Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mug shot.

     Check it out, my awesome custom mug came in the mail not too long ago!  It's blue, has glasses similar to my trademark pair, and the blog's URL on it!  I think the proper slang for this occasion is "SWEEEEEET!"  A travel mug would have been even cooler, get the word out there about the blog and such.  I'm about to add it to StumbleUpon, though, so hopefully some bookalicious nerds will find me in their quest for amazingness on the internet.

      I was Stumbling myself today when I discovered this gem--  Tell it which genres you like, then rate the books that pop up.  After you rate enough, it'll suggest other books tailored to your taste!  Rate more, better results.  Kinda like Netflix, which I have been watching instead of reading Catch 22.  Maybe they made a movie of it... 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I think I have a new addiction.

     I just clicked the "new post" button for the first time in over a month.  It scared me. 

     But here I am, back and hopefully better than ever.  Which brings me to my very important topic:  apple butter.

     I first heard of apple butter several years ago in, of  course, a book.  One of my favorite books, actually-- Weeping Willow by Ruth White.  The main character, Tiny, invites her city friends to visit her modest holler and make apple butter with her neighbors.  I've read the book so many times (I've had it for over ten years), I could probably do it myself.  Peel, core, add spices, boil to perfection.  But until recently I had never tried or even seen it.

     Skip back to Monday:  a work friend and I both had the day off and felt like some adventure, so we drove to the outskirts of town to test our navigation skills at Jacob's Corn Maze.  It was as true to October as any day can get:  chilly, windy, waffling between warm sunshine and precarious clouds.  We spent a couple hours twisting, turning through corn stalks; laughing at ourselves; jumping with joy when we found one of the trail markers.  We finished the first two mazes, then decided to skip the third and buy some cider and donuts in the barn.

     Lining the barn walls were shelves of canned goods, preserved right there on the farm.  I scanned the rows of jams, coffees, snacks.  Strawberry jam, blackberry jam, freshest coffee I've ever smelled.  My eyes fell upon the apple butter, and I thought of Tiny and her friends, having the grandest time behind Aunt Evie's shack.  I have a habit of buying things that remind me of books, and this was no exception.
     I ate so much at dinner on Monday and had to rush to work the next morning, it wasn't until Tuesday evening that I had a chance to sample my prize.  I had no idea (and still don't) as to what one does with apple butter.  I decided to treat it like a similarly named food:  peanut butter.  So I popped some bread in the toaster, slathered it on the toast, and took a bite.  My first wonderful, glorious bite.  I have mixed feelings on apples (I think it's a textural issue), but this was, without question, simply amazing.  If my tongue had knees, they would have gone weak.

     I have now eaten it multiple times a day for the last several days.  My jar is half empty, I suspect another trip to the farm is in order.  Perhaps I could even splurge on a jar of my favorite-- blackberry jam.   

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bad news...Good news.

     I know I know I know.  You don't need to tell me:  I've been lazy with the blog lately.  I'm well aware, and my excuse is always the same:  working 50+ hours a week.  On the bright side, I have some good news:  those days will soon be over.  I'm cutting back to one job, and therefore I will actually have time for a life and things I enjoy. 

     So, I've decided to take an official break to finish up my time at the extra job and get myself back to normal.  I expect to have things sorted out by October, and plan to start things up again.  Please feel free to still leave comments here, send e-mails, or post on the site's Facebook page.
     Until then, keep cracking!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

Nothing like...


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A few of my favorite things...


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Weekend Recap

     So I know it's Tuesday and now it seems a little late for this, but yesterday was pretty busy and this is my first chance.  I worked all day Saturday, but we at Cracking Spines headquarters (a.k.a. "the house") had the day off and went about town.  Our stops:

  • Jo-Ann Fabrics.  New yarn, new knitting needles.  
  • Petsmart, but only to look.  I really want a kitten, but I'm "not allowed".  We spent ten minutes watching a turtle, hoping he would eat one of the fish floating by.
  • Borders.  Books for everyone!  I broke down and bought Shanghai Girls, because it was cheap and I wanted it.
  • Buffalo Wild Wings.  My first time.  Not bad.  Anyone ever tried the Buzztime game?  It's trivia, so I think I'd be pretty awesome at it.
     We also decided on a whim to go see Red Riding Hood.  I thought it was quite excellent, a very wonderful twist on an old favorite.  My companion did not like it,  but we don't exactly have the same taste in movies.  (My favorite:  Say Anything.  His favorite:  Old School.)

     That about covers it.  I'll be working all this weekend, so don't expect much then.  Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Stupider vs. More Stupid

I had a debate with a couple friends yesterday concerning whether the proper term is "stupider" or "more stupid".  I consider myself a Word Nerd, so having someone question my knowledge is bruising to my nerdy, narcissistic ego.

     Because of my need to know things, I couldn't leave it alone.  I had to look it up, and I'm glad I did.  Mostly because I'm right.  (Click the link to see why.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011


     I know, I've been missing lately.  I've been wasting a lot of time locked in exhausting arguments lately.  Haven't exactly been in the best mood, which does not create the best blog posts.  But enough of excuses.  I've been thinking lately, I have some ideas.  So hang tight, I haven't forgotten about you all.  I'm still trying to figure out how I want to approach this blog, so I'm going to mess around with things a bit and hopefully present you with something more interesting and engaging. 

     Really, hang in there.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


     Yesterday was "Read Across America Day", also know as the birthday of the beloved Dr. Seuss.  I probably should have said something, as this is a reading blog.  I kinda dropped the ball (or book) on that one.  I'll try again next year.

     Did anyone actually make a point to read yesterday?  Again, I dropped the ball.  What are you reading?  I meant to pick up my newest conquest, St. Augustine's Confessions.  I do have a valid excuse:  I was taking care of an invalid.  He had an overnight hospital stay recently, and now the medication they put him on is making him feel awful.  So I have to put down the books and play nurse, which I'm actually pretty good at doing.

     I should also mention that I met a good friend's family for the first time recently, and I think I love them.  I want to move in, because they fed me AND gave me books.  People like that cannot be bad. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

An anti-climatic day.

     I was bad yesterday.  But by accident, so does that even really count?  I got a root canal yesterday morning, and didn't go to work because I was told (by someone who has had a couple) that I would be in agony, and kind of out of it.

     I was neither.  In fact, the only issues I had was that I had to take out my lip ring (I worried a little that it would close up, but it went back in just fine) and that the dentist used latex gloves.  Because I have to tell him a minimum of six times.  Isn't that in my chart?  Oh no, because someone confused the word 'latex' with 'penicillin'.  I'm glad they're not real doctors.  They do decent work and they're nice, but I really don't want them to confuse 'urine test' with 'kidney donor'. 

     Anyway, I spent the day organizing my new records (13 for less than $12 at this amazing little place downtown), playing Wii Sports (I'm amazing at boxing and baseball, not so good at tennis), and reading GraniaGrania is amazing.  Morgan Llywelyn doesn't examine just a small piece of the story and leave you guessing at the rest.  Some books just stop at the resolution of one issue, and I always wonder where things go, how things work out from there.  Llywelyn gives you the whole picture; she goes from beginning to end.  You know the characters, their lives, their connections and families as if they were your own personal friends.  Grace O'Malley's whole life is laid out before the reader, every significant thing she has experienced and seen and felt is before our eyes, if only you're willing to dig into the 400+ pages. 

     A major draw, for me, is that it all takes place in the Elizabethan era.  I am a fool for 16th century Europe, particularly England and the Tudor family.  This has been an obsession for a few years now, when my best friend recommended to me The Other Boleyn Girl (which is a fantastic piece of historical fiction by Philippa Gregory). 
     I spent hours in Ireland last night, but plan to finish my stay this afternoon.  The last page of a great book is always a bittersweet moment.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


     Currently reading Grania by Morgan Llywelyn.  This is another my mom lent me, but Llywelyn is not at all new to me; I've been a fan of hers for some time, ever since I picked up The Horse Goddess to pass a flight to visit my dad several years ago. 

     One thing I love about her:  she knows her facts.  As a historical fiction writer, she's got it all-- she knows the legends, the mannerisms and customs, the dress and architecture.  Each of her novels are set in Ireland, but she refuses to get stuck in one time period.  She knows ancient Ireland, druidic Ireland, transitional Ireland.

      Grania takes place in Elizabethan Ireland, when the Virgin Queen is invading the land.  Our heroin, Grainne Ni Maille (also known as Grania, called Grace O'Malley by the English) has just suffered the loss of her greatest love-- her ship.  Raised to sail, that ship was a dream fulfilled.  Forced to return to her estranged husband's home, Grania should feel defeated.  Instead, she is locked in the safety of her sanctuary, already plotting her next move. 

     Until the head of her branch of the O Flaherty clan dies, leaving her in charge of her husband's kinsmen.  Grania now has a new direction, a new place to expel her energy, but she does not forget her own goals.  And with the growing threat of England looming in the north, she is about to embark on more than just a seafaring expedition.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

An unsatisfying call girl..

     I finished Secret Diary of a Call Girl.  It got more interesting with some relationship drama, but was ultimately a let down.  I guess at the end of the book I expect...something.  I should be able to take something away from it, right?  But the last page felt the same at the first.  There were a lot of predictable potential turnouts:

  1. Belle gives up being a call girl.
  2. Belle falls in love with a client.
  3. Belle gets pregnant.
  4. Belle and her boyfriend get married.
  5. Something humorously traumatizing, like meeting a client only to find out it's her father.
     None of that happened.  There was an argument, and then everything was about the same.  Usually when I finish a book, I feel...something.  I feel happy, or (if it ends badly), I feel sad.  Here, I just felt... disappointment.  It felt like a waste of hours of reading.  Belle went back to her old ways, and I went on to another book.

Friday, February 11, 2011


     Just had to post something quick, as my friend and supporter Stef just shared a link via Facebook for a site called Bookshelf Porn.  This is not actual porn, mind you, it's just photos of shelves upon shelves of books.  So if you're like me and get excited by a big collection (I want my own library one day, so I've got major envy right now) head over there and let yourself slip into a spine-cracking fantasy.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Not your stereotypical strumpet

     The new year hasn't started off so well here at Cracking Spines.  I feel bad for neglecting you all.  In my defense, things have been chaotic.  I've been meaning to make it up to you this week, but was taken down by a nasty bought of bronchitis. 

     Enough with the excuses now.  I'm on the road to recovery but not quite well enough to go to work, so I've got a bit of free time for blogging.  Let's get down to the dirt inside Secret Diary of a Call Girl.

(If you haven't reached adult status yet, I ask that you seriously considering turning back now.  This is your final warning.)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Welcome to February!

     It's February, and that means I'll be cracking the spines you chose.  At first the fact that Secret Diary of a Call Girl was the top pick made me think that you're a bunch of pervy people.  Second thought was that I'm the one who put it on the list and therefore have no room to judge. 

     This book has been on my reading list for quite some time; I first discovered it after discovering the Showtime series of the same name.  Inspired by the book, the show follows high-class call girl Belle du Jour through the chaos of living a double life.  It is, in one word, fascinating.  I watched the first season online, finishing rather quickly (the series, I mean).  I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to book-based media, so I had to investigate.  My big question:  is the book as smart, sexy, and witty as the show?

     I started reading the book before the polls were closed-- I'm that curious.  However, I understand that this is some sensitive material and don't want to mentally scar any minors.  So parents, cover the eyes of your offspring.  Offspring, back away from the computer.  Everyone else, proceed with caution. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

All good things...

     What are you guys reading lately?  I hardly cracked a spine during December, but my page-turning cravings are back full force now.  I dove into The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll; it's been on my shelf for some time, and I finally felt up to the task. 

     I acquired this book over a year ago; after parking the car, my beau and I were walking through the garage to get into the house.  The golden-edged pages caught the light, glimmering at the corner of my eye.  I picked up the book, asked where it came from (it was quite odd, since he's not much of a reader).  Apparently someone had left it at his workplace and then never returned for it.  Instead of throwing it out, he took it home and left it with other unused, forgotten things.  He told me I could have it.  I walked into the house with the heavy book in my arms, hugging it to my chest as a precious treasure. 

     Alice in Wonderland was the first piece of work in the heavy volume.  I have a smaller copy bound with Through the Looking Glass (the sequel), so those two were old friends to me.  I then encountered Sylvie and Bruno.  It took me a little while to understand the story, but once it was made clear I found myself absorbed.  I've become quite fond of the characters, and though it's impossible, I find myself trying to guess at the path the story will take.  Sylvie and Bruno had to end, of course, but flowed easily into Sylvie and Bruno Concluded.  I'm perhaps halfway through, and already disappointed that it will have to end. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year, New Spines, New Poll.

     Well.  Here we are again.

     The past few weeks have been chaotic, messy, heart-wrenching.  All that is over, the waves have calmed.  Now is a time for tranquility and healing. 

     It's a fresh year, and therefore time for a fresh start.  I've made personal resolutions, but I want to make one for Cracking Spines, too.  I feel as though I've been hiding behind the technicalities of the written word.  I've read a few older posts, and they're... well, they're boring.  There's no feeling to them.  So I resolve that this year, Cracking Spines will be reformed, reshaped.  I'm going to share the personal, the beautiful, the emotive side of reading.  I want to share with you, the readers, the Spine Crackers, the things that made me fall in love with reading, with opening a book and discovering the mystery of the pages.

      In honor of this resolution, there is a new poll!  You're in control, you're the boss now-- what am I reading in February?  Here are the options:

  1. The Complete Poems and Plays of T.S. Eliot
  2. The Secret Diary of a Call Girl (Anonymous)
  3. The Dead Sea Scrolls (Michael Wise, Martin Abegg Jr, Edward Cook)
  4. Living a Jewish Life (Anita Diamant, Howard Cooper)
  5. The Case for the Real Jesus (Lee Strobel)
  6. Grania (Morgan Llywelyn)
  7. The Great Influenza (John M. Barry)
  8. Small Avalanches and Other Stories (Joyce Carol Oates)
     Ready?  Go!