Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Sunday Salon: Wolves at the Door


Tuesday is starting to loom large. We meet with the surgeon on Tuesday to learn The Husband's biopsy results and to discuss next steps. Most likely, that evening my life will resemble yet another episode of  "Parenthood" (telling a kid with Asperger's that a parent has cancer? check!) and we'll be having a conversation that nobody ever wants to have. So, things are a little subdued around here, to say the least.

I tried to distract myself with Bloggiesta this weekend but I confess, I wasn't quite feeling it this time around. That's absolutely no reflection on the awesome job that Danielle and Suey did in organizing this event - quite the contrary. I saved all of the mini-challenges to do later, because they look fantastic.

I managed to get a few things accomplished on the blog front, which I'm happy about, but today I had to get out of the house. There was a children's consignment sale being held not too far from us so Betty and I went down to see what they had. She needed some new pants and tops. Since today was the third day of the sale (it started Friday night), I wasn't sure what to expect, but we were pleasantly surprised. I wound up getting 17 items (mostly all name brand pants, tops, sweaters, etc.).

I'm ending September and starting October by reading Tell the Wolves I'm Home, a coming-of-age novel by Carol Rifka Brunt about a 14 year old girl who is trying to make sense of her beloved uncle's death from AIDS in 1987, when we didn't know much about this epidemic. 

Yeah. I know. 

When I heard about Tell the Wolves I'm Home earlier this summer, there was a part of me that sort of collapsed inside. If you've read any of my posts about The Novel in Progress, you know that this is incredibly, incredibly similar to the novel I'm writing - and have been, on and off, for the past 10 years or so. I don't think it's anything other than coincidental. 

Still, I wasn't sure if I was going to read Tell the Wolves I'm Home, if I wanted to read it, or if it was even a good idea for me to read it. 

But when I saw it in the library - face out on the New Books shelf, no less - I grabbed it and I realized what my hesitation was about. 

I was afraid. 

I was afraid that Tell the Wolves I'm Home would be better than my story, that it would make me abandon my novel, which I really don't want to do. 

Which I can't do. 

My reaction to this one so far is hard to explain. It's a highly personal one, and for me, Tell the Wolves I'm Home is a hell of an emotional ride on several levels. But even though I'm only on page 53, I'm enjoying the wolves. (How could I not? Junie is me, absolutely.) And overall, I'm glad I'm reading it, because although the storyline has some definite similarities, there are some differences too. I wouldn't have known that if I refused to read the book. 

I would have remained afraid. 

Sometimes you have to let the wolves in rather than pretending they're not there. 



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, September 28, 2012

It's Bloggiesta Time!



Ole, amigos! It's Bloggiesta time, which means that starting NOW and throughout the weekend, I will be participating in the fun-filled blogging event known as Bloggiesta.

Basically, this means that we blogging types spend a weekend working on our blogs, doing all those little chores and to-dos that often fall by the wayside and get neglected, things we keep meaning to do sometime, etc.

It's being hosted from today (9/28) through Sunday 9/30 by Danielle from There's a Book and Suey from It's All About Books) who have all kinds of fun things in store. 

Here's my To-Do List for this Bloggiesta (in no order):

1. Clean up my labels list on the sidebar. There are way too many.  COMPLETED! I got my labels down from 176 labels to 45. Looks so much better, don't you think? And, the best part was that I didn't have to delete any ... there's a feature in Blogger where you can decide which labels appear and which don't. Who knew? 

2. Awhile back, I had an issue with not enough photo storage available. Thankfully, that's now been fixed ... but my solution at the time was to delete some photos, which resulted in some posts having empty spaces where photos once stood. I need to add the photos back to those posts.

3. Go through my Book Reviews and add them to my Book Reviews Index page. (This has been an ongoing project.)  UPDATE: This has been more of a project than I'd anticipated. I just finished with the reviews that were missing from 2009. Yee gads. 

4. Continue adding my Book Reviews from here onto Goodreads. (Another ongoing project)

5. Create a page (or maybe even a separate blog!) for my Memorable Memoirs Reading Challenge. (At the very least, compile the reviews that people have been posting and do a post or a page or ... SOMETHING. I've been neglectful of this Challenge, and I apologize.)

6. I have about 270 posts in drafts. (I KNOW. That's ridiculous.) Go through them and delete what can be deleted and finish what can be easily finished. (UPDATE: I finished 6 of these posts, which are now saved for a rainy day.) 

7. Pre-write some posts, like Weekend Cooking posts and Book Reviews that have been pending. (UPDATE: Wrote book review of Love, In Theory.)

8. Pre-format end-of-year Reading Challenge wrap-up/progress posts to have in the queue.

9. Start working on end-of-year posts (it'll be here before we know it!)

10. Create a blog survey (I've never done one before and I'd like to.)

* * * * *
Bloggiesta Update #1, Saturday 9/29, 1:50 p.m.
I don't know what it is, exactly, but I'm just not feeling the whole Bloggiesta thing this time around. I'm more in a Read-a-thon frame of mind. What's up with that?

As I mentioned above, I've been working on getting some of the Book Reviews onto my Book Review Page. (I'm kind of proud of that page, if I do say so myself.) There were a bunch missing from 2009.

Last night my laptop was running hotter than usual, so I just shut it off and ended Bloggiesta early for the night and read. I wound up finishing Love, In Theory, which was a real good collection of short stories.

I'm going to visit some other blogs and see if that might help get my mojo back.

Update #2, Saturday, 4:23 p.m.
Just finished writing a book review - yay me! In the spirit of Bloggiesta, now I'm going to make enchiladas for dinner.

Update #3, Saturday, 8:06 p.m.
I got the Labels under control, which was something I wanted to do; I completed 6 posts that were lingering in Drafts; and I read a bunch of blogs. Oh, and the enchiladas turned out really well. Time for some reading. Might be calling it a night with Bloggiesta.



    I am an Amazon.com affiliate. Making a purchase through any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo.


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, September 27, 2012

from friends both near and far

And in the midst of everything, comfort from friends both nearby and far away.

The most perfect red rose.


Cookie pops for the kids.


Memories of long ago. 


And laughter, which cures all. 

Even at St. Eligius. 


 Especially at St. Eligius. 

With gratitude and love to you, my friends. 

Thank you. So very much.



    I am an Amazon.com affiliate. Making a purchase through any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo.


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.

Presence Into Presents

If you want a glimpse of what I do to try and pay a bill or two around here, I give you this:

The nice folks from Benchmark Email recently reached out to me to see if I'd be interested in submitting a guest post for their "Presence for Non-Profits" series. (It's a great series with incredible posts. If you're in the non-profit field, you'll want to take a few minutes and read them.)

This is the first time I've been ask to blog professionally about something in my field, which makes me a little proud of this piece, if I do say so myself.

3 Ways to Turn Your Non-Profit's Presence Into Presents

I'd love to hear your thoughts. And oh, hey? If you retweet the actual Benchmark post? The Benchmark people will enter you into a drawing to be eligible to win a Kindle Fire.

Told you they were nice folks.



    I am an Amazon.com affiliate. Making a purchase through any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo.


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, September 25, 2012

Honey, I Broke the Blog!

So, maybe I overreacted just a tad with this whole Feedburner is closing down right-this-second-but-definitely-in-October-but-oh-it's-just-the-API-what-the-hell-is-that-oh-look-the-sky-is-falling! business happening in the blogging world.

Over the weekend, when I started seeing posts from bloggers about subscriber counts in Feedburner plummeting to 0 and people jumping ship to Feedblitz, I was worried. Maybe I needed to move my feed, too.

So I did ... to Feedcat.

You know that advice to listen to your instinct? Yeah, I didn't take it. For various reasons, I wasn't comfortable with this right from the beginning. And after several days, I've had enough and I'm switching back.

To Feedburner, which seems to be working again.

I need to ask you to change your subscription to The Betty and Boo Chronicles AGAIN. I truly apologize. I also apologize to those of you on Twitter or elsewhere to whom I suggested Feedcat to as an option. I'm truly very sorry.

So. Let's try this again, once more with feeling:
1. Go to http://bettyboochronicles.blogspot.com
2. Go to the right hand column.
3. Decide whether you would like to receive The Betty and Boo Chronicles via a reader (there's a drop down menu with the arrow) or by email (just type in your email address).
Then we can forget that the whole thing ever happened, 'kay?

Thanks so much.



    I am an Amazon.com affiliate. Making a purchase through any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo.





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.

Martha, My Dear

Cabrini College
Taken by me on June 6, 2010 during Alumni Weekend
In the background is the Mansion, the building we worked in and which Martha
worked tirelessly (and succeeded) to get on the National Register of Historic Places.

There are, in this world, people who through their work become so connected and so synonymous with a place that after many years (decades even) it becomes impossible to think of one without the other.

We all know just such a person, though, don't we? If you're lucky, like me, maybe a few such gems have fallen like stars into your life.

Martha was one of those gems, one of those shining stars.

* * *
Back in the late '80s, our part-time jobs in the Office of Public Relations at our small Catholic college were to do whatever was needed. And whatever was needed included such glamorous tasks such as typing memos (on actual typewriters!) and stuffing envelopes until our fingers became serrated from paper cuts.

Sometimes we were sent over to Alumni Affairs to help them out if they were busy - which they also often were. This became more than a job, more than busywork, more than a much-needed paycheck for our ... ahem, only-the-good-die-young Catholic college weekend pleasures.

I had no way of knowing it at the time, but the people surrounding my 19-year-old self would become my future references and my touchstones who would keep me personally and professionally grounded.

Martha was all of those.

As the Director of Alumni Affairs of our small Catholic college for nearly 30 years, we kind of knew it was Martha's job to pay attention to us as students (and, later, of course, as alums) but we kind of forgot it was her job. She made it seem easy while making us feel special. Always with a warm smile and an abundance of time for the students, no matter how busy she was, Martha took a genuine interest in our classes and our love interests. She was as much immersed in our lives as if she was our roommate. For years afterward, whenever we met, she would share in our college memories as if she lived them alongside with us.

That's because she did.

Another thing that I had no way of knowing at the time:

I never expected to become a Director of Alumni Affairs of a small Catholic college, one that fiercely competed with my own alma mater, no less. Like many people of my generation who became fundraising professionals, I'm one of those who "fell into" the profession - as if it was something of an accident, as if the job is akin to quicksand, ready to devour you and sink your soul.

In my days as an alumni director, the mid-late '90s in development and fundraising found us all on the cusp of change. We tried making sense of it all. We needed a little help from our friends, as The Beatles famously said - but not just any friends. No. Friends who understood the intricacies and the demands zinging from many, and the long hours and the behind-the-scenes-but-always-on nature of the work. We needed friends who had the same issues, who invented and reinvented all the wheels and who knew the names of every one of the spokes. We needed help flossing through the murk and the ethics and assuaging our personal emotions and profound hurt amidst the hubris of others; we needed to see others who endured, who came out the other side tested, a bit battle-worn but stronger for the fight.

As the seasons shifted on our respective stately, mansioned, and rotunda'ed campuses, we became known as The Catholic 7, representing the alumni directors of seven small Catholic colleges in the Philadelphia suburbs. Ours was a sorority of sorts (with a guy or two thrown in) and our quarterly meetings ones where we gathered for sustenance of every kind - food, laughter, and the comfort of knowing there were people to help us work through our unique professional challenges together.

The Grande Dames of the Catholic 7 were, we all knew, women who had held the role of alumni director at a small, Philadelphia area Catholic college each for decades.

Mag.

Grace.

Martha.

And then me, just a year or two into my job.

Collectively, they had lifetimes of experience on me, yet they welcomed me to the roundtable. Theirs wasn't an exclusive club. My ideas were listened to and in turn, I soaked up their words of advice and wisdom as if it were the Holy Spirit speaking.

They mentored me, taught me all I know about donor relations and stewardship, but no one in the Catholic 7 did this moreso or better than Martha. Of all of them, it was Martha with whom I had the strongest connection, for this once-her-student worker-stuffing-envelopes-now-professional-colleague relationship was a unique concoction. One part bemusement, the other part pride, in that circle I was hers: a graduate of her college, a product of her office. All I wanted to do was to make her look good, to make her proud.

Martha died yesterday morning and I felt a part of myself crumble. I was sitting in a hospital as The Husband was undergoing surgery as the news streamed through my cell phone from college friends. I realized again how lucky I was to have known Martha in the different roles I've played - a student worker, an alumni volunteer, a professional peer and colleague. I thought of my days with the formidable women of The Catholic 7 and hoped that their institutions of Catholic higher education, like the one I'm a proud graduate of, realize just how many riches untold and uncounted are owed to their alumni director. They stand today on the seeds sown by these often unsung women.

As we mourn Martha and share our memories and heartbreak, we remember how special she made us feel. And we realize that in our sadness, she has stealthily done it once again. She has made it seem so easy. By connecting us in our grief, she has strengthened our everlasting and unchanging bonds to each other - for in the end, that's all any of us have - while bringing us right back to our roots and to where we spread our wings to fly.


    I am an Amazon.com affiliate. Making a purchase through any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo.


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, September 23, 2012

The Sunday Salon: Distractions



From the outside, it looks like a normal Sunday here (football on TV, leftovers for lunch, some things needing to be picked up from the store). Yet, there is nothing typical about today.

The Husband's surgery is early tomorrow morning, and so we are spending today trying to adhere to the normal Sunday routine with all the aforementioned activities.

He's expending his nervous energy by focusing on the football games; I'm burning through mine by cursing Feedburner and futzing with the blog and contemplating what book would be best to take to the hospital tomorrow to distract me while waiting. (We've been told to anticipate a 4 hour procedure.) Every title that I have on my nightstand seems to have a hidden meaning. (Goodbye For Now? Um ... no. The English Patient? You're Not You? The other people getting cancer biopsies might not appreciate that. The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving? Fits the mood, but I don't think so.)

This is where the Kindle becomes your best friend.

I haven't been doing much reading this week. I was busier than anticipated on the "getting the freelancing career up and running" front and I was thrilled to be able to spend Thursday with one of my college friends who happened to be in Pittsburgh. So, I'm still working my way through Love, In Theory (another appropriately descriptive title for the hospital waiting room!), a short story collection by E.J. Levy that I'm on deck to review for TLC Book Tours on Tuesday. So far I'm enjoying it, despite only being on the second story. I'll probably wind up bringing this to the hospital with me.

(Oh, and as always, thanks for all your thoughts and prayers. They're much appreciated and feel free to keep them coming.)


    I am an Amazon.com affiliate. Making a purchase through any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo.



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, September 22, 2012

Countdown to Bloggiesta! (who's bringing the margaritas?)


Did you know Bloggiesta is Spanish for "a day to do all those little chores to clean up your blog" ?

It's true.

I know this because every time Bloggiesta rolls around, that's what we do. It's an entire weekend that we spend working on our blogs. (Which, in this case, makes it no different than any other weekend around here.)

Bloggiesta is being held next weekend, September 28-30, and our hosts (Danielle from There's a Book and Suey from It's All About Books) have all kinds of fun things in store.

Here's what Danielle says to expect if you decide to participate in the Fall 2012 Bloggiesta:

  • to spend time that weekend (as much or as little as your schedule allows) working on your blog
  • to create a to do list to share on your blog and link up with other participants
  • to hopefully participate in several mini challenges and learn something new
  • to connect with other participants through blog hopping or twitter
  • to make new blogging friends!
  • to come away at the end of the three days with a spiffed up blog!

I will confess: I got a little bit of a head start on Monday by creating a Press page and a Contact Me/ Hire Me page. Even though I write a separate blog where I talk about philanthropy, fundraising, social media, and nonprofits, I'm at the point of my quest for new employment where I need to maximize my use of every available tool in the shed before we wind up actually living in ours. So I made the decision to be a little more self-promotional and public with those two pages here on the blog. A bit outside my comfort zone, but ... well.

Here's my To-Do List for this Bloggiesta (in no order):
  • Clean up my labels list on the sidebar. There are way too many. 
  • Awhile back, I had an issue with not enough photo storage available. Thankfully, that's now been fixed ... but my solution at the time was to delete some photos, which resulted in some posts having empty spaces where photos once stood. I need to add the photos back to those posts. 
  • Go through my Book Reviews and add them to my Book Reviews Index page. (This has been on ongoing project.)
  • Continue adding my Book Reviews from here onto Goodreads. (Another ongoing project)
  • Create a page (or maybe even a separate blog!) for my Memorable Memoirs Reading Challenge. (At the very least, compile the reviews that people have been posting and do a post or a page or ... SOMETHING. I've been neglectful of this Challenge, and I apologize.)
  • Pre-format end-of-year Reading Challenge wrap-up/progress posts to have in the queue. 
  • Start working on end-of-year posts (it'll be here before we know it!) 

I'm sure I will think of more to-do's throughout the week. In the meantime, join me in signing up for Bloggiesta! 


    I am an Amazon.com affiliate. Making a purchase through any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo.


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, September 21, 2012

those who walk among us

photo taken by me September 20, 2012
Phipps Botanical Gardens and Conservatory
Pittsburgh, PA

I placed the items from my grocery cart (I mean buggy; they call them buggies here) onto the conveyor belt. Moving on autopilot, I unloaded and grouped my purchases in a certain, particular order as the cashier finished with the person ahead of me.

Rule of Thumb #528 About Living in Pittsburgh:

Simple errands like going to Giant Eagle to pick up a few groceries will ALWAYS take you twice as long as you've planned because ... people talk to you.

A lot.

You often wind up in conversations with total strangers. Sometimes several times during the same shopping trip. When he asks about your accent, you'll tell the elderly gentleman behind the Prepared Foods counter that you're from Philadelphia and you'll learn that his daughter lives on the Main Line. Or the person stocking ice cream will see you pondering the flavors on sale and will helpfully point out that if you buy three Edys this week, you also get an additional .10 of FuelPerks, until next Wednesday.

"Every penny counts these days," you'll answer.

"Absolutely. Crazy how prices are..." your new friend will reply, and then you'll be commiserating about the economy like two BFFs at the beauty shop.

I've had a lot on my mind lately. A spouse's potential cancer diagnosis tends to do that. But yesterday was a welcome reprieve, a much-needed one. It was a spectacularly glorious day here in Pittsburgh and when I was loading up my groceries at Giant Eagle, I had just finished spending the afternoon with one of my absolute favorite college friends and his partner and one of his longtime friends, showing them Pittsburgh for the first time and just forgetting about life for awhile.

Part of me was still living in 1988 as I hoped I had enough time to drop off the groceries and pick up my kids, which is why I wasn't paying much attention to the person ahead of me in line at Giant Eagle. For whatever their own reasons were, the person probably didn't notice me either.

Like a robot, the cashier said the same thing to her as he did to everyone else that passed through his line. "Thank you for shopping at Giant Eagle. You have a wonderful day."

She left.

The cashier started to greet me and then looked down.

The previous person's groceries were still sitting there.

Bagged. Paid for.

"Oh, my God," the cashier muttered in frustration. "Sarah!" he hollered, calling over to another employee. He explained to his coworker that the previous customer just left, forgetting all her purchases. He pointed to the customer as she was walking past Customer Service, past the Floral Department, past Produce and on her way toward the doors.

He returned his attention to me.

"For God's sake, really," he said, still annoyed with the previous customer. "Pays and then leaves all her groceries here. I mean, what kind of person DOES THAT?"

I see the world a little differently than other people, I wanted to tell him.

The kind of person who maybe just got a cancer diagnosis. 
The kind of person whose spouse or child just got a cancer diagnosis. 
The kind of person whose partner or parent just died. 
The kind of person who was just served with divorce papers. 
The kind of person who is recovering from a brain injury.
The kind of person who has early Alzheimer's.
The kind of person who just lost a loved one. 
The kind of person who just lost their job. 
The kind of person who is wondering if tonight is the night their significant other will kill her and her kids.
The kind of person who has been up all night with an autistic child experiencing night terrors. 
The kind of person who just saw someone in Giant Eagle who looked like someone who has been gone a long time.
The kind of person who just heard a song on the speakers overhead that took them back to another place, another time, and they just had to escape it. 

What kind of person forgets their groceries after paying for them?

"The kind of person who has a lot on their mind," I said to the cashier.

The kind of person I wish I'd struck up a conversation with, who I looked for (but knew I wouldn't see) in the parking lot to just pass along a smile to say: 

I've been there. I am there. 



    I am an Amazon.com affiliate. Making a purchase through any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo.



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, September 19, 2012

Book Review: The Sense of An Ending, by Julian Barnes


The Sense of an Ending 
by Julian Barnes
Alfred A. Knopf
2011
163 pages 

Have I recommended this book to you yet? No?

Well, The Sense of an Ending has become my default answer to everyone who asks me for a good book to read - and it will be for some time to come. Because, you know, when people know you're an avid reader, all of a sudden you're their go-to girl for all the good books to read. Which, is not a bad thing. (Sometimes.)

I digress.  I can also sum up this review in four words.

I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK.

I mean, I'm talking I loved everything about this little book. Usually there's something that my critical, nit-picky self can find fault with. Not here. The well-defined characters, the gorgeous writing (I could quote from this all day), how Julian Barnes packed SO MUCH into so few pages ... it's so well worth being named the winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize, and you know me when it comes to book prizes - I kind of eschew them. Take 'em or leave them. But The Sense of An Ending deserves every accolade and then some.

Really, if there's anything I don't like about this it is the publisher's description, which says that this
intense novel follows Tony Webster, a middle-aged man, as he contends with a past he never thought much about—until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance: one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present. Tony thought he left this all behind as he built a life for himself, and his career has provided him with a secure retirement and an amicable relationship with his ex-wife and daughter, who now has a family of her own. But when he is presented with a mysterious legacy, he is forced to revise his estimation of his own nature and place in the world.
That makes The Sense of an Ending sound sort of freakish and a bit sinister. That's NOT what this is. Rather, this is a gorgeous novel about time and memory.
"We live in time - it holds us and moulds us - but I've never felt I understood it very well. And I'm not referring to theories about how it bends and doubles back, or may exist elsewhere in parallel versions. No, I mean ordinary, everyday time, which clocks and watches assure us passes regularly: tick-tock, click-clock. Is there anything more plausible than a second hand? And yet it takes only the smallest pleasure or pain to teach us time's malleability. Some emotions speed it up, others slow it down; occasionally, it seems to go missing - until the eventual point when it really does go missing, never to return." (pg 3-4) 
More, please. With those exquisite lines, Barnes had me absolutely hooked on this story. The first section, which illuminated Tony's school days (and those of his close friends, Alex, Colin, and Adrian), has a "Dead Poets Society" feel to it.
In those days, we imagined ourselves as being kept in some kind of holding pen, waiting to be released into our lives. And when that moment came, our lives - and time itself - would speed up. How were we to know that our lives had in any case begun, some damage already inflicted? (pg. 10) 
I could quote from this book all day, but that would just prevent you from reading it. Speaking of which, some other reviewers have said that this is a book that is meant to be read in one sitting - and I completely agree. I'd even go so far as to say that The Sense of an Ending would even make for a good, intelligent beach book for those who enjoy reading something of substance along with their sand and surf.
We knew from our reading of great literature that Love involved Suffering, and would happily have got in some practice at Suffering if there was an implicit, perhaps even logical, promise that Love might be on its way.
This was another of our fears: that Life wouldn't turn out to be like Literature. Look at our parents - were they the stuff of Literature? At best, they might aspire to the condition of onlookers and bystanders, part of a social backdrop against which real, true, important things could happen. Like what? The things Literature was all about: love, sex, morality, friendship, happiness, suffering, betrayal, adultery, good and evil, heroes and villains, guilt and innocence, ambition, power, justice, revolution, war, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, the individual against society, success and failure, murder, suicide, death, God. And barn owls. (pg. 16) 
Brilliance. How can you not love writing like this?

I certainly do, and so very much that this is going to be one of the rare books that I will likely (at some point) read again and possibly even purchase. (I very rarely re-read books, and even more rarely do I purchase books that I've borrowed from the library.)  The Sense of an Ending is that good.

5 out of 5 stars (and then some).




    I am an Amazon.com affiliate. Making a purchase through any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo.


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, September 18, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Some Bookish People I Want to Meet


This week's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, asks us to reveal the names of the bookish people (authors, bloggers, etc.) we'd like to meet.

I'm not even going to touch the bloggers because the answer to that would be everyone I haven't met yet. Easy one there.

So, in the event any said author bookish people (an oxymoron, I know) are actually reading this, I will also add this: given my current unemployed between jobs status, I have more free time than usual and should you wish for any such meeting to occur and you happen to be in the vicinity of Pittsburgh (because I am too broke to travel anywhere), feel free to look me up.

(This will be difficult for some of you because some of you are, unfortunately, dead, which might require some special arrangements for our meeting.)

Still, in no particular order, some bookish people I'd really like to meet:

1. Judy Blume - because I'd love to tell her how much her books meant to me and I'd like to give her a hug.

2. Michael Cunningham - to say how how much I love his writing.

3. Lorrie Moore - to apologize for not liking A Gate at the Stairs more than I did but to say that Birds of America is still one of my taking-to-a-desert-island books.

4. Flannery O'Connor - because she would be a hoot and because I love her. And I have questions.

5. Every parent of a special needs kid who has ever written a memoir, contributed to an anthology, or written a blog post -  because you get this life and what it is like.

6. Carolyn Haywood - because I'd like to give her this blog post.

7. Randy Shilts - so I can say thank you for And the Band Played On.

8. Marion Winik - because I just loved First Comes Love and every word she's ever written thereafter (and because I want to give her a hug too).

9. The literary agent who would like to represent me and my novel in progress.

10. ... and the publisher who would like to buy it for a large sum.


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, September 16, 2012

The Sunday Salon


Fall is definitely here, even if the calendar says it is still officially summer. We've had football on TV all day, I made Honey Apple Muffins for dinner, I just had to come in from sitting on the deck because it was too chilly ... and this week I finished my first book for R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril.

That would be the short story collection Steampunk Poe, featuring stories and poems by Edgar Allan Poe with a twist of steampunk. Upon picking this up at the library, I was concerned that someone had actually altered Poe's work. You know how you hear about that sort of thing every so often: someone trying to "modernize" a classic to make it more appealing.

Thankfully, that's not the situation here. All of Poe's stories that are represented here (including favorites like "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "The Tell-Tale Heart" and new-to-me stories like "The Spectacles" and "The Balloon Hoax") are intact. The steampunk elements come into play with the illustrations.

The result is a fun book, a good introduction to Poe, and one that would be appealing to a YA audience. (This was in the teen section of our library.) A perfect read for Peril of the Short Story category of R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril.

I switched gears dramatically after that.

Boleto by Alyson Hagy. Oh, my word.

I wasn't sure what to expect with this because, sadly, I didn't get much further than the first few pages with Alyson Hagy's Snow, Ashes. So, I was kind of ambivalent but I knew her writing was supposed to be wonderful and I wanted to give her a second chance.

I'm so glad I did. This was not what I was expecting. This novel - a modern day Western, if you will - about a 23 year old guy who purchases a young horse believing that she is his ticket to ... what, exactly? Happiness? Success? Love? Whatever it is, Boleto absolutely had me riveted.

I almost don't want to say too much about this because I'm going to try and have a review up tomorrow (or soon thereafter) but this was so different than most books I read. It was so wonderfully complex. There is much that I don't think I actually "got", but for some reason that is okay.

I'm on the TLC Book Tour coming up for Love, In Theory and since my review date is coming up soon (next Tuesday, September 25), I need to spend some time this week with these 10 stories by E.J. Levy. When this one was pitched to me, they mentioned that it won the Flannery O'Connor Award - and I replied that I was immediately sold. I love Flannery O'Connor, and any short story collection that can draw a comparison to her in any way whatsoever is one that I'm interested in.

Finally, in the spirit of Rosh Hashanah, whether you celebrate or not, sending you many wishes tonight for health, happiness, and peace in the year ahead.






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.

Youse Want Dat Philly Cheesesteak Wit or Wit'out Da Turtle?

As seen yesterday in our local Shop n' Save supermarket here, north of Pittsburgh.


Yinz think someone here in Pittsburgh has a slight issue with Philadelphia?

It's one thing to dis our sports teams. But, when you start messing wit our cheesesteaks, well ... them's fightin' words.



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, beer, wine, photographs.






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, September 15, 2012

the week that was

Bird's nest in a bush in our front yard.
Photo taken by me, September 1, 2012
If you're playing along at home on Facebook, you know this has been a rough ride of a week here.

Actually, make that a rough ride of two weeks plus. That's when The Husband's doctor called to say that they didn't like something they saw on his MRI.

As much as I tried to reassure him ("this is Pittsburgh, they're nice here"), there was no mistaking the seriousness of the doctor's tone - or the fact that the doctor herself was calling with the results, less than 24 hours after the test. Maybe this was just a cyst. But she wanted to do a CT scan with dye to be sure.

To be sure of what we were seeing. To be sure it hadn't spread.

Some background. Eight years ago this month, The Husband was in a pretty bad car accident that left him with three herniated discs in his neck. Medicine helps, to a degree. We've done the rounds of injections, with little success. Through it all, he's been able to still work. Most importantly, thankfully, he's still here.

But fatherhood changed that day. Gone was the playful roughhousing with our then-toddler twins, the swooping airplane-rides of kids in the air, the intense sensory activities that our boy with autism needed; the crazy dancing at weddings, walks around the neighborhood and bike rides after dinner and baseball catches in the backyard.

We adapted to sitting on the sidelines more than we liked and settled into a rhythm of family life that has been working for us. We know no different while being grateful for what we have and knowing that others have situations in life that are far, far worse.

In June of this year, The Husband stepped out onto our covered deck and announced he was going to sit outside in the backyard instead, under a tree.

I remained inside, on this very laptop, oblivious to The Husband's fall down the back steps, his headfirst crash.

A concussion. A doctor's note stating to stay home from work for a week. A week at the shore cancelled.

June turned into July into August and the neck pain didn't cease. Long distance driving became difficult. Sleeping became restless. Being out in the sun was downright painful. The doctor ordered the MRI.

Which led to the discovery of something new, something completely unexpected.

Something completely and entirely unrelated to the herniated discs.

I type the words two quarter-sized tumors on the thyroid, one near an artery; strong possibility of thyroid cancer and it still seems a little surreal.

Surreal because I'm the type who likes to play The "What If" Game. What if you hadn't fallen down the steps? Then the tumors wouldn't have been discovered ... definitely not this early. What if we weren't called to buy this very house with this deck and (now overgrown) backyard we fell in love with? Would there have been other steps to fall down? What if we never moved to Pittsburgh? Would this have been found in Delaware? In Philadelphia? What if I hadn't lost my job? The fall was the busiest season at that job; I wouldn't have been able to take care of The Husband or I would have had to quit, with no income (there was no FMLA available there). Maybe there is a reason why this job hunt hasn't panned out quite yet.

As the doctor said, "I don't know if you believe in God, but there's no reason you should be here."  Meaning that, not that this is a dire prognosis if it is cancer (quite the opposite), but rather that there was no reason, sans the fall and the concussion, to be having the MRI/CT scan in the first place. Hence, no reason that the tumors would have ever been found.

I am a believer that things happen for reasons, often unknown to us at the time, if ever. I believe that we are where we are meant to be.

We are meant to be here.

I've said that silently and aloud countless times over the past week, since returning from last weekend's emotional trip of being with friends and family in Philadelphia.

I'm not sure what the road ahead looks like. I do know that we're encouraged by the stories that others have shared, of loved ones who have had thyroid cancer and the statistics I've researched in the insomnia of my nights. Ironically, September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. We always did do things in a timely fashion.

We are very much in a new place. As several people have said, this must be particularly scary being 6 hours away from our friends and family, where we don't know many people yet. It is, very much so. But from what we've seen this week - an offer of babysitting help from a work colleague of The Husband's, another from a writing group friend of mine; a doctor who fit in an emergency appointment within an hour; another caring doctor who has checked in repeatedly - all make me believe that there are people in our midst who care and want to help.

Our next step is a CT scan with biopsy on September 24 to determine if, indeed, we are looking at thyroid cancer. Till then, we keep on doing what we always do: taking this life for what it is.

"Every one of us is called upon, probably many times, to start a new life. 
A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, a loss of a job ...
And onward full tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, 
driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore. 
To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another 
- that is surely the basic instinct ...
Crying out: High tide! Time to move out into the glorious debris. 
Time to take this life for what it is."

Barbara Kingsolver, "High Tide in Tucson"


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, September 13, 2012

BBAW: P**p This Book


Okay, today's Book Blogger Appreciation Week topic is one that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy ('cause it is about books, yo) while also making me cringe.

One little word is showing up in the prompts in most of the 330+ book blogs I read this morning and it's giving me the creeps.

(The word pimp - as in "pimp this book" - gives me the heebie-jeebies. For the record, the word "gush" has the same effect on me. Which is probably understandable.)

Excuse me while I take a moment.

However, I am all about giving some books that may have been overlooked some well-deserved recognition and loooooove. I just don't want to feel like I need a shower after doing so.

That being said, I want to highlight two books which I looooooved but which I haven't written full-fledged reviews yet. I'm hoping to do so, but until then, suffice it to say that you really need to read these.


The Storm at the Door, by Stefan Merrill Block

I'm cutting and pasting from the publisher's description here, because there's just too much to summarize about this one and I didn't do a proper review. 

The past is not past for Katharine Merrill. Even after two decades of volatile marriage, Katharine still believes she can have the life that she felt promised to her by those first exhilarating days with her husband, Frederick. For two months, just before Frederick left to fight in World War II, Katharine received his total attentiveness, his limitless charms, his astonishing range of intellect and wit. 

Over the years, however, as Frederick’s behavior and moods have darkened, Katharine has covered for him, trying to rein in his great manic passions and bridge his deep wells of sadness: an unending project of keeping up appearances and hoping for the best. But the project is failing. Increasingly, Frederick’s erratic behavior, amplified by alcohol, distresses Katharine and their four daughters and gives his friends and family cause to worry for his sanity. When, in the summer of 1962, a cocktail party ends with her husband in handcuffs, Katharine makes a fateful decision: She commits Frederick to Mayflower Home, America’s most revered mental asylum.

Inspired by elements of the lives of the author’s grandparents, this haunting love story shifts through time and reaches across generations. Along the way, Stefan Merrill Block stunningly illuminates an age-old truth: even if one’s daily life appears ordinary, one can still wage a silent, secret, extraordinary war.



I am trying to get The Husband to read this, but so far, no avail. He's typical of most dads of special needs kids, I think: he loves his kid deeply but he leaves the book-reading and the researching and the memoirs to me. Father's Day is raw, honest, powerful and emotional from a dad's point of view. I read it in the spring and I am still searching for the words to do this one justice. It's not one to read upon the moment of diagnosis, however. It's one for later, when you've been in the trenches a little bit.

Both of these books, when I think back on my reading year of 2012 thus far, are ones that immediately come to mind. There are others, of course, the blockbusters that have been all over the New York Times bestseller lists and the blogs, but these have lingered.

These are special.


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, September 12, 2012

you're missing

"Everything is everything, but you're missing."

Notice anything missing from yesterday's front page of The New York Times?

Take a good look. Glance at the date again.

I'll give you a reminder: September 11, 2012.

Anything significant about that date?

So, let's ask the question again, perhaps in a different way. Notice any mention of an incident, a coordinated and well-funded terrorist attack in New York City, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania that happened 11 years ago on this date and killed more than 3,000 people?

Nope, I didn't see anything either.

I am at an absolute loss for words here about The New York Times' decision not to include a single mention of the 9/11 anniversary on their front page.

Actually, I do have some words.

Appalled.

Stunned.

Dismayed.

Angry.

Saddened.

My first reaction upon reading about this was, ironically, not too far removed from my reaction when hearing that a plane struck one of the towers. That's a joke, right? Some kind of horrible accident?

Um, no.

The omission of coverage on 9/11/2012 on the front page by The New York Times was deliberate.

"The pain, the outrage, the loss – these never fade. The amount of journalism, however, must," wrote Margaret Sullivan, the Times' reader representative, in yesterday's opinion pages.

Not like the folks at The New York Times give a damn about my opinion, but indulge me as I take issue with this notion that "the amount of journalism, however, must."

I'm having some trouble with that line of thinking, folks. Alas, The Gray Lady isn't helping me out with her reasoning.

Sullivan writes in her blog post that she discussed the diminished coverage with two of her editors, including Wendell Jamieson, the deputy metropolitan editor. “You look for an angle that has news value,” he said, “and you ask can we mark this day in a creative, exciting and journalistically meaningful way.”

New York Times editor Jill Abramson is also quoted as saying last month, on an appearance on “Morning Joe” (which I have additional separate issues with, but that's another soapbox rant), that the Times is “less of a New York paper than it was when I was growing up here and addicted to reading it.”
New York is still part of our DNA and important to the soul of the publication, but the actual metro area has, over time, been not the main part of our print readership. And online it’s more of an international and national audience.
Back to Sullivan's blog post, in which she also writes:
You might call it “anniversary journalism.” Every year, the anniversary of D-Day, the commemoration of Veterans Day and other important dates cause journalists to try to find the right balance between what readers think is appropriate and necessary and the lack of any actual news to drive the coverage.
Often, other than the local events surrounding an anniversary, there isn’t always much to say that is original. Yet, readers, understandably, want the dates remembered in a substantial way.
Yes. Yes, we do. At least, this one does.

So, if I'm understanding this reasoning correctly, the lack of journalistic coverage given to 9/11 by The New York Times was a) deliberate; b) done because there wasn't anything new to say about an event that happened 11 years ago and c) doesn't pertain to the paper's main readership, which is an international and national audience.

The deliberateness issue is one that ... well, God help us all.

The nothing new to say? That's sloppy journalism at its best. Pure and simple.

Doesn't pertain to the international and national audience readership? I'm sorry, I was under the impression that 9/11 was a global event, one that affected people from every nation and changed the world as we know it.

I understand that the Times did some stories a few days, weeks, whatever in advance of the 9/11 anniversary. Cool. Let me dust off your Pulitzer.

I'm well aware that I am probably in the minority with this thinking, thanks to several smart and usually reasonable and nice Facebook friends of mine trying their damnedest to set me straight. They are telling me that maybe we've had enough, that it is more than time to move on, to let the families grieve in peace.

Well, I don't presume to know what the hell the loved ones of those killed want or don't want. I'm not their spokesperson. I'd imagine that, to a person, they probably have mixed and complex feelings; that they remember, recognize and respect this day in their own way. I will say this: The people I know who have experienced a loss through 9/11 are ones who I have come to know through their words in their blogs and their books.

People like Allison and Abigail.

By sharing their words with us on the anniversary of this fateful day, Allison and Abigail are asking us to remember, too. Yes, they have moved on. But make no mistake: they still remember and they always will.

And so should we. And if some of us need a heavy handed reminder to do that, I have no problem with that.

Maybe that's one of the reasons why I'm having a bit of a hard time with The New York Times not acknowledging the anniversary on 9/11 itself - NOT TO MENTION the day after, relegating the event to a front page photo caption and a news story buried on page A24 that was so shoddy in its reporting that it could have been recycled from any of the previous 9/11 anniversaries. It didn't even feel like any of the reporters were there.

How does it then become okay for The New York Times to silence Allison and Abigail, to make the judgment call for them that the amount of journalism must fade?

I find that unacceptable.

Because when we allow the coverage to fade to black and when we allow a television station to usurp a moment of silence to keep up with the Kardashians' chirpy blabber about breasts, this is what happens:

We run the risk of cheapening a day of sacrifice from people crashing 500 miles an hour to their deaths in a Pennsylvania field, from people being blown out of their office chairs at the Pentagon, from people rushing up skyscraper stairs in towers of flames in Manhattan. Where once heroes and heroines busted down doors to save lives, someday soon they'll be honored in the way we do the Pilgrims, with a special 4 am Doorbuster September 11 Let's Roll Back the Prices to 2001! Sale at Walmart.

Yesterday, in making a decision to fade out the amount of journalism coverage given to 9/11 on the actual day, The New York Times dropped a ball as big as that one in Times Square. And in doing so, we saw the ushering in of a new era.

One that erodes our stories, our memories, our history, our duty, our obligation, our legacy to 3,000 people silenced forever.

"They took all the footage off my T.V.
Said it's too disturbing for you and me
It'll just breed anger that's what the experts say
If it was up to me I'd show it everyday....
....Have you forgotten how it felt that day?
To see your homeland under fire
And her people blown away
Have you forgotten when those towers fell?
We had neighbors still inside going thru a living hell....
....Have you forgotten all the people killed?
Yeah, some went down like heroes in that Pennsylvania field
Have you forgotten about our Pentagon?
All the loved ones that we lost and those left to carry on....
...Have you forgotten?
Have you forgotten?
Have you forgotten?"



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, September 11, 2012

Meet Julie from My Book Retreat



Each year during Book Blogger Appreciation Week, we have the opportunity to be paired up with another blogger and to get to know him or her better through an interview post. It's also a chance for our readers to be introduced to another book blog and someone who might broaden one's literary horizons.

I was thrilled to be paired up with Julie from My Book Retreat. Julie's blog is no stranger to my Google Reader; I was already a subscriber before this year's BBAW and I was delighted to discover the same is true with her.

One of the downsides of reading so many blogs via a reader is that you don't often see the actual blog layout - which is why I didn't know that Julie has my blog included among those in her blogroll. I'm very appreciative of that, and I'm equally grateful to Julie for her patience this week as I scrambled amidst a bit of chaos to get this interview completed.

And now, without further ado, I give you Julie from My Book Retreat.


Melissa: I noticed you are a fan of historical fiction. That’s a genre I’m just starting to get into. What would be some book recommendations (or authors) you could suggest for those new to the genre? 

Julie: Most of the historical fiction I've read has been with my neighborhood book club, and some of my all-time favorite books are within this genre. For someone who has not read a lot of historical fiction, my advice would be to choose a time frame or location that is of most interest to you, because that will definitely impact your enjoyment of the story. 

Some of my favorites are The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Shanghai Girls by Lisa See, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, and Moloka'i by Alan Brennert. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton and Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill are excellent too, but they're much more complex and long. You might start with one of the others first, or search for books that take place during a time period that interests you.

Melissa: Tell me about your job as a content strategist. I would imagine that helps with the blog …or does it feel more like “bringing your work home”? 

Julie: One of the tough parts about writing book reviews is that I spend my entire day writing, editing and dealing with web content, so it is hard to get into the swing of writing reviews at night. I have to say that's one of my biggest challenges. But I love reviewing books and I love my job, so it all works out in the end!

In my job, I'm responsible for all of the "content" on my company's website. Actually, I work for a huge company, so it's really all of the content on a smaller website within their website. But what matters is that I write every piece of copy on the site, and I help make decisions about what copy, videos, white papers, case studies and other items go on which pages. I also have input into what pages we have on our site and how they are organized. I've been a web writer and editor for a long time but have only been a content strategist since the start of the year and I have to say I love it!

Melissa: You’re hosting the Non-Fiction Non Memoir Reading Challenge (while I’m the host of the Memorable Memoir Reading Challenge :)  (Note: I'm participating in the Non-Fiction Non Memoir Challenge.) What suggestions or tips do you have for others contemplating hosting a reading challenge? 

Julie: Borrow from others! I'm serious. When I started my challenge, I first visited other challenge pages to get ideas for what sorts of policies to put into place and how to organize it. Also, only commit to what you think you can do. I set my challenge up with a range of levels. I didn't choose to participate at the highest level, but I included that high level for others who might want to commit to that. I also think having a linky for not only sign ups but also reviews helps. I know I love to have a place to link up my reviews when I participate in challenges.

Melissa: What are your 5 favorite books read in 2012? 

Julie: My favorites so far this year are Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, The Ruins of Us by Keija Parssinen, and The Mine by John A. Heldt (I'll be talking about this one on my blog on Thursday - haven't written the review yet).

Melissa: Tell me about your neighborhood book club. 

Julie: I joined the book club when I first moved to my neighborhood in 2006. It was started by a group of women who live on my street a few years before I moved in. It's a great group of about 15 women, and we meet monthly. We take turns hosting; when it's our turn to host, we provide snacks, desserts and drinks, and oversee the discussion. Generally we spend the first hour or so just socializing and trying whatever the featured drink of the night is! Then we move to the living room to discuss the book. While most hostesses have a list of questions, we often discuss the book in a more unstructured way. It's a lot of fun and has helped me discover many books that I probably wouldn't have read otherwise.

One of the nice things about our book club is that the hostess chooses 3-4 books and then we have a Yahoo group where we vote for our favorite. This way, the hostess can choose some books she'd like to discuss, but the club as a whole gets to choose the specific book we read.

Melissa: I love how you incorporate your kids’ reading into your blog. What books would THEY recommend to others? 

Julie: I'm guessing my son, who is in 3rd grade, would recommend the following series: Harry Potter (he's read the first four books), Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dragonbreath, and Origami Yoda. My daughter, who is in kindergarten, would recommend these series: Elephant and Piggie, Fly Guy, Biscuit and The Pet Club Series.

Melissa: What do you find to be the most challenging part of blogging? 

Julie: Finding the time to blog. I have two kids and a husband. I work full time and so does my husband, so our time with each other and our kids is in the evenings and on the weekends. I feel bad ignoring all of them to sit at my computer and blog (as I'm doing right now!). I also love to read, which is why I started my book blog. So I find myself reading when I have some free time, rather than blogging.


Thanks again, Julie! Make sure to stop by My Book Retreat to see Julie's interview with me, and to read more of her thoughts on 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.