Friday, February 26, 2010

Haunted House!

'The House on Tradd Street'
By Karen White

Format: Paperback
Published: 2008; NAL Trade
Pages: 352

Synopsis: Buttoned-up real estate agent Melanie Middleton, lover of order and all things modern, inherits an old house in Charleston, S.C., from a virtual stranger. Melanie can't help seeing the house as a big white elephant, especially regarding the terms; according to the will, Melanie's required to live in the house for a year, restoring it to its former glory, before she can sell so much as a piece of china. But as the house draws the attention (and ulterior motives) of a colorful group of locals, particularly GQ-handsome journalist Jack Trenholm, Melanie finds she has plenty of volunteers to help out.

My Take: I am not someone who picks up books with a ghost theme if I can help it, but after hearing great review after great review in the blogosphere I just couldn't resist! The rest of the elements are what really tempted me. I am a sucker for any book set in the South. I don't know what it is. I think it's because my first, real adult book was 'Gone with the Wind' but ever since then, if a book is set somewhere in the South, I'll probably want to read it. Then it had the element of architecture. I've always dreamed of restoring a grand old house. One of the reasons I love San Francisco is the great old architecture. The main character, Melanie, gets to do just that, however, begrudgingly at first!

Melanie was a pretty easy main character to relate to I thought. She had a tough childhood and it made her have a bit of a hard edge. Her friends and the characters the came into her life because of the house were all entertaining and made for a great cast.

I know that the ghosts weren't really supposed to be scary but it really does take very little to scare me. While it wasn't like a keep me from sleeping kind of scared or haunt me kind of thing, when the ghost bits where coming I thought to myself, 'Oh no, not again!' but if you don't mind ghost stories or aren't easily scared you will find this book a cake walk.

The twist at the end was great! For those that haven't read it of course, sorry about this but for those that have read it, did everyone else see it coming? I knew that it had to be something like that for Louisa but I didn't guess that!

So, all in all a very entertaining read, made all the more enjoyable by the fact that I would never have heard of it had it not been for all my fine blogging friends! The only thing was, maybe it was my mood or the thousands of things I had going on, but it took me forever to get through! Oh well! And there's a sequal which I do look forward to reading: 'The Girl on Legare Street.'

( I got this book on

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why You Read

Today's Booking Through Thursday asks:

I’ve seen this quotation in several places lately. It’s from Sven Birkerts’ ‘The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age’:

“To read, when one does so of one’s own free will, is to make a volitional statement, to cast a vote; it is to posit an elsewhere and set off toward it. And like any traveling, reading is at once a movement and a comment of sorts about the place one has left. To open a book voluntarily is at some level to remark the insufficiency either of one’s life or one’s orientation toward it.”

To what extent does this describe you?

Well that's a statement! A bit accusatory towards readers if I do say so myself! So let me see if I understand this statement correctly: if I am reading, it's because something is lacking or insufficient in my life because the modern world offers so many other, and he is assuming, better pleasures? Uh, I think not!

I read because it relaxes me. I read because it takes me to other worlds, other lands, other people, other experiences, other histories, that I could never know without books. Yes movies are often made of them, but we all know that movies are never as good as the books (so there's strike one against Sven and his modern age)! I read because as a child it was a way to be constantly learning and going new places. I read as an adult because I am in front of a computer all day and when I come home I don't want to be. Does it need to be more complicated then that, Sven? I read because I love it, pure and simple.

Why do you read?

Book Club Exchange Guestpost!

Julie over at Booking Mama has been doing a wonderful series called Book Club Exchange and this week I am the guest blogger so go check out my post here and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

California Book Festivals

I'll admit it, I was licking my wounds because I couldn't go to Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention in May since they were all mid-week in New York. Basically it was just too expensive and too much time off of work for me to justify no matter what a great experience it would be for this wonderful new blogging world I've discovered. I am so looking forward to hearing about everyone's experiences though!

Then I thought, wait a minute, I should just do some research and see what California based events there are because I bet there are some that I don't even know about! It's a big state, I mean come on, right? And what do you know. I found quite a few.

Here's what I found. I am hoping to at least attend the ones in Northern and Central California if not more of them. Let me know if anyone knows of any others in California or if any of you are planning on attending as well!!

Obviously whatever I attend will be reported back here. Book events here we come!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I'm a Sucker for a Pretty Locale

Carrie over at Books and Movies has announced the 2010 Ireland Reading Challenge and while I am a little behind the bandwagon (it started Feb 1st), the reading level I am signing up for Luck o' the Irish Level, only requires that I read 4 books by November 30th. These books don't just have to be set in Ireland, they can also be any book written by an Irish author, or involving Irish history or Irish characters and be – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, audiobooks and children’s books. I love anything set in Ireland and I have lots of Irish authors on my shelves so while the thought of signing up for another challenge seemed daunting, this one seemed to good for me to pass up!

For those of you interested in the challenge, here are the details:

~ Join anytime. The challenge runs from February 1, 2010 to November 30, 2010.
~ Any books read for this challenge can also apply to other challenges you are working on.
~ Re-reads are allowed.
~ Any book written by an Irish author, set in Ireland, or involving Irish history or Irish characters, counts for the challenge – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, audiobooks, children’s books – all of these apply.
~ Choose your commitment level:

Shamrock level: 2 books
Luck o’ the Irish level: 4 books
Kiss the Blarney Stone level: 6 books

Anyone else doing this one? Wish me luck!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mailbox Monday - Feb. 15 - 20, 2010

It's Mailbox Monday time! Hosted by Marcia over at the Printed Page, Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!

This week from PBS I got:

1. 'What Was Lost' By Catherine O'Flynn

2. 'Falling for You' By Jill Mansell

What did you get?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Dating in the City

'I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti'
By Giulia Melucci

Format: Hardback
Published: 2009, Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 288

Synopsis: Melucci, a publicity executive, clearly knows her way around the cucina, and her clever memoir of being loved and left includes the recipes she associates with her exes. The recipes are mostly Italian, and the men are mostly losers, but listeners will have a good time laughing with Melucci at her various boyfriends' foibles (even as they wonder why such a smart and funny woman chooses the same type of childish man over and over). Melucci does a wonderful job narrating; her voice carries the listener through the first flush of new romance to the final indignities of a relationship gone wrong.

My Take: This was an interesting book to be reading over Valentine's Day. Yes, I am in a committed relationship but we aren't married so I am still in the dating game and before I met my current man I dated my fair share of losers so I related to Giulia. Her's was a tough book to read. It's like sitting with your girlfriends dissecting relationships - it's always easier to see others flaws. You just wanted to shake her as she dated loser after loser because it's one thing to date someone who treats you like crap for a couple of months but a few years later you start to wonder why she won't get out of these relationships.

Giulia has a lot going for her. She is smart, has a great job in publishing in New York and as we learn throughout this book, is a goddess in the kitchen, cooking up delicious Italian meal after meal for her dates. Any man would be lucky to have her! Yet they don't. This book takes you through an honest dose of reality of the modern dating scene and it was an interesting and entertaining read, however heartbreaking to read. By taking you through her dating life, framing the chapters from guy to guy, she tells us the story of her life. Each chapter is also interspersed with the delicious recipes she uses to woo her various men or get over them when the relationships end.

I hope Giulia does at some point find her prince and if she does not, can find the happiness within herself.

(I got this book from

Thursday, February 18, 2010

With Reverent Hands Guestpost and Enter Here for Giveaway!

Aarti over at Booklust has been doing a wonderful new series called "With Reverent Hands" and today I'm the featured guest blogger talking about Catherine Ryan Hyde's 'Love in the Present Tense' so go check it out here!

Also, enter in the comments section on this post to win a free copy of the featured book! Since this book really is hard to find (in San Francisco alone, I visited 3 bookstores and all 3 would have had to order a copy for me) and it really is one of the best books I've read in a long time I want to make sure someone else can get the chance to read it! Anyone can enter, just leave a comment with your email address. To double your chances become a follower of this blog! This giveaway will be open until March 1st at 11:59 pm PST and I'll notify the winner the next day. I'll mail the book anywhere in the US and Canada. Good luck!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

So Sweet!

My boyfriend's birthday is the day before Valentine's Day and since this year all of this also fell on a 3 day weekend we decided to take advantage and go to Boulder, CO. I had never been before and he used to live there so I was very excited! Here I am in front of the Mork & Mindy house!

Now my main reason for this post is actually to tell you what I got for Valentine's Day. My boyfriend must actually be reading my blog more than I realized because he noticed I posted recently about bookends and got me this lovely set! I was so excited. I hope you all enjoyed your weekend!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mardi Gras!

Happy Mardi Gras everyone! In honor of Mardi Gras I am sharing with you a recipe for King Cupcakes, a twist on the traditional King Cake. King Cake is a New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition and when I found this recipe for a little spin on it I felt the need to share. For those who don't know, as I didn't before I met my boyfriend, the King Cake is a cinnamon-roll like cake inside with sugary icing with traditional Mardi Gras colored sprinkles on the outside. There is plastic baby hidden inside (sometimes said to represent baby Jesus) and the person who finds it is said to have good luck for the next year (and is obliged to provide the cake for the following years festivities). So without further ado.

King Cupcakes

For the cupcakes
1 cup (2 sticks) sweet butter, softened
1 cup superfine sugar
2 cups self-rising flour
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the frosting
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. gold-colored sugar
2 tbsp. green-colored sugar
2 tbsp. purple-colored sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place 18 paper baking cups in muffin pans. Combine all the cupcake ingredients in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and pale, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Spoon the batter into the cups. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove pans from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Then remove the cupcakes and cool on a rack.

To make the frosting, sift the confectioners' sugar in a medium bowl. Slowly add the lemon juice until the mixture becomes firm but spreadable. Spread onto the cupcakes, and sprinkle with the colored sugar.

Store unfrosted in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. Makes 1 1/2 dozen.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mailbox Monday - Better Late Than Never!

We went to Boulder, CO for the long weekend and just got back a little while ago. We had a fabulous time! Boulder has a wonderful bookstore aptly called the Boulder Bookstore and I picked up a few books there. A couple for the Awesome Author Challenge that if I didn't buy soon I wouldn't get around to reading and one that cracked my boyfriend and I up so much we just had to buy. See if you can pick out which are which!

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia over at the Printed Page and is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!

1. 'The Blind Assassin' by Margaret Atwood

2. 'Open House' By Elizabeth Berg

3. 'F U, Penguin: Telling Cute Animals What's What' by Matthew Gasteier

What did you get?

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Top 5 Most Romantic Books

As Valentine's Day approaches it got me thinking about which books I would consider as being romantic. I usually lean towards the chick-lit when I think romantic of romantic books but we all know how those end, just like the chick-flicks! They are great but I wanted to go with something a little different. More of a sweeping romance but not a bodice-ripping type of book (however much I may have loved those during a phase many years ago!). Here's what I came up with as my top 5 most romantic books (in no particular order, because I love them all!). This is of course very subjective, so I would love to hear, what are yours?

- 'Outlander' by Diana Gabaldon
(This is the first in a series of time-travelling romance books. Clare Randall goes back to 18th Century Scotland where she meets James Fraser and the two begin an intense romance where, let's just say there is a reason it has a cult following!)

-'Gone with the Wind' by Margaret Mitchell
(This is your classic historical romance. I loved this book when I read it in 7th grade. It is an epic saga of memorable proportions. I thought for a time that I would name my children Scarlett and Rhett. Love it, love them!)

-'The Time Traveller's Wife' by Audrey Niffenegger
(One of the most popular modern romance of recent times. Henry De Tamble travels through time and his wife Clare just wants a normal life with him. Each time he travels through time it makes him a little older. It's a heartbreaking love story.)

-'Beneath a Marble Sky' by John Shors
(From the couple whose love story inspired the Taj Mahal to their daughter Jahanara whose own love story was epic in it's own right, this love story is a romantic tale worth reading!)

-'History of Love' by Nicole Krauss
(A love story of those torn apart by WWII and how it tore them apart and affected the rest of their lives. It shows the true power of love. This book will move you.)

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