Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Wordplay: Keeping Up With the Paraprosdokians

paraprosdokian sign Catalina Island October 2007
Hey, remember back in the day before Twitter and Facebook when people used to forward e-mails around all the time? Some people still do (they're probably your older relatives), even when it might be better if they didn't. This post was inspired by a forwarded e-mail from my aunt, a retired New York City public-school teacher.

GrammarBook.com offers the following definition of a paraprosdokian:
A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect.
(Just in case there's any confusion, it is not a long-lost Kardashian.)

The e-mail included some pithy observations about life that provide examples of paraprosdokians at work--hope you enjoy 'em, and feel free to add your own in the comments!

Where there's a will, I want to be in it.

Where there's a will, there are relatives.

The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on my list.

Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright
until you hear them speak.

If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

War does not determine who is right - only who is left.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

They begin the evening news with 'Good Evening,' then proceed to tell you why it isn't.

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

Buses stop in bus stations. Trains stop in train stations. On my
desk is a work station.

I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.

I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.

A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.

You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice. (This might be my favorite.)

Money can't buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.

I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not so sure. (No, maybe this is my favorite...)

You're never too old to learn something stupid.

To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

And on that note, have a great Sunday!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

At the Festival of Books: A Conversation with Judy Blume

In her conversation with Los Angeles Times columnist Mary McNamara at the 2012 Festival of Books, Judy Blume noted that YA literature “didn’t really exist” at the time she began writing it. If that’s true, she helped bring it into existence. I have pretty clear memories of frequenting the young-adult sections of my local library and bookstores during my middle- and high-school years--they may not have been very large compared to YA collections now, but the books in them were clearly stocked and identified for that age group. (And I graduated from high school thirty years ago this June, so I was reading YA before some of y’all were even born.)

"A Conversation with Judy Blume" LA Times Festival of Books

Judy Blume turned to writing as a creative outlet as a young wife with two small children after her first “career”--making felt cutouts for children’s rooms--was forced to an end when she developed an allergy to Elmer’s glue. She began writing rhyming picture books in the tradition of Dr. Seuss, and found her first publisher the old-fashioned way; without an agent, she just sent out her book hopeful that it would be fished out of the “slush pile” and read by someone who’d support it. She got lucky, and told the audience at her talk that she’s continued to be lucky in the publishers and editors she’s worked with; with their support, she’s had the opportunity to write for readers of all ages, from preschoolers to adults, over the course of her long career. She’s currently at work on a novel about three teens growing up in Elizabeth, New Jersey in the early 1950s; she’s enjoying the research for it, but has been amused by people’s inquiries about it being “historical fiction.” (Since the early ‘50s was her own era, she prefers to think it isn’t.)

Even though she started with picture books, Judy knew she wanted to write the kind of books she couldn’t find when she was growing up--books in which kids would recognize themselves, their families, and their experiences; books about siblings and divorced parents and the everyday traumas of growing up. She’s done that, with Fudge, and Blubber, and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Girls are still coming of age with ...Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (and variations on its title have become catchphrases). And as I discovered on a re-read a couple of years ago, ...Forever still holds up (no “Ralph” puns intended). 

Judy Blume LAT Festival of Books 2012

Judy mentioned that readers seem to be coming to her books younger these days. In fact, several of her most popular books featuring early-teen characters are officially filed under “middle-grade fiction” now. There may not have been a place in “young adult” for her books when she started out, but there have been so many changes in the market since then that it seems like not many are there now, either.

Still, even if it’s not always clear where they’ll find them, people are still finding and reading Judy Blume’s books--and some want to share their own youthful favorites with their kids. Judy offered a couple of suggestions to parents whose kids might seem less than receptive:
“"First, invest in one with a new cover," she said. "Even if you like the old, original covers. Second, don't give it to them. Just leave the books strategically placed around the house and then occasionally say: 'Oh no, you're not reading that -- you're not ready for it yet.'"
Reverse psychology is a tried-and-true parenting technique...and Judy Blume is a tried-and-true literary friend to kids of all ages. It's hard to imagine growing up without her; for more than four decades now, no one's had to, and I hope that stays true for decades to come.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Festival of (Books) Loot!

I did a little shopping this past weekend at the LA Times Festival of Books, doing my part to support several if our local indie bookstores. Many thanks to the folks from Vroman's and Book Soup for the fine selections offered at their booths.

five books bought at the LA Times Festival of Books
If you're having trouble making out the covers, here's a list:

I picked up this one at Mysterious Galaxy's booth--it's the special edition that came out a few months ago.

And I couldn't find this one at any of the vendors, but I promised Kim I'd read it, so I downloaded the e-book when I got home.

e-book cover screen cap

- Posted Drafted using BlogPress from my iPhone 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Denim Day: Protesting violence on Wednesday, April 25

By virtue of my position with my employer (management level) and my age (several decades old), I tend to dress fairly traditionally for work--usually in dresses or skirts. But tomorrow, April 25, I'm going to wear jeans to the office to participate in Denim Day in LA & USA.

Denim Day is a nationwide event launched in Los Angeles in 1999 by the pioneering anti-violence organization Peace Over Violence to promote education about and prevention of sexual violence. Individuals, elected officials, businesses and students are encouraged to "make a social statement with their fashion statement" by wearing jeans as a visible means of protest against the misconceptions and excuses that surround sexual assault--including the suggestion that certain clothing women wear "invites" it.
Denim Day in USA poster via http://shop.peaceoverviolence.org
The organization's website offers the facts about why we need to make this statement:
  • Every two and a half minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted.
  • One in six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape.
  • 82.8% of rapes committed by an intimate are not reported to the police.
  • 35% of college men who voluntarily participated in psychological research conducted at several universities indicated they might commit a rape if they knew they could get away with it.
  • Two million children around the world are forced into prostitution every year.
  • Law enforcement arrests for internet sex crimes against minors are on the rise.
  • 15,000 to 19,000 people with developmental disabilities are raped each year in North America.
  • Survivors deserve support and assistance, not shame and blame.
  • We want to build healthy relationships, families and communities free from sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence.
Denim Day emerged as a response to the verdict in an Italian rape case in the late 1990s, according to Peace Over Violence and the Valley Star:
Denim Day began nearly 15 years ago after an Italian Supreme Court chief judge overturned and dismissed the 1998 case of an 18-year-old driving student against her 45-year-old instructor when he appealed the original verdict convicting him of rape.
According to Peace Over Violence—the organization sponsoring “Denim Day in LA and USA”— the chief judge ruling on the case said, “Because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans, it was no longer rape but consensual sex.”
The new verdict upset much of Italy, and according to POV, female Italian Parliament members were so outraged by the overturn that they wore jeans to work in protest. Following suit, the California Senate and Assembly, as well as POV’s Executive Director Patricia Giggans, sparked the protest in Los Angeles.
Many organizations will be altering their normal dress codes for the day, including LA Unified School District schools that normally require uniforms, in order to give attention to this issue...and in a time when there seems to be a lot of interest in turning back the clock on matters that are particularly significant for women, it's especially important to pay attention. Eva Smith's post about Denim Day on MomsLA places it into context with some recent news items.

Even if jeans are your normal daily "uniform," please take some time tomorrow to educate yourself--and others--about the myths and facts of sexual violence, and make a statement about stopping it.

Disclosure: My employer is participating in Denim Day 2012, and I am sharing this information as a personal show of support. No compensation is involved.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

This is Post #1700

Another milestone in my personal blogging history, so it seems appropriate to mark it with something seen at the LA Times Festival of Books yesterday.

LA Times Festival of Books reading wall

The "Reading Wall" at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Saturday April 21. Visitors are encouraged to write what they're currently reading on this tent to share with fellow book-lovers. You could end up with quite a wishlist from that thing!

Also as seen at the Festival--book bloggers! Here are AnastasiaDanielleAmy, and me (photo thanks to Danielle's husband) after John Green's panel.

book bloggers at LATFoB

More reports (and pictures) from the Festival of Books are on the way later this week!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

No #Readathon for Me--I'm at #LATFoB!

Greetings, Readathoners! I'm sorry not to be among you this weekend, but I have a good bookish excuse. I'm at the University of Southern California today (and possibly part of tomorrow) for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books!

official media badge LA Times Festival of Books 2012

I picked up my media badge on Thursday afternoon, which will admit me to the press room and serve as my ticket to any and all panels. I have three I'd like to go to today--and lucky me, they're all in the same room!

10:30 am John Green in Conversation with Lev Grossman (Panel 1091)
John Green 
Interviewer: Lev Grossman

12:30 pm Susan Orlean in Conversation with Michael Silverblatt (Panel 1092)
Susan Orlean 
Interviewer: Michael Silverblatt

2:30 pm Judy Blume in Conversation with Mary McNamara (Panel 1093)
Judy Blume 
Interviewer: Mary McNamara

I may be even more excited about seeing blogging friends than I am about the authors, to be honest. I'm hoping to meet up with Amy, Danielle, and Anastasia, and possibly several of my MomsLA co-contributors as well (I wouldn't have that media badge if not for them!). If you're not Readathon-ing, please @ me on Twitter if you'll be at USC today too!

Despite the very warm forecast today, I also intend to make the rounds of the exhibitors and, hopefully, do a little book shopping! Most of SoCal's best indie bookstores will have booths on-site, and some will be hosting signings as well, with signed books available for purchase.

I'll probably try to get everything done today, because I'm not sure if I'll go back to the Festival tomorrow. But if I do, I want to see this panel (which may be the closest thing to Comic-Con I do this year):

3:00 pm The Nerds Shall Inherit the Earth. (Panel 2093)
Interviewer: Amber Benson

If you're on Twitter, watch the hashtags #books, #bookfest, and #LATFoB for Festival of Books updates all weekend long, and I expect to have a recap post or two (with photos, of course!) some time next week.

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at USC

Exposition Blvd and S Figueroa St.

Los Angeles, CA 90089
April 21-22, 2012

Saturday 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Sunday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Show Goes On: the Warner Bros. Studio Tour (Part 2)

When we last saw our tour group at the Warner Bros. Studios VIP Tour, we were on our way out of the "Midwest" and about to visit a working soundstage, which is where most interior filming happens. Some of that does get done on the back lot too, though.

Warner Bros. studio tour facade setWarner Bros. Studios "practical" set
These are two different kinds of interior sets used on the back lot. The one on the left is a "facade," and on film you'd see it from the opposite direction (characters would be standing on a small platform just inside the doorway, with outdoor activity visible through the door or window behind them). The set on the right is a "practical" interior which might be used instead of a soundstage.

Warner Bros. Studios--last set left from CASABLANCA
You must remember this...although you probably remember it differently. This is the last remaining exterior set used in Casablanca.

Warner Bros. Studios Stage 16, world's tallest soundstage
This is Stage 16, the world's tallest soundstage--98 feet high, with a dropped floor. It's been used for filming many water sequences, including some of those in Titanic.

The tour doesn't allow photography inside the soundstages (in fact, you'll have to let the guide lock up your cameras and phones in the golf cart before you go inside). Therefore, I have no photo evidence to prove that we visited Soundstage 25, which has been in steady use since the 1930's for movies, and later for television. Parts of Casablanca were filmed in there, and it's currently where The Big Bang Theory rehearses and tapes. The show has Saturdays off so we didn't get to watch anything, but our guide Kacey gave us a nice rundown of the process...and we did catch a glimpse of the set for Howard and Bernadette's upcoming wedding!

Batmobile Tumbler, from The Dark KnightPaul & the Batmobile
The Batmobile Tumbler will soon be coming from Gotham City in The Dark Knight Rises, but it was on the Warner Bros. lot the day we visited. It's one of Tall Paul's all-time favorite vehicles, and as he said when he posted its picture on his Facebook page, it "looks as bad-ass in person as it does in the movies."

Warner Bros. Studios car museum: Ford Anglia from HARRY POTTER
The studio's car museum contains a few iconic vehicles (and some that just wish they were), but my favorite was Mr. Weasley's car, seen after it lost the fight with the Whomping Willow. The Harry Potter movies weren't filmed at the Burbank studio--at J.K. Rowling's behest, they were made in the U.K.--but they're the subject of a special exhibit at the main museum. (That was another spot that didn't allow photography, but it features many props and costumes, including the Sorting Hat!)
Warner Bros. Studios: FRIENDS set
Friends' Central Perk set remains as a mini-museum of its own.

Warner Bros. Studios "New York" back lot sets
These sets from "New York" street, like the "Chicago" back lot in yesterday's post, may double for other cities. The "theater" on the left (without the "subway entrance" visible in front) recently represented its hometown of "Hollywood" in The Artist.

Warner Bros. Studios "New York" back lot "bookstore" facade
Hey, they still have bookstores in the movies!

The Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour operates on weekdays and Saturdays, and advance reservations are recommended. Tickets are $49 per person, and children under age 8 are not allowed. The tour lasts 2.5 hours via golf cart and on foot, and the content will vary as production schedules affect access to sets and stages.

If you have any interest in what really happens behind the scenes and what "Hollywood's" work environment really looks like, I highly recommend this tour, and I'd take it again.

Disclosure: My husband and I purchased our own tickets for the Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour at a slight discount from a "perks" program offered through my employer. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

That's Show Biz: The Warner Bros. Studio Tour (Part 1)

Unless you live in the middle of it, you might not realize how little of the work associated with "Hollywood" is actually done in Hollywood, California. (Conversely, I work in Hollywood at a job that has nothing to do with "Hollywood.") Last Saturday, Tall Paul and I visited one of the places where Hollywood's work has been done for more than eight decades: Warner Brothers Studios in beautiful downtown Burbank.

WB Studios water tower

You may have done the Universal Studios "tour" out here, or in Florida. That's a movie-themed theme-park ride. The Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour is exactly that: a 2.5-hour guided tour through the back lot, sound stages, and museums of a working TV and movie studio. It's a group tour, but groups are capped at 12 people, and each tour is shaped by the personality of its guide and the interests of the visitors. Our group's guide was Kacey, a recent college grad from Alaska who frequently had us out of the golf cart and exploring the sets, and we were encouraged to take photos except in the places where they weren't permitted.

These pictures were taken in one of the two areas of the back lot used for filming city scenes--although it's called "Chicago" street, it can stand in for a lot of places.

Warner Bros. Studios back lot--city streetWarner Bros. Studio Tour: tour guide on the "Chicago" street

Warner Bros. studio back lot--alley
Although it's part of the "Chicago" set, this alley famously filled in for New York in Spider-Man (2002)--it's the site of the "hanging-upside-down-kiss-in-the-rain" scene between Spidey and Mary Jane.

Just a minute away from the "city" by golf cart was the iconic "Midwestern" setting of Anytown, USA, which you might recognize from its roles as a number of small towns.

Warner Bros. Studio back lot "Rosewood City Hall"
This was the Town Hall in River City, Iowa, where "Professor" Harold Hill started leading those "76 Trombones' down the street in The Music Man.

Warner Bros. Studio back lot town green
Apparently the gazebo is not a permanent fixture...but even without it, Gilmore Girls fans might recognize the Stars Hollow town green.

Warner Bros. Studios "Midwest" set house
And speaking of those Gilmores, this is the exterior of the house where Lorelai and Rory lived. (It doesn't really have an interior.)

Tomorrow: more streets, more sets, and some cars!

Disclosure: My husband and I purchased our own tickets for the Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour at a slight discount from a "perks" program offered through my employer. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Prepare to Celebrate the Festival of Books!

America’s largest public celebration of the written word, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, takes place on April 21 and 22.
book festival wide shot (2010) Prepare to Celebrate the Written Word at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
Whether you’ve been a Festival regular or are about to be a first-timer, it helps to be prepared. I've got a few suggestions, and here's one of them:

Prepare for authors. The Festival of Books is a “celebration of the written word”…and of those who create it. In addition to the authors appearing on the various stages, many more will be engaged in panel discussions throughout the weekend. The panels are held in lecture halls and have capacity limits–therefore, they are the only Festival activities that require advance tickets, and there is a $1-per-ticket service charge (although, technically, the tickets are free). Tickets are  available to the general public via the event website while supplies last. In most cases, authors will be available to sign their books after panels.

More information to help you "Prepare to Celebrate the Written Word at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books" is in my post at CBS Los Angeles' "Best of LA."  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Salon: Alert the Media!

The Sunday Salon.com

I seem to be doing a bit of waffling lately. I haven't decided whether I'm going to the BEA Bloggers Conference or the Book Blog UNCon--I've registered for both and may end up trying to split the difference. I hadn't signed up for next weekend's 24-Hour Readathon because I couldn't decide whether I'd do that or go to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (which I missed last year).

On Friday evening, I got an e-mail that made the second choice much easier. I'm going to the Festival of Books...as press. My request for a media credential was approved!

2012 LAT Festival of Books official logo

I'm not sure book bloggers think of ourselves as "media" (unless it involves press passes to BEA, maybe?), so I have to thank one of my co-contributors at MomsLA for bringing up the topic of applying for press credentials for the LATFoB--I wouldn't have thought of it myself. (This is one example of why it's good to get outside of your niche.) I've blogged about the LATFoB before--and I would again, even without the credential. It's a (mostly) free event, and I'll still have to buy my own books. But the credential gets me the press kit--which should help me make my posts about the event better--access to the press room, and entry to any and all of the panels. (Panel tickets became available to the general public this morning.) That last item is the one I most appreciate.

If you're going to the Festival of Books next weekend, please let me know--I'd love to meet up!

Getting back to BEA for a minute: Last week, I begged for votes in the Independent Book Blogger Awards on Goodreads. Voting remains open until next Monday, and I would greatly appreciate yours in the Adult Nonfiction category!

Independent Book Blogger Awards
Vote for this blog for the Independent Book Blogger Awards!

And speaking of voting--thanks to everyone who weighed in on last Sunday's "Which e-book should I read?" poll. The winner (by a wide margin) was Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein. I started it in my Kindle app yesterday, and expect to continue today--if all goes well, there will be a review up some time next week. Today I'll also be working on a June review for Shelf Awareness (I thought it was for May, but the pub date changed. I may not end up with any May reviews there. Oh well.)

What are your bookish plans this Sunday?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pros and Cons and Conferences and UnCons

(Warning: Dithering follows...)

I signed up for the 2012 Book Blogger Convention so long ago it still was the “Book Blogger Convention.” According to the official records, I created my registration for Book Expo America and BBC on January 23. I’d registered earlier for 2011’s BBC and had been holding off this year in anticipation of news about BBC programming, but since I was at least 95% sure I was returning this year no matter what, I decided to go ahead and send it in.

Just days later, there was news on the BBC front--BEA had purchased the convention and was rebranding it as the “BEA Bloggers Conference", promising a “fuller integration” of the event into BEA itself. Over the following weeks, we s l o w l y learned more about what that "integration" would look like. It looks...rather like BEA, and BEA is a publishing-industry trade show. The conference agenda is still coming together and panelists continue to be added, but at this point, it’s heavy on authors (for “networking”) and none of the sessions is being led by a dedicated book blogger (although several are listed as panel speakers). I keep checking for updates, though. (I also keep checking to make sure my badge--purchased, as noted, before the change in conference ownership and a subsequent change in pricing--still gets me access to everything I originally paid for.)

Book Expo America 2011--Javits Convention Center, New York City
Last year, I was pretty clear that I was going to New York City for the Book Blogger Convention. BEA was a nice extra (and hey, there were books!), but I primarily wanted to meet and talk and confer with fellow book bloggers, not cultivate industry contacts. My feelings on that really haven’t changed, and I’m finding the more industry-focused BEA Bloggers Conference less appealing.

Although the folks organizing the Book Blog UNConference are taking pains to establish that they’re not “the anti-BBC,” the fact that this event was announced as weeks of dismayed grumbling from book bloggers about BEA’s handling of Blogger Con came to a head--and will be held the same day--does make for a bit of a perception issue. But what seems very clear is that the “UNCon” is meant to be a blogger-to-blogger gathering. It will be capped at 100 participants, open only to book bloggers, and very DIY: no swag, no sponsors, and you’ll have to buy your own lunch...but there’s no cost to attend, either.

The nature of an “unconference” is that its programming is decided on-site, the day it happens.There is a structure to it, but it limits advance planning...and I function much more comfortably with advance planning, especially if crowds are involved. Having said that, the advance planning for the UNCon does include soliciting session proposals, so there will be some ideas on that grid to start the day off.

Despite the controversy that seems to have spawned it, the UNCon has the potential to offer more of what I actually would want from a book-bloggers’ conference, and so I’ve registered to be one of those 100 participants. Some excellent discussion topics have already been suggested--review writing, finding your audience/your tribe, non-review content, etc. Since the organizers have asked for ideas, let me throw in a couple, too:
  • Blogging Outside the Box Book; or, What Do Other Bloggers Do? Discussions about topics like monetization, review ethics, disclosure, and brand relationships may be new among book bloggers, but they’re not unique to book bloggers. Other sectors of the blogosphere have also dealt with them. Why reinvent the wheel? What can we learn from bloggers who don't blog about books?
  • Fragmentation, Factions, and Other Community Issues: It may not make sense to think of a single "book-blogger community" any more (if it ever did). Sub-communities may naturally form among bloggers with similar aims and interests, and that’s probably a healthy development. But when those fragments solidify into factions--marginalizing sub-communities because of their different interests--that may not be so healthy. Can we peacefully coexist? Or does it matter? And related: who really needs a niche, anyway?
I’d also second Teresa’s suggestion of a discussion about addressing controversy within the book blogosphere--but like her, I’d rather not be the one to lead it!

I will be in New York City from June 2nd to the 7th. I hope to catch up with many great blogging friends, and get to know some new ones. I might go see that really weird play with some people. I’ll be at BEA (would you vote for me to go as an Independent Book Blogger Awards winner?), including the Adult Book & Author Breakfasts on Tuesday and Thursday, which I didn't attend last year. And I’ll be at least one blogger conference that Monday. I’m still not sure which I’ll choose, but since I do prefer advance planning, I’m pretty sure I'll decide before I get there.

Are you trying to make the same decision? Which way are you leaning?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The one where I beg for your votes in the Independent Book Blogger Awards

UPDATED to correct an error in my reading of the contest terms: you may vote for one blog in each category, one time--not per day!

If you usually read these posts in a feed reader and don't click through to the blog, you probably haven't seen this widget in the sidebar yet:

Independent Book Blogger Awards
Vote for this blog for the Independent Book Blogger Awards!

I've entered The 3 R's Blog in the Independent Book Blogger Awards on Goodreads for the chance to win one of four expense-paid trips to Book Expo America in June. (Full disclosure: I'm going to BEA anyway. I just couldn't pass up the chance to have the trip paid for...and I won't lie, the award recognition would be very nice too.)

One winning blog will be chosen in each of four categories: Adult Fiction, Adult Nonfiction, Young Adult and Children's, and Publishing Industry. I'm entered in Adult Nonfiction, and have submitted these posts for consideration:

Public voting opened yesterday on Goodreads and will continue through April 23. The top 15 vote-getters in each category will be designated as finalists, and their entries will be reviewed by a committee of judges. Winners will be selected and announced in early May.
Goodreads members may vote once per day, per category, between now and April 23.

(And if you don't want to spend your Adult Nonfiction vote on me, please consider giving it to Kim, Alyce, MelissaAarti, or Gwen!) I hope you'll help send four great book bloggers (or three great bloggers plus me) to BEA 2012!

(And speaking of votes--thanks to everyone who weighed in on Sunday's "Which e-book should I read?" poll! The runaway winner was Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein, and it's waiting in the Kindle app on my iPad right now.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Shelf Awareness Book Talk: *The Good Father*, by Noah Hawley

A version of this review was originally published in Shelf Awareness for Readers on April 3, 2012.

book cover of The Good Father by Noah Hawley, via IndieBound
The Good Father: A Novel
Noah Hawley
Doubleday (2012), Hardcover (ISBN 0385535538 / 9780385535533)
Fiction, 320 pages
Source: ARC from publisher
Reason for reading: compensated review

Opening lines: "“Thursday night was pizza night in the Allen household. My last appointment of the day was scheduled for eleven a.m., and at three o'clock I would ride the train home to Westport, thumbing through patient charts and returning phone calls. I liked to watch the city recede, the brick buildings of the Bronx falling away on the side of the tracks. Trees sprang up slowly, sunlight bursting forth in triumph, like cheers at the end of a long, oppressive regime. The canyon became a valley. The valley became a field. Riding the train I felt myself expand, as if I had escaped a fate I thought inevitable. It was odd to me, having grown up in New York City, a child of concrete and asphalt. But over the decades I had found the right angles and constant siren blare to be crushing. So ten years earlier I had moved my family to Westport, Connecticut, where we became a suburban family with suburban family hopes and dreams.”
Book description, from the publisher's website: As the Chief of Rheumatology at Columbia Presbyterian, Dr. Paul Allen's specialty is diagnosing patients with conflicting symptoms, patients other doctors have given up on. He lives a contented life in Westport with his second wife and their twin sons—hard won after a failed marriage earlier in his career that produced a son named Daniel. In the harrowing opening scene of this provocative and affecting novel, Dr. Allen is home with his family when a televised news report announces that the Democratic candidate for president has been shot at a rally, and Daniel is caught on video as the assassin. 
Daniel Allen has always been a good kid—a decent student, popular—but, as a child of divorce, used to shuttling back and forth between parents, he is also something of a drifter. Which may be why, at the age of nineteen, he quietly drops out of Vassar and begins an aimless journey across the United States, during which he sheds his former skin and eventually even changes his name to Carter Allen Cash.
Told alternately from the point of view of the guilt-ridden, determined father and his meandering, ruminative son, The Good Father is a powerfully emotional page-turner that keeps one guessing until the very end. This is an absorbing and honest novel about the responsibilities—and limitations—of being a parent and our capacity to provide our children with unconditional love in the face of an unthinkable situation.
Comments: A parent’s second-guessing of his or her parenting starts early and can last a lifetime, even when the process seems to be following most of the established norms. Throw in interruptions to the pattern--divorce, for example--and unanticipated outcomes--a child accused of a shocking crime, perhaps--and it’s quite understandable that a parent might be particularly driven to determine where he or she went wrong.

Noah Hawley’s fourth novel, The Good Father, mingles psychodrama and political intrigue in a story that raises questions about the scope of parental responsibility. When an adult child’s life takes a horribly wrong turn, how much is that parent at fault for that? Can a parent have too much blind faith in a child--and can that “blind faith” be just as much a willful blindness to the parent’s own failings?

Dr. Paul Allen’s eldest son, Daniel--the child of his first marriage, which has been over for thirteen years--dropped out of college months ago. Although his phone calls have been infrequent and his whereabouts uncertain ever since, Paul wants to believe he’s doing OK. But when a TV news report shows Daniel being captured by Secret Service agents after a Presidential candidate is shot--and Daniel makes a full confession not long after--it becomes much harder for Paul to continue believing. At the same time, it’s also hard for him to believe that Daniel actually committed this act, and Paul’s intense search for the truth--framed through his medical training as a search for a correct diagnosis--begins to undermine his second family and his own sense of self.

Although Paul’s efforts to comprehend the incomprehensible are what drive the story, the mysteries of The Good Father are psychological rather than plot-driven. In chapters alternating between Paul’s first-person narration and the third-person recounting of Daniel’s journey from college dropout to accused assassin, Hawley roots out emotional truths in a father’s struggle for acceptance and a son’s misdirected search for identity. At the same time, the author’s background in TV crime drama (Bones) contributes to well-paced storytelling that never gets too bogged down in its complex emotional underpinnings.

Rating: 3.75/5

Author Noah Hawley discusses The Good Father in The Huffington Post

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday Salon: Books for Libraries...and some for me, too!

It's time to help out a couple of needy libraries--the (almost) annual Dewey Donation System Book Drive is on!

The Dewey Donation System is the charitable baby of author Pamela Ribon, who was first inspired to help the cash-strapped Oakland Public Library in 2003, and longtime Internet citizen David T. Cole, co-founder of Television Without Pity. There has been a drive almost every year since then to benefit struggling libraries and children's programs in various US cities and around the world--you can read the entire history on Dewey's site.

This year's drive is, once again, for two programs:
The Taw Saeng ministry to displaced children in Thailand
The Washington DC Public Library's STAR literacy program

You can help either--or both--of these programs by donating books from their Amazon wish lists or making a cash gift. The links above will tell you exactly how to do it.

I've supported Dewey before, and when I did it this year--I donated four books to DC Star--I got the cool graphic I'm displaying in this post. I hope you'll be cool like that and donate too!

And speaking of buying books...it's Easter, which means MY LENTEN BOOK-BUYING BAN IS OVER! And I DIDN'T CRACK this year! So...tell me a book I should buy now (e-book or trade paperback--I'm still not going to buy hardcovers)!

In the meantime, I don't have a heavy "required reading" agenda for the next few weeks, so I'm trying to decide which of the e-books that are already downloaded on my iPad I should read next. They're a mix of fiction and nonfiction, and I could go either way. Care to weigh in? Just mark your recommendation on the embedded form at the end of this post!

The Sunday Salon.com

Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday Foto: Man on Motorcycle

Did I tell y'all my husband has a new toy?

yamaha star stryker cycle and rider

Meet Amelia. (She's a ginger--and yes, she's named for Amy Pond. As Tall Paul says, only he can geekify a motorcycle.) She's the newest resident of our garage.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Question Time! The Final Chapter (and the Giveaway Winners!)

I really appreciate all the questions people submitted with entries to my Blogiversary Giveaway, because you've helped me put together three blog posts within the past week! The first one was random, while the second was more blogging-specific; we're wrapping up today with more random. And speaking of the giveaway, the winners are announced at the end of this post.

SWG (Savvy Working Gal) couldn't hold herself to just one question:
question woman logo by 3rsblog.com
  • What non-fiction book do you recommend everyone should read?
  • Is there a second fiction book you could recommend everyone should read since they may have already read and enjoyed The Sparrow when you recommended it last year?
  • Is there an author/blogger you turn to if you are looking for the truth?
Non-fiction recommendations are best directed to my good friend Kim--she's my preferred source for them, at any rate! I think it's much harder to make general NF recommendations, because non-fiction reading is so driven by the reader's specific interests. After that disclaimer, I'd go with Anne Lamott's
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life as my general-purpose nonfiction suggestion--it combines memoir, spirituality, self-help, and excellent practical advice.

For a second must-read fiction recommendation, I have another one from my very short "all-time-favorites" list. This one has deservedly attained modern-classic status, and is compulsively readable to boot: East of Eden, by John Steinbeck.

I don't really have an answer to the third question. My tendency is to sort out the truth for myself, using information from a variety of sources.

Ti from Book Chatter wonders:
You read all types of books, but what is the one genre that you WILL NOT read, and why?
There are two, really: horror and romance, although I don't object to elements of either in general fiction. I like suspense, but the horror genre just doesn't appeal to me; and romance just seems like the same story told a thousand times over, with minor tweaks so it's less obvious.

Yvonne in LA has a rather provocative question:
Who is the most overrated author that has become popular in the last decade?
I feel like I should decline to answer this question publicly on the grounds that I might never receive any more review copies!

Having said that...it's actually a tougher question than it seems to be, because there is critical popularity and commercial popularity, and it seems that they frequently don't match up very well, so there are different possible answers depending on your perspective.

(And having said that, one of the first answers that comes to mind is "Dan Brown.")

Well-Connected Mom (Lori) asks:
What is your third most favorite gadget?
These days, I'd say my MacBook, since I'm doing more and more of the things I did with it on my iPad. It's over four years old--one of the old white models that Apple hasn't made for a couple of years. It's still holding up, but I don't think it'll be traveling with me any more

Speaking of traveling, Rockin' Mama (Caryn) would like to know:
Where have you traveled? What are your favorite places to visit?
Other than a couple of brief trips to Canada when I was young and one Caribbean cruise, I haven't traveled much outside the USA. I've been through every East Coast state except Maine, though. My favorite vacations have been spent in big cities--Washington DC, Chicago, Atlanta--and in National Parks--Great Smoky Mountains and Yellowstone. My favorite destination now is the city where I was born, New York--I'm getting excited about returning there in June for Book Expo America!

Two related questions from The Woman Formerly Known as Beautiful (Shannon):
Who is your favorite Star Wars character and why?  What is your favorite Star Wars quote?
My immediate response to the first question was "nobody from Episodes 1, 2, or 3," but that's kind of unfair--and actually not true, because Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda are definitely two of my favorites. Ultimately I have to come back to Leia, though--short, brunette, and kick-ass, so she was clearly a role model for me. I don't really have a favorite Star Wars quote, though..the dialogue in those movies isn't exactly memorable. (Ask me my favorite Princess Bride quote, though. I have about two dozen of those.)

And one last question, from Debbie:
High heels or flats?
I'm 4-foot-8, so you'd think heels, wouldn't you? But no. My feet are not fans. And since I'd need ridiculously high ones even to clear five feet, why bother? Flats (or almost-flats) are my friends!

The winners in the Blogiversary Giveaway have been chosen with the help of Random.org's List Randomizer.

Winner of the Go Reading" gift collection--TravelFlex Book LightMini Book Journal, and "Bookworm" Bookplates from GoneReading.com:

Winner of a $20 iTunes gift card (or e-mail gift certificate) which may be used on anything you like--music, e-books, audiobooks, apps--from the iTunes store:

Congrats to the winners, and thanks to all of you for helping me celebrate 5 years of The 3 R's Blog!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Question Time! Part Two: The Blogging Life

I offered a bonus entry in my Blogiversary Giveaway to anyone who asked me a question (I will be announcing the winners tomorrow!). Last week I took on a variety of queries; this post primarily but not exclusively includes the ones specific to the blogging life.

question woman logo by 3rsblog.com
Sheila from Book Journey asks:
"5 years... what things have changed since you started blogging?  Community?  Your own style of posting?"
My reflections on the five-year milestone are the long-winded answer to this question, but in response to the items Sheila singles out:

I didn't really have a community when I started, and it took quite a while to build one. And that community shifts over time--not everyone sticks around, for various reasons, and new ones enter the fold. And I find that the ones I feel closest to are the ones that I've gotten to know beyond our blogs. And as for my style of posting, I'd definitely say my book reviews have improved! But I don't post as much general-interest commentary as I once did, and I'd like to get back to it.

Deb at Readerbuzz wants to know:
What has kept you going for five years?
For five years, let's say five things:

  • Comments--feedback and conversation are good to have, and I've been very fortunate that the trolls rarely show up here
  • Community
  • Discovering new books--see the current population of TBR Purgatory
  • A sense of accomplishment--this blog has opened doors for me, and I think it's improved both my writing and my critical-thinking skills
  • Still having things to talk about!

Jill from Rhapsody in Books has a question that surprised me a little, but ties into that "community" thing a little:
How much time do you spend on BlogHer versus the rest of the blogisphere?
Probably not as much time as you'd think, or as much as I'd like to! I'm glad to be part of their blog network, and I participate in their book clubs and review programs when I'm interested. I've been thrilled every time they've syndicated one of my posts (it's happened twice). And I think it's an outstanding source for commentary and content curation: posts from BlogHer have their own folder in my feed reader. I don't always read them all, but I do skim them daily and nearly always find good reads. (But if they'd give me a job, I'd be glad to spend even more time there!)

Kathy (BermudaOnion) asks:
What is the one thing you wished you'd done differently when you started your blog?
It's not something I thought of at the time, but in hindsight, I should have looked at Wordpress before I jumped into setting up on Blogger. I suspect I would have used Blogger anyway--it's so tied into my Google life, I don't really want to self-host, and it's still free--but  I should have researched a little more.

From Jessica at Quirky Bookworm:
Are there any specific blogging things you used to do that you don't anymore? (Themed posts, memes, series, etc...)
Some of the memes I used to do, like Ten on Tuesday, seem to have gone away; I've dropped out of others, like Booking Through Thursday. I didn't deliberately stop doing my Week-End Review link roundup, but since I've shifted to sharing links on Twitter and Facebook as I come across them, the link-out post started to feel redundant and too much like work. I also suspect that it probably sends less traffic to the posts I link to than the social-media sharing does. Having said that, I'd love to have anyone who misses the links posts "like" The 3 R's Blog's Facebook page, because I send a lot of them there!

Sarah from MomsLA has this question:
What's the best thing about being a blogger?
I can think of two, but they're related: it's opened a lot of doors to opportunities and introduced me to so many amazing people I doubt I'd have encountered any other way!

Hannah (Word Lily) wonders:
What, if anything, do you plan/hope to do differently in year 6 of blogging?
I want to put less pressure on myself to blog "often," which for me means 4 or more posts per week. This was also a goal moving from year 4 to year 5, and it looks like I'm getting there--304 posts in 2010 vs. 239 in 2011. Some weeks I'll have more content than others, and I may do NaBloPoMo once more this year, but I'm still working on feeling like it's OK to post just two or three times in a week.

I'd also like to do more general writing and less blogging about blogging, and I want to make more time for blog reading. I tend to keep up with the "professional" blogs in various niches that update multiple times per day, but that's been at the expense of the individual blogs--blogs like my own--by the people I consider my community, and I need to fix this.

And Melissa (The Betty and Book Chronicles) has a rather challenging query:
As someone who has seen a lot of changes in the book blogging community in the past 5 years, what are your predictions for the NEXT 5 years of book blogging?
I don't know if I'd have predicted even half the things I've seen in the past 5 years of book blogging, so don't put down money on any of these "predictions"! Having said that, I think any or all of these things could happen:

  • More population growth: some bloggers will close their sites or just drift away, but there will be more than enough entering the sphere to fill the gaps
  • More fragmentation: This is a conversation that's been going on for at least a year now, but I don't think it makes sense to think of a single "book-blogger community" any more--it's too overwhelming. I see more sub-communities forming among bloggers with similar aims and interests, and I don't think that's a bad thing as long as there's peaceful coexistence.
  • Factions: This is what does concern me about fragmentation--marginalizing sub-communities because of their different interests. Book bloggers are gaining influence and attention within the publishing industry...and that's turning out to be a mixed blessing. The BEA Bloggers Conference/Book Blog UnCon face-off is one current example of the differences in perspectives and goals. I think both sides have good points...and I'm somewhere in the middle. I really don't want to have to take sides, and I hope I'm not the only one who feels that way.

I'd like to throw that last question to the crowd--what are some of YOUR predictions for the next 5 years of book blogging?