Saturday, October 29, 2011

Carrots 'N' Cake

Published:  2011 by Sterling Publishing
Source:  Purchased

  For me, this book is another indication that I might be a little bit too impulsive when I am browsing the bookstores.  I picked up the book because I liked the catchy title, and in my ongoing effort to maintain a healthier lifestyle I thought I could learn a few things from it.  I may have read the jacket copy that said the author maintains a blog of the same name, but it didn't fully register.

  Hindsight now tells me that when I see a book that is based on a blog, it might be a good idea to visit said blog first to see how I like it before purchasing the book.  

  It's not that what she writes about isn't interesting; in fact, I'm very much drawn to personal stories of weight loss struggles because I can completely relate to them, and I appreciate the author's thesis of maintaining a healthy diet and exercise program while including occasional indulgences.  There was just something about her style that I didn't like; the book reads like a collection of blog posts, though I could not determine by a quick look through her blog if the content was taken directly from it.  This is where I should have put the book back on the bookstore shelf, gone home, and looked at the blog first.  And I didn't feel that I could relate to the author; she is describing her personal lifestyle but I found it very close to being preachy.

  Aside from some recipes that might be worth a try, I don't feel like I learned much by reading this book. 

  My recommendation:  Check out the Carrots 'n' Cake blog first,  If you like what you see, you'll probably enjoy the book.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Thoughts on In My Time

In My Time:  A Personal and Political Memoir by Dick Cheney (with Liz Cheney)
Published:  2011 by Threshold Editions
Source:  Borrowed from the Library

  OK, I finished it.  And frankly, it's kinda boring.

  I think I expected a detailed explanation/analysis of Mr. Cheney's tenure as Vice-President of the United States,  but this time of his life took up a fairly small portion of the book.  Instead what I read was a thorough autobiography of a man who came from rather humble origins and who came to hold some very important and influential positions.

  I'll admit that I don't support Mr. Cheney's view of politics in America, and I was hoping to read about why he held such conservative views and why he made the decisions he did; however the stories of his political career felt like they came directly from his calendar and lacked insight.  Whether he agreed or disagreed on an issue was the only indication of his position and I wanted to know more.  As he also served as Secretary of Defense under the first President Bush, the narrative emphasized the military and of course the two Iraq Wars and the war in Afghanistan, and the economy and other domestic issues were almost ignored.

  I didn't hate reading this book, but it is certainly not going on my list of favorites.  

  By the way, I did borrow this book from the library and it was only the other day I noticed the labels on the book's spine:

Someone at the library must have a sense of humor!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

All About bibliosue

Helen's Book Blog and Estella's Revenge are featuring this interesting getting to know you meme today so I thought - hey, I don't think anyone knows much about me!  So here for your reading pleasure are some fun facts that you've always wanted to know but were afraid to ask.
Age: 42
Bed Size: Queen
Chore that you hate:  Most of them :-)  though I really dislike cleaning toilets.
Dogs: Nope
Essential start to your day:  Sadly, coffee
Favorite colors: Gray and green
Gold or Silver: Probably silver
Height: 5'3"
Instruments you play: I used to play the flute in junior high school
Job Title: Human Resources Manager, Purchasing Manager, System Coordinator, External Fulfillment Coordinator (my business card is really big!)
Kids: None, but I have 4 nieces (10, 5, and almost two year-old twins), 1 nephew (8) and another nephew coming next month and I love them all to bits
Live: Lake in the Hills, IL  (northwest of Chicago)
Mother-in-Law's name: Ruth
Nicknames: Sue, Suz, my little nieces have just started calling me Soosoo
Overnight hospital stays: When I was six I had my adenoids removed and when I was 16 I had jaw surgery. 
Pet Peeves: People who let their kids play with the handicapped entrances into buildings.
Quote from a movie: "Nobody puts Baby in a corner"  (RIP Patrick Swayze)
Right or Left handed: I'm a lefty
Siblings: Two younger brothers
Time you wake up: Lately I've been making an effort to get up at 4:50 am during the week to exercise before work; most days I've been able to do it!
Underwear: Ummm, yes?
Vegetable you hate: I'm not a fan of asparagus
What makes you run late: My husband
X-Rays you've had: Dental x-rays, chest x-ray for the process of immigrating to the US, a few MRIs too
Yummy food that you make: I think I make a mean meatloaf
Zoo animal: I love polar bears 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What Should I Read in November?

  It's time once again for you to help me decide what books I should take off of my overwhelming to-read shelves and read right away.

  Last month I was so pleased with your fiction choice, Cutting for Stone, that I can't wait to find out what fiction you will pick for me to read in November.  The options are three new releases that I've heard good things about and which are sitting patiently on my shelf:

  1. On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry
  2. When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
  3. The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje
  I still have not started October's non-fiction pick, Carrots 'n' Cake, but I still have a week left in the month and it's not a long book. Here are the non-fiction options for Novembe
  1. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
  2. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
  3. The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
  Voting will be open until Sunday, October 30.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Literary Giveaway Blog Hop Winner

Congratulations to Ceri!  She has won my giveaway for the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop.  She has been contacted by e-mail and her selected book -- Quarantine by Rahul Mehta (my review here) -- will be on its way shortly

Thank you everyone for visiting and entering the giveaway -- I'm sorry I couldn't send all of you books :-).
I hope you continue to follow my posts and I look forward to reading your comments.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cutting for Stone

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Published:   2010 by Vintage
Source:  Purchased

  Readers who selected this for the October "What Should I Read Next" poll:  THANK YOU.  

  I initially picked up Cutting for Stone last year, but got about 120 pages in and decided that it just wasn't the book for me at the time (read my post about that here).  So it went back on to Mount TBR, patiently waiting for the right moment.  I guess my mind must have been ready for it when I added it to the poll, because this time I didn't want to stop reading it and a few times found myself staying up past my bedtime to read just a little bit more.

  The novel begins with the surprising and traumatic birth of twins, Marian and Shiva Stone, at a hospital near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where their mother - a nun - worked closely with their father - the surgeon at the  facility.  Since it happens early in the book I don't think I'm spoiling anything by saying that upon their arrival they are abandoned by both of their parents in different ways, and are left to be raised by the remaining staff of the hospital compound, primarily doctors Hema and Ghosh.

  Told from Marian's perspective, the novel is the story of the twins' upbringing in Ethiopia, amongst the morally questionable officials and the beautifully described landscape (Verghese's descriptions of Ethiopia are so much in contrast to the only images I've seen of the country - depicting desolation and misery).  As twins, Marian and Shiva are very much in sync with each other, but they also have their own personalities and interests; as with any other sibling relationship, this creates some conflicts, especially in the area of women; specifically, Genet, the daughter of one of their household's servants who has grown up together with the boys.

  After some political turmoil in the country, the adult Marian - now a medical school graduate -  is forced to flee Ethiopia and finds his way to New York, where he takes on internship/residency at a hospital that closely resembles the hospital he called home in Ethiopia.  It is here that his past catches up to his present, and where his future is also at stake. 

  I won't say any more, because you just have to read the book.  It's not a short book -- over 600 pages -- but well worth the time and effort.  And the ending -- well, when you've finished it for yourself I'd love to talk about it; suffice to say that I had not expected what happened and was emotionally affected.

  Highly highly recommended. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Literary Giveaway Blog Hop!

  Judith at leeswammes has organized another fun Literary Giveaway Blog Hop!

  I am excited to be participating again and to offer my giveaway internationally.  Take a look around the blog, check out some of the books I've reviewed or talked about, and in the comments below please let me know which book you would most like to read should you be lucky enough to win.

  Here are some links to get you started:

  1. Summer at Tiffany
  2. The Most Beautiful Book in the World
  3. The Reservoir
  4. My Year with Eleanor
A random commenter will be selected as the winner on October 20.  Good luck!

Be sure to check out the other participating blogs on the hop:

  1. Leeswammes
  2. Devouring Texts
  3. The Book Whisperer
  4. Seaside Book Nook
  5. The Scarlet Letter (US only)
  6. Rikki's Teleidoscope
  7. Bibliosue
  8. Curled Up With a Good Book and a Cup of Tea
  9. The Book Diva's Reads
  10. Gaskella
  11. Lucybird's Book Blog
  12. Kim's Bookish Place
  13. The Book Garden
  14. Under My Apple Tree
  15. Helen Smith
  16. Sam Still Reading
  17. Nishita's Rants and Raves
  18. Ephemeral Digest
  19. Bookworm with a View
  20. The Parrish Lantern
  21. Dolce Bellezza
  22. Lena Sledge Blog
  23. Book Clutter
  24. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer (US only)
  25. The Blue Bookcase
  26. Book Journey (US only)
  27. The House of the Seven Tails (US only)
  28. In One Eye, Out the Other (US only)
  29. Read, Write & Live
  30. Fresh Ink Books
  1. Living, Learning, and Loving Life (US only)
  2. Bibliophile By the Sea
  3. Laurie Here Reading & Writing Reviews
  4. Amy's Book World (US only)
  5. Teadevotee
  6. Joy's Book Blog
  7. Word Crushes (US only)
  8. Thinking About Loud!
  9. Kinna Reads
  10. Sweeping Me
  11. Minding Spot (US only)
  12. Babies, Books, and Signs (US only)
  13. Lisa Beth Darling
  14. Tony's Reading List
  15. SusieBookworm (US only)
  16. Tell Me A Story
  17. Close Encounters with the Night Kind
  18. Nerfreader
  19. Mevrouw Kinderboek (Netherlands, Belgium)
  20. Boekblogger (Netherlands)
  21. In Spring it is the Dawn
  22. No Page Left Behind
  23. Elle Lit

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Reading Slowdown

  Halfway through October and I have not completed a single book.

  This has not happened in a very long time.  While I always have a few books on the go at any one time (four right now), I can usually rotate at least one of them within a day or two.  Granted, all of my current reads are each over 400 pages (Cutting for Stone, Grand Pursuit, The Woman in White, and In My Time), and for the most part I'm enjoying them (or at least they are holding my attention), but I feel so ..... unproductive.

  Which is stupid, I know, because there are people who probably don't read four books in a year.  And reading is supposed to be pleasurable and something done for quality instead of quantity.  Yet when I see all of the books on my to-read shelf, patiently waiting, and those books I've received and committed to review, I get anxious.  Yes I'm a bookaholic and my head knows that I really don't need to bring any more books into the house for a very (very, very) long time, but don't we all want to participate in conversations about new books, books discussed on blogs and in other media, and/or books we just plain want to read?

*** ACK ***  I feel my head is about to explode.  Ah, well, the best remedy for that is to go back to my reading.....

How do you handle reading overload?  Can you strike a balance between quality and quantity, or does quantity even matter when it comes to reading?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Literary Blog Hop -- Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Literary Blog Hop

The Literary Blog Hop is hosted over at The Blue Bookcase

This week's question:

If you could invite any three literary figures from different eras to a Sunday Dinner who would they be?
 A seemingly easy, but rather difficult question; how to narrow it down to just three?  Should I invite three like-minded writers who will keep the conversation friendly, or should I invite polar opposites who will do nothing but debate and argue?  As I'm conflict-averse, I'm inclined to have the friendly party, but I think some like-minded writers can also have lively debates and make the evening so much more interesting.

So here is my guest list:
  1. Margaret Atwood:  not only is she a fantastic writer but on the few occasions where I have had the pleasure to hear her speak she has proven to be quite witty.
  2. Virginia Woolf:  I've only read Mrs. Dalloway, but I think she and Atwood would have a lot to talk about.
  3. William Shakespeare:  I know this is probably a no-brainer, but I think it would be fascinating to hear him talk about his plays; and I think the other guests would have thoughts about some of his female characters, namely Lady Macbeth and Ophelia.
 Who's attending your literary dinner party?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Open Mind Open Mind .......

So last month I made this ranty post about the polarization of American politics and how a different point of view is rarely if ever contemplated.  And with that I mentioned that I put Dick Cheney's memoir In My Time on hold at the library in order to put the money where my mouth is.

Well, look what finally became available and has been brought home:

  As promised I am going to read it - with an open mind - and will report back once I'm done.

  Anyone brave enough to join me?  Or are you at least willing to read something outside of your comfort zone?

Monday, October 3, 2011

It's Booktopia!

  So remember in the spring when I mentioned the Books on the Nightstand Readers' Retreat (best weekend ever)?  Several times?  Well look what was announced last Friday:

It's Booktopia -- featuring not one, not two, but THREE reading retreats throughout 2012.

I'm not much of a California girl (and I can't wait until next October), and though I absolutely LOVED Manchester, Vermont in April where the first retreat was held, I've never been to the Deep South; so I have registered for the retreat in Oxford, Mississippi, in June.

If you have the time and the money (although books will be purchased, one must also eat and sleep and get there somehow), I highly recommend any (or all!) of the retreats.  It will be a weekend of books and talking with other bibliophiles about books. An added highlight to the Oxford retreat is that it's the home of William Faulkner, so I might actually attempt one of his novels again.

So excited!!!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

October's Reading List


  I have a lot on my reading plate for October.  Thankfully, the weather is getting cooler and it's an ideal time to curl up on the couch with a blanket, a cup of coffee, and a great book or two.  I just wish I had more hours in the day (at least during the week) to do said curling up.  

  My first "What Should I Read Next" poll resulted in the following choices:
  My two book groups are reading The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove by Susan Gregg Gilmore (which I've already read and loved) and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.

  For review, I still am working my way through Grand Pursuit:  A History of Economic Genius by Sylvia Nasar; and I have these books to read as well:
  I also plan to attempt (for the third time) To the End of the Land by David Grossman as I will be seeing him in Chicago in November as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival.  I will also be seeing Umberto Eco, who will be talking about his soon-to-be released novel (which sounds fascinating) The Prague Cemetery; I've not read any of his novels yet but I do have In the Name of the Rose on my shelf and I would like to start it by the end of the month.

  And if (IF) I have time I want to read a book or two for a few of the challenges in which I'm participating.
  Anyone care to write a note to my boss excusing me from work?

  Have a great October -- and keep an eye out later in the month for my November poll!