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Showing posts from November, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

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It's one of my favorite days of the year! It's also perhaps the only day I willingly and excitedly wake up early. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of my favorite past times. I'm settled into my lady lair (where the digital antenna can actually pull in NBC) with a glass of sparkling wine with a splash of cherry juice (yum!) And Paleo cinnamon rolls are almost done baking in the oven.

The Meal
Mr. Nomadreader and I are once again hosting my parents and grandmother for a Thanksgiving feast. The main event this year is a maple and spiced apple cider brined pork loin. It's been in the brine for 24 hours, and I cannot wait to taste it. Hosting Thanksgiving is a newer tradition, but this is the third year in a row we've done it. I particularly love not having to travel, so I can just relax and enjoy a long weekend with family...and books. I'm blessed he does most of the cooking while I enjoy the parade too!

The Rest of the Day...and the weekend
After the b…

audiobook review: Who Asked You? by Terry McMillan

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narrated by Terry McMillan, Phylicia Rashad, Michael Boatman, and Carole DeSanti

The basics: Who Asked You? is the story of Betty Jean, a hardworking hotel room service worker, and her family and friends. As the novel opens, Betty Jean's daughter Trinetta drops two of her three children, each of whom has a different father, for Betty Jean to care for indefinitely. Betty Jean is already struggling with caring for her ill husband, who has a daytime nurse care for him while Betty Jean is at work. One of her sons is in prison. The other never visits and rarely communicates. Her two sisters are always eager to share their opinions. Betty Jean's main source of support is her best friend and neighbor Tammy, who faces family struggles of her own.

My thoughts: How Stella Got Her Groove Back is one of my all-time favorite novels. I have read it more times than any other novel in my adulthood. Perhaps because I first read it in high school and re-read it throughout college and my early twe…

audiobook review: Let Me Go by Chelsea Cain

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narrated by Christina Delaine

The backstory: Let Me Go is the sixth novel in Chelsea Cain's Gretchen Lowell and Archie Sheridan series. My reviews of the first five: Heartsick, Sweetheart, Evil at Heart, The Night Season, and Kill You Twice. If you haven't read this series (and like a compelling serial killer story), all of them are on sale for less than $7 for Kindle, and the first is only $2.99.

The basics: It's Halloween in Portland. It's also Archie's birthday. And Gretchen is still on the loose. Archie dreads the holiday and fears how many will dress as Gretchen for Halloween, giving her the perfect opportunity to blend in and make an appearance.

My thoughts: This series is one of my favorites. It is dark and disturbing, but Cain infuses these characters with so much humanity and has built this world so well that the violence and psychological terror are never cheap ploys; they're compelling insight into the mind of a brilliant, flawed villain and the hold sh…

Sunday Salon: Reign-inspired reading, Catching Fire thoughts, and colder weather

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It's so nice to be Salon-ing two weekends in a row. I'm planning to hunker down at home today, as even my cold-weather-loving self finds single-digit temperatures when the sun is out quite cold. While I should run a few errands, when facing a two-day work week, it's easy to find reasons to just stay home and read This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett, one of my favorite authors. I've read some of its essays before, but I'm still enjoying them again. Look for my review on December 10th.

On Catching Fire
Yesterday, Mr. Nomadreader and I had a rare day off together. Even more rare: it was a Saturday. We celebrated by having a delicious brunch at Le Jardin, a recently resurrected Des Moines restaurant. In typical Des Moines fashion, we ran into friends and acquaintances while we were there. Then we headed to the mall (the horror!) and enjoyed a few martinis before settling in for an afternoon showing of Catching Fire. I adored the book when I read it fou…

book review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

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The basics: In future Chicago, everyone is part of one of five factions: Erudite, Candor, Dauntless, Abnegation, or Amity. Each year, sixteen-year-olds take a test to determine in which faction they belong. For Beatrice, the test doesn't work. She is a rare divergent, who fits in more than one faction, but she must choose which one will be her home.

My thoughts: I'm intentionally late to the Divergent party. The third (and final) book in the trilogy came out a few weeks ago, and the film comes out in March 2014. After The Hunger Games, I learned I'd rather wait until all three volumes of a trilogy are published to dive in.

First, how much do I love Veronica Roth for choosing those names for the factions? I early await the increased vocabulary of the teens reading these books. I was swept up in the world of Divergent immediately. As I read, I found myself contemplating which faction I would have chosen (Erudite), as if I would really be faced with the choice. I was also stru…

book review: Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

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The backstory: Someone Else's Love Story is the November SheReads Book Club selection.

The basics: Shandi Pierce, a twenty-one-year-old college student raising three-year-old genius Natty, meets William Ashe, a man devastated by the loss of his wife and daughter, when they're both in a Circle K when it's robbed. This strong, shared connection lingers as they navigate

My thoughts: I've heard so many of you singing the praises of Joshilyn Jackson for years, so I was excited the SheReads Book Club finally forced me to read one of her novels. I picked it up knowing nothing about it, and I particularly appreciated the novels surprises because they were unexpected. Shandi and William take turns narrating the story, and I enjoyed seeing their shared experiences through both of their eyes. Initially, the pace felt slow. I longed for the first part, when they're held hostage in the Circle K, to end. I could sense the entire novel wouldn't take place in the Circle K, and I…

book review: Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger

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The backstory: After loving all three of Audrey Niffenegger's earlier graphic novels, The Adventuress, The Three Incestuous Sisters, and The Night Bookmobile, I was eager to read her latest, Raven Girl.

The basics: When a postal carrier falls in love with a raven and takes her to live with him, they're both surprised her baby turns out to be human, but still birdlike. The Raven Girl longs to be a raven, as she feels on the inside.

My thoughts: Audrey Niffenegger's graphic novels tend to include elements of magical realism, and Raven Girl is no different. I'm not a fan of fairy tales, per se, but those elements in Raven Girl worked well for me. Niffenegger quickly builds a world in which it makes perfect sense for a postal carrier to fall in love with a raven and build a life together. That sense of magic dissipates somewhat when Raven Girl grows up and goes to college. A darker magical realism emerges, and it wasn't as captivating for me. Niffenegger's drawings w…

Sunday Salon: drifting toward the end of my reading year

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Happy Sunday (on Saturday!) It's been far too long since I've written a Salon post. Yesterday it was 65 degrees, which came after we had our first half-inch of snow on Monday. It's hard to believe it's mid-November, even though I put up two of our three Christmas trees weeks ago. To some, it's obscenely early, and part of me agrees, but it's also my favorite time of year, and I find I enjoy Thanksgiving so much more when it's part of one big holiday season rather than a beginning. I'm enjoying giving thanks and sharing holiday joy for all of November and December. Plus, it's our first holiday season in our new house, and it feels a little homier with my tree decorated with nostalgic ornaments.

This year has been a very strange reading (and blogging) year. To date, I've read only 75 books. While part of me knows 75 books is an accomplishment in some circles, I'm coming to realize I will most likely fall short of my goal of 100 books. Last yea…

book review: The Preservationist by Justin Kramon

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The basics: Julia, a first-year student at a small Pennsylvania College, is recovering from tragedy. Sam, a loner who works at the college and harbors a fascination with Julia, is struggling to come to terms with turning forty. Marcus, a fellow first-year student, seems to have secrets of his own, as well as a fascination with Julia.

My thoughts: Everybody seemed to rave about Finny, Justin Kramon's debut novel I somehow never got around to reading. When I heard he wrote a thriller for his second book, I was intrigued. When I began the novel, I was enchanted. Kramon succinctly and beautifully described characters as he introduced them, and as characters observed one another. The stage was set for a creepy, literary novel, and this time of year is perfect.

Unfortunately, the novel soon began to flounder for me. The well-described characters soon began acting more like fictional characters than believable people. Kramon seemed to be letting intrigue drive the story rather than charac…