Friday, June 29, 2012

Listen Up - Audiobook Week 2012

Where do you learn about great audiobook titles? Find reviews? Buy your audiobooks? Share your secrets with the rest of us!

When I first started listening to audiobooks I borrowed my friend's discs that she checked out from the library. I didn't have a library card of my own (I know, sinful and a long story) and just hadn't taken the time to check out what my library had available. When I became a more serious listener I finally checked out my library and realized that they had a large online database to download audiobooks.

My library was the main source of all of my audiobooks until I signed up for Audible per my coworker's suggestion a few months ago. For $15 a month I receive one credit which will allow me one audiobook. Audible also has occasional sales (like the BOGO sale happening right now) which are often too tempting to resist. I always try to use my library first but if my library doesn't have the book I'm looking for (or I forget to check) then Audible it is. I would love to learn about other audiobook services you use!

In terms of where I find audiobook titles and reviews, my answer is YOU. I don't follow new releases with a lot of zeal, but all of my bookish buzz comes mainly from twitter chat. It's funny because five years ago hardly anyone talked about listening to audiobooks but now it seems to be the main mode of reading.  I don't read a lot of audiobook blogs, but JoAnn of Lakeside Musing seems to be my number one recommender of audiobooks. I've loved everything that she's recommended on her blog, so I keep a careful ear out for what she's loving. This includes The Elegance of the Hedgehog, The Homecoming of Samuel Lake, State of Wonder, and many others that I have put on my wishlist.

Audiobooks is still a relatively new world for me but I'm loving the journey!

Where do you get your audiobooks? How do you learn about must-listen-to titles?

OH! And I drew a winner for the Literary Giveaway Bloghop. Thank you to the 90 folks to entered. Eeep!

Congrats to Laura of Devouring Texts who said:

"Hello! There are just too many amazing books to choose from, but I think I'd pick Ready Player One cause I've been hearing loads of good things about it recently!

I can't even tell you how many of the books on your list I've loved, but let's jus say that The Complete Maus is one of my favourite things out of all the things that have ever been. So moving and yet not sentimental or horrid in any way.

Thanks for the giveaway, and I'm so glad I stumbled upon your blog! New follower fo sho!"

Fo sho, huh? Holla!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Where In the World Are You Reading?

The other day I was brainstorming post ideas with Kelly (Kailana) when a meme idea hit me smack in the face. Don't worry, it didn't hurt (snort).  Knowing that Kelly lives in a city foreign to mine, I thought it would be neat to see some of her local bookish hangouts--maybe public library, a bookstore, a favorite place to hangout and read. This then led to seeing pictures from all over the world of YOUR bookish haunts.

With such a diverse and worldly bookish community, wouldn't it be fun to learn about or see pictures from all over the world? Soon Kelly, Lisa, and I were brainstorming ideas for a monthly meme to showcase Where in the World Are You Reading. Each month will have a different theme such as a local bookstore, your local library, your favorite reading spot at home, a cafe you frequent to read, etc. To start, Where in the World Are You Reading meme will rotate between our blogs (Kelly, Lisa, and myself) each month. If it catches we might increase the frequency of the meme and include additional hosts in the rotation.

 Each month there will be a different theme for Where in the World Are You Reading (link to static meme page). On the first Thursday of the month a linky will post and you can link up any (and as many) time during the month. Please feel free to piggyback your post with other memes such as Sunday Salon, Snapshot Saturday, Wordless Wednesday, etc. Just be sure to include the button and a link back to the linky post. At the end of the month we'll create a wrap-up of all of the links for you to enjoy. We're hoping that Where in the World Are You Reading will help you get to know other bloggers as well as travel vicariously all around the world.

Will you join us next Thursday as we kick off with the theme of Local Bookstore?

Here are the other themes for you to look forward to:

July 5 – Local Bookstore (hosted by Trish)
August 2 – Library (hosted by Kelly)
September 6  – Waiting Reading (hosted by Lisa)
October 4 – Coffee Shop, Cafe, Etc. (hosted by Trish)
November 1 – Reading Companion (hosted by Kelly)
December 6 – Holiday Reading Escape (hosted by Lisa)
January 2 – Unusual Reading Places (hosted by Trish)
February 7 – Comfy Spot (hosted by Kelly)
March 7 – Used Bookstores (hosted by Lisa)
April 4 – Reading on the Go (hosted by Trish)
May 2 – A Drink (Do you read and drink wine? coffee? Share!) (hosted by Kelly)
June 6 – TBD (hosted by Lisa)
July 4 – TBD (etc etc) :)

So...are you in?  Hop on over to Kelly and Lisa's welcome post as well.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On Reviewing Audiobooks - Audiobook Week 2012

This week is Audiobook Week hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books. Join the fun by catching the daily discussion prompts.

Tuesday: So You Want to Review Audiobooks… Discuss the essentials of audiobook reviewing. What do you make sure to include? What do you want to see when you read other people’s reviews?

Today's topic is one that I struggle with so I'm hoping maybe you'll have some answers to help me out. I don't know about you but my brain processes audiobooks differently than it does paperbooks. I'm not sure how to explains this without going into a lot of detail but I think it boils down to me focusing on different things when reading and listening. When reading I pay much more attention to the writing and thematic elements and when listening much more to the plot. I'm not sure why this should make a difference but out of the 12 books I've listened to in 2012, I've only written posts for 3 of them.

 Do you have troubles reviewing audiobooks? Any tips you might share? 

 Besides the troubles I've been having actually getting the posts written, there are a few things that I look for when I'm reading about audiobooks and things that I try to include in my posts, usually under a section called "A Note about the Audio."

  • Duration of audio
  • Narrator's name
  • Style and performance of narrator - things that worked well and things that didn't.
  • General production notes (e.g. music in background)

Other than that I like to read audiobook reviews just like any other reviews--very little plot detail and a whole lot of what you liked/disliked and how the book made you feel.

What do you look for in audiobook reviews? Do you have any general tips for writing about audiobooks?

Monday, June 25, 2012

My Audiobook Year - Audiobook Week 2012

This week is Audiobook Week hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books. Join the fun by catching the daily discussion prompts.

Monday:  Are you new to audiobooks in the last year? Have you been listening to them forever but discovered something new this year? Favorite titles? New times/places to listen? This is your chance to introduce yourself and your general listening experience.

I started to listen to audiobooks about two and half years ago when I realized that they'd help me get in some reading time during my 45 minute commute to and from work (1.5 hours a day, at least). It was tough at first because I learned that I needed to train my brain to listen. I often zoned out and would drive the entire leg of my trip and realize I had no idea what was happening in my book.

Last year when I was on maternity leave without a commute I realized how much I missed listening to audiobooks. When I went back to work my listening increased exponentially and now I'm never without a book on my phone to listen to. In fact, I'm to the point of listening more than I'm reading! I'm currently listening to The Stand by Stephen King and re-listening Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

While I've trained my brain to listen better, I still haven't been great about actually reviewing the books I listen to. But two of my recent favorites:

Bossypants by Tina Fey and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

What are you listening experiences?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Literary Giveway Blog Hop - Hurrah!!

[giveaway closed]

Judith from Leeswammes is hosting a Literary Giveaway Blog Hop this week and I've decided to join the fun along with 60 other book bloggers around the world. I couldn't decide what to give away, so I'm giving the winner a choice of any book I've blogged about in the past five years.

How to enter:

  1. Leave a comment with the book of your choice from my list of books reviewed.
  2. Tell me one book you've read from the list that you loved.
  3. Include your email address in the comment.
  4. You don't need to follow me, but if you enjoy my blog I hope that you will!
Giveaway will be open until Wednesday June 27th at noon and I will draw a winner via

Check out the other Literary Giveaway Blog Hop Hosts:

  1. Leeswammes
  2. Candle Beam Book Blog
  3. Musings of a Bookshop Girl
  4. Book Journey (US/CA)
  5. breieninpeking (Dutch readers)
  6. bibliosue
  7. heavenali
  8. I Read That Once...
  9. The Parrish Lantern
  10. Tell Me A Story
  11. Seaside Book Nook
  12. Rikki's Teleidoscope
  13. Sam Still Reading
  14. Nishita's Rants and Raves
  15. Readerbuzz
  16. 2,606 Books and Counting
  17. Laurie Here (US/CA)
  18. Literary Winner (US)
  19. Dolce Bellezza
  20. The House of the Seven Tails
  21. The Book Diva's Reads (US)
  22. Colorimetry
  23. Roof Beam Reader
  24. Kate's Library
  25. Minding Spot (US)
  26. Silver's Reviews (US)
  27. Book'd Out
  28. Fingers & Prose (US)
  29. Chocolate and Croissants
  30. Scattered Figments
  31. Lucybird's Book Blog
  32. The Book Club Blog
  1. Lizzy's Literary Life
  2. The Book Stop
  3. Reflections from the Hinterland (US)
  4. Lena Sledge's Blog
  5. Read in a Single Sitting
  6. The Little Reader Library (UK)
  7. The Blue Bookcase (US)
  8. 1morechapter (US)
  9. The Reading and Life of a Bookworm
  10. Curled Up with a Good Book and a Cup of Tea
  11. My Sweepstakes City (US)
  12. De Boekblogger (Europe, Dutch readers)
  13. Exurbanis
  14. Sweeping Me (US/CA)
  15. Living, Learning, and Loving Life (US)
  16. Beauty Balm
  17. Uniflame Creates
  18. Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book (US/CA)
  19. Nose in a book (Europe)
  20. Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews (US)
  21. Giraffe Days
  22. Page Plucker
  23. Based on a True Story
  24. Read, Write & Live
  25. Devin Berglund (N. America)
  26. Ephemeral Digest
  27. Under My Apple Tree (US)
  28. Annette Berglund (US)
  29. Book Nympho
  30. A Book Crazy, Jane Austen Lovin' Gal (US)
  31. Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity
Happy Hopping!

[giveaway closed]

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook

Title: The Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook
Author: Lindsay Landis
Publisher: Quirk Books; Pages: 159
Rating: ZOMG

You've just made a big batch of chocolate cookie dough. You raise the beaters and...  Admit it, you snag a piece of cookie dough, look around to see if anyone is watching, and pop it in your mouth. If you're like this you might do this several times--or just lick the dough right off the beater, spoon, and spatula. Raw eggs be damned.

When I found out that Quirk books was publishing The Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook I knew that I had to get my cookie dough loving hands on it as soon as possible. When I ripped open the packaging, I literally squealed and then died from overload. Cookie Dough Lover's is an absolutely gorgeous, albeit a bit sinfully overthetop, cookbook that will make you exclaim O-M-Gee with every turn of the page.

A few nights after receiving the book I made the Cookie Dough Cheesecake for my Operation Springform Pan and it was amazing. Rich and delicious. While the recipe took a lot of steps to get to the end result, it was still easy to make. I can't wait to try the cookie dough ice cream and there are also the cookie dough crispy treats, chocolate chip cookie dough bread pudding, cookie dough stuff french guys, I'm not kidding you. Deep fried cookie dough fritters, cookie dough malts, cookie dough dessert pizza...

I knew before writing up this post I wanted to try one more recipe besides the cookie dough cheesecake. I went with the opening recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles and Quirk has given me permission to share the recipe with y'all.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles
Makes: 30-40 truffles (I didn't get this many...I assume it was because I cheated a bit...)
Active time: 1 hour
Total time: 2 hours

Cookie Dough:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons milk or cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Chocolate Coating:
8 ounces dark-chocolate candy coating

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in milk and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt and mix on low speed (or by hand) until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and chill dough for 30 minutes or until firm enough to handle.

Form dough into 1-inch balls and arrange them on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Place sheets in the freezer for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, melt chocolate candy coating in a double boiler or microwave according to package directions, being careful not to overheat it. Using a fork or dipping tool, dip truffles one at a time in candy coating to cover. Tap fork on the edge of the bowl to shake off excess coating, and return truffles to baking sheets to set.

You can see mine didn't turn out quite as pretty as the ones on the cover (I suspect the cheap candy coating I purchased as my grocery didn't have the 'good stuff'). But. I cannot stress to you how damn good these are. Dangerously good.

 Bottom Line: I'm so glad to have this fun little book on my kitchen shelf. While it might not always be practical, the desserts sure do impress. And if you have better self control than I do, you could just keep these little cookie dough balls in the freezer for a quick fix. Besides the delicious recipes, the layout and photographs are gorgeous. Full page pictures accompany every recipe. My only quip is that the recipes are lengthy and often taken two to three pages, but I suspect that much of this is due to Landis' throughout instructions (as evidenced above). I simply can't rave about this book enough.

 So...are you a cookie dough lover?

A yummy thanks to Quirk for sending me a copy to review. I'm pretty sure that my coworkers send their thanks as well for the treats I've been bringing up to the office. You can find more yummy goodness at Lindsay's blog Love and Olive Oil.

Every weekend, Beth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking.  "Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs."  Hope you'll join the fun!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag - Alan Bradley

Title: The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag
Author: Alan Bradley
Narrator: Jayne Entwistle
Published: 2010; Pages: 358
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Rating: 4/5

In Short: The ever inquisitive Flavia de Luce finds herself in another mystery when a traveling children's puppet show makes its way into her local parish and stirs up questioning when one of the puppets resembles a little boy who accidentally hung in the woods a few years prior. Ya--the plot is a bit complex with this one.

Why I read/Listened: I really enjoyed the first Flavia novel, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and during my maternity leave I needed something quick and snappy.  Both Amanda and Tanya are curious why I read AND listened to this one. I listened to it several months ago (and months after finishing the book) in hopes of remembering it well enough to write a review. Ha!

What You Wanted to Know:

How did this book compare, for you, to the first book in the series? (Kailana)

As with anything else, circumstances while reading greatly affect my enjoyment. I mostly read this book while nursing Elle, so in short bursts, whereas I read Sweetness within a few hours during a Readathon. Consequently I never really felt completely pulled into Hangman. Another factor was that the action in Hangman seems to come much later than in Sweetness. I think that my reaction would have been a little different had some of the mystery not be as delayed. All that said, I did still enjoy this one.

What do you think of Flavia as a character? Is she believable? (Kailana)

I love Flavia. She has a lot of characteristics that I would love to see in my own daughter when she's older--curiosity, intelligence, persistance. Maybe too smart for her own good but all in fun.

I thought this one was much darker than the first and not as believable. What did you think? Did you believe that an eleven-year-old could get mixed up in all that? (Joanna)

It is tough to keep in mind when reading these books that Flavia is only eleven. Granted a very intelligent eleven-year-old, but just as you begin to forget, Flavia does something pesky to remind you of her relative immaturity. I think I just had to swallow any bit of inconceivability and just go with it? What do you guys think of Flavia?

Bottom Line: I enjoyed reading this one and listening to it, but the audio only worked for me when I increased the speed to double time. Jayne Entwistle sounded too old and it was difficult to keep in mind that Flavia is so young--I think that Sarah Drew would have been a better fit. Overall? Liked Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie better but I'll eventually pick up the next book in the series.

Have you read any of the books in this series? What do you think of them?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

#Standalong Check-in

Hi kids! We're scheduled to be around the halfway point on July 1st. Some of you are overachievers (yes, this is me glaring at you--lovingly of course) and some of you haven't started yet. Not really sure what we should do for a check-in.

How are you doing with your reading progress? Are you enjoying? If you're on twitter make sure you're checking out #Standalong for fun little conversations or questions or ranting or...  ;)

Do you want to skip the mid-way check-in? Do you want to push up the final deadline (think we have July 21st slated but I could be wrong)?  Tell me what you're thinking...


EDITED: I think there are enough of us who are only partially through that we'll keep the deadlines the same.  Glad you're all enjoying the book!!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

meme for a rainy day

My goal for the rest of the month is to not go days without posting (like more than 3 days...I will NOT be post every day). But today I'm using my Meme for a Rainy Day (or in other words something I've had drafted for a while), so after today there's no telling what will happen.

So, remember when some folks asked me 11 questions and then I had to make up my own 11 questions for some more folks to answer? I loved my 11 questions so much that I decided I wanted to answer them too! (you see now why this is a rainy day post...)

1. What app do you love above all others? Not an app person? What about website?
Oh you mean besides twitter? (hangs head in shame). I really don't use many apps on my phone but I ADORE Pandora. This is a recent discovery but I loooourve. Most of the time I'm listening to Vampire Weekend or Phoenix Radio but for workouts its Lady GaGa radio and when I'm moody Ryan Adams Radio.

2. Describe your dream profession (sky is the limit)
A duel bookstore/quilt shop owner with a bakery in the corner. I'd keep up with this between jaunts as a broadway dancer/singer and teaching daily step aerobics classes. Tell me that wouldn't be awesomeness.

3. Appetizers or dessert?
Oh man this is tough. When I cook/entertain I rarely do appetizers but will sometimes to dessert. When we eat out we sometimes do appetizers but then are too full for dessert. So it depends. And goes back to the savory/sweet debate!

4. If you could be BFF with any fictional character, who would you choose?
Surely you guys know the answer to this, right? Really? Bonus points to the person who guesses correctly.

5. I say BLUE. What immediately comes to mind?
The sky.

6. Favorite song to blast and sing in your car with the windows down.
There are seriously so many, but I think my absolute favorite is Take Me out to a Dance Hall by Pat Green. This song defines my college years (the video isn't a real music video but the song...makes me smile).

7. What fashion fad makes you hang your head in shame?
Stirrup pants with the oversized sweatshirt. Limited Too would have been so much cooler if everyone hadn't been wearing the same exact outfit in 7th grade.

8. What are your thoughts on 80s Hair Bands?
I'm a big fan. Every time that Paxton has Billy the Kid week on his blog I feel that he must post Bon Jovi's Blaze of Glory. I mean...check out that hair.

9. What is a book you wanted to throw across the room? What is one you wanted to hug?
Throw across the room - Brothers Karamazov. I might have except for the fear that I would severely hurt someone. Hug - Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

10. Imagine you are an aerobics instructor--what song must be on your playlist?
Evacuate the Dancefloor.

11. What's for dinner tonight?
BBQ Pork Chops on the George Foreman with some roasted green beans and either sweet potato or red potatoes.

Bonus: What's your favorite go-to lipstick (including color)
Does Carmex count? I would love to wear lipstick but have never found the right color or the right consistency.

I know many of you shared some of your answers with me already, but I'd love to hear your take on these questions!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sunday Salon 65 - An E-Reader?!

Good morning! Hope you are all having a wonderfully lazy Sunday. Elle just went down for a morning cat-nap, I'm testing out a camo cake in the oven, and I figured I'd try to jot down a few words before we head out for a father's day lunch.

I'll keep today's post shortish. This week something happened that I absolutely did not foresee happening for quite some time. I purchased an e-reader. I feel dirty and traitorous just saying it. I'm an owner of an e-reader. *Shudders*

I'm not against e-readers--in fact I see more people reading now than I have in the past. They're incredibly convenient and light. They can store your entire library without the need for bookshelves. And well...they're cool. But I have so many books that I haven't read that I haven't felt the need for an e-reader.

What changed my mind? My coworker's daughter received one as a gift and she didn't want it. So I bought her Kindle (basic model) at a discount. I figured...why not?!

I immediately set out for the library website to see what I could download. Baby Signs! And then I checked out the public domain listings to see if I could download my book club pick for next month, House of Mirth. Check! While I don't think I'll be giving up my paper anytime soon, I am thinking that this little device will begin to change my bookish habits.  But don't worry--I'm still all about the paper as I think about future generations!

And fun fact--Lisa got a Nook a few days before I got my Kindle. She made an awesome cover for her Nook and I hope to steal two hours (one day) to make my own.

Do you own an e-reader? Has it changed your bookish habits? 

What do you have planned for today and this week?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Blackberry Cobbler - ala Betty Crocker

My mother has a cupboard full of cookbooks but the one we most frequently pulled from her shelf when we were cooking or baking was her worn red Betty Crocker Cookbook. This cookbook holds many of our family favorites such as the apple pie we bake at Thanksgiving and Christmas and the buttercream frosting we use to ice sugar cookies. The lentil soup always warms the soul and the cream puffs never fail to please.

I'm not sure when my mom got her copy of the cookbook but I knew that I wanted to have a copy for my own kitchen. Unfortunately it isn't widely available anymore--though you can buy a brand new copy for a pretty penny--and while I do have the updated Betty Crocker cookbook, it just isn't the same.

Several years ago during a local Friends of the Library Sale I was rummaging through the cookbook section when I saw the muted red cover peaking out from under the pile. I gasped and excitedly grabbed the copy. I flipped to the pie section just to make sure it was the same and yup--Fresh Apple Pie. And several pages back--yup, buttercream frosting. It was mine.

The cookbook itself is terribly outdated. The edition is from the 1970s and contains a brand new section for microwave cooking! (still cracks me up that people thought cooking casseroles in the microwave was a better idea than using the oven).  Some of the recipes are outdated (jello molds anyone?) and the pictures are old-fashioned. But anytime I want a recipe for something 'classic' I consult old Betty. She rarely lets me down.

I was recently looking for a cobbler recipe as blackberries were on sale and I couldn't help but buy half a dozen little packages. Some of you emailed me your own recipes for cobbler but I ended up consulting Betty to see what she had in store.  I had no idea what to expect from the taste of the recipe, and while it is different from what I was originally expecting, there weren't any complaints from the partakers!

 Betty Crocker's Cobbler

(note: Betty has variations in this cookbook for peach, blueberry, cherry, and plum. Since I figured blackberries were similar enough to blueberries I went with that variation)


½ cup sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
4 cups blackberries (or blueberries or any berry I guess!)
1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
3 tablespoons butter
½ cup milk

1. Heat oven to 400⁰ Fahrenheit.
2. Stir together sugar and cornstarch in a 2 quart sauce pan and add berries and lemon juice.
3. Cook fruit mixture, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and boils. Allow boil for 1 minute.
4. Pour fruit mixture into a 2 quart casserole dish.
5. In a small bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter using pastry knife (or fork like I did) until mixture resembles cornmeal (crumbly). 
6. Stir in milk and spoon dough onto fruit mixture.
7. Bake until hot, bubbly, and golden brown.
8. Gobble up over cold Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream (or whatever ice cream you have)

 Mmmmmmm. Berries.

 Uncooked dough droplets. Probably like Bisquick?

The cobbler portion is more like biscuits than the normal cobbler you might be used to, but it sure was yummy.  And the leftovers? We stirred the berry mixture into plain yogurt for a delicious after dinner treat. We actually love this idea so much that we currently have a cherry mixture on the stove cooking so we can then freeze for later for yogurt add-ins.

Do you have an old treasured cookbook?  I'd love to hear about it!

Every weekend, Beth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking.  "Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs."  Hope you'll join the fun!

On the Blog:
One Year Ago - Elle's Baby Quilt Finished!!
Two Years Ago - Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
Three Years Ago - Sunday Salon 10 - Second Blogiversary
Four Years Ago - A Rumor of War - Philip Caputo
Five Years Ago - New Books / Old Books

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Some Sunshine for You

It's been a while since I shared, ya? You know I typed up a 12 month post and never got around to adding any pictures and posting. Thirteen months came and went. Now we're two weeks shy of fourteen months. 

The other day I was getting her dinner ready and started singing "If you're happy and you know it..." and as I got to "clap your hands" she put her little hands together. Talk about putting a smile on my face!

She's distracted in the video by Scott--she keeps turning around to look at him--so it's probably not quite as impressive to you. But the end is my favorite. Love.

So, hope this brings you a bit of sunshine today.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The End of the Alphabet - CS Richardson

Title: The End of the Alphabet
Author: CS Richardson
Published: 2007; Pages: 119
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4/5

In Short: Ambrose Zephyr, a middle aged ad man, learns that he only has 30 days to live. Maybe more, maybe less. In an effort to make the most of his remaining days, he and his wife Zipper travel to different cities based on the letters of the alphabet.

Why I read it: The End of the Alphabet was selected for my work book club. I hadn’t heard of it before but it has a pretty cover and is short! Me likey.

Thoughts in General: I was a little nervous when I started this book because I had heard some negative comments from coworkers who finished it before I did. One evening I happened to have some time to myself so I headed to Starbucks and sat down with the little book. I devoured a third of it in one sitting, immediately falling in love with Ambrose and Zipper and their quirky story. The story moves back and forth between the present—with Ambrose learning of his sudden illness—and the past including memories of childhood and Ambrose and Zipper’s meeting and early romance.

This is a simple book, which I guess is to be expected with the length, but it packed so much emotion and feeling into every page. I felt the unspoken pain of Zipper as she prepared for her husband’s death, I felt the inability of Ambrose to voice his emotions and fears. I felt their love and their frustrations and their desire and sorrow. But not only was it an emotional read but it was also a stimulating one as well. Richardson has such a way with descriptions and being able to communicate the subjects that aren’t easy to convey and I know that I could read this little book again and glean so much more from every flashback, every conversation, every breakdown.

Bottom Line: I recommend this little book, but I feel like I must do so with some reservations. The length was too short—there was so much more I wanted to know and understand by the end of the novel. But on the other hand I think it’s one of those that is meant to exist mostly in your own imagination. Leaving just enough blanks for you to fill them in how you wish. Most of our bookclub members enjoyed the book and felt passionate about the characters and writing like I did. If you read this one I hope you enjoy it—it packs a big punch for a short 120 pages.

Have you read this one?

Are you off-put by short novellas? Do you feel they can be as effective as longer books?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday Salon 64: Carving Out Time to Read

Hi guys! First...I want to thank you all so much for your comments last week on my various bloggiversary posts. I can't tell you guys how much you make me smile, or laugh, and even sometimes cry. But all in very very good ways. I actually wanted to do more last week but life got in the way and my blogging fizzled out a bit. That's how it goes, huh?

The other day I had an AWESOME idea for a Sunday Salon topic. Sadly I failed to write it down and the idea has vanished completely. Don't you hate when that happens? Especially as it seems to be either feast or famine here--I'll have more ideas than I have time for or plenty of time but nothing to write. I could just ramble your ears off but I think I do enough of that already.

So instead, I thought I would ask you guys about your reading habits. 

Would it surprise you to learn that I rarely think to myself, "Ooooh, I've got a few minutes to spare! Maybe I'll pick up my book."  Don't get me wrong, I looooourve to read but usually there seem to be 10 million other things that also need to be done (like writing this Sunday Salon post on Saturday morning while the babe is napping). And that's not to say that there aren't days when I take every single opportunity I'm given to read a few pages in my book, because I'm thinking that Stephen King and I have a date with the LazyBoy later today...

Most days, though, my reading time looks like this: Listening to audiobook on the way to work. Maybe reading during my lunch break (if I'm not catching up on email/comments/blogs or working out). Listening to my audiobook on the way home from work. Maybe reading for thirty minutes before bed--this probably works out every other day. Unfortunately I can't read with the tv on. In fact, I was " bed" for Jenn's A Little Book Told Me So feature.

I think of it as scheduled reading and when that time is taken away from me (like busy season when lunches are shortened), I get cranky and restless. I've actually pondered getting up earlier to read before leaving for work (sometimes I do read before work if I'm really early). We schedule time for workouts and even for dinner. Why not schedule time for reading? Or does this idea seem silly.

So I'm wondering--how do you carve out time to read? Do you "schedule" it for specific times during the day or just pick up a book at will? Are there days when you don't read anything at all (gasp!)?  Do you have specific reading habits in order to fit your reading time in?

And please, this post is not about not having time to read.

Also--for the two giveaways last week.

1. Winner of any book I've reviewed is Melissa from Avid Reader's Musings!
2. Winner of Puffin Classic is Rebecca (RivkaBelle) from A Word's Worth

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How Blogging Has Changed My World

Or alternatively: It's My Five Year Bloggiversary!!!

I've been thinking a lot lately about my five year bloggiversary and all that it means. If you asked me five years ago if I'd still be blogging today I probably would have laughed at you. I was just out of grad school and Scott and I were living in a tiny town without much to do. I missed my grad school friends terribly and had a job that didn't really require much brain power.

I immediately fell in love with writing about books and connecting with book lovers all across the world. But over the past several months I've realized that blogging is more than a hobby for me. I think many of us can say that blogging has changed the way that we think or read or interact but blogging has literally changed my world. 

Once upon a time I would have told you that blogging has brought purpose to my reading. Of course reading is still pleasurable, but I thought about it more, I talked about it more, and duh--I wrote about it more. I paid attention to what I was reading, I paid attention to the books I wanted to read, and lately I've started paying more attention to details such as publishing houses and the different politics in the booking world (though this last piece to a lesser degree).

But over the past two years my blogging has stretched so much beyond books. It has allowed me a medium to personally stretch myself. It has allowed me to uncover other hobbies such as quilting, photography, and cooking/baking that I probably would have left undeveloped. Many days I stretch myself to the limit but the point is that I'm stretching myself--continuing working on personal development. Not only with hobbies but with self-reflection. There have been many times when I've felt like a lost wanderer but this blog has been a constant.

Not only have I stretched personally but through blogging I've discovered something about myself that I really love and really want to continue to develop. I love spreading joy to others and encouraging. Whether it be encouraging people to read more classics or non-fiction through challenges, or extreme cheerleading during the readathons, or get moving with the 100 Mile Fitness Challenge, or lately in the kitchen and in other areas through the Pinterest challenge and my Operation Kitchen challenge. (That's a lot of challenges!). But the point is, it brings me such joy to see you all happy! Now, if I could only figure out how to tap into that in "real" life whether it be work or otherwise.

The pitfall is that blogging is tough for non-bloggers to understand. I don't doubt that any of you understand what I'm talking about on this post but it's tough to explain isn't it? Perhaps what I want to say is Thank You. Thank you for sharing the past year or two or three, four, five with me. Thank you for stretching and learning with me for continuing on this journey with me. I am eternally grateful for your support and love throughout the years. Unfortunately at five years my 'free' time is much much more limited than it was in the very beginning, but I do hope you all know how much you've meant to me in this little journey.

If you ask me if I'll still be blogging in five years I'll go ahead and laugh at you now. By then we're hoping to add another (or two) babes to the brood and I know that life will continue to be exponentially complicated. But secretly? I hope so. I simply cannot imagine my life without blogging and all that it brings to my world. It's a tough hobby to explain to others, for certain, but it is one that has helped me grow more than I could ever have imagined.

How has blogging changed your world?

Thank you for indulging me. Thank you for everything really.

To many more...and with much love.

NOTE: As luck would have it, today happens to be one of those days when I'll be going non-stop until I hit the sack tonight. I won't be able to respond to comments today but I WILL respond to comments on this post. I WILL--you mark my words. ;)

I wanted to keep this post simple without many distractions of pictures and links, but if you're looking for more of a journey type of post, my four year bloggiversary sums up the journey better than this one.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Armchair BEA - Introducing Trish!

When I read that we were only supposed to answer 5 of 10 questions for this post in an effort to keep our posts short, I admit I went into a panic attack. Me? Brief? Bahahahaha!! But my best I will do. 

1. Who am I? How long have I been blogging? Why did I get into blogging?

My name is Trish and I'm a 30-something woman, wife, mom, cube worker, reader, quilter, cook, phototaker, and rambler.  I've been blogging for FIVE years tomorrow!! I got into blogging via Yahoo book groups. Let me tell you that this has been so much better than those book groups!

2. What am I currently reading? Best read of 2012 so far?

I'm currently reading THE STAND!! For my Standalong (readalong of The Stand). Nope, not too late to join us. My favorite book of 2012 so far is Wild by Cheryl Strayed--a memoir about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Honest and beautiful.

4. Favorite Feature on my Blog?

Operation Use My Kitchen Gadgets. Each month of 2012 I am challenging myself to use a specific kitchen gadget. So far I've done Crockpot, Food Processor, and most recently Springform Pan. The Pin it Do It Pinteresting Challenge was also a big hit and I'll have an encore challenge in October.

7. Dinner with any character?

What about drinks with Bridget Jones? I think I've said enough.

9. Favorite part about the book blogging community?

I don't think that I'm saying anything new by noting that the actual community--the relationships and connections--the friendships and the growth--those are my favorite things. I've loved getting to know these wonderful people who have been there to support and love in tough times and to laugh and smile in the good times. I couldn't ask for more.



As part of my five year celebration, I would like to giveaway your choice of one of the Puffin Clothbound Classics (have you seen how tasty they are?!)

The Choices:
The Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum
Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery
A Little Princess - Francess Hodgson Burnett
Peter Pan - J.M. Barrie
The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Adventures of Robin Hood - Richard Green
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain

To be eligible:
1. Tell me your favorite childhood book.
2. Tell me your email address (please make no assumptions about me being able to find it)

Entry will close Tuesday June 5th at 11:59 Dallas time (Central).

Giveaway #1 still open - Your choice of one book I've blogged about in the past five years.


Tell me a little something about YOU that I don't already know!

BEA button design courtesy Nina Reads

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday Salon 63: Five Year Blogging Timeline

Wouldn't it be so cool if today's post was a milestone number? Like my 75th Sunday Salon or even my 100th? But no, I'll settle for 63. Bah.

On Tuesday June 5th I celebrate my FIVE year bloggiversary. I've seen many of my blogging friends celebrate five years recently (some even longer!) and in a way it seems amazing that I've been doing this for five whole years. Five. I would have never guessed.

When Suey of It's All About Books celebrated her five years in March she did a very awesome timeline of her blogging career. According to Blogger this is post number 723 for me (including some drafts), but here are the highlights from the last five years.

Many of you already know that I credit the fabulous Wendy of Caribousmom for my starting a blog. She was a member in a Yahoo reading group that I took part in (can't remember which now) and each month she posted a wrap-up on her blog and posted it to the group. I LOVED this idea and after popping around a few other blogs I posted my first post:

June 5th, 2007 - First Things First. Of course this wasn't posted HERE but on Trish's Reading Nook. I especially love this: "Hopefully as I delve further into the blogging world, I will figure out how to add pictures and links and more advanced features." Ha!

Two days later I joined my first Reading Challenge (Book Awards Reading Challenge, thanks Michelle of 1 More Chapter) and quickly after that joined about a million more challenges and quickly began meeting many of the bloggers who I still call friends. I remember being SO nervous about joining Joy's Non-Fiction Five Challenge. After 27 posts that very first month of blogging, I never duplicated that amount of posting again. Not even with multiple posts during the readathons. Ha!

August 2007 - Scott and I moved to Dallas. I started a second blog called Love and Travel to journal some of our real life journeys. The blog no longer exists but I've transferred all of the posts here including the introduction.
 Scott and Trish - Taos, NM August 2007

The next year is almost exclusively book reviews! While I shared many little tidbits here and there, none of the posts were of personal nature. I'm not terribly fond of looking back at my old book posts, but some of my favorite books read in that year include Atonement, The Book Thief, The Things They Carried, and Remains of the Day.

February 11, 2008 I won my first book! The book was as a prize for By the Decades Challenge. I was SO excited.

On May 1, 2008 I joined Weekly Geeks headed by Dewey and met one of my favorite bloggers Debi.

Shortly after I took the leap and started my own reading challenge--The Classics Challenge!

June 25, 2008 I reviewed my first Blog Tour book: Springtime on Mars. I remember feeling so cool that I was reviewing something for an actual author.  In August 2008 I participated in the Far World Tour and had my first author interview with J. Scott Savage. This was the first blog tour I remember seeing and I'm not sure book blogging has been the same since then.

June 2008 - My first 24 Hour Readathon hosted by Dewey! I believe that this was actually the second hosted readathon but I was too scared to participate in the first.

During the readathon I believe was the first time I posted personal pictures of me on the blog. I remember being really nervous about sharing. I was thrilled to participate again in October 2008.

It's funny how after the readathon I started to get more personal on my blog. I recorded my first Vlog in November 2008 but sadly it won't play any longer. Shorty after the October readathon, our hearts were broken when Dewey suddenly passed away. My memorial - December 1, 2008. It's a simple post but I'll always think of Dewey when I see Hobbs.

More posts, more reviews. Still one of my favorites? My Twilight Self-Interview in January 2009.

March 2009 Scott and I traveled to Hawaii. I've lost many of my travel pictures on the blog (just haven't reuploaded yet) but this one is still in tact.

Around this same time began the Community/Connection drama (spurred by an anon comment on Amy's post). In response I decided to make myself fully part of the community and joined Sunday Salon. March 29, 2009 was my first Sunday Salon and I received the most comments on that post since I had started blogging.

April 2009 - Another Readathon! And my first of many many readathon vlogs.

Later that month I sparked my own drama with a Sunday Salon post about To ARC or Not to ARC. That became my most commented on post (and think it remained the most commented on post until Baby Billy Bob announcement).

May 2009 - I took over the hosting duties for the Non-Fiction Five Challenge! You know the one that I was so scared to join two years prior?!

June 2009 - I joined the insanity of Twitter. Eeeep!

July 2009 - Book Blogger Appreciation Week! I was nominated in the Best Commenter Category for two years (apparently also in 2008 but I can't find any posts for the first BBAW!).

August 2009 - Scott and I took a massive roadtrip to Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and Yellowstone. And I met my first blogger, Lisa!!

September 2009 - I attended the Brunonia Barry Lace Reader event. Was awesome!

October 2009 - 100 Mile Fitness Challenge!!

Also in October another Readathon with my absolute very favorite Readathon Vlog. Can't beat the blue snuggie. And this is where my Reading Nook begins to break down.

In January 2010 Scott and I moved and shortly after I miscarried. Getting back into book blogging after that just seemed impossible.

January 24, 2010 - Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity was born. This blog was intended to replace Love and Travel.

March 2010 - Posted my first recipe post (and one of my favorite recipes) for Easy Cheesy Tortellini.

April 2010 - I said goodbye to Trish's Reading Nook. This was the true birth of this blog as it is today. It took a long long time but I'm finally comfortable posting whatever I want to post here. I do try to keep things balanced, but boy do I love this blog now!

July 2010 - Finished machine quilting my first quilt!

September 2010 - I became an official Readathon Cheerleader.

October 2010 - Are you sick of the Readathon Vlogs yet?!

Also in October I hosted my first Readalong (having long ago given up on Reading Challenges).

November 2010 - Announced Baby Billy Bob coming Easter 2011!

I'm not going to lie. In the past year and a half I love so many of the posts that I've written that it's hard to pick out favorites or milestones. I do have to mention Thoughts on Slowing Down (even though I'm back up to speed now). 

Also in May I also participated in Armchair BEA for the first time. 

June 2011 - I finished Elle's Baby Quilt

August 2011 - I declared that I wanted to be just a Blogger--dropping the Book Blogger title.

More readalongs, more Readathons, more Blogger events and a variety of posts ensued.

In January 2012 I wrote about Postpartum depression. I've written many posts but this is probably the most personal.

Also in January I started Operation Use My Kitchen Stuff with great success!

March 2012 - I finally participated in my first Bloggiesta. I'm still excited about the lovely new header!

May 2012 - Pin it and Do it Pinteresting Challenge!!

and finally that brings us to...

June 2012 - The Standalong. Woot.

Later this week I'll continue to reflect upon five years of blogging, but I want to THANK YOU all for coming on this journey with me. I'm always wishing I had more time to keep up with this or that, but no matter what you've stuck with me and I can't tell you how much that means to me.



As part of my five year celebration, I would like to giveaway your choice of any book that I've written about in the past five years (new, not my copy). You can visit my Reviews by Title page to see the complete list.

To be eligible:
1. Tell me which book from the list interests you (you can change your mind later)
2. You must have left me at least one comment before. If you're new, find another post to comment on to be counted. Easy cheesy.
3. I must either have your email address or you must include it (hint--if we've never emailed, please include)

Entry will close Tuesday June 5th at 11:59 Dallas time (Central).


So tell me, what's one of your favorite blogging memories?!

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