Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Year In Review

Reading Goal: 45 Achieved: 57
TBR Shelf: 25      Achieved: Way.too.many.

I confess. I'm not sure what happened to my TBR shelf. It kind of exploded on me. Maybe buying Oddo the Nook wasn't such a great idea? [nodding and listening] Yeah, you're right, Oddo was an awesome idea. Anyways, I'll keep working on the TBR shelf for 2012.

Reading Goal: 47
TBR Shelf: 5 on Oddo
                   30 on physical shelf

Favorites from 2011: This was a little tough. I didn't read much that truly stood out in my head. It was the year of mediocre reading. A few books that stood out a little more than the rest:

A Town Like Alice was a surprise find. A book I thoroughly enjoyed and wish I had kept in my personal collection for a future re-read.

The Weird Sisters was entertaining and very real to me. I recommend it for anyone who has sisters.

Beat the Reaper was another surprise find. Amazing writing all the way to the end.

The Help was a great book that pulled me out of a reading slump.

The Ape House was another great book by an author who is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

I can't help but mention Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, it was a fun fun book that I can't wait to share with The Spawn.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Little Women

Little Women (Little Women, #1)Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I haven't read this book in, oh, probably twenty years. I remembered a few things from the book which helped because overall I felt the book was rather anti-climatic. On the other hand, this book read very well and wasn't filled with heavy overtones considering the time period it was authored. I did find myself skimming quite a bit when the author would go off in the narration voice on morality or whatever soapbox needed standing on.

SummaryLittle Women is one of the  best loved books of all time. Lovely Meg, talented  Jo, frail Beth, spoiled Amy: these are hard lessons  of poverty and of growing up in New England during  the Civil War. Through their dreams, plays,  pranks, letters, illnesses, and courtships, women of all 0; ages have become a part of this remarkable family  and have felt the deep sadness when Meg leaves the  circle of sisters to be married at the end of Part  I. Part II, chronicles Meg's joys and mishaps as a  young wife and mother, Jo's struggle to become a  writer, Beth's tragedy, and Amy's artistic pursuits  and unexpected romance. Based on Louise May  Alcott's childhood, this lively portrait of  nineteenth-century family life possesses a lasting vitality  that has endeared it to generations of readers.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Hidden Staircase

The Hidden Staircase (Nancy Drew, #2)The Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a quick read. The formal writing is quaint. The lack of reality in the stories makes it easy to read and put aside as purely entertainment.

Series: Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #2

SynopsisNancy is introduced to Miss Flora and Aunt Rosemary by Helen Corning, a character who aids Nancy in the previous, and first, volume of the series. They believe that their home is haunted. Odd things have been happening at the Mansion. A valuable necklace has been stolen, and an owl gets into the house, seemingly of their own accord.Meanwhile, Nancy's father is being harassed by a crooked character, Nathan Gomber, who threatens violence. Carson Drew will travel to Chicago during the first part of Nancy's stay at the old estate and join her later. Nancy finds it difficult to focus on the mystery at hand when her father fails to arrive home from Chicago in a timely manner - he appears to have vanished.

Recommended Reading:
The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene
The Bungalow Mystery by Carolyn Keene
The Mystery at Lilac Inn by Carolyn Keene
The Secret of Shadow Ranch by Carolyn Keene

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Thirty Nights with a Highland Husband

Thirty Nights with a Highland Husband (Daughters of the Glen, #1)Thirty Nights with a Highland Husband by Melissa Mayhue
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a pretty classic travel back in time fall in love, come back to the present kind of story. It was funny and cute and overly gushy romantic. The characters are flat, the heroine morphed over night from wimpy girl to kick ass first take names later. It's the author's writing that kept me in the story over the plot, characters or whatever. Very good writing, which is unusual for this genre.

Series: Daughters of the Glen Book 1

Synopsis: SCOTLAND, 1272. Connor MacKiernan, a descendant of the Fae Prince, is a warrior who lives only for honor and duty. Though he's vowed never to marry, that's exactly what he must do to save his sister. Enter a little Faerie magic, and the search for a bride is on.

DENVER, 2007. Caitlyn Coryell is having a really bad day — she just discovered her fianc√© with another woman! Imagine her surprise when she puts on some sexy lingerie and an antique pendant and Connor appears in her bedroom, begging for her help. He offers a simple yet outrageous adventure: travel to his time, marry him, and return home.

But nothing's simple when Cate is trapped in the thirteenth century. The wedding's delayed, someone's trying to kill her, and in the middle of all this, she realizes she's falling in love with a man who can only be her husband for thirty nights.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bone Rattler

Bone Rattler: A Mystery of Colonial America (Duncan McCallum, #1)Bone Rattler: A Mystery of Colonial America by Eliot Pattison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When it comes to historical fiction involving Scotland (or at least Highlanders) in the 1700's... this wasn't the same caliber as a Diana Gabaldon, but if you love her you'll like this! This was a well-written novel involving many aspects of history - from Scotland, to England, to America. I really enjoyed the characters, although I did struggle trying to remember who was who sometimes. The plot twisted and turned and came together brilliantly at the end. I thought I had read that this was the first book of a trilogy, so I will be looking for the next books in the series.

Synopsis: Aboard a British convict ship bound for the New World, protagonist Duncan McCallum witnesses a series of murders and apparent suicides among his fellow Scottish prisoners. A strange trail of clues leads Duncan into the New World and eventually thrusts him into the bloody maw of the French and Indian War. Duncan is indentured to the British Lord Ramsey, whose estate in the uncharted New York woodlands is a Heart of Darkness where multiple warring factions are engaged in physical, psychological, and spiritual battle.Exploring a frontier world shrouded in danger and defying death in a wilderness populated by European settlers, Indian shamans, and mysterious scalping parties, Duncan, the exiled chief of his near-extinct Scottish clan, finds that sometimes justice cannot be reached unless the cultures and spirits of those involved are appeased.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Mom's Chili

This is the way my mom made chili growing up (except with diced tomatoes). One thing that I like about the recipe is that it's kid friendly, but it doesn't take much to jazz it up for adults. You can add green chiles, jalapenos, tobasco sauce, or increase the chili powder - whatever you want to do to increase the heat. The measurements are approximate (I've never actually measured) so adjust as needed.

1 lb. hamburger
1/2 onion chopped fine (my mom shreds her onion with a cheese grater and the anti-veggie sister is none the wiser)
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with roasted garlic and onion
45.5 oz can chili style beans in chili gravy
15 oz can red kidney beans (light or dark), drained and rinsed
16 oz can Bush's Original Baked Beans (yes, it has to be Bush's)
5.5-8 oz can V8 vegetable juice (if you want less sauce, use the small can, if you like more sauce, use the big can, on that note: I use two small cans)
1-1/2 tbsp chili powder
3/4 tbsp cumin
2 bay leaves

Brown hamburger and onion in large pot. Drain grease.

Add remainder of ingredients, mix well and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for a minimum of 20 minutes.