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Books I can't wait to read!

Most of you know I loved Her Fearful Symmetry and The Time Traveler's Wife.  I'm currently reading Every Day (about a boy who wakes up every day in a different body), so the first two books mentioned below appear to be perfect choices for me.

I believe in 'ghosts,' not the idea of them but believe they exist.  I have a friend who owns an old schoolhouse turned into a cafe in a small town in Minnesota, with a ghost.  She pushes pots off the counter and slams doors.  It's a really good story, one for another day... 

Michel Faber... I love his writing and devoured Crimson Petal on holiday.  I can't wait to get lost in the language and depth in which he writes.

I hope you have a few books you are anxiously waiting to read this fall, the excitement of buying a book the day it publishes, opening the spine and getting to know the characters... it's divine.

What are you reading this fall?

Rooms (publishes Sep 23): Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.

But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. 

The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.

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The Cure for Dreaming (publishes Oct 14): Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud.

These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women.

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The Book of Strange New Things (publishes Oct 28): 
Peter, devoted pastor, dedicated missionary, and loving husband to his wife, has just accepted a demanding and perilous new job. He's to travel to a new planet, Oasis, to work for a mysterious corporation called USIC. 

He's tasked with reaching out to the indigenous race, to make sure they are as peaceful as they seem. Resolutely devout and strengthened by his letters from Bea at home, Peter undertakes his job with complete focus. 

Peter is suddenly faced with an impossible-and dangerous-decision: to follow his faith, or follow his heart. His life depends on it.

Travel: visiting Hamburg

Hello friends,  Last month I flew to Hamburg for a long weekend, to explore the city and  celebrate a friend's birthday.

We arrived early morning Thursday, taking a red-eye from NYC to Germany. 

Hamburg is a bicycle city, women in dresses, men in suits... they bike to work.  It's such an odd sight, at 7:30am, to see 50+ bicycles at a stoplight when you look out the taxi window.

After dropping off our luggage and enjoying a European breakfast, we climbed to the top of the church tower behind our hotel, a lovely 360 view.

I remember seeing Lake Alster from the tower, it looked like it was ten miles away but was less than a mile walk from our hotel.

Later that night we went to Hamburger Dom, with a group of eight.  Upon first sight of the Gladiator I knew I had to ride it, a 162 meter high speed drop with spins. The men rode the bumper cars four times.  An evening filled with laughter. Great memories!

It rained all day Friday, making it a good day for a ferry tour of Lake Alster (and the canals). Arriving at the lake, it was pouring, we saw an expo setting up and realized there was a 100 mile cycle ride happening while we were in town... filling the streets with tourists.

It may sound strange, but this town is similar to Manhattan.  There is a lake/park like Central Park, a shopping district; it's a tourist town with dining and Pubs on every corner.  It's also a walking town, so I was able to explore churches, tea shoppes, run, etc... just like I do in NYC.

Saturday we were invited to visit a container ship that arrived in Port overnight.  It was interesting to see how they move the containers, load them, weight balancing, navigation, and the personal quarters for the crew. I have a new appreciation for how goods travel the globe.  In the evening, we attended our friends 40+10 celebration.  We left around midnight, the dancing continued past 3AM!

Sunday we were off to Denmark.

A few facts about Hamburg:
- Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany

- Home to the second largest port in Europe, touring this part of the city brings a new level of awareness to how goods travel from point of creation to landing in our homes.

-  WWII was not kind to Hamburg, with bombings (the aftermath is still visible), and about 15 miles outside the city is one of the larger concentration camps.

- The climate is oceanic cool, with temps rarely over 72F/22C. August the warmest month of the year, it often rains, and rarely snows.  We avoided rain showers up to four times a day.  It's dreary when the sun isn't out.

- It's one of the most affluent cities in Europe, and as a visitor you feel this, a quiet pride with a focus on quality.

- It's a water town, with canals stretching from the port, into the depths of the city.  I'm told these canals served a purpose years ago.  Ships would travel into the main port, on boats too large to go any farther...  goods would transfer to smaller boats that fit in the canals.

- There are over 2,000 bridges throughout the city.
- A red light district that's wild and crazy.

If you are planning a visit to Hamburg, three days are enough to explore and learn about this history rich city.

I'm blessed to have visited the hometown of a good friend, and thankful the timing worked; we added this trip to the front an already planned holiday to Switzerland.

Life: hello Charlie!

Hello friends,  Just a month ago I was planning a trip to Europe, now I'm home.

When traveling, I embrace the backpack approach... pick a city, do a little research and go.  I never plan, choosing to ask locals for recommendations. More to follow on my summer adventure, I returned home with stories and memories to fuel me as I plan my next adventure.

How are you? Did you travel? Run? Try something new? Drop me an email/comment to share anything and everything I missed!

Reading: I read a lot this summer, a book a week which is a lot for me. Thankfully goodreads is a global site... letting me keep track of books I read, adding new titles along the way.  I tried to add a few sentences to share my thoughts after reading a book, visit goodreads for more details. 

Spring/summer reading: Of the books listed below my favorites were: Freud's Mistress, A Paris Apartment, On the Island, and Accidents of Marriage.  Titles like On the Island and Adultery spark emotion while reading them (a book you won't soon forget), others were light fare for summer.

Have you read any of these books? Did you read anything I should add to my list?  

This week: Other than the usual post travel stuff I'm planning my next home improvement project, and started a new afghan yesterday.  I'm reading Cutting Teeth

Have a wonderful week - don't forget to unplug and enjoy life!

Life: Conscious Unplugging

Dear friends,  I hope everyone is enjoying summer, finding time to unplug, explore, eat ice cream, catch fireflies, watch movies… and more. The hard part of conscious unplug is what to write when you want to dip back in for a quick update.

June: Don't you love this photo? I don't like to get my face wet and realized moments before running through this ambush what was about to happen... I have posted several photo's from that day to Instagram for all to enjoy.

I'm training for a half marathon in September and a marathon on November.  Trying to stay injury free I'm running just 3-4 times a week.  So far it's working well.

Project Declutter: Real Simple posted this photo to Instagram early June... the caption says "1945, when the average American owned 10,000 things." Gulp.  

Over the next week I found myself looking around our home, realizing very little of the stuff in our home belongs to my husband. Conclusion, most of this stuff is mine?!

Since that day I have been on a mission, to clean out as much as possible before we leave for Europe in August.  As I write this post today, I have gone through EVERY drawer, closet, and room in our home.  Going through a hundred photo albums from my Grandma, removing duplicates, blurry photos and strangers... I have two show boxes of photos.  I brought several bags of clothes to the goodwill, garbage cans full, and ... are you ready for this.... I still have a room full of the last of Frank and Barbara's furniture to donate. In the storage room above the garage sits two sofas, five chairs, four bookshelves, a queen size bed, three coffee tables, and a dozen pieces of framed artwork.  

July: I'm a year older.  The World Traveler flew from Switzerland to celebrate, having seen him for just 36 hours in five weeks... being together was perfect. We had a quiet, lovely day.   

I'm also growing out my bangs (a dreadful process)... here are a few rejects from some photo's my friend took a few weeks ago.   I can't wait to get through this process!  46 was filled with lifetime highs and lows... I hope 47 grants my wish.   Regardless, I will embrace this crazy little life.

Reading:  Contemporary fiction/ new releases are my books of choice this summer.  My favorite two books read so far are Freud's Mistress, and The Marrying of Chani Kaufman. I recommend both! In addition to fiction, I have been devouring cookbooks.  I have a few to review in the fall (preordering a few copies of one of them, love!). 

Sonderborg Denmark (source: google image)
Travel: I'm busy planning/packing for a late summer getaway.  We are flying to Germany to celebrate a friend's 50th birthday.  They live seventy miles from the border of Denmark, so we will day trip to Denmark and explore a seaside village.  Then we are off to Switzerland.

I hope you are having a lovely summer, enjoying family, finding time to unwind with friends, and relax. ~ much love, Mari

Book Review: The Vibrant Table

Why I picked it: In the last two years, I have become obsessed with cookbooks.  I enjoy reading personal stories, and find it amazing to discover how a list of ingredients transforms into an experience for one, or many.

Synopsis: Walk with Anya Kassoff through farmers' markets, local food shops, and her garden and you too will start to see fresh fruit and vegetables as the raw materials for artistic expression. Rose petal and honey sundaes, lemongrass and raspberry tiramisu with cardamom cream, amaranth pumpkin porridge: with these recipes in hand, you will never run out of ways to enjoy fresh, whole foods at home.

Anya's family-focused food blog, Golubka (Russian for "dove"), has a well-earned reputation for unique recipes that please the palate and senses. Her recipes are healthy by most standards--always vegetarian, mostly vegan, gluten-free, and often raw--and every dessert can serve as an energizing breakfast. Her food is fresh, seasonal, homemade, handcrafted, and 100% delightful.

Over 100 recipes include lighter interpretations of familiar classics and embody a fresh, bright sensibility that will inspire you well beyond the table. From breakfasts through sweet indulgences, every recipe tells a story of a balanced and nourished lifestyle, centered around the family table and a bustling kitchen.

Anya's kitchen is part workshop and part art classroom, so many recipes double as food projects that can be done for or with kids. Anya's love for fresh and seasonal ingredients prepared with love is clear.

Quick Take: Have you taken the time to flip the pages of a cookbook recently?  If you read the introduction and the pages between each recipe, you can really get to know the author.  Cookbooks today are part memoir. The author of The Vibrant Table shares a glimpse into her life growing up in Russia, during the 'iron curtain' days. She mentioned her mother spent half her life waiting in lines and learned to use every last bit of food to feed their family.

Food blogger, turned author, this book is extremely useful.  The author explains how to use the book, teaching the reader/user about ingredients and everyday items to keep in the kitchen. She explains oils, nuts, flours, sweet options, etc...

The photography is stunning, the page layout is lovely, and the recipes are creative.

Ingredients for each recipe are listed in a column to the side, making it easy to glance at and confirm you have everything need before getting started. I have made several recipes from the book and can't wait to buy a copy to add to my cookbook collection.

note: I read this book in January (pub date Jun 10), on a cold, snowy weekend. Looking at the photography and reading each recipe warmed me as I sat on the sofa, with a fire roaring, and the football playoffs being consumed by my family. Sharing recipes and ideas with them, we all enjoyed it!

Rating: 5 stars
Source: Netgalley (review copy)