Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Feel free to gawk, comment, or harangue!
Level of Participation: 20 Essays
1. "The Knife," by Richard Selzer
2. "The Giant Water Bug," by Annie Dillard
3. "A Note About Allen Tate," by Kelly Cherry
Level of Participation: Expert = 10+
1. French Milk, by Lucy Knisley
2. Bram Stoker's Dracula, adapted by Michael Mucci
3. The Good Neighbors #1: Kin, by Holly Black
4. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery and Joann Sfar
5. The Good Neighbors #2: Kith, by Holly Black
Only got halfway there!
Level 1: 4 books, at least 2 written during 1837 - 1901. The other books may be Neo-Victorian or non-fiction.
1. Young Adult: The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan
3. Shiny and New
4. Bad Bloggers: French Milk, by Lucy Knisley
6. New in 2010: Keeping the Feast, by Paula Butturini; The Girl Who Chased the Moon, by Sarah Addison Allen
7. Older Than You: Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf; Emma, by Jane Austen
8. Win! Win!
9. Who Are You Again? The Season of Second Chances, by Diane Meier; This Book is Overdue! by Marilyn Johson
10. Up to You!
1. A book with a food in the title: French Milk, by Lucy Knisley
2. A book with a body of water in the title:
3. A book with a title (queen, president) in the title: Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf
4. A book with a plant in the title:
5. A book with a place name (city, country) in the title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
6. A book with a music term in the title:
**I'm shooting for one (Mrs. Dalloway), but I may attempt two.
Jan. 15th: Mrs. Dalloway - Check! My post was on January 22nd.
Jan. 29th: To the Lighthouse
Feb. 12th: Orlando
Feb. 26th: The Waves
Reached my goal of 1/4!
"Addicted" Level: 12 e-books
So far in 2010:
1. Emma, by Jane Austen
2. Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf
3. The Girl Who Chased the Moon, by Sarah Addison Allen
4. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows
5. The Passage, by Justin Cronin
6. The Birth of Love by Joanna Kavenna
Only got halfway there! Reading slowed down significantly after The Passage.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Best Children's/Adolescent/Teen Fiction Read in 2009:
- Lyddie, by Katherine Paterson
- The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
- The Hunt for the Seventh, by Christine Morton-Shaw
- Pretty Dead, by Francesca Lia Block
- Elsewhere, by Gabrielle Zevin
Best Graphic Novels/Illustrated Books Read in 2009
- The Arrival, by Shaun Tan
- Tales from Outer Suburbia, by Shaun Tan
- Embroideries, by Marjane Satrapi
- Life Sucks, by Jessica Abel
Best Non-Fiction Read in 2009:
- The Joy of Pregnancy, by Tori Kropp
- The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy, by Vicki Iovine
- It Sucked and Then I Cried, by Heather B. Armstrong
- Julie and Julia, by Julie Powell
- Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, by Anne Fadiman
Best (and One of Only Two) Contemporary Fiction Novel Read in 2009:
- The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield
On the graphic novel/illustrated book front, Shaun Tan is a clear winner. I totally love his style and quirkiness, and I can't wait to get more of his work in my hands.
Finally, pregnancy books are in the lead in non-fiction, and that's not surprising at all. Foodie books continue to be a growing favorite, and I have many more cool offerings on my shelves for 2010.
So there it is! My 2009 reading in a nutshell. I've reviewed almost all of these books and linked them in my sidebar, so please check 'em out if you're so inclined. Here's wishing all of you a great reading year in 2010, and I'm going to make a concerted effort to dive back into novels at some point. I miss 'em!
Friday, December 25, 2009
A Barnes & Noble Nook eReader!!! I've been lusting after the Kindle for years, and when I got wind of the Nook I started investigating. It seems like a really cool product, measures up to the Kindle nicely (better in some areas), and when I laid my paws on it at my local B&N I really decided I liked it. It's backordered, so mine won't be shipped until January 4th, but I cannot WAIT to start my Nook reading. I suspect the first book I'll download (the first one on my wishlist) is The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. I've heard nothing but good things about it, but the library is all backed up and it's affordable in e-book format, so what better way to go right??
I'm so excited I can hardly wait. I screeched when I read the card where Chuck broke the news of my gift. He, my mom, and his mom all chipped in to buy it for me.
Perhaps the best Christmas blessing of them all is the one we received earlier in the week, and it's nothing I can lay my hands on. Chuck has been out of work for almost a year (10 months) after being laid off in February. The market for graphic designers has been horrible in our area thanks to the lagging economy, so we've been getting by on my salary and the work he can bring in through our home-based printing business. Luckily, he interviewed for a job recently and we found out Wednesday that he's hired!!!! He'll be doing production design which may be a little boring for him right now, but the pay is good, he'll have full benefits, he'll work 2 blocks from our house, and the atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming. Even better, it's a great job for him while he's working through his Bachelor's in graphic design, which should open more challenging and exciting doors for him down the road. He starts January 18th, so he's got some time to enjoy his freedom a bit longer.
We could not be happier. It's been a WONDERFUL first Christmas together for our growing family, and I hope you all have had as delightful a week, and a holiday, as we have.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
"On the go" is just a saying. You can bet I'm spending my first full day of freedom with my butt planted on the couch or in bed READING! Because I CAN! I have three books on the go right now, and holy cannoli, they have absolutely nothing in common.
Friday, December 18, 2009
- One box of Red Velvet cake mix
- 1/3 cup of vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
Mix all the ingredients together with a very strong spoon because DENSE is an understatement. I used our Kitchenaid stand mixer after the first batch. Roll small balls of dough, squish slightly, and lay them out on your baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes at 375 degrees.
I dipped my cookies in granulated sugar before baking because they have a really pretty crackle about them and it makes for a crunchy outside and soft, chewy middle. The picture are NOT my cookies, but mine looked very similar, so there!
I've been giving these away at work in little holiday packages, and they seem to be a big hit with everyone (including the Rockets). The color is beautiful, and they bake perfectly if you're using a nice, thick baking sheet. We also decided to expand our cake mix cookie experience. We tried the same recipe with a lemon cake mix, and they were delicious, too. I glazed them with a powdered sugar/lemon glaze and, need I say more, they're already gone!
Enjoy this easy recipe from our lazy household to yours!
Monday, December 14, 2009
Emily Dickinson doesn't look like she's having nearly as much fun as my family at the moment. While I'm taking a minute to blog, the kids are rolling up red velvet cookies, glazing lemon cookies, and coating truffles in milk and white chocolate. The baby and I are so hyped up on sugar, he's bouncing off the proverbial walls.
I announced on Twitter a while ago that I'm teaching an Early American Literature class online for the Spring semester. I rarely get to add a new class to my repertoire. Community and career-college profs are generally slaves to freshman composition, but I have a crop of new stuff to wallow in in the coming months.
Admittedly, early American lit is sooooo not my thing. I'm much more of a contemporary girl, but I've done my fair bit of studying the old stuff, too. And I should mentioned that I've liked quite a few select authors from before 1865. When I found out I'd be teaching this class, I went mining the internets for inspiration and to jog my memory in regards to what I should teach. Alas, here is the reading list (authors) for the course:
- Anne Bradstreet
- Mary Rowlandson
- Jonathan Edwards
- Benjamin Franklin
- Washington Irving
- Edgar Allen Poe
- Nathaniel Hawthorne
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Henry David Thoreau
- Emily Dickinson
- Frederick Douglass
- Harriet Jacobs/Linda Brent
We'll be reading short selections and excerpts from these authors' most famous works. I also wanted to them to read two longer selections, so I've chosen The Scarlet Letter by Hawthorne, and one of my favorite books of all time, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs (also named Linda Brent). I would've preferred something a little more unexpected than Scarlet Letter, but for the life of me, I couldn't figure out what else to choose at the moment. I need to brush up on my House of the Seven Gables if I want to use it in the future.
I'm working up my plans and written lectures and all that good stuff, and I'm actually really excited to hear what my students have to say about this good stuff. I suspect Poe will be a fave, as will Slave Girl.
I can't believe it's been a week since I blogged. End-of-semester grading is killin' me. 'Nuff said.
I'll be back to the blogosphere soon. See ya!
Monday, December 07, 2009
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Today was my early day at school, so I taught from 7am to 11 and was finally able to break away from the office, stop off for an H1N1 shot on the way home, and I arrived around 12:30 with half a carload of groceries. Chuck came out to help me with the bags and happened to say, "You have a Secret Santa box by the door!"
Sooooo excited! I ripped into that puppy as quickly as I could, and the lovely picture to the left is the Christmas feast. Click to make it bigger...with that much adorableness in one place, it's totally worth it.
Secret Santa was very generous and kind and here's what he?/she? sent:
- A beautiful goldish/copper owl Christmas ornament
- A package of delightful owl notecards and a packet of homemade stickers from Etsy (http://luckyroni.etsy.com)
- A beautiful package of multi-colored "A" notecards
- An "A" photo bookmark to match
- A lovely copy of Joyce Carol Oates's short stories, Wild Nights! subtitled "Stories About the Last Days of Poe, Dickinson, Twain, James, and Hemingway." I heard about this one on an NPR radio podcast ages ago, and I'm so thrilled to have a copy of it in my hot little hands.
Now, the question remains: who are you, Secret Santa??!!! Show yourself in all your bookish glory. Thank you sooooo very much for your gifts. You truly made my day (it was a stinker until I got home).
Now I've got to get off my tookus and send out my gift to my Secret Santa recipient. I've been searching for just the right items.
Update: The Secret Santa is.....*drum roll*....the lovely and talented Meg from WriteMeg! Thank you soooo very much, Meg! I can't thank you enough. Your gifts were very thoughtful and I can't wait to get home from work and pet 'em.
- Shiny and New
- Bad Bloggers
- New in 2010
- Older Than You
- Win! Win!
- Who Are You Again?
- Up to You
I figure I can shoehorn oodles of my books into one category or another, so this sounds perfect.
Next on the list is Beth Fish Reads and the What's in a Name 3 Challenge. This is another one with wide open choices. Participants read a book from each of the following categories in 2010.
-A book with a food in the title: Clockwork Orange, Grapes of Wrath, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
-A book with a body of water in the title: A River Runs through It, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, The Lake House
-A book with a title (queen, president) in the title: The Murder of King Tut, The Count of Monte Cristo, Lady Susan
-A book with a plant in the title: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Wind in the Willows, The Name of the Rose
-A book with a place name (city, country) in the title: Out of Africa; London; Between, Georgia
-A book with a music term in the title: Song of Solomon, Ragtime, The Piano Teacher
I love these categories and am already brainstorming books I can read in each group.
Finally, maybe the challenge I'm most excited about--and certainly one of the shortest--is Woolf in Winter. Frances from Nonsuch Book has the invitation post, and there's a schedule posted on her site. Basically four lovely blogging ladies will be leading discussion of four of Woolf's novels over the course of January and February. The novels: Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, Orlando, and The Waves.
I know I'm in for Mrs. Dalloway, but I'm not sure I'll get around to all four. I'll shoot for two if not more.
So that's it! I'm not making up projected lists of books yet (aside from Woolf in Winter) because I'm so fickle that there's really no telling what I'll read. I'm looking forward to giving these a try, though, and who knows...maybe I'll join even more challenges in 2010! Wish me luck!
What challenges have you joined? Which are you most excited about?
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
I thought that would be the end of it. I expected a relaxing Saturday and Sunday, but much to my surprise we were back on the run. Chuck needed to do a large journal assignment for his art history class (early art history), and there happened to be an Egyptian exhibit in LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS. Yes, you read that correctly. We hopped out of bed at 6am on Saturday and hit the road to Little Rock. We tooled around the museum, took copious notes for his project, and then we drove all the way home. I'm panting just thinking about it.
Finally, on Sunday, we loaded up the kids, checked out Thanksgiving Square in downtown Dallas (a potential wedding site), went to the Dallas Museum of Art to finish up his project, and got home in time for me to grade papers and go to bed.
In short, no rest was had for this pregnant goose. I did, however, have the afternoon off after a doc appointment yesterday. Woohoo! I got to finish up Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale, but I'll get to that in just a minute. The family is currently biting our collective nails waiting for next Monday's ultrasound appointment. We'll finally be finding out if the Lil Bug is a boy or a girl.
But enough about holiday craziness. On to the books!
I think I could very well be the VERY LAST PERSON in the book blogosphere to read this book, and now I can't figure out why I waited so darn long. I've had it on my shelves for well over a year now after I found a clearance copy at Half-Price books for a whopping $3.00. I plunked it down on my RIP IV challenge pile, but I never got around to it.
I complained here recently that I've had a very ho-hum reading year so far. While there have been good books in the bunch, generally I haven't felt as fulfilled or wowed by my reading as I usually do. It was a desperate attempt to love a book that brought me to The Thirteenth Tale, and WHOA, did it deliver!
I won't waste your time with a blurb because I genuinely feel like almost everybody already knows what this book is about. If you don't, just read it blindly--you won't be sorry. I adored it for so many reasons, I hardly know where to start. I feel a bulleted listed coming on:
- The characters were vivid and evolved nicely! Margaret Lee was mousy and unassuming at the beginning of the novel, but she grew to be a really interesting, multi-faceted character.
- I loved to dislike Vida Winter. She was a perfectly written lovable/hateable character. I found her amusing, infuriating, and enigmatic throughout the book.
- It was atmospheric! And I'm a real sucker for atmosphere. Any book that can make me feel as if I've been deposited on the moors is a winner.
- Twisted! Need I say more?? I almost got whiplash from this story.
- It's a novel for book lovers. All of Margaret's thoughts on reading in the early part of the book were delicious. I don't think I've written down that many quotable passages in years. And all of the references to Jane Eyre, The Woman in White, Wuthering Heights were excellent, too.
Gush much? Yep, and I don't even care. I LOVED IT! Heather, thank you for prodding me to read this one constantly. ;)
In the spirit of yummy gothic books perfectly suited for winter, I checked out The Woman in White from my library. Now I can't wait to figure out what all the hooplah is about! Bring it on, Wilkie!