Monday, January 9, 2012

American Alligator—A Debut Novel by Peter Schnake

I am BACK after a loooooooong hiatus to bring you some very exciting news: my best friend has finally published his debut novel for Kindle! Get it here for only $0.99! The first chapter is free to sample and I dare you to stop reading there.

Here's what I have to say about it (my official review):

I had the pleasure of receiving American Alligator early for review/edits (so you can blame me for any typos/grammar mistakes you may find) and I can tell you that this little gem stays with you.

In just the first chapter, first-time novelist, Peter Schnake, drops the reader in an unlikely setting and ends it cryptically and provocatively. From there, the momentum of Schnake's debut novel carries the reader swiftly through troubled protagonist Josiah's current state of being while supporting it with memories of his past blessed by brilliance but cursed by circumstance.

Josiah's idiosyncracies make him a complex, sometimes pitiable, but always compelling figure. Though tormented by his own limitations, unique to Josiah's existence is the music which flows unbidden from him to his adoring fans and a woman so deliciously warm and desirous that her very presence works like a panacea on Josiah's wounds.

Schnake's solid plot is infused with poetic themes, rich imagery, and effective metaphors executed in such a way to reward both sophomoric and sophisticated readers alike.

I highly recommend this piece not just as a great debut novel, but as an overall high-acheiving work that I trust will more than likely bring well-deserved praise to a young, but accomplished new novelist.

THANK YOU for taking time to read this and this is my unofficial return to blogging...more to come in the coming month, Lovies! I've missed you so!

Friday, June 17, 2011

It Wouldn't Be Summer Without:

1) A summer blockbuster—make it Super 8 so you can relive the magic of the first time you sat through E.T. or Close Encounters of the Third Kind. When you put the creator of Lost with Spielberg's genius, the result is a film that's as charming as it is suspenseful. Props to both for presenting an alien we haven't seen in theaters yet (as a total alien-movie nerd, I was pretty sure I'd seen them all). Definitely see it in the theater to maximize the suspenseful jumps and nostalgia that will ensue (preferably with a fantastic date to hang on to for the scary parts).

2) Peter and I will be hitting up the farmer's market this weekend with coffee in hand. In the age of bazillions of recipes available online, I can easily justify buying green tomatoes (to be made into fried green tomatoes, of course), jalapeno jam (for glazing salmon), and Japanese eggplant (um...jury's still out). It's actually tradition that I bring home a full Greek meal of soup, spanakopita, dolmadakia, and baklava whenever I go so we'll be reliving that.
The downtown one is getting almost completely outta control—if I want to buy candles, barrettes for a small child, and baked doggie treats I'll go there but Peter and I prefer the low-key, dogs-allowed, granola-eater's market on Sunday morning off of Old Cheney. God love the hippies!
I love to haul home big bouquets of mustard greens, fresh feta from the dairy, multi-colored peppers (purple's my favorite), and spicy radishes. Peter and I always try to out shop the other by finding the most exotic food and though he usually wins, I put up a pretty good fight.

3) Curling up on the couch with an ice-cold limeade(I made up my own concoction by squeezing a pile of fresh limes, making a muddle of basil and sugar water, and adding cucumber slices) and starting a summer read while it's storming outside. This year it's Moby Dick.

4) An art project. I haven't decided what this will be but I'm open to ideas. I have a few possibilities but so far lack the weekend during which to execute them. Last year it was learning how to knit once and for all.

5) Weddings! I luuuuurv weddings, what's not to love? You get to watch two people in love commit to one another forever, followed by food and dancing. The dancing is obviously the best part, but still. I can't get enough of weddings and I'm proud to tell you that it's not b/c I'm taking notes for my own. I'd be very okay if that were a long while off. The only thing I know about my someday wedding is that it will be comfortable, easy going, with the best food ever and lots and lots of dancing. I took this shot during the lovely Leslie Davila's wedding last summer (GREAT wedding) of The Test Nest.

6) Long morning jogs/walk with lots of sweat, long cool shower, and lunch outside with a friend is the perfect way to start any day.

9) Fresh flowers from Daddy's garden (they smell best when they're just brought inside all warm from the sun).

8) Summer music is absolutely one of the sweetest things about summer. Most of these are old, some are new, some are "what's old is new again":

Mumford and Sons — "The Cave"

I can't believe it, Fleet Foxes did it again with — "Helplessness Blues"

Sorry for no video, but this song is the sound of my first summer in San Diego. Totally under celebrated is Jacob Miller's — "Charlie Brown's Lament"

Not sure how new this is, but it's new to me as of this week and I can NOT sit still when that guitar gets goin'! The Wooden Birds — "Two Matchsticks" The vocalist sounds identical to that of Death Cab for Cutie, any relation?

Oh Animal Collective led by Panda Bear's Noah Lennox, you have my heart —"Summertime Clothes" (don't miss "My Girls" and "Brother Sport")

This was summer 2009 for me, The Temper Trap's — "Sweet Disposition" thanks to the movie 500 Days of Summer

Hey Rosetta! — "The New Goodbye"

If you haven't heard of Karmin yet, you have now. I'm a little obsessed with her rendition of "Look at me Now" originally by Chris Brown ft. Lil Wayne, Busta Rhymes

Friday, June 3, 2011

Long Time No Post

I tell others that successful blogs are like pets; if you don't feed them, they die.

The good news is, I don't have a "successful" blog by anyone's standards, I just have a lovely parking spot on the internet for all the books, artists, projects, and ideas that inspire me.

The next project is on hold; I was trying to create some blocks of time that haven't been and continue to be unavailable to me that I need to make it happen but I'm still stoked about it and it will happen, just not right now.

Until then, I'm back and will be posting regularly (at least as regularly as I used to).

Here are some items since I last posted:

1) Read Hunger Games, it's fine, not spectacular but a really easy summer romp. The movie next year should be entertaining though they picked a really odd director for such an action-packed story—Gary Ross, the guy who did Pleasantville (great movie), Big (yeah, the one from the '80s), Seabiscuit, and Dave...we shall see.

2) Reading The Remains of the Day a poor choice to read simultaneously because Ishiguro's prose can easily outsing any other contemporary voice in writing as it is, let alone a tween author. It's a beautiful novel and I'm savoring it but will have to finish it by book club on Monday. I'm hosting and because the book's all about a butler I'm having everyone dress in black and white and I'll be serving a traditional English meal at Meg Manor.

3) I've decided to never buy wrapping paper ever again. I'm just going to buy huge rolls of brown paper and dress them up in creative ways so I can save money and customize each package for the recipient. "Brown paper packages tied up with strings, these are a few of my favorite things..."

4) I plan to photograph Lincoln more this summer than ever before and how can I help myself? The city is dressed up for farmers market, Jazz in June, First Fridays, and all the doors to all my favorite local haunts stand propped open and inviting. I hate the humidity but I love love love summer.

5) I've been cooking a lot more lately and I'm going to be cooking some delectibles from my wonderful friend's blog, The Test Nest. I've also been commissioned to make a new logo for the blog so I'll be working on that very soon—I'm pretty excited. Recent forays into cooking include a white chocolate bread pudding with fresh berry sauce, down-home beef stew with thyme and a whole bottle of shiraz, and strawberry rhubarb pie from scratch.

More later but for now that's what I've got. If, and I don't flatter myself that there are probably more than two of you, you followed my blog up until I stopped posting there for a while, my apologies and thanks for hangin' tight!

Friday, April 15, 2011


I have decided on a new project.

As the title of this post indicates, it's called ONEinSEVENforSIX. It's a lot different from the last one.

Details soon.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spring Reading

Delicious thunderstorm outside today—the kind where the sky provides a dark blue backdrop to the budding trees whose new leaves look almost neon green and the pink buds fuchsia; thunder growls and lightning answers in broad flashes.

If I weren't at work now, I'd be in bed, resting a hot mug of coffee on my sternum and using the other hand to hold up one of the following books against my knees (I'm currently reading/starting the following books):

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance: A Memoir —Elna Baker

This book is like the Mormon answer to Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz, only cheekier. I haven't laughed out loud at a book in a long time but Baker has cracked me up multiple times with her funny memoir. A lovely little chick lit romp (but it's a memoir so it's okay).

This Is Where I Leave You —Jonathan Tropper
Don't know, haven't started it but I'm very excited about this dysfunctional family dramedy. And it already has two things going for it: it starts with a sex scene (so my other book clubbers have told me—I think they were trying to warn me as I'm perceived as the most naive member of the group (rightly so)) and I like the cover design.

The Orthodox Heretic: And Other Impossible Tales —Peter Rollins

Peter Rollins' talks have been rocking my world. He's a self-termed pyrotheologian promoting the idea that what we need is more doubters of God and fewer believers of God. He makes the point that one can fill stadiums with "believers" but getting people to doubt and ask intelligent questions about their faith rather than following their feelings is what will fortify and grow individual and corporate faith. Anyway, this is a tiny book of parables he wrote and I've only read one so far and I plan to read them slowly (which he encourages in the introduction of the book).

The Holiness of God —R.C. Sproul

Mum made me read a chapter out loud to her the other day. I had just used three curse words during a work vent and I think she was worried about the well being of my soul. I flipped through the chapter and saw that it was a good 15 pages. I said "no way, we'll read a few pages then you can read the rest yourself." Fifteen pages later I set the book down and told her "we should do this more often." I forgot how much I appreciate Sproul's noncondescending take on theology and how much he crams into a page. Plus, discussing faith with my Mum is the best. She brings the angsty 20-something feelings I have together with her years of study and wisdom to make for great discussion.

Moby Dick —Herman Melville
Harry selected this read and we're both going to read it before the end of 2011.
I'm going to finish it first.
That's not saying much though because he basically reads as many pages (600+) easily in a week or two of studying philosophy so I have a clear advantage. We'll see how far it gets me. But can I just say that it's hot to have a boyfriend who suggests we tackle classic literature together?

Disappointment with God —Philip Yancey
A.K.A. most depressing title of a book ever. However, this book is asking three questions that have tortured me for some time:
Is God unfair?
Is God silent?
Is God hidden?
Yancey doesn't sooth with platitudes, misapplied Bible verses, or "remember that time when God was nice to you? That's how you know he's fair, present, and listening..." Rather, Yancey intelligently and critically addresses the three questions above and doesn't ask the reader to agree with him necessarily. He asserts himself confidently through his writing but gives you that lovely author-to-reader trust that says "so there you have it, take it or leave it but thanks for listening."

I also have The Help and The Hunger Games on my bed stand since I'm not above purchasing these books under the pretense that they're for Mom then adopting them as my own once she's read them. The one good thing about popular fiction is that it's fun to share them at the office, among friends, etc.

Read on and feel free to ask for or give recommendations.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Postcard Project: DONE! (No Foolin')

THE GOAL—Send 50 cards in 100 days to 50 different people

THE DEADLINE—June 6, 2011, but finished 65 days early, April 1


TOTAL COST—$14.00 in postage

HOW DO I GET ONE?—You blew it. You can't get one now.
Actually, if still you want a postcard I'll be happy send you one, e-mail me your address at and I'll hook you up—I have some left over cards anyway.

CONCLUSION: I have a new appreciation for postcards. I like that there's no place for a return address on a postcard thus removing the obligation of responding to the sender.
I was very pleasantly surprised to receive some mail in return for the postcards! I didn't expect that and I received about five cards/postcards myself which was pretty great. Thank you, you know who you are!

WHAT NEXT?: Still considering some ideas. The rules are that the next project has to 1) benefit others in some way, 2) be realistic, and 3) be something that costs me effort and/or challenges me in some way. I'm going to take a little break, maybe for a week or so but you'll hear what I've got up my sleeve after that. I know millions are waiting with baited breath so I'll not dally too long.

Thanks to anyone following this project and for receiving my silly little postcards!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Postcard Project: Update #4

There have been 39 postcards sent (only 11 left!) and 68 days to go.

Lately, I've been contemplating doubling the number of postcards I send out. Could I send 100 postcards instead of 50? It would still have to be one postcard per acquaintance so I'd have to think of a lot more people to send to or receive more requests.

Let me know if you would like one at or in the comments below.

NEXT PROJECT: No hints yet other than to say it will be more intense than The Postcard Project. I am taking suggestions.