Saturday, June 30, 2012

Weekend Cooking: 4th of July Blast Smoothie



Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.


We are, as I've mentioned in previous Weekend Cooking posts, well into berry season here at our house. In addition to the blueberries that are proliferating outside our door, we've been purchasing the likes of strawberries and blackberries at the grocery store. When I mentioned to Betty that we needed to use them up and perhaps we could have a Smoothie Night, she eagerly agreed.

We found this one on allrecipes.com, and a very timely one too for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday here in the States on Wednesday.

4th of July Blast Smoothie

1 cup fresh blackberries, or more to taste  (you could substitute blueberries for these; we didn't, as I had some blackberries to use up)
5 large strawberries, hulled and halved
1 large banana
1/3 cup orange juice
2 cups crushed ice
1 teaspoon white sugar, or to taste
(optional) (I didn't use this either; it wasn't needed).
12 fresh blackberries

DIRECTIONS:
1. Place 1 cup blackberries, strawberries, banana, orange juice, and ice into a blender in that order, and blend on high speed until smooth, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Pour into 4 glasses and top each serving with 3 blackberries for garnish. (We didn't do that step.)

Our thoughts: I had an apricot that needed to be used up, so I threw that into the mix too. We added a dollop of frozen vanilla yogurt, which made this more creamier and less tart for those who preferred their smoothies as more of a milkshake consistency.

Also, if you're using 8 oz. glasses as I did above, you'll only get two servings out of this. Smaller glasses will, obviously, result in more. (Like my math skillz there?) Regardless, this is a beautiful purple color and a delicious treat that is perfect for the 4th of July or anytime during the summer months.

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

When We Met Harry and Sally...


We needed a little push.

As much as we were resistant, we knew our tumble into We (as in, We with a capital letter, as in We kind of really, really like each other) was inevitable.

For two years, everyone but us saw it coming.

Our closest friends who we spent every minute with, in those days.

Our friends from before, when they saw us together.

Complete strangers, when they would mistake us for something we weren't and which we joked (as if that would ever happen, yeah right) on the outside about being.

We were protective then, of both ourselves and of each other's pasts. For two years, over many a late night beer (or two), we'd exchanged our still fragile histories. We cleaned up each other's debris of our messy present that was then. We watched knowingly, as the other tried out yet another misfit toy.

And then in the summer of 1989, we went to see a little Nora Ephron/Rob Reiner/Billy Crystal/Meg Ryan movie called "When Harry Met Sally." 


I knew perfectly well what Harry and Sally were all about. So did my friend's sister, with whom I was in cahoots with. We had both seen the movie beforehand and had decided that it was exactly the push we both needed to move her brother and I into the starring roles of the romantic comedy of our 20-something year old lives. 


And it worked. 


For ... well, a little while. 


I'll spare you the drama and fast forward the VHS tape to the ending and tell you that, unlike Harry and Sally, we didn't wind up together for the rest of our lives. Very much the opposite, in fact; the friendship disintegrated to an unrecognizable, hardened shell of what it once was and eventually, disappeared altogether. 


Despite that, "When Harry Met Sally" remains one of my all-time favorite movies. Like so many others, I credit Nora Ephron for being an inspiration - for who knows if that guy and I would have ever gotten together if it wasn't for her little movie? Maybe we were doomed to fail, but we wouldn't have known if we hadn't tried, right?

Because we would have always wondered what would have happened, a theme that I would encounter again and again in this life of mine.

Nora Ephron, through her words in "When Harry Met Sally," made me brave enough to say yes to taking a chance, to spin the romantic dice, to see what would happen.

So I got my heart broken in that game of love, learned that life didn't always turn out like the movies. If I had known her, Nora herself would probably be the first one to have to told me that might be so. (Come to think of it, she did - when I was 14 and read Heartburn.)

She probably would also say it would be worth it. Because when the next guy who was a friend came along, I would be brave enough to make the leap sooner and not have to wait two years to find out whether or not we could make it work.

By then, we already would know.

"I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."  ~ Harry, in "When Harry Met Sally"


Thanks, Nora. Rest in peace.



copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Audiobook Week: So You Want to Review Audiobooks

This week marks Audiobook Week 2012, hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books. During this week, those of us who are participating will feature audiobook reviews and daily discussions on our blogs. If you're an audiobook fan, maybe you'll find a new favorite. If you're new, maybe this might pique your interest. 

Today's discussion topic is reviewing audiobooks. Discuss the essentials of audiobook reviewing. What do you make sure to include? What do you want to see when you read other people’s reviews?

I'm not very good about reviewing audiobooks.

I'm just ... not. For starters, I tend to review them as I do the print version of books - which I know is a huge mistake. I need to get much better at this.

Unless the narrator is exceptional, I tend to only give the narrator a passing mention when I do an audiobook review - which is so wrong, I know. I've been trying to highlight the narrator more often, but I need to remember to include the name of the person. That's like reviewing a book without mentioning the author. If the narrator is horrendous, chances are I'll never mention him/her because I'll have abandoned the book.

In the information that I typically give preceding a review, I will include the length of the audiobook because it does matter whether it is is 6 hours or 16.

I've been reading many of the posts on this topic (which might be why I am getting this in at literally the 11th hour) and they're really informative about ways to better structure my audiobook reviews.

Sorry this is a bit of a disjointed post. I'm a bit distracted with the news of Nora Ephron's passing and have a post a'brewin' about that ....



copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Audiobook Week: My Year in Audiobooks



This week marks Audiobook Week 2012, hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books. During this week, those of us who are participating will feature audiobook reviews and daily discussions on our blogs. I'm planning to do both: offer up a review each day this week as well as participate in the discussions. If you're an audiobook fan, maybe you'll find a new favorite. If you're new, maybe this might pique your interest. 


Today's discussion prompt: Are you new to audiobooks in the last year? Have you been listening to them forever but discovered something new this year? Favorite titles? New times/places to listen? This is your chance to introduce yourself and your general listening experience.


I've been listening to audiobooks since 2007, which is when we moved and my work commute increased to nearly 2 hours each way.  (Yes, you read that correctly ... each way!) Even after I got a job working primarily from home (a welcome change!) I still listened to audiobooks, although not as often. With the job I was just let go from, there was a lot of driving involved (it wasn't unusual to be in the car for 6 hours a day, driving to various appointments) and once again, audiobooks were my best friend. 


Audiobooks have been a presence in my life for 5 years now. Driving is my main place to listen, and I usually just rely on the selection on CDs from the library. I recently upgraded my Blackberry to a Droid smartphone, so that might expand how I listen, especially now that our library just got e-books and e-audiobooks. I haven't tried listening while gardening, although maybe I should. I might get more done that way. (I admit, I kind of like the gardening quiet, though.)  


Two things that I do while listening to audiobooks that may be different from others: 


1. I generally always have a print copy of the book to follow along with. I don't mean that I actually read along in the print version simultaneously, as one would if you were just learning how to read. (That would be a little difficult to do while driving.) I mean that I like to have a print copy nearby, to use as a reference for characters' names or poignant scenes or quotes I want to remember. I find this is immensely helpful when writing my review. It also gives me a sense of accomplishment, as I like to equate how much I've listened to with the number of pages read. 


2. I've been trying to select books that are currently on my bookshelves as audiobooks. That way, I'm able to make a dent in the ol' TBR (to be read) pile - and, because of #1 above, I don't have to check out both the audiobook AND the print version from the library. (I have made exceptions for a book I really want to read, most recently The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.) 


Finally, here are some of my favorite audiobooks that I've listened to in the past year:


Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden 


Okay for Now, by Gary D. Schmidt 


The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger 


The Adoration of Jenna Fox, by Mary Pearson 


The Maytrees, by Annie Dillard 


The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd 

I'm going to try and have some reviews of these up on the blog this week. (Don't hold me to that, though, as most of these are unwritten yet.) In the meantime, see what other bloggers have to say (and what their favorite audiobooks of the past year are) by visiting the link at Devourer of Books.

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

It's Your Birthday, Carly. You've Never Looked So Good.



"It’s all of our birthdays this summer
One number older, another year younger ... "
"Happy Birthday" ~ Carly Simon

photo from CarlySimon.com

Because it's her 67th birthday today, I'm using this blog post (which is an encore of a post I published here on this date in 2010) to celebrate my favorite singer/songwriter, Carly Simon. I have no hesitation when asked the proverbial question about which CD I'd take to an island - preferably Martha's Vineyard, Carly's home and one of my all time favorite places (we honeymooned there). The real decision would be, which one of Carly's CDs would make the cut. I'd have to stash some away.

I've loved her music since I was a little girl. I can't remember if I bought "You're So Vain" on a 45 record (show of hands ... who remembers 45s?) or if it was my mom's. What I do remember is playing it constantly, blissfully unaware of the provocative questions it provoked that still linger today. I didn't even understand the lyrics but I knew enough to know that I loved the poetry of I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee years before I had my first cup.

I don't have a favorite Carly song.  It's impossible to choose just one.  I do tend to graviate to the lesser known ones, I've noticed. Many have become mantras for me at different times of my life, and never more so than when my kids were born.

As newborns, Betty and Boo spent a few weeks in the NICU.  During that time, we were told to talk to them, sing to them, anything to get them acquainted with our voices and so they could sense we were there.  So The Husband sang George Harrison songs (because he had just died), and told them about the electoral college (because at the time, the country was in the midst of getting a civics lesson and relearning our American history) and obscure Presidents (did you know we had a U.S. President named Chester Arthur?). I sang "Julie Through the Glass" ("Julie through the glass, just born a day ago/ and who knows where you've been/ and where you're gonna go") and "Libby" ("If all our flights are grounded/ Libby, we'll go to Paris/ dance along the boulevards and have no one to embarrass ....")

Finally, we were on the verge of being discharged and all that stood in the way of us and a ticket home first thing early the next morning was a few ounces of formula that Betty needed to drink - but stubbornly refused.  So, I sang the only song that was in my head at the time, over and over and over.

Silver cities rise,
the morning lights
the streets that meet them,
and sirens call them on
with a song.

It's asking for the taking.
Trembling, shaking.
Oh, my heart is aching.
We're coming to the edge,
running on the water,
coming through the fog,
your sons and daughters.

We the great and small
stand on a star
and blaze a trail of desire
through the dark'ning dawn.
("Let the River Run" ~ Carly Simon)

One time, while Betty and I were grocery shopping, this came on over the speakers and I practically started bawling in the middle of Frozen Foods. "Mooo-ommm," she said, still dramatic 10 years later. "You're NOT going to cry and tell me the story about this song and me being in the hospital AGAIN, are you?")

Back to being NICU parents. This all happened in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, making it especially hard to be so isolated and scared, so when Carly's Christmas album came out a year later, in 2002,  it seemed like "Christmas Is Almost Here" was written for us, with that whole experience in mind.  It has become one of my very favorite Christmas songs because it is so intertwined with those fragile NICU days.

"There's a hand that's old and rough
And it's holding on
To one that's new and small
Whose life has just begun
Hand in hand
Young and old
We calm each other's fears
Christmas is almost here

There's a rocky road ahead
Two people walk alone
Wondering in the fading light
If they can find their home
When hope is almost gone
A distant light appears
Christmas is almost here ..."
("Christmas Is Almost Here" ~ Carly Simon)

In 2005, I noticed an ad in the paper announcing that Carly was going to be in concert at The Borgata in Atlantic City.  We were the parents of nearly 4 year old twins, I had just started working full time again a few months earlier, and concert tickets long ago ceased to be among our discretionary expeditures. We crunched the numbers; nope, no can do. Maybe she would be comin' around again, but most likely, this was a once in a lifetime thing that we had to be responsible about and let go.

A few days later at work, I opened an email from The Husband.  "From Santa!" it said, and it was a printout of the confirmation from Ticketmaster that we had tickets in the front section for Carly's 2005 Serenade Tour. It was, without a doubt, one of the best concerts I've ever attended (and I've been lucky to see some great ones).  Her kids, Sally and Ben Taylor, were with her on that tour and they sang a rendition of "You Can Close Your Eyes" that was exquisite.  (I still sing part of that song to Boo every night ... or, I should say, on the nights when he allows me to tuck him in.)

The Husband says that I am responsible for introducing him to the music of Carly Simon.  He knew the most popular songs, but not the older stuff.  (He did the same for me with the Beatles and their solo stuff, too, so we're even.)  One of the first gifts The Husband ever bought me was Carly's picture book, The Fisherman's Song, which is the words to her song of the same name. He thought I was crazy for wanting a picture book in my 20s. After reading it, he understands.

There are so many moments in my life that either have Carly Simon's music as a soundtrack as well as moments that a Carly Simon song captures for me in my heart. I've been listening to her all of my life and I can't imagine my life without her music.

"So just blow out the candles ... Happy Birthday."

Happy Birthday, Carly.

And thank you.



copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Sunday Salon: June 24



Another week, another book I could not finish.

Last week it was The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides and this week it was The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown. I wonder if this is going to be a trend this summer? If it is, that's one way to clear out the books on my TBR (to be read) shelves. Both were audios, but even switching over to the print version wasn't helping in either case, so ... back to the library the audiobooks went. (And my print version of The Weird Sisters is going to be donated there, too.)


I just wasn't very invested in these characters. They felt flat to me and undistinguished from each other. As Florinda said in her review of this, I wish I liked this as much as others did. (Because many a blogger LOVED The Weird Sisters.) 


That's also not a great way to go into Audiobook Week, which begins tomorrow and is once again being hosted by Jen from Devourer of Books. Like Jen, I'm planning to feature an audiobook review every day this week - I have enough stacked up in my queue of reviews for a rainy day, I think. I've been meaning to do a sort of "audiobooks that would be good for a road trip" post for those heading on vacations and whatnot, so hopefully that will suffice. I'm also planning to participate in the daily discussion topics surrounding audiobooks. 


Onto the book I read this week (which was NOT an audiobook, but rather the first e-book I borrowed from our library) and really liked. Emily St. John Mandel has now become One of Those Authors Who I Will Read Anything By. I really liked Last Night in Montreal and her latest novel, The Lola Quartet, kept me riveted to every page. (I haven't read The Singer's Gun ... yet.) 


This is billed as "literary noir" which sounds mysterious - and it is, for this is much more of a mystery story than I typically read. There's too much involved to go into here, so that will have to wait until my review. 



It has been awhile since I indulged in a collection of short stories, which I love. There isn't any real reason for my hiatus from short stories. So, I am remedying that with Natalie Serber's new collection Shout Her Lovely Name, which I was sent for review consideration by TLC Book Tours. (My review date is July 3.) 


So far, I'm quite pleased. Serber is a new author to me; I wasn't familiar with her work before reading these 11 stories, but she is a definite talent. The first story, which is also the title story, is among the collection's best and reminded me of a contemporary style, like Lorrie Moore. (Dan Chaon has a blurb on the back cover saying the same thing.) Even better, there are several stories (Ruby Jewel, Alone As She Felt All Day, Free to a Good Home) that are interconnected - and I absolutely love when that happens.


I've been giving serious thought to going on a hiatus from accepting books for review, and I think once I am finished with Shout Her Lovely Name that I just might do that. I'm running out of space on my bookshelves (and there's still at least one box of books that I haven't found since our move) which means that I really need to make a concerted effort to read more of my own books - although the Mount TBR Reading Challenge is proving to be good motivation for that. (Which reminds me that there is a check-in post that I need to do for that one.)

So much bookish goodness ahead in the week to come!


copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Weekend Cooking: Blueberry Thrill

Just saw Punxsutawney Phil hangin' out a little too close to the blueberry bush in the backyard. Here's a prediction for you, Phil: mess with my blueberries and you'll be wishing for six more weeks of anything.  ~ my Facebook status tonight

I'm so thrilled with how our blueberries are turning out this summer. They are fabulous. When we bought this house earlier this spring, it came with five blueberry bushes in the backyard. As we've established, I wasn't anywhere near being a gardener before acquiring this house and the rather large vegetable garden that came with it. I sure as hell didn't know the first thing about taking care of blueberry bushes.

I still don't. So, I've just left the things alone, let nature do her thing, and on Wednesday I discovered that we had our first honest-to-God blueberry!


A welcome sight, too, because the same night I discovered that rabbits devoured my peas. Before that, it was the strawberries. (Those didn't even get planted before they ate them.)

Every evening, Betty and I go out to "check on the blueberries" and bring in the harvest.


We had 10 on Wednesday. 


Thursday, we had 46.  Last night, 80.


I thought we'd hit 100 tonight, but we were seven short with 93.

Betty and I have been enjoying them with Frozen Vanilla Yogurt as an evening snack, sometimes topped with granola.



So, listen up, Punxsutawney Phil. Stay away from my blueberries.

'Cause I'm looking forward to six more weeks (or whatever I can get) of these babies.


Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.



copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I Don't Always Look at the Search Terms That Bring People to This Blog, But When I Do ....


... I find such gems like

I don't always read 50 shades of great, but when I do ....

and 

marriage term limits

which, since these were both from today, makes me wonder if these are from the same person. 

God, I love the Internet. 




copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Book Review: With My Body, by Nikki Gemmell


With My Body
by Nikki Gemmell
Harper Perennial 
2012 
462 pages 


So, you've read that Fifty Shades of something or other book (and the next one, and the next one). And you liked it enough, and now you're thinking you wouldn't mind some more bow chicka wow wow to while away your time beside the beach or pool this summer.

You know, IF said book would just happen to fall into your e-reader or beach tote or something.

Well, you're in luck because that's just the kind of book With My Body by Nikki Gemmell is. It's also disturbing as all hell, but we'll get to that in a minute. It's like That Other Book (which I admit, I haven't read but feel like I have). It's that sort of book that you WANT to read but you don't want people to KNOW you are reading and that while you ARE reading you're thinking, WTF is going on here and he/she/they did not just do that and if my mother/grandmother/neighbor saw me reading this I would die and by then, you're done the book.  (Yes, even though this is 462 pages. These are the wham-bam-thankya-ma'am equivalent of 462 pages.)

Not like anything's wrong with wanting to read this sort of book. We are, presumably, all grown ups here ... all of us, that is, except for the teenage girl narrating the majority of With My Body, which is where the Creep-O-Meter factor with this novel comes into play.

She's a pretty young thing who is curious about All Things Grown Up. And I mean All The Things. She's lacking a mother, due to the death of her own mother from breast cancer and her father marrying the Wicked Biatch as All Get Out Stepmother, Anne. The father naturally favors the new stepmother over the young girl, who reminds him of the deceased wife. So, precocious and curious Narrator/Young Girl goes off in search of a father figure who will teach her the ways of the sexual world. (Cue up the George Michael: That's all I wanted, something special/ Something sacred in your eyes/ For just one moment, to be bold and naked/ At your side/ Sometimes I think that you'll never understand me/Maybe this time is forever, say it can be ....")

Nikki Gemmell doesn't give her Narrator/Young Girl a name in her novel, which is done for the purpose (I believe) of symbolizing to her reader that the narrator is truly Everywoman.  For that's how we meet her in the first 43 pages of the novel: as a married woman who is extremely dissatisfied with her lot in life of taking care of her three kids, waiting for her physician husband to come home (or not), cooking dinner, running errands, doing laundry, and dealing with other snobby and competitive moms while picking up one's kids from school.

(None of us can relate to this, amiright?)

While our Narrator is lamenting how her life turned out and the lack of passion in it (she hasn't had sex with her husband in more than two years, hello!), she reflects inward to a time when she was happier and more connected with herself. That's when we flashback to The Narrator as the Pretty Young Thing, as described previously, who stumbles Goldilocks-like into a mysterious, artsy, and somewhat creepy (if I do say so myself) guy's McMansion. This guy - who has a name (it's Tolly) - is all too willing to teach her everything she doesn't know.

And by everything, I mean evvv-reee-thaaang. No detail is spared for you, dear reader. Nothing left to the imagination here.

This is where I started to lose my way with this novel. At this point (we're talking maybe page 227 or thereabouts), I was ready for this book to end. I had a difficult time with the relationship between The Narrator and Tolly. I was angry with him for clearly taking advantage of her, of mindfucking her while repeatedly reassuring her that their "lessons" were consensual, and I was annoyed with him when he spoke like this (which was all too often):
"'A fabulous kiss can be as evocative as smell, I think,' he smiles afterwards, in appreciation. 'One whiff - or one kiss like it again - and whoosh, it can plunge you back to another time, another place. A brighter phase of love. There can be something so .... restoring ... about it.' 
You wipe your lip and stop. He suddenly feels past tense whereas you - achingly, enormously - are present. 
'A passionate kiss can arrest a relationship's slow, glacial slide towards indifference,' he's murmuring on, pottering about, forever thinking, teaching, musing. 'Can wake a couple up - remind them of what they were.' He turns back to you. 'Thank you for that.'"  (pg. 227) 
Who in the hell talks like this?! Yeah, I know: my anger goes a bit deeper here and probably has to do with the fact that I'm a parent of a daughter not all that much far removed from the age of The Narrator and that I know there are weirdos, creepos, and sexos (to quote Archie Bunker) like Tol out there, uttering such banalities to impress the ladies.

I've also worked a bit in the domestic violence field, and as we go further into the novel and the relationship between The Narrator and Tol (she calls him Tol) deepens, there's no question that we're into heavy-duty emotional abuse. There are scenes where she is clearly hesitant and he is clearly being manipulative under the guise of "helping" her, of providing his warped tutorial sessions under the premise of giving her a foundation in what love really is (puh-leeze).

As an adult reader, this is downright painful and disturbing as hell to watch.
"'I must know. Everything. What's in that head of yours? Don't be afraid. I need to know. So I can help. With absolute, utter trust. Always that.' All his words, words, words, over the next few days of apart ....you don't know what's next, where it's meant to stop, who he's bringing in to this; you're a good girl really, you can't. You will not go back.
What happens if you've fallen in love with a person who will ultimately destroy you?
It is not the first time you've thought this.
Woondala [the name of Tol's mansion] has woven a spell around you; you are different there. You don't recognise yourself."  (pg. 304) 
"He comes right up close, his face tells you he is confident that no one, ever, can take his place, no matter who comes next; he is inked through your heart, through your blood, until the day you die he is there and he knows it. His smile tells you your pleasure is his, that he knows he will have succeeded if he sees you gaining ultimate pleasure, beyond him, beyond anything he can do; it will be his greatest gift. '
But how?' You furrow your eyebrows, frown, still don't get it. He tells you he is doing all this because he is a student of women and he needs to learn, as do you - it is the writer's curiosity - he is a student of life, of living to the limit in pursuit of of love, connection, soul-sharing, radiance. He loves you, never forget that. No matter what comes next." (pg. 310-311) 
Seriously, do you want to punch this asshole first or should I do the honors?  I. HATE. THIS. GUY. (And there's still another 151 pages to go!)

But Tolly's not the subject of the book (as much as he probably would like to be). It's The Narrator, and this relationship is one that she revisits, as an adult, "in desperation" as salvation from her boring, dreadful adult life. This isn't a spoiler; the back jacket cover tells us as much, but it takes 300 pages to get there. (Could a bit of editing have been applied?  Absolutely.)

While reading this, I felt a lot of sympathy for The Narrator (again, probably because of my domestic violence background; it's easy to say "why doesn't she just leave already?" but much, much harder to actually do, especially when you're a teenager, especially with no other means of emotional support) but most of the time I just wanted to be done with this part of the book. I rushed through it not because I wanted to see what happened, but because I wanted to get the pain of this over with. That's not the most pleasant of reading experiences. As such, this was almost a DNF (did not finish) book; I stuck with it because it was a review book. (Had this been one I picked up on my own, probably it would have been a DNF.)


At the same time, I could not put this novel down. 


I will say this: the ending SURPRISED THE HELL out of me. It really did (I stayed up till nearly 2 a.m. to find out what happened) and as much as I was prepared to give this a negative review (this review has been almost completely rewritten), the ending redeemed it from such. If I haven't made it clear, I really hated several characters (Tol, the narrator's father) during much of the novel. Hated. Them. By the end of the book, though, I understood them much better. Even started to LIKE them. That's quite a feat for a writer, and I have to give Nikki Gemmell considerable credit for that.  


With My Body is definitely not a novel for everyone. At times, I wasn't sure if it was for me - and even now, I'm not sure what to make of it. I can't remember ever having such a wide-ranging, love/hate reaction to a novel. 


The question will be whether readers will stay with this provocative story long enough to find out for themselves. 

A copy of With My Body by Nikki Gemmell was sent to me by the lovely folks at TLC Book Tours (thank you so much, ladies!) in exchange for my honest review. I did not receive any compensation for this post.

Nikki Gemmell's website can be found here.  (Yeah, I'll be reading more of her work.)

Visit other bloggers participating in the With My Body Book Tour here.
 copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On Blueberry Hill


My peas in the garden, which had been doing so well and which looked so promising?

Consumed by the rabbits (or, perhaps, casualties of the heat wave we're in).

My green beans?  A tasty side dish for the rabbits, I'm sure.

My four pots of strawberry plants? Dessert for the rabbits. (Pass the whipped cream.)

All gone, all reduced to nubs, all my hard work wasted. For who? For what?

Which made seeing this a true thrill indeed.


The first blueberry sighting of the season.





copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Big Book Summer Challenge





You know me and my weakness for Reading Challenges. For whatever reason, I am especially susceptible to the lure of Reading Challenges in the summer. It's like I think I am under some delusion where I have all the time in the world to lounge about and read. Never mind the fact that I still have to find a job (which is a full time job), and I still have a house and a garden and kids to maintain.

Still, the Reading Challenges beckon ... and here's a new one being hosted by Sue over at Book by Book that I can't quite resist.  It also coincides nicely with our library's summer reading club program.

It's the Big Book Summer Challenge:

The Details:

Hey, it's summer, so we'll keep this low-key and easy!
  • Anything over 400 pages qualifies as a big book.
  • The challenge will run from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend
  • Choose one or two or however many big books you want as your goal.
  • Choose from what's on your shelves already or a big book you've been meaning to read for ages or anything that catches your eye in the library - whatever peaks your interest!
  • Write a post to kick things off - you can list the exact big books you plan to read or just publish your intent to participate, but be sure to include the Big Book Summer Challenge pic above, with a link back to Book by Book.
  • Write a post to wrap up at the end, listing the big books you read during the summer.
Here's what I'm planning on reading:


The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood
America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines, by Gail Collins
When Everything Changed, by Gail Collins
Flesh and Blood, by Michael Cunningham
The Garden of Last Days, by Andre Dubus III
And the Band Played On, by Randy Shilts

Along with the Summer Reading Program, a  few of these coincide nicely with the Chunkster Challenge (which I've only read one book for), as well as several others. All but And the Band Played On come from my own shelves, making them eligible for the Mt. TBR Challenge too.

It's going to be a great summer!  Join us in the Big Book Summer Challenge?  (You know you want to!)


copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Wings




As seen in the garden this morning.

(OK, if we're getting technical, the cardinal was hanging out in my neighbor's tree which kind of extends over the property line ... which, in my mind, for the purposes of a blog post, counts as being in my garden. Plus, it was looking at me.)

Wings, as in new opportunities on the horizon job-wise. (Several interviews lined up this week.)

Wings, as in celebrating the birth of Sir Paul McCartney, who turns 70 today. (We're playing all Paul, all day long.)

Wings, as in seeing a cardinal is always a sign of those who gave us ours.



copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Sunday Salon: Father's Day Edition



Happy Father's Day to all who are celebrating!  I say to all who are celebrating because I know this can be a difficult day for some people. If you are missing a father or missing the chance to be a father, these Hallmark holidays can be loaded for bear, amiright?

It's a low-key Father's Day here. Last Saturday, The Husband took a tumble down the deck stairs and suffered a concussion, which has resulted in a week off from work for the last five days and a headache that is still present.  So, our gift to him is a day of rest and peace and quiet. So far, so good. Grocery shopping and gardening (if the rain holds off) is on the agenda for me, along with some resume-sending and reading.

As I mentioned in last week's Salon, our library just got e-books available for borrowing. Bookish geek that I am, you KNOW I was right there at my laptop on the day that this service went live, checking out what they had to offer.

I must say, I am pleased with the selection. I'm NOT so pleased that I can't renew them - meaning that, if you're in the midst of the e-book and your time is up in a day, no renewal for you. You have to take your chances that nobody else will scoop it up when it automatically returns, and THEN you can check it out again. Otherwise, you have to put it on hold and it could be another two weeks before you can resume reading.

That's the situation I may find myself in with my first library e-book: The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel, which I am really enjoying so far (but which I have today to finish). I loved Last Night in Montreal - but as I just re-read that review, I realize that there are more similarities to the two than I remembered. No matter. I still like The Lola Quartet and I'm not normally a mystery reader kind of girl, so this is a bit of a departure for me.

My audiobook this week wound up being a DNF.
Now, I was an English major in college, but the first CD of The Marriage Plot just made me feel completely and utterly stupid and that my degree was a waste. And this was not a week where I needed that. So ... I tried reading the print version. No can do. This one has gotten mixed reviews on the blogs, with more than a few comparisons to Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, which I thought was just okay albeit overhyped. Given that, back to the library it went.

And yeah, I've tried Middlesex and - don't hate me - but that was a DNF for me, too. Verdict? I'm sure he's a nice guy and all, but I don't think Jeffrey Eugenides is the author for me.


This week I finished the rather provocative With My Body by Nikki Gemmell. I'll have more to say about this one on Thursday - which is my review date for TLC Book Tours, which sent me this one for review. One word for now: wow. This one was all over the map. The majority of this (like, 300 pages worth) is NOT an easy read and I was prepared to give it a negative review, if not declare it a DNF.

Then ... Something Happened.

That's all I'll say about that, but suffice it to say, few books have had that effect on me. I'm still thinking about this several days later.

There are a few bookish things on tap for us this week. Summer Reading officially starts at our library tomorrow, which Betty is rather excited about. Our library also has a summer reading program for adults, where you submit reviews and can win prizes, so that will motivate me to actually write a review or two.

On Wednesday, YA author Siobhan Vivian (The List, Same Difference, Not That Kind of Girl, A Little Friendly Advice) will be appearing at our library. I'm planning to stop by and do a post for the blog. I've been hearing her name everywhere since I've been hearing that she'll be appearing.

Hope you're having a great Sunday, whether you're celebrating Father's Day or not.



copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Baby, You Can Park My Car

So, I was "let go" from my job today.

This was not a surprise. The signs have been there for awhile, and I was not caught off-guard. I've been proactive and the job search is well underway. (I had an interview less than 4 hours after my firing, as a matter of fact.) And this is for the best.  Really. There are some situations that are toxic and this was one of them.

But here's where Pittsburgh people get all kinds of awesome. Honestly, the people in this city are amazing.

I get summoned to my meeting, which the powers-that-be make out to be all clandestine but which I know exactly what it will be about, and I need to park in a garage that is notorious for never having a space. So, I ask the cranky parking attendant if I could valet my car.  He asks how long I think I am going to be.

"Probably ten minutes," I answer.  "This won't take long.  Chances are, I'm going to get fired."

"Park your car right over here."

I wedge my car into a too-small space, thank him, head to my meeting.

Return 23 minutes later.

"Hi, it's me," I announce upon my arrival back in the garage, pointing to my car.

"Did you get fired?"

"Actually, yeah, I did."

His eyes widen. Mouth drops open.

"Oh, my God."

"It's OK. Really." As if he's the one that needs the consoling.

"Oh, I'm so, so sorry. I thought you were joking earlier. I didn't mean ...."

"It's all right. I'm fine. More than fine. This is a good thing."

"Who did you work for?"  He says this angrily, and I'm thinking he's going to rip off a muffler from the nearest vehicle and hunt them down.

"It doesn't matter."

"You look like you're a professional person," he says, taking notice of my interview suit. "You'll find something soon."

"Actually, now that you mention it," I say, needing all the good vibes I can get. "I'm headed to an interview right now."

"No kiddin'?"

"No kiddin'.  Told you this wasn't exactly a surprise."

"Well, I'll be! The last person I saw who was going on an interview, you know what I said to them?"

"What?"

"GOOD LUCK. And you know what? THEY. GOT. THE. JOB."

"How about that!"

"How about that, huh?"

A pause.

"Well, thanks for letting me valet. I 'preciate it."

"This is on me. You don't worry about this. You just go get your job."

I explain that I just pre-charged the payment with my credit card.

"Let me see what I can do about that," says my valet.

"You're very kind. Thank you," I say.

"And if you have another interview and you have to come back, you just ask for me."

"I'll do that. Thank you very much."

There's a phenomenon here called "Pittsburgh nice" and it's true, it really does exist. Where else can a stranger make you smile and feel this good within minutes after losing your job?

Beep beep! Beep beep! Yeah! 



copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Passionate Kisses, Garbage Disposals, and The Stuff That Dreams are Made Of


June 12, 2012
Flower this morning by our front steps.

"Is it too much to ask

I want a comfortable bed that won't hurt my back
Food to fill me up
And warm clothes and all that stuff
Shouldn't I have this? Shouldn't I have this
Shouldn't I have all of this, and
Passionate kisses, Passionate kisses, whoa oh oh
Passionate kisses from you...."
"Passionate Kisses" ~ Mary Chapin Carpenter


Nineteen years ago, I was waiting for the flowers to arrive. Maybe they were late, maybe they were early - I don't remember which. I don't remember those sorts of details anymore, the minutiae of momentous days that you swear you will always preserve like the dried flowers themselves.

But this. This is one of the things I remember, still and always.

I remember someone telling me to remember the little moments, to find a way to grab onto the intangibles of our wedding day. To take a moment and look out into the crowd at our reception later that evening; to really, really look at the people gathered there because (they didn't have to say it) someday they wouldn't be. And that person (whomever it was, for I don't remember) was right, because, like the song goes, some are dead (far too many) and some are living, but in my life I have, indeed, loved them all.

But in those moments of waiting for the flowers to arrive I was just sitting, listening to the music, and Mary Chapin Carpenter came on the radio, singing about comfortable beds that won't hurt one's back and pens that won't run out of ink and full houses and time to think and passionate kisses and shouldn't I have this, all of this, whoa, oh, oh.

And I danced and I sang - and I can't dance at all, and my kids tell me to shut up when I sing in the car, but later at the reception my groom and I would go on to surprise everyone by doing both.
* * *
Nineteen years later, this is a low-key anniversary, the kind that we probably won't remember. We're not at a bed and breakfast this weekend, nor at the family beach house, where we have traditionally combined our anniversary and Father's Day.

There weren't any plans to begin with, but especially now so because The Husband took a tumble down the deck stairs over the weekend so he is celebrating our 19th anniversary with a concussion. (He passed the memory tests at the doctor's yesterday, so we have all good reason to think he will be OK.)

Our big gift to each other will be a garbage disposal, and we couldn't be more excited, honest to God. A larger-than-life expense check from work (thanks to a crazy schedule of late) makes this and the fixing of the leaky pipe in the basement possible.Talk about things like comfortable beds that won't hurt one's back (got an achy-breaky one of those today, too), a garbage disposal is high atop my list of what I want for my anniversary.

Well, OK, that and Mary Chapin Carpenter's new CD "Ashes and Roses" which releases today and which is my anniversary gift from The Husband. As in:

Me, on Saturday, before The Concussion:  "You didn't get me an anniversary gift yet, did you?"
Him, laughing: "Of course not."
Me: "Oh, good! Then I'm going to order myself Mary Chapin Carpenter's new CD. [I'm old-fashioned that way.] It comes out on Tuesday."
Him: "Happy Anniversary."

That's what happens, I suppose when you reach these sorts of digits, and that's OK.  After 19 years, passionate kisses and garbage disposals are, to quote one of my other favorite singers, the stuff that dreams are made of.


Take a look around now
Change the direction
Adjust the tuning
Try a new translation
Don't look at your man in the same old way
Take a new picture
Just because you don't see shooting stars
Doesn't mean it isn't perfect
can't you see...

It's the stuff that dreams are made of
It's the slow and steady fire
It's the stuff that dreams are made of
It's your heart and soul's desire
It's the stuff that dreams are made of
"The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of" ~ Carly Simon 

Happy Anniversary to the guy I would marry all over again. 

(Yeah. Really.) 



copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Sunday Salon: The (Bookish) Week That Was



Well now, THAT was quite the bookish week we just had, wasn't it?

Between participating in Armchair BEA, and the reports coming in from folks who were at the actual BEA, and spending part of this weekend reading the recaps from those who attended BEA "Bloggers" event, it was ... interesting.

(Can I just say that, after reading the recaps of BEA "Bloggers" that I am quite glad that I had the experience of having gone in 2010 and 2011? Reading about the Book Bloggers UnCon gives me hope that there is someone who GETS IT and understands this whole book blogging scenario and what book bloggers are looking for in such a conference. I don't proclaim to be that person, but it sounds like there were at least a handful of people in New York last week who did. Thank God.)

I'll tell you one thing. If anything, this week - and the posts surrounding BEA, Armchair BEA and the various events - have made me think more about blogging and what the hell I'm doing (and not doing) here in this space than I have in a long time. And that's a good thing. I think.

Anyway, onto the books that I finished this week. There were two.

I told you a little about Buzz Bissinger's Father's Day in last week's Salon and I'll tell you about it again here - and in a review, when I get my thoughts together enough to formulate a coherent sentence. This is such a powerful book. I absolutely loved it, related to so much of it as a parent of a child with special needs, and I can see myself re-reading this one again. (A rarity for me.)

Lots of time in the car recently (traveling for work) allowed me to indulge in the audiobook of The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. I'm usually one to avoid novels that get a lot of hype, such as this one did when it was first published in 2003. But, I read Her Fearful Symmetry and really enjoyed that, so when I was looking at several long hours in the car, I thought this almost 18 hour audiobook would be a nice accompaniment. It did not disappoint, and in fact makes my list for one of the highest recommended audios. The narration is superb. (I like when there is a male and a female narrator.)

I worried that the jump in time would be confusing in this one, and it really wasn't.  If you have a long trip ahead of you this summer and are looking for an audiobook, you might want to consider this. (I will warn you though: there are several graphic scenes, so if you're traveling with someone who might take offense to some ... uh ... descriptive activities and terminology, you might want to select a different audio for public consumption.)


I seem to be on some kind of streak in that regard, because my current read has a bit of that, too. With My Body by Nikki Gemmell was sent to me for review by the wonderful ladies at TLC Book Tours.  (My tour date is June 21.) This intrigued me because of the premise: that of a married woman, mother of three, who is bored to death with her life, which seems to consist of a workaholic physician husband and the company of insufferable competitive mothers. Who can blame her (she doesn't have a name, a symbolic device for illustrating that the main character is all of us) for reaching backward for a time when she "lived her life with the honesty and passion that once drove her." (quotes from the back jacket cover)

I just started this one last night (I'm on page 43) but this seems to be a fast read. The chapters (which are titled "lessons") are brief, and even at 462 pages, I wouldn't be surprised to finish this one this week.

Another exciting bookish note along the lines of "the week that was": our library got e-books this week! This makes me so very happy. I checked out The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mantel. I don't think there are any renewals on these, however, so I might have to spend some time with this sooner rather than later, but that's OK. This is one that I've been looking forward to, and apparently, so have several other people. The e-books were just launched on Monday and more than a few e-titles already have holds on them.

Hope you're having a good Sunday!



copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Armchair BEA: Ask the Experts



Let's try this again, shall we? Thanks to the glass of Merlot I was drinking while writing my previous post, I screwed up the topic of today's Armchair BEA post. I should have written on Ask The Experts, in which we ask the visitors to our blogs for blogging advice. "What did you always want to know about blogging but were afraid to ask? Now is the time!  Alternatively, if you've been blogging for awhile, you've probably learned a thing or two. Whether you stumbled upon something that makes blogging easier or made a mistake you'd never want anyone to repeat, share your experience and wisdom with others."


I'll start with the asking for advice. As I mentioned earlier this week, I am giving serious thought to changing my blog's name. I know several of you have made this transition ... and if you have, I'd love to know what worked for you and what you would do differently. I have some thoughts on how to undertake this, but in terms of the actual mechanics of doing so (such as, how does this work with feeds and whatnot?) and how to promote this, that's where I could benefit from your wisdom.

As for my advice to you, that's actually a little harder because everyone's blog is different. Maybe you're a book blogger ... but maybe you're not. Maybe you've been been blogging for almost 4 years, like me, but maybe you've only been blogging for 4 days. It's impossible for me to give advice willy-nilly, so in that case, I'll open it up to questions.

What blogging advice can I give you?  Is there something you're wondering about or struggling with that I can try and help you with? Let me know in the comments and I'll answer them in a future post.

Finally, thanks to all the organizers of Armchair BEA for a fabulous week! It takes a lot of work to put something like this together and your tremendous effort definitely were noticed and appreciated! You really made us feel part of the entire BEA experience.



copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Armchair BEA: The Future of Blogging


If you listen to the naysayers, I shouldn't be writing this post at all.  As a blogger, I am dead.

Kind of like this clip from one of TV's greatest sitcoms ever, "All in the Family." (You'll probably have to advance to 21:23 to see what I mean.)



Ironically, this episode (about a snafu with the Veteran's Administration that mistakenly classifies Archie as deceased) is called "Archie and the Computer," and like many AITF episodes, it was ahead of its time.

I suppose some of us bloggers thought the same thing once. That we were on the cutting edge of something new, something big.  I don't count myself among those; rather, I count myself among those smacking their heads wondering why we didn't get in on this blogging thing sooner. Because, now, if the so-called experts are to be believed, we're a dying breed, soon to be extinct, going the way of the dinosaur.

I don't see it that way. Maybe because I don't want to see it that way.

I think - I hope - there will always be a place for good writing, for thoughts and ideas to be shared and discussed. And in particular for book bloggers, I hope there will always exist a forum to discover new books  that make us think and that take us new places. I'm sure that forum might change in some ways - those of us who have been at this a few years have seen the various trends come and go - but I hope that there will always be a place for everyone who wants one.

That's one of the many awesome things about the blogging world and, in particular, this book blogging community of ours. There really is room for everybody. At times it may not seem like it, but that's because this has grown to be such a large community in recent years. And for the most part, we're a welcoming, friendly kind of bunch. Hopefully, the folks who were at BEA in New York this week experienced that. I know I experienced that through Armchair BEA - with a stack of new blogs to follow and friends to get to know.

As for being a prognosticator, I tend to agree with many (if not all) of the points made in "The Future of Blogging" post on the Armchair BEA homepage. I do see a trend toward microblogging (even though I may not always practice it myself - although I am trying!) and among several of the longtime book bloggers I read, there seems to be a read of pulling back from giveaways and ARCs and even reviews. I hesitate to use the word burnout, but that's affected some of us too. In some cases, we're blogging maybe a little less frequently than we did in our earlier years. It's no secret that my own posting here has dwindled from almost daily to maybe 2-3 times per week ... and that's OK.

I think the key is to roll with the changes. I've made peace with the guilt with the somewhat infrequent posting at times, and I think my mom has come to understand that a lack of a post from me doesn't mean I'm dead in a ditch somewhere.

Despite what the blogging naysayers might think.

Updated to add: It has come to my attention that this was not exactly the designated Armchair BEA topic of the day. Allow this to be a lesson as to what happens when one blogs under the influence of two glasses of Blackberry Merlot, as I have been doing while writing this post. Whoops. 


Carry on with your weekend now. As you were. 


copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Armchair BEA: Let's Talk Networking



For Day 3 of Armchair BEA, we're to share our positive experiences of using our blogs to get involved in our community.  This can involve partnerships with the local literary scene, attending author events and signings, or getting together with local bloggers.

This is a harder question than it initially seemed (which might be why I'm getting today's response in under the wire). I'm kind of low-profile about my blog in real-life, to be honest. If you know me in real life, chances are the blog was not one of the first things I told you about myself. Maybe I think I am just talking to myself here.

That being said, I wouldn't mind changing that a little bit. I'm still pretty new to the Pittsburgh literary scene and I haven't gone to any author events here yet. I also don't know any local Pittsburgh book bloggers (at least, I don't think I know any). What I have done - which has been a wonderful thing - was join a local writers group, the Pittsburgh South Writers Group. That gives me a literary fix on a different kind of level and I'm incredibly grateful for the support these new friends have given me for my own novel in progress.

Turns out, the writers group and my blogging life intersected in an interesting way. One of my new friends in the writers group is Holly Christine, author of Tuesday Tells It Slant and The Nine Lives of Clemenza (both of which you can get on Kindle for a grand total of $1.99). Imagine my surprise when I went to my new friend's website and saw that several bloggers I read had already discovered and read my new real-life friend's book!

I'm not sure if that exactly answers today's question. Like many things, this networking thing is a work in progress, always evolving.



copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Wordless Wednesday: The Very Definition of Wordless, In My Book


In the spirit of BEA (and not being there this week), I give you my saddest book related photo ever. Forgive the quality, as this was taken by me with my cell phone yesterday as I sat at a red light. (Truly, my car was not moving.)



For more Wordless Wednesday photos, click here.



copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Armchair BEA: Best Books of 2012 (So Far) and a Surprise Giveaway!



Happy Tuesday, Armchair BEA friends!  Today our task is to highlight those books that we're most looking forward to from BEA. But ... well ... I'm finding that difficult to do because I'm kind of not exactly there and I haven't been keeping up on the pre-BEA buzz of the new titles.

I did hear that there's a new Barbara Kingsolver novel (Flight Behavior) and that Louise Erdrich has a new book (The Round House) and that Chris Bohjalian's The Sandcastle Girls is coming out in July.

(OK, so maybe I will take a quick peek at the BEA catalog after all.  Oh, look at that. There's a new collection of short stories by Alice Munro, too.)

Never mind me. What I had intended to post about today was my picks for Best Books of 2012 ... so far.  As is the case when I do this list at the end of the year, this includes those books that I read this year but that may have been published in earlier years. In some cases, they may have been published in many earlier years.  I think I've only read one book published in 2012, come to think of it.

Here are 7 books that are certain to be among my favorites read in 2012:


A Slant of Sun: One Child's Courage, by Beth Kephart 


Father's Day: A Journey Into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son
by Buzz Bissinger 




The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes  


The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey 


The Storm at the Door, by Stefan Merrill Block 


The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger 
(because I am the last person in the world to read this.) 

And now, for the surprise giveaway. Caught up in the spirit of Armchair BEA, I just decided to do this today, so this probably goes against all Armchair BEA rules and whatnot. I also don't know the first thing about that Rafflecopter thingamabob that's on other people's giveaways, so we're just going to have to do this the old-fashioned, boring way: by leaving a comment on this post, on this blog, by telling me you'd like my one very gently used paperback copy of This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman. 

From the publisher's description: When the Bergamots move from a comfortable upstate college town to New York City, they’re not quite sure how they’ll adapt—or what to make of the strange new world of well-to-do Manhattan. Soon, though, Richard is consumed by his executive role at a large New York university, and Liz, who has traded in her academic career to oversee the lives of their children, is hectically ferrying young Coco around town. Fifteen-year-old Jake is gratefully taken into the fold by a group of friends at Wildwood, an elite private school.
But the upper-class cocoon in which they have enveloped themselves is ripped apart when Jake wakes up one morning after an unchaperoned party and finds an email in his in-box from an eighth-grade admirer. Attached is an explicit video she has made for him. Shocked, stunned, maybe a little proud, and scared—a jumble of adolescent emotion—he forwards the video to a friend, who then forwards it to a friend. Within hours, it’s gone viral, all over the school, the city, the world.
The ensuing scandal threatens to shatter the Bergamots’ sense of security and identity, and, ultimately, their happiness. They are a good family faced with bad choices, and how they choose to react, individually and at one another’s behest, places everything they hold dear in jeopardy.

(If you want to leave a comment but don't want to be entered in the giveaway, that's fine ... just say so.)  Also, make sure I know how to contact you (i.e., leave me an email address). 

I'll confess that this wasn't my favorite book that I read this year - but that doesn't mean it won't work for you instead.  

I'll pick a winner this Saturday, June 9. 


copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.