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Friday Fun! (In Which I Walk Across All of Boston and Blog Tour Updates)

Hello my lovely readers!

Another busy week at work this week (as it will be until the end of September, so be prepared to hear that sentence repeatedly).  I finally got my booty outdoors this week, though, and I have the tan-lines to prove it!

On Sunday, I went for a long (accompanied) walk along the Charles River. It was completely gorgeous, but I did manage to get a bit of a burn.  According to my dad, I do this every year and always along the Charles. Oops? Maybe next year I’ll finally remember to put on sunblock….

On Tuesday (my work-week Monday), I was meeting up with someone in the North End for gelatto, which I totally did not end up eating, but anyway. I decided that since he couldn’t make it there until 7 at the earliest and I had a couple of hours to kill, I would walk it. Bad. Idea.

My work is on the south side of Boston, so I basically walked across the entire city. In flat pretty sandals. And now I have the shin splints to prove it.  Again, oops?  You may have noticed that I don’t always manage to think my plans all the way through. On the plus side, I got to see the Public Gardens and got a sandwich from the Clover food truck in Boston Common. On the minus side, my shins were too sore for zumba on Wednesday.

I know, I know. #firstworldproblems

Anyway, after all that walking, instead of gelatto I had a glass of sangria, because that is obviously infinitely better. 😀

Also, the best street for gelatto in the North End is Hanover Street, not Salem Street. Just fyi.

Anyway, so that was my super-exciting week!  Now on to the weekly Waiting For Daybreak blog tour updates!

It was a much busier week this week, which was of course exciting!

Wickedly Bookish interviewed me. Check that out to find out my self-publishing advice!

Wickedly Bookish also hosted a giveaway that is still open.  If you have yet to win a copy, definitely consider entering.

Ellie Hall posted a review (that is also cross-posted to 1889 Labs) where she says, “The story flies by and it is thoroughly engrossing, with periods of action and adrenaline nicely balanced by periods of memory and self-reflection. The sense of danger and suspense is well developed, and the narrator’s doubts and fears are easily understood.”

The Book Hoard‘s review says, “If anyone had told me that I’d enjoy a zombie apocalypse a year ago, I’d have told them they were nuts.  However, I have come to enjoy a few zombie apocalypse stories like Waiting For Daybreak.”

The Book Hoard is also hosting a giveaway that is still open. That’s two! Two chances to win a copy! Ah-ha-ha.

Last but not least, Persephone’s Winged Reviews posted a review stating, “At the end of the day, it’s much more about Frieda trying to find out what normal means in a world gone wrong instead of a zombie book. I believe that it is a fresh take on zombies in the fiction genre.”

Thanks once again to every single participating book blogger! I truly appreciate you giving me (and my writing) time and space on your blogs.

To all my loyal blog readers, happy weekends! *waves*

Book Review: Across the Table / Dancing on Sunday Afternoons by Linda Cardillo (Bottom of TBR Pile Challenge)

Image of a restaurant.Summary:
This book actually consists of two different books packaged together into one. They are both standalones, not in a series together.

Across the Table
Follow three generations of an Italian-American Boston family, starting with Rose, who marries a navy seaman right before WWII breaks out.  The family ultimately buys a restaurant on Salem Street in the historic North End, and food and the family business both help keep the family together through trials and heart-aches.

Dancing on Sunday Afternoons
Cara goes to care for her grandmother, Giulia, who has fallen and broken her hip on a visit back to the old country of Italy.  While visiting her, Giulia reveals to her the story of her first love who died when Cara’s father was just a baby.

Review:
This book made it onto my tbr pile because I found it on trash day on top of a neighbor’s recycling pile.  It was one of those cases where obviously someone had given up actually packing for their move and was just chucking it all.  The book was in pristine condition, so I yoinked it away (along with two others).  Shocker: when I opened this to read it, I discovered that it’s signed by the author.  I also didn’t realize until I started reading it that there’s actually two totally separate books in it.  The cover only says the first title and mentions a bonus book in rather small type.  So this one was full of surprises!

Across the Table
This story is based on the author’s family history, and you can honestly tell. It’s full of so much heart and reality.  It’s not your typical romance or women’s fiction. The family felt entirely real, and you could understand why they made the choices they did, even if you wouldn’t have done the same thing.  I found Rose by far to be the most interesting, but that’s not really a surprise. I’ve always had a thing for the 1940s, and her life in that decade was simultaneously unique and typical.  She spent a couple of years before the war on a tropical island (whose name I cannot remember, I apologize) with her husband.  It all felt very South Pacific, but she states that spending this time there gave her and her husband a solid base for the rest of their lives together. They had to really depend on each other.  She also said that living there made her question the racism she was raised in and ultimately stop her racist thoughts and actions.  They were never extreme, just that avoidance of people visibly different from you that you sometimes see.  I also loved that the story is based to solidly in Boston. Cardillo obviously grew up here or visited family a lot here, since she understands simple things like how it takes an hour at least to get from the North End to Cambridge, or how different one side of the river is from the other.  The family business and food aspects were also perfectly handled. Just enough to set the atmosphere but not so heavy-handed you wonder if the author forgot about the relationships at the heart of the story.  There’s also a nice touch of an uncle/brother/son who is gay, and his Catholic family’s reaction to this is a positive, refreshing change.  Perhaps even more so since the reader knows the story is based on a real family.  Overall, I absolutely loved this book. It had everything I like in both historic and women’s fiction.
5 out of 5 stars

Dancing on Sunday Afternoons
In contrast, this book was far more tedious and full of cliches and….well basically everything that I don’t like about historic and women’s fiction. Giulia’s immigration story and her family are not particularly easy to empathize with.  Her family is incredibly wealthy in Italy, and everyone worries more about appearances than about actually doing the right thing.  Even Giulia’s rebellion of marrying the man she wants to marry isn’t all that admirable. She only does it ultimately with the family’s blessing, and her reaction when her husband dies is appalling. (This is not a spoiler. You learn in the first chapter that Giulia’s first husband died).  I know that old families really could be like this, but I guess it made less sense being told this way since Giulia was telling the story to her modern granddaughter. I didn’t see any wisdom of age coming through in the telling. I know when my older family members tell me something from their youth, they also discuss what they learned from it. They try to impart some wisdom on me so I don’t make similar mistakes or so that I’m willing to take similar risks.  Giulia’s story just doesn’t feel like an elderly person relating to a young family member. I suppose if you really love historic, clean romance novels, you might enjoy this one more than I did. Personally I need this genre to have something extra to really grab me.
3 out of 5 stars

Overall, then, I must average the two books out.  I loved the first, but felt that I was not the target audience for the second.  It is worth noting that the second was actually Cardillo’s first novel, so her second book was a big improvement.  I’ll be keeping my eye on this author, particularly for more work set in Boston.  As far as recommendations go, I recommend these books to fans of historic fiction with a focus on romance and women’s personal lives.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: recycling bin

Buy It

Friday Fun! (On Tuesday!)

February 16, 2010 4 comments

I realized that I missed Friday Fun last week, and given that my current read is pretty long and a lack of movie watching, I haven’t posted since Thursday. My bad!

I took last Friday off of work and had Monday off for President’s Day.  Yay being a non-essential employee of a hospital!  I spent Friday running errands, shopping, and cooking.  I discovered a Stop n Shop that is closer to my apartment than the Shaws I had been frequenting, and let me tell you, their prices are insanely low!  Plus they have more vegetarian options than Shaws does.  I’m a total convert.

Also this weekend, I paid my first visit to the Apple Store’s Genius Bar.  It wasn’t for me; it was for someone else’s iPhone.  I haven’t dared to bring in my baby, erm, MacBook, even though it does this freaky thing where it restarts if I close it.  It took observing someone else using the Genius Bar for me to realize that they are totally awesome!  They’re like librarians’ nerdy twins, and you guys should totally make appointments to use them.  It was some of the best customer service I’ve ever seen.  Just be sure to make your appointment online before you go, or you’ll wind up waiting a while.

Hope you guys enjoy your evenings.  Don’t forget there’s a new episode of Lost tonight and a new Wolf Bite Wednesday tomorrow!

Friday Fun! (Unathletic Me)

January 29, 2010 6 comments

I have always wanted to be athletic.  The version of me that tends to populate fantasy land is essentially the female version of 007.  This is so not realistic though, and I’m not just saying that I can’t do backflips.  My lack of athleticism is so strong that one of my most frequent memories of schoolyard sports is getting hit in the face by basketballs.  This pretty much happened any time I was anywhere near a basketball court.  I didn’t even have to be playing.  I also have asthma and have this tendency to have to stop running to wheeze.  God help me if there’s ever a zombie uprising.

In spite of all this, I still, inexplicably, delude myself into thinking that this time it will be different and sublimely attempt various athletic to semi-athletic endeavor.  Last weekend this endeavor was ice skating.  I remembered ice skating when I was a kid on the beaver ponds near our house.  I was definitely good at it.  I’d play hockey with my brother and his friends.  Why did it take me so long to remember my awesomeness? I wondered.  I discovered a free skating rink in the North End with $5 skate rentals.  I asked a friend to meet me there, and it was on like Donkey Kong.

I got the skates in the biggest size they had, because I have inexplicably large feet for my short stature.  I laced myself up and fought my way through the 2 foot tall terrors to get onto the ice.  I stepped on and almost fell flat on my face.  Hmm, this is not the me on ice that I remember.  I desperately grabbed for the wall and glared at the children flying around using stacked up plastic crates to keep from falling down.  That is so cheating, and no wonder kids are growing up to be such wimps these days, but I digress.  Whilst holding onto the wall and taking tentative skating steps, I realized there was growing pain in my feet.  The skates were way way too narrow.  I also suddenly remembered that I used hockey skates, not figure skates growing up which explained why I couldn’t seem to handle the ice.  You use movements more like roller blading for hockey skates, whereas figure skates are more like roller skates.  I am not a roller skating girl.  I got halfway around the rink, thinking my feet would go numb or something, but they suddenly were in excruciating agony, and I am not exaggerating.  Realizing that I would probably be that woman crying on the rink if I didn’t get off the ice asap, I changed my course and headed down the middle of the rink, abandoning the wall and hoping I wouldn’t land on my ass.  I managed to make it to the door safe and sound and hastily ripped off the skates.  Every step I took still hurt.  It turns out I somehow pulled most of the muscles and tendons on top of my right foot, and I’ve been limping most of the week.

I’d say in the future I won’t attempt athletic things again, but I know myself.  I can just see me taking skiing lessons at some point in the near future.  I’m bound to tell myself If you can snowshoe, you can totally ski, Amanda.  I guess it’s just lucky for me that I don’t live in a climate with more dangerous recreational sports.

Happy weekend everyone!