Book Talk-What I’ve Read Recently

Book Talk–A regular feature where I tell you the books I’ve read and what ones I’m eyeing for the future. Discussion encouraged. Neglecting your family in favor of books, optional.

In what I now consider the smoothest bribe to get your wife to move to Poland ever, Michael bought me a Kindle for the trip where we visited Poland the first time. It was love at first sight, with the Kindle. Some might say the Kindle is an affront to almost all the good qualities of books. But I adore mine. The pages look like real book pages. It fits in my purse ever so easily. And? When I finish a book at 10 pm and feel the gaping chasm of no-more-words, I can just buy a new one and be reading by 10:02. Upon our return to Texas, Michael scored yet again by upgrading me to the Kindle Paperwhite. It still has book-like pages and now has a built-in light so that I can continue to fall asleep with my face in a book.

Here are the books I’ve read since returning to Texas:

The Other Side of the Story by Marian Keyes

This is only the second Marian Keyes book I’ve read, and I love her style. She is clever without being obnoxious. Her characters are flawed but not idiotic. This book appealed to me because it features three main characters who are all involved in the book business, two authors and one agent. I found the book industry humor and strife fascinating. One of the main characters grew on me by the end; I hated her at first as I believe we were supposed to do. This is a good read for those who only have small blocks of reading time; you’ll remember where you left off easily.

The Good House by Ann Leary

I chose this book based on recommendations by some smart people I follow on Twitter. It takes place in New England which was also a plus for me as I hope to one day own a summer home there, after publishing a bestseller, of course. The plot revolves around an empty-nest mother and her drinking problem. Well, her kids see a drinking problem while she sees nothing amiss with keeping wine in the trunk of an old car hidden in her garage. Hildy, the owner of the good house and the alcohol problem, is also a busy-body with her hand, nose, and opinions in the lives and secrets of everyone in town. This would be a great book club read.

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

I received this book for free from the publishers at Quirk Books when I first wrote a post for their Raising Quirk site. I was beyond excited because I had this book in my Samples section for a while. (Another plus of the Kindle is the ability to read samples before buying. I currently have 40 titles in my Samples. It’s possible I’m addicted.) The premise is that an asteroid is heading towards Earth. The main character, Detective Hank Palace, is tasked with maintaining some law when it seems there is no hope for the human race. He seems to be the only policeman concerned with solving crimes; all the others are just keeping peace and reading any and all updates on the path of the asteroid. I loved the look into human nature this premise provides. My dad was annoyed at how by-the-book Hank is, but I think he’s a great specimen to examine. This book is part of a trilogy; the second book, Countdown City, comes out in July 2013.

The Dinner by Herman Koch

I found this book after reading Gone Girl. I searched for similar noir-type titles, and this one came up. In fact, The Wall Street Journal called it, “A European Gone Girl.” But it’s not. At all. It is however, really good. It is definitely a look at the dark side of the characters, and it will leave you not sure who to root for by the end, but it’s not really a battle of crazy like Gone Girl. The story revolves around two couples meeting for dinner. There are flashbacks interspersed among the real-time events. The pacing of this novel is excellent. It’s a book you will not want to put down.

Sad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose

Have you read much on the site If so, this novel will read like an extended post for you. The author is a former editor for both Jezebel and Slate. I wanted to like it because it delved into the whether or not writing for the internet is ‘real’ writing or not. But, it just wasn’t that exciting. There is a scandal, and then the person who breaks the scandal is faced with repercussions, but I didn’t feel the resolution rang true. It was a fun read for someone like me who spends a lot of time on the internet, but if you only have limited reading time, this won’t be worth it.

Life Among Giants: A Novel by Bill Roorbach

The title of this novel just made sense to me as I wrote this sentence. In other words, this book is a thinker. It is very long and very deep. It’s about one thing and then another and then back to the first thing. I liked it, but I needed to read it in longer sessions. It’s about a boy, his sister, a rock star and his ballerina wife from across the pond, (Literally, they live on a pond.) and revenge. It touches on mental health struggles and the definition of love. So, you know, not light-hearted fun but really well-written.

The List by Karen Tanabe

Amazon led me to this book after I bought Sad Desk Salad. I know I didn’t give that one rave reviews, but this one still caught my eye. This time, the internet writer is working for The Capitolist, a news site based in Washington, D. C. Our lead character, Adrienne, is a style writer for the site looking for respect and a leg up on the company ladder. She too faces a moral dilema and a soul-search for what her true calling is. This was a fast read with lots of insider talk as the author used to work for Politico. I liked it and would read more by this author.

Moral of this post? Do not tell my husband how much I read; the dirty bathrooms at our apartment will surely piss him off now.

In addition to feeding book addictions of people all over the internet, I’d also like to talk books with you. I would love discussions about plots, characters, and themes. I decided one great way to get that going is with Book Club.

Our first book will be Someday, Someday, Maybe by former Gilmore Girl, Lauren Graham.

(And the first rule of Book Club is invite Ed Norton, Jr.)

Such a silver fox.

Such a silver fox.

So, are you in the club? Any books you want to hear about or talk about? What do you think of the books I’ve read so far this year? This is my first post with Amazon links; what do you think? Is okay?

Seminar Stephanie Is Back

My first blogging conference was last October’s Aiming Low NonCon. It was super fun and changed my life and gave me new friends and was awesome. Before I left for that conference, I let my fellow attendees know what to expect with a post titled, “Things You Should Know Before You Meet Me.” It was educational and fun because I enjoy making things two, two, two things in one.

Now my second blogging conference, Blissdom, is nigh upon me, and I wanted my future new friends to be prepared. In addition to the traits I outlined in the post above, I wanted to tell you how I was spending this final non-work day before the conference. Hint: I am blogging instead of packing.

1. Wake up covered in sweat due to nightmare about not making it on time to any sessions at Blissdom. Not even the one I want to go to the most, Megan Jordans session called, “Uninterrupted Thought: Power of Focus.” (You’ll see why I need this session in just a minute.)

2. Log on to computer just to check for that one email I was waiting for.

3. Time passes. Hours.

4. Decide I need to get going and take a peek at my to-do list app. Oh! I need to buy a pretty pad of paper to make my Blissdom-specific to-do list. Time to get dressed!

5. Astonishingly complete three other errands before zoning out for 45 minutes in the office supply store.

6. Yell for missing kids in office supply store.

7. Find them, give stern, yet highly ignorable lecture on staying in sight at all times.

8. Nugget Store (what my kids call McDonald’s) because it’s 1pm, and I guess my kids need to eat.

9. Home for a nutritious lunch and right on that to-do list.

10. Oh! Facebook updates!

11. Crap. Hustle the kids off to quiet time, so I can get down to real business.

12. Turn on light in laundry room and turn around to shoo Alex back into his room.

13. Check Twitter.

14. Notice light in laundry room and get back to sorting and washing clothes.

15. See Target bag with T-ball uniform still inside untouched and remember I need to get that cleaned and ready for Saturday’s first game.

Hey, what's in that bag? It's been there 3 weeks, so now it's gonna be a surprise!

Hey, what’s in that bag? It’s been there 3 weeks, so now it’s gonna be a surprise!

16. I have a cute new notepad! I get to use it to write down the T-ball reminder.

17. Grab office supply bag off kitchen counter and disburse all items including cute notepad.

18. Hey, that’s where my business card holder is! Sweet. I should totally put that on my packing list.

19. Did anyone respond to my Facebook post about attire for Friday night’s party? God, when am I going to shop for that? Better put it on the to-do list.

20. I have a cute new notepad! Tear off plastic cover and throw away. Dude, why is the lunch trash still out? sigh I have to do everything.

21. What’s that noise? Oh! The washer! Filling up without soap!

22. Repeat Step 15.

23. Start to-do list, boys’ packing list for Nana’s house, and my packing list.

24. OhMyGod that was just the biggest waste of most of a day. That would be funny for the blog.

25. Open computer again bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb, sorry, there was a glob of something on the ‘b’ button. I think it was food…..

You know what? I should probably close up this computer. And maybe throw it out the window. Hey, if you see me at Blissdom, will you check to make sure I packed the T-Ball uniforms?