Archive for September 13th, 2010

September 13th, 2010

Put Your Hands Together For Write Meg!

by Gwen

The following is a fun question and answer session with Meg from Write Meg! . The silliness of the questions is totally my fault. Her answers, however, are all on her. Allow me to welcome the blogger that was shortlisted for the Best Eclectic Blog for BBAW, the wonderful, the amazing, the crafty and dog loving………..MEG!

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1. Why book blogging? I mean you write for a living, and I see that you even have an etsy store for your crochet pieces, what drew you to book blogging?

I’ll have to admit that I fell into book blogging! Back when I started write meg!, I was working full-time as an editor with a part-time job as a bookseller. After I got tired of the long hours working two shifts a day, I quit Borders — and desperately missed having an outlet in which to socialize and talk about books. I started my blog as a way of talking about my life and chatting about random stuff, but quickly discovered that many other bloggers were writing about books exclusively. That really piqued my interest and, once I was familiar with the whole community, write meg! became pretty book- and writing-oriented. (But I still love to crochet a good scarf and talk about myself, for which I now get paid. And that’s awesome.)

2. I was recently doing some major maintenance on my blog and realized that my reading selections have REALLY changed thanks to becoming an active book blogger. Has it changed you? If so, how?

When I started blogging, I rarely read anything from the young adult genre — and still clung to the misguided belief that YA was “just for teens.” That couldn’t be less true, of course! A good book is a good book, and it doesn’t matter in which genre it’s categorized. Reading about so many great YA authors and books on other blogs, I developed a new taste for them through the course of blogging. Having a forum in which to write about books, and get feedback from other readers, has really opened my eyes to all sorts of wonderful reading out there — and so many of the books I’ve loved, like Justina Chen Headley’s North Of Beautiful, aren’t ones I would have picked up on my own.

3. What do you find most challenging about book blogging?

Probably having to write a lukewarm or negative review of a book when I’ve developed a personal repertoire with an author. It’s against my nature to hurt anyone’s feelings, and I really dislike having to say anything unkind about novels — especially since I write myself, and know how tough it is to put your heart out there and have someone reject it. Still, my primary obligation in book reviewing is to be honest; I owe it to myself and anyone who comes across write meg! to tell the truth. It’s just tough telling the truth and then having to email an author or publicist and say, “Hey, I read your book – and it was horrible! I posted my gut-wrenching review here for the whole reading world to see!”

But, you know, that’s the way it goes sometimes.

4. You predominately review Women’s Literature on Write Meg! Do you ever cheat & read other genres, but not review them?

Good question! With very, very few exceptions, I can honestly say that I review every book I read. I know which book genres and authors tend to get the most hits and comments, though, and sometimes know ahead of time that my review of a certain book, particularly non-fiction, won’t grab the interest of many readers. But it’s no worries; those reviews are still fun to write!

5. What was your absolute favorite part/moment of the Book Blogger Convention?

Oh, goodness — it’s probably cliché, but getting to meet so many bloggers face-to-face! I’d well publicized the fact that I would be wearing my “Power Dress,” a little fuchsia number I wear when I need to empower myself, and many people called out, “Meg! Hi! I knew you were from your dress!” That made me feel awesome. And everyone was so kind and interesting, just the way you’d expect them to be from reading all about them on their blogs.

6. Your posts on online dating not only made me laugh, but also brought back a lot of memories. Why do you think that it is so hard to meet the right person these days?

We’re all busy these days, I think it’s just tough to meet anyone in a “traditional” way — at school, a bar, church, through family, etc. — because we don’t always have the time and energy to put into exploring those avenues. For me, online dating became absolutely necessary when I realized that most of my “traditional” avenues just weren’t going to work out. I love my coworkers, but most of them have children my age — or are already in committed relationships. I knew I was going to have to do something different to meet someone, and online dating was the logical step. And like so many others, my dating story has a happy ending — and for that, I’m very thankful!

7. You recently tweeted “I just petted my first cow last weekend, so I’m feeling pretty good about the whole farm fest thing!” My question is…..did you like it? Would you do it all over again?

You know, I did like it! I was pretty scared at first, having never been around livestock, but this cow in Chautauqua County, Pennsylvania was pretty friendly. I’m a big animal lover, too, so getting to meet any new friend is all right by me.

8. Tell me about Rudy. Are you still having to save him from the Zombie-Vampires in your dreams thanks to The Passage?

Rudy is my loveable, dopey, hilarious and sleepy golden retriever, and a dog I affectively refer to as my “bud bud.” We got him from a horse and dog rescue group in Delaware when he was about a year and a half old and severely undernourished by his previous owners. Considering he came home right before Christmas and has a pink nose, we named him “Rudolph” — or “Rudy” — and he’s definitely a part of the family! And about 50 pounds heavier than his terrible low weight when we brought him home. I’m also happy to report he hasn’t been the star of any zombie-vampire dreams lately, though I’m going to never read The Passage to ensure he’s kept out of harm’s way. It’s the least I can do.

Meg not only has a blog that was new to me, but she held my hand through this whole process. She made it easy. If she wasn’t on the other coast, I would give her a high five….maybe I will just have to send Rudy a dog treat. Thanks Meg!

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September 13th, 2010

Scoundrels in Law by Cait Murphy ~ Review

by Gwen

Scoundrels in Law by Cait Murphy

Scoundrels in Law: The Trials of Howe & Hummel Lawyers to the Gangsters, Cops, Starlets and Rakes Who Made the Gilded Age by Cait Murphy

From 1869 to 1902, William Howe and Abraham Hummel were New York’s most famous lawyers displaying panache and a legal flair that made them favored advocates for villains of all kinds.”

Sneaky, creative, and lacking any sort of ethics, Howe and Hummel were men ahead of their time and yet, were creations of their time. The gilded age was a lawless time, crimes were being perpetrated that while not exactly legal, actual laws prohibiting such acts hadn’t been enacted yet. Even becoming a lawyer was a simple affair of hanging a shingle out and saying that you were a lawyer. There was no bar exam or association.

Howe and Hummel quickly rose to the top by demanding cash up front, playing up the press, and not turning down cases, no matter how seemingly un-defendable. They were opposed to bribes to jailers and judges or even to paying people to become witnesses or stand in as “wholesome” family members.

Whether murder, divorce, animal cruelty, or other skullduggery when you got in a jam in New York City, you didn’t call the Ghostbusters, you called Howe and Hummel. The pair even defended one of the members of the Midnight Band of Mercy, a group that reportedly disposed of 8,000 cats over a period of four years. (They would chlorophorm the cats because they felt that it was wrong to let them wander the streets hungry)

Cait Murphy has brought the Gilded Age to light, but missed the mark on shedding light on William Howe and Abraham Hummel as individuals. The anecdotal evidence is jaw dropping and hilarious, but we don’t ever get to learn what makes the men tick. This wasn’t really her fault, Howe and Hummel kept their lips sealed when it came to their own lives and there was little left to work with. These men were the first lawyers to make national headlines and somehow they managed to keep their private lives hidden in the dark.

Entertaining, shocking, and informative, Scoundrels in Law is ultimately readable just lacks the depth that I have come to expect from Murphy with her last book, Crazy ’08.

Scoundrels in Law by Cait Murphy

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Smithsonian; 1 edition (June 15, 2010)
  • ISBN-10: 0061714283
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061714283

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