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Annie's Nightstand
Spice: The History of a Temptation : Spices helped draw Europeans into their age of expansion, but the Western world was far from ignorant of them before that time. Turner's lively and wide-ranging account begins with the voyages of discovery, but demonstrates that, even in ancient times, spices from distant India and Indonesia made their way west and fueled the European imagination. Romans and medieval Europeans alike used Asian pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and mace to liven their palates, treat their maladies, enhance their sex lives and mediate between the human and the divine. While many of these applications were not particularly efficacious, spices retained their allure, with an overlay of exotic associations that remain today. Turner argues that the use of rare and costly spices by medieval and Renaissance elites amounted to conspicuous consumption. He has perhaps a little too much fun listing the ridiculous uses of spices in medieval medicine—since, as he notes in a few sparse asides, some spices do indeed have medicinal effects—and fails to get into the real experience of the people. His account of religious uses, on the other hand, paints a richer picture and gets closer to imagining the mystery that people found in these startlingly intense flavors and fragrances. It is this mystery and the idea that sensations themselves have a history that make the entire book fascinating. From Publishers Weekly

Dan's Nightstand 
A Dance with Dragons (Book 5 in The Game of Thrones Series) : “Filled with vividly rendered set pieces, unexpected turnings, assorted cliffhangers and moments of appalling cruelty, A Dance with Dragons is epic fantasy as it should be written: passionate, compelling, convincingly detailed and thoroughly imagined.”—The Washington Post
  “Long live George Martin . . . a literary dervish, enthralled by complicated characters and vivid language, and bursting with the wild vision of the very best tale tellers.”—The New York Times
“By turns thrilling, funny, scary, emotionally devastating, oddly inspirational, and just plain grand.”—Entertainment Weekly
“One of the best series in the history of fantasy.”—Los Angeles Times

In The Xbox


I mean lost in the best possible sense. As in, “Where did those six hours go?” As in, “I don’t really need to go shopping today.” As in, “Hello, Mr. Sunrise.”
When it comes to offline single-player games, no recent title will draw players in for hundreds of hours as readily as Skyrim. Plenty of games promise to let you unleash your inner all-conquering hero (or antihero), endowed with the power to shape both your own epic destiny and the fate of the world. Almost none deliver on that promise as thoroughly as Skyrim. - NYTimes Games Review 

Annie : 

Many of you know that I am a confessed Katamari addict and that there hasn't been a new Katamari game in pretty much forever. So when Dan found this game - admittedly made for children but still kinda challenging for me because I'm terrible at video games - I got way too excited about it. This game is pretty similar to Katamari but does lack the little weird details that I personally adore. It is more challenging though which can be fun too in a different way. I have already fallen in love with De Blob but I do have one bad thing to say about it. The 2 player options on this games are pretty bad. I wish the video game universe would figure out that not all gamers are sitting alone in their basements... I mean maybe like 80% are... hard to say without more research but I can say with confidence that I wish there were more coop games for Dan and I to play together.  - Annie

(Yes! I'm now stuck on level 6.)