Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I'm now home from the annual trick-or-treating with the kids. I tried to sneak some of their candy, but they were having none of that (they didn't have anything that great so I'll just sneak out my Green & Black's dark chocolate after they go to sleep). Now they're slipping into sugar comas. Well, not actually, the boys are watching the Chelsea v. Manchester United match. With one Chelsea fan and one Man U fan, we always end up with one sad boy.

Enough of the rambling, and on to the book talk. Nothing like waiting until the last minute to wrap-up RIP VII, considering Halloween is almost over. It has been so much fun. It was my first year participating, and I rocked Peril the First. What I didn't rock was actually blogging about the books, but that's neither here nor there. I present to you, my list.

  1. Lord of the Flies by William Golding--I'm totally counting this. Pretty creepy stuff.
  2. It by Stephen King--fun read-along (or italong) hosted by Jill and Christina
  3. Dracula by Bram Stoker--fun Halloween read, but kind of disappointing overall
  4. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson--Favorite book of the year hands down. So good.
  1. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters -- super fun read-along with the Estella Society
  2. Don't Look Back by Laura Lipman--big lead up to a huge letdown; really disappointing
  3. The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley (Flavia de Luce #2)
  4. A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley (Flavia de Luce #3)

I'm still working on Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde, but probably won't make it by tonight. Hope everyone enjoyed some great RIP reading. Thanks to Carl for hosting.

Did you participate this year? What was your favorite read.

Pin It and Do It Wrap-Up

I ended up doing three pins, all of which were recipes. I did make a few other new recipes this month, but they weren't from pinterest so I'm out of luck there. Bummer. I did get some of my organization done around the house, but they also were not relating to things I pinned. No big deal. The point was to be productive, and I think I was.

Zucchini au Gratin

The first recipe I made was Zucchini au Gratin posted on the food section of It turned out alright, but there was too much of the roux, which was entirely my fault. I was supposed to use three large zucchini and I only had three medium sized ones. It was okay. Not sure if I'll try it again as there are so many other healthier zucchini recipes that I actually like more. Pin found here.

Tomato, Basil, and Cheddar Soup

The second recipe I made was Tomato, Basil, and Cheddar Soup from More Fruit Please. We ate it with grilled cheese sandwiches and I wasn't a big fan. I love tomato soups, but this one was very acidic to my taste. I'm sure I could have found a way to doctor it if I'd had time that night, but I had to rush out to a meeting. I don't think I'll be making it again. Still on the hunt for a homemade tomato soup. Do you have one? Pin found here.

Banana, Buttermilk, and Brown Sugar Muffins

Lastly, I made these Banana, Buttermilk, and Brown Sugar Muffins from Herbivoracious. These again, were just okay. I think I ended up eating a couple, but most were thrown away. I make muffins often, but these were not as moist as others that I have made. Disappointing. Even my kids who usually devour my muffins weren't really into these. Pin found here.

Hmm...kind of a bummer that I didn't really love any of these, but it's good to know. Now I can move on and try to find more recipes to add to my cooking and baking repertoire.

Big thanks to Trish of Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity for hosting! I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else has accomplished this month. Click here to find out what others have been pinning and doing.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Literary Blog Hop Giveaway

Welcome to Kristi Loves Books! I'm an avid reader and have been blogging off and on for a little over two years (hoping to be more on going forward). I have diverse tastes, but I gravitate toward literary fiction, most often classics.

My giveaway is international, and you qualify if Book Depository has free shipping to your country. The winner will be shipped one book of their choice from the list below which includes some of my all-time favorites as well as some of my favorite reads this year.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Villette by Charlotte Brontë
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

To enter, just leave a comment with the following information.

1. What is the literary fiction book that you most often recommend?
2. Name the book that you would like to win out of my above listed of favorites.
3. An email address so that I can contact you if you win.

Easy, right? One entry per person, and no hoops to jump through for extra entries. Please no entries after October 31. I will select a winner at random and email the winner within 2 days. The winner will have 72 hours to respond to the email, or a new winner will be chosen. Good luck, and enjoy the rest of the hop!

  1. Leeswammes
  2. Read in a Single Sitting
  3. Ephemeral Digest
  4. My Devotional Thoughts
  5. Devouring Texts
  6. Tony's Reading List
  7. Nishita's Rants and Raves
  8. Too Fond
  9. The Parrish Lantern
  10. Kristi Loves Books
  11. The Book Club Blog
  12. Sam Still Reading
  13. Silver's Reviews (USA)
  14. Bibliosue
  15. Heavenali
  16. Under My Apple Tree
  17. Misfortune of Knowing (North America)
  18. Lena Sledge's Blog
  19. Lost Generation Reader
  20. Seaside Book Nook
  21. The Relentless Reader
  22. Rikki's Teleidoscope
  23. Monique Morgan
  24. That READioactive Book Blog
  25. kaggsysbookisahramblings
  26. Ragdoll Books Blog
  27. Kate's Library
  28. The Book Garden
  29. Uniflame Creates
  30. Curiosity Killed The Bookworm
  1. Ciska's Book Chest
  2. The Book Divas Reads
  3. Alex in Leeds
  4. Simple Clockwork
  5. Bluestalking (USA)
  6. Fresh Ink Books
  7. Sweeping Me
  8. Giraffe Days
  9. Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book (USA)
  10. Books Thoughts Adventures (USA)
  11. emmalikestoread
  12. Colorimetry
  13. Page Plucker
  14. Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity
  15. 2606 Books and Counting
  16. Book Nympho
  17. She-Wolf Reads
  18. The Little Reader Library (Europe)
  19. Booklover Book Reviews
  20. Dolce Bellezza

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dracula by Bram Stoker (RIP VII)


by Bram Stoker
published 1897
completed October 2012
rating 3/5

I think everyone in the world must know the story of Dracula, aside from maybe me? I knew he was a vampire (pretty sure that's not a spoiler to anyone), but I wasn't familiar with the actual story.

Well, Dracula as a character is as creepy and awful as expected, but the book--not so much. There were times when it was a real page-turner and I was really anxious as to what would happen next, but those moments were few. The best part of the book was the beginning with Jonathan Harker not really knowing what he was getting into while visiting Transylvania in his position as a solicitor.

The middle was a drag. Lucy reminded me of Margaret from North and South. Every man is in love with her and I couldn't quite figure out why. Three proposals in one day (I think I read that right?) must be some type of record.

Several pages could have been cut as there was so much talking about what they were going to do about Count Dracula and not as much doing. Every time Van Helsing opened his mouth, I knew I was in for pages of explanations and philosophizing. Boy was he long-winded.

The men were in need of a good slap. I know they meant well but all of the "let's protect the woman and order her to bed because she cannot handle all the things that we the manly men can handle," was so eye-roll inducing. Usually I can just brush that off in an old-timey book, but this one really grated on me.

Overall, I'm glad a read it. It was a fun RIP read, but it's not one I will likely revisit.

Have you read Dracula? What did you think?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

by Shirley Jackson
published 1962
completed October 2012

We Have Always Lived in the Castle has been my favorite RIP read so far this year. Katherine "Merricat" Blackwood lives in the family home with her sister Constance and her Uncle Julian. The Blackwood family lives in the outskirts of the village in which they have been ostracized.

I'm anti-spoiler. I've said before that I prefer to go into books blind so I'm glad I didn't read the back cover. It gives away the reason for the village's disdain for the family, but there's something to be said for discovering the facts of the story as the author intended. I loved how the facts of the past, and the shadow overhanging the family were slowly unfolded. The slow and controlled pace to which the reader is informed added to the eeriness of the story.

In choosing the first-person narration by Merricat, there is an added creepiness that couldn't come any other way. Her mind is a fascinating place to visit. Despite being 18 years old, she comes across as a little child at times. It's also apparent from the start that there is something very wrong within the family dynamic. Even though I guessed the truth that was uncovered at the end, it was still chilling to read.

I've seen it described as a horror story, but for me it wasn't so much terrifying as subtly creepy. I have zero complaints with this book. I read it in one sitting (stuck in bed with the flu), and I was riveted. It's a short book, but the writing was pitch perfect for a truly spine-chilling experience. Shirley Jackson can write.

I highly recommend We Have Always Lived in the Castle. It received the elusive 5-star rating from me, and I guarantee it will be in my top books of the year. It sits at the number one spot currently, but no promises as I still have a couple of months of reading.

Have you read We Have Always Lived in the Castle? If so, what did you think? If not, get on it already! 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

It-Along Final Post


I finished IT just in time--about 3 hours ago. Nothing like cutting it close. I've been so lame at my past readalongs that by the time I finish the book, everyone else has moved on. That's no fun. So, since I'm still trying to wrap my head around this massive book, I'll just list a few random thoughts.
  • This book was not nearly as terrifying as I expected. There were several times that I read it at night and had no creepy dreams. I even read the big scene in the IT's lair around midnight last night and slept just fine.
  • Stephen King writes some amazing characters. I preferred ITs characters to The Stand. Maybe because they were kids and less annoying (except for maybe Richie--I wasn't a fan). It was easier to keep track of this cast of characters, and I cared about them more.
  • I was surprised to find how much of the story took place in the past. The entire story was basically back story leading up to two days (and not many pages) in the present.
  • The ending was a bit of a letdown. I didn't know the form that IT would take, but as I'm not particularly afraid of that kind of creature, I think the clown was creepier.
  • The Bill and Bev thing pissed me off. HE WAS MARRIED! Seriously! What is wrong with you people?! It was unnecessary to the plot. Not really sure why King chose to go there. And to Bev--Ben is so much better and he still has his hair (though I don't think highly of his fashion sense).
  • The plot line with Bev's husband was anticlimactic. He made such a big deal to get to Derry that I expected this big showdown (I was hoping Ben would give him a beat down [not that I generally approve of such things, but he had it coming]). He died off page, and I almost missed the mention of it.
  • The scene where they all express their love or whatever that was supposed to be after their first time attacking IT, made my skin crawl. I felt dirty reading it. How old are they?! I thought they were like 11 or something.
  •  I loved Ben (hence the note to Bev above). He was my favorite character. Just so quiet, but strong. Never selfish.
So, that's the end of my random thoughts on IT. I'm glad I read it. There was of course, King's trademark verbosity, and some parts that I didn't care for, but when compared to the other few King books I've read, this is my favorite.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Banned Book Week: Lord of the Flies and Giveaway

Sheila of Book Journey is running a week-long event over on her blog for Banned Book Week. For more posts and giveaways, stop by her blog and check it out.

In honor of Banned Book Week, I am reviewing Lord of the Flies by William Golding. The premise of this book is widely known. A group of young boys end up stranded on an island. No adults around. I'm sure you can imagine what happens next.

Before beginning it, I supposed that this book would be an interesting piece of literature discussing human nature, but what I was surprised to find was how much I enjoyed the writing. As well as the writing, I found the different characters fascinating. No real back stories are introduced, but you can get a good feel for their different personalities. It took about a quarter of the book for me to get into it (luckily that isn't very many pages), but I couldn't turn the pages fast enough at the end.

After finishing it for the first time this past Sunday, I am still confused as to why this book was banned. There is death, but nothing particularly graphic about it. I love the introduction in my copy. It's by Stephen King and he has an anecdote about the first time he read Lord of the Flies. He was a young boy and mostly read adventure type books, but asked the librarian (of the little Bookmobile) if she had any books about how kids really are. She thought for a second and brought him a copy of Lord of the Flies. She told him that if anyone asked, he found the book himself (not surprising considering this post is for Banned Book Week).

Stephen King said he devoured the book and felt satisfied that it was a book about how kids really are. King later learned that writing a book about how boys would really behave is what Golding set out to do when writing Lord of the Flies. I wish it wasn't how human would really behave, but I think it is. It's my opinion that there is potential for good and evil in each of us. Deep down, what are we really like when all the rules and supervision disappear? Maybe that is what makes some people uncomfortable with this novel. There isn't always a happy ending for everyone and sometimes humans can do really despicable things. If you haven't read it, I hope you will. 

Now for the real reason you're here--the Giveaway! For one lucky reader, I'll be giving away a new copy of the edition shown above of Lord of the Flies with the introduction by Stephen King.

Rules for Entering
  1. Leave a comment telling me your favorite banned or challenged book.
  2. Include your email address (for use in contacting the winner).
  3. You must be 13 years or older to enter.
  4. Book Depository must ship to your address.
The giveaway will close midnight Sunday, October 7. After selecting the winner at random, I will contact them by email. The winner will have 72 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED selected #2 Sheila (Book Journey) as the winner.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Pin It and Do It Challenge

I'm going to do this. Actually do this, and not just sign up for it like the last two times. I love Pinterest, you can find me here. I know people say it's a time suck, but it doesn't have to be. I rarely look at other people's pins. I simply use it to track things I've found online that I want to reference in the future. Most of my pins are recipes or organization related.

If you're interested in playing along with us, Trish of Love, Laughter, and Touch of Insanity is host, and you can find details here.  I think I can easily do 8 pins, but we'll start with Timid Pinner: 1-3. I know I'll probably do 8, but it's the blogging part that messes me up. Why? I don't know. It just does. Happy fall to everyone, and happy pinning and doing.