In my suitcase

There are A LOT of books in my suitcase right now. Before I tell you allll about them, I feel like I must preempt any comments that might be made about the size of this pile – so please see my previous grinchy e-book post.

Alright, back now? Great, now feast your eyes on this:

*happy sigh* Nothing like a nice pile of books to put a smile on my face. This heap is a mix of old, new, library, won and purchased books, quite the eclectic sources. I won an advanced copy of The Lost Enchantress from Dear Author, it’s released on January 5th 2010. I just started reading it and really like Eve, her family history of enchantresses, and how her family’s past coincided with an intriguing man named Hazard who suddenly appeared in her life!

After visiting my family in Chicago this week we are off to see hubby’s for a few days as well, so in preparation for those plane rides and quiet hours relaxing away from the family I also brought along:

And just in case those six books don’t last for seven days I also purchased the VERY LAST copy my bookstore had of Kelly Meding’s Three Days To Dead this morning. I can’t help but feel that all is right with the world when I have a huge stack of never-before-read books at my disposal, it’s like no matter what else happens they guarantee many hours of happiness.

How about you, any mass quantities of reading you have stocked up for the holidays?

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It’s a Lusty Smugglivus

Today’s the day! *bounces up and down* No, not the day the teddy bears have their picnic although I’ve had that song stuck in my head forever. But today is the day I am featured as a guest blogger on none other than The Book Smugglers’ site!! Want a peek into some of my top reads of the year? Of course you do, you bibliophilic voyeur you! I’m so chuffed to be a part of Ana and Thea’s Smugglivus event. If you’ve kept up with my Finished Reading List tab, some of my top picks for 2009 won’t come as a huge surprise, but it was so fun to look back over my year in books. I read a whooooole lotta lusty bits!

Stay tuned for a sum up post here around the Lusty Reading Den in a few weeks as I read so many great books not published this year that I’d like to talk about, but for my best reads from 2009 please head on over to my guest post!

More holiday cheer and giveaway winner!

When the great blizzard of 2009 struck DC this weekend we kept busy with neighborhood snow ball fights, watching 2 Christmas movies, finishing one romance novel, and baking. I was the main participant in the last two activities, needless to say.   

Ginger Snaps

 This platter was a recent gift from a friend, how appropriate was it that the first time I used was after we got 20 inches of snow?!  

This Sunday night was also the end of my Lusty Holiday Giveaway! Which do you want first, giveaway winner or my Ginger Snap recipe, hmmmmm???  

 OK fine, the giveaway winner is…checking http://www.random.org/ right now…  

  

 NUMBER 8 IS KATI OF KATIDOM! Congratulations and happy holidays! Hope you get yourself a nice $30 pressie – please email me at lustyreader at gmail dot com with your snail mail address!  

 And now for my* delicious Ginger Snaps recipe, perfect to bring to a holiday party:  

Ingredients:  

1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup unsalted at room temp
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 1/4 cup flour  

Directions:  

 Cream the brown sugar, molasses and butter in large mixing bowl, add egg, then beat until fluffy  

 In another bowl sift baking soda, salt, allspice, cinnamon, clove, ginger and 3/4 cup of flour  

Then add the spice mixture to the molasses/egg mixture, until they are just barely mixed  

Stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour and beat into stiff dough  

Divide dough into one cup amounts (about 3 patties), flatten out, wrap in plastic wrap then refrigerate at least two hours preferably overnight  

Preheat oven to 350degrees. Lightly butter baking sheets. On lightly floured surface roll out do to 1/8″ thick, use cookie cutters, spatula onto baking sheet  

Prick in even pattern all over, bake for 10 minutes, until crisp  

Serve with chutney cream cheese
8oz package cream cheese softened to room temp (I only use 4 oz.)
Mix 1/4 cup finely chopped mango chutney  

Hope you enjoy!  

*my mom thinks she remembers this came from Martha Stewart  

Anybody Out There?, by Marian Keyes

  • Title: Anybody Out There?
  • Author: Marian Keyes
  • Published: William Morrow, May 2006 
  • Pages: 464pgs trade paperback
  • Standalone or series: Can be read as standalone, but it is her 4th book about the Walsh sisters. I had no idea the others existed until I was google image searching for this post, so you’re really not missing anything, more info here
  • Why I read it: I enjoyed the first Keyes book I read earlier this year Sushi for Beginners and saw this one while browsing at my library
  • Marian Keyes writes clever dialogue, realistic characters, and relatable yet entertaining plots. Similar enough to our lives to relate, but different and exciting enough to draw us into her fiction. She captures relationships of all types so well: familial, platonic or romantic ones. In Anybody Out There? we follow Anna Walsh as she recuperates from an accident with her family in Ireland, all the while wishing she is back at her fabulous job and life in New York City.

    Not much background on her accident or life in New York are shared with us at first, so we really get to know her kooky family and life in Ireland. I can see why three other books have been written about Anna’s sisters, they are all such characters!

    Here is the thing though, the summary of the book on the back cover was TOTALLY MISLEADING! I was expecting a Bridget Jones or Shopaholic type book, when really I should have had the kleenex box handy. This is not a light Chick Lit read, but a poignant and darkly humorous look at struggling with grief, tragedy and relationships with friends and family.

    Here is the summary:

    Life in the Big Apple is perfect for Anna. She has the best job in the world, a lovely apartment, and great friends. Then one morning, she wakes up in her mammy’s house in Dublin with stitches in her face, a dislocated knee, hands smashed up, and no memory at all of what happened. As soon as she’s able, Anna’s flying back to Manhattan, mystified but determined to find out how her life turned upside down. As her past slowly begins coming back to her, she sets out on an outrageous quest—involving lilies, psychics, mediums, and anyone who can point her in the right direction.

    So um, she doesn’t have amnesia actually and her quest is more bittersweet than “outrageous.” I can’t say any more than that without spoilers since we don’t find out what the real deal is until almost 200 pages in.

    But seriously the writing is brilliant, and super funny. Keyes just “gets it” for me, like when describing one of Anna’s dates she gets the imagery, pop culture references, and comedy all once:

    I prepared for my date with Greg, the baker from Queens. Although it was October and far from warm, he’d suggested a picnic in the park…

    Reclining on the rug, Greg opened his basket, took out a loaf, then closed the basket quickly, but not before I’d seen that all that was in it was loads of bread.

    “This is my sourdough,” he said. “Made to my own recipe.”

    He tore off a bit, in a real bon vivant’s way, and approached. I could see the way this was going: he was planning a seduction via bread –  once I’d tried his creations, I’d go all swoony and fall in love with him. I was dealing with a man who’d seen Chocolate once too often.

    “Close your eyes and open your mouth.” Oh, cripes, he was going to feed me! God, how excruciating, how 9 1/2 Weeks.

    But he didn’t even let me eat the damn thing. He rubbed it around inside my mouth and said, “Feel the roughness of the crust on your tongue.” He moved it back and forth and I nodded yes, I was feeling the roughness.

    Oh God, this was a public place, I hoped no one was looking at us. I opened my eyes and shut them again quickly: a woman walking her dog was in fits. Her hands were on her knees she was laughing so much.

    I would have had my hands on my own knees if I wasn’t sitting down when I read this! Hilarious.

    But Anna’s friendship with Jacqui was also captured so well, with all the little details that show how complex women friends can be, and how special these little details make it. Like inside jokes, there are a couple words or phrases that my friends or hubby and I use that will always make me laugh, and Jacqui and Anna were just the funniest together. My favorite bit of theirs seems to be inspired by some real life friends of Keyes as she notes in her acknowledgements-she gave thanks to two friends, “for virtual support, New York information, and, most of all, the Feathery Stroker™ rant.”

    So here’s the Feathery Stroker deal-Anna’s just gone a first date with a guy named Aiden and is discussing it with her friend Jacqui when we learn of the Ultimate Inside Joke:

    I set my jaw and held her look, “He is not a Feathery Stroker.”

    “I’ll be the judge of that,” replied Jacqui.

    Jacqui’s Feathery Stroker test is a horribly cruel assessment that she brings to bear on all men. It originated with some man she slept with years ago. All night long he’d run his hands up and down her body in the lightest, feathery way, up her back, along her thighs, across her stomach, and before they had sex he asked her gently if she was sure. Lots of women would have loved this: he was gentle, attentive, and respectful. But for Jacqui it was the greatest turn off of her life. She would have much preferred it if he’d flung her across a hard table, torn her clothes, and taken her without her explicit permission. “He kept stroking me,” she said afterward, wincing with revulsion. “In this awful feathery way, like he’d read a book about how to give women what they want. Bloody Feathery Stroker, I wanted to rip my skin off.

    And so the phrase came about. It suggested an effeminate quality that instantly stripped a man of all sex appeal. It was a damning way to be categorized and far better, in Jacqui’s opinion, to be a drunken wife beater in a dirty vest than a Feathery Stroker.

    What followed was a whole list of the Feathery Stroker criteria you really have to read it, it is so funny!

    But the funny didn’t last forever. While I thought Keyes’ writing remained clever and insightful it was just very sad and it was harder for me to deal with because I didn’t expect it. Maybe 0-1% of my reading is “sad” I just don’t prefer to read that type of stuff. The book was seriously so good, and did get me to think about how people handle tragic situations, that I would absolutely recommend it. As long as you know what you’re in for! B grade for me and I will absolutely be reading more of her stuff.

    Lusty Holiday Giveaway

    Good moooooooorning! *sing song voice* I’m so disgustingly cheerful and absolutely FULL of the holiday spirit.

    I’m overflowing with it and need to siphon some off. That’s where you come in!

    In honor of the holidays (whether you celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ or not [said jokingly! tone is so hard to read]) I would like to host a Lusty Holiday Giveaway!

    Those ones where you have to answer trivia questions about the bloggers, or the author’s secondary character’s mom’s name, or become a follower (which I don’t even have since I don’t think you can do that on wordpress), or add the blogger’s button to your sidebar, et cetera, et cetera et cetera (said in the voice of The King and I) have really been getting my goat recently.

    So NO HARD WORK or even thinking required. All you have to do is read my post from yesterday and tell me to which source you would like to win a

    $30 gift certificate 

    Yes, even to the internet ones. Get yourself a nice $30 pressie! Just tell me which shop you prefer the gift card from in a comment on this post by midnight EST on Sunday. I will draw a winner from the comments on Monday, December 21st.

    Open to US and all International locations. All entrants from all over the planet are welcome! Bienvenue! Wilkommen! Bienvenido!

    Book sources for a lusty reader

    Not everyone is so lucky to have access to multiple book sources, but DC certainly has plenty! There have been a number of posts floating (links to others at the end) around about the book buying habits of our fellow bibliophiles. Are you addicted to one-click Amazon purchasing? Do you swear by your Border’s membership card? Or does Paperback Swap take care of your lust for books?

    I can walk to 3 huge bookstores from my house (4 if I’m really motivated) and have many more indie bookstore choices as well. I’m so lucky I can quench my lust without having to go far!

    I live in the general area of the red circle (stalkers need not apply):

    1. Borders on 18th and L, conveniently underneath hubby’s office building, and on the same color metro line I take to work, and walkable distance from home.
    2. Barnes and Noble at 12th and G, conveniently on same color metro line I take to work, and walkable from home.
    3. Books-a-Million on Dupont Circle, always hanging out in that neighborhood, and walkable from home.
    4. Barnes and Noble on M Street in Georgetown, conveniently (except for my wallet) located in supernice shopping district, a little bit of a hike to walk from home.

    HOWEVER even though I have all these fabulous choices my NUMBER ONE option is always the library. Any time I see I book I want to read I immediately go to my bookmarked webpage of my library’s online catalogue. If my library doesn’t have it then I will check which of these 4 book stores have it in stock. If none of them have it I order it online.

    That would make a pretty flow chart, huh? Instead I made a SUPER DORKY spreadsheet of the last 6 months of books I read (about 100 books total) and the sources where they all came from.

    Clocking in at number uno source: no surprise, the library with 41 of those 100! These come from The Central Library of Arlington in Northern Virginia (red arrow to the side of the map above, about 20 minutes outside DC). Although the sign for this library always makes me laugh, the building and collection of books are AWESOME and huge (that’s what she said).

    Don’t get me started on DC libraries, it would take me all day to share how terrible, useless, and unpleasant they are. I’m lucky I work by a nice suburban one!

    Now on to where the sources from which I actually purchase books:

    • Internet: 13 books in 6 months
    • Barnes & Noble: 11
    • Borders: 6

    Internet: I use Amazon.com because it’s so convenient. I am an Amazon Prime member and enjoy the fast and free shipping. Regardless of the kerfluffles and drama about Amazon throughout blog-land it’s just too easy not to use. And they always have what I need, which is the most important.

    For used books on the internet I don’t do PaperBack Swap or similar sites out of pure laziness, it seemed too complicated and I just don’t feel like it. Simple as that! I do use this great second-hand romance novel online store called Books are Better than Chocolate – they’re cheap and usually have a good selection.

    E-books from the internet – Shhhh *bringing finger to lips* I don’t talk about this much (not totally out of the closet) but I have purchased a few erotica e-books as PDFs.

    Barnes & Noble: I do pay $25 a year for 10% savings on almost any purchase and special coupons as well. Buying 11 books at 10% or more off each DEFINITELY saved me more than $25. But honestly I don’t feel a loyalty to the store, if they don’t have what I want I go someplace else!

    Borders: Hubby and I are also part of the Borders Rewards program which has occasional coupons and I think you earn points when you make a purchase that lead up to something? Clearly I don’t pay too much attention. Honestly books are the type of “necessity” for me that I don’t live and die by the prices or discounts. I want a book and I buy it where it’s available. Simple as that!

    I don’t go to any indie bookstores or used book stores in DC since they never have romance novels. The big box stores have fairly good romance selections, especially new releases, but NEVER have anything from series back lists. I have had the hardest time finding the early In Death books, or the Nalini Singh Psy/Changeling series, or Meljean Brooks’ Guardians series.

    So that is my geeky summation of the sources of my books. Check out the following links to get inside the heads, wallets, and bookshelves of some of my favorite bloggers:

    Wendy the Super Librarian kicked it off for us

    Kmont’s from Lurv A La Mode

    Photo essay of sources from RRR Jessica

    What about you, dearest blog reader? What are your sources to quench your lust for books?

    An un-Grinchy post

    Lest one draws the wrong conclusion from my previous Grinchy post, I am quite the opposite and freakin ADORE Christmas and gift giving. Last week I went to dinner at my friend’s house and spent the first 15 minutes telling her about all the great gifts I had gotten people. It’s especially fun to give, and talk about giving, when you make a really good find, when you’re proud of yourself for getting the gift *juuust right*.

    My family has our own Christmas traditions beginning with my mom slave-driving my sister and I over Thanksgiving weekend with needles, thread, cranberries and stale popcorn to make garland for the tree. Hooo boy did I hate doing that, but it looks SO GOOD. Not good enough for me to keep doing it for my own tree now that I’m in my own house, it really hurts my poor little fingies!

    We had a few years in a row we went to Midnight Mass which is always beautiful, we always have an advent calendar, and we always have cheese fondue on Christmas Eve. My parents were really poor when they first got married and their first Christmas all they had to eat was cheese and bread, so now we continue the tradition and it’s so special.

    And the CHRISTMAS MOVIES, oh lord how I love them. I am desperate to watch Home Alone, but have been on the Netflix wait list for 3 weeks now, argh (Biff’s girlfriend *scrunches nose* Woof!) so we watched A Christmas Story instead. If you follow me on twitter you got an eyeful of some of my favorite quotes, especially:

    Randy lay there like a slug. It was his only defense.

    Hubby and I are creating our own little traditions and favorite decorations, our new tabletop Nativity scene this year is AWESOME, and next year I must remember to purchase an advent wreath early enough. But since we’ll still spend the holiday in Chicago with my family we haven’t quite made our “own Christmas” quite yet, but I know it will be great when we do.

    To get in full holiday spirit my internet presence needed a little sprucing up for Christmas, I stole the countdown button (ahh only 11 days left?!) from Colette and also added a picture of our little mutt, Kedzie, in her holiday neckerchief and antlers. Her eyes are a little scary with the flash, but the “red eye” edit button in iPhoto doesn’t work on dogs apparently.

    She was a little reticent during our photo shoot:

    Poor thing was hiding her head in shame thinking Why oh why must you embarrass me like this! I look like a dork!

    No you don’t, silly puppy, now show us your pretty face!

    Awww there she is!

    This week I will be sharing more Christmas cheer with y’all with a giveaway, one of my favorite holiday recipes, and more gifts ideas for the bibliophile in your life.

    Lastly, are you celebrating Smuggilvus this year? An awesome monthlong event hosted by your friendly neighborhood Book Smugglers full of good cheer, author posts, guest blog posts, best of lists, the airing of grievances (yes the title is a play on Festivus) all culminating in their 2nd blogiversary on January 7th (I think?)

    Anyways, check it out, especially December 22nd as I’m SURE that day’s post will be extra lusty *wink wink*