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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Saner, better shopping for Christmas

I am not someone who does their Christmas shopping early. Ever.

But I do try to find the right gifts for people (even if I do buy them late). :-)

But this year was a wonderful shopping experience for me AND I felt like the gifts were more particularly selected. In looking at ideas for the bookstore, I also found beautiful, unique gifts at local markets and shops, such as Eastern Market, Politics and Prose, McLean Craft Fair, The Grape Juice and others.

...which also allowed me to shop and buy locally, from local businesses...and to get ideas for artists whose work I'd like to sell in my shop. The ABA's Indiebound program is all about recognizing the contribution of bookstores and other local merchants to the local economy and community - maybe it's finally sinking in with me.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Whoohooo...we're #2!

#2 is pretty darn good considering the competition. Shelf Awareness noted: "Seattle has once again topped the list of America's most literate cities, but this year Washington, D.C., edged traditional literate city powerhouse Minneapolis as a surprise runner-up."

America's most literate cities for 2009:

Portland, Ore.
St. Paul

The annual study by Jack Miller, president of Central Connecticut State University, "focuses on six indicators: newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment and Internet resources," USA Today reported.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The mystery binge continues

In my independent bookstore prowl, I continue to pick up more books. Faster than I can read them, but I enjoy trying to keep up.

Recently finished The Italian Secretary by Caleb Carr, author of The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness. This is a change up from those books in both location and cast of characters, moving from Dr. Laszlo Kreizler in New York City to Sherlock Holmes in Scotland. I liked it quite a bit, but not as much as the Alienist which I love.
"The Italian Secretary captivates." - Publishers Weekly.

Another book add to the reading list...City of Silver by Annamaria Alfieri. Read Daniel Mallory's review in the Washington Post: "...Densely brocaded with period detail, "City of Silver" reads like an El Doradan "Name of the Rose," all cloistered intrigue and New World decadence." Having spent several weeks in Peru and Bolivia and reading up on the history, I look forward to reading this book. What's the term for a history mystery??

Monday, December 14, 2009

Another adult book related to a children's book

First, Neverland: J. M. Barrie, The Du Mauriers, and the Dark Side of Peter Pan by Piers Dudgeon and now...

Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin due out January 12, 2010.
"The story about the inspiration for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass concentrates on Alice Liddell: we savor the richly imagined life of a privileged child, a young woman smitten with a prince, a society wife and mother, an elderly widow, and of course "Alice," the perennial Child...As this marvelous novel opens, in 1932, Alice Liddell Hargreaves is starting a letter to her son:

"But oh my dear, I am tired of being Alice in Wonderland. Does it sounds (sound?) ungrateful? It is. Only I do get tired.

"Only I do get tired.

"I pause, place the pen down next to the page and massage my aching hand; the joints of my fingers, in particular, are stiff and cold and ugly like knots on a tree. One does get tired of so many things, of course, when one is eighty; not the least of which is answering endless letters.

"However, I cannot say that, not to my own son."
(From Shelf Awareness Maximum Shelf Oct 26, 2009)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Still shopping? More books suggestions because Indiebound says...

Some new and others not so new...
The Monster in the Box by Ruth Rendell.  Last book featuring Reginald Wexford, Chief Inspector of Kingsmarkham, UK.  "One of the best written detective series genre" says Michael Sims of the Washington Post.

The Race for Timbuktu by Frank T. Kryza. Read Jonathan Yardley's review of the story of the expedition to find and lay claim to the riches of this fabled city.

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner. Read Weiner in the Washington Post on undertaking this adventure, starting with: "I am not a happy person, never have been. As a child, my favorite Winnie-the-Pooh character was Eeyore."

Shadows Still Remain by Peter de Jonge (co-writer of three of James Patterson's best-sellers). Patrick Anderson's review in the Washington Post concludes: "When the crime-fiction aficionados set out to pick their best first novel of the year, "Shadows Still Remain" will be a contender."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Misc musings on NYC, e-books, fairies and Steig Larsson

Really looking forward to going to NYC this weekend to visit my college roomies and to visit some indie bookstores AND catch up with a new friend whose store is scheduled to open in January. Hope to check out several of these...

Idlewild Books at 12 West 19th Street (near 5th Avenue)- a travelers mecca - my dream store.

And several in Brooklyn, which seems to be home to many independent bookstore:

BookCourt at 163 Court Street (between Pacific & Dean)
Greenlight Bookstore at 686 Fulton Street - I think it just opened this past fall
WORD bookstore at 126 Franklin Street

Freebird Books & Goods at 123 Columbia St.

And a few more...
Three Lives & Co. at 154 West 10th Street
St, Mark's Bookshop at 31 Third Avenue
Book Culture – 2915 Broadway

Good books...
Always love it when a friend is enthused about a book as much as I am -- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, the first of his trilogy with Lisbeth Salandar. Fans love this series so much that booksellers are purchasing the final book in the trilogy from the UK where it has already been released. It's unclear why it will take several months to be released in the U.S.

"HarperCollins became the third major publisher in two days to make the decision to delay e-book publication of selected titles in 2010. Simon & Schuster and Hachette had made a similar announcement earlier (Shelf Awareness, December 10, 2009)."
Not sure that I agree with this strategy -- ebooks will come whether they're delayed or not.

Last but not a switch from omnipresent vampires in teen novels, Fragile Eternity is a book about fairies, but they're kick-ass fairies who are way stronger than humans, who fight and are flawed. Fragile Eternity is the third book from Melissa Marr and her Wicked Lovely universe. It is the sequel to her first book, Wicked Lovely, and includes characters from her second book, Ink Exchange. And of course it involves star-crossed lovers...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"Because cheese and crackers never changed anyone's life"

"The value of books... because cheese and crackers never changed anyone's life: When people get yet another basket filled with fruit or wine or cheese and crackers--it is hard to remember who sent what--but when they receive a book or a basket of feels thoughtful and personal and memorable."
--An e-mail newsletter sent by Roxanne Coady, owner of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Conn., promoted "Corporate Gift Ideas."

Friday, December 4, 2009

Yum...I KNEW I liked this guy

...He's from Piscataway and his book is about New Jersey
...The cover of said book, I Shudder, features marshmallow peeps.
...And now...he lives on candy!

In the NY Times interview, Living for Candy, and Sugar-Coated Goblins, Paul Rudnick "reveals a horrible truth no parent wants published: It is possible, it seems, to live on candy."

"Mr. Rudnick is the living proof. At 51, 5-foot-10 and an enviably lean 150 pounds, Mr. Rudnick does not square with the inevitable mental image of a man who has barely touched a vegetable other than candy corn in nearly a half-century."

The Recipe Club:  A Tale of Food and Friendship by Nancy Garfinkel, Andrea Israel

“I’ve been to many combat zones, so I kn ow a real fight when I see one—and the characters in this book pull no punches. But what surprised me is how their conflict is just as engaging as their crazy humor and deep affection for each other. This book perfectly combines my two favorite things in the world: fiction and food. It's a great read.”—Bob Woodruff, ABC News anchor and journalist

Cate Blanchette in Arlington

Yes, she was visiting Aladdin's Lamp, the children's bookstore right across the street from me.  Sounds like she and her children were there for a while persuing the wide selection of books and toys.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Driveway moment with the Smothers Brothers

It was what NPR calls "driveway moments." I got home, but stayed in the car to listen to the end of Terry Gross' interview with David Bianculli, author of Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour."(yes, I want this book)

Publisher description:  "A behind-the-scenes look at the rise and fall of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour -- the provocative, politically charged program that shocked the censors, outraged the White House, and forever changed the face of television."

"Decades before The Daily Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour proved there was a place on television for no-holds-barred political comedy with a decidedly antiauthoritarian point of view...."

"...Before it was suddenly removed from the CBS lineup (reportedly under pressure from the Nixon administration), The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour was a ratings powerhouse. It helped launch the careers of comedy legends such as Steve Martin and Rob Reiner, featured groundbreaking musical acts like the Beatles and the Who, and served as a cultural touchstone for the antiwar movement of the late 1960s."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

And more...

Finished two advance reader editions of teen books that now go off to the real critic, my niece, who is a much more thorough and critical reviewer than I. There are both first books from these authors.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. Release date: 3/2/2010. Like Groundhog Day, but more serious. I liked it.
From publisher: "What if you only had one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?"

"Samantha Kingston has it all: the world’s most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life."

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. Release date: March 2010. Very quick read and I liked it.
From publisher: "This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie’s struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable."

...An observation after reading several teen books in succession -- there's a lot of death.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

So many books I want to read and am reading - Part 1

The pile of books in my rooms keeps get higher and higher. I have become a book addict. I can't visit an indie bookstore without finding a least 3 books I MUST HAVE. In the meantime, I'm still reading the advance copies of books from the NAIBA show.

So in no particular order, these books look interesting...

Neverland: J.M. Barrie, the Du Mauriers, and the Dark Side of Peter Pan by Piers Dudgeon a nutshell, it sounds totally twisted.

Strange Things Happen by Stewart Copeland
"The world knows Stewart Copeland as the drummer for The Police...But they may not know as much about his childhood in the Middle East as the son of an agent for the CIA. Or his film-making adventures with the Pygmies in the deepest Congo." HarperStudio a nutshell, if it's anything like his movie, Everyone Stares, it will be great and a lot of fun.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ehh...not that crazy about this book

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. "A true-crime murder story and hugely entertaining and deliciously perverse travelogue." Maybe I'm like my nephew who is also struggling with Southern literature. It did make me want to visit Savannah, but I wasn't excited about reading it (meaning, it didn't make me stay up too late).

Also finished Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins which will be coming out in March 2010. Sophie Mercer, a witch, gets sent off to Hex Hall for a prom-night spell that doesn't go exactly as planned (but it's pretty funny). Mmmmm...not in love with this one either. Am sending off to my niece for review - she's a tougher critic than me.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wine and Murder

I haven't read any of Ellen Crosby's books yet, but she's now on the list. How could I not want to read books that combine some of my favorite vices - wine and mystery books. With titles like:
The Chardonnay Charade
The Bordeaux Betrayal
The Merlot Murders

I'm ready to open a bottle of wine and crack open a book (and she's from Northern VA, so maybe I can get her to come to the store for a reading and wine tasting!).

Cate Blanchett in Arlington

Yes, she and her kids were visiting Aladdin's Lamp, the children's indie bookstore right across the street from my house.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

You already knew this about friends...

but it's always good to have confirmation. In her NY Times article, What Are Friends for? A Longer Life”, Tara Parker Pope, notes that people "overlook a powerful weapon that could help them fight illness and depression, speed recovery, slow aging and prolong life: their friends." Thanks, guys!!!!

Still reading...more on the mystery binge:
Corpus Christmas by Margaret Maron - look, a holiday murder book.
Friends in High Places by one of my favorites, Donna Leon. I enjoy settling into the grey area that is Venice (and I mean that in the best of all possible ways).

Friday, November 6, 2009

Two of my favorite things - together!

"The American Booksellers Association and NPR will join forces beginning November 13 'to provide thoughtful bestsellers and unique book coverage to readers, both on and,' Bookselling This Week reported. NPR Books will publish four weekly bestseller lists--hardcover fiction, hardcover nonfiction, paperback fiction and paperback nonfiction--using the Indie Bestseller List feeds"(from Shelf Awareness, 11/6/09).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Body Finder and In the Woods

Starting off strong..."The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest finished second on the U.K.'s book charts last week...according to book sales monitor Nielsen BookScan. It came in behind Dan Brown's thriller The Lost Symbol..." (Shelf Awareness, October 8, 2009). US release for Hornets' Nest scheduled for October 31st.

From last week's New Atlantic region indie book conference...Just finished the advanced reading copy of The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting. While I'm older than the target audience (by far!), I really enjoyed the mystery.
Described as: "A serial killer on the loose...A girl with a morbid ability...And the boy who would never let anything happen to her." On-Sale date: 3/16/2010.

Already out, In the Woods by Tana French. Best described by Nancy Pearl on NPR's Morning Edition: "...intense debut novel...part whodunit, part psychological thriller, and wholly successful...French's plot twists and turns will bamboozle even the most astute reader." Winner of the 2007 Edgar Award for Best First Novel

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Some quick notes

When my sister visited, she left some books and I just finished reading one of them - The Tenderness of Wolves, the debut book of Stef Penney. Not sure if I would have picked up, but I really liked it. "Think Cold Mountain -- only colder...mystery, romance and really bad weather - just try putting this one down." People

Also, finished The Probable Future by Alice Hoffman, one of my favorite authors which explains why it seemed vaguely familiar; I read it a while back. Enjoyed it just as much this time around.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Zombie tips from "Never Slow Dance with a Zombie"

After totally enjoying the movie Zombieland, this book caught my attention. Never Slow Dance with a Zombie by E. Van Lowe is for teens and has received good buzz.

Excerpt from the publisher's website:
...Margot and Sybil arrive at school one day to find that most of the student body has been turned into flesh-eating zombies. When kooky Principal Taft asks the girls to coexist with the zombies until the end of the semester, they realize that this is the perfect opportunity to live out their high school dreams. All they have to do is stay alive....

Principal Taft's 3 Simple Rules for Surviving a Zombie Uprising:

Rule #1: While in the halls, walk slowly and wear a vacant expression on your face. Zombies won't attack other zombies.

Rule #2: Never travel alone. Move in packs. Follow the crowd. Zombies detest blatant displays of individuality.

Rule #3: If a zombie should attack, do not run. Instead, throw raw steak at to him. Zombies love raw meat. This display of kindness will go a long way.

Books so new that...

you can't buy them in the US yet. In my cache of advance reader edition books from the NAIBA conference, here are several more winners.

Incarceron by Catherine Fischer. 'One of this year's most striking fantasy novels' -- Amanda Craig, The Times '... imaginatively drawn and vividly described. ... an exciting adventure story.' -- School Librarian '... stands out above all others ... It's imaginative scale and gobsmacking finale make it one of the best fantasy novels written for a long time.' -- Times, Amanda Craig 'a deliciously dark and scary ride.'

The best review? A 13 year old friend races through the book and wants to share it with his friend before returning it to me. Scheduled for US release in Jan 2010.

The 13th Hour by Richard Doetsch. "A man is given the chance to go back in time in one hour increments to prevent the murder of his wife, a crime that the police think he committed." I had a little trouble getting caught up in this "murder in reverse," but once I settled into the concept, I really enjoyed it. Scheduled for release in late December 2009.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A book a day, now that's REALLY ambitious

Nina Sankovitch had a quest.

The NY Times interviewed Nina about A Quest to Read a Book a Day for 365 Days.

She started on her birthday, Oct 28th and will be closing out her year of daily book reading in the next two weeks. Wow!

AND she blogs about each book on Read All Day. I wish I could be that hardcore. (although with the stacks of books around my room, I could read a book a day and not run out for a LONG time...) word on whether she'll continue.

(Thanks for the story, My-Van!)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Random thoughts on traveling

Packing again and again...That’s how I feel when I go through the checkpoint – re-pack the computer; put my shoes on, put the liquids back in my bag and don’t hold up the line. You can tell the folks who know the drill, they’re ready to go through and quickly re-assemble.
I'm getting old because I remember when you could arrive 10 minutes before your flight and get on the plane. I remember walking off the jetway from a 17 hour flight from South Africa and my sister greeting us with flowers. I remember when friends drove you to the airport and visited until you boarded the plane. I’m probably like many others who’ve traveled this way (pre 9/11), who miss the ease, civility and feeling of adventure than has been replaced with lines,

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." ~ Mark Twain

...And why can’t we somehow collect the water we all throw away at the security checkpoint and use it water plants on the airport property or for the fountains? What a waste of a previous resource.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Just reading about The Guinea Pig Diaries had me laughing

(hint - I would like this as a gift if I don't break down and buy it myself first)

In the words of A.J. Jacobs' website (since he's way funnier than me):
"Jacobs is the editor at large at Esquire magazine and author of two New York Times bestsellers...In 2004, Simon & Schuster published The Know-It-All...spent eight weeks on the New York Times paperback bestseller list.

In 2007, The Year of Living Biblically was released...It appeared on the cover of the evangelical magazine Relevant, but was also featured in Penthouse. (Jacobs is proud to be a uniter, not a divider)."

In September of 2009, his new book -- The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment -- was published.

"These experiments wreaked havoc on my life, and drove both my wife and me to the brink of insanity, but also gave me fascinating insights." Experiments include:

My Outsourced Life:
Why should Fortune 500 companies have all the fun? I hired a team in Bangalore, India, to take care of everything in my life. And I mean everything. My e-mails, phone calls, shopping, arguments with my wife and reading bedtime stories to my son.

The Unitasker:
I was so distracted – by the internet, by my cell phone, by snacks beckoning from the kitchen – that I was four months behind deadline in writing this book. So I became the Unitasker...I unplugged my laptop, I meditated, I talked on the phone – just talked, no surfing the internet at the same time – crazy, no? (it helps that I blindfolded myself). I literally tied myself to my desk chair. It did end up changing my life. I’ve come to believe multitasking isn’t just a minor problem, it’s the Eleventh plague.

I Think You’re Fat:
I became a temporary convert to the Radical Honesty movement, which teaches that you should never, ever lie. But more than that, you should say whatever’s on your mind. You should remove the filter between your brain and your mouth. This was the worst month of my life. I had to spend the following weeks apologizing to everyone I offended. But it was also one of the most illuminating.

Whipped (a.k.a. the perfect spouse):
At the suggestion of readers who point out that my wife is a saint, I vowed to spend a month agreeing to her every command. Sure, it was a month of Kate Hudson movies and foot massages —but also of stereotype-shattering insights into the politics of the modern American marriage. Plus, at one point, I had wear a male chastity belt. (It comes in three varieties—clear plastic, wood-paneled and camouflage!) And Julie gets to write the final section.

And each of them comes with a conclusion about the lessons I’ve learned. Plus, my wife writes a rebuttal you don’t want to miss."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Can it really do that??

Having worked with infomercial companies, I'm a little suspicious of a book that helps you lose weight, obtain career success, improve relationships (while laying on the couch), but check the excerpt from Good Morning America.

How To Rule The World From Your Couch by Laura Day
From Fresh Fiction:
"In her new book...Laura Day teaches you or your company how to create success in any area by using your brain in unique and compel-ling ways so that your innate intuition can propel you ahead to successful solutions.

The step-by-step exercises included -- many of which can (and should!) be done from the comfort of your couch -- will show you how you can:

• Find and secure your dream job
• Maintain solid relationships, even at a distance
• Lose weight by reclaiming the body you were meant to have
• Know how to spot your perfect mate
• Make better investments and business decisions
• Negotiate differences in the workplace
• Have an understanding relationship with your child
• Identify which opportunities will pan out
• Project a desirable image for yourself or your product
• Anticipate and resolve difficult conflict before you walk into a situation

...Day has shown that 98 percent of success is planning and that you, therefore, have the power to transform your life."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

US release of film version of Girl with Dragon Tattoo in early 2010

From Shelf Awareness
"The film version of Stieg Larsson's novel The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo now has a U.S. distributor. Variety reported that Music Box Films acquired the U.S. rights to the Swedish thriller, "which has grossed almost $100 million internationally and has still to open in Germany. The $13 million pic, the first in the 'Millennium' trilogy based on Stieg Larsson's international bestsellers, is slated for U.S. release early next year. It has been sold to 30 territories. . . . The next pic in the trilogy, The Girl Who Played With Fire, has already taken $16 million from four foreign markets. The third film, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, is in post-production and will be released this year."

View info on film.

Monday, October 5, 2009

books, books and more books

a veritable book orgy - so much as to be somewhat overwhelming. I just left the New Atlantic Independent Bookseller Association (NAIBA) Fall Conference. Besides helpful information, contacts and wonderful, generous spirit of the independent bookstore owners, I come home with piles of books. It's lovely!

I do feel a little selfish, so if any of my friends would like to read some wonderful new books, let me know. All I ask is that you give me a thumbs up/thumbs down on the book as many of these are soon to be released new books.

More specifics on the book bounty later...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dragon Tattoo and Zombies

Nope, not the same book, but two books I finished recently.

There's a reason why Stieg Larsson has a book at the top of the hard cover and paper back mystery lists right now. Having read an excellent review of The Girl Who Played with Fire, I decided I wanted to go back and read the first book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (besides liking the title). Fresh Air (NPR) describes it far better than I: "A super-smart amalgam of the corporate corruption tale, legal thriller and dysfunctional-family psychological suspense story." And so much more...

The third book in the trilogy The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is getting great reviews and will be released in the US until October 31, 2009.

For a little background on this series and how pippi longstocking fits in...

Also finished Pride and Prejudice and the original Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy end up together and unlike the original, survive the disapproval of Lady Catherine as evidenced by the attack of her ninjas on Pemberley.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

First zombies, now sea monsters

That Jane Austen is still prolific. Following on the heels of the very popular Pride and Prejudice and the Zombies, she (along with co-author Ben H. Winters) just released Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters (note the body in serpent's mouth). Early reviews appear to be mixed. I'm in the midst of reading P & P & Zombies which is enjoyable. Winters has done a good job of blending the backdrop of killing unmentionables seamlessly into the plot, including allusions to the Bennet sisters' training for deadly combat.

Another book to check out --
Jon Krakauer, author of Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman. Krakauer has been on the Diane Rehm Show, Good Morning America and All Things Considered this past week discussing the book. I've enjoyed all of his books immensely. A brief intro from the publisher Random House:

"The bestselling author of Into the Wild, Into Thin Air, and Under the Banner of Heaven delivers a stunning, eloquent account of a remarkable young man’s haunting journey.

...Pat Tillman was an irrepressible individualist and iconoclast. In May 2002, Tillman walked away from his $3.6 million NFL contract to enlist in the United States Army. He was deeply troubled by 9/11, and he felt a strong moral obligation to join the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Two years later, he died on a desolate hillside in southeastern Afghanistan."

Winners of the 2009 NAIBA (New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association) Books of the Year prize:

Fiction: A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick (Algonquin)
Nonfiction: Hurry Down Sunshine by Michael Greenberg (Other Press)
Trade Paperback Original: Buffalo Lockjaw by Greg Ames (Hyperion)
Picture Book: The Curious Garden by Peter Brown (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)
Children's Literature: If I Stay by Gayle Forman (Dutton)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Couldn't be more different

but in their own way, the reviews for these books captured my attention.

Washington Post reviewer, Carolyn See grabbed me with the word "stunned" and "high quality of the prose" in the first paragraph of her review of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nichaolas D. Kritoff and Sheryl WuDunn.

From See's Sept 11, 2009 review: "...this book is not a sermon about victims. Its range is wide, and sometimes it's even funny. In a wonderful, mordantly amusing chapter about big groups trying to impose their views on cultures they don't understand, the authors describe fundamentalist Christians trying as hard as they can to prevent contraception, and secular elites trying as hard as they can to advance it. But, as Kristof and WuDunn remind us, if you're down-and-out in a Congolese jungle, the Christian missionaries will be the ones there to provide you with food and medication."

On a totally different note,I Shudder: And Other Reactions to Life, Death, and New Jersey by Paul Rudnick...
1) The cover - peeps! 2) NJ. (in fact, the author was born in Piscataway - Rutgers, my alma mater).
From Harper Collins: "...a side-splittingly funny collection of essays from Paul Rudnick, one of America’s preeminent humorists. Rudnick, who writes for The New Yorker and has written the screenplays for the films In and Out, Sister Act, and Addams Family Values, shares his hilarious observations on life in New York City and New Jersey, the perils of show business, and dealing with one’s family, however crazy they may be."
Featured September 12, 2009 on Studio 360

Sunday, September 13, 2009

It's Donna Leon

Whoever is traveling to Venice soon and asked me about the mystery writer -- It's Donna Leon. Her Commissario Brunetti series always bring me to the unique atmosphere of Venice. All this thinking about it made me pick up one of hers I haven't read yet -- Friends in High Places (while visiting a top DC independent bookstore, Politics and Prose).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Growing Up Dead

With all the talk surrounding the 40th Anniversary, is it any surprise that I want to read Growing Up Dead: The Hallucinated Confessions of a Teen-Age Dead Head by Peter Connors? I'm ready to take a long, strange trip.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Beware the crows

Everyone who knows me has hear me talk about the crows story on crows recognize us and that if you do something mean to one of the crows, they tell all their other crow friends and the next think you know, it's like the movie "The Birds."

So here's the scoop from NPR
The Crow Paradox

"Here's a surprise: Wild crows can recognize individual people. They can pick a person out of a crowd, follow them, and remember them — apparently for years....
..If you want to hear researchers describe what it's like to alienate a crow, and then be razzed and harassed by its family and neighbors wherever they go — tennis courts, ATM machines, parking lots — listen to our radio story. We'll also tell you how unbelievably long a crow can keep a grudge."

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Guilty Pleasures

while my niece is here.

13 going on 30 with Jennifer Garner
Elevation Burger + lots of french fries
Harry Potter Movie
Reading Twilight series
Buttered popcorn with movies
Lots of hanging out


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Books I've read lately

Even thought it's been crazy, there's always time to read...

The Westing Game by Ellen Baskin, recommended by my niece. I always love a good mystery and a Newberry Award winner.

New Moon
by Stephenie Meyer. Harlequin Romance, quick read, doesn't require thought.

The King's English: Adventures of an Independent Bookseller by Betsy Burton. Loved the stories and travails of owning a bookstore and all the book recommendations.

A Duty to the Dead
: A Bess Crawford Mystery by Charles Todd. Due for release in Sept 09. Not usually a fan of historical novels, but this was a great mystery read.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Like the devil on my shoulder

the decision to to start "What would Keith Richards Do?" or continue reading "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity."

Friday, July 3, 2009

Interesting reads (or at least titles that get your attention)

Why We Suck by Denis Leary
Review from Fresh Fiction
A hilarious blast of scathing irreverence......Dr. Denis Leary uses his common sense, and his biting and hilarious take on the world, to attack the politically correct, the hypocritical, the obese, the thin--basically everyone who takes themselves too seriously.
He does so with the extra oomph of a doctorate bestowed upon him by his alma mater Emerson College. “Sure it’s just a celebrity type of thing--they only gave it to me because I’m famous...But it’s legal and it means I get to say I’m a doctor--just like Dr. Phil.”

Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? by Peter Walsh
I just like the title of this book; it didn't get a really good review (ironically, one of the words used was "bloated")

But Wait ... There's More! by Remy Stern
Tighten Your Abs, Make Millions, and Learn How the $100 Billion Infomercial Industry Sold Us Everything But the Kitchen Sink
(again, I couldn't resist the title having a little experience in the infomerical world...and a weird world it is)
Review from Fresh Fiction

"...admit it: you or someone you know has bought one—and you're not alone. Last year, one out of every three Americans picked up the phone and ordered a product from a television infomercial or home shopping network, and in But Wait . . . There's More! journalist (and infomercial addict) Remy Stern offers a lively, behind-the-scenes exploration of this enormous business—one that markets the world's most outrageous products using the most outrageous tactics."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The REAL Best Sellers List

The Indie Bestseller List
Bestseller List for June 25, 2009
Based on sales for the week ending June 21, 2009

1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
2. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
3. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
4. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
5. The Shack by William P. Young (recommended by several people I know)
6. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, Jane Austen (on my picks list!)
7. Netherland by Joseph O'Neill
8. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult (snatched this one from Jackie)
9. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
10. City of Thieves by David Benioff

For an independent bookstore store near you (I hope this will be me SOON), call 1-888-266-5736 or visit

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Relaxing on the beach

Waves crashing
Eyes closed
Gulls screaming
Voices murmur
Children shrieking
I sleep

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What do Fu Manchu and Gary Indiana have in common?

Answer: The Shanghai Gesture
Written by Gary Indiana

Fu Manchu, Scotland Yard detective who is of course a heroin addict, an opium den (natch), Lands End, England (the site of the nefarious plot), narcolepsy...

Read a review by the Washington Post' s Michael Dirda, someone with a scary knowledge of the Fu Manchu backstory. How could you not keep reading a review that starts:

"Tremble, ye mortals, at the sound of that name! Yes, we're speaking of the insidious Dr. Fu Manchu! The yellow peril incarnate -- the gigantic intellect with a brow like Shakespeare's and a face like Satan's, the greatest criminal mastermind of all time..."

and FYI...PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES - is now #4 on the NY Times Trade paperback best seller list.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

One More Page...

or just read to the end of this chapter and then I'll go to sleep. Pleeeeazzzze...

What a great name for a bookstore, right?

Sent the first piece of paperwork off today to start the ball rolling on the bookstore. While I have spent a lot of time developing the plan, meeting with people and going to class, I consider this my first official step - YEA!!!

A journey of a thousand miles began with a single step.
Attributed to Lao-tzu (c 604-c 531 bc), founder of Taoism

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined.
Henry David Thoreau

Monday, May 25, 2009

Travel tip for books

Don't put your new book in the same pocket of your pack with a water bottle unless you are ABSOLUTELY sure the water bottle will not open. Otherwise prepare to read that book in about a week when it dries out.

Hidden Talents and Creativity

As I share my bookstore plans with a wider circle of friends and acquaintances, I'm been amazed and blessed with the resounding positive feedback as well as the offers of help.

Talents and expertise that I wasn't aware of have been generously offered and the suggestions and assistance on possible events and promotions have left me amazed at the creativity of my friends (although a number of folks have suggested wine and beer tastings...);-)

Things are moving along and I hope to update the site with the latest (after I actually get some things done this week).

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Wisdom (!?!?!?) of Keith Richards

Here's one for your must-read list: What Would Keith Richards Do?: Daily Affirmations from a Rock and Roll Survivor by Jessica Pallington West.

"What is a wise man? What is a prophet?

Someone with a strange, unflappable demeanor. Someone who speaks in cryptic koans, words whose meanings take years to unravel. Someone who has confronted death, God, sin, and the immortal soul. Someone unfit for this world, but too brilliant to depart it. Someone, in short, like Keith Richards.

Here, at last, the wisdom of this indefatigable man is recorded and set forth. These are his visionary words: “I would rather be a legend than a dead legend.” Or “Whatever side I take, I know well that I will be blamed.” And—indeed—“I’ve never had a problem with drugs, only with policemen.”

Not merely a compendium of wisdom, this book is also a complete guide to the inner workings of a complex and inspired belief system, and the life of a man sanctified by fame. What Would Keith Richards Do? reminds us to learn from our mistakes, let our instincts lead us, and above all, do what Keith has done better than anyone—survive." From Amazon

...a great b'day gift for me (hint, hint...)

Monday, May 11, 2009

a First Class poem

Creased jeans
Gleaming loafers
Open jacket
Casually confident
Disinterested air
First Class

...At least that's how it looked as I waited in the economy/cattle line to get on the plane in London.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

More Peeps + Gary Larson

Nope, can't get enough and I have lots of friends and family who feed my peeps obsession. Loved the grand-prize winner from the Pitts Post-Gazette Contest - Nancy Becker with "S'Mores Motel"

"...two uneasy Peeps lying in a foreboding motel room. The couple repose on a chocolate bed with Graham cracker bunny is thinking: 'I have a bad feeling about this place.'"

Just like one of my favorite Gary Larson Far Side cartoons about the ill-fated slug vacation to the Great Salt Lake - Slug Vacation Disasters.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The neatherworld (or Heathrow in the wee small hours...)

(...from a few days ago) In the netherworld of travel when you're neither here nor there and nothing exists but the plane and the airport. Every face I see searches desparately for something familiar.

We're all here together, but looking past each other. Where getting a cup of tea can feel like an overwhelming challenge - what currency do I need; how does the queue work; how do I order...

It's strange that when I'm traveling the people I've left and people I'm going to are not uppermost in my mind. It's like navigating and exising in unfamiliar situations leaves me no mind for the normal things of life - whether it's an airport in London, Hong Kong, Lima or Lisbon.

But at the end of the journey, I'll forget all this and hug my sister and have that cup of tea.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A world away

Prague...need I say more??

Saturday, April 25, 2009

It's kind of like dating

Just like you don't appreciate the people closest to you until someone ELSE does, I forget how great Baltimore can be until friends from somewhere else re-introduces me to it.

Meeting Jackie and Dave and heading out to Mama's On the Half Shell for Orange Crush and John Daly Crush was just what I needed after an insane week. Who knew there was such a thing as tea-flavored vodka?

Now it's off to Prague!!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

2 more identified...

The creator of this lovely diorama "As Seen on Peeps TV" said there were 16 infomercial products shown here. I found 8 and then reached out for some expert assistance to under the remaining 8:
1 Snuggie
2 Perfect Pullup
3 Doggy Steps
4 Aqua Globes
5 Cash 4 Gold
6 Shamwow
7 Tempurpedic adjustable bed
8 book light

One of my experts found:
9 bedazzler on the chest of drawers
10 for SURE a thighmaster on the bunny on the floor

only 6 more to go!

Sunday, April 19, 2009


My friend, Jackie, just busted me on the last post because I always SAY I'm going to slow down and not do as many things, but every time she talks to me I have something going on every night.

I said that that was the reason I needed to read these books -- one day it will start to sink in. The scary thing is that I do say No to lots of things. If I don't start saying No to more things, my bookstore will be take longer to start up and I will miss spending time just hanging out with family and friends.

So...said no to everything next week to hang out with Jackie and Dave in Baltimore and to check out 2 bookstores...if there's time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009 on the edge..."Margin" by Richard A. Swenson

You get a clearer idea of the book with the full title: Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard A. Swenson, M.D.

"Overload is the disease of our time. Margin is the cure."
"Margin is the space that once existed between ourselves and our limits. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations."

It's not that Dr. Swenson is saying something we haven't heard before or shouldn't instinctively know, but it seems we need to keep hearing it. Maybe one day it will sink in and we will say "No" to taking on one more thing.

Life is to enjoy, not endure (not sure who said that). And to paraphrase Stephen Covey, the enemy of the best is the good. We're all doing good things, but when there isn't time to do everything, can we stop long enough to figure out what the best things are?

So another book with practical ideas on creating space/margin in our lives is a good thing.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

without further ado...Wash Post Peeps Diorama Contest

Results of this year's Peeps diorama contest from the Washington Post Peeps Show III.

We were worried it had fallen victim to cost cutting measures, but it was back in all its glory. The creativity amazes me - the winner was Edward Hopper's Nighthawks painting.

Other favorites included Miracle on the Hudson, Peeps in Escher's "Relativity", The Peeps of Wrath and As Seen on Peeps TV (with 16 As Seen on TV products!). Enjoy!

(Snuggie, Perfect Pullup, Doggy Steps, Aqua Globes, Cash 4 Gold, Shamwow, Tempurpedic adjustable bed, book light - I think I've found 8 so far.)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

"Sunshine Cleaning" Smiles

I found myself smiling often during Sunshine Cleaning. While I expected to like it, I also really felt for the characters. You'll like it (and considering that crime scene clean-up is involved, it's not that gory).

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What are you doing with your Peeps?

Besides being yummy, peeps spark creativity as evidenced by these creations from a Washington Post contest. View the gallery.

I love peeps. Yes, I know they're pure sugar and will rot my teeth. I don't care as long as they're stale.

If you have allergies, according to the official Marshmallow Peeps website, PEEPS® Brand Marshmallow Candies have 0 fat grams, are gluten free, and are nut free. Whew!!

And if you want to have the sweet taste of peeps with at all times, try Peeps Lip Balm, yumm...Strawberry Marshmallow Cream.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Jane Austin, Zombies, who knew?

I can't make this stuff up.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! By Jane Austin and Seth Grahame-Smith.

Opening up a whole new audience for this classic book by incorporating a mysterious plague, zombies and subsequent zombie warfare, Grahame-Smith also introduces a new set of complications to the romantic entanglements of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy.

Due to the buzz, the release date for the book has been moved up several times, so expect to see it any day. And, I read there's already talk of a movie...wonder what Colin Firth is up to?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

and if the title doesn't grab you...

the review will...
Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible by David Plotz, a writer with Slate magazine.

From Booklist: "At a time when wars are fought over scriptural interpretation, when the influence of religion on American politics has never been greater, when many Americans still believe in the Bible's literal truth, it has never been more important to get to know the Bible. Good Book is what happens when a regular guy—an average Job—actually reads the book on which his religion, his culture, and his world are based.

Along the way, he grapples with the most profound theological questions: How many commandments do we actually need? Does God prefer obedience or good deeds? And the most unexpected ones: Why are so many women in the Bible prostitutes? Why does God love bald men so much? Is Samson really that stupid?"

No April Fools, here's where it's at

The book train continues to roll along. Hopefully I'm the driver and not the guy handing off the caboose (apologies to my nephews for not using Thomas the Tank Engine).

So for those interested folks, here's where it's at:
Wrapping up Business Plan and working on financials
Next big step is getting a loan and signing a lease
...THEN it gets really crazy, so be ready!

I'm glad so many of you have (knowingly or unknowingly) volunteered your time and creative talents! And yes, there will be a big party whether I pull it off or not.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A new Nancy Drew?

After reading Maureen Corrigan's review in the Wash Post this am, I want to read "The Shanghai Moon" by S.J. Rozan. After relating her own failed attempt to write a Nancy Drew book, Corrigan hooked me with:

"Rozen's Lydia Chin is a private investigator very much in the Nancy mold (that is, if Nancy were grown up and Chinese American)...Despite her longings, however, ladylike Lydia keeps Bill at a chaste distance,allowing only the kind of hugs that Nancy Drew would permit from Ned Nickerson."

Looks like fun - it's on the reading list. (BTW - Did Nancy and Ned EVER kiss?)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lamorna Wink - Is that a bar or a drink??

I love to check out the pubs used as titles by Martha Grimes in her mystery books featuring Inspector Richard Jury of Scotland and Melrose Plant.

Having just finished one of her books, I wanted to check out the REAL The Lamorna Wink which is located in Cornwall. If only there weren't a satellite dish on the roof...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Just like Grade School - Our Class Picture

Without further ado, here's the Bookseller Class of March 2007 as captured by Marsha Wood of Ingram Books (we all loved Marsha). Mark and Donna, our wonderful instructors from Paz and Associates, are right in front.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Top 10 Indie Mysteries

Shocking! A post that actually mentions books.

Check out a new (to you) author from this top 10 list of mystery books from the American Booksellers Association based on sales at independent bookstores throughout the U.S.

1. Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear
2. The Private Patient by P.D. James (I read her stuff!)
3. Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich
4. Lush Life by Richard Price
5. T Is for Trespass by Sue Grafton (hers too)
6. Chasing Darkness by Robert Crais
7. Stranger in Paradise by Robert B. Parker
8. The Serpent's Tale by Ariana Franklin
9. Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich
10. The Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith

And these are ones I thought had great titles:
11. An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear
14. Dog on It by Spencer Quinn
15. August Heat by Andrea Camilleri
16. Promises in Death by J.D. Robb
22. Bookmarked for Death by Lorna Barrett
24. The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark
25. The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Feel that zing?

Usually the skeptic when it comes to all kinds of health treatments, alternative or otherwise, I have to admit I'm liking the results from acupuncture.

With my extreme fear of needles, it was not a "natural" choice for me, but it's been painless and the effects noticeable.

On top of that, there's a new treatment story every week. The most interesting so far have involved moxa.

Moxibustion = Herb + Burning + Skin and smells like weed (what I've HEARD weed smells like). Much as I laughed,it worked and has been a great story (and I haven't been burned yet).

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Eating more candy

Glad I'm not alone, in When Economy Sours, Tootsie Rolls Soothe Souls, the NY Times noted that the "recession seems to have a sweet tooth."

We're all reaching for candy and assorted sweets during these challenging economic times. And not just the new stuff, oldies like mallo cups, mary janes, necco wafers, bit-o-honey and swedish fish are flying off the shelves.

Sales were up over 80% versus last year at one candy shop. Another shop owner said customers told her “They put candy in their actual budget”.

Now that's MY kind of budget!

And it's not new: "Hershey, the dominant candy brand during the Depression, remained profitable enough through the 1930s for the company to finance its own work program for the unemployed, said Pamela Whitenack, Hershey’s community archives director."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Threshold Moments...

Thin Mint cookies are the Best! (Sorry, that isn't what this posting is about, but they are fueling my energy this am.)

Threshold Moments - when we move/change TO something. As part of that, we LEAVE things behind. We are not the same person we were before we "crossed" that threshold.

A speaker talked about this at church last night and I didn't have to think hard about my most recent threshold moment - deciding to open the bookstore and leaving behind the $ and security of a corporate job.

Until I looked at back at some notes from when parted ways with the company, I didn't realize how much I had changed since coming to that decision. I feel more like me that I have in a long time. And that's a good thing.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Back home and let's get started!

You know you've got it bad when you get excited about discussions on inventory management systems. That's when I knew I was hopelessly hooked on the new bookstore.

After an intensive cram course on everything you need to open your bookstore, I'm ready to wrap up this business plan and GET SOME $$$$.

BTW, a bookstore perk - you make little money, but get LOTS of free books!

Amelia Island is a cute historic town with no chain anything that I could see. There were some awesome artists and I did buy 2 things before my bookstore poverty sets in.

I was particularly drawn back to a gallery on Ash Street with Carol Winner and Christina Long.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bookstore Boot Camp

That's not what they call it, but that's what I call it. "Workshop" sounds very sedate and that's not what I'm looking for. I'm ready to get started and will drive them crazy with all my questions. By the time I come back, I'll (A) start my loan paperwork or (B) move to Plan B (but since there's no Plan B, we'll go back to Plan A).

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dedicated or Delusional?

Starting a new business is this environment is not the smartest thing to do, but if you continue to persevere in trying to make it happen, does that make you dedicated or delusional?

I've been working on opening my own business - a bookstore- and am realizing how much I DON'T know and also how much $$ it will take. But instead of being worried, the more I get into it, the more excited I am. To be able to do something you've wanted to do for a long time - it feels wonderful.

Maybe I won't have my house or savings in a few years, but at least I'm giving it a shot (so this is where maybe I'm delusional or reckless). I'm doing it anyway.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Back to travel...and my mom

First, my mom called me on not updating my blog for a week, so at least someone is looking at it. She wouldn't agree, but she's pretty tech savvy, except when it comes to her cell phone. She uses it when SHE needs it, but generally that's the only time it's on. She's one of those wonderful folks who are totally present when they're with you, so kudos, Mom, on not letting the technology dictate your actions.

And next up on the travel calendar: Amelia Island, FL and then Prague (yea!!) in May.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

"And seldom is heard

a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day." That phrase from a v-e-r-y old song, Home on the Range, has been running through my mind the past 2 weeks.

Not sure why I know a song about the west, but it's come to mind after all these years, since I've been trying to not say "a discouraging word." I'm tired of hearing only bad things and don't want to contribute to the negative vibe - there are some good things going on too. Plus, the round-about way of saying it's sunny -- "not cloudy all day" sounds a little like me.

And if you want to read all the lyrics, click here (I love being able to check lyrics since I usually do NOT have them right - it saves a lot of embarrassment.).

Monday, March 2, 2009

Books and computers working together

Who says computers can't enhance a book reading experience?
(Lio by Mark Tatulli - Feb 28, 2009)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Places...Part 1

Hong Kong, Seoul, Prague, London, Paris, Fountainbleau, Cuzco, La Paz, Machu-Picchu, Cancun, Baja California, Lake Victoria, Namibia, Capetown, Garden Route from Port Elizabeth to Capetown, Botswana (from the car and at multiple check-points), Garmisch, all around the coast of Ireland (driving a stick shift, no less), Rome, Florence, Sienna, Venice, Milan, Cinque Terre, Madrid, Lisbon...

Make me think of the Beatles song:
"There are places I remember all my life,
Though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain.
All these places have their moments
Publish Post

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Vamoose to NYC - or should I Bolt?

$25 to go from DC to NYC - in 4 hours no less.
AND 3 bags + 1 carry-on allowed - take that you airlines!
Now, I won't need to bring that much luggage, but if I did happen to make some purchases in NYC, well, I won't have to worry about how to get it back to DC.

Will let you know how it goes. Vamoose is one of a number of bus companies with express buses to NYC. I selected it because it has a bus running from Arlington (and Bethesda).

DC2NY leaves from to locations in DC. Both drop-off and pick-up at Penn Station in NYC.

Prices for Bolt Bus look to be even lower - around $15-20. In addition to DC, BoltBus makes runs to NYC from Boston and Philly. Bolt also offers WI-FI, power outlets and extra leg room.

Like Bolt BusTripper Bus also offers WI-FI, power outlets. It leaves from Rosslyn, VA and Bethesda, MD to NYC and says it has fares as low as $1, but all the ones I saw were $25.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Death in a Strange Country

Loved Death in a Strange Country by Donna Leon and her Commissario Guido Brunetti of Venice. The lifestyle of Venetians are woven throughout the story -the canals, walking and boat transportation instead of cars, seemingly casual schedules and the sense that there is much more going on that what we (as visitors) or Commissario Brunetti know.

An American soldier from the nearby base in Vincenza is found stabbed in the canal, Rio dei Mendicanti, with robbery the assumed cause. Commissario Brunetti teams with Maggiore Ambrogiani of Vincenza to uncover what really happened.

The image of the US bringing "America" to its overseas bases was spot-on and the refusal to have all end well reminded me that right does not always prevail.

Monday, February 16, 2009

ALS Funding and Research..what!?!?

Yup, that's an important topic to me. Amidst all the large sums in the economic stimulus package passed last Friday was an additional $10B for NIH (National Institutes of Health).

The ALS Association, noted, that this "...represents a nearly 18% increase in funding over 2008 and will help to increase support for ALS research at the NIH, which is the single largest source of ALS research funding in the world."

Lou Gehrig's disease is nasty, cruel and affects as many as 30K Americans. It occurs throughout the world with is not limited to any racial, ethnic or socioeconomic group.

To help find a cure for ALS, please donate to:
Add yourself to the mailing list for ALS Advocacy.

Sail On, George!

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Uncommon Reader - What happens when the Queen reads?

It throws everyone into a tizzy, that's what happens. And it turns her life and Norman, her book coach/attendant, life upside down - for the better.

At 120 pages, this short novella by Alan Bennett , actor, playwright and author of the History Boys, is a quick entertaining read. Having worked in a bookmobile as a teenager, I was drawn to this story because the Queen's initial foray into reading comes via the mobile library which she stumbles upon when tracking down her dogs. Her politeness compels her to borrow a book and so her journey into the world of literature begins.

Over time, those around are dismayed and perplexed at her obsession for reading and the questions it raises about the status quo. While they strive to stifle this reading madness, books, of course, prevail.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Superbowl: Rust Belt vs. the Sun Belt

Not that I really think that because rust implies old and decrepit. But may it is new vs. old in more ways than the history of the teams. Steeler fans worldwide (and they are everywhere) will gather with other faithful to watch the game in a mixture of excitement and anxiety. After the hard knocks over the past 30 years with the demise of the steel industry and exodus of many natives, we suffer from a bit of an inferiority complex.

Though we may leave in body, our hearts are still in Pittsburgh with our families and with our teams. A stranger who is a Steelers or Penguins can quickly become a friend. We may not be the most sophisticated folks, but Pittsburghers (current and former) are amoung the friendliest people you'll ever meet.

Just as our team reinvents itself while remaining true to its values and itegrity, so does the city as it changes to become a center of health, education and high tech.

So, as I leave to watch the game with 10-15 other hometown, Steeler fanatics, knowing it's a scene repeated in many places...I'm thinking...Steelers are the "new" black - and we all know black never goes out of style. GO STEELERS!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Amsterdam's Canals - thoughts of Venice...

When I first saw photos of Herengracht canal in Amsterdam, I thought of Venice and how much I wanted back on the road. Water is so calming, especially when it takes the place of cars.

The calmness and timelessness of Venice was so restful compared to the rest of our whirlwind trip throught Italy. Wandering along cobblestone walks, often ending at the edge of a canal, sending us back along a different path.

Are Amsterdam's canals - Herengracht, Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht, Zwanenburgwal - like that? Maybe a quick flight on KLM would answer that question?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Paperback Dreams, the documentary

Paperback Dreams
In Fall 2008, Vertigo Books in College Park MD presented the PBS documentary - PAPERBACK DREAMS. The film follows the challenges of independent bookstores by looking at Andy Ross, owner of Cody’s Books, and Clark Kepler, owner of Kepler’s Books. Check the website for airtimes on PBS or screenings. Hopefully it will come around again as all the dates on the website are for 2008.

Friday, January 23, 2009

What's it all about?

While Travel Dreams Books is about books and traveling (duh), it's also about dreaming of travels to places visited and places I'd love to see. It's about the dream of owning a bookstore that encourages and feeds the desire for travel and to learn about things that are different. To help us dream beyond the limitations of our day to day experiences.

Unfortunately, the bookstore piece of it seems further away as I read of more independent bookstores closing each month. Not only small ones, but often large independents with a steady clientele that have been neighborhood fixtures for years.

But isn't that what dreams are? Imagination, desire, aspiration, hope, wish (of course, they're also considered delusion, fantasy, hallucination and fiction). Only time will tell.