Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday Salon - A weekend of reading

This weekend ended up being a weekend of reading for me.  Partly it was due to the Thankfully Reading Weekend challenge through Jenn's Bookshelves and partly it was due to the fact that I have a book club meeting this coming Saturday and I really need to get Mansfield Park completed, which I should be able to do.

My weekend of reading was kicked off with reading The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure, which I just read during Friday afternoon.  Once lunch had been put eaten and put away, I basically sat down and just read for several hours and before I knew it, I had finished it by the time I went to bed that night (its that type of book).  I quite enjoyed it and identified with the story McClure told, except that I have only been Walnut Grove and De Smet and then only for a bit in Walnut Grove and only a little while in De Smet (my family and I were on the tail end of a cross-Canada journey in which we went through the States about 20 years ago).  I really do want to see her house in Mansfield, but I don't know if I will ever get to it, unless somebody wants to go with me.

And yesterday I spend about 9 hours reading from Mansfield Park, Anna Karenina and Les Miserables.  I managed to complete Book 5 of Anna Karenina and got a good portion of Vol. 4  of Les Miserables.  But today is cleaning, as I have family staying over night and I would prefer to read over cleaning my place. And when you live on your own, you have to do the cleaning or else you live in a pigsty.  But I will likely get some reading done later this afternoon. Till next week.

Review:
1) The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure (review)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Weekend Cooking - Roast Potatoes

It has been awhile since I have shared anything and yes, I am still stuck in making the same things over and over again, but I think I know why and it has to do with some health issues that arose last winter and for some reason I can't seem to get out of the mind set that  I can only eat certain things, but I am feeling that I am eating better, whatever that is worth.

One thing that I have been making regularly since this past summer, when I had a food fart in regards to my cooking, are roast potatoes. They are very easy to make and probably much better than the roast potato kits that I have seen appear in the grocery store in the past year.  I find that these are much better tasting and probably healthier for you.

Roasted Potatoes

Preheat oven to 425.

Put 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil into a large mixing bowl.

Wash and dry potatoes (leave whole if they are mini potatoes; otherwise cut into halves).

Add the potatoes and mix well with clean hands until potatoes are coated with oil.

Add spices: 1 tablespoon each of steak spice and rosemary or thyme.

Put in a glass baking dish that is large enough that they are not piled on top of each other.

Bake in oven for 30-40 min.

Use a spatula to flip them after about 20 min.

After 30 minutes, stick a fork into a few of them to see if they are soft.  Leave in oven until done.


I find that the small mini-potatoes work the best, but then I haven't used larger potatoes.  If you are on your own, its an easy recipe to halve.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie - Wendy McClure

Title: The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie
Author: Wendy McClure
File Size (Pages): 475 KB (352)
Published: 2011
Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir, Humor
Challenges: 2012 Support Your Library
Edition: E-book
Source: Library

Description: Wendy McClure is on a quest to find the world of beloved Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder — a fantastic realm of fiction, history, and places McClure has never been to yet somehow knows by heart. She traces the pioneer journey of the Ingalls family—looking for the Big Woods among the medium trees in Wisconsin, wading in Plum Creek, and enduring a prairie hailstorm in South Dakota. She immerses herself in all things Little House — exploring the story from fact to fiction, and from the TV shows to the annual summer pageants in Laura’s hometowns. Whether she’s churning butter in her apartment or sitting in a replica log cabin, McClure is always in pursuit of “the Laura experience.” Along the way she comes to understand how Wilder’s life and work have shaped our ideas about girlhood and the American West. (via Goodreads.com)

Thoughts: I really liked the book and when I came across it late last year, I knew that this was the sort of book for me.  Yes, I am a fan of the Little House books (my favourites being the final 3 books in the series) and yes, my parents have taken to me to two of the sites, including De Smet, where we saw the Surveyors House and the house in town that her parents resided in after Laura married.  And yes, I did have romantic notions of the family when I was growing up, only to have them dispelled when I was 12.  But despite the fact the information that I have learned over the years, I still love them, as they represent a time and place that really doesn't exist and sort of reminds me of what my ancestors who settled in Kansas and Oklahoma must have gone through, to a degree.

What I like, in addition to Wendy's own story, was learning about the truth about the Ingalls family, or so what I was told. It was pretty interesting and really made me rethink the books and how much they were edited.  And it even goes into the debate of who actually wrote the books (there is discussion out there that the books were actually ghostwritten by Rose, Laura and Almanzo's daughter.

But that being said, I quite enjoyed it and understood it to was meant to Wendy's journey rather than what Laura and her family experienced.

Bottom line: I would recommend this book to Little House fans, but beware that some of your notions of the Ingalls family and their journey west will probably dispelled.  Overall, its a pretty good book.

Rating:  4/5

Pages for 2012: 20545

Thursday, November 22, 2012

#thankfullyreading 2012 Kickoff


I have been looking forward to this for the past few days and have a few books that I am planning on working on this weekend:

• Les Miserables
• Anna Karenina
• Mansfield Park

and there are probably a few others that I am going to hopefully work on during the course of the four days, but these are the main ones that I am planning on reading.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Musing Mondays (Nov. 19)

This week, Miz B at Should Be Reading asks:

Do you read the ending before you start a book? Do you ever skip ahead to read the ending?

I don't read the ending before I start a book; I have done that in the past and I have been really confused.   Depending on the book, I will skip ahead and read the ending, especially if I am really turned around with the storyline.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Nov. 19)


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a fun weekly meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey, in which we share what we've read and reviewed and what we plan on reading in the coming week.

What I have reviewed this week:
1) The Litigators by John Grisham (review)

What I am planning on reading this week:
• Anna Karenina
• Les Miserables

• A Team of Rivals

• The Dressmaker

• Mansfield Park 
• The Taming of the Shrew

• The Hobbit

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge 2012


Its that time of year again and The True Book Addict through her Christmas blog, The Christmas Spirit blog, is once again hosting her annual Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge.  The best thing about this reading challenge is that movies are also included in this version as well.

Here are the details that she has put up on her blog:


  • challenge will run from Monday, November 19, 2012 through Sunday, January 6, 2011 (Twelfth Night or Epiphany).
  • cross over with other challenges is totally permitted AND encouraged!
  • These must be Christmas novels, books about Christmas lore, a book of Christmas short stories or poems, books about Christmas crafts, and for the first time...a children's Christmas books level!
  • visit this POST for a list of new Christmas books for 2012.  There are a lot of good ones coming out this year, including the new Richard Paul Evans novel, A Winter Dream (I just got it yesterday!).
  • Levels:
            --Candy Cane:  read 1 book
            --Mistletoe:  read 2-4 books
            --Christmas Tree:  read 5 or 6 books (this is the fanatic level...LOL!)
          Additional levels:
            --Fa La La La Films:  watch a bunch or a few Christmas movies...it's up to you!
            --Visions of Sugar Plums:  read books with your children this season and share what you read
          *the additional levels are optional, you still must complete one of the main reading levels above

  • the most important rule?  Have fun!!!
  • I will have a review linky posted as a page the day the challenge starts.  You will find it at the top of the left sidebar.
  • Sign up in the linky below (link to your post with your reading list...you can change up your list during the challenge...I just want to be able to stop by to welcome you and see what you plan to read).
One final note:  I am going to do a giveaway of a mystery box of Christmas books to participants in the U.S. (At the moment, I'm not sure on an International prize because of finances, but if I find that I can afford it, I will pick an International winner and they can choose a Christmas book (under $10 or three bargain books for $10, if they're running the promo at the time) from Better World Books.  Giveaway will end at the end of the challenge.

I am definitely joining in at the Christmas Tree level and the Fa La La La Films.  Hope you can join.

Sunday Salon - In the midst of a reading slump, but...

I don't like it when I get into a reading slump; it sucks.  I want to read, but when I get into one of these "slumps" I am either feeling like I am not wanting to read at all or I am feeling overwhelmed.  When I am feeling overwhelmed, I somehow am able to plow through the books that I am reading and get the reading done, but when I am not feeling like reading, I don't really read and have to force myself to read.

The reason that I mention these two is because I am probably going between the two. I probably will get through it, but at the moment I feel as though I won't.  The reason that I feel like this is because of the fact that Christmas is coming and that there is so much that is going on and my head feels like it is spinning.  I am hoping that by this time next week, I will won't feel this way, as when I get my Christmas cards off, I will feel a little more sane.

Hope everybody have has relaxing Sunday, however you are going to be spending it.

Review:
1) The Litigators by John Grisham (review)
2) All Things New by Lynn Austin (review)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thankfully Reading Weekend 2012


Its that time of year again when Americans induce themselves with lots of turkey (and the stuff that goes along with it) and football.  But for some it will also include a lot of reading.  And thanks to Jenn at Jenn's Bookshleves, there is a way to do this, even if you don't live in the States.

The Reading Weekend will be taking place November 22-25 and you can follow along through the hashtag #thankfulreading.  You can find more details and sign up here.  I hope that you can join.

The Litigators - John Grisham

Title: The Litigators
Author: John Grisham
File size (Pages): 2532 KB (352)
Published: 2011
Genre: Fiction
Challenges: 2012 Support Your Library
Edition: E-book
Source: Library

Description: The partners at Finley & Figg often refer to themselves as a “boutique law firm.” Boutique, as in chic, selective, and prosperous. Oscar Finley and Wally Figg are none of these things. They are a two-bit operation of ambulance chasers who bicker like an old married couple. Until change comes their way—or, more accurately, stumbles in. After leaving a fast-track career and going on a serious bender, David Zinc is sober, unemployed, and desperate enough to take a job at Finley & Figg.
 
Now the firm is ready to tackle a case that could make the partners rich—without requiring them to actually practice much law. A class action suit has been brought against Varrick Labs, a pharmaceutical giant with annual sales of $25 billion, alleging that Krayoxx, its most popular drug, causes heart attacks. Wally smells money. All Finley & Figg has to do is find a handful of Krayoxx users to join the suit. It almost seems too good to be true . . . and it is. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: I was pretty lukewarm about this book and the book was pretty much the same as most of his other books that he has written.  In otherwords, it was a quick read and didn't require a lot of thought to read it, although I enjoyed the case with the lead-tainted toy more than the main story. 

Bottom line: This is a book that would be good for reading when waiting for an airplane or while on vacation.

Rating: 2.5/5

Books for 2012: 20193

Monday, November 12, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays (Nov. 13)

Teaser Tuesday is a bookish meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.  Anybody can play along!  Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.  Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

~p. 3, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Sunday, November 11, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Nov. 12)



It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a fun weekly meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey, in which we share what we've read and reviewed and what we plan on reading in the coming week.

What I have reviewed this week:
1) All Things New by Lynn Austin (review)

What I am planning on reading this week:
• Anna Karenina
• Les Miserables

• A Team of Rivals

• The Litigators
• Mansfield Park 
• The Taming of the Shrew

• The Hobbit



Musing Mondays (Nov. 12)

For this week, MizB of Should be Reading fame has decided to give us a number of questions that we can choose from that were submitted back in the summer.  Or if you are really adventurous, you can answer them all.  I am going to just going to do a couple.  My first one comes from Dr. Pepper Diva:

Do you read outside of your preferred genre? Has your preferred genre changed?

I will read outside of my preferred genre from time to time, but generally I don't.  My preferred genre has changed over time.  I used to read a lot of Christian fiction, but once when I was reading one of my typical Christian fiction, which really are historical romance, I realized how cheesy they are.  But I was always a reader that read a variety of materials and my tastes evolved over time, even though I still do read a bit of Christian fiction.

My second question comes from Lady With Books:

Do you have a favourite book/movie combo?
I am assuming that this means ones favourite movie adaptation in addition to the book and based on that assumption I would have to say that my favourite book/movie combo would have to be Jane Eyre and the 2006 adaptation that starred Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens.

Sunday Salon - Remembrance Day



In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly 
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae, 1915

Friday, November 9, 2012

All Things New - Lynn Austin

Title: All Things New
Author:: Lynn Austin
File size (Pages): 1367 KB (416)
Published: 2012
Genre: Christian fiction, Historical fiction
Challenges: Support Your Library, Historical Fiction
Edition: E-book
Source: Library

Description: In the aftermath of the Civil War, Josephine Weatherly and her mother, Eugenia, struggle to pick up the pieces of their lives when they return to their Virginia plantation. But the bitter realities of life after the war cannot be denied: their home and land are but shells of their previous grandeur; death has claimed her father and brother; and her remaining brother, Daniel, has returned home bitter and broken. The privileged childhood Josephine enjoyed now seems like a long-ago dream. And the God who failed to answer any of her prayers during the war is lost to her as well.

Josephine soon realizes that life is now a matter of daily survival--and recognizes that Lizzie, as one of the few remaining servants, is the one she must rely on to teach her all she needs to know. Josephine's mother, too, vows to rebuild White Oak... but a bitter hatred fuels her. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: I thought that the book was okay.  It wasn't great, but it wasn't bad either; it felt like it was middle of the road and much like a number of Lynn Austin's current books and felt that it could have been better.  I felt irritated with the relationship between Josephine and her mother evolve a little differently and felt that their relationship was sort of made "nice" in relative short order and that Daniel really didn't face any real consequences for his actions in the book; it felt too unrealistic in that Daniel basically got away with his actions and I am sure that if that had really happened during the reconstruction period, that he would have been arrested and put up on trial for his actions.  I wish that Christian writers wouldn't put things in nice and tidy bows and assume that people got away with things of that sort of seriousness.

Bottom line: Overall, I quite enjoyed the book and look forward to more of Ms. Austin's writing.

Rating: 3/5

Pages for 2012: 19841

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Booking Through Thursday - Blackouts

Booking Through Thursday asks this week:


1. How do storms affect your reading? Do you go for comfort reading?
2. How do you deal with power outages? Do you read by candlelight? Flashlights? Use a self-lit e-reader or tablet? Skip reading altogether for the duration and instead play games with the family?


1) Storms do affect my reading because I am usually not thinking about reading, but rather when I am going to get power again.

2) I don't deal well with power outages.  Fortunately the longest was about 7 hours on a Saturday, but I don't do well.



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Classics Club - Question #4

For November, the Classics Club asks:

What classic piece of literature most intimidates you, and why? (Or, are you intimidated by the classics, and why? And has your view changed at all since you joined our club?)

The piece that intimidates me is War & Peace.  I guess its just the notion that War & Peace has this mythology around it that its a difficult book to complete.  I am not intimidated by the classics, its just this particular book that I am intimidated by.

WWW Wednesdays (Nov. 7)

This is a weekly meme hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading.  To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions:

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you'll be reading next?


Answers:
1) What are you currently reading?
• Anna Karenina
• Les Miserables

• All Things New
• Mansfield Park 
• The Taming of the Shrew
• The Hobbit
• Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

2) What did you recently finish reading?
Home by Toni Morrison (review)

3) What do you think you'll be reading next?
Probably start The Litigators sometime this week.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

First Chapter - First Paragaph(s) - Tuesday Intros (Nov. 6)


This week's choice

Originally published: October 2005

On May 18,1860, the day when the Republican Party would nominate its candidate for president, Abraham Lincoln was up early.  As he climbed the stairs to his plainly furnished law office on the south side of the public square in Springfield, Illinois, breakfast was being served at the 130-room Chenery House on Fourth Street.  Fresh butter, flour, lard, and eggs were being put out for sale at the City Grocery Store on North Sixth Street.  And in the morning newspaper, the proprietors at Smith, Wickersham & Company had announced the arrival of a large spring stock of silks, calicos, ginghams, and linens, along with a new supply of the latest styles of hosiery and gloves.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays (Nov. 6)

Teaser Tuesday is a bookish meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.  Anybody can play along!  Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

On May 18,1860, the day when the Republican Party would nominate its candidate for president, Abraham Lincoln was up early.  As he climbed the stairs to his plainly furnished law office on the south side of the public square in Springfield, Illinois, breakfast was being served at the 130-room Chenery House on Fourth Street.  Fresh butter, flour, lard, and eggs were being put out for sale at the City Grocery Store on North Sixth Street.  And in the morning newspaper, the proprietors at Smith, Wickersham & Company had announced the arrival of a large spring stock of silks, calicos, ginghams, and linens, along with a new supply of the latest styles of hosiery and gloves.

~ p. 5, Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Sunday, November 4, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Nov. 5)

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a fun weekly meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey, in which we share what we've read and reviewed and what we plan on reading in the coming week.

What I have reviewed this week:
1) Home by Toni Morrison (review)

What I am planning on reading this week:
• Anna Karenina
• Les Miserables

• A Team of Rivals
• All Things New
• Mansfield Park 
• The Taming of the Shrew

• The Hobbit


Musing Mondays (Nov. 5)

This week's musing asks:

What is the most recent book you purchased, or brought home from the local library? What you made you pick it? Have you started reading it, right away, or will you wait for a bit?

I have gotten a lot of library books in the last few days, so I can't just name one, so I will mention the last book that I purchased, which was A Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  I bought the book a few weeks ago and I have only started it now.

I am hoping to go to the movie "Lincoln" when it comes out in a couple of weeks.





Sunday Salon - A couple of things

It hasn't been a great week, at least reading wise.  I did do some reading, but not the amount that I have in previous weeks.   Part of the reason was that I found myself on Thursday without a book to read on the way back home (I finished my book on the way to work) and ever since then I haven't felt like reading much.

Besides that, I joined with Wallace's readalong of The Hobbit and am looking forward to starting this week and I am hoping that I will finally get Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin started.  I haven't had much progress with Les Miserables and Anna Karenina, but am hoping that I will get a bunch more done in the next coming days.

Hopefully this week is going to be a better reading and blogging week.

Review:
1) Home by Toni Morrison (review)


Friday, November 2, 2012

The Hobbit Readalong

(if you click on the photo, it clicks to the sign up page)

Wallace over at The Unputdownables is hosting a readalong for The Hobbit.  This has been a book that I have been wanting to read for quite some time, which I think was right around the time that the LOTR movies came out about 10 years ago.  At the time, new editions of the 3 book set, along with the rest of Tolkien's books came out and couldn't resist getting the new editions (I have the full set of LOTR books, but they are still unread).

I am going to post what she has posted over on her site and please read the ENTIRE post.  Its actually quite a doable book, as most copies of the book are between 300-400 pages (mine is about 310) and has less than 40 chapters.  I hope you can join me (the information posted below can be found at The Unputdownables)

Schedule:

Beginning Friday, November 3rd and ending Friday, December 28th. 
READING SCHEDULE:
Week #/ Where to Stop (For example, in week one STOP and place your bookmark at Chapter III.)
Week One/ Chapter III
Week Two/ Chapter VI
Week Three/ Chapter VII
Week Four/ Chapter IX
Week Five/ Chapter XI
Week Six/ Chapter XIII
Week Seven/ Chapter XVI
Week Eight/ The End
POSTING SCHEDULE:
Post #/ date post should be up on blog:
Start up Post/ Today!
Week One/ November 9th
Week Two/ November 16th
Week Three/ November 23rd
Week Four/ November 30th
Week Five/ December 7th
Week Six/ December 14th
Week Seven/ December 21st
Week Eight/ December 28th (Final Review)
** Please don’t forget to come to this blog each week to share your thoughts in the comments section of the weekly Read-a-Long discussion (see below for more information).**

How it Works:

  1. Each week, on Friday, I will post my thoughts about the week’s reading. You will have from Friday through the following Thursday to post yours. If you are stuck on what to comment about, you can respond to my post or others’ comments. Regardless, you MUST check in each week (two weeks without a response and you will be taken off of the list — see below for details on why). You may have only one “off week” (which may not be the last week of reading for obvious reasons) and still be kept on the list, but you must let me know in the comment section by saying something like, “This is my off week — I am catching up!” Please note that, in order to be counted, your offering to the discussion must be about the current weeks’ reading, not about past weeks. ***For all week’s discussions please refrain from posting ahead, even if you have read ahead, as to not spoil the book for others***
  2. As these Read-a-Longs grow, so do the amount of people who participate – yay, all the more fun!!! Also, all the more keeping track of who is still reading. As you know – if you have been absent from discussion for two weeks, you will be removed from the list. However, now, in order to get back on the list, you need to a.) Have missed no more than two weeks of discussion, b.) Let me know you would like to be on the list again, and c.) Consistently be part of the discussion for the next two weeks after requesting to be put back on the list. Am I trying to be mean? Absolutely not! I LOVE having you all read a long. It is, however, a lot of work to keep track of who’s still reading, and to keep taking names off and putting them back on the list. Most importantly though,  consistency is good for the group; we tend to get to know each other through discussions and rely on the conversation to keep us reading. I don’t do these read-a-longs to gain followers; I do them because the benefit of reading certain books with a group of dedicated people is often superior to reading them alone. But reading with undedicated people is worst of all, which is why I care less about numbers and more about dedication to the book and the discussions. (Bonus, at the end of the year I tally those who have done multiple read-a-longs and they get honorable mention on the Read-a-Longs page and a chance to enter for the 2012 Read-a-Long Prize — it’s going to be GOOD!.)
  3. If you are a blogger you may post a link to your blog if you are posting about each of the each week’s reading. If I, or other readers, have extra time we will gladly try to visit your blog; however, you must make sure to share your thoughts here on this blogand be part of the main conversation or your comment will not be counted.
  4. Comments from the previous week’s reading will be closing Thursday afternoon (before the next discussion takes place on Friday). If you would like to be part of the discussion, please remember to comment before then.
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