The Kids Review It: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Earlier this year, I committed myself to reading more with my kids. Now that my boy is 4, it is easier to find things I can read with both of them (my girl is 8). The first book we made it through was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Of course both of them have seen the movie and that probably helped hold their attention a little bit. It was familiar, yet different enough to give them something new. They both claimed, very excitedly with lots of jumping up and down and shouting, that they LOVED THE BOOK.

Yes, my kids are jumpers. *sigh*

Given that I asked them their thoughts on the book a week later and the detail they remembered, I think that they did REALLY LOVE THE BOOK and we’re just putting on a show for me.

Yes, my kids are very much showpeople. *sigh*

Without further ado, here is what my kids thought of Charlie. Keep in mind, I led with the question, “What did you think of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

4YO Boy: Good. I remember the part where they went in the Glass Elevator. I liked that part. I liked the part when they moved the chocolate in the TV and made it tiny. I liked the part when they saw the chocolate waterfall. Really. Also liked the chewing gum and Violet turning into a blueberry. (Collapses into a fit of giggles).

8YO Girl: I loved it. I guess I liked the part where Violet got fat when she turned into a blueberry. All the kids got what they deserved because the kids were mean and Charlie was nice. He wanted to share his chocolate from his birthday with everyone else, but they wouldn’t let him. I liked that they got to move to the chocolate factory, all of them, and that the poor people sort of got more money and got more to eat and Charlie gets to stay there and work on it. And I am glad he found the dollar and found the golden ticket. I love that book!

As you can probably tell, the girl got a bit excited and started running on sentences. That last part, “I love that book!” was proclaimed VERY loudly. All in all, I think our first read was a rousing success! In fact, the girl took an AR test on the book last week and made a 99. *proud face*

Now we’ve moved on to another familiar story; Charlotte’s Web. Since they are begging for more every night, I think it’s going pretty well!

Stuff I Love Saturday (10)

Honestly, this seems to be the only think I love today. At least so far. I’ve listened to it about 20 times this morning and I don’t see it slowing anytime soon. Well, that, and also this:

I am very happy Kelly introduced me to The Civil Wars yesterday. Thank you Kelly!

I’ve hit a bit of a cooking slump, which happens way more than I would like too. This has led me to look at a ton of recipes this week, seeking inspiration. Here are a few things I’m wanting to try:

Cranberry Chicken from Family Recipe Box. That picture just makes me drool.

Rotisserie Chicken in the Crock Pot from Busy Mommy. Apparently I’m craving chicken.

And lastly, Blackened Chicken with Roasted Garlic Alfredo from Plain Chicken.

I’ve also found a few books I want to add to my TBR, which I can actually add books to said TBR.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Isn’t it ironic that the author’s last name is Strayed? Inevitable comparisons to Bill Bryson have been made, which, well, suckered me into wanting to read it. PR FTW!

Zibilee has me wanting to read The Face Thief by Eli Gottlieb even more than I already did. I read Now You See Him back in 2009 and, while I didn’t love it, it did really stay with me, which always brings my admiration of any book up. Plus, I’m interested to see how this author has grown.

After many urgings from Jenn at Devourer of Books, Irish at Ticket to Anywhere, and Kathy at Bermuda Onion, I’m getting Ready Player One today. I can’t wait to start it!

Also, Renay and Jodie and rebooting NerdsHeartYA and they want help. If you want to help, check out this post to find out how! I love NerdsHeartYA!

What are you loving today?

Have a great weekend everybody!

So, about that trip…

since I think Kathy is going to get me if I don’t talk about Asheville a little bit.

To put it bluntly, I LOVED IT.

We left Wednesday before lunch and arrived about 4:00. Since we had never been to Asheville before, we decided to make our way downtown. The first order of business was to score some food. So many people gave us restaurant suggestions, but my uncle was adamant; we had to go to Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria. So, we went. It was great, not quite as great as much uncle built it up to be (don’t tell him that!), but still really good. I loved their crust. And the slices are HUGE! After that, we went walking.

And I fell in love. Not only with the city, but THIS PLACE (and I’m using thumbnails for most of this post, you can click to see them bigger):


This is the Battery Park Book Exchange and Wine Bar. And it is amazing. It is a used book store that, obviously, has a wine bar inside. And all these large, comfy looking chairs and couches. It is heaven y’all. Heaven.

We specialize in books about North Carolina, American History, the Civil War, and the American South. Not what you’re looking for? Check out gardening, architecture, poetry, or psychology. Whether it’s fiction or foreign language, cooking or transportation that interests you, we have something for everyone.

Interested in selling your books to us?  We are currently purchasing books in excellent condition.  Call the store for more details and to set up an appointment. Ask for Brooke or Thomas. (828) 252-0020

And they do mean excellent. All the used books looked brand new. Many of the hardcovers had been, I don’t know what you call it, but wrapped like a library book, with the cellophane covers? And the prices, despite the fancyish looking atmosphere, were very reasonable. Well, except for the very old first editions that are locked up behind glass. Geez y’all, I wish I had had my camera so I could show you. There were some truly amazing books in there, some even signed by their authors. They even have an espresso dog bar, “where all dogs eat and drink for free!”

Of course you’re wondering, what did I get? I got one book. Yes, it was hard, but I did have my very not readerly hubby with me. And you guys, he had to talk me into getting it, and I am so glad he did. It was actually on the more pricey side, but it. is. gorgeous. See:


See? Gorgeous. I loooooves it.

After we, reluctantly on my part, left Battery Park, we wandered a bit more. The slightly annoying thing about downtown Asheville we discovered is, they “roll up the streets at 6?” I believe the saying goes? All the stores, except the two bookstores, were pretty much closed! That and the bars. So, we went to Malaprops. I wish we had waited until the next night. My head was so full of Battery Park that, sadly while very very very nice, Malaprops was a rush and a no purchase, and a hard to compare kind of place. Next time we go, I’m going there first, and I’m eating there, and I’m staying for a good while.

The next day was rainy and cold, so we tooled around the Parkway, then went back downtown. We had the best. lunch. EVER. at this little hole in the wall place called The Noodle Shop. I got the best HUGE bowl of Wonton Soup I have ever had. And the hubby got some sort of spicy calamari stir fry that he is raving about a week later. It was so good, we went back Friday night. That night we went to see The Woman in Black, which gave me the heeby jeebies. Mr. Ratcliff did a great job carrying most of that movie by himself. And dude, it freaked. me. out.

Friday, we went to Biltmore. Finally. I have wanted to go to Biltmore for years upon years. And I loved it. I loved every square inch of that place, down to the TWO STORE LIBRARY. That George Vanderbilt dude LOVED BOOKS. Being a gentleman of leisure and so independently wealthy that it makes me sick, he did a LOT of reading. There was no photography inside, but I managed to find a picture of the library:

Sit back and drool. All it needs is more comfortable furniture.

Saturday, we rushed home to the babies, whom we were missing pretty badly by then. So there you have it, my wonderful bookish trip to Asheville. We WILL be going back.



Gillespie and I by Jane Harris

Back in 2006, I read a little novel called The Observations, by Jane Harris. I never reviewed it, but I remember enjoying it very much. When the opportunity came to read and review her newest book, Gillespie and I, I jumped at the chance. I knew from experience, having read her first book, that Harris was a very interesting author and that I admired her writing ability and her ability to do the unexpected.

Gillespie and I only served to cement this opinion for me. Boy howdy, can this woman write.

It is 1933. Harriet Baxter is an English spinster pushing her 80s. Sitting alone at her home in Bloomsbury, with only her two pet finches for company, she decides she will write her memoirs. She wants to recount her friendship with Ned Gillespie, a forgotten painter from Glasgow, whom she believes never received the fame and appreciation he deserved before he tragically died with realizing his potential. She has decided to set the record straight, as it were, as she is the best one to do so, being the only one left.

In 1888, Harriet traveled to Glasgow for an International Exhibition. Her maiden aunt has died, leaving her at loose ends and being one of the few women on this time who is independently wealthy, Harriet has an unexpected freedom and takes advantage of it. Many artists displayed their works, one of whom was Ned Gillespie. Harriet meets Ned and the rest of his family there and befriends Ned, his wife, his mother, and his children. She inveigles herself into their lives and believes she is as dear to them as they are to her.

Yet, when tragedy strikes, and Harriet is blamed, things begin to unravel. Nothing is as it seems. Is Harriet a reliable narrator? Being the only one left, is she telling the true version of events or what she wants us to know? Is she responsible for tearing a lovely and endearing family to shreds? Did she do what she was accused of doing?

I don’t know if I’d said it here before, but I almost always adore unreliable narrators. I know they drive some people crazy, but I love love LOVE how books like this make me think. They stay with me for ages, making me question what really happened, what certain things meant, how DID it END. I also adore ambivalent endings and this book has one of the best ambivalent endings I’ve ever read. I reached a point, about 2/3rds through the book, when I reached a point where I just could not put it down and I sped through the last 200 pages in about 3 hours. At one point, I realized my heart was racing (and I should also say it was about 4 in the morning) because I was SO anxious about what was going to happen.

I stand in awe of Ms. Harris. She managed to take what feels like 3 separate story lines and weaves them together so deftly and so seamlessly. If I ever wrote a book, I would want to write something like that. Something taunt and exciting, curious and new, end of your seat, keep you up late at night, and not let you go even after the last page was turned hours, days, weeks ago. Plus, it’s very Victorian. I can not wait to see what she comes up with next.

About Jane Harris

Jane Harris is the author of the award-winning novel The Observations. She lives in London.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial (January 31, 2012)

Tuesday, January 31st: Unabridged Chick
Monday, February 6th: Wordsmithonia
Tuesday, February 7th: The House of the Seven Tails
Tuesday, February 7th: BookNAround
Wednesday, February 8th: Broken Teepee
Monday, February 13th: Library of Clean Reads
Tuesday, February 14th: Reviews by Lola
Wednesday, February 15th: The Lost Entwife
Friday, February 17th: Amused By Books
Monday, February 20th: Amusing Reviews
Thursday, February 23rd: nomadreader


Tag, I'm It! Part 2

The rules, again:

1 You must post the rules.
2 Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and then create eleven new questions to ask the  people you’ve tagged.
3 Tag eleven people and link to them on your post. (I’m cheating here. Questions to come…brain drain.)
4 Let them know you’ve tagged them! (See parentheses above.)

Here are my questions from Chris:

1. What’s the best book you’ve read so far in 2012?

ENDER’S GAME by Orson Scott Card. Oh my gosh, the awesome. It is staggering. Dumbfounding. Astounding. I don’t know how I’m going to review it.

2. What’s your most anticipated book of 2012 so far?

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. I hope I get to start it soon!

3. What’s your favorite song or album of 2012 so song (doesn’t have to be from this year)?

It’s a toss up between Two Steps From Hell’s Archangel or Invincible. Can’t get enough of it.

Two Steps from Hell, Freedom Fighters

4. What’s the best thing to happen to you so far this year?

For reasons I have chosen to to get into on the blog, 2011 was really, really awful for me. So just starting a new year was a relief. I did have a kick-ass birthday as well. 🙂

5. What’s the worst thing to happen to you so far this year?

CHUCK ended. My Twitter peeps just burst out laughing.


6. What’s the best piece of news you’ve heard not concerning you so far this year? This could be a political event, a news item that made you smile, something that happened to a friend, etc.

Andi and I started cooking up a newish project. I love plotting with my Andi-bug.

7. What’s the best thing you’ve cooked/eaten/best recipe you’ve saved so far this year?

In Asheville, last week, we went to the Bistro at Biltmore. We got this calamari appetizer that was out of this world. That is very closely followed by the Wonton Noodle Soup I got at this teeny tiny Asian place called The Noodle Shop. Really. They had like, 8 tables, and 6 of them were big enough for two people. Best wontons I’ve EVER had. *drool*

8. What’s your biggest goal for this year and how’s it working for you so far?

Find a new job. Not so great so far.

9. Have you discovered any new to you blogs yet this year that you’re loving?

Let’s see. I finally added a few to my reader! The Alcove by my new reading twin Emily (hurray Tiffany Aching!). I’ve also added Books are my Boyfriends because girlfriend cracks me up.

10. What’s your favorite thing you’ve seen on the screen so far this year? This could be a tv show/music video/movie/documentary, etc.

Last week, in Asheville, the hubby and I went to see The Woman in Black. Master Ratcliffe did a very nice job carrying most of the movie on his own. And also, HELLO FREAKING PORCELAIN DOLLS! I hate porcelain dolls.


11. Do you plan on doing any gardening in 2012? Come on it’s me…you knew there’d be some gardening in here

Tell the truth Chris, is this question for me? OF COURSE I will have a garden! With lots of tomatoes! Now that I have a few tried-n-true tomato canning recipes in my repertoire, I am all set and ready go! Also hope to have corn, green beans, and cucumbers for canning as well. Oh my goodness, my hands are itching to get into some dirt.


I think I’ve seen just about everyone I would have asked to do this, already asked, so I think I’ll just end it here. If you would like me to come up with some questions for you however, I would be more than happy to, just ask!

Monday Rambles

Disappear for a week and look what happens. I get tagged in not one, but two of these question memes! Andi got me first, so I’m going to answer her questions today. Chris also got me, but I’m saving his questions for another day. Don’t want to make this tl;dr!

1 You must post the rules.
2 Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and then create eleven new questions to ask the  people you’ve tagged.
3 Tag eleven people and link to them on your post. (I’m cheating here. Questions to come…brain drain.)
4 Let them know you’ve tagged them! (See parentheses above.)

Andi’s Questions:

1. Who would rank on your list of crushworthy authors–either for their skillz or their cutiepieness?

Oh wow. This could take awhile. I’m going to limit myself to my top three, because we don’t have all day and I only have so much drool.

John Green

Michael Chabon

Neil Gaiman

Big surprise, all three, I bet. All hot for their words. The looks are just bonus. A big, big bonus.

2. What is your favorite guilty pleasure book if you have guilty pleasure reading?

I’m not sure I feel guilty for anything I read. I take guilty pleasure reading to mean something I read when I need a pick-me-up and for that I turn to Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Pratchett especially for when I need a good laugh.

3. Which literary female heroine would you most like to be for a day and why?

Who wants to bet Andi would say Estella from Great Expectations? 🙂

For me, right this minute, I would pick Tiffany Aching, especially if she came with some Nac Mac Feegles. After the week I just had, I need some giggles.

4. Which television female heroine would you most like to be for a day and why?

Sarah Walker from Chuck. Because she’s married to Chuck (Zachary Levi) (swoon) and she can kick so much ass. Did I mention she’s married to Chuck?


5. If you found out you were preggers (stop hyperventilating) OR if you were buying for a friend or family member, which children’s book would you consider a MUST HAVE for beginning a child’s library?

I know you said book, but I’m ignoring you. I’m reading it as BOOKS because, like potato chips, you can’t have just one.

Well, seeing as I’ve already been through this, twice, I’ll just say which books I DID consider MUST HAVE when beginning my children’s library. Dr. Seuss (The Cat in the Hat most especially, but we have lots), Where the Wild Things Are, The Hobbit, Winnie the Pooh (I just typed poof. Oops.), Anne of Green Gables, and many others. They have a TON of books. Their shelf overfloweth. Seriously. I step on books occasionally, when I pass through to do laundry. Their bookshelves are dangerous.

6. Do you have a favorite independent or small press? Why do they rock?

It’s terrible of me, but I rarely pay attention to who published a book. This has got to change, and very soon!

7. Have you read any independent or undersung books lately? Something that’s been flying under the bloggy radar?

I’ve been reading so many older books lately! I know. I think EVERYONE should read John Marsden’s Tomorrow series. Begin with Tomorrow, When the War began and hold on to your seat.

8. What’s on repeat on your MP3 player? (Selfish, I need new music.)

I’m at a weird place in my music life. I have an employee who insists on keeping his radio on THAT station. You know, the one that plays all those earworms we ALL hate? Yeah, that station. By the time I leave work, I don’t want anything with words in it. So I’ve been listening to a lot of, well, I guess you call it instrumental. A lot of piano, some orchestral stuff, not necessarily classical, even though I DO listen to some classical. My playlist includes (and I’m linking to a favorite song on YouTube if you are interested) Max Richter (LOVE HIM), Library Tapes, Daft Punk (believe it or not, the Tron: Legacy soundtrack is awesome), Apocolyptica (the ones without words, obvs), Doug Hammer, Eluvium, David, Nevue, Peter Broderick, Philip Wesley, Two Steps from Hell (this song, Nero, is the one most often on repeat), Johann Johannasson, and Murray Gold. 10 points if you know who Murray Gold is. PS: My kids ADORE Murray Gold.

9. If you would be any pair of shoes, what would they be (feel free to refer to Pinterest or Google Image Search)?


10. If you won a million dollars, what would you do first?

Quit my job. Nuff said.

11. Adult beverage of choice?

I have recently discovered a couple of wines I actually like. Chardonnay and Zinfandel. Also discovered Pinot Grigio at Biltmore this past week. Yum.

Tune in, probably tomorrow, for my answers to Chris’s questions!

Embarking on Year Eight

Yes my friends, my seventh year of blogging has passed and I’m beginning on year eight. It’s been a haphazard, yet fun journey, and one that I am immensely grateful for. Without this blog, I wouldn’t have made some of the dearest friends of my life, I certainly wouldn’t have read as many completely Awesome Books, and well, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Book blogging is something special, I believe, and I can’t see my life without it now.

To help me celebrate, I would love it if you would come out of the networks (like woodworks, but much more relevant) and introduce yourself. Like all bloggers, comments are some of my favorite things! How long have you been following me? Are you just passing through? How long have you been blogging? What’s your favorite book? What’s the best book experience you’ve ever had? And any other information you’d like to share. I’d like to say hi too!

Thanks for all the fun these years and here’s to many, many more!