Month: January 2010

Review: Arm Candy by Jill Kargman

As predicted, I read Arm Candy by Jill Kargman before I left for vacation. I finished it less than 24 hours after I cracked it open. It’s that kind of book – a piece of chocolate that melts quickly in your mouth. I read right through dinner and nature calling to get to the last page last night.

Arm Candy is about Eden Clyde, a model and muse, and how she moved from the sticks to the muse of a (fictional) American art icon. I thought this was going to be a modern day Sister Carrie, the way Clyde used men to swing her way higher and higher up the social and financial chain. But that’s only the start of the book. The rest is Clyde dealing with hitting the 40 mark and realizing her social climbing might not have been so smart.

It’s not a serious book. It’s not a life changing book. It’s even a little annoying with the talk of how skinny Eden continues to be (blarg). But it’s a fun book, and one I recommend for your beach bag (it’ll […]

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Vacation Reading

The most stressful part about packing for vacation – at least for me – is picking what books to take. This, right now, is what I’m bringing with me to a week in Florida (though I suspect I’ll finish Arm Candy before I go. It’s too fluffy juicy to put away for long). Why stressful? Because if I pick bad books, I’ll be stuck with nothing to read. I know, I know, they do have bookstores in Florida, but it’s so much easier to pick something out of my bag, which is probably why I pack more than I’ll ever read in one stint.

I read the first few pages of each of these books to vet them for vacation reading – nothing to heavy or depressing, and NO SELF HELP.

How do you pick what books to take on trips?

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Review: The New Frugality by Chris Farrell

“Eighty percent of small businesses fail in their first five years, so hitting that milestone in what amounts to your own small business is pretty awesome.”

So said a friend when I told him that I was celebrating my five-year anniversary of being a full time freelance writer.

It was a nice compliment, and soothing. Freelancing is a precarious job. I scrap for every piece of work, and the pay doesn’t always match the effort. I don’t get any job-sponsored benefits, and I think I’ve only had two raises in those five years. Add on top of this that 2009 was not be kind to me. The Great Recession dropped my income by at about 25% in a year where I worked more hours than I ever had just to keep that 25% number from increasing.

So money was a big weight on my shoulders last year, and the start of this year, too, as I wait for several media companies to make good on late payments (and this isn’t just the small guys – I’m waiting for a mega international publisher to pay me on a job I submitted […]

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Wait, Wait…

If you read this blog, you’re probably a little geeky like me. You’ll love this, then: I’m a contestant on this Saturday’s edition of NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!

You’ll find the details here. They recorded the segment last night. It’s the most nervous I’ve ever been about anything – more so than giving the commencement speech at my college graduation, more so than being on live TV. Yes, really.

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Have you ever…

…been so disappointed with the book you’re reading that you left it behind? I did. So if you picked up a well worn paperback at the 15th and 16th & Locust PATCO station last night, you’re welcome. Maybe it’ll be up your alley.

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Review: Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving

I don’t know what I could say about Last Night in Twisted River that hasn’t already been said — John Irving is one of those writers who, I think, writes literary fiction but literary fiction that is read by a mass audience.

Last Night in Twisted Riveris about three men of the same family – a cook for a logging settlement, his son, and then the son’s son. When the book starts, the cook is a young man, the son only 12 years old, and the narrative moves on from there, but not in a traditional point A to point B story line. It’s like the characters are little blurs moving down that A to B line, jumping back and forth in the story, but only slightly. It’s an effective story telling method, and even though this book took me a very long time to read (in comparison to how fast I usually read), I enjoyed it thoroughly.

I almost put it aside, though, given its graphic nature and how often death invades the story. My grandmother died recently and then, less then […]

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Textbook Time

While in college, I worked at the college bookstore. It was great for me — discount! — but I saw the pain of textbook buying a thousand times over, every single semester.

When I taught at Rutgers-Camden, I tried to pick a book that was cheap, and my second text was online.

Not all professors are that way, though. So if you’re looking to find cheap books, here are a few options. Remember to look for the current edition and PREVIOUS edition of the book online. Sometimes changes from edition to edition are slight, and the previous edition is fine.

1. This is my go-to site when buying books. I’ve also sold my old textbooks through the site and made enough cash to keep my dog in fancy kibble.

2. Amazon’s set up a textbook page for you crazy college kids (full disclosure: I am part of the Amazon Associates programs, so if you click on that link and buy something, I get a couple of quarters in commission).

3. Your bookstore. Colleges do buy back books at the end of the semester and re-sell them. These can run out quickly, though.

4. Online. My “textbook” for one of my […]

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Review: The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention

I judged this book by its cover. Given how many “change your life!” books I’m sent around New Year’s, can you blame me? I expected The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention by Pamela Mitchell to be one of those career books that use a lot of exclamation points and promise that no matter what you want to do, it’s possible if you reach! for! the! stars!

Instead, a found a sharp, smart, eye-opening book about what to do if you want to change your career. Mitchell is founder of the Reinvention Institute, and shows that she knows her stuff. Not only does she give sound and practical advice, but she uses real life examples to showcases those 10 laws of reinvention.

I felt like someone hit me on the head when I read The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention. It made me realize why I’ve felt so listless and lethargic lately.

I’m tired of being a freelance writer.

It sounds like a great job, doesn’t it? I interview fascination people and write about a host of topics, all from the comfort of my […]

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