Thursday, July 31, 2014

Links and Stuff: July 31, 2014

Monday, July 28, 2014

Book 12: All Quiet on the Western Front

TITLE: All Quiet on the Western Front
AUTHOR: Erich Maria Remarque
STARTED: June13, 2014
FINISHED: June 27, 2014
PAGES: 248
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE:We are at rest five miles behind the front.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Paul Baumer enlisted with his classmates in the German army of World War I. Youthful, enthusiastic, they become soldiers. But despite what they have learned, they break into pieces under the first bombardment in the trenches. And as horrible war plods on year after year, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the principles of hate that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against each other--if only he can come out of the war alive.

THOUGHTS: I decided to read this after The Fiance and I watch the History Series "The World Wars." I don't know why I avoided this classic for so long - it was very readable, even if the ending left me feeling a bit "blah." Despite my qualms with the very last pages of the book, I can understand why this book is considered one of the best novels about war. The brotherhood, devastation, and futility of it comes across clearly and, on some pages, in a highly emotional manner.

What made me think the most about this book is that if you changed the names and locations, it could be any war and any side. How I missed reading this in High School is beyond me. Of all the books they make you read, this one would have actually meant something to juniors and seniors.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Sunday, July 27, 2014

What I Read This Week: July 27, 2014

I spent most of this week discovering just how far was "walking distance" from our new apartment. The answer: TBA. I, apparently will walk anywhere - even in the heat. For example, I took the day off on Wednesday to switch over my MD license for a DC one. I walked from our place near the Zoo to the Georgetown DMV. There, I was told I needed to visit the Social Security Office because of some recent rule change about names needing to match exactly on documents. So I walked to said office. Then I walked back to the DMV. Then I walked home. All told, I clocked 6 miles before lunch. Awesome for my FitBit stats, not so great on my disgruntled left knee. Also, I feel asleep before 11 that night. Whoops.

  • Magazines
    • Inside Weddings, Spring 2014 - I picked up this issue from the newstand because it was a new wedding title to me. No articles stood out, but I enjoyed how the structure of the magazine reminded me of some of my favorite wedding blogs. There was some stunning weddings featured, as well.
  • Books
    • I'm slowly, oh so slowly, putting a dent in Written in My Own Heart's Blood. I need to read it faster so that my coworker and I can chat about it. I have a sneaking suspicion this book is going to make me cry.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Book 11: The Arrangement

TITLE: The Arrangement
AUTHOR: Mary Balogh
STARTED: May 26, 2014
FINISHED: June 13, 2014
PAGES: 380
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: When it became clear to Vincent Hunt, Viscount Darleigh, that if he stayed at home for the remainder of the spring he would without any doubt at all be betrothed, even married, before summer had properly settled in, he fled.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Desperate to escape his mother’s matchmaking, Vincent Hunt, Viscount Darleigh, flees to a remote country village. But even there, another marital trap is sprung. So when Miss Sophia Fry’s intervention on his behalf finds her unceremoniously booted from her guardian’s home, Vincent is compelled to act. He may have been blinded in battle, but he can see a solution to both their problems: marriage. At first, quiet, unassuming Sophia rejects Vincent’s proposal. But when such a gloriously handsome man persuades her that he needs a wife of his own choosing as much as she needs protection from destitution, she agrees. Her alternative is too dreadful to contemplate. But how can an all-consuming fire burn from such a cold arrangement? As friendship and camaraderie lead to sweet seduction and erotic pleasure, dare they believe a bargain born of desperation might lead them both to a love destined to be?

THOUGHTS: You know, for being a romance novel, this was not very romance-y. I like this book because it was not typical at all. The hero and heroine do get together in typical romance novel fashion, but the rest of the book is a pretty straightforward tale about getting a marriage off the ground. I enjoyed this book immensely because it felt realistic for the era. Kudos to Ms. Balogh.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

A+ Book Review

I very rarely pick-up a book based on a review alone. I'm too much of a mood reader for that. This morning, as I was commuting to work, I listened to a review of Tigerman on All Things Considered. It was, hands-down, these best book review I have ever encountered.

Tigerman is not my normal kind of book, but I want to read it based on this review alone.

Please, please, please listen to it. You won't regret it. The first 30-seconds of the review may be one of the best things I've ever heard.

The Friday Find: Personal Library

If you like to lend books to people, you know if can sometimes me a pain to keep track of who has what. Why not turn your collection into a library?

Knock Knock sells this adorable personal library kit. I think it would make a spectacular gift for a kid who wanted to be (or play) a librarian.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Variations on a Theme: Blog to Book

I've been seeing advertisements for the new Helen Mirren film, The Hundred Foot Journey, on TV lately. It looks right up my alley and I plan on, at the very least, adding it to my Netflix queue. The movie is adapted from a book of the same name. This got me thinking about adaptations - specifically, blogs that are now books (of some sort).

This month's Variations on Theme is Blog to Book.

Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously
Julie Powell

With the humor of Bridget Jones and the vitality of Augusten Burroughs, Julie Powell recounts how she conquered every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and saved her soul.Julie Powell is 30 years old, living in a tiny apartment in Queens and working at a soul-sucking secretarial job that's going nowhere. She needs something to break the monotony of her life, and she invents a deranged assignment. She will take her mother's worn, dog-eared copy of Julia Child's 1961 classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and she will cook all 524 recipes -- in the span of one year.At first she thinks it will be easy. But as she moves from the simple Potage Parmentier (potato soup) into the more complicated realm of aspics and crepes, she realizes there's more to Mastering the Art of French Cooking than meets the eye.And somewhere along the line she realizes she has turned her outer-borough kitchen into a miracle of creation and cuisine. She has eclipsed her life's ordinariness through spectacular humor, hysteria, and perseverance

Budget Bytes: Over 100 Easy, Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half
Beth Moncel

As a college grad during the recent great recession, Beth Moncel found herself, like so many others, broke. Unwilling to sacrifice eating healthy and well—and armed with a degree in nutritional science—Beth began tracking her costs with obsessive precision, and soon cut her grocery bill in half. Eager to share her tips and recipes, she launched her blog, Budget Bytes. Soon the blog received millions of readers clamoring for more.
Beth's eagerly awaited cookbook proves cutting back on cost does not mean cutting back on taste. Budget Bytes has more than 100 simple, healthy, and delicious recipes, including Greek Steak Tacos, Coconut Chicken Curry, Chorizo Sweet Potato Enchilada, and Teriyaki Salmon with Sriracha Mayonnaise, to name a few. It also contains expert principles for saving in the kitchen—including how to combine inexpensive ingredients with expensive to ensure that you can still have that steak you’re craving, and information to help anyone get acquainted with his or her kitchen and get maximum use out of the freezer. Whether you’re urban or rural, vegan or paleo, Budget Bytes is guaranteed to delight both the palate and the pocketbook. 

Escape From Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur
Pamela Slim

Pamela Slim, a former corporate training manager, left her office job twelve years ago to go solo and has enjoyed every bit of it. In her groundbreaking book, based on her popular blog Escape from Cubicle Nation, Slim explores both the emotional issues of leaving the corporate world and the nuts and bolts of launching a business. Drawing on her own career, as well as stories from her coaching clients and blog readers, Slim will help readers weigh their options, and make a successful escape if they decide to go for it.

Walker Lamond

Rules For My Unborn Son is a collection of traditional, humorous, and urbane fatherly advice for boys. From the sartorial ("If you are tempted to wear a cowboy hat, resist") to the practical ("Keep a copy of your letters. It makes it easier for your biographer") to even a couple of sure-fire hangover cures ("There is no better remedy than a dip in the ocean"), the book of rules and accompanying quotations is quite simply an instruction manual for becoming a Good Man - industrious, thoughtful, charming, and of course, well-dressed. Hip and witty with a decidedly traditionalist flavor, Rules For My Unborn Son is meant to evoke simpler times when Father knew best and a suitable answer to "Why?" was "Because I said so."

Jenny Lawson

When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father and a morbidly eccentric childhood. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame-spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it.
In the irreverent Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson’s long-suffering husband and sweet daughter help her uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments—the ones we want to pretend never happened—are the very same moments that make us the people we are today. For every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud, this is a poignant and hysterical look at the dark, disturbing, yet wonderful moments of our lives.

Christian Lander

They love nothing better than sipping free-trade gourmet coffee, leafing through the Sunday New York Times, and listening to David Sedaris on NPR (ideally all at the same time). Apple products, indie music, food co-ops, and vintage T-shirts make them weak in the knees. They believe they’re unique, yet somehow they’re all exactly the same, talking about how they “get” Sarah Silverman’s “subversive” comedy and Wes Anderson’s “droll” films. They’re also down with diversity and up on all the best microbrews, breakfast spots, foreign cinema, and authentic sushi. They’re organic, ironic, and do not own TVs. You know who they are: They’re white people. And they’re here, and you’re gonna have to deal. Fortunately, here’s a book that investigates, explains, and offers advice for finding social success with the Caucasian persuasion. So kick back on your IKEA couch and lose yourself in the ultimate guide to the unbearable whiteness of being.

Other Blogs to Books
The 100 Things Challenge - David Bruno
Forgotten Bookmarks - Michael Popek
Happier at Home - Gretchen Rubin
Humans of New York - Brandon Stanton
Hyperbole and a Half - Allie Brosh
Post Secret - Frank Warren
Shi*t My Dad Says - Justin Halpern

Links and Stuff: July 24, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Why I Love... Heavy Books

I am very much in love with heavy, door-stopper books right now.

Reason 1: I am reading Written in My Own Heart's Blood at the moment; it is both lovely and will get me through this hot summer.

Reason 2: They can help you flatten out the bumps in a new rug.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

What I Read This Week: July 20, 2014

You know what I love? Summer days where the weather is unexpectedly beautiful. DC had a few of those this week. It was lovely. This week made me miss having a patio because it meant I could not read outside. (I forgot about the rooftop deck the apartment has until just now. I shall endeavor to remember!)
  • Magazines
    • The Atlantic, July/August 2014 - This was just an okay issue. I was not all that into all the pieces on creativity. I did enjoy reading the pieces on President Karzai and all the dead moms in kids movies.
    • Food Network, July/August 2014 - This was a pretty scrumptious looking issue. I pulled a recipe for Kielbasa Grilled Cheese. Yum. Our new apartment does not have outdoor grilling space (le sigh), so I could only look longingly at some of the summer grilling recipes.
  • Books
    • I managed to read several chapters of Written in My Own Heart's Blood this week. Now if only I could make to stay awake longer. I might be able to put a bigger dent in it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Friday Find: Perfectly Due

Ah! This tote bag came across my Pinterest feed this week and I absolutely love it. How perfect is this bag for your next library trip?

I would be tempted to use a fabric pen and add my books' due dates every time I visited the library.

You can buy this lovely item from ModCloth.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sunday, July 13, 2014

What I Read This Week: July 13, 2014

I am SO HAPPY to be done with moving. I am covered in bruises and most of them came from Comcast. Grumblegrumblegrumble. At least everything is up and running and we're pretty much done unpacking. It's going to take awhile for the new place to feel like home, but I'll get there.

Spending 8+ hours on the phone with Comcast did not leave much time for reading, but I did manage to tackle the following:
  • Magazines
    • National Geographic, July 2014 - Astronomy! Love it. The "Life Beyond Earth" article was right up my alley. I also squeed when I saw this issue contained another installment of Paul Salopek's walk around the globe. Lastly, I was impressed by the piece on goliath groupers partly because I had listed to an NPR interview about aquaculture the same day.
  • Books
    • I finished All Quiet on the Western Front. Full review at some point.
    • I started reading the most recent book in the Outlander series, Written In My Own Heart's Blood. I'm flying through it but this sucker is nearly 900 pages long. It may take me all summer to finish it. That's okay! I love Diana Gabaldon.
  • Other

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Friday Find: LOC

Have you ever been to the Library of Congress? It is a stunningly beautiful building. If it weren't frowned upon, I would go to the main reading room and lie down on the floor so I could stare up at this:

So purty.

I recommend a visit if you find yourself in the DC area.

*Hat Tip to DCist for the pic.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Links and Stuff: July 10, 2014

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Friday, July 04, 2014

The Friday Find: Inhale

The Fiance and I picked up the keys to our new apartment on Tuesday. We love it. Huzzah! We are not so thrilled about the predicted heat and humidity for moving day. Boo. At least it will be over in a few hours.

Then I get to do my most favorite part of moving - decorating. I may have to add this candle to our shopping list to make the new digs feel more like home.

You can grab this guy from Assouline.

Thursday, July 03, 2014