Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday Spotlight

Today's author is Mary Roach.

Here are a few of the things she has to say about herself:
I grew up in a small house in Etna, New Hampshire.
My dad was 65 when I was born.
I graduated from Wesleyan in 1981.
I spent a few years working as a freelance copy editor before landing a half-time PR job at the SF Zoo.
I mostly write books these days, but I still write the occasional magazine piece.
I often write about science, though I don't have a science degree and must fake my way through interviews with experts I can't understand.
My first book, Stiff, was an offshoot of a column I wrote for

Read more here.

In addition to Stiff, she has 3 other books: Spook, Bonk, and her latest, Packing for Mars.

About Packing for Mars...

Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can't walk for a year? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 4,000 miles per hour? To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations -- making it possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth. From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA's new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), Packing for Mars takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.

Have you read any of her books?

I have Stiff. Definitely worth reading. I like her writing style and it's interesting material.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Feature Fridays

Today's (modern) classic is Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958) by Truman Capote.

Holly Golightly, glittering socialite traveller, generally upwards, sometimes sideways and once in a while down. She's up all night drinking cocktails...more Holly Golightly, glittering socialite traveller, generally upwards, sometimes sideways and once in a while down. She's up all night drinking cocktails and breaking hearts. She's a shoplifter, a delight, a drifter, and a tease. She hasn't got a past. She doesn't want to belong to anything or anyone. Not to 'Rusty' Trawler, the blue-chinned, cuff-shooting millionaire man about women about town. Not to Salvatore 'Sally' Tomato, the Mafia sugar-daddy doing life in Sing Sing. Not to a starving writer. Not even to her one-eyed rag-bag pirate of a cat. One day Holly might find somewhere she belongs. Until then she's travelling.

Did you know? Capote is thought to have based "Holly" on various real women including Gloria Vanderbilt, Oona Chaplin, Walter Matthau's wife, Carol Grace and his own mother.

Have you read the novella or seen the 1961 film adaptation starring Audrey Hepburn?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thoughts for Thursday

If you had to pick your next book based solely on cover, what would it be?

The Life Before Her Eyes by Laura Kasischke (I love the audio cover and paperback cover.)

Diana stands before the mirror preening with her best friend, Maureen. Suddenly, a classmate enters holding a gun, and Diana sees her life dance before her eyes. In a moment the future she was just imagining--a doting wife and mother at the age of forty--is sealed by a horrific decision she is forced to make. In prose infused with the dramatically feminine sensuality of spring, we experience seventeen-year-old Diana's uncertain steps into womanhood--her awkward, heated forays into sex; her fresh, fragile construction of an identity. Together with the sights and sounds of renewal, we experience the tasks of Diana's adulthood: protecting her beloved daughter and holding onto her successful husband.

An acclaimed writer and poet, Laura Kasischke has crafted a consciousness that encompasses the truth of a teenager's world and the profound transformation of that world at midlife. Resonant and deeply stirring, The Life Before Her Eyes finds piercing beauty in the midst of a nightmare from long ago that echoes like a dirge beneath each new spring.

There is also a movie adaptation starring Uma Thurman.

I watched it recently. A little confusing but interesting too.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday Wish List

The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan

1915. The dawn of the hydroelectric power era in Niagara Falls. Seventeen-year-old Bess Heath has led a sheltered existence as the youngest daughter of the director of the Niagara Power Company. After graduation day at her boarding school, she is impatient to return to her picturesque family home near Niagara Falls. But when she arrives, nothing is as she had left it. Her father has lost his job at the power company, her mother is reduced to taking in sewing from the society ladies she once entertained, and Isabel, her vivacious older sister, is a shadow of her former self. She has shut herself in her bedroom, barely eating--and harboring a secret.

The night of her return, Bess meets Tom Cole by chance on a trolley platform. She finds herself inexplicably drawn to him--against her family's strong objections. He is not from their world. Rough-hewn and fearless, he lives off what the river provides and has an uncanny ability to predict the whims of the falls. His daring river rescues render him a local hero and cast him as a threat to the power companies that seek to harness the power of the falls for themselves. As their lives become more fully entwined, Bess is forced to make a painful choice between what she wants and what is best for her family and her future.

Set against the tumultuous backdrop of Niagara Falls, at a time when daredevils shot the river rapids in barrels and great industrial fortunes were made and lost as quickly as lives disappeared, The Day the Falls Stood Still is an intoxicating debut novel.


Browse inside the book here.

This debut novel is a Barnes & Noble Recommends Selection, a Barnes & Noble Best of 2009 book, an American Booksellers Association IndieNext pick, and a New York Times bestseller.

Does it sound like something you'd like to read?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays (started on Should Be Reading) asks you to:

Grab your current read (or a book on your shelf that you've read or been wanting to read). Let the book fall open to a random page. Share two (or a few) teaser sentences from that page. Don't forget to share the title and author of the book in case someone is teased into reading. Please avoid spoilers!

I've posted my teaser below. Post yours in the comment section if you'd like to share as well!

If you walk down the street in Burlington you can see all sorts of people--Irish, Italians, Gypsies, Jews--but you learn, growing up on the Hill, to wear blinders. You notice only the people who look like you--women with the same permanent waves in their hair and children with sailor collars and men who smell of bay rum.

from Second Glance by Jodi Picoult

It's one of my 3 summer challenge books (also still trying to finish the spring challenge books!).

Monday, July 26, 2010

Movie Mondays

The Secret Life of Bees

Book, 2002 by Sue Monk Kidd

Living on a peach farm in South Carolina with her harsh, unyielding father, Lily Owens has shaped her entire life around one devastating, blurred memory - the afternoon her mother was killed, when Lily was four. Since then, her only real companion has been the fierce-hearted, and sometimes just fierce, black woman Rosaleen, who acts as her "stand-in mother."

When Rosaleen insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily knows it's time to spring them both free. They take off in the only direction Lily can think of, toward a town called Tiburon, South Carolina - a name she found on the back of a picture amid the few possessions left by her mother.

There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters named May, June, and August. Lily thinks of them as the calendar sisters and enters their mesmerizing secret world of bees and honey, and of the Black Madonna who presides over this household of strong, wise women. Maternal loss and betrayal, guilt and forgiveness entwine in a story that leads Lily to the single thing her heart longs for most.

Movie, 2008 directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood

Features: Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo

Tagline: Bring Your Girlfriends, Sisters, Mothers and Daughters.

Awards: Dakota Fanning won a Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Young Actress. It also earned 7 NAACP Image Award nominations.

Have you read the book or seen the movie?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Group Picture-Olive Kitteridge

Thanks for having us over, Susan!

Meeting Today & Member Profile-Susan

We're meeting today @ 3pm @ Susan's house to discuss Olive Kitteridge!

Here's a little book bio of our hostess this month...

What is your favorite book? The Shopaholic Series

Who is your favorite author? Sophie Kinsella

What is your favorite type of book to read? Fiction (not historical fiction)

Who is your most loved character? Zippy

If you could force everyone you know to read one book, what would it be? Still Alice or Water for Elephants

What is the most difficult book you've ever read (you had to actually finish it)? Pride & Prejudice (high school days)

What's the last book you read? Dress Your Family in Cordoroy & Denim

How many books do you own? 150

Paperbacks or hardbacks? Hardbacks

Has any book changed your life? Still Alice

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saturday Spotlight

Today's author is Ann Brashares.

She was born July 30, 1967 in Alexandria, Virginia and grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland. She attended elementary and high school at the Sidwell Friends School in Washington DC (where Chelsea Clinton went and the Obama girls go). She studied philosophy at Barnard College. Her first job out of college was working as an editor for 17th Street Productions. She soon published her first book, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. It became an international best seller and she followed it up with 3 sequels.

There are 2 movies based on the 4 novels.

She released her first adult novel, The Last Summer (of You & Me) in 2007.

Her latest book, My Name is Memory, is also an adult novel.

Daniel has spent centuries falling in love with the same girl. Life after life, crossing continents and dynasties, he and Sophia (despite her changing name and form) have been drawn together-and he remembers it all. Daniel has "the memory", the ability to recall past lives and recognize souls of those he's previously known. It is a gift and a curse. For all the times that he and Sophia have been drawn together throughout history, they have also been torn painfully, fatally, apart. A love always too short.

Interwoven through Sophia and Daniel's unfolding present day relationship are glimpses of their expansive history together. From 552 Asia Minor to 1918 England and 1972 Virginia, the two souls share a long and sometimes torturous path of seeking each other time and time again. But just when young Sophia (now "Lucy" in the present) finally begins to awaken to the secret of their shared past, to understand the true reason for the strength of their attraction, the mysterious force that has always torn them apart reappears. Ultimately, they must come to understand what stands in the way of their love if they are ever to spend a lifetime together.

A magical, suspenseful, heartbreaking story of true love, My Name is Memory proves the power and endurance of a union that was meant to be.

Have you read any of her books?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Feature Fridays

Today's classic (of children's literature) is The Secret Garden (1911) by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Mistress Mary is quite contrary until she helps her garden grow. Along the way, she manages to cure her sickly cousin Colin, who is every bit as imperious as she. These two are sullen little peas in a pod, closed up in a gloomy old manor on the Yorkshire moors of England, until a locked-up garden captures their imaginations and puts the blush of a wild rose in their cheeks; "It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place any one could imagine. The high walls which shut it in were covered with the leafless stems of roses which were so thick, that they matted together.... 'No wonder it is still,' Mary whispered. 'I am the first person who has spoken here for ten years.'" As new life sprouts from the earth, Mary and Colin's sour natures begin to sweeten. For anyone who has ever felt afraid to live and love, The Secret Garden's portrayal of reawakening spirits will thrill and rejuvenate. Frances Hodgson Burnett creates characters so strong and distinct, young readers continue to identify with them years after they were conceived.

You can read it for free in email installments from Daily Lit. You can also read it at Page by Page Books.

Did you read this as a child?

Although the book is often noted as one of the best children's books of the twentieth century, I have not read it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thoughts for Thursday

Straight from BTT today...

Do you ever listen to book-related podcasts? Which ones?

The only podcast I've ever listened to is Quick and Dirty Tips from Grammar Girl. I guess it can kind of count as book related. Some of Grammar Girl's top podcasts are about Affect Versus Effect, Who Versus Whom, Lay Versus Lie, Ending a Sentence With a Preposition and “All Right” Versus “Alright”. Today's podcast is How to Write Clear Sentences. If you don't like listening, you can also just read the tips.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wednesday Wish List

Kings of the Earth by Jon Clinch

The edge of civilization is closer than we think.

It’s as close as a primitive farm on the margins of an upstate New York town, where the three Proctor brothers live together in a kind of crumbling stasis. They linger like creatures from an older, wilder, and far less forgiving world—until one of them dies in his sleep and the other two are suspected of murder.

Told in a chorus of voices that span a generation, Kings of the Earth examines the bonds of family and blood, faith and suspicion, that link not just the brothers but their entire community.

Vernon, the oldest of the Proctors, is reduced by work and illness to a shambling shadow of himself. Feebleminded Audie lingers by his side, needy and unknowable. And Creed, the youngest of the three and the only one to have seen anything of the world (courtesy of the U.S. Army), struggles with impulses and accusations beyond his understanding. We also meet Del Graham, a state trooper torn between his urge to understand the brothers and his desire for justice; Preston Hatch, a kindhearted and resourceful neighbor who’s spent his life protecting the three men from themselves; the brothers’ only sister, Donna, who managed to cut herself loose from the family but is then drawn back; and a host of other living, breathing characters whose voices emerge to shape this deeply intimate saga of the human condition at its limits.

I love family dramas! I'm ordering it for my Kindle today!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays (started on Should Be Reading) asks you to:

Grab your current read (or a book on your shelf that you've read or been wanting to read). Let the book fall open to a random page. Share two (or a few) teaser sentences from that page. Don't forget to share the title and author of the book in case someone is teased into reading. Please avoid spoilers!

I've posted my teaser below. Post yours in the comment section if you'd like to share as well!

The following Tuesday, Erin rides to Laura’s on the bus, one minute thinking she will explain that she’s dropping her as a client and the next that she will reveal exactly what happened over the weekend. When she arrives at the house, she notices two cars in the driveway.

from The Teahouse of the Almighty by Kathleen Foster (featured short story from fifty-two stories.

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