Ambassador of Books ~ Book Club Madam ~ Blogger Gal

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Upcoming Author Events in the MD/DC/VA Area

For anyone in the Maryland/DC/Virginia area, here are some events coming up over the next few weeks:

Margaux Fragoso, author of TIGER, TIGER, in Baltimore - Thursday, April 28 - 1-2:30pm

In recognition of National Child Abuse Awareness month, the Baltimore Child Abuse Center (BCAC) is hosting an event this Thursday with Margaux Fragoso, author of the controversial new memoir Tiger, Tiger in which she chronicles her experience with childhood sexual assault. She will be speaking and reading excerpts from her book at the Enoch Pratt Free Library on Thursday, April 28 (see the media advisory below for more information). Her memoir was reviewed by the New York Times ( and many other credible outlets. 

Her appearance and talk in Baltimore will mark the first time she is willing to speak with the media.

Child abuse is a very real and prominent problem here in Baltimore and the Baltimore Child Abuse Center is committed to providing all victims of child sexual abuse in Baltimore – and their non-offending caretakers – with interviews, medical treatment, referrals and crisis counseling in a child-friendly setting. Last year, they supported more than 900 children and 600 families locally.


H. T. Narea, author of THE FUND, at Georgetown University - Tuesday, May 10 - 6:30-8:30pm 

Panel discussion on the book and the idea of financial terrorism - click here for more details


Justin Kramon, author of FINNY, at Howard County - Thursday May 12, 7-8pm -

According to Justin's email, "The talk is about my life as a writer and how I've used things that have happened to me in my fiction.  It's a talk I've given at other libraries and at book clubs, and it's pretty light and hopefully funny, so I thought it might appeal to a range of different readers and writers.   [...] The event is free and open to the public, but they're asking that people register here:"


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

quick thoughts on more books

Here are a few more quick reviews ... I'm just about caught up now!

, by Ally Condie - There was a big fuss about this book last year and I basically ignored it because this isn't the type of book I usually read (it's YA dystopian).  However, when the audio version popped up as a downloadable option from my library I figured I'd give it a shot. And I have to say ... I quite enjoyed this one! The first part of the book was okay but by the end I was really into it.  I'm definitely looking forward to the next book in the series. (9.8 hours)

Click image to view full cover
20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne - I've mentioned before that I have a literary crush on Jules Verne, and that I love the old movie of this book. I can't believe it's taken me so many years to actually get around to the book.  Parts of it were really good but parts of it dragged as well.  It was interesting to see how our views of nature have changed since Verne's era.  Many times in the book the characters mentioned that the ocean has such an abundance that man will never be able to use it all up - how different than what we know now!  I'm glad I listened to this one but it isn't my favorite Verne.  (11.5 hours)

A Member of the Family: The Ultimate Guide to Living with a Happy, Healthy DogCesar's Rules: Your Way to Train a Well-Behaved DogCesar Millan books - I skimmed through both Cesar's Rules and A Member of the Family just after we got Bullet.  I didn't read them thoroughly but rather focused on sections that I thought might be helpful.  I'm a huge Cesar fan and can't recommend these enough - if you have a dog or want to get a dog, definitely check into Cesar's methods. (320 pages each)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

quick thoughts on a bunch of books

I've gotten very behind on reviews over the last few months. My goal was to slowly get caught up again but it isn't working.  When all else fails, make a new plan!

New Plan: I'm going to write up quick thoughts on a bunch of books over the next few days until I get completely caught up and then I'll (hopefully) be able to stay current again. *crosses fingers*

Super Mini Reviews

Towers of Midnight (Wheel of Time, Book Thirteen)

Towers of Midnight, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson - I loved this one even though it was different from the previous book in the series (The Gathering Storm). For one thing, it focused heavily on one of my favorite characters: Perrin.  I also liked that we're finally starting to see the whole epic story coming together. I can't wait for the final book! (861 pages)

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow: A Novel of Bright's PondThe Prayers of Agnes Sparrow, by Joyce Magnin - I was looking for a light fun read and thought this would be it.  It was, until about halfway through, at which time it took a rather dark turn.  The book wasn't bad but it was definitely NOT what I was expecting nor what I wanted it to be.  Still, I loved the characters and thought they were very real - they were my favorite parts of the book. I got this from BEA last year and it took me until January to read it ... oops! (398 pages)

Click image to view full cover
Twelve Angry Men, by L.A. Theater Works - This was a fascinating story. When you have twelve people stuck in a room arguing over the fate of one person things can get rather interesting.  If you have a chance, definitely listen to this short play - it's worth your time. (1 hour, 50 minutes)

Tortilla CurtainThe Tortilla Curtain, by T.C. Boyle - This book gave me a lot to think about regarding illegal immigration.  It's a complicated yet simple story of two families living in California and the ways that their lives intersect.  These families couldn't be more different yet I identified with both of them in some way.  I'm definitely interested in checking out more by this author!  (11 hours, 47 minutes)

Ok, that's all I've got for now! Has anyone read or listened to these? What did you think of them?

Friday, April 22, 2011

my current series reading

I am currently immersed in two audio book series' and cannot wait for the next books to be available through my library.

The first series is the Bloody Jack books by L. A. Meyer.  I've made it up through book 5 so far and am totally loving them.  These are fun historical fiction that can make me laugh out loud but also shed a few tears.  I never thought I'd like these books but now I can't get enough of them. Honestly, these are the books that pulled me out of my book rut a few months ago.    

I also gave in and finally started the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon. I knew I'd love these but I didn't want to start another series just yet.  Still, I finally gave in and WOW - how great are they?!  I just finished book 2 and can I just say "cliffhanger"?! This is historical fiction of a completely different type from the Bloody Jack books and I'm enjoying it in a completely different way.

I'll share my thoughts on each series when I get to the last books in each, but meanwhile I'm wondering if you are fans of these books as well?  If not, what's stopping you from giving them a shot?!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

BEA/BBC Roommate Update

I've got 2 roommates for BEA/BBC! I'm thrilled to say that I'll be sharing a room with Amanda from Zen Leaf and Megan from Leafing Through Life.  I met Amanda last year and though we didn't know it at the time, we have a whole lot in common.  We've gotten to know each other via our blogs over the past year and now I can't wait to hang out with her in NYC - it will be a blast!  Megan is new to me but I'm looking forward to getting to know her as well - I'm sure she's great!

That said, there is still space for ONE more person in our room!  Our hotel is less than a half mile from the convention center and we got a great rate on the room (the only downside is that it is very small - clean, but small).  If you'd like to be part of our super cool group of bloggers AND be close to all the convention events AND save a ton of money, we'd love to have you in our room.

Email me or post a comment if you are interested, and feel free to share this with anyone you know who might still be looking.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Kiddo Update and Pics

It's been a while since I updated everyone on how Kiddo is doing healthwise (for a bit of background, start with this post).  Things are actually going very well on that front!  His last endoscopy showed that he isn't allergic to bison so that was a great thing.  It means he can continue to eat bison burgers, roasts, steaks, etc. and that makes him VERY happy.  (As a reminder, the only other meat he could eat prior to this was shellfish, and they get boring very quickly when you are also a picky eater.)  Because of the latest test results the doctors think that his allergy to beef MAY have been a false positive.  So we are currently nearing the end of a three month trial of beef that appears to be going well.  Kiddo will have another endoscopy in May to determine if beef can stay in his diet or if he'll have to give it up.  To be honest, other than from a convenience and cost standpoint (beef is much cheaper and easier to get than bison), none of us really care if beef can stay or not - if it has to go, Kiddo can continue to eat bison and it is so incredibly similar to beef that he's good with it either way.

In hockey news, Kiddo's team didn't do so hot in their regular season but they came in 2nd place in a recent weekend tournament - woohoo!  Below are some pics from that weekend.  Kiddo is #9.

We recently went to see The High Kings, a completely fabulous Irish quartet.  We saw them a few years ago and we all love their music.  Here's Kiddo with the guys:

And here he is holding The High Kings guitar pick that the guys all signed for him. How cool is that?!  Of course Hubby and I couldn't find anyone handy to take our picture so we relied on his long arms to do the trick, hence the odd angle of the photo. :)

Oh, and I'm getting ready for BEA/BBC in New York in May and I'm still looking for a few more roommates so if you're planning to go and need a place to stay PLEASE GET IN TOUCH ASAP!!!

There are other things going on, and of course I have some book reviews, but this is what's on my mind right now. :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Our New Dog: Meet Bullet

Hubby and Kiddo have been asking me for a long time to get a new dog.  It's been about 3 years since the older of our two dogs passed away, and about a year since the second one passed away, and I have to admit it's been mighty quiet around our house.  On the other hand I've really enjoyed not having dog hair everywhere, or worrying about who will care for them if we're not home, or the myriad other things that go along with dog ownership.

Still, we are dog people and we always will be so it was only a matter of time before another dog came into our lives.  We knew we wanted an adult dog because puppies are too much work.  We also knew we wanted a big and/or strong dog, since that is what all three of us like the best (our previous dogs were 90 lbs and 140 lbs, though the bigger on was a bit overweight).  No little yippy pooches for this family!

With that in mind Kiddo and I have been watching Dog Whisperer and It's Me Or The Dog! on TV for the past few months.  I didn't want to make the same mistakes with a new dog that we did with our previous ones, and I also wanted to be sure that there would be nothing to scare people about our dog other than the way he looks.  Little dogs can get away with bad behavior because they really don't seem that scary, but if you have a big dog barking and jumping at you, you're most likely going to be petrified!

Things just have a way of coming together, don't they?  Amidst all this dog talk, my sister informed me that her neighbors were looking for a new home for their 2 year old Rottweiler.  The family has three children plus the mom watches my sister's three kids a few days a week, so they really don't have time to care for such a big dog.  The dad is a police officer so he's on shift work, and that makes things all the more difficult.  The dog came to them as a little puppy; the dad adopted him after he was seized during a drug raid. The dog, Bullet (the dad is a police officer so of COURSE the dog is named Bullet!) had puppy training classes and is great with people and other dogs, according to the family.

SO we decided to do a weekend trial and see if Bullet would be a good fit at our house.  He came home with us on March 17 (that's St. Patrick's Day!) and has been here ever since.

Oh, did I mention that he JUST turned two on March 19 and that he already weighs 120 lbs?  I haven't measured his height, but this is THE BIGGEST Rottie I've ever seen.  He's fantastic!

Of course things did not go quite as smoothly as they could, but I was prepared for this and had already lined up a trainer in advance.  I'll tell you more about Bullet's issues and how we're handling them in another post (which I promise will come soon).

I know that many people are very afraid of Rotties (and Pit Bulls) as a breed , and though I understand why, I also hope to change that perception both through sharing Bullet's experiences here and getting people to meet him in real life.  I hope you'll keep in mind that it is often the owner and the lack of training (or the wrong kind of training) that make a dog mean rather than the breed that makes it that way.

Stay tuned for more on Bullet coming soon!
(Kiddo isn't home or I'd take a picture of him with Bullet so you get a better idea of the dog's size ...)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Tiger

The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival (Borzoi Books)

by John Vaillant
audiobook: 12 .1 hours
narrated by the author

I was REALLY looking forward to this book.  It is a true story, and one that greatly intrigued me.

Check out this video to get an idea of what the book is about:

This book turned out to be very different from what I expected, in both good and bad ways.

On the one hand the story is much MUCH more complex than simply a tiger stalking and killing a man. I learned about the religious beliefs of the native Siberian people (and those of neighboring Asian countries), the status of animals during and after the Soviet government, poaching for survival and for profit, tiger biology and habits, and so much more.  The story in incredibly and fascinatingly complex, yet unbelievably simple at the same time.

On the other hand, I was sort of expecting more of the book to be about how and why this particular tiger had a vendetta against this particular man.  Although I did learn the answers to both questions, this comprised a much smaller portion of the book than I expected and I was a bit disappointed in that.  I think it was more a issue of how the book had been marketed than a fault of the book itself though.

On the whole I found this book fascinating and educational, if not always completely thrilling.  It wasn't one that I rushed back to whenever possible but it held my attention completely whenever I had it playing.

Oh, and the author did a great job narrating this one so that was a definitely bonus for me.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Roommates for BEA/BBC?

BEA and BBC are now less than two months away and I'm really getting excited about it now.  I had such a FANTASTIC time last year and cannot wait to see what this year brings.

I'm starting to get my plans organized and the first thing to do is find a few roommates. So ... is anyone planning to go to New York and still in need of a roommate?  I promise I don't bite, and I don't snore (at least, not most of the time), and my roommates last year had no complaints! :P

If you are interested in sharing a room with me leave a comment below or email me via my profile.  I'd love to get to know some of my readers, and what better way than by sharing a room?!
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