Thursday, April 28, 2011

Nothing But Ghosts by Beth Kephart

I added Nothing But Ghosts to my tbr list after it was recommended to me by Serena. I'm really glad she did. I probably would have never read this quietly beautiful book.
Nothing But Ghosts is the story of Katie. Her mom has passed away and her and her father struggle to live without her. Katie discovers a mystery about her employer and, with the help of the town librarian, she delves into her town's past. Katie, herself, is lost in her own past. A lot of the book is told in flashbacks, helping the reader learn more about Katie's mom. Katie's dad also gets into the mystery after he receives a mysterious painting.
Kephart's writing is beautiful. I kept losing myself in the enchanting prose. I really felt like I was standing in Katie's house, watching the sun reflect off the glasses or in Miss Martine's garden, enjoying the flowers. I had to read passages again and again because they were so beautiful. And beautiful is exactly how I would describe this book!
Highly recommended. Others who shared their thoughts on Nothing But Ghosts: Violet Crush, My Friend Amy, The Hiding Spot and Presenting Lenore.
This was my twelfth read for the 2011 YA Reading Challenge.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

To Defy A King by Elizabeth Chadwick

After reading Staci's review of To Defy A King, I immediately added it to my library queue. And I'm glad I did. To Defy A King is everything I want in historical fiction: engaging, well paced and intriguing. I could not put this book down. I thought about it when I wasn't reading it and I dreamt about it at night.
Mahelt is a wonderful character. Strong, beautiful, determined. Hugh is dreamy, kind and smart. All the side characters (Ida, Longespee, Ela, Richard and William) added to the story and my enjoyment. I didn't know anything about King John's reign but Chadwick patiently lays out the story. Plenty of rich details made me fall in love with historical fiction all over again.
Highly recommended. Others who shared their thoughts on To Defy A King: Life In The Thumb, Laura's Reviews, Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell, In The Hammock, The Maiden's Court and Debbie's Book Bag.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Crispy Trout with Mango Salsa

With Tai not being able to eat a whole lot this weekend (damn braces) we were out looking for foods he could eat. Tai decided that fish would be the easiest to eat. The trout looked really fresh at the market. The fishmonger recommended dredge both sides the fish in flour, fry for a few minute each side and serve with mango salsa.
We picked up prepared salsa, making this the easiest meal ever. Looks pretty doesn't it?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Randomness

* I'm loving Pinterest. Friend me there.
* I haven't been posting much about food. I don't know if that will change. Tai got braces so I'll be making lots of soft foods and soup.
* I bought some garam marsala for butter chicken (yum). I love the smell. I need a lotion with that smell. I could smell it all day along. 
* I need a haircut but I'm not sure what I'll do. I'm reluctant to cut it because I'll probably do the same thing I always do. I don't feel like "wasting money". I'm waiting for a Groupon before I bite the bullet.
* I got new glasses. I usually wear contacts but I wear them too much and it's damaging my eyes. I miss my old 1992 glasses. They were huge and covered half my face! My new glasses are tiny and I have limited peripheral vision. They'll take some getting use to. 
* We've got everything set for our Portland trip in June. I wish we were going now!
* We started watching Justified. I love Timothy Olyphant.
* About once a month, I must watch Buffy's Once More With Feeling. I have the soundtrack on my iPod.
* I'm really looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow. It's been a long week.
* I'm on track to read more than 100 books this year. I'm pretty happy about my progress so far.
Happy Friday! What are your weekend plans?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stealing Buddha's Dinner by Bich Minh Nguyen

I cannot sing the praises of this book enough. Stealing Buddha's Dinner was a wonderful honest look at the life of a Vietnamese immigrant. Bich's family left Vietnam at the end of the war. She describes how her father found a way onto a boat and how they immigrated from the refugee camps to Grand Rapids, Michigan. The book is not just about culture, finding your way in a new country but also about the differences in food.
Nguyen finds food a separator between her immigrant family and the American life she wants to live. She doesn't want pho and stir frys. She want Toll House cookies, pizza and hamburgers. She consistently argues with her stepmom (who's Mexican American adding a whole other layer to the mix) for non-Vietnamese, non-Mexican dishes. Nguyen sees those American foods as being integral to her becoming an American. Almost as if she ate enough pizza and french fries she would lose her black hair and grow blond hair. But it reminded me of something I went through as a kid. I imagined my friends eating pizza every night while we had pork chops. I always thought someone else's life was easier.
I also enjoyed the feeling of "otherness" that Nguyen had. She wasn't Vietnamese but she wasn't American either. She was in a separate place where Vietnamese and American met and didn't mingle. She felt separate from both cultures, trying to make her way. I could feel the loneliness that she felt.
Highly recommended. Others who shared their thoughts on Stealing Buddha's Dinner: Captive Thoughts Book Club, The Book Trout, Blogging Outloud, The Literate Housewife Review and Devourer of Books.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Library Loot

 Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!
A few more this week. First, Girl In Blue for the War Through The Generations challenge. I saw a man reading Diamond on the bus and was intrigued. I always enjoy learning the history of objects so I thought I'd try it. I picked up Poor Little Rich Girl after reading a short article about Barbara Hutton. I know nothing about her life, so I thought I'd read a little bit about her. When I posted about the 2011 YA Reading Challenge, Serena recommended Nothing But Ghosts. I've heard good things about Kephart so I thought I'd make Nothing But Ghosts my first read of hers. Finally the next in the Toby Daye series, Late Eclipses! I'm still plowing my way through the Women of The Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong (Broken is sixth in that series). And another one for the War Through The Generations Challenge, Broken Promises. Isn't that cover wonderful?
What did you get this week?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sex And Bacon by Sarah Katherine Lewis

There's only one word describe Lewis: bawdy. Her stories are indecent, honest and outrageous. I loved Sex And Bacon. It's full of stories about food, hunger, desire, sex and love.
I do the majority of my reading on the bus to and from work. I loved sitting there reading a book with such an outrageous title. I got a couple of double takes. I was reminded of the brown paper wrapping that used to cover books with such provocative titles.
You might think the title is meant to pull you in. Sex sells after all. You might think that Lewis keeps her stories PG-13 or maybe even close to R but no. Some of them were down right X-rated. The first story after the introduction is about salad tossing (the link is fairly safe, no pictures). Now if that's not enough to tell that Lewis isn't going to pull any punches or not bare it all for you, the second story is about sucking cock and eating pussy. If reading about either of those things isn't your style then you'll probably pass on Sex And Bacon.
But if you stick around you'll be rewarded with stories glorifying food, sex, Britney Spears, the female form and fat. Lewis advocates eschewing diets, eating more fat and loving the skin you live in. Her years of sex work taught her body is worth something, that she's worth something. She encourages men and women to stop fighting against their bodies and listen to them. Give your body what it wants: yummy food. There are some "recipes" in the book. Her description of her butter chicken made my mouth water.
Highly recommend. Others who had something to say about Sex And Bacon: Radical Vixen and Sycamore Reviews

Monday, April 18, 2011

Thoughts on The Hunger Games Trilogy

 I can't believe it took me so long to read these books. I don't know why I resisted. This series was so good. I now know why other people loved it so much. I was converted :)
If you have not read The Hunger Games Trilogy, go now and get the books. I rarely buy books but I bought the entire series so I wouldn't have to wait to get them from the library. These are worth purchasing so you won't be anxiously waiting to read what happens next.
The first book was by far my favorite. I read it in a few hours. Catching Fire was good and Mockingjay was a little slower in my opinion. Katniss is a fantastic heroine. I loved Peeta and tolerated Gale. Even if you don't like YA or dystopian fiction, the story will suck you and keep a hold of you.
I highly recommend the whole series. I've heard they are making a movie of the series so I'll be interested to see how that compares.
 The Hunger Games Trilogy was my ninth, tenth and eleventh books for the 2011 YA Reading Challenge.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Winners of An Artificial Night

Congrats to:
Christie (swaggirl01)
Check your emails!
Thanks to all who entered. I'll be having another giveaway next month.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Library Loot

 Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!
Just two this week. The Last Of The Mohicans is on my Fill In The Gaps List. This one actually is. I got Of Mice and Men last week cause I thought it was! Perhaps it should have been! While I was searching for another book in my library's catalog, I spotted We're Just Like You, Only Prettier. It looked pretty funny. I've read one of her other books, Stop Dressing Your Six Year Old Like A Skank, which I thought was funny. I've wanted to give that book to strangers.
Don't forget to enter my giveaway for a signed copy of An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire. I have three copies so that means three winners! Go to this post to sign up!
What did you get this week?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Separate Country by Robert Hicks

I picked up A Separate Country for the War Through The Generations. It's the story of General Hood and his wife, Anna Marie. Hood moves to New Orleans after the war is over. In trying to have a life after the war, Hood meets Anna Marie, a society woman. She's used to a life of balls. Hood, a former Confederate General, struggles to find a way to support his family.
Told in alternating voice, Anna Marie, Hood and Eli, a man affected by Hood's actions on the battlefield. The story goes back through Anna Marie's childhood and her friends. It was interesting to see how Anna Marie's past affects their future. I liked how the story weaved through time. The writing was beautiful and I felt transported to post-American Civil War New Orleans. Sadly I didn't connect to Hood, Anne Marie, or Eli. While I found the story solid, I just couldn't feel engaged in it.
It was a worthwhile read (less battle information than My Name Is Mary Sutter) especially if you like historical romances set in New Orleans. Others who shared their thoughts on A Separate Country: Bermuda Onion, The Serenity Gate, American Civil War Stories and Medieval Bookworm.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spooky Little Girl by Laurie Notaro

When I saw Spooky Little Girl on the library shelf, I squealed (quietly of course). I'm a huge fan of Notaro's other books. I was a little surprised to see this was pure fiction. Most of her other books are humorous stories about herself and trouble she gets herself into.
Ok, Spooky Little Girl is the story of Lucy. Lucy's engaged to Martin, a nice guy. She has a good job. After going to Hawaii on a girl's weekend, everything in Lucy's life goes sideways. Bye, bye Martin. Bye, bye job. Bye, bye life.
This is one very funny book. Everything I've been used in Notaro's other books, I found in this one. Lucy is so funny. Life and death have thrown her curveballs. And much like most people would be she deals with it, kicking and screaming. The other supporting characters especially her grandma also added to the drama and laughs. A few things didn't make too much sense but the story was so light and funny, I didn't sweat it too much.
Recommended. Others who shared their thoughts about Spooky Little Girl: Two Readers Reviews, Book Slut Gwen, S. Krishna's Books and All The Books I Can Read.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Readathon-Bedtime for Me

Alright I'm sleepy and calling it a night. I finished A Separate Country (which I started before the readathon) and The Hunger Games. I'm about 3/4 done with Catching Fire. I have Mockingjay awaiting once I'm done with Catching Fire.
I had such a great time reading this year but it was hard to balance reading, chatting with folks on twitter and commenting on folk's blogs. I'm glad I didn't set a higher goal for myself. I didn't even finish the one I set!
Thank you to all the cheerleaders and other readers who stopped by to say hi. It meant a lot to me that you took the time to stop by. Thank you!
I look forward doing it again in October!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Readathon-Mid Event Survey

1. What are you reading right now?
I just finished the Hunger Games. I'm getting ready to start Catching Fire. So glad I bought all 3.
2. How many books have you read so far?
Two. I finished A Separate Country this morning.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
Both Catching Fire and Mockingjay.
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
No, I just told everyone I was busy today. It helps that my car is in the shop so I don't have transportation! My hubby, Tai, is home so he could run me somewhere if I needed. His car is a manual and I only know how to drive automatics.
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
Tai decided to stay home. He originally had plans but changed them when it became apparent we wouldn't have my car back today. He didn't want to leave me with a vehicle. While he understands that I'm reading all day he still wants to interact so I told him to interrupt me when he wants. He's mostly been playing his computer this afternoon.
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
As a first time reader, I'm struggling to have time to read. I want to interact with other readers and cheerleaders. It's all a huge balancing act!
7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
This is wonderful. I have no suggestions now. Maybe as time goes on.
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?
I'd set things up a little better for me. I planned my books but not my snacks or breaks. I also would have preset some of the post.
9. Are you getting tired yet?
I was after lunch but got my second wind. I thought I would have needed a nap by now!
10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?
No, but I look forward to hearing other's tips!

Readathon-The Afternoon

Ok, I've had my lunch (yummy sushi) and I'm ready to get back into reading. So far I've read for 3.5 hours. I finished A Separate Country (about 20 pages) and I'm halfway through The Hunger Games. I'm loving it and I want to tell everyone I know who hasn't read it to read it!
I'm trying to stop by on twitter every hour or so. Feel free to stop by and say hi!

Don't forget to sign up for my giveaway. I'm giving away 3 signed copies of An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire.

Readathon-An Introduction

 I've just finished A Separate Country which I start last week. I'm anxious to start on The Hunger Games. I've got my snacks. I'm ready to read.
So how about knowing a little more about me for those who might be new:
1)Where are you reading from today?
I live in a suburb of Seattle, WA.
2)Three random facts about me…
I'm a Capricorn. I like to cook. I'm a Zumba addict.
3)How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
Ten. See this post for my stack.
4)Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?
My 2 goals are to have fun and read the Hunger Games trilogy.
5)If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time?
I'm a first time reader but I've cheerleaded before. Remember to take breaks. If you fall asleep or stop reading it's no big deal.

I'm giving away 3 signed copies of An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire. Go to this post to enter!

Readathon-The Morning

So my official start time for the Readathon is supposed to be 4am. Ha! It's Saturday so I probably won't be up til 7am or 8am. I'm projecting a 9am start time for me. I don't know how long I'll last but I'll try to make to 1am-2am.
I have my stack of books all ready:
My pile looks so small compared to everyone else's! From the bottom up: Local by Brian Wood, volumes one and two of Okko, Stealing Buddah's Dinner Bich Minh Nguyen, The Sex Life Of Food by Bunny Crumpacker, Sex and Bacon by Sarah Katherine Lewis and the Hunger Games trilogy. Not pictured are the first book in the Hunger Games trilogy (it was at my dad's when I took the pic) and the third volume of Okko (which Tai was reading when I took the pic).
So my goals for the day are to have fun and start and finish the Hunger Games trilogy. Everything is just gravy.
I'll be posting my progress through the day, hanging out on twitter (@sillylittle) and visiting blogs.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Granola

Granola has long been something I've wanted to make. I'd buy oats and wait for inspiration to strike. Well it finally did. I spied this granola and decided to attempt it. I had everything except the peanuts. Damn, now what? I scoured the net for another recipe I could use and used this one. But I wanted chocolate in there, so I added 1/2 bag of chocolate chips. The result:
Pretty darn good. I've been crumbling it in my yogurt. Next one I'll attempt is this one. Notice a trend? Yes I need chocolate :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Wow, I really enjoyed Firelight. I was pretty interested based on the premise (people who shapeshift into dragons or draki in this book). And while some of the story was a little forced, I found myself unable to put it down. By the way, how gorgeous is the cover. Probably half the reason I wanted to read it!
Firelight is the story of Jacinda, a draki. Jacinda, her mom, and her sister live in a community of other draki, a pride. Jacinda's pretty rare. She's the first firebreathing draki in over 400 years. Some stuff goes down forcing Jacinda, her mom and her sister to leave the pride. This forces them to integrate into normal human life. Something Jacinda hates and resents but necessary for their survival. This is where Jacinda became spoiled whiny brat. It was really hard to like Jacinda when she's ranting and raving at her mom for trying to protect her. But here's what made the book worthwhile for me: Will. Swoon! Jacinda meets Will and he makes her draki light up. He's perfect-smart, funny, caring, the complete package. Except for his family who hunt draki. All very Romeo and Juliet.
Highly recommended. Looking forward to the next book in the series. Others who shared their thoughts on Firelight: The Broke And The Bookish, That's Life, I Read Banned Books, Deb's World Of Books, Simply Nerdy Book Reviews, The Nerd's Wife, Books From Bleh to Basically Amazing, The Book Scout, Chick Lit Teen and A Fanatic's Book Blog.
This is my eighth book for the YA Reading Challenge.
And my third book from my TBR Challenge.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Library Loot

 Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

Pre-readathon library loot! Somehow I don't think I'll run out of books to read. I added Belle to my to be read list. I'm reading A Separate Country right now and I wanted a few more books for my War Through The Generations challenge. I think I'll probably reach the 3-5 books I set for myself. I read about To Defy A King on Staci's blog and immediately added it to my queue. I didn't think it would show up so quickly though. Of Mice And Men is on my Fill In The Gaps Challenge. Bibliophile By The Sea reviewed it recently and I never realized how short it was (103 pages). I figured now would be a good time to try it.  
Did you see I'm giving away 3 copies of Seanan McGuire's An Artificial Night? Click on over and enter!
What did you get this week?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

An Artificial Night Giveaway!

I was able to hit up a local Boarders during their closing sale and picked up some books to giveaway. Up for grabs 3 autographed copies of An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire.
I've been enjoying this series. Here's my post about An Artificial Night. 
This is an international giveaway. Just comment on this post and make sure you leave an email for me to contact you if you win. I'll choose 3 winners (via, each one gets an autographed copy of An Artificial Night. This giveaway will end on April 15 at 5pm PST.
Full Disclosure: There is a sticker on the front of the book stating it's an autographed copy as well as a back mark through the bar code on the back.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell

I love Sex And The City. I'd love to say I'm a Carrie but I'm really more of a Miranda. I was on the fence about reading The Carrie Diaries. I'm a creature of comfort. I like staying with those things I'm familiar with. But did I want to know about Carrie as a teen? Part of the reason I liked Sex And The City was the girls. Carrie without Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha was a little strange. I finally decided to read it cause I heard there were going to be more pre-SATC books coming out.
At first I didn't like The Carrie Diaries. In the first 150 pages I kept thinking I'll finish this and not continue the series. As far as Young Adult books go this one seemed pretty bad. Carrie was nothing like I know her in her later years. She seems to let things happen to her. She doesn't seem fabulous. In fact she didn't feel real. And when you know how someone is going to turn out it ruins the mystery in their beginnings. But then something happened, she started acting like a normal person, not a character. She started to jump off the page for me. Then I couldn't put the book down.
I kept trying to figure out which of her teen friends were Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte. I think Mouse was the most Miranda like. Maggie was a little like Charlotte and Samantha put together. In the end I enjoyed learning more about her back story. I always wondered why they didn't talk about her family on the show. I will be reading the next one-Summer And the City.
Others who shared their thoughts on The Carrie Diaries: Dream In Dreamland, Viva La Fashion, Thoughts of A Mad Hatter and Confessions of A Book Addict.
This was my seventh read for the YA Reading Challenge

Friday, April 1, 2011

March Book Tally

Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: Guilty Pleasures vol 1by Laurell K Hamilton
Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: Guilty Pleasures vol 2 by Laurell K Hamilton
Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: The First Death by Laurell K Hamilton
Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse vol 1 by Laurell K Hamilton
Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse vol 2 by Laurell K Hamilton
Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse vol 3 by Laurell K Hamilton
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Haunted by Kelley Armstrong
Blessed by Cynthia L Smith
Beauty by Robin McKinley
The Girl She Used To Be by David Cristofano
Moving Pictures by Kathyrn & Stuart Immonen
The New York Four by Brian Wood
The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr
The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell (review coming next week)

Best month ever! I read 16 books this month. Yes, eight of them were graphic novels, but I read a lot. When I started the month with Catch-22 (which took me forever to read), I thought I'd be lucky to read 6 books. I keep this up and 100 books will be here in no time!

The Stats:
Fill In The Gaps Challenge: YTD: 4 (Catch-22 & The Girl She Used To Be)
War Through The Generations:YTD: 1 (none additional this month)
YA Reading Challenge: YTD: 7 (Blessed, The Carrie Diaries, Beauty and Darkest Mercy)
The Original TBR Challenge: YTD: 2 (none additional this month)
Support Your Local Library Challenge: YTD: 24
100+ Reading Challenge: YTD: 36