2009 ARC Reading Challenge

December 19, 2008 at 10:20 am | Posted in Books, My Life with Books, Reading | 10 Comments
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So Many Precious Books, So Little Time is sponsoring a reading challenge specifically for ARCs.  This is right up my ally since I’ve been trying to make my pile more manageable over the past couple of months.


Here are the rules:

1. To sign up, leave a comment (here) and a direct link to your blog post about this challenge that includes your list from rule #2.

2.  List all of the ARC’s that you have to read right now.  Then throughout the year, you must continue updating that list as you receive more ARC’s.  (This is important). You should also strike out the ones that you finish.

3 a.  All of us who have or will have more than 12 ARC’s must read and review 12.
3 b.  All of us who have or will have less than 12 ARC’s must read all of the ARC’s we have.  Note, that if you have 11 ARC’s and then receive a 12th one you will be bumped up to category a.

4.  You don’t have to make a list of which ARC’s you plan to read, but you can if you want.

5. Crossovers with other challenges are allowed and Audio-books are allowed as long as they are ARC’s.

6. Read the books and review them on your blog. If you don’t have a blog, you can post your review on sites like Powells, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. Leave a comment on this post with a link to each of your reviews.

7. Please subscribe to my blog, as I will be posting updates to the challenge periodically.

8. Enjoy!

Note of clarification:  The term ARC is used loosely. Anything sent from a publisher or author is an ARC for this challenge because they are sent to us with the expectation that we will review them.

Here are my ARCs:

a. Tomato Girl
b. The Triumph of Deborah
c. Kept
d. Revolutionary Road
e. The Second Elizabeth
f. Broad Street
g. Etta
h. The Sound of Butterflies
i. The Book Borrower
j. Annette Vallon
k. Bedlam South
l. The Sinners Guide to Confession
m. Death and the Devil
n. Soul Cather
0. The Grass Singing
p. The Firemaster’s Mistress
q. A Silent Ocean Away
r. With Violets
s. The Jewel Trader of Pegu
t. Mermaids in the Basement

That’s 20 books, so I’m definitely in the read 12 books category.  My plan is to read them in this order through the end of January.  After that, I’m going to mix them in with other books from my library.  If you have ARCs, I’d love it if you would join us!

We’re All Sick and/or Tired

December 15, 2008 at 4:23 pm | Posted in Books, Family, LIfe, My Life with Books, Reading | 12 Comments
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Hello everyone.  I haven’t been very prolific in my blogging or my commenting this month because ever since Thanksgiving one or more of us have been sick.  Danny has been sick since Thanksgiving.  Allison has had a cold/congestion last week that kept Danny and I up a couple of hours a night for a few nights until we discovered that nasal spray helped her.  Then, I was off on Friday with Emma.  She had a temperature of 104, keeping us up a good part of the night Friday/Saturday.  Needless to say, I’m a bit exhausted and haven’t had much energy.  What time I do have I need to put into finishing my Christmas cards.  I make them by hand and I’m really under the gun to get them out by Wednesday.  Normally I have them out the first week of December…

I am currently reading The Conqueror by Georgette Heyer.  I’m enjoying it, but it’s not as compelling as The Reluctant Widow (although, it’s becoming more compelling as of what I read during my lunch break).  I was also able to finish The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones (I absolutely loved) and My Husband’s Sweethearts (enjoyable).  I’m hoping to have those reviews between now and Wednesday if I can.

I am feeling a whole lot better about my near fatal ARC pile up now that I’ve finished over half of those that I promised.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now and it feels good.  I’ve been peaking at what is ahead and I’m really excited.  The Triumph of Deborah is up next, followed by Tomato Girl.  Both of those novels read very well over the first few pages.

I recently found out about a fun Book Club application for Facebook.  I don’t know if any of you have Facebook accounts or not, but you might be interested in it, too.  I’ve been using it some over the weekend and enjoy it.  It allows users to create their own book clubs and I like how that is set up.  I think this might work a whole lot better than what we used for Immortal.  Check it out and let me know what you think.  I’m planning on starting a Historical Fiction book club.  I’ll post an update.  If anyone would like to add me as a friend on Facebook, my email address for that is speedhaven (at) gmail (dot) com.

As much as I love the holidays, I’m looking forward to the New Year and getting back into my blog and yours!

#108 ~ Shrink Rap

October 13, 2008 at 4:11 pm | Posted in Books, LIfe, My Life with Books, Reading | 5 Comments
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Shrink Rap: An Irreverent Take on Child Psychiatry by Robin A. Altman, MD

Shrink Rap is a book that tackles parenting and childhood issues with humor and compassion.  It’s written by Robin A. Altman, a wife and mother who uses her own person experiences to illustrate topics from those more common like childcare, school, travel, and bullies, to those more severe like anxiety, eating disorders, psychosis, and drugs and alcohol.  The fact that Robin is also an amateur comic came in handy to her while she wrote this book.  While her take is irreverent, she is genuine and there is a warmth to her voice and to her writing that I really appreciated.

There are sometimes when I tear myself down as a parent and there are others times when I lift myself up more than I should.  This book encouraged me in areas I felt lacking and humbled me in areas where I might have otherwise boasted.  I think it’s always good to get a reality check, especially if it is delivered with a delightful spoonful of laughter.  I highly recommend this book for any parent.  When there are times where you just have to laugh or you’ll cry, this is the book to pick up.


To buy this book, click here.

Behind… My September Wrap-Up

October 1, 2008 at 11:30 am | Posted in Books, Historical Fiction, LIfe, My Life with Books, Philippa Gregory, Reading | 12 Comments
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My grandfather worked in tool and die.  When he retired, he had his machines in his shed.  One of the things he loved to make the most were cribbage and euchre boards.  He gave this lovely euchre board to me quite some time ago.  Although I’m not sure how to take that on a personal level ;), it really does represent the state of my blog as the month of September has drawn to a close and October is finally underway.  Grandpa will be 91 on the 15th, so happy early birthday from your favorite granddaughter in Virginia!

September really was quite a month.  I participated in two wonderful book tours, I read 11 books (!!!!), the Literate Housewives Book Club officially started (thanks to everyone who has signed up on the forum!), we all celebrated Book Blogger Appreciation Week, and I took a road trip to see one of my favorite authors, Philippa Gregory.  While this will be a month to remember, it has left me behind on my reviews and my comments.  Hopefully October will be a good catch up month.  With my birthday, the girls’ birthdays (Ally – 22nd, Emma – 23rd), our 11th anniversary, a visit from my parents and Uncle Ryan, and a business trip to Boston, it’s sure to be eventful if nothing else.

I read 11 books this month, but I only wrote 7 reviews (including The Seamstress that I owed from August).  That leaves me 5 reviews in the hole.  I’m hoping to have those all written and published by Monday.  Here’s how my reading broke down by category:

General Fiction

House and Home by Kathleen McCleary
Will I Ever Know by Charles Henry
First Daughter by Eric Van Lustbader
The Torn Skirt by Rebecca Godfrey – review forthcoming

Historical Fiction

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner
Immortal by Traci Slatton – review forthcoming

Young Adult Fiction

Sisters of Misery by Megan Kelly Hall – review forthcoming

Short Fiction

Months and Seasons by Christopher Meeks


One Can Make a Difference edited by Ingrid E. Newkirk
Good Person Guidebook by Richard Bayer, PhD – review forthcoming
Shrink Rap by Robin A. Altman – review forthcoming

Best Read of the Month:

Honorable Mentions:

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I hope that you all had a happy and prosperous September and will be enjoying the changing of this colors in October.

The Sunday Salon ~ My Trip to the National Book Festival!

September 28, 2008 at 8:11 pm | Posted in Books, Historical Fiction, LIfe, My Life with Books, Philippa Gregory, Reading | 29 Comments
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Yesterday, despite the muggy, slightly drizzly day, I had the most wonderful time at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.  The night before I thanked Target that my latest purse was huge.  It hard cover versions of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Neverwhere, to hard cover copies of The Other Queen, and paperback versions of The Other Boleyn Girl, The Satanic Verses, and The Color of Water.  I should have weighed it, because it was heavy.  I didn’t really care, though.  I was excited to be gathering signatures for them all.

We left our house just after 6am and drove to Vienna, VA, where we caught the Metro to The Smithsonian and walked out on the Mall.  It was so wonderful to be in the capitol.  It had been 12 years since I last was there.

“There’s a familiar sight.”  Danny said as we were walking toward the event.

“What?  The tents?”  I replied.

Danny pointed straight ahead.  “No, the Capitol.”

“Oh…”  Unlike in the past, I wasn’t paying any attention to the monuments and buildings.  I was looking for the Book Festival tents.

When we got there, we were a little after Neil Gaiman‘s talk began in the Children and Teens’ tent.  The crowd was so huge that we could barely hear what he was saying.  While I was trying to figure out what to do, Danny was trying to point out to me that Laura and Jenna Bush were about 50 yards from us signing books, but I wasn’t paying attention to him.  I was single-minded.  I now regret not taking peak at them when I had been so close.  Next time I’ll have to remind myself to try to absorb it all in.  Anyway, since Salman Rushdie and Philippa Gregory were speaking at the other end of the event, we decided to head in that direction in hopes of getting a good spot.  When I saw the Fiction and Mystery tent, it was starting to sink in to me that I was finally there.

Marisa de los Santos was speaking when we arrived and she was delightful.  She stood at the podium and was glowing.  I have not read Love Walked In or Belong to Me, but I certainly wish that I had now. She discussed her writing methods, how her characters develop, and her relationship as an author with poetry and novels.  Listening to her seemed like listening to a long lost friend.

After de los Santos, Salman Rushdie was scheduled to speak.  I was hoping to find a seat between authors, but no such luck.  Very few people who were seated moved.  I was able to move up to stand behind the last row of chairs.  As soon as Salman entered the tent, you could feel the air charge with electricity.  We were packed in the tent like sardines and, looking behind me, there were several rows of people lined up outside of the tent.  It took a few moments to get started because someone who kept shouting “Sit Down!” She finally  figuring out either that she was in the back of the standing room only section or went away.  There was a sign language interpreter for each of the authors, so everything was translated.  When people starting shhing this woman, it was hilarious.

Unlike de los Santos, Salman was interviewed.  Marie Arana, the editor in chief of the Washington Post’s  Book Review led the discussion.  We found out that Friday had been the 20th anniversary of the publication of The Satanic Verses and everyone cheered.  He discussed his time under the fatwa set down by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and how over time he became able to be in public without fear of his life.  The discussion then turned to The Enchantress of Florentine, which couldn’t sound more symbolic and beautiful.  TBR edition number three of the day.  The discussion wrapped up with very long question from the audience and then Salman was thanked with a huge round of applause.  He was intelligent and witty.  It was a great experience getting to listen to him.

There was a change in the audience between Rushdie and Philippa Gregory – enough so that I got a seat in the second to last row.  It was like sitting in a book club because there was instant discussion all around about Philippa and her work. Even in the muggy atmosphere, I got goosebumps when Philippa walked on stage.

She gave a wonderful speech.  She discussed writing The Other Queen and looking at history knowing that it was written by men who held prejudices about who and what a woman was.  She gave a little incite into her life as a writer.  While she joked about her husband living with someone she thinks is the greatest living author of British historical fiction, her husband’s take on her profession keeps her humble.  For him, it’s just something to keep her occupied during the British football season.  She read a couple of sections from The Other Queen and it was a treat to hear her read.  She answered several questions about The Other Boleyn Girl, what it really meant to be the historical consultant for her recent motion picture, and The Other Queen.  One of my favorite questions was about how royal women lived with the weight of producing an heir on their heads.  Did they ever resort to swapping a newborn princess for a commoner’s son?  With the exception of the rumors about Mary of Modena, Queen Consort of James II, it wasn’t believed that this happened.  Then she noted that even today that there is a modern prince who may have cause to question his paternity.  The lively way in which she answered that question was delightful.

As soon as Philippa’s talk was over, Danny and I headed over to the book signing pavilions.  I had mapped out our book signing schedule for the afternoon.  First Neil Gaiman, then Philippa Gregory, then Salman Rushdie, and finally James McBride.  My plans and the reality of the situation were vastly different.  There was the line leading up to Neil Gaiman and then SEVEN feeder lines!  There was already a huge line for Salman Rushdie and it was two hours before he was scheduled to get there.  Long story short, I decided that I was really there for Philippa Gregory first and Neil Gaiman second.  In order to get both autographs, we decided to have Danny wait in Gaiman’s line while I waited in Philippa’s.  I might not get a picture with her, but I was on a mission for Jena, Alyce and Jill.  In the end, it didn’t even work out to get Neil Gaiman’s autograph (I am SO sorry, Jena!).  The lines were just too long.  If you want more than one author’s signature, you almost have to make a choice between listening to the talk and waiting in line.

I waited in Philippa’s line for about an hour and 45 minutes, but it was a pleasure.  I met Karrie, a lobbyist for Second Harvest Food Bank/Feeding America, which is a wonderful non-profit organization that is located across the country.  If you are looking for a charity that helps people in your area, Feeding America is a wonderful organization.  Karrie and I had a wonderful time getting to know each other.  She wanted both Philippa’s autograph and Cokie Roberts’.  She picked Philippa’s because it’s more likely that she can attend another book signing for Cokie Roberts than getting to meet Philippa again.  Karrie is a wonderful person and getting to know her made the time fly.  There was some concern that we wouldn’t even get to Philippa, but we got through within the first half hour.  Since Danny didn’t make it through Neil’s line, he waited with us so that I could get Alyce’s book autographed.  With the one book per person limit, that was it (sorry, Jill!).

I wanted to ask her what her opinion was of the rape scene in movie but, as I recall, I pretty much gushed about how much I’ve enjoyed her novels and how they’ve shaped my reading habits.  She thanked me and agreed to take a picture with me:

She is holding my copy of the book and I am in heaven!  What is most funny about this picture is that I made sure to get my hair colored and cut on Thursday so that it would look nice in the picture.  Since it was so muggy, I’m dripping in sweat.  Oh well…  what’s that they say about pride coming before the fall? 🙂  Despite my hair, I will treasure this picture for the rest of my life.  Thank you, Philippa for being so gracious!

After Danny got Alyce’s book signed, we waited for Karrie to come back down the line.  Are we happy campers or what?

The National Book Festival was an incredible experience that I will never forget.  Danny and I got to spend the day together in a huge crowd of book lovers.  It was extremely organized for such a huge event.  The volunteers kept those of us waiting in line for book signings aware of what was going on, had the books ready for the authors so that the lines ran smoothly.  They also regularly walked up and down the lines with the bottled water donated by Target.  Assuming this continues on into the next administration, I will be making plans to attend again next year and in the years to come.  There is plenty of activities for children and it would be a great way to help foster the love of reading in my daughter’s lives.

#100 ~ House and Home & My 100th Review Contest

September 8, 2008 at 12:00 am | Posted in Books, Family, LIfe, My Life with Books, Reading, Secrets and Lies | 50 Comments
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Today I have the great pleasure of hosting Kathleen McCleary on her House and Home book tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours.  I very much appreciate the invitation to participate in this tour as well as the opportunity to read Kathleen’s novel.  Please click on Kathleen’s name below to visit her website.  Click on the TLC Book Tours graphic for more information on this wonderful new book tour program.

House and Home by Kathleen McCleary

By outside appearances, Ellen Flanagan had it all: a loving husband, two beautiful daughters, a house she decorated and maintained with love and dedication, and Coffe@Home, a business that merged her passion for antiques with her interest in coffee and fine tea.  All was not what it seemed.  Sam, her adventurous and creative husband, had a passion for inventing.  When he created a baby beeper he thought would make it big, the couple put a second mortgage on their home.  When the baby beeper didn’t pay off, that second mortgage cost them the home Ellen so dearly loved and her 18 year marriage.  As time got near to vacate the house they sold, Ellen found she couldn’t part with it.  She decided that she’s rather see it burn than to allow another family to call it home.

The opening paragraph to this novel, after explaining Ellen’s attachment to the home, ends by saying that she would burn it down.  I was instantly curious, especially since this seemed pretty hard core for a novel with such a beautiful and inviting cover.  That paragraph brought to mind the song “Sunny Came Home” by Shawn Colvin.  I was eager to find out what it was about Ellen or the house that drove her to even think about arson.  When at first I couldn’t find any logical explanation for her planning something so destructive, it was frustrating.  Ellen wasn’t mentally ill, she and Sam were on amicable terms despite the fact that they were divorcing, her business was thriving, and she had the most thoughtful and supportive best friend in the world.  Why?  Then it occurred to me.  As much as she loved that house, her fixation was a protective cover. She believes that burning down her house will keep others out.  Truthfully, if not subconsciously, what she’s doing is making all that she has lost and all that she is losing tangible and visible, especially to Sam.

This is really a novel about relationships, both the good and the bad.  Sometimes there is a cost to starting them.  Sometimes there is a cost to losing them.  There are times when the cost may be too high; but in the end, you can’t live your life fully without them.  Be they with your best friend, your lover, your family, business associates, or even mere acquaintances, your interactions with other people teach you how to play, work, love, hurt, forgive, learn, laugh, cry, hold on, and to let go.  Ellen spent the first 44 years fighting to control her life. House and Home is the story of how she learns that what makes life worth living requires you to constantly take leaps of faith.

Kathleen McCleary is a clear and concise writer and she brought some wonderful characters to life.  You can feel Ellen’s pain and the anxiety brought about by her need to be in control from the start, even if you don’t completely understand it at first.  You can see how it blinds her to what she has.  House and Home is a reminder that when life feels like one crisis after another, the only way not to get lost in it all is to focus on your friends and loved ones.  It is a celebration of friendships, relationships, and family.  If you’re like me, you’ll find this novel every bit as heartwarming as the cover suggests.

Literate Housewife’s 100th Book Review Contest

I am so excited about today because it marks the day I am posting my 100th book review online.  My blog started on Blogspot and it was called “52 Books or Bust.”  I started it in January, 2007 to give me a way to be accountable to my personal goal of reading 52 books that year and to also provide me with a way to remember what I read.  It was from those meager beginnings that The Literate Housewife Review started.  I had no idea that 21months later I would be celebrating today.

In order to mark this day, I wanted to hold a contest to thank you, my readers.  Without your comments and support I can’t say that I would still be doing this today.  In honor of reaching the 100 book mark, I’m going to give one of my lucky readers a copy of House and Home and ten other books I’ve read to date.  Here is a picture of the book and the links to those reviews:

The Last Wife of Henry VIII by Carolly Erickson ~ #24
Portrait on an Unknown Woman by Vanora Bennett ~ #37
Gilding Lily by Tatiana Boncompagni ~ #66
The Lady Elizabeth By Alison Weir ~ #70
Songs for the Missing by Stewart O’Nan ~ #78
Mrs. Lieutenant by Phyllis Zimbler Miller ~ #81
Regina’s Closet by Diana M. Raab ~ #84
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson ~ #88
37 by Maria Beaumont ~ #89
Castaway Kid by R.B. Mitchell ~ #94

When Kathleen McCleary read that this was my 100th review and would be holding a contest in its honor, she wanted to get in on the fun, too.  So, to sweeten this contest even further, the winner will also get the opportunity to talk with the author personally!  What a fun and wonderful opportunity!  And that’s not all! The second and third place winners in this contest will also get their own autographed copies of House and Home!

Have I peaked your interest enough?  Are you wondering what you need do to enter?  Here goes:

1. Leave a comment to this post by 11:59 EST on September 9 and you will receive two entries.  Comments left beginning on September 11 at midnight receive one entry.  If you comment includes a question about House and Home, for Kathleen McCleary, or about any of the other books in the contest, you will receive an additional entry (three entries possible).

2. If you have a blog, write a post about this contest by 11:59 EST on September 9 and leave me a message with the link to earn two entries.  If you do not have a blog, you can send an email telling 3 or more friends about this contest (copy me) by 11:59 EST on September 9 for those two entries.

Selecting the winners: I will be out of town starting Friday, so this is going to be a quick contest.  I will be using the List Randomizer on random.org to enter the names and will it will determine the winner at noon on Thursday, September 11 EST.  [I have wised up since my last contest. No more writing names down on sheets of paper, cutting them out, folding them, and putting them in a box and asking my beloved husband or bewildered co-workers to pick them out.]

Posting the results: I will be posting the names of the winners at 1pm EST.  The name of the person in lucky number 1 spot wins the copy of House and Home, the selection of 10 books I’ve previously reviewed, and a phone conversation with Kathleen McCleary!  The names of the people in lucky spots number 2 and 3 (assuming that there aren’t any repeating names – if there are, the second and third unique names) will also receive an autographed copy of House and Home.

Good luck to everyone who enters and a special thanks to Kathleen McCleary for making this contest that much more special!

To buy this novel, click here.

300th Post and August Recap

September 1, 2008 at 9:50 pm | Posted in Books, LIfe, My Life with Books | 13 Comments
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I couldn’t believe it, but my WordPress stats indicate that my post yesterday about Maw Books’ Darfur fund raiser was my 299th post.  That makes my August Recap my 300th official post!!!  Whoo Hoo!  Thanks to each and every one of you who have read this blog.  It’s really been an anchor for me.

Non-Reading Reading-Related Activities

This month I created my first challenge: Expand Your Horizons.  No one has joined Mark and me, but I’m hopeful that there are others out there who might find it fun to share books with a friend.

My first guest post was published on Saturday at The Friendly Book Nook and I was really excited about that.  Thanks to everyone who responded with comments.  It really meant a lot to me.  A special thanks to The Friendly Book Nook for honoring me this way.

I’ve been hard at work organizing the relaunch of The Literate Housewives’ Book Club.  I’ve been sprucing up the blog site and adding the forum.  I’ve also been hard at work on the bookmarks for everyone.  Unfortunately I was not able to get to the post office at all this past week.  I met Emma when she got off of the bus all last week.  Without a lunch break, I just didn’t have time.  Rest assured that everyone will get their bookmarks this week.  The club will officially open on the 15th of September.  I’m hoping to get invitations to the forum sent out tomorrow.

Reading Activity for the Month

Now for the downer…  I read only 6 books in August.  Actually, it’s closer to 5.75 because I read half of Surviving Ben’s Suicide in July and I read the last 6th of The Seamstress today (since I read over 500 of the pages of this book in August, it’s counting in August).  Here’s how that all broke down:


Surviving Ben’s Suicide by C. Comfort Shields
The Castaway Kid by R.B. Mitchell

Expand Your Horizons Challenge:

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson


Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Robert Maturin
No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July
The Seamstress by Frances De Pontes Peebles (review coming soon)

I shouldn’t be too hard on myself because of the numbers.  It took me a week to read the 250 I finished of Melmoth the Wanderer and it took me another week to read The Seamstress and Pattern Recognition.

August Favorite

Meet Me in D.C.

August 28, 2008 at 5:27 pm | Posted in Books, Historical Fiction, LIfe, My Life with Books, Philippa Gregory, Reading | 6 Comments
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As my regular readers are well aware, I’m a Philippa Gregory fanatic. To this day, two of my three most viewed posts by far are about reading her Tudor series in chronological order and my thoughts about Anne Boleyn’s rape scene in the film adaptation of The Other Boleyn Girl. When I received her newsletter recently, I read it word for word. When I read that her tour dates for The Other Queen were set on her website, I went there immediately knowing full well that she most likely wouldn’t be coming any where near my little hamlet in Southwest Virginia.

It was like Christmas morning when I discovered that she will be taking part in the 2008 National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, September 27.  D.C. is still five hours away. With gas prices the way they are, my joy started to dim until I noticed all of the other authors who will be there: Neil Gaiman, Salmon Rushdie, Geraldine Brooks, and Marisa de los Santos just to name a few. It’s sounds like such a wonderful event and I’m sad that I’ve not heard about it before this year.  I hope that this is one thing that will continue on after President Bush leaves office.

I have asked my husband to take me there and he agreed so long as our yard sale isn’t held that weekend.  Uh, it most definitely won’t!  I’m not sure what we’ll do as far as driving there.  Neil Gaiman is appearing in the Teens & Children Pavilion at 11:45.  We’d have to leave pretty early in the morning to get there in time for that.  We may drive to Alexandria and get a hotel the night before and then take the train into the city.  Is there anyone else out there who is planning on attending?  Let’s make plans to get together!  It’s going to be a great day!

The Sunday Salon

August 24, 2008 at 10:14 am | Posted in Books, LIfe, My Life with Books, Reading | 6 Comments
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The Sunday Salon.com

This week was by far less eventful than last week. For that I am very grateful. I was able to read two books: The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner and House and Home by Kathleen McCleary. I also posted my review of Pattern Recognition by William Gibson.

I became absolutely entranced by Juana La Loca while reading Gortner’s novel. Her story is tragic as she was betrayed by every man in her life, but she was such a strong woman. I hated that Jennifer was translated into Juanita in my high school Spanish classes. It wasn’t as sexy as Carmen or Pilar. It sounded plain to me. Now I would happily take on the name Juana for the strength and courage it signifies. Besides, what’s wrong with people thinking you might be crazy? They should be careful.

I read McCleary’s novel for one of the first TLC Book Tours, so you’re just going to have to come back on September 8th, when the tour reaches The Literate Housewife Review. This will be the second time I’ve participated in a virtual book tour. My first go round was for Mrs. Lieutenant by Phyllis Zimbler Miller. It was a good experience for me and I’m hoping that when Bethany from B&b ex libris is less bogged down we can get together with the author and hold a discussion.

This week I launched my first reading challenge: Expand Your Horizons. The object of this challenge is to exchange books with a friend who has different taste in books than you do. The first reviews for this challenge were Special Topics in Calamity Physics, written by my friend Mark and my review of Pattern Recognition. I’m hoping that Mark and I will do this again soon. It was a good experience for the both of us.

Marcia from The Printed Page will be sending me her copy of The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff. I’ve been coveting this book ever since it was offered as an Early Review book through LibraryThing. Jen’s review at Devourer of Books only intensified it. I am so excited to be receiving it. Thanks, Marcia! I’m starting the next book I’ll be sending you today…

Which leads me to what I’m going to be reading this week. The first book up is The Seamstress by Frances De Pontes Pebbles. It is set in Brazil, a country I’ve never visited before and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a 600+ page book, but I’m thinking that it will read quickly. After that, I’m going to read Femme Fatale by Pat Shipman, which is a biography of Mata Hari. I’m really looking forward to this. I just discovered that she was a Dutch courtesan. One of my people… 😉

I’ve gotten a little behind in my blog reading, so I’m hoping to catch up on that tonight. I hope that everyone has had a wonderful week. Emma starts kindergarten tomorrow and after a great experience at her open house, she’s looking forward to it. That will help me keep my tears to a minimum. 😉

#95 ~ Pattern Recognition

August 23, 2008 at 10:00 pm | Posted in Books, LIfe, My Life with Books, Reading | 2 Comments
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Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

I had never heard of William Gibson or the novel Pattern Recognition until it arrived on my front porch back in June, a gift from my good friend, Mark. What I found was an interesting novel that truly did stretch and challenge me as a reader. In fact, I will have to read this novel again because I was unable to grasp all that was being done.

Pattern Recognition tells the story or Cayce (pronounced Casey) Pollard, a woman highly in tune with up and coming trends. She, more than anyone else, sees patterns in dress, attitudes and interests on the streets. This awareness makes her opinions sought after by marketing departments developing new logos. She earns a very comfortable living providing these services and travels extensively. As a result of being so attuned to what will be cool or perhaps because of it, Cayce cannot stand being around logos and other corporate symbols. She does not wear brand named clothing. She considers it an allergy. Because of her phobia, I will never again look at the Michelin Man in the same way after reading this book.

For someone on the cutting edge of cool, Cayce is introverted and her hobby borders on geeky. Outside of her work her passion is to hang out on a board discussing clips of a movie that mysteriously and randomly appear on the Internet. With each new piece of footage that is discovered, the boards become increasingly active with theoretical discussions about the footage. Is it a completed piece? In what order are the clips being released. Is it or will it be a movie at all? Cayce’s best friend on her favorite board, f:f:f, is Parkaboy. He is very opinionated when it comes to the footage and is known to get into heated discussions with other members. This level of dedication and interest over clips reminds me quite a bit of those people I know who are obsessed with Star Trek, The X-Files, and other science fiction/paranormal favorites. In that way, Cayce strikes me as a hero for the everyday nerd. She dictates cool for the outside world while making her home among those who don’t follow the trends.

Much of the detail in this novel went straight over my head. There were large stretches where I felt that significant things were happening, but I missed them entirely. Reading those sections over again did not change that. Even as I finished the novel the pieces weren’t fitting together for me. There were also important themes, such as the antique calculators, that I really didn’t understand. For this reason, I will need to reread this novel. I want to find the patterns in the novel that I missed.

Despite feeling lost at times and not comprehending all that was happening, I enjoyed reading Pattern Recognition. I very much enjoyed getting to know Cayce and follow her along on her adventures and her trek to find out more about the footage. She goes from London to Paris to Moscow and in the midst of these big cities, she even sneaks in a reference to Roanoke, Virginia. What I was left with most of all, were interesting ideas that I continue to think about. What would life be like if I were allergic to or had a phobia of logos, mascots, and other visual forms of marketing? What does globalization mean? What importance does corporate marketing have in my life? I like to think I’m somewhat immune to all of the advertising I see on a daily basis, but am I really?

A novel that makes you ask questions and think about the larger issues in society. Somehow, I’m not surprised at all that this is one of Mark’s favorite books. We are going to have quite a bit to discuss the next time we’re together.


To buy this book, click here.


This is my inaugural review in my new Expand Your Horizons Reading Challenge. Click here for more information on how this started and how you can participate.


William Gibson won the 2004 Mary Shelley Award for Outstanding Fictional Work for Pattern Recognition. As such, this is my first review for the Book Awards Challenge II.

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