Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Heroine's March 2012 Reads

This entry is a bit late since we are now settling down in our new home in San Diego (blog post to come). I didn't read anything the last week of March, so I think I did pretty well. I am happy that I am getting back into reading and a bit of writing. Today I put together my office/spare room so it hard not to feel happy! Anyway, here are my March Reads!

The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff
Between the plot and setting, this book kept me engaged from the very beginning. I had no clue what was going to happen next.

Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton
I finally read all books by The Merry Sisters of Fate (which includes the book above), and I believe this one is my favorite out of all their work. I'm a huge fan of witch books, and this one was no different except that it is different. The switch between two perspectives and their journey into blood magic kept me reading. There are twists and turns that I didn't see coming, and that is one reason why I am looking forward to the other two books in the trilogy.

Legend by Marie Lu
Mockingjay pin an awesome friend
gave me for the movie.
Our last event in Fargo
before the big move.
This is another one of those novels that switches between two perspectives-- and it is more than worth of it. Seeing both sides of the story as pieces are fitted together have this book moving at a fast pace that also kept me guessing at what would happen next. One of the big revelations wasn't too surprising, but it doesn't matter to me. This dystopian was well written and I am ready for more!


The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This is a re-read that I decided to do before the big movie (which I concluded is utterly breathtaking). There is one scene that I wished stayed in the movie (Spoiler: Peeta losing his leg and Katniss's reaction), but it was great preparation in some of the little details. I can't wait to read the next two (again) as the other movies come out.


Unfinished
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi 
There aren't many books that I leave unfinished so I hope not to have this section often. I couldn't get into this writing, and since I have quite a few books on my list, I figured it was time to move on. I do give books between 50-100 pages to decide, and sometimes it just happens. I will refer you to a review by a friend that did finish the book just to be fair.

Currently Reading
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Happy reading!

Natasha

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

North Dakota Roads Taken


Last weekend the roads were icy when we attempted the drive to my parents’ place. We made it up to Grand Forks, ND, about an hour north of Fargo where we currently live, and we had to turn around. We rescheduled for this weekend and the weather was better than perfect for this time of year. There was ice outside of the front door that my dad kept warning us about, but when we walked out Saturday morning, the sun had melted it all away.

This trip was much different than the other ones because of our upcoming move to San Diego. The prairie, the snow, the fields, the signs, the people—everything had home etched into it for me.  Some of these are part of me, and others I had forgotten. Some are now empty, but somehow they still felt full.

We drove through towns that I visited often throughout my childhood. There was Devils Lake where we used to camp, the Geographical Center of the North America monument in Rugby where my brother Ricky and I had our picture taken in 1988, and the lake where my parents live where we used to camp before they decided to retire there.

We traveled from Fargo, west of Grand Forks n Highway 2 up to Bottineau on the way there.
On the way back we took Highway 5 back to the Intestate that lead us home.
I grew up west of Cavalier in a town of 15 people named Concrete. 
We took a different route back, heading down Highway 5 that lead us all the way to my hometown and a different town where I graduated from high school. I grew up in a small town and I had to always go somewhere else to get my haircut, go to church, buy books, and visit my friends. There is something about having that stretched out geography that helped me have a greater appreciation for my home state.  We passed the graves of my grandparents’ and great-grandparents’, the valley in which I grew up in, Icelandic State Park where we spent the last day of school, my school where I spent my K-12, the hospital where I was born, and my best friend’s house when she moved into town. All these things unwrapped in my mind.

This was a time of not saying good-bye, but more acknowledging of where I came from and who I have become.   Everything had some type of reminder or memory, and there was song in it.  

The note our eldest nephew gave us. I'm going to miss those kids!

We pull out of Fargo on March 25th. Over the next week, we will be spending time with our friends at our favorite places and having a Going Away Party on St. Patty’s Day. This is like a celebration of the life that we built here, but it was an experience to re-visit the life I had before I moved here and met my husband. It was my last trip as a full-blooded North Dakotan, but it is never truly going to fade away.

Natasha

Monday, March 5, 2012

Things to Do and Where to Eat in Fargo, North Dakota

Even though we are moving to San Diego at the end of the month, I have to write a post about some of the great things about Fargo, North Dakota. It has, after all, been my home for the last eleven and a half years.  These are the things I will indulge in when I return to visit family and friends or recommend to visitors. These are mostly original places that you won't find as chains, and give this city charm that I didn't know existed for the first few years I lived here.

Food
Green MarketDelicious food and bread. Vegetarian and Vegan friendly. Rotating menu depending on what is in season so it is very fresh and unique.

Nichole's Fine PastryThe 8th Street location and the look of the building that houses Nichole's helps with the French charm. Best desserts in town, hands down. Great place to have some tea and visit with friends. They have some yummy sandwiches and salads, as well.

Xtreme Pizza Kitchen- This pizza place is our absolute favorite and we don't order from anywhere else if we can help it. Another vegetarian friendly place since the owner is one (the Joyful Vegetarian pizza is named after her). They also have Gluten free crusts and an excellent lunch buffet.

Charlie's Ice Cream Parlour- The feel of an old-fashioned ice cream shop with antiques and a fun menu. The owner is super friendly and great place to go for some real ice cream treats.

Hodo- This is someplace I like to go for something a bit fancier. It is in the heart of downtown and their menu is has the kind of food you won't find in chains (which isn't a bad thing!).

Jade Dragon-  Their sesame tofu is amazing and they serve excellent Pho (Vietnamese) soup. We took my husband's family here, and now when we go out, this is the place they always want to go.

Tutti FruittiI have only been to this frozen yogurt shop, but my friends have told me that this is the best one in town. I won't argue. Though, I'm also a Dairy Queen girl.

Sandy's Donuts- Krispy Kreme donuts didn't have a chance in Fargo. Sandy's Donuts is staying strong and they taste so much better.

Pizza Corner- When we want to spend less on pizza, we head to the frozen section and pick up Pizza Corner. It is spendier than other frozen pizzas, but more than worth it. It is made in Valley City, ND and they have a pizzeria there. I am so going to miss this pizza!!! I grew up with it since they're served in bars all over North Dakota (my parents used to bring them home for us. The closest I had to delivery living in the country!).

Thai Orchid- Located in the Moorhead Center Mall, I have to say that their Pineapple Fried Rice is my favorite. They have lots of items on their menu and they can add a little heat if you like it that way.

Places and Events
CoreCon- I might be a bit biased since I was a con chair for four years, but this event is worth bragging about. It is a fantastic science fiction and fantasy convention run by dedicated fans. When we return to Fargo, we will come back during the weekend of the event to see old friends and it will be guaranteed fun. It happens at the first week of May.

Eco Chic Boutique- They sell crafts, funky furniture, and eco-friendly items. It is always fun to see what they have in the store.

Art Materials- I bought my fountain pen here and they are the must go place for any artist.

Zandbroz- This is where I always look for unique gifts. Zandbroz also has book readings and a neat little cafe and the only independent bookstore in Fargo. Though, they do have a few good used bookstore, too.

Hjemkomst- Technically in Moorhead, this is the one museum or attraction you have to visit. The building is shaped around a replica Viking ship built by a local.  and they run great exhibits and events throughout the year that focus a lot on science, art, culture, and history. There is also a replica of the Stave Church, a Norwegian church. The only one like it is at Disney's Epcot, but trust me, it isn't nearly as impressive as the real carved wooden details of this one. During the summer, you can rent a canoe or take a pontoon ride from the Riverkeepers. We did it one summer and had an enjoyable time learning more about Fargo and the Red River of the North.

Prairie Home Cemetery- Also located in Moorhead, this is the origin of the name for Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion on NPR. I drove by it often on my way to class at Minnesota State University Moorhead (Go Dragons!!!).

These are the places that I will visit when I come back to see family and friends, or the ones I tell people about when talking about Fargo-Moorhead. If you ever in the neighborhood, I hope this helps with your trip.

Natasha

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