Confessions of a Bookaholic: On Authors and Review Copies

So recently I got my first few review copies from authors. And although I was excited, one of the first things that struck me was: What if I hate this book?

I’m not saying here that receiving a free copy influenced any of my reviews at all. In fact, I told myself to be more truthful than usual (which, guys, is saying something since I try to tell the truth as much as possible) because I owed the truth not only to my readers but also to the author.

The thing is, though, I don’t like getting review copies from authors. Don’t get me wrong, I love the books themselves, but I don’t like the idea of having a personal relationship with an author before I even start their book. If I read something and really enjoy it, I love telling authors on Twitter. I love saying things like OMG YOUR BOOK WAS SO GOOD I COULDN’T GET ENOUGH OF IT I NEED THE SEQUEL SO SO SO BAD. But if I write a bad review, I never ever tell the author that I hated their book. I never tag them when I post the review on Twitter. Because it’s mean. It’s like bullying. And I hate it.

In the end, I was 100% truthful when I wrote those reviews. I didn’t sugar coat anything, and I wasn’t any more tactful than usual. But I didn’t enjoy writing the bad and the so-so reviews and then having to send it to the author and wave it in their face and say, Hey, I didn’t like your book. This is what was wrong with it and I think you need to correct this. It stung, even to me.

This is why I don’t like getting review copies from authors. And I will continue to receive these review copies and continue to read them and post truthful reviews. But what this experience has taught me is not to form relationships with authors before reading their book. That I should reply to their email saying that yes, I will read their book, and thank you. Nothing beyond that before I start. It’s painful both for me and the author when we’ve become acquaintances and I need to tell them that I hated their story. No matter how much an author understands that not everybody will love their work once they make it public, it will still hurt.

Is this just me, or has anyone else encountered this problem?

 

 

Loyalty vs. Transition

There is certainly nothing wrong with trying to better yourself with a new job. But first, carefully consider why it is, or may be, “better.” Is it because of compensation, advancement opportunity, a desire to change careers, the next step in your career planning or a combination of these factors. Regardless of why you may regard the change as “better,” here are some important considerations.

Loyalty

There is something to be said, actually many things, for staying with one employer for an extended period. Consider each one carefully. Favor. Often employees who have been with the company for many years receive preferred assignments, more opportunity for advancement and the associated compensation increases, additional fringe benefits (health insurance, life insurance, accelerated retirement benefits, vacation time, etc.) and possibly general favor with their superior/boss, often due to the rapport developed with him or her.

Stability. Job security is usually greater when you stay with one company for an extended period. This is particularly important if you have a family with several children. Moving to another geographical location, sometimes even out of the country, will impose both stress and at least temporary hardship on your entire family. These may include possible temporary loss of income, moving and relocation expenses, leaving friends and relatives, and making new friends. However, if you are single, or have a spouse and no children, you may still be flexible enough to make the transition; but this must be a joint decision between you and your spouse.

Resume. Frequent employment changes, especially if it is not a clearly planned career move, may not look good on your resume. Employers often look for the potential for company loyalty when hiring new employees. For example, cab driver to flight instructor to commuter airline to a national or international Part 121 carrier (Delta, American or United Airlines) are all clearly planned career moves. However, moving from one flight instructor position to a second and then to a third within a two or three year period will not give the desired impression to new employers.

Transition

Will moving from your present employment to your new employment be a smooth process? Will you be using skills developed with your present employer in your new employment? Does your new employer consider your present employer as a competitor, a supplier of required materials or supplies, or a non-consequential factor in their business? Each of these could have different consequences for both you and your new employer.

Competitor. Is your new employer trying to attain a competitive advantage by hiring you? If so, and if you regard this as legitimate, the move may be best for you and both companies. You are promoting your career and bettering yourself; the former employer is realizing that the transition to higher quality workers, and retaining quality employees, must be part of their business planning; and the new employer is learning about new sources of employees as their business is growing. Conversely, if hiring you is meant to tunish or put another company out of business, you have to decide if the new company really wants you or if they are using you as an ends to a

Conversely, if hiring you is meant to punish or put another company out of business, you have to decide if the new company really wants you or if they are using you as an ends to a means, and that means may not be completely legitimate, maybe not even in your best long-range interest.

Supplier or Non-Consequential Factor. Is there a motivation for your new employer to hire from one of their suppliers? The motivation may be very innocent or even non- consequential. However, do look at the situation from your new employer’s perspective. Additionally, consider the perspective of your present employer and how they may view you, and your work, if they are knowledgeable about your efforts toward seeking new employment.

Thank you for reading!

Eagle Eye Movie Review

Actors:

Shia LaBeouf
Michelle Monaghan Michelle Monaghan
Rosario Dawson Rosario Dawson
Michael Chiklis Michael Chiklis
Anthony Mackie Anthony Mackie
Ethan Embry Ethan Embry
Billy Bob Thornton Billy Bob Thornton

In my review of Blindness I wrote that if an award aspiring drama is released in September then chances are it isn’t very good. I think we can just say that if a movie is released in September nowadays chances are it isn’t very good, regardless of genre. Sure the Bourne Ultimatum came out in August (another dead movie month) last year and was fantastic. But that film was the exception to the rule.

 How to write Movie Review?

Eagle Eye is the latest over-hyped action movie geared towards the 12-18 male demographic. It stars Shia LaBeouf, who has come out of nowhere in the last two years to become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
I have never liked Shia as an actor because his characters always seem so corny and phony. There is never any emotional depth to his characters and he is becoming quickly typecast as the unassuming hero, similar to what Michael J. Fox was doing in the 80’s except with more charisma and believability.
And speaking of believability, a lot of people are going to have issues with the events of this movie. I am always willing and able to suspend my disbelief in the name of entertainment, but that suspension can only go so far. From the opening scene in Eagle Eye to the very last nothing that happens has any sense of realism. Granted, this makes for some entertaining action scenes but in my opinion actions scenes are only effective if they involve interesting characters taking part in important and credible affairs. The plot of this movie is simply implausible and the audience will be rolling their eyes throughout the movie.
Shia plays Jerry Shaw, a young underachiever who lives on his own and who has just found out that his twin brother has died. Then, without explanation, he comes home to find boxes and crates of ammo and bomb materials in his apartment. The very same night, he receives a call from a female voice telling him he has been “activated” and that he needs to follow her directions. Michelle Monaghan plays a single mother who receives a similar call around the same time. Eventually they meet and slowly figure out they are pawns being used in something larger than they can’t understand at the moment.
I won’t tell you who the antagonist is, but when the movie is over you will wonder why everything that happened needed to happen at all. Not that there is any possibility it could have gone through all that to begin with. The one positive that I take from Eagle Eye is that Shia is slowly becoming a better and more adult actor. Hopefully he will sign on for a script not geared towards high-schoolers, and we’ll be able to see what he is capable of.
On a final note I must say that I was very displeased with the fate of Shia’s character. Can screenwriters and filmmakers please try to be a little bolder?

 

Rating: 2 / 5 stars

Cooking for the Vegetarian (or Vegan) in Your Life Just Got Easier 2

Just about every cuisine and type of dish is featured, and the full range of meats, alternative proteins, grains, and vegetables are covered. I have prepared several dishes already, including Kung Pao Chicken or Tofu; Stuffed Chicken Breasts and Portobello Mushrooms; and the delicious Moroccan Vegetables, Fish, and Couscous En Papillote. I look forward to making my way through many more.
One of my absolute favorites in the book is among the simplest (and so flavorful); I’ve made it many times already. Lazy Spanish Rice-which appears in Ivy’s Rizo Quesadillas with Creamy Avocado Dip and Lazy Spanish Rice recipe-is the perfect accompaniment to any Mexican main dish, though I also love to eat a bowlful as an entrée with a salad or quesadilla on the side. Its prepared in a rice cooker or on the stovetop, takes only about 20 minutes, and is colorful, filling, and tasty (and can easily be made vegan).
Every guest at your table is sure to enjoy it, as I am positive they will the other eighty recipes Ivy serves up in The Adaptable Feast.
LAZY SPANISH RICE
Serves 4 as a side dish
This easy side dish is cooked with pantry staples in a rice cooker, so it is as easy as flipping a switch. The secret is a good-quality salsa and a slightly spicy chipotle bouillon cube, available at some grocery stores and Latin markets. You can use canned chipotle chiles instead if you can’t find the chipotle cubes.
1-1/2 cups long-grain white or brown rice
5 tablespoons mild or medium salsa
1 Knorr chipotle bouillon cube, crumbled,
or 2 teaspoons chopped canned chipotle chiles
2-3/4 cups water
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons sliced black olives
2 green onions, chopped
Combine the rice, salsa, bouillon cube, water, and butter in a rice cooker. Cook until the rice is tender. Fluff with a fork and fold in the olives and green onions.
Vegan Variation: Use olive oil instead of butter.

Cooking for the Vegetarian (or Vegan) in Your Life Just Got Easier

I grew up in a household not unlike millions of others: one of a mixed-diet family. My mother cooked well-balanced meals with meat and vegetables nearly every evening, and my parents, sister, and I all ate together at the dinner table. However, by the time we were in our teens, my sister developed a dairy allergy and made the choice to be a vegetarian. This required my mother to prepare a larger portion of a main meat dish for three of us to eat while making an individual portion of more vegetables, tofu, or grains to feed my sister. It was a difficult transition-my mother had to entirely rethink how she approached the evening meal. The biggest headache was trying to time everything so the two meals were ready at the roughly same time, allowing us to continue eating as a family. Unfortunately there weren’t any cookbooks available that offered a selection of recipes starting with the same base ingredients and prepared all at once to accommodate both the omnivores and the vegetarian at the table.
I face the same challenge when my sister comes to visit for dinner every week or two, because even though I don’t need to have meat with every meal to feel satisfied, my husband does. I often adapt common vegetarian recipes and add grilled chicken or shrimp for him, or prepare a separate dish that tastes just as good with a pile of vegetables to offer my sister. But now I have a great resource at my fingertips that allows me to do double duty in the kitchen: Ivy Manning’s new release The Adaptable Feast: Satisfying Meals for the Vegetarians, Vegans, and Omnivores at Your Table.
Over the course of several years cooking for and with her vegetarian spouse, Ivy-an omnivore-compiled an impressive number of main dishes, sides, and staples that can be served in portions to satisfy all the vegetarians, vegans, and/or omnivores in your home.

Closet Clips

When it comes to fashion, I am a bit of a sissy. I do not lead the pack and revel in my bold style decisions. I do not wear plants on my head like Sarah Jessica Parker, hobo-chic body sacks like Mary Kate and Ashley, or full swan costumes like Bjork (though I admire any woman who can ruffle feathers). Rather, I adopt the safe, mainstream trends that, on a good day, earn me a sidewalk compliment, and, on a bad day, go generally unnoticed.

For this reason, I am thrilled to have a fashion book on our list this fall. Closet Confidential: Style Secrets Learned the Hard Way is the gift book of the season, penned by Daddy Likey blogger Winona Dimeo-Ediger. In her guide for the fashion wary, Winona shares fifty style lessons that are refreshingly accessible (for those of you who prefer your plants in a garden) and more addictive than peanut MMS. This is just a sampling of my favorites.

STYLE LESSON #2: The constitution guarantees freedom of speech, press, religion, petition, assembly, and to wear any style of jeans we want, so try something new you might be pleasantly surprised.

Boot cut jeans (aka Jeanus versatilus) are the most frequently occurring articles my wardrobe, which I credit to both their extreme versatility and my unsubstantiated fear of jeans that aren’t boot cut. I realize this makes me to use Winona’s words a complete style snore. So, last month, I finally summoned some retail bravery and headed to T.J. Maxx with plans to avoid familiar denim territory. Two trips to the dressing room and three unflattering try-ons later, I emerged with my first pair of skinny jeans (aka Extreme intimidatus). Despite the blue sparkles on the back pockets that were probably intended for pre-teen fashionistas, they were exactly what I didn’t know I’d wanted all along.

STYLE LESSON #21: Fill your purse with the necessities. You get to define necessities.

Closet Confidential offers a chart that displays purses of all sizes: from the teeny evening mini bag to the colossal Brontosaurus. My current bag definitely falls more into the prehistoric category. On any given day, my necessities include:

A bagged lunch that will inevitably be forgotten upon my arrival to work.

Reading material. I like variety: a novel about genetically altered prep school kids and a copy of Closet Confidential is a good combination for the bus.

Knock-off Chanel sunglasses (fondly referred to as Ohnel’s by my husband for the intersecting Os that, in the right light, almost resemble Chanel’s intersecting Cs).

A coin purse shaped like a cat’s head.

96 pens.

While friends occasionally make fun of me for my excess baggage, Winona informs me that purses large enough to hide a murder victim have come into style in a big way. Which is great news for me and my cat head coin purse.

STYLE LESSON #27: If you live, have lived, or ever plan to live north of the Mason-Dixon Line, you might want to consider one of those giant quilted jackets that look like a queen-size down comforter with sleeves.

I attended college in Ann Arbor, Michigan, along with 30,000 other freezing undergrads. In my five-mile walk to class what felt like five miles anyway since my eyelids were frozen open I quickly learned that if I was going to survive, I would need a puffy coat, fashion be damned. Along with bulk quantities of Easy Mac, the Gap down comforter coat I bought that year was, without a doubt, the best purchase I made in college. (As evidence of my purchase, I have a stack of photos from 2001 displaying my inability to put my arms at my sides). Like umbrellas for Seattleites, industrial coats for Midwesterners are essential. Sometimes there really are more important things than looking cute on the way to class. Like circulation. And being able to blink when you want to.

Tell us: What are the most valuable style lessons you’ve learned?