Monday, September 1, 2014

Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began

Maus, II: And Here My Troubles Began (Maus, #2)Maus, II: And Here My Troubles Began by Art Spiegelman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finished this book and just wanted there to be more. I love that even though it's told in an unconventional format, that it manages to be so genuine. It doesn't trivialize or glamorize the Holocaust. It doesn't make out the men and women that lived through it to be heroes. Maus II just tells their story. Incredibly written and drawn.

Allegiant

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)Allegiant by Veronica Roth
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Simply put, I am not a fan. I really liked Divergent. I mostly liked Insurgent. But I cannot endorse this one. I told my students this week that I would suggest reading the first one and stopping there. I still think Tris and Tobias are great characters. I just did not like the choppy narration and the convoluted plot lines that Allegiant seemed to serve up in every chapter. And the ending...I don't dare start that rant, so I'll stop here and save it for an in-person conversation where you can remember that I am actually a positive human being.

Happy reading!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Whew!

It's 4:25 on Friday afternoon. Everyone is excited and relieved when Friday rolls around, but there's extra relief this Friday. The first week of school is over. We did it. One week down. Thirty-five to go. It's a privilege to work at Dougherty Valley High School. Is it perfect? No. Were there moments of near meltdown? Of course. But there were moments of delight and peace. School starts, the freshmen appear, and I am home.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Delicious Plans

Seth and I were walking through Yountville in Napa Valley this past Saturday and were talking about how delicious our lunch from Ad Hoc had just been. We realized that the past three weekends, we have eaten wonderful meals out. 

July 5 - Sunnyside Grill in Tahoe City. Best bite: Hula Pie
July 12 - Mundaka in Carmel. Best bite: Pan Tomate (bread lightly covered in pureed tomatoes, salt, and olive oil)
(also pictured are Chef Miller's "Ugly Tomatoes" - heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella in a saffron gastrique)
July 19 - Ad Hoc's Addendum in Yountville. Best bite: buttermilk fried chicken. 
This is not an all inclusive list of our delicious dining forays, but it is the food we've traveled for. Can't wait for the next couple weekends. We have more deliciousness in mind....hence the eight miles on the trail this morning. Need to earn all the delectable food. Happy eating and happy exercising!

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Shining Girls

The Shining Girls: A NovelThe Shining Girls: A Novel by Lauren Beukes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't normally seek out books that center around violent characters.  I read Bohjalian's "Light in the Ruins" because a good friend gave it to me as a gift. I read Flynn's "Gone Girl" for a book club. Yet again, I decided to read a book with a friend, hence "The Shining Girls" - a book that is about a time-traveling serial killer. It's horrifying. It's graphic. And yet it's so well constructed. Beukes is smart and deftly tells a story with an antagonist that is beyond feeling to the point that you get chills every time he fixates on his next victim.

The reason I like this book has everything to do with Beukes' characterization of Harper's victims. Those women, who buck against the status-quo, who work tirelessly to achieve their goals, who are flawed but genuine, compel the reader forward. I hated Harper from the beginning and thought that maybe I wouldn't read this story - how could I? He disembowels his victims, and Beukes tells us exactly how he does that. But I was slowly getting caught up in Kirby and Zora and the architect from the 50s and the social worker and....

I can't tell you to read this book. It's unsettling and profane, but it's crafted in a way that you're left thinking about it after you're done. Beukes commentary in the reader's guide in the final pages convinced me why this was a story that needed to be told. And for better or worse, I'm glad that I stuck it through to the very end.

Happy reading!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Thin Mint Milkshakes

Seth and I sometimes eat like we're kids whose parents have left for the evening and we now have full reign of the kitchen. We abandon all responsible choices aka anything that resembles a well-balanced meal, and we settle in for French fries and shakes. The combination is too delicious not to just enjoy those two things. I wanted to let you in on a little secret - the thing that makes our shakes better than any homemade shakes I've had before.

The secret: we don't add milk to the shakes. Most of my life I have been putting ice cream in a blender, pouring in the amount of milk that will give me the texture I want, and calling it a yummy day. I'd like to say that Seth and I consciously decided that milk dilutes our ice creamy goodness, but genius is typically born of not having what you need....in this case, milk. Our solution that night many moons ago - put a little ice cream in the microwave and then add that as our liquid to the ice cream in the blender. I promise, once you do it, you'll never go back. The shakes really are that much better.

As for the Thin Mints for a Thin Mint milkshake (versus the vanilla ones we almost always have), just add Girl Scout Thin Mints until you reach the level of minty wonderfulness that you were hoping for. I keep a box of Thin Mints in the freezer just for this purpose.

Happy summer!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Counting the Seconds - Part Two

I always think it's worth noting how different reality can be from what we envision. Don't get me wrong, I had a delightful Friday night with Seth, but it was a little different from what I wrote would happen yesterday. We did make macaroni salad. We did watch Friends, but we didn't quite make it to shakes and a movie. Don't think we got up to anything too saucy or dramatic. Somewhere in the third episode when Phoebe was choosing between the fireman and the teacher, the week took its toll, and Seth fell asleep. He was out - I, at first, was just curled next to him thinking he'd wake up soon. No, no. He was dead asleep. So I reached the other remote with my foot and turned on Top Chef courtesy of Huluplus. Two episodes later, Seth came back to life. There was laughing and silliness, and then we both fell asleep. That is a hot Friday night. ;)