Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Addition

Addition Addition by Toni Jordan


My review


I wasn't sure what to expect from this story of a woman with an OCD counting compulsion and how it affects her life, but I absolutely loved it. Read it in just about one sitting, in fact. Expertly written - Jordan made me laugh while breaking my heart.


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Monday, April 27, 2009

Running from the Devil

Running from the Devil: A Novel Running from the Devil: A Novel by Jamie Freveletti


My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars
I don't read much of the "thriller" genre, but picked this up because there were some references to ultrarunning in the author blurb. Freveletti is a runner who has crewed on ultras, and got the idea for this book while working on one. It's the story of a scientist/distance runner who's on a hijacked plane that goes down in the jungles of Colombia, and has to use her scientific knowledge as well as her running training to survive a crazy mess of cartel intrigue, government rescue missions and the jungle itself. Good suspense, hinted-at then slowly revealed twists.


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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Imperial stout tasting

I attended a tasting of imperial stouts last night, hosted by my friend Chris and attended by fellow Team Library Dork member Dave and Marc. My tolerance is pretty low these days, so thanks, Marc, for driving.

Here was the lineup:



Let's see if I can name them all:
Port Brewing Santa's Little Helper 2008 Imperial Stout
Port Brewing/Lost Abbey Serpent's Stout 2009 (?)
Green Flash Double Stout
Sam Adams Imperial Stout
Oskar Blues Ten Fidy Imperial Stout
Victory Storm King Imperial Stout
(we skipped the Stone Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout)
Avery's The Czar Imperial Stout
Stone Imperial Russian Stout (2008?)

These were some big, solid beers. The first three were wildly flavorful, then they seemed to settle into more balanced, textbook examples of imperial stouts. (Or maybe my palate was just overloaded by that point.) Standouts for me were the Stone Imperial Russian and the Oskar Blues Ten Fiddy - they seemed the most drinkable and accessible.

Here's my view for much of the night:



And a table-top view from later:



So: a good time, some incredible beers, and good friends. Thanks, Chris, for a palate expanding experience, as usual.

I Love You, Miss Huddleston

I Love You, Miss Huddleston: And Other Inappropriate Longings of My Indiana Childhood I Love You, Miss Huddleston: And Other Inappropriate Longings of My Indiana Childhood by Philip Gulley


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars
I chuckled my way all the way through I Love You, Miss Huddleston. Philip Gulley has written an incredibly entertaining small-town Midwest memoir - shades of Bill Bryson, Garrison Keillor and Jean Shepherd (A Christmas Story) all wrapped up together. I have a few people this is getting recommended to almost immediately...


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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here: An Essential Guide to Your Favorite Music Scenes-Punk to Indie and Everything in Between Wish You Were Here: An Essential Guide to Your Favorite Music Scenes-Punk to Indie and Everything in Between by Leslie Simon


My review


rating: 2 of 5 stars
Not sure why I read this, really. I should've read Simon's guide to emo culture first, but anyway - this is a city-by-city guide to music scenes, specifically post-punk emo type stuff. I did learn a bit about a few bands I like, but I really don't think I was the intended audience for this...


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Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure

Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip by Matthew Algeo


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a case where the cover pulled me in, and I ended up really liking the book. What a great photo - Harry Truman driving himself and his wife around, after his presidency. And that's pretty much the focus of the book - a road trip that the Trumans took the year after Harry stepped down from office. Algeo does a wonderful job giving great details about the trip, who the Trumans saw, where they stayed, etc. - and then following up on it with a road trip of his own, retracing the Trumans' steps and chasing down places and people involved. A great window into the end of another era, where an ex-president could actually have financial issues, and could hop in his car and drive himself across the country.


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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Lemon curd cake with ginger frosting

I threw this together last night and today for a friend's birthday party, and was asked to take pictures of the construction.

Laying in the lemon curd filling, in between layers of white cake:



Cake assembled and ready to frost:



And on the table, cut into and being enjoyed:



Recipes, for the record:
White Cake from Better Homes and Gardens
Lemon Curd from Joy of Cooking
Fluffy White Frosting from Better Homes and Gardens (using water with ginger soaked in it, then strained out and boiled down to concentrate flavor. Still wasn't hugely noticeable...)

I Love It When You Talk Retro

I Love It When You Talk Retro: Hoochie Coochie, Double Whammy, Drop a Dime, and the Forgotten Origins of American Speech I Love It When You Talk Retro: Hoochie Coochie, Double Whammy, Drop a Dime, and the Forgotten Origins of American Speech by Ralph Keyes


My review


rating: 2 of 5 stars
I was a little disappointed in this book - most of the examples of the origins of phrases seemed painfully obvious. About one in 50 or so was vaguely interesting, maybe one a whole chapter was intriguing. I started skimming after the first chapter. Fortunately, it is well indexed, so it could be used as a reference work...


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One Hit Wonderland

One Hit Wonderland One Hit Wonderland by Tony Hawks


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'm not sure how I missed this 2002 book by Tony Hawks - I read all his other stuff pretty much as soon as it came out. Another journey trying to win a madcap bet, this one surrounding writing a hit song. Hawks' excellent humor, combined with his penchant for surreal situations make for a really fun read.


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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Maisie Dobbs

Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs Mysteries) Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars
Took me a while to get to this, the first in a series recommended by a friend. Mystery isn't my usual genre, especially the female protagonist 1920's London variety, but I really, really enjoyed Maisie Dobbs. A lot more nuanced, poignant and cerebral than I expected - somehow I had pictured more humor and chick-littitude. May have to take a look at hte next book in the series...


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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter pics

For some reason, out of the whole year of photos, somehow my Easter pictures end up being the best. Despite being a pretty secular bunch, something about getting everyone together, and the traditions of the egg hunt for the kids and brunch for everyone else lend themselves to good picture-taking. As the kids are getting older, though, they get faster, and it's harder to catch them in the act. I did get a few good ones this year, though...

Sofia, waiting in the gates for the fun to start:



Julien goes for the tough ones first:



Sofia digs deep:



Julien hits the front yard for better pickings:



And then gets very serious about candy unwrapping:



I didn't get many decent pictures of the cousins this year - they were moving too fast - but here's Luther finding an egg:

video

And Julien and Ramona eating watermelon:



Fun Easter, all in all, and a perfect day for it.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Darwin Slept Here

Darwin Slept Here Darwin Slept Here by Eric Simons


My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars
A fun excursion through modern South America, retracing some of Charles Darwin's voyages. Good insight into Darwin, youth and travel.


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Monday, April 6, 2009

The London Eye Mystery

The London Eye Mystery The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars
Excellent kids book about a kid with Asperger's living in London who, with the help of his sister, solves the mystery of his cousin's disappearance. Very fun, great descriptions of his mental processes, and very thoughtfully written. Read out loud to my son.


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Ant Farm

Ant Farm: And Other Desperate Situations Ant Farm: And Other Desperate Situations by Simon Rich


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars
Heard about this one from the library cartoon Unshelved. Very quick read, it's a series of short sketches that illustrate the absurdities of life. Some had me laughing out loud, others chuckling inside. Fun.


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The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry

The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears at the World's Most Famous Cooking School The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears at the World's Most Famous Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars
A travel book, a food book, a France book, and a 'person takes a year off to do something" book all wrapped into one - I had to read this. Kathleen Flinn's chronicle of her time at Le Cordon Bleu, Paris' famous cooking school, was exactly what I'd hoped it would be - enlightening, funny and deep-hearted. Recommended.


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How The World Makes Love

The Not-So-Lonely Planet: What the World Taught a Jilted Groom About Love The Not-So-Lonely Planet: What the World Taught a Jilted Groom About Love by Franz Wisner


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars
I enjoyed Franz Wisner's first book, Honeymoon with my Brother so much, I probably would have grabbed his next no matter the topic. Glad I did, if anything, he's outdone himself. How The World Makes Love is an exploration of dating and romance around the world, at the same time keeping an eye on how it relates to us personally. Having fun while thinking deeply, maintaining a sense of humor while searching for answers: my kind of non-fiction.


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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Surprise haircut

Julien came out of his room a couple mornings ago looking like this:



Apparently something sticky had gotten in his hair at school; we didn't know about it, and he decided to cut it out at some point during the night. This was, of course, with about 35 minutes left before we had to leave for school in the morning. He got a quick clipper cut in the garage, a brief bath and shampoo, and a bagel to eat in the car on the way to school. Here's what the top looks like tonight:





Little uneven, still. Got some growing out to do...

Two-race weekend in SF

Those of you who read this blog but not my running blog may not have known that I was out of town last weekend, in San Francisco for two races. I carpooled over on Friday with my friend Amber, who had to stop in Carson City for a job interview on the way. (They offered her the job on Monday, after we got back. Yay Amber!) From there we drove the south way to Sacramento, then on into the Bay Area where we stayed with her brother and his girlfriend. Thanks, Scott and Sara, for your hospitality...

We pretty quickly got organized and went out to dinner at Fonda, a Bay Area top 100 tapas place. My first experience eating tapas out - despite sharing small servings, I filled right up and felt like I had a great dinner. Too much good stuff to name, but the Cuban mini-burger with chorizo was awesome...

We got up early and took BART across the bay to the city, then walked the three blocks to the 555 California building. Did the race (read about that here), hung out at the top for awhile listening to music and enjoying the view, then headed out for some lunch.

Chris had a specific beer bar on Haight street that he wanted to visit, but it wasn't open yet, so we had Middle Eastern plates with hummus, baba ghanoush, falafel, etc., at a nearby cafe. After lunch, the Toronado had opened, and we each tried an interesting beer, with Chris buying a few extra bottles to take home. Here he is, studying labels, with the board full of available beers behind him:



We then drove to where Chris and Abby were staying, Abby's cousin Eric's house. I'm not exactly sure what part of the city this was; some hill overlooking the Castro. It was super fun to take a little tour of his beautiful house and garden, and relax there for a few minutes. From his back deck, you could even see the building we had just climbed:



And what a relaxing little garden:



We then took off across the city - I had a packet pickup at Fisherman's Wharf for the race on Sunday. Did a lot of walking, trekking up those San Francisco hills:



And passing by the Chinatown branch of the library, which I weirdly recognized from seeing it on Google Street View:



After picking up the packet at a kind of disappointing expo, Amber and I walked back to the closest BART station, all the way back on Embarcadero. We spent a couple minutes checking out the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Memorial, a really cool water/sculpture thing:



Back in Berkeley, Scott and Sarah picked us up at the BART Station and took us grocery shopping at the Berkeley Bowl. What an incredible store! I could've spent hours just in the bulk and produce sections, not to mention the cheese counter and the beer display. With our spoils from shopping, Scott made us green curry with veggies and k=Korean short ribs. Delicious! We shared a Lindeman's Framboise/Adams Chocolate Stout combo for dessert.

Sunday morning Amber and I snuck out early again, this time to drive across the city to the Presidio. I did the Presidio 10 (race report here), then we hung out on the beach at Chrissy Field for a while, did some shopping at Sports Basement, and headed back to Reno. What a fun weekend!

Wings

Wings Wings by Aprilynne Pike


My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars
Grabbed this advance reader copy to read aloud in the car on a recent road trip, and liked it enough that I breezed the rest of the way through it when I got home. Way more YA girly-book then my usual reading style, but it was well written and fun to read. It's the story of Laurel, a teenage girl struggling with the transition from homeschooling to public school, who soon finds out she has a much bigger transition to deal with. Also well-placed as the first book in a series; it'll get a lot more exciting and fantastic in future books.


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