Bookclub Unbound Reading List 2013

1815 (pub)
Emma by Jane Austen
Chosen by Rochelle

1818 (pub)
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Chosen by Erin

1862 (pub)
Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
Chosen by Allegra

1899 (pub)
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Chosen by Rebecca

1925 (pub)
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Chosen by Leah

1940’s (written)
Delta of Venus by Anais Nin
Chosen by Maria

1957 (pub)
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Chosen by Koree

1972 (pub)
Surfacing by Margaret Atwood
Chosen by Lizette

1978 (pub)
Sacajawea by Anna Lee Waldo
Chosen by Tonya

Why do we love Vampires?

I have been sick for the past 2 days, so I was able to watch some shows that I had recorded amongst which were True Blood, Vampire Diaries, and Being Human.

I realized that vampires seem to be playing a bigger and bigger role in the world of tv, film and publishing. It used to be Bram Stroker and old re-runs of Béla Lugosi. Then Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampirebrought new blood to the genre along with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

And then it just exploded. A recent search for “vampire” at amazon returned no less than 23,157 results. It gets even crazier. Check out these titles from the following sub-genres of “vampire”:

Biting Back: A No-Nonsense, No-Garlic Guide to Facing the Personal Vampires in Your Life

The Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia (Volume 2); Being Babylonian and Assyrian Incantations Against the Demons, Ghouls, Vampires,

Professional & Technical:
The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: A Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager and the Doomed

Greedy Bastards: Corporate Communists, Banksters, and the Other Vampires Who Suck America Dry (for Koree)

Cooking, Food & Wine:
Love at First Bite: The Complete Vampire Lover’s Cookbook

The Vampire and the Vegan, Book I: Food

Gay & Lesbian:
The Vampire With The Pink Handbag Fully Loaded Version

Better Off Red: Vampire Sorority Sisters Book 1

Art & Photography:
How to Draw Vampires: Discover the secrets to drawing, painting, and illustrating immortals of the night

Learn to Draw Like the Masters: Vampires: Collected manuscripts detailing the masters’ secrets for studying, drawing, and painting vampires

Emma and the Vampires(Jane Austen Undead Novels)
How to Get a Date With a Vampire

It seems these days everyone is on the vampire bandwagon. Even Jane Austen. So why do you think we love vampires so much?

What I just finished reading

My favorite place to find a good book is at the Gibson’s Public Library on the shelf area where one checks out their books.

Given that I am usually there with my badly behaved soon to be 4-year old, I don’t have a lot of time to peruse the shelves. So this is a convenient place to grab and go. I am rarely disappointed. And, once in a while, I get a really good one.

Enter The Various Flavors of Coffee: A Novel. Set in London at the end of the 19th Century, the story follows the adventures of an Oxford man who has been “sent down” and gets swept up into the coffee trade. I won’t give away anything else as I prefer to be surprised but I can assure you that the story is gripping. I couldn’t put it down and finished it in 2 days. (Footnote: I also gave up my coffee addiction a few weeks ago and reading this book was like seeing an old lover…or sitting near a smoker to deliberately catch a whiff of second-hand smoke.)

The Musty Smell of Old Books

I am a big big fan of technology. I am also grateful to be alive during the birth and development of the internet. But one thing I don’t think I will ever be able to wrap my mind around is the “E-Reader”. Don’t get me wrong. I fully intend to avail myself of an iPad2 once the insanity at the stores has subsided. But I really don’t see using it to replace books.

Books have a special heft to them. They smell good. And I can take it into the bath with minimal risk of expensive damage. And let’s face it, the bath is where I read the most.

E-books also have no history. Because I also love old, used books.

As a kid, I used to trawl the libraries when they were selling off their old collections. I remember one book in particular that apparently had been a school book during the 1910’s and 20’s. There were doodles of flappers in the pages. How awesome!

Flipping through the pages of these used books and discovering the story was literally like following in the footsteps of the previous reader. You also discover great books that are no longer in print.

I kept all of my books from childhood. And now I am rediscovering them as I read them to my kids each night. Another reason why the internet is great, you can easily track down some of these old titles that have either been re-printed or else are available used. One of my all time favorites, “Beginners Luck” by Oriel Malet is sadly not available at However, many of my other favorite titles are:

A few years ago I was visiting Portland and discovered Powell’s. An amazing 4-story book store that takes up an entire city block. In their children’s section was an entire wall right up to the 15’ ceiling of old, used children’s books. Heaven.

If you haven’t been there, it is worth a trip to Portland just for this (although there are lots of other good reasons to visit Portland). Or you can check them out online at

What books would Mireille Guiliano take to a desert island?

Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Les Yeux d’Elsa (Elsa’s Eyes)  a poem by Louis Aragon

Recommended by Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don’t Get Fat

To learn more about our “Special Guest” Book Recommendations project, please click here.

Started a New Long Series!

So after years of touting the merits of this series (which is impossible to find on our Coast), Erin W finally got her collection of Tad Williams‘ Otherland series back and lent it to me.  I am about 40 pages in to the first book “Otherland Volume 1: City of Golden Shadow” and so far I love it.

I also find it terrifyingly close to the bone in terms of what the future will (note I did not say may) hold.  Like Neal Stephenson and William Gibson (2 of my all-time favorite writers), this book promises a futuristic world that is just around the corner.  The prose is also poetic, a sentence I just read “He walked on beneath the unmoving sun, wisps of cloud rising from his heels like smoke.”

The best thing about this is that the book is almost 800 pages long, and part of a four book series.  Yeah!

Book Club Recipe: Fancy Mint Chocolate Cookies

I LOVE perusing recipes.  And if I am on a flight so much the better.  I am a captive audience.  Plus given the dearth of food on the airlines these days, it is another form of sustenance.

Several years ago, I was on an American Airlines flight and found this recipe in their inflight magazine.  I made the cookies at the time and thought how amazing they were.  But I am not a big sweets kind of gal, so I sort of filed the recipe away in the back of my brain. Then, just the other day, I happened upon some Andes mints that were on sale (a key component to this recipe) and it triggered the saliva response that reminded me of this recipe.

I just made the cookies again today and it has become a battle to keep my kids from ingesting the entire batch.  I just threw half of the batch into the freezer to safeguard them from further attack.

Anyway, these are really good cookies and much easier to make than the result would belie:

  • ¾ cup butter (salted or unsalted, use what you have)
  • 1½ cups of packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I only had 1 1/2 cups and substituted the rest with 2 squares (2 ozs) of unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 2 eggs
  • 2½ cups white flour
  • 1¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • approx 20 pcs of Andes mints cut in half to make 40 squares or so

Melt butter, brown sugar and chocolate (chips) in a saucepan over low heat and stir until everything is melted together.  Put it into your mixing bowl and let cool (about 20 to 30 minutes)

Add flour, baking soda and finally the eggs.  Mix it in on your lowest mixer setting until blended.

Put bowl in the refrigerator and chill for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Your dough might be a bit crumbly but should hold together once you start forming the balls with your fingers.  Mine were about 3/4″ in diameter and yielded about 45 cookies.  Grease your cookie sheets and put the balls on them.  I recommend flattening them slightly with your finger at this point.

Bake for 9 to 10 minutes.  During this time it is a good idea to make sure that you unwrap the Andes mints and cut them in half as you will have to hustle once you pull the cookies from the  oven.

Remove cookies from oven and place a half of the Andes mint on each one. As the candy melts, spread it across the top of the cookie with a butter knife.  I found that my cookies did not emit enough heat so I put them back in the oven (with the heat turned off) for a few minutes.

The cookies break easily when they are warm, so let them cool a bit before transferring to a rack.