Thursday, July 29, 2010

Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto

Read 7/23/10 - 7/29/10
2 Stars - Recommended Lightly

Expectations. I think my expectations led me astray with this novel. Reading the advance praise for Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto set the stage for impossibly high standards. Seeing authors like Audrey Niffenegger say it was "unnerving and full of gorgeously written surprises and frightening marvels", and Junot Diaz claim that Chapman gave us "an eerie gift of a novel" using words like hallucinatory, ominous, and gothic to describe it, I couldn't help but think this book was going to creep me out and keep my mind moving through the middle of the night.

The novel starts off slow and sleepy, with a prologue from the joint points of view of people we have not yet met. They admit they have done something, something they are willing to share with us now, something they are not necessarily proud of, but felt compelled to do.

"We care only for ourselves...We love everything that we did...We are safe and happy now, and this is what we wanted."
It's a tale that takes place in early twentieth century Finland, in an old convalescent hospital that caters to women only, in an attempt to cure them of their "female problems".

So I tucked into the novel fully prepared to be chilled to the bone. I forgave the author for the first 50 or so pages, where she was still introducing us to Sunny, nurse to the female up-patients of Suvanto, and the women she looks after; Julia, with her gaudy rings and nasty behavior; Pearl, who enjoys playing her fellow sick-mates against one another with her game of favorites; and Mrs. Minder, a pyromaniac who tries to please. I also forgave her for the next 50 pages, in which we meet Dr. Peter Weber - the resident doctor who is hoping to test out the new "Weber Stitch" on the current female patients and also on the women with high risk pregnancies that he plans to incorporate into Suvanto.

See what I mean about setting the stage for expectations? I was mentally rubbing my hands together in anticipation.

150 pages and the novel is still slowly uncurling itself, not fully letting it's intentions be known, creating this uncanny sense of something BIG coming, right around the corner, if I would only just keep turning the pages. And I did. Oh, how I kept turning those pages.

Closing in around the 200th page, I was seriously beginning to wonder if I had wasted my time with this novel. I had less than 70 pages to go and nothing had really happened. I had reached the end of my rope. Chapman's teasing had gone on too long, had worn me out, with nothing to show for it....

But then, Chapter 13 slapped me across my face. It just reached right out and slapped me. HERE was something! Something BIG. Something I didn't see coming. Something I didn't think the author was capable of doing.

I began reading with renewed interest and the further I read, the more convinced I became that this, this chapter, was the catalyst for something even BIGGER. Hold on to your seats, ladies and gentlemen, this could become a very bumpy ride.

Only, it ended sort of .. meh .. for me. The story never really packed the punch that I thought it would. Or could. And I was left a bit confused and exasperated by the time I read the last line.

If you like slow meandering stories that take their time and won't frighten or surprise you, then you will find a lot to like here. Chapman can certainly tell a story!

Thanks must go out to Graywolf Press, who continue to treat me wonderfully, and supplied me with this review copy. We can't always expect to like everything we read, can we? Though I did give this one a fighting chance.

"How To Wear Your Hair" Winner

Congratulations to Ashley - Winner of "How To Wear Your Hair"!

She won a hardcover of the book, AND a personal hair consultation by the author Morgan Gantt.
Morgan will be sending her photos of the styles that would best compliment her round face.

I look forward to seeing her thoughts on the styles that Morgan chooses for her.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Author Teddy Wayne hangs with TNBBC this week

You are cordially invited to a week long meet and greet with Teddy Wayne, author of the fantastic debut novel KAPITOIL.

He joins the group tomorrow, July 26 and will hang with us until July 31st - answering any questions that you want to ask.

They do not need to be limited to the book, of course, but it wouldn't hurt to ask a few about that as well!!

Let's show him how we do things over at TNBBC and give him a great big welcome!!!

I look forward to seeing you there - Click here to meet him now!

(Once the week is over, I will be compiling all of the questions and answers into an interview format and posting it here. If you ask a questions that Teddy answers, I will credit you for the question in my blog post!)

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Read 7/17/10 -7/23/10
5 stars - Highly Recommended/ The Next Best Book

This book surprised me. It sat there, all harmless looking, in it's brown and red and black design, with it's runaway drop of oil very nicely mirroring the Empire State building, creating an inky rorschach-like design.

Now, I am certainly not above googling words when I struggle to spell them - and rorschach was one I definitely needed assistance with, so try to imagine the tiny little 'vibration' that coursed through me when I saw that rorschach was defined as " a psychological test in which subjects' perceptions of inkblots are recorded and then analyzed using psychological interpretation, complex scientifically derived algorithms, or both."

You don't get it yet, do you? Ok, let me explain. See, I knew what rorschach meant - I mean, I might not know how to spell it, but give me some credit here, you know! However, the word "algorithms", as it appears in the definition, hit me like a brick in the face. How absolutely fitting!!

Teddy Wayne's main character, a NYC banking transplant from Qatar, creates a program that can predict the future rise and fall of the price of the oil ... using algorithms. Sweet! Right?!

(Internal conversation with self: Wait, why is everyone staring at me like that? Ok, alright, I know. Calm down Lori, you're acting silly. Deep breaths. People are looking at you like you have just taken a swan dive off the deep end. They aren't going to understand completely unless they have read the book. So I have to find a way to get them to read it, right? To make them see? Don't I owe this to them? No. You don't. Yes. I do. I owe it to them. I must make them see! )

If you are anything like me, you may walk right past this novel, never thinking twice about. A book about financial banking, starring a grammatically correct computer wiz who slaves over a program that can search the internet for key words like "terrorism; terrorist; bomb; war" and use them to accurately predict the price of oil in order to assist his company increase their net value - yawn - right?

WRONG. Oh so very very wrong.

This book is so much more than computer programing and oil prices. It's really about humanity, and taking chances, and making a fool out of yourself, and struggling to fit in, and standing up for what you believe in when it would be so much easier to just back down and give in.

It really is amazing.

Teddy Wayne, first time novelist, is a naturally humorous guy. He has been contributing to McSweeny's for many years, though I just recently discovered it, and his hilariousness shines through so naturally in Kapitoil.

When we met at the Book Blogger Convention Reception in NYC back in May, he made a potentially awkward situation so wonderfully memorable as we joked about they way the internet, and its instantaneous access to everyone and everything, took what used to be viewed as a bad or socially unacceptable behavior ("following people") and turned it into a worldwide phenomenon that is now 100% acceptable, and sometimes even expected. "Will you follow me?" "Why won't he follow me?" "I have 300 followers".

That conversation can translate into anything we say or do. The meaning of english words change and evolve as we tweak and adjust their use in our day to day lives. Which confuses the heck out Karim Issar - The shining star of Wayne's novel.

He transfers from his position in Qatar to it's NYC branch, entering America in all it's ungrammatical glory in 1999. While this pre-9/11 story outlines the differences in religious, social, and work ethic habits of two very different cultures, it also brings to light the hilariously horrible ways we natives use and abuse the english language.

Karim carries a voice recorder in his pocket in an attempt to enhance his understanding of english. Idioms confuse him. Incorrect application of grammar irks him. He has a very strange, stiff way of speaking, of which he is painfully aware, and so he documents new words and sayings and begins to use them liberally when speaking to coworkers and friends in an attempt to fit in. Of course, the more he tries to apply them, the more uncomfortable and humorous his interactions become.

This novel really tickled my funny bone, and at times even hit home a bit harder than I anticipated. Working for a large company who believes very strongly in workplace diversity, I interact with associates who speak english as a second language on a daily basis. So some of Karim's frustrations and assumptions were familiar to me.

Run, don't walk, to your nearest bookstore. Adopt a copy of Kapitoil now. Bring Karim and his kooky english into your home and into your life. You won't regret it. It may just become your Next Best Book too.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Author Guest Post - Justin Kramon

Justin Kramon celebrated the release of his debut novel Finny a week ago today. An epic story of a girl named Finny Short, spanning 20 years of her life - the ups and downs, goods and bads, loves and losses, Kramon plays around with the effects of time on family, friends, and true love.

In honor of the novels recent release (and my timely review for it) I present you with a guest blog from the author himself!


My Love Story
by Justin Kramon

Since Finny has such a big love story and so many quirky characters, a lot of readers ask how much of the novel is true. I could never just write down the things that happened to me -- at least not in a way you would want to read. I wish I could. I think some fiction writers have a much easier time than I do writing about themselves in an interesting way. It's not that I don't want to get my experiences into my books; it's just that I don't seem to be able to do it without twisting the experiences around a lot.

One of the central story lines in my book is a love story between the main character of my novel, Finny, and a man named Earl, whom Finny meets as a teenager when she runs away from home. I've just always been fascinated with the unpredictable way that people move together and apart over time, and that when you have a relationship that lasts over a long time with someone, it’s always interesting when you come back together after a separation, having both faced new and different things.

I met my fiancée in college, and we had a very short relationship, and then we went separate ways for a while. She moved back to California , and I was in Iowa for grad school. We hardly kept in touch, but I still thought about her, and I'm going to imagine for my ego's sake that the same was true about her. And then, several years later, circumstances brought us both back to the east coast at the same time, and we restarted our relationship.

We’d both had different experiences and faced certain challenges, and so, in a way, it was a completely new relationship. Or I should say, we were both the same people, but what we brought to the relationship was different.

And that feeling of returning again and again to a person, constantly revising yourselves and what you mean to each other -- that was something I wanted to capture in the novel. The book is told from the point of view of a young woman, and the experiences she has are completely different than mine, but that underlying emotion of time passing, and the way time changes people, is a feeling I drew from in my own life to create the story in the book. The novel is dedicated to Lynn , my fiancée, and I could never have written it without her.


I want to thank Justin for being so easy to talk to and wish him a world of success with his new novel. Check it out!

Monday, July 19, 2010


Read 7/8/10 - 7/17/10
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended

As I wandered aimlessly through the crowd at the Book Blogger Convention Reception in NYC back in May, collecting business cards and finally putting faces to the names of bloggers I had been interacting with for months, I had the pleasure of meeting Justin Kramon - debut author of Finny.

It was that sort of bumbling, awkward I-turned-around-and-he-turned-around-and-now-we-are-facing-one-another moments in the middle of the conference room, those moments that are more common than not in those types of social networking scenes. Within minutes, the stilted "hi! you're an author? what did you write?" uncomfortableness transformed into a friendly "who is your favorite author? what do you think of this place?" conversation between two book lovers. Unknown to us, as we chatted away about the publishing process and release date of Finny, his near-obsessive love for John Irving, and my bookwhoredom for Jose Saramago and Cormac McCarthy, the BBCR crowd had thinned out greatly. When we parted ways, it was with a promise from him to send me a copy of his novel and from me to read it and review it for my blog.

Finny, the lead character in Kramon's novel, begins most of her interactions with people in the same bumbling, awkward way. It's an endearing, and sometimes even frustrating, quality that follows Finny throughout the entire life of the book.

When we first meet Finny, she is a painfully proud tomboy who enjoys tormenting her prim-and-proper mother and instigating her great-men-quoting father. Kramon describes her as "a tough, rascally kid...who avoided baths". In a moment of anger, Finny runs away from her family home and encounters Earl, a young man with a "mix and match body...a man's top half on a child's legs".

Here is where the story really begins. We see a change in Finny almost instantly. This fearless, aggressive young lady finds herself smitten with Earl, unable to stop thinking about him, devising ways to be able to spend time with him, and eventually they cultivate this unbreakable bond that even time cannot weaken.

Kramon's epic tale encompasses 20 years of Finny's life, in which we stumble along behind her numerous hello's and goodbye's to friends, family, and Earl. Because for Finny Short, there is only ever just Earl.

Connecting to this novel was not a hard thing to do. I lived a similar life to Finny in many ways. Having relocated 4 separate times throughout my middle and high school years, I made and lost many friends during that period of my life. Boys came and went, best friends were discovered and then discarded. But there were always a few constants, no matter where I was. Those people that are just naturally engrained into your life. Close friends that, no matter how much time passed between phone calls or visits, always remained your closest friends. Missed opportunities always had this uncanny way of reappearing, an unmistakeable second chance.

All of this can be found within the pages of Finny. It's a coming of age story that emphasizes many moments of Finny's life, weaving in and out of focus, rushing around the corners to spotlight specific turning points of her life.

Weighing in at a little over 350 pages, I found that Kramon managed to get a lot of story into such a small book. At times, perhaps due to the lower page count, there were sections of the story that felt unnecessarily rushed, though it did not take anything away from the overall novel.

As I read the book, which is told in third person omniscient, I often wondered what it would have been like to experience it in the first person - from Finny's point of view. Third person places an outside observer into a story, which can cause some of the human feelings and emotions to become diluted or lost. The narrator of the third person POV is not experiencing the story first hand, rather he is recording what is going on and filtering what he is seeing in order to pass it on to us, the reader.

Would Finny have packed a bigger punch had it been narrated in first person? Would that have turned this into the next best book for me?

Check out Finny's book trailer - which I quite like!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

"It's Not PMS, It's You" Contest Winners!

Congratulations to the 5 contest winners!!

All 5 winners posted on the Goodreads portion of the contest,
and had some wickedly crazy comments to share!

If you didn't win, but are interested in seeing what all the fuss was about, not to fear!
You can order a copy for yourself and let us know what you think!

Double Yippee! I'm in Print, Again!!!

This has been a great week so far! Yesterday I had a portion of my review published in a press release for I Curse the River of Time, and today.....

I'm in the LA Times!!!!
You can find me and my quote on Page 3 of the article!

I was interviewed for this article last October by David Sarno and his partner in crime Alex, and then later photographed for the article. They asked all sorts of questions about The Next Best Book Club on Goodreads, how it started out, how it changed the way I read and experience books.... It was the coolest hour of my life!

Of course, when I read the article, I wondered why, of all the wonderfully brilliant things I had said, they decided on THAT quote! Ha! Hey, what can i say... I'm just tickled pink that I was able to be a part of the whole experience. How many people can say they were quoted in The LA Times???????

Friday, July 16, 2010

Yipee... I'm in Print!

What a wonderful surprise to come home to today!

The fantastic Marisa at GrayWolf Press informed me that they used part of my I Curse the River of Time review to promote Per Petterson's novel.

It appears on their website and on their press release!!!!

Just scroll down to the second quote from the end, and you will find mine!!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

#DearBlogger, It's All About Perception

If there is one thing life has taught me, it is that nothing is black or white.
And that everyone sees things differently.

What might appear as a vase to you may appear as two faces to me.
What comes across as vindictive and hateful to you may come across as honest and helpful to me.

We just have to work harder at seeing things from each others perspective.

Last night I was thrilled to be a part of HarperPerennial's #dearpublisher hashtag discussion on Twitter, where publishers and booksellers were actively listening to what bloggers and authors have to say. Which, of course, eventually spawned off into a sidebar #dearblogger hashtag discussion between bloggers and readers.

For the time that I was logged in and participating, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing what other bloggers had to say - what they found that worked for them, what they discovered that didn't. It was an informative forum where bloggers and readers could speak truthfully to each other, request favors of one another, and talk about what they love most - blogging. Being a relative newbie to the blog scene, I appreciated hearing what people had to say and even met some great bloggers and tweeters in the process! Hooray for social networking!

It came as quite a shock to me when I logged in again tonight, after a stressful day at work, to see so many tweets to #dearblogger complaining of "hateful" and "vindictive" comments that paraded around as "advice". One blogger felt moved enough to post a blog telling people "Don't Hate". I couldn't believe that the twitter forum would have disintegrated so quickly and hatefully while I slept, and proceeded to read her blog to see what all the fuss was about.

Holy Shit! I was quoted by her! And not just once, but twice! And my quotes were labeled as"vindictive" stuff that shouldn't have been said! My jaw hit the floor. I mean, seriously, me? Vindictive? Have you met me? Are you kidding?

The two tweets that she quoted (I suppose I should be happy she didn't tag me or my blog after it? Nothing like a little negative publicity, huh?) were really quite harmless and of course taken out of context.

But people are people and perception is a tricky little thing.

Of the two tweets she quoted, this one bothered me the most because it was meant as encouragement to a fellow tweeter:

"You can review a book that you didn't like and STILL find positive things to say about it. There is an audience 4 every book."

For this tweet, I was replying to a newer blogger who was concerned about posting negative reviews for fear of upsetting people or being the target of retaliation. I simply wanted him to know that even though your overall opinion may be a negative one, there's usually always something you can call attention to positively. I've written my fair share of one and two star reviews, and while it's not fun to criticize someone's hard work, it is necessary to be honest and up front. And there are ways to do it without crushing their spirit. Twitter simply is not the proper outlet to be discussing things like this - it's 140 character limit makes getting ones point across very difficult! So if you will humor me, I will attempt to give my advice here, where word limit is not an issue.

It is easy for me to find praise-worthy things largely because of what I do for a living. I work as a Learning and Development Specialist for a pretty large off price clothing retailer. The backbone to any type of Learning and Development is feedback. Where I work, we create what we call a "Praise Sandwich" - it's a way of giving someone constructive criticism on the things we would like them to change or do better while also calling attention to the things they do well - leaving them feeling whole and productive and full of motivation, rather than crushing their spirit and making them feel useless and pathetic. This way, they walk away knowing exactly what they did that made a positive impact, and it also gives them the opportunity to look at, and consider, the things they have done that may have turned some people off.

Here is an example of a book that I reviewed that I really didn't enjoy at all. However, I found a way to communicate the book's purpose positively while still expressing my feelings on it. The author actually thanked me for the review! Go figure!

Again, this is my job - to find the positive buried within the negative, so it certainly bleeds over into the rest of my life. And it is certainly tied to perception.

What appears as young girls ear to you may appear as an old woman's face to me.
Our perceptions are tied to our personal experiences.

Uhm....... Where was I?
Oh yes.....

It can be hard to decipher someone's intent in a social medium like Twitter. What is meant as friendly and supportive can be misread as sarcastic. What is meant as hurtful can be misread as funny. Written language is left open for interpretation. We understand that. We do. And yet time and time again, we seem to seek for and hunt out ill will. Seek and you shall find, my friends. It's easy to twist words into what we want them to be, or what we think they should be, and it's even easier to hold people to our perception of those words. Isn't it?

Intent vs. Impact plays a huge role in perception. What I meant to say is not always the way it is perceived. How do I overcome that? How do I find the positive? Perhaps we should first ask, do we want to find the positive?

I would really hate to see a good thing get bashed based on someone's perception. Let's challenge ourselves to challenge our perceptions. And to help others work towards challenging theirs.

Some people naturally see the good while others can only see the evil.
What is your perspective.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Happy 50th birthday Atticus, Scout, Jem, and Boo!

Would you believe me if I told you that I was 33 the first time I ever read To Kill a Mockingbird? I don't know how I made it into my thirties without picking it up before.

How has To Kill a Mockingbird affected you?  Share your story on Twitter #TKAM

To Kill a Mockingbird is a quiet southern story about a single father and his two children. It's about growing up. Learning how the world works. Standing up for yourself, and your friends, and your neighbors. It's about believing in what's right, and not following the crowd.

Today is the 50th anniversary of it's release, and Harper Collins would like you to celebrate by tweeting how the novel affected you to #TKAM.

Having read it as late in life as I did, I feel I missed out on the true experience of TKAM. Having heard about it all of my life, there was this sort of untouchable quality to it, this pre-heightened expectation that frightened me.

Finally reading it, I found myself lost in this coming of age story buried in the deep south, where things are not quite as we know them to be now. In one aspect, I found myself getting angry over all the cruel treatment and yet in another, I was enjoying the innocence of youth.

There is this breathless quality Harper Lee infused into her young characters, the life and energy and deviance, that everyone should experience at least once. If you haven't read it, what better time to pick it up and get started? If you have read it, fancy a re-read? Or how about a listen? Harper Collins has a link to an audio version of TKAM - check it out.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

"Sex Dungeon For Sale" Giveaway

Yes. You read that correctly. I said "Sex Dungeon For Sale".

Perhaps I should clarify, just for the record, that I am not giving away an actual sex dungeon. Though, I am sure there are people out there who would kill for the chance to get one of those (...ahem).

Back in February, if you were following me back then, you may recall this book review which I posted about Patrick Wensink's collection of short stories. I was absolutely blown away by his writing. Each story was just a little more bizarre than the last. Killer dishwashers, a company that infects it's customers with the disease their product cures, and .. oh yeah .. the title story - in which a real estate agent employs a creative technique to sell a home that contains a sex dungeon in it's basement.

Patrick and his wife star in this amazing story-put-to-film that you simply have to see to believe.
Take a peek:

In celebration of the short film debut for "Sex Dungeon For Sale",
Patrick and I are thrilled to give away one signed copy of his book !

This is an International contest, and will remain open until July 31st.

In order to be considered for the giveaway:

1 - Create a link to this short film via blog, twitter, goodreads, or facebook. Post a comment here linking us to your link - along with your email address so we can contact you if you win.

2 - If you link the short film to more than one site, please include all the links in one comment on this post.

3 - The winner will be chosen based on the link we think is MOST CREATIVE.

So get those thinking caps on, and help us introduce the world to Patrick Wensink and his book "Sex Dungeon For Sale"! Good luck everyone!

"How To Wear Your Hair" Giveaway

So, by now I hope you have read my review of How To Wear Your Hair by Morgan Grantt, complete with interview and a personal consultation by Morgan herself. I had so much fun working on that post, and now I am very excited to share an opportunity for YOU to have fun with it too!

The Giveaway will run through July 24th

I have 2 hardcover copies to give away to two lucky people in the US/Canada,
2 eBook editions to give away Internationally!

In order to be considered for the contest:

1- Share your best "nightmare" hairstyle by posting it as a comment here, and also by emailing your comment to along with a photo of yourself.

That's it! That's all there is to it! Morgan will be choosing the winners herself, and offering personal consultations along with the copies of her book. Who in their right minds would pass that up???

**The photos will not be used for anything other than personal consultations for the winners, so please do not fear! They will not be used in any sort of advertisement for Morgan or her book. I promise!**

So, let's have it. What was your worst hair cut? And what the heck were you thinking when you got it??

Friday, July 9, 2010

'How to Wear Your Hair' Review, Interview, Consultation, and Giveaway

Read 6/22/10
Pgs:96 (eBook)

The Review

So ladies, if you are anything like me, you have been through hairstyle after hairstyle... trying to find the one that makes you look incredible.

From wearing it long and straight growing up, to permed and teased out in that ever popular early 90's "jersey girl" style in high school, to chin length with a flip entering the workforce, to my current style of long and layered - I find that I am never quite happy with the cut I currently have. Forever searching the internet for celebrity hairstyles that I would die to have, and just about fed up with going to the hairdressers because what I ask for is never what I end up with.

If things have been the same for you, I recommend you take a peek at Morgan Gantt's "How To Wear Your Hair", which made it's premier on June 22nd. Morgan, who has been styling hair since she was in elementary school, made the transition from cosmetology student to touring author in a short 4 years. While styling hair for her clients, she realized that most women don't understand how their face shape affects the styles they are requesting.

After doing some heavy duty research, Morgan put together this quick and easy guide to determining the perfect hair style for your face! Complete with steps on how to measure your face (oh yes! You will stand in front of the mirror, as I did, to find out if you have an oval, long, or pear shaped face), photos of the most flattering styles for your shape, and hair style dont's, Morgan helps you see why your past hair cuts should remain in the past, and gives you the power and confidence to pick the perfect style for that face of yours.

The Interview

Between the book release and media tour, Morgan managed to find the time to answer some questions about her own hairstyle history, the way she works with her clients, and some hair styling suggestions for Yours Truly!

After attending 2 years of college under a Telecommunications degree, what prompted you to change majors and focus on Cosmetology?

Since as early as age four I loved to look at people’s faces and imagine different hairstyles on them. At Ball State I had my own radio show (in David Letterman’s studio), voted president of my Freshman dorm – took me a couple of years to realize that my passion/dream was to become a stylist – and for the past 4 years I couldn’t be happier!!

As little girls, we have all butchered up our doll’s hair in an attempt to make them more beautiful. Other than dolls, on what or who did you practice your first haircuts?

When I was in elementary school my Nanny, Miss Canary let me put pin curls and a relaxer in her hair – and it turned out perfect. Later she allowed me to put a perm in her hair – DISASTER – she looked like a cotton ball!!

My father was another “subject” during my Jr. High School years – bless him for not complaining – it was DRASTICALLY “choppy”!!!

We’ve all experienced haircut nightmares! What was the worst haircut/hairstyle you have ever had?

A toss between heavy blunt “cookie cutter” bangs and the time I had a “80’s shag” that was close to a mullet cut!!! MAJOR influences on me to start a campaign for what I have defined as the “Stamp Out the Bad Hair Day!” forever!!

How do your clients react when you explain why they shouldn’t get the hairstyle they are requesting?

If you read the “About the Author” blurb on the inside flap of my book you’ll see that it didn’t take long after graduating from cosmetology school for me to learn that I realized I OWED an explanation/illustration of why pictures of hairstyles carried in by my clients would not always fit their face shape – thus the creation of a binder which eventually turned into my book How to Wear Your Hair!

Once clients understand the reasoning behind the consult – they are grateful!!

How did you research the information for your book? How long did it take to create “How To Wear Your Hair”, from start to finish?

Every stylist is taught face shapes and the relevance of shapes to symmetrical haircuts – so the basics were learned at cosmetology school. I reviewed more than 15,000 pictures to come up with the right visual mix for the book – FACE SHAPE is the primary consideration to choosing a style, but as stated in the Forward and the last chapter, texture, color, length of neck, etc., etc., etc. are other factors – so the choice of pictures was paramount to the visual effect of the book to the reader. I worked on the book nearly 24 months.

Do you cut and style hair for your family and friends? Do you find it difficult to work on hair for people you know personally?

I have cut everyone’s hair in my immediate family – my mother is the most critical – which is a positive because she has taught me client/customer service skills with the questions she has asked!!

I have gone through multiple different hairstyles, in an effort to find one I like. My style tends to change with the trends of the time. Do you recommend that people stick to one type of cut, or experiment with the new trendy styles to keep things fresh?

It depends on your life style. I have clients who are EXTREMELY conservative and will always wear traditional styles- the majority however, go for the trends – How to Wear Your Hair is the commandments of choosing hairstyles – there are celebrities to watch and magazines to keep up with the trends!!

Just for fun, what hairstyles and hair colors are the trendiest right now? Which celebrity do you think has the best hairstyle to suit their face?

Just depends on the season; i.e. Fall, always warm. Summer, always cool and bright colors. Best Hairstyle to suit their face - Taylor Swift!

My Personal Consultation

I have attached a photo of myself for you to critique. Based on the guidelines within your book, What shape face do I have?

Definitely a pear-shape!

What would you recommend as the perfect style for my face shape?

(You) needs a soft sassy cut that brings fullness at (your) temples! (You don't) need weight around the wide jawlines. (Here is a hairstyle) worn by celebrity Halle Berry that will look fabulous on your beautiful face!

How does my current hairstyle affect my face?

It doesn't flatter (your) beautiful brings more fullness!

According to her book, the shorter the better for a pear faced lady like myself. The pixie cut works well as it draws attention away from the wider jawline and widens the forehead. Center and side parts are no-no's because they emphasize the narrow brow, and longer hair adds weight where I certainly do not want it.

I have had the shorter bob cut before, with a tad more length than the one Hallie is sporting up above. I felt it added more weight to my face than the longer styles, though the hair style itself was a lot of fun. I could flip it out, zig zag the part, curl it under for a sleeker, less trendy look... Very versatile but so much work. For someone who wakes up at 3:30 in the morning to get ready for work, I like the longer cut I currently have simply because it is low maintenance. Ain't that just the way, Ladies? Once you hit your mid (coughcoughthirtiescoughcough), easier just seems better. Sigh. The things we sacrifice, huh!?!

I am very appreciative of Morgan for taking the time to critique my photo and give me an honest and well thought out consultation - complete with celebrity cut recommendation. Who knows, if this weather continues to turn up the heat, this long haired chick might just be knocking on her hair stylists door begging for the big "chop-chop"!

Stay Tuned.
'How To Wear Your Hair'
Book and Personal Consultation Giveaway
coming up........

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I Curse the River of Time

Read 7/4/10 - 7/7/10
5 Stars - Highly Recommended/The Next Best Book

This seems to be a common theme for me lately - reading books I would not normally have read from authors I would not normally choose to read on my own, and absolutely LOVING the hell out them!

And that is a sad thing, isn't it? The thought of having missed out on this novel, of walking by it when it hit the bookstores next month without a flicker of interest had it not been made available to me for review through Graywolf Press, of possibly never having had the experience of reading anything by this author, makes me feel a little sick.

Perhaps I should give you some history first. To explain why I may have passed this book by. Before I commence with all of my gushing and oohing and aahing and all.

There are a few things that contribute to my lack of initial interest in a novel, and they tend to coexist and follow one after the other. (Keep in mind that this is not something I am proud of, necessarily, and am working very hard to overcome.)

1. Usually, the story-line fails to grab my attention. If the books premise doesn't sound like something I can get into, I will usually skip it. For those of you who know me, or follow the books I've read, you will know that I have pretty eclectic tastes when it comes to reading. Basically, if it is Historical Fiction, War Fiction, Romance, or Non Fiction, it gets pushed to the wayside. Everything else is fair game. So it takes a lot for me to drop or refuse a book at this point.

2. If it makes the story-line cut, I move on to the back cover blurb. If I lose interest here, it's because the novel's back cover blurb doesn't sell it's finer points. If I am still a little 'iffy' about, I move on to step 3.

3. Do a test read of the first two pages of the novel. If a book cannot grab my interest in the first two pages, I won't be fully engaged with it. It's bound to be a struggle, and struggling knocks my star rating down to a three, at the very best. There have been numerous novels that I have picked up in the bookstores that have passed the story-line and blurb tests, and failed miserably when I cracked it open to test read.

Now, considering the fact that I had never read anything by Per Petterson , I was familiar with his name. He is best known for his multi-award winning 2005 English release of Out Stealing Horses and I Curse the River of Time was being talked up quite a bit, and expectations were being set awfully high for this pre-release. So I took a peek, and took the plunge.

This one was tricky, though, because it would have normally failed my first two tests.

The buzz surrounding it promotes it as novel that takes place during the fall of Communism in Norway in the late Eighties. Going by the blurb, it sounds like a story that is going to be hard to follow, with lots of subplots and flashbacks. And it seems to guarantee a good cry (I hate good cries, I hide from good cries). The blurb also reinforces my original assumption that it is a war-ish kind of novel, or, at least, a novel that revolves around wartime. The blurb does not do the book justice!!

As for my final test, I couldn't test read since it was an ARC from the publisher, but it came highly recommended by my friends at Graywolf. However, it would have passed the test read with flying colors since the writing is absolutely superb right from the start! Once I did finally crack it open I knew, I just knew, it was love at first sight. Or first read. Or whatever!

Per Petterson has a mesmerizing way with words. He takes this story of Arvid, a thirty six year old man in the middle of a divorce who has just been informed that his mother is dying of cancer, and manages to transform it into this incredibly emotional experience through his stunning prose.

Similar to Cormac McCarthy in delivery and style, Petterson seems to chose each word so carefully, placing them together so perfectly, that the reader is helplessly swept up in the tale. He surrounds you with images and feelings, rather than scenery. The words fall away and leave you encompassed by textures and smells. I Curse the River of Time refuses to be read. It begs to be experienced. It becomes a tactile, sensorial thing. It crawls it's way under your skin and sleeps there, comfortably.

Am I crossing a line? Gushing too much? That cannot be possible. This book deserves all the early praise it's received and then some. It should be read by anyone and everyone who calls themselves a reader. It should be placed on everyone's Must Have lists. It should not be missed.

It will become the book that Per Petterson is best known for.

It has become my 'Next Best Book'!! It is 'Bookwhore Worthy'. Prepare for me to promote the living hell out of this one. It has quickly worked itself up to Jose Saramago, Cormac McCarthy, and Jules Verne status. (Those of you who know me well will understand what an achievement that is.)

Do not judge this book by its blurb. Do not walk past this book in the bookstores when it hits the shelves next month. Do not leave the bookstore without purchasing yourself a copy.

DO - come here once you have read it and share your reaction and impression with me. I cannot wait to hear what you think!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

"It's Not PMS, It's You! " - Book Review and Giveaway

Read 7/4/10
Pgs: 125

It's Not PMS, It's You! is a very quick and humorous read detailing the numerous differences between men and women, why we react the way we do, and how it doesn't always tie in to the fact that we are "on the rag" or "getting our period".

Ladies, if you are anything like me, I know you hate it when men address our every thought or feeling as an irrational effect of "our time of the month". We know that women are naturally emotional beings, seeking other emotional beings in which to confide, vent, and otherwise express our frustrations and joys to. We are not always looking for a solution and are happy to just have some well deserved sympathy!

Men, on the other hand, tend to take the Emotion Expressway in an effort to bypass all the sappy confusion and get straight to the heart of the issue. Emotions be damned, we are going to FIX this thing and move on to more important things - like sports, beer, and sex!

Deb Amlen, in an endearing 'I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar' sort of way, informs her readers to shuck off the money making schemes of relationship self-help books, 1000 ways to get flat abs DVD's, and other society and gender related BS, and realize that there is nothing wrong with US - WE don't have to change a thing! Hold those grudges, eat that chocolate, be the bitch that you must be to get through to your man!!

Ok, I may be taking things a little further than Deb did - haha! She fills her book with cute antidotes, Facebook-like snippets, jokes, and a hilarious peek into a new relationship between two people who just met and totally misunderstand one anothers intentions and feelings.

Covering topics like "Selective Deafness", "Fragile Male Ego (One Upping each other)", and "The F- Word (no, not THAT F-word!)" you are bound to find something you can relate to!

Now To The Contest!!!

And now that I have shared MY two cents on It's Not PMS, It's You! , I want to give YOU an opportunity to share your thoughts!

There are 5 copies up for grabs. How do you manage to land one of these books? The rules are as follows:

1. Contest is open to USA and Canada only (sorry, not my rules!)

2. To enter the contest, compose a short post detailing the craziest thing a romantic partner has ever said to you and leave it as a comment here, or over at TNBBC on goodreads. Entries will be accepted at both sites.

3. You must attach your email address to your entry if you are posting it here on the blog, so that we can contact you if you win. If you have a goodreads account, and post over at TNBBC, we will contact you via PM.

4. Deb Amlen will determine the 5 winners based on the best "craziest things".

5. Contest will close at Midnight on Saturday July 17th. Winners will be announced Sunday July 18th.

While this is a contest, we do hope that the comments you post for your entries spark some men vs women discussions, so feel free to comment on each others posts!!

We will also be tweeting about the contest and the book using the #amlenpms hashtag over on Twitter, so join us there.

Let the crazy comments begin!!!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Almost Dead

Read 6/28/10 - 7/3/10
5 Stars - Highly Recommended/ The Next Best Book

Every once in awhile, a book will find it's way into my hands that takes me completely by surprise. A book that grabs ahold of me and refuses to let go. Had it not been for a little something called work (you know, the place we go to do the things we have to do in order to get those little green papers that allow us to pay our bills?), I would have been done with this novel days ago.... because it was just so darn hard to put down!

It takes place in Tel Aviv - for the most part - and follows the deeply intertwined lives of two young men: Eitan ,a Jewish software salesman known to friends and family as 'The Croc', who miraculously survives multiple suicide bombings and Fahmi, heavily influenced by his older brother, who works along side the Palestinian suicide bombers preparing them to carry out their missions.

This is the third book I have read, back to back, that takes place outside of the United States. This is quite rare for me, and totally unintentional. The reason I make note of this is a slightly embarrassing one: I am geographically and culturally challenged. There. I said it. Phew. And I've been extremely lucky with my most recent reads (Agaat, The Case of the Missing Servant, and this one!).

Usually, reading novels that take place in other countries leaves me slightly confused, feeling disconnected from the characters because I simply cannot relate to or empathize with them.

With Almost Dead, not only did I read a fantastic story of survival and confusion, hatred and forgiveness, but I learned so much about a topic and a culture that I had no previous experience with or knowledge of before and I felt an intimate connection with the two main characters.

Gavron takes his readers into the mind of comatose Fahmi, who we quickly discover can hear and feel everything that is going on around him in the hospital but is unable to open his eyes or respond. This clearly frustrates him, and to escape his helplessness, he withdraws into memories - recalling all the events that led him to his current existence of complete dependance on his nurse and the machines that keep him alive ('one tube for piss, one tube for air').

A reluctant fighter in the war between two misunderstood and proud cultures, Fahmi follows his brothers lead, preparing the way for the suicide bombers - the men who are willing to sacrifice themselves for their beliefs, to take their rightful place beside their God. Though he does not want to give up his own life for the war, Fahmi uses his skills to create the belt bombs that these men will detonate.

Simultaneously, Gavron moves us through the chaotic moments of Eitan's life as he learns of the suicide bombing of Little Bus Number 5 moments after he stepped off of it. Feeling guilty, he tracks down the Shuli - girlfriend of the man who sat next to him on the Little Bus in order to pass on a message. This decision puts The Croc on a journey of crazy coincidences - surviving the sniper shootings on the road to Jerusalem, and another suicide bomber attack at a local coffee shop. Eitan gains celebrity status, joins a therapy group, and pulls off an amateur investigation to find out just what secrets the man on the Little Bus was concealing.

Incredibly paced, the book picks up speed from page one and refuses to slow down. The side by side chapters of Eitan and Fahmi begin to narrow the gaps, pushing through the memories of the past into the present - connecting our two storylines in a perfectly timed finale.

Little by little, Gavron gives the readers enough information to begin connecting the dots on their own. But that does nothing to stop you from wanting to see how it all comes together.

I love books that get me thinking about the events that have taken place in my life - how much of what happens to me is brought about due to the decisions I've made? How much of it was made to happen by someone or something else?

If only I had left the house 5 minutes earlier, or taken the SUV instead of the car, or eaten my breakfast at home instead of taking it in the car with me - would I have missed hitting that deer? If I hadn't quit my old job, and started at the new one on the same day as my husband, would we have met somewhere else, still fallen in love, and gotten married?

If Harper Perennial hadn't sent me an email offering a copy of this book for review, would I have eventually bought it and read it on my own? If I read this book 3 years ago, or 2 year from now, would I have loved it as much as I do now?

Ladies and Gentlemen - meet my Next Best Book. Don't miss this one. It may become your Next Best Book as well!