Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Between Shades of Gray - Review

Title: Between Shades of Gray
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Source: Library

Goodreads Summary:

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously--and at great risk--documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives.Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

My thoughts:

This book has been on my mind since I finished it last week.  It is haunting, thought provoking, beautiful yet horrific. A story of love and hope and death and sorrow and suffering.   I was tearing up at page 4o, by page 47 I was flat out crying.  I wish that a certain series with a similar title wasn't out, and causing potential readers to skip this book, thinking it is related, because this book is definitely worth reading and ten million times better than the similar named book, which is a completely different subject anyway.

Reading this book reminded me of reading Anne Frank. Lina dreamed of a better life while living in the worst conditions possible, and kept a journal of drawings of the life she was living, depicting the squalor, starvation, and soldiers who hated them.  If these drawings had been found, she very likely would have been killed.  Lina was a fighter, a survivor, and the least sentimental of her family in some ways.  Her mother and brother Jonas were better able to share and be compassionate for others in the camp; Lina cared only for her family, most of the time. I don't judge her for this, for no one knows how they would react in such a situation. I would like to think that I would be able to go without so that someone else could have my share, but I think when it came down to it, honestly, I would be family first. 

Amidst the camps and freezing weather, total lack of food and shelter, and all the illnesses and disease that abounded, the people in the camps still had hopes, dreams, and love.  One of the most tear jerking scenes for me was Christmas in the first camp. Lina and her family and all the other residents of the camp celebrated together, each bringing the small amount they were able to steal and share, and all brought photos of their family that they were separated from.  Their lives are desperate, meager and filled with constant fear, and yet they were able to put that aside as much as they could, to come together in fellowship, community and camaraderie. 

Lina encounters many different people while imprisoned - selfish, generous, self-sacrificing, brutal, violent.  But others are not always as they seem - some are not just black or white, but somewhere in between, shades of gray.  

This book broke my heart in places, but overall, the ending was one of hope.   The human spirit is resilient, and life goes on, even when you think it can't.  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where you list the books you read last week and the ones you hope to read this week. 

Read Last Week:


Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys:  Wow, what an emotional book for me.  I really enjoyed it, it was very well done.  Review to be posted soon.

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor:  This book was very good as well, in a totally different way.  It was a more somber book than the first in the series.  Review to be posted soon.

Reading this Week:

I will not read all of these this week, its a busy one, but this is the pile I will be choosing from.  We shall see what wins.  


Anyone but You by Jennifer Crusie:  I need a cheery fun book after Between Shades of Gray. I think this one will fit the bill!

The Drowning House by Elizabeth Black:  I just loved this cover.

Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell:  This is my "Blind Date with a Book" book from the library. And bonus, the author is a Michigander!

Reviews New Last Week:

Reviews Coming up this Week:

Besides the books I read last week, I will be reviewing Sideways on a Scooter. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Review (and some vegan goulash too)

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Source: Library (but I will probably buy)

Goodreads Summary:

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

My thoughts:

I noticed this book about 6 months or so ago while traveling around, reading blogs. It appealed to me for a few reasons- 1) that cool mask that reminds me of Mardi Gras 2) It is set in Prague, one of the top five places I want to visit, and  3) it is paranormal fantasy type stuff.  But I didn't really get around to reading it until I decided to participate in the European Reading Challenge.  And now I can't believe I waited so long!

I love this kind of stuff, supernatural creatures and all that, I just love to see what comes pouring out of people's imaginations.  This book was something new and different to me, I had never read anything like it before, and I.loved.it. 

Karou doesn't know it, but she is in the middle of a war, between Seraphim and Chimera. Seraphim are angels, but not the fluffy kind, these are angels are fiery and dangerous and not very heavenly.  Chimera are a race of people creatures, who are part human, part animal.  I pictured them like to look like the Thundercats. I loved reading all the lore of this new world made by Taylor, about the seraphim and the chimera, and where they live, their customs, the whole mythology of them all.  It was very well done, and very entertaining.  At first I thought, ugh, am I going to like this? And very quickly I was drawn in and cared about these characters.  Karou, Zuzana (my favorite! tiny angry girl), Brimstone, Akiva, were all written in a way that they made sense, and you felt what they felt.

Thundercats, hoo!
The parts of the story set in Prague set my gypsy wandering heart into overload - it sounds so beautiful and historical, and filled with lots of stories.  Karou and her friend Zuzana eat at a restaurant called The Poison Kitchen, which was said to have been a monastery until one of the monks, the chef, went crazy and poisoned all the goulash, killing the other monks. Not true, I looked it up, but to go to the trouble of creating such a fictionalized hangout for the girls, with such a fictionalized history, was very clever.  The restaurant most popular dish was goulash, of course. There was also a scene in which Karou and Akiva are out very early one morning in Prague, early enough that many people are out and the bakery was just opening up, and the two of them eat Honey Lavender bread, which sounded like an amazing breakfast.  I was very stuck on the food in this book, apparently, to the point I had to make goulash, and lavender honey bread. Lol.  

I knew that making the goulash would be tricky since I am a vegetarian. But I found this awesome recipe for it, which seems daunting at first, but is actually easier than it looks.  We loved the way it tasted, it was earthy and nutty with a hint of spice at the end. We will definitely make it again. We are it with honey lavender bread, which is just as good as it sounds. (see below for photos if interested)

I didn't just love the foodie parts of the book - I loved all of it.  It also reminded me somewhat of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Lol. This was a fun journey to make, to new made up worlds from an imagination, to Prague, to the food of the country. If you like fantasy/supernatural/paranormal stuff, you should definitely like Daughter of Smoke and Bone. 

Goulash - please excuse my weird food photos.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mini Reviews - Winter Town and The Water Witch

Title: Winter Town
Author: Stephen Emond
Source:  Library

I picked this book up because it felt reminiscent to me of Blankets, which I adored. However, this book was nothing like it. I actually found the main characters in this story annoying, they were all like extreme versions of themselves.  Evan was too straight laced  Lucy trying too hard to be different, Evan's dad too much of a ball buster  The only one I liked was Evan's grandma.  It just didn't interest me; maybe it is because I am not of the intended target audience.

Title: The Water Witch
Author: Juliet Dark
Source: Library Thing

I was so excited to win this book - I had been waiting and waiting to read it.  I like Carol Goodman, who is Juliet Dark; I enjoyed the first in this series, The Demon Lover, which, while it was a paranormal/supernatural novel, still was smart.  You could tell that it had its roots in folkore and fairy tales.  However, The Water Witch missed the mark for me slightly.  It still had its moments which were the kind  I expect from this author, but they were not enough.  The main character, Callie, was still mooning over her banished incubus, and then came the part that I inwardly cringed over - zombie beavers. It just made me sad that zombie beavers were in this book. Enough said, I think. If there is another book in this series, I will read it, and hope this was just a one off. I still have hope that Dark will reconsider the zombie beaver moments, and go back to where she was in the first book.

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where you list the books you read last week and the ones you hope to read this week. 

Read Last Week:


Sideways on a Scooter by Miranda Kennedy: I am about an hour away from finishing this book - I really love it and learned so much from it.

Winter Town by Stephen Emond:  I made myself finish this book. It just didn't appeal to me at all.

The Water Witch by Juliet Dark: Juliet Dark is Carol Goodman, one of my favorite authors. Her normal stuff is not paranormal, but I like paranormal so I gave this series a whirl.  I thought this book was enjoyable and entertaining, but..something was missing. 

Reviews should be up this week on all of them - I am a little behind on reviews!

Reading this week:

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys:  I have heard great things about this book.

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor: I didn't get to this last week, but I definitely will this week.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Book Beginnings - Turtle in Paradise

Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader, 
and is a meme where you post the first sentence (or so) of the book you are currently reading.

Currently Reading: (for work) Turtle in Paradise - a Newbery winner
Author: Jennifer L. Holm

"Everyone thinks children are as sweet as Necco Wafers, but I've lived long enough to know the truth: kids are rotten.  The only difference between grown-ups and kids is that grown-ups go to jail for murder.  Kids get away with it."


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentines Day!

“You should date a girl who reads.
Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things must come to end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.

By Rosemarie Urquico

Happy Valentines Day to all the readers out there, and the people who love them.

We Have a Winner!


Oriana from Only Books

Thank you to everyone who entered, followed, and commented! And thank you to Leeswames for hosting such a fun event.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Breaking Stalin's Nose - Review

Title: Breaking Stalin's Nose
Author: Eugene Velchin
Setting: Russia in the 1960s
Source: My library

Goodreads  Summary:

Sasha Zaichik has known the laws of the Soviet Young Pioneers since the age of six:
The Young Pioneer is devoted to Comrade Stalin, the Communist Party, and Communism.

A Young Pioneer is a reliable comrade and always acts according to conscience.
A Young Pioneer has a right to criticize shortcomings.
But now that it is finally time to join the Young Pioneers, the day Sasha has awaited for so long, everything seems to go awry. He breaks a classmate's glasses with a snowball. He accidentally damages a bust of Stalin in the school hallway.  And worst of all, his father, the best Communist he knows, was arrested just last night.

This moving story of a ten-year-old boy's world shattering is masterful in its simplicity, powerful in its message, and heartbreaking in its plausibility.

My thoughts:

Powerful.  Heartbreaking.  These are the perfect words to describe this book.

When I was in college, I fell in love with learning about Russia. I took Russian for a semester, and I wish I had stuck it out (long story I am sure you don’t want to hear).  My dad had just gotten back from visiting Russia with the high school he was the principal of, and was hosting a teacher from the school they had visited. My dad had so many stories, and so did she. I had a million questions for her, but only felt comfortable asking her one, very unimportant question.  But these events began my lifelong interest in the country and its history.  I continued to take classes having to do with it, every Russian history class I could find.  I remember learning about Stalin, and what a terror he was to his country. During Stalin’s reign, 20 million people were exiled, imprisoned, or killed.

The story begins with Sasha at home, in his communal apartment, or kommunalka, waiting for his father to come home. He is writing a letter to Stalin, telling the leader how he, Sasha, is excited to become a Young Pioneer, which was the Communist version of the Boy Scouts. In his letter, Sasha proclaims how lucky he is to be growing up in the Soviet Union, because he is happy, and he knows that children in capitalist countries may not ever realize their dreams – he later in the chapter says that children in capitalist countries may never even have had a carrot, his favorite treat! Sasha also says that the “Soviet Union is the most democratic and progressive country in the world.” Sasha just wants to grow up to be a great Communist, like his father, a hero. 

Click image for original site

 When his father gets home, things start to go south, and quick.  His father is arrested, and the apartment that Sasha and his father shared is quickly taken over by a family in his kommunalka, leaving Sasha homeless.  Sasha can’t believe this has transpired, realizes that this must be a mistake, and that Stalin will free his father as soon as he hears about the error. The book continues with the next day of Sasha’s life, who goes to school the next day as if nothing has happened, because in his mind, it is something that will soon be remedied.

The reader knows what is going on, although Sasha doesn’t, being the good communist that he is, a true believer. My heart broke for him, as situation after situation came up, and you definitely see how things just snowballed.  If you didn’t suspect someone of spying, and couldn’t say without a doubt that they were loyal communists, you must name them as possible traitors, or be labeled a traitor yourself.  Events unravel and keep unraveling for Sasha. I wasn’t sure almost to the very end, how Velchin was going to finish the story.

Velchin references a satirical story by Gogol, entitled “The Nose”, where a nose leaves an officer’s face and goes to live a life of his own.  Sasha overhears a slightly subversive substitute teacher, Luzhko, talking about “The Nose.” He says:
‘What ‘The Nose’ so vividly demonstrates to us today,’ says Luzhko, ‘is that when we blindly believe in someone’s idea of what is right or wrong for us as individuals, sooner or later our refusal to make our own choices could lead to the collapse of the entire political system.’ ”
Later Sasha has a Kafkaesque experience of his own, where a nose smokes and speaks to him, telling him some ugly truths. 

Breaking Stalin’s Nose shows us how anything at all can look good, especially in the eyes of a child. The same could be said of our own country, where we preach the superiority of capitalism and democracy.  What is important is to remember to think for yourself.

If you would like to know more about this book, and the places and events within it, visit Eugene Velchin's site dedicated to the book.

Read and Reviewed as part of the European Reading Challenge. 

And if you haven't already, enter to win a hardcover copy of The Call of the Wild by Jack London in my Literary Blog Hop Giveaway

Sunday, February 10, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where you list the books you read last week and the ones you hope to read this week. 

                                                                Reading Last Week:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor: I loved this! Very fun book.

Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugen Velchin:  I spent a lot of time reading recent Caldecott and Newbery Winners for work last week, and Breaking Stalin's Nose was one of them. It was amazing.

Reading This Week:

Sideways on a Scooter by Miranda Kennedy:  I love memoir books.

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor: I loved this first, now its time for the second.

Winter Town by Stephen Emond: I am still plugging away at this one - its not really interesting to me, but I want to finish it.

Coming up this week:

Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday and review of Breaking Stalin's Nose 
Wednesday: Review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Thursday: Review -of Caldecott and Newbery 2011-2012 

And if you haven't already, enter to win a hardcover copy of The Call of the Wild by Jack London in my Literary Blog Hop Giveaway

Horns - Review

Title: Horns
Author: Joe Hill
Source: Library

Goodreads Summary:

At first Ig thought the horns were a hallucination, the product of a mind damaged by rage and grief. He had spent the last year in a lonely, private purgatory, following the death of his beloved, Merrin Williams, who was raped and murdered under inexplicable circumstances. A mental breakdown would have been the most natural thing in the world. But there was nothing natural about the horns, which were all too real.

Once the righteous Ig had enjoyed the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned musician and younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, he had security, wealth, and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more—he had Merrin and a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic.

But Merrin’s death damned all that. The only suspect in the crime, Ig was never charged or tried. And he was never cleared. In the court of public opinion in Gideon, New Hampshire, Ig is and always will be guilty because his rich and connected parents pulled strings to make the investigation go away. Nothing Ig can do, nothing he can say, matters. Everyone, it seems, including God, has abandoned him. Everyone, that is, but the devil inside. . . .

Now Ig is possessed of a terrible new power to go with his terrible new look—a macabre talent he intends to use to find the monster who killed Merrin and destroyed his life. Being good and praying for the best got him nowhere. It’s time for a little revenge. . . . It’s time the devil had his due. . . .

My thoughts:

I loved it!  I am such a little horror freak.  I have loved Stephen Kings books since sixth grade, and I have never stopped enjoying them.  I didn't want to read this book and think the whole time how Joe Hill is Stephen King's son - I didn't want to compare like that, it seems unfair.  I was able to forget that fact most of the book, with the exception of a few times, when you could just tell he is the King's son.  

Ig's story is a sad one - the girl he loved for most of his life is brutally raped and killed. And he is the main suspect.  Ig had always been a good boy. He was the kid who followed his parent's orders, never caused trouble, was a good Christian who went to church and prayed, and believed in the good in everyone.  After Merrin's death however, he was no longer the golden child around town - people kept their feelings to themselves, but inwardly, they resented and reviled Ig, thinking that he had gotten away with murder. And if Ig was the town's golden boy, Merrin was their golden girl.  

When Ig suddenly wakes up with horns and new powers, he learns truths that had been buried inside people, the things they keep to themselves.  And he learns what really happened the night Merrin was killed. 

This book is not all sadness and horror - there is some levity to the story, although there are two scenes that really bothered me.  One I had to even skip a few pages past. There was a reference to Bangor, Maine, and a reference to Carrie.  And there are a few sentences that to me, smacked so much of King. Ig is talking to his current girlfriend Glenna. He is telling her to leave the town, change her life, make something of herself.  And then Ig says "Go on now, Glenna. Rearview mirror. " I just sounds to me so King-like, perhaps he helped Joe craft it. 

I only had one question that I felt never was resolved enough for me- why did Ig develop these powers and horns in the first place?

I loved this book - I think Hill took this genre by the horns, the very genre his father is master of, and proved himself to be an outstanding author in his own right. 

Don't forget to enter my giveaway, part of the Literary Blog Hop! You could win a hardcover copy of Call of the Wild by Jack London. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Literary Blog Hop!!

Literary Giveaway Blog Hop


Welcome to the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop!
The Literary Giveaway Blog Hop is hosted by Leeswammes. Between now and Wednesday, February 13th, you can hop to 40 different book blogs, all offering one or more giveaways of books or bookish items. All books will be literary (non)fiction or something close to that. Follow the links at the bottom of this post to find the other participating blogs.

My Giveaway: For the blog hop I will be giving away a copy of Call of the Wild by Jack London.  All this winter weather and snowstorm after snowstorm makes me feel like reading London, and maybe even a little wild myself! I hope you are interested in reading him as well.

Entries are open worldwide as long as The Book Depository delivers to you.  You can find other blogs participating in the linky below. 

To Enter:

1. You need to live somewhere The Book Depository delivers.
2.  You don't need a blog, just an email.
3.  Enter via Rafflecopter below.
4.  Contest is open until Feb. 13th.
5.  I will notify the winner by email, so make sure to comment and leave your email address! Winner must respond in three days, or I will pick another winner.
6. That's it! Good luck!!

Participating blogs!

Linky List:

  1. Leeswammes
  2. The Book Garden
  3. Sam Still Reading
  4. Candle Beam Book Blog
  5. Ciska's Book Chest
  6. Too Fond
  7. Alex in Leeds
  8. Under a Gray Sky
  9. Bibliosue
  10. The Book Club Blog
  11. Fingers & Prose
  12. Lori Howell
  13. Rikki's Teleidoscope
  14. Girl vs Bookshelf
  15. Lizzy's Literary Life (Europe)
  16. Booklover Book Reviews
  17. The Blog of Litwits
  18. Reading World (USA/Can)
  19. Seaside Book Nook
  20. Curiosity Killed the Bookworm
  21. The Book Diva's Reads
  22. Breieninpeking (Europe)
  23. 2606 Books and Counting
  24. Giraffe Days
  25. Lucybird's Book Blog

  1. Roof Beam Reader
  2. The Relentless Reader
  3. Read in a Single Sitting
  4. My Diary (Malaysia)
  5. Heavenali
  6. Dolce Belezza (USA)
  7. The Misfortune of Knowing
  8. My Devotional Thoughts
  9. Nishita's Rants and Raves
  10. Book Nympho
  11. Kaggsysbookishramblings
  12. Quixotic Magpie
  13. Lost Generation Reader
  14. BookBelle
  15. Under My Apple Tree (USA)
  16. Mondays with Mac
  17. Page Plucker

Friday, February 8, 2013

January Book Club 2.0

Hostess: Alyssa
Book: Horns by Joe Hill
Food:  Crepes, cranberry couscous, King Cake
Month: January
Wine of the Night: Bric de Bersan

Entering Alyssa's house is kind of magical -when you walk in, you are greeted with a profusion of art and cats and puppies and Alyssa's own little imps.  There is always something on the stove top, ready for you to eat.  Last night we all trooped in, and pulled our chairs up to the table, pouring wine all around. (well, into glasses)  We chatted a bit about what was going on in our lives, especially Kelly's upcoming trip to London and what she can bring us all back as souvenirs. Lol. 

After a bit, Alyssa got up and made us our crepes. I love crepes, I could eat them everyday, they are so yummy yummy.  She served them with a side of cranberry couscous, and we all gobbled them down pretty quickly.  The pièce de résistance, however, was the King Cake directly from New Orleans.  Despite having visited New Orleans many times, I have never had King Cake, which is a Mardi Gras tradition.  Alyssa told us that growing up in New Orleans, she and her classmates would take turns bringing in a king cake - everyday! King Cakes have a plastic baby baked inside. If you get the piece with the baby, it is your turn to host the next party. Chrissy and Kelly were super paranoid about this, they thought they were either going to chip a tooth or hack to death on it. Kelly ended up having the piece with the baby, and thank goodness she neither chipped a tooth nor did she choke.  

This time around, mostly everyone had read the book, and loved it!  Alyssa, Chrissy and Mary all had quotes from it that they really enjoyed.  We talked about the meaning of different things, what we liked and didn't like- it was great! (My review of Horns will be up either later tonight or tomorrow morning.)  

Alyssa wasn't able to make the December book club and gift exchange, so we got our handmade gift last night.  They are so cute and clever and I love mine!  Her 7 yr. old daughter painted portraits of one of each of our cats. She did a wonderful job!  I am pretty sure this is a portrait of my cat Miso, my only cat with blue eyes.

We all had a great time last night, although we missed Jennifer who was ill, and Jill, who had to work.  Jill has been so busy between school and work that she has missed the last couple of book clubs, so I pulled up a picture of her on my phone so everyone could remember what she looks like. Hopefully she can make our next book club, at the end of this month.  We are reading Blankets, my choice.  


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Top Ten Tuesdays - Bookish Memories


Today's Top Ten Tuesday is Bookish Memories

1.  Visiting the library when I was little: This is probably one of my earliest bookish memories.  My mom and I went to the library constantly. In the summer, my mom would ride her bike with me on the back, until I was old enough to ride a bike myself.  We would go to the park afterwards and eat a lunch and look through our books. Once we took a bus there because I was obsessed with buses and really wanted to ride one. The library is the same one I still go to, and up until last year, the librarian was the same librarian.

2.  Reading in my yard in a tent: When I was little, my parents set up a tent one summer that I read in everyday.  I felt very cool and adventurous. That was also the year I read Harriet the Spy, which inspired me to carry a notebook with me everywhere for a while, writing down my observations.

3.  Attending a writing workshop given by Connie May Fowler:  My dad and I are huge fans of Ms. Fowler, and when we saw she was holding a small writing workshop in St. Augustine a couple of years ago, we of course had to sign up. I flew out alone from Detroit and met my dad in Orlando, and we drove from there to St. Augustine.  The workshop was about ten people and Connie May, in a living room at a beach house. It was awesome.  Everyone else seemed to be a serious writer, in the process of writing a book already - except my dad and I.  Regardless, it was an amazing experience, and I learned a lot in case I ever do write a novel. The best part was eating lunch, just hanging out with Ms. Fowler and her husband and the rest of the group, in the beach house kitchen and balcony, looking out at the Atlantic.  I also had my favorite book by her, Remembering Blue, signed.

4.  Starting my book club:  Book club meetings are one of my favorite days a month. Nerdy I know, but it is always fun.  We try to encourage reading out of our comfort zones.  We also spend a lot of time catching up on each others lives.  

5.  The first time I read Prince of Tides: This was before the movie that we will not talk about. I read this when I was in high school, and I faked being sick so I could stay home and finish it.  I cried my eyes out, but it was love at first sight for me and Conroy's books.

6.  Starting my book blog: I have really enjoyed blogging - it is awesome to see what other people are reading and talk about books. I enjoy this community of big time readers like me. I am not always the most consistent blogger, but that is my goal for the year.

7.  Meeting Kim Harrison:  This was such a fun night.

8.   Meeting Jonathan Rand: The school librarian and I arranged for Rand to speak to our students.  He was very cool to talk to behind the scenes, very down to earth and interesting.

9.  Getting my husband to read, and like it:  My husband is dyslexic, and always hated reading. Reading is such a huge part of my life, and when were dating, I really wanted him to love it as much as I do.  I began by reading books out loud to him - the first book was Bag of Bones, and he loved it.  It was kind of a neat thing, to spend time reading together.  After reading a few more though, I started reading Harry Potter to him. And stopped. Before finishing. He wanted to know what happened and wanted me to read more - I said no, if he wanted to know, he had to read it. So he did, and since then he has become a reader who reads everyday.

10.  Seeing an advanced screening of The Hunger Games: This was amazing. My sister-in-law received free passes to an advanced showing of The Hunger Games from Barnes and Noble, something having to do with a Nook. Seating was by bracelet color, and we had the color to enter the theater first. We waltzed in ahead of everyone, picked the best seats, and minutes later the movie was playing. Everyone there was serious about watching, and there were no people talking, getting up, anything. There weren't even any previews. It was super fun.