Leaving On a Jet Plane

California Girls with their cousins in God's Country

California Girls with their cousins in God's Country

We are off for 10 days on our annual trip to God’s Country (my husband’s description of his beloved Pennsylvania) where we’ll be visiting friends and family, grilling hot dogs, drinking beer, attending our niece’s graduation party, and hanging out at a beautiful, remote lake in a cabin with spotty cell phone reception.  Yes, we’ll be unplugged!

 I’ll be taking a few books with me, of course!  I hope to finish at least 3 books, including The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein for Jennifer at Literate Housewife Review’s Dog Days of Summer, The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama that I

Will it ever be MY turn?

Will it ever be MY turn?

agreed to review, and Two Years, No Rain by Shawn Klomparens for our Summer Reading Series discussion here on the 18th.  I may also take Lottery by Patricia Wood, my book club’s pick for September, and Who by Fire by Diana Spechler, a book that has languished on my TBR pile for way too long.  

But realistically I don’t think I’ll be able to read 5 books in 10 days at the lake, unless I just ignore my mother in law, my husband’s sisters, the kids and their cousins.  However there will be a 5 hour flight and a 1 hour drive each way, and long afternoons on the beach, so I guess it’s possible!

I hope you are all enjoying your summer!

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!

Hot Town, Summer in the City

I hope you enjoy this really cool group, Pilobolus!  I especially like the elephant!

Don’t forget, today is the last day to enter the contest to win Live a Little by Kim Green from Hachette Book Group and Books on the Brain!  I’ll have a new review and giveaway beginning tomorrow.  Have a great weekend!

Wordless Wednesday

The Sunday Salon

Sunday has arrived!! Here’s hoping that you all have a relaxing day.

My week has been crazy and I haven’t been able to do much reading.  Oh, I have tried to wind down with a book at bedtime, but I find myself nodding off after 10 pages or so.  I did get a solid hour of reading in at my daughter’s gymnastics practice this week, but beyond that I haven’t had a good chunk of time to sit with a book and get lost in it.  Maybe today.

 I’m posting a couple pics from our vacation to Pennsylvania.  My kids have been bored and grumpy this week since we got back to our routine because they haven’t had a gaggle of kids around to traipse through the woods with, a thunderstorm to get caught in, or a lake to jump in.  My youngest daughter’s sad comment this week was, “There’s too much cement in California, Mom.”  She has a point.  

The books keep arriving at the door even if I haven’t had much time to read them.  This was my haul this week from UPS, FedEx, and the mailman:  

The Heartbreak Diet: A Story of Family, Fidelity, and Starting Over by Thorina Rose from Chronicle Books.  It’s a hardcover graphic novel (my first) that I requested from an ad in Shelf Awareness back in May.  I wanted to see what all the fuss was about with graphic novels.  I’ll let you know.

Netochka Nezvanova by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, a Penguin Classic that I requested months ago. This is a slim volume and apparently I have 6 weeks to read it or the Book Police will be after me.

Inglorious by Joanna Kavenna from Picador and LibraryThing’s early reviewers program.  This one came out a year ago but was just recently released in paperback.

The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer from Harper Perennial and Every Day I Write the Book Blog.  This is the July online book club selection over at EDIWTB.

Queen of the Road by Doreen Orion- two copies- one from the author and one from the publisher, Broadway Books- so I will be giving one away!  This book is everywhere right now-and since one of my favorite people loved it, I am really excited to read it!  Watch for the giveaway post later today or tomorrow.

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner from Ballantine Books and Dorothy Thompson at Pump Up Your Book Promotion.  I will be doing a virtual book tour stop for this one in August.

The Safety of Secrets by DeLaune Michel from Over the River Publications- the 2nd copy I’ve received from them, so I’ll be giving it away!  Look for the giveaway post Tuesday.  We also may have a Q & A from the author if I could just finish the book and get a few questions to her!  That is my goal for today.

And finally- an unbound galley of The Forbidden Daughter by Shobhan Bantwal from the author (coming out in August) that arrived in a ripped and bent thin white envelope.  Apparently they ran out of ARCs but even though the envelope was a mess, the galley is in good shape (one munched corner, but beyond that it’s ok).  I don’t recall requesting this, but I guess I did.  I’ve never received a book this way and it will be a challenge to read it like this, but hopefully it will be worth it!

I just noticed that the two covers I added to this post show only half of the woman’s face.  Huh.  Weird.  I thought I was being all random with the covers but they are oddly one-eyed and similar.  Maybe the other eye is on the spine.  I’ll have to check.

Well, I guess I better go read now!!  The kids are still sleeping so I might be able to string two sentences together before being interrupted.

If you’re like me and need to find more time for reading, check out these tips from Books on the Nightstand.  Have a great week!  ~Lisa

Vacation Wrap Up and Winners

I love summer.  I love traveling east every year to the same lakefront location.  I love seeing the same cousins, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, the same lifelong friends and family (my husband’s) year after year.  Really, I do.  (Just ignore all those travel brochures to Hawaii gathering dust in the magazine basket-I don’t know WHO put them there).   

Northeast Pennsylvania is beautiful.  I love the gorgeous green rolling hills and the brilliant blue sky.  I love the honeymoon phase when we first get there- when the kids are getting along and everyone is happy to see each other.  This doesn’t last very long, but it sure is nice.  I love the mist on the glassy lake in the morning, the orange daylilies, the screened in porch, the mosquitoes, the kids making a fort in the woods, ice cream at the local dairy.  I love the smell of sunscreen and bug spray and hot dogs on the grill, love the excitement the kids get over catching frogs and lightning bugs and caterpillars or spotting a deer, the thrill we all get over a big thunderstorm, the board games, the chilly nights (“good sleeping weather”), the 4th of July fireworks, the lemonade and cold beer and friendly neighbors.  I had time to read 4 books and 3 magazines while occasionally glancing up to watch my kids jump off the dock, play in the sand, catch fish in a bucket.  I love the slower pace, the low tech fun. Love it, love it all.   

It’s like stepping back in time.  The biggest story on the news during our trip was about a bear cub recovering after being hit by a truck and the latest score of the Yankees game (no, not THOSE Yankees- I’m talking about the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees!).  I’m sure there must have been other things going on in the news- in fact I remember hearing from someone at the beach that Angelina Jolie gave birth to twins and that John McCain made a stupid remark that got lots of press. Good to know that the rest of the world goes on without us while we’re on vacation.  

I picked up a new reader while I was in PA- no, not a Kindle!  A blog reader with eyeballs-my husband’s cousin (Hi, Kim!)  She’s an attorney and single mom of three gorgeous, whip-smart girls.  She mentioned at a family gathering that she’d gotten her older 2 into golfing, because each year many college scholarships for women golfers go unclaimed (after doing a tiny bit of Google research, I’ve learned that’s not exactly true-sorry, Kim!).  Anyway, my youngest overheard this conversation and also admired her cousin Maddie’s pretty pink golf clubs, so now she’s hounding me to call and find out about golf lessons.  At 9 she’s a little young to be gunning for college scholarships, I think, but pink is her color, so it’s on my to-do list for today. 

I missed my July book club meeting for The Sweet Potato Queen’s Big Ass 1st Novel (and now that I’ve written that sentence, I’m sure to get more hits from people googling “big ass”.  If that’s how you got here, sorry to disappoint you, because I don’t have what you’re looking for on this blog!!)  Anyway, everybody had fun without me- book clubber Karen made brisket on rolls and asked everyone else to bring “comfort food” which, of course, meant different things to different people-pies and sweets and many other calorie-laden goodies.  Although most thought the book was funny, the food was the highlight of the meeting. Our pick for August is Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, which I had time to read at the lake, so I’m ahead of myself! 

Coming home from vacation is the sucky part.  After having my 5’10” body folded into a teeny airline seat for 8 hours or so (including all the time just sitting around on the runway), I was all crampy and sore waking up yesterday, my first day home.  I was happy to be in my own bed, but then had to face all the unpacking and laundry, 2 weeks of mail, bills to pay, groceries to buy, email and phone calls to return (sorry if I haven’t responded to you yet; I’m working on it!), an overgrown yard, a dusty van, grumpy bored children, a dog who missed us and has been really spoiled by her dogsitter (my mom), all while exhausted and jet-lagged.  Today (day 2) has got to be better, right? 

I’ll post a few vacation pictures once I get around to unpacking the camera.  I’ve also got several reviews to write, and winners to announce!  The reviews will have to wait until everyone in my home has clean underwear, but I can announce the winners right now, so here goes— 

The winners of Janeology by Karen Harrington are: 

Fightingwindmills and Jenefur!

 The winner of A Summer Affair and Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand is:

 Patti from Displaced Beachbums

 Congrats to the winners!  I’ll email you to get your contact info.

What is your least favorite part of going on vacation?  The packing?  The unpacking?  Squabbling kids? Navigating the airport?  Leave a comment and let me know!

It’s good to be home!  

Books to Take on a Trip to the Lake

  


My daughter comes home today from Girl Scout camp, no doubt smelling of horses and sunshine and full of stories and songs, with a bag of reeking stinky clothes and shoes. I can’t wait to see her but will have to fire up the washing machine the minute she walks through the door, because we leave tomorrow to fly across country for 2 weeks at the lake with the cousins!

So I have some big decisions to make.. which books from the teetering TBR pile will I stuff into the suitcase? I’m currently reading The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti. It may just be the best book I’ve read all year, although I’m saying that prematurely since I’ve read just 150 pages. Who knows, maybe it will take some horrible unforeseen turn and I will throw it against the wall, but I doubt it. It is absolutely engrossing. I’m also going to take Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, my book club’s August selection. I want something a bit lighter for the beach, so I’m thinking of either Names My Sisters Call Me by Megan Crane or How The Other Half Hamptons by Jasmin Rosemberg for that. Between cooking hot dogs, swatting mosquitoes, and chasing down kids, that’s probably all I’ll be able to get to, but I’ll throw The White Mary by Kira Salak into the bag just in case I have more time.

My internet access will be severely limited while I’m gone, but I have several posts in the wings that will publish during my vacation. I will be back “live” after July 15th. If you send an email before then, I won’t be able to respond until I get back.

Don’t forget about my contests!  I have two running right now.  One is with Hatchette to give away two books by Elin Hilderbrand (click HERE) and one is for a copy of JANEOLOGY by Karen Harrington (click HERE).  Leave a comment by July 15th for a chance to win.

Hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July weekend!

7 New Books to Throw into your Beach Bag this Summer

School’s out and the kids want to go to the pool, the beach, the water park.  What books should you throw into your beach bag?  Here are a few suggestions:

Not a Happy Camper: A Memoir by Mindy Schneider (256 pages)

A nostalgic look back to the 1970s at the experience of sleep-away camp through the eyes of a 13 year old Jewish girl.  I went to camp in the 70’s and can’t wait to relive those summers with this book.

The Well and the Mine by Gin Phillips (251 pages)

The ripple effect of a baby thrown into a well reveals the racial and class divisions in a southern coal-mining town in Depression-era Alabama. 

The Enders Hotel by Brandon Schrand (238 pages)

Schrand’s memoir of his youth in a decrepit Idaho hotel/cafe/bar. 

The Rope Walk by Carrie Brown (336 pages)

The story of a summer friendship between two children from very different backgrounds: 10 year old motherless Alice and the neighbor’s grandson, Theo.

The Last Summer (of You & Me) by Ann Brashares (320 pages)

Traveling Pants author’s first novel for adults- a coming of age story about two sisters in love with the same man.  

The Manny by Holly Peterson (368 pages)

A Park Ave. mom hires a male nanny for her son.  Could this be the male version of The Nanny Diaries?  Judging from the reviews on amazon, people seem to either love it or hate it.

Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe by Jennie Shortridge (400 pages)

After learning her college sweetheart husband has been cheating on her, Mira takes off with no destination in mind and lands in Seattle, where she finds someone new: herself.  I loved Jennie Shortridge’s book, Eating Heaven, and can’t wait to dive into this one!

What books are going in your beach bag? 

Highway Robbery

Road trips and Sunday drives are going to be a thing of the past (maybe they already are) if prices keep going up, up, up.  Why are they so freakin’ high, and how high can they get?  Hours after I snapped this picture I drove by another station right next to the freeway that had regular at $4.55!  That would be about 25 cents a mile for me.  I’m thinking about putting a little box in the car and dropping a quarter in for each mile I drive. Better yet, I’ll put a sign up saying “Mom’s Taxi” and refuse to leave the driveway unless the kids show me their rolls of quarters.. yeah!  There’s a plan!  

Will the gas prices affect what you do this summer?  Do you plan to stay close to home?  Will you try to save money in other areas to compensate for the higher fuel prices?

We’re lucky that we have several entertainment options within a few miles from our home.  The local water park opened a couple of weeks ago, and we decided to get season passes so that we can hang out there.  They’re open until 6pm, so yesterday I took the kids after school to kick off the summer.  The park was empty and they were able to go on everything without waiting in line.  I’m still recovering from the lasagna incident, so I stayed in the shade, dry and covered up, reading my book, while the kids had a blast in the wave pool.  

Along with the water park we will also be visiting the beach and Knott’s Berry Farm, both very nearby. My oldest will go to Girl Scout Camp, and both kids will attend VBS and swimming lessons at the high school.  We’ll spend two weeks with extended family in the Scranton, PA area (we go every year-the kids can’t wait to see their cousins). But mostly we’ll be hanging around the neighborhood, playing on the slip-n-slide, riding bikes, eating Otter Pops and swimming at Grandma’s house down the street.   

To find the cheapest gas prices, check out GasBuddy.com.  Just enter  your zip code and it searches for the lowest prices in area.  

Booking Through Thursday: Springing

Springing April 24, 2008

Filed under: WordPress — –Deb @ 1:37 am 

btt button

 What I want to know, is:

Do your reading habits change in the Spring? Do you read gardening books? Even if you don’t have a garden? More light fiction than during the Winter? Less? Travel books? Light paperbacks you can stick in a knapsack?

Or do you pretty much read the same kinds of things in the Spring as you do the rest of the year?

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The change of seasons in Southern California is pretty subtle.  Winter brings some cold rainy days, but it’s not weeks of cold weather the way it is in other parts of the world.  It is a few random wet days interspersed with our normal mild and sunny “postcard” weather.  Spring is more of the same.  We have flowers blooming all year round.  I know… you’re jealous!  Talk to me during fire season in late summer/early fall, when you’re enjoying a lovely Indian Summer, picking out your pumpkins and wearing a light sweater, and we’re dealing with triple digit temps, devil winds and smoke and ash.  I’ll be jealous then!

Back to the question.  My reading habits don’t vary much with the season, except maybe in summer. Usually I’ll throw a magazine or something very light into the beach bag when I take the kids to the water park or the pool, since I know I’ll be distracted every few minutes by requests for drinks, ice cream, money, sunscreen, hot dogs, towels, etc.  Last year I was reading The Kite Runner in July at the water park and my 9 year old dumped her Icee all over it.  Luckily I’d just finished it, but I had to take it to book club that weekend all swollen and blue!  The next time we went I brought People magazine with me just in case there was another Icee mishap.

Do you vary your reading habits depending on the season?