Thursday, June 28, 2012

comfort zone shmumfort zone

I stepped out of my comfort zone last night.  Several steps out actually!!


Now many of you who know me or who follow my blog know I love our library (which by the way I still haven't heard if they've filled the board seat I applied for or not) and we have a new director. New directors usually come with a wonderful flourish of new activities. And sure enough there was a wonderful list of new things to do: basic computer courses, movie nights, summer reading programs and.... a readers theater.

Not only have I never done a readers theater, the piece our new director chose was familiar to me only in name and intention to read...but I hadn't gotten to it. It was: The Importance of Being Earnest.

And what a HOOT!! So funny. There were only 5 of us that showed up. Which isn't awful since this is the first time this particular activity has been attempted (and there was an old fashioned ice cream social going on with live jazz music in the park.). Luckily, the new director has an extensive background in coaching readers theater so she took several of the minor roles and let us have the big boys.

Only one of us there, who also happened to be the children's librarian and whom I've known for, well lets see my kids are 18 and 17, so 18 years, ...anyway, she was the only one familiar with this play. So for the other 3 of us... it was a cold reading. But I think we did GREAT!!

I got to be Algernon! Lucky me! Isn't he a cad!! :)


It's too bad we also were filled in on what a tragic life Oscar Wilde lived. How unfair that he would be hailed as a literary giant today no matter what his orientation instead of incarcerated and ostracized to a young death. Sooo sad. 

The other way that this was out of my comfort zone was that I not only went alone, but I had no idea if I'd know anyone who was going to be there. So not only did I walk in on my own, but had to do my reading in front of strangers! Well, almost strangers. I knew the children's librarian and one of the other ladies I've spoken to at the YMCA. But mostly strangers!! I actually wasn't a bit nervous. I wonder if that's age?

I can not wait to do this again next month!! We are doing Cat on a Hot Tin Roof...I've got my eyes peeled for someone to drag along who'd make a good Big Daddy!!

Isn't is awesome when the library is more than a silent warehouse of lending items but a hub of bookish culture and celebration of the love of a good story :) That's my library to a T!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

orientation with a side of indie bookstores

Today was the beginning of a 2 day orientation for my daughter at the University of Iowa!! GO HAWKS!..


ahem. sorry. And it had been a good time! We deliberately arrived early at Iowa City to be able to walk around a bit. Why? Oh.... I dunno...maybe because 3 of my favorite bookstores happen to be here in the city and several others that are great stores too, just not quite as kitschy.


This is where I simply sighed with delight to get to be back in. Prairie Lights. One of the most renowned indie bookstores in the Midwest... or anywhere for that matter!! These are bookish-folk at their bookish best!

I picked up this little gem...

 although I had to make two trips in and then my daughter ended up finding it. I wouldn't ask because I wasn't sure of the name and I didn't know who wrote it, but...yea it happens to me too... I just LOVE this cover!! :)

Tomorrow we get to go around to some more meetings and then I hope to hit another of my favorite stores in their new location.

Now in the Sycamore mall in Iowa City. And why they are there is a heck of a blog post I hope to get around to one of these days.

It wouldn't be a trip to Iowa City without a shout out to the store that stole my heart though...

If I don't make it there this trip I certainly will spend some quality time there when I'm back in July for Iowa City Book Festival
July 13, 14, 15 :) I can't wait!! :)


Geez, I love this town!!
Just don't ask about my hotel... some things are better left forgotten


Thursday, June 14, 2012

REVIEW: The Fault In Our Stars - John (the living legend) Green


  Title: The Fault In Our Stars

  Author:  John Green

  Pages: 318    
              
  Why I Read This Book: John Green is the best and I had to sooner or  later given it deals with teens and cancer and all.
  
  Rating: 5/5







Synopsis From Goodreads:
Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind


My Review/Opinion:
I KNEW KNEW KNEW KNEW KNEW KNEW KNEW John Green would get this subject right!!!!  Weather you’ve ever been around someone sick or someone fighting a life threatening illness or someone who knew someone who’s been through it… DON’T MISS THIS BOOK!! These people are real. Their actions and reactions ring true at every turn…and to think people wondered if John could do a female protagonist. He got every nuance of teens, parents of teens, sick teens, healthy teens, young adult teens, immature teens, and weird old dudes spot on. This is how it is. These kids are as real as anyone I know…and I know so many like them.

I loved this book.

Monday, June 11, 2012

REVIEW: A Walk In The Woods - Bill Bryson

Bryson's writing could make dumpster diving seem like a grand noble adventure!! I enjoyed this book even though it wasn't exactly what I expected, but then since I've never set foot anywhere near the AT (except a weird trail out in West Virginia where I did come face to face with a copperhead. I have a picture to prove it). I guess I wasn't sure what to expect.

I guess where it threw me the most is well, it has to do with me. I am usually an imitator. When I read about something new and interesting I immediately want to run right out and try it and take it under my wing as my new pet project and dearest hobby!
****** spoiler alert***** (that is if I'm not the last person out here to read this!!)






But I didn't feel that way about the AT. It did, however make me want to find that adorable boarding house they stayed in when the left the 100 Mile Wilderness :)

All in all though I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the experience of vicariously traveling a piece of this continent I'm not likely to see. Thanks for that Bill! ;)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

BEA topic of the day... oh wait

No more BEA means no more handy dandy topic starters. Soooo.

I'll just wing it.

I jumped in and started The Fault in Our Stars and got to page 100 before tears made me have to put it aside for the night.


oh and this morning I did my very 1st 5K

that's me on the end down there... on the right.
I came in 1698th ;) Not first, but not last either!
I have soooo much training to do if I do this again :)

These are also some people I introduced The Help to and after we all read it we all went to the movie together when it came to our town.

They are always asking me whats the next great book like that. I can find plenty for us girls, but Steve being in there poses a problem (plus this is a pretty conservative crowd...churchy even so I have to watch the topic there to).

Suggestions blogosphere gurus?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Futurama!

What does the future of blogging hold? I'm not up on all the trends but I have watched things in this big ole internet turn in some patterns through the years I've been watching it.


 Twitter used to be IRC



Blogs used to be Yahoo GeoCities of 'genre-ish' personal websites

Facebook was myspace - ok well those are similar except myspace was janky ;)


The difference was an increase in the level of professionalism in the platform. The ideas were stepped up a notch.

That will be blogging. I don't know how but that's what I see, and increased level of professionalism in both the content and the platform (the platform will allow all of us hobbybloggers to continue with reviews and gushing book love like we do now.)

ASK THE EXPERT SECTION
So what would I like to know??

My readers this week may have heard me say there is no bookstore in my burg. We are 6K strong. And the nearest bookstore - indie or otherwise- is 30 miles away.

Would I be crazy to think that empty storefront downtown with good parking would make a good bookstore like this one...with some cash and some elbow grease?

I was told 'oh a bookstore would never go'. Yet EVERYONE I know reads. And I believe that a store wont go...but thats the trouble with this hamlet...they open their doors and sit there. waiting for people to come in. And bemoan the industry when People don't.

I believe you have introduce a Book Culture and engage the People with their preexisting love of books.

My HUGE fear???? How can indies compete in the digital pub arena? Are publishers going to license to them?? I could make a fortune helping the elders of the town whos kids got them kindles for mother's day at a dollar a pop to get them the latest download. Better still if the bookstore had the access to the d/l for a couple less bucks.

Just a though, but it's been on my mind often lately.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

To Blog infinity and Beyond!!

Once upon a time I was in the right place at the right time. I was paid $100 and 10 contributors copies for an article I wrote for Buckmasters magazine (yeah, Buckmasters...like deer and stuff...no I don't hunt.. at all). And a By line (which actually meant way more to me).

 It was entitled the Unicorn Buck and yeah the deer had a horn growing right out of the middle of its forehead...weird huh? (I learned the explanation for it as well)


But that was nearly 10 years ago and way way pre-blog. I did it the old fashioned way...I queried. And despite the shot in the arm on my skills when I got my check, I haven't done anything since.

Like many of you, I have some works in progress. I always do. I'm a great starter but fade midway and then let it sit. 

But I haven't used my blog too much to forward any ambition as of yet. I am looking towards the blog as an area I would like to strengthen in industry information and insider news and pre-publication reviews.Think Shelf Awareness (they are my idols!) Or write for them, that would be amazing too. I could offer a 'from the Midwest trenches' look at industry and reader trends via some University strings? Hmmm?


  Although that's a pretty lofty expectation.. But hey! Aim small Miss small right?
 
At the same time I wouldn't mind being so widely read that advertisers would feel justified in giving me money for a spot on my sidebar :)

In the meantime. I believe I'll sit and stare at my projects on my WriteItNow software and keep talking on my blog about what I love. Reading with caveats into my lil ole life. :)




Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Networking??

Networking? We dohn neeed no steenking networking!!



Just kidding. Actually this is an area that I am Juuuuuust dipping my toes in. My blog is still small and more amateur (I spelled that word so wrong the first time that spell check couldn't even figure out what I meant)

Yeah so it's still so amateur that I have no 'names' to drop when I meet people IRL. However, I did almost create a writers workshop at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics patient library in conjunction with the Iowa Writers Workshop. And the project technically isn't kaput just yet, I just need to finish some things up. connect some dots. Did it advance my readership? nah. not at all.

I went last July to the Iowa City Book Festival and did get to talk about my blog more than anywhere else however I only had a few scraps of paper and some deposit slips to scrawl my .com down on. And I didn't really advance my readership there either. (or my bank account although I was hoping the deposit slips would get used!)

I'm going back to ICBF (someone please come out and see me! There are so many cool places for a meetup in IC) and I'm going prepared.

I made cards. Now I've tried these out a  place or too and mostly I'm met with a polite scoff. Yes I didn't believe there was such a thing, but the polite scoff does exist and it's right there next to the cordial insult. This could be because IRL I work in agriculture, piglet feed precisely, and no one expects the QC manager to be so, well, bookish!

So I haven't increased my readership there either.  I intend to attempt some inroads at our local library again (we have ANOTHER new library director and I've got my app in to be on the board).

But the closest bookish community to me is about 40-70 miles away. We don't even have a bookstore here. (GASP ...I know right!!)

Although someday I'd love to change THAT...but that's another post for another, brighter day :)

So come folks.... hit me up with some stellar advice on how to rock this networking thing! I'm all ears...or eyes. or ...yeah. :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Best of the Best of the Best! - SIR!

I know there are literally hundereds of great books out there from this year, and I know I've still been reading in a time warp because most of what I read is over 10 years old let alone from this year, so after quite a bit of consideration and procrastination, I opted to give my full endoresement to..... a book I haven't read.

Yup.

BUT!! It's John Green.... and I have read him. And I have listened to him... And my daughter read this book (off of preordered present btw).
  And... When it comes to The Fault In Our Starts, the book of 2012 that I have chosen, it's the subject matter that made the difference.


Goodreads Synopsis -
 Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.(less)

Why? Why would I pick such a depressing topic to be my favorite book? Why would I claim this morbid subject matter?

Those who know me know why...and they also know why I haven't been able to read it just yet, but know its amazing.



 That's my daughter. She is 17 in this picture and in the midst of her 1st round of chemo for Leukemia.

And this is Tylor next to the stroller

These guys met in the hospital. Had a rocky start but ended up friends. I used to stop at McDonalds to get Tylor a quarter pounder...which really made my daughter mad. :) But he didn't have that many people to bring him stuff.

This is my daughter today. She is in remission and just graduated from High School.

We lost Tylor shortly after that picture above was taken. They had the same kind of cancer. And it's still so hard.

And I'll just BET John Green gets this. I just BET he will capture what's going on in these kids. My youngest daughter (this one's little sister) read it. She said she started crying before she opened the cover. And these two aren't exactly best friends :)

This book has the potential to be a powerful book. At least in my life. And when I steel myself enough to read it... I'll know why I was right in picking it as my
BEST OF THE BEST OF 2012!

Ok... heartfelt sadness story over... back to ArmchairBEA!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Library - so far

From my introduction post for Armchair BEA, people really picked up on my homes 'library'. So I thought I'd share. 

Here is how the library looks at this point. Boy oh boy do I have plans. I have a bookshelf for 'special or sentimental and my Stephen King collection' books. One for classics and series. One for general read books read and one (plus some stacks on the floor) for TBR. :) (they are on the opposite wall. My Desk is in the middle and the back wall has a 'pocket office', a converted closet that has desk, shelves etc behind bifolds.

I'll post more as I get things the way I want them :) aka: think built-ins!


Hey ArmchairBEA, haaaaaave ya met Laura?

I'm so glad to be participating in Armchair BEA again this year. Last year was so much fun even though I felt quite a bit like a lurker a lot of the time.  Hopefully this year I can be even more involved.

So, yeah...on to me.
Since this is BEA related and not match.com... I guess I can be honest >:) just kidding, I'm honest there too. ...not that it helps!

drumroll

1.) A little about me...
Laura. Iowan. Pursuing a BA with plans to pursue a MLS. The kicker? I'm old! Well all things being relative, on a college campus I'm old.  I've been blogging for nearly 3 years. There again I don't post as often as I'd like. Sometimes I feel like I have nothing to say, sometimes I procrastinate. I got into blogging on a different side of the blogoshpere, the hgtv-ish side. I have a blog on that side too, but I hardly ever post there.  I was going to just have a page on books, but it just kept growing, like the blob and pretty soon, I knew it was it's own entity.  Thus Bunny Tales was born. I love it and hope to keep improving it and hope you guys think I have something of value to say...at least occasionally.

2.)  One non-book related thing to know about me...sorta non-book related
I like antiquing and have a turn-of-the-century home
pssst it has a room I'm turning into a library with pocket doors. ;)

3.) Where do you see your blog in 5 years?
With lots of followers who are bookish friends as well as fellow bloggers and book fans that I've met IRL preferably at BEA in NYC. A blog that is looked to for the latest in insider information, that is full of what is going on in the publishing and book world and who posts quotable reviews on upcoming releases..... now how to make that happen, I have no idea! :)

4.) What Literary Location?
PEMBERLY - both from the book and the movie...all the UK really.


5.) What is your favorite part about the book blogging community? Is there anything that you would like to see change in the coming years?
Meeting fun bookish folk, looking for their posts, taking their suggestions. Seeing new bloggers grow as we all watch where this now topsy turvy industry heads. It's like watching one of those fireworks...the kind that spin around on the ground then hop and jump and you're just not sure where they are going to go but Man do they look brilliant doing it. What would I change? Let it grow!

So there we go. Now you know me a little better. I'm just good ole' bookish-folk just like yous guys. I can't wait to learn more about you and meet some new blogosphere friends.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Eventful week & much excitement Sunday Salon

So the planets in my life must have been aligned in an interesting conglomeration because I've actually had a very interesting week both personally and bookish-ly.

First - YAY finished a book and posted a review!!




Foodie wannabies I highly recommend it... you know who you are.. you eat mac and cheese from a box and watch the food network, you have a shelf full of amaziningly interesting cookbooks that are in pristine shape because you've never actually cooked with them... you're drawn like a moth to a flame to the Kitchens store in the mall and you may even own a fine chef's knife....

or is that just me?

I'm making progress in my Bill Bryson book. A Walk In The Woods...it's not on my sidebar but it's on my goodreads.. anyway. I very much enjoy Brysons style and like hearing the 'opinions' he has on things he comes across, but I loaned one his books to a friend... Notes From A Small Island... and she actually returned it unfinished. She just couldn't take the whining she said. Nice travelogue interspersed with rant rant rant. Ok fair enough.

And I'm to the point now in Mansfield Park where I can actually tell whos who.. or maybe it's just that things in my personal life have let up enough that I can actually concentrate at night.

Personally things have been trippy.
Kids are gone on a school trip to Texas - they went swimming in the gulf and nearly everyone got jellyfish stung. weird huh? I'd have gotten out and laid on the beach, but no...they went back in...and promptly got stung again.


And I both got dumped (which turns out didn't bother me a bit) and met someone new...in that order :) Like my friend Shane says, "There's nothing like the next one to get you over the last one" Amen Shane-o. Especially when the next one is such a great one!


And greatest of all...Armchair BEA starts this upcoming week!!!!! I. Can. Not. WAIT!! :)
Link at the top in the dooblydoo. (aka sidebar for the non-vlog brothers fans)

I wonder how many books I will come away with on my TBR pile??

It's a GORGEOUS Sunday here...how about where you are??

L





Friday, June 1, 2012

Review: The Kitchen Counter Cooking School ~ Kathleen Flinn


TITLE:  The Kitchen Counter Cooking School. How A Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks

AUTHOR: Kathleen Flinn

PUBLISHED: September 29th 2011 by Viking Adult 

PAGES: 304

WHY I READ THIS: I found this title on netgalley and I've been contemplating my eating patterns for quite awhile. Plus I can always use help in the kitchen. The whole premise of this book appealed to me

SYNOPSIS FROM GOODREADS:
After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, writer Kathleen Flinn returned with no idea what to do next, until one day at a supermarket she watched a woman loading her cart with ultraprocessed foods. Flinn's "chefternal" instinct kicked in: she persuaded the stranger to reload with fresh foods, offering her simple recipes for healthy, easy meals.
The Kitchen Counter Cooking School includes practical, healthy tips that boost readers' culinary self-confidence, and strategies to get the most from their grocery dollar, and simple recipes that get readers cooking.


MY FEELINGS ON IT:
This book was right up my alley. Did you know that if you tell people you can't cook, they believe you? Even if you make something really good, fancy and yummy they will still think of you as the person who can't cook. And guess what, after a while, you begin to think of yourself that way too. It's not a defeatist attitude, it's more a morphing that you forgot you really can cook somewhat.

And that's where I am now. I can cook I suppose, but I sure don't feel like I can. I had no confidence and I was the lady loading up on frozen pizza and boxed dinners. After I read Barbara Kingsolvers book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle that really started to bug me. 


But I didn't think I actually could do much about it. Until this crazy chef went and pointed some easy stuff out to a lady in a supper market. And then gave a class to a bunch of ladies who were in the same boat. 

The first half of the book seemed a bit more like a 'foodalogue' I guess. But then I read this in two distinct sections since I started with an egalley that expired....BUT I liked the book well enough that I just had to finish it SO I bought a copy. Now hows that for and endorsement!...


anyway, after a while she really got into the cooking and the instructions and the tips that actually do make a difference! I had used whole chickens before in my life (my poorer life) but I'd gotten away from it and I never had learned how to KEEP stock (I could make it but it looked gross and I didn't know how to store it) But I learned from the book what to do. And bought a whole bird today. And guess what...it was on sale for .88 per pound. Yup for a whole chicken! mine was less than 5.00 and I get 2 or 3 'can's of stock, and a couple meals. SWEET!

So you know I only gave this book 3.5 stars, but I may rethink that because I did enjoy it. I think I would have like MORE class time and more one on one conversations with the students and how they really did or did not adapt their lessons to their life.

I really did highlight quite a few things in the book. Like a 'lightbulb' passage on how kids metabolize processed foods get addicted to them at very young ages. It tells a chilling story of rats, processed high fat, high sugar foods, dopamine and addiction. It may not be just a bratty kid having a meltdown for fast food frys. It may be much sadder than that. 

She tried an experiment (long about page 212) where she put post it notes on food items she bought. especially produce and if they went bad and she had to throw them away, she put their post-it note inside a cupboard door and then after a week she added up how much she had thrown out. Plus just seeing the monetary value of what was in the crisper helped her avoid the toss-it guilt and prompted her to think how to use things up. (hint hint ~ Soup!)

All in all though I found this book, instructive, entertaining, interesting, and helpful. Above all I simply enjoyed it!!

Maybe enough to not worry about what anyone else thinks of my cooking and just let myself cook :)