Sunday, November 29, 2015

Mini Reviews : Life Hacks

These mini reviews feature my informal thoughts on two non-fiction books I've been reading and pulling tips and advice from all year long.

Skinny Taste by Gina Homolka

In 2015  I wanted to start eating healthier, so I picked up Gina Homolka's Skinny Taste after seeing the beautiful cover in Target. Plus this Target edition had extra recipes.

I loved the recipes in this book so much that I actually gave it to my brother, BC, as a birthday gift. It features colorful and flavorful recipes that are so good you won't believe they are healthy. Even in my tiny kitchen they bring out my inner Top Chef.
Chicken Pot Pie Soup !
One of the first recipes I made was the Chicken Pot Pie soup. I also highly suggest her beef and broccoli plus I've made her chicken marsala on multiple occasions.

If you're not sure if Gina's recipes are for you check out her blog it's how I first discovered her !  I co-sign on her Skinny Chicken Enchiladas !

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Mari Kondo

This is  the little book that was everywhere this year. This book outlines the KonMari method for tidying. I grabbed it on audio performed by Emily Woo Zeller. It's a shortie at around four hours and  I listened to this audiobook while doing the KonMari method. I really embraced her philosophy on discarding and organization.

As a book blogger I couldn't quite commit to her ideas behind book organization. Just no. I can't say I've kept up with tidying but I do find myself folding stuff into rectangles and throwing out things that don't have that spark.

Kondo seems to realize her ideas and thoughts on organization may be a bit radical and I couldn't help but to side-eye some of the lengths she goes to in the name of order.

One of my criticism of this book is that Kondo's book doesn't fully take into account individuals who might have non-familial roommates or who share a house. Her book is very focused on homeowners or those who live with parents. I enjoyed the audio but if you're not sure if it's for you this is a book I'd grab it from the library.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Mini Reviews : Adult Fiction

Robert Langdon is back. This time the symbologist (although most of this book really just needed a Art Historian and Italian Lit professor) wakes up in a hospital in Florence, Italy with no memory of how he got there or why a shadowy organizations is after him. As Langdon dashes across Italy with a beautiful blonde Girl Friday doctor, Sienna Brooks, he starts to put the pieces of his memory together. Langdon and Sienna are racing against time to save the world against a plot inspired by Dante Alighieri himself. This installment features all the twist and turns you expect in a Dan Brown novel with the addition of what I think Dan Brown considers strong female characters. I didn't see the ending coming and Brown mixes just the right amount of facts and  fiction to create a page flipping novel. A great addition to the Langdon series,  this coming from someone who has read every Brown novel.  We'll just pretend The Lost Symbol never happened. Jess - ★★★

Song of Achilles is the story of Achilles from The Illiad told  through the perspective of his lover, the exiled prince Patroclus.  Let me stop you right there. Yes. Yes, this book is basically The Illiad fanfiction, but it’s the good kind. Although I suspect if Patrolcus was a female character in a YA book he’d be called a Mary Sue and bad role model. His character begins and ends with how awesomesauce Achilles is.

Miller’s writing is so vivid and engrossing, it works perfectly with Frazer Douglas’s audiobook narration. This book works great on audio because some of these names can be tough. Douglas' does read a little slow and it felt like the ending of this book was dragging. I think it's best to go in knowing as little as possible about the actual story because it follows the Greek myth so closely.

I do want to point out that there is a fair amount rape and misogyny in this book, but Miller handles female characters well. The few speaking women in this book could have easily been lamps with wombs, but Douglas brings them to life. Kat - ★★★★

Also, Miller does the *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge* thing to keep it kind of meta. Odysseus tells a central character (who you have probably never heard of) "Who knows, I could be more famous than you one day. Welp, back to Ithaca I go now." (Okay, that may not be paraphrased.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Book To Movie Adaptations I'm Looking Forward To / Need to Watch

This is such an easy one for me, I've been lukewarm on adaptations so I am behind on so many. 

Movie Adaptations I Need to Watch

1. Paper Towns

This was my favorite John Green book for a long time and I still haven't seen the movie.

2. Never Let Me Go

I reviewed this book a couple years ago and the trailer for looks so good ! This is on Amazon Prime so I need to get to it.

3. If I Stay
I reviewed this arounf the same time I reviewed Never Let Me Go and still haven't seen the movie. The guy who they cast as Adam seems perfect so I do want to get to it. It's also on Amazon Prime and Netflix.

4. Unbroken

I was captivated by this bio last year and I really want to see how this was adapted. It's on HBO, so I better get to it before it goes away.

5. Wild
I need to finish this book so I can finally see this movie. I think Reese Witherspoon is a great pick to play Cheryl Strayed

Movie Adaptations I'm Looking Forward To

6. Shadowhunters
The movie tried to do too much, but I'm hoping the TV series can get some of the attitude and sarcasm of the show. The casting is pretty great !

7. Before I Fall

I haven't read this book, but I'm just excited to see Lauren Oliver get an adaptation.

8. Tiny Beautiful Things
I just heard about this being made into an HBO show. Apparently it follows a family, but I kind of
wish they did something like Twilight Zone where each episode is about one of her letters and has a different cast.

9. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

I like Redmayne in Theory of Everything, so I'm excited to see what he does here.

10. White Cat by Holly Black
So, I'm not even sure this has been optioned, but when I win the lottery I'm making this into a movie and I'm casting Minnie Driver as the Cassel's mom. And maybe Boo-Boo Stewart as Cassel.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Fresh Fiction Box Unboxing !

I love subscription services and since I had a few dollars I told myself it was time to treat yo self and sign up for a bookish one. I weighed a lot of options, but decided to go with The Fresh Fiction Box. For 24.95 you get a"box of great reads, print and digital, and author keepsakes". I loved it !

The inside of this box was so festive ! It was filled with colorful confetti and lots of postcards for upcoming adult and NA books. There was also some candy and a little pumpkin stress ball.

Underneath all the great swag were three romance novels which total up to $30. Those alone are make up for the cost of the box.

Nuts by Alice Clayton
I've never heard of this and the title made me lol. Alice Clayton is best known for her book Wallbanger and this one looks interesting. It's about a chef and an organic walnut farmer--get your heads out of the gutter !

Breaking Bailey's Rules by Brenda Jackson
I've wanted to read these  Westmoreland novels, but I've never known where to start--looks like I'll be hopping in here.

The Single Undead Moms Club
In my year of reading romance I still haven't read a paranormal from start to finish and I've noticed this book everywhere. I don't know much about this book, but I'm intrigued.

There was also a little mesh packet from romance author Rose Gordon with postcards for her books along with  this band aid holder, which is so going in my purse!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Books and Sensibility @ New York Comic Con

Kat and I were invited super last minute by our older brother who we will call, BC to attend New York Comic Con. For whatever reason he's decided to become a blerd in his 30's. I've really just been slowly learning more about comics and had only read one. . .

Fortunately BC had a backpack full of comics so I could educate myself on the trip down .  I read SAGA Vol 1 ) and three issues of We Stand On Guard So basically I got a mini lesson in Brian K Vaughn.

We arrived right in the middle of day three, first we dropped our stuff off at our downtown hotel (which was decorated with books !) and went up to Javits. You could instantly feel the energy and excitement  of all of the fans.

The cosplay was amazing ! There were a lot of Deadpools, Captain Americas and Peter Quill from Guardians of The Galaxy. All different genders and races.

We walked the floor a little bit and then Kat and  I went to the YA Lit Panel. One of the books that stuck out to me was Soman Chainani's School of Good and Evil series. He is a Disney fanboy and I'm curious to see how he draws inspiration from this.

Afterward we went back up to the floor, I only knew about a few comics  so I didn't do any buying (I mean no one had copies of Lumberjanes or Bitch Planet left.)  Honestly, It' just cool to walk around and watch the cosplayers and their creativity. I did get a Shadowhunter flash tattoo.

One of the last stops we made was at the Afrofuturist booth were we met Afua Richardson who has done art for Marvel, DC and Image.  She had so much great art for sale and I picked up a Powerpuff girl print,

I didn't realize how great it was to see a black female artist in such a male dominate industry. She had a whole set of Powerpuff girl prints and as I was flipping though I choose the one I did because she was drawn with her hair straightened like mine (also . . . cupcake) . There was also one with a puff and one with braids. The point is I could choose. There wasn't just the one black one.

Slightly related, I also wonder  why  the media loves to present nerd and comic conventions as places where nerdy loser white guys fantasize about being heroes. That's just not the case. I can't tell you how many women and families I saw hanging out. I mean I saw plenty of male superheros with babies strapped to them.
THIS was the hotel lobby

Afterwords we went to Midtown comics (again sold out of single issues of Lumberjanes and Bitch Planet) and then to a cool Japanese bookstore, Kinokuniya.  We had some Gyro's at Gyro II an the Tzaki was amazing ! I usually don't like it. On the way home we stopped in Philly for Cheesesteaks at Iskabibbles. I had something called a Gremlin to drink.

A very busy weekend. It totally wasn't the way I would have done NYCC (I would have had my schedule and hotel weeks in advance)  but it was a great primer for next year!

Better World Books Haul: Romance Novels

Better World Books is like the Toms of the book world. With every used book you purchase a book is donated to someone in need. When I first heard about Better World Books I was a little hesitant because I didn't know what shape the books would be in but they are usually pretty good.

These were all on sale ! The deal was for  40% off 5 or more of the bargain bin books. While I meant to do the minimum of 5...I ended up.... with 11


Summer Days by Susan Mallery. I liked her community of Fool's Gold in book #16 so I thought I'd go back to the earlier books.

Only His and Only Mine by Susan Mallery. Again more Fool's Gold. I was trying to get an entire cycle of three to read.

Destiny's Embrace by Beverly Jenkins. I have to know what all the fuss is about.

Full Throttle by Erin McCarthy. My goal is to finish this series by the end of the month

Seeing is Believing by Erin McCarthy. This book sounded like a fun mystery about a cop and a necromancer.

When Summer Comes by Brenda Novak. I wanted to see another author's take on small town romances.

Instant Attraction by Jill Shalvis. Sarah Wendell really like this books scenery building.

Angel's Landing  by Rochelle Alers. I have the 8th book in this series and I really wanted to start at the beginning.

Just One of the Guys by Kristen Higgins - I've wanted to read her books and at 2.00 a book how could I resist ?

Monsoon Wedding Fever. I'm not going to lie, I just got this because it had Indian characters and looked fun.

For more romance happenings check out Romance and Sensibility

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Kat Checks Out Richmond's Newest Public Libray

A few days ago I went to the grand opening celebration of the new

library in my neighborhood. . . because I didn’t choose the nerd life the nerd life chose me. But seriously, Henrico County's brand new Libbie Mill Library was no small feat. Construction cost of the project was 30 million dollars. It's 39,915 square feet and has 67,000 volumes. It's been the talk of the town and at the grand opening  there were so many people they had cops directing traffic

The Libbie Mill Library is in good company in a new "midtown" area. It's reminds of that  town center fever that I've seen growing in Northern Virginia suburbs. I’m sure there are a lot of unfortunate implications about all these new expensive buildings (like rising housing cost), but the library that used to serve this area really deserved the upgrade.

The YA Room
I knew nothing about the library's resources,  so when I first walked in I was overwhelmed by everything.  Books ! Community space ! Outdoor fountain! Lights ! Study rooms ! Touchscreens ! More books! One of the staff members informed me that all the books in the collection were new.  I didn't really know what to do so I started to scan shelves for familiar titles. The way they shelves are backlit makes it perfect for shelfies.

Romance, Mystery, AfAm--- all together now!
As I browsed I  noticed they do that thing I like where they put stickers on romance and African American fiction, but still keep them with the paperbacks. No putting African American fic and romance in a corner.

The library is absolutely gorgeous and I feel very fortunate to live close Did I mention the resources ? They have:

  • Computer labs with the Adobe Creative Suite
  • Podcasting tools 
  • A green screen 
  • A FREAKING 3D Printer. 

It was so fun to see the enthusiasm from kids and adults over books. People had stacks !

Going to this opening was a lot of fun (or IDK, maybe it's the sparkling apple juice talking) and it reinforced in me the idea that libraries matter. They are places  for people to learn and discover and it's nice when they have a great ambiance too. I definitely see myself coming here. A lot.

My Haul: The Royal We, Aftermath, The Heart Goes Last and The Imitation Game

Did I mention they had food ? It was catered by Southern Seasons, which is also in the town center. I got a brisket slider and a ham and pimento cheese biscuit because this is Virginia dammit. It was so weird seeing people eat in a public library...

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The Raven King and I Kissed A Rogue

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (April 2016)

Earlier this week Maggie Stiefvater shared the cover of The Raven King...and that the release date of the book has been pushed back again to April 2016, so it looks like I'll be waiting even longer for this one.

I Kissed A Rogue by Shana Galen (March 2016)

This is another series I've been following since its release and I can't wait to see how it ends. Also, the dress on this cover is insane !

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Debut Authors Who Have Me Looking Forward To Their Sophomore Novel

Well, it's been a while since I've done one of these and this was a hard one since so many authors I've read aren't debuts. This topic also has the option of Top Ten Sophomore Novels That I Loved Just As Much If Not More As The Author's Debut, so I'll do that one too.

Debut Authors Who Have Me Looking Forward To Their Sophomore Novel 

1. Kate Scelsa
I just reviewed Fans of The Impossible Life and I liked the storytelling so I'm excited to see what she will come up with next.

2. Erin Morgenstern
The Night Circus came out with a bang and I still see it being highly recced for all kinds of readers. It's been 4 years since her debut and I'm still waiting for her next book.

3. Veronica Roth
A few months ago she announced she's working on a new duology so I'm curious what she will come up with

4. Laini Taylor

I realize Daughter of Smoke and Bone isn't Taylor's first book but, it's her  first major YA series and I can't wait to see what she writes as a follow up.

5. Marissa Meyer

Meyer has worked so hard to create the characters and world of the Lunar chronicles and I'm anxious to see how much of a role (if any) it plays in her next book, Heartless. Also, yes I've been scrolling through her Pinterest board for it.

6. Helene Wecker

The Golem and The Jinni has charmed thousands of people and Helene seemed ready to write a new book, so I'll just be here waiting for her next take on history and magic.

7. Kristen Paige-Madonia

I liked her first YA book, Fingerprints of You, and I'm curious about her new book Invisible Fault Lines.

Sophomore Novels That I Loved Just As Much If Not More As The Author's Debut

8. The Young Elites
I know these are fighting words, but I...kind of ffind Marie Lu's follow up series much more complex and interesting than her debut Legend series

9. The Realm of Possibility
This was actually the first David Levithan novel I read, and while I like his debut Boy Meets Boy this book's experimental narrative made it such a unique read and more memorable read.

10. Frigid by J Lynn

More fighting words. I did not particularly like a lot of Jennifer Armentrout's YA books, but I like her NA standalone, Frigid. I think her tropes work better in NA than YA.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Fairest Review: In Gifs!

So...I finally listened to Fairest, the story of the Lunar Chronicles' villain, Queen Levana. I expected some Once Upon A Time -never-love-anything-it-will-not-end-well level flashbacks and that's bascially what I got.

Fairest can be pretty much summarized as

At first Princess Levana’s obsession with the married Evret Hayle had me like

Then a few pages later

And for everything after the wedding I was pretty much

Seriously, Levana

This is a pretty messed up story--I’m getting Grasshopper Jungle levels of entertainment from reading the reviews. Fairest is a soap-y story about some terrible people doing terrible things that I couldn’t look away from. I honestly just wanted to know how it was all was going to end up. There was a preview of Winter in the back and seeing as that book is 800 pages I have a feeling it will be pretty epic.

*But Not Soon Enough*


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