Saturday, April 30, 2011

New Years Resolution 2011: April Update

Super creative, a bench made of books! I want one at my house :-)

I had mentioned last month that I also read magazines and someone wanted to know what magazines I read, well Ryan and I have subscriptions to Entertainment Weekly and Newsweek and Backpacker, but I also get magazines that are left onboard the airplane and at a magazine exchange at our local library, and our used book store also sells used magazines for 25 cents. So I get them there too. Most months I read those previous three I mentioned and Sunset, Outside, The New Yorker, Smithsonian, Southern Living, Discover, Astronomy, O, Time, Esquire, Redbook, Allure, Elle, Glamour, Us, People, Ladies Home Journal, Real Simple, In Touch, Self, Woman's Day, Consumer Reports, Seattle and Good Housekeeping.

Other magazines that I might read only a couple of times a year are New York, Popular Mechanics, Fitness, Men's Health, Travel and Leisure, Town and Country, Vanity Fair (great article about Rob Lowe this month!), Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, Outdoor Photographer, Just Cross Stitch, Reader's Digest, Islands, Coastal Living, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, Cross Stitcher, Firsts, Country Living and Memory Makers Magazine. I am sure that there are many more that I am not thinking of at the moment...I will often pick up a scrapbooking or cross-stitch magazine at craft stores like Michaels or if Ryan and I are going on a special trip somewhere, we might pick up some magazines to read on the plane as a special treat.

Here are the books I read in April, Thanks so much to everyone who sent me boxes of books for my birthday!:

Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear library
Club Dead by Charlaine Harris library
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell library
Sins of the Fathers by Ruth Rendell library
Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris library
All We Ever Wanted was Everything by Janelle Brown library
The Best Man to Die by Ruth Rendell
Paris Wife by Paula McLain library
An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear library
Squirrel seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris library
The Early Work of Philip K. Dick Volume One: The Variable Man and other stories library
J. D. Salinger: A Life by Kenneth Slawenski library
Starvation Heights by Gregg Olsen
Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King library
The Winter of Our Disconnect by Susan Maushart library
For the Love of Mike by Rhys Bowen library
At Home: A short history of private life by Bill Bryson
Burning Bright by Ron Rash library
Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear library
In Like Flynn by Rhys Bowen library
Heat Wave by Richard Castle

Cloud Atlas was very interesting. I started it and was not sure if I liked it or not, but the more I got into it, the more I liked it. It felt a lot like a collection of stories, but they all intertwined and circled back to each other. In the end I was fascinated. It was a finalist for the Booker Prize. The Man Booker Prize for Fiction is a literary award for the best original full-length novel, written in the English language, by a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations, Ireland or Zimbabwe each year. Previous winners are The Remains of the Day, The English Patient, and Life of Pi. Since 2001, they have revealed the runners up. The year Cloud Atlas was a finalist (2004), The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst won the Booker.

The Ruth Rendell mysteries are great, these are Inspector Wexford ones that were also made into a series on British TV. More Jacqueline Winspear this month and more of the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, the Molly Murphy mysteries by Rhys Bowen too, I will be reading more of these all through the summer.

All We Ever Wanted was Everything is a story about divorce. Very much a chick lit type of book....depressing not funny, similar to Picoult, Shreve or O'Nan, but I enjoyed it.

Philip K. Dick....can you believe I haven't read Philip K. Dick??? Neither could I! The author of Blade Runner, Minority Report, and Total Recall!! This is a collection of his short stories.

I enjoyed Paris Wife quite a bit and will probably be rereading some Hemingway now. It is the story of Hemingway's first marriage told from the point of view of his wife, Hadley Richardson.

David Sedaris, I am a huge fan and found this selection of stories pretty funny (and disturbing too) I would love to see Sedaris read in person.

Starvation Heights is a non-fiction telling of the murder trial of an Olalla, WA doctor who ran a sanitarium where folks were starved to death. She (a female doctor in 1910!!) advocated fasting as a remedy for most all disease. It promised to be a spooky and exciting tale, but soon became mired in the notes of the trial.

Stephen King, I am always a huge fan and happy to say that these stories are much better than some of the books he has had out lately! Creepy stuff, highly recommended!!

J.D. Salinger, again, I am a huge fan, so of course fascinated by this biography. I am always intrigued when people acquire fame and then hate it so much.

Bill Bryson, Huge fan! :-) and gave me lots of ideas for other books to read!

The Winter of Our Disconnect has me wishing I could disconnect a little more. If I wasn't blogging, watching reality TV online and playing games on Facebook, I'd have more time for reading :-) A mom with 3 teenagers pulls the plug on Electricity (for 4 weeks!!) and on Cell Phones, Video Games, Ipods, TVs, and Internet for a total of 6 months. This is her story. There were loopholes, one daughter basically went to live with her dad (they are divorced) for much of the time and the kids could use internet, play games etc. at their friend's houses or internet cafes. They were also forced to use libraries to complete homework assignments on the internet. But all in all, it was an interesting experiment and I enjoyed this book.

Burning Bright is a selection of short stories by a NC author. Very Appalachia, much like Winter's Bone in the tone. Very good though, quite enjoyed.

Heat Wave by Richard Castle is a promotional book created for the ABC tv series Castle. I hate to say it is a "fake book" but it is... and entertaining none the less. Wonder who the ghost writer is??? Of course I was grinning all through the reading and looking for parallels to the tv show. I catch maybe every other episode of the TV show, so I am not 100 percent clued in to all the nuances of Beckett and Castle. But I think you can get a lot out of the book that maybe you don't catch while watching the show. It is told from "Nicki Heat/Beckett"'s viewpoint, and of course is written by "Castle/Rook" (Rook is the writer character in the book) A fictional world within a fictional world! I love stuff like that.

21 books

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday's Postcard: Winchester Mystery House

One of my favorite places!! In San Jose, CA, the Winchester Mystery House. I visited here as an impressionable preteen and it spoke to all my imaginings of mystery and spookiness and ghosts and obsession! I just love this place. And I really enjoy these type of Now and Then photos.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Wild Card: Mont Saint-Michel

Happy Easter and enjoy this "wild card" of Mont Saint Michel, one of my favorite places in France! Absolutely amazing. My sister and I spent the night on the Mont in 1996. I was inspired to visit by Disney World. If you go to Epcot and visit the France Pavilion, they have a 360 degree film of France. I was blown away by Mont Saint Michel and it immediately made the the top of my life list of places to visit.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday's Postcard: the Old Charlotte Coliseum

Wow, now a vacant field, here is what the Charlotte Coliseum used to look like out near the airport. The city skyline is a bit different now too! This postcard is from 1989.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Glass Fun Part II

Oh my, just got a box from Virginia today in the mail! Two of our glass projects were is still in transit. But for those who were curious, here is Ryan's finished Chicken! And my Nancy Drew themed Suncatchers!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday's Postcard: Thailand

This is a postcard of the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market outside of Bangkok. I went there with my stepmother in the spring of 1994 and it was just a riot of colors and smells and sounds.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Stained Glass Fun at the Nancy Drew convention

So last week while in Charlottesville, VA for a Nancy Drew convention,
we went to a place called The Glass Palette - Interactive Glass Art Studio
It was so interesting. Like one of those paint your own pottery places. You could just walk in off the street, no classes, no reservations and create a "stained glass" masterpiece. Everything is food and dishwasher safe too!! Amazing.
Why were we making our own glass creations you ask? Well, the theme of the Charlottesville Convention was The Hidden Window Mystery. Nancy Drew is looking for a lost stained glass window that came over from England and has been lost for centuries.
She believes that the Charlottesville area is the perfect place to search for this window. While in Virginia, she tours Monticello and Ashlawn, so we did that too. She also goes canoeing, but we didn't do that. Sometimes you just can't fit in all the Nancy Drew activities!!
Most of the folks at the convention created Peacock stained glass items. Again a nod to the Nancy Drew book. In the book, peacocks at an old southern mansion are considered spooky and mysterious. Also the Hidden Window of the book's title depicts a knight with a peacock on his shield. The cover of the Original Nancy Drew book also features a peacock.

Here are some examples of before and after firing of one of the pieces made by our group. Gina Travis created this peacock and it will be molded into a "sushi dish". We had several different options of items to make from dishes and jewelry to sun-catchers and picture frames. The prices depend on the size of the item you want to make. Everything was very reasonably priced. It is not true stained glass, but fused glass. The pieces of glass are melted together in a kiln.
It was so much fun to work with the glass pieces. We had tools for cutting the glass into smaller pieces and there were so many colors!! There were even little sparkly sand like pieces that created some interesting effects.

I enjoyed the glass making place so much that I took Ryan back there after the convention was over to make some more glass items. I knew that he would enjoy it too. Ryan decided to create a Chicken for his mom!

I was hoping that there would be some place similar in the Seattle area but it seems like most places don't let you just drop in and work, you have to take scheduled classes, but if you are interested in making your own "stained glass" creations here is a list of some places all over the country: Glass Fusionplaces

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Tea Bricks? Who knew??

I am a huge fan of tea. In the past week I have encountered a type of tea that I never knew existed before! The tea brick. It was featured on the Amazing Race. And during a tour to Monticello and Ashlawn in Charlottesville, VA, they demonstrated how to use a tea brick, saying that this was the type of tea that would have been used in the New World during the 1700's. Tea Bricks would have been the tea that was thrown into Boston Harbour during the Boston Tea Party. Not tea bags, not loose tea. Supposedly, the tea bricks can be transported easily and won't succumb to the elements (mold and wet) the way loose tea would.

The bricks have sections imprinted onto them and could be broken up and used as currency and in trade. I had been to Monticello in previous years and did not remember this part of the tour! It seems like all of a sudden there is this interest in the authentic tea brick that was not there previously.

The Amazing Race did not show you how you used the tea brick. You would grate the tea off of the brick and into your cup and add the hot water!

So of course, I bought a tea brick and I can't wait to try it!!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Monday's Postcard: Greektown, Detroit

This postcard is from a layover that I had in Detroit in the early 90's. We went to Greektown for dinner. I just remember the food being wonderful!!

Friday, April 01, 2011

New Years Resolution 2011: March Update

This photo is at an awesome book sculpture in downtown Charlotte, NC

Some folks were wondering where I get the idea to read certain books. For new books and current authors, my favorite resources are magazines. Entertainment Weekly, The New Yorker and even People and Elle magazine. They all have book reviews of new stuff that is coming out. I will also see blurbs about books in newspapers and USAToday. If it interests me, I will write it down and then I go and reserve it at the library. If the library doesn't have it, then I will look for it when I go to used bookstores. I will also check out the staff recommendations at bookstores and libraries.
Once I enjoy an author, I will then seek out everything they have written and read it all. Sometimes I will just see a book in a store and be intrigued by the cover or the title and just pick it up. I also rely on recommendations from friends and family. By the way, in addition to reading books every day, I also read magazines and newspapers! Like anyone else, sometimes I just can't keep my mind in a book. So then I like to read something quick, magazines are great for this (and I also read short story collections for this reason as well)

Here are the books that I read in March:

The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell
Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell library
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
Possum Living: How to Live well without a Job and with (almost) no money by Dolly Freed library
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear library
Grifter's Game by Lawrence Block library
Bad Move by Linwood Barclay library
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris library
Murphy's Law by Rhys Bowen library
Little Boy Blues by Malcolm Jones library
Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear library
Death of Riley by Rhys Bowen library
Stories from the Twilight Zone by Rod Serling
Farewell My Lovely by Raymond Chandler library
The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham library
Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear library
The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown library
A Red Herring without Mustard by Alan Bradley
Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris library
The Bird Man and The Lap dancer by Eric Hansen
The Sinus Cure: 7 simple steps by Debra Fulghum Bruce and Murray Grossan, MD library
The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler
At Random the Reminiscences of Bennett Cerf library
Maud the Life of L.M. Montgomery by Harry Bruce
What the Dogs have taught Me by Merrill Markoe
Black Book of Secrets by F. E. Higgins
The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay
Raven Stole the Moon by Garth Stein library

The Wordy Shipmates is about the Puritans who came to America and settled in the Boston and Plymouth areas. It was okay, I enjoyed another book better. A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World by Tony Horwitz. It is about what happened in North America between 1492 when Columbus arrived and 1620 when the Pilgrims came. It is 100 years of history that we pretty much ignore most of the time. I will say that Sarah Vowell is an entertaining writer and I did enjoy her slant on her subject. But much of the book was very dry, I hate to say, boring.

Winter's Bone, you might have heard of the movie, the actress was up for an academy award....the book was great and I plan to read more from this author.

A Red Herring without Mustard by Alan Bradley, this book was a birthday present and the third in a new YA series that I absolutely love!! Flavia De Luce is a wonderfully fun and clever heroine. "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" is the first in this series.

Maisie Dobbs is the start of a murder mystery series set in post WWI England. I enjoyed it a lot and will be reading the rest of these books by this author. It was very similar to another series I started reading last year by Charles Todd featuring a WWI Nurse, Bess Crawford. The first book in the Bess Crawford series is "A Duty to the Dead" and I look forward to reading more of those also!

Little Boy Blues is a memoir of a man raised in 1950's NC. Being from North Carolina I enjoyed it. If you were raised in the south, you will see lots of similarities. I always enjoy southern writers for the familiarity that I have with their subject. I already KNOW all these characters, I have eaten the same food and been to the same places.

Dead Until Dark is the first book in the Sookie Stackhouse series that the True Blood HBO TV series is based upon. I watched the first season of True Blood, so now I am going back and reading the books that the TV series is based on.

The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham This one was made into a movie in 2006 with Naomi Watts and Edward Norton.

Maud the Life of L. M. Montgomery is a biography. I was rereading the Anne books and realized that I had never read a biography of L. M. Montgomery, even though I have visited Prince Edward Island (where Montgomery is from and where the Anne books are set)!!

The Weird Sisters I recommend. I enjoyed it a lot. If you have a sister (or sisters), if you like reading, if you like Shakespeare. Reminded me a little of some Jane Smiley or Carol Shields. Great descriptive passages: "Bean pulled a heavy towel from the stack of laundry, unwinding it from the lascivious position it had gotten into with a pillowcase." I just love stuff like that!

At Random the Reminiscences of Bennett Cerf, I got the idea to read this book from a documentary I watched about the history of the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. They mentioned a "Bennett Cerf Joke Book," so I went online looking for info about Bennett Cerf and found this book at my local library. It is his autobiography, turns out he was one of the founding fathers of Random House book publishing. The book is an amazing account of his adventures meeting famous writers like Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway, Theodore Dreiser, Dorothy Parker, William Faulkner and many many more. I was captivated.

28 books

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