Thursday, May 29, 2014

Culling eBooks is SO Much Easier Than Print Books

Why?  Because I don't really get rid of them.  I remove them from my device, but they're still mine.  They exist on the "cloud". Whether it's the Apple Cloud for my iBooks, or the ones for Kindle or Kobo, they are still there.

When I first got my iPad (as an awesome gift from my husband), the first thing I did was get the iBooks app and start downloading all the free classics that I've always wanted to read.  For the classics I couldn't find, I downloaded the Kindle and Kobo apps and started searching.  I just HAD to have them.  I spent a lot of time doing this.  Then, I became a searcher for Kindle and Kobo book deals.  I downloaded a lot of free books that I still haven't read.  I also found it difficult to resist ebooks deals, especially on books that I had my eye on previously.  Soon, about 1/3 of the memory on my iPad was books.  Eventually this became a problem.

I realized that most (not quite all) books I had in my eReading apps would be saved to a cloud.  First, I only deleted books I'd read from my device.  Then as my memory problem worsened, I deleted the books that I knew I wasn't likely to read soon.  It was so easy.  I just had to pay attention to whether the book would be saved on the cloud or not, because there are a few, for whatever reason, that will not save to the cloud; if I delete them, they will be gone forever.  I also don't typically delete books that I've paid money for.  Two reasons: I feel like if I've paid for them, I might read them soon and don't want to wait for the downloading; and because I've paid money for them, I don't want to risk them getting lost, though I know logically that it won't happen.

Print books don't have a cloud.  If I get rid of them, I can't easily get them back if I suddenly decide I want to read them.  If I get rid of a print book, I have to be sure that I will not ever want to grab a hold of it again. There can't be even a remote possibility of me wanting to read it again.  Though my bookshelves are [severely] overcrowded, I can get more shelves for much less than an iPad with a bigger memory.  Also, print books are so much prettier to look at.  I don't see my eBookshelves unless I open the app, then I only see the books that belong to the specific app AND I have to scroll through them instead of just stepping back and staring.  I very much enjoy have both ebooks and print books, I think I will always enjoy having both. Culling eBooks is just easier.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Clockwork Prince

Cassandra Clare delivers a fast-paced, action packed story with the second book in The Infernal Devices series. Clockwork Prince had everything I expected from Clare. There were secrets, surprises, love, hatred, confusion and vendettas. I'm still enjoying the lives of great-great (etc.) grandparents of characters in The Mortal Instruments. Also, I continue to enjoy Magnus Bane.

Clare knows how to create an intense plot. Everyone keeps moving. Even moments of rest for the characters have something else going on, thoughts and feelings they can't control. I really enjoy Will Herondale. I like that, for a moment, we are reminded that he is just 17 and that the bad thing that happened to him, occurred when he was 12. I think Tessa has so much possibility, I'm eager to see what will happen to her in Clockwork Princess.

I'm not 100% happy with Jem's emotional outburst at the end, the one with Tessa.  I don't want to reveal anything to anyone who hasn't read it yet, but I'm just not sure I liked it.  It was a lot coming from a usually reserved character.  I get that it was suppressed emotion finally bubbling up to the surface, but I still don't know if I'm happy with it.  Poor Jem, though.  I feel like I'm going to spend a large part of the next novel waiting for him to die.  

I know Clare plans on writing other series set after The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices.  I know not everyone may like that, but I read series with 15+ books in them.  As long as I'm enjoying the stories, I'll keep reading about Shadowhunters.  I wonder how far Clare can stretch their world.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

The cover for Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children is difficult to resist. Reading the synopsis and looking at a couple pictures makes it even more enticing. Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children was an exciting read. I don't know why I waited so long. It was a story I could barely put down. The first line was a great hook, "I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen."

The pictures were an interesting, unique addition to the story. I know people love the pictures and I thought they were great, but they didn't make the story for me. I think I would have enjoyed the story as much without the photos. Author Ransom Riggs writes well. I had no problem picturing Emma or Olive after they were described. The vintage photos were interesting though, especially knowing they were real photographs from peoples' private collections. I appreciated Riggs acknowledging everyone at the end of the book.

I really liked all of the characters, Jacob, Emma, the villain. They made the story for me. I liked getting to know Jacob's father, but I would have liked to get to know his mother too. He makes some pretty big decisions without his parents for being just 16. Why was his life so miserable? Why did he have just one friend? Was it just because of his grandfather's influence. I understand the author making him into an outsider, for the various plot reasons, but what I wanted to feel more was why. Maybe with some more information about his relationship with his mother... in Hollow City perhaps... I will understand Jacob's decisions more. That being said, the plot was great.  I loved the twists and turns. There were so many unexpected little quirks. The end was mysterious.  I'm looking forward to Hollow City.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Generation X

Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture has been a book I've been wanting to read for years. Even if you don't think it represents all of Generation X (and I don't think it does), it popularized the term. For that alone, I think it is an important book. I've read several of Douglas Coupland's other novels and enjoyed them all. I could have chosen a different Coupland book that I own and haven't read, but Generation X had been waiting too long.

If Generation X was the book of Gen X, then the television show of Gen X was Friends. Though there are only three members of Generation X's group of friends, I found the characters similar, though not the same. Claire very much reminded me of Rachel, but Claire had a certain aloofness that I appreciated. Early on in the novel, I felt like the entire book had been written with a sense of irony. The tone is very similar to the early seasons of Friends. Generation X is not a comedy, but I feel like if you were a fan of the show, you'd like the book.

I found the characters intriguing and I'm a sucker for good characters. Claire made some interesting life choices. Dag did too. Andy was a great narrator. I enjoyed the way he explained things about Dag, Claire, and his life through story. I really liked that the characters told stories to each other. What I found Generation X didn't have was a tangible plot. I don't know if it needed one, but I've been reading a lot of plot heavy books lately and with this book not having one, initially I missed it. Stuff happens in the novel, with personal and familial relationships, jobs, life choices. They just aren't related a clear way. The characters have no goal, no mystery to solve or treasure to find.

One part early on that I found funny and ironic, in a non-intentional sort of way, was when Andy was talking about communicating in short blurbs.... If only these guys knew about Twitter and other social media! I don't know what Andy would think of 140 characters or less. In some ways, I can relate to these characters, but since this book is so 90s, it's almost a period piece. Does that make sense?

Will Generation X be a modern classic? I don't know, but I think it might be. I'm not sure what else I can say about this novel. It made me think a lot. I like to think sometimes. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Spin Spun

...and the number is 1!!

Which means I will be reading Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood.

I'm excited and nervous.  I love Atwood and Alias Grace is one of her most famous novels.  I think the main reason I haven't read it yet is that it is a big book.  I tend to delay reading big books.  I want to read ALL the books, and big ones take longer.  The Classics Club Spin is just the push I need to cross this big book off my list. Hopefully, my post on Alias Grace will be up on July 7th!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Fiction Writer's Handbook

This post has been sitting in my drafts for ages.  I don't know why I didn't get around to finishing it.  I guess I just wasn't sure what to say. I didn't know what to expect when I won The Fiction Writer's Handbook from Goodreads.  I was very excited.  There's a forward by Christopher Moore, followed by some interested instructions for how to use this book.  The Fiction Writer's Handbook isn't necessarily a book you're going to read from start to finish. Though Moore and author Shelly Lowenkopf do recommend that you read the whole book. It's structured more like a reference book, but after reading several entries, I can see what they mean.

I thought that I'd try to read the book from the beginning, but it didn't feel right.  My next thought was to begin my journey through the book with an entry that had already jumped out at me.  I started with Agenda. Agenda referenced 18 more entries.  With that kind of start, I figure by the time I was done, I would have read the whole book or at least close to it.  I started with the first reference term, Character, read it, then instead of going back to the next term mentioned in Agenda, I went to Narrative, the first term referenced in Character.  So many terms are referenced in each entry that after a while, I knew I couldn't keep reading it like this.

In the end, I'm treating it like a reference book.  If I want to know something or am stuck somewhere, I can pick it up. I can also pick it up and browse a few terms if I'm feeling stuck. Moore's introduction was definitely worth the read.  I think one day I might read it from beginning to end.  The descriptions of each term are in depth and interesting.  I keep it nearby when writing as I think it is helpful.  To read it like I would another book, I just can't do it.  If you are a writer or interested in writing, however, I do think this is a great book to have in your reference collection.  

Friday, May 09, 2014

Popular Authors I've Never Read

When I tell people I love reading, many (usually the ones who don't read very much or at all) assume I read the "bestsellers" or the very popular authors that even non-readers know of (usually through their books being made into movies).  My usual response is something like, I've heard her/his books are good. I'd like to read them at some point, I'll get to them one day, etc. ,whether it is my actual intention to "get to them" or not.

I thought I'd compile a short list of authors that are popular, who I'm frequently asked if I've read.  

1. John Grisham - I keep thinking I aught to read him.  He has written so much, I wouldn't know where to start. I'm also not sure his stuff is for me.
2. E.L. James - and I won't.  Ever.
3. Nicolas Sparks - I probably won't ever read him either.  For more than one reason.
4. George R.R. Martin - I aught to read him. It seems like he writes stuff I'd like to read, but the books are just... so... big!
5. John Green - see #1
6. James Patterson - see #1
7. Mary Higgins Clark - see #1

The same goes for classics. I've never read:

8. Fyodor Dostoyevsky - So intimidating.
9. Anne Brontë - Though I've read both Emily and Charlotte.

I also haven't read some of the really popular current authors like:

10. Gillian Flynn - I feel like there's too much hype for me to be objective.
11. Rainbow Rowell - I really want to read Attachments.  Of all her books, the story appeals to me the most, though I know Eleanor and Park is being made into a movie.

I think the above eleven are enough.  Which popular authors have you never read?  Why? 

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Another Classics Spin

I couldn't resist another Classics Club spin. I was so happy about my last selection. I hope that this one is just as enjoyable. If you want to join in, posts up by May 12. Books are supposed to be read by July 7, but it's okay if they aren't. I've had a late book... 

I've decided to continue splitting up my list the same way as I've done for the previous spins. I've kept a lot of the same titles as last time with just a few changes. 

1. Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood
2. Appointment with Death, by Agatha Christie
3. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
4. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë

Short Stories / Novellas
5. Sherlock Holmes: A Study In Scarlett, by Arthur Conan Doyle
6. The Big and The Little, by Isaac Asimov
7. Dracula's Guest, by Bram Stoker
8. Under the Knife, by H.G. Wells

Poetry / Theatre
9. Lady Lazarus, by Sylvia Plath
10. Queen Mab, by Percy Bysshe Shelley
11. Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmund Rostand
12. Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller

Children’s / Young Adult / Juvenilia
13. Tales of Angria, by Charlotte Brontë
14. Tales from Hans Christian Andersen, by Hans Christian Andersen
15. The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
16. The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter

17. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
18. The Stone Angel, by Margaret Laurence
19. Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
20. Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain

What are you looking forward to? What are you dreading?

Macaroni, Cheese & Spinach Cups

Really, this recipe needs a new name.  But it's an accurate description of what I made.  I've made it a few times and it gets tastier with each batch.  I was inspired by a recipe I saw on Pinterest (yes, I make things I find on Pinterest), so I want to definitely credit the original recipe.  The original is healthy. Me? I think I'm kind of half way.  I used 2% milk.  I used regular cheddar and old cheddar (Mmm...)  I also add a dash of nutmeg and two dashes of cayenne.  I also used rotini instead of macaroni, mostly that's because of what I had on hand... and I think rotini is fun.  I should try it with macaroni and see if it makes difference.  I also used fresh spinach. - Honestly, I always forget to thaw frozen spinach before I'm ready to make something. Then I have to do a "quick thaw" under the tap.  Then it's too soggy and I get too much water in my recipe. In general, using fresh spinach is easier for me.

The adults who ate it had lots of compliments.  The children looked at me like, what the f* is this?  It's the green.  It doesn't matter what you do, if they see that wilty green, they don't want it.  You can't even really taste it.  Most of the time I throw spinach in stuff for the health benefits.  I'm not a fan of cooked, straight up spinach either.  In the cups, you mostly taste the cheese and garlic.  Since I love cheese and garlic, that's awesome.

In pictures, here's what happened:

I got out my muffin tin and sprayed it with cooking spray.

I chopped some spinach.

I made the sauce.  I made sure to whisk in the milk gradually, so I wouldn't get any lumps.

Mixed in the spinach.

Mixed in the pasta that I had to wait a few minutes for. Now, I will remember to set the pasta to boil before I start.  I forgot until after I had chopped the spinach and had to wait.  Ugh.

Into the pan it goes. The above picture is actually after it has been in the oven for 13 minutes.

There are two Cups on a plate.

I'm not sure how copyright works with recipes.  I like blogging about food, but I don't know if I can type out the whole recipe without getting in trouble... even though I made some changes: adding nutmeg and cayenne, using 2% milk, using fresh spinach.  I linked to my source; what else can I do?

Also, all these photos were taken with my iPhone. I don't know what it is about my kitchen. The photos always seem to have a yellowish tinge to them.

I'm looking at these pictures and I'm hungry.  I hope my kids learn to like this recipe, because it is a hit with the adults.

Monday, May 05, 2014

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

I finally got to see Catching Fire this weekend.  I tried to see it in theatres, but that was a very busy time for me and it just didn't happen. There was just never any time. I don't know when my life became so busy!  I'm sorry I didn't see it sooner.

I don't know if I've ever been happier with a book adaptation. Though there were a few bits and pieces missing from Catching Fire, the movie captured the spirit of the book. As we were watching it, my Hubby called it a stressful movie. The tension that I loved in the book was playing out on screen. I was glad that we watched it together and I could hear his comments as someone who had not read the books and was seeing the story unfold for the first time.  

I love Finnick and Johanna.  I loved them in the book.  They were fantastic on screen.  I think the casting was perfect.  I was so happy that they kept Johanna stripping in the elevator.  I think it's fun and some needed relief when so much death and craziness is happening.  

I'm know I'm late to the Catching Fire movie party, so I don't think I'll add anything else... except for a bunch of movie posters.  In general, I enjoy movie posters, but the ones for Catching Fire I found very "Capitol".  One more thing, I forgot that they were splitting Mockingjay into two movies. Apparently this is a thing now.  So, I'm exciting for November 2014 and November 2015 and hopefully my life won't be as busy and I'll get to watch the movies in the theatre.

Friday, May 02, 2014

My Basil Plant

This is my new basil plant. I saw it at the grocery store, sitting among the fruit and vegetables.  I've always wanted to grow my own fresh herbs and the plants were one sale, so I bought it. Then it sat. For over a week. I didn't use it for anything. I started to wonder how I would ever use it. Now I've used it twice.  Once to add a little flavour to a sandwich.  Mozzarella, chicken and spinach, with a little fresh basil.  I was pleased with myself.  Then, I used it for a bocconcini and tomato salad.  Yum.  I also made my own balsamic vinaigrette.  It came out great.  

Maybe I'll get more plants!