Monday, February 28, 2011

The Fates Will Find Their Way - Hannah Pittard

The Fates Will Find Their Way: A Novel
The Fates Will Find Their Way
By Hannah Pittard

I just realized that I never posted my review of The Fates Will Find Their Way.  I finished it weeks ago and wrote my review immediately but somehow (I blame it on the fact that I started a new job so my routines are all out of whack) it never made it to posting.  It was a great book and I actually want to go back and read it again after rereading my review because I remember different things I loved about it.  

The Fates Will Find Their Way is about the disappearance of a girl named Nora and how it affects a group of boys who knew her, as well as their lives years later. They are so tied to what may or may not have happened to Nora that they imagine different scenarios which could have happened on the night Nora went missing. All the scenarios are so real you forget you are reading about their hopes and fears.

The story itself is so tragically real. It is what I think would happen to the friends of a teen who goes missing. They would imagine the worst case scenario but also imagine the things she could be doing if she were alive after that night. The boys ponder various stories which always lead to the loss of her and they allow their hope to leave them grasping at straws. They live for the unknown, for the possibility that she may be alive and happy or even alive and regretting leaving (if she left by choice).

This book was like an adult, male version of a Judy Blume story. If you took Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret and extended it through the adult years and then made it about boys instead of Margaret you would have The Fates Will Find Their Way. This is a story that makes you look at what you are focused on in your own life as you read about what the boys begin to learn about themselves.

I loved the entire story but something more specific that I can’t not mention is that I LOVED the ever-present phone tree.

**Source: ARC from publisher

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Harry Potter Party - Games

Couples hard at work, they took it VERY seriously.
My biggest concern while I was planning my Harry Potter party was that everyone would arrive in their awesome costumes and we would end up sitting around staring at each other until midnight so I came up with some trivia as an ice breaker.  I knew I wouldn't be good at thinking up the trivia questions so I turned to my good friend google, and google came through.  There are a ton of sites out there with questions and after quizzing myself (I did amazingly well, thanks for asking) I picked my favorite questions and put them on a single sheet of card stock which I rolled up, tied with black ribbon, and placed in every HP favor wine glass. 

Awesome Luna glasses.
Everyone was excited to start the trivia...until they started reading the questions.  They immediately started complaining that the questions were too difficult.  Well...I was so excited in my making of the trivia that I didn't think about the fact that the questions I answered had a multiple choice option that I failed to include...oops!  They don't know that, so don't tell.  So we decided that they would team up as couples and complete it that way. 

Trivia winners!
Luckily, I had prizes for both a girl and a boy (the girls prize was WAY better).  Team Ron/Ginny and Luna/Tom Riddle tied (or were undecided on the winner due to a technicality so they agreed that Ron and Luna would collect the prizes (which was perfect because I picked up the girls prize with Luna in mind).  Ron received a homemade Head Boy badge and Luna won a pair of awesomely perfect Luna glasses that I found at Party City!

 The other thing I had planned was a Harry Potter themed version of celebrity (my new favorite party game!).  I have heard of many different ways to play it so allow me to tell you they way that I play (aka the correct way).

  1. Every player is given 3 slips of paper on which they will write the name of a famous person/character (for this game they were restricted to HP people
  2. The slips are placed in a hat/bowl/jar and people divided into 2 teams (we did girls vs boys)
  3. Each player has one minute to give clues to help their team guess as many names as possible, each name is 1 point
  4. There are 3 rounds, each going through all the names once 
Round 1: say anything you want except for what is written on the slip
Round 2: charades, act it out, no sounds
Round 3: you can say 1 and only 1 word so choose wisely, by this time you have already gone through all the names so it isn't impossible but the stickler is if you pick a word that sucks and they can't figure it out you have to stand there until your minute is done.  Some people play that you can skip it and count that point against you but I think my way is more fun 

      Ginny getting down and dirty with round 2 I think she was doing a crab for Crabbe and Goyle...Goyle was the word one can remember what he was acting out!
      As you can see from the pictures above, I had the Harry Potter movies playing in the background which was actually really fun during the trivia because couple answers came up. 

      Wednesday, February 23, 2011

      "Waiting On" Wednesday

      Jill at Breaking the Spine hosts "Waiting on" Wednesday, a place where we can voice the books we are patiently - okay probably impatiently - waiting to be released.

       Deliverance From Evil: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials
      by Frances Hill
      Pub. date: March 3, 2011

      From publisher's website:

      Deliverance From Evil: A Novel of the Salem Witch TrialsSalem, Massachusetts, Winter 1692: In the parsonage of Reverend Samuel Parris, two young girls are seated by the fire and play at fortune-telling as snow falls softly outside. What starts as a game sends one of the girls into a hysterical trance, and a small town begins its descent into madness. Accusations of witchcraft would destroy lives and old scores would be settled. Over 150 people would be arrested and imprisoned, with even more accused of consorting with the devil.

      Deliverance from Evil, Frances Hill brings her deep historical and political understanding together with her honed skills as a novelist to produce a picture of the Salem witch trials both realistic and emotional.

      FRANCES HILL is a historian, novelist and journalist whose previous books include
      Out of Bounds, A Delusion of Satan, The Salem Witch Trials Reader, Hunting for Witches, and Such Men Are Dangerous. Frances Hill lives in Connecticut.

      Thursday, February 17, 2011

      Harry Potter Party - Food

      Oh delicious food...I decided to keep the food simple and not stress too much about the Harry Potter theme.  I just chose a few things to highlight and the rest were your normal party munchies.

      My friend Tonks was amazing enough to make chocolate eggs for the occasion and they were so happy...all that was missing was the Dumbledore card.

      This picture was taken the next morning, which is why there are bananas on the table...I couldn't let my guests go without breakfast.
      Of course I had a bowl of Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans.  I was actually surprised that people actually ate them.  I kept hearing random comments after someone was daring enough to try..."yeah, that color is safe, its apple" and "blech, that was dirt! How do they actually get it to taste like dirt?"

      Sample if you dare.  And yes, those are HP trading cards.  I had no idea where they came from, I just found them in a closet right before the party and decided to throw them out there.

      I picked up some white chocolate (even though I hate white chocolate but it was to only one with a gold wrapper) Lindt chocolates and added wings to make them snitches...

      Catch them before they fly away...
      And finally, I re-watched the first movie before the party and it gave me the idea for the cake!  Don't judge how messy the writing is.  It is hard to write with the tiny frosting tubes and I didn't write the words until just before serving it (so a long time after I had started drinking...). 
      Homemade ice cream cake!
      And now I really want some more of that cake...

      Wednesday, February 16, 2011

      "Waiting On" Wednesday

      Jill at Breaking the Spine hosts "Waiting on" Wednesday, a place where we can voice the books we are patiently - okay probably impatiently - waiting to be released.

      by Tina Fey
      Pub. date: April 5, 2011

      From Amazon:

      BossypantsBefore Liz Lemon, before "Weekend Update," before "Sarah Palin" -- Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.

      She has seen both these dreams come true.

      At last, Tina Fey's story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately half-hearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon -- from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.

      Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we've all suspected: you're no one until someone calls you bossy.

      Monday, February 14, 2011

      Mailbox Monday

      Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page.

      Thank you Library of Clean Reads for hosting this month's Mailbox Monday blog tour.

      Check out the blog and post all the new books you acquired last week.

      My Mailbox Monday this week is a little off the normal format.  Technically only 2 books arrived in my

      mailbox last week, however, Friday was such an awesome day that I have to show you everything I picked up.  I went to the library after work because I got the email that I had a book and an audiobook on hold and while I was there I checked out the audiobook shelf they had set-up and found 2 more audiobooks that I wanted to I left the library with 1 book and 3 audiobooks.  I thought I would check the mail on the way into the house and my mom had told me the day before that I would be receiving a package from her but I had no idea what it was so when I saw the package from BN I knew it was from her.  There was also a package from my mother-in-law that I was not expecting.  THEN, when I finally got to my front door, with my arms full, there was a book from a publisher on my porch.

      My awesome MIL sent me See's dark chocolate (even thought I hate V-Day).  And my mom borrowed Eat Pray, Love from me forever ago-in fact I talked about it in my original post-and apparently she has given up on ever giving it back to me because she bought me a new one.

      I also received...

      Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth  by Lisa Napoli (publisher)

      From publisher's website:

      Lisa Napoli was in the grip of a crisis, dissatisfied with her life and her work as a radio journalist. When a chance encounter with a handsome stranger presented her with an opportunity to move halfway around the world, Lisa left behind cosmopolitan Los Angeles for a new adventure in the ancient Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan—said to be one of the happiest places on earth.

      Long isolated from industrialization and just beginning to open its doors to the modern world, Bhutan is a deeply spiritual place, devoted to environmental conservation and committed to the happiness of its people—in fact, Bhutan measures its success in Gross National Happiness rather than in GNP. In a country without a single traffic light, its citizens are believed to be among the most content in the world. To Lisa, it seemed to be a place that offered the opposite of her fast-paced life in the United States, where the noisy din of sound-bite news and cell phones dominate our days, and meaningful conversation is a rare commodity; where everyone is plugged in digitally, yet rarely connects with the people around them.

      Thousands of miles away from everything and everyone she knows, Lisa creates a new community for herself. As she helps to start Bhutan’s first youth-oriented radio station, Kuzoo FM, she must come to terms with her conflicting feelings about the impact of the medium on a country that had been shielded from its effects. Immersing herself in Bhutan’s rapidly changing culture, Lisa realizes that her own perspective on life is changing as well—and that she is discovering the sense of purpose and joy that she has been yearning for.

      In this smart, heartfelt, and beautifully written book, sure to please fans of transporting travel narratives and personal memoirs alike, Lisa Napoli discovers that the world is a beautiful and complicated place—and comes to appreciate her life for the adventure it is.

      Thursday, February 10, 2011

      Harry Potter Party - Butterbeer

      Ahh Butterbeer!  You can't have a Harry Potter Party without it!  I was torn between wanting to make the recipe similar to the park (although ours would include alcohol), making it how I imagined it to taste, and making it drinkable for a wide range of people.  What we ended up with was a bit of a compromise between all three but less of how I imagine it when I read the books because I don't think I will ever come close to that without magic.

      I mentioned that I was going to be trying recipes to my step-brother and his wife (Ron/Vaughn and Ginny/Ryanne) and they invited my husband (Mike) and I over to have a sample party.  I couldn't say no to that!  I searched many, MANY sites trying to plan the recipes that we would sample and finally thought I found the one that we would use.  It was simple (only included club soda and butterscotch schnapps) but knowing that we would want to sample a few I brought a variety of possible mixers to their house.  There was one recipe that I was going to stay away from because it was too detailed and I didn't have the brain capacity after all the other planning (I mean, it included using a candy thermometer...come on!).  When I got over to their house, Vaughn had made the the recipe I was trying to avoid and I ended up having to make it at the party because we altered it but still used all the parts of the recipe.
      Making the whipped cream topping

      The best site that I found for the recipes is Wizarding World Park.
      Scroll down to the bottom and "Butterbeer Recipe #1" is the one we used - minus the cream soda (you'll see) and substitute dark rum for the rum extract (it was New Year's...we weren't wasting our time with extract).  The "brown stuff" that I refer to later is the brown sugar/butter recipe and we topped it with the whipping cream and rum and then stirred it in to make a nice frothy head.

      And now...this is how we created the recipe that I made for the party...with our super special secret ingredient...

      Once upon a time...sometime in November...4 people stood around an island in a kitchen sampling beverages.  It had been a long night, full of mistakes and bad horrible mixtures.  Until...

      Mike: Aak this is nasty
      Jess: It's too sweet
      Vaughn: What if we take out the brown stuff and add only 1 shot of schnapps but added some rum...
      Before the whipped cream topping


      Mike: This tastes like ass
      Jess: Add whipped cream?
      Vaughn: No, add some more schnapps
      Jess: Vaughn, you're drinking out of Mike's cup
      Vaughn: Which is my cup...oh who cares...
      Jess: Yours is the 49er one, Mike's is this bluish one
      Mike: They are all bad, let's dump them out and start over
      Jess: It needs more carbonation, but not something too sweet
      Ryanne: How about champagne?

      At this point we'd had enough to drink to think this would actually turn out well.

      After the whipped cream topping

       Jess: Oh God no!
      Mike: That's just not good at all

      Jess and Ryanne drink some straight champagne to clear the palette.

      Jess: It's still too sweet.  We need something with carbonation but we need to be able to add the schnapps and some brown stuff and not have it be too sweet.  What if...hey...guys...what if we use beer?
      Ryanne: That's what I said in the beginning!!
      Jess: Coors Light
      Vaughn: Hang on, I have some in the garage
      Jess: Shocking...
      Mike: Oh I'm excited about this...


      Jess: This is it
      Mike: This is actually good
      Ryanne: And I said beer from the beginning.
      Vaughn: What if we add some of the cream stuff to the top?
      Jess: That's even better!

      And there you have the extremely scientific way we created our recipe for Butterbeer.

      Final recipe:
      1 can beer
      2 T "brown stuff"
      1 heaping scoop whipped cream mixture

      The secret ingredient.

      Tuesday, February 8, 2011

      The Book of Tomorrow - Cecelia Ahern

      The Book of Tomorrow: A Novel
      The Book of Tomorrow
      By Cecelia Ahern

      The Book of Tomorrow is about a diary which reveals the entry that is going to be written tomorrow. It ends up in the hands of Tamara after her dad dies and she has to move, with her mom, to her aunt and uncle's house. Although her Aunt Rosaleen has an extremely eerie way about her (Tamara appropriately nicknamed her aunt and uncle the Deliverance Duo) a deeper mystery unfolds and Tamara does what she can to get to the bottom of it.

      This book left me with mixed feelings. The thing that struck me from the moment I picked it was surprise that it was listed as adult fiction and not YA and I know other people have also commented on the same thing. Tamara was a teenager with some typical smart-ass teen remarks. At times they were entertaining and almost charming but they began to get annoying and overdone. I had the same problem with the repetitive phrases that she was continuously pointing out. They were, at first, funny and added to her personality but I eventually just got sick of reading them.

      The book had a bit of a slow pace throughout and then everything just exploded at the end but throughout the story I fully enjoyed Sister Ignatius. She had the best personality and I just wanted to be her friend. Sister Ignatius's hilarious personality was a perfect contrast to the eeriness that hung over the rest of the story and both kept me curious to find out how everything would end. I would have to say, overall, it was good, not great.

      **Source: Publisher

      Sunday, February 6, 2011

      Mailbox Monday

      Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page.

      Thank you Library of Clean Reads for hosting this month's Mailbox Monday blog tour.

      Check out the blog and post all the new books you acquired last week.

      Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage, and Dirty Dishes by Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson (from publisher)

      From Barnes and Noble:

      Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage, and Dirty DishesAre you happy in your marriage—except for those weekly spats over who empties the dishwasher more often? Not a single complaint—unless you count the fact that you haven’t had sex since the Bush administration? Prepared to be there in sickness and in health—so long as it doesn’t mean compromising? Be honest: Ever lay awake thinking how much more fun married life used to be?

      If you’re a member of the human race, then the answer is probably “yes” to all of the above. Marriage is a mysterious, often irrational business. Making it work till death do you part—or just till the end of the week—isn’t always easy. And no one ever handed you a user’s manual.
      Until now. With Spousonomics, Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson offer something new: a clear-eyed, rational route to demystifying your disagreements and improving your relationship. The key, they propose, is to think like an economist.
      That’s right: an economist.
      Economics is the study of resource allocation, after all. How do we—as partners in a society, a business, or a marriage—spend our limited time, money, and energy? And how do we allocate these resources most efficiently? Spousonomics answers these questions by taking classic economic concepts and applying them to the domestic front. For example:

      • Arguing all night isn’t a sign of a communication breakdown; you’re just extremely loss-averse—and by refusing to give an inch, you’re risking even greater losses.
      • Stay late at the office, or come home for dinner? Be honest about your mother-in-law, or keep your mouth shut and smile? Let the cost-benefit analysis make the call.
      • Getting your spouse to clean the gutters isn’t a matter of nagging or guilt-tripping; it’s a question of finding the right incentives.
      • Being “too busy” to exercise or forgetting your anniversary (again): your overtaxed memory and hectic schedule aren’t to blame—moral hazard is.
      • And when it comes to having more sex: merely a question of supply and demand!

      Spousonomics cuts through the noise of emotions, egos, and tired relationship clich├ęs. Here, at last, is a smart, funny, refreshingly realistic, and deeply researched book that brings us one giant leap closer to solving the age-old riddle of a happy, healthy marriage.

      Friday, February 4, 2011

      Harry Potter Party - Decorations

      Earlier this week I told you about my Harry Potter Party and all the amazing characters who showed up.  Now I get to tell you about my decorations.  I had so much fun trying to make the party feel like a Harry Potter Party and not just some party where we dressed up like Harry Potter characters.

      I was really excited to have an actual reason to buy HP things and not have my husband constantly asking why we needed them so I figured it would be the perfect time to buy these amazing movie posters I found.
      I'm in love with my posters! Yes they stayed up permanently after the party.

      If you can't tell by the picture, the one on the left is from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and it has the boats pulling up to the castle and it says "the magic begins soon" (that's my favorite part) and the one on the right is from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and it is the castle on fire with the words "it all ends here" (that is my second favorite part and holy crap I can't wait for the last movie!). 

      I made little hats for the house elves to find so they could be free.  I originally meant for them to be used as a wine glass rings so we wouldn't get our glasses mixed up but I figured out something else.

      The table with all the party favors.
      I picked up wine glasses from the dollar store for everyone and used my husband's paint pens (the red and gold were dried up - come on those were the most important colors!) to write "HP 2011" and a lightening bolt and then all the guests were able to write their names on their glasses as they arrived.  My husband (Ron) thought it would be stupid to use the character names instead of our real names (he thought he was too cool for all this...he also thought he was too cool to die his hair red but I convinced him otherwise) but as soon as my step-brother showed up with Ron's wand he was all into it!

      My wine glass with my name on it.
      My work friend (Tonks) told me I should hang candles from the ceiling.  At first I thought I would never be able to pull it off but it turned out to be so amazing!  I found some reasonably priced flameless candles, fishing line, and some awesome mini hooks with the easy remove tabs and I was set!

      Lights on the ceiling of the Great Hall
      Advise on hanging lights from the ceiling...

      1.      don’t let the husband take them down 
      2.      If the husband tries to take them down, he will take off part of ceiling so don’t let the husband take them down
      3.      don’t place them in a spot that has apparently been patched and then repainted before you moved in
      4.      don’t drop them...although they seem to be plastic, they will shatter

      Wednesday, February 2, 2011

      "Waiting On" Wednesday

      Jill at Breaking the Spine hosts "Waiting on" Wednesday, a place where we can voice the books we are patiently - okay probably impatiently - waiting to be released.

      Darkest Mercy (Wicked Lovely)
      by Melissa Marr
      Pub. date: February 22. 2011

      From author's website:

      The Summer King is missing; the Dark Court is bleeding; and a stranger walks the streets of Huntsdale, his presence signifying the deaths of powerful fey.

      Darkest Mercy (Wicked Lovely)Aislinn tends to the Summer Court, searching for her absent king and yearning for Seth. Torn between his new queen and his old love, Keenan works from afar to strengthen his court against the coming war. Donia longs for fiery passion even as she coolly readies the Winter Court for battle. And Seth, sworn brother of the Dark King and heir to the High Queen, is about to make a mistake that could cost his life.

      Love, despair, and betrayal ignite the Faery Courts, and in the final conflict, some will win . . . and some will lose everything.

      The thrilling conclusion to Melissa Marr's New York Times bestselling Wicked Lovely series will leave readers breathless.

      Tuesday, February 1, 2011

      My Harry Potter Party!!

      It has now been a month since my Harry Potter themed New Year's Eve Party and I still haven't posted anything about it (which is just pathetic) so I am designating February as the month of my Harry Potter Party!  Let me start by telling you how this all began...

      Last year, while I was sitting in NC 3,000 away from all my Harry Potter obsessed friends,  I decided that I really wanted to throw a Harry Potter themed Halloween party.  I mentioned it to another HP obsessed work friend this year after I moved  back to CA and we started throwing around ideas.  Initially, I wanted to have it on Halloween but that conflicted with too many other parties so I planned on having a Christmas party.  I began imagining all the glorious, snow-covered Harry Potterness but December quickly became so busy that there was not a good weekend to have the party.  Eventually December 31st was decided on and I set out to finally throw this awesome party. 

      Since I started planning this party over a year ago, I spent a lot of time on the internet checking out anything I came across.  I had a pretty good handle on my decorations but I was really hoping to find some games and recipes.  The thing that I found and was disappointed about was that anything for an adult Harry Potter party was few and far between.  Don't get me wrong, I loved checking out the cute ideas for the kids parties but they just weren't what I was looking for.  In all my searching (ok...most of it was spent looking at the incredible results of a google image search of "Harry Potter cakes") I did finally come across a handful of amazing sites.  I was so excited when I finally found Britta's amazing Hogwarts Celebration.  Britta's site is so detailed that I didn't even care about using any of her ideas, I just wanted to read through it all over and over until I could pretend I was at her party.  I would constantly mosey on over to her site when I was overwhelmed and just wanted to be inspired with how awesome a Harry Potter party could turn out.  In the end, we had a blast and how could we not with these guests...

      From left to right: Ron Weasley, Tom Riddle, Luna Lovegood, Harry Potter, Fleur Delacour, Ginny Weasley, Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks, and Hermione Granger