Friday, February 17, 2012

First Post in the Book Blogger Love-A-Thon

Hey everyone! I know I'm starting just a bit late, but I'm actually on vacation right now and writing this post from a hotel room.

I do want to participate though, and can't wait to share this first post with all of you.

I'm writing this post to tell you all about my friendship with a wonderful woman named Sari. Sari lives hundreds and hundreds of miles away from me, but is one of my closest friends. We've never met face to face, but this woman knows more about me, my wants, needs, fears, and faults, than most of my 'close' friends.

We met through a Yahoo Group (if you don't know what that is, congratulations, this means you didn't spend your teenage years in front a computer) that was centered around-you guessed it Books. In the last couple of years I've not been participating in the group much, but I took away a couple of great friendships from it. Sari was a group member before I was, and we really hit it off. Eventually we would have off topic conversations through private email, and then after an absence on one of our parts (I can't remember who...) we exchanged phone numbers to catch up. Now we talk roughly once a week, sometimes much more, sometimes much less, but always, always coming back to each other.

I feel as if, from a far, I'm a part of her family. I talk to her son often via facebook and sometimes on the phone (when he's home, as now he's off at college). I sent him a graduation card, and he asks about my well being from time to time as well. My boyfriend is always concerned about how Sari is doing, and has been known to ask when I am cranky "Have you talked to Sari lately?"

Sari supports my job, relationship, school (especially school) and is always there for advice when I don't know what I'm doing. She compliments my writing, helps me through tough times, and is always the person I call when I am excited about something new in my life.

Sari also happens to run a blog. She recently switched from Blogger to Wordpress and was sad to see that not many of her followers...followed. She's an excellent writer, and writes about the most interesting topics. Everything from books, to science, history, and current events.

I want to ask all of you who are participating in the Love-A-Thon to stop by and check her out. She's worth it, I promise.

The View From Sari's World

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Why I Read At Work

Over the last couple of years I've realized that I get more reading done while I'm working than anywhere else. There's too much at home to distract me: the television and the endless entertainment given by Netflix, my computer and the wonderful array of blogs about books, and of course Ivan, who can simply be called The Cat Who Hated the Kindle.

At work there are no such distractions, actually there are few distractions at all. I can just open the Kindle, set it next to my desk and in minutes I'm whisked away to whatever world I want. And when the boss walks by, that nifty round button at the bottom of the Kindle quickly turns the screen black.

If you haven't noticed- I'm an exemplary employee.

More recently though I've realized the reason behind my drive to read while reading. Beyond the fact that I would just rather be reading, I also have found that my job actually makes me more than just a little nutty and while I'm there reading helps prolong the eventual (and inevitable) snap in my brain that transforms me from a mildly irritable, foul mouthed, wench to a more than slightly homicidal, disgruntled, testicle munching troll.

Now, don't get me wrong. I understand that I am not alone in my frustrations in my job, but I have an outlet to release these frustrations and I plan on taking complete advantage of it.

I work as a telemarketer. No, I am not the one that calls your house to sell you a credit card as you're sitting down to eat a lovely meal with your family (not that anyone still does that). I work for a decent sized company that publishes some information. Because I want to continue to work there after I publish this post, I will not be including the name of our company or any of our products.

I have been working there for roughly three years, which for the job is a long time I'm referred to as a 'vet' - which simply means that I am too lazy to find a job that doesn't make me want to kill anything that crosses my path, including adorable small dogs and all of my coworkers.

When I started this job I was a telemarketer in the truest sense of the word. I made cold calls to people and did my best to make them believe I had a product that the just couldn't do their job without, even though they had been for the last 15 years.

After about two years I got promoted. The new job was easier, made me more money, and meant that all-in-all I had to do less work. Less frustration right? Wrong. Now the list of people I dream of slaying as I lay my head down next to my bat-shit-crazy cat includes 98% of our customers.

See-now I call those customers who were lucky enough to have purchased our products. My job? Ask them if they want to do it again.

In my experience the longer a customer has been with us, the lower the IQ.

Here are just a few examples of what my team deals with on a day to day basis. And because I love them, and Mike is away, all of our products will be represented by sex toys.

Example 1: 2 Year Customer

ME: hi there Susan, my name is Sharyla from Sex Toys R Us
SUSAN: Yes!?!? What do youuuu want?!?
ME: Well Susan, you've been receiving our fuzzy handcuffs twice a month for the last 2 years and-
SUSAN: Oh no I have not!
ME: Uh...yes you have.
SUSAN: Most certainly not.
ME: Are you sure? They are silver with red and white fuzz all over them.
SUSAN: I'm positive I do not receive those, I swear on my dogs life!
ME: paid 300 dollars a year to receive our fuzzy handcuffs of awesome....soo...ummm..
SUSAN: *heavy sigh* Well...let me look.
                             ~sounds of handcuffs rustling on her desk~
SUSAN: ALL I have are sets of these handcuff things.
ME: Are they silver?
ME: Do they have fuzz?
ME: Is that fuzz by any chance red and white?
ME: yeah...that'd be what I'm talking about. You've been getting those twice a month for 2 yea-
SUSAN: OH YEAH!! For like 2 years!!! I LOVE THESE they make my life AWESOME!!

Example 2: 4 Year Customer
ME: Hello there John, this is Sharyla from Sex Toys R Us, you've been receiving our neon green butt plug for the last 4 years....
JOHN: Yes.
ME: Okay, well we were calling to let you know your subscription is up and to ask if it's been helpful
JOHN: I don't know.
ME: You don't know? You've been receiving that neon green butt plug 2 times a month for 4 years...
JOHN: Yeah...but I haven't used the last 2 I received so I don't know.
ME: Right....uh...were the previous 90 helpful?
JOHN: OH YEAH!!! They really rocked my world!
ME: ::sigh of relief:: Oh good, I'm glad John. Do you want to renew your subscription?
JOHN: No, I don't think so...I never did use the last 2...
ME: LOVED them. 90 of them!
JOHN: I just don't know if they are useful.....
Example 3: (this includes my coworker, who we will all call Samita) 3 Year Customer:
SAMITA: Hi Jenny, this is Samita from Sex Toys R Us. You've been receiving our Naughty girls Do Tahoe Adult DVD's for the last 3 Years...
JENNY: WELL! I was and I paid for it last year but then you just quit sending them! Since you didn't send them, I don't want to renew!
JENNY: Um, NO. We moved 6 months ago!
SAMITA: Did you call our customer service department and let them know of the address change?
SAMITA: Right...well that'd be why you haven't been getting your porn. Do you want to renew?
JENNY: No. You're company quit sending them to me, and even though I love them and can't live without them, I don't want to continue to do business with you because you are not psychic and didn't change the address.
But my friends, what is worse than our customers, their secretaries. Now, don't get me wrong, they're doing the job they are meant to do, but so are we. We are naturally at odds, like the lion and the wildebeest, oil and water, or Wal-Mart shoppers and clothing.
It is IMPORTANT to know, so you don't hate me, that I am SUPER nice to all administrative assistants OUTSIDE of my work. But while I'm sitting in front of that computer 6-8 hours a day, I want them all to just...die.

Here are some sweet examples of the lovely wench-faces ladies, and sometimes men on the other end of my line:

Example 1:
ME: Hi! Is Ray Jenkin's in?
SEC: No, he no longer works here
ME: Oh, I'm sorry. Who took over his position?
SEC: I'll transfer
                       As our fearless leader always says THIS WILL NEVER BE THEIR NAME

Example 2:
ME: Hi! Is Stewart Stankerpants in?
SEC: May I ask who's calling?
ME: Sharyla, from Sex Toys R Us.
SEC: Okay, please hold
                         one minute later
SEC: What was your name again?
ME: Sharyla
SEC: From?
ME: Sex Toys R Us
SEC: Okay
                       two minutes later
SEC: What company are you from?
ME: *very slowly* Sex...Toys...R...Us
SEC: Can you hold?
ME: Yes...............
                      one minute later
SEC: And how do you spell your name?
SEC: Okay
                     transfers to voice mail

Example 3: 2 Year Customer
(Again with Samita, but this is MY personal favorite)
SAMITA: HI- is Mike Jones available?
SEC: Can I ask who is calling?
SAMITA: Samita, from Sex Toys R Us
SEC: He doesn't take these kinds of calls.
SAMITA: I'm calling regarding his current account ma'am
SEC: I'll transfer you to voice mail
SAMITA: Ma'am, if he is busy I can just try back. I can't leave a message because I work off a direct dial line.
SEC: Well I'll just keep transferring you to voice mail
SAMITA: Ma'am I NEED to speak with him.
SEC: Why?
SAMITA: Because he has a PAID account with us.
SEC: No he doesn't.
SAMITA: Um...yes ma'am, he does.
SEC: What for then?
SAMITA: He's received the Blow Up Sheep & Lube Kit twice a month for the last 2 years.
SEC: *laughs* Oh, well I've been throwing that away EVERYtime it comes.
SAMITA: Well...I hope not, because he's paid $300 dollars a year for it for the last two years.
SEC: Ohhhhhh he has has he??
SAMITA: Yes...yes he has.
SEC: ......oh.....well...I''ll just have to talk with him about that.
SAMITA: Yeah...I'll just try back another time.

And this my dear readers, this is why I read at work. Sometimes it's the only thing that keeps me from screaming into the phone:

So I want to thank the authors out there who can take me to other worlds, where the kickass heroine can defend herself with a big shiny sharp sword, or the hero is a 6'5" monster of AWESOME full of sexual tension and just the right amount of emotional deficiencies.

I want to thank the bloggers who help me find awesome books, by posting rockin' reviews, and coming over here to our blog to tell us how awesome our reviews are.

And just so that everyone knows. I must be a sadist because I love my job.

Feature and Follow! (A Day Late & A Dollar Short)

Good Saturday Morning Everyone! With the start of classes and a slight change in the work schedule, I've not been giving the blog quite the amount of attention I wanted to last week, but here I am, trying to get caught up. As most bloggers out there Parajunkee hosts the Feature & Follow blog hop every Friday. I'm just winging it and posting on a Saturday. Hope ye'all don't mind.

This week the featured blog was Progress & Procrastination. I believe the blogger is new to the world of book blogging, so extra support is always fun to give. As long as we can keep others addicted to our world, we'll never run out of books to read!

The question that Parajunkee asks this week:
Define characteristics your favorite blogs share

This is a hard question to answer since I try to read so many genres and so many authors. I guess what most of my favorite books share is great secondary characters. I love me some supporting actors. In my favorite fantasy books by David Eddings, there are many awesome things about the main characters, but the secondary ones really pull the book together. Even in the romances I read, I love that cute little kid that brings the lovers together a little more, or even the talking cat that just cracks you up. To me, a secondary character can save a book. I've read some novels where I hated the hero but just kept on plugging through because I was falling madly in love with his best friend.

Yes, secondary characters. They my friends are where it's at.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Blogger Love-A-Thon!

This year Kate of Kate's Tales of Books and Bands has started a A-thon.

The idea of this particular A-thon is pretty great. It's about showing those blogs that you love, the love you feel!

So instead of spending 24 hours reading our hearts out, we'll be spending that time pouring them out to those blogs that have inspired us, made us laugh, and maybe even made us cry. As soon as I saw the sign up post for this I could think of at least 5 blogs off the top of my head that could use some appreciation. Some of my friends put a lot of hard work into what they spend their free time doing, and get very little in return. And some get a lot in return, and instead of thinking how awesome they are, they just want to share it with everyone else! I think these friends could use some love, and I'm ready to spend as much time as I have to give it to them!

So- feel free to click on the pretty image below, and sign up! I look forward to all of the awesomeness that will flow and hope this becomes a yearly tradition!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Retail Therapy!

After an extremely frustrating and tragic week I spent an amazing Saturday with Kaylee indulging in some retail therapy. I was mostly careful to be sure that I wasn't blowing all of our bill money, and made super sure to watch out for B1G1 deals, and lots of 50% deals as well. All in all I really didn't spend much, but came home with lots of loot.

Kaylee and I discussed the fact that since we've both purchased Kindle's in the last year, we tend to stay away from buying print books. I personally try to make sure that I'm spending the least amount of money on the books I'm buying as possible, and the Kindle is just another way to do that. Sometimes, you can find the book you're looking for in print MUCH cheaper than you can in Kindle format. Ollie's, the store of bargain awesomeness, is one of the places you can get a better price. A MUCH better price. Of the books I'm listing below, none were more than 7.00, and they are ALL paperback. Not bad my friends, not bad at all.

After the Moment by Garret Freymann-Weyr

Amazon Price (hardcover): 14.74
Kindle Price: 5.39
Ollies Price (hardcover): 3.99

Inside flap description: Maia Morland is pretty, only not pretty-pretty. She's smart. She's brave. She's also a self-proclaimed train wreck.

Leigh Hunter is smart, popular, and extremely polite. he's also completely and forever in love with Maia Morland.

Their young love starts off like a romance novel--full of hope, strength, and passion. But life is not a romance novel and theirs will never become a true romance. For when maia needs him most, Leigh betrays both her trust and her love.

Told with compassion and true understanding, After the moment is about what happens when a young man discovers that sometimes love fails us, and that, quite often, we fail love.

Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Amazon Price (hardcover): 6.40 (and there are only 6 left in stock)
Kindle Price: 7.19
Ollie's Price (hardcover): 3.99

Inside flap description: With her parents lost to assassins, Princess Ben ends up under the thumb of the conniving Queen Sophia. Starved and miserable, locked in the castle's highest tower, Ben stumbles upon a mysterious enchanted room. So beings her secret eduction in the magical arts: mastering an obstinate flying broomstick, furtively emptying the castle pantries, setting her hair on fire...But Ben's private adventures are soon overwhelmed by a mortal threat to her Kingdom. Can ben save the country and herself from foul tyranny?

Wither by Lauren DeSteffano

Amazon Price (hardcover): 11.61
Kindle Price: 9.99
Ollie's Price (hardcover): 3.99

Inside Flap Description:

Thanks to modern science, every newborn has become a ticking genetic time bomb--males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and the tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape--to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant she is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

Stonewall Jackson: A Life Portrait by K.M. Kostyal

Amazon Price (hardcover): 29.95
Kindle Price: Not available
Ollie's price: 6.99

Inside Flap Description:

A Civil War legend and Gen. Robert E. Lee's right-hand man, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson emerged from the wilds of western Virginia to become one of history's most memorable military commanders. Eccentric in his habits, devout in his actions, and "mangy" in appearance, Jackson's inspiration came from God rather than from the "rightness" of Southern beliefs. Stonewall Jackson: A Life Portrait, the first illustrated biography of the celebrated and complex Confederate general, follows Jackson from his childhood in the backwoods frontier to his untimely death following a "friendly fire" incident at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

Complete with a striking collection of stark black-and-white and full color images of Jackson, his family, and his fellow commanders on both sides of the battle lines, Stonewall Jackson uncovers the deeds behind the legends. Devotion to duty and an innate tactical genius propelled Stonewall into war; love and family and deep religious convictions sustained him. A brave soldier, and exacting officer, and a cunning commander on the one hand, this fascinating figure filled the roles of devoted brother, loving husband, and doting father on the other.

Author K.M. Kostyal's painstakingly researched account of the general's life delves into all facets of Stonewall's experiences, taking you through his days as a young orphan and his difficult years as a struggling cadet at West Point. There he encountered such prominent classmates as George McClellan, A.P. Hill, and George Pickett. This copiously illustrated volume also travels south to witness Jackson's exploits in the Mexican War, including his daring charge at Chapultepec, and returns stateside, where during peacetime he resigned his commission, married, and served at the Virginia Military Institute as a strict artillery instructor.

Finally, Stonewall Jackson rides into battle as the Civil War splits the country and divides family loyalties, including Jackson's own relationship with his beloved sister, Laura, a loyal Unionist. It ranges over the Shenandoah Valley as Stonewall's remarkable tactical maneuvers baffle Union commanders, chokes through the smoke and dust of the battlefields from Bull Run to Fredericksburg as he leads his men to defend the south, and mourns at Chancellorsville when Confederate soldiers accidentally open fire on him.

In addition, revealing sidebars illuminate background information from Jackson's life and times, including West Points notable class of 1846, stonewall pilgrimage sites, Confederate spy Belle Boyd, and Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. with a treasure trove of vivid images, a store of telling personal detail, and a rich overview of Jackson's military career, Stonewall Jackson: A Life Portrait brings to life one of the Civil War's most illustrious and unlikely generals.

Lincoln: Through the Lens by Martin W. Sandler

Amazon Price (hardcover): 15.59 And there are only 4 left
Kindle Price: Not Available
Ollie's Price (hardcover): 4.99

Inside Flap Description:

He was born in the backwoods of Kentucky in a humble log cabin, but Abraham Lincoln was savvy enough to embrace the new technology of his time--photography-- to help propel him all the way to the White House. This simple man with lofty goals was willing to use any means necessary, including the power of photography, to save the union and free the slaves--leaving behind an unmatched legacy of sacrifice, service, and achievement.

More than one hundred images of Lincoln's life and times provide a complete portrait of this revered president and the events that defined him. From the only confirmed existing picture of Lincoln before the historic Gettysburg Address to his second inauguration--where he is unknowingly surrounded by John Wilkes Booth and his co conspirators-- to the execution of his murderers, this eye-opening, inspiring visual journey provides a fresh take on one of the most documented and beloved figures in American history.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

We Just Feel Like Having a Giveaway

We've been adding more posts to the blog as of late, answering more review requests, and getting a few more comments. In appreciation for the lovely things you've all been saying, and so that we can share our thoughts with even more of you, we've decided to hold a little giveaway.

The prize: a $15 dollar gift card to either OR Barnes & Noble. (as we understand that some have preferences, as do we)

The Time Frame: From the 29th of January to the 6th of February, so that's about 7 days, since I'm posting this in the late evening.

There are quite a few ways to enter, so have fun! (and pass the word around :D)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

THE GOD DELUSION by Richard Dawkins
A brief rant by Shawn Witherite

With the sounds of Tom Waits echoing out of my less than spectacular laptop speakers, I had spent a bit of time just wondering what book I should review for this little spot on the internet. Lighting my fifth or possibly eighth cigarette of the hour while taking a sip from my last cup out of a pot of coffee, I realized my tragically "hip" situation has given birth to the answer! THE GOD DELUSION! It's the book that every faithless youth totes around as a sign of intellect. Well I'm sorry to say they're probably idiots.

You see I picked this book up a few years ago at a Waldens, which is book store; a concept I will probably explain to my children, just like CD's and vocal conversation. I was a young agnostic at the time, taking in all sides when coming to faith as I didn't have an answer, or rather opinion, for myself. Born into a lukewarm Methodist family, I dabbled in Buddhism because karma made some sense, and I spent a week as a Wiccan due to the fact goth chics are fuckin' hot. Needless to say, I didn't have much in the way of solid ground when it came to religion. I had recognized Dawkins name based on his coining of the term "meme", an intriguing theory that is used heavily in the video game franchise Metal Gear Solid.

Of course at the time, "meme" had a stronger meaning to me and my own personal studies to keep my mind occupied before I enrolled in college. Times change. Now when someone says "meme", I think of a rabbit with a pancake on its head. Thanks internet. Looking back on the purchase, I was honestly better off buying a shitty cat for that price then spend my days trying to catch it making a stupid face for Photoshopping. It would've been more enlightening time management than Dawkins drivel.

The man is smart, we have to give him that. And his writing and points are well written through out but he some how manages to be wrong while being right... As opposed to softcore porn model Nikki Simms, who can be right while being oh so wrong.

Every end of the spectrum has dangers, and Dawkins with his little book can represent such for the side of "logic". There are points in his arguments where he rallies for lack of respect towards his religious oppositions and this part has always stuck with me. I know a lot of folks in my generation that would take this notion as a call to arms, and it's this kind of haphazard notion that draws so many atheist into the spotlight as being dick bags. Mostly because so many of us non-believers let people like Dawkins be our voice.

His reasoning is because the religious right gives no respect to atheist/agnostics in return, and that's fuck all nonsense. Richard spends a lot of time attacking some kind of in your face mass religion I've never really encountered. You haven't either. He has a tendency through out the book to make things seem more aggressive than they really are just so he can say that it's wrong.

The brunt of the book maintains focus on creationism and its more sophisticated cousin, evolution. A subject that has torn public schools apart for decades by parents who have more opinions than they do hours at work, apparently. A biologist, Dawkins makes the same tried and tested observations we've all heard for the side against an intelligent designer. If you learn something from his time on the subject, then cool. Or you could just watch the Discovery Channel... Chances are it'll look awesome and be narrated by that guy from the Ford commercials.

I am no longer agnostic, but rather just a really understanding atheist. An atheist who knows that more often than not I will find a really understanding individual of faith. Be it Christian, Muslim, Jew or Jedi... It turns out that our belief construct seldom interfere with our day to day lives. Rather they pop up at quiet times in the bar when some fuck wants to start up late night theology over shots of Crown Royal. Dawkins points out that an atheist can be morally sound without a personal God, and he's correct. Of course he's correct. Right and wrong exist whether or not God does.

This was subsequently the last book I bought on the subject. Thanks internet. If you are sound in your beliefs then I suggest spending your time else where with your reading. The faithful will just get pissed and the faithless will just become as delusional as those the book argues against. Those in the middle? Well, once you accept neither side will give you a true answer you'll realize that it's all about what leaves you in peace when going to bed at night. Also, I never did enroll in college. I opted for taking the money I saved for use on copious amounts of drugs and somewhere along the line I came out of the haze as an atheist who manages to hate other atheists. Magical summer. Shitty book.