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Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Supper Club Planning and Two Southern Cookbooks

One of the things I really want to do this year is start a rotating supper club with some friends. I'd love to have a steady recurring themed evening of food and friendship. I've already roped one other family in on the fun, and would like to find a third. I think it would be interesting to pick a theme or a cookbook or a famous chef and use them as inspiration. I imagine an Italian night, a meal out of A Homemade Life, and riffing off the Chopped judges. I also imagine doing a full Southern meal for my decidedly Yankee friends. In addition to picking a few family favorites, I have two cookbooks from NetGalley that will help me find just the right dishes.


First is Besh Big Easy: 101 Home Cooked New Orleans Recipes. I love love love the blues and New Orleans, and I can't stop myself from requesting every book (fiction and non-fiction) set in New Orleans that I see, but I didn't think this through really well, as the majority of the recipes are, of course, seafood.  I am not a huge seafood fan and even if I were I live in South Dakota-- as far from the sea as you can get. That said, I did find a handful of potential candidates in the book, and the writing and reading is quite lovely, as is the photography.  I've bookmarked Bananas Foster, Mamma's Bread Pudding with Hot Buttered Rum Sauce, Sweet Corn Macque Choux, and Baked Cheesy Grits as potential dinner recipes. Besh Big Easy is released on September 29th.


The second book that I've requested is Nashville Eats: Hot Chicken, Buttermilk Biscuits, and 100 More Southern Recipes from Music City.  Mike and I love Nashville, and really Tennessee as a whole. When we first were together we visited Memphis several times, and I have family in Murfreesboro so this is right up our alley. Chess Pie is definitely on our list of recipes for Southern night and I was thrilled to see a recipe for that included (tho I do have a similar family version.) Nashville Eats is more than just recipes, it also includes beautiful descriptions of Nashville itself and the musical history. This one is a book you can just sit and read, much like A Homemade Life. If I had any complaint it would be that the Kindle formatting is awkward, but there's always the paper version to get around that problem. Nashville Eats will be released on October 6th.

I am really excited to get the Supper Club going and can't wait to kick it off with a meal from home.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Five random thoughts on Friday

  1. I often feel like I'm beating a dead horse in my efforts to get people to give romance novels a fair chance. I get it, not everyone loves a good romance, but I'd at least like to see the scorn and judgement stop. This is especially true for people who have never even cracked a romance open. It's like saying you hate romantic movies because you thought Pretty Woman was stupid even tho you really love The Princess Bride. Both of those are romantic, both have a couple who overcome obstacles to end up together. They are completely different, of course, but both have a happy ending for the couple. This is a great post by romance author Kristin Higgins about that very thing.
    "Romance encompasses fantasy, suspense, comedy, history, mystery, coming-of-age, and crime. The only difference between romance and just about any other kind of fiction is the promise of an emotionally satisfying ending."
  2. My baby girl's 5th birthday party is tomorrow. Because it's so close to the start of Kindergarten, and she doesn't actually know anyone yet, we invited all the girls in her class. So far, not ONE person has RSVP'd either way. I have no idea what to prepare her for, and no way to contact any of the parents, and guys, she's gonna be SO heartbroken if at least some of them don't show up. 
  3. This morning when I got into my car I discovered, juuuuust in the nick of time, that a very large spider had built a very large web across the inside of the door. By which I mean the part you climb through to sit in the driver's seat. I might have to firebomb my car.
  4. Tristan is playing football this year. He is not a sporty kid at all but he was interested and Mike was all for it.  He's very excited.
  5. Last weekend I went for a run on this trail. It was lots of quick ups and downs, and in many places really soft sand covered with cut grasses. (The Park service maintains it as far as knocking down the new growth, but that's it.) It was a lot of fun, and also really slow. I mostly run on wide, packed gravel trails, so it made  me a tiny bit nervous to run on the loose sand. Five more long runs before my half marathon! I've been working on practicing my hill form, since a lot of the half is hills. I worry that my flat trails have spoiled me.
What's on your mind today?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis

Shall I just skip this first part and remind everyone that I just always read all the Shalvis? I don't need to repeat how I automatically request all her titles, do I?  Ok, good. Moving on!


Here's your summary, from Goodreads:

Cedar Ridge, Colorado, is famous for crisp mountain air, clear blue skies, and pine-scented breezes. And it's the last place Lily Danville wants to be. But she needs a job, and there's an opening at the hottest resort in her hometown. What has her concerned is the other hot property in Cedar Ridge: Aidan Kincaid-firefighter, rescue worker, and heartbreaker. She never could resist that devastating smile . . .

The Kincaid brothers are as rough and rugged as the Rocky Mountains they call home. Aidan has always done things his own way, by his own rules. And never has he regretted anything more than letting Lily walk out of his life ten years ago. If anyone has ever been in need of rescuing, she has. What she needs more than anything are long hikes, slow dances, and sizzling kisses. But that can only happen if he can get her to give Cedar Ridge-and this bad boy-a second chance . . .

Second Chance Summer is the start of a brand new series from Shalvis now that her Lucky Harbor series has ended. This one starts with the Kincaid family, who own a struggling resort.  Ten years ago Lily left town after a series of devastating accidents, for which she blames herself, but now she's forced to return home in search of a new start.

Sadly, Second Chance Summer did not hit it out of the park for me. It was still enjoyable, and hit all the trademark Shalvis notes, but I never really connected with or enjoyed Lily at all, which made the book less than enjoyable. I understood where she was coming from and why she blamed herself for the past, but I just didn't like her. Aiden is all in from the beginning. He never expresses any hesitation about falling for Lily.  So for me it turned into a really great guy falling instantly for an unlikable girl, and wasn't a winner.  This doesn't mean that I'm not completely in on the next book in the series, and I can't wait to see what Shalvis does to salvage the resort.

Second Chance Summer was published on June 30th.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Five pictures from the first day of school.

So school started yesterday, as it did in many places. This year was a special year for us though, as Lauren started Kindergarten. She's not *quite* five- her birthday is still a week away- but she's clearly ready and meets the cutoff. Mike and I are shocked at how fast that five years went!

First, your traditional first day of school photo with all the kids. 5th grade, 2nd grade, Kindergarten.

Then the excited girl herself.

Happily, Noah is in the same class as his BFF again this year.  Since it's a brand new school, it was pretty important that he have something to ground him a bit. Noah struggles to contain himself, and if he didn't know anyone it would be a disaster.
Tristan's BFF is there too, but is in 4th grade, so they have to content themselves to recess and playground time.
Mrs. Harford has been teaching Kindergarten for 29 years. How many first day pictures do you think she's taken?
This morning also went smoothly, but Lauren was a little  nervous out on the playground waiting for the bell. I hung around until most of the kids were there, but she was uncharacteristically shy and unwilling to reach out. (This is normally the child that marches up and introduces herself to any other kid in the playground/park/restaurant/etc.)  I gave her a big reassuring hug, and I bet she does just fine.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Bad News Cowboy by Maisey Yates

I love love loved the first two Maisey Yates Copper Ridge cowboy books- Part Time Cowboy and Brokedown Cowboy- so of course I requested Bad News Cowboy the instant I saw it.


Here's the summary from Amazon:

Can the bad boy of Copper Ridge, Oregon, make good—and win the rodeo girl of his dreams?

Kate Garrett keeps life simple—working hard, riding her beloved horses, playing cards with her brothers. Lately, though, she feels a bit restless, especially when family friend Jack Monaghan is around. Sexy and shameless, Jack is the kind of trouble you don't tangle with unless you want your heart broken. Still, Kate could always use his help in learning how to lasso someone a little less high risk…

Jack can't pinpoint the moment the Garrett brothers' little sister suddenly stopped seeming so…little. Now here he is, giving flirting tips to the one woman who needs zero help turning him on. Love's a game he's never wanted to play. But he'll have to hurry up and learn how before the best thing that ever entered his life rides right back out again…

Right up my romance loving alley, right? Guys, I struggled so hard with this one. I never really liked Kate at all (in this book, I liked her quite a bit in Part Time Cowboy.) Jack falls hard for her and while she's willing to admit that she really likes him, she's really scared of making a commitment, and more generally, becoming an adult. She has a messed up past, with a mother that abandoned her and a father who drunk himself to death and she desperately wants to remain solo and unattached so that she can't screw up her own life too. By the end of the book I did understand this, but as it's happening Kate is just so unlikable. It's not explained well, even when Kate's internal monologue is explaining it, and if I'm being honest I put the book down for a month before guilt got the best of me.

That said, Jack is so great. He has issues unrelated to Kate that he grows up and resolves in this one. And when it comes time for honesty and loyalty, he never waivers, even when he knows Kate's brothers are going to come after him. In fairness, Kate does recognize these things when no one else does, which makes it all the worse when she ignores it for her own fear.

A few days after the publication date my feelings of guilt got the best of me. I knew I was around 65% and I told myself I was going to dedicate myself to this book and get it down. I sat down to read and imagine my shock when the book ended around 70%  and the rest was a novella! I knew it seemed off to be having this big climatic scene at 65%... score one for a paper book, I guess. (Tho I've been fooled by paper too!)

Overall, not a great entry to the series, but I'm still going to keep Yates on my "must read" list.

Bad News Cowboy came out on July 28.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Reading Habits

I've seen this on several blogs now and thought it would be fun to play along. Bonus points that it's much easier to write this post than to write a review.

1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?
No. I wish I did. As it is I'm constantly moving around looking for the place with the quietest children. I often rule out the couch because there's so much debris from the kids in there that I'd feel like I had to clean up before I could relax. (Sidenote: We spent a ton of time this summer trying to teach the kids to not trash the living room. We have had near negative success. It's disheartening.)

2. Do you use a bookmark or a random piece of paper?
Neither. My books magically remember my spot.

3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter or a certain amount of pages?
I can stop anywhere. I like to SAY "Let me just finish this chapter..." but it's really just an excuse.

4. Do you eat or drink while reading?
Almost always. My Kindle stays open nice and flat, there's no glare ever, and I can turn pages with the back of a knuckle, so if I were eating something sticky it would not be an issue.

5. Do you watch TV or listen to music while reading?
I can read through almost anything, if I want to. Good thing too, because quiet is rare at my house.

6. Do you read one book at a time or several at once?
Several. Always. I'll often have one that I pay the most attention to, and I might read one in it's entirety without dipping into another, but it's not intentional.

7. Do you prefer to read at home or anywhere?
I prefer to read on the boat, but if that's not an option I'll read anywhere.

8. Do you read out loud or silently?
To my kids, but why would I read aloud to myself?

9. Do you read ahead or skip pages?
I have no problems DNF'ing a book, but I'd never skip entire pages. I might skip occasional paragraphs where the author falls into description.

10. Do you break the spine or keep it like new?
Back when I read print books I was careful with them, but not obsessive. If the spine broke it wasn't a big deal. When buying used books I would look for the nicest copy. With my Kindle... well, same thing actually. I throw it in my purse and don't worry about it, but I don't take it in the tub either. So careful, but not crazy.

11. Do you write in your books?
No. I do highlight in the Kindle, but I never wrote in paper.

What to participate? Leave a link so I can check out your answers or answer in the comments.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Five Books I'm Totally Gonna Read Next. I think.

Am I the only one who thinks "man, there are SO MANY books I am DYING to read, if I just sit down this week/weekend and blow off everything else I can blow through at least three or four" ? And then if I do get a chance to read I might read half a book? It's a sickness. I want to read them ALL. (I'm sure you all relate.)  Now this list happens to be all romance, but you should know that I have a good half-dozen self-help type books, a couple running books, and a couple suspense books weighing down my kindle as well. And that's just the ones I "really, really" want to read.



1. Bad News Cowboy by Maisey Yates. If I'm being honest here, I'm about 2/3rds done and I'm struggling a bit. This should be a storyline that I love, and I loved the first two in this series to pieces, but this one isn't really doing it for me. I owe it to the first two to finish this one.

2. Sweet Southern Nights by Liz Talley. I love Talley's realistic (and still romantic!) grownups in her books. They are settled, they know what they want, and they aren't all superheros.

3. The Liar by Nora Roberts. I got my library hold in last weekend, and it's an e-book (of course) so I can't cheat and keep it out longer than my turn.

4. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen. My number came up a second time at my library. I am determined to read it this time. I have not heard ONE bad word about it.


5.Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis- Because it came out weeks ago and I still can't believe I haven't read it.

The good news is that I already know that I read Roberts and Shalvis fairly quickly (cause I can't make myself stop) and I'm over half done with the Yates... Surely, if I just put my head down and read I can check them off quickly. Right??

What's next on your to-read list?

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