Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Fun - Questions

Four Names People Call Me Other Than My Real Name.. 
1. Titi (only my niece as of right now!)
2. Amanda
3. Elena
4. Emily

Four Jobs I've Had... 
1. Cashier
2. Day care employee
3. State employee
4. Librarian

Four Movies I've Watched More Than Once... 
1. Rebel Without a Cause
2. Twister (every time I see it on)
3. Love Actually
4. Miracle

Four Books I’d Recommend...
1. Divine Evil by Nora Roberts
2. Persuasion by Jane Austen
3. If On a Winters Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
4. Pretty much anything on my Goodreads list

Four Places I Have Lived...
1. Pemberton, NJ
2. Trenton, NJ
3. Hamilton, NJ
4. Glassboro, NJ (while in college)

Four Places I Have Been...
1. Italy
2. Ireland
3. England
4. Seattle, WA 

Four Places I’d Rather Be Right Now...
1. Italy
2. Ireland
3. England
4. Seattle, WA

Four Things I Don’t Eat...
1. Pork (I love it but it doesn't love me)
2. Marshmallows or anything too mushy
3. Nutella (don't like the flavor)

Four of My Favorite Foods...
1. Coffee (that’s a food right?)
2. Chocolate
3. Pasta
4. Rice and beans

Four TV Shows That I Watch...
1. Chopped
2. Criminal Minds
3. Doctor Who
4. Lockup

Four Things I Am Looking Forward To This Year...
1. The birth of my next niece/nephew in August
2. Warm weather
3. The annual BFFL birthday trip
4. My trip to Portland in a few weeks!

Four Things I’m Always Saying...
1. (Oh) For the Love!
2. You have got to be kidding me
3. Yelling one of the dog's names (Lola or Ellie)
4.  Fuck

Four People I Tag...
Just do it if you want!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Read Harder Challenge - A romance novel

Leaping HeartsLeaping Hearts by Jessica Bird
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm always reading romance novels, so for this challenge requirement I just went with the first one I read. This one could also probably go as a recommendation, a patron brought in these (the series) books thinking I would like them.

I did like them. This is J.R. Ward writing as Jessica Bird. I'm used to reading J.R.'s paranormal series (Fallen Angels, BDB) so this was a bit of a change.

In this book A.J. goes against her step-brother's wishes and purchases a very spirited horse.  She's sure she can tame the horse and ride him to a championship equestrian win. Forced from her house, she ends up at the house of Devlin, the one trainer she feels can help her reach her goal.  Of course Devilin wants nothing to do with A.J. or her horse. I like when characters are forced into each other company and end up falling in love.

Besides ranch themed books, I haven't read anything having to do with horses that do the jumps so that was an interesting dose of information.  That being said, not much has stayed with me about this book but I did like it and I did like the rest of the books.  I handed them off to a friend to read  and I only do that with books I enjoyed.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Read Harder Challenge - An audiobook

Fortunately, the MilkFortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've read this book but I couldn't pass up to hearing Neil Gaiman read this delightful book.

This is the story a father tells his children about why it took him so long to go and get milk for their cereal. It was a typical enough trip to the market to purchase the milk, but as he left to head home, things got difficult. There is a run in with aliens, time travel in a hot air balloon, and more interesting twists and turns (I don't want to spoil it!).

I received a signed copy of the book at Book Expo America a few years ago and quickly read through the book.  At the book talk, Neil mentioned that he writes children's book just as much for the parents as for the kids, and that is clearly evident in this book.  He mentioned that when a child likes a book an adult is 'forced' to read it multiple times so it should also be enjoyable for them. I can honestly say I can't wait to keep reading/listening to this story with my niece!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Writing Prompt 19

Write about something extraordinary in a flat voice.

Mom and I were sitting in the living room watching TV. The phone rang. Mom paused the show and answered the phone.


She listened.

“Hi Alexa.”

She listened.

“That’s wonderful news. I’m so happy.”

I could only guess but I was pretty sure Alexa was telling her that my sister-in-law was pregnant. Again.

Book Review: Choose Your Own Autobiography by NPH

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own AutobiographyNeil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This may have been the most fun I've ever had reading an autobiography or memoir.  I loved the choose your own adventure books as a kid and I've loved NPH since I saw him on Doogie Hoswer.

My original plan was to read this book through a few times choosing different paths and then I was going to read it through like a normal book (many reviews say this is possible).  I read through a few times and had some good laughs and then I was ready to do the regular reading.

This proved to be a problem.

I didn't make it far into the book before I got to the end of a section and instead of just turning the page, I wanted to skip head to see where each option would have taken me. This lead me to want to keep jumping around as you do and I ended up choosing three more adventures.

The book is too munch fun to read in any other way!

The book covers Neil's childhood and his introduction to both acting and magic. These two passions great influence Neil's life and you can have a lot of fun bouncing around these themes.  Some of the other story lines follows his relationship with David and becoming parents. They were so secretive (and with good reason) about the birth of the twins it was nice to hear about how it all came to happen.  I really enjoyed hearing about the twins and how much they are like their fathers.

Some of my favorite passages were:
The section edited by David.
The section about the Harold and Kumar movies.
The fake endings were all hilarious
The notes from his famous friends.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Mini Reviews: Northwest Passage series by John A. Heldt

I originally reviewed the first book in John A. Heldt's series back in September 2013. Then last year John emailed me and asked if I would review the newest and last book in the series. I asked if the books were interconnected and when he said yes, I reveled one of my reading quirks, I need to read a series in order. John was kind enough to send me copies of all his books so I could review them.

Be warned the following contains some spoilers.

You can find my review of The Mine here.  In this book we meet Joel Smith, a geology student, ventures into a mine in 2000 and walks out in 1941. Joel travels to Seattle, WA and meets up with his grandmother (well the woman who would be his grandmother) and her friends. Joel falls in love, but he doesn't belong in 1941.

The Journey (Northwest Passage #2)The Journey by John A. Heldt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Journey is not connected to The Mine other than it takes place in the Pacific Northwest and involves time travel.  In this novel, Michelle is trying to figure out her life after the death of her husband. She decides to go back to her high school reunion. While there she meets up with some other women who she wasn't really friends with but knew in school.  They go to a house that has been abandoned for years with a mystery surrounding it. Once inside Michelle finds that sometimes you shouldn't explore abandoned houses.

Michelle walks into the house in 2010 and walks out of the house in 1979. This is where my mind freaks because of the time travel I know doesn't mesh with the story where Michelle intervenes and influences the life of her 17 year old self. But in all honestly, if you could go back and change some things in your past wouldn't you?  While in 1979 Michelle also falls in love and learns about mystery surrounding the house.

The Show  (Northwest Passage #3)The Show by John A. Heldt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So now we put The Journey into our back pocket and retrieve The Mine from our memory.  So last we left Joel he had come back to 2000 and got a surprise, Grace had followed him from 1941 to 2000. Grace couldn't let the man she loved go away and left all she knew behind to follow Joel and to start her life with him.  Things are going great for Joel and Grace, until a visit to a theater.  Grace heads to the lady's room only to walk back out in 1918.

Back in 1918, Grace is united with family from her past. She gets to meet her parents and influence their relationship all while trying to get back to Joel and her family.  As the months go by she starts to fear that she won't get back. At one point she meets a woman who helps her figure out how to get back to Joel. I'll be honest, I was starting to get mad at this story because it was starting to feel as if Grace wasn't going to get back to Joel and here she was starting a new relationship and argh!

The Fire (Northwest Passage #4)The Fire by John A. Heldt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With this book we get the connection between Joel and Michelle's story lines.  This novel follows Kevin Johnson, a geology student of Joel's and Michelle's son (the non time traveler version of Michelle).  While on a family trip to close up his recently deceased grandfather's house, Kevin finds a time traveling portal and the means to control the travel. He also learns that his relative is also time traveling forward between the present and 1910.

Unlike those before him in this series, Kevin knows how to freely travel and in what is only a day or two in the present he spends a number of months in the past.  He makes friends, falls in love, and manages to change the lives of a handful of people.  Like some of the previous stories, John plays with your emotions again but makes it all better in the end.

The Mirror (Northwest Passage #5)The Mirror by John A. Heldt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The year is 2020 and twins Ginny and Katie Smith find themselves going through a mirror into 1964.  Ginny and Katie didn't believe the stories their parents had told them about their time traveling experiences but now, maybe dad did go back to 1941 and mom did come forward and back to 1918.  In 1964 the twins meet up with their great-grandmother and their mother's best friend from 1941.

Like those that came before them the girls find themselves stuck for some time. They make a life for themselves and fall in love. Like those that came before they have to find their way home.  What I really liked about this story is how John finally explains his time travel idea of once someone goes back they create a new time line for the future them to then inhabit.

I really enjoyed this series and how it flowed from story to story even when I would get annoyed, and angry, and heart broken over these characters. I had that connection and wanted to know how they progressed and how these adventures changed their lives and those of the people around them both in the past and back home.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Weekend Cooking: Slow Cooker Chili

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads

I'm a hoarder when it comes to pins on Pinterest. One board that has a ton of pins is my Recipes to Try board and I very rarely try some of them. In my collection is a pin that links back to a blog that followed a year of cooking in a crockpot for a year (back in 2008).   Since then the blogger, Stephanie O'Dea, has turned her 365 days of cooking in a slow cooker into a book. I haven't looked at the book but the list of her recipes from that year has caught my attention and I've been wanting to try some.

It's Superbowl Sunday and there's the report of snow in our future. We're staying in but I wanted to cook something appropriate and the blog has a really easy chili recipe and honestly can you ever go wrong with chili.  So today I'm cooking Basic Chili CrockPot Recipe.

As is typical in my house, we made modifications to the recipe. Here's what I used:

--1 lb ground meat (I used 80/20)
--2 15.5 oz cans kidney beans
--2/3 cups frozen chopped onion
--8 garlic cloves, minced
--1 28oz can whole peeled plum tomatoes
--2 8oz can tomato sauce
--1 tbsp chili powder
--2 tsp cumin
--1 tsp black pepper
--1 tsp salt
--1/2 tsp tobasco sauce

I browned the meat with the onions in our French Oven. Then I added everything into the pot, gave it a stir and then placed it in the oven.  I could have easily used my slow cooker, but I didn't feel like pulling it out so I just set the oven on 200 (which is about the temp of low in a slow cooker) and placed the French Oven into the oven.  I pulled it out after about 3 hours to give it a stir and break up the tomatoes a bit. I stirred it again a few hours later.

Just before the game started I made a pot of rice and at kickoff we were settled in with yummy bowls of chili!