Saturday, December 19, 2009

Montana's Hebrew Speaking Bomb Dog

Posted by Simcha 3:18 PM, under | 2 comments

This has absolutely nothing to do with science fiction or fantasy but I came across this funny article and I wanted to share it.

So the Helena Police Department in Montana had purchsed a bomb sniffing dog from the Israeli Defense Forces because it was cheaper then buying a bomb dog locally. The only problem was that the dog, which was raised in Israel and trained in Hebrew, couldn't understand any of the commands given by his new American owners.

Even though Officer Foskat received a list of Hebrew commands to use, Mikey the dog just couldn't understand him. Poor officer Foskat even tried a Hebrew instructional audio-book to help him improve his accent, but to no avail. And so, at this year's Chanukah candle lighting ceremony, in the city's capital, Office Foskat approached one of the rabbis and asked for his assistance in communicating with his dog. Rabbi Chaim Bruk was happy to help, and now he is regularly on-call to help the Montana cop speak Hebrew to his dog.

And the article conclude:

    But the big winner is the rabbi, a recent arrival from Brooklyn who is working hard (against tough odds) to bring his Lubavitch movement to Montana. He has been scouring the state for anyone who can speak Hebrew, and is elated to have found a German shepherd he can talk to.
You can read the article in full here

As I read the article I could just imagine the frustrated police office crouched down next to his dog, attempting to pronounce one Hebrew command after another, while the dog looks on, with a perplexed expression on his face.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Favorite Fictional Character: Thursday Next

Posted by Simcha 8:16 PM, under | 3 comments

Favorite Fictional Character
Hosted by Ryan at Wordsmithonia

This week's favorite fictional character is Thursday Next, from Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series.

Thursday is a literary detective who solves crimes against literature that are too strange for the regular police force to handle, in this quirky alternative history series that takes place in Swindon, England.

Thursday is a wonderful character who is brave, intelligent, resourceful and, loyal. She hasn't had an easy life, with her brother having been killed in the Crimean War (which is still ongoing) and her father having been eradicated before she was born- though he still occasional shows up to visit, thanks to his skill in manipulating the time-space continuum. And then when she finally marries the man whom she is been in-love with for years, he too is eradicated by the evil Goliath corporation, so that no one but Thursday even knows that he ever existed ( I believe she manages to save him, but I haven't gotten to that book yet).

But despite all her travails, Thursday is constantly moving forward,
bringing the bad guys to justice and trying to find a way to help those she loves. Thursday's loyalty to her friends is one of my favorite characteristic of hers. During the war, when it was discovered that an error was made which led to the death of many soldiers, rather then retreating, as instructed, Thursday went back to save whoever she could. When her co-worker Spike, of the vampire demolition department, requests urgent backup which everyone else matter-of-factly ignores, Thursday runs to his assistance with no hesitation.

Thurday is the kind of person I would love to know and have as a friend. Despite the quirkiness of the books, Thursday herself comes across as so real that I'm repeatedly amazed that she is actually, and unfortunately, only a figments of Fforde's imagination.

Interview with Jessica from Shut Up! I'm Reading

Posted by Simcha 6:26 PM, under | 1 comment

She's only thirteen years old, but Jessica runs a successful YA book blog, Shut Up! I'm Reading, where she provides insightful book reviews, interesting interviews and entertaining commentary on her views on books and book covers.

Hi Jessica. Can you start off by telling me a little bit about yourself?

I'm a girl with a love of reading who decided to share her love with anyone who cares to read about it. Reading is one of my very favorite things to do.

Please tell me about your blog and what makes it unique

My blog, Shut Up! I'm Reading, reviews young adult books just about all of the time. Review-wise, I rate a book based on plot, characters, writing, ending, and overall enjoyment of the novel and then give it a 1-5 star review. I also try to throw in as many interviews and contests that I can manage. And, I have a feature called "Judging A Book By It's Cover" where I, as you guessed, judge a book's cover.

When did you start your blog and how did you decide to do so?

I started my blog in mid-June. I had played with the idea for a while, but it wasn't until I had been talking to some people on Shelfari, and just decided that I wanted to be a part of blogging. I really had no idea how big the community of book bloggers were, but that just made it even more appealing to me.

I had read in your introductory post that you are 13 years old, which would make you the youngest blogger that I have come across so far.
Do you find yourself facing any obstacles because of your age?

I've never really thought about it before. I suppose the only real obstacle would be having to share the computer with the rest of my family. That can be very frustrating. If I went to school then it would be a real challenge, but luckily I'm homeschooled so it's not too much of a problem.

What do you think of the fact that as a blogger you have the unique opportunity to interact with, and build relationships with authors? Are there any authors in particular that you are interested in reaching out to?

I think it's amazing! I live in the middle of nowhere, so I've never gotten the chance to meet an author that I've read a book by. And, although I don't have any strong relationships with authors through the internet at the moment, I have much more contact with authors then I ever would have before. Plus, it's especially fantastic for aspiring authors like myself.

I'd love to talk to Lisa Mcmann, Becca Fitzpatrick, Maggie Stiefvater, among with just about every YA author that's ever read a book I like. I'm not too picky.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading the most?

I love fantasy, urban fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal romance, all of these being young adult, of course. I rarely read adult, there's still too many young adult books that I haven't read yet!

Was there a particular book that had sparked your interest in reading?

I had a very odd relationship with reading for the longest time. I would love reading one minute, hate it the next. I guess I would just get burned out. But Twilight really got me back into the love of reading-a love that would last longer than it ever had before. I never knew that there were books like that before, and it opened up a whole new world to me. Even if you hate the series, you have to admit that it has gotten a lot of people reading and writing, which is always a good thing, right?

What do you enjoy doing when you are not reading or blogging?

I listen to music constantly. Mostly rock, alternative, punk, that sort of stuff. I also write (stories and song lyrics, mostly) whenever I find the time since it's what I hope to be when I grow up (a novelist, or a writer for Saturday Night Live). According to my mom, I am a "computer lizard", which is her way of telling me that I'm on the computer a bunch. And I act. And occasionally I get into a drawing kind of mood. Wow, I never realized how many hobbies I have. No wonder I feel like I have no time these days.

Did you have any experience in reviewing books before you started your blog?

I had done a few reviews for a homeschooling newspaper, and had written some very short reviews for Shelfari. Knowing that I was already reviewing books was a major factor in starting my blog.

What’s your favorite part of running a blog?

There's so many! I guess it would be being able to hear about so many new books, and being able to meet all of these incredible people who share my love of reading.

What advice would you give to other teenagers your age who might be interested in starting a book blog?

I guess all I can say is put your heart and soul into it, and it will get you far. And if you don't want age to be an obstacle for your blogging, then run it professionally. Not dead-serious or anything, but only teenagers want to read "typppinngg~LiKe~THIS!" and if you run your entire blog like that you won't get much respect from authors, publishers, and even most book-bloggers.

If you could spend a week in any book, which book would you choose and why?

City of Bones. (The first in the Mortal Instruments series.) It's so different and exciting, and I'd love to have some of the experiences that Clary had. (Not the near death experiences, but I think you get the idea.)

Thanks so much Jessica for taking the time to do this interview. I really enjoyed getting to know you and learning more about your blog Shut Up I'm Reading

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy Book Day To Me: My Holiday Gift Swap Gift

Posted by Simcha 4:55 PM, under | 3 comments

I'm currently in book heaven.

Today I received a package from my (not so)secret blogger from the holiday gift swap (she revealed her identity to me last week to check if I received the package yet) and it contained not one, not two but THREE books from my wish list!! I definitely got myself an awesome secret blogger person.

I'm now the proud owner of these three books:

The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost

I've been wanting to read this book for ages, ever since I heard about Troost and his humorous travel books. I love Bill Bryson and I heard that Troost's books are similar in style. I'm so excited to finally have a copy of this book.

Sins of the Flesh by Caridad Pineiro

I was intrigued by this book when I first read about it, a few weeks ago, and immediately added it to my book wish list, though I didn't expect to actually get a hold of it so soon. Can't wait to read it!!

Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde

I was particularly excited to find this book in the package, the fourth book in the Thursday Next series, because I haven't been able to find it anywhere in Israel. Now I can finally find out what happens to Thursday after she leaves the Well of Lost Plots. I'm really hoping she gets her husband back, in this book.

So thank you, thank you, thank you Heather, from, for sending me all these wonderful books.
Plus I love the pretty card you included. You are the best! And I'm reserving you as my secret santa for next year's holiday gift exchange (I'm not above greasing a few palms).
I just hope my gift recipient enjoys her gift as much as I enjoyed mine.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Peter V. Brett's contest: My ideas for a winning picture

Posted by Simcha 3:50 PM, under | 3 comments

Peter V. Brett has a fun contest for three ARC copies of The Desert Spear, the sequel to The Warded Man. To enter you have to send in a picture of yourself, or someone else, holding a copy of the Warded Man, with extra points given to pictures with an interesting background.

While this isn't the first such contest that I've come across, it is the first time that I actually own the book that is needed to participate and so I think I'd like to give it a shot. Plus I live in the desert and I'm sure I could come up with a photo with a great background shot that would be relevant to the book.

Today, on my way to Jerusalem, I saw a Bedouin on a nearby hill leading his flock of goats and I thought 'now that would be a great picture for the contest.' Though I somehow don't think the Bedouin would be too pleased if I intercepted him and his goats to request that he smile for the camera, while holding a book.

I'm also considering approaching the camel owner down the road, who stands around with his camel, waiting for tourists, and asking if I could get a picture of myself on his camel, with the book. Or better yet- a picture of him with the book.

I bet any of these pictures would make me a shoo-in for that contest.

The things I'll do for a book these days....


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