The Piano Tuner

The Piano Tuner @ Amazon.com
'Have you read The Piano Tuner? I just could not put this book down!'
'Oh yes! I read this one in only a couple of days.'
'Okay, good. I won't take this one then.'

This is exactly the conversation I overheard while browsing through the books at the Newberry Library book fair this summer (well, if you call browsing pushing through people to grab a book that YOU saw first). Of course, as soon as I heard the lady was putting the book back down I just had to grab it. This did require me to squat down in a crowd full of people, proceed to look underneath a table, and find the box of books that had not been put on display yet. I'm not really sure why the woman couldn't just put it back on a shelf. Either way, I was not letting this book go!
The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason is an enchanting story of Edgar Drake, commissioned by the British War Office in 1886 to travel to hostile Burma to repair a rare grand piano vital to the country's strategic interests. Eccentric Surgeon-Major Anthony Carroll has brokered peace with local warlords primarily through music, a free medical clinic, and the "powers" of common scientific instruments, much to the dismay of warmongering officers suspect of such unorthodox methods. Drake is an introspective, well-mannered person who, once there, falls in love with Burma and stays long past the piano-fixing to aid Carroll's political agenda.
I have to admit, the conversation I overheard might have gotten me a little too hyped up for the book. I did enjoy it but it was not one of my all-time favorites. The Piano Tuner did a great job of grabbing my attention from the first page, however I felt like Edgar Drake's journey to Burma was a little too long for my taste. I would have enjoyed more action when Mr. Drake arrived at Burma and was introduced to the eccentric Surgeon-Major Anthony Carroll. Dr. Carroll was such a well-developed character and it would have been nice to hear more about him and his adventures. 

All in all, I enjoyed the book. If you ever come across The Piano Tuner, hopefully not in the compromising position I found myself in, be sure to pick it up.


kitty cats

About a month ago, I made a somewhat irrational decision to adopt two 6 month old kittens. Most normal people would think this kind of decision through, given that you are pretty much changing your entire life. I, however, did not. I never even owned a cat or knew anything about cats. The word "litter box" was literally another word for "trash can" to me. I've grown up with dogs all my life, so how much different could cats be? They ARE both animals.. 

I could never have been so wrong.. Cats are extremely different than dogs. They can jump and climb and squeeze into the tiniest of places. Places you didn't even know existed in this apartment. I mean, you would never find a dog in one of your cabinets in the kitchen. You would never expect a dog to jump in your sink, take out the sink stopper, and drop it right next to you. You would never expect a dog to place themselves directly in front of the TV and try to paw themselves INTO the TV. 

But... they are the most adorable kittens in the world. Marley & Charlie are two sisters who are absolutely nothing alike. That seems to be a common theme among sisters in general. Marley is the trouble maker who does not listen to anything I say. Charlie is the most laid back kitten who just wants to sleep next to you all day. I have to say, I think I'm in love.

Let's just hope I don't become a crazy cat lady now. If you do get my hand made Christmas card that has pictures of my kittens all over it, you might want to look the other way. Maybe I have already gone off the deep end...


hello again

I know, I know. It's been awhile. You can only imagine what I've been up to. 

For starters, I moved into my own apartment near the Northside of Chicago in the beginning of September. Not only did I have to move my enormous collection of clothes, shoes and handbags, but I also had to move at least 100 pounds of books that I've collected. Let me tell you, my movers were not happy. I found a place on the top floor of an apartment building that doesn't have an elevator. "It was pretty challenging" might be the understatement of the year.

Prior to moving into my new place, my boyfriend and I took on the project of painting the entire apartment. One important fact to note, I've NEVER painted anything. I must admit, I believe we took on too much in a short amount of time. However, my place has a very catchy name now.. The Yellow Submarine.

The hockey season also started recently and for all of you who know me well, I am a HUGE fan of the Chicago Blackhawks. Given that I try to go to almost every game, October was pretty busy. 

My parent's company also began filming commercials for the family business, which I am a star in. Well, if you count the blonde hair that you can see through a windshield of a car for a split second. I definitely count that! One bonus was that we were lucky enough to have not one, but two Blackhawks players star in the commercial. That was definitely one of my favorite days! More to come once the commercial airs..

My newest adventure I've taken on is the adoption of two kittens! I've never had cats growing up, only dogs. But I have to say, they are AMAZING! They are two sisters, Marley and Charlie. Once I have my camera up and running, I will share more photos. These two girls definitely keep me on my toes. 

And of course, I've read a couple of books along the way... If only I had enough bookcases to fit all these books I own.


The Wild Rose

I've been busy this past week reading a book that I just could not put down. I had been anxiously waiting for The Wild Rose, the third book of the Rose Trilogy by Jennifer Donnelly, to appear in a nicely wrapped Amazon box at my front door. When it finally got here, I had to resist tearing into the box and reading right then and there.

Let me just say, I actually read the book slower so it wouldn't end. That's how much I loved it. Below is the description of the book, which you can also find here.
London, 1914. World War I looms on the horizon, women are fighting for the right to vote, and explorers are pushing the limits of endurance in the most forbidding corners of the earth. In this volatile time lives three exceptional people:
  • Willa Alden, a passionate mountain climber who lost her leg while summiting Kilimanjaro with Seamus Finnegan, and who will never forgive him for saving her life.
  •  Seamus Finnegan, a polar explorer who tries to forget Willa as he courts a beautiful young school teacher back home in England.
  •  Max von Brandt, a handsome German sophisticate who moves in high society London, but has a secret agenda. 
Seamus Finnegan and Max von Brandt both loved Willa Alden, and both men lost her. Neither expects to ever see her again, but when a catastrophic event calls Willa home to London, expectations are smashed, promises broken, and none of the three will ever be the same. As the last golden days of the Summer of 1914 give way to the gathering clouds of war, Willa, Seamus, and Max find their lives forever intertwined in a lethal web of forbidden loves, hidden loyalties, and dangerous lies.  
The Wild Rose is part of the sweeping, multi-generational saga that began with The Tea Rose and continued with The Winter Rose. Many beloved characters from both books continue their adventures in  The Wild Rose. With myriad twists and turns, thrilling cliffhangers, and fabulous period detail and atmosphere, The Wild Rose provides a highly satisfying conclusion to an unforgettable trilogy. 
I've read and throughly enjoyed all of Jennifer Donnelly's novels and this one is no exception. Even though The WIld Rose is part of a trilogy, Ms. Donnelly does such a great job at incorporating the background of the main characters that you don't need to read them all in 
order. I actually stumbled upon The Winter Rose, the second book of the trilogy, at my local library and read that one first. I didn't even know it was part of a trilogy until I looked to see what other books Ms. Donnelly wrote. 

This novel was an action packed adventure from start to finish. Even though the book may look a bit intimating to read (all 600 pages of it), the uncertainties and thrills each character encounters will not let you put this book down.


something blue

Yesterday I had the clever idea to wear a new pair of shoes to work. Two years ago I found these shoes on sale for $15. What a steal! Why I've never worn them since they were bought was a mystery to me, until today. These lovely shoes are a light blue color with a chunky heel, reminding me of something Carrie Bradshaw would wear. I never seemed to have the right outfit that would go with these pairs of shoes. Well, today ended that catastrophe. I decided to wear these blue shoes with a light grey dress. Perfect a nice day at work, or so I thought.

As I walked into the office yesterday morning with my fancy blue shoes on, I was told by a co-worker they were "fabulous". What a great start to my day! Too bad it pretty much went downhill from there. As the morning progressed, I started to notice how many times I would need to get up from my desk. Coffee break since I was feeling a little sleepy. Bathroom break because of all the coffee I've been drinking. Water break since I'm feeling a little dehydrated. Bathroom break from all that water. Invitation to lunch that I have to accept. A couple of city blocks to our lunch destination. Back to my desk. Print job that I have to save from the printer. Water break again. Bathroom break again. I'm sure your starting to get the picture. 

By the time five 'o clock rolls around, my feet are screaming "please, please, PLEASE don't walk any farther!" Only problem is, I have to get to the train station that's five blocks from my building. All I can say is, if you happened to see someone limping down Monroe Street yesterday in light blue shoes, looking like she just learned how to walk, it was nice meeting you.

Maybe that's why those shoes were on sale...


hello my name is Kate..

..and I think I might have a slight problem. Nothing to be too worried about. I mean, it could be worse. My problem could be an addiction to $1,000 Louis Vuitton purses or maybe $200,000 high-rise condos. Even though I wish I could afford those kinds of addictions, mine doesn't really fit into those price ranges. Nevertheless, I seem to have a problem.
I am addicted to books. Seriously. In the past week and a half I've bought thirty-four books. I just couldn't stop. First, came the Newberry Library Book Fair here in Chicago that I wait for every year. Each book was $2 or less so I had to buy twenty-two books. When will you ever find great books in amazing shape for only $2? Next came the going-out-of-business sale at Borders (which I'm very sad about by the way) where I bought ten books. Then one of my favorite authors, Jennifer Donnelly, came out with her new book so of course I had to pre-order 'A Wild Rose'. Finally, I was in a local book store last weekend in Lake Geneva, WI and couldn't fight the urge to not support a local bookstore causing me to buy yet another book. Thirty-four books. I think I need to steer clear of all book stores for a while.

Hello my name is Kate and this space is meant to be a place to share my amusing reviews on books I've read as well as the random incidences I find myself in every day.