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**My apartment listing from Craigslist, I know this isn’t a book review, but since I need to find someone to sublease so I can head to NYU am hoping it’s somewhat relevant!  Please pass this on to anyone who may be interested in Summer in Chicago!**

It makes me melancholy to even post this, since I know there is no better place than Chicago in the summer, especially in my apartment where we have a pool on our roof (32nd floor!), floor to ceiling windows and are just blocks to the beach and many summer festivals!

But alas, I’m headed to NYC for a potentially life-altering summer course, so my room in my Gold Coast high rise will be available, fully furnished and with two wonderful female (24/25) y.o roommates to share the summer experience with!! I’m looking for someone June 1 – July 20, but the end date is negotiable.

Like a hotel but more homey (and no maid, but there is a dishwasher and maintenance men!), the amenities are as follows:
• View of Chicago from the 24th floor in every room, yes that is Lake Michigan!
• POOL on roof with tons of chairs for sunning
• Workout room and laundry room
• 24 hour door men
• Double bed (I’ve been told it’s like “sleeping on a cloud”!)
• Furnished bedroom with desk and wardrobe
• Furnished living room including 42” flat screen TV to be shared (typically Lifetime movie Sunday!)
• Blocks to all public transportation – Redline, 22, 36, 151, 156 buses
• Walk downstairs to the heart of the Gold Coast – State and Rush Streets, for nightlife, food, bars and fun!
• Very affordable rent – Central air is included!

Contact me at lydlo152@gmail.com for more details. We would like to “interview” you since you’ll be living in my room with my two best friends, but I promise it won’t be painful (we can do it with drinks to make everyone more comfortable!). We are looking for a young, professional female who is both fun and independent. I’ll need the first month’s deposit when we come to a living agreement.

I have more pics but posting my bedroom on Craigslist seemed super creepy so contact me for those!

Cheers!
novelwhore@gmail.com

Craigslist posting here

craigslist-apartment-posting
Pictures:
1. View from our living room window… No, it never gets old
2. Pool! I think this was a “staycation” work day; it’s typically more populated
3. North Avenue Beach – a ten minute stroll, of if you’re really lazy a five minute bus ride
4. Roomies on the pool deck – this could be you!!!

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I disagree with sentence one… I think this is sexy (not to mention I already discussed this in a post from March 13- https://novelwhore.wordpress.com/2009/03/13/the-book-business-from-a-veterans-perspective/:

Revolutionary Espresso Book Machine launches in London

Launching in London today, the Espresso Book Machine can print any of 500,000 titles while you wait

Allison Flood, Guardian UK (Friday, April 24, 2009)
New visual for a fancy coffee drink!

New visual for a fancy coffee drink!

It’s not elegant and it’s not sexy – it looks like a large photocopier – but the Espresso Book Machine is being billed as the biggest change for the literary world since Gutenberg invented the printing press more than 500 years ago and made the mass production of books possible. Launching today at Blackwell’s Charing Cross Road branch in London, the machine prints and binds books on demand in five minutes, while customers wait.

Signalling the end, says Blackwell, to the frustration of being told by a bookseller that a title is out of print, or not in stock, the Espresso offers access to almost half a million books, from a facsimile of Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript for Alice in Wonderland to Mrs Beeton’s Book of Needlework. Blackwell hopes to increase this to over a million titles by the end of the summer – the equivalent of 23.6 miles of shelf space, or over 50 bookshops rolled into one. The majority of these books are currently out-of-copyright works, but Blackwell is working with publishers throughout the UK to increase access to in-copyright writings, and says the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“This could change bookselling fundamentally,” said Blackwell chief executive Andrew Hutchings. “It’s giving the chance for smaller locations, independent booksellers, to have the opportunity to truly compete with big stock-holding shops and Amazon … I like to think of it as the revitalisation of the local bookshop industry. If you could walk into a local bookshop and have access to one million titles, that’s pretty compelling.”

From academics keen to purchase reproductions of rare manuscripts to wannabe novelists after a copy of their self-published novels, Blackwell believes the Espresso – a Time magazine “invention of the year” – can cater to a wide range of needs, and will be monitoring customer usage closely over the next few months as it looks to pin down pricing (likely to be around the level of traditional books) and demand. It then hopes to roll it out across its 60-store network, with its flagship Oxford branch likely to be an early recipient as well as a host of smaller, campus-based shops.

The brainchild of American publisher Jason Epstein, the Espresso was a star attraction at the London Book Fair this week, where it was on display to interested publishers. Hordes were present to watch it click and whirr into action, printing over 100 pages a minute, clamping them into place, then binding, guillotining and spitting out the (warm as toast) finished article. The quality of the paperback was beyond dispute: the text clear, unsmudged and justified, the paper thick, the jacket smart, if initially a little tacky to the touch.

Described as an “ATM for books” by its US proprietor On Demand Books, Espresso machines have already been established in the US, Canada and Australia, and in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, but the Charing Cross Road machine is the first to be set up in a UK bookstore. It cost Blackwell some $175,000, but the bookseller believes it will make this back in a year. “I do think this is going to change the book business,” said Phill Jamieson, Blackwell head of marketing. “It has the potential to be the biggest change since Gutenberg and we certainly hope it will be. And it’s not just for us – it gives the ability to small independent bookshops to compete with anybody.”

Original link to article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/apr/24/espresso-book-machine-launches

So a few days ago thanks to one of my Twitter friends (I don’t care if some of you think it’s pathetic, it’s become quite enjoyable!) I came across the New York Times article “Is This the Time to Chase a Career Dream?” by business coach Pamela Slim. She was surprisingly optimistic, saying  “People from all walks of life are realizing that a time of economic turmoil offers a great opportunity to reinvent careers.”  So this fueled my hope, even though I don’t think the worlds of advertising and publishing are totally dissimilar, it is definitely considered a new career category on LinkedIn (add me by the way, I’d love to be “linked” – Lydia Hirt).

As of Tuesday, I have been invited to follow my dream of publishing

My NYU Happy Dance

My NYU Happy Dance

all the way to New York University and take part in their Summer Publishing Institute! As of today, my deposit has been submitted (though I would appreciate a receipt of a reserved place, NYU!) and I am looking to book a flight MAY 30!!!!

I had been hesitant to share the application process since I didn’t decide to attempt this career path until a few weeks past application deadline, but whether the economy or my sparkling application (obviously the latter!), I’ve been accepted.  Beginning May 31, I will embark on an intense six weeks of class full-time in The Big Apple!  With three weeks focusing on magazine publishing and three weeks on book publishing, it’s a well rounded program that I believe will leave me with beneficial experience and skills. I’ve read awesome reviews about this program and spoken with graduates, all of which have served to even better convince me it’s a worthwhile investment.

Both exhilarated and terrified, I lay awake at night thinking of the possibilities and stressing about packing.  Not to mention missing two months of Chicago’s summer (especially painful when I think of the swimming pool on my roof!) and leaving my friends, but I have the highest hopes this opportunity leads me where I want to go – launching a career in Publishing.

I really only have four friends in NYC and none of them hang out with each other: A girlfriend recently transplanted from CT with few contacts, a close guy friend who’s a busy med student, a rapper whom I doubt I would fit in with his “crew” and a girlfriend living in London for three months (I guess she doesn’t even count).  So send friends my way, I accept charity!

PS: I need a subleaser for Chicago June 1 – July 19, any suggestions/contacts?!?  Sweet apartment, two amazing female roommates, a pool on the roof and an amazing view from the 24th floor – any takers?!

Sundays are notoriously unproductive (is this true across the board or just for my roomies and I?), typically spent lolling around in front of the Lifetime Movie Channel or, weather permitting, relaxing on the pool deck, rejuvenating from what was undoubtedly a raucous weekend.  So it makes me proud to say that yesterday, I accomplished quite the feat: one sushi meal with Char at RA, one Lifetime movie (the disturbing & sad Natalee Holloway one), three cups of tea and two books!

Quite unintentionally, both books I read dealt with ghosts/spirits/other-worldly forms of energy.  The protagonist in Joshilyn Jackson’s The Girl Who Stopped Swimming saw the ghost come to her of the young girl who drowned in the pool while Ronlyn Domingue writes a captivating tale from the ghost’s perspective in The Mercy of Thin Air.

girlwhostoppedswimmingThe Girl Who Stopped Swimming is Jackson’s third novel, following Gods in Alabama and Between, Georgia.  Having read them all, I’ve come to realize that Jackson employs a formula in each: Takes place in the South, involves a family secret, poor relatives and a young woman.  While these traits are shared, each book is individual, offering a different story and secret to be uncovered.

The secret in The Girl Who Stopped Swimming begins to unravel once Laurel finds the body of her daughter’s tween friend floating in her pool.  After enlisting her free-spirited sister, Thalia, to help, Laurel discovers more than she had anticipated about her marriage, her daughter, DeLop (the oppressed town of impoverished relatives), the murder in her past and even about herself.  An enlightening novel that makes the reader question happiness and wonder about their own ghosts, outside their line of vision.

  • NovelWhore’s Grade: B+
  • Title: The Girl Who Stopped Swimming
  • Author: Joshilyn Jackson
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (Hachette)

mercyofthinairHard to believe The Mercy of Thin Air is Domingue’s first novel.  Written with such insight and conviction, even a non-believer like myself questions reality.  Told in first person by the intelligent and vivacious Raziela Nolan after her tragic death at the turning point of her life, it tells the story of love that doesn’t die with the body.

Even though Razi dies in 1929 at the age of 22, the story carries the characters up into the 21st century, as she stays “between” – invisible to mortals but remaining on Earth. Her  tale is intertwined with the love story of a couple struggling through their relationship and hidden past, whose lives intersect with the one Razi left behind.  Interesting subplots abound: Razi’s dedication to educating women on their reproductive options when this knowledge was illegal (apparently in the 1920s pregnancy was the only job women were expected to do), the growth and development of independent women, the relationships with other souls in “between” and the life of her great love.

Both The Girl Who Stopped Swimming and The Mercy of Thin Air are more than love stories, though I do feel they appeal to women readers much more than men.  I consider myself to be grounded in reality and both these books made me more open to the presence of those we can’t see.  The next time I feel a cold draft or smell a scent that seems out of place I may have to smile, wondering if possibly a spirit is sharing in my experience. Who is to say otherwise?

  • NovelWhore’s Grade: A-
  • Title: The Mercy of Thin Air
  • Author: Ronlyn Domingue
  • Publisher: Atria Books (Simon & Schuster)

I do, however, suggest you read these books at least a few days apart.  I had a hard time sleeping last night imagining the spirits hovering around my bed!

It’s Friday, why don’t we all put down our latest novel, link arms and take a little jaunt in this gorgeous Chicago weather and our favorite little BYOB spot and celebrate the weekend and the win by the Cubs.

Our latest BYO Crew!

Our latest BYO Crew!

Oh, wait, you’re sick of your go-to BYOB restaurant and want something new, that’s also affordable?  I mean who can afford to pay for drinks in this economy! Oh I’m hearing an interest in outdoor seating?  Can do!

Take a gander at the amazing new website http://www.GoByo.com!  Able to sort by such important characteristics as location, meals served and features (40 available! Such as outdoor seating, dancing, or if you’re drinking so many calories you need to compensate with light food, they even have a healthy meal option!).  Much more reliable than Yelp!, this nifty little site was publicized in Thrillist’s Daily Chicago email (sign up here: http://www.thrillist.com/signup) and will definitely be a site I frequent.

Happy Friday & GO CUBS GO!

True Connoisseurs = Classy Wine

True Connoisseurs = Classy Wine

I like to think of myself as a wine connoisseur, though as my OUB & OAD (aunt & uncle, the legitimate connoisseurs) would tell you, I just like all booze!  Though my palette may not be picky, my wallet definitely is (which bodes well for cheap wines sold in bulk).  So even though I can’t afford nice “vintage” wine (not to mention wouldn’t be aware of the difference), I like to know a little bit about what I’m drinking and what I should be cursing the next morning.  That’s where Alpana comes in…

The youngest Master Sommelier (quite the title, and she didn’t even go to a real college per se but a wine school!), Alpana Singh resides in Chicago, has worked at luxurious restaurant Everest and has written the successful book Alpana Pours: About being a woman, loving wine & having great relationships.  Quite the title and I admit I was skeptical, until Alpana pulled me in with her wit, knowledge, and wine jokes even I could appreciate.

Summer Wine!

Summer Wine!

Though I’m not quite finished with the book (I thought I had lost it for awhile and found it on the shelf, right where it belongs… Who would’a thought?!), I did come across an Alpana article in the Tribune’s “RedEye” today I thought I would share, that’s so relevant on this (finally!) sunny day.

To RedEye and Alpana, hope you don’t mind me copying this article, and my deepest thanks go to you for choosing affordable wines to celebrate the season, so go ahead and pour yourself a glass of sunshine! For more Alpana, visit her blog at http://www.whatwouldalpanadrink.blogspot.com.

Wine faves change with the weather

By: Alpana Singh, April 15, 2009
Alpana Singh

Alpana Singh

People often ask me, “What’s your favorite wine?” While I do have certain preferences, I find that my answer varies according to my mood, which often is dictated by the weather.

During the cool winter months, I tend to comfort myself with rich, full-bodied wines such as cabernet sauvignon or malbec. Their velvety textures envelop me like a warm blanket, and they pair well with cool-weather classics such as pot roast and braised short ribs.

Now that we are beginning to see signs of spring and the weather is beginning to warm up, I’m starting to crave lighter dishes and more refreshing wines to go with them. Lighter-bodied wines that are low on oak and big on flavors of green apples, lemons and stone fruits complement the fresh peas, asparagus, morel mushrooms and leeks I enjoy during spring season. As I grow tired of the cold, I become bored with the big, heavy reds, and my favorites become sauvignon blanc, torrontes, chenin blanc and assyrtiko. The aromas of these lighter varietals lighten my mood as they evoke the essence of spring and warmer days–crisp weather, freshly cut flowers, sprouting lawns and farmer’s market produce. I’ll enjoy these wines until the weather truly begins to warm up, and by then I’ll have a new set of favorites.

While we may not have the ability to control the weather, we can certainly turn to these styles of wine to put a little sunshine in our glass.

2007 Alamos torrontes
Argentina, $12
Torrontes is an Argentine specialty. With its exotically perfumed notes of white flowers and peaches, it’s a wonderful match for asparagus or your first outdoor meal of the season.

2008 Graham Beck chenin blanc
South Africa, $15
The French use chenin blanc to make slightly sweet vouvray wine. South Africans, who refer to chenin as steen, prefer a drier version with flavors of yellow apples and honeysuckle. Pair with morel mushrooms and asparagus or a tangy wedge of goat cheese.

2008 Brander sauvignon blanc
Santa Ynez, Calif.; $15
Vibrant and juicy with flavors of grapefruit, lemon zest and freshly cut grass, this selection is more in line with a New Zealand style than a California one. Pair it with a spring pea risotto for the ultimate ode to spring.

2008 Sigalas assyrtiko
Santorini, Greece; $18
Fans of crisp Italian whites will enjoy the refreshing zing of assyrtiko, an ancient Greek varietal indigenous to the island of Santorini. Winemaker Paris Sigalas produces a style bursting with citrus fruit. Pair with shellfish, grilled fish and Greek-inspired dishes.

Full article here: http://redeye.chicagotribune.com/red-041509-alpana,0,5798755.column

I love MediaBistro.com.  I follow them on Twitter and visit their site daily, scanning their job boards and drooling all over the “Senior Publicist” and “Managing Editor” positions available in NYC, wishing  I were qualified to apply.

In an effort to further expand my repertoire of skills (though unfortunately still far below CEO level), I have signed up for MediaBistro’s “Copywriting Essentials” class taking place in Chicago on Wednesday, April 29.   With the subtitle “Write marketing and branding copy that sells in a lucrative market”, I hope to learn skills that will make me more capable of branding a book or an author as a product; a commodity consumers need.

Visit MediaBistro.com for details!

Visit MediaBistro.com for details!

Join me in the class! For details/sign up click this link: http://www.mediabistro.com/courses/cache/crs4472.asp

As a special deal, if you sign up by April 23, 2009 I discovered a promo code (APRIL25)  for 25% off, making this $65 class only $49 (affordable even to an unemployed person like myself!  I’m a little nervous to go on my own and would love the company, so please accept my personal invite and register already.

When I think of a jungle, I imagine a happy place with abundant greenery, tigers roaming the underbrush and monkeys swinging through the massive trees on leafy vines.  Obviously I’ve totally bought into the Disney jungle vision depicted in “Tarzan”.

jungle3I had thought all my imaginings of jungles to be far away from Chicago, thinking I would have to travel by land and sea before reaching one.  Until, that is, I devoured Upton Sinclair’s groundbreaking novel The Jungle.  I hate to even use the word “devour” when discussing this novel, since so much of it deals with contaminated meat, blue milk and inhumane conditions that completely quell any appetite.

The year is 1905, and immigrants scramble to Chicago to begin a new, better life with the promises of secure jobs and wealth within the Stockyards.  Following Lithuanian immigrant Jurgis as he strives to support his new wife, son and her family, it is a true tale of survival that is hard to digest.  From the gruesome work conditions to the utter squalor at home, this is a story based on a truth that was debilitating and deathly to many.

Jurgis begins as an optimistic young man, newly married and naive, yet physically and mentally strong.  In the beginning he embraces his demanding life at the Stockyards, ignorant to the politics and corruption.   As his awareness is raised, his life becomes harder.  Through injury and circumstance, the family’s situation at home worsens, and food and heat are both harder to come by.  While I’m not a fan of Chicago Winters (you should all know how desperately I’m waiting for spring!), I’ve never had to worry about freezing to death stuck in a snowdrift, literally having my ears break off from the cold (poor little Stansilova) or freezing in my sleep.

More than just a bleak story of one poor family, it is a political piece looking at work conditions and the quality of meat packaged for the United States.  Sinclair actually went undercover in Packingtown as the Stockyards were called, so experienced the conditions of the workers and the meat first hand.

“It seemed that they must have agencies all over the country, to hunt out old and crippled and diseased cattle to be canned.  (they would come in) Covered with boils.  It was a nasty job killing these, for when you plunged the knife into them they would burst and splash foul-smelling stuff into your face… It was stuff such as this that made the ’embalmed beef’ that had killed several times as many United States soldiers as all the bullets of the Spaniards…”

In addition to the spoiled meat, Sinclair tells about workers falling into vats, and when they were discovered all that was left of the human is a pile of bones, since every other body part had gone out packaged as Durham’s Pure Leaf Lard (as in, human parts consumed by other people).  Minor injuries often meant death, directly or indirectly through blood disease or no money to buy food.  Never have I appreciated health insurance so much.

As I read this book I questioned if I would have been strong enough to have survived in this time period.  The life depicted is so tough I was depressed while reading it.  It seemed to me the people had very little to live for.  There was no end in sight to their squalor; they weren’t working to get ahead and have time to relax and enjoy their effort, they were working to stay alive.  There as no real home life to speak of, as they were so exhausted from working so long with little nourishment people climbed right into bed upon walking in the door.  As a parent, it’s hard to feel right about sending your child to work the streets or in the factories, knowing they don’t have a future but you need their meager contributions to keep the family alive.  My mom says hope springs eternal, and throughout this book I’m inclined to agree.

I think everyone should read this book.  I wouldn’t even say it’s inspirational exactly, but more a realistic view at how life could be, and how it has been for people in the past and how far we’ve come.  It also may make you chuckle at how germaphobic a society we’ve become, since people survived (of course, many did not) on spoiled milk and infected meat.  I made a point to eat my asparagus that fell off the side of my plate onto the coffee table today, telling myself it will only toughen me up!

jungle-coverMy main complaint is the Socialist rally cry that takes up the last few chapters of this novel.  I understand Sinclair considered himself a Socialist, but I thought the political propaganda could have been discarded and a very strong novel would have remained without any stated biases. Just be sure to not eat canned meat when reading!  Good news though: this book inspired the Pure Food Act passed in 1906, shortly after the book became a success after it’s book publication in February of the same year.

  • NovelWhore’s Grade: A-
  • Title: The Jungle
  • Author: Upton Sinclair
  • Publisher: Doubleday in 1906, originally run as segments in “Appeal to Reason” magazine 1905

BetterWorldBooks.com is a company dedicated to”making the world a better place, one book at a time.”

As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, this is a company from which you can buy used books for as low as 5/$15, with free shipping! As a warning, many of the books are in rather rough condition and contain library markings, but still be proud to display them on your bookshelf since as much as 5-10% of proceeds go directly back to non-profit literacy foundations!

College students, they began as a textbook reseller, so check here for those expensive books as you may find them for $10!

CNN even did a video segment on the company, available here: http://tinyurl.com/dxmrkv

As I finally got around to uploading photos from January to current on Facebook, I realized that 2009 has already been a year to remember (although I don’t look photogenic in any of the moments!).

Yes, it’s true I have joined the ranks of the unemployed, but I’ve also been motivated and inspired to follow my dreams of launching a career in book publishing, started this blog which has become quite an enjoyable hobby, begun to really appreciate Chicago and all it offers, been to my first Bulls game, Cocokey Resort with three of my best friends, had the #1 bracket in my pool as of NOW (sorry, MSU, I bet correctly that UNC would pull off the win), started a volunteer relationship with a worthwhile organization (<3 to you, Open Books), been blessed with a baby nephew, and been lucky enough to have the love, support and enjoyment of a wonderful family and system of friends.

Alright, fine, I may be a little tipsy from watching the pathetic game that MSU just played, but I am thankful for all this year has already brought (I cannot believe Easter is this Sunday – time has flown by) and all it promises in the future.  I hope you all enjoyed my Miller Lite induced ramblings (potentially found some inspiration yourself?), but hopefully this little nugget will serve as a reminder for the important things next time I get frustrated when job searching or waiting for spring to come to  Chicago.

Heading home on the train tomorrow, looking forward to some quality MI time with the family and good books, while curled up in my favorite chair!  Hopefully book reviews to come shortly… Hitting the “publish” button before I can overthink and delete this…

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