Archive for November, 2010

November 12th, 2010

A Bit of Me(Me) ~ Don’t Bogart the Vodka

by Gwen




It is time once again, to step out from behind the book and get to know one another better.

We all have a story and a life beyond the book and thanks to Danielle from There’s A Book, we get share. She asks the questions and we get to answer.



This week’s question- If you could take a class for anything (for free) what would it be?

Я всегда хотел изучать русский язык. Translation- I have always wanted to learn Russian.

Maybe it is because I am grew up in the Reagan Era, you know, “Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

It might be my love, make that former love of Vodka.

It could definitely be my love-hate relationship with Russian Literature.

It probably has a bit to do with the architecture…


Saint Basil’s in Red Square via Wikipedia

It might just be the cool Cyrillic alphabet.

Whatever the motivation, I have always wanted to learn Russian. The problem is and trust me it never failed, whenever I would transfer to a college that offered classes in Russian….They would stop offering them the semester/quarter that I started.

I swear, there is a vast conspiracy out there. Huge groups of people got together every year and decided to ruin my lifelong dream. It isn’t right. Oh well, someday.



November 12th, 2010

Happy Haul-idays with Chronicle Books

by Gwen


Chronicle Books is having a killer contest and you and I could both win $500 of Chronicle loot! The Happy Haul-idays Contest will have two winners, one chosen from the bloggers that post their wish list and the other chosen from one of their commenters.

$500 is a lot of book moola and Chronicle has TONS of great books. Seriously, there is something for everyone here; even the yahoos in your family that don’t have the love of reading that we do.



1001 moments


I like to think that I am pretty good at living in the moment. However, there are a few loved ones in my family that could use a few tips. I am not going to point fingers, they know who they are. Or… at least they will when they get this in their stocking.






Amy Butler


There is only one thing better than Amy Butler’s fabric and that is her patterns. This baby is staying with me.








Lotta Jansdotter


I am all about handmade, handcrafted, & hand painted in my life. The simplicity of the Scandinavian style in Lotta Jansdotter’s Handmade Living really appeals to me.







Craft Inc Planner


I already have Craft Inc and still need help with my business planning. This will be great and don’t forget,  Creative, INC


I can’t seem to stay out of the kitchen lately, so for Christmas gifts, this will sure come in handy. Get ready to have some snazzy looking jars of jams, jellies, and cookie mixes!

Pretty Pantry Gifts

Lincoln 3d


My friend and I enjoy everything and anything Lincoln. We may have to fight over this one or I could just send her one of her own to Illinois.

Can you imagine seeing real pictures of Lincoln in 3D?!?!?




FLW Fallingwater



SQUEEEE!!! A Frank Lloyd Wright book. My collection is close to bursting, but there is always room for more.









I could go on and on and I am still not up to $500. I can’t forget this one though. Do you like classic movies? I am a Turner Classic Movies junkie. It all started almost 20 years ago when I couldn’t sleep and PBS was playing Meet John Doe in the wee hours.

I fell in love with Gary Cooper that night. Soon after, I fell in love with John Barrymore. Leave it up to me to fall in love with drunk alcoholics. That little issue is something for my therapist to deal with. Nothing to discuss here people, move along.


Like I said, that doesn’t even make much of a dent in the prize of $500. There are a few Moleskines that I have my eye on, books for the kids, the always fun mashups of Jane Austen and I read a great review of Booze Cakes in the San Francisco Book Review What would you get?



November 9th, 2010

Show Your Love of Books ~ Inspired by Books Edition

by Gwen

Ack, Christmas is coming! Now, as much as I would love to give everyone books, that just isn’t going to fly with most of them. Don’t get me wrong, a few of them can read….they just haven’t found the joy of reading like you and I have.

Never one to give up the ghost, I am shopping for gifts that they will actually use & appreciate, but are still true to my innate bookishness. How about gifts that were inspired by books? Yeah, that sounds like a plan.

Snow White

Snow White Inspired Broach, by This Years Girl, $21.50

19th Century Gentleman

Austen Inspired T-Shirt, by  BookFiend, $16

Love is

Love is a Book 8 X 10 Print,  by Nan Lawson Illustration, $16



Secrets Body Spray Inspired by The Thirteenth Tale, by Latherati, $8


I just have to say this, Latherati is the coolest etsy store ever! Every one of their bath & items are inspired by books.

What sort of things are you wrapping up for your less than bookish gift recipients?



November 8th, 2010

BookClubSandwich Takes on Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle

by Gwen

BookClubSandwich is a online discussion group hosted by Kim of Sophisticated Dorkiness and Andi of Estella’s Revenge. This month, they are taking on The Jungle by Upton Sinclair and I couldn’t resist.  You might want to check out Kim’s post to see what she is thinking so far.


The Jungle was first published in serial form in 1905, then was published as a whole in 1906 and they couldn’t keep the darn thing on the shelves. It was a smash hit.

The sad thing is that it was a hit for all of the wrong reasons, or at least not the reasons that Sinclair meant to get across. What, for him, was  supposed to be a novel showing the plight of the working class turned out to be a huge headache for the meatpacking industry. Most descriptions of the book to this day call attention to its muckracing history. And while  changes in that industry were certainly needed, I can’t help it feel a bit sorry that most of the readers missed the point entirely.

Yes, a majority of the story centers around a family that, for a while, works in the meat-packing industry. Yes, the descriptions of how said meat make it from pasture to the table are enough to make you want to become a vegetarian. You betcha, I am glad that the public outcry after reading the book led to the Meat Inspection Act which eventually became the FDA. (Which when you think about it is amazing because Teddy Roosevelt was in office at the time and he HATED any kind of government interference/regulation)

What got lost in all of the tubercular beef struggle was the story of the family, of many thousands of families really. People were living on the edge of starvation and homelessness constantly at the turn of the 20th century thanks to being what many call “wage slaves”. There were no workers rights, no unemployment insurance, no health insurance, no disability, no social programs, and let’s face it, a good portion of the immigrant population couldn’t even read English. If you got hurt at work and missed a day or fourteen, you were on your own. It was a hand to mouth existence and one day of missed work could mean that your family starve, froze to death and died on you. Poverty just wasn’t something that you could even dream of digging yourself out of.

So what did America gain from The Jungle at the time? They gained healthy meat that most of the people and definitely the family in the novel couldn’t afford. Don’t get me wrong, we are still reaping the benefits of what changed thanks to this book. For the most part, I know now that when I buy sausage, it isn’t going to full of fillers and whatever Joe the sausage guy found on the floor along with a helping of TB and God knows what else.

Still, it took years before any real social or economic changes happened and they are still happening today. What is worse, is that while America has benefited by leaps and bounds, there are still countries in the world where slavery happens. (Yes, I dropped the “wage” term, let’s just call a spade a spade)

What I got from The Jungle- a meandering tale of what it meant to be an immigrant in the Boom Town of Chicago and probably many other large cities at the time. The pain, the struggle and the loss was something that 99.9% of people today just cannot fathom.

What I didn’t expect to get- Hope. People are good at heart. They may not see the suffering in front of them, but when you make them look….really make them see, it can inspire them to be a part of the change for a better world.

I also caught the Upton Sinclair bug and have been on a kick about him and his work ever since. Did you know that he founded California’s chapter of the ACLU and ran for Congress? I sure as heck didn’t.

I need to thank Kim for getting me over my fear of chewing and digesting classics. I have never been afraid of reading them, but somehow felt that discussing them was a bit out of my league. It is nice to know that there is indeed a league of our own once in awhile. (pun totally intended)

I bet that you thought that this was supposed to be a review, not a political commentary. Sorry, I got on my soap box somehow. That is how I seem to roll these days.

November 7th, 2010

Think of a Number by John Verdon

by Gwen



Dave Gurney, the top homicide investigator for the NYPD, retires to live in bucolic upstate New York.  Still trying to figure out what retirement looks like, he receives a plea for help from on old college friend.  Self-help guru Mark Mellery has been receiving veiled threat letters that start by asking him to “Think of a number” and then proceed to read his mind and tell him the number he chose.

Gurney urges Mellery to go to the cops, but he doesn’t want them delving into his not-so-shiny past. When Mellery is murdered, Gurney is pulled back into the life that he thought he had left behind. Other people are being murdered with similar MOs in the Bronx, Connecticut and Massachusetts. He can’t walk away.  The killer is taunting police and they are a mess of egos, politics and ignorance.

Think of a Number brings you on a wild ride with seemingly unrelated victims, strange poetic threats from a killer who seems to know everything about the victims, and a man trying to figure out what is left when he leaves behind a career in law enforcement. Is there such a thing as retirement for a homicide investigator? And just how does the serial killer know what number his victims will think of?

I liked it, but it made me dread retirement. Just what am I going to do when I retire? Chasing serial killers isn’t one of my strong points…


Think of a Number by John Verdon

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1 edition (July 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307588920
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307588920