Monday, October 31, 2011

Masques by Patricia Briggs

I actually picked up Masques for Tai. He's almost caught up in a couple of serial books he reads and I thought Briggs' early fantasy might be something he'd enjoy. After he read it he gave it to me and said he thought I might enjoy it more than he did. And he was right. I really enjoyed Masques.
Now this is the first book Briggs' wrote. The version I got from the library was a a re-release and had been "tidied up". Briggs is clear Masques was rough even in its first published form so if you are a fan of her later books, you might be surprised by how unpolished Masques is. But despite all that I was drawn into Aralorn's world quickly and adored my time there.
Aralorn is our heroine. We meet her on a mercenary mission. On that mission she finds an injured wolf. Something draws her to the wolf so she rescues it and nurses him back to health. After that Wolf becomes her sometimes companion. Frequently Wolf leaves Aralorn for reasons she doesn't know but he always comes back. I loved the interactions between Wolf and Aralorn. Wolf is very mysterious. Aralorn's got her own secrets so maybe it's ok for everyone to just keep them for now.
Mages, dragons, and shapeshifters, oh my! I loved the fantasy aspect of Masques. I especially loved the difference between green magic (something that you are born with that comes from the earth) and human magic (something that you learn and is limited). There are a lot of characters and not all of them are fleshed out. I'm glad this is the beginning of a series. There's a lot to work with.
Overall, I enjoyed Masques. I was able to get past the rough writing and lengthy descriptions quickly. I'm looking forward to its sequel, Wolfbane. Others who shared their thoughts on Masques: Dear Author, Book Addicts, and The Speed of Write.

Friday, October 28, 2011


I signed up for mint last month. I wasn't sure if I was going to really use it but I freaking love it. I really feel like I'm managing our money so much better now. I even use the app for my phone too. 

I picked up this yummy drink on a lark. Tai and I drank the whole bottle in one weekend so I went out and bought 10 more bottles. So delicious.


I heard about TJ's pumpkin ice cream and picked up a pint. Oh so good. It's like pumpkin pie without the crust.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

They Fought Like Demons by DeAnne Blanton and Lauren M Cook

I put They Fought Like Demons on my tbr list after reading about women soldiers in The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest. Since it dovetailed nicely with the War Through The Generations challenge I decided to read it now. 
Blanton and Cook obviously put a lot of research into this book and attempted to show the reader how women got into the armies, fought and avoided or didn't avoid detection. But rather than a fluid story it was fragmented and repetitive. Each chapter is about a different aspect of the woman's life-why she joined the army, how soldiers were injured, life after the war. It was difficult for me to follow at times and the information was very dry. Several times I almost gave up. But I was hoping all this dry knowledge would be woven into a story. Sadly it never happened. Blanton and Cook refrained from too much conjecture, leaving a lot of holes that the facts didn't cover. I would have preferred each chapter talk about one woman from the beginning of her story to the end. They Fought Like Demons was too choppy for my taste. 
I would only recommend They Fought Like Demons if you need more information about a certain aspect of women soldiers lives. I wouldn't recommend reading the book straight through like I did. Others who shared their thoughts on They Fought Like Demons: Principles of Theology, Cootiehog, and Random Thoughts on History.
This was my seventh read for The War Through The Generations Challenge.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Library Loot

 Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!
I'm reading Masques right now and Wolfbane is the sequel. 
I have this one on my Original TBR challenge. I've been wanting to read this one for quite a while.
What did you get this week?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Slow Cooker Tuesday-Steak in Mushroom Sauce with Fauxtatoes

So I've decided to post my slow cooker recipes on Tuesdays, hence the name Slow Cooker Tuesday. I'm a genius.
I had a flank steak I needed to cook so I poked around the interwebs to find this recipe: Flank Steak in Mushroom Sauce. It was a winner cause I had all the ingredients at home and I didn't have to sear the meat before tossing it the crockpot. But I discovered that I had NY Steaks that needed to be used first and the flank steak could wait for another meal. So I substituted NY steaks for the flank. I had the steak in the slow cooker for about 12 hours and it was perfect. I don't think you'd lose much if you only had 8-10 hours though.
And what the heck are fauxtatoes? Well, Tai and I are playing around with a low carb diet (no white bread, pasta or potatoes). While reading a low carb cookbook, I came across the fauxtato recipe, basically mashed cauliflower with butter made to resemble mashed potatoes. See?
Ok this whole meal was a winner. The meal was melt in your mouth yummy. The fauxtatoes were a real hit. I can't wait to make them again.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Address Unknown by Katherine Kressmann Taylor

I added Address Unknown to my tbr list after reading about it on Lisa's blog. I can't believe I'd never heard of this short bestselling story about two men at the start of World War 2.
This is a short book, 64 pages, but not one that will soon leave you. The story is told through letters between two friends, Max and Martin. Martin has recently returned home to Germany after starting a successful business in America with Max. They have a gallery. Martin has gotten wealthy and returned back to Germany. Martin is proud of his accomplishments and sad at the beginning about the poverty he sees in Germany. But quickly the letters turn to Hitler, who Martin describes as a "Glorious Leader". The friends find themselves at odds as Martin becomes a Hitler devotee and Max learns more about the atrocities being committed to his people, the Jews, in his native county.
The letter format really works here. The writing is exquisite. Each letter is short, only a page or two but tells so much. The tone of the letters and the language make this tiny book seem so much bigger.
Highly recommended. It's such a short book. I read it in less than an hour. But it will give you so much to think about. This would be an excellent book club choice. Others who shared their thoughts on Address Unknown: Happily Ever After...In Seattle, Yorkshire Soul, and Books and Cooks.
This was my eighth read for the Original TBR Challenge.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Chunky Peanut Butter Cookies

When I spotted this peanut butter cookie recipe in Real Simple, I knew I had to make it. While chocolate chip cookies are my favorite, peanut butter is a close second. This recipe was totally simple and I loved the added crunch.
They were a big hit with the boys. I would definitely make these again.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gearing Up For The Readathon

Sadly I won't be able to be a reader for the readathon. I have a work event most of Saturday, so I signed up to be a cheerleader later in the evening.
I was a reader in April for the last Readathon and the cheerleaders really helped me keep going. It's great to have people stop by and cheer you on. Especially late at night. Plus it's a great way to meet other bloggers.
If you have time to read I'd really recommend it but if you can't, try being a cheerleader. Sign up here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Library Loot

 Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!
I've seen this on so many blogs. When I saw it on the library shelf I was powerless to resist picking it up!
I've been hearing about this since it came out. Again I spotted it on the library shelf and had to grab it. 
It's David Sedaris. Of course I picked it up off the shelf!
This one is for my TBR challenge. If I would have known how short it was I don't think I have waited so long to pick this one up.
What did you get this week?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

The other morning I was wanting to make something bready. I started digging around in my pantry for a leftover can of pumpkin or something. No pumpkin just canned pineapple. Hm, what can I make with canned pineapple? I decided to make Pineapple Upside Down Cake but I'd seen a recipe using my crockpot. So I used this recipe and got this:
I used cubed pineapple cause that's what I had. The recipe was so easy. It doesn't say what quart size to use but I used a 4 quart and that was plenty. A two quart would have plenty. I would make this one again. 
Have you ever made a cake or pie in your crockpot?

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Guide To Elegance by Genevieve Dariaux

I added A Guide To Elegance after reading Elegance last year. I assumed it would be a bit dated. The original book was published in 1964 but the copy I read was "updated" in 2003. After reading this bit:
When comfort becomes an end in itself, it is the Public Enemy Number One of elegance. page 32
I like to be comfortable. I knew then that Madame Dariaux and I were not going to get along. Now she doesn't recommend being uncomfortable but in making an effort to be comfortable, elegance isn't going to follow. This book certainly didn't get me to change my comfortable ways. I did appreciate some of the tips about choosing coats and formal wear. I laughed at the parts about wearing gloves and stockings. I don't know anyone who wears either on a regular basis.
Overall it was an interesting fast read. It would be a great resource if you want to dress more elegantly and have the time and money to spend on quality clothes. Others who shared their thoughts on Elegance: The Vintage Traveler, Penny Farthing, and A Striped Armchair.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Jeff got us Season one Boardwalk Empire and it took us about a week to watch the whole season. I didn't think I would like it. In fact I watched the first half of the season because Tai was so into it. But I finally got into and really enjoyed. Can't wait to get our hands on Season two. Sucks that we don't have HBO!

I started drinking coconut water this summer. Vita Coco is by far my favorite. I have one a day and feel so much better because of it. Sometimes I have trouble with hydration. I can forget to drink enough water especially if I don't feel well so this takes of that issue. Plus the potassium really helps me avoid charlie horses.

Pic stolen from here.
I love this Pub Cheese from Trader Joe's. It's delicious. I love it on crackers for an easy snack.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Library Loot

 Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!
This is the second graphic novel for Circus of The Damned. I've been waiting for months for this one from the library. I've been enjoying Anita Blake in graphic novel format.
After seeing Mark Henry at NW Bookfest, I immediately placed the first in his series on my library queue. I'm looking forward to this one.
This one is on my Fill In The Gaps list. Isn't October the perfect time to read it?
When I saw this on The Written World and immediately put it on my queue. I'm looking forward to this one.
What did you get this week?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chicken in a Crockpot times two!

I was going to post 3 chicken crockpot recipes but we ate the third one without taking an pictures. Oh well!
In an effort to have healthy meals and less stress when I come home from the gym, I've hauled out the crockpot. I made two real winners last week that I wanted to share.
First chicken cacciatore. I started with this recipe, but got lazy. Real lazy. I didn't feel like opening cans of tomato sauce at 6am so I used 2 jars of spaghetti sauce. Nine hours later, I got this:
So here's my tweaked recipe:

4 boneless chicken breasts
1/2 onion, diced
6 oz can of sliced mushrooms
1 bell pepper, diced
2 jars of spaghetti sauce

Put onion at the bottom of the pot. Add chicken, mushrooms and bell pepper. Pour spaghetti sauce over the top. Cook on low for 7-9 hours. Serve over pasta.

The whole house smelled so good. I'll definitely make this one again.

The next recipe comes courtesy of Pinterest. Chicken and dumplings in the crockpot. I wouldn't make this on a weekday since it doesn't take more than 5 hours to cook for the chicken plus another hour for the dumplings. The food smelled so good. After work, I don't think I could wait to make the dumplings!
I followed this recipe pretty closely. And got this:
So good. The chicken was so tender and sauce was delicious. This recipe is a keeper!
Made anything good in your crockpot lately?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Underdogs by Markus Zusak

Underdogs is the complete trilogy of the Wolfe Brothers by Markus Zusak. I'm glad I read them in successive order. While reading The Underdog, I thought eh, the writings good but the story is so so. I started to enjoy it more during Fighting Ruben Wolfe, but fell in love with Cameron in Getting The Girl. I actually teared up at the end of Getting The Girl which is unusual for me. I don't get weepy while reading many books.
The Underdog is the story of Cameron and Ruben Wolfe. Cameron is the youngest brother. Ruben is his older brother. Steven is the oldest brother. Sarah is their only sister. The Wolfe family is lower middle class. Their mom tries to make them a decent meal each night but sometimes they have mushrooms as meat. Their dad is a plumber. I loved the language that Cam and Ruben used. It was hard for me to understand their Australian teen slang. A lot of words were similar to British slang so it was ok. In The Underdog you get to know Cam and Ruben and how they feel about their lives. They spend their time planning heists (and not carrying them out), playing One Punch (they share one set of boxing gloves), and walking their neighbors dog, Miffy.
In Fighting Ruben Wolfe, Cam and Ruben are starting to grow up. Cam's relationship with his family starts to change. His relationship with Ruben starts change too. Zusak's writing really pulls you in and you  makes you care about this struggling family, a family of fighters. I really started to fall in love with the whole family but Cameron especially.
Getting The Girl was the best one. Here everything comes to a head. Cam has to make choices and start to grow up. I cannot describe how much I loved how things wrapped up for Cam and Ruben. I was intensely proud of these characters. I don't really say that about a lot of characters but I was rooting for each of the Wolfes. I didn't want them to get everything their little heart's desired but I wanted them to have their own happy endings. 
I cannot express how much I loved this trilogy. While it's nothing like The Book Thief, the writing is amazing. The character development over the trilogy is some of the best I've read. Others who shared their thoughts on Underdogs: It's All About Books, Guys Lit Wire, and Read Love.
This is my twenty-sixth read for the YA Reading Challenge.
Getting The Girl was my seventh read for the Original TBR List.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Library Loot

 Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!
Since I read and enjoyed both Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist and Will Grayson, Will Grayson, I decided to pick up The Lover's Dictionary, another Levithan book. This is the first time I'll read one of his solo works.
I recently read Tales of the Otherworld, Armstrong's other short story collection, and looking forward to reading more. I've been loving the series and will read anything with those characters. 
Since I saw Mark Teppo at the NW Bookfest over the weekend, I wanted to read his books. This is the first in the Codex of Souls. 
This is on my Fill In The Gaps list. I've heard mixed reviews so I'm not sure how this one will go.
I saw this one at the weekend at the NW Bookfest and immediately put it on my queue. I think I'll like this one.
What did you get this week?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

NW BookFest

When I first heard about NW Book Fest I was pretty interested. But when I saw Cherie Priest was going to be there I knew I was going. I've been wanting to go to more book events so this was the prefect opportunity.
Cherie Priest was part of Steampunk/Urban Fantasy panel that included Kat Richardson, Mark Henry, and Mark Teppo.
Here's my terrible photo of the panel.
It was interesting to hear why they write and where they thought Steampunk and Urban Fantasy was going. I've read most of Priest's books and only one of Richardson's. I've never read any of Henry or Teppo's books but I will now. The panel was very funny and I quite enjoyed hearing them talk.
Have you read any of Mark Henry's or Mark Teppo's books?

Monday, October 3, 2011

September Book Tally

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Ape House by Sara Gruen
Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
Kickboxing Geishas by Veronica Chambers
The School of Beauty and Charm by Melanie Sumner
Plus by Veronica Chambers
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine Pascal
The Hours by Michael Cunningham

This was the month of terrible books. Yeah, I liked most of what I read this month but I didn't like Sweet Valley Confidential, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and The School of Beauty and Charm. I don't think I've ever read so many books I didn't like in one month! Still barreling toward 100! I should complete it next month.

The Stats:
Fill In The Gaps Challenge: YTD: 9 (The Hours)
War Through The Generations:YTD: 6 (Nothing this month)-COMPLETE
YA Reading Challenge: YTD: 25 (Plus)-COMPLETE
The Original TBR Challenge: YTD: 6 (Jane Eyre)
Support Your Local Library Challenge: YTD: 74-COMPLETE
100+ Reading Challenge: YTD: 93