March 30, 2013

March update: Sun!

This month as described by My Little Pony:
For once, it's actually becoming spring in western Washington. In March. I'm a winter girl, but I love me some 70 degree sun.

Some Happenigs:
- Met Erika
Erika of Rescue Reads and her family were visiting Seattle, so I got to hang out with her for a couple hours. Yay for meeting bloggers IRL!
- I eat oatmeal now
Here's the deal: I've always hated oatmeal. Occasionally I'd get a craving for it so I'd make some, eat two bites, then give it to someone else because it turned out, yes, I did still hate oatmeal. This month, though, we had a crap-ton of it around the house, so I decided "it's healthy, so what the hey." And I didn't hate it! (Yes, this counts as an event in my month.)

Still working on this one.
-Acquired 2 new bookshelves
When we moved in I had one rinky dink bookshelf. It filled up quickly. Then I got a bigger one and somehow managed to fill #1 up with so much crap there wasn't any room for books anymore so bookshelf #2 filled quickly. I even stacked extra books all the way to the ceiling from the top of #2. So, as you ca see, new bookshelves were necessary. Sadly, I now have no more room for bookshelves.

- Dark Days stop
There isn't enough room to
take proper pictures.

Sadly, I didn't get any pictures (there were a lot of people,) but I had a really good time. Claudia Gray, Debra Driza, Dan Wells, Kiersten White, and Lauren Oliver were all in attendance, and I'm not going to lie, they were all kind of hilarious.

- Decided to start taking care of my skin.
Which basically means that I spent about $100 on products in one day.

- Had an interview, didn't get it
And in disappointing news, I had an interview with Seattle's biggest indie and didn't get it. Still, I'm happy to have gotten an interview at such a great place.

Some current favorites:
Music: I was on a Youtube kick this month, so we have:

Show(s): The anime of the month was Aquarion. Basically, it's about a futuristic world ruled by winged creatures and the teens who use mecha to defeat them and take back the Earth. It's not the best thing ever, but I did get really invested in the characters and their relationships.
90210. Sort of. Kind of. I decided to watch the 2 1/2 seasons I've missed, but I found myself really frustrated with the stupidity of the characters. Yet, I couldn't stop watching partly because it's hard to stop and partly because I feel obligated to finish since it ends this year.

Movie: The Legend of the Guardians

Book(s): Also Known As by Robin Benway, The Fellowship for Alien Detection by Kevin Emerson, and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Know Me Better #4

While doing the Book Bloger Love-A-Thon I came across I Am a Reader Not a Writer's Know Me Better feature through someone's blog and thought "perfect!" So, here we are with me sharing more little tidbits about myself (I know, you all find me fascinating.) I'm just going to start with the first post she did and work my way up from there. Sound good?

If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose?
I guess I don't really have one. I suck at meeting people. I'm all awkward and I get super anxious.

Chocolate or Vanilla?
It depends, I suppose. But if we're going chocolate then it has to be dark and if it's vanilla then I'd prefer vanilla bean.

What do you do in your free time? 
Read, binge watch tv shows and anime, and. . . I don't even know. The internet eats all my time.

What movie are you looking forward to this year?
Now You See It (I believe that's the title). Jesse Eisenberg and magic all in one movie? Yes, I am so there. Also, the second Percy Jackson movie. I'm aware the first one kind of sucked, but I can't say no to Percy Jackson and Logan Lerman.

Spontaneity or Planning Ahead?
I cannot stress this enough: Planning ahead.

March 28, 2013

Genie Wishes by Elisabeth Dahl {Review}

Publisher: Amulet Books
Publish Date: April 2, 2013
Source: ALA for honest review
Pages: 288
Series: No
Rating: Miss
This sweet, funny novel follows fifth-grader Genie Kunkle through a tumultuous year. From the first day of school, Genie knows there will be good, bad, and in-between. The good? She’s in homeroom with her best friend, Sarah. The bad? Sarah’s friend from camp, Blair, is a new student at their school, and is itching to take Genie’s place as Sarah’s BFF. The in-between? Genie is excited to be elected to write her class’s blog, where she’s tasked with tracking the wishes and dreams of her class. But expressing her opinion in public can be scary—especially when her opinion might make the rest of her class upset.
I may have liked Genie Wishes when I was Genie's age, but I just couldn't get into it. That being said, I didn't particularly dislike it, I just couldn't connect with the characters or their problems.
First of all, I found the writing style to be a little distant. It felt more like a documentation of events from a neutral third-party than a young girl's personal journey and growth through her fifth grade year. When I read I story I want to feel like I'm right there with the characters, like their hurt and happiness is mine as well, and I just didn't feel that for Genie despite the fact that I've been through the difficult friend change process myself many times.

There were a lot of characters. So many, in fact, that I had some trouble keeping them all apart. Now, a large cast of characters can work if you flesh them out well enough, but I barely got a feel for Genie let alone the rest of her class.

I think I'm probably getting old because I can't remember any of these puberty things happening when I was ten. Do guys really go around snapping girls' bras? This never happened in my class, at any point in time, but do have any of you experienced it? Also, is it really that completely obvious when a girl starts wearing a bra? Maybe I just didn't notice these things, but I'd like to think all the boys in my class didn't immediately notice I was now a proud member of the Bra Wearing Club on the first day. Feel free to correct me down in the comments, though, guys :]

One thing I did appreciate about Genie Wishes was the way it eased into things. Nothing happened all at once. Instead of some big fight with her best friend, Genie just started drifting apart from her. I slowly noticed some change in Genie as she went through the year.
On the other side of that coin, though, is the lack of a clear plot structure. Everything just kind of blended together for me. I couldn't identify a beginning, a middle, and an end. Things were randomly introduced to the story and then never really end up having a purpose or resolution, such as the stray dog, Lulu, and Genie's dad starting to date.
The Nutshell: I recommend Genie Wishes for younger readers who are looking for a story about a girl going through a normal year of school dealing with similar things they might be dealing with. Personally, I couldn't connect with the story or get into the writing style, but that doesn't mean someone else might not enjoy it!

March 27, 2013

Cover Lover {71}

Of course we all know you should never judge a book by its cover, but do we ever really listen to that?
Cover Lover showcases eye catching, intriguing, and beautiful covers.

This week's Cover Lover goes to Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger
Publish Date: March 5th, 2013
Just look at it! I like that the couple is a little out of focus and that they aren't the overall focus. The title is bold and in your face, but in a way that would definitely make me pick it up without knowing anything about it. The backdrop of the fluffy clouds and orange hue manages to be both bold and subtle. 

March 26, 2013

Firmoo review

A little bit ago I had the opportunity to review a pair of glasses from Firmoo. Firmoo is a great website for those of us who like having good looking glasses but don't want to shell out a couple hundred for a pair. They have a wide variety of styles and colors to choose from and most frames are under $50. Plus, they have a First Pair Free program! All you have to do is pay for shipping.

I do not picture well, sorry, guys.

You can find the glasses I reviewed here.
Firstly, the things I like:
- I got the glasses within 10 days (since mine were specifically for review, I'm unsure if it makes a difference) which is a fair amount of time glasses making and shipping, in my opinion.
- The frames are light weight. I don't really feel them while they're on which I can't say for my other pair (different source altogether.)
- The virtual try-on system on the website is good to get an idea of how the frames will look on your face.

But then there were a few things I wasn't such a fan of:
- The plastic nosepads seem a bit unnecessary and bothersome. They pulls on the skin at the corner of my eyes making me constantly adjust due to discomfort.
- There's already a small scratch on one of the lenses after about two days of wear. Granted, I seem to have issues with lenses, or else, always have cheap ones.
- The virtual try-on service can be a bit off if your picture doesn't work with the specs which still puts a bit of the guessing game in your glasses buying experience.

March 23, 2013

Know Me Better #3

While doing the Book Bloger Love-A-Thon I came across I Am a Reader Not a Writer's Know Me Better feature through someone's blog and thought "perfect!" So, here we are with me sharing more little tidbits about myself (I know, you all find me fascinating.) I'm just going to start with the first post she did and work my way up from there. Sound good?

If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
Future! I don't think I'd want to stay there or anything, but I'd love to see what kind of technology and advancements we've made. Oh, also, it's not called a Time Machine, it's a TARDIS ;]


What was your favorite children's book?
The Phantom Tollbooth

If you were a super hero what would your kryptonite be?
Onions. Or spiders.
Don't laugh at me :P

Hot or Cold?

March 21, 2013

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger {Review}

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: February 5, 2013
Source: ALA for honest review
Pages: 307
Series: Finishing School #1
Rating: Near Miss/Hit
It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy properly and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners--and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geralidine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.
But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine's , young ladies learn to finish. . .everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage--in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education.
While I found Etiquette & Espionage to be a rather slow read, it had it's cute moments and I look forward to reading about Sophronia's future adventures.

Let's start with the things I wasn't such a fan of.

Things move incredibly slowly and the plot isn't all that engaging. Sure, there's the larger plot with secretive things going on meant to keep the reader curious, but it didn't really do much for me. The bigger plot point seemed to be Sophronia's growth in finishing school. I enjoyed watching Sophronia make friends and grow a little more, but I spent the majority of the book waiting for some bigger plot point to present itself. I think I might have enjoyed Etiquette & Espionage had I gone in with different expectations.

As I said before, while I did find myself enjoying Sophronia and her friends' day-to-day school life, the entire book felt like one big introduction. To be fair, this is the first book in a series, but I generally want to be sucked into the initial story in order to make me continue on with the series. Etiquette & Espionage only just managed to catch my interest.

The crazy names got to me at first, but I did end up growing used to them.

Now onto more positive things!

Is it bad if my absolute favorite thing about the story was Bumbersnoot? Bumbersnoot is a little mechanical dog who happens to have a lot of personality considering he's a machine. He's just so stinkin' adorable with his storage compartment and mini-furnace. What's not to love about a little dog who can store things for you as well as burn up evidence?

The characters of Etiquette & Espionage are all pretty diverse, and I definitely have some favorites, so I'll just talk about those since there's quite the cast.

Sophronia: I like that Sophronia grew as a person and a lady, but still kept hold of her true self. Sure, she starts learning what dresses to wear and how to act in the presence of men, but she also enjoys the company of the low-class Sooties and doesn't shun them for their lot in life.

Dimity: I found Dimity to be a bit annoying in the beginning. She seems to honestly only care about dresses and pretty things, when it comes down to it, though, she's a great friend to Sophronia.

Soap: Soap is basically awesome. He's a Sootie who immediately takes a liking to Sophronia and steals my heart as well. He has this air of happiness around him that's a bit infectious. He doesn't take himself too seriously, but is still a perfect gentleman. Basically, I ship Sophronia and Soap ;]

Professor Braithwope: I'm not exactly sure what it is about him, but I quite like him. Maybe it's that he's a slightly quirky vampire with gentlemanly ways. Plus, he seems to be the nicest of the professors.
The Nutshell: I found Etiquette & Espionage to be a slow read mainly focused on setting up the rest of the series, but still enjoyable. If you go into it expecting a bit of a slow story with a main focus on school life then you'll likely enjoy Etiquette & Espionage!

March 18, 2013

Friends, I have a confession

I am a terrible library patron.
There, I said it.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love my library. See, I even got one of the new cards that just came out this year:

I'm not on the blacklist or anything, but I have a terrible habit of collecting fines. I'm not just talking 50 cents or a couple bucks either. I currently have about $12 in fines and I just paid $4 towards it less than 2 weeks ago!

At my library, once you have $15 in fines you can no longer check anything out. Before I paid that $4 bucks towards it? Yeah, I had $14.25. I know, I know.
Rainbow Dash is disappointed in me.

The problem is that I check out all these books (I usually have around 25-30 out at one time) and then I have to read review books or want to read a book off my shelf or what have you and they just collect dust on my bookshelf. BUT, I still want to read them. So, I keep them :P

Also, I'm not going to lie, sometimes I'm just too lazy to take the 30 minute walk to the library to drop stuff off...

The funny thing is, I usually do read a good chunk of them. The 25 cents a day fine can really add up, though.

But I'm supporting the library, right? Right?

What about you guys? Do you use your library much? Do you rack up fines or do you always return on time?

And here's something completely unrelated just because.
(Also, I don't even have a tumblr but it ate me while I was looking for other images for this post.)
I find this amusing.
(I got it from tumblr and I don't entirely know how
to source it, sorry.)

March 17, 2013

The Fellowship for Alien Detection by Kevin Emerson {Review}

Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Publish Date: February 26, 2013
Source: ALA for honest review
Pages: 432
Series: No
Rating: Direct Hit
Two kids from opposite ends of the country find themselves on a road trip to save the world from an impending alien attack - and bolster their middle-school transcripts in the process.
First came the missing people, missing time events, and untraceable radio signals. Then came Juliette, Arizona, a town that simply disappeared from existence. Suffice it to say, something strange is going on. Enter Haley and Dodger, two kids from opposite sides of the country who both think they can prove that these unexplained phenomena have a very real cause: aliens, and they are about to discover that their fledgling theories about extraterrestrial life are one-hundred-percent accurate.
Having each been awarded a Fellowship for Alien Detection (a grant from a mysterious foundation dedicated to proving aliens have visited earth), Haley and Dodger and their families each set off on a cross-country trip over summer vacation to figure out what is happening to figure out what is happening in towns across America. They soon realize that answers to many of their questions lie in the vanished town of Juliette, AZ, but someone, or something, is doing everything in its power to ensure they never reach it. If Haley and Dodger don't act quickly, more people may go missing, and the world as we know it may change for the worse.
The Fellowship for Alien Detection is the kind of book that reaffirms my love for middle grade. There's adventure, interesting characters, and best of all: aliens.

I like that The Fellowship is told from both Haley and Dodgers point of view for many reasons. 1) Having the point of view of both a boy and a girl makes the story more well-rounded and gives a draw for both genders, 2) it adds more to the mystery since you start out with Haley's side of the story then get Dodger's so the two sides of the story end up coming together to create one (mostly) complete picture, and 3) Haley and Dodger's lives are really different so you get quite a few different dynamics like academic/doesn't care about school much, close family/awkward&distant family, etc.

The mystery in The Fellowship was fantastic. I was hooked from page one and constantly kept on the edge of my seat trying to fit some answers together. Thankfully, everything was answered by the end, though.

The road trip aspect of the story really added to the element of adventure. Haley and Dodger are running from state to state both in escape and pursuit giving the story that extra little charge that kept me flipping pages and eager to find out what happens next. And not to spoil anything, but does it get much more adventurous than flying in a spaceship?

I enjoyed the undertone of Haley and Dodger discovering who they were and finding their places in the world and the contrast between both characters' journey. Haley thought she'd already had everything figured out but ended up discovering she didn't quite know herself as well as she'd thought. Whereas Dodger had always felt lost and ended up discovering things about his past while also figuring out who he really wanted to be and what he believed in.

I do have one small complaint, though. It seemed everything in the story was brown: brown landscape, brown cows with brown eyes, brown seat covers, brown smells. I swear every time I turned there was some new brown thing being described. Now, I know they were in the desert for a chunk of the story and there are, in fact, many brown things in life, but it's okay to use a little creative freedom to make the cows white or the seat covers blue.
The Nutshell: The Fellowship for Alien Detection is a whirlwind of mystery, adventure, and self-discovery. Haley and Dodger each give their own unique voice and point of view to the story making the adventure and mystery all the more thrilling. If you want an adventure wrapped in a mystery with aliens thrown in for good measure, then try The Fellowship for Alien Detection.

March 16, 2013

Know Me Better #2

While doing the Book Bloger Love-A-Thon I came across I Am a Reader Not a Writer's Know Me Better feature through someone's blog and thought "perfect!" So, here we are with me sharing more little tidbits about myself (I know, you all find me fascinating.) I'm just going to start with the first post she did and work my way up from there. Sound good?

When you were little, what did you want to be when you "grew up"?
The most notable ones I remember are a mail lady, a zoo keeper, and a librarian.

Black or White?

Favorite Food?
Probably mashed potatoes, gravy, and vegetarian meatballs. Especially if they're my mother-in-law's.

You have won one million dollars what is the first thing that you would buy?
Oooh, tough call. Probably a really nice computer. Then a house.

Print or Ebook?
Print, fo sho.

March 14, 2013

Also Known As by Robin Benway {Review}

Pugsy's modeling the old cover.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Juvenile
Publish Date: February 26th, 2013
Source: ALA for honest review
Pages: 320
Series: Doesn't have a name, but there will be a sequel
Rating: Hit
Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super col jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations.
Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She'll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school's security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case. . . all while trying not to blow her cover.
Also Known As is a super cute read. (Has anyone else noticed that I tend to start off my reviews with weird sentences?)

The spy aspect of the story was neat. It didn't feel too over the top and I love that Maggie was all about just picking locks and didn't use a bunch of gadgets and whatnot. It felt way more believable than the the movies that involve lots of rappelling down building sides and acrobatics to avoid lasers. More believable = easier to stay in the story.

The romance is freaking adorable. I love that Jesse and Maggie have their awkward moments, but there's also an ease to their relationship. They make a natural (okay, so he was her assignment, but still) progression from friendly to more than friends, and play off each other well. Jesse is sweet an you can tell he really likes Maggie. He talks openly with her about personal things, but still acts goofy around her. He felt like one of the most realistic YA guys I've read in a while.

Roux and Maggie's relationship is pretty great too. I love that Benway managed to balance a boyfriend relationship and a best friend relationship. Roux and Maggie start off kind of weird since Maggie seems to think she's a bit of a witch and Roux's closed herself off from personal relationships, but they do a good job of helping each other grow. And Roux is fantastic. She's loud and obnoxious, but in a rather endearing way. She's like that one crazy friend we all have.

Angelo is straight-up awesome. I loved every single scene he was in. He's a great mentor to Maggie, and manages to be humorous in an elegant way. Plus, he's not intimidated by Roux which kind of says a lot.

If I had one gripe it would be the overuse of “gonna.” Okay, I totally get that it's what we say instead of “going to” most of the time, but Maggie said it every single time it came up. It really started to drive me insane. You can even ask Jacob, I had a little outburst while reading.
The Nutshell: Also Known As is a cute and quick read. There's some good spy action, but there's a lot of focus on Maggie and her relationships (parents, boyfriend, best friend, etc.) which I found really nice. If you want a cute romance, some action, and a good “realizing who you are” story then Also Known As is your story.

March 13, 2013

Cover Lover {70}

Of course we all know you should never judge a book by its cover, but do we ever really listen to that?
Cover Lover showcases eye catching, intriguing, and beautiful covers.

This week's Cover Lover goes to Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff
Publish Date: April 9, 2013
I just really adore this cover. The colors immediately pull me in so that if I found it on a shelf not knowing what it was about I'd definitely grab it. The trees framing the border give it a little bit of a sinister feel which the bright fairies balance out. Then, of course, there's all the pretty color-changing fog and mysterious silhouette in the tower window. On top of that, the font and placement do a good job of adding a bit of playfulness. 

March 12, 2013

Sequels giveaway!

I have three 2013 sequels up for grabs today! False Sight sequel to False Memory by Dan Krokos, Asunder sequel to Incarnate by Jodi Meadows, and The Elite sequel to The Selection by Kiera Cass.

Fine print:
- Must have U.S. address to enter
- One winner
- Ends March 26

a Rafflecopter giveaway

March 11, 2013

Pivot Point by Kasie West {Review}

Publisher: Harper Teen
Publish Date: February 12, 2013
Source: Publisher for honest review
Pages: 352
Series: Pivot Point #1 (totally didn't think this was a series.)
Rating: Direct Hit
Knowing the outcome doesn't always make a choice easier.Addison Coleman's life is one big "What if?"As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It's the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie's parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with -- her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the "Norms," or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it's not.
In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school -- but she never wanted to be a quarterback's girlfriend. When Addie's father is asked to consult a murder in the Compound, she's unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she's willing to live through. . .and who she can't live without.
This books is just, uhm, wow. It's been a while since I've wanted something as intensely as I did in Pivot Point. I'm perfectly fine to go with the flow of a story, but when you have something to root for it definitely adds to the experience.

Since this is kind of a complicated book let's break it down. Also, it's my blog so I can do it for no reason anyway :P

Two Storyline Aspect
You'd think this would get a little confusing sometimes right? Well, yeah, it actually does sometimes. BUT, it's really not that bad since any confusion gets cleared up pretty fast as the two storylines are really different despite the fact that they contain a lot of the same characters.
At first I didn't really have a favorite. I was kind of leaning towards one, but wasn't particularly rooting for it. By the end, though, I'd not only changed my mind, but was rooting for it hardcore. And then the end happened and I'm still feeling conflicted (also confused. Can someone please explain it to me? Since I know it's a series now, that's unnecessary.)

Pivot Point has an great cast of characters.
Addie isn't exactly always likable, but it's not in an obnoxious way. I mean, she even admits she's whiny. Hey, if you can see your shortcomings then you're a step ahead of most paranormal girl leads. She's not all bad, though, she makes tough decisions when necessary and really cares about her friends.

All the side characters have full personalities and it's great. Addie's best friend never gets shoved to the side like so often happens and she isn't just comic relief. Laila (the BFF) is certainly funny, but that's not all she is. She's a pretty integral part of both storylines.
I loved Rowan. I know he was a little persistent, but it was kind of cute (in a slightly pathetic way.)

So get this, there's two guys, but there is NOT a love triangle. Since the two different guys are in separate futures, they don't even (really) know each other. Therefore, no love triangle just a love choice. And it's all Addie's since no one else knows about the futures she saw. [Sidenote: for those who have read it, the choice was totally unfair.]
The Nutshell: Pivot Point is an incredibly unique story with a great set of characters. If you, like me, see “paranormal” and immediately lose interest, don't fret. It's not your typical paranormal romance. Yes there's paranormal and yes there's romance, but there are no broody, dark guys or wimpy, needy girls. If you're looking for something original that will suck you in and give you something to root for then check out Pivot Point.

March 10, 2013

Have Your Cake and Read it Too {7}

Have Your Cake and Read it Too is a bi-weekly (well, you know, it's supposed to be. I'm working on it.) feature that will take a book and pair it with a food whether it be savory or sweet.

Since the beginning of mankind, civilizations have fallen: the Romans, the Greeks, the Aztecs...and now us. Huge earthquakes rock the world. Cities are destroyed. But something even more awful is happening: An ancient evil has been unleashed, and it's turning everyday people into hunters, killers, and crazies. This is the world Mason, Aries, Clementine, and Michael are living in--or rather, trying to survive. Each is fleeing unspeakable horror, from murderous chaos to brutal natural disasters, and each is traveling the same road in a world gone mad. Amid the throes of the apocalypse and clinging to love and meaning wherever it can be found, these four teens are on a journey into the heart of darkness--and to find each other and a place of safety.


Okay, I know you're probably looking at this right now going "baked beans and....whaaaa?" but it totally makes sense! So, it would actually work in most apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic scenario. Generally The Big Scary Thing happens and then the world starts going to crap: no electricity, nobody doing there job meaning no more goods being manufactured, having to go on the run or hole up in a shelter -- the usual. What happens then? Canned foods become the only reliable food source for a while and beans are a pretty common. See, I told you it would all come together.

Baked Beans
Original recipe from The Woodside Kitchen and modified by me.

2 cups dried navy beans
1 small onion, minced (maybe I haven't told you guys this before, but there will never, ever be onions in any of my recipes. I cannot and will not eat them.)
3 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (You'll probably want to do a little more since mine weren't tangy enough.)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 cup ketchup (I'm not a fan of using ketchup as an ingredient, so I used 2 tbs. tomato paste, but it in a measuring cup, then filled it with water to the 1/2 cup mark.)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup dark brown sugar (I used a little more since I didn't use ketchup, but it still needed more since mine weren't sweet enough. Maybe a 1/2 cup?)

I'm really not a food photographer,
but I wanted you all to see my results and
 I'd rather use my own pics.
Soak the beans overnight in a large pot covered with cold water. In the morning, drain and rinse the beans. In a large pot combine the soaked beans,  minced onion, and enough water to cover the beans by a couple of inches. (You're probably going to want a little more water since mine all boiled away.) Bring the beans to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours until tender, the skin of a bean will break when you blow on it. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Pour the whole pot of beans including liquid into a bean pot or large dutch oven. (Since I don't have either of these I just tossed them in my crock pot.) Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover the pot with a lid or tin foil and bake (I cooked them on high for about 2 hours then moved the setting to low for aother 4.) for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally. Take a peak to make sure there is always enough liquid to cover the beans, adding water if necessary. During the last hour remove the lid and continue baking, this allows any extra water to evaporate. (Hah, my sauce was plenty thick, especially since all the moisture was trapped inside. I'd rather it was thinner anyway.) Leaving you with a thick sauce and amazing baked beans.

March 9, 2013

Know Me Better #1

While doing the Book Bloger Love-A-Thon I came across I Am a Reader Not a Writer's Know Me Better feature through someone's blog and thought perfect! So, here we are with me sharing more little tidbits about myself (I know, you all find me fascinating.) I'm just going to start with the first post she did and work my way up from there. Sound good?

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
I don't eat a lot of ice cream, but when I do I default to simpler things like chocolate chip or coffee.

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
I'm not really a fan of breakfast. I like breakfast foods, I just don't particularly like eating that early. But, if I WAS having breakfast then I'd prefer it to be veg biscuits and gravy with some scrambled eggs.

Night owl, or early bird?
Ha. This isn't even a question.
Always and forever a night owl, though I'm getting better at mornings. Better, being a loose term...

One food you would never eat?
There's plenty of disgusting sounding foods (blood sausage is literally made out of blood), but I like to think I have an open mind about trying new things for the most part.
If you were looking for a more straightforward answer then it'd be meat since I'm vegetarian.

Skittles or M&Ms?
I've never really been a fan of M&Ms, but Skittles make my teeth hurt (hello, 10+ cavities!) so I'd just play it safe with the M&Ms. Anything but plain milk, though.

March 7, 2013

The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe {Review}

Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publish Date: January 24, 2012
Source: Contest/Own
Pages: 309
Series: Fallen World #1
Rating: Direct Hit
It starts with an itch you just can't shake. Then comes a fever and a tickle in your throat. A few days later, you'll be blabbing your secrets and chatting with strangers like they're old friends. Three more, and the paranoid hallucinations kick n.And then you're dead.When sixteen-year-old Kaelyn lets her best friend leave for school without saying goodbye, she never dreams that she might not see him again. But then a strange virus begins to sweep through her small island community, infecting young and old alike. As the dead pile up, the government quarantines the island: no one can leave, and no one can come back.
Those still healthy must fight for the island's dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest.
Because how will she go on if there isn't?
I'm almost glad I hadn't heard that much about The Way We Fall because it made for a really nice surprise.

First off I want to talk about the format. Sometimes journal entries can bring a book down and make it feel a little too young or silly, but that's certainly not the case here. The journal style made me feel more connected to Kaelyn and I liked the way I made everything feel more personal. I don't think I would've gotten as attached to the characters if it was third person POV. Kaelyn's entries were so vulnerable, I couldn't help feeling for her. She writes about the kind of things people don't want to admit: she thinks she's the reason for people around her getting sick, she wonders what the point of it all is, she's mad at ___ for dying, etc.

You know how sometimes romances that bloom in the middle of a disaster can be a little hard to swallow? Well, that wasn't the case with The Way We Fall. For one, the romance wasn't even hinted at until page 127 (unless I'm just really oblivious.) I love the fact that we got some time to just be with Kaelyn and her thoughts before love started to sprout. I hate when the love interest is immediately introduced so all we get to see is the version of the main character who likes This Guy. It's not my favorite romance ever, but I thought it was sweet and intense at the same time which, in my opinion, works pretty well in a disaster situation. I mean, how can you not fear for someone when everyone around you is dying.

The island setting made it much more interesting than it otherwise would have been. It gave the story a little mystery because they were completely cut off from the mainland. Nobody knew what was going on on the outside. So while Kaelyn (and I) was worried about everything happening on the island, there was a little part of her that wondered what could be going on in the rest of the world.
The Nutshell: If you love a good disaster scenario then The Way We Fall is a good choice. The journal-style format makes it easier to connect with the characters and really get immersed in the story, the romance isn't the main focus, and Crewe isn't afraid to kill of characters.

March 6, 2013

Cover Lover {69}

Of course we all know you should never judge a book by its cover, but do we ever really listen to that?
Cover Lover showcases eye catching, intriguing, and beautiful covers.

This week's Cover Lover goes to Infinite Sky by C. J. Flood
Publish Date: June 1, 2013 (earlier in the UK)
It's kind of weird what with he moth and all (I just can't even with moths. I'm shuddering just thinking about them,) but it's so simple and beautiful at the same time. I love the blue of the background and the way the barbed wire and black birds look against it. The corn I'm not so sure about, but I don't really know what the story is about, so it could very well fit the story. Also, that spider web is killing me. I'm thankful there's no actual spider, though.

March 4, 2013

Doomed by Tracy Deebs {Review}

Publisher: Walker Childrens
Publish Date: January 8, 2013
Source: ALA for honest review
Pages: 480
Series: No
Rating: Miss
Beat the game. Save the world.
Pandora's just your average teen, glued to her cell and laptop, surfing Facebook and e-mailing with her friends, until the day her long-lost father sends her a link to a mysterious site featuring twelve photos of her as a child. Unable to contain her curiosity, Pandora enters the site, where she is prompted to play her favorite virtual reality game, Zero Day. This unleashes a global computer virus that plunges the whole world into a panic: suddenly, there is no Internet. No cell phones. No utilities, traffic lights, hospitals, law enforcement. Pandora teams up with handsome stepbrothers Eli and Theo to enter the virtual world of Zero Day. Simultaneously, she continues to follow the photographs from her childhood in an attempt to beat the game and track down her father, her one key to saving the world as we know it. 
I was sorely disappointed by Doomed. I was expecting more of the video game aspect, more of a bad-ass main girl (I mean, look at the cover!), more stuff getting done, and just more in general.

So let's start with the story.
Maybe I wasn't thinking about the whole “global virus” thing enough, but I really wasn't expecting the government (and running from it) to be such a big aspect of the story. The synopsis lead me to believe the main storyline would be the game and the mystery surrounding it, but it ended up taking a backseat to the survival/on-the-run-from-the-government aspect.
Towards the end things just started to feel a little too convenient. Oh, this is an obstacle? Let's just take it out in a matter of a few paragraphs. I mean, yeah, it's fiction so there's going to be some coincidences, but some of them were just a bit too easy for me.

And then there's the characters.
Pandora was just so...whiny. Okay, okay, it's the end of the world and you unleashed it and your dad created it. I get it. I'd freak out too, but I hope I wouldn't continue to freak out. Over and over and over again. And there was the continuous “what's the point of any of this” when it was made quite obvious from the start. Play the game, save the world. So what does she do? Throw tantrums about how she doesn't want to play the game and how she hates her father. I know, I'm sounding a little heartless, but she really grated on my nerves.
And Theo and Eli were just kind of bleh. They have complete opposite personalities and yet I kept getting them confused. It probably didn't help that Pandora kept giving them the same kind of attention. And gosh, were they pissy about it. Whenever one of them so much as looked at her for too long the other would get all huffy and storm off. Now, you know I'm not a love triangle hater, but I really, really did not like this one. Plus, both boys felt a little shallow. I mean, they have backstories that seem to explain why they act the way they do, but they just didn't do it for me.

It felt like nothing was ever happening. Part of this is probably because I wanted to see more of the game aspect and it just wasn't happening. There was a lot of sitting around and a lot of driving and a lot of running and a lot of charged looks, and yet, I felt bored most of the time. I just couldn't get sucked into the story enough to care about the characters and story in more than a passive way. Even at the end I just thought to myself “oh, well that's nice.”
The Nutshell: Doomed just didn't work for me at all. Part of it is on me since I was expecting something different, but I also couldn't get into the story and characters. If you like stories about being on the run from the government and end of days craziness with a green undertone (or overtone, depending on how you wish to look at it) then you'll probably enjoy Doomed, but if you're in it for the video game aspect you should lower your expectations or skip it altogether.

March 2, 2013

My Next 5(?) {3}

Chuck was kind of attacking me the whole time so if I seem a little spazzy (more than usual, that is) that's why. Also, I still haven't quite mastered cutting stuff so some transitions are pretty rough, but here I am in all my dorky glory anyway!

My Six (yeah, still don't know how I miscounted that):
The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe
Also Known As by Robin Benway
Rage Within by Jeyn Roberts
Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green