Thursday, September 30, 2010

Snickerdoodle Cookies

Scott's favorite cookies are snickerdoodles.  I prefer a sweeter cookie like coconut oatmeal cookies, but how can I deny my husband?  Especially when I love to bake and he's not usually a willing eater of sweets.

I've had a bit of the baking bug lately, so I thought I'd make him some snickerdoodles.  The recipe below is a slight varient of one I found online.


1 cup butter flavored shortening
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons white sugar
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1. Heat oven to 400°
2. Cream together shortening and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla. 
3. In separate bowl mix flour, tartar, baking soda and salt.  Slowly add to sugar mixture.  Mix well but don't over mix.
4. Create tablespoon sized balls of dough and roll in the sugar and cinnamon mixture to coat.
5. Bake for 9 minutes until set but not overcooked.  Remove from sheet immediately to cool.
6. Makes around 3.5 dozen

Scott always tells me, "don't make hard cookies!"  I admit I don't really know how not to make hard cookies.  I've been told overmixing the dough will make them tough, but otherwise...?  Anyway, these were a little crisp once they cooled, but we stuck them in tupperware containers with a slice of bread and they turned soft and delicious.  Both our places of work greatly appreciated them.  As did we.


Edited note:  This morning while browsing my Google Reader I saw Jill's (Rhapsody in Books) post about how October 1st is Homemade Cookies Day!  Click over to learn about the special day.  How's that for a fancy coincidence!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why we need YOU to be a Readathon Cheerleader

So, you know that 24-hour Readathon happening on October 9th? Um, the one in 10 days? ZOMG I couldn’t be more excited. I was sad not to participate in the spring, so I’ve been waiting a whole dang year for this to come. And boy if I didn’t tell Scott as soon as I found out the date that he’ll just have to find something else to do that day and night (and…probably whole weekend).

The past few readathons I’ve posted an uber long post about how to prepare for the readathon if you are going to be a reader. If you’ve never participated before, check out the tips I’ve compiled for getting ready for the ‘thon as you might find them handy. Yes, a readathon must be prepared for people!

This time, however, I’m writing this pre-readathon post from a different angle…the Cheerleader angle!

Why we need YOU to Cheer!!

Having participated in a few readathons as a reader, I know how important cheerleaders are. They are the ones who keep you going at 2 AM when you really just want to crawl into bed. They’re the ones who make you feel great about accomplishing the smallest task. They make you smile with their goofiness and encouragement. And they’re the smallest participant group of the event. Every year everyone gives kudos and props to the cheerleaders—because they’re awesome and well-deserving—but every year it is requested that there are more cheerleaders.

This is where YOU come into play. Here are 10 reasons why it’s great to be a cheerleader during the readathon.

1. Great excuse to use excessive amounts of exclamation points!!!
2. Discover new blogs and bloggers
3. Gives your eyes a little break from reading your book
4. You can schedule your cheering in small increments throughout the ‘thon
5. All the cool kids are doing it
6. You know you’ll be hanging out on twitter anyway!
7. Takes less than a minute to make someone’s hour by leaving an encouraging comment
8. Freedom to leave silly and goofy comments that might possibly include cheesy rhymes
9. Cheerleaders are the most important participants in the readathon
10. Readathon is more fun when people are cheering you on

A little birdy also told me there will be random prizes for the cheerleaders during the ‘thon, but these 10 reasons are reason enough, eh?

My first several readathons I was strickly a reader, but last year I decided to help spread the readathon cheer by being one of the head cheerleaders and cheering during my reading breaks. Even if you can only cheer for an hour here and there out of the whole day, you will be so appreciated—I can assure you. And not only that, but I think you’ll have a blast in the process.

I will get off my little soapbox now and leave you with my Trish cheer: “Readathon, Readathon, Readathon.”

GO NOW and sign up to be a Readathon Cheerleader.

And, if you can squeeze in some reading time between all your cheerleading, definitely sign up for the Readathon as well. :)

Don't think I'll stop smiling for the next 10 days due to anticipation,

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Animal Farm - George Orwell

Title: Animal Farm
Author: George Orwell
Published: 1945; Pages: 128
Genre: Classic Fiction; Satire
Rating: 4.5/5

Animal Farm briefly summarized: One night after Mr. Jones goes to bed, Old Major, the prizewinning boar at Manor Farm tells the other animals about a dream he had in which the animals revolt against Mr. Jones in order to live a life of freedom--away from the oppression and inequality they are dealt from man. Old Major dies shortly after but three young pigs, Snowball, Napoleon, and Squealer, carry on the spirit of the revolution when they overthrow Mr. Jones and create Animal Farm—a place where all animals are equal and work together for the group not the individual.

Why did I wait so long to read this book? Before reading this book I had only read a handful of Orwell's essays, which I enjoyed, but friends have talked about disliking his books, especially Nineteen-Eighty Four, so I always stayed away (though I own both). But what a clever little gem. It's been a while since I read such tongue-in-cheek satire that had me giggling out loud. I kept reading little bits to my husband who said, "sounds like communism." Yup, that's the point. At the core of Animal Farm is Orwell’s satirical look at Stalin and Communist Russia.

But while I did my fair share of giggling when reading, this book nor the subject matter are funny when looked at through the lens of real life. The animals create seven commandments, the base of which all animals are equal and shouldn't act like man in anyway. The problem is that not every animal on Animal Farm were equal and the leaders quickly emerged and began spreading propaganda throughout the farm. But propaganda leads to deceit and justification for inconsistencies and soon the animals are right back to where they start. Scary to think about how prophetic or at least telling this little novel is.

If you haven’t already read Animal Farm, I highly recommend it. The book reads like a story-time allegory and Orwell’s language is very accessible. The animal characters are as well-developed as they could be in such a short book, and the animal stereotypes worked to further highlight the satire of the novel. Honestly, I don’t have any complaints about the book at all. It’s been a month since I finished it, and it took me longer to read than I would have liked (no fault of Orwell), but it’s one of those that I can see myself reading again and again in the future and continuing to take more from it each time.

Some notable quotes:

Squealer: "Comrades...I trust that every animal here appreciates the sacrifice that Comrade Napoleon has made in taking this extra labour upon himself.  Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is pleasure! On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsbility.  No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napolean that all animals are equal.  He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves.  But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?" (59).

"These scenes of terror and slaughter were not what they had looked forward to on that night when old Major first stirred them to rebellion.  If she herself had had any picture of the future, it had been of a society of animals set free from hunger and the whip, all equal, each working according to his capacity, the strong protecting the week..." (85)

"They knew that life nowadays was harsh and bare, that they were often hungry and often cold, and that they were usually working when they were not asleep.  But doubtless it had been worse in the old days.  They were glad to believe so.  Besides, in those days they had been slaves and now they were free, and that made all the difference, as Squealer did not fail to point out" (106).

Have you read Animal Farm? What did you think? What else would you recommend by Orwell?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Sunday Salon - Writing when you have Blogger's Block

Good morning!  Or in some places I think it's already afternoon.  I've had a bit of a lazy start this morning and am having troubles kick starting my day.  It's one of those with lots of items on the agenda--cleaning, laundry, cutting fabric, searching for items for Halloween Village, grocery shopping, and if any time's left over maybe a bit of reading. 

But I wanted to squeeze in a Sunday Salon post!  Today's Topic:

Reviewing when you have Blogger's Block

The past several months I've been a little lax about writing book reviews.  I've been blogging about books for over three years so I'm not sure where this block is coming from!  Some of it is a lack of reading in general, but that aside there are about a dozen books I've read in the past year that have gone completely unmentioned.  There have even been a few where I've listened to the audiobook to help spark my memory in order to blog about the book...but...nothing. 

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I'm suffering from a type of Blogger's Block and I've seen others mention they are as well.  Dolce Bellezza write a little post last week asking bloggers how they review books-right away or if they let the material mull a bit and I was surprised at how many bloggers have to write a review right away or the train of thought kind of disappears.  Is this because we immediately jump on to the next book without giving ourselves enough time to really absorb what we've finished?  Interesting thought for another day.

Today, what I want to ask is what is your process for reviewing books?  When you're staring at a blank post screen, where do you start?  Do you outline your posts? Do you jump around from place to place?  Do you have a type of formula that you use when reviewing?  Say you've just read the best book in the whole world and have so much to say you don't know where to start?  Or a book you felt really blah about and have nothing to say?  How do you work through all of the different roadblocks that come from talking about books.

When I was in the habit of writing reviews, I tried to do so immediately after I'd finished the book.  I actually started thinking about what I wanted to write while I was still reading the book!  Different points or key moments or even quotes I loved.  I think my reviews tend to be pretty formulaic--short blip about why I read the book, short summary, what I liked, what I didn't like, and bottom line.  I don't know why this is so hard for me to do now!  I've been working on my Les Miserables and Animal Farm posts for far too long--weeks--when it used to take me no more than an hour (with procrastination time built in) to write a post. 

So, do you have any secrets or tips for when your fingers just don't know what keys to hit on the keyboard to get that first sentence started?  Or do the words just flow every time you sit down? 

Oh, and Happy Sunday!!  :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Just Listen - Sarah Dessen

Title: Just Listen
Author: Sarah Dessen
Published: 2006; Pages: 371
Genre: Fiction (YA)
Rating: 3.75/5

Just Listen is the story of Annabel Greene, who at first glances appears to have everything, but as she starts a new school year this couldn't be further from the truth.  Something has happened over the summer and she has become alienated from her best friend Sophie and it seems everyone else has turned their shoulder on her as well.  Annabel seeks refuge at "the wall" during lunches and everything changes for her when she realizes she can find solace in the quiet and greatly misunderstood Owen Armstrong.

Little by little Annabel begins opening up to Owen about the things she keeps locked away--her sister's eating disorder and how Annabel hates modeling but continues because of her mom--but completely opening up about everything that has happened to her proves to be difficult.  Annabel fails to understand how she can be so truthful about everything when there's so much at stake when people find out what really happened.

This is my first Dessen novel and after hearing such raves about her books I was pleased to find that I wasn't let down.  Her characters are very real, which made identifying with portions of all of them easy.  I sometimes had troubles liking the characters, especially Annabel, because they were portrayed so realistically.  Another thing that I appreciated about the book was that the conflicts were mostly internal conflicts--we don't learn what actually happened between Annabel and Sophie until later in the book and so most of the struggles that we hear from Annabel are global struggles--trying to keep up a perfect facade when inside there is so much turmoil. 

For me this is what being a teenager was so much about--inner turmoil.  And misunderstandings between friends, and failure to fully listen to each side of the story, and assumptions, and trying to please parents who don't really understand what you're feeling.  As I was reading this book I was trying to figure out why it was classified as YA or what makes any book a YA novel?  Is it because the characters are all teenaged?  Because while the subject matter revolves around high school and high school students (although not really), the emotions expressed in the book go beyond those felt by just a teenager--they are human emotions that one feels at any age.  As I mentioned in my review on Thirteen Reasons Why, its just as an adult you may be better equipped to handle the emotional turmoil due to experience than a teenager.

Bottom line is I liked the book.  I didn't love it--I actually got a little restless because the "mystery" about Annabel wasn't announced until so late in the book.  And this was fine because it didn't really matter to the plot of the story because it was about so much more than that and the way the book came together at the end worked, but still.  :)  This book was the perfect vacation read--not heavy but interesting enough to hold my attention.

A few notable quotes:

'"Exactly!' he said, nodding.  'That's my point.  That's why we can't forget it.  No matter how much time has passed, these things still affect us and the world we live in.  If you don't pay attention to the past, you'll never understand the future.  It's all linked together.'" (338).

"All I'd ever wanted was to forget.  But even when I thought I had, pieces kept emerging, like bits of wood floating up to the surface that only hint at the shipwreck below.  A pink shirt, a rhyme with my name, the feeling of hands on my neck.  Because this is what happens when you try to run from the past.  It doesn't just catch up: it overtakes, blogging out the future, the landscape, the very sky, until there is no path left except that which leads through it, the only one that can ever get you home" (340).

So out of curiosity--what does make a YA book a YA book??

I am an Amazon Associate and if you purchase Just Listen or any other Amazon product through this link I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you.  Thanks!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


There are several things in life that never fail to make me happy: bright red sunrises, blossoms on Bradford Pears and Crepe Myrtles, Starbucks Peppermint Mochas, unexpected affection from my husband, three day weekends, babies, kittens, world peace—you get the point. But what really takes the happiness factor to the next level is people randomly breaking out into song. Yes, I wish life were a musical and that people spontaneously started dancing in perfectly choreographed synchronization. Who cares if it isn’t realistic that fifty people would all conveniently know the same moves or that trumpet players appear out of nowhere, it’s fun!

So it is with super duper anticipation and excitement that I wait for Glee’s season premiere tonight. Just check out the clip below and tell me that your foot isn’t tapping just a little bit. That you don’t have the urge to cry out “Dah Dat!” Maybe you’re even waving your hands in the air, or if you’re like me, just full out busting a move (ok, maybe just in my head since all day I’ll be stuck at work). But could this show be any more aptly titled? Glee. Yes, Glee Club. But Glee. That’s what this show brings to me every week. Pure Unadulterated Glee.

My husband doesn’t get musicals or this show. He tolerates it, barely, but he’s just one of those people that simply don’t get it. And I know some of you are too. And I wish there was something I could do to change your mind. Even though the show is a lot of tongue in cheek, and it sometimes totters on that fine line of ridiculousness, and most of the plot lines get tied up with a pretty little bow, this show also has a realness about it. I dare you to watch it and see if it doesn’t move you just a little bit. And not just in the physical sense, but in the emotional sense—though I’d be hardpressed to believe this show doesn’t have your toes just itching…even just a little bit…to do some tapping.

Will you be watching? I’m having a viewing party with my mom (who is also making me my favorite meal because she’s the best) and hopefully sister and niece. It will be a totally Glee-tastic evening, I can already tell.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Brothers Karamazov Ceilidh - Part III

Small note. Apparently control P will publish your post--I meant to hit control I for italics! Sorry for the mess-up in Google Reader!! This is the "correct" version as the other was a mishmash of Part II and Part III!

100 bottles of Vodka on the wall, 100 bottles of Vodka.  Take one down, pass it around and....Ceilidh!!  It's the Brothers Karamzov Readalong Part III!  This post focuses on Part III of Brothers Karamazov--pages 327-512 of my edition.  Finally, some spoilers, but nothing you wouldn't learn from reading the first few pages of the Introduction.  Regardless, beware.

What’s going on so far (from what I can tell):

Finally, a part where I understood (at least on surface level) about 85% of the goings on!  In short, Aloysha goes to visit Grushenka (remember both older brother Dmitri and dad are infatuated by her) and the reader learns her story and of her previous engagement.  Meanwhile Dmitri is trying to figure out what to do about his love for Grushenka and the three thousand rubles that he owes Katerina but knows that his father has.  There's lots of pawning and changing of money and trickery, but in the end Dmitri makes his way to his father's for his three thousand rubles he has stashed away for Grushenka.  blahblahblah, Grigory sees Dmitri in the yard and yells Patricide! and Dmitri strikes him on the head and runs off to find Grushenka.  While with Grushenka and a bunch of Poles, Dmitri is surrounded by police and apprehended for the murder of his father.  He insists he didn't kill old Fyodor, but he doesn't have much going for him.  At the end of Part III he is imprisioned.

Thoughts so far:

Not as much religion talk this time!  And much more dialect which makes the reading go much quicker.  But mostly what I'm wondering is why the heck this book is so long!  Could have been cut down tremendously--like to even 300 pages instead of 800! 

This section was definitely the easiest for me to read and I really hope it continues as such.  I'm guessing that the last part will be the trial (may have cheated and looked ahead at the chapter titles), and I find it very curious that Dmitri was so insistant that he didn't kill his father, even though the evidence against him is overwhelming!  Since we didn't really see the murder from Dmitri's eyes but only picked up after Grigory enters the picture, I actually wonder if Dmitri is not the murderer!  Only 260 pages left to find out!

No notable quotes this time

Much of Part III was dialogue between characters (yay) and the bits that I did underline in my copy are mostly characterizations or important plot points.  Guess there's nothing like unintelligable religious speak to get my pencil moving in full gear!

Did you miss Part I and Part II of my struggles?  What I don't really get is that these posts have received some of the most hits in this blog's short life.  Hopefully it's not poor students trying to become enlightened--Ha! 
Have you read Brothers Karamazov?  Love it, Hate it?  Someone must have said this was good for me to pick it up--but now I just can't remember.

Thanks again to my fearless hostess Jill.  I know you're not loving this any more than I am. 

On a side note, I was reading Brothers Karamazov in the kitchen at work the other day.  One of my Russian coworkers (I have two) came in and noted how impressed he was that I was reading Dostoevsky.  I sadly had to explain to him that I just didn't get it.

And about the pronunciation of Karamazov?  Both coworkers say it so quickly that there isn't really time to emphasize any syllables.  Of course they laugh at my efforts and wonder why I don't just read American authors instead. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Squinting Back and Looking Forward - More than a BBAW Reflection

Today is the last day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week and what a week it's been.  This week has left me feeling really revitalized and feeling great.  Book bloggers will do that to you, I think!

Highlight of the Week:
I'll start off with my highlight for the week as my reflections and goals section will be MUCH longer.  I loved bloghopping and reading posts from so many new bloggers.  One of my favorite things about blogging is commenting and I just haven't been commenting a whole lot the past few months--especially on newer blogs.  I couldn't get around to everyone but had a blast trying.  I discovered great new blogs and even rediscovered some old ones I hadn't visited in quite some time.  Getting to know new bloggers and reconnecting with favorites will always be my favorite thing about events like BBAW and the Readathon.

Squinting Back into the Past Year:
I had to go back to last year's BBAW Goal post to see what I had written.  Ironically "Enjoy, Enjoy, Enjoy" and that's it.  And of course my very gushy vlog where Maggie the cat makes an appearance-remember that?  :)  If you haven't "met" me yet, well--it might also pump you up about the upcoming Readathon on October 9th? 

Anyway, I'm not going to lie: the past year was a rough one.  Mostly in my personal life but unfortunately I let my tough times creep into my blogging world.  Although I was still reading a lot at the end of 2009, I stopped posting reviews.  I stopped commenting.  I stopped checking my Google Reader.  By 2010 I was rarely reading anything and finally I said Goodbye to Trish's Reading Nook and moved here.  Part of me was running away, part of me wanted to simplify, most of me just didn't know.

If I had known how hard it would be to start over would I do things differently?  If I knew that most of my followers and bloggers I had been friends with wouldn't make the move with me?  If I knew that my posts, even though imported, wouldn't even be searchable from the search box in the corner?  If I knew...  No, I wouldn't do anything differently.  I'm glad to have a place that's my own--not devoted to books or travel (another blog I combined) but me as a whole.  Reconstructing is tough, but I've learned that you have to be true to yourself.  But every time I begrudge the fact that I only have 45 followers or my subscription numbers are wacky from new domain or if I don't blog for a week I'll get five visitors on my blog all day or or or, I have to remind myself that I have the best followers.  The best commenters.  Seriously--I'm replaying last year's vlog in my head and I wouldn't change a word--not even the sappy teary-eyedness I get at the end. 

Thank you for being so supportive when I've been lost.  When I've read maybe 15 books and reviewed only 10!  When I whine and complain (though I try to keep it light!).  When I go a week without posting and several more without commenting.  Most days if it weren't for you, I'd just go ahead and pack up shop. 

Looking Forward:
Whew--done with the looking into the past.  The future is a bright one.  And though I can see time zappers ahead in the future, I'm taking things more in stride.  I now know I can't comment on every post in my reader.  Maybe not even half.  I can't visit everyone every day.  I can't read every day. I can't post every day.  And most of me is OK with that. 

I don't really like making goals (um, that sounds bad...and probably not what I mean), but looking forward I'd like to try and post more regularly.  I'd like to review at least the last three books I've read and all the ones going forward.  I'd like to continue visiting old blogs as well as hopefully some new--though I will not allow myself to feel guilty!  I'd like to store up some posts for those rainy days.  I'd like to continue blogging about what I want to blog about and not worry whether my book to personal ratio is imbalanced.  And as much as possible, Enjoy, Enjoy, Enjoy. This week ha reminded me how much I love blogging and how much fun it is.  Amy, I can't thank you enough for continuing on this wonderful community building event!

Well, how's that a post for scaring potential new visitors?  Maybe I should post to a few more happy and cheery Trish vlogs?  Another day...

Much Love (and of course, Happy Reading),

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

BBAW - Unexpected Treasure: Blogger Influence

Today's topic, "Unexpected Treasure" is definitely one I can relate to as a book blogger.  There are several books and genres that I've tried due to blogger influence.  In fact, I wrote a Sunday Salon post about Blogger Influence a little over a year ago.  In the post I listed a long ass list of books I've read because of Blogger recommendations--and I'm sure the list has only grown since then. 

I won't repost a laundry list, but I think anyway I slice and dice this topic it all boils down to almost everything that I've read the past three years has in some shape or fashion been because of blogging.  Whether a book was selected because of a challenge or a readalong, an review copy from a publisher, a book that everyone else was reading and so must I, or even just a book that one blogger thought was so fabulous that I knew I'd love it too. 

There are a few books I've read since blogging that really stick out:

The God of Small Things by Arundhait Roy
Remains of the Day by Kazou Ishiguro
The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Most of these books I hadn't heard of before blogging but now they are among my favorites.  Two of them are graphic novels, a genre that I was petrified of for months and months after I started reading reviews of them.  A couple are world literature--a genre that I never was a stranger to but always need a little extra reassurance. 

I can't remember exactly who I have to thank for reading these books--and although I'm influenced by all the bloggers whose blogs I've been reading for some time--there are a few bloggers who continually pass out great recommendations. 

These are definitely blogs to add to your list! 
Nymeth (Ana) from Things Mean A Lot
Amanda from The Zen Leaf
Bellezza from Dolce Bellezza
Tanabata from In Spring it is the Dawn
Charley from Bending Bookshelf

What have other bloggers influenced you to read?  Are there any bloggers in particular that seem to influence you more than others?  (share! share!)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

BBAW - Julie from Manga Maniac Cafe - Interview Swap

Today is day two of Book Bloggers Appreciation Week and can you believe that in three years of participating I have never done the Interview Swap? 

I'm thrilled I participated this year and met Julie from Manga Maniac Cafe (@MangaManiac on twitter). Julie is a new-to-me blogger and her blog is fantastic with a lot of great variety.  Definitely go check her out!

Trish: Describe your blog to someone who has never visited before.

Julie: Manga Manaic Cafe is a review blog that reviews graphic novels and MG & YA fiction. Other features include manga news, convention highlights, author interviews, and whatever else I feel like babbling about.

Trish: Do you have a bookish background? Have you always been an avid reader?

Julie: Yes, I have always been a reader. When I was a teen, I even worked at two different bookstores - one in the mornings, and one in evenings. I have always loved books and I will always love books. There is just something magical about a well-written book that I can’t break away from.

Trish: One of your missions is to introduce people to manga unlike “the sub-par graphic novels lining the book store shelves.” What are five that you would recommend to new readers?

Julie: There are so many series available out there that it is sometimes difficult to know where to start reading. A few years ago there were even more titles being published every month, and it was very, very hard to keep up with them! Unfortunately, some of the smaller publishers have closed up shop, and even the larger ones have reduced their offerings.

Graphic novels that I recommend are:
  • Sand Chronicles by Hinako Ashino
  • NANA by Ai Yazawa
  • Kiichi and the Magic Books by Taka Amano
  • The Palette of 12 Secret Colors by Nari Kusakawa
  • Yurara by Chika Shiomi
It is really hard to pick just five titles!

Trish: Other than manga, what are you favorite genres? Are there any you steer clear of?

Julie: I will read just about anything, though I am usually not too fond of non-fiction. Horror is something I am just starting to appreciate, and I have developed a fondness for zombies.

Trish: What’s your favorite blog post?

Julie: I wrote a post comparing horse shows to anime conventions, and I still like that one. It neatly ties my favorite hobbies together: More Alike Than You Might Think

Trish: Do you have any highlights from your blogging experience?

Julie: There are so many! Someone just taking the time to comment on a post can dramatically improve my mood! Interacting with authors is like a book nerd’s dream come true. Discovering new books to love, outside of my comfort zone, is another one. Blogging is a lot of work, it can be frustrating at times, but when all is said and done, it is very gratifying.

Trish: What are the top five books you can’t imagine having never read and wish everyone else would read them too?
  • Ender’s Game & Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
  • Grass by Sheri Tepper
  • Mind of My Mind by Octavia Butler
  • The Forgotten Beats of Eld by Patricia McKillip
  • A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin
This is a hard list to compile, too, because I have so many books that I love.

Trish: One book you wish you could unread.

Julie: There are so many of those! I have read a lot of stinky books over the years, but you know what? The good ones blot them all out! I can’t even remember most of them, because they were so bad, and they quickly fade from memory.

Trish: In your daily life are you surrounded by readers? Do you have any reading buddies (I see you have some sweet looking pups)? How has being (or not) surrounded by readers affected your reading?
Julie: When I was a kid, my mom was a big reader. Once I moved out, it was a lot harder connecting with other people who read. My nieces did for a while, but then they discovered video games (I play them, too, but not to the extent that they do!). I have a couple of horse show friends who read now (there is a lot of time spent WAITING at horse shows!), and with Twitter and the Internet, I have found a lot of people with similar reading interests. Part of the reason I started blogging in the first place was so I had an outlet to express how I felt about books. And yes, my dog, Buu, usually has the patience of a saint, and he will chill with me for hours while I am reading.

Trish: When you’re not reading, how do you enjoy spending your time?
Julie: When I’m not reading or working on the blog, I am out at the barn spending time with my horses, or hanging out with my guy, Dean. Honestly, I work so many hours during the week, that it’s hard to fit a lot of other hobbies into the schedule. I work about 60 hours a week, and all I want to do when I get home is relax and forgot about how stressful my day has been!

Trish: Finally, a six word memoir for yourself.

Julie: Searching for the answer to everything
Trish: And anything else you want to share or think important that people know about you/your blog!

Julie: I would love for everyone who stops by the blog to find a new book to enjoy, whether it’s a graphic novel or a MG/YA book. Give a new genre a chance, step outside of your comfort zone, and you will be surprised at what you find. Reading is such a wonderful way to unwind and escape the stresses of life! Enjoy it!
Thanks Julie for such great answers to the questions! One of my favorite things about events like BBAW are meeting other bloggers who are as passionate about reading as I am. I hope you'll pop by Manga Maniac Cafe and say hi!

If you're interested, you can see Julie's questions and my answers on her side of the interview swap.  :)


Monday, September 13, 2010

BBAW - First Treasure

September 13-17 is Book Blogger Appreciation Week.  This year's theme, "A Treasure Chest of Infinite Books and Infinite Blogs" is such a keen theme as each year the book blogosphere grows by leaps and bounds and the world of books is opened wider and wider. 

Today's post prompt is about a book blog we discovered during last year's BBAW.  Unfortunately the festivities last year came right before my husband and I left for Europe for vacation and shortly after I lasped into quite a long blog break.  Although I did participate in BBAW last year, it wasn't as fully as I would have liked.

Instead of highlighting a book blog I discovered last year, I want to highlight one of the first I discovered: Musings of a Bookish Kitty by Literary Feline (Wendy).  It's so hard to pinpoint just one blog (in fact, many of the blogs I highlighted last year are still amongst my favorites), but I'll allow myself to just cheat and pinpoint just one blog this one time.  :)

Why should you be reading Musings of a Bookish Kitty?  She reads a wide array of books--just about everything under the sun--from mysteries to literary fiction to historical pieces.  You're sure to find something that you enjoy on her blog, but more importantly she puts so much thought into her reviews.  I can always get a taste for a book after reading her reviews and have certainly added a book or two (at least) to my shelves because of it!  At first I'll admit I was a bit intimidated by Wendy but she is a genuine and welcoming blogger.

What about you?  What is one of the first blogs you discovered when you started blogging?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Books Reviewed (Alpha by Author)

Links will take you to my thoughts on books from June 2007 to present.

Abagnale, Frank W. - Catch Me If You Can
Ackerman, Diane - The Zookeeper's Wife
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi - Half of a Yellow Sun
Alcott, Louisa May - Little Women
Alexie, Sherman - The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Anam, Tahmima - A Golden Age
Anderson, Laurie Halse - Speak
Asher, Jay - Thirteen Reasons Why
Atwood, Margaret - The Blind Assassin
Atwood, Margaret - Cat's Eye
Atwood, Margaret - The Robber Bride
Austen, Jane - Emma
Austen, Jane - Northanger Abbey
Austen, Jane - Pride and Prejudice

Baker, Tiffany - The Little Giant of Aberdeen County
Barrows, Annie and Mary Ann Shaffer - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Barry, Brunonia - The Lace Reader
Beah, Ishmael - A Long Way Gone
Benioff, David - City of Thieves
Berendt, John - The City of Falling Angels
Berendt, John - Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Bluestein, Eleanor - Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales
Boyne, John - The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
Bradbury, Ray - Something Wicked This Way Comes
Bronte, Emily - Wuthering Heights

Capote, Truman - In Cold Blood
Caputo, Philip - A Rumor of War
Card, Orson Scott - Ender's Game
Cather, Willa - My Antonia
Choldenko, Gennifer - Al Capone Does My Shirts
Chopin, Kate - The Awakening
Cisneros, Sandra - The House on Mango Street
Collins, Wilkie - The Woman in White
Conrad, Joseph - Heart of Darkness
Cunningham, Michael - Flesh and Blood

Delaney, Frank - Ireland
Delany, Frank - Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show
Denham, Holly - Holly's Inbox
Diaz, Junot - The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
du Maurier, Daphne - Rebecca

Earley, Pete - The Hot House
Ehrenreich, Barbara - Nickel and Dimed
Eliot, George - Middlemarch
Elliott, Anna - Twilight of Avalon
Ellis, Joseph J. - His Excellency: George Washington
Esquirel, Laura - Like Water for Chocolate
Eugenides, Jeffrey - Middlesex

Faulkner, William - As I Lay Dying
Fforde, Jasper - The Eyre Affair
Flagg, Fannie - Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!
Forbes, Esther - Johnny Tremain
Ford, Jamie - Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet - Jamie Ford
Forster, EM - Howards End
Fowler, Connie May - How Clarissa Burder Learned to Fly
Frank, Anne - Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
Frazier, Charles - Thirteen Moons
Freese, Mathias B. - Down to a Sunless Sea
Frey, James - A Million Little Pieces

Gaiman, Neil - Coraline
Gaiman, Neil - Neverwhere
Gaiman, Neil - Stardust
Gertler, Stephanie - The Puzzle Bark Tree
Gibbons, Dave and Alan Moore  - Watchmen
Gies, Miep - Anne Frank Remembered
Gilbert, Elizabeth - Eat, Pray, Love
Gilbert, Elizabeth - Eat, Pray, Love (re-read)
Gilmore, Susan Gregg - Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen
Grann, David - The Lost City of Z
Green, John and David Levithan - Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Gregory, Phillipa - The Other Boleyn Girl
Grisham, John - The Innocent Man
Gruen, Sara - Water for Elephants
Guin, Ursula Le - Left Hand of Darkness

Hamilton, Jane - A Map of the World
Hardy, Thomas - Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Hari, Daoud - The Translator
Haynes, Melinda - Mother of Pearl
Heller, Joseph - Catch-22
Henkin, Joshua - Matrimony
Hinton, S.E. - The Outsiders
Hoffman, Alice - The Ice Queen
Hornby, Nick - High Fidelity
Hornby, Nick - A Long Way Down
Hosseini, Khaled - A Thousand Splendid Suns
Hurston, Zora Neale - Their Eyes Were Watching God
Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World

Irving, John - The World According to Garp
Ishiguro, Kazuo - Never Let Me Go
Ishiguro, Kazuo - The Remains of the Day

James, Emmett - Admit One: My Life in Film
James, Henry - The Portrait of a Lady

Kawabata, Yasunari - Snow Country
Kawaguchi, Matsutaro - Mistress Oriku
Kazantzakis, Nikos - Zorba the Greek
Kelly, Deirdre - Paris Times Eight
Kent, Kathleen - The Heretic's Daughter

Larson, Erik - Thunderstruck
Larsson, Stieg - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Levithan, David and John Green - Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Lewycka, Marina - A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
Lockhart, E. - The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
Lowry, Lois - The Giver

MacDonald, Anne-Marie - Fall On Your Knees
Maguire, Gregory - Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister
Maguire, Gregory - Wicked
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia - One Hundred Years of Solitude
Mayes, Frances - Under the Tuscan Sun
Mayle, Peter - A Year in Provence
McCammon, Robert - Boy's Life
McCarthy, Cormac - All the Pretty Horses
McCarthy, Cormac - No Country for Old Men
McCarthy, Cormac - The Road
McCourt, Frank - Angela's Ashes
McEwan, Ian - Atonement
Meyer, Stephenie - Eclipse
Meyer, Stephenie - New Moon
Meyer, Stephenie - Twilight
Mezrich, Ben - Bringing Down the House
Miller, Arthur - Death of a Salesman
Moore, Alan and Dave Gibbons  - Watchmen
Murakami, Haruki - Kafka on the Shore

Nabokov, Vladimir - Lolita
Nafisi, Azar - Reading Lolita in Tehran
Nelson, Willie - A Tale Out of Luck

O'Brien, Tim - The Things They Carried
Orczy, Baroness Emmuska - The Scarlet Pimpernel

Pamuk, Orhan - Snow
Paterson, Katherine - Bridge to Terabithia
Patterson, James - Sam's Letters to Jennifer
Picoult, Jodi - Keeping Faith
Picoult, Jodi - Plain Truth
Picoult, Jodi - Salem Falls
Picoult, Jodi - The Tenth Circle
Picoult, Jodi - Vanishing Acts
Poe, Edgar Allan - The Tales of Edgar Allan Poe
Pratchett, Terry - The Color of Magic
Pratchett, Terry - The Light Fantastic
Proulx, Annie - The Shipping News


Reichl, Ruth - Tender at the Bone
Robson, Lucia St. Clair - Ride the Wind
Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Rowling, J.K. - Tales of Beedle the Bard
Roy, Arundhati - The God of Small Things

Sabar, Ariel - My Father's Paradise
Salinger, J.D. - Nine Stories
Sandell, Laurie - The Impostor's Daughter
Satrapi, Marjane - The Complete Persepolis
Savage, J. Scott - Far World: Water Keep
Sedaris, David - Holidays on Ice
See, Lisa - Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Setterfield, Diane - The Thirteenth Tale
Shaffer, Mary Ann and Annie Barrows - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Shakespeare, William - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Shelley, Mary - Frankenstein
Shreve, Anita - Sea Glass
Smith, Betty - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Smith, Philip - Walking Through Walls
Sofer, Dalia - The Septembers of Shiraz
Spiegelman, Art - The Complete Maus
Stein, Garth - The Art of Racing in the Rain
Steinbeck, John - Travels With Charley
Stephenson, Neal - Snow Crash

Twain, Mark - Tom Sawyer
Tyler, Anne - Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant



Wallace, Daniel - Big Fish
Walls, Jeannette - The Glass Castle
Warren, Robert Penn - All the King's Men
Waters, Sarah - Fingersmith
Wharton, Edith - The Age of Innocence
Wharton, Edith - Ethan Frome
Wiesel, Elie - Night
Wilde, Oscar - The Picture of Dorian Gray
Woordring, Susan - Springtime on Mars
Wyss, Jan - The Swiss Family Robinson



Zafon, Carlos Ruiz - Shadow of the Wind
Zusak, Markus - The Book Thief

Happy Reading!

Books Reviewed (Alpha by Title)

Links will take you to my thoughts on these books from June 2007 to present.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie
Admit One: My Life in Film - Emmett James
The Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton
Al Capone Does My Shirts - Gennifer Choldenko
All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren
All the Pretty Horses - Cormac McCarthy
Angela's Ashes - Frank McCourt
Anne Frank Remembered - Miep Gies
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank
The Art of Racing in the Rain - Garth Stein
As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner
Atonement - Ian McEwan
The Awakening - Kate Chopin

Big Fish - Daniel Wallace
The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne
Boy's Life - Robert McCammon
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
Bridge to Terabithia - Katherine Paterson
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz
Bringing Down the House - Ben Mezrich

Catch Me If You Can - Frank W. Abagnale
Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
Cat's Eye - Margaret Atwood
The City of Falling Angels - John Berendt
City of Thieves - David Benioff
The Color of Magic - Terry Pratchett
The Complete Maus - Art Spiegelman
The Complete Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister - Gregory Maguire
Coraline - Neil Gaiman

Death of a Salesman - Arthur Miller
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant - Anne Tyler
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks - E. Lockhart
Down to a Sunless Sea - Mathias B. Freese

Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert (re-read)
Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer
Emma - Jane Austen
Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
Ethan Frome - Edith Wharton
The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde

Fall On Your Knees - Anne-Marie MacDonald
Far World: Water Keep - J. Scott Savage
Fingersmith - Sarah Waters
Flesh and Blood - Michael Cunningham
Frankenstein - Mary Shelley

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
The Giver - Lois Lowry
The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls
The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy
A Golden Age - Tahmima Anam
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling
Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
The Heretic's Daughter - Kathleen Kent
High Fidelity - Nick Hornby
His Excellency: George Washington - Joseph J. Ellis
Holidays on Ice - David Sedaris
Holly's Inbox - Holly Denham
The Hot House - Pete Earley
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet - Jamie Ford
The House on Mango Street - Sandra Cisneros
How Clarissa Burder Learned to Fly - Connie May Fowler
Howards End - EM Forster

The Ice Queen - Alice Hoffman
The Impostor's Daughter - Laurie Sandell
In Cold Blood - Truman Capote
Indian Tales from Picuris Pueblo -
The Innocent Man - John Grisham
Ireland - Frank Delaney

Johnny Tremain - Esther Forbes

Kafka on the Shore - Haruki Murakami
Keeping Faith - Jodi Picoult

The Lace Reader - Brunonia Barry
Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula Le Guin
The Light Fantastic - Terry Pratchett
Like Water for Chocolate - Laura Esquirel
The Little Giant of Aberdeen County - Tiffany Baker
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
A Long Way Down - Nick Hornby
A Long Way Gone - Ishmael Beah
Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen - Susan Gregg Gilmore
The Lost City of Z - David Grann

A Map of the World - Jane Hamilton
Matrimony - Joshua Henkin
Middlemarch - George Eliot
Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - John Berendt
A Midsummer Night's Dream - Shakespeare
A Million Little Pieces - James Frey
Mistress Oriku - Matsutaro Kawaguchi
Mother of Pearl - Melinda Haynes
My Antonia - Willa Cather
My Father's Paradise - Ariel Sabar

Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman
New Moon - Stephenie Meyer
Nickel and Dimed - Barbara Ehrenreich
Night - Elie Wiesel
Nine Stories - J.D. Salinger
No Country for Old Men - Cormac McCarthy
Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen

One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Other Boleyn Girl - Phillipa Gregory
The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton

Paris Times Eight - Deirdre Kelly
The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
Plain Truth - Jodi Picoult
The Portrait of a Lady - Henry James
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
The Puzzle Bark Tree - Stephanie Gertler

Reading Lolita in Tehran - Azar Nafisi
Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier
The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
Retold Classic Myths -
Ride the Wind - Lucia St. Clair Robson
The Road - Cormac McCarthy
The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood
A Rumor of War - Philip Caputo

Salem Falls - Jodi Picoult
Sam's Letters to Jennifer - James Patterson
The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baroness Emmuska Orczy
Sea Glass - Anita Shreve
The Septembers of Shiraz - Dalia Sofer
Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Shipping News - Annie Proulx
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian - Marina Lewycka
Snow - Orhan Pamuk
Snow Country - Yasunari Kawabata
Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See
Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury
Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson
Springtime on Mars - Susan Woordring
Stardust - Neil Gaiman
The Swiss Family Robinson - Jan Wyss

A Tale Out of Luck - Willie Nelson
Tales of Beedle the Bard - J.K. Rowling
The Tales of Edgar Allan Poe - Edgar Allan Poe
Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales - Eleanor Bluestein
Tender at the Bone - Ruth Reichl
The Tenth Circle - Jodi Picoult
Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston
The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien
Thirteen Moons - Charles Frazier
Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher
The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield
A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini
Thunderstruck - Erik Larson
Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain
The Translator - Daoud Hari
Travels With Charley - John Steinbeck
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith
Twilight - Stephenie Meyer
Twilight of Avalon - Anna Elliott

Under the Tuscan Sun - Frances Mayes

Vanishing Acts - Jodi Picoult
Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show - Frank Delany

Walking Through Walls - Philip Smith
Watchmen - Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! - Fannie Flagg
Wicked - Gregory Maguire
Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green and David Levithan
The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
The World According to Garp - John Irving
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

A Year in Provence - Peter Mayle

The Zookeeper's Wife - Diane Ackerman
Zorba the Greek - Nikos Kazantzakis

Happy Reading!

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