Friday, January 31, 2014

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi | Book Review

My Thoughts
This is the second book in a trilogy, so you know: spoilers for the first book in this review of the second book, of course.

Through the Ever Night earned three of five stars from me only because the writing is pretty good and I already knew and liked the characters and I've met the author and she's a nice person and honestly, that flavors my feelings about books.  If I'd picked this up without having read Under the Never Sky I would've had to think hard about even giving it one or two stars.

Through the Ever Night starts a few months after the end of Under the Never Sky.  There was quite a lot of action in the first book and then there was practically no action in this one.  Aria has found out that her mom died and is still Outside.  In the first chapter she hooks up with Perry and hangs out with his tribe for a little while.  Things are pretty tense, because the Tides (his tribe) don't trust or like Dwellers and they see Aria as a Dweller.  Cinder is still living with the Tides too, and still no one quite knows who he is or where he came from or why he can do what he does.  So of course the plan is still on for Aria and Perry to go looking for the Still Blue, and they do make a little progress on that in Through the Ever Night, but they don't make much.  And they don't get there.  (Hope that's not too much of a spoiler.  You do know there's a third book; they can't resolve stuff in this one.)

I got hooked with Under the Never Sky and I do plan to read Into the Still Blue to find out how it all ends, but this second book just felt like filler to me.  This might have been better as a duo of books.  I recommend this to people who enjoyed Under the Never Sky.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bound by Erica O'Rourke | Book Review

(A side note:  the cover makes NO SENSE to the book AT ALL.  Don't even look at it.)

Bound was good... if you've read Torn and Tangled and are needing to know how it ends.  Otherwise, I wouldn't bother.  It didn't really have a strong finish.

From here on this review contains spoilers for Torn and Tangled but not for Bound.  You've been warned.

Bound picks up a few months after Tangled ended, which is good because otherwise I'd start to worry about Mo failing school.  All the magic stuff and mob stuff is pretty distracting from ordinary school life.  Mo is still involved in lots of stuff from before, plus a few extra stuff.  Because who needs time for sleep?  She is still the Vessel, but she's also discovered that the magic is alive and real and needs caring for and talking to.  She's still involved with Constance, so now Niobe, the Arc mentor-cum-fake guidance counselor has decided that they need lots of physical training together, and tutoring in the language of magic.

Also, you remember the guys?  Colin, for whom she's given up her dream of escaping her uncle and going to NYU?  He's still around.  And so is Luc, the hot Arc.  When Bound opens, she's firmly with Colin.  She's even trying to get in his pants!  I kind of admire a girl who goes after what she wants, but I don't get excited about teens doing it.  So I'm torn on that one.  This still isn't a definite, though:  which boy will she end up with?  (You'll find out by the end of the trilogy; don't worry!  But you have to read the book yourself.)

Finally, the family and friends.  Lena turns out to be a better friend than you already think she is.  I mean, she's already incredibly kind and patient and lovely and then she actually finds a way to take it to the next level in Bound.  It's unreal.  And family... Remember at the end of Tangled?  Mo's dad?  Yup... that's a can of worms that got me all kinds of twisted up inside.  You have to read the book.  It won't happen until you're practically done with the whole trilogy and then you'll lift your hands to the sky and scream "NOOOOO!!!!  WHYY?????"  Just like that.

Oh, and the magic stuff.  Lots of magic stuff happening.  But there's So. Much. Drama. in Chicago that the magic stuff almost gets lost.  I know, hard to believe.

So that's my issue with the book:  there's so very much going on in so many different directions... it's hard to wrap it all up.  The book kind of starts a little slow and then at the end all of a sudden BAM it wraps up.  I'd have loved maybe two or three fewer plot lines and a lot more character development.  And there's a thing that happens between Mo and Luc right after a magic thing (you'll know when you get there) that will make you go "whoa.  That was fast."

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

W... W... W... Wednesdays

This meme is sponsored by the blog Should Be Reading at  On W... W... W... Wednesdays book bloggers are asked just three simple questions:

What are you currently reading?

What did you just finish reading?

What will you read next?

I think this will be a nice recap and will give me one day a week with an easy peasy blog post.  :)

This week,
I'm Reading The Making of Middle-Earth: A New Look Inside the World of J.R.R. Tolkien by Christopher Snyder--I'm finding this fascinating!

I Just Finished Reading Enders by Lissa Price--I loved this and so I'm torn:  I do think we may be getting oversaturated with YA dystopian trilogies, but I also want a third book to follow Enders!

Next, I'm Going to Read Little Blue Lies by Chris Lynch

What about ya'll?  What are you up to, bibliographically speaking?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday

This is a neat weekly feature over at a blog I really enjoy, The Broke and the Bookish.  They read books similar to some that I've been reviewing, and they're fun and they write well.  Totally worth checking out.

Top Ten Worlds That I Would Never Want to Live In, or Top Ten Characters I'd Never Want to Trade Places With

1. Juliet Moreau, on the island of Dr. Moreau--I just finished writing my review of The Madman's Daughter (look for it very soon!) and I would never, ever, ever want to trade places with her.  Very chilling thrilling book.

2. Any Stephen King character--There's not many positives to being a resident of Castle Rock, ME.

3. Katniss Everdeen--I know... EVERYONE participating in this particular Top Ten Tuesday is going to use this answer.  But it's true: I definitely do not want to trade places with Katniss.

4. Lela Santos from Sanctum by Sarah Fine--She's in Hell.  Yes, on purpose, to save her friend, but still: HELL.

5. Either of the parents in Defending Jacob by William Landay--I'd hate to ever be put in the position where someone I love is accused of such a heinous crime.

6. Pressia's world, in Pure, Fuse, or Burn.  Man, is it desolate.  And seeing the fused people might creep me out a bit.

7. WWII Europe--from Elizabeth Wein's books.  Concentration camp would totally break me.

8. Melody from Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper--What an incredible frustration it would be to think "normally" but be so physically handicapped as to be unable to express your thoughts to the world.

9. Room from Room by Emma Donoghue--Definitely definitely definitely don't want to go there.

10. The ocean from Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch--I can't think of many (realistic) worse places to be than a small boat lost at sea.  (Realistic meaning not dystopian/post-apocalyptic/sci-fi.)  I get anxious, I get seasick.... just no good.

What about ya'll?  Any worlds you'd never ever want to visit?  Any characters you'd never ever want to switch places with?

Monday, January 27, 2014

QR Codes Kill Kittens by Scott Stratten | Book Review

QR Codes Kill Kittens: How to Alienate Customers, Dishearten Employees, and Drive Your Business Into the Ground by Scott Stratten

QR Codes Kill Kittens is a really light, fast, fun read.  I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who has any part in social media at their workplace.

I rated this book 4 of 5 stars on Goodreads, but honestly, I wanted to give the book 3.5 stars. (Goodreads forces me to round.)  While the book is funny and does give you a few good pointers for "don't do's" it is by no means comprehensive.  And it doesn't give you the slightest clue how to fix anything if you've accidentally already "killed some kittens," so to speak.

The examples in the book are pretty great, and they range from hilarious (the aquarium shop that opened up NEXT DOOR to a seafood restaurant) to head-shakingly stupid (the QR code on a website?  how could anyone scan that?) to cringe-worthy (the company that actually tried to advertise on the back of the Hurricane Sandy tragedy).

It's really short, so it's definitely worth your time to pick up and have a giggle at.  Just don't look to it for real applicable advice.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Before I Die by Candy Chang | Book Review

Before I Die would be a fantastic coffee table book.  It would work great at a doctor's office or other waiting area.  It'd be great to peruse casually at a coffee shop.  Not so great for actual information or for a straight read-through.

Before I Die is a cool concept:  chalkboard walls set up in many cities the world over with the prompt "Before I die I want to_____."  Most seem to be in English, but there are many different languages represented also.  Almost all of them seem to be temporary.  They seem to be well-maintained by their creators, and people seem to "behave" rather well about not being cruel in their statements.

What I wished for was more pictures of the walls; more examples of submissions.  Some of the featured walls were in other languages, and Candy Chang only bothered to handpick 2-3 submissions to translate and print in her book.  I just wanted much more.

PS: One of the ones that made me chuckle was from a wall at the Burning Man festival:  "Before I die I want to find my sleeping bag."  Silly hippie...  And one that struck me at the heart was "Before I die I want to meet my grandchildren."  (Written by a young mom pushing a baby in a stroller.)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Would You Kill the Fat Man? by David Edmonds | Book Review

Would You Kill the Fat Man? The Trolley Problem and What Your Answer Tells Us About Right and Wrong by David Edmonds

Wow!  What a surprisingly good book!  Seriously:  this book is totally doable for anyone and everyone.  I've never read a scientific nonfiction book that was written in such a way as to be so accessible to anyone, even those of us (ahem) without advanced science degrees!

Here's the trolley problem that is at the core of this intriguing book:  You are standing on a footbridge over a railroad track.  There is a runaway trolley barreling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing next to a fat man.  If you push the fat man off the footbridge, his girth will stop the trolley, thus saving five lives, but killing the fat man.  If you do nothing, the trolley will hit the five people tied to the tracks, killing them all, but saving the fat man.  What do you do?

Well?  What would you do?  I read this book last week and I'm still not sure of what I would do in this situation.  And if you read the book, you'll be presented with many more variations on the scenario.  It's all so fascinating!  The author presents all the different scenarios with illustrated diagrams, so it's all clear and easy to understand your choices.  It's just hard to choose!

Speaking of choosing:  there's no "right" answer.  This is a book on philosophy.  There's no easy way to determine the correct action.  Isn't that just frustrating as all get-out?

David Edmonds does such a SUPERB job in his presentation of this part of philosophy.  Not only does he present the information in such a way as to be appealing and understandable to the general public, but he supplements it with the history behind the posing of the question and the modern scientific test being done on the subject.  (For instance, did you know that people are more like to be monetarily generous to a stranger after eating cheese?  Yup; you'll get to that near the end of the book.)

I highly recommend this book to everyone!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Kate Gosselin's Love is in the Mix by Kate Gosselin | Cookbook Review

(Doesn't she have an adorable family?  Cutie-patooties, all of 'em.)

Kate Gosselin's Love is in the Mix: Making Meals Into Memories with Family-Friendly Recipes, Tips, and Traditions by Kate Gosselin

My reaction to this cookbook was "meh" leaning toward "ok."  But I'm afraid I might be letting preconceptions mess with my final feelings.  :/  I try not to let that happen, but let's be honest:  it can happen to the best of us.  My preconception was that the meals in this cookbook would be super easy, and/or have lots of dishes that could be prepped the night before.  The woman has EIGHT KIDS.  You know she can't be spending tons of time in the kitchen!  But apparently she does.  I tried one of her "family favorites" and was in the kitchen for an hour.  That's not terrible, but it's not great either.  I tried the Creamy "Herbie" Chicken. Don't get me wrong:  it was definitely delicious!  And the recipe made enough to feed us for two nights, which I always appreciate.  So I guess a little extra time in the kitchen one night isn't too bad if I don't have to cook at all the next night.

Another perk plus to this particular cookbook is that Kate Gosselin went beyond the food prep to the food traditions in her family.  She wrote a nice intro to each recipe, and also had a chapter at the end of the book about different food-focused traditions.  For instance, she writes about doing indoor and outdoor picnics at home with her kids for a fun lunch.  My mom did that too!  Nothing brightens a rainy summer day like having an indoor picnic.  And another little "tradition" that I filed away was doing a special treat during family movie night.  She has little reusable buckets that look like popcorn bags.  You know, with the red & white stripes?  I bet you could find something similar at Target.  Anyway, when she fills them with popcorn she first puts a little sweet treat, like a few Twizzlers or gummy worms, at the bottom.  What a fun little surprise!  I'm totally doing that if I have the nieces or nephews for an evening.

So overall, not a bad book.  Just not what I was expecting, and that threw me for a loop.  I plan to try one or two more recipes, then back to the library it goes...

Friday, January 17, 2014

Did You Ever Wonder?

I was a HUGE fan of The Baby-Sitters Club book series when I was a kid.  I'm pretty sure I read all 100+ books and I had the Super Editions and the Holiday Editions and I watched the movies... obsessed.  I might have even read them more than once. 

Now that I'm adult, though, I would read book reviews that mentioned the books and I was often struck by that lack of an apostrophe in the "baby-sitters" part of the series title.  Anyone else?  It was just a twinge; just a hint that something may be off.  But I wasn't sure. 

One of the many book review blogs that I read near-daily because I think it's awesome is Bookshelves of Doom.  Ya'll need to go check it out:  great book reviews plus so much more.  The author is also on Etsy (yay fellow crafter!) and she tracks a lot of banned books happenings (yay Freedom to Read defender!)  This past week she had a lovely post about The Baby-Sitters and their lack of an apostrophe.  She found the explanation!  It's perfect.

Click through; you won't be disappointed!  (C'mon, you know you want to know about that pesky apostrophe!)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tarnish by Katherine Longshore | Book Review

Tarnish is a companion/sequel to Gilt, also by Katherine Longshore.  (And there's a third companion coming soon!)  I say "companion/sequel" because Tarnish follows a completely different set of characters, but the setting is the same, just slightly later chronologically.  In Tarnish the main character of Gilt is still present but not active.

Tarnish follows Anne Boleyn as she navigates the often-treacherous waters of the English royal court.  Before the book begins, she has already suffered shame in her blatant pursuit of the king, has been exiled, and then re-instated at the court at the beginning of the book.  Her sister, Mary, is the king's not-so-secret mistress and her brother, George is the court drunk.  Anne falls into an unlikely friendship with the court poet, Wyatt.  They make a bet:  will Wyatt be able to convince a member of the court to propose marriage to Anne, or will Anne end up falling into Wyatt's bed?  Thus follows the very tricky "dance" of life in the royal court...

I loved this book!  Lately I've been so enamored with books that take place at the royal court of some European country or another.  I love the dresses and the politics and the flirting and the danger and the intrigue.  This book had an added plus:  Anne Boleyn, clean.  Seriously.  Tarnish takes place during Anne's mid-teens, before she's become the walking talking scandal that history will remember her as.  For most of the book she's a virgin and proud of it!  Crazy.  So even though the book features Anne Boleyn as the main character, you could easily hand this book to a teen.  While this book is a wonderful next step from Gilt, it would be totally conceivable to read this as a standalone.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

W... W... W... Wednesdays

Another new-to-me meme that will become a regular here on my blog!  This one is sponsored by the blog Should Be Reading at  On W... W... W... Wednesdays book bloggers are asked just three simple questions:

What are you currently reading?

What did you just finish reading?

What will you read next?

I think this will be a nice recap and will give me one day a week with an easy peasy blog post.  :)

This week,
I'm Reading The Archived by Victoria Schwab

I Just Finished Reading Before I Die by Candy Chang

Next, I'm Going to Read The Art of Being Cool: The Pursuit of Black Masculinity by Dr. Theodore Ransaw

What about ya'll?  What are you up to, bibliographically speaking?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday

This is a neat weekly feature over at a blog I really enjoy, The Broke and the Bookish.  They read books similar to some that I've been reviewing, and they're fun and they write well.  Totally worth checking out. 

Top Ten 2014 Debuts I'm Excited For

Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor
I read the first two books in this trilogy and am SO EXCITED for the finale!

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
I read one really good review of this book and instantly wanted it.  I'm on the request list for it with my library.  It's based on Beauty and the Beast.

Untitled by Maggie Stiefvater
The third book in the Raven Cycle trilogy.  I haven't even read the second one yet but I loved loved loved the first one and I've caught the fervor fever surrounding the release of the third one.

Burn by Julianna Baggott
I have been oh-so-not-patiently for Burn since about a week after Fuse.  I was totally hooked by Pure and immediately requested Fuse from the library so I'd be one of the first to get it.  I devoured that over a weekend and immediately requested Burn and it's been KILLING ME to know what happens next!

The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson
Another one that I have been totally impatient about!  I loved loved loved The Name of the Star so I read The Madness Underneath the week it was released and now I've been DYING to know what happens next!

Landline by Rainbow Rowell
I LOVED Eleanor & Park and LOVED LOVED LOVED Fangirl... now she's coming out with a grown up book and I intend to read the crap out of it!

Infinite by Jodi Meadows
I only got into this trilogy a few weeks ago, so I haven't had to be patient between books.  :)  Total disclosure: I was invited to read these for work and so I did and then I saw the covers and well, that's all, folks!  Aren't they gorgeous covers?  And great stories.  I have an awesome job.

I can be excited about the debut of a movie, right?  Because I'm trembling like a wet chihuahua in anticipation of this one.

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
N & I are always excited for whatever Stephen King releases.  I know nothing about this one, but I know we'll own it.

Untitled by John Green
No title.  No release date.  Just a casual mention that he'll have a new book out in 2014.  The gif above sums up my feelings about this.  So. Excited.

What are you excited for in 2014?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Starters by Lissa Price | Book Review

(My one and only gripe about the book is this cover.  This is supposed to be Callie, who is 16 and has two same-colored eyes.  This chick has two different colored eyes and looks about 12.  Oh well, the book was great.  I can get over the cover.)

Starters takes place in an undated future time, after an event called The Spore Wars takes place.  During the Spore Wars, everyone between the ages of 20 and 60 was wiped out, killed, when the Pacific Rim countries bombed America with biological weapons.  Just as we do now with pneumonia vaccines, the youngest and oldest members of society were targeted first for vaccines.  Now there's only kids and the elderly.  And the elderly aren't all behaving very well....

All children & teens must either by "claimed" by an elderly relative and under their care, or must be in an institution.  They can't work or support themselves.  Callie is living a fugitive's life, squatting in abandoned buildings with her younger brother, Trevor, and her friend, Matt.  She and Matt can't work; they're underage.

Until Callie hears about Prime Destinations.  A place where she can allow her body to be "rented" by an "Ender" (senior citizen).  Her body; their brain.  And then a BIG payout.  But, of course, things never go as planned.  (That wouldn't make for an exciting book!)

I loved loved loved Starters and can't wait to read Enders!  I've read some really mixed reviews, but I'm going to shout out my love for Starters:  this was a great read.  Yeah, it's not really deep and it's not terribly long, but it was GOOD.  And it's one that you could give to a younger teen, because it's clean (of romance and kissing) or an older teen, because there's action and it poses all these great questions about society and how we view teens vs. how we view the elderly.  Another great thing about Starters:  no cliff-hanger ending.  You could read Starters and be done and be ok.  I, of course, am going to read Enders because I loved Starters so much.  :)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday | Day of Rest

Ya'll, I'm only going to post about this once, but from here on there will be no new entries on Sundays.  Take the day to spend with your family or friends, worship, and relax.

Here at my house, N & I go to church in the morning (and sometimes in the evenings too) and nap/read/watch documentaries or football... most importantly, it's --our day--  Time that we spend with each other.  Maybe a meal here and there with family... but more often than not it's just us.

There's no right or wrong way to do it.  You don't even have to include worship (although I highly recommend it).  But do your mind and relationships a favor and take a day!

After a busy week of work, and a busy Saturday with chores and errands, who wouldn't look forward to counting on a relaxing day!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Heroes in the Night: Inside the Real Life Superhero Movement by Tea Krulos | Book Review

Heroes in the Night is about the Real Life Superhero (RLSH) movement.  The author has a blog by the same name, where he keeps up with the activities of RLSH, especially the few in his hometown of Milwaukee, WI.  The RLSH movement is mostly what you'd expect:  older teens and adults who create superhero personas and outfits and spend their nights roaming city streets, looking to aid anyone in distress.  This could involve assisting someone who's had a few too many into a cab for a safe journey home or actually helping break up fistfights.  I was relieved to find out that most RLSH carry no weapons and have no hesitation in calling 911 for professional back-up.

I also found it really interesting to hear about all the community service that most of the RLSH do; most are involved in raising money and awareness for children's or homeless or battered women's charities.  Isn't that the perfect pairing?

This book, however, failed to grab me for two reasons:  first, I didn't get the layout of the chapters.  The book really seemed to jump rather quickly from topic to topic.  It wasn't organized by geographic location, activity (vigilantism vs. charitable work), or time.  There were very few "characters" who persisted throughout the book, and they weren't enough to carry it.  I think this book would've benefited from having at least one unifying subject.  Or having been presented in chronological order?  I don't know.  I felt lost.

Second, I couldn't get past the idea that these were ADULTS, mostly men, running around major American cities late at night in full superhero costumes, including full-face masks.  Personally, I'd be scared witless if a large man in full body armor or a trench coat (the two most popular outfits, according to this book) and a ski mask/full face mask/head stocking approached me.  It's no wonder some of these guys have frequent run-ins with cops!  Am I the only one?  I can't be the only one.  These aren't outfits like in the movies; these are definitely homemade.  I'd be terrified.

Finally, I wish there were more pictures.  For such a "colorful" (literally and metaphorically) cast of people I'd have loved to see this book presented with a lot more full-color pictures.  Most of the pictures were tiny (about 2"x2") and black-and-white; there were only a few pages of full-color photos in the centerfold.  Heck, it might've worked for the author to present his information in graphic novel format!

(Psst... Want to see one of these guys?  Here you go:  this is Geist, a Real Life Superhero.)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Miss Kay's Duck Commander Kitchen | Cookbook Review

My Thoughts

Loved it--the title says it all.  "Faith, Family, and Food--Bringing Our Home to Your Table."  There are 2-3 page introductions of each chapter, telling a fun anecdote or two about family members and also sharing their family's strength and faith.  Then, each recipe page also has a short paragraph by a family member, telling about the dish and why it's special to them, and/or giving hints, tips, and tricks for success in making it.  Not only does each recipe page list the ingredients and steps to cooking it, they also list the materials needed.  So I could see at a glance if a recipe was going to involve a cast-iron skillet (I don't have one).  I appreciated that.

I went right ahead and tried one of the recipes:  Pecan Chicken.  It got an enthusiastic double thumbs up from both myself and N, and has been added to our repertoire.  It's chicken sliced into thin strips, browned lightly, then put in a casserole dish and covered with a butter-pecan-maple syrup sauce and baked further.  Mmm... all that buttery pecan goodness... I'll be trying more recipes from this cookbook!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

45 Pounds by K.A. Barson | Book Review

My Thoughts

Ann is 16 and she has a LOT going on.  She's obese, but with a "perfect" size-6 mother.  Her parents are divorced, and both remarried.  Her mom is hard to live with because she's perfect and always exercises and never overeats; her step-dad is bit laisse-faire; the preschool twin step-siblings take a lot of their time & energy.  Her dad is never around; he's much more involved with his new wife and his two step-kids and his infant son.  Poor Ann is kind of left to her own devices.  (Personally, I was a little worried at the beginning of the book that there was too much going on.)

But here's where the book grabbed me and didn't let go:  Ann is fierce!  She is not going to wallow in self-pity.  She is not going to fail.  She is nothing short of awesome.

Ann is so real as a character.  Yes, she gets upset while trying to bathing suit shop with her mom.  But she doesn't let that completely stop her.  No.  She decides to do something about it and join a weight-loss program.  Her "best friend" Cassie has kind of fallen off the radar lately.  Does Ann wallow?  No.  She moves on.  I just love how she's so self-assured.  Such as when she applies for a job at a clothing store, even though she's too large to fit into their designer clothes.  And when she goes to two separate pool parties, even though she knows she's not rocking a magazine-ready bikini bod.

Just a small sort-of random bit:  I loved when Ann throws away the weight loss pill after they make her shaky.  Thank you, thank you, thank you K.A. Barson for making it a point for your character to try weight loss without scary pills!

There is so so so much more to this book than I'd ever be able to cover in a review!  It brings eating disorders of both types into the conversation, which is great; and it does it without being preachy!  And the ending is nice, but not unrealistic.  Not every problem is completely wrapped up in a bow, but life is slightly better.  I read this nearly in one sitting and will definitely be recommending it.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday

Hey ya'll: trying something new again today.  This being a very new blog overall, I get to experiment.  This is a neat weekly feature over at a blog I really enjoy, The Broke and the Bookish.  They read some books similar to some that I've been reviewing, and they're fun and they write well.  Totally worth checking out.  

The Top Ten Tuesday theme for today is: Top Ten Goals/Resolutions for 2014.

On a side note, there's a white board in my work break room where people pose questions and anyone can answer.  Right now it's "What is your resolution for 2014?"  Before that it was "What do you want for Christmas?"  Always something light and fun.  Right now the only answer on the board is "My progress isn't determined by the Gregorian calendar.  Always upward; always onward."  Love it!

N and I "don't set resolutions."  

Yeah.... that's what N says, that "we don't set resolutions.  It just sets you up for failure."  He says it all straight-faced.  And Kelso above?  That's me, on the inside.  Because we totally have resolutions!  He just maybe doesn't know.  :)

Marie's Top Ten Resolutions for 2014

Every year, I say that I'd like to meet or beat last year's reading tally!  Last year I read 265 books.  That's going to be a hard goal to meet or beat!

Write reviews of at least 65% of the books I read.  From reading other book review blogs, this seems to be at the low end of reasonable expectation.

Re-read the Anne of Green Gables books.  I'd love, love, love to re-read all 7 (? 8?) books, but I guess I could settle for just re-reading the first three.  But it's been TOO LONG since I last read them!  Oooh!  Idea for a blog feature:  I could get my mom to re-read them too and we can compare/contrast.

Exercise/work out at least 3x per week, but aim for 4x-5x.  Ya'll, I'm 28.  I've only got two more years to develop the health habits that I'll carry for the rest of my life!
(See here.)

N and I have GOT to start eating better, ya'll!  It's sad.  We're grown up people and we will still pig out on some Wendy's every two weeks or so.  And the dinners I cook in between are often casseroles or have cheese or noodles.... we need more greens!  Less butter!  And I've got to eat more and get better.

I'm always striving to be a better, more caring person.  A more Biblical wife.  A more involved sister, sister-in-law, daughter, daughter-in-law, aunt.  A better coworker.  I don't have anything specific, but I'm always striving.

Take a vacation.  This may not sound like something to "work on" for most of ya'll... unless you've met N.  He's much, much, much more into "staycations" while I'm into going.  We had such a blast in AZ last year that I want to make it a yearly goal to GO AWAY.

Increase church attendance.  Sunday School attendance is pretty spotty, even when I'm not working, and night service attendance... that doesn't really happen.  I need to go to the night service on Sundays that I work (meaning I have to miss Sunday School & the morning service), and I need to go to Sunday School every Sunday that I don't work.  I have no excuses.

The well is running dry on coming up with two more resolutions... Ok, I will get specific on bettering myself: no more active or passive participation in gossip of any sort.  That's not cool, and it's started to scare me!  Like, if I listen to so-and-so talk about such-a-person, what might they be saying about me when I'm not around?!  In 2014 I'll be uplifting in my speech.

Final resolution, because I'm plum out of ideas:  worry less.  NO CLUE how to go about doing that.  :P

So those are my resolutions, bookish and personal, for 2014.  I'll see if I can remember to do a check-back mid-year or at end-of-year.  What are your resolutions, bookish or otherwise?  Leave it in the comments!  

Monday, January 6, 2014

Awakened by PC & Kristin Cast | Audiobook Review

My Thoughts

This is my first audiobook review, but it won't be my last.  One of my goals for 2014 is to review at least 65% of the books I read, so there'll be some audiobooks in there.  My commute is about half an hour on a really good day; it can be upwards of 45-60 minutes during typical rush hours.  I log a lot of audiobook hours in traffic!

Audiobook reviews are really hard for me.  I so often feel that my opinion of an audiobook gets really heavily flavored by what's going on while I'm listening to it.  For instance, in 2011 I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer via audiobook.... while painting my kitchen.  Ya'll, I detest painting rooms.  Especially kitchens!  I was huffing and puffing (inhaling paint fumes, of course) moving a very heavy stove and refrigerator and taping and re-taping and priming painting and painting a second layer and putting allllll the really heavy appliances back into place while I was listening to the book.  I was just generally irritable because I'm one of those people who really prefers to have their house in nice, clean order at all times and my kitchen was a wreck for three days.... And I gave the book a double thumbs down.  I know!!  I'm a horrible horrible horrible person.  I re-read the book in physical book form two years later and loved it.  It's a great work of literature.  I'm so sorry Ms. Barrows and Ms. Shaffer!!!  

All that to say that you really probably shouldn't completely rely on my audiobook reviews.  You might have a totally different experience.  But here we go anyway... 

Awakened is book 8 of the House of Night series.  I've been binge-listening to these back to back in my car, so I'm a little fuzzy sometimes on where one left off and the next began plot-wise.  This is the review I posted to Goodreads, and it applies to the series as a whole:

"This series is like junk food.  Like Lucky Charms cereal for the mind.  So unhealthy.  So saccharine.  A random mixed bag of characters.  Some of the books leave you feeling slightly sick... definitely regretful.  But I keep going back to the drama circus.  Why?  No clue.  On to Destined..."

So rest assured, good reader:  I won't be posting reviews of each of the twelve or so books in this series!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sunday Dinners by Diane Cowen | Cookbook Review

Sunday Dinners by Diane Cowen

My Thoughts

This cookbook started strong and then went downhill.  Maybe I just got bored with it after the sixth pastoral family or so.  But I was really pretty done reading about halfway through the book.

The concept of the cookbook intrigued me enough to request it from the library, and I am glad I followed through on reading through it.  Diane Cowen interviewed many pastoral couples from megachurches across the US about their food-centered family memories and traditions, and then included about a half-dozen recipes from each family.

First, all of the pastors in the book were heads of megachurches.  Celebrepastors, if you will.  So I was a bit turned off by that.  There were a few included in the book whose ideologies N & I disagree with.  So there's that.  I'd have liked to see some more conservative or less-known pastors included.  Did anyone think to contact Billy Graham?

Second, nearly all the pastors talked in the interview about eating healthy... then the recipes that they gave for inclusion in the cookbook were sweets and rich sides and fried foods.  Say what?

But I did copy a few recipes to try, so that says something.  I've already tried the Southern Fried Apples from the Bishop T.D. Jakes family and they are GOOD.  I've already made them twice!  They're not healthy, but they're a great pancake topper!  (The apples aren't actually rolled in flour and fried; they're cooked in a pan with melted butter and cinnamon.  Mmm.)

So three of five stars for this one.  It might resonate more with someone who's a fan of any of the megapastors included.