Friday, January 31, 2014

January Book Club

Hostess: Kelly
Book: Easy by Tammara Webber
Food: Salad, Flat bread pizza with white sauce, green olives and black olives, chocolate-cream cheese cupcakes
Month: January
Wine of the Night: Apothic Red

The weather this winter has been crazy, but it seemed to have let up just enough to allow us to have book club. The temperature was cold but not in the negatives, and the snow had momentarily taken a break.

We trickled in, one by one, leaving our shoes by the door, grabbing a glass of wine, and choosing a seat in Kelly's living room. The living room at her house gives a feeling of a warm cave, with its thick walls and drawn curtains. It is cozy and safe feeling, and I curled into my spot on the couch immediately.

Mary was not in attendance, due to the miracle of birth! Our pregnant friend had her baby a week before, so of course could not make it to book club. I got to visit the munchkin, and he is super adorable!

Meet Baby Will!

Mary did call in, and talked to everyone for a minute via speakerphone about her thoughts on the book. 

After stuffing our faces, we got down to business. This book was New Adult, so it was on the young side for us, but we still enjoyed it. It definitely has a message, and I feel part of its mission is to educate and inform. Right away, in the first few pages of the book, the main character is nearly raped by someone she knows. The rest of the book is how she deals with it. She also has a love interest, who at first is everywhere and is creepy, but he really is a good guy. Anyway, the book is a quick and easy read, and could be used as a discussion opener regarding rape. 

While we sat in our little cave, the snow had started to fall again. We didn't know it, sitting in the closed up room, drinking wine and talking. When Kelly's husband came home with their five-year old daughter, he let us know that the roads were getting bad. Jennifer lives a bit further away, so she took off because of the weather. The rest of us hung out a bit longer, reluctant for the night to end. It has been hard to be cooped up, it was nice to get out and relax. Kelly's daughter wanted to join out book club, and brought out her Sammy the Seal book. I ended up reading it to her, because I love Syd Hoff and I actually wanted to read it again. Lol. After that, we wrapped up for the night, and all headed home, safe and sound. 

Next month is Mary's month. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book Review: Waking the Dead by Heather Graham

Title: Waking the Dead
Author: Heather Graham
Source: Library

From Graham's website:

In the case of Ghosts in the Mind by Henry Sebastian Hubert, that's more than just an expression. This painting is reputed to come to life—and to bring death. The artist was a friend of Lord Byron and Mary Shelley, joining them in Switzerland during 1816, "the year without a summer." That was when they all explored themes of horror and depravity in their art?.
Now, almost two hundred years later, the painting appears in New Orleans. Wherever it goes, death seems to follow.
Danielle Cafferty and Michael Quinn, occasional partners in solving crime, are quickly drawn into the case. They begin to make connections between that summer in Switzerland and this spring in Louisiana. Danni, the owner of an eccentric antiques shop, and Quinn, a private detective, have discovered that they have separate but complementary talents when it comes to investigating unusual situations.
Trying to blend their personal relationship with the professional lives they've stumbled into, they learn how much they need each other. Especially as they confront this work of art—and evil. The people in the portrait might be dead, but something seems to wake them and free them to commit bloody crimes. Cafferty and Quinn must discover what that is. And they have to destroy it—before it destroys them.

My Thoughts:

Once again, Graham has delivered a book that you can run away to when you to need a moment to yourself to unwind and relax. That being said, there are definitely some parts of this book that will give you the chills or make you look over your shoulder while reading it, especially if you are home alone at the time.

Michael Quinn and Dani Cafferty are reunited again in this book. It is the second in the Cafferty and Quinn series, the first book being Let the Dead Sleep. This time, the mystery involves a creepy painting on which are painted people in various murderous stages. A man with a gun behind his back, a kid with a toy sized guillotine chopping the head off of a doll who is screaming, among others.This painting was also said to have been painted when the artist was trying to impress the group of Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. We have all heard the origins of Frankenstein; this book builds on that story.

Graham references the Year Without a Summer in this book - it is the time in which this macabre yet creative group got together, and the painting was created in Waking the Dead. I knew that one summer, these literary geniuses got together and challenged each other to write scary stories, to match the weather outside. But I did not realize that this was a historical weather event, that there was a pervasive gloom across the globe, blocking the sun and causing snow in June, and famine. It was more than 100 years later that the cause was discovered: the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia. The Mount Tambora eruption is the worst volcanic eruption in the last 10,000 years - and those that lived through it (outside of the ones who were directly there) had no idea what was going on, why their worlds were so affected. I thought that this backstory was a great place for Graham to begin this book. Mysterious and I am sure some thought it was the end of days, it would have been the perfect environment for horror to breed in.

When this painting is moved to New Orleans, people start dying. Quinn and Cafferty are quick to figure out what is going on and what needs to be done, and do their best to save lives and to stop the murders entirely. There are even a few trips to Switzerland, to a creepy old mansion with a crypt.

My only issue is that something is missing in the relationship between Cafferty and Quinn. The basic formula is there for us to read, but I am not feeling a real connection between these two. Its almost there, but not quite. I feel more of a connection between Dani and Wolf, the dog, and Quinn and Wolf, than I do between Dani and Michael. And Wolf was definitely not in this book enough for me; poor guy was being shuffled around and left behind constantly. I of course am terrified every book that something will happen to him. Don't fear this book for that reason, if you are like me.

This book is pure escapism with a shot of fear. If you like to relax while reading a thriller supernatural mystery, this book is definitely for you. I know that I enjoyed it!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

New Adventures in New Old Detroit

Saturday night, the wind was roaring through the streets of Detroit, tinged with icy cold. Snow was thick on the ground, and still falling. It should have been the perfect night to order in and watch movies. Instead, we chose to go out! We had an evening planned with my brother and his wife; we were going out to dinner, then to a new distillery in Detroit. Yep, distillery! The Two James Spirits Distillery is hailing itself as the first distillery in Detroit since Prohibition!

 Detroit was pretty active in the rum running business back then, in case you didn't know. There are tunnels under houses all along the river, even in the city I live in, that go back to the Volstead Act. Everyone has heard the legends of running alcohol across the Detroit river from Canada, winter or summer, by boat, or by car travelling across the ice! No thank you on that one! There was organized crime as well, a gang called The Purple Gang. 

Recently, the craft beer and cocktail culture in Detroit has been growing, with different breweries popping up here and there in the city. But Two James is the first of its kind - and is appropriately located in Corktown, the old Irish area of Detroit. And we weren't going to let a little snow and ice stop us from going!

Our first stop however was dinner, since you can't drink on an empty stomach! My brother has been wanting to try Supino Pizza, located in the Eastern Market area of Detroit, which services all the food warehouses and the big farmers market. My sister-in-law, who desperately hates the cold and whom I call "The Coldest Girl in Coldtown" since seeing the book with that title, said " There is not much worth going out for in this horrible cold, but pizza is one of those things."  

Supino is a little place, with a few scarred up wooden tables and chairs, most of them looking like like they came out of an old school somewhere, but this is all part of the charm. The entryway is loosely closed off from the door by a hanging curtain that doesn't like to stay closed, allowing in the horrendously cold air, and there are groups of people scattered about, waiting for their pizza or a table or both. We lucked out, and walked right up to the register to order. The cold had made us ravenously hungry, so we ended up ordering two large pizzas for four people. We took a seat at one of the taller tables, this one more like a butcher block table than an elementary desk table, and waited. The cashier told us it would be about 30 minutes, so we sat and chatted, all the while our stomachs grumbled from seeing the warm and gooey pizzas fly past us on the way to their destinations. The scent of cooking pizza, basil, oregano wafted from the back kitchen on little puffs of heat, warming us up just a little as well.  

In no time at all it seemed our pizzas arrived. My brother and his wife ordered the Supino pizza, which is chunks of roasted garlic, black olives, chili oil, ricotta, and mozzarella. Billy and I ordered the Verdue e Funghi, which has parsley, basil, mushrooms, mozzarella, smoked gouda, and parmigiano.

Our pizza. I didn't get a shot of the other pizza. 

It was amazing. The crust was perfect, thin and crispy, the cheese was perfect, and the slices wide. We all folded them in half to eat them, and I have to say we ate almost all of it.  After trading pieces between all of us, I hate to say, but we essentially demolished them both. Only one piece of the Supino was left, two of the mushroom. That was it.  In my opinion, the Supino pizza was just a bit better than our mushroom one, but I think I need that sharp tangy salty olive taste on my pizza. This place has been added to my favorite places, and I will be going again. Maybe sooner than later.

From Supino, we headed directly to Two James. We lucked out with a close parking spot, and entered the old warehouse/distillery. We arrived pretty early, and there were not many people there yet. There is a big circle bar in the very center of the room, with just a few tables, maybe three off against one wall, so seating is limited. It was decorated in a minimal fashion, in shades of brown and huge art pieces on the wall. The best feature are the barrels that line practically a whole wall; through them (and glass) you can see into the actual distillery on the other side. It has that new feel, that unbroken in feel, still, only having been opened a few months. 

Moscow Mule 

We took a seat at the bar and ordered. Chrissy and I ordered their Moscow Mules, made from their own 28 Island Vodka. The weather outside was making me think of Moscow in winter, and the drink felt appropriate. It was pretty good, and had that breathtaking quality I love in them from the ginger. Devin ordered a Corktown Flip, while Billy ordered the Sazerac. The don't have a cocktail menu online yet, and I don't remember what was in Devin's, so I apologize.


By the next round, the place was really filling up. A woman came in with a bakery box, and took a seat at the bar. Our bartender went over to talk to her, and came back with slices of fresh baked brownie. The woman had loved their Grass Widow Bourbon so much, that she was inspired to incorporate it into her brownies. They were delicious! Two James should consider adding them to the menu.  The bartender also heard me say that I didn't like gin drinks, and presented me with a shot glass full of their own Old Cockney Gin. And I have to say, it wasn't bad! I hate gin usually, its like swallowing a Christmas tree, but their version was much smoother and distilled from heavy juniper. It could almost make me a gin drinker!

Springtime for Hoffa

This time, I went crazy and ordered the Springtime for Hoffa. It was made with their Grass Widow Bourbon, their limited reserve Apple Brandy, and currant jam, notably. It was amazing and maybe one of the best drinks I have had ever. The Apple Brandy was from a small batch they had distilled from local apples, and was a tester type batch. I hope they make more of it next year, because it was good! At this point, the bar was packed full. The auto show is going on in Detroit, so we have a lot of people in town for the show. I ended up talking to a man from South Africa who works for Honda; he asked advice on what drink to get. I emphatically recommended the Springtime for Hoffa. He took my suggestion, and he and everyone in his group loved it too. 

The distillery offers their own brand of vodka, bourbon, gin and rye whiskey currently. They also make their own vinegars and shrubs, such as beet and carrot, apple pie, and fig. You can visit on a weekend and drink in their tasting room, or you can opt to sign up for a tour. We will for sure be signing up for a tour in the future. Two James was a great place to spend a few hours on a cold night! They have great drinks, some pricey while others are less so, but not much seating, and it is hard to get service at times in the night due to how busy it gets. Overall it was a great experience, and a win for Detroit!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, that is guaranteed to add to your reading list. 

I think I am beginning to achieve a balance between work, classes, and my personal life, including this blog. I have a plan and I am going to stick to it! I also got my first assignment back in one of my classes, and was happy to have aced it! 

Read Last Week:


I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith: Loved this coming of age story. I found it perfect for the weather too. My review.

Waking the Dead by Heather Graham: This was another fun supernatural mystery by Graham. Review Wednesday.

Reading this Week:


Snowblind by Christopher Golden: This book just seems appropriate given the crazy winter we are having here in Michigan. We are supposed to have another polar vortex and -35 temps this week, just when I plan to read this book. 

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen: Because she is amazing and everything she writes is as well.

Book Review: I Capture the Castle

Title: I Capture the Castle
Author: Dodie Smith
Source: Library

Goodreads Summary:

During six turbulent months in 1934, 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain keeps a journal, filling three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries about her home, a ruined Suffolk castle, and her eccentric and penniless family. By the time the last diary shuts, there have been great changes in the Mortmain household, not the least of which is that Cassandra is deeply, hopelessly, in love. 

My Thoughts:

I think if I would have read this book as a child, I would have spent hours upon hours daydreaming about being Cassandra Mortmain. I would have written in my journals with my feet in the sink, and re-enacted my own Midsummer rites. Most of all, I would have daydreamed about living in a crumbling castle with the the eccentric Mortmains. Even though I did not read it years ago, I was still caught up in the idea of it all.

It is a book that is whimsical yet set against poverty. Cassandra begins the novel as a girl, with her head in the clouds and feet in the sink, enjoying the eccentricities of her family and their condition. There is a sense of family togetherness, that despite not having enough to eat, the good times out the bad things. Cassandra is able to look past all of these, and goes about her days reading and writing with her dog Heloise faithfully beside her, plotting and planning the family's return to financial security. Will Rose marry well? Will Topaz get another commission in London to sit for an artist's painting? Cassandra herself plans on raising her family from their impoverished state by writing. They all cross their fingers and tiptoe around Mr. Mortmain, hoping that one of these days while he is locked in his office, he will be struck by inspiration, and write another novel. Although you know that this family does not have much, it never seems depressing or dire. They have a warm togetherness, that spirit of making it through and making do as a family.

This all starts to change when two rich American's bump into town, after inheriting the nearby Scoatney Hall, and become the new landlords of the Mortmain castle. Simon, the older brother, has more money, and therefore Rose sets her cap for him, regardless of the fact of whether she actually could love him. Eventually, through a series of different events and escapades, Simon does fall in love with Rose, and asks her to marry him. This is all wine and roses, until the night that Simon visits the castle, and Cassandra is the only one about. She is about to begin her Midsummer rituals, and Simon joins her. They spend a wonderful night talking and drinking a little wine, and consequently Simon kisses her, a friendly little kiss. Cassandra falls instantly madly in love with Simon, and although she can't tell anyone her feelings, she is a little obsessed with him. When this happened, I felt like Cassandra was going to have a little crush and move on. But that is not what happened.

A little sidebar here: And then there is Stephen, the loyal family servant who is like a member of the family. Poor Stephen, who in my opinion is treated shabbily the whole book. Stephen is described as extremely handsome (and must be because Henry Cavill plays him in the movie), and he is in love with Cassandra. Any extra that he earns, he uses to buy food for the Mortmains or to buy little things he thinks Cassandra needs. He wants to take care of her, and has a huge generous heart. The most heartbreaking part of the book: Stephen, who works hard for his money, buys Cassandra a small radio for her birthday; later that day she gets a fancy gramophone radio thing from Simon. It wounds Stephen, who says he had the privilege of earning it for her. I did not like where Stephen ended up in the story, it just seemed like he deserved better ending.

Back to the Mortmains: Once Simon and Rose are engaged, the entire family and their dynamics change. Money splits this close knit family, taking them from their castle, where they may not have money but they were together, and scatters the family here and there, all doing their own thing. Topaz and Rose move off to London with the Cottons, and Mortmain spends half his time there as well, speaking with Mrs. Cotton, Simon's mother. Stephen is off working as a model and hopeful actor in London, and Cassandra and Thomas are in residence at the castle, sometimes with their dad. Everything has changed Cassandra; she is no longer lost in daydreams, but sees things as the realities they are. She has taken off the rose colored glasses she viewed the world through, and works on righting the wrongs that she sees, but not without making a few missteps herself.

I enjoyed this book a lot. When I first started reading it in October, I just couldn't get into it, I was in the mood for something scary. But I couldn't let the Mortmain's go, I had to know what happened to this family. January was the perfect time to read it, all snuggly in my slippers, the slight draft in my house matching the chill of the castle. This book is romantic, a coming of age story, and  perfectly cozy for the winter.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Nonfiction Reading Challenge

The Nonfiction Reading Challenge 

I always participate in the Introverted Reader's Southern Lit Challenge, and this year I decided to switch it up. Instead of participating in the southern challenge, I am choosing to participate in the Nonfiction Reading Challenge instead! I am not the best at reading nonfiction, so my goal is to at least make the "Explorer" level, which is 6-10 nonfiction books. 

I am looking forward to challenging my reading this year!

Monday, January 20, 2014

It's Monday What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey!

I am a little late today, I came down with a really bad cold last night. I am feeling a bit better this morning. :)

Read Last Week:

The $64 Tomato by William Alexander: I enjoyed the book until it started to get dark. Review is linked in the title.

Easy by Tammara Webber: This is our book club book. It was better than I thought!

Reading This Week:


I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith: I started this book a few months ago, and now I am going to finish it. Lol.

Waking the Dead by Heather Graham: Another book I need to finish.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Book Review: The $64 Tomato

Title: The $64 Tomato
Author: William Alexander
Source: Library

Goodreads Summary:

Bill Alexander had no idea that his simple dream of having a vegetable garden and small orchard in his backyard would lead him into life-and-death battles with groundhogs, webworms, weeds, and weather; midnight expeditions in the dead of winter to dig up fresh thyme; and skirmishes with neighbors who feed the vermin (i.e., deer). Not to mention the vacations that had to be planned around the harvest, the near electrocution of the tree man, the limitations of his own middle-aged body, and the pity of his wife and kids. When Alexander runs (just for fun!) a costbenefit analysis, adding up everything from the live animal trap to the Velcro tomato wraps and then amortizing it over the life of his garden, it comes as quite a shock to learn that it cost him a staggering $64 to grow each one of his beloved Brandywine tomatoes. But as any gardener will tell you, you can't put a price on the unparalleled pleasures of providing fresh food for your family.

My thoughts:

I am a gardener who enjoys reading gardening and farming memoirs, so I was wholeheartedly expecting to love The $64 Tomato. And I almost did.

I would say that I really enjoyed reading 90% of this book. Alexander's gardening mishaps were amusing, and I could relate to a few. I also related to the desire to have a garden - fresh produce all year round, and about as local as you can get. There is something so satisfying about making a meal knowing that you are the one responsible for the growing of the majority of it. Like Alexander, I pore over seed catalogs during the cold days of winter, daydreaming and making wish lists of what I want to plant in the spring. Every year I try to switch it up, and plant different things, and I really look forward to January when the catalogs all start to arrive.

All gardeners have to deal with the pests that invade the garden - it's just the way it goes. But Alexander goes to the extreme in dealing with them, and here is where he loses me.  He live traps the ground animals that make a feast of his vegetables, and lets them go elsewhere -  this is fine, that makes sense to me. But one day, he caught a possum, a creature he described as spitting mad and extremely angry. I have seen many possums in traps in my volunteer capacity at the city pound, and I have never seen one like that. Most are sitting in the corner of the trap, scared and confused. Others act like it is not their first rodeo, and calmly hang out, all relaxed. So maybe Alexander got a mean one. I can understand that too. I am sure it happens. But Alexander makes the conscious decision to let the possum die in the trap from dehydration and exposure to the hot August day. He intentionally makes the decision to let this animal suffer to death. When after three days it is just barely still alive , he tries to drown it by submerging the trap into a garbage can filled with water. But the water is not deep enough, and the possum clings to the top, trying to keep its head above water. After all is said and done, Alexander frees the possum into the woods, where it probably wobbled off and died, according to him. This makes me sick. If you are going to trap an animal, man up and take care of it, don't leave it to suffer for days on end. That is just torture. But then I guess I am one of those animal rights people you just can't reason with, as he says in his book. I decided to ask my meat eating husband what he thought, and without any prompting on my part, he came to the same conclusion that I did; he says there is no reason that an animal should suffer like that.

I am sure there was something else he could have done, such as contacting animal control; I fairly certain he mentioned a pest control guy lives down the street from him. In addition to torturing the possum, he also installs an electric fence with a 6,000 volt charge to discourage deer from entering his garden. As a result he repeatedly albeit accidentally, electrocutes his tree surgeon. This is full metal gardening.

After reading this book, it was no surprise to me that he grew $64 tomatoes. He paid a professional landscapers to design and create his garden, including "Big Machinery" to move the earth around, not to mention that crazy electric wire. I am glad I don't need to resort to such measures. My garden is regularly raided by rabbits and voles and squirrels, and probably mice too, and while I hate losing produce to them, it is a small price to pay. What we grow is more than plenty, for my family and for the animals. And I am sure my tomatoes wouldn't cost $64,  although they are very delicious.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

Brought to you by Sheila at Book Journey!

The weather was insane last week! Temperatures reached -40 on Tuesday, it was like living in the arctic! My work was cancelled for three whole days, and so were on campus classes at the university, but my online classes were able to begin, so I spent much of the week working on my assignments. I am enjoying classes so far, so I have high hopes. Except I am thinking of changing my major - again. Just like the first time I went to college. Lol. Anyway, I didn't get as much recreational reading done as I would have, but I still did manage two books. 

Read Last Week:


Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater: I read this series a few years back, and I have to say, I am liking it much more this time around! I can't say why though. I really enjoyed this book.

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater: I enjoyed this one, but not as much as Shiver. I think because I am a girl who likes a happy ending. 

Reading this week:


French Women Don't Get Facelifts by Mireille Guiliano: I thought the first book, French Women Don't Get Fat was interesting, although I didn't actually incorporate her rules into my life. Except I could use more champagne in my life, so maybe I will try that rule out. (Was that a rule? I can't remember. It seems like it should be though) I am just super curious as to what she has to say in this one.

The $64 Tomato by William Alexander: I was supposed to read this a week or two ago, but it took a very long time to come in to the library, due to the crazy weather we have been having! The libraries were actually closed due to the cold for a bit, if you can believe it. 

Posts from last week:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Book Review: City of Thieves

Title: City of Thieves
Author: David Benioff
Source: Brother

Goodreads Summary:

During the Nazis’ brutal siege of Leningrad, Lev Beniov is arrested for looting and thrown into the same cell as a handsome deserter named Kolya. Instead of being executed, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful Soviet colonel to use in his daughter’s wedding cake. In a city cut off from all supplies and suffering unbelievable deprivation, Lev and Kolya embark on a hunt through the dire lawlessness of Leningrad and behind enemy lines to find the impossible.

By turns insightful and funny, thrilling and terrifying, City of Thieves is a gripping, cinematic World War II adventure and an intimate coming-of-age story with an utterly contemporary feel for how boys become men.

My Thoughts:

I was completely enthralled by this book. I was so excited about it, that when my husband came home from work I started to tell him about it, and ended up chronicling the book from start to finish. He now knows every single thing that happened in it. I can't believe it took so long for me to read it; my brother left it at my house a few years ago, and it took me that long to pick it up and read it. I am sorry I didn't read it sooner.

The story sounds simple: two men on a search for a dozen eggs. But it is so much more. Imagine searching for a dozen eggs during the siege of Leningrad in the winter. No one has eaten, there is no food in the city, the land is barren and cold. Dogs and cats no longer exist as pets or even on the streets. They resort to "library candy", eating the glue from the bindings of books, for the tiny amount of protein to be gained. People are desperate, and doing desperate things.

The two main characters Lev and Kolya are as different as two characters could be. A soldier, Kolya, a golden boy of 20, is affable, charming, and has an easiness of spirit, even when the chips are down. He finds things to smile and joke about, and spreads his good humor around. Lev, a 17 year old boy, is serious, a deep thinker, who does not think of himself as courageous, and admires his new comrade Kolya, even when he is annoyed at him. An unlikely pair thrown together by fate, who through their journey of only a few days become great friends. I don't want to give much away so I don't want to say much, but there are moments in this book that are so full of beauty and sadness, strength and desperation, that I never knew what was coming on the next page.

I loved this book. It was one of the best books I read in 2013, and I highly recommend it to everyone.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

December Book Club

Hostess: Chrissy
Book: Rant by Chuck Palahniuk
Food: Homemade vegetarian lasagna, fresh salad, cheese and crackers, Hershey and Toasted Almond pie
Month: December
Wine of the Night: Chariot Gypsy Wine

It seems somewhat appropriate that our December book club would take place during the middle of a blizzard. The snow started coming down and just didn't stop! Jennifer was prevented by the icy and snowy road conditions, and had to turn around and head back to her home, it was so bad out there. Most of us live closer, and were able to ford the snowbanks for the few block drive. 

Walking into Chrissy's house was warm, cozy, and inviting. The lasagna was perfectly gooey and hot, and we all settled in with our drinks and plates. We discussed our holidays, and what has been going on for the past few weeks while we stuffed our faces. Then we talked about this book.

This book was crazy!! Borderline disgusting in some parts, a bit of a mind bang in others. and then other parts were really good - it was very mixed up and I am not sure how I feel about it! This was the consensus from most of us, actually. The sex tornado of personal hygiene products, the nose picking, the purposeful rabies - all of this seemed to fit together, and formed a cohesive story. But then enter the party crashing, rape, and time travel - this was the mind bang. I didn't know what was going on most of the time, and to be honest, some parts I still don't get! Regardless, this book caused some sort of reaction in all of us, whether it was confusion, disgust, or a love of the book. No one could say that this book was just meh. It made you feel something no matter what that feeling was.

Besides discussing the book, December book club is also our gift exchange! Some gifts were homemade, others were purchased, but all were exchanged in the spirit of giving. I unfortunately do not have photos of everything, but here are the gifts I do have pictures of. 

From Mary: Bracelets with individual charms. I had a hedgehog, Chrissy received a squirrel, Jennifer a swirly symbol, Kelly a cameo, Jill a tea pot, and Alyssa fleur de lis. 

From Kelly: Literary candles. These too were different. Everyone received either an Austen or Bronte candle. 

From Chrissy: We each received a copy of The Great Gatsby and some homemade chocolate with nuts. That is not pictured because I ate all of mine.

From Jill: Chocolate Coconut Cookie Mix. Cookies are definitely getting made this weekend. 

Not pictured: The homemade tea sugar scrub I made, the homemade soap from Jennifer, and the hammered silver bracelets that say Read More from Alyssa. It was a wonderful evening, and I was so thankful for the book club ladies I meet with every month!

January is Kelly's month. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

Brought to you by Sheila at Book Journey!

Wow, is it cold here!! And even colder temps are on the way. And the snow is unbelievable! Detroit has been hit pretty hard by this winter storm, my work and school have even been cancelled for Monday, at least, and there is a possibility of Tuesday as well. I have been a busy little social butterfly this week, and haven't managed to do anything productive! That will definitely change this week!

Read Last Week:

Paris in Love by Eloisa James: This was not the book I intended to start the year off with, but it is the one I ended up reading. Very readable and a nice easy way to start the year. I participated in Sheila's First Book of the Year Challenge, but didn't end up reading the book I had planned to read. 

Reading This Week:

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater: My husband bought me this trilogy for Christmas. This blizzard is the perfect time to read it, in my opinion. 

Waking the Dead by Heather Graham: Reading for NetGalley. It should be fun and escapist this week!

Blogged Last Week:

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Books for a Blizzard

It is snowing like crazy here!!! 7 inches is on the ground, and it is still going. Most sane people are staying indoors (I love to go outside and play in it!) and keeping warm. If you are stuck indoors and need a little reading inspiration, I have a few reading suggestions for you.

Blankets by Craig Thompson: Hmm maybe I need to read this again today..

The Shining by Stephen King: For those of you who would like a different sort of chill

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton: A classic snow covered story

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater: When I first read this book, I wasn't sure I liked it. But I haven't been able to stop thinking about it for months! I asked for the series for Christmas and my husband bought it for me. Yay! I am actually reading it again today.

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick: Stark and cold.

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder: This would be a fun family read aloud, especially if you turn out all the lights except one to read by. You can all imagine how isolated it would have been that winter for the Ingalls family.

So slip on your slippers, grab a mug of your favorite warm beverage, and enjoy your snuggly reading time!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!! 1st Book of the Year!

Happy New Year! I hope that everyone had a safe and happy New Year's Eve! New Year's is a holiday of traditions in our house. With my Scottish heritage, it is a tradition to make sure the house is cleaned on Dec. 31st, and with Billy's southern heritage, he makes us a good luck dinner every year. 

So being the type to look for symbolism in what we do Dec. 31st and Jan. 1st, I really took some time to consider what the first book I read would be. After lengthy consideration, the book I chose is:

I chose this to remind myself to believe in myself, and to always pursue what I think is the best journey for me, no matter what.

And here is a terrible photo of me reading it. I look superimposed onto a blue background. Lol. I also am wearing my big hat. My cat Miso looks cute though, as always.

What about you? Any traditions? What book are you reading?