Adventure: Mount Kilimanjaro, here I come!

I believe in adventure and challenging myself, just beyond my comfort zone.

I have been researching, planning, and doing more research to make sure I understand what I'm getting myself into...

My next adventure will test my boundaries and comfort....

I'm climbing one of the Seven Summits! Mount Kilimanjaro to be specific.

Why this one?

I'm in love with Africa.  It's also the least rigorous of the seven, and I have breathing concerns related to elevation (my lungs burn quickly).

I have been exploring this idea for a while.  Just a few months after completing the Ultra Marathon (Jan 2011) while traveling in Italy I met a gal who has climbed a few summits.  She even invited me to join a climbing group in NY to learn how to climb.  The commitment was to much at the time, with a six hour drive each way, but the idea stuck.

Eighteen months later I'm beyond excited to tell you that I have my eyes set on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro (summit:19,341).

More to follow as I finalize plans bookending the trek (Istanbul prior to our arrival at base camp, and a week relaxing/exploring Tanzania post summit). Yes, I have talked WT into doing this with me which makes this a 'we' challenge (one of us will over prepare, one will show the other that preparing is overrated).  HA!

~ Life, it's happening!

Books: January Reviews!

A good month for me with six book reviews, spanning four genres (self-discovery, YA, historical fiction, and chick-lit).

Being on vacation provided time... to relax, to read.

I'm reading a lot of non-fiction travel books/essays, cookbooks, and self discovery genres while mixing in fiction and my favorite... personal memoirs!  I never know when to share self-discovery books but here's one I'm currently listening to that's worth mentioning:

The Art of Power:  A book given to me a months ago.  The content isn't new but it's always good to reflect on what's important (live an honest, morally sound life).  I just happened to be listening to the chapter on 'being mindful' while on a walk. Honest... I just snapped this photo when the 'be mindful' chapter started!

I take a photo every day when I'm outside, with the intention to find beauty in my surroundings.  This is important when you walk the same path daily!

Have you read any of these titles?  A few misses and a few wonderful reads to share.


Love 2.0: I loved this book! I’m of the belief that relationships (of all kinds) require effort to keep them healthy, alive, and growing. I like to reach out, connect with people to see how they are doing, a quick update from time to time.  I shed a tear after realizing WT and I are doing the right stuff to feed our family with love.

I bought a copy for a friend who is at a cross road in life, it's important for each of us to pause and revisit 'how to love'.  It requires nurturing, and isn't a given.  This book is a refresher on what love is and isn't, with a message that it's up to each of us to find ways to nourish/fill ourselves with love.

Knowledge bytes:

-  Like babies, we are all designed to thrive on love, it's a vital nutrient
-  Bonds last, love doesn't
-  Fill your days with micro-moments
-  Fill in the blank: "if only I were____" (more organized, smarter, etc).  We train ourselves to withhold love, until meeting unspoken preconditions and love never flows.
-  Opportunities for love abound.  It's up to you to nourish yourself with them.
-  End of each chapter has a nice summary and exercises

My Goodreads rating: 5 stars

Delirium: A surprising choice for me ($3 nook read).  I actually enjoyed this book and am happy to have tried YA again.  

Synopsis: 95 days, and then I'll be safe.  I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with, it's hard to be patient.  So far the deliria hasn't touched me. 

My goodreads rating: 4 stars

The Perks of being a Wallflower: An odd book.  I can’t see recommending to anyone but there is a lot to discuss! I am curious to hear someone talk about the book vs the movie. There’s so much in the book that can’t be captured on film.

As with most book club selections, I tend to like the book more after discussing it. The MMBC enjoyed this book and we had a great discussion, for the better part of an hour (be aware there is a lot of sexual content). Have you read this book? Thoughts?

Synopsis: A novel about a withdrawn teem who attempts to remain hopeful for the future while dreading every day of the present. 

My goodreads rating: 3 stars, possibly 4 after talking about it.  

The Purple Shroud: This is the sequel to Theodora, one of my favorite novels read in recent years.  The writing is stunning, I couldn't put this book down and was so happy I held off reading it until I had time to dedicate to the book.

Synopsis: Theodora is at the height of her power, bringing the ancient world alive in another unforgettable, epic saga. 

My goodreads rating: 4 stars


The Edible WomanA good friend gave this to me to read, saying her really enjoyed it when she read it years ago.  I didn't enjoy the main character at all, which made this one a struggle.  This is my second Atwood novel that I didn't like so I think it’s time to move on. The first book I read I didn't finish (The Year of the Flood).

Synopsis: Marian has a problem.  A willing member of the consumer society in which she lives, she suddenly finds herself identifying with the things being consumed.

My goodreads rating: 2 stars

The Song Remains the Same: Memory is a theme I’m seeing over and over.  This is a new twist on memory loss.  A good story for vacation, or a weekend read (I read this on a road trip).  The plot moves along nicely, keeping the reading wondering what will happen. 

Synopsis: Nell wakes in the hospital with no memory of the horrific experience-or who she is, or was.

My goodreads rating: 3 stars

Travel: Crossing the Atlantic

Hello Friends,
Have you been on a cruise? Do you enjoy them? 

Earlier this month, I joined my father on a seven night cruise from NYC to Southampton, to visit Oxford and London.  We would sail to London (3,459 miles) and fly home.

My father had double knee replacement surgery this year and I didn't want him to travel alone.  He wanted to take cruise vs flying to avoid the small seats and gradual time change.  Did you know that at sea they adjust an hour a day, midday?

Leading up to the trip I was anxious since there is no way off the boat, January is the known for rough seas, and the news confirmed a terrible flu outbreak on the QM2. 

Cruise Highlights:

The QM2 made no stops… it was me, water, a boat, and a thousand senior citizens ~ photo to right was my uniform: headset, scarf, vest, sunglasses, ipod

I met Celia Imrie. She’s just delightful

Madame Butterfly - in 3D

The entertainment was okay. The violinist on board will be on Britain's Got Talent, he has a great spirit about him.

Satellite internet is very slow, and expensive, but kept me busy. I was able to be online everyday. I worked for a few hours each morning, keeping up with email, enjoying the view and consuming a lot of green tea.

Video Skype is amazing

My dad was a big hit!  There were at least 50 widows/single ladies for every one man on board.  I kept joking that I accompanied him to make sure he didn't get married.

Books I can’t wait to read!

There are so many bookstores in England, they are everywhere!  Possibly a bookstore for every three coffee shops in Oxford.  It was amazing to have time to browse, walking from store to store.  The buildings are old, filled with steps, and often the best treasures are found on the sixth floor in the back where the ceiling is at a slant.

Here are a few books that are new to me, I can't wait to read them:

The Hungry Ghosts (April 2013): In Buddhist myth, the dead may be reborn as "hungry ghosts"—spirits with stomach so large they can never be full—if they have desired too much during their lives. It is the duty of the living relatives to free those doomed to this fate by doing kind deeds and creating good karma. In Shyam Selvadurai’s sweeping new novel, his first in more than a decade, he creates an unforgettable ghost, a powerful Sri Lankan matriarch whose wily ways, insatiable longing for land, houses, money and control, and tragic blindness to the human needs of those around her parallels the volatile political situation of her war-torn country.

The Madman’s Daughter: Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect.

The Man who Forgot his Wife: A man wakes up on a train and has no idea who he is. Initially no one wants to help him until a good samaritan points out the nearest hospital a few blocks away. Vaughan finally learns who he is, he is amazed to find out he has a two children and is in the final stages of a brutal divorce.

Have you read any of these titles? Do you have any book recommendations to share?

Books I can't wait to read!

I love getting books in the mail, especially when they pique my interest and I can’t decide which one to read first. I work with a fabulous PR group that exposes me to wonderful titles and I can’t wait to read these books.  All set in Turkey, from modern day to Ottoman Empire.

Wait until I share the loot I brought home from Europe - I bought 18 books!

I started the first one today...
When Wings Expand (publish: Feb 2013): Winner of the Unpublished Muslim Writer's Award 2011

Writing on the pages of her journal, Nur, a teenage girl in Canada, charts the onset and advance of her mother's cancer. Nur watches her mother's body begin to shrink and her mood begin to darken. And when family and friends begin to encroach, Nur must face the prospect of her mother's looming death.

Nur bears the crushing loss and finds her adolescent life more demanding and complex. But with the legacy of her mother's love, her family's support, and the guidance of her faith, she manages to overcome the searing pain and use her newfound strength to bring joy to the lives of others, showing them that after death wings can expand.

Baksheesh (publish March 2013): Kati Hirschel, the owner of Istanbul's only mystery bookstore, is fed up. It all started when her lover Selim insisted that she behave like the Turkish wife of a respectable lawyer. Looking demure and making witty small talk were the only requirements. Then her landlord announced an outrageous rent increase on her Istanbul apartment.

She has no desire to move in with Selim. She'd rather learn the art of bribing government officials in order to find a new place. Kati is offered a large apartment with a view over the Bosphorus at a bargain price. Too good to be true until a man is found murdered there and she becomes the police's prime suspect. In her second novel Esmahan Aykol takes us to the alleys and boulevards of cosmopolitan Istanbul, to posh villas and seedy basement flats, to the property agents and lawyers, to Islamist leaders and city officials—in fact everywhere that baksheesh helps move things along.

The Sultan of Byzantuium (publish April 25): Fighting the Ottoman invaders in Constantinople, Emperor Constantine XI was killed—his body never found.

Legend has it that he escaped in a Genoese ship, cheating certain death at the hands of the Turks and earning himself the title of Immortal Emperor.

Five centuries after his disappearance, three mysterious men contact a young professor living in Istanbul. Members of a secret sect, they have guarded the Immortal Emperor's will for generations. They tell him that he is the next emperor in line and that in order to take possession of his fortune he must carry out his ancestor's last wishes.

What follows is his journey to the heart of a mystery of epic historical significance.

Travel: For the love of London!

Hello Friends,

This is Part II of my father/daughter travel adventure.  Click here to read bout my week at sea.

The Trip: My father booked himself a trip on the QM2 last fall, from NYC to Southampton and a month ago I decided to join him. We spent eight days at sea and survived a week of ‘extremely rough’ seas, followed by three days in Oxford, and three days in London.

London (why I joined my father on this trip): 
I fell in love with William Shakespeare in the ninth grade… this is why I had to come to London.

Books: Reviews!!!

Happy New Year!

I just realized that I haven't posted book reviews in a while so it's fitting to begin the year with a few.  Have you read any of these books?  Do you have any to recommend?

The Song Remains the Same: An enjoyable story with a good ending!  I struggle at times, wanting a story to be more 'meaty', darker...  then I have to remind myself that most readers want to escape into a good book.  I would recommend this one to a friend, I enjoyed it and was satisfied with the end.

My goodreads rating: 4 stars

Synopsis: One of only two survivors of a plane crash, Nell wakes in the hospital with no memory of the horrific experience-or who she is, or was. Now she must piece together both body and mind, with the help of family and friends, who have their own agendas. She filters through photos, art, music, and stories, hoping something will jog her memory, and soon, in tiny bits and pieces, Nell starts remembering. . . .

Margaret from Maine: I wanted to like this book: simple vocabulary, no surprises. Wasn't a hit for me but you might enjoy it.

My goodreads rating: 2 stars

Synopsis: Margaret's husband is injured in a war overseas and will never be the man he was. When the President signs a bill in support of wounded veterans, Margaret is invited to the nation’s capital. Charlie King, a handsome Foreign Service officer, volunteers to escort her. The unlikely pair fall in love—but Margaret cannot ignore the tug of her marriage vows.

Crossing on the Paris: I enjoy historical fiction and while I mostly enjoyed this novel there was part of a storyline that left me a little shaken... and that's okay.  Books should make us think, be aware.  I enjoyed Julie's story the most.

My goodreads rating: 3 stars

Synopsis: The year is 1921. Three women set out on the impressive Paris ocean liner on a journey from Paris to New York. Julie Vernet is a young French woman from a working class family who has just gotten her first job as a crew worker on the ship. Escaping her small town and the memory of war, she longs for adventure on the high seas...

Constance Stone is a young American wife and mother who has traveled to Paris to rescue her bohemian sister, Faith, who steadfastly refuses to return to America and settle down. Constance returns home to New York, having failed at the duty her father asked of her...

Vera Sinclair, a rich, ex-patriate American is leaving France after thirty-one years to live out her remaining time home in America. Over the course of the transatlantic voyage, she reflects on her colorful life and looks forward to a quiet retirement. While each of these women come from different walks of life, their paths cross while at sea in a series of chance encounter.

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