Thursday, December 29, 2011

2012 Book Challenges..........

It's that time of year!  My first challenge for the coming year is this:




Curiosity Killed The Bookworm Sci-Fi Challenge


I'm really looking forward to this.  I have really come to love some of the "new" varieties of sci-fi that are out there so I shouldn't struggle to find one each month to read!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Challenge One completed..........


 


   


      2011 Reading Challenge
   


         
     
       
   
          2011 Reading Challenge
       

     
     

        Sarah has    
       
         
            completed her goal of reading 100 books in 2011!
         
               
     

     

       
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        100 of 100 (100%)
     

     
       
 
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Back in January I wrote this post: My TBR Challenge 2011 .  As  we are hurtling headfirst towards 2012, I thought I'd give a quick update on the challenges.  I have 2 left in the aforementioned challenge which are both on the bedside table ready to go.  As for my challenge to read 100 books this year, I've read 90, and according to Goodreads am 1 book ahead of target!

I hope if any of you have been involved in book related challenges this year, that you have completed them, and more importantly, HAD FUN!

Monday, October 17, 2011

It's So Easy: and other liesIt's So Easy: and other lies by Duff McKagan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer - I may be abit biased as Duff has been my not-so-secret rocker crush for 20 years.


Quite simply, if you're looking for a tell-all and airing of dirty Guns N Roses laundry, you need to look elsewhere.  This is the tale of one mans journey that happened to include the greatest rock band of it's time.  It's hard to read - I knew Duff was a drinker but had no idea just how deep into a pit he fell - but it felt really inspirational to me.  This is a guy that was a member of this HUGE band, lived through it's implosion by drinking and doing cocaine, survived a burst pancreas and has come out the other side.


The book made me tear up twice - first when he recounts his reunion with Axl Rose after 13 years and again in the acknowledgments at the end to his daughters.  This is a man that I've spent about 2/3's of my life following and it's wonderful to finally read HIS story, in his own words, knowing that he's in the best place he's ever been.




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Monday, October 10, 2011

Giveaway......

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My friend Dani is hosting a 200 follower international giveaway - click the lovely pic above to go to her blog....

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wishlist Wednesday #3

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Wishlist Wednesday is hosted by my friend (virtually only unfortunately) Dani over at Pen To Paper

Feel free to take part in the Blog hop!

This weeks offering is:

'

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:

A man regains consciousness to find himself naked in a mass grave with no idea who he is. His first thought is survival - but in a religious war survival depends on knowing which side you are on. Donning another man's military uniform, he drives off and enters a nearby town to discover that the occupying soldiers have been waiting for someone very much like him. Suddenly he finds himself in power. His first act is to save a woman about to be murdered by soldiers - a woman he turns out to have a history with. She seems to know more about him than he does, but does she have the right man?

This ended up on my Wishlist thanks to RiSi and Anne Cater (I believe!)  Apparently not an easy read, but I feel that anything with this subject matter shouldn't be.
Moon Over ManifestMoon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved loved loved this.  Picked it up when I was helping in the school library as the cover attracted me - then when one of the 3rd Grade teachers saw it in my hand told me how much she loved it I was sold.

Young Abilene comes to the town of Manifest in 1936 - sent by her father (who lived there as a child) to stay while he was away working - and finds herself drawn to the towns past through a boxful of letters and mementos, and the town medium Miss Sadie.  Abilene is trying to understand her father and through tales of the past, founds out more than she could've imagined.

Just a great YA tale about life in a small American town at 2 of the worst points in history - World War One and the Depression of the 1930's.  Like any small town (apparently) it is full of quirky characters - some you love, some you hate.  Vanderpool did a great job of weaving the tale - it would have been easy to get confused with which time period you were in, but I never felt lost.


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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top Ten Tuesdays - Books I Want To Re-read

Top Ten Tuesdays is hosted by The Broke & Bookish and past topics have included: Books Everyone Has Read but I Haven't, Jerks in Literature and Secondary Characters.

So in no particular order, here are mine:

1) The Borrible Trilogy by Michael de Larrabeiti  Simply the best kids books I read as a kid.  I devoured these tales of pointy eared children who lived underground in London and spent most of their time avoiding adults who will clip their eyes thus forcing them to grow up.  They are dark stories and the ending of the trilogy still makes me sad 25 years on.

2) The Harry Potter series It's been such a long time since I read the early books, and combing that with the end of the film series, I really want to go back and start again

3) Chaos Walking Trilogy - Patrick Ness I read this fairly recently, but I just know that at some point I will want to read them again.  Amazing series

4) The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini In my opinion, one of the defining books of our time - taken in context of the state of the world now it's even more relevant

5) Bitten - Kelley Armstrong I am a HUGE Armstrong fan, and knowing the Women of the Otherworld series will be ending soon, I can almost guarantee I'll start over at some point

6) Shutter Island - Dennis Lehane Amazing book

7) Room - Emma Donoghue What I said for No6.  And it's a read for my book group soon so I may reread it then.

8) The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas - John Boyle If a book can make me cry then it's definitely worth a re-read

9) The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien Just a brilliant brilliant book and my son will (hopefully) want to read it one day, at which point I will read it too.  Timeless

10) Lear - Edward Bond Technically a play, I read this for A-Level and remember ZILCH about it.  I wonder if I'd enjoy more now.................

Monday, September 26, 2011

Book Group


For those who you who like to nose at what others are reading, here is the list of books my Book Group will be reading between now and next summer:

Oct - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (The San Antonio library has 48 copies - and I'm 145th on the list!)
Nov - Dreaming In Hindi by Katherine Russell Rich
Dec - Life Is So Good by George Dawson & Richard Glaubman
Jan - The Art Of Racing In The Rain by Garth Stein
Feb - The Man In The Rockefeller Suit by Mark Seal
Mar - The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Apr - Room by Emma Donoghue (One of my favourite reads of last year!)
May - The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Summer Read - Dreams Of Joy - Lisa See

We choose by "lucky dip".  There are some GREAT choice in there and I'm really looking forward to discovering the ones I know nothing about.  The Hunger Games is a book I've been hearing alot about recently as it's been made into a film so I'm glad that was put forward.

I love my book group friends.  We are all military spouses and they were some of the first people I met when we moved to the USA.  I always have a good time with them and I'm determined to make this year the best one as it's my last one with them.

Anyway - share your thoughts on our choices.............I'd love to know what you think!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wishlist Wednesday #2



Again, I'm taking part in Pen To Paper Wishlist Wednesday.....................here we go:



From The New Yorker editorial review on Amazon:

Fallada wrote this novel in twenty-four days in 1947, the last year of his life; he was addicted to drugs and alcohol, and had just been released from a Nazi insane asylum. The story is based on that of an actual working-class Berlin couple who conducted a three-year resistance campaign against the Nazis, by leaving anonymous postcards at random locations around the city. The book has the suspense of a John le Carré novel, and offers a visceral, chilling portrait of the distrust that permeated everyday German life during the war. Especially interesting are the details that show how Nazi-run charities and labor organizations monitored and made public the degree to which individuals supported or eschewed their cause. The novel shows how acts that at the time might have seemed “ridiculously small,” “discreet,” and “out of the way” could have profound and lasting meaning. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wishlist Wednesday



Blatantly stolen from Dani (via Jenny!) at Pen To Paper . Every Wednesday I will feature a book that is on my wishlist......................so, today I give you:



I fell in love with Michelle Moran last year when I read Cleopatras Daughter and Nefertiti.  I'd been reading alot of Tudor historical fiction (thank you Phillipa Gregory) and was keen to try a different period of time.  Madame Tussaud is Morans latest and I'm really really looking forward to it.

Here is the Goodreads description:

Madame Tussaud (1761-1850) escapes the pages of trivia quizzes to become a real person far more arresting than even her waxwork sculptures. Who among us knew, for instance, that she moved freely through the royal court of Louis XVI, only to become a prisoner of the Reign of Terror? Her head was shaven for guillotining, but she escaped execution, though she was forced to make death masks for prominent victims. Novelist Michelle Moran covers this breathtaking period without losing the thread of its subject's singular story.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A new school year....

We are well underway in the new school year.  The boy is now in 1st Grade and seems pretty happy.  His new teacher is nice and he likes her so there's no complaints from me!  We've changed our hometime routine - he now walks with the "walkers" and one of the teachers sees them out of the school and across the first 2 roads - then he's on his own, but I can see him from the top of our street.  So far so good - the first day he was so pleased at having crossed the last road alone that he came charging towards me screeching "I did it, I did it".  I do love him!

Along with school, all the other activities have kicked in - swimming, Little Gym, and now, Cubs................oh to be 6 and have such a great social life..........he and Dad spent last Saturday morning at a Cub event where he got to shoot BB guns and bow & arrows.............lord help us.

Lastly - he became the first 1st Grader to achieve 5 Accelerated Reader points this school year.  The AR programme works by assigning library books a reading level and points - once the child has read the book he can take a test on it and receive points.  Once they reach 5, they get given a paper cowboy boot (well it is Texas!), put their name on it and stick it on the 5pt marker outside the library.  Each grade is colour coded so you can see at a glance who is from which grade.  He is VERY happy to be the first white one!
The Reluctant FundamentalistThe Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I suggested this for my book groups summer read (perfect for summer as it's short!) and I'm really glad I did.  It's going to provoke lots of discussion amongst us, and it will be interesting to see if I have a different reaction to it than my American friends.


I enjoyed the way it was written - I wasn't expecting that at all and it was a refreshing change to read that style of narration.  I felt totally engaged with the character and could even understand how he came to feel the way he does.


That ending though..............argh!  I think for a long time I will be wondering which way it went!


View all my reviews

The Vanishing The Vanishing by Tim Krabbé
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A couple on vacation stop at a petrol station - she heads in to buy drinks and disappears........

8 years later, Rex is still haunted by Saskia's disappearance........

I've had this on my wishlist for a while now but can't for the life of me remember why I out it there - not that I'm disappointed!  This book was originally written in Dutch and titled Het Gouden Ei (The Golden Egg) and I think in translation it loses something.  It's short - 115 pages - but I really really enjoyed it, but I never quite felt that it was as chilling as I thought it should've been.

The beginning - leading up to Saskias disappearance - were really well written and set the scene beautifully, but I then felt abit let down by the jump to 8 years later.  However, I loved the middle of the tale and without spoilers, really engaged with the idea that things (good and bad) happen to us by chance....


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Monday, September 12, 2011

Full Dark House (Bryant & May, # 1)Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this up in a bookstore purely based on the cover (not the one pictured above I hasten to add), then when I read the blurb it sounded right up mine and my husbands street.

Well, I'm glad I did.  Young detectives Bryant & May (hehe) are part of the Mets Peculiar Crime Unit and as such investigate the crimes noone else wants or is interested in.  The book begins in the present day when an explosion destroys their offices and kills the now elderly Bryant.  In the process of investigating, May finds himself drawn back to the first case they worked together - a series of unexplained deaths in the Palace Theatre.

The book is told in a dual narrative style which I normally love, but this is where the book lost it's fifth star.  It was sometimes hard to tell at the beginning of each chapter which decade we were in - unless the first sentence mentioned either the Blitz or some modern day tech I found it sometimes took a paragraph or two to work out where I was - which was so frustrating!

In all, a lovely quirky book and I look forward to reading the next in the series.


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Friday, August 26, 2011

I seem to be back on the Fat Club track!

I went back to Weight Watchers 2 weeks ago after a whole summer of not really watching what I ate (or drank)!  Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to find I'd only gained 3.8lbs.  Then after being reasonably good last week I was horrified to gain 0.8lb..............I had a wobble on the scale and nearly cried, which has never happened to me before.  SO ANNOYED.

Anyway, school started this week, and I have walked to and from at least twice a day - and in the afternoon it's been over 100deg - and have got back into my gym routine and really tracked my food.  Which all resulted in a 2lb loss.  SO HAPPY!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

This is why I love Twitter.....

I know there are alot of Twitter nay-sayers out there, but sometimes things happen on that microblogging site that are just brilliant.  A recent example is @Riotcleanup - an account created to help communities affected by the awful scenes in London come together to repair their boroughs.  Within hours they had thousands of followers and accounts for other cities affected had sprung up.  Social media at its finest.

Then tonight, I stumble across a tweet directing me to an account that is busy retweeting peoples dating nightmares.  This guy spent 3 hours or so recounting other peoples HYSTERICAL tales in 140 characters and less............it took on a life of his own, and in the process he gained hundreds of new followers.  This is why I love Twitter.

So, for your reading pleasure - especially if you need a giggle - here are the best of those nightmares - kindly collated by the man responsible!

Dating Nightmares - A Twitter Tale -

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Summer..........Part One

Where did the summer go?  it's August 14th and we only have one more week before school starts.  How did that happen?  Well, we've been super busy and have a had a really brilliant couple of months.

School finished on June 2nd (I think!) and we headed to the Texas coast of South Padre Island for 2 days by the sea.  It was a long drive, but completely worth it as we just relaxed by the hotel pool or on the beach and soaked up the sun.  It was the perfect start to the summer.


 Luke's first boogie boarding attempt


Port Isabel lighthouse


 Black Dragon - a fun way to see the bay.....and some dolphins!




The rest of June was spent playing with friends (both child and us adults!) and spending lots of time in the pool.  The Texas heat makes it difficult to have any motivation to do much else!  Chris was in California for 12 days with work and during this time Luke had his first cub scout event - the Space Derby.........we got the kit to build the rocket 2 1/2 days before the event, and here I owe a huge thanks to our friend Mike Huchko who stood in as Deputy Dad and built the blinking thing with Luke!

We celebrated July 4th with a pool party at house.  The irony of the Brits hosting on Independence Day was not lost on us......

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tennis..........some thoughts on the women's game.

So, world No1 Caroline Wozniaki is under fire for being in that position despite never winning a Grand Slam.  It's a valid point, but hardly the first time it's happened - Dinara Safina faced the exact same accusation.  I'm sat watching Wimbledon now, and it's made me think about the women's game......

My quick peruse of the WTA rankings show 4 players in the current Top 10 have won a Slam.  2 (Clijsters and Sharapova) are "old" players and have not been consistent due to injuries, and retirement and comeback in Clijsters case.  Li Na won her first Slam last month and Schiavone doesn't seem to be as effective in other tournaments as she has been at the French.  The only other former winners I can see in the top 30 are Ana Ivanovic (who dropped drastically after winning the French 4 years ago) and the Williams sisters..............who if they were injury free and played more would probably still be 1 and 2.

And herein lies the problem - to a layman like myself - the womens game is MASSIVELY inconsistent!  The only consistent players were Venus and Serena (but injury has scuppered them) and this has led to players who play the most being Number 1.  Wozniaki plays ALOT and accumulates more points.................and is therefore No1, but can't be consistent enough to play well at the big tournaments.  And the same can be said for the other top women.  Until a few of them step it up a notch (or Sharapova pulls it back together) it's unlikely that the No 1 will be a multi slam winner.

They need to take note from the Mens top 4..................
The Affinity Bridge (Newbury and Hobbes, #1)The Affinity Bridge by George Mann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I didn't think I was going to enjoy this - I'd originally bought it for Chris - so included it on my TBR Challenge for this year.  I'd had an earlier, relatively unsuccessful foray into steampunk so I approached this with some trepidation.....

It's London under Victoria's reign, but ground trains and electric hansom cabs run along the streets, and airships rule the skies.........and a plague like virus is making people zombie like (although for those of you who aren't zombie - or revenants as Mann calls them - don't fear, it's not the dominant story.  I really enjoyed the detective duo - neither of whom are perfect and both have their secrets and darker sides - and I loved the murky and dark setting of a slightly off kilter Victorian London.

I hadn't realised when I started, that this was the first in a series.  A quick internet search revealed that there are two more out there.  So, 2 more for the wishlist, and I'm hoping that the covers are as gorgeous as this one ('cos we all know how important a good cover is!)


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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Casino RoyaleCasino Royale by Ian Fleming
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved this!  I really wish I'd read it earlier.  Hard to believe that this is the book that sparked the phenom that is James Bond, and more so that it was first published in 1953.  This is a different Bond to the one we've grown up with - he's colder and more intense than we're used to, and being a book, we're privy to more insights than you get in the films.  I'm not sure I agree with everything he thinks tho - "He reflected that good Americans were fine people, and most of them seemed to come from Texas" ;)

Of course, there are signs of it's age - attitudes to women are decidedly different to now.  Bond refers to Vesper Lynd as "blithering women who thought they could do a mans work".  You've got to love it.

All in all - I'm really pleased I finally got round to reading it.  A great little spy tale that's decidedly darker than I thought it would be.


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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I'm going to moan,,,,,you have been warned.

Is my body slowly but surely crumbling around me???  I've had terrible knees for years - probably down to playing netball for too long - but have got used to this, although it does come back to bite me now and again, most recently when I tried Body Pump at the gym and was in agony with squats and lunges.

I spent a good portion of 2010 with a badly sprained ankle.  A totally innocent accident which resulted in sprains to both the inside and outside of the ankle.  The fact that my parents were visiting at the time, it was the childs birthday the day I did it, and I went to a concert 5 days after all meant it didn't get the rest it needed and took 7 months to heal "properly" - I still feel it every now and again and if I run on the treadmill (admittedly a rare happening!) it doesn't like it!

Then in March of this year I hurt my back whilst helping Luke to ride his bike.  It's taken a while but it's pretty much back to normal, although I can still feel that pesky sciatic nerve now and again!

And now - I did warn you - I have an incredibly painful neck and left shoulder.  I thought it was our cheap pillows causing the issue, but I've switched to a memory foam pillow (not one of those contoured ones - I can't sleep with them - a regular one) and it's not helped.  If anything, it's worse...................what the heck is going on?!?!  I had a massage last week and have been putting heat on it as recommended, but nothing, zilch, nada.

I know my problems are minimal, but they're mine and I'm FED UP!

Thanks for reading............................sorry!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Catching up....

It's been 5 weeks since I posted and I intend to get back to blogging at least once a week, but for now, it's a quick weight update.  I fell off the wagon, and hadn't weighed (or followed the plan if I'm honest) since Easter (I stopped when I went to LA for a girls weekend and never started again).  So last week I bit the bullet and went back and had put on 6.4lbs.....................BLOODY HELL.

Fastforward to last night, and 2.2lbs of that gain has gone - thank goodness.  I'm tracking properly and have stepped it up a notch at the gym.  I started Bodypump last week and 24 hours after my first experience was walking like my 90 year old Nana!  It'll be worth it though.

Just quickly - here's a gorgeous recipe I made tonight (and all 3 of us loved it!) - thanks Weight Watchers!
Asian Quinoa Salad

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Because It Makes My Heart Beat FasterBecause It Makes My Heart Beat Faster by Peter Michael Rosenberg
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book was originally published back in the mid-'90s but has been released for Kindle and because it was 99c I downloaded it.  The premise really appealed to me - man wakes up in the night to find a gunman in his house..............just my kind of thing (I was thinking it may be like a Simon Kernick/Grant McKenzie thriller) but I feel really let down.  Most of the story is flashback - and there doesn't seem to be any connection (unless I'm missing something) between these and the present.........I kept thinking that eventually the two would tie together but they didn't, and then it just ended....

The language used in the book was a little off-putting.  The book is (mainly) set in London yet there are words used by the author that are American (vacation/high school) and were jarring - it really stood out and distracted me from the reading experience, and there was also alot of foreign words in italics - WHY?  I can tell a foreign word when I see one, I don't need it to be written in a different way!

This author has a new book coming out soon but I'm really not sure whether to give it a go or not.  This book had so much promise but just failed to live up to the first few chapters.


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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Review - Queen Victoria, but not as we know her!

Queen Victoria: Demon HunterQueen Victoria: Demon Hunter by A.E. Moorat
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was really looking forward to reading this but I feel abit let down.  I wasn't sure if it was meant to be scary or funny - it didn't really scare me (and there were parts of it that, done differently, would have been horrible) but it did make me laugh - just not enough for me to be sure that that was the intention throughout.  I did particularly like the moment when Quimby tells a "photogenic drawing" expert that the French word of "photographie" will never catch on.

With a few exceptions the characters weren't developed brilliantly, and there were parts to the plot that were never explained (or, if they were, I missed them) and seemed inserted just to explain away other parts.

This was first foray in Steampunk - I have another on my TBR and I can only hope it leaves me more satisfied than this!


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Monday, February 21, 2011

Religion......

Wow, it's not like me to talk about anything "serious" on this blog, but I've been thinking alot lately about the differences between the people I know in the UK, and the people I know here.  I think it's safe to say that I know more religious people here than I've ever met in my life........and that's not an exaggeration.

Just about everybody I know goes to church, their kids are actively involved in church youth groups and Sunday School and many of my friends often quote the Bible on Facebook, and others have a biblical quote as their signature in emails.  I'm not afraid to admit that it was abit disconcerting when we first moved here - it's SO different to the life I had before (yes, I lived next door to the Padre, but apart from his family and one over the road.............not a sausage) that I wasn't really sure what to make of it - how crazy is that!

It was only after I was invited to join a bible study group, and the girl who had asked didn't decide I wasn't worthy of talking to after I declined that I realised it really doesn't matter!!!  We all breathe, we all want to have fun and enjoy ourselves, we all want health for our friends and families...........who cares if everyone but us (and the Aussie family, so we're not alone!) goes to church.

BUT.................I have a couple of friends (much older than me) who are EXTREMELY religious (A friend told me recently that they could be described as "religionist" = whereby they are against anyone not of the Christian faith - I love this word!) and I have so far been able to avoid talking about my views with them.  I know on certain subjects we couldn't be further apart in where we stand yet I don't want to get into it with them as it would potentially lead to some unpleasantness and I don't want this.  It led me to think though - why is it seemingly ok for them to proclaim their views and tell stories loud and proud, yet I am keeping quiet..........there has been more than one occasion where I've wanted to tell them what I think (after all, they tell me often enough) but haven't.

Anyway, that's it.  Just some musings from me....................oh, the other thing I've noticed is that anyone in the public eye HAS to be of faith.....politicians, rock stars, athletes etc.  It almost seems the kiss of death if anyone wanting to get anywhere in this country doesn't go to church or talk about their faith.  It just doesn't happen in the UK the way it does here...................and finally - if I feel abit conflicted about dealing with certain people over this subject, is it any wonder that religion is the main cause of most conflicts and wars around the world and throughout time?

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Wicked Appetite - Janet Evanovich





Seven Stones of Power. No one knows when they were created or by whom, each said to represent one of the Seven Deadly Sins. 

For centuries, treasure hunters have been eager to possess the stones, undeterred by their corrupting nature. The list is long -- Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, to name a few. Now the Stones have found their way to Salem, Massachusetts, and so has Gerwulf Grimoire, adding himself to this rogues' gallery of power seekers. He's an uncommonly dangerous man, with a hunger for the forbidden, and a set of abilities that are way beyond ordinary. Abilities that he feels entitle him to possess anything he might desire. 

That would include Elizabeth Tucker, the woman he needs to find the Stones. She's freshly transplanted from New York City to Boston's North Shore. With a new job as pastry chef at Dazzle's bakery and an old house inherited from her Aunt Ophelia, her life is pretty much on track …until it's suddenly derailed by a guy named Diesel, a rude monkey, and a ninja cat. 




The first in a new series by the creator of Stephanie Plum.  In true Evanovich style, there are some weird and quirky people, and some crazy happenings.  Unlike the Plum universe though, this is set in Salem and has a magical/mystical element to it.  However, I'm not too sure about it - when my favourite character is a monkey it makes me wonder...............and even though I've finished it and laughed out loud in some places I'm still not 100% sure on the plot, where it was going and what they were doing......never a good thing in my opinion!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

An update on the weight...!

Since rejoining Weight Watchers towards the end of last year I've lost a total of 13lbs.  I'm really pleased but the weight I am now is the weight I was when I first did Weight Watchers in 2003, which just proves that the lack of exercise due to the bad ankle through much of last year cost me dear!

Weight Watchers have introduced a new programme called Points Plus (I think it's Pro Points in the UK - why do they call them something different?  Seems ridiculous to me..........) which I really like as fruit is FREE..........completely and utterly free.  Makes such a difference!  Lots of people have been moaning and groaning about it, but I have complete confidence in the people at WW HQ who design the plans.  Lets face it, when they first introduced the points programme in the "olden days" I'm sure there were lots of complaints about that, and look how successful it's been!

I've found lots of WW based food blogs which has been a total blessing, and it's also expanded my range of recipes - much to Chris and Lukes joy.  In fact, Luke declared one dish "scrumptious" - high praise indeed from a 5yo.  Here are links to two of them: http://www.skinnytaste.com/ and http://pointersisters.blogspot.com/

I don't know yet what I want my goal weight to be, but I know I want to lost at least the same again.......it helps that I'm actually enjoying the gym at the moment (Thank you Apple for inventing the Ipad which means I can read and listen to music at the same time!) and have discovered hula hooping!

So that's where I am.  Let's hope I can get to where I want to be...........in fact, let's hope I can figure out where I want to be!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Birthday trip to the Middle Of Nowhere, TX


In an earlier post I mentioned we were off into the wilds of Texas for Chris's birthday weekend.  We packed up the car, collected Luke from school and hit I10 - 6 hours later we arrived in Fort Stockton where we were staying for the night.  I'm not really sure what it's famous for - it was once a military outpost and some of the buildings remain - other than a rather large roadrunner:


Unfortunately I was up all night being sick on Friday which meant we had to abandon our plans to see the town of Balmorhea (Pronounce Bal-Marie) on Saturday morning and instead we headed to the "city" of Alpine where the lovely hotel staff let us check in early so I could go to bed!  I think Alpine is the biggest of all the populated areas in this part of Texas - lots of hotels/motels, the ever present McDonalds and Dairy Queen, and most randomly, a university: http://www.sulross.edu/pages/1.asp Now, no offence to Alpine, but I wonder how many out of town students they have?  I can't imagine it's a "hot" destination for those looking at schools!

The sickness meant I couldn't go to the Star Party at the McDonald Observatory with Chris and Luke, which was such a shame, but I'm glad they got to go.  They returned full of stories (and in Lukes case VERY tired!) and we decided that if I was better we would head back the following day to see it again - which also meant the boys would get to see the big telescopes, which they couldn't do at night as the astronomers were in there working.

Luke being Jupiter.....

Getting to move the HUGE telescope


There's a whole lot of nothing out there.....


So after returning and seeing the Observatory by day (which was fascinating) on Sunday we decided to drive to the town of Marfa and abit further West to see "Prada Marfa", an art installation by the side of the road just outside the city of Valentine (I use the term city lightly - it has a population of just over 200 and the only life we saw were 4 dogs and a horse.  The library was the nicest building we saw - much to my delight!)




I'd heard about the fake Prada store through a post over at www.readitswapit.co.uk (if memory serves, it was through Anne Cater) - about the bids to fill the empty 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square.  One of the companies bidding previous work includes this, and once I found out it was in Texas I was hoping we'd have the chance to go and see it!

Sunday night was spent eating dinner in a proper diner with booths and stools at the counter and watching NFL playoffs in the hotel room.  We then ventured back out to Marfa - it is the home of the mysterious Marfa Lights - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marfa_lights  The city has made a special viewing area - although I thought the sign telling us it was for night time viewing only was a tad obvious!  We saw something, but whether it was "the" lights or not, I'm not sure.  It fascinated me how many people were there - the town plays on this though and has an annual Marfa Lights festival!  

Although I was feeling much better, I was exhausted by the end of the day!  Unfortunately  that night, both boys were up being sick.  Luckily (if I can call it that) Chris was only ill the once, but Luke (and therefore I!) were up every 45mins or so................fast forward to the Monday morning and a long long day in the car!  Thankfully, we made it home with no incidents and I can honestly say I've never been so glad to see my bed.

Illness aside, it was a great trip, and amazing to see the vast nothingness of the Big Bend region of Texas.  It's the polar opposite to the big cities and fast paced life that we've become used to.  I'll leave you with this great photo Chris took (the beauty of the isolation means that randomly stopping on the side of the highway is generally not an issue!):


Brooklyn - Colm Tóibín

Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the years following World War Two. Though skilled at bookkeeping, she cannot find a job in the miserable Irish economy. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn to sponsor Eilis in America -- to live and work in a Brooklyn neighborhood "just like Ireland" -- she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind.


BrooklynBrooklyn by Colm Tóibín
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really really enjoyed this.  I opened it thinking it was going to be a tale of one girls awful experience in the move to a foreign country and filled with tales of how the awful Americans treated her.  So, what a pleasant surprise to find that Eilis was treated well, her job wasn't horrendous and she had a comfortable (if abit socially uncomfortable!) place to live.

I liked Eilis and really felt for her when news came from home and was abit surprised with the ending.  I wasn't sure how I felt about her decision at the end when I first read it, but 7 hours later I think it was the right one.

I shall be looking out for more of Toibins work.


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So, this is book No7 of my challenge to read 100 this year.......I should get one more done before the month is finished so I´m really pleased with the start to the year!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Men and Memory

.....or lack therefore of in my husbands case!  I was soaking in the bath earlier thinking I could hear what sounded like a hot water tank - which it couldn't be as it's in the garage, miles away from where I was.  So I dismissed it.  Fast forward an hour, and I'm in the living room (Chris having just gone to bed) when I can hear said noise again.........only now it sounds like the outside tap................I wander into the bedroom and say "I think the outside tap is on" to which Chris responds by leaping out of bed and running outside:  he'd turned it on about 3 hours previously to fill up the pool...........................thank goodness I heard it and didn't dismiss it!

I can't be the only one with a husband with a shoddy memory, can I?   Don't even get me started on the bath mat issue...............

A Belated Happy New Year....

So, an un-book related post from me.  Happy new year to everyone - I hope 2011 is everything you want it to be.

So the last month or so has flown by.  We had a mammoth road trip to Florida for Christmas: 3500 miles, 5 states and Disneyworld :)  We had an absolutely wonderful time - packed 3 parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios) into 3 1/2 days and also managed a trip to the Kennedy Space Center.



Fact Fans - Each stripe on the US flag on the side of the Vehicle Assembly Building is 8ft wide!

Memorial Garden

How gorgeous is that sand!  Pensacola Naval Station, Florida - on the Gulf Coast




Magical

I could talk forever about the trip but I won't.  Suffice to say - I want to go back.  There's so much we didn't get to see, and that's without adding Epcot and Universal Studios into the mix!

The trip home was pretty uneventful - we stopped in New Orleans but didn't do as much as we'd liked as Chris had an awful cold so Luke and I did some sightseeing but not much else.  We plan on going back at some point!

And then we got back into Texas, and stopped to see this:

Beaumont, Tx.  It used to be the worlds largest fire hydrant....

We are heading to the wilds of West Texas on the 14th Jan - for Chris's birthday we are off to the McDonald Observatory for a Saturday night star party.  This is how isolated it is:

Who knows what we'll see on this trip!



Tuesday, January 04, 2011

And another challenge.....



This "shouldn't" be too difficult................read 12 books that have been on my TBR for longer than 6 months by the end of the year.  My 12 picks are:

Affinity Bridge - George Mann Finished June 28th
Thin - Grace Bowman - Finished April 1st
The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee - Rebecca Miller No longer have!
Labyrinth - Kate Mosse Finished October 30th
The Closers - Michael Connelly - Finished Feb 12th
The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne - Finished March 18th
Casino Royale - Ian Fleming Finished June 23rd
Between Heaven and Ground Zero - Leslie Haskin - Gave up Aug 15th.  Got halfway through and couldn't do anymore!
The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Mohsin Hamid - Finished Sept 12th
Corpsing - Toby Litt - Finished June 7th
Native Tongue - Carl Hiaasen Finished Dec 31st!!!
Capital Crimes - Faye & Jonathan Kellerman  - Can't find!  In storage possibly......
Train - Pete Dexter (Replacement book) - Finished Aug 10th
Always & Forever - Cathy Kelly (Replacement book) Finished November

Monday, January 03, 2011

100 Books In A Year....



So, Treez, over at www.lovelytreez.com has signed up to this challenge and I am too.  I read 83 books last year which was up on my 2009 total, and my tastes have diversified greatly in the last year so I'm hopeful that I can do this.  So, wish me luck and if you fancy joining in, head on over to Book Chick City ................and good luck and happy reading!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

ZeitounZeitoun by Dave Eggers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wasn't sure about reading this book as non-fiction doesn't often do it for me, but this read more like fiction and was compelling, awful, sad and uplifting all at the same time.  In a way, I wish it had been fiction as it's still mind-blowing to me that what happened Abdulrahman Zeitoun, his family and the rest of New Orleans didn't have to happen, and in a so-called civilised society, it shouldn't have.

This book is a wonderful glimpse into one mans journey post-Katrina, the struggle his family has to maintain some normalcy whilst not knowing what has happened to their husband/father, and it shines a spotlight onto the best and worst of those who were meant to be in charge and helping........


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