Tag Archives: picky girl

#fridayreads take me away

30th June 2011

#fridayreads take me away is a weekly meme to celebrate the start of the weekend and the glorious day of reading whatever the heck you want. I’d love for you to join!

What is Friday Reads/#fridayreads? Readers around the world join together in community to support one another and celebrate the simple joys of reading. Readers can win prizes for participating commenting on the Friday Reads blog, the Facebook page, or tweeting your book with the #fridayreads hashtag.

What is #fridayreadstake me away? It is a new meme for readers/bloggers. I have noticed different readers/ bloggers apologize for a certain book or phase of reading. I say, read. Period. Whether it’s a magazine you’ve saved up for Friday afternoon or evening or a mystery, romance novel, sci-fi, bodice ripper, or New York Times bestseller, Friday is about doing what we love most: reading.

How does it work?

-Figure out what your Friday/weekend read will be

-Blog about why it’s perfect weekend reading and why you recommend it

-Grab my button and add it to your post

-Come back and add your URL to the Simply Linked URL box

-Visit participating blogs to see what they recommend

-Enjoy your weekend

What if I don’t have a blog?

Tell me what you’re reading anyway. Let me know if you need a great suggestion. I’m full of them, and I’m bossy, as are a lot of other people around these parts. 🙂


**psst – tell your friends about #fridayreads take me away. if we can get enough participants, i plan on doing a giveaway. a hint: it’s something simple…

Audiobook review: And Then There Were None

30th June 2011

*You can purchase the audio from Audible or the print version from Indiebound.

Ten little Indian boys went out to dine;

One choked his little self and then there were nine.

Nine little Indian boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were eight.
Eight little Indian boys travelling in Devon;
One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.
Seven little Indian boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in half and then there were six.
Six little Indian boys playing with a hive;
A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.
Five little Indian boys going in for law;
One got in Chancery and then there were four.
Four little Indian boys going out to sea;
A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.
Three little Indian boys walking in the zoo;
A big bear hugged one and then there were two.
Two Little Indian boys sitting in the sun;
One got frizzled up and then there was one.

One little Indian boy left all alone;

He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.

Ah, folk songs and nursery rhymes. So sweet. So simple. So nice to fall asleep to… Wait, no they’re actually not. Ten people die in the one above – and pretty nastily, might I add. Jack and Jill and Humpty Dumpty – well, we know what happens to them. Rough stuff, peeps. Best not to think about it.

Agatha Christie, though, oh ho, she thought about it, and the rhyme above now scares the pants off me, thankyouverymuch. You see, ten people, introduced in the first chapters of the book, are all heading to Indian Island, under very different pretenses. Invitations to see old friends, offers of employ, and free vacations to check out a new place have all been issued to lure these particular guests. Yet, when all the guests arrive at the house on Indian Island, no hosts are present. Instead, each guest has a room with the above nursery rhyme hung on the wall, and there are ten little china Indian figurines centered on the dining room table…until they begin disappearing as rapidly as the guests die off.

And that, my friends, is how to set the scene. No one else is on the island, and there is no hope of getting off it, leaving the ten people to think about just what they did to land themselves in such a deadly predicament, each hoping against hope he or she will be the one to survive. [insert scary echoing laugh here.]

I listened to this on audiobook as a way to get myself to the gym. Not only did I go to the gym, I stayed on the machine much longer than normal then decided to return to lay out by the pool and listen. I have read a lot of mysteries in my time, so I kept waiting for the moment when I would figure out the identity of the murderer. Not gonna happen. Not only did I not guess, but I was blown away by the ending of this book and listened to it a couple of times in disbelief that my mystery-genius-ness failed me. And Hugh Fraser? He was excellent in keeping the characters separate without driving me crazy with different pitches. It’s difficult to describe, but he gave each character a slightly unique inflection while still not disrupting the flow of the reading. I have already added some of Hugh Fraser’s other narrations to my wish list on Audible.com.

I know some of you out there are big Agatha Christie fans. I read several in high school, but it was a pretty (cough cough) long time ago. Any recommendations on which I just have to read next? And have audiobooks made you do anything out of character recently? After all, it’s the last day of June, which IS Audiobook Month…

jenn aka the picky girl




The Picky Girl’s (Brief) Guide to Feed Readers

29th June 2011

RSS, Google Reader, what the whaaaa? If you don’t have a blog, you may wonder: What the heck IS a feed reader? There are a bunch of buttons to the right of this post, giving option for readers to follow the blog (and I’d love it if you did), but I also know all those buttons can be confusing if you don’t get what they mean.  So I thought I’d do a short primer on feed readers.

But first, why would you want to follow a blog[s]?

If you don’t have a blog, you might just like finding sites randomly. I did that when I first started blogging. I bookmarked what felt like a zillion different sites and visited each when I could.  Also, you can click the little “mail” icon over in the sidebar and sign up to get emails when the blog updates, but if you follow a lot of blogs or hate email like I do (unless it’s your blog comments), do you really want your email clogged like that?

Choosing to follow a blog is not a huge commitment. You can unfollow relatively easily, but following a blog means you are taking part in a conversation – which is why bloggers love getting comments when you want to join in.

Plus, what if you see a really great idea for your kitchen cabinets, or a good book you want to remember, or a vacation spot with tips to get good deals? Do you want to chance losing that information?

Using a feed reader can help in all these situations.

A feed reader essentially streamlines the “bookmark” process I described above. You input information into the feed reader (either the URL or site name), and it pulls new posts from the blogs/sites you follow…automatically. You can “like” or “favorite” posts you want to remember. You can even organize the different sites based on category. That way, if there is one category you only want to check periodically, it won’t show up in your daily stream.

How do I find blogs?

You’ll notice at the top of this page a menu bar. One of those pages is named “Blogs I Follow.” Unfortunately, it’s not 100% accurate as I add blogs weekly, but it’s a good place to start. Find a blog you like, then figure out where their blogroll (list of blogs they read) is. Keep clicking and while away a few hours. Or ask me. Maybe you don’t like the kinds of books I do but still want good recommendations. You can also check the Book Blogger Directory for that.

So why all the options with feed readers?

Come on, look at how many cell phone options there are; we lurv having options. Some people like the ultra-techie options. Others (like me) want it to look pretty and be easy to handle.

Below are some of the most popular feed readers, and if you don’t use a feed reader already, I hope this helps you in some way. I really enjoy being able to get on the computer and find all my sites in one place.

Google Reader







Benefits: Very organized with lots of data and ways to sort that data. If you have a gmail account, you already have access to Reader. It’s in the top toolbar on the left when you log in to your account.

Drawbacks: It’s not very attractive and doesn’t really show you the “personality” of each blog – one of my favorite parts of blogging. Also, you have to use a plug-in (whaaa?) to be able to comment on a blog from Google Reader.

Why I stopped using it: It worked, but I didn’t love it. I commented less because it wasn’t simple. I didn’t like the boring “RSS” font. [Insert random “picky” joke here.] Once I discovered there were others out there, I jumped ship relatively quickly.


Feedly (I am considering using feedly because of some of the extras)








Benefits: Powered by Google Reader, so you have the same data/support Google gives to all its products, and same goes for if you already have a gmail account. Has an app. Easy to share posts through Twitter or on your Facebook account, directly from the site. Also, aesthetically pleasing with links opening in a new window. The beauty of this is you can actually see the website.

Drawbacks: Must be installed on your computer. This could be viewed as a benefit because you can instantly add a site to feedly; however, this isn’t easily accessible from all computers – say your work computer when you need a 15-minute break.

Feed Demon








Benefits: One of the most popular feed readers out there. Simple customization but more similar to Google Reader – very technical, not so attractive.

Drawbacks: Again, must be downloaded. If you’re not a techie, there are LOTS of different tools you may not need and that may inhibit your viewing.








Benefits: Simplicity. Aesthetically pleasing. (I’ll be honest, this is the feed reader I currently use.) No installation. Just log on to see your favorite sites. Easily customizable. I get an image from the post on the right, and if I click on the link, it takes me directly to the site in a new window. Love. It. (And no, they don’t pay me to say that).

Drawbacks: Few bells and whistles. If you are used to mass data and organization options, this won’t be your feed.


Hope this helps! And if you know of any readers I didn’t mention, please add them in comments with why you like it.

jenn aka the picky girl

#fridayreads take me away

15th April 2011


#fridayreads take me away is a weekly meme to celebrate the start of the weekend and the glorious day of reading whatever the heck you want. Want to know more? Read the original post where I explain why you should join in with what you read on the weekend. Want to write your own post? *Steal* my button. Have your own #fridayreads take me away post? Link up below! Happy reading.

This will probably be a familiar theme, but until classes are over and the last grade is assigned, this picky girl is going to be a basket case. Too much to do, too little time (though look for a post next week about teaching Persepolis and what I’ve learned). I’m trying to remember that I don’t absolutely have to have grades back to students within a week (they want them the day after they’ve turned in an assignment) and that I should try and have some sort of life for the last 12 days I am 29. That’s right folks. Only one more #fridayreads take me away post before I’m the big three-oh. So, where were we? Oh yeah.

This week I’m recommending you read… (drumroll please)

M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series. Any book really. I had never really read a “cozy” mystery until this past fall, but my mom really enjoys them. I picked up the first Agatha Raisin when it was cool and rainy outside and haven’t looked back. They’re light fare, that’s for sure, but who wants more than that on a Friday afternoon? Not me. Agatha is middle aged, divorced, and a bit bored. She has bought a house in Carsley, a small hamlet where the ladies, however friendly, call one another by surnames only and tea is mandatory (though often deadly). Agatha is also in the habit of poking her nose where it doesn’t belong, and too often that ends up in a hairy, hilarious situation.

The other great aspect of the Agatha Raisin series is that, unlike some series, there is really no need to read them in order. They are short, not too sweet, but definitely fun. Agatha’s antics tickle the back of the neck of this feminist, but I quickly get over it and just enjoy the ride in the lazy little town Agatha has made home.


And speaking of lazy….all I plan on reading today is this:

Isn’t that the most beautiful cover? Maybe it’s simply that I am craving all that energy the cover talks about, but when I got home from a really horrible day Thursday, this cover made me want to break into song and dance, run through the grass barefoot and drink lemonade. I need some “me” time, and I can’t promise I won’t be in a pedicure chair when I flip through this – cover to cover.

So…whaddya think? Doesn’t reading while having a pedi sound like the best kind of #fridayreads take me away? What will you be doing/reading to ease the stress of the week?

jenn aka the picky girl

The Picky Girl RAVES about The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

7th March 2011

“Murder, Madness, and Magic at the Fair That Changed America”


So let me just be honest here: This book was amazing. Just flat-out amazing. There were things I didn’t love, but there was so much about it that was phenomenal that the other is certainly negligible in terms of the overall effect.

The Devil in the White City is about The World’s Exposition in Chicago in 1893 and everything leading up to it. The previous exposition had elicited excitement never before seen, and the Eiffel Tower was considered to be the epitome of man’s progress at that time. As the book puts it, the States had to “Out-Eiffel Eiffel.” Chicago wins the bid, and the men and women involved in the project begin a mad dash toward an all-but-impossible deadline. Larsen juxtaposes the architects’ plans and struggles with a serial killer operating at the time, Dr. H.H. Holmes (whose aliases are too numerous to mention here). It is a very odd mashup, and he explains in the notes that “the juxtaposition of pride and unfathomed evil struck [him] as offering powerful insights into the nature of men and their ambitions.” Eh, it didn’t work for me. I certainly see the fascination, but to me, the exposition and its creators were far more interesting.

As Larsen follows Chicago’s bid and then the exposition’s creation and completion, he points out small details, keeping me hooked. The White City (named so because all the buildings were painted white) stood as a land of promise against the dark background of Chicago, with its filth and soot. The possibility held within the confines of the exposition were so overwhelming people would sob upon viewing the White City, and many were depressed after its closing, knowing they had seen the most amazing sight in their lifetime.

I don’t want to give away any of the magic moments of this book, but it sure has them. The inventions and innovation were unbelievable, and I had to Google them several times (even though I knew this was nonfiction) to find out more. It is truly incredible what and who this short period of time spawned.

If you’ve read this, what did you think? Does anyone know of any other nonfiction about the Exposition or any fictional accounts? I’d love to delve deeper here.

Read this one: immediately / asap / when you get a chance / if you’re bored

jenn aka the picky girl