Thursday, June 26, 2014

Garden Ramblings - Ups and Downs

Garden Ramblings is a feature created by Karen from For What It's Worth Reviews.  I not only get blogging and book advice from Karen, but gardening too.  And because I want to be just like her, I decided to share what's "growing on" in and around my yard too.

I have a lot to catch you up on, since my last Garden Ramblings was at the beginning of May.  That month was a blur.  I had RT and BEA, which I still have to re-cap.

When I got back from RT, my seedlings were really coming along nicely.

I was hoping to plant them, but the best laid plans, etc., etc., etc., My side garden wasn't quite finished being mulched.  You can see below the side that has been mulched and the side that hasn't.  However, all the pruning and weeding has really allowed the Robin Hood Rose bush to really bloom.

And, I was hoping I'd be able to plant the vegetables in my vegetable garden.  But as you can see below, my attempts at making a fence just wasn't working out.  I was able to put in these metal posts (all by myself I may add), but I needed help with the actual fencing part.  My husband was afraid the deer (numerous in my area) and other animals would just be able to trample over the fencing so he bought wood posts and off I went to Home Depot to return the metal poles.

So BEA comes and goes and still no fenced in garden and unfortunately, all my little seedlings bit their own dust.  Even the tomatoes, which held on the longest, finally couldn't take not being replanted anymore and gave up the ghost.  

Over the past weekend my husband put up the wooden posts and this week we put up some of the fencing.  (Much sturdier). 

Remember my lovely NOLA balcony inspired garden from last year?  I had some issues there too.  I had a hard time finding Boston Ferns.  I found some at WalMart, but they weren't as big and lush as the ones I found at Home Deport last year.  Ah well.  My husband's roses are doing great, but my Tea Roses...not so much.  A lot of branches died and I really had to cut them back.  Also, more Black Spot like I had last year.  

One of my sad rose bushes. 

The other sad rose bush.  You can see the Black Spot on the leves.  With a lot of care, and staying on top of the Black Spot, some Tea Roses should still bloom.  I still love the way my NOLA garden turned out.

So that's what's been going on in my yard.  How about yours?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Book Blogger Buzz Tour!

Book Blogger Buzz Tour, Win a Kindle Fire HD

The Book Blogger Buzz Tour is stopping here!

For the month of July, book bloggers are coming together to discuss books and blogging, stories and reading!  Not only that, we're also giving away a Kindle Fire or equal Amazon Gift Card or Paypal cash.  Winners choice!

I couldn't be more excited.  All the topics looks so interesting and fun and I cannot wait to see what tips, confessions and insights my fellow bloggers have to share.  So please join us!

July Buzz Tour Schedule:

  • 07/01/14 Mama Kitty Reviews appearing on Me & Reading.
    Topic: Reading for Enjoyment vs. Reading for Reviewing - the difference in reading for enjoyment and the toll that reading review copies has done to our hobby. 
  • 07/10/14 Second Run Reviews appearing on Bibliognome.
  • Topic: Books you feel need more attention. A top ten list. Tell why you think they need to be read by everyone.
  • 07/14/14 Bibliognome appearing on Chapter Break.
  • Topic: You've been asked to write a short story starring a gnome character, what would the gnome be named and how would the story go?
  • 07/17/14 Reading Black & White appearing on My Midnight Fantasies.
  • Topic: What are those wonderful things you see in other blogger's reviews and think are wonderful? Or what do you like to see in other blogger's reviews?
  • 07/21/14 Parajunkee appearing on Midnyte Reader.
  • Topic: Are you creative or just depressed? A mental survival guide for bloggers.
  • 07/24/14 Janelle Reads appearing on Parajunkee.
  • Topic: What trends do you want to see next in book blogging? 
  • 07/31/14 Harlequin Junkie appearing on Janelle Reads.
    Topic: Dealing with your first negative review from an author you've enjoyed connecting with on social networks.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Evil Eye: Four Novellas of Love Gone Wrong

Title/Author: Evil Eye: Four Novellas of Love Gone Wrong by Joyce Carol Oates.

Narrators: Various.

Genre: Horror, Dark Fiction.

Publisher: Mysterious Press-Highbridge Audio Classics.

Source: Library.

Synopsis:  The fourth wife of a much older man thinks she is happy until the first wife comes to stay...A lonely outsider meets a dazzling kindred spirit, but first love soon turns sour...A drugged-up frat boy decides to murder his parents for their money, but is floored by the power of his mother's love...A fragile woman revisits her childhood abuse in order to satisfy her curious lover.

All these stories are about love.  But not as we like to think of it.

Midnyte Musings:  This collection is an interesting and varied mix with one thing in common.  They are tales of warped and dysfuctional love.

"Evil Eye" - I liked this story the best.  I found it very unsettling.  On the surface it's a story about a young woman who marries an older man and becomes his fourth wife.  She discovers that he is not as wonderful as she first thought.

"So Near Anytime Always" - At first I thought this story was going to have a supernatural ending.  Maybe one about immortality or time travelling from the mysterious behavior of Desmond.  However, it didn't turn out this way.  The reality of the story and his intentions are more grounded in the real world but are also far worse. 

"Execution" - This story is about Bart, a spoiled college-age student who kills his father and attempts to kill his mother for their insurance money.  His mother id'ed him at first, but then retracted the accusion.  I wondered at the abrupt ending, but figured that Bart is now punished because he has to spend his time chaufering his mother and being with her practically all the time.  Irony.

"Flatbed" - Celia, a sexually abused woman who, with the help of her lover (only referred to as "N"), get revenge on her abuser from her childhood. Fans of vigilanteism and violent payback will like this, but to be honest, I felt more sympathy for him than on his avengers.  I don't know if this was Oates's intention, with the powerful and powerless switching roles, but it made me uncomfortable.  So perhaps that was the point.  It also made me feel that Celia was being submissive to "N" as he forced the secret out of her and then convinced her that revenge was justifiable.  So all her life Celia had a secret and now her and "N" have one as well. 

The stories were interesting and imaginative.  I connected mostly with Lisbeth from the second story because I can remember being a young girl and longing for a relationship. But it was the first story that affected me out the most.  The style reminded me of Shirley Jackson with buildip, the voice reminded me of the Monkey's Paw due to the dread and the end is ambiguous and made me wonder and think.  What was real?  What did it mean?  I think it would make for a wonderful discussion.  And probably, all the stories would.  In Execution, what did the mother really know?  In Flatbed, was the lover's justice warranted? Ethical?

Narration: I appreciated that each story was read by a different person and that each narrator fit the story. In Evil Eye the woman sounded age appropriate as the younger sounding voice for So Near Anytime Always.

Starstruck over: The fact that although this wasn't a favorite, I still find myself thinking about the stories.

Monday, June 16, 2014

World Made By Hand.

Title/Author: World Made by Hand by James Howard Kunstler

Genre: Post Apocalyptic, Speculative Fiction.

Publisher: Grove Press.

Source: Purchased.

Synopsis For the townspeople of Union Grove, New York, the future is not what they thought it would be.  Transportation is slow and dangerous, so food is grown locally at great expense of time and energy. And the outside world is largely unknown. There may be a president and he may be in Minneapolis now, but people aren’t sure. As the heat of summer intensifies, the residents struggle with the new way of life in a world of abandoned highways and empty houses, horses working the fields and rivers replenished with fish.
Midnyte Thoughts:  World Made by Hand sat on my bookshelf for several years.  Finally, I felt like a post-apocalyptic story and was immediately taken in by main character Robert Earle.  Robert is surviving in a small town in the Hudson Valley in upsate New York.  Union Grove is populated by other survivors and the feel of the town is one of a friendly community that helps their neighbors survive.  One person trades their eggs, another practices rudimentary dentistry, while another has a small general "store."   

In this world, major cities have been bombed and the government is non-existent (or at least not far reaching).  There is no more way to automatically generate electricity, no gas for cars or generators, no supermarkets where you can just go buy your food.  Now people have to go back to basics.  Grow their own food or trade it.  Heat up water over a fire to bathe. Read by candlelight in the evening.  I loved the little details of how people dealt with all this.  How they came by candles, how Robert rigged an outside shower, how people made food and clothes.  

The story gets going when a group of people going by the name of The New Faith Congregation moves into town and takes over the abandoned High School.  They are extremely industrious, hard working and efficient.  They soon have a workable water system going in town and want to start making more improvements.  Of course, they want the townspeople to join their Community as well.  They seem cult-like at first but soon prove that although they are religious and yes, they do want the townspeople to come live with them and find Jesus, they are more help than hindrance and soon form an alliance with the town.  

It's a world made by hand now, one stone at a time, one board at a time, one hope at a time, one sould at a time. 

Another reason I liked the book so much is that I'm semi familiar with the locales.  The Hudson River, upstate New York, Albany.  Even now some towns are not as affluent as they once were, but it doesn't take away the beauty of the landscape.  

I loved was the supernatural element toward the end of the book that made me wonder and think.  There was no clear cut explanation which made it more mysterious.  As a character in the book said (sorry can't remember who), without all the chatter of technology from before, life's mysteries are easier to see.

Although there is some violence and tense moments, this is a quiet book about men going about their lives and women surviving along with them.  I don't think that all women be like 50s housewives if the world came to this end, but this is what we see.   I'm interested to read the second book in this trilogy The Witch of Hebron to see what transpires.  Maybe the Witch will turn out to be a strong woman.   

Starstruck over: The way this gentle book kept me engaged in the story and caring about the characters.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Feature & Follow - Guilty Pleasures (June 5, 2014).

Feature and Follow is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  Click on the links to visit their blogs and find out more about this great meme.

What are your non-book guilty pleasures?  Like TV shoes, food, websites, hobbies, etc.  

I consider a guilty pleasure something I do and I kind of feel guilty about it because I'm not doing something more productive, like housework and especially reading and blogging!  I feel guilty when I play games online, especially Candy Crush Saga because it is a time suck and I have a love/hate relationship with it.  I also like to play the Sims and torment them by not having them clean their house or get enough sleep.

How about you?  What's your guilty pleasure?

Guest Post by Kate - Why I'm a Midnight Book Girl

I love books.  I love all kinds of books.  I read a wide variety of genres, and I always will because I'm very much a mood reader.  Sometimes I need to laugh, or cry, or get caught up in a thriller so that I can get my mind off real life worries.  But I will always have a special place in my bookish heart for the horror books that turned me into a Midnight Book Girl in the first place. 

I don't remember my exact age when I read my first horror story, but I was still in grade school.  It was probably around 4th or 5th grade.  My dad left a copy of Firestarter by Stephen King in the upstairs hall bathroom.  There it was, sitting on the edge of the bathtub, beckoning me with it's firey title. So I grabbed it and started to read. It would be fair to say that I didn't grasp everything I was reading, and yes, the book did give me nightmares.  But I felt something spark inside me too, I was reading a grown up book!  I'd already heard of Stephen King, and had probably seen some movies based on his books by then (thanks to my older brother Patrick and his supply of horror movies to keep me in line when he had to babysit me).  The fact that Firestarter was also a horror novel only added to the excitement.  It felt taboo, but at the same time because the main character was a young girl, I was able to identify with her.  

You know, because I can set fire to things with my mind too. 

I have to hand it to my parents- they never put limits on what books I was reading.  Oh, my dad rolled his eyes a bit when I bought every single Sweet Valley High book, but because he was a very eclectic reader himself he never batted an eye at my choices (I can only assume that's because he never read a Jackie Collins novel so he had no idea the kind of smut I was reading in high school).  In fact, in 6th grade, when I re-discovered Stephen King, my dad and I listened to The Mist on audiobook whilst taking a particularly foggy/rainy drive from Virginia to Pennsylvania. 

What really got me hooked on horror was all the Christopher Pike books in the early 90s- my blog name was inspired by his book The MidnightClub.  From then on out I sought bloodier, scarier and creepier books.  I devoured John Saul, Cold Fire by Dean Koontz was read over and over again, and then there was always my first love, Stephen King.  I read some really bad horror novels too, but into every genre a little crap must fall, right?

Of course, nowadays it's not as common for me to stay up reading horror until the midnight hour.  But I'm still reading horror along with all the other genres I've come to appreciate.  Through Stephen King, I've found a lot of other great authors- Richard McCammon, Joe Hill, Richard Laymon (although, to be honest, his books have proven to be even more twisted than I can handle), Anne Rice, and tons of thriller and mystery authors.  I'm much pickier about my horror novels these days, and I tend to gravitate to the thriller aspect of horror, but I'll always be that sameMidnight Book Girl, reading Stephen King and scaring myself so bad that I have to sleep with the lights on. ;)

Visit Kate at Midnight Book Girl!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Book Con: Hit or miss?

When I first attended BEA in 2010, there was controversy on blogger attendance.  Why, people wanted to know, were these people allowed to attend an industry event? Book Expo is for professionals.  Librarians to find out what books were coming out, book buyers to place orders and Publishers to conduct business.  There was worry about bloggers being able to gain access to something that only industry professional were able to before.  And of course, there was a lot of talk about bad blogger behavior.  As time went on, bloggers gained respect and proved themselves by showing how serious they were about reading, promoting books, gaining exposure for new authors, and simply just showing their love of stories.  Along with the change in how book bloggers were seen, the population seemed to change at BEA.  When I first attended a few years ago, I dreaded telling people I met I was a blogger.  I was afraid to see the subtle cringe or the dismissive attitude.  Now it's much different.  I meet book bloggers on almost every line along with librarians and book sellers.

In 2013, the last day of BEA was also Power Reader day.  Avid readers were able to gain access to the Javits Center and partake in the joy of autograph signings and visiting booths.  It seemed to me, that the tickets were limited and only accessible by people who were immersed in the reading culture.  There were mixed feelings about their appearance and a mixed bag of stories about their behavior.  Sound familiar?

This year, 2014, Saturday was Book Con.  Attendees of Book Con could go to the autograph lines and a designated area of the show floor.  Also included were various panels that showcased popular authors such as Holly Black, Cassandra Clare and John Green.  The lines and crowds were comparable to NY Comic Con (which ironically I stopped attending several years ago due to the crowds and lack of organization).  It was difficult to navigate on the Book Con side of the show floor amidst the strollers, large backpacks hitting me in the face and elbows in my side.  I chose not to brave the crowds to go into the autograph area.  My 5'2" friend was jostled and pushed so much on one line, her husband told her to find safety while he took her place.   Several Book Con attendees wanted to know how I managed to get a BEA badge that let me in for the entire show.  Many were incredulous that "...all you had to do was have a blog."  Their words, not mine.  I have to tell you, I felt a bit insulted.

Security was busy at Book Con.
Tweets were plenty from both sides. Bloggers were unhappy and frustrated with the crowds and behavior of Book Con attendees.  Book Con attendees were outraged they couldn't go past the security to the other side of BEA.  (Security did a great job, by the way!)  I realized that it was indeed, more like chaotic, crazy Comic Con than busy, hectic Book Expo.

Did I hate it?  Yes.  Was I unhappy? Yes. But I always try to play devil's advocate and wonder if I'm being unfair.  Is the way that the bloggers and other BEA attendees felt about Book Con an echo of how industry insiders felt about us in years past?  Is this just yet another change with the conference dynamics?  Do we just have to realize that Book Con is a separate entity and adjust accordingly?  Do we have to wait several years before Book Con attendees are integrated into the landscape of BEA like bloggers eventually became an accepted population?

The thing is, I feel as Bloggers, most of us were aware that we were attending a professional event.  We policed ourselves and wrote posts expressing unhappiness with bad blogger behavior and gave professional advice on etiquette as well as tips on attending an overwhelming trade show and travelling to and within NYC.

Autographing area at Book Con.  I did not venture in.
I admit that Book Expo had a great idea to utilize the vendors that were already at the Javits center, authors who may already have been available and the whole vibe of a bookish platform.  I just read that 10,000 tickets were sold for Book Con.  I myself saw the excitement of teens who were seeing Maggie Stiefvater and Rick Riordan.  I love the fact that so many people love books and reading.  But I couldn't help but feel like like the old friend being passed over for the new, exciting friend.  BEA suddenly shifted its focus to Book Con and left us BEA'ers in the dust and swallowed by the unruly crowds.  Perhaps the organizers need to be clear how different Book Con is.  Perhaps they thought they were being clear and we just weren't prepared.  Perhaps they didn't foresee the chaos that ensued.  It was clearly a separate entitity that I myself wasn't expecting, a definite convention more akin to Comic Con or the Auto Show that the Javits produces.

I am pretty sure that 2015 is the last year that BEA will be in NY and I don't know what will happen when the show relocates.  Maybe bloggers and other industry insiders who weren't feeling Book Con will be able to prepare themselves better.  I've already heard a number of people say they will not come on Book Con days.

Whatever anyone decides to do, Book Con was obviously a success (for the organizers of the event).  I think that many people in the book blogging community, myself included, hope that the organizers of BEA will listen to feedback on both sides and work accordingly to bring harmony to the event.

What do you think?  Am I being too harsh?   Maybe I'm not thinking of something that you are.  I would love to hear your point of view.  

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...