Weekly Photo: Twinkle

By Nora Vasconcelos

Twinkle by NVS

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I'm part of Post A Week 2014

Weekly Photo: Converge

By Nora Vasconcelos

Converge by NVS

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I'm part of Post A Week 2014

My year in books

Text by Nora Vasconcelos

2013 books
If I had to choose a title for my year in books, I would say that it should be 2013: Back to the Classics.

And this is because this year I spend a good deal of time getting amazed (one more time and from an adult perspective), by some of the most well recognized books such as Frankenstein by Mary Shelly; From the Earth to the Moon and Round the Moon, by Jules Verne; Dracula, by Bram Stocker, and of course, my always faithfull companion, the Sherlock Holmes stories, by Conan Doyle.

I also discovered -thanks to my friends-, the magic of old stories such as Superman, particularly the old radio shows from the 40’s and 50’s, which were based on the original comic version of the superheros or on old fiction works from the 30’s.

My love for mystery stories remain fresh thanks to some of the books of the series Murder, She Wrote, by Donald Bain. My favorite one so far is Murder in Minor Key, and I like this one because it’s placed in New Orleans, one of my favorite cities in all the world.

Another suspense book for this year was Inferno, by Dan Brown, and what I liked the most of this story was that it’s placed in Florence, city which I also like a lot.

However, my very favorite mystery/suspense book of this year it the one I’m currently reading that it’s call The burglar in the library, by Lawrence Block. The story happens in an old English style cottage not far from New York city, and then it’s developed by the author in a delightful way, leading the reader from one room to the other in order to solve the mysterious events that are ruining everybody’s weekend.

Not related to this genre, I came back to the Steven Milhausser stories. I started last year with Eisenheim The Illusionist, and I continued this year with the collection of short stories under the title The Barnum Museum. What I love about Milhausser it his attention to the details and the precision of the descriptions of every single part of the rooms where the stories happen, making of the surrounding key elements to the story the same as the characters.

My Christmas book for this year, is one that I’ve just bought. It’s title is The Bridge, by Karen Kingsbury. It’s a sweet love story gone all wrong combined with a stressful situation related to a library that is about to go under. What will it happened? It’s still for me to find out, but by the speed I’m turning the pages, I’m sure I’ll get all the answers before 2014 comes here.

As for Non-fiction books, I’m taking great delight with The Big Bands by George T. Simon, as it tell the story of this music movement that started to be very popular in the States, back then in the 1940’s.

Cooking books, another fiction novels and short stories were also part of my 2013 reading list and for all of them, each one of them, I’m truly thankful.

What will I be reading in 2014? The list it long, the pile is high, and the thrill of going through my new acquisitions is immensely big.

Until then, Happy readings to you all!

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The irresistible joy of cookie books

Text by Nora Vasconcelos

Photo by Anna Langova
Photo by Anna Langova

It’s funny how I can’t never get tired of cookie books. Whenever I’m wandering around a bookstore I can’t resist the temptation of buying a new book with all sort of recipes to prepare cookies.

Most of the time I restrain myself, but, from time to time I just surrender to the wonders of this unique pieces of happiness and enjoyment.

Of course I enjoy making cookies, but most of the joy comes just from browsing the books, reading the recipes, imagining how the ingredients combine and leaving in my mouth the sweet idea of how any given cookie should taste as soon as it’s out of the oven.

Among my favorite cookie books, these take priority on my bookcase: Holiday Cookies and Treats; Perfect Cookies: Delicious, easy and fun to make; 500 Cookies: The only cookie compendium; The Great Big Cookie Book, and Swiss cookies: Biscuits for Christmas and all year round.

From these, 500 Cookies gave me an immense source of happiness as I got the calendar version, so I was able to go through each one of the recipes day by day, making my mornings both enjoyable and delicious. Although, it’s worth saying that they aren’t in fact 500 different recipes, but three different versions of each cookie. Anyways, it’s something I really like.

The Great Big Cookie Book and Perfect cookies are amazing books to go through and it’s hard no to feel hungry after turning several pages of them.

Of course, baking cookies is always a big challenge, there are so many variations to take into consideration that some times it’s an interesting task to prepare the perfect cookie, but it sure is fun to try! And to try with a good deal of success, Holiday Cookies and Treats is a friendly book that presents in an easy way all sort of Christmas cookies, from shortbread to brownies.

The Swiss Cookies book is my most recent acquisition, and I like that it really puts me in the right mood to feel as if I were walking around one of those busy streets of Zurich, enjoying myself with the sight of the cookies and the treats shown in the window displays, waiting for me to seat down and rest for a moment, while enjoying the traditional recipes of this country.

And now, it’s cookie time! Enjoy šŸ˜€

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Faces of love

Text and Photo by Nora VasconcelosRainy love by NVS

One of those days that I allow myself to wonder for hours around a bookstore I found Out of the Rain, a book by Debbie Macomber. As I like a lot Macomber’s work with the Blossom street and the Christmas series (specially Mrs. Miracle and Call Me Mrs. Miracle), I didn’t hesitate for a second to buy this book in which, the author explores “two ways to look at marriage”.

In the first part of the book, Marriage Wanted, Macomber brings to live two strong characters with opposite positions related to Marriege, Savannah is a born romantic while Nash is still dealing with the anger and dissapoinment that his divorce brought to him and that has made him distrust love.

The plot is easy to follow although this two characters make the reader sometimes wish it’d be possible to help them come to their senses and stop fighting. However, it’s through all this arguing that Savannah and Nash fall in love and manage, with lots of difficulties, to find some common ground for their love and their believes.

In the second part of the book, Laughter in the rain, Abby Carpenter suddendly finds herself at a crossroad where she has to decide between her very predictable and practical boyfriend, and a new guy who’s totally the opposite, unpredictable and very exciting.

As it has happened to me with each one of the books by Debbie Macomber, when I finished Out of the rain, I had this easy feeling of happines and relaxation that good stories always bring to me.

And, as Macomber herself says in her opening letter, “my hope is that you’ll curl up with this book some rainy afternoon, a hut cup of tea (I actually had a cup of hot cappucino) in hand, and become engrossed in these stories”.

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Welcome Home 2013!!!

May the happy times full yout life!
May the happy times full yout life!
All my best wishes for you all!!!

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Christmas books for all moods!

Text and Photo by Nora Vasconcelos

Joy to the World.
Joy to the World.
The Holiday seasason usually give us the chance to take a break and relax, to think about what’s happened during the year, treasure even more the closeness of our loved ones and get a new set of dreams for the year to come.

For this cheerful time when our souls are all full of joy, there are a couple of books I like, Mrs. Miracle and Call me Mrs. Miracle, by Debbie Macomber. In both of them, love and hope are the key elements of these charming stories.

However, every now and then, the moods are not quite in sync with the Christmas joyful spirit, and for this times, there are also some good reading options such as A Rumpole Christmas, by John Mortimer (1923 – 2009), who created a ‘grinchy’ character, Horace Rumpole, who experiences all kind of situations during the Holiday Season.

If mystery is required to light up the spirit, the collection of short stories Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop is the option. The book, edited by Otto Penlzer, owner of the Mysterious bookshop (placed in New York) presents a group of special stories written by mystery authors such as Mary Higgins Clark and Thomas H. Cook, who have placed their characters in all sort of Christmas scenes.

Finaly, Skipping Christmas, by John Grisham, is a good way to release all that frustration that might come due to the crows at the shopping centers and supermarkets during this season and all the preasure that sometimes appears from friends and no friends to organize outstanding parties and to set out-of-the-world decorations.

So, whichever is the kind of book that you feel like reading, I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2013!

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Weekly Photo: Surprise

Photo by Nora Vasconcelos

Inspirational recipes.
Inspirational recipes.
What a better surprise than spending a few moments in a fantasy world made of sweets and candy! Merry Christmas!!! šŸ˜€

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An unexpected Christmas celebration

Text and Photo by Nora Vasconcelos

Happy Holidays Season!
John Grisham is a very well known author whose works is often linked to suspense stories in which lawyers are involved trying to help deseperate helpless people. But this time, the author has prepared a surprising story in which Christmas is the main character.

Skipping Christmas is not a classical seasonal story as it reflects all the stress that people can get while getting ready for the holidays season, from buying the right tree to fighting the crowds in order to get the right ingridients for Christmas dinner and the exact presents for everybody.

As the story goes by, one family manages to come up with an ingenious plan to skip the whole celebration, thinking that this will not only help them find some relief from the stress that they get every year, but also to save some money.

What they don’t have in mind is that John Grisham has prepared a completely different plan for them, and as much as they want to forget all about Christmas, it keeps coming around their lives.

One obstacle after another will appear in their lives until the very end of the story, when suspense and emotions are the main ingredients of their very own Christmas celebration!

Happy Holidays! šŸ˜€

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Miracles are coming to town!

Text and Photo by Nora Vasconcelos

A time when everything can happen.
Mrs. Merkle is a sweet lovely nosy old lady that appears unexpectedly when something needs to be fixed.

Nobody knows where she comes from, or how even she manages to appear right on time, what everybody notices is that she’s there and that she’s called Mrs. Miracle.

Everybody asks why? How so? Is that her real name?

She smiles and then she simply says that she’s Mrs. Merkle, but there has been a mistake and that she has been called Mrs. Miracle. And then, she carries on with watherver she’s doing.

This charming character is the main character of two books written by Debbie Macomber, Mrs. Miracle and Call me Mrs. Miracle.

In Call me Mrs. Miracle, Emily Merkle appears just in time to fix Christmas for a group of people who have lost their faith and go on with their lives, trying to regain the joy that comes with the holiday season.

Mrs. Miracle, of course, reaches everybody’s sensibility with her nosy-pushy sweetnes and makes them think about what life has to offer and how some things that might seam simple can be lift up the spirits of someone who’s looking for some hope.

As the story goes on, things starts to change and the characters get another perspective of Christmas, up to a point when they start getting aware of how wonderful this time of the year can be.

In the end, Mrs. Miracle achieves what she has come for and gets ready to make more people happy.

As long as she’s needed, she’ll be there!

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