Books on the Nightstand podcasts are so GREAT!

I have been a fan of podcasts since I got my iPod for Christmas in 2006.  Recently I have been taking advantage of listening to them on my iPad 2 while I get ready in the mornings and am doing my hair and applying my make-up.  I’m obsessed with listening to author interviews and book review podcasts and in my searches I have discovered a wonderful podcast and blog called Books on the Nightstand (BOTNS) The hosts are Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman who work for Random House but the podcasts are their own personal opinions about books they love and industry chatter.  Their format is nice and covers a discussion topic, hot industry topics/titles/reading lists and two books they can’t wait for their audience to read.

I was listening to Podcast #128 the other day and I wanted to respond to it.  I thought responding on my blog would be a great way to do that so I’m starting a new thing here.  Responding to Books on the Nightstand podcast topics and possibly other podcasts as I come across them.  Be sure to check out Books on the Nightstand yourself.  If you would please click on the link to the podcast I’ll be responding to in posts and listen to it first and then come back and read my response I would love you for it.  I will always link to the podcast just like I did above.

Planet Books RESPONSE to the question “Do you read the epigraph?”:

Epigraph ~ (n) ~ a quotation at the beginning of a book, chapter, etc, suggesting its theme

I do read the epigraph!  Sometimes it does connect to the book and sometimes I go back while reading the book and the wonder what the hell it means.  Most times the epigraph ends up being relevant but on the rare occasion it remains a puzzle.  I believe that the epigraph can set the tone for the book.  It can give the reader a little hint of what is in store for them ahead.  I agree with Michael when he says he thinks that sometimes the epigraph was that one thread that the author jumped off from and got the idea for their book. 

It’s an interesting question!  Do you read the epigraph?  Did you used to read it when you were holding the old-fashioned paper and ink book in your hands and now you have an e-reader that automatically goes to the first page when starting a book so you forget about it?  I always go back to the cover page on my Kindle and then look at each page as I click my way towards the first page of the story. 

Let me know your thoughts and feel free to respond on the BOTNS site too.  I don’t know Michael and Ann but I like what they are doing with the podcast medium.  Their web site is great and chock full of book and publishing information and I’m learning about even more books out there and som behind the scenes info too.

Sunday Salon ~ December 7th, 2008

It’s been a busy weekend for me in the kitchen.  We had dinner guests over this evening and one of the dishes on the table was a Triple-Chocolate Peppermint Trifle.  I got the recipe from the December issue of Martha Stewart Living and let me tell you what, that thing was awesome to eat but a pain to make.  In all the excitement I forgot to take a picture of my own creation so here is the pic from the magazine and

I also made Snickerdoodles again for my little friend Madi since she really liked them when I brought some over to her house a couple of weeks ago.  Now she has her own box of cookies to enjoy.  In addition to those yummy eats, I made Peppermint Bark and I think I could give Williams~Sonoma a run for their money this season.  I used a recipe by Paula Deen but added a good dose of Peppermint extract to the white chocolate. 

This Wednesday I am participating in a cookie swap and have to make six dozen cookies.  I have chosen to make Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies.  The recipe is a bit time consuming because you have to chill the dough so many times but it will be worth it.  I start that challenge tomorrow. 


In the mean time I have been reading Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched The World by Vicki Myron.  I won a copy through Library Things Early Reviewer Program earlier this fall.  This book is so great and touching that I have already cried at least once per chapter.  I’m not very far along yet, and don’t see myself really having any good reading time in the next few days, but I try to read a chapter a night before fading off to sleep.  Let’s just say that my dog, Rocky, has been getting even more hugs on top of the plethora I give him each day because of Dewey. 

Well, as you can tell by the looks of this blog, I am in full Christmas mode here in Okinawa.  I’ve got the Christmas tunes synced on my iPod and I created two different Christmas playlists on my iTunes program and I have some favorite holiday internet raidio stations picked out on iTunes radio.  One of my favorite versions of “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” is sung by Jewel and her Mother.  I’ve included it for you below.  Enjoy!

Today’s Favorite Song

Over the years Britney Spears and Beyonce have had huge hits, sold tons of albums and performed all over the world, but it wasn’t until recently that I started taking them both seriously as artists.  Now it’s a given that Beyonce can sing her ass off but the music she was putting out wasn’t showing that off until she worked on Dream Girls and was able to really sing.  I am so glad that Beyonce had the opportunity to act and sing in both Dream Girls and the upcoming theatrical release of Cadillac Records, where Beyonce plays the great Etta James, because the vocal training that she had to go through in order to sing those songs has obviously carried over to her own recording career and singing style.  Beyonce’s latest album, “I am… Sasha Fierce,” is the first one of her solo or Destiny’s Child albums that I have purchased.  The whole album is wonderful, all of the songs are singable and range from the melancholy ballad to the empowering and fun as hell single, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It).”  The song “If I Were A Boy” is so rich and beautiful that I never tire of listening to it or of watching the video.  Other tracks that stood out on first listen were “Save The Hero”, “Diva” and “Satellites.”

Britney Spears’ new album, Circus, just “dropped” (Hubby would like to know when that term became the norm for when a record is released) this week.  Though I have purchased almost all of her previous pop soaked, candy coated CD’s in the past, this one, in my opinion, is her best one yet.  I can’t get enough of “Womanizer” and I have started to drive Hubby crazy by singing the chorus over and over again since I finally mastered the rhythm.  The video is fun and sharp too.  I listened to the whole album last night after downloading it on iTunes and just about every song is catchy, enjoyable, danceable and the lyrics and melodies are reflective and singable too.  I especially liked “Unusual You”, “Out From Under”, “Lace and Leather” and “My Baby.”

Is my new found adoration and respect for these two pop sensations a surprise to me?  Yes, and I have decided it’s because both Beyonce and Britney are getting older, experiencing more of life (be it good or bad) and expanding their musical and artistic horizons which makes it easier for me to relate to their music and listen as a fan and not just because their music is the hot thing on the charts at the moment. 

Well, unfortunately YouTube isn’t coorporating with me today.  I am unable to post music videos for “Womanizer,” “If I Were A Boy” and “Single Ladies.”  I was able to post a clip from Cadillac Records though.

Today’s Favorite Song

There is a great little ska band out there called Hepcat.  Hepcat’s tunes are infectious and fun as most ska is.  Their style is more dance hall ska and extremely danceable.  I was turned on to them by a guy I had dated in my twenties who is the trombone player in a D.C. based ska band called Eastern Standard Time.  I also managed a ska band in college at Shenandoah University in the mid 90’s called The Unity Project.  They were a great bunch of guys with so tons of talent.  

I was driving around today in the thick heat and humidity that has blanketed itself over the island this summer and with the help of the A/C, I kept cool to the sounds of Hepcat. 

If you are familiar with the 1996 film “Swingers” you may recognize one of the actors from the film as a singer in this video.  His name is Alex Désert and he is a singer/songwriter for Hepcat as well as a film and television actor. 

Friday Random iPod Ten ~ July 4th, 2008

Happy Friday & Happy Independence Day!  Here are the first ten songs my iPod chose when I hit Shuffle this afternoon.

Penny To My Name ~ Eva Cassidy’s TIME AFTER TIME
Prospero’s Speech ~ Loreena McKennitt’s THE MASK AND MIRROR
My Sharona ~ The Knack on the REALITY BITES SOUNDTRACK
Leave Me To Bleed ~ Erasure’s THE TWO RING CIRCUS
This Way ~ Jewel’s THIS WAY
Found Someone New ~ Susan Tedeschi’s JUST WON’T BURN
Express Yourself ~ Madonna’s THE IMMACULATE COLLECTION
False Alarm ~ KT Tunstall’s EYE TO THE TELESCOPE
Right Here Waiting ~ Richard Marx’s GREATEST HITS
Tonight The Heartache’s On Me ~ The Dixie Chicks’ WIDE OPEN SPACES

Today’s Favorite Song

So I’m sitting here reading my Google Reader page and listening to Internet Radio via iTunes when along comes a song I haven’t heard in ages.  It’s “Pump Up The Volume” by M.A.R.S. and it is making me want to move.  I love this song and remember it from a million years ago.  Here is the cool music video with early N.A.S.A. footage.  It’s very vintage and very cool!

Friday Random iPod Ten ~ June 27, 2008

Happy Friday!  Here are the first ten songs my iPod chose when I hit Shuffle this afternoon.

Pale September ~ Fiona Apple’s Tidal
For The Last Time ~ Vince Gill’s Let’s Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye
Mud On The Tires ~ Brad Paisley’s Mud On The Tires
Oh Mother ~ Christina Aguilera’s Back To Basics
Nothing New ~ Ashlee Simpson’s Autobiography
Save Me ~ Aretha Franklin’s The Best of Aretha Franklin
Drops of Jupiter ~ Train’s Drops of Jupiter
Looking Over My Shoulder ~ Emerson Drive’s self titled cd
I Told You So ~ Keith Urban’s Love, Pain & The Whole Crazy Thing
The Reason ~ Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love

Today’s Favorite Song

Well, the rainy season is here and I’m settling in with my books and some good music in the air conditioned house for the long summer.  Last night I started reading “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer.  I was reading in the recliner in the study and had Pandora Radio playing on the computer and along cam 10,000 Maniacs through the speakers.  I remembered I had a few of their cd’s on my iTunes so I started to listen to those instead.  The sound of the music and Natalie Merchant’s voice seemed very appropriate background music to “Twilight”.  This song, “Few and Far Between” is my new favorite 10,000 Maniacs song this weekend.  It’s so upbeat and the horns sound so rich behind Natalie’s strong and vibrant vocals. 

Friday Random iPod Ten ~ June 6th

Here are the first ten songs that came up on the “Shuffle Songs” setting on my iPod today. 

Miss You ~ Eric Clapton from “Complete Clapton”
Ask The Lonely ~ Journey from “Journey’s Greatest Hits”
No Woman, No Cry ~The Fugees from “The Score”
Rain, Tax (It’s Inevitable) ~ Celine Dion from “A New Day Has Come”
In The Mood ~ The Puppini Sisters from “Betcha Bottom Dollar”
My Poor Old Heart ~ Alison Krauss & Union Station from “Lonely Runs Both Ways”
Worlds Apart ~ Jars of Clay from their self titled album “Jars of Clay”
Steel Bars ~ Michael Bolton from “Michael Bolton’s Greatest Hits”
Scott’s A Dork ~ Reel Big Fish from “Why Do They Rock So Hard?”
Jeremy ~ Pearl Jam from “Ten”

My New Hobby

As you may know, I have an iPod and I can’t live with out it.  I download free Podcasts on iTunes (by the way, you DO NOT have to have an iPod to utilize the free downloaded iTunes software and listen on your computer) and listen to them in the car or when I’m getting ready for bed.  Recently I discovered the box in the bottom right hand corner of the iTunes Store Podcast page titled “Topics In Focus”.  One of the topics is “Book Lovers” so of course I clicked on that immediately.  There I found Podcasts about books and authors.  There are thirty-eight different Podcasts to subscribe to (for free) so I narrowed it down and selected “Amazon Wire”, “iTunes: Meet The Author”, “Book Lust With Nancy Pearl” and “B&N Meet the Writers Audio Interviews”.  So far I have listened to interviews with James Patterson, Stephenie Meyer, Henry Winkler, Michael Connelly and Judy Bloom.  Listening to these interviews is so interesting because I am reminded that these people have goals, self-doubt, and lives just like anybody else.  Did you know that Stephenie Meyer didn’t even plan on publishing the TWILIGHT books until her sister suggested that she do it?  She had written the first book, TWILIGHT, in just three months and her husband didn’t even know she was doing it.  She wrote it to entertain herself and the idea for the story came from a dream she had had one night. 

Another great place to find interviews with authors is B&N Studio and Borders Media.  Personally I think that Barnes & Noble has a better system for this and has much more selection on their site.  These interviews are viewed through the web site.  So, if you would like to get to know some of your favorite authors a little better, I highly recommend checking out these great resources.