Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Book Stats

I am shamelessly stealing this from Marie.  I've enjoyed reading her recaps the last few years and decided to modify her wrap up for my own selfish use. ;)

How many books read in 2012? - As of December 28th, 37. Yikes.  Less than last year's 44 that is for sure! I definitely went in spurts while reading and sometimes I went days without reading. NO no no, not happening again!

How many fiction and non fiction? 3 non-fiction and the other 34 were fiction.  I'm not much of a non-fiction reader and when I am, they tend to be memoirs! Which were 2 of the 3 non-fiction!

Male/Female author ratio? 14 men (actually less because I read 2 books by Mark Gilleo and 3 by Jonathan Kellerman), 23 books by women (also less because I read multiple books written by Lisa Gardner)  For some reason, I've been turned off by male writers in the last few years. 

Favorite book of 2012? This is hard. I'll probably go with Still Alice by Lisa Genova.  I didn't read anything that really blew me away but this one, Sarah's Key, The Violets of March and Gone Girl were all faves!

Least favorite? Probably The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coehlo.  I just could NOT get into it.

Any that you simply couldn’t finish and why? I don't think I did start and stop any this year.  But if it weren't for book club I would not have finished The Devil and Miss Prym, The Drowning Tree or I'm not Scared.

Longest and shortest book titles?  Gone or Hide by Lisa Gardner for the shortest and the longest would be We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver or Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady by Florence King.

How many books from the library? 18! I used the library a lot this year!

How many books read did I purchase? 7 and 3 were used, which is impressive for me!

How many were gifts? 3

How many were given to me for reviews? 4

How many books read on kindle? 2 (I am so not an e-reader person!)

Any re-reads? I did re-read The Year of Fog for book club because it had been 4 years since I had read it and I needed a refresher!

Which countries did you go to through the page in your year of reading? Brazil, United States, Russia, Pakistan, France, Canada, Great Britain, Italy, and Iran

Which book wouldn’t you have read without someone’s specific recommendation? The Devil and Miss Prym or I'm not Scared


2012 TOP TEN Book Events in The Many Thoughts of a Reader's Book Life - in no particular order:

1. Starting up my own Books & Bars book club
2. Continuing our online group read
3. Finally going to my library's used book sale and stocking up on books
4. Reading to my daughter
5. Watching my daughter 'read' books
6. Getting my students to fall in love with The Gingerbread Man
7. Reading on the beach at Anna Maria Island
8. Discussing I'm Not Scared on a pontoon boat while drinking Summer Shandy for book club
9. Getting over people excited to read by sharing my blog
10. Meeting new people through books!

Did you read more books by males or females? What was a top moment in your book life in 2012?


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Best Dishes Made of 2012

Sadly, after the birth of my child, my recipe sharing here as basically ceased.  We take the random dinner photo and I sooo mean to share what we made and then it gets stuck on my phone and I never post about it and such is life.  We do try lots of new dishes alllll the time and I thought I'd share what our favorites have been this year.  Also, we always make our own substitutions/changes to what we find.  Well, I do.  My husband has a hard time going off the recipe.  I think going rogue is half the fun!

In no particular order here were the top dishes in our household:

French Toast Casserole -  Booboobear stole the show for us on Christmas Day breakfast.  This will definitely be a repeater!

French Toast Casserole
Serves: 6 - 8

1 loaf sliced French Bread
1 c. Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 c. Milk
8 Eggs
1 tbsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
½ tsp. Nutmeg
½ tsp Cinnamon

Topping:
1 c. Butter
1 c. Chopped Pecans
1 c. Brown Sugar

Tear bread into chunks. Place in 9" x 12” buttered pan. Mix Condensed milk, milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, Nutmeg and Cinnamon. Pour over bread. Mix butter, brown sugar and pecans. Dot this over the bread mixture. Cover with foil and bake covered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Can be refrigerated overnight.


Sour Cream Noodle Bake - Hmmmmm hmmmm good! I introduced my husband to the Pioneer Woman and he is a fan!  This was delicious, very easy for a weeknight and plenty of leftovers! I used more sour cream and less cottage cheese than she did because of the ingredients I had handy!

Skillet Chili Mac & Cheese - My husband and I are not big fans of goulash but like all the ingredients.  We decided this was sorta like goulash BUT FREAKING AMAZING and the only way we'd ever make anything goulash related EVER.  So good! Also an easy middle of the week meal and tons of leftovers!




Skillet Chicken Parm - Can you tell I like one pot easy meals for the week? This is another from Iowa Girl Eats and it was super easy for a girl who HATES cooking chicken in anyway besides the crockpot! The sauce was super tasty and I used a very basic store brand kind with just the added parm cheese.  The flavor from the chicken was delicious!

Hearty Potato Soup - Here we go again with a one pot! This crockpot meal is super tasty and so easy to put together.  We've never made it with bread bowls and mine has never looked like the picture that is shown with it, but it is SUPER good and super tasty.  I'd suggest leaving on the skins and mashing the potatoes when you add in the flour/1/2 and 1/2, or use heavy cream, that's super good.  Oh and add cheese. ;) 

Jalapeno Popper Dip - OMG this is so good.  My husband made it (using jalapeno slices chopped up) and it was soooooo soooo good.  And it lasted forever since it was just for the 2 of us.  Whoooops.


Warm Bean Dip - I've made this for a couple parties now and it is a hit. Looove it.  And added in jalapenos. ;)

Chicken Enchiladas -  I cook the chicken in a crockpot all day and shred it.  Then I take one 14 ounce can of red enchilada sauce and mix it in with a big scoop of sour cream.  I put some on the bottom of a 9 by 13 pan.  Then I take tortilla shells (burrito size usually), spread re fried beans on them, add chicken, cheese on top, sprinkle some sauce and roll them up.  Top with the rest of the sour cream/red sauce and cover in cheese.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  DELICIOUS.

Homemade Meatballs & Sauce -  The hubs followed The Pioneer Woman's recipe for the meatballs and then we turned it into sub sandwiches for one meal and spaghetti and meatballs for another two days! Hubs even had it for lunch another! Sooooo tasty!

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin -  OMG this is so good.  We've grilled it and baked it and it is very tasty!!

Chicken Tortilla Soup - I cooked the chicken in a slow cooker all day with chicken broth/water/hot salsa and then shredded it. Then I used 2/3 cup of the strained liquid from the chicken to mix in with the soup in place of 2/3 cup of chicken broth. It was deliciousssssssssssss. OMG so good. I made biscuits with it. Yuum.

•1/4 cup butter OR margarine
•1/4 cup all-purpose flour
•3 cups chicken broth
•1 cup milk
•8 oz. Velveeta  – cubed
•10 oz. can diced tomatoes and chilies
•2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
•1 1/2 tsp. cumin
•1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
•salt and pepper – to taste
•shredded cheese

1.-In a pot, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes.
2.-Slowly whisk in small amounts of chicken broth at a time, then whisk in milk.
3.-Reduce heat to low and stir in Velveeta cubes; stir until melted.
4.-Stir in diced tomatoes and chilies, chicken, and spices


I found this from some site and I apparently don't have the link, so if it is yours let me know and I will link to you! Delicious!!

What were the yummy things you made this year? Have you made any of these?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady

OMG.  This book CRACKED ME UP. Florence King wrote this semi-autbiography about growing up with one crazy ass family and her exploration with which sex she wanted to be with.  We read it for our December Books & Bars pick which we will discuss next week, but it was basically decided upon because of the back of the book description, "no matter which sex I went to bed with, I never smoked on the street."  Bahahaha.

Her Granny is crazy obsessed with turning her into a 'lady' since her mother is so not a lady, she curses! A lot.  In the 1950s.  Her dad is a Brit who is very smart but very weird.  It is by far a very weird living situation and with all of her Granny's attempts to turn Florence into a feminine lady, Granny is soooo not feminine and ladylike!  She is obsessed about talking about periods and blood and people going crazy and well just anything else that I would think normal people would think are UNLADYLIKE.

Basically, her Granny is a hoot and Florence is hysterical.

Florence has a hatred for 'malkins.'  Which is basically normal conventional women who want plain normal basic things and don't think off the cuff.  She LOATHES them.  The way she writes it is sometimes easy to forget this was someones life and it really happened.  She is just freaking hilarious and I can't even properly document it because it just needs to be read. 

It could possibly offend some people with its language, but it's nothing that you haven't heard before and the sex moments are not anything that hasn't been shown on TV!

There were a few moments when I could totally hear my grandma's voice in some of the comments, especially about NOT smoking on the street.

Oh my, it's hilarious.  You should read it!

What is the funniest book you've read recently?

Friday, December 28, 2012

We Are All Welcome Here -- Final Discussion

Happy Friday!

I have a jumble of feelings about this book.  Overall, I liked it.  It's a nice story, but I think it was trying to cover too many topics.  It would have been awesome if it stayed on Diana/Paige and the civil rights stuff with Peacie and LaRue or if it did Diana/Paige and the Elvis angle more in depth.  I think with all the different angles it had it didn't fully do the side stories justice.  I would love to read something else by her in 2013.

1. Why do you think Diana likes to play with Suralee

2. What do you make of Dell’s courtship of Paige? Were you surprised by his treatment of her? Disappointed? How do you think Diana feels about their relationship, both while it is happening and once it is over?

3. Berg chooses interesting and appropriate names for a few of her characters, such as Peacie. Do these monikers enrich the characters, in your opinion? Do any other names stand out for you? Why?

4. At the end of the novel, Diana tells us that she says a prayer every night, and that she always thanks her mother. Diana adds, “I tell her I’m fine. I say I’m happy. I say she was right.” What do you think she means? What was Paige right about?

5. If you could ask Elizabeth Berg a question, what would you ask?

6. Overall, what were your thoughts on the book?

I am a complete dope and December got away from me.  I did not post a suggestion post or do a poll.  However, I did send out a tweet to those who normally participate and we will be reading Those Who Save us by Jenna Blum.

Info: For fifty years, Anna Schlemmer has refused to talk about her life in Germany during World War II. Her daughter, Trudy, was only three when she and her mother were liberated by an American soldier and went to live with him in Minnesota. Trudy's sole evidence of the past is an old photograph: a family portrait showing Anna, Trudy, and a Nazi officer, the Obersturmfuhrer of Buchenwald.

Driven by the guilt of her heritage, Trudy, now a professor of German history, begins investigating the past and finally unearths the dramatic and heartbreaking truth of her mother's life.

Combining a passionate, doomed love story, a vivid evocation of life during the war, and a poignant mother/daughter drama, Those Who Save Us is a profound exploration of what we endure to survive and the legacy of shame.


We will have two discussions, the first over the first half  on January 11th and the rest/whole book on January 25th!

Thanks for participating in book club in 2012! ;)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Best Books of 2012

I've read a decent amount this year.  Not the most I've ever read, but not the least either.  I hate to post this before the actual end of the year, but I figure it will be okay to leave off a great read or two if I polish them off in the next few days. ;)

The Violets of March – Sarah Jio: A heartbroken woman stumbles upon a diary and steps into the life of its anonymous author.  Beautiful story.

Blindsighted – Karin Slaughter: A small Georgia town erupts in panic when a young college professor is found brutally mutilated in the local diner. But it's only when town pediatrician and coroner Sara Linton does the autopsy that the full extent of the killer's twisted work becomes clear 

Winter Garden – Kristin Hannah: illuminates the intricate mother-daughter bond and explores the enduring links between the present and the past.

Sarah’s Key – Tatiana de Rosnay: Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel' d'Hiv' roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.

Still Alice – Lisa Genova: Alice Howland - Harvard professor, gifted researcher and lecturer, wife, and mother of three grown children - sets out for a run and soon realizes she has no idea how to find her way home. She has taken the route for years, but nothing looks familiar. She is utterly lost. Medical consults reveal early-onset Alzheimer's.

Looking for Alaska – John Green:  Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe.

Prisoner of Tehran – Marina Nehmet:  What would you give up to protect your loved ones? Your life?In her heartbreaking, triumphant, and elegantly written memoir, "Prisoner of Tehran," Marina Nemat tells the heart-pounding story of her life as a young girl in Iran during the early days of Ayatollah Khomeini's brutal Islamic Revolution.

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn: Marriage can be a real killer. One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong.

The Faith Club – Ranya Lidlby, Suzanne Oliver and Priscilla Warren: Welcome to the Faith Club. We're three mothers from three faiths -- Islam, Christianity, and Judaism -- who got together to write a picture book for our children that would highlight the connections between our religions. But no sooner had we started talking about our beliefs and how to explain them to our children than our differences led to misunderstandings.

We Are All Welcome Here - Elizabeth Berg: features three women, each struggling against overwhelming odds for her own kind of freedom.

Interesting facts: 6 of these were group reads that we did on the blog, 4 of these were Books & Bar picks, 6 were recommended by people I either met on the Internet or blogs and 1 I had no interest in picking up, but ended up liking a lot.

What were your best reads of 2012? Have you read any of these?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Lock and Key

I was on a YA kick about 2/3 years ago? I can't even remember now, but in that time frame, I read a few books by Sarah Dessen and I really enjoyed them.  So when I was at the library last month, I picked up another one of hers to read and I was NOT disappointed.

Ruby's mother left her alone in the yellow house they were currently residing in and fortunately/unfortunately for Ruby, it only took social services 2/3 months before they uncovered the 17 year old living alone.  She is sent to live with her older sister, Cora, whom she hasn't seen in 10 years, since the her older sister left for college and never contacted her again. 

There are a few hiccups for the two sisters but they are mainly buffered by Cora's husband, Jamie, who is pretty cool and Ruby really likes.  Of course there are ups and downs with the new living arrangement, as Ruby tries to run away on the very first night she is staying with them! She begrudgingly befriends the next door neighbor Nate and in doing so, learns more about herself and friendship than she's ever known before.

I liked the character of Ruby because she was NOT written as a stupid / stereotypical girl teenager that I've read in so many other YA books.  She is a strong real character with real life situations and handles them in real life 17 year old ways.  It also handles the way her life drastically changes in an a way that I think is realistic.  Of course, it could be said that Ruby is written in a better light than some of her older friends, but it is her story to tell.

I also enjoyed the project that Ruby's new Literature gave them that required Ruby to find out what family means.  She must define it herself and interview others to find out what it means to them.  It helps her growth and guides her decision making as the book progresses,

Have you read a book by Sarah Dessen? Which is your favorite?

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Next Accident

Lisa Gardner is an author that I was meaning to check out this year and I have.  The last couple I was not impressed with, but were her earlier works.  This one was a bit further in and I really enjoyed it.  I did miss a book in the FBI Profiler Series, but it really didn't phase me since the first book I'd read in this series actually happened after this book, so I already knew the relationship between Pierce and Rainie. 

Synopsis:
FBI Agent Pierce Quincy is haunted by his daughter's death in a drunk-driving accident. Pierce knew about his daughter's problem with alcohol, and about her loneliness. And so, he is sure, did the man who killed her. Rainie Conner is an ex-cop with a past overshadowed by violence. She was once involved with Pierce in a harrowing case that brought them together personally and professionally. Then, he came to her rescue. Now it is time for her to help him. This killer is different. He has an insatiable hunger for revenge - and for fear. He isn't satisfied with taking his victims' lives - he wants to get inside their minds and strip them of every defence. And his target is Quincy's surviving daughter. Rainie believes that the only way to stop him is to put herself directly into the killer's murderous path and herself become - the next accident.

The book kept me on my toes and there is the obvious answer that isn't so obvious and the hmm maybe answer and the BOOOM answer if you are paying attention.  I like books like that. ;)  There isn't anything really graphic and the story line kept me intrigued. 

I'd definitely recommend this one for people who like who dunnits that go at a quick pace. ;)

What author do you recommend to people who like fast paced books?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

This Week's Menu

We are obsessed with food in this house.  And I like a good plan.  Especially, since I have about 20-30 minutes to prepare a meal before my child goes crazy and acts like we are starving her each evening after we get home from work. I'm pretty excited for this week.

Sunday - Homemade meatballs on day old Jimmy John's bread ( we LOVE day old JJ's bread).  Seriously, it is amazing and cheap! We've made garlic bread with it, Philly steak and cheese sandwiches and tonight - meatball sandwiches!

Monday - Spaghetti with leftover homemade meatballs and JJ's bread made into garlic bread.

Tuesday - Out to Bennigans to enjoy their $1 kid's meal and a visit with Santa ;)

Wednesday - Baked Chicken Quesadillas (using chicken leftover from our whole chicken (we froze it!) that we cooked last weekend and made homemade stock and chicken and dumplings!

Thursday - Skillet Chicken Parmesan (THIS IS AMAZING! We made it a couple weeks ago and yumm)

Friday - Beef Enchiladas

Saturday -  leftovers

Sunday - Christmas Party

I get a slight thrill out of re purposing food/using leftovers to make something different.  Also, I'm liking our family grocery shopping trips we've had the last couple of weeks and definitely buying everything on sale/stocking up and just restocking our basic needs.  We saved about 50 bucks off of what we'd been spending in just being a little more smart with our purchases.

What's for dinner at your house? Any recipe you think we should try out? Where do you get your food inspiration?



Friday, December 14, 2012

We Are All Welcome Here - Discussion 1

Hola!

I am really liking the book so far.  Every time I've sat down to read I am immediately engrossed.  My first thoughts: Diana is an immature brat, her mother is a saint, Peacie is awesome, Suralee is trouble and they are so getting into trouble.


1. At the end of the Prologue, speaking about her mother and herself, Diana reflects: “[Elvis] had a kind of great luck and then terrible tragedy. For us, it was the opposite.” What do you think she means by this?

2. How does Paige compensate for her disabilities and serve as a strong parental figure for her daughter? Do you think Diana is forced to grow up a bit faster than other kids her age because of her mother’s condition? Why or why not?

3. Despite skepticism from the medical community, Paige Dunn gives birth to her daughter, Diana, in an iron lung, and they both survive. Even more amazingly, Paige is determined to raise Diana despite her condition. What do you think about Paige’s decision to keep her baby? Do you support her?

4.  Elizabeth Berg includes an Author’s Note at the beginning of the book, informing us that this work of fiction is a bit different from her other novels. What did you think of this choice before reading Berg’s story?

5. What other fictional female character would you compare to Diana? Peacie?

Thanks for participating! Hope you all are enjoying the book!

Monday, December 10, 2012

On The Menu This Week

We are embracing the colder weather and the Food Network shows and meal planning a bit better these days.  Oh, and taking full advantage of the various local stores ads!

Sunday - Chicken & Dumplings (Thank you, Pioneer Woman! )

Monday - leftovers

Tuesday - Grilled Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Rolls and Pea

Wednesday - Crockpot Potato Soup and leftover rolls

Thursday - leftovers

Friday - out for a Christmas party

Saturday - Baked Chicken Quesadillas w/ chips and salsa

What's on your menu this week?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Doing Better Week 1 Recap

Last weekend I got a kick in the pants and realized I needed to move my body more.  And drink more water.  And make better food choices.  So I re-started.  Here is how I did.  (Somewhat embarrassing results coming...)

Sunday -   Brisk five-minute warm up walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

Monday - Brisk five-minute warm up walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

Tuesday - 1.5 mile walk

Wednesday - 50 minute leisurely walk around the mall (yes, I was a mall walker with a stroller!)

Thursday - off

Friday - off

Saturday - off

The good news? I lost 3 pounds.  That is sad.  I also drank more water Mon-Wed than I have recently, but then Thursday - Saturday the water drinking went down hill.  I made better food choices and that helped a lot too.  I originally planned for more working out but, life got in the way.  So, we start again this week. 

My goals for this week? Go faster/harder on the running and make it at least 5 days of movement!

I also confess to liking the treadmill.  I know I go longer on a treadmill than if I were to venture out on the streets by myself.

How did you do this week?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Other Daughter by Lisa Gardner

Melanie Stokes was found in an empty Boston hospital room at the age of 9 with no memory of her life before then, or knowledge of her name.  She was adopted by Dr. Harper Stokes and his wife Patricia who were still reeling over the loss of their daughter Meagan 5 years earlier.

Flash forward to the present and Melanie is accosted by a report Larry Digger who claims she is the daughter of the serial killer who killed the Stokes's first daughter. DUN DUN DUN....

And then you need to relax our mind and forget that you will question the rest. ;)  Or maybe it is just me.

The story got completely crazy and out of control and I predicted half of it but it was mindless and a quick read.

I just can't really handle the: I smelled him and now I love him / I must protect the girl / let's become crazy close fast / Let's break the laws and/or rules of my job because I just met you and OMG I LOVE YOU / Or alllll the people conspire to be bad people and well you get the hint...

But in the end, I did read it and it did keep my attention and I only rolled my eyes a couple times. ;)

I also used to read stuff like this all the time between the ages of 12-21 haha

What book have you read recently that you'd recommend?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Currently Reading...

For the first time in awhile I am juggling books.  Probably a bit crazy on my part, but such is the life of a multi-tasking reader.

The first one, The Other Daughter by Lisa Gardner is a breeze to read and is part of her FBI Profiler Series.  I like it fine, but I've found a few errors and I am a bit over the OMG I JUST MET YOU BUT I HAVE AN INSANE ATTRACTION TO YOU AND LETS MAKE OUT, BUT NO, IT WONT BE RIGHT, WE MUST WAIT, OR I WILL HATE MYSELF, SAAAAVE ME STRONG MAN FROM MY STUBBORN WOMANLY WAYS, BUT OH WAIT, YOU ARE A STUBBORN MALE AND WE MUST FIGHT AND LIE AND OMG IT'S THE END AND WE ARE HAPPILY EVER AFTER.  Okay, so I'm not done and I don't know if they will be happily ever after, but I bet they will be

The Blue Bedroom and Other Short Stories, is one that I picked off my giant To-Read Shelf this weekend in the basement.  I've picked it up off and on as I go down to use the treadmill.  Yes, I read while I warm up.  And I must say, it's not really striking me as a must read because I keep putting it down before my warm-up is over.  I may need to concentrate more on it.

We are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg, I haven't technically started.  However, it is sitting next to my chair at all times.  It will be started for REAL as soon as The Other Daughter is over, probably before.  But for REALS when it is done and I CANNOT WAIT.

I need to order Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady for our Books and Bars pick!  We just read The Faith Club and I would highly recommend it.  It is a very interesting read about three moms.  Jewish, Muslim and Christian who get together to write a book for children after 9/11 and end up writing an adult book about their journey in religious stereotypes, finding their own place and how people could be more tolerant.  Good good good read.

What are you reading?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What I Will Be Doing This Week

Working Out.

A lot.  And the next week, and the week after and so on and so on.

I've made a 9 week plan and it must be done.  I don't even want to admit how much weight I've  gained since school started.  Ugh.  Must move body.  Must make better food choices.

I'm pretty disgusted with myself and there isn't much I can do with what I've done, but I can do something about tomorrow. So, I shall.  No excuses.  Yell at me if I try to back out of working out on twitter.

Friday, November 23, 2012

December's Group Read is...

We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg!

About the book:

Elizabeth Berg, bestselling author of The Art of Mending and The Year of Pleasures, has a rare talent for revealing her characters’ hearts and minds in a manner that makes us empathize completely. Her new novel, We Are All Welcome Here, features three women, each struggling against overwhelming odds for her own kind of freedom.

It is the summer of 1964. In Tupelo, Mississippi, the town of Elvis’s birth, tensions are mounting over civil-rights demonstrations occurring ever more frequently–and violently–across the state. But in Paige Dunn’s small, ramshackle house, there are more immediate concerns. Challenged by the effects of the polio she contracted during her last month of pregnancy, Paige is nonetheless determined to live as normal a life as possible and to raise her daughter, Diana, in the way she sees fit–with the support of her tough-talking black caregiver, Peacie.

Diana is trying in her own fashion to live a normal life. As a fourteen-year-old, she wants to make money for clothes and magazines, to slough off the authority of her mother and Peacie, to figure out the puzzle that is boys, and to escape the oppressiveness she sees everywhere in her small town. What she can never escape, however, is the way her life is markedly different from others’. Nor can she escape her ongoing responsibility to assist in caring for her mother. Paige Dunn is attractive, charming, intelligent, and lively, but her needs are great–and relentless.

As the summer unfolds, hate and adversity will visit this modest home. Despite the difficulties thrust upon them, each of the women will find her own path to independence, understanding, and peace. And Diana’s mother, so mightily compromised, will end up giving her daughter an extraordinary gift few parents could match.

I'm excited to read this! The first discussion will be December 14th over pgs. 1-66 and on December 28th we will tackle the whole book/rest of the book1 Hope you will be joining us for our last discussion of 2012.  Thanks so much for participating again! If you have any suggestinos for improvement please them in the comments!  Have a great weekend!!

Gone Girl - Discussion 2

Happy Friday!

I loved this book.  It was so messed up, but it kept me coming back for more.  I devoured it.  Horrible people and all.  When we discussed this for Books and Bars I was the only one who thought she had run away and framed him.  Some thought she had tried to leave him and he hurt her and then she left him or that he had done it.  I also felt sympathetic towards him for most of the book.  Until the very end.  Still felt slightly bad for him because I feel like he was the lesser of the two evils but yeaaaaaah.

1. In the second part of the book, once you know the truth, what did you think was going to happen with Nick and Amy?

2. Do you think someone could actually plan every detail of a set up or murder as perfectly as Amy did?

3. What did you expect to happen after Amy returned? Were you surprised by her "final precaution?" Do you think that would truly be enough to get Nick to stay? Would you have deleted your story like Nick did?

4. Nick stops strangling Amy and thinks, "Who would I be without Amy to react to? Because she was right: As a man, I had been my most impressive when I loved her -- and I was my next best self when I hated her...I couldn't return to an average life" (396).
Is this believable? Is it possible for Nick to be more fulfilled in an extraordinary relationship where he is understood even if it is manipulative an dangerous?

5. At one point, Amy quotes the advice "Fake it until you make it." Later, Nick writes, "We pretend to be in love, and we do the things we like to do when we're in love, and it feels almost like love sometimes, because we are so perfectly putting ourselves through the paces" (404).
Generally speaking, do you think this is good marriage advice? Do Nick and Amy disprove this advice?

6. In what way does Amy's background—her parents' books about her perfection—affect her as an adult?

7. Movie time: who would you like to see play what part?
Thanks for participating! Hope you join us in December!

Monday, November 12, 2012

December Group Read Suggestions

It's that time of month again! I'm so impressed that we've kept this up over the past few years.  I'm so glad I have a chance to discuss books with you ladies!

So far we've read...

Gone Girl
Prisoner of Tehran
The Wednesday Sisters
Looking for Alaska
Cutting for Stone
One Summer
The Year of Fog
Winter Garden
The Violets of March
Rebecca
State of Wonder
The Invisible Bridge
The Postmistress
The Scent of Rain and Lightning
Still Missing
The Sandalwood Tree
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Something Borrowed
The Blue Orchard
Sammy's Hill
In the Woods
Shanghai Girls
The Weight of Water
Water for Elephants
The Color Purple
The One That I Want
The Secret Garden
House Rules
American Wife
Firefly Lane
Middlesex
The Reader
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The Awakening
Pride & Prejudice
I See You Everywhere
What would you like to read in December? Suggestions will be taken until November 15th and then I will put a poll up on the sidebar!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Menu for the Week...

Now that I'm back to work and my dinner planning/prep time isn't as relaxed as it was during the summer I am really pushing myself to menu plan.  I hate when I am making multiple trips the grocery store for crap aka spending more than we need to when I seem to have a plethora of pantry/freezer items.  This week I'm feel super good about myself because we used up a lot of freezer stuff and pantry items.

Saturday
For breakfast my husband made us pancakes and we had leftovers that we froze so that I can give them to Isla during the week.

Lunch -
We re-purposed our Taco Pie leftovers from the night before and made them into nachos.  Yummm.

Dinner -
My husband used up a ton of chicken we had in the freezer that needed to be used up and made homemade chicken noodle soup.

Sunday
Breakfast -
I made egg mcmuffin sandwiches with coffee for the adults.  Milk for the child.

Lunch -
Leftover chicken noodle soup

Dinner -
Ribs, baked potato and homemade chocolate chip cookies for dessert

For the rest of the week's dinners we have:

Monday - Chili made in the crock pot (LOOOVE my crock pot!)
Tuesday - leftovers
Wednesday - BBQ Pork Shoulder in the Crock with baked potatoes and corn
Thursday - leftovers
Friday - Teriyaki Chicken withe veggies and pasta

My biggest thing for the week is to have leftovers every other night or sometimes like last week enough for three meals! I always try to make it slightly different with different sides or turning it into something else.


What is on your menu this week?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Gone Girl - Discussion 1

Hola! Wow, so this book is creepy.  And um who is telling the truth??? And why lie? How much hate can you have for a person? So many questions and just wow.  This book is giving me anxiety over how crappy everyone is!

These questions are based on the first part of the book!

1.  Consider Amy and Nick Dunne as characters. Do you find them sympathetic...at first? Talk about the ways each reveals him/herself over the course of the novel. At what point do your sympathies begin to change (if they do)?

To be honest, I never liked Amy.  From the beginning she seemed dumb or needy or just ridiculous and I kind of related to Nick.  However, the further into the book I got, the more fucked I think they both were hahaha.  About the time Nick admitted to his affair is about the time more of his asshole ways started coming out. Oh and when the lawyer told him to end things with Andi, and he did it easily.

2. Nick insists from the beginning he had nothing to do with Amy's disappearance. Did you believe him, initially? When did you begin to suspect that he might have something to do with it?

I believed him.  As soon as he mentioned his wife's favorite vase leaning agains the wall instead of smashed I thought she set him up.  And her diary entries seemed to be all lies.  Only when he started seeing her all bloody did I doubt, but I honestly didn't think he did.  I feel like she screwed him over big time.

3. On their fifth anniversary, Nick wonders, "What have we done to each other? What will we do?" Is that the kind of question that might present itself in any marriage? Yours? In other words, does this novel make you wonder about your own relationship? And can you ever truly know the other person?

4. Amy and Nick lie. When did you begin to suspect that the two were lying to one another...and to you, the reader? Why do they lie...what do they gain by it?

5. Do you find the Gillian Flynn's technique of alternating first-person narrations compelling...or irritating. Would you have preferred a single, straightforward narrator? What does the author gain by using two different voices?

I liked the back and forth.  I will admit that it got me a little to anxious because I was getting so ANGRY with Amy for lying in her diary about Nick.  I apparently decided to take Nick's side ha.

Thanks for participating! The last discussion will be on November 23rd!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Mistaken Identity

I've been meaning to read a Lisa Scottoline book for a couple years now.  I picked this one up last summer at the library's used book sale it was fast paced and kept me entertained.

Bennie Rosato is a defense lawyer who specializes in cases involving corrupt police.  She semi-retired from it but then gets a special phone call from an inmate.  When she shows up to the meeting she gets a shock.  The inmate, Alice Connolly, claims to be her long lost twin.  Bennie gets sucked into Alice's case and starts questioning her own life.

 Alice is awaiting trial for the murder of her boyfriend, Detective Anthony Della Porta.  Of course nothing is as it seems and Alice is adamant that she did NOT kill Della Porta and that the police are framing her.  Bennie doesn't believe her at first but as she takes over the case she learns that her previous lawyers did NOTHING to prepare for Alice's capital murder trial which alarms her. 

The storyline was good, the characters entertaining and the writing was decent.  The only thing that irked me were the last 10ish pages of the book.  It was a rough ending and I think it should have been a bit different (who ACTUALLY killed Della Porta and the way Scottoline ended the police conspiracy drama).

Have you read any books by Lisa Scottoline?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Currently...

feeling busssssy bussssy busssssy.  One more busy weekend and then a bit of a break before the holiday busy starts.

reading Mistaken Identity by Lisa Scottoline, the last two books I've read, Prisoner of Tehran and Gone Girl, were FABULOUS!

longing for summer.

laughing Jon Stewart.  My boyfriend is FUNNNNNY.

crying at how bad some of my students have it.

looking forward to meeting my new Niece!

journaling never.  I pretty much stopped when I started online blogging back in 2000.

celebrating a successful joint 30th birthday bash at our house for two of our friends!

eating salads.. lots of yummy salads lately.  With Raspberry and Walnut Vinaigrette

running zero miles.  But walked about 5!

hoping something would magically take out my house so we could start over on it from the GROUND (literally that is where our current issue is) up

anticipating Halloween!

planning on having Friday off!

drinking dark good beer. Oh, how I loooove dark beer.  Especially in the Fall and Winter!

missing my grandma.

listening to whatever the country station plays or ESPN radio.

making memories with my girl!
Hope everyone had a fantastic weekend! I sure did! Got to spend some good time with friends and family.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Prisoner of Tehran - Discussion 2

Happy Friday!

So glad we read this book.  I really enjoyed it.  I'm sad I forgot that there were some passages I wanted to share before I returned it to the library.  Whoops.

1. Marina's experiences were truly extraordinary. Did this make it difficult for you to relate to her? In what aspects of her life and personality did you connect most with Marina? At what points did you have the most difficult time connecting with her? What surprised you most about Marina?

2. Marina's feelings for Ali are complex and wrenching. On page 231, Ali says, "I wanted you, but I'm not that selfish. If there was a way, I would have let you go, and then I would have probably killed myself with a clean shot in the head." Do you believe him, or do you think his actions were motivated solely by his desire? Ali's mother tells Marina that he is "a good man." Do Marina's feelings for Ali's family change her opinion of him?

3. The imagery of the "washable" nature of the written word occurs throughout the book, such as when Marina sees Sarah's body covered in tiny words: "And she washed the words off her skin. The Book of Sarah. Alive, breathing, feeling, hurting, remembering" (page 119). Later, when Marina returns from Evin, she learns that her mother has destroyed her books and her grandmother's life story: "Washed books. The written word drowned, silenced" (page 259). Why is it significant that washing words destroys rather than cleanses them? How does this imagery of "washed words" apply to Marina's story?

4. On page 237, Marina and Ali have an argument about the execution of political prisoners. Ali supports the idea of self-defense, while Marina responds, "I will not kill another human being." With whom do you agree? Why do you think that Marina's and Ali's parallel experiences as political prisoners resulted in opposite viewpoints? Do you think that gender plays a role in their reactions?

5.When Marina and Andre decide to illegally marry, he says to her, "I know that marrying you is dangerous. But I want to do it. We can't give in. We're not doing anything wrong" (page 264). Do you think their decision to marry illegally is brave or foolish? Is it significant that these words come from Andre, who had not been imprisoned, rather than Marina?

6. When Marina returns after two years in Evin, she "felt like a stranger" at home; she wonders if the lack of questions about her experience is "their way of protecting me or protecting themselves." This conversation echoes the one between Marina and her husband at the beginning of the memoir, when he apologizes for "not asking" about her experience. Are Marina's parents and Andre protecting her, themselves, or both? Do you think Marina would still have shared her story with the world if she had originally been able to speak about it with those closest to her? Why?

Thanks for participating!! Hope you join us in November!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

November's Group Read!

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn will be November's Group Read! 

Description:  On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around


Discussion over the first 200ish pages will be on November 10th and the discussion over the last 200ish pages/whole book will be on the 24th! Hope you will join us!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Love is...

This was inspired by a recent wedding I attended where I may have been snickering in the back row from the 'advice' given by the priest/minister.

Love is...

- going to bed angry.

- letting your daughter where the clothes of the team you despise.

- marrying someone who is a fan of your rival.

- soaking poopy clothes on your bathroom counter.

- wiping someones nose.

- picking off all the mushrooms.

- laughing at things that no one else would laugh at, especially the super 'wrong' things.

- not nagging.

- watching Pawn Stars.

- driving slowly through Ann Arbor so your husband can talk pictures of stupid maize and blue crap.

- accepting that your spouse is as liberal as they come.

- bringing home ice cream when you work late.

- reading the same book over and over and over and over and over again.

- accepting another persons friends even when they annoy the shit out of you.

- buying someone books for Christmas even when you don't like reading and hate spending money on books.

- not perfect, nor should it be.

What is love to you?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

You Typed in What???

Every few months when I check out my blogs stats it always cracks me up.  Seriously people of the internets... what are you looking for??

what kind of suit would true headcats wear in 1942?  - ummm say what?

susan crichton martineau marriage - who???

what creates mush in the reader's mind - this has been searched for multiple times and why am i the first search result??

There were also multiple searches for mac and cheese and sausage, invisible bridge discussion questions, searches for Halloween books I've posted about in the past, ultrasound searches, and mostly other book related searches. 

Much better than the last time I checked and there were multiple searches for grandpa's doing inappropriate things to grandmas!

What's the funniest search question you've come across?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Dear Friday,

I am so glad to see you.  It has been a week.  The weather has flip flopped.  The temperaments of my toddler and my preschoolers have flip flopped.  I completed my first 5K in the rain.  I've had a beer for a weekend breakfast. I've laughed super hard this week.  I've dripped silent tears over the loss of a family member.  I've seen pure joy on my child's face as I make silly noises at her.  I've watched her become more confident in saying words this week.  We've added the words book and door to her repertoire.  Like I said, it has been a week.

I'm excited to spend another weekend with my family.  I hope we see some sunshine as we have an outdoor wedding and we really want to go to the pumpkin patch.  It should be a great weekend for football.  MSU vs. UMSUCK and the Lions are on Monday Night Football.  Oh, and did you know my TIGERS made it to the World Series by SWEEPING THE YANKEES???? I hate the Yankees so this makes me very happy.

I'm hoping to catch up on a weeks worth of blog reading, do some laundry, lounge in some sweatpants and play with my girl.

How was your week?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Suggestions for November Group Read

It's that time of month already! Time to throw out suggestions for next month. 

List of what we've already discussed...

Prisoner of Tehran
The Wednesday Sisters
Looking for Alaska
Cutting for Stone
One Summer
The Year of Fog
Winter Garden
The Violets of March
Rebecca
State of Wonder
The Invisible Bridge
The Postmistress
The Scent of Rain and Lightning
Still Missing
The Sandalwood Tree
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Something Borrowed
The Blue Orchard
Sammy's Hill
In the Woods
Shanghai Girls
The Weight of Water
Water for Elephants
The Color Purple
The One That I Want
The Secret Garden
House Rules
American Wife
Firefly Lane
Middlesex
The Reader
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The Awakening
Pride & Prejudice
I See You Everywhere

Suggestions will be open until the 17th and I will put up a poll on the sidebar!

What do you want to read in November?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Prisoner of Tehran Discussion 1

Happy Friday!

I am in love with this book.  I'm flying through it every time I sit down to read.  It terrifies me that things like THIS HAPPEN.  I just cannot accept that people think seeing a woman's hair is the end of the world.  I cannot accept that disrespecting one's religion or their religious entity deserves death.  CRAZY PEOPLE CRAZY. I am so thankful to live where I live and be able to think and say like I do.  Also, how brave is Marina? I wish to say I'd do the same, but man.  Yikes.

These questions are based off of Chapters 1-13.

1.  At the end of chapter 13, Ali gives Marina an ultimatium.  Marry him or people she loves will be in trouble.  Kill herself and people she loves will be in trouble.  What would you do if you were in Marina's situation? What do you think she will do?

2. On page 46, after Marina has been locked outside on the balcony as a punishment by her mother, she decides to rebel, saying "I knew that my mother would get angry, but I didn't care; I couldn't bear my solitary confinement any longer." How do you think childhood experiences such as this one affected Marina's reaction to prison? Was she more or less equipped to deal with the conditions and restrictions imposed at Evin as a result of how her mother treated her?

3. When Ali saves Marina just seconds before her execution she remembers: "His eyes focused on mine, Ali walked toward me. I wanted to run. I wanted Hamehd to shoot me and end my life" (42). Why do you think it was worse for Marina to be rescued by Ali than to die by execution? Does Marina's reaction reflect more broadly on the role of women in Iranian culture?

4. The memoir begins with Marina landing in Canada with her husband and child; we know from the outset, therefore, that her marriage to Ali has ended and that she has remarried. How did this knowledge affect your view of Marina and Ali's relationship? If Marina's marriage to Ali had truly been a "life sentence," would you view it differently

5. What passages strike you as insightful, even profound?

I hope you are all enjoying this as much as me! If you are, I'd recommend Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi or The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood if you haven't read either of those!  Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What Isla is reading v.3

My girl melts my heart every day with her love of books.  She is holding them the correct way most of the time and will even sit and pretend jibber jabber read to herself, which is nice since she usually is begging for someone else to do the reading ALL THE TIME and the quiet moments I get to make dinner or clean up while she reads to herself are amazzzzing.

So, here is what is currently amusing my dear.

Five Little Pumpkins - She loooves pointing at the pumpkins and counting them.  She also can point out the ghost on each page if you ask her where the ghost is.  I like this because I used to do this with a preschool class of mine.








Ten Little Ladybugs - This book is almost destroyed.  She loves it that much.  She sits on it, putting her little nose right on the raised ladybugs.  She will help me count them and she sways back and forth when I read the rhymes in the book.  The early childhood educator in me loves it.  She has one-to-one correspondence! ;)





Peek a Who - I'm pretty sure she loves this one because there is a mirror at the end and she can kiss herself.  Plus, there is a cow and she can moo.









Baby Bear, Baby Bear What do you See -  She likes the repetition in this book and sways with me and helps me point to the pictures.

I love that I have a daughter who already adores books! I am actually going to go buy her some more pumpkin books soon because I selfishly want us to have more.  And for her. 

What are your favorite books to read in the fall?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Bullets..

- I am currently drinking a fabulous local raspberry wheat beer and enjoying nap time.

- I make no excuses about the fact that I've been horrible about updating my blog.

- I only seem to think of negative post ideas and not all of them should be shared.

- I feel like my thoughts can be shared quicker in a twitter format.

- I'm sad that the sky looks more winter than summer.

- My girl is becoming more and more fun.

- I worry about her speaking all the time even though I know damn well I shouldn't worry yet.

- I love pumpkin.

-  I feel like cooking up all the fun recipes I've pinned but haven't tried but the scale keeps telling me I should pin some more salads.

- I should eat as well as I feed my child but I love cheese too much.

- I'm kind of ready to be over chicken.

- I wish I liked ground turkey.

- I wish money wasn't needed for everything.

- I wish I could decide what I want to do with my schooling.

- I need to stop procrastinating.

- We bought new furniture and I'm super excited!

- I've started Christmas wish lists for everyone in our family and I realllly hope that the people who ask us what we want will actually look at them and not just buy us random crap.

- I hate wedding/baby showers.

- I'm sad that when I had my showers no one really took what I wanted into consideration and get super jealous over cute/small showers that had so much thought/detail put into them.

- I'd love to throw a shower like I mentioned above but I've been ignored.

- I am dreading our family weddings this month.

- I need to find a cheap/reliable/easy to install second convertible car seat and I'm struggling.

- I feel like I'm really succeeding in my goal to not force my viewpoints onto my child (minus the whole ohio state fan thing, that's non-negotiable ;) ).  I mean she eats mushrooms (i hate them), she likes cats and dogs (i do not).  It's all in the baby steps. 

- I'm kind of over martyrs.

- I need to get a family photo done soon.

- I went to the OSU/MSU game last weekend in East Lansing and had a blast.

- I cannot go to any games in Columbus this year because I freaking forgot about my SILs shower that is the day I made plans with my dad to go down.  I'm kind of pissed about this. (see earlier bullet about hating showers)

- I'm loving football season.

- I need a Pumpkin Spice Latte this week.  The cheap gas station stuff isn't working for me anymore.

GO BUCKEYES!!!!!!!!

Happy Saturday.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Wednesday Sisters - Discussion 2


Hi!  It’s Lisa from Lisa’s Yarns. Since I was the one who suggested this month’s book, I figured it was only fair that I do a post about it!  This book has been on my to-be-read list for quite awhile, and I was especially excited to read it after Emily gave it a rave review. 

 I knew I’d like it, but the book still exceeded my expectations.  It made me wish that I had a group of local girlfriends to discuss books and writing with – but I am thankful to have all of you to chat with each month! 

 Now for my thoughts on the book! I think the main reason I liked it was that the characters seemed really real.  They had their flaws, but in general, they seemed like people you’d encounter in life.  I also loved that the book was set around the same time that my mom was in her 20s/30s.  It made me wonder what it was life for to experience things like the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Nixon/Watergate controversy, and the women’s lib movement. 

 
Here are my questions!


  1. The Wednesday Sisters really rely on one another to help them grow as writers.  Do you or would you share your writing with anyone for their critique/feedback?
  2. Early in the book, the Wednesday Sisters congregate in a funeral parlor and take pictures in a coffin (creepy!) and imagine what they can accomplish in their lives that will not perish in their death.  Did this make you think about your life and what you’d like to accomplish?
  3. To show their support for Linda, the Wednesday Sisters all shave their heads.  Be honest – is that something you would do for a friend?
  4. Through the novel, the friendships are complex, constantly evolving, and occasionally downright messy.  Yet even as their bonds are tested, the group endures and grows stronger.  What do you think keeps their friendships growing stronger rather than breaking apart?
 
Thanks, Lisa! I'm glad you enjoyed it.  Hopefully you all can join us for next month's book, Prisoner of Tehran!

 

 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Prisoner of Tehran..

...is the October Group Read!

From goodreads: What would you give up to protect your loved ones? Your life?In her heartbreaking, triumphant, and elegantly written memoir, "Prisoner of Tehran," Marina Nemat tells the heart-pounding story of her life as a young girl in Iran during the early days of Ayatollah Khomeini's brutal Islamic Revolution.

In January 1982, Marina Nemat, then just sixteen years old, was arrested, tortured, and sentenced to death for political crimes. Until then, her life in Tehran had centered around school, summer parties at the lake, and her crush on Andre, the young man she had met at church. But when math and history were subordinated to the study of the Koran and political propaganda, Marina protested. Her teacher replied, "If you don't like it, leave." She did, and, to her surprise, other students followed.

Soon she was arrested with hundreds of other youths who had dared to speak out, and they were taken to the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. Two guards interrogated her. One beat her into unconsciousness; the other, Ali, fell in love with her.

Sentenced to death for refusing to give up the names of her friends, she was minutes from being executed when Ali, using his family connections to Ayatollah Khomeini, plucked her from the firing squad and had her sentence reduced to life in prison. But he exacted a shocking price for saving her life -- with a dizzying combination of terror and tenderness, he asked her to marry him and abandon her Christian faith for Islam. If she didn't, he would see to it that her family was harmed. She spent the next two years as a prisoner of the state, and of the man who held her life, and her family's lives, in his hands.

Lyrical, passionate, and suffused throughout with grace and sensitivity, Marina Nemat's memoir is like no other. Her search for emotional redemption envelops her jailers, her husband and his family, and the country of her birth -- each of whom she grants the greatest gift of all: forgiveness


Sounds super good!! Can't wait! Discussions will be on October 12th and 26th!

Will you be joining us?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Current Loves

With the school year starting, I've felt myself slip into a new mindset and season.  I lik oe to get every last ounce out of my summer but as soon as I get into the classroom it just seems like fall to be and the random 80 degree days are just absurd ha.  I feel like if I am in a hot box with no a/c it better be fall like weather.  With this mindset of it must be fall, and today's wakeup temp of 36!!! I thought I'd share a few things I am currently loving or craving.

-Pumpkin Spice Lattes  Okay, okay, I am sooo late to love on these but I swear in the past they were just ehh to me, and this year? THEY ARE AMAZINGGGG.

- Pumpkins.  I want them everywhere and I really had to talk myself out of putting Isla in her pumpkin shirt today.

- Fall decorating .  I suck at decorating in general but the one thing I do every year is break out the fall decorations and candles! hmmmmmm.

- Apple crisp.  I want it bad.  Too bad our apple trees are a big suck this year and I will have to either bite the bullet on expensive apple buying or forego it this year.

- Sweatshirts.  I want them on all the time.  Even when it is 70 degrees.  See also: My husband thinks I'm crazy.

- FOOTBALL!  College, pro, fantasy.  I am obsessed.  Weekends after 12pm are pretty much booked through February. ;)

- Caramel Natural Bliss Creamer.  Yummmm.  I've been drinking a ton of coffee lately.  See also: back in the classroom

- Hay rides/corn mazes and pumpkin patches.  I want to go to one.  Badly.

So, obviously, even though my first love is summer, I'm very ready for fall activities.  And perhaps, Thanksgiving Break. 

What are you loving or craving lately?