Saturday, May 30, 2009

Even a Dragon Needs a Lighthouse.

From the 1977 Disney movie Pete's Dragon, a song for ya all...just because it has a lighthouse in it! Speaking of the lighthouse, according to Wikipedia "The lighthouse for Pete's Dragon was built on a point above Morro Bay, California, substituting for Maine. It was equipped with such a large beacon that Disney had to get special permission from the Coast Guard to operate it, since operating it during filming would have confused passing ships."
The 52-foot high Passamaquoddy Lighthouse, photographed here while under construction, was built for the movie on Point Buchon. Point Buchon was selected because of it's beautiful views and because it resembled the northeastern United States coast. Fifty men constructed the lighthouse in three weeks and the $6,000 Fresnell-type lens and lamp produced a beacon visible for 18 nautical miles.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Great Alaska Adventure Is On!!

Well, hello folks...coming to you from the Southeast of Alaska this morning.

We are just on our way into Glacier Bay as I type this, reaching the first glacier we will see today in a couple of hours. Sadly, I can not post any pictures yet, as there is no USB port on the ship's computers and actually I have been to lazy busy to upload them to my wee netbook Sam yet. But hopefully in the coming days...and I have weeks ahead of me on this trip yet...I will preview a few snaps for you....and then bore you silly with them in the coming

The last several days we have been working our way up the coast, starting in Vancouver, where we spent a couple of lovely days with perfect weather and then boarded the ship, the Holland America Statendam, on Sunday. We spent a day in Ketchakan, a day in Juneau and then yesterday we were in Skagway and rented a car and took a drive through the White Pass into the Yukon of to follow at some point I promise. Lots and lots of snow covered mountains. As they say, spring comes late, especially at those beautiful it looks fake.

We will be in Glacial Bay all day today and then head up the coast and on Sunday I will exit the ship at Seward and start the land portion of my trip! Both cameras I brought have already been getting lots of use, so hopefully a few pictures will turn out.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Loving Fiction Might Just Be All In Your Head

I was perusing some articles I had happened upon, who knows where, who knows when, and one grabbed my attention. It was an old article from entitled "Why Women Read More Than Men". It certainly does seem that way, doesn't it? I have never done a poll or anything but the ratio of female to male book bloggers seems very much to lean toward the distaff side. But happily, according to the article, someone else has done the poll...and the results were interesting. And a bit disturbing as a book lover.
  • Men account for only 20 percent of the fiction market.
  • Book groups consist almost entirely of women.
  • Literary blogs are also populated mainly by women.
  • The typical American read only four books last year, and one in four adults read no books at all.
  • Among avid readers, the typical woman read nine books in a year, compared with only five for men.
That 80% of all fiction is read by women is interesting..and agrees with what I so often read in many bloggers comments. The blogger, a woman, is reading 100+ books a year and her 'significant other' rarely reads any books, especially fiction. Not to mention that these 100+ readers are in a category far beyond 'avid' it would seem. But why this huge gap between the reading habits of men and women?
"Theories attempting to explain the "fiction gap" abound. Cognitive psychologists have found that women are more empathetic than men, and possess a greater emotional range—traits that make fiction more appealing to them.
Some experts see the genesis of the "fiction gap" in early childhood. At a young age, girls can sit still for much longer periods of time than boys, says Louann Brizendine, author of The Female Brain.
"Girls have an easier time with reading or written work, and it's not a stretch to extrapolate [that] to adult life," Brizendine says. Indeed, adult women talk more in social settings and use more words than men, she says."
Then there is some little things called “mirror neurons”. It seems these little things, located behind our eyebrows, are activated when we watch other people and explains things like why we salivate when we see other people eat. Scientists believe these mirror neurons are the biological basis for empathy and that, quite possibly, women have more sensitive ones than men.
“That might explain why women are drawn to works of fiction, which by definition require the reader to empathize with characters.
"Reading requires incredible patience, and the ability to 'feel into' the characters. That is something women are both more interested in and also better at than men," says Brizendine."
Interesting...but I just can't get past those numbers...the typical American reads only four books a year, one in four reads no books at all!

And that is not the worse of it...
"...another, more worrisome gap might also be closing: the age gap. Young people, in general, read less than older people, and that does not bode well for books and the people who love them.

"What all of us are wondering is what will happen with this new generation that doesn't read much," says bookstore owner Carla Cohen. "What happens when they grow up?"
See, this is why I am happy to have so many unread books on hand. If the entire book industry collapses, I will be ok, for quite a long, long time, while all around me, the young people will be fooling around with their various electronic devices. Kitty (my imaginary kitty) and I will be sitting in the shadow of our bookcases.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

a review of Why Shoot A Butler?

Why Shoot A Butler? by Georgette Heyer (Sourcebooks, ISBN 978-1402217951)

Now, if you read my two recent reviews of the Daphne du Maurier books, you will know that I had heard of her, but had not read any of her books. A new, excellent, enjoyable writer found!

And now, also from the kind folks at Sourcebooks, a very nice little cozy English country house mystery from Georgette Heyer. Not only had I not read anything by Heyer before, but I can't say that I had actually heard of her. But, I will admit it, I am a sucker for a nice English mystery. From what I have read, it seems she is better known for her Regency romances (not really my cuppa tea) but she also wrote a number of mysteries, and judging from this one, I will be checking out some more of them in the future. If you are a fan of this genre, something in the Agatha Christie family, you will to well to join me.

The story opens with our hero, the barrister Frank Amberley, lost in the countryside, attempting to find his uncle's house where he is visiting for the weekend. He happens upon a car, pulled over at the side of the deserted road, and a pretty young woman standing by the car. Gentleman that he is, he stops to see if he can be of assistance..and finds a recently shot and deceased man in the car and a young woman with a very feeble explanation of what she is doing there. Turns out the dead man is the butler of one of his uncle's neighbors and really, why would anyone shoot the butler. Well, you will have to read the book to find out now, won't you! As Frank says, the murder is the least of the mysteries.

Again, as with du Maurier, this book really excels in the dialogue. Amberley refers to himself as the rudest man in London, and with some cause, and I find him totally wonderful because of it. His banter with the cast of characters, especially the police who take him on as an unofficial detective on the case, is one of the strengths of the book. Honestly, the mystery was a little must have been because I figured it out and some of the characters are a little undeveloped, but it is still a very enjoyable read. I love a nice mystery, set in the 30's in a country manor house, with servants lurking about, listening behind the doors and chases across the countryside.
As to the comparison with Christie, while there are some similarities, Christie is the queen and while quite good, Heyer, at least in this book, is not quite up to her standards. But still, a recommendation, if you are up for a clever, witty romp, the whole upstairs/downstairs thing going on, with even a touch of a romance thrown in.

Another word about this edition. I know I might be sounding like a broken record, but what can I do? I just want to mention that as with the du Maurier books, I love these editions re-issued by Sourcebooks. The covers are excellent, really capturing the feel of each book, and while I am not usually a fan of paperbacks, these are an exceptions, they have such a nice, quality feel and look.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

...And The Winners Are...

Yes, we have our winners of the du Maurier Birthday giveaway!!
First, let me say that I counted the entries and picked them very early this morning while at work, using the ever useful that was way to complicated for me to me doing at 2 a.m.
But I succeeded and the winners are {{{drum roll please}}}

So shortly, I will get an e-mail out to you to sent me your mailing info. and I will pass that on to Danielle at Sourcebooks who will, no doubt, have those on their way to you both shortly. Congrads!!

Keep Your Eye on the Ball!

I love optical illusions and this is a good one... The Break Of The Curveball
In baseball, a curveball creates a physical effect and a perceptual puzzle. The physical effect (the curve) arises because the ball’s rotation leads to a deflection in the ball’s path. The perceptual puzzle arises because the deflection is actually gradual but is often perceived as an abrupt change in direction (the break). Our illusions suggest that the perceived “break” may be caused by the transition from the central visual system to the peripheral visual system. Like a curveball, the spinning disks in the illusions appear to abruptly change direction when an observer switches from foveal to peripheral viewing.

Ok, translated, I guess that means that in baseball, about which I know little, the curveball, when thrown, does actually curve but because of this illusion, it appears to actually 'break', which is no doubt, hard to hit.
Never ever having hit...or thrown...a baseball, I will have to take their word for it. But I think it is

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

a review of Rubies in The Orchard

Rubies in the Orchard: How to Uncover the Hidden Gems in Your Business by Lynda Resnick (Broadway Business, ISBN 9780385525787)

While it is unlikely that you will be familiar with the name of the author, no doubt you will recognize the name of the companies that she and her husband own. The Franklin Mint, Teleflora, Fiji Water, all companies that they turned around and made much more successful than they had been. Then there is Pom Wonderful, the company they started from scratch, making that rather odd looking fruit, the pomegranate, and it's juice, in it's distinctive bottle, familiar in the produce section of American stores. Without doubt, they have an ability to market a company, turn it into the success it should be and the cover of Ms. Resnick books promises to share some of that knowledge with us, to tell us “How to Uncover the Hidden Gems in Your Business”, to discover the Rubies in the Orchard.
When she sticks to that idea, the books is rather interesting and enjoyable, but when she losses sight of that goal and goes off on some tangents, as she does, no doubt to the annoyance of a few readers, the purpose of the book become unclear.

Although the cover describes this as a marketing book, it is really more of a business biography. This is not a rag to riches story, but more of a riches to bigger riches story. Ms. Resnick's second husband had sold a very successful janitorial business, that it seems left them quite well off. But Resnick, who had started a successful marketing business when just a teenager, was ...well, bored. Her husband, along the way, had bought a very large parcel of land in their home state of California, planted in almonds and those odd pomegranates. Using her unquestionable talents for finding those rubies, each product's intrinsic and unique value, they turned an ancient fruit into a popular product, touting it health benefits and packaging it is a unique and memorable way.

I am not sure you will find any unique marketing advice in this part of the book, but the first part of the book is interesting and often amusing nevertheless. Much of the advice given seems like good common sense. Determine the intrinsic valve of the product or service, have faith in the product, offer something of quality, be honest, keep it simple, think long term, opting for the right thing is usually good for business...nothing new or earth shattering here, but presented in a direct and well written (by ghost writer Francis Wilkinson) way, it is very readable.

At least when Ms. Resnick gets out of her own way. To put it nicely, she has a healthy dose of self esteem, a very healthy measure. She is very successful, she has a lot of famous friends, whose names she drops, she is a very important person. She is the smartest, the hardest working, the most insightful person in the room, as she tells us, again and again, and everyone else she mentions suffers in comparison. But I was willing to let her have that, mostly because she tells some good stories, that is until the last 1/3 or so of the book. Then she started to loose me and I was about ready to give up on the book and go look up some nice pomegranate cocktail recipes. Hey, you might as well have your booze with something that is good for you!

The reason she lost me is that, toward the end of the book, she gives up any pretense of a book on marketing and launches into a polemic on a few subjects near and dear to her heart. First is the anti-PETA rant. Hey, I am no PETA fan, but is she really surprised that they attack her for the animal testing Pom Wonderful does to study the health benefits of their juice? Yes, she feel she is justified..and not surprising they do not. Boycott..How dare they!
Then there is her very strong talk for the need to be environmentally conscious. Ok...I have some questions about the scientific basis of Global Warning Climate Change, but her attempt to sell this and justify shipping bottled water from Fiji is just silly and dishonest. I am happy she is doing various environmental projects in Fiji, then claiming she is therefore carbon neutral in her production, but IMHO, bottled water has to be the biggest consumer scam of the century. Folks, the vast majority of Americans have access to safe, free, tasteless the tap! The plastic bottles, the production, the shipping, all the fuel used to sell us WATER can not be defended, but Ms. Resnick certainly tries...and fails. And touting value in products, while selling 'collectible' plates and fake Jackie Kennedy pearls through the Franklin Mint and the need for honestly of our leaders while talking about her dear friend and “creative genius” Michael Milken...the same Mr. Milken who went to jail for fraud and racketeering..I am sorry, but she had totally lost my ear by then and I wish she had just stuck to entertaining stories about her business life.

That being said, I loved the cover. That picture, of Ms. Resnick herself behind one of her favorite, odd, red fruits is based on the painting Son of Man by Rene Magritte. The painter of the original, the surrealist Magritte, said about it ”Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us.”
Maybe Ms. Resnick is trying to tell us something...or not.

Available From Amazon

The Literate Housewife
Muse Books Review

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

On the Move, With Library Thing!!

Again, Tuesday has rolled around, so let's see what this weeks question is from Tuesday Thinger, from Wendi's Book Corner...

Today I discovered that you can browse Library Thing on a mobile device (phone, pda, smart phone, etc). All you have to do is add /m/ at the end of the LT address: !!

Questions: Were you aware that LT had a mobile version of the site? Do you ever visit sites via a mobile device? Can you think of anything this would help you with?

Yes, I was aware of this feature at the lovely, wonderful Library Thing, but no, I have not taken advantage of it. I have no PDA, no smart phone, not even a web enabled cell phone. Just a basic, ordinary cell phone. I once paid for the web-enabledness, but I dropped it, finding that I never used it. At times, I even think of getting rid of the cell phone, because I really do not use it a lot, but I work very odd hours, so I am out on the road when few people are, so it is a bit of a safety issue. Besides, my SIL might kill me if I's hard enough to track me down as it is....and my niece would most likely claim she no longer knew me, because I would be the most uncool person on earth. A title, by the way, that I am already in the running for, as we speak, because of my choice of sunglasses...but that is a topic for another day.

So, back to the question, I do think the mobile LT is a cool idea, for those of you more cutting edge that I am. It would be nice to be able to check my library when out and about. After all, the reason I first got LT was to save me from once again buying a copy of a book that I already own. But...quite honestly, most of the books I buy these days are online, and I always check my library first if there is any question. Actually, if there is no question, I usually check anyway, because I have the memory of a gnat for some things these days. If I buy a book in person, as opposed to online, it is either something very new that I must have at once...and know I don't have...or really cheap at a book sale or something...and then I am not too concerned if I am mistaken. 50 cents..ok, 20 dollars..not so ok.

One other point before I go. Wendy mentioned in her post that she does NOT have a full paid Library Thing membership. That is just wrong, so very very wrong! Please correct this ASAP..or just lie and say that you did and make me feel better, ok?

Now to make you really all feel better, our weekly Bandit fix! Bandit is home for the summer and as you can see, hard at work, blogging. You have checked out his very own blog haven't you? Here is is, resting after his latest post, poor puppy.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Why I like scary books...and other Musing Mondays

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post, from Just One More Page is about early reading…
Do you remember how you developed a love for reading? Was it from a particular person, or person(s)? Do you remember any books that you read, or were read to you, as a young child?

I think, most certainly, I have my mother to thanks for my love of reading. That and heredity. My father was not a reader, except for the newspaper, as far as I remember. But my mother..oh yes, she was a reader and all her family seem to have been readers. She bought books, always paperbacks as I remember, but her real source for reading material was the Newark NJ Public Library system.

I have written before about my very fond memories of the library and our local branch in particular. Some of my earliest memories are trotting off there, my mom holding wee caite’s hand and a tote bag of some sort in her other hand to carry home her loot. She would get a bunch at one time, maybe 8 or 10, assuming some would be duds, as she said. That would last her about a week or two. Obviously, she was a faster reader than I am. She didn't teach me that part...

And I have written about climbing upstairs to the 2nd floor of that branch of the library, where the children’s section was, happily amusing myself, looking around, choosing a few to check out, until my mother was done downstairs. And oh, the very special day when I was old enough to get my very own library card…

I don’t remember learning to read, per se, and certainly never having to be encouraged to read. I just did. There were books around, everyone I knew read. I just never understood why people, my fellow students, co-workers, would say they didn't like to read. Really, some people don't like it? What did I read? Well, I am not sure. I seem to have missed reading most of the typical kids books, the children series and such. But I was always reading something!

Did I learn by my mother reading to me? I am not sure, but I think I could read, certainly before I went to kindergarten. I do remember my mother reading to me, usually at bedtime. I am sure she read me any number of books, but I clearly remember on particular book, a book of rather scary fairy tales that was my favorite. It had a bluish grey cloth cover as I remember…I wonder if that is true…and it was illustrated. My favorite story, that I would have he read me over and over was the Tale of The Headless Horseman. Maybe that is why I still count Dean Koontz as one of my favorite writers.

O Canada......

Greetings from the nation of Canada. This morning, we left the Great State of Alaska and drove over the very high and rather scary Taylor Highway from the town of Tok (find that one on a map) Alaska, over the Top of The World Highway, crossing the border in the Yukon territory of Canada, to the town of Dawson City. All very old west, gold prospectish.

Dawson was at the heart of the Klondike Gold Rush in the 1890 and here is still active gold mining in the area. In fact, we stopped at an old gold dredge yesterday to try our hand at panning for gold. Since I only found about $7 worth I will be returning to my job at some point in the near future.

From a literary point of view, Dawson City is most famous for having two well know writers that once lived here, the poet Robert W.Service (The Shooting of Dan McGrew) and the writer Jack London. You can view the two cabins in town where they lived...ok, Mr. London did not actually live in the town, but he did live in the cabin...or part of it. I walked out to look at them but since it is Sunday evening they were closed and hopefully I will be able to visit again tomorrow when they are open and find out the real story on that.

Tomorrow, off for an excursion away from the group, up the Dempster Highway, to Tombstone Park and the search for more critters to take pictures of. Hmmm...I really should post some pictures....

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Leaving, On a Jet Plane...

Did I mention that I will be leaving on a wee vacation next week...assuming I don't contract and die of the Swine Flu before then. Yes, I will be jetting off to that Really Big State, far off to the left side of the map, Steward's Folly, Alaska!

I will be gone for three weeks or so, 20 days on the tour and an extra day or so in Vancouver, from which the ship, for the first week of the trip, will leave. A week on the ship and then the reminder of the time on a variety of vehicles and modes of transportation..trains, very small planes, very big planes, jet boat, paddle boat, ATV, bus, van...oh my!
I plan to have some things post when I am gone and keep you informed as to a general idea of where I might be as I traverse a variety of terrain. My wee net book, SAM, will be making the trip along with me, and when I can get online (at a reasonable I will try to remember to post a pic or two and make you very, very jealous.

Unless a bear eats me or I trip and fall off a which case, I will leave my posts as a tragic memorial for you to enjoy.

Now, for your enjoyment, and just because the name of the song is so appropriate, peraps the best group that every existed, Peter, Paul and Mary...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Happy Birthday!! And a Giveaway!!

Happy Birthday Ms. Du Maurier!! If she were still alive, today May 13th, would have been Daphne du Maurier's 102nd birthday. So, in the tradition of birthday everywhere, there will be gifts!

But instead of the usual, the birthday girl receiving gifts, in a way, she will be giving the gifts to you, my dear readers! Or actually, Sourcebooks, who has recently re-published two of her books, Frenchman's Creek and My Cousin Rachel, in very attractive new trade paperback editions, is offering the gifts to two lucky readers.
There are two books available, one of each book, for two lucky winners.

Just leave me a comment, telling me if you would be interested, after reading my fine reviews, in trying for Frenchman's and/or My Cousin Rachel and I will hold a separate drawing for each. You can get one entry for one or both with a comment, and an extra two entries if you are or become a follower of my always entertaining blog. A separate comment, if you will, letting me know that. And I will check, so no fibbing now!

Since I am going on vacation next week, as I will tell you about in a post shortly, the contest will just run a week, and I will pick the winner, with the help of, Thursday morning and pass on the two names and mailing info. to the very kind Danielle at Sourcebooks to mail out the books. The contest is open to US and Canadian residents and GOOD LUCK! I think you will enjoy either one!!

a review of My Cousin Rachel

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier (Sourcebooks, ISBN 978-1-4022-179-8)

Our setting this time is several centuries later than our last meeting with the work of Ms. Du Maurier, the 19th century, but on the same Cornish coast. And our narrator this time is male, twenty four year old Phillip Ashley. Orphaned as a young boy, little Phillip was taken into the care of his older cousin Ambrose and goes to live with him on Ambrose's estate. Ambrose had never married, so there was no woman of the house, no other children and after Ambrose dismisses young Phillip's nursemaid and undertakes the boy's education himself, no female influence at all in his upbringing. Not that Phillip finds any fault with that. He admires everything about Ambrose and strives to be like him, even sharing a similarity in physical appearance.
“There could not be a man more fair, more just, more lovable, more full of understanding...Although invariably courteous he was shy of women, and mistrustful too, saying they made mischief in a household...Eccentric perhaps, unorthodox- the west country has always been known for its odd characters- but despite his idiosyncratic opinions on women, and the upbringing of small boys, Ambrose was no crank. He was likes and respected by his neighbors, and loved by his tenants.”
They are content, the two bachelors, for some 20 years, young Phillip learning how to manage the estate he will one day inherit. That is until, Ambrose, then in his forties and suffering from bad rheumatism in the cold, wet winters of Cornwall, decides that he will spend some time in the warmer climate of the Mediterranean and leave the management of the estate in Phillip's capable hands. He writes and stays in touch, telling of his travels, and then, out of the blue, tells of meeting a woman, a half English, half Italian widow in Italy. They share a love of gardening and, in fact, she is a very distant relative....their 'cousin' Rachel. Before Phillip really knows what to make of this new friendship, Ambrose writes from Naples that he and Rachel are married and on their honeymoon.

Phillip is not thrilled with the news, jealous of sharing Ambrose's affection and wondering how it will upset his future, but in a matter of months things turn even worse when he receives several letters from his cousin, very different in tone from his earlier ones professing his love for Rachel. Now he claims that Rachel is trying to kill him, poison him and Phillips set out at once for Florence, where the married couple are living, to come to Ambrose's aid. But he is too late, arriving at Rachel's empty villa to find out that his cousin has died, supposedly of a brain tumor and the widow is gone.

Phillip is convinced that Rachel has killed his cousin and pictures her as an evil, scheming witch. That is until a short time later, he receives a letter from the widow that she is in England and wishes to come to the estate to return Ambrose's possessions. She arrives and is, of course, nothing as her pictured her. He begins to wonder if he could be wrong and that perhaps those letters were the result of madness brought on by Ambrose's supposed illness. She seems so charming, so beautiful, so smart and she seems to easily wins over the staff and all the neighbors. Before he known what is happening, he finds himself being rather bewitched himself by his lovely cousin Rachel. What are her intention and is she an innocent widow, or a scheming murderer...yes, that is the question, and Ms. du Maurier will keep you guessing until the very end.
And maybe even a bit longer.

One again, I have found myself quite taken with Ms. du Maurier's writing and her wonderful ability to create some excellent characters and again the setting in Cornwall creates a grand atmosphere. But this is a far different book from the last one of hers I reviewed, Frenchman's Creek. No humor here, no dashing adventure. No, this is a a real psychological thriller, darker and more sinister, certainly less clear cut. It is not so much what happens in the story that creates that sinister feeling, but the way du Maurier is able to skillfully paint the characters, especially Rachel. The story is full of questions, tossing us back and forth in our opinion of Rachel.
A taut, well, written story that will no doubt grab you attention and not let it go until the very last page. The actual, very last page. If you like mysteries and thrillers, with a well written historic setting, My Cousin Rachel will be a very entertaining read for you. Another thumbs up for this one.

Available From Amazon

Monday, May 11, 2009

Help, I am lost, wandering around Tuesday Thinger!

It's time for Tuesday Thinger, from the talented desktop of Wendi's Book Corner Yet another chance to show my very limited, often slightly confused knowledge of Library Thing!

Questions: Do you add your reviews to the books you add to your library? If so, do you put your full review on there, or a quick review (one - two paragraphs)? Do you find other people's reviews helpful? Do you know of any other ways to enter your reviews (Other than Edit Book, or Quick Edit)?

My dear Library Thing, you know I love you, don't you? You brought a level of order to my life my books that was impossible before. The number of times you have saved me from buying another copy of a book I already own, the hours I have spent in your groups taking about the delights of cheese or looking at those silly animal pictures with the captions, the sleepless hours perfecting the tags on my books and looking at them sorted in various ways....oh, good times, good times. dear LT, sometimes you are not the easiest place to find your way around. It's not just you. Every time I go to enter some books on Goodreads, it takes me 15 minutes to remember how. I know people are considering these issues and making changes to make Library Thing better and better...but I must say, every time I go to enter a review, I get lost. It seems easy enough now that Wendi clearly pointed out the way, but I know I will forget by the next time I go to enter one.

I admit it. As people in my Real Life know, I have a terrible sense of direction. I have been to Disney World many times, I love Disney World, but I am always lost there, passing that darn flying Dumbo time and time again. And I am frequently cyberly lost at Library Thing. So, to answer that part of the question, no, I do not know any other way to access the place to enter your review. To tell you the truth, I didn't even know about the way to access it from the quick edit...although I tested it and it did seem to work for me. But I will soon be lost again, don't you worry.

Do I post reviews for books I enter on LT? Well yes, but not when I enter them on the site, because I have not read them yet. I find it harder to write a review before I read the book. But when I do read them and post the review on my blog, I go back and enter a shorter, more edited version on LT, usually with a link to the full review on my blog. Which is, I know, a matter of some controversy in some LT group discussions, those links on people's reviews.
I usually don't post them right away, but rather do a bunch at one time. And someday I will go back and review all the books on LT that I read long ago. Sure I will...hey, you want to buy a bridge in Brooklyn?

Do I find other people reviews helpful? Yes, I do and I like those on LT especially. Unlike those in some other places, like the Evil Amazon, I trust the ones on LT. Sometimes the motivation behind some reviews in other sites {{coughEvilAmazoncough}} seems a bit questionable. The folks that post them on LT just seem more serious about them, and therefore more useful to me who wants to know if this is a book I might like. And you know I always am on the search for another good book to buy, since I only have several hundred unread ones on hand. ;-)

Ok, enough about all those silly old books. Where is the Tuesday doggie picture, the picture of Bandit, the Cutest Dog In The Entire World? Well, Bandit and his mom were traveling this week, driving back to Joisey from the Sunshine State for the summer, so of course, he had to do the tourist thing and make a stop at the famous South of the Border.
Bandit, that hat seems a little small for you, but very cute!

Can you help me stop the Voices? Musing Monday Did Not Help.

...forgot it was Monday for a moment. But then my head cleared and I stumbled over to Just One More Page to find out today's question....

Have you ever finished a book, then turned around and immediately re-read it? Why? What book(s)?

I am not a re-reader. I think that may put put me in a minority in the blogsphere, but that's me! There are just so, so many good books, great books out there, waiting to be read, that it just seems wasteful of our limited and undetermined time here on earth to spend it with a book I have read already. I have mentioned that I have a To Be Read Pile, haven't I? I do believe so.

I know for a fact that I have never immediately turned around a re-read a book I just finished. No matter how much I loved it, I don't actually get that. I would like it to sink in, think about it. I could see maybe going back and re-reading a few pages, maybe to clarify something. Maybe re-read the beginning or the end...although off hand I don't think I ever have. And I can see, maybe after a period of something I really loved and that left a lasting memory...but I don't think I ever have.

At least not as an adult. Ok, when I thought about it for a bit...because I do actually muse about the Musing Monday question...I started to remember that as a young, not totally formed wee caite, I had re-read books. See, that was before I realized the above mentioned two things. First, that there were so many great books waiting for me (and at that point I did not actually own them, certainly not in any numbers, piled in the corner, double stacked in my bookcases, calling my name) and second, I did not realize, really know, that our time here on earth was limited. In theory, I am sure I had heard of the fact, but as in the way of so many young people, teenagers, I assumed I was immortal. Let me clarify. I do actually believe we are immortal, our souls, our true selves, but not our book reading selves. Unless, as I can only hope, that after a lengthy stint in purgatory, I end up in heaven to find that it is full of Earl Grey tea, puppy dogs, and books.

If I should happen to die before you all, I will try and send ya all a message back if that is the case!

But be that as it may, as a youth, I did re-read to a degree. I know I read The Hobbit several times, as well as the massive Lord of the Rings. See, I though there was no limit to our time! I re-read To Kill a Mockingbird, more than once, (one I could be tempted to re-read even now, non re-reader, well aware of my mortality that I now am), and The Seven Storey Mountain. Then there was Salinger. I went through a big Salinger phase, especially, Franny and Zooey and the stories. Yes, I read them several times.

But then I reached adulthood and I gave up my foolish, re-reading way. I had to. I can't drown out the sound of all the other books in the world calling out, in a wild, cacophonous, deafening Voice, "Read Me...No, Me!!"

Saturday, May 9, 2009

....a poem

The Light-Keeper

The brilliant kernel of the night,
The flaming lightroom circles me:
I sit within a blaze of light

Held high above the dusky sea.
Far off the surf doth break and roar
Along bleak miles of moonlit shore,

Where through the tides the tumbling wave
Falls in an avalanche of foam
And drives its churned waters home
Up many an undercliff and cave.

··· Robert Louis Stevenson 1850-1894 ···

Friday, May 8, 2009

Don't Believe Everything You Read...Except Here!

No doubt you have all read the stories about various newspapers, major US newspapers, falling on hard times. Readership is down, advertising is down and everyone is looking for someone to blame. You often see the availability of news on the internet cited as the cause and while that may be part of the problem, maybe there is another reason as well. A reason such as maybe people are beginning to realize you just can't believe what you read in them on a regular basis.
An example, from a story in the Irish Times...
“A WIKIPEDIA hoax by a 22-year-old Dublin student resulted in a fake quote being published in newspaper obituaries around the world.
The quote was attributed to French composer Maurice Jarre who died at the end of March.

It was posted on the online encyclopedia shortly after his death and later appeared in obituaries published in the Guardian, the London Independent, on the BBC Music Magazine website and in Indian and Australian newspapers....Fitzgerald posted the quote on Wikipedia late at night after news of Jarre’s death broke. “I saw it on breaking news and thought if I was going to do something I should do it quickly. I knew journalists wouldn’t be looking at it until the morning,” he said...

The quote had no referenced sources and was therefore taken down by moderators of Wikipedia within minutes. However, Fitzgerald put it back a few more times until it was finally left up on the site for more than 24 hours.

While he was wary about the ethical implications of using someone’s death as a social experiment, he had carefully generated the quote so as not to distort or taint Jarre’s life, he said.

Fitzgerald was shocked by the result of his experiment.”

Really, he was shocked? Sadly, I am not. Journalists are getting their information from Wikipedia? Doesn't surprise me at all. But then my experience with the accuracy of newspaper stories is not too great.

I will always remember, when I was a kid, my father was the victim of a violent holdup at the business he worked at. The local newspaper, the largest newspaper in our state, published an account of the incident. Virtually every fact in the story was wrong. Names, dates, times..what happen. Unimportant stuff like that.

Recently, our local paper published a front page story about an incident involving the company I work for. Someone, a local politician, accused some of our workers of violating EPA requirements in a job they were doing. The EPA came out and investigated...and found we were doing everything correctly. Why the story, a big front page story...about nothing? Not to mention that the reporter also got the name of everyone involved wrong, not to mention that it had happened months ago, a fact not mentioned...

Sadly, you can not believe everything you read in your local...or national...newspaper. And now they are not our only source of information. Yes, with the internet, we have so many other options, often going directly to the source. So, if you start to see contradictory accounts elsewhere, or other facts that make you question the newspaper's motivation, or think you might not be getting the whole, impartial truth, you might think twice when it comes time to renew your subscription. If you are not reading, they can't sell advertising.
If the newspapers are looking for reasons their readership is down, maybe they need to look in a mirror.

Just my humble opinion...feel free to tell me if you disagree. I would love to hear if your experience is different. ;-)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

a review of Frenchman's Creek

Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier (Sourcebooks, ISBN 978-1-4022-1710-4)

My dear readers, I have a few things to confess. First, before receiving this book and another du Maurier book, My Cousin Rachel, from the kind folks at Sourcebooks, I had never read any of du Maurier's books. Certainly, I had heard for her, and in fact have a copy of perhaps her most famous novel, Rebecca, in my TBR pile. So, when I was offered the books, I accepted them without doing the usual research, at least a quick glance about the plot on Amazon or elsewhere, that I do to be sure a book might be something that interests me.

So when I received Frenchman's Creek and read a synopsis of the plot, my heart sank a bit. 17th century England (not a huge fan of historical novels) passions being aroused (not a fan of romance novels) and pirates! For heavens sake....French pirates. I foresaw having to write another less than thrilled review.
Well, my dear readers, I was wrong! In fact, Frenchman's Creek turned out to be a quite enjoyable book that I would offer to you with a strong recommendation, even if it might not be your usual cup of tea. Even more so if it is your usual fare.

Our heroine, Lady Dona St. Columb, is bored and just a bit disgusted with life as a member of the aristocracy in London during the reign of Charles II. Her own participation in what starts as a prank, with one of her husband's friends, a prank that takes a bit of a nasty turn, convinces her to leave her husband and his friends to their partying ways in the capital. Taking her two young children and a small staff, she leaves for a summer's stay at her husband's remote and rarely used estate on the wild coast of Cornwall. Well, at least not used by it's owners, because she arrives to find that in their absence, a famous pirate, who has been attacking estates along the coast, has been using the house as his temporary base of operation. But the Frenchman is no ordinary pirate, as he himself will admit.
“There are no dark problems about it. I have no grudge against society, no bitter hatred of my fellow-men. It just happens that the problems of piracy interest me, suit my particular bent of thought.”
He is intelligent, and charming and as fast as you can say swashbuckling, Dona is finding herself falling under his spell and finding an outlet for the adventure and escape and fulfillment she so craves.
“It seems to her, as they sat there side by side, without a word, that she has never known peace before, until this moment, that all the restless devils inside her who fought and struggled so often for release were, because of this silence and his presence, now appeased. She felt, in a sense, like someone who had fallen under a spell, under some strange enchantment, because this sensation of quietude was foreign to her, who had lived hitherto in a turmoil of sound and movement.”
She finds an escape and an adventure in her brief role, acting as his cabin boy..which I admit sound like the straight line for a smutty joke. But while this book is sometimes considered a precursor of the modern day bodice rippers, you will find no smut here and only vague references to the physical side of their relationship. No, this is more about soul mates, like-minded in their adventure. But it is an adventure that seems destined to have an unhappy outcome, as her husband arrives from London to assist his neighbors in their attempts to capture the Frenchman, once and for all, and she will have to choose between her previous life, including her children, and a life that seems like a fantasy. Happily ever after seems unlikely....

From the quotes, you can get a sense of du Maurier's writing style, that is rather florid and yet that I found very readable. The setting, on the wild Cornish coast, is appealing, and most of all, for whatever their faults, and they do have some faults, especially our heroine, the characters are very appealing. I was especially taken with the Frenchman's right hand man, William, whom he left at the estate, acting as the butler in his absences, while the pirate is off doing what pirates do... pirating. He is a very amusing and wise sidekick and gets some of the best dialogue in the book. Surprising, there is a good bit of humor in the book, and a lot of it comes from the mouth of my man William.

Overall, there is a very modern feel to the novel, for a book set in the late 1600's and published in 1942, over 65 years ago. It actually addresses some interesting questions, such as the limits on the roles of women and issues of gender. Dona discuses at one point..a point that sadly it seems I failed to mark...that she wishes she had been born a man, that part of her seems to be male, an idea that it seems du Maurier herself shared. That would certainly raise some interesting questions about her relationship with the pirate then...

In sum, an entertaining, very well written story, quite a bit more than a bare outline of the story might lead you to expect. Well, that is unless you already have a thing for pirates, as I am sure several of you most likely do. Some people do not consider it du Maurier's best book and when it was first released, it was to mixed reviews. Actually, that is grand from my point of view, because then I still have the best ahead of me to read!

And just a word about this edition, recently published by Sourcebooks. It is a very nice trade paperback, very attractive, with, in my opinion, a lovely cover. And you know I am one to sometimes judge a book by it's cover! Ok, maybe not actually judge the book itself, but I do like an attractive cover and it does add to the pleasure of a book for me. This one is a winner, on several scores.

Available From Amazon

..for some other points of view, check out these reviews...
Booking Mama
Books Ahoy
Medieval Bookworm
The Book Nest
Ex Libris

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

floating on the clouds...of Tuesday Thinger favorite day, because that means it is time for Tuesday Thingers, from the desk of Wendi's Book Corner!

So this weeks question involves clouds..pretty, fluffy clouds in lovely blue summer skies. Oh, wait...not that sort of cloud? I best re-read the question....

Questions: Have you looked at your LT Clouds? Were you surprised at any of the larger tags within the Tag Mirror? Any thoughts on the clouds in general?

No, I was right the first time. I like clouds that are all white and fluffy and look like kittens or bunny rabbits. Not the ones that go all grey and get real low in the sky...they sort of scare me, because I don't like lightening. But perhaps my fear of lightening is a topic for another day.

I am a bit short of time here this morning, places to go, thing to do {anyone want to come along on a ride to Philly...I need gas money ;-)}. So, let's get serious! Library Thing clouds. I have glanced at them before. Interesting but no real surprises. It sort of miffs me that two author, Cornwell and Grisham, that I have rather given up on, get the big old type. I plead the insanity of youth for owning so many of their books. But now I have an idea of some books that perhaps I need to Book Mooch out of here and make some room on my shelves for some of those poor TBR books we met yesterday.

Likewise, the subject cloud was not really surprising. A lot of Catholic books, a lot of mystery and suspense, a lot of Ireland and England, gardening and New Jersey. We are after all the Garden State...really.

But now the tag mirror was a surprise. First of all, I was totally unaware that it existed. Cool. And what really surprised me was the number of books that I have that others tag as Romance! Romance...I don't read romance. Speaking of romance, that issue will be raised again tomorrow, in my review. But back to romance..I had to click on it and see what was tagged that way. Some not huge surprises, like Jane Eyre and Cold Mountain. That is not really how I see those books, but I can see it, sort of. But then, as I paged down, who do I see but the LOUD COVERS, from last week, of Janet Evanovich. They are coming back to haunt me, I tell ya! And I don't really see them tagged as romance either,although she was always trying to pick between those two fellers, but it seems I am outvoted.

Well, I would muse on, but I must run...but first, do we have a pic of wee Bandit for your viewing pleasure?

Gosh, he looks so cozy, happy in his little cage crate! I love you little

Monday, May 4, 2009

I Am Ready to Ruminate!

A gray, rainy day here at the Jersey Shore, just the sort of day I love, and I am in the mood for musing! This week's Musing Monday question, from Just One More Page...

How many books (roughly) are in your tbr pile? Is this in increasing number or does it stay stable? Do you ever experience tbr anxiety in the face of this pile?

Gosh, that seems like a very personal question! Ok, not really, but I hesitate to even think about the size of my To Be Read pile. In fact, I can no longer call it a pile, because the actual pile portion of it was downgraded to a semi-pile, after poor Kitty, my imaginary kitty, almost had what would no doubt have been a tragic, if imaginary, accident. The pile, an actual tower, was reaching a dangerous height, of perhaps 50 books. The real problem was that it was blocking a light switch and soon would partially block the doorway.

So, 50 books, is that the number of my TBR pile? NO, that was just the immediate pile. ARCs, books won in contests, and from various other sources that require a review at some point. Some, a point already passed, if you hold to that idea that ARCs should be review close to the publication date. Personally, I like to take a wider view of the review dates. I see at it drawing out the publicity for a newly published book...drawing it out a month or two in some cases.

So that pile, the Immediate Pile, now contains just ARC...and things I would like to read soon, perhaps 25 books. The rest were moved to the secondary pile, which I would estimate at perhaps 125 books, contained on a shelf on a landing at the top of my stairs. Not to be confused with the thirdary (I think I made that word up) pile, which contains about...hmmmmm...120 books. That 'pile' is double shelved on my once very neat and tidy downstairs bookshelves. Then there is another group, on a sideboard in the dining room, that is made up of books I have read and are awaiting a trip to visit another reader's home, my SIL or niece or a friend. Some of those will come home to me in the future and some of them will go out into the world for others to enjoy, forever.

To tell you the truth, I don't want to actually count them, so these are just vague estimates. If I started to count them and look them in the eye, they would speak to me, demanding to be placed in better order. Books that have been there a long time would demand to be move to the Immediate could all get very ugly...and them poor Kitty's imaginary life would again be in danger.

Does the number of TBR books cause me anxiety? No, not at all. Well, except those ARCs...I feel an obligation to get to them in a timely fashion, and while I fell a bit behind, I am doing my best. And will try to limit my ARC requests in the future to a select few...unless something looks very good. :-)
But other than those demanding immediate attention, and hence situated in the Immediate Pile, my TBR piles make me very happy. I feel secure that I have all those lovely books, like new friends, just waiting for me. They don't go bad, there is no rush. If another book never came into my house (which is a ridiculous idea) I would have unread books to read for years actually. Then i could start re-reading the approximately 1000 other books I have, and should be set for life. So, it is lovely having all my wee bound friends waiting for me and everything will be long as you don't single them out and look them in the eyes. Then things could turn very nasty.
{{Watch out Kitty!!}}

p.s. No cats, imaginary or real, were damaged in the writing of this post. ;-)