September Photo a Day Challenge

>> Friday, August 31, 2012

Tomorrow is September 1st so I'm doing my monthly reminder and recruitment post about rhe Photo a Day Challenge hosted by Chantelle at Fat Mum Slim. I started this daily photo challenge back in the middle of March and today will be my 167th  day of participating. Over the past few months I've been happy to see many of my online and face to face friends join me in the fun. I'd like to encourage you to give it a try if you haven't. It really is a lot of fun and even more fun when people you know are also participating,

Every month Chantelle posts a list of subjects or prompts for each day of the month. Chantelle's post about this month's list includes some extra explanation and ideas just in case any of the prompts have you stumped.

This is the list for September and Chantelle's instructions:

click image to view larger version

First up, you’ll notice the hashtag has completely changed. From now on it will just be #FMSphotoaday. I did this so it was easier to remember for everyone, and that we can see the photos from our little {or big!} community. So each month use the same hashtag. There will be a new list each month, just like there always has.

If you’re new around these parts {welcome!} let me share how to play. First up grab a camera or a smart phone. Save the list to your phone, or your computer, or save it to a Facebook album, your blog or Instagram. You’re more than welcome to share it. Then when September rolls around starting taking a photo each day. For instance for the 1st of September you’ll take a photo of you now. So it could be a self-portrait photo on the day, or take a photo of a photo. Then upload it to whichever platform you want to share it on; perhaps that’s Facebook, or Instgram, or Twitter or your blog {or Pinterest, Flickr, Tumblr etc}. If sharing to Instagram or Twitter, add the hashtag #FMSphotoaday.

One of the best bits of photo a day is checking out everyone else’s photos. You can find them on Instagram or Twitter by searching the hashtag #FMSphotoaday. Or check out my Facebook page where loads of people share theirs {share yours too!}: Fat Mum Slim Facebook page.

I have always opted to participate in this challenge using only photos from my phone. Between Instagram and a few other photo applications I have lots of options for editing photos on my phone. It's fun for me to see what I can do using just my phone and apps.

If you’d like to check out my previous photos they’re on my Tumblr blog at at Whimpulsiveness

I'm also now using ShutterCal too. You can see all 167 of my Photo A Day photos in a calendar format.

The most important thing to remember about this is the flexibility. For me, using only photos from my phone makes it low pressure so I don't feel like I ahve to have a perfect shot. That helps me to just relax and have fun with it.

I have created a Google Calendar for those who would like to have the daily prompts in their google calendar. Here is a link to the Instructions for subscribing to that.

If you've been participating I hope you'll continue. Please let me know where you are sharing your photos so that I can find them.

Here are a few of my favorites from the August Photo a Day Challenge. Click on the individual photos if you want to see a larger version.

One
August 2nd - One
Somewhere you sat
August 4th - Somewhere you sat
Glasses
August 8th - Glasses
Spoon
August 12th - Spoon
Faces
August 17th - Faces
Tap
August 17th - Tap

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The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime that Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars by Paul Collins

>> Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime that Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars by Paul Collins

The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime that Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars by Paul Collins

Genre: Non-Fiction
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 270
Source: Library

The Short Version:
It’s part true-crime and part history of the ongoing battles between Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst in 1890’s New York

Why I Read It:
The author is a local college professor and when the review in the local paper caught my eye I did a little more checking and decided to read it.

The Book:
From the publisher:

On Long Island, a farmer finds a duck pond turned red with blood. On the Lower East Side, two boys playing at a pier discover a floating human torso wrapped tightly in oil cloth. Blueberry pickers near Harlem stumble upon neatly severed limbs in an overgrown ditch. Clues to a horrifying crime are turning up all over New York, but the police are baffled: There are no witnesses, no motives, no suspects.

The grisly finds that began on the afternoon of June 26, 1897, plunged detectives headlong into the era's most baffling murder mystery. Seized upon by battling media moguls Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, the case became a publicity circus. Reenactments of the murder were staged in Times Square, armed reporters lurked in the streets of Hell's Kitchen in pursuit of suspects, and an unlikely trio-a hard-luck cop, a cub reporter, and an eccentric professor-all raced to solve the crime.

My Thoughts:
I enjoyed this book. The true-crime part about the murder, the investigation and the trials could not be separated from the story of the leading newspapers of the time.

A headless torso and later other parts of a body are found in several locations. The police are desperate for clues and the identity of the deceased. The leading newspapers in New York see a story that will sell papers. The competition between the police, and the staff of Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal make for a three ring circus of chasing leads.

The book intertwines the investigation of the murder by both the police and the newspapers. I found both sides of the story interesting. I think the newspaper wars interested my inner Citizen Kane fan and the murder investigation and prosecution fed my mystery loving side.

All in all it’s an interesting story but because it’s pretty complex and involves a lot of people it can be a bit difficult to track along the way. As far as narrative non-fiction goes it’s good but not excellent. I liked it well enough but had no trouble putting it down when interrupted.

I enjoyed the historical time period and the story about what might be he beginnings of tabloid journalism. What really struck me is that the current trend of entertainment being more important than actual news is really not a recent development at all.

In the words of William Randolph Hearst:
“The public,” he reminded his staff, “likes entertainment better than it likes information.”

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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Wordless Wednesday #150

>> Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Skylight
Multnomah County Library Central Branch
Portland, Oregon


Click on photo to view full size

For more Wordless Wednesday, click here

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Confessions of a Serial Reader – The Ones I Targeted for 2012 A Status Report

>> Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Confessions of a Serial Reader

In 2011 I picked a few of my current series and put them on my priority list. This was an effective strategy for me. I managed to catch up with the current release in several of my ongoing series. So in December I picked a few of my current series to target for catching up in 2012

I decided to see how I was doing with that and see if there’s any hope of meeting those goals I set in December.

Well it turns out to be a mixed bag. Here’s what I said I hoped to catch up on in 2012 and how I’m doing with each.

Note: Images and links are to the first book in and not my next read in each of these series.

Mark Billingham's Inspector Tom Thorne series
Sleepyhead by Mark Billingham
This is one I just started in 2011, have thoroughly enjoyed. I read six of them since last November. I've only got three to read to catch up with what I can currently get my hands on.
So far – oops. Haven’t read any of this series this year. I have a feeling this one is going to be a holdover and on the list for 2013 and I now have four to read.


Julie Hyzy's White House Chef series
State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy
I've only read the first one of these but I enjoyed it quite a bit. I want to balance out the mystery mix in 2012 with a few more cozies and catching up with the 3 currently unread and the new one coming next month will be a fun way to do that.
I read the second one on vacation in March and I have the 3rd one out from the library right now. I’m not sure I’ll catch up but I will make progress. There’s an outside chance I’ll be caught up by the time the 6th book comes out at the end of December.


Michael Koryta's Lincoln Perry Series
Tonight I Said Goodbye by Michael Koryta
I've read 3 of the 4 but got distracted by his standalone thrillers. I want to get back to this series and read that last one.
Yay – this one I accomplished. Of course it was only one book but I also have read another one of his standalones too (for extra credit?)


Chelsea Cain's Archie and Gretchen series
Heartsick by Chelsea Cain
I've let one of my favorite local author's down this year. I have her most recent entry in this series on my shelf but as yet unread. I must remedy this before the next book comes out.
Well – the next book is out and I still haven’t read the one before that so I have two to catch up with now. I’m still hoping to meet this goal by the end of the year.


David Rosenfelt's Andy Carpenter series
Open and Shut by David Rosenfelt
This is another series that has an alarmingly high unread count. I love this series. I love Andy, I love the humor, I love the supporting characters. Most of all I love Tara the best dog EVER! I have 3 to read to catch up with this series.
This is a series that I switched to audio format because I enjoy Grover Gardner’s narration of them. I did catch up with all the audio releases in this series that my libraries have. The newest book was released last month and neither of my libraries has the audio version yet. I’ve submitted an interlibrary loan request so will wait to see if that comes through.


What about you? Do you have any particular series that you’ve been trying to catch up with? Are you considering targeting any for next year?

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Where in the World Are You Reading? My Local Library (Part 2)

>> Monday, August 27, 2012

Where in the World Are You Reading is a monthly themed Meme jointly hosted by Trish at Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity, Lisa at Books. Lists. Life. and Kailana at The Written World.

Where in the World Are You Reading

Click on any of the links for the posta that explain the details of the Meme. It's never too late to join in so please consider doing so.

The theme for August is Your Local Library which means I did two posts for this month because I have two libraries that are a big part of my reading life.

I'm lucky enough to routinely use two outstanding county library systems. I live in one county and work in another. Both have branches that are conveniently located on my way home from work so I have easy access to excellence in libraries.

Last week my post was about the Cedar Mill Community Library which is a branch of the Washington County Cooperative Library Service.

Today’s post and photos are all about the Multmomah County Library Central Branch in downtown Portland. This post is long and has lots of photos but I hope you'll indulge me and take a thorough look. As always – click on the photos for a larger version and then use your browser back button to return to this post.

Multnomah County Library Central Branch from 10th Avenue
Central Branch from 10th Avenue
This is the library that is most convenient on the three days a week that I work in the office downtown.
Multnomah County Library Central Branch from Taylor Street
From the Taylor Street side
It’s an easy 9 block walk (or short train ride if it’s raining) and just a block away from the train I take home anyway.
Multnomah County Library Central Branch Main Entry
Main entryway
Convenience is great but the reason I love this place is because it’s simply a gorgeous library.
Multnomah County Library Central Branch Main Door Entry
Over the front door
I have always agreed with this quote
Multnomah County Library Central Branch Lobby
The Lobby Entry
This is the main staircase. These stairs hold a hidden surprise. I did a whole post about these stairs last year. Go here and read it, then come back. You won't be sorry. Trust me.

Multnomah County Library Central Branch Stairs
The Children's Library is named after our favorite local children's author. The Bronze tree sculpture is called "Preserving a Memory". It is 14 feet tall and depicts toys, animals, musical instruments, letters and storybook characters. Read more about the tree here.
Beverly Cleary Children's Library

Beverly Cleary Commemorative Plaque
Beverly Cleary
Books written by Beverly Cleary
delight readers worldwide. Favorites
are stories ofchildren growing up on
Klickitat Street in Northeast Portland.
Thank you, Beverly Cleary for many
hours of enjoyment.
1997


Multnomah County Central Library Second Floor
Moving on up to the second floor you'll find another beautiful atrium. On the right is the periodicals room

Multnomah County Central Branch Periodicals Room

Inside the periodicals room is something pretty special

Multnomah County Central Branch Periodicals Room Index
Local Newspapers Index circa 1930-1987
I looked up a couple of big names from Portland History. You really should click on these next two photos to see full size so you can read the dates and titles.



Every corner you turn leads to another beautiful space.

Multnomah County Library Central Branch Second Floor

Isn't this a beautiful room?

Multnomah County Library Central Branch Second Floor


Multnomah County Library Central Branch Stairs to Third Floor
Stairway to the Third Floor

Multnomah County Library Central Branch landing between 2nd and 3rd floors
Looking down into the second floor north side from the landing between the  second and third floors

Multnomah County Library Central Branch Third Floor atrium and skylight
Third Floor atrium and skylight
Multnomah County Central Library John Wilson Plaque
The beginnings of what is now the rare book room and special collections


In Memory of
John Wilson
Pioneer Merchant of
Portland by the gift of
his own books founder
of this reference library.
1826-1900

I hope you enjoyed the little tour and if you're ever in Portland, please be sure to stop by this library.

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Weekend Update August 26, 2012

>> Sunday, August 26, 2012

Weekend Update


Since my last update:
I finished reading The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime that Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars by Paul Collins. This is non-fiction by a local author. It’s part true crime about a murder in New York in 1897 and part story of the tabloid journalism wars between Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. I enjoyed it and will have a full review up later this week.

I read a short story by Debbie Macomber called When First They Met. I plan on reading the first book in her new series set in Cedar Cove but discovered from BookfanMary’s review of The Inn at Rose Harbor that this prequel short story gives a bit of background to the new series. It’s certainly not required reading prior to the book but this is something that ebooks are great for – in fact I read this on my computer instead of my ereader. I often do that with short stories.

I started The Absent One by Jussi Adler-Olsen. I’m actually reading a UK edition and that edition is titled “Disgrace”. I’m always intrigued when there are different titles and I like knowing both of them because the different titles can give different expectations or interpretations of the stories. I’ve barely started it but so far I like it. That’s not a surprise given the good reviews I’ve seen so far and also how much I liked the first book in the Department Q series.

On audio I’m still listening to Guardian of the Horizon by Elizabeth Peters. I love Amelia Peabody and now that the children in the family are older it’s fun getting their perspectives on events interspersed with Amelia’s.

Other than books and reading:
I think I only read about 10 pages yesterday because apparently the “Back to School” mindset has kicked in even though I don’t have kids and haven’t been in school since . . . well . . . before some of you were born.

I don’t know what it is but every late August to early September I get into an organizing, reorganizing, need a fresh start mood. This year I’ve been able to channel that in some good ways. Yesterday I did a long overdue major closet purge and cleanout. This is something I need to be in the right mood to do and I guess I was.

Empty hangers
The Great Closet Purge of 2012
These are the hangers I emptied and all of what was on them is headed to Goodwill.


Abby of course “helped”
Abby

Abby of course “helped”

The other thing I did this week was reorganize some things in the way I use my online/phone To Do list application. I’ve used Remember The Milk for a long time and I’m already a huge fan, but my organizational urge this week led me to browsing the tips and tricks to learn how other folks have found ways to use the application. I found some great ideas and have started using a new way of tagging items on my list that I’m really finding quite useful. I also found a fabulous tool that integrated Google Docs that will allow me to generate my standard “Book Checklist” whenever I start a new book. I use this checklist to make sure I get all the updates I do to my spreadsheets, Goodreads, Pinterest, my blog, etc. for every book I read. It’s really pretty slick.

Browsing the iphone photos I took this week . . .
Lemon Gelato with Limoncello
At Piazza Italia in Portland
Our 18th anniversary was this week. We went to a fun little Italian café for dinner and my dessert was a flute glass full of awesome. Lemon gelato with limoncello. YUM!

And yes I get the irony of following up a dessert photo with this. I ordered myself a FitBit and it arrived this week.
FitBit

It’s like a pedometer on steroids. It tracks steps, distance, and flights of stairs or hills climbed. Since we live in a two story house and any walk I do from our house ends with that 100 foot hill back up to our door I like that I get ‘credit’ for elevation climbing in addition to straight distance. It’s a fun little device with interesting tracking graphs and stats. I also like that it’s much smaller and less bulky than my old pedometer. After nearly a full week with this thing I’m quite impressed.

Hope you’re having a great weekend.

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The Unwritten: Dead Man's Knock by Mike Carey & Peter Gross

>> Friday, August 24, 2012

The Unwritten: Inside Man by Mike Carey & Peter Gross

The Unwritten: Dead Man's Knock by Mike Carey & Peter Gross

Genre: Fantasy (Graphic Novel)
Series: #3 in the Unwritten series
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 160
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Tom Taylor spent most of his life trying to live down the fact that his father’s bestselling books featured a boy wizard with his name but now he’s discovering he has more in common with Tommy Taylor the character than he thought and that his father has prepared him to face off against a dangerous group who use stories to control.

Why I Read It:
A twitter conversation led me to this series and I haven’t been able to stop since I read the first one.

The Book:
This volume 3 is a compilation of issues 13-18 of the comic series.

From the back cover:

The fictional adventures of Tommy Taylor are the biggest publishing sensation of the still-young century. And now, years after the last volume, Tommy’s creator Wilson Taylor, long missing and believed dead, is unleashing a brand-new Tommy Taylor book upon the world. There’s just none problem: It’s not a new Tommy Taylor book at all.

Sinister forces have create a fake book in Wilson’s name, a fraud designed to destroy his literary legacy – and coax the reclusive author of hiding so they can destroy him once and or all. But they didn’t count on Wilson’s most powerful creation: his son, the real Tom Taylor.

To unmask the truth about the new Tommy, Tom must confront some of the darkest secrets that surround him, from the hidden fate of his father to the secret origin of his closest friend to the true nature of his fictional alter ego. Will Tom be able to stop his doppelganger’s return? Or will the publishing event of the decade lead to the end of time?


My Thoughts:
I am enjoying the heck out of this series. The story is interesting and keep surprising me. The artwork is amaxing and tells as much of the story if not more than the words.

The section that revealed more of the history of the semi-myterious Lizzie Hexam character was quite different than anything in the previous volumes. This section was done as a ‘choose your own adventure style’ and I loved it. I know it’s a departure from anything in the series so far but I had a great time going through all the options and possible histories of Lizzie. I was compulsive and made sure I’d explored all the possibilities. I was a bit hesitant when I started that section but after a thorough study of it I have to say that it really worked.

There weren’t as many literary references in this one as in the second volume but the story was still rich and interesting. The artwork really makes it cleat when the story is shifting from Tom Taylor to the Tommy Taylor books written by his father. They are interwoven but it’s smoothly handled.

I have a feeling that this is a series that I’ll be reading again from the beginning once I catch up to the current volumes. The small details in one section can become important later. I’m eager to get caught up with all the available volumes so I can start re-experiencing this highly entertaining and interesting series.


4 stars Rating 4/5

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The Prophet by Michael Koryta

>> Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Prophet by Michael Koryta
The Prophet by Michael Koryta

Genre: Mystery Thriller
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 312
Source: provided by the publisher through NetGalley

The Short Version:
High School Football, estranged brothers, a new murder that brings up haunting memories of their own sister’s long ago death all combine in a story of a crime, family relationships, faith, guilt, and vengeance.

Why I Read It:
I’ve enjoyed all of Michael Koryta’s PI series featuring Lincoln Perry and while I thought his more supernatural The Cypress House was excellent I was excited to see a new one from him that returned to more of a crime fiction story.

The Book:
Years ago Kent and Adam Austin were the current and future stars of the Chambers High School Football team. Their sister’s abduction and death changed their lives and fractured their relationship. Kent is now the coach of team and possible hero once again as they appear headed to the state championship. Adam gets by as a bail bondsman and part time private investigator and has more in common with the criminals he helps and sometimes hunts than he does with his own brother.

When the girlfriend of one of Kent’s players is killed in an eerily similar crime both Kent and Adam are confronted with their past. Grief, guilt, a chance for redemption and some surprises along the way make this a study of relationships as much as it is a thriller.

My Thoughts:
While I thought Koryta’s The Cypress House was excellent I was glad to see him leave the supernatural elements out of his latest book and return to his crime fiction roots.

This is much more than a murder mystery though. The damaged relationship between the Austin brothers and the personal demons they face separately and together is woven in and out of both the present day story and the parts that are flashbacks to events of the past.

I loved the football element too. As a huge Friday Night Lights fan and someone who is counting the hours until college football season kicks off it was a perfect little taste of football in August. The Hubster read it when we were on vacation in June and his review was pretty much “Mystery: Good. Football: Good.”

Kent and Adam had each found ways to deal (or not) with the loss of their sister and how that continued to affect their lives and reactions to things. When the death of Rachel Bond forces the brothers back into contact they’re still coping with their own lingering wounds even after all these years. While Kent has become part of a prison ministry, Adam doesn’t understand and sees the chance to find and destroy Rachel’s killer as his own chance at redemption.

Koryta keeps the tension high and the emotions raw throughout the story and not just for Kent and Adam. The football team, Rachel’s mother and the community are all torn apart by a senseless act of violence. What it will take to heal the wounds and what Adam and Kent will be willing to put on the line are questions right up until the end.

More than a murder mystery, this is a story of damaged people trying to protect the ones they love while seeking both vengeance and redemption along the way.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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Wordless Wednesday #149

>> Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Portland Adult Soapbox Derby
Mt. Tabor Park
Portland, Oregon

Portland Adult Soapbox Derby 2012
Click on photo to view full size 

For more Wordless Wednesday, click here

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Where in the World Are You Reading? My Local Library (Part 1)

>> Monday, August 20, 2012

Where in the World Are You Reading is a monthly themed Meme jointly hosted by Trish at Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity, Lisa at Books. Lists. Life. and Kailana at The Written World.

Where in the World Are You Reading

Click on any of the links for the posta that explain the details of the Meme. It's never too late to join in so please consider doing so.

The theme for August is Your Local Library which means I'll be doing two posts for this month because I have two libraries that are a big part of my reading life.

I'm lucky enough to routinely use two outstanding county library systems. I live in one county and work in another. Both have branches that are conveniently located on my way home from work so I have easy access to excellence in libraries.
Cedar Mill Community Library
Today I'm featuring the Cedar Mill Community Library which is a branch of the Washington County Cooperative Library Service.
Cedar Mill Library entryway

This is definitely the library I visit the most. It's on my way home from the Park & Ride lot I use on the three days a week I work downtown. It's an easy right turn in, right turn out on the way home.

Inside the Cedar Mill Library

No matter what time or day I stop in there are folks browsing, reading, using the computers or checking out the Friends of the Library resale shop next door.

Self-Checkout stations
I am a huge fan of the self-checkout stations. They've recently gone to a RFID system which makes it even easier. I'm always a little surprised to see a long line like this when there are self-checkout stations available.

Recommendation Lists

In many places around the library there are recommendation lists of all kinds. These are by the New Books shelf but there are many on the ends of the shelf rows throughout the library.

Self Service Holds Shelf

This section is near and dear to my heart. It's the pickup area for holds. I make extensive use of the online catalog and request books, DVDs and Books on DC all the time. There is a family whose name is alphabetically right before mine and I have never picked up one of my holds without seeing several of their holds on the shelf too. I've never met them  but I feel like I know them through our "holds shelf neighborhood".
Ballot Drop Box
This is also my 'voting' booth. Oregon is an all vote by mail state and for us that means it’s a “drop our ballots off in the drop box at the library” state. Again, there's a very high convenience factor. Plus it gives me an excuse to just browse a bit since I’m there anyway.
Cedar Mill Library

I love this library and do consider it to be my home library.

Come back next week when I'll be featuring the Central Branch of the Multnomah County Library which is a completely different atmosphere.


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