Archive for December, 2010

31st December
2010
written by Steph
Now with more charts and graphs! Yeah! 😀 I have been eagerly awaiting writing up this post because I love making charts and graphs and looking at stats. I definitely put the nerd in "Book Nerd"! I was going to start writing this up while we were in Minnesota, I decided I would wait until the very last day of the year so that this post would be as official as it gets. And I'm glad I did because we managed to sneak one more book onto the list, as I read the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy, Mockingjay, aloud on the way home in the car (verdict: Unsatisfying and infuriating, especially as there were glimmers of the possibility for it to be rather good. So, pretty much on par with the rest of the series, though perhaps slightly less annoying than the other two). So my procrastination paid off, and clearly the lesson here is this is why one should not write up year-end recaps before the year is out! Anyway, enough with the waffling... let's get to the numbers and pictures! (more…)
23rd December
2010
written by Steph
Today we are leaving (not on a jet plane, alas, but rather our Mini Cooper, Pip... at least he has heated seats! And no screaming infants!) to head up to Minnesota (or as I affectionately refer to it, MinneSNOWta) to spend the holidays with Tony's family. We depart in just under 2 hours, so in the interim, I will be busy scurrying about making sure we have everything packed, updating my ipod with sundry podcasts, and of course finalizing our reading loot for while we're away. Actually, scratch that last one since I have finalized my picks and Tony had his figured out last night. Here's what Tony will be reading during the holidays:
  • The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale (to review for BookPage)
  • West of Here by Jonathan Evison (to review for BookPage)
And here's what I'm bringing with me
  • The Wilding by Benjamin Percy (Indiespensible #22...halfway through!)
  • The Instructions by Adam Levin (Indiespensible #23)
  • True Grit by Charles Portis
  • Wicked by Gregory Maguire (won at a Dirty Santa Swap this year)
  • Orion You Came and You Took All My Marbles by Kira Henhan (won from Kerry over at Hungry Like the Woolf)
  • A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick (won from Erin over at Erin Reads)
I probably could have just stuck with The Instructions since it is such a BEAST, but I figured I'd bring a variety of things and be optimistic that I'll get looooooots of reading done. As you can see, I am not bringing any books that I HAVE to read for review since I'm making holiday reading all about me!!! (Because clearly this time of year is all about being selfish... right?) What will you be reading this holiday? When we get back I'll post my best of 2010 list as well as reading plans for 2011; I know some have already published theirs, but as the year isn't yet up, I don't want to prematurely cap it off only to read something supremely awesome and miss out on pimping it out. Alas, Tony's family only has dial-up internet, so we'll be absent from the blogging world for the next week or so, so please all have safe and happy holidays, however you celebrate, so we can all catch up when we're back!
19th December
2010
written by Steph

Indiespensible #23

The holidays, they are a crazy time, and as such the blog has been suffering. My time has been taken up with planning Minnesotan road trips, bracing myself with all this cold weather, taking motorcycle classes (! But also true! Story to come another day!), and of course attending holly jolly festivities. I am tired, y'all, and as a result my reading has been at the pace of a snail. If we accept that snails can read. And maybe they do. At the rate I'm going, by the time I've finished my next read they probably will be able to read if they already can't. So clearly what I need is another book in my life, this time a 1000 page chunkster in the form of The Instructions by Adam Levin. Normally I'd be a tad p.o'd that it took 10 days to get here by mail, but 'tis the season for parcels being delayed in the mail and really it's not like I've just been sitting around waiting for it to arrive. If I can't even make it through a 250 page book, how am I going to make it through this, I ask you? And yet I am kind of excited for this book... if only I could finish The Wilding (Indiespensible #22)! Along with this lovely tome (which I can use to easily replace 5 lb free weights, right?) came a lovely Powell's tote (you know how I love little birds on things!), an interview with Levin on those notecards that make me feel like a tv news reporter, and a box of chocolate-covered marshmallows from A Little Bit of Sweet, a Portland bakery and sweet shop. Who knows when I will read the book, but I bet you those chocolates don't ever see 2011!
14th December
2010
written by Steph

Today is a momentous day, gentle readers, for today is the day I can claim to have lost my Sarah Waters virginity. It was a long time coming since there’s hardly a book blogger out there who doesn’t rave about her books, and yet I bided my time to see what all the fuss was about. Whenever I would see her books at McKays I’d always pick one of them up, but then I would pause and wonder if I was ready for Sarah Water’s jelly. I finally decided I need to take the plunge and picked up a copy of her first novel, Tipping the Velvet. The rest, as they say, is history. Tipping the Velvet tells the story of Nancy Astley, a young girl living in Victorian England who comes from Whitstable where she works in her family’s oyster parlor. Nan enjoys attending the local theater that puts on variety shows, and one evening she becomes completely captivated by a young masher (male impersonator) named Kitty Butler. Mesmerized by Kitty, Nancy attends the theater every night until her frequent visits finally capture Kitty’s attention. The two swiftly become thick as thieves, and Nancy is all too willing to throw over everything she has ever known in order to be with Kitty, desperately longing for more than friendship. Together the two head to London so that Kitty can further her career, and Nancy soon has her eyes opened to worlds she never dreamed existed, while also learning that following your heart and being true to yourself can sometimes be the hardest thing. (more…)
9th December
2010
written by Steph
While Tony works away on writing our mega wrap-up post of our trip to San Francisco, I thought I'd whet all your appetites by sharing with you our super fancy meal at La Folie. As frequent readers know, Tony and I are pretty adventurous eaters and we enjoy spoiling ourselves every now and then with haute cuisine. We've eaten at the majority of upscale eateries here in Nashville, and pretty much every trip we take is capped in some way with an extravagant repast (plus, when we're not eating with the blue bloods, we tend to be scoping out the very best street food that a town has to offer!). It's not an exaggeration to say that food plays a big part in our life. La Folie was our big splurge meal while in San Francisco, and it was a special first for us because it was the first restaurant we've ever dined at that has a coveted Michelin star. After this sumptuous feast, we can certainly say that star is well-deserved, but also find ourselves wondering what the heck you have to do to earn 2 or even 3 stars! If you're a crazy foodie or just like to see what crazy things we pay good money to put in our mouths, look no further; your time has come! Click on pictures to enlarge and read descriptions. As you can see this was an incredibly sumptuous and decadent meal. It was also our most expensive splurge to date, but well worth it. We both got to try several things we'd never even seen on menus before (or really anywhere apart from Top Chef), and it was really a thrill to eat such a well-constructed meal. Certainly not an every-day type of meal and it's hard to imagine how it could be topped, but it was definitely a lovely experience. If you're ever in San Francisco and want to break the budget and eat the meal of a lifetime, La Folie is all you need.
8th December
2010
written by Steph

Why oh why don’t more people read Kate Atkinson? That is what I found myself wondering as I put down my most recent Atkinson novel, Emotionally Weird, a novel I can really only describe as a triumph of literary imagination. I know that some people get all in a tizzy over Atkinson’s detective fiction starring Jackson Brodie, but I admit that this always makes me grumpy, mostly because I think Atkinson’s non-mystery fiction is so superior. And I’m not just trampling on her whodunnits for the sake of being crabby; I legitimately think Atkinson writes whip-smart novels that make me giddy and make me marvel but I think she does her best work when she’s writing whatever this kind of novel is and not when she’s writing about smoking guns and missing persons and whathaveyou. She’s one of those authors who uses her books to truly create something that’s just slightly larger than life, which means her writing is always a real treat to escape into. (more…)
2nd December
2010
written by Steph

Now these are souvenirs I can get behind!

For those of you who read Matt's blog, A Guy's Moleskine Notebook, you'll know that during our day spent with him, he took us to his very favorite bookstore in San Francisco, Green Apple Books. One of the things that immediately impressed me about GAB, as well as many other bookstores we popped into while in SF was just how much character they all have. A far cry from the cereal box Borders and Barnes & Nobles that dominate here in Nashville. GAB is one of those delightful bookstores that is just stuffed to the gills with shelves of books, so that the perfume of paper is heady in the air. Add to that narrow aisles and creaky wooden floors and you have a wonderful haven for lovers of books. One of my favorite sections at GAB was the discounted new book section, where overstock books were going from anywhere between $4 - $7. Normally at McKay's $4 for a book is at the top end of my budget, but the selection was so dizzying and exciting, especially in terms of the international fiction, I knew I needed to splurge and bring home some babies. It soon became clear that our carry-on luggage wouldn't cut it with my treasure trove, so we decided we'd have to mail my book bounty back to Nashville. After the jump, I'll dissect the titles I picked up in more detail. (more…)
1st December
2010
written by Steph

What a beautiful thing it is...

If you're at all like me, you've probably never taken Steve Martin as an author very seriously. I mean, am I really meant to believe that a man who willingly stars in Cheaper By The Dozen is capable of writing quality literature? Actually, as it turns out, the answer is a resounding: Hell yes! I know that many bloggers have been charmed by Martin's previous novella, Shopgirl, but I admit I never felt I needed to read it despite their praise. Now, I'm going to do something I pretty much never do and say that I was wrong. Because while I can't say anything about the merits of Shopgirl as I still haven't read it, I can say that An Object of Beauty, Martin's latest literary offering is a damn good read. More than just a pretty cover, this book is a fascinating (if fictional) trek through the rise and fall of Lacey Yeager and the New York art scene, something I didn't think I cared about, but apparently I do. And you will too if you read this book! Because it is really good! It's definitely got an old-fashioned vibe to it, but doesn't feel dated or stodgy, just like one of those books that's a walloping good read in the great American literary tradition. I liked An Object of Beauty so much that it is actually BookPage's top pick for the month of December! For more gushing, you can read my full review online here. I compare it to The Great Gatsby, and not in a hyperbolic way. This is one 2010 book that you do not want to miss out on!