The Song of Fire and Ice…and Cupcakes

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.

Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

-Back Cover

Hello out there! I am, in fact, alive. You may wonder what I have been doing for the past 4 months. Here is a sampling: full time job, night classes, cooking, cleaning, mourning the loss of Milly (my pet fish), spending time with family, friends, frantically shopping when I woke up and realized that Christmas was only two weeks away, playing in the pitiful amount of snow that we have accumulated, playing with my Christmas toys that Santa brought me, etc.

Oh, and A Song of Fire and Ice Series.  That.  After some calculating (which was difficult because I don’t always work with numbers this big), I have concluded that that monstrosity of a series is a full 4,864 pgs.  Compared to Harry Potter, that may not be so bad, but this series is no Harry Potter.  This series is dense with detail and imaginative ideas that make you stop and think.  I read sloooooowly.  I have been working on this series since Thanksgiving and just finished yesterday.  For me, that is an epic amount of time to spend on one story.

The patience that it required for me to work through this masterpiece is evidence enough to show you that it was fantastic.  If it were a food, it would be my request for my last supper.  If it were a person, we would be best friends.

Because I could not handle having this level of emotional connection with a book, I began to associate the book with George R.R. Martin instead.  Of course, by now, I am familiar enough with him that we are on a first name basis.  As I worked my way through his story, I routinely talked to George, asking him why he had the characters do certain things or when I would get to see another character again.  Now that I have not touched the series for a full day, I am starting to miss George and our (albeit incredibly one-sided) conversations.

I could ramble for hours about this series, but I am going to leave you with this instead.

What I Liked:

  • Incredibly detailed
  • George isn’t afraid to kill a main character who you love (or hate)
  • The chapters are told from a variety of perspectives

What Drove Me Crazy

  • Incredibly detailed
  • George isn’t afraid to kill a main character who you love (or hate)
  • The chapters are told from a variety of perspectives

Conflicted much?  Yes.  Read this series.  Now.  Go use those gift cards you got over the holidays. Let me know your burning questions and thoughts in the comments.  Oh, and make these cupcakes too.

Read on for the recipe…

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Short Reviews of Long Books

So the summer definitely took me away from the computer.  I did not post nearly as often as I had intended (though, to be fair, I had grand aspirations about daily posts), but I read far more than I thought possible.  This bookworm was apparently verrrrry hungry.

Here’s the thing.  I would love to do a beautiful, happy post for every book read or movie viewed over the summer, but I’m not going to.  It’s too overwhelming.  In fact, it has kept me quiet for the past week as I struggle to even begin talking about my summer.  Instead, I will give you a description of the book or movie in under 11 words or less and my thoughts in 20 words or less.  Feel free to add more ideas in the comments.

The Piano Teacher: A Novel by Janice Lee.

Summary: Sad woman and sadder man have affair in Hong Kong.

Thoughts: This historical backdrop (Hong Kong during WWII) was intriguing, but I didn’t like any of the characters.  Meh.

The Twilight Saga Collection by Stephenie Meyer

Summary: Bella must choose between creepy vampire and not-as-creepy-but-still-superhuman werewolf Jacob.

Thoughts: It teaches teenagers that the best kind of love is obsessive, controlling, and dangerous.  No thank you.

Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

Summary: 3 witches, one a fairy godmother, must stop a happy ending.

Thoughts: Hilarious.  This is my first Pratchett novel and I now want to read the entire Discworld series.

The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

Summary: 3 photographers and their relationships as they photograph the Vietnam war.

Thoughts: Well-written and intricate storylines.  The background and the characters are fascinating.  I want to study photography, or go to Vietnam.

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later by Francine Pascal

Summary: Sweet valley twins, 10 years later.  Sex, betrayal, and swearing.

Thoughts: So bad.  I read it because I loved the series.  It makes no sense and I hated both twins.

Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres

Summary: Love triangle in Greece during WWII.

Thoughts: Loved it with 15 pages to go.  Then almost threw it across the room.  Still love it.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Summary: Follows two friends through school, love, and duplicity.

Thoughts: I may have used up an entire tissue box on this.  Read it if you want a good cry.

French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mirielle Guiliano

Summary: The title pretty much says it all.

Thoughts: Commonsense advice aside from drinking leek broth for three days and purchase enough champagne to have at every dinner.

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (for the fifth time, at least)

Summary: Big brother knows all.

Thoughts: Love it.  Love it.  Love love love love it.  It gets better with every read.  Read it.

 

Phew!  Now that I have those out of the way, I can get back to posting on what I am reading right now!  Trust me, I have an awesome one coming up 🙂

Living The Sweet Life in Paris

Croque Madame: Ham and cheese, more cheese, and an egg on top!

A few weeks ago, I spent some time in my favorite city in the world (so far): Paris.

I had been there twice before, once for a high school trip and the other for a more extended study-abroad program.  I adored it both times and dreamt of a time that I could return.

Last August, I decided that since I actually had my life planned far enough ahead of time to book plane tickets, I would schedule my Parisian adventures for my school’s April break.

While I have seen all of the “touristy”  parts of Paris, I wanted to tackle all of the hidden gems that the locals know about and keep secret from us foreigners.

Nutella Crepe for the Latin Quarter

I turned to David Lebovitz, American expatriot in Paris, who has authored several cookbooks as well as the man behind the popular blog davidlebovitz.com.

Like me, he has a keen interest in food and has explored Paris by following his nose to the best bakeries, pastry shops, and bistros.

When I am not in Paris, I live vicariously through him.  When I am there, I follow his recommendations.

A few years back, he penned the book The Sweet Life in Paris.  In this book, he spins tales of Paris, its people, and (perhaps best of all) its food.  I love this book.

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The Bookworms: Which Literary Figure Would You Vote For For President?

To check out how the Bookworms work, click on The Bookworms page tab at the top of the page. ___________________________________________________________________________

This week’s category for The Bookworms Award:  Literary figure that you would elect to public office.

The nominations put together an interesting series of people.  Each has shortcomings, but also, perhaps, the makings of a national leader.

If you would like to include a nomination, it is not too late!  Put it in the comments and I will add to the poll. 

Take this poll to have input into who our next literary president should  be!

And the Most Overrated Classic Award Goes to….**drumroll please**

To check out how the Bookworms work, click on The Bookworms page tab at the top of the page. Check below for the next category!

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Ernest Hemingway!

As I put the poll out last week, I held my breath, waiting for someone to click on the option for The Tale of Two Cities, only one of my favorite books in existence.

Fortunately for me, no one did, and I can live another week.

Instead The Old Man and the Sea took home the Bookworm Award for Most Overrated Classic.  Is this right?  Is this fair?

Apparently.

You see, I have never read this book.

Perhaps my teachers in school recognized that there are other books of greater value.  Or, maybe, deep down, I subconsciously veered away from it, aiming myself toward classics that were hyped up for the correct reason.

The only interest I ever took in this book was when I was creating a mock unit when I was in teacher school.  I thought that Hemingway would be a good author to teach the concept of “voice” to students and this happened to be a novel on the list of possible books.  My professor pulled me aside and quietly explained that while she completely loved the rest of my unit, this book would “bore the students to tears.”

That’s a hint to change something if I ever heard one so out it went and I inserted something else in there.  Perhaps if I had read the book, I would have stuck by it, claiming that classics are tough to read, but good for the heart, or something like that.  I didn’t though, so the old man, his sea, and Hemingway went out the window.

Because I haven’t yet read this book, I am adding it to the list.  I like Hemingway’s short stories; thus, I am giving the dude a break and waiting until I read it myself before I cast my vote against it.  It must have done something right to earn Classic status, even if it isn’t as profound as **coughcough** The Tale of Two Cities.

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Now that these nominations are in, here is the category for the next Bookworm award!

The Character You Would Vote For For President/Ruler/Dictator/etc. 

Nominate characters in the comments so that they can become a part of next week’s poll.

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PS.  Some of you may be wondering where I am.  Apparently,I am certainly not sitting at my computer screen posting!  In a few days, you will find out where and what I have been doing and I will be rewarding you with your incredible patience with some pretty exciting posts.

Here is a hint of where I disappeared to.  Any guesses?

Read This If You Want to Save a Life

…of a book, that is.

You see, I do not normally subscribe to the “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” mentality.  I have enough stuff as it is.  I certainly do not need to go picking through trash to find more stuff that “might be useful someday.”

Of course, there is an exception to every rule and that exception smacked me in the face this past week.

I live in an apartment complex so you can imagine that around the end of each month, new and interesting items start to accumulate around our trash and recycling area.  People are moving and they start to make the tough choices.

“Do I really need this?”

“Do I want this enough to carry it?”

“Will I have room?”

Having moved around several times, I understand and support the process of ridding yourself of these unnecessary items.  Really, if you don’t care enough about it to carry it to your new place, it probably doesn’t need to be taking up room and collecting dust.

I do have a problem, however, when you choose to throw away perfectly good items instead of finding a good home for them.

You see, as reluctant as I am to accumulate new “stuff,” I have an equally difficult time letting go of the things that I have.  Being rather sentimental and possessing an uncontrollable imagination, I never have the heart to leave still-useful items in the trash.  I hear their pitiful little voices calling out going, “Why am I in the trash?  Do you not love me anymore?

Blame it on watching The Brave Little Toaster a few too many times as a child.

Well, upon bringing out recycling the other day, a discovery was made- a discovery so monumental that I ended up with two full boxes lugged up to my apartment,

Books.

Beautiful, wonderful, crisp, and still new-smelling books.

It was like Christmas.

While I was revelling in my new treasures (which included the entire works of Jane Austen and Shakespeare, travel guides to places that I want to go, and many other very happy discoveries), I became rather angry.

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The Bookworms: Best Fantasy Series (and April Fool’s Day Pranks)

Welcome to our weekly presentation of the Bookworm award!  If you missed last week’s post, check it out to find out the guidelines to participating in the Academy for these prestigious awards. 

NEXT WEEK’S CATEGORY:  MOST OVERRATED “CLASSIC”

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This past week, I have asked you to submit which fantasy series you think takes the cake.  Interestingly enough, some series that I thought would definitely be nominated were not. 

Harry Potter.  The Chronicles of Narnia.  Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time.

No Love.

Is this because they are popular, but not our favorites when asked to choose one? 

Maybe we think that someone else will nominate them?

Maybe they are just so obvious that they were forgotten?

I’m sorry J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis, and Robert Jordan.  You were not even voted off the island because you were never ON the island to begin with, so say my beautiful and wonderful readers. 

Instead, these were the nominees. 

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