Saturday, July 28, 2012

I tried, I honestly did! - A review in the loosest sense

I did it. I tried it...then I tried a little harder...then I convinced myself I had to keep trying,...
But, Yeah. I couldn't do it!!

I could not stomach 50 Shades Of Grey.  I couldn't do it. It was like reading 5 or 6th grade writing coupled with Penthouse Forum-esque antics. Except Forum can actually be purty good - ifyaknowwhatImean!- and Forum is usually much better written.

This book was impossible. Aside from the poor writing was the ludicrous plot and the pathetic attempt at eroticism.

And to that note.... this book has a major problem for me. It goes past 'playful antics and exploration' into dangerous controlling, abusive tendencies of a narcissist with extreme issues.

And trust me, I do know. This is NOT a romantic relationship. This is not even a 'F-buddies' relationship. This is escalation waiting to happen, this is a timebomb.

Nope couldn't finish it. And don't tell me, well if you didn't finish it how can you say you know. I read enough. I DO get it. And my opinion has been validated in those who DID read it all the way through and came away with the same horrific reaction while assuring me I could save my self the anger and frustration and do something more productive with my time.

Look up 'reads 50 Shades of Grey' on youtube and you'll find some extrememly entertaining examples of why this book is such a joke. My favorite it Mark Reads 50 Shades of Grey - which he did for a charity fund raiser, and Gilbert Godfrey Reads 50 Shades of Grey...I've yet to see Cookie Monster reads...but I hear it's pretty funny OH and Ellen was hysterical!

That and I'm old enough to remember this has been done before. Anyone else remember the book 9 1/2 weeks? uhm hum. Same shock value. 

But my favorite voice on the topic is a review over on goodreads by a wise lady by the name of Katrina.

Check it out and then do yourself a favor and go to library and look for something with some substance! Maybe Fannie Flaggs Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe.  Or "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" Bet someone thought he was charming too.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

TTT - Fabulous locations

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish).is Top Ten Most Vivid Worlds/Settings in Books

This one was FUN!!

 1) Middle Earth 

2) Pamplona in Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises

3) The Wizarding  World

4) The birth of the upper Midwest in the Little House books

5) Prince Edward Island in Anne of Green Gables as only Anne Shirley can name it

6) Narnia!

7) The Moores of Wuthering Heights

8) Civil War Appalachia  

9) Post Apocolyptic USA in The Stand

10) The Kingdom of Wisdom

Now I can't wait to read all your entries and find out where ELSE fun I can go :)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Salon - July 22

What a great week for literary pursuits!

I started out the week on Monday with a WONDERFUL book club discussion at the library with the newly formed group. This was only their second meeting so I wasn't an outsider only this month showing up.

We had read and thusly discussed

The Descendants
(I used the audiobook)
I gave this book 4 stars but the longer I'm away from it the more it plays on my mind and I believe I should increase that.

We were treated to coconut coffee cake and virgin Mai Tai's! The Mai Tai's rocked!!

The discussion was well run with plenty of literary direction given by our new library director. She's a gem! We had some people who didn't care for the book very much. They thought the behavior of the children was crass and would never be allowed at their house. No children of thiers would ever act that way or speak that way.

Rolling your eyes yet? I was..but then I know the kids of which they speak.
You know that popular card game where you call out a word when you don't quite believe what a player is claiming? Yeah. I call that.

Anyhoooooo principals before personalities.
The discussion was fun, I love the book AND we are going to get to all watch the movie together tomorrow night for free :)

Tuesday I bought my used Nook and have been playing with it like crazy. Its a nook color and I am noticing some glare. Anyone else??

Wednesday I got my hair cut, which wasn't literary, but it was great!!

Saturday was thrifting day. And woohoo I'm so happy with what I got...
 Because I ALWAYS need more bookcases!! I'm going to paint it but haven't decided  what color. black? Cream?  or Barn Red?

 Also found these. :) Edgar Sawtelle has been on my TBR for a while now. I've never read any Meg Cabot (which I think revokes my chick card?) The Sword of Shannara is CLASSIC and worth a re-read and The Hot Flash Club I think I'll use for my book exchange party :)

I'm STILL reading
The Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Just about done listening to
Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos

Just Started
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter on my Nook
ALSO downloaded Feed

And making progress on my ARC of
The Secret Sense of Wildflower

So I've got my hands full and a another great literary week ahead.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Gadgets rock!

Well I finally did it! I went and bought myself an e-reader!

I ended up finding a good deal on a
Color Nook
I had just about given up on the idea of getting one. I have the Kindle app on both my computers and have been using them quite regularly.

But there is a local group on Facebook that is a 'garage sale' group. And I've gotten in the habit of checking there daily for the odd dorm item or great furniture deal.

Low and behold a gal I know had this up for sale. I messaged her and asked how much and while it was a fair price for a second hand Nook, I decided to pass.

Then another lady put one up the same day. I asked how much she was wanting (more out of curiosity than anything) and the gal I know with the Nook messaged me back and offered me hers at half of what she had it listed for.

Suffice it to say, THIS...was a bargain! An offer I couldn't refuse, so to speak.

So I bought it.

I was tickled to see that she only had 4 books on there. at all. (this poor little device really needed a bookish-folk home) and that one of them was 50 Shade of Gray. Now I was not going to stoop to the 5SG level, I'm old and I went through the 91/2 Weeks craze in my glory days, but I hate to dis a book I haven't read. So now for free I can read and intelligently rip up this particular piece of il-literature

(sorry couldn't help it!)

The first thing I did was sync it to my Adobe Digital Editions and then borrowed a book from my local library.

 I'm pretty happy at the moment! :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Iowa City Book Festival! The wrap-up

I've been looking forward to this event for months!

My plans for how long I'd get to stay in Iowa City changed
And who I was going with changed (my friend is still recovering from surgery, but my youngest agreed to go with me)
And how much I could spend changed
Even the route I'd drive to get there changed

But I got there.
And I knew the venue was going to be different this year, but it had also changed.

I'm not sure I was sold on it.

But I did get to hear 3 author talks!!! There were so many authors this year, it was really very hard to choose who to go hear!! So many overlapped that I wish I could get videos of the talks I missed as well!

 The first talk I choose was Larry Baker and Joe Blair discussing their works and the amount of truth in both fiction and memoir. Larry Baker has a new novel out titled: Love and Other Delusions and Joe Blair has a memoir out now: By The Iowa Sea Both guys are terribly terribly FUNNY!! I've not read either gentleman's works but the exerpts and the way they can talk has me about ready to Spit with anticipation to get to them.... OH and as to which contains more truth, ficiton or memoir, They both MUST contain truth to be good, but there is a vast difference between Truth and Facts.

We didn't get to hang around and shake hands, or listen to interactions with the crowd as we had to scoot to a different campus building to hear the next author I'd chosen....and yet another GREAT choice it turned out to be!!

 This pathetically far away phone picture is of Evelyn Birkby speaking in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capital on the University of Iowa campus. (in the area known as The Pentacrest).

To say Miss Evelyn is charming is about like saying cheesecake is a sweet. No Miss Evelyn Birkby is the most DARLING thing ever to put pen to paper or address a radio audience!

For those of you not familiar with her. She's been writing a weekly homemakers newspaper column since 1949 and has never missed! She also began broadcasting with the folks on KMA Radio and the program Kitchen-Klatter which was the longest running homemaker program in the history of radio. She paved the way for other women in broadcasting and writing... AND she survived the sixties!

Her tale telling seemed naieve and innoncent but don't underestimate her, she's shrewd and smart and she gets whats going on in the world around her!!

She was a dynamic engaging speaker who was full of not only interesting annecdotes but excellent encouragement and advice...

all the more impressive since this stylish lady just happens to be 93 years old!!

Seriously. It was amazing. If writing and making sense of the world around you though expression is what keeps her this vibrant, I'm going to be writing every day!

Evelyn has a website
and a new book coming out in September: Always Put in a Recipe

Lunch was downtown in a great little pub with better-than-pub food. Bo James is on Washington street just across the way from the main campus. It was the sandwich board with the advertised lunch specials that helped us make a decision amongst the many Iowa City choices.

Then off to hear our last speaker.

Again a woefully distant image...are you getting the idea that I do like to sit at the back? :)
Now I've met Heather Gudenkauf 2 times before this, but I had never gotten to hear her talk about her work. She began by reading an exerpt that simply makes me wish I could clone myself and be able to literally simultaneously read 3 or 4 books at a time because I am very very excited to get to the story she teased from her new book
One Breath Away

There are things that makes me feel an idol-like kinship with this particular author. We've both had children at University of Iowa Hospitals and clinics (they even had the same docs) and we've both attended Unviersity of Iowa. She even lived in the same dorm my oldest is going to be in this fall! We live in the same area of the state too.

And she gives me hope. She didn't start writing novels until she was married and had children. So comparatively, not that long ago! It means you don't have to be the lauded golden child of the literary world just out of high school to become a sucessful author and be able to see your ideas and the stories that carry them, in print.

One of my favorite things about her talk was that she brought along a decent sized packet of rejection letters for us to see. It made her human and more than one of us rushed up after the talk to see what a New York Times bestselling author gets dinged on in rejection letter. Let me tell you, while no doubt rejections, they were still pretty flattering :)

All in all it was such a fun time..

But...the ineveitable but... the committee may want to do an indepth debriefing about the venues. I didn't feel connected to the festival as a locale event at all, the number of vendors was way way down which I found disappointing, and I didn't feel a kinship with the other event attendees that were wandering the campus and downtown.

This idea, this Festival, needs some intensive TLC to help it coalesce into a dynamic movement.   I would love to see many many more vendors, possibly with an indoor space, some food vendors and some outdoor eating area (invite the libraries from all around to have a fundraising snack doens't have to be fancy) and at the edge of the eating and beverage area the stage music (poor guys were playing to the sparrows most of the time I dashed by).  And allow us 15 minutes of discussion time amongst ourselves between talks. We love meeting other bookish-folk in our area. It's like seeing another wizard in a crowd of muggels :)

Ok...criticisms over...

Did I mention I had an AMAZING TIME! Made all the better because it was my birthday :) The best present ever!!

PS ~ the excitement continued today (Sunday) with readings scattered at fun venues throughout the city (mostly near campus area). Authors taking time to read their works in small shops and cafes and getting to know their audience afterwards. A celbration of Iowa City as the City of Literature that it is. Wish I could have been there for that too!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Writer's Curse

There is a huge drawback to reading a great book when one is also an aspiring writer. Now, as an aspiring writer, the consensus of author-ly advice is to not only write, but to read, and read a lot, and read good writing.

Which I do. And I'm usually overcome by the most defeatist revelation: All The Good Insights Are Taken!!

I'm betting this isn't true, but it seems the better the book, the more often the feeling overcomes me. And right now I'm in the midst of 3 great books.

It becomes difficult to make myself put pen to paper. my innercritic. (I make this all one word as my own version of derogatory slang profanity since right now I know it's not my friend!) skoffs nearly audibly and says, in a bored tone, "Really?"

Its a weird ying-ie yang-ie place to be in. To want to keep reading because you're enjoying the book, yet to hate every word because you're enjoying the book! Every page has a 'damnit! This is so damn good!!" moment in it. Yet you can't wait to get back to it hoping some of the talent and the seamingly effortless skill will rub off, yet never wanting to see the stupid book again because you FEEL you'll never ever be able to write anything like it!

I usually end up giving these pieces 5 stars on goodreads. And I'll just keep plugging away to see if reading good writing is a viable way of improving my own.

And along those lines..... I stopped and visited one of my locations today. 
oh the stories she could tell :) This is only a tiny part of this facility. I'm trying to wrap my head around how to convey the grandeur you feel on driving up to this. Doesn't exacty resemble your average Midwestern architecture.

She's going to become a good friend of mine and I'm going to betray all her secrets :) the meantime...back to my books!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review: Nickel and Dimed ~ On Not Getting By in America

Title:  Nickel and Dimed ~ On Not Getting By in America
Author:  Barbara Ehrenreich

Why I Read This Book: This one has been on my radar practically since it came out in 2001. It caught my attention that finally someone else was seeing the plight of those who have to fight and scrape everyday

RATING:  4/5

Synopsis From Goodreads: 
Millions of Americans work for poverty-level wages, and one day Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that any job equals a better life. But how can anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 to $7 an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich moved from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, taking the cheapest lodgings available and accepting work as a waitress, hotel maid, house cleaner, nursing-home aide, and Wal-Mart salesperson. She soon discovered that even the "lowliest" occupations require exhausting mental and physical efforts. And one job is not enough; you need at least two if you intend to live indoors.

Nickel and Dimed reveals low-wage America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity -- a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate strategies for survival. Instantly acclaimed for its insight, humor, and passion, this book is changing the way America perceives its working poor.

My Review:
The working poor. Been there. According to some of the state statistics I'm still there. I still qualify for reduced price lunches for my kids and I can still get state health aid. And mine is considered a GOOD job! And I DO think it's a good job. I have also worked lesser jobs, the type of jobs that Barbara Ehrenreich works in her book. I've worked at a conveinence store. I've worked in a factory. I was an awful waitress so that didn't pan out. And I've worked in offices for minimum wage while still trying to put together a polished business professional wardrobe! And Barabara finds out about how life nit picks the woking poor. 
And not only does she find out that not only in Florida, not only in Maine and even not in the gentle, hardworking Midwest, do they gouge you when you're over a barrel for someplace to rent because you cant come up with a deposit yet, she writes about it with ease and finesse. Despite her advanced degree, I never ever ever felt she talked down about the people she worked with, and only talked down about the people she worked for deservedly. This was not a role Barbara faked her way through. She BECAME the woman needing a job to get by.  And it shows in her writing that this wasn't a fake-it, sensationalist undertaking. This was good writing about a 'gorilla in the room' topic. 
Now granted, about the only thing that wasn't fully addressed would be that once you get somewhere and begin to get settled you start to get a flow and once that happenes then you start to learn more what can be done with steady income. and what help may be available, government or otherwise. And usually there is some advancement. While historically it wouldn't come from climbing the corporate ladder in any of the businesses Barbara was employed in, those wages (as she points out with the Associate who'd barely gotten .75 cents in raises in years) are pretty stagnant, but in stability and networking. Those things help. But seriously, that was so very very minor compared to what was touched on! She barely scratched the surface on how eating healthy is skewed against the poor. You can't keep a fridge full of fresh produce on 7 bucks an hour.
Barabara opened even my eyes. Where are the people working for affordable housing? Where are funds for deposits and help with budgeting skills! Where are the nutritionists and educators? Scholarships? Co-op daycare? It seems there are tons of opportunites to help that still see gaping holes! 
And keep in mind that this book, this experiment in real living, took place in 2001. Do you remember the economy in 2001? Pre-real estate bubble burst? the Bull years? hmmmm 
Imagine whats going on out there now. Imagine it the next time your Walmart assoaciate sighs when you bring 15 things to the 10 item check out. Or gives you a dirty look for leaving your impulse white stag shirt purchase lying in housewares because you changed your mind. 
Imagine it when your waitress has to force a smile because she's been oh her feet for 7 hours. Or when the hotel staff barely acknowlege you. Or when your home is freshly dusted and floors clean before you get home. 
How far are their dollars going today? 
What will happen to them tomorrow. 
Who's day can you ease with just 1% more tip,
 with just a kind word,
 leave a grocery store gift card for your housekeeper occasionally. 
Yes they are being paid for what they do, but they don't know what tomorrow holds. Barbara has shown us point blank and to the point that there are differences and they are not always warranted. 
Nickel and Dimed is an important book for any time. it speaks not only to our economy, but to our humanity.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sunday Salon ~ An Independant Week

Here in the heartland it was a record setting sweltering week as it was across most of the US. But that didn't stop us from celbrating this week.
Wednesday we had an Independence Day celebration!!

A good ole American Cook In!

Yes. In. Too hot to grill out!

But with the help of my George Foreman grill we had the next best thing. It was my daughters, my mom, my best friend and her daughter and her daughter's friend. It was pretty dang good too! We had both hamburgers and brats. And yes brats do work on the GF. Potato Salad, Chips, Salsa and Apple Brown Betty and chocolate pudding pie for dessert.
We had a nice time! And I thought the food was decent anyway :) It was very casual and not fancy at all.

Later that night my youngest daughter and I went to fireworks with my friend's daughter and friend. You know despite the heat of the earlier day it had was pretty comfortable out sitting out in our lawn chairs waiting for the show to start.

We had shapes this year!! Like the 4 leaf clover. Pretty cool huh?

Thursday was back to work and back to books on my mind...and low and behold an offer I couldn't pass up. I found a lady getting rid of about 300 Harlequin Romance books for ...well for FREE! Now I'm not totally a Harlequin fan, in fact I've probably only read 3 in my whole life. But there are plenty of folks out there that do like them. And I"m putting them in neat little bundles to go to the nursing homes and for the hospital etc where people need distraction or the comfort of a book to read.

Friday was a college visit with my youngest daughter. My oldest starts college this fall, but my girls are only a year a part so the youngest needs to makes some decisions as her Senior year starts.

And I think we found her first choice:
Cornell College in Mt Vernon Iowa (Yes Iowa, not New York. That's Cornell University) This is a private Liberal Arts School that is about an hour away and has oh. so. very. much. to offer!! I'm hoping this one works out. I think she'll love it!! It is so her!

We has lunch at this terribly unique little Lincoln Cafe. Now there are about a million greasy spoons on about a million Main streets in the Midwest and the fair is about the same in each. Burgers, Tenderloins, French Fries...How about a grilled veggie sandwich with Shitake Mushrooms, Eggplant, zucchini and onions with a walnut pesto... NOW we're talking Lincoln Cafe! yes they have burgers but oh so very much more!!
Gourmet entrees available for lunch and dinner and they utilize local suppliers for as many of their ingredients as possible.  As their website says, They are Friends with Their Farmers. Not only produce but heirloom meats too. It's such a breath of urban air amongst all the country ;) And yes sir-ee bob, that is a great thing!!

And Saturday was the creme de la creme of the week. I woke up and saw on twitter that one of my favorite authors was going to be doing a book signing in Dubuque about 30 miles away at the Books-A-Million. And I had a kid with an American Eagle gift card burning a hole. So it was going to work out amazing! It was the perfect opportunity to support the new book store and an author kind enough to come out and personally sign books!

But... Then we got to the mall, and got to AE and all of a sudden I realized I had a HUGE blind spot and I couldn't really think straight. Something was wrong. really really wrong.  I hadn't had a migraine in 30 years but this sure seemed like that. (although a tiny voice did worry it may have been a TIA) My oldest suffers migraines too and got me a high caffeine pop. And it helped enough that I felt I could get through the signing.

And so we went. And I got to see Heather and talk with her a bit. But actually 'talk' may be stretching it. I think it was more an incoherent babble as I really could hardly put together a sentence!! Poor Heather! She was so very gracious!

I did get a copy of her newest book. And I can not wait to get into it!

And now I'm looking forward to next weekend.  Nay, I'm dang near GIDDY for next weekend!

Iowa City Book Festival, Baby! Yeah! :)

Anyone else in the blogosphere going to be around? Anyone up for blogger meet up? 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunday Salon - The name of the game is: Leisure

Its been a week where, with the heat, you just couldn't take things too fast.
So instead I tried to embrace them and just experience the now-ness of them...and relax.

It made for a truly decent week!

I stepped out of my comfort zone and went to a reader's theater put on by our local library and had a ball reading The Importance of Being Earnest.

I'm still reading the same books
This is a review book...I like it very much!!

I'm through the first book now. I love the way he writes!!
And I'm also still reading Nickel and Dimed...It's hard to believe this book is 10 years old!! That means that's how long I"ve meant to read it!!

And something else awoke in the stillness of leisure...
my MUSE....and I dug out my project. which is over 10 years old. But I still think it has potential so maybe there's something there.

In the meantime, I picked up a couple books from a yard sale. I had to put them in the corner temporarily as I"m out of shelves..
 I think there were like 80 something. I may run a couple blog give-aways. With a few of them.

The weeks seem to be slipping through my fingers as I'm still one with a much bigger to-do list than time to do it!

This week will be broken up by the Holiday. I hope yours is safe and fun and gives you some awesome beach-reading time!