Is it Christmas Yet?

Today is my last day of work until January 7th. No big plans which is perfectly fine by me. After the winter concert we attended last night (The Boy was fabulous), we walked into the parking lot and was greeted by freezing weather and snow flurries! Very slight and it only lasted for a few minutes but it’s gotten really cold here. Tonight’s low is supposed to be 38 degrees which is pretty cold for these parts.

Later this week, we have a little surprise for the kids and then we take our annual Christmas light tour with some very close friends. I plan to make fudge and these giant ginger cookies. They were a big hit last year. This year, my friend is bringing a new guy so we need to make room for one more. We’ll be crammed in the van like sardines but it will be cozy. REAL cozy. Hopefully not as cozy as a few years back when The Boy barfed all over everything. He’ll never live that one down. Ever since that night, Dramamine is required and plastic bags can be found in strategic locations throughout the van.

Christmas Eve, we’ll be heading to my MIL’s house. She lives very close-by so it’s an easy jaunt across town. Christmas Day is still up in the air. Not sure what we are doing yet. What I do know, is that I don’t want to cook. I usually love to cook but I am not feeling it this year. I cooked too much at Thanksgiving and then promptly got sick and so food is still a bit of a turn-off for me. Not that I am still sick. I’m not, but when you cook that much food while sick, you just get tired of food. Period.

I have no expectations for Christmas this year. We’ve been trying to save money and with the events of last week, simple is fine by me and frankly, I think the kids are okay with it too.

I’m not going offline between now and the holidays but in case you are, I just want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Endings and Beginnings: What Book Will You Be Reading?

For some reason, the beginning and end of a year seem more important than the rest of the year. Fresh starts? Happy endings? I know for me, the end of the year is usually bittersweet. Another year gone, and usually so many wonderful memories to keep me company.

At the same time though, I am ready to put 2012 to rest. I know you know what I mean. But does it filter over into your reading choices? While other readers work on their “best of” lists, I find myself considering what my last read of the year will be.

It could be any one of these. Click on the covers for more info:

Flight Behavior

Dear Life

Sweet Tooth

Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

I ended last year with a Murakami book and I may do the same this year. His work has a tendency to scrub me of the year before. If that makes ANY sense at all. My brain is numb by the end of the year so stimulating reading tends to put me in the right frame of mind for the next year.

Have you thought about this at all? If so, what book do you plan to end the year with? I have to decide so I can decide on what book to begin the year with. Of course, as fickle as I am, I could change my mind and not go with any of these. I’m just not sure. I have two books to finish right now and then maybe two more depending on how long and involved they are. First world problems!

Also, I have been thinking of hosting a read-along for The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami next year. Maybe April? Anyone want to join me? If there’s interest, I’ll get the details together.

The Sunday Salon: Family

Sunday Salon

After the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, I find myself not wanting to do much but hang at home with the family. So that’s what I’ve been doing. Last night we attended a winter concert which was a lot of fun. Today, we’ve been sipping cocoa, reading and just watching whatever is on TV. Later, we’ll watch a movie or two while eating Chicken Marsala.

It’s rainy and cold so it’s a perfect day to just crash on the couch with a blanket. I really don’t feel like doing much else. What are you up to?

Review: The Leopard

The Leopard

The Leopard
By Jo Nesbo
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780307743183, June 2012, 688pp.)

The Short of It:

Interesting story line but the pace killed it for me.

The Rest of It:

As many of you know, I am a Nesbo fan and have been since The Devil’s Star. His Harry Hole books have been a very entertaining diversion for many a dull work day, but I could not get into this one! I blame it on the fact that they’ve been translated and published out-of-order and it’s been a challenge keeping up the enthusiasm while reading them as they become available.

This is going to be a very loose review so don’t take your mittens off because you won’t be here that long.

A crazy guy kidnaps people and uses this horrible torture device on them called the Leopold’s Apple. Basically, it’s this apple-shaped device that is placed inside the victim’s mouth. It’s smooth but large so it’s impossible to remove and tampering with it causes spikes to pierce your mouth. Which basically leaves you drowning in your own blood.

Pleasant, yes?

Detective Hole is on the case but he’s a mess this time around. Drunk and dropping acid left and right. I did not like Harry at all in this installment and found myself slogging through these parts only because I adore him and don’t like to see him that way. His girl has moved on and he’s fallen to pieces over it. There are little glimmers of hope here and there, but for the most part, the book is dark. Extremely dark and a tad predictable.

I know I haven’t given you too much to go on but compared to his other books, this one lacked something. In fact, I almost gave up on it. I was sick and feverish and didn’t have the patience for it, but Jill encouraged me to finish it so that I can get to Phantom, the next book in the series and I am totally looking forward to that one because many have raved about it.

If you all wait a little longer, they’ll all be out soon and then you can read them in order. I just saw one of his earlier books on Net Galley so they are working on getting them all out there.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review, Tour & Giveaway: The Round House

The Round HouseThe Round House
By Louise Erdrich
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780062065247, October 2012, 321pp.)

The Short of It:

The tension in this tightly written novel is subtle yet continues to build, leaving you exhausted in its wake.

The Rest of It:

Joe, a thirteen-year-old Ojibwe boy living on a reservation in North Dakota is forced to a grow-up quickly when his mother Geraldine is raped and nearly murdered. As the wife of a tribal judge, Geraldine realizes just how important jurisdiction is, but is unable to say exactly where the act took place. Was it on the reservation? Or not? She’s not sure, and as she slowly retreats into a world of her own, retreating not just from herself but from both her husband and son, no one is sure if they’ll ever find the answer. Frustrated by the pace of the investigation, Joe, along with the help of his friends slowly piece together the events of that day and what he finds puts him in a precarious position.

Although the pace of the story is a little slow, I was completely absorbed by the characters and never once doubted the realness of the story itself. It’s fiction, through and through but it felt genuine and plausible and I was touched many times by the love Joe felt for his mother. It’s not common for a teenage boy to show love for his mother so openly but her near death experience wakes something up within him that refuses to let him rest and it’s exhausting to go through it with him. The tension, the secretive nature of the case and the fact that Joe’s parents are trying to spare him the gritty details makes it all the more poignant.

I’ve heard that Erdrich is known for her poetic prose but I didn’t notice it so much here. Instead, I noticed the slow, skillful build of the story, her talent for character development and her ability to nail time and place. It’s set in the late 80’s on the reservation and every time I opened the book I felt as if I was there too.

In the end,  a satisfying read with some very memorable characters.

I have one copy to give away to one of my readers. To enter, check out the giveaway details below.

Louise Erdrich

Louise’s TLC tour stops.

TLC Book Tours

Source: Review and giveaway copy provided by the publisher via TLC Book Tours.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION

This giveaway is for one copy of  The Round House and is open to the US and Canada. A winner will be chosen randomly by me. The book will come directly from the publisher. Only one entry per person.  Giveaway closes on December 21, 2012 (pacific). I will contact the winner for his/her mailing address.

To enter the giveaway, please click here.

The Sunday Salon: Cleaning, Watching…but not Reading

Sunday Salon

Folks, I am in a world of trouble. I am participating in a book tour on Tuesday and I am nowhere near being done with the book. I made the mistake of cleaning out the garage and now I can’t stop. We were given a really nice treadmill not too long ago, but my brother-in-law is having some health issues so he asked for it back. Totally cool with me since I HATE the treadmill and find it more boring than watching paint dry.

But…

It freed up quite a bit of space so I had to rearrange things. Then, The Girl came out here and took out all her craft stuff to make Christmas boxes with nothing in them. I know! My clean garage is now a mess again. Paper scraps everywhere and glitter! Glitter coming out of my ears. I’ll shine all week. She’s playing Britney Spears now which means she has no plans to leave anytime soon. I like her hanging around though. It’s sweet how she follows me around.

She just gave me a box of hearts. Sigh. So sweet when she is not screaming her head off like a demon.

Well, at some point I am going to have to get this book read (The Round House) and then later we are going out for a burger. I am working on Christmas cards too and just hanging out.

How was your weekend? I’ve been trying to work in a Christmas movie here and there so last night we watched The Family Stone. Tonight, maybe Elf or Christmas with the Kranks. What are your favorite must-see holiday movies?

Giveaway Winner: Because You Have To

Because You Have To

The winner is Laurie from Bay State Reader’s Advisory! Congrats to you!  Hope you enjoy the book!

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