Monday, November 29, 2010

Everything I Never Wanted to Be

"I do remember her weeks in intensive
care. . .her seizures and vomiting. . .her stays in detox and rehab. And I remember watching her when she was psychotic from meth and cowering in the corner of the dark laundry room because the helicopters were coming to get her. A ninety-pound stranger. Watching and feeling that I had lost her. The "her" she was--my beautiful, beautiful girl--now someone else, something else."

~Everything I Never Wanted to Be, Dina Kucera

I can't say that I enjoyed Everything I Never Wanted to Be: a memoir of alcoholism and addiction, faith and family, hope and humor by Dina Kucera, because I don't enjoy reading about the painful struggles of others, although the book is laced with humor (and made me want to sample the food of Albuquerque, and Hatch green chili). In fact, this book was quite difficult for me to read. As the parent of teenagers, I know that there are a lot of dangers out there, drugs and alcohol, and other things that I don't even know about. It's a scary time for teens as well as for their parents. I've had my share of sleepless nights, and I'm sure I'll need to endure more.

Everything I Never Wanted to Be, published in 2010, is a truthful memoir. The author, who lives in Phoenix, grew up in Albuquerque in an alcoholic family ('alcoholismrunsinthefamily'); both her grandparents and parents were alcoholics, and Dina is a recovered alcoholic who has also struggled with addictions to pills. The cycle of substance abuse continued with Dina's own daughters. Perhaps her worst nightmare of all began when her beautiful daughter, Carly, started using heroin at age fourteen. Not pot. Not cocaine. Heroin. The hard stuff. Her other two daughters, Jen and April, also suffered from substance abuse and related problems.

I must admit that this book held me captive from the very first page. The prelude includes statements such as "I share needles" written by Dina's youngest daughter, Carly, then age sixteen, that are extremely affecting and heart-wrenching. From a young age Carly is self-aware and reflective, and the title of the book comes from another statement written by her. In the book, Dina works as a grocery store checker and is also a stand-up comic. Her honesty and repeated efforts to help her daughters are nothing short of remarkable, a testament to her deep love for them. She doesn't give up but battles the "family inheritance" with strength and tenacity, with the help of her supportive husband, John. I admire Dina's great courage, openness, and ability to find humor in even the darkest situations, and for sharing her story with others.

"In my house we talk freely about alcohol, heroin, meth, coke, pot, OxyContin, and other drugs. We also talk about sobriety, rehab, hope, God, and faith. We make constant jokes about drugs and alcohol because it takes away the pain of the thing."
~Everything I Never Wanted to Be, Dina Kucera

Carly is also honest about her drug use and has been through detox and rehab numerous times. It is my sincere hope that Carly will realize her great potential and be able to achieve her dream to become a lawyer, or another type of professional, such as a psychologist or substance abuse counselor.

Special thanks to Trish from TLC for sending me this book. Please visit the other stops on TLC's Everything I Never Wanted to Be book tour for additional reviews. If you're interested in reading this riveting memoir, you can get a 30% discount off Dina's book at by entering the coupon code "Dina" at the checkout.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mailbox Monday

Although it's one of my favorite memes, I haven't done Mailbox Monday yet this month. I've posted in the nick of time to report the two new books that I received in the mail last week.

Jocelyn from Kelley & Hall sent me an advance copy of Gardens of Grief by Boston Teran (publication date: April 2011), a novel about the Armenian genocide, soon to be a major motion picture (possibly starring Kim Kardashian). Many of my relatives were Armenian, and they traveled to America to escape the genocide, so I'm very interested in reading this book. Who is Boston Teran? Mystery surrounds the identity of this author. Some believe he's a well-known writer using a pseudonym, while others believe the name is used by a group of writers who write under one name.

Lisa Roe, the Online Publicist, sent me Muslim Women Reformers: Inspiring Voices Against Oppression (2009) by Ida Lichter, a psychiatrist and contributor to The Huffington Post. This book features the stories of Muslim women from around the world, "as they question ideology and culture, patriarchal and religious beliefs, and demand the social and political rights women lack in many Muslim countries." I've already skimmed a few pages and think this is an important book.

Please stay tuned for my reviews of these books.

Created by Marcia from The Printed Page, Mailbox Monday is currently on tour. During the month of November, Julie from Knitting and Sundries has been hosting this fabulous meme. What new books have you gotten recently in the mail or from elsewhere?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Drowned Sorrow

"Except for the few shops that had tried futilely to keep up, the village appeared as if it had been frozen in time. A large stone fountain graced what Megan loosely termed a town square, and around it sat four wooden benches. Though a gentle rain still fell, the few people she saw moving around it did so without umbrellas, as unmindful of the rain as if they walked in bright sunshine. They seemed extremely pale and moved at a slower pace than she was accustomed to seeing, but she only shook her head and grinned at whoever was looking in her general direction."
~Drowned Sorrow, Vanessa Morgan

When author Vanessa Morgan emailed me about reviewing her work, her novella, Drowned Sorrow, a supernatural thriller, captured my interest. Vanessa is also the author of The Strangers Outside (released in September 2010), a Kindle short story that's being made into a movie, filmed in Belgium.

Published in 2008, Drowned Sorrow is the story of a reporter, Megan Blackwood, who is anguished over the death of her 18-year-old son, Josh. Saddled with deep sorrow and guilt, Megan leaves her job, her marriage dissolves, and she decides to take a trip to a tiny, remote village called Moonlight Creek with her 14-year-old daughter, Jenna, and their dog, Oscar, in an attempt to reconnect with her daughter and begin healing. Although it was recommended to them by a friend, Moonlight Creek turns out to be a strange and ominous place, which always smells like mildew. Residents seem to possess an odd connection to the dark and sinister lake, the town's centerpiece. There is something supernatural about the lake that affects everyone in the village. For Meagan and Jenna, things go from bad to worse over the course of a few days stay at Nigel Matthew's damp, shabby hotel in Moonlight Creek.

After reading only a few pages of Drowned Sorrow, I was immersed in the story. Both the setting and the characters are well-crafted. Wonderful, creepy details abound, such as walls and ceilings that leak water around the corners and edges, and a grocery store that only sells water, which add to the menacing atmosphere. I can imagine this as a movie, with the eerie, icy cold lake that seems to have a mind of its own, the pallid, expressionless villagers, and the constant, dreary rain, dampness, and puddles. As I huddled with Drowned Sorrow and a cup of tea on my reading couch, the weather outside conspired with the book and it rained as I read (an unusual event for Southern CA at this time of the year). I was shocked not only by the chilling contents but by how great I thought this book was. It's everything horror fiction should be: creepy, scary, suspenseful, and yet also touching.

I thought this was a great read! Vanessa Morgan is a very talented screenwriter and novelist. Drowned Sorrow will be made into a movie, directed by Drew Barrymore. I can see this as the next The Shining, and will rush out to see the movie, even if Vanessa reneges on her promise to use me as an extra. ;)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Anasazi Intrigue, Mayan Intrigue, and a Giveaway

Having read A Family Saga in Bear Lake Valley, a series of five novels by Linda Weaver Clarke, I felt fortunate to receive two of her new books to review. They are a departure for the author, whose previous books are historical romances (although the new books also include a healthy dose of romance). Published in 2010, both Anasazi Intrigue and Mayan Intrigue are set in present times, complete with busy schedules and cell phones, and tell the story of John and Julia Evans (John is the grandson of one of the characters in the last book of the family saga series). Author Linda Weaver Clarke draws from her own experiences as well as from extensive research in her newest books, which are mystery novels with a central theme: archaeological theft. I don't want to spoil the plots or mysteries from either book, so my reviews below are brief introductions to Linda's latest novels.
"She was a reporter and was supposed to write about the tragedy, but this was personal. Her valley and her friends' homes were being ripped apart. The destruction below wrenched at Julia's heart."
~Anasazi Intrigue, Linda Weaver Clarke
Anasazi Intrigue is the first novel in this series, which begins with a devastating flood that leads Julia, a reporter, to try to solve the case of the poisoned fish and cats. Soon after she starts to investigate, Julia and her husband, John, find themselves in danger, because Julia is "too observant", and the mystery unfolds. The disaster portrayed in the opening of the book is based on the actual Santa Clara/Virgin River flood of 2005 in southern Utah. The author weaves in many fascinating tidbits about the Anasazi Indians and their dwellings, which make the book an interesting page-turner.
"Instinctively, she knew that her life was in danger. Why, she did not know."
~Mayan Intrigue, Linda Weaver Clarke
Eager for more adventures with the Evans, I started to read Mayan Intrigue as soon as I had finished the first novel. In this book, John and Julia venture to the Yucatan Peninsula to take a relaxing vacation and nurture their marriage, which has suffered as a result of John's neglect (due to his work as a knife maker). Julia is also on assignment for the newspaper while in Mexico, and the couple is joined by their bachelor friend, Paul, a dedicated archaeologist. What starts out as a romantic trip quickly turns into a dangerous adventure among the Mayan ruins and jungles, and the vacationers are on the run from thieves--and wild animals! Excitement prevails, and this book is full of mystery and suspense.

Linda's writing is lively and down-to-earth; she has the ability to make you feel as if you're in these stories, along with John and Julia, trying to decipher the truth and escape from harm. Before reading these novels, I didn't know much about archaeological thievery, although I was introduced to artifact theft when I interviewed Linda this past April (please read the interview for more details).

When the third book in this series is published, Montezuma Intrigue, I hope to read it as well, because there are many things I like about these books, including the vivid writing, humor, and suspense, which kept me entertained. But to me what has been most outstanding about this series so far are the characters, especially Julia. She is a feminist in the best sense of the word. Julia is unafraid to go after what she wants; she is an equal partner in her marriage and has an adoring husband and three daughters, and an exciting job as a reporter (sometimes it's a bit too exciting). She's admired by others who perceive her correctly (even by some of the thieves). I think this is important because all too often, men seem to be the only ones admired, in books and in life. Julia is admired not just for her beauty but for her intelligence and resourcefulness as well. Julia's daughters, the twins, Sharlene and Faith, and April, are portrayed as strong young women, and we expect that they will also follow their dreams. They have a strong role model, Julia, and a loving father who is supportive of his wife.

Wonderful news! Linda Weaver Clarke is generously offering a copy of the first book in this new series, Anasazi Intrigue, as a giveaway (U.S./Canada only).

  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
  • For an extra chance at winning, read the first chapter of Anasazi Intrigue, then return here and leave a comment about your favorite part of the chapter, or about what first grabbed your interest while reading the excerpt. The chapter is short and should only take a few minutes to read.
  • For an extra chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower, or that you subscribe in Google Reader.
  • For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

Enter by 5 PM PST on Wednesday, December 1. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Thursday, December 2. Good luck!

Special thanks to Linda Weaver Clarke for sending me her books to review and for offering this giveaway.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Really Random Tuesday #12: The Beatles, Bookmarks, and Pita Pizzas

Welcome to another edition of Really Random Tuesday! This is a noteworthy Tuesday, because the music of The Beatles is now available on iTunes. I will celebrate the occasion by purchasing a Beatles tune or two, probably Don't Let Me Down if it's available, and another song. (Photo of John, Paul, George, and Ringo from Wikipedia.)

Congratulations to Freda from Freda's Voice, the randomly chosen winner of my international bookmarks giveaway!

Freda, I will mail these bookmarks to you very soon. Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway. If you didn't win this time, don't despair! Other giveaways are posted on the right side of my blog, and I will be hosting more of them in the near future, so please stay tuned.

I was in a "cookbook mood" when I reached for this book from the shelf and discovered a tempting new recipe. Published in 1992, Quick Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin, a gift from my sister to my vegetarian daughter, features recipes for meatless meals ready in a jiffy. Over the years, when the craving for homemade pizza struck, I tried all sorts of pizza crusts--made from scratch, from ready-made dough from the supermarket or "pizza man", from Boboli bread, and from English muffins--but I don't remember using pita bread as a crust. In the book, the author calls this "the most popular lunch" in her house, "served at least three times a week". Now I know why! I've already made them several times this past week, for lunch and dinner, and have topped the sauce and cheese with healthy veggies such as thinly sliced tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, black olives, and spinach, and I want to try broccoli (don't tell George Bush). These pizzas are very easy to prepare, and are really so simple that all you need is the idea, rather than the recipe, but the results are surprisingly gourmet. What makes this pizza even more sensational is that you use a combination of mozzarella and Muenster cheese, because the latter adds creaminess.

I used larger pita bread and cut them in half after they were baked, but you could use smaller ones. You could get experimental and try whole wheat pita bread, or a red Thai curry sauce instead of tomato sauce for a more exotic pizza. Or you could even add shrimp or grilled chicken and change this into a non-vegetarian meal. The options are limitless.

Pita pizzas are ready to bake for 8 to 10 minutes in a 400º oven.

Really Random Tuesday is a way to post odds and ends--announcements, musings, quotes, photos--any blogging and book-related things you can think of. If you're inspired by this idea, feel free to copy the button and use it on your own blog. Leave a link in the comments if you’re participating and I'll add it to this post. Please be sure to visit Naida's blog, the bookworm, for her terrific Really Random Tuesday post.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Book Blogger Hop: A Challenge Taken to Heart

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly event for bloggers and readers, a chance to socialize in a virtual way, to connect with other book lovers, make new friends and followers, and share an appreciation of books. Hosted by the brilliant Jennifer from Crazy-for-Books, this Hop lasts from November 12 until November 15, so there's still ample time to sign-up and enjoy the blogosphere's best BOOK PARTY! If you'd like me to visit your blog, please leave a comment.

Jennifer's Book Blogger Hop gets better each and every week! In addition to presenting a question-of-the-week, often submitted by other book bloggers, she posed a unique challenge last week. Admittedly, I was reluctant at first to take on her seemingly hefty challenge. To sum it up, Jennifer asked that we find a new blog and really get to know it throughout the week, to leave at least five comments on that blog, and then to post about the experience during the next Hop. Initially, I was not going to do this challenge, because I already have plenty to do, blogging-wise and other-wise. But I thought about it, and I realized that this was indeed the whole point of the Book Blogger Hop, to discover a new blog or two that you truly want to visit frequently. At that point, I decided to follow through wholeheartedly on Jennifer's challenge.

After some perusing, I decided to focus on Leslie's blog, Under My Apple Tree, which features mostly books, with a bit of nature, birds, flowers, food and photography, interconnected in an artistic fashion. These are some of my favorite things, so I thought this blog would be a good fit for me. I was undoubtedly also influenced by a book I recently finished reading, Heart With Joy. While I don't routinely read many young adult books, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, reviewed it, and even interviewed the gracious author, Steve Cushman. Anyway, in this book there's a wonderful character, "Old Lady Peters", who is an avid bird-watcher and teaches the main character in the story, Julian Hale, to also watch and care for our feathered friends.

To make things easy for myself, and to insure that I would, indeed, leave frequent comments, I added Under My Apple Tree to my blogroll (which allows me to know at a glance when a blog has published a new post). Throughout the past week, I visited this blog numerous times and left many comments. (Leslie may have wondered who I was and why I was suddenly leaving so many comments!) I will continue to follow this blog in an earnest fashion. Because really, as I've mentioned already, the point of blog hopping is precisely to discover sites that interest you in more than a superficial way.

Thank you, Jennifer, for giving me the push I needed, and for helping me to discover a very lovely book blog!

Each week, Jennifer presents a question for participating book bloggers to answer. This week's question is from Christina from The Paperback Princesses: If you find a book that looks interesting but is part of a series, do you always start with the first title?

Another interesting question! As a general rule, I do try to start with the first book in a series. For example, I've read all of the books in The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith in order, although I have yet to read the last book in this series (it sits patiently in my TBR stack). However, there are definitely exceptions to the "rule". I read--and enjoyed--the well-crafted thriller, The Rembrandt Affair, which is a part of the Gabriel Allon series by Daniel Silva, without having read any of the preceding books. I should add that this book "stood alone" quite well.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Conversation with Steve Cushman

Having recently read and reviewed a new, memorable, coming-of-age novel, Heart With Joy, I am thrilled to now present an interview with the author, Steve Cushman.

1) Welcome, Steve! Please tell us a bit about your background, and the main inspiration for your latest book, Heart With Joy.

SC: I was born in Massachusetts but grew up in Florida and moved to Greensboro, North Carolina in 2000 to attend the MFA writing program at UNC-Greensboro and have lived here ever since. I've been an X-ray tech for about 17 years and writing for about 15 years.

My first novel, Portisville, was published in 2004. In 2008, I published a short story collection, Fracture City. Heart With Joy is my second published novel. The main inspiration for this novel was basically me thinking about what happens when a mother leaves her husband and son. I knew this father and son did not get along very well and I knew that I had to somehow bring them together. It took me about six years to figure out to do this. All my fiction starts with characters in a situation and then I do my best to figure things out from there.

2) Heart With Joy is a character-driven novel. Julian, his parents, and other characters come to life in your book.  Are your characters based on people you know or knew, from your imagination, or both?

SC: I usually don't base my characters on people I know, but in this case the Mrs. Peters' character is certainly modeled after my neighbor, Barbara Hughes. Barbara is not in her nineties and has never run over someone's leg, but she is a big bird watcher and the two of us have spent a good amount of time talking about birds. While none of the characters are based on me per se, there are instances where my thoughts come out through the story. For example, many of the things Julian says or thinks about cooking are things that I have thought.

3) As a multi-genre writer, which of your three works did you find the most fulfilling to write, Portisville, a literary thriller, Fracture City, a collection of short fiction, or Heart With Joy, a novel for young adults?

SC: Each book is special to me for various reasons--Portisville because it was the first one. To hold your own book in your hand or walk in to a bookstore and see it on a shelf is a pretty big deal for a writer. Fracture City basically represents the span of my writing life. Some stories were written twelve years ago and others were written two weeks before the book was accepted for publication, so it was very cool to have this collection of my writing. Heart With Joy is special to me because it is a novel that I always believed in and because it allowed me to write about so many things that were important to me: cooking, bird watching, and writing.

4) I am intrigued by the writing spaces of authors (and perhaps a bit nosy!).  Would you please share a photo and a few words about your writing or computer desk?

SC: My writing desk is nothing fancy, just a large table with my computer and printer. You can see that the monitor doesn't match and that's because I've gone through a couple monitors during the seven years I've had the computer. The desk is located upstairs in our extra bedroom. This is fine except for when we have company and I can't get to my desk. I'm thinking about getting a laptop for two reasons--one is that I simply need a new computer as this one is terribly slow and the other is the portability a laptop would offer. I write on the computer as opposed to pen and paper and if I have a laptop I can set it up anywhere and write away. We'll see. The room and desk are special to me in that I've spent so many hours there over the years and I've gotten some good news as well as not so good news sitting there.

Steve's writing space looks comfortable and very organized.
 You can catch a glimpse of Lucky, his cat, in the photo.
(Steve said that all of his pets make it into his writing.)

5) How did you pay your "writing dues"?  What is the best writing advice you have ever received? What additional advice would you share with aspiring authors?

SC: I think to pay your dues you have to sit your butt in your chair and write. Also, you have to read, a bunch. I did attend two creative writing graduate schools: Hollins University and UNC-Greensboro. While I think writing programs do a great job of giving you a foundation on what makes good writing the real test is afterward when you are out there on your own and you don't have a piece of writing due and you have to do it because you want or need to.

As for advice given, I met Larry Brown (a favorite writer of mine who died in 2004) back in 2002 and I told him I was a huge fan of his and that I too was a writer and he said to me "just keep working and good things will come." Simple advice but true and helpful and that is the same advice I would give to aspiring writers: just work and read and try to figure out why you like certain books and keep writing and eventually good things will come. I've known many people who were much better writers than me who stopped writing for a variety of reasons. I believe if you want to do something, then you do it no matter what.

6) Which books or authors did you enjoy most growing up?

SC: I didn't read much growing up, no more than what was assigned in school. But when I was in my late teens and early twenties I was working at a record store in Orlando, Florida. The manager of the store, Jim Boylston, would come in every day with stacks of books. He was in his thirties and owned a record store, so I thought he was pretty darn cool. I asked what he was reading and he told me about Larry Brown and Cormac McCarthy and Raymond Carver, so I started reading them. It was through reading these writers that I got interested in writing. I thought hey if they can do it why can't I. So of course I wrote a ton of bad stuff for a few years but by then it was too late. I was hooked on writing and eventually I did get better.

As for now, I read all sorts of stuff but do lean toward literary fiction. In the last month I have read two books that I thought were simply amazing: Sherman Alexie's The Half-True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (this is actually considered young adult) and Cutting for Stone by Abraham Vergehese. Both novels blew me away for different reasons. Next, I plan on reading John Hart's The Last Child and Labor Day by Joyce Maynard.

(Steve, like good actors, good writers make the craft look effortless and natural.   It's only when you sit down and attempt to write that the reality hits you--it's a lot more difficult than it seems!)

7) How does living in North Carolina influence your work as a writer?

SC: I don't know that it does. I've been here ten years. Heart With Joy is set in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Hale's house and yard and neighborhood described in the book are essentially my home and neighborhood and the park at the end of my street. Most of my stories have been located in Florida because that is where I spent about 30 years of my life. So I don't know. I will say that Greensboro is a nice town--not too big, not too small.

Steve and his son enjoy a fall festival in North Carolina.

8) What writing project(s) are you currently working on?

CS: I'm working on some short stories and poems as I've been pretty busy promoting Heart With Joy. After the first of the year, I plan on working on a another YA novel that I wrote the first draft of back over the summer.   I'm looking forward to that.

9) Last but not least, please tell us something surprising or offbeat about your work or yourself.

CS: I played bass in a band back in the late eighties that opened for the Flaming Lips in Orlando, Florida. And yes, I had a mullet and wore it proudly.

Thanks for having me.

Steve, thanks very much for doing this interview. I wish you much continued success.

Your comments are welcomed.  Have I forgotten to ask Steve anything?  If you have a question for the author, please feel free to leave it in the comments.  Thanks for reading.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Be Love Now

India is the perfect setting for a spiritual journey or an inner exploration, a glorious land of yogis, ashrams, flavorful foods, festivals, and temples. In 1967, when Ram Dass first ventured to India, he was still Dr. Richard Alpert, a distinguished Harvard psychologist and psychedelic pioneer with Dr. Timothy Leary. While in India, he met his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, known as Maharaj-ji, who gave Ram Dass his new name, which means “servant of God.”

To a large extent, this book is about gurus, or teachers, and Ram Dass himself is a spiritual guru to many of the Boomer generation. Published in 2010, his new book, Be Love Now: The Path of the Heart, written with Rameshwar Das, is the third in a trilogy that includes Be Here Now (1971) and Still Here (2000). Be Love Now is dedicated to Ram Dass' guru, Maharaj-ji. Interestingly, Ram Dass says that he abhorred the idea of gurus initially. He was nearly panic-stricken during his first meeting with his guru-to-be, worried about someone stealing the car he had driven through the mountains of India, a Land Rover, and felt even more uncomfortable when Maharaj-ji asked him if he could have the car. Soon, though, Ram Dass had a keen awakening. He felt more love and understanding from Maharaj-ji than he had ever felt before from anyone. What was even more astonishing was that he also experienced a love for others beyond anything that he had ever before experienced. This presence of love affected him in a profound way, and was the start of his belief in gurus, in Maharaj-ji, and in a new kind of love as a state of being that radiates outward from within.

Pardon the vernacular but this is a mind-blowing book. I read--and reread several parts of--this book, but I still feel as if I have just scratched the surface, and won't claim to have completely understood all of it. Although this book is about 300 pages, it is pithy, full of profundity and insight. There is so much in Be Love Now to comprehend and to contemplate. I'd selected several wonderful paragraphs to quote, but I'm not supposed to quote from my copy of the book, which is an uncorrected proof. However, I did find this relevant quote, on Goodreads:
"The heart surrenders everything to the moment. The mind judges and holds back."
~Ram Dass
The author's writing is personal, engaging, and sometimes humorous, but his quest and his ideas are universal. The best way to read this book is to wrap yourself in a plaid blanket (or Snuggie), brew some chai tea, and open up your heart-mind to the limitless possibilities of love.

Special thanks to Trish from TLC for sending me this book. For more reviews, please visit TLC's book tour for Be Love Now.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hoppy Friday

Hoppy Friday! It's time for another Book Blogger Hop, November 5 - November 8, hosted by the brilliant Jennifer from Crazy-for-Books. This weekly BOOK PARTY is an opportunity for book bloggers to socialize, to connect with other book lovers, support each other, discover new book blogs, and have some fun! If you'd like me to visit your blog, please leave a comment.

This week's question is from Vicki from The Wolf's Den: What are your feelings on losing followers? Have you ever stopped following a blog?

Excellent question! I do lose followers from time to time, and I feel a bit sad when this happens, but I try not to dwell on it. People are busy and pressed for time, and I realize that my blog is not for everyone. I appreciate the followers and readers that I do have. As for me, it's very rare that I "unfollow" a blog; I think I may have a couple of times in the past, before I realized that someone else's feelings could be hurt. But usually, if I follow your blog you are stuck with me for life. :) I follow many blogs and only wish that I had more time to visit and leave comments on each and every one of them.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Really Random Tuesday #11: Bookmarks, A Giveaway, ADHD and OCB

Welcome to another edition of Really Random Tuesday! This is a special Tuesday because it is an election day. If you live in the United States, please vote if you haven't already done so. Ninety years ago women acquired the right to vote, and it is still important to make our voices heard!

Shortly before the fires ravaged Southern California in October of 2007, I became a used book seller on Amazon. Very quickly, to my surprise, I made a few sales, and was ecstatic (the little things in life bring me such happiness at times!). I am very conscientious about mailing books out promptly, and when we evacuated our home due to the approaching fires, I brought some books to mail as I did not want the orders delayed. Luckily, we did not lose our home in the fires, which destroyed at least 1500 homes, and tragically took some lives. About a month after I mailed out my first book, one of my earliest customers, a student living abroad in Japan, sent me a real gold filigree bookmark. I enjoyed using it, and treasured this lovely trinket. Unfortunately, though, I left the delicate bookmark in a book, and I haven't been able to locate it. Although it wasn't a large or expensive gift, I was touched by the kindness of this gesture, and I'd really like to find this missing bookmark. I'm sure it is hidden in one of my books, between the pages, somewhere.

In the meantime, I've been using other bookmarks. Among those I'm currently using are a gold angel bookmark (peering out of Richard Lederer's Literary Trivia book), a gift from a friend, and a rug bookmark that I purchased from Barnes & Noble.

Do you also use bookmarks? I am having a mini giveaway for magnetic bookmarks from Barnes & Noble, called Letters From Paris and Classic Café, pictured below. This giveaway is open worldwide.

  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
  • For an extra chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower, or that you subscribe in Google Reader.
  • For an additional chance, post about this giveaway on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

Enter by 5PM PST on Monday, November 15. One winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Tuesday, November 16. Good luck!


This type of Google ad keeps popping up on my blog:

ADHD Treatment for Adults - Get information about a treatment
option for adults with ADHD.

I don't dare click on it, and I de-activated the links here (lest I get in trouble from Adsense), but it seems to be trying to tell me something. Apparently I have a short attention span, because I click around a lot (Google ads are related to content but now they seem to be related to behavior as well). But clicking is part of blogging. You may visit other blogs, look things up, check this or that, do some investigating; in short, you have to click away from your site (and hopefully not mistakenly click on your ads, if you have any!). If you're a blogger I think you know what I mean. Blogging involves much more than simply writing posts. You can spend a great deal of time on your blog, so much so that it seems like you have another affliction, OCB (Obsessive Compulsive Blogging). Truth be told, publishing a blog requires a great deal of work, maintenance, and commitment. It looks a lot easier than it is, but it's also a joy. As the saying goes, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it, and when you have a work in progress such as a blog, which is a dynamic entity, forever changing, growing, and evolving, this is certainly the case. Sometimes, I just want to be able to give my OCB free rein and spend the whole day blogging, in spite of all the other stuff I need to do. :)


Really Random Tuesday is a way to post odds and ends--announcements, musings, quotes, photos--any blogging and book-related things you can think of. If you're inspired by this idea, feel free to copy the button and use it on your own blog. Leave a link in the comments if you’re participating and I'll add it to this post. Please be sure to visit the fun RRT post on Naida's blog, the bookworm.

Some of the books featured here were given to me free of charge by authors, publishers, and agents. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


Blog header by Held Design

Powered By Blogger