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Wednesday, December 31st, 2014
6:54 pm - 2014 in books
72 books read in 2014, and a ton of short stories

Favorites:
Etiquette and Espionage, by Gail Carriger.  I HAVE to get my hands on the rest of this series, which is a YA prequel to her Soulless books (which made my best-of list last year!).
The Masqueraders, by Georgette Heyer.  Cross-dressing regency fun!
A Turn of Light, by Julie Czerneda: an author I've been meaning to try for a long time.  Gorgeously written, despite the fact that I didn't like the protagonist very much - but she was SUPPOSED to be sort of a spoiled brat, so very well done!
Code Name Verity: by Elizabeth Wein: For anyone who doubts that YA novels can blow your mind, read this historical fiction about espionage in WWII.
The Martian, by Andy Weir: I didn't think a novel about an astronaut stranded alone on Mars would be this funny!  Well-researched, too.
The Shadowed Sun, by N.K. Jemisin: sequel to The Killing Moon, which I'd read and loved several years ago and just got around to continuing - had to re-read the first to refresh my memory because it was a pretty complex plot, but that was no hardship!
An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination, by Elizabeth McCracken: a memoir about moving on from loss that I just really needed to read at that particular point in time.
Pavilion of Women, by Pearl Buck: she's more well-known for The Good Earth, which I've not (yet) read, but I picked this up on a whim and just absolutely loved it.  Incredible portrait of a matriarch in pre-Communist China.
The first six books of the Kate Daniels series (beginning with Magic Bites) by Ilona Andrews: just fun!  I have to continue the series one of these days.
The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison: stunning fantasy debut, this is one to watch.
Hild, by Nicola Griffith: historical fiction about St. Hilda of Whitby which is just fantastic.  I had never heard of this woman but was immediately swept up into seventh-century Britain.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne Valente: Valente has a way with language that just blows me away.  The only other of her novels I've read is Palimpsest, which is the complete opposite of this one in terms of subject matter (that one is VERY adult, this is YA), but the lyrical writing is the same and it's gorgeous.
Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, by Mary Roach: Roach is rapidly becoming one of my favorite popular science writers.  This in-depth look at the nitty gritty of space exploration (including an entire chapter about defecation in space...for real) was fascinating.


The Worst (one that was awful, one that was just meh):
The Unremembered, by Peter Orullian: I read and loved three prequel short stories set in this universe, so I had high hopes for the novel.  Let's just say Orullian should stick to short stories.  Totally formulaic novel full of overused fantasy tropes.  I gave up after 100 pages.
Shogun: by James Clavell: I'm glad I read this, as it's considered a classic by many, but had a hard time getting through parts of it.  Sometimes I think historical fiction writers should take lessons from SF/fantasy writers about worldbuilding.

I think I'm getting better at not wasting my time on books that I'm not enjoying.  Nothing else on my list stands out as particularly bad.

Full 2014 list, for the curious:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2672243-shel?authenticity_token=k5U3sigiUD%2BWbBnQ2H1Dz0h8QEEEis33Bn6xI04UxVQ3NqiAyUR%2BdzFcgDhVnyjyp%2BPhSulacsiQekZuVUlnLg%3D%3D&shelf=read-in-2014&sort=date_read&user_id=2672243

current mood: accomplished

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Tuesday, December 31st, 2013
1:58 pm - Ye olde year-in-books post
I know I don't write here much anymore, but I can't let the year go without my annual list! So here's the best of/worst of the 68 new books I read in 2013, in no particular order:

Favorite books of 2013:
To Ride Hells Chasm, by Janny Wurts: I've been loving her Wars of Light and Shadow series, this is the first of her standalones that I've read and it was just as good. Would be a good place to start to see if her writing is for you or not, because it's not for everyone.
Chaos Walking trilogy, by Patrick Ness: Could not put this down. With each book he added a new POV and let's just say the third one was BRILLIANT.
The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern: this was just lovely.
The Fault in our Stars, by John Green: beautifully written YA novel that had me sobbing.
Jagganath, by Karin Tidbeck: anthology of strange and gorgeous stories.
Mistborn trilogy, by Brandon Sanderson: I wasn't impressed by his debut Elantris, glad I listened to my friends who raved about these and gave it a try.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman: I love almost everything this man writes!
Isaac's Storm, by Erik Larsen: Fascinating history of the Galveston hurricane and the beginnings of the US Weather Service.
Far From the Tree, by Andrew Solomon: Absolutely incredible book about families of exceptional children, based on ten years of research and interviews.

Least favorite books of 2013:
Son, by Lois Lowry: I didn't hate this book, but it was disappointing compared to my expectations. I absolutely LOVE The Giver, and I really enjoyed the first part of this book which tells the same story through another point of view, but it went downhill from there and I really disliked the way it wrapped up so neatly, complete opposite of the first book.
The Alteration, by Kingsley Amis: Neat concept, but the ending killed it for me.
One Step too Far, by Tina Seskis: Mental note to self - interesting-sounding books that are on sale for the kindle REALLY CHEAP are often not as interesting as they appear. Though from the reviews, a lot of other people loved it.

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Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013
7:50 pm - 2012 in books
I've just looked at my page and realized that I've only written one post since last year's best-of entry, and that was also about books. Guess it's hard to find the energy for long updates about my life these days. Suffice it to say that motherhood is proving to be the most exhausting and most exhilirating thing I have ever done, and my little guy (who is talking in simple sentences now and insisted on reading There's a Cow in the Cabbage Patch by himself last night at bedtime - "Leo self!" - and it was the CUTEST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN) is more and more fun every day.

Anyway. I managed to read 52 new books this year. Pretty good, considering I used to read between 70-75 before Leo was born, so I'm at about 70% - I'll take it!

Favorite reads of 2012:
Maus volumes I&II by Art Spiegelman: these graphic novels are some of the most affecting books about the Holocaust (and about troubled parent/child relationships) I've ever read.
Traitor's Knot and Stormed Fortress by Janny Wurts: more of Wars of Light & Shadow. Wonderful.
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis: devastating.
Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins: I was pleased that it lived up to the hype, though I didn't love the third book as much as the first two. One of these days I'll have to see the movie to see how it translated to screen.
The entire Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger: SO. MUCH. FUN.
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed: I thought this collection of advice columns from "Dear Sugar" would be mildly entertaining, and it blew me away.
The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer: I've been hearing about Heyer from friends for years and when I saw that my digital lending library had a copy, I jumped at it, and loved it so much that I ended up buying a copy! THIS is the kind of romance I like to read!
The WOOL omnibus by Hugh Howey: post-apocalyptic dystopia done right. A collection of self-published novellas that prove not all self-published works are crap.

Least favorite reads of 2012:
Little Bee by Chris Cleave: So many people I know loved this book, but it just didn't ring true for me.
Children of God by Mary Doria Russell: this was the sequel to The Sparrow, which I absolutely loved, and this second book was not nearly as meaningful or believable as the first. Disappointing.
A Blistered Kind of Love by Angela and Duffy Ballard: this memoir about a couple's Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike was not nearly as interesting or well-written as Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods.
The Racketeer by John Grisham: never read a Grisham book before, never will again. Only read this one because my book club picked it, and I was not impressed.

Overall, I'm pleased that I didn't waste too much of my time on books I wasn't enjoying. Happy new year!

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Wednesday, May 9th, 2012
9:20 pm - can't resist a book meme!
Stolen from phoenixfalls, I'm keeping her version of the instructions:

SF Mistressworks
Criteria were adult SF titles only (no fantasy or YA) published before 2000. Original instructions were to bold those I've read and italicize those I own but haven't read yet [I'm just going to use italics for books I want to read, even if I don't own it yet]; I added underlining for authors who have written other books I've read and notes on the bold and underlined items.

booksesCollapse )

current mood: is it summer yet?

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Friday, December 30th, 2011
5:27 pm - 2011 in books
I'm not going to go month-by-month this year, because my reading was drastically reduced from April on (can't imagine why...) and there were some months when I only read one book. Funny how babies rearrange your priorities :) But I certainly didn't stop reading altogether - that's NEVER gonna happen! I read 39 books in 2011 (assuming I don't start and finish another one by midnight tomorrow - yeah right), way down from my usual 70-75 per year. Unless it counts that I've read "Moo Baa La La La" at least 50 times?

Anyway, I'm just going to do best of the year/worst of the year.

Favorite books of 2011:
Gemini, by Dorothy Dunnett - historical fiction, last in the Niccolo series. Fantastic ending and neat to finally learn how Niccolo is connected to Francis Crawford of Lymond!
The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls by Lois Bujold. Her fantasy is as much fun as her SF!
and speaking of Bujold's SF: also CryoBurn, which I actually finished just yesterday. The latest installment in the Miles Vorkosigan saga. I love me some Miles!
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N.K. Jemisin. I have to get my hands on the rest of the trilogy.
Grand Conspiracy and Peril's Gate, by Janny Wurts, books 5 and 6 of her Wars of Light & Shadow series, which I've been slowly working my way through.
Bonk: the Curious Coupling of Science & Sex, by Mary Roach. Fascinating :)
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot. As a biology major, I read about so much research that came from this poor woman's cells, it was interesting (and very sad) to learn her story.
In The Woods, by Tana French. I'm usually not a big mystery reader but for some reason this one caught my eye and I loved it.
Foreigner, by C.J. Cherryh. There is no one better at writing sf where it's the human who's the alien. I just bought the second and third books in this series to continue with it.
Little, Big, by John Crowley. This one took me a month and a half to finish but I loved every word. Gorgeously written.

Least favorite books of 2011:
The Kingdom, by John Mabry. This was a FirstReads win over on GoodReads, and though it was mildly entertaining the dialogue was irritating as hell.
My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor. A memoir that could have been absolutely fascinating - by a neuroscientist who had a stroke, writing about the experience as informed by her training in brain science. But the actual memoir part was too brief, and then the book devolved into new agey rubbish (evidently the experience was quite enlightening. or something like that).
Graveminder, by Melissa Marr. Just meh.

And just for kicks, a few of my favorite books to read to Leo:
the aforementioned Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton
A bunch of others by Boynton: Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs, Hey, Wake Up!, The Going to Bed Book, and Hippos Go Berserk (that one's my favorite!)
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox & Helen Oxbury
There's a Cow in the Cabbage Patch by Clare Beaton
Of course, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

current mood: cheerful

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Sunday, August 28th, 2011
7:52 pm - 'cause I can't resist a book meme....
Here's NPR's list of the top 100 SF/Fantasy novels and series, according to popular vote... because it's popular vote, there are definitely a few WTF entries and a bunch of brilliant books that are missing, but overall it's fun to think about anyway...

Bolding is for books/series I've read
Italics are for books/series I plan on reading
Underlining is for books/series I've read part of but not all
And then I will comment in parentheses on whatever interests me.

---

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien (I actually did a book report on Fellowship of the Ring in the fourth grade...an old favorite as well as a classic!)

2. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams (LOVED these in high school, am mildly entertained by them as an adult)

3. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card (love this book, though unfortunately I had the ending spoiled for me before I read it, so never got to experience the big reveal)

4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert (I've read Dune a bunch of times, though I didn't really get it when I was in high school I've come to understand it much better upon re-reading as an adult. I read the second and third book just this past year, and will finish the series one of these days...boy does it get weird!)

5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin (I've read the first four and LOVED them. I know book 5 just came out but I think I'm going to take a break from the series until they're all published so I don't have to re-read the first ones to refresh my memory more than once, 'cause that's quite a monstrous undertaking)

6. 1984, by George Orwell (liked it well enough, but was bored by the big manifesto in the middle of the novel)

7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury (didn't appreciate it when required to read it in middle school, was blown away by it upon re-reading as an adult. What's the opposite of the Suck Fairy?)

8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov (yeah, I know. I'll get to it one of these days. We have them on our bookshelf, I just haven't made them a priority)

9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley (someday...)

10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman (love this one)

11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman (even better than the movie!)

12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan (actually made it all the way to book 7 before I gave up because nothing was happening...)

13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell (read in 7th grade for school, and I should re-read it someday)

14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson (read for a book group a while back, liked but didn't love it)

15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore (haven't seen the movie yet, but loved the graphic novel)

16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov (see comments on Foundation)

17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein (feel like I should read this, but can't scrape up the interest)

18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss (absolutely loved the first one, fully intend on continuing but I don’t buy hardcovers. Waiting for the paperback. Library? What’s that?)

19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut (I think I should re-read this, because I don’t remember it well. It didn’t make a big impression on me – I was pretty young when I read it and am not sure I really got it.)

20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley (another classic I never got around to)

21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick (liked it better than the movie Blade Runner which was based on it! Though my favorite PKD book is A Scanner Darkly)

22. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood (loved it. Haven’t read any other Atwood, but I fully intend to…someday)

23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King (read these in one fell swoop a few years back when the last book finally came out, and absolutely loved them. WHAT an ending!!!)

24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke (after reading the book, the movie suddenly makes a lot more sense!)

25. The Stand, by Stephen King (read and loved it in high school, re-read it last year and it held up well)

26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson (Hiro Protagonist…hee hee hee!)

27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury (I love these, but I have to turn off the little part of my brain that wants to tell Bradbury what we now know Mars is really like. It’s best if I can approach them as fantasy, not SF)

28. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut (one of my favorites by Vonnegut)

29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman (LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE these. Did I mention I LOVE them?)

30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess (never seen the movie either…I should get on that.)

31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein

32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams (I will never outgrow this book. In fact, it deals with pretty complex adult themes.)

33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey (in total agreement with phoenixfalls here…this one has DEFINITELY been visited by the Suck Fairy since I read the series back in middle school. I still enjoy some of the later volumes, but this one…yikes.)

34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein (loved the sentient computer!)

35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller (a classic that’s also a favorite of mine)

36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells (meh…I didn’t love it, much as I thought I “should”)

37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne (I do want to read this someday, but like Martian Chronicles I think I’ll need to approach it as fantasy rather than SF…says the marine science major who KNOWS that the inaccuracy will totally piss her off)

38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys (brilliant. Still makes me cry.)

39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells (someday…)

40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny (I adore the first five books, the second five not quite as much but still worth reading)

41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings (ok, I admit it. This series is a guilty pleasure of mine. Is it great writing? Hell, no. But it’s a favorite re-read for comfort when I’m stressed out and just needing some fluff.)

42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley (one of my all-time favorite standalones. Might even make it onto the “five books I’d want on a deserted island” list)

43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson (I have the first book, haven’t read it yet. I was meh about Elantris but have heard that this is much better from people whose taste I trust, so I’ll give it a shot at some point)

44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven

45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin (a favorite!)

46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien (best read in bits and pieces, because it’s kind of dry, and easy to get all the names mixed up since they all sound the same, but lovely. My favorite part is the creation story at the beginning, it’s gorgeous.)

47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White (I expected to love this, but was unmoved. I finished it because I made myself, but it was disappointing. Maybe because everyone who raves about it read it as a kid, and I didn’t come to it until I was grown and had read quite a few versions of the King Arthur story that were much more adult and complex)


48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman (not my favorite of Gaiman’s, but still good)

49. Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke (I know nothing about this book and it wouldn’t even be on my radar screen if it weren’t for the fact that I just read that it’s one of phoenixfalls’s all-time favorites…now I have to check it out…)

50. Contact, by Carl Sagan (liked it much better than the movie. Was blown away by the ending, which did not make it into the movie at all)

51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons (my MOST FAVORITEST SCIENCE FICTION EVER!!!!! Might be time to re-read for the umpteenth time…)

52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman (charming ☺)

53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson (loved this one, and was therefore surprised when I couldn’t get into the Baroque Cycle, which is a sort of prequel trilogy)

54. World War Z, by Max Brooks

55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle (a favorite. Gorgeous.)

56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman (interesting as a product of its time)

57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett (one of my favorite Discworlds)

58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson (read the first book and just wasn’t interested in continuing. It had nothing to do with the big controversial scene, the story just didn’t grab me.)

59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold (I read these for the first time in the past couple of years and loooooooooooved them! Can’t wait for Cryoburn to come out in paperback.)

60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett (haven’t read this one yet, but I do intend to work my way through all of the Discworld books eventually.)

61. The Mote In God's Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind (was interested in enough in the first book to pick up the sequel, but it went downhill from there. Somehow I made it through book 4 before giving up.)

63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (I liked this much better than the other McCarthy I’ve read)

64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke (I loved this when I read it, and have been meaning to re-read…when I have time. Yeah, right!)

65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson (have not read this or seen the movie, but I’ve heard good things so I’ll get to it someday.)

66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist (don’t know anything about this one)

67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks (loved these when I read them in middle school, before I realized how formulaic they were…have not come near them ever since, I’m CERTAIN that they’ve been visited by the Suck Fairy)

68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard (eh, I’ll pass)

69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb (I usually don’t prefer first person narration, but that’s because it’s so hard to do well. THIS is how it should be done. I absolutely love this trilogy – Fitz is one of the best-written characters I’ve ever read.)

70. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger (loved it, was meh about the movie)

71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson (with the caveat that it’ll depend on how I like the Mistborn books…if I like them I’ll probably check this out, if not I won’t bother)

72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne (I should read this if only to be able to answer my students’ questions about how, just, NO when we study Earth’s layers)

73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore (I’ve always been under the impression that these are no more intelligent than your average D&D-based fantasy…am I wrong?)

74. Old Man's War, by John Scalzi (never read anything by Scalzi, but feel like I should)

75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson (we have a copy of this and hubby keeps bugging me to read it…will get to it sooner or later)

76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke

77. The Kushiel's Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey (I *love* these books to pieces. I like Phedre’s books better than Imriel’s but still love them all. Have to catch up on Moirin!)

78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin (somehow haven’t gotten around to this one yet)

79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury

80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire (was entertaining, but didn’t blow me away.)

81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson (I’ve heard good things about this series. It’s not high on my priority list, because the last thing I need is to get wrapped up in another long fantasy series, but I’d like to read it someday)

82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde (LOVE this. I saw Fforde speak earlier in the year, he was hilarious!)

83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks (another author that I’ve never read but have been meaning to try)

84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart

85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson (another one that we have on our shelf but I haven’t tried yet)

86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher (mildly interested)

87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn

89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan (I’ve only read the first two, and liked them way better than I expected to, since I’m not really a big romance reader. There was enough substance to them besides the romance to keep me interested and I definitely plan on continuing with the series someday)

90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock (I read these so long ago that I barely remember them, except that I liked them. Doesn’t necessarily mean I’d like them today, since I was just in middle school at the time, but I’d like to try)

91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury (I love Bradbury’s short stories!)

92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley

93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge (love it. This is what space opera should be.)

94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov (I remember liking it, but don’t remember anything about it)

95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson

96. Lucifer's Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis (just bought a copy of this at a Borders closing sale and can’t wait to read it!)

98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville (dark doesn’t even begin to describe this one, but ooooh is it good)

99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony (somehow I missed these, though they seem to be a sort of rite of passage for fantasy readers!)

100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

current mood: content

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Friday, December 31st, 2010
9:52 am - 2010 in books
Last year I think I only posted this on Facebook. Going to do it both places this year, just for kicks.

Total book count in 2010: 76, not counting re-reads (77 if I manage to finish my current read before midnight, but that probably won't happen). More than I expected, actually, given that I barely had any energy at all to read during the first trimester.

January:
Favorite book: The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. Read for our faculty book club and wow, was it amazing. The way Stockett captured the individual voices of each POV character was impressive.
Least favorite book: Children of Dune, by Frank Herbert (3rd in the Dune series - I'd read the first one several times but never went on until now). I liked it, but the Dune books just seem to get more and more bizarre after the first and I couldn't quite motivate myself to pick up the next one. I will one of these days. Anyway, the book was good, not great, but I didn't read anything truly bad in January so it makes the list...

February:
Favorite book: Scales of Gold by Dorothy Dunnett, book 4 in her Niccolo series. OMG the ending of this one! I usually need to space out my Dunnett reads because as wonderful as they are, they require a lot of brainpower and I need a break afterwards, but I just HAD to go on to book 5 as soon as I finished this one. It's been my favorite of the series so far (I'm in the middle of the last book right now) - of course, they're all amazing. Runner-up: the Young Miles anthology by Lois Bujold.
Least favorite book: How High the Moon, by Sandra Kring. This was a FirstReads win on Goodreads. A cute YA story - nothing earth-shattering, but cute.

March:
Favorite book: Miles, Mystery, and Mayhem anthology by Bujold. I can't believe I had never read any of the Miles Vorkosigan books until now. They're such fun!
Least favorite book: none, really; all my March reads were 4- or 5-star ratings.

April:
Favorite book: Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I knew it wasn't a good idea to get involved in yet another unfinished epic fantasy series, but it was just too tempting, and it was SO good...anyway book 2 is coming out in a few months, can't wait!
Least favorite book: Chef, by Jaspreet Singh. Another Goodreads win, that I really was hoping to love - takes place in the Kashmir region, around the story of an apprentice chef in a military camp. I just couldn't get into it. It's rare that I don't finish a book, especially one that I got for free on the condition that I post a review, but I just couldn't do it.

May:
Favorite book: tie between Nation by Terry Pratchett (not Discworld, but with Pratchett's masterful ability to explore serious topics in hilariously funny ways) and Gaslight Dogs by Karin Lowachee (Arctic-inspired fantasy - here's hoping the sequel gets published!).
Least favorite book: Sure of You by Armistead Maupin (book 6 of Tales from the City). I blew through the entire series in about a week, and I really enjoyed reading them, but this last one made me really sad because of the way that one particular character developed - a character that I loved in the earlier books who turned into someone I just didn't like at all.

June:
Favorite book: To Lie with Lions, Dorothy Dunnett. More Niccolo. Runner-up: Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia McKillip. Love her writing.
Least favorite book: none.

July:
Favorite book: The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. Wow was I blown away by this one.
Least favorite book: Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. This one was disappointing, since I'd loved The Time Traveler's Wife. I loved the first half of the book and hated the way the plot developed in the second half.

August:
Favorite book: I only read two (very different) books in August, loved both of them - The Tower, The Zoo, and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart (shenanigans in the Tower of London) and Caprice and Rondo by Dorothy Dunnett (yet more Niccolo).
Least favorite book: N/A

September:
Favorite book: I only read ONE book in September (unheard of for me! That's what morning sickness will do to a gal...). Luckily it was a good one - Ships of Merior by Janny Wurts (second book in her Wars of Light & Shadow series)
Least favorite book: N/A

October:
Favorite book: Warhost of Vastmark by Janny Wurts - third book in the series
Least favorite book: nothing that was bad, but I read the Stories anthology edited by Neil Gaiman and it had a few stories in it that I disliked (especially the Michael Moorcock one - which was surprising to me).

November:
Favorite book: tie between Fugitive Prince by Janny Wurts (book 4) and Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Least favorite book: Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy, her pregnancy memoir that a friend lent to me. Meh. I didn't find it all that entertaining.

December:
Favorite book: Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay. LOVED IT.
Least favorite book: The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature by Daniel Levitin. I loved his first book (This is your Brain on Music) but this one was a little too speculative and all over the place, though he did have some interesting ideas.

Ta-da!

current mood: cheerful

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Sunday, October 3rd, 2010
8:43 pm - soup...mmm
So when the hubby was out of town last week, I got lazy one night and took myself to New England Soup Factory for dinner, where they had this AMAZING potato apple fennel soup. We got some nice fennel at the farmers market yesterday so I decided to attempt to recreate it. Of course it wasn't nearly as good as theirs (for starters, theirs was finished with heavy cream and I don't do that) but I was pretty happy with the way it came out for a first try!

I cut up about 5 (medium) potatoes, 3 macintosh apples, and a bulb of fennel, and simmered it in 4 cups of Trader Joe's chicken broth and a couple of glugs of white wine until everything was soft (~40 minutes), then used my immersion blender to puree it. It needed a little more sweetness when I tasted it so I put in about a tablespoon of brown sugar along with some salt & pepper. I finished it with a big dollop of plain fat free yogurt swirled in to give it some creaminess in the absence of the heavy cream :)

It turned out quite yummy and awesome for a chilly fall evening. Next time I'll use two fennel bulbs, since the fennel flavor was a little too subtle, and maybe use sweeter apples (golden delicious or something) to counteract the tanginess of the yogurt, but overall quite a successful experiment!

current mood: calm

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Friday, July 2nd, 2010
8:51 pm - Happy birthday, USA!
I don't have anything especially profound to say here, I just had to share the awesomeness of my new July 4th icon.

Now, back to packing. Moving on Monday. AAAAH!

current mood: busy

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Saturday, April 17th, 2010
4:55 pm - belated honeymoon planning
Since I couldn't take much time off in October right after the wedding (six months tomorrow! CRAZY!), we're taking a belated honeymoon this August and have just finished booking all of our accomodations. I CAN'T WAIT!!!

Here's the itinerary:
Italia!Collapse )

current mood: excited

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Tuesday, March 30th, 2010
12:05 pm - movie meme
I've been so good about not procrastinating on the 'net at work this year. I'm backsliding. What can ya do?

Swiped from jperceval:

Here's Entertainment Weekly's list of the top movies of the last 25 years. Go through their list and BOLD the ones you have seen, ITALICIZE those you love/would watch over and over again, STRIKE OUT those you dislike strongly or really would rather never see again. Put an * next to the ones you own.

lights, camera, action!Collapse )

current mood: cheerful

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Monday, July 20th, 2009
9:38 pm - yummmm
After a weekend camping with the family, we're at my parents' house for a week of wedding errands, visiting, and my shower, before going camping up north.

Dinner tonight with cocoasushigrrl and moochmooch, and we decided to cook instead of go out for both health and financial reasons. Teh yummy:

flank steak on the grill with balsamic-glazed grilled onions
roasted yukon gold potatoes
melon/cucumber salad

mmmmmmmmmmmm

and good company too :)

current mood: content

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Wednesday, July 15th, 2009
11:17 pm - great article
THIS is what I'm looking forward to for the rest of my life post-October-18th.

http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2009/07/15/traister_marriage/

:)

Packing to head out tomorrow for 2 1/2 weeks of camping/wedding planning/shower/more camping in Michigan!

current mood: busy

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Thursday, June 18th, 2009
2:40 pm - When boy parts turn into girl parts
OK, so I know I'm falling for the latest sneaky marketing trick from Tampax, but I can't help it, this is just too funny.

Read more...Collapse )

I'm plodding my way through the last few days of school (woo!) and then I promise a real update!

current mood: amused

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Thursday, May 7th, 2009
10:20 pm - Need cheering up?
Bookmark this video for when you are having a bad day:

I love to laugh...ha ha ha haCollapse )

Going to NYC this weekend so the parents can meet the parents....yikes!

current mood: bouncy

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8:32 am - Teller tells all
This is REALLY interesting:

http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/17-05/ff_neuroscienceofmagic?currentPage=1

current mood: busy

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Wednesday, May 6th, 2009
8:54 am - Classic literature + zombies = genius
I MUST have this book.

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Friday, May 1st, 2009
2:15 pm - MIT pranks
MIT students are funny:

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/gallery/100308_mit_hacks/

I remember the '99 hack, I think I have a picture of it somewhere in one of my college photo albums :)

TGIF!!!

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12:14 pm - Tonight -- round 2!!
Wings vs. Ducks, conference semifinals, starts tonight! Whee!

current mood: excited

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Thursday, April 30th, 2009
8:29 am - This is hilarious
Obama's Facebook feed for the first 100 days:

http://www.slate.com/id/2217225/

current mood: amused

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