collect stamps throughout the fair and then redeemed for a little plastic dinosaur. Being the goal-oriented person that I am, I dutifully gathered all the stamps to the amusement of my family members. To be honest, Noodlebug was more impressed with the food than the plastic dinosaur.

I especially enjoyed seeing all of the crafts and handiwork that people had submitted to the fair. My co-worker's five-year-old son put together a Lego boat and won a First Place ribbon! So cute! It made me look forward to the day when Noodlebug can submit something to the Fair.

Now, for the downside...

I am a notorious rule-follower. To the point of ridiculousness. I always follow speed limits. I read signage to make sure I am following the rules. I cue up in lines and wait my turn and never carry more than 10 items into the express lane at the grocery store. My rule-following is a little neurotic I admit but I figure there are reasons for rules.


At our county fair, they have horse-racing. I bought my family reserved seats in the grandstand because my mom has never seen a horse race before. There are A LOT of stairs to get into the grandstand and we had a one-year-old and a stroller. When we walked into the stadium, the man selling racing forms told us to head around the corner and take the elevator since we had a stroller. We dutifully followed his directions and headed to the elevator. A woman was sitting on chair next to the elevator and said, "Are you handicapped?" Well, obviously none of us were. I told her we had been instructed by the gentleman up front to come to the elevator. She yelled at me, "Well, I'm in charge here and you can't use this elevator. You guys are probably the type to park in handicapped spaces too, huh? You think the rules don't apply to you!!!" I was shocked, embarrassed and hurt. People were walking by staring at us as this horrible woman was yelling. As someone who always tries to do the right thing, I was extremely offended. It was just so unnecessary!!! We skulked around the corner and my husband carried Noodlebug up the stairs while I folded up the stroller and schlepped it up. I have to admit that I let the experience ruin the race for me. I was in such a bad mood afterward. I'm still debating if I should complain about this person. What do you think?

P.S. I'm almost finished with HUGE by James Fuerst and will post a review soon!