Sunday, October 31, 2010

Last Day to Enter - Author of the Month Contest

Last Day to Enter Author of the Month Contest.

The author of The Accidental King of Clark Street, Diane Dryden, is giving away 6 personalized copies to 6 winners. 
To enter please click on the link below:  The last day to enter is today until midnight, central time.  This contest is open internationally.  Good Luck!

The Accidental King of Clark Street by Diane Dryden

You can check out my review of the book here:

The Accidental King of Clark Street Book Review

You can read an interview with the author Diane Dryden here:

Interview with author Diane Dryden

Diane's second book is called Double or Nothing on Foster Ave.  She is currently working on her third novel set in Chicago.  The except below is from Good Reads:

Double or Nothing on Foster Ave.
All she wants is a life of her own...and maybe love along the way. Sarah Gold's got roommate problems, but she's not about to admit it to her overbearing parents, who think she can't make any decisions for herself. They weren't crazy about her living alone in the big city of Chicago anyway. "Why not settle down with a nice Jewish boy?" her mother constantly argues. But Sarah longs for something more-to change the world in even a small way. Through a chance encounter at a local diner, she finds a huge Victorian brick boarding house run by the grandmotherly Sophie. Young people come and go, as they make their way in life. Could this makeshift family be what Sarah's been longing for? A place that's safe enough to put the missing piece of her past to rest? A heartwarming, coming-of-age love story. The second book in Diane Dryden's Chicago series. Don't miss Book One, The Accidental King of Clark Street. 

I hope you have enjoyed meeting new author, Diane Dryden, and learning about two great new books on the market.  Please support Diane and read her books.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle By Jeannette Walls

This is the unforgettable true story of Jeannette Walls experience growing up.  Her family is unique and completely crazy and amazing at the same time.  I wondered the whole time how each child managed to survive their childhood physically and mentally intact.  I would label this book memorable, shocking, funny, inspiring, sad and extraordinary.

Memorable:  The most memorable part of the book for me is when the family is  traveling down the road in their car called Elvis and the Jeannette's dad makes a sharp turn and the backseat car door opens and Jeannette falls out of the car and lands on the gravel road.  She has pebbles embedded in her face and on her skin and she begins to pick them out as she sits on the curb to wait for her parents to figure out she is no longer in the car and then make the drive back to get her.  She wonders the whole time if they will come back for her and after a long wait bleeding by the side of the road, she sees their car approach.

Shocking:  Jeannette's Paternal Grandmother shocked me.  She was a large woman who lived in a falling down house, who kept a bottle of hooch in her housecoat dress.  She was smelly, drunk all the time, mean, ugly and abusive to her grandchildren and probably abused Jeannette's Dad when he was a child.

Funny:  There were instances of humor throughout the book but usually they were funny in a sad sort of way.  The part that sticks in my mind is that Jeannette's mother made her father attend church and he hated it.  Because he hated it and was frequently drunk during mass he made crazy comments that got him and the whole family kicked out of church like this one on page 114. The quote comes from Christmas mass.   "Virgin, my ass!" Dad shouted.  "Mary was a sweet Jewish broad who got herself knocked up!"

Inspiring:  All of the kids were gifted and their parents taught them to read by the time they were three years old.  Each of the four children were extremely independent, self-sufficient and smart as they were frequently left to fend for themselves.  Their dad took them on great adventures with his wild imagination and taught them quantum physics.  These children were deeply loved!

Sad:  The saddest part for me pervades the entire book when you realize how hungry these kids were everyday and that their mother and father refused to get welfare or food stamps.   Jeannette and her brother had to dig in the garbage at school for their lunch.  Search for their dinner in the woods.  One time they noticed their mother eating something and hiding it in her bed while everyone was crazy with hunger.  They found her hiding a chocolate bar under the covers.  The kids then split it four ways.

Extraordinary:  This is one extraordinary family and one extraordinary story to engage in.  I encourage you to read it and to find the extraordinary in your everyday existence.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Lucy's Hero. Remembering Paul Wellstone

Lucy's Hero.  Remembering Paul Wellstone by Karen Shragg
Illustrations by Bryan Klotz

Today is October 25th and it marks the anniversary of the deaths of United States Senator Paul Wellstone, his wife Sheila, daughter Marcia,  three campaign workers, Tom, Will and Mary, and two pilots whose plane went down in Northern Minnesota in 2002. The announcement of their deaths played over the radio at 1pm as I was driving to pick up my kids.  I remember that I had to pull over to the side of the road due to the tears in my eyes.  I did not personally know Paul or Sheila Wellstone but Marcia and I taught high school together at South High in White Bear Lake for a few years.  Paul Wellstone was a great senator and a great man and his loss meant that he would no longer be working for a better future for Minnesotans.  It was such as sad day. 

Lucy's Hero is a children's book that remembers Paul Wellstone as a hero to many Minnesotans.  Lucy is a fictional character but the details of Wellstone's senate race, the little green bus that could, and many other remembrances are real to many people.  Paul is Lucy's hero because when she writes to him to help her and other farmers in need of emergency aid, he follows through and helps her family keep their farm.  Lucy helps Paul campaign and when she learns of his death, heads to Saint Paul to grieve with others at his campaign headquarters.  It really is a lovely story.

Paul Wellstone taught Political Science at Carleton College, in Northfield, MN and his daughter Marcia taught high school Spanish.  Paul's students dared him to run for political office and that is when he bought a little green bus and drove it all over the state to campaign for the U. S. Senate.  It was a grassroots movement that Minnesota hasn't seen since.

I read this book aloud to my junior and senior Government class. Their current assignment is to write a children's book to teach concepts of Government and this book, I hoped, would prove inspiring as well as teach them about Paul Wellstone and his legacy.  Happily, one of my student chose the topic of how to become a U.S. Senator as the subject of her book.  I am going to continue to read this book to my Government classes and I plan to donate a copy to the school library where my own children attend school.  It is a important book that shares a legacy of a man, that all children should know.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Fallout by Ellen Hopkins

Fallout is the heart-wrenching conclusion of Kristina Snow's addiction to meth and its effects on her family.  Told from the point of view of three of her five children, Hopkins dares to drag us where fiction rarely goes.  Hunter, Autumn and Summer's stories interweave in the book with an interpersonal look at the depth of how addiction has shaped their three lives.

Can Kristina's three children break the cycle of addiction or are they doomed to follow in their mother's footsteps?  Footsteps that will lead them to a life doomed with failed relationships, abuse, sex, drugs, arrests and illnesses.  Or will they be able to build a life that is different and learn from their mother's mistakes?  This book is a testament to the power drugs and addiction hold over the lives of our loved ones.
The first books in the trilogy are Crank and Glass.  All three of these books are based on the author's personal story of dealing with her daughter's addiction to meth.  These three amazing books have hit their mark in my personal life as well because many of my family members struggle with addictions of one type or another.  As a high school teacher, I see students every day who have been affected by drugs and are experimenting themselves.  I try to help but basically I am rendered powerless with my hands tied behind my back.  It is so frustrating.

This is the first time in my life where I actually went out and bought a book the week it came out and read it within the month.  Most of the time, I wait until a book reaches paperback before I buy it and then it lingers on my shelf awhile.  Fallout was an awesome reading experience and I am glad I didn't wait another few years to pick it up and read it.  Take my advice, read this trilogy!  Don't wait.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Interview with Diane Dryden-Hometown Author in the Spotlight

Interview with Diane Dryden: Hometown Author in the Spotlight.

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I lived in Chicago for 28 years and now I live in the little City of Shell Lake, population 1,400. My husband and I have three children and eight grandchildren. I adore reading, gardening and cooking and all the things required of a true country woman.

  1. What is the inspiration behind the story of The Accidental King of Clark Street?
The Accidental King of Clark Street oddly enough reflects life in the country. When my family and I moved north, we were lulled with the promise of ‘Five Acres and Freedom,’ or at least that’s what one of the most popular books said we’d have. It was the end of the sixties and many people were leaving city life and going back to the land to be self-sufficient. It was hard work with no money but we made it and I think that’s why many of my homeless people in all three books make it too. There’s just something in the human spirit that steals itself, grits its teeth and makes the worst circumstances work, especially if someone reaches out and gives them a hand up, not just a hand out.

  1. Why did you decide to place your novels in Chicago and particularly on Clark Street?
Every Christmas the women in my family would venture to the section of Chicago’s Clark Street that was called Andersonville due to the vast amount of Swedes and Norwegians who settled there after coming over on the boat. I had a great aunt and uncle who lived in the narrow streets behind the shops in Andersonville, and we visited the area to buy the special foods that graced our Swedish Christmas Eve table. I grew up with the sights, the sounds and the smells of Sweden, right there in the city. They always say write what you know, and I knew Chicago.

  1. What is Clark Street like today in 2010?
Because Clark Street is located in a large city, it looks pretty much today as it did then because there is no place to build anything new. The last time I was there this past March, all the Swedish shops and bakeries and delis were gone. The area is now replete with Greek and Indian owners. The Swedish Children’s Museum is still there and as much fun as ever. It’s very sad, but the memories are even sweeter now. Kind of like an old boyfriend.

  1. Why did you decide to use the issue of Homelessness as a theme or backdrop in your book?
I believe that all some people need is a helping hand to help turn their lives around. Not everybody, but some. There are people who like their troubled circumstances, whatever they are, because it evokes sympathy for a while and some people are not willing to do the hard things to change their lives. Cop out is easy and after a while, no one expects anything of you. It’s a choice to succeed or not and I would imagine everyone knows someone who always acts like the preverbal victim.

  1. What are some of the other issues in the book that you hope your readers will interpret as integral to the story?
The most important thing I want to convey in all my books is a sense of companionship. The circumstances of life are constantly changing; fellow employees move on, neighbors come and go and today even family members come and go. But there is something special when you can connect with others, even if it’s just for a short time. Everyone leaves an impression on someone else and small acts of kindness can make a bigger impression than we will ever know.

  1. This is your first book.  Can you tell us why you decided to become a writer?
After a life of playing around with writing, stories I never pursued to publish and things written for my own pleasure, our county newspaper, a ma and pa operation, hired me on a story to story basis because they didn’t have time to cover events or interview the public. Shortly thereafter the paper was purchased by a larger paper and they asked if I wanted to stay on. I’ve been writing feature stories full time since then. I also realized that if you delved beneath the surface of others, everyone has a story. I decided that I would like to make up my own people and give them stories of their own.

  1. What did you do before your career as an author?
I’ve been one of those people who love working but I like a variety. I’m a certified optician from my Chicago days and I still work in the optical field when a local ophthalmologist’s office needs me. I also owned a catering service for over 20 years and a restaurant for four and I’ve probably made over 400 wedding cakes. This proves I like to cook!

  1. Your characters strike me as regular people.  Did you model your characters after people you know?
All the characters in the books are either like people I know or a composite of people I’ve met. Writing also takes a life of its own and sometimes I have characters walk into a book that I don’t like, and I get rid of them as soon as possible, others I keep. The odd balls remind me of people in my own life who drove me nuts. I like regular people’s stories because they’re more interesting that rich people who have the tendency to talk on and on about themselves, while patting themselves on the back. Regular people struggle, and that’s what makes them who and what they are. Because both Mayor Daley’s have played such a huge part in Chicago’s history  for over 40 years, I had to write in Richard J, the first mayor, into the book. I sent a copy to his son, Richard M, and he sent back the nicest note of thanks. I mean, the mayor of Chicago sent me a thank you note? Way cool.

  1. Is this book a part of a series or does each of your books stand alone?
There are three books in the series. They all take place in Chicago, the city I still love with a passion and visit as often as I can. The first two books take place on the north side, which are, The Accidental King of Clark Street and Double or Nothing on Foster Avenue, and the last one takes place on the south side and its titled Scott Free in Chinatown. It would be best to read them as a series, but they’re all stand alone books too. Each book ends with a twist, so you might not want to read the last chapter first.
  1. Can you tell us a bit about your 2nd book and give us an idea on what your 3rd book will be about?
The second book carries through with several of the main characters while adding others. It’s a strange analogy, but the first book was like putting long hair up in a pony tail; grab it in one bunch and tie it up. The second book was more like braiding. Divide the hair into three sections and weave them together. The third book was more like French braiding. Start at the top, weave in some side pieces to the main braid and keep repeating the adding of the side hair to the main braid until you reach the bottom. The books got harder to write because I didn’t want to drop off key characters from the previous book so I kept weaving them in. Believe me; it’s not easy to do. A few key characters were introduced in book one and they are still in book three.

  1. Please tell us in one sentence why we should read, The Accidental King of Clark Street.
The nicest compliments I’ve received came from a number of people who all said the same thing when the book was over, they all wanted to stay on Clark Street and live with the characters forever and be a part of their world.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Book of Unholy Mischief

The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark

In the deliciously, creative book of historical fiction, Elle Newmark uses books as theme and backdrop for her chapters.  I am going to try to emulate her style in this book review.

The Book of Culinary Delight
This book made my mouth water as I read about the enticing recipes made by the two main characters in the book.  The chef is Amato Ferrero and his apprentice is Luciano and they work in the palace kitchen.  The chef teaches his apprentice the meaning of life through the food they cook, which enriches the souls and minds of the people they cook for.  The magical chef holds secrets to creating culinary masterpieces.

The Book of  the Five Senses
The story takes place during the Renaissance in Venice, Italy during the year of 1498.  If you are a lover of Venice, then you must read this book to evoke the memory of Venice as it was 500 years ago.  Venice is evoked in sight by the lovely canals, the dank, dark alleys, the beautiful palaces and the rows of food at the market.  Smell is evoked by the scent of salt and fish in the air, as well as the smell of the homeless children who roam the streets. The garbage is swept into the canals while perfumed noble men walk by. Taste the peaches and pomegranates the market has to offer, the delicious food stolen or dug out of garbage cans for the hungry.  Try one of the dishes the palace chef has created.  Touch the juicy peaches and feel the measure of hard work in your palm as you embroider, cook, fish, and carry wood to make a living.  It is so luxurious to have a job and earn your own money.  Hear the seagulls as they cry, listen to the drunks on the street, the meat and onions sizzle in the pan while your mouth waters.  You are hungry again.

The Book of Unholy Mischief
Word on the street is that there is a book hiding in Venice, that holds secrets.  Secrets about the past, about the gospels, about eternal life.  People will pay a lot of money and will give titled positions to anyone who can find it.  No one is safe.  The dungeons are filling up with people who are questioned to death.  Most people cannot read or write and if you do you could be a suspect.  Books are starting to be mass produced on the newly invented printing press.  Ideas can be deadly, new ingredients scary and you need to watch your back.  Beware!

The Book and Booksnob
I started reading this book the week I visited the Renaissance festival here in town.  This really helped me evoke time and place when reading the book.  I started to use some of the author's Italian exclamations in my everyday speech, Marrone! for awhile and I dreamt about lots of delicious food.  As a history teacher, I can't wait to share this book with my class and add it to the reading list. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Accidental King of Clark Street

The Accidental King of Clark Street by Diane Dryden

Imagine Chicago in the 1960's, once bustling neighborhoods are now falling into disrepair, new immigrants are moving into the neighborhoods, the U.S. will pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Vietnam war is coming and President Kennedy has been shot.  Amongst the turmoil of the 1960's you have regular people trying to carry on their daily lives.

Meet Leon McKee.  He is a man in his 50's who has just lost his wife and becomes stuck in neutral.  He can't pay his bills, he can't bear to be home along with her memory, he is stagnated.  Thus Leon becomes a homeless man with a home he no longer wants to visit.  He takes a job as a night watchman at a laundry mat on Clark Street.

Leon meets Vivian, the manager of Band Box Cleaners and they form a friendship that transforms their lives as well as the neighborhood of Clark Street.

This book touches on the important issue of Homelessness in the 1960's as well as focusing on how a community can support and transform lives.  I really came away with a strong appreciation for community and how we each have a duty to help others if we can.  The characters were all simple regular people trying to live their lives the best way they knew how, struggling to do what they thought was best and trying to be happy. The characters could really be any one of us.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Twin Cities Book Festival

The Twin Cities Book Festival

The Twin Cities Book Festival is sponsored by Rain Taxi, a magazine that reviews books.  The Book fair was held yesterday, October 16th, at  Minneapolis Community Technical College.  I found out about this book event through a flyer at Borders bookstore and knew immediately that I wanted to attend.  This is the first time I attended the event and am glad I did.  It was a great time for me to network, meet authors and publishers and promote Booksnob. 

I talked to lots of fabulous authors, visited with some great local presses, received 10 copies of books to review and set up some future authors to be in the Hometown Track Spotlight.  It was a super exciting day!  Very productive.  Unfortunately I ran out of business cards before I made it through the exhibits, so I missed about two rows of authors and publishers but my daughter was ready to go and my hands were full.

Here is a list of authors I talked to and a list of books I received.
The Cigar Maker by Mark Carlos McGinty
Elvis and Olive by Stephanie Watson
The Butterfly Key by Andrew D. Neudecker
A Hmong Boy's Story by Yakao Yang
Finger Prints by Will Dinski
The Accidental Adult by Colin Sokolowski
Lucy's Hero.  Remembering Paul Wellstone by Karen Shragg
What's on Kolburn's Mind? by Kolburn Kersten
Far Arden by Kevin Cannon
Red Shift, Blue Shift.  The Pendulum of Time by Leslie Peterson

Authors:  I talked to a lot of authors yesterday including almost all of the author above whose books are listed.  Here are a few authors that will be featured in the author spotlight in 2011 not listed above.
Elissa Elliott
Brian Duren

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Sea of Monsters

The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson is my favorite 7th grade hero right now.  What I love about Percy is that he has ADHD, Dyslexia and is a demi-god.  My son and the author's son also have ADHD and Dyslexia and I think I have my son convinced he is a demi-god. My son faces challenges that other kids don't have to and so when a great character comes along in a book that faces similar challenges with courage, the book earns a big thumbs up.

Percy has just begun 7th grade at a new school and the year starts out great since no one has tried to kill him yet.  During gym class, he ends up playing a death match game of Dodge Ball and is forced to escape to Camp Half Blood for fear of being eaten by Cannibals.  (I loved this chapter).  Camp Half Blood is changed as Thalia's tree is poisoned and dying, Chiron is being blamed and forced to quit, Grover is dressed in a wedding gown ready to be married and eaten by his betrothed Cyclops and Percy must set off with Annabeth to the Sea of Monsters to save Grover and the camp.  It is a rollicking wild adventure and so much fun to read.  I only wish I could go to camp half blood. 

I read this book aloud to my two children this summer and just finished.  So it took me about 4 months to read 279 pages, complete with my unique voices.  I love Greek Mythology and I love that this series includes the myths with modern twist.   My kids are learning a lot and I have paired these books with George O'Connor's graphic novels on Zeus and Athena. 

If Percy Jackson and Harry Potter were to duel, I would be standing behind Percy rooting him on.  I cannot wait to read more of Percy's adventures. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Contest: The Accidental King of Clark Street

Contest:  The Accidental King of Clark Street by Diane Dryden

Diane Dryden, Hometown Track Author in the Spotlight for the month of October has graciously chosen to give away 6 personalized copies of her first book: The Accidental King of Clark Street to Booksnob followers.

The contest is open internationally and until midnight (central time) on October 31st, 2010. 

Here is the information from the back of the book via Goodreads:

Life, for Leon McKee, was going nowhere. A widower at 50, he began walking the streets of Chicago to take up the lonely hours. Then, answering an ad in the newspaper for a night watchman in a Laundromat, he meets a woman who has accepted her dull life as what she expects to have at her age. But they are both wrong. Their lives and worlds are turned upside down as a series of events change them.and the neighborhood of Clark Street. The Accidental King of Clark Street proves that love can come the second time around. Or is it really the first time, as it blossoms and grows? The most unusual, poignant story of love and transformation you'll ever read! 

Please fill out the form:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Final Readathon Update and end of readathon meme

 Final Readathon Update and end of Readathon meme

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

I think the hour that was the hardest was the one right before I went to bed between 3am and 4am.
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

Ellen Hopkins is an author whose books that are high interest and super compelling, quick reads.  They are young adult and definite page turners.
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
I would suggest having a page where people can put in the charity they are reading for so that others can sponsor them and/or check out the charity.
4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
This is my first time participating in Dewey's 24 hour readathon.  So I guess I thought everything went pretty well.
5. How many books did you read?
Three and 1/4 books.
6. What were the names of the books you read?
I finished The Book of Unholy Mischief (about 78 pages)by Elle Newmark in the morning.
The Accidental King of Clark Street by Diane Dryden
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams and
Fallout by Ellen Hopkins
7. Which book did you enjoy most?
Fallout, only because I have read the other two books in the series and it was the one I was most invested in finishing, which is why I saved it for the middle of the night.  I knew it would keep me awake.
8. Which did you enjoy least?
I enjoyed all of the books and my time spent doing what I love: Reading.
9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
I really enjoyed cheering.  Can't think of any advice right now other than I really needed people cheering me on in the middle of the night and no one commented after midnight.
10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
I will probably participate again as a reader and cheerleader.  It was fun but I am definitely exhausted.  I really liked reading for charity and wished more readers did this, it was very motivating for me.


24 hour Readathon update #?

My final update for the night and it is 4am and just 3 hours in the readathon to go.  I just finished reading Fallout by Ellen Hopkins.  She is my author of choice for all future readathons.  So here are totals and then I am bidding everyone goodnight as I can't stay awake any longer.

 Pages read:  960
Time reading:  11 hours
Can't remember how many challenges I did right now.
I cheered several times during the readathon
My pillow is calling Goodnight.

 Read A- Thon Update:  Ok, it is 2am and I am fighting to stay awake.  I am now reading in a very uncomfortable computer chair.  My back hurts and I just got a snack since I don't drink coffee.  What else keeps people awake?
Pages read: 751
Time reading:  8 hours and 56 minutes.  OK next time I post, I need to make up these for minutes.
Cheerleaders, I need you!!!

Read-A-Thon Update. Midnight

Pages read so far:  588
Time spent reading:  7 hours and 56 minutes
Book completed: 2
Challenges completed: 5
Distractions:  computer, tired eyes, dog
Try really hard not to fall asleep. OMG, I am tired.
Fallout is an excellent book and I am counting on Ellen Hopkins to keep me awake for a few more hours.
I feel like my typing is slurred, possibly I am drunk on words.

NO pictures for this post, Blogger is acting funny.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

24 hour Readathon update

Read-A-Thon update #2.

Pages read so far:  293
Hours read so far:  5 hours and 51 minutes
Challenges entered:  3

OK, things are picking up here.  My daughter spent the afternoon playing with a friend so I had time to read and do a few challenges.  I just completed reading a book and am ready to start my 3rd book today.  I just finished reading The Accidental King of Clark Street by Diane Dryden.  It was a lighthearted fun read and reminded me how important it is to be part of a community, like the book blogging community. 

My goal is read 1000 pages and I am a bit behind.  So my next book is going to be a quick read and then I am on to a young adult novel written in prose called Fallout by Ellen Hopkins.  It is almost 700 pages and will hopefully put me where I want to be at the end of the readathon.

The charity I am reading for is The Women's Prison Book Project and I have several sponsors.  I am sponsoring myself for a penny a page.  I feel that by reading for a charity it is pushing me to keep going. 

So now comes the hard part, staying awake late into the night.

Pet Pics and Prose mini challenge for the readathon

Pet Pics and Prose mini challenge
Here is my adorable dog Titus who incidentally loves books.  He always has to smell what I am reading and he frequently gives my books little kisses.

My favorite book featuring an animal is The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.
The Rabbit doesn't have a name in the book other than rabbit.  I think I will re-read this book for the challenge later.

For the challenge we are supposed to write a sentence using the first letter of the animal's name in the book for all the words.  I will use the letter R since the main animal character goes by the name of Rabbit.  I doubt this will make any sense but here goes.

Sentence:  Rabbit reads red raspberry rings in a really reliable realm.

Armchair Traveling mini-challenge for the Readathon

Armchair Travel:  I am a big fan of traveling through books and today's challenge has taken me to Venice in Italy, Spain, and the streets of Chicago.  I will try and show you a few landmarks.

In The Book of Unholy Mischief, I spent a lot of time reading about the Rialto.  Here is a picture of the Rialto bridge and a gondola in the canals of Venice.  Can I just say, that I desperately want to visit Venice.  It looks so beautiful.

The next stop in The Book of Unholy Mischief is Cadiz, Spain.  It was a Moorish stronghold and so the picture of the city below, I hope, presents a Moorish temple or a Catholic Cathedral.  I have never heard of this city in Spain until I read about it today and searched for a photo for the mini-challenge.  It is beautiful.  I think I need to go on a Mediterranean cruise.

Lastly, I present an image of Clark Street in Chicago, Illinois.  I have been to Chicago but not to this street.  The novel I am currently reading takes place on this street, it is called, The Accidental King of Clark Street.


So I have traveled far and wide today and hope to continue to a new city or country.

24 Read-a-Thon update

My Read-A-Thon Update:

Pages read so far: 78
Time read:  90 minutes

I am feeling sad about my progress so far as we are into the 5th hour and I haven't gotten much accomplished.  I am the sole care giver of my 9 year old daughter this weekend and I have had to make breakfast, take her to ice skating lessons, etc and so that is where my time has gone.  I have finished reading one book, as I only 78 pages left in it and so I will make lunch for my daughter and settle in for a long afternoon of reading on the porch swing.  Hopefully my daughter will pick up a book as well and we can both snuggle with our dog on the patio.  The book I finished today is:  The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark.  It was really enjoyable. 

The book I am reading next is called The Accidental King of Clark Street by Diane Dryden.  She is my Hometown Track Author in the Spotlight this month.  I can't wait to disappear in a good book.  So off I go to make lunch, maybe cheer-lead for 15 minutes and possible take on a challenge.  I will check back in when I finish the book later this afternoon.  See ya.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Her Fearful Symmetry

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

As we take our tour through Her Fearful Symmetry, I would like to point out some important details for you to ponder.  First of all, let me welcome you to Highgate Cemetery in North London, a most historical place with many famous burials located within our walls.  It is our first stop on the tour and the background of the book.

 Notice as you enter the gates, the high stone arches and look around at all the beautiful stone statues located above the family crypts.  The artistry is lovely but also notice the plant and wildlife located here.  As old cemeteries go, this one is full of character and history.  Beware of Ghosts and Be sure to stop by the family crypt when your in town.

Let's cross the street and visit the flat in London where the main characters live.  There are three large flats located in the building.  The flat on the ground floor is owned by Elspeth, who dies early on in the novel and leaves her flat to her twin sisters children, who also happen to be twins.  There names are Veronica and Julia.  There are secrets and strange happenings in this flat. When you enter the flat notice how cold your skin feels, it is quite natural to get the chills here so remember your sweater.

The middle flat is owned by Robert, who is a tour guide of the Highgate Cemetery.  He happened to be Elspeth's lover before she died and he misses her terribly.  The twins are a welcome distraction when he is not busy working on his thesis on Highgate cemetery.  Veronica is his favorite.  There really isn't much to see here except Elspeth's personal diary which details her relationship with her twin, Edie, and divulges their secrets.

The top flat is owned by a man named Martin who has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and cannot leave his flat.  It is definitely a sight to see.  There are boxes everywhere and paper on the windows.  He became friends with Julia while trying to be a better man for his wife.  Watch your step and be careful not to injure yourself.  The newspapers on the front step are in a precarious place.  

Well, this concludes our tour of Her Fearful Symmetry.  Please leave your comments in the green box along with a small donation to keep the cemetery open.

Thank you all for coming.  I hope you had a lovely tour today.
 Your book guide,

I received this book through Crazy Book Tours.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I am participating in Dewey's 24 hour Read-A-Thon on Saturday

Hi Everyone,

I am happy to announce that I will be participating in Dewey's 24 hour Read-a-thon on Saturday, October 9th.  This will be the first time I have participated in a Dewey's 24 hour reading marathon and I am super excited about it. 

I will be reading for charity.  The charity I have chosen is called The Women's Prison Book Project.  It is a Minneapolis based non-profit.  Please check out the website HERE and read on for more information about The Women's Prison Book Project.  I would love it if you would consider sponsoring me per page or per hour or even a flat rate donation of 5 bucks would be great.  I am sponsoring myself at a penny a page and I hope to read at least 1000 pages.

I am also a cheerleader for the read-a-thon, so one hour out of my day will be devoted to cheering on other readers!  Go Readers!  I also plan to complete at least one reading challenge in between books.  I actually have 3 books picked out to read right now and am getting excited.  My husband and son are out of town so I will also be taking care of my daughter and hoping to entice her to read an hour or so.  

Here is more information about The Women's Prison Book Project:  WPBP does not have any paid staff--all donations benefit women in prison directly. We use the funds to buy books, pay for postage, and purchase mailing supplies. Your donation means more women in prison receive books they requested from us.

Since 1994, the Women’s Prison Book Project (WPBP) has provided women and transgender –identified persons in prison with free reading materials covering a wide range of topics from law and education (dictionaries, GED, etc.) to fiction, politics, history, and women’s health. We are an all volunteer, grassroots organization. We seek to build connections with those behind the walls, and to educate those of us on the outside about the realities of prison and the justice system.
Of the more than two million people confined in U.S. prisons and jails, over 150,000 are women.  Eighty percent of these women are there for non–violent crimes, such as shoplifting, prostitution, drug related convictions, and fraud.  Of the women convicted of violent crimes, the vast majority were convicted for defending themselves or their children from abuse.  More than 1/2 of all women in prison are women of color, and two–thirds of women in prison have at least one child under eighteen.  Most of these mothers had primary custody of their children before going to prison.
These facts mean that women in prison have specific needs for particular kinds of information: material on families, children, women's self–help, women's health, and legal aid pertaining to women who fight back against their abusers.  There are also many lesbian, bisexual, and transgender prisoners who often have trouble obtaining information that is relevant to their lives.  As new prisons are built to warehouse the growing number of incarcerated people in the U.S., the meager resources previously available to prisoners are being cut or limited to only a few. WPBP is one place where women/transgender persons in prison can get information that is often unavailable from any other source. WPBP works to support prisoners; and through that solidarity work to empower prisoners themselves and build connections through prison walls.

We recognize that prisons and the entire “justice” system are about controlling and suppressing the lives/movements of the poor, women, and all people of color. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and that is no accident.We urge all progressive people to include prison issues as an integral part of the struggle for sweeping social change. In keeping with this view we also acknowledge that as activists on the outside it is vital to provide whatever material support that WPBP can to women political prisoners and prisoners of war in U.S. prisons and jails.