Thursday, May 25, 2017

Variations on a Theme: Coloring

I love coloring. I even hosted a girly coloring event not to long ago. Coloring is great because it's both mindless and mindful. I can zone out with my Prismacolors while watching TV or chatting with friends. I don't get to do as much coloring as I like, but when I do have a few hours to devote to this awesome hobby, I'm happy every minute.

If you love this trend as much as I do, then you'll enjoy that this month's Variations on a Theme is a collection of literary adult coloring books.


Pride and Prejudice: A Coloring Classic
Chellie Carroll

Fall in love all over again with Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in this wonderful coloring book featuring beautifully intricate patterns and details, classic quotations, and iconic scenes to color in. Includes a fascinating guide to the Victorian language of flowers and a gorgeous foiled cover.




The Official Outlander Coloring Book
Diana Gabaldon

From the lush green of the Scottish Highlands to the military red of a British soldier’s coat or the vibrant hues of a tartan kilt, the colorful world of Claire Beauchamp Randall and Jamie Fraser is now yours to explore. Featuring gorgeous natural landscapes, detailed drawings of Claire’s medicinal herbs, depictions of the books’ most beloved scenes and characters, and intricately rendered clothing, weapons, and armor straight out of eighteenth-century Scotland, these exquisite black-and-white images—from renowned illustrators Juan Alarcón, Yvonne Gilbert, Craig Phillips, Jon Proctor, Tomislav Tomić, and Rebecca Zomchek—are designed to dazzle and inspire. Fans of the series, as well as lovers of history and art, can party like it’s 1743.
Harry Potter: The Coloring Book #1
Scholastic

Unleash your creativity and escape to one of the most beloved series of all time. From the heraldry of the four Hogwarts houses to the extravagant wares of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, the world of Harry Potter overflows with radiant color. Filled with intricate illustrations and elaborate designs used in the making of the Harry Potter films, this book invites you to imbue the wizarding world with color in your own explorations of Hogwarts Castle, the Forbidden Forest, and much more. You will also find pages of magical creatures and iconic scenes from the films, from the Sorting Ceremony in Harry's first year, to the unforgettable final battle between Harry and Lord Voldemort, as well as some of the marvelous props used in the movies, such as The Quibbler, Quidditch World Cup posters, and the Triwizard Cup. Also includes sixteen pages of full-color art from the movies to inspire you as you draw.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Magical Characters and Places Coloring Book
HarperCollins

Explore Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in this intricately illustrated black & white gallery of characters and scenes from the film and designs used in its making, which is officially licensed by Warner Bros. Consumer Products. From the bustling city streets and buildings of a vibrant 1926 New York, to Tina and Queenie’s apartment and the wonders of MACUSA, this book invites you to color your way through the adventure – even from inside Newt’s case! You will also find numerous props and artifacts inside, including wands, signs and symbols, and maybe even a fantastic beast.

Renia Metallinou and Bethan Fanine

Bring to life the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet in this wonderfully romantic coloring book. Beautifully detailed linework combines with iconic quotations to perfectly capture the passion and tragedy of literature's greatest pair of star-crossed lovers. Features a gorgeous foiled cover!




Odessa Begay

Dive into the macabre, mysterious world of Edgar Allan Poe’s chilling tales with popular coloring book artist Odessa Begay (Little Birds). Inspired by Poe’s beloved stories, Begay has created images that reference settings, motifs, and details that fans will recognize.



Other Coloring Books
A Christmas Carol: A Coloring Classic - Charles Dickens
Classic Coloring: Jane Austen - Abrams Noterie and Anita Rundles
Color the Classics: Anne of Green Gables - Jae-Eun Lee
Dracula: A Coloring Classic - Chellie Carroll
The Princess Bride: A Storybook of Color - Rachel Curtis
Wonderland: A Coloring Book Inspired by Alice's Adventures - Amily Shen
The World of Debbie Macomber - Debbie Macomber

Links and Stuff: May 25, 2017

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Why I Love... Taking a Break

The last (!) book on my library waiting list is currently available for me to pick-up. After I finish reading it, I plan on taking a break on reading books for a bit. Normally, I always have one (sometimes two) books going at a time. But, I'm taking a break. I have not lost my reading groove but, instead, I'm taking a break from books sometimes to deal with other things on my nightstand.

In this case, I have an epic pile of magazines I want to read. As you know from my What I Read This Week series, I subscribe to several magazine titles. Most of these I can get through the week they arrive, but some titles (namely, The Atlantic, National Geographic, and Washingtonian) I like to read cover-to-cover. The article are great but they are also long, so it's hard to concentrate on the stories unless I devote my full attention to them. The pile has been growing steadily for months and I've decided, instead of feeling like this is hanging over my while I read my books, I'm going to swap my book reading for magazine reading.

The best thing about reading books is that they will always be there. This pause is not forever and, when I pick up my next back, I can fall right back into my habits without feeling like I have something else hanging over me. 

YouTube Tuesday: Big Time Scanning

Sunday, May 21, 2017

What I Read This Week: May 21, 2017

I really need to catch up on my magazine backlog. It's been easy to keep up with the casual, picture-filled titles, but I have at least a three month backlog of Washingtonian and Real Simple. Methinks I need to focus on reading those as soon as I've finished with my library books...

  • Magazines
    • Food Network, June 2017 - The summer issues are such teases. So many things to grill and we have not an outdoor grill to have. A grill pan just isn't the same. (C'est la vie.) The bulk of this issue was summer food but I really liked the piece on lemonade stand stuff. It was just a really cute idea. The potato salads were also tasty looking. I <3 li="" nbsp="" potatoes.="">
    • Cooking Light, May 2017 - This issue was all about vegetables. That means it was right up my alley. The Husband and I try to eat vegetarian at least one day a week, and I keep adding meals to our rotation that means we eat vegetarian even more than that. Veggies are just super tasty! I saved several recipes in this issue to give a whirl in the future. I
      particularly liked the recipes in the pizza and Mexican vegetarian sections of this issue. I also loved the story of the son recounting his mother's rhubarb-apple crisp. It might have made me sniffle a bit. Finally, I thought the tips in the "how to waste less produce" article were very doable. I'm going to try to put a few to use in my life.
    • National Geographic, May 2017 - This issue's cover story focused on genius - what it is and why we call some people geniuses (white men) and not others (cause we're biased). It delved into the science which was really interesting but also explored the nurture side of things. I was also stunned by the article on the conflicts in the Central African Republic. I had
      zero clue that was happening. I thought the article on Scotland's moors was a new take on rewilding. Finally, the article on Akhetaten fed my love of all things ancient Egypt.
  • Books
    • I'm about a third of the way through Dear Data. I thought this would be a fast read since it's mainly images of postcards, but the data is dense and really interesting to dive into.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Friday Find: Rock Out!

For some reason, I really wanted to post a rocking chair this week. It took me a lot of searching before I finally found a rocking chair that screamed, "You want to read in me!"


You can find this lovely thing at Pottery Barn Kids (in other colors too!).

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Links and Stuff: May 18, 2017

From All You Need is a Wall

Sunday, May 14, 2017

What I Read This Week: May 14, 2017

My hockey team lost in Game 7. It rained a lot at the end of the week and I got soaked. Work was kind of crazy. One of my favorite coworkers is leaving. Can I hibernate for a few hours?

That said, it wasn't all bad this week. I got to try some new recipes (I even made buttermilk rolls from scratch) and they were fairly tasty. Another book I placed on hold at the library came in. The Husband and I successfully adulted with all of our errands. And... I get to call my mommy today. That's always a good thing.

It's all about balance.

  • Magazines
    • The Atlantic, May 2017 - The cover story of this issue was fine. It was an interesting read, but I thought the associated story on how smugness might have fueled trump's rise was far more important. Additionally, I thought the article on how online shopping is bringing back pricing wars might be worth exploring further. Finally, the article on how incentives are tricking people into saving money introduced me to something I had never seen before.
  • Books
    • I finished The Truth About Alice in the middle of the week. I love how fast young adult books seem to go. 
    • On Friday, my most recent library hold Dear Data came in. I'm only a few pages in, but I kind of love this book already.
  • Other
    • Buzzfeed posted a great read on what it's like to trek to the Everest base camp. The article doesn't idealize the hike, it shows the harsh (and often gross) reality of what it's like to be at altitude. This piece is not for the squeamish. 
    • It's Mother's Day, so I definitely have to recommend this NYT article on mother's before they became moms.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Book 8: 365: No Repeats

TITLE: 365: No Repeats - A Year of Deliciously Different Dinners
AUTHOR: Rachael Ray
STARTED: April 29, 2017
FINISHED: April 29, 2017
PAGES: 326
GENRE: Cookbook

FIRST SENTENCE: I don't know what my total lifetime limit is for new recipes, but 365 is definitely this cook's limit for one book.

SUMMARY: [From BN]  Even your favorite dinner can lose its appeal when it’s in constant rotation, so mix it up! With her largest collection of recipes yet, Food Network’s indefatigable cook Rachael Ray guarantees you’ll be able to put something fresh and exciting on your dinner table every night for a full year... without a single repeat! Based on the original 30-Minute Meal cooking classes that started it all, these recipes prove that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every night. Rachael offers dozens of recipes that, once mastered, can become entirely new dishes with just a few ingredient swaps. Learn how to make a Southwestern Pasta Bake and you’ll be able to make a Smoky Chipotle Chili Con Queso Mac the next time. Try your hand at Spring Chicken with Leeks and Peas and you’re all set to turn out a rib-sticking Rice and Chicken Stoup that looks and tastes like an entirely different dish. As a best-selling cookbook author and host of three top-rated Food Network shows, Rachael Ray believes that both cooking and eating should be fun. Drawing from her own favorite dishes as well as those of her family, friends, and celebrities, she covers the flavor spectrum from Asian to Italian and dozens of delicious stops in between. Best of all, these flavor-packed dishes will satisfy your every craving and renew your taste for cooking. With so many delicious entrees to choose from you’ll never have an excuse for being in a cooking rut again.

THOUGHTS: I did not like this cookbook all that much and it was mainly due to formatting. The colors used in the text were glaring. They were hard to read and just looked awkward. And the text itself, there was a lot of it. I prefer my cookbooks to have a few more pictures. Not everything needs a picture, but I need more than all the text I got.

As for the recipes themselves, if I'm being honest, they didn't really grab me. I can't tell you why. Maybe I couldn't get past the formatting, but nothing in this book jumped out and said, "Make me!"

RATING: 5/10 [meh]

The Friday Find: Traveler Bag

I've been a National Geographic subscriber for several years. I love the magazine, but I also love their shopping catalog. It's always full of things that make me want to travel the world. This week's find is one of their tote bags. It's designed for photographers, but doesn't look perfect for a library trip as well?

You can find this online at the National Geographic store.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Links and Stuff: May 11, 2017

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Why I Love... Reading as a Sports Stress Relief

Tonight, my Washington Capitals play in Game 7 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Husband and I have watched every game in the playoffs, but this series is the most important. The Penguins have been our second round kryptonite. They are one of our biggest rivals who always seem to find our weak spots. The Caps never seem to be able to close out playoff games even when they have dominated in puck possession and drives to the net.

Watching the Caps play is stressful enough on a normal day (they ain't the cardiac Caps for nothing) but Game 7 just makes it... well...


To cope, I tend to multitask. That way, I am only half-focusing on the game. It's an imperfect way to keep my heart-rate in check. Lately, I've been listening to podcasts during tee game to drown out the announcers. Usually, however, I turn to reading. Instead of watching the game, I will read whatever looks good at the moment - my book, a magazine, something on the web. This offers enough distraction from the game but still allows me to look up from time-to-time when something good (or bad) happens.

Reading is a great sports stress reliever because it lets me skip-out for a bit on whatever is bugging me. It's involving enough to get my mind of the game without causing me to miss all the big plays.


Book 7: Fangirl

TITLE: Fangirl
AUTHOR: Rainbow Rowell
STARTED: April 29, 2017
FINISHED: April 29, 2017
PAGES: 438
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: There was a boy in her room.

SUMMARY: [From BN] In Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life-and she's really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it's what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. Cath's sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can't let go. She doesn't want to. Now that they're going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn't want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She's got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone. For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

THOUGHTS: I can't pinpoint exactly why this book makes me squee with delight, but it did. The characters were just so really that I feel like I knew them. I was with them from the start and could not wait to see where they head. That feeling went for ALL the characters - the characters in the main story, the characters in Simon Snow stories, and the characters in the Snow fic. I was with them all the way. Rowell crafted multiple worlds for this book and all of them are a success.

This book took me back to my days in college. I read a hell of a lot of fan fiction in high school and college (I even dabbled in writing a few Gilmore Girls stories myself - lord knows where those ended up on the web) so this world was immensely nostalgic for me. All the details are right and the writing is descriptive without being flowery.

There is nothing challenging or exceptional about this book. It's just a very good story with characters who feel like real people.

RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]

Monday, May 08, 2017

Book 6: Bake It, Don't Fake It

TITLE: Bake It, Don't Fake It! A Pastry Chef Shares Her Secrets for Impressive (and Easy) From-Scratch Desserts
AUTHOR: Heather Bertinetti
STARTED: April 29, 2017
FINISHED: April 29, 2017
PAGES: 208
GENRE: Cookbook

FIRST SENTENCE: I think it's very rare to actually grow up to be what you always said you wanted to be when you were a kid.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Looking to impress your friends and family with decadent desserts but afraid you lack the skills to pull it off? Are you reaching for that packaged cake mix and can of frosting instead of whipping something up from scratch? Fear no longer— we’ve got the fix for you. Heather Bertinetti, a talented pastry chef with years of experience in Manhattan’s top eateries, is sharing her insider tips for how to make restaurant-worthy desserts right in your very own kitchen. Bake It, Don't Fake It! is filled with recipes perfect for the home cook, such as Bourbon- Chocolate Pecan Pie, Strawberry Daiquiri Truffles, Red Velvet Macarons, and PB&J Whoopie Pies. Once you learn the whys and why nots of baking, you’ll be able to get creative and give all of your favorite treats a special touch. As an added bonus, you’ll find Heather’s “Chef It Up!” tips throughout the book, where Heather reveals her tricks for giving homemade desserts the wow presentation factor. All of the equipment you’ll need is probably already in your kitchen and all of the ingredients are readily available in your local supermarket, so it’s time to get baking!

THOUGHTS: I should first point out that the author of this book is The Husband's cousin. Familial ties aside, this is a great cookbook. First, it does exactly what it sets out to do. The recipes are written for a novice baker so they are easy to follow and understand. Jargon is well-defined and special equipment is noted up front. Second, it includes well-formatted and helpful tips that I have not seen in a cookbook before. Third, the option to "Chef It Up" will keep experienced bakers happy and can offer a chance for new bakers to grow their skills. Fourth, this book is the perfect crash course in pastry. I love that it includes essential recipes and offers spin-offs to show you how baking works through variation and experimentation. Lastly, all of the recipes look tasty and seem achievable - even for a novice in the kitchen.

RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]

Sunday, May 07, 2017

What I Read This Week: May 7, 2017

Where in the heck did this week go? I blinked and it was over. Not quite sure how that happened...
  • Work
    • I managed to finish a few chapters of Digital Preservation this week. While the majority of this book is great, I've noticed that some of the examples are already outdated. Why does technology have to move so fast?
  • Books
    • I finished The Woman in Cabin 10 rather quickly because I just needed to know what happens. I rarely read thrillers so I devoured this. 
    • I started reading The Truth About Alice as soon as I picked it up from the library. I have a feeling this book is going to make me cranky because of the subject matter.

Friday, May 05, 2017

The Friday Find: Nook

I was curious about what I would find if I searched "reading nook" in Etsy. The results were a mix of teepees, pillows, bookcases, and art. Everything looked like an excellent part of a cozy reading nook, but I was most drawn to this floor pillow bench. It's kid-sized but I kind of want one for myself.


You can buy this in the GratefulHome shop.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Links and Stuff: May 4, 2017


Finally, I'm adding this story about hip-hoppers dropping a beat on Llama Llama as a special selection because it is my favorite thing on the internet today.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Book 5: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

TITLE: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
AUTHOR: Jules Verne
STARTED: February 20, 2017
FINISHED: April 29, 2017
PAGES: 499
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: [From the preface] Many of Jules Verne's novels involve the sea: adventures on remote islands, voyages in quest of people and places, and the exploration of its depts in Vingt mille lieues sous les mers.

[From the novel] The year 1866 was marked by a strange incident, an unexplained and inexplicable phenomenon, which doubtless no one has yet forgotten.

SUMMARY: [From BN] An American frigate, tracking down a ship-sinking monster, faces not a living creature but an incredible invention — a fantastic submarine commanded by the mysterious Captain Nemo. Suddenly a devastating explosion leaves just three survivors, who find themselves prisoners inside Nemo's death ship on an underwater odyssey around the world from the pearl-laden waters of Ceylon to the icy dangers of the South Pole . . .as Captain Nemo, one of the greatest villians ever created, takes his revenge on all society. More than a marvelously thrilling drama, this classic novel, written in 1870, foretells with uncanny accuracy the inventions and advanced technology of the twentieth century and has become a literary stepping-stone for generations of science fiction writers.

THOUGHTS: This book was enjoyable and easy to read, but it took me forever to finish. First, I did bother to read the introductory material about Verne, his life, and his writing. The essay was long and the footnotes were many - but I loved the context that gave the story. Second, this was an annotated version so there were footnotes in the actual narrative as well. I read them too.

But what about the story itself?

I was not reading this to see any illusions or to better understand Verne's version of sci-fi. I read this book for the story itself, and I thought it was really good. Verne's narrative is high-interest adventure mixed with science. It was thrilling to see all the places he took his characters. The author infuses large amounts of actual science which made the story all that more believable.

In addition to the story, Verne's writing style (possibly aided by a good translation) is incredibly detailed in vivid. One of my favorite scenes in the book is when the Nautilus in trapped in the arctic ice and the crew is suffocating. I actually found myself holding my breath and panting along with the characters.

The only reason I don't give this book a more glowing review is because all of the non-main characters are set-pieces and they read as such. There's no emotional connection or anything, so all the crew feel like theatre props.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

YouTube Tuesday: Adult Coloring Books



I know that the adult coloring trend is no longer the fad it once was... but I still love and it I think this video is really interesting.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Seen on the Metro: Rapid Reader

Last week, the DC metro was on fire. (Nothing unusual there, sadly.) I planned on leaving my apartment later than usual because I had a dentist appointment. When I got the alerts, I considered my options and opted to take a circuitous route to the dentist - it involved going the opposite direction on the train and then taking a bus to my final destination.

When I hopped on the train, a rather tall, dapperly-dressed gentleman was right behind me. He ended up sitting in the seat across from me. As the train got moving, he removed an older looking book from his backpack. It was hardcover with an embossed illustration of a middle eastern looking city. These days, I mainly see e-books and paperbacks on the train. It was a nice change of pace to see something a bit more classic. 

Above the illustration was the title, City of Thieves. A quick search online tells me there are a lot of books by this title. I was unable to find a copy of this particular edition so I can't tell you what the book is about but it must have been enjoyable. My fellow commuter was flying through the pages and barely seemed to notice that our ride was rather herky-jerky.

We both detrained at Bethesda station and, while I walked up the escalator, I noticed our reader still reading as he rode the stairs out of the station. He looked about halfway through the book when I saw him. At the pace he was reading, I assume he has long since moved on to another title.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Readathon Wrap-Up

By my account, yesterday's readathon was a great success. I read from 8:00am until 12:36am. If I didn't have an event planned for today, I would have kept going because The Woman in Cabin 10 is just that good.

I finished reading:

  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  • Bake It, Don't Fake It! by Heather Bertinetti
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • 365: No Repeats by Rachael Ray
  • The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware (Just over half)
I read 1,236 pages which leads to a $61.80 donation to First Book. Since I love kids getting books, I am going to round that up to $75.

An excellent day! See you all at the next readathon in October!


What I Read This Week: April 30, 2017

This was one of those weeks that just drains you. There was a lot going on at work and the dreary weather at the start of the week did not help my mood. Thank goodness I had yesterday's readathon to look forward to. Sure it keeps me from my usual Saturday sleeping-in, but I love having the excuse to read all day. It's rather healing to my soul right now.
  • Magazines
    • National Geographic, April 2017 - Cyborgs and robotics are not my favorite subjects, but the cover story on the interaction between human and machine was really interesting. It speaks to the science need to advance as a species. In this issue, I also enjoyed the articles on what was like surviving under ISIS and the grass-eating monkeys of Africa. The spread on climate change facts was just depressing because I don't see humanity doing anything about it any time soon.
  • Books
    • Readathon was yesterday. Here are the books I managed to finish before I went to bed:
      • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (Finally!)
      • Bake It, Don't Fake It! by Heather Bertinetti
      • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
      • 365: No Repeats by Rachael Ray
    • I also managed to put a very big dent in The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware.
  • Other
    • I read a lot of stories about the March for Science, but one of my favorites was this WaPo piece on Bill Nye. Bill! Bill! Bill!
    • Article club was this week! We skipped our last meeting so we had two articles to discuss. The article for March was about busyness as a status symbol and the article for April was about millennial co-living spaces.
    • I'm trying to clean out the backlog of articles I've emailed to myself. I managed to get through quite a few this week and these are the ones I found the most intriguing:

Readathon Check-In The Eighth and the Last

CURRENTLY READING: I have crossed the halfway mark in The Woman in Cabin 10.


THOUGHTS?: This book is quite the good mystery, but it is time for me to go to bed.

SNACKS AND STUFF: Nothing but water.

PAGES READ SINCE LAST CHECK-IN: 175
PAGES READ TOTAL: 1,236

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Readathon Check-In The Seventh

CURRENTLY READING: I'm about to dive in to The Woman in Cabin 10.

THOUGHTS?: The Rachael Ray cookbook was fine, but I'm glad I get to move on to something else. Something about the colors they used in Ray's cookbook was just hard to read. It was distracting.


SNACKS AND STUFF: I did some damage to the pad thai I ordered, but there was a large amount left for leftovers. I know what I'll be eating for lunch at work on Monday.

PAGES READ SINCE LAST CHECK-IN: 324
PAGES READ TOTAL: 1,061 (I love it when I cross over into four digits during readathon.)

Readathon Check-In The Sixth

CURRENTLY READING: I just finished Fangirl.

THOUGHTS?: ZOMG this book was so addictive! I can't articulate right now why it was so awesome, but I actually upset when the food delivery arrived when I had just 10 pages left.

SNACKS AND STUFF: As soon as I finished the book, I scarfed down the garden roll portion of my Thai takeout order. I'm about to dig in to the tofu and veggie pad thai.


PAGES READ SINCE LAST CHECK-IN: 184
PAGES READ TOTAL: 737

Readathon Check-In The Fifth

CURRENTLY READING: I'm just over halfway through Fangirl.


THOUGHTS?: I am not a fast reader. Not at all. That is driving me batty right now because this book is so good that I just want to know what happens next. READ FASTER BRAIN!

SNACKS AND STUFF: I nibbled on the lunch spread for a few hours, but the leftovers have been packed way so that I can get hungry for dinner. I think I shall be ordering Thai...

PAGES READ SINCE LAST CHECK-IN: 113
PAGES READ TOTAL: 553

Readathon Check-In The Fourth

CURRENTLY READING: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

THOUGHTS?: I am loving this book. I can see why so many people recommend and love it. The characters are great and I can't wait to find out what happens on the next page. It's a fairly thick book but it moves quickly.

SNACKS AND STUFF: I have been attacking the lunch spread. No cucumber will be spared!


PAGES READ SINCE LAST CHECK-IN: 141
PAGES READ TOTAL: 440

Readathon Check-In The Third

CURRENTLY READING: I finished Bake It, Don't Fake It and will be starting Fangirl shortly.


THOUGHTS?: This was one of the better baking goods I've read. It was well-organized, easy to understand, and included great tips you don't normally see. I loved most of the sweet recipes but I am really jonesing to make these savory scones below. They look so good!


SNACKS AND STUFF: Just coffee.

PAGES READ SINCE LAST CHECK-IN: 208
PAGES READ TOTAL: 299

Readathon Check-In The Second

CURRENTLY READING: I just finished up 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and I am about to start Bake It, Don't Fake It! by Heather Berinetti... who happens to be The Husband's cousin.

THOUGHTS?: I am sooooo happy that I finally finished 20,000 Leagues. I have been reading it for weeks. I loved being able to finish it in one bug chunk. It make the reading all that more enjoyable.

SNACKS AND STUFF: I made waffles!


PAGES READ SINCE LAST CHECK-IN: 91 (not bad given there were many footnotes in this unabridged text)
PAGES READ TOTAL: 91

Readathon Check In The First

I am not going to sugar coat it. It was really hard to get out of bed this morning. It's not that I wasn't excited about readathon... it's just that I really love sleep. I really, really love sleep. But I only hit snooze once. I'm also glad I had the forethought to pre-set coffee. Hitting the start button without having to count the scoops of grounds out first makes life so much easier.

I have not set up my readathon shop and am ready to get down to business.


Here are my answers to the opening survey:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
- Not so sunny Washington, DC. I'm told it might hit 90 today.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
- Fangirl. It has been on my list for quite some time.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
- The lunch spread of veggies, pita, hummus, cheese, and crackers.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
- I'm feeling lazy so I'm just going to cute and paste my Twitter profile: "Librarian. DC resident. Food lover. Fan of exploring things because - Ooo! That's interesting! - is a good policy in life."

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've participated many times before and I am not changing a thing from last time. I am taking this as a relaxing fun day. Enjoy everyone!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Tomorrow is Readathon

Hooray! Another readathon is upon us!

It has been a taxing work week so I am looking forward to reading all day long. Nothing says rest and relaxation to me like ignoring the world by sticking your nose in a book. This week, I made time to make my book pile, buy snacks, and draw out a readathon tracking spread in my bullet journal.


I love the more relaxed attitude I've taken toward readathoning, so I am going to continue that trend. I will blog (or Instagram) when I feel like it. I will eat when I feel like it. I will nap when I feel like it. I will basically do whatever I feel like, when I feel like it, and I expect that to lead to one awesome day.

What I also feel like is continuing to support one of my favorite charities, First Book. For every page I finish during readathon, I will donate 5 cents to First Book. Since they do great work, you better believe I packed my reading pile with cookbooks and easy reads. More books for kids!

See you all tomorrow!


The Friday Find: Stickers

This week, I felt the need to track down some bookish stickers. I found this fantastic (printable!) book lover bundle that would make any reader and/or bullet journaler happy.

This pack is from the LittleBlueGarden Etsy shop.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Variations on a Theme: Ballet

Many (many) years ago, I was a ballet dancer. I loved the movement and emotion. I loved the feel of pointe shoes on my feet and tightness of the bun in my hair. I loved stretching and spinning and leaping. I loved the excuse to just express myself to music. I was only a casual, after-school sort of dancer, but I loved every moment of my time on the floor and at the barre. After moving to DC, I have taken full advantage of seeing professional companies perform in our local theatres. Is it any surprise then, that I love reading books based around ballet?

This month's Variations on a Theme is all about ballet.


Tiny Pretty Things
Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school. Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette's desire to escape the shadow of her ballet-star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.
Astonish Me

Maggie Shipstead

For years Joan has been trying to forget her past, to find peace and satisfaction in her role as wife and mother. Few in her drowsy California suburb know her thrilling history: as a young American ballerina in Paris, she fell into a doomed, passionate romance with Soviet dance superstar Arslan Rusakov. After playing a leading role in his celebrated defection, Joan bowed out of the spotlight for good, heartbroken by Arslan and humbled by her own modest career. But when her son turns out to be a ballet prodigy, Joan is pulled back into a world she thought she'd left behind—a world of dangerous secrets, of Arslan, and of longing for what will always be just out of reach. [My review]

Brandy Colbert

Theo is better now. She’s eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abductor. Donovan isn’t talking about what happened, and even though Theo knows she didn’t do anything wrong, telling the truth would put everything she’s been living for at risk. But keeping quiet might be worse. Brandy Colbert dazzles in this heartbreaking yet hopeful debut novel about learning how to let go of even our most shameful secrets. [My review]

Kathryn Wagner

In the City of Lights, at the dawn of a new age, begins an unforgettable story of great love, great art—and the most painful choices of the heart. With this fresh and vibrantly imagined portrait of the Impressionist artist Edgar Degas, readers are transported through the eyes of a young Parisian ballerina to an era of light and movement. An ambitious and enterprising farm girl, Alexandrie joins the prestigious Paris Opera ballet with hopes of securing not only her place in society but her family’s financial future. Her plan is soon derailed, however, when she falls in love with the enigmatic artist whose paintings of the offstage lives of the ballerinas scandalized society and revolutionized the art world. As Alexandrie is drawn deeper into Degas’s art and Paris’s secrets, will she risk everything for her dreams of love and of becoming the ballet’s star dancer?

Jennifer Holmes

For more than four hundred years, the art of ballet has stood at the center of Western civilization. Its traditions serve as a record of our past. Lavishly illustrated and beautifully told, Apollo’s Angels—the first cultural history of ballet ever written—is a groundbreaking work. From ballet’s origins in the Renaissance and the codification of its basic steps and positions under France’s Louis XIV (himself an avid dancer), the art form wound its way through the courts of Europe, from Paris and Milan to Vienna and St. Petersburg. In the twentieth century, émigré dancers taught their art to a generation in the United States and in Western Europe, setting off a new and radical transformation of dance. Jennifer Homans, a historian, critic, and former professional ballerina, wields a knowledge of dance born of dedicated practice. Her admiration and love for the ballet, as Entertainment Weekly notes, brings “a dancer’s grace and sure-footed agility to the page.”

Simon Morrison

In this enthralling, definitive new history of the Bolshoi Ballet, visionary performances onstage compete with political machinations backstage. On January 17, 2013, a hooded assailant hurled acid into the face of the artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet, making international headlines. A lead soloist, enraged by institutional power struggles, later confessed to masterminding the crime. The scandal, though shocking, is not an anomaly in the turbulent and tormented yet magnificent history of the Bolshoi. Renowned music historian Simon Morrison reveals the ballet as a crucible of art and politics, beginning with the disreputable inception of the theater in 1776 and proceeding through the era of imperial rule, the chaos of revolution, the oppressive Soviet years, and the recent $680 million renovation project. Drawing on exclusive archival research, Morrison creates a richly detailed tableau of the centuries-long war between world-class art and life-threatening politics that has defined this storied institution. As Morrison makes clear, as Russia goes, so goes the Bolshoi Ballet.


More Ballet Titles
The Art of Movement - Ken Browar
The Book of Proper Names - Amelie Nothomb
Life in Motion - Misty Copeland
Mao's Last Dancer - Li Cunxin
The Master's Muse - Varley O'Connor
The Red Shoe's - Michael Powell

Links and Stuff: April 27, 2017

From Keep Reading Forever