Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Why I Love... Nightstands

I do most of my reading in bed. Reading right before I fall asleep gives my brain a chance to power down. Normally I do the old headbob for a few minutes before I finally give up and close the book for the night. Enter my trusty night stand.

I've lived and stayed in bedrooms without nightstands before. In those spaces, in an attempt to not lose all the heat from the covers, I would dangle precariously off the bed to drop the book on the floor. It was a pain... and I might have fallen out of bed a few times. Coordinated I am not.

The nightstand is my reading assistant. It gives every book I read a home until I finish. Each night, I put in my bookmark, place the book down, and turn out the light - all without falling on my face. On top of that, I enjoy that my nightstand can hold a beverage and/or snack should I need it.

Sometimes reading is not just about the books, it's about the environment. I can't focus on a book unless I am comfortable. Simply having a nightstand right there helps make reading easier.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Read-a-thon: Wrap Up

Oh right... I need to write a wrap-up post for read-a-thon. I almost forgot about it. So here it is in a sort of lighting round style:

Hours Read = 17.5
Books Completed = 4.33
Pages Read = 1149
Donation to First Book = $57.45... which I will round up to $60 because I can.


Now for the end of event survey:

Which hour was most daunting for you?
- Hour 17. My last one. I just decided to needed sleep.

Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
- Young Adult is always a good way to go. I also enjoy "dystopian" thrillers.

Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
- Can you find a way to make staying awake easier?

What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
- The warm-up posts.

How many books did you read?
- 4.33

What were the names of the books you read?
- Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
- Smoothies and Shakes by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern
- Parasite by Mira Grant
- Budget Bytes by Beth Moncel
- How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

Which book did you enjoy most?
- Parasite - it was highly entertaining

Which did you enjoy least?
- Smoothies and Shakes 

If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
- Twas not a cheerleader

How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
- I really want to participate again as a reader, but it will depend on what I've got going on wedding wise.


Ah, read-a-thon. I enjoyed you muchly.

What I Read This Week: April 27, 2014

This was only a 4-day work week for me, but it sure didn't feel like it. That's what I get for kicking the wedding vendor search into high gear. At least now we've got meeting scheduled with florists and I can stop stressing about that a little bit. New stressor... why are string ensembles so damn expensive? I may have to go post a flyer in our music school. Undergrads still work for pizza, right?

Thank goodness read-a-thon delivered a bit of a respite from the craziness.
  • Magazines
    • Cooking Light, May 2014 - This issue was mainly about fast recipes. I pulled a few but was not overly impressed with this issue. Can't win 'em all.
    • Food Network, May 2014 - Cupcakes? On the cover? Yes, please! I pulled several recipes to try from this issue including one for jello margarita squares. Whose in? I also learned that macaroons are a pain to make. That was news to me. Finally - check out this awesome piƱata cake. I want to eat the feet.
    • Real Simple, May 2014 - In this issue that was all about organizing (good tips, btw), I found two articles that were just gems. The first was a piece about wallflowers in bloom. It basically teaches ways for shy people to break out of there shells with new people. I may have to try a few of their recommendations because I stink at professional networking. My favorite article in this issue, by far, was about the dynamics and stereotypes between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. While the article offered advice on how to be a good mother-in-law, I found myself thinking fondly of my future mother-in-law. While I was nervous to first meet and get to know her, she's a wonderful woman. I had a giggle at the advice Real Simple offered because she already does those things. 
  • Books
    • I finished Pope Joan. It turned out to be a great book so I was making time to read it. Now I want to go on a wikipedia spree and learn more. Guess the author wins.
    • I also managed to finish all of these books during read-a-thon. Full reviews and all that jazz to follow:
      • Flora and Ulysses
      • Smoothies and Shakes
      • Parasite
      • Budget Bytes

Hour 17.5: Wherein Our Reader Calls It Quits

Well friends, I've decided to call it a night. Today was supposed to be all about relaxation and reading, and I've decided to live up to that by not fighting the heavy eyelids. I made it about a third of the way into my fifth book - not too shabby.

Now my pillow calls. I will be back sometime tomorrow with the usual wrap-up post.

PAGES READ THIS HOUR: 22
PAGES READ TOTAL: 1149

BOOKS COMPLETED:
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Smoothies and Shakes by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern
Parasite by Mira Grant

Budget Bytes by Beth Moncel

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Hour 17: Wherein Our Reader Drops Off

CURRENTLY READING: Head bobbing my way through How to Be a Woman

THOUGHTS?: Still brash. Still crass. Still awesome.

SNACKS AND STUFF: I put the Chex Mix away, but stole one last rye chip as I love them so. I also had a single Cadbury mini egg.

COMPANION UPDATE: He's not back yet. I have a feeling I will be asleep before he returns home.

ANYTHING ELSE?: This will likely be my shortest read-a-thon. I started looking like this:


PAGES READ THIS HOUR: 34
PAGES READ TOTAL: 1127

BOOKS COMPLETED:
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Smoothies and Shakes by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern
Parasite by Mira Grant
Budget Bytes by Beth Moncel

Hour 16: Wherein Our Reader Gets Feisty

CURRENTLY READING: How to Be a Woman 

THOUGHTS?: At the pace I read non-fiction, this will be my last book of read-a-thon. I'm more than okay with that. Moran is brash, outspoken, and not PC in the least. I want to be her friend.

SNACKS AND STUFF: I showed a bag of Chex Mix who's boss.


COMPANION UPDATE: I polite and saved him some of the Chex Mix for whenever he's around to eat it.

ANYTHING ELSE?: My background noise now consists of be bouncing between two hockey games. The Caps are out; I've decided to root of the LA Kings since it makes Wil Wheaton's tweeter feed (@wilw) hilarious.

PAGES READ THIS HOUR: 38
PAGES READ TOTAL: 1093

BOOKS COMPLETED:
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Smoothies and Shakes by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern
Parasite by Mira Grant

Budget Bytes by Beth Moncel

Hour 15: Wherein Our Reader Starts Book 5

CURRENTLY READING: I've just started Caitlin Moran's How to Be a Woman

THOUGHTS?: I heard Moran give an interview about this book on NPR a long while back. It was awesome and this book has been on my TBR list ever since.

Also, I might have flagged my way through Budget Bytes


Can you blame me? Look at the tasty!


SNACKS AND STUFF: Nada - but the Budget Bytes has, somehow, made me hongry again. I may attack some chex mix.

COMPANION UPDATE: The Fiance is gone, ne'er to return. Well, he'll be back at some point, but it won't be soon. I've got hockey on in the background, so it's almost like I've replaced him.

ANYTHING ELSE?: It started raining and now my apartment smells like dinner and freshness. It's delightful.

PAGES READ THIS HOUR: 148
PAGES READ TOTAL: 1055 (Four digit territory!)

BOOKS COMPLETED:
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Smoothies and Shakes by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern
Parasite by Mira Grant

Budget Bytes by Beth Moncel

Hour 14: Wherein Our Reader Has Deliciousness

CURRENTLY READING: I am just about halfway through Budget Bytes.

THOUGHTS?: The book is just as enjoyable as the blog. Moncel has managed to maintain the exact tone of her writing. Loves it.

SNACKS AND STUFF: I put aside my book to eat the delicious dinner The Fiance cooked. This is Blue Apron's chicken and mixed mushroom forage with garlic bread.


COMPANION UPDATE: He made me delicious food, sat down to eat with me, and now he's getting all snazzed up to go out with friends. I'll allow it.

ANYTHING ELSE?: I need to go do the dishes...

PAGES READ THIS HOUR: 102
PAGES READ TOTAL: 907

BOOKS COMPLETED:
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Smoothies and Shakes by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern

Parasite by Mira Grant

Hour 13: Wherein Our Reader Switches Gears

CURRENTLY READING: I started Budget Bytes at the end of the hour.

THOUGHTS?: Parasite finished and my thoughts on the Big Secret were proved correct. Now I need to get my hands on the next books in the series. Ms. Grant, could you please write faster?

Budget Bytes looks good and promises to be a delicious book.


SNACKS AND STUFF: No food this hour, but there is a rumbly in my tumbly.

COMPANION UPDATE: Good thing The Fiance has started cooking dinner.


ANYTHING ELSE?: I took a shower after finishing Parasite. It seemed appropriate. 

PAGES READ THIS HOUR: 36
PAGES READ TOTAL: 805

BOOKS COMPLETED:
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

Smoothies and Shakes by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern
Parasite by Mira Grant

Hour 12: Wherein Our Reader is ThisCloser

CURRENTLY READING: ZOMG! So close to finishing Parasite.

THOUGHTS?: Ooooo buddy this got uber-entertaining. I will definitely be reading the rest of the trilogy.

SNACKS AND STUFF: No foods. Only reads.

COMPANION UPDATE: The Fiance just returned from decorating his office. He says the adventure was a pleasant and successful one. Everything is level.

I also heard from Lady B, who managed to participate a wee bit in read-a-thon. "This afternoon I did get 45 pages into one of the books I picked up at the library today."


ANYTHING ELSE?: Our neighbors have the cutest dog. It looks like a permanent puppy. I kind of want to steal it...

PAGES READ THIS HOUR: 53
PAGES READ TOTAL: 769

BOOKS COMPLETED:
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

Smoothies and Shakes by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern

BONUS MATERIAL: Mid-Event Survey

1. What are you reading right now?
 - Parasite by Mira Grant

2. How many books have you read so far?
 - 2

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
- My next book - Budget Bytes

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
- Nope. Just told The Fiance what I would be doing.

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
- Just the usual need to visit the ladies room... and run away from bees. They were minor disturbances.

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
- How dang windy it was outside. Other than that, I'm now a regular at this event.

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
- Not yet.

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?
- Find a way to get more sleep the night before.

9. Are you getting tired yet?
- Not yet, but I'm hopped up on coffee and chocolate.

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?
- Change reading positions at least once an hour.

Hour 11: Wherein Our Reader Starts Seeing the End

CURRENTLY READING: I think I'm about an hour and a half away from finishing Parasite.

THOUGHTS?: I can see partly how this book will end, but knowing it's a trilogy is throwing a wrench into my ideas. Good book, can't wait to see how this all pans out.

SNACKS AND STUFF: Just some water... and a few Cadbury mini-eggs.

COMPANION UPDATE: He's still out. I hope he brings me back a pony.

ANYTHING ELSE?: No pictures this time. I was too busy reading.

PAGES READ THIS HOUR: 58
PAGES READ TOTAL: 716

BOOKS COMPLETED:
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

Smoothies and Shakes by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern

Hour 10: Wherein Our Reader Bounces Around

CURRENTLY READING: Parasite

THOUGHTS?: My certainty that I know the Big Secret is increasing with every page. As long as this book ends well (150 pages to go), I will definitely be reading the other books in the trilogy when they're released.

SNACKS AND STUFF: I nibbled a few more bites of food, but then The Fiance and I put the foods away.

COMPANION UPDATE: The Fiance is about to leave the building. He's driving a box of stuff downtown so that he can decorate his new office. Never fear - he'll be back in time to feed me dinner... before he leaves again to hang out with friends.

ANYTHING ELSE?: I bounced back and forth between reading inside and outside. I finally gave up on the outdoors because the sun kept hiding behind clouds and there were bees trying to occupy my bench.

Twas nice while it lasted.
PAGES READ THIS HOUR: 34
PAGES READ TOTAL: 658

BOOKS COMPLETED:
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

Smoothies and Shakes by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern

Hour 9: Wherein Our Reader Ventures Outdoors

CURRENTLY READING: Parasite

THOUGHTS?: So, after the science-y expository stuff, I think I know what the Big Twist is going to be. I'll let you know if I'm right. 

SNACKS AND STUFF: I nibbled a bit more on the lunch spread but, as of yet, have not gone overboard.

COMPANION UPDATE: He's cleaning out bins and things. I think there will be a large pile of things to donate, trash, and recycle when the day is done.

I received word from Lady B that her non-reading adventure involved this sight:


ANYTHING ELSE?: I moved outside for a bit. It was very pleasant but also insanely windy.


PAGES READ THIS HOUR: 44
PAGES READ TOTAL: 624

BOOKS COMPLETED:
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

Smoothies and Shakes by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern

Hour 8: Wherein Our Reader Compartmentalizes

CURRENTLY READING: Parasite - Just over halfway done - probably reading this until 8pm now. 

THOUGHTS?: We have just hit the BOOM, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT (fyi, totally saw that one bit coming) and the scientific explanation... all while I was eating. It's like how when I eat dinner and inevitably the TV show I'm watching is discussing the details of a dead body. Thanks Bones.

SNACKS AND STUFF: Oh did we feast. Actually, I'm not done yet. I will continue to nibble on these here cheeses until I pop.

COMPANION UPDATE: He came out for food. Now he's bouncing between food and whatever the heck has caused there to be plastic tubs all over the bedroom. Not gonna lie, it's an interesting side show.

ANYTHING ELSE?: I've decided to open the windows and doors. It's nice out. I want to read on the bench outside... but the food is in here. Also, there are kids on said bench. Sad face. Get off my lawn! I'll check back later.

PAGES READ THIS HOUR: 44
PAGES READ TOTAL: 580

BOOKS COMPLETED:
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

Smoothies and Shakes by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern

Hour 7: Wherein Our Reader Gets the Shivers

CURRENTLY READING: Parasite

THOUGHTS?: I do believe we hit the action point. I mean, the "zombies" have started to attack - sorta.

SNACKS AND STUFF: Nothing this time round, but I am about to lay out the massive lunch spread.

COMPANION UPDATE: Still up to whatever. It's not reading. The pile of random things by our backdoor keeps growing.

ANYTHING ELSE?: No time for pictures, the book got good.

PAGES READ THIS HOUR: 52
PAGES READ TOTAL: 536

BOOKS COMPLETED:
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

Smoothies and Shakes by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern

Hour 6: Wherein Our Reader is Forced to Concentrate

CURRENTLY READING: Parasite - at this point, I think I'll be reading this book until 5pm

THOUGHTS?: Stuff is happening! There are names and events and schemes on which I must concentrate. Also, it's not nearly as terrifying as I thought it would be - but I'm not quite halfway yet.

SNACKS AND STUFF: Just finished off the last of my mimosa.

COMPANION UPDATE: He's watching The Hunger Games (bookish!) as he continues to tear about the bedroom. Eh, doesn't bug me cause I know he'll clean it up... and he's feeding me dinner later. Can I keep him?

ANYTHING ELSE?: For lack of any other picture to post, here are the flowers The Fiance picked up... three weeks ago.


PAGES READ THIS HOUR: 57
PAGES READ TOTAL: 484

BOOKS COMPLETED:
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

Smoothies and Shakes by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern

Hour 5: Wherein Our Reader Adjusts

CURRENTLY READING: Parasite

THOUGHTS?: We have officially hit the point of the book where I want to see where it's all going. I'm a fifth of the way through and I think the start of the action is near.

SNACKS AND STUFF: More mimosas. I have a weakness for cheap champagne.

COMPANION UPDATE: He's off in the bedroom doing whatever it is that guys do when they decided to overhaul the organization of their closet... a.k.a. procrastinating work.

ANYTHING ELSE?: My bum was falling asleep so I switched positions so that my bum could fall asleep in a different location.


PAGES READ THIS HOUR: 46
PAGES READ TOTAL: 427

BOOKS COMPLETED:
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

Smoothies and Shakes by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern

Hour 4: Wherein Our Reader Noms and Peril is Nigh

CURRENTLY READING: Parasite - This book will remain in this spot for many hours as it is 500 pages long

THOUGHTS?: Oh we are just now getting to the good stuff. Yes, Grant's style is exactly like her previous books, but it's darn entertaining.

SNACKS AND STUFF: Now, we sup on brunch. Said brunch consists of egg and sausage casserole, banana bread, and mimosas.

Hot and delicious out of the oven.
Forgot that we can't sit at the table because of this evil, evil puzzle. Why is it all blue?
The media stand makes a good table. Now get in my belly.
 COMPANION UPDATE: The Fiance joined me in the supping and has started to work. Boo for working on a Saturday.

Also, I lied. I did here from Lady B: "I can't participate this spring but I did hit the library. Does that count??"

Our local library has a lion statue. Rawr.
 ANYTHING ELSE?: The sawing seems to have, mercifully, ceased. Wait. False alarm. Cursed tools - why must you ruin my plans to read outside?

PAGES READ THIS HOUR: 40 (Not to shabby considering I was stuffing my face)
PAGES READ TOTAL: 381

BOOKS COMPLETED:
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

Smoothies and Shakes by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern

Hour 3: Wherein Our Reader Gurgles

CURRENTLY READING: Parasite by Mira Grant... and I finished Smoothies and Shakes

THOUGHTS?: Yes, it was an excellent decision to start reading a medical, sci-fi thriller right before breakfast. My stomach gurgles in anticipation of a warm egg dish... and stomach parasites. I've read Grant before and enjoyed the first two books in that trilogy, the third was eh. So far I can tell you that this book is definitely in Grant's writing style and promises to at least be interesting. And I discovered that Parasite is also the first in a trilogy. Why are things always trilogies?

As for Smoothies and Shakes they looked quite refreshing and/or decadent.

Yum!
Gimme!
 SNACKS AND STUFF: I popped the egg dish in the oven. The apartment is beginning to smell like brunch heaven. Also, there was coffee.

Always looks "interesting" when uncooked. Tastes delicious when done.
COMPANION UPDATE: The Fiance has awoken! He's caffeinating himself as we speak.

ANYTHING ELSE?: Our apartment complex's management decided that 9am was a great time to begin work on the pool building. So. much. sawing.

PAGES READ THIS HOUR: 108 (Cookbook win)
PAGES READ TOTAL: 341

BOOKS COMPLETED:

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Smoothies and Shakes by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern

Hour 2: Wherein Our Reader Has the Happy Sniffles

CURRENTLY READING: I just finished Flora and Ulysses and will start reading Smoothies and Shakes in a sec.

THOUGHTS?: Oh this book! It was wonderful. The very last page gave me the happy sniffles. On top of the happy sniffles, I giggled at many of the illustrated pages. For example:
 
Super Squirrel! With the power to lift vacuums to get at crackers.

Just add a cape.

SNACKS AND STUFF: Just coffee... of which I think I need more.

COMPANION UPDATE: The Fiance is still asleep, but I have a feeling he will be up soon. Time to pre-heat the oven for the egg and sausage casserole.

ANYTHING ELSE?: I hope the sun continues to warm up the bench outside. I have a hankering to read out there for a bit.

PAGES READ THIS HOUR: 107
PAGES READ TOTAL: 233 

BOOKS COMPLETED:

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

Hour 1: Wherein Our Reader Wakes Up and Giggles

CURRENTLY READING: Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

THOUGHTS?: What a fun book to start my read-a-thon. I had no expectations and, actually, didn't have a clue what the story was about - I just knew I liked DiCamillo's work. This book is highly entertaining and quiet advanced in the vocabulary for a children's book.

SNACKS AND STUFF: I devoured my kick-off snack and coffee. Speaking of which, my cup seems to require a refill.

COMPANION UPDATE: The Fiance is abed. He kicked me out when my alarm went off, rolled over, and promptly went back to sleep. There shall be no updates from Lady B this time around. Her folks are in town so she is otherwise occupied.

ANYTHING ELSE?: I forgot to pull my CDs out from under the bed. D'oh! Happily, I've discovered that Pandora has a pretty good Film Scores station.

PAGES READ THIS HOUR: 126
PAGES READ TOTAL: 126 (glad the first hour never requires math)


BOOKS COMPLETED: None yet.

BONUS CONTENT:  My belated entry information for the Kick-Off Meme...

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
- Sunny Silver Spring, MD. It rained all night, but the sun is out now and everything seems new and fresh.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
- The Budget Bytes cookbook. I <3 blog.="" br="" the="">
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
- The cheese. In particular, the goat cheese.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
- I'm getting married in December and wedding planning has consumed my life. Other than that, I enjoy reading, crossword puzzles, watching football and hockey, and eating carbs.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
- I'm trying to enjoy myself more. I'm seeing today as a day of relaxation and won't be forcing myself to Read All The Things or Stay Up All The Lates.

Read-a-thon: It Begins

I've just woken from a deep sleep and a weird dream.

I've got coffee.

I've got my energizing, kick-off snack.

I've got my very first book.

Let's do this!


Friday, April 25, 2014

Read-a-thon: Menu-a-thon

It wouldn't be a read-a-thon without me overeating cheese.

I have a weakness for all foods that could be categorized as snacks and/or finger food. If you can nibble upon it, I will like it.

At this point, I sometimes find it hard to determine what I like more: reading all day or having an excuse to snack. The menu is now something of a tradition. I made a few tweaks here and there but there are no major changes. Hey man, I know what works.

Kick Off Snack
Yogurt with Granola
Coffee

Breakfast
Egg and Sausage Casserole
Mimosas and More Coffee
Banana Bread

Lunch
Veggies with Ranch Dip
Cheese and Crackers
Salami and Fruit

Dinner
TBD
(The Fiance will be making something from our Blue Apron box.)
Dessert
All the Easter Candy
All of it.
Snacks on Hand
Chex Mix
Popcorn
Fruit Snacks
Mixed Nuts 
As per usual, every ingredient/dish that can be prepped has been prepped. My kitchen smells like breakfast sausage and my stomach is angry that I'm not baking breakfast right away. Good thing we're ordering pizza soon. Pizza makes everything awesome.

The Friday Find: Shelf

If you love books, you need some place to keep them. The Fiance and I have five various bookcases in our apartment. They are sadly, all of the boring, "normal" variety. If you want to spice your shelving style up, might I suggest the following:


You can buy this awesome bookcase (and many others like it) off Wood Curve's Etsy shop.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Read-a-thon: Book Order

This read-a-thon's book order was relatively easy to put together. I've decided to read through my book pile as follows: 



Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
 - I've started read-a-thon with her books before, so why not keep with that trend.

Smoothies and Shakes by  Elsa Petersen-Schepelern
 - It's the closest thing I have to a breakfast cookbook

Parasite by Mira Grant  
- If I'm going to spend most of the day reading this book, it might as well occur during daylight hours. Grant's previous books have scared me, so I'm going to try to keep the creepies at bay.

Budget Bytes by Beth Moncel
 - Love the blog. Cannot wait to read the book. The incentive to read this one should get me through the first half of day.

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
 - It arrived in time! This book will, in all likelihood, be my last of the day. The snippets I've read are hysterical, so I want to end on a high note.

Bake It, Don't Fake It by Heather Bertinetti
 - If I make it to the "Dessert Round," this is the book I shall be reading.

Surrender by Pamela Clare
 - Extraordinarily unlikely that I make it this far, but I've always had a romance novel on hand.

Links and Stuff: April 24, 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Book 4: Worm

TITLE: Worm: The First Digital World War
AUTHOR: Mark Bowden
STARTED: February 10, 2014
FINISHED: March 25, 2014
PAGES: 288
GENRE: Non-Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: The new worm in Phil Porras's digital petri dish was announced in the usual way: a line of small black type against a white backdrop on one of his three computer screens, displaying just the barest of descriptors - time of arrival... server type... point of origin... nineteen columns in all.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Worm: The First Digital World War tells the story of the Conficker worm, a potentially devastating piece of malware that has baffled experts and infected more than twelve million computers worldwide. When Conficker was unleashed in November 2008, cybersecurity experts did not know what to make of it. Exploiting security flaws in Microsoft Windows, it grew at an astonishingly rapid rate, infecting millions of computers around the world within weeks. Once the worm infiltrated one system it was able to link it with others to form a single network under illicit outside control known as a “botnet.” This botnet was soon capable of overpowering any of the vital computer networks that control banking, telephones, energy flow, air traffic, health-care information — even the Internet itself. Was it a platform for criminal profit or a weapon controlled by a foreign power or dissident organization? Surprisingly, the U.S. government was only vaguely aware of the threat that Conficker posed, and the task of mounting resistance to the worm fell to a disparate but gifted group of geeks, Internet entrepreneurs, and computer programmers. But when Conficker’s controllers became aware that their creation was encountering resistance, they began refining the worm’s code to make it more difficult to trace and more powerful, testing the Cabal lock’s unity and resolve. Will the Cabal lock down the worm before it is too late? Game on.


THOUGHTS: Mark Bowden will, in all likelihood, always be my favorite non-fiction author. All of his books manage to capture the story in a way that makes them highly readable. That said, this was my least favorite of his books. Worm was all build up and no pay-off.

Unlike his other books which tend to move like fiction, Worm was very chronological. There was a very this, then this, then this pacing to it. While Bowden did expand on side-stories when necessary, this book felt a bit one-dimensional. All of the steps on discovering and handling conficker led to a big ole (spoiler) flop. The worm itself was DOA and I think this fact did not help the book. By the end, I wanted a pay-off to all the name and fact learning. Instead I got, "So.. yeah. It's out there, just toodling it's thumbs." Le sigh.

All in all, not a bad book, just a sophomoric effort from on my favorites. At least he got be to read about a topic I would otherwise ignore.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

Read-a-thon: Book Selection

I'm a bit of a last-minute-lucy on picking out my books this year. Last night, I hit my cookbook shelf to grab my palate cleanser books. This is what I found:



Bake It, Don't Fake It by Heather Bertinetti
Smoothies and Shakes by  Elsa Petersen-Schepelern
Budget Bytes by Beth Moncel (Totes excited about this one as I adore the blog)

Then I perused the relatively small collection of romance novels I still I have and found my "in case I manage to read everything else" book. And the winner was:


Surrender by Pamela Clare

Today, during my lunch break, I hit my library's Juvenile Literature stacks and Popular Reading collection to find the bulk of my reading. And I collected:


Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Parasite by Mira Grant

I have one more book (Caitlin Moran's How to Be a Woman) coming through CLS. If it arrives in time, I might put it in the rotation for read-a-thon.

Should be an interesting day of reading.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Read-a-thon: First Book

When I find a charity that is awesome, I continue to support it. First Book continues to provide books to underprivileged children, schools, and neighborhoods. Their goal is to fight illiteracy by providing books to children to encourage them to become lifelong readers.



For every page I finish during read-a-thon, I will donate a nickle to First Book. Since I think they're awesome, the minimum I will donate (regardless of my reading performance) is $50.

YouTube Tuesday: Dating


Monday, April 21, 2014

Read-a-thon Countdown

Read-a-thon is on Saturday, and I have a confession to make. I almost didn't want to participate this time. The non-reading side of my life has been so busy that read-a-thon felt like just another thing on my calendar. I was worried that booking off a whole Saturday for reading would put me behind in wedding planning, distract me from my to do list, and just generally be a hurdle in my life. I respect read-a-thon too much to make it a chore.

After a few days of thought and a serious look at my calendar, I decided that I could still participate in read-a-thon and enjoy doing so. Most of our wedding vendor meetings are ending up on Sundays or weekdays, The Fiance and I have no pressing issues or errands, and all of my friends assume I do read-a-thon anyway so there are no big events on the calendar. Heck, at this point, the idea of lying around and reading all day sounds downright indulgent and relaxing.

So, participating I shall be but don't expect me to stay up very late. In the lead up to Saturday, here is the blog posting plan:

  • Monday: This here post
  • Tuesday: Charity Introduction
  • Wednesday: Book Selection
  • Thursday: Book Order
  • Friday: The Noms

Also, this read-a-thon is sort of special in that it marks the one year anniversary of The Fiance and I's engagement. D'awww.

Can't help myself... I love this picture.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

What I Read This Week: April 20, 2014

You know what I love, short work weeks that allow me to catch up on my massive at home to do list. I super-cleaned the apartment, did ALL the laundry (even the weird stuff like our shower curtain), baked, ran errands, and got around to a few ideas on my wedding list.

I'm tired. Can I have another short week please?
  • Books
    • I put another hefty dent in Pope Joan. There is a marginal chance that I might finish this book before read-a-thon on Saturday.
  • Other
    • As I've mentioned previously, I'm a bit of an NPR fanatic. That love extends to their various blogs. Krulwich Wonders is a science-y blog that explores various curiosities in a fun way. A post this week was all about whale poop and krill populations. It was fascinating.
    • I'm new to NHL hockey, but thanks to The Fiance, I have become a huge fan of the Washington Capitals. Our season is over and there will be no play-off games for us to attend. It's sad. John Walton, the voice of Capitals radio, has eloquently stated why we still care.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Friday Find: Nook

I love me a good reading nook. When I was growing up, I arranged my bedroom furniture so that my bed, a day bed, was planted right in front of a window. Instant window seat! It was a perfect location to read (particularly on rainy days). Whilst perusing through Pinterest, I came across a window seat that reminded me of my happy days reading for hours on end. 

Voila!


This reading nook came from a delightful house tour. Every abode needs a reading book.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Links and Stuff: April 17, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Why I Love... Judging a Book By Its Cover

Raise your hand if you've ever picked a book up because the cover was pretty. Me! Raise you're hand if you've ever picked a book up because the title made you giggle. Me! Raise you're hand if you've ever noticed a book out of the corner of your eye because the dust jacket was shiny. Me!

I have done all of these things and I regret none of them. I judge books by covers all of the time. It's the cover that often first attracts me to new titles and authors. When I peruse a bookstore, I am more often than not drawn to fun titles and beautiful dust jackets. I love attractive, eyeing-catching design. I'm also a fan of repurposed artwork and maps. And typography. And minimalism. Essentially, if there is a book that is "nice" to look at, I'm likely a fan. It's these style choices that makes book jump out from all the others.

Even when I've picked up a book to laugh at it (coughRideTheFirecough), I always give the blurb a read. (Ride The Fire turned out to be a most excellent romance novel.) It's the cover that draws me in, the blurb that gets me to buy or check-out, and the actual writing to keep me coming back to an author.

Judging a book by its cover is simply the first step in my love affair with a given book.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

What I Read This Week: April 13, 2014

Sleep! Blessed sleep! This is the first weekend in three weeks where I haven't had to leave town - overnight - to do something related to a wedding. As much as I love weddings (and Lady C's was stunning and a great time), I was in desperate need for a weekend at home.

Also, I need to time to write up a post that covered two weeks worth reading... as minimal as it turned out to be.
  • Work
    • I perused the Spring/Summer 2014 catalog for ALA Editions. I pinned a few titles to check out later. My TBR pile continues to grow.
  • Magazines
    • The Atlantic, April 2014 - This was the perfect bus magazine. I read it cover-to-cover and flagged a few pieces for The Fiance whilst I was flipping through the issue. I loved the article on the overprotected kid. I kept nodding my head at the author's points and saying, "Yes! This!" The pieces on the monogamy trap, strong mayors, and stop and frisk were also well done.
    • National Geographic, April 2014 - This issue didn't really do it for me. The coal article was meh for me. I did enjoy the stories on the massive telescope and atolls, but I wish they had been longer.
  • Books 
    • The Fiance and I have decided to cap our before sleep TV viewing to 1 hour worth of episodes. I missed reading and we found this to be a wonderful way to decompress. The limited length means I managed to get at least 15 to 30 minutes of reading in before my eyes start fighting me. Thus, I have managed to put a sizeable chunk of Pope Joan behind me. The books started out slow, but now I find that I can't wait to sit down to read it.
  • Other
    • At some point after our engagement, I subscribed to every major wedding website ever. This week I took a few minutes to scan some of their e-magazines. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Friday Find: Wear It

I'm not a huge wearer of jewelry. I do, however, tend to pop-in a pair of earrings on a daily basis. I have a rather large collection of stud earrings and simple dangles. While I was trolling Etsy for wedding things the other day, I came across this pair of bookish earrings that just might have to be mine soon.


You can beat me too them here.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Links and Stuff: April 10, 2014

Sunday, April 06, 2014

What I Read This Week: April 6, 2014

No wrap up this week. It's Lady C's wedding day! I'll be back next week with a review of everything I've read since March 30th.

Friday, April 04, 2014

The Friday Find: Rebound

Not all books are destined to remain books forever. What's a book to do when it's days as a reading thing are numbered? Why, fall into the hands of a Etsy designer of course!

The Aeneid never looked so good.

Rebound Designs takes old books and gives them new life as purses and clutches. There are several other designers on Etsy who breath new life into books. Just search "book purse" to see all of your options.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Book 3: The Knot Complete Guide to Weddings

TITLE: The Knot Complete Guide to Weddings: The Ultimate Source of Ideas, Advice, and Relief for the Bride and Groom and Those Who Love Them
AUTHOR: Carley Rooney
STARTED: September 18, 2013
FINISHED: March 18, 2014
PAGES: 434
GENRE: Wedding

FIRST SENTENCE: If you're reading this book, you probably have a ring sparkling on the fourth finger of your left hand.

SUMMARY: [From BN.com] From the #1 wedding website, this completely revised and updated edition of the classic wedding planning bible answers all of your questions, with all the latest information and tools a bride could want.  Overwhelmed by the countless questions and details your wedding entails? Don't despair! The Knot Complete Guide to Weddings takes you step-by-step from your engagement to the big day, from the reception to the honeymoon. Inside you'll find checklists, worksheets, insider advice, and in-depth sections on: How to personalize your wedding, Updated wedding etiquette, Creating a realistic budget, Sneaky cost-cutting tips, Dress shopping advice, Tips for working with florists, caterers, officiants, and others, Invitation wording, Vows and ceremony details, and Unique Wedding customs. ALL NEW SECTIONS ON: Planning Online and Destination Weddings, and a color-coded section with over 100 vibrant photographs

THOUGHTS: It took me six months to read this book because it kept giving me panic attacks. That said, I am going to hang on to and reference this sucker until my wedding day. It's well written, covers a shload of material, and provides a create framework for wedding planning. It might have caused some nightmares, but I'm glad I read it.

RATING: For the book itself, 9/10 [Excellent!. For the stress it caused me, 2/10[Awful].

Links and Stuff: April 3, 2014

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Why I Love... NPR Books

I am an NPR addict. I listen almost everyday at work, and I send stories to myself to listen to as I work out. NPR is one of the few mainstream news outlets that still seems to showcase books, authors, and reading. I love NPR books because it keeps me informed and offers a fascinating way to learn more deeply about the book world.

Some of the stories I enjoy the most are the author interviews. NPR doesn't just share reviews (although those are awesome), they regularly interview authors about their books and past material. These interviews are always in-depth and offer a new way of understanding a person's work. I love how NPR hosts are always able to draw details and context out of their subjects. For example, Dave Davies interviewed Karen Russell on Fresh Air about her new novella Sleep Donation. Aside from making the book sound utterly fascinating, Davies asked Russell about where the idea of the book came from along with asking where specific concepts came from. Each question built on the author's previous answer and I was left enthralled for 40 minutes. 40 minutes! It might not even take that long to read this novella. And every NPR interview is like that.

NPR books is one of my prime sources for leaning about new books. In the past day alone, I've added three titles to my TBR list. The only downside to NPR books is that I end up finding books at such a pace that my reading speed cannot keep up. Sad face. At least I know I'll never be without an idea.