Friday, July 5, 2013

That Blog Goes to Eleven

Strathmere, NJ
June 2013
photo credit: Melissa Firman
Oh, hey.

You still hanging out here?

That's what I thought.

We're all over at my new blog,

I moved my blog about a month or so ago and ... well, I know what they say about how you shouldn't really care about your statistics and all, but I admit that I kind of DO, and ... well, my subscribers aren't what they used to be.

As in, it looks like there may be all of 11 people over there.


Or maybe there were really only 11 people here and Feedburner was just playin' with me for nearly five years, or maybe traffic's down because of the summer, but whatever.

If you haven't made your way over to the new place (, I'd love for you to do so. You can subscribe to the new blog at  

See you there?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Betty and Boo Chronicles Has Moved!

The Betty and Boo Chronicles has moved!  

You can find me (and my blog) at my brand new, self-hosted website: 

Here's the quick link to re-subscribe:'d love for you to stop over and check the new place out! 

See you there! 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

In Appreciation of Jean Stapleton: Those Were the Days (when tv dared to mention rape and cancer and lesbians)

Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh, PA
taken by me, August 2011

Jean Stapleton was no dingbat.
Emmy-award winning actress Jean Stapleton died on Friday, at the age of 90. Although Ms. Stapleton had a rich and productive career in the theater and on Broadway, she is, of course, best remembered for her endearing portrayal of Edith Bunker, the daffy and long-suffering wife of “lovable bigot” Archie. 
Like my 40-something peers of my generation, I grew up watching “All in the Family” in real-time. I’m old enough to remember not quite getting the jokes as I laughed along with my parents and grandparents (the same reaction as my kids have today when they watch Edith, Archie, Gloria, and Meathead in re-runs on YouTube) but realizing that the male characters were a little too familiar to the ones (my grandfathers, namely) who were sitting next to me on the couch ....continue reading the rest of this post on my new website, 
(Quick link to re-subscribe: so you don't miss a post.) 

I am an Affiliate. Making a purchase via any of the 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. Thank you! copyright 2013, 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, May 30, 2013

Armchair BEA: Giveaway Day!

Logo design by Sarah of Puss Reboots 

At the actual BEA (currently underway this week in New York), there's no shortage of swag. In that same spirit of things, and so those of us at home this year aren’t left out of the abundance of book goodness, many a blogger and publisher alike are hosting special Armchair BEA Giveaways today … including me.
I couldn’t keep my giveaway to just one item. Not today. My husband (who had thyroid cancer last fall) got some fantastic news health-wise this morning, so I am in a very appreciative and generous mood. This means that I am giving away TWO fantastic prizes. 
Head over to my new site at for your chance/s to win. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Armchair BEA 2013: Paths to Becoming a Better Blogger

Armchair BEA 2013
Armchair BEA logo design credit: Sarah of Puss Reboots
love today’s Armchair BEA blogging topic because it coincides so well with much of what I’ve been contemplating and working toward recently.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s introduction to these series of posts, I’ve been blogging for nearly five years. During that time, my approach has undergone some dramatic changes while certain things have remained the same. The obvious change is .... read the rest of this post at my new blog home,

Armchair BEA 2013: Introductions

Armchair BEA 2013
Armchair BEA logo design credit: Sarah of Puss Reboots
It’s a big week in the book world.
And if it’s a big week in the book world, that means it’s also a big week in the book blogging world.
The occasion is the huge industry conference and trade show known as Book Expo America (BEA) happening in New York, where authors and agents and publishers and editors and enthusiasts are celebrating the written word in all its forms.
That also means it’s time for Armchair BEA, which is (as per the mission statement on the website), ”the experience for book bloggers to participate in Book Expo America (BEA) from the comfort of their homes. This experience is created lovingly by book bloggers specifically for our peers who for whatever reason are not able to participate in the main conference in New York each year. We bring publishers, authors, and bloggers together in celebrating our love for all things literary by hosting celebrations such as sneak peeks, daily discussion topics, and sponsored giveaways.” 
I’ve been to part of BEA in the past (there is a book blogging conference as part of the festivities), but funds and timing didn’t permit such for me this year. So, bring on Armchair BEA!
We have daily themes/writing prompts to blog about, so let’s get this party underway with today’s topic: some introductory questions.
  1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?
I’m Melissa and I launched my blog, The Betty and Boo Chronicles, nearly 5 years ago. You can read the story behind the name and the decision to start blogging here. Recently, I made the leap to self-hosting because it was a logical way to combine my own writing (I’m currently at work on a novel) and my new freelancing and book editing business.
2. Where in the world are you blogging from? Tell a random fact or something special about your current location. 
Before moving to my current city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I had such a misconception about this place. I envisioned a gray, gritty, dirty town with nothing but abandoned steel mills. Now, granted, our winter weather does tend to be a little bit (OK, a lot) on the gray and gritty side. But, you know what? Pittsburgh is one of the most spectacular and beautiful cities I’ve ever seen. Vibrant, creative, and inspirational people are everywhere in Pittsburgh. We’re extremely friendly, warm, and collaborative. (We kind of thrive on that here.)  Pittsburgh is known as a sports town – and deservedly so – but it’s really much more of an artistic, cultural, and literary community than I ever could have imagined.
3. What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2013? 
New and Selected Poems, Vol 1 Mary Oliver
I usually have a volume of poetry on my night table for times when I am in between books (i.e., just finished a book but am too tired to start something new). Right now, that happens to be New and Selected Poems, Volume 1 by Mary Oliver.
I also have Chris Bohjalian’s latest (The Lights in the Ruins) set for a July publication date that I will soon start for my freelance book reviewing job with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but before doing so I am hoping to read both The Double Bind and The Sandcastle Girls. 
Favorite book of 2013 (so far) is The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin. 
4. Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.
I need a job.
(My professional background is here with additional background and my writing portfoliohere.)
5. Which is your favorite post that you have written that you want everyone to read?
Oh, gosh. This is like choosing a favorite child. I have nearly 2,000 posts on a variety of topics, so this is impossible. The ones about The R Wordabout Kristin Mitchellabout autism,about unemployment, and about Baby G (because that saga is still going on, nearly 2 years later) would probably head up my favorites list, all for different reasons.
Make sure to visit the Armchair BEA page for more introductory and daily topic posts!
Hey! Did you know this blog is on the move? Go to and subscribe so you don't miss any posts! 

copyright 2013, Melissa Firman

Friday, May 24, 2013

Book Review: He's Gone, by Deb Caletti

He's Gone
by Deb Caletti
Bantam Books Trade Paperbacks
323 pages 

It seems somehow fitting that, when the book blogging world is beginning to buzz with all things Book Expo America (BEA) related, that I'm reviewing a book by an author who would never have made it onto my radar if it wasn't for BEA.

An explanation is probably needed.

You see, back in May 2010, I attended the Book Blogger Convention (as it was called back then, and which is part of BEA) and I happened to sit with this table of bloggers at breakfast.

We'd gotten swag bags, of course, so naturally our talk turned to the books provided to us in the bags.

Amanda (not pictured) was beyond ecstatic to see that a Deb Caletti book was included. Each of us had different titles. Amanda raved about Ms. Caletti's writing. We all swapped books around the table. I'd never heard of Ms. Caletti before that moment, but I figured, why not. When another book blogger likes someone that much, I usually pay attention.

And then The Queen of Everything sat on my bookshelves for another 2.5 years (nearly a year of that in storage) before I picked it up again.

And I loved it.

(The Queen of Everything is a young adult novel, just so those who are purists and don't read YA know of this in advance. But, it's really good.)

So when I saw that TLC Book Tours was offering up Ms. Caletti's first fiction for adults, I knew I wanted in.

And for the most part, I loved this one too. He's Gone represents a nice segue from the young adult market into adult fiction (although I personally don't draw any such literary distinction, as I'm one of those adults who reads YA).

There's still the temptation to categorize Ms. Caletti's fiction as light, but He's Gone is not that. For starters, this novel focuses on the very real, very heavy, and very dark issue of physical and emotional abuse, as told and experienced through the eyes of Dani Keller. Married with the typical issues that befall blended families, Dani and Ian seem to have a typical life of professional success. They live somewhat comfortably on a houseboat in Seattle, drawing little attention to themselves, until one morning when Ian turns up missing following a party with Dani and his colleagues.

Unfortunately, Dani's not too much help in the investigation, as she's had a bit too much to drink and her memory of the night's events is fuzzy, at best. For some in the novel, she's an easy character to cast judgment on; her role as "the other woman," "the homewrecker") has lent itself to many opportunities for blame and scorn from Ian's ex-wife and his kids. She also sees herself to blame, too - which is common for people who have been victims of domestic violence.

While she doesn't remember the actual circumstances that led up to Ian's disappearance, what Dani does remember is the beatings and the verbal abuse from her ex-husband Mark which had her seeing Ian as someone who could rescue her. Now, as she tries to do whatever she can to rescue Ian, Dani reflects on the reasons she initially turned toward him as she discovers who really is the missing person in their relationship.

Ms. Caletti, a National Book Award finalist, kept me turning the pages, constantly wondering did he ... and maybe she did ... or maybe they did .... He's Gone is an engrossing, psychological read that has been compared by some to Gillian Flynn's bestselling Gone Girl for the mindbending directions it takes the reader.

That being said, there were a few things about He's Gone that left me puzzled and wondering. It's hard to say too much without spoiling the plot - and I'm not a detective or a mystery reader so what the hell do I know? - but there were some aspects of the police investigation into Ian's disappearance that seemed strange. Like ... possibilities that could have been looked into a bit more thoroughly.

That's all I'm sayin'.

But I was happy with the way the novel was resolved, and I'll certainly be reading more of Ms. Caletti's work ... so that's really all that matters, right?

Thank you very much to TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. I was provided with a copy of He's Gone in exchange for my honest review. I did not receive any additional compensation for this post.

Read more about He's Gone and what other bloggers thought here.

For more information about Deb Caletti and her other books, visit her website at

I am an Affiliate. Making a purchase via any of the 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. 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.