Friday, November 29, 2013

BOOLEAN: Friday Fashion Find - Recovery

I'm not a fan of Black Friday. I prefer to laze around the Friday after Thanksgiving. Normally, I need a whole day to recover from my food coma and over-indulgence in football. These tights look like they would be pretty comfortable recovery clothes.

You can snag a pair on Urban Outfitters.

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Variations on a Theme: Thank You

I enjoy that once a year, we gather together and give thanks to those we love. While I, like most people, are all about the food at Thanksgiving, I also love how a aura of gratitude settles over the country at this time. I'm a huge proponent of thank you notes. I think we should always recognize the efforts of others, particularly when they are doing something helpful for us.

This month's Variations on a Theme celebrates today. Let's give thanks - not just today, but everyday.

365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life
John Kralik

One recent December, at age 53, John Kralik found his life at a terrible, frightening low: his small law firm was failing; he was struggling through a painful second divorce; he had grown distant from his two older children and was afraid he might lose contact with his young daughter; he was living in a tiny apartment where he froze in the winter and baked in the summer; he was 40 pounds overweight; his girlfriend had just broken up with him; and overall, his dearest life dreams—including hopes of upholding idealistic legal principles and of becoming a judge—seemed to have slipped beyond his reach. Then, during a desperate walk in the hills on New Year's Day, John was struck by the belief that his life might become at least tolerable if, instead of focusing on what he didn't have, he could find some way to be grateful for what he had. Inspired by a beautiful, simple note his ex-girlfriend had sent to thank him for his Christmas gift, John imagined that he might find a way to feel grateful by writing thank-you notes. To keep himself going, he set himself a goal—come what may—of writing 365 thank-you notes in the coming year. [My Review]

Leah Dietrich

We could all use a little more thankfulness in our lives, but Leah Dieterich’s collection of 200 handwritten letters of daily gratitude for all the things in life she appreciates are witty and thought provoking as well as inspirational. From the small, mundane, and odd to the cosmic and philosophically abstract, who could resist thoughts like: Dear Wine, You make my phone conversations with my mom longer and more open. So thank you for that. Or, Dear Half-Dead Plants on My Desk, Thank you for reminding me why I am really not ready for a pet of any kind. Keep it real. With accolades from New York Times best-selling author Gretchen Rubin and DailyCandy, Leah Dieterich's website inspires an aptly named giftbook, thxthxthx: Thank Goodness for Everything. After years of being encouraged (okay, nagged) by her Mother to write thank-you notes, Dieterich began writing one thank-you note a day to whatever thing, no matter how small or odd, she was thankful for. From important gestures, like a Partner's Understanding, to simple, soulful, and quirky things like Songs You're Embarrassed to Like, thxthxthx features 200 of Dieterich's original, handwritten thank-you notes that collectively convey the look and feel of handwritten notes from a close friend.

Robert Emmons

The first major study of gratitude that shows how “wanting what we have” can measurably change people’s lives. Did you know that there is a crucial component of happiness that is often overlooked? Robert Emmons—editor-in-chief of the Journal of Positive Psychology—examines what it means to think and feel gratefully in Thanks! and invites readers to learn how to put this powerful emotion into practice. Scientifically speaking, regular grateful thinking can increase happiness by as much as 25 percent, while keeping a gratitude journal for as little as three weeks results in better sleep and more energy. But there's more than science to embrace here: Emmons also bolsters the case for gratitude by weaving in writings of philosophers, novelists, and theologians that illustrate all the benefits grateful living brings. 

Azim Jamal and Harvey McKinnon

This practical and visionary guide helps you discover that the more you give, the more you have. Simple and easy to use, The Power of Giving provides a wealth of down-to-earth ideas, exercises, and real-life stories that reveal to each reader the unique gifts he or she has to give?including kindness, ideas, advice, attention, hope, and more and the many ways you can benefit from giving them, from better health to better job prospects.

June Eding

There are many people who contribute to our lives directly and indirectly, in small ways and in very large ways. Parents, friends, teachers, employers, co-workers, ministers, neighbors, strangers—the list goes on. Showing gratitude can be a simple small gesture to a stranger who opens a door, holds a train, helps change a flat tire, lends their phone, or shares a smile. Gratitude and thankful gestures can be small ripples that, when added together, become a tidal wave of good will. Whether a kindness or a courtesy goes unacknowledged for a day or a decade, there is no reason not to give thanks. There is no time limit on a thank you. It’s never too late to show your gratitude. Often we may be so preoccupied with our own concerns that we forget to say a simple "thank you," to someone, for whatever reason that may be. Thank You, a simple yet profound book, provides the perfect way to express your gratitude. Accessible for all ages, Thank You includes inspiring quotes on the importance of being thankful. Inside its pages, you will discover 101 ways to practice effortless gratitude — thoughtful ideas to share with those people who come into your world. Whether at work, home, or with friends….there is always a good reason to say “thank you.”

David Finkel

The wars of the past decade have been covered by brave and talented reporters, but none has reckoned with the psychology of these wars as intimately as the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Finkel. For The Good Soldiers, his bestselling account from the front lines of Baghdad, Finkel embedded with the men of the 2-16 Infantry Battalion during the infamous “surge,” a grueling fifteen-month tour that changed them all forever. In Finkel’s hands, readers can feel what these young men were experiencing, and his harrowing story instantly became a classic in the literature of modern war. In Thank You for Your Service, Finkel has done something even more extraordinary. Once again, he has embedded with some of the men of the 2-16—but this time he has done it at home, here in the States, after their deployments have ended. He is with them in their most intimate, painful, and hopeful moments as they try to recover, and in doing so, he creates an indelible, essential portrait of what life after war is like—not just for these soldiers, but for their wives, widows, children, and friends, and for the professionals who are truly trying, and to a great degree failing, to undo the damage that has been done.

Other Titles of Thanks
365 Ways to Live Happy - Meera Lester
Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World - Bill Clinton
Glad No Matter What - Susan Sark
Living in Gratitude - Angeles Arrien
Living Life As a Thank You - Nina Lesowitz et al.
Thank You Notes - Jimmy Fallon

Links and Stuff: November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Why I Love... Airport Bookstores

Tomorrow, I hop on a plane and head to Nashville for the Thanksgiving holiday. I don't like flying (not. one. bit.), but I do love people-watching at the airport bookstores.

Airport bookstores are fascinating because their stock of items is usually quite small. Most of these bookstores are heavy on the bestsellers, but they're usually a mix of fiction and non-fiction. Actually, I think the stock tends a bit toward non-fiction. It's as if people arrive at their gate and think, "If I'm stuck on this plane for a few hours, I might as well read something educational." Also, I'm always surprised by the number of books that are hardcovers. I guess, if you have an audience held captive behind security, you might as well sell them the expensive books.

When it comes to shopping, I've noticed that no two airport bookstore patrons are the same. Some people come in, grab the first book they see, pay, and leave. Other passengers take their time perusing each and every title. I've seen people skip the books and load up on more magazines than they can carry. There is one similarity I have noticed, most people choose thick books or select more than one piece of reading material. It's like we all want to prepare for the worst delay scenario; we wouldn't dare be caught without something to read if our flight fails to move.

I've always thought that people choose to read in airports and on the plane because it offers a long period of uninterrupted time. You're not going anywhere - might as well read. That's probably going to change now that planes have wifi. That said, I, for one, will always carry a dead tree book with me. It's portable, entertaining, and doesn't need to be charged.

YouTube Tuesday: Drone

Sunday, November 24, 2013

What I Read This Week: November 24, 2013

I had so many meetings this week that I forgot what day it was. Seriously, I tried to make it Thursday every day. Then I Thursday, I tried to make it Friday. Clearly I need this upcoming break.
  • Work
    • Lots of social media policies. Too many to count... and I'm not done yet. At least I love doing this kind of work.
  • Magazines
    • Cooking Light, November 2013 - I enjoyed the article about how to cook for a group. I'm also a big fan of all the holiday recipes. The most valuable article, however, was probably "7 Simple Ways to Become a Better Cook."
    • Martha Stewart Living, November 2013 - Flip. Flip. Flip. Decent article on Thanksgiving 101. Flip. Flip. Flip. Pretty images of the garden in fall. Flip. Flip. Flip. Done.
    • Real Simple, November 2013 - The piece on why you should have a good cry almost got me crying. The cheese plate suggestions did make me hungry. The party hosting tips are going to come into use because The Fiance and I are throwing and Apps and Zerts holiday party in December.
    • Food Network Magazine, November 2013 - The list of Thanksgiving tips was great (although some of the tips contradicted each other). I pulled a variety of recipes from this issue. I am a sucker for autumnal food. 
  • Books
    • I finished The Knot Book of Wedding Gowns. I'll give a full review later, but I did enjoy the history of the wedding dress as well as the structural breakdown of how they are made. Pretty cool. Also, none of the sample dresses in the book appealed to me. I guess that means I picked the right dress. Woot!
  • Other
    • Emily Asher-Perrin has written a spectacular article on why Neville Longbottom is the key, nay, the vital character in the Harry Potter series. You should read it.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Book 31: The Perfect Wedding Reception

TITLE: The Perfect Wedding Reception: Stylish Ideas for Every Season
AUTHOR: Maria McBride-Mellinger
STARTED: November 3, 2013
FINISHED: November 3, 2013
GENRE: Wedding

FIRST SENTENCE: After all these years, the details have blurred a bit.

SUMMARY: [From BN] The Perfect Wedding Reception features exquisite wedding celebrations designed by Maria McBride-Mellinger that capture the magic of each season in refreshing, contemporary style. The nuptial adventure begins in a formal spring garden but soon its off to a beach front for a fanciful summer wedding, to a revolutionary era stone barn for a rustic fall wedding and finally to a gracious country home for a candle lit winter wedding feast. Glorious photos of each location, flowers, menu selections, table details, centerpieces, bouquets, invitations, wedding cakes and favors tell the story of each wedding with helpful tips and most importantly McBride-Mellinger's favorite resources from around the country that will actually help bring your wedding reception to life. Whatever season you choose to marry Maria McBride-Mellinger offers delightful flourishes to tempt every couple as they plan the party of their lives and create memories meant to last a lifetime.

THOUGHTS: Lots of pretty pictures! None of them was all that helpful to me, but I did enjoy the variety of ideas the author put forth. I also enjoyed the few tips and tricks that were written amongst all the pretty pictures.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

BOOLEAN: Friday Fashion Find - Tapestry

Lady B and I were talking about how we love all the winter/holiday clothes that are hitting the stores. That got me thinking about shiny fabrics and fund designs. I decided to seek out brocade tights and this is what I found.

Sadly, these look sold out - but I found them on Nordstrom's website.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Book 30: The Luxe

TITLE: The Luxe
AUTHOR: Anna Godbersen
STARTED: October 12, 2013
FINISHED: October 15, 2013
PAGES: 435
GENRE: Young Adult

FIRST SENTENCE: On the morning of October 4, 1899, Elizabeth adorable holland - the eldest daughter of the late mr. Edward holland and his widow, Louisa gansevoort holland - passed I to the kingdom of heaven.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Beautiful sisters Elizabeth and Diana Holland rule Manhattan's social scene. Or so it appears. When the girls discover their status among New York City's elite is far from secure, suddenly everyone—from the backstabbing socialite Penelope Hayes, to the debonair bachelor Henry Schoonmaker, to the spiteful maid Lina Broud—threatens Elizabeth's and Diana's golden future.

With the fate of the Hollands resting on her shoulders, Elizabeth must choose between family duty and true love. But when her carriage overturns near the East River, the girl whose glittering life lit up the city's gossip pages is swallowed by the rough current. As all of New York grieves, some begin to wonder whether life at the top proved too much for this ethereal beauty, or if, perhaps, someone wanted to see Manhattan's most celebrated daughter disappear...

In a world of luxury and deception, where appearance matters above everything and breaking the social code means running the risk of being ostracized forever, five teenagers lead dangerously scandalous lives. This thrilling trip to the age of innocence is anything but innocent.

THOUGHTS: Think of a CW show. Pretty much any CW show. That's this book. It is Gossip Girl set in the the early 1900s. While I could see the entire plot developing a mile away, that did not stop me from loving each and every page. The story was well pace and vividly written. I had no trouble imaging each and every seen. I also enjoyed how all the characters reacted to one another. They felt alive. Overly emotional, but alive. Exactly like a CW show. The Luxe was the perfect read for me and I can't wait to get my hands on the rest of the books in this series.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

BOOLEAN: Release the Hounds!

Yesterday I busted out the houndstooth tights. I thought they looked pretty snazzy with my plaid coat.

Mixed patterns for the win!

Links and Stuff: November 21, 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What I Read This Week: November 17, 2013

Last weekend, The Fiance and I gallivatned through Virginia wine country. We had a lovely trip and brought back many a bottle of vino. I look forward to popping the cork on a few of those while kicking back with a good book.

Since I was out of the office for a few days, I played catch-up all week. Color me pleasantly surprised that I was able to get any recreational reading done.
  • Work
    • I flipped through the November/December 2013 issue of American Libraries. I enjoyed the article about library outreach to fantasy football players... too bad I am losing horribly in both my leagues. More seriously, I think there should be more serious discussion about the article on teaching kids to navigate the news.
  • Magazines
    • Cooking Light, October 2013 - I enjoyed the piece on portion size because I make the same mistakes most people do. I found the favorite recipes spread to be yummy looking, but I only pulled one dish to try. The taste test awards were also amusing.
  • Books
    • I put a sizable dent in Joy for Beginners after ignoring it for a week. It's a great book. That's not a surprise to me given that I've loved everything Erica Bauermesiter has written.

Friday, November 15, 2013

BOOLEAN: Friday Fashion Find - Cranberry

Thanksgiving is soon. Bring on the noms! I decided this weeks tights needed to remind me of my favorite Thanksgiving condiment. Can you guess what it is?

You can grab there guys here.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Why I Love... Book Drops

Way back when, I was in charge of emptying our library's book drop. Most of the time it was just a daily, stress-free task. During finals week it turned into an epic battle to keep up with the massive volume of returns. My relationship with the bins was one of love and hate. Now that I am no longer in charge of emptying the book drops, I have developed a quirky love for them.

I can't explain, but I love the feeling of dropping a book in a bin or down a slot, returning it to it's home. Maybe it goes along with that sense of community that library books have. I return a book so that someone else can borrow it.

My love might also be occuring becuase I hope the librarian emptying the bin is amused by what titles they find. I know I loved discovering new books that way.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Book 29: McGuire's Irish Pub Cookbook

TITLE: McGuire's Irish Pub Cookbook
AUTHOR: Jessie Tirsch
STARTED: October 12, 2013
FINISHED: October 12, 2013
PAGES: 277
GENRE: Cookbook

FIRST SENTENCE: My wife, Molly, and I opened McGuire's Irish Pub in Pensacola, Florida in May of 1977.

SUMMARY: [From Amazon] At McGuire's Irish Pub the mood is nothing if not fun. McGuire's boasts its own award-winning wine cellar and microbrewery in addition to its many specialty drinks A replica of a grand, turn-of-the-century saloon, McGuire's boasts more than 150,000 dollar bills, all donated by patrons, that cover its walls and ceilings. Giant moose heads adorn several walls, and visitors are encouraged to"kiss the moose" to celebrate special occasions, including first visits to the pub. Live Irish music enhances the dining experience. The real draw is the food. As anyone lucky enough to have dined at McGuire's will tell you, the food deserves to be served on a silver platter-or at least eaten with a golden spoon. For five consecutive years, the Pensacola pub has earned the coveted Golden Spoon Award, which denotes it as one of Florida's top restaurants. Another wonderful indication of the quality of the food is the neon signhanging in the kitchen. It simply reads Don't Serve It If You're Not Proud Of It. Now, you may proudly serve this award-winning cuisine, from the traditional Sheep Herder's Pie (in which mashed potatoes form the "crust") to the not-so-traditional Chicken and Roasted Vegetable Ziti (which "makes for a hearty family dinner"), in the comfort of your home. In addition to enjoying these entr es, you have your choice of appetizers, breads, soups, and more. You may even decide to try the almost sinful Chocolate Eclairs with Baileys Custard for dessert, or to top it all off with a Hot Limerick Toddy. After all, the menu is up to you. Jessie Tirsch, no stranger to cookbooks, coauthored Emeril's New New Orleans Cooking and wrote Paul Prudhomme's Seasoned America . She owns her own restaurant in New Orleans. McGuire and Molly Martin, who opened McGuire's Irish Pub in 1977, invite readers to sample a wee bit of McGuire's famous fare from this, their first cookbook.

THOUGHTS: I thought this was a cookbook for a pub in Ireland. I learned I was wrong. The introduction to this book gives a great history of McGuire's - it was worth the read. As for the recipes, some looked awesome, but others looked scary bad. I guess it's all a matter of taste. [Pun!]

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

Sunday, November 10, 2013

What I Read This Week:

When this posts, The Fiance and I will be gallivanting through vineyards of Charlottesville, VA. We both needed a long weekend break and decided to take one.We've visited Charlottesville before and loved it so much that we decided to return. I highly recommend a visit, particularly if you love Virgina reds.

As for the reading of the week, I think I did okay.
  • Magazines
    • The Atlantic, November 2013  - This was a meh issue. I thought I would love the whole thing... cause technology is awesome, but those bits were mainly flip through articles. I did, however, greatly enjoy the article on old whiskey and barrel aging. That was awesome.
  • Books
    • I should have been reading my current book, Joy for Beginners, but I got distracted by old episodes of The Office. That said, I did read the entirety of  The Perfect Wedding Reception. (Nothing like a library due date to get you to fly through a book.) While I didn't get to many ideas for our wedding, I did love all the pretty, pretty pictures.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Book 28: The Lost Art of Mixing

TITLE: The Lost Art of Mixing
AUTHOR: Erica Bauermeister
STARTED: October 12, 2013
FINISHED: October 12, 2013
PAGES: 275
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: Lillian stood at the restaurant kitchen counter, considering the empty expanse in front of her.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Lillian and her restaurant have a way of drawing people together. There’s Al, the accountant who finds meaning in numbers; Chloe, a budding chef who hasn’t learned to trust after heartbreak; Finnegan, quiet and steady as a tree, who can disappear into the background despite his massive height; Louise, Al’s wife, whose anger simmers just below the boiling point; and Isabelle, whose memories are slowly slipping from her grasp. And there’s Lillian herself, whose life has taken a turn she didn’t expect…. Their lives collide and mix with those around them, sometimes joining in effortless connections, at other times sifting together and separating again, creating a family that is chosen, not given. A beautifully imagined novel about the ties that bind—and links that break—The Lost Art of Mixing is a captivating meditation on the power of love, food, and companionship.

THOUGHTS: I am SO glad I randomly discovered Bauermeister. Her books are my ideal kind of novel. They are beautifully written and full of complex characters and relatable story-lines. The Lost Art of Mixing continues the magical aura of the first book in this series. This is the kind of book that puts a smile on your face, tears in your eyes, and makes you want to read-and-read-and-read all day.

Mixing picks up where the first book ended. We learn more about old characters while being introduced to a few new ones. The entire plot is organic and feels so real. Bauermeister makes me want to live in this world. No matter the age or gender of the character, they have their own voice and feel fully formed. I love how all the characters' stories interlace, but each story still has it's own side of life. It's wonderful.  This is a novel full of heart, and I never want the stories to end.

Also, all the descriptions of food make me hungry.

I will read anything this author writes in the future. More please!

RATING: 9/10 [Excellent!]

BOOLEAN: Friday Fashion Find - Chandalier

These are simply stunning tights.

I found them on Etsy.

Send your BOOLEAN pictures and links to

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Book 27: The Food You Crave

TITLE: The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life
AUTHOR: Ellie Krieger
STARTED: October 12, 2013
FINISHED: October 12, 2013
PAGES: 316
GENRE: Cookbook

FIRST SENTENCE: This book is much more than a collection of recipes, it is a new way of looking at food - a fresh approach to eating that, just like my Food Network show Healthy Appetite is about having the food you crave in a healthier way, using real ingredients prepared simply enough for every day but special and inspired enough to wow you.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Do you think that healthy food couldn't possibly taste good? Does the idea of "eating healthy" conjure up images of roughage and steamed vegetables? Author Ellie Krieger, host of Food Network's Healthy Appetite, will change all that. A registered dietitian, Ellie is also a lover and proponent of good, fresh food, simply but deliciously prepared. And she's not about denial—no nonfat foods here, because when you take the fat out of natural foods, in go the chemicals. Don't deny yourself butter—use a pat of it, but put it front and center on those mashed potatoes, so you can revel in it with all your senses. The Food You Crave is all you'll need to change the way you eat and change the way you feel. It contains 200 recipes that cover every meal of the day and every craving you might have. Every recipe contains a complete nutritional breakdown, as well as tips on ingredients and techniques that will keep you eating smart and eating well.

THOUGHTS: Ellie Krieger makes me want to EAT ALL THE THINGS. This book is well written and enticing. I enjoy how she shares what some of the meals mean to her everyday life.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Links and Stuff: November 7, 2013

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Book 26: Skinny

TITLE: Skinny
AUTHOR: Donna Cooner
STARTED: October 12, 2013
FINISHED: October 12, 2013
PAGES: 264
GENRE: Young Adult

FIRST SENTENCE: I know what they think because she whispers their thoughts into my ear.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful. These are the words of Skinny, the vicious voice that lives inside fifteen-year-old Ever Davies's head. Skinny tells Ever all the dark thoughts her classmates have about her. Ever knows she weighs over three hundred pounds, knows she'll probably never be loved, and Skinny makes sure she never forgets it. But there is another voice: Ever's singing voice, which is beautiful but has been silenced by Skinny. Partly in the hopes of trying out for the school musical - and partly to try and save her own life - Ever decides to undergo a risky surgery that may help her lose weight and start over. With the support of her best friend, Ever begins the uphill battle toward change. But demons, she finds, are not so easy to shake, not even as she sheds pounds. Because Skinny is still around. And Ever will have to confront that voice before she can truly find her own.

THOUGHTS: I found this book to be a complicated read. The narrative was easy to follow, but the emotions I felt while reading this book were all over the place. This is a Young Adult book, but I don't think I could have handled this book as a teen. Skinny tells the story of an obese teenager who opts to get weight-loss surgery. The author was very careful to not have other characters "fat shame" Ever, but Ever internalizes all those same feelings. This book was good in the sense that it discusses a very difficult subject in our society but it often made me uncomfortable. Maybe that was the point.

It's impossible for me to review this book without bringing in the greater role that society and it's views of obesity play. I was once 60 pounds overweight, and have, through my own journey, lost 50 of those pounds. I saw a lot of myself in Ever which, I think, complicates my view of this novel. I can relate to Ever on many levels, but not on all of them. It's hard for me to read this book without seeing Ever's journey through the eyes of my own experience. Like Ever, I conquered my fear of Skinny, but the battle is never over. I greatly appreciated how Cooner did not make this story a fairy tale. Ever gets romance in her own way, but there's no BMOC sweeping her off her feet at the end. Yes, Ever may go through a makeover and make new friends with her weight-loss, but she also comes to understand how her actions pre- and post- surgery have played a role in her own attitude to and reception of others.

I think this is may become an important book in the YA canon because it shows a side of a complicated issue that is willfully overlooked. Obesity is an issue we often don't talk about out of fear of insulting others. This book has delicately but strongly handled a very sensitive issue. I commend Cooner for writing this story.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Book 25: Simply Scones

TITLE: Simply Scones
AUTHOR: Leslie Weiner and Barbara Albright
STARTED: October 12, 2013
FINISHED: October 12, 2013
PAGES: 128
GENRE: Cookbook

FIRST SENTENCE: When we delivered our book proposal to St. Martin's Press, along with samples of assorted scones, the receptionist naturally asked us what we had in the bag.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Scones make delectable treats for afternoon tea, breakfast, lunch, even midnight snacks. Simply Scones features more than seventy luscious recipes for scones and spreads certain to delight both traditional and adverturesome palates:

Sweet Scones: Oat Current, Triple Chocolate Chunk, Jam-Filled Walnut, Pistachio Fig Scones
Savory Scones: Cheese, Hearty Grain, Pesto, Tex-Mex Scones
Spreads: Apple Butter, Clotted Cream, Yogurt Cheese, Chocolate Nut Butter, Raspberry Cream Cheese Spread

Plus dozens more. Special sections tell how to make perfect scones, and how to serve a scrumptious afternoon tea. If you've never indulged in a batch of fresh-baked scones, there's no reason to miss out now!
THOUGHTS: Om nom nom. Well written with great descriptions. I only wish there were pictures.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

YouTube Tuesday: Geek It

Monday, November 04, 2013

Book 24: Dark Triumph

TITLE: Dark Triumph
AUTHOR: Robin LaFevers
STARTED: September 9, 2013
FINISHED: October 7, 2013
PAGES: 388 
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: I did not arrive at the convent of Saint Mortain some green stripling.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Sybella's duty as Death's assassin in 15th-century France forces her return home to the personal hell that she had finally escaped. Love and romance, history and magic, vengeance and salvation converge in this thrilling sequel to Grave Mercy. Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. The convent views Sybella, naturally skilled in the arts of both death and seduction, as one of their most dangerous weapons. But those assassin's skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

THOUGHTS: Normally, I am quite disappointed with the second book in a trilogy. Most of the time the book feels like a set-up for the last book and is unable to stand on it's own. Happily, this is not the case with Dark Triumph. I don't think this book could stand on it's own, but that's because it is a smooth continuation from Grave Mercy and is perfectly set-up for whatever the third book may be. While I didn't find myself wanting to read this book into the wee hours of the morning, I was highly intrigued by the characters and plot.

Dark Triumph does not have the same sense of intrigue and mystery as Grave Mercy, but there is no way it could. Sybella is a fascinating character who is both strong and horribly weak at the same time. I love complex characters! Her hero is one of those tough guys (maybe a bit too tough), but I wonder if that is making up for how he first appears in the book. They work well together without turning into that whole damsel/hero stereotype. But, mainly, this book gives you all the feels about the environment in which Sybella was raised. I was both sad and disgusted, but the author always successfully walked that fine line between tragedy and drama-for-drama's-sake.

The only squidgy thing about this book is how young the female leads are. I understand that aspect is historically accurate, but it still makes me feel weird. I drastically age the characters in my head in some scenes.

I want the next book now! What is up with the convent? Where is this going? How is our small province in France to survive? I have questions that need answers, and I'm cranky I have to wait a year.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Sunday, November 03, 2013

What I Read This Week: November 3, 2013

Holy Calendar, Batman! How in the heck did it get to be November already? Thank goodness we got an extra hour of sleep last night. I desperately needed it. (Last Saturday, I accidentally slept until 3:30 pm. Oops.)

I wish I could find a way to read while sleeping. I feel as if that would be an invention beloved by millions. Science! Get on that!
  • Magazines
    • National Geographic, November 2013 - This issue had only one story that caught my interest. It was the cover story about a monster storm and storm chasers. This story was so poignant because it documents the personal side of science. The pictures of the reefs were also quite pretty.
    • Real Simple, October 2013 - This issue was a browse and toss for me. The part I liked the best was the "Month of  Weeknight Meals"... but I accidentally read that online first. Whoops.
  • Books
    • I'm slowly making my way through Joy for Beginner's. This book is still great, but I am having trouble keeping all the names straight. I blame that on reader error and my inability to read more than 5 pages at a time
  • Other
    • I'm originally from upstate New York and my folks still live there. My father predicated that Kirsten Gillibrand, there House rep at the time, was going somewhere long before the pundits. I read (and forwarded them) this article on The Atlantic about the Senator and where she might be headed. Normally I TL;DR stuff like this, but this piece was well written and intriguing.
    • Apparently researchers can analyze your Facebook profile to tell if you and your significant other are in it for the long haul. It was quite a "huh, I wonder" kind of study.

Friday, November 01, 2013

BOOLEAN: Metro Diamonds

I was sneaky last night and snapped a picture of some awesome tights I saw on a fellow metro-rider. Don't mind me, I'm just balancing this here smartphone on a seat to make the picture less blurry. Doot doot do.


BOOLEAN: Friday Fashion Find - Whovian

Doctor Who cannot come back soon enough for my taste. Until then, I will share these Whovian leggings.
You can grab a pair from We Love Fine.

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