And the winner is…

undset.jpgKristin Lavransdatter!  It was close there, until Danielle voted for it at the last minute.  Anybody care to read along?  At over 1000 pages, I expect it’s going to take me awhile.  

PS: Heather – I would LOVE to read The Faerie Queene with you!  I read some of it in college, adored it, and have been wanting to read the whole thing ever since.  Nothing like waiting 7 years to complete that goal, huh?   Since I will have a newborn in September, how does October sound to you?  Anyone want to join in with THAT challenge?

And, since this fits kind of perfectly with Lesley’s Armchair Travelers challenge, and, as of the end of this month, I have no challenges going, I may as well join in as well! You know me; can’t resist a book challenge.  Well, I resist a bunch of them, but it’s very hard.  The goal is to read 6 books between July 1 and December 31, fiction and nonfiction are both fine.  This will be great too, because I’ll get a few books off the mountain TBR!  So without further ado, here are my 6 choices (and a few alternates!). 

1.  Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset – Fiction (Scandanavia)
2.  Storyville by Dale Peterson – Nonfiction (America)
3.  Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independant Woman by Alice Steinbach – Nonfiction (Europe)
4.  Red Poppies by Alai – Fiction (Tibet)
5.  Eleven Minutes by Paulo Cohelo – Fiction (Brazil)
6.  Cloud Mountain by Aimee Liu – Fiction (California/China)


1.  The Burning Times by Robin Morgan – Fiction (Ireland)
2.  Save Me the Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald – Fiction (The South)
3.  Blue Latitutes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before  by Tony Horowitz – Nonfiction (Pacific Ocean/South Pacific)
4.  The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (Cuba)
5.  The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost – Nonfiction (Kiribati/South Pacific)
6.  The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri – Fiction (India)

Should be fun!  I can’t wait to get started!

What to read next! Poll!

I truly meant to read more…challenging…works of literature this year.  So far, I’ve only succeeded in reading one book that I was determined to read: The Complete Sherlock Holmes Vol 1.  Well, I meant to read Vol 2 as well, but I feel I need a break inbetween volumes.   I have a TON of classics and huge honking whopper books that I want to get to, but I can’t decide which I want to read.  It’s TOO varied a choice!  So I’m asking for your help.

Which book should I read next?

1 – Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset
2 – The Agony and the Ecstacy by Irving Stone
3 – The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser
4 – The Lord of the Rings (Nope, never read them!  Only The Hobbit)
5 – Oh go on and finish up Sherlock!
6 – Other

So let me know in the comments. What challenging book should I read next???

*Yeah, I changed a book.  So sue me.  🙂


For want of something better to do, (and this is one of my most favorite games anyway) I’ve stolen this from Nat at In the Spring in is the Dawn.  Totally boring day here y’all.   Although, I should be doing lots of things; getting Estella ready, working on my Once Upon A Time challenge post, finding my hubby a job…  (obviously, these are not necessarily in order of imporance!)  No, here I am, goofing off with an easy post.  But it was fun.  And actually kind of hard.  H is not an easy letter!

1. Famous singer/band: ———– Uh…Hannah Montana? Hoobastank?? Huey Lewis and the News???
2. 4 letter word: —————– Hell
3. Street name: —————— High School Street (My high school is on this road!)
4. Color: ———————— Hot Pink (I know, cheating!)
5. Gifts/presents: ————— HD DVD
6. Vehicle: ———————– Honda
7. Things in a souvenir shop: —– Hats
8. Boy name: ——————– Harry
9. Girl name: ——————— Hannah
10. Movie title: —————— Highlander
11. Drink: ———————— Hot Chocolate
12. Occupation: —————— Hairdresser
13. Flower: ——————— Heliotrope
14. Celebrity: ——————– Hayden Christensen
15. Magazine: ——————– Harper’s Bazaar
16. U.S. city: ——————– Houston
17. Pro sports teams: ———— Hurricanes (NC’s Hockey Team)
18. Fruit/vegetable: ————– Honeydew Melon/Haricort Verts (fancy French green beans)
19. Reason late for work: ——– Had a flat tire (all I could think of!)
20. Something you throw away: — Happiness
21. Things you shout: ———— Hurrah!
22. Cartoon character: ———– Huckleberry Hound


And, since I’m bored, one last beach picture of my sweet wee girl.  Ain’t she the cutest? 

This 'n that

exploding-computer.jpgWhat a week this has been!  And it’s only Wednesday!  One of the strangest things happened to my computer Monday.  It “semi” crashed.  When I left for work I turned it off, like I always do.  When I came home, it was on, and it was acting like it was a brand new computer.  By that I mean it took me through all the steps it took me through to set it up when I first bought it.  By the time I finished, I discovered that – thank GOD – all my files were present.  My pictures are safe!!!  My programs are all gone, but easily reinstalled.  All in all, I think I got lucky.  I think.

In other news, I finally bit the bullet and joined Netflix.  I hoping it will save us some money in the long run, as my hubby would much rather buy a movie that rent one.  The convenience of being able to mail it back will help, I hope.  Anything I need to watch?

Still no job for the hubby.  He had an impromptu job interview last week, but the guy he interviewed with is on vacation this week, so we hope to hear next week.  How impromptu?  He walked into the office to hand in a resume and as luck would have it, the hiring manager and his boss were both there and one thing led to another and they interviewed him!  It sounded like they were really pleased with him – he lives in a good, convenient location, good experience, etc, etc.  So fingers crossed!

Coming soon – my Once Upon A Challenge recap, Queen of Camelot review (which is fantastic so far!) and maybe a belly shot picture.  So you can see how huge I am!

Julie & Julia

juliejulia.jpgJulie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously
By Julie Powell

If you’ve been reading this blog, or my cooking one – pitiful as it is – for very long, you probably have some idea of how much I love to cook.  This book came about at the perfect time for me.  I turned 29 in January.

Nearing 30 and trapped in a dead-end secretarial job, Julie Powell resolved to reclaim her life by cooking, in the span of a single year, every one of the 524 recipes in Julia Child’s legendary Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Her unexpected reward: not just a newfound respect for calves’ livers and aspic, but a new life–lived with gusto.

So, did you ever hear about the Julie/Julia Project?  Julie Powell decided to do the above, cook all those recipes, and document it all on her blog.  And this was back when no one even KNEW what a blog was.  She became very popular and by the end was a sensation and landed a book deal for her trouble. 

I found myself really identifying with the slight, not exactly mid-life, but crisis all the same, that Julie finds herself in at hitting the age of 29.  I don’t know that I would go to the extreme of cooking all the recipes in Julia Child’s cookbook (I’m not much for calves brains and chicken livers!) but I could identify with the “where am I going with my life” aspect of Julie’s story. I too feel like I’m in a deadend job.  Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing with myself.  Why am I not doing what I want to be doing most?  I haven’t found a crazy plan to fix myself yet like Julie did (or did I?  T-Minus 11 weeks until the little man is here!). 

I found Julie’s writing to be refreshingly honest and candid.  Her humor is infectious.  She holds nothing back as she describes the various recipes she cooks (and how gross some sounded!) and how her crazy scheme affected her life, family and marriage.  I’ve heard some say they are wary of books by bloggers.  I’m sure you’ve heard, some people think bloggers can’t really write.  Whatever.  (See that!  I colored that green for a reason!) This book is not just for foodies, or bloggers, but anyone who has struggled to find her (or his) place in life and just want to be given the chance to be happy with their life.  Highly recommended.

The Rest Falls Away

vamp.jpgThe Rest Falls Away: The Gardella Vampire Chronicles
By Colleen Gleason

In every generation, a Gardella is called to accept the family legacy of vampire slaying, and this time, Victoria Gardella Grantworth is chosen, on the eve of her debut, to carry the stake. But as she moves between the crush of ballrooms and dangerous, moonlit streets, Victoria’s heart is torn between London’s most eligible bachelor, the Marquess of Rockley, and her enigmatic ally, Sebastian Vioget. And when she comes face to face with the most powerful vampire in history, Victoria must ultimately make the choice between duty and love.

What is it with me and these vampire books?  I just can’t get enough of them!  (Still waiting with bated breath for Eclipse in August! Gah! I can’t wait!!!)

This one is the start of a romantic/horror series by Colleen Gleason who also writes at her blog For All The World To See.  I’ve seen her on many other blogs lately, promoting the new book in this series Rises the Night, now out in stores.  And I simply must get my hands on it soon because I am hooked on another vampire series. 

Regency England.  Macabre.  Vampires.  Romance.  A decent amount of sex that isn’t TOO smutty, but just right and just the way I like it.  This was a perfect read for the beach and I whipped right through it.  I loved the main character; the Venator (vampire killer) Victoria Gardella.  She begins her career as a Venator in this book, the latest in a very long and distinguished line of vampire killers.  Her characterization was excellent.  She’s young and inexperienced, but thirsting (no pun intended) to prove herself and I liked how Gleason showed that.  It’s nice to come across a strong, independant, yet still feminine heroine.  The plotting was quick and never lagged.  This is a perfect read for vacation or just a hot summers day. 

The Lightning Thief

Percy Jackson and The Olympians Book 1: The Lightning Thief
By Rick Riordan

When I was in college, I was required to take certain courses that were not included in my major (I majored in English).  I tended to go with the easy stuff; art, geography, music appreciation, etc.  One such class was mythology.  I went into it expecting something kind of boring.  I wasn’t a fool, we read Edith Wharton’s mythology in high school, and I was bored stuff.  I wasn’t expecting much better from the college course.

Boy, was I in for a surprise.  I breezed through with an A and a new appreciate for Greek, Roman and Norse gods.  The battles!  The lust!  The murder, love, betrayal, torture, death!!  Mythology had it all!  And then some!

So, imagine my delight, when I picked up with little gem. Slightly reminiscent of Harry Potter; our hero, Percy Jackson, has been “special” all his life without knowing why.  Always causing problems, labeled a troubled youth and sent away to boarding school, Percy is coming into his 12th year and he finally discovers just why he is special.  His father was a god.  Now, caught between bickering gods and fleeing monsters, Percy must recover something very special, and get to know himself and his father along the way.  Not to mention meeting quite a few gods and goddesses who would like to send him on a one way trip to Hades. 

Percy was, in my mind, a great, true character.  He acted just like a 12 year old.  Obnoxious.  Confused.  A little geeky.  Adored his mother.  Hated his stepdad.  Intensely loyal to his friends.  And, unlike another book I read of a similar subject that I will not mention here because I have to review it for Estella, the gods and goddesses acted exactly in the way I expected them too.  Petty, self-absorbed, violent.  The writing was tight, fast-paced and exciting.  It all came together for a very enjoyable read.  I can’t wait to get the next in this series.