Thursday, January 28, 2016

Office moving...hospitals...oven breakdowns...etc

I think if you post your New Year's Goals that you automatically jinx yourself.

Right after I posted all that stuff, my life went nuts. The heating element in the oven went no baking. My grandmother is not doing well, and then my dad had a health scare (he's fine, thank goodness), so I haven't been able to do much reading or exercising because of...well, life. However, I have managed to exercise almost every day (I think I have only missed two days). I just haven't upped my mileage as much as I would like. One day I managed four miles, but usually it is only one or two. Ugh. That has to change.

Added to all of this is the big move I made at the office. My coworker and I moved into offices upstairs in our building. The new offices are fantastic! But, you know how it is...exhausting.

Anyway, now that dad is doing well, the kitchen is back in order, and I have finished all of my moving stuff (sorry to say that grandma still isn't doing well), I can at least cook and perhaps work in a bit more reading/exercise.

This weekend, I plan to make a few things that I can bring to work for lunch next week. I'm really looking forward to it!

As for my book life, I haven't read that much this week. I am still reading The Last Days of Henry VIII (very is a good book, but I needed a break for some fiction...I am a little over halfway through it). I also read the new Sarah MacLean book, The Rogue Not Taken.

I've seen some mixed reviews for this book, but I really enjoyed it. I know people love Sarah MacLean, but some of her books have been hit or miss for me. This one was really enjoyable. I liked the heroine a lot, and the plot didn't drive me crazy. It is also the first in a new series, so I have high hopes for the next ones, too.

Last night, I picked up Dorothy L. Sayers's Gaudy Night

I've had this book since 2009, when I went to Oxford. (Note: The version above is the one I bought in Oxford, but I haven't seen that cover here.) I bought the book at Blackwell's, and I'm finally in the mood to read it. So far, I am loving it. 

Anyway, that is what I am up to these days. Hope your January has been great!

A Place on the Shelf

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Rest in Peace, Alan Rickman.

Yes, everyone knows of  my Alan Rickman love. He was an amazing talent, and he brought so many characters to life. Of course, I loved him in just about everything I saw him in. I first remember him from Die Hard, and I loved him in Sense and Sensibility. But I loved him best as Severus Snape. He took a character that so many people hated, and in the end, he gave such dignity to him. It was more than acting. It was an act of service to the readers and all of those who were devoted to the series. So, I thank him so much for playing that role over and over again.

Rest in peace, Alan Rickman.

Monday, January 11, 2016

A great memory!

I recently received a photo from an event I attended last year. My writers group met with author Julia Quinn, and we had such a great time! Thanks to Julia Muscari for sending me the picture!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Goals for the new year!

I stopped making resolutions a long time ago. They suck, and usually I make them too limiting. In the past, my resolutions usually had to do with denial, so I decided that this year I am going to make some goals for myself that include experiences and feeding the soul...rather than taking something away.

1. My reading goal on Goodreads is (heaven help me) 100 books in 2016. I have done this before, and I planned to do it last year...but life...well, yeah. Anyway, that is my goal, even if I read really short books! (Which, let's face it, is probably all I have time for anyway.)

2. Cooking more. When I cook. I feel more centered. I haven't done a lot of cooking in the last several years, and I miss it. I cooked a lot when I was an undergrad and working on my master's degree, but when I got into my PhD work and also started my job at the magazine, I let it slide. I mean, sure...I cook. But not what I call "soul feeding" cooking. You know what I mean. Those recipes that take some time and planning. Not just throwing the usual pasta in the pot or sticking something in the oven really fast. So, my goal is to try one new recipe a week (probably on the weekends). I am starting this week, and I am really  looking forward to it. UPDATE 1/13/16: This will be put off by at least a week. My oven just went out last night! UGH!

3. Writing. Wow. I have really let this one slide, and it has been my fault completely. Personal issues have really created a block over the last few years, but I'm feeling better now. But that hasn't been the only thing to stop me. Basically, I haven't been taking myself seriously as a writer over the last two years. That has to stop. I have to start saying no to family and friends and make sure that I have a set schedule of time for writing--whether that be note taking for research or free writing or anything related to what I am working on. I need set goals, and I started that today, too. My goal is to have a draft of a new novel by December 31, 2016.

4. Exercise. I've been good about being consistent with some form of exercise over the last two years. I do at least one mile six to seven days a week. But one mile, even jogging, is too easy. My main issue is fatigue. Sometimes, I just want to sleep! But, I have to push myself harder and get back to multiple miles each day. I stopped because I was getting too thin at one point. My body responds really well to exercise, in terms of weight loss, so I have to be careful. But I don't feel as strong as I used to feel. My goal is to do at least three miles a day four days a week. And maybe one day do something longer. Eventually (not this year), I want to do another half marathon. But that is something I don't feel the desire to train for right now, and I know what a commitment it is to train. You have to be all in, or you won't get anywhere.

5. Gardening. I used to do a little of this with my dad years ago. The ground outside is too hard for me to dig up and I don't have a tiller. So, I need to learn some container gardening skills.

I will keep you posted, because another goal is to blog more. :)

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

My next read...

Still Tudor obsessed...

Alright, 2016. Get your act together.

It is only the 6th, and so far my television has gone out, and I just had to buy new tires. Come on, 2016. Work with me here.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne by David Starkey

I just finished up Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne last night. David Starkey is an interesting writer, and in some ways he is a great entertainer. I enjoy watching his specials about Tudor history (most of them are available on YouTube, if you are interested), and I was curious about this book because it covers Elizabeth's younger years. I find the conflicts that arose out of the Tudor reign to be fascinating, and though I have read much about Henry VIII and his wives, I haven't spent much time reading about his children or what happened in the aftermath of his death. The story is filled with tension, and it is a testament to both the story and Starkey's writing that I read this book so quickly.

Starkey's narrative style is great. He tells an already good story in a way that reads like a novel. Like I said, I am more familiar with Henry and his wives, but this book made me realize how long the consequences of Henry's reign (and those who ruled before him) carried into the future. I still want to read individual books on Edward VI and Mary I, but this was a great introduction to their stories (and Elizabeth's, of course).

Some reviewers have complained about Starkey's "high opinion" of himself and how he puts down other researchers. There is some of this in the book, but I didn't find it distracting; however, I am used to reading academic books built on argument, so maybe that is why it doesn't bother me so much. Starkey has spent most of his life studying the Tudors, so he does have his beliefs about what he's discovered. Some ideas seem to hold weight, while others...well, I'm not so sure. Still, it doesn't matter to me all that much. I enjoyed the book, and I would highly recommend it as an entertaining and informative read.

I found two things quite funny in this book:

1. Starkey hates Elizabeth I's writing style. He says she repeats her usual structure over and over, and he sarcastically refers to this style several times. 

2. He called the Dudley/Elizabeth affair "Clintonesque," and that was too funny in the context in which it was written! This comes near the end, so you will have to wait for it.

My takeaway from this read?

For the first time in my life, I am really happy that I am an only child.