Saturday, January 31, 2009

One Day Late -- Friday Fill-Ins

Last night was Girls' Night (a sleepover at my friend Ashley's house), so I didn't get much accomplished in the last 24 hours. And the night before I got home late from work and then went to dinner with the Fiance' and baked Zucchini Bread, so, again, not much blogging or reading accomplished. But now it's time for Friday Fill-Ins, a day late and a dollar short!

1. I'd really like more sleep right now.

2. FUCK!!! is the word you'd most often hear me say if I stubbed my toe.

3. Possession is a book I didn't really get. I recently read on someone else's blog (Morsie?) that they didn't really get it either, so now I don't feel so dumb.

4. I'm rather partial to Captain Jack Sparrow.

5. Marshmallows and fire go together like ice cream and chocolate sauce.

6. I tend to get frustrated when clients go on and on.

7. And as for the weekend, FRIDAY I'm looking forward to the Girls' Night sleepover, TODAY my plans include recovering from my hangover and Sunday, I want to watch the Super Bowl!

Monday, January 26, 2009

How You Know Your Reading List Is Out of Control

I keep my reading list on an Excel spreadsheet. I like Excel because the "find" function makes it really easy to see if I'm re-adding something that's already on my list. You just control-f it and the book either shows up (and you're set to read it) or it doesn't (and you add it). Well, recently, my TBR list has gotten waaaay longer than ever before, mainly due to the book blogs I read on a daily basis. So now...

I've had to split-screen my reading list in Excel, because it takes too long to scroll from the middle of the document to the end.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Just Curious

Has anyone else heard that there may be a new Outlander book from Diana Gabaldon? I heard or read somewhere that an eighth book may be forthcoming, despite the fact that A Breath of Snow and Ashes was supposed to be the last. I hope it's true, but I'm also scared, in case it's not good. I mean, how much more can there be to say about Claire and Jamie and Briana and Roger at this point?!

I picked up Outlander during my last year of law school. It had been on a list of the 100 Best Books of some year or other that I found online somewhere. At first, I didn't think it would be my thing. I thought it was fantasy and I wasn't really into fantasy. Little did I know, it wasn't really fantasy, but more a historical romance with some time travel thrown in. I fell in love with the series and devoured the next few books within a few months, despite still being in school and having a lot of other things competing for my time. The Fiery Cross, book six, was pretty slow, but I wonder how much of that was the book and how much of it was me taking the Florida Bar. And also, I believe a new Harry Potter came out that summer, so I may have set it aside to re-read that series. Anyway...

Can anyone confirm or deny the rumor of an eighth book in the Outlander series?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Christmas Wii Is in the HOUSE!

So, this Christmas, Ricky and I decided that, instead of buying each other a bunch of little things, we would just buy our joint selves a Wii. Of course, since that meant no presents under the tree to unwrap, we ended up buying each other a bunch of little things, too, so Christmas was not REALLY any less expensive than usual.

When we decided that it was close enough to Christmas to purchase the gaming system (Thanksgiving), we couldn't find it anywhere. And then Christmas rolled around and we still couldn't find one. And then I was gone to Ohio for a week and a half, and then we were getting used to 2009, and then we STILL couldn't find them anywhere locally.

But Thursday. Oh, Thursday! Target got a Nintendo shipment in and one of those suckers had our name all over it!!! Of course, since we can't do anything major in life without getting into an argument about it, we did that first. Mostly because I'm a control freak and I hadn't slept in two nights because of a smoke detector that needed a new battery. But, I digress.

We ended up at Target Thursday evening. We bought the system, an extra controller and nunchuck, and two games, one for each of us. HOLY CRAP, that was more than I intended to spend. But it's Christmas, right?

So now the Wii is installed, and I will probably be spending even LESS time reading and blogging. Sigh. Just what I needed. Another distraction.

Friday, January 23, 2009


1. Oh, I am so COLD!

2. I hate changes, big and little.

3. During lunch, I ate a bunch of stuff that was bad for me (but oh so good!).

4. Thirty degree weather in Florida; are you kidding me???

5. Right now I'd like to be under the sea, in an octopus's garden with you.

6. Our new Wii is my favorite gadget.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to catching up on the old Google reader, tomorrow my plans include going out for drinks with a co-worker or two and Sunday, I want to play Wii and work on wedding stuff with Ricky!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mailbox Tuesday?

Well, today is my Monday, since I was off work yesterday. And I forgot to post my Mailbox Monday then, so I'm posting it now...

Coming in to my house this week were two LibraryThing acquisitions. I was awarded a bound galley of Ivan G. Goldman's The Barfighter from the folks at The Permanent Press. About all I know of it is that it's the story of a boxer...doing something. The flap copy is not really very clear. But it sounded like something outside of my normal reading sphere, and, since I'm always looking to expand my horizons, I thought I'd check it out.

The super awesomely awesome part is that The Permanent Press ALSO sent me a bound galley of another new novel, The Disappearance, which is another of the "missing child" genre that Wendy posted about at CaribousMom the other day. So now I have two for the price of one review books to check out. Which are going on my shelf, and I will get to them soon, I hope.

What books joined your library this week?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy 200th!

Today, as some of you may know, is Edgar Allen Poe's 200th birthday. To honor him, I quote below his poem "To One in Paradise."

"Thou wast that all to me, love,
For which my soul did pine -
A green isle in the sea, love,
A fountain and a shrine,
All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers,
And all the flowers were mine.

"Ah, dream too bright to last!
Ah, starry Hope! that didst arise
But to be overcast!
A voice from out the future cries,
'On! on!' - but o'er the Past
(Dim, gulf!) my spirit hovering lies
Mute, motionless, aghast!

"For, alas! alas! with me
The light of Life is o'er!
No more - no more - no more -
(Such language holds the solemn sea
To the sands upon the shore)
Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree,
Or the stricken eagle soar!

"And all my days are trances,
And all my nightly dreams
Are where thy grey eye glances,
And where thy footstep gleams -
In what ethereal dances,
By what eternal streams."

Full Circle?

The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. -Martin Luther King Jr.

Because nothing worthwhile in this country has ever happened unless somebody, somewhere stood up when it was hard; stood up when they were told – no you can’t, and said yes we can. -Barack Obama

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins

1. Enough with the economy already. It's depressing!

2. Sometimes my job causes me to be conflicted.

3. I've been craving McDonald's.

4. Ricky makes me laugh.

5. I wish I could go to Hawaii, Greece, or Italy next week.

6. Wedding planning has been on my mind lately.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to some peace and quiet, tomorrow my plans include hanging out around the house and Sunday, I want to write our wedding invitations!


I feel so special! The insanely intelligent and sweet Wendy of CaribousMom fame has featured me in her (BACK AGAIN!) Weekly Geeks post! Like I posted over at her blog, I feel like I've actually made it in the blog world. What a thrill, to have someone I respect a great deal point others in my direction.

Hopefully, some folks are stopping by whom I might not have known before. If so, WELCOME. And y'all come back now, y'hear?

And Wendy? Thank you so much for honoring me by giving me a shout-out on your blog!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Lots of good stuff came in this week:

From the remains of my Christmas Barnes & Noble gift cards, which I used online, I received three books.

First, Sons, by Pearl Buck, is the sequel to The Good Earth, which I own, but have not read yet. The third book in the trilogy, A House Divided, also came in this B&N shipment. I plan to read all three sometime in the future, although probably not this year, and next year isn't lookin' too hot, either.

Thirdly, from Barnes & Noble, I received Joanna Kavenna's Inglorious. (The cover is so pretty, I can't resist posting it!) The only review I can remember was lukewarm, but the book, about a journalist having some sort of mid-life crisis, sounds interesting to me.

Finally, from my friends at BookMooch, I received a copy of Jennifer Lauck's memoir Blackbird: A Childhood Lost and Found. Someone recommended this one, too, but I never can remember where the recommendations come from...

In other book news, I JUST POSTED Katherine Neville's The Eight on BookMooch and someone has already requested it. Popular. So now I get to decide which book I should Mooch next. Hmm...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Estrella Reads

Everyone in our family likes to read, cats included.

The Eight by Katherine Neville

Whew! Finally, another book finished! This is number one of 2009 for me, but I'm proud to have finished it on schedule (the goal was before 1/14).

I really, REALLY enjoyed this book. It was long, at 600 pages, but quite exciting just the same. Catherine Velis is a computer expert (the book was written in the eighties, so it was a bit of an anomaly for 1 - a woman to 2 - be in the field of computers). She is hand-picked by a shadowy cabal to participate in The Game. At first, she doesn't understand what The Game consists of, but as she feels her way along, from New York to France and, ultimately, Algeria, she realizes that she is playing a real-life game of chess. Her goal is to find the pieces of the Montglane Chess Service, scattered around the world and hidden for centuries, and reassemble them to decipher a formula hidden within, revealing...what? The Service's ultimate product isn't revealed until the end of the book, although some who are familiar with ancient myth and mysticism may be able to figure it out.

This book is, I believe, similar to The DaVinci Code, but with a female protagonist. I haven't read The DaVinci Code, but I understand that it involves a mystery dating back to the Freemasons, which this book does also. The story is involving and interesting. Some of the chess talk and mathematics that go into it were difficult for me - I'm a verbal gal, not particularly one with the numbers. But those parts were easily glossed over, and I was able to discern enough to keep up with the story. I enjoyed the historical detail of Revolutionary-era France and the Middle East. Cat Velis and Mireille, the 18th century nun who originally guarded the Montglane Service, were well-drawn, strong female protagonists, which I could appreciate, especially in the context of a book written in the 1980's.

What didn't I like about the book? It was a bit too long. Cat was assigned to a job in Algeria in the first or second chapter, but it took at least 200 pages before she even set foot out of New York! And the foreshadowing was a bit heavy-handed. There was a lot of "If I had only known at the time..." and "I was soon to find out..." But those were minor quibbles. The storyline kept me intrigued and, when I had to put the book down, I couldn't wait to pick it back up again to find out what would happen to Cat or Mireille next.

Four and a half out of five Whatevers. People who liked The DaVinci Code (are there any?) and/or other historical thrillers will dig this book. Also for fans of Revolutionary-era France (one of my favorite periods in European history), for those who want to learn more about the history of the Middle East, or for chess fanatics.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins

1. It's January; time for resolutions.

2. More reading time is what I crave most right now.

3. Cork and wine go together like Ricky and Lexi.

4. Solitude is so nourishing.

5. Let us dare to stand up for what we believe in.

6. I love relaxing in my home.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to staying in and surfing the net, tomorrow my plans include um, not football and Sunday, I want to buy our new Wii!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

My Creations

So, I'm trying this new thing called organization, perhaps you've heard of it? Ricky and I went to the store today and I spent all evening cooking the meals for the week. Hopefully, I'll be better able to handle Weight Watchers (yeah, I'm back on it) if I have the meals made in advance. I even froze some for later in the month. I hope it doesn't backfire, and I end up throwing out a whole bunch of cooked food that we just didn't get around to eating.

What did I make? Here it is (if I can figure out the pictures):

This is Layered Mexican Chicken, which has chicken chunks, black beans, sour cream, low-fat Mexican cheese, chilies, and corn tortillas. VERY easy to make. (All recipes courtesy of Weight Watchers.)

This is Vegetable-Peanut Stir-Fry (sans peanuts at this point). I'd just finished making it and the white misty stuff is not a ghostly visitor from another realm, but steam coming off the just-finished stir-fry. It was supposed to be tonight's meal, but it was the Fiance's turn to do dinner, so he just Foreman-ed up some chicken for us. (Why do I go to so much trouble?!) This dish will be reheated later this week and served over brown rice with crushed peanuts on top. YUM!

This is Green Beans with Caramelized Onions and Dill. This is to be a side dish with the Mexican chicken thingie and/or a lunch for me to take to work. Also VERY easy.

And, last but not least, the Tri-Color Pesto Rotini. This is probably going to be my favorite of all the things I made tonight: rotini, sun-dried tomatoes, red and green bell pepper, PESTO. I can't wait to heat some up for dinner and take some as a cold pasta salad for lunch.

I have to say that I am impressed with the ease of the Weight Watchers recipes. I was worried that this would take me all night, but it only took three hours...during which time I also stopped to eat dinner with My Beloved. I've used every dish in my kitchen, but now I have (HEALTHY!) food enough to last me until I've washed them all...

Friday, January 2, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins

1. The world is a vampire.

2. "Have a good evening," to the pizza man was the last thing I said.

3. I wonder if I'll ever read all the books I have on my TBR list.

4. Something better is sure to come at the end of all things.

5. There's something to be said for organization.

6. With my sweetie is where I want to be.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to catching up on my Google Reader, tomorrow my plans include getting a little work done and Sunday, I want to watch the Dolphins' game and visit our friends' new house!

Someone Around Here Is Spoiled

So, here it is, the bookish goodies post. What did I get from my loved ones this Christmas? Lots of books! My loving Fiance' got me the new Rachael Ray cookbook, Rachael Ray's Big Orange Book. Not entirely altruistic, as he enjoys eating the things I cook out of my two shelves' worth of cookbooks!

My mother's birthday is on December 12, and I'd bought her a copy of Brunonia Barry's The Lace Reader. Turns out, she'd already brought a copy home from the library and read it. Since when did my mom start going to the library again? I guess she is, though, because she had a stack of books from the Molly Murphy series by Rhys Bowen, stacked up almost to the ceiling! Since she'd already read the book I got her, I decided to just keep it and get her something to replace it. She had not, however, read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (ha HA!), which was the other half of her birthday present. She HAD read the entire Maisie Dobbs series, of which I got her the first book for Christmas (I really should have known), but she was very excited to own a copy of it for her very own, since she loves the series so much. I offered to pre-order the newest book for her for when it comes out in February. She also was interested to read The Almost Moon, by Alice Sebold, author of one of her very favorite books, which she won't stop talking about, The Lovely Bones.

Ahem, this post is supposed to be about ME! Between them, my aunt and uncle and two of my sisters got me $70 worth of Barnes and Noble gift cards. Which have all been spent...Ricky and I went to the bookstore yesterday, and I polished off the balance online. Sigh. At the store, I picked up a mystery by Mark Mills called Amagansett. I don't remember where I heard about this book (doubtless on someone's blog...perhaps Jenclair's? I should really start keeping track of where I get my recommendations from.) and it sounded good. Still does. I also picked up the first novel in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes mystery series by Laurie R. King, The Beekeeper's Apprentice. I'm completely excited to start in on this series, which sounds awesome. Online, I ordered the second and third books in Pearl Buck's The Good Earth trilogy. The first book was easy to's a classic and there are copies of it everywhere. But the second and third books? No one carries them, except online! So I've been waiting to get a gift card so I could purchase them. The final item I bought online was Joanna Kavenna's Inglorious, another book blog find. I cannot wait for my choices to arrive in the mail.

In the meantime, I'll have to content myself with browsing the books Santa brought me: The Best American Short Stories, Mystery Stories, and Non-Required Reading of 2008. I love these books and have been collecting them for about ten years now. Originally, I only collected the Short Story and Mystery Story ones, but I added the Non-Required Reading ones a few years ago, while I was in law school. Best gift of the year, every Christmas. Oh! I also picked up a copy of Julian Barnes' Arthur & George, at the B&N after Christmas sale (where I got my half-off Book-a-Day calendar, too!), where it was on remainder. WHEE! Last, but certainly not least in the bookish goodies category, is the subscription that my future-mother-in-law got me to Bookmarks magazine! I'm SO lucky to get along with my (future) in-laws. My sister and her mother-in-law do NOT see eye to eye, and it sucks. Luckily, my future mom-in-law is awesome and loves me enough to get me something I've really wanted for a good six months now!

So that was my literary Christmas. I got a ton of other great stuff, too, but how boring would it be to listen to me list my abundance? My family loves Christmas and we go all out for each other. I'm really, really blessed to have so many people who love me and know exactly what to do to make my season bright!

2008 in Review

I'm going to make it a New Year's Resolution to be a little more organized with my reading this year. I'm not really a challenge reader (I don't like the rigidity of having to read certain books on a deadline AND I haven't really had as much reading time to complete any challenges as I would need). But I would like to try one or two other ongoing challenges, in addition to the Pulitzer Project, this year. I'm hoping to scale down on some of my other activities/obligations, in order to have more time to read. If so, I'd like to join the Man Booker perpetual challenge, as well as maybe the Orange Prize or National Book Award challenges. I guess we'll see. I didn't do too hot with the Pulitzer Project last year, so maybe I should just leave it at that.

I read a total of 18 books in 2008. That's all. I suck. Mostly, I blame book blogs. Yeah, all of you out there, thanks a lot. Actually, I am very glad to have had the chance in 2008 to get to know so many people out in the blogosphere, whether they know ME or not. (I am totally NOT a creeper. Okay, yes I am, a little.)

Anyway, my favorites of the year were easily the Lord of the Rings trilogy (and The Hobbit) and The Prince of Tides. I also really enjoyed my only non-fiction read of the year, Defending the Damned. So, there's my top six. I know most people do a top five, but shoot, I couldn't narrow it down, so Top Six it is!

This year, aside from reading more in general, I'd like to expand my horizons some. I'd like to read more (GOOD) non-fiction, some new genres of fiction (maybe a new mystery series or some YA or something), and perhaps even, GASP, a graphic novel or two, a genre I swore I'd stay away from, but now kind of want to check out. I'd also like to be a bit more organized with respect to how I categorize things on the ol' blog, my rating system, etc. Maybe I'll start doing a month-end wrap-up. The problem with 2008 was, some months there was just nothing to wrap up. But with all the additional reading time I'm going to have this year, that shouldn't be a problem!

So these are my New Year's Reading Resolutions:

1. Read more. Period.
2. Join at least one more perpetual challenge.
3. Read differently: different genres, more non-fiction.
4. Be more organized about reading and this blog.

We'll see how much I can accomplish in 2009!

Christmas Update

Well, I left for parts north on Saturday, Dec. 20th. The flight up was fairly uneventful. Well, once I was on a flight that was actually going to make it. Apparently, there was some delay with the flight to Atlanta, so they booked me through Baltimore instead. Otherwise, I would have been stuck in the ATL overnight. Which wouldn't have been a problem, there are people I could have dropped in on whom I haven't seen in a while, but then again, unexpected guests are not always the most welcome. Luckily, I had a pretty enterprising ticket agent working for me, so she found another flight which would get me into Ohio on time. Or at least the same day.

It was bitterly cold when I first arrived, and I am simply not built for cold and snow anymore. There's a REASON I moved to Florida, y'all, and it was pretty much so I wouldn't have to battle single-digit temps anymore. I HATE the cold, I'm not REALLY a fan of snow (even on Christmas), and I can DEFINITELY do without scraping ice off my car for several months of the year. But the week warmed up, and my parents' house is always 800 degrees, so I was pretty comfortable.

During the flight up there, I was finishing up the November/December issue of Bookmarks magazine and perusing a holiday-themed issue of Rachael Ray's magazine. Then I started in on The Eight. And I'm still reading it. It's long, like 600 pages. To be fair, this vacation was not the string of uninterrupted reading time I anticipated. I always forget how busy a trip home is. There's Christmas with my cousins, Christmas with the immediate family, dinners with my best friend, evenings watching movies with the fam, a football game, shopping with my sisters, dinners out with my parents and sisters, computer games, etc. Mostly, I read in the mornings over breakfast, before the day got going. And occasionally when I had some down time during the day. On the flight back, I was sick with a terrible cold, so I read a bit in the airport, but slept on the plane. Hopefully, I'll have a chance to finish the book soon, but I do have those 300 Google Reader entries to catch up on...

Sigh. There's always something else going on.

P.S. Hurrah for the Georgia Bulldogs, winners of the Capital One Bowl!!!!!!!!!!!

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

Yes, I actually finished a book while I was on break. My mom, knowing our love of Harry Potter, got myself and all my sisters this book to share. It was the last thing opened on Christmas Day. I wasn't sure I was going to like it. I mean, after all the Harry Hype, how could a little book of stories, only tangentially related, measure up? I picked the book up late on the day after Christmas, while my sister and her husband were whipping my parents at Phase 10 (or were they? I don't play). And I'd read it by the time the game was over. There are only five stories, fairy tales, but they are each very good. My favorite was "The Hairy Heart." It was more like a Grimm's fairy tale than anything else. The commentary by Albus Dumbledore gave more depth to the stories (as well as an HP tie-in for purists). I'd like to see Rowling tackle something non-Potter-related now. She's a talented storyteller, there's no doubt, but will people read something that doesn't have to do with the boy wizard? I would.

Four out of five Whatevers.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

I'm Back!

Wow. I've been gone a long time. I have nearly 300 entries on the Google Reader to catch up on, in addition to some reviews and a report on all the bookish goodness I was blessed with this Christmas. But I'll get to that later.

Mostly, I just wanted to let everyone know I'm still alive and wish everyone a very happy new year! May 2009 be filled with many new books and authors!