Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Year of Books 2016

I love to read.
I love to read A LOT!
And so this year I decided that I would keep track of my books in monthly posts.  On average I'd say I read anywheres between 50 and 75 books a year.  So my ambitious goal is to read 100 books in a year! That's right, 100 books!

You can probably guess that I'd be broke if I bought that many books every year.  So unless I win the lottery I won't be planning on any big personal library anytime soon.  As much as I love the physical copy of the book with its cover art and page smell, I've really depended on borrowing books from the library on my kindle and in person when I get that itch to hold a book.

Since I read so many it's been hard to share them on the blog and this way I can list them all, but really feature those worth reading.  If you have any recommendations for reads I always make a TBR (to be read) list and am continually adding to it.  When I took job placement surveys back in high school they always came back that I should be a librarian, no surprise since I love books, discussing books and organization.  This is my way to satisfy that desire of mine to bring books to the forefront of my life.  Listed in order by favorites here is my book tally for January and half February.

Orphan Queen Series - Jodi Meadows

* 1 : The Orphan Queen
  1.5 : Novellas: 1) The Hidden Prince 2) The Glowing Knight 3) The Burning Hand 4) The Black Knife
  2 : The Mirror King

A fantasy world of intrigue, magic, romance, and dangerous liaisons I was hooked from the start.  Wilhelmina is an escaped princess hiding amongst her enemies, and she's become the perfect spy.  Determined to regain her kingdom she must tread carefully and hide her identity, but there are many key people in play, the Prince,  the vigilante Black Knife, her fellow fallen nobility named the Ospreys, and of course a growing threat of wraith.

Young Elites Series - Marie Lu

* 1 : Young Elites
* 2 : Rose Society

This newest series by Marie Lu is being commonly disputed against her well known Legend trilogy.  I read the Legend series last year, and in my opinion the Young Elites shows great growth and character development in her writing.  Reminded me of X-men, where the children all have a variety of powers and of course are perceived as threats to the general good of society. 

Jewel Series - Amy Ewing

* 1 : The Jewel
   1.5 : The House of the Stone
* 2 : The White Rose

If you enjoyed the Selection Series, haven't heard of anyone yet who read it that didn't like it, this has some similarities.  The Jewel is the wealthy inner circle, of whom the elite are dependent on the poor to bear their children due to a genetic rarity they offer.  Violet is sold into the hands of a duchess and ends up in the middle of political intrigue and a play for power.  Subjected to a life of servitude she falls for the one boy she cannot, and must make the decision about whether he is worth risking everything. 

The Darkest Minds Series : Alexandra Bracken

* 1 : The Darkest Minds
   1.5 : In Time
   2: Never Fade
   2.5 : Sparks Rise
   3 : In the After Light
   3.5 : Through the Dark ( In Time, Sparks Rise, Beyond the Night)

Another series on genetic mutations, the darkest minds tells the tale of a society that underwent severe losses in children lives after a epidemic wipes out portions of the U.S. population.  Those children who survived are rounded up, as their powers are a threat.  Given a color based on their skill, they're either killed or forced to work in camps, the truth of it all hidden from society.  Ruby has kept herself alive by flying under the radar, but eventually must escape in order to live, and along the way meets a group of misfits also with frightening abilities.

After Series :  Anna Todd  (4/5)

* 1 : After
* 2 : After We Collided
* 3 : After We Fell
   4 : After Ever Happy
   5 :  Before

A series about a college romance, it's gained lots of attention and remains a popular read amongst young adult females, especially fangirls.  Due to the graphic descriptions and situations the characters find themselves in, especially those regarding drinking, sexual acts and language, readers should minimally be college aged.  It may be a realistic telling of college experiences for some students, but the drama and rollercoaster of this volatile story relationship is definitely not for everyone.

Newsoul Series - Jodi Meadows (3/5)

* 1 :  Incarnate
* 2 : Asunder
   2.5 : Phoenix Overture
* 3 : Infinite

 This series is based on the premise of reincarnation.  For thousands of years the same souls have continued to be always be reborn, able to keep their previous lives memories intact even when starting a new life.  Everyone knows everyone.   Until one day a new soul appeared, Ana.  She replaced another one, and no one knows the reason.  Was she a mistake?  Would new souls continue to replace the old ones? And if so, how, and why? On the search to figure out her life's meaning Ana meets Sam, he's different, and for the first time maybe someone actually sees Ana for who she is and who she could be. 

Leigh Bardugo (2 / 5)

* 1 : Six of Crows
   2 : Crooked Kingdom (Sept 2016)

Gaining huge momentum amongst readers lately, I thought this was one book worth skipping.  I fought the entire way through to finish it.  I enjoy a little more focus on character relationships and their development, which was extremely lacking. Also, the book didn't have any "surprises", it was pretty easy to see where it was going next.  The premise had potential, 6 outcasts with their only purpose being to survive in a world of magic, but unlike the Young Elites or Darkest Minds series this rag tag group just didn't work.


Friday, February 12, 2016

Pink Valentine's Day Drink

This gorgeous drink is perfect for Valentine's Day!! Just a simple recipe of champagne and a rock candy stick that makes a quick and delicious libation. Not to mention, who can resist a glass of bubbly with crystal sugars?!

I found rock candy on Amazon and ordered a box of 12.  It isn't the cheapest candy but it is the prettiest stir stick I have found yet!

You could use a craft soda (Belvoir is my personal favorite!) or something inexpensive (Sprite or Ginger Ale would work great!) instead of champagne if you are avoiding alcohol or serving kiddos who want in on the fun.

You could serve these drinks at any party, holiday gathering, bridal shower, wedding day or even a baby shower. Just pick your preferred color of rock candy and add a little bubbly!

I am so excited to add this drink to the menu this Valentine's Day weekend. I hope your weekend is full of love!! Cheers!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Fruit Sugar Cookie Dessert Pizza

Throwback to this Sugar Cookie Fruit Dessert that I made for a Superbowl Party! With all the hot and spicy apps, cheesy dips, and meaty dishes, a sweet sugar cookie with fruit topping serves as the perfect offset.  Plus, anytime there's fresh fruit on a dish people are all to willing to accept the illusion that they're eating healthier, myself included.

There's a lot of options with this dish. You can make mini sugar cookie pizzas or a large one.  I chose only three fruits, but you could just have easily added more.  Making a deep dish fruit pizza is always an option too.

If making mini fruit pizzas I'd go with different fruit combos on each to give everyone more options!  Next time I plan on doing Mixed Berries, Red Fruit, Rainbow, Team Colors, etc

How to make:

1. Use your favorite sugar cookie dough recipe, a bag of cookie mix, or already made cookie dough. Bake the dough in the oven according to the package directions, just don't overcook. You don't want the cookie to crumble.

2. Whisk marshmallow cream and cream cheese together for the topping and spread it on the cookie.

3. Decorate the top of the pizza with your choice of sliced fruit.

            Other GAME DAY food options:
Cheesy Buffalo Dip
Veggie Crescent Pizza
Pizza Bites
Homemade Mozzarella Bites 
Caprese Bacon Skewers 

Frito Chili  (popular)
Chipotle Chicken Chili
Braised Lamb Meatballs
Mini Meatball Sandwiches 

Chocolate Peanut Krispies 
Banana Split Bites 
Nutella Sandwich Cookies