Sunday, May 31, 2015

What I Read This Week: May 31, 2015

I dog-sat for a friend on Thursday night. I thought this meant I would get the chance to plow through a bunch of magazines. Nope. Instead I got distracted by bad television and the really cute puppy next to me.
She's so cute!

  • Work
    • American Libraries, May 2015 - The bulk of this issue focused on the library systems report. Since we're looking to upgrade our ILS, I read the parts that pertained to our work and skimmed the rest. I also stopped to read the article on "Marketing in the Real World." Now I've added yet another book to my TBR list.
    • American Libraries, June 2015 supplement - I enjoy reading about libraries moving into the digital, but I skimmed the entirety of this supplement.
  • Books
    • I'm about halfway through The Sweet Life in Paris. It's a decent read so far, but I'm having a bit of trouble getting around the negative sounding "mood" the author seems to create.
  • Other
    • The New York Times posted a rather interesting article about the skepticism surrounding the Jade Helm military training in Texas.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Book 8: The Newlywed Cookbook

TITLE: The Newlywed Cookbook: Fresh Ideas & Modern Recipes for Cooking with & For Each Other
AUTHOR: Sarah Copeland
STARTED: April 25, 2015
FINISHED: April 25, 2015
PAGES: 304
GENRE: Cookbook

FIRST SENTENCE: There's a moment in a marriage, whether two days or two hundred and twenty-two days into it, where you're standing side by side in the morning barefoot on the cool kitchen floor.

SUMMARY: [From BN] This cookbook is an indispensable reference for modern couples looking to spend quality time together in the kitchen. Inside are more than 130 recipes for both classic and contemporary cooking that are perfect for day-to-day deux and special occasions with family and friends. More than a collection of recipes, The Newlywed Cookbook is also a guide to domestic bliss. Author Sarah Copeland, a newlywed herself, knows that sourcing, cooking as well as sharing food together at the table makes for a happy couple! This beautiful and sophisticated contemporary cookbook is the new go-to for brides and grooms.

THOUGHTS: The Husband and I have been cooking out of this book for months. I decided it was high-time that I actually read the thing.

This book is only about 2/3 recipes. The rest is all information about what to cook, when to cook, how to cook, why to cook, and the joy of cooking together. The author leans a bit too much on the organic/free-range/hoity-toity attitude for my personal taste, but the general basics of the book are great. The writing is simple but well done.

So far, the food we've made out of this book has been tasty as well. We're trying to make everything at least once, but we already have our favorites. Mmmm braised short ribs with creamy, cheesy polenta.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Reading Challenge

I was hanging out with Lady B last weekend when she told me that she was doing the 2015 Reading Challenge. Some time ago, Pop Sugar posted a list of things to check off as you read. I'm a bit late to the challenge, but I am totally game.

I went back through my 2015 reads and have already checked-off 18 items. I'm playing the rules that I can check off more than one thing per book.

If you'd like to try the challenge, here's the list.

The Friday Find: Wristlet

They say you shouldn't wear your heart on your sleeve. What about wearing a book on your wrist. That's just plain cool in my opinion.

No idea if you can buy this or not, but it is award winning. (And you can make your own!)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Book 7: The Secret Recipes

TITLE: The Secret Recipes: Unforgettable Dessert from the World’s Most Celebrated Bakery
AUTHOR: Dominique Ansel
STARTED: April 25, 2015
FINISHED: April 25, 2015
PAGES: 258
GENRE: Cookbook

FIRST SENTENCE: [From the Foreward] I am proud to contribute to Dominque's first book, not only as a former employer and longtime friend, but, more important, because I like to think we both share a special kinship as dreamers.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Dominique Ansel is the creator of the Cronut™, the croissant-doughnut hybrid that has taken the world by storm. But he’s no one-hit wonder. Classically trained in Paris, responsible for a four-star kitchen in New York, and now the proprietor of New York’s highest rated bakery, Ansel has become a modern-day Willy Wonka: the creator of wildly creative, extraordinarily delicious, and unbelievably popular desserts. Now, in his hotly anticipated debut cookbook, Ansel shares the secret to transforming the most humble ingredients into the most extraordinary, tempting, and satisfying pastries imaginable. Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes reveals the stories and recipes behind his most sought-after creations and teaches lovers of dessert everywhere how to make magic in their own kitchens.

THOUGHTS: I loved the structure of this book. It was a great blend of culinary technique, narrative stories, and recipes. The pictures are stunning. Too bad even the easy recipes are too complicated for my taste.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

Variations on a Theme: Armed Forces

Memorial Day was on Monday. It is a day to remember those who have donned a uniform and served this country. For this month's Variations on a Theme, I would like to share a list of books about members of the armed forces.

The Greatest Generation
Tom Brokaw

In this superb book, Tom Brokaw goes out into America, to tell through the stories of individual men and women the story of a generation, America's citizen heroes and heroines who came of age during the Great Depression and the Second World War and went on to build modern America. This generation was united not only by a common purpose, but also by common values--duty, honor, economy, courage, service, love of family and country, and, above all, responsibility for oneself. In this book, you will meet people whose everyday lives reveal how a generation persevered through war, and were trained by it, and then went on to create interesting and useful lives and the America we have today.

Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest
Stephen E. Ambrose

As good a rifle company as any in the world, Easy Company, 506th Airborne Division, U.S. Army, kept getting the tough assignements - responsible for everything from parachuting into France early D-Day morning to the capture of Hitler's Eagle's Nest at Berchtesgaden. In Band of Brothers, Ambrose tells of the men in this brave unit who fought, went hungry, froze, and died, a company that took 150 percent casualties and considered the Purple Heart a badge of office. Drawing on hours of interviews with survivors as well as the soldiers' journals and letters, Stephen Ambrose recounts the stories, often in the men's own words, of these American heroes.

Tim Hetherington

Infidel is an intimate portrait of a single U.S. platoon, assigned to an outpost in the Korengal Valley-an area considered one of the most dangerous Afghan postings in the war against the Taliban-but it is as much about love and male vulnerability as it is about bravery and war. Embedded with writer Sebastian Junger, and shooting over the course of one year, photographer Tim Hetherington made a series of images that prove surprisingly tender in their depiction of camaraderie and vulnerability (among the most moving is a series of the platoon sleeping). Alongside revealing interviews with Hetherington's subjects and an introduction by Junger (with whom Hetherington co-directed the award-winning film Restrepo, about the work of the battalion), the book is also illustrated with graphics of the tattoos the soldiers gave each other in the camp. The title Infidel is taken from the tattoo the men adopted as a badge of their comradeship. Warm, moving and full of humor, this book is a tribute to the "rough men ready to do violence on our behalf" and a provocative contribution to the documentation of war in our time.

Master of Chaos: The Secret History of the Special Forces
Linda Robinson

Special Forces soldiers are daring, seasoned troops from America's heartland, selected in a tough competition and trained in an extraordinary range of skills. They know foreign languages and cultures and unconventional warfare better than any U.S. fighters, and while they prefer to stay out of the limelight, veteran war correspondent Linda Robinson gained access to their closed world. She traveled with them on the frontlines, interviewed them at length on their home bases, and studied their doctrine, methods and history. In Masters of Chaos she tells their story through a select group of senior sergeants and field-grade officers, a band of unforgettable characters like Rawhide, Killer, Michael T, and Alan -- led by the unflappable Lt. Col. Chris Conner and Col. Charlie Cleveland, a brilliant but self-effacing West Pointer who led the largest unconventional war campaign since Vietnam in northern Iraq. Robinson follows the Special Forces from their first post-Vietnam combat in Panama, El Salvador, Desert Storm, Somalia, and the Balkans to their recent trials and triumphs in Afghanistan and Iraq. She witnessed their secret sleuthing and unsung successes in southern Iraq, and recounts here for the first time the dramatic firefights of the western desert. Her blow-by-blow story of the attack on Ansar al-Islam's international terrorist training camp has never been told before. The most comprehensive account ever of the modern-day Special Forces in action, Masters of Chaos is filled with riveting, intimate detail in the words of a close-knit band of soldiers who have done it all.

Robert D. Kaplan

A fascinating, unprecedented first-hand look at the soldiers on the front lines on the Global War on Terror. Plunging deep into midst of some of the hottest conflicts on the globe, Robert D. Kaplan takes us through mud and jungle, desert and dirt to the men and women on the ground who are leading the charge against threats to American security. These soldiers, fighting in thick Colombian jungles or on dusty Afghani plains, are the forefront of the new American foreign policy, a policy being implemented one soldier at a time. As Kaplan brings us inside their thoughts, feelings, and operations, these modern grunts provide insight and understanding into the War on Terror, bringing the war, which sometimes seems so distant, vividly to life.

Richard Rubin

In 2003, 85 years after the end of World War I, Richard Rubin set out to see if he could still find and talk to someone who had actually served in the American Expeditionary Forces during that colossal conflict. Ultimately, he found dozens, aged 101 to 113, from Cape Cod to Carson City, who shared with him at the last possible moment their stories of America’s Great War. Nineteenth-century men and women living in the twenty-first century, they were self-reliant, humble, and stoic, never complaining, but still marveling at the immensity of the war they helped win, and the complexity of the world they helped create. Though America has largely forgotten their war, you will never forget them, or their stories. A decade in the making, The Last of the Doughboys is the most sweeping look at America’s First World War in a generation, a glorious reminder of the tremendously important role America played in the war to end all wars, as well as a moving meditation on character, grace, aging, and memory.

Other Armed Forces Books
13 Soldiers - John McCain and Mark Salter
365 Days - Ronald J. Glasser
American Sniper - Chris Kyle
Five Came Back - Mark Harris
Flags of Our Fathers - James Bradley
Flyboys - James Bradley
For Love of Country - Howard Schultz and Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Helmet for My Pillow - Robert Leckie
Navy Seals - Dick Couch and William Doyle
Thank You For Your Service - David Finkel

Links and Stuff: May 28, 2015

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Why I Love... A Stack on My Nightstand

A few weeks ago, I visited the library for the first time in months. MONTHS! I went in empty handed, and came out with three books to read. It felt great to finally visit my new-to-me local library. Now, I have a small stack of books on my nightstand.

Normally, I am the type of person who hates having things waiting for me. I clean up piles of stuff and plow through to do lists simply to great clean, fresh surfaces and new sheets of paper.  My productivity is motivated by "Ah! Clean this mess!" So, you'd think the pile of books on my nightstand would give me the drive to read, read, read. It doesn't. In fact, I find that the pile leads me to savor the book I have in my hand. For some reason, I am able to enjoy reading more when I know I have a book or two on deck. The physical pile on my nightstand is simply a reminder that there are more good things to come.

Book 6: Shadows in the Vineyard

TITLE: Shadows in the Vineyard: The True Story of the Plot to Poison the World's Greatest Wine
AUTHOR: Maximillian Potter
STARTED: April 13, 2015
FINISHED: April 25, 2015
PAGES: 289
GENRE: Non-Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: The sun over Burgundy's seemingly endless expanse of richly green vineyards belonged to late summer.

SUMMARY: [From BN] In January 2010, Aubert de Villaine, the famed proprietor of the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, the tiny, storied vineyard that produces the most expensive, exquisite wines in the world, received an anonymous note threatening the destruction of his priceless vines by poison-a crime that in the world of high-end wine is akin to murder-unless he paid a one million euro ransom. Villaine believed it to be a sick joke, but that proved a fatal miscalculation and the crime shocked this fabled region of France. The sinister story that Vanity Fair journalist Maximillian Potter uncovered would lead to a sting operation by some of France's top detectives, the primary suspect's suicide, and a dramatic investigation. This botanical crime threatened to destroy the fiercely traditional culture surrounding the world's greatest wine.

THOUGHTS: I started reading this book thinking, "YES BRING ON THE CONSPIRACY." By the end, the mystery kinda has no point, but the book is still an excellent read. The whole threat is just a wonderful set-up to showcase the history of this world-renowned French vineyard.

Potter's writing style is very descriptive and eloquent. He vividly shows the land, the people, and the wine is such great detail that I could feel the terroir between my toes. Potter has a wonderful way of bringing out the character of the people he covers in this book.

Additionally, the whole book is wonderfully paced. It bounces between modern day and history, building and building the story to the mystery. And, when the mystery is solved, even though it is not as you might expect, the book still feels complete. The pay off is not what I thought it would be, but I was not disappointed.

I would not be surprised if this was turned into a movie. Also, I want to go back to France.

RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]

Monday, May 25, 2015

Book 5: The Battle of Mogadishu

TITLE: The Battle of Mogadishu: Firsthand Accounts From the Men of Task Force Ranger
AUTHOR: Matt Eversmann and Dan Schilling (eds.)
STARTED: April 1, 2015
FINISHED: April 12, 2015
PAGES: 221
GENRE: Non-Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: [From Mark Bowden's Forward] Matt Eversmann was the first serious interview I had for my book Black Hawk Down.

SUMMARY: [From BN] It started as a mission to capture a Somali warlord. It turned into a disastrous urban firefight and death-defying rescue operation that shocked the world and rattled a great nation. Now the 1993 battle for Mogadishu, Somalia–the incident that was the basis of the book and film Black Hawk Down–is remembered by the men who fought and survived it. Six of the best in our military recall their brutal experiences and brave contributions in these never-before-published, first-person accounts.

THOUGHTS: It's not every day that I stare at my bookcase and think, "You know what I could really go for right now? A military memoir." But that feeling did strike me, so I grabbed this out of my collection. It's not the best book in the world (military men have a very distinctive way of talking/writing), but it did hit the spot. I've always been fascinated by the Battle of Mogadishu, so it was very interesting to see the personal the stories of some of the people who lived through the incident. I was a bit bummed that the collected essays were mainly narratives and not more introspective or analytical, but it was still interesting to read.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

Sunday, May 24, 2015

What I Read This Week: May 24, 2015

The operating system on the computers at work were finally upgraded from Windows XP to Windows 7. It took our tech guy half a day to transfer, update, and reconfigure everything I use. I use Windows 7 at home, so I know how the system works, but it still took me almost a full day to organize my transferred files and set up all the programs just as I like them. Thank goodness it's summer and the rest of my projects are running smoothly.

Also, The Husband was on staycation all week. I came home to freshly folded laundry, delicious dinners, and walks around our neighborhood. It was spectacular. Now I'm, bummed that he'll be going back to his crazy work hours next week. Sad face.
  • Work
    • I flipped through the May 2015 issue of College and Research Libraries News. I only stopped to read the article on an innovative way to collect reference questions.
  • Magazines
    • Food Network, May 2015 - I was going to love this issue, no matter what was inside, since there was a cupcake on the cover. Luckily for me, the issue was as delicious as promised. The cupcake piece contained some create recipes along with some baking tips. I also enjoyed the editorial on colorful kitchens, along with the behind the scenes look at the set of Guy's Grocery Games. Now that is a store I want to shop in. The attention to detail is amazing. Finally, I pulled a few recipes to try later; a few came out of the pasta dinners section.
    • Food Network, June 2015 - I read this immediately after I finished the May issue, so it was a touch of a let down. June was Hollywood themed, so it was just meh for me. I did enjoy the tidbits I learned about popcorn and what the stars like to eat, but otherwise, *toss*. 
    • Washingtonian, May 2015 - As a person who loves to walk everywhere, this issue was perfect. I read every word of the Washington walks article, and I filed away several ideas to try later. Next up: Kevin Spacey. The Husband and I watch House of Cards, so I found this story about Spacey, the man to be very interesting. I read the rest of the issue enjoying the usual neighborhood and restaurant insights, but nothing else particularly caught my eye.
  • Books
    • I'm a few chapters into my new read, The Sweet Life in Paris. So far it's a nice mix of (slightly stereotypical and judgy) insights about Parisians and recipes. Now I want to go back to that glorious city and eat all the things. ALL THE THINGS!
  • Other

Friday, May 22, 2015

Book 4: Symbiont

TITLE: Symbiont
AUTHOR: Mira Grant
STARTED: March 11, 2015
FINISHED: March 30, 2015
PAGES: 528
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: The recording is substandard, clearly done on a cellular telephone or cheap tablet, rather than any form of professional camera.

SUMMARY: [From BN] The SymboGen designed tapeworms were created to relieve humanity of disease and sickness. But the implants in the majority of the world's population began attacking their hosts, turning them into a ravenous horde.

Now those who do not appear to be afflicted are being gathered for quarantine as panic spreads, but Sal and her companions must discover how the tapeworms are taking over their hosts, what their eventual goal is, and how they can be stopped.

THOUGHTS: Mira Grant basically writes the same story over and over again, but it works. This novel was highly predictable, and even two months later, I can still remember the entire plot. So, even though it's predictable, it's enjoyable. The story is well paced and the plot dramatic, but it's meh otherwise.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

The Friday Find: Clip It

These hair clip is one of the most adorable things I have seen.

You can buy this from PinsWithPersonality on Etsy.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Seen on the Metro: Cozy Reader

I love it when I see people not reading books stereotyped for other demographics. Last week, on my commute home, I saw an older, white haired and gray mustacheoed gentleman reading a cozy romance novel. While I could not see the title, it was a Debbie MacComber.

I have now seen this gentleman on the metro twice in about a week. The first time I saw him, he was just starting this book. Yesterday, he was nearly done.

I hope he enjoyed his book.

Links and Stuff: May 21, 2015

Sunday, May 17, 2015

What I Read This Week: May 17, 2015

I got nothing. I'm searching my brain for something to write here, but I got nothing. Straight to the reading then!
  • Work
    • I finally worked my way through the pile of reading I collected while at Computers in Libraries. Most of the stuff I just skimmed, but I did read an article about digitizing material in the March/April 2015 issue of Online Searcher. It was a nice introduction to the kinds of projects my library might be attempting soon.
  • Magazines
    • The Atlantic, May 2015 - I was mostly unimpressed by this issue. Aside from the cover article on Starbucks and college, I mostly went "eh" while reading the stories. I guess not every issue of your favorite magazine has to be a winner.
  • Books
    • I finished reading The One and Only. I didn't "like" it but I didn't not like it. It's a weird sort of feeling that I kind of love. Now I need to track down another book to read, and I have no idea what I am in the mood for.
  • Other
    • I continued to read The New York Times feature articles about nail salons. The piece about the health effects was particularly disturbing.
    • In last Sunday's WaPo Magazine, there was a feature article on a woman who conserves textiles. It was right up my alley.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Friday Find: And Cheese

Here is a snack delivering device that every bookclub needs.
Looking at this picture makes me want cheese. You can find this board on Uncommon Goods.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Links and Stuff: May 14, 2015

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Why I Love... Bad Page Turners

The book I am reading now is not good, but I can't stop staying up late to read it. I have serious issues with the plot, the characters, and the writing style, but I am absolutely absorbed in the story. Sometimes, a bad book just hits you the right way and you can't stop reading.

I've had this sensation happen with many genres of books, but fiction (and "chick lit") seem to do the best job of keeping me wanting more. If the story is good and hits you in the right feels, it doesn't matter if the book is technically bad. Sometimes bad books are the best reads. It's all about pacing and mood. High drama works best for me, but sometime even subtler stories will trigger a feeling of OMG CAN'T STOP READING. I think this happens for the same reason we all "hate watch" things on television. You know it's not good, but you just can't wait to find out where the whole story is going.

I'll probably finish the book off this weekend, and I am a little bummed by that. It's been a delightfully, easy to read book, and I don't think the next book I pick up will be able to hold my attention as well.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

What I Read This Week: May 10, 2015

Somehow, I spent most of my week trying to clear out my Feedly reader. Every time I thought I was about to catch up, BAM, a whole new influx of great things to read. While this left little time for other reading, it did mean that I had something to distract myself with while watching Caps playoff hockey.
  • Books
    • I managed to read a rather large chunk of One and Only. It's not a good book, per se, but it is one of those books that is just plain readable. I can't tell if I've been staying up late to read the book because it is good, or if it's just a nice distraction from it being too hot to sleep.
  • Other
    • Several people posted about The New York Times article on human expense of cheap manicures. I decided to print it out to read on my commute. The story was upsetting and has me questioning if I should treat myself to mani-pedis as often as I do.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Links and Stuff: May 7, 2015

Sunday, May 03, 2015

What I Read This Week: May 3, 2015

I spent the first three days of this week at Computers in Libraries. It was awesome, but the conference hangover meant I got very little reading done.
  • Magazines
    • National Geographic, May 2015 - Can I go swimming with dolphins now? The cover article on them was amazing. I also enjoyed the pieces on the resurgence in Detroit and the fight to save the honeybees. When I first stared the piece on walking The Way, I thought it would be something I would forward to my friends who made that walk, but it was a rather short piece - pretty pictures though.
  • Books
    • I read just a few pages of One and Only. I kept falling asleep.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Seen on the Metro: Arch

Yesterday, during my morning commute, a tousle haired man sat down next to me. He was wearing a chunky white, cable-knit sweater and faded blue jeans. Out of his olive colored messenger bag, he pulled out a book about architecture. It took a few sideways glances before I was able to see the complete title: Classical Architecture and the Poetics of Order.

I thought he might be a student at my University. We have an architecture program, and i have seen this book used in classes. Alas, he did not disembark at my stop and we went our separate ways.

The Friday Find: Flouncy

This week I went searching for a flouncy dress to post. The weather people tell me it is going to be finally be warm next week, so I sought out something I would want to wear in such weather.

I kind of want this dress. And, oh yes, there would be twirling.

Buy it here.