NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!


Saturday, May 31, 2008


by Yasmina Khadra

After spending his shift at a Tel Aviv hospital working on the human carnage caused by the latest suicide bombing, Arab-Israeli citizen and celebrated surgeon Amin Jaafari is shocked to be told his wife was the bomber.

While I didn't find The Attack to be as mesmerizing as The Swallows of Kabul, it is still a deeply thought-provoking story. I expected to be brought into the mind of a suicide bomber, to see what turns a person to that kind of act of violence. But The Attack focuses more on the other people whose lives are affected by the actions of the bomber -- the husband, the friends, the family -- who may or may not have been aware of the devastating plans. I felt Jaafari's helplessness as he searched for the motivation that caused his beloved, kind wife to engage in seemingly senseless violence that perpetrated only more senseless violence until the final, horrific end.

Perhaps the whole world would be a better place if we all thought long and hard about the words Dr. Jaafari's father told him as a child:

If you start from the principle that your worst enemy is the very person who tries to sow hatred in your heart, you're halfway to happiness.


The books in Khadra's trilogy:

Book One: The Swallows of Kabul (My Review)
Book Two: The Attack
Book Three: The Sirens of Baghdad (My Review)


by Jonathan Kellerman

Jonathan Kellerman's "Alex Delaware" series is like a good horse -- steady and dependable -- and the latest installment, Compulsion is no exception. Long time fans of the books know exactly what to expect, and new readers looking to test the waters could start here without being lost in confusion over long-term story threads that have nothing to do with the current case in which Alex and his friend, LAPD Lieutenant Milo Sturgis, are embroiled. It's a straight-up murder mystery perfect for providing a few hours of beach relaxation. If you find brutal, cross-dressing serial killers relaxing, that is. :-)


Friday, May 30, 2008

Coming Up. . .

I'm sooooo excited! I just got my first advance copy of a book I've been dying to read! The story of Louise de la Valliere, mistress of Louis XIV, Mistress of the Sun by Sandra Gulland (of Josephine B. Triology fame) comes out on Tuesday, June 3, and I've got it in my paws right now! Guess what I'm doing this weekend? :-) I promise to report to you just as soon as I get the final page turned. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, check out Ms. Gulland's official web site for more information about the author and her work.

I'm off to France in the time of The Sun King. . .

Thursday, May 29, 2008


by David McCullough

I have to start by saying I prefer to learn general history via fiction because I have a fairly short attention span when it comes to names and dates, and, yeah, John Adams is a really long book, and had I not listened to it on audio (unabridged, of course, because I refuse to listen to abridged books), I'm not 100% certain I would have made it to the end. There are stretches of real dry material. However, with the assitance of a CD player, I enjoyed the book overall. I liked that I learned a lot about more than just John Adams. There is a ton of information about his wife Abigail and son John Quincy Adams, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton. . . . The list goes on and on. There are large portions of actual letters written by not only John and Abigail, but many other famous folk of that time, and it was fascinating to hear their actual words regarding not just the Declaration of Independence, the Revolution, the Constitution, and the like, but every day concerns about raising families, the decline of the education system and of the moral values of the country. I found the continuing debate over the issue of slavery most interesting. Probably because it seems so obvious to me that it is a vile institution, I find I have a hard time comprehending any argument that existed in its favor. (Adams, for the record, strongly opposed slavery and never owned any himself.)

Interesting factoid -- John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day: July 4, 1826, precisely fifty years after the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.


Monday, May 26, 2008


by Yasmina Khadra

The first book in Yasmina Khadra's trilogy about Islamic fundamentalism is the story of two couples whose lives under the rule of the Taliban become linked and changed forever at the scene of the stoning to death of a prostitute.

This is a gut-wrenching little book. The despair of life under the Taliban thumb nearly stains your fingers as you turn the pages. The writing is capivatingly beautiful, but the beautiful words tell an ugly story. One character's courageous act at the end nearly appears as selfish desperation against the backdrop of such a miserable existence. If this is a true picture of life in that society, and I have no reason to believe that it is not, I am speechless. Books like this bring you to your knees, thankful for the blessings of your own life.


The books in Khadra's trilogy:

Book One: The Swallows of Kabul
Book Two: The Attack (My Review)
Book Three: The Sirens of Baghdad (My Review)


by Robert Alexander

In The Romanov Bride, alternating chapters told by Grand Duchess Elisavyeta, sister to the Empress Aliksandra, and Pavel, a bitter, vengeful revolutionary, bring to life two very different sides of a warring Russia and the fall of the House of Romanov.

Wow, Wow, Wow. What a fabulous, fabulous book!! I loved Alexander's first novel, The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar, then was less than luke-warm about his second, Rasputin's Daughter. I figured this one had an equal chance of being great or garbage. From the start, I could not put this book down. The juxtaposition of Ella and Pavel's lives serves to emphasize the hope and horror, the beauty and the tragedy of revolutionary Russia. And if the end doesn't tear at your heart, have yourself checked out to be certain you possess one. Ella and Pavel's stories will linger in mine for a long time.

Based on the true story of the life of the Grand-Duchess-turned-nun, more information and historical photographs can be found on the author's web site.


Other books by Robert Alexander:

The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar
Rasputin's Daughter

Thursday, May 22, 2008


by Carolly Erickson

The Last Wife of Henry VIII is the story of Catherine Parr, from girlhood to her death. There is a lot of time covered, but the book is just a bit more than 300 pages and goes quickly as only the "highlights" are told in any detail, and fairly large chunks of time are skipped over between them.

This book had the bad, bad luck of being read right on the heels of Innocent Traitor. There are some of the same characters and events, but they are not as deeply or convincingly explored in Erickson's book. After Innocent Traitor, this was like "Tudor Cliff Notes". You get the general idea, but you know there's more to the story. I had the same feeling when I read The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette. I liked the book, but I had a lot of questions about parts of the story that were skimmed over or not told at all. All in all, The Last Wife of Henry VIII is a good, light read, but if you're looking for something meatier, I'd stick with Philippa Gregory or Alison Weir.

The covers of Erickson's books are gorgeous though, aren't they? I'd almost buy them just for that! :-)


Other fiction by Carolly Erickson:

The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette
The Secret Life of Josephine: Napoleon's Bird of Paradise

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Books Awards II Challenge

This challenge looked fabulous last year, but I was late to the blogging world, so I didn't sign up. Now's my chance! Michelle at 1 More Chapter is hosting Book Awards II! I have no clue what I'm going to read yet, but I have plenty of time to think about it, since it doesn't officially start until August. I'll be posting my choices and links to the reviews here, so stay tuned! Until then, here are the rules:

1. Read 10 award winners from August 1, 2008 through June 1, 2009.

2. You must have at least FIVE different awards in your ten titles.

3. Overlaps with other challenges are permitted.

4. You don't have to post your choices right away, and your list can change at any time.

5. 'Award winners' is loosely defined; make the challenge fit your needs, keeping in mind Rule #2.

6. Have fun reading!

Now to think about what to read. . . (This is my favorite part!!) :-)

Completed: 10/10 as of May 5, 2009

1. Roots by Alex Haley (Pulitzer Prize)
2. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (Booker Prize)
3. Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones (Commonwealth Writers' Prize)
4. Going After Cacciato by Tim O'Brien (National Book Award)
5. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines (National Book Critics Circle Award)
6. The Woman In The Dunes by Kobo Abe (Yomiuri Prize)
7. The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron (Pulitzer Prize)
8. Day by Elie Wiesel (Nobel Prize)
9. The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene (James Tait Black Memorial Prize)
10. Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee (James Tait Black Memorial Prize)

If you'd like to join in, click here to go to the Official Site.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


by Alison Weir

If you are a fan of Philippa Gregory, don't even bother with this review. Seriously. Just head out to your local library or bookstore (or click the "Buy from Amazon" link above), get your hands on Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey, and settle in for royal scheming, amibition and betrayal as only Tudor England can so consistently provide.

I loved this book! It was so reminiscent of The Boleyn Inheritance with its various narrators that I felt like I was reading it again, but without the benefit of being positive how it ended. While I had my suspicions, I was blissfully ignorant of the fate of Lady Jane Grey until the end of the book. And I thought Jane was portrayed magnificently. Though she is painfully young upon her brief ascension to the throne, the story of her upbringing allows you to believe her amazing maturity and intelligence in dealing with her unwanted and unwelcome circumstances. My heart ached for her.


Other fiction by Alison Weir:

See my review for The Lady Elizabeth here.

Library Love!

I did it again. I went nuts at the library. Apparently I am under the impression that I don't have enough at home to read. Whatever. I'm going to go with it. As J. Kaye told me, I'm on a roll! I'm having delusions of reading 150 books this year. I've never even come close to that before. Hmmmm. . .

While I mull that over, here is what I brought home from my local library:

The Romanov Bride by Robert Alexander
The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra
The Attack by Yasmina Khadra
The Sirens of Baghdad by Yasmina Khadra
Time's Arrow by Martin Amis
The Nature of Monsters by Clare Clark
A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes
The Rossetti Letter by Christi Phillips

I may not actually get to them all, but since I've been coveting them for weeks at the bookstore, it made me feel better to get them to my house where I can make less expensive decisions about them. :-) I don't think I'll do the "First Chapters" project on them this time, because I can probably read half of these in the time it would take me to do that. If you're curious about any of the books listed, let me know! I'll put them closer to the top of the pile.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, May 18, 2008


by Haruki Murakami

In Haruki Murakami's After Dark, the lives of a number of seemingly unconnected people cross in strange ways over the course of one night.

This was my first book by this author, and I enjoyed reading it. It was quick and engrossing, but I have to admit that the aspects of magical-realism bounced off me with little more than, "Huh. That's kind of cool," and any deep messages went right by without so much as a tip of the hat. Maybe I was distracted by the nice weather we were having. A review in Bookmarks Magazine said After Dark was a good introduction to the author's style, and if that is true, I think I will like his other work also. I will definitely be reading more of it. And maybe I will actually have something intelligent to report next time. :-)


PS Here is an essay by Haruki Murakami written around the time of publication of After Dark in which he talks about his writing style. Terri at Tip of the Iceberg pointed me to it. Thanks, Terri!

Other reviews of After Dark:
Everyday Reads
Tip Of The Iceberg

Saturday, May 17, 2008


by Ahmadou Kourouma

Allah is Not Obliged is the the story of Birahima, who tells of his three years as a child-soldier in war-torn West Africa. If you have an issue with offensive language in your reading, skip this book. There is not a single page that does not contain phrases that will make your hair stand up. Strangely, it doesn't come off as gratuitous. It bothered me at first, but after a while it seemed the only way this kid would talk, considering his life. With the atrocities he not only sees but participates in, the greed and corruption that surround him, it's not likely he's going to express his thoughts like a country gentleman. The book is exceedingly disturbing in it's bluntness. Not in a way that makes you sad, but in a way that makes you cringe and look away. You think to yourself, "He has to be making this up. This has to be exaggerated." But, even though it's fiction, you're sickly certain that he's not off the mark at all. You only wish he was. And then you get sad. It's sad what people do to each other.

Kourouma was working on a sequel to this when he died, which I would have read if only to see what happened to this hopelessly messed up kid in his hopelessly mess-up world.


Learn more about this book and the author at this Official Web Site.

Friday, May 16, 2008

My First Blog Award!

J. Kaye at J. Kaye's Book Blog has awarded me her special 5-Star Rating Award!

Thanks so much, J. Kaye!! And thanks to all my other new friends who have made this such a fun endeavor! Here's to many years of reading together!!

Lezlie (who is grinning like an idiot) :-)


by Paul Auster

Margaret at Books Please recently read this also and wrote such a great review that I thought I'd start by saying you all should read that first to find out what this is all about. Go ahead. I'll wait. . .

I really liked Travels in the Scriptorium. True, if ambiguity is not your thing, you may want to pass this one by, but even though I have only read one other book by this author, I was transfixed from the first page to the last. Since many or all of the characters are from his previous novels, reading this has made me itch to pick up more of his work and find out who these people are. I'm not at all convinced that this particular story will make any more sense if I gather further knowledge of the players, but it's too late. I'm hooked.

As I was reading Travels, I kept thinking that the work felt like an immensely talented author working his way through a case of writer's block, jotting down a hodge podge of disconnected ideas and attempting to weave them together just to see what would happen. When I found out that these seemingly random people were from earlier books, it made sense to me. I also thought it could have been a clever way to introduce new readers to old books, even if they don't realize that is what is happening. I could see myself eventually reading another Auster book and thinking, "Hmmmmm. . . Where have I heard this name before. . ." Knowing where the characters came from, now I'll be searching them out. I can't help it. I'm a sucker. I played right into his hands. I know it, and I don't care. It's like I've found clues to a mystery that I need to investigate. Then later I'll return to Travels and see if maybe I found a treasure map or possibly a treasure.


Other Paul Auster books I have reviewed:

The Book of Illusions

Thursday, May 15, 2008


by Michael Alexander Eisner


This engrossing tale about one Spanish knight's experiences in the Crusades during the latter half of the 13th century is a first-rate historical novel, richly imagined and plainly written. After his brother Sergio drowns along with 500 other knights while sailing from Barcelona to the Holy Land, Francisco de Montcada dedicates himself to the Cross. Reported dead after the siege of the Crusader castle Krak des Chevaliers, Francisco returns to Spain mute and seemingly possessed, and is chained in the dungeon of a Cistercian monastery for his own protection. There, Cistercian monk Brother Lucas attempts to get him to speak of his experiences, and in the process earn the reward Francisco's father has offered for his son's recovery. Francisco's tale, when he begins to speak, involves the ghost of his brother, his warlike cousin Andres and Andres's intelligent sister Isabel, with whom Francisco is just beginning to fall in love when he goes off to train with the knights of Calatrava in preparation for their journey to the Holy Land. Artfully balancing Francisco's reminiscences with Brother Lucas's framing narration, Eisner smoothly turns the tables on the reader by slowly revealing that the real question of salvation does not concern the knight alone, but the monk as well. Brother Lucas, justifying his dreams of glory and renown with dogma and doctrine, must weigh his beliefs against the hypocrisy of everyone from promiscuous abbots to the evil Don Fernando, the bastard son of Spain's King Jaime, whose encounter with Francisco at Krak des Chevaliers is the centerpiece of the novel. Meticulously researched and artfully told, this is a historical novel that illuminates as it entertains, and proves Eisner to be a promising writer.

When I read the first chapter of The Crusader, I couldn't wait to get to the rest of the story. It was worth every moment of anticipation. There is a short period as Francisco begins to tell his story when I started wondering if the book was going to hold up to it's promise. It moves rather slowly for a little while. But trust me. Stick with it! Warning: Those with sensitive stomachs will have a hard time with the battle scenes and the cruel treament of prisoners by the vile Don Fernando. He is the first character I have run across since Sir William in The Pillars of the Earth that I loathed so much I would concoct heinous deaths for him in my head while I was reading.

While I thought Don Fernando's ultimate fate far too good for him, I did enjoy the way the author ended the book. While not the happy, happy end I hoped for, I did find something tranquil and soothing about it after all the blood and depravity. It does not appear at this time that Eisner has written any other books since this one (published in 2001), but I will be keeping my eyes open.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

This & That & A Great Vegan Recipe

Good Morning!

There is not a lot going on, but I wanted to make sure I thanked whomever it was that placed her/his Amazon order through my blog. I was so excited to see that! It was my first "sale" as an Associate. If I have any other readers who are Amazon Associates, please let me know! When I'm placing orders for myself, someone should benefit from it. And if you're placing orders, I would love it, of course, if you'd place them through Books 'N Border Collies!

Something I've wanted to mention are some interesting podcasts I've been listening to. Every couple of weeks Ann and Michael have a new book-related podcast on their site Books On The Nightstand. I've compiled quite a list of books they've discussed that I want to check out, and the last podcast about graphic novels was a lot of fun. Michael, an avid graphic novel reader, challenged Ann to read one and talk about it. To her surprise, she really liked it! Hop on over to their website and give them a listen!

And last but not least, I've mentioned a fabulous recipe for a mango/jalapeno stir-fry that Peter and I had a couple of weeks ago that was to die for. I share it with you here now. Enjoy!!

Crispy Tempeh with Mango and Jalapeno
(Vegan recipe from Veggie Life Magazine)

Makes 4 servings

A delightful sweet-and-sour dish that is simple, beautiful, and fast. Serve hot with rice, couscous or quinoa.

8 oz. tempeh, cut into 12 strips
1 tbsp peanut or safflower oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 large mangos, peeled, seeded and diced
1 jalapeno, seeds and membranes removed, cut into thin strips
2 tbsp white wine
1 to 2 tbsp peach or other fruity vinegar
1 tbsp cilantro
Salt and freshly groung pepper to taste

1. Heat wok or large skillet over high heat. Drizzle in oil, and stir-fry tempeh strips 2 to 3 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove strips, set aside on paper toweling, and sprinkle with salt.

2. Add onion to wok and stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes, until lightly browned. Add mango and jalapeno. Stir-fry 4 to 5 minutes, until fruit is very soft. Stir in wine and cook another minute, until wine is reduced. Add vinegar and stir-fry 30 seconds more. Remove from heat.

3. Arrange tempeh strips on a serving platter. Add cilantro, salt and pepper to the mango mixture. Toss briefly and spoon over tempeh strips.

Per Serving: 286 calories (26% from fat), 12g protein, 8g fat, 45g carbs, 9mg sodium, 0mg cholesterol, 7g fiber

And there you are! Tastes like cheating, but it's not!! And I made the prep a little easier when I cooked this by using a jar of pre-cut & peeled mango. I never can cut those right when they're fresh.

Happy eating!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

First Reading Challenge Ever . . . FINISHED!!

Hooray!! Despite my literary ADD, I was actually able to finish one of the billion reading challenges I entered! The Decades Reading Challenge was the first one I signed up for when I started my blog, and it is the first one I'm able to say I finished exactly as planned. My original posting and list of reading is here.

I'm so excited! Now on to the others, for there is no rest for the book-addicted. . . :-)



by H. Rider Haggard

For those of you, like me, who are eagerly anticipating the return of Indiana Jones to the theatre, King Solomon's Mines is your book! Hero Allan Quartermain is the original Indy, minus the snake phobia and whip. Not so much that Quartermaine is equally as cool as Indiana Jones (after all, that's not possible), but you can see where the idea came from. Much like you can see the seed of the idea for Captain Jack Sparrow in Long John Silver from Treasure Island.


The story begins when renowned safari hunter Allan Quartermain agrees to help Sir Henry Curtis and Captain John Good search for King Solomon’s legendary cache of diamonds. Eager to find out what is true, what is myth, and what is really buried in the darkness of the mines, the tireless adventurers delve into the Sahara’s treacherous Veil of Sand, where they stumble upon a mysterious lost tribe of African warriors. Finding themselves in deadly peril from that country’s cruel king and the evil sorceress who conspires behind his throne, the explorers escape, but what they seek could be the most savage trap of all—the forbidden, impenetrable, and spectacular King Solomon’s Mines.

I had a blast with this book! It was pure escapism and outrageous fun. Allan Quartermain is the main event, but I became quite fond of his companions in this adventure. And the scenes of the lost tribe standing in awe and worship of Captain Good's white legs when they come across him nearly undressed and half shaved are more than worth the price of admission.

If you haven't had enough when you're done with this one, there is a whole series of books about Allan Quartermain, most of which can be read for free at Project Gutenberg. Here is the list:

King Solomon's Mines (1885)
Allan Quatermain (1887)
Allan's Wife (1887)
Maiwa's Revenge: or, The War of the Little Hand (1888)
Marie (1912)
Child of Storm (1913)
The Holy Flower (1915)
Finished (1917)
The Ivory Child (1916)
The Ancient Allan (1920)
She and Allan (1920)
Heu-heu: or The Monster (1924)
The Treasure of the Lake (1926)
Allan and the Ice-gods (1927)
Hunter Quatermain's Story: The Uncollected Adventures of Allan Quatermain

Happy Reading, Everyone!

Other reviews:

Heather at "Age 30 - A Year of Books"

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Trial Results: Awesome!

Thank you, thank you, thank you all my new cyber-friends for all the good luck wishes!! They worked marvelously! Out of 10 total runs, the boys qualified in seven, with 5 of those being 1st places! Max also finished his Level 3 Standard title. Yahoo!

Skye was a very good sport yesterday, and I've learned that I need to run faster with him. I tend to hang back with Max and "steer from behind", but Skye is letting me know in no uncertain terms that that is not accetable to him. Once I changed that, he ran beautifully for me! Unfortunately, I made a couple of stupid strategic errors that cost him two of his Q's. He ran my directions to the T, they were just wrong. :-( He's such a good boy!

Max was the benefactor of the fact that I always had to run Skye first yesterday, as they were running tall jump heights first in each class and working down to small (Skye jumps 20", Max jumps 16"). I was able to correct my mistakes and guide him through the courses properly. There are advantages to running two dogs, but in my case it seems like the first one always gets the short end of the qualifying stick. That's a bummer. It would have been reversed for today if we were there, and Max would have been the course guinea pig. He doesn't care. As long as he gets to run and jump, his life is good! :-)

Our next trial is a three day fun-fest over Father's Day weekend, so we have some time to fix some issues, and there is a fairly good chance Peter will be able to run Skye on some courses that are less twisty. Skye will be thrilled!!

On the book front: I'll be posting reviews for The Crusader and King Solomon's Mines this week (which finishes off my very first reading challenge ever!!), and hopefully polishing off a couple others. In short, I'm really liking Alison Weir's Innocent Traitor a lot, and Paul Auster's Travels In The Scriptorium is entertainingly odd.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend, and Happy Mother's Day to all!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Trial Weekend Coming Right Up!

Hi, Everyone!

Another agility trial weekend is coming up. We only get to do one day this time since Sunday is Mother's Day. My mom wouldn't be at all happy if we skipped out simply to try for that Snooker Q. (Though, considering how close I was the last time I tried, don't think I wasn't tempted!) I'll have two shots at it in June, and I'm thinking positive! We've got one last lesson tomorrow afternoon before the big day. Hopefully it will finally be nice enough on a Friday to have the lesson outside. Then on Saturday we'll be up at 4:30 am and off to the trial site for the day. The dogs will have five runs each, and I'll still be running Skye, much to his dismay. (Just hang in there with me a little while longer, Skye-Man! Daddy's knee is almost ready to go!)

Here is a couple of photos of the boys doing their thing:

Skye flying through a tire jump much to the delight of Peter, since at the trial previous to the one at which this photo was taken, Skye ran under the tire every time. Silly boy!

Max weaving like a point guard, courtesy of Jessie's Photography, as it states across Max's face, because it's a demo from their website. We ultimately purchased the photo, but I haven't scanned it in yet, so we'll give them some publicity. :-)

I have two more reviews coming up once I get my act together, so we'll talk again soon. Until then, as we say in agility circles: Run fast, run clean, have fun!


Wednesday, May 7, 2008


by Jules Verne

While Journey to the Center of the Earth is an interesting book, it really didn't do much for me. I was hoping for a Treasure Island-like adventure tale or even a Jurrasic Park-like science lesson. It may have been one or both of these for some readers, but Axel's incessant whining throughout the entire narration drove me to distraction. And maybe I'm more of a wanna-be anthropologist than geologist. Even so, the story had it's moments and I did find some of the scientific arguments fascinating.

I wish I had a little more interesting insight for you on this one, but, alas, I do not. I see its value, but for me it's one of those that I'm glad I finally got around to, but I'm moving on now. . .


Other books by Jules Verne:

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Ahhhhh! A Beautiful Weekend!

It's Sunday night, and I have to tell you: I've gotten almost no reading done at all this weekend, but it's been sooooooo beautiful out! This weekend has been full with an early Mother's Day breakfast with Peter's parents, two great walks of four and five miles through woody trails with the dogs and some great homemade vegetarian/clean eating meals. We made a mango and jalapeno pepper stir fry served over quinoa last night that was to die for! All but no time with books, but it's been such a treat to be able to get outside!!

Now that the sun is going down and the cooler breezes are kicking in, I'm ready to curl up and hopefully finish off The Crusader. I'm also still picking through my Aunt Beth's new short story collection The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted. Peter bought the "man" version of Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy—Until You're 80 and Beyond, and we're reading a chapter each night before we go to bed and talking about the changes we want to make in our lifestyle to hopefully keep healthy for many, many years to come. It's fun to be able to do it together! I'm lucky to have married a guy who is pretty much game for just about any new fancy that strikes me. Dog agility, vegetarianism, singing in a band again, watching stupid B comedies. Some stick, some don't, but he'll usually at least give it a try. Though he has adamantly drawn the line at training for an ultramarathon. He did volunteer to be on my support team though. :-)

Off to the comfy chair!

PS I shopped the Electrique Boutique clearance section, used my coupon and bought five (FIVE!!!) new pairs of platform boots for the Diva show!! Knee-high ones in red, white, and hot pink, and shorter ones in white and black with red flames. I can't wait for the shipment!!

Friday, May 2, 2008

1% Well-Read Challenge

Here's a Challenge I can easily get on board with, since I had wanted to read 50 off the list this year anyway! ;-)

From the Official Challenge site: The goal of this challenge is to read 10 books in 10 months from the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list. For you non-math people, 10 out of 1001 is approximately 1%, hence the title. The challenge will run from May 1, 2008 through February 28, 2009. You may change your list at any time and cross-posting to other challenges is permitted. The only requirement is that your ten book choices must be on the "1001 List".

The only changes I'll make for me personally is that I will end at the end of this year with the rest of my Challenges. Other than that, here is the list I plan to choose from, books read will be bolded as I finish them. (The full list I actually read is at the bottom of this post with a link to the review.)

Catch-22 -- Joseph Heller
Shindler's List -- Thomas Kenealy
Cry, The Beloved Country -- Alan Paton
Junky -- William S. Burroughs
The Power & The Glory -- Graham Greene
The Scarlet Letter -- Nathaniel Hawthorne
King Solomon's Mines -- H. Rider Haggard
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn -- Mark Twain
Petals of Blood -- Ngugi Wa Thiong'o
Theresa Raquin -- Emile Zola
Siddhartha -- Herman Hesse
Beowolf -- Anonymous
Pride & Prejudice -- Jane Austen
Crime & Punishment -- Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Jungle -- Upton Sinclair
The Master & Margarita -- Mikhail Bulgakov
Memoirs of Hadrian -- Marguerite Yourcenar
Breakfast of Champions -- Kurt Vonnegut

Now let's see what *actually* gets read! Ha! :-)

Happy Reading, Everyone, and have a great weekend!

The "actually read" list:

Completed: 10 of 10 as of Dec. 11, 2008 ** FINISHED **

1. King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard
2. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
3. Time's Arrow by Martin Amis
4. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
5. The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
6. Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
7. A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway
8. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
9. Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
10. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

Quick! It’s an emergency! You just got an urgent call about a family emergency and had to rush to the airport with barely time to grab your wallet and your passport. But now, you’re stuck at the airport with nothing to read. What do you do??

And, no, you did NOT have time to grab your bookbag, or the book next to your bed. You were . . . grocery shopping when you got the call and have nothing with you but your wallet and your passport (which you fortuitously brought with you in case they asked for ID in the ethnic food aisle). This is hypothetical, remember. . .

Here's humiliating honesty: I would probably go get a couple of those trashy celebrity rags and look at the pics of the gorgeous dresses. I don't do that very often, but an emergency trip to the airport seems to be the perfect excuse. Disgusting, isn't it? :-)

Catching up from yesterday:

I went to Barnes & Noble and picked up a great load of "This time I'm serious!" books and magazines:

1) Fitness Magazine -- This is a nice general fitness magazine for when my attention span is questionable. They also have a great website loaded with fun information and great workout routines.

2) Oxygen Magazine -- More of a bodybuilding/fitness publication for women, I love looking at the pics of the fitness competitors in here. I know it's way too much muscle for many people, but I find it inspiring. If only I had that kind of discipline! This one is much more extreme than Fitness, but not on the level of Muscle & Fitness. This is the mag that makes me want to pump iron, run adventure races and compete in ultramarathons! I do understand, however, that the first one is the only one that stands a chance of actually happening. :-)

3) The Eat-Clean Diet -- I'm not deluded enough to think I could follow this eating plan to the letter, but the more of it I can incorporate for life, the better. Like vegetarianism, even part-time helps in so many ways both personal and public. There is also a website for this plan that is mostly marketing for the products, but there is a nice .pdf of a grocery list that I stuck on the refrigerator.

4) Younger Next Year for Women: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy—Until You're 80 and Beyond -- One of our neighbors (who really does run adventure races) told us about this book last summer. I thought I'd give it a try. At one of our last agility trials, I watched an 85-year-old woman run her dog. I want to be her someday. Maybe I can run that ultramarathon when I'm 90! They have a website, too, but I haven't had a chance to investigate it much as of yet.

And last but not least, I couldn't resist this one. I was actually looking at books on running when I happened to glance at the upper shelf and found this little gem:

5) Fried Twinkies, Buckle Bunnies, & Bull Riders: A Year Inside the Professional Bull Riders Tour -- I love watching professional bull riding almost as much as love platform boots! The rest of the rodeo is pretty cool, too, but it's all about the bull riding for me. Those animals are the meaning of "mad, bad and dangerous to know". How could I possibly resist a behind the scenes peek? And thanks to Joy and the Non-Fiction Five Challenge, I have the perfect reason to run with the bulls!

As for my first-day progress on my goals: I actually went for two walks yesterday. One on the walking path at work during lunch (about 1 1/2 miles) and one with the dogs after supper by the lake (about 3 miles). And I got in a couple sets of crunches and push-ups with the exercise ball before bed. I had to wait until we put the dogs to bed, though, because Skye was very concerned about Mom lying on the floor and insisted on licking my face until I got up. :-)

And I got a "15% off" email coupon this morning from my favorite place to buy my platform boots! Destiny I tell you!! I'm thinking about this hot pink pair . . . (The coveted silver glitter ones from yesterday's post are sold by a different company.)

Have a great Thursday, everyone!