20 December 2013

Book Review No. 80 ~ Champion


















Champion:  A Legend Novel by Marie Lu

Summary:  June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic--and each other--and now their country is on the brink of a new existence.  June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government's elite circles as Princeps-Elect, while Day has been assigned a high-level military position.  But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them:  just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic's border cities.  This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country's defense.  But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything.  With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu's bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.  (taken from book jacket)

First Line:  "Out of all the disguises I've worn, this one might be my favorite."

My Critique:  Well I wouldn't exactly call it a "stunning conclusion" but it was a nicely wrapped ending to the trilogy.  The action was present as it has been in the previous two books and all that jazz.  However (spoiler alert), I just felt that it was a bit of a let down to go the cliché retrograde-amnesia route.  Ugh.  I mean really?  Haven't we run that plot line to the ground?  Regardless, it kept me interested and I was glad to have read it.

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DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the afore mentioned book, Champion, are the sole views and opinions of the author and have nothing to do with me or my own views/opinions/beliefs...so get off my back. I am in no way affiliated with with afore mentioned author...except that one time in Vegas------------oh wait, ummm, nevermind.......

02 December 2013

Book Review No. 79 ~ Let It Snow


















Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, & Lauren Myracle

Summary:  Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow.  A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies.  Well, kinda.  After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger.  And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend.  Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks.  (taken from the Overview found on Barnes & Noble dot com)

My Critique:  My very first e-book!  I checked this book out via my library's e-book lending platform, OverDrive.  Side note:  It's awesome, you should check it out here.  You should all know of my love for John Green by this point.  I'm slowly reading my way through all his books.  I saw this one and when I noticed two other renowned young adult authors too...well, I knew I had to read it.  And I'm glad I did.  This book is broken down into three short stories...each story written by one of the authors but all intertwining together in the end.  Very pleasant and quick read.  A little holiday enjoyment.

Short Stories:  The Jubilee Express (Maureen Johnson); A Cheertastic Christmas (John Green); The Patron Saint of Pigs (Lauren Myracle)

Favorite Passages:  
"There is nothing about a bad situation that fourteen hyper cheerleaders can't worsen."  (The Jubilee Express)  hahahahahahahahahahaha

"...I had never before had a first kiss with a girl I loved."  (A Cheertastic Christmas) awwwww

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DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the afore mentioned book, Let It Snow, are the sole views and opinions of the authors and have nothing to do with me or my own views/opinions/beliefs...so get off my back. I am in no way affiliated with with afore mentioned author...except that one time in Vegas------------oh wait, ummm, nevermind.......

26 November 2013

Don't tell anybody, but...sometimes I miss school...

I went to see the new Hunger Games:  Catching Fire movie this weekend (which was so good by the way) and was reminded again of how similar this series is to two of my favorite short stories:  The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell and The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.  And as I watched the film I was struck by a mildly horrifying thought:  If I were still in school, this would make a fantastic paper topic.  Yeah, I said it...I kinda miss school a little bit...but sshhh...don't tell anybody.

19 November 2013

Book Review No. 78 ~ Paper Towns


Paper Towns by John Green

Summary:  Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar.  So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life--dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge--he follows.  After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery.  But Q soon learns that there are clues--and they're for him.  Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew.  (taken from book jacket)

My Critique:  I'm going to be honest...John Green has quickly become one of my favorite authors...period.  When I read this book...all through the book and even immediately after the book I was thinking "I really like this book."  But 2 days have passed since finishing the book and the more I think about it (and more importantly the more I think about Margo Roth Spiegelman) the more I'm changing my opinion.  I find Margo to be a drama queen and annoying more than the mysterious enigma she's meant to be.  She's one of those girls who will be followed by drama wherever she goes, despite her proclamations that she "hates drama."  I dunno...I'm just left with a general feeling of annoyance toward her.  However, there were some great sentences in this book.

Favorite Lines:
"Margo always loves mysteries.  And in everything that came afterward, I could never stop thinking that maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one."

"'Getting you a date to prom is so hard that the hypothetical idea itself is actually used to cut diamonds.'" haha

"Chuck Parson did not participate in organized sports, because to do so would distract from the larger goal of his life:  to one day be convicted of homicide."

"She had the kind of fingers you want to interlace with your own."

"It is so hard to leave--until you leave.  And then it's the easiest goddamned thing in the world."

I look forward to the movie.

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DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the afore mentioned book, Paper Towns, are the sole views and opinions of the author and have nothing to do with me or my own views/opinions/beliefs...so get off my back. I am in no way affiliated with with afore mentioned author...except that one time in Vegas------------oh wait, ummm, nevermind.......

18 October 2013

Book Review No. 77 ~ Boy Toy

OK so I tried to read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn but for some reason found myself unable to get wrapped up in the story.  I liked it when I was reading it but then when I put it down nothing compelled me to pick it back up again.  After keeping the book for 3 weeks I finally gave up and (gasp!) read the plot summary on Wikipedia.  Yes folks, confessions of a librarian...I don't always finish the book.  Anyway, I think I will really enjoy the movie in 2015...here's hoping.

So after that I picked up this book.  It's by the same author that wrote I Hunt Killers and The Game, Barry Lyga.  I found that I really liked his writing style...the man can compose some beautiful and profound sentences.  So I picked up this:


















Boy Toy by Barry Lyga

Summary:  Josh Mendel has a secret.  Unfortunately, everyone knows what it is.  Five years ago Josh's life changed.  Drastically.  And everyone in his school, his town--seems like the world--thinks they understand.  But they don't--they can't.  And now, about to graduate from high school, Josh is still trying to sort through the pieces.  First there's Rachel, the girl he thought he'd lost years ago.  She's back, and she's determined to be part of his life, whether he wants her there or not.  Then there are college decisions to make, and the toughest baseball game of his life coming up, and a coach who won't stop pushing Josh all the way to the brink.  And then there's Eve.  Her return brings with it all the memories of Josh's past.  It's time for Josh to face the truth about what happened.  If only he knew what the truth was...  (taken from book jacket)

First Lines:  "'Lucky thirteen,' my dad said when I blew out the candles on my birthday cake, and my mom shot down his lame attempt at humor with a disgusted 'Oh, Bill!'  But honestly, that's not the important part.  Not at all.  The ending began and the beginning ended and the whole mess just got fucked up beyond belief at the party at Rachel Madison's house a few days later."

My Critique:  Just right off the bat let me say that in order to give my full and true opinion of this book there will need to be SPOILERS.  So there's that...just so you know.  I admit that I was a bit hesitant to lug this book around on my adventures to the doctor's office and the car wash and the like because people do, in fact, judge a book by its cover and with a title like BOY TOY written across the front it seemed like I was reading some sort of smut and that I'm no better than some Fifty Shades of Grey groupie.  But whatever...I admit that I really didn't know what this book was about when I picked it up...as I mentioned Barry Lyga can compose some beautiful sentences that pique the literary recesses of my mind and I was excited to read something else by him.

Turns out when Josh is 12, just before his 13th birthday,  he has an ongoing sexual relationship with his teacher, Evelyn Sherman (Eve).  The book begins when Josh is 18 and Eve is being released from prison, having served her time.  Josh struggles to deal with conflicting emotions and with the thought that everyone knows is looking at him.  See, over the past 5 years while Eve was in prison, Josh has had everyone telling him that she's a monster and she did these horrible evil things to him...but he struggles to accept that because see...he wanted to have a sexual relationship with her.  He had a crush...more than a crush...he was infatuated with her...he daydreamed about her...fantasized about her...longed for her touch...her kiss.  So while everyone is saying how horrible she was all he can think about his how he was in love with her and he wanted it to happen and now that she got caught her whole life has been ruined.  There is a whole range of complex emotions here...both in Josh AND in the reader...because we are on this journey with him.  We are conflicted ourselves...because our minds tell us that she was his teacher and she shouldn't have let that happen but at the same time we have been inside his thoughts and know how he lusted for her.  It was sometimes easy to forget this was a budding relationship between teacher/student instead of simply between boy/girl.  In the end Josh goes to visit Eve after she is released from prison...wracked by guilt over having ruined her life and afraid to admit that he was angry at himself for doing so...and angry at himself for wanting it.  In their conversation Josh, and thereby the reader, learns that the entire dance was orchestrated by Mrs. Sherman from day 1.  That as soon as she saw him in class on the first day she was attracted and set her sights on him.  She manipulated him by orchestrating ways to get him alone...by treating him like an adult...by subtly seducing him until it seemed as if he were the initiator of their physical relationship.  Basically she manipulated his pubescent emotions until he was buzzing with his lust for her.  This is a huge revelation for Josh and he is finally able to sort through his emotions (baby steps) and begin to move on.  

The book ends with this:  "When I was 12 I was molested...and everyone in the world knew it but me."  Wow.

I really liked this book because of the emotional and psychological journey it takes both the protagonist and the reader on simultaneously.  Really delves into the complex emotions that go along with sexual abuse.

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DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the afore mentioned book, Boy Toy, are the sole views and opinions of the author and have nothing to do with me or my own views/opinions/beliefs...so get off my back. I am in no way affiliated with with afore mentioned author...except that one time in Vegas------------oh wait, ummm, nevermind.......




22 August 2013

Book Review No. 76 ~ The World's Strongest Librarian


















The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne
A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family

Summary:  A funny, book-obsessed kid, Josh Hanagarne was born to Mormon parents in rural Utah.  He plotted escape to Piers Anthony's magical land of Xanth, freaked himself out with Stephen King's Pet Sematary, and fell feverishly in love with Fern from E.B. White's Charlotte's Web.  Large for his age, Josh was playing the role of Tree in his elementary school play when he suddenly started twitching uncontrollably.  Turns out the tree had Tourette Syndrome.  By the time Josh turned twenty, his tics had become too drastic to ignore.  Desperate for liberation, Josh tried all possible treatments:  well-intentioned chiropractic massage from a future convict; antipsychotic drugs that left him in a fog; even Botox injected directly into his vocal cords to paralyze them, which left him voiceless for two years.  The results were dismal.  As his tics worsened, the list of casualties grew:  Josh's relationship with his girlfriend, his Mormon mission, his college career, countless jobs, his sense of self, and--slowly but relentlessly--his faith.  It turned out to be weight lifting that provided the most lasting relief, as Josh learned to "throttle" his tics into submission in the weight room.  Under guidance from an eccentric, autistic strongman--and former Air Force tech sergeant and prison guard in Iraq--Josh quickly went from lifting dumbbells and barbells to performing increasingly elaborate feats (like rolling up frying pans and bending spikes).  What started as a hobby became an entire way of life--and an effective way of managing his disorder.  At an imposing 6'7" and literally incapable of sitting still, Josh is certainly not your average librarian.  He is an aspiring strongman, bookish nerd, twitchy guy with Tourette Syndrome, devoted family man, and tearer of phone books.  A tall, think paradox in thick glasses.  Funny and offbeat, The World's Strongest Librarian traces this unlikely hero as he attempts to overcome his disability, navigate his wavering faith, find love, and create a life worth living.  (taken from book jacket)

First Lines:  "Today the library was hot, humid, and smelly.  It was like working inside a giant pair of glass underpants without any leg holes to escape through."  (something I can certainly relate to at my library)

My Critique:  I was fortunate enough to sit in on a session titled Quirky Books for Quirkier Librarians at the annual conference of the American Library Association in Chicago in late June.  It was in this session that I heard Josh speak and I have to say, that single 10-minute speech was probably the most moving and touching speech I've ever witnessed in person and was by far the most memorable thing of the entire conference.  Josh has such an enigmatic personality and charisma that draws you in and makes you feel as if you've been friends for years even if you've never actually met in person and you're just watching from the back row...as was my case.  I knew the book would be a laugh-out-loud kind of book so when I found myself audibly chuckling while reading I wasn't surprised.  What I was not prepared for, however, was the tears I found myself wiping away after reading about certain struggles he (and his wife) have faced.  I won't say more but this book drew me in...in the same way a novel might draw you in.  I found it entertaining, informative, fascinating, humorous, touching, and well worth the read.  Even if you're not a fan of non-fiction (i.e. ME), I highly recommend you read this book.  


You can thank me later for introducing you to this book.  heehee

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DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the afore mentioned book, The World's Strongest Librarian, are the sole views and opinions of the author and have nothing to do with me or my own views/opinions/beliefs...so get off my back. I am in no way affiliated with with afore mentioned author...except that one time in Vegas------------oh wait, ummm, nevermind.......

29 July 2013

Book Review No. 75 ~ Game

So it's my 75th post (in this forum).  I feel like it should be extra special or something but it's just gonna be normal...so if you were hoping for something more special, sorry bout cha.

Game by Barry Lyga

Summary:  Several months have passed since Jazz helped the Lobo's Nod police force catch the serial killer known as the Impressionist.  Every day since then, Jazz has dealt with the guilt of knowing he was responsible for his father's escape from prison.  Now Billy Dent is on the loose, ready to kill again.  Jazz's reputation has spread far beyond the borders of his sleepy hometown, and when a determined New York City detective comes knocking on Jazz's door asking for help with a new case, Jazz can't say no.  The Hat-Dog Killer has the Big Apple in a panic, and the police are running scared.  Jazz has already solved one crime, but at a high cost.  Innocent people were murdered because of him.  Is the Hat-Dog Killer his means of redemption?  Or will Jazz get caught up in a killer's murderous game?  And somewhere out there, Bill is watching...and waiting.  (taken from book jacket)

First Line:  "She has screamed, but she had not cried."

My Critique:  So this is the sequel to I Hunt Killers and as such it did a good job of resolving some of the questions raised by the first book but when I closed the book that final time I found I was left with even more questions.  As there is obviously going to be a third book to this series, this book followed the pattern ascribed to most second books...serving to move the story from book one (big action and drama) to book three (big action and drama) without containing a tremendous amount of big action and drama in and of itself.  However, that being said, this book was NOT a disappointment and offered its share of action and suspense.  It was definitely interesting and one of the better sequels I've read.  In other news, the latest gossip is that ABC Family has optioned I Hunt Killers for a TV series with the script written by the same screenwriter for Dexter...so that should be interesting.

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DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the afore mentioned book, Game, are the sole views and opinions of the author and have nothing to do with me or my own views/opinions/beliefs...so get off my back. I am in no way affiliated with with afore mentioned author...except that one time in Vegas------------uh, nevermind.......

20 June 2013

Book Review No. 74 ~ Geography Club


















Geography Club by Brent Hartinger

Summary:  Russel Middlebrook is convinced he's the only gay kid at Robert L. Goodkind High School.  Then his online gay-chat buddy turns out to be none other than Kevin, the popular but closeted start of the school's baseball team.  Soon Russel meets other gay students too.  There's his best friend, Min, who reveals that she's bisexual, and her soccer-playing girlfriend, Terese.  And there's Terese's politically active friend, Ike.  But how can kids this diverse get together without drawing attention to themselves?  "We just choose a club that's so boring, nobody in their right mind would ever in a million years join it.  We could call it Geography Club!"  Brent Hartinger's debut novel is fast-paced, funny, and trenchant portrait of contemporary teenagers who may not learn any actual geography in their latest school club, but who learn plenty about the treacherous social terrain of a typical American high school and the even more dangerous landscape of the human heart.  (taken from book jacket)

First Line:  "I was deep behind enemy lines, in the very heart of the opposing camp."

My Critique:  Here's the deal...I love a coming of age story as much as the next guy but this one seemed at once both a bit too tidy and a bit too messy.  It's so cliché with the plot and characters.  There's the token school outcast and the token school jock bullies.  And then the star baseball player (who is the total heart throb of the entire school) just so happens to be gay and is also interested in the protagonist of the story?  I mean really?  That kind of stuff doesn't happen.  That would be like high school me finding out that Jimmy McClung (Jimmy McClung!) had a thing for chubby girls and, guess what!!, he liked me.  Just doesn't happen.  I thought the idea behind the book was a good one...an in depth look at teens struggling with their sexuality and coming to terms with that within their own selves and also with their families and friends....good thing the main character's best friend not only accepted him for being gay but...now here's a shocker...she's gay too!  How about that?!  I mean really?  Really?  It was just not believable from the get go.  But it only took me about 4 hours to read it so really, what did I lose?  Nothing.  Anyway, take that advice as you will.

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DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the afore mentioned book, Geography Club, are the sole views and opinions of the author and have nothing to do with me or my own views/opinions/beliefs...so get off my back. I am in no way affiliated with with afore mentioned author...except that one time in Vegas------------uh, nevermind.......

17 June 2013

Book Review No. 73 ~ I Hunt Killers



















I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

Summary:  It was a beautiful day.  It was a beautiful field.  Except for the body.  Jazz is a likable teenager.  A charmer, some might say.  But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, "Take Your Son to Work Day" was year-round.  Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could--from the criminal's point of view.  And now, even though Dad has been in jail for years, bodies are piling up in the sleepy town of Lobo's Nod.  Again.  In an effort to prove murder doesn't run in the family, Jazz joins the police in the hunt for this new serial killer.  But Jazz has a secret--could he be more like his father than anyone knows?  (taken from book jacket)

First Line:  "By the time Jazz got to the field outside town, yellow police tape was everywhere, strung from stake to stake in a sort of drunken, off-kilter hexagon."


My Critique:  OK fine, I'll admit it...I'm fascinated by serial killers (and all criminal psychology really) so this book is right up my alley.  I loved it.  BUT I will say that I personally found it to be a bit much for young adult.  It's dark and grotesque and intense and gruesome and everything in between.  Again, I loved it, but I'm also 34 years old...can't imagine reading this is a teen.  But that's a matter of personal opinion.  If you like thrillers, mysteries, crime novels, or criminal psychology, this book is full of it and is captivating.  Definitely recommend it.  There's a sequel:  Game which I will begin as soon as I possibly can.

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DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the afore mentioned book, I Hunt Killers, are the sole views and opinions of the author and have nothing to do with me or my own views/opinions/beliefs...so get off my back. I am in no way affiliated with with afore mentioned author...except that one time in Vegas------------uh, nevermind.......

22 May 2013

Book Review No. 72 ~ Prodigy


















Prodigy by Marie Lu (a Legend novel)

Summary:  After escaping from the Republic's stronghold of Los Angeles, June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens:  the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place.  With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the pair joins a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and who offer them passage to the Colonies.  The Patriots have only one request--June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.  It's the chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.  But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she's haunted by the choice ahead.  What if Anden is a new beginning?  What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood?  What if the Patriots are wrong?  (taken from book jacket)

First Line:  "Day jolts awake beside me."

My Critique:  This book is, obviously, a continuation of the previous book Legend.  The book picks up immediately where the previous book left off--which I love.  I really hate when you read a sequel and it's like "4 years later" or something.  I like following the action all the way through.  I've had a very very busy couple of months so what should have taken me 2 days to read has actually taken about 5 weeks.  BUT I was so engrossed in the story that I found myself thinking about it when I wasn't reading it.  I wanted to read but had a hard time finding spare time to dedicate to it.  This book was action packed and did a good job of answering questions that arose in the previous book but raised questions and plot points to be explored in the following book.  I am enjoying this series almost as much as I enjoyed Hunger Games.  I look forward to reading the next book and think if you're a fan of YA fiction, dystopian fiction, or conspiracy stories, this would be a good book to read.  Enjoyable for both guys and gals.

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DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the afore mentioned book, Prodigy, are the sole views and opinions of the author and have nothing to do with me or my own views/opinions/beliefs...so get off my back. I am in no way affiliated with with afore mentioned author...except that one time in Vegas------------uh, nevermind.......

16 April 2013

Book Review No. 71 ~ Legend


















Legend by Marie Lu

Summary:  Once known as the western coast of the United States, the Republic is now a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors, the Colonies.  Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a military prodigy.  Obedient, passionate, and committed to her country, she is being groomed for success in the Republic's highest circles.  Born into the slums of the Republic's Lake sector, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal.  But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.  From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths--until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered, and Day becomes the prime suspect.  Now, caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June tries desperately to avenge Metias's death.  But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths to which their country will go to keep its secrets.  (taken from book jacket)

First Line:  "My mother thinks I'm dead."

My Critique:  Ok I know what you're thinking...another dystopian book...am I right?  But before you judge this book to harshly as being another in a string on the dystopian bandwagon, read what I have to say about it.  This book is one I could have easily read in one sitting had I had the luxury of time.  The plot alternates between the perspectives of Day and June, each chapter written from an alternating point of view which keeps it moving along quickly and interesting.  I'm a big fan of this type of writing style.  I was excited to finish this book because the second book in this series (Prodigy) just came out so I can go right into reading it.  I can't wait to get started and I definitely recommend you read this book.  It's well written, entertaining, witty, climatic, smart, sinister, and everything in between.  All of that is made even more remarkable by the fact that Marie Lu was just 14 when she started writing this series.  What had I done by 14?  Perfected mascara application technique and that's about it...

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DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the afore mentioned book, Legend, are the sole views and opinions of the author and have nothing to do with me or my own views/opinions/beliefs...so get off my back. I am in no way affiliated with with afore mentioned author...except that one time in Vegas------------uh, nevermind...

I don't like soup but I love cabbage

In a recent conversation with a friend I was thinking about what my favorite vegetable would be.  Finally it came to me...it's cabbage.  I love cabbage.  I like it in stir fry, I like it stewed, I like it raw...  So then I started looking up cabbage recipes and not surprisingly I came across many for cabbage soup.  I've never actually had cabbage soup but love cabbage rolls and the soup has a lot of the same flavor profile of cabbage rolls so I decided to go for it.  AND it's calorie friendly...so yay!  This recipe makes a TON of soup and I took out a few servings for me this week and froze the rest.  It is delicious!!  It ends up being a very thick and chunky soup.  Here's the recipe.

Cabbage Soup

1 medium head green cabbage, chopped
3 stalks celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups water (could use beef broth but that would affect the nutritional content)
1 packet dry onion soup mix
Salt & Pepper to taste (about 1 Tablespoon each)
1 to 1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef, browned and drained
2 cans (15 oz each) tomato sauce
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 small can tomato paste

In a soup pot, brown ground beef.  Remove from pot and drain.  Cook cabbage, celery, onion, and garlic until beginning to wilt.

Add water.  Cook on medium-high heat until tender (this could be as long as around 20-30 minutes).  Add onion soup mix, salt, pepper, ground beef, and tomato sauce.

Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add brown sugar and tomato paste.  Simmer 10 more minutes to allow flavors to blend.  






Yield 5 quarts

1 serving (1 cup) equals 80 calories, 3g fat, 6g carbohydrates

13 March 2013

Book Review No. 70


















Guitar Notes by Mary Amato

Summary:  On odd days, Tripp Broody uses a school practice room to let loose on a borrowed guitar.  Eyes closed, strumming that beat-up instrument.  Tripp escapes to a world where only the music matters.  On even days, Lyla Marks uses the same practice room.  To Tripp, she's trying to become even more perfect--she's already a straight-A student and an award-winning cellist.  But when Lyla begins leaving notes for him in between the strings of the guitar, his life intersects with hers in a way he never expected.  What starts as a series of snippy notes quickly blossoms into the sharing of interests and secrets and dreams, and the forging of a very unlikely friendship.  Challenging each other to write songs, they begin to connect, even though circumstances threaten to tear them apart.  (taken from book jacket)

First Line:  "The clock-radio alarm drills into Tripp Broody's ears, and his eyelids open."

My Critique:  I found this book to be charming.  I read it in about 4 hours one lazy Sunday afternoon.  It's not deep or philosophical or any of that.  There are no earth shattering romances.  None of that.  And yet I found the characters endearing and charming and I quite enjoyed spending time with them.  It was sweet and sad and funny and all sorts of things in between.  Will it change your life?  No.  Am I glad I read it?  Yes.

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DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the afore mentioned book, Guitar Notes, are the sole views and opinions of the author and have nothing to do with me or my own views/opinions/beliefs...so get off my back. I am in no way affiliated with with afore mentioned author...except that one time in Vegas------------uh, nevermind...

12 February 2013

BLT Dip?? Yes please!

Thus far, the cult-ish fad that is Pinterest has done nothing but let me down when it comes to recipes.  Everything I've ever tried to make from there has been an epic failure...and I'm a halfway decent cook and can stumble my way around a kitchen.  But when I saw a recipe for BLT Dip I thought it sounded too good to pass up.  Naturally, I didn't follow the recipe, as is my custom, but took it and ran with it to make my own version.  Here, ladies and gentlemen, is the best hot dip...EVER...

BLT Dip

Ingredients:
1 lb bacon, cooked, drained, crumbled, and divided
1 small onion, diced and sauteed until carmalized
1 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
4 cups shredded cheese (I used Sargento 6 Cheese Italian)*
1 (8 oz) container sour cream**
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pinch Cayenne pepper
4 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
Grape tomatoes, quartered
Shredded lettuce
Crackers/chips for serving

*Note:  The original recipe calls for 2 cups shredded mozzarella and 2 cups shredded Fontina cheese but I found this Sargento blend that has both mozzarella AND Fontina cheeses in it along with Provolone, Romano, Asiago, and Parmesean cheeses...AND it's much cheaper to do it this way...the Fontina cheese alone would have been $6.00 but buying 2 bags of this cheese was less than that.


**Note:  The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup mayonaise...that's what I did in the recipe I made...however, Ragan and I both agree that the mayo didn't make enough of a difference flavor-wise to warrant having it in the recipe and I'll omit it next time in favor of the entire container of sour cream.  See, if you're like me, you don't always have mayo in the fridge (I'm not a huge fan of mayo) so by using the entire container of sour cream you omit an extra ingredient you have to purchase.


Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 1 1/2 quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  (I used a smaller rectangle casserole dish).

Set aside 1/2 cup crumbled bacon.

In a large bowl, combine all remaining ingredients except tomatoes and lettuce.  Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until hot and  bubbly.













Sprinkle with chopped tomatoes, lettuce, and remaining bacon. 













 Serve immediately with chips and crackers.

04 February 2013

Book Review No. 69


















The Selection by Kiera Cass

Summary:  For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime.  The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth.  To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels.  To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.  But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare.  It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her.  Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want.  Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.  Then America meets Prince Maxon.  Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself--and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.  (taken from book jacket)

First Line:  "When we got the letter in the post, my mother was ecstatic."

My Critique:  This book was described to me as a cross between The Bachelor and Hunger Games.  I envisioned a fresh lot of girls, all competing for the affections of Prince Maxon in a fight to the death type battle.  That's not what I got.  However, I still enjoyed the book.  It's a very quick read.  It's silly.  It's not profound but I really enjoyed it nonetheless.  If you're looking for pure entertainment in a Dystopic type world...this book is good.  Yes there's the typical love triangle but dang it...I still found myself swept up on it.  Looking forward to book 2 coming in April.  :)

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DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the afore mentioned book, The Selection, are the sole views and opinions of the author and have nothing to do with me or my own views/opinions/beliefs...so get off my back. I am in no way affiliated with with afore mentioned author...except that one time in Vegas------------uh, nevermind...


Book Review No. 68


















Forever... by Judy Blume

Summary:  The bed is brass, covered with a patchwork quilt, and "nice and firm" Michael says, "in case you're interested."  Katherine is interested.  From this night on their life is a love story.  But Katherine is in love with love, and Michael is in love with Katherine.  Judy Blume has written a blithe and telling novel about young people in love--not only Katherine and Michael, but their suburban friends as well.  "No preaching (Blume never does), but the message is clear; no hedging (Blume never does), but a candid account by Kath gives intimate details of a first sexual relationship.  The characters and dialogue are equally natural and vigorous,  the language uncensored, the depiction of family relationships outstanding."  (taken from book jacket)

First Line:  "Sybil Davison has a genius I.Q. and has been laid by at least six different guys."

My Critique:  Well as you can tell from the opening line, this book is very sexual in nature.  Because of that, it has been surrounded by controversy and you know me...shroud something in controversy and I'm there.  So I wanted to read it for that reason specifically.  I gotta say, I quite enjoyed the book.  I felt it was a very accurate account of a first time sexual experience and I think that could be beneficial to a lot of teens who have a romanticized view of it BUT I'm just saying, I wouldn't want my teen to read it.  LOL

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DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the afore mentioned book, Forever..., are the sole views and opinions of the author and have nothing to do with me or my own views/opinions/beliefs...so get off my back. I am in no way affiliated with with afore mentioned author...except that one time in Vegas------------uh, nevermind...

18 January 2013

Book Review No. 67

Whelp...I suck...yep it's been 2 months since my last book review.  Oh well...holidays, craziness, etc.  At any rate, here's the latest book I read.


















Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan

Summary:  It’s not that far from Evanston to Naperville, but Chicago suburbanites Will Grayson and Will Grayson might as well live on different planets.  When fate delivers them both to the same surprising crossroads, the Will Graysons find their lives overlapping and hurtling in new and unexpected directions.  With a push from friends new and old—including the massive, and massively fabulous, Tiny Cooper, offensive lineman and musical t heater auteur extraordinaire—Will and Will begin building toward respective romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most awesome high school musical.  (taken from book jacket)

First Paragraph:
“When I was little, my dad used to tell me, ‘Will, you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.’  This seemed like a reasonably astute observation to me when I was eight, but it turns out to be incorrect on a few levels.  To begin with, you cannot possibly pick your friends, or else I never would have ended up with Tiny Cooper.”

My Critique:  I really really loved this book.  It's written by two renowned authors in the young adult literature scene and each title character is written by one author.  It's just alike enough to flow together and just different enough to keep you interested.  Very interesting concept and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  I'm always a fan of John Green and would recommend this book----but not if you're easily offended as it does include quite a bit of controversial topics.

A few beautiful sentences from this book:
"You like someone who can't like you back because unrequited love can be survived in a way that once-requited love cannot."  (pg. 43)

"He is both the source of my happiness and the one I want to share it with."  (pg. 73)

"She kisses like a sweet devouring, and I don't know where to touch her because I want all of her."  (pg. 134)

"He is starting to blush from what he's said, and he's actually too shy to lean down to me, so I find myself lifting to kiss him, keeping my eyes open because I want to see his surprise and see his happiness because there's no way for me to see or even feel my own."  (pg. 149)

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DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the afore mentioned book, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, are the sole views and opinions of the author and have nothing to do with me or my own views/opinions/beliefs...so get off my back. I am in no way affiliated with with afore mentioned author...except that one time in Vegas------------uh, nevermind...

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