Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Top Ten Favorite Books I Read in 2011*

1. Divergent -- I loved this Dystopian, the four nations and the choice! It was enthralling. I read it on a road trip to an interview and it was distracting enough to take away my nerves. (I got the job and finished the book that day.)
2. Awaken -- There were some extreme moments that I didn't quite agree with. I mean, I love my computer and I work manufacturing processors. BUT with those extremes aside this was a very moving story.
3. Hourglass** -- Time-travel, fated love, super-hero stuff. Lots of fun.
4. Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to NOT Reading -- Hilarious! wonderfully balanced, great voice.
5. Anna and the French Kiss** -- Lovely, delicious, Paris, and romance. There is so much good in this book it can't be described. Its popularity is well deserved.
6. Will Grayson, Will Grayson -- Again with the popular, Tiny Cooper is captivating. Will Grayson #2 is pretty awful until he meets Will Grayson #1, who is funny and sweet, though shrouded in avoidance. This book was like a good hug, it was comforting and supportive of your inner being like a true friend This book isn't the most exciting, drop everything story but it is beautiful and worth your time.
7. Shit My Dad Says -- Lacking in the segue department but fantastic. By the time I finished I wanted this dad to have been my father growing up.
8.Before I Fall**  -- Some trite moments at the beginning, but in the end a great journey; one I'm glad to have gotten to go on. Worth the time.
9. Midnight Sun -- I don't want to analyze Twilight you guys! This series is pure escapist entertainment to me and I will always love them. This one didn't get a love only because it's unfinished.

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)
10. Anna Dressed in Blood** -- Just everything I could have wanted this book to be when I read that title and saw that cover it surpassed. So great!

*TBTB Top Ten Tuesday
** I've reviewed these books! Check it out

Ok, I know this is going to make me sad, but tell me, What books did I miss out on this year?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Mini Review: Envy by Gregg Olsen

Both wondered how it was that with the inevitability of death, no one really had anything to say about it. It was as if one of life's pivotal moments---- the final moment--- was devoid of potential small talk. pg. 51
The writer is inriguing but something about his dialouge and text speak turns me off. I can't tell if he is too out of touch with popular 15 year olds, or if I am. And I abhor text speak. I mean it took me 30 minutes to figure out what 4COL and when I did it was my exact sentiment*. And they're using it while talking about a dead friend - to me that feels cold and inappropiate and a lot of other words that make me feel old and motherly to say.

The twins who end up being the center of the story are supposed to have distinct personalities and gifts but those lines blur until the two are indistinguisable as the story goes on. Also the beloved family dog goes missing and the twins kind of brush over it. They mourn for a couple minutes then it's back to the mystery. That's just weird, what was the point of that plot twist?

The reveals are fairly obvious, I saw 70 percent of them coming far too early.
The author is repeatitive like a highschool teacher trying to portray an important subject. As the story goes on the author starts offering information without using the characters. In my opinion the last thing a thriller/mystery writer should do is leading, which is what the final quarter is full of.

* For Crying Out Loud!!!

Anyone else read this? Anyone have an opinion about text speak or my out-dated abilites to understand it?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Please Santa send me these 10 books.

I am so late with his because I forgot it was Tuesday *major head desk* but here is my top ten, these have all been on my TBR for years.

  1.  Youth in Revolt -- actually when I got my belly-button pierce I gave the piercer Perks of being a Wallflower and he suggested this. That was 6 years ago.
  2. Tithe -- Since I became a Francesca Lia Block fan this has been continually recommended.
  3. The Sky Is Everywhere -- I've seen this on many author blogs as one of the best reads they've read.
  4. A Monster Calls -- I have seen this everywhere recently and it sounds great.
  5. Lola and The Boy Next Door -- I loved Anna and the French Kiss so much; I need to read this.
  6. Bumped -- Loved Jessica Darling series so this is a no brainer.
  7. Beauty Queens -- Loved the Gemma Doyle Series but I didn't like Going Bovine. Tell me should I get this one?
  8. The Last Little Blue Envelope -- Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes was my first Maureen Johnson book and I could not have more love for this lady. I haven't bought this because I want to reread the first, but I still want it, come on Santa ; ).
  9. The Scorpio Races --  I feel I should read a Maggie Stiefvater bookbecause I am addicted to her blog and this is the one she is most proud of, so...
  10. Love (And Other Uses For Duct Tape) -- I love this author, she is very sweet, and I love this title.
*TBTB Top Ten Tuesday

    Saturday, December 17, 2011

    Review: Hourglass by Myra McEntire

    Can we say Cover Love?
    This is my favorite cover of the year!
    Hourglass (Hourglass, #1)
    Published: April 2011, Egmont USA 
    Pages: 390
    Part of a Series: Hourglass #1
    Read For a Challenge: 2011 Debut Author's Challenge**
    Teaser: "Sighing , I stuck my hand through her stomach to turn the knob, meeting no resistance. I rolled my eyes as she gasped, fluttered her eyelashes, and disappeared in a puff of air."
    In a sentence or so: Crazy or a time-traveling hero?
    *Rating: 9/10
    GoodReads Description:
    One hour to rewrite the past . . .

    For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.

    So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.
    Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

    1. Type of story: YA Paranormal/ Sci-fi (Free 1 point)
    2.Consistency: Mostly. Though the reason Michael is introduced seems to be solved by his very presence, which is a little too convenient. (1/2 point)
    3. Flesh: Connected through their gifts and destined to be close, Emerson is being driven crazy by Michael's insistence to be professional and her suspension of another woman vying for his attention. (1/2 point)
    4. Flow: Hourglass was actually written to be a series! I could get excited about reading the series as opposed to feeling an obligation to finish what I've started. Anyhow, in the first half of Hourglass we learn all about Emerson and, to a lesser degree, Michael. The second half is superhero stuff and building an enemy who is charming an manipulative -- he has the power to gain minions and be a Nemesis that last. (1 point)
    5. Character Growth: Emerson must go from thinking she is crazy, to accepting her visions as part of an amazing gift, and then build that gift into a power she can use to help others. (1 point)
    6. A Point/ Purpose/ Journey: Getting through the grief of losing her parents, Emerson must decide to live again and accept her gift.  (1 point)
    7. Witty Dialogue: In a defensive way. Emerson thinks he's crazy because of the things she sees and it makes her guarded. So to keep herself going she makes sharp quips and enjoys her surprising "ninja" skills by expressing small out bursts of  violence that are more amusing than hurtful. But when she opens up she knocks more people off their feet than martial arts ever could. (1 point)
    8. Love: Two gorgeous young adults that literally make sparks when they come into contact (OK, that's kind of corny) star in this story. It is no wonder they can't keep apart. Em and Michael are as inseparable as time -- they flow together, it is the way they were made. (1 point)
    9. Evoke Realistic Images: The story-telling is amazing. I feel like a by-stander to the journey. It's like being close enough to give a first hand account but enough in the background not to effect the outcome. (1 point)
    10. Writing/Story telling: The writing was simplistic, leaving the focus, appropriately, on the characters. (1 point)

    Reread Worthy: Yes. Not soon, but maybe when the series is finished and I want to read something I know is easily enjoyable.

    Recommendation: Anyone who wants to believe in time travel.

    *Click Rating to see post about my 10 aspects of a great book.

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    Ten Books I want to give as gifts...

    I wish people in my life loved literature as much as I do, but...
    1. Connor: my fiance's son will do anything to get out of reading so I picked The Boxcar Children for him. Everyone I talked to, including the guys, loved these as kids.
    2. Maddie: my fiance's neice has so many toys she doesn't know what to do with herself. I think the lessons in Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle would be perfect for her.
    3. Shane: My Fiance who doesn't like reading anything fictional, I think, would be more open after trying American Gods.
    4. Nikki: My cousin (I know I gave her a copy before that she didn't bring to college) should have the ultimate love books book, Fahrenheit 451.
    5. Marissa: My cousin (Nikki's little sister) I want her to love words and Ella Minnow Pea ia a sweet story about words.

    A new phase in life
    6. Deacon: My best friend just had a baby and I think Love You Forever should be that little boy's first book.
    7. Randy: The new dad (who I have gotten to read some great books) should have Shit My Dad Says because when I listened to the audio book I wished that guy was my dad.

    I wish I could get a message across
    8. Verna: I wish my fiance's mom would love learning and read Ella Minnow Pea, and then a lot of other books.
    9. Claudia: I want my mother to realize the bad feelings you contribute to dont just go away when you stop talking about them, so I'd give her 13 Reasons Why.

    I don't know who I would be without her.
    10. For the person who made me love boks I would give Denise Anna Dressed in Blood because it was a favorite read this year and something different than I usually see on her (virtual) shelves.

    *TBTB Top Ten Tuesday

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    Review: Liar Society by Lisa & Laura Roecker

    Published: 2011, Sourcebooks,Inc.
    Pages: 358
    Part of a Series: #1
    Read For a Challenge: 2011 Debut Author's Challenge**
    Teaser: "I unbuttoned the top buttons on the shirt of my uniform, adjusted the "girls" to achieve maximum attention, and licked my lips. ... 'I'm going in.'"
    In a sentence or so:  After Grace dies in a fire her best friend, Kate, sends emails to remember their connection and keep getting through each new day alone; then one day, about a year later, Kate receives a response.
    *Rating: 7.5/10
    GoodReads Description:
    Kate Lowry didn’t think dead best friends could send e-mails. But when she gets an e-mail from Grace, who died mysteriously a year before, she’s not so sure. When the emails continue, Kate is forced to confront her school’s resident druggie, a sketchy administrator, and even her own demons.

    As Kate moves closer and closer to the truth, she teams up with a couple of knights-in-(not so)shining armor–the dangerously attractive, bad boy, Liam and her love-struck neighbor, Seth. The three uncover an ancient secret lurking in the halls of their elite private school with the power to destroy them all.

    But the truth doesn’t always set you free. Sometimes it’s only the beginning.
    1. Type of story: YA mystery (Free 1 point)
    2.Consistency: the authors time table's are distracting. They do that past-present switch thing and then lose track of their days in the present... it's distracting. First Kate tells nerd boy I'll see you on the bus tomorrow but then tomorrow turns out to be a Saturday and then the next day in the present is a school day. (0 Points)
    3. Flesh: Kate is moving through a grief that keeps kicking her the ribs with the unknown and she just wants someone who can understand and help her through her journey but she no longer knows how to trust. And she's a decent detective, following the clues and staying on her toes, a little ahead of others; at least until the end when the entire character profile falls apart leaving loose ends for a viable sequel. (1/2 point)
    4. Flow: The story reads pretty quickly. This is good and bad. Good because the pace kept things light and entertaining, but bad because the relationships could have benefited from more development. (1/2 point)
    5. Character Growth: Kate's story is about living with grief and survivor's guilt, and she makes strides to reclaim her life in this story. The growth is believable and well expressed. I felt for her in the beginning and was proud of her as the story went on. (1 point)
    6. A Point/ Purpose/ Journey: Working through grief by investigating the truth.In my opinion the truth always helps, so this is  very worthy journey for Kate to take. (1point)
    7. Witty Dialogue: Did you read that teaser? Kate's inner monologue is sardonic, dark, intelligent, and all of this is tied together inside a sincere and sweet personality. (1 point)
    8. Love: Since her best friend, Grace's, death Kate has been weary to let anyone in. All of a sudden there is a rush of contenders for her attention and she has to work through who is sincere and worth her time (1 point).
    9. Evoke Realistic Images: The ladies have done very well with spatial awareness. They describe the details of a scene just enough, most authors who try this go to far and become tedious but the Roecker sisters have got it right. (1 point)
    10. Writing/Story telling: Thought it would be more exciting and less predictable. But I have no idea what's coming in the next installment, and I'm still intrigued enough to find out. I guess that's what mystery writer's aim for. I have to say though, I'm not hungry for the next book, only curious so other books may push it down in the TBR. (1/2 point)

    Reread Worthy: No, this is only OK. I don't wish I never read this but once was enough.  
    Recommendation: Mystery junkies.

    *Click Rating to see post about my 10 aspects of a great book.

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Eight Childhood Favorites*

    1. Black Beauty: I read this over and over in 1st grade.

    2. A Light In the Attic: I still own this. I carried it around and read the poems to other children so they could love them too. I still love this work, and I remember crying as a child when I learned of Shel Silverstein's death.

    3. Falling Up: See above. (Also, this was given to me by the nicest old lady who ever rode a bus one Christmas holiday that wasn't turning out very merry until that moment.)

    4. Where The Sidewalk Ends: See #2. (My first Shel Silverstein book.)

    5. Wayside School Stories: enormously amusing.

    6. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle: After a stint of not reading a friend shared her favorite childhood set with me. These are whimsical and have great lessons hidden in the fun.

    7. Oh, The Thinks You Can Think: I love all Dr. Seuss, but I think this one is fun and inspiring. As an adult the message is still valid.

    8. Joan Of Arc: I think this was the last bonding moment I had with my mother growing up. This was the last book she read to me, she read it 3 times in a row. I found Joan's strength inspiring.

    Did you read any of these? Know any childhood favorites that are still valid to your life today?
    *TBTB Top Ten Tuesday

    Sunday, December 4, 2011

    Mini-Review: Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard*

    This is a mini-review: I did not write full review but I still want to warn tell everyone about this book.

    The narrators voice often sounds much younger than 17, then there is talk about sex to make him seem older. Sometimes his thoughts remind me of an 8 year old. Also the timeline began to degrade with his flashbacks. That could be the author trying to show the discontinuous thoughts of someone feeling grief and guilt.

     As far as the "journaling/noveling" goes this writer apologizes for her bad writing far too often through the narrator and tries to use her extensive knowledge of the "great books" to brush over it. Over and over it's like, "Hey, I kind of suck, but these guys don't, if you don't like me just read them." I'm paraphrasing, but I want to say to the author if you think you suck that badly, and point it out repeatedly, your story will suck, and all of us will agree with you.

    pg.79 "You could write about that, a poem about writer's block." I love the idea of turning your problem into your solution. This is said by the English teacher in the story, Haley Avis Dovecott. She is also the focus of the main characters affection. She is fresh out of college and has intense interaction with the lead character, she is much better written than Is Male.

    Also what is this hidden identity thing. While journaling he says just call me Is Male, but he paste in papers from his English class and repeats comments from peers with his actual name. What is the point of making up an identity if you constantly reveal yourself?

    The only other line worth remembering in the book: "You have to stop and freeze the moment..." You have to make yourself remember by repeating it in your head over and over. You have to write to preserve your sanity." There you go, now you don't have to read it. Skip this because all that's left is  baseless guilt, a self-effacing and ingenuine narrator, and better secondary characters.

    *This is a 2011 Debut Author Challenge book, click here for more information about The Debut Authors in 2011

    Wednesday, November 30, 2011

    Review: Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake

    Published: September 2011, Tor Teen
    Pages: 316
    Part of a Series: #1
    Read For a Challenge: 2011 Debut Author's Challenge**
    Teaser: "Smashing. You'll be just like those four chaps in the movie. You know the one, with the over sized marshmallow."
    In a sentence or so: Cas kills dangerous ghosts, and Anna is a very dangerous ghost who has been killing anyone who enters her former abode for the past sixty years, but when they meet something is different. Cas's world turns upside down the night he doesn't kill Anna Dressed in Blood.
    *Rating: 9.5/10 (-.5 point for potentially pointless sequel)
    GoodReads Description:
    Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

    So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
    When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
    But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.

    1. YA -- Fantasy/Paranormal, Horror (Free 1 point)
    2.Consistency -- The mythology that built this world was encompassing, Anna was one bad B until she met Cas and is able to explore her new level of control growing and discovering along the same timeline as Cas's growth. (1 point)
    3. Flesh -- The narration by Cas is amazing in this story, with his dark humor and inquisitive nature I can't think there could be a better character to lead the way through this story. Anna's snark collides with Cas's wit in a way that makes this story unforgettable. (1 point)
    4. Flow --This was my most anticipated read this year and it definitely delivered. From beginning to end it was thrilling, enthralling, captivating. I was never bored with the pacing and I was satisfied at the end. (Even though this is growing into a series this volume was good enough to stand on its own.) (1 point)
    5. Character Growth -- Cas grows to remember his father as a man; not an infallible being, and be truly grateful of the people that are in his present life. He has a great journey. (1 point)
    6. A Point/ Purpose/ Journey -- This has all the elements of a great YA paranormal: supernatural beings and a strong set of mythologies; shocking appearances, dangers, and reveals; and all capped off with the classic coming of age -- finding self and first love. (1 point)
    7. Witty Dialogue*** I was trapped by the first paragraph. Cas is witty, digging, in-your-face, and just everything I love in a narrator. (1 point)
    8. Love -- The synopsis hints at the love story, and at first I was weary of a budding ghost-ghost killer star-crossed lover thing. I had no reason to worry. It turns out Anna and Cas are perfectly matched in maturity and personal development. Ms. Blake unfolds the relationship hesitantly and it paints a beautiful couple that fits the world she built. (1 point)
    9. Evoke Realistic Images -- I got completely lost in this story. I wouldn't say the story is actually scary but it is creepy enough that when your in the middle of a scene you jump at any movement your peripheral vision catches. (1 point)
    10. Writing/Story telling -- Right off the bat funny, witty, and strait-forward and darkness and gruesome murder -- no, for the killers. AND there are some great story drops, references to novels, myths, and movies.The kind of things that let you know the author is a bookish type and proud when you recognise the tales. (1 point)

    Reread Worthy: Definitely, I loved it, but it was over so fast. It would be interesting to see if it stands the test of time.
    Recommendation: Anyone who enjoys coming of age novels and isn't easily scared.

    *Click Rating to see post about my 10 aspects of a great book.

    Tuesday, November 29, 2011

    Winter TBR*


    1. Hourglass: Currently reading, 2011 Debut. I bought it because of the cover, it was my favorite cover this year. So far the story is great, too. Emerson Cole thinks shes crazy when the phantoms come to haunt her. Then her brother hires someone from Hourglass. Michael is the most beautiful man she has ever seen and he'll help her see the truth of her abilities, as long as she helps him save the world.

    2. Wither: Another 2011 Debut.Genetic mutations have made fertile women a commodity. This is the story of a girl that refuses to give in to becoming property.

    3. Delirium: I actually bought this because of the hype from bloggers AND because I saw one with a cover just slightly different than all the others and I had to have it.

    4. Wildefire: Another 2011 Debut, this will make more than 12 for me, but I love mythology and couldn't pass this one up. Ashline finds out she's more than the only Polynesian girl in school, she's a goddess.

    5. Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide To NOT Reading: Inspired by a young man I know, in trying to battle his unwillingness to read I couldn't pass up this debut. I just finished it and it was hilarious, all the work the character goes through and pain he suffers to get out of reading. A lesson is to be learned here for many young people.

    6. Name of the Star: Maureen Johnson is a must for me and this is about a run in with a Jack the Ripper copy-cat. Currently reading. Maureen delivers as always and this is already a top book of the year for me.

    7. The Fault in Our Stars: John Green's newest novel of which he signed every pre-order. One of those is mine! Released in January.

    8. Shiver: I have been reading her blog on a regular basis but have yet to read any of her books. This is is the first in a werewolf trilogy.

    9. Will Grayson, Will Grayson: I've had this John Green/David Levithan collaboration.

    10. Born Wicked: 2012 debut about witches.

    *TBTB Top Ten Tuesday

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Top Ten Authors at MY Thanksgiving Table! *


    Wow, a holiday full of good foods, free flowing wine, and glorious writers. When thinking about this I started with authors I had to have and added other favorites I though would blend in with the already established party. I also only invited those who I thought would be up for a light hearted, good time. So here is my Thanksgiving guest list.

    1. Maureen Johnson -- I would love to discuss with her how thankful we are for the many types of post-it notes in the world. I love her books and her blog so she has got to be there.

    2. Libba Bray -- A friend of Maureen's and another wonderful writer. Her Gemma Doyle series is extraordinary and her blog is hilarious (and a straight-forward bitch-slap in the face to anyone who pisses her off).

    3. John Green -- A friend to the above and an extremely accomplished writer and Nerdfighter. Also I would love it if he brought along his whole family (brother, the wives, the parents, the baby, and even willie) for some awesome nerdfighter shenanigans.

    4. Scott Westerfield  -- He's just so imaginative in his writing and he's another friend of Maureen, so I know he'll be a fun addition. Also, though I've never read her books, his wife, Justine Larbalestier, would be a very welcome addition.

    5. Carrie Jones -- This woman has a shy but wonderfully friendly disposition which I got to know a bit when she chatted with me on myspace about being an author. Also she has some of the greatest book titles around.

    6. Louise Rennison -- She wrote Confessions of Georgia Nickolson, she seems like the kind of person who could get the party started right.

    7. Christopher Moore -- This guy is beyond funny and can talk vampires or god without losing that humor. I'm sure Christopher Moore could keep us laughing all night.

    8. Stephanie Perkins -- I just love Anna and the French Kiss. And the way Ms. Perkin's describes food! I might ask her to bring something over or at least make suggestions because anyone that can me hungry when describing a grape has got to know her way around a kitchen**

    9. Judy Blume -- This woman was a savior to me as a pre-teen, is an inspiration in everything she does, and, from what I've heard, she's a great dinner guest.

    10. Maggie Stiefvater -- I haven't read any of her books yet but I discovered her blog during BBAW and love how genuine and wonderfully odd she is. I think she would make the perfect topper for this party.
    *TBTB Top Ten Tuesday

    **Or at least the best take-out in town.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Top Ten Closet Cloggers


    This week's Top Ten is Books That Have Been On My Shelf For The Longest .......But I've Never Read.* Now I am trying to get this number down by chalenging myself to read what I call "closet cloggers".** But here is a sampling of what has been justing sittting around unread for the longest*** time.

    1. The Thirteenth Tale -- This premise still intrigues me, and I've heard only good things, but I keep buying pretty, new, YA books that shove it lower on the TBR pile.

    2. Paint It Black -- White Oleander is one of my favorites and I just love the way Janet writes (very pretty language), but I've started this three times and never made it through 4 chapters.

    3. Danse Macabre -- I bought this (and many simular books) when I thought my only path in life was to be a writer, but after a few kicks to my self esteem and the realization that work is work and not always fun no matter what you do, I never read it.

    4. Eragon -- I heard such great reviews for this book written by a 19 year old because I wanted to encourage such a young author. Then I read that he got published because of his parent's connections, and I ended up hating the movie, so yeah, there it sits.

    5. Paradise Lost -- The book that holds Satan's greatest line, "Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven," was a classic I just had to own, but have you seen the size of this thing??!>? Enormous tome, in verse, so it sits prettily on my shelf waiting for me, year after year.

    6.The World According To Garp -- Another friend of mine recommended this author. He is her favorite and she is the woman who inspired my book obsession, so as soon as I saw a book by her fav author I scooped it up and gave it a home.... then never honored it with a reading.

    7. The Host -- November 2008 I went charging through the Twilight series and eschewed all other activities. Noticing my obsession a dear friend bought me this for Christmas. Despite his effort, which I found very touching as he is not a big reader, I have yet to open this novel.

    8. Chocolat -- I loved this movie and when I saw it was a book, and it was on sale, I had to have it. That's as far as the love affair has gone, unfortunitely.

    9. Kafka's Metamorphasis -- I have been terrified for years of cockroaches, I thought this might help me get over it since it's about a man who wakes up a giant roach one day. It immediately skeeved me out and I never tried again.

    10. Crime and Punishment -- Great Russian Literture was recommended to me by the smartest woman I know when I told her I wanted to be a writer. "Russian writer's," she told me, "will show you the way to be a great." I immediately went out and bought this, as Dostoyevsky is rated as one of the best... and never read it.

    I feel so guilty after writing this, these books deserve my time, otherwise I should have never bought them.
    Has anyone read any of these? (Come on make them irresitable to me again.)

    *TBTB Top Ten Tuesday
    **Until recently a lot of my books were literally in a closet in a box, now I have new bookshelves! : )
    ***I can't even remember how long

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Review: I heart you, You haunt me by Lisa Schroeder

    Published: January 2008, Simon Pulse
    Pages: 226
    Stand Alone Novel
    Read for a (Personal) Challenge: Closet Cloggers
    In a sentence or so: Ava's boyfriend Jackson dies and she blames herself for the loss; only he's not really lost, he is coming to visit her as a ghost.
    *Rating: 5/10

    Goodreads description:
    Girl meets boy.
    Girl loses boy.
    Girl gets boy back...
    ...sort of.
    Ava can't see him or touch him, unless she's dreaming. She can't hear his voice, except for the faint whispers in her mind. Most would think she's crazy, but she knows he's here.
    Jackson. The boy Ava thought she'd spend the rest of her life with. He's back from the dead, as proof that love truly knows no bounds

    1. YA/Paranormal Romance/Grief -- Novel in Verse (Free 1 point)
    2. There was a wonderful consistency in the timeline, and the character was mostly invariable. Despite her consistency Lisa Schroeder's writing was forgetable in her inability to be unique. (1/2 point)
    3. As convincing as the world was there was nothing grabbing in this story. It was quick, unobtrusive, predictable and inconsequential. Ava as a character was believable but typical, nothing extraordinary. (1/2 point)
    4. The story was based on how Ava dealt with the death, and return as a ghost, of her boyfriend Jackson. It was very short and concise. Ms. Schroeder held together the flow of time pretty well, even with a few flash backs. (1point)
    5. This story is about growing through grief and letting go or not letting go. You see partial charater growth in the story. The character makes some efforts to rejoin the living but the journey is cut short by the time line. (0 point)
    6. I don't see a unique point made by the author here. Anyone can write a book about death, greif and lettign go. There was no reason to read this book over any other book on grief. (0 point)
    7. No witty, no funny in sad times, in fact there wasn't much in the way of dialogue at all. (0 point)
    8. There is definitely love in this story. First love, never ending with a little paranormal help.  You know how about a month after a relationship ends all you can do is think about the best parts and wish it wasn't over? Now add the obsession of first love, survivor's guilt because the relationship was ended by your boyfriend's death and now he's haunting you. (1 point)
    9. Lisa created a pretty convincing world, I could see through the narrators eyes very clearly. (1 point)

    10. There are a couple powerful touching moments, but I attribute that to the nature of the subject. The writing is pretty bland. (0 points)

    Reread worthy? No
    Recommendation? That being said, if I were a little younger and hadn't learned how to deal with loss, of love or life, this story would have probably affected me more. I would recommend this as a stop gap for teenage girls that are grieving either boyfriends or first brush with a loved one dying. ALTHOUGH there are lots of books that deal with grief, there are most likely better options than I Heart You, You Haunt Me.

    *Click Rating to see post about my 10 aspects of a great book.

    8 books that took me ....Out of the Comfort Zone*


    I don't have many types of books that I would shy away from so I looked up a definition for this one. The comfort zone is a behavioural state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, usually without a sense of risk. So these are som stories that caused me some sort of anxiety.

    Depressing/Distressing/Disturbing Tales -- These are tales that caused me to stop reading multiple times because of the images envoked.

    Cut: The first book I read about addiction. It was a eye-opening, and at times painful, read. I felt everything Callie went through. Patricia McCormick did a wonderful job with this story.

    White Oleander: One of my favorites but the journey through her many foster homes is not one that can be handled in one sitting. I actually stopped and read something else in the middle of this one.

    Haunted: Again, this book makes me not want to be around people because of the depravitities shared in these pages.

    Age of Consent: This story is creepy. It's a haunted house story, but it is not an rip-off of Amityville Horrors or The Poltrigist, it is it's own story and it is not for the faint of heart or the easily disturbed mind.

    Classics: They are scary by proxy, these ancient and beloved tomes. Often they are surprisingly brilliant and take on thoughts society would frown upon. These life commentaries really hit hard.

    The Jungle: Tales describing the goriest descriptions of the meat-packing industry and the realities as life as an immigrant in turn-of-the-century Chicago.

    A Clockwork Orange: Vicious passtimes, insane made up slang, and unbelievable "therapy".

    Out of my public comfort zone: Erotic Novels. I am a grown woman and I like to encourage women to be open about their sexuality. THOUGH I often still cower before saying in public that I am a sexual being and I'm proud of it. Because of societies archaic views of women I often fear being shunned.  Anyway here I am being honest: My name is Epiphany and I read sexy books.

    Story of O: The first I dared to buy. A classic in erotic literature. It was well written but not my cup of tea being a very master-slave senerio, but pretty good.

    Best Women's Erotica 2009: However this, and everything Violet Blue is involved in, is a wonderful tribute to what it is to be a proud, open, sensual woman.

    *TBTB Top Ten Tuesday

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    Top Ten Intense Romps*


    1. Fahrenheit 451 -- Scary possibilities! Read banned books, people, collect knowledge. Do not go gently!
    2. The Jungle -- America's seedy under belly.

    3. Pygmalion -- The story, and even more, the prologue, is such a slap in the face to accepted society ways.

    4. Awaken -- Look each other in the eyes, connection makes us human!

    5. Necklace of Kisses -- Escapism coveted, a hotel of magic. If you read the Weetzie Bat series you must read this.

    6. Ella Minnow Pea -- Worship language and communicate with each other, express yourself freely and fully. “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Lovely.

    7. Haunted -- Survival can be scary, people can do terrifying things.

    8. White Oleander -- So much humanity; mostly the dark bits and how they effect this young woman as she tumbles through life. Poignant, i believe, is the word.

    9. The Perks of Being A Wallflower -- What a world we grow up in. Wonderous things to see, and dangerous falls to raise from. Experience everything.

    10. Atlas Shrugged -- "It isn't fair that you get more than me because you or better, stronger, smarter, or try harder. I should get more because my faults deny me earning what you do. Pity me and give me yours, I deserve more because I am pitiful...." WHAT!?!? This book says some wonderful things about what selfishness, money, and the worth of hard work through good and bad (paraphrased above) examples. I love (most of) this book.**

    11. Pourman's Library -- I'm sorry but this is the worst book I have ever read. I don't know how it got published. Convoluted disconnected drivel.

    *TBTB Top Ten Tuesday

    **It's a little long, some of the speeches have erroneous repetitiveness, and Ayn Rand is a fanatic. So, full disclosure, if you read it don't take every statement exactly as written.

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    Top Ten for Halloween*

    I don't why but I get drawn in by these stories about disturbed people. I find these first five frightening AND endlessly fascinating.

    Haunted (Hardcover) 1. Haunted -- Things that frighten me more than anything else are the capabilities of the human mind. The depravity of some people is bone-chilling and sickening. This masterfully writen, but so horrible at the same time. I didn't want to be around anyone for two weeks after starting this.

    2. The Safety of Objects -- What's really behind the doors of the suburbs? Be sure you're prepared before you look, it isn't safe.

    3. Something Dangerous -- An all boys school with old secrets and parents to far gone to turn to for help; human depravity and specters!

    4. A Choir of Ill children -- This starts off disturbed and then alludes to the supernatural and just gets darker and darker.
    5. Age of Consent -- A house with a bad history many times over. This is Scary, there are possible possesions, death awaiting at every corner and that's just the mild parts.

    6. Angels and Demons -- This is all action spurred on by discovering a threat to the Catholic Church from the most infamous secret society: The Illuminati. Thrilling, in a word.

    7. Frankenstein -- On the other side, a "monster" one could empathize with. This story is simply the plight of the different.

    8. Anna Dressed in Blood -- Witty and suspenceful. A can't put down book about violent ghosts and the young man that must put them to rest for good.
    9. Uglies -- Government control hidden behind what we all want: to be beautiful and wanted. Scary conspiracy, big-brother kind of story. And it's the first book in one of the best series around today, BTW.

    10. Fahrenheit 451 -- How could a book lover not be terrifyed by a story starring a fireman: not one that fights fires but instead destroys free thinking by burning books. Also a must read for book lovers at anytime of the year, so if you've never read this get on it.

    Honorable Mention For something lighter:

    Devilish -- A deal with the devil is a classic Halloween theme. This one, though, comes with all of the hilarity and quick wit of Maureen Johnson.

    *TBTB Top Ten Tuesday

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Don't Judge A Book By It's Cover?*

    Why not? I often pick up books with catchy, or beautiful covers. I have found some great books this way. Yes, that's not always the case, and some of the best books have unassuming or even ugly covers** but taking a risk on a pretty "face" is often too much fun to pass up. (Just remember, buyer beware, I may pick up a book with a pretty cover but I very rarely buy without knowing more.)

    It's another Top Ten Tuesdays Ladies and Gents, and here are my top 10 6 books I picked up just because they were pretty.

    Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books1.Dangerous Angels: My first Francisca Lia Block and I ended up addicted to her dreamy, gauzy faerie filled world.

    2. Lamb: I was drawn in by this novel on the new release shelf because it was printed like a Bible, but it was marketed as a humor novel. I adore this story. I love the humor, I love the lessons, I love the journey. I know Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Palit's just a fiction novel but I wish this was embraced by the Christian community to take out some of the fanaticism and enforce the basic life message the religion was built upon. I don't want to offend any Christians (like my family), but if Biff really was Christ's childhood friend, and this was included to fill in those missing years in the Bible, it would make Christianity much more human, relatable and appealing.

    3. A Great and Terrible Beauty: Beautiful covers, beautiful writing, and a beautiful world. A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle, #1)

    4.Speak Speak: The tree, the secret; gorgeous and dark cover just like the story.
    5.Uglies: A natural beauty on the cover of a book called Uglies, Uglies (Uglies, #1)how could I not be intrigued to pick this up? And thank God (Or whomever you thank for things) that I did pick this up because no one builds worlds like Scott Westerfield in all of YA, and without this cover I never would have discovered that.
    6.The Blue Girl (Newford, #15) The Blue Girl: I saw this during my obsession with faerie stories. I had to buy a book with a punk cover in my favorite color about faeries. I'm glad I did it was wonderful.

    *TBTB Top Ten Tuesday
    ** It isn't the Authors' fault, they generally have no say in choosing the cover.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    Ten I Want To Read, For the First Time.... Again*

    Hello All! I have been very busy integrating into my new life in Hillsboro and at Intel, but I do have some reviews I'm eager to get out to you. I have read a few books and expect I'll have them up by next week. But for now it's time for another Top Ten Tuesday!

    Today's topic is about books you wish you could experience again, but for the first time. We all know that a great book will always be great but sometimes there is a certain aspect that can never be recaptured in the reread. There are books that surprise us and intrigue us in a way that can only be felt when one doesn't know what's around the corner. And then there are books we read at the exact right time in our lives. So here is my list of 10 I wish I could experience again for the first time.

    1. The Gemma Doyle Trilogy -- The lush worlds, magical; past; and present, created in the series are ripe with new and exotic imagery and beautiful and dark secrets.

    2. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret -- I read this the summer of my twelfth year and was experiencing everything the main character was. This was a gift from an adult in my life and I then I passed it down to a preteen in my life a few years latter. Every young girl should get to expirience this book when they're struggling in the in-between.

    3. The Uglies Saga -- A wild ride. A cliche saying but it was. Around every turn you wondered would the authorities be there? What would happen if they were? And was the life the authorities offered actually better than fighting for the alternative? Once you know everything the story is still epic but you could never feel that thrill after the first time.

    4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower -- This book is on most of my top ten list because of the affect it had on me and my eagerness to share it with everyone. For years I bought copy after copy to give out. I wish I could feel that sense of needing to connect and share like this book gave me the first time through.

    5. American Gods -- This book was crazy, the battle between what people used to worship and what is worshiped now. Every page turned showed something new and exciting.

    6. Fahrenheit 451 -- This, in my opinion, is the ultimate book lover's book. The passion of the story and struggle that Guy goes through in the story, though, could never be as moving as the first experience.

    7. Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy -- That surprising feeling you get when you realize everyone around you is staring at you because you got lost in a book in public, and have been laughing, hysterically, for way too long and way to loudly, yeah, that only happens once. At least now I will never forget my towel.

    8. Ella Minnow Pea -- It is wonderful to learn about a people that love language as much as the ones in this book and learn how they deal with their way of life falling apart. Every time a new obstacle fell I knew I would be at a loss, but Ella always found a way to continue.

    9. Memoirs of a Geisha -- This life is breath taking. I thought it would just disgust me and I would lose interest because this life is one forced upon so many, but this story draws you in and tell the dark, and surprising, very real, light side of being a Geisha.

    10. Forever -- I read this one at the perfect time in my life as well, and it should also be given to young women deciding on the path to take in their lives. It is a bit more mature than AYTG?IM,M and addressed and taught about the time of first love fading and dealing with the on-set of sexual relationships.

    So those are mine. Please tell me about your experiences with these stories or tell me about your unforgettable first times.

    *TBTB Top Ten Tuesday

    Tuesday, October 4, 2011

    Top 11 Book Endings That Left Me With My Mouth Hanging Open*

    1. Unbelievable (PLL, #4) -- Four girls, Four Books, Bad guy revealed as promised.... then the announcement of more? why?

    2. Mostly Harmless -- Is this the question? Is this the answer? Is this the end? Has the whole world gone crazy or just me?
    3. Rival -- It was so great it sparked an interest in Opera for me, then in the end it just fell apart.**
    4. The Liar Society -- I thought the end of this would be more exciting and less predictable.  Kate wasn't as strong or as smart at the end as she was in the rest of the story. BUT I have no idea what's coming next and am still intrigued enough to find out. I guess that's what mystery writers are really aiming for. I've got to say though, I'm not hungry for the next installment, just curious what will happen next. ***
    Not exactly the end, but close... Most Surprising Apexes
    5. Looking For Alaska -- It just knocked me off my feet. I don't know what I was expecting but this story slammed into me at one point and I never recovered (read it, you'll understand).
    6. Animal Farm -- A fight for rights.. and then, WTF, side swiped by strikes for power instead of equality.
    With these last ones the whole book was a shocker

    7. The Safety of Objects -- The secrets of the subarbs, and wow! they are dark.
    8. Haunted -- Survival and secrets, I wanted to hide for people when I finished this one, be careful with it.
    9. Candide -- Talk about bad luck! This guy has got it in spades. And the things that happen are so crazy it's hard to believe this is a classic, there is definitely nothing proper about it.
    10. Flowers For Algernon -- Science can do anything, and life is so much better when you're smarter, right? And then so sad...
    11. Angels and Demons -- Bom, Bang, Pow, all action and riddles, and awesome.
    *TBTB Top Ten Tuesday
    ** Read my review here
    *** I have 11 this week because I finished this right after compiling the 10.

    Tuesday, September 27, 2011

    Ten I Want To Reread*

    1. White Oleander -- One I've had as a favorite for many years but have never re-read.

    2. Perks of Being a Wallflower -- Another favorite. One I think everyone should read. I think I should re-read to write a review.

    3. Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes -- I need to re-read so I can read the sequel.

    4. The Scarlet Letter -- I rushed through this during High School, but remember there was something to be learned from it. I have to re-read to refresh this.

    5. Ella Enchanted -- The movie wasn't anything like I remembered the book being. I need to re-read this to see if I'm missing a story in my reading history or the movie left a lot out.

    6. Sloppy Firsts -- I need to reacquaint myself with Mr. Flutie and Jessica Darling so that I can finish the series.

    7. Black Beauty -- This was one of my first chapter books as a kid. I remember loving it so much I read it over and over in First Grade. But... that's about all I remember. I need to remind myself why I was enamoured.

    8. Candide -- One of my favorite classics. It was witty, funny, and TRAGIC. (I think that's a great combination for a classic.) BUT, it was quick, ultra quick, and the details have all slipped away.

    9. Crank -- For a while I was on a verse-novel kick and I want to know if I liked this because it was as moving as I remember or it was just part of my youthful obsession with sad poetry and verse.

    10. Twilight -- I don't care what anyone says. This series is wonderful because it is full of love and a wonderful escape which I read whenever I need a break. The details of writing quality or the obsessive nature of the love is breaking down the pieces of something that is only wonderful as a whole. Twilight series is just like a caramel frappuccino: it isn't exactly good for you, it is an indulgence, a delicious treat, and everyone needs that every once and a while.

    *TBTB Top Ten Tuesday

    Sunday, September 25, 2011

    Olive Garden

    Hi, I have spent 5 hours cooking today! I am taking a break now then probably cleaning for another two. Anyhow I wanted to share this.

    Did you guys know that Olive Garden's website has some of there long standing recipes listed?
    Well this is their recipe for the Chicken Milanese sauce. It is very popular with my guy even though theres spinach in it!
    I love this sauce, a couple tweeks I do though: all roasted garlic, no tomatoes (he wouldn't go for that), and twice the spinach. Try it it's delicious.


    ½ cup butter, unsalted

    4 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 Tbsp)

    1 cup white wine

    1/4 cup all-purpose flour

    1 cup chicken broth

    1 cup heavy cream

    1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

    ¼ tsp black pepper, to taste

    ½ tsp salt

    8 cherry tomatoes, halved

    ¼ cup spinach, chopped

    8 roasted garlic cloves, minced (or 4 Tbsp)

    MELT butter in sauce pan over medium heat.

    ADD minced garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add flour and stir well until well-blended.

    ADD white wine, chicken broth, heavy cream and cheese. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture starts to thicken.

    ADD roasted garlic, pepper and salt. Stir until well blended.

    ADD tomatoes and spinach to sauce and allow to simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Ten Everybody Else Has Read, but I Haven't*

    I am only including books I haven't read YET. All of these are on my TBR list, although some of them for years.

    Stealing these from TBTB Kelly because my Highschool didn't assign them either:
    1. The Catcher In The Rye
    2. The Great Gadsby
    Also never assigned:
    3. To Kill a Mockingbird

    The big one everyone's on about now:
    4. The Hunger Games

    5. The Liar's Society
    Debut Authors 2011, I loved these ladies blog tour. Of course, all the hosting blogs raved about the book but I had already choosen my challenge list so I added it to the never-ending TBR pile.

    The reveal that is going to shock everyone:
    6. Any Jane Austen

    7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
    I'm seeing reference to this a lot but I still don't know anything about it except it has a great title. Not sure if I want to read this one.

    Alright, well I am getting settled in my new place and can't think of any others at the moment.
    *TBTB Top Ten Tuesday

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    Ten Recommended by Bloggers*

    Before I read Book Blogs I was a part of the BookDivas forum. The BookDivas gave me an outlet for my bookish ways and introduced me to the internet world of relationships bonded in bookish-nish. They introduced me to great books, great book challenges, and as a result the book blogger community. So I wanted to add the great books they led me to.

    1. The Pretty Little Liars Series by Sara Shepard -- Somewhat of a guilty pleasure for me, I guess the secret is out now though. (I stopped after number four though because I didn't like the plot twist at the end. The series should have ended there, I think.)
    2. The Gemma Doyle Series by Libba Bray -- The best fantasy I've come across. I was so swept up in these. Thank you Libba Bray, you are a queen of literature.

    3. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold-- If you haven't read this you should, enough said.
    4. Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson-- Was so much fun I soon after got addicted to Maureen Johnson. I've read a few more wonderful books she wrote and her blog (and coresponding posts about her post-it obession) is golden.

    5. Finding Alaska by John Green-- I read on the recomendation of Maureen Johnson. John Green deserves every award he recieved for this. Finding Alaska was beautiful and shocking and inpacting. This is a don't miss book.

    Also from Maureen and the BookDivas I was introduced to The Story Siren's epic yearly challenge that encourages us to support debuting authors. The Debut YA/MG Author Challenge has introduced me to some great books. I fully believe in supporting authors and keeping the book world supplying me with wonderous new reading options so I buy all my books new. This challenge has it all for me: a goal (12 debuts per year), a cause I love, and a huge selection of new writers to get exposed to. Through it I've found and loved:

    6. You Are So Undead To Me by Stacey Jay (March 2009) -- I bought this one night and started reading it after dinner.  It was the perfect dessert. I couldn't sleep until I engulfed every bite.

    7. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (March 2010) -- It starts out like Groundhog Day, but stick with it it's worthit. In fact read my review.

    8. Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky (May 2011) -- This is a book I wish I wrote. I am actually in the middle of it but being in the technology feild I wish I could see more technology that works for us to bring us together instead of pulling us apart.

    9. Divergent by Veronica Roth (May 2011) -- Wonderful take on dystopia. Great twists and beautiful word play. This was another one I couldn't put down.

    AND this book was so promoted I thought it was too good to be true. The hype was rightly deserved. So thank you to all book bloggers for recommending

    10. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

    *TBTB Top Ten Tuesday

    Saturday, September 3, 2011

    Buggy Bites

    I recently learned that many shiny American candies are coated in secretions from the Lac Beetle and dyed red by crushing the carcasses of yet another bug, the Dactylopius coccus, ice cream filler is sometimes made of human hair, ground beef has up to 15 percent pink slime* and my canned tomato sauce most likely has at least 3 maggots inside. All of this is legal by the FDA standards. Not only is this allowed, none of it has to be on the label because practices are classified as natural flavors, preparations, or unavoidable defects.

    Now, in response to this I feel a little sick and a lot grateful to the people who gathered this knowledge and honestly reported it. I am also a little surprised by the other responses to this heresy. The majority of the comments to this reporter were indifferent to the food industry’s omissions and instead attacked the article’s author. They called the author a “germaphobe”**. Commenters stated that these practices were ok because these are the standards we’ve had for food for years in the USA, and the government continues to claim that this “food” is safe.

    I began to comfort myself by saying I could change my own eating habits, and ignore these indifferent eaters. Then I thought about my job. I will soon graduate and start a career with Intel. I will work in one of their Fabs***. I will go in everyday and cover my street clothes with a clean-suit complete with hair and face mask, and booties. I will work in treated air so purified that no dust dare disturb the environment. We have spent and spent to build these facilities clean because we have accepted that a speck of dust can corrode and destroy a computer chip. We build technology in all this safety, but in the substance that sustains us we accept “Levels of Natural or Unavoidable Defects in Foods”. We accept this statement of no health hazard in the midst of a health epidemic and the proposal that these defects are unavoidable when we won’t let dust disturb our electronic parts. Why do we accept this conflicting information? Aren’t the things we eat more important than the things we work on and play with? How can we expect to produce at our greatest potential without fueling our brains and bodies with the highest quality of pure sustenance?

    * See this article http://www.alternet.org/environment/144904/yummy!_ammonia-treated_pink_slime_now_in_most_u.s._ground_beef/?page=1 for the 4-1-1 on this microbe infested, ammonia treated mess.


    ***A fabrication plant for making silicon chips

    Sunday, June 12, 2011


    I have been doing a lot of cooking lately but today instead of a recipe I want to talk about garlic. Now I have always loved garlic and known it has health properties that match its wonderful taste. I have put garlic in most every savory dish I have prepared for years but until last month I had always just minced and added it to the dish as it cooked. So what this all is leading to is my discovery of the versatility and smooth, slightly more subtle, flavor of roasted garlic.

    Roasted garlic works better blended in sauces, it is spreadable on bread, and its subtlety makes it easier to deal with because it’s not too strong to be eaten in larger pieces which can be easily tossed in to accent any meat. Also roasted garlic is already cooked so if you decide a dish is missing something you can toss it in without adding to cook time.

    Best of all it’s easy and stays good for at least two weeks. (I bake 3 bulbs at a time, so they haven’t lasted long enough to go bad)


    1. Peel off extra skin, you want the bulb to stay together but the extra papery outer layers of skin can lead to burning.

    2. Cut off tips of each clove, again to avoid burning.

    3. Rub bulbs with just enough olive oil to cover.

    4. Wrap individual bulbs in foil.

    5. Place on cookie sheet or in muffin tin and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes*.

    *You should check the bulbs at 30 minutes. I use an older and slightly unreliable oven so cooking varies. After 30 minutes the bulbs are pretty well roasted but not quite tender enough for spreading on bread, especially the center cloves.

    Saturday, June 11, 2011

    Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

    What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

    Samantha Kingston has it all: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.

    Instead, it turns out to be her last.

    Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

    (Synopsis from GoodReads.com)

    1. This is a coming of age story with wonderful character growth. There is the twist that all the growth occurs after death.

    2. The writing starts off very dry and straightforward. There are very concise, well formed sentences. Very school-like writing; it lacks much style. The writing grows with the character.

    3. The character starts off very typical. Sam is popular and fits in very comfortable to her suburban life. She’s aware of it, she likes the predictable nature of her days, hell, she worked hard for them. The character, the world she lives in, and the writing all start off pretty plain. The premise of a last day being relived over and over is what keeps one reading. The author, through Samantha’s internal monologue, even makes reference to the very “Groundhog Day” plot when the repeating begins. But it’s good that one keeps reading, because the story becomes its own. Little Samantha Kingston, who went along with the way things just go, learns a lot of worthy lessons and they are definitely worth going through with her.

    4. I recommend this to anyone trying to making it though the world. This book contains some great revelations, and, if you’ve learned the lessons before, some great reminders. It isn’t one of the best books in the world, like is being said in some YA circles right now, but it’s pretty great.

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    A Better Pot Pie?

    Today I attempted a pot pie that still has all the comfort of what you buy in the store but with better flavor.

    • Stew meat (marinated in Worchester sauce over night to make more tender and juicy.)

    • ½ onion

    • 5 carrots

    • 4 stalks celery

    • 1 cup peas

    • ½ cup broth

    • ½ cup wine

    • ½ cup cream

    • Thyme

    • Flour for thickening (about 1 ½ tablespoon)

    • 2 pie crusts (9 inch)

    • Butter

    • Garlic Powder


    Slice onions extra thin and throw in a pan on low with butter for a quick sweat.

    In a pot boil carrots and celery in broth.

    Heat a pan to med- high with just enough olive oil to cover bottom. Sprinkle meat with S/P, garlic powder and thyme, throw in pot and sear on all sides. Turn down to low and cover with wine, let it simmer. Once onions are cooked down throw them in with meat.

    Drain broth from vegetables and save.

    Mix vegetables (add peas now) with meat and pour into pie crust.

    On low mix broth, wine drenched meat crispies and cream, thicken with flour, cook together and pour on pie. Cover with other crust and bake at 400 until crust is golden.

    What really happened:

    1. It took me 1 ½ hours to get everything in the pie, and 25 min to bake, but I tend to move slower than most people, and this was the first time I made anything like this.

    2. Someone threw out my thyme so I used a little parsley and very little rosemary.

    3. Only half the ingredients fit in the pie.


    • I loved it. I have always picked around the unsavory bits of the store bought kind. Though, next time I will change one thing. The stew meat I bought had about 2 pounds of meat, next time I’ll change that for ¾ - 1 pound. This should allow everything to fit and be creamier by using the same amount of liquid.

    • The boyfriend complained that if only there were more salt it would be perfect. The cream and wine (I used a Riesling*) do make it a bit sweet, if you don’t like that add a bit of S/P to the sauce when you mix it up. I just brought him the shakers and enjoyed as is.

    I paid $7.22 for the pie (without the half the filling that went in the freezer and will make another pie, also I already had wine, frozen peas, butter, flour and seasonings) which made 4 servings at $1.805, exactly.

    Now that I’m done writing this I am going back for seconds!

    * I don’t know how red would taste as I don’t drink red so I never have it around.

    Sunday, April 3, 2011

    Review: Anna And The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

    Review: Anna and the French Kiss

    This is the tale of Anna's senior year of high school. One in which she is ripped away from her friends, mother, and little brother, by her pompous, nouveau riche father.

    Anna's father has become a famous writer (of sappy love stories with tragic twists*) who decides that his new position gives him the right to up-root his daughter and send her to boarding school in France.

    Anna is completely against this until she meets Etienne, a boy that will show her Paris has everything she ever wanted waiting right outside her door.

    1. This is a first true love story. And of course the characters all discover things about themselves during the journey, which is an aspect all the best stories have.

    2. The Author’s sentencing is short and direct and expresses a eighteen-year-old’s journey very well.

    I loved this story AND I Loved the ending. There are very few novels that I love but also agree the story ended well. This is one of those novels that didn’t leave me wanting. Even though this is a great story with characters that will stay with me, I didn’t wish for a sequel, Ms. Perkins’ story is complete in itself.

    The only thing I did not like about the story was the barrage of internal thoughts. Anna spent more time in her head than any journal novel I’ve ever read. Sometimes she narrated like a journalist, but mostly she said things to herself that should have been stated out loud. Often the things she said to herself fit so much better into the conversation than the things she actually ends up saying, but even worse there are times when she thinks something to herself then writes, and so I said so…. What is that? Anyway, one annoyance doesn’t ruin the story, because this story is too fantastic.

    3. We’ve all seen Paris**, we know the architecture is something to be wowed at, the history is worth waiting in lengthy lines to see, and the scenery will leave you breathless. But The Food is what places this story. I didn’t think someone could make French cuisine sound so good. I am definitely a foodie, and I am not ashamed to say I have been mesmerized by pictures, stories and imitations of French food before. But Stephanie takes this to a whole new level, from Anna’s first grape bath to the drippy cheesy Panini and on and on, with all Paris has to offer after reading this novel I believe I would spend an entire trip to Paris eating and ignoring the beautiful scenery. The scenery in the book was indescribably awesome, but the food was described the way all great food should be. This food made the world Anna moved into.

    4. I recommend this story to EVERYONE. O.K. it might be a little mushy for some, but anyone who loves love, Paris, food and/or life lessons.

    * For those of you who have read the book already… I don’t want to point fingers or name names… but, does the description of Anna’s father remind anyone of a certain Real Life author. Or is it just me…

    ** At least in Pictures

    Tuesday, March 29, 2011

    Review: Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer*

    What if your worst enemy turned out to be the best friend you ever had?
    Meet Brooke: Popular, powerful and hating every minute of it, she’s the “It” girl at Douglas High in Lake Champion, Minnesota. Her real ambition? Using her operatic mezzo as a ticket back to NYC, where her family lived before her dad ran off with an up and coming male movie star.
    Now meet Kathryn: An overachieving soprano with an underachieving savings account, she’s been a leper ever since Brooke punched her at a party junior year. For Kath, music is the key to a much-needed college scholarship.
    The stage is set for a high-stakes duet between the two seniors as they prepare for the prestigious Blackmore competition. Brooke and Kathryn work toward the Blackmore with eyes not just on first prize but on one another, each still stinging from a past that started with friendship and ended in betrayal. With competition day nearing, Brooke dreams of escaping the in-crowd for life as a professional singer, but her scheming BFF Chloe has other plans. And when Kathryn gets an unlikely invitation to Homecoming, she suspects Brooke of trying to sabotage her with one last public humiliation.
    As pressures mount, Brooke starts to sense that the person she hates most might just be the best friend she ever had. But Kathryn has a decision to make. Can she forgive? Or are some rivalries for life?
    The Good Reads Summery is better than any I could come up with.

    1. This is a simple story about friendship; how they begin, why they get messed up, and if they can be repaired. There is no big revelation, just the gentle passing of time beautifully told.

    2. Amazingly, this first time author accomplished four fully formed voices in this debut. Her characters were unique from one another and their pasts selves had no seeping knowledge from the present. The story telling, with the exception of the ending chapters, was fluid and engaging. The characters embedded themselves in me, girls I feel I could know, could connect with, and could miss.

    What happened to the end of this story?! All the build-up, the beautiful character growth, and flash-backs for developing history. All this slow reveal. Then it just ends flat… everything is over.

    Spoiler Spoiler Spoiler !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    After all the build up and getting to know these girls and their feud and their past the book draws to a quick end. “I’m so sorry.” “No, you deserve your success. I’m not mad anymore.” “Awesome! See you at the diner after this?” “Yeah? sure.” The End.

    What kind of ending is that?

    Spoiler over!!!!!!! Spoiler over!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    3. This book had such wonderful set-up, beautiful blending of past and present even with two voices switching every other chapter. The writing was precise and intriguing. The story made opera** so enticing I found myself looking up performances of mentioned pieces on YOUTUBE.

    4. I don’t know who to recommend this to. The Book was so great I wanted to recommend it to everyone… then I hit that last section. Those five short chapters were such a let down. So I guess, I recommend it to people with excess time. Anyone with sparse time, that can only pick a few books a year maybe skip this one. Unfortunately, no matter how beautiful a writer without a conclusion this is not a story.

    * This is a 2011 Debut Author Challenge book, go to http://www.thestorysiren.com/2011/03/2011-debut-author-challenge-march.html for more information about Debut Authors in 2011.

    ** Not a previous passion of mine.

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Review: The Latte Rebellion By Sarah Jamila Stevenson*

    Asha is a mixed-race high school senior with creative ambitions. When she is insulted at an Asian- American pool party she remembers all the times people have blindly mistaken her for anything but her mutt mix of Irish, Mexican, and Indian. She realizes she doesn’t feel comfortable identifying with any one part of her heritage, and more than that her heritage is just a small part of her.

    Asha sparks on an idea. She, and many of her friends, are all mixed up. They are just like Asha’s favorite drink; they are lattes. Asha enlists the help of her best friend to start a business selling a t-shirt to the lattes of the world that unites people in a new way. The money is to be used for a well deserved break between high school and college.

    Asha never could have predicted it but her t-shirts open the door for something so much bigger than sharing a little awareness with the world while making a few bucks. It turns out many mixed race Americans needed an outlet to let their voices be heard. Lattes are the present, Lattes are strong, and Lattes are mixed up to be more than the sum of their parts, and they come in endless blends. The Lattes are tired of being dismissed as less, or addressed as diluted, when they offer so much more. A mix of cultural backgrounds, and a heightened social awareness, put Lattes in the position to be huge contributors to society and they want to make themselves known with The Latte Rebellion.

    1. This is a coming of age story with a feminine point of view. It has all the elements, growing up, giving up some things from childhood, self-realization, and a little love-interest. With the added bonus of it being wrapped in social awareness, involvement, and making a positive difference.

    2. The writing seems young like the author’s style is still evolving. But the story is engaging. It builds and grows along with the main character, Asha.

    3. The author makes her character realistic. She shows a girl getting ready for college. She doesn’t concentrate much on the setting, which is California, but rather the things that come up in Asha’s world. As this story is about a college bound young woman, with a lot on her plate (and, as humans we can become quite self centered.), the true setting is Asha’s mind. This is very realistic and executed beautifully; I didn’t miss not connecting with a world because I felt very connected to Asha.

    4. This story is wonderful. It starts off a little silly, then journeys through some hardships, and ends up giving great example of how to handle the unexpected. I recommend it to anyone who is going through a big life change; such as starting college or leaving college for their “first real job”. Also to anyone who likes stories about young women growing into themselves and realizing their strength and potential.

    *This is a 2011 Debut Author Challenge book, go to http://www.thestorysiren.com/2011/03/2011-debut-author-challenge-march.html for more information about Debut Authors in 2011.

    Sunday, March 13, 2011

    Review: Fairyopolis Presented By Frederick Warner and Co

    Fairyopolis is a cute little book full of tiny treasures and fairy lore.

    1. This is an interactive journal with tiny notes to discover and pretty watercolor paintings and sketches.

    2. The writing is very simple and strait forward. This makes the journal seem very real.

    3. This is a very short book, but the pictures are beautiful and so is the fairy inquiry.

    4. This book is great for people who want to know more about fairy lore. This book has great tidbits from theories and sightings around the world. Good for anyone who loves fairies and mythology.

    Book Reviews

    I have realized over and over again in my life how powerful words can be. I use this realization to encourage myself to read as much as I can in my spare time. And I don’t have a lot of free time. But I have challenged myself to read two books a month this year. To some this may seem like a lot of books, but to look at the span of intriguing summaries that cross my path , 24 books in a year is a small feat*.
    This discovery led to another. This next discovery was slightly more disheartening. I discovered I don’t know a single person, blogger, reviewer, or author who tells me what I would like to know about potential reads. There are reviewers who just state a synopsis and how much they enjoyed the read, and there are reviewers that ruin the story by giving away the juiciest bits, most annoyingly there are reviewers who only offer a English Literature analysis of how the author’s writing does not compare to Dante or Hemingway or whoever their professors tell them is the MOST PROLIFIC WRITER EVER. Also a friend of mine mentioned a growing catastrophe - book reviews by people who have not read the book yet, they just like the summery or the cover art – these make me feel a little violent.
    So as great minds say, if you want something that hasn’t been invented you must create it yourself. I will be submitting reviews that include the things I wish I saw in reviews:  
                What it’s all about (Summery) PLUS
                1. Type of story
                2. Quality of writing
                3. Imagery (Does the author make the world real)
                4. Story Worth (And who should read it)
    Hopefully someone will find this helpful and help them discover some great stories or ignore some less than hot ones.
    *Yet I guarantee I didn’t finish that many titles last year.