A work in progress!

My nook cover arrived!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Picking out a cover for my new nook took almost as much time and angst as the decision to by the darn thing in the first place. After much trauma I decided on the Tupper quote cover. The full quote reads, "A good book is the best of friends, the same today and forever." Martin Tupper was an English writer and poet mostly remembered for his Proverbial Philosophy.

I'm really pleased with my choice. It feels great in my hands, very smooth and super soft. I was really worried about that because the device feels so good on it's own, nicely weighted with a great texture. If I don't enjoy holding the cover I'll leave it off, and you know the one time I drop it will be when it's off. My second choice for covers was the really stunning Jonathan Adler Punctuation Cover. Both covers have pockets and good looks, but the Adler cover looked like it might hard in, and on, my hand. It appears to be canvas rather than the soft (fake) leather of the Tupper cover. Possibly more durable, but feel was really important to me.

Of course, all of the shopping stress could have been avoided if B&N had any plans to carry the covers in any of the stores near me. Even the giant store in the super-expense retail center in the wealthy suburb will not be carrying any nook accessories. It would have been nice to be able to actually see the covers before choosing one. I hope B&N changes it's mind about this soon. The covers are so great, they help sell the product. It may be pre-order only now, but that won't last with all of the new ereaders coming out. They need to stock to promote.


Funny Dogs and Their Bones

Monday, January 18, 2010

Emails to my Dad, Gram and Best Friend, January 17, 2010 (last night)
Email 1: Funny Dogs
I just have to laugh at them. I gave them yummy bones tonight. Razor immediately ran upstairs with his and Booker hunkered down in the living room. They were so happy they didn't even ask me for dinner until 7:30 p.m.! About an hour after dinner Razor got tired of his and decided he wanted hers, so I shut the bedroom door with a shoe in the opening. The thing is, Brooke knows how to push the door open to come in when she wants, but Razor hasn't figured out that trick yet. When I went to the bathroom I saw Razor's little head sticking out the door, if he'd just moved a little bit he could have gotten out, so cute! Finally, Brookie decided she wanted to come upstairs and pushed the door open just enough to come in, and of course Razor immediately ran out to go down and get her bone while she quickly grabbed his. Moments later I heard the loud "bang, bang, bang" as the one he tried to bring upstairs went bouncing downstairs when he dropped it. But he finally made it up here, and now I have 2 happy doggies happily licking away while I read and watch The Golden Globes. I can't help it, they just amuse me.

Email 2: Funny Dogs part 2
Brooke wanted water. Went to the bathroom, by the time we got back Razor had stolen his original bone back.

Email 3: Funny dogs part 3, still laughing
I put Brooke's original bone back in her bed. She was slow to get back from drinking her water. He jumped up and grabbed it again and tried to hoard both bones. I gave it back to her. He stole it again! Good thing she has a mommy to stand up for her. Now he's just giving her the evil eye.

Phone Conversation with Dad this morning:
They slept all night and seemed to have forgotten. But after I fed them Razor raced immediately upstairs to grab his again. I was in the kitchen for a few minutes and when I came out I saw that Brooke had apparently run upstairs and brought hers back down, because there she was licking away again! And now I just looked up and somehow Razor has managed to get both bones, again. These 2 just crack me up!!!

A few minutes later: Brooke came upstairs to reclaim her bone.

A few minutes after that: Razor got up to stretch and Brooke jumped up and claimed both his bed and bone. He wouldn't settle on her bed and stared her down until she got up again. Poor baby was so sad :(

And now Razor is sleeping with his bone.

I always say that when the dogs make me laugh it's "paying the rent." These guys have managed to rack up a lot of credit in the last 2 days!


MLK Day 2010

This speech will always give me chills. Just seeing the words, "I Have A Dream..." chokes me up. I just read a book with "my" little guy called Civil War on Sunday (Magic Tree House #21). It's a book written for elementary school kids. But it made me cry. When the little boy in the book whispered to the wounded former slave that his great-great-grandchildren would be doctors and lawyers, teachers and principals... The book was written in 2000, so I had to mentally add, "and President of the United States." We still have a long, long way to go to reach a world or a country where all people really are treated as equals. But I am eternally grateful for the brave people like Dr. King who fought so hard to get us as far as we've come. I've watched this video twice already today. I suggest you do the same. I hope it will give you the same sense of inspiration, hope and determination to continue to fight for equal rights that it gives me.


The Challenge That Started It All

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I never intended to have a blog. I participate at Goodreads frequently, so I didn't see a need for a separate book blog. And I didn't think I really have much else to say, unless it was to post pictures of my beautiful dogs. But I mostly just email them directly to the most interested (so I think) parties, and I thought I'd leave it at that. Then I started Twittering. And occasionally I found something I wanted to post for my friends to see that took more than 140 characters. I tried Tumblr, but it's pretty limited, including not allowing visitors to make comments. This became a big issue when I wanted to participate in a readathon. I quickly set up a very basic free blog, had fun during the readathon, and figured that was that.

Except I became friends with a lot of book bloggers on Twitter. And discovered some intriguing aspects to the process. Of course, if you really work the system you can get a lot of free books. But then you HAVE to read and review them. I have so many books I'm eagerly anticipating already, plus several Goodreads groups in which I like to participate. I just don't want to have to read a bunch of books that I might not have chosen otherwise, or have to read them first if I have some new releases or a series that I'd rather focus on.

But what really caught my eye was the ability to participate in reading challenges. Now that's fun! Some of my Goodreads groups do various monthly challenges, but those usually have rules that cause the same dilemma of requiring me to read books I'm not as excited about. But annual challenges, that's right up my alley! And I was off and running, plunging head first into the blogging life.

And the blog that brought all of this into focus? Book Chick City  and her Speculative Fiction challenges. I'll be participating in 2.

The fantasy fiction genre challenge at the Obsessed - 24 book level. This will be very easy for me, considering my current obsession with urban fantasy. I'll stick to adult and YA books for this challenge, no juvenile or graphic novels. Check out my progress on Goodreads.

And the science fiction genre challenge at the Addicted - 12 book level. This will be a challenge for me, as I've been sadly neglecting my sci-fi roots for urban fantasy lately. I hope this will encourage me to explore new authors and to revisit some old favorites. Check my progress here.

Thank you Book Chick City! I'm looking forward to the fun of the challenges, as well as to my future as a blogger. I owe it all to you!


Why I Got a Nook

Friday, January 15, 2010

One of the my rotten fibromyalgia symptoms is very sore hands. It's gotten so that holding a book is often very painful. I've tried various bookstands, but what worked best, much to my everlasting surprise, was reading ebooks on my iPhone. I tried it out of curisoity and got hooked! My favorite feature is being able to adjust the print font and size, a feature that I really miss  when reading print books now. Plus the instant gratification of being able to get the next book in a series immediately, at any hour of the day or night, is pretty addictive. I was shocked at how much I enjoyed reading on my iPhone and how much more comfortable it was for me. Except when I had a migraine or felt like one might be coming on. The backlighting did become a problem under those (all too frequent) circumstances.

This combination of circumstances made me start researching ebook readers. My primary goals were having easy-on-the-eyes e-Ink and supported formats that would give me the ability to borrow from my local library. I tried the Sony reader with the touch screen and really didn't like it. It was really clunky in both software and hardware. But worst of all, the reports I'd read about the glare off of the touch screen were totally correct. Since my main reason for wanting an e-Ink reader was to prevent causing migraines, this just wasn't acceptable. I was lucky enough to be able to return it without paying a restocking fee because the battery on the device was also defective.

Moving on and being unwilling to wait months for any then-hypothetical options (very much pre-CES), that pretty much left me with Kindle or Nook. Kindle would not let me read library books and would primarily limit me to their proprietary DRM, which really bothered me. Nook seemed like the best option. After checking it out online (the only way at the time) it seemed more and more likely to be terrific for me. And it turned out to also support the .pdb format of most of the books I'd purchased for the iPhone! Based on the best information available at the time and willing to risk a 10% restocking fee on non-defective returns, I pre-ordered the nook just in time for a deliver date of December 24.

After using the nook for several weeks now, I'm nothing but happy with my decision. It's comfortable to hold and intuitive to use. B&N had already released the first software update by the time mine arrived, so the initial complaints about slow page turns never bothered me. And I expect even more software updates in the future to add even better functionality and prehaps even some Android apps. So count me in as one satisfied nook customer.


2010 Library Reading Challenge

I had been thinking about starting a blog for a while, but the opportunity to participate in reading challenges was the last straw. So here I go, off and running with my first challenge. Which actually might be a challenge, as I recently got a nook to help make reading easier with my bad hands and occasional migraines. I've always been a huge library user and supporter. I honestly would be insane without my books! I'm very lucky to live in an area with top-ranked libraries with inter-library loan access to another 14 library systems. I have a link to the internet request page on Firefox bookmarks bar and my Home screen on my iPhone and use them often. In fact, one of the main reasons I chose the nook is because I can continue to borrow from out libraries using their growing ebook collection.  Check out how I'm doing at Goodreads on my "challenge-library-borrowed-2010" shelf. Thank you to J. Kaye's Book Blog for organizing this challenge.


My Library Loot from Thursday 1-14-10

My library loot from yesterday, quite the haul! Lots of YA and juvenile books this week. Since I got my nook (much easier on my poor sore hands) I have been buying a lot or borrowing from the library's ebook collection.

I'm reading the Magic Tree House books to catch up with "my" little guy. At almost 8 years-old he's read them all, except for the most recent and 43rd book that just arrived yesterday from Amazon as a belated Chanukah gift (from me). I'm so proud of him! I started the owl books by Kathryn Lasky to see if it might be a good next series for him and got hooked. I found the Pandora books because their author, Carolyn Hennesy, is one of my favorite actresses on General Hospital and Cougar Town. She's a smart, funny lady and it's fun to support her efforts. I also like the Greek mythology theme.

I'm very excited to read the final installment in the Buffy season 8 series. I don't read many graphic novels because my eyes have trouble following the style, but I had to find out what my favorite Slayer and friends were up to.

Does anyone want to take bets on whether I'll actually cook anything from Mike Symon's book? I love my Clevelander Iron Chef, and bacon, so maybe I'll get inspired, or at least pick up a few tips.

 This is my first time participating in an internet meme, but how could I resist Library Loot? Thank you Eva (A Striped Arm Chair) and Marg (ReadingAdventures) for creating this fun meme, as well as Natasha at the terrific Maw Books Blog, who turned me onto it.


Easy Chicken-Vegetable Soup Recipe

Monday, January 11, 2010

Unfortunately, I cannot find the original recipe with additional nutrition info or the lovely picture. But this is pretty close to the original, which I think was from Cooking Light or Simply Light or something non-heavy. Of course you can add or subtract any items as you wish. Fresh veggies are a bonus, but frozen is a great option if you haven't been able to make it out to the store. Veggie boullion or broth would be fine instead of chicken as well. I also usually double the recipe to have lots of leftovers. If so, my favorite substition is to use one can of crushed tomatoes and one of diced tomatoes with hot peppers, a lá Rotel. It makes a nice tomato broth with a tiny bit of a kick. If it gets too stew-like overnight or after defrosting, adding more broth is an easy fix.

Prep 5 min  -  Cook 40 min  -  serves 7 (1 cup each)

1      c    chicken (2 breast halves)
1/4   c    onion, dried minced
1      T    bouillon granules, chicken flavored
1      t    basil, dried whole
1      t    paprika, mild
3/4   t    garlic, instant minced
1/4   t    pepper, black
1      c    carrots, sliced
1      c    corn, frozen
1      c    peas, frozen
1      c    green beans, frozen
1      C    mushroom stems and pieces, drained, 8 oz
1      C    tomatoes, crushed, undrained, no-salt-added, 14 1/2 oz
2      t     wine, dry red, Burgandy or other dry red wine
3 1/2    c    water

combine in 6 qt stock pot:
    corn, onion, peas, tomatoes
    basil, bouillon granules, garlic, paprika, pepper
bring to a boil med-hi
cover, reduce heat, simmer 10 min

cook chicken in mic in baking dish hi 3-5 min
dice chicken

add carrots to pot
cover and simmer 10 min
add mushrooms,  chicken and wine
simmer, uncovered, 8 min

81 calories per cup


I'm not a book blogger

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Although this blog will probably end up having a lot to do with books and reading, it is not a book blog. I use Goodreads extensively. It started as a place to help me find books to read beyond just browsing the shelves at the library or bookstores. I'm lucky to live in a suburban city that has some of the top-rated libraries in the nation. Our little libraries are terrific for browsing, they have a really extensive collection. I read primarily science-fiction and fantasy and these collections are by no means less cared for and updated than more "mainstream" books. But there is still only so much that one library can hold. I read a lot, and sometimes it feels like I've already read everything of the shelves that really excites me. In addition, due to my health situation, going and browsing can be exhausting. Finally, I love a series and when I get one book, I usually immediately or soon after want the rest of the series. All of this leads to placing requests for books. An additional benefit our wonderful local libraries is that they are linked in a consortium of 31 library systems across 9 counties. This gives me access to more than ten million items. Very nearly any book I want will be delivered to my local branch, often within days, and held for me to pick up at my convenience. But there is one catch. I have to know what to ask for.

Which leads back to Goodreads. I started by browsing, and seeing which books people who'd read a book I liked also liked. Which lead to entering in all of the books I'd ever read into "shelves" on the site for easy access. I loved the idea of having a record of what I've read. As much as I love owning books and have many (many), most of my reading over my lifetime has been through the library or borrowing books from friends. It can be hard to remember which authors or series I want to follow, or to make recommendations to friends. And it's just plain satisfying to see it all of the information gathered in one place.

Then as I began to enter new books as I was reading them, I was getting better and better recommendations popping up and a long to-read list was forming. Yay! I get anxious when I don't have a pile of books waiting to be read. What if I'm in sick for a while, or it snows, or the world is ending, what would I do without a stack of books? I'd go insane! My to-read list is a great comfort to me, it helps prepare me for the worst disasters imaginable.

When I started with Goodreads I had no intention of writing reviews. I thought of that as something for the pros or for people who were so interested that they make book blogging a major part of their lives. I was wrong (not for the first time). I really enjoyed seeing the reviews of books I was contemplating reading, all written by regular people, users of the site. It gave an insight into the books that was very personal and fresh, just the kind of info I wanted. And if I liked reading what they had to write, maybe they'd like reading my thoughts as well. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of reporting on my opinions of the books I was reading. It's satisfying. It's fun. Sometimes it starts a conversation. And it might encourage other people to read books and authors that I thought were great.

So voilà, I was a book reviewer. I also ended up using Goodreads for groups discussions of books by genre or topic, making friends, entering contests, etc. But finding, reading and reviewing books is the heart of the site for me. Therefore, why would I need to post reviews to another site? I like Goodreads centralized reviews, being able to quickly scroll down a number of reviews about a book I'm interested in. Although I enjoy reading reviews posted by friends on their own sites, I don't necessarily want to spend hours a day browsing through hundreds of sites to find the books I'm interested in. I also don't have the energy or interest in writing full-out book reviews with proper structure or content. I like just making comments on what interested me. Finally, although I like the idea of getting free books, I don't want to have to read a book that isn't on my already extensive to-read list and I want the freedom to read in whatever order I like. If I start a series and want to keep reading the rest of it, I don't want to feel pressure to stop and read the advanced copies a publisher gave me in order to get info about those books out there before its release. So book blogging isn't for me. But talking about books on this blog, that's a guarantee.


My new little sweetheart of a mutt

My new little sweetheart of a mutt

Such a goober

Such a goober

Always in my heart

Always in my heart

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