Book of the Month

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Wow is all my brain could muster after finishing this book.  It was so intense that you find yourself holding your breath while reading.  I could feel the tension when the German soldier was in Vianne’s home.  I could smell the awful coffee they drank when their rations allowed them only the worst.  I could feel my feet and chest burning with the icy cold air.  Kristin Hannah writes so perfectly that it’s as if you are there… living during the war with her characters.  Feeling their fears and their love and their sorrow with them.  I first described her style of writing to be that like a beautiful painting.  The vibrant colors carefully swept across the canvas, swirling around in a rhythm that reveals the most incredible artwork.

I would recommend anyone and everyone to read this.  There is something for everyone in it.  It is definitely not your average love story… it redefines what we take for granted in love.  What we know as love comes so easily and we tend to misunderstand what the true meaning is because we are spoiled.  We don’t know what it’s like to truly need anything, or want anyone.  Many of us have never had to go hungry so that our children can have a few extra sips of broth.  We don’t know a bitter cold that wraps around our bones, when there is no warmth and no money to buy it.  We fall in love so easily and carelessly now, and this book shows us that this was just not available during this war, in particular.  Weaknesses were fuel to the German soldiers.  They could smell fear and they were aroused by the power they had over the French, the Jews, the homosexuals and anyone else they found didn’t meet the standards Hitler set.

I remember reading up on Media Propaganda during his reign in one of my college courses.  I went to the Holocaust Museum in Houston to research.  It is all… so deeply, deeply heartbreaking.  There just aren’t words… and this book amplifies that.  It personalizes it in such a way that nobody can feel safe.  When you learn about this in school, or view the videos and photos, you can still keep yourself at a safe distance.  You can feel for those survivors and who they lost along the way, but Kristin hits home.  She finds a way to get every reader IN it.  There is a little bit of Isabelle in all of us.  There is a bit of Vianne and Sophie and Gaetan in all of us.  A mother, a wild teenager growing into adulthood kicking and screaming during a time where they didn’t have to luxury to do it openly, a man who was deemed a criminal, mostly because of his meager beginnings turns into one of the few men with enough courage to fight.  This is a story of survival. Of the strength we all have somewhere in the depths of our hearts and souls… an instinct we should never have to tap into, but these people did and it’s truly incredible.

Now… onto the wine… because duh.

This was really nice, I was gifted this one so I’m not sure of its price, but I want to assume its in the $10-$12 range?  It’s a Pinot Noir, which I love, but it’s different.  Not like most pinot I have had.  It’s a little heavier, with a pinch of spiciness almost.  I don’t typically like a spicy wine.  I tend to avoid Merlot for that reason.  But this one is subtle, and very nice!

I mostly like red wine myself, white just isn’t my thing.  But there is one now that I think of it, that I did like… I’ll share later when I can buy it and post a picture!

Next month I will discuss You by Caroline Kepnes.  And let me tell you… amazing.  I won’t say too much because I want you to read it for yourself, but holy shit… it’s GOOD!  It’s about a psychopath who falls in love with a girl that went into the bookstore he runs… and it gives you a a really interesting and oddly satisfying perspective on crazy people… HA!  Anyway.. pick it up, buy it on your kindle… whatever you do… and read it… now… but go ahead and clear your schedule… quit your job… find an au pair, because you will NOT be able to put this one down.

I am still swimming in a sea of blocked creativity.  I sit for 2 hours everyday during nap time, in the quiet, waiting for the words to come, and they don’t.  So I make notes.  Because, as I’ve mentioned before, I know the story.  I know exactly who each person is, why they’re with their spouse, why they’re relevant to the story as a whole… but when it comes to actually putting the whole thing down… it just will NOT come! I lay awake at night with dialogue swirling around my head and so I think “ok write that down!” so i sit up, grab my notepad that sits on my nightstand, and the second the pen hits the paper… nothing.  Blankness.  I want to assume it’s from the stress of all that’s gone on recently because otherwise I will just go insane over it, but I know one day, I’ll break through this wall.  My first story was so much easier because I sat on it for YEARS until I finally committed to it.  But it was a different story, different feel, different things inspired it, so I just have to refocus I guess.

Until I’m able to do that, I’ll be spending my energy on reading to collect more words and blogging to vent how I have none and our trip to Houston to celebrate part 1 of Cori’s 3rd birthday!  Part 2 comes in a month when she’s cleared for regular activity… lucky turd gets to have 2 parties.  All she had to do was break her leg!

I leave you with a recipe for chicken tortilla soup.  I have been working on soups lately because when it’s cold for that whole 13 hours here in the South, we need something warm that is also healthy for those of us trying to get rid of or keep off the baby weight!  This is also a crockpot recipe which is GREAT for all of you out there who think you can’t cook, and those who don’t really have time to.  Just remember to plug IN the crockpot… because that’s important… I know this from experience.

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2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breast

Juice of 1-2 limes (depends on how much of it you want to taste)

1 can black beans, rinsed

1 can whole kernel, no salt added corn, drained

2 Roma tomatoes, diced

1 jalapeno, diced

1 small red onion, diced

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 green onions, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large carrot, diced

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 avocado

shredded 2% Mexican cheese (optional but REALLY worth it)

salt to taste

  1. Throw everything in the crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 6!  In the last couple of hours, take a couple of forks and shred the chicken so that it soaks up the flavor throughout.
  2. Top with a sprinkle of cheese (I don’t use it and it’s fine) and diced avocado

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For the tortilla strips, we got this bag of tortillas from Costco and I just cut 2 into thin strips, tossed in a little olive oil, salt and pepper, baked at 425 for 10-15 mins and done.