Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Top New-To-Us Authors We Read For The First Time In 2016

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

Top Ten New-To-Us Authors We Read For The First Time In 2016

Bridget's Pick:
Jeff Vandermeer! He wrote the Area X trilogy. I've only read the first two (I really need to go back and finish!) but the prose is stunning. Very different from what I would normally expect from sci-fi. It's beautiful and ethereal and a little dense but definitely worth it. 

Daisy's Picks:

Lyndsay Faye: I LOVED Jane Steele! The writing style was amazing and I can't wait to read more from this author!

Garth Nix: I cannot believe that it took me this long to finally pick up one of Garth Nix's books, but Sabriel was SO GOOD! I'm definitely continuing this series in 2017!

Jamie's Picks:

Sarah Fine: I read The Imposter Queen this year and it was definitely one of my favorite fantasy books of this year! I can't wait to go through her backlist.

Jeff Zentner: His debut novel, The Serpent King, just really blew me away. One of those feelings like "this could be a potential ALL TIME fave author" if all his books do this to me. 

Claire Legrand: GUYS you must read Some Kind of Happiness. I rarely read MG books but this book made her one of my fave new-to-me authors of this year!

Kimberly's Pick:
Steven Rowley: I read Lily and the Octopus this year and... It was an incredible experience. I reviewed it on the blog this summer. 

Julia's Pick:
Kelly Bowen: I read Duke of My Heart on a whim earlier this year when I was trying to be better about getting into reading again. I have been leery with trying new historical romance authors because I have been put off by so many, but I actually quite enjoyed it. So I read the second one, and like that too. Now I have got the third one on my radar... 

What are your favorite authors this year? 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Help Kimberly meet her Goodreads goal!

Okay fellow book lovers. I need your help. I need to read 16 books before the end of the year. I'm SEVEN books behind schedule!! How did that even happen? Okay, so I hit several reading slumps this year, that's how it happened. It's been a weird year.

What are some of your favorite quick reads? Novellas? Graphic novels? Tell me all about them!  Help me reach my goal of 100 books this year!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Holiday Gift Guide Freebie

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Hey there! Jana here. :) Did you survive the Thanksgiving weekend? We BARELY did, which is why we're taking a little break this week. Please excuse us as we spend a little extra time laying on the couch recovering from mashed potato and pie overload! We'll be back next week. :)

Did you get any awesome deals on Black Friday or Cyber Monday? What gifts are on your radar for the upcoming holiday season? We're excited to jump around and see what creative gift list ideas you've come up with this week.

Friday, November 25, 2016

A Gilmore Revival Marathon

Unless you live under a rock, you surely know what today is.  :)  When news of the impending revival was released, it went like wildfire through many a friendship circle.  My very good friend and I decided to watch it together.  In true Gilmore fashion, we planned our food.  I added food to it (I'm getting to double dip a bit because my boyfriend's family is coming into town later today and I needed to cook for them anyway).  I decided to write a post about it and update it as we watched or until I got too drunk to continue updating it.  This post will include food eaten, books referenced, and NO SPOILERS!  It will likely hold general impressions, like "After this episode, I was left feeling..."  But DO NOT WORRY about me blowing major plot points.  If you are commenting, I ask that you kindly do the same.

The revival experience began last night.  My friend met my boyfriend and I at my uncle's house for some post Thanksgiving meal drinking.  We ran to a grocery store on the way back to my house for her portion of the food.  We watched some football.  I continued drinking.  Then my lovely boyfriend said he would excuse himself so we could watch a couple of episodes.  We each picked our favorite episode.  I chose season one's "Love and War and Snow," while she picked "They Shoot Gilmores, Don't They" from season three.  Then we watched the finale.  We wrapped it up around 1:00am.  The new episodes wouldn't drop until 3:00, so we decided to go to bed for a while and wake up at 7:00.  I'm up.  I got me some water and some allergy meds.  I'm ready to go!  

The last time we saw Lorelai, Rory, and the gang, I was just finishing up my freshman year of college.  I totally felt Rory's sense of "OK, now what do I do?"  However, during the entire run of the show, I felt like I could relate way more to Lorelai.  The daughter who had to do things the hard way.  Anyway, I finished college, went to grad school, took a year off, and started law school (currently in my second year).  From what I've seen of the previews for the revival episodes, Rory's is feeling completely adrift--it looks like she's between jobs, not in a relationship, feeling rootless, like she's just marking time.  I TOTALLY GET THAT!  I always thought that by now I'd be way more settled down and rooted.  So, it's odd, but maybe in this revival, I'll relate more to Rory.  We shall see.

OK.  So, my friend, Kelly, is up.  Finally.  We're about to get started.  I'm still not ready for food.  But I have an awesome looking breakfast casserole waiting for me.  

Let's get started!

Episode 1

It was weird seeing everyone again after so long!  But it also felt like coming home again, in a way.  The first episode is "Winter."

Books Referenced:
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Leaves of Grass
On the Road
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Not as many books as I would have thought!  But these are good ones.

Food consumed:
Powdered Donuts
Breakfast Casserole

It took a while before I was awake enough to eat food, but I managed to scarf down some donuts.  Then I moved onto the breakfast casserole.  Super yummy!  I highly recommend the recipe.

We've both expressed some level of disappointment that now the revival is 25% over.

Quick bathroom break, then onto the next episode!

Episode 2

"Spring"  Ah!  This episode!  This is what I was talking about!  I love how it's all coming together.  And now we're sad that it's half over.

Books Referenced:
Death of a Salesman
Edith Wharton
Fiddler on the Rood
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Art of War
Dorothy Parker
David Foster Wallace
Cloud Atlas

So many more books this episode!  And I love the authors.  This is shaping up to be a pretty good reading list.  :)

Food Consumed:
More breakfast casserole.
More coffee.
More powdered donuts.
And we broke into the pie and ice cream.  :)

I guess we are on to summer!

Episode 3

Books Referenced:
Anna Karenina
Games of Thrones
The Godfather
Edward Albie/Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Nora Ephron/I Feel Bad about My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman

Food Eaten:
Frozen pizza.  :)

The plot thickens!

Episode 4

Books Referenced:
Eat Pray Love
The Raven
Picture of Dorian Gray
David Mamet
Little House in the Big Woods
True Grit
Alice in Wonderland

Food Eaten:
Not much.  But I did make a pot of chili.

Ummmm...wtf?!  We're definitely going to need some more episodes!

Overall, I think there was a pretty good reading list to be gleaned from the episodes.  But there weren't as many books as I would have liked.  Nor did they reference some really good recent picks.  I was kind of surprised by how many classics were mentioned.

I'll have to watch the episodes again to see how many books I missed!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Ten Things We Are Thankful for this Year

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

Thanksgiving freebie -- tell us what you are thankful for! Books you are thankful for! 

We ladies at the broke and the bookish are thankful for...

Lori is thankful for...
Dry Shampoo--Makes my hair look great, smell great, and let's me be lazy. Win-win-win.

Reducing my wardrobe for neutrals--I can throw together a great outfit with no thought and next to no time. Love it!

Jamie is thankful for...
My dog Finn's health: we had a real big scare with his health this Fall but I'm so thankful that two months later he's doing so much better and is back to himself.

New friends: this past year has brought me a group of girls who I couldn't be more thankful for and have spent so much time with this year. They are the best and I feel supported and loved and encouraged and I just have the best time with them. Plus I love that our husbands all get along so well. It's been one of the best things of 2016.

Bridget is thankful for...

A great job with (mostly) great coworkers who I can actually be friends with. This has been pretty rare for me in most jobs but I really like the people I work with and we hang out occasionally and it's nice to actually have friends. It's been really difficult for me to make friends post-college thanks to introversion and general awkwardness. So yay work friends!

That we will be leaving North Carolina in less than a year. I don't know yet where we're going (we'll find out early next year and move sometime between July and September) but I am so tired of this place. I know that conflicts with what I said above somewhat, but mostly I'm tired of the south itself--it's too hot and too many people introduce themselves and then ask what church you go to >_> and I am ready to be somewhere that is less intrusive like that. Very thankful that our two years here are more than halfway over!

Julia is thankful for...
All of the friends that I have that make me get up and out of the house and hang out with them. I feel like year 29 would have been lonelier without them. I had friends before and I went out with people before, but this year I have just been crazy social. It's nice, even if it takes me away from books. :)

The fact that I have a great job with people I enjoy working with, that gives me the flexibility to take time off when I need to and travel the world when I want to (and sometimes when and where I dont want to). 

My health and the continued health of my family. We are all still alive and moving, despite missing a few pieces, or not being able to eat a few (dozen) things anymore. Overall I can't complained and am blessed.  

Jana is thankful for...
My mom and my sister, who are my biggest supporters and loudest cheerleaders. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Your Ultimate Gilmore Girls Playlist

As I'm sure you all know, the new episodes of Gilmore Girls are coming out on November 25th!! I'm anxiously counting down the days and in fact I may or may not have decided to watch the series AGAIN (for the...fourth? fifth? time) on Netflix so I'll be ready when the new episodes premier after Thanksgiving. Yes, I probably have a problem.

Anyway, we've all seen the posts about Rory's favorite books and all that good stuff, but I'm going in a different direction today. Gilmore Girls has a great soundtrack, and I've discovered some of my favorite songs through watching. Some of these songs come at the most pivotal moments of the series, so if you haven't watched or finished it yet, beware the spoilers below!

1. There She Goes - La's 

This is the perfect song to open the series. This might seem a little trite, but the Gilmore girls are so admired by so many people that it seems appropriate to me. Stars Hollow seems to center around them in a lot of ways (though of course, they are the stars of the show, so that might have something to do with it).

2. One Line - PJ Harvey

As weird as Dean got later, this is such a sweet scene. It took a while for Rory to be able to admit her feelings for him, and I was so happy for her (and him). Good song, too!

3. Reflecting Light - Sam Phillips

This is one of my favorite moments in the entire series (and also one of my favorite songs!). Lorelai accompanies Luke to Liz's wedding, and he surprises her with his dance skills...and they seem to surprise each other with their slow embrace. Oh man, happy tears every time. LORELAI AND LUKE 5EVER

4. Then She Appeared - XTC

Sigh. I freaking love this song, and it's perfect for the scene—Rory and Jess's first official "we're together" kiss—but I just can't get behind Rory and Jess as a couple. I do have to admit that he grows on me each time I watch the series, but he's so closed off; Rory deserves someone who actually treats her well, and Jess just doesn't treat her right. This is still a great scene and a great song, though.

5. I Think It's Going to Rain Today - Claudine Longet

After Logan's father tells Rory she doesn't have what it takes to make it in journalism, Rory flips and, with Logan's help, steals a yacht, drops out of Yale, and subsequently moves into her grandparents' poolhouse. This song plays as Lorelai watches Rory unpacking her books. Very pretty song but such a sad scene :(

6. I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston

During the final controversial season, Lorelai sings this to Rory—and then to Luke—at karaoke night. That little shrug at the second verse gets me every time.


I know there are probably plenty that I'm missing. Which songs would you add?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Julia Learns to Cook With Blue Apron: Seared Chicken and Fregola Sarda

I have a confession to make. I’ve been alive a bazillion years at this point and can’t cook. I am awful at it. I measure recipes by how many times I have to open a window to let out the smoke. Thus I eat out or eat terribly and I wanted to change that.

One day I was browsing through Facebook and I got an ad for Blue Apron. It was $30 off my first order, so I decided why not? I’ve cooked four meals with them now and so far have really enjoyed it!

The first meal I cooked was Seared Chicken and Fregola Sarda with Salsa Verde, corn and tomato. I figured that these were ingredients at least that I had heard of, chicken, corn and the like, so let’s start with something easy.

What I learned from this experience was to read the steps before I wanted to start cooking. I added an hour onto my time by just being stumped by things. For instance – step one was preparing the ingredients. Awesome. Wash produce. Check. Heat some water. Got it. Chop the capers… wait what? Chop the capers? They are like the size of my pink nail, but round. Ok I can figure this out. Five confused minutes later I had chopped capers. Then things got really interested.

Finely chop the parsley leaves and stems. Okay. I don’t think I have ever used fresh herbs. So this was scary. I just knife them? With a big knife? Okay. Peel and mince the garlic. This one required a YouTube search. I stared at the garlic confused about how to get cloves out of it. But helpful video was helpful and I ended up with a garlic paste at the end (which was intended). The same sort of shenanigans followed with cutting corn off a cob and dicing a tomato.

Now it’s time to actually cook. Boiling pasta? Finally, something I am a master at. Throwing things in a pan and stirring until it looks cooked? Got that! Searing chicken… well. That was at least entertaining. And I didn’t completely dry out the chicken.

The dish was delicious in the end and I had enough for the next day’s lunch. I felt like a freaking goddess thinking that I had cooked such an awesome dish. It was so nice to have everything I needed in just the right portion sizes. The only downside is you have such a small window to cook everything in since it’s all pretty much thawed when it arrives in your box.

I was actually really surprised how much I liked the capers Salsa Verde. Also how delicious it tasted as leftovers.

I am excited for the next couple of recipes that are currently being shipped for me next week. Stayed tuned for more when I talk about the salmon disaster and the lick the plate good chicken.

Have any of you used Blue Apron or the like? What do you think of it? 

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