Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Two Blog Awards!

I recently got this award again from two great bloggers. Go check them out!
Planet Books: Your World Wide Online Book Club
Seriously...I just saw this post on her site and my stomach is rumbling. Mmmm.
Stephanie...I love your blog and I desperately want to watch the Lost in Austen series too. If you figure it out, let me know!

I read WAY too many blogs but here's just a few that consistenly make my day:

Heather at Age 30 - A Year of Books

Katherine (fellow New Yorker) at A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore

Emily (fellow New Yorker) at books, the universe, and everything

Book Chronicles who I think has an impressive "to-read" stack

Lisa at Books.Lists.Life who gives great advice

FyreFly's Book Blog (I love your blog header)

Monniblog who's cat cracks me up

Trish at Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'?

Brainella the Librarian

Bree at The Things We Read

Nymeth at Things Mean a Lot who's just plain awesome

Azull at Through the Eyes of Me who's making me want to get a pumpkin spice latte

Jill at Under the Dresser who has a great blog title, sense of humor, and will be coming to NYC

Andi at Tripping Toward Lucidity: Estella's Revenge

The first two blogs I started reading:

Confessions of a Real Librarian
Click. The Good News

And last but not least...

Dennis's Diary of Destruction who I'll never give a pillow to but who kicks hedjhog army butt

**Note: Ok that really wasn't a "short" list...I know I read too many blogs.

Here's a link to my other favorite "non-book" blogs.

Charlie's Hideout

Can you spot him?

Guest Review - The Bestiary

Seconds, well, seconds disappearing before They come back, Them, Those, They that reside within, gone for the time being. Keep up, tolerate short choppy sentences, fragments, brevity.

New book, “Beastiary”, Nicholas Christopher;
Her shelf, creeped title, thin, grab, run, late.

Dog-eared pages, re-read, still pertinent?
Importance, relevance, interesting, provoking, motivating, identify.
Twice, three hundred seven pages.

Read, four days.
Strove to steal extra minutes.
Balanced fiction, driven by plot, point, and what happens next.

!!breathe in!! boy develops fascination with mythological animals based on allegory and family ties that he follows throughout life as a semi mid-upper classed and fortunate individual with limitless capacity for knowledge jealously spending dump-truck loads of hours indulging in research in Timeless European cities putting together the path a tome that does or does not exist has taken since Noah boarded his ark and shut the big wooden doors written by an author that thankfully stops reiterating proper educated past Scholar’s and Adventure’s who searched for this book of beasts have met mostly dire and occasionally deathful circumstances while evolving the character’s love for animals into a more tangible product all without the time-tested and typical thick layer of mush and managing to still tie up subtle unrealized and unrecognized loose ends into a nice, lively, readable and pleasantly enjoyable fictional diversion from the standard murder mystery formulated novels concluding in… !!ah, out of breath…!!

Pages, Dog –eared
Quote: “To be saved from folly, Atlas, you need either kind friends or fierce enemies.” (p65)

Second: much to much to explain here, minutes to go, whistle, train is coming.
Cause and the ripple effect, food chain, extinction, bigger picture is over-whelming,
phrases such as “… spend my life writing postmortems- or obituaries…” and “…human race… animals extinct… dry run.” (all page 130)

Ending, note
Footsteps on the stairs;
gaining volume.
Anxious, apprehensive I have to leave.
I will not fight them tonight.

“Bestiary” not Beastiary... recently realized.

Posted by Reviewer Number Five

Book Fair Loot

Remember from this post that the Housingworks Book Fair was going on last week. Well even though it was a rainy soggy weekend, we got out and went to SoHo and checked it out. It was pretty crowded with just tons of open boxes of books. You really had to just shove right in and get to browsing. They had books, VHS, CDs, records...it was really quite the selection.

Here's a close up. Ahem....please excuse the Calvin Klein add in the background.After my arms got too sore carting around all my loot we checked out. My husband even found a hardback Caleb Carr book, one on Shackleton, a growing plants indoors book (we are thinking of doing window tomatoes and a herb garden), and a CD. Everything was a dollar so we walked out with $14 dollars worth of stuff.

Here's my loot:

I found two books for my Egyptian Book Challenge:

When We Were Gods: A Novel of Cleopatra by Colin Falconer

The Empire of Darkness: A Novel of Ancient Egypt by Christian Jacq

A hard copy of Cold Mountain to go with my hard copy of Thirteen Moons which I adored.

Two novels I've been trying to win on other people's blog contests:

Guernica by Dave Boling

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus

And the others were just random ones that I've been wanting to read. Except Sovereign which just looked good and I grabbed it.

If you missed the book fair, no worries. Housingworks Bookstore and Cafe is so cool and is open year round. I grabbed a cup of coffee and browsed around. I would have stayed longer but my better half was getting restless so I will have to come back some other time. I know they are having a pretty big sale this weekend.

I mean seriously...this is what I want my library to look like in my house someday. Well, without the people posing for me :)

Monday, September 29, 2008


It's one of those days that I would love one of these:

***Grainy photo taken by camera phone in Las Vegas, I belive here.

Night at Columbus Circle

Here's some more posts from the other night as the Gotham Sky night. We were at Columbus Circle about to hop on the subway and I couldn't resist taking some fun photos. If you are at Columus Circle, you are on the West Side at 59th Street, and right on the lower corner of Central Park:

Remember the creepy clouds?:

And of course my husband had to stop and get something to eat from a street vendor. Boy, the stuff smells great but my stomach can't handle it well. But here's a classic NYC scene:

I held the camera low and used the "no flash" option. Hehehe...sneaky:

And a shot of the Columbus Circle monument (and Time Warner headquarters) from the street vendor:

I love that the shops surrounding the circle are curved. Here's a great shot of it:

There are a ton of great shopping in the area...Best Buy, Whole Foods, and other "mall" stores. I love going in there during Christmas because of all the decorations. And I love the fountains near the monument. I just learned they were done by the same people who did Bellagio's fountains in Las Vegas. Too cool!

I also just learned that you can see Columbus's three ship on the monument: The Nina, The Pinta, and The Santa Maria. The things we learn...
Here's one of my favorite shots:And of course...here's the Globe thing...

Hope you enjoyed the trip around Columbus Circle!

***Note: I orginally titled this post "Night at Columbus Square". Sigh. Quite odd since I know's it's called Columbus Circle...and it's a circle. Has this day (read the news if you don't know what I'm talking about) worn any one else out? My current job is at a financial investing company (I won't tell you which one) so it's obviously causing quite the stir.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Black & White Cookies

I had a New York City "first" today. I finally got around to having a black and white cookie. The black and white cookie (sometimes called a half-moon) is apparently a big New York snack item. I had never seen or heard of them before I moved here. The office had them for free and my co-worker was shocked that I had never had one. She said you have to bite it so you get a piece of white and dark chocolate in one bite. So viola!

My thoughts: Not bad! I had always thought they were more of a cookie substance...you know a brittle crumbly thing. Nope. It's actually a soft shortbread type...more like cake tasting really. But super rich with the white and dark chocolate.

Conclusion: Glad I tried it but too rich for my taste.

Have you ever heard of a black and white cookie and if so, have you tried it? Was it good?

Book Fair for a Cause

I found out about a cool book fair which is happening this Sunday, September 28 . Here's the blurb from the NY Times:

Not only does Housing Works 4th Annual Open Air Book Fair have more than 10,000 books, records CDs and DVDs priced at $1 each, there will also be a $20 per bag “all you can stuff” sale of clothing from the thrift shops. Plus food from local restaurants like Noho Star and Puck Fair and beer from Sixpoint Craft Ales! Pedestrians only on Sunday; worthwhile charity any day of the week.

Housing Works, located in Soho (South of Houston Street) has a Used Book Cafe which, according to their website, has 45,000 used, new, and rare books and records. Wow!

AND the best part is that 100% of profits go to Housing Works, a non-profit that provides services for the homeless in NYC living with HIV and AIDS.
I haven't been there before so I'll let you know how it goes. And if you are in the area, check it out!
***NOTE: It's dumping buckets of rain today in NYC and is supposed to ALL weekend. So I hope it's not outdoors and/or canceled!!!!

Guest Reviewers

Since I've been a little swamped with school and was in a bit of a reading slump (that and The Terror is a LONG book) I've decided to ask a few people to be "guest reviewers" for my blog. I've decided to make a new blog site for those reviews so they don't get all jumbled up in my "read and reviewed" list. I've even asked a few males to review books because I'm kind of interesting in seeing a new perspective.

Let me know what you think and feel free to leave questions, comments, or suggestions!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

These Old Shades

Almost two months ago I finished reading my first Georgette Heyer's novel, These Old Shades. I've seen her name flying around a few blogs and heard she wrote some great romance/historical fiction mostly from the Regency England era as well as other eras. I think These Old Shades is from the Georgian Era...but who's counting.

And she is pretty "old school". By that I mean, These Old Shades was written in 1926. Wow! I also think her photo is lovely!

So I was intrigued. Apprently she really researched the history in her novels and she has a huge fan base. There's even a whole website devoted to her and her work.

Anyway, so when I found a copy of These Old Shades at the Mid-Manhattan Library book sale for seventy-five cents...well...obviously it was fate. That and really what quality item can you get for seventy-five cents these days.

Well, I have to say I love her writing. Oh great writing! If you've been wanting some good historical fiction, romance a la Austen-style, check out Heyer's work.

But maybe check out a different one than These Old Shades if it's your first. I've been hearing great things about her book An Infamous Army. But moving on...

Here's the synopsis from the book:

Justin Alastair, the coldhearted Duke of Avon, had revenge in mind as he plucked a flamehaired urchin off the Paris streets. For Avon suspected the truth about his delicately handsome page—that "Léon" was really Léonie and none other than the wicked Comte de Saint Vire's legitimate daughter, deprived of her heritage by the comte's dastardly desire for a male heir. The duke's plan was simple: parade Léonie in front of his enemy and have his adoring, innocent ward reclaim her birthright, destroying her true father in the process. But the duke hadn't expected Léonie's breathtaking transformation or the tender emotions she awoke—and he'd already set his dangerous scheme in motion.…

Haha...yeah. It's a bit weird. So I'm not sure how I feel about the whole older man attracted by girl who's in the disguise of a boy. I mean, there's Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and then there's just weird. So while I will definitely try another Georgette Heyer book and I love her writing style...maybe try a different one than These Old Shades. That said, Leonie was quite a character and you can't help liking her. And I did like it. But it's still weird.

And just because I like book covers I found a few alternatives than the one I have pictured above. Although I'm a bit disappointed. They are a bit boring. Well the second one is just creepy. Although the last one is kind of cool. What do you think?

Have you read a Georgette Heyer novel? Do you like her stuff? Which one would you recommend a newbie read?

Also Reviewed by:

Historical Tapestry

Bookshelves of Doom


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gotham Sky

Since it is officially Autumn in New York and I've been reading spooky stories for Carl's R.I.P III Challenge, I thought I'd post some photographs.

I took these one night going home from somewhere and I thought the sky looked deliciously spooky. Excuse the blurriness in some since I don't have a tripod and I was using the no flash option.

Aren't those clouds great! I got one of my husband and a cool looking building. He actually knows what building that is and who the architect is...I'll have to ask him and post an addendum later.With the building's lights and the creepy clouds...I was in photographer's heaven. Well, a tripod would have been handy.

And then I got carried away with the building. It's just such an odd/beautiful building.

At some point I'm going to have to buy Photoshop and play around with my photos. Hmmm...Christmas is coming up!

Hope you enjoyed the photos!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Go Gothic with Jane

For all you Jane Austen fans, check out the blog Austen Prose who are doing a month long Go Gothic with Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey.

Since I just read this book a few days ago I thought it would be fun to participate. So for those of you who've read it or have been looking for an excuse to read it, go check it out!
Did I mention there are prizes involved? Double the motivation!

Friday, September 19, 2008

1001 Book Update - Northanger Abbey

What better way to get out of a reading slump than to read Jane Austen. And I still can't believe that I haven't read Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey until now.
Here's the synopsis:

While on vacation with friends in Bath, seventeen-year-old Catherine makes new friends and falls in love. Catherine also loves creepy, scary, Gothic novels. So when her crush, Henry Tilney, and his sister Elenore invite Catherine to stay with them at their renovated Northanger Abbey home, Catherine gladly accepts. Not only is she excited to be in proximity of Henry but she gets to explore a "Gothic" abbey house. But is the abbey haunted by the dead Mrs Tilney? Or did General Tilney kill his wife? Or is she still alive, hidden somewhere in the house? Does Henry love Catherine in return?

This is a cute novel which was an easy and fun read. I loved Catherine who's imagination was constantly getting the better of her. While reading it, I couldn't help but think that Catherine had quite a bit of Jane Austen...or what I imagine Jane Austen to have been like. At first I almost expected this to become my favorite Austen book...but by the end, while still an enjoyable read, my favorite is still Pride and Prejudice.
Oddly enough, while I had never read Northanger Abbey I had never seen a movie on it either. So I'm posting some pictures of the movie so I will remember to go rent this one.

Is Northanger Abbey your favorite Austen novel? Why?
Have you seen the movie and did you like it? Which version?

Also reviewed by:
Age 30+ A Lifetime of Books
Enchanted by Josephine
Ulat Buku in the City
The Novel World
Carla from My Little Corner
Things Mean A Lot
Shelf Love

Movie reviewed by:
A Striped Armchair

This is the first book completed for the R.I.P. III Challenge:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Birds of a Feather

It's not unusual to see rats in the subway. Usually they are on the tracks. A few are even kind of cute...more mouse-ish looking. I've even seen one bird flying around in one stop. I'm not sure how it got down there. But this morning, my husband saw this:
Yeah that's right. He said a guy came in with it and let it down and it started walking around.

Now I've never seen a parrot on the subway. A couple days ago I did see a man with a two foot single green feather sticking straight up from his hat and a purple suit. But a parrot? That's just weird.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Van Gogh Vino

One thing about me that most people know about is that I LOVE Van Gogh. I love his art, I love his letters, I think he is amazing....

I'm also a sucker for Van Gogh stuff. Our apartment has:

1) Van Gogh coffee mugs
2) Van Gogh candle holder
3) Van Gogh pictures (one in bathroom and one in bedroom)
4) Van Gogh tile (in kitchen)
5) Collection of Van Gogh books

I read Van Gogh's Chair blog...waiting for the book to come out.

I subscribe to Holland.com in case I get to go to the Van Gogh Museum someday.

First Valentine's day I ever spent with my husband, he gave me a bottle of Van Gogh Vodka (raspberry) which I thought was sweet.

So when I saw this, I knew they had suckered me in again:

1001 Book Update - Like Water for Chocolate

Interestingly enough, I picked up Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel at the library book sale and did not realize that it was on the 1001 list. Good thing though, because I just finished it and really enjoyed it. It's quite a book though so I'll try and do it justice.

The story takes place in Mexico during the turn of the 20th Century. Mexico at the time is going through a revolutionary period but this book is not a historical fiction. It's about love, family, and being true to yourself. The De la Garza family is ruled with an iron thumb by Mama Elena. She gives birth to her youngest of three daughters, Tita, who is the heroine of the story. Mama Elena decrees that since Tita is the youngest daughter, she is destined to take care of Mama Elena (and only that) until her mother dies. This becomes a problem for Tita when the love of her life, Pedro, wants to marry her. Instead, Mama Elena forbids Tita to marry and gives her other daughter Rosura to Pedro. Well, you can see where this is going. Eventually Tita has to realize how she has to take control of her life. Her destiney is in her hands, not Mama Elena's.

But what's interesting about this book is how it's written. The book has 12 chapters and each chapter is a month which starts at January and ends at December. At the beginning of each chapter is a recipe, for Tita is an amazing cook, and her preparing each meal playes an important part of the story. Most of these recipes aren't really ones I wouldn't be able to fix myself (oxtail, pheasants, etc.) but make the story very sensual.

Like Water for Chocolate is a perfect example of magical realism and is more accessable, at least to me, than One Hundred Years of Solitude. While I really enjoyed this book, I think I like my magical overtones to be a little less subduded in books. The un-reality of it all is sometimes a bit too much in this book. But that's my opinion.

I do really want to see the movie now since I read that Laura Esquivel also wrote the screenplay. And I want to see how the magical realism transfers to the big screen.

Have you read the book and/or seen the movie? What do you think?

Also reviewed by:

A Bookish Way of Life
Medieval Bookworm
Trish's Reading Nook
The Things We Read
The Biblio Brat

Sunday, September 14, 2008

And the Winners Are...

Thanks everyone for entering my contest! Sorry I am a day late picking the winners but without much ado...

Their Eyes Were Watching God




The Light of day


The Diana Chronicles


I've got a new email address just for this blog so please email me your address at:

nycbookgirl (at) gmail (dot) com

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Steppe and Other Stories - Anton Checkov

I found out about Blog a Penguin Classic and signed up. It was pretty cool. If you agree to read and then post a review on the book, Penguin would send a random classic to you. It's pretty scary since some of them are pretty intense. I was lucky and got a The Steppe and Other Stories, 1887-1891 by Anton Checkov. I've been wanting to read more of the Russian classic authors so this was great!

And I LOVED them. After trying to read Saul Bellow's Humboldt's Gift (my husband's Penguin pick) and repeatedly falling asleep on the subway, I switched to Checkov's stories and just loved them.

Here's a brief synopsis of the stories that are included:

The Steppe - a story of a young boy's trip through the steppe in Russia on his way to school. I loved this one because Checkov depicted the steppe as though it was a character in of itself. The people, the weather, the landscape all beautifully arrayed. And it's through this first story that I found that Checkov could depict any character, man or woman, at any age.

Panpipes - a short story, my least favorite, just a discussion between a shepherd and a bailiff

The Kiss - a story of a soldier who happens to get kissed and all the thought and emotions that go along with that. It's pretty funny actually. And I love the preface that mentions that when Checkov wrote the story, he sent it to a military commander to make sure his details of military formation and life were correct. The officer had a hard time believing the story wasn't written by someone in the military it was so believable.

Verochka - a bittersweet story of a young student and the daughter of the man he's working with

The Name-day Party - one of my favorite stories about a husband and wife who face some of their problems during a party at their house

A Dreary Story -
a story of an old man who contemplates his life and the world. This one was my favorite. I wanted to highlight almost everything and it was so funny and poignant. The old man could be an old man today and it all be the same.

Gusev - a story of a young man dying aboard a military ship in the ocean. The end is so powerfully depicted you just have to read it.

The Duel - a story of a man and woman living in adultery together. She leaves her husband and lives with her lover in a small town and end up falling apart. It's really a good story which ends with a duel which changes the lives of everyone involved.

Besides Panpipes, each story I read I like more then the previous . The Steppe and The Duel are the longest so if you want to check out a shorter one of his stories I'd pick one of the others first to see how you like it.

I guess I loved these stories because Checkov was young when he wrote these...in his twenties and thirties. His writing is gorgeous, accessible, and I even forgot that I was reading someone who lived two centuries from ours

Friday, September 12, 2008

NYC - Scary?

I think my mom and sister worry sometimes that NYC might be unsafe. I mean I guess NYC is known sometimes for pick pockets, apartment break-ins, etc. But really, I don't feel unsafe.

Wait. That's not true.

These things scare me:
Well not the orange cone thing exactly but the idea that every once in a while (a lot actually) pressure needs to be released. Or something like this happens. I remember it happening last year! And that wasn't the first (or last) time that will happen. Scary huh?

Ok, but in a city of millions what's the odds?

A few months ago my husband took the dogs out for their morning walk and I was eating breakfast in the kitchen when I heard a loud BANG. I assumed it was someone tossing something heavy into one of those huge garbage bins. I kept eating and reading until I noticed red flashing lights. "Uh oh" I thought. But a few minutes later my husband comes back with the dogs.

Apparently a manhole on our street blew from a steam explosion and took out the back end of a car that was near it and then hit the apartment next to ours and chipped some brick. This was just a minute or so after my husband and the pups had walked by. I was so relieved they were ok. What's the odds???

And that's on top of the whole dog electrocution thing with manholes. Maybe it was a small dog you say? People could get electrocuted too!

So mom, sis...I think I can take care of myself. But these people...get your act together. Please.

An Island In Alaska

A little while ago, I was asked to post some Alaska related stuff. I'm not from Alaska but I did live there during my four years in high school in Fairbanks and then later after college in Anchorage. So I'm going to post a huge flash-back for me...back to 1995. Scary!

Our family had just moved to Alaska and my brother and I were privileged to be asked to go to a little island community called Kaktovik on Barter Island which is in the Beufort Sea (in the Arctic Ocean) just North of the mainland of Alaska. Here's a map for reference:
The people there are native Inupiat and some of the nicest, gracious people I have met. We were just there for a couple days doing a vacation Bible school with the kids but we had quite the experience.

As we were flying up we saw the Brooks Range and a whole herd of musk ox (from the pilot that's pretty rare to see). Here's the island from the air from our little plane before we descended:
As you can tell...that far North there are no trees. The kids said that the things they liked when they went down to Fairbanks (a huge city to them) were the trees, automatic doors, large stores and Nike (I'm guessing Foot Locker?). I swear walking around, with no trees and just the big sky I could feel the curvature of the earth. It was pretty cool.

They were so friendly. When we landed tons of kids rushed out to meet us on the runway. They pulled up on bikes and everything! It was...I think August and we were freezing. They were wearing T-shirts. But they took us everywhere. We toured the town, the school, drove by a DEW site (I don't think it was an active site), and even got to dip our toes in the Arctic Ocean...it was beyond freezing. I think I saw a tiny iceberg in the distance...not kidding.
We even got to tour around the beach where they dice up the whales they catch. Believe me they use every scrap of meat and it's a big staple of their diet. I believe they are allowed to hunt three whales a year which feeds their entire village. I even remember asking one boy a common question "What do you want to do when you grow up?" And he just looked at me like I was daft and said "Be a whale hunter" like that was the most obvious answer and I should have known that.

Side note: A few months later I actually was able to try a piece of muktuk. It was a square half white half black...blubber and skin. Honestly I think it's an acquired taste.

I found this interesting article you can check out for more whaling info.

Here's my brother and I near some whale bones on the beach:
They have to keep the village pretty far from where they pull in the whale because predators will roam that area. Polar bears are a big deal there and when the kids walk to school there's usually a person on "polar bear" watch with a gun. Scary, huh?

But the trip went well, we had a lot of fun, and we didn't see any polar bears.

Things I remember:

1) No plumbing then (they do now, I believe) so their toilets were called "honey pots". Basically a trash can type of thing with a seat and you bagged it up and put it on the "curb" for pick-up like trash. Weird.

2) They have the most gorgeous school I have ever seen.

3) The kids are learning to speak Inupiaq from their grandparents. There were two girls with the same name so one went by her Inupiaq name. Very cool.

We did ask the kids to put on their winter coats because they were just too cute. What do you think?
Hope you enjoyed the Alaska story!


Additional links:

Polar Bear in Kaktovik
Kaktovik housing
Kaktovik students