Friday, December 1, 2017

Bookish Goals Status Update: November 2017



In an effort to help keep myself on track, I am going to post monthly status updates showing where I stand for each of my 2017 Goals.

Anything highlighted in gray is currently in progress, but not yet completed.

  • Read and review at least 40 books 
    1. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
    2. Everbound by Brodi Ashton
    3. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
    4. This Girl by Colleen Hoover
    5. Evertrue by Brodi Ashton
    6. The Black Circle by Patrick Carman
    7. Where She Went by Gayle Forman
    8. Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout
    9. Lust for Life by Jeri Smith-Ready
    10. Unhinged by A.G. Howard
    11. The Death Cure by James Dashner
    12. Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter
    13. Matched by Ally Condie
    14. Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
    15. Ensnared by A.G. Howard
    16. Elegy by Tara Hudson
    17. Bitter Pill by Stacey Kade
    18. The 6th Target by James Patterson
    19. United We Spy by Ally Carter
    20. In Too Deep by Jude Watson (39 Clues #6)
    21. When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt
    22. Cruel and Unusual by Patricia Cornwell
    23. Until the Beginning by Amy Plum
    24. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
    25. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
    26. One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank
    27. The Viper's Nest (39 Clues #7) by Peter Lerangis
    28. Breathe, Annie, Breathe By Miranda Kenneally
  • I am once again participating in the New To You Challenge hosted by The Herd Presents.  I'm going to aim for 12-15 books. Any book over 80 pages qualifies as long as it is new to you.  New author, new genre, new series, etc.
    1. Three Dark Crowns - New Series and New Author
    2. Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout - New Series and New Author
    3. Matched by Ally Condie - New Author and New Series
    4. Bloodlines by Richelle Mead - New Series
    5. When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt - New Author
    6. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher - New Author
    7. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee - New Author
    8. One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank - New Author

  • Read at least 10 New Adult books (My definition of NA = protagonists are post high school, but under 30)
    1. This Girl by Colleen Hoover
    2. Where She Went by Gayle Forman
    3. Lust for Life by Jeri Smith-Ready 
    4. Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
    5. Bitter Pill by Stacey Kade
    6. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
    7. Breathe, Annie, Breathe By Miranda Kenneally
    • Last year I read three of the books that had been on my TBR list the longest.  I now have 46 books that were all added on September 7, 2010 that would qualify.  I plan on reading at least 3 more of them this year. 
      1. Cruel and Unusual by Patricia Cornwell

    • Finish reading at least 5 series I have already started.  (I have several trilogies with final books I still need to read. ***Challenge Completed***
      1. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater - The Raven Cycle Series
      2. This Girl by Colleen Hoover - The Slammed Series 
      3. Evertrue by Brodi Ashton - Everneath Series
      4. Lust for Life by Jeri Smith-Ready - WVMP Radio Series
      5. The Death Cure by James Dashner - The Maze Runner Series
      6. Ensnared by A.G. Howard - Splintered Series
      7. Elegy by Tara Hudson - Hereafter Series
      8. United We Spy by Ally Carter - The Gallagher Girls Series

    • TBR Challenge.  For this challenge I want to read at least 20 books that were on my TBR list AND were published prior to January 1, 2017. ***Challenge Completed***
      1. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
      2. Everbound by Brodi Ashton
      3. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
      4. This Girl by Colleen Hoover
      5. Evertrue by Brodi Ashton
      6. Where She Went by Gayle Forman
      7. Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout
      8. Lust for Life by Jeri Smith-Ready
      9. Unhinged by A.G. Howard
      10. The Death Cure by James Dashner
      11. Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter
      12. Matched by Ally Condie
      13. Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
      14. Ensnared by A.G. Howard
      15. Elegy by Tara Hudson
      16. Bitter Pill by Stacey Kade
      17. The 6th Target by James Patterson
      18. United We Spy by Ally Carter
      19. Cruel and Unusual by Patricia Cornwell
      20. Until the Beginning by Amy Plum
      21. One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank
      22. Breathe, Annie, Breathe By Miranda Kenneally
      • Achieve a Professional level in the 2017 Prequel and Sequel Challenge hosted by Novel Heartbeat with 76 - 100 points. You can click on the link for the sign up. ***Challenge Completed***
        1. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (Raven Cycle #4_ - 12 pts (finished series + sequel)
        2. Everbound by Brodi Ashton (Everneath #2) - 2 pts for a sequel
        3. This Girl by Colleen Hoover (Slammed #3) -12 pts (finished series + sequel)
        4. Evertrue by Brodi Ashton (Everneath #3) - 12 pts (finished series + sequel)
        5. The Black Circle (39 Clues #5) - 2 points for a sequel
        6. Where She Went by Gayle Forman (If I Stay #2) - 2 pts for a sequel
        7. Lust for Life by Jeri Smith-Ready (WVMP #4) 12 pts (finished series +sequel)
        8. Unhinged by A.G. Howard (Splintered #2) - 2 pts for a sequel
        9. The Death Cure by James Dashner (Maze Runner #3) - 12 pts (finished series + sequel)
        10. Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls #5) 2 pts sequel
        11. Ensnared by AG Howard (Splintered #3) - 12 pts finished series +  sequel
        12. Elegy by Tara Hudson (Hereafter #3) - 12 pts (finished series + sequel)
        13. The 6th Target by James Patterson (Women's Murder Club #6) - 2 pts sequel
        14. United We Spy by Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls #6) - 12 pts completed series
        15. Cruel and Unusual by Patricia Cornwell (Kay Scarpetta #4) - 2 pts sequel
        16. Until the Beginning by Amy Plum (After the End #2) - 2 pts sequel
        17. The Viper's Nest (39 Clues #7) - 2 pts sequel

                                                          Total Points = 112
      • I joined the New Release Challenge hosted by Unconventional Book Views and Books, Movies, Reviews Oh My! My goal is to reach New Release Newbie level with 12 new releases read/reviewed during 2017.  The minimum length for a book to qualify is 100 pages. 
        1. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee- Released 6/27/17

          Monday, November 20, 2017

          COYER Winter Challenge Sign-up

          WinterCoyer2017

          It is almost time for the Winter COYER challenge.  As usual we have three amazing hostesses: Michelle @ Because Reading is Better than Real Life, Stormi @ Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My! and Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun.  The official sing-up post is over at the COYER web-site.

          I have participated in the COYER challenges since the summer of 2015 and always look forward to them.  I was excited to see they are having the List option again.  I participated in the List Challenge last summer and felt like it gave me some added motivation and focus.  ANY book in your possession prior to the start of the challenge will count as long as it was acquired legally.  For every 5 books completed, you can add 5 additional books to the list.  The challenge will run from midnight on December 16th and ends March 9th at midnight.

          They have a couple of additional challenge options, which you can check out on the sign up post, if you aren't interested in completing a list.

          The following is my Winter Reading Challenge List:
          1. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
          2. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
          3. The Becoming of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin
          4. Onyx by Jennifer Armentrout
          5. Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
          6. Crossed by Ally Condie
          7. Don't Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray Kacvinsky
          8. High Five by Janet Evanovich 
          9. Mrs. de Winter by Susan Hill
          10. Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols
          11. The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead
          12. Between the Lines by Tammara Webber
          13. The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead
          14. Once and for All by Sarah Dessen
          15. Invaded by Melissa Landers
          16. The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines
          17. Never Never by Colleen Hoover
          18. The Sixth Man by David Baldacci
          19. The Silver Spoon by StaceyKlemstein (Stacey Kade)
          20. One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake
          21. Dare You by Jennifer Brown
          22. Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter
          23. Replica by Lauren Oliver
          24. Cress by Marissa Meyer
          25. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
          26. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
          27. See How They Run by Ally Carter
          28. Shopaholic Takes Manhattan by Sophie Kinsella
          29. Heartless by Marissa Meyer
          30. Bad Blood by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
          Additional 5 books added after completing 5 books:

          Thursday, November 9, 2017

          Creativity Corner - Halloween 2017 Jordan Spieth Costume


          My 12 year-old son, Preston, is very crafty and enjoys all forms of art.  I decided to start this Creativity Corner feature as a way for us to look back on our projects while sharing ideas with others.

          Preston is a 7th grader and was on his middle school golf team this year.  He decided he wanted to be Jordan Spieth, a professional golfer, for Halloween.  That was easy enough since Jordan is sponsored by Under Armour and my son's closet is full of Under Armour golf clothes.  The only problem, he would have looked like himself walking around asking for free candy. 

          In order to pull off this costume, I decided I would be his caddie and he would have to be Jordan after his Masters victory.  The green jacket with the Under Armour apparel would give it a more thought out appearance.

          I bought the white jumpsuit like the caddies wear at the Masters on Amazon and added "Spieth" to the back with heat transfer vinyl that I cut out on my Cricut.  I also added the #80 to the front since that was his caddie's number the year he won.  I bought the Master's patch on Etsy and attached it with velcro to a blazer I already had.  Everything else we already had, so it was a pretty inexpensive costume this year.

          We stopped at the course for a few pictures before trick or treating.




          "Jordan" made me carry his full set of clubs all evening.  Fortunately, I could take out the 30+ balls he had stashed in that bag.


          This was also the first year Preston designed and carved his pumpkin all by himself. Here is his spooky creation.

          Wednesday, November 8, 2017

          Review: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

          The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (Guide, #1)

          Goodreads Overview:

          Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

          But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

          Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

          My Review:

          I started out reading the book, but I got busy and the library snatched my ebook. I switched to the audio version about 1/3 of the way through because it was available, so this is a combined book/audio review.

          The description of this book was very catchy from the start.  1700's historical fiction, England, Paris, reckless rich boys...  In fact, I really enjoyed the concept along with the characters and their travels.  I loved listening to Monty's accent, the vocabulary, and reliving their lack of innovation.  I also enjoyed hearing about some of the places I have visited in Paris, such as Versailles when it was at its finest and still the home of the royal family.  

          On the other hand, I felt like this book would never end.  If some of the nonsense was removed and the important elements were condensed, the story would have been far more entertaining.  I also felt like some of the major plot points were a bit far fetched towards the end, which contributed to the dragging feeling.

          Overall - I ended up giving it 3 out of 5 stars.  It was better than okay, but it never captivated my attention.

          Wednesday, September 6, 2017

          Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

          Thirteen Reasons Why

          I heard about this book back when it was released, but I really didn't think it was for me.  I wasn't interested in spending my leisure time reading about suicide.  It sounded like something I would have been assigned to read in nursing school vs. something I would select for pleasure.

          When the Netflix series was released it was once again in the news.  My son's middle school principal sent out a message regarding the series and suggested parents watch it with their children as an educational tool, so my husband decided to watch it.  He didn't think it was suitable for our 7th grader, so I decided to read the book.  I can't watch a series or a movie without reading the book.  That just isn't how things should be done.

          I was addicted within the first couple of chapters.  The story is told from both Clay Jensen's and Hannah Baker's points of view.  Clay was the recipient of a mysterious package which contained seven audio tapes created by Hannah Baker.  Clay listens to the tapes throughout the book and we get to hear not only what Hannah experienced the past few years that led up to her ultimate decision, but also Clay's thoughts and interpretations of the events.

          It is easy to see how one small "joke" can snowball into something that soon spirals out of control.  All of the pieces of the puzzle fit together perfectly yet nobody could see how each tiny piece made a huge impact on the entire picture.

          This book wasn't depressing or a tear jerker like I thought it would be.  It showed readers how even small actions can have large consequences.  I don't think anyone will walk away from this book and treat people and situations in the same flippant manner they may have in the past.  

          While the book is Young Adult/Teen, I will not let my 7th grader (12 year old) read this book or watch the series yet.  They are going to discuss suicide in his health class this year, so I'm not questioning that portion of the content.  It is the other adult material that I do not feel is appropriate for middle schoolers.  I would recommend this book for individuals fifteen and over.

          Overall, I thought Thirteen Reasons Why was fantastic.  I couldn't put it down and I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads.  I am anxious to watch the series, but I will be sure to do so when my son is not around.




          Thursday, August 31, 2017

          Bookish Goals Status Update: August 2017


          In an effort to help keep myself on track, I am going to post monthly status updates showing where I stand for each of my 2017 Goals.

          Anything highlighted in gray is currently in progress, but not yet completed.

          • Read and review at least 40 books 
            1. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
            2. Everbound by Brodi Ashton
            3. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
            4. This Girl by Colleen Hoover
            5. Evertrue by Brodi Ashton
            6. The Black Circle by Patrick Carman
            7. Where She Went by Gayle Forman
            8. Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout
            9. Lust for Life by Jeri Smith-Ready
            10. Unhinged by A.G. Howard
            11. The Death Cure by James Dashner
            12. Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter
            13. Matched by Ally Condie
            14. Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
            15. Ensnared by A.G. Howard
            16. Elegy by Tara Hudson
            17. Bitter Pill by Stacey Kade
            18. The 6th Target by James Patterson
            19. United We Spy by Ally Carter
            20. In Too Deep by Jude Watson (39 Clues #6)
            21. When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt
            22. Cruel and Unusual by Patricia Cornwell
            23. Until the Beginning by Amy Plum
            24. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
            25. One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank
          • I am once again participating in the New To You Challenge hosted by The Herd Presents.  I'm going to aim for 12-15 books. Any book over 80 pages qualifies as long as it is new to you.  New author, new genre, new series, etc.
            1. Three Dark Crowns - New Series and New Author
            2. Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout - New Series and New Author
            3. Matched by Ally Condie - New Author and New Series
            4. Bloodlines by Richelle Mead - New Series
            5. When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt - New Author
            6. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher - New Author
            7. One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank - New Author
          • Read at least 10 New Adult books (My definition of NA = protagonists are post high school, but under 30)
            1. This Girl by Colleen Hoover
            2. Where She Went by Gayle Forman
            3. Lust for Life by Jeri Smith-Ready 
            4. Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
            5. Bitter Pill by Stacey Kade

            • Last year I read three of the books that had been on my TBR list the longest.  I now have 46 books that were all added on September 7, 2010 that would qualify.  I plan on reading at least 3 more of them this year. 
              1. Cruel and Unusual by Patricia Cornwell

            • Finish reading at least 5 series I have already started.  (I have several trilogies with final books I still need to read. ***Challenge Completed***
              1. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater - The Raven Cycle Series
              2. This Girl by Colleen Hoover - The Slammed Series 
              3. Evertrue by Brodi Ashton - Everneath Series
              4. Lust for Life by Jeri Smith-Ready - WVMP Radio Series
              5. The Death Cure by James Dashner - The Maze Runner Series
              6. Ensnared by A.G. Howard - Splintered Series
              7. Elegy by Tara Hudson - Hereafter Series
              8. United We Spy by Ally Carter - The Gallagher Girls Series

            • TBR Challenge.  For this challenge I want to read at least 20 books that were on my TBR list AND were published prior to January 1, 2017. ***Challenge Completed***
              1. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
              2. Everbound by Brodi Ashton
              3. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
              4. This Girl by Colleen Hoover
              5. Evertrue by Brodi Ashton
              6. Where She Went by Gayle Forman
              7. Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout
              8. Lust for Life by Jeri Smith-Ready
              9. Unhinged by A.G. Howard
              10. The Death Cure by James Dashner
              11. Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter
              12. Matched by Ally Condie
              13. Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
              14. Ensnared by A.G. Howard
              15. Elegy by Tara Hudson
              16. Bitter Pill by Stacey Kade
              17. The 6th Target by James Patterson
              18. United We Spy by Ally Carter
              19. Cruel and Unusual by Patricia Cornwell
              20. Until the Beginning by Amy Plum
              21. One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank
              • Achieve a Professional level in the 2017 Prequel and Sequel Challenge hosted by Novel Heartbeat with 76 - 100 points. You can click on the link for the sign up. ***Challenge Completed***
                1. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (Raven Cycle #4_ - 12 pts (finished series + sequel)
                2. Everbound by Brodi Ashton (Everneath #2) - 2 pts for a sequel
                3. This Girl by Colleen Hoover (Slammed #3) -12 pts (finished series + sequel)
                4. Evertrue by Brodi Ashton (Everneath #3) - 12 pts (finished series + sequel)
                5. The Black Circle (39 Clues #5) - 2 points for a sequel
                6. Where She Went by Gayle Forman (If I Stay #2) - 2 pts for a sequel
                7. Lust for Life by Jeri Smith-Ready (WVMP #4) 12 pts (finished series +sequel)
                8. Unhinged by A.G. Howard (Splintered #2) - 2 pts for a sequel
                9. The Death Cure by James Dashner (Maze Runner #3) - 12 pts (finished series + sequel)
                10. Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls #5) 2 pts sequel
                11. Ensnared by AG Howard (Splintered #3) - 12 pts finished series +  sequel
                12. Elegy by Tara Hudson (Hereafter #3) - 12 pts (finished series + sequel)
                13. The 6th Target by James Patterson (Women's Murder Club #6) - 2 pts sequel
                14. United We Spy by Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls #6) - 12 pts completed series
                15. Cruel and Unusual by Patricia Cornwell (Kay Scarpetta #4) - 2 pts sequel
                16. Until the Beginning by Amy Plum (After the End #2) - 2 pts sequel

                                                                  Total Points = 112
              • I joined the New Release Challenge hosted by Unconventional Book Views and Books, Movies, Reviews Oh My! My goal is to reach New Release Newbie level with 16 new releases read/reviewed during 2017.  The minimum length for a book to qualify is 100 pages. 

              Wednesday, August 30, 2017

              Queen of the Kitchen: Instant Pot Chicken Broccoli & Rice


              I have been reading rave reviews of the Instant Pot (IP) for quite a while.  Last week I finally broke down and ordered the Instant Pot Ultra from Amazon and it arrived on Friday.

              After taking it out of the box and performing the mandatory water test, I was ready for my first recipe.  I had some chicken in the fridge and found this Chicken, Broccoli and Rice Recipe on I Don't Have Time For That's site. (You can click on the link for the recipe and step by step instructions and pictures).

              The recipe was VERY easy to follow and I had a delicious meal on the table in about 10 minutes with minimal effort or mess in my kitchen.  The most time consuming part of this recipe was cutting the chicken into cubes, which only took a few minutes.

              The only other food prep was chopping some broccoli.  I used my Pampered Chef food chopper, so that was also a breeze.

              During the five minutes the Instant Pot was cooking I was able to clean up the kitchen and I only had a couple of measuring cups and the IP to tend to once we were finished with dinner.

              My husband and I gave it two thumbs up and I've already added it to my recipe collection for future use.