Favorite Reads from 2012

In follow-up to the post I wrote yesterday, I wanted to note some of the titles and authors I enjoyed reading in 2012. Thanks to a blog network plentiful with self-published authors, ownership of a Kindle Fire and Goodreads.com I have truly broadened my literary world.

Two books I wanted to list, first, are from two fellow bloggers, Kate Policani and Maria Tatham. I believe reading these two authors finally gave me the nudge I needed to explore a more varied library of works.

The Lustre – Kate Policani

Queen and the Handyman – Maria Tatham

Of course, I do have my favorite authors. One is William Kent Krueger. His series featuring Cork O’Connor never disappoints. I read Vermillion Drift (#10) and Northwest Angle (#11), which means I have just two more in the series to catch up.

Two trilogies I could not break away from — even to sleep — were Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) and Fifty Shades (E.L. James).

A surprising impulse read that went more quickly than expected was The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. The story synopsis intrigued me. So, I figured, why not?

The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch’s is the first in a series of four novels set in Germany, 1660. This first story is what the synopsis promises: a fast-paced, historical thriller. I look forward to reading more thrillers involving the hangman and his family.

On a dreary weekend back in late September/early October, I took a break from socializing with friends and read The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh and Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard: A Tale of Pride and Prejudice by Belinda Roberts. It was a well-spent social respite.

Then, there is the series I cannot give a decisive opinion on, yet. I read A Game of Thrones: A Song of Fire and Ice (Book One) by George RR Martin Thanksgiving week. While I liked the story, the level of detail used made the pace feel sluggish. Another observation was the bleak and icy cold of the wall mirrored what I saw looking out my own window during the time I was reading.

Finally, four additional 2012 favorites include…

The Book of Blood and Shadow – Robin Wasserman

The Flight of Gemma Hardy: A Novel – Margot Livesey

The House of Tyneford – Natasha Solomons

Mariana – Susanna Kearsley

Last Days of Summer: Katniss, Beautiful Revisits, Classic Rides, Missing Husbands and Fifty Shades of Fudgery

It’s been a while. My hiatus wasn’t even intended. But, then I looked. My most recent blog post is dated  July 26. I compare this blog community faux pas to those ancient days when I failed miserably as a snail-mail pen pal. While I like writing, I am just not a letter-writer.

So, that’s my first excuse for being such a lousy summer blog pal. The next five are …

1. Katniss Everdeen stole my attention for seven days as I devoured Suzanne CollinsHunger Games Trilogy. As I finished each book, I had to start the next. With the exception of maintaining my job as family chauffeur, chef, and referee all other responsibilities went out the window. That’s what summer break is for, right?

2. Beautiful revisit with my husband and children to my aunt Kate’s lake house in Claire, Michigan. For one weekend, we relaxed, fished, boated, swam, and hunted for snakes.

3. Classic rides lined Woodward Ave. for Detroit’s annual Woodward Dream Cruise. Our time was mostly spent in Birmingham’s Old Woodward district, which gave us plenty of classics to drool over.

4. Missing husbands aren’t all bad. While mine was in Baltimore for several weeks, the kids reveled in the last couple weeks of summer vacation. They visited family friends in Canada, slept in, watched too much television, and ate hot dog dinners. The bonus for me: less mess, no sharing, and uninterrupted time with Mr. Grey and Miss Steele (see no. 5).

5. Fifty Shades of fudgery tied me up for three days. It was one day for each book in the trilogy detailing the kinky, over-the-top, hearts and flowers romance between Mr. Grey and Miss Steele. It is the only story I have ever been interested in rereading; and with the same level of interest as the first read-through. Note to those with lovers: minus some of fudgery, the trilogy is a guide to either re-igniting the fire; or to keeping it lit.

Lovely Sisters

 

Last week

Progress on my reading list is sometimes slow. That’s why I just stepped into the highly addictive Hunger Games Trilogy, by Suzanne Collins. I’m sure most will agree that the gripping stories Collins’ weaves — featuring Katniss, Peeta, and Gale — do not allow one to stray for long.

In the Midst of Addiction

With the exception of caring for Issa and Riff, Collins’ saga about the reaping, Hunger Games, and revolt taking place in the 13 districts have held me captive for nearly seven days. In the midst of my addiction, two lovely sisters from the blogging world nominated kateschannel for a couple of awards.

Two Lovely Sisters from he Blogging World

Cathy, from Inspired Design, nominated kateschannel for One Lovely Blog Award. Like me, Cathy resides near Detroit, loves her Italian-Irish heritage, and enjoys looking back at the ’70s and ’80s. I urge my followers to read her posts about Michigan treasures. Also, be sure to take a look at what her eyes and camera lens captures.

Lea, from Lea at Sea, selected me as one of her seven picks for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. Lea’s blog shares her favorite books, discusses her passion for writing, and captures some amazing nature photos. Recently, she shared an excerpt from her book, Tree of Roses. I truly consider her a sister in that she inspires me to create.

Both of these awards carry rules for me to follow upon acceptance. The rules are:

1. Thank those who nominated me. Done

2. Tell seven things about myself that you do not already know. Hmmm.

3. Nominate seven blogs for the awards. Look for my nominees, Friday.

7 Daily Craves

It was taking too much time for me to come up with seven things to share about myself. So, since this post talks about addictions, I figured why not list what I must have each day to fend off insanity.

1. Social time with adults. My fix is met through my blogging network, talking with friends or family on the phone, chatting with neighbors at the bus stop or at the store, or dates.

2. Exercise. My preference is walking because it’s not just about moving. Walking also clears my head of negative thoughts.

3. Writing. In earlier posts, I refer to writing as my therapy. It is. When I write about feelings connected to whatever stress I am carrying, those tensions go away.

4. Cheez-Itz. I do not know what Sunshine puts into those little squares of salty, cheesy goodness. But, I could easily polish off a box during my late-afternoon break. Good thing Issa and Riff love them, too.

5. Ice cream. This addiction has genetic links to my mom. She always has a half-gallon on hand to help her survive a day. While she prefers the low-fat, low-calorie versions, I go for the loaded stuff. My preferred brand this summer is Hudsonville. It’s made on Michigan’s west side.

6. Facebook. It’s so easy to connect with family and friends. It saves me minutes. It gives a common place to view photos from events and places.

7. Issa and Riff. Really, I am not making this one up. When they are away for an overnight at my parents’ home; or if I am away I miss hearing their voices.

Finally

My sister created this beach-themed birthday cake for my niece and nephew in June. The palm tree was made from rice krispy treats. Photo Credit: kateschannel

A post about Lovely Sisters wouldn’t be complete without mentioning I have one. She is my one-and-only sibling; and I am glad she graced the world with her loveliness back in 1973. Like me, she loves to create. While she is a skilled writer, her preference is for painting, crafty ventures, and cakes. She and her family will be visiting mine next weekend. Issa and Riff look forward to spending time with their cousins; and I am looking forward to having some quality-time with my very Lovely Sister.

 

Storytelling with Issa: A Dragon in My Backyard

My daughter Issa and I sometimes opt for storytelling at bedtime versus reading. Last night we pretended a dragon lived in our backyard. For a visual of the dragon, think Night Fury from  How to Train Your Dragon.

The dragon living in my backyard . . .

flies me to school every morning. On the way, he picks up my friends Keefer, Ashley, Ally, Emily, Paul, Brandon, Alex, Gino and Ella. At school while parked in the bus lane he receives curious glances from the principal, teachers and parents. But, everyone stays cool. They all know there is no reason to freak out. My dragon is friendly.

Until school dismisses, my dragon plays hide-and-seek with my younger brother, Riff, and eats lunch. My dragon’s favorite food is fish. His meal includes crab legs, water and double-chocolate cake.

At dismissal, the dragon returns to pick my friends and I up. He drops everyone off and then flies me around the neighborhood. One afternoon we went to Debbie’s Dollar store. My friends Justin and Andrew came along for the ride. We bought him some little plastic dragons to play with.

Before returning home for dinner, my dragon flew us to DQ. Justin, Andrew and I ordered chocolate-fudge sundaes; my dragon ordered fish-flavored ice cream with sprinkles. Yummy!

What I Meant to Write: Yesterday’s Post

I meant to write this post yesterday. But, then I cleaned the house during the morning hours. My five-year-old, son, Riff, was willing to help me make beds, sweep the floor and vacuum. So, how could I not oblige him. I take help when I have it.

Then, morning turned into afternoon. Riff got on the bus for school. I managed to write the title for my post, What I Learned Today. Also, I scanned the Internet looking for some stuff to learn. Did you learn anything, yesterday?  I did.

A woman filed a claim against Starwood Hotels. She was allegedly, sexually assaulted while staying at one of the hotel’s properties in Finland. The commentary following articles about this lawsuit are as interesting as the story itself. I have never been impressed during any of my stays at their hotels.

But, instead of writing, I walked the dog, ate second lunch, read a few pages from John Sallis‘ What You Have Left: The Turner Trilogy on my Kindle, and shared some love with Your Shape on my XBox.

Afternoon turned into evening. Issa and Riff were both home from school now. My duties now involved officiating television time, playing games online, making dinner and getting ready for an evening meeting at church.

For the record, I did not play Angry Bird. The games I played were for educational purposes at this fun and excellent website, http://www.starfall.com. I learned it has reading- and language-skill games to help elementary-age children improve literacy. I was nicely pleased to see Issa spend about 30 minutes playing around here as well.

Then, you know what happened? Afternoon turned into evening; and then evening into night. I came home from my meeting at eight and waited to claim the television from my husband.

While waiting I learned Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire GOP primary, but with only 39.3-percent of the vote. Also, David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is getting positive press. Friends from my blogging and neighborhood networks all say its better than expected. My husband and I have a date night scheduled for Saturday, which may include a movie. I’m trying to decide between this one and Sherlock Holmes.

After claiming the television I watched a couple on-demand episodes of Once Upon a Time, ABC’s new show about fairy-tale characters caught in limbo between reality and fantasy. I re-learned about characters such as Snow White, Prince Charming, and Rumpelstiltskin.

So, what I meant to write yesterday at 9, didn’t happen until now. Stay tuned for today’s post…

365: Weekends and Sick Days

Fever-Ravaged Weekend

It all started on Friday with Riff. He took the day off from school to battle a bad cough, runny nose and his newly-organized closet. Riff is not the easiest patient because he refuses to nap when he feels yucky. This translates into cranky, wrecking-ball-like behavior. Hence, the closet I spent cleaning last week, now looks like the Tasmanian Devil ripped a good one in there.

After running all over the place with me, Saturday, Issa started showing signs of illness. I pulled out the thermometer. 102.7 degrees. Go figure. I had just made reservations for she and Riff to hunt Easter eggs at our local nature center on Sunday afternoon. Admittedly, Issa’s quick turn for the couch and her favorite movies blindsided me. Earlier, she performed her gymnastics routines with zeal and enjoyed reading about the solar system during a visit to the library.

In addition to the egg hunt, our fun-packed Sunday plans had included dinner with my parents. It was sad to postpone this date because Grandma and Grandpa have been in Florida since the end of February.

Sick Monday Giggles

Hot temperatures were not exactly raging outside our home. In fact, we received about two inches of wet snow. But, inside, Issa’s fever spiked along with her interest in procuring a metal detector.

While eating lunch, Issa was watching Journey to the Edge of the Universe. A metal detector advertisement comes on and prompts Issa to ask if I want one. I tell her no. Issa then says she’ll need to figure out how to get one. In other words, a plan is in the works for attempted parental manipulation. I can see it now. The rush is on to unearth the riches of beer cans and bottle caps at Stoney Creek Metro Park this summer.

Defiance Test Review

The “professor” evaluated my solution for problem #3 on that Defiance Test I am taking. So far, it looks like a viable solution. Issa came home with two days of “good” behavior reports from her teacher. I know my husband and I have more problems to solve on this test. But, at least, we earned a break and can move forward to the next problem.