Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Social Media: A Slight Obsession

Since really getting into a variety of social medias, I think we each gravitate to those medias that allow us access to our favorite things.  Here are a few social media sites I know about or use:
  • Facebook--Friends, babies, relationships, health, and other personal info.
  • Nings--Discussion boards mixed with announcements for the Ning you're involved in.
  • Twitter--Advertising, chatting, quotes, links, and general comments on life.
  • Tumblr--The equivalent of a decorated high school locker, kicked up a million times!
  • Pinterest--Kind of more of the same as Tumblr, but all in one screening area.
Now, I haven't caught on to Pinterest quite as much as I have Tumblr, but have to say that my obsession/love affair with Tumblr is just about getting worrisome!  I love to sort through the funny posts, quotes, pictures, videos, gifs, etc. that people have posted, and then "repost" them to my own account for a bunch of other people to see.  It's like I have a high school locker to decorate all over again!  Now, my adult fan-girling over Colin Firth and anything Austen related can know no bounds.  Yes.  It even frightens me a little.

Here's the real question.  I've created this Tumblr page.  I've posted over a thousand things.  Now what?  I will admit that I've scrolled back through it a time or two, but I'm way more obsessed about the next post coming out.  I. Must. Keep. Up. What if someone finds an even more adorable interview with Colin Firth, Alan Rickman, or the Downton Abbey cast?  I must press on!

The lovely Colin & Meryl at the Oscars.
Conclusions:  I think I've analyzed my own obsession, and here's what I've come to realize about Tumblr (and I suspect this would apply to Pinterest as well).  We love these sites because they reflect the world we live in.  We feel--strangely so--comforted and understood by a series of posts that people, we may or may not know, submit.  All of a sudden, we see our world reflected back at us in all sorts of artistic, beautiful, disturbing, or funny ways.  Most of all, we find out we're not alone in our obsessive love or fan-girling over Colin Firth, looking for recipes, or even just looking for humor.  Yes, there are others like us.  They too are posting yet another picture of Colin Firth slipping Meryl Streep's shoe back on her foot at the BAFTA awards, or posting the proposal scene from Downton Abbey yet again.  We love them, and we know that others do as well.

In whatever way, we're having a beautiful cultural conversation about what we love and value in our society--and I love it! Now.  Back to Tumblr.

What are your favorite social medias and are YOU obsessed--even just a little?

*Disclosure:  This post really isn't about getting followers--I swear!  I just wanted to share my love of Tumblr and see what others had to say.  If you really do want to check out my Tumblr though, it's at:  By the way, if you have a Tumblr account, please let me know!  I'd love to check it out so my obsession can continue!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Review: Compulsively Mr. Darcy by Nina Benneton

Synopsis:  From Goodreads, "For anyone obsessed with Pride & Prejudice, it's Darcy and Elizabeth like you've never seen them before.

This modern take introduces us to the wealthy philanthropist Fitzwilliam Darcy, a handsome and brooding bachelor who yearns for love but doubts any woman could handle his obsessive tendencies. Meanwhile, Dr. Elizabeth Bennet has her own intimacy issues that ensure her terrible luck with men.

When the two meet up in the emergency room after Darcy's best friend, Charles Bingley, gets into an accident, Elizabeth thinks the two men are a couple. As Darcy and Elizabeth unravel their misconceptions about each other, they have to decide just how far they're willing to go to accept each other's quirky ways..."

Review:   This retelling and modernization of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is definitely a unique and different twist on the original story.  While the characters and outline of the plot are there, rife with misunderstandings and romance, this storyline is much different.  For one, it starts off in Vietnam where Elizabeth is a doctor and Darcy has arrived with his friend Charles to help their friends adopt a baby at an orphanage that Jane helps run.  The two sisters immediately assume that Charles and Darcy are a gay couple who have come to adopt, but who wish it to remain quiet.  Elizabeth can't then come to grips with her attraction for Darcy, nor his apparent attraction to her?  The two do eventually work out the truth, as in the original tale--minus this new little twist.  Their time together then becomes a roller-coaster ride of romantic misunderstandings and outside interferences.

I did find this retelling interesting and new.  Some of the issues in their romantic relationship seemed a bit silly at times, such as Elizabeth's "virginity" issue.  I've always felt that some sexual tension or scenes played out in the pages of these retellinngs aren't necessarily out of place, as they are a more modern look at a normal adult relationship, but sometimes I have to giggle a bit at how they are included in the story.  I'm not convinced that with all else that was going on in the story that it needed to be such a focal point.  I definitely loved the tension that was created through these characters' misunderstandings and think that Benneton created an interesting tale to surround our favorite P&P characters.

Overall, I would say that if you're a fan of Austen retellings and modernizations, then definitely give Benneton's book a read.  It is unique and full of action that will keep you flipping pages to see how they work them all out.  All around, a thoroughly entertaining read.

*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based on an advanced review copy provided by the publisher, Sourcebooks.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Blatherings: Oldies Still Rule

What a lovely day!  It definitely feels more like March already, with spring not only just around the corner but also seemingly already upon us.  I love it.

This past week was a bit odd.  I started to feel "off" Sunday or Monday, and by Tuesday I was in the full throes of the flu.  I took off one day, but muscled through the rest of the week because I had to.  Saturday, you would have thought I was home free, but I woke with a giant migraine that had me wondering what in the world I did for my body to send me such a harsh message!  Thankfully, I'm feeling so much better and can refocus on work and every other goal we throw out when we get sick.

A couple of new updates for me though.  First, I joined Weight Watchers.  I'm not very thrilled, but my best friend coerced me into doing it with her.  Granted, nothing I've been doing has been very successful, but I'm not convinced that counting the value of every little thing I eat is the way to go.  We'll see.  Second, I've applied to teach summer school.  *sigh*  Admittedly, I don't really want to because the summer is already so filled with conferences, meetings, and teaching online classes that it doesn't feel like the huge break everyone seems to think we all get. I'm trying to focus though and get the last of my debt polished off.  I'm so close that I can feel it!

Anyway, that's it for my crazy life.  All is well, in general, so today I'm gearing up for the Oscars later tonight.  I apologize ahead of time if you follow me on Twitter and get a barrage of tweets that are Oscar related.  I haven't quite seen all of the films up for nominations tonight, but I have seen quite a number of them.

Having said that, I got sucked into an oldie but goody today when Singin' in the Rain came on cable.  My mother raised me on a large dose of musicals, which we then followed with some major musical soundtrack tunes rolling through our house on Saturday mornings.  I swear that I think of Camelot as house cleaning music to this day!  I'm now thinking I should do a little honor to all of my favorites, both in honor of the Oscars and to great film making in general.  Here are just a few:

So, not really a musical, but I couldn't NOT include this one.

 I swear that these are just a drop in the bucket as far as musicals and oldies are concerned.  Once I got started, I thought of all the great old films I love and want to re-watch.  Although we're focused on all the new releases on this Oscar Sunday, I might have to give myself a challenge to watch all these oldies again!

What oldies are your favorites?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Film Review: Never Let Me Go (2010)

When I was in grad school, I had to read Kazuo Ishiguro's novel Never Let Me Go for a Contemporary British Fiction course.  Talk about a trip!  I was familiar with his other novel, Remains of the Day, with its quiet reserve and social conversation.  That was what I expected with this newest novel, but that is not quite the direction it headed in. 

If you're unfamiliar with the synopsis of the novel and movie, it can be halting.  The premise of the story is built around a group of children raised together as what seems to be normal children, sent away to boarding school, to learn and develop skills and talents like any other child.  There are whisperings of odd things to come, but no one knows for certain what it all means or how they might actually be different from other children.  It is only, after various revelations and their development over time that we learn the shocking truth of the real lives these children will one day lead.  In short, they have been genetically engineered for medical use down the road.

There is a love story built into the plot that adds a depth to the tragedy that plays out, but does not take over the entire story altogether.  It's hard to reveal too much, without revealing some of the tragic twists that are revealed over the course of the film and novel, but they really are pretty shocking to learn. We as viewers (and readers) feel as shocked and blindsided by truths as the characters must.

The thing I found interesting about the film is the equal bits of what I like to call sepia-colored-restraint that fell over the film like a mist.  The same restraint that you find in the novel also plays out in the film.  Had I not already been familiar with the book, I would have found some of the conversations and plot twists jarring against the slow moving story.

Original Novel Cover
One of the things I found a bit odd in the film were the details added about their sexual development.  In the book they seemed normal and part of what you would expect for children growing into adulthood, but in the film they felt startling and exaggerated.  I'm not sure if that is one of the differences between the way the subject is taken on by the author versus the film director, or if it is a "Hollywood" device?  I suppose that anything corporeal felt that way in the film though, since so much of it ends up being psychological as you uncover more and more of the truth behind the story.

I can't say that I loved the film, but I didn't love the book either.  I definitely appreciate the genius of Ishiguro and what he accomplishes in so many different ways.  How he manages to going from a calm book about a butler and his worldview to a startling mental thriller really baffles me.  For that, I give the author kudos.  As for the film, I think I need more time to mull it over.

Other Reviews I Appreciated:
Roger Ebert --As typical of his style, Ebert really puts this movie eloquently.
The Guardian --I felt like this article really mirrored my own thoughts.
The New York Times --Great response to the film's methods and message.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The W's of Reading: What About When You're Sick?

This last weekend I got that familiar achy feeling that I only prayed wasn't the flu.  By Tuesday morning, I knew I was sick, so by Tuesday night and all day Wednesday I was in a pair of warm pajamas with fuzzy socks and a heavy blanket, settled on to the couch!  Generally, I only woke up long enough over the past couple of days to pile on more blankets, grab something to drink, or to turn the channel on the TV.  Did I want to read?  Nope.  Not at all.  I just wanted to lie there, watching copious amounts of television and nothing else.

I suppose that it depends on what kind of "sick" you are at the time, but I'm quickly finding out that I'd much rather be watching "trash TV" than anything else.  Give me a good daytime talk show, some reality show reruns like the Mob Wives, and I'm a happy camper.  Maybe it's because you spend your entire day falling in and out of sleep that makes TV so appealing, since it's just not the same with a book.  You don't feel like you miss much if you fall asleep during a TV show.  When I read, I hate having to look back to figure out where I was reading before my quasi-delirious frame of mind and crazy nodding off took over.

There's also that element of holding the book, which just takes too much darn energy.  Let's not even start with the cold that shivers down your arm and hands when you have to hold up a book or e-reader!  Besides, a remote will sometimes shoot right through certain blankets.  What could be more perfect than that?

Well, I suppose there's also the achy head, eyes, and joints that make reading a bit of a strain.  I've had migraines enough to know you have to blow off reading until the headache has blown over, so I suppose that a sick day really is a sick day, and not a lie around and read day.

Yes, I went back to work today--because I really had to--and I lived.  I was achy, I lost my voice, I was grouchy, and I resented it a little, but I got through the day all right.  In fact, I'm feeling much better than even 24 hours ago.  Maybe I'll read a bit tonight before I finally nod off--or I might just switch it to Bravo and let the Real Housewives' arguing lull me off to sleep one last time?  Oh wait.  It's Jersey Shore night!

What about you?  Are you a reader or a watcher when you're sick, and what are your favorites for those moments?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Review: I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder

Ready or not, here we go into another week.  Somehow, although I change my email passwords and account passwords once a year, my email was hacked.  Nice, I know.  I quickly changed all of my passwords, but I send my apologies if those lovely spam mailers went out!  Now I just need to continue through all the mail I've missed over the last week and a half.  At least it has all been settled with next to no damage, right?

As for what I'm reading, I wanted to share a book of "poetry" that was recommended to me on Goodreads, I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder.  I was looking for a book of poetry that would help me fulfill a reading challenge we're doing at school, so this fit the bill perfectly!

Synopsis:  This one is hard to explain without giving it all away, so I really need to allow Goodreads to share here:

"Ava can't see him or touch him,
unless she's dreaming.
She can't hear his voice,
except for the faint whispers in her mind.
Most would think she's crazy, but she knows he's here.

The boy Ava thought she'd spend the rest of her life with.
He's back from the dead,
as proof that love truly knows no bounds."

Review:  In an easy to read and follow free-verse style, the poetry behind the story of Ava and Jackson adds nicely to the tone of what's going on.  Considering that Ava is haunted, both literally and emotionally, by her boyfriend Jackson, the poetry adds to the haunting affect that is already established by her deep sense of grief.  What Schroeder captures in the story and poetry is sweet, tender, and deep.

Having experienced bone-jarring grief in my life, I readily related to the thoughts and feelings that Ava expressed.  Her confusion over what she should and shouldn't be feeling, at what point, and with whom was very real and poignant.  Adolescence is tough enough without adding the loss of someone you love to that volatile mix.  In short, Schroeder's story did it brilliantly.  Outside of exploring grief though, this is a nicely paced story that has a beginning and an end, with plenty in between to keep the reader going.  I have readily recommended it to all of my students and will continue to recommend this short little book.  If you're at all hesitant about poetry, let this little story ease you and fool you with its narrative style.
*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based on a library copy of the novel.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday Blatherings & Weekend Cooking

Happy weekend to everyone!  Yes, I'm a bit over the moon about this weekend, mainly because it's a three-day weekend and I can not only R&R, but also get a few things done that I haven't been able to previously.  I realize that I was a little MIA this past week, but I honestly didn't realize my week would be like that.  We had a major presentation to give last Monday, followed by parent-teacher conferences on Wednesday.  Even though it was only those two days, it kind of knocked me off my game.  I barely read a word and found myself falling asleep not long my head hit the pillow. Having said that, I'm happy and excited about a long weekend so I can rest and read a bit.  Oh yea, and catch up on my blog! 

With a nice snowstorm that has covered our area, I thought it would be nice to make a yummy breakfast that wasn't a bowl of oatmeal (my norm).  Strangely, I happened to have some ricotta in the fridge, so I made Williams-Sonoma's Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with a homemade raspberry and cinnamon sauce.  They were so fluffy and delicious that I will definitely be whipping this recipe up again!  The nice thing is that I also have a number of pancakes that I'm going to let cool and then freeze.  Frozen pancakes aren't that glorious, but they are manageable during a busy work week.

The raspberry sauce is one that my family has made before, but I tweaked it just a little and left the seeds in, although you can use a sieve to take them out:

1 package Raspberries (I used frozen)
1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1/4 c. Agave Nectar (or sugar to taste)
1/8 tsp. Cinnamon
dash of salt

Bring the sauce to a simmer and let cook for about 5-10 minutes to develop the syrup.  This sauce is a little tart, so fresh fruit or lemon curd would make a lovely addition to this pancake topping.

For more weekend cooking, go to Beth Fish Reads.  You'll find all sorts of great food-related posts and recipes! 

Well, that's my weekend in a nutshell.  Although I have a number of papers to grade, I'm going to etch out some time to cook up some Creamy Italian Chicken and do some reading.  My students are doing a 20 Book Challenge, so I have to do my part to keep up! 

Here's what I'm reading at the moment, although I keep rotating through all sorts of different books.  I don't know that I'll finish my reading this weekend, but here's what I'm enjoying at the moment:

That's about it for my week and weekend.  What about you?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review: Tout Sweet by Karen Wheeler

Synopsis:  From Goodreads, "In her mid-thirties Karen has it all: a career as a fashion editor, a handsome boyfriend, a fab flat in west London and an array of gorgeous shoes. But when her 'plus one' leaves, she wonders if there is more to life than high fashion. So, she hangs up her Manolos and waves goodbye to her city lifestyle, deciding to go it alone in a run-down house in rural Poitou-Charentes, western France. Once there, she encounters a host of new friends and unsuitable suitors, soon learning that true happiness can be found in the simplest of things - a bike ride through the countryside on a summer evening, or six glasses of Pinot in a neighbor's garden. If you've ever dreamed of chucking away your BlackBerry and down shifting, "Tout Sweet" is perfect summer reading."

Review:  After my trip to France this past summer, there isn't much about this book and cover that doesn't appeal to me.  There is that certain passion for life in all of its facets that one can readily recognize in the French, and something that is very romantic--on the surface.  Don't get me wrong, it is very romantic, but Karen Wheeler's memoir reminds us that there are drafty, run-down homes to be fixed, bug bites to cure (with nary a 24-hour drugstore in sight), and a lack of eligible bachelors to be found.  Nonetheless, grabbing at life when she could is an appealing ideal for many readers, including this reader. 

One of the things I loved about this memoir was the full disclosure of both Karen's self-possession and Karen's self-doubt.  It was an interesting inside view of the person who took the journey.  Maybe it was because of this unique inside look into her life that then had me fully vested in finding her true happiness, in whatever way possible.  I loved watching her transform her rundown home into something all her own.  From stripping floors to sealing and painting walls, it was so engaging to actually follow her process of remaking her little French home into one she could reside in. 

One thing that had me on edge for her were the discussions of her romantic relationships.  We start the memoir with a gripping heartache that propels her to France, that I think we all hope will be resolved  with great friendships--which I'm not sure the assortment of people she meets fit--or with a love interest--which is hard when they have other motivations.  Throughout the book she discusses looking for "suitors" in anyone from her neighbor to the baker in town.  There does seem to be this build up to a relationship or sorts, only to have it dropped in the course of about three sentences--literally.  For me, the build up of friendships and suitors to a startling resolution left me a bit out of sorts.  If we were to spend 200+ pages dropping mention of the importance of relationships, I would hope that we would have a balanced explanation of their place in her life by the end.

Karen Wheeler is a marvelous writer, with an ability to recall her own life story in a novel-like fashion.  I was so easily sucked in that my care and concern for her could match any fictional character I've been introduced to.  Having said that, the philosophical end to the book felt very unsatisfying and left me sad for Karen, and not upbeat about the entire "finding of oneself" and slowing down that I think I was supposed to take away.  On the whole, I have been recommending this memoir right and left, in the hopes that I can come to grips with my own reaction to its ending.  It's not possible for me to spell out all the details, but I will say that the reality of it cuts through all that feels escapist or romantic.  In short, I loved it and I hated it, both at the same time.  I can't say that I've responded so strongly to a book in a very long time, and I'm still left trying to grasp how I felt.  Honestly, you really have to read it to find out how Karen wrapped up her memoir.  For this reader, I'll admit to wishing that maybe (like in my own life) there was just a bit more fiction to finish it off. 

*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based on a review copy of the book provided by the publisher.

If you've read this one, PLEASE tell me your own thoughts.  I'm dying to discuss it with other readers, so I'd love to hear from you! Did you have the same response that I did? 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday Blatherings

This week I'm feeling a bit dazed and out of sorts, like someone needs to poke me to really wake me up.  It's that February funk where you feel overwhelmed a bit, but also like you're running through waist-deep sludge that prevents you from running at full speed.  In professional terms, I call it my "Season of Self-Doubt" as it is the time of year I always start to feel like I'm not doing enough.  I've learned that every teacher feels this at some point, so I try to just deal with it and keep moving!

One thing that my students are doing, along with several other teachers in my department, is a 20 Book Challenge to end the school year.  For this final Semester (two terms), we've asked the students to participate in a challenge to read 10 books each term.  They do have a variety of categories/genres to choose from, but they pretty much get to choose what they would like to read.  In short, we just want them to READ.  The fun part for me is that I'm doing it with them so we can all share what we're reading.  That has really helped me get moving on my own 100 Book Challenge for the year!

Since I knocked out non-fiction this past week with The Candy Bomber, I'm tackling poetry this week in Lisa Schroeder's I Heart You, You Haunt Me, and what I'm guessing is fantasy in Brodi Ashton's Everneath.  I'm excited to read both of these books, but especially Brodi Ashton's since I've met her a time or two at our book blogger get-togethers.  She has a wicked sense of humor and has been talking about her writing for quite awhile, so I'm eager to check it out!

To switch gears a bit, I needed to end my Sunday Blatherings with a bit of reflection.  I think I'd be pretty reticent to not mention the passing of Whitney Houston.  Between Madonna, Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi, and Whitney Houston, these artists shaped my school years.  I, like everyone else, was mesmerized and blown away by Houston's I Want to Dance With Somebody, How Will I Know, and One Moment in Time.  Later, we all got sucked into the vortex of hits that this amazing artist performed, I Will Always Love You and I'm Every Woman, to name a few.  For me, the quintessential moment in her career was her performance at the Superbowl in 1991.  I was in high school at the time, and I still remember how completely chilling her performance was, especially considering we were in the Persian Gulf War at the time.  Honestly, it is the performance I compare all others against to this day.  It was flawless and seemingly effortless all at the same time.  For a time when we all felt such a heightened sense of patriotism, Whitney's performance was stunning.  I'm sad that she is gone, and am thankful that in the time she lived, that she left us with such amazing music.  Thanks Whitney, for giving me songs that I could belt out in the car, to capture every mood.  Your voice was untouchable.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Review: Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot"

Synopsis:  Based on the true story of a WWII pilot who served in Europe after the war was over, the book tells the story of the air force pilot who saw a need in the people and children of Berlin, and filled it.  Often not told are the stories of starvation and repression by Germans left in Berlin after the war ended, held impoverished and surrounded by rubble.  Blocked off from the allies by their Soviet captives, many of the citizens of Berlin suffered extreme poverty.  To this came the answered prayer of an American air force pilot, Lieutenant Gail Halvorsen and his comrades, who began to drop gum and candy over the city as a way of renewing hope to the children of Berlin.  Halvorsen was then flooded with pictures, cards, and letters from young children in Berlin, thanking him for his sweet treats and even giving him directions to their homes so he could drop more on his next visit.  Known as Operation Little Vittles, these missions seemingly affected American relations with Germany and gave hope to generations of children that has spanned the years. 

Review:  As far as historical non-fiction is concerned, this was one of my all-time favorite reads.  The mix of pictures, primary documents, and written background were a perfect mix to make this is quick read, but an informational and inspiring read.  Honestly, this story really touched me, and although I already knew it thanks to a college friendship with one of Halvorsen's relatives, it was nice to have the details of these candy missions to Berlin.  The idea of giving hope to those who should have essentially been our enemies was really touching.  Rather than just washing their hands of these German citizens, these soldiers saw a need and did all in their power to fill it. 

Halvorsen went on to keep in touch with some of the children that received his sweet treats, and has gone on to speak across the globe about his sweet-treat missions that brought such hope.  It's always amazing what true human kindness can do to break down walls of misunderstanding, despair, and anger between people or countries.  Reading this history and about the lives it touched, it is easy to see the good it has done for generations after the event.   

If you're looking for an engaging piece of history for young readers or adults, this short piece of nonfiction is a must read.  The positive message of the book will stay with you long after it is finished.  In fact, I walked away wanting to figure out a way that I could do something good for someone else!  

*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based on a personal copy of the book.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Review: Dreaming of Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly

Let me not be shy about my love for Captain Wentworth.  His ability to be so long suffering and to carry a flame for Anne Elliott across the years has always made him one of my all-time favorite heroes.  How could I then pass on a lovely novel set in the present day in Lyme?  That's not it though.  It's on the set of another filming of Jane Austen's famed Persuasion.  In short, Victoria Connelly's Dreaming of Mr. Darcy was my perfect fit.

Synopsis:  From Goodreads, "Fledgling illustrator and Darcy fanatic Kay Ashton settles in the seaside town of Lyme to finish her book, The Illustrated Darcy, when a film company arrives to make a new adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion. Kay is soon falling for the handsome bad boy actor playing Captain Wentworth, but it's the quiet screenwriter Adam Craig who has more in common with her beloved Mr. Darcy. Though still healing from a broken heart, Adam finds himself unexpectedly in love with Kay. But it will take more than good intentions to convince her that her real happy ending is with him."

Review:  I really enjoyed reading Dreaming of Mr. Darcy.  Considering it was more about Captain Wentworth, including plenty of references to reading Persuasion, I felt like it should have been Captain Wentworth that we were dreaming about!  That wouldn't have lost me for one second.  

When our heroine settled into Lyme and her new B&B, she didn't seem to be some lovelorn woman trying to shake off a dodgy past.  Instead, Kay seemed to be a sweet girl who was living her dream to live on the sea coast.  I really loved the premise behind Kay settling into Lyme and opening her B&B, only to have the newest film crew becoming her first customers.  There is a fun, bumpy love story between Kay and the star playing Captain Wentworth, but a variety of other love interests for other characters are also running about.  The biggest love triangle though becomes one that no one knows about other than Adam, who has fallen for Kay from first sight, but can see that she is falling for the big movie star.  In short, he can see what's going on, but can't resist his love for Kay.

If there was one wish I could have made for this fun, romantic sort of modernization, it would be a slower build up to the relationships.  Call me a cynic, but I would have liked to see Adam come to realize his interest in Kay and not be smitten from the first moment.  I think that would have helped me cheer him on a bit, rather than see him as a romantic sap.  He was such a lovable character that I spent a good portion of the book feeling like our flighty heroine might not be good enough for him!  In the end, it all works out and there are moments of delightful tension.  Overall, I would say that it is the perfect night by the fire type of read and one that I'll be sharing with my girlfriends who love Austen-esque stories.  

Now, where can I get myself a good deal on a little place on the English coast?  It sounds pretty promising.

*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based on a review copy sent by the publisher.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday Blatherings & Weekend Cooking

Do you ever feel like the weekend is really about falling into a heap of fatigued laziness?  Although I'll admit that I had a pretty good week last week (no deadlines or essays to grade), I've still been pretty lazy this weekend.  Honestly, you have to snatch R&R wherever and whenever you can!

I didn't ever mention it here on my blog, but I made a goal to not eat out during January.  I failed.  One of the things I hate stocking in my fridge are salad fixings.  I'm sorry, but nothing grosses me out more than a bag of salad that looks like it has wilted down and sloshed to the bottom of the bag or plastic crate.  I hate the smell of salad that is decomposing, I hate the colors they turn, and I hate the very idea of eating it.  I know.  I should be eating them before they get to that point, but it happens so quickly that it drives me crazy!  Having said that, I did stop and get a Zupas salad a couple of nights.  Other than that, I did pretty well. It was an interesting challenge, and one that I think I'll expand on.  It was a lot easier than I thought!  Besides, it put me back into the routine of cooking every night.

One of the reasons I've been thinking about cooking more during the week is because of the set of Jamie Oliver cookbooks I checked out from the library.  I can't say that I cook a bunch of recipes directly from the cookbooks that I check out, but I love the inspiration they give me to cook up my own meals.  I own a few of Jamie Oliver's cookbooks, Jamie's Food Revolution being my all-time favorite, but I wanted to check out a few others as well.  I love Jamie Oliver's passion for food, and the wide variety of dishes he cooks.

Thanks to my bestie, who knows how much I love Jamie Oliver, I now own his "Jamie Oliver's Food Escapes" video collection.  Over the past several weeks I have been working my way through each of the regions he covers:  Andalucia, Pyrennes, Athens, Venice, Stockholm, and Marakesh.  I do remember catching several of these when they were broadcast on BBC America, but it is nice to have the set to watch whenever I want.  He cooks amazing dishes like paella, tart tatin, honey cake, risotto, and lamb stew, all while in beautiful locations.  For anyone who is a foodie and a traveler, this DVD collection is a must have.  I have really enjoyed it and know I'll be trying out many of the recipes.  Honestly, now I have to go visit more of these locations for myself!

Here is a fun video clip of Jamie helping to cook paella for a crowd of 500 people in Spain (Andalucia):

For more weekend cooking, go to Beth Fish Reads.  You'll find all sorts of great food-related posts and recipes!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The W's of Reading: What's the Value of a Book Trailer?

I have to be honest.  For a long time I was kind of a book trailer snob.  I think that to some degree, I still am one.  The thing that has started to turn me around though was the profound affect these trailers have had on my students!  I've shared a number of book trailers, but I have to say that the trailer for Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and Shatter Me really grabbed their attention.  See for yourself!

Having seen the response first hand, I think there is a great opportunity here to really get the word out to teen readers.  They love these trailers and will go pick up a book because of them.  I suppose you can say that I'm now a believer!

What are some of your favorite book trailers?  Any others that you think I just have to share?