Friday, July 31, 2009

I Knew M&M Were Good For You!

Have you heard about how blue M&Ms can cure spinal injuries? Well, not exactly, but close! Seems the blue food dye, found in blue M&Ms and blue Gatorade and other blue foods, may have a positive use, besides that lovely blue color in our snack. From National Geographic News...
Fifteen minutes after this rat was paralyzed, researchers injected the rodent with Brilliant Blue G dye, a derivative of common food coloring Blue Number One. The dye reduced inflammation of the spinal cord, which allowed the rats to take clumsy steps—but not walk—within weeks, a new study says.

Clumsy steps sound like walking to me, clumsy walking, but walking. Seems the injection has to be given immediately after the injury and in the tests were given within 15 minutes. They believe that the BBG blocks a chemical that kills healthy spinal cord cells around the damaged area and that can cause more damage than the original injury did.

According to the scientists, this will need more study before any sort of human clinical trials begin, but as far as they can determine, there are no side effects.
Actually there is one. It turned the mice temporarily blue.

Is that not the cutest thing you ever saw? Awww....

Get Your Hands Off My Book...and That Is Not a Book!!

Oh, is it time for another one of my anti-Kindle rants?
Oh sure...there is always room for an anti-Kindle rant. And Jello, if you are old enough to remember that commercial.
Now yes, I must say that I have not used a Kindle but for more than a few minutes. But I did have the chance while on vacation to read a significant part of a book on a Sony Reader, and I was not terribly impressed. I kept reaching up to turn the page. I couldn't break the habit of decades! But beyond that, I didn't really like the way the type looked, I didn't like the way you have to hold I said, I was not really impressed.

But with the Kindle, there are much bigger issues as well. Like the fact, as people have recently discovered, that Kindle has the ability to 'reach' into your device and remove a 'book'. Now they said they mishandled that episode and apologized, and no doubt promised not to do it again, but doesn't it just concern you that they can do that. Is anyone worried that someone, the Evil Amazon, has ultimate control over your books, especially since Kindle books can not be played on any other piece of non-Amazon hardware? That you have to agree to a 'terms of service" just to buy books?

But most of my latest ammunition come from this interesting article by Nicholson Baker from this months New Yorker.
First, there is the whole look of "e-paper".
"The problem was not that the screen was in black-and-white; if it had really been black-and-white, that would have been fine. The problem was that the screen was gray. And it wasn’t just gray; it was a greenish, sickly gray. A postmortem gray. The resizable typeface, Monotype Caecilia, appeared as a darker gray. Dark gray on paler greenish gray was the palette of the Amazon Kindle.

This was what they were calling e-paper? This four-by-five window onto an overcast afternoon?"
Ok, that seems to be a major issue to me. He then compared some Kindle versions to real books. Missing beautiful illustrations, missing or unreadable maps, the color coding in text books gone. Not always an issue with every book you might read, true, but with a number of books I can think of it would be extremely important. Why would I want to but a 'book' that is incomplete? He tries a newspaper subscription on the Kindle. The Kindle version
"lacks most of the print edition’s superb photography—and its subheads and call-outs and teasers, its spinnakered typographical elegance and variety, its browsableness, its Web-site links, its listed names of contributing reporters, and almost all captioned pie charts, diagrams, weather maps, crossword puzzles, summary sports scores, financial data, and, of course, ads, for jewels, for swimsuits, for vacationlands, and for recently bailed-out investment firms. A century and a half of evolved beauty and informational expressiveness is all but entirely rinsed away in this digital reductio."
Ok, that sounds like a pretty rotten way to read a newspaper to me.

He goes to Freeport, Maine to meet a Kindle owner, the manager of a British import store across the street from L.L.Bean, who is part of the “See a Kindle in Your City” promotion. It is cute, she has made a nice, little cover for it. But when taking it to the neighboring bookstore, he is surprised by how many books are not available. At home, comparing it to his own books, he is surprised at how many books he has that are not available. Of course, I know that will change when the Evil Amazon pressures every publisher and author to sign on and make available more Kindle editions. Because certainly Amazon is huge enough to exert that sort of pressure.

However, I was even more upset to find out that I noticed neither the British import store or the book store next to it on my recent visit to Freeport. I was blinded by the beauty that is L.L.Bean I assume!

Bottom line, yes, I understand the convenience of being able to carry a bunch of 'books' in one little device, the convenience of being able to order and download a book in seconds, but there is a price to pay for that convenience. An aesthetic price, in some cases, a usability price. You can't loan out your books, or sell them...speaking of which, here is an amusing video about that very issue...

But my greatest concern is when you buy an e-book, most especially when you buy it from Amazon, with their proprietary software, what are you actually buying. Did you read the small print in the "terms of service"? Will you still have access to those books years from now or will you maybe have to 'upgrade' your hardware or software at an additional cost to continue to have access to the material? That is over the $350 you already paid for the privilege of buying Kindle 'books' at a small discount from the Evil Amazon. Wow, I could buy a lot of real books for $350 and then do what I want with them. Maybe even offer thrm to my readers inn a giveaway. As Mr. Baker puts it,
"Here’s what you buy when you buy a Kindle book. You buy the right to display a grouping of words in front of your eyes for your private use with the aid of an electronic display device approved by Amazon."
Hmmmm...I'll pass on that for now thanks.

Well, in honor of Freeport, Maine, where I did not test drive a Kindle or see that bookstore (although I found another on the edge of town and bought a book. Or two), a couple of pictures of the town from my trip.

Welcome To Freeport and Hello From the Giant Freeport Indian

One Store on the L.L.Bean campus and a Big L.L.Bean Shoe in the 4th of July Parade.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A review of "Sweet Mary"

Sweet Mary by Liz Balmaseda (Atria Books, ISBN 978-1-4165-4296-4)

Dulce Maria (Sweet Mary) Guevara had a good life. Not a perfect life, not one without some problems. Sharing custody of her son with a less than cooperative ex-husband, having to deal with slightly goofy Cuban parents and her deadbeat brother caused some issues, but she was successful in her South Florida real estate career and had her best friend and co-worker Gina, watching her back. That is, until the morning when the worst week of her life began.

DEA agents break into her house, arrest her and lead her out in handcuffs as her son cries and her neighbors gather to watch the spectacle. She is accused of being a high ranked drug dealer, an accusation that takes her and her lawyer more than a week to prove is no more than a case of mistaken identity. She is released but a cloud of suspicion remains in the minds of many. Her ex-husband has been awarded full custody of their son while she was in jail and it seemed her boss does not feel she should return to her old job right now...or maybe ever. In other words, her life as she knew it is falling apart and the only way she can see getting it back to the way it was is to find the real fugitive and totally clear her name. And the only person she knows that may be able to help her on her quest is her bad boy ex-fiancé Joe Pratts. His ties to certain criminal elements was the reason he became her ex-fiancé but those same connections may now hold the key to helping her restore her life.

Let's say when they head off together to the Keys, the sultry Florida heat may not be the only thing making it sizzle.

Sweet Mary is a very well written book, as one might expect from a two time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, with some very good characters and a setting that just comes alive. It's also a very visual book, betraying it's beginnings as a potential screenplay and you may find yourself wishing you had one of Mary's favorite Mango Sours to drink as you set off on this fast paced, entertaining romp with a lively cast. At times this debut novel is very funny, at other times quite touching but always with emotions that ring true.

To a degree, “Sweet Mary” puts me in mind of the best stories in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. Trade Italian-American Trenton, NJ for Cuban-American South Florida, take one sassy heroine, add a 'take no hostages' female sidekick, a family that will drive you crazy one minute and tear out your heart the next and top it all off with a handsome bad boy love interest and you have all the elements for a very entertaining read. I certainly hope this will not be the last we see of Gina and Joe, Lilia and Herminio Guevara and, most of all, Sweet Mary.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

No Giggles When I Tell You Where I Live...But Tuesday Thinger Makes me Smile!

How that I have interested at least a couple of you in the wonder that is Library Thing, let's check out this week's Tuesday Thinger at the wonderful Wendi's Book Corner...

Questions: When you click on the Local tab, do you see any information? Do you find the information you see useful? Have you added any information? If you don't already use the Local tab, is it something you would use more often if there were more events listed?

"Once you have set up your location (in your profile I believe), you can go to the Local tab and see different venues (bookstores, libraries, etc) and events (book signings, book readings, etc).

There is a trick to using the local tab! SOMEONE has to put the information in there."

Yes, there is the problem. Either I am the only LibraryThinger who lives in the cultural wasteland that is South Jersey, or the others are as lazy as I am. Is there any info on my local tab? Why yes, there is! Wow! There are all my local libraries and bookstores and the info seems pretty complete as far as I can see. Now truthfully, that is a little surprising because I seem to remember it was not so complete when I first checked it months ago. Of course, the library in my town is not there..or the one in the good LTer that I am, I entered them. Library Thing is all about lots of people entering tiny bits of information to make a huge pile of information...

Now as to the 'events' there is nothing listed. Not a thing. Sometimes things do show up, but that is only because I widened my 'location' to 60 miles, so as to include Philadelphia. Sometimes things there will show up. Not that I am going to Philadelphia, oh no...because I may live in South Jersey but at heart I am a North Jersey girl. I only venture into Philly when it is an absolute emergency. Like I have to go to Ikea!

This has nothing to do with Library Thing but let me tell you something about my dear state of NJ. Look on a map and you will see it outlined, separated from the surrounding, much larger states of NY and PA. In fact, we are, of course, one of the original 13 states of the USA with a wonderful history. Some beautiful towns, 120 miles of great beaches, numerous historic sites...but in reality, we are just suburbs of NY City and Philadelphia. There is some line in the middle, maybe around Princeton, that decided to which city you owe your allegiance. We watch their TV stations, we read their newspapers, we follow their sport teams. It does not help that people often laugh when the name 'New Jersey' is mentioned. Yes, we in the Garden State suffer from an identity crisis.

Except, if you have been watching the news recently, for our identity as the state with the greatest amount of public official corruption! Hey, it's something!

and speaking of wonderful things in New Jersey, at least until his mom and he go back to school in Florida when the summer is over...Bandit!

Looks like Bandit was at a BBQ, maybe dancing, complete with a very strange party hat! You go Boy!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

My One True Love...and Monday Musing!

Wow, these weeks go by so fact, don't they. So, another Monday, another musing, from Just One More Page,

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about online book sites…

Do you have an account with an online book database site (LibraryThing, Shelfari, GoodReads etc)? If so, do you have a preference? Do you use it for - your own record keeping? finding new books to read? social networking?

Well, my dear readers, if you check out my blog on a regular every will know the answer to that one, since every Tuesday I post on Tuesday Thinger, a meme about...Library Thing.

I will not bore you with another post about my beloved Library Thing. But I do love it. I don't want to start a fight here...but of the various database sites out there, Library Thing is without question the best. Oh, I can hear the mumblings from a few of you. Certainly you are free to disagree. But can I say this ...if you do not agree, you are just wrong. lol... ;-)

I have told the story of how I started on Library Thing. I bought a copy of a book, only to come home and find I had the exact same edition of the same book sitting on my shelf. It seemed I needed to get a hold on my books, find some way to tract what I owned and what I read, so I Googled and the rest is history.

Now, I did check out some other sites. Shelfari was too slick for me...sort of like LT Lite. GoodReads..well, I liked that enough to sign up and try it, but when I started using them both, Library Thing won my mind and heart.
To me the format is just cleaner and more flexible to how I want to use the site. And that, I find, is ultimately the difference. Library Thing is about how I want to use it. And I love that the site, while having almost 800,000 members and with "Books cataloged, 41,847,555" according to the "Zeitgeist Overview" page, feels small.
The guy that started it, who owns the majority, Tim Spalding, is always around, posting in various threads, answering questions, trying to determine what changes people want. The people that run the site are known and an active part of the site, and I swear, every time I go there, there is some new, nice little addition to make it just a little better. I love all the stats, I love the clean look, I love all the available data, the recommendations, similarities to others libraries...well, I could go on and on. I love all the numbers and stats and interconnectedness of it all.

Needless to say, I have stopped updating my GoodReads account. I may just delete the whole account, if I could figure out how, just to tidy up lose ends.
Library Thing is all I need.

Primarily, I use it for my own record keeping. It is amazing..or bizarre...or many times it has saved me from buying a book I already have or already read. Library Thing is so neat and tidy. So unlike my Real Life books. It gives me an organization I will never have in real life.

Book recommendations. Well, if I needed any, Library Thing wold certainly be happy to help me in that regard. All those stats again, the whole "people that own this book also like this book" thing, plus the ability to look at other similar libraries or search by tags...well, the ways of finding recommendations on LT are many. But, as I have also discussed her, I am not really in need of any more books at the moment. Or for several years.

Do I use it as a social networking site? No, not really. I read some of the threads in groups there, I post on occasion but it has never really grabbed my interest a great deal. Partly that whole "so little time" thing too.

But, since LT introduced me to the whole idea of ARCs, and in fact to the whole world of book blogs, it did introduce me to you all, my dear readers. That's social enough for me!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

"Dedicated to Fisherman Lost At Sea

He hushed the storm to a gentle breeze.
and the billows of the sea were stilled."

Fisherman's Memorial, Cape May, NJ

They cried to the Lord in their distress;
from their straits he rescued them.
He hushed the storm to a gentle breeze.
and the billows of the sea were stilled.
They rejoiced that they were calmed,
and He brought them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for His kindness.

Psalm 107

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The West Quoddy Lighthouse

It has been awhile since I have shared a lovely lighthouse with you, so I think I will favor you with a few pictures and a bit of history from the last one I visited, the very picturesque West Quoddy Lighthouse in Lubec, Maine. So cute, with it's red and white stripes and it's beautiful setting on the rocky coast.

A bit of history for you first. This lovely light stands at the tip of West Quoddy Head, at the end of Maine’s St. Croix River and Passamaquoddy Bay, separating the USA from New Brunswick, Canada. Of course, as is so often true with lighthouses, the present one is not the first that has stood at this spot. The first was constructed in 1808, after a sum of $5000 was authorized in 1806 by Thomas Jefferson for it's construction. It was a wooden tower that had to be replaced in just two decades, due to deterioration, replaced by a rubble stone tower. Again, there was an issue of poor construction, as Lighthouse Keeper Alfred Godfrey describes.
"The house leaks all about the eaves and windows in rainy weather. The chimneys smoke badly…we have no rain water cistern, no well. Our water for domestic use is obtained from a spring about 200 yards from the house. The lighthouse stands 110 feet from my house door, on the edge of the cliff...The tower is built of rubble stone, badly laid. In winter the walls are coated with ice from the effect of leakage. The windows of the tower blow inward in storms from being insufficiently framed...In winter the inside of the glass is coated with ice, from the condensed vapors of the burning lamps, and in summer the glass is also covered with sweat and condensed vapor."
Happily, the better built brick tower with her third-order Fresnel lens manufactured by L. Sautter of Paris and wooden keeper's house were constructed in 1858 and both remain standing, in excellent condition, until today. The present tower, on a masonry foundation, is 49 feet high, and stands 83 feet above sea level. Such a cute little lighthouse...

Another issue over the years at West Quoddy was the need for some some of audible guide for ship in addition to the light, due to the great amount of fog they receive there. West Quoddy Light has the historic distinction of having America's first fog bell.
Over the years a number of solutions were tried and found lacking. The first bell, weighing 500 pounds, was installed in 1820,after a Congressional Act provided “a sum not exceeding one thousand dollars...for placing a bell near the light-house on West Quoddy Head.” It did not prove up to the task and a number of other solutions were tried over the years, until a 8-inch steam whistle was installed in 1868. In 1885, the steam whistle at West Quoddy logged more hours of operation than any other fog signal in the United States – an amazing 1,945 hours, since the coast there is foggy about half the time in summer. It must have been wonderful for those that lived there, don't you think? To quote New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Guide
"In Down East magazine, Ruth L.W. Draper recalled visiting West Quoddy Head as a girl in the early 1900s. On one visit Ruth and a friend were awakened by the "fearsome shrieks" of the fog horn, which proceeded to blast for 56 straight hours."
The light was automated in 1988 and is now own by the state of Maine and is part of the Quoddy Head State Park. The grounds and the keepers house, now staffed by the West Quoddy Head Light Keepers Association, are open to the public and they operate a Visitors Center and small museum and art gallery in the house. The park and the lighthouse are also quite near the very scenic town of Lubec and right across a short bridge from Lubec, there is Campobello Island, in New Brunswick Province, Canada. Campolbello is where the Roosevelt family had a summer home and young Franklin Roosevelt often spent the summers. The Roosevelt Campobello International Park on the island is on Canadian soil but staffed by both US Park Service and Parks Canada staff and supported by both governments.

Besides it lovely setting and very nice grounds and a number of trails worth exploring, West Quoddy is noteworthy for several reasons. First, despite the name, it is the eastern most spot on the US mainland and of course, the light is well known for it's distinctive red and white, horizontally striped day mark. It is one of only two painted that way in the US, the other being Assateague Light in Virginia. It is believed it was painted that way shortly after the present tower was finished because the color made it stand out against a snowy winter background and was very common in nearby Canada.
Whatever the reason, it makes for a charming sight and a lighthouse well worth a visit if you find yourself in 'Down East' Maine.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

a Review of "I'm Sorry You Feel That Way"

I'm Sorry You Feel That Way: The Astonishing but True Story of a Daughter, Sister, Slut, Wife, Mother, and Friend to Man and Dog by Diana Joseph (G.P.Putnam's Sons, ISBN 978-0-399-15528-4)

It may be a true story, but it is hardly astonishing, although I will give it extra points for having quite a title. And a very true title (except for that astonishing part) it is, because this is the story, a memoir, exploring Ms. Joseph's life through her relationships with a number of men, from her usually bare chested, Lucky chain smoking father, her brothers (you will excuse the word) the "assholes", a several times married, lumberjack, ex-husband, to her professor boyfriend, her son...or as she calls him "the boy"... and my personal favorite, her dinosaur toy humping dog. Or maybe her Devil worshiping neighbor is my favorite....

"The boy", her teenage son, is without question, the best part of her world, as she states in the acknowledgments. Their life together has not always been the easiest and let's say they see the world in slightly different ways, her free wheeling, liberal ways rejected by her NRA joining, conservative offspring. But she loves him, his extreme hygiene issues aside, without question and sees her own parenting in a refreshingly realistic...and amusing....way.
My thirteen years of parenting this boy can be summed up in three sentiments:
I adore you.
What the hell do you want from me now?
I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I'm sorry!
Now, I am not a parent, but that seems pretty spot

They are a checkered lot, these men in her life, starting of course, with her father, from whom arises the whole "slut' issue.
"Now, look," my father says, "When a girl goes with this one and then with that one, and then with that one over there, and with who knows how many others, what happens is people start to talk. People will always hear all about what see did, see, and when they do, they'll talk about it. They'll say that girl is a pig."
The Lucky dangled from my father's lips and his eyes were squinty from the smoke. He raised his eyebrows. He was jabbing his finger at me. Moving only half his mouth, my father said, "Don't be a pig."
That was the first time my father ever talked to me about sex. It would be his final word on the matter. Neither he nor I would speak of it again.
As she will admit, she did not take his advice, with some amusing, some cringe worthy and some sad consequences.
Which also pretty much sums up my feeling on all the 15 or so stories in this book. Some are quite amusing, some made me shake my head in disbelief and at least one was almost heartbreakingly sad.

All in all, I didn't love this book, but I didn't hate it.
I am just not sure there was enough here to make a really good book in my opinion. Ms. Joseph is a good writer. Some of the stories on their own are enjoyable and entertaining, but something is missing to tie them together as a whole. Maybe I just think that a memoir should have more to offer than a few good stories. I am starting to wonder if I have an issue with the whole genre of memoirs, since I have read a few recently that left me a little cold. Or is it, as I actually suspect, that there are more and more memoirs being written that may relate some interesting or amusing or sad incidents from an individual's life, but that leave me wondering what this has to say to me, what the point is.

I won't give this one a head's up or a head's down in the coin toss as to a recommendation, but sort of leave the coin resting on the edge. If you love memoirs, you may enjoy it, if not, you might want to pass it by.

Here are a couple of other reviews of the book for your consideration...
the Book Lady's Blog

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How To Win an Early Reviewer Book on Library Thing!

Ok, actually, I have no idea. None at all. I was sort of hoping you could tell be how, 'cause I ain't doing very well at it recently myself. So let's look at this whole Early Review thing a bit more.
Thinger, Thinger, where is my Tuesday Thinger. Well, at Wendi's Book Corner of course!

This week, I've got an EASY Thinger!! If you have ever participated in the Early Reviewer program (and even if you haven't), you can now check the books you have received and hopefully reviewed against the list that ER thinks you should have. (Hopefully this link will take you to YOUR list, and not mine, which is a whopping ZERO since last September!! Have I set a record here?? No problems - I've always got plenty of books to review) ;)

The list will also allow you to mark a book as NOT received, so that it will not count against you when you request additional Early Reviewer books. :)

Questions: Have you checked out your ER list? Is it accurate? Did you need to mark any books as not received? Any suggestions for upcoming topics??

Well, thought I, how to check if my ER list is accurate? I know! I will use 'tags' as we discussed last week. All my ER books are tagged Early Reviewers, so I go to the Library Thing tag tab (say that 5 times fast) and yes, it is accurate. Well, they don't actually agree since the new page shows 8 books and I have 10 books tagged ER, but that is because when I received one book, it was the third in a series and the publisher actually sent all three, the first two of which I have not read yet.

I am not sure I have mentioned before how much I appreciate the Library Thing Early Reviewer program. It was ER that first opened my eyes to the fact that there was such a thing as ARCs, or Advanced Reader Copies, available from publishers. Who knew?? How amazing!
And every month, when I peruse the available books, looking to request a few I might like and one of which I might be lucky enough to get, I find so many interesting books to check out for possible future purchases. Heaven knows I need more books and more book ideas...not. ;-)
So the ER page is always a source of entertainment for me.Which is good, because that is about all it has been for me in the last 6...7...8...months.

I have always received in the mail the books I was awarded. In a timely fashion, I have read and reviewed each, often in days, moving it right to the top of the towering To Be Read Pile, with my imaginary kitty, Kitty, cowering in fear at the bottom of said pile.
Now, not to complain, because yes, I have received 8 books from the Early Reviewer program and I, like many of you, am not in any great need of books. But see, I have reviewed each book ASAP, I have tagged, I have many, about 2000, books listed in my library. But no books awarded to caite for so, so long.

What is the secret?? Is there really a secret algorithm? I see books that just look perfect for me based on books already in my library, but nada. So sad....

Ok, complaining done!
But I do like the new ER 'Books you've won' reminds me of my good fortune in the past and after all, every month is another chance to win. And another. And another... lol

Well, we have a few new Bandit pictures in our catalog presently, so here is one for you Bandit loving folks. Oh, the poor little feller was scared by the fireworks on the 4th of July... least he had his blankie!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Book Covers Can Break Your Heart...on a Musing Monday.

Blog-wise, I seem to be having a problem getting back in the swing after all my summer traveling. I really must get some things written up. I have several unreviewed books, any number of lighthouses to share with you, whether you want me too or not! But I can't seem to just sit down and write it all up yet. However, it was a long day at the salt mine, so you will have to just be happy with a brief bit of musing. Let's see what this week's question is from the always inquisitive Just One More Page ...

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about book covers (again)…

As a follow up to last week’s question, Melody asked about when book covers do not match the story. Do you feel disappointed when the cover’s don’t match the story? Have you ever been completely misled by a book cover?

Oh goody, another chance to judge a book by it's cover! Because, as I think I admitted last week, I am a sucker for a nice cover. I am a visual person, so when I look at a table of books, pleasing colors, a neat and tidy design, not too busy, not too wild, will have me giving the book a second look. Really bad covers will usually have my eyes looking elsewhere. Not fair, but often true.

But quite honestly, covers have not been a deciding factor...on any most books I have read recently. ARCs come as they come and most books I have purchased have been from the Evil Amazon, based on a fellow blogger's recommendation. Often, I have no idea what the cover will look like until I rip open the brown package, left by the Happy Man In Brown or the Less Happy Postal Worker. OK, then the judging begins!

ARC are a mixed bunch. Often, I think, the covers are not the best and happily, often not the final cover when the book is published. Low Man there is an example. A pretty good book but with a cover that I don't think did it justice. It does disappoint me when the cover does not match the book, especially when the book is good and the cover is not, because I just know that cover is going to hold it back in finding the audience it should have.

But even worse are the self published books. To be kind (Hey, I can be kind) the covers are often quite bad. Cheap looking, amateurish, poor design. Yes, that is me being kind. Because you see, the worse part is, the bad cover often does match the book.
But yes, I have been completely misled by a book cover and it was a self published book. I refer to For The Love of St. Nick there. The cover is very attractive and held out great promise of a cozy, old fashioned Christmas tale. If you read my review, well again to be kind, I found very little to like about this book beyond the cover. I almost wished it had been an ugly cover and had not got my hopes up like that. It's cruel.

Oh, the world of books and their covers is just fraught with both danger and excitement!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tagging Your Tuesday Away..with Tuesday Thinger

Driving home from Canada and going right to work the same day I got home might not have been the best idea. Maybe that is why my poor back is acting up a bit. But better it happen on 'work' time than vacation
Well, time to get back on the blog train. So let's see what this week's question is on Tuesday Thinger from Wendi's Book Corner...

Questions: Do you tag? If so, do you tag for your own purposes (make lists, sort, clouds, etc)? Do you tag to help classify a book (historical fiction, self-help, sci-fi, mystery, etc)? What is the most helpful thing for you about tagging?

Yes, I do tag my Library Thing Books. It is one of my favorite things about LT in fact. So neat, so organized, so tidy. Such a great way to waste time.

As with so many things, my tagging is all about me. Most often it is to help me find a book in my library. You know, if you have read a book about say...pirates...and you can not quite remember the name because, of course, you have read so, so many pirate books, you go to your tag list, click on pirates and there are all your pirate books. But then maybe you need to cut the list further, so you look for books tagged pirate and South Seas. Because there are so many pirate books as I mentioned.

Also, in my never ending quest to keep my books straight, I use tagging to help me locate a book. For example, library books, the few that I take out, are tagged as such, so I don't spent hours looking for one in my house that is no longer here. The same with books I have Mooched out or have left me in some other ways. Including industrial accidents or being eaten by dogs.
Yes, eaten by dogs. That happen twice.

It is also fun to look at how other people have tagged a book that you have or are thinking of acquiring. Sometimes you can get a very interesting idea of how other see a book by how they tag it and how big or small the tags are. Because if you use LT, I am sure you know that on the book main page, where the tags others have used are listed, the larger the font of the tag, the more common it is. I think it can give you a real feel for a book. Take, for example, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. Very mystery, very British, very classic, quite Victorian...not so much romance, not so much a thriller but still a bit.

Then, you can also click on one of those tags and see what are the most commons books with that tag. The most commonly tagged with 'mystery' as an example? Brace yourselves....don't say it...oh no....The DaVinci Code.
Just goes to show that just because you like a certain type of book, you have to take some tagging with a grain of salt.

And then, there are the odd tags. You look at the tag on some books and you see something very odd and it is amusing to try and figure out what the owner could have meant. You have to think it has some meaning to them but sometimes is it impossible to know what.

And while you are there, you can see related Tagmashes, and books recently tagged with that tag and related tags and who has the most books with that tag. So taking 'Victorian' as another example, you can see the member 'meburste' has 967 books with that tag (of a total of 6902 books!!wow),there are 68 books tagged "England, historical fiction, Victorian" and then you can get that list and start looking at each of them and before you know it, lunch time is here and you are still in you PJs.

Library Thing...a wonderful way to waste a lot of time! you think they are looking for a new slogan?

And now for your weekly doggie picture.
Gosh, I think I am out of really cute Bandit pics at the moment. What to do, what to do?? Well, here is an oldie, his very first picture when he was just a baby Bandit, not the big boy, relatively speaking, he is now. Sooo cute.....

...and another of the Miramichi River, NB Canada, the home of the Tiny Fish.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Beauty Is Only Cover Deep...Sometimes

Gosh, I was all set to post this earlier, but I came home from work this morning and fell asleep with my laptop on my lap. Guess I need a nap. But now, from Just One More Page
Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about book covers…

We all know the old adage about not judging a book by it’s cover, but just how much sway does a book cover have when it comes to your choice of book – whether buying or borrowing? Are there any books you’ve bought based on the cover alone?

Yes, I must say...since you asked... that I am a shallow person who indeed judges a book but it's cover. Granted, it is just an initial judgment but an attractive cover will give me pause in a bookstore and make me give it a look. Of course, that only works if I can see the cover, the book being on a table or cover forward on the shelf.
Otherwise,I am forced to use something else superficial, like the title.

At least, the author picked that, which I guess is not always the case with the cover art. Sometimes a cover is just so bad, so ill suited to the book, that I feel sorry for the author. It is an interesting question, but I think without doubt a bad cover can hurt sales...but then maybe a really good one can help. You scan a group of books and something must make you pause. Perhaps the title, maybe one you heard of before, maybe an author's name you know, but often it is the cover and something as simple as whether it appeals to us.

I give as possible evidence a show I recently saw on TV. A little study, with the same identical meal being served to two groups, a meal consisting of a salad, fish, veg, potato and chocolate cake. But with one group it was served on paper plates, plastic utensils, bad lighting, folding chairs. With the second, stylish tableware, tablecloths, a printed menu with lovely descriptions, a nice restaurant setting and the exact same food. Then each was asked to rate the food and guess the price. The first group gave it, on a scale of 1-10, a very mediocre 3, the second a quite high 8 and guessed the price as three times as high.

Yes, people do judge by 'the cover'.

I would post some pictures of covers I really like, but I am just too tired to go hunting at the moment.

OK, a few pictures of my vacation to amuse you, emphasis on the amuse part. The fishing was not great but I did catch...and released of course....four tiny fish. 2 very young salmon or parrs, a wee trout and a very small chub. I call it my
"Gallery of Tiny Fish".

Posted by Picasa
click the collage for a bigger view

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Musing Wednesday...Yes, I Know It Is Suppose to be Monday!

Casco Bay, Maine

Yes, it is way past Monday, in fact it is Wednesday Thursday, but I am on vacation again. I am in New Brunswick Canada this time, salmon fishing (the fishing is awful but I am having a great time!), so I am just now turning on my computer for the first time in days.
So better late than never!
Today question, via the ever musing Just One More Page...

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about library company…

Who, if anyone usually accompanies you to the library? Is it somewhere you go alone? Or is it a regular outing with family or friends? Which do you prefer?

Well, when I was a wee Caite, I went with my mom, as I have talked about here in the past. A nice memory. But now...well, I rarely go to the library, but if I did, I would go alone quite honestly. I see books as a solitary pastime. Hmmm...odd comment for a book blogger?
Really, when picking books, at the library or at a bookstore I would prefer to be alone. Ok, actually I usually I just prefer to be alone most of the time.
But when I am looking at a book and trying to decide if it is something I might like, I want as little distraction as possible. I want to read the back of the book, maybe the first few pages and see if this story grabs me, if I am lured into the story. So it is not a time to chat I think.
And so as not to appear rude, best I just go alone.

Speaking of alone, it is my last day here fishing in Canada and I will start my trek home tomorrow. A day traveling south to an undetermined point in New England and then home on Saturday...and back to work that evening. But first, let's see if we can find another pictured for you, to go with the one taken on the way up at Casco Bay in Maine on the 4th of July.
the Miramichi River, New Brunswick, Canada

Monday, July 6, 2009

A couple of years ago, I planted three raspberry plants, but for reason I don't understand, the harvest was...shall we say limited.
This year, still for reasons I don't understand, the harvest is BIG, the plants covered with ripe, juicy fruit. Pictured is a small sample of the delightful fruit.

I am googling raspberry recipes as we speak....

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Car, A Lobster and the Open Highway!

You might have noticed that I love these rather silly quizes. Well, I do! So here, from Cathy at Kittling Books is another one. BTW, Cathy is a train it seems...

You Are A Car

You're the type of person who likes to do things your way. You're a little stubborn.
You're very expressive and a true individual. You don't like to compromise.

You are a very private person. You value your alone time.
While you may seem self centered to some, you are actually very cooperative when you need to be.

A Car! Imagine that...Private, alone time, self centered. So very true! ;-) and so fitting since I am outta here, bright and early (actually still dark and very early) this morning, heading for a week at places north. Yes, I know I just got back from vacation, the Great Alaska/Yukon Adventure, but I am leaving again.

I am going to Canada, New Brunswick to be exact, to visit a friend and her husband and to go fishing. Fly fishing for the great salmon. And one day I might actually catch one if I could only learn to cast well enough not to scare them away...
This morning I am heading to Freeport Maine for a couple of days. Staying in a nice (I hope) B&B, checking out a few lighthouses on the way, hoping the weather is good enough to allow the planned 4th of July Fireworks and town concert to go off.

Well, no matter the weather, LL Bean will be open, 24/7/365. And lobster rolls don't care if it rains.
That is good enough!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I Am On A "Mission" To Make You Smile!! :-)

I suspect that we here at the Jersey Shore may be in the midst of the rainiest season ever. Gray, cloudy, rainy days have been our norm recently and while personally I love days like this, I know a lot of people find it depressing. So when I came upon something that just made me smile and smile and laugh and laugh, I had to share it with you, my dear readers.

I had vaguely heard of this "group" before, but it was this article by computer guru David Pogue in the NY Times, about his own participation in one of the "missions" that really made me check them out.
The group is called Improv Everywhere and this is how they describe themselves on their web site.
"Improv Everywhere causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places. Created in August of 2001 by Charlie Todd, Improv Everywhere has executed over 80 missions involving thousands of undercover agents. The group is based in New York City."

Hundreds, even thousands of people, all working in concert, just to do something fun and funny...or in the case of "Wedding Reception", something rather sweet.

Here is a short video of the Roosevelt Island Mission that David was in....

..and perhaps their most famous "mission", Frozen Grand Central Station. Of course the most interesting part is the reaction of the 'audience'.

...and my personal favorite, Food Court Musical!

I dare you not to

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

a review of The Girl She Used To Be

The Girl She Used To be by David Cristofano (Grand Central Publishing, ISBN 978-0446582223)

Melody McCartney was just six years old when she and her parents accidentally witnessed a Mafia don murder a man, but that was the end of her life as Melody. In a way it was the end of her life as anyone. In a bit of a mystery as to how they were tracked down, a mystery that we will learn the answer to later in the book, the feds show up at the family's door and convince them to testify against the don in exchange for the protection of the Witness Protection Program. But don't take that idea of protection too seriously, because in the years that follow, her parents are found and killed and Melody has been relocated, each time with a new identity, 8 times. Sometimes, it was because as a child, she couldn't remember that she could never tell anyone the truth of who she was. Sometimes, it was because of a real threat but as the book begins, it is because when 26 year old Melody becomes very bored with her present, very bland life, or very angry at the agency that she feels ruined her life and that of her family, she pretends to have been contacted, and within minutes she is whisked away to her next identity by her protectors.

It is in the midst of another one of these moves that something very different happens. She wakes up in the latest, rather seedy motel used in transit to find the son of the mafia boss that wants to kill her standing there. He is Jonathan Bovaro, handsome, rich and offering her a way out. It seems he has been following her for years. He knows who she really is. She will leave the program and go off with him, under his protection. And so the roller coaster ride of the adventure begins....

It's an interesting premise. What would it be like to have no real identity? Melody haunts a local Hallmark store after work, imagining what it would be like to have some connection to someone.
"It is here I get to witness life, albeit the life of others. I walk through the store and watch people select intimate items for their lovers, their friends, their families, and for the briefest of moments I get to pretend I am there for someone special too."
But there is no one special, there never has been and there never will be for Melody. No family left, able to make no friends, because you can never be fully honest about who you are. You must be ever on guard with everyone that knows you, for their protection and yours. Records that show you went to a college you never stepped a foot on, a resume with a series of jobs you never held, your longest relationship in the world with your agency handler. The idea of being able to start your life over may seem to have a certain appeal to us all at times, but the reality is not so romantic. Mr. Cristofano tries very hard to have Melody paint that picture for us so that her decision to go off with Jonathan seems believable...and he almost succeeds.

But not totally. At times, my disbelief was rearing it's head and that is the weakest part of the book. Not at the forefront, but still there. The strongest part of the book is the character of Melody. She is angry and sarcastic, at times very funny and always very believable. It is her character that makes this well written debut novel of Mr. Cristofano a fun read and makes you buy into what I think is a very successful journey and a satisfying if not storybook ending. There are romantic elements, there are mob elements, there are mystery/thriller elements to this book, and let, at heart, it is really just a pretty fun, fast paced read. As I said, this is Mr. Cristofano first book, but I will be keeping my eye open for his second.

..if you want to check out some more reviews...
Booking Mama
Devourer of Books
Mt Two Blessings
Cindy's Love of Books
Bermudaonion's Weblog

Melody might not have taken a train on her trip...but I did on the Great Alaska/Yukon Adventure and here is a picture of it, the Alaskan Railroad.