Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin

Posted in Review at 12:13 am by Amber

Steve Martin is known in the publishing world for his fiction books so this was a little bit of a departure.  In Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life he chronicles his stand-up career beginning with how he got his start in show business and ending with his decision to pack it all away.  Literally. 

Steve Martin is a private person and the book offers up information on why he tries to keep his personal life separate from his public persona.  The tone is honest, nostalgic, and somewhat detached.  It’s obvious he’s moved on to other things in his life so it would be foolhardy to believe he’d do “one last tour” like so many bands that broke up decades ago.  The book answers questions that I wouldn’t have come up with on my own.  I was too young to watch Saturday Night Live or The Tonight Show when he had his stand-up career so my first exposure to him was through his movies.  One of those questions includes, “Why the white suit?” 

It was difficult to put down; I read it in one weekend.  It is my wish that one day he’ll tackle the subject of his varied writing career with the same regard he’s given his stand-up career.


August Giveaways!

Posted in Giveaway at 1:05 am by Amber

August is nearly over and I haven’t posted any book giveaways for you.  Shame on me!

Reading With Monie is giving away an advance reader copy of American Widow.  The graphic novel will be released on September 9th.  The author’s husband started a new job at the World Trade Center on September 10th, 2001.  The novel deals mostly with what happens in the year after his death.  It’s sure to bring a tear or two to your eye.  Entries will be taken until August 31st.

Allison’s Attic is part of the 50 Days 50 Books giveaway of Joy Nash’s book Immortals: The Crossing.  The book is scheduled to be released on 9/30/08.  Leave a comment on Allison’s Attic before September 1st for your chance to win a signed copy of Joy’s book.

If you are a fan of graphic novels, The Boston Bibliophile is giving away a copy of the Top Shelf Seasonal Sampler 2008.  Top Shelf publishes graphic novels for young and old.  I’m probably most familiar with Christian Slade’s Korgi (gee… I wonder why…) and Craig Thompson’s Blankets.  You can leave a comment on her blog and do other things for entries.  She’ll be holding the drawing on September 1st so you have a few days.

She Is Too Fond Of Books is giving away two copies of Laurie Viera Rigler’s Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict.  Leave a comment on what you would find most appealing and most challenging living in Jane Austen’s world before September 5th.

The Writer Mama is having a Back-to-School Giveaway from September 1st to September 30th. She’ll be giving away books and writer gifts each day during the month. You don’t have to be a mama to win – just be a writer!


Quick Book Blogger Appreciation Week Update!

Posted in Event at 6:47 pm by Amber

I received an email today that some new categories have been added to the nominations.  They are:

  • Most Altruistic Blog
  • Funniest/Most Humorous Blog
  • Best Sci-fi/fantasy/horror/spec-fic blog
  • Best Commenter/commentator 

If you’ve already sent in your nominations you can send in another email!

Pecha Kucha Night Part 3

Posted in Event at 1:18 am by Amber

My other posts about Pecha Kucha can be found here and here.

Without further ado here is information on the last half of the presentations:

Lisa Dillman / Food Writer / The Dinner Process – Lisa wasn’t always a waitress.  At one time she used to sit in a cubicle creating PowerPoint presentations.  Her presentation was actually about some of the things she learned about food since becoming a waitress and not about the dinner process.  A tip she shared – almost anything tastes good with olive oil, salt and pepper!  The slides were of different foods she’s photographed and what she learned about each one.  I’ve been following her blog for several years now and it was nice to finally get to meet her.

Randy Sanders / Tree Farmer  Woodworker / Wood Art – Randy used to work for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.  Now he gets to work with wood.  Randy’s slides explained some of the ways his farm is different from a commercial tree farm.  Old and damaged trees are primarily used to create his wood products such as tables, benches, sculptures and picture frames.  He reviewed a few of the characteristics of the different types of wood he uses and it was easy to identify the different wood types by the time he reached the end.  Randy had good slides of plain and quarter sawn wood showing the differences in the cuts.

Michael Suriano / Architect / Simplexity – Michael’s work allows him to look towards nature or simple changes to create natural looking architecture.  One example he used is the very familiar brick.  We’re used to them being placed end to end to create a solid wall.  However, when space is placed between the bricks, it allows the bricks some natural movement and creates an unusual looking wall.  On a recent project he used the cell structure of coral to create an overhead shelter for a park.  The structure allowed for shady areas, bright areas and water areas.

Jerry Ulibarri / Commercial Artist / Portfolio – Have you ever noticed those murals on the wall of your restaurant?  But it doesn’t look like it’s painted…  Jerry works for a company that creates those murals in the studio and places them on the walls.  They also create three dimensional trees for libraries, murals for museum exhibits and special design work (such as sculptures) when requested.  Jerry’s slides were a portfolio of some of the projects he’s worked on at various stages. 

Ryan Hullinger / Architect / Architecture and Birth – Ryan’s presentation was the most moving for me and had me crying before the end.  He’s an architect that specializes in building hospitals and other health care facilities.  Some architects shy away from these types of projects because of the large amount of regulations that must be followed but that’s one of the things Ryan enjoys about his work.  He also likes to ask how to make the design better or more functional.  When he and his wife found out they were to welcome a third child into their family they asked themselves how to make it better and if they were ready to take a risk.  What if something went wrong?  They decided to have a home birth.  Guess what?  The midwife and doula traveled through our March snowstorm when hardly anyone was able to travel anywhere.  Ryan and his wife live two streets over so I can vouch for the determination of the midwife and doula to not let them down!  Ryan’s slides were pictures mostly from that day.  The house became an entity that day due to its role in the birth.  There was wind and snow outside while the house kept the family safe from the elements.  The pictures were beautiful.

It was amazing to learn so much from the presenters about their jobs and interests in such a short amount of time.


Coming Up: Book Blogger Appreciation Week Sept. 15 – 19

Posted in Event at 11:31 pm by Amber



During the week of September 15th to September 19th, My Friend Amy will be holding Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW).  In addition to special drawings for book reviewers, she has a contest planned for readers.  Amy has opened up BBAW Award Nominations.  Nominate your favorite book bloggers for awards until 8/31/2008.  Stop on by during Book Blogger Apprecation Week and see what fun she has in store!

Pecha Kucha Night Part 2

Posted in Event at 6:28 pm by Amber

The first part of my post about Pecha Kucha Volume 7 in Columbus can be found here.  Soon Part 3 will be posted.

One of the wonderful things about Pecha Kucha Night is the variety in the presenters.  Even people who have the same profession approach similar topics differently.  Some of the presenters seemed more comfortable talking into the microphone and addressing the audience than others.  All appeared to be enthusiastic or passionate about their topics. 

By my estimate, there were at least 100 people in the audience.  It was difficult to determine how many people left after the first set of presenters since many people, myself included, moved to other seats.  All of the presenters provided their slides to the organizers prior to the event to provide cohesiveness and consistency in the presentations.

Kyle Ezell / City Planning / Changing the Culture, Transforming American Cities – Kyle’s written several books on city planning.  His present focus is on turning what is considered trendy or unusual into the norm.  His slides provided visuals for his contrasts between trendy and normal.  In Columbus we practically live in our cars to travel to the other side of town or do our grocery shopping for the week in one day.  One of the points Kyle made was that by walking more often and carrying our things, we’ll increase our lives and the lives of our cities. 

Tom Hubbard / Digital Artist / Carl Jung Quotes and My Art – Tom’s presentation was probably the most unique.  His slides consisted of his artwork with a quote.  Tom provided some commentary for the titles.  It was mostly a silent presentation that offered a moment of contemplation on the artwork.  The room had the ambiance of a quiet art gallery.

Stasia Czech / Interior Designer / Authenticy – Stasia recently read the first Ziba book about authenticity and shared with the audience some of the points from the book.  Authenticity can refer to a philosophy of living.  In this case, authenticity is what makes one company different from another.  Consumers can often recognize when they are being targeted in a marketing campaign – they are a lot more intelligent about marketing than they were 20 years ago.  Her slides consisted of a timeline and companies she felt followed authenticity.

Catherine Mehrl Bennett / Artist / Kimono Collaboration – I had a preconceived notion that this would be slides of photographs of kimonos.  I was wrong and it wasn’t until I googled her that I found her book.  She collaborated with other artists and poets to design art that fit into the shape of a kimono.  Her slides were of the finished products.

Kevin Bickle / Freestyle Bike Rider  Artist / Freestyle Tricks  Art – Kevin’s first career was a freestyle bike rider.  His book took him on many travels across the country.  When he got a little bit older he gave himself over to Christ and went on one of Stephen Baldwin’s tours.  Somewhere along the way he traveled to Africa too.  Kevin’s in his 30’s now and is getting a little too old for the freestyling so he’s taken up art.  His slides consisted of pictures from both careers; you can see many of them for yourself on his site.  Kevin offered to do some of his tricks in the lobby during the intermission with the caveat that he hadn’t really done anything on it in the last two years.

I spent most of the intermission actually conversing with one of the presenters for the second half of the evening before realizing I shouldn’t monopolize all of her time.


Pecha Kucha Night Part 1

Posted in Event at 12:12 am by Amber

I spent the evening at Landmark’s Gateway Theater for Pecha Kucha Night.  It was my first time at the event and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  It seems the format for the evening is always the same but the venue and presenters change the audience.  Some people were dressed up and others were in shorts and a t-shirt.  It was a good mixture of ages too.

The event itself is two hours long inlcuding an intermission.  Each presenter is allowed 20 images, each shown for 20 seconds, giving the person 6 minutes and 40 seconds of time to talk about the chosen topic.  Greeters at the door welcomed everyone and informed them about signing the guest book if interested in volunteering, presenting or being added to the mailing list.  Audience members then walked into a cloud of techno music!  The DJ did the music before the event and during the intermission.  I didn’t notice if it started up again when the night was done.  People chatted afterwards and were encouraged to pick up cards from the presenters on their way out.

Chairs were setup very nicely in front of a projector screen.  By nicely, I don’t mean rows upon rows of chairs in a sterile straight line.  Five or so chairs were lined up and the next row was lined up hapharzardly behind it.  The middle aisle was large.  Along the perimeter were some taller tables and a bar was available in the back.  Part of the event is geared towards networking and socializing but if you’re shy you don’t have to talk to anyone. 

Here is a list of tonight’s presenters and their topics:

  • Kyle Ezell / City Planning / Changing the Culture, Transforming American Cities
  • Tom Hubbard / Digital Artist / Carl Jung Quotes and My Art
  • Stasia Czech / Interior Designer / Authenticity
  • Catherine Mehrl Bennett / Artist / Kimono Collection
  • Kevin Bickle / Freestyle Bike Rider  Artist /Freestyle Tricks  Art
  • Lisa Dillman / Food Writer / The Dinner Process
  • Randy Sanders / Tree Farmer  Woodworker / Wood Art
  • Michael Suriano / Architect / Simplexity
  • Jerry Ulibarri / Commercial Artist / Portfolio
  • Ryan Hullinger / Architect /Architecture and Birth

My next post will be about the individual presentations.


More TBR Reviews Forthcoming

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:10 am by Amber

It’s Thursday morning.  I’ve begun and finished three books from my TBR pile.  More book reviews will be coming soon!


Types of Book Reviewers

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:57 pm by Amber

One of my online writing groups contains a handful of book reviewers along with authors and marketing personnel.  Recently the book reviewers had a discussion about how they got into book reviewing and the types of books they’ll review.  This got me thinking about the types of book reviewers I’ve seen.

Through my internet travels I’ve found there are several types of book reviewers.  This is not a complete list so feel free to leave a comment with any of the other types of book reviewers you’ve seen or leave a link as an example!

The first type writes reviews to share with others.  They review books they’ve purchased or been given.  Sometimes they have their own domain name with web pages but often they post their reviews on a hosted blog site.  One of the joys is that the reviewer has a unique voice and you never know what kind of book will be reviewed next. This reviewer may or may not be specialized.  For example, a majority of the reviews are children’s books or simply any book that comes across their desk.

The second type writes reviews for a specific publication.  They review books sent to them by the publication (or author on behalf of the publication).  All reviews are available only through the publication in print format or on the publication’s site.  Payment for the review varies for each publication.  It could be the book itself, a monetary payment, or both.  These are usually a bit more formal regarding the content of the review such as always including a synopsis, the ISBN number and/or purchase information.

The third type of reviewer is the hybrid reviewer.  Reviews may be done on a personal web site or blog and for a specific publication.  If the same book appears in both places the review is usually different.  The reader will be different so the review is geared towards the audience.

All of the reviewers have value as they can all influence whether or not you want to read a specific book.


Free Books: How Do Book Reviewers Get Them?

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:45 pm by Amber

Not all book reviewers are paid for their reviews by a publication.  They post their reviews on their blogs.  With the vast amount of books published each year, a book reviewer could read books from their “to be read” aka TBR pile and be a few years behind the current releases.  The best way to create a buzz about a book is word of mouth, reviews and interviews with the author.  It’s easier to do this when a book is newly released or about to be released in another format.

So how does the book reviewer get newer books?

  1. Reach out to the author.  I know that sounds silly but newer authors are usually happy for all the publicity they can get.  If you stop by their site or email them about reviewing a copy of their new book they are usually happy to help.  Their publisher often has a set amount of advance reader copies (ARCs) available to share with the author or provides the author with an electronic copy for giveaway purposes.  Electronic copies are popular giveaways during a real-time chat with the author.  If you promise to do a review of the book then be sure to do it!  (You don’t want the author to not trust the next potential reviewer who approaches them.)  Some reviewers will make it known on their blogs that they will accept emails from authors and publishing houses regarding book reviews and interviews.
  2. Register with the publisher.  Some publishers have early review programs or offer contests and book giveaways on their sites.  Sometimes this results in being added to a newsletter or mailing list in addition to an entry for a free book.  Linda Formichelli has a great database available on her site of publishers and who to contact for review copies. 
  3. Sign up at a book swap site.  At BookCrossing books are “released” into the wild by their owners and the book’s progress is tracked.  If you’re interested in how far a book has traveled this could be a lot of fun.  BookMooch allows you to trade your books directly with other people.  Sometimes ARCs are made available for swapping.  I’m sure the list of book swapping sites is nearly endless but these are the two I hear about most often.
  4. Other book reviewers.  Once in a while two copies of a book will be sent to a book reviewer.  When this happens, the book reviewer will often make the extra copy available to their blog readers. 

These are just a few ways the internet book reviewer obtains copies of current releases.  Even though the books are free there is still work involved in getting the book.

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