Monday, November 24, 2014

My Thoughts: Between Shades of Grey

Last week I brought up on some one's comments that I never write down my thoughts on the books I read anymore.  Goal for December: write at least a blurb about every book I read.

Why? because that is one of the reasons I started this blog. Darn it.


Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys is easily going to be my favorite YA book for 2014.  Although, Gayle Forman's If I Stay is a very close second.

I think I'm going to start adding a photo of the book description.  Sometimes I prefer to read the publisher's description and only the reviewer's thoughts.

The title of Sepetys's book is misleading in today's post-50 Shades of Grey world (a book I've yet to read). It was a book recommended by someone that I ordered off Amazon without really knowing what the book was about. (as a side note: it bugs me I can't remember who and why I wanted to read a certain book so I've started adding where I got book suggestion to my Evernote Wish List)  The shades of grey in which Sepetys references are people's skin color, the sky color, people's attitudes, etc.  It has nothing to do with sex.

This YA novel tells the tale of Lina and her family as they are deported to Siberia from Lithuania during Stalin's reign of terror.  Growing up before the crash of the USSR, I remember people defecting, the threat of deportation to Siberia, the Kremlin and KGB.  My kids don't understand the enormous difference in that world and the post-USSR world they grew up in.  Actually, now that I think about it, was Siberian exile still an actual threat in the 60s and 70s?  Anyone remember?  I remember it being something we would use as a behavioural saying: behave or you'll be sent to Siberia.

I love when books add extras such as this map.  I like the added visual without having to Google or search for a map.  I also like when publishers/authors add a page or section on the history or relevant facts of the time period.

Anyways, in the 1940s, it was no joke.  It was reality for a lot of innocent people.  Sepetys does an excellent job of telling a tale that could easily be the truth for any Lithuanian family during that time period.  I read it while I was on vacation and had to stop myself from reading it in one day.  I drug this book out for several days because I didn't want it to end.  Even though there is an ending to the book, I wanted it to continue and continue.  I wanted to go back in time and help this little girl.  Lina was a strong person.  I'm not sure I would be able to endure all that she did especially at her age.

I have a fascination with Russia and its history.  The previous book I read, The Lost Crown, dealt with Russia as well, the end of the Romanov era.  Both books would pair nicely with some nonfiction reading as Beth at Too Fond suggested in her post Book Pairings.  I was not impressed with The Lost Crown.  I did tend to skim it in lots of places but it did spark my interest in reading about the czar.

Recommendation:
Between Shades of Grey - READ it
The Lost Crown - skip it unless you also have a fascination with Russia

Thursday, November 20, 2014

What is Your...?

What is Your...

Most Comfy Pair of Socks?

My fuzzy blue Christmas Socks

These socks are my favorite go to socks.  If I want my feet to feel warm and cozy, I wear this pair. They are the perfect combo of warm and soft but not to thick and bulky.  I don't remember where I got them or who gave them to me.  My family and I have a "thing" with giving a pair of socks as Christmas gifts.  My uncle started the tradition.  He never had much money but he always found the money to buy us all something little, usually socks.  My kids and I looked forward to what kind we would get every year.  Sometimes dress socks, sometimes themed socks, sometimes fuzzy socks.  You never knew.  When he passed away several years ago, one of us in the family picked up the tradition.  You never really knew who it would be each year.  I think without realizing it I would think about my uncle whenever I put these socks on.  

Now here's the kicker:
Alaska ate one of my socks!

When I lived with my family, either my parents or my kids, I believed in the sock monster.  The washing machine or dryer that ate socks.  Inevitably, a sock would go missing every washing time.  I kept a small basket in the laundry room to gather the lone mate until another came along to match it.  But now, I live alone and work alone.  I literally only see guests everyday.  There is no way my sock could get mixed up in anyone else's laundry.  I searched my apartment, the washing machine room and hallway.  Nada.  Nowhere. 
Where did it go?

What are your most comfy pair of socks?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

And I'm Here!

Alaska, Mexico, Oregon
Alaska
Mexico
Oregon



Alaska - south view of Mt. McKinley/Denali

Mexico - beach at Sayulita

Oregon - looking out while on Mt. Hood

I've finally arrived in my winter location.  Such a book lover, I got my library card on my 2nd day here.  Not only did I get library books, I also got all my mail being held at the post office. While in Alaska, I ordered a bunch of books off Paperbackswap.com because I have my own address now and mail won't take 2 weeks or more to arrive.  Needless to say, I went a little crazy.  I am now book loaded.

Library Loot

Just One Day - Gayle Forman
Silver Girl - Elin Hilderbrand
A Train in Winter - Caroline Moorehead

The library here is even smaller than the one I used in Alaska; however, they have an excellent selection.  After I checked out the above books, I stopped at the new arrivals shelf.  Duh, why didn't I stop there first?  At least 6 books, I want to read.  I've already started A Train in Winter.

Mailbox Loot

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress - Rhoda Janzen
Fly Away Home - Jennifer Weiner
Not Buying It - Judith Levine
16 Lighthouse Road (Cedar Cove) - Debbie Macomber
The Murderer's Daughters - Randy Susan Meyers
The Sweet By and By - Todd Johnson
Daughters in Law - Joanna Trollope

I still have 2 more coming my way.

My New Bookshelf

My new home is a cabin with an extra loft bedroom that I don't use.  The open staircase has become my new bookcase.  I think it looks pretty cool.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

What is Your...?

What is Your...

Favorite Pop/Soda/Carbonated Beverage?

I have a huge love affair with Pepsi.  It is an affair past on through my mother.  She was an avid fan.  In my childhood, we always had Pepsi bottles in the refrigerator.  Glass bottles.  Do you remember those?  Pop tastes so good out of those old-fashioned glass bottles.  Bring them back!  Anyways, one day I asked for Pepsi first thing in the morning.  Whoa bad idea.  My mom saw the habit she was passing on and Pepsi became a treat.  Damn it.  

Another Pepsi story:  When I was a teenager, I went on a school sponsored trip to Europe.  Lucky me, right?!  I had/have the best parents ever!  One evening in Paris, my roommate and I ordered room service in English versus French. We were stupid naive 15 year olds.  We asked for 2 Pepsis. (who does this? *shaking my head at my teenage self*)  About 15 minutes later, we were wondering where our sodas were.  Our phone rang.  It was the front desk telling us our 2 taxis were here.  Oops.

There is nothing like the crack of opening a fresh can or the fizz of twisting the cap of a new bottle of Pepsi.  Makes me thirsty just thinking about it.  Let me pour a glass.  Yum.

What is your favorite pop/soda/carbonated beverage?


P.S. still on vacation.  This is a scheduled post.  Hopefully, I'll have new signage for the series soon.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Goal Setting - Mt. Hood Style


As I stated last month, I have lots of goals on the brain.  Here are the ones I want to accomplish while I'm in Oregon:
  • Write and finish an non-fiction ebook (for the experience. To see if I like doing it)
  • Finish and polish novel I plan to start for NaNoWri Mo
  • Lose 2 inches by: walking 3 times a week and doing 10 min. ab workout twice daily
  • Visit Williamette wineries
  • Blog once a week at least 
  • Take a course at the community college, for the fun of it
  • Buy a camera
  • Possibly buy a tablet to exchange my laptop for travel purposes.  My laptop's a clunker
  • Try skiing
  • Continue working on my Spanish
  • Try picking up Italian
  • Finish my TEFL (almost done)
  • Look into an online business idea 
  • Make a calendar
  • Design a website
  • Apply for a teaching position overseas
There is a few from my Bucket List that I want to accomplish as well:
  • Move to Portland, Oregon (will it count if I'm at Mt Hood???)
  • Go snow skiing
  • Drink a $100 bottle of wine (Williamette County??? I think yes!  I bought and drank a $50 bottle when I went to Napa.  I'm ready to splurge on a $100 bottle)
  • Live by myself (should this count as I will be using the owner's stuff and not my own?)
  • Cook my way through 1 of my cookbooks (already have my daughter searching for the one I want in order to mail to me)
  • Take an interesting college class (not for a degree)
P.S. This is a scheduled post.  Right now, I should be getting my tan on in Mexico. Woohoo.  Ola!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

What is Your....?

What is Your...

Favorite Go To Snack?
Cheese and crackers. 

Last week, I was working on the computer and a powerful urge came over me at about 3:00 pm.  

Must Have Cheese and Crackers.

I love making cream cheese dip with whatever I'm in the mood for or have in the kitchen at the time.  Last week's dip included shredded cheddar, finely chopped onions, chili powder, garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce.  My crackers of choice are plain Wheat Thins.  Typically, I always use 2 crackers at one time to scoop dip.  Habits, ya know.  Now don't get me wrong, I love love love other types of cheeses but cream cheese is cheap and easy to have a chunk in your refrigerator for when the mood strikes you to make dip.

What is your go to snack?

One of my favorite aspects of blog reading is getting to know the blog author.  Yes, I do tend towards book blogs.  However, if all the author writes about are books then I typically will stop reading.  I think I will start this "What is Your...?" as a regular feature.  First, so you can get to know me.  Second, I can get to know you.  Feel free to blog post yourself and share link in comments or just leave a comment.


Now I need to figure out how to make one of those cute pictures with words.  What are they called?  Any suggestions of a site to use to make them?



Monday, November 3, 2014

Books to Go


Here are the books I'm taking on my trip.  I realize four is probably over doing it especially since I want to participate in NaNoWriMo but I don't want to be stuck without a book in a non-English speaking country either.  In addition, I will be on 4 different plane trips and 1 train trip as well as spending time waiting in airports.  Plus I plan on laying on a beach working on my non-existent tan.  This is a lot of time spent doing nothing (relaxing) so to speak.

The books are in the order I plan on reading.

  • The Lost Crown - Sarah Miller
  • Between Shades of Gray - Ruta Sepetys
  • Sycamore Row - John Grisham
  • The Kids from Nowhere - George Guthridge
All books can be left where ever I finish them.  I'm reading the hard cover first to lighten the load faster.

P.S.  As you read this post, I'll be winging my way towards Mexico.  See ya when I return.