Currently // Hunger for Food, Books, and Money

April 12, 2015 Miscellaneous 6

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Right this minute | I’m wishing I could eat more breakfast. I’m trying to limit myself to 1700 calories a day (this girl could stand to loose a few, or go shopping) and I’m saving up for lunch. My mother-in-law is a great cook and I’ll regret it if I can’t eat a lot there. Where is my water?

Feeling | Snotty. Damn allergies.

Reading | I finished THE BEST BOOK Friday. Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey. Look it up. Now I’m in between audiobooks (I think I’m going to start Crooked Finger, Crooked Finger tomorrow) and reading Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story by Michael Rosen and Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald. Damn Amazon for putting a bunch of Fitzgerald’s on sale. (No, actually, thanks Amazon.) (Even if I really need to be saving money.)

OH, and I’m still poking along with Feeding a Yen by Calvin Trillin. It just makes me so hungry y’all.

Listening | Catching up on the podcasts. They completely fell by the wayside thanks to Anna Lyndsey.

Watching | I’m all caught up on The Blacklist, so I’m looking for something to watch. Apparently, I need to check out Daredevil. Hubby is loving it.

Blogging | I’ve been working on a Listen Up! post and a couple reviews. I’m feeling moved to write up Girl in the Dark very soon.

Promoting | Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon, of course!! I’ve started working on the cheerleading teams. Captains in place!

Also:

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Sign ups are live! Here!

Loving | The weather! 80 yesterday with clear skies. More of the same today. I’m ignoring that rain coming next week. I refuse to believe it.

Hating | Normally, I am happy with the amount of money I make at my job. We’re comfortable and I love being there. This is (usually) much more important to me. However, we need to move. We found our dream house yesterday and it is JUST OUTSIDE OUR BUDGET. My heart is broken. And I wish I made more money. ::sigh::

Eating | Let’s see….I had a Kind Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate protein bar (gluten free FTW) and an apple. Plus two slices of Colby Jack (my favorite). I’m not hungry. I’m not hungry. I’m not hungry.

Exercising | We walked over 6 miles yesterday looking at houses. I didn’t need to exercise. I may go walk the train near my home today.

Anticipating | Going to the grocery store. I hate going there, but we need food!

Meal Plan | I really need to get back to this:

Tonight : Crustless quiche made with spinach, feta, and mushrooms
Monday
 : Salmon patties, potatoes, and roasted asparagus
Tuesday : I have no idea, I’ll figure something out.
Wednesday:Lemon pepper tilapia, roasted Brussels Sprouts, and rice

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Orchard House, or, What I Want to Be When I Grow Up.

April 9, 2015 Book Reviews, Books 2 ★★★★★

Orchard House, or, What I Want to Be When I Grow Up.Orchard House: How a Neglected Garden Taught One Family to Grow
by tara austen weaver
Published by Ballantine Books
on March 24th 2015
Genres: Nonfiction
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
five-stars
For fans of Anne Lamott, a profoundly moving memoir of rediscovering, reinventing, and reconnecting, as an estranged mother and daughter come together to revive a long-abandoned garden and ultimately their relationship and themselves.
 
Peeling paint, stained floors, vined-over windows, a neglected and wild garden—Tara Austen Weaver can’t get the Seattle real-estate listing out of her head. Any sane person would’ve seen the abandoned property for what it was: a ramshackle half-acre filled with dead grass, blackberry vines, and trouble. But Tara sees potential and promise—not only for the edible bounty the garden could yield for her family, but for the personal renewal she and her mother might reap along the way.

So begins Orchard House, a story of rehabilitation and cultivation—of land and soul. Through bleak winters, springs that sputter with rain and cold, golden days of summer, and autumns full of apples, pears, and pumpkins, this evocative memoir recounts the Weavers’ trials and triumphs, detailing what grew and what didn’t, the obstacles overcome and the lessons learned. Inexorably, as mother and daughter tend this wild patch and the fruits of their labor begin to flourish, green shoots of hope emerge from the darkness of their past.

For everyone who has ever planted something that they wished would survive—or tried to mend something that seemed forever broken—Orchard House is a tale of healing and growth set in a most unlikely place.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Back when I was a kid, I would occasionally (read – often) steal my grandmother’s romances and read them under the covers at night. A bad habit to be sure (kids, listen to your parents!) but at the time, I couldn’t understand why she didn’t want me to read them! I do now. Why am I telling you this?

Well, one time, I read one of those romances and it was about a woman who bought old homes and renovated them to sale (and yeah, I think she wound up in love with a contractor and they did the YOU KNOW WHAT all over one of those houses and then fought and broke up then made up and then lived happily ever after the end.) (12-year-old me says “blush.”). Something about that touched the romantic and ambitious part of me. It sounded so fantastic! To buy an old home, rip out all the rot, the ugly, the unwanted, and make it warm, cozy, and a home again. And the garden. My dream garden, with flowers and vegetables and fruit, everywhere. It sounded terribly awesome.

I decided that’s what I wanted to do when I grew up. Refurb houses, not read romances. Because ick.

Flash forward 25 years (or so) and that is definitely not what I am doing. And yet, I still find it a romantic thing to do. I moon over old houses in our area. I love looking at books, magazines, and websites about decorating. And someday, I will take a house and make it my own, although probably not an old one. Oh well.

So, when I saw this memoir, I knew I had to read it. And it’s why I loved so much. Tara Austen Weaver finds just such a house, with “peeling paint, stained floors, vined-over windows, a neglected and wild garden…” just what she (and I) can see so much potential in. She convinces her mother to come to Seattle and they start planning.

This book. Wow, this book. It sounds sappy to say it “touched my heart” but it honestly did and dude, you know I’m a cynic. I did not have a relationship with my mother, but I did with my grandmother and in many ways, the relationship between Tara and her mother reminds me of the one I had with her. We were so much alike and so very contentious. And part of the beauty of this book is seeing how these two souls manage to love and work together, despite their ways.

And the food. Oh the descriptions of food. And the garden. I read this when it was too early to get out in the garden, but I was dying to do so while reading it. I even mentioned starting an orchard on the land we’re going to build on eventually, so perhaps we’d have fruit by the time we moved and my husband said yes! Color me delighted.

All in all, if you love foodie, gardening, mother/daughter relationship, family relationship, etc, type books, I can’t see why you wouldn’t love this book as much as me. Highly recommended.

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Top Ten Tuesday – Now About That Second Date….

April 7, 2015 Meme 15

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April 7: Top Ten Characters You’d Like To Check In With (meaning, the book or series is over and you so just wish you could peek in on the “life” you imagine they are leading years down the line after the story ends). Does this prompt make sense?? It makes sense in my head! Let me know and I can clarify haha

I had to leave that description for this week’s prompt. It’s too adorable.

So, here are my picks for characters I’d like to Check In With, or, have a second date with.

1. Nobody Owens from The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – I worry about that poor boy. All alone in the world. I just worry. Tut, tut, tut.

2. Art3mis  from Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – I don’t know about you, but I think Art3mis can carry her own book. She kicks ass and I’d like to see what happened after the end of the first book. Aech too, for that matter.

3. Todd and Viola from The Chaos Walking Trilogy – Call me crazy, but I just wasn’t ready to let go of these two crazy kids at the end of Monsters of Men.

4. Richard and Dore from Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – What can I say? Gaiman writes characters I want more of.

5. Poppet and Widget from The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – Seriously, I think they were my favorite characters.

6. Mau from Nation by Terry PratchettNation was my first Terry Pratchett book…I can’t…just…I wish I could have more. I just wish I could have more.

7. Hannah Payne from When She Woke by Hillary Jordan – Because just leaving off the way Jordan did wasn’t GOOD ENOUGH OKAY?

8. Francie from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith – I recognize that ATGiB is a coming-of-age story. That’s why I need more. It. Ended. Before. I. Was. READY.

9. Eleanor and Park from Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – That ending. Seriously. YOU CANNOT END A NOVEL THAT WAY AND EXPECT MY HEART TO SURVIVE.

10. Alba from The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – I’d love to know how she handled her special abilities. You know, if she handled it better than her father or not.

 How about you? Which characters would you like to revisit?

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Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. More HERE.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

April 6, 2015 Books, Meme 9

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Ugh, you guys! I hate these Mondays. I have nothing to report! I’m reading the same books! It is so depressing! They are great, but I’m ready for new words!

So, cheer me up. What are YOU reading?

It's Monday What Are  You Reading

It’s Monday, What are you Reading is hosted weekly by super-awesome Sheila from BookJourney.

 

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Currently // Blahs, Easter, and Whoa.

April 5, 2015 Miscellaneous 10

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Right this minute | I should be getting the kiddos ready for church. I’m such a great mom. There. I yelled at them.

Feeling | A little blah. Damn Spring colds.

Reading | Nonexistent? It’s been a busy weekend. Easter egg hunts, lunches out with the fam, cold induced naps…who has time to read? And yep. I have a cold. Hurray for me.

Actually, I am hoping that, after church and YET ANOTHER EGG HUNT, I’ll be able to settle down with Feeding a Yen by Calvin Trillin. However, I will probably either fall asleep or get super hungry. Maybe I’ll just finish up The Buried Giant. That is taking me way longer to listen to that I thought it would.

Listening | I’m listening to Russian Circles on Spotify right now. Geez, I love their music.

Watching | Y’all, I binge watched the last 5 episodes of The Blacklist Friday night. Then I dreamed about it. James Spader kinda rocks my socks.

Watching Also | The kids got The Penguins of Madagascar in their Easter baskets. So nutty.

And Watching | I seriously need to catch up on New Girl!

Blogging | I shared some updates on my poor TBR pile, my March reads, my thoughts on The Martian and my difficulties with First Person Point of View, and some Stuff I Learned This Week. I really need a book on Queen Victoria. That woman is hella interesting.

Promoting | Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon! Planning is in full swing! Also, whoa – certify me – but I think it’s gonna be awesome:

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Short, awesome book being read with all my buddies on the same day (hopefully?)? Yes please! Sign ups soon!

Loving | This weather! It was 80 on Friday! 68 yesterday! And 68 again today. And gorgeous. Not a cloud in the sky.

Hating | Spring colds, itchy skin (where is the humidity???), and the fact that I am still waiting to get hired!

Eating | Better. Bathing suit season is coming and I need to loose a few jiggles. I actually didn’t eat any meat Friday and I didn’t die.

Exercising | Trying to do more. Really working to get my 10,000 steps in every day.

Anticipating | Easter lunch. Watching my wild and crazy kids and niece and nephews hunt some eggs. And then curling up with a book. Or a nap. Happy Easter!

 

 

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Stuff I Learned This Week

April 3, 2015 Books 6

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I didn’t get to listen to podcasts as much this week, as I have a great book going in audio, but I did manage to learn some interesting things anyway!

Queen Victoria is credited as the first woman to wear a white wedding dress.  There were some before, and many after, but SHE IS THE ONE who made it popular. I guess.

She also started the tradition of having a Christmas tree. It was a German thing and she wanted her husband to feel at home on Christmas. Aw, sweet. – Stuff Mom Never Told You: The Read Queen Victoria (Listen)

2737 BC: Emperor of China, Shen Nung discovered tea thanks to the wind. Seriously. Dude loved to boil his water and some leaves blew into it. He drank it anyway and whoa! It’s delicious. But no one knows if this story is actually true or not. And now I want some chai.

Britain, the dirty buggers, didn’t stop taxing tea until sometime in the 1960s. Did they learn nothing from Boston? – Stuff You Should Know: How Tea Works (Listen)

Ada Lovelace, mathematician and computer prodigy, was the daughter on Lord Byron. THE LORD BYRON. – Oxford DNB : Ada Lovelace (Listen)

Did you learn anything interesting this week?

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Mars and the First Person POV

April 2, 2015 Books 10 ★★★★

Mars and the First Person POVThe Martian
by Andy Weir
Narrator: R. C. Bray
Length: 10 hours 53 minutes
Published by Crown Publishing Group
on February 11th 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy, Thriller
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
four-stars
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he's stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive--and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills--and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit--he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

What the heck is up with that title, eh? I’m getting to it. I just have a few things to say about First Person Point of View (or FPPoV). It kind of took over my thoughts on The Martian. Sorry Andy Weir.

I’m sure you’ve heard of The Martian. It was one of the “IT” books last year. Everyone read it. Everyone and their mother read it. Everyone except me. And I really, really wanted to. And I tried. But it didn’t click. Damn that pesky first person narration. I still struggle with it. But, thank God for audiobooks. Me and FPPoV are complete BUDDIES when it comes to audiobooks.

This audiobook completely rocks.

See, the thing about me andFPPoV…I’m not sure what it is. I’ve always had trouble with it. I mean, it stands to reason that I would. It’s a more intimate form of storytelling. A character can become something of a best friend, within the story that is. You get an “inside look” at what the character is thinking and feeling I love unreliable narrators andFPPoV has always felt unreliable to me. It’s the character telling their story. How do I know they are being honest? I love the mystery of that. Lastly, it makes one feel like one is IN the story, more than any other POV, again, for me.

But.

FPPoV imprisons me. One is stuck with one character and that character’s thoughts and feelings. One can only get what THAT CHARACTER THINKS about another character. I do like knowing what another character thinks of the events of the story. It helps ME decide what I think about what’s going on. I feel like it also limits the scope of a story. I like to know everything that’s going on! Also,FPPoV, in my experience, is a TELL TRAP. I like to see what’s going on, not told about it. BIG, HUGE PET PEEVE.

When I first tried to read The Martian, I had so much trouble getting into Mark Watney’s mind and the story. The story starts with an accident, and, I imagine since I was only getting Watney’s side of it, I had a hard time figuring out exactly what happened. His character was off-putting. I immediately didn’t care for or about him. I think I made it about 20 pages.

Yet, I just knew this was a story for me. A lot of my favorite bloggers loved it. Andi, my reading twin/soulmate, loved it. I was determined to try again. I can be pretty persuasive, even with myself. Because, when I saw The Martian for $3.99 on Audible,I snapped it up. And then I devoured it.

Obviously, The Martian is in FPPoV. An astronaut is left behind, stranded, on Mars after a terrible accident separated him from his crew. What follows is the events after that accident, told from that astronaut’s point of view. There really is no other way to tell that story. He is all alone, on an uninhabited planet. So, somehow, for me, hearing someone read the story is much more successful than trying to read it for myself.

Why, I don’t know AND I don’t know why I can’t remember this. This isn’t the first time. It won’t be the last.

C’est ma vie. Le sigh.

Here is where I actually talk about my feelings on the book, if you skipped down. 

So, my advice is, if you couldn’t get into The Martian, give the audiobook a try. The reader suffuses Mark Watney with so much personality and I couldn’t help but root for him. The reader, R. C. Bray, made me care. He has an excellent range of voices and his voice really matches the character and tone the book. He made me laugh out loud a few times, just with the delivery of a line. Andy Weir’s writing was great. The technical aspects of a flight to Mars and the mission to get a stranded astronaut back to Earth were not completely over my head. It was just great fun. And a nail-biter for sure. I got my uncle to listen to it and he loved it too.

Highly recommended. In audio anyway.

 

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Monthly Wrap Up – March 2015

April 1, 2015 Books, Monthly Wrap Up 6

Sunset in Forest

Ahoy there March! I’m kind of sad to see you go, but really, I’m looking forward to the end of your cold, blustery ways. We had a good time and all, but I’m ready for April. We did do a lot of reading together, didn’t we?

39. The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac by Sharma Shields
40. Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman
41. Rat Queens, Issue 9 by Kurtis Wiebe
42. Orchard House: How a Neglected Garden Taught One Family to Grow by Tara Austen Weaver
43. Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown
44. Alex + Ada, Issue 13 by Jonathan Luna
45. Lumberjanes, Issue 12 by Noelle Stevenson
46. The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
47. Wayward, Issue 6 by Jim Zub

Favorite book of the month was The Library at Mount Char hands down. Orchard House was a very close second. Rat Queens, Alex + Ada, Lumberjanes, and Wayward just keep getting better and better. Neil Gaiman was as fantastic as ever. My least favorite was The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac, but I still enjoyed it. All in all, March was a great month.

April brings with it Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon (sign ups are live now!) and lots of busyness. I hope to get lots of reading done, but am afraid it will only happen on the day of the Readathon!

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Top Ten Tuesday – That Poor TBR Pile

March 31, 2015 Meme 14

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Or, Ten Books You Recently Added To Your To-Be-Read List. OR, all the times Amazon had a sale. Or, the last ten times my TBR groaned. And maybe cried.

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The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece by Edward Dolnick – I don’t know, it sounds good.
Jackaby by William Ritter – I’ve wanted to read this since it came out! Now the next one is coming soon! Ack!
The Leaving of Things by Jay Antani – You know me. I’m a sucker for a great cover.
The Air Between Us by Deborah Johnson – Sounds fantastic.
Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories Book 1) by Mary Robinette Kowal – I read a short story by her last year and loved it. Then I found this take on Jane Austen, but with magic, and dang it, I couldn’t resist.
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The French House: An American Family, a Ruined Maison, and the Village That Restored Them All by Don Wallace – My alley. This is up it.
The Porcelain Dove by Delia Sherman – One of my favorite short stories EVER is by Delia Sherman, yet I haven’t read anything else by her. Must remedy.
The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng – Yet again, gorgeous cover. I am way too easy.
Shadows in the Vineyard: The True Story of the Plot to Poison the World’s Greatest Wine by Maximillian Potter – I remember when this came out, it sounded so good! I snatched it up on sale.
The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession (Ballantine Reader’s Circle) by Susan Orlean – Been meaning to read this FOR AGES.

How about you? What is the last thing you added to your TBR?

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Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. More HERE.

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