Tuesday, April 30, 2013

White Jacket Required by Jenna Weber

This is such a hard review for me to write. I picked up White Jacket Required because I enjoy Jenna's blog, Eat, Live, Run. But I just wasn't a fan of White Jacket Required.
After Jenna graduates from college, she struggles to find a job. After a conversation with her mother, Jenna decides to enroll in culinary school. But culinary school isn't something she enjoys so she switches to the baking program. In the baking program, Jenna hits her stride and decides to find something allowing her to combine her love of food and writing.
One of the reasons I read Eat, Live, Run is because Jenna is so laid back and she loves to share her enthusiasm for food. I found none of that Jenna in White Jacket Required. I found Jenna to be judge-y.  She talks about how she enjoys real food, not junk food. She seemed disdainful to her peers with eating disorders and weight problems. I had a hard time reading White Jacket Required because I didn't connect with Jenna at all. Worse, I felt bad for disliking her when the tragic accident occurs. I didn't feel like I could write a review where I said I didn't like her book. But there I said it.
There are recipes at the end of each chapter and I look forward to making her Lemon Brown Sugar Chicken and the Linguine with Escarole and Brie. I'll continue to read her blog since I've enjoyed it. But I no longer feel that connect to her that I used to feel. Others who shared their thoughts on White Jacket Required: Foodigen, The Barefoot Ballerina, Two Eat Philly, and Bake at 350º.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Proposal by Mary Balogh

I heard about The Proposal from Shelf Talk. I figured I would enjoy The Proposal since it was set in England and it featured an opposites attract story line. The Proposal wasn't bad but nothing to remember.
Gwen's been widowed these past seven years. She's perfectly content on her own. She travels to see a friend, a recent widow. While visiting said friend, Gwen stumbles, twisting her ankle. Hugo happens to be near by and assists Gwen to the home of his friends. Gwen is a Lady. Hugo is an ex-military officer who has been given a title. Hugo feels it's his duty to marry and assist his younger half-sister in finding a place in society. Despite the fact that both Hugo and Gwen know that a relationship between them would never last, they find themselves drawn to each other.
Both Gwen and Hugo have baggage. Like whole luggage carts of baggage. And they both think this baggage should keep them from ever being with someone. Slowly they put down and examine their baggage and determine that not all of it is worth keeping. I liked that they both became safe places for each other and that Hugo's friends helped both of see that they could find a future together.
The story was engaging. I did enjoy The Proposal but there was nothing new. It's been a few days since I finished it and I'm having trouble remembering some of the details.  It would be a great vacation read. A lovely romance. Others who shared their thoughts on The Proposal: Book City Girl, A Girl, Books, and Other Stuff, and Smexy Books.
This was my sixth read for the Historical Reading Challenge.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Readathon-End Of The Event Meme

I fell asleep around midnight. I got about 5 solid hours of reading in after dinner. I finished 2 books and got more than half in Outlander. Not bad.

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
Hour 20. I was struggling to stay awake. I wanted to make it to a certain point in Outlander. I couldn't read 30 more pages so I called it quits at midnight.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
Graphic Novels. Have a few in your pile to give yourself a break from longer novels.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
No. I think the Readathon is a fantastic event. The volunteers do an amazing job.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
For me, going with the flow. I've noticed that either I go like gang busters in the morning and tap out around dinner time or I don't do much til later in the day and read late into the night. Both are fine and I shouldn't beat myself up for getting distracted.

5. How many books did you read?
Finished 2 and read about half of one.

6. What were the names of the books you read?
Finished Scott Pilgrim vs The Universe and Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour. Still reading Outlander.

7. Which book did you enjoy most?
All of them. I'm glad to have finished the Scott Pilgrim series. It's one I'd wanted to read for a long time.

8. Which did you enjoy least?
Enjoyed them all.

9. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
Very likely. I love the Readathon and can't wait to participate again in October.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Readathon-Evening Post

It's about 8pm here. I took a break from Outlander and finished the Scott Pilgrim series. I read books 5 and 6. I'm glad to have finished something.

I'm about 200 pages in Outlander and I am enjoying it. I'm going to read that for the rest of the night.

Hopefully, I'll post again before I crash for the night.

How is your readathon going?

Readathon-Midday Break

It's about 3pm here and I've probably read for 2 hours. I had an errand to run in the morning. When I got home, I made breakfast, got a loaf of bread going, and made some guacamole. Then I read for a hour before starting lunch. Following lunch I read for another hour while doing some laundry. Dad and I need to trek to the grocery store and library now. I'm hoping to get a few more hours of reading in before crashing tonight.

I'm still reading Outlander. I think reading one book for the duration of the Readathon was a bad idea. I like finishing books and I will not be finishing Outlander today. I might read Scott Pilgrim vs The Universe tonight.

How's everyone else doing?

Readathon-The Start

My official start time is 5am. Ha! I'll still be sound asleep at that time. I'll probably start closer to 10am. Dad and I need to run a couple of errands first before the reading starts.

To the meme...
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
A suburb of Seattle, WA

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

I've only got one book in my stack, Outlander by Diana Gibaldon. I have other books in case I need a break from Outlander but I hope to make a good dent in Outlander today.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Guacamole! I haven't had any in a while it sounds so good right now.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

My name's Linda. I love to cook and read. Sometimes at the same time. I love movies. My husband got me tickets to a premiere of Much Ado About Nothing in May. I'm very excited about it since Joss Wheadon and Nathan Fillion will be there too. 

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

This is my sixth readathon. I planned out the food a little better this time. Plus I've got some ideas for breaks if I need them. I'm looking forward to getting lost in Outlander and losing myself in the story.

I'll be posting updates throughout the day as well as chatting on Twitter (@sillylittle). Yay Readathon!!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

I picked up Leviathan because it's the first book in the Leviathan series and I've always wanted to read it. I knew going in that Leviathan was alternate history around the time of the beginning of World War I but little else. Since it was very steampunky, I enjoyed it.
The story starts off with Alek, who is supposed to be sleeping but instead holding a mock battle with his army figurines. Alek is interrupted by his fencing coach and his father's mechanik who whisk Alek off for night time practice on his walker, a 35 ton metal machine. But in reality, Alek's life is about be changed forever.
Meantime, Deryn is attempting to join the Air Service. But since Deryn is female and women are not allow to join the Air Service, Deryn dresses up as boy and becomes Dylan. Deryn loves to fly and is excited to be joining the Air Service. In fact Deryn has an unusual aptitude for handling the "beasties". Beasties are the animal-machine hybrids. The Darwinist mix animals like whales and jellyfish with machines to make airships. It's so odd but totally cool at the same time.
After reading this book, I kept saying "barking spiders", Deryn's favorite exclamation. It reminded me of Little Orphan Annie's "leaping lizards". And I did add barking to a lot of my sentences such as "These kale chips are barking delicious!" I got some odd looks.
I enjoyed Leviathan. I did realize how little I know about World War I despite reading a book last year about the war. Luckily, Westerfeld does put a little synopsis in at the end to help us history challenged folks. Plus he also explains what he changed and what remained the same. I'll be continuing this series. I can't wait to see what happens to Alek and Deryn. Others who shared their thoughts on Leviathan: The Paper Critic, Peppy Reads, and I'd So Rather Be Reading.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

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 spotted The Outlaws of Sherwood while browsing Goodreads one day. I like the other McKinley books I've read so I'm looking forward to this one.
I'm starting a culinary herb garden. I'm not an experienced gardener so I'm expecting to fail a lot. But I'm looking forward to trying and hope Herb Gardening From The Ground up will give me some pointers. 
After enjoying Forever and A Day, I went ahead and requested the second in the series.

What did you get this week?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Forever And A Day by Delilah Marvelle

Let me just say Forever And A Day is not typical of the books I read. This was straight up romance. Historical romance but romance nonetheless. But I enjoyed it. It was a great read, kept me entertained. I'll be reading this series.
While walking home one day, Georgia catches the eye of a handsome stranger. It's obvious this man is wealthy, not like Georgia who works hard at doing other people's laundry to pay her rent. Georgia is flattered when this man pursues her but she knows nothing more than a tumble in bed will come of it. She turns this handsome man down. But then her purse is stolen, he attempts to retrieve it and get hit by a trolley. If there was one thing I didn't like about this book, it was the insta-love. She saw him, he saw her, bam. After he gets hit by the trolley, Georgia stays with him, making sure he gets medical attention.  It's 1830. Georgia clearly works for a living, just scraping by, and she has time and money to trek to the hospital everyday? I had to suspend a lot of reality. But it was worth it IMHO.
Ok, Roderick, the guy who got hit with the trolley. Hello, hot! I can't say a whole lot about him without giving tons of spoilers. But I can see why folks read romance. Hot guy who's caring and helpful. He kept me turing the pages. Plus the sexy sexy times didn't hurt.
While it was historical fiction, the history really didn't grab me. It didn't diminish my enjoyment but I had to remind myself over and over again this was taking place in the 1800's.
Overall I really enjoyed Forever And A Day. It was fun and engaging. I'll be continuing this series! Others who shared their thoughts on Forever and A Day: The Rookie Romance Blog, Book Savvy Babes, and Fall In Love With Books.
This is my fifth read for the Historical Reading Challenge.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Weekend Cooking: Linda's Stuffed Flank Steak

There are probably thousands of stuffed flank recipes. But I've come up with 2 combos that we really enjoy. First I love this recipe. It's completely easy, very little prep time, and once it's in the oven, you can do something else til it's ready!
I've made it two different ways:
 With artichoke hearts.
With roasted red peppers.
Everything else is the same except in one I used peppers and the other I used artichoke hearts.

Linda's Stuffed Flank Steak

1 1/2 lb flank steak (flap steak would also work)
2 tbs minced garlic or garlic paste
1/2 cup feta cheese
1 cup  baby spinach or 2 handfuls
1/4 cup diced marinated artichoke hearts OR 6 sliced roasted red peppers
1/4  cup of the marinade from either the artichokes or the peppers
salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 400º. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Lay flank steak on the baking sheet. Salt and pepper both sides. My flank steaks come sort of rolled in the package. I lay the less curled side down. Since the meat is already starting to roll, it seems easier to work with it like that.
Spread garlic. I like to use Gourmet Garden's Chunky Garlic Paste. Makes my life easier. Then layer feta cheese. Next a layer of the spinach, then either the diced artichoke hearts or the roasted red peppers. Roll up meat and secure with toothpicks.
Some of the filling will fall out. Stuff it back in or pile it on top like the first photo. Cover the meat loosely with foil and bake for 45-65 minutes. The time will depend on the thickness of the meat and the doneness you prefer.
I serve it with lemon quinoa (prepare quinoa as package directs, before serving add 2 tbs of lemon zest and the juice of half a lemon, stir and serve).

I've made it several times and always gets rave reviews.

Do you have a favorite stuffed flank steak recipe?

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carringer

A coworker of mine loaned me Etiquette & Espionage since she knows much I enjoyed The Parasole Protectorate series. I was very happy that E&E is set in the same world as TPP (just about 50 years before TPP). I enjoyed seeing that world from a new angle.
Sophronia is a handful. She is forever getting into messes and creating havoc. Rumor is her mother's shipping her off to the vampires. Truth is her mother is sending her to finishing school. Sophronia does not want to be finished. Yet, off she goes and plunged into a world full of flywaymen, werewolves, espionage, and curtseying. Sophronia is quick and curious, two very useful traits. She immediately befriends Dimity and the two of them set out to learn the secrets of Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.
I found Sophronia to be delightful. I completely enjoyed getting to know her. I also like Dimity even though she was a little dim at times. I especially enjoyed those characters that came from TPP series. A little younger but still there. I won't spoil anything for those of you who haven't read it. I was delighted to "see" some familiar faces!
I didn't expect to enjoy Etiquette & Espionage so much but I'm thrilled that I did. I'm looking forward to continuing the series. Others who shared their thoughts on Etiquette & Espionage: A Girl Lost In A Book, Weirdmage's Reviews, Novel Friends, The Book Bellas, and One A Day YA.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Gearing Up For The Readathon

On Saturday, April 27th I'll be participating in the Readathon. This is my sixth readathon. I adore the readathon. First, setting aside time to read is one of my favorite things. I love that hundreds of people are doing the exact same thing. It's a great way to fill up your to be read list and meet people from all over the world. It's so hard to just read since chatting with folks is so much fun. I'll probably be on twitter and posting updates on here periodically.
I won't have a pile of books this year. Just one book:
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I'm trying to read other books right now so I can either start Outlander the morning of the Readathon or the night before. I doubt I'll finish it that day but I should make  sufficient progress.
Are you joining the Readathon? If not consider it. Even if you can't read all day, join in the fun on twitter and with the other bloggers. Head over to Dewey's Readathon to learn more.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

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 have quite a haul this week.
To further my cooking education.
I've been leafing through this one already. I can't wait to make a few recipes from Hiroko's American Kitchen.
This is one massive book-528 pages! I'm looking forward to seeing if it's one I should buy.
I'm always looking for more slow cooker recipes especially healthy ones.
I put Iron in my library queue after seeing it on Omnivoracious. Sounded really good.
The next in the Scott Pilgrim series.
The end of The Chemical Garden trilogy. I looking forward to seeing how this wraps up.

What did you get this week?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Characters or Literary Figures I'd Name My Children After

Top Ten Tuesday 
is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. 

Today's Topic: It's a Rewind so I choose Book Characters or Literary Figures I'd Name My Children After

Sara-A Little Princess
One of my favorites growing up. I loved how plucky and determined Sara was. Those are traits I'd want in a little girl.
October-The October Daye series
I love the idea of naming kids after months. October can easily be Toby. 
Gansey-The Raven Boys
Ok, so this is his last name but I like Gansey for a first name. 
Niall-The Wicked Lovely Series
I love the name Naill. Plus I adore his character in the Wicked Lovely series. 
Cricket-Lola And The Boy Next Door
I just love how the name Cricket rolls off the tongue. It makes me smile.
Charlotte-Charlotte's Web
I loved the name Charlotte so much when I was growing up. I even named my not-Cabbage Patch doll Charlotte. 
Veruca-Charlie and The Chocolate Factory
Another one that I love how it sounds. Veruca. I would hope my child wouldn't be like Veruca but I still like the name.
Arwen-Lord of The Rings trilogy
Kind of cheating with this one since I haven't read LOTR but I love the name from the movies.
Marian-Robin Hood
This is my preferred spelling of Marian. I've seen it many different ways but I like it this way. 
Rhett-Gone With The Wind
Growing up with Jeffs and Peters, Rhett was pretty exotic. I thought it sounded manly. Or maybe just Clark Gable was.

What are your favorite possible baby names from books?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Weekend Cooking: The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater

I added The Kitchen Diaries to my library queue after reading about it on Cooking with Amy. I definitely want to cook more seasonally and this book is devoted to that.
The Kitchen Diaries follows a year of Nigel's life. All the meals are what he ate the day he writes about them. I had no idea who Nigel was at the time of getting the book. Nigel Slater is a British food writer and he hosts food cooking shows primarily in England. The recipes in The Kitchen Diaries vary between fussy and this is what was in the cupboard. I mainly read March and April and leafed through the rest of the year. I saw some foods I'll want to make when the time is right. The Kitchen Diaries will wind up on my cookbook shelf at some point.
I decided I wanted to try my hand at one of his recipes. I selected the Mustard Lamb Chops. I don't cook lamb often. In fact, I think the last time I had lamb was 2 or 3 years ago. Tai loves lamb but I don't often come across recipes for it. But I decided this was the perfect time to make lamb.
The recipe is incredibly easy. Mix coarse mustard with minced garlic, the juice of a lemon, and olive oil. Stir til a thick paste is formed. Marinated the chops for a hour or two. Broil for 5 minutes on both sides. The meat should still be pretty pink inside but let it rest for 5 minutes and it will come up to medium/medium-rare.
Serve with a lemon wedge. I served it with roasted asparagus but could be served with almost any other veggie.
The Mustard Lamb Chops were a hit with my family. In fact, it's been requested that I make lamb more often. Slater had 2 other lamb dishes (one with feta) that I'd love to try.

Have your tried any of Slater's recipes?
What's your favorite way to prepare lamb?

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Replay by Ken Grimwood

I read about Replay on Bonnie's Books. I thought it would be a book that both Tai and I would enjoy. I was right. We both enjoyed Replay. I found it hard to put it down.
Jeff Winston is 43 when he dies. He's on the phone with his wife when his heart stops. Moments later, he finds himself, alive and 18. Jeff remembers everything from his previous life including the winners of the World Series and Kentucky Derby. Jeff uses his knowledge of these events to make money. Then he sets out to recreate his life. Nothing has changed. It's like someone rewound Jeff's life 25 years and let him live it all over again.
I found the premise of Replay to be very engaging and thought provoking. If you knew the outcome of world events, would you try to change them? If you knew the winner of every major sporting event for 25 years, would you bet on the outcomes? And if you knew you'd die again in 25 years, what would you do? I found the challenges that Jeff's replays provided to be highly interesting. When Jeff was "reborn", he was 18, able to leave school and go out in the world. But what if you came back a child, say eight years old, with all the knowledge of an adult. Those 10 years before you can legally be an adult would suck. And when Jeff does try to change a world event, he finds himself unable to stop it. So he learns not to try, to let events happen as they should.
Grimwood's writing is engaging and suspenseful. I could not put the book down. Even when I did, I found myself wondering what would happen next. To me, that's the mark of a good book. As you can see, I enjoyed Replay and would recommend to anyone. Others who shared their thoughts on Replay: Ink and Page, At Home With Books, and Read More!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

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.

A bunch of holds came in this week. Yay!
Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell recently reviewed the third in the series. I thought it sounded good so decided to give it a go.
Another one I learned about from Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell. She recently reviewed the third in the series.
Sarah Jio wrote it, I need to read it.
Another cookbook to help me in my endeavor to eat locally and seasonally.
I decided it was time to start the Outlander series. Can you believe I've never read it before?

What did you get this week? 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books I Read Before I Was A Blogger

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. 

Today's topic: Top Ten Favorite Books I Read Before I Was A Blogger 
I can't remember how this book ended up in my hands but I adored it. After reading The Red Tent, I wanted to talk to other people about. Sadly I couldn't convince my friends to read it with me or immediately after I did. The Red Tent is how I found out there were book bloggers. 
Another book I absolutely loved. Lucky Ashley read it around the same time as me so we could chat about our mutual enjoyment of Girl With A Pearl Earring.
I could relate Siddalee. My mother wasn't an alcoholic but she grew up in the same Catholic upbringing as Vivi. Some of Siddalee's stories were close to my childhood. It was like hearing from a friend.
I read this back in college. I had very little exposure to SciFi but I loved The Left Hand of Darkness. I certainly started to seek out more SciFi.
Another one I read in college. I was transfixed by Offred's story. I also read more of Atwood's work but The Handmaid's Tale remains my favorite.
I remember Ashley told me about Good In Bed. I either bought it or grabbed it from the library. I stayed up all night reading it and sobbed at the end.
A former coworker of mine loaned me the first couple of books of this series around the time it came out. She was hoping Left Behind would sway me to Christianity. It didn't but I adored the series anyway. I read each book in a matter of hours. Very gripping and entertaining.
I don't know how I found Laurie Notaro but I'm glad I did. I picked this one up after buying Autobiography of a Fat Bride for a friend who was getting married. Love her books.
I think this was another Ashley recommended book. I was deep in chick lit land back then so I'd read a few of Green's other books but Jemima J remains my favorite of hers.
I don't remember why I read East of Eden. I'm glad I did. I really enjoyed it. 

What are your favorites from before you started blogging?