Sunday Salon ~ May 31st, 2009

Long time no see!  Sorry about that.  Hubby, Rocky and I have been back in the good ‘ole U.S. of A. for almost three weeks and have been very busy, as you can imagine.  We’ve been buying a car, getting phones, reconnecting with old friends, getting familiar with the area again and house hunting.  We found a house but have to wait for it to be built so we will be staying with my in-laws through the end of the summer till the house is ready.  It will be lovely though and so worth the wait. 

Olive Kitteridge: FictionOf course with all the distractions and things-to-do my reading and blogging have fallen to the way side.  I have missed blogging and decided that a Sunday Salon post was the best way to get back on the blogging wagon and start June the right way.  I just started reading the Pulitzer Prize winning novel Olive Kitteridge last night on my Kindle and though I’ve only read a few screens worth of it, I like it and am reminded of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County

This Wednesday evening Hubby and I will be attending a reading/book signing event with George Pelecanos at a local Borders Books.  Hubby is a big fan of Pelecanos and he is resides in my hometown of Silver Spring, MD.  It should be a great evening.  We missed Michael Connelly’s event at the same Borders last Tuesday but Hubby had just started his new gig that day and going out for the evening would have been a little much. 

Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux KingI’m also excited about two new releases this week.  Dave Matthews Band will be releasing their latest studio album Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King this Tuesday and I plan on driving around with the volume all the way up and listening to it from beginning to end that day.  (UPDATE: I just got our tix to see DMB at Nissan Pavilion on August 8th!!!) 



Martha Stewart's Cupcakes: 175 Inspired Ideas for Everyone's Favorite TreatThe second thing that I will be picking up this week is Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes.  I can’t wait to be in our new gourmet kitchen so I can make cupcakes and cookies till my heart and stomach’s content. 




Sunday Salon ~ May 3rd, 2009

Hotels, limbo and waiting.  They all suck when combined like they are for us.  We are staying in a hotel while waiting in limbo to fly back to the states in a little over a week from now.  I have been doing a lot of reading, both of review books and book blogs, watching CNN out of Hong Kong, renting The Tudors Season 2 as well as The Other Boleyn Girl and eating out for almost every meal.  (I feel very full.) 

I read/reviewed/posted an author Q&A and am hosting a giveaway (enter by Wednesday, May 6th @ Midnight EST HERE) of Mistress of the Sun by Sandra Gulland and am now reading Belong To Me by Marisa De los Santos for review.  I enjoyed Mistress of the Sun and am finding that Belong To Me is just fabulous. 

Of course I am spending too much time browsing the Internet while in the hotel.  Rocky sometimes gets jealous that I pay so much attention to the one eyed monster and brings over a toy to play or lays in my lap to distract me.  I just searched author events in the DC area and am  excited about what I found.  If you live in the DC Metro area there are some awesome author events coming up. 

The following authors will be reading and signing their new books at the Baileys Crossroads Borders:

~ Michael Connelly on May 26th @ 7:30 pm
~ George Pelecanos on June 3rd @ 7:30 pm
~ Jeffrey Deaver on June 22nd @ 7:30 pm
~ David Sedaris on June 26th @ 7:30 pm

Emeril Lagasse will be at the Tyson’s Corner Borders on June 6th @ 2 pm for a signing event, and the event I might just be the most excited about is Annie Barrows, co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society, will be at the Tyson’s Corner Barnes & Noble on June 10th @ 7 pm. 

I am also looking forward to taking some cooking classes at the Sur La Table store at Pentagon Row and learning some new recipes and techniques.  We are also planning on attending a few concerts at Nissan Pavilion and Wolf Trap.   It will be a busy, fun filled and exciting summer and I am ready to dive in with both feet.  What are you looking forward to doing this summer? 


Sunday Salon ~ April 19th, 2009

This weekend the reading had to fall to the wayside with our pack-out this week but inventorying our books was a priority.  (I hope to participate in the next Dewey Readathon though.)  Hardcovers, trade paperbacks, mass market paperbacks, cookbooks, graphic novels, piano music books and craft books.  Of course the majority of the books we own are fiction and non-fiction so keep that in mind when I tell you that in our house in Okinawa (not counting what is waiting for us in our storage crates when they arrive in Virginia from Memphis, TN later this summer) we have 480 books.  WOW!!!!  480! 

Have you ever inventoried all of your books?  How many do you have or how many do you think you might have?  Be them purchased, won or ARC’s, is it close to 500 like us or is it even more? 

{Side Note:  We also inventoried our DVD’s and video games.  DVD’s (not counting discs within box sets and TV show seasons) came to 285.  Our video games, spread out over Wii, PS3, PS2 and XBOX totaled 65.}

Sunday Salon ~ Easter Sunday 2009

Happy Easter!  What did the Easter Bunny bring you?  Six years ago he brought me a marriage proposal and a GORGEOUS engagement ring.  Not too shabby huh!  This Easter he has brought me, on behalf of Lisa over at Books & Cooks, the FRIENDS AWARD!  I am so flattered and thrilled by this because of the description of why this award it given is:
“These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated.”

Now I have been asked to award eight other blogs with this award.  The following blogs are just lovely.  Some are old blogging friends and some of them are new to me but  I immediately felt a connection with these bloggers and their sites.  These bloggers are now asked to pass this award to eight blogs they deem worthy of the Friend Award. 

Nat @ Book, Line & Sinker

Literary Feline @ Musings of a Bookish Kitty

Frances @ Nonsuch Books

Thoughts of a Lusty Reader from DC 

Stephanie’s Written Word

Lisa @ Books on the Brain

Amanda @ Life & Times of a “New” New Yorker

Ti @ Book Chatter and Other Stuff…

Sunday Salon ~ April 5th (Already?! What?!) 2009

This past week was a tough reading week for me.  I started reading Graceling by Kristin Cashore on my Kindle and I also started reading Sandra Gulland’s Mistress of the Sun for an upcoming review.  Planet Books will also be a stop on Ms. Gulland’s book blog tour on April 29th. 

GracelingGraceling is a young adult fantasy fiction piece that is really enticing and enjoyable so far.  A “Grace”  is a special gift that develops in a select few in the fantasy world of “The Seven Kingdoms” and the main character, Katsa, has the ability to kill people with her bare hands.  She discovered her “Grace” when a cousin tried to have his way with her when she was eight years old.  He winded up dead after a kick to the face from Katsa.  


Mistress of the Sun: A NovelMistress of the Sun is from the author who brought us the Josephine Bonaparte trilogy, Sandra Gulland.  When I received an e-mail from her publicist I was incredibly excited and flattered that Planet Books was asked to be a stop on Ms. Gulland’s book blog tour.  An old friend of mine had gifted the Bonaparte collection to me in 2002 and I really enjoyed the three books.  Gulland’s latest book (to be released in paperback on Tuesday, April 7th) is an imagined telling of the life of Louise de la Valliere, mistress to Louis XIV, France’s Sun King.  So far I’m really enjoying it as well.  Since I am not a fan of reading more than one book at a time I put Graceling on the back burner and have only been reading Mistress of the Sun this weekend but life keeps getting in the way of my reading time. 

We are getting ready to move back to the states after living in Okinawa for the last four years and all the stuff I have to do to prepare for this are keeping me from reading as much as I need to.  Tomorrow I know I will have about an hour of definite reading time while I’m getting an oil change and detail service for Hubby’s car but the calendar is filling up with lunches and get togethers.  So, if I don’t have much to talk about in the coming weeks regarding books, please bear with me.  I will again soon.

Sunday Salon ~ March 29th, 2009

Over the last two weeks the question hasn’t necessarily been, “What are you reading?”, but “How have you been reading?”  I have been reading on my Kindle 2 and enjoying every moment of the new reading experience that it provides.  It is such a natural way to read that I keep finding myself going to turn the page as with a regular book and having to remind myself that I have to push one of two buttons in order to actually turn the page forward.  There is another button for going to the previous page.  One of my favorite features is the dictionary.  Say I don’t know what a word is.  (When doesn’t that happen?)  Well, I can just move the cursor with the five-way button to the word in question and the definition is displayed at the bottom of the page.  If the first sentence of the definition doesn’t provide enough information then hit the return key on the Kindle’s keyboard and the definition entry will appear in it’s entirety as it appears in a real dictionary.  I love it!

Amazon Kindle 2 Photos

Living overseas, I am unable to use the Whispernet function which would allow me to be anywhere the Kindle receives service in the states, i.e. cell phones, but I can easily download my purchases from onto my computer and then transfer them to the Kindle in the blink of an eye.  I have already read THE READER on it and am now reading LITTLE BEE.  I have also downloaded DROOD, HANDLE WITH CARE, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, THE COMPLETE WIZARD OF OZ (for $0.99), THE SCHOOL OF ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS, THE BOOK THIEF, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (for $0.99), THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE, GRACELING and THE HOLY BIBLE (for free).   When Hubby and I were coming back from Hong Kong two Friday’s ago, we had a four hour lay over in Taipei.  Well, I finished THE READER in the first thirty minutes of us sitting down at the gate.  I was able to use the notes function and start typing my book review right there on the Kindle and then I browsed the titles that I had downloaded before the trip and chose to start LITTLE BEE.  Too cool!

I know I have been praising the Kindle seemingly nonstop since I received it in the mail two weeks ago, and I promise to reel myself in about it, but I can not recommend this little contraption enough.  My idea for managing which books I buy in “real form” and the Kindle format is the same as how I buy music and use my iPod.  There will always be that book that I have to have on my literal shelf and hold in my hands but there are so many that I want to own but don’t need to have the “real” book in house.  Buying books in the digital format will help me control space on bookshelves, using paper and not lugging a bunch of books around when on trips, subways, and I can carry a bunch of books at once in one small package.

Sunday Salon ~ March 22nd, 2009

What a week!  I spent it in Hong Kong with Hubby and we had a great time.  I even had the chance to read a book on my new Kindle 2.0!  I read THE READER and now I can’t wait to see the film.  I didn’t mind picturing Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes and the other actors I’ve seen in previews in my minds eye as I read it either.  It wasn’t exactly a happy book but it was an interesting idea. 

Now I’m reading LITTLE BEE and am really enjoying the anticipation I’m feeling as the story unfolds.  The characters and their narrations are vivid and rich, though again, the topics aren’t very cheery.

What are you reading this week/weekend?  I’m looking for recommendations to load onto my Kindle!

Sunday Salon ~ Vacation Distraction

March.  How did we get to the second week of March already?  My reading has slowed down a bit as the year moves forward but I’m still reading.  As I impatiently await my Kindle 2, I picked up Emily Griffin’s Baby Proof off my shelf and started reading it this past week.  I thought that it would be a light and easy chick lit read but it’s turning out to be a thought provoking book about a couple who agreed they didn’t want kids when they got married.  Then the husband changed his mind and decided he did want munchkins.  So, the only logical (so far) solution is divorce because the wife isn’t giving in and is keeping to her life long stance of not becoming a mother. 

As we keep counting down (64 days) till our international move back to the states in May, Hubby and I decided to take a quick five day vacation to Hong Kong next Sunday.  I can’t wait to show him around Hong Kong Island and Kowloon!  I had the great luck of giong to Hong Kong with a girlfriend of mine back in the summer of 2007 and can’t believe my great fortune of being able to say I’ve been there twice after next week. 

Other than that, there isn’t a whole lot going on with me.  I’m in U.S.P.S./Military Mail Service limbo at the moment as I await the arrival of both my Kindle 2 and my new Sangria Red Sony Viao laptop.  Keep your fingers crossed that one if not both of them arrive this week please. 

What are you reading this week?  Are you waiting for something exciting to arrive in your mailbox or doorstep this week too? 

Sunday Salon ~ February 22nd, 2009

Since my Sunday Salon post last weekend I started reading Mark Alpert’s Final Theory.  I had purchased this book at the PX last year when it was first released based on the premise of the story.  A thriller centered around the idea that Albert Einstein discovered the Einheitliche Feldtheorie, “… a set of equations that could explain all the forces of nature…” and the possibility of this theory falling into the wrong hands and leading to the probable end of the world.  WOW! 

Well, I have a personal interest in this story because my father is a physicist with “…broad research interests including quantum field theory, quantum computation, quantum cryptography, quantum optics, general relativity, and non-neutral plasma physics.”  (As seen on Dr. Howard Brandt’s Wikipedia page.) 

Final Theory takes the reader from New York City to Princeton, NJ and then to Carnegie Mellon University.  When I was in junior high we went on a family trip to Princeton, NJ to visit the campus of the university and to see Albert Einstein’s house where he lived while a professor at Princeton.  Another draw to this book is the fact that my sister and her husband met while working on their undergraduate degrees at Carnegie Mellon.  It always helps when  reading a story and I have been to the places where the characters are. 

I had been in need of a distraction from our impending international move back to the States and I definitley found it in Final Theory.  I’m almost done with the book and will be posting my review this week.  By the way, I am really enjoying the book!

Sunday Salon ~ February 8th, 2009

Just over three months.  That’s how much time we possibly have left in Okinawa before moving back to our hometown area of D.C.  It’s been a whirlwind of a stay here.  We arrived on this tiny sub-tropical island in May 2005 and have enjoyed so many aspects of living in a foreign country, traveling, experiencing new cultures and building lasting friendships with wonderful people from all over the U.S. 

While living here I have been able to read more books than ever but as the time winds down, I am thinking ahead to working again and getting back into the busy lifestyle that goes with being a Washingtonian and it’s getting harder to concentrate on the words in front of me.  I’m excited about the future and have found memories of the past.  It is the present that is challenging.  All the things there are to prepare for an international move, spending time with friends we may not see for a long time or ever again and finding the time to concentrate on reading when my head is spinning around the to-do list that never seem to end. 

I finished reading The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee last week and I am currently working on writing my book review.  I started a new book but feel that I need to take a break from reading for a few days.  I would like to make one more quilt before we move.  I made one the first year we were here and would like to take advantage of the time left to create another one for our new home in the States.  I keep procrastinating on deciding on a fabric medley and ordering it though.  We’ll see what happens. 


This weekend I found myself baking again.  Yesterday I made Parmesan Pull Aparts from my February 2009 issue of Gourmet Magazine.  They were easy to make and delicious, though a bit rich.  The recipe does call for a cup and a quarter of freshly grated Parmesan cheese after all.  Today I broke out my Martha Stewart Cookies Cookbook and made a batch of the Thin & Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies.  They are so good!

What have you been up to this weekend?  Do you have any big changes looming on the horizon, waiting for you too?  When big changes are making an impact on your life how do you deal with them?