New vs. Old

It’s Wednesday, so I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Books On The Nightstand, this morning while getting ready for the day.  The topic in segment two that got the wheels turning in my mind was about whether you should “resist the lure of the new?”  New books that is.  Yes!!  They are shiny and seductive but they cloud the view of those books that haven’t been read yet though they’ve been sitting on your shelves for a while now.  There is nothing wrong with reading that new best seller.  That hot title from that hot new author that all the bloggers are raving about and read advanced reading copies (ARC’s) of months ago.  I was that blogger once.  I feel like I pioneered the fan-wagon for The Art of Racing In The Rain by the wonderful Garth Stein.  That book continues to make waves and it was published in May 2008.  But because I read the new hot thing for so long, and more often than that book that slipped through my radar initially, I have missed out on some great books.  I may own them already, but I never made time for them once I had them.  I am working on correcting that problem.  It’s not really a problem I guess.  There are worse problems to have, but the fact that I have a library of half-read books is weighing on me.  So, like I said in my last post, I did “go shopping” in my personal library of enticing titles.  I will be seduced into reading some new books published in late 2012 and in 2013.  I will just read!  I won’t think about deadlines, or getting that ARC.  It’s a freeing feeling for me and I love it.

I’m almost done with my first read of 2013 and let me tell you, I’m loving it.  I’m not going to tell you what it is till I review it but I hope you will check it out and add it to your “flew past my radar” list.

I also want to share with you an upcoming read-along hosted by my friend Tina at BookChatter.net.  The read-along will start April 1st and the book will be The Wind Up Bird Chronicles by Haruki Murakami.  I have not read anything by him, though I own a few titles already, so I’ll be reading along with Tina and her blog followers.

Now that I proofread this post I realize that it’s all over the place, but that’s okay.  I’m still feeling a bit scattered but I am getting a grasp on things again.  Blogging/writing, like reading, is a muscle in the brain.  (Thanks Tina for reminding me of that!) I know I’m on the right track to getting back on the blogging/reading wagon.  It won’t happen overnight, but it’s happening.  Thanks for coming back to Planet Books or for visiting for the first time!

XOXO-K

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Books on the Nightstand ~ Your Summer Reading List #136

While getting ready for work this morning I listened to the latest podcast by Books on the Nightstand.  It was titled “Your Summer Reading List” and since Michael was on vacation for the recording of the podcast, co-host Ann requested that listeners call in and leave a voicemail stating the book(s) that they were most excited to read this summer.  I did not remember to call in myself so I am taking this opportunity to let you know of the titles I am most looking forward to sitting down with and reading this summer.  You can listen to the podcast and read the blog post over on Books on the Nightstand HERE

There are a few titles that I am really excited about reading this summer.  I am about to finish the first on that list.  It’s Jennifer Weiner’s upcoming release, Then Came You.  I don’t want to say too much about it since I’ll be writing/posting my review within the next 48 hours but OMG is it good.  I am putting this in the Good In Bed and Little Earthquakes category of best Jennifer Weiner books!

I am thrilled to readthis next book because I am lucky enough to call the author friend over the years through e-mails.  Ellen Baker is one of my generation’s best novelists and I tell everyone who asks me for a book suggestion to read her first book, Keeping The House.  Her second novel comes out August 2nd and I am so happy to have a galley of it to read after I finish Jennifer Weiner’s book. (Thank you Ellen!!)  Ellen Baker’s book will be titled I Gave My Heart To Know This.  I have complete faith that it will be engrossing and amazing just like Keeping The House

Third on my summer reading list is The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.  I had the great pleasure of not only listening to Paula speak at the Gaithersburg Book Festival in May but I also had a few moments with her in the signing tent to talk and gush over her.  She is sooo adorable and interesting!  Her enthusiasm was contagious and I feel awful that it’s taking me so long to get to her book on my stack. 

I was excited to learn that I had won two books from Goodreads.com.  The first is In The Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson.  This book has been receiving tons of praise from bloggers and critics alike.  It will be a bit of a step off the beaten path for me as it is non-fiction.  I had a hard time with Larson’s book The Devil In The White City but I am hoping to find my groove with his latest book because it is about our country’s first diplomat to Nazi Germany and his family.  I love a good WWII story!

The other book I won from Goodreads.com is The Things We Cherished by Pam Jenoff.  I have had other titles by Jenoff on my want-to-read list but like you know, there are just so many books out there!  Well now I own the ARC of Jenoff’s upcoming release (July 12th) and I’m going to read it this summer.  It sounds like an epic tale that spans the twentieth century and has its roots in WWII. 

I will be attending the book event for the last “must-read” book on my list this summer.  J. Courtney Sullivan will be appearing at D.C.’s Politics & Prose Bookstore later this month and I can’t wait to meet her.  I read her debut novel Commencement two years ago and loved it.  Her sophomore release, Maine, is out now and I keep hearing wonderful things about it.  I look forward to picking up the book at the event, having Sullivan sign it and then reading it this summer.   

Listening to the BOTNS podcast I found that the most common book people want to read this summer is the upcoming Game of Thrones title that comes out later this month.  I didn’t watch the HBO series but Hubby became enraptured with it and is considering reading the series now. 

What are YOU most excited to read this summer season?  Please let me know.  You might have a book title I’m unfamiliar with and may catch my interest.  Thanks!

MIA in 2010

2010 turned out to be a very tough reading and blogging year for me.  I don’t know if it was the out of sorts feeling I had while Hubby was deployed for five months or what but I totally sucked at keeping up with things.  At times it seemed as if I had become a slower reader and was easily distracted by everything and anything.  I fell into the habit of only reading before bed and that never is a good thing for me.  I get tired and after only reading a few pages its lights out.  Book club should have helped but it really didn’t.  I only read (if I liked it enough) the selected title and didn’t read other titles in the second half of the year.  

Good news is I’m still in love with my Kindle and 2011 will bring an iPad 1 or 2 into my hands thanks to my folks generous birthday gift on the 1st.  I will download the Kindle App to whichever version of iPad I end up getting (waiting for the MacWorld 2011 conference to see if Steve Jobs introduces the 2.0) and that will allow me to read without the lights on when Hubby goes to sleep.  I don’t really like book lights.  I am off to a good start in 2011 though.  I finished my book club’s selection for Sunday’s brunch just last night.  I’m going to try to read one book of my choice for every book club selection this year.  That is my reading goal for 2011.

There were some fabulous books that I read in 2010 though and I have listed them below.  The scariest ones, all for different reasons, were Room, The Blue Notebook and Born on the 4th of July.  All very realistic stories inspired by true accounts, like Kovic’s retelling of his experience in Vietnam and the aftermath of the war back home, these books still haunt me.

The Postmistress and The Help are books that I will always recommend to the reader looking for a great novel to lose themselves in.  They are simply fantastic.  Others I listed made the list because they were either extremely unusual, Raven Stole The Moon, or made me laugh my ass off, My Fair LazyHow To Be An American Housewife took me back to Japan and made me miss the country, culture and it’s people all over again.  

I have also taken the liberty of listing my 20 favorite tunes of 2010.  I rediscovered Pop music last year and I am so thrilled that it’s laced with hot beats, fun lyrics, melodic melodies and strong construction.  Thank goodness!  Country music didn’t disappoint and the highlight for me was going to the CMA Music Festival in Nashville, TN last June with one of my best friends, Jesse.

What were some of your favorite reads in 2010?  Tunes?  Discoveries?  Please share them with me and any readers I still may have after being MIA in 2010!   

My FAV reads of 2010 (in no particular order)

Room – Emma Donoghue
The Blue Notebook – Dr. James A. Levine
How To Be An American Housewife – Margaret Dilloway
Born on the 4th of July – Ron Kovic
My Fair Lazy – Jen Lancaster
Raven Stole The Moon – Garth Stein
The Postmistress – Sarah Blake
The Help – Kathryn Stocket

 

My FAV 20 Tunes of 2010 (in no particular order)

F You – Cee Lo Green
Club Can’t Handle Me – Flo Rida
Dynamite – Taio Cruz
Teenage Dream – Katy Perry
Just the Way You Are – Bruno Mars
Paris (Ooh La La) – Grace Potter and The Nocturnals
1983 – Neon Trees
Undo It – Carrie Underwood
Lover, Lover – Jerrod Neiman
Put You In A Song – Keith Urban
Smoke A Little Smoke – Eric Church
Empire State of Mind – Jay Z & Alicia Keys
Bullet Proof – La Roux
All About Tonight – Blake Shelton
Raise Your Glass – Pink
Telephone – Lady Gaga & Beyonce
Colder Weather – Zac Brown Band
Crazy Town – Jason Aldean
Roll With It – Easton Corbin
Stuck Like Glue – Sugarland

Due to restrictons on videos from YouTube I am unable to share any of the videos I wanted to here on Planet Books.  Sorry Dude!

29 Days & Counting!

I’m going to continue sharing music videos by numerous artists who will be jammin’ at the 2010 CMA Fest next month in Nashville, TN.  Tonight, I’m listening to the wonderful Patty Loveless and her boot stompin’ tune, Lovin’ All Night.  I love to sing this song at karaoke because it is so much fun!  I hope you’ll like it too.

30 Days & Counting!

In thirty days a dream of mine is going to come true.  One of my best friends, Jesse, and I are going on a road trip.  This isn’t a road trip to just anywhere either.  We are going to Music City USA, Nashville, TN to attend CMA Music Fest aka Fan Fair!  I have been a lover and singer of country music since 1992 (and Olivia Newton-John’s country records from the 70’s since birth) and can’t believe that I’m going to the “Mecca” of country music in a few short weeks.  Yee Haw!!

A week ago Jesse and I were concerned that the festival wasn’t going to happen next month after the massive, deadly and destructive floods wreaked havoc on Nashville.  Last Monday night I received an e-mail from the Gaylord Opryland Hotel announcing that due to the detrimental flooding that changed the resort into a giant pool, they will be closed for at least three months and that all reservations made for those dates will be cancelled.  Uh Oh!

 

After checking The Tennessean, CNN and other news websites the following morning I decided to make a new reservation at a hotel in the downtown area that has an easy cancellation policy.  I still didn’t know if the show would go on so I wanted to play it safe but I also wanted to be sure we had a hotel room in case it was still on.  Turns out the Gaylord Opryland Hotel makes up 12% of all hotel rooms in the Nashville area!  WOW!  I consider myself lucky that I got a room for us at a great rate and closer to the action before all the hotels in the area booked up with displaced people attending the festival. 

Jesse and I, and probably all the other country music fans who will be attending CMA Fest 2010, are looking forward to going to one of my favorite cities in the country, spending our money to help the local economy and seeing/listening to some amazing music.  The festival lasts four days/nights and concerts will be held at the Riverfront Stage, LP Field as well as at the local honky-tonks on Broadway, 2nd Avenue and other venues in Music City USA.

So, to mark the beginning of the count down, I would like to share a video of one of the groups I can’t wait to see on the Riverfront Stage.  They are called Steel Magnolia and are the winners of last year’s CMT’s Can You Duet.  Their awesome single is “Keep On Loving You” and I can’t wait to hear them perform it live. 

Author’s Can Be SOOOO Cool (and sometimes they don’t even know it)!

So, last night my friends Hillary and Amy joined me in Bethesda for a book signing.  Now this wasn’t just any book signing.  It was the publishing day for my new/old friend Sarah Pekkanen and her novel, The Opposite of Me.  Sarah reminded me that it was twenty-one months ago when she first contacted me via e-mail, while Hubby and I were still in Okinawa.  She asked me to please check out her new website for her upcoming book and tell her what I thought and if it needed any changes.  Me!?!  Who was I to tell and author what to do with her website?!  Well, I did and I learned that Sarah lived in Chevy Chase, MD and she was writing a work of women’s fiction.  Her website was really cool with chocolate and cotton candy pink hues and witty writing that made me laugh.  I signed up for her monthly newsletter that provided updates on her writing and her life.    

We kept in touch throughout the months so when I decided to fly to DC for one of my best friend’s wedding in November of 2008 I asked her if we could get together for coffee while I was in town.  Sarah agreed to the get together but her baby had other plans.  He decided he wanted to join the world at the beginning of that week so we didn’t get that original opportunity.  Let me tell you folks something.  Better late than never!  Last night we finally had the wonderful pleasure of meeting each other for the first time at Sarah’s book signing/reading/Q&A event at her neighborhood Barnes & Noble Bookstore.  

Amy, Hillary, Sarah & Me!

After the event she invited everyone to join her at a local watering hole across the street for chocolate-tinis (not my drink so I had a chocolate milkshake).  I am so glad we did!  Hillary, Amy and I got to hang out and talk with Sarah and her charming husband Glenn for over an hour total.  We talked about why Sarah’s book, being a brand new first release, wasn’t in hardcover (her publisher proposed that with the recession in place it would be better to make the price of the book cheaper), how she felt nervous but welcomed by her family and friends at her first event, how grateful both Sarah and Glenn are to famed author Jennifer Weiner for her support throughout the publishing process (they have the same editor) and numerous other things that helped us all get to know each other. 

The evening was a special and memorable one that I will never forget.  I am so grateful to be a book blogger/reviewer because of moments like these when the huge gap the reader sometimes feels between themself and the author dissolves and a friendship is born.  I am one lucky lady and wouldn’t change a thing about any of it. 

{Thanks to Hillary aka Library Love for granting me permission to post her beautiful pics!}

Bookish Sunday With Library Love

On Sunday I took my newest best friend (there aren’t that many people I give that title to) Library Love on her “birthday date.”  LL’s birthday was actually Tuesday but because she keeps such a busy schedule, we made sure to set aside a day so I could help her celebrate.  You can just imagine my excitement when I learned that Sarah Blake (who lives in Washington D.C.) would be appearing at Politics & Prose Bookstore in our Nation’s Capital on the day LL and I had set aside for us.  Being book lovers, voracious readers and having met at Jennifer Weiner’s book event last summer I thought that Sarah Blake’s book event would be a perfect and memorable activity.  So after surprising LL with lunch and cupcakes in Bethesda, MD, I drove us down to D.C. to Politics & Prose.  Thanks to LL’s quick thinking and lightening fast moves we landed seats front row and center for Sarah Blake’s book reading and Q&A of The Postmistress

The Postmistress

We enjoyed Sarah’s impactful and memorable reading from two different sections of The Postmistress.  After she finished reading aloud to her captive audience it was time for Q&A’s.  Well, let me tell you something.  When it came to the moment when the microphone was open and waiting for the first question to be asked, no one stood up and braved the silence.  I had a question and after looking around at the shy faces I got up and went to the mic.  I told Sarah Blake that I absolutely loved her book and though I read it on my Kindle, I did buy a copy of the hardcover for her to sign and keep on my shelf.  I then asked her about the cover.  I told her that I knew my husband would really enjoy reading The Postmistress, the beautiful purple rose on the cover would be a deterrent for him.  I noted that there were plenty of men in the audience that day but there are also a lot of men out there who probably don’t read as much good historical fiction as their wives/girlfriends do because of the covers with pretty colors and feminine designs.  She of course said that she hoped that men would read her book anyway and she didn’t have much comment on the publishing and marketing of books towards certain sexes. 

 

 As the Q&A continued I remembered I had had a question that I came up with when I had just finished reading The Postmistress the other week.  It was regarding the fact that there really was a female reporter who was a member of “Murrow’s Boys” in London and Europe during WWII.  Her name was Mary Marvin Breckinridge and according to Wikipedia, she reported for Edward R. Murrow a total of fifty times during her tenure with his team throughout Europe and of those reports, seven were from Berlin, Germany.  I asked Ms. Blake if she based her character, Frankie Bard, on M. Marvin Breckinridge and if she’d had the chance to meet her since she lived in D.C. till she died in 2002.  Sarah’s answer was very surprising!  She said that she knew she wanted to make one of her main characters a woman who reported for Murrow in London and Europe but it wasn’t till later in her writing/researching that she learned that there were actually two female reporters who worked for Murrow at that time.  She added that no, she had never met Ms. Breckinridge.  WOW!  Talk about coincidences!  That’s HUGE! 

After the Q&A segment of the hour wrapped up, all the fans gathered in line with their books for Sarah to sign.  LL rushed out of her chair so fast I barely realized she was third or fourth in line.  I set our folding chairs against the wall like the store’s manager asked and joined LL in line.  After Sarah signed our books as well as my mother-in-law’s copy that I brought with me we asked the lady in line behind us to take our picture with Sarah.  So, there we are!  We had such a great day celebrating LL’s birthday and meeting Sarah Blake. 

If you get the chance to read The Postmistress, I can’t stress enough that you will love it.  Even if historical fiction isn’t your cup ‘o tea, it’s really a great story.  You can learn more about my thoughts on the book by checking out my review HERE.