Spring Reading Series Announcement! Dead End Gene Pool by Wendy Burden

Today I’m announcing our May Reading Series selection… drumroll please…

DEAD END GENE POOL by Wendy Burden!

It’s dark.  It’s funny.  And it’s all true!  Here’s a synopsis:

In the tradition of Sean Wilsey’s Oh The Glory of It All and Augusten Burrough’s Running With Scissors, the great-great-great-great granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt gives readers a grand tour of the world of wealth and WASPish peculiarity, in her irreverent and darkly humorous memoir.

For generations the Burdens were one of the wealthiest families in New York, thanks to the inherited fortune of Cornelius “The Commodore” Vanderbilt. By 1955, the year of Wendy’s birth, the Burden’s had become a clan of overfunded, quirky and brainy, steadfastly chauvinistic, and ultimately doomed bluebloods on the verge of financial and moral decline-and were rarely seen not holding a drink. In Dead End Gene Pool, Wendy invites readers to meet her tragically flawed family, including an uncle with a fondness for Hitler, a grandfather who believes you can never have enough household staff, and a remarkably flatulent grandmother.

At the heart of the story is Wendy’s glamorous and aloof mother who, after her husband’s suicide, travels the world in search of the perfect sea and ski tan, leaving her three children in the care of a chain- smoking Scottish nanny, Fifth Avenue grandparents, and an assorted cast of long-suffering household servants (who Wendy and her brothers love to terrorize). Rife with humor, heartbreak, family intrigue, and booze, Dead End Gene Pool offers a glimpse into the fascinating world of old money and gives truth to an old maxim: The rich are different.

And you thought YOUR family was weird!!

She'll be here for our discussion-ask her anything!

Ok, so here’s the deal.  I have 20 COPIES  of DEAD END GENE POOL available for our reading series, compliments of  Gotham Books, a division of Penguin Group!  We’ll get the books out to everyone who’s interested in participating. Then we’ll discuss it here, and Wendy will join in!  Think of it as a book club of sorts, except without the wine.  Well, you can have wine in front of your computer if you like.  Who’s gonna stop you?

E-mail me with your address (even if you think I have it!) to request a free copy of the book- first come, first served.  Put “DEAD END GENE POOL” in the subject line, but please only request the book if you are interested in coming back for the  discussion.  Be sure it sounds like a book you’d enjoy.  And I’m really sorry to our friends in other countries, but this is open to residents of US/Canada only.

Click here to read a full description of the book. Dead End Gene Pool will be in stores on April 1st, 2010, and the discussion will take place here on May 18th – with the author participating ‘live’ for an hour!  I will post details for the discussion about a week before along with an email reminder to those who’ve won the book.

I hope you’ll join us!


A little Reading Series history:

Why do we blog?  Why do we read blogs?  For me it’s because I love to read, and I love discussing the books I read with others.

So out of that “desire to discuss” was born the Reading Series idea.  Another blogger and I really liked the idea of a virtual book club.  20 of us would read the same book and come back to talk about it, with the author in attendance!  This was such a huge hit with the Summer Reading Series (Beach Trip, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, and Two Years, No Rain) that we did a  Winter Reading Series (for the book Keeping the Feast).  Now it’s a ‘thing that we do’ with TLC Book Tours.

My TLC partner Trish from Hey, Lady! is having a Spring Reading Series discussion for The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott coming up in April.  Those books have already been claimed (and apparently, really quickly.  She claims she almost had her fingers bitten off by rabid book fans!)  SO, please be fast if you want to participate in this one.. and please don’t bare your teeth.. I like my fingers right where they are..

UPDATE: 3/23 at 2:30 pm PST-  I still have 7 books left, and all my fingers 🙂

Teaser Tuesday – January 12, 2010

Miz B and Teaser Tuesdays asks you to: Grab your current read. Let the book fall open to a random page. Share with us two (2) sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12. You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

My teaser today comes from page 95 of American Rust by Philipp Meyer, a powerful book sent to me by Random House for a TLC Book Tour, which kicks off today on The Blue Stocking Society with a giveaway to celebrate the trade paperback release!

The first two random pages I picked didn’t work out- the book is told in sort of a stream of consciousness style and the first one just would not have made any sense, while the second one contained the “f” word.  In keeping with my blog’s PG rating, I thought it would be best to keep looking!  So here’s my third random teaser-

“She pulled in next to the trailer and there she was, his mother, dressed for church and him standing in his underpants in the driveway, nearly one o’clock in the afternoon.  She shook her head, but not in a friendly way.”

This book has commanded my attention in a way I haven’t been grabbed by a book in ages..

Reading Challenges.. Do you do them?

A new year brings a brand new crop of Reading Challenges.  There are so many and they all sound so enticing.  Except I haven’t had the greatest success in completing challenges in the past.  It’s always really fun to pick out titles but then when it comes time to read all those books I’ve lined up, I’m distracted by other shiny objects- reviews of new books, books in my TBR stack, books on display at Borders, books people are talking about on Twitter or at book club; and I think, why did I sign up for this??

Last year I completed the RIP IV Challenge but only with 2 books read.  The year before I completed the What’s In a Name Challenge.  I won’t list the many many challenges I didn’t bother to stick with.

So I got to thinking, why do so many bloggers do challenges?  What appeals to them about reading from a list?  I knew my blogging friends would have good reasons for this, and they did not disappoint.

I posed three questions to a somewhat random sampling of popular bloggers:

1.  Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

2.  Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

3.  Do you host any challenges yourself?

Here are the answers:

.

From Toni at A Circle of Books

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

I participate in the challenges.  I think it provides motivation, stimulates book discussion and it is fun.  It is kind of like a big big book club.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

E-book challenge, From my Shelves Project, Audio Challenge

Do you host any challenges yourself?

I have yet to host a challenge, but I’d really like to some day.

.

From Ti at Book Chatter

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

I have participated in a few in the past but have not been successful.  I find that it turns my reading into work and I want my reading to be for pure enjoyment.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

The only challenge that I am doing is J. Kaye’s 100+ Reading Challenge because all books count AND it’s a good way to keep track of what I’ve read.

Do you host any challenges yourself?

I haven’t hosted a challenge, for same reason I noted above. I much prefer read-alongs which you can sort of consider a challenge depending on the book. I am hosting a read-along for Moby Dick right now and let me tell you, it’s a challenge!

.

From Jill at Fizzy Thoughts

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

Yes, I participate in challenges. But only a few each year. Otherwise, they start to feel like chores. I chose a few each year that I think will encourage and motivate me expand my reading horizons. I’m doing Women Unbound because I believe in the topic, and it’s also a way to challenge myself to read more non-fiction this year. The South Asian Authors Challenge will encourage me to read more non-US authors, which is always something I’m striving to do. I also like the community aspect of challenges, and seeing what other people choose to read…there’s such diversity in the challenges!

I’m also doing a few read-alongs, but I think of those as entirely separate from challenges.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

This year, I’m doing Women Unbound (which rocks!) and the South Asian Authors Challenge. And maybe Trish’s OATES, since I have most of the authors already on my shelves. And I might join RIP again, if Carl offers it, but that’s later in the year.

Do you host any challenges yourself?

Nope. Although I’d love to do something similar to the Armchair Traveler reading challenge that was the first challenge I ever joined. I just haven’t thought hard enough yet to make it a reality.

.

From Care at Care’s Online Book Club:

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

YES, I participate in reading challenges.   I like the shared discussion about books – when it happens and I like to be included in activities.    I like to experience books that I may not have chosen otherwise.     I also like to un-officially participate so I don’t have added stress of HAVING to read something so I do attempt to limit myself.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

That limiting concept gets harder every year!   I love making the lists but then hate the stress of actually reading what I have committed to.     I am participating in Women Unbound, What’s In a Name 3, Woolf in Winter, A Wrinkle in Time (not real name of challenge – I’ll have to go look that up…) LOTR readalong, Flashback, John Cusack, and unofficially Book to Movie, the Well Read Challenge, Global Challenge,  Twenty in 2010 (maybe – I might have signed and forgot), GLBT and…     This is one of my tasks this weekend – to clean up my challenges so I know what I’m doing this year.   I love read-alongs and have a few of these in line, too, with a few other bloggers.   Citizen Reader’s Book Menages are wonderful.   I prefer casual challenges that allow books from other challenges to count.

Do you host any challenges yourself?

I’m co-hosting the Women Unbound Challenge.  This is a 13 month long challenge focussing on Women’s Issues in fiction AND in nonfiction.  This is my first challenge hosting attempt and it’s been nice to share duties and to share the discussion of duties, actually.  🙂

.

From Florinda at 3R’s Blog:

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

I didn’t get involved in challenges until I’d been blogging for almost two years, and I still don’t sign on for very many of them. The challenges that have appealed to me address goals I already have in mind or are focused on a topic or genre I would have wanted to read anyway – they just help give me direction. I try to stay away from challenges that would require me to add much to my already exploding TBR collection!

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

I’m participating in the Read Your Own Books Challenge this year for the second time – it helps keep me from getting too caught up in review books. It will also overlap with most of the other challenges I’m doing.

I joined two challenges in the fall that are continuing into this year:

Women Unbound Challenge (women’s studies, requires both fiction and nonfiction – I have a surprising amount in TBR that qualifies)
Shelf Discovery Challenge (an excuse to re-read some YA favorites from my own YA days)

I joined the Memorable Memoirs Challenge since that’s my preferred nonfiction genre

Do you host any challenges yourself?

I’m on the verge of announcing my first hosted challenge, but I’m going to call it a “reading project” since so many people have sworn they’re not joining any more challenges this year :-)! I’ll also be co-hosting a read-along in March and April with two other bloggers. However, since I haven’t officially posted about either of these activities yet, I can’t say any more about them now.

.

From Stephanie at Stephanie’s Written Word:

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

Reading challenges are a lot of fun. Even though some people feel pressure to finish the challenge, I just enjoy giving myself a list and seeing if I can do it. No pressure – if I don’t finish it’s really no big deal. I don’t think there are reading challenge police out there! 🙂 In fact, last year I only finished two challenges – Carl’s RIP and my own Everything Austen.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

I’m currently participating in The Vampire Diaries challenge hosted by My Friend Amy, The Shelf Discovery Challenge by Booking Mama and All About the Brontes hosted by Laura’s Reviews. I am super excited about the Bronte challenge as I’ve never read any Bronte before!

Lastly, I ALWAYS participate in Carl’s two big reading challenges each year and will do so again in 2010. I love his Once Upon a Time challenge in the spring and RIP challenge in the fall. They are both great!!

Do you host any challenges yourself?

I hosted the Everything Austen challenge that ran from July 1st to December 31st, 2009. You can read my wrap up post here.   I had over 200 participants and almost 600 reviews were credited to Everything Austen. Overall I gave away 17 different Austen-ish books and had numerous guest posts by authors. It was a lot of work but a ton of fun! It was my first reading challenge that I hosted but probably won’t be my last!

.

From Lenore at Presenting Lenore:

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

I have participated in a couple over the past few years, but for 2010 I am only participating in one official challenge (so far).  I have a hard time keeping up with all the requirements and getting the books read in time if I join too many.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

I am participating in the YA debut author challenge hosted by The Story Siren because I love to support debut authors and it looks like Kristi is going to be a active host who has the support of the debut author community.  I may also join in to some mini-challenges like the Kidlitosphere comment more challenge.

Do you host any challenges yourself?

I do not host any official challenges, but I have some personal ones such as reading more books in the German language and more classics.

.

From Nicole at Linus’s Blanket:

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

I do! Though I am far from the ideal challenge participant.  I love making lists and thinking about books with the same authors or the same themes, and researching titles that will fit into my challenges, and I just love reading other lists and meeting new bloggers in the same challenges as me.  Challenges are like mixers or bars where you can meet new people!  They really appeal to both the curious and organizer aspects of my personality as well as the social part.  I love perusing the linkies and reading reviews.  I am good at joining challenges, but not so good at posting my own reviews and horrid at wrap-up posts.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

Which challenges aren’t I doing this year might be more easily answered.  So far I have signed up for:

The African Diaspora Challenge, Our Mutual Read, The TBR Challenge, South Asian Author Challenge, 451 Fridays Challenge, Audio Book Challenge, Read The Book See The Movie Challenge, Shelf Discovery Challenge, The Chunkster Challenge, The Debutante Ball Challenge, The What’s In A Name Challenge, The Winter Reading Challenge.

Do you host any challenges yourself?

I’m hosting That’s How I Blog’s Twenty Minute Book Club Challenge. I host a Blog Talk Radio Show on Tuesday nights called That’s How I Blog! where I chat with bloggers about their blogging experiences and the books that they enjoy reading.  We have a twenty minute discussion (okay so often it’s a 40 minute discussion) on a book we have chosen to read together.  This challenge is a little different from other challenges because the books are already chosen for you. I really love that you get to chat about the same books with other readers and to participate in the book club at the end of the show, but that you also have the flexibility to read the books out of sync and at your own pace.

I have another challenge in the works for finishing half-read books, but I won’t be starting that til next month.

.

From Sandy at You’ve GOTTA Read This!

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

I absolutely do participate in challenges.  I love them for several reasons.  First, they keep me focused on books that I have made a priority to read.  If not, I meander all over the place, and don’t end up reading half of what I wanted.  Second, they push me to read genres that are new to me.  Last year, my big stretch was classics, of which I am shamefully ignorant. This year, its graphic novels.  Third, I just thrive on achieving goals – they make me accountable.  (Challenges also seem to work for me in the areas of fitness as well!) Plus, I hate to fail at things.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

I still have three challenges continuing from 2009:  Harry Potter Challenge,
Japanese Reading Challenge and Random Reading Challenge.

For 2010, I’ve signed up for ten challenges:

Audio Books
E-Books
100+
Read and Review
Vietnam War Through the Generations
Read from your Shelves
Read the Book/See the Movie
TBR
Support Your Library
Graphic Novels

Do you host any challenges yourself?

I have never hosted any challenges before.  I know it sounds sophomoric, but I’m a little shy about it since I consider myself to be somewhat new.  Maybe next year!   I did consider hosting one where you read all of Entertainment
Weekly’s top books.

.

From Teddy at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time:

Do you participate in reading challenges?

Yes, there are many reasons.  Challenges help me get organized for my year of reading.  They don’t dictate everything I’m going to read but they guide me.  There are several challenges that fit into what I plan to read anyway.  For example, I know I am going to read ARCs and a lot of historical fiction.  There are challenge the those both fit into nicely.  I am addicted to challenges.  They are fun.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

I’m doing a lot!
O.A.T.E.S.
ARC
Books Won
What an Animal II
China
Year of the Historical
Pub
TBR Lite
Books to Read Before I Die
RYOB
Woman Unbound
New Authors
Audio Book
Hisorical Fiction
Chunkster
Global

I also am doing two perpetual challenges that I have been doing for a couple years:
Books Around the World
Books Around the States

Do you host any challenges yourself?

I currently host 2:

The ARC Reading Challenge is to read ARC’s.  I use the term ARC loosely, any book that is sent to the participant that a review is expected qualifys.  There are 3 levels.

The Books Won Challenge is to read books that you have won in giveaways.  There are four levels.

.

From Natalie at Book, Line, and Sinker:

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

I have yet to participate in any reading challenges.  I’ve been book blogging since March and just haven’t signed up for one.  There are a bunch of great ones out there but I’m reticent to join and don’t know why!  Fear of committment, maybe?  Lol.

.

From Mari at Bookworm with a View:

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

I haven’t participated in Challenges in the past.  Would you believe me if I told you I didn’t know exactly what a Challenge was or that so many existed until last fall?  The ones I am participating in for 2010 are simple in nature (ie: Read’n Review: where you post a review for every book you read). I read about 2-3 books a month and being in two book clubs I fear I would
be over-committing.  Once Spring comes around and I’m busy running outside, I will try to listen to some audio books, which might increase my volume read a bit.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

I have signed up for four challenges, two focused on reading books from my book shelves, one to review what I read and the last one focuses on reading a novel by an upcoming/new author (from a set list).

Details:
http://bwavchallenges.blogspot.com/

I missed list another challenge that I am in:  The Canadian Book Challenge.

Do you host any challenges yourself?

No, but I like to think I’m cheerleading from the sidelines, for all of you hosting challenges and for those who read so much, I look up to you – you amaze me!

.

From Trish at Hey, Lady!  Whatcha’ Readin’?

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

Not anymore. I did when I first started blogging, but I found I’m not disciplined enough to finish a challenge.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

Actually, I’m hosting two challenges, but they’re specifically geared towards the books I want to read this year. They are the O.A.T.E.S. Challenge and the Laura Lippman Challenge (which will be announced on Monday 1/11/).

Do you host any challenges yourself?

I’m hosting two challenges: the O.A.T.E.S. Challenge, which was inspired by Joyce Carol Oates. The idea is to read authors whose last name begin with A, T, E, or S. Joyce Carol Oates is obviously the author you’d read for O. My goal is to read a few JCO books this year, as well as two books by Margaret Atwood, a book by Tolstoy, a book by Steinbeck, and something by Ernest Hemingway. The goal is to challenge my reading this year. The other challenge I’m hosting is the Laura Lippman Challenge. Laura Lippman has written quite a few books, most of them crime fiction, many of which have been nominated for or won awards. While she’s not a particularly challenging author, her books fit in with my reading plan this year.

.

From Dar at Peeking Between the Pages

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

Yes I participate in reading challenges.  I really enjoy them because they allow you to step out of your comfort zone and read something different; something you may not have read otherwise.  Also I think challenges bring about a great sense of community in the blogging world.  We all get excited about joining the challenges and figuring out what books we’ll read and then updating throughout the year.  It’s fun and I think it brings us all together in a way.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

Lots!  lol!  Here’s the list of my challenges this year:

Vietnam Reading Challenge
Young Adult Reading Challenge
ARC Reading Challenge
Romance Reading Challenge
Chunkster Challenge
Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
eBook Reading Challenge
Reading From my Shelves Project
100+ Reading Challenge
Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge
Outlander Challenge
Random Reading Challenge
Sookie Stackhouse Challenge

Yikes, that’s 13.  Looks like I’m going to have to find myself one more challenge. Can’t be staying at the number 13.  lol.

Do you host any challenges yourself?

I don’t host any challenges but I’m still thinking about doing one if not this year then next year for sure.

.

From Lisa at Lit and Life

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

When I first started blogging last June, I didn’t really know much about the challenges and wasn’t sure it was something I would be interested in.  Then Stephanie at Stephanie’s Written Word started the Everything Austen challenge.  As a person that has read every Austen book and seen at least one movie version of each of them, I felt like this was the perfect challenge for me to jump in on.  It didn’t take me long to figure out that not only were challenges a great way to encourage me to read certain books, but that they were also a great way to meet new people and to drive traffic to my blog.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

This year I’ve become something of a challenge addict.  In addition to continuing with the Random Reading Challenge, I’ve added eleven new challenges: What’s In A Name 3, The Michener Challenge, Our Mutual Read, 2010 Read ‘n’ Review Challenge, 451 Challenge, 2010 Reading From My Shelves Project, 2010 Flashback Reading Challenge, You’ve Got Mail Reading Challenge, O.A.T.E.S., All About The Brontes 2010 Challenge, and the Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge which I’m hosting.

Do you host any challenges yourself?

The idea for the Gilmore Girls challenge came about, as so many ideas do, when I was talking with another blogger who mentioned that she had come across a list of all of the books ever shown or discussed on the t.v. show The Gilmore Girls.  I loved that show and when I saw how many books and the wide variety of books were included, I knew it was the perfect idea for the challenge I’d been thinking about putting together.  You can check out the Gilmore Girl Challenge HERE.

.

From Susan at Suko’s Notebook

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

I love to participate in challenges, but I only join the ones which don’t require a great number of books be read, because I’m busy and I like to choose what I’ll read. I also don’t like challenges with too many rules and regulations. But reading challenges are fun to join, and bring more visitors to your site.

Which reading challenges are you doing this year?

I am participating in a few reading challenges this year, The Aussie Author Challenge, The Typically British Challenge, and the All About the Brontes Challenge.

Do you host any challenges yourself?

I would love to host a reading challenge on my blog. If I can think up a good one then I will!
.

From Anna at Diary of an Eccentric

.

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

Yes!  I enjoy participating in reading challenges because they motivate me to read books I’ve wanted to read for a long time or open myself to new authors, books, and genres.  It’s fun to see what other participants are reading for the same challenge.  I’m always adding titles to the long list of books I’d like to read some day.
.
Which reading challenges are you doing this year?
.
So far, I’ve only signed up for two:  the Vietnam War Reading Challenge at War Through the Generations and the Jane Austen Challenge at the Life (and Lies) of an Inanimate Flying Object.  If the Everything Austen Challenge at Stephanie’s Written Word happens again this year, I’ll join that one, too.
.
Do you host any challenges yourself?

I co-host annual war-related reading challenges with Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit) at War Through the Generations.  Last year, we hosted the WWII Reading Challenge, and this year, we’ve switched gears to Vietnam.  We are very interested in the impact of war on people and society, and our participants are encouraged to read fiction, non-fiction, children’s books and even watch a couple of movies if they desire, with whatever war we’re covering as the primary or secondary theme.  We compile related book reviews and recommended reading lists on the challenge blog.  It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it to provide a useful resource to readers interested in war-related books.  And it’s why I limit myself to only a few reading challenges per year.
.

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Why or why not?

Blog Neglect and Reviews

"Watch me, Mom!"

"Watch me, Mom!"

Due to the lure of summer and the demands of work and children, I’ve been neglecting my blog.  I’m down from 3-5 posts per week to 1-2.  It’s not that I have less to say, only that I have less time to say it.  

But I have been reading!  I read during the kids’ pre-lifeguard classes at the high school. I read while watching their back handsprings and round-offs during tumbling.  I read on the front steps of the library as the girls return their books and look for new ones.  I read at the roller rink while they skate.  I read in the food court at the mall as they and their friends spend an hour at Claire’s poring over $2 earrings and purple and green nail polish, or visiting the puppies at the pet store.  I read while sitting at the pool as they perfect their dives and their butterfly stroke.  “Watch me, Mom!”  “Time me, Mom!”  “On a scale of 1-10, how good was my dive?”  My To-Be-Reviewed stack is piling up.

Speaking of reviews.. I have a few questions for my fellow bloggers.

How long, on average, does it take you to write a review?

Do you read other reviews before or after you write yours?

Do you write your review immediately upon finishing a book, or do you wait a while and let it sink in a bit?

Do you pick up a new book to start the minute you finish one?

Inquiring minds want to know!!

Hope everyone is having a great summer!  Thanks to all of you who still come by and comment even though there’s not much going on around here lately!

The Sunday Salon – May 31, 2009

TSSbadge3It’s quiet around here today- the hub’s out of town on business and daughter #2 went to a sleepover birthday party last night.  Daughter #1 is still in bed, so it’s just me and the dog, hanging out.  And of course, lots of book bloggers are out of town at BEA.  The silence is deafening!

images-1This has been a good week for reading.  I finished Truth & Beauty, read and reviewed The Virgin Suicides, got about 2/3rds of the way through Beach Trip for our Summer Reading Series, and read about 100 pages of The Local News for an upcoming TLC tour.   My youngest and I started reading The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan together for our newly formed mother/child book club, inspired by Julie at Booking Mama.  Our first meeting will be in July with 11 kids (boys and girls) and 9 adults- we’re excited.  It’s amazing how much reading you can do when you turn off the tv.

9780316025270_154X233A lot of books made their way into my hands this week.  I received The Art of Racing in the Rain from Harper Collins- it was a win from a book club website.  I also won The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society from Random House.  Both ‘Racing’ and ‘Guernsey’ are books I’ve been wanting to read since they first came out; I can’t wait!  Love Begins in Winter, a collection of short stories by Simon Van Booy, also came from Harper Collins.  I’m not sure about this one.  I love short stories, but in looking over the book I’m not in love with the author’s style.  I was going to use it for a Teaser Tuesday post, but the sentences are all super short and choppy, and not just in one area.  I looked at probably 20 sample pages.  So I don’t know.  The Skinny:  Adventures of America’s First Bulimic by Rayni Joan came from the author, and last but not least, Sheri from A Novel Menagerie let me borrow Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea.  I’m really looking forward to that one.

9781439102817And I still have to buy a couple of books!  Still Alice by Lisa Genova is my book club’s July pick, and Life of Pi by Yan Martell is our pick for August.  Must get my hands on those.  I will never have enough time to read all the books in my house- unless I stop working and ignore the house, the laundry, my friends and my family for a month or so and do nothing but read.  As tempting as that sounds, it ain’t gonna happen.

Last night, though, I took a break from reading and had a movie night with my 11 year old daughter.  We watched Mean Girls and Legally Blond 2 and pigged out on cookies & cream ice cream.  It was nice spending some one on one time with my oldest.  My kids can be a handful when they’re together, but separately they are angels (well, mostly..), and I think they crave and really need time alone with me and with their dad.  They get sick of being seen as a unit and don’t always want to vie for our attention.

After my girl fell asleep I watched Rachel Getting Married with Anne Hathaway and sobbed like a baby!  The tears were just streaming out of me like a faucet, soaking my face and neck, and I didn’t even try to stop them.  I totally get why she was nominated for Best Actress for this role. She’s come a long way from The Princess Diaries and Ella Enchanted (loved those, too, but in a different way).

Well I hope everyone has a great week.  June, already!  It’s hard to believe.  For us that means 6th grade graduation, 2 more weeks of school, and then a gaggle of kids in and out of the house every day for 12 weeks.  I’m not ready!!!!!

Leave me a note and tell me what you’re reading this week.  Happy Sunday!

7 Ways To Make Sure No One Reads Your Blog Posts

I picked up a few tips from the comments in Read Me and wanted to pass them along!

1.  Be longwinded.  Lots of readers will skip right over your posts if they are extra long.

2.  Write lengthy paragraphs.  Breaking up your writing into smaller chunks makes it much too easy for the reader.

3.  Do not use humor.  Blogging should be serious.

4.  Don’t bother with links, photos or art.  Visually interesting posts attract readers.  

5.  Fill your posts with spelling and grammatical errors.  This shows you don’t care enough about your readers to proofread or use spellcheck.

6.  Post infrequently.  Once or twice a month is good.

7.  Post excessively.  Overwhelm readers with 50+ posts a month and they will “mark all as unread”.

Do you have some more tips?  Leave me a comment!

Read Me

imagesAre you a skimmer or a reader? 

I’m guilty.  Sometimes I don’t read an entire review or blog post (gasp!) 

If a post is very long, I’ll skim.  If it’s a review for a book I’m currently reading, I’ll skim and comment that I’m reading it now and was just looking to see if the reviewer liked it.  If it’s a new-to-me book, or one I’ve noticed people talking about, I’ll read enough to see if the book sounds interesting.  Generally if it’s a review of a book I have read, I’ll read the review completely to see if I agree with the reviewer. 

I like chatty blog posts from bloggers I regularly read.  Any post that sparks debate or conversation is a good post for me!  Discussion = good!  But if it’s too long, I might lose interest. What does this say about my attention span??  

As a blog reader, I prefer shorter posts, bullet points, short paragraphs.  And with that in mind, I’m attempting to keep my own posts short as well, so that you’ll read them. 

SO I’d like to know:

Do you read most blog posts in their entirety?  Or, like me, do you skim?

Do you as a blogger make it easy for people to skim? 

Is skimming ok with you?  

Teaser Tuesdays-May 19, 2009

tuesday-t11Miz B and Teaser Tuesdays asks you to: Grab your current read. Let the book fall open to a random page. Share with us two (2) sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12. You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

cholton929-390-beach_trip_coveMy teaser comes from a book that will be on tour with TLC Book Tours beginning in June called Beach Trip by Cathy Holton.  Beach Trip is also the June selection for our Summer Reading Series.  The teaser comes from page 43 in my advance uncorrected proof but may be different in the finished book.  This is a fun read so far!

“Everyone was always going on and on about passion, but Annie could see how passion might really screw up your life.  It might keep you from thinking clearly.  It might make you do things you’d later regret.”

This character Annie is an uptight neat-freak perfectionist.  This part of the book is when she is in college, mopping the kitchen floor, and gazing out the window at her roommate who is sitting in the sun making out with her boyfriend.  Annie, Annie, Annie- you’re 21, a senior in college, it’s a warm spring day- throw down that mop and go have some fun!

To Rate, or Not to Rate

I’m hoping you can help me out.  I’m trying to decide whether or not to implement a rating system for my book reviews.  Sometimes I think it would be useful and helpful, then other times I worry that my opinion of a book could be heavily influenced by my mood at the time I’m reading it.  Also, I’m afraid I’d give everything a 4.

So I have a few questions for my fellow book bloggers..

Do you rate your books?

If so, do you use a 1-5 scale, or a 1-10 scale, or something else?  

What are the pros/cons to whatever scale you use?

Do you have trouble deciding what rating to give a book?  Do you have MORE trouble depending on how you got the book (purchased, borrowed, recommended by a friend, sent by an author or publisher, blog tour, etc)?

Do you ever want to go back and change your rating, after you’ve had more time to think on it?

Do you find yourself frequently giving half points (or stars, or caterpillars, or whatever you give out!)?

Ok, now a question for the readers-

Do you find it helpful when a reviewer or blogger uses a rating system?  Is that important to you?

LA Times Festival of Books and Bloggers!


header09_11

Natasha, Amy, Tracy, Ti, Jill, Trish, Lisa

Natasha, Amy, Tracy, Ti, Jill, Trish, Lisa

This weekend I attended a super-fun two day event, the LA Times Festival of Books. That would have been exciting enough for a book geek like me, but what made it super-fun (as opposed to just regular fun) was getting to meet some of my blogger friends in real life.  What a treat!

The plan was to meet in front of the UCLA book store.  As I wandered up to the steps in front, I immediately recognized Jill from Fizzy Thoughts and Ti from Book Chatter from the pictures on their blogs. Hugs all around.  Then pretty soon Amy from My Friend Amy wandered over after passing by and glancing at us suspiciously two or three times, then Tracy from Shelf Life walked over with a big smile, and pretty soon we were all laughing and talking.  Jill and I went to get coffee (she was so nice and gave me a book I’ve been wanting to read- Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson- who I would see on a panel later in the day).  When we got back, we saw that Trish from Hey, Lady! (also my partner in TLC Book Tours) and Natasha from Maw Books had arrived.  I spilled my coffee while hugging Natasha (I was mortified and so glad it spilled on me rather than on her cute white jacket!). Trish was telling the story of why she was a little late, complete with colorful adjectives and funny anecdotes and facial expressions and hand gestures.  For those of you who might have been wondering- yes, Trish really is THAT cute and excitable and funny in person!   It was interesting to see how much everyone’s personalities really shine through on their blogs.

Jill and Florinda

Jill and Florinda

The first panel of the day for most of us was the Social Networking and New Media panel.  The very organized Ti had made a spreadsheet for us showing which bloggers were attending which panels.  We knew that Wendy from Musings of a Bookish Kitty and Florinda from 3R’s blog were supposed to be there, but we couldn’t find Florinda and we didn’t know what Wendy looked like.  We were in a big lecture hall and I was standing up looking around and joking that we should call out “Literary Feline!  Where are you?” when I felt a tap on my arm from the woman seated next to me.  “I’m Wendy” she said in this tiny kitten-y voice.  She’d been right beside us the whole time!  We found Florinda just a couple minutes later (she was easy to spot from her picture on her blog, and because we knew she was short height-challenged) and were able to all sit together.

tweet, tweet

tweet, tweet

That panel was a good one, with Otis Chandler (founder of Goodreads.com), Wil Wheaton (author, blogger, twitter-er, and actor from Star Trek: TNG), and Sara Wolf (dance critic-she was out of place).  Otis said he had a theory that reading was “broken” and that in starting Goodreads he had hoped to make reading more of a social experience and provide a place where people could talk to each other about books.  He said we’ve all experienced social pressure to watch tv (like when everyone is talking about who got kicked off American Idol, and if you don’t watch you feel out of it).  He wanted to try to make that true with books, and gave examples like “All the cool kids are reading Twilight”.  

Wendy and Anjin

Wendy and Anjin

The following question was posed to the panel: “What does social media (Twitter) do to readers attention spans?”  Will answered by saying he blames the dumbing down of society on TV, not technology.  Something Will said really resonated with me as a member of the blogging community- “You don’t have to be in the same room with someone anymore to share an experience.” He was referring to internet communities and conversations that go on in places like Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook.  I think our group could all agree with that!  Another question came up about placing limits on and policing social media- having rules- filtering out spam.  Will and Otis discussed that, saying with social media, users “own” it, they make the rules and define how it will be.  Marketers want to tell us what to do on social media i.e. “Here’s how you can profit if you use it my way”, which is precisely why they fail and are seen as spammers. People will use Facebook and Twitter in a way that’s fun for them and ignore the rest.  Meanwhile, the third panelist didn’t seem to have much of a grasp on what Twitter actually is, and was busy talking about the “constellations” in her dance community on Facebook, and how constellating is so great.  Constellating???  Ok….  

Lunch

Lunch

After a quick lunch together, we went our separate ways to the various panels.  Trish, Natasha, Amy and I attended Problem Child, which was a panel with Laurie Halse Anderson (Speak, Winter Girls), Nate Powell (Swallow Me Whole-graphic novel), Jacquelyn Woodfin (Hush, Locomotion, Peace Locomotion) and Suzanne Phillips (Burn).  Laurie Halse Anderson said she “feels so lucky to be able to wake up, listen to the voices in her head, and write down what they say.”  The moderator said that one thing their books had in common was that they all have a really strong, immediate narrative voice.  One comment I jotted down from this panel was that most YA-middle grade novels have a “problem child” because they need a central conflict to make the book interesting, but the characters in these books go way beyond the norm.  We’re talking about eating disorders and cutting, mental illness, kids with real issues. This was a great panel but I had to leave early in order to get to my next panel on time, because there was no way I was going to miss seeing Lisa See!

Lisa meets Lisa

Lisa meets Lisa

Several of us went to Fiction: Window on the World with Lisa See (Shanghai Girls, Snow Flower, Peony in Love), Jonathon Rabb (Rosa, Shadow and Light), Vanina Marsot (Foreign Tongue), and Muriel Barbery (The Elegance of the Hedgehog)  and her translator.  

I’m a huge Lisa See fan.  She talked about Shanghai Girls, set in both Shanghai and Los Angeles, and said it asks the question “How do we define home?  Is it where you grew up, or in the place that you make?”  An excellent question for a midwestern transplant like me.  She spoke about China City in LA from 1937 until the mid-50s, how it was built to look like a real Chinese city with a mini-Great Wall of China surrounding it, but how much of it was created from Hollywood props and sets.  

Lisa meets Vanina

Lisa meets Vanina

I’m also a new fan of Vanina Marsot, having just finished her book Foreign Tongue a week ago (review coming soon!). I was completely enthralled by it!  Vanina said she wanted to show the non-Disneyland version of Paris, a real city where real people live, not vacation-land. Her protagonist Anna, living in Paris with dual French/American citizenship, is translating a book from French to English.  It’s an examination of both cultures, how things are expressed in both languages, and how some things don’t translate well.  She shared an expression that French mothers use with their children that translates literally into “Stop your cinema”.  Those of us with little drama queens immediately knew what she meant!

Muriel Barbery brought along a translator and was utterly charming.  Jill and Tracy had both read The Elegance of  the Hedgehog and were really excited to see her.  Tracy mentioned later that she had a “girl crush” on her, and I can totally relate.  She was elegant in that effortless French way, hair pulled straight back into a sleek chignon, minimal makeup and jewelry, yet still looked stunning.  She spoke in French and while I couldn’t understand a word, her smile and laugh and sweet tone spoke volumes.  I wanted to buy her book and get it signed but they’d sold out. I did, however, get to say hello at the signing.  She’s adorable.

img_2747I gushed and babbled all over Lisa See!  She signed my beat up ARC of Shanghai Girls (coming out in May) and said that she remembered me from our book club conversation last fall.  Then I gushed and babbled some more all over Vanina Marsot.  She was surprised that I’d already read her book.  I told her the publisher had sent it to me, and that I was a blogger.  She said, “Oh, do you know Jennifer?”  I said, “From Literate Housewife?”  She nodded, and said, “Yes, isn’t she wonderful?”  I, of course, agreed with her (Hi, Jen!) and told her I’d enjoyed her interview on Jen’s blog and loved the pictures. Whatever else I said is a blur.  Did I mention I gushed and babbled?

Amy, Tracy, and I blew off our 4th panel of the day in favor of walking around in the beautiful sunshine, picking up some freebies (mostly bookmarks), and talking. Amy did some shopping and bought gifts for her mom and sister (that’s her with Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark).  

Trish and me

Trish and me

We all met back at the UCLA bookstore, where Trish was once again a teensy bit late, but with good reason, and was oh so excited to tell everybody about the panel she’d attended (she is so darn cute.  I just love her!)  

Then we headed over to Jerry’s Deli in Westwood for dinner.  This is getting really lengthy, so let’s just say a good time was had by all.  Here are a couple pictures from our evening together.  Around the table, starting on the left, we have Trish, Ti, me, Amy, Florinda, Wendy’s husband Anjin, Wendy, Natasha and Jill.  In the last picture, taken outside, we have (left to right) Jill, Natasha, Ti, Florinda, me-Lisa, Wendy, Trish, Amy.  

I went back to the Festival on Sunday for Day 2, but just attended one panel (a middle grade fiction one) with my daughter and did a little shopping.  I picked up some books for my kids and stopped at the Vroman’s booth for The Story of a Marriage by Andrew Sean Greer (he was on a panel Saturday that I didn’t see, but other bloggers loved!) and The Elegance of the Hedgehog (I was so glad they had it!)  I’ll tell you about my kids’ “adventures in book signing” in another post.

Thanks to all my wonderful new friends for making this a really special weekend for me.  It was a thrill and a pleasure to meet you all and I hope we can do it again next year!

img_27581

 

img_2760