Thursday, February 22, 2007

More winter reads

At the advice of Stephanie (The Written Word and Me So Crafty) and Heather (The Library Ladder and Orange Blossom Goddess), I've gone ahead and started a craft blog. I'm trying wordpress this time around and have been satisfied so far - maybe I'll eventually move this one over to wordpress also. Hopefully, keeping up with two blogs will not prove to be too much for me.

The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Classics)Right now I'm reading Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House. A great spooky read - I enjoy the stream of consciousness Eleanor seems to think in and how the characters interact with one another. Their banter keeps things light as the reader waits to understand why they were all brought to Hill House.

I also picked up a copy of A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka. I'm only about one chapter in but hope to get a lot more read tonight as this one is a library book and already overdue!

First ImpressionsRecently I finished Nora Roberts' First Impressions, which was the short novel she had come out with around Christmas time. I'd never read anything by her before, the only reason I picked this one off of the library shelf was that a friend kept suggesting her books to me, not realizing that I typically avoided the romance genre. I must say I was pleasantly surprised. It was the romantic fluff I had anticipated, but at the time fluff was what I needed and I think I read the book in one sitting. I'm putting Nora Roberts on my list of "my head hurts, I don't want to think about anything, need a quick, entertaining read" list of authors. I don't know that I could read her books on a regular basis but every now and then I think I'll find them enjoyable. I haven't tried her J.D. Robb series yet, not sure how those are.

I finally finished Inkheart - which was fantastic!

And last but not least, I am meeting a friend for high tea at the Concord Colonial Inn this weekend, where we are sure to be surrounded by the ghosts of so many literary greats!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Snowed In

I'm sitting on my couch right now listening to the sleet hit against the side of the house. After waking up to a very messy storm, I decided to work from home today. I always like the idea of being able to work from home - getting to wear sweats, fewer office distractions, no meetings, etc. - but when I actually do work from home I find myself easily distracted, very bored from lack of interaction with co-workers, and a tad unprofessional as I return emails in my slippers and undone hair shoved into a sloppy ponytail. I guess there is just something about the office environment that makes me feel more productive. I worked through the morning, but then felt my motivation start to wane after lunch. Seemed like a good time to create a new blog post and catch up on some blog reading.

Since I last posted, I have been back to the New England Mobile Book Fair again. I just can't get enough. Although this time I did go with a purpose in mind. Lately, I have been inspired by various craft blogs I read occasionally, and decided it was time to break out my mother's old sewing machine and put it to good use. I figured what better place to search for sewing books than at the New England Mobile Book Fair, since it's so huge and seems to have everything under the sun.

Amy Butler's In Stitches: More Than 25 Simple and Stylish Sewing ProjectsI picked up a copy of Amy Butler's In Stitches. Her book has a ton of great ideas and several patterns are included, making it easy for those of us just getting back into sewing after a fifteen year hiatus. Her fabrics are gorgeous too; the pretty pictures alone convinced me to buy the book. I managed to complete her bedside organizer project shown here. Made a few mistakes along the way, but all in all not a bad first attempt. The organizer has magazine pockets, an i-pod pocket, cd pocket, pen and pencil pockets, and a pocket for eyeglasses. It attaches to the bed with a long canvas flap placed between the mattress and box spring. Pretty nifty. I'm already envisioing homemade Christmas gifts this year.

Speaking of crafts (hmmm...maybe I should start my own craft blog - for now I guess I'll just have to include my craft posts with my book posts!), I visited Paper Source recently and picked up a paper flower making kit and a Valentine's Day paper fortune cookie kit. The paper flowers were a little more involved than I had anticipated, but still a fun project. The fortune cookies were easier, although I didn't have the required hole puncher, so I had to improvise with some tape.

More random information includes the eggless chocolate chip walnut banana bread I made. The only reason I went for eggless is that we had no eggs in the fridge and I was not about to make any attempts to actually drive to a store in this weather. Apple sauce was the substitute and the bread came out very yummy. I would definitely use this recipe again.

Enough craft and baking talk, now back to books. Right now I'm reading Cornelia Funke's Inkheart, which is absolutely perfect for this kind of weather. I became immersed as soon as I started reading it. Meggie and her father Mo are both bibliophile's and Mo has a unique ability to bring stories to life as he reads them aloud. Meggie and her father soon find themselves held hostage by a group of characters Mo inadvertently brought out of a story. Truly a charming read, I'm looking forward to picking up the sequel once I am done.

This month we're reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert for my book club. I've heard good things about this one, but haven't started it yet. Has anyone else read it and care to comment on it?

Ok, must put in another two or three hours of work now before I can officially call it a day. Ugh.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Have I got a bookstore for you

I discovered the best bookstore last weekend. After an uncomfortable three hours of allergy skin testing (hives can be such a drag, can't they?), I decided book buying would be a more soothing experience. I came across the New England Mobile Book Fair on my way home. As soon as I walked in the door, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It reminded me a little bit of the Strand in NYC, but I honestly think this store was better. It was essentially one huge warehouse of books - new and used. And everything was discounted! And they had everything imaginable!!!!

I will say though that you do have to go with the intention of spending a lot of time there. The amount they have is overwhelming and they have their collection (their fiction section at least) organized by publisher rather than author. So if you're looking for something in particular you really have to know where to look or ask one of the shopkeepers (who are super knowledgeable and helpful). The children's and young adult sections were very impressive as well - multiple copies of anything you could be looking for.

Obviously, I was not about to leave this store empty handed. Here is a list of my lovely purchases.

There Is No Me Without You: One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Africa's ChildrenThere is No Me Without You: One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Africa's Children by Melissa Fay Greene - (Booklist)...The horrific numbers behind the AIDS pandemic in Africa, "the most terrible epidemic in human history," have little resonance for most people in the West: "the ridiculous numbers wash over most of us." But this searing account humanizes the statistics through heartbreaking, intimate stories of what it is like for young orphans left alone in Ethiopia. Greene's story focuses on one rescuer, Haregewoin Teferra, who has opened her home and compound in a rickety hillside neighborhood of Addis Ababa and taken in hundreds of the untouchables thrown in the streets and left at her door...

GraysonGrayson by Lynne Cox - (Publisher's Weekly)...On a clear California morning when Cox (Swimming to Antarctica) was 17 years old, she had an unusual experience that stayed with her for 30 years, creating a spiritual foundation for her personal and professional success. In this slim and crisp memoir, Cox details a morning swim off the coast of California that took an unexpected turn: returning to shore, she discovered that she was being followed by a baby gray whale that had been separated from its mother. As Cox developed a rapport with the whale, she took on the responsibility of keeping it at sea until it was reunited with its mother...

The Book of Lost Things: A NovelThe Book of Lost Things by John Connolly - (Publishers Weekly)...Thriller writer Connolly (Every Dead Thing) turns from criminal fears to primal fears in this enchanting novel about a 12-year-old English boy, David, who is thrust into a realm where eternal stories and fairy tales assume an often gruesome reality...

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die by Peter Ackroyd and Peter Boxall

Barefoot Contessa at Home: Everyday Recipes You'll Make Over and Over AgainBarefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten - this one I got for 40% off!

On a completely unrelated note - anyone see Smallville last night? Am I the only one obsessed with that show? Great episode!