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Showing posts from December, 2008

Best Books of 2008

Since I'm still working on book 9 of 52 (the holidays were busy, plus I slipped on ice and fell on my tailbone so it was much easier to lie on my stomach and watch movies than sit and read!), here's my second annual post of top books of the year. Keep in mind that I don't always read the "important" new titles, most likely because I'd never get to review those back when I was regularily reviewing books, but also because, well, I like to read what I want to read, not what people tell me I should read. So here goes. Best Non-Fiction: Heirloom: Notes from an Accidental Tomato Farmer by Tim Stark. You know a good book when you give it as a gift, and a few people are getting this one for Christmas this year. This book was also the cap of my last 52 books in 52 weeks series ( you can read the review here ). Why my top non-fiction pick? Because of the beauty in how Stark wrote about what had been (and I can imagine) still is a frustrating yet rewarding profession.

A Family Book Find

I've been sick since Sunday. First I had a cold in my ears, nose and throat (mostly my nose). Then everything migrated south so now I have some sort of thing going on in my lungs. I'm miserable. It makes my dog miserable. So where do I go? Mom's of course. I bring a few things with me to mom's -- my dog (of course), laundry (since I STILL haven't gotten a new washer...I know, I know...but my computer's dying and that comes first), and reading material. I had visions of sitting by the fire reading a book with Emily on my lap, or at least watching Law & Order . Unfortunately, the book I brought made me gag after three pages (sorry, Julie Andrews and dad, who gave me the book), and I'd already read through this week's New Yorker , so I went through the book collection in the family room looking for something. My mom's not as big a reader as I am (then again, most people aren't), and the book collection downstairs is an odd mix of Danielle St

Book 8 of 52: A Dog Named Christmas by Greg Kincaid

A Dog Named Christmas is a short, sweet almost parable about -- you guessed it -- a dog named Christmas. Well, it's more about a farmer named George, a Vietnam vet who has loved dogs but was so hurt by losing them that he refused to keep a dog anymore. It's George's developmentally challenged son, Todd, who convinces George to give a dog a home for the holidays through the local shelter's "adopt a dog for Christmas" program. A big black lab who's a bit of a wandered wanders into the shelter and then into George's home. Todd names him Christmas since he's a Christmas dog -- and supposed to just stay for the season. This being a sweet story, you can guess what happens -- not that it's necessarily a bad thing. We all need a bit of sweet in our lives. It's a book that has "stocking stuffer" written all over it, especially for folks who have adopted dogs. And, no, I'm not going to compare it to Marley & Me because that wou

Article: Pictures and words, beautiful together

Did I ever tell you how much I love coffee table books? Well, I love coffee table books. They're so big and beautiful, and the best of them are engrossing reads. John Loring , Tiffany's design director, has put out some amazing books that I don't think enough people actually read (as opposed to look at the pictures). They're fantastic. I wrote an article that appears in today's Philadelphia Inquirer about coffee table books for the holidays . So if you're still looking for that last minute gift, give it a look. This is also an example for you freelancers out there of how you can re-use the same idea again. I wrote an article about coffee table books for SJ Magazine I think four years ago. The angle was completely different (e.g. why they're popular vs. choices), but when I thought about holiday stories to pitch, this idea came back to mind.

Book 7 of 52: Godchildren by Nicholas Coleridge

Nicholas Coleridge's Godchildren was meant to be book 5 and then book 6 of this series, but Nora Roberts and an assignment got in the middle. In a way, that was a good thing because of the structure of this long long novel. Goldchildren starts at the end of the story. In the year 2000, tycoon Marcus Brand is about to go into bankruptcy, something he finds out while on holiday with his six godchildren. The prologue gives a bit of information about each of the godchildren, but of course the reader has no idea what's going on. Then the narrative jumps back to 1966 when the godchildren are all eight years old and summoned to their first group holiday with Marcus Brand, and the novel brings them back to that prologue scene. Godchildren is quite a book, and not just because it's 551 pages long. It's an epic that follows so many people on an increasingly twisting (and sickening) path that it's hard to keep everyone's plot lines straight. Plus, some of the charact

We Can't Let This Bank Fail

I'm part of a state-wide blogger project to get the word out about the dire situation New Jersey food banks are in. I know times are tough, but anything we can do to help matters. To see what other folks are writing, and all the great people participating in this effort to get the word out, click here . I hope to get to the next review soon -- I'm deep into one of those novels that keeps you glued to the couch for hours on end. Should be a good one.

Book 6 of 52: Fine, I'll Go Online! The Hollywood Publicist's Guide to Successful Internet Dating

Remember in my last post when I said I'd read two books at once sometimes because of an assignment? This is one of those times. I'm writing an article about online dating and interviewed Leslie Oren, author of Fine, I'll Go Online!: The Hollywood Publicist's Guide to Successful Internet Dating , for the piece. I admit that I hadn't read the book when I wrote her questions -- I didn't even think about interviewing an author, but as I looked over my notes, I saw something was missing. I'd been sent Oren's book about a year ago (the attached press release is dated November 1, 2007), and in every book purge I've done, it survived because I thought she'd make a good source at some point. Yahtzee. So while waiting to do interviews today or avoiding the two annoying stories I had on my schedule, I'd read a bit here, and a bit there. And after planting my butt in my reading chair for the last hour, I'm finished book 6 of 52. I've said it b

Book 5 of 52: The Pagan Stone

Lawrence Meegan of the Ocean County Library recently asked me if I read more than one book at the same time. The answer, 99 percent of the time, is no. I like to finish whatever book I'm working on. The one percent of the time is usually when I'm given an assignment and must read something else, though most of the time I'll just finish what I'm working on and then go to the next book. That hasn't been the case with book 5 of 52. I started in on three books before I picked one, and then I stopped reading it when I found The Pagan Stone: The Sign of Seven Trilogy in Walgreens. Why Nora now? Simple: Escape. Monday was a bad day. The weekend had been fun (I ate a lot and ran a decent 5k), but the painting of my dining room had taken two wrong turns (wrong type of paint on the ceiling, then the wrong color on the walls), so my dining room was still in my living room. On Monday, I felt sick, whether from a stomach bug or paint fumes, I don't know. Plus, I'd