Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Favorite Author: Vladamir Nabokov


Vladamir Nabokov was a Russian-born novelist, born in 1899, who published his first books in Russian before emigrating to America in 1940 where he wrote many more books in English.  He translated his earlier works from Russian to English himself; and translated his most famous book, Lolita, from English to Russian.  He died in 1977 while living in Switzerland.

Nabokov was a pure genius.  Yes, Lolita is about a man sexually obsessed with a 12-year-old girl.  It is unfortunate that this pop-culture crumb seems to overshadow Nabokov's brilliance.  For starters, Lolita is a literary masterpiece.  And besides Lolita, Nabokov wrote 17 other novels, dozens of short stories, memoirs, literary criticism, and other works.  He was also a distinguished entomologist and is famed for his lepidopterology.


I read Lolita and Pale Fire because they were included on the Modern Library's list of Top 100 Novels of the 20th CenturyPale Fire went straight to my personal list of Top 10 favorites.  Part epic poem, part annotations, part wacky murder mystery, it is a comic masterpiece and literary one-off that makes me happy just thinking about it.  

Since then, I read Pnin, which remains one of my favorite Campus Novels.  And I recently read the best known of Nabokov's memoirs, Speak Memory.

My plan is to read all Nabokov's fiction.  The three I have read so far are in red; those on my TBR shelf now are in blue.

If you are a Nabokov fan, please leave a comment with links to reviews or other Nabokov-related posts.

VLADAMIR NABOKOV FICTION BIBLIOGRAPHY

Mary (1926 in Russian/1970 in English)

King, Queen, Knave (1928/1968)

The Luzhin Defense (1930/1964; also as The Defense)

The Eye (1930/1965)

Glory (1932/1971)

Laughter in the Dark (1933/1938; and as Camera Obscura in 1936)

Despair (1934/1937 and 1965)

Invitation to a Beheading (1936/1959)

The Gift (1938/1963)

The Enchanter (written in Russian in 1936 but unpublished until 1985, in English)

The Real Life of Sebastian Knight (1941)

Bend Sinister (1947)

Lolita (1955; self-translated into Russian in 1965)

Pnin (1957)

Pale Fire (1962) (reviewed here)

Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle (1969)

Transparent Things (1972)

Look at the Harlequins! (1974)

The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov (1995)

The Original of Laura (fragmentary; published posthumously in 2009)


NOTES

Updated on July 25, 2013.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Book Beginnings


This is only me second time participating in the very popular blog event, Top Ten Tuesday.  I like it because it makes me think about the books I read and why they appeal to me -- or don't.

This week's prompt is: Top Ten Favorite Beginnings/Endings In Books (talk about books that started or ended just perfectly or with a bang OR you could do specific opening lines or last lines -- however you want to do it!)

This is a great one for me because, for the past several years, I've been keeping track of the opening sentences in books I read.  I host Book Book Beginnings on Fridays so that others can share the opening sentence(s) of the books they are reading -- please join us!

In culling my Book Beginnings list to find my ten favorites, I see that I like opening sentences that are long, complicated, and either hint at a whole story in themselves or give a real sense of location.

In no particular or and without care as to whether the book is fiction or non-fiction, my (current) Top Ten favorite book beginnings are:





The blade of Napoleon's sword scythed air redolent of roasted meat as the man who would one day be emperor severed at the top of the cheese before him. 
 -- The Whole Fromage: Adventures in the Delectable World of French Cheese by Kathe Lison.



In early times, say the Icelandic chronicles, men from the Western Islands came to live in this country, and when they departed, left behind them crosses, bills, and other objects used in the practice of sorcery.

-- Independent People by Halldór Laxness.




Late-summer sun streamed into the dining room, turning every westward surface gold – French gilt mirrors on ivory plaster walls, red wood trim, oak floors and flea-market oak chairs, mismatched flea-market china and flatware on red-and-white-checkered tablecloths, one great base of flowers with a white-linened table all to itself.
-- Alice Waters and Chez Panisse: The Romantic, Impractical, Often Eccentric, Ultimately Brilliant Making of a Food Revolution by Thomas McNamee.




Early this morning, 1 January 2021, three minutes after midnight, the last human being to be born on earth was killed in a pub brawl in a suburb of Buenos Aires, aged twenty-five years, two months and twelve days.

-- The Children of Men by P. D. James.


Clete Purcel had heard of people who sleep without dreaming, but either because of the era and neighborhood in which he had grown up, or the later experiences that had come to define his life, he could not think of sleep as anything other than an uncontrolled descent into the basement where the gargoyles turned somersaults like circus midgets.
-- Swan Peak by James Lee Burke.



On a December morning of the late 1960s, I was sitting by the windows of the Gran Caffé in the piazzetta of Capri, doing the crossword in The Times.

-- Greene on Capri: A Memoir by Shirley Hazzard.


When Henry Mulcahy, a middle-aged instructor of literature at Jocelyn College, Jocelyn, Pennsylvania, unfolded the President's letter and became aware of its contents, he gave a sudden sharp cry of impatience and irritation, as if such interruptions could positively be brooked no longer.
-- Groves of Academe by Mary McCarthy.




In a town called Happy Camp, beside a river that he had known all his life, a man drove into the deserted parking lot of an abandoned lumber mill, sat for a while in the cab of his pickup truck, and then blew his brains out.
-- Light on the Devils: Coming of Age on the Klamath by Louise Wagenknecht.



In the latter days of July in the year 185__, a most important question was for ten days hourly asked in the cathedral city of Barchester, and answered every hour in various ways -- Who was to be the new Bishop?
-- Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope



I never really warmed to Clovis -- he was far too stupid to inspire real affection -- but he always claimed a corner of my heart, largely, I suppose, because of the way he instinctively and unconsciously cupped his genitals whenever he was alarmed or nervous.
-- Brazzaville Beach by William Boyd.

I saved the best for last. 



















Monday, July 29, 2013

Teaser Tuesaday & GIVEAWAY Reminder: The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman




Brightly colored rugs cover the oak floors, and wooden bookshelves span the walls. In every available space and cranny I find interesting paintings and artwork, all from places John visited when he was a traveling musician..
-- The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman.

THE BOOK: "In this utterly charming debut—perfect for fans of Cecelia Ahern’s P.S., I Love You and Allison Winn Scotch’s Time of My Life — one woman sets out to complete her old list of childhood goals, and finds that her lifelong dreams lead her down a path she never expects." 

Spielman's new novel is gaining in deserved popularity.  It is the perfect summer read -- a charming "bucket list" story with a weird twist: in order to inherit her mother's estate, the heroine must complete a list of life goals that she wrote when she was 14 years old.  The list includes perfprming on stage, buying a horse, and (particularly confusing for a woman about to take over as CEO of her mother's cosmetic company ) becoming a teacher.

THE GIVEAWAY:  I have a finished paperback edition of The Life List to give away to one lucky book blogger. Go to the GIVEAWAY PAGE for details and to sign up.

PLEASE DON'T SIGN UP FOR THE GIVEAWAY HERE. GO TO THIS PAGE.


Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event. 



Mailbox Monday


Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday this holiday weekend! MM was created by Marcia, who graciously hosted it for a long, long time, before turning it into a touring event (details here).

Tasha at Book Obsessed is hosting in July. Please stop by Tasha's busy blog, where she focuses on romance novels, with some mystery and suspense thrown in.

The cover of this new cheese book caught my eye when I first saw it a couple of weeks ago.  Isn't it terrific? I got my copy last week and can't wait to learn all about the tradition of local cheese making here in the Pacific Northwest.



Pacific Northwest Cheese: A History
by Tami Parr, published by OSU Press.

A friend of mine from my San Francisco days was in Portland for work and came over for an overdue visit.  She was very sweet to bring me a couple of cool old books she found at Thea's Vintage Living.



The Thackeray is an old copy of Vanity Fair, which would be fun to read in this antique edition.   The housekeeping book is a real hoot, and perfect for our new kitchen.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Kitchen Remodel, Week Twenty-Two: Pots & Pans

We are down to the little, final details in the kitchen. This week, the pot rack went up, which makes my husband particularly pleased because his mother gave it to him decades ago. 



I finally read Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain. I read it with my ears because he reads it himself and I like audiobooks best when they are read by the author. It was a little name-droppy at times, but I got a kick out of it. He is so enthusiastic. Even when he complains about things, he has such enthusiasm for his gripes.


WEEKEND COOKING



Friday, July 26, 2013

Flashback Friday: The Stories of John Cheever



The Stories of John Cheever, which won the National Book Critics Circle award in 1978 and the Pulitzer in 1979, is a chronological collection that spans Cheever’s short story career, from pre-WWII up to 1973. To read this collection – just shy of 700 pages – is to live in Cheever’s head, tracking his artistic and personal development in a way that a single novel or volume of stories doesn’t allow.

These are not happy stories. The earlier pieces are particularly bleak and raw. While the later stories are deeper and more nuanced, they are still pretty dark. Precious few have cheerful resolutions. The best Cheever’s characters seem to achieve is contentment despite imperfect circumstances.

Cheever’s is a world of commuter trains and cocktail parties, where everyone wears hats, has a cook, drinks martinis at lunch, summers, sails, and commits adultery. Not everyone is rich; in fact, money problems are a continuing theme. But the trappings, however tarnished, of a mid-century, Northeast corridor, upper crust way of life hang on all the stories. And that is Cheever at his best. He can bring us so deep into that world that it feels like living it.

NOTES

I read this book back in 2006 or so, before I started this blog.  I can't say I enjoyed all the stories, but the collection left a powerful impression that has stayed with me.

This is the first time I've participated in Flashback Friday, but I like the idea and hope to participate more often.






Pick a book from your reading past to highlight -- something you’ve read yourself and wish everyone would read, preferably that is still in print, but was originally published five or more years ago.





Thursday, July 25, 2013

Book Beginning & Giveaway: The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman


SEE GIVEAWAY DETAILS BELOW

Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name.

EARLY BIRDS: I am experimenting with getting this post up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. We'll try it this way for a couple of months to see if people like the option of early posting. If you have feelings one way or the other, please comment.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I am trying to follow all Book Beginning participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

MR. LINKY: Please leave a link to your post below. If you don't have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.



MY BOOK BEGINNING



Voices from the dining room echo up the walnut staircase, indistinct, buzzing, intrusive.

-- The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman

THE BOOK: "In this utterly charming debut—perfect for fans of Cecelia Ahern’s P.S., I Love You and Allison Winn Scotch’s Time of My Life — one woman sets out to complete her old list of childhood goals, and finds that her lifelong dreams lead her down a path she never expects." 

This debut novel is already catching a lot of buzz. It is a quirky take on the whole "bucket list" idea. Here, the heroine is perfectly happy with her life, but when her mother dies, her inheritance is contingent on completing a list of life goals that she wrote when she was 14 years old -- Including having a baby, buying a horse, and (particularly confusing for a woman about to take over as CEO of her mother's company ) becoming a teacher.

THE GIVEAWAY: Thanks to book publicist Mary Bisbee-Beek, I have a finished paperback edition of The Life List to give away to one lucky book blogger. The really cool thing about the giveaway is that the winner will get to host another giveaway, as will the winner of that contest. It is a triple leapfrog giveaway for a total of three copies of Laurie Nelson Spielman's new novel.

The contest is for readers in the USA only (sorry) and is open until Thursday, August 1, 2013, at 4:00 PST. There are five ways to enter and each one is worth a chance to win. To enter, do any or all of the following, but you must leave a comment for each one and you must put an email address in a comment:

1. Comment on this post. You must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner. (1 entry)

2. Blog about this giveaway. Posting the giveaway on your sidebar is also acceptable. Leave a separate comment with a link to your post. (1 entry)

3. Follow this blog with Google or NetworkedBlogs, or subscribe via email (or tell me if you already are a subscriber or follower). Leave a separate comment for this. (1 entry)

4. Tweet this post on Twitter. Leave me a separate comment with your twitter user name. (1 entry)

5. Post this on a social network. Put it on facebook, post it on Google+, pin it on Pinterest, Stumble it, digg it, reddit, or otherwise put it out there in the social network. Leave a separate comment with a link or explanation. (1 entry)

There are a lot of ways to enter (maximum of five entries), but you must LEAVE A SEPARATE COMMENT for each one or they will not count. I will use random.org to pick the winners from the comments.

This contest is open to entries from the U.S. only. The deadline for entry is 4:00 PM, Pacific Time, on Thursday, August1, 2013. I will draw and post the winner's name in my Book Beginning post going up at 5:00 PM on August 1, 2013. 



Review: Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore

 




When Thomas Moore talks about caring for the soul, he does not mean in a religious, save your soul for the eternal hereafter sense. He is talking about the soul in the sense used by psychiatrists like Jung, poets like Keats or Rilke, Renaissance philosophers, or Greek playwrights. He means that part of our self connected with genuineness, depth, imagination, ambiguity, mystery, myth, and ritual.

Moore’s book, Care of the Soul, is difficult to get into because his concept of soul is so hard to grasp for a busy, contemporary reader, distracted by the buzz of daily life. His whole point is that the soul is not something that can be scientifically defined and examined, fixed or fine tuned. As he says, “Soul is the font of who we are, and yet it is far beyond our capacity to devise and to control.”

Moore’s thesis is that our lives are fuller, richer, and deeper, with a greater recognition of our individual selves the more we cultivate and care for our souls. Conversely, ignoring and starving our souls leads to disillusionment, loss of values, ugliness, and even neuroses.

He explores his thesis first by looking at common issues in everyday life that he argues “offer the opportunity for soul-making, once we stop thinking of them as problems to be solved.” Some of his scenarios and explanations are confusing – for instance, how the myth of Narcissus builds the soul, while the psychological condition of narcissism demonstrates a week soul dominated by the ego. Discussions such as this seem to pre-suppose a familiarity with classical psychoanalysis beyond that of a general reader.

But Care of the Soul has a lot to offer the reader willing to dig in and give due consideration to Moore’s message. In particular, the later sections comparing the soul and the spirit and on tending the soul through artful living are worth pondering and re-reading. For instance, this passage inspires closer attention to day-to-day ritual:

To live with a high degree of artfulness means to attend to the small things that keep the soul engaged in whatever we are doing, and it is the very heart of soul-making. From some grand overview of life, it may seem that only the big events are ultimately important. But to the soul, the most minute details and the most ordinary activities, carried out with mindfulness and art, have an effect far beyond their apparent insignificance.

OTHER REVIEWS

If you would like your review of this book, or any other book by Thomas Moore, listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.

NOTES

I've read a couple other "soul" books by Thomas Moore, but this one has been on my TBR shelf forever. I finally read it now as one of my books for two of the TBR challenges I am doing this year, the MT. TBR CHALLENGE (hosted by Bev on My Reader's Block) and the OFF THE SHELF CHALLENGE (hosted by Bonnie on Bookish Ardour).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

List: Campus Novels

The Ivory Tower has never tempted me. I have no interest in being a college professor. I wasn't even particularly fond of being a college student. But I absolutely love novels with an academic theme, featuring college professors, set on college campuses. The Campus Novel is my favorite genre.

So this is my list of Campus Novels -- those I have read or want to read. Suggestions for additions to this list are always welcome.

I followed David Lodge's distinction between "Campus Novels" primarily featuring college professors and other faculty, and "Varsity Novels" primarily featuring students. The later don't appeal to me much. There may be a few on here that could cross over, but I think they all fall on the professor side of the line.

Those I have read are in red, with links to reviews if I wrote one. Those on my TBR shelf are in blue. If you have reviewed any of these books, and would like me to link to your review, please leave a comment with a link either here or on my review post and I will add it.

Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber

Jake's Thing by Kingsley Amis

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

One Fat Englishman by Kingsley Amis (reviewed here)

Death of an Old Goat by Robert Barnard

End of the Road by John Barth

The Dean's December by Saul Bellow

More Die of Heartbreak by Saul Bellow

Herzog by Saul Bellow

Ravelstein by Saul Bellow

The Morning After Death by Nicholas Blake

Eating People is Wrong by Malcolm Bradbury

The History Man by Malcolm Bradbury

Possession by A. S. Byatt

The Professor's House by Willa Cather

Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon

Falconer by John Cheever

Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee

The Archivist by Martha Cooley

Holy Disorders by Edmund Crispin (and rest of his Gervase Fen series)

Dreaming of the Bones by Deborah Crombie

In the Last Analysis by Amanda Cross (and the rest of her Kate Fansler series)

The Rebel Angels by Robertson Davies (reviewed here)

What's Bred in the Bone by Robertson Davies

The Lyre of Orpheus by Robertson Davies

White Noise by Don DeLillo

Death is Now My Neighbour by Colin Dexter (from his Inspector Morse series)

The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn by Colin Dexter (from his Inspector Morse series)

The English School of Murder by Ruth Dudley Edwards

The Trick of It by Michael Frayn

Death at the President's Lodging by Michael Innes

The Weight of the Evidence by Michael Innes

A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood (reviewed here)

Redback by Howard Jacobson

Pictures from an Institution by Randall Jarrell

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova 

My Latest Grievance by Elinor Lipman (reviewed here)

The British Museum is Falling Down by David Lodge

Thinks by David Lodge

Deaf Sentence by David Lodge (reviewed here)

Changing Places by David Lodge (reviewed here)

Small World by David Lodge

Nice Work by David Lodge

The War Between the Tates by Alison Lurie

A New Life by Bernard Malamud

All Souls by Javier Marias

An Oxford Tragedy by J. C. Masterman

The Groves of Academe by Mary McCarthy (reviewed here)

Irish Tenure by Ralph McInerny (and the rest of his Notre Dame mystery series)

The Search Committee by Ralph McInerny

Prisoner in a Red-Rose Chain by Jeffrey Moore

Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov

The Lost Journals of Sylvia Plath by Kimberly Knutsen

Blue Angel by Francine Prose

Japanese by Spring by Ishmael Reed

Letting Go by Philip Roth

The Professor of Desire by Philip Roth

The Breast by Philip Roth

The Dying Animal by Philip Roth

The Human Stain by Philip Roth (reviewed here)

That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo

Straight Man by Richard Russo

The Small Room by May Sarton

Gaudy night by Dorothy L. Sayers

Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher

Porterhouse Blue by Tom Sharpe

Moo by Jane Smiley

On Beauty by Zadie Smith (reviewed here)

The Masters by C.P. Snow

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey

Memories of the Ford Administration by John Updike

Stoner by John Williams

The Hair of Harold Roux by Thomas Williams (reviewed here)

Anglo-Saxon Attitudes by Angus Wilson

NOTES

Updated on July 19, 2016.

If you have suggestions for additions to this list, please leave a comment!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Turn-Offs


This is my first time participating in the very popular blog event, Top Ten Tuesday. Not sure I can keep up with weekly participation, but it is a fun event, so I'll give it a try.

This week's topic is the "Top Ten Words/Topics That Will Make You NOT pick up a book." I get a kick out of the topic, because it does only take a word or a phrase to turn me off a book, no matter how popular. And I realize that my bookish turn-offs are just the things that a lot of people look for between the covers.

If I see any of these, the book stays on the shelf:
  • vampire
  • serial killer
  • werewolf
  • YA
  • erotic
  • World War I
  • coming of age
  • fantasy
  • paranormal
  • horror
The World War I thing is temporary. I'm just burnt out on muddy trenches, mustard gas, and snipers, even as the backdrop of the most touching love story or any other compelling plot. Right now, I feel the same way about Civil War novels. But I could only put ten on the list.

How about you? What words turn you away from a book?




Monday, July 22, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain



But my low opinion of the Food Network actually went back a little further in time. Back to when they were a relatively tiny, sat-sack start-up with studios on the upper floors of an office building on Sixth Avenue, a viewership up about eight people, and the production values of late-night public-access porn.

-- Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook by Anthony Bourdain.

I get a kick out of anything Anthony Bourdain writes, and this latest collection of essays is no exception. I am listening to him read the audio book edition, which makes it all the better. I have been barking with laughter.

The only thing that catches me off guard is his blue language. We swear a lot in my house -- to the point where I don't hear swear words in ordinary conversation. But hearing the same words in a "production" like an audiobook brings them to my attention. I've learned a couple I plan to incorporate.

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event. 



Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mailbox Monday


Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday this holiday weekend! MM was created by Marcia, who graciously hosted it for a long, long time, before turning it into a touring event (details here).

Tasha at Book Obsessed is hosting in July. Please stop by Tasha's busy blog, where she focuses on romance novels, with some mystery and suspense thrown in.

I got three books last week from the champion book publicist Mary Bisbee-Beek.  Thanks to Mary and the publishers, I will be hosting giveaways in the near future for all three books.  Check back on Friday for the first of the giveaways.



The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman: "In this utterly charming debut—perfect for fans of Cecelia Ahern’s P.S., I Love You and Allison Winn Scotch’s Time of My Life — one woman sets out to complete her old list of childhood goals, and finds that her lifelong dreams lead her down a path she never expects."



Drive by Raymond Ahrens: "Willie Easelman, 86, born in Brooklyn and a perennial finalist in the American Dream Sweepstakes, is committed to the Morningside Nursing Home by his daughter, Anna. Cunning, despite his dementia, Willie sneaks behind the wheel of his '86 Impala and escapes, heading north along America's roadways . . ."



Cleans Up Nicely by Linda Dahl: "When twenty-something artist Erica Mason moves from laid-back Mexico to Manhattan in the mid-1970s, she finds a hard-edged, decadent, and radically evolving art scene."

I also got one book from the LibraryThing Early reviewer program:



Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr.




Kitchen Remodel, Week Twenty-One: A New Home for the Cookbook Library


Definitely one of my favorite things about our new kitchen is the bookcase under one bank of windows. I can finally keep all my cookbooks in the kitchen with me. They didn't all fit in these shelves, but 80 percent of them did. The rest are in one of the cupboards under the island, which is good enough. At least they are all in the same room.

Ella Fitzgerald, one of our two Jazz Cats, loves the new book case.  In the summer, she can smell the outside through the open windows and keep an eye on the crows.  In the winter, the steam radiator (hidden behind the black screen on the left) will warm up the soapstone counter she's sitting on. I suspect she will spend a lot of time there.


At a neighborhood potluck last night, I got a tip about a plum tree at a vacant house a couple of blocks away. So I went this morning with my next-door neighbor, the wildly creative interior designer Marketa Rogers, to do some urban gleaning.

I'm not quite sure what to do with these.  They are the little round kind, not much bigger than a Bing cherry.  They are deliciously sweet and tart and very juicy.  They would make a great pie, but I'm trying to shed a few pounds and pie won't help.  I think I'll either make a few jars of jam, or pit and freeze them to make a pie later when I have more calorie capacity for eating pie.

Any other plum ideas? For now or to use with frozen plums later.



WEEKEND COOKING




Thursday, July 18, 2013

Book Beginning: Perfect Happiness by Penelope Lively


Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name.


EARLY BIRDS: I am experimenting with getting this post up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. We'll try it this way for a couple of months to see if people like the option of early posting. If you have feelings one way or the other, please comment.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I am trying to follow all Book Beginning participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

MR. LINKY: Please leave a link to your post below. If you don't have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.



MY BOOK BEGINNING



The fifth Brandenburg. Somewhere, some place, every moment, an orchestra is playing the fifth Brandenburg concerto.

-- Perfect Happiness by Penelope Lively. That is a lovely thought, probably true, and it made me want to listen to the fifth Brandenburg concerto, which you can hear right here.



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters






"It's just that for three years Michael has rejected every idea I bring in as being too dark, too expensive, too period . . . not commercial enough. Then you come in yesterday with – no offense – the darkest, least commercial, most expensive period film I've ever heard about, and he loves it."
-- Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (ellipses in original). This is the heroine's reaction to the hero's pitch for a movie about the Donner party.

I'm almost finished with this, just in time for Book Club on Wednesday. I loved it. Great story!

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event. 



Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mailbox Monday


Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday this holiday weekend! MM was created by Marcia, who graciously hosted it for a long, long time, before turning it into a touring event (details here).

Tasha at Book Obsessed is hosting in July. Please stop by Tasha's busy blog, where she focuses on romance novels, with some mystery and suspense thrown in.

I got three short books last week that I plan to rip through to help me with my work on a Board of Directors for a local non-profit.

Unlike with a lot of nonprofit boards, we are not required to actively fundraise, which is very nice. But it is a subject I would like to learn more about, even if just to deepen my appreciation for the efforts of the professional fundraisers.




Fund Raising Realities Every Board Member Must Face by David Lansdowne




Asking: A 59-Minute Guide to Everything Board Members, Volunteers, and Staff Must Know to Secure the Gift by Jerold Panas



Mega Gifts: Who Gives Them, Who Gets Them by Jerold Panas

Kitchen Remodel: Week Twenty, Cooking With Gas!

We are pretty much moved into the new kitchen.  There are some details and punch list items to go, and the outside is not finished yet.  But the cupboards are full, the pantry is stocked, and we are up and running.

The only trouble is that I don't feel moved in -- I am afraid to use anything in the new kitchen.  I don't want to hurt it or make it messy.  We have to force ourselves to put dirty dishes on the counter or cook on the stove.  It will get broken in eventually, but I am still white-gloving for a while.

Our first meal in the new kitchen was a favorite that we've missed -- Jalapeno Chicken.  I'll give the recipe below, but it is stupid easy.  It doesn't really count as a recipe since it is only one step more complicated than "apply heat to food."


JALAPENO CHICKEN

Pre-heat oven to 375. Pour a little olive oil in a roasting pan. Put chicken parts in a single layer.  Drumsticks work very well, but any parts will do.  Drain a can of whole jalapenos ("escabeche" style -- with the carrots) and evenly distribute the peppers and carrots in between the chicken pieces.  (Save the juice to marinate something else later.)  The ratio should be roughly one pepper for each piece of chicken. Cook until the chicken is really brown, one to two hours.  Turn the chicken once if you remember.

This is a yummy and super easy way to make chicken.  The chicken gets some spiciness from the jalapenos, but not a lot. The peppers themselves get all roasted and gooey and are delicious served on the side as a condiment to the chicken.  The leftover peppers are good on many things -- scrambled eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches, hamburgers, etc.


Part of this kitchen remodel involved creating access from the kitchen door to the "terrace" on top of our garage.  That stage of the project also wrapped up this week and we were able to, at long last, put our patio table up there and use that outdoor space.  My parents and stepdaughter were the first to enjoy dinner with us out there.


WEEKEND COOKING



Thursday, July 11, 2013

Book Beginning: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter


Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name.

EARLY BIRDS: I am experimenting with getting this post up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. We'll try it this way for a couple of months to see if people like the option of early posting. If you have feelings one way or the other, please comment.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I am trying to follow all Book Beginning participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

MR. LINKY: Please leave a link to your post below. If you don't have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.



MY BOOK BEGINNING



The dying actress arrived in his village the only way one could come directly -- in a boat that motored into the cove, lurched past the rock jetty, and bumped against the end of the pier.

-- Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. Chapter 1 is headed April 1962, Porto Vergogna, Italy.

This is my Books Club selection for July and I can't wait to dive into it.

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