I was just checking my Amazon Associates account this morning and they always show you what items are selling really well in a given category on the front page. Well this morning it was Books and one of the best selling books is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.

It just happens that I am reading this book right now. I just thought that was a funny coincidence, so I thought I would share it with you.

It looks like the third book of this trilogy has just come out. Ooh, I better get reading. I didn’t even know this was a trilogy. I am a total sucker for series books. I just never want the story to end.

So far I am really loving it. It did take me three times to get through the first chapter, but I knew this was coming since a friend of my gave it to me to read and she said it is a little hard to get into, but once you get past page 40 or so it is a total page turner.

I have to agree whole heartedly. It is a little dense at the very beginning, but it is necessary back-story so don’t skip ahead. Just start this one when you are in a reading mood.  I’m really looking forward to the can’t put it down moments that are sure to come.

I will come back and update this post once I have finished the book.

For now, here are links to all three books. Let’s get reading…

Book 1: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Book 2: The Girl Who Played with Fire
Book 3: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

Or, get all three books in a hardbound collection for your library.

This is my new favorite children’s book and I just needed to share it with you.

An important and inspiring message of living life more fully.

A must have addition to every child’s book collection.

I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine has.

The Pink Refrigerator by Tim Egan

With New Years here and resolutions on everyone’s mind and such, I thought this might be a good time to share how I quit smoking.  Why I think that it is important to share how I quit smoking is that it was easy, really easy.   It has also been a while now, so I know for sure that it worked and I am never going back. I never even had a moment of withdrawl and when I put the last one out I never looked back.

This isn’t to say that I don’t think about smoking or see someone smoking and wish I could have one, because I do.  I almost see this as a plus.  I know so many people who quit that can’t stand to be around anyone who smokes or smell cigarettes at all.  I actually enjoy the smell of cigarettes, like the comfort of an old friend and I can happily stand and talk with people smoking.  And, even though it smells good and sounds like a great idea, I have no problems just saying “No thanks, I don’t smoke”.

This didn’t happen exactly overnight, but almost.  There was a time or two at the very beginning where I was out and drinking with friends where I caved and had a smoke.  But, I regretted it and it didn’t even really do anything for me and I had no problem never having another.

If you are still a smoker then you are probably thinking right now that I must have been a casual smoker or just be one of those people that can just turn it off.  This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

I became a smoker when I was fifteen years old.  This is not when I started experimenting or casualy smoking, this is when I became a smoker.  I would say that I smoked on average about 1/2 a pack a day when I started out and I peaked at about 1 1/2 packs a day, which I sustained for many years.  After college, I cut back down to a 1/2 pack a day and kept at that for many more years.   Overall, I was a smoker for close to 20 years.

I tried to quit many times and not once was successful for any significant period of time.  The only time I went more than a couple of weeks was when I was pregnant and that was only because it was for my child and not me.  I had a tremendous amount of shame associated with being a smoker and was really motivated to quit, but I also loved it and cherished the process and the time and the act of smoking.  I loved smoking and deep down I’m not sure I really wanted to quit, but I knew that I had to – for me and for my kids.  

But I had no idea how I was possibly going to make it happen.  I was scared that I would never be able to kick it for good and that every day for the rest of my life I would deal with wanting to have a smoke.

Then I heard about this book.  I had heard of people who had had success with it and then I read many of the gazillion reviews on Amazon and said why not try one more thing.  I really didn’t think it was going to work, nothing had before.

So I read it and then I read it again and that was it.  I was no longer a smoker.

Sounds crazy, I know.  But it works.

What book you ask?

The Easy Way to Stop Smoking by Allen Carr

This book helped me to quit smoking for good without withdrawal or regret.  I am so happy to be free of such a huge burden.

Do understand that there is no method here or new information.  Don’t look for the magic pill.  Just read the book and do what it says.  That’s it.

I encourage anyone who wants to quit smoking to read this book.  Just click on the link above and check out the amazon reviews and then judge for yourself.

I am a referencer. When I am reading, I am always looking back to passages or pages or images or whatever that I remember and might be relevant to what I am currently reading or trying to remember what somebody said a few chapters back.

Right now I am reading The Last Lecture. This is a beautiful book and is produced in that parchment way that makes books look old, roughcut I think they call it. The page edges are all uneven and the paper is a little thicker than normal. It is really a quite pleasing effect.

But, it does making turning pages a little challenging, especially when you are trying to hold your place with one finger and turn back to an earlier page with the other.

In bed last night, I am quietly cursing to myself as the page I am looking for is eluding me due to pages sticking together and my general inability to turn the page at all.

Karli is all “use your index finger, what are doing? just use your index finger” and I’m like “what are you talking about, I have to use my thumb or I will lose my place.” “Huh?” is his reply.

This goes on for a while and finally we end in a fit of giggles and I return to reading my book.

Then I notice I am using my index finger to turn the page. I start to giggle and explain that we were both right. “Who would have thought there were such intricacies to turning pages.”

I caught an article today listing 25 Banned Books That You Should Read Today. I was glad to see that ten of these books have graced a bookshelf in my home at one time or another. This includes And Tango Makes Three, which is one of Ada’s favorite picture books.

This is a lovely true story of two male penguins at the central park zoo, who have chosen each other as companions. As they look on as all the other penguin couples tend to their eggs and raise their young, they pine for one of their own.

Everything works out great in the end (I won’t ruin the story for you) and along the way you learn some pretty great lessons about love and family.

I think reading all the books on this list is a good idea. If a book is controversial enough to hit a list like this, then it must at leave have something to say – good, bad or otherwise. Next for me, I think, will be Candide by Voltaire.

Well, I have left my book club. There are many reasons for this, none of which I will get into here. Although I am sad to lose the monthly just for Karin activity, I have started going to yoga once a week and am hoping to increase this to twice a week in another month or so and this provides the away time that I need. I am also really looking forward to exploring new books and genres that I have been missing by constantly reading book club books.

One of my first stops was to an old favorite. It has been several years since I have read
From the Corner of His Eye by Dean Koontz. One of the very few benefits of my checkered past is that my memory for books and movies is just not what it should be and so if I don’t watch a movie or read a book for a couple of years it is almost like reading it for the first time.

Sometimes when you love a book the first time and can’t wait to read it again, it just isn’t the same the next time around. I think that this might be due to the frame of mind you are in when you read it. Books resonate with us due to the context that we place them in in our own lives and sometimes we hit and sometimes we miss.

From the Corner of His Eye, I loved even more the second time around. Now, this is not a book for everyone. I have loaned it out to several people who just couldn’t get into it, even those who love Dean Koontz. This book intertwines the stories of several characters, who all end up having profound impacts on each others lives, even though the connections between them started out quite remote.

It examines and intertwines several of the Quantum theories from which physicists and philosophers alike are looking at our understanding of reality. This book always inspires to me to learn more about quantum theory, so now I am reading Quantum Reality by Nick Herbert to learn more about it. Although dense, it is quite fascinating.

Dean Koontz himself admits that he takes giant leaps from the truth of quantum theory for the sake of the story, but he does present a new way to look at our reality that I find hopeful and enthralling.

Quantum Reality by Nick Herbert

One of the theories intertwined into this story is the many worlds interpretation, where for each place that their exists multiple outcomes a new parallel universe, identical in every way to this one is created where the other choice was made. Does this mean that in the other places I am, that I am an Olympic equestrian? an engineer? a single mother on welfare? Hmm. Makes you look at all the choices we’ve made in our lives in an entirely new way huh?

This is definitely one of the more out their of the quantum theories, but it is backed by science and gaining recognition as something to look into more as it answers one of the major unanswered questions in quantum theory, the quantum measurement problem. Exactly what this means is still way our of my realm of understanding, but I am working on it.

This is a book that inspires that imagination and the scientist in all of us, but it also contains a great story filled with murder, psychosis, family, generosity, loss, grief and love.

If this review has peaked your interest at all, then I highly recommend you suspend your current understanding of reality and plunge into this great novel.

Our February book club book was Life of Pi. This was my month to host and I chose this book because it is one of my favorites of all time. I love the multi layers of storyline and the ending makes you want to call someone who has also read the book to discuss it immediately.

I don’t want to talk about the book itself too much because it would spoil things for a new reader and I hate spoilers. What I will say is that our discussion at book club was great and moved on from the book to religion, politics and other intriguing topics. Everyone has a different perspective on this book and how they view the underlying path of the plot.

A definite book club must read.

For X-mas my mom got me a subscription to Cooking Light Magazine. A couple of years back she bought me the The Best Of Cooking Light cook book and it is absolutely one of my favorites. I cook out of it more than any other cook book I own. The recipes are yummy and healthy and easy to tweak (that’s a big one for me).

Anyway, I was very excited when my first issue of Cooking Light arrived in Late December. As I started to look through it, I realized that this was not just a cooking magazine but a living better magazine. Right across the top of the cover it says “Eat Smart Be Fit Live Well”.

Well, this is a big part of this whole journey for me so I decided the each month’s magazine could be an inspiration for the health part of my quest. Let the fitness articles bring new workouts and exercises, the recipes bring new and healthier foods and the living articles bring inspiration for new projects and goals.

They also have a website expanding on some of the things in the magazine. This should be interesting to check out as well.

I am excited about this and looking forward to learning and sharing new things.

Our January book club book is Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox. This autobiography is inspiring and extremely well written. I really enjoyed it.

As the public we only see the strong and well coping Michael J. Fox and it was good to read about his struggle to accept and live with Parkinson’s disease. It was a very long, tough personal journey for him. His relationship with Tracy and his father are endearing and telling.

Outside of Michael’s personal story, I thought the following quote from Lucky Man was very reflective of what young Hollywood actors and musicians are going through today. With the death of Heath Ledger and the fall of Britney Spears, we look for reason and answers to why this happens to so many.

“An actor’s burning ambition, when you think about it, is to spend as much time as possible pretending to be somebody else. For those of us lucky (or unstable) enough to become professional performers, the uncertainty about who we really are only increases. For many actors, this self-doubt is like a worm eating away at you and growing, incongruously, in direct proportion to your level of success. No matter how great the acceptance, adulation, and accumulation of wealth, gnawing at you always is the deep-seated belief that you’re a fake, a phony. Even if you can bull-shit your way through whatever job you’re working on now, you’d better prepare for the likelihood that you’re never going to get another one.”

Insecurities are something common to this bunch. Imagine living your life under that sort of scrutiny, pressure and self loathing for just one day, let alone years on end. You would likely lose it as well.

Lucky Man also addresses the foundation that he formed. Although he never saw himself as an activist, he has formed an amazing organization who is actually in the business of getting results.

Support the fight for a cure for Parkinson’s disease.

I have a very active brain, it never stops or shuts up, so without my career to keep it stimulated, it goes a little nuts some times. This year, I have really limited the time I am committing to anything business related and my mind has way to much time on its hands. I decided it was time to learn how to be a good housewife and spend more quality time with kids. Also, between the kids and the house and the play dates and school commitments and just trying to get some sleep and a few stolen minutes to myself, there is no way that I could meet a deadline. I feel like I am slowly coming out of this fog and hope I am ready to take on some freelance work as early as this summer.

Anyway, I digress. What am I addicted to, you ask? Puzzles. Specifically number picture puzzles. They are called hanjie, picture sodoku, paint-doku, crosspix etc. Whatever you want to call them, I am addicted. I can’t help myself. I find myself doing them either on paper or online, whenever I get the chance. It keeps my mind working, but is sometimes a distraction.

I play at They have thousands of puzzles with a ton of variety, from simple to extremely challenging. One of my favorite things is that they have color puzzles. These are way more fun to solve and make really pretty pictures. As a premium member, you can upload your own images and convert them to puzzles. All of these are then available to all of the free members as well, so there is a constant supply of new puzzles.

My only gripes are that it only works in IE and sometimes the server is a little slow. They have introduced a new applet that you can get for $5 a month or you can play on the regular server for free. Seems fair to me.

More of a paper and pencil person? Check out these books.