Tatiana's Table CONTEST

Paullina Simons is giving away TEN COPIES of Tatiana's Table!  Check out the rules on her website...and make sure you get your entry in by November 25th!  GOOD LUCK!!!

Russian jet crash kills 43, many top hockey stars

This is a terribly sad story (that mentions the Volga and Minsk). My heart goes out to the families.

Me Plugging "A Song in the Daylight"

Here is me plugging "A Song in the Daylight" during an Outlander video (my sister) Tracey and I made the other day.

If anyone HAS read this book and is coming to tonight's Outlander Chat at 9PM Eastern...I will be there at 8:45 just itching to discuss!

A Song in the Daylight

Has anyone read A Song in the Daylight?  I finished two days ago and - no matter how hard I try - I cannot begin to kick these characters out of my brain. 

Paullina Simons Discusses the Summer Garden

Just found this on paullinasimons.com.  Check it out!  I've never heard PS interviewed before!  What a treat!  And might I say (and I know Tracey will agree):  Kudos to Paullina on her gorgeous hair.  She is one impressive Curly Girl!

A Book For Shannon

OK Y'all...Shannon is at my house and desperately needs a new book...preferably a series. She's into historical romance (accent on the romance!)

I know you guys have made suggestions...but if you wouldn't mind doing it again, I'd appreciate it.

She has already ready the Into the Wilderness series as well as Twilight, The Bronze Horseman...and of course, Outlander. And she just finished The Winter Sea.

Thanks all - I appreciate it!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tatiana's Table - Banana Bread

Last week I made the Banana Bread recipe from Tatiana's Table.  One word:  Yum.

I don't want to give away any secrets...but I will say this:  Very moist and not at all rubbery like banana bread can get.  I added chocolate chips, too...and next time I'm going to add some chopped nuts as well.

Thank you Paullina Simons and Harper Collins!

I am WAY TOO LATE in letting you all in on a not-so-secret secret.

Two weeks ago I came home from a weekend trip (gotta love Cape May) to find a box waiting for me on my doorstep.  What was in it, you ask?  I'll tell you.  The Bronze Horseman collection - all signed with amazing words I will treasure  - including TATIANA'S TABLE!!!  Miss Paullina promised...and Harper Collins delivered. 

In addition, the box contained Paullina's book "A Song in the Daylight" and I am ridiculously giddy to read it.  What I'm really a bit freaked out about is the subject matter.  A woman who shares my last name (Stark) and lives in Summit, NJ (the town where I was born...along with Meryl Streep thankyouverymuch!) is happily married with kids and has "the perfect life".  Apparently she has a "chance encounter" that turns her life inside out.

TERRIFIED, party of one?!  Has anyone read this book?? Please do NOT tell me any details as I am No-Spoiler Girl; annoyingly so.  But I'd like to know if you found yourself sucking your thumb and rocking in a corner whilst reading it?!  I just want to prepare myself!

Right now I am reading The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley...and it is taking me a while to get through it.  I'm at about 30% on the Kindle...and although it'swell-written and historical fiction (my fav)...I dunno.  I'm having a hard time forcing my heart to get on board. Shannon assures me it gets good and ends up very twisty/turny...so I am hanging on.

After The Winter Sea...I will start A Song in the Daylight.  (I will not be blogging, however; you'll just have to read it yourselves to get all the deets!) 

My heartfelt thanks goes out to Paullina Simons and Harper Collins for taking the time to do something so incredibly decent for a complete nobody.  It brought a lot of joy into this little blogger's world.  I'm truly not worthy. :)

My Purgatory Dot Com

Just wanted to fill y'all in on what's happening with the new website.  I've created so many blogs, I wanted to combine them all in one place.  I also wanted somewhere to talk about non-Bronze Horseman things...like True Blood...Game of Thrones...celeb gossip and the like.  Tracey and I will be making some videos that we hope will have you laughing your ass off or (hopefully not) running screaming from your computer!

Thus - mypurgatory.com is now live.  

The blogs will all remain at their own addresses - ie - mybronzehorsemanpurgatory.com - but they will also now be housed in one place over at mypurgatory.

I want to throw a massive THANK YOU out to an awesome guy named Stephen who selflessly gave me the domain "mypurgatory.com".  I also want to point out that he has the COOLEST Etsy store called Steampunk Movement Studio and I would love it if you'd check it out!

Bronze Horseman Chat TONIGHT

We'll be discussing The Bronze Horseman from 8:45 - 9:15 Eastern over at My Outlander Purgatory's chat room!  Hope you can make it!

The Bronze Horseman CHAT!

Hey!  The first 15 minutes of tonight's Outlander chat is going to be dedicated to The Bronze Horseman!  Come chat Tania and Shura! 9PM Eastern...aka NOW! :)

Tatiana's Table Come to Life!

Wait until you see this!  Someone made the recipes from Tatiana's Table and reviewed them online on a blog called Tatiana's Table a la Julie and Julia!  The last blog entry was February of 2010...but who cares! There are a ton of dishes there!

I must admit, upon stumbling upon this blog I got my dander up for Paullina, thinking "She can't post those recipes onlineThat's copyright infringement!"...until I realized the recipes are NOT posted - just the reviews.  Complete with PHOTOS! 

Look at THIS!  Lazy Cabbage!

Tatiana's Table

SPOILER ALERT:  Don't read unless you've read the entire Bronze Horseman series...and through Voyager in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.

Someone on Amazon is selling their copies of Tatiana's Table for $750.00 and $850.00. (Seriously, the only other one available on Amazon is $150 for a paperback; all pre-owned!)

HO-LY COW!!!!!!!!!!   What's IN it?!?  I was thinking Preacher Cookies or Beergaritas...but now I'm thinking maybe Crack Burgers or Cooked Cabbage with a lovely wrinkle-reducing reduction???  Why isn't it available anymore? 

And speaking of Beergaritas...Shannon brought some over last weekend and they were TA-STY!!

Can't wait to hear how Tracey's doing.  Last I heard, she was a chapter into The Summer Garden and liked T&A even better than TBH!  I love how we all differ about the books while loving the series.  I can't say I've picked a favorite.  They all touched me in different ways.

I will tell you this (listen up Outlander fans).  When Tracey finds out about Shura and the big bosomed beotch, she is going to flip her lid.  She threw the book across the room when she found out Jamie married Leghair in Voyager.  I can't IMAGINE what she's going to do when she finds out about THIS!!!

Sergey Larenkov Photos

I froze when I came across this photo of Leningrad.  It's heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time.  This is an infusion of old and new...what tragically was and what thankfully is.  Truly amazing work by Sergey Larenkov.  

Ukraine's Wooden Churches

Got this comment from Julie today over at My Outlander Purgatory.  Thanks Julie!

Hi Carol,

Check out the travel section of this Sunday's NY Times for an article about traveling in the Ukraine and old churches, etc. There are some great pictures along with the article.


Riverboat Sinks on the Volga

A month ago I would have thought this story was horribly sad...but I wouldn't have thought twice about where it happened.  Just a river in Russia. 

Today is a different story.  The Volga.  I am so sad over this.  Please pray they find more survivors. 

Russian Stove Video

Check out the tiny sleeping space for a tiny Tanechka. This video comes complete with women speaking in the background. You'll love it.

A Russian IZBA

This is a Russian izba in the village Kushalino, Rameshkovsky rayon, Tver Oblast.  Very, very cool.  Look at those ornate windows - on a log cabin!  I must see this up close! 

(Photo credit: Лесной Волк at ru.wikipedia.)

Sleeping on Top of the Stove

OK - this is for JenniferTN and anyone who wants to see what a Russian oven looked like; one you could sleep on top of!

Thanks to the State museum of Folk Architecture and life, Belarus for the photo.

Communal Living in Russia

Thanks SO MUCH to JenniferTN for posting this AMAZING link to a site dedicated to communal living in Russia.  It's like you are right there with the Metanovas.  (And - in your head - you will hear Shura's venom about the toilets, I assure you.) It's so odd to me to see such beauty interspersed with less-than-stellar living conditions.  The windows and fixtures are stunning...the ceilings are incredibly high...the architecture (especially the exteriors) is breathtaking.  And then you see the bathroom or some of the walls in the kitchen and think "I'll never complain about my bathroom again.  Ever."

If nothing else, this website screams to us about how close the Metanovas were.  It's no wonder Dasha felt the need to go out and try to land a man all the time...and why Tania clings to her family.  In such tight quarters, you have no choice but to be close.  

Make sure to watch some videos - and look at the photos.  Make sure you read along below the photos - and to the right of them - for some incredible details on communal living.

Tracey Has Joined Us!

Tracey is reading The Bronze Horseman.  Cross your fingers.  My last suggestion didn't go over so well. I guess I forgot to tell her A Discovery of Witches is more like Sookie Stackhouse meets your history teacher meets...um...church. LOL

Anyway...I'm hoping she's enamored and there are some videos in our future. Shannon and I have already discussed making one that would involve beergaritas and Blinchiki.  Be afraid.

Awesome Fan Made Trailer

Just watched this on PaullinaSimons.com.  Sigh.  I love.  I swore I was going to read something light..but now I think I have to read The Bronze Horseman again.  How can I not after seeing this???  I think I'm getting the jitters.  Where's my Kindle?!?

I Am Finished

Spoiler Alert:  Do not read unless you have read the entire Bronze Horseman series by Paullina Simons.

I can't even form sentences right now because I am just spent.  I was finishing the book tonight and my husband looked over at me on the couch...and I caught him completely off guard with my red eyes.  I made two trips to the bathroom for tissues before finally conceding and bringing the box into the family room.  And not over war...or death...or people starving in the streets of Leningrad.  No, Carol has to cry herself to sleep over Thanksgiving dinner.  And bread. (oh god I'm starting again).  And an 80 year old man who loves his wife so much that he grabs her and kisses her in the pantry so as to have a second alone with her amidst dinner preparations in their chaotic but deliriously happy life.

This series got to me like no other.  I love reading about history...but when the history is so recent that it's something my own parents lived through...it truly envelopes my soul and refuses to let go.

What am I crying over now?  My grandmother.  Baking.  The way she used to knead that dough and roll the cinnamon and butter in it...and let me sneak tastes because I was 6 years old and couldn't take my eyes off her...or her sticky buns.

A little background... My grandmother was born in Naples in 1907 and brought to the US as a young girl.  In 1922, when she was 15 years old, she was married off to a 23 year old man she had met only once.  She had her first baby when she was 16...her last when she was 31...and celebrated 71 wedding anniversaries before losing the only love she ever knew when he was 94...and her own life a few years later when she was 89.

It wasn't Leningrad...and she didn't have a husband who went to war.  But she took care of everyone and was the thread that held my father's family together - through thick and thin.  So in a small way, I am reminded of my grandmother tonight.  I can't remember the last time I was able to feel her so vividly in my mind.

That is what Tatiana has done for me.  That is what Alexander has brought to me.  They have made me look at my life - in all its mundane madness  - and appreciate the creaks in my floorboards and the island in my kitchen.  The one whose counter I will clean a million times tomorrow due to stray crayons and sticky fingers.

As far as the books go, I can't even begin to talk about everything Tatiana and Alexander went through ...because I am a blubbering idiot right now and there is no way I'm able to give them their proper credence.  (Also because my bed is calling to me from upstairs and my husband - like Alexander - is wondering what the heck I'm doing down here so late.)

I must say this:  I could not have loved the end of the book/series any more than I do.  Christie - et al - you were so, so right.  My absolute thanks to Paullina for keeping Tania and Shura alive at the end...because now they will forever be alive in my memory.

Now if you'll excuse me, I really must hit the hay.  I have a lot of googling to do tomorrow...Leningrad being the first order of business...and PaullinaSimons.com being the 2nd. :)

It's My Blog and I'll Stop if I Want to.

SPOILER ALERT - don't read unless you have read 95% of The Summer Garden.

I have a problem. I can't read the rest of this book. This has NEVER happened to me before. I'll admit, I have put books down before. Because they sucked. Not because they were so good I didn't want them to end. And more so, because I can't read one line without tearing up. I kid you not.

I am at the Pediatrician with my son and had to put the book down because Anthony's son (Anthony's SON!) referred to Shura as Grandpa and I started getting choked up. As I did when Tatiana was making cookies with her granddaughters...and as I did when Anthony got nominated by Ronald Reagan, etc, etc. It's just awful. I was crying on the treadmill yesterday. CRYING. On the TREADMILL. Who does that??? I kept hearing Tom Hanks say "there's no crying in exercise!!!!"

Anywho...I will blog when I'm finally able to finish. But honestly, I don't want to. If I stop now, Tatiana and Shura will be forever at their counter, eating Tania's cooking with their family. Can't I just leave them that way, forever preserved in my memory???

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Buh BYE!

SPOILER ALERT:  Don't read unless you have read 89% of The Summer Garden. 


PS - "Cowboy the fuck up" = Greatest. Line. Ever!

All's Well That Ends...WHAT?!?

Spoiler Alert - Don't read unless you've read 86% of The Summer Garden.

OK.  I lived through it.  The cheating.  And it wasn't easy.  No siree, it was not.  What got me through?  The fact that Shura came clean.  He told Tania everything that happened, right down to the last sordid, disgusting, puke-worthy detail.  And I agree with Tania; I wouldn't have wanted to hear it either.  But she had to know - in order to move past it - and continue to be as close with Shura.  Or she'd always be wondering.  I can only hope he told her how gross he ultimately thought Cha Cha - I mean Carmen was.  Ugh and that girdle?!  That had me in hysterics...because Shannon and I always joke that if we were ever in a position to have to date again, we'd have to excuse ourselves before the moment of truth to go to the bathroom and remove our Spanx.

OK - back to the matter at hand.  One minute I was (reluctantly) forgiving Shura for getting some strange in the back seat of a Ford sedan...and the next I'm trotting through North Vietnam, looking for (that dumbass who I can't help but love) Anthony.  And Moon Lai?  UGH!  I will fully admit that - at this point - I want NOTHING to do with her and her pregnant ass.  She can "Me love you long time" her rear end right out of the story and I won't even care.  I am honestly praying that something is amiss with Ant's letter and that child is not his.  Perhaps I'll change my mind when he is found and I am shown how "in love" they are or something...but for right now I'd kindof like Alexander to "accidentally" throw a grenade in her path.  (Oh my karma is BOILING for saying that.)  I mean seriously.  Don't you want a nice, sweet girl for Antman?  Hell - I kindof liked the idea of him being with Vikki!  They're so star-crossed...their story should be in Songs of Love and Death.

And speaking of bad karma - I am so thrilled to be finished with Saika, I don't know what to do with myself.  I will admit, I wasn't really thrilled at how they left her dying in the woods - but she deserved it, let's be honest.  Frankly, I think Marina deserved it too.  How long do you go on playing that "I didn't knowwwww" game?  Tania is so good.  She knows that blood is thicker than water.  And I am trying to think of all the ways that portion of the Luga stories relates to the current portion of the book (you know...like Saika's leeches and Shura's Cholla) besides the obvious; traipsing around the jungle in Vietnam.

OK girls and boys - I must get back to it.  Shura is calling me from the bamboo.  I can't leave him alone for too long...you know how he gets.

Lazarevo = Long Gone

SPOILER ALERT:  Do NOT read unless you have read 62% of The Summer Garden and are ready to profusely vomit all over your Buster Browns. 

I knew it.  The second I got Christie's email warning, I knew.  That piece of shit scumbag.  And in the back seat of a Ford, no less.  Can you imagine this 6'5" monster with machine gun arms and size lord-knows-what feet, crouching in the back seat of someone's four door sedan,  like a 16 year old - all because some S-L-U-T has 44 Double D's?  What a piece of work. This guy has just shattered every amazing thought I've ever had in my head about him.

And Tania has as well.  She is no less guilty with her long lunches and Friday night overnights with Bradley - she is even MORE guilty if you ask me.  Bradley had her promoted and put on nights - and she LET HIM!!!  That is WORSE than letting some dumb broad put her hands down your pants, which is just thinking with your johnson.  Tania is FEELING with her heart for Bradley - and I cannot even consider condoning it.

I will tell you who is AWESOME in my mind right now.  Paullina Simons.  Does this woman have the greatest handle on human relationships that is humanly possible?  My god - this is all SO REAL!  It happens every day.  You can feel the tension and the "but I"..."no, wait"..."it's not"...right through the book!

My favorite lines today:

"If he'd had a cap, he would have taken it off and held it in his hands."  Killed me. Please, someone, pick me up off the floor now.

"With his thumb he wiped a piece of who knew what off her eyebrow."  Amazing writing.  Puts me right there in between them.

"In the cauldron inside his chest, tenderness swirled around, jumbled and swallowed by hostility." How many times have we felt this way?  Not letting ourselves feel what our hearts are feeling because of pride, jealousy, anger, etc.

Bottom line - I am totally numb and hope I can continue reading (Snicker - who am I kidding?  I'll be sneakin' peeks at my kids' swimming lessons later).  Anthony just sank Alexander's story by telling Tania his truck wasn't there at 6AM and he wasn't in his bed.  I have no idea what she is going to say.  (You GO Anthony!) I almost think she's going to ultimately forgive him because a) she's not been squeaky clean, herself and b) she saw lipstick on his cheek LAST week; she knows he's been up to male antics and hijinks.  I guess I should be more mad at her - but no...in the end, I'm livid and disgusted with him because he doesn't know what the REAL meaning of being a MAN is.  Stand up - fight for what you want - and do it with dignity and integrity.  Ain't no dignity or integrity to be found in the backseat of a Ford sedan. 

Stand By Your Man

SPOILER ALERT:  Don't read unless you have read 54% of The Summer Garden. 

"suits that were not drab flannel but linen and cotton, so when Alexander went out for a drink without her on Friday nights, he could look smashing.

Oh my god - this terrifies me.

So Tania got herself the graveyard shift.  I'm sorry - but I am in total agreement with Shura on this one.  I get that she wants to work - I get that she has a burning need to help people.  But she knows Shura is already unhappy with her hours.  Why take more?  I don't think she should do it.  At the most - she should keep her regular hours.  But frankly, I don't see why she even has to do that.  They don't need the money.  Quit and volunteer.  That way you'll make Shura happy - and you'll make yourself happy.  And you'll be home with your husband and son on Friday nights.

And let's be honest - isn't she afraid of Shura going out on Friday nights??  (I haven't gotten far enough to know if that statement was serious or not.  All I had to hear was Shura was going to look smashing without her and I reached for the computer.)  I was so THRILLED that Alexander started his own business - but, my god - the fanfare over him?  All the women who interviewed?  Isn't Tania just the tiniest bit nervous?  I'm not saying I don't trust him...but come ON Tania.  Alexander has a monstrous ego - and it needs stroking.  All it takes is one, lonely Friday night and a few too many beers...shudder.  I don't even want to think about it. 

Now...on to Saika.  Or shall I refer to her as The Devil's Spawn?  Or how about just "Mistress Evil"?  Or even "Bitch Ho from Hell".  Will any of those suffice?  Because she scares the bejesus out of me!  This storyline ALONE could make a damned good movie.  What a CREEPFEST!  Every time she asks Tania to go swimming I want to whip out my bible!  It's like The Omen!!!

Might I also mention that I am becoming a bit Russian-obsessed.  I was at the boardwalk the other day and there are always a ton of kids from Europe who come to work for the summer.  I heard a man say to a girl "You're from the oldest city in Russia?"  Well then today I'm reading about Novgorod (and how two-faced Marina is) and I find out it's the oldest city in Russia.  So now I totally want to go back and talk to this kid on the boardwalk and find out if this is where she's from!  And you know she's going to think I'm an annoying OLD chick!

I also picked up on a Russian (or Eastern European) accent from some girls at the beach and am considering signing my daughter up for free Russian lessons at our local library!  I hope the class isn't full!  It's so cute - they teach them the alphabet - some basis phrases - and they watch Russian cartoons!)

OK I'm clearly rambling - and need to go read - but I'm afraid.  Please, please don't let Shura get himself into any trouble on Friday nights without Tania.

OH - one more thing - I am thinking maybe Tania isn't getting pregnant because her Shura was hurt so many times in various ways during the war and in the camps, that he just isn't able to get her pregnant.  I feel SO bad for them.  It's very hard to watch them go through this.


Wow - Jennifer J and I got married ON THE SAME DAY!  That's AWESOME!  I don't know about you, but I got married in Pennsylvania...and it was 95 degrees!  I asked my father to go to the church - twice - and make sure the air conditioning was on!

Hope you're having a great day.  We're headed out to dinner...with the kids.  LOL  Can't always get a sitter.  Oh well...I'm having enough fun reading about Tania and Shura to make up for it! :)

"Married, Stressed and Stark"

SPOILER ALERT:  Don't read unless you've read 41% of The Summer Garden.

WHAT a roller coaster ride.  Remember I mentioned that today is my anniversary?  Never  - in all my years - has a line in a book described me more on any given day than "married, stressed and stark" describes me today after reading The Bachelor Party scene.  Only in my situation, "stark" is capitalized. 

And by the way?  I would have gone to the Golden Corral. 

What's Good for the Goose..

...you better believe is BY GOD good for the gander.

SPOILER ALERT:  Don't read unless you've read 39% of The Summer Garden. 

YOU GO TATIANA!!! WHOO HOOO!!!  I am sitting here reading this argument between Tatiana and Alexander about Jeff's bachelor party...and I am FIRED up.  Today is my 18th wedding anniversary and believe me - I have had this conversation before.  Or ones just like it.  "Oh it's OK that I'm going to a gogo bar where there will be scantily clad women - if they are dressed at all - because I'm not going to be touching any of them."


So I'm sitting here reading this and I'm all kinds of juiced up and then WHAM!!!  Tania drops the HEN NIGHT BOMB!!!  GO effing TATIANA!  You get DOWN with your bad self, Girl!!!  I am SO HAPPY she just brought this up, I don't know what to DO with myself.  And Alexander's feathers immediately ruffled and he said "Military guys go to meet women there" or something like that...and what did I do?  I JUMPED UP - ran into the house - and got my computer.  I want to savor this moment, much like Shura savored their first copulative encounter together.  That's right.  Mmmm Hmmmm....S-A-V-O-R!

I have been having the HARDEST time with this storyline since the second Alexander interviewed with Bill.  He knows it's the right job for him??  How can he be so blind?!  These people are money-grubbing, bull-dozing, disrespectful PIGS who have loveless lives and want the same for Alexander!!  It is high time Shura QUITS this job and starts his own business building houses.  All he'd have to do is sell 20 acres - that are nowhere near his house - and he'd make a mint.  She bought the property for $50/acre and now it's worth $5K!!!  How awesome is THAT?!?  Either that or move.  I am just so unhappy with this situation and horrible people, I don't know what to do with myself.

Just to backtrack a bit - the last time I blogged, Alexander didn't know about Sam.  I am SO happy that is behind them and I LOVE Tom Richter and I LOVE that he married Vikki.

And I'm worried about this Saika.  I think she's a spy.  I think her parents are spies and she is trying to get information out of the Metanovs by misleading Tania into giving it to her.  OK that's a stretch - I know - but there is something so off about her.  I also think she digs Tania and obvs Tonia will remain clueless about this.

Right now I'm wondering:

Why did Tania grow up that summer?
Why are Saika's feet and hands always dirty and her breath always sour?
Why can't Shura see through these assholes?

Those are rhetorical questions as I look SO forward to finding out myself. :)

OK I may have another question or two but I have GOT to see what unfolds with the party convo in the Barrington trailer - I mean mobile home - this evening.

More later...

Extra! Extra!

Shura's going to see something in a newspaper. That's how this is all going to come down. Just my .02.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Dear Caca, Meet the Proverbial Fan. Love, Carol

SPOILER ALERT:  Don't read unless you've read 19% of The Summer Garden.


JUST TELL HIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You are making it SO MUCH WORSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Selfish, Party of Tania?

SPOILER ALERT:  Don't read unless you have read 17% of The Summer Garden.

I am livid.  Shura is TRYING to talk - really TALK - to Tatiana about his dreams...which is such a catharsis...and what does she say?  "I don't want to hear this". 

Um, WHAT?!?  Are you KIDDING ME?!?  Hearing this is EXACTLY what he needs from you - but you want to sweep it all under the rug?  That's it, Tania.  Just close your eyes and it'll all go away.  So tell me - are you really Russian?  Because right now you're seeming really Irish to me.  Just ask my Irish mother about sweeping things under the rug.  She'll tell you all about it.  Or not.

UGH.  And we were going to find out what he was doing in Deer Isle...but nooooo...Tania has to ruin it.  And he was going to get some relieving answers about her time in New York - but nooooo...Tania doesn't want to talk about it. 

The more I think about New York - the more I know that's Shura's biggest obstacle.  And you know why?  Because he's a control freak.  He can't stand the fact that Tania made her way in the world without him.  She worked - had friends - had a life.  And although it kills them both that she did it under HIS false pretenses, she did it.  She lived.  She wasn't relying on him for a thing.  And he hates that.  And you know why?  Because it means she can leave him at any time and be fine.  But he would NOT be fine.  He knows his life had zero meaning before she dazzled him in her white dress with red roses and ice cream dripping down her fingers.  Yet for her, there are plenty more Shura's out there...withOUT bad attitudes and swastikas on their arms. 

AND YET - here she is - ignoring him...no, worse...AVOIDING him - when he wants to try to work through his problems and BE the husband she needs him to be.

Oh I am just so annoyed.  God this book is good.  Especially for an overly analytical fool like me. 


Russia not amused at Red Army statue re-invented as Superman and friends | World news | The Guardian

The Ugly Truth

SPOILER ALERT:  Don't read unless you have read a few chapters of The Summer Garden. 

I just posted this response to one of Clay's comments and wanted to share.  For some reason I sometimes express what I'm feeling much better when I'm replying to someone's comments.  (I can read Clay's comments because I know he's reading The Summer Garden right now and hasn't read any further than I have!)

"I keep beating myself up for getting mad at Alexander. I almost feel like it would be an easier pill to swallow if he were in a robe and comfy PJs in a veterans hospital somewhere, rocking back and forth and staring at his spoon. But his sheer meanness is just incredibly hard on the soul. And kudos to Paullina because I would stake my life on the fact that this is exactly how many traumatized men act when they return from war."

Markings on the Soul

SPOILER ALERT:  Don't read unless you've read 14% of The Summer Garden. 

DISCLAIMER:  I am not trying to be insensitive about what veterans and their families go through after war.  I am just bitching about characters in a book.  Please keep that in mind.

Wow.  I wasn't very amusing in the last post and - due to the subject matter - I have a feeling this one isn't going to be very humorous either.

Shannon and I just got off the phone after a very intense conversation about WHAT is going to happen to Shura and Tania.  I am so sad for them.  They are a mess.  Things have gotten better since the beginning of the book...but they are still so uncomfortable in their own skin.

First off - Shura's tattoos could make me weep.  To be branded like that is so violating...so inhuman.  We treat dogs better than that. (Except in Missouri and Pennsylvania.)  COMMA HOWEVER - Tatiana needs to STOP CRYING and get over it.  What happened to that tough little cookie who went to find her brother?  What happened to that woman who laid on the floor with a tube running from herself to her dying soldier?  It's just ink! If it were me, I'd have spent the first week after reuniting crying and feeling sad for him.  And then I've have said "These are markings - they are not who you are."  As my yoga instructor says "We are not what we're going through...we are not the mistakes we've made."  How unbelievably true. 

This might sound trite - but I think it would help - even just a little - if Tania complimented Shura on his body once in a while.  Tell him how good he looks now that he's gained the weight back.  Tell him he's a big, strong man and she loves the feel of him.  C'mon...he's a man.  They live for that shit.  He just wants to feel good about himself; make him feel good about himself.

As for Shura - where do I begin?  He's mean.  And I get it - he's been hardened and beaten and broken down.  He's beautifully damaged as my cousin Jenn D (who lurks over at MOP chat) would say.  But, um, Alex?  While you're bitching about Tania crying and sitting on dirt piles next to hospital construction, you might want to remember that SHE has been through plenty, too.  While you're bringing up pulling her dead mother to the cemetery, you might want to remember that she lost every member of her family in a 3 week timespan...and maybe cut her some slack.  And I know you brought it up for good reasons (whether you know or not) and that you were trying to get her to face her own demons.  But for god's sake - start realizing that she's beautifully damaged too.  Stop flipping her over and start looking her in the eye.  And for god's sake, let her cry.  That's all.  Spend one night letting her cry - perhaps crying with her - and telling her it's OK that she's crying. Then maybe - just maybe - she'll get over it and stop crying every damned day of your life.  Because she knows you understand. 

Possibly the most powerful point so far is that Alexander couldn't be American in the Soviet Union - and he can't be Soviet in America.  Oh my god - what a horrendous position to be in.  I am sick for him.

Don't get me wrong - I think they've been doing a tremendous job of trying to relate to one another - with no help at all.  In this age of therapy, I just want to say "go get a support group or some counseling and all will be well" - but obviously they didn't do those things back then.  So all Tania and Shura have to go on is their communication with each other...and luckily, we're starting to see some of this.

And speaking of communication with each other, Miss Tatia, you'd better STOP THE LYING and tell your husband that the government is looking for him.  At the risk of sounding cliche, you have to be up front and honest about everything - not just the things you feel like talking about.  And ooooh boy...Shura is go' flip the heck OUT when he finds out.  Mmmm hmmm.  I don't even want to think about what he's going to do. 

A few more things: 

- Are we ever going to find out where Shura was for three days?  I guess maybe it doesn't matter?  He just went away for a while...which I'm sure many veterans are known to do.  But I'd like to know.

- I am bummed we didn't get to experience Alexander's introduction to Anthony.  Again - I guess it doesn't matter?  But I'd have liked to have "seen it".

- Anthony called Shura "Daddy" and I felt validated.

- I still think a little consistency and routine would help.  I have lived in my house for 17 years and even though I need window treatments in my family room and my upstairs bathroom is less than stylish, it's my home.  I am comforted here.  I think they'd find some peace if they set down some roots and established some sense of structure in their lives.  There's just something about that old chair or the creaky screen door or the refrigerator that runs a little too loudly.  I dunno.  Home is where the heart is.

- I miss Vikki. 

- When Thelma was making Alex peach cobbler, I had knots in my stomach.  I really thought he might be cheating.  I mean, you could totally see how it would happen.  Your wife won't touch yours scars and cries every time you make love...and all the while you've got women begging you for it and flirting and telling you how hot you are.  I almost couldn't blame him.  Almost.  Thankfully - he wouldn't have time to have an affair.  Tania meets him for lunch every day and he comes right home after work.

OK there is so much more I could say but I really want to go read more.  Again - please don't misunderstand my bitching.  I just have to get it out.  I blog, therefore I am. 

Into the Arms of America

SPOILER ALERT:  Don't read unless you are 6% into The Summer Garden. 

"We all talk a different language, talking in defense." ~ Mike and the Mechanics

I don't even know what to say.  This is so sad.  Alexander (note I'm not calling him "Shura" either) took Nick to the army hospital and hasn't come back in days.  I'm beside myself.  These people are so in love and have just...forgotten.  It's devastating.

I've been doing some underlining (love me some Kindle) and two things I noted were:

1) Anthony asked to go on the boat with his dad...and his dad said "no" because it was dangerous.  And Anthony was so bummed and defeated that he put his head down - exactly like his father does.  Alexander's pain is much like Anthony's little 3 year old pain: He doesn't feel like he is important enough or good enough to handle something; life, in Alexander's case.  Oh god it's eating me up to sit back and watch this take place and tear this family apart.

2) Anthony calls his father "Dad".  Not many 3 year olds refer to their father as anything but "Daddy" or even "Dada".  But "Dad" is just so formal for a child of that age.  He calls his mother "mama"...which speaks volumes. 

Another thing that is killing me is Tania's pain.  This woman is screaming inside and nobody sees or hears her.  She has been through so much - yet she is the glue that holds this fragile house of cards together. 

I am headed back to the book now...but just had to let you all know where I am.  Not a lot of humor in this post...hopefully I took care of that earlier with the Ferragamos. 

OH - and one more thing - Alexander's pride and controlling nature (and yes, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - I know) is keeping the family from being better off financially right now.  I keep saying "Why aren't they in New York?  What is with this "state-a-month" deal?  That's something you do once you're on your feet.  Not now.  Not when what they need is privacy and - I would think - routine.  And structure.  And money.  If they'd move to New York - they'd have a support system as well as Tania's old job back.  They could work on their issues with a roof over their heads - three bedrooms - and a much-needed date night once in a while. 

But this?  This nomadic lifestyle is not helping.  Or at least it doesn't look that way from where I'm standing.  Perhaps - hopefully - I'll be proven wrong?

I'm Getting Nervous

SPOILER ALERT:  Don't read unless you are at least 2% into The Summer Garden. 


Oh this is bad...

Today's the Day!

Tatiana's Doppelganger

You guys have to hear this.  We went to the diner this AM and our waitress had an accent.  And it sounded Russian.  Or Slavic, I should say.  Anyway - get this - she had long, blond hair in a thick braid down her back...and green eyes, just like the sea.  She was adorable and I was too shy to ask where she was from (some people get tired of always being asked, ya know?  I didn't want to be a pest) but the table next to me did.  And you know what she said her accent was?  RUSSIAN.  I was beside myself.  If I had guts, I'd have asked her for a picture for the blog.  But how am I supposed to explain THAT?  I was sitting there thinking of how I should tell her about the book...but the blog?  She'd have thought I was a freak.

I have no guts.  But Shannon does.  I think we're going to have to hit the diner for lunch next week.  We'll have to take the kids.  I've got two - she's got four.  By the time we're finished, the waitress (whose name I'm now dying to know and if she tells me Tatiana I'll run screaming from the place) will undoubtedly take a photo just to get us to LEAVE! 

T&A Withdrawal

Lorddddd...can you imagine someone stumbling upon this blog entry and not knowing what the blog is about?  T&A indeed. 

OK so I keep forgetting there is a third book.  I keep thinking "Wow I miss Tania and Shura" and then I think "Oh my GOD! There's a whole nother book!"  (By the way, "nother" is a word in the land of my brain. Kindof like my yoga instructor has created the word "ond" for "and + on".  "Ond exhale we lift".)

What will I do when The Summer Garden is over?  I'm already upset and I haven't even read it yet!

Also - I think Shannon and I are going to make a video next week.  It will be a  T&A obsessfest, the likes of which you've never seen. 

AND - you all better get ready because Tracey plans to start The Bronze Horseman as soon as she's finished A Discovery of Witches.  She will be in full-on panic mode in a week or two - and will need us to help her get through it.

Photos of Soviet Soldiers

Hold on to your hats.  Shannon found a fanTAStic webpage FULL of photos of Soviet soldiers, red cross nurses, tanks, mortars, etc.  It is like a Paullina Simons novel come to life.  Except for the fact that everyone seems to be smiling...so they must be propaganda shots.  They're even in color, which the webmaster explains was very expensive at that time.  Take a look. 

My Skivvies Purgatory??

SPOILER ALERT:  Don't read unless you've read The Bronze Horseman.

Talked to my neighbor Teresa a little while ago.  I am now living vicariously through her.  In her TBH world, Shura and Tania just celebrated her birthday with dinner on the bench.  Sigh.  If only I'd known just how sweet and innocent things were at that point.  I just gave my typical poker faced answer and said "Ohhhh you're at such a great part.  Keep reading." 

OK so here's someting FUNNY:  Shannon just texted me and said - and I quote:

"When Shura was in BVD's, were they boxers or tighty whities?"

Did you just spit out your lunch?  Because I did.  And what a GREAT question afterall.  She and I are so wrapped up in our pain over T&A and anxiety about our upcoming Summer Garden read that we need to focus on the carefree spots of the novels right now. 

I was envisioning tighty whities while I was reading (can't you see him looking so cute in nothing but those and dog tags with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth?) but I had that niggling feeling it was boxers since Shura is all man.  I have been snooping around online to see if anything talks about what most soldiers wore (giggle - I feel kindof naughty!) but I haven't found anything concrete.  I did find this lovely page of Bulgarian soldiers from the 30s and 40s...oh do enjoy!

So?  Let's hear it.  What's your vote?! 

In Reality

SPOILER ALERT:  Do not read unless you've read Tatiana and Alexander.

This was going to be a comment in response to one of Hildy's insightful comments...but instead I figured I'd post it...lest anyone think I am not being fair to Alexander. 

I am so impressed with the realistic way PS brings these characters to life.  In a perfect world (or what I call a "Stepford Book") Shura would have been all "Yey! Tania's here!"  and they would have fought everyone arm in arm and laughed over a Budweiser afterward. 

But in a realistic world - aka a GOOD book - the guy is strung out, a hair away from being a completely broken man...and he's wild with terror that she's going to be hurt/killed - all because of him.  So what does he do?  Lashes out. That's what we all do (or most of us, anyway!)  We take it out on the ones we love.  How many times do I say "Mommy's not mad at you, honey...I'm just frustrated at _____ and that makes me act upset."  Or I skulk around and bang cabinet doors because I'm concerned about something...but it seems to my husband like I'm angry with him.  THAT is reality. THAT is what real people do - whether we mean to or not. 

As much as I abuse Alexander for being less-than-congenial...I totally get the guy.  And luckily for him, so does Tatiana.

PS - I so need to have a chat about this.  We touched on it at the end of Outlander chat on Monday.  The problem is, I'm deathly afraid of spoilers (Hi.  I'm Broken Record.  And you are??) and I'm too afraid of chatting.  But you better BELIEVE I'll set up a chat when I'm finished The Summer Garden. 

Summer Garden Predictions

SPOILER ALERT:  Don't read unless you've read Tatiana and Alexander. 

OK - I was just out with Shannon at a Girls' Night Out for our friend Beth who is also reading The Bronze Horseman (yes, I am responsible for that)...and Nancy...and Mary Kay who will be reading it along with Tracey when they are all finished their current books.  (Nobody puts Baby in the corner...and nobody says "No" to Carol when she's feisty about a book.  I'm way too much of a pain in the ass; it's easier to just give in.)

So Shannon and I are both sad sacks (holy crap, I had no idea that's a WWII term!) since finishing T&A.  We talked a lot tonight about Shura and what a mess he was toward the end because of what he's been through...and how even Tatiana's cheery disposition isn't going to be able to calm his troubled mind.  Shannon thinks being in the US will help.  But I almost wonder if it will make things harder.  Kindof like "I finally got here after all those years of longing and I'm still miserable.

My biggest fear is that Alexander is going to have a hard time bonding with Anthony.  Well, that and that they're going to have a hard time GETTING to Anthony.  But the bonding thing scares me.   Shannon thinks Anthony's going to be older and playing the drums too loudly and Shura's going to go all Charlie Sheen on him.  (Clearly no one is WINNING in that scenario.)

I have to wonder what will bring me to tears in the next book.  Tania was the one who made me cry at every turn in T&A because she was so damned brave - and so longing for Alexander in her new life.  Time was standing still and she was so lost without him.  And yes, he was lost and literally living in hell...but she thought he was dead.  OH and did I mention I LOVED when she told him in not so many words "We're both the only family each other has."  OMG - waterworks.  Tito get me a tissue. 

Sooooo...I am getting restless.  Total withdrawl at this point.  I am in full-on "think of T&A at every turn" mode; anything reminds me of them.  This sign at HOME FRIGGIN DEPOT reminded me of them today.  C'mon...look at the letters!  Throw me a bone.

Also - I bought a new lipstick (well, if you can call tube lip gloss from Bath and Body Works "lipstick") and tonight when I was putting it on, I wondered "What would Shura think of this?"  Not a good sign.  I'm thinking I need to dive into The Summer Garden PDQ.

Tatiana and Alexander: Post Game Wrap-up

SPOILER ALERT:  Do not read unless you have finished Tatiana and Alexander.

I don't even know where to start.  But I did get a good night's sleep - one where I only woke up once dreaming about the book...and was actually able to fall right back to sleep!  Oh glory day!

Orbeli.  That's the number 1 word that's sticking in my head today.  HOW romantic.  He sent his beloved paintings away for safe keeping.  Poor Tatiana.  I bet it ate her up inside that she didn't remember sooner. But even when she did realize Shura was alive and went through hell and high water to get to him, what did he do?  YELLED AT HER!  LOL!!  I was like "OK.  Shura.  We GET it.  You want to be at the top of the hill.  The top is better than the bottom. Ease UP, Soldier!" Hmmm.  The irony is just hitting me now...but I digress.

That's actually what I loved about this book.  It was SO based in reality.  I could SEE that cell Shura was in.  I could SMELL that cell Shura was in.  That's how real it was.  When I first started reading The Bronze Horseman, I thought "Do I really want to jump into another depressing WWII book?  Do I really care about the Soviet Union?" not knowing nearly as much about it as I do now.  WOW.  Now I'm googling and jealous of the trips to Europe my sister ("the third sister" to my MOP buds) takes with school every year.  She visited camps and had to walk out and cry by herself.  (Familiar, party of me?) I can't even imagine. 

OK onward (Choke me in the shallow water before I get too deep.) WHAT is going to happen next?? I am hoping we get a little bit of the aftermath from T&A before jumping into their new life in the US.  Can you imagine THAT rompfest right after they told him he could go back to the US?  OH my god.  "Tatia - get your ASS up to that room and don't even THINK about putting your clothes on until we hear the 1st mate lifting the oar on our ship."  And then you can totally see Tania bouncing around the room saying "Look Shura, look!  They have television!  We watch.  OK I watch.  You tickle."

Am I the only one who is slightly reminded of Fabienne from Pulp Fiction when Tatiana is acting all cute?  I just love her.  She's so pure.  She's like a child...even though she's a mom with tons of responsibility.

Now - here is a question I have.  I was a little fuzzy on the $$ situation.  Originally, Shura had $10,000 in American dollars.  But there were a lot of backpack changes and he lost his rucksack.  So my question is: Did Tatiana have all of it when she went to the US?  I know she spent almost $5,000 on the land in Arizona (which I can't WAIT for Shura to hear about.  "You did WHAT?  All because you wanted to wear a long sleeved shirt in the winter?!  Oh Tatiatia I love you.  Now get over here and make me some blueberry pancakes in your underwear.)  And I'm wondering - does she still have another $5,000?

NEXT:  Shura meeting Anthony?  Oh my god I'm in tears at the thought!!!  THAT is going to be the sweetest scene EVER.  That child is so adorable in his little backpack...the way he walks into school all independent.  Oh I can't WAIT for THAT introduction.

Wait...Shannon's on the phone...she's at 88% in Tatiana and Alexander and needs some ledge-talking.

OK - more to come - have to head to the genius bar at Apple.  Wish me luck!!

Bring on The Summer Garden!

SPOILER ALERT:  Do NOT read unless you have finished Tatiana and Alexander.

I finished a few hours ago and literally can not function.  I am not even going to review tonight because I am so spent...but I will dig in first thing tomorrow.  Well make that second thing as I have to visit the genius bar due to the odd little squiggly lines on my MacBook Pro.  But it's not like this computer is important to me or anything.  (SOB!)

Let me say this:  I keep a quote book.  When I'm watching a film or reading a book, I must write down the quotes that stick with me.  But with The Bronze Horseman series, there are literally too many to count.  Paullina Simons just has a way with creating the most beautiful, almost melodic declarations.  The following is one of the most profound things I've ever read:

"Tatiana cried and cried out, stretched out on the rack of his famine".  

Did you not lose your mind when you saw that??  The rack of his famine?  My god - I can't even creatively say "I like ice cream" and she comes up with "the rack of his famine".  I am just awestruck.

OK...more tomorrow.

PS -  I finally got "My Tom" to read "Outlander" and afterward I'm going to have him read "The Bronze Horseman".  I'm sure Clay will agree that men love a well-researched book on war - especially one about WWII.

I Cannot Even Speak

SPOILER ALERT:  Don't read unless you have read 76% of Tatiana and Alexander.

I am going to make this quick because I HAVE to get back to the book.  Holy crap - 76% through the book and they STILL haven't found each other.

But Tatiana is at the farm in Iowa...and she knows about Alexander approaching the American at Colditz.  CRYING FOOL, PARTY OF ME?!?  I am a wreck!!!

When they told Tatia she had a visitor at Ellis Hospital - and it was Sam - oh my god WHAT a moment!!  What a MOVIE moment! That is the type of movie moment that makes you suck in your breath and hold it until you find out what the person who showed up has to say.  What a knight in shining armor.  I just KNEW he'd show up at some point.  Now please...PLEASE...tell me Tania isn't going to do something stupid and go to Russia.

When we thought she was going to go to Europe with the Red Cross, I was really freaked out.  Thank god Paullina didn't make me suffer for more than 2 pages with that little notion.  Nothing else in the book upset me THAT much.  I was ready to strangle Tatia.

OK I really have to go.  SO SAD that Pasha died - totally didn't see that one coming.  Ouspensky could have been a stand up guy and told Alexander what they wanted him to do MUCH earlier on.  I don't know why he didn't.  Thought he'd get his independence and instead he got a big, fat PRISON SENTENCE.  And it really is too bad because he and Alex were friends.  I'm sorry - but, as I said, I loved Ouspensky.  He was so hilarious!

OK running - I'll be back - must READ!!!!!

Remember Orbeli

SPOILER ALERT: Don't read unless you have read 33% of Tatiana and Alexander.

HE MOVED THE PAINTINGS!!!  OH MY GOD!!! Orbeli was the curator at the Hermitage!  Will Tania remember his name?!  Wow.  WOW.  Maybe he's in the US? Maybe he'll show up at Ellis Island?!  Maybe she'll go to a museum and remember the paintings!  Now SHE'S the painting!  Oh this is so exciting!!! 

PS - Dear Dasha, You were a big, fat ho.  Love, Carol

Something Wicked This Way Comes

SPOILER ALERT:  Don't read unless you have read 31% (up to Chapter 15) of Tatiana and Alexander.

My brain is a big, ol' pile of french fried mush after having read quite a bit yesterday.  This book is so emotional and I am not above crying at any given moment.  I get the most upset when they talk about Tatia being in NYC and missing Alexander and her family.  She's so brave.  I can't imagine doing what she does every day.  And I love that she puts the baby on the chests of the dying soldiers.  How beautiful is that?  She really has a gift.

OK - so I have to throw some predictions out there while they're fresh in my mind.  I tossed and turned last night, wondering how Alexander is eventually going to reunite with Tatiana.  It's really hard to determine since no one knows where she is.  I have to believe it has to come from her.  She is going to have to a) find his medal in her backpack and b) come across "Orbeli-" and smack her head like she could've had a V8 when she realizes he's still alive. But then what?  Will she call Stepanov and ask him what's going on?  He's the only one she could call, I think.

One thing I keep thinking (OK really just hoping):  Alexander is going to find Pasha.  He escaped the train and joined up and didn't tell his family because he knows they worry.  That's my hope - and then Pasha will also be reunited with Tania.  I know, I know...don't hold my breath.

But seriously - HOW is Tania going to find Alexander?  Better yet, how is Alexander going to find Tania??  Let's say he escapes tomorrow (yeah, right) - where does he go?  Does he go to Helsinki and then to Stockholm and bum around on the docks and ask if anyone has seen her?  It's been months!  And he will have zero clue that she's working at Ellis Island!  Which brings me to my next question:  Will Tania meet someone who knows Alexander at Ellis Island Hospital??  Maybe they'll tell her he isn't dead?  She has mentioned that Soviets never come in; maybe today will be her lucky day?

So these are all the things going through my brain today. Please wear extreme poker faces if you comment!!!

Off to read...I'm about to read about Alexander meeting Dasha and I have full intention of throwing up in my mouth a little bit before the chapter is over.

Bring Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses

Spoiler Alert:  Don't read unless you have finished The Bronze Horseman and have read the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.  

"Dark angels follow me over a godless sea...mountains of endless falling for all my days remaining..."  ~Sting

I am speechless.  I have been hiding from my family in the bathroom and sobbing uncontrollably for the last 10 minutes.  What a book.  What an ending.  I am spent.  I am emotionally exhausted.  I am thinking back to someone over at MOP saying The Bronze Horseman was boring (I had my own doubts in the first 20 pages) and am thinking "Oh you need to pick this book up aGAIN because there is NO way you could have read the whole thing and thought it was boring!"

I have so much in my brain right now...and I don't know how to make it spill out.  I sometimes think profound thoughts while I'm falling asleep or crying in the bathroom or throwing cookies in the oven...(cookies I plan to devour in my sadness in about 5 minutes).  But try to get them out on the computer and I'm SOL. 

I will say this:  I almost think we need to see Tatiana alone in the US...just for a little while.  I want to watch her experiencing the United States...and FREEDOM...without Alexander telling her not to look at men or waxing on about his latest medal of honor (oh I know, I'm not being fair...I do love him...I'll get to that in a minute).  I need to see Tania by herself for a little while.  She is so wide-eyed about everything.  Her reactions are going to be fantastic.  My god - her reaction to a turkey sandwich was epic!  Wait until she sees the Statue of Liberty or goes to a big grocery store or sees a baseball stadium.  She's going to lose her mind!  And she's going to love it.  And she's going to hate herself for loving it because her Shura isn't there.  And she's got baby Alex there to ease her suffering. 

My god - it's killing me...all this suffering.  Paullina Simons is so amazing.  The way she launches into these reveries about Alex and Tatia and the things they did together...she takes the reader with her through the ups and downs.  You feel like you are inside their brains, experiencing all of this with them.  And here I was complaining about it not being in the first person!

Now - on to Alexander.  On to Shura.  My god - what a sacrifice.  I am so proud of him.  And now I'm crying again.  I am so sad for him...I am so worried about him.  He must be in agony.  This is Jamie and Claire all over again...but worse.  I have never been on board with Tracey's opinion that Claire had it worse than Jamie during their 20 years apart.  I think that Alex - like Jamie - has a miserable existence...rotting away in jail and thinking he'll never see the love of his life - or his baby...his SON - again.  And what  a decent soul he has...he is.  I just can't even comprehend how he is going to get through this.  As he said, he was at his wit's end before he met Tatia; what will he do now?!?

Part of me thinks I should give it until tomorrow to start the next book.  And part of me can't STAND the thought of not knowing. 

And part of me is scared the not knowing is going to go on and on and I'm heading into a sea of darkness where Alexander is concerned. 

And part of me is a little worried about Dr. Edward Ludlow.

But the biggest part of me can't WAIT for Tania to put 2 and 2 together:



Spoiler Alert:  Don't read unless you have read 93% of The Bronze Horseman.

Alexander wants Sayers to tell Tania he's dead!!!!!  Oh my GOD!!!  I NEVER saw THIS coming!  Holy shite - I am FREAKING OUT RIGHT NOW!!!!

No friggin WONDER I have to have the next book the second I'm finished with this one!!! Thank GOD for the KINDLE!!!!!!!!

Oh my god - please please PLEASE tell me I'm not going to have to spend half the next book not knowing where Alexander is.  Or watching him rot away in jail.  And she's not going to be able to get to him!  And meanwhile - she's not going to go to the US without him anyway...let's be honest.

Oh CRAP I am sick over this!!!  Isn't it delicious?!?

After the Fire

SPOILER ALERT:  Do not read unless you have read 92% of The Bronze Horseman. 

Wow.  Double wow.  I haven't blogged in a couple days because I've been stuck to this book.  Holy crow.  I am exhausted and it's not even over yet.  I can already see why Christie says I need to have the next book in my hands the second I'm finished this one.  Although, to be honest, I don't know that I'll survive this one.

Where did I leave off?  Oh yeah, Dasha - Ladette of Leningrad - was dead.  Good riddance.  Haven't missed her.  Now...what happened next...hmmm...oh THAT'S right...MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF COPULATION on an hourly basis!  How could I have forgotten?  Oh right - I DIDN'T forget!  Because it's gone on non-stop since it started!

Could this book get any better??

OK so right now - we are in the hospital with poor Shura who decided to help The Good American Doctor and almost got himself killed in the process, mmm hmmm.  Only to wake up and find out that Tatia has been running around on the ice, dodging bombs and finding him.  The fact that she hooked her own arm up to his IV almost made me run screaming from my house straight to the Kleenex factory.  I loved when the Good Doctor realized she was his wife.  He was like "Ohhhhh....NOW I get it....what a dumbass I've been!"  I was really hoping for Ina's reaction, too.

So now...Dimitri is up their bums, trying to get them to take him to the US.  He's not too quick on the uptake, that one.  I really thought they might be able to leave without him finding out about them.  What a douche.  But I'm hoping they DO take him along, because he'll be a good nemesis in the next book.  And afterward, I hope he gets HIS - and good.  Walking with a bum ankle is not enough pain and suffering for him.  You know you want to see him get hit by an armored military vehicle driving at warp speed. 

OK so lastly...I have to bring something up.  If you are someone who hated/didn't read Twilight because you thought Edward Cullen was overbearing...but you love Alexander Belov...well I don't really understand that logic at all.  This guy is hot as all get out - but his possessiveness would get on my last nerve.  And what a bossypants!  "Tatia - Stop serving others so you can do whatever the hell I tell you to all day long!"  I mean come ON.  Sometimes he talks to her like she's 4.  I think she has to break him of this.  Although, maybe she already has after saving him on the ice.  I was mad at her for not staying put in Lazarevo (can we say "Claire Fraser"?) but honestly, Alex would be dead if she hadn't.  Even HE admitted he likes her being only 70 kilometers away.  He just has to start seeing her as an adult with free will - and not as Chris Farley's little naughty pet in Tommy Boy.

Now don't get me wrong,  I LOVE Alex - who wouldn't?  He's a knight in shining armor and has sacrificed himself time and time again for Tania.  But he has just as much growing up to do as she does in some ways.  And lorddddddd...if they do get to America?  HOW is he going to handle the attention his wife gets THERE?  Oooofah...I can't WAIT to see what happens.

OH and PS - I don't understand why Alex married Tania.  If he knew she'd be in grave danger as his wife if he ever got caught...why didn't he just keep things the way they were?  Inquiring minds want to know.  

My Bronze Horseman Playlist

It had to be done. I had no choice. Songs have just been calling to me!

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Why I Love This Book

"Tatiana clenched her teeth. In exactly one second she was going to moan right at the dinner table, in front of four old women."

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

You've GOT to be Kidding!

SPOILER ALERT - don't read unless you have read up to chapter 5 in Scenting Spring (I think...it's 58%).

I am sitting here having lunch with Shannon and discussing the absolute CRAZY that has gone on in the last few chapters. All this turmoil...all this strife...all this DEATH...and now they are going to let a few cackling Russian women get in the way?? This is madness!!!

I am also wondering what happened with Dimitri. Please God - tell me he didn't rape Tania. I will be devastated.

HOW awesome was it when Shura showed up and Tania knocked the table over to get to him???? Sigh. What a story. I am absolutely smitten with this book.

I leave you with this hilarity. I was bitching to Shannon and saying "Dasha said they haven't been together since August so hey MUST have been having sex!" and Shannon said "Yes but honey, remember, they did it quick back then! They do it in the trees! And on benches! It was fast."

Chew on THAT!

And PS - Shannon and I were contemplating making a video and I said "Oh no - Tracey might not like that...but I'll just say 'oh be quiet, Dasha!'". ;). Can't wait until she reads the book and sees this.

My Soul is Black

SPOILER ALERT:  Don't read unless you have read up until page 1 of Book 2 - The Golden Door in The Bronze Horseman.  (53% on your electronic device.)

The entire time Dasha was dying I was like "Please.  PLEASE!  Let her DIE!"  I don't think I've ever felt that way about any character, other than murderers and rapists (and maybe Rosalie Cullen).  And I felt guilty for feeling it...but I did anyway!  And I'm so STUPID - I didn't realize Alexander said he never loved Tatia because he KNEW Dasha was dying and wanted to give her - and Tatia - some peace.  Wow...what a powerful scene.  And I am positively giddy!

And that is so wrong of me...because all Dasha is guilty of is being a) a dumbass who wasn't very quick on the romantic uptake and b) a major beotch to her sister.  She really doesn't deserve my death wish...oh no siree.  Oh and c) akin with Leonardo di Caprio, now that she's slowly floating downward through the water like Jack Dawson.

And that is soooo ridiculous of me...because this book is only half over.  So where Dasha leaves off, something - or someone - will come and take her place as the wedge between Alexander and Tatia.

And you know...here is something else.  Tatia's entire family is dead (although I'm still holding out hope for Pasha) and all I can think of is "Oh yey!! Smiles and unicorns!  Tatia and Shura can be together now!"  How incredibly WRONG is that?!?  You know how people always joke that they'll be driving the bus to hell?  Yeah.  You know it.  Someone get me a uniform.


SPOILER ALERT:  Don't read unless you have reached page 1 of chapter 1 in "Fortress Pieces" in The Bronze Horseman. 

I just made dinner for my family and feel guilty as sin.  I cannot imagine going through what people went through in Leningrad in 1941.  It is becoming a struggle to read the book because it is just so heartbreaking to watch them starve in such detail.  Hear hear to Paullina Simons for doing such thorough research.

Where exactly do I rank on the HPM (Horrible Person Meter) if I keep wishing a bomb would off Dasha?

When Tatiana made Alexander promise not to break Dasha's heart, I made myself promise not to throw up in my mouth a little.  Then I cried.

I am already going back and seeking out happier times.  Rereading even small parts like Tatiana faking out Alexander in the kitchen and saying "Gotta be quicker than that, Shura" make my heart smile.

I am literally afraid to continue.  That's probably why I'm on this damned computer.

I have barely read any of your comments because I'm too afraid of spoilers.  To me - saying "Alexander looked happy that day" is a spoiler.  I just like to find it all out for myself.

Shannon (from MOP) and I are chapter for chapter (make that percentage for percentage on our damned electronic reading devices) and spent 20 minutes lamenting in my car at school pick up today.

If Alexander ever marries Dasha, I may have to put the book down.


The Spoils of War

SPOILER ALERT - Don't read unless you are 44% through The Bronze Horseman.

I am withering away almost as fast as Tatiana.  I can't sleep.  For the past two nights, I've had a hard time falling asleep...woken up dreaming about the book in the middle of the night...laid there and thought about the book - or sat up and read more of the book...and then finally fell asleep again, knowing I'd have to get up soon to fetch my rations...I mean kids.

Every time I read a line like this, I feel like I am there in the room with these people:

"He grabbed his rifle, his coat, his rucksack and was out the door without even brushing past Tatiana."

"Brushing past Tatiana".  Wow.  So secretive.  So endearing.  Just a little gesture to let her know he cares.  But he's so mad at her for getting 

The night I met my husband, we were at a party with a ton of people and every once in a while he'd catch my eye from the other side of the room or "accidentally" brush by me.  I can't help but think of that every time Alexander and Tatiana have a moment, unseen by others' eyes.  I feel like I "get" this book like none other.  Never, in all my reading years, have I ever seen anything that says - no, screams so much - in such small, subtle ways.  You could miss something if you didn't realize what is going on.

Paullina Simons is my hero right now.

Although - I mean it when I say I feel almost as beaten down as Tania and her family.  I am heartsick over their rations and their weight loss...and the horrors of war.  The last book I read that drove the point home so well was "Those Who Save Us" by Jenna Blum.  She interviewed Holocaust survivors for 4 years at the Shoah Foundation, which served as incredible research.  It's a wonderful book; I suggest you check it out. 

OK I can't even believe I am pressed for time and stopped to blog...but I must!  I MUST, I tell you!

Three is Most Definitely a Crowd

SPOILER ALERT:  Do not read unless you have read 41% of The Bronze Horseman on your electronic reading device. 


Tania is sleeping in the same bed with Dasha...and ALEX-effing-ANDER???????????

And we STILL haven't gotten an explanation about WHY HE MOTHER-FREAKIN' PROPOSED!!!!

Christie, WHAT kind of MADNESS have you gotten me INTO, woman?!?!?  Every night I go to bed DEVASTATED over this friggin book!!!!!  I am SICK TO MY STOMACH right now!   Alexander is playing both sides - in the name of LOVE for Tania- and it is NOT OK!!!!!  This is the biggest bunch of BULLSHIT I have ever read in my LIFE!!!!!!

I am LIVID at the thought of Dasha getting up to go to the bathroom and Alexander playing FOOTSIE with Tania!!!  WHAT in the HELL is HAPPENING?!?  My ass would be parked on the roof, BEGGING for a bomb to come and take me out of my MISERY if this was going on in my house.  It's SO EFFED UP, I don't even know if I can READ anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Only Time Will Tell

SPOILER ALERT - Don't read unless you've reached 34% on your reading device - or the Germans have gotten close enough to hear the bombs - but not so close that they are evacuating. 

I just had to point out how fantastic Paullina Simons' writing is.  "It was a small solace to think the gunfire wasn't as close as it had been at Luga.  Alexander wasn't as close as he had been at Luga either."

Everything this woman says hits HARD.  I feel like I grew up with Tatiana...it's written that well.

ALSO - remember I said I hear words and they remind me of the book?  I was in yoga yesterday and my instructor was talking about her daughter taking part in an Ellis Island event at school...and she said she had to dress up and was wearing a "babushka".  Of course I immediately perked up...and then could think of nothing but Alexander during Downward Dog.

And speaking of "Babushka"...Babushka #2 is moving in with them!  No more Dasha telling Tania to hit the road while she spends time alone with Alexander!  How much does that rock???  I cannot allow myself to believe anything hard core is going on in that room.  If he can't even be with one of the barracks floozies (aka Dasha) at the barracks - how can he bring himself to be with Dasha??

What HE Said

Can you hold my weapon?

How sad that I felt the need to blog that?  I am giggling.  Can't help it.

Help! I've Fallen and I Have No Desire to Get Up!

SPOILER ALERT:  Don't read unless you're at about 27% on your reading device and Tatia has dared to stand up for herself.

My review is below.  But for right now, I am out of control.  If you loved "Twilight" - go ahead and read this.  If you hated it, don't even bother because you may vomit on your own shoes.

I am completely and utterly obsessed with this book.  I can't get it out of my head.  I keep hearing things in my daily life (at the grocery store...yoga class...etc) and mistaking them for words in the book.  Funny things...that I'll be damned if I can remember now.

How is this book like Twilight?  Well - I think I hear Alexander talking to me...the same way Edward did.  Not often enough to have me committed...but once or twice when I'm down on myself and all I can hear is Alexander telling me not to be down on myself.  I have to believe this is an aftershock from the massive earthquake of things I've seen him say to Tatiana over the last few days...but still.  It's slightly left of sane, yes?  And that, my dear friends, is why I must SPEW to all of YOU on a daily, oh who am I kidding, HOURLY basis.

So get this - I have a friend coming to stay tomorrow and Wed...so I know I won't be able to read too much.  And I have a ton of housework to do to get ready for her visit.  AND I have Outlander chat tonight (at 9PM Eastern at My Outlander Purgatory - nothing like a good plug!) So I'm trying sooo hard to get my work finished so I can read at SOME POINT today/tonight because I am dying.  SO dying.  I'm only blogging because I stopped for lunch.  But - where am I now?

Well girlfriend was feeling much the same way *I* was last night and she spoke up and told her parents she heard them talking about Pasha and her.  She told her mother she heard her say "Why couldn't it be our Tatiana?"  which ROCKED.  And her father hit her.  And Alexander was having NONE of that.  And Dasha went to hit her and he shut girlfriend right the eff down as well.  It was sooooo dreamy and heroic that I didn't even CARE that he's giving Dasha the big American beef injection every night...oh no I did not.  I was just enamored of Alex and his defense of Tatia.  Which she DESERVED because her family treats her like the crap you clean out of your toilet bowl.  Thank god for him - and thank god for Tatia - because he needs her as much as she needs him.  They recognize what the other has gone through and they draw strength from each other in so many ways.  I just wish he'd tell Dasha "goodbye" for good - because I can't take one more second of their escapades in Tania's bedroom.  OH and how about when he went up to the roof to look for Tania and Dasha came out and saw them!!!  Oh I was like "Oh yeah...Oh yeah...That's right...Uh huh...In your face!"  I can't WAIT until she finds out.  Which is horrible because she's never done anything wrong...other than be bitchy to Tatia.  If you think about it, poor Dasha is really the only one who hasn't done anything wrong - except, again, be rude to Tania.  I truly feel bad for her.  But not bad enough to really care too much.  ("Honey badger don't care"!)

OH and have you noticed I keep calling these characters different things?  Tania...Tatiana...Tatia...Could that be because Paullina has about 17 names for everyone?  It's so hard to keep straight!  It reminds me of my Irish great aunts who have 45 names for each other.  Aunt Mary was also "Mini"..."Minerve"..."MinervA"...or then there was Aunt Gone who was also "Margone" and "Marguerite"...seriously...you just have to keep your head down - run right in - and pray you know who's who!

Heartsick, party of ME?

SPOILER ALERT:  Don't read unless you've reached 26% on your reading device...OR until Tatiana has taken up cooking for the fam. 

I was in BED and totally not sleeping and decided to GET UP and blog because I am SEETHING and had to get it out.  Alexander keeps coming over - eating dinner - and then SCHTUPPING Dasha in Tatiana's bed??  Do I have that right??  My heart is saying "Oh noooo...he's probably just putting off Dasha and telling stories about Germany...and Dasha is trying her best to get him into bed".  But my brain is saying "Carol, are you a damned fool?  Boyfriend is in there, closing his eyes and pretending Dasha is Tatiana while he does the deed!"

I am SICK with heartache for poor Tatiana, having to endure this.  And if she gives it up to Dima, there truly is no god in Leningrad.  I mean really.  My fear is that she's going to - out of spite - and then she'll find out Shura has been playing checkers with Dasha all this time.  But again - that is ridiculous and I am not so naive that I'm going to think that is what is going on.

How can he do this to Tatiana?  Does he have not one shred of integrity?  Why would he do this?  And after all they've been through?  After he saved her?!  I am completely grossed out.  Up until this point, I have been loving this book....and my god, the HOSPITAL SCENE???  You had to scrape me up off the floor after THAT one.  Only to keep reading and get to this horrible existence for Tatiana where she's completely stuck in this horrible situation that HE HAS PUT HER INTO.

At this point, I agree with Tatiana.  "Just leave, Alexander...and take your Dima with you."

Oh. Em. JEEpers!!!!!

SPOILER ALERT:  Don't read unless you're 23% on your Kindle or reading device!!!!!!



(That's almost 3 miles for us American dumbasses.)

Deep breath...deep breath...deep breath...

Any of you who put this book down early on?  PICK the f*cker back up again right effing now!  (Sorry - I get a little saucy when I'm excited.  And by saucy, I don't mean drunk.  Haven't touched a drop!  Shannon, on the other hand, is drinking something with Firefly Skinnytea Vodka  that she swears tastes like sweet tea.  She was at 12% last time I heard.  We're power-reading this because it's so damned good.)

You Rock! Now Leave Me Alone!

SPOILER ALERT - Don't read unless you've reached the first page of Part 1 in "Smoke and Thunder".  (Again with this damned Kindle.  I'm going to have to take the book out of the library so I can figure out where the hell I am!)

I have some quiet time (thank you, Spongebob) and am reading like a fiend.  But I HAD to come and tell you where I am and beg for some silent moral support across the miles from wherever you are to my spot on the couch at the (real) Jersey shore.

Tatiana just told Alexander not to call on her anymore...because of Dasha.  People...she called him SHURA.  And he told her not to.  I am devastated.  This is the best book full of angst I've read in a long time.  Ask Tracey.  Carol loves herself some angst.  (And apparently she loves talking about herself in the third person, too.)

I am in tears because these characters are SO REAL.  Tatia is one KICK ASS heroine.  She might be the heroine I've most related to - ever.  NOT because she's kick ass - but because she is the epitome of a youngest sibling who has been taken care of and then abused for it her entire life.  So you end up with a family that does everything for you while laughing and saying "You can't do that!"  Ask Tracey.  She'll tell you.  She's my Dasha!  Although thankfully, we've never fought over a man.  We have slept in the same bed, though.  I'd sleep with her over the third sister any day because Tracey doesn't snore...but I digress.

Anyway - my current pet peeve about the heroines I love is that none of them care about their appearance...and they wear it like a badge of honor.  You have Bella who was always "oh please...I don't care about clothes...give me your flannel"...and then you have Diana who's all "Oops - all I packed was my stretch pants for candle lit dinner with your mother."  But not Tatiana.  She's all "I'll die in this tight white dress with red flowers and my sister's red sandals before I'll put on my brown boots in front of Alexander".  Girlfriend is REAL.  That's what women DO when they're diggin' on a man.  They try to look their best!

Alexander is real as well.  I wasn't happy with the fact that he kept Dasha around...but I realized he only did it so he could come over and see Tania.  And I wasn't happy that he let Tania go off with Dima...but once Dima put the moves on her, he never let them out of his sight again.  And now he tried to say they were "just friends"...and then got really angry when she tried to push him away.  He didn't get all "fine, whatevs"...boyfriend got his feathers up.  And that is SO real.

OK I'm rambling and I need to "get back"... (LOL as if I live in 1941 Leningrad and they might miss me on my trek out for matches and caviar.)

More to come!