Call out the cadaver dogs

This is Pierre's last guest post for me! As anyone can tell if they regularly read my usual posts, I've not edited anything he wrote.

Day 5: The Voyage Home.

Now that may sound like a star trek movie, and I can tell you that the train ride home certainly had a lot in common with a Captain Kirk adventure. There were slightly off-human creatures everywhere and we rode a vehicle that rocked and swayed as if it were being pummeled by Klingon torpedoes. But one expects that in a train ride. What did surprise me however was the post-apocalyptic landscape rushing by.... scores of boarded up factories and worn out little towns. I probably imagined the mutant faces peering out of the splintered window panes because by the time we reached Albany the vodka was starting to kick-in.

I’ve always maintained that it does me no good to think too much. That includes my past, my immediate surroundings and the nasty consequences of whatever I happen to be doing. But sometimes I wonder. For instance, why was I the only passenger asked by the customs agent whether I was carrying any alcohol? And what am I to make of the crazy old bat with one of those creepy Eastern European accents who whispered to me that she only pretended to be an invalid so she could get a better seat and said "you a big mouth" when I told everyone? Am I suppose to ignore the fact that Henry the Club-car attendant looks like an over-fed harem eunuch? I’ve come to the conclusion that only the young and the inebriated can tolerate train travel.

Why I hurt more than you do

This is Pierre's third guest post on my blog.

Day 3 in the big apple.

The day began at MOMA. To you uncultured sots out there, MOMA is not some ethnic designation for grandmother, it's a hideously expensive modern art museum. Now modern art scares many people, and it should. If you say you don't understand it, then you're a cretin. If you say that you get it, really really do get it, then you're a simpering snob. I can confirm that the place is crawling with both of these forms of creature. With a spattering of earnest art students yammering at bemused kindergarten children about how the entirely blank canvas on the wall is meaningful. I knew I'd died and gone to hell when I saw the performing artist draped in white on a chair in a huge hall...just sitting there. I grabbed Donna and said 'We gotta go baby before that thing in my head awakes and looks for food.' Donna hates it when I talk like that so she agreed to leave. We walked to Central Park but I was getting tired of walking and Donna was getting tired of me so we took a cab to the Museum Of Natural History with the intention of seeing some goddamn dinosaurs. We spent a couple hours looking at a succession of exhaustingly fascinating natural stuff when I glanced at the museum floor plan and realized to my horror that we had been wandering in a circle and had been looking at the same exhibits over and over again. And it was a little circle that represented maybe 5% of the museum floor area. I mean, a rock is a rock is a rock, right? Well, needless to say, I did not share this information with Donna but instead suggested that we hit the Gift Shop, which is the only reason to go to a museum anyway.

So to make a short story long, I'll tell you about our evening on Broadway. We saw 'Chicago', which Donna had assured me was about Al Capone and the mafia but instead was about singing people in various stages of undress. Lots of them. Sitting in front of us was a hydro-cephalic with what looked to be a a painfully painfully large head, and behind us sat two couples simpering in that annoying french dialect found exclusively in the St. Laurence valley. Tabernac.

Fear and Loathing at the BEA

Again, this is a guest post by my husband, Pierre. And can I just add that I am not responsible for anything he says.

Day two in the Big Apple.

I learned from yesterday's over-indulgence, so I went easy last night with Grandma Clampet's medicine so this morning my head didn't feel like a suppurated mango.

We had breakfast in a hotel restaurant, the kind of place that gets it mostly right, and I piled my plate with salmon and capers. That may have been a mistake, because when people smell fresh raw fish on your breath before 9:00 a.m., they can't quite place the smell and tend to avoid you. My alienation and generally awful awkwardness was, however, just beginning. As we stood in line for the shuttle bus to the convention center, I noticed that everyone was dressed business casual. Some wore suits. And the women were grim-faced. This created an odd burning sensation in the waistband of my jeans where I had forgotten to put on my belt. Never mind. It's better to be under-dressed than over-dressed. Unless you're going to a book convention crammed with khaki wearing professorial types with fussy beards. Then being under-dressed means approaching a booth and having its oh-so-slightly desperate sales-rep ask you when you'll be removing the trash. Now, I wasn't going to talk about the crowds because then you'd think all I do is complain, but I'm only happy when I'm unhappy so I'll say this about the crowds. Most of the exposition floor had that War-is-Imminent-And-That-Over-There-is-the-Last-Train feel to it. I left early and went to Rockefeller Plaza but got lost in the diamond district.

I cannot say that things began well...

The following is a guest post by my husband, Pierre.

Day one in the Big Apple

Like every day, this day really began the night before when Donna (she who must be obeyed, and no eye-rolling) informed me that we had to meet her buddies from the hood (Avis, Tina, Cindy and Linda) at 9:00 a.m. WTF, I shouted, and not the annoying acronym either. That meant waking up at 7:00 a.m., something that my doctor told me never ever to do the way I drink. But there was nothing for it. By the time room service came with the breakfast at 8:00 a.m., I already knew that I had grown a brain tumor overnight. I was dizzy and my head felt other-worldy and brain-tumory. The breakfast sausages were clearly a cruel joke by the hotel staff; they looked like cadaver fingers, the kind that are dragged out of the lake a few weeks after the accident, but I ate them anyway. Thankfully, I was miraculously healed by noon and then spent a great day doing stuff. Not sure exactly what, but I'm sure it was fun.

BEA Itinerary!

I'm going Book Expo America next week with my husband. Also attending BEA will be Cindy, Linda, Tina and Avis. All of us are traveling by train so and it's going to be a bit of trek. I took the train last year too and though it was quite long it was really nice. The scenery along the Hudson River was breathtaking and because the train was sparsely populated, most people had two seats to themselves and so it was possible to stretch out. I'm hoping it will be a similar trip this year...though traveling with my blogger buddies will make for a very fun ride!

This is my tentative schedule for the week:


- Train!


- Likely will visit The Strand and a couple of other book stores.
- Visit the New York Public Library and a museum (maybe the Natural History).
- Dinner with my blogger buddies.


- BEA all day.
- Broadway show at 8 p.m. with Cindy and Linda (Mary Poppins)


- I may or may not go back to BEA - playing it by ear.
- Museum again (probably the Metropolitan, though I'd like to visit MOMA too)

- Meandering walk through Central Park
- Dinner and another Broadway Show (Chicago) (I know, I know, but I LOVE Broadway shows)


- I'm keeping this open for various sightseeing possibilities; perhaps go see the Cloisters.


- Train ride home, during which I will have plenty of time to start planning next year's trip!

Since I'm taking the week off from work during a very busy time I'll be checking in daily to deal with office stuff. That's not ideal but not so bad either when I consider the alternative of not going to New York at all!

Waiting on Wednesday: The Late, Lamented Sally Marx

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

I noticed The Late, Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow as I was browsing Chapters/Indigo. From the author's website:

Molly Marx led an enviable life—until she was found dead along the bank of the Hudson River. A young wife and mother, Molly now finds herself in The Duration, where, with the help of a refreshingly unorthodox guide, she can observe the friends and family she left behind: her plastic surgeon husband who even in mourning can’t control his wandering eye, the handsome colleague she found irresistible, a fiercely competitive twin sister, her controlling mother-in-law, a loyal but confused friend, and—most important—her purest love, a three-year-old daughter. As Molly watches them try to untangle the events leading to her mysterious end, she relives her past and learns the fates of those she cherished most (and least).

Exploring marriage, fidelity, friendship, family, and mortality, The Late, Lamented Molly Marx is a playful yet tender love story about a flawed but charming woman, forced—better late than never—to take responsibility for the choices in her complicated life.

Published by Random House Publishing Group, this book is coming out in trade paperback on June 8th. It sounds like a good summer read!

Tuesday Teasers

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences somewhere between lines 7 and 12 and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

My teaser this week is from The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst. From page 51:

'I can't for the life of me think why he would sit with me for half an hour, saying nothing of any import, then pass me this cryptic message in such an oblique way. Did he think someone would be watching us?'

A new look!!!

Yep, I've changed my blog! I'm trying it on for size and so far I really like it. There is some tweaking to be done here and there (I'm still re-thinking the animated books in the header) but otherwise it's good to go. I'd love to hear any and all suggestions and comments!

I have to say a HUGE thank you to Linda from Better With Books. She did a lot of html coding and exercised a great amount of patience while I chose a 'look'. I could not have done this without her encouragement and help. So, thank you LINDA!!

ETA: I can see that my links are not showing up in posts! I'll have to work on that one.

Books On My Shelves

Books On My Shelves is a semi-weekly meme about books and authors I find on my bookstore shelves.

I found these two books on a table in my bookstore this week. They looked so whimsical and charming and I had to look them up. They're not very big books so I could read them in a couple of hours I think (though given my tendency to read slowly, maybe a bit longer). My research into Paul Gallico shows he was quite prolific - he wrote stories for children and books for the sports enthusiast. These two books, Mrs. 'Arris Goes to New York and Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris are part of a series of four books. Paul Gallico died in Antibes in 1976.

Review: The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

When I was offered the opportunity to review The Kitchen House I did a bit of research on it. Set in the late 1700’s on a plantation in the American South, I had a good idea what the focus of the book would be. I’m a bit leery of books about slavery – I’ve read quite a few and naturally the stories are not happy ones.

I try to accept review copies of books that I’m fairly certain I’ll like. Who wants to spend time and effort writing a negative review after reading a book they didn’t like? It happens occasionally anyway – one can never be sure before reading the book how it’ll turn out. But I needn’t have worried about The Kitchen House; it was an absolutely wonderful reading experience.

What I liked best about Kathleen Grissom's book were the characters. They became people I wanted to know. When something good happened I was happy for them and sad when a not-so-great event occurred. The author made fictional characters seem so real that they jumped off the page. More than once I was brought to tears and felt real sympathy for these people. Most of the characters were complex personalities dealing with complex problems. Though the main antagonist (and it could be argued just who the main antagonist is) is not likeable, the character was written with sympathy and while I did not excuse his behavior, I could easily understand the reasons behind his conduct.

The other great thing about The Kitchen House is the plot. My heart was pounding after reading the first page. I didn’t know exactly what was going on but the small bit that I read gave me a powerful sense of fear, anxiety and curiosity. From there on, the story developed into the drama, hardship and joy a close-knit family experiences in the slave quarters of a large plantation. The story moved quickly and I was so engrossed I couldn’t believe it when it ended. I still want to spend time with these people!

I loved The Kitchen House and wholeheartedly recommend it for book clubs – I think it would generate very lively discussions.

Thanks go to the author, Kathleen Grissom, for sending me this book to review.

Waiting on Wednesday: Storm Prey by John Sandford

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

I've read all of John Sandford's Prey books except for Wicked Prey. I'm saving that for a summer read. Now I'll have two to read. Storm Prey will be published May 18th.

I think these books aren't for everyone but I'm addicted. If you love to read thrillers and like to get to know recurring characters then these might be the books for you!

Tuesday Teasers

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences somewhere between lines 7 and 12 and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

This week my teaser is from The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. From page 54:

He was still mulling it over in his mind when Mrs. Tinker came in with fresh pyjamas for him and her daily précis of the newspaper headlines. Mrs. Tinker never read past the third headline of a report unless it happened to be a murder, in which case she read every word and bought an evening paper for herself on the way home to cook Tinker's supper.
I haven't read Josephine Tey (a pseudonym for Elizabeth Mackintosh) before now and am enjoying the discovery of this new-to-me author.

This meme is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page and Kristi at The Story Siren.

I received another book through LibraryThing last week. Written by Adrienne McDonnell, I haven't started reading The Doctor and the Diva yet, but I'm looking forward to it. I liked the description of this book better than the title (which reminds me of a romance novel). From Penguin's website:

It is 1903. Dr. Ravell is a young Harvard-educated obstetrician with a growing reputation for helping couples conceive. He has treated women from all walks of Boston society, but when Ravell meets Erika-an opera singer whose beauty is surpassed only by her spellbinding voice-he knows their doctor-patient relationship will be like none he has ever had.

After struggling for years to become pregnant, Erika believes there is no hope. Her mind is made up: she will leave her prominent Bostonian husband to pursue her career in Italy, a plan both unconventional and risky. But becoming Ravell's patient will change her life in ways she never could have imagined.

Lush and stunningly realized, The Doctor and the Diva moves from snowy Boston to the jungles of Trinidad to the gilded balconies of Florence. This magnificent debut is a tale of passionate love affairs, dangerous decisions, and a woman's irreconcilable desires as she is forced to choose between the child she has always longed for and the opera career she cannot live without. Inspired by the author's family history, the novel is sensual, sexy, and heart-stopping in its bittersweet beauty.

Tuesday Teasers

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences somewhere between lines 7 and 12 and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

My teaser this week is from The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox. From page 125:

'How would I be revenged? I turned the question over and over in my mind, imagining the ways in which Phoebus Daunt might be made to feel what I had felt, and envisioning the means by which his hopes could be destroyed. He was at Cambridge now, as I knew from Le Grice, both having taken their places at King's College.'

Mailbox Monday

This meme is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page and Kristi at The Story Siren.

I received a package last week from Canada Post. It was wrapped in plastic and in bold black text said, 'Apology from Canada Post Corporation'. It goes on in letter format with 'Dear Customer' and explains that they 'sincerely regret that your mail item is damaged. It was found in this condition in the mailstream.' ARGHHH! Well, I know things like this happen. But did it have to happen to a book? I undid the plastic and the book was in a large envelope that had been ripped open along the top and then taped over again. It looked as if someone stuck their finger into the envelope and tore it open. Perhaps this happened at the border and they're checking packages for drugs or other illegal paraphernalia. Don't they have ex-ray machines for this sort of thing? Did they really have to rip it open? The cover of the book was bent and some of the pages inside were folded over. It looked like it had been well-read! In any case, I will not let this stop me from enjoying the book! The Crossroads Cafe by Deborah Smith is a LibraryThing early reviewer book that I won in March. I'm looking forward to reading and reviewing it, damaged or not!

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