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  • WELCOME!

    This is my little corner of the world where I can do whatever I want...review some of my favorite (and not so favorite) books, whine about yet another gray sky, or just share a little of what it means to live in the Pacific Northwest after a lifetime of living in the sun.

    Reading As you spend time on my blog, you may notice that my reading tastes are a bit eclectic. I used to be what I call a "book snob". That was before I began work on my master's degree and needed light recreational reading and discovered that while some books might not be "critically acclaimed", they could still be some great fun to read! Now I read a little bit of everything.

    Writing One of my lifelong dreams (besides meeting John Taylor from 80's Duran Duran fame) has been write the next great American novel . I'm sure many of you share this dream (you might even share my dream of meeting John Taylor, who knows). I've always been afraid to start writing. I put "writing" in the sub-title of the blog hoping that it will force me to begin writing something or else I will have to crawl away in shame...

    Living I'll also be sharing stories about my experiences living and parenting in the PNW. If you're expecting great tips on how to organize your schedule or how to prepare gourmet meals on a shoestring budget...sorry, you won't find that here. I am chronically messy, chronically disorganized, and chronically planning gourmet meals that never get prepared. It's just going to be me...sharing my trials and tribulations of not only leaving 365 days of sunshine for 350 days of gray skies but also the oh so fun adventure of parenting two "tweens" who think they know more than me.

Book Review: The Fortune Hunter

Title:   The Fortune Hunter
Author:   Daisy Goodwin
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Source:  Publisher
Rating:  4
Locate It: Amazon or Powell’s

 Synopsis:  

In 1875, Sisi, the Empress of Austria is the woman that every man desires and every woman envies.

Beautiful, athletic and intelligent, Sisi has everything – except happiness. Bored with the stultifying etiquette of the Hapsburg Court and her dutiful but unexciting husband, Franz Joseph, Sisi comes to England to hunt. She comes looking for excitement and she finds it in the dashing form of Captain Bay Middleton, the only man in Europe who can outride her. Ten years younger than her and engaged to the rich and devoted Charlotte, Bay has everything to lose by falling for a woman who can never be his. But Bay and the Empress are as reckless as each other, and their mutual attraction is a force that cannot be denied.

Full of passion and drama, THE FORTUNE HUNTER tells the true story of a nineteenth century Queen of Hearts and a cavalry captain, and the struggle between love and duty.

My Thoughts:

I just finished The Fortune Hunter and I have to say that it was an enjoyable read.  Daisy Goodwin took her characters from three real people who’s lives intersected in the late 19th century.  Through Daisy’s imagination, we take a front seat to watch the somewhat scandalous love triangle between Empress Elizabeth of Austria, her hunting pilot, Bay Middleton, and an orphaned heiress.

The Fortune Hunter is full of great details about fox hunting, photography, and life in general during the Victorian era.  I think my favorite scene was a meeting between the Empress of Austria and Queen Victoria as they both attempted to “one-up” the other behind their cordial smiles.  I found Daisy Goodwin’s character of Sisi (the empress) to be consistent with what I know of her from history and actually found it a bit more touching knowing what the future held for her a few years after this story ends.

This is not deep or heavy historical fiction.  It leans more towards a sort of historically based chick-lit which makes it a perfect read for the last few weeks of summer.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher which in no way affects my review.  This review is my honest opinion of this book.

Goodbye to Robin Williams: A Discussion on Depression & Suicide

As I’m sure you know, Robin Williams committed suicide this week.  According to his publicist, he had been battling a deep depression.  Having experienced depression myself, my heart ached to think of this amazingly funny and caring man being so lost in depression that he was drawn to this permanent solution.

Huffington Post recently published this article:  There’s Nothing Selfish About Suicide

The article got me thinking, especially when I read the statistic that 750,000 people attempt suicide each year. That number is staggering. Yet depression and other types mental illness still have a stigma attached to them. People still think they can “shake” depression if they just have enough faith or are strong enough. I have run into many people who look down on someone taking medications for depression. Come on…you wouldn’t look down on an asthmatic using an inhaler or a person taking antibiotics for a bacterial infection. It should be the same when a person has depression…there is medication to help.

I don’t know whether Robin Williams was taking medication but I do know that no one should judge him. To feel like suicide was his best option, he had to have been in such a dark place that distorted his view of everything. A darkness that few of us (except maybe the 750,000 who have attempted suicide this year and the 30,000 who succeeded) will ever experience.

Mental illness is a real thing. It does not mean you that you are weak or faithless or “crazy”. Depression is an illness like cancer. It not only affects the person with depression but everyone around them. Depression kills people, it destroys families, it slowly takes the joy out of life.

Robin’s death is tragic. He was one of the world’s funniest men yet he battled not only addiction (often times a symptom of depression) but a deep depression that few knew about. If anything can come out of his death, please let it be a more open and honest discussion about depression. And please, let it build compassion in those who have never suffered from it.

Goodby, Robin.   You will be deeply missed.

Cookbook Review: My Irish Table

Title:   My Irish Table
Author:   Cathal Armstrong & David Hagedorn
Genre:   Cookbook
Source:   Publisher
Rating:  5
Locate It: Powells or Amazon

 Synopsis:  

The debut cookbook from Cathal Armstrong featuring 130 recipes showcasing modern Irish fare, along with stories about Armstrong’s journey from Dublin to Washington, DC, and becoming an internationally recognized four-star chef, the owner of seven successful food and drink establishments, and a leader in the sustainable-food movement.

With its moderate climate and amazing natural resources, Ireland is a modern-day Eden, boasting lush, bountiful produce, world-renowned dairy, plentiful seafood, and grass-fed meats. In My Irish Table, sustainable food movement leader and four-star chef Cathal Armstrong celebrates the food of his homeland and chronicles his culinary journey from Dublin to Washington DC, where he runs seven beloved and critically lauded restaurants.
Featuring 130 delicious recipes—from Kerrygold Butter-Poached Lobster with Parsnips to Irish Stew, Shepherd’s Pie, and Mam’s Apple Pie—My Irish Table draws on Armstrong’s Irish upbringing as well as his professional experience and French culinary training. In his hands, Irish food is comforting yet elegant, rustic yet skillful, and My Irish Table invites you into his kitchen to explore the vibrant traditions and rich culinary landscape of the Emerald Isle.

My Thoughts:

I have a cookbook obsession.  Although I have all types of cookbooks (vegan, paleo, Indian, Mexican, Italian, etc.) I seem to be especially drawn to Irish cookbooks.  As obsessed as I am with Irish cookbooks, I am also very picky and will leave books on the shelves if they don’t match my requirements (great photos, traditional Irish cuisine, and engaging stories).

My Irish Table just may become my favorite Irish cookbook.  Cathal Armstrong is an Irish immigrant who worked hard to rise in the culinary field eventually opening  a number of restaurants around Washingtone D.C.  My Irish Table is full of Cathal Armstrong’s memories of growing up in Dublin within a typical Irish family.  In addition, he takes us step by step on his personal journey as he finds his way into adulthood and restaurant ownership.

The recipes in this cookbook are amazing and range from the traditional Shepherd’s Pie to an elegant Poached Lobster with Parsnips.   My Irish Table would be an excellent addition to any cook’s library.

*I personally received a copy of My Irish Table from the publishers and Blogging For Books.  My review is my honest opinion.

Benedict Cumberbatch Alert: A New Audiobook

photo by IGN

Have you heard the big Cumberbatch news?  Benedict Cumberbatch will be recording an unabridged audio version of William Golding’s Spire.  I’ve never read Spire, a book about one man’s desire to add a tall spire to his church’s building, but if Benedict reads it, I’m sure I’ll love it.  To be honest, if Benedict Cumberbatch read the phone book, I’d probably rate it 5 stars.

According to The Guardian, the audiobook will be released on September 7.  That’s one month from now!

And, because no Cumberbatch post would ever be complete without a Sherlock photo…..

Book Feature & Giveaway: The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin

Title:  The Fortune Hunter: A Novel
Author:  Daisy Goodwin
Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Locate It:
 Amazon

A new book by Daisy Goodwin was published this week and I am dying to read it.  Unfortunately, my copy of, The Fortune Hunter, was packed up in a box when we moved and I won’t be able to read it until after our home renovation is complete later this month.  As I was looking forward to reading and reviewing The Fortune Hunter this month but am unable to, the wonderful publishers over at St. Martin’s Press are allowing me to giveaway a copy to one lucky reader (USA only)!

 Synopsis:  

Empress Elizabeth of Austria, known as Sisi, is the Princess Diana of nineteenth-century Europe. Famously beautiful, as captured in a portrait with diamond stars in her hair, she is unfulfilled in her marriage to the older Emperor Franz Joseph. Sisi has spent years evading the stifling formality of royal life on her private train or yacht or, whenever she can, on the back of a horse.

Captain Bay Middleton is dashing, young, and the finest horseman in England. He is also impoverished, with no hope of buying the horse needed to win the Grand National—until he meets Charlotte Baird. A clever, plainspoken heiress whose money gives her a choice among suitors, Charlotte falls in love with Bay, the first man to really notice her, for his vulnerability as well as his glamour. When Sisi joins the legendary hunt organized by Earl Spencer in England, Bay is asked to guide her on the treacherous course. Their shared passion for riding leads to an infatuation that jeopardizes the growing bond between Bay and Charlotte, and threatens all of their futures.

This brilliant new novel by Daisy Goodwin is a lush, irresistible story of the public lives and private longings of grand historical figures.

 

While perusing Daisy Goodwin’s facebook page, I found this video of Daisy discussing how the idea of The Fortune Hunter came to her while visiting a Hofburg Palace in Austria.

The Giveaway (US only):
a Rafflecopter giveaway

August 2, 2014 - 7:55 am

Bernadette Anaya Valenzuela - Cool an actual book?! I want one! <3

August 4, 2014 - 12:18 pm

Amanda Ray - My favorite time period for historical fiction would have to be the 1800′s.

August 5, 2014 - 8:55 am

susan miller - Sounds like a fun read! Count me in.

August 5, 2014 - 4:33 pm

Lisamarie - I was on a Tudor kick for a while.

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