Thursday, September 30, 2010

Current giveaways

200 followers giveaway - Cladestine Sanctuary 
1000 followers giveaway - Candace's Book Blog  
Win a gift card of your choice- Fun Saving Mom 
1000 followers giveaway- PS Mom Reviews 
Saturday Steals giveaway- I Heart Monster 
Win an Amazon gift card- Extreme Personal Measures 
Win a Target gift card- Living on Love and Giveaways

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Brief reviews

I have gotten really behind on reviewing books.  I am going to do some shorter reviews to get caught up.

Fireworks Over Toccoa
Fireworks Over Toccoa
I won this book from a giveaway quite a while ago.  It was very interesting to learn about how fireworks are made.  It reminded me quite a bit of The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks.  It was good, but not great.  Overall, a nice, light, and short read. Would be perfect for after a heavier book.

The Virgin's Lover (Boleyn)
The Virgin's Lover (Boleyn)
A typical Philippa Gregory book. This one was a little too heavy on the romance and not enough on the history.  Good, but not as good as some of her others, especially The Other Boleyn Girl.

The Murderer's Daughters
The Murderer's Daughters
I won this from a giveaway.  The cover is not very appealing for me, and it makes it look cheap and cheesy.  A very good book about a man who kills his wife and how his daughters deal with it.  Very, very good.  If I had to choose one out of these four, I would choose this one to recommend.

The story of a woman who escaped a polygamist cult.  I am interested in cults, particularly the polygamist one.  The writing was not the best, but the story is worth reading.  It gives some history of the cult and insight into what they believe.  She has a sequel out that I will definitely read, once it comes out in paperback or if I can find it on sale like I did this one.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mailbox Monday (a day late)

I'm a day late but I wanted to share what I got this past week.

Her Fearful SymmetrySh*t My Dad SaysAnglo-American Cataloguing Rules: 2002 Revision/2005 UpdateCataloging and Classification: An Introduction
Her Fearful Symmetry- won from a giveaway (review coming soon)
Sh*t My Dad Says- bought from Amazon
Anglo American Cataloging Rules- bought from Amazon for school
Cataloging and Classification- bought from Amazon for school

The OutsidersGoing Bovine
The Outsiders- from the library
Going Bovine- from the library

On Sunday, I met up with some other local book bloggers.  I had a ton of fun and got one new book. 

The Jade Peony

Monday, September 27, 2010

Giveaway: $45 CSN Stores gift certificate

CSN Stores is an amazing website that has over 200 stores.  You can find everything from nesting tables to fitness equipment.  As a book nerd, I particularly love these tables.  I especially love the drawer in each one.

A few months ago I worked with CSN Stores and did a review on a beautiful bag that I bought for school.  I am excited to work with them again. I am giving one of my readers a $45 gift certificate that can be used for anything on any of their sites.

To enter, just leave a comment on this post.
+1- Follow my blog via Google Friend Connect
+1- Tweet/blog/post on sidebar (1 entry for each one)

This contest will end on Monday, October 4 at midnight.

Fall Catch up Read a thon Wrap Up

The Fall Catch Up read a thon is over.  I did not get as much read as I would have liked, but I did get more done than I have in the last couple of weeks.  Here is what I read:

finished Sh*t My Dad Says- Justin Halpern
read 400 pages - Going Bovine- Libba Bray
finished Her Fearful Symmetry
finished The Outsiders

All of these books were really good, and I am happy with the amount I read.

Review: Alias Grace

Alias Grace: A Novel

Synopsis from Amazon:
In 1843, a 16-year-old Canadian housemaid named Grace Marks was tried for the murder of her employer and his mistress. The sensationalistic trial made headlines throughout the world, and the jury delivered a guilty verdict. Yet opinion remained fiercely divided about Marks--was she a spurned woman who had taken out her rage on two innocent victims, or was she an unwilling victim herself, caught up in a crime she was too young to understand? Such doubts persuaded the judges to commute her sentence to life imprisonment, and Marks spent the next 30 years in an assortment of jails and asylums, where she was often exhibited as a star attraction. In Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood reconstructs Marks's story in fictional form. Her portraits of 19th-century prison and asylum life are chilling in their detail. The author also introduces Dr. Simon Jordan, who listens to the prisoner's tale with a mixture of sympathy and disbelief. In his effort to uncover the truth, Jordan uses the tools of the then rudimentary science of psychology. But the last word belongs to the book's narrator--Grace herself.

My review:
If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that Margaret Atwood is my favorite author.  The woman is a genius with words.  I started library school two weeks ago and just about everybody I have talked to loves her just as much as I do.  Alias Grace was a very interesting story.  It was quite a bit different from the other Atwood books I have read.  Like most of her books, Alias Grace is very character driven.  Since I am not Canadian, I had not heard of the story of Grace Marks before I read this book.  Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, but it is difficult to do well.  Atwood proves that she can write this genre as well as any other she has tried.  The reader can tell that a great deal of research went into the writing of this book.  I have to say that Alias Grace is one of my favorite books by this author.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Current giveaways

Down the Rabbit Hole is having a 100 followers giveaway
e-Volving books is having a 100 followers giveaway
Shooting Stars Mag is giving away a $25 gift card of your choice

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Buzz Lightyear birthday cake

My adorable nephew, Mathew, turned 6 this past weekend.  It's pretty crazy that he is that old already.  My husband and I started dating a few months before he was born.  I didn't get to meet him until he was at least a year old because I was still down in Florida.  He looks exactly like my husband did when he was little.   Mathew loves Buzz Lightyear and I was excited to make a cake for him.  I had quite a few things go wrong, but I think it came out okay.  He liked it, and that's all that matters.

Isn't he adorable?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Recipe: Strawberry Shortcake Cake

Photo and recipe from Pioneer Woman

I absolutely love Pioneer Woman.  All of her recipes that I have tried are amazing, and this cake is no exception.  I have made this recipe three times and each time I love it even more. I think this is my favorite cake I have ever made.  I made it over a month ago and my husband is still talking about it.  I especially love the cream cheese frosting. 

  • 1-½ cup Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons Corn Starch
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 9 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Softened
  • 1-½ cup Sugar
  • 3 whole Large Eggs
  • ½ cups Sour Cream, Room Temperature
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • _____
  • Icing
  • ½ pounds Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
  • 2 sticks Unsalted Butter
  • 1-½ pound Powdered Sugar, Sifted
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 pound Strawberries

Preparation Instructions

IMPORTANT: Be sure to use a cake pan that’s at least 2 inches deep! Before baking, the batter should not fill the pan more than halfway.
Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and corn starch.
Cream 9 tablespoons butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well each time. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until combined. Add sifted dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just barely combined.
Pour into greased and floured 8-inch cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes, or until no longer jiggly like my bottom. Remove from cake pan as soon as you pull it out of the oven, and place on a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely.
Stem strawberries and slice them in half from bottom to top. Place into a bowl and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar. Stir together and let sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, mash the strawberries in two batches. Sprinkle each half with 1 tablespoons sugar and allow to sit for another 30 minutes.
Make icing: combine cream cheese, 2 sticks butter, sifted powdered sugar, vanilla, and dash of salt in a mixing bowl. Mix until very light and fluffy.
Slice cake in half through the middle. Spread strawberries evenly over each half (cut side up), pouring on all the juices. Place cake halves into the freezer for five minutes, just to make icing easier.
Remove from freezer. Use a little less than 1/3 of the icing to spread over the top of the strawberries on the bottom layer. Place the second layer on top. Add half of the remaining icing to the top spreading evenly, then spread the remaining 1/3 cup around the sides.
Leave plain OR garnish with strawberry halves.
IMPORTANT: Cake is best when served slightly cool. The butter content in the icing will cause it to soften at room temperature. For best results, store in the fridge!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fall Catch Up read a thon

Today (this morning actually) the Fall Catch Up read a thon started.  It runs until Sunday the 26th.  I have classes all day this week, but I plan on reading after class instead of watching tv or playing on the computer.  Here are some of the books I plan on reading this week:

Her Fearful Symmetry  I got this in the mail the other day from a contest I won. I am about 100 pages into it.

The OutsidersI checked this out from the library today.

Going BovineI got this one from the library as well.

I hope to read at least 2 hours a day and finish at least these three books.

Happy reading!

Review: Peony in Love

Peony in Love

Synopsis from Amazon:
Set in 17th-century China, See's fifth novel is a coming-of-age story, a ghost story, a family saga and a work of musical and social history. As Peony, the 15-year-old daughter of the wealthy Chen family, approaches an arranged marriage, she commits an unthinkable breach of etiquette when she accidentally comes upon a man who has entered the family garden. Unusually for a girl of her time, Peony has been educated and revels in studying The Peony Pavilion, a real opera published in 1598, as the repercussions of the meeting unfold. The novel's plot mirrors that of the opera, and eternal themes abound: an intelligent girl chafing against the restrictions of expected behavior; fiction's educative powers; the rocky path of love between lovers and in families. It figures into the plot that generations of young Chinese women, known as the lovesick maidens, became obsessed with The Peony Pavilion, and, in a Werther-like passion, many starved themselves to death.

My review:
I have read most of Lisa See's other books and I really like her writing style.  Peony in Love was very different from her other books.  It is set much earlier, in the 17th century.  The most interesting thing about the book is that the main character, Peony, is dead for most of it.  This was a very interesting way to tell the story.  At first I didn't like Peony.  I thought she was spoiled and shallow, but as the story progressed, her character got more likable.  Like all of See's books, the writing was great and the story was well told.  She is one of the author's who I will read all of her work. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Review: Sarah's Key

Sarah's Key

Synopsis from Amazon:
De Rosnay's U.S. debut fictionalizes the 1942 Paris roundups and deportations, in which thousands of Jewish families were arrested, held at the Vélodrome d'Hiver outside the city, then transported to Auschwitz. Forty-five-year-old Julia Jarmond, American by birth, moved to Paris when she was 20 and is married to the arrogant, unfaithful Bertrand Tézac, with whom she has an 11-year-old daughter. Julia writes for an American magazine and her editor assigns her to cover the 60th anniversary of the Vél' d'Hiv' roundups. Julia soon learns that the apartment she and Bertrand plan to move into was acquired by Bertrand's family when its Jewish occupants were dispossessed and deported 60 years before. She resolves to find out what happened to the former occupants: Wladyslaw and Rywka Starzynski, parents of 10-year-old Sarah and four-year-old Michel. The more Julia discovers—especially about Sarah, the only member of the Starzynski family to survive—the more she uncovers about Bertrand's family, about France and, finally, herself.

My review:
This was another book that I sitting on my shelf for quite awhile and just never got around to reading.  As you can probably tell, my favorite genre is historical fiction.  Coincidentally, I have collected a big collection of holocaust literature.  Sarah's Key was a different take on the holocaust.  It is about the roundup of Jews in Paris.  I had never heard about this event before I read the book.  The author discusses this a bit in the book, how today, not a lot of people know about the event, and the French are very sensitive about it.  I have read a lot of good, even great books recently, but this was one of those rare books that I could not put down.  I love it when a book makes me feel like this one did.  I really felt for the characters, especially Sarah who tries to save her brother.  After I finished reading, I kept thinking about the book and characters.  That to me is one of the tests of a truly great book.  I loved the writing style and how the story was told.  I have to say that this is one of the best Holocaust books I have read.

My First Blog Awards!

I am so excited to receive my first blog awards!  Angela from Library Girl Reads gave me the One Lovely Blog award and Daisy from Between the Pages gave me The Versatile Blogger award as well as One Lovely Blog award.

These awards mean a lot to me.  It's really exciting to me that people are actually reading and enjoying what I am writing.

Fall Catch Up Read a Thon

Since I started school two weeks ago, I haven't had a lot of time to read.  The True Book Addict is hosting the Fall Catch Up read a thon.  I thought this would be a good way to get back into reading. Go over to her blog to sign up.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Current giveaways

Win an Amazon gift card- Chubby Cheeks Thinks
Win 2 books or an Amazon gift card- K2 +K2 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Books I'm Dying to read

1. Room- Emma Donoghue  
2. My Name is Memory- Ann Brashares
3. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks- Rebecca Skloot
4. Remarkable Creatures- Tracy Chevalier
5. Shit My Dad Says- Justin Halpern
6. Sunflowers- Sheramy D. Bundrick
7. In the Woods- Tana French
8. Cake Pops- Bakerella
9. Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang- Chelsea Handler
10. The Last Olympian- Rick Riordan

Friday, September 10, 2010

Win a Kindle!

Bitten by Books is giving away a Kindle as part of the Blogfest giveaways.