Two Major Milestones!

The day has finally come, people!

No, I’m not in labor. Not that day. Also not Armageddon. Tomorrow is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, but that’s another story entirely.

Nope. I’m talking about two major pregnancy milestones: kicking and tacos!

Last night, I had something of a what-am-I-doing-I’m-not-ready-to-be-a-mom meltdown. And after a lot of crying and a lot of help from Ethan, I was lying (like a slug) on the bed, just kind of drained, with my hand on my belly. Which is enormous, by the way. I’m only a little over 5 months along, but I’m also only a little over 5 feet tall, and this baby has nowhere to go but out. I feel like I’m smuggling a cantaloupe.

I digress. As I lay there, sniffling, I felt a tiny thump. I told Ethan, and he put a hand over the same spot. Thump. Then a one-two punch: thump, thump. Ethan grinned ear to ear. I started crying again.

The second milestone is considerably less important: tacos. I’ve been forbidden (by my husband) from eating Taco Bell during this pregnancy. His reasoning was that Taco Bell is never good for you even when you’re not pregnant – it can’t be a good thing when you’re growing a baby. Furthermore (and probably more importantly), Ethan’s in charge of cleaning the throw-up bucket. And he does not want to clean up secondhand tacos.

Anyways, after the crying and kicking of yesterday, I wanted a soft taco so bad. So. Bad. Ethan was like, “How much do you really want tacos right now?” and I thought about it long and hard. On a scale from 1 to 10… I’ve had cravings worse than this before, so it’s not a 10… I really don’t want to guilt him into getting a taco… but I really, really want one…. I eventually settled on 7.5 out of 10. I thought that was shooting a little low, but Ethan was visibly impressed. “Wow. You really want tacos.”

He decided to risk it – and went to buy some soft tacos. They were delicious, and I am pleased to report that I did not throw them up.

I haven’t felt any more kicking since last night. Maybe tacos serve as a tranquilizer. Or maybe the baby is just tired after his Tae-Bo practice. Either way, I am pleased to announce that I have a baby boxing champion inside my body. ♥

Book Duel: The Hound of the Baskervilles

hound-baskervilles-210x315

I was doing some family history the other day, and I stumbled across a few English ancestors from the 16th and 17th century with the last name of “Baskerville.”

Naturally, this led to about 140 pages of mystery reading.

Last Christmas was our first as a couple. And, as newlyweds and college students, we decided it was probably best not to spend a ridiculous amount of money on gifts. Read: any money. We pretty much decided not to spend anything. Fortunately, at the last minute, we found some extra money in the budget, and I remembered that I had about $40 worth of credit at a used paperback store in Bountiful, and we went on a book spree. Between the paperback shop and a trip to Barnes and Noble, we decided to just take each other shopping, pick out the books we wanted, put them under the tree, and then spend Christmas break reading.

This is how I ended up with the 2-volume, hardbound, complete stories of Sherlock Holmes. Oh, happy day.

So, back to my original story, this is how I immediately set my genealogy hobby aside for a few hundred pages to indulge my reading hobby. I’ve read the book before – but it’s been about 10 years or so, which meant that most of the time, I was just as confused as the first time I’d read it. I kept turning pages thinking, “Well, that’s weird… I thought… maybe not…” Boots were stolen, romances foiled, and servants caught sneaking around in the night to light candles in deserted rooms. It’s a pretty good mystery.

And, of course, there’s a hell-hound. Can’t forget that. A big, black, shiny, rabid, murderous hell-hound.

Interestingly, I noticed that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle set The Hound of the Baskervilles in October, nearing the end of the month. I don’t know whether he just wanted a good, autumnal feel to it, or whether it was his Halloween present to his readers, but I think it added a good sense of spook to the whole thing. (A few years ago, Ethan dressed up in furry attire and a mask and ran around the apartment complex on Halloween, growling and acting beastly. Shortly thereafter, his roommates came snooping around dressed as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, asking if anyone had seen the Hound of the Baskervilles.) Whether Sir Arthur meant the book to be a Halloween horror flick or simply a complicated mystery, I highly recommend it, and just in time for Halloween reading, too. ♦

Motivation to Write a Book

Shortly after we were first married, Ethan and I went wandering through a Barnes and Noble and stumbled upon the White Trash Zombie series:

white trash zombie

Ethan just shook his head, turned to me and said, “Why aren’t you published?” He had a point. No offense to Ms. Rowland, but I’m very surprised that any publisher has ever picked up a manuscript and said, “Oh, hey! A high school dropout, addicted to drugs and alcohol, who becomes a zombie. We’ll sell three sequels to this, easy!” And maybe I just don’t understand the demographic we’re aiming for here, but I don’t really get the punk/porn fusion this cover is trying for. Especially when you add the pretty pink background and the mouthful of (human?) flesh.

Which leads me to my current problem: realistically, given some of the stuff I’ve seen on sale in bookstores, the only reason I haven’t been published is because I’ve never sent anything to a publisher. I have a lot of ideas that never seem to get off the ground… because I never finish them.

Well, not today! Today, I work on a book! Today, I write with purpose! With power! With pizzazz! With potato soup! (Thanks for the soup, Mom.) And in the meantime, here are a few of the books that remind me that if these guys can get published, I’ve got a pretty good chance:

how-to-poo

How to Poo on a Date: The Lover’s Guide to Toilet Etiquette

Finally.

goblinproof

Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop: And Other Practical Advice In Our Campaign Against The Fairy Kingdom

For the superstitious chicken farmer, or the farmer of superstitious chickens.

catflexing

Catflexing: The Catlover’s Guide to Weight Training, Aerobics, and Stretching

That’s the reason I never work out! I don’t have the proper equipment! Onward, to Petsmart.

trout madness

Trout Madness: Being a Dissertation on the Symptoms and Pathology of this Incredible Disease by One of its Victims

Upon further investigation, this is a book of funny essays and stories about trout fishing. Sadly, I was actually hoping it would be about some aquatic version of “mad cow.”

For more of these beauties, I highly recommend you check out abebooks.com’s Weird Book Room. Sorry to say, however, they’re already sold out of How to Land a Top-Paying Pierogi Maker’s Job. Oh, and while you’re at it – if you’ve ever had an idea for a book, start writing. Somebody’s bound to sell it. ♦

Book Duel: Black Coffee

Black Coffee

The baby inside me has stolen all of my energy. As a result, I have become a reading machine (when awake). This book review is of Black Coffee, supposedly by Agatha Christie. That is, she wrote the stage-play, and an actor named Charles Osborne adapted the script into novel form. It seems to follow her style fairly well, although there are times it’s clear that the action was all designed to take place in one room, for one audience.

I chose this book after finishing The Maze Runner because my mind was blown, and I needed something with a plot that required very little thought or attention. I needed junk-food reading, in short. And Black Coffee was exactly what I was looking for.

I would describe Black Coffee as a “silly mystery” – an old-fashioned whodunit, set in the 1930’s, complete with poisoning, blackmail, nearly-fainting-women, and ridiculous mustaches. For most of the novel (and play, I presume), all fingers point to the Italian, because apparently poisoning someone is a very “Italian” thing to do. A Belgian sleuth discusses the ways of the English. An old spinster is horrified by jazz music. A safe is broken into. A knitting needle goes missing for the entirety of the story.

That pretty much sums it up. And while I would probably consider the story a comedy by today’s standards, the play was quite successful at the time, and the whole story follows Christie’s style to a tee. So if you’re looking for a silly mystery, pick up a copy. ♦

The Hunt for Potato Soup

I’d like to say, first and foremost, that this pregnancy has not been all that bad. I mean, I’ve never been pregnant before, so it’s definitely been my worst – but it’s also been my best. I say this because I’ve realized lately that I mostly use my blog to vent or complain, while all the “good” days are the days I forget to turn on my computer. So, for the record, most days, I’m doing pretty well.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about cravings again. My cravings haven’t been that weird or that frequent – no pickles-and-ice-cream stories here – but when they come, they come fast and furious.

A few weeks ago, lying in bed, I cuddled up to Ethan and whispered in his ear, “I love you. I’m stickin’ around.” And then immediately added, “I want a taco.”

I didn’t get my taco, sadly. It was too late for decent taco places, and Ethan won’t let me eat Taco Bell until I’m safely past the might-thr0w-that-up stage. (Read: until I’ve already had the baby.)

Yesterday, I wanted potato soup. All day long, I tried to psyche myself out to make soup, but I just didn’t have the energy. When Ethan came home, he made a deal with me: if I helped him do the dishes, we’d go out to eat, and find someplace with soup. I rejoiced! And washed dishes. While washing, I thought of all the places that might serve potato soup. Applebee’s, Chili’s, Denny’s, maybe even Wendy’s. I came up with about a dozen places, which is rare for my current state of mind.

By the time the dishes were over, however, I was hungry and my brain had shut off. “Where do you want to go?”

I racked my brain. “Soup. I want soup.”

“Right. Where do you want to get it?”

I was confused. Why was he making me think of all those places again? “One of the places I already thought of.”

“So, which one?”

After a very difficult two minutes, I decided Applebee’s was the first in alphabetical order, so we should go there. “Applebee’s.”

Ethan looked hesitant. “Somewhere besides Applebee’s.”

What do you want from me?! “Okay, Chili’s.” The twin brother of Applebee’s.

“Do you know where a Chili’s is?”

I did when I had my brain on. “No.”

“Okay, neither do I. Think of a place you  know.”

I tried not to cry. Why was he making me think? I eventually remembered Denny’s existed, and we started in that direction. While in the car, Ethan asked, “Do you know if there are any fast-food places that have soup? I don’t want to spend twenty dollars just to eat soup.”

In my mind-fog, I  tried to remember what the words “fast food” meant, and what kind of places served it. Eventually, Ethan remembered that Noodles and Co. had soup on their menu, and it was only a dollar for a cup. We’d been to Noodles in Orem before, and they gave us the cheesiest macaroni and the most delicious soup we’d ever tasted, so this seemed like a splendid idea. As we walked in, I saw the menu, which had three kinds of soup: tomato, chicken noodle, and something Thai-inspired that sounded risky for a pregnant lady. Nothing potato. Nothing creamy. I looked at Ethan, trying to figure out how to explain. “I want… white soup,” was what came out.

Ethan sighed, and said, “Will this do?”

I thought, and slowly shook my head. We headed back to the car. “So where do you want to go?” Ethan asked. I fought back tears.

“Somewhere with potato soup!”

Neither of us could think of a place that regularly sold potato soup. Eventually, I gave up. “Let’s go back to Noodles and just eat something,” I said, sniffling a little bit.

Ethan looked concerned. “Are you going to cry over soup?”

“I hope not.”

We went and ordered some soup, a bowl of macaroni and cheese, and a salad. After a few minutes, a server brought Ethan his macaroni, which was topped with a small sprinkling of cheese, and tasted like somebody had put hot water on it instead of cheese sauce. We reminded the server that I had also ordered food, and she apologized, disappeared for a few minutes, and then returned bringing a side salad and the smallest cup of soup I’ve ever seen.

“How’s your soup?” Ethan asked.

“It’s okay,” I said, still pining for potatoes but grateful he was willing to put up with me. “How’s your macaroni?”

Ethan poked at the bowl. “Pretty disappointing,” he said. “And I paid a dollar extra for red peppers, and it looks like they only added a few slices.”

The salad was a decent size, but after a few bites, my stomach warned me that throwing up iceberg lettuce was a bitter experience, and I had to give up on it. We sat there, staring at out mediocre meal, out spirits dampened. Ethan wanted to say something to management, but it was busy enough in there that he didn’t see a way he was going to speak to anyone. “Are you still hungry?”

“…Yeah.”

He looked stumped. “I don’t know how to help anymore,” he said. I told him not to worry about it. I had enough food in me to get over the potato soup for now. We walked out to the parking lot and decided to drown our sorrows in hot chocolate instead. So we stopped at CVS long enough to watch a college kid buying baobab fruit (which exists, apparently), and decided Macey’s would have a better selection of cocoa. Two and a half pounds of hot chocolate powder later, we sat on the couch and sipped hot goodness, feeling a little better about the evening.

I still want potato soup, but I don’t think I’m going to cry about it. ♦

Book Duel: The Maze Runner

Maze Runner

Alright – I’m well behind Ethan in number-of-books-read, but at least I’m still reading. Over the past few days, I started and finished one of the fastest-paced books in the English language. It’s called The Maze Runner, written by James Dashner, and I’d place it somewhere between teen sci-fi and suspense. Ethan and I bought it after we saw the preview for the movie coming out soon. (Effective preview, that.)

For those of you who read my last book review, I can simplify this by simply stating that The Maze Runner is the exact opposite of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Exact opposite. Going from one book to another was a bit of a shock to my system. It was like watching the 6-hour version of Pride and Prejudice, and then following it up immediately afterward with The Terminator. The book is so action-packed, I don’t think I put it down for two days, except to eat, sleep, and catch my breath.

The book is about a group of teenagers who find themselves in a compound with no memory of who they were before. The compound is surrounded by high stone walls that form a maze, and the kids have to find their way out of the maze. Trouble is, they have to get back by sunset every evening, or the evil cyborg Grievers will kill them. But then one night, the walls to the maze don’t close, and the Grievers get into the compound.

I’m not throwing out any more spoilers than that. Be warned: if you pick up this book, be prepared to not put it down. Also, be warned that there’s a fair amount of violence, although the author doesn’t dwell on blood and guts and gore. There is little foul language, however, as the author developed his own slang for the teens to cuss in. So that’s a plus. Also, if you’re looking for a good, clean, resolution with a happy ending, this isn’t your book. I’m not sure whether I feel cheated or delighted that I now feel a solid need to go out and find a copy of the next two books in the series.

In short, this is a book my dad would love, my mom would hate, and I really hope they carry at the local library. Or at least, the sequels. If you like action movies, go pick up this book. ♦

Book Duel: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Guernsey

Aside from having one of the greatest names you could possibly give a book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society comes highly recommended by my mother. And by that, I mean she recommended it until she finally just plunked it down on my table and said, “You need to read this, so you’re borrowing it.” She apparently adores the book – so I’m treading lightly here when I say it was alright. I didn’t dislike it. I just don’t think I really got it.

Part of my “huh?” reaction here might be due to the kind of books I tend to read. Usually, I read either children’s books, with pretty obvious plot-lines, adventurous stories with obvious plot-lines, or history books with less obvious plot-line, but a pretty clear purpose: to teach history. Ethan has a similar obsession with plot; when Ethan and I got married, we were sorting through our books and deciding how to shelve them. We decided to go by category, and I confused him by classifying one book as “fiction.”

“What kind of fiction?”

“Just general fiction.”

“…like, historical-fiction? Adventure-fiction? Science-fiction?” Apparently, he was unfamiliar with non-hyphenated fiction. He had always read for the plot-line. General fiction is more of an experience than a plot-line, in some cases – and Ethan had usually stuck to the strictly adventurous, conflict-resolving types of books.

This is the kind of lost I felt reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (GLPPPS). I really enjoyed the last 100 pages or so. But it’s nearly 300 pages long, and I spent a lot of time just trying to figure out why the book was written. That sounds harsher than I mean it – I wasn’t wondering, “Who would write such a book?” – I was really just looking for the book’s main purpose or theme. I was wondering, “What exactly is this book supposed to be?” Pages 1-50 seemed to be about a writer. She wrote things. Then there were another 50 pages about a literary society (the GLPPPS) that made pies out of mashed potatoes. Also, some guy named Mark who went on dates with the writer from pages 1-50. (The writer in question was the main character, sort of, I think. The whole thing was written in letters back and forth, but the writer, Juliet, seemed to be the one in the driver’s seat.) Then pages 100-200, approximately, were about a beautiful island called Guernsey, and its horrible occupation by German soldiers during World War II. In the meantime, Juliet (the writer) complained about how much she wanted to write a book about all this, but couldn’t seem to find the right glue to hold the story together. (I, as the reader, was a little inclined to agree – I read it and thought, “If I just had a clue what to focus on, this would be a really good historical-fiction.” And then I criticized myself for demanding hyphenated fiction.)

By about the last 70 pages, I started to get the idea that the book was intended to be a light-hearted look at heavy issues: let’s address the horrors of World War II, specifically focus on this island, and give it a human face. That made sense, and by the end of the book, I had stopped wandering in a plot-less fog to find myself in a rather pleasant book.

So, all in all, I can recommend this book on certain conditions: if you want to read something that tells you about humanity (and inhumanity) in times of war, but you definitely don’t want to wade through a history book, this is a very good read. Let me save you some time, however, and tell you what to expect.

First off, I’ll give you the official genres. On the inside cover of nearly every book – where the copyright information is – there’s a little spot halfway down the page that lists the book’s genres, or general topics. This helps libraries and bookstores to categorize the book (without having to hire somebody to read the whole thing). Having been an editor, I should have thought of this while I was wandering through the first 100 pages or so, but alas! I only checked it out after I was through the whole thing.

The GLPPPS lists as its genres:

  1. Women authors – Fiction.
  2. Book clubs (Discussion groups) – Fiction.
  3. London (England) – History – 20th century – Fiction.
  4. Guernsey (Channel Islands) – Fiction.
  5. England – Fiction.

There you have it. It’s a book about a woman author, a book club, Guernsey (in the Channel Islands), and London (in England). All of which is fiction. In my opinion, you’ll have a much better time if you read it with the idea that it’s a book about a writer named Juliet who finds out about the atrocities of the German occupation by following the life of Elizabeth, a former resident of Guernsey. (Not to spoil anything, but Elizabeth is the “glue” Juliet finally gets for her book.) Keeping this in mind, I think you will enjoy the book. ♦