Delta: Literary Punch Line

DeltaI couldn’t let more time go by without posting about Delta (I know, you’re just wondering why I let so much time go by without posting at all)…(wait, that’s assuming you actually care when/if I post)… (daring assumption)…(daring over-use of multiple parentheses)… But back to Delta.

Yes, Delta. Just when you thought it was safe to open those over-head bins, another snafu by the airline comes tumbling into your aisle seat. In this case, it came in the form of art imitating life. Now using “air travel” — and specifically Delta — in the same sentence with “art” solicits arguments of its own, but this occasion was just too perfect.

Jacket Image SILKEN PREYI recently finished “Silken Prey,” a crime thriller by John Sanford, which I enjoyed. But what I enjoyed more, was this excerpt from Chapter 20… The protagonist sent a colleague to Albuquerque, NM, to do some recon, and knowing the man should actually be on a plane, but finding him here at his kitchen table, broached the topic:

“How was Albuquerque?”

“You got me a ticket on Delta. What do you think happened?”

“The plane broke?”

“Exactly. They’re bringing another one from Chicago. Revised departure time is 10 PM, assuming that the replacement plane makes it this far. They’re probably bringing it on a truck.”

Beautiful. Just beautiful. Delta Airlines has become so synonymous with poor customer service, flight cancellations, and maintenance issues, that it’s become a target for humorous dialog  in pop culture crime fiction. And given the 4 hours I spent at O’Hare in Chicago last week waiting for a flight to Minneapolis, I’m inclined to agree. And laugh. Now, if we could all just bank Sky Miles for the hours we have to spend waiting in terminals courtesy of Delta, we’d all have Platinum Status by now!

Just for fun, let’s take a poll… 

Online Library Hours: 24/7

I’m going to pretend I’ve been blogging all along… consistent, riveting entries weekly… you do the same. Please. Thank you. However, while I may not have been blogging, I HAVE been reading. So here’s the latest and greatest Newbold library of reads and don’t reads:

MUST READ:

  • Gone — Cathi Hanauer (Interesting premise, quick read, easily relatable to all of us in our mid-life relationships and marriages)
  • Odd Interludes 1, 2 & 3 — Dean Koontz (Loved this “installment” approach; Odd is still my FAVORITE Dean Koontz character of all time; multi-dimensional, full of humor, and so loveable; how he mixes that into the horror/sci fi, well, that’s why he’s Dean Koontz)
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter — Seth Grahame-Smith (If you’re looking for a mix of Lincoln history with a wonderfully strange twist, this is your book)
  • The Kitchen House — Kathleen Grissom (Fictional, but based in history; slave/owner story lines interwoven with indentured servitude; well-developed characters)
  • A Discovery of Witches — Deborah Harkness (A new twist on the supernatural for me; this is the first in a new series, and I’m already looking forward to the next book)
  • The Lifeboat — Charlotte Rogan (Love any shipwreck/ship accident survival theme — and you all know why — but this takes place at the turn of the last century and deals solely in feminine power and survival among men; very interesting read)

READ IF YOU ARE BORED or ON A PLANE:

  • The Vampire King — Heather Killough-Walden (She’s good, but the story line is predictable)
  • The Phantom King — Heather Killough-Walden (She’s good,  but the story line is predictable)
  • The Killing Floor — Lee Child (fairly hard core on the gruesome side, even for Lee Child)
  • The Innocent — David Baldacci (just right, but just not enough to warrant a “must read”)
  • Cry Wolf — Patricia Briggs (If you need a quick shape-shifting fix, this may be it)
  • Fair Game — Patricia Briggs (If you need a quick shape-shifting fix, this may be it)
  • Hunting Ground — Patricia Briggs (If yo uneed a quick shape-shifting fix, this may be it)

DON’T READ:

  • Micro — Michael Crighton/Richard Preston (A post-humous dis-service; leave this one on the shelf; ludicrous)
  • Kiss The Dead — Laurell K. Hamilton (Boring, formulaic, nothing new, sleeper, why bother)
  • Deadlocked — Charlaine Harris (Boring, formulaic, nothing new, sleeper, why bother)

 

My Book Crusade

Raymond Khoury

While you may think that Dan Brown has the corner on the religious adventure genre (and yes, I may have just made up that genre), Raymond Khoury actually cranks it up a notch with his take on the Crusades. He blends drama, mystery, early Christianity and the Knights Templar,  and modern agnosticism into the perfect read. And the way he weaves historical data into a story to challenge whatever your personal belief system might be with a whole lot of “what ifs” kept me coming back for more. I downloaded all four of his novels and just kept reading one after another. I guess I found my religion? Check them out at your leisure. Definitely worth it.

4-Day Weekend, 7-Book Paradise

I took an extra day off this holiday weekend, and am absolutely loving it. As we speak, I’m blogging from a Caribou coffee house. Yes, you heard me. Caribou. Not Starbucks. I know, but the Minnesota conversion is happening. I can’t stop it. And the coffee is good!

So, I’ve been buried in literature and not-so-literature over the weekend. Here’s my reading list… Somehow, they all have a thread of canine love woven throughout… It was not my intent,  but was my reality. Enjoy!

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle — A beautifully written novel. Just stunning. As an animal lover and a dog owner, the story was even more poignant for me. I found myself tied more closely to the story line, simply by having watched Daphne in her last years of life, and Samson and Chloe in their puppy years. But the real connection here is the way David Wroblewski weaves human drama and trauma across his characters, all joined by the breeding of a particular type of dog, is riveting. The story centers on a tight-knit family of three (including a mute teenage son), their own breed of dogs (which strives for intelligence, reasoning and emotion, rather than physical perfection), and an extended family of characters that are related through both bloodlines and business. It’s haunting, yes, but just beautiful.

Every Demon Has Its Day — This was a borrow from Chris, and written by Cara Lockwood. It’s a cute, amusing, and an incredibly fast read. What it lacks in depth, it makes up for in imagination. Modern day battles of good and evil — with evil lurking where else but the local DMV, my fav — that deals with believers and non-believers, a talking French Bulldog, a reluctant and less-than-skilled prophet, and a clumsy ghost of an ex-husband who gets murdered by a balding demon to kick the story off. It’s really quite a cute little story with a lot of whimsical dialog.

Heroic Measures — Another borrow from Chris, this little novel packs a punch. Jill Ciment sets the novel on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and weaves in an aging Jewish couple putting their 5-floor walk-up on the market. It sounds a little bland until the author weaves in a bomb scare in the Midtown Tunnel, a back injury on their 12-year old Dachshund that requires surgery, and a bidding war on their apartment and the one they want to buy — all in the span of two days. The couple is adorable, and the view of Manhattan and its take on terrorists, the real estate market, and pets through their eyes is perfect.

Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter (books VI – VIII) — Cut me some slack. And yes, I also have David Archuletta on my iPod. Shut up. But I love this little series. It was written well before any of the more recent Twilight or True Blood series, and has enjoyed a cult following of its own for years. The series is set in the 1980’s, and every time Laurell K. Hamilton describes one of Anita’s outfits, I swear someone I worked with at Disney wore it — right down to the high top Reeboks and baggy socks. Love it. You’re wondering where the canine thread flows through this book? Her romantic interest is a werewolf, of course.

Dead in the Family — Charlaine Harris’ latest Sookie Stackhouse novel didn’t glue me to my seat, but it did entertain me. I think I waited so long for it, that when it hit the shelves, I just blew through it. I knew all of the characters, was waiting for something new to be introduced, and kind of guessed where it was going before it got there. I won’t say I didn’t enjoy it, but I will say it didn’t wow me. And I wanted it to. Bummer. Guess I’ll have to see what they do to the series on latest season HBO, right?

For the Love of Baseball

Photo courtesy of treehugger.com

And I mean that in a good way. Maybe it’s living a block away from the beautiful Target Field. Maybe it’s watching thousands of Twins fans head to the stadium nearly every night. Maybe it’s the fact that even when we turn out the lights, the stadium lights reflect off neighboring buildings through our windows. I don’t know, but I’m feeling the love of baseball. And yes, we have tickets to a Yankees/Twins game in early August. And we’re psyched about it. But back to the baseball love…

I was at drinks with my department last night, and we were sparring about the fact that all the women had gone to see “Sex in the City II,” recently, and didn’t invite us. So, we were discussing what us guys were going to do without them, to get them back. And somehow the fact that we had books written by my brother came about. And then I had to explain that my brother Bruce had written a book about fantasy baseball — but in the literal sense (you have to read it to figure that one out) — and the guys wondered why the CEO and Executive Creative Director (at our table, too) had copies, but none of them did. Um, let’s think about that. Who signs my paycheck? No, really, I shared the book with them as plane fare during our interview process, knowing how much they travel and how often they might be grounded on tarmacs due to storms. But back to the real story…

I decided to give away some copies of the book — The Baseball Box Prophecy —  to they guys I work with, and some other guys around Minneapolis (I told you I was feeling the love… and yes, Bruce, I paid for them. Your publisher will be happy.) with the caveat that when they finish the book, they have to immediately pass it on to another baseball lover or dreamer — someone who will enjoy it as much as they did. And in the front of each book, I wrote a note to every reader, asking them to keep the prophecy alive by sharing the book, and to email me every time the book got passed along. If it takes off, it should prove fairly interesting and fun to see how many other notes get written in the book and how many emails I get from people who read this blog — and have read the book — and do the same. All for the love of baseball!

Hooked on my Nook!

I won’t take credit for it, but I did it. I bought a Nook. Blame it on Chris. If it’s efficient, effective, and evocative and even remotely technological, blame it on Chris. He had purchased one a while back and kept raving about it. I wasn’t quite sold because I love the page turning, book store-browsing, and book marking associated with books and literature. But I thought I’d give it a shot by starting out with Nook training wheels: the Barnes & Noble eReader.

The eReader is basically the technology of the Nook, but lives on your PC, laptop or smart phone. You download a book, and can access it on any, every device in your home, office, or backpack. I started getting into it, and must admit that it was secretly fun to open it up on my PC at work, pull up a book, and pretend I was reviewing a document on occasion. I also loved pulling it up on my iPhone while on the subway to work. However, I did have issues with it at night before bed — not due to the technology, but because I always fall asleep when I read. Falling a sleep with a $1,200 Apple computer on your lap isn’t the smartest thing in the world, you know? And yes, I did it enough times to panic. Kind of like when you fall asleep at the wheel and wake up with that surge of adrenalin that blasts through your body… Or maybe it was just the crusty look from Chris as he grabbed it to keep it from falling… Either way, I knew it was time to move to the real deal: The Nook.

The thing I really like about the Nook, is that Chris and I can loan each other books for free, immediately. If I finish a book on the way to work, I can email him, and he can loan me one from his library. I open up my Nook, find the new book, download it, and start reading. We can also purchase books at incredibly reduced rates — $6.99 for paperbacks. We read like fiends around here, so being able to purchase books so cheaply is a very good thing.

So, yet again, Chris pushes me into the bold new world of technology… or at least the reading nook of it.

Batter Up: Son No. 6… Enough About Me

… Enough about me. Let’s talk about the book. You may remember my initial angst about reading The Baseball Box Prophecy. My initial post on the subject made that rather clear. But a few chapters into the book and I was over the angst. I was hooked. And I liked it. You can see from the rest of my posts that it provided great fodder for poking fun at my own history with the sport of baseball.

What I haven’t discussed yet is the fantasy and supernatural aspect of the story that kept me intrigued, involved and reading a 500+ page novel about a sport that tormented my life, pre- and post-adolescence. And I won’t. Because that would give it all away. It would be like going to the first Star Wars movie and having the kid next to you tell you that Darth Vadar was Luke’s dad. Bummer. But I will tell you that the manipulation of time and altered realities in The Baseball Box Prophecy is hugely fun and what kept me coming back for more. If you’ve read any of my other posts re: book recommendations, you’ll already have expected that. The supernatural genre is a favorite of mine. Altered states of reality are the best — always such an adventure. You’re talking to someone who remembers every flying dream he’s ever had in vivid detail, and longs for more. But you’re also talking to someone who vacillated between wanting to be a werewolf or a vampire his entire childhood (loved the wolf thing, but needed the flying powers of the vamp).

Son No. 3: Bruce Newbold

What makes the fantasy elements in this book intriguing is that Bruce weaves an innocence into a coming of age story to provide a connection point to readers of multiple ages. If you’re a little old and jaded, (Read: Alan) then the story lets you travel through your own time to the moments when you were a little less so and relive them a bit from a friendly distance. If you are a kid now, living and breathing tween and teen years, then you connect immediately to your love of the game, and your secret hope that something fantastical is waiting for you on your bike, in the back yard or on the ball field. Either way, it doesn’t let you down.

Thanks for the book, Bruce. Congrats! I’m so proud of you and can’t wait to see where this leads. And now, of course, my PR mind is just whirling with ways to drive word-of-mouth and sales… Book drops to national sports anchors with tween and teen sons/daughters? Daddy blog tour as “the book to be reading to your kids”? Facebook apps/games/quizzes — Which character are you: The Hag, Cletis, Elston, Roberta? Inexpensive online ad buys on fantasy baseball sites? Radio Disney interviews? Nickelodeon or Disney channel partnership and online giveaway? Search Engine Optimization and Google Ads? Ah, so much fun just thinking about it…