December 29, 2015

Decompressed (with the most miles since September)

For the 9th time in my life, I'm taking refuge and refreshing in Hawaii.

This is the first time that I've come twice in one calendar year.  Note to self -- It doesn't suck to return to HNL in the same year, turns out there's more than enough good stuff here to support enjoyment on two separate trips.

Sunsets over the ocean never get old.
So, we arrived on Saturday night and Sunday AM, I headed out for my "typical" Waikiki run around Diamond Head.  In case I haven't been clear, with the toe, ankle sprains, food excess, etc -- I'm in serious need of some fitness work.  But I forced myself to do the hot, hilly, humid loop (I did 4 X 1 mile intervals with 0.1 mile walk/water recovery and then let myself walk the last mile or so back to the hotel).  Victory!

First vacation meal was Hawaiian Pork nachos at Duke's with a margarita.  It's a tradition.  Also, I'm going to have Kalua Pork nachos at some point in every Hawaii trip, so I might as well own it and do it as the first thing.

Have I mentioned E & I are suckers for rotating restaurants?
Dinner that night was a couple of glasses of wine in the rotating restaurant watching the sun set followed by a nice light selection of hand-made musubi, plus some delicious treats from the ABC store on our hotel balcony.  I must say, one of the best things about traveling with your best friend is that you agree on what makes sense, even if it's odd meals, like standing in line for 45 minutes in the dark with a bunch of Japanese people for made-to-order Musubi in a plastic bag.  Seriously, warm, hand-made seaweed wrapped rice triangles made to order, this place was awesome.
The next day we headed out to hike the Koko Crater Railway Trail.  You know, the same one POTUS and FLOTUS hiked a few days ago (I'd researched it and planned to do it *before* they did it, of course).
View from the bottom of the trek.

This was the best selfie we could do in the glare.

3/4 of the way up
 I totally started using my arms to push my legs down for a more full body workout at this point, just like the guy above...

Keyhole view from the bunker at the top.

View from the top of Koko Crater -- gorgeous!  (Diamond head in the distance)
1,048 steps up and down, plus an additional mile walk to lunch destroyed my quads.  Today's Diamond Head loop was an average pace of 13:43 per mile.  Yikes.  But I got it done, and we've been averaging 7 miles per day between running, hiking and just walking, so I'm trying to enjoy the activity level and just assume it'll all translate into heat training, hill training, humidity training, and general goodness when I get back home.

In other news, last week's total mileage was 26.42 (including walking and hiking, as always), which puts it as the highest mileage week since September...  so that's something.

Happy almost New Year!

December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve... Content

Two days ago, E drove through the crazy traffic and storms to ensure that we could be in my hometown for our family's early celebration of the Christmas holidays.  We have a complex family tree on my side, so we do the early big meal with group blessing followed by presents and stockings to ensure that those of us who can be local for a celebration may avoid conflicts with other family members who may want to claim the actual holiday for themselves.

Sunset view on the drive, almost to my childhood hometown.  Such a different sky than the bay area can offer.
After the drive, we spent the night with a 25Y+ friend, went out to dinner, caught up, and the next AM, she and I did a 6ish mile run together.  She was so much more fit than me... I felt so grateful for her waiting for me and holding herself back to allow both of us to enjoy the joint workout -- talk about a Christmas spirit of giving!  She was even kind enough to wait for me while I had to use a construction port-a-john.  For the finale, the last .6 miles, she ran uphill hard (Sierra Nevada Foothills are no joke), easily putting distance between us with every step to solidly close out her workout, while I walked, doing my best to jog every 1/10th of a mile or so, totally wasted from the hills on the loop (have I mentioned I lost quite a bit of fitness over the last several months?).  It's hard to explain how much I enjoyed all of this -- the shared dinner, wine, evening, workout conversation, and recovery.  True friend moments like these are so precious, few, and unique.

From her house, we headed to my brother's.  We picked up lunch and lounged through a pre-family-big-Christmas-meal snack at his place with my niece before heading to my mother's for our Christmas celebration.

We had too many presents (but that's fun, right?).  My mom asked my niece if she had any idea who had sent 2 John Green books and some coloring books, pencils and sharpeners to my mom's, saying, "It's really weird, they are addressed to me, but I think they were meant for you."

My niece replied, "Well, they were all on my Christmas wish list, so I think someone knew what they were doing..."

At which point, my mom, sheepishly said, "Oh, I should probably check my Amazon.  I probably ordered them for you off your list..."

No harm, no foul, though.  Niece got double presents from grandma, so all is well.

E & I went to bed at 11:30 and I slept 'til 9, he slept 'til 11 AM today.  Amazing -- longest night of sleep for both of us in ages.  After an easy 3 miler, we headed to Beach Hut Deli for lunch, where I silently toasted Dad with my beer and wished him and all of his heavenly cronies a Merry Christmas.

From there, we drove to Santa Rosa, taking highway 37, which was so picturesque I regret not taking photos.  We shared a loud and celebratory Christmas Eve dinner with my dad's sisters, my uncle and my cousins, and tomorrow AM we're returning for aebelskivers.

If all goes well, I'll win the text war I've got with my brother to send Xmas wishes out at midnight first (and if I lose, I'll still be second, 'cause mom and sis don't even know there's a contest).  From there, it's off to bed, and up for a run before brunch with the family (and hopefully a videocall with my sis and her kids) followed by a drive across the Golden Gate Bridge home.

All in all, I couldn't be happier with my stereotypically Californian Christmas celebration.

December 21, 2015

Oh What Fun...

It's been a celebratory couple of weeks.

Twilight During The Holidays in SF -- So Festive.

In the last 14 days, I've attended 7 holiday parties.  Each and every one of them was great and something I'm very pleased I did.  I met new people and people I'd only known virtually.  I had fun and enjoyable conversations.  Good food, wine, and hugs.

About 50% of the parties were professionally related (fun, but also a kind of exhausting and hard work), whereas the other half were purely social (less exhausting, but if you're me and bad at names, still a type of hard work).

So, yikes, am I burnt out.

See, I'm already fairly deep in the throes of  my 10th straight year of practicing law without any significant break.  And even without the 10 year whine, when you take normal end-of-year legal work stress, add large social obligations (often multiple events on multiple consecutive days), and insist that all the regular life stuff keeps chugging along as well?  What you get is a fried BT.

Two weekends ago, on Sunday, it was very stormy.  I'd put in an 18 mile week, half running, half walking, and I really wanted to get fit in one last run since my ankle seemed to be holding up.  So, I went to my gym.

Or, where my gym used to be.

Turns out, my gym closed on November 1st (and I'd been traveling so much this fall that I hadn't been there to see the announcements, assuming there were some).  They also charged me the annual renewal fee on November 23rd, which I found particularly cheeky.  My treadmill in the garage had died about 6 months ago, so that option was out.  And the storm was too windy and rainy to make running outside a reasonable option.

So, I took the hint that life did not want me to run, and E and I went out for delicious pho instead.  Last week was slightly better on the running front.  While Christmas shopping, I bought myself a Garmin Forerunner 620 to replace my very dead 310XT.  I expected to be annoyed by something because every time I've tried one of the smaller Garmins in the past, I can't believe the design choices they've made, but so far, I've been very pleased. 

Saturday, for my own virtual jingle bell hell, I headed out for run/jog/walk intervals totaling 6.04 miles and averaging 13 minutes/mile.  One of the walk breaks was longer than expected because the treadmill outlet called me back -- yahoo, I've got a replacement treadmill scheduled for delivery tomorrow.  This is a good thing since I no longer have a gym, and I'm signed up for a 15K in 3 weeks.  This is possibly the worst-prepared I've ever been for any long(ish) run.  The longest run I've done without a break since July is 6 miles (2 weeks ago, with the local running club).  The good news is, the ankle seems fine, so I *should* be able to work my way up to 9 miles over the next 3 weeks so long as I can find some time in between all of the holiday festivities.

December 13, 2015

A Tale of 2 Soups

Sunday night of last week, I made soup number 4 for the season.  A tomato-lentil option that was almost identical to the delicious lentil soup from last week, except with canned garden tomato purée subbed for some of the broth and less added lemon and vinegar due to the acidity of the tomatoes (and, of course, since I'm spicing as I finish the soup, no doubt it ended up differently).  Overall, delicious.

We have one serving left, and it was slated for tonight, but then I took the spare time in my day today to make a new soup and it smelled so delicious that the last of the lentils will have to wait for tomorrow night.  Such is the conflict of plentitude in homemade soup season.

Today's soup was a modification of a bunch various recipes I read about mung beans, and in particular, preparations involving coconut milk.  E & I are very happy with the result (recipe below), so much so that I tried to take several photos after we'd lost most of the day's natural light to celebrate the awesome outcome.

Post last seasoning taste, cooling on the stove, delicious (not well lit)

4 T high heat oil (I use safflower oil)
1 T cumin seeds (I may consider increasing to 1.5T next time)
2 T mustard seeds (I think I'd go for 1 T next time)

3-4 T of garlic powder (I'm not proud of this, but I ran out of garlic)
2 minced hungarian hot peppers from the garden (sub 2-3 minced peppers of your chosen heat, be ready to turn hood/fan on high to minimize capsaicin smoke)

3 C preserved tomato puree from the garden (sub 1 Q canned stewed tomatoes or lightly cooked down sauce with water)

2 T ginger powder
2 T ground coriander
1 T mustard powder (optional, didn't seem to add to the flavor much)
1 tsp turmeric
1+ tsp sea salt

2 C mung beans

4-6 cups water (depends on your preference of soupiness)

1 can coconut milk
Juice of 1-2 limes (or 1/4 cup lime juice)
1 C chopped fresh greens (I used arugula, 'cause it's what I had, apparently cilantro is traditional -- use less, or spinach or kale will work too)

On the kitchen table, under LED lighting.  Too much reflection.
Perhaps my favorite part about this recipe is step one:

1. Heat the oil 'til boiling and brown the cumin seeds (which crackle) and mustard seeds (which pop, like little tiny popcorn) as the first step for 1 minute.  Turn down to low.  Super aromatic and fun.  If you love cumin (like I do) you will find that the roasted cumin seed flavor that cooks into this soup is amazing.

2. Add minced onion and peppers and garlic powder (or 9 mashed cloves, which I really would have preferred to do, I just found myself without fresh garlic for once).  Cook down on low/medium for 1-2 minutes.  Add tomatoes and all spices.  Bring to a boil and then turn down to low and cook for 5 minutes.
Outside, soup's done, on the cover of the BBQ, black background and fading natural light.

3.  Add 2+ C of mung beans and water.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and turn down to a simmer.  Set timer for 30 minutes and stir 2+ times during that period.  Check for doneness.  If not done, add more water, 15 more minutes on low.  When mung beans are just past al dente, you are ready to finalize the soup.

4.  Turn off heat.  Add coconut milk, chopped greens, lime juice according to what you think you'd like and taste.  Stir more.  Add salt, sugar, lime juice and cayenne until the flavor is perfect.  Spoon it out into a bowl and try to take pictures.  Fail miserably when the bowl is overturned onto the ground, giving you an excellent opportunity to show the true texture of the final product. 

Perhaps the best photo to show texture, after the bowl fell off the BBQ cover and spilled all over the ground.
Enjoy warm.

December 7, 2015

Back On My Feet

My ankle is still a little sore.  But I did 4+ miles on the trails on Saturday (with a group of lovely bay area running buddies) and 6 running with the local running group on Sunday.  So, I finished the week with 21.28 miles total and a feeling like I can actually start building up my mileage with a goal of doing some early 2016 racing.

Totally worth the long drive to run in this beautiful setting.

Meeting up with the runners who did the full loop on our out and back.

All of us.
Other than that, not too much to report.  It was a gloriously lazy easy week at home.  I made a gigantic lasagna on Sunday afternoon and will likely be eating off of it for most of the week.  It had been years since I'd done the multi-hour effort that is making a proper bolognese sauce from scratch and layering it with ricotta and greens and lasagna noodles and cheese.  I even made a spare smaller lasagna that I gave to our across the street neighbors -- they were so happy (they have a 1 year old, they didn't have food for dinner on Sunday night, and one of the couple will be traveling this week, leaving the other as a single parent who can dine on leftovers).  This week's soup option?  Assuming we actually finish the lasagna, I'm going to try to experiment with a tomato lentil soup.

November 30, 2015

Soup #3, and Still Healing

Soup #3 is one of my default go-to options:  Lentil Soup.
Yellow Lentil Soup

Course 2: The last cherry tomatoes & sauteed shishitos from the garden.
Lentil Soup Recipe:

1 cup chopped onions (I used red 'cause I had one half cut, but ordinarily, I'd use yellow)
4 cloves garlic
1 chile
1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup yellow lentils
6 cups water/broth

(1 Cup leftover roasted carrot soup)

cumin (2 T?)
turmeric (1 T?)
lemon juice (1/4 C?)
white vinegar (splash)

1. Sautee first group of ingredients 'til onions are translucent, stirring constantly.

2. Add 2nd group of ingredients, stir, bring to a boil, reduce to a low simmer, cover with a lid, and set kitchen timer for 35 minutes.

3. At 35 minutes, taste.  If more cooking time could be used, add time and continue to simmer, otherwise, move to step 4 after turning off the heat.

4. Blend all ingredients with a stick blender until smooth.  Taste.  Add leftover soup if you are planning to add it and re-puree.  Taste.

5. Based on taste test from #4, add ingredients from last group to taste.

6. Let soup cool for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm.  Enjoy!

On the workout front, the ankle is slowly but surely healing.  Last week the mileage totaled 16.76 including a very exciting 3.06 miles of jog/walking with my sister-in-law.  I can jog.  My ankle can handle the load.  I can't jump without extreme pain (thanks to tabatas, I know this), and I'm apprehensive on uneven terrain -- so we'll see where I end up with the planned 8 mile trail run with the bay area running folks this weekend...

Today, starting a new week where I  have 75% mobility, I did 3 tabata workouts, with the jumping modified (because my ankle still can't jump).  I also did 15 minutes on the elliptical on level 9 (1.06 miles) and 15 minutes on the treadmill including 2 X 0.25 @ 10 min/mile 2% incline with incline walking heartrate recovery.  Overall, the workout felt like a good effort, and I feel comfortable that I'm headed in the right direction.  The next big test will be yoga... Wish me luck.

November 27, 2015

Audiobook Year in Review: Part 2

I might have an audiobook addiction.  The review of the first 10 books of the year is here

I've kept on pace and even sped up a bit, such that it looks like I'm averaging just short of an audiobook a week this year.  At around $12/book it's an expensive habit, but we don't have any entertainment subscriptions other than Netflix and Amazon Prime, so I tell myself it's okay, and that it's not quite as expensive as buying actual paper books (but, of course, not as reasonable as obtaining books from the library).

Truly, my quality of life is so improved by listening to audiobooks while doing chores like driving, folding laundry, walking/running/working out, cooking, and more.  Things I used to consider drudgery are now welcomed and even longed for.

So, in case you're wondering what could possibly convince me to spend so much time on them, here are audiobooks 11-40 that caught my fancy this year:

The hypnotist's love story
More Australian accents.   A fun jaunt through the little lies we tell ourselves that sometimes overwhelm us.  Light fun rom-com.
One plus one
Jojo Moyes
Classic best-selling love story with all the classic sappy elements of love and romance and loss and hardship and redemption that make a chick-lit escape so wonderful.
Margaret Atwood
I'd read Oryx and Crake in 2004, during law school, and The Year of the Flood in 2011.  I'd seen MaddAdam pop up regularly as recommended for me by Audible (who, if I'm honest, probably knows more about my reading predilections than anyone in the world thanks to the Amazon overlord).  This book is a classic example (as would be the others in the series, no doubt) of how different the experience of reading can be versus listening to an audiobook.  There is quite a bit of verse in this series.  I'd written about my enjoyment of it earlier, and how to me, it was reminiscent of Blake.  Reading it, there was an internal rhyme, meter, and voice that I developed for my own enjoyment which is likely similar to the internal voice I use for Blake.  This time, listening to the last book in the series as an audiobook, I was so surprised that the voice and cadence the professionals selected for the performance was so different than what I'd heard in my head in the previous 2 books' visual readings.
Tiny Beautiful Things
Cheryl Strayed
I'm with the band: confessions of a groupie
Pamela Des Barres
Recommended by Kim Gordon in Girl In A Band.  Fascinating memoirs and history of the early years of rock.
Take another little piece of my heart: a groupie grows up
Pamela Des Barres
2nd act in Pamelaa Des Barres' life.  The groupie grows up and lives life the best she can.  More historical Hollywood and music icon memoirs, but also just a good tale.
Let's spend the night together: Backstage Secrets of Rock 'n Roll Supergroupies
Pamela Des Barres
An investigative look into the many manifestations of groupie culture.  Fascinating.
Cheryl Strayed
Ms. Strayed has a recognizable written voice between Wild, Dear Sugar, and this book.  If you like her writing and perspective in either of her other two books, you will enjoy this one as well.  If you enjoy her reading performance, you will enjoy this one, too.  The focus on drama here is larger than it is Wild, but it's very well done and a good story.
Live Right and Find Happiness
Dave Barry
Classic Dave Barry.  Lighthearted.  Fun.
The Girl on the Train
Paula Hawkins
Good Thriller.  Well done.  The alcoholic unreliable female narrator is an interesting twist.
When to Rob a Bank
Steven Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
Excerpts from the Freakonomics blog.  Entertaining, but just okay.  I suspect this is one of those collections that is better visually read. 
Blue Nights
Joan Didion
Her unique introspective voice.  On aging, life, and revisiting the loss, again and again through all of life's losses, of her daughter.  Painful.  But beautiful. Poignant.
Going Off Script
Guiliana Rancic
I just needed something light and enjoyable after Blue Nights.  I had no idea who Giuliana Rancic was, but the description of the content and the audio-excerpt led me to believe this one would fit the bill.  The initial hours were exactly what the doctor ordered -- hilarious tales of the early years of Giuliana's life as an Italian immigrant in America, growing up in roughly the same era as mine.  By the end, Giuliana's story becomes much more complex and difficult than I originally expected, but she never loses her hilarious sense of humor or perspective.  Over all, I enjoyed this much more than I expected.
The Girl Who saved the King of Sweden
Jonas Jonasson
My audible wish-list at the moment is populated with serious, difficult, heavy works.  And, I do enjoy them.  But even with the laughter from my last selection, I just didn't feel up for any of them.  So, when I saw that the man who wrote The one hundred year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared had written a new book, I was intrigued.  The reviews quickly assured me that the voice and style were in keeping with the last book, which I sincerely enjoyed.  So, I jumped right in, and it delivered, as promised.  A great tale of coincidence and talent leading to accidental participation in great historical events.  Comical and fun.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
One of the best stories I've enjoyed in a very long time.  Due to the varied African accents, this was one where I think the audiobook brings much more to my own enjoyment than visual reading would.  I couldn't bring a Nigerian accent to mind before listening to this book, and I can now, which is a wonderful thing.  The characters were complex, as were the topics (racism, the African Black american experience as opposed to the African American experience, and the return of an expatriate Nigerian to Nigeria, all wrapped up in a multi-decade complex love story).
Mr. Penumbra's 24 hour bookstore
Robin Sloan
So Enjoyable!  A true SF read in both senses: Science Fiction/Fantasy meets San Francisco.  I suspect it won't age super well due to its commitment to modern day trends like Googlers and the current state of technology, but boy was it fun right now.  If you liked Harry Potter or any other Fantasy or Sci-Fi series and you enjoy technology, design, and modern day life in the San Francisco world, you'll be thoroughly amused at how clever and well done this one is.
John Scalzi
I very much enjoyed this book.  When you stop to think about the story, it's clever, cohesive, and well thought out -- tons of work must have gone into making the world consistent. But when you're reading it, it's just a great story that's very plot driven with well built characters. Interestingly, the main character/narrator, Chris Shane, is never specified as male or female. There are two separate audiobooks, one narrated by Amber Benson and one by Wil Wheaton.  I listened to the Amber Benson version.
Anansi Boys
Niel Gaiman
The critically acclaimed tale of Fat Charlie and his brother, set in a similar world to that of American Gods, but taking place in London, Florida, St. Andrews and the otherworld.  Excellent reading performance by Lenny Henry -- so many different character voices, all done consistently well.  An enjoyable escape.
Crash and Burn
Artie Lange
A very honest, sometimes cringe-worthy tale of hedonism, dysfunction, and comedy.  This seems very self-enforcing to me -- if you are already an Artie Lange fan, you'll likely appreciate this book and like him more once you are done.  If you aren't, you may become one, or you may fall on the side of many who find his behavior and humor depressing and vile.
The Storied Life of AJ Fikry
Gabrielle Zevin
Like most books set in bookstores, this is a book for book people -- with references to classics woven throughout.  A slow moving book-heavy book.  If you love western literature you will likely love this too. 
I don’t care about your band
Julie Klausner
A fun pop culture romp through the memoirs of a young single woman being open and honest about her dating experiences in modern America (with a focus on New York).
The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Rachel Joyce
A lovely story of an older man who decides to make a pilgrimage for *something* and the chaos that ensues as well as the growth in his marriage as a result.
Modern Romance
Aziz Ansari, Eric Klinenberg
Aziz is such a fucking nerd.  He decided to do some stand up about dating.  Then he got curious.  The next thing you know, he's hosting focus groups in major cities throughout the world and soliciting input from sociologists, anthropologists, and other impressively credentialed academics in relevant fields.  All, as far as I'm concerned, in an effort to string together an audiobook that fascinates me wth facts while making me laugh.  if you are interested in modern love culture, dating, and laughter, you will love this book.  Also, since it's read by Aziz, it's one of those instances where the audiobook, for me, is even better than the written book (even if I did miss out on the graphics as Aziz so often liked to point out).
Tokyo Vice
Jake Adelstein
I like to educate myself before and while traveling in a place.  I was headed back to Tokyo this November, so I picked this audiobook up and found myself completely enthralled.  Equal parts cultural observation and journalist/detective mystery it's very enjoyable if you are looking for something written by a Jewish boy from the American Midwest who ends up as a reporter in the crime bureau of one of the major Tokyo press offices.
Japan took the Jap out of me
Lisa Cook
Again, in the interests of pre-travel education, I listened to this one with a goal of understanding the gaijin english teaching experience from the eyes of a Californian female.  I figured I would relate to her experience.  But actually, she's so self-identifying as a JAP (Jewish-American-Princess) that I found the whole book to be educational on both sides.  I listened to her do things I'd observed "JAPS" do in California with confusion, but she was in Japan, so then I listened to her explanations of why she was doing what she was doing and how it was received as so foreign in Japan.  Oddly, I think I learned more about the wealthy Jewish American female (Californian?) experience from listening to this book, than I did about Japan.  Regardless of the unexpected JAP education, there were several passages that really moved me -- in particular, I was so impressed that she took her time in Japan to speak out and educate about women's rights and teenage depression.  Specifically, there is a story of how she saw an old woman in the subway being verbally abused but her husband convinced her that they really couldn't do anything at the time (and she admitted he was right).  She was so upset that the next day, she replaced her senior female English class with an open discussion (where she cried) about the woman and her concerns about her students' self worth and how verbal and physical abuse is *never* okay and how they have to love themselves and walk away from abuse and know that they don't have to put up with it.  The response from the students (many of whom also cried), fellow teachers, and community to such a necessary message made it clear that while Americans are often brash, sometimes, we come strong to deliver important messages that are culturally difficult, but very important.  In case you couldn't tell, I very much enjoyed this one.
Tune In Tokyo
Tim Anderson
Yet another book in my "seek out cultural education on Japan" series.  Tim is a gay man from Raleigh, North Carolina.  He is a southerner first, and I could relate to many of his perspectives on the world because my husband is also a southerner.  His book was a hilarious summary of his experiences and a humorous take on Japanese cultural oddities, his *mistress* of Tokyo, Japanese gay culture (and wacky young female culture that is oddly parallel with gay culture in other areas of the world), food, language, music, and just general foreign hilarity was educational and enjoyable.
An Unwelcome Quest
Scott Meyer
I'm not sure what to say about this.  It was the 3rd book in the series and I accidentally read it after the 1st, but I didn't notice.  The reason I switched from physical books to audiobooks for this series is that E informed me he had no desire to read anymore in the series and physical books only make sense if I can share with others.  This series didn't make the cut for him, as he put it, because it was overwritten, oversimplified, too childish, and all sorts of other not-super-positive things.  And yet, I purchased this book, and ran my way happily through almost 12 hours of audio book.  What's more, I enjoyed it.  I even went back and got the audiobook for #2 that I'd skipped.  So clearly, there's something here that's enjoyable.
Spell or High Water
Scott Meyer
Same general comment as above.  I enjoy it, clearly, 'cause I came back for more.  There's time travel, and magic, and a reasonably well-constructed world.  There's gender and cultural awareness and sensitivity in a manner that is so out of line with the simplistic writing that it's a bit confusing.  But, overall, I enjoyed the almost 12 hours of this one as well (many good miles were run and walked).
Niel Gaiman
This one had been on my to-read list for quite some time.  Very enjoyable.  Classic Gaiman in style.  Epic fantasy interleaved with real-world minutia and an unlikely hero protagonist.
Why Not Me
Mindy Kaling
Funny, thoughtful, introspective on feminism and race and success while cracking jokes, similar in tone to her first memoir.  If you liked the first one, you'll like this one as well.