Sunday, August 30, 2009

Zombies Exist (or at least they will)

The Walking Dead by Kirkman and Moore

We have all asked ourselves the simple question:

Well, for Kirkman and Moore it’s simple. They don’t know. Because our main character simply wakes from a coma in a deserted hospital and begins his new life in the zombie-filled new age. (Yes, exactly like in the movie 28 Days Later) As much as I’m quick to dismiss the situational zombie clich├ęs, there are interactions and situations you’ve never considered. As a zombie survivalist, you’ll be pleased to know that our hero is almost a joy to follow. He makes all the right decisions and seems relatively sane. His adventure takes us to the survivors who have set up barracks and mini-societies. While the situation isn’t new, the human interactions are what drive this series. Infidelity, danger, and fear for the children are the true issues in the books as well as, of course, survival.

I give it a 3.999/5

<3 Nicole

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Y: The Last Man

Imagine a fine day in which every human is simply going along with business as usual when suddenly... all the men on the planet, animals included, suddenly start coughing up blood and die.

You might be wondering, is this some wacky dream you had, Nicole?

Y: THE LAST MAN by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra

...and as if gang of new 'Amazons' burning down the sperm banks and whats left of the government having cat fights wasn't enough excitement for you there is of course, a lone survivor.
From bra scoffing lesbians to all the men who get told, "not even if you were the last man on earth..." you will love this book because, in short, it is awesome.

I give it 4.5/5

<3 Nicole

PS. Here is my personal book blog where you can follow up on all the books I've read and how I feel about them!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Julie & Julia Essay Contest Winner!

While choosing just one of the great essays we received for our Julie & Julia Essay Contest proved to be difficult, we finally have a winner!

Congratulations to Anna Deligio from Louisville, Colorado!

Anna's essay can be read on our website as well as below:

It has been suggested by some that I am flakey. There are those who will hint at and murmur ideas that I am a woman easily swayed by her environment, a woman who flits from career to career, lifestyle to lifestyle with little conviction and no discernable plan. There are some who, lacking either the curiosity with which I move through the world or the strength of character needed to direct their judgment towards their own lives, will raise eyebrows and exhale dramatically when I share the details of my next career move, geographical move, relationship change, or educational pursuit.

And, yes – certainly – with degrees in Art History, Special Education, and Social Work, former addresses in Denver, San Antonio, and Tucson, careers that include, but are not limited to, free-lance writing, working in a bookstore, waitressing, case managing, teaching, community organizing, and census taking, and orientations that have moved from straight to lesbian to bi and back to lesbian, one could make the case that I have wiled away a good many of my nearly 36 years with little to show for it save for a relationship with the Direct Student Loans office that will endure for decades. Weaker cases have been won in court, it’s true.

Despite my bold talk of curiosity and whimsy, this judgment does not fall without impact. Many a dark moment for me is shrouded in questions about my plans, wonderings about if I will ever just have an established career, a permanent address, or a resume that doesn’t take elaborate stories to connect the pieces from one entry in Experience to the next. Sometimes, in these dark nights, I try to convince myself that I need to just settle down and get on with the drudgery of life. I question every choice I’ve made and try to wedge myself down into a pre-cast mold of home ownership, 30 years in a career, a couple of kids, two-week vacations, and dismal weeks punctuated by a TGIF mentality.

It was during one of these dark, between-career times – one of these moments when I was trying to decide which part of my soul could be amputated so that I could fit in the jobs listed in the newspaper – that I ran across an article in the New York Times about a new movie being shot involving Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. I loved them both, so ignored what appeared to be a chick-flick narrative and clicked on the story link for more information. I read about Julie Powell, I read about Julia Child, I learned of the book, and I felt that familiar spark of inspiration bounce off the dark cavern walls currently holding my soul. A quick trip to the library and one week later found me finishing the book and lit up about my next project.

Unlike previous bouts of inspirational movement, this one was not going to impact my job search, residence, education, or relationship. Unlike previous moments of divine spark, this project was not going to be boundless and lacking discernable direction. This project was going to last for one year. It was going to involve a daily activity. It was going to be publicly accountable. I was 34 at the time, which put me past Julie Powell, but well within Julia Child’s timeframe to find myself some recognizable rhythm and create a thread that pulled me through to steady.
And so I did. For one year, I created a collage that reflected my day, complete with an image of the Virgen of Guadalupe, on 4x4 ceramic tiles. For one year, I wrote a blog about these tiles, creating a public circle of support and accountability for my latest project. When we traveled during the year, I packed the materials to create tiles on the road (only giving up two bottles of Mod Podge to TSA the whole time). When we camped, I created tiles by lantern light on the sloped, splintered picnic table at our site. On the rare nights that I hit my bed exhausted without having done a tile, I dragged myself out to create the tile for the day.

That year ended this past May 21st. And still I “make a Virgen” each night before bed. And still I blog about those Virgens. Not wanting 365 more small ceramic tiles in need of storage, I moved from ceramic tiles to a journal, but otherwise continue. In retrospect, this project pulled together some of my more disparate but interesting pieces and wove them into something tangible. I’ve always loved to write, but was never able to keep finger to keyboard with any consistency. The Virgen tiles had been something I made as gifts for friends for a few years, but were just another moment of art that I enjoyed but didn’t feel like I could or should do regularly because I should be doing something more lucrative and productive.

Unlike either Julie or Julia, my project has not resulted in fame or fortune. I could identify every one of my blog readers in a lineup, and despite the blogging about them, the tiles are personal and don’t benefit any outside of my head. Those dramatic exhalers with raised brow mentioned earlier might take this opportunity to say then that this project, like my other “flights of fancy”, is a failure and more testimony to my flakey character. Thanks to the steadiness I’ve found through maintaining this project, though, I can now match their raised brow with a shrugged shoulder. Through this project, I have silenced fears of flakiness and now know in my heart that, like the good German art I studied as an undergrad, my life can have both form and function. It matters little that I am the only guaranteed beneficiary of these creations. If not me, who?

September Events at Old Firehouse Books

Hello again, faithful followers! Do you know what's going to be happening here in September? Probably not, which is why we're bringing the info to your digital doorstep. It seems like, anymore, all of our months are big months. But hey, that's the way we like it, and we're pretty sure you do too!
Without further mishigas, here's the scoop

Event: Student Appreciation Day

Date: September 5

Place: Old Firehouse Books, 232 Walnut St.

Bring your student ID, be it CSU, FRCC, or high school, and get 20% off any new books! Remember, reading goes beyond the required!

Event: Open Book Club

Date: September 6

Time: 1 pm

Place: Old Firehouse Books, 232 Walnut St.

Have you been looking for a book club? Come join us as we discuss Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. This book club is open to anyone who loves books and talking about them. Get 20% off Jane Eyre before the club meets.

Event: Brown Bag Lunch with Margaret Coel

Date: September 8

Time: 12 pm to 1 pm

Place: Old Firehouse Books, 232 Walnut St

Bring your lunch and meet Margaret Coel, award-winning Colorado mystery author, as she discusses and signs her new book, The Silent Spirit. Margaret’s books regularly make the national bestseller lists. She has been nominated for the Spur Award and the Willa Cather Award. Recently she won the Colorado Book Award. This is a great opportunity to learn more about one of Colorado’s most famous writers.

Event: Strange Worlds Science Fiction Book Club

Date: September 10

Time: 7 pm

Place: Old Firehouse Books, 232 Walnut St.

This month, we will be discussing Friday by Robert Heinlein. Heinlein was one of the great science fiction Golden Age writers. This book was nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. It’s a wild ride through a near-future world featuring genetically altered humans and star-faring ships with one of Heinlein’s best-loved heroines. Get 20% off Friday before the club meets.

Event: National Talk Like a Pirate Day

Date: September 19

Time: All day!

Place: Everywhere!

Now, we realize that this is more of a general holiday-type-thing than a specific store event, but we felt it necessary to spread awareness of this fun holiday! Not only that, but we here at the store will do our best to talk, and maybe even dress, like pirates as much as we can! Feel free to come in your own Pirate garb and show us your Pirate Patriotism! Yarr!!

Event: Echo in the Bone release party

Date: September 21

Time: 9 pm to midnight

Place: Old Firehouse Books, 232 Walnut St.

Diana Gabaldon’s long-awaited next installment in the Outlander series hits the streets on September 22! Our final review group will be held on September 21, after which there will be a party celebrating the new release. Refreshments, bagpipe music, and games will all be part of the fun. At midnight, pick up your new copy of An Echo in the Bone! Then prepare to read far into the night and call in sick the next day so you can finish your book. RSVP to (970) 484-7898 or

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

And a Good Time was had by All

So last night we did our first review group for Diana Gabaldon. In case you hadn't heard, her new book is (finally!) due out on September 22. It will be called An Echo in the Bone and will of course be magnificent, as have been all her books. If you haven't read her Outlander series yet, you must start immediately! These are stay-up-until-4am, call-in-sick-the-next-day books. They've got adventure. They've got romance. They've got time travel! I dare you to read the first hundred pages of Outlander and be able to put the book down and walk away.
Anyway, she's got six books in the series out right now, and they are all over 800 pages long. If it's been a while since you've read them and you need a refresher (or just someone to talk to about Jamie and Claire) then join us every Tuesday evening at 7pm. We are all just as obsessed as you are!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Book Club Update

Okay, so a month ago I gave a bit of information on the new book club we will be starting at the store. Now I’m back with more.

We will be called, the Untitled Book Club. Any objections? You in the back? Bueller? Bueller? No? Moving on…

Meetings will be on the second Monday of the month at 6:30pm in the book store. This means our first meeting is Monday September 14th at 6:30pm. This also means, you have over 3 whole weeks to read our first pick, “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy.
C’mon and join, all the cool (and maybe slightly nerdy) kids are doing it!

Books to Read

It's been a while since I have posted anything on here so I think I will start off with a brief review of some of the books I have been reading lately. A couple of them are on current bestseller list's or are recently published so keep your eye out for them!

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
by Katherine Howe
I loved this book. It's a fantastic story about a graduate student that is asked to take care of the sale of her Grandmother's abandoned house. While going through and cleaning out the ancient house she finds a key that starts her on a quest to find out more about her own family history and the mysteries that abounded within. The story travels seamlessly between present day and the Salem Witch Trials. This book is full of history, suspense and deep and interesting characters. I almost felt the magic pouring out of the pages as I was reading and I couldn't put it down! (as of today it's number 15 on the IndieBound bestseller list!)

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
If you haven't heard of this book...Well, you may live under a rock. But that's ok! Cause I am here to tell you about it today! I have been meaning to read this for months and have finally gotten around to it- and not a moment too soon since the movie just came out! I loved every moment of this book. It takes a few chapters to get in the "groove" of it, since it's all based on time travel you are going back and forward constantly. Once you settle in though you hardly notice the traveling because you are so absorbed with the story. It's about a man (and obviously, his wife) who involuntarily time travels. It's nothing he can control, he just suddenly finds himself in the past or in the future. And it's the story of their meeting and their love and how life is to be left behind and to be the one leaving. It's a very emotional book. I loved how love grounded both of them in so many ways and how you could feel it throughout everything that happened.

Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris
This was an excellent book. The author has spent considerable time in Saudi Arabia and the story shows it. It gives excellent perspective throughout the story of both women in living in Saudi Arabia and men. The story is all about finding a girl who ran off into the desert right before her wedding and once her body is found, finding out what really happened. I thought it was a great window into strict Islamic life, and the ups and downs of it. I really appreciated the main character, he is a desert guide and lives a very similar life to the Bedouin. His thoughts and actions are very complex and telling. I think that even for a work of fiction this holds a lot of truth and is something to learn from.

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
If you love books and history then this book is perfect. It's all about a very old book and the life it has lead. A famous Haggadah has been found and Hanna Heath, an Australian rare book expert, has been called in to do the analysis and conservation of it. The book switches back and forth from Hanna's life and perspective to the lifeline and story of the Haggadah. It's very powerful to see how this religious book was created and kept and saved for many years and how it made it it's final destination: Sarajevo. Excellent read, you will feel smarter and wiser by the end. I always love that in a novel!

As always, these are just a taste of what I am reading. My coworkers and I have many varied likes and dislikes and lots of variety in our reading styles as well. So, please, come in and ask us for recommendations. Ask us for reviews. We'll talk your ear off if you let us, we love books! And feel free to comment on any of our book reviews, let us know if you like the book, didn't like it...etc!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Titles for Educators

Fairly true to form, I am once again writing a post with multiple recommendations within a subject area. Recall my posts about bicycle and garden related books.

With equal parts excitement and sadness, I am re-embarking on my teaching career and will be mostly absent from the bookstore during the school year. For others in the same career field, I am recommending some education books I have found indispensable.

The First-Year Teacher's Survival Guide by Julia G. Thompson has been my #1 reference since my 1st year of teaching 5 years ago. With over 400 pages of advice, tips, tricks, strategies from getting organized to delivering quality instruction it's a necessity for teachers with any level of experience. I am going to pick up my personal copy to refresh my memory here in the next couple of weeks.

My next favorite book is How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. It's actually more of a parenting book but there is a How to Teach copy as well (I just haven't read it). It describes ways to instill responsibility in kids just by changing from an "I told you so" approach to a "Hmmm, that's a bummer" approach which allows kids to think about their mistakes and make their own changes. I have found the change in language is very easy and fairly intuitive yet still takes practice to....practice, especially if you didn't grow up with parents who exclusively used the language.

Fred Jones Tools for Teaching: Discipline, Instruction, Motivation (ISBN:9780965026321) is another fantastic title with very practical tips and tricks to maintain a structured, effective classroom. The concepts are simple but profound, easy to execute, and will help immensely with building relationships with students and increasing student achievement. This is a must-have.

Good luck to all of you who are affected by the start of school. Please remind yourselves to be especially watchful on your bicycle with the influx of non-Fort Collins drivers as well. Happy studying!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Biblio apnea

Throughout my life I've been a chronic sufferer of biblio apnea. Yes, this is a condition I just made up, but that doesn't take away from how serious it is. Biblio apnea is defined (by me, just now) as an inability to focus on any book in particular, usually striking bibliophiles hardest. Possible signs of Biblioapnea include: increase in library fines, book collection growth at an usually increased rate, restlessness, panic attacks, irritation, headaches, lower back pain.

Yes, I suffer. I know these symptoms well and I've been carrying this burden for years. It usually strikes hardest toward the end of summer. In a panicked rush, I realize that there are only three precious weeks left until the next semester begins. This is three weeks without required reading, three weeks to read exactly what I want at the pace I want, without any other texts lingering over me. In these last moments before school, my panic freezes me and I end up finishing no book at all.

In the past week and a half I have started reading five novels. I am yet to even reach the halfway mark in one of them. Just before a story begins to evolve, I pick up another and let one slip by.

Although I know my condition is not terminal, I fear it will follow me for the rest of my life. I bravely continue onward, in the hope that one day might bring a cure. Until then I must struggle forward and I can again finish book. Anyone interested in starting a support group, call me.