Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Just Stuff

Well my husband and I finally made it to colorful Colorado and I'm currently typing away at my mom's home.  I have tons of photos to share from the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky (yes, we hit them all) to the St. Louis arch, and yummy BBQ in Kansas City.  But since I just have a few minutes to gulp my coffee down and check my email before we run and do errands, I thought I'd share a couple fun literary things I found. 

While I was reading the Shelf Awareness email, I found the longlist for the Man Booker Prize. 

Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey
Room by Emma Donoghue
The Betrayal by Helen Dunmore
In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut
The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
The Long Song by Andrea Levy
C by Tom McCarthy
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
February by Lisa Moore
Skippy Dies by Paul Murray
Trespass by Rose Tremain
The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
The Stars in the Bright Sky by Alan Warner

Has anyone read any of these?  I'll be honest and say that the only one I've heard of is Peter Carey's novel Parrot and Olivier in America.  I've also read a previous book by Rose Tremain called The Colour (click the link to read my review).  While well written, I had problems with some of it but I've also read other great reviews of her novels. 

I also read in Shelf Awareness that since Eat Pray Love is about to be released in the theaters, a huge market has gone up for Eat Pray Love products - like perfume, home decor, etc.  What do you think about that?  I normally only see stuff for Twilight, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and such.  I've heard that while some people really enjoyed the book, others really couldn't get into it.  If you enjoyed it, would you buy themed products based on the book or movie?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Anna Bear - Must share

If you've been reading my blog for a while now you'll notice that my husband and I have two dogs.  Lil' Anna Bear was about six months old when I met Robb and a few years later I got Charlie Dog as a companion for Anna and he's my dog.  Well, he's probably more Anna's dog than mine, but you know.

A little while ago I had scanned a few photos of Robb and Anna a few months before I met them.  I had to share.

How absolutely adorable is that?

Anna is also a great swimmer. She just loves water.  Here's her first swim in the Colorado River:

Anna wasn't too happy when I showed up and she had to share Robb.  During one camping trip, she curled up on my legs and I was so excited that she was starting to warm up to me.  The next morning I found she has methodically pushed me little by little until I was halfway out of the tent.  I think she's finally gotten used to me though.  I'm the one who gives the pups treats.  Check out this older post for a video.  So yeah, treats and when Robb's out of town I secretly let her up on the couch with me. Don't tell!

For more Anna Bear photos, check out these past posts (or click on the AnnaBear tag):

Poor Anna

Raining Dogs
Anna is Being Sweet
Anna and Book
Anna in Alaska

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Viva Las Vegas

Well, I was going to wait and tell you all, but I thought why not just tell you now. A couple of weeks ago, I went and visited my family in Colorado and then flew out to Las Vegas to see a friend get married. Before I lived in New York, my husband and I lived in Las Vegas for two years. Well, my husband saw some people he used to work with and they pretty much offered him a job.

 So after we came back to Kentucky, we thought long and hard. Las Vegas: husband has a job and UNLV has same program he wants to get into. Kentucky: no job and same University program. So it wasn't too hard for my husband to accept the job offer and we are off again. We decided to go with the U-haul's U-Box program so they are picking up our stuff tomorrow and we'll be off.

 Sheesh. I know. I am pretty sick of packing and moving myself, but this is going to be a good move. My husband has a job, I have a good opportunity to find a job, he still gets to go back to school, and we have some friends in the area.

Here's a photo from that Vegas trip a few weeks back of me and my friend. I was so excited that they finally put a parking area around this sign so people aren't darting into traffic to take a photo any more.

Thankfully I didn't change my blog title to a New Kentuckian!  By the way, I will still miss the lovely Kentucky side and will post some more Kentucky photos, but until then, we are on our way to Las Vegas!


I'm also making a side tour to visit Colorado family again AND a trip to Fairbanks, Alaska in early August for a wedding.  I will definitely take photos in the Rocky Mountains and the Land of the Midnight Sun and share with you all.  Hasta luego!

A Kentucky Stroll

A little while ago my husband, the dogs, and I went on a little walk around our house.  We found a nice 3 mile loop that we enjoy.

I decided to grab my camera on one of the walks and share some of the photos:

I love the flowers around here:

I see these all the time:

Here's Charlie on the walk:

I just love the wide open space with beautiful clouds:


I have no clue what these trees are but aren't they cool? (Thank you Lauri W - these are mimosa trees!)

Kentucky also has some beautiful sunsets:

Hope you enjoyed some Kentucky photos!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Did Not Could Not Finish

You know those moments when you realize that a book is just wasting your time?  You start imagining all the other amazing things that are going on in the piles of unread books sitting on your desk, nightstand, bookshelf, etc?  Well, I had one of those moments.  Without further Did Not Could Not Finish books.

Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater (Audio Book)

I should have known.  I mean, I read most of the Twilight series but really couldn't care about how it ended. So that should have told me right there.  Shiver is another YA girl in love with a werewolf kind of thing, but I read so many good reviews and, well, just look at the cover...gorgeous!!  BUT.  Maybe it was because it was an audio version and the writing seemed, well juvenile (I know it's a YA but still).  I think Maggie took writing lessons a' la Stephenie Meyer.  For example, when Sam started thinking about Grace and then thought of a poem and the guitar riff that would accompany it, well, I just had to snicker.  Also, in the audio version, Sam, voiced by a guy, does impersonations of Grace that just makes me wince.  Then there's Grace's bizarre romantic thoughts about a wolf.  I mean, isn't that illegal in most States if not all?  I just got to a certain point and realized I was wasting my time.  I'm sorry Maggie Stiefvater, you have tons of fans but I'll just pass on this one.

Into the Wilderness - Sara Donati

I had so high hopes for this one but I should have known when I checked it out at the library and the book is seriously around 900 pages long.  Um, really?  I have been reading on my iPod touch the classic story The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper.  One of my favorite movies is The Last of the Mohicans so I've been slowly reading this 19th Century classic.  When I heard Into the Wilderness was about the main characters' son and his tale, I thought this was a must-read.  I love this period in American history and wanted to love this book.  I will admit the writing is not bad.  But the main problem? The length!  I got to page 391 when I realized that had this been an average sized book, I would have finished it by now.  It was starting to get old reading about the same things over and over and over.  I mean, how many times can the spinster 29 year old who falls in love with the main hero wonder how anyone finds her attractive at her age and how she is so unversed in the going ons between two people in love.   Blah.  So sorry Sara Donati, maybe when you come out with an abridged version I'll check back with you.

***What are your Did Not Could Not Finish books?

31 Bond Street - Ellen Horan

Book: 31 Bond Street
Author: Ellen Horan
Hardback: 368 Pages
Publisher: Harpercollins
Published Date: 3-30-2010

Awhile back I was asked to join the TLC Book Tour for 31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan: A Novel of Murder, Innocence, and Power in New York City.  I love historical fiction and I have a specific fondness for the 19th Century so I thought why not?  I'm not sure if it's was because recently I've been Netflixing the series Bones (forensic anthropology helps solve murders) or what, but I totally absorbed this book in just a couple of days.

Here's the story:

The setting is 1857 in New York City.  A real crime happened: a dentist, Dr. Burdell, was found gruesomely murdered in his home. The main suspect is a young widowed lady, Emma Cunningham, with a couple of daughters who lives with him (as a tenant) and claims to be his wife.  Suspicion is out whether or not they were married and if she murdered him.  A brilliant defense attorney, Henry Clinton, puts his career at stake defending her of this crime.

I thought this story was absolutely fascinating.  The story is told from various perspectives, mainly flipping from Henry Clinton's point of view as the trial proceeds, to Emma Cunnigham's view as she meets the Dr. Burdell and the events leading up to his death.  Sometimes I can figure out in a crime book who the culprit was, but in this case I had absolutely no clue.  Since this was a real life murder, I also refrained from looking it up on Wikipedia as I sometimes end up doing.  I know Ellen Horan had to employ creative license while writing the fictional parts but I thought she did a fabulous job doing a "what if" to this real life crime story.

I just have to mention that I loved the book's setting in NewYork City.  In her acknowledgements and explanations at the end of the book, she mentions that New York City was definitely a character in the book.  I loved seeing the city from this historic perspective - before the high rises, before the Civil War and abolition of slavery, and before women's rights.  Even the forensics I thought was interesting, like how they knew back then it had to be a left handed person.  I especially thought it was bizarre when they mentioned that the crime scene was painted, not photographed.  This was before photography was used in a crime scene.  I just thought she did a wonderful job bringing this era and old New York City to life.

I visited the website for 31 Bond Street and found this cool book trailer:

Ellen Horan previously worked as a freelance photo editor for magazines and books in New York City. She has a background in painting and visual art. 31 Bond Street is her first novel.
Connect with Ellen:
On her Website

Ellen Horan’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Tuesday, July 6th:  Word Lily
Wednesday, July 7th:  Rundpinne
Thursday, July 8th:  Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Monday, July 12th:  Simply Stacie
Tuesday, July 13th:  Novel Whore
Wednesday, July 14th:  Ask Miss A
Monday, July 19th:  The 3 R’s Blog
Tuesday, July 20th:  Scraps of Life
Wednesday, July 21st:  A Few More Pages
Thursday, July 22nd:  Novel Whore- Gabriella
Friday, July 23rd:  Starting Fresh
Monday, July 26th:  Caribousmom
Tuesday, July 27th:  The Tome Traveller
Wednesday, July 28th:  Jo-Jo Loves to Read!!!
Thursday, July 29th:  Bibliofreak
Monday, August 2nd:  A Bookworm’s World
Tuesday, August 3rd:  Jen’s Book Thoughts

Also Reviewed by:

A Bookish Way of Life
Hist-Fic Chick - Author Interview

Friday, July 9, 2010

Paris in July

Book Bath and Thyme for Tea are doing a really cool bloggy thing called Paris in July.  The are celebrating all things Parisian and French.  In their own words:

We are two friends with a deep interest and love of French culture and way of life - although we experience and demonstrate this passion in very different ways. Karen has only recently discovered the magic of Paris - the city, the architecture, the fashion and the literature whereas the French experience has been a part of Tamara's life for a long time, leading her to learn the language and experience the culture in a deeper way. But for both of us as Australian's, the reality of traveling to France is a costly and timely experience - so we need to find ways of bringing France to us!

There will be no rules or targets in terms of how much you need to do or complete in order to be a part of Paris In July - just blog about anything French and you can join in. Some ideas for the month might include;

- Reading a French book - fiction or non-fiction

- Watching a French movie

- Listening to French music

- Cooking French food

- Experiencing French art, architecture or travel

How cool is this?  I was perusing my next audio book when I saw a collection entitled Paris Stories by Mavis Gallant.  

How gorgeous was Mavis Gallant:

I just popped on my headphones and while I'm listening to this book, I thought I'd share a few photos from my trip to Paris back when I was a young college undergrad.  Enjoy!

I guess with any good Parisian story, I should start with the Eiffel Tower.  I have to say I was pretty awed by the sheer size and structural beauty.

Isn't it awe inspiring?

We didn't take the elevator but walked the entire way up.  If any of you are afraid of heights, just beware.

Or just look up instead of down:

Or just concentrate on the beautiful views of the city:

I loved the view of Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur. The Hotel Perfect were we stayed was near there.

Speaking of the Sacre Coeur, here is a good picture of the front.

While I was looking up at the Sacre Coeur, I found this little guy above me:
If you are in front of the Sacre Coeur, you also have a beautiful view of the city.  You also might watch a street performer as we were doing.

I have to admit that Montmartre was my favorite part of the city.  I loved this metro station's beautiful art nouveau sign:

In Montmartre, there are tons of stalls that sell art work and I popped into this cute little shop:

In Montmartre, I also found this iconic place.  Believe me, the area is not as glamorous and much more shady than I thought it would be.

Our hotel was near this cool church.  I snapped a photo of it's reflection in the cafe window across the street.  I totally understand now why French cafes all have though chairs.  They are everywhere in Paris.

On of my absolute favorite buildings is the Paris Opera House.  We walked by it nearly every day.  Isn't it gorgeous!  When I was in high school I read and loved Gaston Leroux novel The Phantom of the Opera so I was so excited to see this building.

Here I am with a friend, all grins, outside the Opera house:

This is the view of the Opera house from the side street.  I loved these lamp posts.

I was just a poor college kid though, so I didn't get to tour the building. I did get to pop into the entrance to snap this horribly dark photo. 

If you go to Paris, the Louvre is a must-see.  Isn't the courtyard gorgeous?  Some people thing the pyramid entrance is ugly but I don't mind.

I have to say that I thought this archway (the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel) at the Louvre was a bit more appealing though.  What are your thoughts?

Here's the view from inside the pyramid entrance looking out.

I loved the Louvre:

I was very hesitant to take any photos inside but I did snap a couple (without flash of course).  I loved the grace of this Cupid and Psyche 

I really liked Delaroche's The Young Martyr.  It's pretty dark but go check out the link for a better version.

Another must-see is the Notre Dame:

I'll admit that while I was awed by the size of the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame seemed smaller than I was expecting.  But I was still dazzled by the beautiful architecture.

Of course I had to snap a photo of the gargoyles.  I think gargoyles are awesome with their funny smiles.

I got to tour around the inside but remember that it's a place of worship.  I did snap this photo of the stained glass from the inside (without flash of course). I was pretty ashamed that many other tourists weren't as polite.

On of my favorite things about big European cities are the waterways.  For some reason, I can navigate a city better when there is a river dividing it.  Here's a photo of the Seine.

And another one from the top of a tourist bus.  A good tip when touring cities like Paris, you can hop on and off of the tourist buses and you usually have a 24 hour pass.  Much easier than figuring out public transportation sometimes:

It's also a great way to see other parts of the city.  I absolutely loved the architecture in Paris.

The Arch de Triomphe.  I couldn't figure out how to get to it.  This was taken from the bus.  It's on an island inside a huge round-a-bout.

I just thought this was a cool literary sign.

I don't remember where this one was at but thought the slight view of Rodin's famous sculpture, The Thinker was pretty funny.  Wow, I totally thought this was a copy of the original, but looking at Wikipedia, I'm not too sure.  This was probably the Musee de Rodin.  Wow.

I wondered what building this was. Does anyone know?

I snagged a photo of the Pantheon with is near the gardens.

I remember it was by the Luxembourg Gardens. I found it amazing that in all the parks I saw in Paris, you couldn't go near the grass.

But there were some awesome fountains like this Medici Fountain.  Yep, built by those Medici's - Marie de Medici, widow of King Henry IV. I'm not sure what the green dinosaur thing is though.

I also saw this little guy and thought he looked sprightly with the Pantheon in the back.

This was one of my favorite photos.  This is one of Cleopatra's needles (the others in London and New York).  It is located at the Place de la Concorde which was also the site where they think during the Reign of Terror, they did the beheadings.  It's much to pretty to have such a gruesome historic past:
I think one of my favorite parts of Paris, though, was just the hustle and bustle of the city.

I swear I saw so many people riding bikes and everyone ate baguettes.  I swear I've never had so much bread in my life.  I also loved their coffee (ahem, I mean cafe du lait).

Well, I hope you enjoyed my brief tour of Paris! I definitely want to go back for a longer stay and see more of the French countryside,  especially now that I now more about French history.