Friday, December 30, 2011

My Year in Books (2011 version)

I set a goal of reading 100 books this year.  I only got to 67 but I'm feeling pretty satisfied with that number.  I enjoyed quite a few good books over the past year (in my opinion).  There were only a couple I really wished I hadn't picked off the library shelf.

My recommendations:

If you have time for just one book this year - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (By Rebecca Skloot).  A true story about how science and medical privacy have been affected by and influenced the lives of the Lacks family.

The self help book that has been most referenced by the other self help books I read this year - The 5 Love Languages (By Gary Chapman).  I think there's a little something for everyone in this book, whether you are happy with your personal relationships or not.

Need a gift for an up-coming graduate - A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future (By Michael J Fox)

Looking for a feel good, girly series - Try the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (By Ann Brashares)

Two books that I was not crazy about:  The Red Garden (By Alice Hoffman) and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (By Aimee Bender).  Both left me feeling like perhaps I missed something while I was reading them.  Who knows, maybe you'll enjoy them and share your thoughts with me.

The Complete 2011 list:
1. Carolyn Dufurrena - Fifty Miles from Home
2. Robert Goolrick - A Reliable Wife
3. Paulo Coehlo - Brida
4. Darrell Huff - How to Lie with Statistics
5. Eion Colfer - Artemis Fowl: The Atlantic Complex
6. Louis de Bernieres - Corelli's Mandolin
7. Stieg Larrson - The Girl Who Played with Fire
8. Kevin Leman - 7 things he'll never tell you but you need to know
9. Sarah Palin - America By Heart
10. Stieg Larrson - The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
11. Shannon Hale - Book of a Thousand Days
12. Kristin Hannah - Firefly Lane
13. Anna Quindlen - Every Last One
14. Will James - Smoky the Cowhorse
15. Jamie Ford - Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
16. Louis Sachar - Holes
17. Gary Chapman - The Five Love Languages
18. Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
19. Dale Carnegie - How to make Friends and Influence People
20. Brandon Mull - Beyonders: A World Without Heroes
21. Dean  Koontz - One Door Away from Heaven
22. Jane Austen - Persuasion
23. Arto Paasilinna - The Year of the Hare
24. Richard Adams - Watership Down
25. Jean Auel - The Land of Painted Caves
26. Erin McKean - The Secret Lives of Dresses
27. Alan Bradley - A Red Herring without Mustard
28. Michael Scott - The Magician
29. Michael Scott - The Sorceress
30. Jodi Picoult - My Sister's Keeper
31. Paulo Coehlo - The Zahir
32. Clare Vanderpool - Moon over Manifest
33. Karen Maitland - Company of Liars
34. Alice Hoffman - The Red Garden
35. Michael Scott - The Necromancer
36. David Ebershoff - The 19th Wife
37. Marisa de los Santos - Belong to Me
38. Kate Jacobs - Knit the Season
39. Frank McCourt - Angela's Ashes
40. Todd Burpo - Heaven is for Real
41. Elizabeth Berg - The Last Time I Saw You
42. Greg Mortenson - Stones into Schools
43. Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman - Good Omens
44. Alejandro Junger - Clean
45. Frank McCourt - 'Tis
46. Tina Fey - Bossypants
47. Ben Mezrich - The Accidental Billionaires
48. James Patterson - Cradle and All
49. Charles Martin - Chasing Fireflies
50. Christopher Moore - Island of the Sequined Love Nun
51. Rebecca Skloot - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
52. Rick Riordan - The 39 Clues Book 1 - The Maze of Bones
53. Maggie Stiefvater - Forever
54. Ann Brashares - My Name is Memory
55. Carlos Ruiz Zafon - The Shadow of the Wind
56. Aimee Bender - The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
57. Ann Brashares - The Second Summer of the Sisterhood
58. Ann Brashares - Girls in Pants - The Third Summer of the Sisterhood
59. Christopher Paolini - Inheritance
60. Jan Karon - In the Company of Others
61. Khaled Hosseini - The Kite Runner
62. Michael Scott - The Warlock
63. Michael J Fox - A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future
64. Philip Pullman - Lyra's Oxford
65. Philip Pullman - Once upon a time Up North
66. Ann Brashares - Forever in Blue - The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood
67. Meg Meeker - The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers

Scenes from this Christmas

Someone turned 4

Cookies were made

Little bit of fun was had

Newmans came to visit

Nerf guns happened.  Lots of nerf guns.

There were very happy children

And then we ate meat pie.  And it was delicious.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cookie days of one kind and another

One of our Newman family traditions around Christmas is for all the girls to get together and make cookies.  It's always a fun filled day with good food, hot drinks, a lot sugar, and some face-to-face family visiting before the holiday and hectic traveling begins.  Some years there are those that can't make it and they are always missed.

Kristine, Karyl, Noah, Nicole, Donna, Marsha, Kayla, Phyllis, Debbie,
Emmers and Zeke

Noah is new to cookie day this year (his birthday is Dec 24th) and we had our first ever best decorated sugar cookie contest.  Emmers won....hence the santa hat holiday cheermeister hat.

Burrito said he'd help with the no bake cookies as long as his hands didn't get dirty and as long as Kayla hand fed him tasty bits from the leftovers in the bowl.   Well played, burrito, well played.

We have been making new friends in our own neighborhood.  So I shared the super secret best, ever sugar cookie recipe and we had our own little decorating party. 

The only things missing this year was my favorite sister and red hots for snowman buttons.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Kite Runner

Do you know what a kite runner is?  A person who chases after the kites that have had their string cut and is free flying through the sky.

I guess I need to do some reading up on kites in general.  I'm from the kind of family that we used to get kites as gifts on Easter morning and after church services we'd pack a picnic lunch and head out to the salt flats to fly our new kites.  They were usually diamond shaped, brightly colored plastic deals with long spools of string to let loose and send our kites high.  It was fun but mostly the focus was on getting your kite up and keeping it there.

I do not quite understand this competitive kite flying.  Where the goal is to cut others' strings and be the last kite in the air.  Or the practice of chasing after the loose kites and keeping them as souvenirs.  I assume it's like finding a stray golf ball just outside the golf course fence or catching a foul ball at a baseball game.

All kite flying aside, The Kite Runner was a fabulous book.  Written by Khaled Hosseini and published in 2003.  It details the friendship of Amir and Hassan, two boys from different sides of the Afghanistan tracks.  It's set during the fall of Afghanistan's monarchy to the Russians, the fleeing of refugees to America, and the rise of the Taliban to power.
It's also the tale of Amir's struggles between honor and saving his own skin and how he comes to terms with the demons that haunt him at night to be good again.

I loved the book so much I'm afraid to watch the movie.  What if it's not as good? 
Has anyone watched the movie?  What do you recommend?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Eager Anticipation

A little girl hiding behind the Christmas tree (she really is the only one who can fit back there) with her diary, crayons and a letter to Santa Claus.


Me: I think we should cancel your birthday.

Burrito: No mom

Me:  But you are aren't a baby anymore and that makes me sad

Burrito:  Mom....babies don't even have teeth

(game does one argue with that)

Monday, December 19, 2011


This post could also be titled "Ugh! When trilogies turn into four books"

The last of The Inheritance Cycle, written by Christopher Paolini, is finally out.  It's been a long wait.  And you might have heard about how I feel about waiting...waiting gets my goat.  Seriously.

Write faster dang-it!!

I would much rather pick up a series at the end so that I can blow through them without stopping.  Unless it is something like Flavia De Luce.  Now there's a girl I love to wait for.  Each book is a stand alone entity.  Not like Brisingr which ends practically mid-battle.  Are you kidding me??  The books are great reads I just prefer they were more complete by themselves.

Eragon, the first book, was originally published in 2002.  Brisingr, the was-going-to-be-the-last-but-now-it's-not book, was published in 2008. 

And let's not even get started about the movie.  But the husband has a good point.  Now that the set is finished maybe someone will remake the first movie and do the rest up properly.  They have great potential.

What is it about you ask?  The short version is that they are quite like Lord of the Rings but with dragons added in.  So much so that while watching Return of the King last weekend I kept mixing up my character names between the two. 

Things in common:
vaults of souls needed to aid in the fighting
power being corrupt and needing to be destroyed before it can be restored
Men folk falling in love with elves
epic battles
creepy looking, evil bird creatures

You know...the usual. 

I ended up with a few unanswered questions that led me back to wikipedia when I finished reading.  While there, I realized that I should have done a refresher before I read Inheritance because there were a lot of side plots I had kind of forgotten about during all this waiting around I was forced to do. 

A word of advice:  Consider the audio version for this series, it's chalk full of funky spelled words and strange pronunciations.  You won't be sorry you did.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The last time...

The last time I got clobbered by a cold this wicked was 2000.  How do I remember?  Because I had just jumped onto the Harry Potter bandwagon.  The moment my last scantron bubble of the semester was darkened with my trusty No. 2 pencil, I collapsed into a pile of blankets, kleenex, and a nyquil induced haze. 

It was awful.  I didn't go to work for a full 8 days.  And I don't think I got out of bed for 7 of those days.  Between wakings and coughing I read the entire Goblet of Fire book cover to cover.

Except this time, there is a job that can't keep, and little people that need snuggling, but I do have a good book to keep me company. 


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