Sunday, December 30, 2012

Best of Reading for 2012

Hi. I've missed you. I hope you had a lovely holiday and have a happy New Year.


Going into 2012, I had three bookish things that I wanted to accomplish this year. I'm thrilled to say that I've successfully completed (and exceeded) those three things!  "What things?" you ask. Read/listen to 24 books, Read The Stand, and find a book club. I read/listened to 37 books, finished The Stand and then read IT (and will read at least two more King books in 2013), and revived my work book club and joined my indie bookstore book club.


Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner has offered up the 3rd Annual End of the Year Book Survey. And I answered her questions. Mostly so Bryan aka Unfinished Person can stop nagging me about my lack of blogging lately.

Best of Reading for 2012!
(links to posts are down below...where available)

1. Best Book You Read In 2012?

Fiction: IT by Stephen King - Perhaps it was the experience of the #italong or the fantastic narration. I don't know--I'm as shocked as you are.

NonFiction: The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn - I recommend this one to anyone who wants to gain a bit more confidence in the kitchen.

2. Book You Were Excited About and Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn't?

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell - Stupid Sloosha.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012?

IT by Stephen King

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Particularly the audiobook production narrated by Wil Wheaton.

5. Best series you discovered in 2012?

The only series I started in 2012 was Fifty Shades of Grey. Since I never bothered to read Fifty Shades Darker, I can't say it's the best. But you know I don't have a great track record with series. Yup—STILL halfway through Mockingjay!

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?

OMG Stephen King! I'll be reading 11/22/63 and The Shining in January and February and then probably another later in the year. Who would have guessed…

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

Ok, seriously—is Stevie going to be the answer to all my questions?

8.  Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It's been way too long since I stayed up past my bedtime to read (well, except for Fifty Shades).

9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:

Re-read? Who has time for that?!  Ok, I have found I like to re-read books via audio, but I don't have any plans to re-experience 2012 books in 2013 unless I need to for book club.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?

Affinity by Sarah Waters. I think it captures the atmosphere of the book perfectly.

11. Most memorable character in 2012?

You think I'm going to say Pennywise, huh? No, I'm going to go with Stu Redman from The Stand. But bottom line is King draws some pretty fantastic characters.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?

Wild by Cheryl Strayed.

“Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren’t a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was. The radical aloneness of the PCT had altered that sense. Alone wasn’t a room anymore, but the whole wide world, and now I was alone in that work, occupying it in a way I never had before. Living at large like this, without even a roof over my head, made the world feel both bigger and smaller to me. Until now, I hadn’t truly understood the world’s vastness—hadn’t even understood how vast a mile could be—until each mile was beheld at walking speed” (119).

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012?

I'm sorry--can you repeat the question?

14. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read?

The Stand by Stephen King. I've been wanting to read that bad boy for years! So much so that it was the ONE book on my To Read list for 2012.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012?

“I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you’” [153].

16.Shortest and Longest Book You Read In 2012?

Shortest: The End of the Alphabet.  Or maybe A Christmas Carol but I'm not sure since I read the e-version.

Longest: The Stand clocking in at 1152 pages and 48 hours.

17.   Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

I totally couldn't wait to see if my mom and sisters held their knives the way Kathleen Flynn explained in The Kitchen Counter Cooking School! State of Wonder by Ann Patchett had some surprises for sure. And I had a great time talking about The Stand and IT during the various readalongs.

18.   Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

Ambrose and Zipper from The End of the Alphabet. Though I'm not gonna lie—we still talk about Love in the Time of Cholera at every book club meeting and whether Florentino and Fermina loved each other!

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously

Honestly if I answered this question it would be totally made up. I read a lot of books from authors I've already read but I can't call any of them my favorite. Maybe State of Wonder by Ann Patchett but maybe not.

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else: 

It's a toss up between The Night Circus recommended by (ahem) everybody and the Colin Firth narration of The End of the Affair recommended by JoAnn.

And then looking forward...

1. One Book You Didn't Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?

Ya, it's not Mockingjay. First up will be 11/22/63, then The Shining, and Vanity Fair, and then...?! Love a fresh start.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?

I'm excited for The Shining! (wonders what happened to scaredy-pants Trish). I also have a book in mind for my "2013 Things" but will talk more about that later this week.

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2013?

Um, read. And blog. Would be nice to blog about every book I read/listen to in 2013, know...

So what did I read in 2012?  (links lead to posts and stars denote I highly recommend)

1. Affinity - Sarah Waters (paper)*
2. What is the What - Dave Eggers (audio)
3. Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag - Alan Bradley (audio - 2nd time)
4. Bossypants - Tiny Fey (audio)*
5. Any Minute - Joyce Meyer (audio)
6. Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabrial Garcia Marquez (paper)
7. The End of the Alphabet - CS Richardson (paper)*
8. In the Garden of Beasts - Erik Larson (audio)
9. Sex Lives of Cannibals - J. Maarten Troost (audio)
10. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell (paper)
11. Kitchen Counter Cooking School - Kathleen Flynn (paper)*
12. The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern (paper)*
13. State of Wonder - Ann Patchett (audio)*
14. Casino Royale - Ian Fleming (audio)
15. The Homecoming of Samuel Lake - Jenny Wingfield (audio)*
16. Wild - Cheryl Strayed (paper)*
17. The Fault in Our Stars - John Green (paper)
18. The Future of Us - Jay Asher (audio)
19. Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand (audio - 2nd listen)*
20. Ready Player One - Ernest Cline (audio and paper - 2nd listen)*
21. The Language of Flowers - Vanessa Diffenbaugh (ebook)
22. The Stand - Stephen King (audio and paper)*
23. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot (audio - 2nd listen)*
24. North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell (audio and ebook)
25. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins (paper)
26. Fifty Shades of Grey - E.L. James (ebook)
27. The Icarus Girl - Helen Oyeyemi (paper)
28. Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn (paper)\
29. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury (audio)
30. IT - Stephen King (paper and audio)*
31. The Secret History (paper and audio)
32. The End of the Affair - Graham Greene (audio)*
33. Red Dragon - Thomas Harris (paper)
34. The Art Forger (paper)
35. Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk (paper)
36. I'm Down - Mishna Wolff (paper)
37. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (ebook and audio)*

Linky linky - In case you're wondering about my 2011 Reading Year (or my pretend 2011 reading year) or even my 2010 Reading Year.

How was YOUR 2012 reading year? I'd love to hear what your favorite book of the year was.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

Title: A Christmas Carol
Author: Charles Dickens
Narrator: Tim Curry
Published: 1843 Pages: ? like 100 clicks on e-reader
Audio Duration: 3 hours; 33 min.
Genre: Classic, Fiction

So remember two weeks ago when I told you about my Holiday Reading Escape? In which I would drink lovely hot cocoa whilst reading A Christmas Carol? Well, I finished half of that reading escape! And I'm not sure I'd entirely call it an escape because parts were listened to in my car while driving to and from work. But I did read much of it on the kindle (mostly in bed, once on the exercise bike), and it was lovely.

What's even better is that there is a readalong of A Christmas Carol happening today over at Beauty is a Sleeping Cat and Postcards from Asia! Me likey. I'm short on time and posting this at lunch rather than my normal scheduled midnight time, so I'm using the prompts Caroline and Delia provided us. Mostly.

A Christmas Carol In Short: Ebeneezer Scrooge is visited by three spirits--one to show him his past, one the present, and one the future.

Is this the first time you are reading the story?
In full, yes. I've read the dramatized one several times--enough that I actually thought that this book was originally dramatized. So sad, huh? I have seen enough movie versions and plays that I am quite familiar with the story.

Did you like it?
I did like it and I can see myself reading it again and again! My only complaint is that I felt it ended too abruptly. I don't want to play the cynic at Christmas time, but can Scrooge really do a complete 180 after one night of spiritual visitors? I guess since it's Christmas we'll pretend he can.

Which was your most memorable scene? (replaces favorite and least favorite original questions)
The scene that struck me the most was when two children peered out from underneath the Ghost of Christmas Present's robes. They were Ignorance and Want and the Ghost warned of the prevalence of these. Isn't it amazing how this still rings true 169 years after Dickens originally published the story? Dickens tells us "Beware of them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware of this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is ‘Doom,’ unless the writing be erased."

Which spirit and his stories did you find the most interesting?
All of the stories are interesting--We forget how much our actions and words affect other people, or at least I know I do. In this story we see how the past shapes the present which shapes the future and while hindsight can be 20/20, it's difficult to foresee how what we do now or what we have done will pave the way for tomorrow.

How did you like the end? Did you think it was believable?
I've already discussed this above. It's a nice and cheery ending with a lot of hope. I don't think it's necessarily believable but it's nice to believe it's believable, huh?

Do you know anyone like Scrooge? Did Scrooge deserve to be saved?
I think it's easy to fall into patterns of short-sightedness like Scrooge is prone to. Luckily I don't know anyone exactly like Scrooge, but I certainly think we can all try a little harder to open our hearts and eyes. In terms of whether I think that Scrooge deserved to be saved--yes, I believe that everyone deserves to be saved as long as they will continue to uphold their end of the bargain. Or perhaps the hard work should come before the saving. Certainly I don't want to get into preaching as I don't believe in literal soul saving, but I firmly believe that we choose our own paths.

Bottom Line: A Christmas Carol is a timeless tale that is too short not to read. I think I'll make this a holiday tradition as the message is truly timeless.

A Note on the Audio: I got all excited when I saw that Tim Curry was the narrator for the Audible edition of A Christmas Carol. But I ended up having mixed feelings--at times his voice inflections for the characters were spot on and perfect--but at others it was too caricaturized and I found it distracting. Eh. Listen to a sample if you're interested. I bought this via an Audible sale and I'd listen again but wish that I hadn't jumped too quickly.

Have you read A Christmas Carol?  Or seen an adaptation? What is the most memorable part of the story for you?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Joy of Discovery

Several weeks ago Kelly from Cobwebs, Cupcakes, and Crayons asked if I would partake in a hop she puts together each month called Collectively Creative. When she told me that the topic was Joy, I thought and thought and thought about what to write about. I think that I might have missed the boat as my post isn't a creative craft or idea for around the house--rather I took the theme of Joy as something we find in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of the season.

The Discovery of Joy During the Holidays

Elle will be 20 months on Christmas day so this technically isn’t her first holiday season but in many ways it feels like it is. The sounds are new, the sights are new, the tastes are new—everything is new and exciting for her.  Last year she was 8 months and just didn't quite get it...

As an adult who has been through the holiday season over 30 times already, I sometimes feel bogged down in the heaviness of the errands and shopping and general madness. I forget to stop and enjoy the delights all around me. Having a toddler in the house has helped me open up my own eyes as I am constantly showing her the wonders all around. WHOA a snowflake! WHOA a cookie! WHOA the Christmas lights! I know, right? It's SO EXCITING!! (You can hear me saying this, huh?)

The joy of discovery is one of my favorite parts of being a parent. I being to see things differently because I am introducing them to a new set of eyes. Think about if you've ever had someone come and visit your hometown and you play tour guide. You see all sorts of things that you probably hadn't paid attention to before. It's amazing the little details we miss when we aren't really looking.

Everything seems to have new meaning when you are introducing it to a new set of eyes. Or ears. Silent Night and Away in a Manger make wonderful lullabies when I am rocking Elle before bed. And you know what? Singing those hymns has made me think and hear about the words I am singing outloud.

And sure, discovery can also be exhausting--there is a lot of "be gentle" and "don't touch that" uttered at our house (I won't mention the bag of flour that got dropped in the pantry yesterday while we were making dinner...), but the gasps and squeals of delight are worth every bit of it.

Even if you don't have young kids or even if you aren't a parent. Even if you don't think that you have time or are feeling rushed...

I urge you to take a few minutes today and stop and look around.

Look the Salvation Army guy in the eyes as you walk into the store (he doesn't care if you don't give him any money...) and feel the JOY when he says Merry Christmas back to you with a smile.

Look at the lights and squint and see them shine in all their glory.

Listen to your favorite Christmas song and savor a cuppa tea or cocoa.

Take it in. Take it in like you are discovering all of the sights and the sounds and smells like you have never experienced them before. Let the worry and the stress go for five minutes and let your heart fill with JOY.

It's wondrous.

I know the first picture and the last picture are blurry--that's what happens when you refuse a flash in low-light. But you can see the joy can't you?

So--I apologize for not having a craft to share with you--but I sincerely hope that you will discover some joy in your day today.

I'm honored that Kelly included me amongst such wonderful and crafty bloggers. Please check out their posts on Joy today:

Framing Christmas PJs - (Cobwebs, Cupcakes & Crayons)
J-O-Y to the World - (Pillows A-La-Mode)
How To Display Christmas Cards - (Organized Living Essentials)
Adding Joy to Every Room - (Neaten Your Nest)
DIY Gift Bows (Upcycled Toilet Paper Rolls) - (Inspire and Indulge)
How to trim a Christmas tree: ornaments, Lego trains and whipped cream - (The Thing About Joan)
Joy Advent Calendar (And Giveaway!) - (Cul de Sac)
Joy To The Cookies: Having an Annual Holiday Cookie Baking Party - (Green Door Hospitality)
The Spirit Of Christmas - (A Ponytail Kind Of Day)
DIY Themed Mini Christmas Trees (This One's for My Husband!) - (Mrs. And The Misc.)
Wrapped In Christmas Lights (Happy Little Kiwi)
Sharing Joy - (Gentle Stitches)

How do you find joy or what brings you joy during the holiday season?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Christmas Village - 2012 Virtual Advent Tour

Three years ago I participated in my first Virtual Advent Tour. Virtual Advent is put together every December by Marg and Kelly as a way to spread the holiday cheer from around the world. Handfuls of bloggers participate every year and share their holiday traditions, recipes, memories, stories, and more. Definitely make sure you visit the Virtual Advent site for all of the goodness.

The very first year I participated, I showed you my and Scott’s dueling Christmas villages. If you haven’t been following since then the short story is I wanted Scott to share my new hobby and his response was that he would start his own village and make his better. Both are Department 56—his Christmas in the City and mine New England.

After three years I have finally conceded defeat and his Christmas in the City has taken over. The honest truth is that I love some of my pieces dearly (and so I’ve incorporated them into the display), but his are just down right cool. But the best part is that we can find a little bit of ourselves in all of the pieces—from a bookstore, candy shoppe, and bakery for me (and who am I kidding—Radio City Music Hall) to the Harley Davidson and Cadillac dealerships and Coke buildings for Scott.

I'll let the pictures do most of the talking. I couldn't get the entire village in one shot because I used my 50mm prime lens but you get the idea...   And yes, it's the same platform as my Halloween Village.

 Three on the right are not Christmas in the City...but do you blame me? Adore!

 Also part of the New England Series. I'm still trying to figure out how to fit in my lighthouse!

It's a pop-up book!!

My other past advents:
2010 - Annual Bake Day - Goodness Overload
2011 - Christmas Quilt - New Traditions

Life has been busy the past couple of weeks (I do want you to know that I have completed my Christmas shopping...and I've started A Christmas Carol), but if I can get things together it will be like Christmas threw up on the blog. I got lotsa ideas--just need the few minutes to post em.  :)  Happy Holidays!!!

Do you have any Christmas Decorations that you treasure?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Recent Food and Craft Projects - #PinitDoit

Today is the 15th which means that we're a month into the Holiday edition of Pin it and Do it (and please note that your pins do not have to be holiday related!). As such, I thought I'd also give a little progress update on what I've been up to Pinterest-wise.

I started off really strongly the last couple of weeks in November and then I went to bed one night and woke up and realized that IT'S THE 15TH OF DECEMBER. Nah—no freaking out here! Although I have been doing lots of things around the house—putting up the village (posts coming next week), creating a garland for my stairs, making wreaths for the front doors, and other miscellaneous holiday decorating that were not Pinspired.

I have lots of plans for Pinterest things in the next couple of weeks, but so far I've completed three food pins and two crafty pins.

First up—Banana muffins. I have a freezer full of bananas that went brown before we could eat them, so I've slowly been cooking them up into bread. I wondered if Elle might like little banana muffins for her breakfast instead of pancake or waffles so I tried a recipe I found on (they are a no-(or rarely) fail site for me).  Verdict? Delicious. And they froze beautifully. Nom nom nom. Original Pin. Original Source.

Second – Roasted Chicken in a Bundt Pan. I'll talk more about this when I wrap up my Operation Bundt Pan (which I have not forgotten about thankyouverymuch). A recipe I pinned from The results were gorgeous and the taste was delicious. I might add a bit more spice rub next time, but otherwise it was yum. I shredded most of the chicken to stick in the freezer for another day. Bottom Line: so easy and clean-up was even easier. Original Pin. Original Source.

Third – Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes. This one from Annie's Eats. I botched this one up because I was making this for a big crowd at Thanksgiving so used many more potatoes than she did and then just winged the rest of the measurements. I love the addition of the bacon and the garlic powder but the results were a bit dry. I added some more milk when I reheated and it was much better. Scott was not a fan—mostly because I didn't use as much butter as he would have liked. Original Pin. Original Source.  (not my picture below)

And now to the crafty stuff!! And I'm tempted to just post about my non-Pinterest items, pin them, and then count them towards the challenge. But that would be mega cheating, right?? Ha!

First – Hex Quilt Hand-Basting. Thanks to Lisa I've found my alternative to learning how to crochet or knit!  I love working with these little babies. I can do about 9-12 of them while watching an hour-long TV show and can even do them lying in bed or in the car. Now I just need a pin to tell me how to hand-sew them all together! Original Pin. Original Source.

Second – Silver spray-painted decorations. JoAnn brought this pin to my attention. The original pin has "looking glass" or "mirror" spray-paint, but I couldn't find so just went with Chrome. I thought about spray painting fake fruit but didn't want to pay that much and found these cinnamon scented pine cones at the grocery store. Win Win. Now what else can I spray paint? Original Pin. Original Source.

I still have several plans for the rest of the month including scrapbook paper gift cards, crockpot apple sauce, and maybe some photography tips, but we'll see. ;)

Have you used Pinterest for anything lately?

If you create something from Pinterest this month and create a post about it, please link up at the Pin it and Do it link-up post! Join the fun!

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!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Where in the World? Holiday Reading Escape

This month's Where in the World Are You Reading theme is Holiday Reading Escape. You see, Kelly, Lisa, and I brainstormed these topics months ago and I kind of think that Lisa was living in a romantic fantasy lala-land when she picked Reading Escape for this month's theme. (I can say this because she knows that I dearly love her). I don't know about you, but I just realized that today is the 13th, I haven't done a stitch of holiday shopping (by not a stitch I literally mean none), I've barely gotten the house decorated, and I haven't baked one damn cookie yet.

Tis the Season!

I'm afraid it's not going to get any better either. Office party is today, Christmas shopping must happen on Saturday (or else), Sunday is our Annual Bake Day, next week my sister comes home!, and then it's Christmas. You know, with a few days sprinkled in here and there. But if I have free time lying around, it's going to working off all the goodies I've been eating at work.  Doesn't sound very relaxing, huh?

I was lamenting the fact that I didn't have any material for this post considering I probably won't allow myself any time for a Holiday Reading Escape when I received an email from Audible with the daily deals—Christmas books! And what was included? A Christmas Carol narrated by Tim Curry! The audio is only three plus hours and I was able to find an illustrated copy of the book for my Kindle (it's just the free version from Amazon).

Edited: Beth of Too Fond drew my attention to Dickens in December--including a readalong of A Christmas Carol. You should check it out, too!!

Why yes the village is up! I'll give you full view next Tuesday for Advent.

And now I have plans for what to read for my Holiday Reading Escape. The location will probably be my bedroom in the evenings and now I just need to work on the beverage. I'm thinking this Junior Mint Hot Chocolate. Doesn't that look to die for?

Who wants to give me three hours for my Holiday Reading Escape?

Lisa asks: "what does your Christmas Reading Escape look like? Do you enjoy Christmas themed books? Are you already sick of the Christmas spirit? (If you are, you probably haven't read this far down this post!)  Do you enjoy a nice glass of spiked egg nog with your books? Post about it, and then link up!"

Please tell me you've got some holiday reading planned? And note that you do not have to read anything holiday related this month for the meme! Think of it more about escaping the insanity of the holidays to get a little quiet reading in. Sounds nice, doesn't it??

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bedtime is my Favorite

Hold on...I don't think this post is going where you think it will.

You've met my daughter. You know that she is one spunky kid who goes and goes and goes and goes. And then goes some more. For better or for worse I give her full reign as long as she's not being destructive. So yesterday I was cleaning up the living room (which is the catch-all room where I have the computer, my books, and files) and as I was putting away papers she was emptying my desk drawers. All of them.

I don't even bother keeping the pantry organized anymore.

And if I turn around for two seconds I'm likely to find something like this:

And while this particular picture is in focus, about 90% of the pictures I take (aka the ones you don't see) are ones of Elle running away from me or in complete blur from the Non.Stop.Motion.

I have lots of favorite times with Elle. I love when she gets really silly and we both just die of laughter. The past month has been an absolute blast and I'm loving this stage with her. There is constant discovery and constant activity, but the key word is constant.

At bedtime, though, for a few minutes, everything stops. And this is why bedtime is my favorite. Elle isn't a snuggler or a cuddler and refuses hugs and kisses and the general smothering that I'm apt to do. But at bedtime all bets are off and I can count on this to be the moment of the day when I can love on the babe as much as I'd like. 

Last night I held my friend's newborn babe for the better part of an hour and the baby so peacefully slept in my arms. I couldn't help think of my little monkey who earlier in the day had left the house in tornado condition. I arrived home just in time for bedtime and we got silly for several months but then I scooped her up, turned off the lights, headed to the glider and just rocked away. Bedtime is MY time with Elle.  It's not always quiet (in fact last week Elle literally asked me for more tickles while we were rocking and that became my favorite moment in the history of favorite moments), but bedtime is still my time and sometimes I have to force myself to get off that glider and put her into her crib. 

It's been an impossibly long time since Elle has actually fallen asleep in my arms (above at two weeks), but I'll cherish those bedtime moments for as long as she allows me to have them. I'm hoping they'll last for a long time to come.

What's your favorite part of the day?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Songs I'm Loving Right Now

If I told you that my music listening was totally driven by mood you'd probably tell me "duh" huh? That's what I thought...ok, moving on.  I can't really put my finger on what my music listening mood has been lately (well, except for this week when I'm listening to Christmas almost all the've seen my favorite Christmas songs and Christmas albums right?), but Scott calls it hippie music. I guess I'd just call it happy music.

First up is Ho Hey by The Lumineers. Kind of remind me a bit of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros or possibly even Of Monsters and Men. I adore the sweetness of this song and the video is pretty sweet as well.

Next is I and Love and You by Avett Brothers. I found them shortly after I had Elle. I don't remember how but once I hooked on to them I realized that a) I was saying their name wrong and b) they've been around for quite some time. Soft and soulful.

By now I'm guessing many of you have heard Send Me On My Way by Rusted Root. It's old news but oh it makes me so freaking happy. It's one of those sunny weather roll the windows down and belt it out songs. I mean seriously. I can't listen to it and not smile.

Alabama Shakes - Hold On. The band I love so much that I HAD to buy their entire CD. And every song is fantastic and the variety is wonderful. Not hippie--just watch Brittany wail. Plus they always makes me think of Lu and Lu makes me smile. "Bless my heart. Bless My soul."

And finally Mumford and Sons. A band that you can't help but see everywhere. Have you been bitten by their bug yet? I adored their first album (which Scott actually loves as well) but their follow-up Babel? It's everything that Sigh No More was and more.

I Will Wait by Mumford and Sons

Interested in seeing some other songs I adore? I did a post earlier this year featuring some favorites.

So what songs have you been loving lately?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I'm Down with The Language of Flowers

You know, I've been pretty good about writing up posts for the books I've read this year. Ok, now that I typed that I counted in my head and realize that's a lie. There are about six books I haven't written about and since I've only read 20ish, the percentage isn't so great. It's even worse when you factor in audiobooks, which I find very difficult to write about. Boo. I felt great when I started to type this paragraph! This is what I get for typing before thinking. I wonder if I have any ice cream in my freezer.

I've given up the idea of writing about the audiobooks I've listened to and I probably won't write about Catching Fire until I finally finish Mockingjay. I would like to write about Fifty Shades of Grey but it's already starting to get foggy. That leaves I'm Down, The Language of Flowers, and Fight Club. Fight Club deserves it's own post. The other  Oh and the sixth? Ready Player One as a re-read but I've already posted about it once.

Title: I'm Down
Author: Mishna Wolff
Published: 2009 Pages: 272
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 3/5

In Short: "Mishna Wolff grew up in a poor black neighborhood with her single father, a white man who truly believed he was black." (from the cover)

Why I read: For a Real Bookstore bookclub. Suggested as a lighthearted read. Bahahaha.

Thoughts In Brief: Ok, to be completely fair I found this book easy to consume and was interested enough to read it rather quickly. But it was compelling in the way that a car accident is--you want to see what happened but you really shouldn't be looking and then you feel bad about looking. However, this book isn't lighthearted and it isn't funny. It's sad and I often got mad at Mishna for that way that she acted or the way that she talks about her family or mad at her family for their failure to understand Mishna and her differences.

Bottom line: Don't let the cover fool you—this book is not terribly funny and the message of the book was confused and unclear. This book lot of promise with very little delivery.

Title: The Language of Flowers
Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Published: 2011 Pages: 322
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

In Short: Victoria has been in foster care her whole life but after she turns eighteen she must create a life for her own. She falls back upon her knowledge of flowers and realizes that they are the key to making amends with her past and forging her way into the future.

Why I read: For a Real Bookstore bookclub. :)

Thoughts In Brief: Beautiful and lyrical writing, interesting secondary characters, complex main character who develops throughout the novel. My favorite thing about the book was the romantic inclusion of the language of flowers--using floral and fauna to help convey a message--I loved this.

Bottom line: Overall an enjoyable book that I believe has widespread appeal. I love many things about the book--especially the present and past narrations--but I was also bothered by the main character's lack of strength and some of the choices she made.

Bottom Bottom Line? If you're going to read one of the two read The Language of Flowers. I'll bet you like but it does have an Oprah's Book Club feel to it (which I have nothing against...I've had good luck with her picks). Skip I'm Down completely.

Have you read either of these books? What did you think?

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