Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Itching!


Itching to read, that is. I was baffled last week when I received a little pink slip in our mailbox announcing that we had packages because the mailbox was full. Heh?? Our mailbox NEVER gets that full. In fact, lately, it's been downright barren.

When Chuck came home yesterday with the announcement that "the mailbox was full of books" and that's why they'd left us a pink slip, well then I was ecstatic. Now I'm itching to read the following--not to mention the delicious Thirteenth Tale that I'm still chugging away on at night before bed.

Mr. Langshaw's Square Piano: The Story of the First Pianos and How They Caused a Cultural Revolution, by Madeline Goold. I mentioned recently, on my review of A World Without Ice, that I'm always leery of books about really random topics (like ice or salt or colors), and it's sort of the same concept here. How random?? But deliciously so. Don't you love that cover?? The one up top, see?

Keeping the Feast, by Paula Butturini. This one is for a TLC Blog tour that will be swinging through. It's a memoir about the newly married Paula and John. While reporting on an uprising in Romania John is shot. The two eventually return to their beloved Rome, and the book is about a number of things, but largely about the healing power of food and cooking--and all the rituals associated with it. I briefly picked the book up yesterday while I was waiting on some laundry to finish up, and I was immediately sucked in. I can't wait to gobble down the rest.

Hourglass, by Claudia Gray. This is the third in the Evernight series. While I generally claim to be vampired out, I will most likely give Gray another shot to impress me. I loved the first book, Evernight, but I was only sort of "meh" about the second one, Stargazer. Rocketgirl finished it recently, and she's been trying to get me to finish it ever since. She promises there's a twist I'll love at the end. When I showed her this magnificent nugget yesterday she said, "How do you DO this??" Meaning get books from publishers ahead of time. I explained, and now she wants to start reviewing too. I don't know if our shelves can handle it!!! Sadly, it'll be awhile before a review lands here. The book releases in March 2010. *sigh*

Finally, French Milk, by Lucy Knisley. I've had my eye on this book FOREVER. It's definitely made its way around the blogosphere a few times, and I'm finally getting my grubby little paws on it. I won the mini-challenge hosted by Nymeth during Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon, and I could not be more excited. Thanks, Nymeth!


Those are the books stacked on my nightstand at the moment. What about yours?

My Pants Are Too Small

Really. My pants are getting too small. My first pair of "must buy bigger because I'm preggers" pants are getting too freakin' small. I see an elastic panel in my future.

So I didn't mean to be gone for almost a week. It's been hell-week because I've had midterms to grade, papers to catch up on in online classes, and now that we're done with midterm, the session is almost over at my full-time gig. I've been in and out of meetings and up to my neck in paperwork. By the time I get home at night I just want to pig out and sleep.

Yesterday I experienced my first serious craving. Chuck loves the A1 Thick and Hearty Burger from Whataburger. If you're on the east coast of the U.S. you probably have no idea what I'm talking about (I never saw one when I lived in NC). It's a delicious chain, and this is one of their specialty burgers that is "going away" after December 21st of this year.

I've scoffed at this burger originally because, let's face it, it's a heart attack in a sack. Two patties, cheese, grilled onions, and A1 sauce. However, I made the mistake of taking a bite of Chuck's burger on Sunday. That opened Pandora's box of cravings apparently because I actually made him go out of his way on an errand yesterday just to pick one up for myself. It was greasy, bigger than my head, and DELICIOUS. I ate the whole thing without (much) remorse, and loved every finger-lickin' minute of it.

Until today when I found the nutrition facts online. Ouch! No more of those. But it was fun while it lasted.

I really do have bookish things to say, so I'll be back shortly. Like in half an hour.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Engaged!

Sunday was a busy day. I spent a good chunk of the afternoon grading papers, and it continued into the evening. Chuck was upstairs in the office working on a research paper for most of the afternoon, but he came down to visit a couple of times and asked for proofreading advice.

We always have plenty to talk about, and we were lounging on the bed talking talking baby stuff. A discussion was underway about the research that says the baby may be able to hear us talking at this point. In a fit of pure genius, Chuck started yelling into my belly button (the quickest route to the baby, he says). I can only describe the voice as a Mrs. Doubtfire type of intonation. Very special coming from a man that looks like a bouncer.

After his conversation with the baby we were talking some more and laughing, and I don't really even know how it happened. All of a sudden he was asking me to marry him and getting teary. At first, until I saw the teariness, I thought he was kidding. When he actually asked me to marry him I said, "Sure!" Then I said something akin to, "Oh my God, you're serious!" To this point I've been thoroughly convinced that he never wanted to marry again after his first wife. I was wrong!!!! Delightfully, wonderfully wrong.

He says he had a whole scenario planned out and he has a ring he wants to buy for me other than the birthday ring he gave me last week. Something in the moment prompted him to toss his plans out the window on a Sunday afternoon, lounging on the bed, talking, and yelling at our unborn child. It's very us. A perfect proposal.

No date yet. We're scoping out locations and restaurants to cater (all the important stuff, ya know). So far we've tossed around the idea of some local Japanese gardens for the ceremony, one of our fave restaurants for the reception, and it's nearly a sure thing that Bronwen Weber will do the cake. If ya haven't seen her before, she's on the Food Network's cake challenge show all the time. She's so cool! And talented! And she answers her own phone!

We're having a blast, and I'm a lucky, lucky girl and very excited. :)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Blog Tour: A World Without Ice

Henry Pollack is an exceptional scientist. He is part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former vice president Al Gore. To my delight, he is also a talented writer.


It's been a long while since I read a science book, and given my ongoing interest in climate change and green living, A World Without Ice seemed like the book tour for me to be a part of. It usually takes me a good while to read non-fiction offerings, but because of a busy work schedule, I couldn't really dig into this book until Friday night. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to finish, but I actually gulped it down with no problem--a testament to Pollack's careful and clever writing.


This book is exactly what it says. It's a detailed look at the importance of ice on Earth. I expected the entire book to focus on global warming and climate change, but it took until approximately page 100 to really get to that. Pollack spends a great deal of time chronicling various voyages to the Arctic and Antarctic to create a contrast between the past and today's warming trends and the continual disappearance of ice. These historical bits were actually some of my very favorite parts of the book as I always enjoy tales of explorers and seafarers charting new courses.


Once the environmental discussion really kicked up in Chapter 4: Warming Up, I was impressed with Pollack's combination of thorough detail and easy-to-follow descriptions of scientific processes. It's a fine line to walk, but he did it beautifully throughout the book. I felt as if I learned a lot at my level of understanding without having a scientist write "down" to me. This was especially apparent when Pollack set up a variety of points that global warming skeptics use to attack or mislead the public to believe that global warming and the disappearance of ice are myths. He systematically attacks each of these arguments with convincing science and common sense. It's good, for a believer like me who is genuinely concerned about these issues, to have a step-by-step explanation of how and why the Earth is warming and ice is receding in direct response to skeptics.


I always have my doubts when I run across seemingly obscure non-fiction books. Whole tomes about salt, for instance, or the color yellow. There was a moment, before I started reading, that I doubted anyone could pull off a whole book about ice, but Henry Pollack does more than pull it off--he excels at it. If you're at all interested in science, the environment, animals, nature, or geopolitics, this is a great book to try.


You can learn more at http://www.worldwithoutice.com

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the book and the opportunity to join this tour.

The Sunday Salon - Or What's Shakin' at Chez Andi

Hey folks! It's another Sunday of early mornin' blogging at my place. Chuck was up until 3am working on a research paper, and I was sacked out wayyyy earlier than that, so I woke up with Daisy at 7:am, and here I am.


We had a belated birthday gathering with the kids, a group of my friends, and Chuck's-now-my friends at Celebration Restaurant in Dallas last night. If you ever stop to go to a restaurant link that I've posted, I beg of you, go to this one. It's a home cooking restaurant in a renovated home and once you order, you can have "seconds" of almost anything on the menu. My meal was walnut crusted chicken with honey Dijon sauce, and the first thing out of my mouth when I tasted it was, "Oh my God, it's Chick-fil-a on crack!" Delicious. Freakin' awesome delicious. So anyway, I dipped into the served-family-style mashed potatoes, black-eyed peas, fried okra and other yummies. I even got to try the locally made mozzarella they were featuring for one of the first courses. Awesome! Oh, and my "seconds"--fried catfish. Because I am that country and I'm OK with it! In addition to the great food, I now love Celebration even more because they buy locally and seasonally. Extra brownie points for being socially responsible!


But on to books. I have several real-life responsibilities to take care of today: assloads of grading to do, and some administrative tasks for my online classes. I'll be teaching a section of American Lit (before 1865) next semester, so I need to choose some books for that class as well. So far I'm leaning toward Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, by Linda Brent, for sure. As for the other books...hell if I know. That's what I need to figure out today. I figure I'll have three required texts and have them read a bevvy of short works and excerpts online. Save 'em some cash.


I'm also scrambling to finish up a book that will be appearing here tomorrow on blog tour: A World Without Ice, by Henry Pollack, PhD. It's an amazing book! Very intriguing, and it's been entirely too long since I've read a book from the sciences. Given my interest in green living and all, this was a perfect blog tour choice, so I'm looking forward to polishing it off and posting my review this evening.


I took a huuuuge pile of books back to the library this week, but of course I could never come home empty handed, now could I? What kind of obsessive compulsive book nut would I be? I only grabbed three:


  • Through a Pale Door, by Brian Ray - Blurb: Sarah West takes a temporary job at her father's South Carolina steel mill the summer before college, hoping for relief from the chaos of her psychotic and often institutionalized mother. But from the first day of June to the waning days of August, relief is the last thing Sarah finds. Soon after she moves into her separated father's house, tragic news about her mother arrives.
    The haunting funeral coincides with Sarah's first love affair. Her lover is a fellow mill worker, a teenage vigilante muralist named Edgewood who lives in an abandoned jail on the outskirts of town. Sarah and Edgewood share artistic gifts but hesitate at the door between adolescence and adulthood. While Edgewood struggles to develop confidence in his work, Sarah finds her own artistic endeavors haunted by grim yet compelling memories of growing up under the rule of an inexplicably deranged artist on one side and an oddly aloof, workaholic entrepreneur on the other.

  • Pygmy, by Chuck Palahniuk - Blurb: "Begins here first account of operative me, agent number 67 on arrival midwestern American airport greater _____ area. Flight _____. Date _____. Priority mission top success to complete. Code name: Operation Havoc."
    Thus speaks Pygmy, one of a handful of young adults from a totalitarian state sent to the United States, disguised as exchange students, to live with typical American families and blend in, all the while planning an unspecified act of massive terrorism. Palahniuk depicts Midwestern life through the eyes of this thoroughly indoctrinated little killer, who hates us with a passion, in this cunning double-edged satire of an American xenophobia that might, in fact, be completely justified. For Pygmy and his fellow operatives are cooking up something big, something truly awful, that will bring this big dumb country and its fat dumb inhabitants to their knees.

  • The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness - I do really need a blurb? Here's one anyway: Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him — something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn't she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd's gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

I have no idea which ones I'll actually get around to reading. I'm definitely shooting for The Knife of Never Letting Go because of all the recommendations. I'm also intrigued by Through a Pale Door, so Pygmy will probably end up losing out. Palahniuk and I have a rocky relationship these days, but I might surprise myself.

Have a great Sunday everyone, and I'll see you later with that review!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mini Reviews: Elsewhere and Ex Libris


Good Saturday morning everyone! Thanks to the recent read-a-thon and all the pregnancy happenings and the birthday goings-on, I actually still have a backlog of books that need to be reviewed. It's a shrinking backlog, but this rarely ever happens as I don't read fast enough to have the reviews stack up. It's kind of a nice feeling; one that I'm going to obliterate right now as I review my final read-a-thon leftovers.


Anne Fadiman's essays, Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, have been on my wishlist for years. My old library didn't have a copy, so I was tickled to find that my new one does! *kisses the feet of the new library*

It's a slim little book as most of you probably know. I feel like I'm the last book-nerd on earth to get hold of this one. It's a rare thing that I dislike a book about books, though it does happen on occasion. Happily, I sucked this one down without much problem. Powell's has a succinct overview:

Anne Fadiman is — by her own admission — the sort of person who learned about sex from her father's copy of Fanny Hill, whose husband buys her 19 pounds of dusty books for her birthday, and who once found herself poring over her roommate's 1974 Toyota Corolla manual because it was the only written material in the apartment that she had not read at least twice.

This review may be misleading in its squattiness. I found a TON of stuff in the book that I wanted to remember. Quotes I liked, long passages of bookish worship that need to live in my journal. Alas, I had to return it to the library in a fit of post-read-a-thon purging to keep from accumulating a mountain of library fines. I marked passages in pencil, so I can only hope to find them there when I recheck the book to snatch out all the good bits I loved.

On the other side of the coin, Fadiman is wicked smart (not that it's a bad thing), but I found her pretentious and annoying in spots, though my love of her bookish nature won out in the end.

My final book for the read-a-thon was probably my very favorite. I've only read one other Gabrielle Zevin novel, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, also a previous read-a-thon undertaking. While I enjoyed Amnesiac, I LOVED Elsewhere.

In this deilghtful novel death is a begining, a new start. Liz is killed in a hit a run accident and her 'life' takes a very unexpected turn. At nearly sixteen she knows she will never get married, never have children, and perhaps never fall in love. But in "Elsewhere" all things carry on almost as they did on earth except that the inhabitants get younger, dogs and humans can communicate (at last) new relationships are formed and old ones sadly interrupted on earth are renewed.

It's hard to explain what I like about Zevin's writing so much. It's just so...inviting! It's very easy to sink into her stories and her characters are sustainably quirky. I enjoyed her take on "heaven" after death, and I was happy that a main character--gone far too young--still had a chance to mature emotionally in the afterlife as she got younger and approached a rebirth.

Maybe the best way to describe Gabrielle Zevin's novels is vivid. Vivid characters, shiny details, and wonderful premises. I think I only have one of her books left: Margarettown. I can't wait to read it, but I wish she'd hurry up and write more!

And as I'm looking at her website: http://www.memoirsofa.com I see that she has a new novel for adults, The Hole We're In, coming out in March 2010. Hurray!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Birthday Bliss!


My 29th birthday has come and gone, and I lived to tell about it! I'm still feeling horrid thanks to this wretched cold, but I've had a great time, and my family spoiled me rotten. Rottener than I've ever been spoiled. Pile o'presents to your left.

I had to work until 6:00 last night, and Chuck was in school until around 8:00, so I met him at Razzoo's, the site of our first date, around 8:15. I had a coupon for a free birthday meal, and while I attempted to branch out, I stuck to my usual, favorite: Crawdaddies Two Ways. It's a plate of fried crawfish tails, a heaping bowl of crawfish etouffee with fries and hush puppies. So much for that low sodium thing.

When I got home this heaping pile of presents was staring at me from our dining room table. In the boxes and bags:

From Chuck

  • Twilight Woods and Vanilla Bean Noel lotions and body creams from Bath and Body Works. There was also a little jar of Vanilla Bean Noel scented oil and a Japanese Cherry Blossom Body Cream.
  • A collection of rosemary-scented bath products (bubble bath, soap, bath salts, etc.)
  • PJs with the CUTEST little owls all over them. Unfortunately my baby belly is getting too big for the jammies to accommodate it.
  • A novelty collection of Christmas-scented shower gels (gingerbread, sugarplum, cookie, winter frost, and more).
  • A Lane Bryant gift card
  • A BEAUTIFUL diamond and white gold ring. It's not an engagement, but it is gorgeous and beautiful, and it's an "upgrade" from the brushed nickel ring Chuck gave me the first week we were dating. I'll post a pic of this one later.
  • A black coat for work
  • A body pillow for comfy sleeping

From Rocketgirl:

  • A $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card

From Rocketboy:

  • A $15 iTunes gift card
  • A BEAUTIFUL red/orange gerbera daisy plant for my office desk

From Chuck's mom:

  • Some wrappy towel turbans for my multitude of curly hair for after showering
  • A 50's-style air popcorn popper
  • A massager
  • A snuggly wrappy blanket thing. It's not a Snuggie--much nicer. It can be a throw, a blanket, or it zip and buttons up to have sleeves and be a blanket/housecoat contraption

My mom:

  • Adorable jammies
  • Lunch at a Japanese restaurant (to be redeemed any time)
  • A mystery gift that I haven't gotten to open yet

From Chuck again.....

The most BEAUTIFUL cherry blossom birthday cake ever. Yes, he made it all. It's red velvet covered in white and fudge fondant with cream cheese frosting inside between the layers. He piped the trunk and branches of the tree with fudge buttercream and made the flowers out of gum paste so they dried hard. He piped the blue river on top of the bottom tier and the top of the cake is a zen garden made of light brown sugar. The rocks along the river and outlining the zen garden are made of licorice.
He spent a huge hunk of time building it yesterday, and he did an amazing job. He only does stuff like this for special occasions, and he's getting REALLY good at all the fondant/gum paste work. Click to see a bigger picture because it's SOOOO worth it!
So, like I said, I am totally spoiled rotten. I have a tendency to see things I like and say, "I love that, but I won't get it." So he made sure that I got a ton of what I've seen and liked in recent months.
I hate to rush, but I'm off to work for the second time today. I'll be back with books shortly! Oh, and I'll post a pic of the ring by it self sometime soon. It's too good not to share.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Birthday to Meeeee!




Yes, you read that right. I'm saying happy birthday to myself. I turn 29 today, and this morning Chuck asked if I feel old, to which I replied, "Nope, just snotty." I have my normal birthday cold, I have to work late, and I have to wait until about 9:00 tonight for presents.

Am I bummed though? Heck no! It's a good day (aside from the cold I have), and I brought my newest book acquisition, David Sedaris's Holidays on Ice to work with me.

If you hear me wheezing with laughter in the back corner of the classroom or conference room, just ignore it.

I'll check in later. Back to work! I hope y'all have a great day.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Pre-Birthday Madness!

So my birthday is coming up on November 10th. The big 2-9. Since the actual birthday is on a Tuesday, Chuck decided to take me out for a celebratory lunch today, and we did a bit of running around. I think we're also planning a birthday get together next weekend, but I'll report on the later.

We started our day at the Clay Pit in Addison. It's one of my favorite Indian restaurants, and they have a sizeable buffet on Saturday and Sunday. Chuck wasn't too fond of it since the spicy food isn't really his bag, but to this native Texan, Indian food is almost as good as Tex-Mex. *wink wink*

A pre-birthday weekend always requires books, and we happened to stumble upon the Addison Bookworm Bash. It's a charity book sale that benefits the Addison Senior Adult Services. Of course, I found a few goodies:

  • Deception, by Philip Roth - I collect all of Roth's books, and I rarely see a used copy of this one lying around. Hardcover, too. Woot!
  • The Kitchen God's Wife, by Amy Tan - I have so many other copies of Amy Tan's stuff, so I figured why not add one more!
  • The Optimist's Daughter, by Eudora Welty - I've never read Welty, but I want to. This one seemed a good place to start.
  • A Natural History of the Senses, by Diane Ackerman - I'm all about the non-fiction, and this one sounds great. Can't wait to find out if I'm right.

We also took a little trip to the local Barnes & Noble to check out the new Nook e-reader, but they won't have any available to play with until November 30th. Boo! Chuck wants to buy me an e-reader for Christmas and we've been looking at both the Nook and Kindle. I've played with the Kindle plenty of times, but it looks like the Nook has some good stuff going for it, too.

I've been eyeing a copy of The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman for ages. I even started reading it at Borders when I was out and about one day. I finally decided to spring for a copy since my library doesn't have it, and I gifted it to myself for my birthday.

What are you reading? Do I need to add it to my stacks?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Whoa! The Woes are Better.

I've endured a lifestyle overhaul in the last three days! I've cut out all the sodium I possibly can, I've been drinking water like it's going out of style, and I've been watching my blood sugar just for the hell of it.

I went back to the doc this morning, and my blood pressure was high at the office, but it was normal when I've taken it at home. Since I cut out salt three days ago, I've lost NINE POUNDS. I am not even kidding. I mean I know sodium makes us retain crazy amounts of water, but NINE POUNDS in THREE DAYS. That's just insanity. My blood sugar is awesome and the babe is great. All is right in my world, thankyouverymuch!

Now I can stop stressing about stressing. And I fully intend to keep pampering myself because it's working. I read more, I lounge more, I exercise and get myself away from my obligations, and to hell with the laundry (or teenage room organization) when I'm too tired to do it.

Coming up...a return to books. I'll be reviewing some past due Read-a-Thon books and I'll check in with my opinions on The Thirteenth Tale.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Pregnancy Woes

Welp, it may be a bit quiet over here for a bit. We'll see. I went in for my monthly visit to the OB yesterday, and my blood pressure was higher than normal and I had protein in my urine. Basically, they're worried that I'm having these problems this early (16 weeks), and I've been instructed to de-stress, cut out salt, drink more water, meditate. Calm the hell down, basically. Things have been a bit stressful 'round my house and work, and I suspect that would be the culprit along with a few other things. I'm monitoring my blood pressure at home (and work...plenty of medical assisting students around), and I go back early on Thursday for my doc to check up on me again.

In my defense, I was REALLY upset when I went to the doc's office yesterday because of a blow up with a certain family member (not Chuck) that happened half an hour before I had my appointment. Now let's just hope everything comes down and stays down, because as of this morning it was still high.

Obviously, I'm stressed that I'm stressed. Does that make sense? New mom syndrome dictates that we worry (slightly) about everything anyway, but this issue just bumped things up a notch. So, if you pray, send those. If you do good thoughts, send those, too. Virtual hugs are always appreciated.

I'll keep y'all posted.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Sunday Salon - A Backlog of Reviews


I haven't been Sunday Salonning in a very long time thanks to more RIP'ish things going on, but today I'm back, and for once in my life (this NEVER happens), I have a backlog of books I need to review. A big thanks to the 24 Hour Read-a-Thon for that. I usually don't read four books a month these days, nevermind four in a day! I'm going to bask in this feeling for a moment. Just wait....
...still basking...

OK, thanks for that. Now on to some mini-reviews.

This time every year (actually, several weeks ago), Harper Collins sends me a delicious box of Halloweeny books. This year the box included some of my seasonal faves: Pretty Dead, by Francesca Lia Block, and the collection of short short stories I enjoyed, Half-Minute Horrors.

My favorite part is always the picture books they include, and I was a little sad to only receive two this year. Though, honestly, I can't complain too much because they were both fun.

The first was Dear Vampa, by Ross Collins. Every year I seem to find a new favorite illustrator in the Halloween books, and this year's trophy goes to Collins. The cover is a great representation of the book at large. It's about a vampire family--the Pires--horrified when their new neighbors, the Wolfsons, move in. The book starts with the youngest Pire writing a letter to his grandfather at:

The Ruined Abbey
Lugosi Lane
Transylvania

Dear Vampa,

Sorry for not writing for so long, but we've been having some trouble with our new neighbors.

The Wolfsons spend time out in the sunlight, lock their windows at night, and even complain when mother Pire has a chorus of friends over for a midnight sing-a-long! How dare they! When the Pires come to the end of their rope and move back to Transylvania, the Wolfsons--a family of werewolves--stand at their window and lament the loss of their good neighbors.

Cute book! The best part: the pictures! The Pires are all drawn in black, white, and red pen and ink while the Wolfsons are drawn in full, bright colors. The style is great and makes for a really fun read.

The next picture book is Mystery Vine, by Cathryn Falwell. It's about a family who cares for a garden all year and watches a "mystery" vine grow up slowly after all the other plants have died off. As it turns out, it's a pumpkin vine! This is not so much a Halloween book as a fall book that could easily carry over to Thanksgiving. It even has recipes in the back for things like toasted pumpkin seeds and Pumpkin Apple Bread. It also contains a section of gardening tips for kids. While the illustrations were pretty lackluster, the book was cute, and it's interactive thanks to the end material.

On that note, I should mention that I fulfilled my goal for this years RIP IV Challenge! I hadn't expected to read YA and children's titles almost exclusively, but as it turns out, they were a ton of fun, and I couldn't be happier with my RIP reads:

  • The Hunt for the Seventh, by Christine Morton-Shaw
  • Pretty Dead, by Francesca Lia Block
  • Half-Minute Horrors
  • Life Sucks, by Jessica Abel

**All reviews linked on my sidebar.

I also undertook to read and blog about RIP short stories every Sunday. While I got waylaid doing that, I still read enough that it could've been a story for every week! I still need to polish off Joe Hill's book, 20th Century Ghosts and I'll let y'all know when I manage to do that. *waving at my hulking library pile*

Thanks again to Carl for always hosting an awesome challenge! He is the master in my opinion.

Have a great Sunday, everyone! I'll be back tomorrow with short reviews of The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam and Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader.

Oh, and if I get to read any more today after all the work I need to finish, it will be The Thirteenth Tale, most likely. I also started Paul Auster's Oracle Night which has me rapt. It's about time something grabbed me by the hair!

Halloween: The Morning After

Whew! What a couple of days it's been. Halloween in our house was a flood of activity, and I woke up this morning realizing that I have a LOT of work to do for online classes, bills to pay, and all sorts of other things. How could I not blog first, though? That's what my Sunday mornings are all about. Well, blogging AND Twittering.

Yesterday I woke up bright and early, though the family stayed in bed 'til almost noon. That's just the way we roll around here. They spent the hours just after waking up getting Rocketgirl's zombie costume all ready to go. Chuck ripped some holes in an old pair of jeans and a white tee, they spattered them with corn syrup blood, we ran over them with the car a few times (no, really!), and we left them hanging on the patio to dry why we ran errands. We grabbed some late lunch at our favorite little diner in our neighborhood, the Southern Recipes Cafe, and dropped the kids off at the library for a zombie afternoon. They got to do crafts, got zombie makeup done, and learned the "Thriller" dance. There were about 20 teens there for the program, and their video of the Thriller dance will be on YouTube soon.

Chuck and I ran errands looking at baby stuff and picked the kids up, drove out to my mom's for trick-or-treating evening, dropped some business cards off with a client, and finally came back to Dallas around midnight. I was tooootally exhausted, but Chuck and the kiddos headed off toward downtown Dallas to the Scaregrounds for some haunted house goodness. They finally rolled back in around 2am, just as the clock flipped back to 1am. Sadly, I was not asleep. I wasn't thrilled with them being out with all the Halloween drunks, so I stayed up watching Celebrity Ghost Stories on the Biography Channel and reading The Thirteenth Tale.

It was a great Halloween. The kids had a good time, and so did the grown-ups. A few pics:

Chuck and I dressed as "vampires," which for me meant ho-ey makeup and nicer clothes than I usually wear on the weekend. Oh, and prosthetic vampire fangs--really comfy ones that fit. Chuck had the teeth and intended to latex some prosthetic horns to his forehead, but by the time we got done with kid makeup it was time to drive the hour out to my mom's house.

Obviously, Rocketgirl is the tall, lanky zombie. Chuck decked her out with latex makeup with wrinkly toilet paper and oatmeal underneath for scabbiness. Rocketboy originally wanted to be a vampire, but once he saw this old mask of Chuck's, he switched over to some sort of evil gnomey thing.

The kids were really happy with their costumes. Especially Rocketgirl in all her supreme scariness. One of my mom's neighbors said, "Wow, that costume would scare God himself." There is no higher compliment for a zombie teenager.

How was your Halloween? Anything exciting?

Coming up: RIP IV Wrap-Up, The Sunday Salon, and some late reviews!