Friday, July 22, 2011

Great Summer Reads

I think I'm going to have to re-name this "Which book is on my NOOK?"  Now, I will always be a bibliophile - there is nothing like a book: the smell, the weight of it, the excitement of turning the pages late into the night ...

But that being said, I LOVE MY NOOK.  It is so great being able to access new books in a heartbeat, and our local library has a great selection of lendable e-Books that really helps keep costs down.  Here are some of my favorites so far.

I love, love, loved this book!  I just stumbled upon it on Barnes & Nobles's top 100 list and it sounded right up my alley: Scotland, castles, an authoress writing, a love story .... all in all it sounded like a great summer read.

It was absolutely fantastic!!  I think I read the whole thing in under 48 hours just because I couldn't put it down.  I think one of the things that I loved the best was how the heroine's novel-in-progress was woven into the heroine's story, so that half the time you were reading her book, and half the time you were reading her story.  The book was extremely well written, engaging, and I was completely enthralled.  I can't wait to read Susanna Kearsley's other books, which unfortunately are not available as digital files yet.

Hope you have the chance to enjoy it too - if you only have time to read one book this summer, make it this one.

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I'm a big fan of Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series - the inspiration behind HBO's True Blood series, which I also love.

Unfortunately, this book left me a little "high-n-dry."  Don't get me wrong - the storyline is still good ... but this book almost seemed like in the rush to get it published, the author stopped in the middle of things, leaving a whole bunch of loose ends without making a whole lot of progress on the storyline.  I think that if you're a true fan, you'll still read the book, but don't make the same mistake I made, and rush out and buy the hardcover edition.  Wait for the paperback .... or better yet, try and find it at the library!

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I'm a big fan of the Pink Carnation series too.  In case you haven't notice, I'm a HUGE sucker for series.  I seem to get sucked into them, but have this completely anal issue of having to read all the books in the series in order, and if a new book comes out and it's been awhile since I've read the previous books, I have to re-read all the previous books in order, before starting the latest book.  (You can only imagine why I've had to give up on the Outlander series.  As much as I absolutely adore them, I haven't even tried to start the last book, because I don't remember enough of her extensive characters and twisty plots to start it without re-reading the 60,000 pages that come before it.  And yes, I own all of the audio books too, but really ... they're 45 hours long EACH.  I could practically finish at least one quilt per book!!!)

Ok - sorry for that tangent.  I keep reading this series - I mean, for heaven's sake, they're books about Eloise, a grad student's doing her doctoral dissertation (in HISTORY of all subjects) research in London, and each book tells the story of Edwardian characters she encounters along the way, along with her "real-life" encounters namely with a hunky Englishman named Colin (again ... what's not to love ... see here and here if you need to be convinced) - because I love the evolving romance between Eloise and Colin.  The historical story lines ... at least in this book, and the previous book ... have been leaving me completely flat.

Will I read the next two books in the series?  Probably, but I'll wait for the e-Book version from my library, rather than waste my precious book allowance on another one ...

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Now this next book, I really have mixed feelings about recommending, but because I couldn't put it down, I'm going to go ahead and add it to the list anyways.

If you're uncomfortable with riskee topics, or are particularly in love with either the original Alice in Wonderland book by Lewis Carrol, or are obsessed with the Disney movie, I think it's best that we part ways HERE for the evening.  Trust me. 

If you're intrigued, but a little unsure, let me set the tone.  This book is the story of the real life little girl that was supposedly the inspiration behind Carroll's book.  If you don't know anything about Lewis Carrol, or the allegations against him recently brought to light, might I suggest reading up on his life (great wikipedia.org article here - see the section on Alice or on Controversies and Myths especially) before trying the book.

So when I first downloaded this book from the library, I knew NOTHING about Carroll's life, and honestly didn't really pick up on the allegations or what the author was hinting at right away.  It really started making me feel a little uncomfortable reading it, but I had a morbid curiosity to finish the book to see how it ended and what happened to all the characters.  I'm glad that I did - it was an interesting read and a great fictionalized story of actual historical figures and happenings.  If you're looking for something different to read, and I haven't scared you off yet, this is a good book.

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My last recommendation came to me at the recommendation of a co-worker.  She basically told me that she hates historical fiction, doesn't usually enjoy the fantasy, mystical-type stories involving time-travel or previous lives, and can't stand reading books that {usually rather poorly} try to take take several seemingly unrelated story yarns and weave them together into one cohesive tapestry.

That being said ... she LOVED this book.  And so did I!  The story's narrator is a guy who lived a very colorful life before waking up in his hospital's burn unit as a result of crashing his car during a cocaine binge.  While recovering, he encounters Marianne, a sculptor of grotesques, who befriends him, and tells him fantastical stories about their life together in medieval Germany, when they fell in love for the first time.

This book was great!  It was laugh-out-loud funny - at least to my twelve-year-old-boy sense of humor - a bit crass, endearing, and surprising.  This was definitely #2 on my list of favorites.  Hope you enjoy it too!

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So - I'm on the hunt for my next e-books.  Any recommendations that you can share?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hello Old Friends

Well ... little did I know that my little four week hiatus would turn into a four month extended vacation!  But ... you see ... I really do have a reasonable excuse: our little family of two will soon be a family of THREE!

 Introducing ...


... our sweet baby boy, scheduled to arrive at the end of October.
Hubby and I have finally decided on a name (we think ...), but have also decided to be poor sports and not share with the rest of the world until the little man makes his debut.  In the meantime, Hubby has taken to calling him, "Voltron, Defender of the Uterus."  Gotta love us 80's babies. 


My side of the family, which includes hardly any 80's babies, has taken to calling him "Blaze," after St. Blasius, the patron saint of Dubrovnik, Croatia - one of the favorite stops on our large family vacation several years ago ... and the favorite topic of conversation of our squirrely male tour guide, Andrea, whose monologue mainly consisted of fabulous nuggets of information in the following format: "This is St. Blasius.  He was a saint and his name was Blasius..."


My father-in-law would prefer a strong, Spanish name for his little soccer-playing grandson.  I suggested "David Villa," but he didn't think that was too funny.  Anyone know where I can order a Spanish soccer jersey onesie with a number "7" on the back?




So ... as you can imagine, I haven't really gotten a whole lot done on the crafty front lately.  I pretty much spent the first four months of my pregnancy sleeping, and the next three months flew by so quickly that I don't even know that I could tell you what we were up to - only that it seemed that we were constantly busy.  We finally finished up with our move to the next town over (literally 2.5 miles down the road from our old neighborhood) into a great, kid-friendly, ONE-STORY, home with a fantastic backyard - and let me tell you, I don't miss climbing those stairs at our last place at all!  I think our favorite part is spending the cooler evenings outside, enjoying the delta breeze and watching our pups patrol the yard, trying to keep all the bugs and birds at bay.

I'm finally getting started on some crafty projects for the baby, plus some fun stuff on the home front, and should have some pictures to share soon.  Don't worry, the blog isn't turning into a "kiddie-gear" blog - but considering I can't sit at my sewing machine for very long before Voltron starts kicking in protest over being squished as I lean forward to cut or use the machine, I do have to warn you that the majority of my projects will probably be baby-related.  Be back soon, I promise!!