Saturday, April 28, 2012

Operation Food Processor

I never thought that I would need a food processor and never thought about buying one until I started making baby food for Elle. And let me tell you--having a food processor to puree fruits and veggies (and occasionally chicken) has saved me so much time and allowed me to make fresh and tasty food for my baby.

But...if I've lived my entire life without a food processor, what would I use it for once Elle moved past the stage of pureed foods?

In come Operation Use My...

Where to start? Well, I started by making a rough list of things I knew I could do with the food processor. Then I asked you guys what you use your food processor for. And then to Pinterest. Soon my list was longer than the time I had and I still have things that I would like test out in the food processor.

And while I have ten things listed below, I used my FP much more than that--this puppy probably got used two or three times a week. How's that for awesome?

The Recipes (as pictured left to right above)

Peanut Butter - A canister of peanuts, blend for several minutes, added a stream of agave nectar for a bit of sweetness. Was thick but tasty. Lasts about two weeks in the fridge. I think if I do this again I'll try honey roasted peanuts. Mmmm.

Pie Crust - a paper recipe--was seriously as easy as chilling all the ingredients, pulsing a few times, and letting the blade do the magic. Used the crust for my Chicken Pot Pie.

Finely Chopped Veggies - Steamed carrots, zucchini, broccoli, peas, and cauliflower for Elle. Add some cheese sauce and this would be a great side dish (could just roughly chop veggies).

Butter - this was Scott's project as part of Eat It Real Challenge. It was a lot of fun to make, tasted great. Ultimately not quite as cost effective as regular store-bought butter, though. Basically just heavy cream until the butter separates from the buttermilk!

Hummus - Recipe thanks to Beth Fish - with a little cumin added for taste. I've never had hummus before so I'm not sure if mine tasted like hummus? Was tasty with pita chips.

Chocolate Icebox Cake - Recipe torn from Real Simple. Basically just ricotta and melted chocolate.

Pesto - Recipe from Make the Bread, Buy the Butter and used in a stuffed chicken recipe from Don't Panic, Dinner's in the Freezer. Wasn't really sure how else to use the pesto as I added a bit too much garlic.

Coffee Cake - Mostly used to cut the butter into the flour when I made the Blueberry Coffee Cake.

Grated Potatoes - Hashbrowns!

Sliced Potatoes - I think this was our favorite discovery with the food processor. Nice thin slices of potatoes that we used for pan-frying as well as for potatoes au gratin.

Lessons Learned
I came across an article by Mark Bittman for The New York Times about using the food processor and it will literally make you want to run out to the store and buy a food processor immediately. Honestly? If not for baby food, I could probably live without the food processor. All of the the things that I made the past two months are either things I could make by hand or honestly just don't eat a lot of.

That said, I am seeing more and more recipes that call for a food processor and I can see myself getting a LOT of use out of this appliance over the years. In fact, I'm considering getting rid of my blender (something I've used maybe half a dozen times in the six years we've been married). 

--The food processor is a work horse! I will never use a pastry cutter for making dough again.
--I found it difficult to achieve an even chop unless I wanted things finely chopped.
--Dishwasher safe but I'm already thinking about buying extra workbowls and chopping knives.
--I wish that I could control the thickness of the slicing blade as I feel it's a little too thin for general use.

Where do I go from here?
There were so many things that I wanted to try in the Food Processor but time slips away from me. I want to make bread crumbs, grate cheese, zucchini bread, or these zucchini cakes? Sliced veggies for saute, grated veggies for stir fry. Mayonnaise. 

Bottom line is while I don't need my food processor, I can see it being used more and more in the future.

I'd love to hear what else you use your food processor for.

Next month's Operation Use My Kitchen Gadgets will be...

Springform Pan!

I received these bad boys as a wedding gift and have used them ONCE in six years. The only thing that I could think of to make in them in cheesecake and my only attempt at it was terrible. After my due diligence on twitter and pinterest, I have some exciting things I want to try in the next month! Including a tortilla pie and quiche. Who knew!

Other than cheesecake, what do you use your springform pans for?  I'll share my Operation Springform Pan on May 26th. 

Happy cooking!

Every weekend, Beth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking.  "Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs."  Hope you'll join the fun!

On the Blog:
One Year Ago - Chicken Saltimbocca for Two
Two Years Ago - Wuthering Heights Wednesday Begins
Three Years Ago - Sunday Salon 4 - ARCs, Etc.
Four Years Ago - Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See

Thursday, April 26, 2012

On Your First Birthday

To my sweet little Elizabeth Claire on her first birthday,

Your daddy has been giving me such a difficult time the past few weeks because my heart has been so heavy over your turning one. In some ways it feels as though the past year has just flown by but in other ways it's hard to remember life before you were born. It could have been lifetimes ago that we went to bed the night before you were born, the night of Easter, with such giddy excitement in anticipation of leaving for the hospital before dawn the next day. Or the next morning looking in the mirror one last time at my giant tummy that had housed you for nearly ten months and knowing that in a matter of hours I'd be holding you in my arms.

The hours on your birth day seemed to move so slowly and your daddy and I were so eager to meet you. But as slowly as those minutes ticked by, as soon as you were ready, you were ready and we met you with excitement and tears of joy. I cannot describe how incredible the feelings and emotions were as I went from holding you within me to holding you within my arms and see your those little arms and feet that prodded me and your sweet little face and rosebud mouth and of course that head full of hair.

It's hard now to imagine you as small as you were then. Daddy always tells me that you're a lot bigger than when you made your intial arrival and my goodness how you've grown. It seems incredible that when I bathed you, I could wash you entirely in my bathroom sink--the little turkey that you were. And when we went for daily walks you laid perfectly within the body of the stroller and now you love to dangle your legs along the foot rest. You absolutely adored your playmat and would squeal with delight but now you are more interested in opening up the kitchen cabinets and finding what you can bang around. I'm not sure that we'll experience another year that contains such drastic and wondrous changes.

It hasn't been the easiest year transitioning from a woman and wife to the new role of mother, but it has been one of the most joyous years of my life. I've cried tears of frustration and sorrow and fear but also tears of the deepest love. But mostly I feel my love for you in my heart--there are some moments when my heart feels so full for you that I simply don't know if I can bare it. I just look at you, and your amazing beauty, and your strong and willful spirit, and am filled with completeness. People told me that I wouldn't know a mother's love until I was a mother myself and now I am telling you that I simply cannot define the precious love that I feel for you. It is miraculous.

We waited a long time for you to join our lives and I am so blessed to have you as my daughter. While I know that it drives you crazy when I hold you like a baby, my favorite time of day is when you're in your little jammies and we are snuggled together in the rocking chair. I love that time when I can sing to you and look into your beautiful blue eyes and hold your little hand and just rock and rock and rock while I hold you close. It has been an amazing year and my heart is heavy at it being over so quickly never to have those moments back, but I look forward to all of the wonderful times ahead.

I love you my sweet little Chickpea Banana. You are my sunshine.



My oh my oh my...  I do have a twelve month update post drafted but haven't had a chance to go through last month's photos to upload. Just like yesterday was Elle's true birthday. A day in the life, right?

Thank you for letting me share this past year with you all.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Day the World Ends - Ethan Coen

Ethan Cohen, half of the famed Coen Brothers, has a new book of poetry out entitled The Day the World Ends. When I was contacted by Random House about receiving a copy to review my second thought was "Yes Please!" My first thought was along the lines of--can't they see that I suck at book reviews these days, but that's neither here nor there. I've been wanting to participate in the Read More Poetry event that Lu and Kailana are heading up, and since it's National Poetry Month, I figured this would be perfect.

Plus I love the Coen Brothers' movies.

Unfortunately I did not love this little book of poetry.  I'm not even sure that I can say I liked it. Which makes me remember why I don't typically review books for others but stick more to my good old trusted bookshelves. The poems started off amusing and I chuckled a bit to myself at the dry and sarcastic wit. But then the subjects moved into the crude and then to subjects I just wasn't sure I wanted to read about anymore. Let's just say that I'd give this one a rating above R.

The Day the World Ends is 120 page collection of mostly short poems. Some a few lines and some a few pages. They're all pretty easy to read and not terribly abstruse. Rhymes and rhythmic. I don't want to be the one who asks what makes poetry good poetry. ;)

A sample that I'm hoping doesn't have any hidden offense:


Who is this newborn,
   Time will tell;
The old man dying
   We know well.

For who departs we
   Fit goodbyes;
How greet, however,
   Who arrives?

I could have enjoyed a quick little book like this but the other topics are ones I don't want to mention by name for fear of the search engine hits. Haven't decided if I'll finish or not. Probably with some discretion. If you guys were me would you not have mentioned this little volume at all?

What do you look for in poetry?

On the Blog:
One Year Ago - Sunday Salon 44: The Day Before
Two Years Ago - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Three Years Ago - Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales - Eleanor Bluestein
Four Years Ago - Bookish Babble (my heart cried a little when I saw the mention of Dewey on this post)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pin It and Do It: A Pinteresting Challenge

You’ve probably heard me talk about my love for Pinterest. No? Well, I love it.

As many of you have also discovered, Pinterest is a virtual pinboard where you can “pin” posts/sites you’d like to visit again, share the ideas with others, and repin what your friends have pinned. Scratching your head? For example, if I see a recipe on a blog that I really want to try I used to either star the post in my Google Reader or add the link to my favorites or most likely just forget about it. But by using Pinterest I can easily find all of those posts again.

See below for an example of what my dashboard looks like (click to enlarge):

Pinning is a lot of fun (and can be quite addicting), but sometimes I forget to put the Pinterest inspiration to good use. In fact, one of my “Things to Do in 2012” is to make something that I've pinned on Pinterest. After hearing many others mention that they also would like to actually make the things that they pin, I thought I’d open the floor for a little Pinterest challenge.

Pin It and Do It: A Pinteresting Challenge

The Details:
1. To participate you will choose your level and then make (or do) that amount of pins during May 2012. Challenge ends May 31st. (can be new pins or old pins...doesn't matter)
2. Report back on your Pin It and Do It success. Ideally this will come in the form of a blog or tumblr post. Or you can post about it on Facebook or Flickr if you don’t have a blog or tumblr. Or create a board on Pinterest for this challenge. If none of the above, report your success in the Wrap-Up Post comments.
3. Anyone is welcome to join. If you need an invite to Pinterest, let me know your email address and I’ll send an invite.

The Levels:
Timid Pinner: 1-3 Pins
Pinterested: 4-7 Pins
Pin Obsessed: 8+ Pins

Some Pinterest Etiquette and Courtesies:
--If you create a pin from a post, make sure you are pinning the true URL of the post and not the main website so folks can easily find the link again.
--When you create a pin, try to include the website in the description of the pin.
--Do not include the entire recipe or instructions in the pin description.
--If you embed a pinned picture on your own blog, make it clear that it is not your original picture--a link back to the original blog post is always appreciated.

And other little tidbits...this does not have to be a food or crafting challenge. Saw an interesting photography lesson? Click! An outfit you'd love to put together? Yup! Organizing idea for around the house? Go for it! A workout Regiment? Kick butt! Really this challenge is endless--you just need to tell us what you pinned and what you did. Make sure to note the original pin wherever you complete your wrapup (or if you do progress reports) to give the originator credit.

So, Are You Pin? Ok I mean In. And while the challenge doesn't officially start until May 1st, if you happen to be Pinspired before then, go for it! (ok, sorry...enough with the pinalogies...)

Grab the button and join the fun!  I'd love if you helped me spread the word!

Happy Pinning and Creating,

A special thanks to my lovey for patiently wearing the oven mitt while holding the cupcake for the button picture.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ready Player One - Ernest Cline

Title: Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Narrator: Wil Wheaton
Published: 2011; Pages: 384
Audio Duration: 15 hrs; 46 min
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 4/5

In Short: When James Halliday, the creater of the virtual/alternate reality world of The Oasis, suddenly dies, the quest of all quests begins as members of The Oasis embark in a hunt for Halliday's fortune. Wade Watts, a teenager who lives his life on The Oasis, makes a huge breakthrough in the Quest, but he realizes that his search for the fortune is going to cost much more than he bargained for.

Why I Listened: I consulted Twitter for an audiobook that I could not stop listening to and several piped up with Ready Player One. I was apprehensive because of the subject but their praise was overwhelming.

What You Wanted to Know:

Without being too spoilerish, what did you think of the ending? (Kailana)

Yeeep! I don't remember the ending. (But I discussed briefly with my coworker who just finished listening and he was really surprised). I have to hope that Wade's choice at the end makes him happy. I think it will.

Someone actually makes the Oasis a reality in our society, what are your thoughts on that? (Kailana)

The first time that I encountered reading about an Alternate Reality was when I read Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson a few years ago. It reminded me a lot of games such as SIMS, which I'm not entirely familiar with but I think that you play online with others using avatars? And of course there is a pretty big online gaming world. But the thought of a society that is mostly an alternate reality is very frightening to me. Which is a little ironic given how much time Bloggers can spend on the computer, but I also try to keep myself grounded and live in the here and now. But perhaps if we lived in a post-apocalyptic world, I'd want to stay holed up in my apartment living in a virtual world also? Nah--I imagine I'd want to be like Mila Kunis in Book of Eli.

I loved the book but I'm older than you so I wondered if it's still fun if you don't remember all the old computer games from the 1980s, etc. (Leeswammes) and related: Since you're younger than I am, did you "get" all the 80's references? (BermudaOnion)

Yes, I was a babe in the 80s, so I am more a child of the 80s who was shaped by the 90s. I did get a lot of the pop culture references, especially with movies and other random trivia. The parts where I didn't understand as much were more related to the gaming information. Other than my regular Nintendo and eventually Super Nintendo, I didn't play very many video games. I wish that I was able to understand these references more but it didn't hinder my enjoyment of the book.

Why in the world haven't I listened to it yet? @lithousewife

I don't think this was meant to be a question seriously addressed, but I'm going to anyway. I was a bit leery of the sci-fi, cyberpunk thriller premise of the book and have heard many others say the same. This is a common phrase: "This book was not something I'd normally pick up." Or "This book was way out of my comfort zone." But...I've seen very few people dislike it, so really--what are you waiting for? Plus there will be a movie, so why wait...

Bottom Line: If you are remotely interested in cyberpunk, science fiction, 80s trivia, gaming, or fast-paced adventures, this one is worth every bit of the hype it has received. Though this isn't something I would normally ever pick up in book form, I really enjoyed the listening experience.

A Note About the Audio: Wil Wheaton narrates Ready Player One and while I hadn't heard of him before listening (hangs head in shame), I can assure you he was the perfect choice. Well-paced, emphatic in all the right places, and tonality was perfect for the teenage boy he was narrating.

What's a book outside of your comfort zone that you read and loved?

On the Blog:
One Year Ago - Sunday Salon 43: Books I'd Love to Read Right Now
Two Years Ago - Hoppy Easter
Three Years Ago - The Outsiders and Sam's Letters to Jennifer
Four Years Ago - A Million Little Pieces by James Frey

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What's in a [nick]Name


Nicknames. I love them. For myself, for others, for things, for anything. I have secret nicknames for some of you (jilly bean, I'm looking at you. even though I know you don't like jilly bean, I just can't help it in my head). I think I get the nickname thing from my mom--afterall, she is the one who gave me the nickname TriniCapini, which as many of you know is my Twitter handle and other various usernames across the web. This has been shortened to Trini, Trin, and even Tri Tri (the i is long so sounds like Tree-knee-Ca-pee-knee). Trini Capini is just one of many nicknames--friends have called me all sorts of variations of Tricia and Trish (I went by Tricia until college...a story for another time).

I've had about ten trillion nicknames for all of the various pets that I've had and just as many names for Scott. He drew the line when I called him Chalupa once so now most of the time it's just Scotty. Or honey bunny boo. Or lovey. Or...  I know those are mostly terms of endearments rather than nicknames, but they kind of blur together. I'm sure it irritates him but I can't help it and my nicknaming isn't about to go away.

Many of you have asked about how Elle received her nickname Chickpea Banana (or CpB for short, but usually with "the" in front--The Chickepea Banana. The CpB).  And if you're my niece Emma, it's Chickme Bamama Gurell (a very Texan way to say Girl). But remember how she was once Baby Billy Bob? And then Little Miss Baby Bill Sue?  This nicknaming business started back when she was just a little peanut.

Chickpea Banana was half processed and half organic. My mom calls my niece sweetpea and peapod so naturally Elle was another pea; I always liked chickpea.. When she was a baby, I sang to her all the time (still do) and one day while I was peeling my banana I was singsonging Chiquita Banana which morphed into Chickpea Banana which I then started to sing to her stuck. For the record she's also called Ellie Belly Boop and Ellie P Jelly and according to Emma  her name IS Baby Elle. We never call her Ellie by itself--it's a cute name but seems so different from Elle and not very fitting of her personality.

I'm sure that by the time she's my age Elle will have had a million nicknames. And since her true name is Elizabeth there's even more room for moniker changes. But for now she'll be my little Chickpea Banana. And doesn't she just look like a little chickpea banana??

Do you have any particular nicknames? Did the name evolve from something particular or just sort of happen?

On the Blog:
One Year Ago - Sunday Salon 4: Books I'd Love to Read Right Now
Two Years Ago - Good Things - New Car Edition
Three Years Ago - Readathon!!! Kick-off Video
Four Years Ago - Indian Tales from Picuris Pueblo

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Salon 61: Double Stacked Shelves

Good morning lovely people!!  Remember how I told you a few days ago (or months)  that I was working on redoing my bookshelves? Well, I'm pretty close to being done but my "read" shelf was really starting to stress me out. I had to remove a stack of books before shooting the below picture just so you could see the chaotic mess. (don't mind the blurry shots...).  I already filled one bin of books and sent many to the library for donations and have another stack that I need to mail out to a few of you (I'm sorry...)

I simply can't get rid of any more of these books. Not even the loathed Brothers Karamazov. But last week Lisa came to my rescue when she pointed to a Good Housekeeping article about cleaning/organizing your home library.  The last slide in the article is all about maximizing shelf space by making two rows of books on the shelf and raising the back row of books so they're still visible.

Duh! Why hadn't I thought about this before?!

So I asked Scott how he thought I could accomplish this. I decided that the size of a tissue box would do the trick and he said he could make me some shelves pretty easily.


Basically he cut a five inch wide plank and raised it with little stands. Again, sorry for the blurry picture below. And because of the structure of my shelves (the front framing), the mini-shelf is a bit smaller than the width of the main shelf, but Les Miserables and Our Mutual Friend helped bridge the gap.

10 bucks for four shelves AND Scott got to use his power tools. Win Win.

So now I have a raised row in the back and a lower row in the front. Seriously--how simple and genius is this? It's terrible to stack books like I had been (bad for the spines...though you can tell from the books below that I'm a reformed spine cracker) and now all the books are visible without me having to rearrange.

Gorgeous, huh?

Now, with my shelves it really only works with the paperbacks, so the hardcover books will continue to have their own shelves, but this definitely buys some more space and is much better looking than the chaotic stacks in the first picture.

One step closer, y'all. At the rate I'm going, I might even be able to have these shelves organized by next Sunday (rolls eyes and laughs head off...).

Do you have any fun shelf organizing tips? 

What's going on with you this weekend?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Blueberry Coffee Cake

So you guys remember that last month was Operation Use My Food Processor, right? And that I extended it for another month because while I was awesome at making baby food in the FP, I didn't really do much else. 

On the hunt I went for recipes that use a food processor. I found a recipe for Blueberry Buttermilk Coffee Cake but made some adjustments to the recipe to suit my tastes. I turned out so delicious that I had to take the leftovers to my mom's house so I wouldn't eat the whole pan by myself.

Blueberry Coffee Cake
adapted from Meals For You

½ cup brown sugar
½ cup butter plus 1 tbsp (divided)
    (½ cup chilled and cubed, 1 tbsp melted)
2 tsp cinnamon (divided)
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1½ tsp grated lemon peel
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1½ cups blueberries

Every year my mom and I buy a big box of frozen blueberries from Oregon. They really are so good.

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease 8x8 (or 9x9) pan.
2. In a small bowl, mix ½ cup brown sugar and 1½ tsp cinnamon with 1 tbsp melted butter for coffee cake topping.
3. Pulse flour,  sugar, baking powder, and ½ tsp cinnamon in food processor. Add chilled butter cubes and pulse until mixture resembles cornmeal.
4. Whisk together buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and lemon peel and add slowly to the dry mixture until just combined.
5. Fold in blueberries and pour into greased pan.
6. Sprinkle topping generously over cake batter.
7. Bake for 60-65 minutes or until toothpick/fork comes out clean.

Before the oven:

Before devoured:

The top was deliciously crispy but the insides soft and moist.


Every weekend, Beth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking.  "Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs."  Hope you'll join the fun!

On the Blog:
One Year Ago - Thoughts on Slowing Down
Two Years Ago - Good Things - New Car Edition
Three Years Ago - New Moon by Stephanie Meyer (self-interview)
Four Years Ago - The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Things in 2012 - Quarter 1 Update

Guys. I keep forgetting that 2012 is alreay a quarter of the way over. And after this month it will be a third of the way over. Every year the time goes faster and faster and I'm starting to get panicky over just how quickly time goes. But...that's not what this post is about. And I don't want to send any of you (or myself) into a spiral of time-depression.

Instead of a depressing post about the shortness of time, I want to write an update on my "Things to Do in 2012." Mostly to keep myself accountable but also because I feel chatty. And in case you're wondering, I do have a very colorful list of my Things to Do in 2012 in my handy notebook (similar to my Bloggiesta list). Because colored pens make me ridiculously happy.

The Book Things
--Read 24 Books: So far I read four books this year and listened to seven. That makes eleven. 46% isn't half bad for it only being April. Nice.
--Find a Face to Face book club. I sparked a revival with my work club. We'll see how long it lasts for. My local indie also has a book club once a month but I don't know that they've actually gotten off the ground yet. Would love to get involved/help with it but not sure about the time committment.
--Read The Stand. I'm scared. Hold my hand? Thinking about proposing a readalong. Interested? When's good for you?

The Quilting/Sewing Things
--Finsh that damn quilt for Scott. No progress. Sad face.
--Finish my Christmas Quilt. Same as above. Double sad face.
But, I did take a Free Motion Quilting class and loved it! I also finished all of my Virtual Quilting Bee blocks. And I kind of sort of started another project but then my mom made me feel guilty about not working on Scott's quilt. progress anywhere.

The Food Things
--Use My Kitchen Appliances. So far success! I've completed Operation Crockpot and am working through Operation Food Processor. Which appliance/gadget do you think I should feature next?
--Twelve New Recipes. I've lost count. By the time the year is over I think I'll have completed this thing many times over.
--One Dessert a Month. I don't think I made anything in February but I got two desserts in January and one in March. It all evens out, right?

The Bloggy Things
--Continue to blog about all topics. Done and done.
--Try to get back to writing more about the books I finish. Do have written drafts of book posts count?!

Miscellaneous Things
--Run 5K Race. Done!!! It was chaotic and I don't have a final time, but I finished between 35 and 40 minutes. Not bad. Not great. But, glad it's done and I'm contemplating signing up for another.
--Attend four cultural events. 1 down! Dracula Ballet. Unfortunately after the Dracula Ballet I've been having a tough time convincing Scott to attend another event with me. Boo.
--Continue to work on my photography. Yup, until I can quantify this one, it's just me taking pictures. But I am using my manual settings more and more.
--Make Something from Pinterest. Yup! A few things--I made a hairbow frame (link to pin) for Elle and the Chocolately Trifle.  I've been thinking about doing a Pinterest challenge--is that something you'd be interested in? Basically a challenge to get you actually utilizing the pins you create.

Overall I'd say doing pretty well.  How are your 2012 "things" going?

On the Blog:
One Year Ago - Thoughts on Slowing Down
Two Years Ago - Good Things - New Car Edition
Three Years Ago - Sunday Salon 3 - Why I Love Readathons
Four Years Ago - The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

Title: Cloud Atlas
Author: David Mitchell
Published: 2004  Pages: 508
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

In Short: Maybe I should tell you guys what I knew about the book going into it: Nothing. :) You love me.

Why I Read Cloud Atlas: I picked this book up a few years ago at Half Price Books. I don't remember why but I was looking for it specifically. Maybe it's on the 1001 Books You Must Read list (yup, it is)? Or maybe someone raved about it? Anyway, I read it because Melissa and Care were doing a readalong and figured I might not read it otherwise.

Thoughts in General: When I told you above that I knew nothing about this book before starting it, that isn't an exaggeration. I kind of like going into books that way, but it makes writing down my thoughts on books difficult because I don't want to give away more than I need to and with this book I think that's impossible. So, if you don't want to know very much about this book, just move along and tell me what color makes you happiest if you feel compelled to leave a comment. ;)

Cloud Atlas comprises of six different stories set in wildly different time periods, locations, and circumstances. Some of the sections are narrated in epistolary format, some through interviews, some first and third person. And while each story nestles in some way into the next, the relationship between each is rather mysterious. Thus, the first half of the book was incredibly intriguing. The second half, however, did absolutely nothing for me and I got to the point where I simply did not care and could have set down the book without finishing and without batting an eye. Cringe.

The Good: David Mitchell flexes his literary muscles in the writing of Cloud Atlas. Each section is written in such a completely different style from the previous one and it worked. His language was authentic, his styles were convincing, and for such short periods of time spent on each character I thought that the stories and characters were all very well-drawn. The writing was lyrical and descriptive and sweeping--this book has all the makings to become one of my favorites.

Perhaps my downfall was the very middle of the book and the most difficult section. I've heard many people mention that they are intimidated by this book because they've heard it's hard (yes, I was one of those folks), but I don't think this book is necessarily difficult with the exception of that one chapter. Part of me wonders if we had completed the middle section during the first half of the readalong if I would have had a better feeling towards this book by the end, but I struggled and struggled and took about a week to read "Sloosha." After that I had forgotten a lot of what I had already read and then I started to worry that things would not come together as I had hoped and then...

Bottom Line: I'm eager to hop around to the other posts of the Cloud Altas Readalong to see where the other participants landed with their final thoughts. The last two pages held a lot of great meat, but that meat would have been much more satisfying had it come earlier in the book. I wish I liked this one better but I just can't get over the overwhelming feeling of "what is the point." I did get the point of the book and maybe it's one that I'll re-read again and appreciate more? But in the end it wasn't what I was hoping for. Good news for you is that I'm pretty sure that I'm in the minority.

What's a book you read that you had such high hopes for but ended up falling flat?

On the Blog:
One Year Ago - Sunday Salon 42: Readathon End of Event
Two Years Ago - Classics and Non-Fiction Five Challenges
Three Years Ago - The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Four Years Ago - A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
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